Posts by Peter Eng

Journey of Hope: it helps to know where to start

“I want to hold him, but he pushes me away,” a mom describes her angst. “I know it is his condition, but I still feel the rejection.” Moms with kids in the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) face challenges others don’t dare to know.

“I have been praying desperately for my son, and when I learned of this treatment, I was so hopeful, but it didn’t work. Sometimes I feel that God is not really listening to my desperate cry for help.”

“This preacher prophesied that my son will be healed of autism, and I believed him. But it has been five years and it doesn’t look like anything is happening.”

“There is no cure, no hope for my kid. I know it and there is nothing to pray about. God won’t be healing my kid, and there is no use praying or trying, or go around looking for a cure.”

How do we find hope when there are so many options and no real promise of a treatment that works? Where is God in all this?

Moms suffer the pain of alienation from their autistic kids. It hurts. God knows the pain of alienation. Jesus cried out, “My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?” when he hung on the cross and suffered the pain of alienation from his Father. But beyond that alienation was great joy.

“ let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverancethe race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrew 12, NIV)

Hang in there with me will you? We will take a route that leads to the perfecting of faith and arrive at the prize of joy.

Did Jesus heal autism?

If you lived during Jesus’ time and you have an autistic child, would you bring him to Jesus for healing? I would jostle crowds, break through a roof, climb a tree, do whatever it takes to get my kid to Jesus for healing. Jesus healed people from all sicknesses, but autism was never mentioned.

It is quite apparent that the term “autism” will not be in the Bible as the term was coined only in the 20th century. Instead, we look for descriptions that might suggest autism, and in a short-handed way talk about autism / ASD in ancient texts. I still cannot find any such description in the Bible.

According to people cleverer than I, the incidence of people with the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is 6-11%. By comparison, the incidence of blindness in India, one of the highest in the world, is 1.6%. Let’s assume people in Jesus’ time had three times more blind people than India. This brings it to 4.8%. If there were more autistic people than blind people and so many of the blind came to Jesus for healing, why didn’t the autistic come?

The world’s oldest medical manuals: the Chinese Huangdi Neijing, the Hippocratic Corpus, and the writings of Galen also fail to identify ASD. Can ASD be an illness that started only in the 20th century, like AIDS, SARS, etc.? Many suspect the 20th century toxins as the culprit: lead, mercury, PCBs, pesticides, dioxin, BPA, car exhaust, etc. Is something poisoning us that we have not figured out? Perhaps we are like the Romans who were poisoned by lead in their drinking water and sweetener and didn’t know it. Some even argue lead poisoning caused the fall of Rome.

Argument from silence is never absolute. But I think there is significant silence on autism in ancient texts all the way through to the 19th century. I know of no ancient text up to the 19th century that identifies autism. My tentative conclusion is that autism was rare or non-existent in biblical times and arose in the 20th century, or maybe a little earlier. So if we look for references to autism in the Bible to find hope, we will be disappointed.

The reality about faith and autism is that the Bible does not talk about it directly. Our hope and prayers are built on the reality that there are probably environmental factors creating this global crisis.

Seven prayers for the parent with an autistic kid

6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4)

The most common way God heals us is “through means.” That is, God uses available means to heal our mind and body. For instance, if a person has a gall stone, the most common means for God to heal is through the hands of a skilled surgeon and through the follow-up treatment.

The problem we have with autism is that we don’t have a cure. Those publications that declare there is no cure for autism should qualify it as “no known cure according to the methods of determination used by the scientific community.”

The first prayer for your child’s healing needs to go beyond your child. What you, and others, really need is a cure for your child’s condition, not just for your child. Pray for a cure, not just a miraculous healing for “my kid.” Pray for those who are looking for an effective treatment for autism, that God will lead them to find a cure for this condition.

The second prayer also goes beyond your immediate troubles. Pray that researchers can discover the cause of autism. This is different from a cure because a cure without knowing the cause. However, knowing the underlying cause is important because it can produce a more robust treatment program and allows a correction to the underlying issues.

The medical establishment has a very rigorous process before they will declare a cure is found. This is good in that it prevents charlatans from cheating us. But it is bad because it also denies the validity of a cure until it has passed through their evaluative processes. If a treatment is already discovered but it is cheap and nobody stands to gain from it, the likelihood is that such expensive and rigorous tests will not be conducted and a sound treatment remains in the realm of anecdotal evidence. This reality leads us to the third prayer. If there is a treatment already discovered, pray the Lord lead you to it. At the same time, ask the Lord to keep you from charlatans who claim a cure only to enrich themselves.

The fourth prayer is for yourself as a caregiver. When you are a caregiver, your health, your strength, your mental state, are all affected. Pray for yourself.

The fifth prayer is for God to provide. A parent with an autistic child faces incredible challenges, not the least of which is the cost of care or treatment. I am not suggesting that God has to provide you money for every flaky scheme out there, but ask God to provide your child’s real needs. Ask the Lord for wisdom to manage your finances. Your needs are likely to be specific – pray for them.

The sixth prayer is for you to understand the role of pain in your life. Some Bible teachers give false hope – this leads to disillusionment. Others give no hope – this leads to despair. I like to suggest to you there is a real hope in the midst of pain. Real hope accepts reality and finds God’s goodness in the midst of what may be a harsh reality. Real hope gives strength and courage in times of despair. Real hope returns happiness to a life surrendered to the tyranny of autism.

The seventh prayer is usually our first and only prayer. I leave this to the last because it is the exception rather than the rule. We pray for God’s supernatural / miraculous intervention to heal our kid. There is every reason for us to believe that the Jesus who healed out of compassion still does so. Some things are not meant to be, for reasons we do not know. But from time to time, God has the blessing of a miraculous healing for an illness.

This last prayer is a rather self-focused prayer. It benefits nobody but you. And that is one reason why God often does not grant it. God hears our cry for help. But he knows things we don’t know, and if our apparent good is not ultimately good, he will not hear us.

God is not a befuddled old chap who indulges our every desire. There are prayers he will not grant, there are prayers he grants in limited instances for reasons he alone knows, and there are prayers he loves to grant. He loves to grant prayers when our hearts are opened to the needs of others, when we pray for the healing of all autistic kids.

Servant of the Lord Jesus Christ

Peter Eng

  • Next article: The journey of hope: it helps to know how it will end
    God’s journey of hope is not a journey just hoping for the best while fearing the worst. God has given secure promises of how your journey will end.

See this: Raising Autistic Kids


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Media, Politics and the Kingdom of God

In my previous blog, I had talked about how Channel News Asia represented the Malaysian General Election 2013.  There is a term for this. It is called Dominant Culture Rhetoric.  This means CNA reports the position of whoever is in power.  If the opposition had won, they become the Dominant Culture and CNA will report things from their perspective.

In contrast, some sites in Singapore are filled with Contra Culture Rhetoric.  These are the sites that attract people who oppose everything that is held by those in power.  All policies are consistently opposed, regardless of their soundness (like the Occupy Movement).  Their role in the larger scheme of things is to provide a platform for dissent. In practical terms, they can improve good policies by pointing out where the weaknesses are.  Contra Culture Rhetoric tends not to have a direction of its own.  They function just to oppose.  It is like the football fan who goes to the game with the T-Shirt “Referee Kayu” (Referee is Dumb [Wood]). They are not there to see if the referee does a good job.  They have decided ahead of time he is not going to do a good job.

I want to make clear my position to you.  I adopt a Counter Culture Rhetoric. This is the type of cultural rhetoric found in the Bible.  The Bible was not pro-Roman empire, nor was it anti-Roman empire.  If it were pro-Roman, you will find the Roman worldview represented.  If it were anti-Roman, you will find a seditious worldview.  We don’t find either.  Instead we find the Bible has its own agenda.

When Jesus came, he inaugurated God’s Kingdom.  It is not a “spiritual-only-kingdom.”  Such a view is Dominant Culture Rhetoric.  It is the view that says it doesn’t matter who holds political power on earth or what they do, the Kingdom of God is a personal thing, it is within your heart.

Interestingly Liberal Theology and Conservative Theology have their own brands of Contra Culture Rhetoric. Liberals have Liberation Theology, and conservatives have disparate expressions such as Reconstructionism, Dominion Theology and Kingdom Now Theology. These see the existing political leaders as evil and are in need of replacement or at the very least, they are the antithesis of Christian values. They tend to suggest a vague and more ideal government, but their main task is to criticize the existing governments.

I believe the Bible is Counter Culture.  It was not pro-Rome, it was not anti-Rome.  The Kingdom of God had its own agenda.  At times it fit into the Roman structure, at times it was diametrically opposed, and at times it was unrelated to the Roman worldview.  Let me give you an example.

The early Christians value human life as people created in God’s image.  They couldn’t love God without loving people. The Roman worldview did not accord an equal value to all human life.  Infanticide was common.  Slaves were killed without any legal consequences.  People of lower social status did not get the justice they needed.  The early Christians set out to realize God’s Kingdom.  They did not try to overthrow Rome under the banner of these human rights abuses (which would not have been seen that way during that time). Instead they rescued abandoned babies and raised them as their own. They insisted that slaves and masters were both brothers in Christ.  The spiritual egalitarianism as the basis of their social interactions rejected the stratified rights found in Roman society. They advocated a legal framework that recognized the equal right to life of every human being.  Instead of killing political leaders, they worked to redeem them from error, sin and destruction.

Counter Culture can, and does confront Dominant Culture.  But it is a moral-ethical confrontation not a confrontation by swords and spears.  It is the rejection of evil by living-out and advocating virtue. Counter Culture has its own culture and does not find its raison d’etre in opposing Dominant Culture. The Kingdom of God is neither pro-government nor anti-government.  Secular governments operate with a set of assumptions.  Some are right and some are wrong.  Secular governments create laws and work out their goals, which may be right or wrong.  The Kingdom of God is based on a different value system – the one taught by Jesus Christ.  The existing government can remain, reform or be replaced.  Jesus Christ is not Democrat or Republican. When he returns, Christ will fully realize his Kingdom on earth.  The Kingdom of God is neither a ‘personal-only/spiritual-only kingdom’ nor is it ‘Kingdom Now.’

Christians are called to live-out and to proclaim the inaugurated Kingdom of God on earth now, and the fulfillment of the Kingdom of God when Christ returns.  We are to live for the present expression of God’s Kingdom while we wait for Jesus himself to bring earth into its glorious future.

My rhetoric is consciously Counter Culture.  I do not have dog in the political fight.  We have a worldview whether we are conscious of it or not. Mine is to live-out and proclaim God’s Kingdom.  You will see me advocating and rejecting things done by the same political entity.  My faith is neither in the PAP, nor WP nor SDP, etc. When I lived in America, I was neither Democrat, nor Republican, nor Libertarian, nor Independent.  I do not live for or against the institutions of man.  I live for the Kingdom of God.

So help me God.

His unprofitable servant,

Peter Eng

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It’s Not the Same

by Peter Eng

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“for a harlot may be hired for a loaf of bread,
but an adulteress stalks a man’s very life.”
(Proverbs 6:26, RSV)

The sun’s last rays are casting long shadows on houses and people alike. One person catches my attention as I look through the lattice of my window. I see this strong, healthy young man returning home from work as he would on other days. He crosses the street to the other side even though the last angry glare of the setting sun blazes on the other side. He is not unique for I see several young men prefer that side of the street as they approach this particular house. Word has gone round that she is a cougar. If you are young and strong, you may get lucky with her.

She steps out of her doorway and faces him as he makes his approach. Those piercing rays shine through her thin gown, showing him what she has to offer. I have seen this before. She is hunting her willing prey.

“Hey big boy,” she says coyly. He stops in his tracks.

“I’m looking for company tonight. Do you want to be my company?” she asks, dripping with honey.

The young man cannot believe his luck. If he is speaking I cannot hear him as he is turned away. But I think he is at a loss for words.

“You are a shy one,” she says, throwing her arms over his neck. But I see you cross the street to pass by here, so I know what you want.” That is when she must have noticed the crucifix around his neck.

Her bases are covered. “I went for confession today, and paid my penance. I donated to the church, and now I am ready for more,” she explains. “God is really quite ok with two people who love each other, and I love this big boy,” she says, placing her finger tips lightly on his heaving chest.

A smile spreads over her face. I can guess his answer.

“Come, my bed is ready! I’m ready. Are you?”

He peeks into her open window.

“Don’t worry! My husband is cool with this. We have an open marriage. He doesn’t mind what he doesn’t see. And he’s gone on a long business trip. Come, I will show you things every young man wants to know.”

My heart is screaming for this man as I see his back slip into the doorway of her house. He is like an ox not knowing that he is going to his slaughter, like a deer about to step into a trap, like a bird feeding into the snare.

(Proverbs 7:6-23, retold as a modern day story)

IamanAdulteress

This is the picture of the little dragon maiden in the Bible. She is called an “adulteress.” The word is used to refer to a thief of marriage. The adulterer is a man who steals another man’s wife. The adulteress is the woman who steals another woman’s husband.

The Bible tells us she is dangerous.

We have been too polite to talk about our sexuality as Christians, and as a result, we fail to understand what the Bible says. Not all extra-marital sex is the same. The adulteress tops the danger list. She is the xiao long nü to Singapore men.

Polygamy

Polygamy stands out as the most apparent marriage difference between Old Testament times and our times. We need to look at this subject squarely because it is the first justification for a man to have more than one woman in his life. Most of us can look back to the generation of our grandparents to see polygamy or concubinage. In our parents’ generation, polygamy or concubinage became uncommon. As a community, we have become more naïve about the xiao long nü, and have lost the Christian skill in handling what must be a common issue for Christians of our grandparents’ generation. I am not suggesting it was easy for them to handle it, but they were more aware of the issue than we are.

Let’s get the short answer about marriage, divorce, and polygamy by diving straight into the teaching of Jesus (Matthew 19, NLT).

3 Some Pharisees came and tried to trap him with this question: “Should a man be allowed to divorce his wife for just any reason?”

As in every age, there were stricter and more lenient views on divorce. We know of three views during the time of Jesus concerning how they read the OT statement on divorce

“When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out from his house,” (Deuteronomy 24:1, NASB). 

This was a trap by the Pharisees because whatever position Jesus took, he would alienate people with the other two views. In a way, as God’s servant, I need to resist this temptation of not declaring the truth for fear of alienating some people.

The strictest Jewish view was that a man may divorce his wife if he finds some gross indecency in her (Greek: porneia, from which we get the word pornography). For instance, he discovers on his wedding night that she has been with others before him; or if she has an affair with another man. The second view was that he may divorce her if he discovers anything displeasing about her, like if she burns his dinner. The third view was that as long as the woman no longer has favor in the husband’s eye, even if he is the one who eyes on other women, he can divorce her (Mishnah Gittin 9.10).

The question of the Pharisees, “Should a man be allowed to divorce his wife for just any reason?” suggests the most lenient position view for Jesus, perhaps thinking that Jesus’ willingness to forgive sinners means he has a lenient view on divorce.

4 “Haven’t you read the Scriptures?” Jesus replied. “They record that from the beginning ‘God made them male and female.’” 5 And he said, “‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.  6 Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.”

Jesus took a position that was stricter than the strictest view! What a shocker! Jesus says the whole point about the marriage relationship goes back to Genesis. At the creation, God made one man, and one woman. And God also made it clear that when a man marries a woman he is setting up his own family. He leaves his parents’ home physically and emotionally and joins to his wife to become one (as a principle, not to be used as an excuse for abandoning one’s parents). The physical union of husband and wife establishes the oneness of these two persons. So, let no one split these two persons now become one.

In this, as in other interpretation of the OT, Jesus returns us to God’s intention. That is our starting point. Before we ask, “Is polygamy allowed?” we need to get back to the more basic question, “What is God’s intention?” We need to return to God’s heart. That is the right starting point. And God’s heart for us in marriage is clearly expressed. God’s purpose for husband and wife is for them to remain together until death takes them apart.

7 “Then why did Moses say in the law that a man could give his wife a written notice of divorce and send her away?” they asked.

Jesus’ answer begs the question, “Why the provision for divorce if marriage is meant for life?” It is a fair question indeed!

8 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted divorce only as a concession to your hard hearts, but it was not what God had originally intended. 9 And I tell you this, whoever divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery—unless his wife has been unfaithful.”

Herein lies the rub. Divorce is a concession. The focus on permission for divorce is incorrect. Instead, Jesus gives a ruling that astounded his disciples. Jesus explains that Deuteronomy is talking about a man discovering his wife’s unfaithfulness with another man. Not some frivolous reason like a man’s own lust for another woman, or his wife becoming displeasing because of a burnt dinner, or just any indecency which a culture might impose (like showing her face in public). It is strictly limited to marital unfaithfulness.

The only justifiable reason for a man to divorce a woman is when she is unfaithful to him. The looseness of the Law of Moses was a concession because of “the hardness of your hearts.”

divorce-spells

We need to recall that while the nation of Israel was supposed to be a nation of faith, the reality is that there were as many rascals there as anywhere else. If the national legislation insists on God’s ideal without any concession for the evil in man, there would be worse consequences for the wife. We still see this in some parts of the world. When a woman does not bring the promised dowry, she could be killed by the man. In those days, when a woman may have to leave her village to go to her husband’s, she has to place herself under her husband’s care and protection. If her husband is evil and wants to put her away, but the law does not allow it, what would happen? She would clearly be in grave danger because of “the hardness of your hearts.”

Jesus makes it clear that God’s children live by a different standard. We do not impose an ideal on everyone. We need to recognize that national laws promote good by limiting evil. Laws are notoriously ineffective in enforcing good directly. We need to want to do good; we cannot legislate people to moral good.

10 Jesus’ disciples then said to him, “If this is the case, it is better not to marry!”

We are like Jesus’ first disciples. We rarely focus on the crux of Jesus’ teaching – God’s intention for two people when they get married. We focus on the dos and don’ts. Shocked by the strictness of Jesus, they responded by saying, “In that case, once you are married you are committed for life! That is terrible! It is better not to get married in the first place!”

Even the disciples of Jesus found it hard to embrace God’s intention of marriage. They were children of their culture. They were influenced by existing interpretations of the Law of Moses. And we like them are children of our age. Our idea of marriage, or of sexual morality, is more deeply affected by our culture than we care to admit. The polygamous native finds it hard to understand monogamy. The easy divorce of our day looks at Jesus’ view as too restrictive – just as his own disciples did. But truth is truth. Jesus comes to reveal God’s heart to us – even if it is not what we like to hear.

11 “Not everyone can accept this statement,” Jesus said. “Only those whom God helps. 12 Some are born as eunuchs, some have been made eunuchs by others, and some choose not to marry for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.”

Accept which statement? Jesus’ statement or the disciples’ statement? I believe Jesus is responding to his disciples’ statement. The disciples were saying, “If marriage is such a permanent arrangement, it is better for a person not to get married.” The content of Jesus’ reply is to “not marrying.”

Jesus affirms singlehood, or not marrying, or celibacy is a valid option. But singlehood is not for everyone. Not marrying is a grace that is granted to some with God’s help. We must understand that in our loud and crude world, we can miss out the polite euphemisms in older writings. The discussion about eunuchs is about celibacy.

There are three classes of people. Some are born eunuchs, meaning they find celibacy quite natural in their life and don’t feel the need for sexual intimacy. So not marrying is fine with them. Some are made eunuchs by others. Celibacy or singlehood is imposed on them. These are people who may feel the natural desires for intimacy or companionship, but choose to place such desires under control and remain single for the sake of the Kingdom of God. While Catholics overemphasize this last point and turn it into a requirement for their clergy, Protestants ignore it, and sometimes contradict it by requiring their clergy to be married.

Jesus closes the discussion on singlehood by saying, “If you are able to accept singlehood, go ahead.”

Now we return to the immediate subject at hand – polygamy. Christians live under the inaugurated Kingdom of God. We have a set of principles that are different from the world’s. To the extent that the world embraces God’s best, they find blessings. But as a rule of thumb, we mind our own house before minding the house of others. And the household of God is patterned according to God’s purpose in marriage: one man, one woman, as long as they both shall live.

If our conversation on marriage dwells on God’s concessions, we miss the point; and we miss the blessing because we ignore God’s best. Polygamy was a concession for an ancient people who did not have a social framework like ours.

On polygamy itself, we need to see that certain protocols apply in the Old Testament, and these protocols are shared with other cultures that practice polygamy. The global culture of polygamy retains a certain order that we modern people may not understand. That is to say, in polygamy, the first wife never loses her place. This is essential for the family unit to remain. In the case of Jacob who had Leah as first wife by mistake, her position was not changed even when he also took on Rachel, and then the slave girls of Leah and Rachel.

The adulteress is not the second wife or the surrogate child-bearing slave girls. The adulteress is not the desperate, destitute slave girl who subjects her body to the wishes of her mistress or master. She is an independently minded woman who seeks to conquer.

Even when polygamy was practiced, there was a breed of women called the adulteress. She was not the second or third wife. She was not a concubine (a slave bought for sexual gratification). She was not a surrogate child-bearer. She was a special breed of women who preyed on men to get something from them. And eventually, she preyed on their soul.

The One-Night Stand

There is the once-off foolishness of both men and women. This is the one-night stand type of marital unfaithfulness. It is wrong, but it is not in the same class as the adulteress, the little dragon maiden.

Sex before Marriage

This is so common today even though it is not acceptable Christian conduct. I will not dwell on this except to say that so many Christians today go for their honeymoon before marriage. I refer to those vacations together sharing the same room. What happens behind closed doors between two persons should not become a public spectacle. Yet there is a natural assumption of intimacy when that happens. It is like when a court hears a case of a charge of adultery against a spouse. If there is evidence that two persons are alone in a darkened or private place for an extended period of time, especially if it is repeated, that is adequate proof of adultery. Vacations before marriage surely falls under this same assumption.

The sex before marriage phenomenon is something single Christians can take a stand in obedience to God’s intention that intimacy is to be engaged in a marriage relationship.

We need to remember that the love nest the little dragon maiden makes is not the love nest of two young people who allow their passion to get ahead of their commitment.

The Prostitute

The Bible compares the man who visits a prostitute to the victim of the adulteress (the little dragon maiden):

“for a harlot may be hired for a loaf of bread,
but an adulteress stalks a man’s very life. (Proverbs 6:26, RSV).

The one who says “Yes” to a harlot is poorer by the cost of a meal. The prostitute wants you to pay her the cost of a meal. But the adulteress is not after that cost of a meal, she is after your very life.

We must not imagine that this verse gives permission to engage prostitutes. It is addressing the cost factor, not the moral factor. There is no justification for patronizing prostitutes. When we compare the two events, the grave danger of the little dragon maiden becomes clear. A prostitute will make you poorer by the cost of a meal. But the little dragon maiden is after your very life.

She will hook you, reel you in, take all you have, destroy your family, and reduce you to nothing. You will have no home, no family, no career, no dignity, no friends.

There is a huntress out there. She is looking for Singapore men. She is your lucky break xiao long nü. Can you recognize her? In reality, they exist in every culture.

In Greek mythology, the Sirens of the Sea are beautiful but dangerous creatures. They sing to sailors and lure them towards a shipwreck against the rocks. Some modern people think that all ancient folks believe in a literal breed of women called the Sirens. But we forget that cultural myths are not there for you to believe them literally. They are created for the community so they have a moral reference point. And the moral teaching of the Siren of the Seas is the danger of the beautiful woman who says things you find irresistible only to shipwreck your life.

Fables serve the same purpose. Chinese fables have a fox spirit (huli jing), with a Korean counterpart (kumiho). This fox (huli is gender neutral in Chinese) is always portrayed as a female, a vixen. She transforms herself into a beautiful woman. She offers him all the delights of the flesh, flattery, exquisite food, and anything a man of appetite may desire. She works very hard at getting her man. The point of these fables, which grew out of the social context of polygamy, is that there is a woman who seeks to ensnare men to take their very life. This is no indulgence in peccadillos. It only looks that way. There is a type of peccadillos that will claim your soul.

I want to make another appeal to you that we commit a grave injustice if we regard women from China as such vixens. The real men and women of China are as much victims of the vixen as men and women in Singapore. In addition, Singapore is very capable of producing our own vixens. The vixen of our day, our little dragon maiden, is enjoying great success and feasting on the souls of fallen men because our men choose to be victims.

If we see the threat the little dragon maiden in sex alone, we miss the point. “Free” sex is only the appetizer. The little dragon maiden allows herself to be conquered. This feeds the ego. She allows herself to love you for a time, but her objective remains clear, so if you test her love, you will not find it wanting. She strokes your ego while your wife points out your faults. She bears her own burdens while your wife asks you to share hers. And it is also quite common for her to “accidentally” get pregnant. Now it becomes the right thing for you to be with her. She ties you down morally and emotionally. Your child with her is a reality you have to deal with the rest of your life.

Conclusion

The little dragon maiden is not the second wife in polygamy, not the sex object in concubinage, not the one-night stand, not sex before marriage, and not the prostitute. She is the “adulteress” in the Bible. Not the regular use of the word adulterer or adulteress, but a special reference to the woman who seeks the soul of her victims.

In the material realm, she wants your money, your security, your achievements. She is not really out to destroy you, she is out for herself. She goes for the older men who have already accumulated wealth. But in the process of getting what she wants, she will not hesitate to destroy the rival first wife or your life. In the spiritual realm, she has become a tool of the devil. Don’t hate her. She needs redemption just as we need redemption. She is not the real enemy. She is the agent of our true enemy, the devil.

This does not suggest that men are any better. Men become what women want of them, and women become what men want of them. Men are often willing victims of sexual temptations. And when his appetite demands attention, he is more than happy to satisfy his craving. Men’s lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and pride of life created the xiao long nü.

24 Now then, my sons, listen to me;
pay attention to what I say.
25 Do not let your heart turn to her ways
or stray into her paths.
26 Many are the victims she has brought down;
her slain are a mighty throng.
27 Her house is a highway to the grave,
leading down to the chambers of death.
(Proverbs 7, NIV)


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.Happiness in the Future

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A Mind Trap in Politics and in Faith

I have listened to the Singapore Media coverage on the Malaysian election and it tells me more about Singapore Media than it does about the Malaysian election.

Before the election, I hear this: the opposition (DAP & PAS) is strong, BN is not playing the race card this election, if the opposition wins, the Islamic Party (PAS) wants to introduce Hudud (Islamic penal code).

After the election, I hear this: BN won. Opposition is unhappy and claims there are irregularities at the polls, but not a single specific is given.

If I just listen to such information, I would be quite concerned that the opposition might win.  And after the opposition lost, it sounds like they are sore losers. Perhaps there is real danger of Hudud, perhaps there isn’t. I don’t know enough.

The Roman statesman Cicero used to ask his slaves to go to the market place to see what the satirists and comedians are saying. They have a pulse on what is happening politically. And by chance, I came across a YouTube video.  A satire on the election.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PjGG5sxt0WM[/youtube]

I didn’t understand everything he was saying, but what I could understand was quite amusing.  So I decided to ask Malaysians what he meant, and I got a earful!  It seems the grievances of the opposition are not frivolous after all.

Suddenly I realize I am a victim of Channel News Asia – again. How so?  They raise issues like Hudud.  The net result of listening to the discussion on the danger of Hudud being introduced into Malaysia is that some will think it is a problem if the opposition wins because it is a coalition that includes PAS which wants to introduce Hudud.  Some will think it is not a problem for the opposition to win because the introduction of Hudud would require a change in the constitution which PAS will never be able to swing.  Those who think Hudud is a real danger if the opposition wins will lean towards BN.  Those who do not think it is a problem do not necessarily lean towards the opposition.  So raising the issue of Hudud is a net loss for the opposition and a net gain for BN.

Channel News Asia does not address the issue of why Bangladeshis show up in droves with new Malaysian identifications and money in their pockets, and does not press home the issue of the finger ink that can be easily washed off.  If Channel News Asia focuses on these, again, some will form the opinion that BN is not guilty of fraud, and others will think they are guilty.  The net result of such deliberations will be a net loss for BN and a net gain for the opposition.

I don’t know enough about Malaysian politics to render an opinion about who is better or worse.  But I want you to be aware that Channel News Asia has highly biased reporting.  They do not tell lies, but by selecting the issues in a certain way, they create a prejudice in us. They support BN.

Why I am talking about this?  For one, I am interested in how information is disseminated.  I don’t have a dog in the fight in Malaysia’s General Election.  But I have an interest in how people try to condition our thinking with the information they give.

I find this to be true in the realm of faith and life.

Let’s take the example of homosexual marriage. If the subject is framed as a “tolerance” issue, it is hard to say, “I choose to be intolerant.”  But the issue is not about tolerance, it is about God’s intention for us.  The Bible is clear that homosexuality is not God’s intention, and that it is sinful in his eyes. But that is probably not the way to frame the conversation.

The agenda to promote homosexuality as no more than an alternative is clearly grievous to God.  Evangelical Christians begin to polarize at the other end, and see their task as confronting the homosexual agenda. Our response is due in part to how we frame the issue.

Homosexuality, like many other anti-God agendas, are grievous to God.  Infanticide is grievous to God. Pre-marital sex is grievous to God. Abortion is grievous to God.  Substance abuse is grievous to God.  How do we frame these other issues?  Do we not oppose these agendas by declaring the Good News that they can be delivered from these sins through Jesus Christ who loved them and died for them?

The devil is sly – like the media.  He frames the issue in such a way that he wins.  If we become tolerant of homosexuality, then this sin becomes acceptable and he wins.  If we become intolerant of homosexuality, then homosexuals become unreachable for Christ and he wins.  The only question is whether he wins big or small.

Christians need to reframe the homosexual issue.  We should not enter into a conversation that gives the devil the victory regardless of the outcome of that conversation.

I am not the expert in this conversation, but I like to suggest that Christian conversation should focus on how to be effective agents of the Holy Spirit to convict the world of sin and redemption in Jesus Christ.  Perhaps we should talk about how to reach people with a certain sexual proclivity. We need to talk about how they need Jesus like any other person.  If a person has a proclivity to substance abuse, we frame our conversation with them in terms of hope in Jesus.  If a person has a proclivity to steal, we speak of salvation in Jesus.  These people may or may not see the need for salvation – just like the homosexual. But we do not have a conversation with these people as though they are our “enemies.” We see them as victims of sin and we love them and long for their deliverance.  We should learn to extend the same love towards homosexuals.  They are not our enemies. Like us, they are sinners in need of redemption.

The public conversation about homosexuality is framed in such a way that the devil wins.  I invite better minds than myself to reframe the conversation so that Jesus wins regardless of how the conversation goes.

In your humble service,

Peter Eng

Prosperity Gospel Exposed

Invite-Only Seminar

Singapore has embraced a false teaching.  It is the Prosperity Gospel. This false teaching is difficult to spot – even for veteran Christians.

Pastor Peter Eng will be conducting a specialized seminar evaluating different Prosperity Gospel preachers through a discussion on what consitutes sound interpretation (Applied Hermeneutics). 

This seminar is limited 20 people on a rolling registration (first-come-first-serve).

Date: 24 May 2013 (Vesak Day – Friday)
Time: 1pm – 9pm
Place: Sophia Rd

Meals: Lunch is not provided.  Dinner is provided.
Cost: Free (freewill donation)

If you think you will benefit from this Seminar but have not received an invite, please write to admin@thewell.sg to register.

Little Dragon Maiden

By Peter Eng

 

 

 

“And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.”
(Revelation 20:2)

“My husband is divorcing me and leaving our two children behind because he is going to his xiao long nü (little dragon maiden).”

My archetype of the China woman is O-Lan in the wonderful novel “The Good Earth.” She leaves the strongest impression in my mind because she typifies the steel in so many Chinese women. She lives in a social prison that undervalues women but she remains strong. She works in the field alongside her husband (Wang Lung), gives birth and returns to work with no fuss. She is a slave sold to her poor farmer husband without her choice, but she remains loyal to him. Famine comes. She is so desperate she kills her second daughter so the other children can survive.

When their fortunes turn with her significant contribution, her husband goes to the tea house and Lotus Flower, a dream-like beauty captures his imagination. O-Lan learns her husband plans to sell whatever he needs to so he can buy Lotus Flower from the brothel and bring her home. She had strength for the hardship of farming, for surviving the famine, even for killing her own daughter. But she crumbles when her husband seeks another. This woman of steel melts in tears.

O-Lan is etched in my mind. She is the unappreciated first wife. Lotus Flower is able to make Wang Lung squander on her. He is bewitched and can only see her beauty, the sex she offers, her charms, and what his success can buy him. And when he is not around, Lotus Flower sleeps with his eldest son.

Lotus Flower is that little dragon maiden. The dragon maiden of our time is more vicious. She is not content to spend the wealth, but she schemes to make-off with the wealth. She stalks her victim, seizes him, consumes him, and steals his soul.

Modern_Legand_Dragon_Maiden_by_Bianca_Murasaki

The dragon maiden is so prevalent in Singapore that you most likely know a husband who has ditched his wife and children for one. I was away from Singapore about 10 years when I returned more than a year ago. In this short time back, I have heard of and seen so many victims of the xiao long nü.

Christian men are not exempt from her charms. Many have abandoned their wife, children, and God, for the delight of a little dragon maiden who seeks to devour him. What a raw deal!

We must not suggest in any way that all women from China are dragon maidens. Many marriages with China women, even arranged ones, involve women in the character of O-Lan and not Lotus Flower. But I think we attract so many xiao long nü because our men meet their profile: gullible, wealthy, and lusting. Also, we share the same language and this allows them to work their charms.

There are so many dragon maidens here that many Singaporeans simply consider all China women to be such. Instead of this wrong generalization, we need to see the xiao long nü goes where the hunting is good. And it is good here in Singapore.

The broken families caused by the little dragon maidens have reached crisis proportions. It is so prevalent that we do not need a poll to tell us we are in trouble as a country, and we are in double trouble as Christians. No single temptation has, in such a short time, decimated Christian men more than the success of the little dragon maiden. But like the dragon of old that God cast down, and like the dragon he will bind for a thousand years, God is calling on Christians to lead the nation back to God and back to family.

“For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12, NLT).

To Men

I need to emphasize that I do not come to you as one who has all the answers, nor as one who is now impervious to the same temptations you face. Instead, I come to you as one who does not deserve God’s mercy, but God, in his forbearance, saved me from such darkness.

Men, the little dragon is casting her spell on you. Your money brings her to you. Your own lusts bring you to her. You love the feeling of power when you can buy her. This woman then works so hard to please you. You compare her sweetness to your angry wife and she draws you tighter into her embrace. Before you know it, you are snared with no escape. You just double down your bet on her and hope she is not make-belief. But you will discover “all that glitters is not gold.” She is the spawn of the dragon. Do not be a willing victim.

No way out? Repent and come to Jesus. His arm is not too short that he cannot save you from that fowler’s snare.

To women

You have reason to be hurt, to be angry, and to lash out. Some of you don’t know if you want your husband back. Some of you don’t know how to get your husband back. Some of you have already lost your husband. There is a way forward for you. It will be different for each betrayed wife, but God has not left you without direction.

To all the hurting women, I say this. God knows your pain. Jesus said, “If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it” (Matthew 16:25, NLT). You need to surrender your life to Jesus and let him take charge. You need to surrender your husband to Jesus, to turn his heart towards God. The solution of the world is me-centered: it is about what you can do. There are things you can do, but to limit things this way almost certainly brings failure. Your situation is so devastating that unless God intervenes, your effort is in vain.

To those not caught in this trap

The dynamics of temptations are the same. Even if your besetting sin is totally unrelated to the issue at hand, if you stay with us, you will discover the wiles of the evil one and God’s deliverance in Jesus Christ our Lord. This conversation is completely relevant to you. You may not have fallen into the snare of the little dragon maiden. You may not even have little dragon maidens where you live—by the grace of God. Perhaps like me, you have little or no knowledge of the Chinese language, which is an effective barrier from this particular temptation. But too many of us have a besetting sin – a sin that keeps us away from the true joy of living in close fellowship with God, a sin that gets the better of us. What delivers men from the snare of the little dragon maiden are the same tools that will deliver you from your besetting sin.

Spiritual transformation

Like a city that is broken into and without walls
Is a man who has no control over his spirit.
(Proverbs 25:28, NASB)

God did not design men to be like cities without walls, to be people who have no control over our sexual urges, to always give in to the ape that gibbers in the loins. God has given each man the power to come out stronger with the temptations, come out more perfect, more complete, than when he first enters the fray.

God has not designed women to be victims. In Christ, women have more freedom than ever before. But there is a greater freedom yet for you. If you let this pain draw you into God’s presence, you will enter into a time of greater blessing than you can imagine. He will crown you with beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, a heart filled with praise instead of heaviness (Isaiah 61:3). God knows your broken heart because his heart was broken. He knows your righteous jealousy because he is also a jealous God. He knows your anger, because the ones he loves also provoke him to anger. He knows your rejection because he was rejected. God is with you, and he longs to speak to you, if you will listen.

What if it’s all too late? What if your husband has already divorced you? Is there a message of hope for you? Yes! Especially you! Do we think that God’s heart does not break when ours break? When the husband of your youth ditches you for another, will God not respond to this injustice? We will learn more of this.

Tough questions

Let us get straight to the point and ask some very tough questions, and then turn to the word of God to enter the heart of God.

“In the OT, there is polygamy. Why don’t we allow it today? Is it the duty of the man to remain monogamous, or is it the duty of the woman to accept the man’s multiple wives?”

“Many Christians divorce for all types of reasons. Is it wrong to divorce when things are not working out with my first wife?”

“There is no more love between us anymore. You cannot force me to love my wife. Isn’t it is better for us to just accept the situation and move on?”

“If my husband expects me to work hard to keep him, he can forget it. Why should I? He doesn’t deserve me.”

“Can I divorce my husband? Should I divorce my husband?”

“Can I divorce my wife? Should I divorce my wife?”

My prayer

Lord Jesus, you suffered. You enter into our suffering and we enter into yours. Lord, deliver us from our pain, our failure, our despair. Return husband to wife and wife to husband. What you join together, let no one put asunder. Heal your children. Heal this land. Many of your children turned aside to sin. Jesus, turn us back to you. Give us a love for holiness and a hatred for sin. Make us whole again, for your own glory, make us holy. Amen.

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It’s Your Fault!

By Peter Eng

 

 

 

8The child grew and was weaned, and on the day Isaac was weaned Abraham held a great feast. 9But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking, 10and she said to Abraham, “Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.”

11The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son. 12But God said to him, “Do not be so distressed about the boy and your slave woman. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned. 13I will make the son of the slave into a nation also, because he is your offspring.”

Genesis 21:8-13 (NIV)


It happened this morning during my not-so-early run.

A car made a turn and stopped across the pedestrian-crossing. To make matters worse, there was a second car behind him. The morning rush hour traffic was heavy as usual, and that second car, now stuck out where the driver would rather not be – in the yellow box junction. This left the pedestrians the unpleasant task of weaving behind the first car and in front of the second. So what was that second driver to do when there is space for him to go? He should get out of the yellow box or he would be blocking traffic, but the pedestrians now with the right-of-way would be walking in front of his car. Then, it happened.

The second car blasted long and angry honks at whoever was in front of him, for him to move. At some point, he decided that it was the fault of the car in front of him that he was stuck in the yellow box. But he would not have been in this situation had he not made the turn when he was not supposed to. But it is always the other person’s fault, isn’t it?

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Aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing

America took in the Tsarneav brothers, the Boston Marathon bombers. This generous country showered them with kindness when they left their war-ravaged Chechnya. America gave them a home, many freedoms, and placed them on welfare to assist them. At some point, they were radicalized and decided to bomb the people who showed them kindness and generosity. When the bombing took place, their father insisted they are framed by America. Never mind the reality of their follow-up shooting of an MIT Campus police officer, the additional bombs they had in their possession that they tossed at the police pursuing them, and the inevitable video recordings from cameras on the police cruisers, the shoot-out with the police, the Russian warning to America about the elder son, etc. Their father is still saying it is America’s fault. Their mother is also saying her sons are innocent. It is like they were shooting paint balls. The bombing was fake, and the death and injuries were made up. It’s America’s fault.

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Yasukuni: shrine to more than 1000 Japanese war criminals

The current Prime Minister of Japan, Abe visited the Japanese war shrine that honors the Japanese war criminals as national heroes, when he was the leader of the opposition. To this day, Japan claims that during WW2, they liberated Manchuria, China, Malaya, Burma, Philippines, Singapore, etc. To this day, they deny their blood guilt of the Nanking massacre, the massacres in Philippines, Singapore and elsewhere. Their school text books tell the lies of Japan’s glorious liberation of Asia from the western colonial powers. They were not at fault. We owe them a debt of gratitude for liberating us from the colonial powers.

It doesn’t matter whether that person is a Singaporean, a Chechnyan, or Japanese. Our tendency is to believe it is the other person’s fault, no matter how impossible that proposition really is.

It brings me to the sobering reality of repentance. Jesus said that when he leaves, he will send the Holy Spirit to be with us. “And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8).

The natural man is not inclined to see his own sin. It takes that radical work of the Holy Spirit in our life before we can see our own sin. When we repented of our sin, even if it were just an intellectual assent without the tears of heartfelt repentance or the joy of true forgiveness, “unless the Father who sent Me draws him,” we would never have come. “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:44). It starts with our repentance and it ends with our resurrection. It starts with the acknowledgement of sin, and it ends with the defeat of sin – in our resurrection.

What a wonderful Savior is Jesus my Lord!

Last night, while sending off an old friend at the airport, I had the privilege of conversing with a very knowledgeable church elder about Reformed Theology. And one of the points we touched on briefly was “total depravity.”It is the theology that we are totally incapable of coming to God unless the Holy Spirit of God draws us to himself. I like to believe that this truth is commonly accepted by Christians. But I am less certain about how deeply we understand our own inability to see our sins clearly and come to God in repentance. In our natural state, any issue tends to be the other person’s fault.

Let us drink deeply of God’s grace in opening our eyes to see our own fault. It is only in seeing our own fault that we can repent, and receive the greatest gift – even eternal life – our resurrection.

The prince of this world is the prince of darkness, the father of lies. He has cast his spiritual darkness over all mankind. And we see this darkness every day when we see people just incapable of seeing their own faults. Our spiritual warfare is not against the blind, but against blindness, and against the one who caused this blindness. Think of a doctor who makes it his life mission to fight blindness. He does not hate blind people. The opposite is true. He loves blind people so he fights blindness.

I know I don’t love people nearly enough. I know there is a tendency in me to be annoyed by “unreasonable” people who cannot see their own faults. Yet I know that when I do not live by the Spirit of God, I am equally unreasonable. And God, out of his great patience, did not write me off, but drew me in. I know this is one area the Lord has been speaking to me this week. I need to see my own blindness and that will help me love those who cannot yet see.

By the love of God and the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, we see and we repent. But I know this is a continuing grace, because every so often, I am the driver of that second car, the Tsarneav parent, or the Japanese who honor mass murders. The Christian is given the amazing gift of the Holy Spirit who teaches us from day to day where our fault lies. Not as a guilt trip that blames self for every wrong, but to see that even when I am right, I am rarely completely free of contributory factors.

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