Over at the Sigma Frame blog, Jack has boosted the request that bloggers write about redemption.
I concluded the real challenge in understanding redemption is not in understanding what the scriptures say about it (because Christians have heard or read it before), but in knowing what it looks like IRL and how to make choices that lead one in that direction. [..] We would really appreciate [any] bloggers to join in this endeavor by writing blog posts geared towards the topic of Redemptive Headship and Masculinity.
I’m not sure I can contribute much to this discussion. I don’t know how to redeem involuntary celibacy, broken relationships, and broken marriages. I’m certainly no expert on masculinity. I don’t even think headship means authority! So take this as you will, for better or worse.
When considering redemption, it is easy and obvious to consider Jesus. But I start with King David. Of course David wasn’t always King. He began life as the youngest son of eight:
Now David was the son of an Ephrathite named Jesse, who was from Bethlehem in Judah. Jesse had eight sons, and in Saul’s time he was very old. Jesse’s three oldest sons had followed Saul to the war [..] but David went back and forth from Saul to tend his father’s sheep at Bethlehem.
David was the family’s errand boy, delivering supplies to his brothers on the front line doing the real work and tending the family’s sheep when at home. In 1 Samuel 16, Samuel went to find the next king, so God took him to the house of David’s father Jesse, who presented all the kids… except David.
Then Jesse called Abinadab and had him pass in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, “The Lord has not chosen this one either.” Jesse then had Shammah pass by, but Samuel said, “Nor has the Lord chosen this one.”Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The Lord has not chosen these.”So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?” “There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.” Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.”
David was rejected by men, but not by God, who saw what was on the inside. David would indeed become King. He would have seven wives and a lovely palace. He was blessed by God. By all indications, he was the peak of masculinity.
King David had been king for many years. By this point, he would just send his commander out with the fighting men, while he stayed home.
In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem.
What happened next is well known.
One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.” Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her.
God has a design for sex and marriage. It doesn’t include having sex with another man’s wife.
The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, “I am pregnant.”
It was David’s child. It could be no other, as she hadn’t had sex since her last menstrual flows, and her husband was gone anyway on account of the war. David called Uriah back from the war, and tried to get him to sleep with his wife, but he wouldn’t do it. So David had Uriah murdered:
In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. In it he wrote, “Put Uriah out in front where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so he will be struck down and die.”
At this point we should review God’s thoughts on murder.
And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man.
God’s due punishment for murder is death. What about adultery? According to Leviticus 20, it is also death. David was doubly condemned.
When David was confronted by the prophet Nathan, David’s sole response was to say:
I have sinned against the Lord.
He meant it with all his heart. So Nathan replied:
The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die.
The Lord showed mercy, mercy undeserving by far. I’m struck by this. What did David do to deserve to be let off so lightly? Most of us would say the punishment didn’t fit the crime. It certainly wasn’t fair. All David did was genuinely repent.
But, for David, the blood price still had to be paid.
Because by doing this you have shown utter contempt for the Lord, the son born to you will die.
Such is the law of God. Such was the nature of redemption: blood for blood, but mercy to be had.
God, ever merciful, ever loving, was not content with this. So he sent Jesus to fix redemption itself. Jesus’ death on the cross became the final blood sacrifice. No longer does a blood price have to be paid for sin. When we cry out “I have sinned against the Lord”, the price has already been paid.
I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.
This is true grace. This is true redemption. Redemption itself has been redeemed. But it is still not fair:
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
How can all that came before simply be wiped out as if it never happened? That’s not fair.
It’s Not Fair!
Why do I keep mentioning fairness?
Many men in the manosphere are disillusioned. Some are involuntarily celibate, and couldn’t get a date to save their life. Others have been divorced by their ex-wives and run through the ringer that is the family court system. Still others are married to ungodly wives. Some are trying to maintain sexual purity, even as they watch others ‘have all the fun’. They look at men with successful marriages and wonder why it couldn’t have been them. For many, this sends them into swirls of bitterness.
It’s not fair.
Recently, I’ve written a lot about biblical headship and sanctification in marriage. In doing so, one theme has come up time and again: sacrifice. When a wife submits to her husband—who may be cruel—she is sacrificing, and there isn’t anything fair about it. When a husband loves her wife—who may be cruel—he is sacrificing and there isn’t anything fair about that either. Sanctifying your spouse requires giving up yourself. David deserved death, but instead he got God’s redemptive grace and a personal sacrifice. Redemption isn’t fair. It never was, it never will be. Redeeming redemption required Jesus’ sacrifice, and there definitely isn’t anything fair about that.
The hardest step in the path to redemption is accepting unfairness as it is, even if—or especially if—you cannot change it. If you cannot do that, you cannot be redeemed and neither can your relationships. This means accepting suffering without bitterness and it means accepting forgiveness without guilt. No recipient of God’s favor deserves it, just as no one who suffers for the name of Christ deserves it. We must all set aside our grievances, just as God sets aside his. But if we cannot do so…
Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.
…then redemption becomes very difficult. It is a hard lesson…
If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. [..] But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
…that in order to achieve something, we have to make our wants and desires of no account, subservient to God’s will. That will always be unfair. But it will be good. And that’s a start.