If you aren’t familiar with the #MeToo head over to twitter and read some of the tweets posted by famous women, known women and women no one really knows. Their stories are gut-wrenching. I read through a few feeds of evangelical women I deeply respect and tears came to my eyes because of the pervasiveness of abuse and the destructive power of sin in our world. As a father of two beautiful girls, I don’t want this for them. As a father, it is my responsibility to protect them love them and model to them how men should treat them. As repulsive as the whole Wienstine thing is I pray that good will come from it, that women will speak up and the culture of abuse will be dealt a severe blow.
Our country has spent the last 60 years preaching and worshiping the god of sexual fulfillment at all costs and we are starting to see the devastating legacy of our unrestrained sexual ethic. We see it in the dissolution of the family, in the celebration of every kind of personal pleasure without a thought as to the effect our actions will have on the people we love most and even broader society. This is not a new problem but is rather an indication as to how far our country has slipped from the Christian values that used to guide and define us. In Roman times when Christianity was in its infancy one of the unique things about Christians was their sexual ethics and their high view of women and children. Tim Challies describes Roman culture in such a way that it sounds like the picture that is being painted of the celebrity Hollywood subculture specifically and of American culture increasing.
Rome was a culture of extreme promiscuity and inequality. Those who had power—male citizens—were able to express their sexuality by taking who and what they wanted. Their culture’s brand of sexual morality was exemplified in the Caesars who, one after the other, “were living icons of immorality and cruelty,” using sex as a means of domination and self-gratification.
Yet this system, evil as it looks to our eyes, was accepted and even celebrated by Rome. It was foundational to Roman culture. To be a good Roman citizen a man needed to participate in it, or at least not protest against it. To be loyal to Rome, one had to be loyal to the morality of Rome. To the Romans, the biblical view “would have been seen as disruptive to the social fabric and demeaning of the Roman ideal of masculinity.” What we consider odious and exploitive, they considered necessary and good.
So seeing that our culture is slipping further and further into the sex-crazed pagan practices Christianity opposed. How do we raise our kids and protect our daughters from a sick culture that objectifies women?
One of the things that many adults struggle with and most kids I’ve encountered, struggle with is the ability to hear God’s voice. Hearing God’s voice is not as easy as some simplistically explain and it’s not impossible as many believe.
Hearing God’s voice is made possible by a few basic practices;
- Listening to God starts with learning to listen to those you can see.
- Knowing God’s voice comes from knowing his word.
- Hearing God’s voice requires discernment.
Learning to listen is not a skill that is taught anywhere. It is a gift a few are born with, a skill most can learn, and is indispensable in our ability to hear God and love our fellow believers. The world we live in is crowded, loud, and chaotic. We are surrounded by digital noise that demands little focus from us. To truly listen to others is a difficult thing to do but is a practice we must grow in. To grow in our ability to listen we must understand the importance of it and must actively practice the discipline of it.
Why Listening matters so much.
- It is our primary duty as a Christian, loving our brother by listening to him. We have this insatiable urge to say the right thing when often times what people need most is someone who will truly listen to them.
“The first service one owes to others in the community involves listening to them. Just as our love for God begins with listening to God’s Word, the beginning of love for other Christians is learning to listen to them. God’s love for us is shown by the fact that God not only gives us God’s Word but also lends us God’s ear.” – Bonhoeffer
- We must train ourselves to listen to our fellow believers or we will only know how to speak at people rather than listen to or converse with others. If we train ourselves to ignore our fellow man which we can see how will we ever listen to a God we can’t see.
“Many people seek a sympathetic ear and do not find it among Christians because these Christians are talking even when they should be listening. But Christians who can no longer listen to one another will soon no longer be listening to God either; they will always be talking even in the presence of God.” – Bonhoeffer
Listening is something I think most people struggle with. It is something I have to consciously work on. In pastoral ministry, listening is something that you must learn. As a parent, if your kids want to hear God’s voice they need to learn how to listen to yours.
How do we grow in our ability to listen and teach our kids how to listen to others well.
- Listen with your face – don’t “Multitask” and believe you are doing your duty. You are not. In fact, you are not listening and you are also not focusing. Multitasking is a myth.
- Listen long and patiently – “Those who think their time is too precious to spend listening will never really have time for God and others, but only for themselves and for their own words and plans.” Bonhoeffer
- Fully listen, don’t think about a response while listening.
- Wait till the other person has finished before you begin to speak.
- Listening understands that our duty to our fellow believers is to hear their confession.
Few people have spoken out on our need to listen to others as clearly as Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his powerful book on the Christian fellowship. He offers this dire warning to those who won’t listen “The death of the spiritual life starts here, and in the end, there is nothing left but empty spiritual chatter and clerical condescension which chokes on pious words. Those who cannot listen long and patiently will always be talking past others, and finally no longer will even notice it.”
May we be as James says in his epistle “Quick to listen and slow to speak.”
It seems that kids younger and younger are getting cell phones these days. There are many good reasons to get your kids a cell phone and there are equally as many reasons to delay as long as possible. The question I hear from parents is how do I keep my kids safe online and yet let them enjoy the freedom of a cell phone. The balance of safety and security is not easy to maintain.
I used to be an advocate of waiting until kids are much older to get a cell phone. I have changed my mind, with the pervasiveness of technology and the easy access of porn you have to teach your kids at a young age how to use technology without being ruled by it. If you just hand your kids a cell phone without teaching them how to use it or placing safeguards around it you are crazy. I love you but you are crazy. Here are a few things we have done and are putting into practice with our oldest as he joins the millions of kids who are connected around the world. These are a work in progress.
The Nashville Statement is a creed that was developed by the people who lead the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. The Nashville Statement was really just a more modern restatement of the historic orthodox position on the authority of the Bible and of the Biblical view of sexual ethics.
There was a lot of disagreement and anger from the Progressive Evangelicals over this statement. In a recent blog post as to why she signed the Nashville Statment Rosaria Butterfield goes after the progressive wing of modern evangelicalism. Progressives who ultimately value their experience above the explicit truth within the word of God. They twist the Scriptures out of their conception of what it means to be loving but with out regard to what the Bible defines as Love.
There was also some dissent from people I find really biblically solid. This group is those who take issue with a couple of the more nuanced points about the statement, for instance, calling only single people to live a life of chastity rather than celibacy. Chastity should be practiced by all not just singles. For married people, chastity is fidelity for singles it’s celibacy. They don’t like some of the wording of the Nashville Statement. To me that isn’t enough to be against it, in the world we live in. The real argument is that the progressives see the Bible as historic and flawed those who drafted and signed statement this see the Bible as authoritative, flawless and sufficient. For me, if lines are going to be drawn I will always stand on the side of Scripture even when Scripture offends me. Because I believe deeply that when Scripture offends me the problem is always me and never the Bible. That is why I support the Nashville Statement. If you, as a Christian, are offended by the sexual ethics of the Bible the problem is always you and not the Bible.
What does this mean for our kids and the teams we lead? The way I see it the stakes are high. We can and must teach the Bible purely and consistently. We must teach our kids how to value and apply the Bible to their own lives. There is always need for creativity and innovation in the church but if we don’t get this right if we don’t ground our kids in the authority of scripture we are no longer taking creative ideas from Disney we are ideologically no different than Disney. The reformation that needs to take place is the church and in Christian homes is once again the battle cry of Sola Scriptura. Our kids need to be primarily grounded in the gospel secondly they need to be aware and emersed in the history of our faith. In the faith and the traditions as Paul says “that have been handed to us and taught to us.” Let us as teachers and educators prepare our kids for the world that will be rather than the world that is. May we never sway from the Scriptures as the primary authority in our lives.
The challenge from my last post was to help our kids to properly love. The question that creates is how. How do we properly love? We know we are supposed to love God first and love Him most but how can we be sure that we are doing that?
John Locke clarified the philosophical principle of primary and secondary things that Plato first proposed. Locke says primary things are physical secondary things are more metaphysical. For us, as Christians, the distinction between primary things and secondary things is an important one. Not is the same sense that Locke proposed but in the sense, Christ proposed when he was asked the question what is the most important commandment. In trying to trick Jesus the religious leaders do us a great service they allowed us to see how to order our love and how to properly interact with secondary things.
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
The most important command isn’t to love people. It’s to love God primarily. How our love for God is seen is in how we love secondary things, people. Jesus was saying our love for Christ is primary and our love for everything else is secondary. He was also telling us how to measure our love for God. We can say we love God and there is no way for us to know for sure if we truly love God or if others truly love God. That is what makes secondary things so significant. It is in how we love secondary things in their proper way and to the appropriate degree. When we love secondary things too much we demonstrate that we don’t love God first. Loving things such as family, friends, money, and influence too much reveals the idol factory of our heart. Loving things too little produces anger, envy, and pride. When we don’t love secondary things they way that God does it reveals that we don’t know God or trust him in his love for us.
The problem in teaching kids to love we stop short and only teach them to be loving. The problem is being loving deals with secondary things. To teach kids to truly love it means teaching them to order their love by loving Christ primarily then because you know Christ who is love you will from that love appropriately love secondary things. Being a loving person is a very different thing than being known by Him who is true love. The confidence and assurance that comes from the loves in our life being rightly ordered free us to appropriate love secondary things. It is in how we love secondary things that show that we primarily love Christ.
Questions to ask ourselves about ourselves and our kids:
- What is one thing in your life that you feel defines who you are?
- What if removed from your life would cause you the most pain?
- Where do spend your time and money?
- Do you struggle with an excess of love which is greed, lust or gluttony?
- Do you struggle with a deficiency of love which is anger, envy or pride?
- Where do you turn or to what do you turn when life gets difficult?
- Do you preach the gospel to yourself every day?