Bible Reading Challenge
A regular reader here. Just wanted to write to say I’ll be taking part in the Bible Reading Challenge this summer. You write that “Tens of thousands of people are already involved in this movement. If it were hundreds of thousands, we would begin to see changes.” Perhaps (just perhaps) there are many of us who are relatively silent readers, who don’t contribute to comments, but who are faithfully reading our Bibles this summer, and perhaps (just perhaps) God will work change through these folks. Who knows? God may not be done with America just yet.
Jason, let’s hope so. I don’t believe that much salt could get salty again without having an impact.
Sexual Temptation in Young Men
I’ve been reading your book Future Men and I wanted to thank you for it. Rest assured I have ultimately thanked God many times. I have a question regarding one of things in the section on sexual temptation. You wrote, “This means that fathers must assume that a difficult sexual struggle is occurring in their sons’ lives. (If a sexual struggle is not occurring, then the potential problems are greater, not less.)” Could you elaborate of what the greater potential problems are? I am not tracking with you here. Thanks!
Jerrod, what I was referring to there was the problem of having an effeminate son, one who is not interested in girls. If a son is highly sexed, there will be challenges when it comes to instilling and teaching self-control. But it would be worse to not have those challenges.
The Wahoo Trump Factor
Yes and amen to your piece, “Our Diseased Republic.” But you said one thing that brought me up short. “No responsible conservatives are enchanted with Trump.” It seems to me that the word “responsible” is doing a lot of heavy lifting in that sentence. Either that, or you hang out with a much more responsible band of conservatives than I do. Because in my own corner of Baptist evangelicalism, “enchanted” is precisely the word I would use describe their attitude toward Trump. They post paintings of him on Facebook sitting at the Oval desk with Jesus leaning over his shoulder; they attribute every criticism to the “lies of the mainstream media.” It seems to me that our embattled mindset has led many a Christian into seeing the guy who beats up their enemy as their kinsman. I too delight in seeing Trump beat up the enemy . . . but it’s enchantment that seems to me to be the reason we’ve heard no large-scale denunciation of the president’s open approval of LGBTQ+ madness. Perhaps the likes of Jerry Falwell Jr., Robert Jeffress, Eric Metaxas (author of the children’s book Donald Drains the Swamp), Tim Wildmon, and Franklin Graham are not “responsible conservatives,” but they represent—and speak to—an awfully large subsection of this group we call “conservative evangelicals,” including the ones I’m around most of the time. That group, in my experience, doesn’t want to hear any criticism, no matter how muted, of Trump’s deficiencies or unbiblical stands. “Hey, the president has enough critics,” they will say. “He doesn’t need friendly fire from our own side.” I submit that the level of enchantment with Trump the man, bordering on a cult of personality, is higher in evangelical circles than you are giving it credit (or blame?) for.
John, thanks. I don’t know enough about the individual supporters of Trump that you name to say anything one way or the other about them. But I don’t doubt that there are MAGA hat churches, and that there is certainly personality cult support for Trump among evangelicals. But I am not in those circles at all. So I don’t think I am asking the word responsible to do too much heavy lifting. That kind of support is just not responsible.
The bigger difference is between conservatism and right-populism, with the latter too much mistaken for the former. Unlike your responsible conservatives, populists of a type very much are enchanted with Trump, though the ones who are best able to articulate enchantment, and best situated to profit from exercising that ability, may be faking it to impress the ones not so able. Trump is not so much chemotherapy as a secondary infection. There is no incongruity at all in Trump supporting the homosexual agenda, no reason to have expected better from him, and coming from him no reason to characterize that support as folding. The incongruity lies in the fact that he thinks he can get away with it where his base is concerned. Or is that not so in-congruent either? The man does have his instincts. That a Republican president feels free to send valentweets to the LGBT world is more telling as to the state of the nation than anything establishment insiders are doing.
John, thanks, and you make reasonable points. But it really is more complicated. He sends those valentweets, which are awful, but he has also reversed or undone some of the Obama administration’s advancement of the sexual revolution. The homosexual activists have reasons for hating him—it is not just Trump derangement syndrome.
Criticism of You Who
Just listened to a podcast by the “Theology Gals” that was critical of Rachel’s book You Who. The title of the podcast is “How Rachel Jankovic Is Wrong On Identity.” In the middle of the podcast they get critical of you as well. Having just bought You Who for my wife I was interested in listening to this podcast. I listen as I work, so needless to say I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to follow their arguments with a fine tooth comb. I may have missed a response from you or Rachel but if not I’d be interested to hear what your response is to their criticisms. They claim to be reformed, quote the Westminster Catechism, and J Gresham Machen so it made me think you’d be interested in what they had to say. Of course I reserve the right to be totally wrong . . . that happened once before.
Timothy, I am not totally up on their criticism, but suspect that it consists of some recycled confusions from the Federal Vision days. I think that when Rachel says obedience, they hear works. But we believe that the just shall live by faith, from first to last. If their criticism boils down to thinking we deny sola fide, they are completely misunderstanding.
Crowd Sourcing Actually Works
Crowd source the question: Thiago, the reader from Brazil, was looking for a form on bringing accusations/complaints. They are located here Under the “Forms” tab there are three forms for this: FORMS Agreement for two or more Christians who are having difficulties/Application for Filing Ecclesiastical Charge(s)/Notice of Appeal of Ecclesiastical Judgment
Rope, thanks very much.
One could also argue that King’s adultery was worse than that of Trump’s, because he was a pastor, and pastors are to be examples to their flock. This article makes one wonder if Mr. Mason knows what the gospel is, as many of Dr. King’s writings seem to dispute the resurrection and divinity of Jesus Christ. It is important that when Dr. King is exposed publicly, most Christians are not standing around him, for that will lead, if anything, to many people leaving the church. It is also serious because, although it would be a pleasant surprise to find out in the end that Dr. King put his trust in Christ as he walked out of the hotel before being shot, many of Dr. King’s writings seem to imply that he did not believe Jesus was truly divine, or that he rose from the dead, so over-promotion of Dr. King leads Christians away from the true gospel.
I would, however, like you to clarify what you mean by identity politics. If that means animosity and unfair treatment towards other races, or supporting the KKK and black panthers, I agree with you. But is ethnic separatism always wrong? Are the Kurds wrong to separate from Iraq, and would it be wrong for Afrikaners to separate from South Africa at this point? Special concern for one’s ethnic group does seem to be supported by some passages of the Bible. Israelites were told only to choose an ethnic Israelite king, and Paul, it seemed, loved his unbelieving Jewish kinsmen at least as much as his Gentile brothers in Christ, for he said he could almost sell his soul for them in Romans 9. I understand that this is a very complex subject, but I would like to hear a little clarification.
James, thanks for the question. There is absolutely no problem with birds of a feather flocking together. There is a problem when that natural affection outranks your loyalty to Christ. So a Pole who loves Christ is a closer brother to me than an American who hates Him. In short, the universality of the church introduces a necessary cosmopolitan and catholic element into any regional or ethnic attachments.
Holding Heavenly Happiness Hostage (4H!)
This is not in response to a specific post but in response to just having read your Mere Fundamentalism. With regard to rewards in heaven, I get that we will rejoice with all and be envious of none but that got me thinking of something you didn’t address in that short book. What of those who went before us that we looked forward to being with forever that are not there?
Timothy, good question. Lewis points out in The Great Divorce that the damned are not going to be allowed to hold hostage the happiness of the redeemed. Their misery is ultimately self-inflicted, and will be seen as such by all. One of the things that rattled Charles Spurgeon before his conversation was the fact that his mother said that he had had a Christian upbringing, and had had the gospel presented to him, and that if he were finally lost, when the day of judgment came and God pronounced the fatal sentence, depart from me, his mother would be standing there, and she would be saying amen.
A Republic, not a Democracy
There is probably no single reason for why the republic is diseased, but here’s a pretty big one that you missed: Conservatives love anti-democratic institutions like the electoral college and the two-senator-per-state-regardless-of-population rule because conservatives know that anti-democratic institutions are the only thing standing between them and single payer health care. But one side-effect of anti-democratic institutions is that politicians are no longer responsible to the voters. So long as majority opinion is simply irrelevant to election outcomes, there is no political incentive to heal the disease. That’s part of the reason we now have multi-trillion-dollar deficits: Under our current system, red state Republicans can still bring lots of pork home to the district while paying no political price for the deficits that follow. Now, I’m not saying that getting rid of those anti-democratic institutions would be a panacea that would fix everything. What I am saying is that this is a case of pick your poison. Our political dysfunction stems in large part from the fact that anti-democratic institutions shield the GOP from accountability to the voters, and this is the result. It may be that in the scheme of things, that’s still preferable to single payer health care. But if that’s the policy choice, then be aware of the nasty side effects that follow.
Mike, you are partly right. I love the Electoral College, and thank God for it. I love the fact that Texas gets two senators and Rhode Island gets two. But this is not our disease—rather, it is residual health from our Founding. I wish we could go back and eliminate the direct election of senators, and have them chosen by the state legislatures again. At the Founding, we were a republic, not a democracy. We needed a democratic element (the House of Representatives), like any good zoo needs a monkey house, but who wants the whole thing to be a monkey house? Not me.
A Question About Short Accounts
On Keeping Your Marriage from Being Troubled. I’m not married, but I’m interested in learning as much as I can before that happens so that my marriage will be as godly as possible. I appreciate the wisdom of your “fix it now” approach to bumps, and want to apply the concept as much as possible, but I sometimes need to get away from such conflicts for a while before I can revisit them with a right response. Both the realization of my own sin and of others’ sin frequently takes at least a little time, as I’m emphatically not a quick thinker. I’m sure that I can improve with practice, but shouldn’t there be some wiggle room for situations that may be a little more difficult to figure out?
Liv, there is always room for a detailed discussion later, after the immediate challenge is over. But the sin element—the anger part, the annoyance part, the biting remark part—that doesn’t require any time at all. So just leaving to walk around the block is never appropriate. But it would be appropriate to say, “Honey, please forgive me for snapping at you. That was wrong, please forgive me. We can talk later about where that came from after I sort it out in my head. But until then, I had no right to speak to you in that way.”
Your “Letter to a Trapped Husband” startled me a bit. I wasn’t expecting the advice to move out. But I guess it’s a type of “constructive desertion,” which was a move abuse victims (including my mother) used to make back in the days when you actually had to have a reason for divorce. I still have a couple of follow-up questions, though: 1) How might the advice have differed if there were little kids in the picture? 2) I’m not sure I grasp what exactly is the lie he’s been telling her. Is it something along the lines of “It’s OK for a wife to behave like you’ve been behaving?”
Kyriosity, yes. I would only recommend a move like that when there are no other options, and it is being done in a last ditch attempt to save the marriage. And you are right—the advice would be very different if there were littles involved. And yes, the lie he is telling is that her behavior is not outlandish when in fact it is.