Electyle Dysfunction 2016: Presidential Debate #1

The first face-off between Republican nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton was exactly what I expected:

(1) Trump would go in largely unprepared, and deliver a lackluster performance;

(2) Hillary would go in very prepared, and deliver a lackluster performance that exceeded her lowered expectations;

(3) the moderator would show clear bias toward Hillary;

(4) Hillary would get a very small bump after the debate, while Trump–after that initial bump–would regain momentum.

The leadup to the debate was a total setup by the Hillary team: the portrayal of her health was a smokescreen that provided low expectations and drew Trump off-balance. I warned one of MrsLarijani’s FB friends about that beforehand.

That is exactly what happened on Monday night.

Welcome to the Big Leagues, Donald.

While Hillary is tied with Obama for the most incompetent Presidential candidate in history, she knows how to handle debates, especially when the moderator is already on her side. The Donald needs to be ready for that, and he can’t afford to complain about the format. If he wins in November, he can expect the MSM to be hostile toward him every day he is in office. That is neither all good, nor is it all bad: MSM needs to be scrutinizing everyone, irrespective of political affiliations.

Monday night will neither help nor hurt him, but he needs to be ready in their next showdown. For a newbie nominee, his performance wasn’t all bad, but he needs to raise his level in their next go-round. When they meet in October, if he comes out with better game, he’ll win irrespective of what Hillary does.

Why do I say that? Hillary’s performance on Monday is as good as she can get. She has been in the political realm for most of the last 25 years, and she will make no new inroads no matter how well she performs. She can’t win more votes, but she can sure lose more.

Trump has momentum, and that momentum is not going away. This is because Trump is merely a front in a movement larger than he is: the semi-conservative nationalism that is the alt-right.

We can argue about what the alt-right ought to espouse, but–love it or hate it–it isn’t going away. Nationalism is the way of the foreseeable future, and this is hardly restricted to the United States: it is catching fire all over the West, from Brexit to “build the damn wall!”

Trump didn’t start that train, he’s just riding it. Take him away, and someone else will carry that football.

Unless the Establishment (or Hillary) gets an assassin past the Secret Service, Trump will win in November, and it will not be close. Right now, if Trump dropped dead today, Hillary would be toast, as Pence would win a landslide.

As for what kind of President he will be, it will depend on which Trump shows up.

A Time to Fight or a Time to Retreat? Matthew 24, the Children of Maccabee, and the Children of 1776

Before I begin, I will provide some stipulations:

(1) I am not a prophet, nor do I presume some special word from God. The office of prophet is a very important one, and the Bible has a very hard command for such a one: a perfect batting average. A lot of folks today like to run their mouths on current events, throw in some Scripture, and then claim prophetic status. Count me out of that circus, as I have no use for those types. I am simply providing an educated assessment based upon what we know to be true from Scripture, as well as our own history.

(2) My politics tend to be empathetic with the Tea Party, before it was hijacked by the Republican establishment. This is not incompatible with Scripture, either: our fundamental liberties, from our common law to our Constitution, have significant roots in Scripture, and even the Old Testament law, in its most primitive understanding, was in point of fact quite conducive to fundamental liberties, as the tax structure was light, and–as long as you weren’t defrauding anyone, committing murder, violating property rights, or engaging in various perversions–were free in the life, liberty, and property sense.

(3) What I say here applies to the current situation, and I pass no judgment on prior revolutions. I believe that the American Revolution was valid. The issue here is whether the matters over which we rightly took up arms against the Brits back then are appropriate triggers in our current milieu.

Now, to Matthew 24…
——

The chapter begins with a very terse word from Jesus:

Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him. And He said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.”

This statement is huge. As the Disciples were showing him the temple buildings, we need to remember the heritage behind those buildings:

(1) the first Temple was quite the elaborate structure that stood for hundreds of years before Nebuchadnezzar destroyed it in 587 B.C.

(2) While Temple 2.0 was not quite as sophisticated as Temple 1.0, Herod had invested no small amount of energy building a wall around the Temple, as well as buildings around the Temple. He was a very bloodthirsty ruler, but definitely had a keen eye for buildings. You could say he was not far-removed from Donald Trump in his leanings, only with a penchant for murder.

(3) Jesus is speaking to a people who are in the midst of a political powder keg, and who are themselves not unfamiliar with revolt and revolution. Not even 200 years prior, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, in a brazen affront to the Jewish people, entered the Temple, entered the Holy Place–which was reserved for the High Priest–and erected a statue of Zeus. (This was called the “abomination of desolation”, and was forecasted by Daniel.) This set off what would be known as the Maccabean revolts, in which Jews took up arms against the forces of Antiochus and, after a very bloody war, reclaimed the Temple.

In the years since then, the Romans had gone to great lengths to keep the Jewish revolutionary sentiments in check: Pilate was a brutal governor who was known to crucify Jews as examples to anyone considering a revolt. Likewise, Herod–in an effort to show that he could control matters and did not need Pilate’s help–was known for his own brutality.

The Jews, between Herod (state government) and Caesar (federal government), were saddled with Big Government, and the Tea Party of that day–while popular–was on a short leash. Even talking about revolution could get you killed.

And we must remember, at the top of Matthew 24, Jesus was in Jerusalem, and Passover–the Israelite equivalent of the 4th of July–was fast-approaching.

So when Jesus says, “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down,” it is a knockdown pitch that would have offended the would-be Jewish patriots of that day, the ranks of whom included several of the Disciples.

The Disciples, as Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives–asked him, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”

What proceeded was the mother of all sobering pep-talks.

He warned that false messiahs would come out of the woodwork, and not to give them heed as many others would.

He warned that things would get progressively worse: wars between nations and even kingdoms. He warned them not to get wrapped up in those matters.

He warned them of natural disasters, particularly earthquakes. He told them that would simply commence the beginning of proverbial labor pains.

He warned them that social order would break down, even to the point where people would betray one another.

He warned them that they would be persecuted during this time. Their own families might turn them in; their neighbors might turn them in; their co-workers may turn them in. The situation would become very tenuous and dangerous, and many followers of Jesus would pay the ultimate price on this earth.

Then, Jesus delivers the sternest of warnings:

“Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains. Whoever is on the housetop must not go down to get the things out that are in his house. Whoever is in the field must not turn back to get his cloak. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! But pray that your flight will not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath. For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. Then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ,’ or ‘There He is,’ do not believe him. For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. Behold, I have told you in advance. So if they say to you, ‘Behold, He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out, or, ‘Behold, He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe them. For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be. Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.

When Jesus said that, remember that he was speaking to people who, in the last instance of an “abomination of desolation”, successfully took up arms against their government.

And yet, this time, Jesus had a different message. In effect, he was saying, “Next time, when that happens, this is NOT THE TIME TO FIGHT. You need to get out of Dodge, because there’s gonna be a world of hurt coming down on this city and you don’t want to be near this place when it blows up.”

The words of Jesus here are similar to the admonishments provided by Jeremiah to the Judaeans, as the Babylonians took over the region. One prophet, Hananiah, predicted revolt and freedom. Jeremiah, on the other hand, called out Hananiah as a false prophet and predicted Hananiah;s own death within a year. Jeremiah, in turn, exhorted Judaeans to settle down, work hard, don’t fight the Babylonians, repent of their sins, and–eventually–this would pass.

Instead, Zedekiah, perhaps paying attention to Hananiah, revolted, and the Babylonians would move in and crush Jerusalem–destroying the Temple that Solomon had built–and taking much of the population into exile while leaving the weak and poor behind in relative anarchy.

Likewise, many people in Jesus’s generation would take up arms against the Romans, following the lead of would-be messiahs against whom Jesus had warned, and would fail miserably.

What does that have to do with us today?

Here in the United States, we are a nation born in revolution. We are the children of 1776, just as the Jews of Jesus’ time were the children of 168 B.C. We pride ourselves in our fathers–Washiington, Adams, Madison, Jefferson, Hancock–just as the Jews of Jesus’ day prided themselves in their heritage from Abraham to David to Maccabee, and their allegiance to the prophets.

And yet, when Jesus gave them “The Talk” in Matthew 24, he told them that, when they see what is supposed to be a trigger for revolution, the time will be to RUN, not fight.

The question we must face as Americans is this: as our liberties–particularly our religious liberties–come under increasing attack, what ought to be the response of the Christian?

One school of thought says we should take up arms and fight off the tyrants, because our Founders have given us that means in the Declaration of Independence and the Second Amendment. And while our Founders did indeed design such prerogatives in our founding documents, the issue is whether the fact that we have such a prerogative constitutes an obligation?

One school of thought says that we should just forsake all weaponry, eschew the Second Amendment, and kowtow to every pronouncement of government. After all, this earth is not our home.

I would suggest that the answer is in the middle: the Christian must not take up an offensive war with his government. In other words, don’t pick that fight. Make every effort–as far as it depends on you–to live peaceably with your government.

In the Early Church, government was far more oppressive than the United States is today. Christians were often targeted for prison, torture, and execution in the most sadistic fashions. Taxes were high, property rights were nebulous by today’s standards, government was corrupt at every level, every emperor was known for varying levels of hedonistic debauchery and hubris.

And yet you don’t see Paul or Peter (who had brandished a sword in defense of Jesus at one point) calling for insurrection.

But that begs the question: is there a point where taking up arms is an acceptable option for the Christian?

I would say yes. And here is where I would suggest that this becomes acceptable if not necessary:

(a) government is clearly engaging in genocidal practices. Any rounding up of Citizens for prisons or camps, and it’s time to shoot to kill. Without mercy. Deportations are one thing, as people who are here illegally need to leave the country and, if they wish to come here, enter through the front door with a valid visa. But internment camps and concentration camps and gulags are a whole ‘nother ballgame. We know where that leads, and we cannot afford to let our government go there.

(b) in the event of breakdown in local order. When these things happen, various posses often arise. Some of them good, others not so much. In such an event, the armed Christian can keep a check and balance against such parties whose designs may be malevolent and despotic.

But the crux here is this: if the progressive erosion of our liberties is a product of the judgment of God–and given the death toll exceeding 60 million from the abortion mills, that may certainly be the case–then fighting it is an exercise in futility.

In Matthew 24, the Jews were in the process of rejecting Jesus, and the fall of Israel 2.0 was, arguably, an act of judgment. (I would suggest that it signified the end of the Temple paradigm, the final shoe to drop on that era after the death and resurrection of Jesus.)

We are likely in a similar situation. And that is why what was appropriate in 1776, or 168 BC, is, in my assessment, not the formula for today.

“If You’re Going Through Hell, Keep Going”: After-Action Report, Air Force Marathon 2016

Going into the Air Force Marathon, I had some concerns:

(1) My knees had been bothering me on and off all summer.

(2) I had not trained for this event. Aside from some longish workouts–a few bike/run bricks–I had not done any serious long runs. I had been to 20 miles once, but that was a very slow pace. Since Toughman Indiana, I had laid back on the training, mostly due to very nasty summer weather, and went into this race about 10 pounds heavier than I wanted.

(3) I had done a very tough century ride (the 101-mile Hub City Tour) the previous Saturday, and simply did not have a good taper. (Note: a taper is that period before a race, normally two weeks for a marathon, 3 weeks for any distance longer than a marathon, where you cut back the duration of your long workouts.) Due to the century ride, I had only one week to taper where I normally take two.

(4) Weather on race day was tough. It was about 20 degrees warmer than usual at the start time. Forecasts were for thunderstorms and heavy winds. There was a thunderstorm before the race, and that caused a half-hour delay for the race start. And the humidity was very high.

My goal: finish, get it done. Preferably with no injuries.

—————

The start of the race was uneventful. The first mile was pretty flat, but mile 2 was very uphill. From there, you have some mild rollers between mile 2 and 6.

I felt very good, except that, at the 10K mark, I was already drenched from head to toe. I was sweating profusely, mostly due to the weather.

As a result, I made sure to drink at every rest stop. I made it a point to walk the uphills and keep a light jog on the flats and downhills.

Because I was sweating so badly, I took it extra easy. My split at the halfway point was disappointing–I was at about a 14-minute-per-mile pace, which was slower than I had planned–but I otherwise felt good, except I noticed some bowel issues materializing. I knew I would have to take a pit stop, and hoped I could hold off until mile 20.

I had to break for the potty at mile 17, and that cost me about 10 minutes.

Other than that, most of my run, up to mile 21, was pretty smooth, even if slower than I wanted.

At mile 18, I had an unexpected surprise: MrsLarijani, who had registered for the race but decided (wisely) not to run it–as she had not trained for it at all–showed up to jog with me. Given that she had paid her registration fee, she wasn’t a “bandit”, so she was legally on the course. She decided to jog with me until mile 25, then cut over and meet me at the finish line.

I enjoyed that.

At mile 20, I felt good. “Only 10K left. Anyone can do a 10K! We got this!”

Then the hills from 21-24 began. I started having severe cramps in my calves and hamstrings on the uphills. I had to stop several times to use my stick roller to rub down the cramps.

But I was still able to jog the downhills, even if I was practically crawling uphill. Miles 21-24 were awful.

Looking at MrsLarijani during the worst of the cramps, I quoted Churchill: “If you’re going through Hell, keep going…”

But once I crested the final nastiness at mile 24, I decided I was going to jog the final 2.2.

The last 2 miles featured terrible headwinds, although the course was pretty flat going into the finish. I had about 10 minutes of very bad cramps after the finish, but–after that–felt good, even if I had to walk slowly back to the car.

There were MANY stragglers behind me. While I am used to seeing marathon-related carnage, this was more brutal than normal. I saw people getting cramped at mile 9 whereas that normally doesn’t happen till at least mile 18. There were a lot of hurting people out there.

On my end, aside from the cramps, I was fine. I did not bonk, and my RPE was pretty low for most of the race. Even with my problems–I lost a combined 15 minutes to pit stops–I still beat my first marathon finish time by 25 minutes.

I’ll take it.

Assessing Trump Supporters

Fair disclosure: I did not vote for Trump in the primaries. In the Kentucky primary, I voted for Cruz. Will I vote for Trump now? I’m leaning in that direction. He was not, however, my first choice or even my second.

Over the years, Trump had been a New York liberal who was way too cozy with the leftist elite. He had been very pro-abortion and pro-gay rights for most of his life. In 2008, he started singing a pro-life tune. A friend of mine asked about a potential Trump candidacy back then, and my answer was, quite simply, it’s hard to “trust but verify” when there’s nothing to verify.

Enter Trump circa 2015-16.

The Trump campaign combines the conservative nationalism and free-trade skepticism of Pat Buchanan–who was a nationalist and a free-trade skeptic when it wasn’t cool–with a sprinkling of social conservatism, all wrapped in a hard, profane fastball aimed at the head of anyone in elected office.

Welcome to the “alt-right.”

The responses to Trump and the alt-right have been predictable. They have been called racists, Nazis, xenophobes, homophobes, isolationists. Buchanan was called the same things 24 years ago, by leaders in his own party.

Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, in one of the stupidest comments since Ted Cruz’s “New York values” gaffe, dismissed half of Trump supporters as “deplorables”, as she labeled them racists, xenophobes, Islamophobes, and homophobes.

Trump, a couple weeks ago, leveled a charge at Hillary, directly calling her a bigot who doesn’t care about blacks except to get their votes. THIS is why Trump has support: he is calling attention to a political infrastructure that has all but destroyed the black community. Before the advent of the Welfare State, black illegitimacy was stable, in the low-mid 20%. Over the past 50 years, that has skyrocketed above 70%. Democrats have done more damage to the black community than all the “Grand Dragons” of the KKK combined. And Trump, to his credit, is actually making the case for why blacks should support him.

On immigration, Trump’s position on immigrants from the Islamic Zone is not far-removed from that of President Jimmy Carter’s tightening of Iranian immigration during the Iran Hostage Crisis. His desire for deportation of illegal immigrants is pure common-sense.

I would say it is very unfair to compare Trump with Hitler, as he has not blamed America’s social and economic problems on demographic groups.

But what to make of Trump’s supporters? I’d say they fall into the following groups:

(1) Kool-Aid drinkers. Every candidate has his or her share of True Believers. They think their candidate will cause the sun to rise and set more properly, the hurricanes to stay off the coasts, the lions to lay down with the lambs, and unicorns to poop out fruits and vegetables. To them, Trump will fix everything because he ONLY cares about the country. He could grill babies alive in Times Square, and the True Believers would still vote for him.

Yes, those people are off the rails. But let’s be honest here: every candidate has those types. Hillary, for example, has an entire voting block who will vote for her, even if you showed a video of her slitting the throat of her latest political threat. For them, nothing she does–however criminal–matters. All that matters to them is (a) she has a vagina and (b) she supports killing babies. And more than a third of women of childbearing age in America have killed a baby…

(2) Those who are sick of the system. These folks may not have voted in the last several elections, because they believe their votes don’t count. (They may be correct.) They believe that Trump, marketing himself as an outsider, will be the voice for them. That support may be misplaced, but that’s their story and they’re sticking to it.

And they have good reason for their story. After all, both parties have supported trade deals that, while working great in economic textbooks, have proven to be great for everyone but middle America. I worked at many GM plants in Anderson, Indiana. EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM ARE CLOSED. Has NAFTA been a win for factory workers?

Moreover, our health care costs are indeed an international trade issue, as we are effectively paying for all the socialized medicine and price control scams from Europe to Costa Rica. We have allowed the government to create state-protected monopolies that have jacked the price of health care beyond all recognition.

23 years ago, when I attended SBTS, I purchased an individual health insurance plan. It cost me $70 per month, and that was with no subsidies. That same plan, sans subsidies, would cost more than 5 times that amount today.

20 years ago, I went to ER with gall bladder issues. The cost of my time at ER was just north of $300. Today, that same ER visit, at the same hospital, would cost me more than $1,500.

Profiteering in health care is nothing new; the price spikes over the last 35 years are, however, a recent development. Unless we pursue a solution that addresses the cause of those price spikes, we will get nowhere. Obamacare, sadly, has been no better than a Band-Aid on a sucking chest wound: leave it to government to give us a “health care law” that adds hundreds of IRS agents while doing nothing to expand the pool of health care providers (i.e. physicians).

(3) Those who enjoy his blunt style. Love him or hate him, Trump makes his points with force. And he doesn’t apologize. For years, Democrats have accused Republicans of wanting to starve children to death, wanting seniors to die from poverty and lack of health care, wanting to put lead and mercury in everyone’s water, and wage war on women.

Given that, it is refreshing to have a Republican candidate willing to take the gloves off and call liars and bigots on their lying and bigotry. Early on, when questioned about his tone, Trump had a candid response: “ISIS is killing Christians and you’re concerned about my tone???”

I have no problem with Trump’s profanities. Hell, it’s about time someone stood up to the leftist jackals and punched them in the proverbial nose.

If the issue is worth taking off the gloves, then by all means take them off.

(4) Those who want Hillary to lose at all costs, but cannot support Johnson/Weld. Make no mistake, whereas Obama put the country in the toilet, a President Hillary will pull the handle. She will stack the federal courts with Marxist-Leninists, and those will be the gift that keeps on giving for the next 30-40 years. We cannot afford her.

As for me, my politics are very libertarian; I’ve been a Ron Paul fan for many years, having voted for him in 2008 and 2012. I would have voted for Rand Paul had he not been so cozy with Mitch McConnell over the past couple years.

But the Libertarian ticket–Gary Johnson and William Weld–is as libertarian as Bruce Jenner is female.

As a triathlete with an Ironman finish in my sights, I would enjoy sitting down and having a beer with Johnson, a multiple finisher of Ironman Kona (the Ironman World Championships), and talking about Ironman triathlons and other ultra-endurance endeavors. He may be a decent fellow outside the political sphere.

Having said that, neither Johnson, nor his gun-grabbing Massachusetts liberal running mate, are lovers of life, liberty, or property. Would that Ron Paul was four year younger.

Trump talks a good, common-sense talk. His talk, however, is out of touch with what he has been for most of his political life. Does he mean business? Or is this just a sales job?

We know that Trump is not flying the “God and country” banner. Is that a bad thing? Perhaps. While conservatives would rather have God-fearing leaders in charge of the nuclear arsenal, we must remember that we have gotten burned no small number of times by would-be God-and-Country conservatives who were embroiled in scandals of their own. The fallout during the Clinton impeachment left many conservative Republican leaders–Henry Hyde, Dan Burton, Newt Gingrich, Bob Livingston, Helen Chenoweth–exposed. Since then, other conservatives–John Ensign, David Vitter, Larry Craig, Mark Sanford, Dennis Hastert–have been exposed for flagrant scandal.

For years, Dennis Hastert was TWO GUNSHOTS AWAY FROM THE PRESIDENCY, all while having multiple child molestation scandals in his past. Blackmail, anyone?

As for Trump, he has definitely had his way with the ladies. But at least he’s honest about what he has been in his life.

As for what kind of President Trump will make, it will all depend on which Trump reports for duty. If we get the alt-right, semi-conservative nationalist who brings a commonsense approach to the table and appoints level-headed judges who respect the rule of law as constructionists, Trump could end up being a breath of fresh air. If Trump embraces his old-school New York liberal background, we will get four more years of Obama.

We DO, however, know what we will get from Hillary.

The skeptic in me says Trump will be somewhere in between. The issue is whether that is enough reason for you to support Trump.

That, my friends, is your call.

When TWW Gets it Wrong: Complimentarianism and Abuse

This is the perfect example, in which Dee conflates the issue of [apparent] correlation and causation.

Here are the questions:

(a) Does complimentarianism CAUSE abuse?

(b) Does complimentarianism PREVENT abuse?

(c) Does egalitarianism CAUSE or PREVENT abuse?

(d) What DOES prevent abuse?

While we have plenty of examples of abuses from complimentarian churches, let’s be honest about what we are dealing with here.

(1) Churches that fly the complimentarian flag which exert a degree of control over members that you don’t find anywhere in Scripture. In a previous generation, we had the Shepherding Movement. Today, it’s mostly NeoCals and other flavors of fundamentalism on steroids. Independent Baptists, some sectors of the Presbyterian Church of America (PCA), and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC), to name a few.

In such cases, it’s not complimentarianism that is causing the abuse, but rather an authoritarian church culture that is well out of touch with Ephesians 5 or even the most Patriarchal understanding of the pastoral epistles.

In other words, the NeoCals are out-Patriarching even the hardest Patriarchs of Scripture.

The proper response here isn’t to attack complimentarianism, but rather the Patriarchal overstretch that has no Biblical foundation even among the Patriarchs of Genesis, fostered by a good-old-boys network where leaders are too busy scratching each others’ backs.

Complimentarian leaders–Mohler, Piper, Keller, et al.–need to quit being a good-old-boys network and crack the whip and call out these abusers.

Acts 29, after a long trail of damage done by Mark Driscoll, eventually kicked him out of the network. Would that hey had done this 10 years before.

(2) Churches whose leaders welcome ministers whose background include egregious abuses, sometimes including flagrant criminal records.

Again, this is not about complimentarianism, but rather a failure to apply the hard standards that Paul gave Timothy regarding the selection of elders and deacons: none of those “leaders” qualified under even the loosest reading of those requirements.

And yes, I’m old-school: we need to apply 1 Timothy and Titus standards very strictly. That means most ministers have no business getting near a pulpit, have no business serving in any leadership capacity, and have no business providing counsel on behalf of the Church.

Apply those properly, and Mahaney and most of his SGM cronies don’t have a job in the Church. Even Mohler would be on the bubble in that case. Most of the Fellowship Memphis crew would never have made it to the pulpit.

Would that prevent abuses? I don’t know. It would, however, prevent those particular abusers from being in that capacity.

(3) Churches whose leaders fail to report sexual abuses.

Again, this is not about complimentarianism, as this happens in “egalitarian” churches, too. In these matters, the issue is rather flagrant (I would suggest criminal) negligence in either (a) covering for abusers or (b) not fostering a culture of recognizing red flags and encouraging people to report matters to relevant legal authorities when they arise.

This is a training and culture issue. The leaders can be any shade of Patriarch or feminist, and–without providing proper training and fostering a culture of vigilance–an abuser will leave a wide swath of damage.

(4) Coming down too hard on divorce when the issues are gray. Churches should be a lot tighter about how they recognize divorce, and the extent to which they recognize remarriage. The divorce culture is a serious problem, and anyone who doesn’t see it as such–and claims to be Christian–knows neither the Scriptures nor the power of God.

Toward that end, I would not pile too hard on John Piper, as he is simply trying to ensure that, as a minister, he is not endorsing a practice that Jesus provided scant wiggle room for endorsement. I don’t completely agree with him, but he’s providing an honest assessment of Scripture, and it ought to make everyone uncomfortable.

At the same time, when a husband or wife is looking at child porn, I’d say that qualifies for reasonable grounds for divorce. And when Chandler’s folks got on their high horse on that matter, they got a well-deserved ribbing.

To his credit, however, Chandler did something very unprecedented: he personally apologized to the woman in question.

Love him or hate him, Chandler showed some brass ones. And he was right about the cause.

(5) Hypocrisy among Complimentarians. TWW is right to bust Mary Kassian when she knocks women teaching men, given that she often does the same thing: she gets regular access to the pulpit, she presents herself as an authority, and flies under the banner of complimentarianism. (I know the argument: she’s not administering the sacraments. But seriously, Paul doesn’t make that distinction, so I would contend that such an argument constitutes hair-splitting.)

Moreover, Kassian’s record does not seem to be particularly sterling for a “distinguished professor”. I studied at SBTS; I’ve known some VERY strong professors. I remember Dr. Gerald Borchert, and Dr. David Garland. You don’t have to completely agree with them, but they were very published scholars.

As for Kassian, she may be knowledgeable, but–for someone who is a “distinguished professor”–I’m not seeing a lot of “distinction”, as she does not seem to have either the credentials or the publications to boot. When I checked the SBTS web site, another “distinguished professor” is John Polhill, who actually IS quite distinguished. Polhill is a longtime veteran of the New Testament department and was/is quite solid. He may be the last of the faculty from the pre-Mohler days.

Having said all that, does complimentarianism prevent abuse? The short answer: no. To suggest otherwise is to ignore Scripture. At the same time, it is not complimentarianism that causes abuse.

If that is the case, then what DOES cause abuse?

Here is your bottom line: A lack of accountability fosters a culture of abuse.

That breakdown in accountability can occur in an “egalitarian” church; it can happen in a “patriarchal” church; it can happen in any shade of that spectrum. This is because church government, irrespective of whether the leaders have penises or vaginas, is made of fallible people.

That breakdown in accountability occurs when members–who ought to know better–don’t read their Bibles, don’t ask hard questions, and don’t confront leaders who need confronting. It occurs when those few who DO ask the hard questions get branded persona non grata by sheeple who don’t want to rock the boat, even though those very sheeple will complain that they “didn’t see it coming” when the defecation hits the fan.

While I understand TWW’s concern over the “plurality of elders” leadership model, I would also contend that congregational models can be every bit as abusive. Fact is, people will find ways to abuse any governmental system. This is true of secular governments–direct democracy ultimately fails, and leads to authoritarianism, which can lead to the worst of tyranny. It is also true of church governments.

I’ve seen every church governmental model hide some nasty family jewels. If you think that this is solely a feature of complimentarianism, then you are incredibly naive.

In any church governmental system, accountability can break down in a hurry. And THAT is when abusers can get a foothold.

The answer to this is a church whose members are more like Bereans and less like dumb sheeple who fawn at every word that proceedeth from the slick-talking flavor of the week.

When TWW Gets it Right: a 6-Year-Old Doesn’t Like Soccer

Obviously, this should be a no-brainer.

Background: a 6-year-old child who played soccer for one season decides he does not want to play another season, and yet the parents want to sign him up for another season. Here is the background piece, by Brownwyn Lea, writing for The Gospel Coalition.

I’m going to be a little more blunt here. The folks at TGC have a brain tumor that I discovered during a colonoscopy. If you’re going to make a case here under the banner of Gospel, you’re going to have to do better than cite a cuckservative from the New York Times.

Seriously….this isn’t about the Gospel, and you need to quit lying to God and telling everyone else that this is a Gospel issue. You are just trying to force your kids to like what you like.

My father–who is not a Christian–did a far-better job on this front.

Fact is, kids are going to have a variety of interests in the course of their lives, and in many cases that will involve individual and/or team sports. As a child (grades 5-6), I played Little League baseball for two years. In middle school (grades 8-9), I played football for two years. In high school, I played golf for two years (grades 10-11); I wrestled for two years (grades 10,12); I played tennis for two years (grades 11-12). I was not great at any of the sports, although I did letter in football and tennis. In college, I played intramural tennis and excelled.

My dad had only three fundamental rules:

(a) If you play, you play the whole season;
(b) You give your best effort;
(c) If it’s a team sport, you must be a team player.

At the end of the season, if I didn’t want to play the following year, then that was my prerogative.

After 9th grade, I was 5-3 and only 125 pounds. I had been a backup defensive lineman and played on special teams and occasionally a receiver. And I loved being the shortest and lightest guy on the field and knocking heads with the gorillas. (I didn’t know crap about CTE back then.)

But I saw the handwriting on the wall: I had gained only 20 pounds–mostly muscle–over the previous two years. I was playing a sport where the starters were getting bigger and bigger, outweighing me by large margins, and I was not gaining size. I saw where the plateau was, and decided football wasn’t the right path. My dad agreed with my assessment.

And while I enjoyed baseball, I missed tryouts for consecutive seasons due to illness, as I was very sickly. My baseball life ended more or less by accident.

As for golf, I enjoyed it, but I wanted better fitness, and golf wasn’t doing it for me. My dad grumbled a little bit about that, but he saw my point.

I absolutely sucked at wrestling, but I had a great time. My dad wasn’t thrilled with my taking up wrestling, but I saw it as a really nice fitness endeavor. When he realized I was using wrestling to get in shape for tennis season, he saw my point.

My dad, OTOH, was a soccer player in his youth. A very good one. Not once, however, did he compel myself, or my brother, to take up soccer. I was never interested in it, and he never pushed us to take interest in it.

Over the course of life, however, my dad and I discovered a mutual interest. When he moved out to Colorado, he took up running. For a while, he stuck to 10Ks and 10-milers, and occasionally did a half-marathon.

But when I started going for the long game, marathons, he decided to go for it. He did his first marathon with me in 2001. He would go on to join a running club and do MANY long runs, including marathons, with that group. In 2009, he even placed third in his age group at the Air Force Marathon. While he was never into swimming or cycling, he took interest in my triathlon-related endeavors over the past couple years.

And you know what? We often talk fitness and endurance stuff every week. It’s something we both enjoy.

But here’s the thing: he never pushed me to do it. What he did right: he let us discover what we wanted, and supported us as best as he could. If we started something, he wanted us to finish (hence the requirement that you had to play the whole season). But we were not under obligation to keep playing a sport we hated year after year.

As much as I often disagree with Deb and Dee, they’re right on this one.

When you take a 6-year-old, and force them to play another season of a sport they don’t enjoy, you’re not contending for the Gospel; you’re just being a jackass.

Go directly to JAIL.
Do not pass GO.
Do not collect $200.

After-Action Report: Hub City Tour 2016

From a fitness perspective, I began the year strong: I swam, rode my bike trainer, and even threw in some runs, with a vengeance.

That paid off for me in April, May, and June. I began my endurance season with a decent ride at the Redbud Ride. That was my third Redbud, and my most uneventful. My only concern was my lack of power on the hills, but I was otherwise strong: I rode aero and even got good use of my big ring on the flats and downhills. I was clearly improving.

In May, I had a half-Iron triathlon (Toughman Indiana) and a tough century ride (Horsey Hundred) on consecutive weekends. I came back from an asthma incident in the swim at Toughman Indiana to beat the swim cutoff, and earned my first triathlon finish. The following Saturday, I struggled in the heat and bonked at mile 80, but still enjoyed my fourth Horsey Hundred finish.

In June, I had scheduled a century ride (Bike Morehead) and a sprint triathlon (Tri Louisville) on consecutive days. Bike Morehead was of concern because of the brutal hills: almost 7,000 feet of climbing according to the cue sheet. I finished Bike Morhead feeling very good (was barely tired and not sore), and felt excellent at Tri Louisville until a mechanical problem ended my race at mile 3 of the bike. That was frustrating, as I had one of my best swims, and was going strong on the bike.

In July, I got my second triathlon finish: an Olympic distance at the Louisville Landsharks Triathlon. Hills, Heat, Humidity, Horseflies, no problem.

But after June, my fitness dropped a bit, largely because I am not training for Ironman this year. This month, I had two events left: The Hub City Tour, followed by the Air Force Marathon.

My goal for Hub City: finish comfortably, and leave some room for recovery.

The only reason I signed up for Hub City: I wanted my third consecutive Kentucky Century Challenge jersey. If you do all 4 rides, you get the jersey for free. I wanted the freebie. It’s all about the bragging rights.

But going in, I had not trained for this one. I had focused mostly on strength work, and had done some smaller rides and runs. And Hub City is the hardest of the rides, featuring a nasty, hilly stretch from mile 43 to mile 77 which is downright awful.

Complicating matters: a brutal line of storms was on the way.

My group departed at just north of 0700. Our goal was to enjoy the ride, and beat the incoming storms.

The first 45 miles were relatively smooth. A few areas of rough pavement, and a few climbs, but nothing major. Pulling into the third rest stop, the hills had begun, but we all felt pretty good.

Then the fun began.

(1) I struggled on the hills. My lack of rides was showing, as I simply did not have good power on the hard climbs. Having said that, I still wasn’t hurting.

(2) The heat was nasty. The incoming storm front was bringing some colder air, but we had none of it. Several riders were laying down at the rest stops. They were clearly pooped.

(3) Headwinds were very rough. Hub city is known for headwinds on the back 50, but this was a circle of hell all its own. We also had some very bad crosswinds. Sustained winds were at least 20-25mph, with gusts worse than that. I nearly got blown off the road twice.

(4) For the first time at Hub City, I saw seasoned riders dismount from their bikes to walk their bikes up the toughest climbs. In spite of my struggles, I never had to do that.

(5) I nearly hit a deer. On one of the downhills, I decided to go easy, as I was concerned about road quality. That was a wise move. In the middle of my descent, a deer popped out of nowhere to cross the road. Had I gone all-out in the aero position, I would have nailed the deer.

(6) There were lots of bone-jarring, hemmorhoid-popping rough spots in the pavement. Due to these stretches, it was tough to capitalize on the downhills. It was also tough to use the aero bars in these sections.

(7) On the toughest climb, there was a gal who was running hill repeats. She PASSED us on the uphill. I remarked to one of the guys in the group: “You know you’re having a bad day on a bike when a RUNNER passes you on a hill!” (I blew past her as I got to the top, though.)

Once we got past mile 77, things improved somewhat, although we still had some tough climbs left. The good thing about Hub City: once you turn onto Ring Road, it’s a piece of cake. A small jaunt down Ring Road, then a ride through the E-Town Sports Park, then, after a few short turns, a left onto Mulberry Street, then a left onto Helm Street, and you’re done.

We beat the incoming storm by 15 minutes.

Overall, a fun ride. Mission accomplished.

This Saturday: Air Force Marathon.

Standard? or Double Standard?

The idea that there is a double-standard for men and women has come across my path several times in the last week, so I thought I’d explore this some.

Double Standard – a situation in which two people, groups, etc., are treated very differently from each other in a way that is unfair to one of them. Merriam-Webster

The truth is that God set different standards for men and women. When men and women don’t like the standards God has set for them, they cry foul … or, rather, ‘Double Standard.’

Creation:

Man: Created from Dust.

“And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” Genesis 2:7

Woman: Created from Man.

And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man.” Genesis 2:21-22

Work:

Man: Tend and Keep the Garden.

Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.” Genesis 2:15

Woman: Help the Man.

“And the Lord God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” Genesis 2:18

One Law:

Both:

And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat;  but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Genesis 2:16-17

And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’” Genesis 3:2-3

Consequence for Breaking One Law:

Man: Consequence to listening to woman – work will be harsh.

Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’:

“Cursed is the ground for your sake;
In toil you shall eat of it
All the days of your life.
Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you,
And you shall eat the herb of the field.
In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread
Till you return to the ground,
For out of it you were taken;
For dust you are,
And to dust you shall return.”

Genesis 3:17-19

Woman: Consequence of eating fruit first, listening to serpent – sorrow, pain in bringing forth children, and a desire for our husband who shall rule over her.

To the woman He said:

“I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception;
In pain you shall bring forth children;
Your desire shall be for your husband,
And he shall rule over you.”

Genesis 3:16

Marriage Established:

Man: Leave his father and mother. Have sex with woman.

Woman: Have sex with man.

“Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24

God: Joins the two into one flesh.

“and they shall become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24b

“And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made[a] them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’[b] and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?[c] So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” Matthew 19:4-6

Marriage Maintained:

Man: Love your wife as yourself; sanctify and cleanse her to be holy.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her,  that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word,  that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself.  For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.  For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones.  “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.  Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself,” Ephesians 5:25-33a

Woman: Submit to your husband in everything and respect your husband.

“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.” … “and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”  Ephesians 5:22-24, 33b

There are many others, but these are the basics. God created us differently. He gave us different roles. He gave us different consequences for disobeying him. And we do not have equal authority. Men and Women are … Drum Roll! … DIFFERENT!

In whining that men are different and get to do things women don’t, feminism has destroyed our culture and lives down to the very core. It has infiltrated our churches and every fabric of society and is continuing to destroy all of it.

The cry of Double Standard has erased The Standard and taken our focus off that which God intended.

Is there hope? Yes, there is hope in Christ Jesus for us individually:

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.  And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” John 3:14-21

And 2 Chronicles 7:14 shows there is hope for us as a people:

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

May it be so.

Harris Apologizes for I Kissed Dating Goodbye

I saw this coming for some time.

Harris, of late, had been re-thinking the implications that his landmark book had created. I wonder if this is part of a larger reconsideration on his part of the disastrous system of which he had been a part for many years at Covenant Life Church, the mother ship for Sovereign Grace Ministries.

His error in this case was not in his challenge of the dating culture, as there is a LOT to challenge about that. Nor was he particularly wrong in suggesting that other alternatives could be more equitable.

The problem is that IKDG was used as a pretext for churches to impose “thou shalts” and “thou shalt nots” where the Scriptures impose no such thing. And Harris, for the better part of 20 years, lifted not one finger to contest this dynamic. He went on to celebrity status, and would go on to be the handpicked successor to C.J. Mahaney at Covenant Life Church.

Fact is, other than fleeing sexual immorality, the Scriptures provide no hard “thou shalts” when it comes to finding a mate. Biblical methods used include (a) the groom’s father (Abraham) sending a team to find a wife for his son (Isaac), (b) working 7 years for the bride you want (Rachel) and then getting the one you didn’t want (Leah), (c) killing 200 enemy troops (David), lopping off their foreskins, and presenting said foreskins as proof to the bride’s father (King Saul) of said conquests, (d) a woman (Ruth) proposing to a man in a situation of clear sexual tension (Boaz), the list goes on…

This is not to say that courtship is bad; it isn’t. Nor is this to say that a man ought not consult the family of his prospective bride before proposing; that, in fact, may be highly-recommended depending on the family. Nor is this to say that Christians shouldn’t exercise better ethics in the dating culture; they should.

The issue is taking something that is otherwise good (e.g. courtship) and arrogating that to a “thou shalt” where the Bible does no such thing. Is Harris responsible for this dynamic? Not necessarily, but he is responsible for not confronting it when doing so would have staved off a lot of dysfunction.

Instead, Harris helped spearhead a paradigm that made it even HARDER for Christians who are single to get married, at a time when this is already more difficult than any other time in the last 2000 years.

Having said that, I will give him credit where credit is due: it took some serious cajones for him to admit this error. I hope Mr. Mahaney is taking notes.