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.

Isolated and Jointless

Your Body is Meant for a Bigger Body

Reflecting on the recent Atlantic article by Stephen Marche about how loneliness is on the rise, particularly with internet users, I remembered God’s words in Ephesians and Colossians about how the local church is held together by its “joints and ligaments,” in other words, by its relationships.

If people are the parts, the joining-together-ness (to coin a rough word) must be their relationships.

And if, as Marche says, “Loneliness is at the American core, a by-product of a long-standing national appetite for independence,” then we as Americans are particularly tempted to isolate ourselves. Westerners, it seems, are self-separators, more likely to retreat than truly connect.

In other words, since we value independence, we implicitly value our own rights to stay away from other people. Other people are messy, other people are time-consuming, other people are sinners.

Yet the Bible tells us at this point that the sins, time, and gifts of others are exactly what we need. Why else would God tell us to forgive each other and bear with each other in the church, if we aren’t even interacting enough to wrong each other? These are surely not the commands of loneliness.

So we must ask ourselves:

  • Do I feel isolated and jointless?
  • Am I self-apparently a lonely person?
  • Do I invest significant time, daily and weekly, into the people who ought to be most important to me?

Disciplining ourselves for godliness means disciplining ourselves for
costly, time-consuming, needy relationships that matter most in
eternity. God surely didn’t give us those relationships to throw away, and the deepest of them ought to be in the immediate family and in the local church.

Your Job Doesn’t Care About Your Family

Exposing a Popular Lie

I’ve been enough swanky, avant-garde offices to know that the new buzz-phrase is “we care about our employees.” It’s still chic for many companies to provide their employees exercise, health, counseling, and family services.

And everyone pays lip service to that most important of personal areas: the family.

Companies might have a family day (or they might, like one recent employer, even ban spouses from attending a company ballgame outing). Schools want teachers to care about and focus on their students’ respective families, but they often fail to provide the space for teachers to focus on their own families. More corporate-stye jobs are well-known for over-(yes, over)-working their employees, some past the point of even being able to see family members during the workweek.

So my thesis remains: when the rubber meets the road, your company doesn’t care about your family.

If your company, your manager, or your coworkers cared about your family, they’d act like it. But they don’t.

However, I know my readers are employees, managers, supervisors, coworkers, husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, children, and grandparents, so I don’t want to end here but instead give some tips to those of us (all of us) who can change this:

  1. Make and seek clear employee expectations. Hours, pay, and any expected extra duty must be spelled out and agreed upon. Don’t be like the supervisor who once asked me why I wasn’t coming to an optional, after-hours get-together. I told him I was going home to be with my family.
  2. Past 40 hours, consider telecommuting or even reduced-pay options. Encourage prospective and current employees to think of the literal toll their beyond-full-time hours will take on their families. And, yes, it takes a toll. Both employer and employee must be honest about that up-front. Do you want employees who hate their jobs for asking too much and destroying their families? Didn’t think so.
  3. Take stock of the family life among your company’s leadership. If most of your managers are single, divorced, or headed for it, beware. Companies that place such people in supervisory roles implicitly value singleness over marriage. There’s a reason those people tend to be leaders, and they will lead out of their own view (or anti-view) of family.
  4. If you require weekends or holidays, make sure your employees get that time back with their families. Who wouldn’t want to be home for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and summer vacation? You do, so treat your employees and teammates the same. Often companies act like this is “just part of the job;” it isn’t. It’s asking for more.
  5. Actually care for your teammates’ family lives. This doesn’t mean passing conversation. This means helping each other see that families are more important than companies. Always, always, always remember that. No two-decade career is worth missing your son’s childhood.
  6. Understand that a company’s pride will constantly strive against employees’ families. When a boss asks her employee to come in on Saturday or stay late on a weeknight, she is saying, “The company is more important than your family. If you don’t do this, you could lose your job.” Such situations always present difficult decisions, so think ahead.

Does that mean you can’t work extra? No, but it does mean that your company may well misunderstand the work/family balance. Such a work environment, while not initially toxic, is always unhealthy and may well toxify your marriage and family.

Every company’s view of family is being lived out in its employees right before you. If many employees have unhealthy/dying/dead family lives, chances are that the company aids that. Don’t be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. No job is worth your precious family.

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.

A Family Better than a Billion Bars

Working the late-night shift lately I’ve seen how easy it is for single men (and, sadly, too many married men) to architect shaky “friendships” with women. These men drink, they party, they say dirty things to these women and their friends. Despite themselves, they might even get a few phone numbers.

But what they never get is a real relationship. Not out there, at the Irish bar at two in the morning anyway.

What’s more is this: I know that I could easily be out there with them, if not for the mercy of God.

I would be out there with them because I enjoy hanging out with women. God made women beautiful, but not mainly on the outside. Ladies have a kind of joy, gentleness, compassion, and love for people that men like me find baffling.

So instead of leaving me to seek such false friendships in an unsafe, foolish, and evil way (read: flirting and fornication), my good Lord gave me a mother who exemplifies each of those. So I was blessed to know and grow up with my godly mother.

Through her prayers, God brought me my wife, whose beauty shines in her character, full of love, compassion, and service, then it shines through in her appearance. She is my glory, and I am blessed to know and be known by her better than anyone.

Though my wife, God gave me daughters to know and love. In their lives, I see how God has particularly shaped young women to show off Jesus.

And through the rest of my family, grandmothers, my mother-in-law, aunts, sisters-in-law, cousins, and nieces to boot, God has give me a family literally full of godly women. In such a family, He graciously protects me from my sin while showing me the beauty of Jesus in the character of these godly women. I am truly blessed.

The Bible teaches the same principle in places like 1 Timothy 5:1-2:

Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.

While there is always more to the Scriptures and never less, one of the things Paul is teaching Timothy is that, in the Lord, we have safe familial relationships in the church. Men, we are meant to treat younger women as sisters, not lust-targets. We know this because God says we are to encourage these ladies “in all purity.”

In the Lord, I have a family better than a billion bars. I praise Him for my wife and the so many more godly women in my life.

T4G Panel #1: Complementarianism

Below are some highlights from the first panel discussion at Together for the Gospel 2012.

John Piper:

  • “[Complementarianism] a vision that steers a path between the nullification or minimization of differences as they are played out in society and the abuse of those differences.”
  • “We want to call women to full personhood and men to initiative and leadership in a Christlike demeanor.”
  • “I fought battle after battle with college students in the late 70’s and early 80’s over these things, but now we have thousands of young men and women who are receiving this [complementarianism] and flourishing.”
  • “The question that egalitarians can never answer for me is, ‘What do you do with a little 8-year-old boy that asks, “Daddy, what does it mean to grow up and be a man, and not a woman?” Or a girl who asks, “Mommy, what does it mean to grow up and be a woman, and not a man?” ‘ “
  • “Carefully walk through Ephesians 5 about marriage. It’s what every woman wants in her marriage.”
  • “Walk through the eight or nine evidences from Genesis 1 and 2 [sic, he included 3 in his explanation] that show that role reversal is what wrecked the world.”

Russell Moore:

  • “I fear that we have many people within evangelicalism who ‘check off’ complementarianism but live functionally egalitarian lives and marriages.”
  • “I recently spoke with a woman who told me her husband wants to get a sex-change operation. He didn’t want to leave her. They were going to stay together. Now, Martin Luther never had to deal with that.”
  • “When a wife submits herself to her own husband, when a young woman submits herself to a future husband she does not yet know, she refuses to submit to other men and the culture’s idea of women being defined by how men see them.”
  • “We as the church need to stop mimicking the outside culture in the way women are portrayed.”
  • “[You have to pay attention to complementarianism because] you have to deal with specifically complementarian texts: Ephesians 5, 1 Peter 3, 1 Timothy 2, and others. And you have personal sanctification issues to deal with.”
  • “Complementarianism bears the cross.”
  • “When Jesus washes the feet of the Church, she refuses Him. . . When He is going to die for her, Peter tries to stop him.”
  • “Jesus always gently and lovingly, but decisively, leads His bride.”

Greg Gilbert:

  • “We have men who think that complementarianism really has no feet on it until you come to a disagreement, that they have no role in leading in the home, in establishing an environment in the relationship, in taking initiative.”
  • “To get to an egalitarian position, you have to bring in some bad DNA, some bad principles and ideas, into your interpretation of Scripture. And eventually you will bring that to other texts as well.”
  • “As a pastor of a local church, you can’t ‘back-burner’ the issue [gender relations, complementarianism, etc.], because it’s so practical.”
  • “Too often, we let the discussion [about gender roles] be about negatives rather than positives.”
  • “God-given role does not speak to God-given dignity.”
  • “God has every right to give out roles to His created people.”

For more resources, go to CBMW.org . Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, and other resources, are available as free pdfs.

The Happy, Grueling Bicycle Ride

This morning, pedaling in the rain with a gaudy yellow helmet, I’m sure I looked foolish. Drivers-by likely thought, “Well, that’s silly. It’s a lot of work, and he’s getting all wet. And he looks dumb.” True enough.

And I realized that, at one level at least, that’s the way our culture treats marriage. It looks silly. It’s foolish. And marriage-happy people are blissfully, blindly unaware of the world around them.

False.

My wife and I might be pedaling hard in the rain, but we’re pedaling for our lives. We might not have the insulated warmth of a lonely car ride, but we lean on the promises more than the self-assured fool. It’s not easy to carry someone else’s weight around from time to time (just ask my wife!), but at least we’re serving someone other than ourselves, which is what Jesus calls real life.

And, yeah, it’s grueling, but we get to enjoy the downhill coasts and all the strange twists and turns together. And we don’t care who turns and stares and drives by in the rain. God’s grace is with us.

I love that my wife is on the bicycle with me, pedaling for our lives.

Sin’s Rigor Mortis in My Kitchen

or “Why I’m a Bad Husband: How Sin Ruins with a Man’s Communication

One of the things that happened through sin and because of sin in the Garden was that the man and woman started fighting, blaming, and hating each other. (If you read closely, actually, it’s happening while Satan tempts Eve. Adam just stands there! So passive.)

Adam and Eve now will fight over leadership. They will go to war with each other in violent and escapist ways. They will wall each other off with stiff-arms, absent emotions, browbeating, and even extreme physical force. They will hate instead of love.

One of the ways this affects me is that, because of my sin, I often prefer not to communicate very clearly. And, if I’ve learned anything about communication, it’s that, if it doesn’t start most problems, it sure can solve many. But I’d rather not communicate. I’d rather keep to myself. I’d rather leave my family in the kitchen while I do my own thing.

What’s Daddy doing? No one’s sure.

Maybe you’ve seen the same things:

  • A father at the park who’d rather play on his IDrone than with his own children.
  • A husband who passively follows his wife around the store looking like a frightened puppy.
  • A grandfather who sits quietly and lets grandma do all the leading at family events.

What do these men have in common with me? They’d rather not communicate.

We would rather not communicate because communication and leadership require you to give yourself up to be criticized, questioned, ignored, or disobeyed. Every man, woman, and child in the universe has the pride of a thousand actors, crying, “Me! Me! Listen to Me! Look at me” when it comes to speaking out, but men particularly take offense at these negative responses (criticism, questioning, ignoring, disobedience, etc.) to their leadership. We take these things as a slap in the face, a cruel joke, or a cause for physical retaliation.

So our pride keeps us from speaking. We’d rather be silent than slammed, quiet than questioned, reserved than ridiculed. But leadership is precisely as Jesus intended: great sacrifice as great service to others that points to the greatness of God. “Whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many,” (Mark 10:44-45).

As men, we don’t like that. As someone somewhere has said, we want the crown without the cross. We want the acclaim without the agony and pain. We want the adoration without the humiliation.

But Jesus told us: it won’t be so for us. God has charged us men with leading our families and those otherwise in our charge. We’re His. So we must speak, speak clearly, speak love, speak the truth, suffer for it, and by grace through faith be saved in the end.

Sin still shakes its death quakes in my kitchen and in my heart. But sin is dead in me, because Christ lives again.

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.

Ignoring the Marriage Context is Evil

Susan Baer, in the poorly-titled “A Family Learns the True Meaning of the Vow ‘In Sickness and in Health’” from The Washington Post on January 5, 2012, tells the true story of a woman (Page) who divorced her mentally ill husband (Robert) to marry an old high school sweetheart (Allan). A key section:

Allan felt uneasy at first, guilty about befriending a man [Robert] with limited cognition while starting up a romance with his wife [Page].

Page tiptoed into the subject of dating with Robert, telling him that she and Allan were beginning to be more than just friends, and asking if he understood and was comfortable with that. Robert told her it was fine. “He’s a really nice guy,” Page says he told her…

Page felt 30 again but was racked with guilt. “I believed my vows so strongly that they just kept ringing in my ears.”

She consulted her minister, who told her that by continuing to take care of Robert, she was still honoring those vows.

A few observations are in order:

  1. Allan felt “uneasy” and “guilty” about befriending Robert because he was committing adultery against him. No wonder. No amount of “I’m ok, you’re ok” from Page or their minister (see below) can take away the guilt one feels before God’s law.
  2. Page also “tiptoed into the subject of dating with Robert” because she was committing adultery against him. The fact that her husband misunderstood the context of their marriage bears no weight of the intrinsic meaning of their marriage.
  3. “What God has joined together, let no man separate” applies to husband and wife, too. Or do we think too little of verses like Matthew 19:6? Yes, our own sins and weaknesses are the reason we need such vows.
  4. Page’s minister ought to be fired. Whoever this “minister” is, he wickedly ignored the context of Robert and Page’s marriage vows. Those vows are taken as husband and wife, not as nurse and patient, not as mother and overgrown child, not as friend and friend – as husband and wife. A minister who understands this not ought not advise others, au revoir.
  5. The WP trumpets a lie. Apparently, WP and author Baer want to applaud Page for her courage to “stick with” her former husband and yet “find happiness” with  her new one. In pursuit of that self-congratulatory end, they controvert the meaning of marriage.

Which brings us to some final thoughts:

  • Remarriage, part deux: What happens when Allan, Page’s new husband, becomes mentally ill or disabled? Will she divorce him, continue to care for both him and Robert, and marry a third man? Which one will be her children’s father then?
  • The media and the meaning of marriage: How soon will The WP and other confused media outlets begin reporting on simple divorces that end happily? How long will it take us to see that they have an agenda in promoting divorce, broken families, and unhappiness?
  • An offense against God: The most important person in any discussion is God. When will we see that, when we seek to redefine what God has already spoken, we are shaking our tiny, childish fists in the face of the Almighty? Do we really expect to be “ok” when we mock His ways?

May the Lord Jesus give us grace to listen here, learn, and repent.

Want Your Child’s Heart?

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

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.

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