Focus On The Family

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The gleaming golden calf of family idolatry keeps getting bigger and bigger.

Family life center.
Family ties.
All in the family.
In a family way.
Black sheep of the family.
Family that prays together stays together.
How’s the family?
Runs in the family.
Family dinner.
Family car.
Family dog.
A family man.
Nuclear family.
Extended family.
One parent family.
Single parent family.
Family bond.
Family court.
Family vacation.
Family Bible.
Family inheritance.
Family history.
Loving family.
Family plot.
Family fun.
Family holidays.
Family entertainment.
Family room.
Traditional family.
Marriage and family.
Family counseling.
Family tree.
Family values.
Family ministry.
Family life.
Family practice.
Family seating.
Family discount.
Family and Medical Leave Act.
Family Dollar.
The American family.
Family Coalition.
Family medicine.
Working families.
Family First.
Adoptive families.
Family court.
Family reunion.
Family time.
Interfaith family.
Department of Children and Families.
Family violence.
Family jewels.
Family and Social Services Administration.
Department of Family and Protective Services.
Family planning.
Best cities for raising a family.
Family budget.
Family movies.
Family theme park.
Family feud.
Royal family.
Family sitcom.
Family business.
Family leave.
Family seating.
Modern family.
Family Research Council.
Family friendly.
Friends and family.
In a family way.
Family secrets.
Family allowance.
Family inheritance.
Family circle.
Family credit.
Family Income Supplement.
Family name.
Family therapy.
Holy family.
Family restaurant.
Military family.
Church family.
Like one of the family.
Family-size packet of Cornflakes.
Focus On The Family.
Family church.

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Is Mutual Consent A Virtue?

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The concept of mutual consent is tossed around today like it’s one of the Ten Commandments. It’s commonly used in the legal system to free someone from blame or limit their culpability; and is usually associated with something illicit, illegal, or immoral – especially of a sexual nature. What frees a man from the charge of rape? Mutual consent. But is it even biblical? Far from it. Mutual consent is the ultimate affirmation of man’s short-sighted knowledge over God’s eternal wisdom. It holds up the opinions of the majority to represent everything that is good when in fact mutual consent usually represents everything that is evil. By its very nature, it seeks to transform evil into something virtuous.

For instance, gambling is a state-sanctioned legal activity in many parts of the country. Riverboat casinos have become popular vacation destinations, the ideal family get-away wrapped up in a Disney theme park package. They’ve got a pool for the kiddies and free drinks, right? Slot machines are approached with the understanding that money could be lost or money could be gained. A mutual consensus. Actually, it’s just theft cloaked in legal correctness regardless of who “wins.” If the player wins, did he do anything to earn the money? No. If the house wins, did they do anything to earn the money? No. “Though shalt now steal” has been one of the Ten Commandments for a long time. And God condemns theft so harshly that even wishing for something that is not yours is prohibited in the Ten Commandments. “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.” Exodus 20:17. In an ironic twist, some states have legalized gambling as a way to “help the schools.” Anything for the good of the children. Stealing is stealing, whether or not both parties consent or where the money goes. If it went to buy the pope a new Popemobile, it would still be theft. There will always be people not capable of understanding the risks they take, the amount of money they could lose, or the long term consequences of their actions. But just because someone is not capable of understanding mutual consent does not give the government or anyone else keys to their vault. The fact that Christianity is based on sexual ethics becomes clear in such a scenario. When somebody commits an act that is harmful to someone else, mutual consent is never a biblical principle to make it right – regardless of whether one person understood the ramifications or both parties knew what was going on; whether or not one person is guilty of sin or both parties are equally culpable. For example, a good old fashioned duel involves mutual consent. Both parties mutually agree to be killed. In the old days, it absolved a person from murder. But “Though shalt not kill” has always been one of the Ten Commandments. So it’s never been right in the eyes of God. Would you consent to being shot when you least expected it?

The same thing is true of childhood sexual abuse. A child cannot comprehend a sexual relationship or fully appreciate that they are temples of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, they can’t mutually consent to do anything with their bodies, and different children reach that age at different times. It takes more than a “yes” to consent to sex. It takes full awareness. And it’s not possible to give away something you don’t know you own. A child’s world is divided between little and big, child and adult, weak and strong, short and tall, blue and pink. They trust the adults in their lives to take care of them – to feed them, clothe them, protect them; and most importantly, to respect boundaries they don’t even know exists. In child abuse, the guilty party is the person with the knowledge and appreciation of what sex is – oftentimes a family member. Not only do these criminals take something that is not theirs, they shatter the trust a child inherently places in them. The mere idea of mutual consent between child and adult takes mankind’s existence to a level lower than that of animals; proof of the devolution of man, not the evolution of man. It places a burden of guilt and shame, oftentimes in silence, on a child that cannot be rendered accurately with the English language. All of society pays the price – counselors, teachers, doctors, pastors – everyone. The experts on this subject are the ones who have survived such abuse. Instead of turning to academic and bureaucratic “experts,” we would be wise to listen to their advice.

Unfortunately, sins that fall under the umbrella of “mutual consent” are the ones that become big and bold. They move from being tolerated to being nurtured and defended. In a society that glamorizes greed under the guise of mutual consent, it’s no wonder these so called “victimless” crimes become no crimes at all; that what is done under the cover of darkness become boldly proclaimed in the light of day, that what is done in silence is eventually YouTubed and podcasted all over the world in the name of acceptance and tolerance. Apostle Paul understood the connection between the fraud of mutual consent and sexual immorality when he listed them in the same category. “But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints; Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.” Ephesians 5:3-4. Mutual consent in a sexual relationship is a good thing, but only within marriage. There is indeed a right time to do everything and a wrong time to do everything, “a time to every purpose under heaven.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1) It’s our responsibility to understand these times and discern biblical principles from worldly standards; and to take a Christian stand against human trafficking, Sharia law, child abuse, pornography, and exploitation of women. Mutual consent may sound good in a courtroom, but it is no excuse in the eyes of God.

Curtain Time

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We live in a time when everything is defined in terms of processes – multistep, linear, aggregate, sociological, demographic, processes. Scientists hang there hats on them. The theory of evolution and big bang would fall apart without them. In living systems, the process of growth over time appeals to human nature. Babies grow. Trees grow. Mushrooms grow. Some things grow fast. Some things grow slow. We like the comfortable, predictable, measureble assurance of processes. We like to measure children’s growth on height and weight charts. We like to predict the future of investment banking with nice linear regression lines. Couples go through a process of getting to know each other; from casual dating to committed relationships to no strings attached sex to living together. You can choose your five step romance program of choice.

While everything on earth may appear to be a process, spiritual transformations really do happen on a big bang scale. Christ’s death on the cross symbolizes the salvation of man. “Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.” Matt 27:50-51. I think this rent is more significant than we realize. It symbolizes Christ’s death and its sufficiency for the atonement of our sins and is a symbol to us that the way into the Holy of Holies is open to everybody – Jew or Gentile, slave or free – for all time. The curtain did not gradually break away over time or deteriorate. It was not carefully unhooked from the rod and folded up. It was not halfway torn to let only one or two people see the splendor of the Almighty. It was miraculously rent from top to bottom to allow everyone access to Christ, not just the priests. It allows in those at the top echelons of society as well as those at the bottom. Even more profound, it cannot be put back up again.

Marriage is another spiritual transformation on a big bang scale and its consummation symbolizes Christ’s marriage to the church. It too is not a process over time. The veil in the Holy of Holies was torn at precisely the time of Christ’s death, not before and not after. This underscores the importance of timing in human relationships and why God intended for sex to occur at marriage, not before or after. The Bible never speaks of a process on earth to transform a single person into a married person, to step from unknown to known. It happens in the blink of an eye.

Just as marriage symbolizes Christ’s marriage to the church and a holding pattern on earth, celibacy symbolizes the separation of the church from the world and our eternity awaiting in heaven and the supernatural existence of those who remain bethrothed at the feet of Christ. So we have the choice of stepping through the rent in the curtain and taking the route of marriage to heaven or waiting at the rent and for Christ to take us away with him for the ultimate wedding extravaganza.

Family Idolatry And The Dictionary

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Every language has a dictionary. And most people think of definitions as set in stone and definitive as the Bible. No where is this more untrue than in our religious vocabulary. Take love for example. In biblical times, love was defined by agape love – God’s love for man and man’s love for God. Today, love generally means one thing – sex. Making love is as easily understood as making pancakes for breakfast, a feat of mechanics. Beauty is as deep as a tanning bed. But platonic love that transcends the beauty of any individual has been replaced by romantic love, by an undefined system of marriages and hookups not found in the Bible, intermittently legitimized by a church wedding and nuclear family.

Unfortunately, a society with an out of balance platonic/erotic system of interpersonal relationships cannot accurately define many biblical concepts. A society that is so focused on the family cannot comprehend the eternal. A classic example is True Love Waits. First, it communicated to teenagers that true love was represented by a marriage to the right person instead of a relationship with Christ. Second, it communicated to them that love was erotic and all about sex. Third, it told them that they were not loved until they found their true love. Fourth, it told them that waiting was only for teenagers. Fifth, it told them that everybody was destined to be married. Fifth, it put the horse before the carriage by assuming a godly marriage could be done without accepting Christ first. And sixth, it separated the sexual from the spiritual by not including God in the equation. True Love Waits was indeed started by two family men concerned about their daughters not fitting in at school; by family men who did not have the proper insight and balance between the married and unmarried, between the erotic and platonic, between God’s concerns and concerns of this world. Unfortunately, it gave the sexually immoral society we live in more ammunition. It gave them enough straw men to last a lifetime. The headlines were not about waiting for marriage to have sex – but chewing gum, dirty glasses of water, and half eaten chocolate bars. Purity balls became incestuous father and daughter relationships. Even worse, they took boys out of the equation, the ultimate affirmation of sexism. This is what happens when the family is idolized, when parents get a hold of biblical langugage they do not have the insight to define, when they think their priorities and their children’s trump everything in this world.

The families that do have their priorities in order and that can see beyond the erotic concerns of this world need to speak up on these issues – or the word “platonic” will soon be removed from the dictionaries and the word “purity” will become a four letter word. I’m afraid this is a natural result of the ageism, sexism, and marital statusism that is prevalent in churches today. There is nothing biblical about youth groups, family worship centers, Vacation Bible Schools, women’s conferences, pastor and wife teams, or children fitting in at school. All of this and a lot more has presented a warped idea of Christianity to the world and a wrong picture of God’s love. Does something have to be in the Bible to be a good idea? Not necessarily. But good ideas are based on wisdom, not on family comfort. What is your true love? I hope you can see it’s more than wedding planners or engagement rings, more than the ideas of a few misguided men and the worship of their children.

Imagine that your TV preacher of choice announced to the world that he had invented a little battery operated box called “Honest Abe” that glows a green light when someone tells the truth and red when they lie. The good old fashioned Christian virtue of honesty in the palm of your hand. But when the 5 million people that bought it the first day get it home, they discover that Honest Abe only works between people who are first degree kin. I would imagine that a lot of buyers would be happy with that. After all, PaPa Smith just wanted to know if Uncle Earl was telling the truth about that land purchase. Would it be surprising if the very concept of honesty became associated with a box called Honest Abe? Then we would live in a purity culture and honesty culture.

What Is Sex?

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I recently visited Centreville, AL where an F5 tornado leveled the city on May 27th, 1973. I was there that morning and saw the aftermath. Even though I was 12 years old, the images are in my mind like it was yesterday. I didn’t have a camera back then, but I didn’t need one. A photograph could not capture that devastation in a single click of a shutter, could not show the loud rumble as the twister approached the city, could now show such a force as it peeled up asphalt, could not show how something so innocent as the wind could turn into something so destructive, could not show the despair as victims walked around in a daze trying to find their belongings, and could not show the aftermath as the residents set out to rebuild their city.

So it is with sex, something so good and innocent that can be turned into something so destructive and life-altering. As with a tornado, it cannot be understood as a single event in time. It cannot be understood outside the context of voluntary mutual love and lifetime commitment between husband and wife and without understanding how it symbolizes God’s relationship with the church. The highest resolution camera in the world cannot capture that. More importantly, sex cannot be understood without acknowleging God as the creator of everything on heaven and earth and accepting the supernatural mystery of a man and woman becoming one flesh. To understanding the biblical definition of sex, a person must have a personal relationship with Christ.

This gets to the root of the moral dilemma we are facing today. Sex and marriage is being defined by the world, not by Christians. It is being defined by wedding ceremonies, the media, the internet, romance novels, the supreme court, graphic movies, school teachers, video games, etc. And tragically, it has been separated from mutual love between husband and wife in marriage and defined simply in terms of physical pleasure for here and now between two people in a “commited relationship.” Hence, we have an epidemic of childhood sex abuse, incest, rape, homosexuality, fornication, adultery, abortion, pornography, contraception, and on and on. Society today thinks consensual means biblical. There is nothing consensual or loving about childhood sexual abuse or rape. They are some of the the most devastating of all sins, involve many people, and take years – if not a lifetime – to recover from. The Bible is not silent on these issues. “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind. Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.” 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. God does not condemn the victims of these crimes and he does not take away the innocence of their hearts.

While I was revisiting the site of the Centreville tornado, I did take photographs of the rebuilt city – including the First Baptist Church whose steeple was the only thing standing that morning. Actually, there weren’t many visible scars to see, except a commemorative plaque near the courthouse telling the story of that morning. As I was leaving town, I saw a kite flying out in an open field. “That is the definition of wind,” I thought. You have to see a kite to understand what a tornado is, you have to see Wisteria dancing in a gentle breeze, you have to see a sailboat dancing on top of waves. And you have to see an elderly couple married 50+ years rocking in unison on their front porch to understand what sex is.