Letters Help Us Communicate, While It Is Still Legal to Do So

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YeahWhattabout

Re: Free speech, you say that Christian principles “will eventually show up in the law, but will not be implement through the law.” So are you envisioning a law against blasphemy, or not? Does the government get to punish unbelievers for talking like unbelievers? Granted that you suggest such laws would be an expression of the values of a discipled nation, after the yeast works through the loaf. But it seems like at some point you are still allowing for coercion in matters of faith. Is that right?

Because if so, it is not clear from my reading how you would limit that principle. Can Catholics pray openly to Mary? Are the Baptists going to get drowned again?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Joel

Joel, as I have argued in previous installments, blasphemy laws are inescapable. Not whether but which. But the blasphemy laws that would allow the freest range of true expression would be the consistently Christian ones. And because this future Christian republic would not be trying to function on the eve of an invasion from the Spanish Armada, the answer to your question about Mary would be yes. Not only so, but the Baptists would be freer under my proposed regime than they would have been under ten Roger Williams rolled into one.

I have another question. What is the best book, in your opinion, regarding the place of the Old Testament law in the church today? I’ve been reading a bit of Matthew Vines in order to understand the SSM debate, and he claims that that inconvenient verse in Leviticus is part of the old law that some early church folks decided that the Gentiles need no longer adhere to. Not being a theologian, I feel that that is wrong but I’d like to read about that from others. Thanks!

Noel

Noel, I would recommend that you start with Greg Bahnsen’s book entitled Homosexuality. After that, I would recommend you go to Vern Poythress’s book The Shadow of Christ in the Law of Moses. I am afraid I don’t know of “just one book” that addresses all the issues. But also read Bahnsen’s By This Standard.

When Sin Began

Tangentially related to this post: What was the exact point of Eve’s sin? Was her sin in the physical act of taking and eating, or did it occur earlier, when she saw that the fruit was good for satisfying the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life, and then wanted what was not hers to have? Was the wanting like coveting, and therefore sin, before she even took a bite?

Virginia

Virginia, I think we have to distinguish between when the sin began and when the disobedience began, in both Adam and Eve. The sin began when the intention formed, and the disobedience began when they crossed the line and ate. In addition, we have to ask when the Fall happened, which was when Adam ate. Paul says that it was through one man that sin entered the world, so after Eve ate, but before Adam did, the Fall had not yet happened.

Canadian Lockdown

I’m writing to you seeking some guidance. Here in Canada, during the lock-downs, the vast majority of churches have closed down and have not held services in either 5 or 15 months (noting that online services are not church). A local church pastor in my area has gone the route of raising the flag to this issue, and gone against the board for some time, and resulted in finally started to hold “secret services.” Praise God for a man of conviction.

For the year long battle he has put to the board; his “defiance” has seen him removed from his position, and part of the flock is calling him to form a congregation. it has caused a split. It has been handled well, quite respectfully, yet with the disagreements and dissobediances clearly made known; as he called the church to not fall by the way side, but actually practice our faith. Our wiaht [sic?] which is a congregational, body/soul one, we need to be present as the bride of Christ on the Lord’s Day, as commanded, for our equipping.

My question is on behalf of the forming of another church, having been kicked out, basically…

He’s a young pastor with a wonderful wife and 6 children. that calling to be a father, and His calling to be a pastor have been very heavy ones. I’m wondering if you can enlighten us on what a typical, healthy pastor/father balanced life looks like?

Where does the collar come off and the diaper bag get girded? How ought a pastor and husband juggle the two callings, being faithful, and rightfully present in both? this seems like a terribly daunting balance, clear reason why it is not for all men, James 3.

Many blessings from Chinada (China duh?!).

in Christ,

Travis

Travis, I am not quite clear on your question. It seems to me that with a start up church like this, a pastor might need to be absent from the home in ways beyond the usual norm, and his wife might need to pick up a little more. But maybe I misunderstood you.

Composure

I’m guessing this message will reach Doug Wilson.

How are you? I’m a 22 year old black male. My question is how do you seem to always keep composure in all situations? Would you be willing to share any effective input or principles.

Jo’el

Jo’el, this is a hard one to answer. To the extent that there is anything to remember during “a situation,” it would be the responsibility of recalling that the actual situation is much bigger than the situation that has your immediate attention. The play is bigger than the scene. And the director of the play has told me to keep my composure.

Getting Free

I realize that there are specific issues that you cannot speak to regarding what I am about to ask. That’s understandable and I am asking only for big picture, in principle type thoughts.

I have been taking prescription amphetamines for several years (I am in my 40s). I was diagnosed with “ADHD” at one point, but truth be told, I have never really bought into the idea that there is such a disorder.

Long story short, I want out. I don’t like what the drugs do to my personality. I don’t like the sins they encourage. Nor do I like that they artificially keep me from other sins (laziness, surlyness, etc) without actually dealing with them. My question is this:

What general advice would you give someone who really does have a difficult time focusing, completing projects, staying on task, etc . . . if he wanted to start honestly dealing with the root sins and not just chemically deadening the symptoms?

A

A, there would be two things I would recommend. The first is that you consult with a Christian medical doctor who would be sympathetic with your desire to be off these drugs, and who could make a plan with you for your graceful exit. Second, once off I would recommend the principles I laid out in Ploductivity. Don’t try to address everything at once. Don’t resolve to “finish everything”—pick just one of your tasks or responsibilities and finish that one. Then move on to another.

Bumps Along the Way

I’m reading Tim Bayly’s “Daddy Tried” and as I was reading it I was reminded of how yourself and the folks at Warhorn differed sharply on Covid-19. While I have made efforts to be careful about how or who I disclose my own thoughts to on Covid-19, various times that I’ve opened up about it has led to a low-grade background tension in some relationships. While Covid’s sun is setting, the tension remains. I was wondering if you and Warhorn were ever able to resolve the difference as allies and brothers in Christ? I consider Canon/Christchurch and Warhorn to be immensely valuable resources in aiding my spiritual development and the development of my family. I hope that my personal experience with Covid has not mirrored yours with the Warhorn.

Regards,

Jordan

Jordan, we continue to be appreciative of all that Warhorn has done, despite our disagreement over COVID.

Education Savings Accounts

I’m in the process of setting up a 529 education fund for our newborn daughter. Then I perused the fine print and found it can only be used at accredited universities/institutions. Is it pessimistic or realistic to expect that in 18 years, any place I’d want to send our daughter will be disqualified from accreditation? And if realistic, any ideas on alternatives? Thanks,

Andrew

Andrew, if you look at the letters section for the last few weeks, you will find that others raised this question, and various folks made some good suggestions.

Just War

Thanks for reading my letter. What resources would you recommend for studying biblical warfare? Books, articles, documentaries / interviews. . . I’m interested in anything you can recommend. Thanks,

Austin

Austin, I would start with a book by John Jefferson Davis called Evangelical Ethics.

Forced Marriages

I have a question regarding marriage. I keep seeing articles from Christian organizations about forced marriages in other countries and sometimes in America talking about underage brides being rescued from their marriage, usually to an older man. Is this biblical? Are these marriages not valid because of the bride’s age or because it wasn’t her choice? And to clarify, I’m not talking about pre-pubescent girls or physically abusive marriages. But if a 14 or 15 year old girl is married in an arranged marriage and it is not abusive, should Christians be trying to get them divorced? Just trying to understand what makes a marriage binding in God’s eyes. Thanks!

LG

LG, quite honestly, I think this kind of thing needs to be handled on a case-by-case basis. There are too many variables to try to anticipate. But it is the kind of situation that obviously could go either way—how many years, how many kids, etc. The central thing would be to not to try to sanctify a legalized rape.

I Don’t Know. Almost All Couches Are Flammable.

Is this an infringement of copyright or did you grant permission?

Grins,

John

John, we hereby grant permission to anyone who would like to burn a couch.

Health and Birth Control

How do you think the command “Be fruitful and multiply” applies to couples when one has health issues? Although I’m currently unmarried, I have a genetic disorder that has wreaked havoc on my life in many ways that I have a 50/50 chance of passing on to potential children. How would you advise a couple in this situation? What are your thoughts on foregoing biological children in favor of adoption?

Sam

Sam, you are the ones who would have to grapple with that decision. I would just encourage you to Golden Rule it. What would you have advised your parents to do for you before you were born? Take into account the fact that you were given a great gift of life, health challenges and all.

Thank you for your faithful ministry! I may have said it before in a letter, but if I neglected to mention it, your stalwart, militant joy in the face of the shamdemicky weirdness truly helped me to stay sane and to cling to the cross rather than my fears. Thank you!

My question is not related to any article, in particular. My family recently attended a Mother’s Day service (hoo, boy . . .) with my husband’s parents at their nondenominational church. We had departed this church as a young married couple in order to seek more robust biblical teaching and have been very happily at home in a faithful, Scripture-loving Baptist congregation for over four years.

I thought maybe it was just my own personal problem, but the sermon we heard could not have been squishier. The pastor talked a lot about “loving people” —while thoroughly neglecting to define love in terms of the Gospel—and even suggested that the primary purpose of our outreach should be to focus on “response rather than rules.” Due to the ambiguity, I still don’t rightly know what he meant. I have considered asking him, but my husband and I need to discuss the matter further.

We have raised theological concerns with my husband’s family in the past, but it has never been received favorably. They believe theology is man-made and an insistence on the sovereignty of God is legalistic.

How would you advise my husband and me if we feel convicted to discuss the problems we see while also maintaining appropriate honor for them as his parents?

Once again, thank you!

P. S. In reference to my letter from last summer, it may interest you to know that I am no longer employed by the large coffee chain, although I feel I got off on a technicality rather than going out in a biblically reformed blaze of glory. Perhaps it was the Lord humbling me while closing the door.

Feisty Reformed Mama

FRM, I would encourage you to work on honoring your husband’s parents first, putting that down as your base coat of paint. Setting them straight is not really your responsibility. As much as is possible, I would reserve your discussions with them to those occasions where they try to set you straight.

An Odd Expression

Regarding the term “household gods”: This is admittedly a weird question and maybe not worth asking. I’m not asking you to do a lot of digging, but if you had thought about this, I would appreciate knowing those thoughts. In “As Smoke Ascends to Gods Who Aren’t There,” you write: “In other words, household gods are no gods at all.” I affirm this.

There is a curious use of this term, however, in Dabney’s biography of Thomas Jackson. Speaking of some of Jackson’s progenitors (I think great grandparents), he writes: “The young couple, after the common fashion of American emigrants, proceeded at once to seek for new and cheaper lands on which to establish their HOUSEHOLD GODS, and made their first home on the south branch of the Potomac River…” (Location 143 in my Kindle version, midway through the first paragraph of chapter 1 – emphasis mine.)

This term struck me at the time of reading, reminding me of Jacob fleeing Laban and his wife taking the “household idols” (NASB) as well as several uses of the phrase in Virgil’s Aeneid.

I just wondered about this term, as Dabney uses it. Could it mean something else? Was it a common phrase at the time simply to describe establishing a household? Its not like Dabney is some pagan apologist. I would probably not give it a second thought if it was written by C.S. Lewis. But Dabney?

Or should we give household gods a second look? (That sentence was meant to be a small bit of humor.)

Thoughts, if you have them, appreciated. Otherwise, feel free to ignore the Q entirely.

Nathan

Nathan, it is simply an idiomatic expression for establishing a household, the kind of expression that someone with a classical education might use. I recently used the phrase “whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad,” and I did this while not believing in any of the gods.

Worldview Prophetic

I love your blog and was wondering if you recall one where you talked about preaching and seeing the present as the prophets did—and you had four (I think) 19th and 20th century quotes from various thinkers that could now, in hindsight, be deemed “prophetic” in the small “p” sense. Do you recall this one? Thanks!

Dave

Dave, I think it was this one.

Working for Commies

I’m trying to navigate work-life in Communist Washington. Inslee recently realized he might have been interpreted as having granted us too much freedom, so he’s formally requiring masks for non-vaxed folks AND requiring employers to ascertain vaccination status of employees. My employer voiced their opposition to this formally, but also is complying and asking our status formally.

I’m not certain how to handle this, and part of this seems to come down to honesty. My position has been that it’s no one’s business whether or not I’m vaccinated, so I’ve kept my mouth shut about it and declined to tell when informally polled. But now they’re saying that declining to respond is going to be assumed to be non-vaccinated and that those who do so will need to mask up. I obviously do not want to do that. I could tell them I’m vaccinated, of course, and the questions would end and all would be good. To continue with my desire not to tell my status, I won’t state my vaccination status here, either, but let’s assume for the sake of argument that it would be a lie to do so. My understanding of lying is that it needs to be in the context of a life-or-death situation. An act of war, as it were. Does this qualify? At present, I don’t see it. It seems like the type of step that could be looked back upon to be the prelude to war (demanding submission in this way), but not there yet.

The option I’m leaning toward right now is to formally decline to answer, and then not voluntarily mask up. If they really want me to mask up, and are not merely outwardly following statist protocol, they’ll let me know personally. But I also can’t see that this is a hill worth dying on, so if they come to me personally and tell me to mask up because they have a record of my declining to answer, I probably will capitulate in some way. But if there’s no enforcement, this seems akin to going to places in town mask free that had formulaic mask requirements.

I’d appreciate your thoughts on this.

Thanks.

Jake

Jake, I think that your proposed approach is a reasonable course to take.

The Efficacy of Masks

Okay, I have a somewhat serious question: Previously, I read an argument against wearing a mask that went along the lines of, “Well, I don’t believe masks work, and if I wear one just to make people feel better about being around me, then that’s a 9th commandment violation (bearing false witness). Okay, great. I don’t wear a masks, they’re dumb and they don’t work.

The new narrative, as I’m sure you’ve seen, is: You’re free to go unmasked IF you have been vaccinated.” Woah. Now, I’ve no plans to voluntarily be injected with their experimental vaccine. And, I still think masks are dumb and don’t work.

But, if I don’t wear one now, is THAT a 9C violation?

Thanks.

Mitch

Mitch, the Ninth Commandment issues have now been officially murked up. This is because before no mask meant resistance, and now it could easily mean eager compliance. “Look at me! I’m vaccinated!” You could always start wearing a mask to signal resistance. This is so confusing . . .

Exercising Authority

What do you think about the controversy (not a new one!) about the word authentein in 1 Tim 2? I am debating with someone who insists that it refers to women who seek to take the pastoral role violently, or by force, inappropriately I suppose. I would love to witness that—but I have a hard time imagining what that would have looked like. She argues that the word nearly always suggests violence, so she claims that it likely meant ‘overly assertive authority.’ What are your thoughts?

Noel

Noel, I think that it means usurping authority, which can be accomplished in any number of ways, none of them good. Authority can be usurped by violent means, but it could also happen through cajolery or bribes. And every form of feminism is a usurpation.

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LG
LG
3 months ago

As a follow up to my question, what about a situation like Maranatha Chapman where the girl is underage and not necessarily forced to marry but has significant family pressure to do so. Was that a real marriage? If not, did it become one after a certain amount of time? Surely at some point, divorce would be wrong.

Jill Smith
Jill Smith
3 months ago
Reply to  LG

From what I’ve read, this is a particular problem with importing child brides from Central America, India, Pakistan, and the Middle East. US immigration policy doesn’t set a minimum age for girls brought here as a result of a petition for visa approval to admit a fiancee. Similarly, it doesn’t set a minimum age for a girl already resident here to petition for a visa to admit a fiance–which means, of course. that her parents may be submitting the petition with no input from the girl. This is contrary to other immigration policy that doesn’t permit you to petition for… Read more »

LG
LG
3 months ago
Reply to  Jill Smith

Yes, that is a problem. When is a marriage really a marriage? In the missionary context, I wonder how it would be settled, especially if the couple converted to Christianity. Should they be taught how to be a godly married couple or should they divorce?

Jill Smith
Jill Smith
3 months ago
Reply to  LG

I can’t imagine. If a child bride is admitted and a court refuses to permit the wedding, she loses her visa/green card status. If she marries and the marriage fails before 18 months (or if the marriage appears to be sham), she loses her green card and faces deportation. This raises the question of whether the family members in her home country who colluded in sending her to the US will mistreat her if she returns. For many of these girls, there is typically not a happy outcome. If it were up to me, the government would deny visa petitions… Read more »

LG
LG
3 months ago
Reply to  Jill Smith

Sixteen would probably be a good cut off. Of course, there have been a good number of girls who have married younger than sixteen legally inside the United States as well. It is a complicated thing.

LG
LG
3 months ago
Reply to  LG

I also wonder how this applies to “shotgun” marriages, which several states allow even after statutory rape has occurred. Are their wedding vows binding?

Jill Smith
Jill Smith
3 months ago
Reply to  LG

I don’t know how other Christian groups handle this, but the Catholic view is that any coercion invalidates a marriage. The answer wouldn’t be divorce but annulment. In the last hundred years, the Catholic church has recognized that coercion can be something less dramatic than threats of honor killings or being locked in your bedroom until you agree to marry the person you loathe. The tidal wave of annulments in the last forty years or so has resulted in the Catholic church’s unwillingness to conduct a wedding where there is reasonable suspicion that one or both people are acting under… Read more »

LG
LG
3 months ago
Reply to  Jill Smith

That is interesting. My other question would be, if the marriage was coerced in some way, but years have gone by and love has developed, are they free to remain married or would the marriage still be unlawful?

Jake
Jake
3 months ago

Follow up to the earlier post about masks and lying by a different Jake. Not only am I running into the problem at work, but what about when going to business for food or groceries. The rules here in NC mándate a mask for the unvaccinated to enter and businesses have updated their door signs to say unvaccinated are required to wear a mask. Am I doing wrong by going in without a mask when unvaccinated?

Anyone have any suggestions?

Andrew
Andrew
3 months ago
Reply to  Jake

I think you have to read the situation, not just the sign. Here in Texas, even before the CDC updated its guidelines, 90% of stores still had signs up like this, but half the people inside (including employees) were unmasked. And no one was making a fuss. So for many businesses, the sign may just be “cover” to officially comply with government rules, or get COVID-scolds off their back. At this point, I’m operating on a few assumptions: 1) Anyone who really wants it already has the vaccine. 2) Any business that posts a sign saying “Only the vaccinated may… Read more »

JP Stewart
JP Stewart
3 months ago
Reply to  Andrew

As for (2), you can always identify as vaccinated. If it’s good enough for competitive women’s sports, it’s good enough for COVID.

Ree
Ree
3 months ago
Reply to  Jake

Do the signs say anything about what you need to be vaccinated against because no doubt, you’ve been vaccinated against something at some point in your life.

Bryan Hann
Bryan Hann
3 months ago
Reply to  Ree

That would probably be not a good faith reading of the sign.

JP Stewart
JP Stewart
3 months ago
Reply to  Bryan Hann

As if anything involving COVID has been done in good faith.

JP Stewart
JP Stewart
3 months ago
Reply to  JP Stewart
Ken B
Ken B
3 months ago

Noel – regarding 1 Tim 2: ‘Let a woman learn in silence with all submissiveness.
I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over men; …’ RSV, and therefore translated before the current feminist controversy over this passage.

I think there is a pattern here that goes like this: Learn is to teach as submissiveness is to authentein (have authority). Two sets of opposites if you like.

JP Stewart
JP Stewart
3 months ago

With the absence of the usual angry letters from woke supremacists, I want to thank those Biden-supporting “Christians” for this. We’re now the laughingstock of the world.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k5wyeApOOiU&t=1s

Ken B
Ken B
3 months ago
Reply to  JP Stewart

I think this is a Western problem, not just the US.

The difference in the two approaches was stark, not least because the Russians want to train men to fight man to man as it were, but the American heroine only needs to push a button and launch technology against an enemy.

That said, and this is not a wind up, was the American half actually a parody? It is beyond stupid, but these days it is often hard to tell the genuine from parody apart.

JP Stewart
JP Stewart
3 months ago
Reply to  Ken B

No, it’s not a parody.
https://www.newsweek.com/real-soldiers-us-army-diversity-recruitment-video-1591516

And while technology has changed the nature of war, societies as warped and feminized as the U.S. (and almost all of Europe, save Poland) are ripe for takeover. This could happen without a shot being fired or a literal invasion of a disarmed populace crippled with fear. Look how much of the world is ready to give up their liberties for a bad case of the flu.

Gray
Gray
3 months ago

With some background in Human Resources, I think that a case could be made that employers requests for medical information unrelated to a “doctor’s note or other health information if they need the information for sick leave, workers’ compensation, wellness programs, or health insurance” could be a violation of HIPPA. HIPAA does not: Prevent an employer from asking for a doctor’s note for an absence, although this practice may create other exposures for employers. Affect your ability to request information needed to administer benefits programs, such as healthcare coverage, workers’ compensation claims, or sick leave, Cover all employee benefit information.… Read more »

JP Stewart
JP Stewart
3 months ago
Reply to  Gray

There’s a good discussion here (starting around 7:45) with an attorney re: forced COVID vaccinations and international and U.S. laws, including HIPAA if I remember correctly–or maybe it was ADA.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4MHaA_9xuYQ&t=934s

Jill Smith
Jill Smith
3 months ago
Reply to  Gray

I think it’s important to note that HIPAA rules apply only to doctors and other medical professionals and to health insurance companies. It is a HIPAA violation for your doctor to tell your boss about your vaccination status without your consent. But it’s not a HIPAA violation for your boss to ask you directly because he or she is not a covered entity and subject to the rules. (Of course, if your employer requires you to provide medical information, he/she has a duty to prevent unnecessary disclosure of it. If he/she doesn’t, you have a cause for civil action, but… Read more »

John M
John M
3 months ago

I sent this as a letter to Doug. I guess it didn’t make the cut. This is in response to the post on free speech. I appreciate you attempting to tackle this issue. I see there are several problems with your reasoning. The first issue is your use of 1 Corinthians “if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat” You use that verse to claim, “Christians were given explicit and free permission to keep company… Read more »

Jill Smith
Jill Smith
3 months ago
Reply to  John M

John, I’m not much good at interpreting scripture but wouldn’t the “any man that is called a brother” mean we shouldn’t have social friendships with people who once claimed to be members of our faith community but are now living impenitently and blatantly sinful lives? I don’t see how that would exclude social contact with people who never made such a claim and who don’t accept Christian teachings about drunkenness and fornication. Refusing to break bread with a Christian who is no longer acting like one is intended to prod him/her toward repentance, whereas refusing to break bread with someone… Read more »

Jane
Jane
3 months ago
Reply to  Jill Smith

Exactly. This is historically the way it has been understood; not that it’s “fine” for those who have never professed faith to be idolaters, but that it’s not our business to draw social lines against them, whereas it is our business to rebuke unrepentant brothers through our actions, as a form of witness. It may however, as you say, be prudent or even required by faithfulness to avoid the company of particularly licentious unbelievers because of circumstance, but it is not required by the fact of their sins, simpliciter.