I awoke this morning to a palpable depression in the energy around me. I didn’t need to interact with anyone to feel it. So many around me were sad, grieving the loss of someone…or something. Things weren’t any better when I went to class this afternoon. Our professor was so depressed he couldn’t teach, and so our class spent twenty-five minutes talking about the election.
As I sat observing and meditating on what I was seeing, I realized that people were literally feeling as though someone had died. Even my family snapped at me when I reminded them that I saw Trump’s victory coming back in August. (Please know that I didn’t care who won, but I know human nature enough to know well in advance who would. More on that another time.)
Continue reading The Trumpy Blues, and How to Cure Them
Yes, you. The one who has no idea who you are or how you fit into this world. You conjure up grandiose dreams of becoming a “somebody,” but your story’s all about you. You live in a world disconnected from a grander narrative of family, tradition, and ultimate purpose because your parents rejected all traditions for simply being traditions. I know this because I am you. Like you, I want to be a somebody. Like you, I want a sense of grander narrative and purpose—and I’ve found it.
Do you want a story that’s about more than just you? A story that invites you into something deeper, a narrative fabric that’s been unfolding since the world began? Then dig through that attic trunk. Visit a local bookstore. Wipe off that dusty old brown book with B-I-B-L-E etched across the front. Crack open the freshly gilded pages of that faux leather find. And read it.
You’ll read of wars, rapes, murders, adulterous affairs, meaningless religion, and a humanity hellbent on running from God. But in the midst of the chaos, in the midst of the suffering, you’ll read of a God who is still at work, persistent in love and faithful to the end. You’ll read of a Man in whom God went to infinite length to have a relationship with liars, adulterers, rapists, murderers, porn addicts…people who were lost, people who wanted to be a part of a bigger story but had no idea how to get there.
You’ll read a story that’s not about you, and yet through the kinds of people woven into the narrative fabric of that dusty old book, you’ll find people who are just like you, people who wanted a story and became part of the biggest story of all.
S. Wyatt Young
I still remember sitting around the lunch table in Martine’s with a bunch of businesspeople, lawyers, and family as we celebrated my dad’s 59th birthday. The conversation was lighthearted and cheery as the group laughed together, reminiscing of times past and looking forward to the times to come.
Then the conversation got political. One of the people sitting around the table sabotaged the camaraderie with a jab against Republicans, and it wasn’t long before the rest of the group joined in. Having been raised in a liberal family, I was used to this, but aided by the training I’ve received at Fuller Theological Seminary, this was the first time I was able to actually be just a fly on the wall, observing the people around me and reflecting on what I was seeing.
Continue reading The Dichotomy of Truth and Comfort
A few weeks back, I took the time to spell out a bit of what it looks like for men and women to cultivate faithfulness to God through our dating habits and practices. In that post, I articulated what God’s best for romantic relationships (as seen in Ephesians 5:22-33) implies for the way we, as the Church, ought to practice dating in our culture.
God’s best for romantic relationships puts the man in the role of pursuer, just as Christ pursued us, and an oft-missed subtlety of the biblical story is that Christ had in mind his marriage to the Church from the very beginning of his ministry. As Tim Keller notes in a sermon he preaches on the Wedding at Cana, when Mary comes to Jesus to tell him that they’ve run out of wine and Jesus responds with, “My hour has not come,” it’s a logical non-sequitor. It doesn’t make sense, unless we understand that like most people at weddings, Jesus is thinking about his wedding to us in that moment—and all that it was going to take to get there (the Cross). Thus, before Jesus’s ministry was really underway, he was thinking about his marriage to us—and that was the goal of his pursuit.
Continue reading Less than His Best
For the last two weeks, this concept of covenant has dominated my thoughts. (Some of my friends are ready to beat me over the head if they hear the word “covenantal” one more time.) Two weeks ago, covenant rocked my world, completely reshaping the way I relate to God and understand my history with him, and covenant has radically altered the way that I practice faithfulness to God in dating.
Covenant is a promise without an exit. It binds two or more individuals together, but because our culture has come to focus so much on individual freedom, the concept of covenant has all but disappeared from our habits and practices, and as I’ve reflected on both my dating history and the way our culture practices dating, I’ve come to see how an absence of covenant from our dating habits and practices is robbing us of God’s highest and best for romantic relationship.
Continue reading Do We Believe in Marriage Anymore?
Captain Fantastic begins in a paradise based on Plato’s Republic. Ben and Leslie, attempting to escape from Leslie’s mental illness, have retreated into the wilderness of the Northwestern United States, where they and their children live isolated from the rest of the world—isolated from greed, ambition, and deceit, from all that is broken in the world. There, in the Eden they’ve created, they live out what they think it means to be truly free, giving their children an intense physical and intellectual education and teaching them to live off the land.
But Leslie’s illness isn’t cured by paradise, and while in a hospital being treated for the only brokenness she and Ben could not escape, Leslie commits suicide. Leslie’s father forbids Ben from attending the funeral, but Ben is quickly reminded by his daughter Zaja of the highest ideal in their Eden: human freedom.
Together, he and his children venture back into the world from which he and Leslie escaped, and in the clash that ensues between Ben and Leslie’s (extremely wealthy) family, Ben questions both his ability to parent and the education that he’s been providing his children in the wilderness. Ben even comes to question the wife he thought he knew when he learns that she helped their oldest son Bodevan apply to elite colleges like Harvard and Stanford.
Continue reading Longing for Eden
When I started this series on Christianity and feminism many months ago, I told you why I do not consider myself a (secular) feminist. I found secular feminism to be philosophically shallow, and said that I thought Christianity offered a more robust basis for gender equality, but that because equality based in God wasn’t equality on our terms, we may not like the implications.
The catalyst for this series was a Christian Ethics class I took last fall as part of my program at Fuller Theological Seminary, and one of the things I’d learned from my exploration of this issue as part of that class is that my disagreement with my classmates and with the authors we read boiled down to how much authority we assigned to the Bible and (consequently) how we interpreted it.
So, in the first post of this series, I walked you through what the Bible is. I told you how the Bible came to be what it is and how that story, coupled with the high authority I assigned to the Bible, led me to interpret the Bible using a biblical narrative hermeneutic, which is just a fancy way of saying that I interpret the Bible as one cohesive story, from Genesis 1 through Revelation 22.
Continue reading Can Christians Be Feminists?
One of the most controversial issues in the Christian Church over the last half-century has been the issue of women in ministry. I would even say that this issue is more divisive than one’s views on the nature of communion or the role of baptism, because if Jack believes that it’s a sin against God for any woman to hold authority over a man or to pray in church, Jack cannot, in good conscience, attend a church that allows for female worship leaders.
By contrast, if Jack believes in symbolic representation, he is still free to attend and receive communion at a church that believes in transubstantiation. And if neither of those words mean anything to you, then don’t worry about it. It’s my way of saying that the issue of women in ministry is one of the most divisive topics in the Church, so a clear understanding of what the Bible does (and does not) say about it is important if we’re going to have anything close to respectful dialogue.
This post is the much overdue continuation of my series on Christianity and feminism that I started earlier this year, and if you’re just now jumping in, you may want to familiarize yourself with what the Bible is and how I interpret it. Beyond that, what you read is up to you, but if you disagree with anything that I say below, it’s probably because we disagree about how to interpret the Bible (which is a function of how much authority we assign to it).
Continue reading Women in Ministry
In my last post, I explained what God’s vision for the redemption of marriage looks like, and I realize many of you had issues with that. I suspect many of you wanted God to undo the dominant-submissive relationship between husband and wife that was born from the sin of our ancestors. As I made clear in my last post, the biblical story gives us no reason to believe that God intends to do so. Instead, the biblical story makes clear that God intends to redeem the broken relationship between husband and wife not by eliminating gender roles within marriage, but by calling men to be better husbands, to lead their wives in the way that Christ leads the Church (his bride): earning her trust through acts of sacrificial love.
I also suspect that many of you thought that because of God’s refusal to abolish gender roles within marriage, all of the other gender role baggage came along with that. You may have thought that God’s vision for the redemption of marriage means that a woman’s place is in the home, that a woman can’t be independent if she chooses, that she can’t hold a job or hold leadership positions in society.
Simply put, that’s not true. God’s redemptive vision for marriage does assign roles to the husband and to his wife, yes. But God only says that a husband is to lead his wife and a wife is to entrust herself wholeheartedly to her husband’s leadership. No where in the biblical narrative does God suggest that a husband and wife have distinct roles in politics and society. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Outside of marriage, men and women are to relate to each other no differently than they relate to members of the same sex.
Continue reading From Marriage to Society
As part of my Christian Ethics class last fall, I had to write a paper on an ethical issue we’d examined during the quarter. Like many of my classmates, I chose the issue of gender roles, and as part of the assignment, I had to interview two of my classmates to better understand their positions through the lens of the Character Ethics grid articulated in Stassen and Gushee’s book, Kingdom Ethics.
What I came to see is that the disagreements I had with my classmates and with authors of some of the books we read for the class stemmed first from our basic conviction about the Bible’s authority, and secondly, from the hermeneutical principle we used to interpret the Bible. So, I took the time last week to write a very long post on what the Bible is and how I interpret it, in which I established that I take a high view of biblical authority.
I also established that I interpret the Bible using what I call a biblical narrative hermeneutic. Simply put, I believe the Bible to be the divinely inspired, true story of God’s redemption of a world that he loves more than we could ever understand. I believe it to be a cohesive story, from Genesis 1 through Revelation 22, and I interpret every bit of the Bible accordingly.
If you disagree with anything I say below, I’m almost positive that it will be on one of those two points, and I would invite you to read last week’s post.
Continue reading “Wives Submit to Your Husbands”