MEMBERS: Proverbs: Where Is Jesus? (Transcript)

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Jon Moffitt:

There is so much pressure in Law put on people to fulfill some of these Proverbs. For instance, the one with 22:6 about your children.

Justin Perdue:

The parenting stuff is just bondage.

Jon Moffitt:

Or Proverbs 31, which we never even got to. I just wish it was the Proverbs 31 man and the poor women would have just been left alone because there are podcasts, books, blogs, the Proverbs 31 conference. And these poor women are given this standard of living. Jesus fulfilled every pressure you are feeling right now. And no man in his right mind and should ever expect that from a woman. If he does, you have every right to correct him. I was going to say, pick up a baseball bat and hit him, but that’s probably not helpful.

Justin Perdue:

Proverbs 31 for women is kind of like Ephesians 5 for husbands where they both are just absurdly applied. If Proverbs 31 is like, “Be this woman,” and then Ephesians 5 is basically like, “Husbands, be Jesus for your wife. Sanctify her. And your kids too, by the way.” Anyway, that’s another conversation for another podcast.

Jon Moffitt:

Here’s a question, Justin: someone might say, “Is it wrong for a woman to aspire to be the Proverbs 31 woman?”

Justin Perdue:

Of course not.

Jon Moffitt:

I would say, why are you trying to aspire to do that? And if it is, “I love my husband and I love my kids and I just really want to give them grace and mercy and kindness,” that’s fine. But if you’re doing it because you think you’re earning favor before God or earning anything before God, you’ll never be enough for God to give you approval cause He’s not going to give you approval in that way.

Justin Perdue:

I agree with that. Is it okay for a woman to aspire to these things? Yes, but with these caveats: Are you trusting Christ for your righteousness and standing before God completely? If the answer is yes, okay, proceed. You should understand that these things are given to you so you can look and say, “Those things are good and I want to pursue them from a position of rest and safety and peace.” If you understand that, then let’s proceed. I’m not saying chase after this so that you can earn something in the eyes of God. Or chase after this so your marriage is just going to be perfect all the time if you’re this kind of woman. Because that’s not true. You’re a sinner still and you’re married to one, and so there are going to be problems that arise all the time.

We need to be careful about how we talk about it. Then we can uphold it as the good thing that it is. Here are some things that describe a wise person: a woman who is seeking to love her husband and love her family. There are some principles here that we can certainly glean but to place that upon people as like the grid is crazy town. I don’t want to digress too far and get us way off track here, but Proverbs 31 is interesting in terms of the woman described there. When we think about some of the conversations that are had in evangelicalism, about women and what they should be doing or shouldn’t be doing, like headship and management of the household and all these things. I see a pretty strong woman who is managing a household in Proverbs 31 and that’s not often discussed.

I’m going to say things that are going to get me in trouble, but hyper headship and pietistic dudes in the church will take Proverbs 31 and say all kinds of absurd things from it while ignoring the fact that this woman is strong, assertive, make decisions, very entrepreneurial, and resourceful. She is what we would call today a strong woman, and so many guys just sort of poopoo that idea. They talk out of both sides of their mouths and I don’t want to rant about that for a long time.

But you were talking about selective application.

Jon Moffitt:

There’s a chapter in Chad Bird’s book Upside-Down Spirituality called “Love Will Not Sustain Your Marriage: The Failure to Find Our Soulmate”. What is really helpful in this book is that Chad dismantles this theory that you have to find the right person and you fall in love, then love will be what sustains it. As I just think about the Proverbs 31 woman, there’s a phrase that Chad uses in this book – I’m going to pull it up because I found it to be extremely helpful if you put the pressure of your spouse being the perfect person: they complete me, they fulfill me, they make me feel loved, they make me feel happy. He says, “To expect all that from another person is not to ask them to be a spouse. It’s demanding they be a god.” And I was like, “Yes, absolutely.” To look at Proverbs 31 and say, “I’m expecting this of you without grace and mercy.” Ecclesiastes comes in and says, “Okay, we are messy, we are dirty, we are frail, we are broken.” Life is a massive pancake batter splatter; it’s everywhere. That’s what life is. It’s not the swimsuit model. It is the mom that has had been puked on and the dad who has been underneath the car and you come together and you say, “I love you because of what Christ has done for me and the joy I get of caring for you.” That’s real love. But yet the whole market and Disney dignifies it into saying, “No, real Christianity and real love looks like this.”

Justin Perdue:

Just to circle back briefly before we move on to another piece of Proverbs: for men to read Proverbs 31 and measure their wives up to that standard without grace would be just like women measuring their husbands against the standard of Christ with no mercy and grace. Again, in Ephesians 5, husbands are told to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. There’s also the language of what Jesus did for the church, sanctifying her, washing her in the water of the word and all that we say stupid things about. If you were to take those verses and rip them out of context than what Paul is exhorting the church to, then you would say all kinds of things in place, all kinds of requirements on husbands that are absolutely flat out impossible.

We need to be thoughtful in how we apply things. This goes back to redemptive-historical framework realities, covenantal framework realities, Law-gospel distinction realities, and just understanding the context of the book itself whether it’s Proverbs or Ephesians. Because Paul is speaking into a corporate reality in the church, talking about mutually submitting to one another in love and reverence for Christ. Then he gives examples of certain relationships: husbands and wives, parents and children, slaves and masters. And we do ridiculous things with those verses. We rip them out selectively, interpret them in a vacuum, and start extrapolating them out to mean 19 different things. Hardly any of those things that we think they mean are accurate.

Jon Moffitt:

I did mention Song of Solomon so I thought we’ll probably end up doing a podcast on that sometime. I’d like to spend the rest of our time talking about this and how the Song of Solomon has been butchered so badly for so many years.

Justin Perdue:

You and I have never talked about Song of Solomon until right now.

Jon Moffitt:

This will be an interesting conversation because we are having a live on-air conversation where we might not agree, which I’d be shocked if we don’t. Have you heard the theory of how Song of Solomon is a picture of Christ and the church?

Justin Perdue:

I have.

Jon Moffitt:

And is that your theory?

Justin Perdue:

I want to hear what you think first.

Jon Moffitt:

I do not think that is what that book is about. So now what do you think?

Justin Perdue:

My answer is maybe not as hard of a no as yours. My answer is going to be that I think it is primarily no. So I think it is primarily about the husband and wife and all of the things depicted. I think in a figurative, metaphorical sense and understanding that we are the bride of Christ, I don’t think it’s absurd that that application is made though. I think it’s secondary at best. That’s how I would frame it.

Jon Moffitt:

Maybe tertiary. I don’t know. When I read, “Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! For your love is better than wine;” I’m just like…

Justin Perdue:

I agree that it’s absurd. Do I think that the primary application or the primary understanding of that text is this is Christ and the church? No.

Jon Moffitt:

So what’s the primary purpose of the text in a redemptive-historical understanding?

Justin Perdue:

From a redemptive-historical perspective, where I get the idea that it’s not absurd that we would apply this ultimately to Christ who is, who is the Redeemer and the King of his people, is when you see every good thing depicted in the King and in that sense, the bridegroom in Song of Solomon. I do think it points to Christ in that regard. But then you clearly have a man and a woman described in a romantic marital relationship as well. But I’m interested to hear what you think, Jon. How would you answer that question from a redemptive-historical perspective?

Jon Moffitt:

I think there are a lot of things in Scripture that are helpful but aren’t directly. For instance, I still think Proverbs is not directly connected. When you look at the story of redemption and how it’s unfolding, there are parts that are helpful to Israel; they’re there to govern Israel and to impart wisdom or instruction but they’re not necessarily paramount. In other words, you don’t hold this either. I don’t believe Jesus is in every verse of the Bible but I believe every verse of the Bible is about Jesus.

Justin Perdue:

We interpret every text in light of Christ.

Jon Moffitt:

My point is you cannot read a verse of the Bible and not connect it to Christ. Correct. But it’s not connected to Christ in the way in which we think it’s connected to Christ. For instance, if you were to look at the story of my life. In the story of my life, I lived in multiple states, I’ve been to multiple countries, I’ve been married, and I have four kids. You could look at the tenor of my life based upon all of these events that had happened. Now, there are certain things that have absolutely shaped my life and there are certain things that just became a part of my life. When you look at Scripture, this is the hard part and this is why people sometimes balk at it, when we say Jesus is in every verse of the Bible, they’re like, “How is Jesus a part of Song of Solomon 1 and 2?” They balk at the idea that he’s there. The same thing about Proverbs. There are certain sections of the Old Testament that are just pure narrative. This is how I think the Song of Solomon is a part of Scripture, in a part of the narrative, in that the history of Israel has a horrible history of sexuality – just dirty, vile, and disgusting. Time and time again, God is mad at them. At times He even kills some of them for their debauchery; the golden calf scenario is pretty bad. Then there are multiple times that they just fall into really bad sexual sin. Song of Solomon is written in such a way where there is purity and it is glorious to people who are appropriately using sex in an appropriate manner and reflecting the intimacy of love and care and what romance could and should look like. I think in its primary purpose, it’s almost setting straight what the world has corrupted for many, many years.

Justin Perdue:

In that regard, if you were going to press me on the primary use of the Song of Solomon, I agree that it is a depiction of a man and a woman with proper uses of their sexuality in a God-honoring, God’s design for male-female relationship, within the covenant of marriage. I think you’re exactly right. It’s a corrective to what Israel has been doing and has been corrupting. In that regard you could look at it as a figurative, anecdotal in one sense, presentation of Law in terms of here is how marriage should look. Here is how these things should go: compare this to how you have corrupted it and stand ashamed and condemned in one sense. I would be thinking first use of the Law in that regard. Then also upholding it as a kind of second and third use picture of things that we can look to and say, “Yes, this is a good guide for me as I consider my life as a husband.” This is a good guide for the ladies in our midst who are married to think about their lives as wives, and for those who aren’t married even to consider how God has set these things up. And then in a secondary sense, we can make some comments as I alluded to earlier about – Christ in his fulfillment of all things and how we will be in as described in Revelation. We will be the bride of Christ forever. So I do think that there is some sort of consummated fulfillment of this. Just like we would talk about other kinds of depictions in Scripture or prophecies, even where the immediate meaning is there and we should take that and use that well, and then oftentimes there is an ultimate fulfillment behind it too. And that that’s I think how I understand Song of Solomon in a nutshell.

Jon Moffitt:

They struggle with Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, and Proverbs when it comes to a redemptive historic understanding. Because it’s easy to see redemptive historic when we start without him and go through the story of how God is going to redeem His people from Genesis all the way until you get to Matthew; each event is a part of that story until you get to certain sections where you hit the brakes and say, “Wait a minute. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do with those.”

Justin Perdue:

I agree. I think this is where uses of the Law and all these kinds of things come into our hermeneutics in terms of how we understand the Bible, which I described the uses of the Law with Song of Solomon a minute ago. I do think this is where I would press back – not so much against you, Jon because I think you and I pretty much agree – but against people who say there is no notion of Christ being the fulfillment of every good thing in terms of the husband in Song of Solomon. I would just press back against that and say I don’t know if that’s true, that there’s no foreshadowing of Jesus in this at all. I think there is some though I agree that you can’t, in the immediate context, just take every verse and apply it to Christ because that would be very irresponsible.

Jon Moffitt:

I completely agree. I think in total, the Song of Solomon can and should be applied as Christ in fulfillment. The problem is when someone says the affection between the two in Song of Solomon is the affection between Christ and the church. I would say, “I’m not going to call you a sinner. But in context, and even the greater context, I struggle with that.”

Justin Perdue:

It’s a sexualized presentation and it’s just not appropriate.

Jon Moffitt:

But I will say that if you and I tried to apply Song of Solomon to our own marriages, there are definitely some things in here that we could learn: how to be romantic, etc. But the point of it is that in the end, if I tried to apply Song of Solomon separate from the gospel and separate from mercy and kindness, I’m going to fail and I’m not going to find it.

Justin Perdue:

You’re going to fail in your application of it. Full stop. Which is why you need Christ in the gospel.

Jon Moffitt:

Just like the Law. The Law shows us God’s holiness and our unrighteousness, and I think the Song of Solomon can show us the purity of sexuality. Because unfortunately, our culture is pressing more and more. I’m not shocked, not upset, and not mad because unbelievers are going to act like unbelievers. But what I am disappointed in and sad about is that the Christian culture has been so trained to think like the world. This is when Paul says do not be like the world when it comes to sexuality. The way we think about sex is completely like the world: it is a self-centered, self-focused, self-gratification moment. I say go back and read Song of Solomon. There is absolutely enjoyment when it comes to sexuality. But Paul flips it on its head, Jesus flips it on its head, the Song of Solomon flips it on his head; that all of marriage, including intimacy, is about how we give mercy, grace, kindness, joy, and serve the one we’re getting married to.

Justin Perdue:

It’s about the joy and service of your spouse. The presentation of marriage and Song of Solomon in one sentence is like the positive exhortations in the Law where God tells us to do these things because they’re upright. That’s effectively what Song of Solomon is on the face of it. This is how it’s done. Like this is upright and pure and good. Then by comparison, when we consider our own corruption and how we have just hijacked sex and romantic relationships, we do see our own wickedness and the fact that I have failed these six ways from Sunday. That’s a primary application of it. And then being upheld as a model. I think we’ve circled the wagons a couple of times on that.

Jon Moffitt:

You have four kids, I have four kids. It is going to be an uphill battle to help them understand that sex is wonderful. It’s God-honoring, it’s God-given, and it’s God-glorifying. It’s not dirty, it’s not vile, but it can be. And it is when Satan gets a hold of it, just like anything. Let’s just talk about friendship. Friendship is wonderful and glorious but it can be damaging and horrible and vile and bitter. It doesn’t even have to be sexual – just friendships in general.

I have three teenagers so I’m really feeling the pressure now. I need my children, when they think of sexuality, to think of it from a biblical standpoint. The way my parents grew up, sex was always bad and negative unless you were married.

Justin Perdue:

The church fell off the other side of the horse on that.

Jon Moffitt:

There’s a side of it: how do we reclaim that which is pure and holy? Because guys have tried to do this and they either are too funny or they are too vulgar. And I’m like, “Listen, this is not a vulgar conversation. This is a private, precious conversation that we need to be serious about.”

Justin Perdue:

I think about Ed Young Jr. down in Texas where he and his wife are going to have sex on the church roof every night for a week because the church is trying to help people in their sex lives. Mark Driscoll wrote that pretty descriptive, and graphic at points, in terms of things going on in his marriage sexually – not saying it prescriptively, but descriptively. I don’t know if we need to be going here. So it is a battle for us to think about in light of Song of Solomon and wisdom literature in general. There are a lot in Proverbs about sexuality as well. I’m preaching Proverbs 5 this Sunday and it’s all about the adulterous man. And so we’re going to be considering sexuality; “Our Weakness, Sex, and the Gospel,” I think is the sermon title. How do we handle this? How do we talk honestly to our people without being crude, vulgar, or suggestive, but being helpful? Also, not to paint sex as though it is evil because it is not. It’s a real thing. We have to try to do as pastors, and just as Christians in the church, to help each other.

Jon Moffitt:

When I did premarital counseling, I had to tell people who I’ve been counseling, “Listen, you actually are in disobedience here. And the longer you participate in this relationship outside of marriage, you actually are missing out in the joy of what Christ has for you.” Because there is no joy in sin. And I know you think you’re enjoying yourself, but you’re actually not. Then they explain to you why. Tim Keller wrote a book called “Meaning of Marriage”, and they have a section in there on sexuality that I thought was really helpful. I’d recommend the book in general. It’s a really good book. It’s probably the only book I recommend for marriage counseling.

Justin Perdue:

I think that Paul Tripp’s “What Did You Expect?” is useful from a self-awareness perspective.

Jon Moffitt:

Especially when someone’s kind of blowing it up.

Justin Perdue:

The two books that I’ll have people read in premarital situations are Keller’s “Meaning of Marriage” and Tripp’s, “What Did You Expect?” Because it primes the pump for the conversations. Your marriage is going to be hard because you’re in it, and you need to be more mindful of your sin than the sin of your spouse – the kind of Law-judgment condemnation cycle that we all find ourselves in marriage. Tripp does a good job of pointing those things out.

Jon Moffitt:

This is been a great conversation. I hope at the end of this that you find rest and enjoyment; if you’re married, that you have some clarity on Song of Solomon, and you can go and read the Proverbs, enjoy them, and understand that Christ is your fulfillment and that there are some helpful wisdom in there. But don’t apply everything as if it’s law. I’ve wanted to say this in the regular podcast: when you said Solomon says to his son, “Obey my laws and you shall live,” well, he died. You always have to think of what he means by that. Let’s be smart here.

Justin Perdue:

A very brief word on that. I think one of two things can be meant there, and I lean towards this: Solomon in writing is inspired by God. He is writing as a proverbial father to a proverbial son. When he says, “Keep my commands and live,” I think he is pointing to the commands of God in those moments. And I think that’s the primary interpretation. Because obviously he cannot mean, “Do what I’m saying and it’s going to go well,” because you have to relativize what out of that to make any sense of it. I think that’s a Law-gospel distinction moment anyway.

Jon Moffitt:

Thank you for listening. Theocast is still in the process of raising funds. We are working very hard to improve bringing more material and more content. Justin already spoke this morning about two more books that we would like to work on and provide for you. The issue is, and I’m sure you understand, that we don’t have the time nor the capacity to produce this stuff though we want to produce the content. We need money to then have it edited, printed, and put out there. Your money that is supporting this membership is what keeps Theocast growing. It keeps it alive. And we are still trying to raise more money so that we can expand it and grow so more people can find rest in Christ.

Thank you for your ongoing support and we will see you soon.

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