A Christian Perspective on Mathematics

I recently had the privilege of completing a College Algebra class through Christian Leaders Institute. As I worked my way through the videos, reading assignments and exercises, I was reminded of my first love in school. Throughout my elementary, junior high, and high school years, mathematics was easily my favorite subject.
I am not a role follower, per se, but I do appreciate systems that provide consistent results: they provide a comfortable predictability. I like to know what results my actions, words, or other inputs are going to produce.
As I was growing up, I discovered that people were not predictable. My mother’s response to me were much more dependent upon her mood than my actions, attitudes, or words. I learned often times to avoid her (or shamefully, to lie to her) to avoid a situation that I could not predict.
Likewise, my athletic endeavors were frustrating at best. I was not a coordinated child, and I could never throw a ball the same way twice. I might feel like I was moving the same way each time, but the truth was that I never knew where a ball I threw was going to land.
In school, I struggled with learning grammatically correct English. To, too, or two; there, their, or they’re; and hors d’oeuvres are just some of the examples of English inconsistencies that drove me nuts! In geography, sometimes borders would follow nature delineations. Other times, they would be the arbitrary result of a political negotiation, cultural ideation, or a war time compromise. Spelling included the usual rules of phonics, but there were so many exceptions: “’I’ before ‘E’ except after ‘C’ or in…” The “or” always frustrated me.
Fortunately, mathematics did not seem to have any exceptions. Math was completely predictable. It made sense. It followed a consistent set of rules that yielded consistent results. Math made sense, and as a result, I grew to love math. It was one of the few oases to be found in my tumultuous adolescence.
These rules are helpful. Given an expression such as 10 – 2*3 (ten minus two times three) to solve, consistent rules create order and consistent results. Absent the order of consistency, one could just as easily produce the errant answer of 24 (twenty-four) as the correct answer of 4 (four). The brilliant solution to yield consistency is known as the order of operation.
The order of operation set the consistent standard by which all mathematic expressions should be worked. This order is often remembered as “PEMDAS.” PEMDAS is an abbreviation that reminds mathematicians of the consistent order of operations: Parenthesis, Exponents, Multiplication / Division, Addition / Subtraction. Applying the order of operations to all mathematic expressions allows a universal, orderly manner to achieve consistent results. Performed correctly, the expression 10 – 2*3 will always be done to yield the correct result of 4. Multiplication is done before subtraction, so 2*3 is 6. Subtraction then comes and 10 minus 6 is 4. Every time. Orderly.
God, the Creator and sustainer of life is likewise a God of order. He created a universe with consistent results. Gravity is consistent and reliable. If I jump up, I will land. The sun rises and sets, the moon waxes and wanes, the stars twinkle. Consistent. Reliable. Predictable. Orderly.
1 Corinthians 14:33 tells us that God is not a God of disorder but of peace. While I hesitate to remove this verse from its context, the truth presented does reflect the character of God. God created a vast, complicated, unfathomable universe – but a universe that is predictable and orderly because He is predictable and orderly. God is a God of order. Perhaps that is why mathematics has always been so appealing to me: because I see in the chaos of life a hint of God’s character revealed through the science of mathematics.
As I completed this most recent course of mathematics, I was again reminded of the beauty to be found in math. Algebra certainly adds more coefficients, variables, and rules; however it does so in a consistent order that reminds me of the character of God.

Submit to Your Spouse

February is upon us, and with it comes one of the most intimidating and daunting days of the year. Awkward teenage boys fear this day while young women everywhere anticipate its arrival with great excitement. Wives all across our nation are heartbroken by a plague of men who NEVER understand the meaning and importance of this day.

Valentine’s Day, February 14th every year, is coming and it will bring a surge in the sales of chocolate, roses, and Kleenex. A friend of mine suggested one time that Valentine’s Day was created by a couples’ counselor who needed extra work.

In reality, Valentine’s Day is a remarkable time of year for us to celebrate the most important relationship God has given us (with any person). Whether married, engaged, courting, or “just friends,” this is a day in which we can intentionally pour honor, love, respect, and appreciation upon that one special person in your life.

When a Christian couple is dating, courting, or engaged – the primary purpose of that relationship should be the preparation for marriage. When a couple is married, the marriage relationship should be the most important interpersonal relationship. Period. Your spouse is a gift from God (Proverbs 19:14), fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14), for you to love, honor, cherish, adore, and submit to (Ephesians 5:21-33).

Yes, husband, your wife is to submit to you, but you are to submit to your wife as well. Husband, you should honor your wife, sacrifice yourself for her, love her, cherish and nourish her, and give yourself up for her. What does this mean in your relationship? I don’t know, but your wife does. Ask her.

Wives, yes I know that your husband can sometimes be an insensitive jerk. Often, he doesn’t even seem to respect your time or ideas. How can you submit to someone you are having a hard time respecting? How can you respect a man who doesn’t seem to respect you? By choosing to serve him in love. By choosing to appreciate what he does for you, rather than resent what he doesn’t do for you.

Marriage is a difficult relationship for us, sinners, to get right. Thank God for His Son, gifted to us so that through His life, death, burial, and resurrection we might become the righteousness of God and learn to live this life well. Thank God that at the cross, He gives us hope for marriage.

Men often ask how it is that they can love a wife who does not respect them. Women often ask how they can respect a husband who does not love them. The answer for both is the same: Lead in love, choosing to submit yourself to your spouse out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:21) because He loves you. And maybe Valentine’s Day this year can give you an excuse to practice.

Happy Valentine’s Day!