A Feminine Perspective To Stretch Our Masculine Perception

I will begin this message by stating that many if not most of the world’s belief systems are probably corrupt in some degree. Before we render a conclusion of this message we must pose a succinct question to ourselves: Did the inaccurate copying and translating of early biblical manuscripts by scribes (many who were part time and not even saved because you had to know how to read which most early Christians did not and were hired) have an impact on much of our theology, belief systems and paradigms today? I sincerely believe that the answer is yes and that it holds tremendous prophetic impact as the days will unfold. While I’m certain that many if not most Christians believe the Bible to be inerrant – the ultimate truth is that we must be led by the Spirit of God and not so much by our personal, denominational dogmas, and even national or sub-cultural influences. The scriptures embraced by the soul without the Spirit will cut a path of fleshly destruction and judgmentalism as experienced throughout documented “Christian” history and prevalent today among Islamist and other religious offshoots.
 
Due to theological controversies in the 2nd and 3rd centuries, many changes were made to the original biblical traditions and earliest codex manuscripts. These “scribal interpretations” have had a profound affect upon the Christian church and especially in regard to the roll of women. Many biblical scholars have come to recognize that heated disputes and dogmatic beliefs in regard to the role of women in the church occurred precisely because women did in fact have a role in the church which was oftentimes significant and of high profile. Not only were the roles of women in the early church high profile – it was accepted publicly and within the authority of recognized church government. In my opinion. this would have naturally caused tremendous conflicts in many if not most societies as the Gospel spread into various cultures and geographies. Ultimately, these cultural and societal aspects would naturally spill out into the various scribal translations.
 
This certainly seems to be the case from the ministry example that Jesus himself reflected and promoted. While it is true that Jesus’ closest disciples (12) were men – This should not come as a surprise considering the geography of Palestine and the embedded culture at that time in history. This is compounded when we consider that Jesus’ revolutionary examples were coming from a Jewish teacher or rabbi. With that said, the earliest gospel manuscripts clearly present that Jesus was accompanied by women in his ministry travels and that some of these women also played a significant role financially and in kingdom service (ministry). Of tremendous importance and revelation is the fact that women accompanied Jesus during his final entrance into Jerusalem where they remained faithful to him “until the end.” On the contrary, all of the male disciples had fled through their various fears, insecurities and self-preservation weaknesses. Likewise, it was also women who were privileged to discover the empty tomb and the first to testify of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. Is this by mistake or happenstance?
 
We are left to wonder what it was about Jesus and his message that appealed to women in such a way as to garner their faithfulness regardless of the fear of death and personal association? Jesus proclaimed the kingdom message (which is being restored today) in that injustice would be addressed and that all people – rich and poor, slave and free, young and old and especially men and women would be equal and on the same foundational or spiritual footing. If we really ponder this, it would certainly prove to be an attractive and powerful message of hope to those who lived in that age and culture who were underprivileged such as the poor, the sick, the outcasts of society and especially women.
 
The kingdom message of Christ, even after his death and resurrection, has never lost its impact and understanding to women. It is striking that even the pagans of the 1st and 2nd centuries recognized this – including the outspoken pagan critic Celsus who denigrated or rejected the Christian faith on the grounds that it was made up largely of naive children, slaves and especially women who had no social standing in society at large. Sadly, the famous Christian and early church leader Origen did not deny the charge of Celsus’ rebuttal. Origen, in his reply to Celsus tried (as a good Christian apologist should) to turn the statement against Celsus and show how God could take what was “weak” and infill it with strength. This is true, but nonetheless – Origen, the great church leader of his day saw women as spiritually inferior between the lines as well.
 
If we back up to the time of the gospels and our earliest Christian writer – Paul; we clearly see that the scriptures (i.e. earliest manuscripts) provide abundant evidence that women held prominent roles in the Christian community and government at large. We need not look past the ending of Paul’s letter to the Romans to understand that his greetings to many and various women were a testament of their critical value to the church and its growth. Paul clearly defines Phoebe as a Deacon and minister to the church in Cenchreae and whom he would trust with his letters to Rome. Prisca (Priscilla) who along with her husband Aquila, were responsible for the great missionary outreach to the Gentiles as well as supporting a church in their home. It is by no mistake that Aquila and Priscilla are mentioned 6 times together in the scriptures – it is also by no mistake that each is mentioned first 3 times and the other way around. (Sadly, many “later” scribal manuscripts place Priscilla in back of Aquilla all six times!) Mary worked directly alongside Paul in building the church at Rome and mentions Trypheana, Tryphosa, and Persis as his co-workers in the gospel message.
 
Junia whom Paul mentions in Romans is intriguing as she was evidently of very high standing among the church in the 1st century. Paul called Junia “foremost among the apostles” in Romans 16:17. Did the Bible state “Apostle?” Yes. Obviously, the apostolic brotherhood reflected a few sisters as well! It is also obvious upon study of Christian manuscripts that women appear to have played a very import role in the churches of Paul’s day. This was an anomaly and the high profile of women was unusual in the Greco-Roman societies of the early church. Jesus’ proclamation of the Kingdom order was likewise embraced by Paul as read below:

“For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free; there is not male and female; for all of you are one in Jesus Christ. (Gal. 3:27-28)

(Note: For many years many thought Junia(s) was a man–or if they admitted she was a woman, they discounted her as just someone highly regarded by the apostles. Recent scholarship proves she was both a female and an apostle due to conclusive grammar and companion verses which clearly define both masculine and feminine attributes.)
 
The bold cultural equality in Christ certainly manifested itself in the actual worship services of the churches founded or spiritually supported by Paul. Rather than being silent hearers of the word, women appear to have been actively involved in the church meetings. The scriptures paint a picture of women praying, prophesying and participating in spirit-led power as much as the men did. (Reference 1 Cor. 11)
 
It is critically important to note that Paul also expected women to participate in the life of the church as “women” and not as “men.” This is vital both naturally and spiritually and brings balance and stability. Being uniquely masculine and feminine defines our purpose, the fundamentals of procreation, and life itself. Women and men are very different in many different ways and have qualities that are wonderfully unique. My wife Carole states that she enjoys womanhood in raising our kids at home and preparing most of meals etc. She doesn’t look at this as degrading but as a privilege of being a woman and having the opportunity to express the fullness of Christ who dwells within her. Simply put, I cannot have a baby and this certainly clarifies our obvious differences!

However, for over 2000 years, much of denominational religion has interpreted or understands this as an ambivalent attitude toward the proactive role of women “as” the church. For example, they were not to remove their veils and so appear as men without an “authority” on their head. This ambivalence on Paul’s part would have an interesting effect on the role of women after his day in the church for hundreds of years up to the present time. In some churches it was the equality in Christ that was promoted. But in most others, it was the need for women to be subservient to men in all spiritual and natural aspects of life. As stated earlier, in some churches starting in the late 1st and into the 2nd century – women played an important and vital role in leadership. But as time went on – their role would be purposely and severely diminished and their voices eventually silenced.
 
If you take the time to study ancient church documents or manuscripts after Paul’s death, it does not take long to read of disputes that arose in regard to the role of women in the church. These fleshly, soulish and cultural disputes would quickly gain momentum to suppress the spiritual role of women in the church meetings altogether. This becomes evident in a letter that was written in Paul’s name. Many reputable biblical scholars as well as my own research would conclude that 1 Timothy was not written by Paul, but one of his later (2nd generation) followers. I know this is probably paining many to the point of relegating me as a heretic. But I must ask: Does anybody really know who wrote this book? Or, is it because you were always told this? I only ask that you study to show yourself approved by the Spirit and not a slave to the catholic cannon. There is a often-read passage that has corrupted the kingdom message from advancing over generations through misunderstanding and ignorance. The text states that women must not be allowed to teach in the church meeting or even “men” because they were created inferior as indicated by God himself in the law. In essence, women are to only stay home and maintain the virtues appropriate to women such as bearing children for their husbands, cooking, cleaning, and preserving their modesty.
 
“Let a woman learn in silence with full submission. I permit no women to teach or to have authority over a man; she is to keep silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing, providing they continue in faith and love and holiness, with modesty.” (1 Tim. 2:11-15)
 
This seems quite the contradiction from Paul’s earlier statement in Gal. 3:27-28: “ For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 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.”

These two passages are diametrically opposed anyway you shake and bake it. Did Paul really pen these words in 1Timothy? I don’t believe so. But I do believe that a late 2nd century scribe did to reflect the entrenched cultural norm of the day when many manuscripts were being transcribed. My comment is not heresy….It is to combat the genuine heresy that has infected the church like a cancer to stunt her health and growth and to address the certain heresy and compromise that will reflect a great falling away. For even the elect will be effected if walking in continued ignorance. We are truly destroyed by our lack of knowledge. Is it natural or carnal knowledge that we are destroyed? Certainly not – It is the lack of knowledge that resides in the Spirit of Christ.

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Mind Games to Mind Melt

All of us possess a a type internal “press secretary” or “moral lawyer” that desires to justify everything in order to validate our beliefs, viewpoints and opinions. This article will just scratch the surface of why I believe our generation accepts or formulates its beliefs and non-beliefs. The issue at hand is the ever increasing polarization that is manifesting within the realm of “beliefs.” Is there really absolute truth? Or, is everything a shade of gray and left to individual opinion to dictate what is truly right? Is there political correctness that is actually “correct” in the grand scheme of life and social/political institutions? I often wonder what molds or builds the lattice of our beliefs and what we choose to embrace as truth. I often wonder why folks are so dead set against changing their beliefs – even when the evidence is blatantly stacked against them. The following is just a primmer and a small slice of what I have found and realize through a bit of research, contemplation and prayer. I hope it may present elements of truth that bare witness to your spirit and even conscious if you’re “spirit-less.” After all, I have many friends who may be reading this who do not adhere to Christianity. However, it is worth reading whatever bus you choose to be traveling through life on on this day!

If you want to see justification in action just watch and listen to a westernized press secretary take questions from media reporters. No matter how bad the policy is to a majority of a populace, the press secretary (spokesperson) will always find some way to praise or defend it. Reporters will naturally challenge assertions and bring up contradictory quotes from politicians or better yet – straight from the press secretary on previous days. Sometimes you will hear and observe an awkward pause or moment as the press secretary searches for the right words to justify a contradictory question. More importantly, and what you will never hear is obvious and intriguing – “Hey, that’s a great point, maybe we should rethink, re-vote and revise this policy.” The truth of the matter is that press secretaries cannot say such things because they have no power to make or revise policy. They’re told what the policy is and their job is to find evidence and arguments that will justify the policy to a naive public. On a more personal note, we all have a full-time press secretary justifying our positions and beliefs on such topics as morality, spirituality, abortion, various prejudices, social politics, social behaviors, economics, etc. The soulish “press secretary” or “inner-lawyer” operates at the personal and social level and will naturally manifest as a national conscious when it gains majority rule via conditioning and familiarity. Familiar spirits will be one of the church’s greatest enemies as the days unfold.

Let’s take the well known 2 – 4 – 6 problem that is common in moral psychology circles as an example to lay a foundation of what I hope to expound upon in regard to our belief systems as well as our often unwillingness to embrace greater or absolute truth. After all, if there is no such thing as “absolute truth” – does “truth” even have genuine meaning…Even when it smacks us in the face?

Let’s say that I show a group of people a series of 3 numbers and explained to them that a sequence of a triplet (3 numbers) conformed to a specific rule. In other words, they have to guess the rule by generating other triplets and then asking me whether the new triplet conformed to the specific rule. The subjects are to provide their answer to me when then are confident that they had guessed the rule. Suppose that one of the test subjects first sees the numbers 2, 4, 6. And let’s say that that person then generates a triplet in response: “4, 6, 8?” I would answer “yes”, you have created a triplet! How about “120, 122, 124?” I would again answer, “Yes” you have created a triplet! It would seem obvious to most people at this point that the rule was consecutive even numbers. But let’s say that I told the subjects that this was a wrong answer in regard to the rule. So they tested other rules such as “3, 5, 7?” Likewise, I will respond: “yes”, that is a triplet! What about “35, 37, 39?” I would once again respond “Yes!” So the test subjects conclude that the rule must be any series of numbers that rises by 2? I would again say “no” in regard to what the correct rule is.

The people in this actual experiment had little trouble generating new hypotheses or opinions about the rule. Sometimes, they came up with quite complex triplets to come up with the rule. But what they hardly ever did was to test their hypotheses by offering triplets that did not conform to their natural hypothesis or reasoning. For example, proposing 2, 4, 5 (yes) and then, 2, 4, 3 (no) would have helped people zero in on the actual rule which is any series of ascending numbers which is quite simple. What we see in this mind-game experiment and outworking of human nature is known as the “Confirmation Bias”. This type of bias is the human tendency to seek out and interpret new evidence in ways that confirm what you already think and believe (preconditioning). People are quite good at challenging statements made by other people. However, if it’s our own personal beliefs that we’re confronting, then we are intruding into the realm of deep possessions – kind of like your inner “child” and you want protect it all cost rather than having it challenged or, heaven forbid – losing it!

As another example, let’s take a set of 8 cards each which shows a image of a child eating a cake. The cards will clearly reflect whether the cake is good for the child or bad for the child. Let’s create in our minds an example of eating a chocolate cake verses eating a naturally sweetened carrot cake and then the effects of what happened to the child afterward. The children pictured in the cards are either smiling (feeling good) or frowning (looking sick). I show the cards one at a time to children and adults and ask them to answer whether the evidence on the 8 cards suggested which cake made the kids sick? The kids as well as the adults usually started off with a hunch due to prior conditioning. In this case, the chocolate cake is the more likely culprit to feel ill. The subjects usually concluded that the evidence (the 8 cards) proved them right. The point is that even when the cards showed a stronger association of carrot cake correlating to sickness – people still pointed to the one or two cards with sick chocolate cake eaters as evidence for their theory or belief and they ignored the larger number of cards that incriminated the carrot cake. The conclusion and my opinion is that people seem to say or convince themselves of the following: “Here is some evidence that I point to or embrace in supporting my theory and therefore my theory is right.” These thoughts within our minds are aggressively preserved even when the hard facts state otherwise.

Researcher David Perkins invited people of various ages and education levels into his lab and asked them to think about social issues such as whether giving schools more money would improve the quality of teaching and learning. He first asked the subjects to write down their initial judgment concerning the stated question: “Would more money improve quality of teaching and learning?” Then he asked them to think about the issue for a time and write down all the reasons they could think of in regard to opposing sides that were relevant to reaching a final answer or conclusion. After they were done, Perkins scored each individual’s reasons they wrote as either a “my side” argument or a “other side” argument. Not surprisingly, people came up with many more “my side” arguments than “other side” arguments. Not surprisingly, the more education that the subjects had, the more argumentative reasons they came up with. However, when Perkins compared 4th year students in high school and college or graduate school to 1st year students in those same schools – he found barely any improvement within each school in regard to the overwhelming “my side” reasoning. The high school students that generated a lot of arguments are the ones who are likely to go on to college. And the college students who generate a lot of arguments are the ones who are more likely to go on to graduate school etc.

The bottom line is that schools don’t necessarily teach people to reason thoroughly. They select the students or applicants with higher IQ’s and thus, people with higher IQ’s are able to generate more “reasons” which affects perception. Research has also indicated by a large degree that IQ was the biggest predictor of how well people argued or formulated an argument or reason. However, these findings only predicted the number of “my side” arguments of the teat subjects. So called smart people (per IQ standards) make really good lawyers and press secretaries but they are no better than others of finding reasons on or for the “other side” of a societal issue. I have concluded that people invest their IQ in buttressing their own case or “my side” rather than exploring the entire range of issues, events and purposes for life more fully and evenhandedly.

When you ask people about triplets of digits, cakes and illnesses, and even school funding – people have rapid, automatic and intuitive reactions. In other words, one side of the reasoning looks more attractive than the other through our prior and accepted conditioning. We tend to grow evermore talented with ability to find supporting evidence for our beliefs and we go to great lengths to ensure that we succeed in regard to our reasoning. This is how the real press secretary we see on television works on trivial issues where there is no motivation to support one side or the other. If thinking is confirmatory rather than exploratory in these few dry, generic and easy cases that I just presented – then what chance is there that people will think in an open-minded or exploratory way when self-interest, social identity and strong emotions make or even need to reach a life saving or eternal conclusion? Eternal significance is wrapped in the gift of exploration which breaks through our reasoning status quot. Bondage is attractively wrapped in the skin of self-preservation and the chains of a insignificant life.

The truth is that we lie, cheat and justify so well that we honestly believe that we are honest. For instance, in the U.K. members of parliament have long been allowed to bill taxpayers for their “reasonable” expense of maintaining a second home given that they are required to spend time in both London and in their home districts. But because the office responsible for deciding what was reasonable approved nearly every request – members of Parliament treated it like a big ole fat blank check. And because their expenses were hidden from the public, members essentially acted like they were wearing the Ring of Gyges until a newspaper printed a leaked copy of those expense claims in 2009. (Note: The Ring of Gyges is a mythical magical artifact mentioned by the philosopher Plato in book 2 of his Republic that made one invisible)

Predictably and within the unregenerate human soul these members behaved terribly selfish and self-serving. Many members claimed their second home to be which ever one was due for major and lavish renovations – including even dredging the moats! When the renovations were completed, they simply re-designated their primary home as their secondary and renovated that one too! Oftentimes selling the renovated home for a huge profit.

Late night comics must be resoundingly grateful for the never ending stream of scandals coming out of Washington, London and as a matter of fact – just about every other center of social and political government on the planet. However, are “We the People” any better than our elected leaders? Or should we first look for the logs that are in our own eyes? Does a populace truly deserve its leaders? Does an elected leader merely reflect the soul of the populace? These questions are not all inclusive (black and white) but they must be considered in many way as the end of days unfold. Many researchers have studied the aspects and affects of what is termed “plausible deny-ability”. In one such study, subjects performed a task and were then given a slip of paper designating payment and a verbal confirmation of how much they were to be paid. But when they took the slip to another room to get their money, the cashier purposely misread one digit and handed them too much money. Only 20% spoke up and corrected the mistake. But the whole story and dynamic changed when the cashier simply asked them if the payment was correct. In that case, 70% said no and returned the extra money. Simply being asked directly removed a large element of plausible deny-ability. It would have taken a direct lie to keep the money upon being asked if the amount was correct. As a result, people are over 3 times more likely to be honest. The catch is that we can’t predict who will return the money based on how people rate their own honesty nor how well they’re able to respond within a moral dilemma.

The human nature of the unregenerate soul is unpredictable in honesty and very predictable in lying to others and oneself. The flesh is so ingrained to lie that we will even lie without words. We lie unconsciously by body language when we nod yes or no simply to avoid confrontation. This points to our conscious soul which correlates to our moral reasoning and our ethical behavior. Deep down within us is a fallen man that will serve self on all fronts and behind many masks. Even the people whom we recognize as “nice” and “giving” possess the bondage of self and their mind is corrupt to the core without spiritual regeneration through Christ.

In another study I researched, I realized how humanity is also predictably irrational. A group of participants had the opportunity to earn more money by claiming to have solved more math problems than they really did. The summary of the results concluded that when given the opportunity, many honest people will cheat. In fact, rather than finding that a few bad apples weighted or tilted the averages; the discovery is that the far majority of people cheated and that they cheated just a “little bit”. People didn’t try to get away with as much as they could. Rather, when the participants were given the invisibility of the “Ring of Gyges”- they cheated only up to point where they themselves could no longer find a justification that could preserve their own belief in their own honesty. The bottom line is that in studies where people are given invisibility combined with plausible deny-ability – most people will cheat which is essentially what we call lying or being a liar.

Our individual “press secretary” also known as our “inner-lawyer” is so good at finding justifications that most of these subject cheaters leave the social experiments as convinced of their virtue as they were when they walked in. My personal conclusion is that human based reasoning and Google can take you wherever you want to go! We can take for example my daughter Arielle who is 6 years old and recognize that she is somewhat allergic to the word “must.” As a matter of fact, all of us are to some degree. When I tell her that she “must” get her pajamas on so we can wind down for the evening, she oftentimes cracks a scowl with some crossed arms as to object my direction. The word “must” is a little verbal and psychological handcuff that triggers in her the desire to squirm free. On the other hand, the word “can” is so much nicer such as “can you put your pajamas on so we relax and wind down before bed?”

To be certain that these two words are really night and day to our soulish man, I conducted my own little experiment. I said to my daughter after supper tonight, “You must eat a mint patty.” (which Arielle loves). The reply was quickly, “No, I don’t want one.” Just a few minutes later I stated – “Arielle, you can have mint patty.” Just as quickly, “Yeah, I want one.” The difference between “can” and “must” is the key to understanding the profound effects of self-interest on reasoning and why people reject the Gospel and likewise embrace sinful behavior. It’s also the key to understanding many of the strangest beliefs such as UFO abduction, quack medical treatments, conspiracy theories, odd religious sacrifices, abortion as common, and the list goes on and on.

The embracing of strange and ungodly beliefs reflect a simple formulation in that when we want to believe something, we ask ourselves, “Can I believe it?” We then search for supporting evidence and if we find even a single piece of pseudo evidence, we can stop thinking and reasoning. At this point we now have permission to believe and we have a justification in case anyone asks. In contrast, when we don’t want to believe something, we ask ourselves, “Must I believe it?” Then we search for contrary evidence and if we find a single reason or smallest shred to doubt to the claim – we can easily dismiss it. We only need one single key to unlock the handcuffs of “Must.” This is the prime indicator of why the 10 Commandments have become such a rock of offense to the unredeemed.

We now have file cabinets full of findings on motivated reasoning showing the many tricks and even self-deception that people use to reach the conclusions they want to reach. A mind asking itself, “Can I believe it” or “Must I believe it” is profound in that it even influences visual perception. We read in the Bible that Mary saw that the stone had been rolled away and immediately ran back to the disciples stating, “Someone has stolen the Lord’s body and I don’t know where they have laid him.” The truth is that Jesus clearly told told Mary (probably on several occasions) the absolute that he would die and would rise or be resurrected from the dead. The problem with Mary’s conclusion and belief is that she based her spiritual and present conclusions on her past natural experiences. You and I are likewise guilty of many of the same spiritual and natural conclusions when filtered through our past experiences and educational influences. Modern science is a prime example. Science and education continue to push pure evolution even when shown that particles, atoms and molecules cannot create consciousness and a mind that gave them the freedom to think and reason. It is truly remarkable that the minds and reasoning of many refute the very Creator who blessed them with it.

Tests have shown that people who thought they would get a reward if a computer flashed up a letter rather than a number were likely to see an ambiguous figure as a capital B rather than as the number 13. If people can literally see what they want see given a bit of ambiguity – is it any wonder why biblical truth oftentimes fails to sway the general public? Outside of the scientific arena in regard to the basic universal laws, there is no such thing as a study or belief that you “must” believe. (The gift of love demands freedom of choice) In other words, its always possible to question teachings or statements of perceived truth, methods, find an alternative interpretation, or if all else fails – question the honesty or ideology of the “other side”. Now that we all have access to search engines on our cell phones, we can simply call up a team of supporting backers for almost any conclusion 24 hours a day. Whatever you want to believe concerning the causes of anything in life including faith, atheism, creation, evolution, and whether a baby in the womb can feel pain – just Google your belief and I promise that you’ll find partisan websites summarizing and validating “my side” or should I say “your side” along with distorting and damning the “other side.” Faith has now become a interfaith smorgasbord and Google will find a belief that is just right for you. After all, there’s just too much “must” in following Jesus.