Perpetual Adolesence

20131205-011158.jpg It is certainly an unfortunate tragedy that Paul Walker’s life ended so young and we all naturally sympathize with his family and friends who lost a loved one and a family member.

However, I would surmise that if Paul Walker was given a second chance he would challenge all of us to never act as equally reckless as he and his friend were this past weekend.

He leaves behind a daughter and a message. Perpetual adolescence must end.

Whatever you idolize will determine what you also demonize. Our culture idolizes reckless adolescent behavior and so we demonize responsible adult behavior.

I realize my comments will most likely be misunderstood and this will be an unpopular post. Nevertheless, I feel like it needs to be said. Real men don’t risk their lives for an adolescent thrill. They put the needs of their children, wives and families ahead of their own adolescent drive towards selfish, reckless behavior.

You’ll not hear the media comment in this regard. The message we hear from Hollywood, the music industry, and the magazine aisle is that we should pursue self gratification and adventure at any cost. The ultimate evil to be avoided is not selfish, reckless behavior but boring, monotonous, adult behavior.

Our culture celebrates the adolescent. Television reality shows like The Bachelor and Big Brother, sitcoms like Two and a Half Men and How I Met your mother, as well as the litany of reckless and indulgent films offered to us by Hollywood every year, have indoctrinated us to believe that the worst day of a man’s life is the day he has to grow up.

I’m sure, if he were somehow able to comment, Mr Walker would choose to do things differently that day. He, I’m sure, would have chosen watching his teenage daughter grow into an adult and someday walking her down an aisle over the momentary thrill of high speeds on a California highway.

The Scriptures weigh in on this subject. 1Corinthians 13:11 says, “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”

That’s good advice.

When you become a man it is time for adolescence to end. Men should not remain boys because when they do everyone around them suffers.

One of the leading indicators of potential incarceration is a fatherless home. One of the leading causes of poverty is fatherless homes. 85% of youths in prisons grew up in a fatherless home [Fulton County GA jail populations, TX Department of Corrections, 1992], 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes. 90% of homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes [US D.H.H.S., Bureau of the Census].

Fatherless boys and girls are: twice as likely to drop out of high school; twice as likely to end up in jail; four times more likely to need help for emotional or behavioral problems [US D.H.H.S. news release, March 26, 1999].

What’s the point?

The point is, while we celebrate the antics and thrills of the perpetually adolescent men surrounding us, we are encouraging one of the most destructive behaviors, not only to ourselves and our families, but to society.

As a culture, we’ve celebrated selfish, reckless behavior in men and enabled men to vacate their responsibilities to the children they create and the women they pursue.

Every little boy, every little girl, every mother, every wife, and every city needs men who have put aside childish things and have learned how to behave and take responsibility like a man.

The truth is that marriage to a woman often beckons men to a higher calling then they would naturally be inclined to achieve. As unfortunate as it is, the reality just might be, if Paul Walker had been married to his daughters mother, he most likely would have been more inclined to request that the driver of the speeding Porsche Carrera slowdown, if nothing else, for his wife and daughters sake.

In a culture of celebrated feminism and the idolization of the adolescent, there needs to be a clear call from the church for men to put aside perpetual adolescence and begin to behave responsibly, maturely and in an adult manner.

We need less boys and more men.

The Ark

Dorothy Church near Drumheller, AlbertaIt does not require advanced observational skills to know that our world is corrupt. The Psalmist tells us that the Lord “daily loads us with benefits” (Psa. 68:19). In that same prose the newspaper daily loads us with woes.

We are inundated by our media with the horrors of power in the hands of corrupt politicians, of passions and diversions that end in disaster, the corruption of love and intimacy and the devaluing of person-hood in the aged and unborn. Some of these realities, like the atrocities of convicted Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell, are too disturbing to even approach.

Our world is fundamentally flawed. It seems no sooner does one evil dictator die that another takes his place. Scandal is followed by fallout and reaction which is often followed by even more scandal.

If the disease of the human condition wasn’t enough we also have to face the awful disasters that nature brings. So far, just in 2013, there has been devastating tornadoes in Oklahoma, a Nor’easter dump almost 23 inches of snow and ice on New England, dozens of earthquakes, wildfires in Colorado, flooding in Central Europe, and a meteor hit Chelyabinsk in Russia. Even the Earth, with its thorns and thistles, has been corrupted by the curse of sin (Gen. 3:17-18). The scriptures are true when they say that the Earth groans and waits for its redemption (Romans 8:18-23).

It wouldn’t be quite so bad if we could find a place of solace in ourselves but the awful truth is we are complicit as well. It’s one thing to shake our head at the demise of culture and the reckless, selfish behavior of others. It’s another thing altogether to look inside and realize the same decay is alive in me.

Many Christian movements have a tendency to hide in response to our culture. They insulate, hunker down and attempt to ignore the world and the culture around them in order to protect it’s decay from effecting all that they value. As a husband, parent and Pastor it is easy to understand the desire to run, hide and seclude everything and everyone you value. However, that is not always possible, nor is it necessarily a believer’s best or only response to the disease of our culture.

The Israelites, slaves in Egypt, were under the threat of Pharaoh. Fearing the swelling number of Israelites he ordered the midwives to kill all the boys born to the Hebrew mothers (Exodus 1-2). Fearing God, scriptures say, that the midwives disobeyed Pharaoh and let the baby boys live. Seeing that the midwives wouldn’t obey, “Pharaoh commanded all his people, “Every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile, but you shall let every daughter live.” (Exodus 1:22 ESV)

So it came as a surprise to me when I read the next 3 verses. Jochebed, Moses mother, after hiding him for three months in their house, could hide him no longer. So she made a little ark and she put him in the river.

The river. The thing that was drowning all the others babies. The river was her problem. Why would she put him in the river?

The unfortunate reality is there is no avoiding the river. I would love to fully encase my children in bubble wrap, hide them in our house and shelter them from all the evil and pain in the world. I would very much enjoy the ability to prevent the families in our church from having to deal with divorce, death and disaster. But I can’t. I cannot keep them from the river. Everyone faces the river.

Thankfully, I am not totally powerless. I may not be able to keep them from the river but just like Jochebed I can put them in something that can keep them from the rivers effect. When it came time for Moses to face the river, Jochebed put Moses in an ark. So while others were drowning in the river Moses was drawn out of the river. Even his name, which means “drawn out”, testifies to the preserving power of the ark.

It was an ark that preserved Noah’s family during the great flood. It was an ark that preserved Moses in the river. It is still an ark that preserves the righteous today. You and I can place our families, friends and loved ones in the church! The church of Jesus Christ is an ark of safety (Heb. 11:7) that, though we cannot avoid the river, we can be preserved from the rivers effect.

The local church is the hope of the world. It preserves and declares and protects. It exists for the sake of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His followers.

Thank God for the church!

What Makes A Life

baby mobileIf there’s one thing the main stream media (MSM) loves it’s a juicy tale. Give us a celebrity divorce, a baby daddy, a hostage, some good old fashioned money laundering, adultery or murder. We’ll even take a cruise ship full of poop and make it a sensation!

However, something strange has happened the last few weeks. A man by the name of Kermit Gosnell, a Philadelphia abortionist, is accused of some of the most horrific crimes I’ve ever read. Crimes so awful I will not list their details here. Suffice it to say the nickname his office has gained, “House of Horrors”, is appropriate. Yet the MSM says nothing.

The details are horrific. Horrific. I certainly understand the desire to avoid willingly letting oneself being awash in these atrocious details. But to ignore it completely is indicative of, at the very least, a bias and an a priori position regarding abortion. In her opinion piece for USA Today, which you can read here at your own discretion,  Kirsten Powers points out the near total media silence on the details and trial of Kermit Gosnell. It makes the claim seem true that if the facts contend with the MSM narrative of any given issue then their response is to simply ignore the facts.

My contention is that the media has not ignored this story because it inaccurately or unfairly depicts the abortion industry but because it all too accurately displays what abortion looks like and what it really is. The murder of babies.

Many pro-abortion activists have used a series of philosophical arguments to advocate for the legality of abortion. Let’s examine them.

Self-Awareness: One individual told me that the difference is self-awareness. His contention was that self-awareness is what makes us fully human and grants us the person hood that is so morally sacred and protected by the laws of the United States. Since an embryo has no self-awareness (that we’re aware of) then it has no person hood or value to protect. It can be removed, like a tumor, at the will of its host. Considering the claim that the capacity for self-awareness bestows value on human beings leaves me with more questions.

When we are asleep we are not self aware. Do we lose person hood when we are asleep? Or maybe when we’re comatose? Are individuals that are impaired, suffering from dementia or other neurological disorders void of person hood? Of course not. Even if they lack immediate self-awareness the potential is there for self-awareness and that is what makes us a human being as opposed to every other living thing on the planet. Our intrinsic humanity in design.

Self-Awareness is no more a reason to advocate for abortion than sleep is. Though an embryo may not be aware yet of its fingers, toes or heartbeat it retains the potential, if uninterrupted, to acquire that self-awareness of person hood and that is what makes it fully human and fully deserving of the sacred right to life.

Size: They’re so small. Not even .25 of an inch until the sixth week. Pro-abortion advocates would say that there is no moral problem with eliminating something the size of a pea.

Using this logic we can conclude that larger people have more rights than smaller people. Embryos are smaller than newborns and toddlers are smaller than adults. My wife is smaller than me. Does that grant me more rights to person hood than her? Of course not. Size has no bearing whatsoever on whether it is morally or rationally acceptable to end a life. Size doesn’t equal value. If that were true than men, which are generally larger in size than women, have more rights as a person than women.

Furthermore, at 12 weeks, the average fetus weighs half an ounce, is 2 inches long and has almost all vital systems fully formed. At 16 weeks it weighs up to four ounces, is up to 5 inches long, has eyebrows, lashes, teeth and hair filling in. At 22 weeks the average size is 10 inches, weighing 12 ounces, the face is fully formed, gender is visible, the baby can hear and taste. It may be small but so is my sister. Size has no bearing on the person hood or value of a life.

Level of development: While it is true that a baby in gestation is less developed than a newborn it has no bearing on their person hood or the adults they’ll one day become. The only difference is a few days. Every living human was one day a fetus in gestation. It is the human process through which we must all travel. If anything, it is indicative of our humanity.

There is no moral or rational reason level of development should be relevant in determining person hood. A three year-old girl is less developed than a teenager. Should older children have more rights than their younger siblings? A newborn is far less developed than an adult male. Is David Beckham more of a person and endued with more rights than a newborn? Of course not.

What about those who never fully develop certain abilities or physical systems? What about the boy born without eyes or hands? What about the little girl born without legs? Is she somehow less of a person because she is not as developed as others? Do they have less of a right to life?

Acknowledging limited levels of development, instead of allowing, should actually deter from any pro-abortion position as it indicates the humanity and person hood of a body. If left uninterrupted it has the potential to fully develop into a self-aware human being. The key word there is, “uninterrupted”.

Environment: Some say as long as it is in the womb it’s not a person yet and it can be “terminated”. This to me is some of the most egregious logic used to defend abortion.

A mother’s womb should be the safest place in the world. Instead, the awful truth is, it has become as dangerous, particularly to African-American babies, as the most violent inner city in the nation. As Scott Klusendorf said here:

Where you are has no bearing on who you are. Does your value change when you cross the street or roll over in bed? If not, how can a journey of eight inches down the birth-canal suddenly change the essential nature of the unborn from non-human to human? If the unborn are not already human, merely changing their location can’t make them valuable.

We don’t gain or lose rights or person hood based upon where we are. Using location, and most of all the womb, to defend abortion is mind-boggling to me. A person outside the womb is a person in the womb. Just because we can’t see a baby in the womb does not mean it’s not a baby until it’s born. Environment has no moral or rational bearing on person hood.

Degree of Dependency: Some say that because the fetus depends completely on the mother for it’s survival it is the mother’s choice to keep or terminate the pregnancy. There are two problems with this reasoning.

First, it places the value of a human life on whether someone wants it alive or not. Why then not make murder legal? If a pregnant woman is assaulted and loses the child she is carrying the courts can charge homicide because the mother wanted the child. How then, if a mother chooses abortion, is it not also murder? Simply because she didn’t want it? An individuals worth to another individual has no bearing on it’s person hood, value or intrinsic humanity.

Secondly, it makes the degree of dependence one has on forces outside of itself the test of person hood. If that is the case then the handicapped, injured, comatose and those with medical afflictions have lost their person hood. Again, Scott Klusendorf weighs in:

If viability makes us human, then all those who depend on insulin or kidney medication are not valuable and we may kill them. Conjoined twins who share blood type and bodily systems also have no right to life.

Simply put, our level of dependence on forces outside ourselves does not reasonably determine our humanity, person hood or intrinsic value.

We may have different levels of self-awareness, differing sizes, location and levels of development but we are all human and all endowed by our creator with a right to life and person hood. I believe God is the giver of life and as such no man has the right to take it in the womb.

So what makes a life?

When a man and a woman conceive a child in the woman’s womb, from the moment of conception, morally, rationally and most of all Biblically, that is a child. Some may choose to call it an embryo, a zygote or a fetus. That’s fine. But it’s a baby and it’s a person and it has a right to live as much as anyone outside a womb.

The awful truth, and the story our culture is desperately trying to avoid, is that abortion ends a life and there is no good reason.

John Piper on Race

Genocide. Terrorism. Hate crimes. In a world where racism is far from dead, is unity amidst diversities even remotely possible?

Sharing from his own experiences growing up in the segregated South, pastor John Piper thoughtfully exposes the unremitting problem of racism. Instead of turning finally to organizations, education, famous personalities, or government programs to address racial strife, Piper reveals the definitive source of hope—teaching how the good news about Jesus Christ actively undermines the sins that feed racial strife, and leads to a many-colored and many-cultured kingdom of God.

Learn to pursue ethnic harmony from a biblical perspective, and to relate to real people different from yourself, as you take part in the bloodline of Jesus that is comprised of “every tongue, tribe, and nation.”

You can purchase Bloodlines from Amazon or download a free pdf copy here.