Futures of Crude

Robert Newell, former pastor of the Memorial Baptist Church in Houston, would send his church paper to me, and one week his article grew out of the business section of the paper. I want to “pirate” his article for a few thoughts to pass along to you.

The report that Bob read told of an unexpected decrease in the supplies of crude oil. The article bore the startling headline—CRUDE FUTURES PRICE EDGES UP. While crude prices mean a lot to many people, there are some other thoughts that come to mind about the futures of crude when taken in a larger sense of the word.

The unconscionable behavior of some political leaders has made sexuality much less private than before, and has made public discourse more harsh than it should be, and many of us find ourselves in a “hostile environment” wherever we go. The “privacy” of the victims of sexual misbehavior has been ignored, as usual, by so much of the public discourse. The immoral lifestyles of the “rich and famous” and the graphics of videos and movies continue to add to the prevalence of crude. Needy people go on national television with the sickest of behavior to describe to needy viewers the depravity of crude, and needy viewers ask for more.

What Is Your Crowd?

We live in a world that is more crowded with people than it has ever been, yet one might think that we are also in a time when people are less aware, than ever, of the effect of each person’s behavior on the life of the community of other people. One crowd champions abortion with little recognition of the devaluing of life that results.

Another crowd minimizes the needs of poor families with little recognition of the devaluing of life that results. Another crowd bears as many children as biology will allow, ignoring the economic problems and the needs of future children, with little recognition of the devaluing of life that results.

People blow up planes with innocent passengers, teenagers deliver newborns and leave them to die in trash cans, and people think it’s “cute” when children tell parents and teachers, “You are not the boss of me.” The price of crude is definitely rising.

Where is the regulatory agency that can halt the increasing demand for crude? The answer given by some people is a Theocracy. However, as James Dunn suggested, there is a real problem with that since there are too many people who would like to be “Theo.” No, the answer is not to be found in Theocracy.

Others suggest a society with no God, not even in the personal lives of its constituents. It has become “chic” in our society to laugh at the possibility that God exists and has a plan for life. No, the answer is not found in assuming that human power is all there is.

Regulatory Power

The regulatory power is found in the individual relationship between God and the person. We are not governed by “drives.” We are governed by “choices.” We have impulses all right, but most of the time we get out of our impulses that which we put into them.

From my view, I remember reading of those who said of Christ,

We will not have this man to rule over us.

There is that statement again, another context, another time, but still the same result.

The price of crude goes up. I also remember reading his invitation, . . .

How often would I have gathered you under my wings as a hen gathers her chicks, and you refused. (Matthew 23:37)

And I remember the words of so many others who have found in his Lordship freedom, abundant life, forgiveness, purpose, security, worth, and more. The consumer can change the market, by choices.

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Shame, Shame, Shame

The Subject is Shame
…and the amazing things people do with it. There are ways of “Acting Shameless”. Things like perfectionism, controlling others, rage, arrogance, criticism and blame, judgmentalism and moralizing, contempt, patronizing, caretaking, people-pleasing, envy, are often escapes from shame, and the list goes on. However, all these things are just acting, and not at all the same as actually being free of shame. What is it, and what is it like to live without shame as a controlling force in our life and relationships. To build a true self and a good relationship around grace, mercy, happiness, and delight in knowing others, is a much better world to live in.
Come and visit a character from ages ago, back when David was king in Israel, and we can learn about leaving shame behind. His name was Mephibosheth. (Did he go by a nickname?) He was the grandson of the ex-king, Saul, who had died in disgrace and the loss of his kingdom. As a child, he had become crippled in an accident while fleeing his grandfather’s war. Even more crippling, he had now become a shamed pauper. In the biblical text of II Samuel 9, we read that he saw himself as a “dead dog”, especially in the eyes of people who knew about his family’s shame. He even lived in a little town called Lo-Debar, which translated meant “no pasture”, surely a desolate place, but maybe a good place to hide out.
Enter David, the new and popular king, who had also been the best friend of Jonathon, the father of Mephibosheth. David wants to show love to Mephibosheth, for the sake of Jonathon and the great friendship they had experienced. Forward ahead to the banquet hall where the formerly shamed young man is at the table with all of David’s children, treated equally, viewed equally, fully restored as a person of worth.
Paul describes the follower of Christ as, “being justified, without price, by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus”…
We have choices. We can wear the label of shame, or we can assign the label of shame to others, or we can exchange the label of shame for the true name of a child of God.

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Grace Illustrated

Recently, in a sermon I quoted a brief poetic verse to illustrate Grace, a verse that has been a favorite of mine for many years. It was the last two lines of the poem found below. They express my own amazement about the Grace, that changed my life into an amazing adventure. A church member asked me about the origin and I gladly provided it. It reminded me again that there is a world of treasure in the generations behind us. Years ago, people felt the same thrill you and I can feel, at the very thought of God’s Grace. Ralph Erskine (1685-1752) wrote some of the best thought of all time in his work, Gospel Sonnets. Will you visit the early 1700’s with me? I have edited some of his lines into (mostly) modern English. It is still a bit tough to read, but it is worth it. Mr. Erskine was writing about Law and Grace.

“The law may rouse me from my sloth, To faith and to repentance both :
And though the law commands each, Yet neither of them can it teach.

To what the law by fear may move, To that the gospel leads by love.
To run to work, the law commands ; The gospel gives me feet and hands :
The one requires that I obey ; The other does the power convey.
What in the law has duty’s place, The gospel changes to a grace :
Hence legal duties therein named, Are herein gospel-graces framed.

Arise and walk, the Law commands, but gives me neither feet, nor hands.
A better word, the Gospel brings, It bids me fly, but gives me Wings.”

The faith we are offered is not a recent invention. I find it encouraging and enlightening to read people of all times celebrating the same good news that I celebrate. As I read international news, I see that people from all over the world are committing their lives to this same Christ. The scripture says he is “full of Grace and Truth.” (John 1:14) One reason grace is amazing is that Christ who knows all the truth about us, can still offer all his grace and love to us. Truth and grace meet in him without conflict.

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Go Love an Enemy?

Go Love an Enemy and Call Me in the Morning
An encounter from my early days of pastoring has recently come to mind, perhaps because I don’t yet understand it. This happened in the early 70’s at a church that had just called me as pastor. Speaking with one of the members, the name of one of the other members came up and I complimented that other member (something I thought was a nice thing to do) for the positive things they had recently said about the future of the church. Little did I know that these two people were enemies of one another. In my novice state as a young pastor, I felt quite flustered by the harsh response to my conversation. From then on, the person I was speaking with seemed not to trust me. They had immediately responded with criticism of their “enemy” and of me for having any good thing to say about him. “I think you need to be looking to God for advice about this church rather than to ______.”
I assured him that I was looking to God, but he didn’t seem settled about the whole thing. I thought about this encounter a great deal, and apparently I still do, after all these years. I had grown up in a peaceful home, and since becoming a Christian at age 16 I had been around other believers who were peaceful. Encouragement was the name of the experience in the small college town church where I was before going to my first pastorate. I had had a few years of evangelistic preaching behind me, and also couple of years of pastoral work behind me, but this was a shocking experience. Saying something nice about someone had gotten me in more trouble than saying something not nice would have done. What about our enemies? Jesus said to love our enemies. How is this all supposed to work? Well, I don’t think it worked out so well for these two people, and unfortunately, the man I had complimented at first, and often after those first days, had also made himself my enemy by the time I left this church and moved to another. I was not his enemy, but he had decided he would be an enemy to me.
I have learned a lot since then about human relationships, but mysteries abound. Fast forward to present time when, a few days ago at my favorite church to attend when I am not preaching somewhere, the pastor (John Lockhart) opened up a beautiful truth. He was talking about Hermeneutics, a big word for the ways we interpret things; in this case, scriptures. He observed that in all his years of reading books about hermeneutics, he had not seen anyone write that “Obedience” was a great way of interpreting scripture. You see, sometimes Jesus says, “Come and learn…”, and at other times he says, “Go and learn this…”. When he says, “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you…”, (Luke 6:27) it sure sounds like something experiential is supposed to follow. First, we Hear, really Hear… then Go find an enemy and love them. Wow, that’s a tough calling.
Do I recommend this track to anyone who comes to my office asking what to do about their enemy? This kind of love takes a lot of skill, and it can and should be done with care for ourselves and our boundaries. But, it can be done. So, if it gets back to your enemy that you have said something nice about them, maybe they will realize you have been with Jesus.

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No More Games

Here is another “Marriage Minute” from my book, available at Amazon.com I hope this encourages you in assertive communication.

Marriage Minute #198 Free From Game Playing

Let’s take a minute to look at another thing Virginia Satir told us about marriage. She describes four universal patterns people use to avoid the possibility of rejection. Of course, rejection may sound like something you would want to avoid, but these are patterns of avoidance that may actually bring it about. These are ways of concealing weakness, bluffing one’s way through the fear of intimacy, and rejecting the other person before the other person rejects us. No, they aren’t healthy. They are the avoidance that ought to be avoided.
Satir says that faced with rejection a person may, “ . . . 1) Placate, so the other person doesn’t get mad; 2) Blame so the other person will regard one as strong (if the person goes away, it will be her fault or his fault- not one’s own); 3) Compute, so that one deals with a threat as though it were harmless, and one’s self-worth hides behind big words and intellectual concepts; or 4) Distract so one ignores the threat, behaving as though it were not there (maybe if one does this long enough, it really will go away).”
The Placater is always fishing for approval. With ingratiating words, the placater avoids rejection by avoiding their own wants, and their own individuality. On the inside, however, this person feels empty and worthless. Soon, this person begins to think that the worthless feeling is coming from other people, when it is really coming from inside their own self.
The Blamer tries to keep the upper hand by disagreeing. A lot of phrases begin with, “You never” and “You always”. Answers become unimportant, or perhaps only a nuisance. The blamer is looking for the proverbial pound of flesh. The blamer doesn’t necessarily feel worth anything either, so if they can get someone to obey them, maybe they will think they count for something. Inside, they feel lonely and unsuccessful.
The Computer uses words that are ultra-reasonable. Calm, cool, and collected on the outside, they may feel quite vulnerable on the inside, but they won’t let you know it. This computer has a major problem, however. Unlike the electronic computer you have at home, this human computer doesn’t receive new data, doesn’t offer “What you see is what you get” to the outside world, and doesn’t “network” with others.
The Distracter uses words that are irrelevant. The don’t respond to the point. These words don’t make sense, or they are about an unrelated subject. This person feels dizzy on the inside, and they hope the feeling is contagious.
Satir then offers a fifth option; one that works, is honest, and builds relationships. She calls it Leveling. The person who levels with others may even fall into one of the traps above, but they admit it as soon as they become aware, and admit it, take the consequences, and seek to be level again. The leveler seeks the truth, rather than perfection. The leveler doesn’t enjoy rejection, but neither do they let fear of rejection make them into someone manipulative or false. The leveler knows that they will make mistakes, and that some people will neither approve, nor disapprove, and this is O.K. The leveler stands on their own two feet, gets the jokes that we often play on ourselves, and tries to embrace the uncertainty of relationships without game-playing.

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What is it to Live Genuine?

Three more “Minutes” from my book, Marriage Minutes, available from Amazon.com book-cover

What Do You Do?…..  Being Real…..  and Thinking

Marriage Minute # 174 What Do You Do?

Recently, at a dinner, several people who didn’t know everyone at the table began introducing themselves, in response to that question, “What do you do?” The responses began to flow, but they mostly sounded like job titles, all very impressive in sound. Now, these people were telling each other what they called themselves, not what they did. I had time to think about my answer in order to give a more novel answer. I’m not always sure what to answer to the question since I am a pastor, a college instructor, and a counselor in private practice. I am also a curious person who likes to read about a lot of things, a researcher of history, in general, church history in particular, and a very avid researcher of my own family tree. I also write and sing, but I would starve to death if I depended on either of these things to survive. So, what would I say when the turn became mine? Some of these job titles were sounding pretty impressive.

Should I say I’m just a simple country parson? I couldn’t say that because my understanding of the call of God upon my life, to preach and to pastor, to make known the meanings and message of the Word of God, and to serve in a local congregation, makes my work not simple in the sense of “casual,” but quite simple in the sense of being committed to the ministry with no plans to leave it. People make a lot of assumptions, mostly wrong, when you say you’re a preacher. I know that John Knox (or was it John Wesley) said, “If God calls you to preach, don’t stoop to be a king.” Not many people hold us in that same regard, however, and not even all preachers value their call that much either. So, what would I say?

Continue reading

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More parenting thoughts

I have been away from the blog for a while, and I want to let you know why, and thank you for your interest and kind words. I always hope the articles I post can be useful, and hope you can share them with others. For the past few months I have been dealing with some health issues that have altered my days. I have begun chemotherapy for cancer treatment, and have found a true “holy ground” as I have met fellow patients and a wonderful group of medical professionals, who amazingly always have encouragement and optimism available to share. Optimism is like oxygen, you know…

But, I am now ready to do more writing. For a while now, I have been sharing chapters from my book…. Marriage Minutes… available from Amazon.com (a tip by the way, if you go there to look for it, put,,, marriage minutes ford ,,, in the search engine. Obviously, if you use my name only, you will get the books by the more famous Gerald Ford.) I have only a few more chapters I wish to share from the book, and then I want to explore some other areas. So, I hope you will join me, pray with me, and share your comments with me, and the articles with others.

Marriage Minute # 148 Mirror, Hero, and Twin

We depended on our parents and other caregivers for several things, and hopefully they finished much of their job. But, some patterns of unfinished business rightly continue throughout our life, and we begin to look for similar things in other relationships. Let’s take a look at these things. For a background I am thankful to Ikar Kalogjera and his colleagues at the Milwaukee Group for the advancement of Self-Psychology. (Writing in, The Disordered Couple, edited by Jon Carlson and Len Sperry)
Many theorists about childhood assert that we need, among other things, some early psychological experience with three “things”, a mirror, a hero, and a twin. First, we need to “see” ourselves in our parents. They need to reflect pride (not just theirs, but our own pride) in our accomplishments, and the ability to accommodate with growth (not shame) when we find that we need to change. This is where we first learn to enjoy physical and mental activities, and pursue goals. Later, we can continue to “mirror” with our own experience, and with selected individuals in friendships and/or mentoring relationships. Without “mirroring”, we may find ourselves feeling empty, inadequate, and in constant need of reassurance.
Secondly, we need a hero. The hero of our childhood is often one, or hopefully both, parents. Idealizing gives us a sense of consistency, security, and a sort of optimism about values and purpose. We learn to regulate ourselves, soothe and calm ourselves, and pursue ideals with commitment. (This is not the same as being driven by guilt or fear of a “giant”. It is the drawing power of a hero.) Later, we find heroes in our adult life. Healthy relationships with God, and with other people, provide more idealizing influence. A marriage needs the mutual admiration, the wonder, the curiosity, and the security of this experience.
Third, the child needs a twin. This isn’t about whether or not we ought to be our child’s friend. This is about whether we encourage our children, and help them see that they can also become the “hero” they have seen demonstrated. Will we be heirs of the good giants who raised us? Can we be heirs of God? Will we be able to be a “hero” to others and live as a contributing person in the world? Can we successfully become a person with “empathy, creativeness, humor, wisdom, and acceptance of one’s transience”? (p. 218) After all, a hero that I cannot become “like” is a useless hero in the long run. Marriage, similarly, should be a relationship where we support each other’s growth, and thereby our own. Sadly, many marriages are places where people try to make themselves superior by making the other inferior. Personhood, realized, needs twinship.
In fact, personhood needs all three of these things, the mirror, the hero, and the twin. To be able to say, “I am loved and worth love, I can value and understand love, and I can love and be lovable.” These three needs may also be understood as the needs to be seen, valued, and joined with in building the relationship.
A warning is in order. The Narcissistic person will horribly abuse this whole issue. They will demand a mirror, but they won’t be one for others. They will claim to be a giant, but will do all they can to deny any peerage, nor will they have any heroes but themselves. They will refuse twinship, because that would mean their personhood might depend upon relationship, and upon growth, cure, change, and mutuality.
The one who chooses to love, finds personhood, and makes it available.

Marriage Minute # 149 Elephants

Let’s talk about elephants. Years ago there was an overpopulation of elephants at an African game preserve. The solution offered by those who managed the preserve was to move the baby elephants to another preserve. Some people objected, saying that the babies would not survive, but this was not the outcome. The young ones survived and thrived. In a manner, they thrived, but another problem soon arose. The rhinoceros population began to die off. Something was killing them. Property was being destroyed. People who lived around the preserve reported being charged by the elephants. It turned out that the young elephants were behind all these problems, even though this was not the characteristic behavior usually seen in elephants.
It was feared that the herd would have to be sacrificed, but a rather bold thing was tried first. Several adult elephants were transported to the area, including some quite old elephants. Soon the problems ceased. Almost immediately, the young elephants took notice of their new role models, and these “parents and grandparents” started showing the young ones how to live in their world. The news show, “60 Minutes”, called the elephants’ social system complex, interconnected, and elegant.
Years later, in a place far away, humans were discovered discussing whether parents were necessary or not. Some of them had become obsessed with getting away from their own parents. Some had become obsessed with finding ways to get away from their own children more often. When parents and grandparents became marginalized in children’s lives, behavioral problems began to occur. One “noted” specialist even recommended that children be taken away from parents at a certain age and raised by government owned and operated training schools, later to be returned to parents as finished products. He said that child-raising was too important to be trusted to unprofessional and untrained parents. He spoke of reinforcing this behavior or that one, and showed how humans could be conformed from the outside. But, problems continued, and even worsened.
The truth re-discovered in both places is that children need parents, and they need grandparents. Children need to see behavior modeled, not just reinforced. Even more than that, they need to be helped in the discovery that they can choose, and are responsible for choosing responsible behavior, from the inside of themselves, not the outside alone. Parents need to show their children how they have been able to renegotiate a relationship with their parents, now that they are grown. They can demonstrate that parents and adult children don’t have to relate in terms of rebellion and power struggles. Children can learn to contribute to the family, and to the human community, from their childhood up, and then how to let their contribution change with age, but not go away.
I didn’t know my grandparents well before they were gone, but I did have several older family members who contributed a lot to my life. Chief among them was a great uncle and his son, who were sort of the family story tellers, and guess what I do now.

Marriage Minute # 150 Free the Cell Phone!

How many uses are there for a cell phone? They take pictures and can send e-mails and texts, and connect to the Internet, they provide books in new forms, and do many other things. Despite the wonderful things they can do for us, parents have begun to use them for a purpose for which they were not designed. They are using them to extort chores and other bits of behavior from their teenagers. If the room doesn’t get clean, the cell phone gets taken away for a few days. If the kid doesn’t get home on time, the cell phone gets taken away for a few days. If grades suffer, the cell phone gets taken away for a few days. No, I’m not trying to give out ideas for how to get your kid to do things, I am trying to say these ideas don’t work, for a number of reasons.
First, losing a cell phone won’t teach the value of a clean house, of punctuality, or of a good education. Discipline needs to be a natural or logical response to the actual nature of the problem. If you lost your cell phone, would you go sit down with an academic book and study hard for that next test? If someone stole your cell phone, would you suddenly feel a compulsion to go home and clean your room? I guess you could hide their cell phone in their room and tell them to clean the room to find it (only joking). Value is taught by example, by experience, and by connection to what is truly good in life and relationships. Discipline that is not natural or logical will produce more behavior that is not what you want to see.
Second, holding a cell phone (or other object) hostage, when the cell phone is not really the problem (i.e. misuse of the phone, going over minutes, etc.), will teach a dangerous lesson. You might see the kid threatening to disturb the peace in the family unless they get their way. Sadly, bribery hurts both ways. When a person threatens a tantrum unless their demands are met, it’s bribery, no matter how old or young they are.
I know that some kids will cooperate, but that doesn’t mean that the hostage taking really worked. The person who cooperates with this type of discipline would probably have cooperated with a better form of discipline, anyway, and everyone involved would have had a better experience from it all. In fact, the child that is cooperative, who wants to be in a good relationship with the family, will be discouraged by any discipline that doesn’t give them the credit they deserve.
By the way, I watched with interest, a few years ago, as Prince Charles dealt with Prince Harry’s insensitivity in wearing the Nazi uniform to a party. He sent him to tour Auschwitz, and hear the story of the horrors committed there. Now, that is discipline that is directly (naturally/ logically) related to the nature of the problem. I don’t know about the rest of Charles’ parenting, but he got this one right.
The best way to raise adults is to present kids with two good adult examples. Do parents cooperate with each other, respect others, and do they accept influence from each other in solving problems? Or, do parents bribe each other? Free the captive cell phone.

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The Parental Cloak

Do your children ever see you without your parenting cloak on? If not, they may not really know you.

Marriage Minute # 147 The Parental Cloak
(from my book Marriage Minutes, available on Amazon.com)

Virginia Satir asked this interesting question of parents. Can you take off your “parental cloak” when you’re not using it? Do we depend on the power we get from parenting to make us who we are? Or, can we be other things, like ourselves, or a spouse, or a person at the job, or another person discovering new things about life, and living our own life?
Satir suggested that many parents wear their cloak (parental role) as a cover for their own insecurities, and their wish for power. She illustrates this by describing three “linings” for this cloak; a Boss lining, a Leader and Guide lining, and a Pal lining. These sound like the labels of Authoritarian (giving orders), Authoritative (giving guidance), and Permissive (giving in) parenting styles. The person wearing the Boss lining may be the one who has the hardest time putting the cloak aside, to let their family know who they really are.
One day Satir was so tired of hearing parents say to children that there was only one way, their way, of doing things (these adults often tell each other the same thing), that she took up an interesting project to illustrate a point. She heard about the “right way” so many times that she investigated and found that there were approximately 247 ways to wash the dishes. These ways included such things as whether you sort them first, or whether you rinse them first, or which item you wash first, and so on. Her point is that raising children who understand reasons and purpose, and children who have common sense and good judgment is good parenting. And, this parental cloak can be put aside when it is time to do so.
“People who are around a tyrant, suffer insult, constantly”, says Satir. Not only this, but they are often looking for more and more effective ways of working around the tyrant, or escaping them. Not much real parenting gets done.
Parents who are “more than parents” do better parenting. The cloak for them is not the main thing. I noticed this a few years ago when talking with a younger friend of mine who commented on how much I apparently Love my career life. (I am in my third career, and I still have the other two, as well.) This friend said he grew up in a home where his father and mother hardly ever had a kind word to say about their jobs. He said he envisioned adult life being this place where they dragged you off to the salt mines every morning and dropped you off at the curb every night. Caring for yourself is not selfish, enjoying life together with your children is not impossible, and it just may teach your children an important lesson, just by letting them see you live a satisfying life.

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Scholarship Alert… a look at what Paul really said

Marriage Minute # 144 From my book, Marriage Minutes, available from Amazon.com

An Egalitarian looks at I Timothy 2:12

This will be about marriage by the time I am through with it. It is already about marriage since it is about the nature of women and men in the eyes of God. And, it is a needed discussion in this book since it is one of the most misinterpreted verses in the entire Bible. It is used to keep women out of church leadership, and as an intentional by-product, to keep women out of equality in homes and marriages. This scripture is misused in bolstering what is called Masculine Protest, a belief that men have certain unearned privileges, simply by virtue of being born male, privileges generally denied to women. Here is the verse, in the New American Standard Version…
But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.

I will give what I consider a better translation at the end of the article. I prefer the New American Standard in most cases, but like most other translations the NASB has missed the mark. Here is why I say this…
The troublesome word in this verse is the one usually translated “to exercise authority”. It is the Greek word, αὐθεντεῖν, authentein, an infinitive form of a quite rare Greek word. In fact, in all of scripture, it only appears here in this verse. When Paul and all the other writers refer to authority in any other verse, they use some other word, and all the other words for authority are well known, well used, and well defined. So, if we want to know the meaning of the word we must go to other Greek documents of the time period. Even in doing this, the search is difficult.
I am very grateful for the scholarship of several people, especially in this verse. A few years ago several scholars compiled a computerized databank of Greek words, the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae, found at the University of California-Irvine. Words were catalogued from practically all the extant sources that could be found. Books, letters, poetry, signs, legal documents, and other sorts of Greek writings were sorted in this databank in order to give us a look at how the words were used in each context. This lexicon records such usages from the 8th century B.C. all the way through A.D. 1453, around 2200 years of the history of the Greek language.
I am also indebted to Leland Wilshire and his excellent book, Insight Into Two Biblical Passages.
A thorough look at this history reveals that the word “authentein” was a word that originally meant “one who with his own hand kills either others or himself”. Fragment 645 by the Greek writer Euripides uses the word to mean “murderous ruling desires”. Another reference points to “Saturn as the Ruler of the soul…”. Still another reference is found in the worship of an Archangel, proclaimed as “the Ruling Sun”. Flavius Josephus (A.D. 37-95) employs the word in only two places in Jewish Wars to describe the perpetrator of a crime. It is not until the end of the second century, A.D., that the word appears as a signifier of “authority”, in the writings of Clement of Alexandria, and Clement uses the word in most occasions to signify criminal behavior and abuse of power. His majority usage is “to take it upon one’s self to commit murder with impunity”. His additional usage of the word to simply mean “authority” does not, in my opinion of the context, suggest any particular legitimacy to the authority. The full bifurcation of the word into tracts of legitimate as well as illegitimate authority does not appear until the fourth century. Furthermore, it is not translated into an English form, Author, any sooner that the 13th century.
So, why does Paul deviate from his usual collection of words for authority and, in this one verse, use this obscure word for “murderous rule”? I suggest that the answer is found in Paul’s original premise for writing this letter to Timothy. See I Timothy 1: 3 “As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus so that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines,…” (NASB). Paul and Timothy were contending with teachers of false doctrine, chiefly the forms of Legalism, and Gnosticism found in Ephesus. While written chronicles of Gnostic doctrine do not proliferate until many years later, Paul’s frequent use of certain phrases found in Gnosticism, which he employs in his effort to disapprove of them, suggests that Gnosticism, at least in oral tradition, was flowering in the first century. I will refer to some of these terms below, and I suggest that this word, authentein= murderous rule, is one of those terms.
A particular strain of Gnostics, now known as Ophitic Gnostics, taught a number of heretical beliefs, among them that,
• The god who created the mind was superior to the god who created the body,
• The god who created Woman acted prior to the creation of Adam, and some Ophitic Gnostics taught that different gods created the two people, Adam and Eve,
• That, according to a group within Gnosticism, the god who created the material Earth including the human and animal body, was a female deity thereby giving the power to “rule” to females of each species,
• That a superior god was the savior of the mind and soul, while a lesser god was the savior of the body,
• That Adam was deceived into thinking that he was created first, and further deceived into thinking that he was superior to Eve,
• That the sin of Adam was different from the lesser sin of Eve, and
• That Eve was actually the one who was to have power over the human race by virtue of being female, and that she could enforce this power by any means necessary,
• But that she was to refuse childbearing, except in highly controlled situations , because childbearing would mean that she was taking part in creating evil and fallen flesh and losing her control (and her salvation),

Let’s revisit the text now. I Timothy 2:12 But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority….. [murderous rule]….. over a man, but to remain quiet. 13 For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. …..[this is Paul refuting the idea that Eve was created first, and that she was created separately by a different god] …..14 And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, …..[refuting the idea that Adam was deceived]…..fell into transgression. …..[the same transgression] 15 But (women) will be preserved through the bearing of children …..[refuting the idea that childbearing meant the loss of salvation]…..if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.

It should be becoming clear by now that Paul was fighting Gnostics, and not fighting women. May I suggest the following expanded translation based upon the information I have presented.
I Timothy 2:12
“But I do not allow a woman to teach murderous rule, or to exercise murderous rule over a man, but to remain in a teachable spirit . Because it was Adam who was created first and then Eve right along with him, and by the same (and only) God. Furthermore, Adam was not deceived but the woman being deceived fell into the same transgression even as did Adam. But, she is preserved through the bearing of children (the call to have families did not become the enemy with Eve), if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.”

Here, we come to that great theological question, “What does this have to do with anything?”
If Paul is arguing against Ophitic Gnosticism, and not against women, does the verse have any usage in the life of the 21st century believer. It does have a use, but it is not the usage that many people make of it. It is commonly used 1) to keep women out of ministry, and 2) to keep women in other inferior positions in life. Both of these usages have no justification if we look at this passage in the light of the full evidence about authentein and the evidence about the culture of Gnosticism. Paul had no intention to say what many people think he said, and I believe that he would be shocked and utterly dismayed to find out how so many people have misinterpreted him.
Legitimate usage of this verse is found in at least four admonitions:
• That God did not intend any battle between the sexes, especially one that involves “murderous rule”
• That men and women were created by the same God, created in His Image, to live in healthy relationships,
• That both men and women are to conduct themselves in love, without wrath, dissension, or a clamorous spirit,
• That we are not to fear the normal life of the healthy family, marrying and having children, and that this family should not be seen as an arena for power struggles about salvation, or about personal power (especially abusive power)

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To my dear marriage counseling client…

To my dear marriage counseling client…

You seem to be intent on telling me several indicting things about your spouse (the person sitting next to you on my couch), and perhaps you are trying to convince me of these things. You may also be trying to hurt them in some way. You are succeeding at the latter, but not at the former. Do you believe, if you convince me of how awful they are, that they will be declared guilty, and as though by magic, they will be returned to you, thoroughly scolded, and transformed back into the dutiful and compliant spouse you thought you were getting so long ago? That’s not how this whole thing works.

As you vent, I think you may have some valid points about your spouse, but I wonder at the same time. How much of what you are saying are you hearing for the first time, and how much is your spouse hearing for the first time? More so, I wonder how much of it is true. What truth are you not telling me? Do you tell each other the truth?

It also matters what you are trying to do with the truth. The truth can sometimes hurt, but wanting to hurt someone, and using the truth to do it is another. Thelonious Monk said, “There are no wrong notes on the piano, but it matters when and how you use them.”

The truth is… your spouse wants to feel significant, and so do you. But, how people get to significance is often thwarted by mistaken and misapplied theology. Men are offered the idea that they can and must be leaders in the home. Leading is one way of finding significance, and after all, there are a lot of decisions to be made in a home, and a lot of problems to be solved. Yet, that is not the real issue. The real issue is whether the husband will be in that leadership position alone. Does he really need to feel threatened by a strong woman wanting to share leadership? Is he really in danger from her? Does he believe the world’s message of shame? If he is threatened by the prospect of an open and intimate life with an equal, then he is probably not seeking significance, but is instead seeking superiority… an appeal to human pride and avarice. Do you tell the truth about what you are wanting from your spouse? Are all your wants O.K.?

The truth is… your spouse wants to feel significant, and so do you. Women hear the “inferiority” message and in many ways feel a great sense of shame. People who feel shame often inflict shame. She was often taught to use Spite Talk, as her husband was taught to use Fight Talk. Sadly, significance is still elusive. No one wins. She becomes angry over this “one-down” position, many of us understand the anger, but none of this brings significance. The truth is, neither superiority nor inferiority really fit anyone. Neither of them were really God’s original plan. Only the Significance Plan works, and true intimacy doesn’t need someone in charge.

The truth is… your spouse wants to feel significant, and so do you. God wants us to repent, with all the mind change and emotional shift that goes with it. But, many in theological circles preach scorn and shame. Scorn and shame are not the same as repentance. We don’t get the ability to repent from other people, we can only get it from God. Check sometime the words of Paul in II Corinthians 7, in which he compares the sorrow of the world (scorn and shame) with the sorrow he calls Godly Sorrow.

So,… there you are on my couch, recognizing pain (and I understand that) but not the whole truth. You can’t make somebody do better by making them feel worse. (Jane Nelsen) It is not “worse” that your spouse needs to feel… it is responsible that they need to feel, and repentant if there has been some wrong done. They need to feel zealousness for change. If you only see your spouse as someone to be controlled, or punished, or avoided, or used… then you don’t know all the truth about them. Humiliation is about shame, and humility is about the truth… and they are not the same thing. The truth is that your spouse is someone for whom Christ died, and so are you. If they can’t see you and themselves in that perspective, then you aren’t dealing with all the truth, and hope will be slim, but if they can… they are more likely to be changed. If we turn in the names we call ourselves, and the names we call each other, and we receive from Christ the names, and the characters he has for us, then in Him, we have significance, and we can validate it in others.

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