It never stops. Every where I turn, I keep encountering the same blindness, though expressed in different ways. And the people who wallow in that blindness rarely seize the hand offered so they can be pulled out. Mercy cannot be forced.
As you might expect, the majority of my family and friends — virtual or otherwise — are not exploring the same spiritual territory as I am. It doesn’t end the relationship, just limits it. So I end up very much closer in spirit with a lot of folks I’ll probably never see on this earth, and rather distant from those I’ve encountered in meat space.
After a few years as online friends, I actually met Jason once when he came to visit relatives near where I lived at the time. We were already moving in different directions spiritually, but fellowship doesn’t require agreement on every point of faith. He must answer his own conscience. I’ve bluntly told him he’s too Westernized and not Hebraic enough, that his epistemology is not like mine at all. He recognizes something of the nature of our differences, but I doubt he has time and resources to follow me closely. That is, in our sharing, he seems to acknowledge nothing I teach. There is no reason to end a solid friendship of this kind, but there are limitations on it, so we share things on a lower level. It’s not less love, just less involvement.
For you, my dear parishioners, I would endeavor to explain how to answer the question my friend Jason raises, because my answer is nothing like his. For him to adopt my approach would probably destroy much of his world, to be honest. He lives and works in a different environment, and his answer is typical of his associates in the ministry. Jason knows that I love him as a brother. Nothing in this is meant to castigate him personally, but to examine the tradition he represents.
That tradition confuses the Two Realms. It remains mired in the Aristotelian assumptions of the Enlightenment. Virtually all of evangelical Christianity is essentially an expression of the Enlightenment, which itself was the full awakening of self-conscious Aristotelian reasoning deeply mixed with Germanic tribal moral mythology. In blunt terms, it defines Jehovah in character more like Zeus/Odin than the Hebrew God. The Enlightenment is alien to Scripture and you can’t use that approach to get a valid understanding of the Bible. It only pretends to be biblical.
The sound of Hebrew pleading with God for mercy over sins is simply proper protocol. It recognizes the whole prerogative is God’s. You don’t presume upon God, but you do carry the confidence to call upon Him in the first place.
Moreover, that Old Testament narrative refers to things on the moral level of the Law of Moses. It’s all about conduct that needs refining, and represents the need of the mind to learn how to obey the Spirit. But it is so very hard to put into words how the Enlightenment religion of evangelicals creates an entirely artificial concept of the Spirit Realm. There is some evil and intractable insistence that it must be rational. You cannot convince an Enlightenment soul that “rational” is not the pinnacle of truthfulness. Rather, it is a very long way short of it, and a really crappy substitution for it. Rational is the best man can do and woefully short of where God can be found. It is blasphemous to assume or state that God is reasonable, that anything we say of Him must be rational.
So we have Jason describing Jesus like a modern Western evangelical. Not because of the words chosen, but his image is false because of all the unstated assumptions behind it. It assumes too much that “born again” means something it cannot, that we can relax and not worry about our sins because we got fire insurance to keep us out of Hell. While spiritual birth does mean an eternal change in our standing with God, as described it has nothing to do with the Old Testament approach to God for mercy. This is where we see the worst confusion between the Two Realms. The question of moral conduct is not one of eternal standing. The Old Testament worshipers were not worried about Hell in that sense, but worried about missing out on the moral treasures available in this life.
And that is still a very valid concern in the New Testament. Do you think the Apostles wasted all that ink on better behavior for nothing? Was it not Jesus Himself who pressed for the necessity of changing our behavior to match the ineffable meaning of the Law, which Law was a parable of higher truth? The kind of worry that Jason addresses never arose in the minds of the Hebrew people. That sense of fear is entirely a product of Germanic mythology, foreign to the Hebrew culture. Don’t read that back into the Bible, folks. They didn’t live in the dreary world of Beowulf.
Reading those heathen cultural assumptions back into Scripture is, in one sense, the one flaw that ties together all evangelicals. It’s the wrong religion and the wrong god.
Let’s talk about sex.
Like everything else, sometimes you have to back off completely outside of things in order to line up the proper approach, the proper line of sight so the essence of things becomes clear. Even if you stumble upon this blog without having read a single previous post, the title and subtitle should indicate something of the priorities here. When I talk about sex, it’s a matter of placing it in the perspective of what God intended. We might argue about God and what He intended, but you should at least get the idea I’m pretending to know what He intended for me to say about it.
So let’s back off — waaaaaay off. Absent the Curse of the Fall, we lived in the glow of God’s glory. Nothing could possibly benefit us more than reflecting His glory as Creator. The story of the Fall is something about how we no longer reflect His glory instinctively. Somehow we decided to seize some of it for ourselves. That’s also the parable about how Satan came to be fallen, so it’s no surprise our biggest problem is that we too readily agree with Satan’s viewpoint. That means we rely on something inside ourselves to discover and define morality without direct reliance on God for the answer. Having that “divine spark” means nothing unless we remain in direct and constant reliance on Our Maker.
The fundamental task of humanity after the Fall is breaking the Curse. Breaking that curse is a simple matter of reversing the bad decision that brought us here. It means returning to God’s glory. The problem is that we are still fallen and do not easily absorb what that means. We have moved away from the place where we knew it by instinct, so God works with us in our current sad state. He gives us a hint of what His glory means by offering a revelation of moral conduct. Yes, He is the one who defines morality; it’s simply consistent with His divine character.
Part of what’s going on here is that, while the Curse has a snowball effect across time, so does revelation drawing us in the opposite direction. The earliest humans bore an entirely different cultural context that was much closer to our divine origins, but over the centuries humans have moved farther and farther away. The demands of glory have also risen to a higher pitch. In the climax of history, God offered one final revelation of His moral demands in His Son. The idea was that we absorb His human character so as to fulfill the Father’s glory. It can’t possibly be any clearer for us than the Person of Jesus, while we have continued our long slide even farther.
Without chasing the meaty rabbits of how radically different our intellectual assumptions about reality are from those of Jesus the man, I simply note that we today in our Western society are painfully alien to that Man of Men. We think we know what His followers wrote, but we as Westerners are not even on the same planet with the folks who left us the Scripture. I’m looking at you, Christian churches and leaders, when I say that. Organized religion is generally hostile to the truth even as it claims to teach it. You waste a lot of resources proclaiming your unique adherence to God’s Word in the face of opposition (often imaginary), but you are all alike in getting it wrong for the same basic reason. I’ll demonstrate by pointing out the radical shift in thinking it requires to see sex as God taught it in His revelation.
The Laws of Moses reflect God’s viewpoint on human nature. The social expectations were not simply quaint reflections of barbaric times long ago. When Hebrew people obeyed the Law of Moses, there are some elements merely contextual, but we tend to dismiss the whole thing without obeying Paul’s warning to rightly divide the Old Testament. You’ll notice his letters describe a limited adherence to Moses in some ways in how churches were to behave. Dismissing Paul as a Hebrew fuddy-duddy is dismissing God.
The masculine portion of overcoming the curse is dominance. Adam refused to lead Eve away from temptation, so the corrective is some measure of masculine dominance — get off your lazy butt and take the moral leadership. Not because such dominance is a part of God’s glory, but it is the path through this cursed existence back to His glory. Eve wasn’t evil; it wasn’t her job to discern where that moral boundary stood. The feminine portion of the curse is supporting the dominant male. But that dominance is fundamentally moral in nature. Adam should dominate by resisting the Devil’s intrusion in the mission, and Eve should faithfully support the mission in teamwork with her man.
She doesn’t decide the shape of civilization. He needs her input on things he does because the mission has a distinct division of labor, but the final decision is his before God. The two are one team with one goal.
Of course, the implications are far bigger than that, but dominance and support is the distilled essence in our language of what it takes to work our way back to God’s glory. As you might expect, our long descent into ultimate darkness and the End of All Things is reflected in how thoroughly our culture militates against that basic understanding. The act of balancing where we are against where we ought to be is the art form of following Christ.
Women do not define manhood. Paul said to cool their nattering in church and let the Word speak. Eve was deceived, not Adam; it’s a question of divine assignment. The modern Western Christian trend with calls to “man up” is just heathen feminism in disguise. Women are supposed to recognize moral manhood when they see it manifested in a man’s commitment to bring God glory according to the unique calling of that man.
The strongest, most dominant man is the one who tells the Devil to slink back into Hell. That is, he first dominates his own sinful nature. While that may well also manifest in things like hitting the gym and looking all manly, and learning to exercise whatever amount of charisma he can muster, the requirement for spiritual women is to discern the underlying truth that this particular man is truly strong against sin first and foremost. Second, he should be busy in some mission can understand, a mission that calls her to support him. He will most certainly at times be strong enough to tell her “no” and leave her standing there if she isn’t ready to follow his lead. The assumption is not that he’s always right, but that it’s his job to decide in the end because God said so.
The supportive woman understands her greatest power is serving on her man’s team. There is a lot of room for negotiation. Most people understand what’s wrong with the secular American brand of sex and marriage. Yet they probably can’t comprehend how the bulk of what’s sold as American Christian sex and marriage is little more than a slightly older, more conservative version of the exact same Anglo-Saxon heathen cultural mythology. The entire range of Western Post-Enlightenment thinking about marriage is wrong, totally wrong. But even when you can demonstrate how completely foreign it is to Scripture, all you get are blank looks from those nice church folks. What passes for Western Christian womanhood is pagan in the worst sense of the term, because it retains the fundamental assumptions that make modern American feminism evil.
Our men are conditioned to focus on the lust of the eyes and of the flesh. They are taught to pretend they aren’t paying attention to that, but I can promise you that pink Cadillacs and the glitzy cosmetic barn paint that they represent do not convey God’s way of projecting femininity. Just as manhood is not confined merely to muscles but morals, so womanhood is not enticing by cultural sexual attraction. Here’s a clue: It’s the male peacock who struts his stuff and the females who choose their mates. We have it backwards.
Men, you do not pick your woman. That’s because you have zero capability to choose wisely until way too late in life. She’s ready to make babies by the time you have your first clue where God might be leading you. Our society frowns on men waiting until they are ready and taking a young wife, and we have zero cultural background for a community mate selection system, so we are left with letting her choose her man. She is better equipped to work out where she fits best, so the men need to keep their focus of projecting moral dominance. If you pursue the gal, it’s virtually guaranteed you won’t lay hold of God’s best blessings in marriage. Make her choose you. She will let you know if she is ready to take you on. How that communication takes place is subject to a very wide range of variables. You may be the one to initiate all the conversation and social contacts, but it’s up to her make the first signals, however subtle they may be.
That’s how you glorify God; sex on that path can’t get any better in this life.
English is hardly the best language to arise from human intellectual chaos, but it’s the one I know best. Part of that knowledge includes a lot of study in etymology and chasing out the roots through other variations in the Germanic family of languages.
My own name became a point of curiosity. The middle name is the one I use most: Edward. It’s an Anglo-Saxon variation on “warden” that implies noble status, and somehow we got the French version “guardian,” as well. It was a prophetic choice my parents made, because I’m bound under the divine call to keep an eye on things. For example, my complaint about the corporation managing the rental property where I live was more about warning that they were completely out of bounds from God’s moral justice. If a servant of God intently prays about a moral issue, we should expect God to take action that won’t be pleasant for those who resist His justice.
Naturally, a prominent theme in my ministry here is the warning that we are falling under a deepening tribulation. It’s tribulation and suffering as a direct result of moral blindness in our world. The whole meaning of prophecy starts with moral clarity. That I no longer occupy the prophet’s office has no bearing on the prophetic root nature of my calling and ministry. I prayed often from my youth for wisdom and insight into human nature, while praying also to really understand what God had in mind for us. You can debate whether that prayer has been answered, but I have little choice but to assume some measure of what I sought has been granted. Mostly it’s the matter that I cannot shut up about moral issues.
In my mind, morality is the frame of reference God offered in His revelation. Simply knowing God compels us to engage the task of moral shepherd. To know God is to be consumed by His message. Each of us has some task in which we guard our fellow humans from folly — “folly” defined as moral failure. We are each called to communicate in some fashion that particular perspective on moral truth that God gives us. We can only tell what we have experienced.
Unfortunately, the medium for me is written English, followed by spoken English. Not so much in high artistry of either form, but in full reliance on the power of the Holy Spirit to use such limited talent as I have. With deep sadness I note that Anglo-Saxon morality, the very foundation of our Western society, is perverse. If you think Anglo-Saxons are brutal enough in raiding and political conquest, it’s their tongue that has truly taken over most of the world, though quite by accident. Somehow English became the default for telecommunications and radio traffic first, and now the default for computer software. It’s not the best choice, but we are stuck with it through the accidents of history.
It comes with a vast ocean of handicaps. The cultural orientation behind English is easily the worst thing to be foisted on humanity. We are a very long way from the dreary and morose mind of folks who gave us Beowulf, but what we have today assumes the basic truth of that ancient world. The cheerful amorality of Greco-Roman pretense is a thin cover over the fundamental fear that life just might be totally meaningless despite all we might achieve. And while that much is true, it’s the basic assumption that, if there is anyone above us, they hardly could be bothered to care, that fires all the very most misguided efforts of activism and frantic Victorian moral mythology.
So for all our raiding of other languages’ horde of terminology to give such a vast range of delicate flavor to every possible thought, we have nothing — nothing — for describing the God who cares enough to send His Son. The words of the English translation of Scripture you get, but the underlying otherworldly meaning is simply not available in English. There’s a vast treasure house of meaning that is discarded by the choice to use English. This is what made Anglo-Saxon mythology such a quick ally with Aristotelian rejection of a higher realm; it’s the reason the Enlightenment still dominates human assumptions today.
So while all this struggle to bring His revelation to life is serious business, with eternal consequences, you have to see the whimsy in allowing English and the attendant Western Civilization to flourish and dominate for such a long time. Within this moral wasteland, I stand in Pillar of Fire — the truth of God manifested in this world — trying to shepherd souls and warn them of the traps all around us. It’s a miracle anyone hears at all.
Close your eyes.
Climb down inside your soul. If you don’t find God there, you certainly won’t find Him outside of yourself. There will surely be a lot of conflict and question about how well you listen to Him there, but the principle remains: No one can prove to another objectively that there is a god.
That’s because the concept of objective truth is the first and biggest lie of all. Ultimate Truth is inherently subjective. If you don’t have a grasp on it, and it doesn’t have a grasp on you, then it might as well not be there. It’s not enough to conceive of something external that is trustworthy. That’s just a basic lie we all absorb from our environment. It’s the most egregious, heinous deception in human history.
Further, if what I splash on these virtual pages doesn’t call your soul, then it’s just wasted electrons. I strive to reach past your ingrained conditioning to help you find your own identity, to shed the imposed mythology of others. The motives of those who shaped you is not the question; it’s a question of whether it helped you. It’s more the motives of those who were behind them and behind the story they told you.
If your ultimate value is the glory of the Heavenly Father, then it’s for certain you will end up in the right place. You can’t possibly be what you were yesterday, and the functional truth of that time and place is no longer functional today. But the center of things most certainly is not outside of you; the center is you and Him together. He cannot possibly be known indirectly, as some external fact. So in that sense, the center of the universe is inside of you. If you start from any other center, you will be off-center. You’ll be blinded by a false line of sight toward the truth.
And just about the only thing you can really discuss about God is His moral requirements for living here and now. Such is the substance of all revelation. You will surely know Him in ways you can’t discuss with anyone else, but what you can share with another is His demands on you. There is surely a commonality there, because a critical part of His demands is that we discuss them. His revelation assumes there has to be something we can share with at least one other in this world.
I can’t tell you what’s really going on with this Ebola scare. I’m not a medical expert, but I am an expert in government immorality. No matter how dark and evil the portrait I draw of those with political power, it won’t be half the story. I’m not party to the medical facts, but I know for certain that those who do know them aren’t the only voices we hear. The biggest liars are those with the power to compel us to act on their narrative on the pain of violent penalties. The people in positions of earthly power and authority are hardly unanimous in what they tell us. Having seen that every one of them has lied in the past, and lied egregiously, why should we trust them on this?
If God intends to end your life with Ebola or something else with a different name, you have no power to argue. If God intends to keep you around a while longer, no power on earth can harm you. That’s the ultimate truth of life here on earth.
So what should you do? Turn back inside yourself for the truth. Extrapolate from your moral convictions. By no means should you listen to the mainstream scolding of people around you, nor their fear mongering. Could it mean you suffer and die? And what of that? Death is just a circumstance in the Kingdom of Heaven.
If the truth of what you should do is not written on your soul — inside your eyelids, as it were — then you won’t find it anywhere.
This is a two-part hymn typically taking place before the altar in the Temple. In the first five verses, the congregation sings over the offering as the priests perform their ritual duties. It’s not simply the worshipers singing to someone in particular, but it’s a prophetic song to anyone who hears. In the rest of the verses, the priest answers the congregation after the sacrifice has been completed.
First, the people call on God to be present and attentive to this sacrifice. Each verse is an example of parallelism, either an equivalent statement or an extension of the first line. May God be with you in difficult times and keep track of your life from His royal throne in Zion. May He eagerly welcome your tribute, because to turn it away meant you have lost His divine favor. The business of heart’s desire is not the same as just having a wish or sense of need, but a matter of faith calling to the mind what God has already said He would do in His Word. Any such prayer includes an expectation that they will surely rejoice when things turn out well. It’s much the same as reminding themselves to pull up the celebration sheet music for the next performance.
Starting in verse 6, either the priest or the king responds with an affirmation. There is no doubt that God, according to His own revealed nature, will support His mission of truth in this world. The whole point of Israel’s existence as a nation and people was to demonstrate and manifest the moral truth of God, to be a living revelation. They would hardly be Israel the kingdom without Israel the mission. And while Israel eventually did use chariots and horses, they never forgot that it was God who gave the victory. That is, when they did forget, they were no longer Israel the People of Jehovah because they were no longer Israel the mission of revelation. People who trust in mere military might would eventually fall, but the mission of God never fails. It is God’s own nature to promote His revelation through those who obey it.