Dear Exhale, Abortion Isn’t Peacemaking

Steve Peacock over at WND reports that pro-choice “pro-voice” group Exhale is touring the country telling “hopeful” stories about murderous “mothers” who are “brave” enough to speak.

My open challenge to Exhale is this: visit the site and discuss with me how you can call abortion “peacemaking.” Your pledge reads:

I am pro-voice.

I believe open, honest, vulnerable storytelling is a powerful and radical act of courage that can change the world in the midst of hostility, attacks, and demonization.

I trust that connecting through diverse personal experiences can humanize toxic conflicts and reveal complexity hidden within “us vs. them” divisions.

I pledge to be pro-voice in my everyday life by listening openly, speaking personally, connecting respectfully, taking leadership, and building community around polarized issues and stigmatized experiences.

I’m honored to follow a long and powerful line of peacemakers.

Lots of observations are in order:

  1. “I am pro-voice” is a euphemism for “I support the butchering of children.”
  2. “Radical act of courage” is straight-faced hypocrisy by people who sacrificed their own children for their selfish desires. The strong executing the weak is never considered “courage.”
  3. Pro-lifers are not the ones making ” ‘us vs. them’ divisions.” Pro-choicers are the ones tearing babies limb from limb.
  4. “Listening openly” in this context means nothing more than “condoning weepy-faced murder.”
  5. I almost can’t believe you wrote about any “long and powerful line of peacemakers.” How again is abortion “peacemaking”? Who is at peace? Is Exhale trying to help serial killers be at peace with their scream-less victims and their screaming consciences? And are you proud of this?

For reference, I stand and have always stood on this simple logical breakdown:

Premise #1: Murder is always wrong.
Premise #2: An unborn child is a full human being.
Premise #3: Abortion ends the life of an unborn child.
Conclusion: Therefore, abortion is always wrong.

Feel free, Exhale “Pro-Voice,” to disagree. But do so along logical principles. Are you “brave” enough to tell us your logical principles?

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Manhood at the Master’s Feet

The Psalms and Matthew 18-19 tell us that manhood is more than bullets, brawn, and beast-killing. Jesus was the manliest man who ever lived, and he bounced children on His knee:

Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” 15 And he laid his hands on them and went away. (Matthew 19:13-15, ESV)

Jesus says, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them,” but American men say, “Leave the children to the women, I’ve got hunting to do,” – as though killing animals, even to feed your family’s bodies, is more important than spending time with them to feed their souls.

Jesus says, “Children are a blessing;” American men say, “Children are a burden,” – as though pouring one’s life into someone else’s is not the best use of our relational time on this earth.

Cultural views of manhood reduce children to annoyances, play-toys, or “choices.” Jesus has a better stance: children get blessings, and they give blessings.

Dads and would-be dads out there, maybe instead of listening to Planned Parenthood, mainstream media, or hip-hop artists, we should sit at the Master’s feet.

Stories Live Out Truth

I’ve been saying for a while, in various conversations with students, teachers, and parents, that Christians (and conservatives in general) have failed to defend the philosophical foundations which once made our country the freedom-loving, capitalism-enjoying, life-defending, worship-freeing nation it was meant to be. Those days, clearly, are gone. Now all parts of the “right” (our country’s term, not mine) are fighting for our philosophical lives.

Here, however, I am not assuming that all Christians are conservative politically or that all conservatives are sympathetic to Christian views. I am only saying that Christians and conservatives share some of the same public values, and that Christians should care about the truth being told in our country.

This is why Rod Dreher’s recent piece, “Story Lines, Not Party Lines,” is so important. In it, he makes the case for the importance of stories and why America needs conservative true stories so badly:

Kirk understood that the world might be won or lost on front porches, in bedrooms at night, around family hearths, in movie theaters and anywhere young people hear, see, or read the stories that fill and illuminate their moral imaginations. If you do not give them good stories, they will seek out bad ones.

“And the consequences will be felt not merely in their failure of taste,” Kirk said, “but in their misapprehension of human nature, lifelong; and eventually, in the whole tone of a nation.”

One direct application for me was this: what stories am I telling my family, my students, my friends and church and world? The world may be won or lost according to stories like mine.

Why? Because, as Dreher explains, “Stories work by indirection: not by telling us what to believe but by helping us to experience emotionally and imaginatively what it is like to embody particular ideas.” Embodiment must come with ideas, and is not optional.

This squares well with the Bible’s tight balance between positive doctrinal literature (epistles, wisdom, prophetic writings), positive and negative narrative accounts (OT history), and those that skillfully intertwine both (Pentateuch, Gospels, Acts, Revelation). God Himself sees truth as not only abstract but very livable. Jesus Christ was and is and always will be truth embodied in flesh.

Our children, husbands and wives, churches, friends, schools, and nation desperately needs stories worth telling – the kind of stories that are worth mimicking, the kind of stories that are worth building our lives on. Are you telling those stories, or are you leaving it up to the televison, internet, or paperback section?

How to Produce Wet, Spineless, Feeble-Minded Men

Why are Western churches full of women, spineless men, and fewer and fewer children? Robbie Low, a vicar in the Church of England, investigates this trend in his Touchstone article, “The Truth about Men and Church.” After explaining a Swiss survey linking a father’s influence to his children’s church attendance, Low illumines various connections between fatherhood and the church: the church’s mission, feminism in the culture, the disintegration of the family, and the training of church leaders.

On the last connection, he drops this hammer of a quote on Western church culture:

One does not need to go very far through the procedures by which the Church of England selects its clergy or through its theological training to realize that it offers little place for genuine masculinity. The constant pressure for “flexibility,” “sensitivity,” “inclusivity,” and “collaborative ministry” is telling. There is nothing wrong with these concepts in themselves, but as they are taught and insisted upon, they bear no relation to what a man (the un-neutered man) understands them to mean.

Men are perfectly capable of being all these things without being wet, spineless, feeble-minded, or compromised, which is how these terms translate in the teaching. They will not produce men of faith or fathers of the faith communities. They will certainly not produce icons of Christ and charismatic apostles. They are very successful at producing malleable creatures of the institution, unburdened by authenticity or conviction and incapable of leading and challenging. Men, in short, who would not stand up in a draft.

The feminized church produces feminized men.

Though the characteristics named (“flexibility,” “sensitivity,” “inclusivity,” and “collaborative ministry”) don’t seem at first glance to be emasculating, Low explains what a feminized church really wants from their leaders: malleability, spinelessness, feeble faith.

In case we have forgotten, sensitivity, flexibility, inclusivity, and colloborative ministry aren’t fruits of the Spirit. Neither are they characteristics of Christian leaders. The Bible does tell us, however, of elders who “must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.” Three of the primary jobs of the Christian leader are to hold fast the word, give sound instruction, and rebuke false teaching. Collaborating with false teachers in the name of “flexibility and inclusivity” won’t get that job done.

As Low puts it, then, the historical timeline for producing wet, spineless, feeble-minded pastors goes something like this:

  1. Fathers begin leaving families.
  2. Feminism (a “lie direct” in its name) takes hold in the culture.
  3. The Protestant church at large follows feminism as a controlling worldview.
  4. The church seeks more female leaders and more femininized male leaders.
  5. Unbelieving men leave the Protestant church en masse.
  6. Unbelieving men seek alternate views of manhood, exampled in womanizing, materialism, violence, and/or homosexuality.
  7. The Protestant church ignores these developments and continues in its unbelieving feminist ways, slightly tweaking its language to suit the culture.

Point #4 is where we want to zoom in. How exactly does the Protestant church tend to seek out female leaders and feminized male leaders? In my experience at least, it looks something like this:

  1. Manhood qua manhood is devalued and quickly neutered.
  2. Church language (contrary to the Bible’s language) becomes emasculated or neutered.
  3. Men, the local church, and families are soon evaluated in women’s terms.

If that seems a little far-fetched, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Why are men in the church more often lauded for flexibility rather than strength?
  • Why is conviction seen as a sign of rigid bone-headedness rather than faithful service?
  • Why are churches more concerned with the soft skills of counseling and customer service rather than the hard skills of rightly dividing the Word and refuting sound doctrine?
  • Why do more and more worship songs sound like sappy high school poetry than the marching hymns of the King of Kings?
  • Why has church discipline, the protection of Christ’s body, been so often traded for quiet conversations and the overlooking of apostasy?
  • Why do our churches feel more like coffee shops than battlefield hospitals?
  • Why do we ask pastors to rightly manage their homes but are repulsed when they actually discipline their children? (Both, after all, are in the same passages.)

When we begin to pick at the surface, we quickly see that with manhood everything is at stake. As Low puts it, rejecting God’s good order of patriarchy rejects all three persons of the Trinity. No wonder our churches are full of convictionless men when we train convictionless leaders in a convictionless gospel.

Stories and the Parental Power of Influence

It dawned on me tonight that, every time I tell my children a bedtime story, their story closely mirrors mine. That is to say, each child tells his or her own version of mine.

My story becomes his story coming out of his mouth, but I said it first.

Such bedtime stories are a perfect example of what it means to be a parent. We teach, lead, serve, and speak; and, one way or another, our children follow.

This is not to say that our children don’t often miss the point, or disobey, or squander sound instruction.  But they do get big chunks of what we tell and show them. They mimic our flaws and sins just like we do our parents, and they react against some just like they copy others.

Positively, however, our influence on and over our children is powerful. God has given parents the power and responsibility to teach their own children how to think, love, and live. We show our kids the difference between good and evil, between right and wrong, what family and service and love are, and what beliefs truly matter for the present and to eternity.

In short, parents mediate reality to their children. The way we start our days, speak to our spouses, and act at the dinner table (if we even have dinner) shapes priorities and an understanding of prominence for our children.

In so many ways, a parent’s life-story dictates the life-story of his children.

There’s a reason my children repeat my bedtime stories, and it’s not because my stories are so amazing. They repeat me because I’m their dad.

In Education’s Problems, Technology Won’t Make a Dent

Says who, you ask? The late Steve Jobs, founder and visionary of Apple computers, IPods, and IPads, in a 1996 interview with Wired.com:

I used to think that technology could help education. I’ve probably spearheaded giving away more computer equipment to schools than anybody else on the planet. But I’ve had to come to the inevitable conclusion that the problem is not one that technology can hope to solve. What’s wrong with education cannot be fixed with technology. No amount of technology will make a dent.

It’s a political problem. The problems are sociopolitical. The problems are unions. You plot the growth of the NEA [National Education Association] and the dropping of SAT scores, and they’re inversely proportional. The problems are unions in the schools. The problem is bureaucracy.

Which is another way of saying: the problem is sin.

Sin in education looks like:

  • Teachers valuing paychecks over excellent performance.
  • Organizations valuing tradition and appearance over excellent teaching.
  • Parents valuing appeasement over tough love.
  • Students valuing free time over hard work.

Yep, it’s all of the above. And, nope, technology can’t fix any of that.

To the Wicked, Grace Doesn’t Come First


[photo by Mr. Stein on flickr]

Not too long ago, I had a conversation with a fellow school administrator about how to deal with our lawless students. She firmly believed that we, as educators, ought to give students as much grace as possible before giving them law. This, to her, was exactly how we “show Christ’s love.” I disagreed then, and I still do. Here’s why: this principle is the exact opposite of God’s.

God gives law to the proud and grace to the humble. As Ray Comfort says, “You will never see the Lord Jesus giving grace to a proud, arrogant, self-righteous person. He doesn’t do it.” But, where Ray applies it mainly to evangelism (and we should), I’m applying it to all of our dealings with others, particularly with children.

Thinking Like a Child
When I was a child (I might say with Paul), I thought as a child. I hated law. And as a young adult, I mostly still did. I remembered my angry chaffing at “legalistic” teachers and principals and didn’t want to be like them. But, even as a child, I knew it was worse for teachers to give a pass to a prideful child (sometimes even their own child!) instead of giving them their lawful consequences.

But as time in the classroom went on, I became a father, too. And I learned the truth that, in this fallen world, everything still runs on rules and regulations. It’s just the way things go, because that’s the way God wants the world to operate. He wants us to learn the principle of sowing and reaping. He wants us to learn His economy of sin and consequences. He wants us to know about motives, actions, and just deserts.

False Grace Barricades True Righteousness
Isaiah makes this perfectly clear when he preaches in Isaiah 26:9-10:

    When your judgments are in the earth,
        the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.
    If favor is shown to the wicked,
        he does not learn righteousness;
    in the land of uprightness he deals corruptly
        and does not see the majesty of the LORD.

Here’s the proposition: If grace (“favor” in verse 10) is given to the wicked, then that false showing of grace obscures the wicked man’s ability to “learn righteousness.” In other words, to the arrogant, a lying grace barricades true righteousness. And, since true righteousness is the display of God’s glory, this lying grace further blinds him from “see(ing) the majesty of the LORD,” (verse 10).

Therefore, any insistence on grace to the proud is:

  1. A lie. Grace to the proud is not true grace.
  2. Dishonorable and degrading to the name and character of God. It mangles His majesty and rends His righteousness.
  3. Harmful and dishonest to the proud student. This slithering, mangling “grace” teaches no grace at all, but pictures a cuckhold of a God who winks at our sin.

Law Isn’t Evil
But it feels so “mean” to use the law, right? The law is good, Paul says, when it is used lawfully. It is for the evil, adulterous, dishonest, greedy, sexually immoral, violent, and oppressive people in our midst. We ought to use it. We must use it.

But using the law doesn’t mean that we must use it with a legalistic spirit. The law must be the tutor to bring people to Christ. So use it, teachers, to show your own conscience and that of your students that we have all failed before God’s holiness and stand in need of His mercy. Then, your consequences must be fair, just, quick, and loving, given with an eye toward repentance and restoration.

The Use and Consequences of Law
Consequences should match the crimes. For example, when a student skips class, she should receive a zero for the day and come back after school to make the class up, missing any extracurriculars or other commitments. When a student steals something, he needs to return it, pay it back again, and receive a in-school manual labor suspension. When a student cheats on a test, he has earned the right to get a zero on that test, no opportunity to replace the grade, and a short-term suspension. Anything less than these consequences teach students a lie about God’s character and His economy in the world.

But all of these very fair consequences must also be used redemptively, with the stated goal of repentance (reparations and consequences aren’t necessarily repentance) and restoration. Once the student deals with her consequences and returns, she must be as full a part of the school as her own attitude will allow.

The Economy of God
These things must be so because this is how God has structured our lives in a fallen world. We need the law to teach us right from wrong, we need it to establish boundaries and standards in our lives, and we need it to teach us that we are unable to live up to God’s holiness. Indeed, we must never think that anything but the blood of Jesus can save us.

Proverbs 22:15 says it this way:
    Folly is bound up in the heart of a child,
        but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.

And all the parents, youth workers, and teachers say, “Amen.” We must discipline and apply the law and its consequences, as is appropriate regarding our calling and relationships, in order to teach people the majesty of God.

When a law-breaker learns to stand before the enthroned King and say, “Woe is me! I am undone!” then he is well-positioned, the Bible says, to cry out for mercy to the Son of David, the King of Israel, the Christ of God, who kept the law in the place of everyone who repents and believes.

So don’t give the wicked in your midst a false grace, give them the very real law and its consequences, that it would train them toward Jesus Christ.

Want Your Child’s Heart?

Show them how to give it away, says Doug Wilson, just like our Father shows us how.

Abortionist Dystopia: A Woman-less World?

Over at The American Interest, Walter Russell Mead concludes his recent blog on the uptick in gender-specific abortions with these observations:

It is ironic and distressing that the most immediate result of abortion, a practice often promoted by feminists for what they believe will be its positive effect on women’s lives, leads to the mass death of girls. One suspects that many of these gender-based abortions are forced on wives by husbands and relatives; it isn’t easy to hail the global triumph of feminism as abortion spreads.

This horrible practice is going to come back to haunt us. With so many more young males in the world unable to find wives and alienated from family life, prostitution and human trafficking, as well as increased crime and violence, will result. Is this really the kind of world we want to build?

Yes, and as Christians we must point out the fact that what feminists and other abortionists sow, they will reap.

Speak Up: The Truth Always Wins

Mother, writer, and former Communist refugee Lea Singh writes at MercatorNet, asking, “Are We Sleepwalking through the Great Infanticide?“:

Speaking up for the truth might make us look like fools. And that is just the beginning. Today, it is a sad fact that opposing abortion can cost a person their job and even their career. You might also lose your friends, your standing in a social circle, your invitations to events. One day, your position on abortion could even cost you your freedom.

To me, as a former political refugee from Communist Czechoslovakia, all this sounds eerily familiar. Back then, most people in our country were also silent, and many feared the repercussions that would follow if they openly opposed the regime. But we had a few dissidents, and they made a world of difference. One of them, Vaclav Havel, eventually became the first president of a free Czechoslovakia.

The truth is a powerful thing; over time, throughout history, it has always won the moral battles, and I have no doubt that one day, abortion will be rejected and recognized as an unspeakable evil. Until that day comes the journey continues to require courage and sacrifice on the part of those who carry the responsibility of knowing the truth. It is up to us to awaken the conscience of our society, one person at a time.

As Martin Luther lived and taught, our courage isn’t measured where the battles are easy, but where the are the most fierce. Fifty years from now, our grandchildren will look back at our days and ask how we could let the Infant Holocaust happen before our closed eyes.

Yes, calling evil “evil” may well cost us our jobs, our friends, even our lives. It cost Jesus the same, His disciples the same, and now our children the same. So open your eyes, and speak up.

The 2nd-Most Misquoted Verse (Not) in the Bible

…is Proverbs 13:24 (at least in my estimation. I’ll leave #1 for another time). So how would you finish the famous saying that misquotes this verse?

Try it for yourself:
“Whoever spares the rod ______”

Most people reply, “spoils the child.”

Nooooo. Let’s read Proverbs 13:24 together:

Whoever spares the rod hates his son,
but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.

Winking at a child’s sin isn’t just “spoiling” a child. God isn’t saying lazy parents are the same as gift-happy grandparents. He says that lazy parents hate their children. Lazy parents are the opposite of loving parents. Lazy parents actually aren’t parents at all.

Contrary to pop-psychological opinions, however, loving parents are precisely the ones who are “diligent to discipline.” They don’t tire over discipline because they truly love their children. They don’t give up when the discipline gets tough; love gets them through it. They aren’t quitters when their child’s sin threatens to break their resolve. They discipline because of love.

This is important because, to their children particularly, parents picture God. Parents model the Almighty before their children. This is the parent’s charge.

No wonder we have so many grown children who have no concept of sin! Their parents never taught them through discipline the gravity of offending the King! Their parents never taught them God’s holy hatred for sin! And, in sparing the rod, these parents hated their children’s souls.

So, don’t misquote Proverbs 13:24. Sparing the rod is one big way that parents hate their own children, but diligence in discipline is love. It’s happy in the long run. It’s good.

Discipline Drives It Out, Fast

Or: The Hard Way, The Easy Way, and Love vs. Death at the Dinner Table

Do not withhold discipline from a child;
if you strike him with a rod, he will not die.
If you strike him with the rod,
you will save his soul from Sheol.
Proverbs 23:13-14 ESV

My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.
Hebrews 12:5-6, quoted from Proverbs 3:11-12, ESV

My wife and I noticed something the other day. For all of our cultural wranglings about “don’t discipline your children, just let them do whatever they want, blah blah blah, ad infinitum;” discipline poses a much better way: deal with the problem and move on.

As Ted Tripp explains in his excellent, God-centered book on parenting (and parenting yourself) Shepherding a Child’s Heart, parents must both teach constantly and discipline as needed. But when the discipline comes, the parent must deal with it in private by:

  1. making it clear how our child broke the family rule,
  2. repeating the promised consequence,
  3. giving the consequence,
  4. affirming our love for our child with hugs and words,
  5. praying for our child,
  6. and leaving together happily.

This is leaps and bounds easier than doing it the “easy” way! So many lazy parents prefer to coddle their child’s fanciful foolishness while ruining his character, their guests’ good graces, and other parents’ discernment!

Take a (not so?) imaginary dinner, for example, in which a three-year-old begins to disobey her parents at the table. The biblically wise parent will take the child aside, deal with the problem with immediate consequences and love, and return happily. And when discipline is correctly and consistently practiced, both will forget the trouble of five minutes prior.

The foolish parent, however, will continue to tolerate their disobedient preschooler until she becomes a nuisance to the entire table, thus making the “easy way” rather hard on everyone else and making a harder, deadlier way for both parent and child. If one guest was offended at the wise parent’s immediate action, the whole table is astonished at this child’s mutiny and her parents’ cowardice.

Should a king be afraid of an infant? Never. He must love as God does.

So which way is easier? Make a straight way for your child in the short and long run, or turn a blind eye and pave a path to disobedient death? We’ve found the answer to be simpler than counting to three.

Computers Can’t Cover Laziness

The Bible says that love covers a multitude of sins. Some educators need to be reminded: computers aren’t granted the same benefits.

Another quote from Heather Macdonald’s excellent Washington Examiner piece:

To be sure, all students today need computer skills. That is a different proposition, however, from thinking that using computers to convey knowledge can compensate for a lack of self-discipline, perseverance, and a desire to learn (or, failing such a desire, fear of the consequences for not doing so).

In other words, parents, teachers, and administrators, don’t expect technology to cover up for the fact that you haven’t trained, motivated, and disciplined your children/students to learn. Don’t throw your teaching responsibilities in front of a television, like a teenage baby-sitter who can’t handle playing with children not her own.

As Macdonald deftly observes, too many parents and schools confuse the necessity of technology skills with the necessity of technology-based education. But purely tech-ed doesn’t change anything about a child’s inherent laziness; it only gives him a slicker outlet.

Learning is hard work, and all of this insistence on touch-screens, vibrant colors, and “larger than life” activities only obscures the fact that students don’t like hard work. But learning has always been and will always be hard work, so the motivation must come from within, as Jesus taught, not from without.

Teach a student why he should love learning, and he’ll love learning for life. Teach him how to play on an Ipad, and he’ll be content to do just that, sitting in his parents’ basement for ten hours a day deep into middle age.

It’s Only What Millenia of Schooling Suggests

As someone who has often heard the hoo-hoo-hoeey of progressive, anachronistic educational theory for a living, I find articles like Heather Macdonald’s – shooting the truth straight, no chaser – to be hilarious:

Educational technology would be the solution to poor academic performance only if the lack of educational technology were the cause of that poor performance.

Somehow, however, generations of students have mastered algebra, geometry, and the rudiments of historical knowledge just by reading — wait for it! — books.

All the geniuses in educational theory keep saying that our children need more laptops, Ipads, and smartboards to increase their learning, except that historical record and up-to-date date suggest otherwise.

As Macdonald points out, somehow, with only reading books, students of the past have still learned how to build such modern technological wonders. School have always run on teachers, books, pens, paper, and students. Until now, that’s all we’ve ever had. That’s all we really need.

Shock and Awe

Steve Baarendse muses on Harry Potter and its effects in his post, “The Muggle’s Protest“:

Christians must understand that divine worship depends on a functioning sense of awe in the worshiper. Our most tragic loss today may be the capacity to be enthralled with God alone and to find the “ordinary reality” of His creation wildly romantic. How sad if Christian readers of HP come to find that they once felt this thrilling wonder, before the dementors sucked the pleasant memory out of them.

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