It Ain’t All Money and Politics

A (very) lay historian’s observation: Marxism most often sees people as victims caught in the machinery of economic forces; they can only be helped by government or revolution.

A (not so very) lay Christian’s observation: The Bible sees people as made in the image of a wonderful God who is sovereign over everything that happens in their world and will judge each of them.

I feel a lot of the former in the cultural bloodstream around me. It may be mere materialism (the belief that matter, that the observable physical world, is all that there is) instead of thought-out Marxism, but the two are shades of the same color. There’s an assumption of the moment that the greatest problems are economic and material and can best be resolved by governments (the Bible might say “kings”). This assumption can bear itself out in the belief (which I’ve felt from conservative upper middle class types and from impoverished liberal types and I’ll guess runs the whole gamut of demography) that human beings are often just poor, sad dupes in the power plays of the rich or the leaders, and tsk, tsk, ain’t it just unfair?

There is great injustice in this world, but human beings are not on the throne. They are not, for bad or for good, in ultimate control. That foundational tenet of Marxism is wrong: Neither people nor their economies are the driving force of history. That would be the Lord of Lords.

Good men and women must fight evil and injustice. But not as “woke” people aware of the conspiratorial human forces manipulating the world. They must fight injustice as the faithful who know the heart of the God who is fully provident and in charge of everything that happens on this planet. The thing that the most unjust soul in creation (Satan) fears is not political activists but active Christians. Christians have the elixir the victimized of the world need, and Christians have in them the Spirit of the God who became the most innocent victim of all. Christians have better medicine (and are better medicine) than mere economic or governmental upheavals. True, faithful, obedient Christians have a stronger Power to tap into than this contemporary concoction of materialistic political hope.

Put another way, the Bible has a truer and stronger message than political materialism. The Bible is a better, more accurate window into justice than a man-centered, merely politically charged worldview.

Marx was thoroughly wrong about who rules.

There is a King.

But just one.

Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, ‘Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.’ He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, ‘As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.’

Psalm 2:1-6

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The Best Punch Is Knowing Who We Are

You will never have a meaningful, full-blooded response to the sin of racial hatred without a robust, widespread, unequivocal belief that human beings are universally made in the image of God. And in that regard, the fights against racism and against abortion are fights that call for the same punch.

Our culture (the mood and beliefs of our day and place) does not hold that human beings are God-made and God-defined. Our institutions don’t typically and officially uphold it either. We are currently in a state of believing that humans are the result of natural selection and that brining God into the question of what humans are or what they should do is misguided, tacky, or maybe even abhorrent. The problem is that if we are merely biological pieces of matter, why are any of us owed dignity? How could any of us be sacrosanct? You say a human is worth something, and I say, “Says who?”

We must, culture-wide, from the roots up, acknowledge that human beings, all of them, are not merely biological pieces of matter. We must acknowledge our Creator and acknowledge what He created.

When a white person compares a black person to an ape, when a Planned Parenthood employee commends the abortion of a “fetus,” when pregnancies are snidely referred to as “breeding,” the Imago Dei is being assaulted. The glory of God in humanity, all humanity (not just that humanity we find useful or inoffensive) is being spat upon, sneered at. Humans are worth something because the God who made them says so. They are special because the Author who spoke this swirling majesty of light and sound and tragedy and pain and stars and earthworms and butane and Mt. Hood and the jostling cloud storms of Jupiter made them as His most intimate character. They are in His image. No bobcat or humpback whale or rock (if he could cry out) can say that. Humans are special.

Without a culture-wide belief in the divinely appointed preciousness of each human person, we aren’t going to get a square punch at racial animus, violence, or abortion. We need to hit hate and apathy in the jaw. We need to land a solid blow.

We need to know who we are.

You Won’t Get It With Feminism


Our culture does not encourage men to marry, have lots of children, and then lead those families in sacrificial love.  Because of that, our society is filled with men who are not pressured to control their sinful sexual impulses and instead enjoy romance and sex with one woman in faithful marriage for their entire lives.  Our society is filled with men who are not praised for marriage, faithfulness, hard work, teaching their children, and submitting to Godly authority themselves.  Our culture admires rebellion and sexual deviance and then is shocked to find rebels and sexual deviants in its midst.  

And what is currently called “feminism” is a part of that foolish cultural curriculum.  

To be clear, I am not rebuking the belief that men and women are equal, which is God-given truth.  That I gladly hold as gloriously true as much as I do the personhood of men, of the unborn, of those with Down Syndrome, and of every single son or daughter of Adam and Eve.  No, modern Western feminism teaches much more than simply that.  It teaches that women should be able to murder other women simply because the latter are currently in the former’s womb.  It teaches that motherhood is a lesser achievement than a large salary.  But at the moment I have in mind simply its teaching (I think on the syllabus under “patriarchy”) that men should not want to marry and then sacrificially lead their wives.  

Modern “feminism” helps to create the very thing it detests.  It (appropriately) detests slovenly, uncontrolled, evil men who prey upon those weaker than them.  Unfortunately, it helps to create such men by fighting against society’s demanding of men to be what God calls them to be:  Loving leaders of families they are given by God.  It tells men not to use their strength for what they are supposed to use it for, and then detests what evil things they do use it for.  

Make no mistake:  These men will, if they do not repent and call on Christ to bear God’s wrath for all of their sins, spend eternity in Hell in His just wrath (along with everyone else who will not turn to Christ in this life).  But modern Western feminism is a part of this maelstrom of sexual violence and confusion.  It is not the solution.  It says that nothing is solid, anything goes.  And as it has gained influence, men (and women) are acting like nothing is solid and anything goes.  I’m sure most feminists would react furiously to that contention, but I think it’s fairly obvious, and so I contend it.  

Despite what feminism says, God has made men physically stronger than women and has commanded that they use that strength, as well as the rest of what makes them men, to sacrificially lead a wife and children (as well as to defend those generally weaker than they are).  A society that praises such men and denounces those who do the opposite, as well as teaches men how to be such men, will generally have more of them.  It will have more men who marry one woman, have children with her, work hard to provide for them, stay sexually and romantically faithfully to that wife for life, guard that family from physical and (if they are Christian) spiritual danger, and teach the children how to be good and capable human beings.  

Do you want that kind of society?  I do.  And I believe that God does.  

A society and its culture cannot convert men, but it can restrain them.  God lays out this principal in places like Romans 13, when Paul teaches that God has given humanity the governing authorities to at least restrain those who will not be truly changed into saints by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  

Let’s wrap it up.  I’m going to take my two oldest outside.  My exhortation to my society is this:  Abandon what we call “feminism” and drop, even faster, your normalization of pornography, adultery, unmarital sex, homosexual behavior, and attempted gender bending.  In place of these, uphold the beauty of femininity and the wonder of masculinity.  

God made both masculinity and femininity, just as He made us male and female.  There is wonder and majesty in this, in the grand story God is telling about Himself through men being brave and strong and loving and gentle and hard as rock for things, in women being beautiful and courageous and soft and childbearing and nurturing and loving and obedient and life-giving.  It is wondrous and, like all things He created, good.  

I want my society to fight against what men are being with the truth of what they should be.  

Modern “feminism” is fighting against an evil with a lie.  

Evil is much more effectively put down with truth.  

The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.  And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 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.’  Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.’  Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them.  And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name.  The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field.  But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him.  So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh.  And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.  Then the man said, ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.’  Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed. 

Genesis 2:15-25

Politics Is Too Small A Story


So this past weekend the New York Times published an editorial that I think was pretty revealing about a pulse I sense in the current American bloodstream.  If I can put a name to that pulse:  A lot of Americans currently see themselves primarily as actors in a political play.  Whether they are Republicans or Democrats, conservatives or liberals, one of the most interesting parts of life to them is this political narrative.  They are willing to make major life choices (like, ahem, who they will be friends with) based on political storylines.  

Now, I think some of this is due to the fact that the secular west that America is a part of has largely removed at least three major components from the center of human life:  Worship of a deity (whether a false one or the one true God of Jesus Christ), marriage, and bearing and raising children.  But it has to put something at the center of its people’s lives, because human beings inherently live for things.  So since deity, marriage, and raising children are pushed to the cultural side, the secular West places a cosmic political battle at the heart of life.  It says that this is what we live for.  By contrast, I don’t think the political landscape is central to the average Nigerian, who is plugged into a church and has six children.

But more than talking about the cause, I wanted to take a second and simply highlight a better story (and, thankfully, a truer story) than the one that cradles mindsets like this editorialist’s.  

Human beings need to see themselves in story.  We are made this way by the Author of the grand Autobiography around us.  This editorialist’s posture makes sense if you see yourself in a story where every human being is either an oppressor or oppressed (or an instrument of oppression).   But that is not the story the Bible tells.  And hence it is not the story we are in.  

The Bible places us in a much grander story, a cosmic narrative in which a spiritual rebel against the good Creating King has seduced humanity to follow him.  And this rebellion has scarred the universe by bringing upon it the curse of death and suffering.  But in this shadowed and groaning world, that good King has entered the drama as chief groaner, and all to take into His own heart and flesh the pain and agony and judgment and death that our sin makes us deserve.  

Through that sacrifice that He willingly and passionately made, and because of the victory He won by coming back from the other side of death, this King is ransoming for Himsef a people out of this wicked rebellion.  He is winning them back.  And He will one day plant them on a remade world, a new creation that is everything that should have been and everything that once was.  

That is the story we are in.  Not one of merely political schema or of America versus North Korea.  Not one of Good People Group A against Malevolent People Group B.  Not one of one humanly constructed ideaology triumphing over another.  (Not even one of how far I can rise at the office or how many people I can get to admire me on Facebook.)  This current American narrative of one political group heroically fighting against a villainous counterpart is too small to live for and too fragile to hope in.  

And that is the heartbeat, an all too common one, that I see revealed in this editorial.  And it’s a sad one.  A person who believes the greatest struggle is politics has no greater demon to fight than the other party.  He has no greater worship song to sing than the voices of his favorite pundits.  He has no stronger altar to kneel at than the one engraved with his favorite political issue.  

We have a greater story to live for than Barack Obama versus Donald Trump.  We have a better hope than either house of Congress can provide.  There is a King on the throne, and He has done something remarkable.  

And it’s not done yet.  

He is returning to finish what He started.  

He Loves Kids, So Should We


One of the indicators of how much you love God is how much you love what God loves.

And God loves children.

And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’

Genesis 1:28

Now they were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them. And when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them.  But Jesus called them to him, saying, ‘Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.  Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.’

Luke 18:15-17

Much of our culture seems to view children as a nuisance.  Where C.S. Lewis could once say that he didn’t much care for the company of children but saw that as a defect in himself, our day and place seems to see the presence of children (and especially of a lot of children) as itself a defect.

There doesn’t seem to be much of a premium placed on childbearing.  Children don’t seem to be viewed as a blessing.  A husband and wife having more than a kid or two is usually seen as a weird thing.

Our culture doesn’t appear to value this valuable thing.

I say this with three kids being bad in the other room and just after a shift of nursery work this morning at our church’s service that was a touch exhausting.

Childbirth was God’s creation.  And God is the author, the pleased author, of each human soul.  So to despise children is to despise the creation of God.  And there is no way to hate what God creates and at the same time have a healthy relationship with Him.  

I know kids can be loud and annoying.  But I don’t think that’s the root of our culture’s disdain for them (however widespread it is).  Instead, I think we have a particularly self-absorbed spirit in this generation.  I think we don’t like being inconvenienced.  I think we don’t like sacrifice-on-demand.  I think we want to give of ourselves, if we want to do it at all, on our schedule.  The work of disciplining and teaching and hugging and joking and answering the questions of and feeding and providing and bathing some little person when and how he needs it, not when and how we’re ready to do it, is repulsive to a self-centered heart.  This is why parenting has been so instructional for me.  It has forced me to love God more and rely on Him more.  The reality is that I’m a selfish jerk apart from Christ, and through parenting and being around other people’s kids via the church, God has forced me to be more like His Son.

God has forced me to love Him and other living human beings more through parenting.

The more you love God, the more you’ll love what He loves.  If our churches don’t value kids, if we don’t value kids, we may need to perform a little self-examination on our faith.  And if you agree with me that our culture doesn’t have a good appreciation of children, childbearing, and child rearing, then we have an even greater responsibility, as Christians, to get our hearts in line with His.

A watching world needs to see what a healthy love of kids looks like.

60 Seconds On the Truest Love


Worldview matters.  Ask anyone who’s spent time in both Riyadh and Beverly Hills.  Or in Pyongyang and Paris.  How a people views the world dictates much of what they do.  And why they do it.  

Sharia reveals Islam to be an ultimately political worldview.  Contemporary life in the West reveals secularism to be a materialistic worldview.  But what we see in Scripture is that the Trinity reveals Biblical Christianity to be a relational worldview.  The Bible teaches that the foundation of reality is a God who has always existed in relationship with Himself.   

True Christians worship a God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and who always has been.  We worship a God who did not need to make people to love; He already was loving and indeed Himself was love.  Instead He made people and things out of pure grace, and then invited human beings into the blessed love that He already enjoyed.  

Christians worship a God who has always been in community, a God who loves to love.  The Father has always enjoyed the Son, the Son has always loved the Father, the Spirit has always adored and glorified the Father and Son, and all the way around and through the Godhead.  We worship a God who is three persons, each of whom is thoroughly other-centered.  

Compare that to the gods of Beverly Hills.  Or Riyadh.  Or Pyongyang.  Or ESPN.  

Unlike the world’s other worldviews and religions and messages, Biblical Christianity proclaims a God of pervasive, truthful, complete compassion.  We worship a God who has never known a moment without radical, unfathomable love.

True Christians worship a God of three persons, each loving the others in beautiful, harmonious community.  We worship a God of love.  

And remember:  You become like what you worship.   

Their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands.  They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see.  They have ears, but do not hear; noses, but do not smell.  They have hands, but do not feel; feet, but do not walk; and they do not make a sound in their throat.  Those who make them become like them; so do all who trust in them.  O Israel, trust in the Lord!

Psalm 115:4-9(a)

Transgenderism, Homosexual Behavior, and Racial Hatred


Yes, all 3 have something in common.  

I grieve what transgender confusion, homosexual  behavior, and racial hatred each due to human beings.  What do I mean?  They are each, in their own way, a symptom of the same disease:  A desire to be God.  They are each an effort to redefine or recreate what God has already defined, what God has already created.  

And each of these symptoms has at least one effect in common:  They do violence to the human who manifests them.  Which is why I hate to see what they do in people I care about.  

True human flourishing can only happen when humans enjoy and delight in what God has created, how He created it, and what He created it for.  So, as it relates to these 3 harmful evils, let me say:  

It is not good for humanity (or for individual human beings) to think

  • That maleness and femaleness are interchangeable (or identical in every way, or arbitrary)
  • That it is good for a man to be romantic or sexual with another man, or a woman to be romantic or sexual with another woman
  •  That skin color is a true and right distinction between human beings.

None of these 3 are good. Transgenderism, homosexual behavior, and racial pride each attempt to disfigure and obscure the image of God in human beings and the plan that God has for human beings.  Each of them does violence to the imago Dei.  

The truth is that God did design men and women as different with different roles to play in His Kingdom, different notes to sing in His song.  He did design romantic affection and sexual relations to be between a man and his wife.  And He most certainly did not designate skin color to be any sort of a meaningfully distinguishing characteristic between human beings (you will find God referencing His approval or disapproval on different nations in the Bible, but nowhere does He seem to even have a category for “race,” referring strictly to skin color).  

We ignore what God made, how He made it, and why He made it to our own peril.  

God made human beings to be and do glorious things, namely as image bearers of Himself, to enjoy and worship Him, and to have fruitful dominion over the Earth.  When we try to be or do things that He did not design us to be or do, when we look at humans or humanity or gender in a way contrary to the way He intends, we are walking a dangerous road.  We are taking a path away from joy, meaning, and dominion, and one towards pain, despair, and slavery.  

It is suicidal to set out on your own, humanity. 

Just ask the first Adam.  

For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 

Romans 8:22

For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. 

Romans 1:26-32

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned— for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come. 

Romans 5:12-14