"I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting."

- The Apostle's Creed
"Like A Girl..."

Watch this video first. Then join me for some thoughts below...

When this video started I thought, "Oh brother. Here come the PC police." I have used the phrase. My wife has used the phrase. (Especially when telling our boys, "don't scream like a girl". Nothing against girls or girls screaming. We are really referring to the high pitch at high volume for no good reason so that our hair doesn't stand on end.) Objectively, girls often throw or punch from the elbow rather than the shoulder. It's just true.

But by the time I got to the end...I thought, "Wow. Maybe they have a point." And I wondered, "Is the reason that girls punch or throw 'like girls' just because no one has shown them how? Maybe a boy would throw "like a girl" if someone didn't teach him the right way? Maybe there really is a problem here. Why not teach our daughters and sons not how to run/throw/fight "like a man", but just the best way to do it?

I only have boys. I am not a girl nor am I the parent of girls. I would really like to hear from those of you who are one or the other. What did you think of the video? Are they right?

Becoming Fools

The great civil rights crisis of our time is the fate of unborn children being sacrificed to the idols of sensuality and convenience. But the world at large wants us to believe that the great civil rights crisis of our time revolves around homosexual rights and gay "marriage."

The truth of God has been exchanged for a lie, and the popular question of the day is now, "Did God really say?" We're told that thousands of years of biblical interpretation is wrong -- the church got it wrong. We're told that "one flesh" can and should constitute same gender relations; again, the argument goes, the church got it wrong. We're told that Paul had no framework for monogamous same-sex relationships -- and subsequently we have, supposedly, read Paul incorrectly.

The problem with the slide into acceptance of same-sex sexuality as "moral" is the fact that the church is by and large being asked to now heartily embrace sin rather than seeking holiness.

"Knowing that righteous judgement of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them" (Romans 1:32).

That's where we're supposed to go. That's the world's idea of a safe, palatable church.

If the universal church has been wrong on such a fundamental issue (marriage), then what else has the church been wrong on for 2,000 years? If the church can not plainly read, interpret, exegete, and live out the scriptures, what can she do with any authority?

It's like the elect are being deceived, as some on the fringes of evangelicalism begin to capitulate to the constant media message we've been receiving for decades now: there really is no such thing as sexual sin.

Professing to be wise, many of us have become fools (Romans 1:22).

Waco Tribune-Herald On Brittney Griner ...

... and her recent critical comments about Baylor University.

Now, as it pertains to the university’s official, much-publicized stance on homosexuality, it must be stressed that Baylor is a Christian school founded on biblical principles. So what Griner is really saying is that she doesn’t like what the Bible has to say on the topic. In my view, Baylor should be applauded, not condemned, for sticking to those principles, whether the mainstream culture considers them popular or not.

Yep. Read it all.

The Oscars Always Remind Me .. .

. . . just how far out of the loop of popular culture I am.

Here are a few examples:

"Alright, alright, alright". This is evidently a reference to something well-known related to Matthew McConaughey. My twitter feed erupted with people cracking jokes about "Alright, alright, alright" right after he won. Evidently the reference is a laugh riot, but it's shooting right over my head.

I first heard this Mconaugheyism demonstrated on Jim Gaffigan's awesome Mr. Universe album (he says it when imitating MM). But I didn't know it was a "thing".

Daft Punk. I saw several Daft Punk references tweeted out in that way people do when they know everyone who reads it will get it. I think Daft Punk might be a band of some sort, but I'm clueless.

The films themselves. Of the nine films nominated for best picture, I've seen exactly one (Gravity). And that's one more than I usually have seen when the Oscars roll around each year.

Bruno Mars and "Flea". Oh, wait, that's a reference to how out of the loop I was for the Super Bowl. I'm to understand these people are involved in the music industry in some way?

Me. I could have easily Googled the references above rather than whining about my out-of-it-ness on this blog. But, to show how out of it I actually am, I'm pretending like it's 1992.

[urgent whisper] Help . . . Me . . .

Home Of The Depraved

From a blog post by John Piper, "Will America Be Judged?"

What brought the nations of Canaan to that point of judgment? Here are the sins Moses was referring to:

1. Adultery.

Verse 20: “You shall not lie sexually with your neighbor’s wife . . .”

2. Child sacrifice (we call it abortion).

Verse 21: “You shall not give any of your children to offer them to Molech, and so profane the name of your God: I am the Lᴏʀᴅ.”

3. Homosexual intercourse.

Verse 22: “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination.”

4. Bestiality.

Verse 23: “And you shall not lie with any animal and so make yourself unclean with it: . . . it is perversion.”

In the West, we have moved to the point of open approval of adultery, child-killing, and homosexual intercourse. Will the open approval of bestiality be next? Probably. Last week, the Huffington Post reported a woman finding on her boyfriend’s phone pictures of him having sex with her dog.

Fifty Years from Now?

Our reaction to this is probably about the same as most people’s reaction to so-called homosexual “marriage” fifty years ago. Is there any good reason to doubt that in fifty years the laws against bestiality (zoophilia) will have fallen the same way laws against homosexual intercourse have fallen in recent years? (And as for “marriage,” Wikipedia already has an entry on “human-animal marriage.”)

Read the whole thing here.

Debunking the Myth of Kitty Genovese

You know the story, possibly: fifty years ago a young woman was brutally murdered while all her neighbors ignored her cries and pulled down their shades.

At least that's the way I learned it. So I read this article with great interest: Debunking the Myth of the Kitty Genovese Murder

A snippet:

As she walked home — she was only about “a hundred paces away” from the apartment she shared with her girlfriend, Mary Ann Zielonko — she heard a man’s footsteps close behind her. She ran, but the man, Winston Moseley, was too quick. He caught her, slammed her to the ground and stabbed her twice in the back. She screamed twice, once yelling, “Oh, God! I’ve been stabbed!”

Across the street, a man named Robert Mozer heard Genovese from his apartment. Looking out his seventh-floor window, he saw a man and a woman, sensed an ­altercation — he couldn’t see exactly what was happening — and yelled out his window, “Leave that girl alone!”

Moseley later testified that Mozer’s action “frightened” him, sending him back to his car. At this point, Genovese was still alive, her wounds nonfatal.

Fourteen-year-old Michael Hoffman, who lived in the same building as Mozer, also heard the commotion. He looked out his window and told his father, Samuel, what he saw. Samuel called the police, and after three or four minutes on hold, he reached a police dispatcher. He related that a woman “got beat up and was staggering around,” and gave them the location.

Other neighbors heard something as well, but it wasn’t always clear what. Some looked out the window to see Moseley scurrying away, or Genovese, having stood up, now walking slowly down the block, leaning against a building. From their vantage point, it wasn’t obvious that she was wounded. Others who looked didn’t see her at all, as Genovese walked around a corner, trying to make her way home at 82-70 Austin St.

But the police did not respond to Samuel Hoffman’s call, and Moseley, seeing no help was imminent, returned. He hunted down Genovese — who had made it to a vestibule in her building before collapsing — stabbed her several more times, then raped her.

Word of the attack spread though the building. A woman named Sophie Farrar, all of 4-foot-11, rushed to the vestibule, risking her life in the process. For all she knew, the attacker might have still been there. As luck would have it, he was not, and Farrar hugged and cradled the bloodied Genovese, who was struggling for breath.

Despite the attempts of various neighbors to help, Moseley’s final stab wounds proved fatal, and Farrar did her best to comfort Genovese in the nightmarish ­final minutes of her life.

The murder of Kitty Genovese shifted from crime to legend a few weeks later, when The New York Times erroneously reported that 38 of her neighbors had seen the attack and watched it unfold without calling for help.
Read the rest to see how the story we've heard all our lives sloppily grew wings.

[H/T, the excellent Neo-NeoCon]


[They] exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
- Romans 1:24

The story doesn’t change and the trajectory is the same: Mankind exchanges God’s truth for a lie, and death follows in its wake.

The messages get clearer. This issue is like the slavery issue of old.

Louder. These are modern times. Science is on our side.

More invisive. The church is outdated and not needed.

More emphatic. This is about social justice.

More dissonant. You’re a bigot!

The messages come from politicians, community leaders, “preachers,” the Internet, popular music, and TV (always TV).

The messages are effective. The messages get results. The messages change minds and change hearts. (Don’t believe it? Ask yourself why it’s worth it for any business to spend $4 million for 30 seconds during the Superbowl if the message won’t be effective?)

But there’s another Message. It’s the Message that floods all that is in the world with all that is in Heaven. It’s the Message that moves beyond issues and talking points.

That Message is an eternal Word -- a Logos -- that became flesh and dwelt among us.

I’m not sure that Message would get 30 seconds during the Superbowl, but He doesn’t need it. He’s got all of eternity.

I Don't Have A Daughter But...

if I did, she'd be wearing something like one of these "fashionably modest" swimsuits that you see at the end of the video from Rey Swimwear. I'd also make her watch this video.

This is Jessica Rey talking about the history of the bikini and modesty. (By the way, if she looks familiar, it's because she was a Power Ranger.)

Human Life Is Precious

It’s shocking and scary every time we hear about another shooting at a school. No matter who did it or why, it is almost unthinkable horror. Yet, we do have to think about it. It’s happening. It’s real. And it’s getting worse.

It's not just the school part that bothers me. It's the fact that children are committing these crimes.

Here is a list of the number of school shooting incidents by decade - 1850’s 2, 1860's -3, 1870's-4, 1880's- 4, 1890's-11, 1900's-26, 1910's-9, 1920's-4, 1930's-12, 1940's-13, 1950's-21, 1960's-16, 1970's-21, 1980's-24, 1990's-34, 2000's-40, 2010’s -46.

You can see that the numbers fluctuate between 4 and 26 per decade until the 1980’s. Then in the 90’s, there were 34 incidents. In the 2000’s, there are 40 incidents. And now only 3 years into the 2010’s, we are already up to 46. What is going on?

In truth, there is probably a variety of factors, and I’m sure you have some theories. (Who doesn't?) And we seem to be a long way from solving the problem.

Here I want to focus on one thing: the sanctity and value of human life. What is going on in the mind of a 12 year old boy when he takes a gun to school and starts shooting people? I submit to you that human life has become too cheap in the minds of too many of our youngsters.

Probably no one who reads the thinklings will have a child commit murder. According to studies and statistics, children who kill have usually experienced violence in their own home. As a rule, kids who kill don't come from stable loving homes. Nevertheless, I am concerned about a culture that devalues human life. I want to plead with you to teach your children to value human life.

Please pass along the stories and concepts I am about to share. After Noah emerges from the ark, God says to him and his sons, “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man” (Genesis 9:6). The reason that murder is wrong is because it destroys a Divine image-bearer.

Let me put it another way. One day when the Pharisees wanted to trap Jesus they asked him publicly if it was lawful to pay taxes or not. If Jesus answered “Yes” then the crowd might turn against him. If he answered “No” then he could be subject to arrest by the Roman authorities. Jesus asked for a coin. When it was given to him he asked, “Whose image is on that coin?” The answer came back, “Caesar’s.” Jesus responded, “So give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.”

Typically people think of this story as a taxes story or an example of Jesus’ wisdom. But this story is even more profound. What has the stamp of God’s image on it? That’s right. You and all people were created in God’s image. (Genesis 1:26-27). Therefore, all people belong to God. Give yourself to God. And don’t you dare even think about harming a precious unique creation that bears the image of our maker.

American Exceptionalism

Some food for thought: scattered excerpts below from Doug Wilson's latest on American Exceptionalism:

I have been addressing, from time to time, the tomfool notion of American exceptionalism.

The central point I have made thus far is that the genuine exceptionalism displayed by the Founders consisted of the fact that they knew that Americans were not exceptional, which was exceptional. They built a form of government that sought to take the venality of all our current and future statesman into account, which was a marvel of prescience.

. . .

So when Herod shows up en fête, in that glittery robe, and the people all cry out that it was the voice of a god and not a man, there was — even then — a course of action he could have taken that would have headed off the hungry worms. That course of action would have been to give glory to God (Acts 12:23). We, being not very quick on the uptake, have not responded that way, but are doing our very best Herod imitation, standing there on the stage like a freshly minted nominee at the Republican National Convention, luxuriating in the transcendental permanence of the glory that is descending upon in the form of ten tons of confetti.

When I write against American exceptionalism, some ordinary patriots are sometimes unsettled. “Aren’t you grateful to be an American?”, they ask. Of course I am. Very grateful. But this generates what should be an a question. Grateful to whom? I am a Christian first, which means I am grateful to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. I am a Christian first, and since Jesus told His followers to disciple all the nations, presumably including the one we live in, this means that we must be grateful to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. And by we, I mean us. Americans. Our elected representatives. Our foundational documents. If we don’t want to perish in the way, we must kiss the Son.

“For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it? (1 Cor. 4:7, NKJV).

This exceptionalism you speak of — should we be grateful for it? Grateful to whom? You think it is sufficient for everybody to gin up a few grateful-lite vibes on Turkey Day?

We are one of the most blessed nations ever to exist, and because of the blight of American secularism, we have created a vast sinkhole of ingratitude, hubris, and conceit, from Virginia to Oregon. And it will not fix it if we urge everybody to thank their private gods, however they conceive him/her/it to be. The reason that won’t do is that those gods are not the living God. They are all dead, every mother’s son of them. They did not give these blessings to us, laboring, as they do, under the burden of non-existence. Why do we want to fix this problem of our ingratitude to the living God by urging everyone to say something nice to their little bobble-head idols? This is not just perpetuating the problem, it is gilding our insouciance problem and leaving baskets of fruit in front of it.

The living God is jealous for His name, which is Yahweh.

In the name of God we will set up our banners (Ps. 20:5). Some trust in chariots, and some in horses. Some trust in destroyers, and some in submarines. Some trust in drone strikes, but we will remember the name of the Lord our God (Ps. 20:7). If we have forgotten the name of our God, or stretched out our hands to one of those bobble-head things, won’t God see this? Won’t He deal with it (Ps. 44:20-21)? Oh, Lord God, deliver our people! Save our nation, and do it by means of Your name (Ps. 54:1). Purge our sins, especially the root sin of secularism, for Your name’s sake (Ps. 79:9). Do this, our God, for Your name’s sake (Ps. 109:21). But somehow it has come to be the received wisdom — even among Christians — to look for salvation without a Savior, for some mighty act deliverance from the heavens, signed “Anonymous.”

And we can stand around afterwards, sure glad that we were delivered, and doubly glad that we don’t have to thank anybody for it.

Look. The exceptional things we have (in truth) been given can be counted as blessings from the hand of the only true God, who requires us to name Him as the only source of any such blessings. The quite ordinary conceit we have displayed, sharing it with Ozymandias, is our refusal to do so. The longer we have gone on in this vein the more the sham has become apparent. Is America exceptional? Well, why don’t you ask one of the millions of Americans who were chopped up in little pieces in the womb because the ghouls on our highest Court found the right to such wickedness hiding under a penumbra? Is America exceptional? Well, the reply comes back from the dead child. “I really am not in a position to know . . .”
Before the comments thread blows up here, I'm not here to speak to the implied Theonomy in, say, paragraphs four and nine. But as a personal application, and a way to deal with my (albeit, somewhat conflicted recently) thoughts on "American exceptionalism", I found this helpful.

And think what you will of Doug Wilson, the man can flat-out write.

Please Don't Send Me Your Prayers

Anyone else have this pet peeve?

I see it whenever someone is experiencing difficulty in some way. Others, expressing support, will say things like:

- Sending thoughts and prayers your way.

What does this even mean? I mean, I think I know what it means. I understand the intention. But does the wafer-thin theology in that kind of thing bug anybody else? Am I being a prayer-Scrooge?

Sending thoughts your way? I picture someone in deep concentration, face all scrunched up, fists clenched, body gnarled, as they seek to send, um, thoughts through space to somebody.

And sending prayers to somebody?

For my part, if I'm in a rough spot, please don't send prayers my way. Send them to God. I can't do anything with your prayers.

And PLEASE for the love of Pete don't send me any:
positive vibes and/or energy.

This probably only bugs me...

Pretty Much Matches My Experience . . .

You are not alone: Facebook use linked with unhappiness

London: Facebook could be spreading unhappiness through society as well as keeping people connected, research has shown.
The number one social networking site is strongly associated with declines in well-being, psychologists claim.
Scientists found the more time people spent on Facebook over a two-week period, the worse they subsequently felt.
In contrast, talking to friends on the phone or meeting them in person led to greater levels of happiness.
"On the surface, Facebook provides an invaluable resource for fulfilling the basic human need for social connection," said study leader Dr Ethan Kross, from the University of Michigan in the US.
"But rather than enhance well-being, we found that Facebook use predicts the opposite result - it undermines it."

Fantasy Skewing Reality

". . . by and large our culture aims to pierce the eyes of men with visual images and pluck the hearts of women with sentimental ideals."

So writes Jason Johnson in his post The Truth about Emotional P__nography. Some excerpts:

So, if sexually-oriented p__nography says to men, this is what sex should be like with a woman, then emotionally-oriented p__nography says to women, this is what love should be like with a man. For example, women are led to believe that a young, good looking, physically fit bachelor can be both perfectly sensitive and staggeringly strong for 25 women who are pining for his affection (really for his ring). For weeks Hollywood producers portray a figurative man in a fantasy environment and catch millions of women up into a fairy-tale world that could not be further removed from reality. The point is not for viewers to fall in love with this character, but to fall in love with the idea of him, and to fall in love with love all over again in a highly glamorized way. Horse back riding on exotic beaches, helicopter trips to far away islands, penthouse suites at the most luxurious resorts. Like unrealistic depictions of physical beauty on a magazine cover, these are but airbrushed depictions of romance and love.

This is what love should be like with a man, so they say. Innocent fun on one hand? Maybe. Dangerously manipulative on the other? Absolutely. It's training women to emotionally operate in their imaginations. What happens when the real life of the single girl longing for love, the newly married wife surprised by the difficulties of being married, the tired mom feeling worn out and unfulfilled or the empty nester wondering where the passion went over the last 30 years - what happens to their souls as they sit on the couch engaged in a fairy tale story that in no way resembles their current reality? Comparison, disappointment , disillusionment, resentment. Always the case? No. Like pouring gasoline on an open fire? Probably. And when you play with fire someone eventually gets burned.

The goal of p__nography is to skew reality with fantasy and in the end cause us to ask one simple question: I wonder what it would be like if ___________? For men, the fill in the blank is obvious. For women, it's much more subtle. I wonder what it would be like if I was married to him? I wonder what it would be like if my husband was that emotionally available to me? I wonder what it would be like if he were that successful? I wonder...

The perfectly-sensitive-but-emotionally-strong, New-York-city-loft-apartment-living, physically-ripped-but-attractively-disheveled, care-free-motorcycle-riding, always-has-a-great-relationship-with-his-mother-and-sister-artist-type personified in most Hollywood narratives has become predictably boring...but powerfully influential. Fantasy skewing reality.

. . .

This is not a pass for men to not be the strong, sensitive, hard-working, physically healthy and emotionally available men God has called us to be
. In so many ways we need to step up and do better. It is an appeal, however, for single women to understand that their potential future husband will be a fatally flawed sinner in desperate need of continual grace from them, and to current wives to not get lost in a fantasy to the detriment of the reality God has placed them in.

Both sexual and emotional forms of p__nography skew reality with fantasy and destroy lives, families and marriages. They exchange the truth of God for a lie and leave us naive to the seek-and-destroy tactics of the Enemy towards that which God has deemed beautiful and holy. The Enemy has gripped many men in the addictive vice of sexually p__nographic material - we are all very aware of those dangers. However, perhaps its time the Church became more vocal about the equally dangerous allure of emotional p__nography that many women are secretly suffering in submission to, or are simply more vulnerably susceptible to than they realize.
I admit that I haven't thought about this in quite this way.

I don't believe he is trying to setup an equivalence between the male version and female version of this sin, and he explicitly isn't letting men of the hook. I've never thought of the sentimental ideals of women as "emotional p__nography", but I wonder if perhaps, not being female myself, I have underestimated the impact.


[Hat tip: my friend Marie]

"We Render Marriage Incoherent at Their Peril"

The inimitable and awesome Brant Hansen tweeted the following last night:

This got me thinking of a response to a Rachel Held Evan's quote I posted here. She wrote:

We want to be challenged to live lives of holiness, not only when it comes to sex, but also when it comes to living simply, caring for the poor and oppressed, pursuing reconciliation, engaging in creation care and becoming peacemakers.
To her credit, she's implying a "both/and" rather than an "either/or" here, but - to Brant's point - how much of poverty is a result of cultural departure from wise and Biblical sexual practice?

I've got a lot more to say about this, but am interested in your thoughts in the comments.

Millennials and the Church

There's been a lot of discussion in the blogosphere and elsewhere about the recent Rachel Held Evans article Why Millennials are leaving the church. I've hesitated to get into this discussion for several reasons:

  • One is that this discussion isn't new to me. I comment about it quite often and have been having a running conversation with myself and anyone who will listen to me about this for years. And I haven't come up with any hard and fast answers
  • In our fractured and tribal online culture these types of conversations quickly devolve into "Lemons are yellow, you idiot!", "No, no, 1,000 times no! Limes are green!"
  • I don't like banging away incessantly at the church. I love the church. I think, to quote Spurgeon and more recently Matt Chandler, the church is the "dearest place on earth". I don't feel safe telling Jesus that his fiance is ugly and smells bad. Because he might snap me like a twig.
  • All kidding aside, I know the church has problems. But sitting around taking potshots at the church, if one is not careful, can easily lead to a lifestyle and mindset of "sitting in the seat of the scoffers".
  • I've read the New Testament. The church has always had problems. And Christ has always loved her and is presently perfecting her
  • I've lived awhile. I don't get this generational naming, as if "millennials" are any more unique than any other generation. My generation doesn't even have a name (snugged just between baby boomers and generation X) and, trust me, we aren't special at all. Plus I've been to a gazillion graduation ceremonies and youth events through the years. Everyone's generation was going to be the one to set everything to rights. I don't believe it.
  • I don't disagree with everything RHE says or agree fully with everything her detractors say, which makes me feel that I must be breaking several fundamental laws of the blogosphere . . .

All that being said, I thought I'd post an excerpt from RHE, then two responses from people who appear to be millennials themselves, then leave a few thoughts of my own and then let anyone who wants to have at it in the comments.

First, this excerpt from Rachel's article:
What millennials really want from the church is not a change in style but a change in substance.

We want an end to the culture wars. We want a truce between science and faith. We want to be known for what we stand for, not what we are against.

We want to ask questions that don’t have predetermined answers.

We want churches that emphasize an allegiance to the kingdom of God over an allegiance to a single political party or a single nation.

We want our LGBT friends to feel truly welcome in our faith communities.

We want to be challenged to live lives of holiness, not only when it comes to sex, but also when it comes to living simply, caring for the poor and oppressed, pursuing reconciliation, engaging in creation care and becoming peacemakers.

You can’t hand us a latte and then go about business as usual and expect us to stick around. We’re not leaving the church because we don’t find the cool factor there; we’re leaving the church because we don’t find Jesus there.

Like every generation before ours and every generation after, deep down, we long for Jesus.
Jake Meador responds: The Rise of the Chicken Little Evangelical Blogger:
There have been many times in our history where the greatest hindrance to joining the church was that getting baptized could lead to imprisonment, torture, or even death. And through all that, the church has endured. But in the minds of certain Christian bloggers, privileged white millennials and their nebulously defined intuitions and impulses pose a greater threat to the long-term flourishing of the church than the Colosseum.

Such an astonishing display of vanity calls to mind one of Chesterton’s finest quips: In The Everlasting Man, GKC tells the story of a conversation he had with an author named Grant Allen who wrote a book titled “The Evolution of the Idea of God.” Upon hearing the title, Chesterton remarked that it would be far more interesting to read a book by God titled “The Evolution of the Idea of Grant Allen.” So it is with this latest iteration of the “Christianity must change or die,” crowd.

Just to be clear: The problem is not with the simple (and obvious) observation that the church changes over time. Of course it does–it’s a human institution. The problem is with this preoccupation certain millennials have with how the church will change alongside millennials at the expense of asking the far more important question, which is how millennials will change to conform to the church.
Among his main points, Meador references a quote from the exasperating John Shelby Spong who said "Christianity must change or die" about fourteen years ago, and then notes that Spong's Episcopal church is doing it's best to die quickly, despite its very intentional pursuit of conformance with the culture.

Next I give you Aaron Armstrong's The real secret of keeping millennials in the church:
Do millennials have doubts that go beyond pat answers? Yep. Do they have a hard time with the biblical view of sexuality? Absolutely. Do they really struggle with what the Bible says about how the world came to be? Totally.

But the real reason millennials are abandoning the church isn’t because they’re dissatisfied with the answers to any of these questions. And it’s not because they can’t find Jesus in the typical evangelical church.

The reason many leave is they don’t know Jesus.

Evans’ take is one, ultimately, of cultural accommodation. It’s an approach we’ve seen fail again and again. When the mainline denominations abandoned historic orthodoxy in favor of theological liberalism, it gutted their churches. There’s a reason these congregations are hemorrhaging, and it’s not because their beliefs are offensive to the average person on the street.

There’s a reason the so-called Seeker movement was a largely an exercise in futility, and it’s not because it was producing vast numbers of strong, theologically-sound, mission-minded believers.

In fact, many of the millennials who are leaving the church are simply following the example of the previous generation of nominal believers. Christianity didn’t really make that much of a difference in their parents’ lives, at least from what they could see, so clearly there’s nothing to it.

So for all the damning talk of millennials not being able to find Jesus in our churches, the reality may be they don’t know what Jesus to look for.

You want to keep millennials in your churches? Here’s what you do:

Tell them about Jesus. Tell them about the Son of God, who came and lived a perfect life, who died on the cross for their sins, and who was raised from the dead in victory over Satan, sin and death. Give them the opportunity to repent and believe!

Teach with conviction.
Squishiness and arrogant uncertainty is so tired, especially for a generation that’s been fed a steady diet of it. Tell them the truth about God’s Word; teach them sound doctrine with conviction.

Live out your beliefs
. What you believe works itself out in what you do. If you really believe the truths of Scripture, live in light of them. Evangelize passionately. Serve others joyfully. Let millennials see that your beliefs aren’t just intellectual thoughts, but convictions that drive all you do in life.

That’s the secret of reaching and keeping the millennials. And it’s no secret at all. So what are you going to do with it?
Some of my thoughts:

I can't possibly express to you how much I care about this topic.

That being said, I don't think that the phenomenon of young people leaving the church is anything new.

I am for the church changing, as long as that change brings the church closer to the gospel message of Jesus, friend and Savior of sinners.

I'm for backing off from sophisticated marketing and bait-and-switch tactics (please!).

I think it's funny that RHE says that Millennials have better BS meters than older generations. Based on what? Everyone thinks their BS meter is highly tuned.

To be fair, I think millennials are, perhaps rightfully so, more cynical than my generation, but we've all gotten more cynical.

Ironically, the marketing techniques that have gotten so incredibly advanced, omnipresent and effective in our age have added to this cynicism. We're promised stuff all the time, not just in the church but even more so in our wider culture, and after a while this wears on the soul.

Millennials have also lived with the tyranny of choice in almost ever aspect of their lives for so long, along with the narcissism-enhancing technologies of our day. Are we surprised that they church shop, morals shop, and worldview shop, and often change all three as often as they change out their smartphone?

The church will have to quit playing around and stand solidly for truth and real love in this slip-and-slide of a world in which we live.

Parents shouldn't depend solely on youth group to give their sons and daughters a firm foundation. Our children's faith-training is primarily our responsibility.

Young people have to be allowed to grapple with doubts, to understand that the battle for truth is worth it, to be given the best answers we can give them, and to embrace mystery when necessary.

Young people need to see real gospel-picturing marriages and holy lives from those of us who have gone before them.

Student ministries should measure success by how their students are faring ten years down the line, not by how many kids came to the worship event last Friday or camp last summer. And, for goodness sakes, teach them well the essential beliefs they'll need for faith survival.

Our young people must also be given opportunities to sweat, to be in danger, to experience the God we worship in real life hard ministry, rather than just in classic youth group fun and games or over-sheltered home life with mom and dad. Trust me, they'll attack real ministry and service with joyful energy if given the chance.

On Our Marriage and Wedding Culture

Below is an excerpt from Dan Doriani's post The Surest Way to Promote God's Good Plan for Marriage:

Sadly, the rise in same-sex marriage is possible in part because our culture has strayed so far from God's plan for marriage. Casual cohabitation, promiscuity, and easy divorce all erode the appeal of God's ideal. Church conduct looks all too similar. What then?

First, we should tend our marriages, steadily regarding our spouse as God's great gift (Prov. 19:14). At its best, Paul says, the love of a Christian marriage reflects the love of Christ for the church. A strong marriage can adorn the gospel (Tit. 2:10). Waves of good marriages will make the case for God's plan more effectively than any state or federal law.

Not long ago I was seated at a wedding reception next to a Christian professor who did his doctoral work at one secular university and now teaches at another. He said that the great majority of his fellow professors are secular and non-Christian. Nonetheless, they love their Christian students. He explained why: On the whole, they are far more likely to come to class faithfully and well-prepared. They are willing to argue their convictions. They are active in campus life. They volunteer to do worthwhile things and they keep their commitments.

The Christian faith and Christian ethics have lost the home-field advantage in our culture. But we are still free to present our faith and the gospel. We can do that with words and with lives that show the beauty of the gospel. That is the surest way to promote God's good plan for marriage.
Well said. I think the statement "The Christian faith and Christian ethics have lost the home-field advantage in our culture" is something we need to keep foremost in our mind. There has been a sense of ownership among Christians which reached its politically militant heights in our culture back in the 80s and 90s. How well has that worked out? While it's more difficult, I think approaching our culture as the strangers and aliens we are will be more healthful for the church going forward. It's certainly the stance that better recognizes reality, though it's not the easiest road to walk.

"A strong marriage can adorn the gospel (Tit. 2:10). Waves of good marriages will make the case for God's plan more effectively than any state or federal law."

I am gratified by the experiences of the writer's non-Christian professor friends vis-a-vis their Christian students. I know a lot of great Christian students and it's nice to see that their witness is recognized, at least in this anecdotal instance.

I'm also grateful that the Christian church is beginning to realize that the remedy to our cultural problems is not to be found in political action.

On a somewhat related subject, Jillian Kay Melchior writes on The Blight of Blinged-Out Weddings. Below is the ending to her article:
And if you really want to be creeped out, remember that more than one in ten brides started planning the wedding before they got engaged. My anecdotal evidence backs this up: I know women who subscribe to every bridal magazine out there, though they aren’t even dating exclusively yet. Many practically need a dedicated server for their wedding Pinterests. Looking for fun is one thing, but when it becomes a covetous obsession, how can any wedding possibly live up to those glossy, photoshopped expectations?

American culture has put the emphasis on the details, down to the last bridal sparkle and frill. The celebration has become more important than what’s being celebrated. But C. S. Lewis often argued that good things on earth are good because they are a shadow of the Greater Good. For that reason, when good things are corrupted, they can be more destructive than intrinsically bad things; it’s harder to realize that values have been convoluted.

America’s blinged-out weddings come at a time when marriage is, statistically speaking, on the decline. Already, for every two weddings in a year, there’s one divorce (which, it must be noted, is different from that oft-repeated myth that half of all marriages end in a split). The Census Bureau has found that the American marriage rate is at a historic low; only 51 percent of adults have tied the knot.

Perhaps Americans hold excessive weddings as a counter-reaction to marriage’s decline: As American marriages come undone, the wedding becomes overdone.

"Who ever said that what we believe as Christians would be popular?"

I think this post by pastor Mike Ayers is necessary reading. I recommend reading the whole thing, but this section especially hits the nail on the head:

1. Who ever said that what we believe as Christians would be popular?

Jesus certainly didn’t. In fact, He said that if we stayed true to our most deeply held values for His name’s sake, we would be hated (Matthew 10:22).

So we need to get past the notion that our values will always be well received culturally. There may have been a time when that was so, but the world is increasingly moving away from many of our moral traditions. In fact, in several social arenas our beliefs are maligned as outdated, judgmental, and intolerant.

This fact shouldn’t surprise us, nor should it cause us to feel defeated. Quite possibly one of the new qualities Christians in the U.S. will need to develop in the years to come is the courage to be OK with not being liked… and possibly even being hated.

"Women's Health"

All politicians, advocacy groups and activists on all sides of the political spectrum tend to spin their words for advantage. But, in my opinion, to get imto truly Orwellian territory look to the abortion rights lobby.

Jonah Goldberg writes today on What 'Women's Health' really means:

When your grandmother gets some bad news, do you tell her: “Well, at least you have your abortion rights”?

Why not? Maybe it’s because whatever you think of abortion, the right to have one is not synonymous with a woman’s health.

But don’t tell that to the liberal group Think Progress. On Twitter, it recently teased some shocking news: “Why 2013 is shaping up to be the worst year for woman’s [sic] health in modern history.”

When I followed to the linked story, there was nothing about a spike in cervical- or breast-cancer rates. Nothing about occupational safety for female workers and no mention of female life expectancy either. Instead, the story was about how the ACLU says anti-abortion laws are on the rise across the country.

Of course, this sort of thing is all over the place. Under the headline “Losing the Global Fight for Women’s Health,” Luisita Lopez Torregrosa, the “Female Factor” columnist for the international edition of the New York Times, writes of the allegedly horrific threat to women’s health posed by restrictive abortion laws in places like Africa, Asia, and Latin America. She makes no mention of the estimated 160 million women “missing” in Asia alone who were killed in gender-selective abortions.

Even the most ardent pro-life activist readily concedes that there are instances when an abortion is in the interest of the mother’s health. But it is bizarre to suggest that women’s health and abortion rights are interchangeable. The biggest killer of women is heart disease, followed by cancer, then stroke. I couldn’t find “lack of a timely abortion” on the CDC list.
Read the whole thing.

Also a good read: honorary Thinkling Stroke, who's lovely wife is expecting, writes of the celebration by many in Texas over the blocking of an abortion ban past 20 weeks: I Don't Get It.
I don't get it. I just don't get it. I haven't investigated all the ins and outs of abortion policy but as I understand it, the most recent legislation that was blocked sought to, among other things, ban abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy in Texas.

I believe abortion at any stage is the taking of a life. Is that not what an abortion is? There is a life that needs to be ended for an abortion to be deemed successful, yes? It's not simply a removal... it's a cessation of life. That's why Kermit Gosnell ensured "fetal demise" (killed live-born babies) in his clinic. Because the mothers chose abortion and he wanted to complete the procedure that was chosen.

Regardless, to focus (more so) on the recent legislation, how could anyone ever disregard the life of a 20 week or older fetus? It blows my mind and sickens my heart.
Me too.

On a personal note, as some of you know I have done volunteer student ministry and ministry to college and young singles at our church for about eighteen years. It's been particularly distressing to see how many past students of ours have taken to social media to exult over this decision and the recent SCOTUS decision on DOMA. I love them, and I'm sure they have a viewpoint that they believe is right, and I very much hope they are still walking with Jesus, but to echo Jeremy, I don't get it.

How To React To Today's Decision

The following is from Jared's post at Gospel Driven Church, where he quotes material from the SBC Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission. I think this is good advice.

Teach your congregation to avoid anger, outrage, or despair.
Jesus tells us marriage has existed as a male/female one-flesh union “from the beginning” (Matt. 19:8). This means marriage is resilient, regardless of what any culture does to minimize or redefine it.

Love your gay and lesbian neighbors.
They aren’t part of an evil conspiracy. They are, like all of us apart from Christ, seeking a way that seems best to them. Be kind, and respect all persons as image-bearers of God.

Preach and teach on the integrity of conjugal marriage.
Don’t assume your people understand the gospel foundations of marriage. Take this opportunity to point to the formation of healthy, gospel-shaped marriage cultures within your congregation.

Repent of the ways our congregational cultures have downgraded marriage.
If your church hasn’t addressed divorce, cohabitation, or fornication through proclamation and discipline, now is the time to repent and rework.

Make your marriage convictions clear in your confession of faith.
If your church assumes a definition of marriage, your confession of faith is now irrelevant. Defend your religious liberty by making your congregational convictions clear in your statement of faith.

Stop laissez-faire wedding policies.
Your church building is not a public space and your church ministers aren’t justices of the peace. Make clear that you will marry, and host weddings, only for those who have accountability to the people of Christ and to the Word of God.

If you're like me, today's decision was not surprising at all, and neither will I be surprised when that time comes that same-sex marriage is the law of the land in all fifty states, which I expect it will be.

This is a huge issue, and it's an issue that is sadly dividing Christians, often along generational lines. It isn't, however, the end of the world. I think this cultural trend is going to result in some very interesting times for the church in the coming years. But the church has survived far worse, and it will always survive, and, if persecution comes, it will do what it always has done. Thrive.

Consciences Seared

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
the fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the children of one's youth.
Blessed is the man
who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame
when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.
- Psalm 127:3-5

Recently a friend of mine, who is expecting twins soon, made the comment that a lot of the comments she gets from "well-wishers" are negative. If you've had children, and especially if you've crossed the culturally-approved maximum of three (we have four), you are as likely to hear condolences as congratulations when expecting.

Our culture is schizophrenic when it comes to children. We waver between seeing them as unacceptable obstacles to a happy and fulfilled life on the one hand and as little gods and goddesses to be idolized on the other.

I'm old enough to have experienced most of the post-Roe abortion debate in this country. As has been posted elsewhere on this site, it's been interesting to see the debate morph. When I was a kid, it was all centered around when life began. Now, more and more, abortion defenders have dropped the pretense that the baby being killed is just a "product of conception" or a "blob of tissue". More and more they are calling it what it is: a baby. But that hasn't changed their stance.

Below are some quotes from an abortive mother from David French's article Killing Your Child for Volleyball:

I told my mom I was pregnant. She said, “Get an abortion.”

I didn’t say anything. I wasn’t really thinking I had any choices. I didn’t have a job that could support a child. And I wasn’t sure if I was planning to marry my boyfriend, although we were living together. I knew that I had big ideas for my life and I hadn’t figured things out yet.

My mom got militant. “You’ll destroy your career possibilities.”

. . .

Here’s what else happened: Other women called. It turned out that many, many women I knew had had an abortion. This is not something women talk about. I mean, I had no idea how ubiquitous the procedure was, at least in my big-city, liberal, Jewish world.

Each of those women told me that I should get an abortion so that I could keep my options open. “You’re a smart girl. You can do anything with your life right now. Don’t ruin it.”

. . .

When I went back, I had a panic attack. I was on the table, in a hospital gown, screaming.

The nurse asked me if I was a religious Christian.

The boyfriend asked me if I was aware that my abortion would be basically illegal in seven more days.

I couldn’t stop screaming. I was too scared. I felt absolutely sick that I was going to kill a baby. And, now that I know more about being a mother, I understand that hormones had already kicked in to make me want to keep the baby. We left. No abortion.

. . .

I scheduled another abortion. But it was past the time when Planned Parenthood will do an abortion. Now it was a very expensive one at a clinic that seemed to cater to women coming from Christian countries in South America. I knew that if I did not go through with it this time, no one would do the abortion. I was too far along.

So I did it.

I went to sleep with a baby and woke up without one. Groggy. Unsure about everything. Everything in the whole world.
I was on the table, in a hospital gown, screaming.

This woman went on to have another abortion, and then later two children of her own.

Read the whole thing. Here is French's conclusion:
It is striking how completely the idea of such act inverts Judeo-Christian morality, which is saturated with an ethic of care, where self-denial is a prime virtue. Christians are quite directly called to “deny self” even to the point of taking up one’s figurative cross to follow Christ. Yet the ethic of “choice” is simple: Kill others to pursue self-interest. I suppose if you want to make a career omelet, you have to break a few eggs.

In less than two generations even the most “soaring” career will mean virtually nothing. At best, most of us will be a fond memory for surviving family and close friends. In three generations, even those memories will fade. In four generations we’re simply a name on a family tree. But hundreds of thousands of Americans see that wisp of a career as important enough to kill a child to preserve.

May God have mercy on our nation.

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