Balance or Yes & No

wooden fenceIt’s not that we don’t know right from wrong. We do. We simply all too often make either emotional or reckless decisions in a moment of weakness, hunger or fatigue.

We know right from wrong, we just don’t know how to prioritize right from wrong.

Most of our selfish and reckless decisions are sourced from the fact that our priorities are fluid. We haven’t decided, before we are presented with a decision, what our values and priorities dictate. Your greatest weapon in achieving your goals is deciding before hand what you say yes to and what you say no to and then being intentional about sticking with those principles.

Even if, however, you are able to do that, there is then the difficulty of choosing between good things and better things. As Jim Collins so aptly presented to us, The enemy of great is good enough.

It is those reasons that make balance one of the most important things necessary for a healthy life spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically. We are only one person, and our mind and spirit and intellect must do everything they will do in the only physical body we will ever have. An imbalance in any of those areas will affect who you are as a person.

The state of your body affects your mind and the state of your spirit affects your body. There’s only one way to disconnect your mind, body and spirit from each other. It’s called death.

So as long as you are alive, and as long as you intend to pursue physical, spiritual and emotional health, you’re going to have to learn to find balance. That will require you learning when to say, “Yes” and when to say, “No”.

As much as we would like to convince ourselves otherwise, there is no neutrality in life. We make choices every day. Not making a choice is a choice in itself. Everything you say “yes” to also means a thousand other options you said “no” to. Everywhere you are is a myriad of places you aren’t. Everything you receive defines the things you reject and vice versa.

Learning the power of saying “Yes” and “No” to the right things is key to achieving balance.

The great power of Christianity is that, for most of us, If we get God in His rightful place everything else effortlessly lines up. The truth is, it’s not so much us putting God in His rightful place ( He’s already there) as it is us placing ourselves in our proper place under Him. When we realign our will with His will we find ourselves in the peace that is promised in His Spirit.

Sometimes we’re afraid to say no to some people and things because it often feels harsh and severe. We would like to be seen as nice people, as being kind. But sometimes saying no is the kindest, most important thing you can do for yourself, your family or another person.

Often, we can be very cruel in our intents to be kind. It’s not kindness to continue to enable individuals to self destruct. It’s not kindness to fatigue your own mind and body to such a degree that you rob yourself of rest and your family of your complete presence. Often the kindest thing we could do is learn to say, “No”.

Sadly, it is often the little things that end up being our real problems. It turns out, you really should sweat the small stuff because often the big stuff is simply an aggregate of the small stuff that we didn’t properly sweat. Our priorities were fluid, our values unsettled, and, because of that, we didn’t know when to say yes or when to say no. The little stuff aggregates and then we have a big problem.

John Piper says in his book, A Hunger For God,

“The greatest enemy of hunger for God is not poison but apple pie. It is not the banquet of the wicked that dulls our appetite for heaven, but endless nibbling at the table of the world. It is not the X-rated video, but the prime-time dribble of triviality we drink in every night. For all the ill that Satan can do, when God describes what keeps us from the banquet table of his love, it is a piece of land, a yoke of oxen, and a wife (Luke 14:18-20).

The greatest adversary of love to God is not his enemies but his gifts. And the most deadly appetites are not for the poison of evil, but for the simple pleasures of earth. For when these replace an appetite for God himself, the idolatry is scarcely recognizable, and almost incurable.”

Airplanes need two wings, and both are necessary to stay in the air. People have two legs, one to remain planted while the other one moves, enabling us to walk forward or backward. Roads have two sets of lanes, each going in opposite directions. The truth is, you need Yes and No to achieve balance in life.

Yes to God. Yes to good things. Yes to rest. Yes to faith.

No to the tyranny of the urgent. No to good things that rob from better things. No to exhaustion.

Learning how to use Yes and No is one of the greatest skills you will refine in your pursuit of balance.

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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.

Mothers

daisy ladybug fieldMen and women are different. Very different. Men and women are different in their nature, their strengths and their design.

Yet the message young women get from western culture is one that does not vary all that much from what it tells young men. Go to college, get a job, commit to a career and if you have time, and if it fits your lifestyle, get married and have children.

However, The Bible has something completely different to say. The message scripture sends to young women, older women and mothers is one of honor and value. That working in the home, caring for a husband and children is to be valued and honored.

What you do is important. What you do is a blessing. What you do in the home, in caring for children and your husband, should be taught to others and passed down to the generations that follow you (Titus 2:1-5).

Women and mothers are to be honored, protected and valued (Matthew 19:19).

Children come from the Lord and they are not an inconvenience but a blessing (Psalm 127:3).

Grandchildren are the crown of the aged (Proverbs 17:6).

In the ten commandments, right in between statements like, thou shalt have no other Gods before me and thou shalt not murder, is the fifth commandment. Honor your father and mother (Exodus 20:12).

Jesus used the last few moments before his death to care for his mother (John 19:26).

All throughout scripture we see, contrary to the Bible’s critics, the Word of God calling men to honor, protect and provide for women and children. The Bible exalts and blesses the role that women are called to play in society and in the home.

Men, through your actions, your lifestyle and your words you should and can affirm and fortify the Biblical role of your wife and mother.

Here’s a few practical ways you can affirm the role of your wife and mother.

Go to work and provide for her and your children.

Keep your mind clean and your eyes, as well as your hands, off other women.

Read your Bible and pray every day. Preferably with them.

Tell the truth.

Clean up after yourself. She may be a mother but she’s not your mother.

If any woman in your life is going to be offended in your behavior make sure it’s not your wife. If that means you have to be rude to co-workers or clients so be it. Your wife comes first.

Don’t laugh at or tell jokes that demean, demoralize or sexually objectify women.

Take her, and any children you may have, to church.

Spend more time with them than you do your buddies.

Hold doors, chairs and coats like a gentleman.

Treat people, even people you don’t like, with respect.

Keep the weekends for your family.

Tell her that you value her and what she means to your family.

Buy her things. Nice things.

Set a weekly date night.

Give her time alone and time with her friends.

Send her flowers for no reason at all.

These are just a few suggestions. Have you got any to add? Leave a comment below.

Thoughts for Dads

Superhero TootsiePopMy son has been running around the house with a cape and a mask making noises and jumping around. He’s not in trouble or needing attention. He thinks he’s a superhero. He’s being male. No one has to teach little boys to shoot guns with their finger, to make explosion noises or to do karate. They just do. It’s very natural for a boy to want to be a hero.

Men are called to lead. It’s built into our nature. It’s part of our being. It’s why we compete, hunt and sport. We are born leaders. God designed man to lead the home and the family.

That is not to say that women don’t have leadership abilities. Mothers and wives are responsible for their homes as well only in a different degree than men are. It was Eve that believed the lie of the serpent but it was Adam that God called to account for the spiritual condition of himself and his wife. Simply put, God’s ideal is that men be responsible for the provision, protection and spiritual health of the family.

When God wanted us to understand what His relationship with His people would be He employed the analogy of a Father and his children and a husband to his wife. We have a heavy calling as fathers and husbands to bear the image of our Father.

The scriptures often speak of God in the nature of a Father.

“As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.” (Ps. 103:13)

“The Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.” (Prov. 3:12)

“Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.” (Ps. 68:5)

It is of utmost importance that men, especially in our increasingly decadent and reckless culture, model the fatherhood and husbanding of God. We can and should honor God in how we treat our families. What the world knows of the Father we serve will be the sum of what they see in the Christian Fathers they know.

I never knew my father. My wife and I met him for the first time when I was 23 years old. It was Godly male leadership in the church, and the example of good Christian men, that helped me understand that God wanted to be my Father and that I could trust Him. It has been Godly male leadership in the church that has helped me understand what it means for me to be a good father and husband. Do not underestimate the value of Godly, Biblical, male leadership.

I’d like to also say that fathers and husbands in ministry need to be especially careful not to make ministry an idol to the detriment of their family. We commit idolatry when we place the ministry of the church above ministry to our families. We often forget that, according to 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, our ministry in the home is what qualifies us for public ministry in the church.

God has called dozens of men to your city to carry the Gospel. If you were to die today He would raise someone up to Pastor your church. However, you are the only man called to your wife & children.

Pastor Mark Driscoll of Seattle offers 11 practical ways for men to lead their families on his blog. He says:

As men, we bear a greater burden before God for the well-being of our families and our church. Our wives and children should flourish under our loving leadership.

By the grace of God, you can be who God has called you to be, do what God has called you to do, and love as God has loved you.

As men, we will never in this life experience perfection, but by the grace of God we can experience progress every day until we enter perfection in the life to come. So don’t sulk, don’t sin, and don’t settle, but instead strive.

Here are 11 practical tips for husbands to strive to lead their family well:

1. As the family leader, model humility, honesty, repentance, service, study, and worship. Your life preaches at least as loudly as your words, so teach and model humble godliness by the grace of God.

2. Make sure everyone in your family has a good, age-appropriate Bible that they regularly read. Read the Bible yourself and with them so they are encouraged to read on their own.

3. Make sure you have some basic Bible study tools available for your family in either print or digital form and that everyone learns to use them. If you do not know where to begin, ask your pastor or a godly student of Scripture in your church about things like a good Bible commentary, concordance, dictionary, and atlas.

4. Buy good Christian books for everyone in your family to read. Include Christian biographies among those books.

5. Choose good books that you and your wife can be reading together, including books of the Bible, and discuss what you are learning.

6. If there are Bible-based classes offered in your church, attend with your family.

7. Redeem your commute by listening to good sermons and classes, many of which you can download for free.

8. Have dinner together with your family most nights, and use that time to pray together, keep a journal log of prayer requests for other people, and read a portion of the Bible and talk about it together.

9. Pray for each member of your family every day and let them know you are praying for them.

10. Place a hand on the head of each of your children every day and pray over them. Then kiss them on the head and make sure they often get a loving hug.

11. While either snuggling or holding hands, pray with and for your wife every day and remember to include the reasons you are thankful to God for her that day. If these things have not been common in your home, it is very likely that your family has been aching for them and will be thankful for your loving leadership as the head of your home.

Do you have any other suggestions? Are there any things you’re intentional about to show your kids you love them and Jesus loves them? What kind of things did your dad do that showed you, not only that he loved you, but that Jesus was real in your family and that God loved you? Let me know in the comments below.

Marriage

wedding ringsI enjoy many aspects of the ministry but I particularly enjoy weddings. It’s not just because I like cake. I like what weddings represent. Weddings are hopeful and idealistic. They point to promise, covenant and faith for tomorrow. They acknowledge God, our devotion to one another and our place in community. Weddings are testimonies that people still believe in each other and the possibility of better things and I appreciate that.

Weddings are a grand declaration that we still believe in one another. We believe in better things and better days. That, even when our world is very, very ugly and we’re tempted to despair of it, we still have reason to smile. Weddings are days when families get together to celebrate and consecrate a new union that testifies of faith, hope and love. I like cake, but I really like weddings.

Marriages are entered into every day by the hundreds yet it is greater than a cultural event. Though marriage is administered by law it is more than a legal contract. Though it is respected by society it is more than a civil union. Marriage is, above all else, a sacred covenant, instituted by God, upheld by His law, blessed by His hand and is to be honored by all men.

It is on purpose that weddings take place in a church, with a minister officiating, the reading of scripture, prayer, sacred vows and celebration. Marriage is a sacred covenant and the presence of God is necessary for it to be a success.

The first miracle Jesus ever performed was at a wedding when he turned the water into wine both honoring the wedding with his presence and blessing it with the miraculous. We read the story in the book of John 2:1-2: “And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage.” That’s a good call to make.

Call Jesus into your marriage. Invite him to be seated at every table, the guest in every room and the counselor in every decision. It is on purpose that weddings take place at a church, with prayer, the reading of scripture and a minister officiating. Marriages need the presence of God and take faith. Faith in each another, faith in your marriage, and faith for the future.

Scripture teaches that a husband ought to love his wife and give himself for her as Christ gave himself for the church. It also teaches that the wife ought to love her husband and be faithful to him in all things and that by honoring God’s law, and by forsaking all others and their individual fortunes, the two will become what the Bible calls, “one flesh”. Marriage is a covenant between one man and one woman, for life.

Covenant. That’s an old fashioned word meaning an unbreakable promise. That’s the hope and the beauty of marriage. It’s built on a promise. It’s not built on emotion or transitory feelings. It’s not built on our worthiness or charm. It will not be the weakness or the strength of a Bride and Groom’s character that will determine the outcome of their marriage. It will be their faithfulness to their promise. Your character may fail but your marriage doesn’t have to. Even if integrity is found lacking a marriage can still survive if the bride and groom simply keep their promise.

It is this promise that will keep them together, grow their family, bless their home and protect their children. It is this promise that will bless their community through them. Marriage is the most valuable promise you can make and the most important to keep.

The Definition of Marriage

girl & boyThis week the Supreme Court is hearing arguments over the definition of marriage in the United States. This is a political and social cauldron that has been brewing for decades and now heads to the Supreme Court for a decision.

Some would ask what all the trouble is about. If you love someone shouldn’t you be allowed to marry them? While on its face that seems a simple and justifiable position it posits some irrational assumptions. The same logic can be used to defend polygamous marriages, sibling marriage and virtually any other “marriage” one could conceive. Essentially marriage will lose its definition if same-sex marriage is deemed a culturally acceptable marriage.

Furthermore, as a Christian, same-sex marriage is also unthinkable because I believe the Bible is the definitive objective moral standard that all people should adhere to and the Bible defines marriage as being between one man and one woman. The state does not confer the right to marriage. Marriage is a religious institution, defined and designed by God into the essence of nature, that the state recognizes for its social, cultural and economic benefits.

Marriages are entered into every day by the hundreds yet it is greater than a cultural event. Though marriage is administered by law it is more than a legal contract. Though it is respected by society it is more than a civil union. Marriage is, above all else, a sacred covenant, instituted by God, upheld by His law, blessed by His hand and is to be honored by all men.

Blogger Mike McManus offers some interesting statistics here regarding same sex marriage:

Gays are not interested in marriage. Massachusetts was the first state to adopt gay marriage in 2004. However, there’ve been only 12,000 same-sex unions. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 4% of men are gay and 1% of women are lesbian. Thus, of the state’s 3.3 million males, there are [potentially] 132,000 gay men, plus 33,000 lesbians. Only 14% of the 165,000 have “married” and 86% chose not to do so…[indicating] most are not interested in marriage.

Why should the definition of marriage be changed when less than a tenth of 2% of the population wants to force that change? In all 30 states that have added constitutional amendments limiting marriage to the union of one man and one woman, traditional marriage has always been upheld by referenda, even in California.

Children need a mother and father. The healthiest children are those reared by a married mother and father. “Marriage is the union of a husband and wife for a reason: these are the only unions that can make new life and connect children in love to their mom and dad,” says Maggie Gallagher, President of National Organization for Marriage.

Homosexual men are 4% of the population but account for half of all new HIV infections and 85% of syphilis cases. According to the CDC, men having sex with men (MSM) account for 48% of the one million people living with HIV, (532,000), 53% of new HIV infections (28,700). MSM are the only risk group in the U.S. in which new HIV infections have been increasing since the early 1990s.

Gay men live 20 years shorter lives than heterosexuals, according to the only epidemiological study to date. A tenth of sexually active teens are experimenting with same-sex unions, reports a New York City study, published in the journal Pediatrics. Why encourage more teens to experiment with this destructive life style?

In summary, unlike heterosexual marriage in which fidelity is the norm for four out of five couples, promiscuity is the norm for homosexuals, even those in committed relationships. Only a tenth of gays marry if given the legal opportunity to do so. Most are not interested in marrying.

If they aren’t interested, why force a change in the definition of marriage to benefit a tenth of 2% of the population? It will only encourage more sexual experimentation among young people with tragic consequences. They will live 20 years shorter lives.

For children to thrive, they need to grow up in homes with a married mother and father. In his 1828 American Dictionary, Noah Webster defined marriage as the “act of uniting a man and a woman for life,” because marriage “was instituted …for the purpose of preventing the promiscuous intercourse of the sexes, for promoting domestic felicity, and for securing the maintenance and education of children.”

Pastor and Author Kevin DeYoung offers this insight from his blog post, A Few Things to Consider Before Supporting Gay Marriage at The Gospel Coalition.

A pundit on the radio opined that opposing gay marriage is “Neanderthal” because he believes, “people should be able to marry whoever they want.” This was a well known talking head giving voice to a sentiment shared all across this fruited plain. On college campuses, around dining room tables, and in not a few of our churches, gay marriage marches on by the simple logic that says: what business do we have telling people who they can or can’t marry?

As impressive as the argument sounds–barreling down at us with the strong force of moral superiority and the implicit charge of intolerance–the logic is less than meets the eye.

Let’s think about what is not at stake in our culture’s debate over gay marriage.

  • The state is not threatening to criminalize homosexual behavior. Though many Americans believe the behavior is wrong (and until fairly recently homosexual acts were against the law in some states), the debate at present is not about whether homosexuality is legal or not. No one questions that it is.
  • The state is not going to prohibit homosexuals from committing themselves to each other in public ceremonies or religious celebrations.
  • The state is not going to legislate whether two adults can live together or profess love for one another.

The issue is not about controlling “what people do in their bedrooms” or “who they can love.” The issue is about what sort of union the state will recognize as “marriage” and confer all the benefits thereof. The state doesn’t tell us who we can be friends with or who we can live with. You can have one friend or three friends or a hundred. You can live with your sister, your mother, your dog, or your buddy from work. You can celebrate your relationship with your grandma or your college roommate however you want. But none of these relationships–no matter how special–are marriages. The state’s refusal to recognize these relationships as “marriage” does not keep us from pursuing them, enjoying them, or counting them as significant.

The debate is often cast as freedom (those who support anyone marrying anyone) versus oppression (those who want to tell you who you can marry). Conservatives are losing the debate because that’s the narrative being told in a thousand television episodes, in a thousand songs, and by an increasing number of politicians and educators. But in the long run, the triumph of gay marriage (should it triumph as a cultural and legal reality) will mean the restriction of freedoms for millions of Americans.

This will happen in obvious ways at first–by ostracizing those who disagree, by bullying with political correctness, and by trampling on religious liberty. Surely, Christians must realize that no matter how many caveats we issue, not matter how much we nuance our stance, no matter how much we encourage or show compassion for homosexuals, it will not be enough to ward off the charges of hatred and homophobia. We will have many opportunities in the years ahead to walk in the steps of Jesus who when reviled, did not revile in return, and when he suffered, did not threaten but continued to entrust himself to him who judges justly (1 Peter 2:23).

But gay marriage will challenge our freedoms in others way too. It’s not just Evangelicals, traditional Catholics, and Mormons who will be threatened. Once the government gains new powers, it rarely relinquishes them. There will be a soft tyranny that grows as the power of the state increases, a growth that is intrinsic to the  notion of gay marriage itself.

Marriage a Pre-Political Institution

In the traditional view, marriage is what it is. It’s the union of one man and one woman. That’s what marriage is, before the state calls it as such or confers any benefits on it. Marriage, in the traditional view, is a pre-political institution. The state doesn’t determine what defines marriage; it only recognizes marriage and privileges it in certain ways. So “gay marriage” is actually “so-called marriage” because the state does not have the authority to redefine a pre-political reality.

In the revisionist view, by contrast, there is no is to marriage. To be fair, some advocates of gay marriage would say monogamy is still essential to marriage. That is, the one person-one person relationship, for some revisionists, still constitutes the essence of marriage. But many supporters would not make this claim. In fact, many are open that their end goal to abolish all bourgeois marriage. Even the ones that do promote monogamy find it hard to maintain logical consistency. If monogamy is what marriage is, then can a brother and sister be married? What about an acquaintance you meet on the internet with no intention of ever meeting in person? Can these two be married? Surely, the revisionist won’t want to say sexual intimacy is what makes marriage marriage. For then they too would be in the business of telling adults who they can and can’t marry. If your love isn’t sexual it doesn’t count.

And by what logic should marriage be restricted to two persons? Already in California a three-parent law is in the works. Multiple-person marriages will not be far behind. Why can’t three people be married? Or four or fifteen? And why should exclusivity have anything to do with it? Surely, we don’t want to stop adults from being married to whomever they want, even if they want to be married to six people at the same time.

This may sound like extreme reductio ad absurdum, but the premise behind these examples is already well on its way to being established. Once you argue that we have no right to refuse marriage to those who want their relationships to be defined as marriage, you’ve sold the definitional farm. You’ve effectively denied that marriage has any essence of its own. Marriage is whatever the state wants it to be.

What an irony: the many young people (and a growing number of young Christians) who support gay marriage on libertarian grounds are actually ceding to the state a vast amount of heretofore unknown power. No longer is marriage recognized as a pre-political entity which exists independent of the state. Now the state defines marriage and authorizes its existence.

Divine Design and the Common Good

One of the reasons gay marriage enjoys increasing support is because it doesn’t appear to harm anyone. The only threat, is seems, comes from those who defend traditional marriage and wish to force their morality on others. Our culture is fickle. It says “live and let live” when it comes to the most powerful human bonds and the most enduring institutions, but it insists on protecting the “other” with fundamentalist zeal when it comes to trans fat, cigarettes, and carbon emissions.

The unspoken secret, however, is that homosexual behavior is not harmless. Homosexuals are at a far greater risk for diseases like syphilis, HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, gonorrhea, HPV, and gay bowel syndrome. The high rate of these diseases is due both to widespread promiscuity in the gay community and the nature of anal and oral intercourse itself. Homosexual relationships are usually portrayed as a slight variation on the traditional “norm” of husband-wife monogamy. But monogamy is much less common among homosexual relationships, and even for those who value monogamy the definition of fidelity is much looser.

Gay marriage will also be harmful for our society. We must consider why the state has, for all these years, bothered to recognize marriage in the first place. What’s the big deal? Why not let people have whatever relationships they choose and call it whatever they want? Why go to the trouble of sanctioning a specific relationship and giving it a unique legal standing? The reason is because the state has an interest in promoting the familial arrangement which has a mother and a father raising the children that came from their union. The state has been in the marriage business for the common good and for the well-being of the society it is supposed to protect. Kids do better with a mom and a dad. Communities do better when husbands and wives stay together. Hundreds of studies confirm both of these statements (though we all can think of individual exceptions I’m sure). Gay marriage assumes that marriage is re-definable and the moving parts replaceable.

By recognizing gay unions as marriage, just like the husband-wife relationship we’ve always called marriage, the state is engaging in (or at least codifying) a massive re-engineering of our social life. It assumes the indistinguishability of gender in parenting, the relative unimportance of procreation in marriage, and the near infinite flexibility as to what sorts of structures and habits lead to human flourishing.

It may seem Neanderthal to think the state should not confer the rights and privileges of “marriage” upon whomever it chooses by whatever definition it pleases, but give it time. Experiments in sexual freedom have a tendency to blow up in the laboratory of real life. Would anyone say the family is stronger today because of the sexual revolution and no-fault divorce laws? Human nature and divine design are not set aside as easily as our laws and traditions.

Pray for our nation and pray for our culture. Sin has an infectious ability to corrupt everything it touches. For the spiritual health of our cities, our nation and our families we must defend the Biblical definition of marriage and continue to be salt and light by exampling in our lives what God’s ideal plan for the family looks like and by living in the blessing of Biblical marriage.

How To Go Broke At Christmas

I am a big fan of Dave Ramsey’s financial advice. I definitely recommend you check out his website and take advantage of the many resources he has available for financial counseling and Biblical money management and principles. His advice helped steer our family out of financial crisis during a very important time in our young marriage.

Dave recently posted blog entry with advice on how to go broke during the Christmas season. You can read his blog here or scroll below for Dave’s advice.

7 Ways to Go Broke This Season

If you’re trying to get out of debt, this time of year can easily become crazy and stressful. You want to go all out and have fun, but you know that “going all out” is what got you in trouble in the first place.

So what’s an early Baby Stepper to do?

What you need is a good plan—and, sometimes, a good plan is as much knowing what not to do as knowing what to do. Well, heed these warnings, regardless of what Baby Step you’re on! If you want to have a merry different Christmas, you might not want to do the following things:

1. Try to keep up with the Joneses.

That’s just not a good idea. The Joneses are broke. They have a lot of bills, ridiculous car payments and tricked-up mortgages. But at least they look good! Have you seen Mrs. Jones’ hair? Wow! That’s fancy! But despite the good hair, stop trying to keep up with the Joneses. You don’t need her hair, and you don’t want their debt following you into 2013.

2. Mistake Batman for food.

Come again? You need food. You need shelter. You need clothing. Your son doesn’t need the $100 remote-control Batmobile. Would that be awesome? Of course! But you don’t need it. Keep your priorities in focus during Christmas. Do what you can, and don’t spend more than you have—even if it’s an awesome Batmobile.

3. Give presents to everyone in your family.

Most of us simply can’t afford to give a $20 gift card to every brother, sister, aunt, uncle and cousin in the family tree. But we do it anyway. A lot of times, it’s out of some vague sense of guilt or obligation. Instead of giving something to everyone, you can have a family drawing where people draw names out of hat. Then, you’re only responsible for the person whose name you have drawn.

Plus, if it’s been a trend over the past few years to just exchange gift cards that everyone picks up at the last minute at the end-of-aisle kiosks, is it really meaningful and worth the effort?

4. Let the stores determine your plan.

The mall will suck you in and spit you out like a bad piece of fruitcake. Going to the mall without some type of plan of attack is like going to a donut factory without expecting to gain weight. If you don’t go in with a purpose, all the shiny, bright plastic stuff will draw you in like a moth to a flame. Make a plan and stick to it.

5.Cover every inch of your house and yard in lights.

There’s nothing wrong with a little festivity. Who doesn’t love seeing a house wrapped in lights on a cold December evening? But if your power bill triples during the Christmas season, and if you can’t seem to avoid buying 12 new inflatables for your yard every Christmas, then you might want to tone it down a bit.

6. Treat yourself to something nice … or two or three nice things.

You’d be surprised at how many people, while out gift shopping for others over the holidays, decide to buy something for themselves! Say what? This is why the previous point is so important—don’t go shopping without a plan! The mall will mock you if you attempt to enter its gates without a determined gaze and the willpower of a vegetarian in a steakhouse.

7. Travel long distances.

Nothing will make you go broke faster than trying to buy plane tickets for a family of five. And that’s just the cost of getting to where you want to go. On top of that, you’ve got lodging, food, a rental car—and, oh, don’t forget the presents! Again, it’s okay to travel. But don’t prioritize going to see the grandparents over providing for your family at Christmas—especially if you have kids. The grandparents are retired. Let them come see you.

You don’t have to buy into the commercial hype that says you must go shopping and come home with a dozen shopping bags and $1,000 in debt. That’s not smart. Or merry. Or festive. Or jolly. It’s just an all-around bad idea.

Do you have any additional advice for a family wanting to go broke this Christmas?