June 21, 2017

It Will Be Given You (Matthew 10:19-20)

Category: Bible - NT - Matthew :: Permalink

It’s amusing to note that in the history of the exegesis and exposition of Matthew 10:19-20 (“When they hand you over, do not be concerned how or what you should speak, for it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak, for it is not you speaking but the Spirit of your Father speaking in you”), commentator after commentator has felt the need to make it clear that this passage is not an excuse for pastors to wing it as they preach, without any study or preparation.

You’ll find that point in Augustine, Thomas (citing Chrysostom), Zwingli, Bucer, Musculus, Cocceius … all the way up to D. A. Carson and Frederick Dale Bruner today.

They’re right, of course … but what does the fact that they feel the need to stress this (rather obvious) point tell you?

Posted by John Barach @ 2:25 pm | Discuss (0)
June 6, 2017

Sticky Tape?

Category: Family,Marriage :: Permalink

From time to time, I have come across the following illustration in connection with an exhortation — usually to young women — to “guard your heart.” Here it is:

Your heart is like a sticky piece of tape. The first time you stick it to something, it sticks well. But if you pull it off and stick it on something else, it might still stick … fairly well. But if you keep doing that, pulling it off and sticking on somewhere else, it’s going to get less and less sticky, not to mention a lot dirtier. Eventually it’s not going to stick at all.

And so too with a woman’s heart, or so it is said. If you get infatuated with some guy and “give your heart” to him and then the same thing happens with another guy, your heart is going to get less and less “sticky,” less able to stick to one guy, and if you do try to stick to one guy, you’re probably going to have a wandering eye, always looking for the next guy to come along.

The solution — or so those who use this illustration would have you believe — is to stick to one person, if possible, and to plan for that. So dating is out and some form of courtship is in — aimed, it would seem, at making sure, as much as possible, that the one guy a girl gets interested in is going to be the one she marries. Plus, she’s urged to “guard her heart,” to make sure she doesn’t “fall in love” until she’s sure that this is the one guy she’s going to marry and stay with forever.

I don’t buy it.

I don’t buy the appropriateness of the illustration. Are our hearts really like sticky tape? I don’t think so.

Parents of one child sometimes wonder how they could ever love a second child. Won’t the “stickiness” of their heart become diluted if they’re spreading their love over two children. But as the father of four children, each of whom is different and each of whom I love dearly, I can tell you that that’s not so.

If this illustration were true, a woman who is widowed has a less “sticky” heart going into a second marriage and if perchance she loses that second husband, too, her heart — now on its third “stick” — probably doesn’t have much “stickiness” left. But that’s not the case.

I also don’t buy the solution. There is no form of courtship (somehow distinguished from “dating”) that can guarantee that the first person your daughter is attracted or drawn to is going to be the guy she marries and stays married to for the rest of her life. There is no form of courtship that can guarantee that she will not ever have a broken heart. And the quest for such a “perfect” form of courtship is not only quixotic but seriously misguided.

Sometimes this approach can even result in a girl getting the impression that she shouldn’t feel anything toward a guy until after she agrees to marry him lest she “give her heart” to him and risk losing her “stickiness” if it turns out that he isn’t the one. So she marries him on some other grounds besides attraction … and then finds, even after the wedding, that there’s still no attraction there.

As for the phrase “guard your heart,” it is indeed biblical. Proverbs 4:23 says “Guard your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.”

But notice that it’s not talking about “guarding your heart” from falling in love with someone or being attracted or drawn to someone. It’s talking about guarding your heart from sin and foolishness. Here it is in context (Prov 4:20-27):

My son, give attention to my words;
Incline your ear to my sayings.
Do not let them depart from your eyes;
Keep them in the midst of your heart;
For they are life to those who find them,
And health to all their flesh.
Keep [or: guard] your heart with all diligence,
For out of it spring the issues of life.
Put away from you a deceitful mouth,
And put perverse lips far from you.
Let your eyes look straight ahead,
And your eyelids look right before you.
Ponder the path of your feet,
And let all your ways be established.
Do not turn to the right or the left;
Remove your foot from evil.

Young men and women do indeed need to guard their hearts, to learn wisdom, to keep God’s commandments, to put away deceit and evil.

But there is no commandment forbidding them from being attracted to someone else, no prohibition on “falling in love,” no hint that attraction or even love for one person necessarily makes you less able to love someone else in a “sticky” way later, no Scriptural exhortation for their parents to try to ensure that their hearts never get “stuck” on anyone they don’t end up marrying, let alone never get broken.

Posted by John Barach @ 3:57 pm | Discuss (1)