March 2008

Chelsea Clinton drawing water at the well...

(Tim) Within the church today, why are we so reticent to recognize sexual distinctions that go beyond God's command or certain "roles" the result of His command? Pastors and elders can bring ourselves to swallow the very specific biblical prohibitions against women serving as elders, and the equally specific commands for wives to submit to their husbands--even going so far as to defend those prohibitions with some small talk of the nature of sexuality (although we always call it "gender" rather than "sex" because gender is a social construct while sex is a hard biological reality); but still, despite this supposed submission to the biblical command, we show a complete absence of any biblical theology of sexuality.

Why? Why are we so chip-on-the-shoulderish when it comes to a discussion of the nature of man and woman beyond the obvious body parts (which are undeniable and very useful for advertising), and certain small aspects of authority in the church and home? Why do we read sexuality in such a mind-bogglingly narrow way? We claim to love diversity, right? So why such a penurious, such a tight-waddish reading of this one so basic to our lives?

A central part of understanding our culture is seeing the hatred for distinctions at its core, and few distinctions are more despised than this one present in the womb from our earliest days--male and female.

Typical believers in Jesus Christ will think we've seen the goodness of sex when we've decided to marry a woman rather than a man...

Counting our blessings...

Cgschildren Thus says the LORD, ‘I will return to Zion and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the City of Truth, and the mountain of the LORD of hosts will be called the Holy Mountain.’ Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘Old men and old women will again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each man with his staff in his hand because of age.

And the streets of the city will be filled with boys and girls playing in its streets.’ (Zechariah 8:3-5)

(Tim) When David and I speak privately, it's a rare conversation we don't speak of our gratitude to the Lord for the wonderful churches He has blessed us with. And this isn't the one-upmanship of two brothers who are both pastors. Trust us, we know about that. Rather, it's the true joy of men for whom the lines have fallen in pleasant places recognizing it's all of God.

My Scripture reading today reminds me of one of our principal joys--our congregations' great fruitfulness physically and spiritually. Physically?

Well, between Christ the Word in Toledo and Church of the Good Shephed here in Bloomington, Indiana, I'd estimate between thirty and forty children will be born or adopted by a Covenant family this year. And this happens year after year--fruit, fruit, and more fruit! Our aisles and nurseries and gym and hallways and cars and homes and fellowship halls are filled with boys and girls playing together...

United Way funds Planned Parenthood's murders...

(Tim/ w/thanks to Jeff) If you're inclined to give to United Way, keep in mind that Planned Parenthood's murderers have been supported by donors to United Way in cities and towns around the country for many years, now. It's hard to think of a more elitist, racist, murderous organization in American history. And if you live here in Bloomington, our City Council uses your taxes to help fund Planned Parenthood, also.

Nat Hentoff on Senator Obama's second thoughts about Terry Schiavo...

(Tim, w/thanks to Kamilla) On this, the third anniversary of what Nat Hentoff refers to as "the longest public execution in American history," here's a memorial to Terry Schiavo that presents Senator Obama's latest thoughts on her life and death. The piece ran in the Jewish World Review.

And now for something completely different, a man with...

(Tim, w/thanks to Jenna) A man who used to be a woman is pregnant...

I'm coming again.

A pregnant woman who's legally a man won't be able to nurse his baby daughter because...

Actually, I'd rather not say it. I'm coming again.

The father of an unborn child took pity on his wife who'd had a hysterectomy, and had the docs put her baby girl in his belly so he could carry her to term...

Aaarghhh! I'm coming again.

Rupert Murdoch's London Times put the story beneath this headline, "Thomas Beatie, a married man who used to be a woman, is pregnant with a baby girl." The Guardian also ran the story.

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Following hard on the heels of the litter, tobacco, and booster seat police, the fat police...

Now tubbiness is just the thing,

That gets a fellow wondering...

(Tim, w/thanks to John McKenzie) When you throw out the big laws, you end up with an infinite succession of petty ones. Check out this article about a couple being threatened with the state-sanctioned kidnapping of their children because British social workers are concerned about the childrens' weight. It's every woman's right to kill her children as long as it's done at an early enough age; and every man's right to divorce the children's mother, bringing an end to the family's unity and love; but no man or woman dares to give their child chips (or crisps) with the nanny state watching.

It's a very good thing A. A. Milne's Teddy Bear didn't live in our day. Why, the case would be utterly hopeless...

"But remember, I'm still a guy..."

(Tim, w/thanks to Tim) Check out these lyrics to the country song, "I'm Still a Guy," by Brad Paisley. They're not G-rated, but despite their crudity, they have much to show us about the world we live in...

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Covenant children and the emasculation of the church, with a tribute to my father...

…Abraham will surely become a great and mighty nation, and in him all the nations of the earth will be blessed… For I have chosen him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him. (Genesis 18:18,19)

(Tim) When the Lord entered into a covenant with Abraham, He was pleased for that covenant’s fulfillment to be dependent upon Abraham “command(ing) his children and his household… to keep the way of the Lord….” Still today, it pleases God to use means to accomplish his will, and he has declared the Church should be built up, instructed, and guarded by men—not angels. Where those men are missing or their work is soft and effeminate, the Church has suffered the removal of her vital manhood; she has been emasculated. (n. 1)

When we speak of the emasculation of the church, though, we are not saying she has been robbed of her Bridegroom nor that her adoptive Father has cast her out of his household. Christ is “faithful over God’s house as a son” (Hebrews 3:6 RSV), (n. 2)  and we have his promise that the gates of hell shall not prevail against her. So then, the Church can never be emasculated in any definitive sense, even though her officers may be characterized by a womanly softness and sentimentality.

Such, though, is the church of our time. About twenty years ago I heard Elisabeth Elliot Gren say, “The problem with the church today is that it’s filled with emasculated men who don’t know how to say ‘no’ to a woman.” At the time, I was floored by Elliot’s audacity, but now I realize she was guilty of understatement. Christian men today have a problem saying “no” to almost anyone—not just women. Preachers, elders, and Sunday school teachers place an overwhelming emphasis on the positive and have an almost insurmountable aversion to the negative.

In the mid-eighties, my father was asked to represent the pro-life side at a campus-wide dialogue on abortion held at the Stupe, Wheaton College’s student union. He began his presentation with the statement, “I am not here to represent the pro-life, but the anti-abortion side of this issue..."

Baby comes five months late; mother will never be the same...

(Tim) A certain prof left Church of the Good Shepherd and Bloomington years ago, and now serves on the faculty of a certain college. Being jealous of his or her many, many gifts, I've spent my life trying to catch him or her in a mistake--any mistake.

Back when he or she still lived here, I once caught him or her saying "renumeration" when he or she meant "remuneration." I was gleeful.

Today I read a family letter he or she sent out to loved ones. It began with this sentence:

We're pleased to announce the arrival five months late (the road to birth announcements is paved with good intentions!) of [John Doe], our bright new addition to the family.

My oh my! Try to get your head around those final four months for that dear woman! And you thought a week overdue was bad?

A little levity, two...

(Tim) Wouldn't you know. It's on --------- today. (Took the link down because, after I posted it, the page changed and became a stumbling block. Thanks to those of you who gave me the heads-up.)

Speaking positively about the difficult parts of shepherds' work...

(Tim) Here's a response to this comment left by a reader: "It seems that many in the complementarian community spend almost all their energy on the negative side of the equation."

Feminism is toxic and its relentless attack on Scripture and the Church doesn't give faithful shepherds a lot of opportunity to take their preaching and teaching somewhere else, avoiding this breach. We must focus our defensive work where the good deposit is under attack. In response to people complaining of the frequency of his preaching against fornication, Spurgeon said once that he'd stop preaching against it when people stopped doing it.

Pastors today aren't preaching or teaching against this heresy. And when we do, we do it half-heartedly making it clear to our flock and other shepherds that we wish the need for battle would go away because we're men of peace and love and grace, and we really don't enjoy beating up on women.

Now I may not have captured our critic's sentiments, personally, but from many years experience I know I've hit the mainstream. So think where we'd be if Calvin or Luther or Knox of any of hundreds of other shepherds had tried the positive approach in the darkness of Rome's shadow across the Middle Ages? What if Calvin had written his Institutes without the central thrust of opposing and exposing Rome? Would anyone read them?

The real issue isn't that many within the complementarian camp spend almost all our energy on the negative side of this equation, but that we live in an evil day much like the day of the Apostle Paul and Athanasius and Peter Waldo and John Calvin and Jonathan Edwards and John Newton and J. Gresham Machen and Martyn Lloyd-Jones and Francis Schaeffer, and that our work must follow theirs in being faithful with God's "yes" and His "no." And if our only "no" is said in opposing those who don't say "yes" often enough to suit our tastes, we're not really saying "no," are we?

A little levity...

(Tim, w/thanks again to Mark) A man who's a web designer and a member of Christ the Word (whose pastors use PCs) just sent me this link to an Engadget Apple ad. It's funny.

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