“Did You Know…? Mom…? Dad…?”

If you have one of the varied entertainment packages and aren’t stuck with network TV or Netflix, you’ve probably seen the commercial (over and over) telling parents they need to get their 11 or 12 year old sons or daughters vaccinated against HPV (Human Papillomavirus).   This is the most common sexually transmitted disease in the US and apparently it’s the only thing parents have to worry about with their soon-to-be adolescent youngsters.  The commercial ends with a young girl or boy asking the question in the title.

It’s a telling commentary on the state of our culture that it believes that this is what is to be parents’ main concern.

Children are a great responsibility.  Through Moses, God has some instructions to Israel about how they were to raise their children.  In Deuteronomy 11:19, He said, “You shall teach them [“these words of mine,” v. 18] to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.”   He has a great deal to say about about marriage, intimacy, family, about life in general and our responsibility to Him, to ourselves and to others, and about the results of disobeying or disregarding His Word.  We see the results of this all around our society and culture in messed-up kids and adults.  It’s not up to the church or the Sunday School to teach your kids about the things of God; these may have a place, but it’s your responsibility. 

“Did you know…?  Mom…?  Dad…?”

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Violence Against Women

A lot of attention has been paid recently, and rightly so, to the video of the despicable brute who knocked his fiancee against the railing of an elevator and then dragged her unconscious body out of the elevator.  This “man” (I can’t think of a word that as a Christian I can use to describe him otherwise) is a sports figure and a lot of discussion has centered around what should happen to him.  My own opinion is that at the very least he should be banned from participation in any sport at any level and in any way, for the rest of his life.  And to be held up to disgust and revulsion as the scum that he is.  Probably, neither will happen.  In fact, I understand that there’s some talk about making him a “mentor” to younger players on the team.  *sigh*

Unfortunately, he isn’t the only perpetrator of violence against women and there have been several incidents since then in which men have been asked to resign for their positions because of it.

What does one expect in a society where women are referred to as “bitches” and “hos”?  Where there is no respect whatever for them as women?  Where they have no respect for themselves, but have been persuaded by feminism that they have a right to be as vile as men think they have the right to be?  Violence against women is only a small part of the price of “free love”.  And I’m not blaming them for what happens to them.  It should never happen to them.

There was a time, not so long ago, when such violence was generally unthinkable.  It happened, to be sure, it’s always happened, but there was an overriding understanding that a man does not hit a woman.  Women were to be protected, to be cared for, to be respected.  They were the wives we swore to love, honor and cherish, the mothers of our children, the heart of our home.  All this has pretty much been relegated to the trash heap of history.

There’s an Old Testament incident which, in my opinion, illustrates perfectly one of the main reasons, if not the main reason, why there is so much violence against women.  It’s found in 2 Samuel 13.  Though I won’t quote it here, you should stop and read it.  It won’t take but a couple of minutes.

Briefly summarized, the story is this:  David had several sons by different wives, as well as at least one daughter, a beautiful girl named Tamar.  One of her half-brothers began to lust after her and it began to affect him physically.  One of his friends noticed this and asked him what was wrong.  The brother confessed his desire for his half-sister.  This friend gave him an idea about how he could satisfy that desire.  Well, he did so and there is a telling verse which is the verse I’m thinking of for this post:

Then Amnon hated her exceedingly, so that the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her, 2 Samuel 13:15.

When she protested against this treatment, he had her bodily removed and the door locked after her.

This OT incident speaks perfectly to one reason for violence against women today.  When the main thing a couple has is their sexual experiences, when that’s gone or diminishes, there little or nothing left.  They have nothing else in common to keep them together.  Often, as we saw in Amnon’s case, “love” quickly turns to hate.  The man feels cheated or disgusted or something, so he takes it out on the woman.

Sexual fulfillment was meant to be the consummation of a marriage, not the commencement of a “relationship.”  That word in itself speaks volumes.  No longer is a couple “courting,” though that phrase went out before I was born.  They’re in a “relationship.”  They’re not married; they’ve just moved in together.

Life consists of so much more than what happens in the bedroom.  Make no mistake; God created us as sexual beings, but because of what happens when it all goes sideways: violence against women, among other things, He also created the situation in which it’s to be enjoyed.  If there’s nothing but sex in a “relationship,” when that goes, then there’s nothing left.

As long as the attitude prevails that “it’s just sex,” the situation will never improve.

This no doubt is a complex problem, but the main cause is the promiscuous and immoral attitude so prevalent in our society.  Until that improves, the situation will remain the same, or get worse.

The few words of this post won’t solve the problem, but they propose a starting place.  Nothing physical without or apart from being married.  And it doesn’t deal with the problem of abuse of the wife in marriage.  My own view is that such men ought to be shot, but then I tend toward an Old Testament view of justice.

This would also mitigate the situation with rape.  The current discussion about “when does yes mean yes?” etc., would be greatly reduced if there were no sexual expectations apart from marriage.  I understand, as things are currently going, that this will never happen again.  It would, however, be a start.

 

Why Should Men Get Away With It?

This is the flip side, so to speak, of my post: “Why Would You Do That to Your Wife?”

Ladies sometimes get irritated by what they see as a double standard in moral issues in the Old Testament.  Men seem to get away with a lot more than women.  I don’t mean to be flippant, but men could have many wives and concubines, a woman might have to prove she had been a virgin on her wedding night, nothing gets cut off if a man messes around, and, last, but not least, there’s “the water of jealousy.”

Though we’re not going to develop it, Numbers 5 describes a ritual in which a jealous husband can prove or disprove whether his wife has been unfaithful to him.  There is no such ritual for the husband.  A woman might ask, “Why not?”

Though it might not seem like an answer to the question, was it a matter of being “unfaithful” to her if her husband was intimate with his other wives?  As for “messing around,” we’ll have more to say about this in a moment.

As for the multiple wives, but only one husband, there have been societies where a woman could have multiple husbands, but Israel wasn’t one of them.  Perhaps one of the reasons for this is that lineage was of paramount importance to the Old Testament Jew.  Since it’s unlikely that the Old Testament had DNA tests, it would have been very difficult to know who the father was in a case of multiple “fathers” in a family.  Besides, thought this answer won’t satisfy some, that’s the way God ordered it.

In the Garden of Eden, God gave Adam one wife.  At that time, He said that a man was to leave his parents and be joined to his wife (singular).  The Lord Jesus affirmed this, Matthew 19:5.  In addition, Paul taught this.  In teaching about marriage, he said, let each one of you in particular so love his own WIFE as himself, Ephesians 5:32, emphasis added.

Taken overall, the Old Testament doesn’t paint a very good picture of the idea of multiple wives.  It reveals a lot of trouble and jealousy between the various wives and siblings.

As for “getting away with it,” Leviticus 20 lists several sins for which a man was to be killed, the woman also, or, in the case of homosexual acts, the other male as well.  In the case of bestiality, the animal was also to be executed.

Our society has largely rejected these ideas.  Indeed, certain sexual sins have now been given “protected” status by the “judgocracy” which has taken over the laws in our country.   “Living together” is commonly accepted and practiced.  Heterosexual marriage has to a great extent been relegated to the trashcan in favor of “domestic partnerships,” etc., etc.

It may seem like we’re “getting away with it,” but even a casual glance at the paper, or the TV or the computer, indicates that’s not really so.  Child abuse, spousal abuse, infanticide, disease, degradation, rampant crime and violence – these are just a few of the costs of “free love.”

This says nothing of the eternal cost of such practices.  When all is said and done, there will be no “getting away with it,” no matter how much that seems to be the case today.

However, there’s no use pointing the finger at those whose lives we might not agree with.  They’re not ultimately the ones with whom we have to do.  Scripture says that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, Romans 3:23.  Other folks’ sins won’t get us into heaven.  Other folks’ sins aren’t an excuse for our own.

There’s only one way any of us will ever stand uncondemned in the presence of God, and that is if we have been forgiven through faith in the death of the Lord Jesus Christ.   He willingly took the place of sinners, took their sins upon Himself and paid the price – the cost – of what it would take for them to be saved from their sins.

Even those sins for which there was no OT sacrifice – murder and adultery – will be forgiven that one who comes to God through the Lord Jesus.

Oh, that some might read these words, consider their lives and turn to the Lord Jesus for cleansing.  Is there such a one reading these words who feels like he or she needs a shower because of how they live?  Oh, listen, there’s only one “bath” that can cleanse away the filth and stain of sin:  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness, 1 John 2:9.  …the blood of Jesus Christ [God’s] Son cleanses us from all sin, 1 John 2:7.

This means that we have faith in the death of the Lord Jesus.  He alone is able to take away sins.  Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved…, Acts 16:31.

Who Makes the Rules?

A picture has appeared recently, and widely, in the social media, a picture of a man wearing a purple tee shirt, on the back of which are a list of statements about dating his 20-year-old daughter.  Perhaps you’ve seen it.

The list is titled, “Rules for dating my daughter.”  There are four such “rules”.

1.  I don’t make the rules.
2.  You don’t make the rules.
3.  She makes the rules.
4.  Her body, her rules.

It’s signed, “Feminist Father”.

There is an element of truth in this list.  And, with two daughters of my own, I understand the concern of the father for his daughter.

Understand that this list assumes that sex will be an integral part of the “date.”  And in our society, that does seem to have become the norm.  And I agree that a man has no right to force a woman to be intimate with him.

At the same time, the list doesn’t go far enough.

What do I mean?

God often directs our thoughts to something we will need in the future.  And not just thoughts.  When I was making deliveries for a living, sometimes I would say of a street, “Let’s see where this goes.”  I can’t tell you how many times later on that I needed to know where that street went.

So it is with this post.  I read the article about the shirt last week some time.  On Sunday, at church, the speaker quoted something from Psalm 147, which is a psalm of praise to God for His dealings with the nation of Israel, v. 19.  V. 20 continues the thought:  He has not dealt thus with any other nation; they do not know his rules (ESV).

You see, you and I don’t make the rules.  But when it comes right down to it, neither does she.  The rules have already been made.

That was the gist of the argument Satan advanced in the Garden of Eden:  Adam and Eve could make their own rules.  They didn’t need God for that.  And we see the mess they made of it.

Modern society has fully bought into that same argument.  And look at the mess we’ve made of it.

We’ve dealt with this in other posts, but it bears repeating.  Sex was never intended to be an end in itself.  It was intended to be enjoyed in the context of what it might produce:  children.  And it was intended to be enjoyed [only] by a man and a woman who had come together as husband and wife.  I grant that the marriages were usually arranged by the parents; but still, it was to a married couple that children were to be born and to become a family.  And those marriages were certainly no worse than the revolving door marriage has become in our day.  Or no “door” at all, with couples living together wanting the benefits of marriage without the responsibilities.

Children were never considered a “burden” in the Bible.  They were always a blessing – and the more, the merrier.  We’ve certainly gotten away from that!

The robins I wrote about last spring have long gone and they didn’t return this spring.  No other robins took their place.  The nest finally became loose on top of the porch light and it’s also long gone.

The thing is, their young hatched, grew and were gone in a matter of weeks.  Children take years before they’re ready to leave the nest.  It may be true that we learn most of what we learn in the first three or four years, but, as I’ve written elsewhere, no five-year old is ready for his or her own apartment.

It’s in the family that we’re supposed to learn the main lessons of life:  sharing, obedience, getting along with others.  Unfortunately, that no longer seems to be important.  And look at the mess we’ve made of it.

We decided that we make the rules.

 

The Heartbeat of a Mother.

Since I’m only a son, grandson, great-grandson, father and grandfather [no “greats” there yet, though our grandkids are great], I don’t know that I’m particularly qualified to write about being a mother.  But I’ll do my best.

A young woman once apologetically told me that she didn’t work outside the home, that she was “just a mother.”  At once, I told her that no woman was “just” a mother.

A mother is the first, and the most important, part of a baby’s life.  One of the very first things the little one must be conscious of is the nearby heartbeat of that one whose very body is involved in nurturing and protecting this new life within it.  Lub-dub, lub-dub, lub-dub. The rhythm of life.  For nine months, that sound is the background of existence, the assurance that all is well.

Then comes the trauma of birth – for both the mother and the child.

For Mom, “Whew, I’m glad that’s over!” – though it’s really only a new beginning.  For the child….

I had a good friend in college whose home in another state I would sometimes go with him to visit.  One time in particular I remember.  I slept in a room where the air-conditioner perched in a window.  This visit my friend’s folks turned it on.  Summer can be hot in Tennessee.  The conditioner was noisy, and I didn’t sleep very well.  Then morning came, and they turned it off.  That’s what really woke me – that deafening silence.

I wonder if that’s what it’s like for a newborn.  All kinds of new stimuli to be sure, new environment, lights, sounds, and yet…

Silence.

Where’s the heartbeat?

I wonder what the newborn feels?  Loss?  Confusion?  Panic?  The one constant of the old life is gone.  There’s no connection with this new life.  There’s nothing for the baby to hold on, so to speak.  How does he or she feel at this turn of events?

Then…

the baby is given to the mother and she cuddles him close.

Ah!  The baby relaxes; there’s the heartbeat.  There’s the connection.

Do you know why mothers are so special?  It’s their heartbeat….

Their love, their care, their concern.  Their “thereness”.

If things go as they should, there will be other “connections” made in life: dad, perhaps brothers and sisters, aunts, uncles, grandma and grandpa, friends, a special “other” down the line, children of their own….

But it all starts with a mother’s heartbeat.

Thanks, Mom.

NOTE:  I’ve published this post before.  It’s slightly edited from having been done before, but it’s still relevant.  My own mom would have been 100.

Happy Mother’s Day, all you moms out there.  We’ll never know how much we owe you.

Love Is Not A Four Letter Word.

“Sure it is!” someone might say.  “L-O-V-E.  Four letters.”

That’s true, but that’s not exactly what I mean.  The “four letters” to which I refer are those short four-letter words which express profanity and/or obscenity.

“Love” has been so dragged into the cesspool of our modern society that it’s really hard to find true examples of it.  Or to get a correct definition of it.  Hollywood has no clue.  Sadly, neither do a large percentage of people of all ages.

Especially in Hollywood, or on what passes for TV in our time, “love” is almost always limited to the physical – how quickly A and B can get into bed.  Sex has become just “casual,” with couples meeting together, maybe only once, for no other reason than to satiate their physical desires. Even where there is a “relationship,” instead of the consummation of something in which a man and a woman have pledged themselves to lifelong fidelity, it almost seems as if sex has become the commencement of a relationship, which no longer is “til death do us part,” but “til desire does depart,” and one or the other or both go off to find greener pastures.  Or “the love” turns to hate, usually on the part of the male, and he begins to abuse the woman.

There is an OT example of this in 2 Samuel 13 (NKJV): the incident of Amnon, a son of David, and Tamar, the sister of another of David’s sons.  Amnon lusted for Tamar because she was lovely and pure.  Instead of Amnon being honorable and seeking to marry her, 2 Samuel 13:13, a friend of his devised a stratagem whereby Amnon could satisfy his lust.  Without going into the sordid details, we’re interested only in the result of all this.  After he raped her, we read in v. 15, “Then Amnon hated her exceedingly, so that the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her,” and he had her thrown out.

You want to know why there has been such an increase in “domestic violence”?  2 Samuel gives us a lot of the answer.  A distorted definition of “love” has permeated our society, but where there is only a physical attraction and nothing else, the attraction can turn to loathing and hatred.  Since the moral foundation of our society has pretty well been destroyed, violence is often the result.  Even when the couple stays together, because the man has no understanding of his responsibility toward the woman, he often makes her life miserable, with verbal and physical abuse.  There is no excuse – ever – EVER – for a man to hit a woman.

Now, lest we be misunderstood, God designed and created men and women as sexual beings.  One of the first things He told them to do was to have children, and this was before they sinned against Him.  Sex is not some sordid result of their Fall, but an integral and vital part of their creation.

We ought to be thankful that God has made those things which are necessary for the survival and continuation of the human race is pleasurable, not painful.  If eating, for example, always produced severe nausea, or sex was painful like a root canal, or sleep, instead of being restful, was filled with nightmares, how long would the race have survived?

Because sex is pleasurable, and can result in children, God set boundaries in which, and only in which, sex may be enjoyed.  Hebrews 13:4 says Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled.  It is only in marriage that sex may properly and with God’s blessing be enjoyed.  And I say, “enjoyed.”  Proverbs 5:18b-19 says, …rejoice with the wife of your youth.  As a loving deer and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times; and always be enraptured with her love.  And this isn’t just for the husband.  In Genesis 18:12,  after eavesdropping on the conversation of three strangers with her husband, in which they assure him that his wife Sarah would bear his child, she said to herself, “After I have grown old, shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?”   And marriage isn’t just two people living together.  In John 4, when talking to the Samaritan lady, Jesus told her that she had had five husbands and the man she was now living with wasn’t her husband. Jesus gave no sanction to her relationship.

Because children may be the result of sexual activity, it is only in marriage that such activity is permitted.  Children need the stability of a family, mom, dad, maybe brothers and sisters in which to grow and learn to live in society.  The woman needs the stability of marriage in order to be able to properly “mother” her children and raise them as they ought to be raised.  The man needs the stability of marriage to settle him down to the responsibilities of marriage and fatherhood. The children need the stability and security of marriage and the family as they navigate the shoals of growing up and going through adolescence.   And, yes, I can hear the howls of the feminists at such patriarchal “male chauvinism.”  What does the Scripture say, Romans 4:3.

At work one day, I heard a young man boasting about the fact that he had eight children by five different women.  I don’t know if he were telling the truth or not, but he was now talking about having become a “man,” because he finally had a daughter.  He probably had no idea that “a man” would take care of those women and children (even though polygamy isn’t favorably portrayed in Scripture.  Though I doubt he was married to any of the women).  Another man, one of his “achievements” in life was that he had 21 children.

Beyond that, there is the spread of STDs, the poverty of single women trying to raise children by themselves, the misery of the children as they are often neglected or subjected to a succession of men in their mother’s lives.  Debauchery, deviancy, degeneracy, disease, death.  These are just some of the sad results of the abandonment of God’s wisdom in this part of human life.

You see, there is wisdom in the limitation of sex to within the boundary of marriage.

Love is not simply an emotion, or emotionalism, or sentimentality.  It isn’t just feelings, or hormones.  It might involve feelings or hormones, but it is so much more than that.  Even at the physical level, it is so much more than that.  Love is an attitude.  So much of the world thinks that love is about “me,” if you “love” me, you’ll let me do what I want.  It’s all about my happiness, my wants, my satisfaction.  Seldom if ever does such an attitude really think about the other person.  This is not love, it is selfishness.  True love thinks mainly about the other person.

On the other hand, true love is not to be confused with indulgence.  Even God’s love, and perhaps especially God’s love, is not mere indulgence.  Hebrews 5:5, 6 says, My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, not be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the Lord loves, He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.  Read the section down to v. 11 to get the whole thought.  This has something to say about the relationship between parent and child.  Although this post isn’t primarily about parenting, “love” is.  The world has the idea that the child should be able to do, apparently, whatever it wants.  The parent can’t discipline the child, just give him or her a “time out.”  Any sort of physical discipline, i.e., “spanking,” is strictly forbidden.  I remember listening to a lady radio psychologist several years ago when the subject of spanking came up.  The caller was in favor of it.  The lady became so upset and irate at such a thought that she was practically incoherent in her response.  That’s a lot of the attitude today.

There is a difference between a spanking properly administered and abuse, which is often how it’s categorized.  Actually, the abuse comes in, partly because the parent doesn’t understand discipline at all, or because the parent becomes so frustrated that he can’t do anything to the child without getting into trouble that he finally lashes out and oversteps the boundary between discipline and abuse.  Society contributes to this by encouraging the child to turn his parent in if the child doesn’t like what they do to him.  No child is going to like a spanking.

My grandmother used to tell a story.  She was born and raised in Indiana, a few miles south of where I live now.  Became a school teacher.  She never said why, but she moved to Boulder, Colorado – now affectionately known as “The People’s Republic of Boulder.”  (I lived in Denver, 30 miles away, a good part of my life.)  There was a school there looking for a teacher.  She applied for the job.  Remember, we’re talking about 1918 or so. She was around 20.  The school board warned her that there was an unruly student in the school who had driven out the last three teachers.  Did she still want the job?  Would the school board back her up?  They would.  So she took the job.

Sure enough, the boy began to make trouble.  Grandma was the youngest of 11 brothers and sisters, so she knew what to do.  She grabbed him by the ear, or arm, and took a yardstick to him.  Took one to me a few times, too.  I deserved it.  Anyway, fast forward about 30 years to 1947.  On vacation, Grandma and Grandpa were driving through New Mexico on their way to Carlsbad Caverns, when the car began to overheat.  Grandpa stopped at a gas station to get some water for the car, went around the back of the building, and fell over, dead.  The assistant district attorney for this little town out in the middle of nowhere in New Mexico, who came to help, turned out to be this same boy, now grown up!  He thanked her for whipping him all those years ago.  Said that without it he probably would be on the other side of the law.

You know what would happen if a teacher were foolish enough to try that today.  She would be the one in trouble and the boy would be soothed and pampered because he was “a troubled youth,” physically abused by an out-of-control school teacher.  You know as well as I do that that would happen.

That’s what’s wrong with our youth today – no discipline.  “Love” has been redefined as indulgence.  I know that not all “troubled youth” go on to lives spent in jail, but that’s no thanks to society.

Ephesians 5:25-29 says, Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify and cleanse it by the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church,…holy and without blemish.  So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies….  For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord the church.

We husbands are pretty good about v. 22, where the wife is to submit to your own husband, as to the Lord, but we fall down pretty badly on the nourishing and cherishing and loving her the way Christ loves us.  This post really isn’t about marriage or parenting, but it is about love, love that is concerned about the other person and seeks their welfare.  That’s where it starts, humanly speaking, between a husband and wife and then between them and their children – and children and their parents.  I appreciated my own mother a lot more after I had kids of my own than I ever did growing up.  But by then it was too late to tell her that.

Finally, love isn’t about “tolerance,” that is, we’re not to judge another person’s beliefs or lifestyle or anything.  It is said that there are no absolutes, at least not the ones taught by Scripture.  While it may be true that love covers a multitude of sins, it is also true that love doesn’t rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth, 1 Corinthians 13:6.  John, “the apostle of love,” wrote in 1 John 4:1, Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.  There’s a lot out there that claims to be from God that has nothing to do with Scripture, or Him.

Love, when properly understood, is the best of human characteristics.  Misunderstood, it can become the worst.

I understand that a lot of what I’ve written is controversial, because it goes against the grain of current thinking.  I can’t help that.  What does the Scripture say? Romans 4:3.