Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Where Is the Joy? Part One

As I mentioned in my last post, I’m going to take up the question in the next few posts as to why I write what I write on this blog concerning patriarchal issues. What hit me the hardest as Jon and I chattered the miles away was the fact that even though Jon often sees where I’m coming from on these issues, he couldn’t quite see why I go to such a length to keep plugging away at it. In fact, his key question, which shook me to the core, was, “Where is the joy?”

It became apparent to me as we talked that I do not do a good job of showing the primary benefits of understanding and applying the key patriarchal text of the Bible in the traditional fashion. I’ve hit home a number of times on the fact that the traditional way of interpreting the Bible in this area is still right, but I’ve not done a good job of showing why it matters.

So where’s the Joy?

First, I need to express that I view everything in this world as under the curse of God because of Adam’s rebellion. This curse we are under has destroyed everything. Everything in life, even all of creation, has been subjected to futility by God because of one small sin: the eating of a piece of forbidden fruit. Everywhere we look we see the result of the fall. Every house you pass as you walk through your neighborhood has been cursed and is suffering from untold trauma.

The effects of that curse are mind-boggling and heartbreaking. Home sweet home is none other than a foretaste of the hell to come for committing treason against the High King of Heaven. Men who were created to care for, provide for, and protect their wives and children are prone to anger and frustration. They strike out at the very ones they are required to love. Wives, who were created to nurture and support, are embittered against their overbearing husbands and become themselves manipulative and spiteful; hating both their husbands and children. Whether you can see it or not, there is much pain everywhere.

Bob Dylan, as only he can, captures the effects of the curse in this song:
Everything Is Broken (Bob Dylan © 1989 Special Rider Music)

Broken lines, broken strings
Broken threads, broken springs
Broken idols, broken heads
People sleepin' in broken beds
Ain't no use jivin'
Ain't no use jokin'
Everything is broken.

Broken bottles, broken plates
Broken switches, broken gates
Broken dishes, broken parts
Streets are filled with broken hearts
Broken words never meant to be spoken
Everything is broken.

Seem like every time you stop an' turn around
Someone else just hit the ground.

Broken cutters, broken saws
Broken buckles, broken laws
Broken bodies, broken bones
Broken voices on broken phones
Take a deep breath, feel like you're chokin'
Everything is broken.

Every time you leave and go off someplace
Things fall to pieces in my face.

Broken hands on broken plows
Broken treaties, broken vows
Broken pipes, broken tools
People bendin' broken rules
Hounddog howlin', bull frog croakin'
Everything is broken.

It’s often hard for Christians, especially those who grew up in new creation families, to understand the extent of the pain that is all around them. But as we meditate on the depths of our own sin and the terrible effects it has on those we love, as we meditate on the horrendous circumstances that most of those that we come into contact are dealing with, our eyes are opened to the dire need of our day.

It is precisely at the point of suffering where the kind mercy and grace of God is revealed. He has not left us without a Savior from all our sin and sorrow. And this salvation is not merely future. He is pouring out great blessings upon those who were under His curse. Part of the blessing is the reversing of the curse and the restoration of his good creation. This is the gospel, the good news: Jesus Christ has come to save sinners. The good news brings great joy; in fact, it is good tidings of great joy.

When I speak of patriarchy, I see it as that perfect divinely ordered way of life that is the turning back of the curse. Patriarchy, as governed and ordained by God, is one of the primary results of the essential goodness and blessing of the gospel. It is the only Holy Spirit wrought way of life and therefore it comes upon those who have been born again as a great joy worthy of much thanksgiving.

When the good news of Christ death and resurrection breaks in upon those who have been suffering under the curse of God all their lives long, husbands begin to really act in a Christ-like fashion. They turn away from wrath and anger. They begin to provide and protect those that God has entrusted to them. They become the loving father that they were designed to be. Perfect? No. The effects of the curse linger. But wives rejoice with exceeding joy when their husbands begin to love them.

I write about patriarchy because I want to see an outpouring of healing and joy flood our churches. I really do believe that this is one of the primary instruments through which the world will recognize the work of God in our lives. It will make both Jews and Gentiles jealous and cause them to seek out our Great Savior. If He is strong to save our families, He may be just strong enough to save theirs, even unto all eternity.


maryannie said...

Hi Chris, It's your cousin Mary Anne.

I've also wondered why you spend so much time and energy on the patriarchy idea. What do you think about the fact that Christ never spent any time on this in His teaching? That's why I'm confused by your statement that patriarchy "is one of the primary results of the essential goodness and blessing of the gospel." I get patriarchy from the Old Testament and from Paul, but not so much from Christ...

Also, for better or for worse, I don't know many women in this day and age who are "jealous" (as you predict they will be at the bottom of your post) of women in patriarchical homes/societies. Yes, everyone longs for a stable, loving family life, but probably not one that with the implications that the word "patriarchical" implies.

I'm really looking forward to reading your upcoming posts!
Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

-Mary Anne

Christopher said...

Hey Mary Anne,

It was good to see you back in Wheaton. I hope the wedding went well. Maybe you could send us a few photos of the happy couple.

Thanks for hearing me out on this one. If you don't mind, I'll take up the OT - NT (Paul) question in my next post. I think my answer to that question addresses your observation that women are not all that interested in all that is implied by the word patriarchy.

Much love to you.


Fr. Bill said...

"Where's the joy?" I wonder if this challenge would be presented to someone agitating against a sewage treatment plant's effluents being poured into the resevoir from which the city's drinking water is taken? Sheesh.

But, you've nailed this for sure: those who don't understand your intensity don't get it, they do not understand where anti-patriarchy leads. Or, if they do, they think that destination is wonderful, rather than hellish.

I'll be checking in to see what you have to say here. And, without pre-empting your thoughts, I'd offer two observations about how/why people who don't understand begin to understand.

1. Explaining things to them is almost always a fruitless task.

The essence of the apologia for patriarchy is explanatory: "here is how/why you'll be blessed by embracing patriarchy; here is how/why you'll be cursed for rejecting patriarchy."

You will find sympathy for those who dimiss your apologia when you consider how often you (moi includded, of course) have dismissed others' apologia for anything in the Bible.

For all that, explaining things is a mandate for Christians compliant with the Bible's teaching on anything.

2. Suffering has power to create eyes that see and ears that hear. So long as those who reject patriarchy and embrace egalitarianism experience no suffering for that choice, they are immune to any exhortation to repent. Indeed, urging them to repent is guaranteed to generate persecution from them (cf. Stephen's sermon, for starters).

I look forward to how you'll proceed in this project