Thursday, October 27, 2011

Love Thy Neighbor

Disclaimer: This post has missed some very essential points. I do not have the ability or wisdom to express exactly what I would like to say. I have issues with the extreme of what you are about to read. Some quotes, some words; that is all I can do right now. My hope is that it will enable someone, somewhere, to think.

"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself."

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. -- Martin Luther King, Jr.

I consider myself blessed among women. My husband loves me. He views me as his equal. Love for him involves aspects I thought existed apart from love: respect, equality, cherishing, honor, faithfulness. When I prayed for a husband, I prayed for a man. I prayed that he would protect me and that I would be able to protect him. I prayed that we would cherish and honor each other. I prayed that I would be able to submit to him and that he would submit to me. I prayed that we would grow old seeking Truth together.

I have wanted to be married for as long as I can remember but about five years ago, I realized that I was not interested in getting married unless I met a man. I hardly realized what that meant until I met Jesse. To him, all men and women are the same. All have the same intelligence. All deserve to be treated with respect. That includes me, his wife. The longer I am married to the man, the more I realize how deep his belief rests in his soul.

The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her... (Proverbs 31: 11 - 12) 
This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem... Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave... Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned. (Solomon's Song)
Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. (Matthew 19: 4-6)

Mary Poppins and I had a date the other evening. I was sick with the flu and we had just purchased the movie (finally! I've been searching for a copy of that film for years). What better thing to watch when you're feeling sick and blue? At any rate, Mr. Banks and Mrs. Banks made me stop and think long and hard. Their relationship is probably more clear cut and exaggerated than real life but I believe we can learn some important truths through it.

Mrs. Banks was all for women's suffrage. She was out on the streets (neglecting her children) all day, singing her heart out and feeling very productive. She was finally expressing herself. At home, she was Mrs. Banks: wife of George, submissive, telling him what he wanted to hear, never arguing with him, mother to his children. She loved him and she loved them. But something was missing. She tried to fill it by asserting herself among her peers. When Mary Poppins' magic prevailed and Mr. Banks saw the light, he started treating his wife differently. He confided in her, he was affectionate with her, he treated her like she was his best pal... most importantly, his equal. The change in her was immediate and beautiful. No longer was something missing from her life.

One of the things about equality is not just that you be treated equally to a man, but that you treat yourself equally to the way you treat a man. -- Marlo Thomas

There are quite a few examples in the Bible of strong women and weak women. There were strong women who used their intelligence and charm for good. There were strong women who used what they had badly. There were also strong men and weak men in the Bible.... There are verses in the Bible on both sides of the coin on every subject imaginable. How to treat women, children, kings, prophets, enemies, etc., etc. We could treat people any way we wanted to, based on which way we read the Scriptures. Part of the reason for that is, in my opinion, God testing us to see what path we will tread.

Tell me, how did Jesus treat women? How did he treat men? How did he treat children? How did he treat those in authority? How did he treat those who were the sinners, untouchables? Unbelievers? Of everything else in the Bible, why can't we look at the two greatest commandments and follow those in every aspect of our lives?

We human beings do not think of people as equals. We think some of the same as ourselves, some are higher and some are most definitely lower. Is it skin color? Age? Walk in life? Religion? Sins committed? Why? Don't we remember that Jesus said: For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven. (Matthew 22:30) Think of both sides of this coin. All those people we know of both in past and present who have expressed hatred. Now think of the ones who have allowed love to lead them.

If we were to select the most intelligent, imaginative, energetic, and emotionally stable third of mankind, all races would be present. -- Franz Boaz

I have known boys and girls who insult the intelligence that God has given them because they think they can't be a Priscilla (Proverbs 31 woman) or Aquila (man of God).  I know kids who are so smart and get bullied at school or don't receive the education they should because of some reason (whether at home or in public school). I have known men and women who wake up in the morning and feel nothing but bondage to their lives. I have read about, watched and known people who are "different". Abused. Ignored. Stuck. Never reaching the potential God had planned for them.

I have thought that I had been given a special understanding that 'unbelievers' don't have a clue about. I have thought that someone wasn't worth it. I have thought and said I can't understand why God would love someone so evil as that person. But I have been reaching for love and understanding. I have been seeking God for the ability to forgive. I have been accused of being friends with sinners. I have been told I am losing my standards and that I haven't been putting God first. I have found that Truth is often the opposite of religion.

And I have found that I don't care what your race, your background, your religion or your sex. I think lack of love is the worst curse that has fallen on the world.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond or free, there is neither male nor female for ye are all one in Jesus Christ. (Galatians 3:28)

O the depth of riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? 


Singing Pilgrim said...

Great post, Naomi.

Anonymous said...

We should love the sinner, but hate the sin. Acseptece of sin is not love.

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Naomi T. said...

Thank you, Pamela. :) A lot of thought and effort went into this. I am glad that you enjoyed it.

Anonymous, it is true that Jesus' response to accepting the sinner and not the sin differed from person to person. However, 99% of the time (the 1% he wasn't is recorded in awe, because it was so rare an occasion) he was compassionate, accepting and loving, regardless of who they were and where they came from. And that is what drew people. Did everyone except him? No, they did not. Did he still accept them? (I am thinking of Judas and Thomas specifically..)

Anonymous said...

I think I understand the points you are conveying, and this post is beautiful. I can feel your heart and soul in it.

It is possible to see the dangers of sin (within a person ) and be aware of it and set boundaries and yet still love that person, with the same love Jesus holds for each of us. I guess maybe the question in regard to associating with an unrepentant sinner (and perhaps causing some people to raise eyebrows at) would to continue to guard our heart, mind, soul and yet still reach out. It isn't the same dynamics as the same as a close believer friend, but it is not something to be looked down upon. :)

I really do believe that husbands and wives should be friends, best friends first...equals. And that sets the beginnings of a strong foundation. Again, so happy for you and Jesse~

Anonymous said...

Amen and amen, Naomi!! I, too, have known of "kids who are so smart and get bullied at school or don't receive the education they should because of some reason (whether at home or in public school). I have known men and women who wake up in the morning and feel nothing but bondage to their lives."

We all have an "equal opportunity" in God's eyes to accept salvation.... and one can be friends with a person who isn't a Christian and yet still be strong in the Lord. So long as you set boundaries and know what your weaknesses are... pray a lot and seek His will! :)

Anonymous said...

Oh, and I LOVE your new header!!

Naomi T. said...

Thanks for your thoughts girls! I appreciate hearing feedback on anything I have the courage to publish. :-) Hehe!

There are certain people you can choose not to be around because they drag you down. There are religious and non-religious people alike that I choose to keep away from. I believe it is good to choose your company but I think it's just a quick step from there to prejudice. I don't like people thinking since they have followed certain steps set out by their church or what they read in the Bible that they are more intelligent or more worthy. The Bible says over and over again that no one is worthy.

I feel so blessed to be able to express my opinion and counter/agree with others. And what about being able to change my mind? I firmly believe that we human being are meant to search our entire lives for the Truth... in that search, it is inevitable that we're going to come to the wrong conclusions sometimes. Thank God for the ability to think on our own.

Samantha, thank you for the compliment on the header. I like it too. :-) I really like the poem. It's so beautiful and says exactly what I feel.

Elisabeth said...

This post is so full of truths that have become more clear to me through my own marraige. Being married to such just men is such a blessing on us women!

Naomi T. said...

E., firstly, congrats again. I am so excited for you!

Being married to good men is indeed a blessing. :) So many women don't have the priviledge!