Archive | Culture

Apostasy and Pastoral Preparation for the Conflict Ahead

David French has an insightful column analyzing the apostasy of yet another Christian celebrity. French writes:

As our culture changes, secularizes, and grows less tolerant of Christian orthodoxy, I’m noticing a pattern in many of the people who fall away (again, only Sampson knows his heart): They’re retreating from faith not because they’re ignorant of its key tenets and lack the necessary intellectual, theological depth but rather because the adversity of adherence to increasingly countercultural doctrine grows too great.

Put another way, the failure of the church isn’t so much of catechesis but of fortification — of building the pure moral courage and resolve to live your faith in the face of cultural headwinds.

French is certainly correct that people are falling away in large part due to a failure of moral courage. There is no question about that. Nevertheless, I would take exception with one part of his analysis. When it comes to “catechesis” versus “fortification,” it’s actually not an either/or but a both/and. There are lots of churches failing at catechesis, and there are lots that are failing at preparing people for the cost of discipleship. Both of these things are happening all at once all across evangelicalism. Continue Reading →

Ten Thoughts about the “Billy Graham Rule”

Earlier today, I saw an interview on CNN about a Christian politician who practices the “Billy Graham Rule” (watch above). It is an awkward interview to watch, but it illustrates the cost to men and women who are making a good-faith effort to avoid compromising situations. This is by no means everything that can or should be said about the so-called “Billy Graham Rule.” Nevertheless, I thought I would update something I wrote previously on this topic. I personally believe that the rule is wise and ought to be pursued with rigor by Christians who are serious about holiness and witness. So in that spirit, here are ten brief reflections on this particular discipline: Continue Reading →

The Anti-Science Propaganda of Transgender Activists

Dr. Allan Josephson is a research psychiatrist who led the department at the University of Louisville from 2003 onward. In 2017, Dr. Josephson appeared on a panel about gender dysphoria in which he warned against the rush to diagnose children with gender dysphoria and then to prescribe hormones and surgeries as treatment.

As a result of this, the University of Louisville demoted and then fired him. Why? Not for scientific reasons. His scientific credentials and research are impeccable. They fired him because his research did not support the rush to diagnose and to prescribe mutilating surgeries for children.

Madeleine Kearns has an interview with Dr. Josephson that explains the whole shameful ordeal. Dr. Josephson explains why he has chosen to speak up about what mental health professionals are doing to gender confused children with these treatments: Continue Reading →

Amazon bans books on “conversion therapy”

I am a Christian. I hold to what Christians have always believed about sexuality—that the only legitimate context for sexual activity is between one man and one woman in the covenant of marriage. Any other kind of sexual activity—including the homosexual kind—is against God’s design for His creation and is prohibited by scripture. I also believe that we are all sexual sinners of some sort. 

Nevetheless, I affirm that the grace of God in Christ gives both merciful pardon and transforming power, and that this pardon and power enable a follower of Jesus to put to death sinful desires and to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord. I deny that the grace of God in Christ is insufficient to forgive all sexual sins and to give power for holiness to every believer who feels drawn into sexual sin.

This is all standard fare Christian doctrine. It is the unbroken testimony of the Christian church for its entire 2,000-year history. And I think—if I understand this news story correctly—it is a perspective that Amazon has banned (or is about to ban) from the books that it sells on its site. Let me explain. Continue Reading →

How a Christian Patriot Might Love His Wayward Country

I love G. K. Chesterton’s reflections on what it means to be a Christian patriot. If you have never read it, I encourage you to read “The Flag of the World” in his classic work Orthodoxy. Chesterton contends that love of one’s homeland is not like house-hunting—an experience in which you weigh the pros and cons of a place and choose accordingly. He writes:

A man belongs to this world before he begins to ask if it is nice to belong to it. He has fought for the flag, and often won heroic victories for the flag long before he has ever enlisted. To put shortly what seems the essential matter, he has a loyalty long before he has any admiration.

We do not choose our homeland. It is something that we are born into. Thus our acceptance of our home is not like a house that we can leave when we tire of it. It is like the love we have for our family: Continue Reading →

LGBT Pride Month as Religious Observance

Joe Carter has a really important article about LGBT Pride Month as a religious observance. You need to read the whole thing, but here is the heart of it:

Because the LGBT agenda of normalizing homosexuality and transgenderism conflicts with Christianity (at least in its non-apostate forms), to “eliminate prejudice” requires anathematizing the beliefs of Bible-believing Christians. In the future the celebration of LGBT views will likely be compelled. But for now, every American is simply required to choose a side.

This is why LGBT Pride Month is also, as my colleague Betsy Howard says, a form of Passover. In the original Passover, the Israelites put the blood of a lamb on the doorposts so that God would “pass over” their house and not bring judgment upon the people within (Ex, 12:7-13). Today, the American people fly a rainbow flag, wear an “ally” pin, or change their social media avatars to show they observe LGBT Pride Month. In doing so, they show they’ve bent the knee to the LGBT cause and will not incur their wrath that will be poured out those who are not “affirming.”

We should expect such submissive behavior from corporations, who have uncritically adopted “woke capitalism.” We can also expect it from government agencies, such as U.S. embassies, since they are often overseen by LGBT-affirming presidents, like Clinton, Obama, and Trump. Corporations and governments can be absolved for showing their support for anti-Christian causes. But what excuse do Christians have?

Why do so many professed believers adopt a symbol that shows the world they are opposed to God’s Word? And why do we overlook such displays of idolatry by those who claim to be both LGBT “allies” and our brothers and sisters in Christ?

Seriously, read the whole thing. The most disconcerting thing about Pride month is not that unbelievers are acting like unbelievers. That is no surprise. The most unsettling aspect of all this is how many professed Christians are accommodating themselves to this idolatry. They fly the rainbow flag in their yard or on their car or Facebook profile. It is as if they don’t understand that following Christ cannot be reconciled with celebrating sexual immorality, that there is no fellowship between light and darkness (2 Cor. 6:14).

Joe’s final question is the correct one. I hope believers who are teetering on the brink of LGBT affirmation with soberly consider it. He writes:

We do not love our neighbor when we tell they can continue to engage in unrepentant rebellion against God. We cannot continue with the “go along to get along” mentality that is leading those we claim to love to destruction. If we truly love our LGBT neighbors, we must speak the Word of God with boldness (Acts 4:31). We may have to accept the fact that those who have fallen away may not ever return, but we shouldn’t lead them to hell because we are too craven to tell them the gospel requires repentance.

We must choose whom we will serve. Will we love our neighbors and stand with the only wise God, or will we hate our LGBT friends by allying with the foolish idol-makers of LGBT Pride Month?

That is the question that no Christian can hide from.

Critical Theory, Social Justice, and Christianity: Are They Compatible?

Neil Shenvi is a scientist with a Ph.D. in theoretical chemistry from Berkley, but in recent years he has become a budding Christian apologist. He is a member of The Summit Church in Durham, North Carolina (where JD Greear is pastor) and has been putting out some really insightful, accessible material critiquing critical theory and social justice.

At a conference earlier this year, he delivered a message titled “Critical Theory, Social Justice, and Christianity: Are They Compatible?” Shenvi shows that critical theory (along with its larger social justice project) is an alternative worldview that is incompatible with Christianity. It is really well done, thorough, and devastating to the claims of critical theory. Continue Reading →

A Primer on and Critique of the term “Whiteness”

Neil Shenvi has a helpful article explaining the meaning of the term “whiteness” within critical race theory and how it differs from common usage. That difference causes big time problems. From Shenvi’s conclusion:

Exploring the historical conception of ‘whiteness’ and its connection to racism is a worthwhile subject. At one point, it did indeed connote or at least suggest “membership in the superior racial caste.” However, few if any Americans today would endorse that understanding. Consequently, the antiracist is taking a morally neutral term and using it to express a deeply evil concept. That’s a recipe for disaster.

Of course, in principle, we are free to define terms however we want as long as we’re consistent. But the goal of language is effective communication. If I insist on defining “moron” to mean “French hockey player,” I shouldn’t be surprised if a roomful of French hockey players is offended by my definition! We should choose words that convey our meaning as clearly as possible and -as Christians- as charitably as possible.

To minimize the possibility of misunderstanding, a simple solution is available: substitute the phrases “white racial superiority” or “membership in the highest racial caste” for the term ‘whiteness.’ Since these phrases already carry extremely negative connotations (with good reason!), the antiracist runs no risk in confusing their hearers.

This is a helpful article. Read the rest here.

Last year, I read Richard Delgado’s and Jean Stefanic’s Critical Race Theory: An Introduction, and I noticed some of the same problems of usage. “Whiteness” is used to refer to a hegemonic social construct, but it is also used right alongside the term “white” as a racial category. Sometimes it is unclear whether Delgado and Stefanic are criticizing whiteness or people with white skin. For example:

Many critical race theorists and social scientists hold that racism is pervasive, systemic, and deeply ingrained. If we take this perspective, then no white member of society seems quite so innocent. The interplay of meanings that one attaches to race; the stereotypes one holds of other people; the standards of looks, appearance, and beauty; and the need to guard one’s own position all powerfully determine one’s perspective. Indeed, one aspect of whiteness, according to some scholars, is its ability to seem perspectiveless or transparent (p. 91, underline mine).

Delgado and Stefanic obviously employ “white” to refer to skin color in the first instance. While the later use of “whiteness” would seem to be referring to a hegemonic social construct, it is unclear if that is all that it means. Is “whiteness” only referring to a social construct in the second instance? Delgado and Stefanic have just said that “no white member of society seems quite so innocent.” That seems to suggest that all people with white skin to some degree share in the culpability of whiteness as a social construct. If that is the case, doesn’t whiteness implicate all people with white skin?

In any case, this terminology can be very confusing at best and positively divisive at worst. I think Shenvi’s suggestions for speaking more clearly would do a great deal in providing clarity to our conversations about these sensitive issues.

Modesty and “The Legging Problem”

Maryann White is the mother of a Notre Dame student, and last week she penned an Op-Ed for the Notre Dame campus newspaper titled “The Legging Problem.” The basic thrust of White’s article is a complaint against immodesty among women. In particular, she has a problem with the legging trend. She writes:

I’m not trying to insult anyone or infringe upon anyone’s rights. I’m just a Catholic mother of four sons with a problem that only girls can solve: leggings.

The emergence of leggings as pants some years ago baffled me. They’re such an unforgiving garment. Last fall, they obtruded painfully on my landscape. I was at Mass at the Basilica with my family. In front of us was a group of young women, all wearing very snug-fitting leggings and all wearing short-waisted tops (so that the lower body was uncovered except for the leggings). Some of them truly looked as though the leggings had been painted on them…

I was ashamed for the young women at Mass. I thought of all the other men around and behind us who couldn’t help but see their behinds. My sons know better than to ogle a woman’s body — certainly when I’m around (and hopefully, also when I’m not). They didn’t stare, and they didn’t comment afterwards. But you couldn’t help but see those blackly naked rear ends. I didn’t want to see them — but they were unavoidable. How much more difficult for young guys to ignore them.

As you can imagine, the students at Notre Dame did not appreciate this Op-Ed. Some students protested the Op-Ed by organizing a “Love Your Leggings Day” for the campus last Tuesday. The Washington Post reports:

A student group, Irish 4 Reproductive Health, similarly declared Tuesday to be “Leggings Pride Day.” On Facebook, the group explained that White’s letter, although well-intentioned, “perpetuates a narrative central to rape culture” by implying that women’s clothing choices are to blame for men’s inappropriate behavior.

Wow. Rape culture? This mother’s simple plea for modesty is supposed to be viewed as advancing rape culture? To be sure, there are lecherous men in the world who are more than willing to blame their evil behavior on how women dress. We can recognize that any such insinuation is a moral dodge and must be repudiated. The sinner has himself to blame for evil choices that he makes, and he cannot rightly blame anyone else for what is his own fault.

Having said that, it is really problematic and sloppy to equate modesty with rape culture. Albert Mohler discussed this on The Briefing this morning and said this:

Illegitimate is the argument that concern for modesty is simply part of that shame culture, that talk of modesty is just a way of shaming females. That is not a legitimate argument. The Bible makes clear it’s not a legitimate argument. The Bible makes clear why we wear coverings for those private parts in the first place. Then the question is, “As we extend from that to appropriate clothing, what would that look like?”…

Wearing clothing that directs attention to those private parts rather than away from those private parts is inherently problematic. It is by biblical definition, whether male or female, immodest. One final thought about this for Christians, one of our responsibilities to one another as brothers and sisters in Christ is to encourage one another to holiness. Everything we do, including our choice of clothing, but including everything else should at the very least be judged by that standard.

I couldn’t agree more. Modesty is not “rape culture.” The way in which we choose to adorn ourselves is morally implicated. In fact, modesty is a part of biblical virtue (1 Tim. 2:9). Kevin DeYoung elaborates:

Modesty operates with the Bible’s negative assessment of public nudity post-Fall. From Adam and Eve scrambling for fig leaves (Gen. 3:10), to the dishonorable nakedness of Noah (Gen. 9:21), to the embarrassingly exposed buttocks of David’s men (2 Sam. 10:4), the Bible knows we inhabit a fallen world in which certain aspects of our bodily selves are meant to be hidden. Indeed, this is precisely what Paul presumes when he speaks of “our unpresentable parts” which must be “treated with greater modesty” (1 Cor. 12:23). There’s a reason momma called them private parts…

Modesty demonstrates to others that we have more important things to offer than good looks and sex appeal. The point of 1 Timothy 2:9 and 1 Peter 3:3-4 is not an absolute prohibition against trying to look nice. The prohibition is against trying so very hard to look good in all the ways that are so relatively unimportant. The question asked of women in these verses–and it certainly applies to men as well–is this: will you grab people’s attention with hair and jewelry and sexy clothes or will your presence in the room be unmistakable because of your Christlike character? Immodest dress tells the world, “I’m not sure I have anything more to offer than this. What you see is really all you get”…

If the Bible is to be believed, this whole business of modesty is not irrelevant to Christian discipleship. Our bodies have been bought with a price. Therefore glorify God with your body (1 Cor. 6:20). Which means we don’t show everyone everything we might think is worth seeing. And it means we won’t be embarrassed to keep most private those things that are most precious. Shame is a powerful category, in the Bible and in our own day.  The key is knowing what things we should actually be ashamed of.

Amen.

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(You can listen to the rest of Albert Mohler’s commentary below or download the audio here.)

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