January 15, Tuesday

The AMI QT blogs for January (weekdays), provided by Pastor Ryun Chang, are extended to cover important sociopolitical matters that have serious ramifications for the Christian faith.  Pastor Ryun (PhD), who serves as the Teaching Pastor of AMI, is the author of Manual de Misionología, Theologizing in the Racial Middle, and a contributor to The Reshaping of Mission in Latin America.

Disclaimer: AMI, as a consortium of several churches, allows the expression of multiple standpoints on non-essential biblical matters. My views expressed here do not necessarily represent the respective views of AMI pastors.  I am also mindful that not every reader will agree with my stances on sensitive and contentious issues addressed in this month’s blogs. Where that may be the case, I invite you to utilize the comment section below, so that we may have an open dialogue; I highly encourage all readers to share their thoughts and experiences. Thank you.  

 

Extended Devotional Thoughts for Today

Random Thoughts from the Kavanaugh Hearing (3):

“Senator Hirono Wasn’t Entirely Incorrect”

Philippians 2:5-7 (ESV)

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.

Perhaps, even Democratic senators were a little shocked when their colleague from Hawaii, Mazie Hirono, who, perturbed that questions were raised regarding Blasie Ford’s testimony, said, “Guess who’s perpetuating all of these kinds of actions? It’s the men in this country. And I just want to say to the men in this country: Just shut up and step up.  Do the right thing for a change.”  In a single breath, this female lawmaker managed to condemn all men as the culprit to sexual misconduct—a categorically untrue claim since not all men behave this way. To her, women are always victims of men’s sexual aggression, which isn’t far from the truth, but there are enough exceptions, and noting this will diminish extreme tribalism rooted in identity politics.

Many conservatives took umbrage at her diatribe against all males, but the Senator is correct if her statement against sexual misconduct is broadened to include other ways of exploiting people.  Grammatically, while the singular “man” can point to the entire human race, on occasions, its plural “men” (the term Hirono uses) means the same. Consider Zephaniah 1:17 that reads, “I will bring distress on men so that they will walk like the blind, because they have sinned against the Lord.”  Therefore, Hirono’s statement is dead on if it’s read: “Guess who’s perpetuating all kinds of exploitations?  It’s the humans, that is both men and women, in this country. And I just want to say to the humans in this country: Just shut up before God and step up in repentance.”  

That’s not, of course, what she meant; nevertheless, what she intended to convey is still serviceable if some corrections are made, like this: “Guess who’s perpetuating all of these sexual misconducts? It’s almost always men but some women in this country as well. And I just want to say to the brass at NBC (where Matt Lauer worked), PBS (where Charlie Rose worked), Willow Creek Community Church (where Bill Hybels pastored), and New York University (where the world-renown professor Avital Ronell was found responsible for sexually harassing a male graduate student): ‘Just shut up and step up.’”

Hirono, and those who share her worldview, surely wouldn’t agree with that for two reasons:  

First, she is too heavily steeped in identity politics (IP), which is an unbiblical concept when weighed biblically.  The premise of IP is this: My primary identity derives from a social group to which I deem fit to belong—whether racial, sexual, socioeconomic and/or religious—that has been victimized by Eurocentric-white-protestant-heterosexual-capitalist-male. Subsequently, those who include themselves in victim groups feel more righteous than those excluded, which then leads to the expectation that their rights (i.e., demands) are prioritized over those who aren’t in their group. Contrary to this, Scripture recognizes only one group before and after Christ. First, before Christ, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23), meaning, we—including women like Senator Hirono and men like me, are all aggressors to God—“there is no difference” (Rom. 3:22b).  Second, in Christ, we are “a new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17), in which “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28). There is no room for IP in Christ, but it does  obligate those who are in Him to treat everyone fairly regardless of their social status (Acts 6:1; James 5:1-6; Rom. 12:16).   

Second, while it is true that sexual misconduct is committed by far more men than women, exploitation of any kind has to do with power, certainly physical but also hierarchical, in which powerful people take advantage of those whose livelihood depends on them.  And because most men can physically overpower women, and because more women still work under men than vice versa, men continue to be the main, but not the only, culprits of exploitation, including sexual harassment. What powerful men like Senator Al Franken, Lauer and Rose further show is that liberalism cannot contain the excess of power, because liberalism and power aren’t mutually exclusive.

The best remedy, then, is to “shut up and step up”—meaning, the power needs to be given up to serve. No one will do that voluntarily, but if they come to know Jesus Christ, “who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant” (Phil. 2:6-7), it becomes possible. And as long as we “fix our eyes on Jesus” the Son of Man (Heb. 12:2), we won’t exploit the weak.  That’s the only way—not liberalism, not identity politics, not seeker-sensitive, consumer-driven, user-friendly Christianity.

Prayer: Father, we confess that although we are part of a rebellious humanity that has repeatedly digressed from Your laws, we point finger at each other while claiming moral superiority over others—how foolish!  We need to shut up in contrition and step up in repentance. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Genesis 17

Tomorrow’s Blog: Some Thoughts from the Kavanaugh Hearing (4): “Senators and Media Dig Up the Distant Past; Does God Do the Same?”


Lunch Break Study

Read Romans 3:10-12, 23:

“As it is written: ‘None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one” . . . 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, . . .

Galatians 3:28:

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Mark 10:43-45:

“But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Questions to Consider

  1. Does it make any spiritual sense for males to claim moral and spiritual superiority over females and vice versa (Mk. 7:15)?
  2. Does it make any spiritual sense for Christian brothers and sisters to stand apart from each other as if they are about to engage in a tribal warfare?
  3. What can you do to change the overwhelming tendency for the powerful to exploit the less powerful?

Notes

  1. It makes no spiritual sense because the words “none,” “no one” and “all” refer to both males and females.  Both sexes are equally fallen because they inherited sinful nature from their common ancestor Adam.  Thus, Jesus says, “It is what comes out of a man [all humans] that makes him ‘unclean’” because they all have a deceitful heart (Jer. 17:9).
  2. It makes no spiritual sense because Christ broke the social barrier that favored men over women in antiquity—“there is no male and female . . . in Christ Jesus.” We belong to the same tribe, meaning the believing women and men are spiritual siblings in God’s family.
  3. We must intentionally divest ourselves of our power, literally for some and figuratively for the rest, with concomitant actions of service to prove it (Tomorrow’s QT blog).

Evening Reflection

As you review your day, how did you behave toward the members of the opposite sex (if you are married, that would include your spouse)? Why don’t you enter into silence (e.g., turn off your phone) and ask the Spirit to reveal how you truly acted. Were you being demeaning, suggestive, contemptuous, or even hostile? We’ve got to clean up our attitude.  Some of you men really need to stop looking at those sites that demean and objectify women. (Some women as well.) Start the change today with a simple, yet heartfelt prayer: “Lord, help me.” Then, seek help from your pastor or other trusted spiritual authority.

Ps. 139:23-24:

“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!  24 And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”

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