June 27, 2015

On Marriage and Gender

Recalibrating our Thinking on Marriage and Gender

Our society has lost a stable understanding of marriage and gender. Our collective understanding used to be informed by the biblical worldview and an understanding of creation's design and purposes. However, for most people that worldview has been replaced by arbitrary opinions that are the ever-changing concoctions of human invention. This will not end well for us.

Here are outlines and videos for three recent messages on marriage and gender that are especially relevant for the situation we find ourselves in today. Regardless of current laws, it is vitally important that we recalibrate our thinking on these issues from a biblical worldview. For the good of society and our families we need to be equipped to help others think clearly on these matters.

[Jesus] answered, 'Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, 'Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'?  So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.'" -Matthew 19:4-6

Ways the World Gets Marriage Wrong - part 1
  • The world thinks that marriage is a human invention.
  • Marriage is a human institution given to us by God. It is not a human invention, so we are not free to change it however we wish. On the other hand, marriage was given by God to all humanity and that is why we recognize non-Christian marriages of a man and a woman as real marriages. 
  • The world does not remember why marriage is between one man and one woman.
  • The Biblical pattern for marriage is one man and one woman (Genesis 1-2). Jesus Himself affirmed this in Matthew 19:4-6.
  • It is grounded in the design of this world. (1) There is a natural chain linking marriage --> sex --> conception --> raising children. The reason most people no longer understand marriage is because they have lost the awareness of this natural chain. (2) In addition, of all the possible combinations that we could consider for marriage, the combination of one man and one woman is the only combination that produces life. Therefore, the historical definition of marriage was the only one that was not arbitrary.
  • Marriage is designed by God to picture the relationship between Christ and the Church. (Ephesians 5:22-33)


Ways the World Gets Marriage Wrong - part 2

  • The world thinks marriage is just a contract, not a covenant.
  • Marriage is not just a human contract. If marriage was just a human contract we could adjust the terms however we wanted. Instead, marriage is something sacred. Real marriage is something that God does. Jesus said, "what therefore God has joined together" (Matt. 19:6). 
  • The world think marriage is primarily about the personal happiness and fulfillment of adults.
  • Marriage used to be understood as that which unites a man and a woman and any children that might result from that union. The new idea of marriage is merely a public recognition of a romantic relationship of two adults. 
  • The world forgets the purposes of marriage. 
  • The public purposes of marriage: (1) for children: Marriage keeps moms and dads together so that children grow up being cared for by their own mother and father in an intact, stable family. (2) for women: Marriage protects women from men who would sexually take advantage of them and abandon them without taking responsibility for their children. (3) for men: Marriage  civilizes men and forces them to act responsibly. These purposes are good for any society and are not specifically Christian.  
  • The biblical purposes of marriage: Biblical purposes of marriage include (1) the glory of God, (2) procreation, (3) the raising of children to love and serve the Lord, (4) God-pleasing intimacy--without the sin of fornication, (5) companionship between a man and a woman--cohabitation without scandal, (6) complementarity, (7) sanctification, (8) to picture the relationship between Christ and the Church.


Ways the World Gets Gender Wrong

  • Many in the world assert that gender is a spectrum rather than two distinct categories.
  • The Bible teaches that there are two distinct genders. (Genesis 1:27; Jesus' words in Matthew 19:4)
  • Biology teaches that there are two distinct genders. Gender differences are rooted in our chromosomes. The presence of a Y chromosome indicates that a person is male and the absence of a Y chromosome indicates that a person is female. This is objective and true even for those with developmental or genetic anomalies.      
  • Most of the world thinks one gender is better than the other.
  • The Bible teaches that both men and women are created in the image of God, equal in dignity and worth.
  • The world thinks there are no important differences between genders--and if there were that would be a bad thing. 
  • The Bible teaches that men and women and different, and are so by God's good design.
  • The world thinks we have autonomy over our gender.
  • As sinners we crave to be our own law-makers. Instead, the Bible teaches that God is sovereign, not human beings. Our genders are given to us by God and are a matter of fact, not feelings. It is good to be a man, and it is good to be a woman. Embrace the gender of the body that God gave you. 


June 2, 2015

Thoughts on Finishing My PhD

Or, “ You Think You're a Big Boy, That's So Cute”

Many people have congratulated me on recently finishing my PhD. I defended my dissertation in January and I walked in May. I really appreciate everyone’s kind words, and I will admit that it was a ridiculous amount of work.

However, there is something that happened in our family a few years ago that really helps me put that in perspective. When my son Luke was still the baby in the family, we told him that he needed to start learning to pull up his own pants “like a big boy.” It worked. This was perfect motivation because, like most little boys with an older brother, he wanted desperately to be a big boy.

We didn’t think much of it until weeks later when Luke came storming into the living room with his fists clenched in anger and his lip quivering. As he stood there crying and huffing, we asked him what in the world was wrong? He stomped, “Eric told me I’m not a big boy!”

This had us perplexed until we remembered that we had told Luke that he needed to pull up his pants like a big boy. He had latched onto that. And now, since he could indeed pull up his pants all by himself, obviously he was a certified big boy. In his mind, he had arrived!

I remember looking down at my son as he stood there arguing in tears that he was a big boy. I smiled and laughed to myself. There he was, knee high to me, barely out of diapers, and crying because someone told him he wasn’t a big boy—which, by the way, is not a very ‘big boy’ thing to do. I remember thinking to myself, Oh,  you can pull up your pants and you think that makes you a big boy… That’s so cute.”

That got me thinking about God up in heaven and some of the accomplishments that we have in life. And I knew that eventually I would finish the PhD program and get my doctorate. It is easy for things to go to your head sometimes. But I imagined God looking down on me one day and thinking, Oh,  you got your degree and now you think you’re a big boy… That’s so cute.”

(You can click here for a short video of me telling this story.)

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