Thursday, November 11, 2010

Romans 9 -- gender issues

We attend a Methodist church on Easter Sunday morning, since my wife grew up in this community of faith. This church is placidly dying. Every year, the median age of the members increases, and young blood is not coming in to replace the bald pates and blue hairs[1] who are on their way to the church yard.[2]

They demonstrate what happens when a "people of the book" refuse to take their own book seriously. For several generations, the official ideology of the United Methodist Church has denigrated the Bible, embraced some alternate Ultimate Authority, and attempted to re-read and re-write the Bible in terms of those "truths" they consider to be truer than this book.[3] Thomas B. Altice, a professor at the Methodist Emory University, for example, got his 15 minutes of fame by reinterpreting Christianity in terms of Martin Heidegger's existentialism. The typical liberal theologian, you see, is a pathetic pantywaist, unable to generate new insights, but only to recycle the garbage that unbelieving philosophers proposed a generation earlier, and are already discarding. Theological liberalism refuses to admit the possibility that Christianity might actually have its own identity. Rather, these precious little pundits pronounce, Christianity is really something else in drag.[4]

Feminism seduces the would-be, with-it, experts of our day. Somehow, the glorious differences between male and female, that reflect something of eternal reality, are a horrible discrimination that must be eliminated. No organization is allowed to have a Chairman any more, only an emasculated Chair. Consider how this pathological hatred of manhood plays out in Psalm 100. As traditionally translated:
1Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.
2Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
3Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
4Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
5For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.
The latest Methodist hymnal would have the church members recite this psalm as follows:
3Know that the Sovereign One is God: it is God that has made us, and not we ourselves; we are God's people, and the sheep of God's pasture.
4Enter into God's gates with thanksgiving, and into God's courts with praise: be thankful unto God, and bless God's name.
5For the Sovereign One is good; God's mercy is everlasting; and God's truth endureth to all generations.
Those blasphemous and accursed innovators who lay foul and reckless hands upon God's Word find it offensive to apply masculine pronouns (he, his, him) to God. I once heard one such lunatic sweetly lisping the invented word godself to avoid besmirching his lips with the word himself, when speaking of his Maker.

I like the position C S Lewis took. The Creator is so intensely the Initiator and Source of all that the entire universe is feminine by contrast. Which brings us to some thoughts from today's reading in İncil:
Rom 9:14 Öyleyse ne diyelim? Tanrı adaletsizlik mi ediyor? Kesinlikle hayır!
Rom 9:15 Çünkü Musa'ya şöyle diyor: "Merhamet ettiğime merhamet edeceğim, Acıdığıma acıyacağım."
Rom 9:16 Demek ki bu, insanın isteğine ya da çabasına değil, Tanrı'nın merhametine bağlıdır.
Rom 9:17 Tanrı Kutsal Yazı'da firavuna şöyle diyor: "Gücümü senin aracılığınla göstermek Ve adımı bütün dünyada duyurmak için Seni yükselttim."
Rom 9:18 Demek ki Tanrı dilediğine merhamet eder, dilediğinin yüreğini nasırlaştırır.
Rom 9:19 Şimdi bana, "Öyleyse Tanrı insanı neden hâlâ suçlu buluyor? O'nun isteğine kim karşı durabilir?" diyeceksin.
Rom 9:20 Ama, ey insan, sen kimsin ki Tanrı'ya karşılık veriyorsun? "Kendisine biçim verilen, biçim verene, 'Beni niçin böyle yaptın' der mi?"
Rom 9:21 Ya da çömlekçinin aynı kil yığınından bir kabı onurlu iş için, ötekini bayağı iş için yapmaya hakkı yok mu?
Rom 9:22 Eğer Tanrı gazabını göstermek ve gücünü tanıtmak isterken, gazabına hedef olup mahvolmaya hazırlananlara büyük sabırla katlandıysa, ne diyelim?
Rom 9:23 Yüceltmek üzere önceden hazırlayıp merhamet ettiklerine yüceliğinin zenginliğini göstermek için bunu yaptıysa, ne diyelim?
Rom 9:24 Yalnız Yahudiler arasından değil, öteki uluslar arasından da çağırdığı bu insanlar biziz.
Let's look at a few words from verse 20, Ama, ey insan, sen kimsin ki Tanrı'ya karşılık veriyorsun?:
  • Ama, -- But
  • ey insan -- O man [5]
  • sen -- you
  • kimsin ki -- who might you be that
  • Tanrı'ya -- to God
  • karşılık -- back-talk, sass, disagreement
  • veriyorsun? -- should make?
And, let's look at a concept from vs. 21 (bir kabı onurlu), the vessel of honor / dishonor. Traditional kilns are temperamental tools. It takes a lot of painstaking care to ensure even heat distribution inside a wood- or coal-fired kiln. If you are firing a delicate, elaborate, piece of ceramic work, small fluctuations in temperature can cause the item to break. To protect the costly "vessel of honor," the potter would throw[6] a "vessel of dishonor" -- a larger, cruder, hastily-made pot -- and place it over the kabı onurlu. The two would go through the fire together, and the outer vessel would absorb thermal shocks. When the kiln was opened, the vessel of dishonor was a use-once throw-away item, for nasty or noxious substances.

God, for reasons of His own, makes some people His own -- but even the others serve His purposes.


[1] Older ladies often apply a treatment to their hair which gives the gray tint a faint shade of blue. The term "Blue Hairs" refers to aged women who are aware of their appearance.

[2] When you bike through rural areas in the USA, you will often see churches with graveyards adjoining them. The older tombstones will often bear names shared by streets and other landmarks in the area. The family name of the gloomy Danish philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard, means church yard / graveyard.

[3] If these people would have the decency to become Muslims, they would at least still believe in God, rather than hide their atheism in order to live on the funds provided by God-fearing Christians!

[4] Homosexual men who wish they were female are "in drag" when they dress up like women.

[5] The English word O is a "vocative" word, an exclamation designed to draw the attention of the party invoked. The English word Oh is a general-purpose exclamation of mild surprise or dismay.

[6] Potters don't make pots on the potter's wheel, they throw them.

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