In Case You Missed It: Bruce Ashford on Immigration Reform

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In case you missed it on Monday, Southeastern’s Provost and Associate Professor of Theology and Culture, Bruce Ashford, published an essay over at the ERLC’s blog Canon and Culture, “Balancing Justice and Mercy in Immigration Reform.” Ashford reminds us that love for Christ and neighbor, not love for a particular party or policy, should govern our responses to those in need.

Here’s an excerpt:

This means that we should not advocate for solutions that will automatically and without consideration separate families and disrupt communities. We cannot speak in such forceful voices that a large segment of the population should fear that Christians are more concerned about seeing them deported than seeing them come to Christ. Instead, we need to recognize some of the systemic evils that led to the very real problem of illegal immigration.

We encourage you to read the entire post here. Let’s also pray for the thousands of families affected by the current crisis at our border.

Biblical Marriages in a Broken World, Part 3

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[Editor's Note: This summer we at BtT are running some older but good posts. Look out for all new content in August. This post originally appeared on October 29, 2008.]

Portrait of a Redeemed Wife, Part 2

I believe a wife can be a blessing to her husband and honor him as the Church honors Christ by giving him five specific gifts of love.

1) Show him admiration.
Work to understand and appreciate your husband’s value and achievements as his wife. Remind him of his capabilities and gifts and help him maintain his walk with God. Be proud of your husband, not out of duty, but as an expression of sincere admiration for the man you love and with whom you have chosen to share your life. Let him know you see him as God’s gift to you and that you admire and respect the good and just things he does (Ephesians 5:22-23, 33).

2) Provide sexual fulfillment.
Become an excellent sexual partner to him. Study your own response to recognize and understand what brings out the best in you; then communicate this information to your husband, and together learn to have a sexual relationship that you both find repeatedly satisfying and enjoyable. (Underlining important!)

Dennis Rainey notes that men often connect their own sense of self-worth with their ability to be a satisfying sexual partner for their mate. Everything fits physiologically, but the visual, mental and emotional components need to come together as well. In particular remember your husband is a visual creature moved by what he sees whereas you are more of a person of the ear and heart. Good communication and understanding are essential if you are to enjoy this powerful and tender area of marital life (Proverbs 5:15-19; Song of Solomon 4:9-5:1; 1 Corinthians 7:1-5; Hebrews 13:4).

3) Cultivate home support.
Create a home that offers him an atmosphere of peace and quiet and refuge. Manage the home and care of the children. The home should be a place of rest and rejuvenation. Remember, the wife/mother is the emotional hub of the family. Men cannot stand to be around gripping, nagging, whiney women. Fight or flight will often be their response. A godly wife will work hard to make the home a place where her husband wants to “hang out” (Proverbs 9:13, 19:13, 21:9, 19, 25:24)!

4) Strive to be an attractive wife.
Pursue inner and outer beauty in that order. Cultivate a Christlike spirit in your inner self. Keep yourself physically fit with diet and exercise. Wear your hair, makeup, and clothes in a way that your husband finds attractive and tasteful. Let your husband be pleased and proud of you in public, but also in private. I could add a word at this point about the evil nature of flannel gowns and cotton socks (!) but I will move on (Song of Solomon 1:8-19, 2:2, 6:13-7:9; 1 Peter 3:1-5)!

5) Become his best friend.
Develop mutual interests with your husband. Discover those activities your husband enjoys the most and seek to become proficient in them. If you learn to enjoy them, join him in them. If you do not enjoy them, encourage him to consider others that you can enjoy together. Become your husband’s best friend so that he repeatedly associates you with the activities he enjoys most.

When I do premarital counseling I take the first session and talk with the couple about their relationship with Jesus, the need to attend together a Bible-believing church, and common problem areas in marriage (e.g. communication, finances, sex, children, in-laws and aging parents). I then conclude by asking the question, “Do you like your potential mate and are you becoming, if not already, best friends? I then tell them if they will grow to be best friends I believe 1) their marriage will go the distance because best friends do not give up on best friends; 2) their marriage will be a joy because best friends like being with their best friend; 3) being best friends will insure that your husband finds you attractive, feels supported at home, will be your lover and that he knows he is admired (Song of Solomon 8:1-2, 6).

“The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable (corresponding) to him” (Genesis 2:18). I believe God knew what He was talking about.

Biblical Marriages In A Broken World, Part 2

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[Editor's Note: This summer we at BtT are running some older but good posts. Look out for all new content in August. This post originally appeared on October 25, 2008.]

Portrait of a Redeemed Wife

In Ephesians 5:21-24, 33 Paul instructs the godly, redeemed wife. His words, both to her and her husband, should be read in the greater context of the entire chapter, especially verses 1-2, 8-9, 15-20. Two guidelines for marriage are set before her. First, she should honor her husband with her submission (vs. 21-24) and secondly she should honor her husband with respect (v. 33).

Submission is an attitude that leads to action. It has the idea of yielding ones rights and “followship” to another. It is a theme repeatedly addressed in the Bible and in a positive context (e.g. Heb. 13:17; 1 Pet. 2:13, 18). The word implies no inferiority whatsoever. Men and women are ontologically and essentially equal before God as His image-bearers. A wife’s submission is functional in terms of her divinely ordained responsibility in marriage. I believe this is reflective of what we discover in the Trinity. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are ontologically, essentially and equally God. They are, to use classic Trinitarian language, co-equal, co-eternal and consubstantial in relationship to each other. Yet in His assignment to redeem us from sin, God the Son is willingly submission to His Father. Thus the Son can affirm essential equality with His Father when He says, “before Abraham was, I AM” (John 8:58), “I and My Father are one” (John 10:30), and “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9), while also using “sending language” [e.g. the Father sending the Son] as well as saying, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work” (John 4:34), “I always do what pleases Him (John 8:30), “I honor My Father” (John 8:49), and “the Father is greater than I” (John 14:28). The Bible is clear there is no inferiority in yielding to the leadership and direction of another.

Now a question naturally arises: are there occasions when a wife’s submission to her husband would actually be inappropriate and the wrong thing to do? I believe the answer is yes, if he were to ask or require her to do something unbiblical, unethical, immoral or illegal. In these particular context, her allegiance to Jesus would supersede her submission to her husband. Further, submitting to ones husband does not entail spousal abuse. Submitting to physical beatings and putting one’s life and the lives of the children in danger is not biblical. It is actually foolish and unwise. A time of separation may be in order. It may even be necessary to have an abusive husband arrested for his criminal activity against his wife and family.

Verse 33 also calls a wife to respect her husband. Now this is a good time to transition from the disciplines of biblical and systematic theology to that of practical theology. Scanning scripture for reoccurring themes and then attempting to package them in a manageable form, what are some specific ways in which a wife can bless her husband as she seeks to honor him with her submission and respect? That will be the subject of our next article.