Category Archives: Parenting and Family Matters

Real Men Don’t Need Safe Spaces, They ARE Safe Spaces

Angry Girl SpaghettiRecently, 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 Angry Feminist On boardneed 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.

Angry DadI 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.

Angry Working ManI 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 Angry Daddyhandle 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.

Angry GuysSo 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.

What the Abortion Industry Does Not Want You to See

I read an interesting blog article today HERE.  Sadly, many people who are “pro-choice/abortion” really do not know the barbarism that is a legal medical abortion.  I challenge you to read how one person responded when faced with the facts.

More importantly, let me show you some images below.

The first is a diagram of what occurs during an abortion.  It is quite horrifying.  But it just a drawing, correct?  I mean, it’s not REALLY a baby and it really is THAT violent, right?  For that reason, there is a second photo.  A photo of a child post-abortion.  Tell me this is not a child.  Tell me that this little person should have no rights.  Tell me that this infanticidal procedure should be constitutionally protected.  Tell me that this is morally acceptable.  If you are intellectually honest and morally just, you can’t.  You. Simply. Can. Not.

 deabortion.jpg

Keep in mind when viewing this next photo that this baby is not yet 23 weeks old as show in the procedure above.  Yet, it is still clearly a baby.

abortion.jpg

Now here’s one final photograph.  You might argue, that what you saw above is not really a human because it’s not viable.  Not viable, you say?  Look below at the little one who was delivered just prior to 23 weeks of gestation.

23weeks.jpg

If these photos offended you, good.  They should.  This is reality.  The truth is ugly.  These photos are important to see just like the photos of bodies stacked at Auschwitz were important.  It is a snapshot of our humanity — or lack of it.  If you were pro-abortion and they offend you, then perhaps there is hope that you might compassionately change your mind.

If not, go back and look at these pictures again and then go take a long look at yourself in the mirror.  Surely, you can see this for yourself.  This is a child.  He or she deserves a chance.

Then promise yourself that if you should ever be in the position that you have an unplanned pregnancy, that you would do the compassionate and loving thing — like the birthmothers of our four children did — let the baby come to term and deliver him or her.  Then let a young couple, who longs to raise a child as their own, take on that responsibility for you.  Should you do that, they will forever be grateful to you.  I know that.  Personally.  For sure.

Choose Life.  You will NEVER regret it.

In the words of the kindly children’s author, Dr. Suess — A person’s a person….no matter how small.

Celebrate the Passages in their Lives

I think of myself as being sentimental, without being a sentimentalist.  If that sounds a bit like double-talk, perhaps it is.  I don’t want to be one of those sappy, teary-eyed parents who commemorate every14-birthday-trip.jpg single milestone in a kid’s life as if it were some gigantic cosmic moment worthy of a request to make time stand still.  At the same time, there are certain moments that I think are worthy of reflection, celebration and commemoration.  What those exact moments might be are perfectly open to debate.

I had a cathartic experience seventeen years ago in Washington, D.C.  I was there taking a summer symposium as I was completing work on my doctorate with Nova University.  Part of my doctoral studies demanded of me a grueling week-long session of seminars and lectures from educators coming from institutions that ran the gamut from Harvard to Cornell to USC and more.  My wife, a “retired” history teacher who loves, (I mean LOVES) Washington, DC, accompanied me with our at-the-time 15-month-old, and then only child.  If I was busy, she was a whirlwind.  Generally she was up before I was – heading off to a museum, tour or site-seeing expedition and would often come in at night after I had been released for the day.  This was pre-cell phone days, so I had no way of keeping up with her, but she was having a blast.

One afternoon, the administrators of the program had mercy on us and gave us the rest of the day off.  Julie and I decided to take a cruise up the Potomac River to Mount Vernon to see George Washington’s estate.  It was a beautiful day for a long, leisurely cruise and the boat wasn’t particularly crowded.  Sitting in the air-conditioning, a young teen-aged boy came by our table and took a particular interest in Nathan, who was just an engaging toddler.  There weren’t any other teens on board and so the boy soon started talking up a streak with us.

During the course of the conversation, I discovered that the boy had just turned thirteen.  He was Jewish.  He was on a trip with his dad who was a big-time lawyer from Los Angeles.  This trip was a gift (turns out a bar mitzvah gift) from his dad upon turning thirteen.  He could chose to go anywhere in the country he wanted to go with his dad.  Oddly, we actually bumped into this kid and his dad twice more during our trip to Washington…something that had almost insurmountable odds of occurring.  Each time, he would come over and “update” us on his trip and his dad would come over as well and we’d engage in some small talk.  I could tell they were having an awesome time.

I vowed that I would do the same with Nathan and any other kids we were to have.

It didn’t take long for the years to roll by and Nathan turned thirteen.  I presented him with a “gift certificate” explaining the trip and giving him “options” and “suggestions.”  At first, he seemed a little non-plussed and I felt disappointed.  But as he began debating where he’d like to go, what all we would do, things we could see, he became more excited and so did I.  He finally chose California.

So I cashed in my frequent flyer miles and polished up my credit card and off we took.  It started off with a bang when we landed in San Diego and got upgraded to a red Camaro convertible for free!  We tore off our shirts and went “cruising” like a couple of rubes – which we were.  (Actually, it worked out quite well for me, I was able to take Nate on the trip of a lifetime and have my own mid-life crisis adventure at the same time.)  We traveled the state from Tijuana to San Diego to LA to Yosemite to San Francisco in eight days.  It was a blast.  We laughed.  We fought.  We hiked.  We goofed off.  We talked.  We debated.  We just had a great father and son time. 

I14-roller-coaster.jpg’m still paying off the credit card bill, I do believe.  Since then, Julie has taken Megan (“coincidentally” their trip was to Washington, DC) and Katie (Cruise around the Caribbean) while I had an incredible trip to the Grand Canyon and Southern California a year and a half ago as we finished the ritual celebration of all four of our kids.   As I look back upon it, I must say that this “rite of passage” trip we enjoyed may well be one of the most important times we ever had together.  The benefits have paid off for years and years as we’ve relived and re-discussed those care-free days together.

I’ve seen other “rites of passage” ideas since then.  I know of one guy who made a scrapbook of letters and counsel for his son.  Another guy I read about had different friends of his meet his son for a long hike during which they took turns passing on advice to him as they walked together.  Yet another idea was a “tribute” dinner where everyone offered “toasts of counsel” to the guest of honor.  I still like the idea I got from that little kid on the boat and his dad the best.  The boy is now in his late thirties and I have no idea whatever became of him.  But a brief interaction with this boy and his dad nearly two decades ago sure did a lot to enrich my relationship with my own children.

Having a rite of passage event or two for any child may be something worthy of consideration.  It’s a great time to talk about values, principles, goals and future plans.  It’sfather-and-son-walking-jpg.jpg also a great time to talk about nothing, just hang out, make a few memories, and pose for a handful of pictures – all of which may bond your relationship for some future moments of stress or trial.

Now two of my kids are out of the nest.  One of them is married to an awesome guy and they will present us with our first grandchild in a few weeks.  My remaining two are in their final years of living under our roof.  A different phase of life for us is just around the country.  At this point, I have more to look back upon than to which I am looking forward in terms of being a parent.  But in my mind, memory and heart, I cherish those days we spent together celebrating the passages of adolescence and young adulthood.

I hope you’ll consider a few planned special trips, days and celebrations as your children grow up and make a plan to transfer spiritual values, family heritage and privileges of maturity as they get closer to the days when they too will be parents traversing the pains and pleasures of rearing children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

Pro-Choice? No. It Really IS a Baby.

1royalbaby.jpgSo what does everyone think about how the world would respond if Prince William and Kate announced tomorrow that due to health issues caused by morning sickness that they have decided to terminate her pregnancy and hope that the next try would be easier on her? (Or perhaps they discovered it was a girl and they really, really wanted a boy as heir?) Would everyone shrug their shoulders and say, “Her body, her choice?” Would they say, “It’s just a clump of cells anyone — you know…a “fetus”.” Would some publicly praise her courage and independence in reaching this decision? Would the “right to choose” remain a solemn declaration of the Pro-Abortion values set?

Nope. Nope. Nope.

There would be outrage! Disgust! Popularity would plummet. You see….everyone sees her “product of conception” as a BABY. Brits have attached their hopes, dreams and aspirations of a future monarch to this “non-person” who is less than three months beyond conception. Countless others await the royal pregnancy from baby bump to the first time he/she is held up to adoring crowds thronging the street in front of Buckingham Palace. While liberals and democrats and misogynists and racists and feminists want the world to think a pre-born child is not a human, not worthy of personhood, not filled with potential, not important enough to be nurtured and loved — thinking people, when faced with the realities of how they would respond should such a scenario transpire, must admit that it is.

 

Indeed. A. Baby.

The Hypocrisy that is “Pro-Choice”

You simply HAVE to take a minute and watch these interviews from the recent Democrat National Convention held in my hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina.  The issue of Abortion is a very important and very personal issue for me and I frankly do not care if someone is offended by my discussion of it from any angle.  This video shows you the lack of intellectual integrity the “pro-choicers” have when it comes to the slaughter of innocent children in their mother’s womb.  It would be humorous were we not talking about racist, xenophobic genocide.

View it HERE.

Here’s a “Must-Read” Article for Parents

john-rosemond.jpgFor years, I’ve read after John Rosemond.  Many try to dismiss him as “old school”, but in truth, he’s one of the best parenting advisors on the scene today.  I highly recommend his books and for years, his weekly parenting article was in our local paper, The Charlotte Observer.  (I quit subscribing years ago as their editorial board is one of the most liberal ever and it just constantly ticked me off with their lack of balance.  I don’t mind reading liberals, I’d just like there to be something of a pretense of hearing both sides from a newspaper.  You get none of that from The Observer.)

Today, I saw an article written on John that I wanted to share with my Whirled Views readers in hopes that you might be introduced to him if you haven’t heard of him and because the article itself has some important, true and thought-provoking content. 

Do yourself a favor and read this article and then go get some of his work.  You’ll be glad you did.

HERE’s the article.

Who Gets to Define “Good Parenting”?

frustratedparent.jpgWithout a doubt, parenting is the hardest job in the world.  You don’t get a practice run.  It’s 24/7/365-for-life.  From the day you bring them home, every day marks just a little less control you have in the lives of your kids.  Parenting will cause you to experience every emotion known to mankind at some point in your journey — both good and bad.  And quite honestly, if you’ve got all the parenting answers, you probably don’t have children. 

The Wisest Man that ever lived (Solomon) wanted to make sure his son was “Blessed for Success”.  That’s what most of the Book of Proverbs is – a Parent’s Guide to making sure our kids are equipped, trained, educated, prepared for the “blessings” that God desires to bestow on those who understand that God has a plan for each and every life.  And yet, many of today’s good parents — even those who follow after the words of this bastian of wisdom, will admit to feeling like they are or have been a complete and total failure as parents from time to time.  So who or what gets to define ‘good parenting’?

spock.jpgI was reared in the age of Dr. Spock.  When I say that to many younger audiences, they nod knowingly to each other and say – “We used to watch the Star Trek movies and reruns when we were growing up also.”  But I’m not talking about THAT Dr. Spock.  I’m referencing Dr. Benjamin Spock, the Pediatrician who wrote a best-selling book on how to rear children.  If Oprah, Dr. Phil and Dr. Oz are our self-help gurus of this generation, Dr. Spock was of his.  His book ranks among the very top sellers of all time. 

Dr. Spock was one of the first advocates of eliminating “spanking” from the arsenal of parentally-inflicted punishments.  Unfortunately for me, my parents apparently skipped that chapter because I do believe that I can recall on at least one occasion when my mother actually spanked me WITH Dr. Spock’s book on Child-Rearing. (Just kidding — she used other things, but not the actual book…that I recall.)  No, while I may have been reared in the “age” of Dr. Spock – my parents did not follow most of the teachings of the good doctor. 

Indeed, I was reared in a rather old-fashioned way.  I was taught to do such archaic things as clean-up my messes and obey my elders and say “yes, ma’am and no sir”.  I wasn’t allowed to hit my sisters, I had to kiss my mom good night and doing household and farm chores was not optional.  I wasn’t allowed to watch “Happy Days” on TV because of the “Fonz”.  I got in trouble from my grandmother one time for saying the word “pregnant” instead of “family way” or “expecting”.  The word “but” was never used unless it was a conjunction and the worst language I ever heard my mother say was “H-E double ‘eck’!”  We were in SS from infancy, I learned all the books of the Bible before I knew my times tables and even my punishment was issued by a wooden dowel stick which she called “the rod” in the Biblical sense of the Word.  I didn’t get dessert if I didn’t eat my veggies, if I got in trouble at school – I learned what trouble REALLY meant when I got home.  Once after spending too much time with some teenage second cousins, I made the foolish mistake of referencing a police officer (in the 60’s) as a “pig” and by the time my father was done with me…well, let’s just say this….every time I even look at bacon, I get a twitch to this day.

good-parenting.jpgBut my how times have changed.  If your child doesn’t have a “Wii” (and I’m not talking about their restroom habits) you’ve denied them a healthy and normal upbringing.  Today’s child needs a personal assistant just to keep up with their schedule of sports events, music lessons, private tutoring and birthday parties.  Not long ago, I read a news story regarding parents who are now questioning the practice of giving birthday parties for 1-year olds that actually had gift registries.  A couple of years ago, many of us read of the family from Boston who were asked to leave an airplane because their 3-year old pitched a 20-minute blood-curdling tantrum and would not be buckled into her seat.  (The parents were considering legal action against the airline and they notified the media looking for sympathy.)  Those of us involved in education understand that more important than a degree in education these days is a degree in law if you are going to be working with children.

I want you to know that I have sympathy for those who are parents in this generation.  Many of today’s parents have good intentions and sincere hearts when it comes to their children.  But frankly, many are overwhelmed with doubts, insecurities, feelings of inadequacy and even fears as they are bombarded with advice, materialism, threats and pressure.  You can’t trust your teacher, priest/pastor, coach or Boy Scout leader if spend too much time reading of the predatory nature of pedophiles and homosexuals that are featured nearly every edition of the local paper or newscast.  The public schools are just one stop short of a warzone in some cities and a sex club in others.  The internet is filled with trolling perverts who want to send your kids free porn, have them send them pictures of themselves and arrange meetings down at the local mall “just to get acquainted.”  Many of us know the top of our child’s head better than their face as we look at them constantly staring at their smartphone texting frantically as if they are trying to call in air support in the middle of firefight in Afghanistan.  It’s a tough world in which to be a parent today and many of us, who are honest, often feel like failures or at least over-whelmed.  At least I know that I have and do.

Some of these issues are unique to this generation and are the direct consequence of where our culture is at this point in time.  Today’s parents have a 50/50 chance that they were not reared in a home defiantchildren.jpgwith both of their biological or adopted parents.  Choices to divorce, have kids out of wedlock and shack up without marriage have consequences — and even if you did it right, at least half of your kids friends have parents who didn’t.   Many of us struggle with a culture that has elevated materialism to the point wherein if you don’t offer your child every new toy, brand-new matching furniture when they arrive from the hospital, a fully-paid-4-year education at an Ivy-League college, vacations to Europe and beyond, designer clothing and a vehicle that has every safety feature found in a Space Shuttle you are somehow a bad parent.  And to make matters worse, Christmas is rolling around yet again!

I want to reassure some of you…

If you let your baby sleep in an open drawer because you couldn’t afford the Babies-r-Us bassinet, but you prayed over them every time you tucked them in, you ARE a good parent.

If you haven’t been able to afford cable TV, a Playstation, private lessons of any kind, and your idea of a vacation is camping in a borrowed tent in your back yard, but you’ve helped your kids learn their memory verses and phonics sounds as you sat at the kitchen table while dirty dishes awaited your attention in the sink – you ARE a good parent.

If your family has to wait until it comes out on video because you don’t want to drop a C-note at the cinema, if your kids wear hand-me-downs and Wal-mart sneakers, if you dining out means you’re good-parenting-tips-150×150.jpgchecking out the dollar menu at Mickey D’s, but you were there to teach your kids how to ride a bike, or you’ve laid on a blanket in the backyard and talked about how God created the stars or you’ve wrestled on the floor with your kids until somebody broke something – you ARE a good parent.

If you feel bad because you didn’t use enough sunscreen on them at the beach, or because you once forgot to pick one of them up at school until they didn’t show up for dinner, or because your idea of mopping the floor involves using your fuzzy bunny slippers to sop up the spilled milk due to the fact that you don’t have enough money to hire a maid because you’re working over-time to pay Christian school tuition bills, but you sacrifice to make sure your kids are in a safe school, with teachers who love them and a curriculum that isn’t going to undercut your family’s values – you ARE a good parent.

And even if, as an adult, they choose to ignore your best efforts and make poor decisions on their own, at least you gave it your best.  An adult child is not necessarily always a reflection on his parents.  I’ve known plenty of kids who thumbed their noses at the good start they had in life, but who rebelled against that foundation.  They broke their parents’ hearts, but each one of us is a free moral agent and “Train Up a Child in the Way He Should Go…” is a proverb, not a promise and a rebellious heart is not always an indictment on a parent who did their best.

parentteen.jpgIn the end, there is no such thing as a “perfect parent” and there is none good, but God.  Don’t let the world force you into it’s mold of “good” or “success” or “failure” with any of its definitions — whether as a parent or a citizen or a business person or just as a human doing their best in a horrifically broken world.

So, if you’ve ever felt like a failure or shed a tear in frustration because your teen has declared you the worst parent in the world for telling them “no” they can’t stay out after 11, or because you won’t let them go to a co-ed sleepover or because you aren’t going to let them date before they are sixteen or because you won’t let them go see a certain movie or because you will not be talked to like you are the family dog or because you won’t let them hang out with someone you know brings out the worst in them – Relax…you’re doing fine…and know this…that sometimes the best that you can do is simply the best that you can do. 

1    My son, do not forget my law,
    But let your heart keep my commands;
2    For length of days and long life
    And peace they will add to you.

3    Let not mercy and truth forsake you;

    Bind them around your neck,

    Write them on the tablet of your heart,

4    And so find favor and high esteem

    In the sight of God and man.

5    Trust in the Lord with all your heart,

    And lean not on your own understanding;

6    In all your ways acknowledge Him,

    And He shall direct your paths.

7    Do not be wise in your own eyes;

    Fear the Lord and depart from evil.

8    It will be health to your flesh,

    And strength to your bones.

9    Honor the Lord with your possessions,

    And with the firstfruits of all your increase;

10    So your barns will be filled with plenty,

    And your vats will overflow with new wine.

Proverbs 3

On Pregnant Teens and Baby Showers — From my Facebook Wall

A few hours ago, I asked the following question on my Facebook wall:

Hypothetical for discussion: You are a pastor. In your church is a young girl age 15 who is very rebellious and doing her “own thing”. She ends up getting pregnant. Abortion is out of the question and she refuses to consider adoption, so she decides to parent. The kids in the youth department want to throw her a big baby shower on a Wednesday night as the due date approaches. As pastor, what do you do? Discuss among yourselves and no breaking the furniture when I’m out of the room.

Within less than 2 hours, well over 100 comments had been posted, arguments started, debate was had, some got upset, others got disgusted, some did the knee-jerk response of “look at these hypocrites” and “judgementalism is alive and well”, etc…  But hopefully EVERY ONE was required to think.  That’s what I do as a professor and having been a pastor, I will tell you that every pastor faces dilemmas like this one many times each year.  It’s a HARD job and someone is ALWAYS mad at you for any decision that you have to make.  Sometimes, it’s good to think of responses before they are presented.

So…at this point, I’m going to offer my thoughts.  No doubt, some will disagree with them and that’s OK.  But don’t just say “you’re wrong!”  And don’t you dare say something like “I feel…”.  As I say in class constantly, “I don’t give a rat’s behind what you feel.  Tell me what you THINK and WHY you think it.”  Preferably, build on Scripture and don’t twist it out of context.  You may be worn out by now and if so, that’s OK.  Please know it wasn’t my intention to drag up old wounds for some or to make anyone feel bad.  This is real life.  I teach graduate students Christian Leadership for Liberty University.  This is what I do for a living and because I love it.  Tough questions, tough choices, tough positions.  Hopefully, in the end, even if you disagree with my position, you won’t be upset with me because of my disposition.  Think Biblically above all else.

So here’s my reply….

I want to thank everyone for participating tonight.  I may be a sadist, but I enjoy exercises like this.  The unexamined life is not worth living according to one philosopher.  Those who have had me in a live-class setting in one of the colleges where I teach or have taught, know that throwing a question like this out into the middle of the class is how I often like to start a class or new section.  Most of us want simple, clear, black and white answers.  Better yet, many of us want someone else to make the tough decisions for us.  That doesn’t work in the real world.  We each have a responsibility to learn to think on our own and to think Biblically – not with just our hearts, but with our heads AND our hearts, but keeping Truth paramount.

As for the question I posed, many of you – if not most of you – were in my opinion grasping onto core Biblical principles including justice, grace, repentance, compassion, confrontation and mercy.  I’d give everyone a passing grade and I thought it was good to see some of you adding caveats and adjusting your perspective as the debate raged on.

I’ve had similar situations in every church and school with which I’ve been affiliated to the one I cited, but none just like this.  Some of the finest people I’ve ever known and that I love dearly made a mistake (both girls and guys) similar to the one of the hypothetical girl and they grew spiritually as they recovered from the consequences of their sin.  Today, the are sweet friends who are making a difference in the life of others.  Their life is not defined by a period of rebellion.  Indeed, their life — like all of ours should be — is a celebration of God’s grace.  Because whether or not they are obvious (like a pregnancy out of wedlock) or not as obvious (like being addicted to porn or alcohol or simply being a critical, bitter, self-righteous shrew) — we all have nasty, disgusting sins in our lives.

And yes,  getting pregnant out of wedlock (or simply having sex out of wedlock) is a sin.  Let’s not candy coat it.  We should not be surprised when humans…aka SINNERS, sin.  (Rom. 3:23, etc…)  I didn’t handle all of the situations perfectly as a pastor, though I tried to handle them sincerely and carefully.  Another note – pastors aren’t perfect and it is a mistake to hold them a standard of perfection OR have an insistence that they always agree with YOUR perspective all the time.  That isn’t going to happen and if you leave your church every time you disagree with something, you’ll be in a new church every week.

But here are my thoughts…

1.      1. The sin occurred while and because the girl was in rebellion.  This cannot be ignored.  This wasn’t a rape.  This was intentional.  Thus, sin has to be confronted.  While some will say that not every sin would be confronted – that is true.  We won’t and can’t know every single sin.  But this sin WAS known and it shouldn’t be ignored simply because we don’t “catch” all the sins.  We are only accountable for what we know.  But Matthew 18 and also Galatians 6 has a formula for confronting sin that begins with the personal visit and concludes as a last result as a corporate action.  The Bible warns us that rebellion is like witchcraft and sorcery – we should not ignore it.  So as soon as the sin was discovered, the process of confrontation that will hopefully lead to repentance and then to restoration needs to occur.  Without that, we start off incorrectly.

2.      2. In my opinion, baby showers and youth groups don’t mix.  That should have been a pretty easy one.  Teenagers can get married and when they do, they need to leave the youth group.  But unless they are married, teens shouldn’t be having sex and they shouldn’t be making babies.  So baby showers and youth groups just don’t mix.  There are some things that the youth need to leave to adults until they have attained sufficient maturity – counseling, marriages, being a deacon/elder and yes….Baby Showers.  If Baby Showers are necessary for anyone – single, married, young, whomever – let the older women of the church sponsor those.  It solves problems before they happen to have that as a policy or standard.

3.      3. Showers are celebrations by design.  I’ve never seen a somber shower.  There are games, refreshments, laughter, balloons, etc…  Offering a party in the middle of the Matthew 18 restoration policy sends the wrong signal and confuses the process.  It shouldn’t happen.  The attention should be on the spiritual healing that is necessary.  Her family should make sure she is getting prenatal care, is physically cared for, etc…  In the absence of a supportive family, then she should be assigned to a church family who should take her in and minister to her – providing that she is engaged in the restoration process.  In my opinion, it would be wrong to honor someone who is in the midst of recovering from a moral failure.  Her soul is more important than her feelings and how she perceives us and whether she is happy and excited.  Let’s focus soberly on the spiritual issues – that’s the foundation.  (Before you get angry and stop reading, let me say that I’m not done yet…hang in there and stay with me.)

4.       4. If she stays in rebellion, then the church and her leadership have no choice but to protect those who might be influenced by her on-going rebellion.  Failing to move toward repentance, she should be formally disciplined by the church ultimately leading to – as a last resort – an excommunication from fellowship.  At that point, the church has no additional obligation to her.  There are private charities and government assistance available to her and above all, her family is obligated to stay involved but also within their terms as the authority/parents.  Some rebellious teens separate themselves from their families intentionally.  Sometimes we have to let them as hard as that may be.  But by choosing to stay in rebellion, after a patient period of exhortation and appeal, she is the one who is walking away from the benefits of grace and support that a church can and should provide.  It is not the church rejecting her – she is rejecting God’s word.  We must see that.  We can’t let our hearts, sloppy agape or a need to be liked and affirmed to overrule truth.

5.       5. If she repents and desires restoration, then this is when grace and mercy and healing can flow and bless her and the church.  She should seek reconciliation first with God, then her family and then the church – all of whom were offended and impacted by sin.  Public sin needs to be dealt with publicly.  What “public” is might well be somewhat impacted by the size of the church also.  Small churches are quite different than mega-churches in terms of how news travels.

6.       6. A shower is for the mother – not the baby.  The baby does not know, nor does she care, if there is a party. So don’t try to make this about celebrating the baby.  We celebrate life – but we should do so wisely and appropriately.  But there are ways to help this young woman prepare for the costs and responsibilities of motherhood.  She needs a Godly mentor if her mother can’t or won’t provide that – so like they did in Titus, she needs to be ministered by an older lady who will love and train and teach her.  I believe, that at a time near the birth, it would then be perfectly acceptable to have some sort of care event at which time other Godly examples  of character and Biblical womanhood come together and break bread, present gifts and most of all – share wisdom.  This can be done in a joyful way without labeling it a “party”, but if it feels like a party, if there is rejoicing over grace and forgiveness and healing — then why not celebrate it?  It should drip with mercy and care and charity.  We rejoice in repentance.  We rejoice in forgiveness.  We rejoice in restoration and second chances.  But we don’t celebrate sin.  And we also guard the hearts of our young, single daughters.  They don’t need to be there.  She is now assuming the responsibilities of an adult.  Let the adults take the lead in ministering to her.

7.       7. Anyone else in the church can, and perhaps should, minister to her through providing resources and supplies.  This communicates love and reconciliation.  That might include her peers in the youth group.  But that should be a family matter.  Let them decide together what is the best response.  In the presence of repentance, we cannot Biblical refuse to help, forgive and restore fellowship.  If we fail to do so, then we are behaving unBiblically and it might be time for another Matthew 18 journey.

8.       8. Do the right thing regardless of politics.  Someone will always be upset.  There are people who are spiritually weak and immature and they will not agree.  Some will want more grace.  Some will want more punishment.  It is not the responsibility of the church to punish the sinner.  The church is to push for repentance, reconciliation and restoration.  God will take care of punishment.  Plus, sin always has consequences.  Both on the guilty and on the innocent.  In the absence of repentance and restoration, the integrity of the church must be guarded and the immature must be protected.  Thus, the unrepentant sinner must be put out.  It’s not an act of retribution.  It’s an act of protection for the church

9.       9. Finally, remember that your pastor and elders are humans, but they hold divinely assigned roles that must be honored.  We don’t have to agree.  We won’t give account to God for the decisions – they will.  It would be wrong to stir dissension, quit church, confront the pastor, etc… simply because we disagree.  If there is a Biblical issue – a CLEAR one – then there is a Biblical process for confronting an elder.  But you’d better be right and you’d better follow the Scripture.  Otherwise, you are quite wrong.  Acknowledge that some others will see it differently than you, but stay committed to Truth and the process.  Let God’s Word stand and let God be God.  Being a pastor is a heavy and solemn responsibility.  Pray for your pastors and elders.

So that’s my 2 cents.  Thanks to all of you who participated.  Feel free to continue the discussion in the comment section below.  If you aren’t a Facebook friend, feel free to friend me and go back and read the debate.  We’ll do this again sometime.

Chivalry Should Not Be Dead — 15 Things a Dad Should Teach His Son

Thanks to the rise of feminism, the decline of masculinity and the neglect of fathers, common courtesies that men used to extend toward women have been largely lost in today’s generation.  I recall clearly a few years ago that I saw a woman moving toward a store door about the same time that I did, so I quickened my pace a bit, grabbed the door handle, pulled it open and stood back so that the lady could pass through first.  She stopped dead in her tracks and glaring at me, said, “I’m quite capable fathers.jpgof opening my own door.”  I just smiled and stood there until she decided that the showdown was going to be a long one and finally stepped through the door without a thanks or an acknowledgment of the courtesy at all.  Frankly, it didn’t bother me all that much as I didn’t figure that the fact that her mother had raised an angry amazon did not negate the fact that my parents hadn’t raised a self-centered clod.

But today, too many young men are being raised in a culture that treats women as sex objects or social equals unworthy of consideration rather than as feminine treasures worthy of courtesy and as a consequence, they really do not know how to demonstrate the chivalrous and confident helpfulness that projects masculine respect and servant leadership.  This failure to groom young men into humble, yet secure initiators of protection and provision leaves women caught in a culture where they are subject to more violence, rudeness and disrespect.

Some chivalrous acts should be a intentionally taught by engaged fathers who want to see a confident courteousness in their sons that communicates safety, deference, leadership and self-confidence.  Here are a few skills that I believe should be included in this training:

1. Standing when a woman enters the room.

2. Offering a woman of any age your seat when all the seats are taken in a room, on public transportation or in any setting where seating is at a premium.

3. Opening the door for a lady.

4. When walking down a sidewalk, the man should walk nearest the street. (This puts the man between traffic and the lady providing an additional layer of safety.)

5. When going down stairs, the man should go down them first.  (In case the lady falls froward, he can catch her or break the fall.)

6. When going up stairs, the man should go up last.  (In case the lady falls backwards, he can catch her or break the fall.)

7. When entering a darkened room or house, the man enters first to make sure everything is safe.

8. When eating at a table, the man should assist the lady with her chair, moving it to the back of her knees fathersonrex_468×560.jpgand slowly sliding it under her as she places her weight on it.

9. Never use crude, course or vulgar language (or profanity) in front of a lady and show respect by not demonstrating any special skills in belching or other scatological talents one may possess.

10. When shaking the hands of a lady, wait for her to extend her hand and then offer yours with a firm and secure grip that is not too tight nor too loose while looking pleasantly in her eyes.

11. If one sees a women carrying a package or anything heavier than a purse, the man should insist on carrying it to her destination.

12. If a woman appears to be cold and you are wearing a coat or jacket, you should offer it to her.

13. When leaving row seating (like in a church or theater), once in the aisle, step back and let the lady emerge from the row.  If you are making your way through a crowd, the man should lead the way while the woman holds his arm.

14. When traveling in a car, upon arriving at a destination, the man should go around the car and open the door and helping the lady if she is leaving a vehicle that is difficult to get out of like a truck or a sports car.

15. If someone is showing rudeness toward a lady in the presence of a man, he should do whatever is necessary (but not more than is necessary) to protect her.

There are certainly more than 15 actions that young men should learn in how they should treat a lady, but this is a good start.  It is also a good idea to train your sons that if a woman doesn’t want to be treated with respect or more-or-less acts like a guy when she is with him, that she likely won’t be the kind of young lady that a man will enjoy being married to over a lifetime and he might want to look for a woman who appreciates it when a man has enough confidence and strength of character to take the lead in a relationship by demonstrating exceptional courtesy and leadership.

Where Have All the Parents Gone?

While driving to work this morning, I heard a news report of legislation introduced in a Northeastern state that would require a medical attendant to be on standby at many summer camps which have campers playing games in which they have the potential to be hurt.  Included in the list of “dangerous” sports was whiffleball and dodgeball.  How about they make a state law that requires parents to put kids in bubble wrap at birth?  Truly ridiculous.

At the other extreme I have been thinking recently about Hollywood parents who are so bent on making their kids dysfunctional-family.jpg“famous” that they expose them to incredible debauchery and conduct that will suck a young soul dry before they ever have the chance to form values.  Among the ones that come to mind are the parents of Angus T. Jones who plays the “half” in Two-and-a-Half Men.  This kid from Texas started acting at age five and for most of his years, has been on the set of the vile sitcom that stars Charlie Sheen and Jon Cryer.  What chance does that kid have of ever embracing an even moderately stable worldview equipped with values and  principles that won’t land you in crazy town as it has with the show’s star?

Almost daily, one can pick up a newspaper or read an internet story that gives a story of some pathetic parent who has been involved in child abuse or neglect.  Every time I hear of such a case, I’m always impacted by the shocking sadness and I am repulsed by the cruelty.

indulgent.jpgIsn’t it ironic, though, that we are so often outraged by example of parents who beat or abuse their kids, who curse at them or don’t take them to get medical attention, who let them live in squalor or leave then unattended for long periods of time?  On the other side, we have some who are so intent in “protecting” the body of the child that they don’t want them to play vigorously for fear that they’ll get hurt or who will sue a school district so that they get picked for a part in the school play or who would legislate away the child’s freedom to enjoy a hotdog, french fries or kool-aid at lunch.

Sadly, between these two extremes, we see many who ignore equally brutal cases of neglect that involve the heart and soul and not just the body and emotions of a child.

How many times have we gone to a mall to find packs of young teens roaming the interior or hanging out in the parking lots with nary an adult in sight.  Our kids disconnect from family dinners, family drives and family walks and plug in to you tube, I-Tunes and Netflix.  I’ve been shocked as a pastor to hear stories of things that have happened at overnight “sleepovers” or Risky Business-style parties in the very homes of intelligent parents who are distracted by other pursuits and who often shrug off egregiously inappropriate (and even wicked) behavior on the part of their children with “what are we going to do?” or “kids these days” expressions.  While living in South Florida a few years ago, I read with horror of a girl who lost her life during breast augmentation surgery which her parents had given to her as a sweet sixteen birthday present!  One recent report revealed that fully 80% of our young teen males have visited or regularly visit pornographic sites via the internet while mom and dad are asleep at the switch.

My question is this,  is it not as equally abusive or neglectful to allow one’s child to be morally or emotionally scarred as it is to physically scar them?  Is a parent who fails to get their child immunized or who lets them eat junk food any worse than the one who allows their child to watch graphic sex and violence on TV or the internet?  Isn’t a parent who signs off on letting their son go to watch “Saw VI” or “Superbad” guilty of a unique level of parental abdication?

Would I not be thought a bad parent if I allowed my ten-year-old to play with my loaded gun?  Should I not be thought a bad parent if I allowed my ten-year-old to listen to a song that describes a man beating his wife to death with the butt of a gun or play a video game that depicts men raping women?  Is there really that much difference?

What kind of message does a parent send to a child and all her friends when they say to their sixteen year-old daughter, “Of course, dear — at your age it is important to be overtly sexually attractive to boys, so let’s have your breasts enlarged.”?  Is it much less of a message to purchase clothing for them that emphasizes their cleavage, encourages men to see up their skirts or which emphasizes the curves of their body simply because it is considered “stylish?”?  If a parent talks to their child about drugs and not getting in a car with a stranger and eating a balanced diet — should we not also be talking to them about modesty and chastity and doing difficult tasks and showing respect?  Isn’t that a part of parenting as well?

If the moral decline of this nation is to be reversed, it will not occur because of political efforts.  It must begin with a revival in the hearts and homes of our nation.  As each generation of dysfunctional and ill-trained children gives birth to a heal-dysfunctional-family.jpgnew generation of even MORE dysfunctional and ill-trained families, the snowball of decadence and decline grows larger.  Not only that, the chasm between those who are committed to sound values and Biblical principles and those who embrace irresponsibility and moral relativism grows.

Ultimately, I cannot control what goes on in other people’s homes, but I can control what goes on in mine.  When I see the neglect and abuse that others tolerate, I know that I must redouble my own efforts to raise my children in a protected and planned path that will allow them to learn and hopefully embrace the values that will keep them safe (physically, emotionally, intellectually AND spiritually) and which will honor the Lord.