Turning Love Into Obligation And Grace Into Entitlement
In observing the continuing debate on the feminine imperative (or gynocentrism as I read it), I keep revisiting a concept we see play out in Scripture. As discussed before, the bond between a husband and wife in Marriage 1.0 is like the bond between Christ and His Church. Since this analogy has been made, we can observe in one item characteristics that can be instructional about the other.
I developed some of these ideas here and here, but given the number of times in reading the other posts above that I wanted to pop that text into the comment threads, I thought it worthy to draw the concept out to both illustrate the fruit of the feminine imperative, and the net effect of some of the feminist actions going on in traditional conservative and religious circles. This post will start with the Christ and Church side of things and the next one will apply it to the situations we have before us.
Love Into Obligation
We start with love. While the love that Christ commands can be developed in another direction relating to marriage, it is useful for our discussion to look at the love that Christ has given towards us:
And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:5-8)
We see in these verses that Christ’s sacrifice was something that was given to us through the love of God, as well as the continuing love of God through the Holy Ghost. This idea of love is even expressed to the Corinthians in this manner, when it comes to giving.
But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all-sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work: (2 Corinthians 9:6-8)
Anything that is done grudgingly or of necessity becomes an obligation or a debt. It becomes a work that is owed. We can look no further than Romans and see the results of our works before the Lord.
Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. (Romans 3:22-26)
Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. (Romans 4:4-5)
If something is done out of obligation, then free-will is lost and it completely ceases to be love. As much as God would like to draw the entire world toward Jesus to be saved, free-will in those involved will necessitate the possibility of rejecting Him.
Grace Into Entitlement
The Lord is all-sufficient and doesn’t owe us anything. Debts or obligations are owed, and the Lord God owes us nothing, and we in fact deserve nothing from Him. All things are God’s and all things are for Him and His purpose:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. (Ephesians 1:3-6)
For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. (Colossians 1:16-17)
Who hath prevented me, that I should repay him? whatsoever is under the whole heaven is mine. (Job 41:11)
We can also look at the other Scriptures posted above and see the element of grace played out. Grace is unmerited favor, or a blessing done absent an obligation. Mercy is the withholding of the curse that we do deserve at the hands of the Lord. We have nothing that the Lord can be enriched with, and He has done nothing to owe us anything. All things are His. We have no right to expect anything out of the Lord except condemnation. We are entitled to nothing, but we receive the grace from Him given freely. This is the pattern we are given, and a recognition of the grace and mercy we are given in faith is a requirement:
For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. (1 Corinthians 15:9-10)
We also have the parable given in Matthew 18:21-35, where the servant came before the king and begged forgiveness of his debt and got it, while not granting forgiveness for the much smaller debt of a fellow servant:
Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses. (Matthew 18:32-35)
So what are we to learn of these things? As I wrote here, these conclusions are equally valid of both the Church and the average Westernized woman today:
If I were to be asked (and don’t read this as “I hate women” because I don’t, I do like extending genuine love and grace to them when the situation calls for it, but that’s for all too as a Christian) the thing I hate most about the average woman in her character, the answer would be that she doesn’t exhibit any sense of grace in her life when she receives it and more importantly any grace that she receives from men has no effect upon her.
This is definitely true of the Church today. So many think the Lord owes them something. They treat Him as the magic butler in prayer, feeling entitled to everything that they ask Him. God does not owe them anything. God is not obligated to them for anything other than His promises which are yes in Christ Jesus. Anything they receive from the Lord’s hand is purely out of mercy and grace alone. You, me, and everyone else deserves from Him only justice for what you have done. He doesn’t HAVE to do anything, because He is fully sovereign. I love how so many figures speak of the Lord’s actions in Scripture (KJV uses this phrase, others use things like maybe or perhaps):
And Jonathan said to the young man that bare his armour, Come, and let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised: it may be that the Lord will work for us: for there is no restraint to the Lord to save by many or by few. (1 Samuel 14:6)
And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses said unto the people, Ye have sinned a great sin: and now I will go up unto the Lord; peradventure I shall make an atonement for your sin. (Exodus 32:30)
Enquire, I pray thee, of the Lord for us; for Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon maketh war against us; if so be that the Lord will deal with us according to all his wondrous works, that he may go up from us. (Jeremiah 21:2)
Next time will address the application of this today to the topics of the debate. Since the Scriptural dissertation ties so closely to The Gospel, that link will be provided.