A New Christmas Song (towards being honest)

This song is:

1) An attempt to respectfully add to our repoitoire of Christmas songs, while trying to be as truly historical as the other songs before it.

2) Making an attempt to reflect not only what Christmas is really about in our belief system, but also what we truly want from our All-Father.

Link to youtube video: here

Optimistic Chad

Chad really really hopes things are going to turn out ok. He loves his wife - with the passion of 1000 exploding suns, and is a diligent, but surely mediocre father to his brilliant and subversive children. He likes Chinese food.

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Musical Jesus: Jesus is the Answer by Michael W. Smith

So to kick off this post series, I thought I’d start with a campy, crowd favorite! Many (both christian & non-christian) alike mock this song for how unapologetically cheesy it comes across. The charismatic melismas and ad-libs, the piano, the quintessential choir, and the leading “trustworthy-white-male-voice” all combine to make this song sound almost like a joke or a mockery of Christian musical worship. Given all this, however – there’s something strangely comforting about this song, I like it! Maybe I have a penchant for liking corny things? But, I’m not sure I could even say that… after over 3 years of being exposed to some of the corniest white Christian rock songs in the world through campus ministries, I do have an aversion to corny things. In my experience, many of the songs that were selected (by a mostly white) musical worship team featured essentially, exclusively white musicians whose songs tended to be so “poetic” and esoteric that it would come across as pretentious and “hipster” (a la the hipster christianity wave)- I could give countless examples, but for starters , here’s an excerpt  of the lyrics of the song “He is Jealous for Me”: ( David Crowder Band)

“He is jealous for me, loves like a hurricane, I am a tree
Bending beneath the weight of His wind and mercy
When all of a sudden I am unaware of these afflictions
Eclipsed by glory and I realize just how beautiful You are
And how great Your affections are for me”


Read more: David Crowder [editor’s note: originally written by John Mark McMillan] – How He Loves Lyrics | MetroLyrics

 

Now, I’ve heard from a friend of mine who shares in the disdain for this song that it was written at a point of heavy pain and grief over the lost of a loved one and so this was the writer’s prayer/response to that. When thought of in this light, it’s not so bad but when sung as an anthem of discipleship for worship…it’s a bit awkward and I personally don’t feel the strong emotional reaction that I’m sure simply reading the song in context of tragedy might.

 

So, I say all this to say that, even in all of its campy, “corny-ness” ( which just SCREAMS late 80s/ early 90s evangelical revival..) I adore it! It makes me laugh and connects with me on a deep level at the same time. Kind of like the guy who goes out of his way to impress a girl (even if it’s excrutiatingly …corny – for lack of a better word..) , sometimes the girl can’t help but be won over by the guy putting himself out there. That’s essentially what this song reminds me of. The artists are putting themselves out there and when I listen , they’re singing with such shameless conviction that Jesus really is kind of a big deal… He’s the answer! There’s just something about this song that connects me to when I first realized the Good News. So, secretly…(or maybe not so much now..) it’s one of my favorite worship tunes, but what do you think?

(Lyrics in vid)

P.S. there’s also this version…

 

 

Harry

Like a Lotus: Born into the murky, muddy waters I was, l ived, I breathed In awe of starry veil above me and the verdant radiance around me I gazed, I glowed, I gasped Striken with gale winds I braced, I fell, I felt Like a dove He descendeth He is, He lives, He breathes Like a lotus summoned by the sun’s rays I opened, I blossomed, I live

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Bad Theology Found On tumblr: RE: C.S. Lewis & Angelicanism

Okay so today, I found this goodie on tumblr: Liam Neeson and Aslan.

Now, I am not gonna say that Aslan isn’t an allegory for Christ. But I have many problems with that Liam’s statement AND the author’s “CONCERNS.” First of all, Aslan can be Buddha? Okay, really? Really? I guess Liam hasn’t read the Narnia series or doesn’t remember the politics in them. Look Aslan is a type of Jesus, and he’s also a right wing authoritarian figure. Prince Caspian is basically a story about how democracy is bad, Aslan is “good but dangerous” hint hint hint. If you read any C.S. Lewis, especially his Space Trilogy, the guy leans heavily pro-war and conservative. Does the Buddha represent any of these values? Um no, because not every religious founder is viewed by their religion the same way. It’s like Liam is taking what he has learned from Christianity, and applying it to another religion, rather than seeing it, speaking of it on its own terms. Narnia is clearly a theistic story; Buddhism is a non-theist religion.

On the concern, and the argument that C.S. Lewis is an “intolerant” Anglican. Look, really? That’s dumb. Have you even read the newspaper headlines with Anglicans and Episcopalians? (please read the links if you don’t know what’s up) While Lewis was politically conservative, he was theologically liberal. He is what we call a universalist, that Jesus died for everyone, and that while Jesus is savior, if you worship Tash or practice another religion, you are saved through Jesus’s death and resurrection. This is the conclusion of several of Lewis’ own writings, including The Last Battle. Whether we disagree with Anglicans is a different issue, but to make claims about Anglican theology and history, without any familiarity, well, is just bad theology!

h00die_R (Rod)

priestly abolitionist time travelling supervillian

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The Bible, Homosexuality, and Christianity: Binding, Loosing, and a Conclusion

This is the ninth and final post in a series. I highly encourage that you read those previous posts before reading this one. The preface is here. The guidelines are here. A discussion of relevant Hebrew Bible texts is here. A study of Romans 1:26-27 is here. A Study of 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and 1 Timothy 1:9-10 can be found here. A discussion about marriage in the Bible is here. A few notes about gender in the Bible can be found here. A discussion about biblical interpretation and use is here.

In this last post discussing issues around homosexual practice in the scripture, I want to look at the early church. Specifically, how did the early church, using Jesus’ example and teachings, address the issues that threatened to divide it, perhaps similar to the ways that Christians are dividing themselves today. Afterwards, it seems to be prudent to use the positive and lasting examples of the early church and apply the same process in our context.

Keys of the Kingdom

In Isaiah 22:21-22, we find the words “I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David; he shall open, and no one shall shut; he shall shut, and no one shall open.” Now, in the original context, this referred to a person named Eliakim. However, in the time between testaments, many Jewish teachers believed that this verse applied to the one would rule over God’s people, or over the “house of David.” This distinction gets blurred and in the New Testament, we see the “Kingdom of God” or the “Kingdom of Heaven” being used more often.

This person, the heir to the key of David’s Kingdom, would have the authority to “open and shut.” This opening and shutting became synonymous with the Hebrew ideas of “binding” and “loosing.” More on that in a bit. This is relevant, because Jesus, upon hearing Peter’s confession of Jesus as Messiah, says this to his disciples, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

Binding and Loosing

According to Jewish Talmud: Chagigah 3b, the power to bind and loose was the power to forbid and permit. This was the ability to say a certain act was permitted for the people of God or forbidden. This even applied to laws that were in the Torah itself. One example that Jesus gives is when the Pharisees were cross with Jesus for not making his disciples wash their hands. He turns the tables on them and says that they allow people to dishonor their fathers and mothers by making sacrifice more important. In essence, they have “bound” the rules of sacrifice, and “loosed” the command that we should honor our fathers and mothers. Jesus does not condemn this binding and loosing, but rather condemning that they have acted out of selfishness.

According to Josephus, the authority of binding and loosing was indeed claimed by the Pharisees. They could admit people or banish them, as well as bind certain days to be holidays.

Further, there is precedent that when those with authority permitted or forbid something, that these decisions would be honored by God (Talmud Makkot 23b).

So, with that context in mind, read the words of Jesus himself, “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again, truly I tell you, if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.’ (Matt 18:18-20)

What Jesus is doing here is radical. He is indicating that the power to bind and loose, to permit and forbid actions, is being given to his disciples. This does not mean throwing out the law, but properly binding and loosing for their contexts, just as others had been doing before them. And whatever they decide, even in a group as small as “2 or more,” will be honored, because Christ himself will be among them. This of course, does not mean that mistakes won’t be made or corrective “binding and loosing” wont have to happen further, but it does give Jesus’ followers the authority themselves to decide how best to serve God and follow the way of Jesus in the best way possible, without fear.

Binding and Loosing Observed

It seems that the disciples (and their disciples, etc..) took this responsibility very seriously. In fact, from Acts forward, the scripture is full of this binding and loosing activity. The first one is actually in Mark 7. Jesus told his followers that it isn’t what goes into a persons mouth that makes them unclean, but what comes out of their heart. In a parenthetical statement, the author of Mark notes that the church understands this to mean that no foods are unclean any longer. Is there any doubt that this was a breech of precedent? Was there any indication in the Hebrew Bible that God wanted dietary restrictions to be temporary? No, there wasn’t. Yet, the disciples of Jesus took the words of Jesus, applied them to their contexts and “loosed” the laws around food. And bacon lovers rejoiced.

This wasn’t the only time though. Acts 10 records for us that Peter had a dream, the result of which was that God told him that “he should call no person unclean.” And thus, against his people’s laws, he went into a Gentiles home, and contrary to conversion laws and Jewish precedent, baptized a family of non-Jews because he could see that the Holy Spirit was moving in them. Peter simply made the call. He bound. He loosed.

Acts 15 records that after the above incident, many gentiles were coming into the church, and there were people insisting that they get circumcised and become Jews. Contrary to any conceivable teaching beforehand, the group decided that no gentiles should be forced to follow ANY law in the Hebrew Bible except for 1) abstain from food sacrificed to idols,  2) don’t eat blood, 3) don’t eat from the meat of strangled animals, and 4) don’t fornicate. And the reason they gave? Verse 28 – “it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us.” In other words, they prayed about it and felt authorized to make that call.

Do you worship on Sunday? Do most Christians you know worship on Sunday? Why? The Sabbath in scripture is Saturday. The reason is because some Christians bound and loosed it.

Do we condemn anyone for not staying home on the Sabbath? Do we hold rallies against people who are doctors on Saturdays/Sundays? We bound and loosed that one as well.

What about Paul’s condemnation of women teaching? Thankfully, we realized Paul was binding and loosing, for his context, and many churches have loosed that one as well.

Food, circumcision, non-Jews as God’s people, Sabbath laws… You would be hard pressed to think of any more important laws in the Old Testament. And yet, when unity was threatened, these Christians, due to the teaching and example of their Rabbi Jesus, felt approved, and indeed, responsible, to bind and loose, forbid and permit, and as a result, kept unity in the church.

Ask yourself, what did Jesus bind? He said the most important laws are to love God and love others. Those two can’t be unbound. Everything else, if the early church is any example, is up for negotiation. Not willy-nilly. Not without struggle. Not without God’s Holy Spirit. But nevertheless, it is our responsibility to do as the early church did. We must bind and loose today.

Ask yourself, how often does the Bible talk about unity? Compare that to the times it even comes close to addressing homosexuality. That alone should solve the majority of our problems.

How?

I suggest, borrowing from our Methodist friends, that the so-called Wesleyan Quadrilateral can be helpful here. In trying to seek what the church binds and looses, we seek God through scripture, tradition, experience, and reason. In all of these, we seek the Holy Spirit. And we act. We don’t be afraid to make wrong decisions, because we can always bind and loose again. But to not act, or to simply outsource our responsibility of binding and loosing to what the ancients did, or even the scripture itself, is to make idols out of things not God.

In conclusion

As a result of the last 9 discussion posts about the scripture, gender, marriage, interpretation, and homosexual practice, I have reached a conclusion. For myself, at this moment. I am only one person, and so this can’t and won’t be authoritative for anyone. Yet, I will be having these discussions at my church, and we will decide together how, or if, to bind and loose faithfully.

As a result of studying the scriptural verses around homosexual practice, I don’t think that the Bible condemns homosexuality at all, outside of pagan worship, orgies, or exploitative sex. Each instance of laws regarding homosexual practice in the Bible are one of these, and just like their heterosexual counterparts (straight pagan worship, straight orgies, and straight exploitative sex), they are condemned in that context. Monogamous, married homosexual union is never addressed in the Bible.

Marriage itself is a fluid thing in the Bible. Various variations on the one man-one woman theme are present in the scriptures, and either not condemned or allowed as normative alongside traditional marriage. This was mainly due to cultural realities and societal understandings. Homosexual marriage need not be any different due to our societal understanding today. Acceptance will neither hurt nor undermine traditional unions anymore than the variations present in the scripture did.

Gender roles in the scripture are quite fluid. There is no seemingly right or wrong way to be a Godly man or woman. God, through Jesus or the Holy Spirit, seems to treat each person as an individual, not as a member of a particular gender. And as such, there in neither “male nor female” in Christ. So there should be no problems with a homosexual person acting more like whatever traditional (or non) gender role they feel comfortable with, as God sees them as individuals first.

Jesus, not Paul or any other person, is our teacher. Jesus shows us God. Everything we need to know about God is reflected in him. He is the “image of the invisible God.” As such, when anything, even scripture itself, flows against that revelation, it is not thrown out, but it must be reinterpreted in light of Jesus. Those of us who are non-violent and believe the Kingdom of God is too, have already done this a million times. Joshua told of How God ordered the slaughter of women and children. I say it wasn’t God. I say it was the interpretation and writing of someone who was chronicling the events around God’s people and assumed it was God’s will. Well, it wasn’t. Jesus doesn’t mention homosexual practice. One assumes that if it was that important to him (who knows the future) he might have mentioned it. But our teacher didn’t.

Last, our binding and loosing authority gives us the freedom and responsibility to act in love. Love for God and love for others. Those are bound, not by us, but by God through Christ. They can’t be undone. As a result, when I look out on how LGBTQ persons have been treated, when I see the studies that suggest no vast health difference in gay and lesbian families and their straight counterparts (for children or adults), and when I see how that there are indeed many  many LGBTQ persons that seem to have had the Holy Spirit fall on them, just as it has me, I am left with no choice but to advocate for full acceptance of LGBTQ persons in our churches. As members, visitors, deacons, elders, and ministers. Openly gay or closeted. And I advocate we perform homosexual marriages. Not with caveats. And not later. Now. Regardless of what our denominations say, regardless of what the law of the land says. Let’s aim to misbehave.

In all of these things, I protect and honor the responsibility and authority of others to partake in the same process, studying, seeking God, and binding and loosing. And if there are differing conclusions, which there surely will be, that is ok. But we must remain unified. Act according to your conscience, as it is “neither right nor safe” to do otherwise. I will always be your brother in Christ, but in any case, the above seems good to me and the Holy Spirit, and now you, and I, know where I stand.

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Optimistic Chad

Chad really really hopes things are going to turn out ok. He loves his wife - with the passion of 1000 exploding suns, and is a diligent, but surely mediocre father to his brilliant and subversive children. He likes Chinese food.

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The Bible, Homosexuality, and Christianity: How We Read and Interpret Scripture

This is the Eighth post in a series. I highly encourage that you read those previous posts before reading this one. The preface is here. The guidelines are here. A discussion of relevant Hebrew Bible texts is here. A study of Romans 1:26-27 is here. A Study of 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and 1 Timothy 1:9-10 can be found here. A discussion about marriage in the Bible is here. A few notes about gender in the Bible can be found here.

The issues in this post are more important and far reaching than the last 7 combined. And the discussion has much farther reaching implications as well. Boiled down, what we discuss today is the big reason why discussions (or lack thereof) around homosexual practice tend to be so divisive in many churches. That is because no matter how Christians feel about homosexual practice, they feel more strongly and passionately about the Scriptures. The reason we are taking a bit of time to discuss Scripture itself near the end of a discussion about Homosexual practice is that how we read scripture ultimately determines how we use scripture to inform our discussion and our decisions.

What is scripture? Why do we believe it? In what sense is it the Word of God? Where does the authority of Scripture lie? And lastly, how do we use it?

The Bible is a collection of books. It isn’t one, very large book. It has many different human authors as well. It might be more helpful to think about the Bible as a bookshelf, like you would have at home. And this bookshelf is labelled “God stuff.” Now, this “God stuff” shelf only has books written between a certain number of years. Further, this shelf has a few books on it written by the same author, covering different topics. It also has books on the same topic, written by different people, with different points of view.

By the time of Jesus, the books of the Hebrew Bible (or Old Testament) were considered holy texts by Jesus ans his people. This is because they narrated the story of God’s interactions with humanity, and gave them a context in which they could participate with God in healing the world.

The New Testament tells the story of Jesus, and then also collects a series of letters and writings by Jesus’ followers afterwards. Those in the early church, while Christianity was  not yet an accepted religion, circulated and used the same books we have in our Bibles for worship, teaching, and growing in their faith.

Hundreds of years after these books initially began their circulation, Christianity became not only legal, but the preferred religion of the Roman Empire. And councils were called for various purposes to get the leaders of the universal church to come to conclusions on various matters. One of these matters was which books are we going to officially endorse as “scripture?” And thus they codified the books that were already in use. Sure, there were discussions about other books that didn’t make it in, but these books were never used as widely, never regarded as authentic, nor were they ever seen as useful in worship. The books we have were the same books used in the late first century, only a generation removed from the authors and events.

But is all scripture equal? Some, who believe that every word in the Bible is factually true, perfect, and given by God to a human, word-for-word, would say yes. Others disagree. To answer this question, we must ask ourselves where the authority of scripture comes from. If you said “God,” you would be in good Christian company, but that isn’t the whole story. To frame the question in a different way, “In what way is the scripture authoritative on God’s behalf?” Is every word in scripture inspired by God? Were the authors who wrote the scripture inspired by God, and so whatever they wrote is considered scripture? Perhaps. But, regardless of what a televangelist or a small town country preacher would tell you, the Bible does indeed have contradictions. It has errors. It even blatantly disagrees with itself. If you take the view that every word in the Bible is inspired, you have a serious problem there. Also, what do you make of words in the Bible where Paul says this: “To the rest I say—I and not the Lord…” Paul is saying that these words are NOT God’s, but PAUL’s. If ALL scripture is God’s words, then Paul is lying, or is it God lying?

Perhaps the Bible’s words aren’t inspired, but perhaps the authors of scripture are. For example, if we all of a sudden found a manuscript written by the Apostle Paul that was unknown to us before, it would make sense to include it in scripture, right? Maybe not. The problem with this view is that the authors of scripture disagree with each other. Not only that, but they actually SAY that they disagree with each other. For example, Paul says in Galatians 2, “But when Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood self-condemned.” Interesting that two people who spoke on God’s behalf, being inspired and all, would disagree with each other…

But what if there is a third option? What if the Bible is inspired, not in the authors, not in the actual words, but in the events that they bear witness to? What if the inspiration of Scripture is when God interacted with humanity in various ways, touched the lives of people, did amazing and wonderfully loving things, and people wrote them down, and wrote about what they meant. That would not mean God was any less involved, nor would it mean that the Bible is any less important for the churches or the believers. In fact, it allows the Bible to speak on its own terms, allows the authors to speak with their own authentic voices, and makes the Bible an indispensable witness to what God has said and done. And it still means the Bible is inspired.

But it also means that the Bible doesn’t stand or fall on the contradictions it contains. If many people bear witness to an event, and a few details are wrong, in our world we would not discount the event. Rather, we would take the inconsistencies as hints that the actual event did in fact take place, and was not just words rehearsed by conspiratists.

But what does this mean for how we read it? If the Bible bears witness to what God is doing, perhaps we should let the Bible speak for itself. Hebrews 1 tells us that in the past, God spoke through a variety of means, prophets, etc… But now, in the last days, God has spoken to us by his son, who is over all. It says that Jesus is everything we need to know about God. It says that Jesus is exactly what God would look like if God was human and taught and said and did everything God would do. Whoa. Jesus told a parable about a man who owned a vineyard, but leased it out to some folks to work the land. He sent servant after servant to check up on the field, but they were beaten and sent home. Finally, Jesus said, the man sent his son, whom they killed. This parable, of course, was about Jesus himself, and one of the points was, Jesus is the final word of God. Not in the sense that Good can’t or won’t speak to us again, but in the sense that if you get Jesus, you have got everything you need to know.

So why then, do we have scriptures after Jesus died? This is the core of the misunderstanding. There are those who think that God didn’t say enough through Jesus and so needed to keep talking through Jesus’ followers after Jesus ascended. Poppycock. The scriptures that follow Jesus’ ministry were not new teaching from God. The scriptures we have after Jesus are his followers’ honest attempt at taking JESUS’ teaching to vastly different places, contexts, and peoples. Paul’s letters are not Paul’s attempts at new teaching. They are Paul’s attempts to help people in various places live out Jesus’ message as best they could in their city. And as such (here is the thing), Paul’s letters do not have authority over us today in the same way Jesus’ teaching does. Scripture bears witness to Paul, Peter, John, James, and others as they try to follow Jesus in their contexts. It does damage to their intent when we blindly follow their words and parrot their phrases without doing the hard work that they did when they took Jesus’ words and contextualized them. Paul’s world is not ours. Not by a long shot. So Paul’s words should be read as a fellow follower of the teacher, not the words of the teacher himself.

Further, Jesus the final teacher, shows us exactly what God is like and how God would interact with us. As such, if we see something in Jesus that teaches us about God, and that thing doesn’t jibe with what another part of scripture seems to indicate, then we know that we must go with Jesus, even if it means that a different part of scripture now appears wrong. And, if the scripture is a witness to God’s words and acts, and not the words and acts themselves, this shouldn’t bother us so much. The person who wrote that part of the Bible witnessed God’s acts and words, and made a mistake in the interpretation or the writing. Just like we sometimes do. And God still uses us.

So for the Christian, the words, acts, life, and teachings of Jesus serve as the lens through which we see every other part of the scripture. Jesus is the reflection of God. Not the law, not Paul, not the prophets, not even Peter. Jesus.

And Jesus says nothing about Homosexuality, by the way.

Next time, we will conclude. And it’s a doozy.

Jump to part 9, Binding, Loosing, and a Conclusion, here.

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Optimistic Chad

Chad really really hopes things are going to turn out ok. He loves his wife - with the passion of 1000 exploding suns, and is a diligent, but surely mediocre father to his brilliant and subversive children. He likes Chinese food.

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The Bible, Homosexuality, and Christianity: A Few Notes on Gender in the Scriptures

This is the seventh post in a series. I highly encourage that you read those previous posts before reading this one. The preface is here. The guidelines are here. A discussion of relevant Hebrew Bible texts is here. A study of Romans 1:26-27 is here. A Study of 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and 1 Timothy 1:9-10 can be found here. A discussion about marriage in the Bible is here.

These are just a few thoughts that occurred to me in the midst of our discussion. None of this should be taken as “gospel,” – pun intended – but rather just my personal reflections on gender and the Bible.

In the current climate of discussion around homosexual practice, it has been argued that homosexuality may be wrong because it is an attack on traditional gender roles. Further, it is often said that these gender roles are rooted in scripture. Therefore, it is often argued that it is important that Christians should do everything in our power to oppose the confusion, disruption, and casting off of “traditional” gender roles that homosexuality represents. In this regard, I believe “they” are right. Homosexual people (as well as bisexual and transgender folks) do indeed seem to disrupt “traditional” gender roles. But, if Jesus taught us anything, it is that tradition that is not rooted in the scriptures AND love, may not be worth keeping. So what does the scripture say about gender roles?

Genesis 1:27 – “So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”

What this verse indicates is that God has created humans in God’s image, and that, somehow, males and females both embody the image of God. The way I read this, which may be controversial, is that without a woman AND a man, one cannot fully reflect the image of God. Women are just as important as men, and without one or the other, God’s image on Earth would be incomplete. Of course, Jesus takes this to a whole other level, and does include the whole image of God in himself, though he is a man. I wonder what that says for the women-specific parts of God’s image that are present in Jesus? It seems that Jesus may have had to break traditional gender roles in order to fully image God on Earth. Maybe.

Deborah – In the Book of Judges, we are told the story of Deborah, a prophetess and a judge of ancient Israel, led the nation and spoke the words of God to the people. While many in our current Christian culture would find this offensive, as they misuse the Bible, it appears God has no problem with women both in leadership or teaching about God.

Ruth - a foreigner among Israelite people. She seduced and aggressively pursued a relationship with a man who was her social superior. Not a very good “woman.” And yet, God approved, even in the midst of the scandal, and used Ruth to support the lineage both of King David AND Jesus.

Esther – Esther was a Hebrew girl who was forced to parade around in some sort of Persian beauty pageant in order to be given the “prize” of becoming a bride to the current king. Esther happened to win, although her life was one of misery because there were powerful forces who wanted to kill her entire race of people. Unfortunately, Esther could not ask the king to help because he had issued an edict that his wives could not speak unless called for. Esther broke this rule, disobeyed her husband’s direct order, and was used by God to save her people. I guess God has less of a problem with women submitting to men than Paul did in some of his churches.

Isaiah 66:13 – “As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.”

It seems as if God is adopting a traditionally female gender roll. Hmmmm.

Jesus – Jesus broke gender norms all of the time. For example, it was very taboo for a man to meet a women alone, let alone talk of marriage with her. That would have been fine for women, though. And yet Jesus does that very thing. Jesus lets women touch him and his feet, another gender norm broken. Jesus weeps over Jerusalem, saying how he would have protected her like a hen (female) protects its babies. Jesus refuses to fight (a traditionally masculine trait), and cooks for his friends. He allows himself to lose an argument to a female, tells parables where God is represented by females, and indicates in Luke 11 that it is not by fitting in to traditional gender rolls that people please God, but by a person’s response in spirit and deed to God’s kingdom.

Of course, Galatians 3:28 puts a bit of an easy cap on all of this when Paul says that in Christ, “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” Turning not only gender, but societal roles upside down.

Now, lest people think that I am being biased, there are indeed many verses which tell women to do some variation of submit, obey, listen, and be silent, either in marriage or at church, or society at large. However, these were all written after Paul’s writing of Galatians. Given that Paul knew and commended female deacons (Phoebe), allowed women like Pricilla and Eunice to teach others about the faith, met in a house church led by the woman Lydia, never-mind belonging to a church which was started when Peter quoted Joel as saying that daughters would prophecy, and God’s spirit would fall on men and women. Acts also tells us that there was a man who had 4 daughters who all prophesied. Now, how do you square Paul’s teaching about women being silent with those facts? Fairly easy, as it turns out.

If Paul, having an encounter with the risen Lord, comes to the conclusion that in Christ, women and men are equal, and experiences this both by looking at Old Testament examples (as above), knowing the life and teaching of Jesus, and seeing this lived out by those women in the church around him, he of course would teach in his earliest letter (Galatians) and would likely preach in the earliest churches that he started, that women were equal in every way to men. However, what would those churches look like, if, once Paul left them to their own devices, they believed Paul? What if the women started teaching and doing traditionally “male” things without all of the benefit of learning that the males had? It would likely lead to poor teaching. Also, it would upset social norms and make Christians look like rabble rousers and turn people off to the faith. So Paul, being a pastor first (a tendency we seem to forget) would write back to those churches, telling them that “I (Paul, not God) do not permit a woman to teach, etc… Of course, this is all in the context of Christians “mutually submitting to one another,” which is also readily forgotten by many today.

All of this to say, that the traditional gender roles that we hold today are not biblical ones, at least not in the best sense of the word. Perhaps a better way to seek gender roles is to look at Jesus, who never treated anyone as a gender-ed person, but as an individual. Jesus himself, in being the complete image of God, bore in his body both the male-like AND female-like image of God. Also, Jesus embodied the wisdom of God (the female version of the LOGOS in Proverbs).

In many areas of our lives that we take for granted, traditional gender roles have been broken, to no great harm. This does not mean that men and women are the same and must conform to the standard of each other in some sort of forced equality. It does however mean that God is more than capable of bringing good into the world through many variations on gender themes, not being limited to one culture’s rules about who should be acting like what simply because they have this or that reproductive part.

Jump to part 8, A discussion about biblical interpretation, here.

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Optimistic Chad

Chad really really hopes things are going to turn out ok. He loves his wife - with the passion of 1000 exploding suns, and is a diligent, but surely mediocre father to his brilliant and subversive children. He likes Chinese food.

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The Bible, Homosexuality, and Christianity: Marriage in the Scripture

This is the sixth post in a series. I highly encourage that you read those previous posts before reading this one. The preface is here. The guidelines are here. A discussion of relevant Hebrew Bible texts is here. A study of Romans 1:26-27 is here. A Study of 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and 1 Timothy 1:9-10 can be found here.

Having studied the relevant passages that have traditionally been the directly relevant ones in regards to homosexual practice, we now must do more difficult work. It has been relatively straightforward to show that the Scriptures do not unequivocally condemn homosexuality or homosexual practice. It is something else to suggest that Christians should embrace homosexuality, homosexual practice, or homosexuals themselves, because, as many argue, that this may have consequences for, or even undermine, the Biblical ideal of marriage and sexuality. So, making no attempt to be exhaustive, we now turn to a study of marriage in the scripture.

It used to amuse me, but now I find it a bit sad when I hear people use the phrase “biblical marriage.” Really, to call for “biblical” anything is courting a war of words that the people who usually use phrases like that are doomed to lose. The reason is, that like most ideals or practices, there simply isn’t one “biblical” form of marriage. The Bible is full of much teaching, and many examples of marriage that look much different than the ones we are used to. While this doesn’t mean that there isn’t one form of marriage we should endorse, it certainly means two things: 1) that we shouldn’t simply run around, shouting things like “biblical marriage,” that may sound good in a sound bite, but when scrutinized, make us look foolish… and 2) that unless we bother to take the time and study the scriptures that we claim to follow, we remain just as ignorant as others about the scriptures.

Various Types of Marriage in the Scriptures:

Heterosexual, Monogamous Marriage:

Hebrew Bible Instruction: In Genesis 2:22-24, the scripture reads: “Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh.”

New Testament Instruction: In Mark 10:8, Jesus calls back to mind the teaching from Genesis and adds to it, “‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh.”

Biblical Example(s): Adam and Eve, Isaac and Rebekah, Gomer and Hosea, Priscilla and Aquilla

Commentary: The Genesis passage is not meant to explain how we should act in marriage, but rather to explain how we got to where we are and describe how marriage started. If Adam and Eve were the only example of correct marriage, “biblical” men should only take mates that have been cloned from their ribs.

Jesus is talking about divorce, and the importance of staying together once married. He cites the first marriage, because of what it says about unity. If Jesus had meant “one flesh” to be taken as prescriptive rather than descriptive, he might have told the caught in adultery that she should go back to one of the men who she had slept with, and be his wife, rather than telling her, “so and sin no more.”

While the Scripture never says anything negative about one man and one woman being married, the verses that define marriage as only between one man and one women simply don’t exist. Which we will see below.

Interracial Marriage:

Hebrew Bible Instruction: Deuteronomy 7:3 states, “Do not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons, for that would turn away your children from following me, to serve other gods.”

New Testament Instruction: Galatians 3:28, “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.”

Biblical Example(s): Moses and Zipporah, Ruth and Boaz, Esther and Ahasuerus

Commentary: While many have condemned the Bible for this verse, saying that the Bible forbids interracial marriage, in reality, this verse is not about race at all. This verse (as Paul does in 2 Corinthians 6) critiques marrying those who will take your faith away from God. This reality of life, that our spouses deeply influence our actions, causes Moses to instruct those who are joining with God on a mission to save the world, that if they want to remain faithful, they should marry those who have the same goal. While Israel did become somewhat xenophobic, the Marriages of Moses and Zipporah, Ruth and Boaz, and Esther and Ahasuerus prove that God is not opposed to interracial marriage on the basis of race, and can use these marriages quite successfully to further God’s goal of love.

Rape and Marriage:

Hebrew Bible Instruction: Deuteronomy 22:28-29′ “If a man meets a virgin who is not engaged, and seizes her and lies with her, and they are caught in the act, the man who lay with her shall give fifty shekels of silver to the young woman’s father, and she shall become his wife. Because he violated her he shall not be permitted to divorce her as long as he lives.”

New Testament Instruction: Not mentioned.

Biblical Example(s): Dinah and Shechem. Kinda.

Commentary: Deuteronomy states that a man that rapes a woman who is not engaged must marry her. Understandably, this scandalizes us. However, as with any engagement with the past, it is unfair, even in this case, to judge those in the past by our standards. Then, if a woman was raped, she was unfit for marriage. She was likely unable to make any living for herself other than prostitution. She would likely die childless and in poverty. So, Moses commands that if a man rapes a woman, rather than collecting a dowry, he would instead have to pay $. He would be forced to marry her and never divorce, ensuring that she would be taken care of for her whole life. And the fact that towns were much smaller than they are today would shame this man into treating her well, lest he bring further shame on himself. Now, no sane person would call this a good solution, but it is at least understandable why Moses would command that the man have to pay and never stop paying, and how this would serve as a deterrent to rape, rather than simply condemning raped women to loneliness childlessness, or prostitution. The only Biblical example of this is Dinah and Shechem. Shechem rapes Dinah, tries to marry her, but her brothers kill his whole village instead. So it is clear that the Scripture calls foul on the whole rape-as-a-plan-for-marriage deal.

Concubines:

Hebrew Bible Instruction: None.

New Testament Instruction: None.

Biblical Example(s): Abraham and Hagar, Jacob and Bilhah and Zilpah, The Levite and his Concubine, David and his Concubines, and Solomon and his Concubines.

Commentary: There is no explicit instruction about concubines given in the scripture. It is simply taken for granted in the culture in which the Scripture was given. And there is some confusion as to what concubine refers to as well. The word that is translated as concubine, is likely better translated as “second wife,” with the distinction between first and second wives being that first wives (and their children) have rights of name and inheritance, while second wives do not. The scripture does make it clear that you take more wives, you should not neglect any of them. Like Abraham did… like the Levite did… And you should also not let them affect your faith because you have to many… like Solomon did…

Levirate Marriage:

Hebrew Bible Instruction: Deuteronomy 25:5-6, “When brothers reside together, and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the deceased shall not be married outside the family to a stranger. Her husband’s brother shall go in to her, taking her in marriage, and performing the duty of a husband’s brother to her, and the firstborn whom she bears shall succeed to the name of the deceased brother, so that his name may not be blotted out of Israel.”

New Testament Instruction: no instruction

Biblical Example(s): Judah and Tamar

Commentary: The idea is this: your culture tells you that getting married and having children is essentially the biggest blessing you can get, and if you were a women, essentially your only worth. This idea was not started by the Bible, but it was considered true in the cultures where the Bible sprang into. As such, if a women was barren, she considered her life not worth living and cursed (Sarah, Naomi, Hannah, etc..). So in order to preserve a male’s name and assure that his widow did not fade into obscurity and poverty, the levirate marriage was instituted. A man’s brother takes care of his sister-in-law, sleeps with her until she has a child, and then raises the child as if it was the child of his brother. This strikes us as bizarre and wrong, but that is because we are imperialistic and judgmental towards the “other” who lived in the past and clearly care more about our nice, neat morality than God did about the poor widows of old.

Polygamy:

Hebrew Bible Instruction: Exodus 21:10, “If he takes another wife to himself, he shall not diminish the food, clothing, or marital rights of the first wife.”

New Testament Instruction: 1 Timothy 3:2,12 and Titus 1:6 , Elders (and Deacons) “must be above reproach, married only once…”

Biblical Example(s): Lamech (and his two wives), Abraham (and Sarah and Hagar), Jacob (and Rachel, Leah, Zilphah, and Bilhah), David (and his 18+ wives/concubines), and Solomon (and his 1000+ wives and concubines)

Commentary: No Hebrew Bible mandates for or against, other than the ones listed with concubines. Take care of them, don’t neglect them if you have more than one, and don’t have too many or ones that cause you to fall from God. Solomon might have had trouble keeping the last few of those rules. However, the New Testament make a move regarding wives. Paul teaches that men who want to be leaders should only have one wife, indicating that those in church leadership at least, perhaps due to the extra commitment, should not be married to more than one person.

Celibacy:

Hebrew Bible Instruction: No direct mention.

New Testament Instruction: Matthew 19:12, “For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.” and 1 Corinthians 7:8-9 “To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is well for them to remain unmarried as I am. But if they are not practicing self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion.”

Biblical Example(s): Jeremiah, Jesus, Paul

Commentary: Celibacy in the Hebrew Bible is rare. It is reserved for people who consider themselves stricken (Jephthah’s daughter or for those who are already considered outcasts (Jeremiah). However, Jesus makes an interesting move in his teachings about celibacy. In this context, Jesus speaks of eunuchs, who are those who don’t (or can’t) have sex because they usually have been relieved of the necessary tools. Jesus claims that some are born that way (which may have been astounding to Jews whose Rabbis sometimes taught celibacy as a sin), Jesus claims that some are made eunuchs by others (as in some royal cases for personal servants), and some who have chosen it for themselves for the kingdom of God. In other words, Jesus suggests that there are those who act like eunuchs (no sex) in order to serve God. Paul supports this when he suggests that he wish everyone was celibate (Paul says this, not God), but that if you are too hormonal, go ahead and get married because it is better than sex outside of marriage.

Conclusion: The scriptures do not clearly teach one particular way of being married. The scriptures validate marriage, and while I didn’t get into this, the scripture validates sex within the context of marriage over sex outside of marriage. Scripture seems to react to cultural forms of marriage by introducing boundaries and guidelines for the already-existing forms of marriage of the day. The exception being that the scripture validates celibacy and raises it up to equality with marriage, and the scripture seems to indicate that those who want to be leaders in the church should not be married to more than one person. However, that is a far cry from suggesting that there is only one form of “Biblical marriage.”

King David was considered a man after God’s own heart, even though he had numerous wives and never thought it was bad, and never repented from it.

Jacob, the father of the 12 tribes of Israel, had 4 wives. He never repented from it, nor did he see anything wrong with it, nor do we see God correcting him for it, and yet God used those 12 children to create a nation that was “God’s” to assist in righting the world.

David and Solomon, both commended in the New Testament and regarded as Israel’s greatest kings, both had concubines, and were not rejected by God, even though they were warned not to have too many.

And Jesus was celibate and suggests that how we are born affects our sexuality.

There are things that the Bible (and its culture) took for granted that we simply find abhorrent. And things that we have outlawed that the Bible did not. If we look to the Bible for an airtight case about what is and isn’t marriage, we won’t find it. What we will find, is that the Scripture is more concerned about how we treat each other, and injecting the law of love into whatever cultural forms of marriage that the society takes. In the New Testament, however, we do see Jesus claiming that God is the one who joins people in marriage, and that we should be careful about separating them as a result. This leads me to believe that Jesus suggests that marriage is a spiritual union as well, not just a sexual and emotional one. As such, God’s people must act according to their faith in these matters, regardless of what the society around us is doing. If the church believes that marriage is between a man and a woman only, then they should not allow the government to tell them what marriage is or who they can or can’t marry.

Alternatively, if the church believes that the clear teaching of scripture about what marriage is isn’t really that clear and seems to be in flux, then perhaps it desires to offer marriage to those of the same gender. And as such, it should not allow a government to tell them that they cannot marry two people of the same sex. The church is not bound to its culture or its government, but it can get out in front of it and lead the way to a more loving, just society. Whatever way God leads you, don’t let your country get in the way.

Jump to part 7, A few notes about gender in the Bible, here.

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Optimistic Chad

Chad really really hopes things are going to turn out ok. He loves his wife - with the passion of 1000 exploding suns, and is a diligent, but surely mediocre father to his brilliant and subversive children. He likes Chinese food.

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The Bible, Homosexuality, and Christianity: Some Guidelines

This is the second post in a series. The preface is here.

I am attempting to be as systematic as possible about this discussion, and so I want to cover all bases I can. So after this post, I will get directly into the heart of the dissussion. First, I thought a few ground rules might be appropriate for myself. They are as follows:

1) With prayer: I have prayed about this. I am not entering into such a divisive discussion lightly, but with a desire for God to speak, and for us to be attentive, rather than dismissive.

2) It is tempting to frame this discussion in terms of “the homosexual issue.” However, I don’t feel comfortable with this framework, as it tends to see real, living, feeling people as an “issue” rather than as real, living, feeling people. As a result, I will make every attempt to not reduce the discussion to “the homosexual issue,” but to constantly keep in mind the myriad of folks for whom this is not an “issue” but a reality. Please be gracious if I fail in this.

3) Many people have an unconscious aversion to thinking and talking about homosexual acts. This, in many cases, is normal. However, I imagine the same holds true for those who aren’t simply “straight.” It is just as likely that heterosexuality can awaken an aversion in them. This so-called “ick factor” might be a reality and may not be something that can be so easily tossed aside. However, it does not, and should not, factor into a discussion about God, the scriptures, and our faith. How we personally feel or any revulsion we may have, is simply that: a personal feeling. Not God’s feeling. So lets leave them out of it.

4) I am trying to be faithful to how I understand our faith, and yet there are others who disagree and/or are gay who are trying to do the same. No matter where the discussion goes, I will not pretend that my answer is THE answer. I trust that even if the data or the Spirit pulls us in different ways, it is not because one of us is unfaithful, but that our journeys are at different places. We should endeavor to respect those who disagree, not dehumanize them.

5) The following are convenient labels, and I have borrowed them from other sources to categorize the various responses that Christians have come to. It is my hope that after the data is discussed, that I will feel comfortable choosing to dwell within one of them and then begin to concentrate on different things. The 4 categories of Christian thought are as follows:

A)     Rejection of God’s design: Being gay simply goes against God’s design and should be rejected in all ways and circumstances. Homosexuals should not be members of church/can’t lead/aren’t Christians.

B)     Welcoming but not Affirming: This is an affirmation of Christian love that requires openness, receptivity, and kindness to all human persons…regardless of any other factor, including the particularity of any kind of human sin. Homosexuality is considered sinful, but indeed, all those whom the Christian community welcomes into its worship and fellowship are sinners.

3)     Welcoming and Accommodating: The Christian community should accept the integrity of homosexual Christians and same-sex unions, demonstrating hospitality and compassion to their brothers and sisters who are homosexual. While in many cases, the heterosexual relationship of marriage will remain normative, and though a homosexual union is not necessarily an intention of God, it is nonetheless understandable, and acceptable as an alternative to those who are alternatively attracted.

 4)     Welcoming & Celebrating: Like celibacy, homosexuality is a variation in creation that does not diminish the authenticity of a person’s humanness.  Like the heterosexual orientation of life, the homosexual way of being human is the gift of God to be celebrated: It is not the disorder of human fallenness.  Homosexuality…the homosexual orientation precisely in its variation…belongs to God’s declaration of the goodness of creation.

In the next post, I would like to deal with HOW we use the Bible in a discussion about sexuality.

 

Jump to part 3, A discussion of relevant Hebrew Bible texts, here.

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Optimistic Chad

Chad really really hopes things are going to turn out ok. He loves his wife - with the passion of 1000 exploding suns, and is a diligent, but surely mediocre father to his brilliant and subversive children. He likes Chinese food.

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The Bible, Homosexuality, and Christianity: Preface

Regardless of how any government or organization legislates homosexuality, the church has a responsibility to stand apart from them and both judge their faults and set a course for peace, love, faith, and justice, quite regardless of whatever the rest of the world may or may not be doing.

To that end, I have put off doing an exhaustive study of homosexuality and my faith for far too long. And I imagine that the word “exhaustive” in the last sentence to mean something like, “as exhaustive as I can get without exhausting my desire to live.” I am sure there will always more to say.

Still, I haven’t laid down all of my cards on this issue. I am working through it, trusting that the commitments I have made to Jesus and the way I understand God and the church will be vindicated for myself. Yet, I admit, as I set out to do this, I wonder how I will feel once the data is in and the discussion has been had? I wonder if the data leads to a place I don’t want to be, what will I do? Alas, I made a commitment long ago that if God and truth are in any way friends, God would want me to seek the truth, even if it seemingly goes against what I want to believe. The following series of posts are simply my honest attempt to wrestle through a divisive issue with the resources available to me.

Jump to part 2, Guidelines, – here.

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Optimistic Chad

Chad really really hopes things are going to turn out ok. He loves his wife - with the passion of 1000 exploding suns, and is a diligent, but surely mediocre father to his brilliant and subversive children. He likes Chinese food.

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Holiday Harassment: Christmas pt. 2: Christian Origins

This is the first is a 3 part series. Part 1: Pagan origins of Christmas, Part 2: Christian origins of Christmas, and Part 3: Santa Claus and his Ilk.

In part 1, I discussed the pagan origins of Christmas. However, that is not the whole story. Christmas, in its current form, did not simply spring up or evolve from just one source, Christian, pagan or otherwise. Therefore, in the interest of fairness, here are the Christian origins of Christmas.

December 25

In the last post, I mentioned how Dies Natalis Solis Invicti was the reason that Christmas is celebrated on December 25. Well, that isn’t the whole story. While it is true that the celebration of the Sun (or Sun God) was celebrated on this day, and that some early Church Fathers commented on how appropriate it would be to celebrate Jesus’ birth on the day of the unconquered Sun, it is also true that the idea of Jesus’ birth being on December 25, predated those decisions. Hippolytus of Rome, a 3rd century theologian, makes it clear that he believes Jesus’ birth to have happened on December 25, not because of the Sun celebration, but because he believes that Jesus’ conception took place during the traditional date of the creation of the world on March 25 (which also happened to line up with the vernal equinox and often with the Jewish Passover), although he also put forth April 2nd as a date of conception in some writings. Regardless, Hippolytus felt that this proved a date of Jesus’ birth at December 25th. Still, it could have been an attempt of a Christian apologist to retroactively prove Jesus’ birth after other’s had connected the date already to Saturnalia or Dies Natalis Solis Invicti. Except… that Saturnalia was not celebrated on December 25. It was celebrated on December 17, and was lengthened over time to December 23, but never the 25. Sorry Mythicists. Further, while Dies Natalis Solis Invicti WAS indeed celebrated on December 25,  there is no mention of this celebration being held on December 25 prior to AD 354, since before this, the celebration was held every 4 years, and not on the 25th of December, and often not in December at all. This is relevant because Hippolytus died in 235, over 100 years before Dies Natalis Solis Invicti was practiced on December 25. In fact, around 200 AD, Clement of Alexandria gives us an even better clue (through his consternation), complaining in frustration that some Egyption theologians are celebrating Jesus’ birth  on December 25 (Stromata 1:21). So it seems that the December 25 date for Christmas IS actually a Christian tradition, not a lender from a pagan source.

Note: this does not actually make it true that Jesus’ was born on December 25. He almost surely wasn’t. But it does mean that Christians have honored Jesus’ birth on that day by our own (often flawed) resources, and not as a direct result of other holidays.

Christmas Trees

I did make a mention last time about Romans bringing in trees during this time, and even decorating them with 12 candles. However, no Christians are ever mentioned as taking on this tradition during the time of the Roman Empire. While this practice does seem similar to our Christmas tree tradition, the practice of bringing trees into homes to celebrate Saturnalia (or other mid-winter holidays) was long dead (by a millennium) by the time Christians began to celebrate it during Christmas time. While it is also true that many different cultures brought greenery and trees into the home during winter (from Egypt to Norway), it appears that the 16th century German Christians were the first to bring Evergreen trees into their homes and decorate them for Christmas. There is little chance that 16th century Germans relied on long forgotten Roman practice to initiate theirs. As the story goes, Martin Luther, the 16th Century German reformer, was the first to use candles and light up a Christmas tree.

And while the tree has not always been accepted as a good thing in all Christian circles, it can certainly be said however, that it too, is of Christian origin.

The Name “Christmas”

Of course, it doesn’t really take a genius to realize that the actual word “Christmas” is of Christian origin. Cristes Maesse in old English, it appeared around 1038. Christes – Christ, Maesse meaning dismissal, or colloquially, the way to refer to a church service, as in “we are dismissed to be about the mission of God.” It came to refer to the service on Dec. 25. Not much pagan there.

Nativity Scenes

The first nativity scene is said to be the work of St. Francis of Assisi. He was attempting to reverse the tide of materialism encroaching in on Christmastime around 1223 CE. Imagine if he had been around today…. mercy.  He made it up in a cave near Greccio and had live animals and people. Soon, it spread all around Italy, and was soon common practice in most churches. Statues soon replaced live people and eventually, homes adopted smaller versions. Clearly Christian in origin. St. Francis is hard to beat for sheer Christianity.

Christmas lights

Early in the  20th century, electric lights became available for use on Christmas trees (don’t believe me? Watch Downton Abby). Soon after in the mid-2oth Century, folks began using Christmas tree light on the outside of their homes. Hmmm…. since this took place mostly in America, i don’t think we can call this one Christian origin…. but it is derivative of a Christian practice.

Stockings

Well, i don’t want to spoil next week’s addition to the conversation on Santa Claus, so it will have to suffice to say that this practice of hanging stockings on Christmas Eve is particular to his legend, and not anywhere beforehand. But I won’t give anymore away, next week’s will be awesome.

So to summarize:

December 25 date: Of Christian origin

Trees in the house: Of Christian Origin (and yet attested to in many other cultures in parallel, not dependence)

The word “Christmas:” of Christian origin

Nativity Scenes: of Christian origin

Christmas Lights: of Christian origin

Stockings: of Christian origin

 

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Optimistic Chad

Chad really really hopes things are going to turn out ok. He loves his wife - with the passion of 1000 exploding suns, and is a diligent, but surely mediocre father to his brilliant and subversive children. He likes Chinese food.

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