NCW 17, March 1995
Q. What do the scriptures mean when they say that one of the goals of a Christian is to become "gentle" (e.g. Phil.4:5)? How is a man supposed to be firm and strict and yet at the same time be "gentle"?
I don't know what image you have of the prophet Moses but most people regard him as a rather ferocious, larger-than-life giant calling down plagues, parting the sea, condemning apostates to be swallowed up in the earth, inflicting leprosy upon his rebellious sister and brother, etc.. That is the traditional picture of the man, usually large, with a long flowing white beard, with a fierce look in his eyes, holding up a staff threateningly, or breaking stone tablets. And one of the most offensive pictures I have ever seen, very popular with some protestant groups in contrasting the Law of Moses with the Grace of Christ, is of a meek and mild Jesus lovingly protecting a sinner in his arms while an angry Moses waits to strike a death blow!
Yet Moses was a shadow or type of Christ Himself -- His rescue of Israel from bondage is a picture of our own rescue from sin by Christ. And as a man Moses was humble and meek, and so timid that he usually used his brother Aaron as a spokesman!
I choose Moses to illustrate this male harmony between strictness and gentleness because he is the most often villified by Christian liberals who categorise Him as belonging to the "barbaric past". Yet these same liberals conveniently ignore the strict and just side of Jesus, whose demands for obedience are no less strict than those of Moses. Gentle Jesus is depicted in the Book of Revelation as having "eyes like blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of rushing waters...and out of His mouth came a sharp double-edged sword..." (Rev.1:14-16, NIV). Elsewhere in the same book He is depicted as a conquering king destroying nations and slaughtering the ungodly.
It is difficult for liberal Westerners to comprehend these things because they are separated by over two millennia of cultural "development". Our thinking gets changed with time. New philosophies, usually atheistic, have stressed hedonism (the quest for pleasure as man's aim) and attacked things masculine to the point of elevating the female above it. This grossly distorted matriarchal philosophy shapes practically all western thought.
I am glad, however, that false patriarchy has come under attack, even though it has resisted it in many cultures (notably the Moslem and Hindu ones). Men have needed to be sensitised to things female. Jesus illustrated this female side in many ways. However, I am decidedly unhappy about the false matriarchy that has taken its place, a philosophy which not only usurps man's God-given call to lead but which has influenced Christianity to such an extent that calling God "Father" is considered chauvanist. God is either referred to as "Father-Mother-God" or, in radical feminism, pure "Mother" or "Goddess". In our 21st century, soon to be upon us, the Western world will have reverted to a new paganism.
New Covenant Christians care nothing for the conservative-liberal, male chauvanist-feminist swings in theology and practice. We are interested only in the truth. God is our Father, like it or not, and no amount of "redefining" God can change that. He is male. That there may be a female counterpart -- a Mother-God -- though not directly mentioned (there are plenty of clues!) in the Bible, is not repudiated either, and cannot be summarily rejected as conservative Christians might. Their fear of Goddess worship is understandable and accepted, however, and the Bible strongly warns against Mother-Goddess worship in the form of the Astoreths. Some Christians believe that the Holy Spirit is feminine, and juding by the charcteristics of the Spirit recorded in the New Testament, this is not an unreasonable proposition. However, since the New Testament is not definitive on these matters, NCCG maintains a neutral position, and refers to the Holy Spirit as "it" whilst in no way denying that "it" is a Person of the Godhead in the fullest sense.
The New Testament lays great stress on the gentle characteristics of those born again in Christ, perhaps as a counter to what can appear (to the unenlightened) as the strict, male nature of the Old Testament. This is a great challenge to men who, despite being forced to accept the feminist doctrines of secular society, are still very "masculinist" at heart. The whole thrust of modern philosophy seems in many ways to erode the difference between male a female, malculinising the women and feminising the men, as it heads for a unisexual society.
New Covenant Christians believe that men should be allowed, and encouraged, to be masculine and the women should be allowed, and encouraged, to be feminine. We are to be who we were created to be. That does not mean, however, that we are not to understand or experience the other qualities of the opposite sex. There is a considerable area of overlap between the two sexes which will be experienced through the Holy Spirit in believers' lives. Gentleness is one of the fruits of the Spirit on a man's soul though he is to be firm and strict when circumstances warrant it. These qualities must be learned by women too.
This page was created on 1 May 1998
Last updated on 1 May 1998
Copyright © 1987-2008 NCCG - All Rights Reserved