New Video Series Explores the Truth about Marriage and Family

family bookThe family is the basic social unit of any society. Therefore, as the family goes, so goes the nation. This was the topic (and title) of a recent book I co-authored with Elizabeth Youmans and Jill Thrift.

Church-based community and social transformation must begin with the truth about marriage and family. Yet for years now, Christian fathers and pastors in the West have neglected to teach the powerful, profound truth about marriage and family. As a result, the prevailing culture has effectively been “discipling the church” on this subject rather than the other way around. The recent Supreme Court decision creating a constitutional right to so-called “same sex marriage” is a tragic result of this neglect.

This simply cannot continue. As followers of Christ, we have a duty not only to understand the truth about marriage and family, but to incarnate this truth in our marriages and families by God’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirit. We desperately need to teach our children these truths as well, for they are increasingly and forcefully being exposed to cultural lies and distortions about this topic. We have a duty to help protect and guide them in the truth in the face of this pressure.

Thankfully, a number of powerful new resources are coming available to help us in this task. Here is one I can’t recommend highly enough.  A series of short You-Tube videos called Humanum. Here is the trailer.

The videos are artistically done, with high production value. They feature teachers and thought-leaders from around the world, and are deeply moving in their beautiful presentation of the various facets of this topic such as the complimentarity of male and female, and the theological, social and cultural implications of marriage and family.

Do yourself a huge favor, and take time to watch and discuss these videos with your children.

– Scott Allen

 

  
Posted in Culture, Current events, Family, Morality | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

A Sacred Moment of Female Dignity Down Under

“Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!”

Many of our readers will recognize these words from Luke’s gospel (1:45). He attributes them to Elizabeth, an old Jewish woman from the Judean countryside. She had been barren but now is pregnant with John the Baptizer. Elizabeth is greeting her younger cousin, Mary, a virgin perhaps as young as 14, who had come to tell Elizabeth that she, Mary, was with child.

We all know the story. The angel Gabriel had come to the Galilean town of Nazareth to make one of the most significant announcements in history. Mary, a young woman from the backwater of Israel, was as common as her community and her surroundings. She was the world’s “Every Woman.” Yet the God of the universe had chosen Mary’s womb (the Hebrew for womb means the “place of compassion”) to conceive and carry His incarnate Son for nine months of gestation.

It has always been stunning to me that the One who created the human womb would choose to live in a womb for nine months. In this simple miracle, God honors the life and dignity of every woman.

When Mary greeted Elizabeth in her home, Luke says Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and her baby leaped in her womb. Elizabeth then speaks a prophetic blessing over the young mother and the virgin womb that has been brought alive by the Spirit of God: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear!” Of all the common women, God the Father chose Mary of Nazareth to bear God Incarnate.

Of course when Mary saw the angel and heard his words, she was startled. But in response to his unusual announcement, Mary simply replied, “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.”

Because she heard and submitted herself to the glorious will of God, Mary received another blessing from Elizabeth: “Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished.”

Last week these words jumped out at me with new life. I was in Townsville, Australia, teaching in a YWAM Leadership Training School. I was privileged to share my week with over 60 young leaders from 16 countries. One of the themes we wrestled with was the inherent dignity of women. Much of our world is infested with the lie that “men are superior to women.” This lie has diminished and enslaved women and men, and families as well. They and their nations have been impoverished.

Part of my task was to expose this lie and break its power. This climaxed one morning. We experienced a remarkable moment as the Spirit of God powerfully descended to affirm, in the hearts of both women and men, the truth that women have dignity because they are made in the image of God.

female and male in Townsville praying togetherMen and women were in tears. Men stood and asked the females in their lives to forgive them for the way they had related to women, for their demanding words and actions. Women extended forgiveness. As they witnessed genuine repentance and extended heartfelt forgiveness, they were released from years of oppression and bondage. It was one of those remarkable times in life when God led us to holy ground.

He created them male and female

This moment happened as we studied the Cultural Commission of Genesis 1:26-28:

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and  female he created them.

God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

I have highlighted these verses to draw attention to some things easily missed in a quick reading of the text. Note that:

  • It says let “us” make man in “our” image. It does not say let “me” make many in “my” image. Before the creation of the world, there was community, communication and communion. To be made in the image of God is to be made in and for relationship. A single individual cannot fulfill all that it means to be made in the image of God.
  • It says that “they” may rule. It does not say that “he” may rule. This is God’s world and not man’s world. The task of the Cultural Commission is for “them” – male and female. It is a joint task with corresponding responsibilities.
  • The image of God is male and female. Just as one single male cannot reflect all that it means to be made in the image of God, so it is true that two males cannot reflect all that it means to be made in the image of God. It takes female and male to reveal God’s comprehensive nature. It takes feminine/female to reveal the maternal heart of God and masculine/male to reveal the paternal heart of God.
  • The Cultural Commission has two component parts. First, forming families. This is the sociological component. Second, stewarding creation. This is the developmental component. It takes male and female to fully reveal the image of God, and it takes female and male to fulfill the Cultural Mandate. This male–female image-of-God pair is tasked to procreate. Two men or two women cannot procreate. It requires male and female to procreate and to co-rule. It takes the different giftings of male and female, the complementarian nature of feminine and masculine to steward the creation, to discover its secrets and bring forth all its potential.

God made male and female to form families and govern creation

Again, this is not man’s world, this is God’s world. And He made us, in His image, male and female to form families and through those families to govern creation.

As we reviewed these themes over several days, the students were introduced to an alternative universe, a universe formed by the Trinitarian God for a life together. The Trinity is marked by unity without uniformity and diversity without superiority. Women and men are created equal. Men and cultures have no grounds for claiming male superiority. Men and women are created equal and gloriously different. There is no place to deny transcendent masculine and feminine, as modern Western culture does. The Trinitiarian principle boldly challenges the postmodern culture that argues that male–female is a sociological construction that has no meaning.

Reality has meaning. God’s revelation, both in His design of male and female and the announcement of His intention for male and female in Genesis 1, allows us to live and breathe free.  We can celebrate the unique equality of female and male!

What happened in Townsville was a breakthrough for most of these young leaders. They understood more about God. For the first time many understood the glorious distinctive of male and female and the wonder and dignity of female.

It struck me that Elizabeth’s words to Mary, “Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!” is true for all of us. We are blessed when we believe what God has said about who we are and what he intends to accomplish through our lives.

  • Darrow Miller

 

You can read more about this powerful truth in Darrow’s book, Nurturing the Nations: Reclaiming the Dignity of Women in Building Healthy Cultures.

 

  
Posted in Family, Imago Dei, Women | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

If Preaching Christ Scandalizes, Shall We Be Quiet?

Fundamentalist atheism will not stop at anything to destroy the natural family and the church. With this ideology marching virtually unimpeded through society today, what is the Christian to do?

As we have written before, atheists in the past affirmed reason. They simply asked for a level playing field to discuss competing truth claims. Today’s atheists have little concern for reason; their focus is power. They want to clear the playing field of other ideas and opinions and establish secularism/atheism as the state religion.

God has ordained three fundamental institutions of a society: the family, the church and the government. Of these, fundamentalist atheists are aligning with the government to crush the family and the church. We have seen this in the radical feminist movement which is anti-feminine, anti-family and anti-natal. Their allies in the LGBT community seek to crush all opposition to their so-called “marriage equality.”

preaching about the cross of Christ scandalizesHow are Christians to respond in the midst of this fast-moving steamroller? Are we to speak the truth at the risk of being accused of hate? Does love mean avoiding confrontation?  Are we to be “nice” and not risk offending by our words or deeds? Or are we in such desparate straits that we should throw a few verbal hand-grenades (like “fire breathers” Ann Coulter on the right and Camille Paglia on the left).

For a year and a half, I have been mulling over these questions. We have had some good and important discussions in the Disciple Nations Alliance office. I have felt the need to write at some length on this subject to achieve some clarity, even if only in my own thinking.

Now I might not need to!

When people see no need for salvation, preaching Christ is an offense

Recently my friend, John Stonestreet, wrote, “It’s What We Say, Not How We Say It: The Scandal of Christianity” at BreakPoint. He began his post by saying, “Making our arguments winsomely is important. But it won’t carry the day. That’s because, in the end, Christianity will remain a scandal in the world’s eyes.”

In a time when people see no need for salvation, the preaching of Christ crucified is an offense. License is championed, the reigning virtue is tolerance. In a world in which even evil is tolerated, the only thing not tolerated is the notion of a moral universe. Those who speak of such give offense to modern man.

The Apostle Paul warns that preaching about the cross of Christ will cause trouble:

For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 1 Corinthians 1:22-24 NAS

He pointed out that preaching salvation through the cross of Christ offends those who are in rebellion against God:

Dear brothers and sisters, if I were still preaching that you must be circumcised–as some say I do–why am I still being persecuted? If I were no longer preaching salvation through the cross of Christ, no one would be offended. Galatians 5:11 NLT

Stonestreet continues:

“… there’s nothing Evangelicals can do to turn [popular opinion] around, short of totally abandoning Christian orthodoxy on same-sex marriage.” It doesn’t matter how reasonable, calm, or winsome we might be. Just ask Ryan Anderson of the Heritage Foundation. He’s all three of these things and that does not keep people from calling him a “bigot.”

So perhaps at this moment in history, we must simply be joyful when we are maligned. Let us remember the word of the Lord to us when he spoke to the masses at the Sermon on the Mount.

Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

  • Darrow Miller

Related posts:

Women Rebelling Against the Masculinization of Women

Jihadists or New Atheists: Which the Bigger Threat to Religious Freedom?

Same-Sex Marriage Demands Christians Celebrate Sin

  
Posted in Culture, Freedom, Morality | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

The Gospel Won’t Fit in Your Closet

Evangelicals and charismatics understand very well the individual dimension of the gospel, i.e. the personal and private need of the cross. We are sinners in need of salvation. We are lost and need to be found. We need to discover who we are and why we are here. The cross is God’s answer to our greatest longings. The church has long understood and preached this aspect of the gospel.

Thankfully, an understanding of the public implications the gospel is emerging. After all, Jesus’ Great Commission directs his followers to make disciples of all nations not merely all individuals.

Mind you, the church has long practiced this public application of the gospel. The early church cared for widows and orphans, started hospices for the dying and hospitals for the care of the sick. The Reformation in Europe brought whole nations out of poverty, eliminated the sacred-secular divide that had created a two-tiered society, and established that concept of universal education which has become the world’s standard. More recently in England, Charles Wesley preached Christ crucified for our salvation and for the transformation of society.

Ralph Winter taught public nature of gospelDr. Ralph Winter, missionary, missiologist and founder of William Carey International University, wrote an article that examined this issue of the personal-versus-public manifestation of the gospel. Winter pointed to the distinction between,

… First-Inheritance Evangelicalism and Second-Inheritance Evangelicalism (my terms). For this article we can define … the First as that which was characterized by a broad dual social/personal spectrum of concern ranging from foreign missions to changing the legal structure of society and even war. The Second Inheritance focused mainly on the personal.

For more from this excellent piece go here.

Newbigin taught public dimension of gospelWinter died in 2009. A contemporary was British theologian, fellow missiologist, and missionary to the Indian sub-continent, Lesslie Newbigin. Like Winter, Newbigin understood that the gospel had a public dimension. He develops this theme in his book, Truth to Tell: The Gospel as Public Truth (1991). In it, Newbigin writes of the imperative of the gospel to impact the public square.

A serious commitment to evangelism, to the telling of the story which the Church is sent to tell, means a radical questioning of the reigning assumptions about public life. It is to affirm the gospel not only as an invitation to a private and personal decision but as public truth which ought to be acknowledged as true for the whole of the life of society.

The cross of Christ is not just a religious statement. The cross of Christ is at the heart of life, the heart of human history; it is framed and understood by “reality.” Newbigin writes:

The incarnate Word is Lord of all, not just of the Church. There are not two worlds, one sacred and the other secular. There are differing ways of understanding the one world and a choice has to be made about which is the right way, the way that corresponds to reality, to the reality beyond all the show which the ruler of this world can put on.

As we have written in the book LifeWork: A Biblical Theology for What You Do Every Day, the gospel has an implication for every area of life and every vocation. Referring once again to Newbigin,

We have to proclaim [the gospel] not merely to individuals in their personal and domestic lives. We do certainly have to do that. But we have to proclaim it as part of the continuing conversation that shapes public doctrine. It must be heard in the conversation of economists, psychiatrists, educators, scientists and politicians. We have to proclaim it … as the truth.

The Disciple Nations Alliance was founded to reaffirm the importance of the cross being applied in both the personal and public arenas. Our historic focus has been on the implications of the gospel for the church among the poor. Our global leadership has also had an emphasis on the health of nations; we want to see our nations flourish.

This is why many of our recent blog posts have dealt with the loss of a moral bearing in the US and Europe, and the related death of Western nations as we have known them.

Come join the movement of the First Great Awakening Evangelicals. Relish the implication of the cross and the blood of Christ shed both for personal salvation and for the transformation of communities and nations.

  • Darrow Miller

 

  
Posted in Discipleship, Evangelism, Great Commission, Mission | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

I Will Walk About in Freedom

On a recent morning I was reading Psalm 119 when verses 44-45 caught my attention.

 44 I will always obey your law,
for ever and ever.
45 I will walk about in freedom,
for I have sought out your precepts.

Springing from the “Enlightenment” of the West, much of the world uses the word “freedom” to mean “license” – permission to do wrong without penalty for one’s actions. In fact, people who pursue license often put the responsibility for the consequences of their choices on others. They often look to others to bail them out of their troubles.

On the other hand, true freedom is liberty to govern one’s self, the freedom to do the right thing. Michael Novak put it this way: “License is the freedom to follow one’s instincts and do as one desires, as naturally as cats and dogs do. Liberty is the duty to do what … one knows that one ought to do.”

Here we see the relationship between obeying God’s laws and freedom.

Freedom is always found within the framework of law. Or to put it differently, we walk in the “widest world” when we walk within the framework of God’s ordinances. God has designed us for freedom. His intention is that we discover our calling, that we fulfill our God-given potential. Becoming all we have been made to be is found within the order of God’s creation. People who self-govern based on God’s laws are the freest people in the world.

In the modern and postmodern worlds, people seek freedom outside the law, beyond their human design. But this is not freedom. Rather, it is license to live without boundaries.  This is lawlessness. It leads, not to the wide boundaries of freedom, but to slavery in a world of disorder.

walkingThe Hebrew puts it beautifully: “I shall walk in wide places!” I shall “go,” “travel,” “walk about,” in “broad,” “spacious,” “far reaching,” “extensive” spaces – “liberty.”

Matthew Henry, the 17th century British Non-conformist pastor and perhaps one of the greatest Bible expositors of all time, beautifully captures the thoughts of David. Henry intimates that the law of God is not only good in itself, because it reveals God’s nature and his mind, but it is also good for you and me. When we walk in God’s laws we walk in liberty.

Here’s Matthew Henry on Psalm 119:45:

What David experienced of an affection to the law of God: “I seek thy precepts, v. 45. I desire to know and do my duty, and consult thy word accordingly; I do all I can to understand what the will of the Lord is and to discover the intimations of his mind. I seek thy precepts, for I have loved them, v. 47, 48. I not only give consent to them as good, but take complacency in them as good for me.

All that love God love his government and therefore love all his commandments.

What he expected from this. Five things he promises himself here in the strength of God’s grace:—(1.) That he should be free and easy in his duty: “I will walk at liberty, freed from that which is evil, not hampered with the fetters of my own corruptions, and free to that which is good, doing it not by constraint, but willingly.” The service of sin is perfect slavery; the service of God is perfect liberty. Licentiousness is bondage to the greatest of tyrants; conscientiousness is freedom to the meanest of prisoners, Jn. 8:32, 36; Lu. 1:74, 75 …

We will either put chains on our sin and live as free men and women, or we will live lives of excess and be enslaved by our lawlessness.

Let us find life, abundant life, by living in “the perfect law of liberty.”

  • Darrow Miller
  
Posted in Freedom, Imago Dei | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Womb of the Dawn – A Morning Reflection

In my morning devotions recently I came across a beautiful phrase, the “womb of the dawn.”

There is something beautiful and clarion about these words. If I were a poet, which I am not, I would write a poem with this as the title. The phrase is found in a psalm of David (110). David, the shepherd king, spent nights with the sheep, waiting for the dawn and the beginning of a new day, David the poet and hymn writer who took images from life and creation and turned them into Psalms that generations have sung and read.

womb of the dawn

 

 

The womb of the dawn carries the idea of the place in the East where the sun is born; it is the “day break” in the east. This part of the Psalm is translated “from the east you receive your renewed vigor.”[1]

In his blog, El Shaddai Edwards reflects, “The womb of dawn is the unfolding of the day, the flowers that open and spread their petals to grasp the sun and the freshening dew.”

Both parts of the verse contain powerful and poetic images. And these phrases create parallel and complementary pictures. The womb of the dawn and the dew of your youth refer to the beginning of the day, the dawn surrenders to the rising sun and the dew provides the moisture that freshens the new day. The womb gives birth to a new day, the dew provides the vigor to sustain the youth.

A similar image is found in Isaiah 26:19:

But your dead will live, LORD; their bodies will rise– let those who dwell in the dust wake up and shout for joy– your dew is like the dew of the morning; the earth will give birth to her dead.

Here the reference is to the resurrection of the dead:

  • Your dead will live
  • Their bodies will rise
  • The earth will give birth to her dead
  • Wake up and shout for joy, you who dwell in the dust

Celebrate the dew of the morning. In the dawn comes the resurrection of the dead. Life from death, light from darkness.

John Calvin notes the French translation: “Des la matrice, comme de, l’estoille du matin,” “Out of the womb, as if from or out of the star of the morning.”

I love this insight. It is in the east, at the womb of the dawn, that the morning star shines its  brightest. The bright and morning star is no less than the person of Jesus Christ. He is the one who brought life from death, who turned the darkness of the tomb into the resurrection morning.

Jesus identifies himself as “the bright Morning Star” (Rev. 22:16) as he speaks prophetically of his soon dawning: “Behold [LOOK!], I am coming soon!” (Rev. 22:7). This is the opening verse of his prophecy of his return (vs. 12-16). This prophecy ends with his self-identifying as the bright Morning Star.

The morning star (Venus) is the brightest at the dawn. When you see the morning star, you know the sun will rise soon. The long night of suffering is about to end.

We witness this dawning in the word about the coming of the new heaven and the new earth (Rev. 21:3-5}:

And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.”

The darkness of the night will soon pass. The pain and death, sorrow and tears, mourning and crying will come to an end with the rising of the Son. There will be a new heaven and a new earth. Jesus is making all things new. Jesus is the bright Morning Star that will mark the coming return of the “Light of the World.” The bright Morning Star—the star in the east, the womb of the dawn—shows that the Son is rising soon.

The womb of the dawn brings hope

Isaiah captures a similar celebrative movement :

To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified.(Isaiah 61:3 KJV)

So how do I imagine this on a personal level?

  • In the midst of watching my nation die, there is hope of a revival and reformation.
  • When a son is diagnosed with cancer, there is hope he will be cancer free … and in fact he now is!
  • When a baby grandson dies at six months old, the pain, tears, mourning, and darkness are so great. Yet, there is hope because of the womb of the dawn, the resurrection has come.

 

  • Darrow Miller

 

[1] DBL Hebrew

  
Posted in Kingdom, Theology | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

What is Poverty?

Paul Ryan and What is poverty

Photo by James Currie

I was stunned, but not surprised, by an article in VOX from Dylan Matthews titled, “Paul Ryan Loves Talking About Poverty, But He Keeps Getting the Basic Facts Wrong.”

Paul Ryan has been speaking out recently on the topic of poverty fighting. He’s the United States Congressman from Wisconsin whom Mitt Romney chose as his running mate in the last presidential election.

So what is Dylan Matthews’ bottom-line definition of poverty? What is poverty? “Poverty is about not having enough money. Everything else is secondary.”

He continues:

There’s a lot the government can’t do. It can’t force poor people into marriages, for example. It can’t singlehandedly reverse decades of technology and globalization-driven trends in the labor market. But it’s pretty good at taking rich and middle-class people’s money and giving it to poor people. And while there’s much that tactic can’t do, it absolutely can help people in poverty put food on the table, pay rent, and make sure they can take care of their children. It can even lift them out of poverty entirely. [emphasis added]

This isn’t so much an analysis of poverty as it is a parable of the power of worldview. Dylan Matthews is clearly trapped in the mental prison cell of materialism. The universe is ultimately material. People are ultimately material (mouths to be fed). Poverty is ultimately material, and therefore, you solve poverty by redistributing enough money from the rich to the poor so they won’t be poor anymore. What could be simpler?

What is poverty?

I may be wrong, but as I recall, I don’t believe this approach worked out very well when put to the test (see Communism, the Soviet Union, China, Cuba, etc.) but experience and history don’t count for much when you are locked in an ideological prison cell.

What is poverty to people who actually live on less than $2 per day? You might be surprised by the answer.

I must also take exception to the notion that the government is “pretty good at taking rich and middle-class people’s money and giving it to poor people.” I would agree that government is pretty good at the taking part, but pretty bad at the giving part. Reality looks more like what economist Thomas Sowell described: “Giving money to the state in order to help the poor is a little like trying to feed the swallows by feeding the horses. The swallows get very little of it.”

  • Scott Allen
  
Posted in Economic Development, Poverty | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Population Spiral: The Dearth of Denmark

StonestreetWe’ve written before about the Malthusian myth of overpopulation and its devastating consequences (see list of posts below).

John Stonestreet’s recent article comprises a splendid companion piece; it’s worthy of your attention.

Demographics and ‘Do It for Denmark’

The most unlikely public service advertisement urges people to “Do It for Denmark.”

Now the “It” is to go on vacation abroad and have lots of, well, marital relations. Why? Well, not just to create fond memories, but to actually create more Danes.

As Eric Metaxas and I have told you on BreakPoint, nearly the entire industrialized world, really everyone except Australia, is in the midst of a demographic downturn due to very low fertility levels.

In desperation, governments have tried almost everything to raise birth rates. Everything, that is, except questioning the worldview that causes the problem in the first place.

A 2013 report described Denmark’s birth rate as “dangerously low.” At current levels, there won’t be enough Danes to sustain the country’s welfare state, its economic growth, or even its existence as a nation.

In response, the Danes tried dating sites for those ready to have a baby now; free “date night” childcare for parents trying to have a second child; and the above-mentioned “Do It for Denmark” ad.

Low birth rates throughout the West can be traced to the pursuit of “material rewards” and “self-satisfaction.”

Post continues at BreakPoint.org.

 

See these related posts:

Turning Out the Lights in Japan: Negative Population Growth

Why Christian Couples Should Have Children

What GDP Could a Free Nigeria Generate?

  
Posted in Culture, Ethics, Population | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Millennials on Marriage and Sex: Recreational or Conjugal?

When the church fails to disciple the nation, the nation will disciple the church.

As we have argued elsewhere, culture is simply a reflection of worship. Western civilization was created by the worship of the God who created the universe and is our Father. The worship of man, i.e. in Darwinian thought, created the “modern world.” The worship of nature is creating the postmodern, neo-pagan world. We become like the God or gods we worship.

If the church is not consciously Trinitarian and intentionally biblical in her thought and practice she will not be in a position to disciple the nation. Rather, the nation will disciple the church.

In two recent posts we discussed the impact of postmodern culture in the return of ancient pagan sexual practices. We are now seeing the impact of postmodern sexuality coming into the church in thought, attitude and behavior. We have discussed this here.

So what has been the postmodern culture’s impact on the church, particularly on young evangelicals?

Abigail Rine writes about millennials' view of marriageDr. Abigail Rine, Assistant Professor of English at George Fox University, has written a very thoughtful piece, “What is Marriage to Evangelical Millennials?” in First Things (self described as “America’s most influential journal of religion and public life”). She relates her experience of reflecting with the young evangelicals she teaches. Dr. Rine was facilitating an open discussion on another article titled, “What is Marriage?”

I realized, as I listened to the discussion, that the idea of “redefining” marriage was nonsensical to them, because they had never encountered the philosophy behind the conjugal view of marriage. To them, the Christian argument against same-sex marriage is an appeal to the authority of a few disparate Bible verses, and therefore compelling only to those with a literalist hermeneutic. What the article names as a “revisionist” idea of marriage—marriage as an emotional, romantic, sexual bond between two people—does not seem “new” to my students at all, because this is the view of marriage they were raised with, albeit with a scriptural, heterosexual gloss.

Wow! Let’s unpack and comment on Dr. Rine’s observations.

These young evangelicals grew up in Christian homes and evangelical churches but had no grasp of the purpose of marriage and human sexuality, i.e. for forming families. They apparently had not been taught a theology of marriage, sex, and family, the beautiful, positive case for what some call “traditional” or “conjugal” marriage, i.e. as purposed by God at creation.

The traditional concept of marriage has several critical elements. It is between a man and a woman, in a covenantal relationship (faithful “until death do us part”). It is a comprehensive relationship including friendship, companionship, intimacy, eros, mutual respect, working and worshiping together,  and stewarding creation together. And it is first and foremost about forming families, conceiving, nourishing and raising children for the health of the community and the future of the nation.

What these young evangelicals may have heard was some negative preaching against fornication, adultery and homosexuality, using a few pointed scriptural references.

What these young people were exposed to in society, and perhaps in the home and the church, was what might be called the “revisionist view” of marriage (the equivalent of the revisionist view of sexuality), i.e. sex and marriage is for the personal fulfillment and pleasure of the couple.

This view of marriage follows the cultural view that the priority of marriage is romantic love and sexual pleasure. Having children is optional. Christian singles are waiting later to marry and begin their families. Many are embracing the postmodern practice of not having children at all, or perhaps having one “token” child to enable them to say, “Yes, we’re parents. This is our child.”

“[T]he idea of ‘redefining’ marriage was nonsensical to them” because they already have a revisionist view of sexuality and marriage as promoted by modern and postmodern culture. Any discussion about the sanctity of marriage, whether in society in general or the church in particular, is not worth having. The only valuable discussion is “How do we want to define marriage and human sexuality from the many choices?” To fight for the traditional view of marriage as the only view is narrow, bigoted, and intolerant.

(Go to Discussing Marriage to read more about distinguishing between the revisionist and the traditional views of marriage.)

Dr. Rine continues:

While I listened to my students lambast the article, it struck me that, on one level, they were right: marriage isn’t in danger of being redefined; the redefinition began decades ago, in the wake of the sexual revolution. Once the link between sexuality and procreation was severed in our cultural imagination, marriage morphed into an exclusive romantic bond that has only an arbitrary relationship to reproduction. It is this redefinition, arguably, that has given rise to the same-sex marriage movement, rather than the other way around, and as the broader culture has shifted on this issue, so have many young evangelicals.

What we are witnessing today is not an attempt to redefine marriage. What we are witnessing is the logical outcome of a set of ideas that have been accepted by the elites of society and propagated into common culture through the arts, media, and academic institutions. Rine links this back to the sexual revolution.

But the sexual revolution came about through a shift in worldview. In the last two hundred years we have abandoned the Judeo-Christian worldview that gave us Western Civilization. This worldview gave way to the atheistic-materialist worldview of Darwin and ushered in the modern world. At the beginning of the 21st century we are witnessing the slow death of the Darwinian framework and modern culture, and the return of the animistic, neo-pagan worldview which is producing the postmodern world.

This worldview shift has given rise to a shift in understanding of human sexuality and marriage.

Dr. Rine is correct: the sexual revolution of the 60’s had a part to play in this process. In fact, the sexual revolution was itself a product of a culture shift which ultimately reflected a shift in worldview.

It was the revisionist view of marriage and sexuality that eliminated the connection between sex, marriage, and procreation. In the new view, sex stands outside of marriage. Its relationship to procreation is incidental, not substantial.

Sex has little or nothing to do with marriage and procreation. It’s all about pleasure and personal happiness. It becomes a form of recreation, like jogging or hiking, or of entertainment, like a good meal out or a good movie – good sex.

With the postmodern concept of “reality” being socially constructed and having nothing to do with objective reality, both marriage and sexuality can be redefined at will.

Because the church has failed in its task to disciple the nation, the nation is discipling the church. This spirit of the postmodern age is permeating the church and is having a profound impact on the attitudes and behavior of evangelical millennials.

Dr. Rine continues:

To my students, the authors of “What is Marriage?” are making a troubling move, reducing the purpose of marital sex to its reproductive function. What they seemed less able to recognize is that they have inherited the inverse: a view of sex with little meaningful connection to procreation. And once such a view of sexuality is embraced, there is not much foothold, aside from appeals to biblical authority, to support the conjugal understanding of marriage.

Millennial evangelicals are concerned that for their parents’ and grandparents’ generation, the only purpose for marital sex is procreation. In some cases this may be true. But, as we have said above, the traditional view of the family and sexual relations is robust and comprehensive. The view of intimacy and sexuality promoted in the Song of Solomon is an indication of the full-orbed nature of sexuality as God designed it.

The millennial evangelicals are often too close to postmodern culture to see its influence on their lives. (The same is true for anyone until they seek to be consciously Christian and bring every thought captive to Christ, a captivity that includes our understanding of the beauty and robustness of the biblical concept of marriage, sex, and family.)

Many millennial evangelicals have succumbed to postmodern culture. In their attitudes and behavior they have separated sex and marriage from procreation. This becomes a watershed for young evangelicals and for the churches they will lead. The moral and metaphysical testimony of scripture have no sway. There is little to hold back the tide of so-called “marriage equality,” little to resist the view of human sexuality and concepts of family as a social construction.

May the church, her young and old, awake to see the impact culture has made on our own lives and the lives of our institutions. May we, with heartfelt motivation, seek to bring every thought regarding sexuality and marriage captive to Christ.

  • Darrow Miller

 

  
Posted in Church, Family, Morality | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Just Breaking: Motherhood Is a Cultural Invention!

motherhood a cultural invention says one college president“Motherhood is a cultural invention. It reflects a belief adopted by society that is passed down from one generation to the next.”

So writes Kathleen McCartney, president of Smith College, in “Time To Rethink Our Social Construct of Motherhood.” McCartney’s article appeared on the May 6, 2015 opinion page of the Boston Globe.

The idea that something as basic as motherhood could be deemed a cultural invention is nothing more than postmodern drivel, the abandonment of reason. It is non-sense.

The whale is worth saving, but motherhood is not?

Both modern and postmodern culture are obsessed with preserving and protecting all manner of animal life in its natural state. The trend is toward the idea that human beings are merely animals like all other creatures. Then comes an irrational twist—while we protect and preserve all animals’ natural lives, we are bent toward everything not normal and natural in human life: abortifacients and abortions, homosexuality, gender surgery, feminizing boys, all manner of hormonal manipulation, so-called same-sex “marriage” and parenting, test-tube babies. The list is long. What an absurdity! What could be more natural than motherhood? Some seem to be saying the whale is worth saving, but motherhood is not.

Recently we have examined the postmodern culture’s warping our understanding of the nature of human sexuality. Dr. McCartney’s piece calls for some examination of her claim. She writes:

Motherhood is a cultural invention. It reflects a belief adopted by society that is passed down from one generation to the next. In US culture, we hold to the idea that young children are better off when cared for exclusively by their mothers. Mothers are bombarded by this message in the media, especially in programming directed to them. [all bolded text represents added emphasis]

For McCartney, motherhood is a belief, just as “I believe in the tooth fairy” is a belief. “You believe this, I believe that.” There is no reference to an objective reality. Truth is relative. “You have your truth, I have my truth.”

Why do women pursue motherhood? Not because they are designed and wired to be mothers, but because they have been bombarded with a cultural message! McCartney seems to be arguing that “the idea that young children are better off when cared for exclusively by their mother” is just so much cultural baggage to be jettisoned.

Motherhood is deemed a barrier to contributing in the marketplace

What about the biological necessity of motherhood for the survival and propagation of the human race? Without motherhood, the human race would not exist. If all women ceased to have babies, in 100 years or less human life would disappear from the planet.

What about the biological necessity of the child to have nourishment and care from a mother?  A human child is other-reliant for several years (in contrast to other living creatures whose inferior level of development allows for a much shorter childhood).  And what about the soulish need of the child for a mother’s love, a mother’s touch, the face-to-face, soul-to-soul bonding that only a mother can provide?

Why does McCartney advocate such non-sense? Perhaps she means to support the postmodern agenda to rid the world of the “human cancer” that is “destroying the planet.” Perhaps she believes one’s value is only found in the marketplace and thus wants to discourage motherhood because it is a barrier to the marketplace and thus to a life of significance.

McCartney continues:

Our cultural construction of motherhood is rooted in a particularly strong American bias toward personal responsibility, reflected across our social policies. This is why, in the United States, my daughter’s three-month paid leave is considered generous. In Sweden, where new mothers are guaranteed 16 months paid leave, it would be laughable. The United States ranks last among 38 developed nations in paid parental leave benefits: we guarantee none.

So this cultural construction is an American issue. What about mothers in every other country in the world? What about mothers in every other generation of history? Is this only a social construction in the USA? Haven’t cultures throughout all time understood motherhood as a social construction?  Is this not just so much non-sense?

Note to Dr. McCartney: Since the beginning of human history, there have been mothers. This is a biological reality based on a woman’s design and function. It is also a transcendent necessity to propagate the human story and purpose. Without biological motherhood, there would not be a next generation of humans. Without the transcendent nature revealed in the design and function of females, human life would have no teleological purpose.

Adam named his wife Eve “because she would become the mother of all the living.” That act marked reality, the root of all that is sensible. McCarthy’s proclamation that motherhood is a social construct is utter non-sense, a grand illusion of postmodern thought. It is anti-science.

We do not live in a world of illusion (Maya, as the Hindus call it). It may be fashionable to pretend that reality is a social construct, but we still have to live in the real world, the reality made by God. No matter what people might say, on 9/11/2001, real planes flew into real towers of the World Trade Center bringing them down and killing over 2,000 people. This is the real world. Motherhood, on the other end of the scale, is another established fact of human existence.

Writer and editor John Podhoretz reviewed McCartney’s piece in his May 12, 2015 article, “The latest lunatic postmodern target: Motherhood.”

Motherhood is the opposite of a social construct. Like gravity, its existence makes possible our existence. One might say, in fact, that everything besides motherhood that involves the raising of children is a “social construct.”’

McCartney continues:

Mother’s Day is a good day to double down on the work required to reconstruct our conception of motherhood. An essential step is to make the invisible visible, helping young mothers and their partners realize that social constructions of motherhood are just that — constructions. By doing that, we can build the political will necessary for change.

Deconstruct motherhood would be more honest than reconstruct motherhood. Motherhood cannot be reconstructed, only deconstructed and that is what she and other postmoderns are doing. She is seeking to replace the bold—even radical—biological and transcendent nature of motherhood with a pathetic illusion of a world without mothers, children, or families.

Yes, she deconstructs the family, too. She speaks of “helping young mothers and their partners.” Not mothers and fathers, the combination needed to build a family, but mothers and “partners.” The term “partner” is gender neutral and commitment neutral. Whatever she means by “partner” we can be sure she does not mean a husband/father in a covenantal marriage with a wife/mother.

The postmodern mind reduces reality to a social construct. Such illusion flies in the face of reality.

It’s time to say Enough is enough. It’s time to boldly declare the truth: Motherhood is a sacred task, absolutely significant for the health and well-being of children, and the health and continuance of the individual, the family, the nation, and indeed, the human race.

  • Darrow Miller

 

 

 

 

  
Posted in Culture, Family, Imago Dei, Language, Science | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments