Monday, June 8, 2009

St. John Chrysostom - On Marriage and Family Life

St. John Chrysostom is one of my favorite writers on the subject of marriage and family life. His homilies are simple, straightforward, very compassionate, and warm. Even though he lived in the 4th century, (347-407)his words have great meaning for today. People have changed a lot. Our society has changed a lot. However, there are certain human qualities that never really change very much. Things like love, self-sacrifice, devotion, service, submission, obedience, and more still speak to us. Many of the struggles that marriages face now were very similar in Chrysostom's time.

Here are some quotes from one of his homilies. I believe that his teachings on marriage and family are very Scriptural. I also believe that what is today called "Complementarianism" is close to St. John's teachings.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the Church. (Ephesians 5:25).
1. "You have seen the amount of obedience necessary. Do you want your wife to be obedient to you, as the Church is to Christ? Then be responsible for the same providential care of her, as Christ is for the Church. And even if it becomes necessary for you to give your life for her, yes, and even to endure and undergo suffering of any kind, do not refuse."

2. "Even if you see her belittling you, or despising and mocking you, still you will be able to subject her to yourself, through affection, kindness, and your great regard for her. There is no influence more powerful than the bond of love, especially for husband and wife . . . . Even so husbands should love their wives as their own bodies (v. 28)."

3. "So if you think that the wife is the loser because she is told to fear her husband, remember that the principal duty of love is assigned to the husband, and you will see that it is her gain. "And what if my wife refuses to obey me?" a husband will ask. Never mind! Your obligation is to love her; do your duty!"

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Use of the Tongue - Good Words - Part One - Pauline Epistles

Ephesians 5:6
Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God's wrath comes on those who are disobedient.

I will now find some Scriptures that talk about the proper use of the tongue, or the proper use of words. I don't know about others, but reading through the passages on the subject of gossip and slander was eye-opening and convicting for me. It's not that many of the passages aren't familiar. Some are very familiar.

It's just so convicting! I praise God for His grace - grace that paid the penalty for my sins when Christ died on the cross, and grace that enables me by the Holy Spirit to actually work at living up to these strong words of correction and rebuke.

Then, I know that Christ lived up to these standards every moment of every day of every week of every month of every year of His earthly life. He took my sin and clothed me in His righteousness. Wow!

Hellbound gossips and slanderers that we are without His intervention in our lifes! Praise His holy name. Even so, if I do not walk in obedience to what He shows me in His Word, how can I claim the name of Christ?

Praise His Name!

Now on to a correct use of the tongue. The texts in this post are from the epistles of Paul.

[to be continued]

1. 1 Corinthians 2:13
This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.

1 Corinthians 2:13 Or Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to spiritual men

This is a wonderful verse. Paul and his companions were not speaking words to us that they had learned from some human philosophy. He was not speaking words of human wisdom. He was speaking things that had been taught to him by the Spirit of God.

How are we as Christians taught by the Spirit of God? We are taught by the Spirit as we read and study the Bible, asking the Spirit to enable us to understand the message of the Gospel. This is what we speak to others, too. What the Spirit spoke to Paul and the other human authors of Scriputre, we read, seek Holy Spirit illumination, and speak to others.

2. Romans 3:2 Much in every way! First of all, they have been entrusted with the very words of God.

The Jews of the Old Testament, and to a certain extent today, were entrusted with the words of God. We have them recorded for us in the Bible. For that reason, even we Christians should respect what God did through His Old Testament people. For that reason, believers should protect and defend the Jews. We believe that the Bible teaches that God is not finished with the Jews, yet, and that they will someday turn to Christ, their Messiah. We love them and speak well of them. We bless them and long for the day of Christ's coming.

3. Romans 8:26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.

Sometimes our spiritual need is too great to put into words. The Spirit intercedes for us.

4. Romans 10:18 But I ask: Did they not hear? Of course they did: "Their voice has gone out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world."

5. 1 Corinthians 1:17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

6. 1 Corinthians 14:9 So it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air.

7. 1 Corinthians 14:19 But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue.

Ephesians 6:19
Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel,
Ephesians 6:18-20 (in Context) Ephesians 6 (Whole Chapter)
1 Thessalonians 1:5
because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake.
1 Thessalonians 1:4-6 (in Context) 1 Thessalonians 1 (Whole Chapter)
1 Thessalonians 4:18
Therefore encourage each other with these words.
1 Thessalonians 4:17-18 (in Context) 1 Thessalonians 4 (Whole Chapter)
1 Timothy 6:4
he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions
1 Timothy 6:3-5 (in Context) 1 Timothy 6 (Whole Chapter)
2 Timothy 2:14
[ A Workman Approved by God ] Keep reminding them of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen.

Use of the Tongue - Slander

Another wrong use of the tongue is that of "slander." These are powerful words. There are many Biblical references to "slander." I will put most of those here in this post.

1. Leviticus 19:16
" 'Do not go about spreading slander among your people. " 'Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor's life. I am the LORD.

Slander can be life-threatening. It seems here to have more legal connotations. It does in our legal system. This particular law is part of various laws given after the Decalogue.

2. Deuteronomy 22:14
and slanders her and gives her a bad name, saying, "I married this woman, but when I approached her, I did not find proof of her virginity,"

Here we see that under the Old Testament system, women who were virgins before they got married were protected from husbands who would slander them. Evidently, these husbands would do this so that they could get a divorce and get rid of a wife when they had no grounds for divorce. In a very real sense, this threatened the woman's life, since the punishment for adultery under the Old Testament theocracy was the stoning to death of the offender.

3. Psalm 15:3
and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman,

It is easy to cast a slur on another. Even if we don't come out and say it, if we insinuate it, it is still slander in God's eyes. Slurs and innuendo are also ways that people slander one another. Those who want to have a place in God's sanctuary and holy hill will not slander others, or even cast slurs on his fellowman.

1 LORD, who may dwell in your sanctuary?
Who may live on your holy hill?
2 He whose walk is blameless
and who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from his heart

3 and has no slander on his tongue,
who does his neighbor no wrong
and casts no slur on his fellowman,

4 who despises a vile man
but honors those who fear the LORD,
who keeps his oath
even when it hurts,

5 who lends his money without usury
and does not accept a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things
will never be shaken.

4. Psalm 35:15
But when I stumbled, they gathered in glee; attackers gathered against me when I was unaware. They slandered me without ceasing.

Slanderers often kick a person when they are down.

5. Psalm 38:20
Those who repay my good with evil slander me when I pursue what is good.

Often those to whom we have done much good end up turning on us and spreading rumors about us. They may even be telling the truth in part, but the intention is to harm or even destroy.

I think of many parents who have suffered this kind of thing with their children. I have a good friend who is going through this kind of thing with her daughter. It is very hard for her.

Often, ex-spouses will slander one another. Sometimes, the offending spouse will slander their victim in an attempt to cover up their own wrongdoing. I have seen this happen, too.

I wonder if David had his own son, Absalom in mind when he wrote these words.

6. Psalm 50:20
You speak continually against your brother and slander your own mother's son.

It is especially sad when siblings slander one another. It is especially sad when, in the body of Christ, Christians resort to slander.

7. Psalm 54:5
Let evil recoil on those who slander me; in your faithfulness destroy them.

Strong words! God does not ignore slander. We had better repent of it if we have engaged in it.

8. Psalm 101:5
Whoever slanders his neighbor in secret, him will I put to silence; whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart, him will I not endure.

We may think that if we slander someone it is in secret. However, God hears it. Again, let's repent of it before God deals with us as we deserve.

9. Proverbs 10:18
He who conceals his hatred has lying lips, and whoever spreads slander is a fool.

Yes. The one who spreads slander is a fool. I think that this refers to the fact that when someone wants to spread slander, the last person he or she tells is the one who is being slandered. It is supposedly done in secret. It is a lie to not tell the person what you have in your heart, and then spread those supposed secret lies around behind their back. It is foolish, because slander is never secret, and it eventually doubles back on the one who uses it to spread hatred.

10. Jeremiah 6:28
They are all hardened rebels, going about to slander. They are bronze and iron; they all act corruptly.

Who are they rebelling against? God, really, though they may also be rebelling against His properly established authorities.

11. Jeremiah 9:4
"Beware of your friends; do not trust your brothers. For every brother is a deceiver, and every friend a slanderer.

Slanderers often turn on each other, I have noticed.

12. Ezekiel 22:9 In you are slanderous men bent on shedding blood; in you are those who eat at the mountain shrines and commit lewd acts.

Those who slander may also want bloodshed. They may also be engaged in false religious practices which involve gross immorality. It is not always the case, of course. Exekiel was talking about the depths of depravity that God's people had sunk to in their rebellion. These particular slanderers were also engaged in other detestable practices.

13. Ezekiel 36:3 Therefore prophesy and say, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Because they ravaged and hounded you from every side so that you became the possession of the rest of the nations and the object of people's malicious talk and slander,

During the time of Ezekiel, part of God's judgment on Israel was that they were the object of the malicious talk and slander of other nations. I think it safe to say that when we are being slandered ourselves, we should search our hearts and repent of any known sin. The slander of others may be God's discipline.

Matthew 15:19
For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.

All of these sins have their origin in the human heart. No one can say that they have never slandered another person. No one can say that they have never listened to and spread slander. Often, this involves public figures. It seems that slandering a public figure is somehow okay, even for Christians. It may be legal. I'm not sure I'd try to convince God that slander is not sin, even when it is about a public figure. Those involved in serious, Christian apologetics or counter cult ministries are very careful not to slander others. Analyze their teachings in love, yes. Slander, no. They want to help Christians defend the faith, as well as help those trapped in cults to escape.

We need to be careful. Even when speaking of Satan, we should not slander him and the celestial beings. We tell the truth about him and don't get into "shouting matches" with the devil as some are wont to do.

14. Romans 1:30
slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents;

Again, slanderers is mentioned right up there with the worst kind of sinners.

15. Romans 3:8
Why not say—as we are being slanderously reported as saying and as some claim that we say—"Let us do evil that good may result"? Their condemnation is deserved.

Misrepresenting the teachings of others is also slander. Deliberately misrepresenting the teachings of the Word of God is one of the worst kinds of slander.

16. 1 Corinthians 4:13
when we are slandered, we answer kindly. Up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world.

Answer a slanderer kindly, but do answer them - as Paul did.

17. 1 Corinthians 5:11 But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.

Stay away from those who slander, especially Christians who are known to have the habit of slanderering others. Our church had one case like this some years back where one man had to be made to leave the church.

18. 1 Corinthians 6:10
nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

Those who habitually slander others will not go to heaven. Period.

19. 2 Corinthians 12:20
For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, factions, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder.

Slander can even happen in the church.

20. Ephesians 4:31
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.

What do we do when we realise that we have fallen into this dreadful sin that endangers our souls? Repent. Get rid of it out of our lives. Work at getting rid of it.

21. Colossians 3:8
But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.

Get rid of these things.

22. 1 Timothy 5:14
So I counsel younger widows to marry, to have children, to manage their homes and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander.

Young women need to keep busy in their homes so that the devil won't slander the church because of its women with moral problems.

23. 1 Timothy 6:1
All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God's name and our teaching may not be slandered.

We don't have slaves, but most of us do work for someone. Christian employees should earn the respect of their employers so that people won't say things like, "look at what a lazy mess that guy is, and he calls himself a Christian! They're all alike. They're all hypocrites."

24. 2 Timothy 3:3
without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good,

Love and slander do not go together. The one who refuses to forgive generally slanders the one that has offended them. There is no way to pacify an unforgiving person. The Bible proves itself wise in not just suggesting that we stay away from slanderers, but rather commanding that we stay away from them.

25. Titus 2:3
Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.

Slander can be a problem at any age.

26. Titus 3:2 to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.

No matter how bitter this pill is to swallow, a Christian leader cannot slander others. Yes, others can slander him until the cows come home, but he cannot retaliate. Yes, he can defend himself as Paul did, but he cannot spread slander about others. He cannot go on the attack, but he can defend himself. Paul defended himself when he was slandered. It was a measured, and careful defense.

J27. James 2:7
Are they not the ones who are slandering the noble name of him to whom you belong?

How were the rich slandering the name of Christ? By withholding wages from their workers. A rich person who is also generous is a great blessing to all they come in contact with.

28. James 4:11
Brothers, do not slander one another. Anyone who speaks against his brother or judges him speaks against the law and judges it. When you judge the law, you are not keeping it, but sitting in judgment on it.

This is a command for Christians not to slander one another at all.

29. 1 Peter 2:1
Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.

Get rid of slander.

30.<em>1 Peter 3:16
keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

Good behavior defeats the slanderer.

31. 2 Peter 2:11
Bold and arrogant, these men are not afraid to slander celestial beings; yet even angels, although they are stronger and more powerful, do not bring slanderous accusations against such beings in the presence of the Lord.

Don't even slander demons.

32. Jude 1:8
In the very same way, these dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject authority and slander celestial beings.

Don't even slander demons.

33. Jude 1:9
But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!"

Not even the archangel Michael slandered the devil.

34. Revelation 2:9
I know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich! I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.

35. Revelation 13:6
He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven.

The devil slanders God and His people.


I am being convicted about this. I try to make my blogs positve, God-honoring places. If I write something that comes out kind of negative, I try to reword it, to rework it, and then post it. I often just delete posts that don't come out right, or could be taken the wrong way. I use my tongue. I want to make good use of it for God's glory.

Wrong uses of the tongue.:


1. Proverbs 20:19
He who goes about as a slanderer reveals secrets,
Therefore do not associate with a gossip.

We are told to break off contact with gossips. That would include, I suppose, even reading gossip. That would include everything from Supermarket Tabloids to blogs where gossip is regularly featured.

2. Romans 1:29
being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips,

Here, gossip is mentioned along with murder in the list of sins that those of depraved minds engage in. Gossip seems like such an innocent passtime. However, it is really evidence of a depraved mind.

Romans 1:28-30 (New American Standard Bible)

28And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper,

29being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips,

30slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,

3. 1 Timothy 3:11
Women must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things.

Women who freelly engage in gossip sessions are not qualified to serve in the church until and unless they deal with this sin.

4. 1 Timothy 5:12-14 13 At the same time they also learn to be idle, as they go around from house to house; and not merely idle, but also gossips and busybodies, talking about things not proper to mention.
14Therefore, I want younger widows to get married, bear children, keep house, and give the enemy no occasion for reproach;

This passage speaks for itself. Gossip is never the proper activity for a Christian woman. In our day, we can say using the telephone, emails, text messaging, blogging, or even the US postal service to spread gossip.

5. 2 Timothy 3:3
unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good,

This is a cluster of qualities that characterize men who have abandoned the faith. "Malicious gossips" is one of those. This passage from 2 Timothy shows that gossip is not just a problem that women have. Men can be just as bad. It is also one sign of apostasy.

6. Titus 2:3
Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good,

Gossip is malicious. Older women should not spend their days listening to and spreading gossip.

7. 2 Corinthians 12:20
For I am afraid that perhaps when I come I may find you to be not what I wish and may be found by you to be not what you wish; that perhaps there will be strife, jealousy, angry tempers, disputes, slanders, gossip, arrogance,

Paul hoped that when he visited the church in Corinth, they would have "cleaned up their act." He wanted them to deal with their "issues" before he came. I think that he wanted to have sweet fellowship with them, so he didn't want to have to spend his time with them just resolving conflicts that should have been resolved.

These words are sobering. There is grace offered. After all, Paul expected that the Christians in Corinth, who were well-known for their disorderly conduct, would have repented of the sins they had been engaging in.

Let us take hope from those words, and these.:

1 John 1:9 (New International Version)
9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Soul-searching Scriptures.