Yes, I know, this post is late. It should have been up about four days ago. Oh well. Anyway, today the topic is leadership. What sort of advice on leadership is found in the Bible? (Hey there, Dominants, you might want to pay attention.) There are a lot of lessons about leadership in the Bible, but I am going to focus on a pair of passages from the gospels. And just so you do not think the Spiritual Discipline column is somehow unrelated to the rest of the blog, I believe these passages have a bearing on how Dominants should handle leadership within D/s relationships. Continue reading
Archive for Bible
Yes, students, it is time for another Spiritual Discipline post. Last time we covered a few things about me as a teacher of spiritual things. This time, I will transition to a full lesson from scripture. This column is still establishing a foundation (no pun intended), so I will cover a lesson I consider a fundamental one. Continue reading
Yes, at long last, the Liberate One online Bible study is here. It is called (as you can see above) Spiritual Discipline. No, that is not a title anyone suggested, but it is one I thought of after getting suggestions from a few readers. So thank you, readers. And since this is the first of (what I hope to be) many, I should start by explaining what this column is to be. Continue reading
A lot of people try to use the Bible as an excuse for promoting authoritarian policy in government. Moralists from the left and right promote their political agenda to control other people because it is supposedly what the Bible tells us to do. As you might guess, I have a problem with that. Not because I do not believe in the Bible, but because I do. Many people argue that we need government to feed the poor or tax the wealthy or protect marriage or keep prostitution illegal or any number of other things because the Bible in some way says we should. I do not agree.
What sort of government did God establish for Israel in the Old Testament? Was it one with a strong, central government that planned and controlled people’s lives? No, it was not. It was largely decentralized. When Israel demanded to have a king, God gave them a warning against it, and still they wanted a king. Getting one did not make them better in the long run.
Jesus taught that to be great and even to be a leader, is to be a servant first. One of several places in the Gospels where Jesus answers His disciples arguments about who among them would be the greatest, is Luke 22:24-27.
Now there was also a dispute among them, as to which of them should be considered the greatest. 25 And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called ‘benefactors.’ 26 But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves. 27 For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves. (NKJV)
Back then, rulers and leaders often gave themselves titles like ‘benefactor’ as a way of promoting the idea their leadership and control was necessary for the nation. Today politicians do the same kind of thing. They proclaim themselves champions of the people and insist their political ideas are the only way to help people. Jesus contrasts those who want to be in control, i.e. those who would sit at the table and command the servants, with those who serve. Jesus mentions those who exercise authoritarian control and then tells His disciples, “But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves.”
Keep this in mind when you look as Jesus’ admonitions to help those in need. Did Jesus teach that we are to tax (i.e. forcibly take money from) other people to feed the poor? No. He told individuals to give of themselves. Of whom was Jesus most critical? The Pharisees because they served their own interest in power and had made Jewish laws into a tool of oppression and control.
For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. (NKJV)
Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, 2 saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. 4 For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. 5 But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments. 6 They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, 7 greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi.’ (NKJV)
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. 24 Blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!
25 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.
27 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. 28 Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. (NKJV)
These are just a few examples of Jesus’ about the Pharisees. And there is one often overlooked passage I would like to add to this discussion.
When they had come to Capernaum, those who received the temple tax came to Peter and said, “Does your Teacher not pay the temple tax?”
25 He said, “Yes.”
And when he had come into the house, Jesus anticipated him, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take customs or taxes, from their sons or from strangers?”
26 Peter said to Him, “From strangers.”
Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free.”
My point is that while many people try to use the Bible to justify their support for various political policies they want to be enshrined in law, they are wrong. I believe Jesus makes clear that morality is about individuals making moral choices as individuals, not about forcing other people to obey laws.
If you want the government to have more of your money, then your responsibility is not to demand higher taxes, but to give your money to the government.
If you want to help the poor, then your responsibility is not to see that other people pay for a government run program, but for you to help the poor.
If you want more wealthy people contributing to programs that aid the poor and needy, then your responsibility is not to demand the government take more of the money from the wealthy, but to convince the wealthy to voluntarily give their money to help the poor and needy.
Your responsibility is not to use authority to take by force, which is what taxation does. You responsibility is to serve. Not to have the government make other people serve. Rather, for you to serve.
Yes, I know. No individual can do it alone. No one is arguing otherwise. No one is saying you cannot or should not get people to help you. What I am saying is that voluntary cooperation is moral and coerced action is not. There is no morality in paying taxes to help those in need because I have not made a choice to give or to help, only to obey the law.
Lead not by ordering people to submit and comply, but by you engaging in the act of serving. If you want to see good done, then do it.
So when political leaders speak of making other people “pay their fair share” because we have an obligation to help the poor, the sick and the needy, they have missed the point. And when political leaders have opportunity to give more and they refuse to do so, it calls into question their fitness to lead.
Yes, I have been gone a while from this blog. I know your heart pines for my words. Life is life.
Anyway, In my rummaging around links I find here and there, I came across a link to a Huffpost Religion article by someone named Greg Carey. Under his byline, it says he is a professor at Lancaster Theological Seminary. I’m sure he is very smart and highly educated. Please do not mistake what I am about to say as a criticism of his intelligence or education. Much of what he has to say in the article certainly has merit. But there is a specific comment he makes with which I take issue.
One other passage frequently surfaces in weddings but rarely in mainline Protestant churches, the Lutheran, Presbyterian, Methodists and United Church of Christ congregations that invite me to speak. Ephesians 5:22-33 commands wives to obey their husbands and husbands to love their wives. Conservative Christians may try to explain away the offense of this passage, but there’s no escaping its ugly reality. Ephesians calls wives to submit to their husbands just as children must obey their parents and slaves must obey their masters. See the larger context, Ephesians 5:21-6:9.
The “offence of this passage”, “it’s ugly reality.” I’m more offended by those kind of comments than by the passage. But I’ll come back to that in a moment.
Carey says “Ephesians calls wives to submit to their husbands just as children must obey their parents and slaves must obey their masters.” Ephesians makes no such direct comparison. At no point does Ephesians say women should obey in the manner of children or slaves. The comparison is made by Carey (and others) but not by Paul. Paul the Apostle, the author of Ephesians, is talking about relationships between people. The passage to which Carey makes reference is basically the second half of a longer passage in which Paul is talking about how believers ought to behave as they interact with other believers. I am sure it is offence to many modern eyes to see someone talk about how slaves should behave, but Paul was addressing the nature of the society in which he and the members of the church at Ephesus lived, not the society of a 21st century USA.
Which brings me back to the “offence” of Paul telling wives to obey their husbands and husbands to love their wives. It’s not an offence unless you are offended by the idea of Paul writing to the audience of his time. If you are, then you should probably also never read things like King Solomon’s Mines or The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. As someone I used to know liked to say, “If you’re offended, it’s because you’re offendable.” In other words, sometimes your offence is no one’s fault but your own. I suggest this is the case with Mr.Carey and his reading of Ephesians.
And just what the heckity darn is ugly about saying that husbands should love their wives as Christ had loved all of us? Paul also says husbands should love wives as the husbands love themselves. As a husband nourishes and cherishes himself, he should do the same for his wife. How is that ugly? Carey does not say.
Oh I know. He meant the part about wives obeying their husbands. Frankly, more women ought to try obeying and respecting their husbands. And no, I did not say women should stop thinking for themselves or remain in abusive relationships. Just because you can conflate these things does not mean you should.