Christianity

Chris·ti·an·i·ty: The religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. Christians believe that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, sent by God. They believe that Jesus, by dying and rising from the dead, made up for the sin of Adam and thus redeemed the world, allowing all who believe in him to enter heaven. Christians rely on the Bible as the inspired word of God. Posts in this category pertain to social, political, philosophical, and moral issues regarding Christianity.

OYB 2009: 04 January

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Today´s reading:

Genesis 8:1-10:32 ◊ Matthew 4:12-25 ◊ Psalm 4:1-8 ◊ Proverbs 1:20-23

God's Promises - OT:

21 The LORD smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: "Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.

22 "As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
summer and winter,
day and night
will never cease."

Genesis 8:21-22 (NIV)

It is reassuring to know that God has promised that the continuity of seasons and time will endure as long as the earth does. While there are times in our lives during which we wish time could stand still, there are also those times during which we take comfort in knowing that "this too shall pass", and that what we are going through is only temporary.

I must admit, though, that I don't entirely understand the first part of the promise: that God will never again curse the ground because of man. On the one hand, I don't know if this promise bounds the consequences handed down to Adam after the fall, though it certainly doesn't nullify them - as man still must toil to produce crops from the ground. At the very least, this promise should disprove subsequent claims - be they biblical or more modern - that God has "cursed" the ground due to sin or sinfulness of man. Certainly drought and famine are part of our world; however, they are caused not by God but rather are a symptom of the fallen world in which we live.

8 Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: 9 "I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you 10 and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you—every living creature on earth. 11 I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all life be cut off by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth."

12 And God said, "This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: 13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. 16 Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth."

17 So God said to Noah, "This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth."

Genesis 9:8-17 (NIV)

This covenant between God and all life on the earth is one of the most well-known covenants in all of Scripture. The rainbow is a sign visible still today that God has promised never again to destroy all life on earth via flood.

God's Promises - NT:

"Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men."

Matthew 4:19 (NIV)

Jesus makes this promise specifically to Simon Peter and Andrew, but its application can be generalized: God has given each of us specific skills and abilities, has placed each of us in specific circumstances in life, and intends for us a specific plan and purpose for our lives to use those skills, abilities, and circumstances for His glory.

One Year Bible Blog

The One Year Bible Blog´s comments for today, which asks:

We read about Jesus calling Peter and Andrew in the Gospel of Matthew today. Do you think Jesus still calls people today? Can you share with everyone in the Comments section below a time in your life when felt that you were called by Jesus? Maybe it was a time when you were called to follow Jesus for the first time or maybe it was a call to love or serve others in a new way for you? Do you think that Jesus is calling you to something new in your life now in 2009? Do you know what Jesus is calling you to do? Will you do it?

God absolutely still calls people today - a fact to which I can attest personally. I have recognized a call to the mission field from as early as 12 or 13 years old. Since then, God has provided me opportunities to realize that calling via short-term mission work, though I look forward to the day when I can fulfill that calling full-time. In the meantime, I remain patient, knowing that God has also called me to be a husband and father, and has placed me in the circumstances (location, career, etc.) in which I find myself.

I am thankful that I have a family with whom I can share this eventual calling. I also find it fascinating that my grandfather, after he was saved, wanted to become a missionary. He never got to do so, and I believe that, if he had a calling to mission work from God, that his calling was passed on. I pray that the call on my life may also pass on to my children, as well; but I know that, whatever God's calling on their lives will be, He will be glorified.

OYB 2009: 03 January

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Today´s reading:

Genesis 5:1-7:24 ◊ Matthew 3:7-4:11 ◊ Psalm 3:1-8 ◊ Proverbs 1:10-19

One Year Bible Blog

The One Year Bible Blog´s comments for today, which asks:

Are you memorizing Scripture on a regular basis? Are you bringing Scripture to mind when faced with temptation or sadness or whatever ails you? I would love to know which verses you have found useful in your life? Do you have advice on how to best go about memorizing Scripture? Will you join me in my plan to memorize more Scripture verses in 2009? Also, what verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings?

I have always stressed the importance of memorizing Scripture. My first year through the One Year Bible, each day I highlighted a notable Scripture, many of which I memorized. Many years in Bible Bowl, I memorized the text, which consisted of about 40 chapters of a book (or several books) of the Bible.

That said, as I mentioned yesterday, I believe that it is not the memorization that is key, but rather an attitude or desire to have the Word ingrained in one's heart and mind. The desire and act of memorizing Scripture is but fruit borne from that attitude/desire - important fruit, to be sure; but merely fruit, nevertheless. It is the attitude of delight in God's Law that leads us to meditate upon it, yields a desire to know God's Word so deeply as to memorize it, facilitates its memorization, and enables us to bring His Word to mind and to apply it in resisting temptation and mastering the sin that crouches at the door.

Likewise with the temptation of Christ, the part of the story that is sometimes overlooked is that between Christ's baptism and temptation is a period of fasting. Undoubtedly, during the 40 days and nights this fast, Jesus immersed Himself in prayer and meditation. I have heard some say that this forty-day fast left Jesus in a weakened physical state, and therefore more susceptible to temptation. However, I would counter that this forty-day fast left Jesus in a heightened spiritual state, and therefore better prepared to resist temptation.

OYB 2009: 02 January

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Today´s Reading:

Genesis 3:1-4:26 ◊ Matthew 2:13-3:6 ◊ Psalm 2:1-12 ◊ Proverbs 1:7-9

God's Promises - OT:

And I will put enmity
between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
and you will strike his heel.

Genesis 3:15 (NIV)

God spoke these words to the Serpent (Satan) after Adam and Eve sinned, prompted by the Serpent's deception. With these words, God is foretelling the coming and redeeming work of the Messiah: His promise of man's salvation.

One Year Bible Blog

The One Year Bible Blog´s comments for today, which asks:

What is your reaction to reading about The Fall in Genesis today? Is it painful to read about The Fall after reading about The Creation yesterday? If Satan was able to deceive Adam & Eve back then, do you think he still deceives people today? What is our remedy from the lies and deception Satan might throw our way? Do you believe reading and studying God's Word on a daily basis might be one remedy? What are some other remedies? (prayer, going to church, being in a small community group with others, etc.?) Do you believe Jesus has saved us from The Fall? Also, what verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings?

My reaction to the fall is that it was inevitable, and that I am grateful that God instituted His plan for salvation even from the very beginning. It isn't terribly painful to read about the fall after reading yesterday about the perfection of creation, because, except for man, creation was not made in God's image. Creation even before the Fall was but a glimpse of what eternity will be like. That we now live in a fallen world is merely a further reminder of that for which we hope.

Satan absolutely deceives people still today. The best - and only - remedy was given to us in yesterday's reading: delight in and meditation upon God's Law. All else springs from this foundation. It is not the action of studying God's Word (or anything else, such as prayer, church attendance, relationships, etc.), but rather an attitude of desire to please God and to follow His Law that enables us to master the sin that crouches at the door.

OYB 2009: 01 January

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Today´s Reading:

Genesis 1:1-2:25 ◊ Matthew 1:1-2:12 ◊ Psalm 1:1-6 ◊ Proverbs 1:1-6

God's Promises - OT:

16 And the LORD God commanded the man, "You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die."

Genesis 2:16-17 (NIV)

Not all of God's promises seem pleasing to us. For example, the very first promise made by God introduces man to the concept of morality and the consequences for acting outside of God's established moral law.

God gives man every good and perfect thing to meet his every need, but this man who was created as a physically mature adult came into being also as a spiritually immature infant. In the midst of this perfect setting, God presents man with a choice, in order both to begin his moral training and also to demonstrate that man cannot meet God's moral standard on his own.

Adam does not understand the consequence of violating this first boundary given by God. He believes God to be referring to physical death, while in reality God is referring to spiritual death. This misunderstanding facilitates Adam's later deception.

God's Promises - NT:

20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."

Matthew 1:20-21 (NIV)

The promise given here is delivered by an angel of the Lord to Joseph, but it is God's promise to man that Jesus was to be the Christ (Messiah: the Anointed One), God come to earth as man (Emmanuel), to save man from sin (Jesus).

God's Promises - Psalms/Proverbs:

1 Blessed is the man
who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
or stand in the way of sinners
or sit in the seat of mockers.

2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers.

Psalm 1:1-3 (NIV)

What a beautiful promise to us! When we delight not in sin but in God's law - when we meditate not on the things of the world, but on God's law - God promises that we will be strong, fruitful, healthy, and prosperous in all that we do.

It is as if each one of us is presented with that same choice given to Adam in the garden: delight in God's law, and enjoy the fruits of our fellowship with God and the right to eat from the tree of life; or delight in the world, and suffer the consequences of broken fellowship with God. (The passage goes on further to promise that this latter choice will not prevail, and that those who make the latter choice will suffer for it.)

But even in our fallen state, we still have this promise of strength, fruitfulness, health, and prosperity when we delight in and meditate upon God's Law. Note that these verses do not say "follow God's Law perfectly" (for we are unable to do so), but rather to delight in and meditate on God's Law. God is concerned primarily with our heart: our attitude, our willingness to subject our free will to the desire to be obedient to God.

One Year Bible Blog

The One Year Bible Blog´s comments for today.

The Vatican and Stem Cells: A Tale of Two Headlines

Filed in Religion, Science, Social IssuesTags: Christianity, Clone The Truth, Cloning, Media Bias, Sanctity of Life, Stem Cells

The Vatican recently issued a statement on bioethical issues, entitled Dignitas Personae (The Dignity of the Person), which serves as the authoritative ruling for the Catholic Church in condemning, among other things, embryo-destructive stem-cell research and human cloning.

The foundational tenet for the ruling is, as astute readers may surmise, the inherent dignity of the human being. The statement makes this point explicit in its opening sentence (pg. 1 of 23):

The dignity of a person must be recognized in every human being from conception to natural death.

The statement attempts to differentiate between human dignity, which has inherent moral value, and scientific research, which does not have inherent moral value apart from the moral implications of the applications of that research. The statement goes so far as to reiterate the church's support for and participation in such research (pg. 2 of 23):

The church therefore views scientific research with hope and desires that many Christians will dedicate themselves to the progress of biomedicine and will bear witness to their faith in this field.

Having made clear this differentiation, the statement lays out the foundation of its ruling: 1) all human life has inherent dignity and moral worth, 2) life begins at conception, therefore 3) human life at the embryonic stage of development deserves all the dignity and respect due human life at all other stages of development (pg. 3 of 23):

The body of a human being, from its very first stages of development, can never be reduced merely to a group of cells. The embryonic human body develops progressively according to a well-defined program with its proper finality, as is apparent in the birth of every baby.

It is appropriate to recall the fundamental ethical criterion expressed in the Instruction Donum Vitae in order to evaluate all moral questions which relate to procedures involving the human embryo: 'Thus the fruit of human generation, from the first moment of its existence, that is to say, from the moment the zygote has formed, demands the unconditional respect that is morally due to the human being in his bodily and spiritual totality. The human being is to be respected and treated as a person from the moment of conception; and therefore from that same moment his rights as a person must be recognized, among which in the first place is the inviolable right of every innocent human being to life.'

From this foundational position, the statement makes the logical conclusion that embryo-destructive pursuits (including embryonic stem cell research) are immoral.

So, given this position, I would expect a headline such as "Vatican document condemns cloning, stem cell research", just as a matter of course. But how do the ostensibly upstanding journalists at the Honolulu Advertiser portray the ruling? Why, "Vatican condemns modern science research", of course.

Contrast that gem of journalistic integrity with the (Minneapolis/St. Paul) Star-Tribune's take: "'Dignity of a person' reinforced in Vatican bioethics document."

Well now, that sounds just a little bit more accurate.

Boundaries and Stress Relief

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions

At this weekend's church service, the pastor started a new series on stress relief. This week's message was titled "Breathing Room" and focused on identifying, establishing, and maintaining healthy boundaries in our relationships. The message borrowed heavily from Cloud and Townsend's Boundaries series, including some video messages available on their website.

The message covered a lot of ground, but initially addressed the concept of boundaries and having a compliant or controlling nature - that is, those who have a compliant nature tend to allow their boundaries to be tresspassed by others and those who have a controlling nature tend to tresspass others' boundaries. As the pastor began discussing these concepts, I was reminded of Steven Covey's principle of our Circles of Influence Concern. I thought that concept analogous to what the pastor was explaining, with influence and concern on one hand, and responsibility and authority on the other.

Here's what I mean:

Each one of us has some amount of responsibility, which can be envisioned much like Covey's Circle of Concern. For this example, we can treat this Circle of Responsibility as a fixed area - that is to say, at any given point in time, our area or amount of responsibility is a fixed, or unchanging, quantity.

Each of us also exerts some amount of authority, which can be envisioned much like Covey's Circle of Influence. Unlike our Circle of Responsibility, our Circle of Authority is variable. We choose the extent to which we exert our authority.

Consider the following diagrams:

Authority-Responsibility Balance Diagrams

  • The first diagram represents balanced boundaries: the circles of responsibility and authority encompass the same area. Such a person exerts his authority commensurately with his area of responsibility.
  • The second diagram represents compliant character: the circle of authority encompasses a lesser area than the circle of responsibility. Such a person allows others to exert their authority within his own area of responsibility.
  • The third diagram represents controlling character: the circle of authority encompasses a greater area than the circle of responsibility. Such a person exerts his authority beyond his own area of responsibility and into others' areas of responsibility.

It is important to realize that these boundaries do not exist in a vacuum. A controlling character cannot exert authority outside of his area of responsibility in the absence of a compliant character into whose area of responsibility he can exert that authority - and vice versa. In other words, these concepts are meaningless outside of the context of relationship. Likewise, it is the relationship between two people that experiences stress as a result of such a trespass of boundaries:

Relational Stress Caused by Boundary Trespass

The stress exists in the overlap of the controlling character's authority and the compliant character's area of responsibility.

Herein lies the point, for those experiencing stress induced by lack of healthy relational boundaries: identify either compliant or controlling character - or both - in your relationships, and then make the necessary changes to ensure that you are exerting your authority in balance with your responsibility.

As Pastor Ron emphasized in the sermon this morning, learning to exert authority is often as simple as learning when to say "yes" and when to say "no" with respect to the expenditure of your time, effort, and resources. Discipline yourself to establish healthy boundaries in your relationships by balancing your area of responsibility with the exertion of your authority, and you will find that those relationships will be come much less stressful, and much healthier themselves.

Church Search: Grace Church of St. Louis

Filed in Personal, ReligionTags: Christianity, Family, Fatherhood, Marriage, Missouri, Saint Louis

We have been looking for quite some time, to find a church home suitable for Stephanie, Lily, and me - somewhere that we can get involved in the church ministries, outreaches, and service as well as somewhere that can meet our needs: worship service with which we can relate and be both fed and challenged, an excellent children's program, and small-group ministry to facilitate building relationships and friendships with other people our age and in similar life circumstances.

We have tried several churches, trying to keep an open mind about non-essential things such as membership size and style of worship, while at the same time looking for unity in the things we consider essential: namely, doctrinal matters. For the past couple months, we have been attending Grace Church of St. Louis, and have connected well enough that we have decided to go through the four-week membership class to determine how well this church might fit for us.

We will be considering several things, including the details of the church's doctrine, the dynamics of a smaller group (our class has about 70 people, which is considered "small" for a church the size of Grace), the ministry/small group/service opportunities, and the emphasis/mission of the church (missions, evangelism, discipleship, etc.).

If we have one concern thus far, it is the somewhat overwhelming size of the church. While I would be perfectly comfortable, provided that we can find smaller groups with which to get involved, Stephanie is not quite so comfortable. That is why the nature and dynamics of the church's small group ministries will be critical to our decision.

Please be praying for us in our search for a church home - that God will show us where He would have us to be, and especially that He will enlighten us with respect to Grace Church through this membership class.

Fascist Nanny State in Nebraska

Filed in Religion, Social IssuesTags: Christianity

Unbelievable:

Rush talked about the atrocity committed in Nebraska, in which the State removed a five-week-old baby from the home of his parents for a week, in order for the baby to undergo state-mandated blood tests. The parents objected to the testing on religious grounds, so the state prosecutors went to a judge and then sent armed sheriff's deputies to the house to remove the baby.

The baby, still nursing from his mother, was placed in foster care not only for the blood to be drawn, but also to await the return of the results of the bloodwork.

Hey, Nebraska: do you remember the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States?

Such blatant disregard for the First Amendment is the very reason we have the Second Amendment.

Get Hunter “The Punter” Smith’s Autograph!

Filed in Religion, SportsTags: Christianity, Colts, Indiana, Indianapolis, Music, NFL

To all my Colts-fan friends: here's an easy way to get an autograph from Colts punter Hunter Smith. His band, Connersvine, is releasing an album October 23, 2007. Pre-order the album, and it will come with an autographed insert. See the official web site for details.

Oh, and for those of you in Indy, you might be interested to know that Connersvine will be having a CD release party at Trader's Point Christian Church, on the far northwest side.

Pregnant: “She Is” or “We Are”?

Filed in Personal, Religion, Social IssuesTags: Christianity, Family, Fatherhood, Marriage

Steve Carr blogged in agreement with this Christianity Today article denouncing fathers who use the phrase "we are pregnant". His lead-in and closing sentences sum up his agreement:

The author, a man by the way, believes that sentence to be both inaccurate and demeaning. When men drop that phrase, he believes, they are actually belittling all that the woman endures during and after the pregnancy...So no matter how secure I am in my fathering skills far be it from me, or any other of us guys, to declare that “we’re pregnant.”

When I read his post, I had to comment, to convey my opposing opinion:

Steve, I completely disagree with you. When Stephanie was pregnant, I always said we were pregnant - not because I wanted some of the attention due solely to Stephanie, but because I had a rightful place in the experience. And as you well know, we fathers are part of that experience, for better and for worse.

We shared the difficult physical and emotional stresses of pregnancy, just as we shared the joys of being blessed with the spiritual and physical care of a new life. I proudly embraced my God-given role as Stephanie’s supporter, encourager, and confidant, even as I did not experience the most intimate experiences with which only a woman is blessed (and cursed).

I couldn’t care less that society marginalizes the role of the father - even through the experience of pregnancy, labor, and delivery. God has blessed me with the role of husband and father, and proudly will I thus declare my rightful place in that role.

Besides, if you believe that little phrase, “…a man will leave his father and his mother, and the two shall become one flesh,” then it is only right that every experience, good, bad, and otherwise, is shared equally by husband and wife.

So, I proudly declared that we were pregnant, and when God blesses us with another child, I will do so again. It in no way belittles Stephanie, nor her role in the child-bearing process; to the contrary, it affirms God’s plan and desire that this process be experienced as a man and a woman, united as one, in Him.

I wanted to take some time to address the original article, and also to expound upon my comments above.

Here, the author, Mark Galli, begins his argument:

A male friend, married to a lovely women, comes up to me beaming and says, "We're pregnant!"

"Wow!" I reply, with inappropriate sarcasm. "When I was a young man, only women could get pregnant."

I've heard this phrase—"We're pregnant"—too much recently, but it's time to move beyond sarcasm. The intent is as understandable as the execution is absurd. It arises out of the noble desire of men (and future fathers) to participate fully in the childrearing. And I understand that for many men, it simply means, "My wife and I are expecting a baby."

Here I have my first point of disagreement with the author (a point which will be developed further momentarily, but which I introduce here): my use of the phrase, "we're pregnant," is not "to participate fully in the childbearing" but rather to identify with complete involvement and unity in my relationship with my wife.

He continues:

But the first dictionary meaning of pregnant remains, "Carrying developing offspring within the body." Whenever a word is misused, it means the speaker is unaware of the word's meaning, or that the cultural meaning of a word is shifting, or that some ideology is demanding obeisance. Probably all three are in play, but it's the last reality that we should pay attention to. It is not an accident that this phrase, "We're pregnant," has arisen in a culture that in many quarters is ponderously egalitarian and tries to deny the fundamental differences of men and women.

Introducing the dictionary definition of "pregnant" here is a specious argument. Obviously, the speaker of the phrase "we're pregnant" is not unaware of the word's meaning, as the definition of "pregnant" in no way biologically ambiguous (as demonstrated by the author's sarcastic comment in the article's introductory paragraph). Likewise, "cultural shift" of the connotation of the term is irrelevant. Thus, we are left with the third point of the argument: that some ideology is demanding obeisance.

And what is this ideology that the author argues thus demands deference? Namely, "...a culture that in many quarters is ponderously egalitarian and tries to deny the fundamental differences of men and women."

First, let me clarify: I am speaking as a Christian. I do not inherently ascribe to cultural mores, especially when we live an culture in which those mores increasingly differ from the ethical standards to which I as a Christian ascribe. Thus, my use of the phrase "we're pregnant" may very well have a fundamental difference from any secular uses of the phrase. I do not believe that Christian culture resembles that which the author describes above. With that understanding in mind, let us continue with the author's argument:

This phrase is most unfortunate after conception because it is an inadvertent co-opting of women by men—men using language to suggest that they share equally in the burdens and joys of pregnancy. Instead, pregnancy is one time women should flaunt their womanhood, and one time men should acknowledge the superiority of women. Men may be able to run the mile in less than four minutes and open stuck pickle jars with a twist of the wrist, but for all our physical prowess, we cannot carry new life within us and bring it into the world. To suggest that we do is a slap in the face of women.

It is also a slap in the face of our Creator, who made us male and female. We were not created with interchangable parts or traits, nor is it our purpose to duplicate or replace one another.

That's not a happy thought to many, because egalitarian culture resents differences. We believe (wrongly) that differences by their very nature are unequal. History would seem to support this assumption. The sad history of most cultures has assumed that male traits (authority and leadership) are superior to female traits (meekness and service). But that is more a product of human pride than of the created order. In the end, we have no objective standard by which to judge the intrinsic value of differing gifts and abilities.

Gender egality and gender differences both rightfully belong in Christian philosophy. As Christians we recognize the wisdom and sovereignty with which God made man and woman spiritual beings equally in His image and having equal intrinsic value, just as we recognize and appreciate that God created man and woman different physically, physiologically, and emotionally - and created to hold unique roles in the life for which He created them.

However, God also created man and woman to live in relationship with one another, in a manner symbolic of our relationship with Him. The most fundamental such relationship between man and woman is that of husband and wife in marriage - a relationship directly analogous to and symbolic of Christ's relationship with His bride, the church. Let us take a moment to explore the biblical nature of these relationships.

On Marriage:

4 "Haven't you read," [Jesus] replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,'[Gen. 1:27] 5 and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'[Gen. 2:24 ]? 6 So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."

Matthew 19:4-6 (NIV)

On Christ and the Church:

21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Ephesians 5:21-33 (NIV)

On Unity in Christ:

26 You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Galatians 3:26-29 (NIV)

12 The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Now the body is not made up of one part but of many...

I Corinthians 12:12-14 (NIV)

If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

I Corinthians 12:26 (NIV)

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

I Corinthians 12:27 (NIV)

In my opinion, the analogy between the relationship between husband and wife and the relationship between Christ and His church is perfectly clear. Now, I don't want to take the analogy farther than Scripture implies, but I don't think it is going too far to say that the intimacy and unity between a husband and wife is analogous to the intimacy and unity between Christ and His church. In fact, I believe God intended this symmetry between these relationships, so that through marriage men and women would develop a greater understanding of the intended nature of their relationship with God.

So when we are told that in the body of Christ, when one suffers all suffers and when one is honored all rejoice, I believe the symmetry applies also to the marriage relationship. It is God's divine intent that the two united as one suffer together just as they rejoice together.

Do these shared experiences demean or belittle the unique role husband and wife each play in the marriage? Not at all. Consider again the words of Paul:

28 And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?

I Corinthians 12:28-30 (NIV)

God clearly intends for the different parts of the body of Christ to play unique, individual roles according to the direction and gifting of the Holy Spirit; likewise, God clearly intends for husband and wife to play unique roles in the marriage. Even so, the many parts share equally in the experiences in which each one suffers or rejoices. Therefore, God ordained a marriage relationship that is both egalitarian in intrinsic value and shared experiences, and discriminatory in role and gifting - just as God ordained the same characteristics for the body of Christ.

Therefore, it is only natural that a husband would identify with his wife's experience of pregnancy. That he cannot empathize with the physical, hormonal, and emotional changes and stresses of pregnancy is completely irrelevant; he still experiences all of those stresses and changes both directly in his relationship with his wife and vicariously through his wife. And just has he cannot experience the full measure of his wife's suffering through pregnancy, neither can he experience the full measure of her joy.

Thus, far from being a "co-opting of women by men", much less a "slap in the face of women" or - heaven forbid - "a slap in the face of our Creator", a husband's proclamation that "we're pregnant" is an affirmation of both his God-ordained relational unity with his wife and his God-given role of supporting his wife through the suffering and joys of pregnancy.

Back to the article; after the author spends several paragraphs defending the undisputed argument that men and women are created with differences, he begins his conclusion:

My point is simply this. I continue to look for ways to encourage us all to relax a little about gender. I'm hoping that after the tumult of the last 30 years—during which time women have rightly learned a great deal about things like leadership and men have rightly learned a great deal about things like nurturing—we can once again affirm what culture after culture in human history seems to confirm: We are created male and female, both fully loved in God's eyes, but created with unbridgeable differences.

I think perhaps the author needs himself to relax a little bit about gender. It seems counter-productive, if one's objective is to "relax a little bit about gender," to denounce the use of a phrase that is intended solely to emphasize the relational unity between husband and wife in marriage during pregnancy.

Also, I disagree that male and female were "created with unbridgeable differences." As individuals, yes: men and women cannot hope to bridge their created differences; however, men and women were never intended to live as individuals. Our Creator endowed us men and women with differences that are intended to be complimented and completed in the marriage relationship. God did not create gender differences to be unbridgeable; rather, God Himself bridges those differences through the bond and covenant of marriage

(Again, I note the symmetry between the marriage relationship and the body of Christ, since God also intended that the differences with which He endowed each unique part of the body all compliment and complete one another, and all such differences are bridged through His Holy Spirit.)

Finally, the author concludes:

Better than the language of equality, I believe, is the language of fulfillment. "God created man in his image, male and female he created them." That is, we do not reflect the divine image when we try to duplicate or co-opt or replace each other. It's only when we participate with each other, with all our differences as male and female—as married couples, as friends, as co-workers—that we begin to fill out the image of the Triune God who created us.

Whenever that happens, I believe God once again says, "It is very good."

How truly ironic! A husband who uses the phrase "we're pregnant" epitomizes the principle of participation with his wife; indeed, the phrase is the epitome of "language of fulfillment."

Therefore, I stand by my original conclusion:

So, I proudly declared that we were pregnant, and when God blesses us with another child, I will do so again. It in no way belittles Stephanie, nor her role in the child-bearing process; to the contrary, it affirms God’s plan and desire that this process be experienced as a man and a woman, united as one, in Him.