The issue of offices came up in the context of our study of holiness.
My original presentation a few years ago said we needed to sanctify time, land, stuff and people in that order since that was the Scriptural order. Then I found I had been careless in my research and people were actually sanctified before stuff.
Before the Exodus and again before giving the Ten Commandments, the people of Israel were ordered to sanctify themselves. It was only later that we have the Tabernacle and all its utensils (stuff) sanctified.
So my sequence for pursuing holiness became cleansing time, land, people and then stuff.
Then we discovered that the office of priest was sanctified. That opened up a huge new field of discussion as we explored holiness in the context of offices.
I think of the civil offices. For 40 years we have been electing fine upstanding Christians to office only to have them get a radical lobotomy the day after they are sworn in. Now I think I understand why.
Let’s take a theoretical elected office that is 200 years old. All sorts of good and bad people have held that office. Today, the office has the accumulated defilement of all the bad people who did all the bad things to it, plus all the anointing of all the good people who did good things.
Since we never cleansed the office, when the godly elected official was sworn in, he or she immediately became sheep dipped in the collective defilement of the past history. No wonder . . .
At present we have five items in the order of sanctification: time, land, people, stuff, offices. I suspect there may be more that will emerge over time, so this subject is still open.
As I looked at the topic of offices, it became messy in a hurry. Clearly prophet, priest and king were Old Testament offices. The fivefold seem to be New Testament offices.
But what about judge, patriarch, seer, chief musician or gatekeeper? Are those offices in the same way that we consider the first three to be offices?
I don’t know. What constitutes an office, and what is merely a job description? We don’t have parameters to measure them yet. In our pursuit of understanding how to sanctify an office, we have a lot of studying to do.
But we started by trying to wrap our arms around the “So what?” question. What does it look like on Monday morning for the ever famous Fred and Sally Jones in East Overshoe, Iowa?
Suddenly the few gray areas became a virtual swamp of unexpected possibilities. It began when I was chatting with an adult male who has some strange dynamics in his life. We poked around for a while and finally came up with the unusual conclusion that he had never been in the office of son. Although he had a father present in his life, he was clearly marginalized compared to his siblings and not allowed the privileges of being a son.
So tentatively we added the office of son to the list, although it felt as though “office” might not be the right word, or if it was, there needed to be a subset.
Then I ran into a real dilemma. One person described never being certain she deserved to exist. She felt she ought to apologize for breathing the air, for taking up space, for simply being.
I knew she had a rough pregnancy, so I began to wonder, “is there such a thing as the ‘office’ of personhood, and this lady had never been allowed to be in that office?”
I still don’t know whether we have the right term or not when we call the following things an “office.” What I do feel strongly about is that it is normative to go through these categories, and if we don’t it has implications for our adult interpersonal relationships.
The list I see now, subject to revision, is: person, son, daughter, adult, man, woman, husband, wife, grandparent.
Now here is the rub. It appears to me that if you miss the office of son or daughter, it blocks you from the office of man or woman. You go from being a child to being an adult. As an adult, you bring value to the society, you can be celebrated for your achievements, you can have friends, make money, own a house, and all those other things but never be recognized as a man or a woman.
Bringing that down to where the rubber meets the road, there are two specific applications for females. If you become an adult without becoming a woman because you were never a daughter, you are quite likely to end up in one of two problem situations.
The first is that you remain single and are not sought out by men. These are the women who never get asked out on a date. They are simply not seen as women, they are seen as highly competent, desirable work mates, but not as female adults.
Worse is when such an adult who is not a woman does marry. They are the ones who never feel respected and honored by their husband as equal partners in the marriage. Rather, they feel used as a mere child bearer, dish washer and income earner.
It is in that context that I want to explore the subject of what it means for a girl child to be a full fledged daughter. And specifically, if you were not raised as a daughter, what can you do as an adult female to become an adult woman who is treasured as a women.
I don’t have rock solid answers for you since this is a half baked potato. But I think there is enough grist in the mill for us to take an initial swipe at developing some healing steps for this very prevalent problem.
I may not get the next article written right away since I am a few days out from being home, but it will come. Pray into this series because I think we will plow some deep ground.
Copyright September 2011 by Arthur Burk
Overlooking a sea of neon signs