Tuesday, February 20, 2007

long hair and feminity

A BBC website article entitled
"Mark of a Woman"
discusses the relationship between long hair and femininity.

Hair is so significant because of what it is and where it is," says Dr Martin Skinner, social psychologist at the University of Warwick. "It is part of us, much more intimate than things like clothes. If you cut it away, you are cutting away a bit of yourself. Whatever we do with it is very much part of our identity."

The article focuses on the link between long hair and femininity. It has always been so, psychologist Lorraine Sherr says, "As far back as cavemen, there are drawings of women with longer, glossier hair."

The article points out that a shaved head for a woman always has negative connotations. "It has been used a badge of shame, often linked to sexual promiscuity. During World War II, for example, French women who fraternised with German soldiers were punished by having their heads shaved. "

"When a woman does something like shave her head it is not what society would expect of her, or dictates to her," says psychologist Simon Moore. "People don't like it because they don't know how to act, they don't know what it means."

The article then goes on to interview a lady named Nicki Hastie, 37, who shaved her head nearly 20 years ago. She says. "It's about doing something for yourself, despite all the pressures out there to conform." "We need to widen what's acceptable for women and men, and accept there are different layers of femininity and masculinity in one person."

A reader from the Democratic Republic of Congo comments: "Cutting hair to a woman here in my country is looked to be a bad habit...It is like a shame for a wamon to cut her hair without a specific reason. Here we consider that having the long hair is a style for the women, but the short hair for the men."


These discussions are interesting but if we want real answers for living we must turn to the Scriptures, and to 1 Corinthians 11.

"every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered. For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the gloryof the man. For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man. For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels. Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God. Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered? Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering. But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God."

We learn from this that:

- Nature teaches us that women should have long hair but that it is shameful for men to have long hair
- It is shameful for women to have short hair (shorn) as well as shaved
- If a woman has short hair she is dishonouring her head (i.e. her husband or is denying the principle of male headship)
- Long hair is given to women for their glory and for modesty.
- It is not only natural but the church should have no other practice in these mattters
Short hair on women is also a clear violation of God's law relating to maintaining the God-ordained difference between the sexes established at creation. It appears that it was common for lesbians of the time to prefer short hair in order to look like men. Paul states that nature should teach us of this distinction. The word nature (phusis) in Scripture is always used to refer to creation ordinances. This is the case in Romans 1:26 where Paul refers to homosexuality as against the creation ordinance of marriage between men and women: "For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature [phusis]". Homosexual behavior, the apostle says, is against nature; that is, it is against God's original order established at creation. That which subverts and perverts such creation ordinances is regarded as an "abomination" to the Lord (Deut. 22:5). This is also therefore true of hair length. When Paul speaks of long hair on a man as shameful according to nature he uses the same Greek word atimia that is used in Romans 1:26 to describe the vileness of homosexual practice. That which is highly esteemed among men, is abominable in the sight of God.

People will want to ask, sometimes implicitly disputing with the words of inspiration, the sufficiency of Scripture and the wisdom of God, "how long is long then?". There is an evident difference between long and short. They are relative. Medium is another relative term in measuring length. These things are clear enough for those that categorize hairstyles according to hairlengths for women in glossy magazines. But there are other considerations that help us. Paul uses the various Greek words related to kalumma (katakalupto, akatakaluptos, akatakalupto) in 1 Corinthians when referring to head covering, but then introduces the word peribolaion when referring to hair as a covering shows that he is distinguising between different kinds of coverings. Moreover, the word peribolaion signifies literally "to throw all around" like a mantle or veil. It therefore refers to something copious that wraps about a person. This gives the indication that long hair must be at least shoulder-length since a veil must cover the face.

Lastly, since Scripture is clear, the church must be clear and uniform. "If any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God". One notable example of this is the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland ruling of Synod.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Is the Reformation over in the UK?

Roman Catholicism is set to become the dominant religion in Britain for the first time since the Reformation because of massive migration from Catholic countries across the world. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/article1386939.ece

The growing dominance of Rome has been more than evident since the deluge of media attention given to the death and funeral of Pope John Paul II. As one historian put it at the time - it showed that Protestant Britain was dead. We can expect a growing exodus to Rome as the Anglican communion continues to fudge the homosexuality issue.

It shows that Anglicanism is dying but not the Reformation. The royal supremacy in the government of the Anglican church meant that the Reformation was always limited and weakened since it was not led by the ministers of the word. It has often followed the preferences of men rather than adhering to the Word of God. It is witnessing the reality that a church can become broader and broader but there comes a point when the varying parties within it have nothing of conviction in communion but merely happen to belong to the same communion.

The nation needs a Reformation afresh, but when we have despised the one that we have had how can we expect another? Unless the Lord in His wrath will remember mercy and revive His work in the midst of the years. The man of sin can only be destroyed by the breath of Christ's lips, the Word of God (2 Thess. 2). He is able to make that Word to grow mightily and to prevail.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

the day of small things

It must be evident to any serious minded and gracious soul with a sincere
interest in the things that concern the cause of Christ in our land that
our's is comparatively a day of small things. This can be witnessed in the
low state of right doctrine, vital godliness and genuine Christian

It is right to recognise when it is truly a day of small things. It is not
wrong to speak in this way. Indeed, it is realistic. Those who have
understanding of the times accept that this is so. the signs of a day of
small things, not only in the nation but also in the professing Church, are
clear for those with true discernment. It is a day of blasphemy and rebuke.

There is however, a warning against despising such a day: the Word of God
asks 'who hath despised the day of small things?' This is to regard the day
of small things as though there were nothing of value and the only proper
response was one of discouragement or despair. We ought never to despise
what is small and weak if the hand of the Lord is in it (Matt. 12:20).

The exact response to the temptation to despise small things is given in
verse 6 of Zechariah chapter 4. Any obstacle in the way of the Lord, even
though it may be a mighty mountain, will be reduced to a plain. The Lord
Jesus Christ will build the church that He has founded. The pleasure of the
Lord shall prosper in His hand. God has not forgotten His people. The eyes
of the Lord run to and fro throughout the earth in order that He may show
Himself mighty on their behalf.

It is not wrong to speak of a day of small things, but there is a reproach
upon those who despise the day of small things. The despisers of Zechariah's
day were looking back to better days and asking 'what is the cause that the
former days were better than these?' (Eccl. 7:10) This is a forbidden
question, however, the Word tells us 'thou dost not enquire wisely
concerning this'. We may compare our own times with former times and
conclude that the former days were better than these, but we ask amiss when
we question the cause.

To ask 'what is the cause' is to question infinitely wise and holy
providence, to impugn the infinite, eternal wisdom of God in His ordering of
the times and season (Eccl. 3:11). He has appointed a time of revival and a
time of declension for His glory and the good of the Church. He is not
answerable to our foolish questioning of His ways (Rom. 11:34; Ps. 77:19).
To despise the day of small things is to resist His will and make ourselves
arbiters of His counsel.

This is our generation, no doubt a wicked and adulterous generation, but we
ought to ask how we like David are to serve our generation by the will of
God (Acts 13:36). We ought to ask what our duty is in such a day of small
things and whether our sinful negligence is contributing to the weakness of
the day. Does our perception of the smallness of the things around us send
us to fervent wrestling prayer or does it make the hands hang down and the
knees grow feeble (Heb 12:12)? If we have decided that God's sovereignty in
disposing things as they are has cancelled out our duty, then we have become
fatalists and have drifted away from the true apprehension of and obedience
to divine sovereignty.

It is wrong to despise the day of small things because the Lord is able to
take the small, weak and insignificant and to transform it for His use and
glory. 'Yet gleaning grapes shall be left in it, as the shaking of an olive
tree, two or three berries on the top of the uttermost bough, four or five
in the outmost fruitful branches thereof' (Is 17:6). In a day of small
things we are to hope in God and in His Word, waiting more earnestly and
patiently than those that wait for the morning. The Word of God remains our
rule to direct us how we are to understand the day in which we live and how
we are to conduct ourselves by still glorifying and enjoying the God of all

Monday, February 12, 2007

Roman Catholic Hypocrisy in Brazil

The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Paraíba has denounced a prosperity gospel church group as the "commercialisation of faith" after its members opened a 5,000-seat temple in one of the poorest and most drought-prone states in Brazil. The temple was built by the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God and contains television and radio studios as well as parking for 520 vehicles, was opened recently in João Pessoa.

The Archbishop of Paraíba, Aldo di Cillo Pagotto, told the national daily Folha de São Paulo on Tuesday it was "impossible to remain silent" as he saw so many former Catholics whose lack of guidance in a community of faith had left them vulnerable to "religious groups who captivate people by inducing them to show their faith by giving their money".

We have no interest in defending the prosperity gospel cults but the duplicity and hypocrisy of the Roman Catholic archbishop is quite astonishing. Rome has been building ornate and extortionate temples all over the world for centuries in countries afflicted by severe poverty. And it is quite breathtaking to hear a Roman priest warn anyone against "religious groups who captivate people by inducing them to show their faith by giving their money" while defending a 'Church' that has been selling indulgences and masses amongst other religious extortion rackets for hundreds of years. The key issue is that Rome is losing serious ground in Brazil and any means to address this, however hypocritical are easily adopted.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Mr James Renwick, Rebel

Scotland was a land of darkening shadows when James Renwick was born in 1662 but by the time he was executed just 26 years later the darkness was almost night. Renwick was one of the last of the Covenanter martyrs, but also to many "the dearest, kingliest and best, whom the scaffold had taken".

James Renwick was a young minister who loved the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ so much that he could well say "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning; let the tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy" (Psalm 137:5-6). It was a time when to be faithful to Christ meant that ministers were put out of their congregations, men and women could be imprisoned and lose all their property and possessions or even be banished from their homeland. More than this many many were put to death.

Early years

Renwick was born to poor but godly parents in Dumfriesshire, an area that was extremely faithful to the cause of Christ and who had severe fines imposed upon them as a result. All the other children born to this couple had died as infants but his mother continued to seek a son from the Lord. In gratitude they prayed that it might please the Lord to make their son a minister of the gospel. James had very early instincts to godliness, even at the age of two he showed a concern for secret prayer and later in reading the Scriptures for himself. His youth was no calm and silver sea, however, when he went to Edinburgh University as a teenager he went through a painful period of temptation to deny the existence of God. The fierce wind of scepticism and the high waves of unbelieving doubt threatened to drown his troubled soul. Once while he was walking by himself in open countryside he was so distressed by these attacks that he said "If these hills were all-devouring furnaces of brimstone, I should be content to go through them all if so be I could be assured there was a God". But the storm was changed into a calm when the Lord delivered him from all these fears and also gave him a deep assurance of his own salvation. When he finished his course he was unable to graduate because he had to swear an oath to the king that acknowledged that King Charles rather than the Lord Jesus Christ was Head of the Church.

Turning Point

On the 27th July 1681, James Renwick witnessed an event that would change his whole life dramatically. The godly, perscuted Covenanter preacher Donald Cargill was brought to the Mercat Cross in Edinburgh in order to be executed for his adherence to the cause of Christ. He addressed the crowd that gathered and though the soldiers tried to drown out his words by beating their drums, his words carried. "Now I am near to the possession of my crown, which shall be sure; for I bless the Lord that He hath brought me here, and makes me triumph over devils and men and sin: they shall wound me no more". Renwick's heart was fixed, like Elisha after the departure of Elijah he would take up the mantle that Donald Cargill had been forced to lay down. He was sent to Holland in order to be trained for the ministry, and at the age of twenty-one arrived back in Scotland.


The flocks to which Renwick returned were in his own words, "a poor, wasted, wounded, afflicted, bleeding, misrepresented, and reproached Remnant and Handful of suffering people". There were no church buildings open to Renwick for him to preach in. This was no great hindrance however, congregations assembled on the hillside under the open sky in order to year the young minister. Many travelled long distances to hear almost the only minister in Scotland who was determined not to compromise the truth of God's word and the glory of Christ's kingship. Within a year he had baptized over six hundred children. Earnestly he pleaded with men and women to come to Christ, forsaking their sins. "I have but one sermon ," he said, "Come, sinners, and look on Christ. I preach the Lamb that was slain; that draws hearts".


King David spoke of being hunted as a "partridge in the mountains" when he was pursued by Saul. James Renwick could say the same. The king's soldiers were always on the lookout for him. Once he was riding with three companions when they met a company of soldiers the only option was to turn around and flee for their lives. The other three were captured but Renwick made it to the top of a hill where he dismounted. Behind a cairn on the hill top there was a pit in which he could hide. Until sunset he remained there strengthened through prayer and the promise "He shall give his angels charge concerning thee". If we thought that this Renwick's life was an exciting, adventurous existence we would be mistaken. It required his health from him. "Excessive travel, night wanderings, unseasonable sleep and diet, and frequent preaching in all seasons of weather, especially in the night, have so debilitated me that I am often incapable for any work". But whatever he suffered was as nothing compared with the reward: "ten thousand deaths, ten thousand hells wuld seem nothing to a soul who gets a sight of Christ at the other side".

The government were determined, however, to arrest and put to death "Mr. James Renwick, rebel", as they called him. He was almost caught while in the town of Peebles, and when in Edinburgh shortly afterwards his voice was recognised as he engaged in prayer. The next morning troops broke in to sieze him, he managed to escape through several streets but was eventually caught and brought to the the captain of the City guard. The captain was astonished to find that the forceful preacher and shaker of Scotland was the frail young man before him, "is this boy that Mr. Renwick whom the nation has been so troubled with?", he exclaimed. A preaching ministry of only four years was now at an end.

The Bridegroom comes

Prison did nothing to weaken James Renwick. Even there we find him writing in his Last Speech and Testimony to exhort all "to make sure your personal reconciliation with God in Christ: for I fear many of you have that yet to do; and when ye come where I am, to look pale death in the face, ye will not be a little shaken and terrified, if ye have not laid hold on eternal life". Renwick approached death with joy. "Welcome scaffold, for precious Christ" he said. When the drum began to beat out the first warning for his execution, he leapt up with these words "Let us be glad and rejoice for the marriage of the Lamb is come". At the scaffold he was able to testify to Christ as "the Prince of the Kings of the Earth, who alone must bear the glory of ruling his own kingdom - the Church". He sang Psalm 103 read Revelation chapter 19 and prayed aloud. Addressing his God he said, "By and by, I shall be above those clouds; then I shall enjoy Thee and glorify Thee without intermission for ever".

Thursday, February 01, 2007

the psalms: "an inexhaustible variety of the noblest matter"

Commentary On The Psalms, George Horne, (reprinted by Old Paths Publications, $18.00, available from Reformation Heritage Books, Grand Rapids USA, www.heritagebooks.org)
Horne's Commentary on the Psalms is a devotional classic. Spurgeon wrote: "He is among the best of our English writers on this part of Scripture and certainly one of the most popular." It is a commentary intended to be of devotional value to every Christian not a learned and technical Horne believes that the Psalms are "an epitome of the Bible, adapted to the purposes of devotion". The Psalms contain that which is found elsewhere in Scripture in terms of doctrine, history, duty and prophecy but express them in the spirit of devotion. Horne's commentary explains the Psalms in "their literal or historical sense, as they relate to King David, and the people of Israel" but also spiritually in "their application to the Messiah, to the Church, and to individuals as members thereof." In his own refreshingly meditative approach, Horne finds Christ in most of the Psalms. Not limiting himself to those cited in the New Testament alone, he follows the principles underlying the apostolic interpretation of the Psalms. His approach follows from the best insights of Chrysostom and Augustine on this portion of Scripture.

Many in our own day do not recognise the sufficiency and entire relevance of the Psalms. Nothing could be better suited for the purposes of devotion. Horne notes that the "Psalms when thus applied, have advantages, which no fresh compositions, however finely executed, can possibly have...they point out the connexion between the old and new dispensations, thereby teaching us to admire and adore the wisdom of God displayed in both, and furnishing us while we read or sing them, an inexhaustible variety of the noblest matter that can engage the contemplations of man." This is a commentary designed to help the individual Christian to sing with the spirit and the understanding.

Horne (1730-1792), was a noted evangelical preacher who was Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University, Dean of Canterbury, and Bishop of Norwich. While his Anglican allegiance appears in various interpretations and expressions it is not over intrusive in the commentary which he published commentary in 1771. He comments on the pleasure that he had in meditating on the Book of Psalms in putting together the Commentary. "Happier hours than those which have been spent on these meditations on the Songs of Sion, he never expects to see in this world". It was written for those "who will exercise their faculties in discerning and contemplating the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, and who are going on to perfection: to increase their faith, and inflame their charity: to delight them in prosperity, to comfort them in adversity, to edify them at all times". And truly if we use and apply the Psalms aright they will be blessed to us in this way.