Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

What should Christian parents tell their kids about Santa?

Super-mom Lindsay from Lindsay’s Logic shared this article from the Gospel-Centered Mom, which I thought was very interesting.

Gospel-Centered mom introduces the post like this:

I believed in Santa.

My husband believed in Santa.

We turned out okay. We didn’t walk away from the Lord or resent our parents. Before we had kids we figured we would do the whole Santa thing. We wanted Christmas to be as special for them as it was for us. But then we actually had kids and we had a big problem.

Santa wasn’t going to work.

First let me say I’m a huge proponent of fostering imagination in kids. My kids’ all time favorite activity is pretending. All day long I have pirates, super heroes, and exotic animals flying through my house. I love it.

I also want to point out that when I talk about Santa in this post I am specifically referring to believing in Santa, not whether or not he should be banished altogether. My husband wears a Santa hat while we bake cookies. My kids sing along to Christmas songs on the radio and they don’t skip over Santa’s name like a cuss word.

But we have decided not to tell our kids Santa is real. More specifically, we purposely tell them he is not.

If you’ve been reading this blog for long you know that the whole point is to direct us moms and our kids into living out the gospel. I tried and tried to fit Santa into that plan, but it didn’t work. It was like trying to stuff a giant man down a chimney…

She has four problems with the Santa myth:

  1. Santa promotes works righteousness.
  2. Santa blurs the lines between fact and fantasy.
  3. Santa is a type of god.
  4. It’s hard to compete with Santa.

There are some new ones I had not thought of in this list, because I don’t have the experience with a family or kids to come up with these on my own (which is why I read the experts).

This one is completely new to me (#4):

Who cares about a baby in a manger when there’s a huge man in a shiny red coat throwing presents and candy around like it’s going out of style? Kids spend the entire Christmas season looking for signs of Santa. They write him letters. They bake him cookies. And that’s just the kids. Playing make-believe takes a lot of work for us grown-ups. We are on the other end of it trying to hide the evidence and figure out how to field all of their questions. All the time and energy we put into keeping up the Santa myth could be spent focusing on Christ’s birth.

Some parents call the Santa myth a lie while others call it pretending. I’m going to call it a huge distraction. My five-year-old asks me questions about God all the time: What does it mean to be a spirit? If God doesn’t have a heart how can He love people? If there is only one God why do we call Jesus God? Whew! Talk about tough questions. If I told my son Santa was real I would get all the same kinds of questions. Hundreds of them. Do I really want to take the time to thoughtfully answer my son’s genuine curiosity with answers that aren’t even true? Do I want Santa to become the focal point of every conversation?

My number one reason not to do it is her #2. But she says it a different way than I do:

So precious are the moments when the kids climb onto our laps for a Bible story. We talk about Jesus and how He lived a perfect life and died for our sins. We talk about the mighty power of God who created the world, parted the Red Sea, and closed the mouths of lions. They listen intently.

And they believe me.

Sometimes my heart aches when I look into their wide eyes and innocent faces and think, “They trust me implicitly. I want so dearly to lead them in the truth.” If my husband and I throw Santa into the mix of “true” stories, what will they think later when they find out Santa is not real? How about Noah’s ark? How about the ten plagues? How about that Jesus guy who was kind of like a religious magician? We want the categories of true and fantasy to be clearly divided. Characters don’t get to jump back and forth from one category to the other.

This one resonates with me because I am very curious about why Christian-raised kids fall away when they get to university. I’ve talked to men and women who went from pristine Sunday-school teaching Christians to binge drinking, having sex, cohabitating with atheists and yes, having abortions. And they tell me the reasons why they do that.

Obviously, the first reason is that they are not raised to see what is wrong with other worldviews and cultural practices like drinking and sex. Parents typically take the Santa view of morality with those issues – don’t embarrass me or else no goodies for you. No evidence is presented beyond “because I don’t want you to embarrass me”. And when the kids get to university and the incentives change, it’s over.

But the other reason is just the overwhelming sense that kids gets when they get to university and look at what they hear from the professors and think “I was lied to”. They think that because Christian parents and pastors have not talked about apologetics or anything else interesting (biology, economics, etc) that is related to Christianity. The kids have a childish trust in God and it is mowed over by atheist professors and their “arguments” about how micro-evolution explains the origin of DNA and animal phyla, how the multiverse explains fine-tuning and how the eternal universe making a Creator unnecessary. It’s nonsense, but if all they heard as a kid is even sillier Santa Claus nonsense, then it works.

Treat your kids respectfully, and they’ll respect you and your beliefs.

Filed under: Commentary, ,

William Lane Craig: churches should focus on apologetics to attract more men

I saw that Triablogue quoted this passage from William Lane Craig’s April 2013 newsletter, which made me very excited and happy.

Here it is:

One overwhelming impression of these engagements is the way in which the intellectual defense of Christian faith attracts men. Both at Texas A&M and again at Miami every single student who got up to ask a question was a guy! I wondered if the girls are just shy. But then I remembered a lengthy clip Jan and I watched of cast members of Downton Abbey doing a Q&A with an audience in New York. Almost every person who came to the microphone at that event was a woman! It wasn’t until late into the evening that a man finally asked a question, which was remarked by all the cast members. Why the difference between that session and the ones I experienced?—simply because the Downton Abbey program is highly relational, which is more appealing to women, whereas my talks were principally intellectually oriented, which is more appealing to men.

Churches have difficulty attracting men, and the church is becoming increasingly feminized. I believe that apologetics is a key to attracting large numbers of men (as well as women) to church and to Christ. By presenting rational arguments and historical evidences for the truth of the Gospel, by appealing to the mind as well as the heart, we can bring a great influx of men into the Kingdom. I’m so pleased that the church in Canada seems to be awakening to this challenge! I’m convinced that we have the opportunity to revolutionize Western Christianity by reclaiming our intellectual heritage.

I could tell you many, many stories of what it was like for me being shut down by churches who were overly sensitive to the desires of women. In college, I and the other male students had every attempt to bring in scholars to lecture or debate shut down by female leadership. Every single week it was prayer walks, testimonies, hymn sings… over and over. Eventually, the more manly Christians just quit going. Later on, I witnessed apologetics being shut down in the church from the top down and from the bottom up, as well.

I remember one week an excited male friend invited me to his church because his male pastor was giving sermons using Hugh Ross and Gerald Shroeder books. He was trying to tie in the existence of God to cosmology. Well, I showed up the next Sunday to hear, and was disappointed. I could tell that the pastor wanted to go back to that subject, but he never really did. Later on, we found out that a female parishioner had complained that too much science and evidence had ruined her experience of feeling good and being comforted.

I could go on and on and on telling stories like this. To this day, I cannot stand being in a church unless that church has organized things like apologetic training classes, public lectures, public debates or public conferences. But that’s the minority of churches. The fact is that churches are attended far more by women than by men, and pastors are catering to women more than men. Not only will apologetics not be mentioned, but elements of feminism will creep into doctrine (egalitarianism) and all political issues will be avoided. Church has become a place to have good feelings, and it is far divorced from anything like evidence or politics which might be viewed as judgmental and divisive.

Commenters on Triablogue think that Dr. Craig will draw flak for his comment, but he’s not going to draw flak from mature Christians. What he said is correct. Mature Christians are right behind him on this point. Christian men who have tried to act to defend God’s reputation in public know that there is something wrong in the churches. And eventually, men just tune out of church because we know that there is nothing there for us. If women want men to come back to church, then they have to change the church away from what it is now.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

“Five ways you are destroying your husband and killing your marriage” goes viral

This article by Katelyn Carmen appeared on the Mormon web site “Family Share”. Katelyn’s husband must be the luckiest husband in the world, judging by this article. It’s up to EIGHT MILLION views, so a lot of people are reading it – hopefully a lot of wives, not just frustrated husbands.

Here is her intro:

When I got married, I was amazed at the instant, overwhelming sense of responsibility I felt to love and care for my husband. Suddenly, a huge part of someone else’s well-being and happiness was largely affected by my choices and actions.

Women, we need to be careful about how we are caring for our husbands and marriages. Don’t let the small stuff ruin the things that will bring you the greatest happiness in life.

Here are just a few ways you might be unknowingly destroying your husband and killing your marriage…

The list:

  1. Living outside of what you can afford
  2. Constant negativity
  3. Putting everything else first
  4. Withholding physical affection
  5. Not speaking his language

I’ll focus on the details of one that I think is important:

3. Putting everything else first

When your children, mom, best friends, talents, or career in front of your husband, you send a clear message to him that he is unimportant. Imagine having that message sent to you every day for many years. What would that do to your self esteem?

Put your husband first.

Although it sometimes seems counter-intuitive and counterproductive, I think you’d be amazed to find that it’s often the key to the greatest happiness in marriage. So many couples get divorced these days, because they neglect to care and love one another and put each other first.

If you choose to put each other first, you will find a lot of joy.

As a man, I have tested women for this, and wow… you get quite a range of responses. Some of them are amazing at sensing your needs, preparing themselves to take action and then taking action. On my Facebook page, there is an entire photo album dedicated to the flowers I have sent to this one woman who is particularly awesome at sensing the needs of men and delivering affection, approval and attention to them. Even just contractors who come to do work in her building get the royal treatment. And she is a director who manages dozens of other people. She is the most accomplished woman I know personally, and has graduate degrees, a gapless resume, and a fabulous career with TONS of money saved. And she is great at apologetics.

I really would recommend to young women that they try very hard to study something difficult in school that they don’t like. STEM degrees are the best choices, especially ones that pay. Whatever you do, DON’T STUDY ENGLISH. You don’t want the student loan debts for doing basically nothing, and it won’t build your character. Choose computer science, nursing, engineering, economics or business administration. Or go to trade school and learn a useful trade, like dental hygienist. Pick a career that requires you to wrestle with real responsibilities, obligations and the expectations of others. That will mature you and prepare you to do things you don’t feel like doing, so that you can handle the needs of children and your husband. Marriage is hard work.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , ,

Are women naturally good?

Disclaimer: This post doesn’t apply to married women.

There is a common theme among pastors and church leaders that the Bible only applies to men, and women are justified in disregarding it because anything they do that is wrong or that backfires can be blamed on men.

For example, here’s Mark Driscoll explaining how men are to blame for single motherhood:

Part of it is the unintended consequences of divorce. Forty percent of kids go to bed at night without a father. Not to be disparaging toward single moms, but if you’re a single mom and you’re working 60 hours a week, and you’ve got a boy, and he’s home all by himself with no parents and no dad, he’s just going to be hanging out with his buddies, feeding himself pizza rolls.

The number one consumer of online pornography is 12- to 17-year-old boys. What that means is he’s home eating junk food, drinking Monster energy drinks, downloading porn, masturbating and screwing around with his friends. That really doesn’t prepare you for responsible adulthood. That’s a really sad picture, especially if you’re a single gal hoping to get married someday. You’re like: “Seriously, that’s the candidate pool? You’ve got to be kidding me.” That’s why 41 percent of births right now are to unmarried women. A lot of women have decided: “I’m never going to find a guy who is actually dependable and responsible to have a life with. So I’ll just get a career and have a baby and just intentionally be a single mother because there are no guys worth spending life with.”

The Bible says that premarital sex is wrong, but Mark Driscoll knows better – he thinks that it is only wrong for men. If women do it, then it’s not wrong – it’s actually men’s fault. He has also told women who have premarital sex that men should be expected to marry them. This man-blaming for the mistakes that women freely make is not an anomaly, this is the standard practice of most pastors and Christian leaders – who are otherwise perfectly fine. And then these leaders are perplexed about why men don’t marry women who have learned that men are to blame for everything. Men don’t like to be around women who blame them for everything.

So, here is a post was written by a woman – Lindsay from Lindsay’s Logic.

First the picture she posted:

Focus on the Family says: blame the man

Focus on the Family: blame the man for what the woman does

Note that the Bible does not qualify the command in Ephesians 5 that women should submit to their husbands by making it conditional on anything that a man has to do. A man has separate duties, and those are not conditional on anything a woman has to do first. But Focus on the Family doesn’t quote the Bible – they change what the Bible says in order to appeal to their predominantly female audience (Note: I agree with Focus on the Family on 99% of their views). And this is why men don’t touch Christianity with a ten-foot pole these days. It’s not manly Christianity they don’t like – they’ve never encountered it. It’s the feminized Christianity they find in the church, which blames them for everything, that they reject.

Now, the full text of Lindsay’s post:

Focus on the Family recently posted this meme on their page.

At first glance, many people might be tempted to agree with it. But the statement in the poster is actually false.

The truth is that there are plenty of loving, gentle men who are worthy of respect but whose wives are not responding properly to their love and gentleness. Plenty of women have fallen for the feminist ideas that they should never submit or let a man lead them and will be difficult to live with, no matter how wonderful their man is. Even among women who are not feminists, it’s difficult for many women to follow a husband’s leadership because our sinful nature is in rebellion against God’s plan.

Submission and following our husbands is something that must be learned, not something we’re born with or develop naturally. Women aren’t naturally good and kind any more than men are. We’re all fallen. We have to work to develop good habits and learn to do what God wants of us.

It certainly is easier for women to follow a loving, gentle man, but the poster is wrong in assuming that the only barriers to a woman following her man are his flaws. That simply isn’t true. Women also have to overcome their own flaws that stand in the way of the proper relationship they were meant to have.

Unfortunately, this attitude that women are naturally good and that men are the flawed ones that need to change is very prevalent, even among Christians. Imagine the outrage people would have if the scenario was reversed and the poster said something like this:

“Men are usually comfortable being kind and loving to their wives if their wives are submissive, keep up their appearance, and respect them.”

People would be up in arms over such a statement that assumes that men are always wonderful if women will just behave as they should. Why is it any different if the assumption is that women are always wonderful if men are behaving properly? Both are wrong. Both sexes are responsible for their own actions, regardless of what the other person in the marriage does.

So about the post.

Perhaps the best way to test whether a women has corrected her natural tendency towards selfishness is the same way you’d test a man. Show her how doing a particular act is good, even though she may not want to do it. Then encourage her to do it. For example, encourage her to sacrifice her time to volunteer at the church when she’d rather be at home. If she always makes up excuses and never puts in any sacrifice, then that’s a bad sign.

Men are also not naturally good, but everyone knows that already. No blog post needs to be written on what everyone knows and accepts already. And I’ll go even further than that and say that a good man should take responsibility to help a woman to grow and be better for God’s purposes. But if he does everything he can to lead her and she still prefers self-centeredness, then he is not responsible for the outcome. This is important. We are responsible – practically-speaking – to help other people grow. But we are not responsible for whether they actually do grow. In fact, that goes for men and women. Both sexes should take responsibility for helping Christians grow – especially spouses. But do it right – it if works, then you’re doing it right. The goal here is to take responsibility and to do what works. Not to make excuses.

Note: Lindsay almost certainly does not go as far as I go on this issue. My opinions are my own.

UPDATE: Lee sent me this The Resurgence post to provide a balanced view of Mark Driscoll. Please check out my quote above in context and then check out her link, too. I like Mark Driscoll on almost every issue except this one issue.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , , , ,

What’s the best book a woman can read to prepare herself for marriage?

I found a great lecture by Sue Bohlin, who works at Probe Ministries. The lecture is about the book “The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands” by Dr. Laura Schlessinger. I recommend this book more highly than any other book to Christian women. It is simply the opposite to everything that they will hear in this culture, and offers practical solutions to undo a lot of the damage caused by feminism.

The MP3 file is here. (48 minutes)

I did not do a summary for this one, but there is a blog post that Sue wrote that captures most of the same material.

Here’s the introduction:

Talk show host Dr. Laura Schlessinger has written a book that is improving thousands of marriages: The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands. We need this book because millions of wives either don’t know how to love their husbands wisely and well, or they’re too self-centered to see it as important. Dr. Laura credits this dismal condition to forty years of feminist philosophy, “with its condemnation of just about everything male as evil, stupid, and oppressive, and the denigration of female and male roles in families.” While the women’s movement certainly had a hand to play in the disintegration of relationships and the family, I believe the core cause is our sinful self-centeredness, just as the Bible says.

Which is why we need help, and God instructs older women to train younger women to love their husband and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands is a great resource for learning these important values and skills.

And here’s the first part I thought was most important:

A listener to Dr. Laura’s radio show named Edgar wrote, “There are a few things that men want so bad they would do anything for it. I think a good number of men want respect more than love. They like to feel they have some power. I nearly cry when you tell a woman caller to respect her husband. There is so much selfishness in the world—in marriages. Prosperity has allowed women to be so independent, and thus so selfish. I always feel as though I come last—my feelings come last, my needs come last.”

“A good number of men want respect more than love.” God knew this when He made us. His commands to husbands and wives in Ephesians 5:33 reflects each one’s deepest needs: “Each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” Dr. Emerson Eggerichs of LoveandRespect.com points out that this verse commands a husband to love his wife. Why? She needs love like she needs air to breathe. This same verse commands a wife to respect her husband. Why? He needs respect like he needs air to breathe.

  • Respect means treating someone in a way that builds him up and doesn’t tear him down, never denigrating or attacking.
  • Respect means always treating the other person with the dignity they deserve as a person made in the image of God.
  • Respect means grasping that a man’s needs and wants are every bit as valid and important as a woman’s needs and wants.
  • Respect means not venting to others, especially the children. One woman wrote to Dr. Laura, “No emotional outlet is worth damaging my husband’s reputation.”

There are three A’s that men long for from their wives: attention, affection, and affirmation. Respect involves paying attention to what they do simply because they’re the ones doing it.

And this part also seemed important to me:

A man named Roy wrote to Dr. Laura with some good advice for wives: “If you can’t accentuate the positive, at least acknowledge it. The world is full of messages to men that there are standards we don’t meet. There is always another man who is more handsome, more virile, or more athletic than we are. None of that matters if the most important person in our life looks up to us, accepts us as we are, and loves us even though we aren’t perfect. . . . All I know is that the husband who has a wife who supports him and praises him for the positive things he does is the envy of all the other men who have to live with criticism, sarcasm, and constant reminders of their failures.”

Men desperately want and need the support of their wives. This is reflected in what God reveals in His Word when He says, “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.” And through the apostle Paul, God instructs wives to relate to their husbands in a way that meets this need when He says, “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.”

Submission is basically giving support with a willing, cooperative heart.

A wife’s submission includes knowing her gifts and strengths, and using them to serve her husband and family.

Service has a bad name, but both husbands and wives are called to serve God first and then each other; husbands are called to sacrificially love and serve their wives with Jesus as their pattern.

So what does support look like?

  • Believing in him. Telling him, “You have what it takes.” Being his #1 fan.
  • Cultivating a cooperative heart.
  • Being generous and openhearted—willing to use your gifts and strengths to help him succeed.
  • Understanding the importance of making him look good: never saying anything negative in public.
  • Creating a home that’s a safe haven from the world.
  • Having a warm heart with a positive, cheerful demeanor. Women set the temperature of the home; we are thermostats, not thermometers, of the family. (On the other hand, Proverbs says “A quarrelsome wife is like a constant dripping on a rainy day; restraining her is like restraining the wind or grasping oil with the hand.”)
  • Being interested in him and his life.
  • Showing thoughtfulness. What does he like? Do it.
  • And though by no means exhaustive, it also means being a person of faithfulness and integrity. That means keeping your promises and being dependable. As Proverbs 31 puts it, “Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.”

I just want to note that this book is strongly opposed by young feminist women. A wise young, unmarried woman should be guided by older Christian women who are not only successful in their marriages, but also made a difference as Christians. Read Titus 2:3-4 and see for yourself! There is a tendency I’ve noticed in young women to rebel against good advice and resent expectations, obligations and responsibilities – but listening to peers and the culture doesn’t produce good results.

The one piece of advice I would give young men is to always make sure that you get a woman used to having responsibilities and obligations during the courtship. Marriage is not fun, it’s work. It’s hard work. You don’t want to be married to a woman who thinks that marriage is supposed to be bliss, and that it’s your job to make it bliss for her. She should know that there is work to do in a marriage, and that husbands and children have needs. I actually had a woman stop me when I was telling her about the hard work and challenges of marriage and say “this isn’t the way that you present marriage to a girl if you want her to want to marry you, it has to be more fun”. One fatherless woman I spoke with seemed disgusted by the idea that men had needs and feelings – I think she was expecting a husband to be more like a father, and so she resented having any obligations to care for a man’s needs or listen to his feelings. There’s nothing wrong with either of these women that rules out marriage, but these are perceptions that need to be worked through with books like The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands, The Five Love Languages, Love and Respect, The Meaning of Marriage, etc.

One last point – I actually bought the audio version of the Dr. Laura book and noticed that it was just over two hours long. It turns out that the audio version is abridged – it is not as complete as the actual book. I noticed that Sue was quoting from the book passages that I had not heard in the audio recording. So, now I have to go and read the book.

Filed under: Commentary, , , , , , , , , , , ,

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