The Rotify Factor
In reading your article on Christian decorum for music & entertainment, I’m wondering if you can fill in some gaps for me. I sympathize with and see the way that music can be a more insidious form of catechism, especially on developing minds, as you pointed out, and therefore requires a sharper scalpel for the kinds of content you’re referencing. As children develop in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, how would you calibrate their maturity to the kind of content they have the wherewithal to take in and not be wholly consumed by or conform to the pattern of? To me, it runs down the track of rightfully not letting the 2nd grader watch gruesome war films on account of the gratuitous violence or even a potent noir piece for the coarse language, but then not letting the 12th grader have the discernment to take in such media in the name of protecting them. Is there a category in your mind for older kids being able to take in movies or music that have a darker tone to them, including the ‘E’ on a song without resigning ourselves to being a laissez-faire authority where anything all of a sudden goes? I’m sure many would fear that a lack of nuance could otherwise cultivate the kind of superiority complex in young adults that has zero stomach and even rancor for anything with even a dull edge.
Thank you for your thought provoking piece and wisdom, even when I disagree with your takes. I hope this lands with charity and thanksgiving your family’s faithfulness in ministry and how you’ve challenged me to think about Christ in culture.
B, the basic issue is allegiance and loyalty, and not “contact with.” And if kids are listening to a steady diet of this stuff, for purposes of entertainment, the issue is not that they “heard a bad word.” The issue is that they are displaying a greater loyalty to the crass than they do to the cross.
Re: Rotify. There is a third group of kids: those that don’t know the lyrics of what is in the song. About 20 years ago, I was visiting a Christian family. Their teenage daughters were singing along to the refrain of Lady Marmalade. The lyrics are in French. The lyrics translate as, “Would you lie with me this evening?” All three daughters are walking with the Lord and would be mortified if they knew what they had been singing.
Zeph, yes. Not knowing or hearing the lyrics is a problem. But in many cases, they would rather not know, and that is a problem also. So if a kid says, “Mom, I don’t listen to the lyrics, and don’t know what they say,” the response should be “Well, that’s good. That way it won’t matter if you don’t hear them anymore.”
I really appreciated the post about our children’s music / entertainment consumption. A followup statement. I think the bigger issue is that Christian parents have no discernment for themselves. Kids see the hypocrisy of their parents saying what they can and can’t listen to then turning around and watching R-rated movies and TV shows (some of them even recommended by TGC). I know you were writing about a specific type of parenting scenario that is different that what I’m talking about. But if we’re trying to figure out why “Christian kids” aren’t turning out to be Christian in the end, I would start by analyzing what their parents let into the home for their own consumption.
Roger, point taken.
My wife has Alzheimer’s. Research has shown that listening to music she grew up with has a good effect on her. I asked Alexa to play music from the 60’s and 70’s.
As I listened to the lyrics (remembering that, oh pshaw, no one listens to the lyrics, they only like the beat) I was gobsmacked at the garbage we took in. Reminds me of Baxter’s ‘show the bait and hide the hook.’
Jeff, yes. Show the bait. Hide the hook.
What a clever and hilariously painful way to work in a lyric from the “We turned out OK” generation to dinner home the point.
“We are the champions” of a form of godliness with no power. Maybe the next line would scream, “and we’ll keep on sliding ’till the end .”
Oh Jesus, I pray not! Flood us with the grace of repentance and transform Your people.
Carey, thank you.
“There are two kinds of kids caught up in this business. First, there are those who are drawn to this stuff….The second kind of kid is being badgered and pushed into it, pressured into it.”
And, it’s happening at a younger and younger age. After all, The World has now explicitly said they’re coming after our children. Respond accordingly.
Guymon, yes. And responding accordingly means responding radically.
Getting At the Stuff
Hi Doug & team,
I have been listening to your blogs for a couple of years now (late to the party for an older guy “65” ) and would like to order some of your books. Not a true techie and could not set up an account. When I input to order it jumps to my Amazon account and would prefer to order directly from your company.
If you could have someone email me directions or provide a contact number that would be great.
Not sure if it makes a difference but I am a Canuck living close to Ottawa, Ontario Canada.
Question About a Book
This question is for Doug, or anyone who is familiar with his discussion questions found in the Canon Press version of Calvin’s Institutes.
Are all of these questions designed to find a specific, concrete answer within the text itself? Or are some designed to spur discussion rather than a clear answer from Calvin’s view? Lastly, are these questions written for seminary students, or are they intended to be relatively accessible to a somewhat new Christian?
I appreciate any time that is spent providing an answer. Thank you for all you do.
Anthony, those questions were written with the intention that they be answered from the text. And I also believe that they should be accessible to a new Christian, and not just for aspiring theologians.
Taking the Bait?
On January 23, there is a march in DC protesting (peacefully) vaccine mandates. If I were to go, would you consider that “taking the bait?” I love your work. Thanks!
Sarah, no, that is not necessarily taking the bait. But I would be willing to bet you that there will be occasions offered to you protesters that will be opportunities to take the bait. So you should be confident that the leaders and organizers are prepared to resist being played.
Thanks, and a Clarification
I’m sold! Even if you are running a cult, I want in ;) I have just one doubt so far that I would appreciate your clarification on. I have visited a couple of PCA churches, thinking they are the closest thing to CREC churches near me and found the liturgical focus on our sinfulness jarringly unbalanced. I wonder how emphasizing our depravity without emphasizing the power of Christ in us to overcome the power of sin doesn’t lead to unfruitful discouragement? Or does it? And are CREC churches different in this area? I haven’t noticed that imbalance in the content from Moscow, Idaho. In fact, it’s the encouraging optimism of your material that’s so attractive. Along these lines, how often do you send out your Greyfriars Hall grads to plant churches in other states? I believe my neck of the woods is growing even faster than yours with new churches popping up all around us. Red Rover, Red Rover, let CREC come on over!
Sabrina, thanks for the Red Rover Macedonian Call. And we do want to emphasize the potency of grace, a potency much greater than our sin. And as far as the cult thing goes, I would like to clarify that we are not cult, and I thank you for the opportunity to clear that up.
I think the focus on election fraud is actually slightly misplaced – as soon as election fraud gets brought up in debate the question immediately gets brought up about whether there was enough that was provable across enough states to shift the presidential election, and that’s a relatively hard claim to make. What is a trivial argument to prove is that our public officials in many locations utterly failed in their duty to provide basic records keeping such as chain of custody around many votes that would give us confidence in the integrity of our election. If conservatives were to focus on those specific arguments without trying to necessarily make the larger, more difficult claim I think we would probably gain more traction.
Ian, one of the good things about Hemingway’s book is the way she distinguished challenges that had a strong legal basis from challenges that focused on fishy behavior that was hard to prove.
Eternal Subordination Again?
Eternal Subordination Debate…AGAIN? | This isn’t in relation to any particular blog, but I was curious on Doug’s thoughts? Is entering in the Subordinationism vs. Egalitarianism debate in terms of the Doctrine of God and Trinitarian Thought a waste of time? Is it really a battlefield Christians should be diving into or is it a distraction from the real battlefields? If so, then what is the real situation as to why the enemies of God want His Church to be fighting over these Trinitarian issues?
Trey, heretical notions about the Trinity are always a big deal, regardless of the context. But in the present context, for people to start fighting because they think that “this emphasis” might at some point “lead to” a denial of something that is “critically important” is a distraction move. Owen Strachan is proving to be an important voice in our resistance to all the woke stuff, and others, who don’t understand the battlefield, are trying to throw shade at him.
The Perennial Lust Problem
In your response to a recent letter, you mentioned that a young man pursuing marriage should not be “in bondage to lust,” but you also said it is a problem for him to have “no problem” with lust. How can a young man who desires marriage discern if he is in the happy medium between these two states?
LM, bondage to lust would be described as being in a battle every day, and losing all of them. Think addiction, and not periodic (albeit recurring) temptation. The deeper problem of having “no problem,” would be that of passivity and effeminacy. A man should need to be married.
(I prefer to remain anonymous)
I’m sure this is the 99,999th time you’ve been asked this, but . . .
I am still a slave to lustful desires. I don’t want to want pornography, but I will not lie, I want it. The compulsion outweighs my perseverance.
I started watching porn at 15 (3 years later than some of my friends). I am now 30. I pray for a wife and children, but know this is not possible with such a destructive habit. I believe in God’s sovereignty, but feel envious of those God has graced with a stable family life, while I am left to struggle with self-hatred amidst my fornication.
I suppose my question is, “What should/can I do?” Can you think of any biblical or historical figure that struggled with fornication, but was still blessed with a happy ending?
Thank you for all that you do,
Anon E. Muss
Dear AEM, a lot depends on how destructive your habit is. If we are talking about addictive behavior, and that on a daily basis, then you need intensive pastoral guidance and help, up to and including a Christian rehab program. And you should get that before you even think about marriage. But if you are talking about stretches of faithfulness, interrupted with periodic failures, that is a different situation.
Your work has been very helpful to me, and I greatly appreciate your wisdom and knowledge of Scripture as applied to singleness, and the deposition of that state.
I have a situation that I, and I think others, would appreciate your wisdom on, outlined as follows:
I am interested in a woman. She has a wonderful servant’s heart, clearly given her by God, is beautiful, and seems like an answer to prayer. For various reasons, her father has told me that I cannot speak to her for some time.
I struggle with waiting. Irony on God’s part, I believe, the waiting is good. I need to get my finances together, and there are various other areas of growth that I am working through.
I am a young man, and I diligently battle lust. Recently though, I succumbed to temptation via the Internet, which cast great confusion over the whole situation. I watched your blog post about how there is no “THE ONE”, and questioned, “am I behaving as though she was that “ONE”?” Should I try to get married as soon as possible?
Behaving as though she were “THE ONE” would obviously be foolish, and I do not want to fall into that trap. It seems likely that no, I am not, but I wanted to be sure. I was truly (I thought) ambivalent on the subject.
It was at that juncture of thought that I came to the conclusion that I should, like Gideon, fleece the situation. It should be noted that I entered into the idea more flippantly than I should have.
I laid out the terms prayerfully, and then waited.
I then proceeded to become sick. No idea what it was, but I think there was a anvil gently set on me from above.
My fleece was poorly constructed, I should have paid more attention to how Gideon did his (God had directly promised him something, and he was bolstering his faith), and I found through my waiting that I really wasn’t ambivalent. I believe that my sickness, which was a significant anomaly, as I haven’t been sick for more than two years, was judgement on my stupidity.
The process of the fleece did not bring peace about the woman, as hoped, but only more confusion, and now I am back where I began, asking God for wisdom.
All of the above as background, but also as a general question:
What are your thoughts on fleeces, and why?
Thank you for your consideration, and please pardon my run-on sentences. I am trying to be more like Paul.
Also this is only obliquely related to a blog post, so if it does not count as a post address, I apologize.
Dear K, I take a dim view of setting out fleeces, and the opportunities for confirmation bias are ample. I think it would be far better for you to make a detailed list of all the reasons this young lady’s father said to wait, and begin diligent work on all of them. And if one of those reasons was because you (or she) was too young, then you have a built-in clock.
I’m writing this letter in the hope to help save my marriage. For years my husband has been trying to force me to watch porn, and has succeeded a few times. He is not convinced that it’s a sin, and thinks it’s a good way to get aroused before being intimate. In fact he expects me to be fully aroused before we get going, and because real life doesn’t work that way, he takes that personally. His solution is to watch porn or read erotic books. When we discuss this issue, his arguments include: why did God put porn in the Bible (Song of Solomon), we see each other naked, why can’t we see others (it’s just a human body), if we can’t watch porn then we can’t see any male or females with any clothes off in a show or go to a pool or beach (which means no swimming lessons for my kids and no TV ever), and he’s even said things like animals don’t have to wear clothes why do we. I don’t know how seriously he believes any of these arguments, or if it’s just a means to leave me speechless with no argument. I don’t know if there are other women out there with this same struggle, but we can’t go to our pastor, or families, as that would ultimately be the demise of our marriage, I think. I don’t want to slander his name to others, or make people think badly of him. I love him, and want nothing more than to have a God-glorifying marriage. He is a very logical thinker, and I feel you are too, and so I’m hoping you can help shed some light on this issue. I want to respect and obey him in this, if he’s right. He holds controversial beliefs (for our area) on baptism(we’re paedobaptists), on Calvinism (we are Calvinists) and he believes God blesses polygamy in the Bible. So maybe this is just another way he’s not on the same page with the majority?
In the same vein, I also feel the church needs to address the fact that women are also tempted by porn and erotic books. I have never heard this addressed in our church, it’s always the men. In general, the church seems soft on sin in women and is always harping on the men.
I would greatly appreciate your insight into this.
A concerned wife
Dear ACW, I am afraid you are in a bad spot. You need to get pastoral counsel and help in a bad way, and you are afraid that will blow the marriage up. But that means that things are already pretty unstable. The arguments you list above are simply lame attempts to rationalize sin, and your husband needs someone in his life to point that out to him. In Proverbs, it says “let her breasts satisfy you . . .” He wants to make all the room in the world for his wandering eye, and he wants to salve his conscience by getting your blessing on it. You must refuse to give that blessing. You also need to tell him that he must not ask you to participate in anything like that ever again, and that if he does you will take that as the signal for you to get pastoral help and guidance.
Nice Guys and Jerks
I watched your recent video titled “Nice Guys and Jerks,” and I am glad to see the church tackling issues of intersexual relationships more openly. I was among a large group of young men who grew up in the church with a very misinformed idea of what feminine nature is like, and because of that my approach with women was very much being a “people-pleaser.” I still today have a lot of growth to do in that area, but I’m definitely making headway.
My question is, why has it taken the church so much longer than the secular world to begin educating young men on this? Growing up in the church, boys and men (in my circles at least) had endless sermons and seminars about putting your wife’s wants and needs first, “happy wife, happy life,” and that our ultimate goal in life was to become a suitable husband to the eventual woman that God 100% has for you (because it is impossible for his will to be that you serve him as a single man). But after a first breakup, making the mistake of orienting my world around a girl, I stumbled across quite a bit of MGTOW content in my search for relief from the heartache that i was going through. Not only did I find endless content detailing what female nature really is and what it demands, but I also found out that it has been known and talked about in similar circles for decades. Yet the church, the main teaching body that I learned from growing up, was still promoting that “fem-centered” view on relationships instead.
I understand coming to conclusions sooner or later than others, but more often than not I see the same people who make “Christian masculinity” videos, also somewhat attacking MGTOW content, yet promoting similar if not the same theories. The conclusions (depending on the person) can definitely be different, as in what to do with the knowledge on what feminine/masculine nature really is, but wouldn’t you at least say that the church historically has not taught this issue nearly as well as MGTOW has? It can for sure lead to some poor conclusions drawn by individual men (black pill and similar), but at least it is confronting them with reality and allowing them a choice of what to do with it, instead of the pseudo-reality that Christian men’s conferences have tried to promote at least in the time I have been alive (which more often than not leads men to think that all problems in their relationship/marriage start and end with them and are within their power to change, which in many cases is entirely false).
I am still very much a Christ-follower, I would never surrender my faith in the perfect Christ just because of imperfect Christ-followers (who I number among). I just felt the need to comment, because with the confusion if sexual identity going on right now (even in the church and especially in young men and women), I think proper understanding of sexuality is critically important to this generation. I appreciate your comments on it, I just wonder what the church could continue to accomplish in this arena if they did not pit themselves against a group who has been saying a lot of the same things as them for much longer than they have.
Thank you for your time,
Josh, I grant that the red-pill world of masculine reaction doesn’t get everything wrong. Not only so, but they get some things right that the soft evangelical world gets wrong. That said, a partial truth, presented as the whole truth, is an untruth. This applies to the falsehoods about men and women propagated in the church, and it applies to the falsehoods about men and women propagated by leaders of the secular manosphere.
Re: Nice Guys and Jerks This series (and this letter in particular) has helped illuminate why my marriage fell apart last year: I spent most of it being a nice guy to my wife (and, I am coming to see, had been behaving that way in other areas of life as well). Thanks for helping me make sense of a difficult and confusing situation.
SB, very sorry to hear it, but glad you have learned from it.
” A woman knows that a man who cannot stand up to her is going to have difficulty standing up for her.” I waited for that man and we’ve been happily married for 40 years. I will admit that I am not always easy to stand up to. The fact that both of us are totally committed to the Lord and well read with the Bible has been a great help. Thank you for this important series.
Melody, good job.
Nice guys and jerks: Brilliant and very well said!
Figure of Speech?
I was recently challenged on my interpretation of Exodus 20:6. I was told that understanding it in the way it was written is eisegesis. I was also told that it’s poetry and it doesn’t really mean thousands of generations. I objected to those claims. I said even if it is poetry, it still doesn’t discount my claim. I was then told I’m a young Christian (about 3 years) and that he has been a Christian for 25 years. That was used against me. The conversation started because I said I am post-mill, and he wanted me to share a bunch of verses with him to attempt to prove post-millenialism (I know it’s not really that easy and I tried to convey that to him, but did it anyways) I shared a number of verses including Psalm 2, 22, 72, 110, Genesis 49:10, Matthew 13, Habakkuk 2:14, Daniel 7, etc . . . Do you have any other comments about the text? Thank you, I appreciate your time.
Kevin, yes. A thousand generations might well be a figure of speech, but the Ten Commandments are not poetry. And the question that must be asked about a figure of speech is this—”what does it mean?” It would mean many, many generations. Which still makes your point.
In the past I’ve heard you discuss your reasoning for preaching from the KJV. What are your thoughts on the Legacy Standard Bible (LSB) that has come out of The Master’s Seminary and University?
Cole, I would appreciate the translation philosophy that governed this rendering, but would still prefer the manuscript tradition that the KJV is based on.
Some context and then a question.
I’m currently listening through your sermon series entitled “reformed is not enough”, and have found a wealth of fresh observations that I’ve been blessed by. I also agree with the statement made in the “joint federal vision statement” which says, “ The branches that are cut away from Christ are genuinely cut away from someone, cut out of a living covenant body.”
Question—given the truth of the statement quoted above, and the scriptural support for that (John 15) how do we reconcile what Jesus says in that passage with a lot of what Paul says when talking about “the body” or “the church” etc. For example, 1 Corinthians 12:12,13 teaches us that every member of the body has been baptized into it by the Spirit and have been gifted by the Spirit to fulfill a role as a member. How does this view of the body in Paul and Jesus’ teaching in John 15 relate?
Kindest regards and blessings to you.
Jonty, in my view, this is actually the nub of the whole FV debate and/or misunderstanding. There is a connection to Christ that is not salvific, although it is genuine. There is also a connection to Christ, that which is enjoyed by the elect, which cannot be touched.
I have been a believer for 36 years now (since I was 7) and I have studied the Bible since my youth. I have spent most of my life in churches that are premillennial, and have historically subscribed to that. I’m not necessarily at a place where I am convinced of changing that view, I find so much of your writings and videos so fascinating and intriguing. I first became aware of you when I saw “Collision” about 10 or so years ago, and my appreciation for you has really grown significantly in the last couple of years. I belong to a non-denominational, independent church of about 600 people, and our teaching pastor is one of the best Bible teachers I can imagine having, (I’d put him up there with the likes of MacArthur, Piper, Sproul, and yourself. And even though he isn’t postmillennial, he has mentioned you very favorably in Bible study before, and just talking about your sharp insights and giftings. I am simply writing to encourage you that I appreciate you and am grateful for your ministry from all the way over here in Hamilton, Ohio. I have been a fireman for almost 20 years, and the firehouse can be a tough place for ministry. But one of the things I have really learned from listening to you is how to glorify God in your work, even if you aren’t having Gospel conversations everyday. Just good perspectives that have been helpful.
So I just wanted to say thanks and, who knows, maybe I’ll go postmillennial someday! Ha ha! I have a friend who is very fond of your writings and he occasionally reminds me that I’m wrong about premillennialism! Ha ha!
Keep up the solid work, brother. I’ll be curious to see what you’re going to burn next year in November.
Mark, thanks for the encouragement.
Pray for Australia
Thank you for standing up for so many others around the world. A while ago you mentioned on Blog and Mablog (more than half-seriously) that “in our days the great red dragon has gotten out, and is devouring Australia.” As pastor of a small church in Brisbane, Australia, I can see what you mean. We have become perhaps the most lightly-affected-by-COVID, most irrationally panicked, most feeble-minded and cowardly nation on earth. My church is facing a potential split over the mask issue. I have deliberately avoided degrading the pulpit by preaching directly either for or against masks, but made it clear to all that we haven’t changed the rules of admission, and all are welcome whether masked or unmasked. This is clearly not enough in today’s world, and we are accused of being “selfish and arrogant” for failing to wear a mask; and for failing to force everyone to wear a mask against their own consciences. Black is white, and welcoming is arrogant in our brave new world. We would appreciate any general advice and your prayers for us. God bless.
Samuel, my general advice would be to stay strong. You represent Christ, and the masked and the unmasked are both welcome to sit under His Word. The vaxxed and unvaxxed are both welcome. Stay welcoming.
Free to Remarry?
From Calvinism and Girls (also my favorite subjects)
You mention Luke 16:18 (ESV). 18 “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery”
Matt 5:32 mentions something similar, and Matt 9:19 seems to provide an exception.
Luke 16 taken alone seems to say that anyone that marries a divorced woman regardless of the reason is committing adultery, but on the flip side, you have Matt 9:19 not to mention the entire reason Moses commanded the certificate of divorce is so that the woman can remarry without being stoned for adultery as her husband putting her out of his house with nobody else to run to was basically a death sentence in that culture.
I’ve read a little bit from John Owen, Calvin, RC Sproul, etc, and they are all saying that in the case of adultery it’s permissible to remarry, but they don’t specifically say that it’s permissible for the woman to remarry and how that relates to the passages above, at least not in ways that have been understandable.
Do you have a few minutes to explain your position on the matter or just point me to a link where you explain this as I haven’t found anything that specifically addresses this?
I don’t ask because I’m questioning my own remarriage, my case is pretty cut and dry as far as these things go. My former spouse had a physical affair with another married man, and when called out on it, she threw her faith under the bus saying Christianity didn’t work for her anymore. Interestingly enough the punchline is that I was working my way through Calvinism at the time, and apart from the clear teaching of Scripture, this had a role in convincing me you cannot loose your salvation, because that answer declared loudly that she was never transformed into a new creation to begin with.
Anyway, she then left and that was that. I remarried years later, but the woman I married had never been married, so regardless of how these passages are interpreted, I’m for sure convinced that neither of us was committing adultery.
The reason I ask is because I’m one of the few remarried people in our church, so when stuff goes sideways for someone else, I’m frequently asked to give my account and position, and while I feel it is very strong for my case, I don’t have any good answers to explain how it is permissible for a divorced woman (who was abandoned or cheated on) to remarry in light of the passages above.
Matt, my understanding is that the exception clause applies equally to the woman. In other words, a man divorcing a cheating wife and a woman divorcing a cheating husband are on analogous grounds (not identical grounds).
Question on Doug’s Approach to reading
Your reading log is impressive and has (along with several other things) inspired me to read more and read better. You seem to average 2 books a week. Do you have any tips or suggestions for establishing a pattern of reading? What are some things you have found helpful and what things would you warn against?
Brice, my entire approach is summed up in the plodding approach. No fancy techniques, just chip away.