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In an ariticle by The Telegraph dated 3 September 2012, the title read “ Sydney’s Anglican Church introduces a wedding vow by the bride to ‘submit’ to her husband. Critics claim it is sexist.

I am reminded of my own ROM (Registry of Marriages) party when my husband and I got married.

We had engaged a Justice of Peace (JP) to preside over our wedding. She was a pleasant and respected lady who had held a high management post in a very respectable firm before she retired.

When I showed the Justice of Peace my wedding vows, she quickly called me over. “Are you sure you want to say this?” She asked with concern, pointing to my part of the vow that read that I would “submit” to my husband.

“Yes, I’m sure,” I replied, (much to my husband’s relief I suppose). “This is the 20th century, men and women are equal,” she said respectfully. “No I want to keep the vow,” I said.

The JP (discreetly) shook her head in disbelief. 

Does being submissive to my husband make me a subservient person? 

“To the woman he said, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” Genesis 3:16 NIV

I think many Christians have struggled with how God had made Adam “rule over” Eve. How did the loving God make women subject to men in this way? Would wives be forever at the mercy and possible abuse at the hands of their husbands?

Here I’d like to introduce the concept of God’s Order of Creation and God’s View of Souls. Let’s look at the latter first. 

God’s View of Souls – 

When God created Adam and Eve, He created them in His “image and likeness”. Therefore, each soul needs to be accorded equal esteem.

“Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”” Genesis 1:26 NIV

Therefore, every soul is to be treated with the respect, honour and dignity that should be accorded to one created in the image and likeness of God. It does not matter whether you are rich or poor, man or woman, young or old.

To put it simply, “God does not show favoritism.” Romans 2:11 NIV

“My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in filthy old clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?”

James 2:1-4 NIV

Anyone who sees a woman as less honourable as a man, a poor man as less honourable as a rich one, an old man as less honourable as a young man, are all guilty of showing favoritism – condescending God Who had created this soul in His image and likeness. 

So if both man and woman (mankind) were created equal with respect to the dignity they receive as the children of God, why then must the woman submit to man? Did God make women weaker or less wise? Is God being sexist? 

This brings us to the next point – God’s Order of Creation – 

“The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”” Genesis 2:18 NIV

Note that the Lord made Eve (the woman) as a helper to Adam (the man). Not the other way around. 

“But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.”1 Corinthians 11:3 NIV

Note the Order of Creation here – it is firstly God, Christ, Man, then Woman.

Today, many women feel we need to be the head, because sometimes the men doesn’t seem to be doing his job of being the head.

But God has clearly made known His Order of Creation in the Bible. In other words, when God created Adam and Eve, each gender was to have his or her own role to play. Instead of taking over the other person’s role, as a man or woman, one needs to understand what one’s role is supposed to be. 

Adam’s Role – 

Adam needs to take up his role in learning how to manage his work matters and his household; in essence to “rule over” the “fish…,the birds… and over all creatures that move along the ground”. In other words, men are to make decisions and lead his family.

Adams, remember that God gave his command of not eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil to Adam only. He did not instruct Eve directly. Therefore, it is important that Adam (men) need to listen to God and instruct his family accordingly.

“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”” Genesis 2:15-17 NIV

When God took the rib from Adam and made Eve, He did not give the command to Eve Himself regarding the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; but it was Adam who had to tell her. (This is implied in the Bible. In Genesis 3, we read that Eve knew about the command when the serpent spoke to her.) 

In doing so, God wanted to show both Adam and Eve that Adam was the head of the two, and that God would give his commands through Adam only. As the head, it is the job of Adam to listen to God and to teach Eve. 

Eve should realise that there is no way you can usurp the role of your husband as the head of the family and still make wise decisions (in the eyes of God), because God only gives commands for the family through Adam. 

Eve’s Role – 

Eve should return to her role as the helper. She needs to let Adam learn to take up his role as the head of the household; to allow room for him to make mistakes and to learn from them. 

So then, both men and women need to return to their roles – Adam as the head and Eve as the helper. Both are subject to Christ and God. 

Otherwise, both are going against God’s order of creation. And when that happens, it is a disruption of harmony that God had intended for families. Chaos result. 

It is no wonder that quarrels and divorce are much more common nowadays.

Now you may not agree that Eve’s usurpation of Adam’s role is the main cause of disharmony and divorce in families today. Why not try going back to fulfilling your respective roles as Adam and Eve today and see if this helps create harmony and love in your family? 

For wives whose husbands do not yet know nor accept God- take heart. The head of every man is Christ and the head of Christ is God. (1 Cor 11:3) Therefore, God Himself will become your spiritual Head. 

Wives, irrespective of whether your husbands are believers, you need to submit to your husbands out of obedience to God’s Order of Creation. 

“Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.” Colossians 3:18-19 NIV

“And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.” 1 Corinthians 7:13-14 NIV

In doing so, we are obeying God’s Order of Creation. It is important to do so to maintain order and harmony in the family. 

God is orderly; and in the Bible He keeps showing us that maintaining order is essential for us to live peaceful lives. 

In Genesis, we see that God completed Creation in an orderly manner. One thing done each day. And the seventh day was a rest day. 

God made Adam first, and then Eve as his helper. 

Eve, when she disobeyed God, and took over the decision making (to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil), and persuaded Adam to do so, ending up causing both herself and her husband to be chased out of the Garden of Eden.

Adam, in listening to Eve, became the follower and not the head. 

Look at the chaos that resulted. All mankind is stained with Original Sin. 

Both Colossians 3:18-25 and Ephesians 5:21-33, as well as 1 Peter 3:1-7, all speak of God’s Order of Creation in which wives are to submit to their husbands, husbands loving wives, children obeying parents and slaves obeying masters. 

And all must submit to Christ.

Even Christ Himself submitted to God in obedience to die on the cross. 

“(Christ) Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!” Philippians 2:6-8 

Like Christ, let us submit to God’s Order of Creation. Not forgetting to accord the honour and love that each soul should receive as one made in the image and likeness of God. Amen. 

 

 

You shall not steal. (Exodus 2:15)

From the quotation above, we find that Jewish wisdom openly declares that everybody has the right to ownership, since it is only possible for one to steal from another only if the other person owns the object of desire.

The right to own things is not a man made concept, but a divine declaration for humans to observe so we may live in peace together. This is the basis why we need to return what we borrow from another.

The wicked borrows and does not pay back, But the righteous is gracious and gives. (Psalm 37:21)

Don’t be in debt to anyone, except for the obligation to love each other. Whoever loves another person has fulfilled the Law. (Romans 13:8)

These two quotations will have no basis if not for the ‘right to own’ bestowed by the Creator.

However, when we borrow something, our obligation is not just toward the person whom we borrowed from.

Before we borrow anything, we also need to consider whether our ‘future self’ will have the ability and commitment to return what we desire to borrow. When we borrow from someone else, we are essentially borrowing from ourselves, because it is our ‘future self’ who has the burden of returning what is borrowed by our ‘present self’.

Thus, we have an obligation towards our ‘future self’ when we borrow, because this ‘future self’ has a right to own things. If we borrow without having commitment and building the capacity to return the item in the future, then we are in fact stealing from our future selves and putting this other person (our future self) in debt and lack.

There is little wonder why the Lord’s hope and declaration for ancient Jewish people were that ‘Yahweh shall open for you his rich storehouse, even the heavens, to give the rain for your land in its time and to bless all of the work of your hand, and you will lend to many nations; you will not borrow from them. (Deuteronomy 28:12).

So next time you wish to borrow, consider really carefully lest you steal from yourself. All borrowing is in fact borrowing from oneself.

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. (Romans 12:3)

I always wondered how I can ever step out of myself as a third party to look back at myself with sober judgement; an honest evaluation of myself.

No! That’s not me, I can’t be like that!” Doors shut. Often, this will be the voice of resistance and the first line of defense against anyone who disagreed with what I thought of myself to be. Such is a conversation stopper. But we both know, it isn’t just a conversation stopper, it is essentially the easiest path to living in denial if what was said is true. It is at such cross-junctions that I have come to realize that the comments regardless were true or untrue, I can choose to progress and face myself with a dollop of curiosity, a dash of courage and some rationality.

Instead of throwing the ball received into the dustbin, I threw the ball back at that part of me that actually made my spouse, or my close friend, or my mum, or my dad, or my child, or my sister, or my aunt, or just an acquaintance, comment such about me. I started the FBI investigations by recalling my actions and words used, recounted the motivation that made me do what was done, opened up any cards of misunderstanding or misinformation I had. The deeper I searched within my heart, the clearer it became as each little heart in me voiced out their concerns and frustration, each needing some sort of vindication. And like Adam who named his creatures, I started naming them.

As a face is reflected in water, so the heart reflects the real person. (Proverbs 27:19)

Jewish wisdom draws a parallel between water reflecting what can be seen (external) and the heart reflecting what is hidden (internal). I have gradually come to realise that the way I react, the way I think or the way I carry myself and interact with others externally is actually a reflection of the many little hearts internally within me. In other words, because now that I have understood that I am actually made up of many little hearts, each having their own reasoning and voice, the lines between them and I became more clearly defined. This contributed to my neutrality stance; the third party perspective.

The result of having known the above?  I concluded that I, as a individual, can actually take responsible control over these little hearts of mine to my benefit by understanding them. I became a teacher to nurture them where there was a growing lack. You see, it works like this: if I had not been able to differentiate myself from my little hearts, I would not be able to detect which heart needed more attention. And of course it works both ways, if my heart benefited from the guidance given, my entire being benefits too. As King David spoke to his own heart (Psalm 42:11), I spoke to my hearts and opened a path for change:

I reasoned with my Thinking Heart,

comforted my Sad Heart,

saw opportunities and learnt  with my Humble Heart,

formulated numerous ideas with my Creative Heart when disciplining my daughter,

cautioned against breaking any eggs while carrying them with my Conscious Heart,

explained to my Understanding Heart,

waited with my Patient Heart,

felt hopeful under difficult circumstances with my Joyful Heart,

empathised with my Kind Heart,

taught self-control to my Angry Heart,

warned myself not to make use of my Crying Heart to get the things I want,

attempted to clearly express and articulate my feelings and thoughts with my Talking Heart,

composed cheesy love quotes, hugged and planted kisses with my Loving Heart.

Through the lenses of understanding, observing and learning about myself, it further gave me the confidence knowing that I can become a better me. (I am sure my husband would raise both hands and legs to agree!) On hindsight, it was my Curious Heart that made me wonder how I could ever look at myself with sober judgement. Thankfully, no cat was killed. Unexpectedly, I received my comrades for life; my Superhero Hearts.

My son, obey your father’s commands, and don’t neglect your mother’s instruction.
Keep their words always in your heart. Tie them around your neck.
When you walk, their counsel will lead you. When you sleep, they will protect you.
When you wake up, they will advise you. For their command is a lamp and their instruction a light;
their corrective discipline is the way to life.
(Proverbs 6:20-23)

Leadership should have a purpose. It’s purpose is ultimately for the benefit of the followers and the leader.

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother, in order that it may be well with you, and you may live a long time on the earth.” And fathers, do not make your children angry, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Ephesians 6:1-3)

Parents are instructed to be equipped with wisdom from God (i.e. parents must learn to follow leadership for their benefit), and impart them to their children. And children must learn to obey their parents, following wisdom for their own benefit.

Why is this the most important step?

Because when children learn to obey good leadership for their own benefit throughout the course of their younger years, they will also gain a sense of the importance and purpose of good leadership. This imparts a rationale and desire (or at the very least reduce the passiveness) to become leaders in the situations they face in life, knowing that leadership is a good thing. Put simply, no one will want to become a leader if they find no reason and purpose in leadership. And the first step to help one experience the purpose of leadership and taste its goodness is by following.

It is not easy to be a leader. One must first acquire a sense of the goodness of leadership to overcome the hurdle and sustain the willingness to be one. And for children, it begins with their parents taking up the responsibility of wise parentship, and requiring good childrenship from their young followers.

And in situations where there is no need for one to lead another, at least we will have helped children to be leaders of themselves – self-united and motivated individuals who will not easily despair.

What has money got to do with blood?

In many ways, money is like blood.

Blood is a body fluid in humans and other animals that delivers necessary substances such as nutrients and oxygen to the cells and transports metabolic waste products away from those same cells. Blood is circulated around the body through blood vessels by the pumping action of the heart.

In human society, money largely enables the exchange of goods and services, so that people can provide for what others need, and receive what others can provide for them. On the positive side, money carries the spiritual qualities of humans’ work, creativity, care and concern for one another through it’s flow in the economy.

Next time you need an analogy for money, think of blood and you will realise how precious and important money is for human society and yourself. It helps prevent us from gross greed or dishonesty when dealing with money, knowing that the other party needs that ‘blood’ to provide what we need. Also, it motivates us to participate in society to provide for what others need so this ‘blood’ will flow into us in order that we can continue to function as part of the human race.

My child has two Teachers; Discipline and Pain.

Proverbs 3:21
My child, hold on to wisdom and reason. Don’t let them out of your sight!

Discipline uses wisdom and reason to teach;
to guide;
to warn;
to love;
to renew;
to foresee;
to create knowledge;
to give instructions;
to draw boundaries and keep you safe;
to bring joy to the hearts of Papa and Mama.

Pain is the consequence of actions that comes from a heart that is turned away from Discipline.

It stings and
It creates tears
BUT sorrows will turn into joy when a Foolish heart becomes a Wise heart and a Wise heart becomes a Wiser heart by adding to its learning.

Proverbs 9:9
Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still;
Teach the righteous and they will add to their learning.

Little by little, one step at a time. A brick is built upon another to form a firm foundation.

It creates a platform for free exchanges of ideas, greater interactions, and improved understanding between my child and I.

It creates an opportunity to recap a heart-wrenching lesson we both have learnt and is now capable to laugh at it together.

Proverbs 23:15
My son, if your heart is wise,
My heart will also be glad.

Words. Spoken words are powerful. How powerful? God said and the world came into existence.

Genesis 1:3
And God said,”Let there be light,” and there was light.

What comes through as spoken words, first goes into the heart and mind. What thoughts do we infiltrate into the little hearts and minds of our children? Papa and Mama’s spoken words.

Proverbs 1:8-9
Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching.
They will be a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck.

Papa’s words protects and brings honour to his child.

Mama’s words strengthens and brings sophistication to her child.

Proverbs 23:16
My innermost being will rejoice when your lips speak what is right.

Words go both ways, to the listener and then back to the speaker; the Creator God, whom in His heart and mind, thought of me when He spoke the world into existence.

Be aware of what ideas and how words are prone to come out of ourselves, and also those that we are prone to receive and hold tightly – like seeds and swords, they have power. They become the most powerful when they no longer need be sown or wielded, ingrained in our actions or non-action.

During my travels to Korat and Bangkok, Thailand in the late 90’s, at many bazaars, one would hear stall owners saying ’Same same’ in their local accent to customers, in the bid to convey that their products were similar in quality but cheaper than the next stall’s.

As years went by, this would become iconic and the ‘Same same’ phrase started appearing on Tshirts and other products. Not long after, someone started tagging the words ‘But Different’ to it, and so became ‘Same Same, But different’. I believe this was meant to be a cheeky response to the shop owners, saying that surely there were some differences. But I think this goes deeper when applied to humanity and cultures. On the positive side, it implies that although we are all humans, we are not identical but unique individuals. However, seen negatively, this emphasizes our differences and separates us, and it needn’t be.

Let’s twist the phrase around, and it makes a big difference – ‘Different, but Same Same’ – that although we are different, there’s so much that are similar among us, in all of the happiness, dullness, sadness, and suffering we encounter. In fact, I believe our differences are superficial but our sameness are fundamental.

“For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s future. And we are all mortal.”
– John F Kennedy

“Each day holds a surprise. But only if we expect it can we see, hear, or feel it when it comes to us. Let’s not be afraid to receive each day’s surprise, whether it comes to us as sorrow or as joy. It will open a new place in our hearts, a place where we can welcome new friends and celebrate more fully our shared humanity.”
– Henri Nouwen

Hopefully our same-ness will surprise, interest, shock, awe, tickle or even bring us to tears.

“I came across humanity in Istanbul, and all I know about life comes from Istanbul, and definitely, I am writing about Istanbul. I also love the city because I live there, it has formed me, and it’s me. Of course it is natural. If somebody lived all his life in Delhi, he will write about Delhi.”
– Orhan Pamuk

We need one another to reveal our own humanity. Same same but different but same same!