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Yes. We Give. And That Is Not A Bad Thing.

Christmastime.

A season full of wonderful traditions: carols, trees, lights, the nativity, Christmas plays, and self-righteous losers trying to convince us that Jesus would hate modern Christmas.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there is plenty that Jesus probably hates about the modern church (self-righteous losers probably at the top) but modern Christmas isn’t one of them.

Yet. Every year there are the obligatory articles of how bad of Christians we are if we dare give gifts or emphasize them. That doesn’t even cover the Facebook rants and Tweets.

Ironically, it is some of the same Christians who love socialism and every social justice issue under the sun, even support taking down town nativities and not singing traditional carols in the name of the first amendment, who HATE modern Christmas.

I don’t buy their ideology.

And neither should you.

The reason is clear, Jesus Christ has quite an impact on our society through the celebration of his birth.

  1. 31% of annual charitable contributions are made in December.
  2. People’s giving in November and December spurs retailers to a positive financial outcome.
  3. This aids our entire economy.

And all of this because people are giving OTHER people gifts. Yes, there are other reasons and holidays that attribute to these but there is no doubt that selflessness in the name of Christ spurs economic and non-profit growth. And the epitome of this is at Christmastime.

Seems to me this is something that should be celebrated. Not shunned.

 

 

The Evolution of a Lie: An Improper View of Masculinity

First things first. I believe that one’s sexuality is chosen, i.e. one’s sexual actions are within their control. While who we are attracted to maybe innate, acting on those attractions is a choice. (I have always been attracted to blondes. I married a brunette. Guess what attraction I am no longer permitted to act on…)

This post is meant as an admonishment of the church and our failure to curb what I view as an epidemic of children choosing what sexuality they identify with before they even are old enough for serious adult decisions. It is also an admonishment of those who just stand by and “approve” of these choices because it is the politically correct thing to do. Same sex attraction is not a sin. Acting on that attraction or allowing that to define your very existence is.

What prompted this post was a post by Rachel Held Evans on child sexuality:

But it reminded me of one important, reality-based fact: Most people begin to recognize their sexual orientation when they are just kids, when they are young and vulnerable like this little girl.

My dislike for Rachel Held Evans is well documented. She is a very talented writer who is also a post-modern thinker. She believes in Christ, in as much as she has stated that. But she does not preach Christian thought. She preaches a moralistic therapeutic deism. Frankly, she should start her own “christ-centered” religion instead of co-opting Christianity. But it helps her sell books, get likes-clicks-shares, and she is a prominent voice in the modern church. So it works for her.

That said. Her “reality-based fact” is hardly so. It is a perception. It is fed by stereotypes. It is grossly wrong.

I have always been creative. Writing stories. Writing songs. Creating music. Putting on a show. It has always been in my DNA. When I was younger I took figure skating lessons because I was in Canada and my family couldn’t afford hockey equipment. My favorite color is purple. (Why? My dad’s was red. My mom’s was blue. And I understood a color-wheel)

I love the theatre and Broadway (Don’t even get me started on Mary Poppins, the London cast versus the New York cast). I sang in choir. I rocked speech/debate. I didn’t develop a strong affinity for sports until later in life.

According to our current culture I should have embraced my “sexuality” at a young age. I was bullied when I was younger because of my “lack of manliness.” I was never good at fighting, but I have always been excellent at killing someone with my words and sarcasm.  But this is where the evolution of a lie happens. You see. I love women…now. But when I was in 3rd grade and 4th grade girls are pulling my pants down at recess to “experiment” on me, I can’t say that the whole sexual thing appealed to me. Of course, I wasn’t gay…I hadn’t even experienced puberty yet. But the evolution of a lie told me that I was not normal. That is what the devil does. That is what the over-sexualized culture tells us. I was nine years old…I wasn’t supposed to even like girls yet. But when you see Magnum PI enjoying getting in the shower with a woman. Shouldn’t you enjoy it too?

And that is where the words of Rachel Held Evans are damaging. And where we really fail as a church sometimes. As a church, we have to be willing to address and have the conversation. Especially in a culture where an eleven year old boy can make a YouTube video “coming out” and be treated like a rockstar. I have never seen a culture not only willing to jump into hell but so good at cheering on others willing to do so.

Take a look at the pro gay anthem by Macklemore, Same Love:

When I was in the 3rd grade I thought that I was gay. Cause I could draw, my uncle was, and I kept my room straight. I told my mom, tears rushing down my face..

She’s like, “Ben, you’ve loved girls since before Pre-K!” Tripping, yeah, I guess she had a point, didn’t she? A bunch of stereotypes all in my head.

What would Rachel’s response have been? Don’t worry. God made you that way so I love you. And she would help feed the lie.

Before we can address the lie we have to know what the lie is.

The lie is two-fold.

1. That a man who loves theatre, draws, or sings isn’t manly.

This is what we call a stereotype. And creativity and being artsy has nothing to do with sexuality and everything with being who God has created us to be. God, as creator, created beautiful things. Beautiful songs. Wondrous talent. King David, best known by secularists for his inappropriate love of women, was also an artist who the Bible describes as ruddy. Don’t know what that is? Fair skinned. Not exactly a manly descriptor. But he was a man after God, the Creator’s heart. He probably still didn’t wear pink though. But you get the point.

2. That our sexuality should be our identity.

Imagine if the best descriptor of me was that I prefer sex with women. That was it. That was the end all/be all of my identity. Nothing else was prominent enough.

God created sex. It is wonderful. When a man and wife have sex, it is the closest and most vulnerable they will be with each other. They know each other. This knowledge is deep and profound. But it is used to create life not an identity.

I talked earlier about how the church does a poor job of talking about abstinence in our culture.

But, as a church, when we accept these two lies, we help the evolution of the lie.

When we adopt Rachel Held Evans’ viewpoint. We help to feed it.

So, what do we need to do? Embrace truth not run from it.

When our sons and daughters ask us questions about sexuality, we need to be prepared with truth. Instead of freaking out, we need to understand what is really being asked.

Why don’t I fit in?

A child who doesn’t have a sexual thought at 10 is asking about why they aren’t normal or why they don’t fit in. They are looking for answers. The truth is that at one point or another none of us fit in right. It is the awkwardness of dealing with other humans. As adults, we experience the same problems.

I don’t understand my thoughts?

Our mind is a weird place. We think a lot of weird and bizarre things. But thinking doesn’t mean we have to act. In fact, there are a lot of internal battles in our conscience that we have to control. That process is a part of growing up as well.

Something happened I don’t know how to explain or talk about?

Whether they happened on a pornographic website. Or were molested by a family member, friend, or playmates. Somethings are hard for a child to digest. And there are a lot of people in the gay community who have deep pain from a robbing of their innocence. We have to understand that we live in an evil world and evil people like easy targets. That is why they prey on our young.

God has not called us to sin. He has not created us to run afoul of his laws. And we control our actions.

So, let’s speak truth to the lies.

And let’s speak that truth in love.

And let’s embrace the fact that God is a Creator. And a man who is a creator is not automatically afoul of God’s law. In fact, we can harness that in the church. The church used to be the place where creativity reigned. Where art and theatre were financed. We have lost that, to much cultural detriment I might add.

And most importantly we should never let our sin be our identity. Because it is never our identity to Jesus.

Let’s Talk About Sex

I am going to take a break from politics to talk about a subject that epitomizes why, as a church community, fail to communicate effectively with younger generation as it relates to orthodox Christianity.

Sex.

Necessary for the continuing of the human race, sex is a beautiful and awesome thing that God has given us. Not just a tool for procreation, humans also have the distinction of having the ability to engage in sex for pleasure. And the rewards of experiencing this pleasure in the bonds of matrimony are great.

But what are the real rewards of experiencing this outside of marriage? The answer? Pleasure. That is it.

The downside? Pregnancy. STDs. Heartbreak. Not to mention the every tricky issues of consent and just being in poor situations.

Why then is premarital sex almost a given in our culture to the point that we talk more about being “safe” even in Christian homes more than abstinence?

Because abstinence is the wrong message.

What? Bear with me.

You see for years abstinence has been the go to for our youth group education. Wait until marriage to have intercourse. Because being a virgin was what was important! Of course, when I was in youth group that just meant that we had to come up with other ways to just get around the legalese of it. (FTR, for all those who said that Bill Clinton’s semantics on what sex was didn’t have an effect on culture…they were wrong.)

That message has largely unchanged. Being a virgin on your wedding day is the most important thing to achieve.

But what then? What else?

The church didn’t always address sex in this matter. And a LOT of the failings in the modern orthodoxy of the Christian church is a direct relation to how we fail to address this topic appropriately.

So how should we approach it?

We need to start talking about chastity in the church. You see, we are all called to seasons of chastity in our lives. Before marriage. When away from our spouses. We ALL are. Not just the teenagers in youth group. And chastity doesn’t just encompass abstaining from sex. There is more to guarding our hearts and minds than just guarding our…well…you know.

Right now, we expect chastity as a church from just those who haven’t put a ring on it. No wonder our children are rejecting that message. It only applies to them.

And that lack of continuity leaks into every area of our culture and church. Chastity means that it isn’t acceptable to flirt with your secretary and it means you need to guard your heart when online. You think the divorce rate in the church would be a little bit different if our standard for happiness wasn’t “sexual compatibility” and just “following your heart.”

On that note, don’t you think the discussion surrounding same-sex attractions would be different if the premise was that we are all called to chastity outside the confines of a Biblical standard of sexuality? I think it would. But we are seen as highly hypocritical when we don’t hold two adults in our congregations to the same standards we hold two of our teenagers…let alone two people who are struggling with same-sex attractions. And we should be seen that way. Because it IS hypocritical.

Not to mention the overall problems relating to a lack of self control. Credit card debt. Impulse. Overeating. All related to our inability to control our whims and urges. If we don’t have to control our sexual urges why should we have to control our other physical and mental urges?

A lot of cultural failures can derive from one or two failures in orthodoxy within the church.

So, maybe we need a little less “abstinence” and a LOT more chastity.

If the Conviction Fits…

It has happened to all of us.

We see something at Wal-Mart or in our neighborhood and we decide to provide some commentary on Facebook.

Then one of our “friends” sees our post and assumes we are talking about them. They get huffy, mean-spirited, and downright indignant.

Then we spend the next hour trying to convince them that, no, it wasn’t a response to something they posted yesterday. Or, no I didn’t know you liked to wear overalls and a sports bra to Wal-Mart. Or, no I didn’t know that you let your teenage daughter wear a bikini. I have never witnessed this. And just because I don’t think women, children especially, should dress that way doesn’t mean I was calling your daughter a whore.

It is a waste of time.

But I think it says two things about people.

1. They are self-centered.

I had an out an out Facebook brawl with a neighbor of mine, whom I had never met, who was “informed” by someone else that I had posted something in response to her Facebook post. (I was not even a friend of hers) She could not comprehend that life is not all about her. I was commenting on the gay marriage issue (which happened to be a tour de force on Facebook at the time during the Chick-Fil-A controversy). But my Facebook post was an attack on her. D-R-A-M-A.

It is one of those things that absolutely drives me nuts. And, amazingly enough, it seldom happens with my guy friends. The catty-gossip-drama angle of social networking has destroyed a lot of people’s lives and is good reason to keep kids off the medium. It is hard to teach your kid how to be a decent human being when you are laying into somebody because you are self-important.

2. They are Convicted.

Use social media for church commentary or to provide any commentary really and you will get someone who takes utter umbrage and false outrage at what you have just said. It is a new fact of life. But, I think there is something deeper happening. And I think it has more to do with the Holy Spirit than anything. If you call evil evil, you will get people who have a sense of conviction. Heaven knows that I have read articles and Facebook commentary and been pricked as well. For as much grief as I give Rachel Held-Evans, some of the things she says are true and accurate commentaries on the modern church (she unfortunately uses these commentaries to come to drastically wrong conclusions). I try to glean truth from everything I come in contact with. There is always a grain of Truth in most things. The trick is to build a beach. But sometimes the Truth still hurts. That is why it is called conviction.

In our society, we don’t quite know how to handle conviction well. Mainly because we don’t believe in a Truth as a society anymore. Without Truth, conviction is nothing more but casting judgement and assigning blame. In fact, the Christians who can’t handle conviction the worse are the ones whose hurt comes from not believing in Truth.

I joke that I have the gift of Stephen. It turns out that not handling conviction well is not a modern phenomenon.

Acts 7:51-60

51 You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you.52 Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, 53 who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it.

54 When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth. 55 But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, 56 and said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!”

57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord; 58 and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 And they stoned Stephen as he was calling on God and saying, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 Then he knelt down and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not charge them with this sin.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

I always imagine that verse 54 and 57 could be better stated today, “And when they saw his Facebook post and Tweet they were cut to the heart, and they angrily typed a 1000 word response about how he wasn’t nice and was a hater. Then they cried out with a loud voice in their mom’s basement, stopped their ears, and summarily unfriended him/blocked him and got all their friends to do the same. #StoneStephen”

So, the next time you write a Facebook post Stephen-style and prick some hearts with the Truth.

When you get the inevitable backlash, just respond, “If the Conviction Fits…”

We are called to speak the Truth in love. But remember love is our motive it isn’t watering the Truth down. Sometimes the Truth REQUIRES us to tell them they are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears. Especially when the church refuses to stand for the unborn, supports gay marriage, and is worried more about excusing masturbation than calling out ALL sexual sin. But also we have churches who build huge white crosses in pastures instead of feeding the poor in their community.

If the conviction fits…repent.

 

Individualism, Church, and Community

Matt Lewis, of Daily Caller fame, has an opinion piece that offers a very interesting take on the George Zimmerman verdict.

But here’s the thing. In a sense, George Zimmerman was — at least up until the moments surrounding that fateful shot — arguably doing what we tell responsible citizens to do: Care about your community, and take personal responsibility for the betterment of it.

To be sure, he was overzealous. It’s one thing to call the police, and another to get out of your car and engage in a confrontation, especially when you have a gun with you. But we always say things like, “This is your community” and “You are responsible for it.” Do we really mean it?

And

Of course, this speaks to a larger societal trend. Community bonds have frayed over time. People used to get together to play cards, join fraternal orders and civic associations, and socialize with the neighbors. This was good and bad. It also meant nosy neighbors, less privacy, and more gossip. But if something happened in the neighborhood, somebody would step in. If some kids (race here is irrelevant) were playing loud music, some old guy would tell them to shut the hell up.

It’s easy to be nostalgic about this. Again, there were good and bad things associated with this. And there is much to be said for the anonymity (never mind opportunity) of modern city life. But there is also something lost. We are all bowling alone.

Matt goes on to talk about how this insularity is not the best of outcomes.

I agree.

But let’s not talk about what we do. Let’s discuss what we ought to do in the context of faith and community.

Continue Reading…

Imparting Wisdom: The Necessary Future of the Church and Conservatism

I hear all the time.

“We are losing the young people in the movement!”

This is usually followed by a long libertarian screed on why social issues are, not just unimportant but, anathema to the center-right movement amongst young people.

While the fact that we are losing young people in the movement and the church cannot be denied. The reasons can be and should be debated.

I was talking to an acquaintance about another matter and his response holds a key to the main reason behind this youthful exodus.

I don’t want to impose my beliefs on my children.

Continue Reading…

Why is the Media Always Silent?

Big story over at ViralRead about the death of a 29 year old in Maryland due to complications from a late term abortion:

Morbelli died Thursday at Shady Grove Hospital in suburban Montgomery County, Md., after undergoing a late-term abortion performed by Dr. LeRoy Carhart at the Germantown Reproductive Health clinic. Pro-life organizations including Operation Rescue have reported that Morbelli arrived at the clinic late Sunday, Feb. 3, and returned to the clinic for the next three days, including a nine-hour visit on Wednesday, Feb. 6. Morbelli was reportedly rushed to the hospital early Thursday morning and died hours later after suffering “massive internal bleeding,” Operation Rescue reported.

As Stacy McCain has pointed out, there are only 4 countries that allow these operations of death: China, North Korea, Canada, and the United States. Not the greatest company to be in.

The big question is, why the lack of media interest in this?

The answer is, in my opinion a sordid one.

This case displays the true face of abortion in the United States. Not a down on her luck type who was raped and then had a massive burden. She was a married kindergarten teacher who had a planned pregnancy…but she got a “bad test.”

It is sickening. It is wrong. It is selfish. It is sinful.

And it is a effing shame that we don’t put a stop to this practice which, when all the blowhards and emotionalists stop bloating, really comes down to people being selfish.

I have friends who have children with special needs. I have friends who have received those bad tests. But instead of running away chicken from a “problem,” they embraced the fact that God granted them a gift. And their gift just happened to be a little more fragile than others. But that only meant it needed more care not discarded in a dumpster in Maryland.

And that is why the media doesn’t care. It doesn’t fit their narrative that women only have abortions because there is no way that this child could be loved by anyone.

It doesn’t fit the narrative that abortion doctors are kind and compassionate. They aren’t. IF they were a really good doctor, they would be saving lives not destroying them for profit. They do it because it is the only thing in society they are really capable of doing.

There is a parable that says if you get sprayed by a skunk…don’t be mad at the skunk…they spray that is what they do.

We really shouldn’t be so shocked at this story. An abortion doctor killed someone. They kill. That is what they do.

Who we should be upset with is ourselves for allowing the lies to continue to fester that abortion is sometimes needed. Let’s put the animals out of business. Let’s abolish a moral travesty.

Who we should be pissed at is the church who have done ABSOLUTELY NOTHING in defense of the unborn. And let me be clear, giving a sermon once a year around the anniversary is pittance.

Let’s End This Killing Now.

President Obama railed about how the victims of Newtown deserved a vote in Congress. Amazingly…the most innocent and fragile amongst us aren’t allowed to have their vote. Because our Constitution (as interpreted by the Supreme Court) guarantees the right to exterminate them.

Mr. President. These precious souls deserve a vote. They deserve 5th amendment protections.

 

 

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