Almost Everything That COULD HAVE Gone Wrong in a Home, Did

I will now attempt to weigh in on this sad, sordid account by Jeri Massi.

For a time, I’ve been following various watchbloggers. I often check in on the Deebs over at TWW, and also with Todd Wilhelm at Thou Art The Man, as well as Brent Detwiler and Warren Throckmorton. I also follow Amy Smith/Watchkeep on Facebook. I don’t agree with them on everything–Throckmorton leans well to the left of me politically, and the Deebs have a tendency to turn almost everything into a War on Complimentarianism–but they do a good job exposing atrocities and absurdities that various conservative elements have either ignored, swept under the rug, or are directly complicit in their commission.

Same is true for Jeri Massi, a Bob Jones University grad who also worked for a time at their publishing house. Over the years, she has done a remarkable job of documenting cases of sexual abuse and their coverups, particularly within the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) ranks. Along the way, she has also done a remarkable job exposing the absurdities in the IFB world.

While I have my differences with her on a few things, I have found her blog to be otherwise very insightful.


Why do I follow these cases?

I’ve always considered myself on the side of, “Let the word of God be true, and every man a liar.” When the Scriptures say that something is good, then it is good. If the Scriptures say that something is evil, well…then it is evil.

If I commit an offense–even a small one, like, say, flipping off the driver who almost ran me over while I was on the bike–and the Scriptures say it is evil, then there’s no ‘splainin’ to do: I have a duty to confess my sin and ask for forgiveness.

That also means that, if there is an abuse or atrocity or some egregious sin among the Church–and I am assuming that either (a) the offended parties have reported it to me and/or (b) I directly witness either their commission or confession or another party admitting to the fact of their commission–then I have the duty to do the right thing.

That means (a) reporting the matter to authorities and cooperating with any investigation (if the allegations are criminal in nature) and (b) ensuring that people are otherwise protected from such abuses.

It is my view that conservatives, of all people, OUGHT to WANT to purge abusers–that includes abusive spouses, child abusers of all types, and abusive clergy–from their midst.

During my time at SBTS, I personally witnessed those who wanted to undermine the Scriptures, promoting a theological model closer to Molech and Asherah than to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Al Mohler–for all his shortcomings–ran that element off, as well he should have.

Sadly, by accomodating abusive pastors–including those who cover for child sexual abusers–Mohler now threatens to undermine those accomplishments. (I would also suggest that by transforming SBTS into a NeoCal echo chamber, he is also undermining Biblical conservatism, but that is a different discussion that is beyond the scope of this post.)

And that is what bothers me: while conservatives OUGHT TO WANT to keep abusers out of their ranks, their leaders have often done the opposite: they have coddled them, accomodated them, even excoriating the victims and others who exposed the abusers.

Now, to address the sad account of Peter.


Massi’s account of Peter is a necessary warning to every would-be conservative Christian homeschooling family, as well as an indictment of many within that sector.

FWIW: I am all for homeschooling. MrsLarijani and I want to do it for the following reasons: (a) in general, given technological advancements, it’s a better learning model than the traditional classroom, and (b) we wish to introduce her to the world as we see fit. We do not wish to shelter our kids–as we will encourage their participation in group and team activities and even athletics–but we DO want her to learn about the world on OUR timetable, not a schedule decided by a school board that promotes an agenda fed to them by teacher unions.

At the same time, homeschooling appeals to various subcultures that are fundamentally unhealthy:

  • Quiverfull adherents: these types generally eschew all forms of contraception, as they assert that having a large family is a commandment and that any contraception is an affront to God’s design. They are often very hard Calvinists.
  • Fundamentalists: these types are often in the hardcore Southern Baptist or IFB ranks, but they can also include Missouri Synod Lutherans, Church of Christ, Christian Church, and various evangelical stripes. Their ranks include Calvinists and non-Calvinists.
  • Ultra-Calvinists: these tend to come from the really hardcore PCA/OPC ranks. They are among the Elect, and that Election has passed to their children.

While there are many honorable families in each of these sectors, the dysfunctional ones–and that includes the family about which Massi speaks–in each of these three sectors have the following in common:

  • They are often driven by the mindset that they are better than everyone else, and their goal is to show the world–by their chlidren’s accomplishments–that they are better than everyone else. Pride is often A key–if not THE key–driver in their choice to homeschool.
  • They often have embraced–actively or passively–the worst realm of Headship Theology, the end result being a profoundly dysfunctional patriarchy that spawns abuses.
  • They often reject the most basic understanding of original sin, as they think their righteousness–imputed to them via Jesus–is conferred to their children as a result of their own faith. They think that while all have sinned and come short of the glory, their kids don’t have the need to learn self-regulation.
  • Worst of all, they often reject the God of Scripture, exchanging the Biblical Jesus for the pursuit of a contemporary model of life on this earth: just go to church, confess the right things, teach children these things, make them memorize enough Awana sections, and they will be healthy, wealthy, and successful, and mom and dad will have all the wealth and all the things and they will have it all on this earth.

What I am saying: their sin is, at the root level, idolatry. They love neither God nor their neighbor; they love the life they hope to have by following what their popular homeschool advocate told them they need to follow.

Follow that far enough down the trail, and that festers in a myriad of ways.

In Massi’s account, Peter’s father was a serial adulterer who never had to face the gravity of his sins until after he dropped dead of a heart attack. While he was defrocked as a result of his adulteries, he was able to move on and continue leaving a trail of damage, even working as a “nouthetic” (i.e. Biblical) counselor.

In Scripture, Paul was very hard on the men. He chided husbands for being harsh with their wives, suggesting that their prayers aren’t being answered because of their treatment of their wives; he admonished them, many times, against sexual immorality (even homosexuality and at least one case of incest), excoriating them for even tolerating it among their ranks. He also pounded them over issues of gossip, slander, greed, deceit, even racism, and other profoundly sinful behavior.

Paul was also tough on the women. He chided women who were disruptive to orderly worship; he commanded wives to submit to their husbands as to the Lord; he said, “woman was made for man, not man for woman”. He even precluded women from particular church offices.

Even as Paul was pro-Patriarchy, he pulled no punches on the men. Men didn’t have special spiritual standing on account of their plumbing. They were responsible for their sins. And women have no less access to the Father than the men, nor do they need a husband to “redeem” them, as the work of the Redeemer is sufficient.

Still, Paul commanded believers to love God and extend that grace to one another. And that included raising children with the appropriate level of discipline–which would “drive the rebellion out”–while not being overbearing.

That job is not an easy one, as some of the best people in the Bible (including Jacob, David, and other kings who succeeded him) failed at it.

But here is the thing: in every failure I’ve witnessed or read about–including Massi’s account of Peter–there is a common thread: a profound lack of humility.

While everyone, on a continuous basis, will struggle with issues of pride, the worst-case homeschool disasters often begin with a runaway pride.

That is the type of pride that leads parents to overrule teachers or coaches or even other church leaders in matters of discipline and achievement. In team sports, fathers often chide coaches as to why their kid isn’t getting the right amount of playing time; they’ll question the teacher who gives their kid a lower grade; they’ll question the Awana leader as to why they had to sit their kid out of game time. The problem can’t possibly be with their kid; after all, he (or) she is part of a special-Elect.

Massi speaks of Peter’s mother, who was often frustrated with the lack of respect Peter showed for her, even as she overruled Massi’s evaluation of Peter’s learning. Peter rarely–if not never–was held to account for his sins. Peter followed in the arrogance (and deviance) of his father, and–sadly–that ended in disaster.

Do the Scriptures promote such a parenting model? Of course not.

Throughout Proverbs, you have the father imploring his son to listen and learn and seek wisdom with humility; you have the father admonishing his son–repeatedly–about the seductive nature of sexual sin and its end results; you have the father imploring his son to work hard and eschew laziness; you have the father contrasting the work of a wise woman with that of a foolish one; you have the father contrasting the behaviors of wise and foolish men; you have the father warning the son about being short-tempered; you have the father warning the son about deceptive and malicious people; you even have the father warning his son about the pitfalls of desiring wealth.

What you get in Proverbs–or, heck, the entirety of the wisdom literature–is a man (Solomon) who, in spite of all the wealth and privilege conferred on him by God, at the end of the day, calling on everyone to love God, to fear God, to obey God, and to make less of the things of this world.

As Cain seethed in anger over God’s rejection of  his offering and his acceptance of Abel’s offering, God issued a dire warning to Cain: “If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.”

Cain did not embrace self-regulation that would lead to the mastery of his sin. And we know the rest of that story.

In Massi’s account, Peter–sadly–was denied the opportunity to feel the weight of his failures as a child. As a guy, he was never held accountable for his sins. He never learned self-regulation as his father never practiced it. His father was able to move in church circles with minimal hassle in spite of serial adultery. All the while, he was effectively told he was better than everyone else beccause he was a boy and had confessed all the right things and, most importantly of all, was homeschooled.


What are some key takeaways from all of this?

(1) We must not confuse the love of God with the love of dogmatic models about God.

I don’t care if you identify as Calvinist, Arminian, Catholic, Orthodox, or any other flavor of Christianity. I’m not here to debate the merits and pitfalls of the respective models. Each has its strengths and weaknesses.

The problem arises, however, when you fall in love with your theology.

Many–not all–homeschooling families have the tendency to fixate on their theology, and, as a result, construct a mindset of family life that is more conformed to that dogmatic model while not necessarily reflective of Scripture.

Even worse, if you are in love with your dogmatic model, you are going to be in for a rude awakening when bad times hit. What happens when you lose your job? What happens when your child ends up in the hospital? What happens if you fall into hard financial times? What happens if you or your spouse suffer a health crisis?

If you are trusting in your dogmatic model to protect you from these things, you will find yourself disappointed.

(2) With patriarchal authority comes great responsibility.

Make no mistake: Christianity is Biblically and historically Patriarchal. That is inescapable. Egalitarianism is a modern development.

At the same time, while the Scriptures do reflect a Patriarchal design, it is also true that the Biblical writers went to great lengths to admonish the men–particularly the husbands–about the responsibilities that come with their authority in the home.

There were abusive husbands then, just as there are today; Paul was emphatic in his warnings to men about that. Some parents were overbearing on their kids; had that not been the case, then Paul would not have had to admonish parents not to exasperate their children.

Nor did any of the Biblical writers coddle children; far from it. Solomon was emphatic about the need to discipline children. He who spares the rod hates his son. Parents who undermine teachers (as Peter’s mom undermined Massi) are denying their children the opportunity to learn valuable lessons.

In the real world, you aren’t always going to get the grade you might deserve. You can do everything right in your company, and someone else will win the contract. You might not get the promotion or the pay raise you otherwise rightfully earned.

Women need to learn about these things, but the men do especially. This is because, as they have God-given authority in the home as husbands, they are responsible for loving their wives as Christ loved the Church.

With the Disciples, Jesus was always admonishing them, teaching them, praying for them, correcting them, training them, and even receiving them warts and all. And He often did these things with humor to boot. (“Sons of thunder” anyone?)

(3) Headship Theology is Poison.

When I say that, I often get the question, “So you don’t think that the husband is head of the wife? It’s in the Bible, you heretic!”

My response: you don’t know the first thing about Headship Theology.

Headship Theology kind of goes like this…

(1) It starts with the premise that the husband is head of the wife. (So far so good)

(2) If the husband loves his wife the right way–as Jesus loved the Church–then she will submit to him the right way. (Nope, not Biblical.)

(3) If the wife doesn’t submit to him the right way, it is because he is not leading the right way. (Nope, not Biblical.)

(4) As a result, if there’s any sin in the house, it is the fault of the husband, because he is not leading the right way.  (Nope, not Biblical.)

While starting with a correct premise, the Headship Theology crowd takes that to lengths that are nowhere to be found in Scripture.

Sadly, the HT teachings foster a dynamic of abuse. This is because if he is responsible for his wife’s–and his children’s–sins, then this incentivizes him to exercise the authority to make them submit and obey as they ought.

Let’s look at the Scriptures here from the high-level:

(a) Jesus loves His Church perfectly and provides perfect headship. But even then, the Church has never been completely faithful. The history of Christendom is rife with atrocity and failure.

(b) There are cases in Scripture where husbands have loved the right way (wives have submitted the right way), and yet the wives (husbands) did not submit (love) the right way.

(c) There are cases in Scripture where sons failed even otherwise good parents.

Hosea loved Gomer well, but she still prostituted herself; Abigail was, by all accounts, a Proverbs 31 wife, but her first husband (who dropped dead) was a dirtbag; and there is no indication that Josiah, an excellent king, was a bad father, although his sin–Manasseh–would sacrifice his own son to Molech.

Headship Theology–a very common teaching in conservative circles–is profoundly un-Biblical and downright heretical. It’s long past time to dismiss it to the dung heap where it belongs.

Ultimately, if you are a Christian and seek to raise your children to love and fear God, you must first start with yourself.

That requires the humility to face your own sin and deal with your spouse with humility and respect.

Leadership and humility are not incompatible; in fact, the latter is essential to the former.

Las Vegas Massacre: My $0.02

Irrespective of whether the Las Vegas gunman achieved fully-automatic fire via (a) a true fully-automatic weapon, (b) an illegally-converted semi-automatic, or (b) a “bump-fire” stock, the fact remains: this is only the third time in the last 83 years, the last being the North Hollywood shootout of 1997, that a fully-automatic weapon–converted, modified, or otherwise–has been used in a violent crime.

In the coming weeks, we will learn the ugly, sordid truth of this gunman. Initially, he appears to be a wealthy man with no criminal record or social media presence, otherwise irreligious and apolitical, who flipped the mother of all switches and meticulously planned and executed the worst mass shooting in American history since Wounded Knee.

If he had a religious or political motive for his attack, we will eventually find it. Many on the Left are praying to Molech that he was an honors graduate of Bob Jones University with a Life Membership in the NRA, whereas many on the Right are hoping he had found death-worshiping religion in Mosul.

At this point, for all we know, he was Atheist, agnostic, or simply had not given much thought to the matter while making his millions.

Initial reports say he was prescribed Valium for anti-anxiety, but other than that his mental health record appears clear. Other reports say he may have had some social issues–often unkempt, frequently berated his girlfriend in public–but was otherwise functional enough to be a successful businessman who made a lot of money and was at least able to have relationships with the opposite sex.

(That would rule out the possibility of him being an angry omega male who, out of despondency over unrequited love, jumped off the proverbial cliff.)


The emerging reports, and the crime-scene photos, indicate that the gunman, in order to achieve fully-automatic fire, used “bump-fire” stocks, rifle stocks which use the recoil to facilitate the manual use of the trigger, thereby achieving quasi-full-automatic functionality with semi-automatic action.

A bump-fire stock, while providing near-full-auto fire, does so at the cost of accuracy, as it requires a more deliberate use of the hand muscles to maintain fire. At the same time, because he was shooting into a crowd at a concert, he was effectively shooting fish in a barrel.

As I write this, the death toll is 58 (the official toll is 59, but I’m not counting the gunman, nor should you), with over 500 wounded. If the reports are correct, then everyone who made it to the hospital alive is still alive as of this writing.


As expected, the Leftards jumped on the wagon for gun control. Hillary Clinton broke from her Blame Everyone But Myself book tour to tweet for more gun control; Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) introduced legislation targeting “bump-fire” stocks.

The NRA, to their credit, has been relatively cool in their response, as well they should be.

Here’s my take…

First off, a couple of disclosures:

(1) I oppose the Hughes Amendment of the Volkmer-McClure Act of 1986 (also known as the Firearm Owners Protection Act). If I were President, I would strike down the Hughes Amendment.

(The Hughes Amendment bans the manufacture of fully-automatic weapons for civilian purchase. Those manufactured before 1986 were grandfathered in, so that way existing machine gun owners would not be turned into instant criminals. The upshot: machine guns made before 1986 are still legal for purchase, anything after that is only legal for military and law enforcement and drug cartels of the government’s choosing…)

(2) I oppose the inclusion of suppressors (also known as “silencers”) under the Class 3 umbrella. Those, which are not a tool of criminals except in the movies, are a legitimate accessory for hearing protection and ought to be available for open purchase.

(3) I do support the inclusion of fully-automatic weapons in the world of Class 3 firearms. Those who would purchase them should require some vetting. What we saw in Vegas is exactly why we need that. It would not have prevented the Vegas gunman from obtaining them–he had the clean record and the deep pockets–but it would give more latitude to government to provide more extensive vetting that would keep the mentally-ill, or those discharged from the military for reasons other than Honorable or Medical, from obtaining machine guns. (While a Dishonorable Discharge is disqualifying, other less-than-honorable discharges short of that are not.)

In other words, some folks, on the margins, who would otherwise qualify to purchase semi-autos, may be worthy of exclusion from purchasing full-auto, as full-auto ought to have a higher bar.

But what about bump-fire stocks?

While technically legal for general purchase, bump-stocks effectively convert a semi-automatic firearm into a full-auto. This would seem to, at the very least, make them worthy of inclusion under the Class 3 umbrella.

Currently, the Leftards would like to ban bump-stocks altogether. Some Republicans are also entertaining the idea.

Here’s what I would support:

(1) Repeal the Hughes Amendment, making all full-autos available for purchase via the Class 3 process. This would drive down the price of full-autos and expand the ability of law-abiding citizens to own them.

(2) Remove all suppressors from Class 3 status, making them universally-available for purchase as an accessory.

(3) Classify bump-fire stocks as Class 3 firearms, requiring the regular Class 3 background check for purchase, but with the $5 tax instead of the $200 tax.

The only problem with (3) is how to enforce it against those already out there? You’d have to have some sort of grandfather clause. The problem is they aren’t stamped, and anyone with a 3-D printer and the CNC know-how can manufacture one.

You could include a window of time for the grandfather clause–during which you can get it stamped, having the larger background check waived and even receive a $200 rebate from the government–but after that, anyone caught with an unstamped bump-fire stock would have it confiscated (but would not be prosecuted).

And once the window closes, all legal transfers of bump-fires would have to occur via the Class 3 process, with violations of that resulting in confiscation but not prosecution. Any use of them in the commission of a violent crime, however, would result in a mandatory minimum of life imprisonment.

That would ensure that (a) those who want real-deal full-autos can get them at reasonable prices, while still requiring vetting, (b) those who want suppressors can get them easily, and (c) those who want bump-fires can still get them–at reasonable prices–but would require a class 3 vetting that includes a nominal tax, with penalties minimal for those not committing violent crimes.

Dr. Iain Campbell: The Ugly, Sordid Truth

Fair disclosure: I had never heard of Iain Campbell until the news of his suicide broke. I do not identify as a Calvinist–although I support a Calvinist hermeneutical model while remaining skeptical of the dogmatic model–and, moreover, do not stay abreast of the celebrity pastor/theologian circuit. That is not to say I don’t like any of them–I like Piper, Keller, and Chandler, while having some differences with them–I just don’t fawn over them. They generally are good preachers, but I do not take marching orders from them either.

(As an aside: I started attending an Acts 29 church in 2008. While I was familiar with Mark Driscoll, I didn’t listen to his sermons very often. When MrsLarijani–who was not a “29er”–married me, she was more up on Driscoll’s sermons than I was. And, for the record, we each supported the expulsion of Driscoll from Acts 29, and I do not support his return to the pastorate.)


As for Campbell (IDC), Dee at TWW provides Part 1, in all its ugliness*, here. There will be more to come. I blogged on his death–a suicide–in April.

What Dee provides is not surprising to me, not in the slightest.

During my time in Anderson, IN, I became a member at Redeemer Baptist Church (RBC), which, at the time, was pastored by Hervey Lawrence (HL). HL struck me as a decent preacher who was affable. He was married and had children. I enjoyed public speaking–I did that on behalf of a number of pro-life causes at the time–and HL pushed me to get involved in teaching at RBC. In 1993, as my employment came to an end at EDS, HL was the one who pushed me to go to SBTS.

Over the ensuing years, I had two rifts with him, but we patched those up. I lived in Kentucky, but still was friends with several folks at RBC.

But in the late 1990s, HL was caught in an affair. Initially, he confessed, quickly claimed repentance, and was immediately “restored”.

A short time later, he was found to have continued the affair, and–at that point–he either resigned or was fired, I can’t remember which. His marriage would end in divorce. Can’t remember who filed what, but–at this point–that is moot.

While I was at SBTS, the local standard-bearer for conservative theology–Highview Baptist Church (HBC)–became embroiled in scandal. Their longtime pastor, Bill Hancock, who had recently run (unsuccessfully) for the Presidency of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, was exposed for being in a 5-year affair. He was subsequently fired. (I was underwhelmed with Hancock’s preaching–he talked a lot without saying much–but I can’t say that anything jumped out that said, “That man is leading an immoral life!”)

Hancock had been the “go-to” man for Baptist conservatives in the Louisville area for many years. And yet, for at least five years, he would preach on Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night, all while sleeping with another woman.


Why do mention these cases? Looking back, there were men and women who really enjoyed them as pastors–Lawrence and Hancock were not repulsive individuals, and they didn’t preach unsound doctrine–but, during that time, each was carrying on an affair.

Putting this in perspective: irrespective of what you think, if you are a Christian with any basic understanding of Scripture, having an affair requires a lot of work. It requires a lust that grows to overwhelm every alarm from Scripture. Taking off your clothes for someone else requires forethought. It requires purposeful effort. Heck, sex with your own spouse requires work–yes, it’s fun, but it is rarely “spontaneous”.

By the time a pastor disrobes for another woman, he’s thrown all that is holy and important under the bus. The spiritual erosion is disastrous. At this point, he is not qualified to preach to–or counsel–a pack of dogs.


Iain Campbell (IDC) was doing this for virtually his entire ministerial life. It was not simply one affair, although that would have been bad enough. What Dee provides is a glimpse into the utter depths to which he had sunk for a very long time. And, during that time, he became a revered pastor and representative of the Reformed tradition. The IDC who wrote books, contributed to popular ministries such as Ligonier, and preached on Sundays and at conferences worldwide, was a carousing pervert given to bizarre fetishes.

In the Church community, many held him up as their standard-bearer. But outside the pulpit, he had more in common with Hugh Hefner than with Charles Spurgeon.

When confronted by one of the husbands of a mistress, he apologized but did not resign his position. After he confessed to his wife and family, he refused to resign or confess publicly.

He refused to apologize to his wife, to whom he had been unfaithful for most–if not all–of their marriage.

Ultimately, he tore a page from the life of Judas and strangled himself to death.


Like Judas, there is no pretty way to assess IDC’s life and death. Not only did he commit suicide, he did so, like Judas, under a cloud of egregious sin. Rather than stick around–like Peter did–and receive forgiveness after feeling the brunt of the sin and shame, he chose an attempt at self-atonement. (That never works.)

IDC, like Judas, was a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Like Judas, he had the best of Biblical teaching at his disposal; like Judas, he knew the Scriptures well; like Judas, he exchanged the truth for a lie at various critical points in his life. The same exchange that drove Judas to first betray Jesus and then attempt to atone for his sins via suicide, drove IDC to commit serial adultery and ultimately suicide.

The Scriptures are not encouraging with respect to where Judas is right now. And while I make no definitive judgment on IDC, I really do not envy him right now.  While God will have mercy on those he will have mercy, I would not want to face the King of Kings knowing the last thing I did on this earth was commit murder.


As for his friends and colleagues who seek to rationalize his infidelities or even his suicide: stop. Just. Stop.

His wife is not responsible for his sins; IDC is.

I don’t care if she was Jezebel II; IDC, not his wife, is responsible for his sins.

She did not drive him to suicide; HE drove himself there.

HE was the one who–confronted with his sin–rejected the grace of repentance, lamenting his damned reputation rather than his offense. Contrast that with King David. Don’t believe me? Read Psalm 51.

Make no mistake: IDC was a wolf in sheep’s clothing!

If you have books written by him, I suggest one of two things:

(a) dispose of them, as you have every reason to cast anything he said under suspicion, even though most of what he said was probably sound;

or

(b) keep them, allowing them to be an example of what evil looks like.


I have harped in this before, but–for those new to this–I’ll say it again….

We often expect evil people to “look” evil.

We expect the child molester to look like Peewee Herman or some creepy pervert in a trench coat. In reality, the child molester is the affable family man whom everyone finds likeable, charismatic, and trustworthy. By the time the cops catch up to him, his trail of victims is at least a mile long.

We expect the philandering pastor to be a peddler of bizarre doctrine. Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, Tony Alamo, and others like them peddled false if not weird doctrines. In point of fact, though, most of them, in interpersonal terms, were affable and likeable.

The same was true of the two pastors I mentioned: Hervey Lawrence and Bill Hancock. They were each well-liked both inside and outside the church. Hervey, in his day job, was well-liked. Neither, to my recollections, preached unsound doctrine. They, however, failed to practice the otherwise sound doctrine that they preached.

Hancock, according to those I knew who knew him, repented and returned to ministry eventually. (Not saying I endorse his return, though.) He recently died.

I cannot, however, speak one way or another about Lawrence.

The issue here, is what you DO when you are confronted with the premise that people you love are embroiled in hideous, evil, immoral practices, or–worse–commit suicide when confronted with their sin.

Do you attempt to justify or mitigate the severity of their actions by blaming others?

Do you attempt to mitigate the severity of their actions by appealing to what you think is his (or her) character?

Or do you grieve while accepting the possibility that the worst implications could very well be true?

Do you allow the facts–once they are known–to speak for themselves?


*When I say “ugliness”, it’s not directed at Dee’s writing, but rather IDC’s life.

The Best Piece on Hugh Hefner I’ve Read

I’m not a fan of Ross Douthat, but this time he hit one out of the park.

Hugh Hefner was the most pitiable and pathetic excuse of a human being.

I do not envy him now, and–in all honesty–never envied his life in the slightest. Yes, he had a plethora of ladies and enjoyed an amount of sex that most men and women–in their most hedonistic moments–can’t even fathom. At the same time, reading the accounts of his life, what we get is a personal hell of emptiness that his over-the-top hedonism never satisfied. Let that be a lesson for your life.

He was not a mass murderer like a Hitler or a Stalin or a Mao or a Pol Pot, but his work has fomented trends that push societies toward demographic collapse. The world looks at promiscuity as a simple pleasure at best, and a “victimless crime” at worst. But private sin, especially on a mass scale, can have far-reaching consequences. And make no mistake: Hefner was not a force for that which is good.

The Sexual Revolution that he championed has laid waste to many lives, and has led to the decline of the nuclear family. For all the glamorous promotion of the “free love” culture, the other side was rife with disease, depression, and nihilistic oblivion far worse than the paradigms that, whatever their faults, made for a stable society.

As a result of the work of Hefner and his ilk, marriage has been in serious decline worldwide, and this is not boding well for the coming generations.

Even then, I do not celebrate Hefner’s passing. Quite frankly, it is tragic that he squandered every chance that he had for 91 years to repent. Unless he had a change of heart on his deathbed–and I doubt he did–then the Biblical assessment of his future does not look encouraging.

As for us, the reality of his death should call us all to attention, as that will be us one day. And while many in the world will celebrate his life, the only thing that will matter–in the final analysis–is God’s assessment of his life.

That, also, is true of the rest of us.

Class dismissed.

Cheaters — I Don’t Get It

Last year, at a triathlon, I encountered a gal (JD ) who was struggling on the bike portion of an Olympic (Oly) distance. I chatted with JD, effectively talked her through the bike, and we finished the bike portion at about the same time.

During the run, it was the same: it was very hot and humid, and she was clearly dehydrated. I had plenty in the tank and could have steamrolled her, but–like the fictional would-be Naval Aviation Officer Candidate Zach Mayo–I “talked her over the wall”. At the end, JD decided to break into a sprint so she could finish ahead of me.

I thought it was tacky of her to do that, but I figured what the hey..if it makes her feel better, that’s her business. As for me, I’m man enough to enjoy a DFL*. MrsLarijani and I had a good laugh over it.

This year, JD did the Oly distance at the same tri. The conditions were better. This time, due to a schedule conflict, I opted for the Sprint distance and had a blast. It was my best triathlon execution to date.

This time, JD finished 3rd overall among the women. The kicker: her “official bike time” was better than any of the men. Her average pace was over 25 mph!

I know that course very well–it is very hilly, with a nasty half-mile climbout coming out of transition–and I know many of the athletes who did that race; some of whom are VERY elite athletes: we’re talking Boston Marathon finishers and potential qualifiers for the Ironman Word Championships in Kona.

I also know that JD is not a strong cyclist. And even if she trained very hard over the past year–and I KNOW she didn’t–there is no way in HELL she biked a 25 mph pace on that course. She couldn’t even pull that pace on a flat course such as Tri Louisville.

But that brings me to wonder: why on earth do people cheat in events like these? There was no prize money on the line. Other than some token recognition–there’s some bragging rights, but this was a small-ball event–what is there to gain? I can understand people cheating to get into the Boston Marathon, or Ironman Kona, or even fudging to get a finish that they did not earn at a large event.

But an obscure triathlon that is a fairly laid-back event where no money is on the line and people are generally training for other events?

Ultimately, JD will have to live with herself.

That day, I saw some bold people out there: several people doing their first triathlons. One gal–very obese–slogged her way through the swim, bike, and run. She was about 2 miles into her bike as I was finishing the bike. But, as I drove out after packing my gear–I saw her enjoying a casual jog into the turnaround on the run. I gave her a thumbs-up.

I don’t know her, but she has every reason to be proud of her finish.

There are analogs with the Christian life in this.

One of the things I often point out in endurance sports: you cannot afford to run someone else’s race. You are there to run YOUR race.

During this year’s race, there was a gal who passed me several times: we took turns passing each other. We did this throughout the bike and run. I wasn’t racing her; I was focused on my Garmin data and maintaining a pace I had planned. She was doing a run/walk ratio and was very methodical. She was clearly a better runner, and I suspected she was probably using me to pace her.

I didn’t care: I ran the race I trained for, and I got the finish I wanted. I would suspect she did, too.

The obese gal did the same: she was all smiles in that home stretch. She ran the race according to the rules. Sure, she was DFL, but an honest finish is a good finish. Her finisher medal counts as much as mine does.

JD, on the other hand, got some recognition out of this. But she did not play by the rules. At the end, her medal is meaningless, not even worthy for the trash.

Similarly, in the Christian life, we each have our own races. Some of us have more gifts than others, just as some athletes have better genetics than others. I have a bad back, bad lungs–from three bouts with pneumonia–and a torn rotator cuff. I accept that I am not going to be in the ranks of elite finishers any time soon. Some folks live this life with more gunning against them than others. Some inherit more baggage than others.

Your job isn’t to finish first; your job is to finish well. That you get to run that race is itself a grace from God; you didn’t earn it.

Your finish is also a product of God’s grace. Your calling is to be faithful and run that race according to the gifts you’ve been given.

Just as some athletes will cheat, you will also see “cheaters” in the Christian ranks. They are often hypocrites–they fashion an image that you see on Sunday and Wednesday, while they are completely different persons in private.

But make no mistake: as the Bible says, their sins will find them out. (I often frame it this way: your character will eventually catch up with you.)

The same is true with athletes who cheat. Just ask Lance Armstrong. Just as you can have your awards rescinded–in Lance’s case, years after collecting on the prestige and monies–you can be “disqualified” on judgment day.

I would suspect that, in the final judgment, there will be a mother lode of surprises: some of them pleasant, and others not so much.

*DFL: in the word of endurance sports, this stands for Dead Flippin’ Last. (Well, that’s the clean version.) It’s often a badge of honor in triathlon and other endurance sports, as a last-place finish is better than a DNF (Did Not Finish).

Aspiring Pastor Murders Wife

By now, most of you have probably read about this case: Matthew Phelps, a graduate of Clear Creek Bible College and aspiring pastor, admitted to stabbing his wife to death, claiming that he had taken too much cold medicine. I have some friends who initially gave credence to his attempt at the Twinkie Defense, but–looking at his mug shot–I immediately dismissed that, as it is very clear that he was in a fight with someone who, go ahead and call me sexist for saying this, “fought like a girl”.

He did not accidentally kill his wife; this was a fight that ended in a stabbing.

I had friends who suggested that they looked like the “perfect” couple. I suggested that the facts will reveal a marriage that was very far from perfect, and–beneath the appearances–was a very

Well, the veneer of the perfect couple is beginning to unravel, as I long suspected it would: Matthew Phelps was previously married. (HT to Amy Smith of Watchkeep via FB.)

And while I realize that having a prior marriage does not a murderer make, it does show that Phelps’ character was at variance with the image he projected.

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times:

(1) Charisma is not character.

(2) You CANNOT outrun your character. Your character will ALWAYS catch up with you.

Hold on to your seats, ladies and gentlemen.

Class is dismissed for recess.

Regnerus: Easy Sex = Deterioration of Marriage

Here is the story.

That proposition is not a new one; as the saying goes, “Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?”

But to call sex “easy” doesn’t do the dymamic justice. This isn’t even about dating sites, which exist for every relationship goal from marriage (e-Harmony) to affairs (Ashley Madison). Those, actually, are behind the times.

Oh noes…smartphones have rendered dating sites moot.

If a man doesn’t care about anything morally, all he needs to do is get on Tinder and, in almost any city, will be able to find willing partners for quick “hookups”.

And while pornography is nothing new, the quality and availability of it is. Up until the early 1990s, if you wanted it, you had to either go to a store to buy it or have cable television and subscribe to it.

The World Wide Web has rendered that moot: high-definition porn, for any type of fetish, is available for free and is but a couple mouseclicks away. For many years, the porn industry was the key driver for the technology development on the Web.

Even worse, the industry now is developing “sex robots” that serve as robo-companions.

(Those have been under development for years–and I have long expressed skepticism about the degree to which they will catch on–but, sadly, the market for those is expanding on the margins. For now, they are for rich perverts, but over time they will be more widely available to perverts of lesser means.)

Against this backdrop, Aldous Huxley might have been an optimist.