Love, Old Testament Style: A Video

My seminary held an Alumni reunion in October 2015 and they asked me to speak on my most recent book, Prostitutes and Polygamists: A Look at Love, Old Testament Style.

I speak about
Abraham the pimping patriarch,
Tamar the pious prostitute, and
David the raping monarch.

I really like how the video turned out.  It’s about 35 minutes.  Check it out:

Who’s voice is going to be heard?

When the Church“When the church whispers about sex
and the culture yells about it,
who’s voice is gonna be heard?”

(Prostitutes and Polygamists, p. 19).

Parents, children, pastors, teachers, all of us feel a bit uncomfortable talking about sex, sexual sins, and sexual scandals. We avoid the subject, or when we do discuss it, we whisper. But avoiding doesn’t make it go away (think of the proverbial ostrich).

The Bible doesn’t avoid it.  It talks about it in the beginning. God’s first command to the freshly made humans is basically, “Have a lot of sex” (my paraphrase of “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth”; Gen. 1:28).

And the Bible talks about Abraham pimping his wife Sarah in Egypt, Judah hooking up with his daughter-in-law Tamar, who’s pretending to be a prostitute, David’s affair (I call it rape) with Bathsheba, the gang rape of the Levites concubine (read my take on Judges 19 here).  And what’s up with all that polygamy and incest?

For some subjects like homosexuality, it seems like some churches are yelling, but generally I think they’re sending the wrong message.  I discuss homosexuality in the context of the story of Sodom, and you might be surprised by what Scripture says about the story of Sodom.

The Bible talks about sex and sexual scandals a lot.  We need to talk about these subjects because the Bible talks about them, assuming we think all Scripture is inspired and profitable for teaching.

Our culture talks about sex all the time, perhaps Christians need to start teaching these overlooked, ignored sexual scandals of Scripture.  That’s what I try to do in Prostitutes and Polygamists.  Check it out.

Seeking Confirmation (Psalm 119:38)

Confirm to your servant your promise,
that you may be feared
(Psalm 119:38 ESV).

While most verses in Psalm 119 mention keeping, observing or delighting in God’s laws, this verse doesn’t really fit the formula.  The psalmist here requests that God’s promise (presumably to the psalmist) is confirmed.

One could argue that the psalmist is doubting God’s word.  The divine promise has clearly already been given.  Why then does God need to confirm his promise?  Can’t the psalmist simply believe?  Shouldn’t God’s promise be sufficient?  What is this doing in the Bible?

While we might be uncomfortable with a demand for confirmation from God, the Bible isn’t.  Other people of faith in the Old Testament seek similar confirmations.  The ESV and NAS include a note here with a reference to 2 Samuel 7:25, where David prays that YHWH confirm the promise given of an “eternal” dynastic lineage.  The connection is interesting.  Is David behind the request for confirmation in 119:38?  Who can say?  Psalm 119 mentions no one in the heading.  But whether Psalm 119:38 should be linked to David or not, in both texts a person of faith seeks divine confirmation and it seems to be OK.

When he was childless Abraham sought confirmation for the promise of offspring and God repeatedly gave him confirmation with visual reminders of dust, sand and stars (Gen. 13:16; 15:5; 22:17).

Even in the midst of what may appear to be doubt, the psalmist stays engaged with YHWH in the quest for confirmation.  The psalmist seems to know that it’s OK to seek confirmation directly from God.

The psalmist also knows his place relative to God–as God’s servant.  In addition to this verse, the psalmist calls himself “your servant” twelve other places in the psalm (119:17, 23, 49, 65, 76, 82, 122, 124, 125, 135, 140, 176).  (In his prayer of 2 Samuel, David also frequently referred to himself as “your servant”; 2 Sam. 7:20, 21, 26, 27, 28, 29).

God as we wait for you to come through on what you’ve promised give us patience, faith and confirmation. 

How does promise confirmation lead to fear of God?  Any thoughts? 

Apologies for skipping a week of blogging on Psalm 119 last Sunday.  I couldn’t make it happen, so I decided to cut myself a little slack. 

Image from http://epiphanyumc.org/confirmation