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bible-wornThe three-year Lectionary that many Catholics and Protestants hear in public worship gives us a great variety of Holy Scripture.

Yet, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

My series Forbidden Bible Verses — ones the Lectionary editors and their clergy omit — examines the passages we do not hear in church. These missing verses are also Essential Bible Verses, ones we should study with care and attention. Often, we find that they carry difficult messages and warnings.

Today’s reading is from the English Standard Version Anglicised (ESVUK) with commentary by Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

1 Timothy 5:3-8

Honour widows who are truly widows. But if a widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show godliness to their own household and to make some return to their parents, for this is pleasing in the sight of God. She who is truly a widow, left all alone, has set her hope on God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day, but she who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives. Command these things as well, so that they may be without reproach. But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.


Last week’s post introduced Paul’s instructions on how to properly rebuke those in the congregation who were falling away from their Christian duties.

The Apostle then goes on to provide more detail, beginning with widows.

He tells Timothy to honour widows who truly are widows (verse 3).

Paul gives more specifics later on in the chapter, but he wants Timothy to know that not every woman who has lost her husband is worthy of the church’s charity. In other words, there are widows and there are widows. Much depends on their conduct.

John MacArthur explains the context here (emphases mine):

Paul, then, wants Timothy and the church at Ephesus and us to understand our responsibility to widows. He gives five principles … The first principle is this – verse 3 – “Honor widows who are real widows.” Honor widows who are real widows. Now let me just give you enough background to understand where Paul is coming from as he writes. Keep this in mind. From the beginning of our study of 1 Timothy, I have told you that I believe this epistle is a polemic; that is to say, it speaks against some problem.

And I believe this church was filled with problems of ungodliness, problems of false doctrine, not the least of which was mishandling the matter of care for widows. The church was as inept at that as it was at all the other things Paul deals with. So this is a corrective passage. We can conclude, then, that widows were not being properly honored. We can conclude that unqualified, older widows were being allowed to serve semi-officially for the church and their lives were really not clear and clean and pure. We can also conclude that younger widows were remarrying unbelievers.

Younger widows were breaking vows made to Christ. There were families that weren’t supporting their own widows. There were women who could have supported many widows, such as Dorcas did, but they weren’t doing that either. In other words, the whole area of biblical instruction to widows needed to be taught because of what needed to be corrected at Ephesus. It is a very, very basic ministry of the church to care for these women.

Principle number one, then, in verse 3, the obligation of the church to support widows; the obligation of the church to support widows.

MacArthur says that the status of ‘widow’ in classical Greek encompasses more than we understand it to today:

Now what do we mean by widows? To us, the word means a woman whose husband is dead. The Greek word includes that but is not limited to that. That’s a very important statement: The Greek word includes that but is not limited to that.

The word “widow” is chēra. It is a word that’s a feminine form of an adjective used as a noun. It is an adjective, it means bereft. It means robbed. It means having suffered loss. It carries the idea of being alone. It comes from chēras, and that’s what that means, bereft, robbed, having suffered loss, being left alone. The word, then, doesn’t speak about how a woman got into the situation, it just describes the situation. She is alone, she is bereft, she has suffered the loss of her husband. It doesn’t say how she lost the husband.

Usually, of course, we would think she lost the husband through death. There’s nothing in this word to indicate that it is limited to that. In fact, if you do any kind of study of the word and trace it through any classical Greek usages, you will find that the word means a woman who lost her husband in any fashion – death, divorce, desertion – anything. That can all be summed up in this word.

William Barclay, for example, feels it should include those who were polygamists in the Roman world, and when they came to Jesus Christ in faith, they may have given freedom to their wives that – other than their first wife, to leave in order that they might be monogamous, according to the teaching of the Word of God. And when they sent those women away, those women would fall under this same kind of word. They also would be chēra, bereft of their husband, even though their husband was still alive.

There’s no reason to indicate that this should exclude people whose husband left them in desertion or divorced them through a legal means. The word simply describes a woman who has lost her husband, whatever that might be in terms of cause.

MacArthur gives us a modern-day example of a widow without a family structure upon which to rely:

What happens, for example, when a woman is raised in a broken home? Maybe her mother’s been married a couple of times, she’s had a father and a stepfather, which is not atypical at all but somewhat common. She goes off into a career kind of orientation. Maybe she doesn’t get married until she’s 26, 27, 28, 29. By that time, she’s charted her own course. She marries somebody who has charted his own course. They get together. Something happens to him. She’s out there, she’s had sort of a career kind of background. She’s had a very messed-up family situation.

He dies. She’s left with a couple of little kids on her hands. She can’t plug back into an intimate family network because it’s long gone, if there ever was one, and the burden on the church is even greater.

You see, the price to pay for the disintegration of the family is really monumental. Those widowed women, those women who lose their husbands, need to be able (as Genesis 38 illustrates) to move back into the home of family one way or another, but so often that can’t happen or it won’t happen because of the disintegration of the family. The tragedy in the breakdown of the family is the loss of the support network. And it puts the burden even greater on the church.

MacArthur says that there were many widows in the classical sense of the word at the time Paul wrote to Timothy:

Now, I want you to know that this expands the accountability and the responsibility of the church immeasurably because what we’re talking about here is a responsibility to take care of all those women who have lost their husband, which is a very, very large company of women. Maybe as large now as at any time in the world’s history with divorce and desertion and all of those things such a common, everyday matter.

Furthermore, unlike today, it was not possible for women to work in gainful employment and there was no welfare state:

In those days, women could not find honorable employment easily. There were no secular institutions to care for them. And so they were in serious straits. They were very often reduced to poverty unless their husband had left something with them or their father had left an inheritance to them or perhaps they were under the care of a father’s family or a mother-in-law’s family, or friends or whatever, but many widows were left destitute.

And as I said, there was no honorable employment available to women because women were seen as being cared for within the context of the family and the home, not caring for themselves outside that context. The treatment of these women, then, was a watershed, was a test case for the love of Christ borne in the hearts of the Christian community. Their spiritual character, the demonstration of their devotion to Christ could be seen in how they cared for people who were desperately in need of that care. And I might add that this has been a part of the church’s life throughout all of its history.

MacArthur discusses the Greek word for ‘honour’:

It’s the verb timaō. It means to show respect, to show care, to give support, to treat graciously, and it encompasses the idea of meeting needs – whatever they are – financially, of course.

In fact, it is used of pricing something in Matthew 27:9, to put a value on something and then to care for that in light of its value, and certainly there’s nothing more valuable than one made by God, than a believing woman, and nothing more precious to the church than a believing woman desperately in need of the church’s care.

Matthew Henry’s commentary says that Paul is talking not only about charity but admitting women into the office of deaconess, in which they take instruction from a deacon:

Honour widows that are widows indeed. Honour them, that is, maintain them, admit them into office. There was in those times an office in the church in which widows were employed, and that was to tend the sick and the aged, to look to them by the direction of the deacons. We read of the care taken of widows immediately upon the first forming of the Christian church (Acts 6 1), where the Grecians thought their widows were neglected in the daily ministration and provision made for poor widows. The general rule is to honour widows that are widows indeed, to maintain them, to relieve them with respect and tenderness.

Paul gives specific instructions on widows becoming deaconesses later in the chapter.

Paul says that, if a widow has children or grandchildren, then they should show their godliness by making some return — financially — to their parents, because it is pleasing in the sight of God (verse 4).

MacArthur says that Paul is telling Timothy to be discerning in using church funds to aid widows:

So first of all, the church has an obligation to support widows. Second point, and we’ll just introduce this with one verse, the obligation of the church to evaluate those widows needing support. It’s not a question of everybody get in line, we’re just going to give it away, we have to evaluate. The church cannot indiscriminately take on everyone who applies for help. There has to be some criteria, and that comes in verses 4 through 8

I just want to introduce verse 4. I think it’s so interesting, so important. If any woman who is bereft of a husband, any widow, has children or grandchildren, ekgonos means descendants or grandchildren, not nephews. Now, many widows in the church have children and grandchildren. It is the responsibility of the children and the grandchildren to support that widow. That’s what he’s saying. It says “Let them” – that is, the children and grandchildren – “learn first to show their godliness in the family.” The word home, oikos, referring to family. You say you’re godly, then let’s see it in your family

And don’t tell me about your godliness – first put it on display in your family. First, show your godliness at home, in the house, before you make a speech about it anyplace else. I’ve thought to myself that one of the things we ought to do in a seminary application is to ask the mother to write a letter of reference. I don’t think we’ve ever done that but … as I think about it, that would be a great idea. What kind of son is this young man? And what are the evidences of godliness that you have seen in the home?

We might cut down our applications a bit with such a process, but it might be well worth it because that’s where godliness is proven, it’s proven in the home.

Of the family obligation to help a widow, Henry says:

This is called showing piety at home (v. 4), or showing piety towards their own families. Observe, The respect of children to their parents, with their care of them, is fitly called piety. This is requiting their parents. Children can never sufficiently requite their parents for the care they have taken of them, and the pains they have taken with them; but they must endeavour to do it. It is the indispensable duty of children, if their parents be in necessity, and they in ability to relieve them, to do it to the utmost of their power, for this is good and acceptable before God If any men or women do not maintain their own poor relations who belong to them, they do in effect deny the faith; for the design of Christ was to confirm the law of Moses, and particularly the law of the fifth commandment, which is, Honour thy father and mother; so that those deny the faith who disobey that law, much more if they provide not for their wives and children, who are parts of themselves; if they spend that upon their lusts which should maintain their families, they have denied the faith and are worse than infidels.

MacArthur points out that, in ancient Greek law, children were obliged to support their elders:

Reading from the Greek culture, it was Greek law from the time of Solon that sons and daughters were not only morally but legally bound to support their parents. Anyone who refused that duty lost his civil rights.

Aeschines, the Athenian orator, said in one of his speeches, “And whom did our lawgiver condemn to silence in the assembly of the people? And where does he make this clear? Let there be,” he says, “a scrutiny of public speakers in case there be any speaker in the assembly of the people who is a striker of his father or mother or who neglects to maintain them or to give them a home.” Demosthenes said, “I regard the man who neglects his parents as unbelieving in and hateful to the gods, as well as to men.” And Philo talked about the fact that even old birds take care of their parents because they taught them how to fly. Should humans do less than that? And we have a responsibility to care for our parents, particularly those widowed ones.

Paul distinguishes two types of widow: one who is all alone but continues her devotions to God (verse 5) and one who is self-indulgent and dead, even though she is alive (verse 6). Paul means the second type of widow is dead in sin, not dead to sin, which the first widow is.

MacArthur gives us the Greek for ‘all alone’ in verse 5:

The verb here “has been left alone” monoō. We get the word mono, which means single. It’s in the perfect tense and it means a continual condition or state or permanent position of being forsaken without resources.

He discusses the first type of widow, the one devoted to God:

Verse 5, “She trusts in God.” Now, the Greek text says elpizō, the verb, “She has fixed her hope on God.” She has fixed her hope on God. That’s also a perfect tense. She not only is in a continual condition of being without means but she is in a continual condition of presenting herself to God as her only hope. Her settled condition is one of desolation. Her settled attitude is one of hope in God.

What does that tell us? She’s a Christian. What kind of widows is the church responsible to support? Number one, those who have no children or grandchildren who are supporting them. Two, a widow who is a believer, a single woman having lost her husband who is a believer. If she’s never had a husband and is single, she is still the care of her father. That’s another issue. But this woman is the woman who has no one to care for her and she has fixed her hope on God. She trusts in the God who has promised to care for widows, the God who has entrusted Himself to her to be her support when she has no support.

This means she’s a Christian lady. Only – now get this – only to such women does the church have this special responsibility. We may choose to help non-Christian women; we must help Christian women. This is a mandate. We might choose to do good to all men, especially those of the household of faith. We are bound to serve the Christian woman who is destitute. She looks to God for the supply of her needs

So here is the kind of widow that is to be supported. We are to come to the aid of a woman who trusts in God, a believing woman, a godly woman. And her godliness is seen in the next phrase. “She continues in supplication and prayers night and day.” The fact that she had fixed her hope on God shows that she’s a Christian; the fact that she continues day and night in prayer and supplication shows that she’s a committed Christian, a godly woman – not just a saved woman but a godly woman.

Anna the prophetess was one such example of a godly widow:

Her name was Anna and she was there at the dedication of the baby Christ, the child Christ, when He was brought to the temple. “And there was one Anna,” Luke 2:36 says, “a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher, she was of great age and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity.” She would have been married very young, no doubt in her teens, she lived seven years with her husband and her husband died.

“And she had never departed from the temple but served God with fastings and prayers” – there it is – “night and day.” She had the privilege of being there when the Messiah Himself arrived and was dedicated in the privilege of going out and speaking of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Israel. Here was a woman who lost her husband and devoted herself to God. This is a woman worthy of support. If God wanted to give her a husband, that’s fine. If God wanted her to be remaining single, that’s fine.

Her heart was given to God. And yes, she poured out her petition, and yes, she poured out her supplication, but also with it her praise and her thanks and her adoration and her worship.

Now let’s look at the widow of verse 6.

Henry says:

But she is not a widow indeed that lives in pleasure (v. 6), or who lives licentiously. A jovial widow is not a widow indeed, not fit to be taken under the care of the church. She that lives in pleasure is dead while she lives, is no living member of the church, but as a carcase in it, or a mortified member. We may apply it more generally; those who live in pleasure are dead while they live, spiritually dead, dead in trespasses and sins; they are in the world to no purpose, buried alive as to the great ends of living.

MacArthur would agree with that assessment:

The Greek says the living for pleasure one living is dead. In other words, the one who goes out and lives for her own ease and all she wants is her own satisfaction and her own indulgence, she may be living physically but she is dead – what? – spiritually.

There are women like that. They have no family. They have to go out and support themselves, but they don’t trust God for that. They don’t hope in God for their guidance. They don’t depend on God. They have no heart of devotion to Him, no love for Him, no dependence on Him, no desire to obey Him, but rather they live for pleasure. Now that Greek term means to live sensually. Some have translated – it’s a very rare verb, spatalaō, it means to plunge into dissipation. It means to lead a life of wanton pleasure. The word “wanton” means with disregard for what is right. To lead a life of pleasure with no thought for what is right or what is wrong …

Now, it’s likely because of the context here that such women existed in that church, that when their husband was around, they were active in the church. When the husband died or when the husband disappeared, they split and went into that kind of lifestyle. Whatever their past involvement in the church, they forsook it. They were the rocky soil where the plant grew for a little while and then it died. They were the weedy ground where it grew for a little while and then was choked out by the love of lustful desire and the pleasures of the world. For that woman, the church needs to provide nothing. She needs to be turned over to the consequence of her own choices.

And so I do not believe the church is under obligation according to the Word of God to be running around helping ungodly women continue to live their ungodly life.

Paul tells Timothy to command these things so that they may be without reproach (verse 7).

MacArthur explains the verse:

What are these things? Everything he said since verse 3. You command this to your people, Timothy, that they might be without blame, whether they are families who ought to support widows or whether they are widows who ought to live godly lives. He’s pulling everybody in. Everybody involved should be above reproach. The church should be above reproach. The church should be a model of virtue in this area, leaving no legitimate fault to be exploited by the critics.

… the reputation of the church is at stake, and if the church is to be blameless, then you better be commanding these things all the time. You tell your people they’re responsible for caring for widows, widows who are widows indeed, that is without support and who are godly and who walk with the Lord, have manifested their dependence and hope in Him through a life of prayer. If the church is careful and makes these distinctions and supports these women, it will be above criticism, it will gain a marvelous and wonderful reputation. 

Paul returns to the obligation for a household to care for its widows, saying that anyone who does not do so is denying the faith and no better than an unbeliever (verse 8).

MacArthur says:

That’s one of the strongest statements in the whole Bible. You say, “I didn’t think a Christian could be worse than a non-Christian.” Yeah, you can. In terms of the expression here, you are worse than an unbeliever if you don’t take care of your own.

Now, what is he saying here? There’s no break in thought. The term “but” keeps the same flow going, the break comes in verse 9 … he states in verse 8 negatively what he said in verse 4 positively. In verse 4 he said, first of all, children take care of your parents. Now in verse 8, he says if you don’t, you’re worse than an unbeliever. But he goes beyond parents here, and he gives us more criteria to evaluate our responsibility.

The fact that he said it in verse 4 in a positive way and now says it in verse 8 in a negative way leads me to believe that there were a lot of violations of this in Ephesus, and the level of Paul’s exasperation was rising and rising because so many people were violating the biblical ethic toward women in need. So he says, “If anyone doesn’t provide for his house” – and it’s a first-class condition and that means it states a fact so it could be translated, “When any of you doesn’t provide for your family” or “Since some of you are not providing for your family.”

It’s a very simple statement of fact. If you don’t provide, and that is pronoeō, to think before, to plan before, to care for someone, to take thought to help, if you’re not planning into your life the care of your own – your own what? – your own widows.

Now, what does he mean, your own widows? That’s very vague and it is purposely vague because it refers to anybody networked with you. In your family? Not specifically because that comes next, but in your circle of relationships, maybe your relatives, maybe your friends, maybe your neighbors, maybe your acquaintances, anybody networked in life through you, whether in your house or another house, it’s purposely vague. And again I say it isn’t the question of the organized church doing it, it’s the question of a believer doing it.

MacArthur says that the onus can fall upon us as individual churchgoers to support godly widows if we see their need before our church does:

many people will come to me, and they will say the church ought to help this lady, she needs $200. Why can’t the church help her? Well, we want to do everything we can, but if you say that to me I’m liable to say back to you, “Why can’t you help her?” And if you say to me, “I can’t help her because I don’t have anything, either,” then we’ll help both of you gladly. But don’t come and expect the church to do what you won’t do. That’s not the idea. Where do you – who do you think the church is? If you have a burden for someone, then the responsibility lies with you to do what you can to see that that burden is alleviated.

So first of all, if you don’t provide for your own, that is the widows that are in your network, the bereft women that you know of, and especially of those of his own family. So we know the first phrase is beyond family, especially of your own family. He says if you don’t help the ones in your network and especially in your own family, your own parents or grandparents or your own aunt or your own sister or whatever, someone close to you, if you don’t help those along with everyone networked who in any sense belongs to you as a friend or an acquaintance, you are guilty of two things.

Look at the first one, you’ve denied the faith. Now, he doesn’t mean you personally have lost your personal faith in God. He doesn’t mean that. He’s not judging your soul. What he means is you deny the biblical principle of compassionate love that is the very center of the Christian faith. God so loved the world that He – what? – gave. And that’s the heart of the Christian faith. The love of Christ is shed abroad in our hearts, Romans 5:5. By this shall all men know that you’re my disciples, you have love one for another …

So first you’ve denied the faith, and if you’ve denied the faith, secondly, you’re worse than an unbeliever. In practice, you’ve denied the faith. In practice, you look worse than an unbeliever. Why? Because most unbelievers take care of their own. I mean, most pagans know that. And most unbelievers have no idea of the obligation of love that God has given, they just do it naturally.

And most unbelievers have no real model to follow since they don’t know Christ. And most unbelievers – obviously, all unbelievers don’t have the power to love that we have. So we have the mandate, we have the model, and we have the power, and if we don’t come up to the level of an unbeliever in caring for someone in need, then we’re worse than they are. That’s the point. Even pagans revere their ancestors and worship their elders. And the Christian who falls below that basic standard of loving provision is more to be blamed than anybody is to be blamed – blamed because of what he knows, the command he’s under, and the love he possesses.

I can attest to an example of anonymous giving at my church just a few months ago. Someone put £200 in an envelope which had a congregant’s name on it and gave it to one of our churchwardens. The churchwarden made sure that the person received the cash.

Our church has turned into an amazing place in the past couple of years. But I digress.

I would like to end with observations that John MacArthur has on feminism. In parliamentary debates here in the UK, I hear many Labour MPs, particularly women, lament the poverty levels in single-parent homes. Those Labour MPs are also very much pro-abortion.

MacArthur says the problem will only grow worse, and he delivered today’s sermons in 1986. He was speaking of the US here, but similar things are happening in Britain:

Seventy percent of today’s women in the labor force work out of economic necessity. More often than not, they are single, widowed, or divorced. And more often than not, they are poor. Seventy-seven percent of this nation’s poverty is borne by women and their children. The number of poor families headed by men has declined over the last 15 years by more than 25 percent.

Meanwhile, the number of women who headed families at the poverty level or lower has increased nearly 40 percent. Thus, today, one in three families headed by women is poor, compared with one in ten headed by men, and one in nineteen with two parents.

The point of all of this is to let you know that with women’s liberation has come female poverty. When you have the liberation of woman alongside the liberation of everybody from marriage commitment, you have women being thrown out of marriages and left to fend for themselves everywhere. According to the 13th annual report of the President’s National Advisory Council on Economic Opportunity, I’m quoting: “If the proportion of the poor among female householder families continues at the speed that it’s going now, the poverty population will be composed solely of women and their children before the year 2000.”

Women are being dispossessed. They are being left alone. Therefore, they don’t want children. The only way to deal with unwanted children in a society where they’re reaching out for every relationship they can find is to abort those children. And the Centers for Disease Control tell us now that abortion has reached the place where it is the sixth leading killer among maternal diseases. And according to the May ’85 issue of OB/GYN, obstetrics and gynecological journal, they estimate that 50 percent of the deaths related to abortion are not reported, so it’s double whatever the statistics indicate.

Women are victims of abortion in incredible ways. Not only death, pelvic abscess, perforation of the uterus and other internal organs, medical complications in abortion include sterility in as many as 25 percent of all women having abortions. Hemorrhaging occurs in ten percent of all cases, requiring transfusions. Viral hepatitis, cervical laceration, cardiorespiratory arrest, acute kidney failure, amniotic fluid embolus, and it goes on and on like that.

The result of this is medical care for men has gone up 12 percent in the last few years. Medical care for women has gone up nearly 30 percent. So what we have now are a rising population of dispossessed women who have to run their own life and their own family, earn their own living, take care of their own medical needs, and in the process of doing that, pay more money than men do for medical care because of the problem of abortion. Such is the cost of feminism: the loss of health, the loss of financial stability, the loss of care.

Since 1960, the number of women in the work force has doubled. Forty-five percent of the entire labor force of the United States is now female, and they still earn an average of $10,000 a year less than men, and get this: The average four-year-college-graduate female in the working place earns the same amount or less as a male high school dropout. Now, I’m not saying that’s right, I’m just saying that’s fact. What they have worked to get, they haven’t gotten, and what they didn’t expect to get, they got.

Demanding equality has backfired. Employees won’t pay women as much because of daycare center costs, because of maternity leave, because of sick-child absences, and 45 percent of the women in the work force are single, divorced, separated, or widowed, and they’re the only person to care for themselves and their children.

And women’s liberation and women’s equality and everybody saying, “Take care of yourself, baby” has backfired. You add to that casual, recreational sex and illegitimate children and abortion, you add no-fault divorces, which leaves them with no right to alimony, and you have the feminization of poverty. And women have become the victims of the second biggest con game in history. The first was when the serpent persuaded Eve she needed to upgrade her life and be equal to God. The second is when the serpent deceived woman into thinking she needed to upgrade her life and be equal to man. Women will never be equal to men, nor will men be equal to women, they’re just different.

According to Lenore Weitzman, in her book The Divorce Revolution: The Unexpected Social and Economic Consequences for Women and Children in America, she writes, “On the average, divorced women and the minor children in their households experience a 73 percent decline in their standard of living in the first year after divorce.” That’s devastating. Seventy-three percent decline. The former husbands, in the first year after divorce, experience a 42 percent rise in the standard of living. He’s unloaded all his baggage. And now – in 1940, one out of every six marriages ended in divorce. Fifty years later, half of all marriages end in divorce.

[The author George] Grant closes this chapter on this issue in his book by saying, “Poverty in America has taken on an increasingly feminine face. More and more women than ever are falling through the gaps in society’s safety net. Much of the cause for this abominable situation must be laid at the door of the very movements that sought to liberate women, the abortion movement, the careerist movement, and the no-fault divorce movement. Through them, the structures once built into our cultural system designed to protect women have been systematically dismantled. Dire poverty and even homelessness have become inevitable.”

And then he says this: “The solution to the feminization of poverty and the feminization of homelessness thus does not depend upon the advocacy of feminism. Indeed, it cannot. The solution lies with the church. Care for women caught in the clutches of poverty and homelessness, abandonment, widowhood, and distress is always a central sign of devotion to God because God cares so much.”

By God’s design, women are always to be cared for. Whoever said, “Baby, you’re on your own” defied the purpose and plan of God. And what I’m saying in all of this is what we’re looking at, people, is a continual explosion of dispossessed, homeless, poor, alone, desolate, needy, non-supported women. And the burden for all of that is going to come right to the foot of the church initially because if we are the representation of God in the world, then we need to represent the compassion of God toward those people, and He cares, and we have to care as well.

You see, whenever you buy into Satan’s lies and deceptions, you never get what you think you’re promised. All you get is tragedy. So Paul, writing to Timothy and for us as well, sets in order the responsibility of the church for the care of dispossessed women who are in need.

Paul has more specific instructions for Timothy on the treatment of widows. More on that next week.

Next time — 1 Timothy 5:9-16


Having devoted most of the pandemic years to reading about coronavirus and the politics surrounding it, I fell behind in my usual perusal of periodicals.

This explains why the article about Melania Trump that I reference below comes from the November 2020 issue of Tatler, the UK’s oldest society publication.

‘What’s her deal?’ by Ben Judah, a British author and journalist with a deep knowledge of world affairs, runs from pages 90 through 97. Mrs Trump also willingly answered questions via email.

It also includes modelling photos of a teenage and twenty-something Melania, including a dramatic Warholesque ad for Camel cigarettes from 1997 (page 94). The colourful advert was painted on the sides of two buildings at the corner of 6th Avenue and 42nd Street. On one building is painted the brand name in its original font and on the other is Melania sitting against a dark background, holding a lit Camel in one hand and a martini in the other. At eight and a half storeys high, it was huge — or should I say ‘yuge’? Above her sultry image are the words: ‘WORTH SMOKING FOR’.

One thing that has puzzled me about the former first lady are her eyes, the windows into the soul. They were not always the narrow ones we know from her time with Donald Trump. In fact, in her early years, including in the Camel advert, they were very much open and beautiful. They were her best asset. I wonder if she had ‘work done’, as it were. She should have left them alone.

Summaries and quotes from Ben Judah’s article follow, emphases mine.

Early years

By all accounts, Melanija Knavs spent a happy childhood with her parents and sister Ines in Sevnica, Yugoslavia, before it became part of Slovenia.

Page 92 has a photo of Melanija and Ines at a birthday party with seven other children. The kitchen table has a lovely damask tablecloth in a chequerboard weave and an elaborate two-layer cake with candles, rather surprising for the Communist era. Someone had Party connections.

We learn that:

Melania’s parents stood out in the small railway town of Sevnica, where she was brought up. ‘I grew up with a beautiful family and had a wonderful childhood’, Melania says. ‘My mother and father taught us the importance of education, hard work and family,’ Her father, Viktor (who bears a striking resemblance to Donald Trump), was a car mechanic and chauffeur at a time when such small-time entrepreneurs were treated with scorn. Her mother, Amalija, worked as a pattern-maker at the Jutranjka clothes factory and had a passion for design; friends would call her ‘Jackie Kennedy’ because she wore heels on the production line. She spent hours making clothes for Melania and her older sister, Ines, ensuring they were always immaculately turned out. Melania says it was while she was growing up that she first heard of this ‘amazing place called America’.

Her childhood friend Petra Sedej participated in Ben Judah’s article:

Petra Sedej now works in marketing for the Slovenian traffic agency — the kind of destiny that was more likely for Melania than the one she ended up securing. Back then, Sedej was one of the future First Lady’s closest friends; they’d gone to school together. ‘She was a quiet person,’ she recalls. ‘In all the pictures and on TV today, she’s a very serious person. But she can also make jokes and be funny.’ Presentation was very important to Melania — and to her family. No matter what was happening, Sedej remembers her friend always looked perfect, ‘with mascara and everything’

‘Her mother is the secret to understanding her,’ says Sedej. Melania’s parents did well: well enough to have a small flat in Ljubljana for Melania to live in when she moved to the city to study.

Sedej lived nearby:

On the bus to school, they would talk about boys, and after class Sedej would go round to Melania’s flat in the suburbs and the two would flick through the faraway world of Vogue together. We were not party girls and we did not go out very often,’ Sedej says, recalling that Melania was committed to her studies at the time. Yet she also loved modelling and hired a photographer to put a portfolio together for her. As Sedej notes, ‘This is not something you’d do for a hobby.’ Though they never talked about it, Sedej sensed Melania wanted to leave the country. ‘When you are friends with someone for a long time, you just feel there is something more. We both wanted to do something more with our lives.’

The photographer

It is unclear whether the photographer Melania first met was the one who put the portfolio together for her.

That said:

It all began in January 1987, in Ljubljana, back in what was then still Yugoslavia. Melanija Knavs was 16. The photographer Stane Jerko was leaving early from a fashion show at the city’s Festival Hall. ‘By the staircase at the entrance, I saw this girl,’ he says. Melania was leaning on a fence. It looked as if she w[ere] waiting for someone. ‘She was tall, slim, with long hair,’ says Jerko. ‘I told her who I was, what I did, and why I would photograph her.’ In the pre-Instagram age, this was how you found new faces.

Behind the facade of communism, the city was fizzing with punk, fashion and nationalist pampleteers. Rebellion was in the air. Melania, a student at a specialist high school for industrial design and photography, took a chance. Her plan had been to study to be an architect, but now she was going to pose for a shoot. Already her most defining features were visible to Jerko: she had a face that gave nothing away. ‘She was shy and reserved at first,’ he says. ‘Not wanting to open herself up.’ But she quickly got into it and began asking questions: ‘Why are you constantly moving the light? Is this how I should be holding myself?’

‘Still, I didn’t have the impression she was ambitions,’ says Jerko. ‘She was timid.’ The pictures he developed looked great. ‘So I called her back to do a shoot for the Slovenian magazine Model.’ Her career had launched, though Jerko noticed there was still something closed off about her.

Two of those photos are on page 90 and 93, showing an open-eyed, budding young woman.

The boyfriend

Amazingly, Ben Judah managed to track down one of Melania’s boyfriends (page 93):

In 1989, the Berlin Wall came down; months later, Yugoslavia began to implode. In 1990, Slovenia voted for independence and the following year, the Yugoslav forces withdrew after a 10-day war. Everyday life was filled with talk of this drama. Slovenian businessman Jure Zorcic was one of Melania’s boyfriends, having met her when they were in their early 20s. ‘She was very classy, very peaceful, very focused,’ remembers Zorcic. ‘Very close to her parents and sister.’ She was always carefully dressed, which, given the state of the Yugoslavian economy at the time, he recalls, was nothing short of ‘a miracle’. It was a moment in Eastern Europe, between the fall of the Berlin Wall and the 1995 massacre in Srebrenica, when anything felt possible.

‘We talked about everything,’ says Zorcic. ‘About Yugoslavia, our future.’ Together, they whiled away the summer with friends in the beach towns of Croatia. ‘We would laugh a lot and have fun.’ Melania would tell him how ‘she wanted to go abroad and catch the fashion world of Italy and France as a model’. But it still came as a shock when she actually left; their relationship was over. As central Europe began to make the jump from communism towards Nato and the EU, Melania made her own jump to Milan and then to New York. She had her sights on America and all her life experiences had led her to one conclusion: ‘I can tell you that I believe in free market capitalism,’ she says.

Milan and the name change

Melania changed her name in Milan (page 94):

When Melania first landed in Milan in 1992, she signed with an agency and first began using a different name — ditching the Slavic Melanija Knavs for the more Germanic Melania Knaus. (The extra ‘s’s came later: Melania Knauss, as if to stress an Western lineage.) And in what now looks like a piece of visionary surrealism, one of her biggest shoots was for a Slovenian advert in which she played the first female US president, complete with mock Air Force One and motorcade.

From Paris to New York

Melania was getting older, which hindered in some ways but helped in others:

She moved to Paris in her mid-20s. Here, she was scouted again, this time by Paolo Zampolli, a New York-based Italian playboy and model manager, who urged her to move to Manhattan, where he would put her up and represent her. She took the gamble, arriving in New York in 1996 to live in a shared apartment off Gramercy Park that Zampolli arranged. The bedroom — if you could even call it that — was behind a Styrofoam wall, with just enough space for a futuon. It was very much a gamble: at 26, she was already much older than the average aspiring model hoping to make it in one of Manhattan’s cruellest industries. But the word most used about Melania from her fashion days is ‘determined’.

Her age helped her to get the aforementioned Camel advert (pp 94-95):

Too old to hit the big time in conventional campaigns, Melania had her lucky break as a cigarette model, thanks to a law that barred younger models from promoting tobacco. In the summer of 1997, her face towered over Times Square for Camel Lights. ‘I wouldn’t say she reached supermodel height,’ says Irene Marie, who later represented Melania. ‘She wasn’t the most expensive model, but she was a high-end model.’ In Melania, Marie saw a refined and composed young woman. ‘What I particularly liked about Melania was that she wasn’t part of the nightlife scene, where all you had to do was open different magazines to see whech clubs your models were at. It was the era of cocaine, drugs and clubs, and you had to watch out for your models.’ Melania, though, had a reputation for being serious and focused … 

Meeting Donald Trump

It was Paolo Zampolli who introduced her to her future husband (page 95):

in 1998, he introduced her to his friend and fellow staple of the New York gossip columns, Donald Trump, who had recently separated from his second wife, Marla Maples. Melania met Trump at the Kit Kat Club during New York Fashion Week. Trump later claimed he had been there to see someone else: ‘They said, “Look, there’s so-and-so.” I said, “Forget about her. Who is the one on the left?” It was Melania’ …

Trump and Melania married in Palm Beach in 2005, surrounded by 10,000 flowers. It was Trump’s third wedding. Bill and Hillary Clinton were guests, as was Benjamin Netanyahu. Almost nobody from Melania’s life before Trump was there — it was as though she didn’t have a past.

Frankly, that’s what happens when one emigrates and marries. The spouse’s friends and family become one’s primary relationships. How could they not?

Melania gave birth the following year:

Barron was born in 2006, around the time Trump allegedly had affairs with the pornographic actress Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal: both would come back to haunt him.

Melania’s mysterious delay in moving to the White House

In 2017, it took five months for Melania to move from Trump Tower in Manhattan to the White House.

In Mary Jordan’s unauthorised biography, The Art of Her Deal, where you can see an early modelling photo of Melania, it is asserted that the First Lady was incensed by the womanising stories from the past that came out on the 2016 campaign trail (page 94):

According to Jordan, Melania leveraged the infamous ‘grab ’em by the pussy’ tape and the Stormy Daniels affair to force a renegotiation of her prenup, securing a better financial deal for herself and her son, Barron. Jordan claims it was because of these negotiations, rather than Brron’s schooling, that she delayed moving to Washington and stayed in New York after the election. ‘I was worried about Trump,’ says one source, ‘and so were a lot of folks in the White House, as she makes him less unbalanced.’ It took her until five months after the inauguration to finally relocate, better prenup in hand, to Washington — a move worthy of her husband’s book The Art of the Deal. Popular as it is, the myth that Melania is a prisoner in the White House misses the real power she has. And yet for all the intensity of interest in her, Melania is still mostly an enigma — Stephanie Grisham, her chief of staff, discmissed Jordan’s biography as ‘fiction’.

Trouble with Ivanka

Melania allegedly found a rival in Trump’s daughter, Ivanka:

‘The Portrait’ is how Ivanka is said to refer to Melania, in light of how little her stepmother speaks.

There is supposedly little love lost between them. Melania’s former friend and adviser Stephanie Winston Wolkoff describes Ivana’s dogged attempts to sideline her stepmother in her new memoir Melania and Me, alleging that the competition between the two Trump women became so fierce that Melania and Wolkoff launched ‘Operation Block Ivanka’ to stop her dominating footage of the searing-in. ‘Ivanka was relentless and determined to be the First Daughter and to usurp office space out from under Melania.’ Wolkoff writes.


It is a shame that no fashion magazine ever profiled the First Lady. It seems that Tatler did so only as a last hurrah in the run-up to the 2020 election.

Melania Trump’s life story is a fascinating one, particularly given her transformation from a little girl growing up in a Communist nation to becoming First Lady of the United States. It is a truly remarkable journey.

On page 97, Ben Judah says:

It has been 24 years since Melania first arrived in New York, on the cusp of what has been one of the most astonishing American success stories ever told: the Slovenian model and the gossip-pages-obsessed mogul who ended up in the Whte House. And it’s easy to forget that from Melania’s perspective she is the real winner here. How many people have come from somewhere so small and yet made it so big? Very few.

The former First Lady told Tatler via email (page 92):

Every step in my life had a different turning point. Growing up in Slovenia, living in both Milan and Paris at a young age, then moving to the United States and living in New York City in my 20s — all of that has led to my serving our great nation as First Lady.

Melania Trump might well be in the spotlight once again for the 2024 elections. Whether she is or not, at least we know a bit more about her. It is a pity that the universally anti-Trump media ignored her and her life’s achievements when they could have published them as an inspiration for young women around the world.

Moral of the story: never let go of your dreams.

My series on the Red Wall MP Miriam Cates concludes today.

Those who missed my previous posts on the Conservative MP for Penistone and Stocksbridge in South Yorkshire can find them here and here.

On October 27, 2021, Miriam Cates revealed to GB News that she and her family had to move out of their home for a time when she got doxxed. YorkshireLive has the story:

The MP for Penistone and Stocksbridge told GB News she has felt frightened by her previous experiences.

She said: “I have had an experience where someone was trying to incite Twitter users to share my address online.

“I had to move my family out of the family home while the police got involved.”

But she claims her colleagues have faced even worse issues, saying some have “got harrowing stories.”

The Conservative MP also said her parliamentary role was an adjustment from her previous position as a school teacher.

Online Safety Bill

Cates supports the Online Safety Bill, which is with the House of Lords at the moment.

The proposed legislation has captured the hearts and minds of nearly every MP.

On the evening of Tuesday, January 17, 2023, in the Bill’s last day in the Commons, Sir Bill Cash rose to put forward his new Clause 2 (emphases mine):

In a nutshell, we must be able to threaten tech bosses with jail. There is precedent for that—jail sentences for senior managers are commonplace for breaches of duties across a great range of UK legislation. That is absolutely and completely clear, and as a former shadow Attorney General, I know exactly what the law is on this subject. I can say this: we must protect our children and grandchildren from predatory platforms operating for financial gain on the internet. It is endemic throughout the world and in the UK, inducing suicide, self-harm and sexual abuse, and it is an assault on the minds of our young children and on those who are affected by it, including the families and such people as Ian Russell. He has shown great courage in coming out with the tragedy of his small child of 14 years old committing suicide as a result of such activities, as the coroner made clear. It is unthinkable that we will not deal with that. We are dealing with it now, and I thank the Secretary of State and the Minister for responding with constructive dialogue in the short space of time since we have got to grips with this issue …

The Irish have come up with something that includes similar severe penalties. It can be done. But this is our legislation in this House. We will do it the way that we want to do it to protect our children and families. I am just about fed up with listening to the mealy-mouthed remarks from those who say, “You can’t do it. It’s not quite appropriate.” To hell with that. We are talking about our children.

On past record, which I just mentioned, in 1977-78, a great friend of mine, Cyril Townsend, the Member for Bexleyheath, introduced the first Protection of Children Bill. He asked me to help him, and I did. We got it through. That was incredibly difficult at the time. You have no idea, Mr Deputy Speaker, how much resistance was put up by certain Members of this House, including Ministers. I spoke to Jim Callaghan—I have been in this House so long that I was here with him after he had been Prime Minister—and asked, “How did you give us so much time to get the Bill through?” He said, “It’s very simple. I was sitting in bed with my wife in the flat upstairs at No. 10. She wasn’t talking to me. I said, ‘What’s wrong, darling?’ She replied, ‘If you don’t get that Protection of Children Bill through, I won’t speak to you for six months.’” And it went through, so there you go. There is a message there for all Secretaries of State, and even Prime Ministers.

Cates was next:

I too rise to speak to new clause 2, which seeks to introduce senior manager criminal liability to the Bill. As my hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Sir William Cash) set out, we will not push it to a vote as a result of the very welcome commitments that the Minister has made to introduce a similar amendment in the other place [House of Lords].

Protecting children is not just the role of parents but the responsibility of the whole of society, including our institutions and businesses that wish to trade here. That is the primary aim of this Bill, which I wholeheartedly support: to keep children safe online from horrendous and unspeakable harms, many of which were mentioned by my right hon. Friend the Member for South Northamptonshire (Dame Andrea Leadsom) …

Only personal criminal liability will drive proactive change, and we have seen this in other areas such as the financial services industry and the construction industry. I am delighted that the Government have recognised the necessity of senior manager liability for tech bosses, after much campaigning across the House, and committed to introducing it in the other place. I thank the Secretary of State and her team for the very constructive and positive way in which they have engaged with supporters of this measure …

I offer my sincere thanks to the NSPCC, especially Rich Collard, and the outstanding Charles Hymas of The Telegraph, who have so effectively supported this campaign. I also pay tribute to my hon. Friend the Member for Stone (Sir William Cash); without his determination, knowledge and experience, it would not have been possible to achieve this change. He has been known as Mr Brexit, but as he said, even before he was Mr Brexit, he was Mr Child Protection, having been involved with the Protection of Children Act 1978. It is certainly advantageous in negotiations to work with someone who knows vastly more about legislation than pretty much anyone else involved. He sat through the debate in December on the amendment tabled by the right hon. Member for Barking (Dame Margaret Hodge), and while the vote was taking place, he said, “I think we can do this.” He spent the next week in the Public Bill Office and most of his recess buried in legislation. I pay tribute to him for his outstanding work. Once again, I thank the Secretary of State for her commitment to this, and I think this will continue our Parliament’s proud history of protecting children.

Many members of the public, however, are concerned that this will go far beyond child safety. We shall see.

Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill: Section 35

Before Christmas 2022, I wrote about the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill, which the Scottish Parliament (Assembly) passed in breathtaking haste.

The Secretary of State for Scotland, Alister Jack MP, invoked Section 35 to block it. It was an unprecedented move, because Westminster has never before used Section 35 to block Scottish legislation.

The Commons debated the move on the afternoon of Tuesday, January 17, 2023.

No one could have imagined that all hell would break loose.

Miriam Cates said:

I rise to support the Government’s decision to use their section 35 powers with regard to the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill …

In paragraph 27, the Government point out that the Bill does not create “sufficient safeguards”. They are right to be concerned about “fraudulent and/or malign applications” because of the implications for child safeguarding. This morning, the Education Committee heard from Professor Alexis Jay, who chaired the inquiry into institutional child sexual abuse. It was harrowing to hear the stories of decades of child sexual abuse throughout institutions across the country. One key feature of such abuse is that predators will exploit any loophole that they can find to get access to children, and I am afraid that that is what will happen with the Bill.

We should not be asking how easy it is for someone who is uncomfortable with their sex to obtain a GRC [Gender Recognition Certificate]; we should be asking how easy it is for a predator to get access to children. The Bill would make it vastly easier for a predator to get access to children by changing their gender with an eye to exploiting loopholes to access children and women in particular

Changing legal gender, with a potential route to long-term changes to fertility, sexual function and health, is not suitable for 16-year-olds and is a huge safeguarding risk.

Paragraphs 30 and 48 mention membership on the grounds of sex and single-sex spaces. Sex Matters recently did a report that looked at the impact on single-sex spaces of men’s ability to access them by changing their gender. Women say, “I never went back to that swimming pool,” or, “I never went back to that counselling class,” because for many of them, the dignity of having a women-only space and knowing that there will be no men there is important. We will see a chilling effect on important single-sex rights if the Bill passes. As a woman, I fully understand the threats to dignity and safety that the Bill poses, because it will change the social contract. In this country, we recognise that in toilets, changing rooms and public spaces, there are areas where only women are allowed.

In a restaurant recently, I had an experience where a man dressed as a woman walked into the toilets where I was on my own. He stood behind me and stared at me in the mirror, looking me in the eye. I have no idea whether he intended me any harm, but my evolved instinct as a woman was to be frightened, because unlike in almost any other species, women are far less powerful than men and we cannot defend ourselves. [Interruption.] No, it is a fact. The difference in strength between men and women is phenomenal, which is why we have separate sex categories for sport. Women are evolved to be wary of men in intimate spaces, which is why we have single-sex spaces and why they must continue to exist for the safety and privacy of women. The Bill threatens that social contract.

Finally, this threatens the understanding of our law, which should be based on fact, and someone cannot change their sex any more than they can change their place of birth or who their parents are. I fully understand the complex arguments involved and we should treat this with compassion, but if the law is not based on fact, then how can we trust the law? That is why the Government are absolutely right to serve this notice.

The Labour bench was quite noisy.

Madam Deputy Speaker Rosie Winterton called the House to order.

Labour’s Lloyd Russell-Moyle (Brighton, Kemptown) rose:

Goodness me, that speech was probably one of the worst transphobic dog-whistle speeches I have heard in an awfully long time. Linking the Bill with predators is, frankly, disgusting, and you [Cates] should be ashamed.

The Deputy Speaker said:

Order. No—calm down!

Somewhere at this point — I didn’t see it on BBC Parliament, but I might have looked away — Russell-Moyle, who has form for playing up in Parliament having been suspended for a day for picking up the mace, crossed over to the Conservative benches to sit near Cates.

You can see it here, starting at 1:51. It was part of GB News’s Mark Dolan’s editorial asking if Labour have a women problem:

Conservative MP Paul Bristow moved down a row or two to sit next to Cates. Father of the House Peter Bottomley is sitting in front of her. Bristow made a Point of Order about Russell-Moyle’s behaviour a few days later. More on that in a moment. Here is Conservative MP Laura Farris’s tweet of the scene:

Cates spoke:

Will the hon. Gentleman give way?

Russell-Moyle replied:

No, I will not give way to you, or anyone else. [Interruption.] I mean to the hon. Member.

On the substance of this, ignoring that horrible speech we have just heard—

The Father of the House [longest serving male MP] Sir Peter Bottomley, a Conservative, intervened:

On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. Did you hear anything transphobic in the previous speech?

Madam Deputy Speaker responded:

I have to say to the Father of the House that different Members of this House will interpret speeches in different ways. I suggest that we move on quickly, and I think the hon. Member for Brighton, Kemptown (Lloyd Russell-Moyle) needs to calm down, moderate his language and move on to the substance of the debate, otherwise I will ask him to resume his seat.

Russell-Moyle said:

Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. It is difficult when we are talking about these emotional matters.

The reality of this is that this section 35 is the new Tories’ section 28. It is their continuation of a war against a group of people—their culture war—that they want to pursue, and they think it will advantage them in the polls. That is what the Australian Conservatives thought as well and what the Republicans in the US thought, but I trust it will not, because the people do not like the bigotry that we hear from the other side.

Another Conservative MP, Alicia Kearns, intervened:

I recognise that the hon. Gentleman feels very strongly about this, but I would ask him to use caution about labelling a party as solely one thing, because it is Conservative party colleagues who led for the conversion therapy ban that has been announced today. When I was elected, no other MP talked about it for seven months, and we have delivered it today. I caution him to please not label all Members on certain sides of the House as transphobic or homophobic, and I also challenge anyone being labelled that in this House.

Russell-Moyle then spoke, acknowledged Alicia Kearns’s point then said, in part:

What this report says in reality is that there is no amendment this Government would accept or allow to pass. What this flimsy piece of paper indicates is that the only Bill they would accept is the current UK law, and anything that deviates from it would be blocked. I am afraid that is an undermining of the very concept of devolution. The Government should just be honest, and say that they want to remove the devolved competences in this area from the Scottish Parliament and return them back to Westminster. At least that would be an honest debate, rather than this dog-whistle debate about the safety of children, which, frankly, is not correct.

Let us see how this Bill rolls out in Scotland. We could then see the flaws that might come from it, and the Scottish Parliament could have amended it and taken action, because all Bills are living, practical documents.

I say this as a gay man who loves all-male spaces sometimes and finds that the liberation of having such spaces is important—and I am sure that many women feel that the safety of all-women spaces is important to them—but this Bill does not change that law one bit. GRCs exist at the moment, and we already have a system for people to change their passport and their driving licence without a GRC. Going into a toilet, a public facility or a refuge is not contingent on a certificate at all, so all those arguments are bogus, and to continue a bogus argument knowing that it is bogus is, I am afraid, a form of bigotry.

Afterwards, Conservative MP Craig Mackinley lightened the mood by discussing what one can and cannot do at the age of 16, excerpted below:

I am rather concerned that the hon. Member for Brighton, Kemptown (Lloyd Russell-Moyle) might have a seizure at the end of my speech, but we will do our best to keep him calm

I do have issues with the whole concept of this—I am not going to stray into that too much, but I find the provision on the age of 16 scarcely believable. Even in Scotland a 16-year-old cannot drive or buy alcohol or cigarettes.

I was going to cover the things that people can do at 16. I understand that in education in Scotland, access for the armed forces to encourage a future and a career in the armed forces is actively discouraged, which is taking a lot of people away from credible and superb future employment. In Scotland—I always like to give the sunbed rule—someone cannot even go on a sunbed, and they cannot contract, yet here we are—[Interruption.] We all wanted to do lots of things aged 16. I rather wanted a tattoo and an earring, but here I am aged 56, and I am damn pleased I did not go down that route. It means that when I lie on beaches, most people sort of point at me say, “Look at that. There’s a guy without a tattoo on this beach.”

The other safeguards I am concerned about regard sex offenders. Are we really so naive as to think that those who are so minded will not exploit some of these rules to do things that we know they want to do? Are we so naive as to think that people will do the right thing in all circumstances? I am an absolute libertarian Conservative and I have no interest in how people want to live—that is a matter for them. I have completely no interest, and I do not bring my opinions on it to this place for legislation. That is not my interest or concern. I steadfastly say that—people can do exactly as they please …

I am concerned that the process for obtaining a GRC would be much easier and much reduced under the Bill, as opposed to what I think has been a well debated, well rehearsed, and settled argument across the UK up to this date. The settled will has been that a GRC can be obtained where someone has lived as a different sex for two years, had some medical advice and intervention and guaranteed that they shall live in that way for the rest of their days. I think that is sensible; I am fully in agreement with that.

As I said, I am a libertarian Conservative, so I really do not mind what people want to do, but this is an issue about section 35 of the Scotland Act. The Bill would change the Equality Act 2010 and change how we live. I support the Government.

People responding to Laura Farris’s aforementioned tweet complained about Madam Deputy Speaker and Lloyd Russell-Moyle:

She should have expelled him, but, then again, she’s a Labour MP.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, who wasn’t there, didn’t say anything, either.

Imagine if a Conservative MP had done that: immediate suspension with the video making the news for weeks!

On Sunday, January 22, The Express reported that Russell-Moyle apologised to Cates:

It is understood that Mr Russell-Moyle has written to Ms Cates, calling the tone of his remarks “a mistake”.

Also apologising to the Deputy Speaker on Wednesday, Mr Russell-Moyle said, “I should have expressed my deep disagreement on what I believe is an abhorrent view in a more appropriate way.”

On Monday, January 23, Guido Fawkes had a further update. Paul Bristow had raised a Point of Order about the incident:

Guido’s post says (red emphases his):

Tory MP Paul Bristow just made a point of order in the Commons rightly condemning the behaviour of Lloyd Russell-Moyle on the green benches last week. While Russell-Moyle has already apologised for failing to control his “passion” during his screed at Miriam Cates last week, his decision to then sit directly next to her on the Tory benches has also sparked outrage. Surely just a coincidence… 

Deputy Speaker Dame Rosie Winterton also responded, although hedged her bets a bit by claiming “it is very difficult for me to know what was in the honourable gentleman’s [Russell-Moyle’s] mind” when he sat a yard away from the woman he’d just screamed at. Doesn’t seem that difficult to Guido…

This morning, Lloyd tweeted:

It is not uncommon at the end of a debate for people to sit at different seats while waiting to enter the chamber or the lobbies.

I had no concept that this was making any member feel awkward and would never do anything to deliberately intimidate anyone in or out of the chamber.

Guido will let observers decide whether Russell-Moyle’s seating decision was a mere coincidence…

That statement of Russell-Moyle’s is quite something. For a start, this was not at the end of the debate. It was during the debate. As such, no one was waiting to enter or leave the chamber.

His second sentence is absolutely breathtaking. He would have seen Paul Bristow move next to Miriam Cates. She had just related an experience in which she felt intimidated, then Russell-Moyle crossed the aisle to move near her when her expectations would have been for him to remain in his seat across the chamber.


I do not know if Miriam Cates has been re-selected by her local Conservative Association for 2024. She seems a determined lady and, no doubt, she is a good constituency MP. We need more like her.

More profiles on Red Wall MPs will follow after Easter.

Bible treehuggercomThe three-year Lectionary that many Catholics and Protestants hear in public worship gives us a great variety of Holy Scripture.

Yet, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

My series Forbidden Bible Verses — ones the Lectionary editors and their clergy omit — examines the passages we do not hear in church. These missing verses are also Essential Bible Verses, ones we should study with care and attention. Often, we find that they carry difficult messages and warnings.

Today’s reading is from the English Standard Version Anglicised (ESVUK) with commentary by Matthew Henry and John MacArthur (as specified below).

1 Timothy 2:8-15

I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarrelling; likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, 10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. 11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. 15 Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.


Last week’s post discussed Paul’s turning Hymenaeus and Alexander over to Satan and what that means both in the Old and the New Testaments, for good purposes and as judgements.

This is a long post, explaining the role of women in the church.

1 Timothy 2 begins as follows (emphases mine):

Pray for All People

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man[a] Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. For this I was appointed a preacher and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

Occasionally, I read of pastors who do not say prayers for those in government. However, it is good, as Paul says, to pray for them and their leadership at whatever level.

Here is one such prayer from the Anglican 1662 Book of Common Prayer. This comes from the Communion liturgy:

Let us pray for the whole state of Christ’s Church militant here in earth.

Almighty and everliving God, who by thy holy Apostle hast taught us to make prayers and supplications, and to give thanks, for all men: We humbly beseech thee most mercifully [*to accept our alms and oblations, and] to receive these our prayers, which we offer unto thy Divine Majesty; beseeching thee to inspire continually the universal Church with the spirit of truth, unity, and concord: And grant, that all they that do confess thy holy Name may agree in the truth of thy holy Word, and live in unity, and godly love. We beseech thee also to save and defend all Christian Kings, Princes, and Governors; and specially thy servant CHARLES our King; that under him we may be godly and quietly governed: And grant unto his whole Council, and to all that are put in authority under him, that they may truly and indifferently minister justice, to the punishment of wickedness and vice, and to the maintenance of thy true religion, and virtue. Give grace, O heavenly Father, to all Bishops and Curates, that they may both by their life and doctrine set forth thy true and lively Word, and rightly and duly administer thy holy Sacraments: And to all thy people give thy heavenly grace; and specially to this congregation here present; that, with meek heart and due reverence, they may hear, and receive thy holy Word; truly serving thee in holiness and righteousness all the days of their life. And we most humbly beseech thee of thy goodness, O Lord, to comfort and succour all them, who in this transitory life are in trouble, sorrow, need, sickness, or any other adversity. And we also bless thy holy Name for all thy servants departed this life in thy faith and fear; beseeching thee to give us grace so to follow their good examples, that with them we may be partakers of thy heavenly kingdom: Grant this, O Father, for Jesus Christ‘s sake, our only Mediator and Advocate. Amen.

Paul then discusses the role of men and women at prayer, going on to focus on women’s role in church worship.

For those who are new to my posts on 1 Timothy, here is the context that John MacArthur provides for this letter from Paul to his 35-year-old protégé which concerns the churches in Ephesus and surrounding cities which were plagued by false teachers in leadership roles:

Paul has concluded his three missionary journeys.  He has just been released from his first imprisonment in Rome.  He is now a free man.  The book of Acts is completed.  And as he moves out of prison, he meets Timothy in the city of Ephesus.

Apparently word has reached him that things in Ephesus are not as they ought to be.  And Ephesus and the church there was close to his heart He had spent three years of his ministry there.  He had poured his soul into that church.  He had said about that ministry that he had not failed in Ephesus to declare all the council of God.  He had warned them night and day for three years that error would come from the outside and evil would rise from the inside.  And sure enough, his worst fears had come to pass.  The church had entered into doctrinal error.  The church had entered into ungodly living, and many things were wrong in that church.  Most significantly of all, the leadership had been corrupted doctrinally and morally.  The church then had pastors, and elders, and those who were the official deacons of the church who needed to be replaced with godly people.

Well, Paul met Timothy there, and I believe personally dealt with Hymenaeus and Alexander, as mentioned in 1:20.  Then Paul had to leave to go west for further ministry, but left Timothy there in Ephesus And Timothy was to straighten out the rest of the issues in the church.  Paul’s only been gone a few weeks, and he writes this letter back to Timothy to strengthen his hand, to encourage him in the task, and to make sharp his focus as to what he was to be about.

Paul tells Timothy his desire is that, in every place, men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarrelling (verse 8).

Paul had a true gift for saying a lot in one sentence. There are several aspects and a few different interpretations to the verse from our commentators.

Matthew Henry gives this a broad interpretation, especially of the words ‘every place’. When he says ‘men’, he likely includes women. Furthermore, ‘closet’ refers to what were known centuries ago as prayer closets, small rooms where one could withdraw in silence for private prayer:

A direction how to pray, v. 8. 1. Now, under the gospel, prayer is not to be confined to any one particular house of prayer, but men must pray every where: no place is amiss for prayer, no place more acceptable to God than another, John 4 21. Pray every where. We must pray in our closets, pray in our families, pray at our meals, pray when we are on journeys, and pray in the solemn assemblies, whether more public or private. 2. It is the will of God that in prayer we should lift up holy hands: Lifting up holy hands, or pure hands, pure from the pollution of sin, washed in the fountain opened for sin and uncleanness. I will wash my hands, etc., Ps 26 6. 3. We must pray in charity: Without wrath, or malice, or anger at any person. 4. We must pray in faith without doubting ( Jam 1 6), or, as some read it, without disputing, and then it falls under the head of charity.

MacArthur has lengthy explanations of all aspects of this verse, beginning with the word ‘desire’, which is ‘will’ in his translation:

I want you to notice he says “I will,” and he uses not the word thelō, which is the will of desire used back in verse 4 where it says God will have all men to be saved. That was the will of desire. This is boulomai, the will of mental purpose. It’s almost like I demand or I command or I purpose that this should happen or I lay this down as an absolute. Paul is now in a commanding mode. Therefore because of what we have just seen, this tremendous, tremendous statement about why we are to pray for the lost, I’m telling you the men are to pray in every place.

MacArthur is certain that Paul is referring uniquely to men here. He sees this as leading prayer in church worship:

Now would you please notice that where it says men, it is tous andras, the plural of anēr, which is man not in the generic sense but man in the male sense, as opposed to gunē which is the female. So he is saying men as males, that is to say in the life of the church when the church comes together and it is time to pray for the lost, the men are to do the praying. Now this is the emphasis. It is very clearly used here. That is to say Paul selects his terms carefully. I will that the men, or the males, pray. Now in the Jewish synagogue in the Old Testament time, only men were permitted to pray. The stress here leads one to believe that this was carried into the church in terms of the leadership of the church, being as we know in Scripture, belonging to the men in the public worship. And apparently in Ephesus this was being tested by some women who were usurping the male role.

But nonetheless, it is God’s pattern for the life of the church that men are those who lead in the public worship. And in this situation he is affirming that. He says I demand of you not just a simple wish of my heart, but I lay this down – boulomai – as a demand – that the men do the praying. The men do the praying.

MacArthur examines what Paul meant by ‘every place’:

The term everywhere in the Authorized is actually ‘in every place.’ Most interesting. Most interesting. That little phrase is used four times by Paul – in every place – here, 1 Corinthians 1:2, and 1 Thessalonians 1:8. It in all four places refers to the official assembly of the church. And what he is saying is that when the church comes together in its duly recognized and official assembly, I demand that the men do the praying. And the word here for pray is habitually pray. It is to be the common practice that this prayer go on in behalf of the unsaved people and that it be carried by the men.

MacArthur says that the lifting up of holy hands does not mean lifting up one’s arms as well, which is a popular modern practice in some churches. Paul is referring to lifting one’s hands upwards, which was an ancient Jewish gesture in prayer:

The attitude with which you pray, lifting up holy hands without wrath and dissension. Now what does this mean, lifting up holy hands? Does this mean – this? With the hands in the air and swaying? Or this? What? I’ve seen all of that …

It was customary in that time for the Jews to turn their hands as they prayed even in the Old Testament, you can look in the Old Testament, 1 Kings 8:22, Nehemiah 8:6, Psalm 63:4. I think also Psalm 134:2, Psalm 141:2 and also in Isaiah 1:15, you’ll see illustrations of them lifting the hands to the Lord. The hands are one thing and the arms are something else. But there’s nothing wrong with that.

We have a customary posture for prayer, we bow our heads and close our eyes. They didn’t do that. That’s right. That’s not biblical. I don’t know where that came from. I think it probably started maybe – well certainly since New Testament times and maybe not very long ago. And it’s okay. Whatever the custom might be, that’s nice. It doesn’t really matter …

The point here is not that when you pray you’ve got to have your hands in the air.

Paul mentioned two adverse aspects of male life at the time: anger and quarrelling. The idea was that men were to put aside their differences before coming to worship, something Jesus also discussed during His ministry.

MacArthur explains:

The hand is the symbol of the activities of life. Most of the things you do in life involve your hands. And the point is whoever prays ought to be the kind of person who is living a holy life. That’s the point. There are no such thing as holy hands in themselves. Purity of hands is simply a way to express the idea of purity of life. So who are the men who are to pray? Those who have clean hands. What does that mean? … Clean hands in the sense of pure living and a pure heart, as Psalm 24 says. So clean hands and a pure heart of Psalm 24, or here you have the same thing, holy hands and without wrath and dissension. The without wrath and dissension refer to the inner attitude – not anger, not dissenting against God or men. That is pure hearted with a loving heart.

By the way, the word “holy” here is not the word hagios which is the normal word for holy. It’s hosios which means the opposite of polluted – unpolluted, unstained by evil. So when those men stand up to pray who are to pray for the lost, they’re to be men whose lives are holy and men whose hearts are pure. Wonderful. That’s the attitude. That’s the attitude.

Then Paul moves on to women — ‘likewise’ — and with different directives for them: adorning themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls and costly attire (verse 9).

Briefly, in modern parlance, Paul is telling women to leave the ‘bling’ at home. They should not dress for church as if they were going to a nightclub.

Unfortunately, women’s appearance was problematic in Ephesus and neighbouring churches. This letter of Paul’s refers to women in several places.

As for today’s verses, MacArthur says:

Now there were many problems in that church.  One of them – one of them – related to the place of women.  Obviously, if the church was entering into areas of false doctrine, obviously, if it was ungodly in its behavior, this would impact the women in the church as well as the men And since usually there are more women in a church then there are men, this could have indicated a great proliferation of problems Things were not right in that church and it impacted the women …

In this passage, we learn that not only were women having problems with purity, not only were they turning aside to Satan, breaking pledges they had made to Christ, being led around by their own diverse lusts, but here there were some of these women who were acting indecently That is to say bringing these improprieties, impurities, and immoralities into the worship of the church And under the pretense of coming to worship God were flaunting themselves, and desecrating that worship by the dress and demeanor that betrayed an evil intent rather than a heart of worship.

Whereas men had their own issues, being out and about in the world, women were at home and preoccupied by their appearance:

So the life and the heart of men were the issue in verse 8, and now the life and the heart of women become the issue in verse 9.

Since clothing is an issue of some importance with the fairer sex, Paul begins with a discussion of their appearance.  And that is the first point that I want you to see.  He discusses their appearance.  And without question in my mind, he is revealing a problem in the church at Ephesus, and not only there but, no doubt, their problems were symptomatic of problems in the church everywhere.

MacArthur discusses the word ‘adorn’:

Now let me just talk about the word “adorn.”  The word “adorn” is kosme.  We get the word “cosmetic” from it.  It has to do with how a woman prepares herself.  It means basically “to arrange, to put in order, to make ready.”  And he is saying a woman is to make herself ready.  I want to start with that very simple thought. 

When a woman comes to worship, there is a preparation involved.  A woman should prepare herself for worship.  She should make herself ready.  That is assumed, that is a given.  And when they prepare themselves, it should be in adorning apparel.  And here is another form of the word kosme from the same root, this is an adjective, kosmios and it simply carries the same idea She is to prepare herself with the proper preparation.  She is to adorn herself with the proper adornment.  The word kosmios, the adjective form, means “orderly, becomingly, properly, well-ordered, well-arranged.”  So a woman, then, is to come to worship properly arranged.  That is to say that there is some preparation for worship, obviously.

‘Apparel’ here means more than just clothing, which is how we understand the word:

Now the word that is translated in the King James by the term “apparel” is really a bigger term than that.  It means not only clothing, but is used in many places to mean demeanor, or attitude, or action.  It can be the deportment of a woman.  The idea then is here is a total preparation.  When a woman comes to worship, she is to be totally prepared.  She is to be adorned from the inside out.  And one demonstration of that is in the proper kind of apparel.

Now we said the word kosme is to arrange and kosmios speaks of the orderness, orderliness, of that arrangement.  The noun that comes from that same root is the word kosmos from which we get the word “world.”  It’s translated very often “world.”  It really means “order” or “system.”  And the opposite of kosmos is chaos And so we could conclude that a woman is not to come to worship in a chaotic fashion.  That is in disorder, disarray, without a proper preparation, with an unbecoming demeanor, or an unbecoming wardrobe.

Now the idea we know here emphasis-wise is clothing, but the underlying idea is attitude, which we’ll get to in a moment, which is godly fear and self-control But he is talking about clothing because he’s very specific about hair, gold, pearls, and expensive garments. 

The point is this.  Initially, a woman is to prepare herself for worship.  And that preparation involves a heart attitude and it involves a proper adornment on the outside She is to come not in a disarray in spirit, and not in a disarray in clothing, not in a disarray in any way, but in proper respect for the matter of worship.  She is to be dressed in a manner that is well-suited to worship, that is orderly, that fits the God-intended spiritual purpose of the meeting of the church.  Her clothing should reflect a worshiping heart focused on God and focused on God’s glory.

There were big criticisms of the way women dressed in that era and for a few centuries beyond that. Some women — believers and non-believers — were extravagant. Even pagans of the day took issue with them:

Now let me give you a little idea of what the culture was like and where these things might come from.  There was a man by the name of Juvenal who lived about 40 to – about 60 – to 140 A.D.  He was a poet and he has written many things that we have found, and so we get a little characterization of that time in the Roman Empire by reading his writing In one document that has been found, he wrote this.  “There is nothing that a woman will not permit herself to do.  Nothing that she deems shameful.  And when she encircles her neck with green emeralds and fastens huge pearls to her elongated ears, so important is the business of beautification So numerous are the tiers and stories piled one another on her head that she pays no attention to her own husband.”

Now Juvenal gives us a little insight into women who were preoccupied with their appearance.  And certainly we would agree today that our culture is preoccupied with that.  Our culture has the cult of worshiping the human anatomy, and worshiping fashion, and worshiping hairdos.  I mean, it’s just – it’s our culture.  And if the church today falls influence to that system, why should we expect anything different in the early church?  It’s always the world system that endeavors to encroach on the church, and tragically the church sooner or later seems to welcome that encroachment

In Philo’s description of a prostitute, which is quite interesting, in his writing called The Sacrifices of Cain and Abel, he writes this.  “A prostitute is often described as having hair dressed in elaborate braids, her eyes with pencil lines, her eyebrows smothered in paint, and her expensive clothes embroidered lavishly with flowers, and bracelets, and necklaces of gold and jewels hanging all over her.”

Now in that particular culture, then, the woman of the world, the woman who wanted to flaunt her wealth, and flaunt her beauty, and call attention to herself and attract everybody’s interest, and sexually allure someone was the woman who was overdressed, over-made up, and over painted in every sense.  Now this was the woman of the world.  This marked out the prostitute or the garish, gaudy, lavish kind of person.  And what the apostle Paul is saying.  That cannot come into a worship service without being an overt statement.  “Folks, I’m not here to worship God.  I’m here to attract your attention.”  That’s his intent.

In Rome, for example, Pliny tells of the bride of Caligula, whose name was Lollia Paulina, and it said that very often when attending some very special event, she was arrayed in pearls, emeralds, and gold which exceeded in value one million dollars.

Interestingly, pagans also forbade extravagant women’s adornment:

if you study the cults of Rome, that is the cultic religious systems, and study the mystery religions of that time, you will find that they had very stringent rules about the dress and the appearance of the women who came into those worship times The cults were very strong on this. 

For example, there is one inscription that has been discovered that reads like this.  “A consecrated woman shall not have gold ornaments, nor rouge, nor face whitening, nor a headband, nor braided hair, nor shoes, except they be of felt or the skins of sacrificed animals.”

Now that religious cult was saying that no woman can come in here unless she is properly dressed … 

So, you can see the tension that is existing in the Ephesian congregation that is concerning Paul and Timothy.  And that is the fact that here is the church sitting in the middle of the corrupt world, endeavoring to be a testimony of godliness to everyone around it.  And if the church catches the disease of the world, then it brings reproach on Christ, and it destroys its own testimony.  To have the women in the church who are supposed to be the epitome of godliness appear like prostitutes or gaudy, showy women trying to call attention to themselves, or to have them come with the intent of alluring other men and making them discontent with their own wife, or even worse, to allure them into a sexual relationship, would be to blaspheme the intent of the church, certainly when it comes together to worship the living and holy God.

So, the point in all of this is that the world of that day and the world of this day has always had a preoccupation with the adornment of women.  And there are always women who want to put themselves on display.  And it’s a very delicate balance and a very fine line for a godly woman to know when she is properly dressed to demonstrate the grace and the beauty of womanhood, to show her love for her own husband and submission to him, and yet to avoid being the center of attraction that causes people’s thoughts to turn away from God to those things which are shameful.

MacArthur says that there was a high level of poverty at that time, which was another reason why extravagant women would not reflect well on the church:

In that day, people were very poor.  In fact, for example, a very costly dress worn by a very wealthy woman would cost up to 7,000 denarii Now a denarius is one day’s pay for a common laborer So 7,000 days pay for one of those dresses.  And she would come flowing into church in one of these very expensive garments and the whole focus of worship would turn to her, and everything would be lost.  And the women would feel second class, and the men would take a look at their wife and look at her – (snap) – why couldn’t I have married a rich one, you know?  It just did not contribute to worship.

Hair was another issue. It was elaborately plaited with ornaments here, there and everywhere:

The intent is that it was a sin to overdo and to develop such an elaborate hairdo that it did nothing but call attention to yourself.  And what happened was the women would literally take their gold, and silver, and pearls, and jewelry, and these tortoise shell combs, and things like that, and they would stack their fortune on their headThis was the custom. 

A braid is one thing, a braid woven with a gold chain, another braid woven with pearls is something else.  This was a way of flaunting wealth.  And that’s what Paul speaks to, the elaborate braiding of a fortune in jewelry in the hair.  Gold, of course, has always been valuable.  It was then, and in those days pearls were about three times the value of gold, so a woman could put a fortune on her head.  The women also wore gold on their fingers.  They wore them on their ears.  They wore them on their sandals.  They even hung gold on their dresses.  And it was out of place.

Now that is not to say that you shouldn’t own gold and pearls There’s nothing in the Scripture to indicate that God wants everybody poor.  And I remember so well, and you do, too, don’t you, remember reading in Song of Solomon 1:9-11 how that the bride is decked in beautiful things around her neck?  And I’m reminded of the Proverbs 31 woman in verse 22 who had such beautiful clothing in order to honor her husband and appear beautiful in his presence.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  It’s just that when that becomes the focus of your attention and the intent that you have is to draw attention to yourself by that, and you know that in your environment, and in your culture that’s exactly what it does, you have violated the spirit of worship.

On the other hand, MacArthur also laments the opposite of extravagance. He preached this sermon in 1986:

Coming to church with no preparation will cause attention to be drawn to you, as well.  And it’s amazing.  The world is coming to a, what looks to me like an anti-beauty fashion.  Do you feel that way?  I tell you, I have never seen so many ugly hairdos and wardrobes in my life It’s almost as if women have bought the lie that womanhood is bad and they want to make it as ugly as possible It’s amazing.  Amazing. 

Good grief. I’d say it’s even worse today. I see many women who portray themselves as comic book characters: overly sized, ugly goggles for spectacles and hideous hair in either style or colour (sometimes both). The list goes on.

Paul says that women should adorn themselves with the good works — i.e. fruits of faith — that signify godliness (verse 10).

Henry simply says:

Note, Good works are the best ornament; these are, in the sight of God, of great price. Those that profess godliness should, in their dress, as well as other things, act as becomes their profession; instead of laying out their money on fine clothes, they must lay it out in works of piety and charity, which are properly called good works.

MacArthur says:

The point that I’m making is that the woman’s adornment is to be that she has an adorned heart, she has a beautiful heart, she has a beautiful character You show me a woman with a beautiful character, you show me a woman with a meek and quiet spirit, you show me a woman who has an incorruptible heart, you show me a woman who comes to worship God, and I’ll show you a woman whose wardrobe you don’t have to worry about because the heart dictates that issue.

So, Paul calls Christian women then, as does Peter, to an adornment that exalts God, especially in the time of worship.  Now when you have a wedding, you can dress like a bride And when you go to some very formal occasion, you may dress properly for that.  And there may be a special time for everything.  But the worship of the church is a time for humility.  It’s a time for meekness.  It’s a time for a broken and a contrite spirit.  It’s a time for confessing your sin … 

A woman’s adornment starts with the heart.  Ladies, it all starts with the heart.  Godly fear is a word used only here [verse 9], the word aids, it means modesty mixed with humility It’s a marvelous word.  It has at its heart the sense of shame.  That’s right.  It has at its heart the sense of shame.  The root idea is a sense of shame … 

And a woman with a proper sense of shame will dress in such a way as not to be alluring and not to be the source of temptation.  The word carries in it the innate idea of morally rejecting anything dishonorable to God, of shrinking way back from the limits of womanly modesty.  One lexicographer, that is one translator of the Greek, suggests that the word implies something as strong as grief over the sense of sin, that a woman would be so grieved and so sensitive to sin, so hating sin that offends God that she would never come close to doing anything that could generate in another person’s mind any sinful attitude

Now we get into something which is contentious these days but was not so in Paul’s era. In fact, what he offered was positively liberating.

Women, for the most part, were practically sub-human. Consequently, whether they were Jews or Gentiles, they were not educated.

Paul was offering them doctrinal learning, at a time when any education for women was novel.

MacArthur explains how the Jews of the day viewed women:

when the church comes together, Paul is saying, let the women learn Don’t send them all out to get the potluck ready for what is going to happen afterwards.  Don’t send them all into the nursery or whatever might need to be done outside, let the women learn.  They were to be included in the learning opportunity.  Now you say, isn’t that rather obvious?  Well, might be obvious to us, but apparently it wasn’t not obvious to them.  How is it that it wasn’t obvious?  Well, one of the things that we learned in chapter 1 was that existing in the Ephesian church at this time were come Jews who were holding on to their Judaism They were into genealogies and fables, that is mentioned in chapter 1 verse 4.  Chapter 1 verse 7 talks about the fact that they were into being teachers of the law, they wanted to be rabbis.  There is little doubt in anyone’s mind who studies 1 Timothy that there was an element within the church at Ephesus that was bringing a Judaistic mentality to the church.

And part of contemporary Jewish tradition of that day was low esteem for women.  Jewish tradition at the time of our Lord and the time of Paul had put women into a low profile position.  The mentality would be basically to keep them ignorant, barefoot, and pregnant.  That kind of thing.  Jewish men frankly, did not feel that women were a part of the learning process necessarily.  They were not forbidden to come to the synagogue.  They would come.  It was immaterial whether they did.  They could learn it was inconsequential whether they did.  They were not required by the traditions to attend the feasts.  They were not required to attend the festivals and most rabbis refused, upon meeting a woman to give her any kind of greeting at all The rabbis did not feel that they would waste their time instructing woman. Some of the rabbis actually said that teaching women is like throwing pearls to pigs, so there was a very depreciated view as a woman’s role as learner in spiritual matters.  They really had not significant place at all.  They could listen, but it was of little consequence whether they listened or whether they learned anything at all.  Now you can understand that this kind of thing existed in the early church when Judaism with its mentality encroached upon that.  And what happens in this situation no doubt in Ephesus is that there is a certain amount of suppression of women

That said, some of the false teachers were allowing women to lead worship, which Paul objected to, because it was never part of Old Testament worship or that of Christ’s ministry with the Apostles, for that matter. Recall that our Lord trained Paul himself through visions while the Apostle was in an African desert for three years.

So, we have women assuming authority, but Paul wants them to remain in the congregation — although he does want them to learn, quietly with all submissiveness (verse 11):

But before Paul gets into the details of how he corrects this, he starts by correcting this issue of whether women have a right to learn and he says basically, I command that the women be given the right to learn.

The women must be taught.  They must be discipled.  They must learn God’s truth.  It is essential to their spiritual life and it is essential to their role in the plan of God.  And here we find in that brief four-word statement in English, let the women learn, which is actually two words.  The word women and then the verb in the Greek, we find there the equality of the sexes in spiritual life and blessing.  And that’s what I want you to see as we begin.

Classic Old Testament Jewish worship included women along with men. I hadn’t known until now that women could take a Nazarite vow at that time. Samson, Samuel and John the Baptist took lifelong Nazarite vows. Paul took a few customary short-term ones:

In terms of spiritual life and blessing, men and women enjoy equality. Now, that isn’t anything new in the New Testament.  That was true in the Old Testament and I want to take a little bit of time to point that out to you.  In spite of Jewish tradition, the Old Testament did not teach the suppression of women in spiritual matters.  That was a non-biblical tradition.  The Old Testament elevated woman alongside men in an equal position of spiritual life and blessing, for example, in Exodus 19 and 20 God gave the law, you don’t need to look it up, but just remember it.  In Exodus 19 and 20, God gave the law, the Ten Commandments, and he gave those commandments to men and women.  And he promised to men and woman, those who obeyed would be blessed and those who disobeyed would be punished or cursed and that was given equally to men and women, therefore it was from the very beginning laid down by God that both men and women are responsible for their spiritual life and their obedience before God.  In Deuteronomy 6, where you have the Shema, the Lord our God is one.  The Lord is one, and then you have the instruction that you are to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.  That is not set apart only for men, that is for men and women.  And the families were to talk about it all the time, teach it to their children so that both the external Decalogue of Exodus 19 and 20 and the internal attitude of love toward God were required of men and women.

There was no difference in those areas.  In Exodus 12, when God ordained the Passover, which was the single greatest celebration in the calendar of the year for the Jews, that great celebration of God’s redemptive power in delivering them from Egypt, that was for men and women Both of them were to be involved not only in responsible Christian or responsible biblical behavior, responsible obedience, but they were also responsible to be engaged in the praise and the worship festivals of the people Men and women.  Further, it is interesting to me that throughout the Old Testament penalties given for sin were given equally for all people, men or women I was reading one of them this morning in Exodus chapter 21 versus 28 to 31, where it talks about what do you do to an ox who gores a man or a woman?  A manservant or a maidservant, a brother or a sister and this position of the animal and that case under the law of the God was the same.  In other words, God valued the life of a man and a life of a woman equally and the punishment of the animal that did that was the same in either case.  So they had equality on the spiritual level, in terms of spiritual responsibility to obey the law, they had equality on the level of worship and praise and the great convocations of Israel, and they also were equal in terms of the value of life as indicated in the sentences and penalties given in regard to sins against them both It is also very interesting to me that in the Old Testament, the single greatest spiritual vow, known as a Nazarite vow, a vow of separation.  That single greatest Nazarite vow, that is a vow of separation from the world A vow of devotion to God, which cut a person off from the world around them.  They took a great giant step of total consecration to God.  That Nazarite vow belonged not just to men, although we are most familiar with men who took it but also to women.

However, although Jewish women of the Old Testament era had opportunities for some types of ministry:

This does not mean that they had the same role as men.  And that is something that we must understand.

And let’s talk about that aspect of it.  There are no women kings listed in the kings of Israel and there are no women kings listed in the kings of Judah.  There are none.  It would seem to me that that is a fairly significant statement about leadership.  There are none.  There are no women priests in the entire Old Testament.  None.  There are no women who wrote a book or a portion of a book in the Old Testament.  None, 39 books, no one of them or even a portion of one of them, was written by a woman.  Though two are named after women, Ruth and Ester, they were not written by women.  There is no woman in the entire Old Testament who had an ongoing prophetic ministry.  That fascinates me as well.  There is no woman who had an ongoing prophetic ministry, who winds up in the Minor Prophets or the Major Prophets or who stands alongside Elijah, Elisha, or any other great teacher or leader of the Old Testament with an ongoing ministry. 

Now people today want to advocate woman preachers want to say, but there are several women mentioned as prophetess in the Old Testament.  That is correct, there are five and I would like you to listen carefully as I describe those five to you.  The first woman listed as a prophetess is Miriam.  Miriam is called a prophetess in Exodus 15:20.  Miriam is the sister of Moses.  She is called a prophetess because and only because she on one occasion lead the women of Israel in a great hymn of praise with timbrel and dance, wherein God gave her a revelation to speak, a very brief one But at that time, she was a mouthpiece for God.  God chose to speak to those women at that time of praise through her.

We know of no other occasion where she ever acted in a prophetic office, and had no ongoing prophetic ministry.  The word prophet or prophetess or to prophecy means to speak forth Obviously, having reference to speaking forth the Word of God on that occasion and she did that, but shows no ongoing prophetic work.  The second of the five women called prophetess is a woman named Deborah, who appears as a unique instrument of God in Judges chapter 4.  And verse 4, she is therefore called a prophetess only because she was used by God to give a direct revelation from God to man named Barak She gave that direct revelation on that unique occasion on the battle that was going on and thus, at that moment, she was a prophetess.  She was speaking on behalf of God.  God used her at that time to speak that message to an individual.  Miriam gave her prophecy to women, and Deborah spoke her prophecy basically to a man, but again, we know of no other occasion wherever she engaged herself in any kind of ongoing prophetic work.  The third woman mentioned and called prophetess is Huldah, h-u-l-d-a-h.  She is mentioned in 2 Kings 22:14 and following and 2 Chronicles 34:22 and following, parallel passages She is called a prophetess only because she was given a revelation from God as Deborah was to be given to Hilkiah the priest about the coming judgment on Jerusalem and Judah.  God spoke through her on that occasion.  We know of no other such occasion, none other is ever recorded about her and we know of no ongoing prophetic ministry.

The fourth woman called a prophetess is a woman named Noahdiah, and she is mentioned in Nehemiah 6:14 and is called a false prophetess.  So, we eliminate her.  She was antagonistic against the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem and would have been an ally of Sanballat and Tobiah and the enemies that tried to keep the Jews from rebuilding their city.  She was a false prophetess.  And there have been many woman false prophetesses to be sure. 

The fifth one mentioned is the wife of Isaiah and in Isaiah chapter 8 verse 3, his wife is called a prophetess, only because, she gave birth to a child whose name had prophetic meaning.  She never spoke a prophecy.  She simply gave birth to a child whose name had prophetic meaning and she is called a prophetess only in that sense.  Now you can see from that illustration of the wife of Isaiah, that the word prophetess was used in a somewhat general way.  So you have five mentioned.  One is a prophetess simply because she gave birth to a child whose name had a prophetic meaning, another is a false prophetess and three are called prophetess because on one occasion, they spoke a word on behalf of God, but there is, and I repeat again, no ongoing prophetic ministry of a woman in the Old Testament.

Now what does that tell us?  Without woman kings, without women priests and without woman authors of Scripture and without woman prophets we learn very much about God’s design for the role of man and women.  Please keep in mind that this is not to speak depreciating in any way, the woman’s spiritual capability.  It is talking about her role.  And we’ll fill that out as we go down through the rest of the passage.  No woman in the Old Testament is seen in an ongoing role of leadership under the authority and the plan of God or in any public preaching, teaching ministry.

The issue these days is a verse from Galatians which does pertain to equality, but only with regard to the open offer of salvation, not of ministry:

Let’s go to Galatians chapter 3.  And this is the passage that seems to be creating the controversy.  Galatians 3:28 and this is where people who advocate women ordination and woman elders and women preachers and all that, this is where they like to go.  There is neither Jew nor Greek.  There is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  Now, that’s pretty simple and I don’t have a problem with that and you don’t.  No one really should.  All it is saying we are all one in Christ, in what sense?  In what sense are we one in Christ?  Well, you need to read the context to find out what he’s talking about.  So you go back a little bit and you find out that he’s talking about salvation, you go back, for example, well, you could go back to verse 13, Christ has redeemed us.  And he talks a little about redemption.  You could go back to verse 22, the Scriptures concluded everybody under sin and then the promise by faith of Jesus Christ is given to them that believe and of course, that is another way to look at salvation, we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.  We are at the end of verse 24, justified by faith.  That is we are made right with God through our faith, verse 26, we are all the sons of God by faith in Christ Jesus, we have all been baptized into Christ.  We have put on Christ.  So the equality and the oneness he speaks of, listen carefully, is that we are all one in the sense of salvation.

You see that?  There is nothing to do with the role of a woman or a man.  We are all one in Christ.  The point is, everyone can come to Christ.  It doesn’t matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile, it doesn’t matter if you are a bond slave or a free man.  It doesn’t matter if you are man or a woman, you can all receive eternal life in Christ, is that not the obvious intent of the passage, of course, we are all sons of God.

We are all the seed of Abraham.  That is we are connected to Abraham who is sort of like the father of those who have faith.  We are all heirs, verse 6 of chapter 4.  We are all sons.  We all possess the Holy Spirit.  The whole passage before and after is talking about the wonderful reality of salvation in Christ which is available to all people, Jew, Gentile, bond, free, male, or female, that’s all it’s talking about.  It has nothing to do with the role of women in the church.  And it certainly doesn’t mean that when you become a Christian, all that is rubbed out

For example, in the New Testament, there is no woman preacher, none.  There is not a woman pastor/teacher.  There is not a woman elder, there is not a woman evangelist.  There is not a woman who wrote and you have 27 books in the New Testament, any portion of the New Testament.  All 66 books are written by men and the New Testament is consistent with God’s plan for women as revealed in the old.  No woman is an evangelist.  No woman is a preacher/teacher, no woman pastors a congregation.  No woman takes the role of an elder.  There is no recorded in the text of all the New Testament a sermon delivered by a woman or teaching given by a woman.  None.  They are not prophets, they are not evangelists, and so women will come along and say, but what about the four daughters of Philip in Acts 21:9 it says, and Philip had four daughters, virgins who did prophesy It does not say they were prophets.  It does not say they were evangelist.  It does not say they were missionaries.  It does not say they were elders.  It does not say they were pastor teachers.  It says they prophesied.  Some time, someplace like Deborah or Miriam by God’s design and God’s holy purpose, they gave a word from God.  We don’t know why or how.  We don’t know whether they spoke in unison like a quartet or whether they spoke independently of each other.  We just know that there was a time and a place that God spoke through them.  Listen, Mary, the mother of the Lord Jesus herself spoke prophetically when she received from the Word of God himself the response, you remember in the presence of Elizabeth and she poured out what is become known as her Magnificat, her glory to God.  She gives an utterance that is divine inspiration, in that sense, Mary prophesied, spoke forth, the word means.  Spoke forth the Word of God and I’m sure there were many occasions when other women spoke forth the Word of God.  In 1 Corinthians 11:5, it even says, a woman who prays or prophesies should have her head covered.  There were times and places for women to pray and to speak for the Word of God.

It says in Acts 2:17 that in the later times, quoting from Joel, women will prophesy.  It says your daughters will prophesy.  Your young men will dream dreams and your daughters will prophesy.  The words simply means speak forth.  There are times and places when women speak the Word of God.  I hope every woman in this church does that, but that is distinctly different than being identified as a pastor, teacher, elder, evangelist, apostles.  There are no woman apostles.  There are no women disciples, there are no woman pastors, evangelists, et cetera, et cetera, that has to be noted and no woman wrote any part of the New Testament Scripture.  They have different roles.  Does that mean that they were inadequate spiritually?  Not at all.  Not at all.

MacArthur tells us about the status of women among Gentiles from the Greek world:

Now remember, you have in the church of Ephesus, a gentile culture as the basic culture in which the church exists.  Asia Minor which is modern Turkey was a gentile place and women were ranked in gentile religion very low, very low.  In fact, if you were to go to the temple of Diana of the Ephesians of Ephesus, you would find hundreds and hundreds of priestesses there called “melissae” whose primary function was to act as prostitutes for the male worshipers.  They were chattel.  They were to be used and discarded.  Furthermore, any respectable Greek woman who was not some kind of prostitute, some kind of streetwalker led a very confined life She lived in her own quarters into no one but her husband could enter She had not even the privilege of appearing at the meal unless she was invited to be there.  She never at any time appeared on the street alone She never went to any public assembly and still less did she ever speak or take any active part in an assembly.

My counter to MacArthur’s assertions is that education has made a significant difference to women’s lives and opportunities. Women simply weren’t educated throughout history until relatively recently.

I leave it to readers to make up their own minds.

Returning to Paul and verse 11 concerning learning quietly and with all submissiveness, MacArthur says:

Two things there, they are to be silent and subject.  The word silence means just that hsuchia it just means silence We have to define what that is intended to say by the context.  The word subjection is from hupotass which means to line up under In other words, to get in their proper line and not rebel.  They are not to be unruly.  They are to get inline in their proper place.  So women are to learn in silence and get in line in their proper place. 

MacArthur says Paul is talking about women removing themselves or being removed from positions of teaching authority:

What do you mean Paul?  I mean, I don’t permit a woman to what?  Teach, that’s the silence issue, nor usurp authority.  That’s the subjection issue.  He defines exactly what he means.  What he means by the silence of a woman is that he does not permit a woman to take the role of teacher What he means by her subjection is, he does not permit her to rise, to usurp authority over men in the life of the church He doesn’t mean that the woman can’t sing a song.  He doesn’t mean that in an appropriate place, a woman cannot pray a prayer, he does not mean that she cannot offer praise to God at an appropriate time.  It does not mean that she cannot participate in worship It doesn’t mean that she can’t even ask a question when a question is called for in a proper spirit and a proper way.  What it means is that she is not to be the teacher and she is not to rebel against the role of submission which God has designed for her in the life of the church.

Paul was no doubt concerned about another factor, which was the very real Oracle of Delphi, who was alive at that same time. She lived in Delphi, across the bay from Corinth:

… you want to get an idea of what’s going on there, let me give you some background.  Right across the bay from Corinth is another city.  The name of that city is Delphi.  In the city of Delphi, there is a religious structure.  At the pinnacle of this religious structure is a woman by the name of Pythia.  She is known as the oracle of Delphi.  Have you ever heard that phrase?  She is known as the oracle of Delphi in this very time.  At the height of Delphic religion there were three such priestesses.  The dominant one that we know of in history is Pythia, this from Stuart Rossiter and his book on Greece in which he treats this whole thing.  This is a woman about 50 years of age and she is a medium who contacts demon spirits and everybody wants to know the future and everybody wants to know what it holds, and everybody wants to know the secrets and everybody wants to know how things are going to turn out and they want to know how to get rid of their problems and so forth and so forth and so everybody wants to go to get the oracle of Delphi to give them the truth

So it is a very popular religion controlled of course, by Satan and run through demons who speak to this medium and she gives out this stuff.  Now Rosseter in describing this tells us some very interesting things.  Someone who goes over there, first thing they do is make an animal sacrifice, it can be a sheep, a goat, a bear or some other animal.  They make an animal sacrifice well a few attendant priestesses stand around and evaluate the omens in the sacrifice.  I don’t know how they did that.  Maybe it had to do with the way the thing burned or the way the inside of the animal fell, some kind of omen.  If the omens were favorable, based on the evaluation of the sacrifice, the person could then come into the inner shrine.  No woman could ever be admitted into that, only men.  So the man would come in, let’s say the omens were good so they accepted a sacrifice so the man comes in.  He takes a tablet and on that tablet, he writes his request.  By the way, archeologists have dug up that area and found some of those tablets still intact, so we know something about what the people were asking. 

That tablet then as he waits in line is his consideration to be given to the oracle and finally, if all fortune goes well, he is ushered into the oracle.  She is sitting on a tripod.  Three legs going rather high over a huge chasm from which rises incense smelling heavy dense smoke.  And she is sitting over this chasm to answer this request.  Before she can take her throne she has to eat laurel [bay] leaves and she has to go through some kind of thing.  And then she gets up there and the request is taken and represented.  In response to the request, she gushes out some absolutely inarticulate babble.  Some kind of demon talk.  Standing beside her is a poet who interprets everything she says in perfect hexameter, which is a poetic form.  And that is the interpretation because nobody understands what she is saying And the person then hears a very obscure, a very confusing hexametric, poetic, bunch of babble from this guy that probably leaves them more confused than they were when they got there, but they have had an ecstatic experience and they have encountered the super natural.  Now think about that.  That’s right across the bay from Corinth.  Now in the church at Corinth, and Satan always counterfeits something that God does.  If God has a true gift of languages and a true gift of interpretation.  And a true gift of prophesying and speaking forth the Word of God, then Satan is going to move in as close as he can and counterfeit the whole thing.  And so you have got some people coming to the Corinthian assembly and what they are doing is mediumistic, occultic, demon kind of stuff, they are putting these same babbles that came out of the Delphic oracle and the same kind of obscure nonsensical prophetic things that are coming over there and they are doing it supposedly in the name of Christ and the church, some people in the church are doing the true gifts and the people in the church are not rightly evaluating it and what you have in Corinth is absolute confusion, some people actually standing up, claiming to have the gift of tongues, cursing Jesus Christ and being patted on the back for it, because it must be of God because it’s supernatural.

Now that is the background of 1 Corinthians.  Anybody is absolutely naive who comes into chapter 14 and starts reading about tongues and prophecy and doesn’t have that as background.  Paul is correcting all of that.  So the issue here in the Corinthian church was not only that there were woman who were flaunting their sexuality, we know there was terrible sex in the Corinthian church, wasn’t there?  Terrible sexual evil.  But here you have some women who are looking at religion that is all women, the Delphic thing and saying, boy we ought to be prominent in this religion too.  So they are pushing themselves into prominence by standing up and speaking in this unintelligible babble by standing up and giving their prophecies.  So when we come to this chapter look at verse 26, he says, what is going on with you?  When you come together, every one of you as a psalm, a doctrine, or a teaching, a tongue, a revelation, interpretation, let everything be done decently and in order.  Get this mess straightened out.  And then he says, no more than two or three people in tongues, never without an interpreter, don’t let the prophets speak except two or three of them and everybody evaluate them to see if they really know the lord, they really speak the truth.  Get this thing together, verse 33 because God is not the author of what?  Confusion.  And then in verse 34 he said, let the women keep silent, keep silent about what?  Well, it’s obvious, speaking publicly in the assembly of the church either in ecstatic speech or prophecy.  So if we look at 1 Timothy, we see that women are not to preach or teach.  If we look at 1 Corinthians 14:34 and 35, we can conclude women very simply woman are not to speak in tongues and women are not to give prophecies in the church.  They are not to speak forth in the church.  Why?  It’s not permitted.  Why?  They are to be under obedience.  Why?  The law of God says that.  Here is comes, it is indecent for women to speak in the church.  It’s not indecent for women to speak.  Speak all you want, unless you are usurping the role of authority, unless you are taking leadership in the church, this is so clear.  So what are we saying then, when it comes to the meeting of the church together, women are not to preach or teach.  They are not to speak forth the Word of God.  They are not to speak in ecstatic speech.  Obviously, the sum of those things is to say that the church when it comes together is to be spoken to by men.  That’s just God’s way.

As such, Paul says that he does not permit a woman to teach or excercise authority over a man; she is to remain quiet (verse 12).

MacArthur sums that verse up:

Silence, you’ll remember, refers to not teaching It refers to not teaching.  Subjection refers to not ruling.  That is, women in the church are not to be the teachers when the church assembles itself in its constituted worship, women are not to be the teaching persons, and they are not to be the ruling ones The context makes it very clear that that’s what he has in mind because verse 12 says, “I permit not a woman to teach,” and therein does he define the kind of silence he’s talking about, nor to usurp authority, and therein does he define the kind of subjection he is talking about.  In the assembly of the church women are not to teach and preach, and they are not to rule.  Now, there’s no doubt that that’s exactly what he is saying.  Obviously in Ephesus some were seeking to do both of those things and that’s why he has to deal with this. 

Then Paul revisits Adam, Eve and Original Sin. Paul rightly says that Adam was formed first, then Eve (verse 13).

Henry says:

… Adam was first formed, then Eve out of him, to denote her subordination to him and dependence upon him; and that she was made for him, to be a help-meet for him.

Paul adds that Adam was not deceived, but Eve was and ‘became a transgressor’ (verse 14).

Henry reminds us what happened next in Genesis:

And as she was last in the creation, which is one reason for her subjection, so she was first in the transgression, and that is another reason. Adam was not deceived, that is, not first; the serpent did not immediately set upon him, but the woman was first in the transgression (2 Cor 11 3), and it was part of the sentence, Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee, Gen 3 16.

Thus began what used to be known as ‘the war between the sexes’, a dominant sociological theme between the 1960s and the 1980s. It has existed throughout history and has never been resolved.

Finally, Paul says that the woman will be saved through childbearing (verse 15).

MacArthur says:

What we have to understand here is that all women are delivered.  Now, listen carefully.  All women are delivered from the stigma of having caused the Fall of the race by childbearing.  In other words, women led in the Fall, but by the wonderful grace of God they are released from the stigma of that through childbearing.  What’s the point?  Listen carefully.  They may have caused the race to fall by stepping out of their God-intended design, but they also are given the priority responsibility of raising a godly seed.  You understand that?  That’s the balance.  Not soul salvation, not spiritual birth, but women are delivered from being left in a second-class permanently stigmatized situation for the violation of the garden.  They are delivered from being thought of as permanently weak, and deceivable, and insubordinate.  Can you imagine what it would be like if men had babies, and all women ever contributed to the human race was the Fall?  The balance of it: women led the race into sin, but bless God; God has given them the privilege of leading the race out of sin to godliness.

This has been an extremely difficult post to write.

Next time, Paul explains the qualities of a church leader.

Next week — 1 Timothy 3:1-7



Continuing my occasional columns on dating, The Guardian had an interesting agony aunt column last week about a woman who wondered why her libido had decreased in her relationship with her ‘gorgeous … soulmate’.

Instead, she prefers cuddling and snuggling with him.

Pamela Stephenson Connolly — psychologist, actress and comedian Billy Connolly’s wife — replied, in part:

In the past you found casual sex inspiring, but in a lasting relationship you will have to discover how to have satisfying sex without the thrill of a one-night stand. If there is genuine attraction between you and your current partner, this should be possible. If, however, your current situation is a relationship based more on a fantasy of what you think you want, it may not develop.

Yes, there is a frisson in an encounter where something forbidden is involved. Furthermore, the woman says in her letter that, prior to meeting her current beau, she had mere ‘situationships’ based on sexual congress. Men did not treat her well.

Now she has the real deal: a man who loves her for herself.

This is what I think is happening. Unlike Pamela Stephenson Connolly, I am not word-restricted. Also, unlike her, I am not a psychologist or a counsellor.

My thoughts are based purely on common sense.

It sounds to me as if this woman felt that she had to use her sexuality to attract a man. It is a working, rather than a winning, formula.

As such, the formula became a habit for her.

Suddenly, she no longer has to do that. So far, she has not had to do that for ten months. She is with a man who loves her as a person rather than as an object.

Part of her is finding it hard to adjust to a relationship based on appreciation from her boyfriend. She doesn’t behave with him the way she did in her situationships. It feels wrong because she is breaking what seems to have been a long-standing habit, possibly a deeply ingrained one.

The other part of her is relieved that she no longer has to behave as she previously did. She says she enjoys relaxing with her boyfriend. She enjoys his kisses and cuddles. She enjoys their conversations. Sexual congress is now taking a back seat for her, relatively speaking. It’s a new experience — and a new behavioural pattern — for her.

Through this relationship, she is making up for lost time, the hollowness she previously had. He is able to express his affection for her and she’s loving it. He’s filling that gap.

At long last, she is getting the emotional blanket of warmth she never had from her situationships.

Bottom line: true love is not necessarily exciting or thrilling. Instead, most often, it feels warm and cosy, all-encompassing, emotionally satisfying. It doesn’t raise worry or anxiety. It offers affirmation and reassurance.

She should give herself time to adjust accordingly. It might take several more months, perhaps longer.

I wish this lady, age unspecified, all the best with her boyfriend and hope that she sticks with him. He sounds like a prince of a fellow.

Those who have missed the first two parts in this series can read them here and here.

Job interview mindset

As I wrote yesterday, think of dating as a type of job interview. Be friendly yet impartial, because not every first or second date will be a success.

Julia Samuel, a therapist, recently explained the work mindset for The TimesIt involves setting emotional boundaries (emphases mine):

We need to bring a different — not robotic — but more robust version of ourselves to work. Work doesn’t need our “whole self” it needs our “work self”. When life is tough, having the familiar structure and purpose of work can save us. Switching off our inner distress at work — maintaining a “stiff upper lip”can be a healthy way to operate. We can switch back to dealing with our problems in the appropriate environment and may have a different, clearer response having had a break from ourselves.

Given the turbulence in the world, finding ways to balance ourselves and not pathologise normal feelings is key. Having the capacity to move between emotional states in different places is helpful for us individually and collectively.

“Private” and “professional” are useful descriptors that support us to recognise the boundary between work and home.

In 2014, Christian Rudder, one of OkCupid’s founders, wrote an article for The Guardian: ‘Seven secrets of dating from the experts at OkCupid’.

He says that data were important to him and the site’s other founders from the beginning:

I was one of the founders of OkCupid, a dating website that, over a very unbubbly long haul of 10 years, has become one of the largest in the world. I started it with three friends. We were all mathematically minded, and the site succeeded in large part because we applied that mindset to dating. I have led OkCupid’s analytics team since 2009, and my job is to make sense of the data our users create. Playing with the numbers helps us run our site. But as people bring technology deeper and deeper into their lives, it can show us profound and ridiculous things about who we are as human beings. Here are just a few examples.

What stood out was the very real comparison between dating sites and job sites. He posts charts and graphs to illustrate his points:

Every dating site has to have a way to measure how good-looking its users are. This helps keep the site healthy – you’re able to make sure nobody’s getting too much attention, make sure no one’s getting ignored. Unfortunately, despite our efforts, people still gravitate to the best-looking people

He then examines data from ShiftGig, a jobs site:

In either case, the male candidates’ curves are a flat line – a man’s looks have no effect on his prospectsand the female graphs are exponential. So these women are treated as if they’re on OkCupid, even though they’re looking for employment. Male HR reps weigh the female applicants’ beauty as they would in a romantic setting – which is either depressing or very, very exciting, if you’re a sexual discrimination lawyer. And female employers view it through the same (seemingly sexualised) lens, despite there (typically) being no romantic intent.

OkCupid’s analysts must have a field day with all their data. This, too, is interesting:

OkCupid matches people by asking them questions – we ask pretty much everything (from how often you brush your teeth, to whether you believe in God) – and the user answers on average about 300 of them. The site lets you decide the importance of each question you answer, and you can pinpoint the answers that you would (and would not) accept from a potential match.

People tend to run wild with those match questions, marking all kinds of stuff as “mandatory”, in essence putting a checklist to the world: I’m looking for a dog-loving, agnostic, nonsmoking liberal who’s never had kids – and who’s good in bed, of course. But very workaday questions like: “Do you like scary movies?” and: “Have you ever travelled alone to another country?” have amazing predictive power. If you’re ever stumped on what to ask someone on a first date, try those. In about three-quarters of the long-term couples OkCupid has brought together, both people have answered them the same way, either both “yes” or both “no”. That’s much, much higher than the expected rate, since both questions evenly split our user base. In fact, successful couples agree on scary movies – either they both like them or they both hate them – about as often as they agree on the existence of God.

Caution on public transport

In March 2022, London’s mayor Sadiq Khan banned staring on the Tube. It was his way of confirming an October 2021 Transport for London (TfL) campaign about sexual harassment.

On March 10 that year, The Telegraph reported:

Staring is sexual harassment, London commuters have been warned, as police and the Mayor told train passengers not to look at each other in an “intrusive” manner … 

TfL, which launched the campaign in October last year, said it aims to “send a strong message to offenders that sexual harassment is not tolerated on TfL’s services”.

“Sexual harassment is a form of violence, most often directed against women and girls in public places,” the transport network said in October … 

“The campaign aims to challenge the normalisation and dismissal of this behaviour as ‘something that happens’ to women and girls on public transport and in other public spaces, making it clear that it is never acceptable and that the strongest possible action will always be taken.”

Yet, in January 2023, TfL posted an advertisement for an app called Genie Connect, which enables Underground passengers to exchange a friendly message, presumably after eyeing each other during their journey. The reply shows the risk involved with unwanted attention:

First date red flags

On October 15, 2022, The Guardian listed 56 red flags on a first date.

I was surprised to find that constantly checking one’s mobile phone wasn’t on the list. That would be my No. 1 turnoff if I were ever going on a first date again.

Justin Myers, the author, probably doesn’t mind phone activity.

In introducing his list, he says:

The clueless romantics among us may struggle to identify ostensibly harmless behaviour as a sign of impending doom, but it all starts with the first date. Can you really tell from the way someone acts that dating them would be your biggest mistake since the night of the seven absinthes? Having observed more courting couples than I care to remember, these are the little red flags no self-respecting singleton can afford to ignore.

Most of the red flags involve a dinner date, beginning with first impressions (green bold emphases in the original):

Looks very different from their profile photos
Our digital mugshots benefit from a brightening filter or dab of the healing brush tool, true, but on a dating app, you must look like yourself, in photos taken within the last year. It’s like people (men) who lie about their height, with 6ft being the default, even for those who stand on a box to reach their bathroom sink. If they can create such an outrageous lie destined to be uncovered within seconds of meeting, what else might they feel comfortable lying about?

Orders something to share
Small plates, with cutlery, napkins and hand sanitiser nearby – fine. It can be fun to discuss what you’re trying, or arm wrestle over the last of the albondigas. But as for the “’scuse my fingers” horror, poking into a mound of sloppy nachos, or, reddest of all flags, a bag of crisps torn open into a greasy foil lotus for you to “help yourself” – I would rather die.

‘I’m not like other guys’
You are, in fact, just like other guys, because all guys say this.

I’m not the jealous type’
Say you need the bathroom and leave by the fire exit.

Reverts every story you tell back to them very quickly
Usually, what they’re saying will have nothing to do with what you were talking about. They’re not having a conversation, they’re broadcasting, and that’s never going to change.

Is overfamiliar
A first date thrives on warmth and relatability, but there are boundaries; you’re in a job interview in all but name. Asking for selfies, or adding you on social media before pudding, denotes a people collector, which would make going to festivals with them intolerable. But if you actually met on social media, they know everything about you anyway; this date could’ve been an email.

Pressures you into agreeing to a second date before the first date is even over
They’re probably worried you’ll catch a terminal case of buyer’s regret in the cab home. A second date plan should be made sober, and electronically, at a distance, so you can pull a face while thinking, message friends, consult your crystals, run all your options past the team working the Large Hadron Collider, whatever.

Future red flags

The article goes on to list other red flags on future dates.

Those who have read and absorbed the content from Part 2 in this series should be able to avoid dating people who exhibit the following:

Almost sounds nice, like a bath bomb, maybe, or a chocolate bombe. Nope. Lovebombing is a dangerous plutonium blast of love, affection and commitment. Saying “I love you” far too soon, going overboard on gifts or romantic surprises, introducing you to parents or their best friends before it feels natural, angling to move in together before they even know how many fillings you’ve got. Hurtling into the next stage of the relationship suggests they’re more into the idea of you than the reality. The first cogs of commitment clunk into place while you’re still getting to know each other, which means when the fever lifts and the romance fades, you’re stuck in the loveless prison that initial fervour built for you.

Another depressing buzzword of the modern age, a breadcrumber will message you regularly to keep you interested but will be vague about meeting. This is likely to mean they’re “benching” you: keeping you on standby in case something they’re really invested in doesn’t work out.

Needs constant reassurance that you like them
Previous relationships leave scars on us all, and who knows what emotional traumas lurk beneath? If you’re not the supportive type who can help them overcome their insecurities, you may be better bailing out before you make them worse. And, no, “I’m still here, aren’t I?” isn’t enough

Tells you they didn’t like you when they first met you, but really like you now
A compliment so backhanded it leaves knuckle marks. They’re not boosting you, they’re trying to make you feel small, and leave you panicking that you come across as an arsehole when you meet people for the first time. (Even if you are, this feels more like a them problem than a you problem, am I right? We can’t all exude warmth or be instantly adored. Some of us are an acquired taste, like olives, or immersive theatre.)

The complexity of the dinner date

On January 13, 2023, The Guardian posted ‘”It’s just so intense and awkward”: the death of the dinner date’.

This was sad to read about, because, speaking as a foodie, what’s better than a dinner date? While you’re enjoying what you’ve ordered, you can scope out your date’s food preferences and their table manners, important social indicators for a relationship’s future.

The article says:

Whether for financial reasons, the pressure of time or because today’s daters want something more daring, dinner dates, it seems, are dead. A survey by the dating site Match suggests the financial crisis is playing a large part, with 40% of those it polled saying the cost of living crisis meant they were going on fewer dates, and more than a fifth saying they would be put off if someone suggested an expensive dinner, as it would mean they weren’t compatible financially.

However, dinner does not need to be expensive.

Furthermore, why not opt for a late weekend breakfast at a local café or a pub lunch instead?

This article makes me think that sharing a meal together early in a potential relationship is mandatory:

… there’s the always awkward question of who pays, which, if you’re straight, is made even harder to navigate by changing gender expectations, says Mike, 31. He has only ever had one dinner date: “When the bill came, she kind of expected me to take it. And I said, don’t you think it’d be fair to split it?” The woman told him it was “kind of unsexy” that he hadn’t offered, but they eventually each paid their share. Things didn’t go any further.

“A dinner date just sounds to me like I’m wearing a suit without a tie and she’s wearing a dress, and I pull out the chair behind her,” says Mike. “It’s not something I have ever done or would do.”

Dear, oh dear. That’s telling, very telling. Foodie girls should avoid Mike.

Then there’s this:

Changes in dating habits may seem inconsequential, but they’re anything but, says Dr Julia Carter, a senior lecturer in sociology at UWE Bristol who researches romantic relationships. “It’s not trivial because it tells us something about what’s happening in society.

“The idea of a dinner date feels quite traditional to us now, that idea of a man asking a woman out. Actually a lot has happened in our society [since that was the norm]. Dating is one of those aspects where women are starting to assert themselves much more than would have been expected in the past.”

Dinner is also very public, she says. “One of the changes we talk about sociologically is that dating has become much more privatised. Thanks to dating apps, people tend to be sitting in their rooms on their own flicking through profiles, where in the past you may have had a social group where you’d all chat [about who you are dating]. So perhaps more private activities are preferred when you go on a date. Going to the park is much more private than having a meal in front of an audience in a restaurant.”

Is  it? The last place I would want to be on a date is in a park — unless food follows. And it should follow relatively quickly.

One middle-aged dater says that going on a date is like going on a job interview. Well said — and I can see her point about going for a drink instead:

For Corinne, 51 and back in the dating game after the end of her marriage, “there are so many similarities between dating and finding a job”. If thousands send in a CV, she says, “the first step is like a screening, when the headhunters call you up just to check you out. You want to quickly assess whether this is something that is worth exploring or not. And an initial drink is the quickest way to get that over.”

In that situation, she says, you definitely don’t go to dinner. “That’s because you’re meeting strangers, and you don’t know whether you’re going to like them. You want a situation where you can quickly move on.”

However, for foodies, going on a dinner date early on reveals a lot. One soon finds out if one is dating a fellow foodie or someone for whom ‘food is fuel’, full stop.

The things men say, or don’t say

Matthew Hussey, author and YouTuber of Get the Guy has excellent posts for women.

Any woman reading this who is already in a suitable relationship or a good marriage should read this in order to pass it along to family members or good friends who are still looking for lasting love.

What follows is painfully accurate, but any woman who knows about these things can get over her own pain much more easily.


I’m sure there was a word for ‘ghosted’ before social media became the norm. ‘Dropped’ and ‘dumped’ come to mind, sometimes preceded by ‘unceremoniously’.

Hussey gives his advice on ghosting. It’s a bit of tough love, as the ghosted one really does have to get over it, as he tells an anonymous woman whom he has dubbed ‘Deborah’. She wanted closure, and she didn’t get it, which put dozens of questions in her mind:

If you are able to go on Instagram and see that they’re still living their life and that they’re not dead, then you have your answer about this person. That should be a moment where you actually can set them aside. That should be a moment where continuing to agonize over the situation and follow the thoughts of, “But what happened? Why did they suddenly ghost me? Why aren’t they getting back to me? What could I have done so wrong?” That is a form of rumination that is simply scratching the wound.

Our mind can, in situations like that, look for story, you see it in Deborah’s message, she’s looking for that story. Maybe is he struggling with our situationship? Is he thinking about it and there’s something holding him back? That’s attributing story to a situation that doesn’t need to be that complicated. Occam’s razor, the idea that the explanation that requires the least variables is the most likely explanation. In other words, the simplest explanation is the one you should go with.

In this case, the simplest explanation is that this person, for whatever reason, decided that they don’t want to continue, or that they’re not interested, or that they can’t give you what you want. And in that moment, instead of communicating with you about that, decided to take the easiest possible way out that had no regard for your feelings. That’s the simple explanation. It doesn’t need more thought than that.

And, yes, this used to happen in the old days, too.

Hussey says that, even if this man hadn’t ghosted Deborah, he would have been a poor match for her:

I would go as far as to say, if this person really liked you, it still wouldn’t matter. They’d still be a terrible person to be with because if the person that’s capable of ghosting you like that really liked you, that would still be a trait they have. It would still be a way they react when they’re not interested. Do you see that? So even if you got your wish and this person really liked you and went after you in the way that you wanted them to, the likelihood is that would just blind you to this quality that they have when they’re not interested. That would still make them a terrible person for you to be with because that person is a very dangerous person to be with.

You don’t get loyalty with those people. You can’t build trust with those people. You don’t get consistency with those people. You certainly don’t get good treatment when that person sees you as no longer valuable to them. What you are really seeing in that moment is what does someone do when they’ve decided you’re no longer valuable to them, or when they don’t need you, or when something different comes along that arrests their attention? What happens to you? What happens to anyone? Forget you. What happens to anyone in a situation like that that’s in their life?

And that’s really good information, that’s important information to know. You almost have to remove the you from it because the I is the ego in it. How could they do this to me? How could we go from having the connection we had to suddenly, I am not even worthy of an explanation? The me in it, the I it that’s all the ego. But what we have to do is go, “Oh no, what this really is a representation of how this person treats people.” And that should be an incredible turnoff, should be seen as a dodged bullet. It should be seen as in itself a form of closure because I would never want to be with a person who is able to do this, or who’s in a stage of their life where they can’t see that this is really distasteful and bad behavior.

And I’m going to push back here, Deborah. And you sent me a message with love, I’m going to send you a message back with love, but it’s going to be a tough message. I think that your email to me was a bit of a cop-out. I think it was your way of giving yourself a license to keep thinking about this person that doesn’t deserve for you to keep thinking about them

Deborah, you said you had a two-month relationship, two months. And you said there was some misunderstandings along the way. Who knows if it was even a relationship from what you’ve said. But there was someone that was on your radar for two months. And then, they ghosted you and now they’re still on your radar in a big way. Enough for you to email me about this person because you’re in pain and the confusion of it.

This, to me, is not someone that’s worth your life. But you’re making them worthy of it

There are so many stories you could be living, the real tragedy is when we are continuing to play out this story that’s not interesting that has finished, by the way, there’s your closure. It finished. We made a video recently on the nine confusing things men say and what they really mean. Well, of all the confusing things men say, ghosting isn’t one of them. Ghosting is pretty obvious. It’s pretty direct, it’s pretty clear-cut. Our job is to give ourselves the closure so that we can go and live one of those other interesting stories.

The reason I say that what you said is a cop-out is because you’ve made this person responsible for your ability to move on. You’ve given them that power, I can’t move on until I get some kind of explanation and figure this out. Life isn’t that simple. We don’t always get the closure that we want. In fact, a lot of life doesn’t give us the closure that we want. How many people out there watching this video have a parent, nevermind a parent that died that they never felt they got closure from? How many people watching this video have a parent who’s still alive that they get no closure from? A parent, that they don’t feel seen by? A parent that will never truly understand them? Or they’ll never have that great turnaround that you always wished they would have? How many people watching this video will never get that closure? Life is like that

9 confusing things men say — signs of trouble

In his response to Deborah, Hussey mentioned his post and video, ‘9 Confusing Things Men Say (DECODED)’. Excerpts follow:

“You’re the kind of girl you marry, not the kind of girl you date.”

that to me is a way of saying, “And I’m the kind of person who’s only willing to date right now, and therefore I can’t proceed with you.” It might also, if I’m being really honest, be a kind of cue that this person isn’t sexually attracted. “You have wonderful qualities, but I don’t feel that chemistry with you. Otherwise, I’d be trying to jump you right now.”

“I like you too much to be with you.”

… That says to me, “I am absolutely 100% going to hurt you.” I like you too much to be with you is a way of saying, “I’m not really looking for anything serious, so I’m not going to invest in you in any real way, but I do like you. I like you enough that we should probably keep having sex, but I don’t want to go any further than that with you.” But it’s also, again, notice the pattern here, the flattery. “I like you too much to be with you.” Notice it’s flattery, but it’s confusing flattery. If you think about it, it’s quite clever because it says, I’m flattering you. I’m dazzling you with a compliment at the same time as telling you that I can’t give you any more than I’m giving you right now. So I’m simultaneously piquing your interest and giving you a reason to keep trying with me while excusing myself from trying it all with you.

“‘I haven’t loved you these past two years. I was lying to both of us.’ They then ended things and two weeks later he came back and said, ‘I need you in my life. I love you. Let’s try again.’”

… I don’t think he went back out of love. I think he went back out of fear and told you it was love.

The problem with what he said is he said, “For two years I’ve been lying to you and myself.” So now you’ve got in your head that for two years you’ve not been living the same reality as me. How do you recover from that in two weeks? Has he done all the healing necessary in the space of two weeks? I don’t think so. I think he panicked. I think nothing has changed on his side and someone like that, if they are let back in, should be let back in incredibly slowly.

“Let’s just take it day by day.”

Well, look, firstly, that’s the sort of thing that sounds completely rational. It sounds like the voice of reason at the very beginning of dating … But if at the point where you are starting to, or there’s this sort of expectation that you behave like a girlfriend, and that means seeing them regularly, it means comforting them on bad days, it means coming over on a sick day and bringing this person soup, it means meeting each other’s friends or family, it means being involved on a consistent basis in each other’s lives. And when you try to ask where this is going, that person says, “Let’s just take it day by day,” that is someone who wants you very much to live in the present because the present is all they can offer you. They are not looking for a relationship. They are looking for an experience.

“We aren’t really dating, dating.”

There’s no intention behind this. This is just you and me getting to a place, getting to a room where it’s appropriate for us to take our clothes off.

“You’re too independent.”

That says to me, “I am used to feeling important by being with someone who is in need, whether it’s financially, whether it’s psychologically, they’ve got some kind of issue or challenge in their life, and I have some kind of power by what I can give, and that’s what makes me feel important. That’s what feeds my ego. That’s what makes me feel safe and indispensable … I don’t have leverage over you in the way that I’m used to, that I am leavable, that I am dispensable and that makes me feel unsafe and therefore the stakes feel too high in this situation. I need to go to a place where I can feel important and powerful again.”

“I can’t get away with bullshit with you. You’re too smart.”

… it’s a way of saying, “Look at you. You’ve got me all figured out,” while over here I continue to bullshit you.

“I can’t give you a title, but I act like your boyfriend. Aren’t actions enough for you?”

We used to say all the time, and I still believe this, watch someone’s actions, not their words. If someone treats you really badly all the time but says, “I love you,” their actions are what matter. You say you love me, but you treat me horribly. That’s what matters. But there is an addendum to that. When someone is giving you the treatment you think you want, but their words say something undesirable, especially if that undesirable thing they’re saying should hurt their chances of getting a good result with you, you should believe that thing. And what he said falls into that latter category. He said, “I can’t give you a title, but I act like your boyfriend. Aren’t actions enough for you?” This is him playing on the logic that actions mean more than words, but in this case, his words mean everything because his words give away his true intentions.

… When this person says, “I don’t want to give us a title,” what they’re saying is, “I want to experience being in a relationship, but I don’t want any of the commitment of being in one, and I want to make sure that I can leave this easily at any time because I don’t actually want anything with you in the future.” At worst, “I want to be able to sleep with other people. And I think by not giving us a title, I can still do that.” At best, “I’m being monogamous with you, but I have a deep-seated aversion to any real commitment or any real idea of building something. So I am liable to hurt you down the line when I realize that this is all too much.”

“It’s not you, it’s me.”

Any time someone acts really complicated, for good or bad reason, remember that for the worst kinds of people, or even just for the kind of lightly manipulative people, or the people that are just kind of selfish, being complicated actually works because if I think you’re amazing. You’re just so great. I just can’t. You’re perfect. You’re marriage material, you’re incredible. I like you so much. I just can’t because of blah, blah, blah. Complication, complication, complication. Remember that people who give you complications, people who confuse you, they are achieving something very often with that confusion. It’s a bit like if I give you a riddle, you’re so distracted by the riddle and how to figure that out, how to get past this confusion that I’m feeling, or this hurt that I’ve been through in my life, or these complications in my feelings. If you’re busy with that, then you’re not paying attention to how little I’m actually giving you. And for a lot of people, that’s exactly what they’re trying to achieve. Let me distract you from how little I’m giving you by giving you this complicated scenario that your mind is now going to go to work on.

Those are all danger signs. Therefore: terminate, terminate and move on, quickly.

Avoiding commitment: the possible relationship ‘with the right person’

Hussey also has a post, ‘The #1 Thing Men Say to Avoid Commitment’.

To be honest, women are rather good at saying that, too, so it’s also pertinent to men.

Hussey explains:

You say to them, “What do you think about relationships?” They say, “I could be open to a relationship with the right person.” Now, some people may be saying this sincerely. I could imagine someone saying, “Yeah, I’m open to a relationship with the right person.” Or I could imagine the swindley who says, “I could be open to a relationship with the right person. I could be an astronaut, I could be a pillow, I could be a Pokemon, I could be anything, you see. I could be a dancer.”

When that person says it, it’s exploiting a loophole that says yeah, there’s a possibility. Now let’s not talk about it anymore. With that person, you can find yourself going down the path of dating them. Also, it’s not just that they placated you by saying that. It’s that in the back of your mind, it’s a way of pushing off any difficult conversations yourself. ‘Cause if you really want to… We are a biased judge, aren’t we? If we really want to see someone, if we have a lot of chemistry with someone, if we’re excited about them, we’re looking for excuses to see them. So when they say, “Yeah, you know it’s possible.” We go, it’s possible. Now I can go and have sex with them.

So I want you to be very careful. It’s okay to continue to see a person like this, but don’t let the blind hope of something they said early on stop you from measuring the actual progress or lack of progress that you are seeing in those first couple of months. Progress means there’s more consistent communication as time goes on. More frequent, there’s more of it. You feel like you’re getting closer, you feel like you’re getting more comfortable with each other. You feel like you’re being more vulnerable with each other. You’re letting them in. They’re letting you in. Progress looks like him actually inviting you into his world, into what I think of as the constants in his life.

When someone is trying to keep you at arm’s length, often they won’t bring you around the constants in their life. The things that it would be more difficult to extricate you from if it was to end tomorrow. So it could be stuff that’s to do with their work. It could be stuff that’s to do with their friendships or their family. They won’t bring you into that inner circle because it makes for an easier exit the moment they don’t want to put in any more effort. The moment they don’t want to see you again. It works for them to be able to pick you up and put you down at their leisure.

The third way that you can measure progress is whether you’ve actually been able to have a conversation about not seeing other people, exclusivity. Are we temporarily cutting off our other options in order to focus on each other to see what this might become? If you’re not feeling any of those three things, then there’s likely not much progress in the relationship. It’s probably a situation where this person calls you when they want to see you and then is off living their life the rest of the time until they need their next hit.

At that point, you’ve got to be able to say to them, “Hey, I am really enjoying spending time with you when we spend time together. And I know that, for me, I’m looking for a relationship with the right person. And I know you said you were open to a relationship with the right person, but I don’t feel that there’s any progress between us. So it leaves me wondering whether anything has actually shifted for you in the sense of seeing what this can be together or whether nothing’s changed that.”

Tells that person exactly where you stand …

We have to be willing to have that difficult conversation. Remember, if you are looking for a great relationship with the right person, the right person to you is not just someone you are charmed by. It’s not just someone that you think highly of. It’s someone who’s ready. The right person is both right and ready and if they’re not ready, they can’t be right. Someone demonstrates their readiness by actual progression that is seen through their actions, by the ways they invest in moving things forward with you.

People who moan online

I was horrified to read a Times article dated January 16, 2023, about people, mostly women, who post their dating statistics online.

Apparently, it’s the latest thing. It’s more of a moan than a boast. I do not understand this at all. Why would someone want to reveal so much to the world?

In ‘Dating Wrapped: my love life as a PowerPoint slideshow’, Olivia Petter attempts to explain:

When it comes to ways to reflect on the year that’s just past, among the strangest is to count the number of times you have been dumped. Or the hours you have spent agonising over an ex. Or looking at perfect pictures of them — and their new partner — on Instagram. And yet that’s exactly what twentysomethings like myself are doing.

Introducing “Dating Wrapped”, a social media trend that has seen people sharing their romantic highs and lows from last year online. Constructed in the style of its musical counterpart, Spotify Wrapped (an annual round-up of individual users’ listening habits compiled by the streaming service), this exercise has people charting all the things they have — and have not done — in love over the year by way of intricately detailed PowerPoint presentations, delivered to camera and posted on TikTok.

Suffice to say, people are taking it rather seriously. Take the TikTok user Alexandria McLean, whose Dating Wrapped slideshow went viral last month. There were 21 dates in total — 66 per cent of whom she had met on Bumble, 33 per cent on Hinge. Out of those people, 19 per cent ended things with her. She only cried over two of them, though.

Others have made more startling revelations during the process, like the TikTok user Gianna Giovi, whose presentation featured a graph of the number of dates she went on. “Ten of them I was just using for food,” she confessed.

It’s not just women on the Dating Wrapped scene. There’s also the model Chris Olsen, who created a scatter chart featuring all the men he dated in the year — the metrics were “datability” versus “hotness”.

That has so many possible negative ramifications, including with potential employers.

Act in haste, repent at leisure.

Online daters who went offline — successfully

On Wednesday, January 18, The Guardian featured an article, ‘Dating burnout: meet the people who ditched the apps — and found love offline’.

The people interviewed are solidly middle class with good careers and have expanded networks of interests and people, e.g. the music business. Some of them already knew each other on a professional or personal level.

The most interesting story was of the woman who met her boyfriend through her personal trainer:

Rebecca Oliver, 32, a marketing manager from Cheshire, has encountered a lot of dishonest men online …

During the summer of 2021, she threw in the towel on apps and began to focus on herself. “I spent a lot of time getting fit instead,” she says. “Then, later that year, my trainer asked if I’d like to be introduced to a friend of his who I might like.” She was set up on a blind date with Javier Ojeda, 45, who owns a property development business and also lives in Cheshire. “I had more trust in the relationship straight away, because it felt like he came with a seal of approval,” she says.

Javier, who has never tried internet dating, says the concept seems too contrived. “It’s all well and good swiping, but I like introducing myself to someone in person,” he says. “As soon as I met Rebecca, it was obvious that it was going to have some legs.” Within six weeks, they were using a shared calendar; they soon met each other’s friends and family. “We got a puppy together five months later and Rebecca moved in last year. It grew really quickly, but in a very organic way,” he says.

She also believes that meeting through a friend meant they were less inhibited by dating rules. “On apps, people are dating lots of others, so you feel as though you have to follow a certain schedule before you can have a conversation about exclusivity. That didn’t happen offline.”

Good for them and for the other couples.

It’s a shame that Guardian Soulmates is no longer around. Many people formed successful partnerships thanks to that site.

On the other hand, one can equally meet a nutter in offline life.

My advice would be to keep an open outlook and perfect one’s profile to match with someone of a similar outlook rather than the 90 per cent.


As I wrote previously, life isn’t easy. Nothing is easy, because we live in a fallen world.

Therefore, there is no reason why dating should be easy. For some reason, however, for the past 100 years, there seems to be an unwritten assumption that dating and love are simple.

If some of us gave dating and love the same careful attention we do to our work, our worship and our friendships, we would probably see them in a more considered way — very differently.

Dating and love are no different to any other aspect of life. The sooner some of us realise that, the sooner we are to find success in both.

End of series

It’s hard to know where to begin with this year’s Christmas news, much of which is disappointing, to say the least.

That said, there is a bright Christmas message here, so please read on.

Scotland legislation latest

On Thursday, December 22, the Scottish Parliament — or Assembly, as I still call it — passed legislation for Gender Recognition Reform, specifically to grant Gender Recognition Certificates (GRCs).

The bill passed in the SNP-controlled government 86-39 with no abstentions. Only two Conservative MSPs voted for it. The rest were SNP (Scottish National Party), Scottish Greens (SNP coalition partners), Scottish Labour and Scottish Liberal Democrat MSPs.

The final contributions were largely made on the basis of feelings. Wednesday’s transcript shows that every Conservative motion proposing greater controls over who can apply for a GRC and under what conditions was defeated. Debate had also taken place on Tuesday in an attempt to rush this through before Christmas break.

The Scottish Parliament thought this so important that it even cancelled their annual Christmas carol service, which, this year, was to feature Ukrainian refugees living just outside of Edinburgh.

A pro-independence — though not a pro-SNP — Scot who lives in England, the Revd Stuart Campbell, summed up the legislation in one of his Wings Over Scotland posts, ‘On the hush-hush’ (emphases mine):

The last few days have been perhaps the most turbulent in the entire history of the modern Scottish Parliament. Proceedings have been suspended repeatedly, members of the public thrown out and threatened with arrest, filibusters attempted, carol services cancelled, tempers frayed and sittings going on until the wee small hours.

All of this has happened in the service of the policy that the SNP has made its flagship priority for the last two years and more – the destruction not only of women’s rights, but of the very CONCEPT of a woman

So you’d imagine the party would have been tweeting about it constantly, keeping its supporters informed about all the dramatic events and the progress of the bill, if only to reassure them that they were determined to get it passed before the Christmas break come what may …

But there wasn’t one solitary word about the thing it just spent three solid days forcing into law. And since it was a thing that most of its own voters, and indeed a huge majority of all Scots, were opposed to, readers might be forgiven for thinking that they just wanted it all kept as quiet as possible, as if they were ashamed.

We suspect, and very much hope, that their wish may not be granted.

The Revd Mr Campbell means that the Secretary of State for Scotland in Westminster might refuse to present the Bill for King’s Assent. Let’s hope so.

Another Wings over Scotland post explains what the Bill actually does:

… one of the most regressive, dangerous and frankly absurd pieces of legislation the modern world has ever seen. Last week, [First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s] government successfully managed to get the word ‘woman’ redefined from an adult human female to anyone to who has a piece of paper that says they are one.

Should obtaining this piece of paper involve a rigorous, measured process that takes psychological and criminal history into serious consideration and prioritises the safety of women and children, this would be permissible to the socially liberal. Alas though, the new GRA has shamelessly scrapped all safeguarding measures. For a man to legally become a woman now – and be entitled to access all female-only facilities, be it changing rooms or prisons, all he has to do is ‘live as’ a woman (whatever the hell that means) for three months followed by a three-month ‘reflection period’.

TRA-adjacent politicians have nowhere to hide with this now. They can no longer deny that sex-based rights will be grievously compromised and that predators and fetishists now have ease of access to women (and children’s) spaces, from bathrooms to sports teams.

In another post, Campbell linked to Tuesday’s proceedings where a Conservative MSP tried to raise an amendment calling for greater scrutiny of sex offenders wishing to change gender. Unfortunately, 64 SNP/Green/Lib Dem MSPs voted it down. In ‘The Disgraces of Scotland’, Campbell wrote:

The events marked simply and unquestionably the most shameful and contemptible moment in the history of the Scottish Parliament since 1707.

1707 was the year when the Act of Union was established between England and Scotland.

He also pointed out that voting down the amendment resulted in:

ceding the moral high ground to the Scottish Conservatives

Anyone who knows the Scots knows that anything Conservative is unpopular there. That said, the Scottish Conservatives are the official opposition party in Edinburgh.

It should be noted that anyone aged 16 1/2 and over can apply for a GRC. It would appear that no formal medical diagnosis will be required with this new legislation.

Campbell’s readers have much to say on the matter. Some say this is a deleterious influence from American pressure groups. Others say that women will be in great danger.

Both are likely possibilities.

None of the MSPs supporting the Bill thinks that women will have any problem with sex offenders or deviants. However, a British substack begs to differ. ‘This Never Happens’ is a lengthy catalogue of gender-changers around the world who have committed horrific crimes, many of a sexual nature. Another site with a similar catalogue can be found here.

It is ironic that a woman is in charge of Scotland and she has overseen this legislation. In fact, she has supported it from beginning to end.

Scotland, like Canada, was such a beautiful country once upon a time. When I say ‘beautiful’, I’m referring to people. Another spirit — the devil — is moving through both nations.

One positive outcome is that the Scottish Conservatives can use this legislation to their advantage during the next election cycle. Unlike the SNP, Scottish Labour and Scottish Lib Dems, they alone voted en masse against it, showing that they are the true defenders of women and girls.

An UnHerd columnist, Joan Smith, says that this will come soon to England, should Labour win the next general election:

The man sitting next to you on a tram in Edinburgh, or turning up for a women-only swimming session, may self-identify as a woman — and the law will support him every step of the way. Centuries-old assumptions about what is real, about what people see in front of them, are being overturned. And it’s coming to Westminster as well, if Sir Keir Starmer follows through on his proposal to ‘update’ the 2004 Gender Recognition Act.

We have less than two years before a Labour government comes to power, weighed down by promises to import the idiocy (I’m being polite here) of self-ID to the rest of the UK. Two years, in other words, to watch what happens when politicians reject biology, common sense and the imperative to protect women against male violence. 

In the meantime, prisons, hospitals and refuges outside Scotland will face the headache of what to do when a man with a Scottish Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) — obtained with far fewer safeguards than elsewhere in the UK — demands access to women-only spaces. The prospect of expensive litigation is terrifying, but women’s organisations on both sides of the border are already preparing for the fight of their lives.

So crazed are MSPs by this ideology that on Tuesday evening they voted down an amendment that would have placed barriers in the way of convicted sex offenders who seek to apply for a GRC, complete with a new female name. They even rejected an amendment — proposed by Michelle Thomson, an SNP MSP who has waived anonymity to reveal her own experience of being raped when she was fourteen years old — that would have paused the process of acquiring a certificate for men charged with sexual offences.

This is an extremely troubling development. Let’s not forget that the SNP-Green government has pressed ahead with the legislation even after Lady Haldane’s judgment established last week that a GRC changes someone’s legal sex for the purposes of the 2010 Equality Act. Scottish women are now expected to accept that any man standing in front of them, waving a piece of paper, is a woman — even if they’re in court and the man is accused of raping them. 

It’s clear that a bill that was supposedly purely administrative has hugely expanded the number of individuals who can apply for a GRC, with catastrophic effects on women’s rights.

The rest of the UK is about to find out what it’s like living alongside a country in which observable sex no longer has any meaning. Welcome to Scotland, where the word ‘woman’ will now soon include any man who fancies it.

Conservatives in England and Wales can take heart from this for the general election in two years’ time, pointing to their colleagues north of the border. Who are the great defenders of women and girls? It certainly won’t be Labour.

Woman arrested for silent prayer

On December 6, a pro-life supporter from Worcestershire was arrested for praying silently in Birmingham in an exclusion zone around an abortion clinic.

Here is the video of her arrest:

A fundraiser is open for her:

BirminghamLive filed their report on Tuesday, December 20:

A woman has been charged with breaching an exclusion zone outside a Birmingham abortion clinic. Isabel Vaughan-Spruce, aged 45, from Malvern in Worcestershire, was arrested near the BPAS Robert Clinic in Kings Norton on December 6.

She was later charged with breaking a Public Space Protection Order, said by Birmingham City Council to have been introduced to ensure “people visiting and working there have clear access without fear of confrontation”. Vaughan-Spruce will appear at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court on February 2 next year.

A West Midlands Police spokesperson said: “Isabel Vaughan-Spruce, aged 45 from Geraldine Road, Malvern, was arrested on December 6 and subsequently charged on December 15 with four counts of failing to comply with a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO). She was bailed to appear at Birmingham Magistrates Court on February 2 2023.”

The police must feel threatened by prayer, especially that of the silent sort.

On Friday, December 23, UnHerd ‘s Mary Harrington gave her thoughts on the arrest:

It’s customary in these situations to decry the breach of liberal norms involved in arresting someone not for doing something wrong but merely thinking. But if, as I’ve suggested elsewhere, all politics is now post-liberal, that means it’s once again explicitly the case that state power is aligned with a widely-shared moral order

This is a drum I’ve been banging for a little while, for contra the fond imaginings of some liberals we never really stopped ordering power to sacred values. After all, it’s not really possible to have a functioning polity otherwise. This, I argued shortly before the pandemic, is why hate crime laws appeared a scant few years after the abolition of blasphemy laws: they are blasphemy laws. We’ve just updated what we considered blasphemous

…  Vaughan-Spruce’s arrest makes it clear that the zone surrounding an abortion centre is treated as sacred in a way that’s evidently no longer meaningfully the case (at least as far as the European court is concerned) of a church. She is an activist and director of March for Life UK, and has been previously arrested for protesting against abortion. But this in no way diminishes the growing sense that the activity being protected is also increasingly treated as sacred …

We have sacralised autonomy to such an extent that laws uphold women’s right to it, even at the cost of another radically dependent life. And the issue is growing ever more moralised, as evidenced by the fact that even thinking disapproving thoughts about this radical commitment to individual autonomy is now treated as blasphemous, in zones where its most extreme sacrifices are made

Wherever you stand on the practical issues surrounding abortion, this is indisputably a profound statement on the relative values we accord to freedom, care and dependency — one with profound ramifications for how we see the weak and helpless in any context. That the practice is taking on sacramental colouring, for a religion of atomisation, should give us all pause.


House of Lords Archbishop of Canterbury debate on asylum

On December 9, the House of Lords gave the Archbishop of Canterbury his annual debate. This year, the subject was the UK’s asylum and refugee policy.

I hope that readers will understand if I do not excerpt his speech here. They are free to read it for themselves.

We have taken in a record annual number of illegal migrants crossing the Channel this year, expected to be over 50,000.

We have also taken in large numbers of legitimate refugees and asylum seekers. We have also given visas to many thousands of legal migrants this year, particularly from Africa and Asia, namely India and Hong Kong.

UnHerd had a good analysis of what Welby said and our current predicament:

The Archbishop says he aims to support action that would “prevent small boats from crossing the channel”, but he also stresses that the UK is not taking many refugees and should take many more. 

Astonishingly, he dismisses the provision our country has made to welcome Hong Kong residents — well over 100,000 to date and many more to come — by saying “and that, by the way, is not asylum but financial visas”. It may not involve an application for asylum as such, but it clearly involves flight from oppression. Welby also draws the wrong conclusion from the fact that developing countries host many more refugees than developed countries. This is much cheaper than settlement in the West and makes return more likely. Developed countries should help pay the costs, and the UK leads the way in this regard.

The control Welby claims to support does not presently exist. The small boats cannot safely be turned around in the Channel and France will not accept their immediate return. The Rwanda plan is a rational (if imperfect) attempt to address the problem, removing asylum-seekers to a safe third country, where they will be protected, yet the Archbishop decries the plan on the grounds that it outsources our responsibilities. This makes no sense, for the UK not only accepts that Rwanda must comply with international standards, but also commits to funding the protection of those who prove to be refugees. Welby asserts that the plan has failed to deter. Indeed, because it has not yet been tried at all. 

The UK has good reason to resettle in safe third countries those who enter unlawfully on small boats, which would discourage others from (dangerous) unlawful entry and restore control of our borders. The historic tradition on which the Archbishop relies is alive and well in the provision our government has made, with wide public support, for temporary protection for Ukrainians escaping Russian aggression and for resettlement of the new Huguenots, the Hong Kong residents seeking to escape the oppressive reach of the Chinese Communist state

Lord Lilley — former Conservative MP Peter Lilley — posed the conundrum of loving one’s neighbour and not being able to accommodate everyone, especially those who arrive under false pretences:

This issue raises very difficult dilemmas for Christians. Being a very inadequate Christian myself, I take up the challenge from the most reverend Primate the Archbishop with trepidation: to try to formulate principles for governing our policy on asylum and migration. Not having direct access to the mind of God like the most reverend Primate the Archbishop, I seek those principles in the Bible.

I recall that our Lord said that the essence of Christianity is to love God and love our neighbour as ourselves. When asked who our neighbour is, he gave the parable of the good Samaritan, when a Samaritan helps a Jew—from which I deduce that our neighbour is not just the person next door to us and not necessarily a member of our own nation; it can be anyone. The first principle I therefore deduce is that, although charity begins at home, as a lot of my constituents used to tell me, it does not necessarily end at home. I am at one with the most reverend Primate the Archbishop on that.

Secondly, the Samaritan did what he practically could. We may be called on to help anyone we practically can, but we cannot help everyone. Again, the most reverend Primate the Archbishop recognised that and it is important that we recognise that our responsibilities are finite, in this respect.

Thirdly, when the Levite and the Jewish priest reached their destination, I have no doubt that they deplored how, owing to years of austerity, there had been insufficient spending on police and the health service to prevent the problem arising in the first place or to treat the person, instead of leaving it to the passing Samaritan. Therefore, my third principle is that, to be a good Samaritan, you have to give care, help and so on at your expense. We, as politicians, may have to take decisions on behalf of others but, in doing so, we should have consideration for the impact we are having on others and not imagine we are being virtuous when we do good at their expense.

The first principle is that charity begins at home, in how we treat people who have come to settle here. When I was a child, mass immigration into this country was just beginning. The parish in which I lived asked each family to link up with a migrant family, many of whom were lonely, isolated and, at worst, facing hostility. My family was linked up to a delightful Mauritian couple, whom we would invite to supper every few weeks. We became good friends. That was done by parishes across south London. I would love to hear from Bishops who have not yet spoken about what the churches are doing today to help integrate those who are here in our society and to be the good Samaritans to our neighbours from abroad.

But charity does not end at home. I pay tribute to those tens of thousands of people who opened their homes to families fleeing the bombing in Ukraine, while their menfolk remained to fight for their country. We should not imagine we are sharing in being good Samaritans if we throw open the doors of our country to everybody because, if we do that, we are doing good at others’ expense. We are, in effect, saying that migrants, be they legal or illegal, asylum seekers or otherwise, through housing benefit and social housing, will have access to rented and social homes. We all have our own homes, so we will not be affected. Therefore, more young people will have to wait at home or live in cramp bed-sitters for longer, because of what we, as legislators, think we are doing generously, without taking the impact on others into account.

The second principle is that our neighbour can be anyone, but it cannot be everyone. Millions of people want to come here. Look at the impact of the green card system the Americans operate, when they make 30,000 visas to the US available to certain countries and say, “Anyone can apply; there is a ballot.” Some 9% of the population of Albania applied when they heard about that being offered to them, as did 11% of the Armenian and 14% of the Liberian populations. These were only the people who heard about it and responded. The potential number who would like to come to America or Europe, if we open these so-called direct routes, would be enormous. Will we say to those who apply, at an embassy or some place abroad, that they would have the same legal rights, and opportunities to appeal or for judicial review if things are turned down? If so, potentially millions of people would join the queue. It would not shorten but lengthen it, so we have to restrict and to prioritise.

I submit to noble Lords that the priority should not be the boat people. They are not coming by boat from Basra, Somalia or Eritrea; they are coming from France, Belgium and Germany. Why are they coming here rather than staying in those safe countries? They are three or four times as likely to be rejected there. France, in the last year before the pandemic, forcibly repatriated 34,000 people. I find some strange double standards being applied here. There are no criticisms of France for being much stricter than us or of us for being much laxer than them, but one or the other must be the case.

I am coming to an end. If it is morally and legally right for the French to try to prevent people leaving their shores, and for us to pay and support the French in so doing, it should be morally and legally right for us to return them. If they cannot be returned, it is reasonable to try to deter them by saying, “If you come here, you will go to Rwanda. You always have the opportunity to stay in France.” I submit that we do not always consider these opportunities.

Later on, the Archbishop of York, the Right Revd Stephen Cottrell, spoke, an excerpt of which follows. The transcript hardly does his indignation justice. He ripped right into Lord Lilley:

I say to the noble Lord, Lord Lilley, that everyone is our neighbour. Of course, we cannot take everybody, but that makes it even more important that we have a fair system for everyone.

Dehumanising language promotes fear. Threat of destitution is used as a deterrent. Children are treated as if they are adults. Yet in our own country, among our own people, in our churches, other faith groups and communities, some things have gone well, such as the Homes for Ukraine scheme, where many people have found a home, other family members have joined them, and people have been able to get work. This is really good.

But why has our response to people fleeing other conflicts been different? Currently, the definition of family in our asylum system would not allow someone to join their sibling even if they were the last remaining relative, and being able to work and contribute is a long way off. The tragedy of our system lies in its exceptionalism, meaning that people receive differential treatment usually because of their country of origin. That underpins the Nationality and Borders Act, and I fear that further legislative action will be the same.

But we could learn from what is happening in our communities. The noble Lord, Lord Lilley, asked us directly about integration. I do not know where to begin. In hundreds of parishes and schools, and in other faith communities up and down our country, that is what we are doing—in English language classes, in befriending and in teaching people. I would be the first to admit that there are lots of things about the Church of England that could be better, but that is something that we are doing, alongside others, and it shows the best of British.

We need a system that will simply provide safe and legal routes for everyone to have equal opportunities to apply for asylum. All I am saying is that I think that would be good for us, as well as for the people who are fleeing unimaginable conflict and evil.

Finally, when it comes to being able to work, the Church of England, alongside the Refugee Council and the Government’s own Migration Advisory Committee, is a long-standing supporter of the Lift the Ban campaign.

I say all this—like many of us, I would wish to say more, but the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury said most of it—as winter arrives, and it is cold, and a cost of living crisis will inevitably affect the British people’s capacity to be hospitable. I say simply that a functioning asylum system is not a threat to our social cohesion as some fear or predict, but a dysfunctional, unfair one is.

As every small child knows at this time of the year, as the noble Lord, Lord Cormack, mentioned, Mary and Joseph came looking for somewhere to stay, but there was no room at the inn. Saying no, accusing those who are being hospitable of being naive, or passing the buck are easy, but saying yes, with a fair and equal system for everyone, opens up blessings for everyone.

A week later, Cottrell featured in an article in The Telegraph: ‘Forgive my “predictable leftie rant” on asylum, says Archbishop of York’.

It seems he knew he was out of order with Lord Lilley, who deserved the same courtesy as the peers agreeing with the Archbishop. It was good for Lord Lilley to speak politely on behalf of the British public.

Britons are paying upwards of £7 million a day just to house those crossing the Channel.

GB News’s Mark Steyn and his guest hosts have been covering the topic nearly every night:

Taxpayers are deeply upset, especially during our cost of living crisis, which is causing many to choose between food and fuel.

Combine that with taxpayers’ personal expenses for Net Zero, and we are heading for disaster:

Red Wall Conservative MP Jonathan Gullis tried unsuccessfully to raise a Private Member’s Bill to get illegal migrants to Rwanda sooner rather than later:

Hotels across England are being taken over by companies working for the Home Office to house the Channel-crossers:

Hospitality workers in those hotels are losing their jobs as the aforementioned companies install their own staff to manage them:

The December 22 show also featured the seemingly intractable problem:

Former Sun editor Kelvin MacKenzie then swung by to weigh in on how much migrants are costing Britons.

The Home Office — read ‘civil servants’ — must do something now.

It’s obvious people are watching GB News, because they beat BBC News for the first time ever on December 14:

Onwards and upwards!

House of Commons recess debate

On Tuesday, December 20, the House of Commons held its Christmas recess debate.

Normally, these are rather jolly affairs where MPs air wish lists for their constituencies for the New Year. However, this year’s contributions were rather grim, including those from Conservative MPs.

Once again, providentially, I tuned in at the right time to hear the member for Don Valley, Conservative MP Nick Fletcher. He closed his speech saying the following, the first part of which came as news to me:

Finally, Christian friends across the House tried to secure a Backbench debate on Christmas and Christianity, but by all accounts we were not successful. While I have this moment, I want to remind those in this place, and anyone who cares to watch, that although Christmas is celebrated in many ways across the world, the real reason is the birth of our saviour, Jesus Christ. He was sent as a saviour, and with the promise that whoever believes in him will have eternal life. I do not want anyone ever to forget that. Merry Christmas everybody.

Jim Shannon, a Democratic Unionist Party MP (i.e. from Northern Ireland), was one of the last MPs to speak. A devout Anglican — yes, they still exist — he gave a beautiful speech on the meaning of the season, most of which follows:

It is no secret that I love this time of year—I may have mentioned that a time or three in this House. There are so many things to love about Christmas: time with family; good food; fellowship; and, for me, the singing of an old Christmas carol as we gather in church. But the most wonderful thing about Christmas for me is the hope that it holds. I wish to speak this year about the Christ in Christmas, because, too often, we miss that. It would be good this year to focus on what Christmas is really all about. I ask Members to stick with me on this one.

The message of Christmas is not simply the nativity scene that is so beautifully portrayed in schools and churches throughout this country, but rather the hope that lies in the fact that the baby was born to provide a better future for each one of us in this House and across the world. What a message of hope that is; it is a message that each one of us needs. No matter who we are in the UK, life is tough. The past three years have been really, really tough—for those who wonder how to heat their homes; for those who have received bad news from their doctor; for those whose children have not caught up from the covid school closures; for those who mourn the loss of a loved one; for those who mourn the breakdown of a family unit; and for those who are alone and isolated. This life is not easy, and yet there is hope. That is because of the Christmas story. It is because Christ came to this world and took on the form of man so that redemption’s plan could be fulfilled. There is hope for each one of us to have that personal relationship with Christ that enables us to read the scriptures in the Bible and understand that the creator, God, stands by his promises.

I want to quote, if I may, from four Bible texts. To know that

“my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”

That is from Philippians 4:19.

To trust that

“I am the Lord that heals you.”

To believe that

“all things are possible.”

That is Matthew 17:20.

We can be comforted by Psalm 147:3:

“He heals the brokenhearted, And binds up their wounds.”

Isaiah 41:10 says:

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

The strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow come only when we understand who Christ is. One of my favourite Christmas passages is actually not the account of his birth, but the promise of who he is. We all know this:

“For to us a Child shall be born, to us a Son shall be given; And the government shall be upon His shoulder, And His name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

In a world where our very foundation seems to be shifting, how awesome it is to know that this our God is only a prayer away. A group of people come to the House of Commons two or three times a week, and pray for Parliament. I have to say how important it is to have those prayers.

As we think of this passing year—something that many of us do—we think about what has happened and perhaps look forward to 2023 with renewed hope for the future. I think we should look forward with hope; we have to do that. We should always try to be positive. In this passing year, my mind goes to the loss of Her Majesty the Queen. Many of us felt that so deeply, and yet her passing also carried the message of hope, because of Christ. I quoted this when we had the tributes to Her Majesty. It is important, I think, to put it on the record again.

The wonderful message that the Queen gave in one of her cherished Christmas messages—this one was in 2014—was crystal clear:

“For me, the life of Jesus Christ, the prince of peace, whose birth we celebrate today, is an inspiration and an anchor in my life.”

That was Her Majesty talking.

“A role model of reconciliation and forgiveness, he stretched out his hands in love, acceptance and healing. Christ’s example has taught me to seek to respect and value all people of whatever faith or none.”

It is my firm belief that this true message of Christmas is what can bring hope and healing to a nation that can seem so fractured. When I look at the headlines, I sometimes despair, but that is also when I most enjoy my constituency work, and getting to see glimpses of community spirit and goodness that are done daily and yet are rarely reported. Her Majesty’s speech in 2016 reflected that, when she said:

“Billions of people now follow Christ’s teaching and find in him the guiding light for their lives. I am one of them because Christ’s example helps me to see the value of doing small things with great love, whoever does them and whatever they themselves believe.”

At that point, Conservative MP John Hayes intervened:

It is heart-warming and refreshing to hear the hon. Gentleman’s plain and confident affirmation of his faith, and our faith too. By the way he speaks, he encourages all of us to reflect on the Judeo-Christian foundations on which our society and our civilisation are built, and I just wanted to thank him for that.

Jim Shannon thanked John Hayes before continuing:

The right hon. Gentleman is most kind. I am giving just a slight reminder of what Christmas is about. I think we all realise that, but sometimes it is good to remind ourselves of it. The example of Christ is one of humility, coming to the earth as a vulnerable baby, and of purpose, as we see the gold given that symbolises royalty, the frankincense to highlight his deity and myrrh to symbolise his purposeful death to redeem us all.

I am a strong advocate in this House for freedom of religion or belief, as the Leader of the House knows. She is always very kind; every week, when I suggest something that should be highlighted, she always takes those things back to the Ministers responsible. I appreciate that very much, as do others in this House. I am proud to be associated with that wonderful cause, and as long as God spares me I will speak for the downtrodden of my own faith and others. I speak for all faiths, because that is who I am, and so do others in this House with the same belief.

At the same time, however, like Her late Majesty, I am proud to be a follower of Christ. At this time of year I simply want the House to know the hope that can be found in Christ, not simply at Christmas, but for a lifetime. The babe of Bethlehem was Christ on the cross and our redeemer at the resurrection, and that gives me hope and offers hope for those who accept him and it.

From the bottom of my heart, Mr Deputy Speaker, I thank you in particular, since you have presided over this speech and the past few hours. I thank Mr Speaker and all the other Deputy Speakers, with all the things that are happening to them, the Clerks and every staff member in this place for the tremendous job they do and the graceful spirit in which everything has been carried out in the last year. I thank right hon. and hon. Members, who are friends all—I say that honestly to everyone.

I thank my long-suffering wife, who is definitely long-suffering, and my mum—

At that point, Shannon broke down in tears.

Leader of the House Penny Mordaunt stepped in quickly and graciously while Shannon composed himself:

The hon. Gentleman has often summed up how people feel, particularly at this time of year. I know he has had losses over the past few years, and he always manages to sum up the feeling of this House. Many Members in this debate have spoken about constituents or family they have lost, and we appreciate his bringing up these issues, as I appreciate all Members’ doing so. There will be some people thinking about spending Christmas apart from family they are not able to see, or having suffered those losses. I thank him and we are all willing him strength as he continues his speech.

After a pause, Shannon resumed and concluded:

I thank the Leader of the House for that. I mentioned my long-suffering wife; we have been married 34 years, so she is very long-suffering, and that is probably a good thing, because we are still together. My mum is 91 years old and I suspect she is sitting watching the Parliament channel right now to see what her eldest son is up to and what he is saying, so again that is something.

I also thank my staff members. I told one of my Opposition colleagues last week that I live in a woman’s world, because I have six girls in my office who look after me and make sure I am right …

Lastly, I thank my Strangford constituents, who have stuck by me as a councillor, as a Member of the Legislative Assembly and as a Member of Parliament in this House. This is my 30th year of service in local government and elsewhere. They have been tremendously kind to me and I appreciate them. I want to put on record what a privilege it is to serve them in this House and to do my best for them.

I wish everyone a happy Christmas, and may everyone have a prosperous, peaceful and blessed new year, as we take the example of Christ and act with humility and purpose in this place to effect the change that we all want and that is so needed in our nation—this great United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, always better together.

Mr Deputy Speaker Nigel Evans said:

Your mother and wife will be as proud of you as we all are, Jim. [Hon. Members: “Hear, hear!] As a person of faith, I thank you very much for putting the Christ back into Christmas in your speech. We come now to the wind-ups.

When acknowledging MPs’ contributions in the debate, Penny Mordaunt said:

The hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon) should never have to apologise for mentioning Christ in this place—especially at Christmas. We are in a place where the architecture is designed to turn our faces to God. I thank him for his Christmas message.

And, finally — best Christmas wishes to Mark Steyn

In closing, hearty Christmas wishes to Mark Steyn who is recovering from two successive heart attacks:

He is recovering in France but told viewers more on December 19. Incredibly, the first heart attack happened before he presented one of his nightly shows on the self-styled People’s Channel. He presented it anyway. Wow:

The GB News host suffered the first one “without recognising” the symptoms, before hosting his show on The People’s Channel.

Speaking on his current absence from GB News, Steyn said: “I’m too medicated to manage artful evasions.

“I had two heart attacks. Because I didn’t recognise the first one, as such, the second one was rather more severe.”

The experienced broadcaster spoke about the shocking ordeal, saying he “doesn’t look right”, looking back at images of himself presenting the Mark Steyn show during the first heart attack.

Speaking on SteynOnline, he said: “The good news is that the first one occurred when I was in London. If you get a chance to see that day’s Mark Steyn Show, with hindsight, I don’t look quite right in close-ups.

“By not recognising it as a heart attack, I deftly avoided being one of those stories we feature on the show every couple of nights about people in the UK calling emergency and being left in the street for 15 hours before an ambulance shows up.

“I had a second heart attack in France. With Audrey [his wife?] helping me in the ambulance, she told me I was 15 minutes from death.”

The presenter also revealed he would remain in France over Christmas and New Year as he is unable to leave medical care and return to New Hampshire.

GB News viewers will be sending Mark every best wish for a speedy recovery — and a healthy, happy New Year! We look forward to seeing him on the airwaves soon!

Continuing my series on Red Wall MPs and, most recently, Lee Anderson, this post gives his positions on various topics in British life.

Those who missed previous instalments can read about his adventures and opinions in Parts 1, 2, 3 and 4.

Rail strikes

This week, England has been crippled by a series of rail strikes, one every other day, which means that on the days there are no strikes, it is still fruitless trying to travel by rail.

On Monday, June 20, 2022, the House of Commons held a debate, Industrial Action on the Railway.

Lee Anderson was the last MP called to speak. He asked the following question of Grant Shapps, Transport Secretary (emphases mine):

This strike is a real kick in the teeth for hard-working taxpayers, who have dug deep over the past 18 months to keep this industry alive. Does my right hon. Friend agree that the Labour party—the spineless party opposite—should grow a backbone and condemn these strikes?

Grant Shapps replied:

That is an appropriate place to end. My hon. Friend is absolutely right. People have dug deep—that is exactly what they have done; it was £600 per household. People are furious. They paid out that money to make sure that nobody lost their jobs, and what thanks have they got? Where is the reward? Where is the “thank you” for keeping the railway going? It is a strike that will put people out of pay and hit people’s pockets once again, and Labour Members cannot even find their way to say, “We condemn the strikes.” It is a disgrace.


On Wednesday, June 15, Home Secretary Priti Patel made a statement about the fact that the June 14 flight to Rwanda with scheduled deportees never took off. There were originally 37 people who were to be deported. Because of last minute legal delays, only a handful boarded the charter flight and, by 11 p.m., even they were taken off.

The Opposition parties hate the idea of sending illegals to Rwanda for processing. Strange that, as it is called the Switzerland of Africa.

Labour, the Lib Dems and Scotland’s SNP have all said during debates about illegal migration that people can legitimately come to the UK from France. Such a statement implies that France is not a safe country.

In the June 15 debate, Migration and Economic Development Partnership with Rwanda, Lee Anderson asked Priti Patel:

Just when you think this place cannot get any dafter, you turn up and listen to the rubbish that the Opposition are coming out with today. Is the Home Secretary aware of the sniggering, smugness and delight shown on the out-of-touch Opposition Benches about the cancelled Rwanda flight? Will she please advise me? I need some travel advice—I am going away this summer. Is France a safe country to go to?

Priti Patel replied:

For the benefit of the British people, the public, I have in my hand just four pages with a list of Opposition Members making exactly that point with glee—basically wanting the policy to fail, condemning it and saying all sorts of things without coming up with alternative solutions.

My hon. Friend is absolutely right about France as a safe country. This is a fundamental principle of working with our colleagues more broadly—[Interruption.] Those on the Opposition Front Bench have already had their chance to speak. These are safe countries and there are people who are effectively picking to come to the UK. That is something we have to stop by going after the people smugglers and breaking up their business model.

Moral failings of Tony Blair versus Boris Johnson

Also on June 15, Boris Johnson lost his latest ethics adviser, Lord Geidt, who suddenly resigned.

This month, for whatever reason, Tony Blair became a member of the prestigious Order of the Garter, an honour the Queen decides independently.

On GB News, Patrick Christys asked a panel who was less ethical, Boris or Blair. Lee Anderson was one of the participants. He said that he had canvassed his constituents in Ashfield, Northamptonshire, and all said that Blair was less ethical. Anderson said there is no comparison between a Prime Minister being presented with cake and one who got us into a highly costly war in Iraq. The second tweet shows Blair with his spin doctor Alastair Campbell at the time:

The full discussion follows:


Anderson was a member of the Labour Party until 2018, when he switched to the Conservatives.

He has no praise for Labour MPs, especially Deputy Leader Angela Rayner. On May 22, she was angry with Chancellor Rishi Sunak for giving more aid to Ukraine.

The Daily Mail reported:

The party’s deputy leader sparked outrage after she told the Chancellor on Twitter to ‘do one’ – a slang insult meaning ‘get lost’.

The message was posted in response to a weekly No 11 newsletter from Mr Sunak, in which he detailed an additional £40 million of aid for Ukraine.

It is not the first time the senior Labour figure has landed herself in hot water for her remarks about those on the other side of the Commons. The former care worker resorted to calling senior Conservatives ‘a bunch of scum, homophobic, racist, misogynistic, absolute pile of… banana republic… Etonian … piece of scum’ in a foul-mouthed tirade at last year’s Labour party conference.

Lee Anderson made his views known:

Lee Anderson, Tory MP for Ashfield, accused Ms Rayner of behaving pathetically after the latest controversial outburst.

He said: ‘I don’t know what it is about Angela Rayner and the Left that have it in for successful people running the country, surely it’s much better for successful people who are successes in business to hold the purse strings of the country rather than somebody whose only claim to fame is dishing out insults.

‘She is someone throughout her career who has made childish insults against Conservative politicians and now she’s having a go at Rishi, who by the way is one of the most polite politicians you’ll ever wish to meet. He’s a real gentleman, regardless of your politics.’

Green energy policies

As is the case in most European countries, the prices of home fuel and petrol have gone through the roof.

On January 3, Nigel Farage asked Anderson for his views on what the UK should do. Anderson said that while it was imperative that we leave the planet in better shape for the next generation, he and his Ashfield constituents think that some of Boris’s Net Zero policies need to be wound back. Furthermore, he wants us, rightly, to use our own energy sources during our transition period to Net Zero:

Two months later, Anderson appeared on Farage’s Talking Pints segment of his show. They discussed the necessity of energy independence, which the UK can easily achieve. Instead, the Government prefers a policy of importing coal and gas from Russia:

You can see the full interview here, where Anderson says:

We should be selling gas to the rest of Europe!


Anderson remains a firm supporter of Boris Johnson and wants him to be allowed to get on with his job. He accuses the BBC of conducting a witch hunt against the Prime Minister.

This interview took place the day after Boris survived a Conservative vote of confidence. Anderson laid his dislike of the BBC’s tactics on the line. This is short, sharp and to the point:

Guido Fawkes wrote (emphases in the original):

Lee Anderson provided daytime fireworks as he confronted the BBC over anti-Boris bias live on the channel. He also called them “quite sad” over their refusal to let the Boris leadership question drop, accusing them of spearheading a witchhunt. Agree or not, it was great TV…

Not surprisingly, it was Guido’s most popular post that day:

That night, the question of a BBC witch hunt popped up on Dan Wootton’s GB News show:

Wootton invited Anderson on to discuss the issue with left-wing pundit Nina Myskow, who defended the BBC. Anderson said that his constituents supported Boris. He invited Myskow to speak with his constituents to hear their views. She replied, although not in this clip, that she never travels north of Selfridges:


On April 27, Anderson was disappointed not to have made the list of 287 MPs that Russia sanctioned.

He wrote a letter to the Russian ambassador to the UK to ask that his name be added to the list:


Lee Anderson has been outspoken against crime. I posted some of his perspectives last week.

During his candidacy in the autumn of 2019, he proposed creating forced labour camps for noisy council tenants:

After Winston Churchill’s statue was desecrated in June 2020, during the pandemic and ‘mostly peaceful’ protests, Anderson gave a brief interview to a young independent reporter. He ended by saying:

You wouldn’t be stood here today, young man, talking to me if it wasn’t for Churchill.

On March 16, 2021, Anderson participated in the Crime Bill debate. Highlights follow:

Here’s another, courtesy of Guido:

Ashfield’s straight-talking MP Lee Anderson gave the Labour Party both barrels last night in the Crime Bill debate. Effusively supporting the Bill, no-nonsense Anderson took aim at what he sees as Labour’s hypocritical positions:

I find it strange that Labour are talking about tougher sentences for crimes against women, yet in December they were trying to stop us deporting foreign rapists. One Labour MP said we should not deport these criminals in December as it was too close to Christmas. I disagree. I thought it was a great Christmas present.

Guido is fairly sure that the residents of Ashfield will be in overwhelming agreement. For such a short speech, many shots were fired – rounding off on some Labour politicians’ attitude to the law…

Seven months later, his fellow Conservative MP Robbie Moore led a debate on the sexual exploitation of young girls by a certain demographic. Sadly, the ‘grooming gang’ phenomenon is growing to the extent that it is said to be present in every town in the UK.

Moore focused his attention on Bradford.

Guido points out that none of the three Labour MPs for Bradford bothered to show up for the debate.

Anderson contributed and, as one would expect, has strong views on what should happen to such politicians:

Away from the noise of the Budget, earlier this week Conservative MP Robbie Moore led a Commons debate on child sexual exploitation across Bradford, calling for a “Rotherham-style inquiry” into the scandal and claiming it had been “swept under the carpet” by the local authorities. Although the debate only attracted small number of MPs – none of the three Labour MPs for Bradford bothered to appear, despite two previously claiming they would – there was one booming voice lending his support to Moore’s campaign: the Honourable Member for Ashfield, Lee Anderson. Asking Moore to give way twice so he could give the Chamber a piece of his mind, Anderson said:

The only way that we know the full scale of these vile crimes in Bradford is for a full Rotherham-style… investigation, and would he also agree with me that certain local politicians on the council, and the mayor, should hang their heads in shame.

Once this inquiry takes place, and we get to the bottom of this, and these grooming gangs are put away where they rightly belong in prison, then the next call will be these lazy politicians – and they need locking up too.

Even Moore sounded a bit surprised by Lee’s fury…

Guido has the video:

Anderson’s no-nonsense speech might have been partly due to his appointment to the Women and Equalities Committee in May 2021:

Guido wrote:

Guido learns that parliament’s wokest committee – the Women and Equalities Committee – is to welcome two new, perhaps unexpected, members: Philip Davies and Lee Anderson. Philip Davies is making a, no doubt, welcome return after having served on it in 2016 – where he made headlines calling for the word “women” to be removed from the Committee’s name. Lee Anderson is a co-conspirator favourite: from saying nuisance tenants should be forced to live in tents; to recently ranting that he’s torn up his licence fee. Confirming the appointment, Lee told Guido:

The great women of Ashfield have been the backbone of my community for hundreds of years with barely any recognition.

Yes the men have worked down the pits and gone off to war but its our women that have kept everything together.

The women in communities like Ashfield need a voice in Parliament and anyone who knows me will tell you that I am a firm believer in better rights for women. I am a modern man with a modern outlook who is keen to speak up for the women in my community.

They deserve to be on a level playing field with us men which is not always the case. I will still open doors for women and give up my seat on public transport as I am a gentleman first and a politician second, but you can be assured that I will be fighting on all fronts for the women of Ashfield.

Both men will no doubt relish the appointments, which they richly deserve. Guido sends his warmest congratulations to the pair. Chapeau to the 1922 Committee on the wit and wisdom of their appointments.

Returning to politicians, on November 9, he had a go at convicted Labour MPs and recommended that they should work as a condition of their licence:

This morning in Parliament, straight-talking Lee Anderson told Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab exactly how he thinks the government should solve labour shortages:

Prisoners and ex-offenders out on licence should help fill the labour shortage and […] on release, all prisoners – including ex-Labour MPs – should be ready for work and starting work should be a condition of their licence.

Guido has the video:

Nutritious meals on the cheap

As I wrote in my third post on Lee Anderson, he took a lot of unnecessary stick in May 2022 for saying that people can make nutritious meals for only 30 pence per portion.

He revealed that he, too, had been a single parent for many years and lived scrimping and saving. He still got pilloried.

On May 26, however, the Mail profiled a partnered mother of three who makes meals for 29 pence a portion.

Was there any criticism of her from other media outlets, such as the BBC? No, there was not.

Such double standards. Such hypocrisy.


Regrettably, I have run out of Lee Anderson anecdotes.

He is my favourite MP. I would love to see him as the next Conservative leader, if not Prime Minister.

Sadly, that will not happen. He is not Establishment enough and never will be.

I hope that he is re-elected as MP for Ashfield and wish him all the best in his Parliamentary career.

We need more MPs like him.

A profile of another Red Wall MP will appear next week.

At the weekend, two articles promoting marriage appeared in the papers.

N.B.: Adult content follows.

Separately, two Britons — feminist Louise Perry and conservative columnist Peter Hitchens — say it is time to dump the sexual revolution from the 1960s and return to traditional marriage.

Louise Perry’s book, The Case Against the Sexual Revolution, is published this Friday, June 3, 2022.

The Sunday Times reported that it is a call to return to the centuries-old tradition of getting married (emphases mine):

She has a piece of simple advice for the young women reading her book: “Get married. And do your best to stay married.”

Perry, who read women’s studies at the left-wing School of Oriental and African Studies in London, was brought up to embrace sexual freedom and personal choice.

Then she began volunteering for the National Rape Crisis Helpline and was appalled by what she discovered, Times journalist Laura Hackett says:

“That was a turning point,” she tells me. All the feminist theory she was studying had “no relevancethere was nothing in there about sexual violence, it didn’t map on to reality.”

It turns out that society’s obsession with pornography has a lot to do with damaging and fractured relationships between men and women:

We are being exposed to more and more explicit content in our everyday lives — everything from lingerie and perfume adverts to Fifty Shades of Grey — and this deadens our responses to actual sex, she argues, destroying our romantic relationships.

Should we ban it, then? She pauses. “I’m not sure if I want to bring back the old classification board . . . but either you have centralised censorship or you have a free market, and the free market is producing this horror show.”

Perry is dismayed that the #MeToo movement has not put people off watching sex scenes. “I really feel for actors. Who would have thought 20 years ago that signing up to be an actor would mean basically signing up to be a porn star?” The difference, of course, is that the sex isn’t real, but Perry doesn’t back down. “From what I’ve heard it’s not far off. And it clearly is sometimes a source of distress for actors and an opportunity for sex pests.”

Rightly, Perry thinks that rough sex, which is prevalent in today’s pornography, is a form of domestic abuse:

The erotic bestsellers women are reading today — Fifty Shades of Grey for mums, and Sarah J Maas’s sexy fantasy fiction for their daughters — are heavily focused on BDSM, which Perry believes is little more than abuse. She helped to found the campaign group We Can’t Consent to This, which aims to eradicate the use of “rough sex” defences to the killing or harming of women.

She also points out that one-night stands give little pleasure to the women pursuing them:

Perry is eloquent, empathetic — and very persuasive. I was surprised to find myself agreeing with her on most things: porn is clearly a dangerous, exploitative industry; prostitution isn’t just a normal job (or else why would we be so outraged by landlords asking for sex as payment?); and hook-up culture has practically no benefits for women (only 10 per cent of women orgasm during a one-night stand; no prizes for guessing that figure is much higher among men).

What is the solution, other than marriage?

“This idea that marriage is inherently oppressive to women I don’t think is true,” Perry says.

In her book she races through statistics highlighting the benefits of marriage: almost half of divorced people in the UK regret it, fatherless boys are more likely to go to prison, and fatherless girls are more likely to become pregnant in their teens. She even lauds the hidden benefits of shotgun marriages and the stigma around single motherhood. “In an era without contraception,” Perry writes, “a prohibition on sex before marriage served female, not male, interests.” I’m not sure how Ireland’s mother and baby homes, for example, which locked up unmarried mothers and removed their children, served female interests. Perry nods. “What haunts me is: do we have to choose between Magdalene laundries and PornHub?”

Perry also laments the ease of getting a divorce, made even simpler now because of a new law that Parliament passed earlier this year:

Perry argues that while it is important to have divorce as an option for people in terrible, abusive marriages, the easy availability of divorce under any circumstances has killed off the institution of marriage — and that’s bad news for women.

Interestingly, given her upbringing and university studies, Perry married a police officer.

She is adamant about tough sentencing for convicted rape:

prison — for life, if needs be.

She says that the male urge to dominate women is atavistic:

She links the crime back to biology, rejecting the prevailing view that our sexist culture encourages men to rape. Evolutionary theory, she explains, shows that rape confers a selection advantage on men, giving them more opportunities to pass on their genes. In other words sexual violence is rational. It’s no coincidence, she says, that women are most likely to be raped between the ages of 12 and 30 — their fertile years.

She believes that the education policy instructing students about mutual consent is wrong because it does not work:

When it comes to prevention, Perry thinks consent workshops, which teach young people how to check that their partner really wants to have sex, are useless. “If we think that the problem is young men being really horny and larger and more aggressive than young women, then things like gender-neutral bathrooms in school are the stupidest things ever.”

Her book also has a chapter on rules for young women, which sound very last century:

“In the earlier stages of writing I had that feeling of walking on eggshells and being worried I’d piss off everyone … But in the end I just wrote what I thought was true.”

The Case Against the Sexual Revolution is explicitly directed towards young women who have grown up in a world of PornHub, OnlyFans and Tinder; 21st-century sexual freedom has not been liberating for them at all, but instead benefited men, Perry believes. She provides a list of 11 rules for young women in the epilogue, including: “Get drunk or high in private and with female friends rather than in public or in mixed company”; “Avoid being alone with men [you] don’t know”; “Hold off on having sex with a new boyfriend for at least a few months”; “Don’t use dating apps”; and “Only have sex with a man if you think he would make a good father to your children”.

It surprised me to read over the past two years — and this was true before lockdown — that young people are having fewer sexual encounters at a time when their hormones and fertility are in their prime. Is it because of pornography? I don’t know.

However, the Times journalist says that Perry could be tapping into something with her book:

The Case Against the Sexual Revolution is unapologetically focused on improving women’s health and happiness. Will it work? The tide does seem to be turning in our attitudes. Young people are having less sex; they’re worried about age gaps and power imbalances in their relationships; and a recent BBC documentary on Mary Whitehouse [censorious campaigner of the late 20th century] even asked if she was ahead of her time. Perry may have predicted a new age of sexual puritanism, and perhaps it will make us happier.

Incidentally, Perry had her first child, a boy, while writing her book. She says that men are also harmed by our anything-goes lifestyle:

Has that altered her perspective? “Yes, to the extent that I had a baby boy. It made me think a bit more about the way that men are harmed by this culture.”

Speaking of children, Mail columnist Peter Hitchens says that broken homes harm their prospects as adults.

We always say that, in case of a relationship breakup, children are resilient, but is that actually true in the long term?

Hitchens says that it isn’t.

He points to the recent release of a report on children’s social care:

Last week great publicity was rightly given to a report on children’s social care. It predicted that the number of children in care, now 80,000, would rise to 100,000 by 2032, costing taxpayers a colossal £15 billion a year.

Of course many terrible things happen to children in so-called ‘care’ apart from actual violence and death. The general outcomes for children deprived of what we would once have called stable family life, and deprived of fathers, are just not very good

No doubt plenty of social workers, foster parents and others do all they can, and I am not trying to criticise these individuals but they just cannot do what a loving, stable home can do.

He, too, points indirectly to the sexual revolution which has seen a continuing decline in marriage and an increase in divorce:

The tragedy of care is a direct consequence of 50 years in which the law, and our culture, have encouraged the idea that lifelong marriage is dispensable – a cruel prison from which adults should be free to escape. The latest loosening of the marriage laws, effectively allowing divorce on demand, follows the same failed view.

I agree. I was appalled to see a Conservative government push that law through the statute books.

Hitchens also says that today’s marriage vows outside of church do not pledge fidelity over the years:

Should we not connect the number of children in care to the fact that, in England and Wales, the numbers getting married fell in 2019 to the lowest rate since records began? Less than 20 per cent of these weddings were in a religious building, where the idea that marriage is for life is still pretty much insisted upon.

Many modern weddings are lavish affairs in beautiful places, but they simply do not demand the commitment that couples used to make. And many modern couples, seeing which way the wind is blowing, never bother to marry at all. Such commitment is generally discouraged, even viewed as foolish.

He says there is a class divide when it comes to divorce and children:

the children are the ones who suffer, and whose freedom from worry and insecurity has been sacrificed to allow for grown-up freedoms to do as we will.

Among the well-off, the damage is generally not so bad, though there is damage. But among the poor, and in the parts of the country where the schools are bad and the streets are grim, it is another story. And that story often ends in care, with all its miseries, loneliness, insecurity and disappointment.

It is not the same sort of hell as the workhouses and the orphanages of the past were, but it can be hell even so. We need a modern Charles Dickens to depict it. If more people realised how bad it was, we might start to wonder if the gradual dismantling of stable marriage was such a good idea after all.

I am delighted to read about two Britons championing traditional marriage. I hope the case they make for lifelong marital vows is heard far and wide. Marriage was instituted for our benefit. We can see that doing away with it has done us precious little good as a society.

330px-john_donne_by_isaac_oliverJohn Donne wrote an excellent sermon which is a good meditation for Easter: ‘The Sedulity of the Devout Women’.

‘Sedulity’ means ‘diligence’. Those women were most sedulous in going to the tomb where Christ lay.

Donne takes for his text Mark 16:2:

And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came to the sepulcher at the rising of the sun.

This is Donne’s sermon, which encourages us to be as devoted and diligent towards Christ as these ladies were (emphases mine):

Consider their sedulity — sedulity that admits no intermission, no interruption, no discontinuance, no indifference in religious offices. Consider we therefore their sedulity, if we can. I say, if we can; because if a man should sit down at a beehive or an ant hill, and determine to watch such an ant or such a bee in its work, he would find that bee or that ant so sedulous, so serious, so various, so concurrent with others, so contributory to others, as that he would quickly lose his marks and his sight of that ant or that bee. So, if we fix our consideration upon these devout women, and the sedulity of their devotion, as the several evangelists present it to us, we may easily lose our sight, and hardly know which was which, or at what time she or she came to the sepulchre. “They came, in the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week,” says St. Matthew; “they came very early in the morning, the first day of the week, at the rising of the sun,” says St. Mark; “they prepared their spices, and rested the Sabbath, and came early the next day,” says St. Luke; “they came the first day when it was yet dark,” says St. John. From Friday evening till Sunday morning they were sedulous, busy upon this service; so sedulous, that thinks these women came four several times to the sepulchre, and that the four evangelists have relation to their four comings, and argues that this variety is no sign of untruthfulness in the evangelists, but testifies the sedulity of the women they speak of, going and coming, and unwilling to be far distant or long absent from their devout exercise. Beloved, true devotion is a serious, a sedulous, an impatient thing. He who said, “I fast twice in the week,” was but a Pharisee; he who can reckon his devout actions is no better; he who can tell how often he has thought upon God today, has not thought upon Him often enough. It is St. [unknown] ‘s holy circle, “to pray that we may hear sermons profitably, and to hear sermons that we may learn to pray acceptably.” Devotion is no marginal note, no interlineary gloss, no parenthesis that may be left out; it is no occasional thing, no conditional thing: “I will go if I like the preacher, the place, the company, the weather;” but it is of the body of the text, and lays upon us an obligation of fervour and continuance.

(John Donne, D. D.)

Donne points out the truth of our failings in our Christian walk. So often, for myself included, it has been one of occasion — and, yes, dependent on the celebrant or the weather — when it should rightly be one of constancy.

We can apply the same obligation of sedulity, or diligence, to our reading of Scripture and particularly of prayer. Donne is so right in saying that if we know how many times a day or a week we are doing these things, we haven’t done them nearly enough.

The women wanted to be near their Lord, hence their diligent devotion to Him, even as He lay in the tomb. They, like the other disciples, were not to immediately understand that Jesus would vanquish death and rise on the third day, even though on more than one occasion He said that He would. On that day, they were ‘terrified’ to find the tomb empty, according to Luke 24:5.

As the women acted towards Jesus in death, let us behave towards Him more reverently and diligently as He lives and reigns as the Risen Christ forever.

Of everything in our lives, He is the most worthy of our sedulity, so let us practice unending, diligent devotion towards Him.

Anyone interested in reading more of Donne’s sermons can find a selection of them at Bible Hub.

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