Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Anti-Family Church, pt. 5- Family

I hope you've gleaned some kind of wisdom from the previous installments of The Anti-Family Church. If you were unable to tell, I am very passionate about this topic, as I see it as a failing of the Church today. I look back on the early church and see how they were structured, and lament over the position of the Church in today's world, in the hearts of her members. God's people have been continually adulterous throughout history, and we are no different, worshiping ourselves and our secular ideals that have been instilled by society today. Yet contrary to breaking free of the bonds of sin, we have become comfortable in our wayward ways and embraced a life of selfish desires instead of biblical wisdom.

This departure from the scriptures is evident when we look at the Church today. It is especially evident when we see how the Church values the family. The former articles give a good picture of the neglect of the individuals in churches, but it is the summation of all those things that leads to the dismal reality of the decline of the family. We no longer look toward the future, putting our focus on raising up generations of faithful Christ followers. Instead, we focus on ourselves, making sure we feel that we are right with God. What we often do not see is the reality that in order to be right with God, we must actually care about others.

The blame lies in every follower of Christ who, in their lukewarm states, have neglected basic biblical principles within their churches and families. We are each of us at fault, and it will take every one of us to correct it. I tend, though, to hold those in positions of authority to a higher standard than your basic church layman. Why are our pastors and elders not up in arms about how their parishioners are living? Why do we not see outrage at sin within the church, and preaching and teaching from the pulpit that drives sinners to repentance and strengthens the faithful?

It is a sad day when these issues go seemingly unnoticed, and absolutely appalling that- if the authority figures in churches do know- they are doing nothing about it. Please, do something! I know so many concerned Christians who are tired of hearing their pastors say they are working on the problem, without seeing any effort toward it.

It is not enough to mention a scripture about biblical living and leave the people to go forth in their week. Discipleship was never focused on a single day, a single sermon, a single class to attend. It is an ongoing process that must be entwined in our daily lives, just as God should be the focus of everything that we do.

What we are doing is not working, and as such we need to change what we are doing. Break away from the world and stop being of it. We are to be shining examples of Christ's love and saving grace, but how are we to do that when we cannot even disciple our own families? Where are those mentors, those who are wiser than us, who will guide us in our walks, pray with and for us, support us, and love us? Where are our brothers and sisters in Christ who are willing to gather together in fellowship to worship and learn together? Where is the love for the brethren?

Christians, be bold in the truth! Encourage your leaders to take on these issues and make a difference in the Church. If they do not listen, pray for them, because those who reject the truth of scripture need so badly to hear it. We should be righteously angry when we see God's Word twisted and warped to please the masses, and we should demand that it stop.

My desire is to glorify God in all that I do, to be faithful to Him, to grow in holiness and be closer to Him. I want to stand before Him on the day of judgment and know that I have brought him glory and honor, to hear that I have been a good and faithful servant. I want to be blameless before him because of the saving blood of Jesus Christ, who died that I might live, that I might spend eternity with Him. To do that, I must follow His instruction, fulfill the Great Commission, and disciple. How better to do that than to start at home, with my family, with my church family?

Is that your desire, and will you step up and be bold enough, trust in God enough, to go against the current and stand fast with the Lord? My prayer is that your answer is "yes".

"A church that does not exist to reclaim heathenism, to fight with evil, to destroy
error, to put down falsehood, a church that does not exist to take the side of the poor,
to denounce injustice and to hold up righteousness, is a church that has no right to
-- C.H. Spurgeon

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Anti-Family Church, pt. 4- Children

"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

Perhaps one of the most startling occurrences in churches today is the neglect of children within the body. We shuffle them off to classes to color scenes from Bible stories, watch movies, and play- while the adults hear the Word of God. Not all children's services are bad, of course, and some instructors are very invested in bringing souls to Christ, but they seem to be in the minority.

It begins at a young age, when parents are encouraged to drop their infants off in the church nursery. And what if you dare to bring your child to service with you? Be prepared for scowls and scoffs if your child makes a peep- churchgoers are no longer accustomed to having their service interrupted by the very ones Jesus drew near. It's a sad testament to how much the world has influenced the Church's view on children.

What does the Bible say about children?

Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate."
-- Psalm 127:3-6

We are to rejoice in the children God gives us, to be thankful He chooses to expand our families. This goes against the popular belief that more than two kids is "too much". I've encountered this belief personally in more than one church, and have heard from many other women who feel pressured to limit their family size because of the opposition they meet in the body of Christ. Shame on those who would dare insinuate children are not of the Lord, and would act as if they are burdensome. Easy? No, children are not easy. Blessings? Yes! Children were consistent blessings for those in the Bible, and why should we reject such a blessing from the Most High?

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it."
-- Proverbs 22:6

It is the parent's responsibility to train up their child, to teach them the ways of the Lord. The responsibility rests on no other, and parents should be called to disciple their own children instead of just assuming that the youth pastor will do it for them.

Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him."
-- Proverbs 22:15

As parents, we should not fall prey to the popular secular belief that a child should be allowed to do as they wish in order to develop who they are. Children need direction and correction. How else will they learn right from wrong if the parent does not teach them? It does a disservice to our children to act as if they are blameless, for they are just as sinful, wicked, and depraved as any other human being, and our desire should be that they come to salvation, not that they have good "self-esteem".

And he took a child and put him in the midst of them, and taking him in his arms, he said to them, 'Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.' "
-- Mark 9: 36-37

We are not to turn away the smallest among us, lest we reject the teachings of Jesus. We are to embrace those children, teach them, raise them to love the Lord. By following Jesus' teaching, we are following what is right and true, and pleasing God.

"Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord."
-- Colossians 3:20

This is pretty self-explanatory. We are to raise children to respect us, not only because we desire it, but because it pleases the Lord.

The whole modern concept of children and their place spits in the face of the biblical model of children and the family. Then we sit back and wonder why our children rise up and curse their parents in rebellion. We have no one to blame but ourselves. Ultimately the responsibility lies with the parents of the child, but the Church should be doing the job of discipling the parents in such a way as to make them able to raise their children in a biblical and godly manner.

"God has designed your family- not the youth group, not the children's ministry, not the Christian [or Government] school, but your family- as the principle discipling agent in your children's lives."
-- Voddie Baucham

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Anti-Family Church, pt. 3- Women

The vast majority of women I talk to ask one question in regards to discipleship: where are the Titus 2 women in the church? For those of you who are not familiar with what scripture says in regards to women in Titus 2, here it is:

"Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled." -- Titus 2:3-5
The lack of older women discipling younger women is shocking. I myself have searched for a mentor for years now, and have as yet been unable to find somebody willing. I rely mostly on blogs from older Christian women, and a few online who are willing to discuss tough topics. When we lack older women to teach the younger, is it any wonder why we have generations coming up who have no clue as to what the Bible says about women? Why are we surprised that feminism has taken root, and biblical femininity has gone by the wayside?

The Bible puts the focus of the married woman on her husband and children. Is it acceptable for a woman to remain unmarried? Yes, but only if she's been called to a celibate life in service of the Lord. Otherwise she should be preparing for marriage and family. Today, however, we find women focusing mainly on their careers, and treating husbands and children as if they are intrusions on their life. It is so backwards it would be laughable if it weren't doing so much damage to the Church.

Let's look at whats the Bible says about the role of women:

... likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness--with good works. 11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. " -- 1 Timothy 2:9-14

"... encourage...
older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity." -- 1 Timothy 5:1-2

Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external--the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear-- but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening." -- 1 Peter 3:1-6

Women are to be respectable, modest, pure, self-controlled, and submissive to their husbands. Why? Because that is what God tells us to do. The Bible even talks about being obedient when our husbands are disobedient. We are to set an example for others in our dedication to the Lord, in the way we conduct ourselves. That doesn't mean acting high and mighty on Sundays and going home to demean our husband's masculinity and ignore our children during the week.

Instruction to women as wives and mothers is most often combined in scripture. We see that it is assumed that women who are married will be mothers, with exceptions for those who should rejoice even in a circumstance of infertility. We see nowhere where a woman is instructed to avoid having children or pawn those children off on others to raise.

It would make most sense to raise up young girls to be wives and mothers, to disciple them in the ways of family life so they are prepared for the service they will enter in life. How many women have gone out into the world to make their way, and come home to their families without a clue as to what their role is to be? Who is taking the time to teach younger women to be wives and mothers so they are not at a disadvantage and do not damage their marriage and family when they get to that point in life? Are those in positions of authority prepared to answer for how the women under their care turn out?

I believe we also must instruct women to be content in their position in life, whether they be single or married, whether they are childless or have a house full of little ones. If they are called to a celibate life, then they should rejoice in it, but if they are called to be married, they should glorify God as well. We just must ensure that whichever it is, women are not doing it out of a selfish and sinful nature, but to the glory of God.

What we lack in the Church today is women who are bold enough to throw off the secular teachings of the feministic society we live in, and instead embrace the biblical femininity our Lord has prescribed. Instead of encouraging women to care for their families, the Church puts precedence on those who have "real" jobs, as if wife-hood and motherhood are not jobs in themselves. We should put priority on those things the Bible puts priority on, and not what is most popular in society. Children need their mothers, and husbands need their wives. If that means giving up our selfish dreams and coming home to meet our God-given responsibilities, then so be it. The Church should support that, and even push for it to ensure that the priority is put back on raising godly families instead of fulfilling selfish desires.

Is this an easy task? Of course not. I would venture to say that most women will not agree with me. I've heard the argument regarding the Proverbs 31 woman, and how she must have worked outside the home. There is a HUGE difference between a woman working outside the home and a woman staying at home to raise her children while also having jobs she does on the side. The stay-at-home-mother does much more than simply sit at home with her children. Most I know also volunteer in their church and community, have home businesses, or do other activities. They rarely have any down time, yet people assume they are lazy.

We should call women to use their God-given talents to help raise up lives for the Lord right at home. What good is it for us to go out into the world while those under our roofs are going to hell? Where is our sense of responsibility? God never says we will get to do everything we want in life; He specifically tells us it will be full of trials. Our promise is in Heaven, and won't it be wonderful to be able to stand before Him on judgment day and know that we did not neglect those God put under our care, but instead nurtured and raised up generations who would change the world?

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Of Cowboys and Caner

Mama's don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys- or, at the very least, don't let them grow up to be anything close to what the soon-to-be-former president of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, Dr. Ergun Caner, is starting to look like.
I have been watching events in this Caner debacle for about six months, and have stayed out of it up until now. I don't like drama much, and politics mixed with religion isn't really my thing. This week, though, changed my opinion on the situation. I'd been trying very hard to give Dr. Ergun Caner the benefit of the doubt, hoping that the claims laid against him would be unfounded. Evidence continued to pile up (I'll refer you other places for that: here, here, here, and here) and I prayed that there would be an adequate explanation, that Dr. Caner would not be the deceiver the evidence seemed to suggest.
I was glad when Liberty University launched an investigation into the claims against Dr. Caner, confident that the situation would finally be resolved. What I found, however, was that the university effectively obfuscated on what should have been their responsibility as a Christian school, to uphold strict standards of conduct according to biblical methods.
The statement the university released June 25 (link to SBC Today article here) read as follows:

"After a thorough and exhaustive review of Dr. Ergun Caner’s public statements, a committee consisting of four members of Liberty University’s Board of Trustees has concluded that Dr. Caner has made factual statements that are self-contradictory. However, the committee found no evidence to suggest that Dr. Caner was not a Muslim who converted to Christianity as a teenager, but, instead, found discrepancies related to matters such as dates, names and places of residence. Dr. Caner has cooperated with the board committee and has apologized for the discrepancies and misstatements that led to this review. Dr. Caner’s current contractual term as Dean of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary expires on June, 30, 2010. Dr. Caner will no longer serve as Dean of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. The university has offered, and Dr. Caner has accepted, an employment contract for the 2010-2011 academic year. Dr. Caner will remain on the faculty of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary as a professor."

Now, I'm no expert, but even I can see the political tap dancing that the university is doing with this statement. You will find a plethora of information in the links I provided discussing why the conclusion of the investigation is not satisfactory. I will focus on my personal opinion, which is while it's all well and good that we've discovered Caner was really a Muslim (I never had an issue with that), it is just not satisfactory that we have not heard a statement from Caner himself, nor any direct answers to the questions that have been raised.
It seems plain that "factual statements that are self-contradictory" just doesn't make sense. You cannot have two statements, both true, that contradict each other in this context. The opposing statements are on such opposite ends of the spectrum it seems impossible that it could have been a simple mistake- multiple times. You cannot be born in two separate countries, and I haven't yet met a person who repeatedly makes those same kinds of "mistakes".
Even further than that, the university found that possible deception is not a moral issue? Come on people, you are supposed to be pillars of the academic society, an example for the young minds your schools shape. Your staff should be held to- at the very least- the same standards as your students. I highly doubt that it would be acceptable for a student to make factual claims that are self-contradictory in any of their schoolwork. In fact, any reasonable educator would assume that in some place, there is deception.
Yet, here we have Liberty and others fighting to the bitter end to exonerate Caner, yet for some reason his contract as dean will not be renewed. That, friends, is a contradiction in itself. Why relieve somebody of their position (or step down) if you have nothing to hide? What example is the university setting for those who attend?
Why would we, as parents, choose to send our children to a place where moral standards are quickly becoming cloudier than the oil slick in the Gulf? We are responsible, in God's eyes, for the raising of our children. It would be highly irresponsible for any parent to send their child to a university that doesn't uphold the highest biblical standards, or even basic moral standards. Honesty is key in a Christian lifestyle, and those in positions of authority should strive to be above reproach in everything they do.
Liberty has shown, by their politically-driven response to the Caner situation, that they have abandoned those high biblical standards. I would encourage parents to take a hard look at sending their children to be taught under questionable circumstances, not just at Liberty, but at any university.
We want to stand before God at judgment with a clear conscience, knowing that we have done everything in our power to raise our children in the way they should go. With education playing a key role in how children turn out, I will choose to send my children to places that will turn them out in God's way, and that are not bent towards tickling ears and pleasing the masses.