Family and Children
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By In Culture, Family and Children

Caution: Some Slopes Really Are Slippery

“That’s a slippery slope argument.”

An actual person on social media, in the year 2017, said this to me after I predicted the Boy Scouts’ new separate-but-equal arrangement for girls will last about as long as a Kit-Kat bar in a hot car.

The progressive memory is evidently around 2.5 seconds long, because 3.0 seconds ago culturally, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were opposed to gay marriage, people with male genitalia were men, people with female genitalia were women, and intentionally spreading AIDS was known to the state of California to cause felony charges.

boy_scoutsThe first obvious point is that some slopes really are slippery. (more…)

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By In Family and Children, Theology, Worship

On Living As if God Is Real

Guest post by G. Shane Morris

Last night I watched PBS’s new full-length documentary, “Martin Luther: The Idea That Changed the World,” and was impressed. As soon as Carl Trueman showed up, I knew it was going to be good, but this thing is an achievement. It gets Luther right, warts and all, even if it does try a little too hard at the end to connect him with secular sensibilities. You will be more thankful for the Reformation this Augustinian monk started and better prepared to appreciate its 500th anniversary after watching this. If you’re fuzzy on the details of Luther’s life and work and don’t expect to get a good biography before November, this program is for you. (more…)

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By In Family and Children, Theology

A word to sons… and therefore to all of us

I’d like to say a few words by way of challenge to young men as they’re growing up. It concerns how they relate to their parents, particularly (but not exclusively) their fathers.

This will be most obviously relevant to young men who are approaching adulthood. At the same time, it will also be relevant in various ways to the rest of us. For as Paul writes in Galatians 3:26, all of us are sons of our Heavenly Father through faith in Christ.One of the great temptations of young men as they grow older is the wrong kind of competitiveness.

As boys grow into men, they enter what we might call a different relational “space”. That is, they (rightly) start to relate as men to other people, such as their parents and siblings. They start exercising leadership, initiative, and a new kind of emotional strength. This is all good, but it brings some dangers. (more…)

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By In Family and Children, Theology

Burdened

Watching a loved one make foolish choices which you know will end in his pain or complete devastation is heart-wrenching. You watch as your loved one abuses drugs or alcohol, refuses to take care of his health by overeating, gives himself to sexual immorality, pays no attention to warnings about how he is treating his spouse, or a myriad of other things. He stubbornly refuses to hear good counsel. If there were something more you could do to turn him around, to shake him out of it, to change his heart, you would do it. The last thing you want to see is this destructive pattern to continue and end where you know it will end.

Love desires what is best for the beloved. Love causes great grief and unceasing sorrow when you see your beloved destroying himself.

Israel according to the flesh, the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, is on a destructive path. The majority are stubborn, refusing to hear the gospel; the gospel that proclaims that all of the hopes given to their patriarchs have been fulfilled in Christ Jesus. If they don’t turn to Christ, they will suffer an eternal hell as disinherited children to whom belonged sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the Law, the worship, the promises, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh (Rom 9.4).

This is Paul’s family. He loves them. He loves them so much that he would pray that he himself be anathematized from Christ for their sake (Rom 9.3). That is, if Paul could suffer eternal punishment so that they would turn to Christ in faith, he would do it. That is a burden. That is love.

This love is not unprecedented. Paul is echoing what Moses did when YHWH threatened to destroy Israel at Mt. Sinai because of the worship of the golden calf. Moses interceded on behalf of Israel saying, “Alas, this people has sinned a great sin. They have made for themselves gods of gold. But now, if you will forgive their sin–but if not, please blot me out of your book that you have written” (Exod 32.31-32). Paul is a new Moses who is recognizing the sins of his family in rejecting their God. YHWH has revealed himself in the man Christ Jesus, who is God blessed forever (Rom 9.5). Israel is doing now what they did at Mt. Sinai, and destruction is imminent. Paul, like Moses, is standing between God and Israel praying that he himself be cursed for the sake of his family. (more…)

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By In Culture, Family and Children

On the Nashville Statement and My Signing of it

Guest post by Alistair Roberts

Note: Alistair Roberts signed the Nashville Statement, but has some reservations from a conservative perspective. He agreed to repost his lengthier observations here.

I’ve posted some thoughts here.

The Nashville Statement is a reassertion and defence of the creational reality of humanity, of the basic anthropological difference: that humanity is created and divinely blessed with fruitfulness as male and female. It is this reality that is under assault today on various fronts, as the natural order of creation is challenged by those who variously deny this difference, whether they reduce the sexed body to a superficial façade that can be changed, abandon substantive sexed selfhood for radical gender performativity, studiously downplay the ways in which the sexes are naturally physically and psychologically ordered to each other, or detach marriage from any procreative end or form. In standing against these developments, we aren’t expressing some peculiar or eccentric claims of Christian theology, but upholding creational realities that have been generally recognised across human ages and cultures.

Read the whole article.

As I suggest in the article, the Nashville Statement is far from perfect in a number of respects and various critical pieces have been written about it by writers who hold to firmly orthodox positions on sexual ethics (see Matt Lee Anderson’s remarks here, for instance). There are a number of things that I would have liked to have seen in it, including:

  1. A much more robust account of the grounding of sexual ethics in creational reality, making clear that this isn’t just a matter of biblical revelation and that explicit scriptural teaching isn’t the only way to arrive at a basic understanding of marriage or the problems with same-sex relations and transgender ideology.
  2. A clearer admission of the many ways in which evangelicals themselves have been complicit in or compromised by the shifts being challenged. The ways we have participated in a culture of divorce, the normalization of a contraceptive approach to marital relations, our downplaying of the procreative calling of marriage, and widespread use of pornography among Christians are all sins we must openly confess and address if we are to have any real success in dealing with the issues that the Statement highlights. These things are all connected: same-sex marriage was a fairly direct outgrowth of cultural trends that we are all fairly profoundly compromised by.
  3. A much firmer statement about the ways in which relations between men and women have been disordered by the Fall, with the result that natural differences are twisted towards mutual frustration, oppression, and destruction.
  4. A better framing of the seventh article, whose denial seems to push back against groups such as the Spiritual Friendship crowd, but which lacks the clarity it really needs to do this well. In my reading of it, I think it allows—perhaps unwittingly, I don’t know—for the accommodation of some of their concerns and positions as potentially orthodox, while firmly resisting certain of their ways of framing things. I think such challenge is needed, but I fear some signers and framers of the Statement will have dismissed the Spiritual Friendship position without adequately understanding what they are presenting. It is important to recognize that male androphilia and female gynephilia are naturally disordered and that the significance of nature isn’t negated by grace: that naturally, in the good and proper functioning of creation, men are sexually attracted to women and women to men. It is also important, however, to appreciate that the ‘homosexuality’ of gay and lesbian persons is typically merely one aspect of broader experiences of selfhood and lebenswelt that, though perhaps atypical for their sexes (remember, sexuality is a gender difference—men are gynephiles and women are androphiles), can often find legitimate expression in ways that aren’t sexual, and which can be very good and praiseworthy. The Spiritual Friendship crowd, whatever their faults, are actually trying to forge a positive vision of what faithful Christian discipleship looks like for persons in such a position. I fear that, if we aren’t careful, we will be trying to beat something with nothing.
  5. A strong word against the vicious animus against LGBT persons that has far too often infected Christian contexts, rendering an orthodox stance on sexual holiness odious to those who cannot separate it from the personal hatred that they have experienced from Christians on account of their sexuality. The radical loss of the credibility of Christian sexual ethics in society has many causes, but this must be placed near the top. It is great to see the call to present the truth in a loving way, but without a direct condemnation of the hatred for and unhealthy obsession with LGBT persons that exists in many quarters of society and the Church, we won’t really be addressing our own sins.

(more…)

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By In Culture, Family and Children, Theology

Mere Sexuality

The Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) released the Nashville Statement this week. I have had more disagreements with the CBMW over the years. Initially, I was enthralled by them. But more reading, in particular, historical reading, has led me away from them. However, this statement is good. It lays out mere sexuality, as in basic, very basic, Biblical sexual ethics concerning marriage, sodomy, and transgenders. Initially, I thought the statement was too basic to be worthwhile. But the response by many progressive Christians has vindicated the need for it. Surprise, surprise many Christians are not as firm on the basics as they let on.  (more…)

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By In Counseling/Piety, Family and Children, Theology, Wisdom

Like turning a container ship

One of the most striking and unexpected lessons I’ve learned over the last decade or so is that repentance is hard.

Very hard.

Initially this came as something of a surprise. Like most people, I used to cling to the instinctive idea that we’re basically in control of our lives, that we can make rational choices about which of our desires to follow and which should be resisted, and so on. But a few years of experience – both of helping other people to deal with their sinful, foolish and destructive habits, and in dealing with my own – have kicked that idea firmly into the long grass.

(more…)

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