Preaching the Word

I have just returned home from our morning service at church, and I really do not know whether to laugh or cry. I have no problem that the text for the sermon was Acts 11 vv 19 – 26, the story of the Jerusalem church sending Barnabas to Antioch, and Barnabas collecting Saul from Tarsus to bring him to Antioch to help teach the new believers there.

I think it is good to teach the church members to encourage one another. The story of Barnabas and Saul teaching the church in Antioch is a story of encouragement. Can you imagine what you would feel if someone who had been a witness at the start of the persecution of the Church was coming to teach you about belief. That was Saul. No doubt Saul needed encouragement from Barnabas to go to Antioch to help this new church and no doubt the church in Antioch needed Barnabas to encourage them to let Saul meet them.

The minister then went on to talk about using a programme called “Leading Your Church into Growth” and suggested that we all need to invite new people to come to church. All very praiseworthy.

Except for the “joke” he used to begin his sermon. The old chestnut about a woman who tells her husband that she always carries his picture with her and looks at it if she meets any problems because looking at his picture makes the problems seem insignificant. Husband thanks wife and asks her why looking at the photograph makes the problems seem less problematical. She replies, compared to you, all my other problems are insignificant. This minister is the man whose wife bragged in front of him that she does not submit to her husband. If this is his attitude, then all I can say is “No wonder!”

I did not say anything about this to the minister after the service because I knew that we were going to go into our church’s AGM, and I did not want to have anyone feeling a little hot under the collar.

I did think of Brian, whom I mentioned before and how he would have felt had he been there. I thought of Simon, another friend whose wife at one stage in the past refused him sex for a period of fourteen months – relenting only when he decided to leave her – and how he would have felt there. I looked around at the congregation and noticed that men were even thinner on the ground than normal, and wondered, “Why?”

Then I asked myself why should I continue in this church. The answer is for the housegroup. We hear less and less in housegroup how this or that book has never been preached on in church. When we decide to study a book, we go through the book, chapter by chapter, and we do not miss out the difficult passages. Sometimes we take two or more weeks to study a passage that the study guide we use suggests we could deal with in one session, but the folks who are there know that their views are valued by the whole group as we struggle to examine how we put biblical teaching into practice.

The question that I need to answer is whether God has called me to remain in that fellowship although the reason for attending that church initially, because my younger daughter wanted to attend and after prayer with my wife we both believed that we were called to go to the fellowship where our children would want to attend.

About UK Fred

A Christian who cares that the church in Britain conforms to societal demands, rather than transforms society. I am particularly concerned with the lack of support for marriage and the acceptance of divorce in the church. I also care that the body politic in Britain seems to be corrupt and in need of a good shake-up.
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15 Responses to Preaching the Word

  1. 1wanderingtruthseeker says:

    I can not in any way see a bible passage that says it’s ok for men to act this way. I also read another article about some church members find it biblical doctrine to spank their wifes for misbehaving. Please don’t let your daughter be influenced by this crap.

    • ukfred says:

      Can you be more specific in what you say I should not let my daughter be influenced by, please 1WTS?

      • 1wanderingtruthseeker says:

        It sounds like everything is blamed upon women and man rules all. They like to add the subservant, but neglect the rest of it, by not saying how the husband should treat and love their wives like Christ loved the church. He was willing to die for his bride.

  2. ukfred says:

    In the example that I quoted, the wife has quite explicitly stated that she will not submit to her husband. This is in defiance of Scripture. I believe that her husband, by making the joke he made, was denigrating men in general, and saying that men do not deserve respect from their wives. Again, that is encouraging women to disobey Scripture. I do not say that either the one or the other is all wrong.

    I like the analogy of the Captain and First Officer of a ship as a metaphor for marriage. Both have their roles and duties. In the Captain’s absence or incapacity, the First Officer takes over, but when both are present, the Captain is responsible. Again this is not to say that the wife should blindly obey every instruction that her husband gives. The first officer has a responsibility to the Captain to point out matters that the Captain may have missed.

    I have explained to my wife that while I like some dishes occasionally, I do not like to have them too frequently. Other than that, I do not get too involved in menu planning in the household, but if my wife needs some help, e.g. peeling potatoes so that we can have a meal quickly before we go out, the I will help as and where required.

    When the chips are down, one or the other has to have ultimate authority. The exercise of that authority has to be in accordance with all of Scripture, and not just one verse or another.

    The problems arise when we are talking about people who have been harmed by others. When a man is told by his wife, out of the blue that she is leaving him because she needs some space, she harms him. Had I invited a friend who is in that situation in real life to church this morning, I would have been even more embarrassed to hear that joke.

    This church already has a preponderance of women in membership and in the congregation. It is a slowly declining church. these two factors go together. Such misandric humour will not help to balance the numbers of men and women.

    • 1wanderingtruthseeker says:

      I have not heard a word from you about bibical responsbilty of a husband has toward his wife. Are we reading the same bible?

      • UK Fred says:

        We are. But the “joke” was not about a husband’s responsibility to his wife, but his wife’s failure to respect him. The minister concerned said nothing about the husband’s requirement to love his wife but only mocked the wife’s Scriptural requirement to respect her husband.

  3. Jon Gleason says:

    Ephesians 5:22-33. If the leaders of a church can’t handle the illustration of the church’s role, that wives are to submit and respect their husbands, how will the handle the thing which it illustrates, the church’s submission and respect to Christ?

    I Timothy 3, Titus 1. The qualifications include “rules his house well.” If his wife doesn’t submit as God commanded, we’ve got a problem there, don’t we? Almost invariably, when a minister falls significantly short in one qualification, he’ll fall short in others, if you take the time to really look.

    We’re commanded to separate from false teaching (II John) and idolatry / apostasy (II Cor. 6:14-17). By remaining in the Methodists, a church remains in fellowship with both of those things. So the church is not obedient.

    All that said, no church is perfect. The church at Corinth wasn’t, and Paul didn’t tell them, “You all leave and go to the church at Cenchrea.” He told them to sort it out.

    But if the church won’t sort it out….

    May the Lord give you wisdom. I wish I had a good church to recommend for you.

    • UK Fred says:

      There are about a dozen faithful people here who are working to keep the preachers on the straight and narrow. I believe that I am called there by God to be an encouragement to those who at times have despaired of their denomination falling into the hands of liberal theologians. It is a case of being assertive and at times courageous, because at times I felt that I was a lone voice, but I have been surprised by the support I have received and quarters from which I have received it. We now have three men and three women in the church who are prepared to challenge thinking that is contrary to the teaching of Scripture, at least two of whom were previously afraid to voice their opinions.

      • Jon Gleason says:

        I always like the story of Gideon. His father wasn’t standing, his father had an idol to Baal. But when Gideon stood for the Lord, all of a sudden his father did, too.

        I continue to pray for you.

  4. Availeth says:

    Hello. Long time since I’ve been here and I thought I’d stop in for a look.. But I feel a bit like a moth or some other flying creature not quite wanting to land on this hot surface of a subject or even peer very intensely at it. I hate things that pit one person against another, no matter what station in life they hold. And It almost pained my heart to read your sentence about the preponderance of female membership being a death knell for a congregation. Actually, I’ve noticed that too, but I don’t attribute the decline to women themselves. Most churches I’ve visited are filled with lonely women who wonder where Christian men have gone, and most men see congregational life as feminine or unmanly, and the divide grows wider and wider.

    It’s sad to me that prayer meetings and teaching children and sharing thoughts over coffee in a mixed group is seen as unmanly, is seen as “womanly” (as if there’s something wrong with being “womanly” anyway).

    And I could touch down on this surface for a few seconds to say that I did not hear that joke quite the way you did. I heard it as a comment on how hard being married must be, as if dealing with her spouse is her most difficult challenge. Don’t most married people speak of the rigors of marriage anyway? And it’s interesting to me that the joke is perhaps tolerable when spoken by a woman but much less by a man. If its meaning is more along the lines I’m thinking, then imagine how much more loaded it would sound from him to her? It’s a reverse sexism that would prevent a man from speaking plainly about relationship struggles.

    And Fred, I saw your phrase up there “when the chips are down…” Maybe I’m completely wrong (actually, likely so, since I’ve never been married), but I think “the chips” are seldom down, really. Most things don’t need to be on the level of “authority” in one way or another. I think very few issues are that weighty or controversial. Certainly not menu planning or household chores or mundane dailies that have no inherent gender mandates. Maybe money spent and ministries chosen are worth wrangling over and tap leadership and submission naunces, but it seems to me if the topic comes up very often, then that (frequency and focus), in and of itself belies a problem.

    Lastly, why does everyone always quote that Ephesians verse and never repeat the one right after it… “submit to one another”? In the end, we should all be submitting to one another, is what Scripture is saying. (and just as an aside/tangent just now…. Sorry I’m so ungrammatical… I wonder what you or others would say to a scenario where a wife wanted something sexual her husband didn’t want to give. Should he submit to her? Would it be the other way around?

    Meh, I dunno. We should all just be angels in heaven (oh.. except those are only ever seen in male form, dang it) lol

    • Jon Gleason says:

      The “submit to one another” is in the preceding verse, not the following. The order matters. You have a general statement, then specific applications of it. The wife submits by yielding to the husband’s authority. The husband submits by giving himself as Christ gave Himself, in true loving leadership.

      As for the “scenario”, I recommend I Corinthians 7:1-5. There is mutual authority in this aspect of marriage. Neither spouse can deny a spouse’s authority over his/her body. We can’t make demands that violate our spouse’s rightful authority over our body. We can’t make restrictions that deny it, either. If a couple can’t mutually agree on how they lovingly apply that, the husband has to Biblically lead in a way that protects his wife.

      What a wife or husband “wants” is a dangerous guideline. We live in a society that idolises wants/desires/pleasure. These have a very important role in marriage, but they are there for a purpose, not to rule us. If you are interested, you could check my recent posts on Proverbs 5:19 and Psalm 45.

      • Availeth says:

        Thank you for your response. Long while back Fred encouraged me to read your writings, and I did go there and found a very insightful thing. I need to spend time reading good things, need to not be lazy. A close friend of mine, a wonderful woman who has walked with God for years, introduced me other some other good sermons too… someone named Timothy Keller. Only read one of his, too, lol. I will, pastor. Although… as far as your last paragraph… I don’t know why I should linger over the topic. Probably don’t need to be thinking about it at all as it no longer matters. Fred, I hope I didn’t offend you. I should just be quiet when gender subjects come up. The only thing that’s ever helped me make sense out of it all was 1st Corinthians 11:10. Maybe other people come away with the same take on that, I don’t know, but it closed the loop for me that began with Genesis 3:16. Sighhh. Let’s talk about politics, lol.

      • Jon Gleason says:

        Re: my last paragraph, if you aren’t married or planning marriage soon, it might indeed not be best to spend too much time on the topic.

        As to the verse order, the Lord is really good at letting us get busted when we get cocky or on a rant. 🙂

  5. Availeth says:

    By the way, I’m embarrassed that I asserted that verse was following and not preceding. and I knew the order did matter. Heh, nearly every time I get on a rant or a little cocky about something without double-checking it, I get busted.

  6. UK Fred says:

    Availeth, please don’t worry. When I get over-confident about things, I trip up over my own big feet, usually in the most obvious, public way and generally make a right spectacle (translation to English: fool, twit) of myself. It when I realise my need for Jesus that I start to get things a bit nearer right.

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