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In this column, Ben Witherington III answers questions about:

  • Adam's rib or Adam's side?
  • Spouses struggling over money
  • Tongues vs. prophecy
  • Can Satan hurt children?
  • Putting a fleece before God
  • Genealogies in Genesis
  • Who compiled the New Testament?
  • Why is the King James Version so revered?
  • Is it possible to lose salvation?
  • How is the Tower of Babel related to Pentecost?

    Where in the Bible does it say that Eve was taken from Adam’s left rib? I have only read that she was taken from his side.

    It doesn't say this anywhere in the Bible. It is a later mythological tradition.

    In this era of two-income families, I am looking for direction on family finances. My husband provided well for our family while our children were growing up and I was not working. As soon as I went back to work after we become empty nesters, the problems started. Should all the income go to one account and be budgeted jointly? We did that, but my husband treated the joint account as "his," and if he wanted to spend $500 on an item, he did. I, on the other hand, had to get any purchase I wanted to make "pre-approved." I see in Proverbs 31 a woman who seems to have total control of her money; she is able to make business decisions independently of her husband. I have read several of the current Christian budget books and find no clear direction on this dilemma. Please help!

    Finances are always a touchy subject in a family, as they reflect the level of trust between husband and wife, and also become a means of controlling one another. This is unfortunate, and I would suggest that you need to have a frank conversation about the double standard that seems to be being applied in your situation.

    You are right to point to Proverbs 31, and we could even point to the widow with her two copper coins in Mark 12:41-44 or the Parable of the Lost Coin in Luke 15. The upshot of such texts is that women did and should have access to some funds, and should be trusted to be good stewards of what they have.

    One way to avoid the "your money-my money" tussle is to recognize that whoever makes the money, it all belongs to God, and we are just stewards of it. This being so, you need to ask questions about how you and your husband can be better stewards of the money, and not just impulse buyers. You need to rebuild trust; you should sacrifice and defer to each other in order to reestablish that trust.

    In 1 Corinthians 14:22, Paul states that tongues is a sign for unbelievers, but prophesying is for believers. Then in verses 23-25, he goes on to explain how tongues are a sign for believers and prophecy is a sign for unbelievers. Paul seems to contradict himself. Can you reconcile these verses?

    This is not quite what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14. When he uses the term "sign," he is talking about a sign of judgment or conviction. Prophecy is a sign to believers that can convict or exhort them, but tongues will only alienate unbelievers and so is a sign of judgment on them, revealing their distance from God. You will notice, in fact, that Paul does not repeat the word "sign" in verses 24-25. He does not call prophecy a sign for unbelievers for the very good reason that hearing it may convert them, not judge them, and the word "sign" implies judgment. Prophecy is intelligible speech, and as such it can not only exhort the believer; it can convict, convince, and convert the unbeliever.

    Tongues, on the other hand, is an indicator to believers, who understand the phenomenon to be a spiritual gift—that God is moving on the assembly and that some believers are prompted to respond in angelic prayer language, which is what glossalalia is (see 1 Cor. 13:1).

    I have often heard that Satan has to ask God's permission before touching a child of God or doing anything horrible. Is this true? If that is so, does God give reasons for allowing pain and sickness to affect children?

    Perhaps you are thinking of Job 1-2, where Satan is given permission to test Job. Job, however, was not a child, but rather an exemplary adult. There is nothing in the Bible that suggests that God gives permission to Satan to torment children, nor that God afflicts them directly. Human suffering is a mystery, and most of the causes are not supernatural, but natural.

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