Updated: Mar 2
A long, long time ago, when I was in the 10th grade, my homeroom was where the Home Economics class was taught. The room had kitchenware, stove and oven, and even sewing machines in there; and occasionally, before roll call, some female student would come in with a pleasantly smelling dish of food to place in the refrigerator in the room. Cooking and sewing were seen as skills well worth practicing.
I never signed up to take Home Ec, but I did spend 2/3 of my senior year taking Typing. Both Home Ec and Typing were seen as classes for girls. One other boy and I transferred from other classes to Typing at the beginning of the Winter quarter. We were the only males in a room filled with girls pecking away at manual typewriters. We sat at desks in the back of the room, so we would not be a distraction to all the girls who needed to seriously focus on learning to type.
Because we missed the first part of the year, we struggled to get up to speed (50 wpm, 0 mistakes). We constantly had our hands in the air, attracting the attention of the beautiful and young, mini-skirted teaching assistant, so she could come answer our questions about the “home position” and how many keystroke errors were allowed. It was more an effort of hormones than a desire to master typewriters.
Obviously, my thoughts of my past are of a by-gone era, of a time when education believed boys and girls were made differently and each would need special “education,” based on gender. It was still a time when school systems believed that boys and girls would grow into gender-specific roles and responsibilities as adults. I took an extra year of P.E. as an elective one year, and then Woodworking another … both male dominated areas of interest, for careers in coaching or carpentry.
Today, we don’t think that way. There are no Home Economics classes taught in high schools … at least none that would only focus on soliciting female students. Typing is no longer a skill that only female secretaries need. Unisex computer skills are taught as workplace and home activities that everyone needs to know.
The education of my youth was geared towards maintaining a heterosexual society, where boys grew up and married girls, with babies the objective. A male-oriented military draft was in place when I was 18, where boys were turned to men … while learning what war meant. Boys became men wearing suits and ties as they entered the workplace. Girls grew into women wearing skirts and aprons in a home, family environment. Men worked to bring home the “bacon,” while women worked raising the children.
I am sure, to some, that mindset sounds barbaric, biased, and prejudiced.
Now, we argue among ourselves over which ideals of society are greatest. Equality and Freedom are God-given Rights and protected by the U.S. Constitution. Who can then say that homosexual couples cannot be married? Who can typecast or pigeon-hole anyone into some blanket generalization, one that says what little boys and girls should grow up to be or do?
Some preschools now promote boys playing with dolls and EZ Bake Ovens and girls playing with toy trucks and erector sets. Teachers in some elementary schools tell minds that are still blank slates, “You can choose what sex you want to be.” Many others object loudly to all this change thrown into a world that is no long normal or typical.
Because of all the arguing today, Proverbs 31 reads like some old fart expressing an outdated fondness of what kind of woman would make his life go easy and smooth.
I am sure that some people (not only women) read how Solomon wrote, “A capable wife who can find?” and think (if not scream out), “I thought Lincoln freed all the slaves.” Why wasn’t Solomon countering that with “A capable husband?”
Free at last!
Such thoughts are doubts about Scripture … cracks in the armor of all Judeo-Christian beliefs. Today’s reading makes the Islamic treatment of women – especially that which is most promoted by the media of the West – appear “barbaric, inhumane and cruel.” Then, the same media defends the Right for Sharia Law to be applied in Christian nations, where everyone is FREE to be whatever they wish to be.
Everyone misses the point of Solomon’s wisdom … which did not come from Solomon’s brain, but from the mind of God whispering songs for him to write down (such as this one about what a good wife’s traits are). God was asking (through the wisdom God gave to Solomon), “A capable wife who can find?”
In Genesis, God married the Spiritual (God) with the Material (Earth). Earth became God’s “capable wife.” Therefore, all that is made of clay is wife material.
If you read this and think of being a wife as slavery, then open your hearts and realize God is calling ALL of us – males and females, boys and girls – to prove ourselves as worthy of being His good wife. We should all desire to be slaves for God.
The problem is very few think that way.
This message that we are all to be wives to God is the same message I mentioned in weeks past, in particular about the Songs of Solomon. Those provocative verses are not simply sexual poems of lovemaking, although they project the love between a man and a woman … which produces the love of children. However, the Songs of Solomon are ultimately Spiritual praises of one’s love of God … where males and females take on a feminine perspective, as a bride or wife-to-be.
Our hearts should pound with excitement about how special God makes us feel.
We ALL should be willing to do everything of servitude that God wants us to do. We should be happy slaves of God. Being FREED from that devotion is to be lost.
Because we have difficulty reading Solomon as if he were telling us the character traits of a good wife and see them as meaning what the devotion of a truly faithful believer is, we need to “get out of the box” and take a second look. When we can see how ALL WE CHRISTIANS must be God’s wives … when we can see that, then we should be able to hear James’ epistle talking to us.
James asked, “Who is wise and understanding among you?” That is like asking, “Who knows they should be God’s wife?”
James knew EVERYONE not filled with God’s true Holy Spirit would be unable to understand any of the true wisdom of Scripture. Reading words written does not make one a master of interpretation, just as owning a manual typewriter does not make one an author of words of wisdom.
As far as our being at each other’s throats over women’s rights and gay rights, and trying to beat one into believing like another does, James wrote, “Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from?”
He asked, “Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you?”
James hit the nail on the head when he said, “[When] you covet something and cannot obtain it, you engage in disputes and conflicts.”
Is that not how we argue over the definition of marriage, gay rights, equal pay for women … and on and on?
Is not the grass always greener on the other side of the fence, when you see others having something you do not have? Has it not become the entitlement system of government that makes everyone believe in equality, when God made human beings different on purpose?
Did the Jews not complain about having lost their land, because they believed it was entitled to them by God? (For as long as the Covenant was maintained, they forget.)
Do not politicians light those fires of rights and entitlement, so they seem much greater than they really are? (When the same promises are always there to be promised again, because it is impossible for governments to give without taking.)
James’ answer to this arguing was simple: “Submit yourselves to God. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.”
You draw near to God by becoming engaged to Christ. You draw near to God by your submission to His embrace. God draws near to you when he marries you – when two become as one – and God sets up residence in each believer’s heart … permanently.
YOU become God’s wife. God the Father becomes your husband. You completely submit yourself to Him.
YOU never become equal to God. YOU compliment God by being living matter, from His living breath. YOU become One with God through the Holy Spirit.
Now, in the reading from the Gospel of Mark today, we see how the disciples were arguing among themselves as the group walked from Caesarea Philippi to Capernaum, in Galilee.
They “argued with one another [over] who was the greatest.”
They argued from a position of not understanding the meaning of things and their fear of seeking the truth.
They lacked wisdom … which is how all arguments over religious philosophy begin.
We do not understand marriage and neither do we understand how human sexuality “shows one’s good life, as works of gentleness born of wisdom.” Likewise, we do not understand how to be a “capable wife” to God.
We argue because we are not filled with God’s Holy Spirit … permanently. Oh sure, many of you can argue that you have felt the Holy Spirit before and dispute my saying you are not filled with the Holy Spirit.
“You want something and do not have it,” is what James would say (and did write). So, here is how you need to realize the difference between being permanently married to God … being His wife … and “getting to second base on a date with God.”
To put it in terms that old people should recognize … “second base” is half-way home, but not a score. Being on second base means no points have been registered yet, although you get credit for getting on base.
The disciples were on “second base” too, figuratively, “but they did not understand what [Jesus] was saying to them and were afraid to ask him.”
When we read, “Jesus and his disciples went on from there,” Jesus, Peter, James and John (of Zebedee) had returned from going up Mount Hermon. That was the “high mountain” where Jesus was transfigured before those three disciples. Mount Hermon is the tallest mountain in all of present-day Israel, overlooking the Damascus plain.
Then, Mark 9:14 states, “When they came [from the place of the Transfiguration] to the other disciples, they saw a large crowd around them and the teachers of the law arguing with them.” They arrived to see the disciples who had been left behind arguing with local rabbis.
In Mark 9:14 – 29 (which we do not read this year), Mark stated that Jesus healed a boy possessed by an impure spirit. Before Jesus arrived, the disciples left behind had attempted to heal the boy, only to fail and then get into an argument about pretending to be something they were not … healers of impure spirit possession.
In Mark 9:28, after the healing was done by Jesus and he and his followers had gone inside a residence, we read how, “the disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it [the impure spirit] out?”
In Mark 9:29, Jesus answered, “This kind can come out only by prayer,” where the Greek word “proseuchē” means, “prayer (to God), a proper place for prayer (when a synagogue is absent), and earnestly (as in prayer).”
The intent of that answer said, “After you have learned YOU have no abilities to heal, and when YOU realize only by being married to God can you watch God heal on your behalf.” It means a servant is only as strong as his or her Master allows. An impure spirit is too strong for a wife to order out of a host body. It could leave one body and possess the one acting as God, without God’s approval. Evil spirits can only be removed by God, making serious prayer necessary for a wife of God, to call upon God for another’s behalf.
The disciples were just like anyone who wants to be filled with the Holy Spirit. They were like everyone who can claim, “I have seen the Holy Spirit work through me!”
But, they, and others like them, were not quite there yet. None were yet at the point of crossing home plate.
The potential is there … just as a dater has the potential to make a deeper commitment to his or her date … but that potential only comes to fruition when the two say, “I do.”
Therefore, the disciples were arguing among themselves about who was greatest, because Jesus had just told them for the second time, “I am going to be killed.” Because Jesus had commissioned the twelve to heal in his name, they had been ordered to go and do marvelous things (such as healing and casting out demons). So, they were trying to figure out who would be the next leader … once Jesus was dead.
Lots of bragging going on here.
Because they were not yet permanently married to God, so they did not yet know how their future meant ALL of them would be equally great, with a commission to make many others equally great, showing believers how to be engaged to God and married by the powers of the Holy Spirit, they were at the stage of which James wrote.
James said, “You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures.”
It pleases some “Christians” to ask for equal pay, equal rights to have sex with whomever they please, as if they are the husband who will have God bless adulterous unions, as if God were submissive to them. But, it is wrong to ask for selfish things; and, it is wrong to think you know anything without deep prayer.
To stop the arguing among his followers, Mark said Jesus “sat down, called the twelve, and said to them, ‘Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.’”
Willing slaves make the most capable wives for God.
Then Jesus used a child (a relative of the group’s family) to symbolize everything. With a little child among them, Jesus said, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name, welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.”
That means: “If you welcome becoming a reborn child, one named Jesus, then you believe Jesus is truly the Messiah.” That says you believe Jesus is the Son of God.
Still, it says, “If you believe Jesus is the Christ, then you marry the Father, who will take you as His wife. Together, in you will be created that reborn child named Jesus.”
Jesus told them that he would be just another human being, if he had not married God and been filled with the Holy Spirit permanently. Jesus was a child bride, dedicated at birth; and likewise, anyone who sought that child within could obtain it through being a capable wife to the Lord.
It is the same song, different verse. It is stated by Jesus repeatedly, in many different metaphors and symbolic gestures found throughout the Gospels.
We each have to become Jesus reborn, so (as David sang) we can proclaim, “Happy are they who have not walked in the counsel of the wicked.”
The wicked love to argue and dispute. They love to make everyone equal by the stroke of a man-made law, regardless of how many are treated unequally by such words.
The wicked loved to destroy the concept of marriage and traditional values, so that children are taught confusion before they reach puberty.
We no longer teach the values of a capable wife to young girls, nor teach young boys the responsibilities of becoming a husband. We see the beliefs of the past as being obsolete … like manual typewriters, spools of ribbon, correction fluid, band saws, radial arm saws and planers.
The ways of the world are not the ways that lead to Salvation; but we have been given free will by God, so it is left up to us to choose the path we take.
Do we show a “good life where works are done with gentleness born of wisdom?”
Or, do we choose a path led by “bitter envy and selfish ambition in hearts, being boastful and false to the truth”?
While the more difficult path seeks wisdom from above, we find that purity, peace and gentleness lead to a willingness to yield to others, which makes us full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy.
Still, we cannot force that path upon anyone else; and, many will misunderstand that intent and use those words of wisdom as spears of persecution.
No one is filled with the Holy Spirit by faith alone; and, no one can force work assignments into incapable hearts.
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