Wanted: A Real Man

Today was one of those days when everything seemed orchestrated.

After almost two days since the unfortunate crash and burn of this year’s detox (a blog post for another day), I decided that even though I had no one to hang out with and technically nowhere to go – I was gonna go out and have fun… by myself – if need be.

So I put my pretty dress on and I carefully put on my makeup (coz I didn’t want to carry it in my bag – as per usual), prepped my bag for a nice splurge. I even packed my diary and a nice book with me – just in case I ended up loitering in a cafe somewhere (that was another great option).

The sun was in its last blaze of glory and so I put on my shades. There was a skip to my step – it was like this day just couldn’t get any better. Not so. I flipped open my phone to find a missed call from a friend of mine. I call her – she answers right ahead and asks me if I’m free to hang out. Ah, bliss.

This friend of mine – so near and dear to my heart – was (is) undergoing a painful end to a once celebrated union. In a world where 50% of all marriages end in divorce, this should not have come as a surprise. Still, it did not make things right.

Call me old fashioned but I still dream of princes who slay dragons and free the princesses from endless sleep and in champions who fight for the honour of their fair maiden. But if I were to open my eyes and face the stinky bean curd, the real world tells me, the princes are dragons that enslave their princesses and the champions fight for nothing else but their own honour.

That is not to say that I think women ought to spend their entire lives wasting away in towers waiting for prince charming to save them. I am not saying that we are incapable of fighting our own battles and defending our own honour.

Gender roles (especially in marriages, family units, society) are a touchy subject and are often subjective. But thankfully, the Bible gives us guidelines that can help us:

Ephesians 5: Instructions for Christian Households

 21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

 22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26to make her holy, cleansing[b] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”[c] 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

No one is exempt from submission.

In the Bible’s model of a household, everyone submits. The women submit to the men (who are placed as “heads of the family” by God) and the men (and therefore, the women in their care) are ultimately accountable to and submit to God. Without a firm understanding of this simple truth, abuse and inequality would ruin a household.

This means that women – we ought to submit to our husbands but more importantly, we must submit to God. If our husbands (or men in our lives) tell us to do something that is not in line with God’s commands – there is no reason for us to “submit”. True submission to our husbands is to obey God.

And if you are like me and you are single – it helps to remember that until we find ourselves a husband we are placed, by God, under the care and “head”ship of our earthly Fathers (as to whether or not they are good heads is another discussion).

Also, this means that men do not have “ultimate say”. Having them as heads does not give them the right to dictate the lives of women as if it was “his way or the high way”. God holds women in high regard and have placed them under your protection. Men have, therefore, no right to abuse their power because these women are not “their property” but “in their care”.

Both men and women must ultimately submit to the authority of Christ. Women, in the way that they serve and Men, in the way that they lead.

While we are all equally loved by God (Male or Female), we are assigned different roles and responsibilities:

[1] Husbands are the head of the family.

[2] Women should submit to their husbands.

During my very short study in psychology (on the topic of marriage), I learned that marriages are not built on equality but equity.

If we were to strive for equality in a relationship – it would be unfair for both parties because the same demands will be made of everybody regardless of individual differences in capacity. And regardless of the outcome, everybody gets the same piece of the pie. This is COMMUNISM.

Equity is a better thing to strive for in marriage because by its very definition – equity is justice. There is consideration given for diversity (the inherent differences in the physical/emotional makeup of men and women), there is equal opportunity given for each to participate and to gain from the relationship.

Now, before a feminist cries out in righteous indignation. Let me explain the underlying stipulations which will allow a marriage to reach that state of equity:

[1] Husbands are the head of the family

  • This is a God-given privilege and responsibility (you are not the head because it is your right as a man – you are head because God says you are)
  • They are instructed to follow the example of Jesus (you cannot just do as you please, however you please)
  • They should love their wives as Christ LOVES the Church (He gave His life for her – for her cleansing and restoration!) and as they love their own bodies.

[2] Wives should submit to their husbands

  • This is a God-given privilege (i.e. you are protected) and with it comes a responsibility (i.e. you must submit in everything)
  • They are instructed to submit in the same way they submit to the Lordship of Christ (in essence, your submission to your husband is a reflection of your submission to Christ)
  • Your submission must be done with willingness and respect.

The ultimate goal of marriage is not to please Men (or Women) but to glorify God.

This system of submission is not only for our sake but ultimately for the sake of the glory of God. If we should ask the question, “Why should we do it this way and not in our own way?” the answer is this:

We should submit — to each other — NOT BECAUSE of culture, not because of gender, not because of age, not because of social norms, not because “YOU WILL BE DAMNED IN HELL IF YOU DON”T”.

We submit because it pleases God.

So, we lead as CHRIST does, we serve as if it were CHRIST we serve.

We submit to please God.

The Fallen Reality

I was waiting for the ferry when I came upon a most heartbreaking scene.

A man and a woman were fighting – they seemed to be a young couple (boyfriend-girlfriend).

The man was exponentially raising his voice, his body was towering over this woman in a stance that showed me that he was physically trying to make this woman SUBMIT.

The woman was cowering in fear, her cries were mixed with terror and anger. There was little she could do but repeatedly say “Let me go!”.

At some point, the scene turns even more alarming when the man resorts to emotional harassment – using violent actions (like throwing a glass bottle onto the side with force and moving “as if” to hit her).

Finally, the girl cries out for help…

So many looked on. But no one came.

At that moment, I wished I were a man. Because I wanted so desperately to stand up for this woman. To defend her honour. To be her champion. But unfortunately, I was frozen in fear.

Finally, I got on the ferry. I called my dad – just to hear his voice – because unknowingly, I must have been trying to remind myself – though there are many posers out there, though they are a rarity in these days – real men do exist. And hopefully, there is one out there – for me.

Right now, I turn to my dad for strength and protection. He is my champion. He is my “head”. Its not too farfetched to think that – despite all his obvious faults – he represents my ideal. Will I have to leave my Father’s ‘covering’ for another? Someday. Maybe.

But, I have decided that I will not submit just to anyone. In fact, I can’t.

I want to marry a REAL MAN – a man totally submitted to God.


The Seven-Fifteen

Lately, our church was visited by Drs. (yes, plural) Hong Yang and his wife, Esther.

He’s a funny, ON FIRE, truly pentecostal preacher – barely attached to the floor when he’s preaching. He’s like a firecracker bursting at the sides to proclaim the Gospel. It is truly inspiring to see. One of his many talents is using word play to convey the deepest truths in the simplest ways… One thing he said which really struck me was:

“… at the heart of every issue … is an issue of the heart…”

I had to write that down in my notebook very quickly (coz this guy speaks a million miles a minute) but I just knew that I would have to revisit that thought at the very first chance.

On my last post, I had mentioned that just over a year ago, I was living a life of sin…  but since coming back to God, its been a long and hard process of learning and unlearning things that I had always thought to be true about myself, about my small world, about the world-at-large, about life, about the church, about God himself.

And no, I’m not talking about some kind of shifty DIY ‘psych yourself out’ process. Part of what was different about “this” coming back to God – was my going back to the light of his Truth – of his Word.

The Bible says, the truth will set us free. We say it often in the church but most of us don’t really know how that can be true. I’ve heard many a sermon on the importance of reading the Word but never had I placed so much faith in its power, never have I relied on it and NEVER have I been more convinced that:

No one can hope for true redemption, for transformation, for TRUE LIVING without God’s word…

Without the Word – you won’t know WHO you are – you won’t know WHOSE you are – you won’t realize WHERE you are (reference to God’s first question to Adam — making him realize he was NOT in God’s presence anymore)…. These three questions make up the basics of human identity.

We were created by God for his glory and his pleasure and without Him we are left incomplete for the “creation can never be satisfied without communion with the Creator”.

Without intimacy with God, without identity – no wonder we have no inkling of the WHYs, the HOWs, the WHAT FORs of living. No wonder we have no sense of direction and purpose in life – no wonder we end up living for the lesser things – no wonder we end up being mastered by our most natural desires…

Sin caused us to lose our intimacy with God, which resulted in the loss of our identity – which led to the loss of control.

It always confused me – why I would do the things that I knew were not good for me – why would I continue doing the very things that were screwing my life up. It was masochistic. Its counter-intuitive… Its as Paul had said

“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” Romans 7:15

And yes, that is THE SEVEN-FIFTEEN that this blog is named after.

Masochistic, counter-intuitive it may be — but it is the human condition…

Most of us, who secretly struggle with sinful habits — have tried countless times to STOP — without realizing that the reason we cannot stop is because we haven’t gotten to the root of the problem.

The heart of the human issue – is not the ISSUES – its our HEARTS.

We all need an intensive renovation of the heart. We need to stop running away from the Truth – hiding away in the shadows, in the darkness. If you want to be free — if you want to live — you need to die…

We need to start moving things OUT and invite Jesus in. We need to check ourselves into the Hospital (the Church) — to reconnect with the Father, through his Son and re-establishing that connection through the guidance and the enablement of the Holy Spirit.

Only then, can we live in freedom. Only then, can we truly live.

Sin and Snakes

Come Away With Me - Agatha Villa
Come Away with Me

It was another one of those hot Saturdays, I just needed to get a breath of fresh air. So, I packed my camera bag and set out to retrace some of my old photo-venture trails. Somehow, I found myself along the rocky side of the island and I felt like taking a turn I had never tried before. Then, I had an encounter (too close for comfort) with a snake – not just any kind of small worm-like garden snake – it was a nice, fat, HOODED snake – yes, a cobra.

Words cannot even begin to describe the panic that set the moment I saw it. Yes, I had always known that in an island (such as the one I live on) full of trees, boulders and crevices, there would be untold numbers of creatures lurking, hiding. In fact, part of the thrill of photo-venturing was the reminder that there were dangerous things out there. The only thing was, now that danger was all too real.

So, when I saw that scaly body not even a foot away from where I was standing, all I could think of was to run.

“Snakes… you either kill them or you run away from them – fast…”

Sin, is like that too in many respects.

I’m not saying that snakes are inherently evil – but sin definitely is. No matter how people might want to view it sin is despicable, ugly and destructive. It is anything and everything that separates us from God.

I used to be in bondage to sin. I could not stop doing the very things that I hated, the very things that brought me so much pain and suffering. All my attempts at ‘cleaning up’ were in vain. I was but a slave and sin my master.

Today, in many ways, I am still the same person I was before – the same proclivities, same inclinations, same carnal desires — but after having repented and returned to God I am convinced now that I am a ‘new creation’ (as the Bible puts it). I am no longer in bondage to my sinful ways – I can say no.

But just because it is possible to say ‘no’ to sin, doesn’t mean we should just willingly waltz into situations wherein we know we can ‘fall’. In Matthew 26 we are told, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” In James 1, we are also told that we are tempted by ‘natural desires’.

We live in a world that glorifies sin. Temptation presses on us – from all sides. We should not, therefore, be surprised by it. At times, its harder to resist especially when my humanity weighs on me. But the Bible gives me hope, it tells me

“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

There will always be a way out.

We need to realize that falling into temptation is not an ‘oops, I did it again’ sort of thing. Often, we make several unwise decisions before we are trapped into sin again. In that case, we must be aware of our weaknesses — of things, places, times and even PEOPLE that may lead us to sin.

So, I tell myself. “Agie, you know you shouldn’t be here – you know where this road leads.”

1 Peter 5:8-9 tells me:

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”

Life for every Christian is a constant struggle – its why I decided to make this blog. Even if we are no longer who we were – we still have that sinful nature in us – THAT WANTS to sin. It is not, however, the end game – if and when we fall. If and when you fall into sin (just like I have in many occasion), the best thing really is to look to Jesus again — don’t be discouraged by your failings, rather – repent and return to God our Father.

1 Peter 5:10 reminds us

“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”

God is not finished with us yet…

“…Trust deep. Aim high. Work hard. Live Well. Die Laughing…”