Wednesday, January 31, 2018

What is a Man? The Question That Reveals the Heart of the Culture Wars

The wars over “toxic masculinity,” assertions that people are “gendered” more than born with dramatic and distinct sex differences, the elimination of distinctly male spaces (including the transformation of the infantry), and the contention that there are no distinctly male or female ways of being — gender is fluid and non-binary — mean that some people will hear Brown [NBA Sixer coach Brett Brown] and ask, “But what does that even mean?”


In fact, as we ponder our enduring culture wars and the growing cultural and religious gap between Left and Right, we’re all understanding that our American divide increasingly isn’t over mere public-policy issues, it’s over the deepest and most profound questions in life. To take one example, thought leaders on the cultural left and cultural right now can’t even agree on the answer to one, simple question:  What is a man? A cultural conservative would respond with simple biology and build from there.

A man is a person with a distinct chromosomal and physical makeup who — from birth — is typically distinctly different from women. Men are typically physically stronger than women. They’re typically more aggressive than women. They typically have a different emotional response to events. Thus, the raising and training of a boy is typically a different task from the raising and training of a girl.

The cultural conservative looks at the male child and says, I want to train him to take care of a family, to be a provider and a protector. I want to channel his strength and aggression into duty, courage, and honor. I want to channel his drive and energy into a lifelong quest for self-improvement and service. In other words, I don’t want him to see his masculinity as a problem to be controlled but rather a gift to be properly enjoyed.

A cultural liberal — especially a secular cultural liberal — increasingly responds with a fundamentally different answer. A man is a person who believes that he’s a man. His masculinity is unrelated to his biology and instead inextricably linked to his self-conception. Since both men and women can possess stereotypically “masculine” or “feminine” traits, the terms themselves have little meaning — except as a means of understanding outdated and damaging gender stereotypes.

To the extent that a man has any special responsibility, it is to combat toxic masculinity and to undermine male privilege. Masculinity, as traditionally understood, isn’t a gift to be properly enjoyed but rather a problem to be controlled.

Now, take those two different definitions, take the different parenting styles that flow from them, and then multiply by the several millions of families that live, believe, and act accordingly. Would you not create two separate worlds? Would you not start to see very different masculine ideals emerge? Would you not see different tastes, styles, and beliefs? Would you not start to lose a common language, culture, and morality?

On the right, there is a renewed emphasis on cultivating traditional manliness. Jordan Peterson’s popularity is a sign of the longing for understanding a distinctive male purpose and male way of living that is true to biology and psychology. Books and movies such as American Sniper connect at a fundamental level with men young and old who seek heroes — the men who want to be the “sheepdogs” of their families and their communities.

On the left, the war isn’t just waged against so-called toxic masculinity; increasingly it’s waged against the very concept of manhood itself. Writing in New York magazine, Andrew Sullivan lamented the increasingly radicalization of the gay-rights movement, and he singled out its view of gender as a prime culprit:


“Above all, they have advocated transgenderism, an ideology that goes far beyond recognizing the dignity and humanity and civil equality of trans people into a critique of gender, masculinity, femininity, and heterosexuality. “Live and let live” became: “If you don’t believe gender is nonbinary, you’re a bigot.”


Sullivan makes the key point. The transgender moment isn’t about tolerance. Even those — like me — who understand that a man can’t become a woman do not wish any transgender person ill and are happy to live and work alongside of our transgender neighbors in a community that protects each person’s civil liberties, equally. The transgender moment is about redefinition. It’s about re-imagining. And it’s a small part of a much larger project purports to redefine and re-imagine virtually every aspect of human existence.


Last week in The Intercept, writer Peter Mass took direct aim at the “outdated model of masculinity” in the movie 12 Strong. The movie tells the story of one of the first special-forces teams inserted into Afghanistan after 9/11. It’s a team that helped win a key battle and liberated a community from the ultimate form of “toxic masculinity” — Taliban tyranny. And yet it’s still problematic. The time has come for Hollywood to turn away from war movies that, while satisfying to both a studio’s bottom line and a flag-waving concept of patriotism, perpetuate a model of masculinity that does violence to us all. . . . What matters is that well into the second decade of our forever war, the combat movies that populate our multiplexes and our minds are devoted to a martial narrative of men-as-terminators that should have been strangled at its birth a long time ago.


No, it’s not about “men as terminators.” It’s about “men as protectors,” and if we don’t cultivate that virtue and advance that narrative then who, pray tell, will protect our nation, our culture, and our civilization


Our American differences are growing so very profound. Yes, we battle over tax rates and policing tactics. But we also battle over the deepest questions in life. We battle over reality itself, and we do so as enclaves on the cultural left increasingly brook no dissent. The cultural indoctrination begins early, and it’s intense. To fully understand, talk to conservative parents and kids in our most progressive public and private schools.


What is a man? It’s a question they dare not ask. If asked, there is an answer they dare not give. That’s how wide our divide has become.



by David French a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and an attorney.

 

Sunday, December 31, 2017

8 Sins You Commit Whenever You Look at Porn

We know that pornography is an ugly and harmful sin. We know that those who indulge in porn have  committed the sin of lust, but there is so much more to it than that. When you open your browser and begin to look at those images and videos, you are sinning in ways that go far beyond lust. Here are 8 sins you commit when you look at porn.


In the moment you begin to look at porn, you have allowed it to replace God as essential to your happiness.

You commit the sin of idolatry. All sin is idolatry, an attempt to find joy and satisfaction not in God himself but in what God forbids (Exodus 20:3-6). Matt Papa says it well: “An idol, simply put, is anything that is more important to you than God. It is anything that has outweighed God in your life—anything that you love, trust, or obey more than God—anything that has replaced God as essential to your happiness.” In the moment you begin to look at porn, you have allowed it to replace God as essential to your happiness. You’ve committed the sin of idolatry.

You commit the sin of adultery. This is the most obvious sin you commit when you use porn. In Matthew 5, Jesus draws a clear connection between lust and adultery. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (27-28). Pornography is lust and exists to foster lust. But lust is simply a form of the wider sin of adultery, the deed or desire to be sexually involved with someone other than your spouse.

You commit the sin of deceit. Deceit is the act of concealing or misrepresenting your actions. Because pornography generates shame, you will hide it, cover it up, or refuse to confess it. When you erase your browsing history to keep your parents from finding out, when you use it in secret to keep your spouse from learning about your addiction, when you refuse to proactively confess it to an accountability partner, when you participate in the Lord’s Supper even though you are unrepentantly given over to it, you are practicing deceit. And the Bible warns of the dire consequences: “No one who practices deceit shall dwell in my house; no one who utters lies shall continue before my eyes” (Psalm 101:7).

You commit the sin of theft. The porn industry is being badly damaged by piracy, by people illegally distributing copyrighted material. Some estimates say that for every 1 video that is downloaded legally, 5 are downloaded illegally. Fully 60 percent of all illegal downloads are of pornographic content. While we can be glad that the industry is in dire straights, we have no right to participate in such theft, for God says clearly, “You shall not steal” (Exodus 20:15). When you use porn, you are almost definitely watching material that has been stolen and, in that way, you are participating in its theft.

You commit the sin of greed. Sexual sin is greed, a form of taking advantage of another person to defraud them of something that is rightly theirs. In 1 Thessalonians 4, Paul insists “that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter [of sexual sin], because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you” (6). The word translated “wrong” in this context refers to greedily taking something from someone else. It is to allow greed to motivate fraud, to unfairly and illegitimately use another person for your ignoble purposes.

You commit the sin of sloth. We are called in all of life to “redeem the time,” to understand that we live short little lives and are responsible before God to make the most of every moment (Ephesians 5:16). Sloth is laziness, an unwillingness to use time well, and reflects a willingness to use time for destructive instead of constructive purposes. In that way pornography is slothful, a misuse of time. It is using precious moments, hours, and days to harm others instead of help them, to foster sin instead of kill sin, to backslide instead of grow, to pursue an idol instead of the living God.

The person who voluntarily watches sexual assault for purposes of titillation is rightly guilty of that sexual assault.

You commit the sin of sexual assault. A person who drives a getaway car for a band of bank robbers will rightly be charged with murder for anyone who is killed in committing that crime. The person who voluntarily watches sexual assault for purposes of titillation is rightly guilty of that sexual assault. And a nauseating quantity of pornography is violent in nature, displaying men taking advantage of women. Sometimes these women have volunteered for such degradation and sometimes they are forced or raped into it. To watch such horrifying smut is to be a participant in it and to bear the moral blemish of it.

You commit the sin of ignoring the Holy Spirit. As a Christian, you have the tremendous honor and advantage of being indwelled by the Holy Spirit. One of the ways the Spirit ministers to you is in giving you an internal warning against sin. Paul assures that the Spirit warns against sexual sin in particular, then provides a stern caution: “Therefore whoever disregards this [warning], disregards not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you” (1 Thessalonians 4:8). To commit sexual sin is to ignore the Holy Spirit, to actively suppress his voice as he warns that you need not and should not commit this sin. He provides everything necessary to resist this temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13). To resist the Spirit and ignore his ministry to you is a serious offense against a holy God.

It is sinful to lust after another person and to enable this lust through pornography. Yet the sin bound up in pornography goes far deeper than mere lust. It extends to idolatry, adultery, deceit, theft, greed, sloth, sexual violence, and ignoring the Holy Spirit. Romans 14:12 warns: “So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.” Thankfully, what God demands God provides, and he does so through the gospel. Those who have trusted Jesus Christ can have confidence that Christ has satisfied our account, that he has satisfied God’s wrath against our sin, that he has provided us with his own righteousness. Yet we must also know that he has done this not so we can remain in our sin, but that we can “put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:24).

By Tim Challies, a pastor at Grace Fellowship Church in Toronto, Ontario, blogger, author, book reviewer, co-founder of Cruciform Press

Saturday, December 30, 2017

A New Year Prayer for 2018

This prayer is based in part on the two new year’s prayers in the classic devotional Valley of Vision with thanks to Tim Challies:
 
My Good and Gracious Father,

You have brought me safely through another year. This was a year in which I saw and experienced so much of your goodness. You were good when you gave, and you were good when you took away; you were good when the sun shined upon me and you were good when the night fell around me. You were only, ever good.

In your Word you give the sure promise that you have loved me since before the foundation of the world. That love was always with me and held me fast through another year. You led me in each step I took. You led me around the wilderness to the places of cool rest and quiet. You led me through dark valleys to the joy beyond. You were there even in times when I wandered and went astray. There was nowhere I could go that was beyond your love, beyond your reach, beyond your care and compassion. You are so good and I am so grateful.

Father, I trust and I believe that your love and your kindness will be my theme in the year ahead. I entrust the future to you and I do it with joy and with confidence. I do it with sure hope that you already know each step I will take and that you will be with me to direct each one of them.

If you have appointed trials and tribulation, I know that you will guide and comfort me through them all. If I have to pass through persecution or times of deep temptation, I can have full confidence that you will never leave me nor forsake me. If this is to be the year you call me home, I can receive that with joy, knowing that I will rejoice to be in your presence at last. If this is the year that Christ returns—Please, may it be the year that Christ returns!—, then I will join with all Creation in rejoicing and praising your name.

But if you grant me length of days, and if you grant me health and safety through the year ahead, it is my prayer and my deep desire that I would live them all in your service and to your glory. Please grant me a grace that guides, sustains and sanctifies me every day and every hour, that in this new year I would not live a moment apart from you. Let me rely on your Spirit to supply every word I need to speak, to direct my every step, to prosper all I do, to build up my faith, and to grant me the heartfelt desire to display your glory, to advance your kingdom, and to declare your gospel.

Whatever may come in the year ahead, I pray that you would glorify yourself through me. In times of joy or sadness, in times of security or trial, in times of peace or temptation, make yourself known and make yourself great through me.

I pray this in the mighty name of Jesus. Amen.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Crucial Lessons To Teach Your Kids in 2018

The rewards of being a brave dad are great. First you have to be willing to follow God's job description for dads as given in the Bible. Pastor John MacArthur in his highly recommended book Brave Dad: Raising Your Kids to Love and Follow God draws lessons out of Proverbs 1-10 for fathers to teach their children.


  1.  Children to Fear God

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge (Prov. 1:7). MacArthur talks about the fact that we must teach our kids the attributes of God. When we do so properly they will come to fear him. Not only will they fear Him in a reverential way but also they will fear sinning against Him, this will help your children to recognize that God is worthy of honor and invokes in them a desire to live righteously. In order to teach this properly the parents must fear God as well and in turn, sin will be hated in the family. If we don’t teach our children to fear God, the devil will teach them to reject and hate God.
  1. Teach Your Children to Guard Their Minds

Proverbs 3:3-4 says, “Do not let kindness and truth leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. So, you will find favor and good repute in the sight of God and man.” The word “heart” here refers to the mind in the Hebrew. The mind is the seat of thought, emotion, and will, this passage then is calling parents to teach their kids to guard their minds. Macarthur goes on to say that as a father you are the guardian of your children’s minds. Our duty is to protect them from the world. But it doesn’t stop there. We must then do our best to fill their minds with truth, kindness and ultimately God’s word. We are to tell them, “Guard your mind, for out of it comes your conduct.” If we don’t teach our children to guard their minds, the devil will gladly teach them to have an “open mind”.

  1. Teach Your Children to Obey Their Parents

The proverbs are filled with statements like, “Hear my son your father’s instruction.” In doing so the writer of Proverbs is reinforcing the “first commandment with a promise,” namely, to honor your father and mother. MacArthur goes on to say that when your children learn to obey you, they will learn to obey societal authority, and more importantly this is how they learn to obey God. A child who is taught to obey will be a child who learns self-control and true wisdom. If we don’t teach our children to obey their mother and father, the devil will teach them to rebel and break our hearts.

  1. Teach Your Children to Select Their Companions Carefully

This parental responsibility is one where you go on the attack. We can’t sit back and wait to see how our children turn out and what friends they naturally choose. We need to teach them how to choose their friends. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:33 that “bad company corrupts good morals.” The friends our children hang out with will have a direct influence on who they will become and that’s why we go on the attack in helping them choose the right type of friends. Proverbs 1:10 says, “My son if sinners entice you, do not consent.” Excitement, adventure, and ill gain are what worldly people will entice our sons and daughters with, but we are to train them to resist such enticements. We must equip our children with wisdom so that they will develop the discernment they need to choose friends wisely. If we don’t teach our children to select their companions carefully, the devil will gladly choose their companions for them.

  1. Teach Your Children to Control Their Body

The dominant theme throughout the early chapter of Proverbs is on the topic of controlling our bodies. (As a father of three boys, this scares me). Proverbs 2:16-17 warns about this, and Solomon says that only wisdom will, “deliver you from the strange woman, from the adulteress who flatters with her words; that leaves the companion of her youth and forgets the covenant of her God.” The parent warns his children of people like who seek adultery, knowing that the consequences of adultery are devastating even unto death. As extreme as that sounds, MacArthur says that lust for sex in some men outweighs their desire to live. We must teach our kids sexual purity, to keep their hands to themselves, to stay far away from temptation and to guard their eyes. If we don’t teach our children to control their bodies, the devil will teach them to give their bodies over to lust.

  1. Teach Your Children to Enjoy Their Spouse

Sex outside of marriage is obviously forbidden, but inside marriage it is exalted. Proverbs 5:15-19 says,“Drink water from your own cistern and fresh water from your own well. Should your springs be dispersed abroad, Streams of water in the streets? Let them be yours alone and not for strangers with you. Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth. As a loving hind and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times; Be exhilarated always with her love.”

In others words, a man or woman who is sexually thirsty must find satisfaction in their spouse alone. The way we treat our spouse will be a great way to teach our children to be satisfied in their spouse alone. If we don’t teach our children to enjoy the marriage partner given them by God, the devil will teach them how to destroy their marriage through adultery.

  1. Teach Your Children to Watch Their Words

Proverbs 4:24 says, “Put away from you a deceitful mouth and put devious speech far from you.” We must teach our kids to speak the truth and only the truth. MacArthur provides some great questions for our children to ask before they speak: Is what I’m about to say edifying? Is it appropriate? Is it gracious? Our speech as Christians must be uplifting, instructive, and helpful. If we don’t teach our children to watch their words, the devil will fill their mouth with gossip, slander, lies, and foul language.

  1. Teach Your Children to Work Hard

We must teach our children how to work. This must be done by both word and example. In Proverbs 6:6-8 the father tells his son to, “go to the ant…observe her ways and be wise, which, having no chief, officer or ruler, prepares her food in the summer and gathers her provision in the harvest.” We must teach our kids to work hard even when there is no supervisor. Self-motivation is key to being successful in life, and planning ahead is a part of that. The father in Proverbs also warns against being a sluggard; one who gives excuses for not working and always procrastinates when it is time to work. The consequences for the lazy person are hunger, poverty, and failure. We must teach our kids to work hard and to avoid the pitfalls of laziness. If we don’t teach our children to work hard, the devil will teach them to be lazy, which will impoverish them.

  1. Teach Your Children to Manage Their Money Well

Money plays a huge role in life, and that’s why Proverbs speaks so often about how we manage it. If we are careful with our money it can be very useful, but if we’re careless, money can become the source of much anxiety and heartache. MacArthur goes on to provide two lessons the book of Proverbs teaches about money. The first is to be generous with God. Proverbs 3:9-10 says, “Honor the Lord from your wealth and from the first of all your produce; so that your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will overflow with new wine.” Our money does not belong to us. It is God’s and we must teach that to our kids. Our kids will know if we are generous with our money and will follow our example. Secondly, Proverbs warns us not to cosign with a stranger. We are not to become liable for other people’s behavior that we can’t control. This includes get-rich-quick schemes and other businesses that can have serious consequences if done in partnership with untrustworthy people. We must then teach our children to use their money as the Lord leads. If we don’t teach our children how to manage their money properly, the devil will teach them to spend it carelessly and go into debt.

  1. Teach Your Children to Love Their Neighbor

Although Proverbs does warn against partnering with untrustworthy people it doesn’t say that we shouldn’t be generous to those in need. Proverbs 3:27-28 says, “Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due when it is in your power to do it. Do not say to your neighbor, ‘go, and come back, and tomorrow I will give it,’ when you have it with you.” If we have it, we should help those in need. In order to honor God, we must be generous in showing sacrificial love to our neighbor. Jesus included loving our neighbor as one of his two greatest commandments. And so, we too must not only teach our children to love God, but also we must teach them to love their neighbor. If we don’t teach our children to love their neighbors, the devil will gladly teach them to love only themselves.

Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg and my summaries of each point are lacking.


Some words of reminder are in order. First, ultimately God is the one who will save our children. Even the best of parents have experienced heartbreak with their children. Secondly, our children learn a lot more from our example than from what we teach them verbally.


May we take what we’ve learned here from Proverbs, strive to live it out in our own lives and to faithfully teach it to our children, praying that God may make it fruitful in their lives for His glory.

Thanks to Jordan Standridge, Cripplegate