Man's duty to protect woman…

I stumbled onto our government’s Selective Service website this morning. When I was 18 years old I was required to register for selective service (the draft). Registration is still required for all young men in the US, but it is only a matter of time before women are included in the same requirement. Why is this? Read this page of the Selective Services website and the trajectory and sentiment of the armed forces should be obvious to you.

When these issues were debated in the 1990s, the stated reason women were not required to register for the draft was that they were restricted from serving in positions in the military that involved “direct ground combat.” In 2013, a unanimous recommendation by the Joint Chiefs of Staff called upon all military branches to “eliminate all unnecessary gender-based barriers to service.” This work is intended to be completed by January 1, 2016 and will result in the removal of any barrier to women being conscripted into combat positions in the military.

This direction is a shameful abdication of man’s calling to cultivate and to keep (Gen. 2:15) those weaker vessels (1 Peter 3:7) entrusted to his care… Continue reading

Oh, the irony…

I have sometimes made use of a very notable place in Peter, concerning Sarah: Sarah had a speech to her husband in Genesis 18:12, she called her husband lord. There was only that one good word in a bad, unbelieving speech; but yet when the Apostle mentions that speech in 1 Peter 3:6, the Holy Ghost leaves all the bad, and commends her for calling her husband ‘lord’, for putting a reverent title upon her husband. Thus how graciously God deals with us! If there is but one good word among a great many ill, what an interpretation God makes!

-Jeremiah Burroughs, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment

The end justifies the means (our "local" #giftedcommunicator, part 2)…

NewSpringBuildingThe numbers-obsessed evangelical church will do anything to produce results—and those results are understood to be only and always the blessing of God. Stephen Furtick, pastor of Charlotte’s Elevation Church, revealed the magic behind the massive number of “spontaneous” baptisms at his church: put 15 planted people in the audience who quickly rise up just after he gives a call for people to come forward during the service. Here’s the plan of attack, outlined in “Spontaneous Baptisms How-To Guide“:

Screen Shot 2014-09-03 at 8.56.36 AMWhen this came to light was Furtick ashamed or repentant? Of course not. Out came the explanations (denials and indignation)…

When they started talking this week on the news about our baptisms, I got hot. Yes, sir. I got hot. They were saying that we manipulate our baptisms, that we have people planted in the audience who pretend to go get baptized. For the record, we have never planted anybody in our church to pretend to be baptized. I am too scared of God to do something like that. Please. Please. … And to take the fact that we have volunteers who get up and lead the way so that people know where to go and to act as if they were pretending to be baptized and to negate the sincere faith decision of precious people who had one of the most meaningful experiences of their life, that’s just sick.

Essentially what he is saying is that none of the 15 plants were actually baptized. They certainly did make people think they were going forward to get baptized. It’s manipulation and Elevation Church continues to practice and promote it. It results in people having “one of the most meaningful experiences of their life” and so a little dishonesty is not so bad. The end justifies the means.

Then there is this which is worse… Continue reading

Be a fisher of men…

1. With your encouragement…

2 Cor. 1:3   Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. 6 But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer; 7 and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort.

Did you know that your difficulties and the comforts that followed from them may be for the purpose of witnessing to others, showing others the comfort to be found in Jesus Christ? We don’t reject suffering as being of the devil. We accept it as being from God and useful as an opportunity to witness to others about what we live for. Continue reading

Honoring the weaker vessel…

The Times posed a question to a number of opinion-sharers:

A 2010 Harris poll found that 80 percent of Americans think that women are treated with less chivalry today than in the past. Is it time for the once-romantic and noble concept to peter out, or should it evolve to be more inclusive for our liberated and cynical age?

Editor-in-chief of the blog “The Art of Manliness,” Brett McKay stepped out of line and made some assertions based upon—gasp!—the differences between the sexes:

If we can have legislation that implies that men are (generally) physically stronger and women are (generally) more vulnerable and thus require federally mandated protection, is it really wrong, and could it not actually be beneficial, to have some social rituals that serve as a symbol and reminder of these differences between the sexes?

His view was balanced out by the expected feminist oblivion of Ms. Collazo:

Chivalry is a behavior that masquerades as a courtesy while concealing a dramatic assertion of inequality between the sexes. There is no way around it: it’s about viewing women as fragile, delicate creatures who require special treatment. And it needs to die.

Whether or not the old concept of chivalry is the right approach to the relationship between men and women and represents the best way to honor those differences, I don’t know. What we think of as chivalry today is likely a caricature of what it really was, arising from a post-Christian interpretation of the culture from which it arose. A Christian Medievalist (like Lewis or Wilson) could give an answer.

Scripture happily defines and divides and distinguishes and delineates. A few verses come to mind that will help us answer the question of how men who desire to revel in (obey) God’s creation order should relate to women. Let these verses sink in. Feel their countercultural glory.

  • The Holy Spirit’s exhortation to the young man Timothy regarding his relationships to a number of other demographics: “Do not sharply rebuke an older man, but rather appeal to him as a father, to the younger men as brothers, the older women as mothers, and the younger women as sisters, in all purity” (1 Tim. 5:1-2).
  • The Holy Spirit’s exhortation to husbands: “You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker (or, as the NASB has in the margins, “the weaker vessel”), since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered” (1 Peter 3:7).

Men are commanded to treat women as “mothers,” “sisters,” “weaker vessels,” and “fellow heirs.” Accordingly, men are required to treat women with respect, with purity, with protection, and with honor.

The modern feminist would jettison all of that glory for one thing: absolute equality (see Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron” to understand how I’m using that word). Men are now obligated not to respect what is weak, not to feel any necessity to protect (sexually and physically) what is weak, not to honor what is weak. That sort of equality requires men to treat women only and always as equals. It makes a heartless coward of every man and a shrew of every woman.

Wifely Wednesday: Widows in Training

1 Timothy 5:3-16, has always been a passage I have found very helpful in practical instruction for godly womanhood. In this chapter, Paul details what qualifications a woman must have in order to be considered a “widow indeed,” and therefore worthy of the assistance of the church. I think this is an essential passage for those of us who are not widows to study, since it details how we should be living now in order to be acquiring the godly qualities we should have by the time we are older and our race is almost run. And not simply so that we will one day be eligible for a handout from the church (although that is a comforting result), but because having the title of “widow indeed” indicates great godliness of character. I think these verses can be helpful to single women as well, even verse 10 which requires that “she has brought up children.” I have been blessed by many single women who have faithfully sought to be mothers to the children God has put in their lives, including me when I was younger and my own children now. Motherhood is an activity that does not require the physical bearing of children.

So all of us who are wondering how we should live our lives now can benefit from a careful reading of 1 Timothy 5:3-16. Rather than draw out all of the applications that younger women can take from this passage, I will simply put it here for you to read and think about. What activities should you be hard at work with now? What qualities of demeanor should you cultivate in this season of your life? What actions show an ungodly bent and need to be pruned immediately?

Honor widows who are widows indeed; but if any widow has children or grandchildren, they must first learn to practice piety in regard to their own family and to make some return to their parents; for this is acceptable in the sight of God. Now she who is a widow indeed and who has been left alone, has fixed her hope on God and continues in entreaties and prayers night and day. But she who gives herself to wanton pleasure is dead even while she lives. Prescribe these things as well, so that they may be above reproach. But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. A widow is to be put on the list only if she is not less than sixty years old, having been the wife of one man, having a reputation for good works; and if she has brought up children, if she has shown hospitality to strangers, if she has washed the saints’ feet, if she has assisted those in distress, and if she has devoted herself to every good work. *But refuse to put younger widows on the list, for when they feel sensual desires in disregard of Christ, they want to get married, thus incurring condemnation, because they have set aside their previous pledge. At the same time they also learn to be idle, as they go around from house to house; and not merely idle, but also gossips and busybodies, talking about things not proper to mention. Therefore, I want younger widows to get married, bear children, keep house, and give the enemy no occasion for reproach; for some have already turned aside to follow Satan. If any woman who is a believer has dependent widows, she must assist them and the church must not be burdened, so that it may assist those who are widows indeed (1 Timothy 5:3-16).

Read this short devotional by R.C. Sproul for help in understanding what Paul was referring to when he says that younger widows should not be on the list because they might be tempted to “set aside their previous pledge.” At the end there are links to his other devotionals on this passage with even more good stuff.

~Sarah Dionne

Wifely Wednesday: Better Late…

IMG_0003Well here it is, 12:30 in the afternoon and I only just now realized it’s Wednesday! I’ve been busy all morning cleaning out the homeschool cupboard. Finished text books are put on the bookshelf or cycled down to the younger sibling for next year, finished workbooks are filed away in case the great state of South Carolina should ever decide to check up on what I’m teaching my children, mini pencils and those without erasers have been thrown away, new pencils are sharpened and put in the basket, craft supplies were weeded out and reorganized. And, of course, all this cleaning had the delightful effect of making my children suddenly struck with a passion to use all the craft supplies we own. Which means I’ll get to clean it all again this afternoon.

Does this happen in your house? A newly cleaned room becomes the one room that everybody wants to play in? My attitude on this was changed radically after I read a post by Rachel Jankovic on the Femina blog. In it she said,

Imagine you spent the day rearranging and cleaning up the living space in your home. You have flowers and clean curtains and fresh throw pillows and maybe a candle. You are pleased. The right lights are on. Things are good. And then, like the wolf on the fold, the people in your life descend upon your work. They peel off socks and put their feet on the coffee table. They come from afar bringing baskets of craftiness to spread out upon the couch. They pop popcorn and carelessly munch. Someone goes so far as to get out the puzzles. In such a moment, it would be easy (don’t ask me how I know) to become shrill. It is easy to see each chin-glancing popcorn shrapnel as an insult. “Don’t you value the work I do?!” “Don’t you care how long this took me?!” “Why can’t you just not do this??” Even if you don’t say it, you may feel a little despair, a little resentment, and a little “why do I even try?”.

But the truth is, we need a new perspective. It is moments like this that should give us a lot of job satisfaction. These people are enjoying you. They are enjoying your work. But, like a great dinner all laid out on the table, you don’t enjoy it without touching it. A chef would not look at dishes coming back to the kitchen untouched as a sign of success. It would not mean great things about your work. Yet this is what we want from the work we do in our homes.

I’m sure most of you have noticed the magnetic power of what you clean. Clean the bookshelf up, and everyone wants to read. Organize the little toys, and everyone wants to play with the things they have been callously walking on for days. This is a sign that you are succeeding, that your people love your work. Think of it like food, because that is how it is getting used.

So as summer vacation takes off and our children are gathered around us, let’s take satisfaction in the pleasure they take from us and from our work. It may not come in the form of adoring praise or maintaining the pristine cleanliness of our homes. More likely it will be sticky faces from the lunch we made or elaborate forts built after we read a book that inspired their inner architect. Hooray for messy, happy summer!

~Sarah Dionne

Not popular but very helpful…

God didn’t make woman to be a sex object. But he didn’t make her to be an infantry soldier or tank driver either. He made her to bring the next generation into existence and civilize it, not destroy it. And He made her to keep the present generation from hurtling into hell, through intellect and creativity, spiritual concern and emotion, love and courage.

-Joe Bayly, “Is This What Women Want?” in Out of My Mind: The Best of Joe Bayly, 124.

Wifely Wednesday: Where the Women are Strong and the Men are Good Looking

imageIt occurred to me recently that when a lady is called a “strong woman,” what is usually meant is not that she is strong, but that she is good at pursuing her own interests. This is far from strength. Rather, it is one of the most basic forms of weakness. Anyone who has watched a nine month old baby scoot himself slowly and with great effort across a room to reach a forbidden object will know what I mean. Is that baby strong? I wouldn’t say so (other than the fact that the baby is able to coordinate his will with his muscles). I would say that the baby is displaying a weakness common to most of us: lack of self control.

On the other hand, a woman who humbly obeys Scripture’s call to submit to her husband and to have a gentle and quiet spirit is quite likely to be perceived as weak. But this couldn’t be farther from the truth! Which takes more strength: to conform your own wishes to that of your husband’s or to stick with your guns and not give in? To take every thought captive or to express all your feelings? To die to self or to live for self?

To answer those questions, there is no better place to look than the example of our Savior, who “emptied Himself” and “humbled Himself by becoming obedient.” Of all the people that have ever walked on this earth, Christ had the potential and the resources to really be something big in the world. Yet would any of us dare say that it was a shame He lived just to fulfill the goals of someone else? His desire was to obey His Heavenly Father. And with strength beyond my comprehension He denied Himself, set His face to obedience, conformed His will to another’s, and suffered so that what someone else wanted Him to do would be done. Weakness? I think not.

So the next time submission to your husband is required of you (and remember, by definition submission only happens when you don’t agree with each other!) and your own desires rear their pretty heads, remember that true strength is found in cheerful, willing self-denial. Anybody can do whatever it is that they already wanted to do. But only a woman made “strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might” can look to her Savior, follow His example, and bless her husband by conforming her wants to his. That’s a strong woman!

~Sarah Dionne

"Honey, we're changing our name to Dylan. Actually, you better pick…"

People do not know what they are doing; because they do not know what they are undoing. – from Chesterton’s The Thing

Just stumbled upon this article by the Oxford and Princeton ethicist formerly known as William Crouch. He’s formerly known as Crouch because he and his fiancée have determined to both change their surnames when they are married. His facile mind has reasoned thus:

As with so many gender-biased traditions, this one has pretty disturbing roots. The legal concept of coverture came from England and caught on in 19th century America: the idea was that a woman, upon marriage, becomes the property of her husband. She had no right to vote or take out a bank account because she could rely on her owner to do that for her. And, of course, she couldn’t be raped by her husband—because she was essentially her husband’s property, and he was free to do with her what he wished.

We’ve made progress on these issues (though some remarkably late). But the tradition of taking the man’s name remains and, given its background, it seems to me it’s simply bad taste to carry on with it, in the same way that it would be bad taste to put on a minstrel show, no matter how pure the intentions.

You might say that we need some rule, and that taking the man’s name is as good as any other. But is this true? Why not go with whichever name sounds better? Or which name is associated with the coolest people? (MacAskill clearly beats my birth surname “Crouch” on both counts, having a better ring and being the name of both Giant MacAskill—a forebear of my fiancée’s who has a claim to be the world’s strongest ever man—and Danny MacAskill, a trial-biking legend who, also being descended from Giant MacAskill, must be a very distant cousin.)  Or any other choice made by both parties.

Crouch has added his voice to a growing post-Christian chorus whose understanding is completely ignorant of God’s Word. It is becoming increasingly clear that the Christian capital that has steadied the ethics of our nation for some time is running out. The radical egalitarian agenda is incapable of recognizing, honoring, and rejoicing in authority. The suggestion that a woman take her husband’s name as a sign of his authority is rejected as a relic from a dark, oppressive, unenlightened age. Cranmer’s old vows that the wife “love, honor, and obey” are laughable and insufferable to Crouch and his fiancée.

The reason a woman takes a man’s name is not that she becomes his property but that she gives testimony to her husband’s God-given authority and delights herself in the comfort and protection that follow therefrom. As I just said, such authority/hierarchy/patriarchy is hated today. Evangelicals hate what God’s Word says about men and women and marriage (for example, check out the website of Christians for Biblical Equality), and they save face by mocking Scripture’s teaching. And so today’s male is expected to limp wrist it from the wedding altar on, which he’s only happy to do because he’s thoroughly healed from his neutering.

Scripture teaches us that authority is good. The problem today is we’ve believed the lie taught to us…that authority is bad and only and ever used for oppression. Such is the case when authority is dislodged from Scripture. When there is no governor on authority, in the form of all men everywhere submitting to their Creator, then we do indeed get oppression. Yet, as we submit ourselves to God’s ethics, authority is blessing and comfort and assurance and a cozy blanket with a cup of hot chocolate on a cold winter night.

The woman takes her husband’s name in order to show respect to her man (Eph. 5:33). The woman takes her husband’s name in order to announce to the world she has a protector and a lover (Eph. 5:25-27). The woman takes her husband’s name as a sign of her deep commitment to her husband, following Eve’s lead (after reading Gen. 2:18, read the Holy Spirit’s explanation in 1 Cor. 11:8-9). The woman takes her husband’s name in order to honor God’s Word (Titus 2:5), to witness to the marriage of Christ and His Bride, the Church (Eph. 5:22-33), and to thumb her nose at the world’s hatred of femininity (Gen. 2:23).

Or, you could listen to the sage advice of our clear-thinking ethicists and go with whichever name is associated with the coolest people… Honey, we’re changing our surname to Dylan.