Male & Female He Created Them

Being part of one of the relatively few denominations that still ordains to church office only those who meet the Biblical criteria, I sometimes resonate with whoever the comedian or cartoon character was who was noted for saying: “Nobody understands me.”  While that is a bit of an overstatement, as I do not stand alone, I do often find that there is need to explain myself; to defend the basis of our practice.  This is especially true as it applies to restriction of the office of Elder to men only.

I am not a sexist.  So I understand the raised eyebrows implicitly questioning if my church and I are somehow stuck in a time warp.  I understand the perplexity when I have the audacity to declare that I believe, and our church believes, in the equality of men and women.  If we truly believe in “equality” how can we continue with our traditional practices?  I will get to that in a moment.

Compounding the misunderstanding, I am afraid, are those who share our same practice, but have an entirely different attitude behind it.  Some even within our denomination. Those to whom I refer are those who embrace a position of patriarchy. (I often refer to these folks as the “He Men Women Haters Club”.)   Often such people refer to their position as “Biblical Patriarchy”, but aside from a few anecdotal illustrations they find in the Bible (usually devoid of appropriate context) I would suggest there is little to nothing Biblical about their position.  Nevertheless, I find that, because of our practices, many people see little difference between our views and and the patriarchy proponents.

Part of the reason for this misunderstanding is that many people seem to have bought into the premise that there are only two views on the subject: Patriarchal or Egalitarian. In short, Patriarchy is the view that men are created to and commanded to rule. Egalitarianism is the view that not only are men and women equal, they are essentially the same, and therefore interchangeable.  While in no way endorsing patriarchy,  I suspect the egalitarian view has contributed to the rise of gender confusion, though that is an entirely different subject, and outside the scope of my intent for this post.  Nevertheless, if it were true that there are really only these two theoretical options, then it would be reasonable to judge someone on this issue bases upon how close to which he or she stands, or how close church practices stand, in proximity to either of these two poles.

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Resources to Help Us Navigate Our New Cultural Reality

Ship in Narrow Passage

The Elders of the church where I serve as pastor met, as usual. Part of our discussion, however, was anything but usual.  While it is not uncommon for this group to discuss subjects to help us more effectively minister, even setting aside occasional Saturday mornings to delve into variant viewpoints of issues that affect peoples’ lives, this is the first time our discussions involved anything that approached the edges of civil laws.  In the end, what was requested at this point was a a handful of resources for our mutual consideration, some things that might prove helpful as we seek to remain faithful – in all respects – in this new cultural “reality” concerning marriage.

It seems to me that there are two aspects we – and other churches like ours – need to navigate: first, how to defend the biblical design for marriage with wisdom and in truth; second, how to wisely, sensitively, and effectively minister to individuals struggling with same-sex-attractions, as well as to individuals and families for whom this is a real and personal issue, and not just a theoretic and/or political hot potato.

What we do not want to do:

  • We do not want to over-react to the new legal definition of marriage, which we believe to be at odds with the biblical definition that directs us.
  • We do not want to act and speak in ways that are insensitive, and/or unnecessarily offensive to those who struggle with, or who are impacted with, issues related to same-sex attraction.
  • We do not want to alienate people we are called to love – some of whom we already love, and who number among our friends.
  • At the same time we do not want to – we cannot – capitulate to the culture, forsake God’s Word as our only ultimate authority, or compromise the gospel in any way.

While it is somewhat cliche, I have long asserted that our goal should be to live and minister in such a way that the gospel be our only offense.  Of course this is not possible, since my sin, and the sin of every other person associated with our church, is real, and our sin is often offensive to those around us.  But I think the phrase nevertheless has merit, as an aspiration, perhaps especially now, as we seek to navigate these new waters.

The resources I am providing here probably help more with the first issue, how to defend and teach our position; offering less help concerning the second, how to effectively love and minister to those with same-sex attractions, and how to effectively love and encourage those who love someone struggling with same-sex attractions and who may be in a same-sex relationship.  This is new ground for pretty much everyone, so I will be exploring to find all I can find, as I expect we will see an increase of people impacted – or at least more people coming forward with both questions and concerns.

Here is an annotated list of resources I have found helpful:

Making Sense of Scriptures “Inconsistencies” by Tim Keller

This is a very good, relatively short, and easily understandable response to those who suggest that by opposing or by not supporting homosexuality Christians are picking and choosing from the Bible.  Keller offers a short primer course on the relationship between the OT & NT, and why that matters in our current climate.

40 Questions for Christians Now Waving Rainbow Flags by Kevin DeYoung

DeYoung poses some thoughtful questions for those sitting on the fence on this issue, or who while being Christians are adopting the cultural narrative over the biblical narrative.  These questions could be misused, and become tools for confrontation; or they can be used thoughtfully to encourage honest reflection in a process to renew our minds toward biblical conformity.

50 Resources for Equipping the Church on Homosexuality & Same-sex Marriage

This is a fairly extensive resource list, with links to articles related to a variety of questions many Christians are asking.

The Bible and Same Sex Relationships by Tim Keller

A thorough and practical review of two of the primary books supporting same-sex marriage. In this review Keller outlines six categories that virtually all arguments favoring same-sex relationships fall into, and then Keller addresses each argument.  While this might seem merely academic, my experience is that any dialogue with proponents of same-sex marriage will inevitably involve one or more of these argument categories. Therefore, Keller’s reflections prove to be highly practical.

What Does the Bible Really Teach About Homosexuality? by Kevin DeYoung

This is a short book, comprehensive, yet readable.  It is essentially a Readers’ Digest version of a more technical academic book that is on the market.  DeYoung explores the issue from a number of angles, mining the Bible for its authoritative guidance.

Washed and Waiting by Wesley Hill

Written by an Evangelical who struggles with SSA, this is an absolutely helpful little book for those of us who do not struggle with this particular issue.  Hill helps the reader understand the heart & mind of those who experience SSA.  He is clear about homosexuality being sin, yet he also exposes some of the hurtful, insensitive, and unhelpful things that those of us in the church have done – and are prone to do – toward those who do have this inclination.  This is a tool that can help us minister to those struggling homosexuality.

Harvest USA

Harvest USA is a ministry that works with people struggling with all forms of sexual brokenness.  On their site they have a variety of articles, many of which could be of help and interest. What Harvest USA’s resources also can do is remind us that homosexualiuty is but one issue, and that there is a wide range of sexual brokenness that the people in our pews experience.  Homosexuality and SSA is but one expression of brokenness, no worse, and no better than any other expression.  What sets it apart now is that it is the only government sanctioned and culturally acceptable expression.  We must be careful to not over-react to this, nor to under-react.

This is a lot of stuff, but it is also not enough stuff.  I hope those who are concerned about the faithfulness of the church – both to purity and to our mission – will find at least some of these helpful.  But please keep in mind that while this issue has new status in our culture, that our mission and purity have always been held in tension.  We are called and sent into a broken world, a world which has been broken and corrupt in various ways for millenia. We ourselves are no better than the broken world, but rather redeemed from it by God’s grace, through the sacrificial death of Jesus.  When we were called, we were as corrupt and broken as whoever we may be tempted to see as the worst of humanity.  But in Christ we have found mercy and hope.  (1 Corinthians 1.26-31; Romans 5.6-8; Matthew 9.13; 1 Timothy 1.15)

Some Thoughts After the Supreme Court Ruling on Marriage

Star Gazing

With a landmark decision, and a monumental example of judicial overreach, the U.S. Supreme Court this morning announced their decision regarding same-sex-Marriage. By the awesome power vested in just five people, marriage has been redefined in our land.  This decision will continue to shake our cultural landscape for years to come, with the aftershocks of both unintended consequences (by some) and intentional-but-hidden agendas (of others).

While some who know me, or who read this blog, may assume my chagrin is in the validation of same-sex-marriage, it is actually far greater regarding the other implications related to this decision.  I am opposed to same-sex-marriage, on the grounds that it is clearly not in line with the design and decree of the Lord of Heaven and Earth.  So I am disappointed, though not surprised, by this decision.  But if this is the law of the land where I live, I can live with it being the law – as long as I am not compelled to comply. It is no greater difficulty than the first century apostles, and other Christians, faced in Rome, Corinth, Ephesus, and other ancient pagan territories.  What concerns me more is that I now live in a land where we officially believe that “Rights” are not endowed by our Creator, but rather bestowed by the government.  This is a very treacherous problem – especially in this case where it was not even by a democratic process; and where there is no court of appeal.

Think about it for a moment.  In Nazi Germany the government decided that those who were Jewish had no rights, and that the government had the right to exterminate them simply because they were Jews.  In the Antebellum South, those of African decent had no rights – with relative few exceptions – and were thus allowed to be held enslaved.  Some may argue that this example, especially the latter one, illustrates why the court decision this morning is a corrective, granting freedom to a group of people to marry who were previously denied that “right”.  But look at the root. Both illustrations are similar to the court ruling, all assuming that “rights” are bestowed by the government.  Yet if this is correct, that rights do come from the government, then why would one argue that the institution of slavery was so reprehensible?  Was it not the law of the land? Government dictating who had rights an who did not?  If one argues that the government has the inherent authority to determine rights, then what makes it appropriate to decry the decisions they make about who has rights and who has not?  If a government has the authority to determine who has rights and who does not, then what makes it morally wrong for a government to decide to eradicate some group it determines undesirable?

No, I have no sympathy for the institution of slavery, nor do I support any practice of genocide.  My point is not that the government should not be the protector of rights, but rather that it is not government that is the originator of any rights.  All good governments must protect the rights of all its citizens!  But what a “right” is is not ultimately determined by the government.  As Jefferson (with help from Franklin) wisely assessed and asserted, “rights are endowed by the Creator”, not by the throne of government.

In April, Justice Anthony Kennedy seemed to grasp the weightiness:

“This definition [of marriage] has been with us for millennia, and it’s very difficult for the court to say, ‘Well, we know better’”.

In the end Kennedy must not have found it all that difficult.  By siding with the majority, Kennedy essentially declares: “Well, we do know better.”

In response to the decision, in his published dissent, Chief Justice John Roberts writes:

If you are among the many Americans – of whatever sexual orientation – who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today’s decision. Celebrate the achievement of a desired goal. Celebrate the opportunity for a new expression of commitment to a partner. Celebrate the availability of new benefits. But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it.

While there is a sense that I appreciate these words, it still leaves me  – and others like me – with a practical dilemma: How should those of us who disagree with this decision – whether on its own merits, or because of the ripple effects that it will engender in days ahead, or both – how should we respond?  Especially as a Christian, how ought I respond?  Roberts’ words are merely philosophical and political.  They offer nothing practical to the question: So What Now?

My sincere hope is that I will, now and eventually, act faithfully to God, and lovingly to my neighbors (whether I am in agreement with them or not). In short, I hope in time to gain both perspective and wisdom – and wise perspective.  One thing I keep reminding myself is that God is still in control.  And while I mull over the realities of the day, I am also finding some food for thought in the counsel of some others:

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Mom Enough

There should be little debate that the most influential group of people in the world are Moms.  While not necessarily true in every individual situation, collectively it is difficult to image any group running even a close second.  With this in mind, John Piper plugs a new book, Mom Enough, written by a collection of godly women who are also gifted writers:

  • Carolyn McCulley
  • Rachel Jankovic
  • Gloria Furman
  • Rachel Pieh Jones
  • Christine Hoover
  • Trillia Newbell
  • Christina Fox

On a personal note, Christina Fox, and her now husband George, were members of the church I had the privilege to pastor in Chattanooga while they were both attending Covenant College.  It has been exciting to see how God has worked in Christina, and how he is now working through her writing and her speaking.  Check out Christina’s blog: To Show Them Jesus

If you are a Mom, know a mom, or have a mom, this book is written for you.

5 Reasons Church Should Not Be the Primary Place Where Children Learn About God

It Takes a Village

I agree with those who suggest that a vibrant children’s ministry is one of the five core programs essential to a healthy church or church plant.  We are fortunate at the church where I serve to have a very capable godly Children’s Ministry Coordinator on our staff.  But even having the best Children’s Ministry Coordinator or the best Children’s Ministry program is no substitute for God’s design.

In a post found on Relevant Children’s Ministry, titled: 5 Reasons Church Should Not Be the Primary Place Where Children Learn About God, we are reminded of what I consider to be the God-given pattern for raising children to grow in the Christian faith. While the church plays an important, even a vital, supplemental role, the church should never usurp the authority or the primacy of the parents.

Here are the five reasons:

  1. God has Called Parents to be the Primary Spiritual Leaders of Their Children
  2. No One Has More Influence in a Child’s Life Than His or Her Parents
  3. Kids Spend Much More Time at Home than They Do at Church
  4. The Church Compliments What Parents Are Teaching Their Kids at Home, but Cannot Replace It
  5. The Church’s Job is to Equip Parents to Lead Their Kids Spiritually

These principles are reflective of what I (and many others) would call a Covenantal Children’s Ministry.

Interesting that while studies have been conducted to discover why so many leave the church upon emerging adulthood (after high school graduation) most of those studies are revealing that in homes and churches where the principles of Covenantal Children’s Ministry are followed, not only do the kids not end up leaving church as often as they do from churches where kids are segregated and entertained, but the vast majority of Covenantal Kids don’t leave the church at all.

Fatherhood of God

Neck Tie Quilt

After spending the better part of the past week preparing to preach about the Fatherhood of God, and the amazing doctrine of adoption, from Galatians 3.23-4.7, I am still pondering the richness and beauty of how the Heidelberg Catechism expresses it:

Q 26. What do you believe when you say: I believe in God the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth?

A. That the eternal Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who out of nothing created heaven and earth and all that is in them, and who still upholds and governs them by his eternal counsel and providence, is, for the sake of Christ his Son, my God and my Father. In him I trust so completely as to have no doubt that he will provide me with all things necessary for body and soul, and will also turn to my good whatever adversity he sends me in this life of sorrow. He is able to do so as almighty God, and willing also as a faithful Father.

And this from the shortest chapter of the Westminster Confession, WCF 12:

All those who are justified God graciously guarantees to make partakers of the grace of adoption in and for his only Son, Jesus Christ. By this act they are taken into the number of God’s children and enjoy the liberties and privileges of that relationship; they are given his name; they receive the Spirit of adoption; they have access to the throne of grace with boldness; and they are enabled to cry, “Abba, Father.” Like a father, God has compassion on, protects, provides for, and chastens them; yet, they will never be cast off, but are sealed to the day of redemption, and will inherit the promises as heirs of everlasting salvation.

These are more than definitions.  These are summaries of the the gospel that are worthy of contemplation.  For I suspect most of our spiritual problems, and even our emotional troubles, are in one way or another due to our unbelief or lack of understanding of these great truths: first, God is the Father of all who believe, and who are therefore “in Christ:; second, we who believe, and who are therefore “in Christ”, are the beloved Children of God, who is the Creator and sustainer of the universe.

Repenting of “Biblical” Manhood

Abstract Balance (Sutton)

The following was written by Kyle Worley, from Village Church in Dallas, and was posted on CBMW‘s web.  I thought about editing, but realized there is nothing I could add, nor is there anything for me to delete.  So I post it here in its whole, as one who shares this complimentarian  perspective (here, here) and sentiment.  ~ WDG


As we have been reflecting on some of the corruptions of biblical manhood, I think that it is high time that we take an opportunity to apologize for the impact and influence any of these corruptions have had on the home, the church, or the culture. Without a doubt it is one of the most perverse aspects of sin that it can take the truth of scripture and bend it to the will and the ways of man. Like God in the garden, who enquires “who told you that you were naked?” What corruptions have you swallowed? What lies do you believe? Who told you that ‘biblical’ manhood looked like that?

While we firmly believe that God has ordained complementarianism as the governing sexual and marital ethic of the Christian life, we acknowledge that a corrupt complementarianism and those false ways of living that some may have treacherously called ‘biblical’ manhood have led to the perversion of the wonderful truth that God has laid out for human flourishing in the home, in the church, and in the culture.

So, in the vein of those prophets who pled for the sins of their kinsman, it is time that we corporately repent and lament the perverseness of a manhood that has been shaped by sin and not by the authority of Scripture.


We confess that we are broken and are in need of your grace. May you draw our gaze to the God-man Jesus Christ and the full scope of scripture as the authoritative revelation for what biblical manhood should resemble.

We repent for the sins of our passive brothers, unwilling to lead when it counts.

We repent for the sins of our chauvinist brothers, covering up abuse in the name of authority and male leadership.

We repent for the sins of our brothers who refuse to grow up, Lord would you call them to greater maturity.

We repent for any machismo that has seeped into our churches , may we be disgusted with misogyny in all its forms.

We repent for men who are trying to escape from the responsibilities you have entrusted to them, may they find joy in their stewardship.

We repent for men who are attempting to “lone wolf” their lives, Lord may they find your church as beautiful as you do.

We repent for men unwilling to sacrifice their control and comfort to lead in all spheres of life , may they look to He who laid down His life for His bride.

We repent for men who are so jaded with cynicism that they lose love for the King and hope for his coming kingdom.

We pray that you would rescue women who are trapped in abuse and that you would crush the purposes of abusers who treacherously call themselves “complementarians” or “biblical men.” Bring them to repentance and comfort those who have been bruised and broken beneath their hands.

We pray for those men who are trapped in sexual immorality. Lord, would you break the chains of pornography in the life of the church. Those wicked chains that place men in shackles next to the sex trafficking victims, pornographers, and orphaned.

We pray that you would continue to renew a movement towards good, beautiful, and true complementarian practice. May the witness of those men and women who have been created in your image, given distinct roles in the world, and who treasure the gospel tell the true story of complementarianism. May the lies that creep in under the banner of complementarianism in churches, homes, and communities across the world be crushed by this witness.

Comfort the woman abused, the child orphaned, the widowed mother, the widowed father, the church filled with faithful women.

Comfort the young woman not righteously pursued, the young boy with no father to learn from, the wife who serves the belligerent and lazy husband.

Confront those trapped in sexual immorality, confront churches filled with passive men, confront the young men unwilling to grow up.

Crush abortion, crush the movement to undermine the beauty of Christian covenant marriage, crush the porn industry, crush abuse at home and in the church.

Come, Lord! Come, Lord! Come, Lord, would you come?


Kyle Worley is Connections Minister at the Village Church in Dallas, TX. He is the author of Pitfalls: Along the Path to Young and Reformed and blogs regularly at The Strife. You can find Kyle on Twitter @kyleworley.



Healthy Couples Don’t…

Hands Together

An article by Ruthie Dean, appearing in Relevant Magazine, offers helpful marriage advice from the negative side – i.e. 8 Things Healthy Couple DON’T Do:

  1. Healthy Couples Don’t Post Negatively About Each Other on Social Media
  2. Healthy Couples Don’t Make Their Career a Priority Rather Than Their Relationship
  3. Healthy Couples Don’t Have All Their ‘Together-Time’ With Technology
  4. Healthy Couples Don’t Avoid Hard Subjects
  5. Healthy Couples Don’t Punish One Another
  6. Healthy Couples Don’t Withhold Forgiveness
  7. Healthy Couples Don’t Say ‘Yes’ to Everything
  8. Healthy Couples Don’t Throw In the Towel

Read more of what Ruthie has to say, including the details that accompany her list, at: 8 Thing Healthy Couples Don’t Do

For All Life’s Moment

This touching video evokes bitter-sweet thoughts for me.  As a cancer survivor, it gives me reason for great thankfulness. Yet it is a reminder of my personal frailty, and that I am not promised tomorrow. (Proverbs 27.1)

I am reminded of how young my own sons were when I was diagnosed – my daughter even younger.  I remember the thoughts during the first moments I was alone, all the ways I had failed them; all that I wanted to share with them – if only given the opportunity of time. I am thankful my sons and daughters have grown, that all of them have given me cause for joy and pride, and that I have been here to see it.

I am reminded of the importance of priorities – putting first things first.  I continue to fail with this, as all too often I put my own comfort and preferences first. Yet given each new day, I am also given an opportunity to live out my priorities.

I cannot help but to think of Solomon’s plea:

“My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you.” (Proverbs 3.1-2)

I cannot help but hope in Solomon’s promise:

“And now, O sons, listen to me: blessed are those who keep my ways. Hear instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it. Blessed is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors. For whoever finds me finds life and obtains favor from the Lord, but he who fails to find me injures himself; all who hate me love death.” (Proverbs 8.32-36)

For these are not only the words of wisdom I have wanted to impart to my sons (and daughter),  they are the words of my heavenly Father to me.

Marriage According to the Bible

Adam & Eve (Red-Blue)

by Ray Ortland

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.  Genesis 2:24

It is not true that the Bible teaches multiple views of marriage, and therefore the Bible’s clarity is diminished on this question.  The Bible does record, for example, that “Lamech took two wives” (Genesis 4:19).  But the Bible is not thereby endorsing polygamy, but indeed is casting doubt on polygamy.  The role of Lamech in the text is to show “a progressive hardening in sin” (Waltke, Genesis, page 100).  We invented polygamy, along with other social evils.  But God gave us marriage.

The Bible defines marriage in Genesis 2:24, quoted above.  Here is what this very significant verse is saying:

Therefore.  This word signals that Moses is adding an aside to his narrative.  It’s as if we are sitting in Moses’ living room, watching his DVD of the creation of the universe (Genesis 1) and of man and woman (Genesis 2).  At this point he hits the pause button on the remote, the screen freezes, he turns to us post-fall people watching these amazing events and he says, “Now let me explain how what God did so long ago is normative for us today.  Amazingly, we still retain something beautiful from the Garden of Eden.”

A man shall leave his father and his mother.  In a culture of strong bonds between the generations, this is striking.  A man’s primary human relationship is no longer with his parents or ancestors.  He breaks away from them for the sake of a more profound loyalty.

And hold fast to his wife.  A man, in marrying, enfolds his wife into his heart.  He rejoices to identify with her: “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh” (verse 23).  At every level of his being, he becomes wholeheartedly devoted to her, as to no other.

And they shall become one flesh.  “One flesh” is essential to the biblical view of marriage.  It means, one mortal life fully shared.  Two selfish me’s start learning to think like one unified us, sharing one everything: one life, one reputation, one bed, one suffering, one budget, one family, one mission, and so forth.  No barriers.  No hiding.  No aloofness.  Now total openness with total sharing and total solidarity, until death parts them.  Moreover, Jesus explained that, behind the word “become,” God is there: “What therefore God has joined together . . .” (Matthew 19:6).  Marriage is not a product of human social evolution.  Marriage came down from God.  And he defined it for us.  He has the right to.  It belongs to him.

One mortal life fully shared between a man and a woman — this is marriage, according to the Bible, because Genesis 2:24 is not a throw-away line.  Its very purpose is to define.

What’s more, the apostle Paul quotes Genesis 2:24 to take our understanding a step further — an amazing step: “We are members of [Christ’s] body.  ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’” (Ephesians 5:30-31).  Did you notice his logic?  “We are members of Christ’s body.  He loved us.  He chose us.  He gave himself up for us.  He embraced us.  He is with us.  He will present us someday in splendor.  All of this glory is ours, because we are united with him now and forever.  Therefore, this is why, our union with Christ is the reason why, a man and women get married and live united as ‘one flesh.’  Human marriages are miniature social platforms on which the gospel is to be displayed.”

Marriage is a gospel issue.  That is the ultimate reason why clarity about its definition matters.  People who depart from, or fail to stand up for, the biblical view of marriage are taking a step away from the gospel itself.  The whole Bible is the story of the marital love of God, as I demonstrate in this book.  Our whole lives are that story, if we have eyes to see.

Marriage is more than human romance, wonderful as that is.  Marriage is the display of Christ and his Bride in love together.  A beautiful, tender, thriving, Ephesians 5-kind of marriage makes the gospel visible on earth, bringing hope to people who have given up believing there could be any love anywhere for them.  That is why biblical marriage deserves our courageous loyalty today.  And that is why, in our increasingly secular times, biblical marriage is under pressure.  Its true meaning is understood and embodied and sustained only by the power of the gospel.

We can’t turn the clock back to the days of the Christian social consensus the West has foolishly thrown away.  But we who say we believe the gospel can and must stand up for the biblical definition of marriage.  We must cultivate beautiful marriages ourselves.  We must suffer social rejection bravely.  We must pray for revival.  We must wait for the inevitable collapse of every false view of marriage.  We must lovingly serve all who suffer for their foolish attempts at false “marriages.”  And we must go to church this Sunday and worship the living God with all our hearts, so that we ourselves are sustained for faithfulness over the long haul, because this isn’t going to be easy.


Read more from Ray Ortland’s excellent blog: Christ is Deeper Still

Pursuing Prodigals

Return of the Prodigal (Rembrandt)

by Barry York

Many Christian parents have had the sad experience of seeing a covenant child grow up and wander from the faith.  To see one whom you joyfully brought into the world, baptized in the name of the Triune God, sacrificed in love to nurture and provide for, and trained to love Christ and His church, grow up only to reject his inheritance for the pottage of this world is a tragedy whose grief is carried daily by godly parents.

If the Apostle John said that he had no greater joy than seeing his children walking with the Lord (III John 4), then certainly there is no greater sadness that to see a young person walk away from Him.

Without going into all the questions this issue raises in such areas as parental guilt and responsibility, church discipline, election, etc., what exactly should be the response of parents and those in fellowship with them that are thrust into this unwanted situation of having a prodigal? It begins with taking hope in knowing that the story of the Bible is one of God pursuing His wayward people.  Just recently the words of Isaiah 29:22-24 were brought to my attention.

Therefore thus says the Lord, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob: “Jacob shall no more be ashamed, no more shall his face grow pale. For when he sees his children, the work of my hands, in his midst, they will sanctify my name; they will sanctify the Holy One of Jacob and will stand in awe of the God of Israel. And those who go astray in spirit will come to understanding, and those who murmur will accept instruction.”

What a wonderful promise God makes here and other places in Scripture!  Through generations of time He has been faithful to redeem straying covenant children.  So how do we actively lay hold of this promise?  Here are some suggestions.

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What Did You Expect?

Here is a preview and overview of one of the best books on marriage I have read: What Did You Expect?.   In this video, the author, Paul Tripp, introduces the root of almost any marriage conflict or emotional distancing: The heart.

This is not a book I recommend for pre-marital counseling – not that it would be a bad thing.  There are many other good ones for those prepping for marriage.  But I do wholeheartedly recommend this book to those who have been married for any length of time, no matter how strong or how strained the marriage is.

What Did You Expect

Cultural Argument Against Gay Marriage

Abstract Wedding

by Randy Hicks

Not many years ago it was unutterable, except perhaps as a schoolyard can-you-top-this, or as urban legend. Yet it is one of the most sensational issues of our time, and an almost-impossible topic to avoid. And, from what I’m hearing, it’s not always easy for people like you and me to articulate the reasons we oppose it. It’s called “same-sex marriage.”

“I know why same-sex marriage is wrong,” I often hear, “but I’m not sure how to articulate its dangers.” Christian friends are looking for a way to relate to those who may not hold the same views, and that’s wise.

To be clear, our religious beliefs do offer legitimate reasons to oppose same-sex marriage. But if we’re to win this important debate and win hearts and minds, we must be able to articulate our convictions in culturally relevant ways.

I’ve had the opportunity to take this debate into the university setting many times, this is what I hear from aggressive proponents of gay marriage:

• They’ve argued that denying them marriage is denying them the ability to have a loving commitment with another person. Frankly, that’s just not true. People love others and commit to others all the time—we just don’t always call it “marriage.”

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He-Man Woman Haters Club

There was a time when I wondered if at least some in my denomination ought to start wearing t-shirs with a picture bearing the image of Alfafa from the old Our Gang/Little Rascals’ shorts from the ’30’s & ’40’s.  Alfalfa was a founder and president of the He-Man Woman Haters Club. Now, I know that this was an unfair characterization of most – the clear majority – of my fellow churchmen.  But when discussing the role of women in the church, in the home, and in the world at large, sometimes statements were offered up that made me pause – and cringe.

I believe in the inherent equality of men and women.   But I am no feminist.  In fact, I would not even qualify as an Egalitarian.  Instead, I am more aligned among the Complimentarians.  But much to my chagrin, sometimes those of us in the Complimentarian camp are mistaken for being among the initiates of the He-Man Woman Haters Club.

Some time ago Rachel Miller, on her blog A Daughter of the Reformation,  wrote a very insightful piece, titled What’s Wrong With Biblical Patriarchy?.  In her post she distinguishes us Complimentarians from the more chauvinistic Modern Patriarchy movement, with whom we Complimentarians are often lumped.  (Rachel notes that proponents of this patriarchal position like to refer to themselves as “Biblical Patriarchy”, but I don’t want to equate them as being biblical.  As the article astutely observes and notes, those folks base their positions on some biblical principles but then mix them up with some very Victorian notions.)

While I know throwing around such terms as Complimentarian, Egalitarian, etc., is not likely to excite many readers, nevertheless, I think what Rachel Miller has to say is worth considering as you think biblically about this polarizing issue; and maybe just a little less important, to distinguish guys like me from the ecclesiastical Alfalfas.


Reblogged from A Daughter of the Reformation:

As a homeschooling family, we come in contact with people from a wide variety of backgrounds and beliefs. One of the groups that is fairly common within the homeschooling community is the modern patriarchy movement, or as they refer to it “Biblical Patriarchy.” Some of the big names in this group include, R.C. Sproul, Jr., Doug Phillips of Vision Forum, and Doug Wilson of Credenda Agenda magazine.

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