Which One Are You?!

I have few happy holiday memories, but one that I do have is that of my brother and me listening to the radio program of A Christmas Carol on Christmas Eve several years in a row. Over the years I’ve become a real holiday Grump, much to my family’s chagrin.

So, if you were to pick a character that most resembles you this Christmas season, who would you be?

Ebenezer Scrooge

The protagonist, Scrooge is a cold, miserly creditor whose redemption to kindness and selflessness forms the arc of A Christmas Carol. Scrooge represents the Victorian rich who neglect the poor and think only of their own well-being. The most motivation Dickens provides for Scrooge’s character is his depiction of him as a young boy; neglected by his peers and, it appears, by his father, the young Scrooge seemed determined to live only for himself as he aged.

 
Bob Cratchit

Cratchit is Scrooge’s overworked employee, a timid man afraid to stand up to his boss’s demanding ways. The patriarch of a family poor in wealth but rich in love, he cares especially dearly for his crippled son, Tiny Tim. Cratchit is a symbol for the Victorian poor, good-hearted and hard-working but unable to climb out the stiflingconditions of poverty.

 
Ghost of Christmas Past

The first ghost to visit Scrooge, the small, elderly figure represents memory.

 
Ghost of Christmas Present

A giant clad in robes, this ghost has 1800 brothers and a life span of one day. He represents celebration and charity.

 
Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come

This solemn, silent phantom represents death, but also the presents the possibility that the future is not determined, but open to the free will of humans.

 
Fred

Scrooge’s nephew, Fred embodies the jollity and sharing of Christmas. He refuses to let Scrooge’s “Bah! Humbug!” attitude bring him down, and is overjoyed when his uncle converts and attends his party.

 
Tiny Tim

Cratchit’s crippled son, Tiny Tim represents the overwhelming goodness of the Christmas spirit.

 
Jacob Marley

Scrooge’s old partner, Marley appears to Scrooge as a ghost and warns him about the dangers of being obsessed with money.

 
Fezziwig

The young Scrooge’s jolly, selfless boss.

 
Belle

Scrooge’s former girlfriend, she breaks up with him because of his greed.

 
Fan

Scrooge’s younger sister.

Sovereign Denial: SGM Crumbles, Spin Control Continues

Sovereign Grace Ministries has been a lightning rod for many years. Not for their conservative theology, but for their authoritarian tactics and abusive treatment of members and even other leaders. C.J. Mahaney, the celebrated leader of SGM, was a celebrity pastor who sold many books, earned great fees for speaking engagements, and profited from SGM music which was actually pretty good.

Sadly, Mahaney has found out–the hard way–that you can never escape your character. This is because your sin eventually finds you out. Everyone, if he or we live long enough, will have times where our character issues will come to the forefront. Our responses to them will determine our direction in life.

Jim Bakker faced his reality in jail, eventually admitting to the tragedy of the prosperity gospel he preached for many years; Jimmy Swaggart refused to accept accountability; Robert Tilton unraveled quickly; Mike Warnke went from celebrity to disgrace.

On the positive end, Mars Hill Church has effectively dissolved. Many of the leaders have even reached out and apologized to the members and other staffers who were wronged by their tactics over the years. But none of those apologies have come from the prime culprit: Mark Driscoll! Like a coward–which is what most bullies are anyway–he has hidden behind his family and provided sob stories.

At SGM, the story is similar: C.J. Mahaney and SGM leadership, continue to engage in a campaign of denial. Their coverups of sexual abuses are obvious to anyone with at least a double-digit IQ who has had a chance to read the evidence.

A friend of MrsLarijani and mine recently argued that I was being too harsh on SGM, that most of the problem stemmed from the fact that none of the pastors really knew what to do about the case. I call BS. If you’re writing best-selling books and jet-setting the lecture circuit at Christian conferences, then you’re smart enough to know what your obligations are when you have a real situation in your church.

Worse yet, SGM leadership has launched an all-out campaign of character assassination against their victims. They accuse people who report the obvious coverups of slander and gossip and defamation.

Mahaney, like Driscoll, lacks the manhood to do the right thing and accept responsibility for the atrocities committed by his proteges, who committed their abuses on his watch, which were catalyzed by the dysfunctional, authoritarian culture that he created.

At least the remaining leaders at Mars Hill had the courage to do the right thing. Would that the SGM leaders show the same level of integrity.

My $0.02 on Ferguson (Quantifying Equity)

Note: for the sake of brevity, I refer to the collective white community as “Whitey”.

——

The St. Louis County grand jury decided, after careful deliberation, that there was not enough evidence to even put police officer Darren Wilson on trial.

If there’s no indictment, that means there was no case. Period. The prosecutor–Robert P. McCulloch–provided an excellent presentation of the facts, making a strong basis for why there were no charges, not even for the lowest-level felony considered. From the hard forensic evidence that we knew about, I figured that, unless the grand jury had a bombshell in their hands, there would likely be no indictment. I was correct.

The forensic evidence, from two different autopsies, did not jibe with the fantastic tall tales provided by “witnesses” who clearly didn’t see what really happened. Either they were intentionally lying or their recollections were lost in the “fog of war”; I would suspect that there are some of both here. At any rate, the grand jury made the correct decision.

The reaction of the black community, however, speaks volumes.

(1) While there could very well be a serious racism problem among the Ferguson police department–the Department of Justice is investigating that very possibility–Wilson was not up for indictment for that. Nor was he up for indictment for racist incidents in other cities. He was only being considered for felony charges related to his shooting of Michael Brown.

(2) Michael Brown was shot because he was a thug who fought with a police officer. While Wilson did not stop Brown as a suspect for the armed robbery in which he had just taken part, the fact that Brown had stolen from a store, just minutes earlier, would explain why he was being hostile toward Wilson. Having a large size advantage over Wilson, he fought over Wilson’s gun. Had he merely been polite with the officer–“I’m sorry, officer, I should have been walking on the sidewalk”–there would have been no altercation.

(3) If the black community wants to be angry, they should be angry that one of their own–Michael Brown–engaged in an armed robbery and then initiated a fight with a cop. If anyone devalued the life of Michael Brown, it was Brown himself.

(4) If the black community wants to be angry, they should be angry at their “leaders” who whipped up a frenzy because raciss! They can be angry with their “pastors” who are too busy sleeping with parishioners, and others who lack the balls to call out the sluts, and their sperm donors, who jack up the black illegitimacy above 70%. They can be angry with the thug culture that discourages education, achievement, innovation, and entrepreneurship. (A friend of mine–a gal from Nigeria who was in one of my classes at a local university–was excoriated by American blacks who hated her because she busted the curve in those hard classes.)

For the last 50 years, blacks have clicked their heels and voted Democrat, to the tune of 90%. They are disproportionate recipients (in percentage terms) of federal transfer payments; they get preferential treatment in hiring and college admission via Affirmative Action; their votes have elected the mayors of large cities such as Detroit and New Orleans and Atlanta.

But every time things go wrong, it’s Whitey’s fault.

Ergo, it wouldn’t have mattered if O.J. was caught on video slashing Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman, or if Darren Wilson had a bodycam that showed his innocence.

At the end of the day, I have some questions for the black community:

(1) What, in your estimation, would Whitey have to do in order to have equitable race relations?

(2) How many whites need to be hanged publicly for the blacks who were lynched? That number must account for all black-on-white (and white-on-black) murders over the past 50 years.

(3) How many whites need to be passed over for college admission and job selection? That number must account for the 40 years of Affirmative Action, from which blacks have already benefited.

(4) How many white women should blacks be allowed to rape for the blacks who were raped? That number must account for all black-on-white rapes over the past 50 years.

(5) How many whites should be designated as slaves, and for how long and in what regions?

(6) What dollar amount must be paid by whites for justice to be finally served? That dollar amount must account for tax monies paid by whites into federal welfare programs to the proportion that blacks have benefited from them.

(7) Let’s assume that we could quantify questions 1-6; how does that change your illegitimacy rate?

(8) Let’s assume that we could quantify questions 1-6; how does that change your illiteracy rate?

(9) If you would like to introduce other metrics by which we can quantify equity, please feel free to provide those.

I raise these questions because no amount of wrangling over these matters is worth much if we cannot quantify particular metrics that would serve as markers for justice.

I bring up (7) and (8) because those things are doing more to harm the black community than any sins of Whitey.

Check Your Thin Privilege

I don’t get out to Boundless much anymore due to my work schedule, but I’ve long thought that they should hire myself and Farmer Tom as guest columnists. We would be having a field day with this right now. I don’t know if it is satire or serious, but I had coffee coming out of my nose after reading it. There are some really screwed-up people in this world, so that story could very well be true.

Have We Tamed God?

Acts 29 shares that, “Ligonier Ministries partnered with Lifeway Research to survey a cross section of 3,000 Americans on 43 questions about God…”

Calvin said all knowledge comes down to two things: what we know of God and what we know of ourselves. Here’s what the survey shows on these two counts. We like God, even Christ for that matter, but we like Him on our own terms. We have tamed God. Of course this has a consequence for the other element of knowledge, the knowledge of ourselves. We’re by nature good, the survey says. As God comes down to size, we go up.

The State of Theology survey results are very interesting. My first husband excelled in statistics. He often said that one could determine the outcome by how they worded the question – basically, they’re not objective. And you can start backwards by determining what you want to prove and then wording the questions to prove your thesis (or disprove it, whichever you perfer). There are a few questions worded here that make me go, “Hummmm.”

Being that Lifeway is a branch of the Southern Baptist Convention, and attendance is down, I think their questions and assumptions from the answers of the “Worshiping Alone” part of their survey are skewed.

However, based on other things I’ve read and heard, I would have to agree with this analysis from the survey: “We like God, even Christ for that matter, but we like Him on our own terms. We have tamed God. Of course this has a consequence for the other element of knowledge, the knowledge of ourselves. We’re by nature good, the survey says. As God comes down to size, we go up.”

I think the choice of the word, tamed, is an accurate one here. Sadly, many will learn the truth that God cannot be tamed a moment too late. Perhaps, though, it could be more accurately written that we have tamed what we perceive God to be, for God is GOD. He cannot be controlled, or manipulated, or tamed … not even through a survey.

It is worth reading God’s words to Job in Job 40:8 once again: “Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself?”

 

Where the Mind Goes . . .

“You have no idea how many times I wanted to leave them [her husband and kids while the kids were growing up],” she said once.  Eventually she did leave, after all the kids were grown and had moved on.

I have pondered this lately, swirling it around in my mind with many other things. God is so clear in His Holy Word that we are to guard our heart and be careful what we allow into our mind, for what a man thinks in his heart, so he is. (This quick search of “thoughts” is interesting.)

James chapter 1 says, 14 Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. 15 These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.

A woman said that homosexuality is not forbidden in the Bible, that there are different kinds of Christians and ways of believing. She slid on that slippery slope of her own thoughts and desires until they enticed her into a homosexual relationship, and as a professed Christian, she must justify her choices … so she denies God’s written Truth.

I remember the first time I read Job 40:8. It slapped me upside the head and put the honest and real fear of God in me. God is speaking, and He says to Job: “Would you discredit my justice? Would you condemn me to justify yourself?

Be careful, be very, very, very careful, what you allow into your mind, and be even more careful what you allow to take up residence in your mind. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5

 

Church Dones

The Rise of the Dones.

John is every pastor’s dream member. He’s a life-long believer, well-studied in the Bible, gives generously, and leads others passionately.

But last year he dropped out of church. He didn’t switch to the other church down the road. He dropped out completely. His departure wasn’t the result of an ugly encounter with a staff person or another member. It wasn’t triggered by any single event.

John had come to a long-considered, thoughtful decision. He said, “I’m just done. I’m done with church.”

I had not heard of the term, Dones, before.

What do y’all think?

Theology of the Marriage Bed (Things Go South)

In the last installment, I presented the guiding Biblical framework from which sexuality is to be understood and contrasted. I presented it in terms of Creation.

When God created man and woman, He created them male and female; the response was one of jubilation; this served as the basis for marriage; and sex is the consummation of that covenant. It was all good.

Then, in Genesis 3, things go very badly.

Eve, who knew better than to eat of the fruit of the tree, was deceived into eating of the fruit of The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Adam, who also knew better and was not deceived, consciously chose to rebel, eating of said fruit.

The aftermath:

  • The serpent was made a perpetual belly-crawler, and promised eventual defeat (in hindsight, many commentators look at this as a reference to Jesus on the cross.)
  • Eve was promised painful childbirth.
  • God promised perpetual conflict between man and woman. (“Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”)
  • God cursed the ground, making the work of men perpetually difficult;
  • All of Man was cursed with eventual death.

Among those punishments is a very poignant statement God made to Eve: “Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” This is often referred to as “Eve’s Curse”.

In a nutshell, that threw a monkey wrench into both interpersonal as well as sexual relations. Women would constantly aspire to the privilege, authority, and prestige of the men, and men would have an innate tendency to squash women like bugs.

We have seen this play out throughout history: whether it’s foot-binding in China; various forms of sex slavery; Islamic tribes that perform genital mutilation on women; feminist movements that promote goddess worship and fertility cults and various forms of witchcraft. Today, feminism has given us mass murder on a scale that would make Stalin blush, while Middle East cultures treat women like chattel, and in spite of this we have American teenage girls seeking to join radical Islamic groups such as ISIS.

In terms of gender relations, I would argue that the bondage-submission dynamic began with what we now call “Eve’s curse”.

That was the beginning of the corruption of sex. And it would get worse rapidly.

After Cain killed Abel and was forced to flee, we have this tidbit a few verses later:

And Lamech took two wives. The name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah. Adah bore Jabal; he was the father of those who dwell in tents and have livestock. His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe. Zillah also bore Tubal-cain; he was the forger of all instruments of bronze and iron. The sister of Tubal-cain was Naamah.

Lamech said to his wives:

“Adah and Zillah, hear my voice;
    you wives of Lamech, listen to what I say:
I have killed a man for wounding me,
    a young man for striking me.
If Cain’s revenge is sevenfold,
    then Lamech’s is seventy-sevenfold.”

What began with eating some forbidden fruit would lead to murder in the first generation, and then, five generations later, we have Lamech taking two wives (making him the first polygamist) and committing double murder.

This is contrasted with the very next block:

And Adam knew his wife again, and she bore a son and called his name Seth, for she said, “God has appointed for me another offspring instead of Abel, for Cain killed him.” To Seth also a son was born, and he called his name Enosh. At that time people began to call upon the name of the LORD.

The line of Cain–from murder to double murder and polygamy (which is an aberration of the marriage covenant)–differs markedly from the line of Seth, whose generation is tied to “people [beginning] to call upon the name of LORD.”

Things would get worse:

  • In Genesis 6, the “sons of God” would marry the “daughters of men” and produce an evil generation that led to the flood. While some take that as angels marrying humans, I take that as descendents of Seth (believers) intermarrying with the sons of Cain (non-believers).
  • After the flood, Ham disgraced his father by telling his brothers about his father’s nakedness. (No, he didn’t commit a homosexual act, as some commentators suggest. At the same time, an integral part of sex is knowing someone else’s nakedness. Ham’s sin was not in a sexual act, or even in stumbling across his father’s drunken nakedness, but rather in telling his brothers of his father’s indecent exposure, rather than keeping his mouth shut.)
  • Abraham took his maid as a mistress and sired a child (Ishmael) with her, thus giving us perpetual mayhem in the Middle East.
  • The men of Sodom attempted to rape the angels who were intervening for Lot’s family.
  • Lot’s daughters, after getting their father drunk, had sex with him, got pregnant, and had children, giving us the Moabites and the Ammonites.
  • Jacob took two wives (who were sisters), and also took on their servants as his mistresses and had children with them.
  • One of Jacob’s sons would have sex with one of his father’s wives.
  • In a serial scandal, Onan would be struck dead by God for disgracing Tamar via coitus interruptus; and Tamar–after Judah refused to marry off one of his sons to give her children–disguised herself as a temple prostitute, had sex with Judah (who was on a journey), and had a child with him.
  • Dinah, a daughter of Jacob, was raped by Shechem. Levi and Simeon, in turn, slaughtered all of the men of Shechem after they were circumcised and promised safety.

Oh, and that’s just in Genesis!

Remember: in Genesis 2, it was all good.

Here we are, nearing the end of the first book of the Bible, and we have had multiple cases of polygamy, believers marrying non-believers, homosexuality, women fighting each other via mistresses, men offering their daughters to appease would-be rapists, multiple cases of incest, and even rape.

Suffice it to say that sin has clearly worked its way into the marriage bed.

My point here is that, in terms of depravity, what we see today has ample precedent in history. You will hear many voices in the world, appealing to “progressive” culture to be more “open-minded” to things that are clearly perverted, and churches are under constant pressure to cave.

Today, the big issue of sexuality for the Church–on the surface–is gay “marriage”.

And while the Church must preach and teach truthfully regarding the sinfulness of homosexuality, a larger issue under the surface exists: we have a large swath of Christians, who have had a pornified, corrupted erotica slammed down their throats from all angles, who, as they marry, are forced to reconcile their desires–which include normal libido and curiosity to explore (which is otherwise legit), as well as desires that are stoked by illicit and worldly media that are degrading to sexuality–with the goodness and high purposes for which God made it, which include a very positive erotica that, like Genesis 2, is presented in celebratory terms.

Yes, we will go there. And I promise to keep it clean. Next stop: The Song of Solomon.