Recently, I have seen a plethora of silly articles about patriarchy, cis-gendered masculinity, oppressive gender identity and the like. Granted, men can be monsters — just like women. Biologically, they have a predisposition to violence that is directly related to the presence of testosterone which is what causes dominance and aggressiveness. But that does not mean that all men or even most men are Neanderthalish barbarians. It means that we need to recognize the differences in roles between men and women and it also means we need to lay off the millennial sport of bashing men and masculinity.
I believe that it is a good thing to be a man. God created men physically, chemically, biologically and spiritually to lead, protect, advance and demonstrate strength. To be otherwise is unnatural.
I believe that the role of “father” is a sacred role. Good dads aren’t insensitive louts, they aren’t lazy couch potatoes, they live passionately for their wife and children and they work hard to take good care of their family.
I believe that men ought to treat ladies with respect. They should honor them as the treasure that they are. They should watch out for them, protect them, make them feel special. Real men don’t need pornography – it is an insult to the wives, mothers and daughters to indulge in it. Real men treat the women in their life the way that they would want their daughters or mothers or sisters treated. It is tragic, to me, that so many women today have bought into a feminist mentality that precludes accepting the courteous behavior of a gentleman for the act of honor that it is.
I believe that men can love God without being some sort of limp-wristed mama’s boy. God created man in His image. We can have His qualities as part of our character. We aren’t ashamed of our need for a Savior, our devotion to Christ, our submission to the Word of God and if we are – well, then our faith is as phony as our manhood.
I believe that men can be great husbands. We can have the character to remain faithful. We can have the passion to provide romance. We can make a commitment to stay with one woman for our entire life and keep it. We can take care of our wife, help her with the children, support her in her professional endeavors and love her without end. Real men don’t abandon their wives, they don’t hit on the women at work, they don’t ogle cheap women in real life or in advertisement or on screens and they don’t treat their wife poorly. Real men never….as in NEVER raise a hand toward a woman, they don’t act threatening toward a woman and they understand the definition of the word “NO.”
I believe that men can keep commitments. I believe that a man will understand that a man’s word is his honor. A man who will not keep his word or who will not go to the offended when he has been unable to do so has a character problem that he needs to consider. I believe a man should consider his handshake as good as a notarized signature.
I believe that men ought to be hard workers. We sweat, we smell, we work overtime, we have rough hands and we don’t quit until the job is done. Even when we play, we make it like work and usually end up hot, tired, bleeding or dirty. And almost always – hungry.
I believe real men are balanced. We can swing a sledge and cuddle a baby. We can change the oil and put a Band-Aid on a skinned knee. We can fight an enemy and shelter a family with the same arms. We can shout at the stadium or cry before God at the church. We are not one-dimensional.
I believe that men can be great dads. They teach kids how to bait hooks, throw a ball and handle the school bully. Real dad’s wrestle their kids in the living room floor until their mother about has a heart attack and when the kids get up, they are going to ask for more. Real dad’s work extra jobs to help their kids have a better life than they had. Real dad’s may gag at dirty diapers and tickle kids until they cry, but have someone threaten to harm their loved ones and you’ll see a toughness you could never imagine.
So enough of the emphasis on gender fluidity. Enough whining from triggered radical feminists who see every man as some sort of threat to their identity. Enough of the feminization of this generations boys. Embrace your role. Enjoy your uniqueness. Respect the differences. Except your limitations and expand your strengths. If you are a man, it’s a good thing. And if you are woman, it is as well.
Women should not need “safe spaces” away from reasonable masculinity. In fact, masculinity — rightly defined and executed — should BE the Safe Space for those who understand and embrace the reality that equality does not mean uniformity.
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Unless you’ve been under a rock lately, you’ve been seeing a lot about leftist college snowflakes demanding “safe spaces” which block them from hearing words or seeing images that cause them to be “triggered” into fear, discomfort, offense or a sense of alarm. For the majority of sane and reasonable people, this phenomenon has been an easy target for snarky diatribes, lectures about narcissism and comparisons between this generation and the one that, say….stormed the beaches of Normandy, at the same age. Yeah, it’s all a part of the ongoing consequences of the hyper-leftist, post-modern, self-indulgent atmosphere found in the indoctrination centers known as College or University these days.
However, as one who has been in ministry leadership now going into my fourth decade, I would point out something that will make some of my dear readers feel a mite uncomfortable. It has struck me as no small inconsistency that the majority of those howling about the precious petals of tolerance who demand exclusion from intolerant bullies spouting ideas which they don’t affirm or with which they simply disagree are conservative….wait for it….CHRISTIANS (at least on my social media outlets.)
Now why is that a big deal? Because for years, I’ve seen whiny church goers react exactly the same in the church du jours with amazing frequency. “How so”, you might ask. Let me give you a few examples…
- I watched a family (of the fundamentalist variety) huff out of a church service never to return when I quoted (in honest context) a person they considered too liberal – John MacArthur (insert absurd laughter here.)
- A lady once approached me to request that I notify her anytime abortion was going to be discussed at church as it made her feel “uncomfortable.”
- There was the time someone left the church because we did not make announcements that no one should wear cologne, perfume or scented deodorant in a 2,500 seat auditorium because it made them sneeze.
- I was once chewed out by a regular attender because he had to walk from the back of the parking lot because we had reserved a row of parking for guests. (I invited him to find another place to worship and he obliged me…that very morning.)
- We once had five families with loyalties to a particular conservative fundy institution of higher “learning” leave the church simultaneously when we introduced percussion instruments to the church orchestra. (Though the same instrument had been featured frequently in pre-recorded music at that church for years.)
- I’ve known of people who left their church due to Bible version disputes, because someone who spoke was not emphatically “young Earth” and stated that there were other valid interpretations of Genesis 1, when praise team members were allowed to hold microphones (it apparently reminded them of a night club…I wouldn’t know, I’ve never been to a night club), because of the type of tracts made available in the church tract rack, because a politician was allowed to greet the congregation, when a woman was allowed to lead in prayer, because someone raised their hands in worship, because people clapped after a special song, when their child did not win an AWANA award, because they did not get a special number in the annual Christmas production, because they didn’t allow a petition drive about a certain moral issue to be conducted in the lobby, because they didn’t approve of a book that the pastor read, because the pastor cited a Catholic theologian, because a mixed race couple was baptized, due to the discontinuation of a particular ministry (one in which they did not volunteer even), as a result of not receiving a hospital visit (they told no one they were going to be in the hospital), due to a line-item in the budget that they did not like, and honestly….I’m just getting warmed up.
In other words, at the first offense….they would run to their “safe spot” which was anywhere but at that awful church that had dared do, say, feature, stop, start, highlight, quote or some other action with which they disagreed. But in those cases, they weren’t being spoiled narcissists with consumer-Christianity mentalities, they were simply showing “discernment” or “taking a stand”. There’s a theological term of ancient origins that describes those attitudes — Childish.
Are there reasons to be “offended” enough to leave a church. Yes, but they are not myriad. In fact, the fast majority should be attached to a major Bible doctrine. Yeah, deny the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection of Christ, the Blood Atonement, Sola Scriptura/Fide/Gracia/Christos and a handful of others and I’m heading for the exit. But seriously, the offense meter of too many in the Body of Believers is set way over on the “over-sensitive” side.
Unity, Harmony, Peace — are not natural conditions of a fallen creation. If they are to exist, it requires effort. If we put as much effort at fighting for unity as we do in demanding that everything be up to our acceptance levels, we’d have far fewer churches and far healthier ones as well. Scriptures tells us that we are to live peaceably with each other wherever/whenever possible and that was written to believers.
If you don’t disagree with something your pastor or the elders or your Bible Study leader says or does every so often, you probably aren’t listening closely enough or watching them much. Shoot, I look back over my decades of ministry and there are multiple things that I’ve said or done that in hindsight I would do differently, better, more carefully or not at all. Most of the wisdom I currently possess (which isn’t all that much) is primarily due to stupid things I’ve believed or done in the past. NO one is always right (yes, that includes YOU, Donald Trump.)
Just like it appears that many “Millennials” are looking for reasons to have their feelings hurt on college campuses, many within the church are also creating controversies and offense where none really need to exist. It’s OK to disagree with others over minor issues, style, non-doctrinal matters of theology, etc… For pete’s sake, don’t be a child and take your ball (tithe money, attendance, volunteer support or whatever) and bail every time you don’t agree or get your way or the call doesn’t come your direction. Such an attitude of self-absorption and entitlement corrodes and weakens. In as much as our families are strengthened by diversity and through difficulties, so would our churches (and our college campuses and country) if we sort through these issues like grown-ups and quit demanding vacuum-sealed bubbles of faux harmony where we experience the echo-chamber of own personal nonsense. Such actions create intellectually-spindly thinking and a lack of rigorous growth that comes with adversity, dialogue and challenge.
“The latest undercover video shows a Planned Parenthood doctor discussing the ways their lawyers have developed layers to keep them from being caught selling aborted fetal parts. As they pick through remains of an aborted fetus, the doctor says, ‘It’s a baby.’ Later, a medical assistant exclaims, ‘Another boy!’ Those are not problems of ‘tone’ as Cecile Richards, president of the abortion provider stated earlier, those are admissions of truth. They acknowledge the reality that they work so hard to hide. As pressure continues to mount over the content of undercover videos (not to mention a lawsuit claiming they aided a sexual predator in obtaining an abortion for a 13-year-old girl), Planned Parenthood and abortion proponents have resorted to several tactics to survive.
“They’ve threatened/begged journalists not to show the videos. StemExpress, a company mentioned in the videos as one who buys the aborted fetal parts, has sued to block the release of the videos. Yesterday, Planned Parenthood took its website down after it claimed to be hacked. Except, their source coding referred to the landing page as a ‘campaign,’ which makes sense since the hackers kindly left their fund-raising page up and operational. While a group of hackers did claim to get into the site earlier this week, they said they were unable to do anything to the site because it was so ‘terribly configured.’
1). More than 57 million — Since Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in the United States, there have been almost 60 million human lives intentionally ended in the womb.
If Isaiah, Jonah, Jeremiah or Habakkuk were to show up today in the United States preaching their prophetic messages of repentance, rejection of wickedness and transformative action, 90% of the evangelicals would reject them for being divisive, criticize them for being judgmental or harsh or willfully choose to be identified with those they were condemning so as not to be associated with them. With few exceptions, prophetic voices who stand against sin are shouted down by Christians in the United States. We look for more reasons to disagree with them, than agree with their message. We are so desperate to avoid the labels of intolerance or “hatred”, that we are quite willing to remain silent or even join in with the bashing. We give the wicked the benefit of the doubt and rarely do the same for those who are actually in the Family of God. No wonder we have no impact, no influence, no respect and no virtue. The salt has lost its savor.
Sometimes I hate to be right.
A decade ago, I wrote a series of articles on my blog (don’t look for them now, I took them down some time ago) on the problems facing the Christian Colleges largely supported by Independent Baptists. (I was still ensconced in that identity at the time.) It was a serious of 3-4 articles wherein I very pointedly named about a dozen things they would need to change if they were to survive in the coming decade. It created a firestorm. The articles got 10′s of thousands of hits — particularly in cities like Pensacola, Tampa/Clearwater, Greenville, Chattanooga, Springfield, MO, etc… I was informed I was no longer welcome on the campus of one of my alma maters for daring to publicly challenge them. Another one banned faculty and students from accessing my blog. (Such childish reactions, ftr.) Others accused me of being a rabble rouser.
Today, I heard that Clearwater Christian College is closing. This follows recent announcements from Tennessee Temple that this was their last year and they were “merging” with Piedmont (which has largely become an “online” institution) and also Northland International closed its doors. Prior to that, Calvary in Lansdale, PA had closed, as had Spurgeon Baptist Bible and Atlantic Coast Baptist. (Piedmont hoovered up their assets as the last two were closing.) Baptist University died. BJU has been hemorrhaging students in recent years as has Hyles — largely due to various scandals — and most other extreme right institutions affiliated with churches are barely functioning with the possible exceptions of Crown and West Coast which are both church-based colleges which will likely disappear when their founders die off or retire.. There are a handful of tiny ones run by churches, but they have never been credible. Cedarville does well, but they have moved more mainstream with excellent academics and a recent alignment with the SBC. Pensacola can afford to give away its education due to Beka Books, but otherwise would be struggling as they still don’t have credible accreditation. BBC/Clark Summit has changed its name as they struggle to find their niche and BBC/Springfield is on life support and I predict they’ll be one of the next 2-3 to close. Boston Baptist and Davis are about as small as a school can get before it collapses without outside support. Liberty has sucked the life out of most evangelical schools as they have developed a world-class campus and a national student body base with nearly 100,000 students. Ironically, some of these schools once had robust student bodies numbers in the thousands at their peak. (BJU/TTU/BBC-Springfield had 4,000+, HAC had nearly 3,000. BBC/CS had around 1,000.)
Years ago, I noted that if these schools wanted to survive they had to start thinking regionally, instead of nationally as Liberty and Cedarville took over the national market. I wrote that the right-wing schools had to get over the fixations with music styles, Bible versions, affiliations/associations, the hyper restrictive dating and dress rules, the lack of academic freedom, the incestuous over-hiring of alumni and over-control by alumni. They had to stop their foolish disparaging of any form of accreditation or their students would leave for more credible institutions. I was right. They refused. Called me a liberal and compromiser. They disparaged my ministry — PCC refused to allow us to recruit faculty from them and the Sword of the Lord magazine did a two-part series trashing my church, me and a conference we hosted.
I wish they had listened. Now it’s too late. As has been the case with many fundamentalists I know, if they can’t control something, they’d prefer to kill it. In their mind, they won by losing. It’s really sad, if not pathetic. I was right. I wish this time I hadn’t been.
I’ll probably write more on this in a few days. Stay tuned.
This post is a reprint of an article by Dr. Charles Wood of South Bend, IN. He has been my friend, mentor, father figure and confidant for many years. His wisdom gained from a long life well lived is a constant inspiration to me. You can get a daily missive from him by writing him at LORCHUCK@aol.com and asking to be on his mailing list. You’ll be blessed if you do it!
“We’re all vulnerable. Everyone who walks in the church door can be helped or hurt in what happens during the next hour. Whether saint or sinner, preacher or pew-sitter, old-timer or newcomer, child or geezer, everyone is vulnerable and should be treated respectfully, faithfully, carefully. No one, however, in the church family is more vulnerable than the pastor’s wife. She is the key figure in the life of the pastor and plays the biggest role in his success or failure….And yet, many churches treat her as an unpaid employee, an uncalled assistant pastor, an always-available office volunteer, a biblical expert and a psychological whiz. She is almost always a reliable helper as well as an under-appreciated servant. You might not think so, but she is the most vulnerable person in the building. That is to say, she is the single most likely person to become the victim of malicious gossip, sneaky innuendo, impossible expectations and pastoral frustrations.
“The pastor’s wife can be hurt in a hundred ways – through attacks on her husband, her children, herself. Her pain is magnified by one great reality: She cannot fight back. She cannot give a certain member a piece of her mind for criticizing the pastor’s children, cannot straighten out the deacon who is making life miserable for her husband, cannot stand up to the finance committee who, once again, failed to approve a needed raise, or the building and grounds committee that postponed repair work on the pastorium [Does anyone have a “parsonage” anymore?]. She has to take it in silence, most of the time. It takes the best Christian in the church to be a pastor’s wife and pull it off. And that’s the problem: In most cases, she’s pretty much the same kind of Christian as everyone else. When the enemy attacks, she bleeds. The pastor’s wife has no say-so in how the church is run and receives no pay, yet she has a lot to do with whether her husband gets called to that church and succeeds once he arrives. That’s why I counsel pastors to include with their resume a photo of their family. The search committee will want to see the entire family, particularly the pastor’s wife, and will try to envision whether they would “fit” in “our” church.
“The pastor’s wife occupies no official position, was not the object of a church vote, and gives no regular reports to the congregation on anything. And yet, no one person in the church is more influential in making the pastor a success—or a resounding failure—than she. She is the object of a world of expectations …She is expected to dress modestly and attractively, well enough but not overly ornate. She is expected to be the perfect mother, raising disciplined children who are models of well-behaved offspring for the other families, to be her husband’s biggest supporter and prayer warrior, and to attend all the church functions faithfully and, of course, bring a great casserole. Since her husband is subject to being called away from home at all hours, she is expected to understand this and have worked it out with the Lord from the time of her marriage – if not from the moment of her salvation – and to have no problem with it. If she complains about his being called out, she can expect no sympathy from the members. If she does voice her frustrations, what she hears is, ‘This is why we pay him the big salary,’ and ‘Well, you married a preacher; what did you expect?’ She is expected to run her household well on the limited funds the church can pay and keep her family looking like a million bucks. And those are just for starters! The pastor’s children likewise suffer in silence as they share their daddy with hundreds of church members, each of whom feel they own a piece of him, and can do little about it. (But, that’s another article.)
What do we owe to the pastor’s wife …
1. We owe her the right to be herself. She is our sister in Christ and accountable to Him. My wife was blessed to have followed pastors’ wives who cut their own path. So, in some churches, Margaret taught Sunday School and came to the woman’s missionary meetings. In other churches, she directed the drama team and ran television cameras. A few times, she held weekday jobs while raising three pretty terrific kids. And, as far as I know, the churches were always supportive and understanding. We were blessed.
Allow the pastor’s wife to serve in whatever areas she’s gifted in. Allow her to try different things, and to grow. But do not put your expectations on her, if at all possible. Do not try to tell her how to raise her children. Do not try to get to her husband through her with your messages or (ahem) helpful suggestions.
2. We owe her our love and gratitude. She has a one-of-a-kind role in the congregation, which makes her essential to the church’s well-being. Recently, as I was finishing a weekend of ministry at a church in central Alabama and about to drive the 300 miles back home, a member said, ‘Please thank your wife for sharing you with us this weekend. I know your leaving is hard on her.’ How sensitive – and how true, I thought. That person had no idea that my wife underwent surgery two weeks earlier, and I had been her nurse ever since, and that in my absence, my son and his family were taking care of her, and that I was now about to rush home to relieve them. Church members have no clue – and no way of knowing – regarding the pressures inside the pastor’s family, and should not investigate to find out. What they should do is love the wife and children and show them appreciation at every opportunity.
3. We owe her our love and prayers. While the Father alone knows her heart, the pastor may be the only human who knows her burdens. Pray for her by name on a regular basis. Then, leave it to the Lord to answer those prayers however He chooses. If we believe that the Living God is our Lord and Savior and that He hears our prayers, we should be lifting to Him these whose lives are given in service for Him. Ask the Father for His protection upon the pastor’s wife and children – for their health, for their safety from all harm, and for Him to shield them from evil people. Pray for His provisions for all their needs, and for the church to do well in providing for them. Pray for the pastor’s relationship with his wife. If their private life is healthy, the congregation’s shepherd is far better prepared for everything he will be asked to do.
4. We owe her our responsible care. What does she need? Do they need a babysitter for a date night? Do they need some finances for an upcoming trip? If they are attending the state assembly or the annual meeting of the denomination, are the funds provided by the church budget adequate or do they need more? Is the wife going with the pastor? (She should be encouraged to do so, if possible.) Ask the Holy Spirit what the pastor’s wife (and/or the pastor’s entire family) needs, and if it’s something you an do, do it. If it’s too huge, rally the troops.
5. We owe it to the pastor and his wife to speak up. Sometimes, they need a friend to take their side. If your pastor’s wife has a ministry in the church, look for people to criticize her for: a) dominating others, b) neglecting her home or c) running the whole show. To some, she cannot do anything right. You be the one to voice appreciation for her talents and abilities, her love for the Lord, and her particular skills that make this ministry work. Imagine yourself standing in a church business meeting to mention something the pastor’s wife did that blessed someone, that made a difference, that glorified the Lord. Imagine yourself planning in advance what you will say, asking the moderator (who is frequently the pastor) for a moment for ‘a personal privilege,’ without telling him in advance. And, imagine yourself informing a couple of your best friends what you are planning to do, so they can be prepared to stand up ‘spontaneously’ and begin the ovation. (Hey, sometimes our people have to be taught to do these things!) The typical reaction most church members give when someone is criticizing the pastor’s wife is silence. But you speak up. Take up for her. Praise God for her willingness to get involved, to not sit at home in silence, but to support her husband and bless the church.
6. We owe them protection for the pastor’s off-days and vacations. After my third pastorate, I joined the staff of the great First Baptist Church of Jackson, Miss., and quickly made an outstanding discovery. The personnel policies stipulated that the church office would be closed on Saturdays and the ministers were expected to enjoy the day with their families. Furthermore, when the church gave a minister several weeks of vacation, it was understood at least two full weeks of it would be spent with the family in rest and recreation and not in ministry somewhere. As one who took off-days reluctantly and would not allow myself to relax and rest during vacations, I needed this to be spelled out in official policy. When a pastor is being interviewed for the position and when he is new, he should make plain that his off-days are sacred. The ministerial and office staffs can see that he is protected. The lay leadership can make sure the congregation knows this time is just as holy to the Lord as the time he spends in the office, the hospitals or even the pulpit.
7. We owe them the same thing we owe the Lord: faithful obedience to Christ. Pastors will tell you in a heartbeat that the best gift anyone can give them is just to live the Christian life faithfully. When our members do that – when they live like Jesus and strive to know Him better, to love one another, to pray and give and serve – ten thousand problems in relationships disappear.
“Finally, a word to the pastor’s wife …It’s my observation that most wives of ministers feel inadequate. They want to do the right thing, to manage their households well and support their husbands, keep a clean house, sometimes accompany him on his ministries, and such, but there are only so many hours in a day and so much strength in this young woman. She feels guilty for being tired, and worries that she is inadequate. The Apostle Paul may have had pastors’ wives in mind when he said, ‘Not that we are adequate to think anything of ourselves, but our adequacy is of God.’ We are inadequate. None of us is worthy or capable of this incredible calling from God. We must abide in Him or nothing about our lives will go right. One thing more, pastor’s wife: Find other wives of ministers and encourage them. The young ones in particular have a hard time of it, with the children, the young husband, the demanding congregation and sometimes, Lord help us, even an outside job. Invite a couple of these women for tea or coffee. Have no agenda other than getting to know one another. See what happens.”
In order to avoid having to answer a bunch of private emails and questions in public about whom I’m supporting for this election, I am posting my endorsements here. Please note that these are my private endorsements and may or may not the opinions of my employers, associates, family or friends. They are mine alone. I’m not super enthusiastic about some of these choices, but have taken in a variety of factors in making my list. Feel free to distribute, use or ignore.
North Carolina Endorsements
Tillis (A vote for Haugh equals a vote for Hagan)
US House of Representatives
District 6 — Neither Candidate
District 8 — Hudson
District 9 — Pittenger
District 12 — Coakley
NC State Senate
District 41 — Tarte
NC State House of Representatives
District 98 — Bradford
District 104 — Dan Bishop
Mecklenburg District Attorney
Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners
At-Large — Carlisle and Zuyus
District 1 – Puckett
District 5 – Ridenhour
District 6 – James
Clerk of Superior Court
NC Supreme Court Chief Justice
NC Supreme Court Associate Justices
NC Court of Appeals Judges
NC Superior Court 26B
NC Superior Court 26
Mecklenburg Tax Referendum
Recently, I was asked to teach at my church, Life Fellowship Church, in the Lake Norman region of metro-Charlotte, NC. We are in the middle of a month-long series called “Home Improvement.” I chose the topic of “Family Discipleship” as found in Deuteronomy 6. The 50-minute talk was transcribed and is now available in addition to the podcast. Here is the introduction to this message:
When I was a kid it was Father Knows Best. I wasn’t watching it when it came on
originally, but I saw the reruns. It was from the 50’s and I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s and you could still see Father Knows Best. I grew up friends with the Cleaver family, Leave it to
Beaver, anyone remember him? And then in the 70’s we got Little House on the Prairie and we had The Brady Bunch. And in those homes, in a variety of ways, we saw reinforced values of what had been parenting and home life for generations in our country.
In the 80’s there was a little bit of a shift that turned into a tsunami of change as to how
we viewed family in popular culture. Some of you grew up and remember The Cosby’s, an
intact family, dealing with the problems of everyday life, with a mom and dad who were engaged in their kids. That was the early 80’s. But by the end of the 80’s we had a show called Married with Children. And that shift was best indicated through the role of the father in the public culture from that time on. You see when you looked at the father in Father Knows Best, even from the title; and then Ward Cleaver
in Leave it to Beaver, and then Michael Landon as he played Mr. Ingles. You had Mike as head of The Brady Bunch’s blended family, and Bill Cosby in his role as Dr. Huxtable. These were men who weren’t perfect, but who led with integrity, doing the best they could.
In the 80’s things shifted and dads became dummies. And whether you are talking about
Married with Children or Roseanne or even today’s, Modern Family, the whole concept of
fatherhood and roles in the home, and how families function in a healthy way, and how they
communicate with each other shifted. Today the communication is rife with sarcasm, rife with bitterness; there is hostility between parents and children, and between husbands and wives. Dad’s a dummy, mom is the smarter one, but you never lift up the role of one by tearing down the role of the other, and that is what our culture seems to have tried to do.
Parenting today is hard. We don’t have the cultural support that we once had. When I
went to Kindergarten, we prayed before we had cookies and milk. We said the Pledge of
Allegiance and we talked about the Ten Commandments and this was in a public school. In the public school in which I grew up, I had the lead part in the Christmas story because I was able to read aloud and I read from the Bible the entire Christmas story. Can you imagine that happening today? It is not going to happen. There would be lawsuits so fast it would make your head spin.
You see there was a day when kids would even come to church with a basic knowledge
of who Adam and Eve was, and who Noah was, and Moses, and the Ten Commandments and
Jesus and the disciples. Those days are gone. When kids come to our Kid Life many times we
have to start from zero. Many times you have to start from zero. The culture has changed. Now the question remains for us, what are we going to do about it? How are we going to address it?
You know today we have this disparity in America between a culture that values family,
that you might see portrayed on a show like Duck Dynasty. On the other extreme we have
young role models who for a period appeared to be rather traditional in their childhood, who
when they grow up celebrate the worst values that any parent might consider for their child. I can’t think of any better example of that than Miley Cyrus. The fact is this, rearing children has never been super easy. The fact is it is hard. But it is not impossible.
For example, consider Noah. Noah raised three sons who were willing to leave
everything behind and to get on a boat because they believed God. You might want to consider the fact that the children of Israel reared their children in order to give them the land that God had promised them for a forty year camping trip. Now that had to be pretty hard. I couldn’t survive a four day camping trip and they were doing it for forty years. You say well those were some success stories and that is true because you know there are no guarantees in parenting. Jacob, who was a man that God had blessed and honoured, had ten of his sons gang up and sell another brother into slavery. Not exactly a father’s proudest moment when he learns of that, is it? You remember Eli, the high priest, and what happened to him. He raised two boys before he raised Samuel. Samuel was the one we remember, but don’t forget his own two sons who ended up being so vile, so anti-God, that God finally killed them. So even among those that loved and pursued God, there is no guarantee that your kids are going to turn out in the way that you pray and desire.
You say, well, it’s bad today; it’s bad in this time in history, and our generation, and in
America, and so forth. Yeah, you are right, this is a tough time to be a parent, but consider the parents of the early church because those parents were rearing their children in a generation where many parents would take their pre-pubescent children to the local pagan temples and allow them to be used as prostitutes in pagan worship. Now we are bad, but we are not quite there yet. And still the early church was able to parent by good Biblical principles in the midst of a culture like that.
So in other words, there is no throwing our hands up and giving up. There is no saying it
can’t be done. There is no acquiescing to the culture that isn’t of a Biblical stance. Parenting
has never been easy.
Let’s consider Miley Cyrus for a little while. Many of you remember those days of Miley Cyrus when she was Hannah Montana, the sweet little gal of Disney fame. And many, many of our young people, and I will even tell you this, even in my house, Miley Cyrus was considered to be ‘safe enough, vanilla enough’ that from time to time the kids could watch her on the Disney channel. That’s something I quite honestly regret now because you see Miley Cyrus didn’t stay young and innocent. She has now become the poster child of a hyper-sexual worldly child star turned adult, all so she could make more money than she had even made with Disney. And this is a girl who is Billy Ray Cyrus’ daughter, his little girl. I have to think if Billy Ray Cyrus loves his little girl, he is heartbroken today. How did she go from Hannah Montana to Miley Cyrus?
Now, here is the fact of the matter; we ought to pray for Miley Cyrus. I think she knows
better. I think she sold her soul to celebrity. And in our culture today celebrity is purchased
through notoriety. I believe there will come a day when Miley Cyrus, I pray so, will wake up
and be embarrassed, or hopefully even ashamed. And maybe at that point, Christ will use her as a spokesperson for the dangers of chasing celebrity. This isn’t about her, it about our culture. She needs our prayers. The fact is there are a lot of parents today who are willing to offer their children on the altar of fame and success and money and Hollywood and Nashville and New York and notoriety, so they can have the perks and privilege that come in this culture with celebrity. And it is heart breaking.
But now let’s look at the other side. On the other hand you have the boys of Duke
Dynasty. And the fact is this, they are plain spoken, they are earthy, they are oblivious at times. They are rather simple, yet they have struck a chord with many of us, many middle American families, who desire relationships over riches, and values over celebrity. Let’s look at a few of their comments and see if you can relate. (Video is shown)
“[Phil Robertson on video] You got old Papaw here being your chaperone. John Luke,
never touch her below the neck until you sign the dotted line.”
[New scene with Phil Robertson on video.] “Hey, are you there? Can you all hear me;
can you all hear me now? Remove it from your head. What, are you all in a trance? What’s on
the video game? Huh? What’s these modern day girls up there you all fool with now, what do
they think about video games, Cole man? Find fast talking women and that will pick up the
slack on you all’s lack of conversation. You all might ought to go by Walmart and pick you up a personality. Reckon? “
[CNN Entertainment Reporter speaking on video] “You know guys, one thing that really
stood out to me as a mom; I mean this couple is definitely doing something right with their five kids. They have three biological and two adopted and they are involved in this orphanage. And these kids have fame, money, everything at their fingertips, and I said how do you keep those kids grounded? How do you keep them from being a Justin Bieber or a Lindsey Lohan? And bottom line, they love family. And their faith is number one. And you look at those kids and go, wow! They’re definitely doing something right.”
And so you see folks like this, and the sad thing is, in many parts of our culture, they are
the freaks. They are the ones we are concerned about. They are almost abnormal. And I just
have to say, if that is abnormal, give it to me. All right? By the way this isn’t about the
Robertson’s or the Duck Dynasty culture, second amendment, and camouflage, any more than it is about Miley Cyrus and Billy Ray and his one famous song, Achy Breaky Heart,’ and all the other things that go on Disney Channel. It is not about that.
But what I am trying to remind us of is that there is a cultural war that is going on and it
involves our families. And if we want parenting advice let’s not go to Billy Ray for sure, and
let’s not go to the Robertson’s. Let’s go to the book of books, and that is the word of God. So
turn with me if you will to Deuteronomy Chapter 6 and we are going to see a little bit here about what God was using for a plan for his children as they reared the next generation.
To read the remainder of this talk, click HERE. A podcast of the talk is also available at www.lifecharlotte.com.