So Stand-out Tooth ‘n” Nail act Children 18:3’s final album “Come In” came out today and I’m curious to see the Christian reaction to it. I wonder how many Christians will get back the first track, or will one line trip them up and turn them off to the rest of the album.
The song talks about the lead singers journey in life and through the music industry. The song is metaphor, but the message is simple. God has told us to “Come in” and forget our troubles and remember the lessons we’ve learned in life. The song ends with the following lines.
“Are you empty, are you broken,
Are you lost and all alone
Unaccepted, suicidal, looking for a home
Heavy hearted, forgotten, you’ve got no place to go
Homosexual, unlovable, are you just a little low, Come in”
Children 18:3 “Come In”
As much as I hate to say it I am afraid the reaction to that last line will be similar to Dan Haseltine’s twitter comments last year. Fans will start calling for a boycott of the Christian Punk Rock Band’s shows, albums and merchandise and their final album could go down in history surrounded by a haze of issues.
I hope that is not the case, I would hope that Christians, especially conservative Christians have learned from previous mistakes made towards the LGBT community. Christians who are quick to condemn hateful and destructive actions committed by members of Westboro Baptist. Then join in their hate when Christians try to reach out to others by showing them the Love of God. As we saw with Haseltine last year, or have we learned from our mistake.
Have we learned, as believers, that attacking other believers for trying to reach out to people whose lifestyles we may disagree with, is only causing more division. If we have not then I am in for one heck of backlash for writing this article. Because my reasons for backing Children 18:3 is the same for my reason for supporting Haseltine, I am a Christian, called to show others the Love of God despite any aversion I might have to their lifestyle.
I have friends in the LGBT community and I have served alongside believers who have struggled with those questions and I did not form those relationships by hating them. Like Children 18:3 I said “Come in” come and be a part of my life, let us learn from one another. So many of us live under the assumption that if we disagree with someone we have to hate them, but I have been deeply blessed by some of my LGBT friends.
I find it funny that we accept the prostitute who poured perfume on Jesus feet and wept and dried his feet with her hair, but any mention of the LGBT community and a war is started. Is this not a double standard? If Jesus can accept this woman can we not be accepting of those we do not agree with? I do not want to get into the argument that “Jesus would have done this or done that” No am I saying we should accept sin with open arms. I am simply addressing our reactions to people and people groups that we should accept, in spite of their sins and are own sins.
We can accept the LGBT community without compromising sound doctrine, in fact in the interest of sound doctrine we should accept the LGBT community. Because did Jesus not say to us “Come in even though you are sinners and screwed up and broken?” It would seem, just by a quick examination of the Gospel that he did.
We are responsible for the truth, but we are also responsible for others hearing the truth and if we bar sinners from our churches then would not any of us be allowed to enter?
Christians 1, Jesus 0: An Open Letter to the American Church.
Warning: This article will offend you but for that I do not apologize, for I believe now I understand how Paul felt when writing letters to the Corinthians. My grief, even coming from some of my own comments during the past week, is only surpassed by the greatness of the forgiveness of Christ and the Joy that comes with such forgiveness.
Who are we church? Are we a group of people with individual voices? Or are we to be one voice? A positive change in a world that so desperately needs one? Which one are we to be? Did Christ tell us to make sure we got our opinions in and tell others how very wrong they are? Did the world come to our table only to find us fighting and argumentative. As I prepare to preach on 1 Timothy 2:1-7 I am increasingly aware and find myself constantly reminded how much we have forgotten the glorious mission we have been called to. Who has bewitched us, who has led us astray and turned our eyes off of Christ.
For all of you celebrating the court’s decision concerning Hobby Lobby, that’s all well and good, it was a victory for traditional believers. But when someone lashes out at you and you lash back with some opinion that you perceive to be more correct than the person who attacked you are you any better than the world? I am guilty of it too, I know, I removed a post because of the fighting and argumentation and vain discussion going on. I do not want to be a party to division and I was. No one should desire that the flock be divided and no one should divide.
Are we Cretan’s? Whose own poets called them Liars a fools. Does your opinion, if it is going to cause division, seem that important to you? Yes, maybe the Christians won, but Christ did not. I doubt even the owners of Hobby Lobby wanted the fighting that went on. They stood up for the rights of small businesses, that is true, they made their voice heard. But did they intend for Christians to start calling everyone names? I think not.
The truth is that we have a great and glorious calling, we are to be a blessing, and if a blessing then a change in a world so desperate for one. Do the lessons of our forefathers mean anything to us? Israel and Judah were punished for their disobedience to the God who created them. Tyre was destroyed, as were Sodom and Gomorrah. We have become slaves to the god of opinions, one whose gospel is as divisive as the words themselves from the mouth of the saints.
I do not care if you are Presbyterian, a Baptist, a Methodist, a Catholic or whatever you may be, I do not care. If the church is causing division and chaos then we are not fulfilling our glorious mission. We are far from making disciples, Christ is not winning, oh the Christians may be, and we may think that’s great, but Christ is not. If anything Christ has lost in this past week. Instead of a deep and abiding love we have shared hate, even with other Christians.
You see we are to be LOVE to the world, we are to be PEACE to the world, we are to be HOPE to the world, we are to share FAITH with the world. Why? Because these are the things Christ shared with us, go read Romans, the entire book. Get out of the gospel of public opinion, withdraw your voice, surrender your right to speak. Lest we become the laughing stock of the world.
You want to take back this nation for Christ? Bind yourselves once again to Christ our savior. Return to daily study of the word of God. Renew your commitment to this great calling that has been thrust upon us when we accepted grace and received Jesus as savior. Return to living a peaceful and quiet life, dignified in all ways, praying for all people, kings and rulers and those in authority. Remember the Piety of Hezekiah, the devotion of Josiah, the commitment of Daniel, the Faith of Christ, the life and testimony of Paul, the love shown by believers for centuries and the passion of the early church.
Come back oh Church to the gospel of grace. To the eternal weight of glory given us by our salvation in Jesus Christ, recommit yourself to the gospel that brings life. We need to love again. We need to show grace again. We need to be a light again. Oh tasteless generation, come together and let us rediscover as one what we have lost.
For we are the saints of a Holy God, we are the ones who believed, we are the saints and the chosen ones, the ones God has called free.
It is time for reformation oh Church, it is truly time for awakening.
Why Jars of Clay is Still one of My Favorite Bands.
(Supporting Dan Haseltine’s comments and Christina Love)
(DISCLAIMER: This is an exhortation, we are all covered in grace, please take it with a grain of salt.)
So this week Dan Haseltine of the Christian Super-Star band Jars of Clay took to Twitter to talk about his support of Same Sex Marriage. The comments, as they usually do when someone in the spotlight makes such comments we jump on top of them, call them a heretic and stop buying their books / music / TV shows etc because they have “Abandoned their Christian heritage.” Haseltine faced more abuse in three days then some people do in their entire lifetime, and a lot of it was from the church.
Before I go on though, I want to consider who this man is. In all my years of listening to Jars of Clay, owning 12 of their albums and listing “Who We Are Instead” as one of the top 5 albums of all time I have found the band to be a thinking band. They tend to be up front and honest about life and their honesty is well-thought out. Just listen to the songs “Show you Love” or “Collide” or “Unforgetful You.” Can you tell me those songs did not have a lot of thought put into them. Consider “Collide” (If I left the Zoo), a song about wrestling with a truer, and more refined version of love that comes from the father. The band has always had something to say, in the words of one of my mentors (whose son was a founding member of Jars) “They are all thinkers.” This is evidenced in the band’s music, the depth of their lyrics at times astounds me, makes me wish I wrote that deep all the time.
Yet on a flight home from Australia he started to ask questions, and instead of helping him answer them, we attacked him, called him a heretic, told him that he did not believe in the bible. Some of the things tweeted at the man were abusive. Some of the articles people wrote were atrocious. Just like the World Vision decision I found myself let down by the church, instead of showing grace to a brother, we released articles asking people to “Boycott Jars concerts.”
Honestly this gets old, am I perfect, I do not believe so. Have I been a part of controversies in the past? Yes! Did I leave a mainline denomination over the issue of Same Sex marriage & Ordination? Yes. I will never claim to be perfect, if I do someone please tweet a reminder at me. This is not the point though, this is far from the point.
The point is this: If the church is to engage a secular culture, to encourage social righteousness and even social justice. Then we must first stop engaging in these vain discussions of whether Haseltine was right or wrong and start answering the hard questions that he is asking. Mainly: “By not supporting same-sex marriage am I participating in a form of oppression?”
I believe as a church today we have developed a dangerous and unhelpful infectiveness that has led to a heavy dose of what I call “Corinthian Syndrome.” We like to talk about big issues, or blow small issues out of proportion to make us feel good about the things that we do not want to talk about but know are sins. A while back I was discussing the issue of Homosexuality with one of my brothers in Christ, a man who to this day amazes me with his insights. He said: “All sins are an affront to God, not one is greater than the other, we just make one worse than another.” We make one sin greater than the other, your gluttony is not as bad as your neighbors covetedness, and so on and so forth. Haseltine just so happened to comment on the issue that the church likes to make the focal point of every sermon on sin. Ignoring the root sin (Lust) and going straight for the throat of the gay community instead of acknowledging that Lust is a sin we all have to struggle with.
Is this not contrary to what Christ commanded? Does the commandment of “Love your neighbor” not extend to the gay man who lives down the street? Apparently it does not for some Christians, at one point in my life it did not for me either. Yet as I get older in my faith I have come to realize the damage we are doing to our own witness by attacking Haseltine, not even by not showing the love of Christ to the gay community, but by attacking Haseltine, world Vision, the owner of Chick Fil-A (need I go on). Realize that person is your brother in Christ, Haseltine is your brother in Christ, The director of World Vision is your brother in Christ, I am your brother in Christ. Remember Jesus words in Matthew 5:
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.”
(Matthew 5:21-22 ESV)
By treating Haseltine and others in a hateful and bitter manner for asking these questions has made us a condemnation all unto ourselves. To the world it looks as though we are fighting another civil war, forgetting that there is a world that needs Christian Love now more than ever. Separated by opinions formed with an understanding of scripture that is neither nourished by grace or dependent on the spirit of God, we fight and eat and drink while some are left out in the spiritual cold. We have adopted the Corinthians way of life, allowing the bitterness rivaling Fred Phelps to seep in towards one another and towards the world.
We need to learn to be the love of Christ again.
And I am not talking about a flowerly, watered down love either. I am talking about a love that is not afraid to ask the tough questions, a love that operates with the intent to bring others into the kingdom. A love that can transform the church, transform the communities, transform the world. I am talking about an accountable love, a tough love. I am talking of Christian Love.
We must know that Christ wants us to be better than this. Regardless of how you feel about gay-marriage attacking another believer for asking questions about it is far from Christian Love. So I support Dan Haseltine because he is asking the questions and wanting to seek answers. He still holds to scriptures, but as far as the world goes he has a point, should Christians not hear the cries of all people, regardless of feelings towards a specific splinter group and show them the love of Christ?
I personally believe if we are to win anyone into the kingdom we must do it through the passionate, truth bearing, life giving love that we were shown on the cross when Jesus died to save us.
FOR THE RECORD: This article is not intended to be a commentary on gay rights, for biblical & reasons of consciousness I do not and will not support gay rights in the church. However, that should never stop me from loving those people who God commands us to love, or showing the gay community Christ’s love through my actions. As Christians we are to be above reproach, something we fall short of oh so often, something I fall short of, we are called to glorify God in all that we do, should that not mean how we treat our brothers and sisters in Christ as well as those who do not believe?
“If you are not going to a foreign country, you are not doing missions.”
“But what if I’m not called to go to a foreign country?”
“Mr. Faulkner, the bible says “go” does it not?”
This is how I imagine a conversation would go between some of my peers and I had I explained the view I hold of missions. Especially at a college that highly encourages global missions and even, in some cases, elevates those who go. In this atmosphere it would be hard to explain a view of missions that does not require a person to go to Africa or South America. Now, I fully support those who go to foreign countries, I love the fact that people are so passionate about their faith that they would raise thousands of dollars and go to a foreign country. I think it is really good for college students, but we have to acknowledge that not all of us are going to go, not all of us are called to go, at least by the definition of go that means: “Go to this foreign country and be a missionary, it will change your life.”
I mean, look at me, the only country I have ever been to outside the US is Canada, and that was as a tourist. I was not called to go there; I went there to eat a Cheeseburger with my dad’s side of the family and to see Niagara Falls. How selfish of me I know, where there are unbelievers in Canada.
One of the guys I mentor was recently asked: “How are you not called to go?” Easy, he is not, at least not to a foreign country. This particular young man is being trained to teach a Sunday School Class, has the potential to be an incredible mentor and teacher himself, and is starting to realize that potential. He is blooming where he is planted, encouraging others to be godly men and women, seeking to be a godly man himself. His vibrant faith draws others in, his personality encourages others, yet he knows at this point in his life that he is not called to go into all the world.
Getting Hung up on the World
Here’s what I think the problem is: So often we get caught up in the “Go therefore into all the world” bit of Jesus, Great Commission in Mark 16:18 or the “Go” at the beginning of Matthew 28:19 and leave off the second part of both verses. “Making Disciples of all men” says Mark, “Go and Make disciples of all the nations” Says Matthew. Somewhere in translation we lost the fact that when Jesus said “All the World” he was not just simply referring to the places we were not, but the places we are as well. When He said “Making Disciples” He meant “Make disciples everywhere you are.”
If we are caught up on the “world” aspect of the great commission then “Go” must mean go into the world. No need to take care of your home front, no need to minister to your neighbor, unless they are your neighbor in a foreign country.
On one of our city walks in Denver Jeff showed us a house that was owned by two “Mega” evangelists. The home was in disrepair, the yard looked like a junk yard, the home was in the middle of a fairly nice neighborhood, but looked terrible. The family had been asked by their neighbors to clean up the yard but they refused, why should they? they were called to go out into the world. We were asked to consider how this made Christians look? our answer was “pretty bad.”
All too often those who are called to world missions neglect the home front. Then look down on those who are called to stay on the home front, the ones who are called to train those who are going out into the field. I once heard someone say: “He’s not going on a missions trip, he just is not close enough to God.” This is a devastating statement to hear, as a man who has devoted his life to building up and discipling others, this attitude saddens me.
“Going” without “Going”
My philosophy of missions is this; we are not all called to go abroad, but we are all called to do something. What do I mean? Right now I am not called to go overseas, I know this, but I am called to disciple, to witness, to share my faith and my story with those around me. I am called to be a witness, a teacher, an exhorter, a man of God. Does this make what I do any less important compared to what the person who goes out into the world does? No, it just means my calling is different from their calling. If everyone was out in the missions field who would stay home and bring up the next generation of missionaries? Would we leave our country to those we trained up? We could, I have been very blessed by foreign missionaries coming here. Yet I firmly believe that we have a responsibility to every single person we encounter, including our neighbors when we are home, to help them grow and know the Lord more.
Angus Buchan, the great African preacher, is considered a missionary, yet his ministry barely reached out of South Africa. He took care of the people around him, taught them the gospel, cared for their needs, both spiritually and physically when he could.
Jesus was both, Paul did the same.
If you look at the life of Jesus, Mark 1 being an excellent example of this, we find Jesus did both. Jesus preached and taught, but he also had disciples. He traveled all the way to Philippi to minister and disciple. Paul did the same thing, ministered, established a church and then left people there he had been training to minister and continue the growth of the church. Timothy is probably the best known, but there is also John Mark, Titus, Epaphraditus and many others.
Jesus left the disciples with the great commission, a call to make disciples wherever we go, wherever we are called to go.
Now I am not trying to put down those who are going out into the world. I am trying to point out that there is a need for those who go and a need for those who stay. Those who stay are where they are called, just as you are going where you are called. I am called to work for Sterling College, to educate, train, make disciples and take care of the grounds. To be a light and a witness to those students who do not know Christ. That is my calling right now, so that is what I will do. We all have an important task in the body, but not all of us are the hands, some of us have other functions that are vital to the body being healthy.
So let us go where we are called, even if “go” only means crossing the street.
I love interacting with people. In one of the many forums that my last GHFT Entry (Good Men Exist…Godly Men Exist) I was asked what a Godly Woman should do if she sees a “Godly Man” trying to gratify his sinful desires. It is an excellent question, so let me lay out a situation.
An attractive young woman is starting her first week at a small Christian College in Central Kansas. She is from another state and knows very little about this particular Christian School. When she was on campus for her visitation she was told there were a lot of Godly men on campus, men who loved the Lord and who respected women. So at the end of her first week she is in a carpool group to visit one of the local churches, specifically a large Baptist church in the next town over. When the service starts she notices two things, 1. The church is alive & 2. The drummer for the praise band is really good looking. He goes to the same college and is a few years ahead of her, she had seen him on the first day and heard him talk about going to church. Maybe this was one of those godly men she had heard about.
After the service she finds herself in a group of people who are standing around listening to this young man tell stories. He is a junior, studying ministry and he has a great sense of humor. During the conversation the young woman also catches his eye. They start to talk and soon start to hang out, he seems like a great guy, he opens doors for her, tells her she is beautiful, all of her girlfriends tell her that he is a great guy, nice and sweet. He is even involved in several ministries on campus and at the church. She likes him, but she is not ready for a relationship, but that seems to be where he is directing things. For example he has started hugging her a little bit longer than normal, he tries to always sit next to her and though he’s nice to have around and she would like a relationship she is trying to be wise and avoid one in her freshmen year.
Then comes “that talk” or what we called the “Define the Relationship” conversation. He confesses he likes her and thinks they should have a relationship. She turns him down and suddenly their friendship seems to end. As she seeks the wisdom of her older friends she finds out some disturbing things. 1. This guy has been addicted to porn and in the previous year had many girlfriends. 2. That he had been talking to many other girls at the same time & 3. That he was also known for his various attempts to “hook up” with girls on campus during his first 2 years. Could he have had a genuine interest in her or her body? “Yes, it could have been in her, but if he left when she turned him down that should be a sign that he is not as mature as he seems. Combined this with what the young lady discovers from talking to older woman who know his reputation you can say at the least his relationship with God was far from where it should have been or should to enter into a relationship. Here are three ways to recognize the intentions of a man if they have not been spoken.
Friends before Anything Else.
I have always been known for saying “We need to be friends before I can consider courting her.” When my friend David recommended a young lady to me in college I told him I needed to get to know her. I did and we became good friends, we talked about courtship, but ultimately it was not what God wanted for us. In our scenario above, they were friends, but in his mind they were something else already.
This is why I tell the guys I mentor to be very conscious and aware of your intentions and to set boundaries from the get go. I did not do this with my first close female friend in college. We ended up holding hands most of the time, even though we were not dating. The result was a very unhealthy friendship, focused on my own self-gratification over enjoying the friendship. In another friendship I became too forward thinking, wondering where this will go, once again I forgot the enjoy the friendship. It made it very difficult for me when everything fell apart. It was not until recently that I was able to enjoy the friendship and not rush the talking phase when both parties are interested. I was much happier and it was a little easier to handle when everything started pointing to an end to talking and just being friends.
Ladies, a man of God is in a relationship with God first and foremost. In the first two examples from my life I glorified the possible relationship with the woman over God resulting in the loss of one friend and getting hurt by another. In the last example I can say with a clean conscious that I led with the intent to glorify God, I got hurt, but handled it in a way that was gracious and loving towards her. I put what I wanted ahead of what God wanted the first two times and God’s glory ahead of what I wanted the last time. A man who is not sincere in his godliness will abandon you when everything gets rough or when you say “No.” A man of God will be your friend first and seek to always build your friendship, even that means you are forever just friends. He will stick by your friendship even after the possibility of a relationship Is thrown out.
Do not be afraid to ask the woman whom he is friends with questions about their friendship with him. Do not be taken in by his charm or wit without asking questions of others. If he has abandoned several woman after they told him no there is a good chance he will abandon you as well if you do not give in to the demand for a relationship. Seek wisdom, with hold judgment until all the facts are in, do this from the beginning, before you get hurt.
His Life Will Speak the Truth About Him.
Here is what Paul tells Titus to look for in men who will be Deacons in the church:
if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.(Titus 1:6-9 ESV)
I believe this what a woman should look for when she is looking for a man. Only instead of being a “Husband of one wife” he should be seeking to be a husband of one wife. This will require a lot of evaluation on behalf of the woman. Ladies, do not be afraid to ask the tough questions of the men you are interested in. Does he drink? If he drinks does he drink in excess or is does he show self-restraint and discipline. Does he love what is good? Is helping you grow in your faith? And does he make your spiritual grow a priority even in friendship? Is the Word of God & His relationship with God central in His life and does he defend them?
Again I say, ask questions of those around him. A man who is of “Good Repute” or “Above Reproach” will be that way with everyone who knows him well. If you discover what the girl in the example did there is a chance he was not genuine. But if terms like “Mature,” ”wise,” “Caring,” “Kind” and “Self-controlled” keep coming up he is probably a genuine man of God. Ask his male friends about him, ask his female friends about him. A man of God, a man of Godly character will be known as that to those closest to him. Chances are he has at some point or is currently helping them grow in their faith. His life will be a testament to what he values, not a monument to what could have been. He will place God above else and help to bring you closer to Him, even after you say “no.”
His Life Will Glorify God Outwardly & Inwardly.
The church drummer in our scenario may have looked great on the outside, but what is his thought life like? “It’s like his mind is always somewhere else” a friend of mine confessed to me. “Like he is always imagining what it would be like if we had sex or looking at other women like he wants to have sex with them.” In a church that either teaches that physical contact with the opposite is bad or does nothing to teach practical ways to remain sexually pure this is sadly common. This particular man talked such a good talk, yet his relationship ended with him cheating on her because she would not give him what he wanted.
Inwardly this man was not honoring God with his thought life which led to the outward action of cheating sexually on his girlfriend. Yes, he talked abstinence but did not practice it. Job says in 31:1 “I made a covenant with my eyes, to never look lustfully upon a woman.” Sexual purity is a covenant between you, God, your body and your brothers and sisters in Christ. Our relationship with God is as much Internal as it is External (See Matthew 15:1-20). A man who cannot control his passions, be self-controlled internally, but knows all the answers and talks a good talk is just as dangerous as a man who has no relationship with God at all. He will lead you astray, where as a man of God will do his best to lead you in the way that you should go.
How? By seeking with every action and with every thought to glorify the God of the universe whom he has an invested relationship, the God who made that man to glorify Him (1 Corinthians 10:21-31). Paul tells us in Philippians 4:8-9 to dwell on what is good and right and holy and lovely and commendable and praiseworthy. I like the word dwell because when we dwell on something it stays in our minds. If we dwell on the things of God we are going to internally glorify God instead of live in what we believe to be “hidden sin.” If a man dwells on what is good, on glorifying God, he will, ladies, help you do the same.
This morning in Sunday School we were discussing what Christ did on the cross. I spend a lot of time dwelling on this, especially during Lent and no matter how long I dwell on it my response is always to be extremely joyful. Someone noticed this reaction of Joy to Christ’s saving work and said “Jon, that’s the happiest I’ve ever seen you.”
If he is glorifying God internally and externally that will manifest itself as Love, as Joy, as peace, as patience, as self-control, as loving kindness, as thankfulness, he will show the fruits of the spirit (Galatians 5) and show those both externally and internally as he glorifies God with his thought life as well as his physical action towards you and others.
Again, ask questions ladies, both of him and other others who know him.
It is true that actions speak louder than words. If he leaves your friendship after you say “no” to a courtship with him you can gain a perspective into his thought life. But my hope for you in writing this is that you are able to avoid the kind of heart break that leads you to put up the walls that make you wary of truly Godly men. To find healing in Christ first as none of this is possible without you having a strong relationship with Christ and without you experiencing and knowing the word of God, hiding it deep within your own precious heart.
Let God guard your heart ladies, you are precious to Him and to your brothers in Christ who are genuinely seeking to glorify God through the way they treat you both in your friendship and in their minds. That you may know that you have value and know the love of God.
Jonathan Faulkner is 22 Years old and lives in Kansas, he is a musician and a graduate of Sterling College where he still mentors students.
I do not know why but as I was reading the first book in the popular book series Divergent this particular scene between the main character Tris and her love interest Four stood out to me. Maybe it was the tenderness, maybe it was the hopeless romantic in me or maybe it is because I have had this very conversation, or at least a variation of it, with at least three of my close female friends in the last six years. Two of those girls I was considering courting at the time. Yet as I thought through this today I had to ask myself: “Should I really be surprised?”
Should you be surprised?
At first, you may be able to make an argument for some form of shock but when you really start to boil it down you find the answer to be “No, we should not be surprised.” Why? Because culture has redefined manhood to a point that has stripped the value away from our sisters in Christ and turned them into objects for sex or property to be had or a trophy to be won. Yet if we look deeper into history we find that this has been going on for a very long time.
Egyptian women for example had one purpose, to produce strong offspring to, particularly males, who could carry on the family line. The Canaanites were the same, both worshiped gods of sex and fertility, both held women up to be objects meant for baby making. In Rome it was customary to beat ones wife if she did not give you what you wanted. Even in Jewish Culture woman’s only value was in child rearing and again sons were highly valued, a barren woman was shunned.
But in Jewish culture we also have the Law, and the law provides for a woman protection. Passages like: Leviticus 21:22 in the Old Testament and Ephesians 4 & Colossians 3:19 in the New Testament. Colossians 3:19 says specifically “Husbands love your wives and do not be embittered against them.” This is specifically a pushback against the Roman treatment of women. Jesus highly values women (John 4,8 anything having to do with Mary & Martha). Gabriel calls Mary, the mother of Jesus “Highly Favored” (Luk. 1:34-37).
So if women are so highly valued and to be protected by men then why do we have conversations like Tris & Four’s? There are a number of reasons. 1. A secular male driven culture is no different from Rome. 2. Masculinity has been lowered to mean how strong you are, how many fights you win and how many women you have slept with. 3. The glorification of Rape Culture by the media and subsequent blaming of the victim. 4. A lack of biblical understanding amongst Christians who are called to be the leaders on the fronts of biblically centered manhood & Godliness.
Considering these factors it is no surprise to me when I hear a young woman say “There are no good men in the world.” This may be true, but ladies do you need a good man? Or do you need a Godly man?
C.S Lewis says in Mere Christianity: “God is not in the business of making nice men nicer, but instead is in the business of making old men new.” Leonard from TV’s The Big Bang Theory is a good guy, a secular guy, he still wants to sleep with Penny, but he is respectful of he throughout the show. A man who’s been transformed by God will be kind, gentle, loving, faithful, peaceful, patient and self-controlled (See Galatians 5). One could also say he will exemplify the fruits of the spirit.
But here is where the problem develops. God transforms good guys into Godly men, or even transforms bad guys in Godly Men. A young woman comes along and he is genuinely and sincerely interested in her, she loves the Lord, she is following after Him, desiring His will but this young woman has also been broken by many a boy claiming to be a man and that is an area of her life that has never been healed. So her first reaction is to make him a brother or a best friend type. Which is good because all relationships should start in friendship, but as time goes on she starts to develop feelings of her own for him, but these she pushes down, rejects them. Why? Because past experience has taught her that she does not deserve to treated with respect, honor and dignity by a man. That when a man compliments her it means he wants to sleep with her.
My friend David always compliments his fiancés beauty because he wants her to know that God made her beautiful. He encourages her and upholds her, honors her. Now I do not know if this scared her fiancé, but I do know it scared my spiritual sister *Lucy when her now fiancé complimented her. She could not believe they were true because in the past compliments had been used as a means to manipulate her into doing something she did not want to do.
I read an article this week entitled “What a Girl Needs: 8 Musts before Marriage.” It was an excellent article, I recommend you read it by clicking the link above. It was very straight-forward in saying that a woman needs a man who is Godly, who works hard & who will protect her. These are things though, that a Godly man should already be seeking to do. These are things that come naturally, as an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. These are things that we should be doing to glorify God.
But how do we address the fear? If you are a young woman I would remind you that God still creates genuine men, He is still in control and if you are trusting God with your heart He will keep it til someone comes along who will guard it. Men, be aware that she may be afraid of your kindness, do not simply reassure her that it is real, show her that you are genuine in your approach and treatment. And do not rush your friendship or potential courtship, she will need you to be dependably slow in allowing her to adjust.
When Leonard asks Penny out in The Big Bang Theory they both ask Sheldon for advice. Sheldon’s response is the example of Schrodinger’s Cat. Which does not make sense until Sheldon makes the point that you never know until you open the box. Friendships with the opposite gender are gifts, they need to be cared for and built up and encouraged, but ladies do not be afraid, there are godly men, but if you never let him sweep you off your feet, or let go of your fear and open the box of friendship and courtship, how will you truly know what it is like to be loved and cared for by a Godly man. Your value comes from God, he should know that and if he does not, well keep searching because there is someone out there who does.
Avoiding Schizophrenia Or Finding the Middle Ground
Authors Note: This article covers two extremes, understand biased will be shown.
They are two opposite extremes. One makes people think we are crazy and the other makes people we think we are stiff and judgmental. Yes, I’m talking about what New-agers have dubbed Emotionalism and Intellectualism. Two very different viewpoints, and yes extremes. Emotionalism is just that, an Ideology based entirely on experience through emotions, whether that be of God or of some other thing that may hold our attention. While Intellectualism is based in the intellect, the mind can solve the problems, we must have head knowledge over heart. The idea here is that we gain knowledge about God or our relationship with God is based entirely on biblical knowledge.
Traditionally the Emotional ones look down on the intellectuals for never “having loosening up and being boards.” At the same time the Intellectuals look down on the emotional ones for being “immature” or “Overly charismatic.” Interestingly enough not much work has been done to try to reconcile the two viewpoints, but that is not surprising when you consider how often one viewpoint blasts another in the church today. Is it so surprising we have no sort of reconciliation in the matter. We either Blast Rob Bell for his existential remarks of never understanding God or we go after John MacCarther for his overly intense application of his vast knowledge.
Wherever we fall on this issue most of us have visited one extreme or the other throughout our spiritual walk. Emotionalist rave against scripture and theology, while creating a dangerous personal theology that rejects discipline and sound doctrine. Relying on a “God fix” or “Spiritual High” to allow them to experience God on some “level” that is apparently higher than everyone else. While Intellectuals yell at the flock to “Settle down.” Creating legalism where there was none before, acting as though knowledge of scripture will save them There has been no attempt to reach a middle ground, we go right or we go left and as we attempt to stand divided we crumble under out own
So here we are once again, doing it wrong and ignoring the rifts until they are too unstable and the church resembles an opinionated social club rather than a family. But not anymore, no more, we need a middle ground. But we’ve been given one, one that both emotionalist and intellectuals misinterpret, the Word of God.
You see, we are commanded by Jesus to know and teach in full, the commandments of God (see Matt. 5:13-20). To also be salt and light, a preserver of the world and flavor adders, making the Life that God offers us so much more appealing than a high we chase or a bit of knowledge to grasp. John writes to the saints in his letters “So that our Joy may be complete.” As if to say that knowledge of who God is, when transferred to the heart, becomes an emotion, Joy. Do you see where I’m going? If we claim to know God we “Keep the commandments of God,” and “Anyone who claims to know God and does not keep these commandments is a liar” (2 John 2:3-4).
The point is that scripture presents itself as a focal point for the believers life. If you and I were to study scripture and seek to follow God through scripture then we will find ourselves united. Paul writes to Timothy: “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, as one who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15). To keep the commands of God we must first know the commands, for them to transfer to our hearts there first must be a transformation of the mind. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good, acceptable and perfect” (Rom 12:2, Italics mine).
Am I rejecting emotions? By no means, my first goal is to encourage spiritual growth so that we “are no longer infants, tossed about by every wave of doctrine” (Eph 4:14). It is essential for the believer to have head knowledge but from that head knowledge, when it becomes hidden in our hearts we find that our emotions become truly defined in the way that they were meant to be.
My father recently told me “the presence of God and the word of God is so deeply engrained in us that sometimes we forget it is there. We do not always realize how much God’s presence and the Word of God impacts our day to day lives.” But what is the impact? I find I have Joy, a deep unfailing Joy, Joy is an emotion, but this is not some spiritual high this is ever present. I have love, I have a love for people that is so deep and overflowing that most days I cannot keep it in. I have sadness when one of my brothers or sisters is mourning or suffering. Instead of a fleeting feeling I have found eternal assurance both in who I am as a Christian and who God has revealed Himself to be through His Word and through prayer. So I do not reject emotions, they are a part of me, just as my spiritual gifts of teaching and exhortation are a part of me. Knowledge, wisdoms, emotions all stemming from a deep abiding faith in God, letting His Word guide and renew my heart and mind.
But here’s the kicker, this is not easy, but it also is not hard. Yes, it requires us to study, to put aside a simple feeling and to know. But we do not do this alone. We have the Holy Spirit which we received at Salvation, to guide us to show us scripture. We have the older saints who are wiser and more seasoned than us to Disicple us and most importantly we have the grace of God Himself, and the Word that He has given us so that we might be sanctified and given a place in a vast and varied body of people who love God and love each other, and who do their best to be a witness to everyone.
So that one day we may hear the encouragement and heed the advice of Paul, who tells the Thessalonians: “Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one” (1 Thess. 4:11-12). We need a balance, we need reconciliation, we need to find the middle.
It was a tense night for the Jackson County School board in Jackson Country Ohio. They were meeting to discuss one issue that had been in the news. A picture of Jesus that has hung in the middle school for 66 years had come under attack by the activist group Freedom from Religion. They picture was reported to them anonymously and so they took up the fight to have the “offensive” picture that was a gift of the graduating class of 1947 removed. The superintendent of the school had no intent of removing the picture, and neither did the school board who voted unanimously to side with the superintendent. What’s more amazing is the student’s reaction. Walking through the school one was created by hundreds of pictures of Jesus hanging on lockers, the students united and most likely influenced their parents vote.
On a national level the news reported that the courts threw out Hobby Lobby’s case appealing a government order that will fine them 1.3 million dollars a day until they accept the birth control provision of the Obamacare bill passed last year. The Christian owners of the store refusal to take on the provision stems from their belief that this particular provision is morally wrong the company would rather support Christian Morality and abstinence than provide birth control. They have a constructional right to not accept this on the grounds of The 1st Amendment after all the owners reasons for rejecting the provision are religious, not political. Colorado Christian University was recently compelled by the courts to accept this provision the government would have pulled what limited funding they provided to the privately held, Christian School.
Dear friends, in pointing these things out I hope you understand what I’m trying to show you. With groups trying to remove century old Nativities from community gardens, to attacks on the CEO’s of large, Christ Centered organizations like Chick Fil-A for his view on marriage and now to Hobby Lobby and CCU our freedoms are slowly being stripped away from us. In the name of “Tolerance” teachers are taking students to Mosque’s and encouraging them to pray, suggest taking them to a church and the school would be sued. We are losing our freedoms, they preach tolerance, but yet we are not tolerated.
Yet, from the pulpit I hear pastors preach from Roman’s 13, telling us to submit to the government. And while it is true we should follow the leadership of a good and moral government what we have is a government so intent on making sure everything and everyone is regulated that the basic freedom to disagree with the government on religious grounds, with our private companies, is not just impeded but trampled on. This is the same government that has nearly ruined the Catholic church, who still refuses to hand out contraceptives on moral ground and has had to close many of its outreach programs to the poor and homeless because of what can only be described as attacks by the Federal Government.
So here’s my question; where are all the Hobby Lobby Supporters? When the CEO of Chick-Fil-A came under fire Christians lined up out the door. Now the government is unjustly fining one of the nations most successful craft stores and we are nowhere to be found. Hiding in the woodwork, afraid of what big-brother would do to us if we stand up to him. We’ve backed down from a fight, or should I say we’ve lost it, our fight that is. Does anyone remember when Christians would fight back, not with weapons but with words. We have an example in Scripture, after Paul and John were arrested and taken before the Sanhedrin in Acts 4. The Christians gathered together and prayed for boldness from the Holy Spirit and the Disciples went out and preached and the Church grew and Christians became an unstoppable force that spread throughout the world (Acts 4:1-21, 2:42-47). They were empowered by the Holy Spirit and they did something about what was happening by that power, that’s what we need, that’s what we should be praying for.
So I say, UNITE. Let this be your battle cry, we cannot let the government or activist groups take away our freedoms in the name of religious freedom or religious tolerance. If a Muslin wants to run a business let him, if a Jew wants to put up a star of David in a community Garden let him. But as Christians I don’t see how we can sit back and let ourselves be door mats. And before you think this doesn’t affect everyone, remember that what happens to one part of the body of Christ affects the whole Body (1 Cor. 12:26). As we did during the Chick Fil-A incident we need to unite again, but this time instead of standing up to Liberal Media we are standing up for our freedoms, standing up to what is becoming tyrannical, standing up for Christian Morals. Folks, it’s time to take the Church back, it’s time to Unite!
The Opinions expressed are solely those of the Author and do not reflect the views of 10:31 Life Ministries staff and writers.