Men, Singles, the Church, and Boundless

Tom Neven of Boundless has a decent piece on modern advertising, comparing it with advertising in the past. I’ll list his commentary in its entirety, then list my response.

Madison Avenue hates women. Can I say that without controversy? The female physique has been used to market everything from cars to power tools. In fact, this blog title derives from Big Tobacco’s generous decision to allow women to share in the same ghastly death as male smokers.

But even with today’s crass exploitation of the female image, it’s hard to believe that we live in a relatively enlightened age when it comes to women and advertising. Have a look at some really cringe-inducing advertising from the not-so-distant past. Every stereotype is exploited. The Palmolive soap ad plays on many women’s fears and reinforces the belief that beauty is, literally, only skin deep. And the ones for Chase & Sanborn Coffee and Bitney-Bowes postage meters are just mind-boggling. Imagine trying to run something remotely similar today. (More such ads have been collected in a gift book called You Mean a Woman Can Open It…?)

But as I think about it, Madison Avenue hasn’t become more enlightened. It’s just changed its target. In place of the Helpless Woman is the Doofus Dad. Ward Cleaver has been replaced by Homer Simpson. How advertisers expect to be successful by insulting half their intended audience is beyond me, but apparently it works; they keep doing it.

So, in the end, maybe we haven’t come a long way at all. So why am I not surprised?

My response:

Who are you guys at Boundless to talk? You’ve all but declared war on men, single men in particular.

What you don’t get: the backlash is just getting started, and–for all your whining about secular advertising–you are doing the same thing in the Christian realm. I don’t see a lot of difference between secular advertising and the message sent by Christian leaders, Boundless in particular. Let me elaborate…

While Total Depravity–and the reality of human sin–is nothing to put under the rug, Boundless paints conflicting–at times hateful–portraits of men and women.

At Boundless, Men are portrayed as irresponsible, weak dupes of the feminist movement who are (a) responsible for the vices of women and (b) responsible for the protracted singleness in women and (c) lacking the stones to effect real change in the Church.

At this rate, it’s only a matter of time before Ted Slater starts blaming Christian men–singles in particular–for breast cancer in women!

A Christian man (or woman) would find no hope on your pages, married or not. Rather than point them to the Gospel, you excoriate men for every evil under the sun.

I’m sure that just fills the women with great confidence about the men in Church; I’m sure that just motivates them to greater attraction to the otherwise upstanding Christian single gentleman in his late 30s (or early 40s). To quote a comment by a 34-year-old single female–endorsed by Debbie Maken herself (this is in her book)–“If he’s so Godly, then why is he still single at 45?”

Boundless endorsed Debbie Maken’s one-sided rant, provided no criticism whatsoever, and then–when Charles, myself, and others called Slater on it–he chose to hide behind a half-assed disclaimer.

When single Christian men are otherwise decent guys, while–like anyone else–not living up to every perfect standard of Scripture, it’s no freaking wonder that the women start looking outside the Church. I mean good grief…if none of them meet Dobson’s expectations, why is it any surprise that the women throw up their hands, ignore the single man in his 30s or 40s–after all, “he’s gotta have issues!”–and go after the “really cool” non-believer next door.

I’ve received substantial feedback from fellow single Christians suggesting their frustration with the Church in this department. I’d suggest that–rather than blame the larger Church–they ought to take the square root of everything that proceedeth from Focus on the Family.

If Christians looked at one another through the eyes of Scripture–not just in terms of expectations, but stark reality, in light of the finished work of Jesus Christ and the continuing work of the Holy Spirit–then maybe, just maybe you might see some mending among the ranks of the Body. I will say this much: I’m not the only one who sees Boundless driving a deeper wedge in failing to extend hope rather than condemnation.

As a longtime pro-life supporter–and former crisis pregnancy center counselor–I once admired Focus on the Family and their work in educating the Church regarding the effects of government policies on families and children. Sadly, FotF has done the single person a tragic disservice.

I’m not thrilled to be hitting Boundless like this, but I’ve had enough of their attacks on men, and their sanctimonious refusal to own up to their failure on this front. And it’s long past time someone held them to account.

Jane Chastain Sells out Conservatives in Effort to Keep Dead Horse Alive

One of the more stupid ideas I’ve seen from “conservatives” comes courtesy of Jane Chastain, who recommends that former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee team up to defeat Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).

This is her way of trying to form a coalition to ultimately keep the two remaining fascist Democrats–Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama–out of the White House.

Sadly, even her own analysis provides no compelling reason for the merger. Effectively, she might as well be saying, “I know Huck is a Big Government minister who’s a functional dumbass, and Mitt is a northeastern liberal–and they are less electable than Ford-Rockefeller–but we need to put them together and have faith that they’ll beat Hillary and Obama.”

No thank you, Jane. If you believed in freedom and personal liberties, you’d support Ron Paul.

Bye Bye Dollar: Fed Cuts Rates another 50 Basis Points

There is some good news regarding the Fed’s latest interest rate cuts: if you were seeking to refinance an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM) to a fixed rate, do it now.

Rates will be skyrocketing in the near future, with a vengeance. That is, unless the Fed is truly determined to destroy the U.S. dollar. Inflation is already back, and within the last two weeks the Fed has cut rates 125 basis points. That is more drastic than the immediate post-9/11 cuts (only 50 basis points).

This is indicative of a Federal Reserve that is in full panic mode. They have cut rates more drastically in the past two weeks than they did post-9/11. This in spite of clear evidence of inflation due to a dollar in freefall. Oil and gold prices are at or near all-time highs due to problems with the dollar.

Even then, only the Fed knows how bad the dollar is really doing, as they stopped reporting on M3, the most significant definition of the money supply.

Get ready for the nastiest ride in 30 years.

GOP Frontrunner Demise: Takeaways

During the Summer, the GOP nomination was Rudy Giuliani’s to lose. Fred Thompson–who was polling well–wasn’t even in the race. John McCain (R-AZ) wasn’t resonating and was out of money. Mitt Romney was spending a lot of money but polling terribly. Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee wasn’t on the radar screen.

But one fact remained: religious conservatives were hardly energized about any of the candidates. Rudy was a northeastern liberal who–outside the Big Apple–was more sizzle than steak. Fred Thompson, formerly a Senator from Tennessee, was the GOP version of John Kerry: talked a good talk, but not much action. He lacked the fire. Romney, in turn, was a northeastern liberal who now claims to have seen the light on abortion and gun rights.

In fact, religious conservatives were conflicted from day one. Pat Robertson endorsed Rudy Giuliani. The National Right to Life Committee endorsed Fred Thompson. WND columnist Janet Folger and actor Chuck Norris (also a WND columnist) endorsed Huckabee. Right-leaning WND columnists are hardly in unison on this, either: Vox Day and Ilana Mercer each endorsed Ron Paul (R-TX). Ann Coulter appears to be leaning toward Romney, although it does not appear that she is enthused about any of the candidates. Pat Buchanan is hardly energized about any of the candidates.

Outside of WND, Newsmax columnist–and former Congressman–John LeBoutillier has lamented the shoddy GOP field. Cal Thomas concedes that the only GOP candidate acting like a real Republican is Ron Paul.

As of today, Rudy Giuliani is done. Fred Thompson is done. The cash-strapped Huckabee is all but done. Duncan Hunter and Tom Tancredo are done. All that’s left is Mitt, John, and Ron.

Ron Paul has money, but not as much as Mitt. McCain is starting to get high-profile endorsements within the GOP, and this makes him a potential Bob Dole: a visionless candidate who just happens to be the last one standing. Romney has lots of money, but that money won’t buy Southern conservatives. Still, he has a chance in the western states. Huckabee has a chance in the South, but it’s slim.

Ron Paul is developing quite a following, but not enough to get the delegates.

At the end of the day, Pat Robertson has come out looking like the rank idiot that he is. The National Right to Life Committee–long out of touch with political realities–has also fumbled.

Religious conservatives, in contrast to the Oliphant model, are hardly easy to control. They know when they’re being taken for a ride. They won’t all flock to the DNC, but the Republicans will find out–as they did in 2006–that religious conservatives may choose to sit on their hands (or, in my case, vote Libertarian).

If the GOP wants the votes, they needs to earns the votes.

My Comments on the Pastor’s Nutballery

Chuck Queen, pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Frankfort, Kentucky, has shown once again that calling yourself a Baptist means nothing. His latest blurb is out of touch with Scripture. Here it is…with my comments.

According to Matthew’s Gospel, some time after Jesus’ birth, “Magi from the East” (possibly Arabia, Babylon or Persia) come to Jerusalem seeking the new born “king of the Jews.” Magi and astrologers were widely regarded in the Graeco-Roman world as able to discern the signs of the times and foretell events of world importance, including the rise of kings.

The Magi are not familiar with Israel’s scriptures; they do not know the prophecy of the Messiah’s birth. They are not Jewish in faith. Being astrologers they recognize the truth in the appearance of a star that points them toward Palestine. Perhaps they sense that “the one who has been born king of the Jews” is destined to be more than the king of the Jews; that he is one whose influence will transcend earthly kingdoms, borders and cultures.

Actually, Queen has made some gratuitous assertions about the Magi. While he is correct in that they were probably from Arabia, Babylon, or Persia (most likely Persia), he is stretching a bit to suggest that they were not familiar with the Hebrew Scriptures.

These Magi were very learned individuals; while they were practitioners in astrology, they were also well-schooled in a variety of cultural, scientific, and intellectual matters. They very well could have been familiar with the Hebrew prophets. What is amazing, however, is that they had more regard for the things of God than the leaders in Jerusalem. This is a recurring theme throughout the Gospels: the people to whom Jesus was sent largely rejected Him, whereas the Gentiles embraced Him.

But whatever their religion they are open to truth wherever the truth may be found. They were able to take their heads out of their own sacred writings long enough to gaze up and out and see signs of truth elsewhere. The Magi are “wise men” in the sense that they have the wisdom to recognize that truth is not limited to their own religious system.

In actuality, this story is significant in that, while the leaders in Jerusalem were unable to find the truth even though it was within their own religious system, others outside the system could see it from a thousand miles away. In fact, Herod and his cadre in Jerusalem were clearly blindsided by the Magi: they–not the Israelites–received the revelation.

They go to Israel for the single purpose of paying homage to the Christ child. They bring treasures of gold, frankincense and myrrh. They have no intention, or need apparently, to import their belief system. They do not pass out any religious tracts.

No need; the gifts and their presence–to worship the King–and the absence of the Jerusalem leaders, said it all.

What if the religions of the world, including our own, took a similar approach and got over the need to convert everyone to our own belief system? What would it mean for Christians to make the long journey across cultural and religious landscapes bearing only gifts of respect for that which is sacred and good in other religious traditions? What if we could meet adherents of other faiths as friends and pilgrims on a journey, rather than as underlings who need to be converted to our superior way of believing?

It would mean capitulation. Jesus said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.

He did NOT say, “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me. Go therefore and seek the truth from other cultures, celebrating their traditions, and embracing their customs.”

Would this lead Christians away from the Christ, in whom we trust as Lord and Savior? Hardly. I’ve discovered that the deeper I go into my own Christian faith and sacred scriptures, and the more I grasp the love of God that has become incarnate in Jesus, the greater my sense of respect for people of other religious traditions who seek truth and the good of humankind.

Would it not also grieve you that–in spite of their efforts–they are short of the glory because Jesus, not Muhammed, is the Truth? The Holy Spirit had this effect on the Disciples, on Stephen, and later upon Paul. They found it important to preach the Gospel, not pay homage to other traditions. Paul engaged the Greeks quite extensively, not cutting them much slack even though some were very fervent in their search for the truth. Ditto for the Jews, who had a lot of misplaced zeal.

Unlike Jerry Vines, former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, who described Mohammad as “demon possessed,” the closer we get to the compassionate God who loves all people unconditionally, the more we are shaped by values of diversity, acceptance and love for others who seek the truth in their own religious systems.

Given that Muhammed was a mass-murderer who built his following by the sword, and who was legendary in his sexual exploits–including with pre-nubile girls–would it be more accurate to say he was just “searching for the truth” or that he was “demon possessed”?

A Few Clarifications

:::begin rant:::

In this ongoing discussion over hot-button issues–divorce and remarriage, unequal yokes, the Church and their treatment of singles–I’ve made no bones about dealing with some very highly-charged matters that, while unpleasant, are necessary for both Biblical and social reasons:

  • With respect to divorce and remarriage, no discussion is fruitful without looking at Scripture, and the ways that people have applied it in this area (correctly and incorrectly). While my view on this matter is very close to that of John Piper’s–with some differences–I’ve been intellectually honest about how I reached that conclusion and why. I’ve gone out of my way to temper some very hard observations with grace.
  • With respect to singleness in the Church, I have provided far more balance than Debbie Maken and her two-bit enablers at Boundless have provided. I’ve made no bones about the fact that this is a larger demographic problem than anything else. (Folks like S/C have experienced the same dynamic that I have. I can point to any number of guys like myself, who are in the same boat. Similarly, there are gals in other localities who can vouch for S/C’s experience.)
  • Why do I harp on the unequal yokes issue? For several reasons: (a) to keep people from pursuing them who are considering it; (b) to provide the howling reproach of admonishment to folks in those relationships to get out of them while they have a chance; (c) to provide insight into an issue–that contributes to male singleness–that Maken all but ignores although every singles minister I know has seen that dynamic; and (d) when one of your best friends literally self-destructs from such a relationship–a horrible marriage, affairs, abortion, suicide attempts, shacking up, atonement baby, depression, shock treatments, and medication that have made her a barely-functional zombie who no longer even attends church–you’ll be a little passionate too.

When Debbie Maken–and her enablers like Ted Slater–allow her to make a one-sided diatribe castigating single men, blaming folks like me for all those women who are single, I take offense. That Slater hits on the “Gift of Singleness” issue in a satire–making light of a very dark debate in which he teamed up with Maken to give single men a black eye–I take substantial offense.

Am I pissed? Hell yeah, I’m pissed. I’m sick and tired of the Debbie Makens of the world blaming men for the single women in the Church. I’m sick and tired of their enablers–like Ted Slater–who slam-dunk them on Christians. I’m not happy that Maken experienced protracted singleness any more than she is, but it wasn’t my fault. While I empathize with the women she knows who are single, I didn’t go to those churches; I didn’t live in those cities; I AM NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR SINGLENESS!!!

To assert that if men would just be more manly and start proposing to these single women, we wouldn’t have this problem, reflects an abject ignorance on the part of Maken with respect to what goes on outside her locales. And I can provide evidence of her insensitivity from her own book, if anyone wishes to call me on this.

In my dialogues on Maken’s blog, Victor Kilo (phonetic initials) questioned my expectation of stability and maturity for my mate (emphasis mine):

2) Reconsider (or at least review prayerfully) your standards for stability and maturity in a potential mate. You are the man, and as such you should be prepared to lead a woman (and the only kind there are out there are sinful ones) to greater maturity. The Lord Jesus, your standard and model for being a husband, came to this earth to lay his life down for a pretty shabby woman (see Ezekiel 16). Study Ephesians 5 — are you prepared to lay down your life daily and to sanctify your wife (i.e., help her become more Christlike) by washing her with the Word? Or do you want one that’s already so close to perfect that you can kick back and take it easy? I don’t know the specifics of the sort of issues you have in mind, so my comments might not apply to you, but please consider them. And as I stated above, no Christian should marry someone outside the church or someone in serious unrepented sin, but I think a man, because he is called to lead, should generally be willing to stretch farther down the spiritual ladder to choose a mate than a woman should be

Excuse me, who said anything about perfection? I’ve said it many times on this blog that I am a middle-of-the-roader in my expectations.

I expect her to be a Christian first and foremost. As a general rule, she needs to be single or widowed. (That severely narrows my choices, but every time I have considered pursuing a divorced woman, God has slammed that door shut on me.) After having a few women self-destruct on me (In addition to Echo Kilo, Bravo Echo–a former running partner–went down hard with bulimia; I nearly went broke trying to help her), one can understand why I’m a stickler for maturity and stability.

I expect her to be active in the Church. I don’t expect her to be as fit as I am–the key word is REASONABLE. I don’t expect her to have perfect temperament–I don’t even have that. The key word is REASONABLE. I don’t expect her have perfect maturity–I don’t even have that. The key word is REASONABLE. I don’t care how tall or short she is–I’ve dated women as tall as Ann Coulter and one gal who was under 5 feet tall. (The former was Echo Kilo–who self-destructed–and the latter refuses to get married.) I don’t care if she has a college degree. A person can be quite intelligent without that.

Someone please tell me if I’m a perfectionist!

I’m just sick and tired of the one-sided kvetch artists who deride single men and give credence to a Church culture that already treats bachelors like freaks. They are as insidious as the flu, and as dangerous as gangrene.
:::end rant:::