Tuesday, May 3, 2016

A Must-Read About God's Design for Male and Female

Following is an excerpt from a blog by our friend  Gavin Peacock, co-author of the highly recommended book The Grand Design: Male and Female He Made Them. Gavin writes about the reasons why he and Owen Strachan wrote this book. Their reasons make it a must-read.

On January 5, 2015 I was working late preparing a message on marriage for the annual winter Some of the national papers in the UK had reacted adversely.
conference at the church where I pastor. Just before I went to bed I tweeted out a few thoughts that I was going to include in the message. I thought nothing more of it. However, the next morning I awoke to a torrent of Twitter abuse.

The notifications came in waves and did not stop for 24 hours. I was called “a sexist pig”, “a moron”, “a misogynist” and many other unprintable things. And although this was mainly from a secular public there were many abusive comments from those who professed to be Christian. My Twitter feed was hit over 1 million times that week.

Why the big deal? Well here are the tweets:

“God’s design for marriage in male and female headship and submission is complementary not competitive.”

‘Wives: one of the primary ways you are to respect your husband is by gladly submitting to and encouraging his leadership.”

“Husbands: one of your primary duties in loving your wife is to feed her with the Word of God daily”

You see I hit on the current hot topic: biblical sexuality and particularly the complementarity truth about men and women in marriage. It was straight out of Ephesians 5 and the beauty of headship and submission. I didn’t set out to create a storm. I simply stood (and still stand) on the Word of God as authoritative, inerrant and sufficient for all things especially such fundamental, creation realities like manhood and womanhood. Yet we live in an age where these foundational truths are being ignored and rewritten according to what fits with our fallen desires. And so we even call good evil and evil good as our culture morally crumbles around us.

In every age Satan wants to attack the authority of God’s Word because he hates God’s glory. It was that way from the beginning (Gen. 3). In our day this one verse in particular is where the Word confronts the culture and what Satan wants to undermine.

“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Gen. 1:27)

The sheer beauty of binary sexes created in the image of God with complementary physical and functional differences is thrilling. Yet this verse has been trampled in society and downplayed in the church.

This is why I am so thankful for the humble, bold and visionary leadership of Owen Strachan, the President of CBMW, and who invited me on as Director of international Outreach. Owen is also an extremely gifted teacher and writer and when he asked me to co-author The Grand Design with him, I jumped at the opportunity.

Let me give three reasons why we wrote the book:

ONE: We want to lay out the truth about manhood and womanhood and to proclaim that this is what the Lord says. And that should be enough. The Creator’s Word is always enough. But we also want to proclaim that his Word is good and beautiful. We simply want to show that his design for men and women is indeed grand. It is about his glory in creation (Gen.1: 27), redemption (Eph. 5: 31-32) and consummation (Rev. 19:7-9). It also reveals something about his triune nature (1 Cor. 11:3). So complementarity is not a tertiary issue. We want people to be thrilled with God and his divine design.

TWO: We also want to be a clear, encouraging and helpful voice to the church. This book is theological, practical and pastoral. It is not abstract it is accessible. We need to be clear on these issues in the days ahead and help Christians work it out in their lives as single or married in the home, church or workplace. These are the issues that will test churches and prove their faithfulness (or not). And, in an increasingly gender-neutral society, these are the issues that the church must live out. We have to be able to defend and display the truth about complementarity.

THREE: We want to show that complementarity is a mission moment for the church. It is the point at which the battle for God’s authority rages most in a secular world. The UK Twitter storm was indicative of the heat this topic receives. But to avoid engaging with the culture here is to relinquish a gospel opportunity. We want souls won for Christ and human beings to flourish. We want men and women to find their identity in Jesus and his Word. We want marriages to display the gospel. We want to vividly draw the lines and contours of masculinity and femininity. And gospel redeemed biblical manhood and womanhood in the home and church and workplace sets forth this attractive counter culture. So we desire to affirm the equality of the sexes, delineate the difference and celebrate both. That is the tone of this book.

Make no mistake it will cost a person to be Christian in our day. It always has. Jesus tells to expect it (Matt. 5:11-12). The Apostle Paul echoes the sentiment (Acts 14:22). The history of the suffering church bears witness to this truth. It cost me as a Christian footballer in different ways throughout my 18-year career. It will cost all of us in various ways: reputation, family, friends, career, and money. It might also mean public vilification in big and small ways. In some countries Christians fear a raised fist. In our day it is a raised eyebrow or trial by Twitter.

In all of this, there is one thing I have learned more deeply over the past year. The Word of God is rock. And the Word of God works. Complementarity is both true and good. I took a few hits in the press as a footballer but nothing quite like that of January 2015. However, the Word of God is worth it! It always is. Honor it and he will honor you.

Gavin Peacock is a Canadian pastor and former soccer star, and Director of International Outreach with the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. 

Monday, May 2, 2016

The Modern Man and His Fantasy World

Every age brings its challenges for Christianity. Among them is the fact that living by faith means that we put the ultimate matters of life and existence into the hands of someone that we cannot see. In a world filled with sensory experiences faith in God is a challenge. This is nothing new of course. In the First Century, the Apostle Peter reminded his church that,

“Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:8–9)

It is not that a lack of sight that makes Christianity seem untenable it just makes it different than most experiences today. Instead of having joy based upon an empirical basis we have joy through our communion with the invisible God through the portal of faith.

In recent years I have noticed a trait, particularly among men, where faith is impeded. I am talking about the cultural fixation upon fantasy. Many man today are wrapped up in a world of fantasy and also find it increasingly difficult to live by faith upon the God who is invisible.

In each of the examples below men are giving themselves to something they can see but is not real. However, with Christianity we give ourselves to something that we cannot see but is actually real. (In the following examples, I want to make clear that I believe the first is sinful but the others are not inherently so.)

Over the last 2 dozen years pornography use has exploded. Some may call it an epidemic. Young men are being raised on it and the addiction continues through the college years and into their thirties and forties. As a pastor I don’t often go a week without hearing about somebody’s struggle in this area. Let’s think about what is happening here. Pornography attempts to enjoy the blessings of sex without the relationship of marriage. However, this is not the whole story. There is also the fact the medium for consuming it is not real, it is a bunch of images. Everything about it is a fantasy; the women, the experiences, and whatever the pleasures that come from it. It is all a fantasy. Many men are wrapped up in this sexual fantasy and it is therefore little wonder that they are distracted from a faith what is real yet unseen.

Fantasy Sports
Technological advances have made fantasy sports more accessible. For those who are unfamiliar fantasy sports are a type of online game where participants put together virtual teams of real players in a professional sport. Their teams compete against each other based upon the statistical performance of their respective players on their rosters. Each participant runs their team like an owner or general manager. In these leagues participants will track the stats over the year and award a winner at the end. 

Obviously playing fantasy sports is not a sin and I am not making this point. However, it is part of the overall cultural preoccupation with a fantasy world. And it is this that attends to my larger point that this fixation upon the visible but unreal tends toward making faith in the invisible but real more difficult.

Video Games
As with fantasy sports, video games are not inherently bad. However, they are a distraction from reality. Nearly 50% of Americans play at least 3 hours of games per week. It is interesting that the average age of a game player is a 35 year-old man. I understand that for many games are fun; they are something of a hobby. I also know for many the hobby can become a bit obsessive and dominating. Many people, particularly men, are caught up in playing video games for hours and hours a day. I have counseled far too many men who were spending their best hours of the day conquering worlds while their real families and real souls were being neglected.

Living in a Fantasy World
When you put these three together there is a common theme of living in a fantasy world. Pastors and church leaders attempt to encourage men to serve in the church, study God’s word, evangelize their neighbors, and step up and lead in the church. However, often times, upon pressing upon the heart, we find that men are reluctant and stagnant in their Christianity because they are thriving in a fantasy world.

Is there any wonder why there is such a decline in biblical masculinity in the church?
It is a shame that many men are far too busy conquering fake lands, looking at fake women, and winning fake championships to follow Christ’s path of self-denying, cross-bearing, service.
Pastors are attempting to preach and teach God’s Word to people who are living in this world with their minds and hearts in a fictional place must be diligent. They must labor to present Christ in his surpassing glory. The Bible that condemns also convicts and converts us. We go from belittling God’s glory to broadcasting it. Christ goes from a fictional hero to a living Savior!

Perhaps you are one who is consumed by a fantasy world. If these things are crowding out or impeding your faith it is time to evaluate and make some adjustments. Perhaps there are sinful indulgences (or in the case of pornography, sinful practices) that are preventing you from growing in Christ. As is always the case the first step is prayer, confession, and repentance. Then work toward accountability and service in the local church. I can assure you that seeing the real gospel work in real people’s lives will bring a lasting joy to your soul that is incomparable by any standard. Christ is far too precious to take a back seat to anything. If we believe this then we ought to live like it.

By Erik Raymond is senior pastor of Emmaus Bible Church in Omaha, Ne. He and his wife Christie have six children. You can follow him on Twitter.