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Archive for January, 2009

Through What Lens Do You View God?

I must admit my bias. After many years of study, I have decided to give God the benefit of the doubt. Maybe when I meet the Creator He will not be all I thought He was. But, if you have more of a negative view of God which may turn out to be false, you may be wasting valuable time getting to know the Creator. The Bible, like any literature written long ago, can be difficult to discern the exact meaning the writer was intending with their words. When you read the Bible and stumble across something that makes you shake your head or wonder if you can worship a God thus as this, do you shut the Book in disgust or confusion? Maybe, just maybe, if you explore a little further God may not be the God who you think. Reading the Old Testament can be confusing at times. Is God a lover of war? Did God give His stamp of approval on a patriarchal society that was prevalent in Old Testament cultures?

Many may read the Old Testament and come away thinking God shows favoritism of men over women for no apparent logical reasons? Some have suggested from the very beginning God approved men as leaders and women as followers. This has never made sense to me based on reality. People are leaders depending on their gifts, not their gender. Having both a son and a daughter, nothing about their gender qualifies one over the other in leading a company, group, or family. And in my family my leading in the area such as finances is a joke if you knew our situation. Should I pretend to be the leader or the overseer in name, and not give my wife credit where credit is due? Besides, do marriages really need a designated leader or is a model of mutual submission best? Should roles be determined by gender than individual gifts and skills that one may possess? The Book of Genesis is often used to suggest the Bible designates men as leaders of the family. The context is God warning of the aftermath of sin when Adam and Eve rebelled against God’s guidance. God warned because of sin, men would tend to rule and women to look to man than God (Genesis 3:16). Who can argue God’s warning has come true in all cultures. This passage is a description for how marriages can go bad, not a prescription for good marriages. The best model for success is serving one another with mutual love and respect.

I know a bit odd but I have been studying the book of Leviticus lately. I have never understood the reason for all the ceremonial rituals advised by God to the Israelites. I know God must have His reasons. Why does the Old Testament require a longer purification after childbirth for girls than boys? Is this more of God’s stamp of approval on the order of things when it comes to the sexes? Leviticus can be an overlooked or confusing book until realizing many of the ceremonial laws given by God to Moses in behalf of the Israelites were for beneficial reasons and were not just a bunch of rituals to appease God’s ego. In Leviticus 12 the mother is advised to wait twice as long for purification if she has a girl as opposed to when having a boy. Harris in the Expositor’s Bible Commentary provides some understanding as to why this difference could be.

First of all, isolation assisted in bringing the mom back to health. Being declared unclean allowed the mother to not have to do the cooking or keeping the house, which could prevent the spread of childbed fever and help her to regain her strength. Isolation prevented traveling to the temple for sacrifice, thus being a physical blessing. But, why is the uncleanness and seclusion doubled for a female child (12:5)? Is this just more of God’s supposed plan to suggest men have more of a favored position than women in God’s scheme of things? I think Harris has a better suggestion. Since girls are usually smaller at birth and tended to have a higher mortality rate, the longer time allowed a baby girl to grow and get more established. Maybe fathers, as they do sometimes now, favored more having a son than daughter. A longer time at home may have encouraged more care from the husbands. Whatever the case is, there was no difference in the temple ritual between the birth of a boy or girl (v.6). Though what lens do you understand God when you read something that is confusing or suggest favoritism? 

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