Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

The trouble with avoiding controversial topics

Lindsay blogs about it on her Lindsay’s logic blog.

Intro:

According to these definitions, a controversial topic is simply one on which many people disagree. In some cases, this may be due to the topic being merely opinion. If you are asking which ice cream flavor is the best or which sports car is the best or which season of the year is the best, these are all matters of opinion and there is no right answer. There is no absolute truth in these cases because the inherent question is about what people prefer. Different people prefer different things.

But in spite of the fact that there is a lot of disagreement on the best ice cream flavor (vanilla, in case anyone was wondering), we don’t usually try to shut people up when they express an opinion, even if it differs from ours. And we usually don’t call these opinions “controversial.” In fact, I have never heard anyone refer to ice cream flavors as a controversial issue. (What a conversation that would be. “I like vanilla best.” “Oh, don’t talk about ice cream flavors because they’re so controversial.”)

When people talk about something being “controversial” they usually do it when it’s not just a matter of opinion, but they want to believe it is. They want to use the disagreement out there to avoid taking a side on an important topic.

Sometimes they don’t want to take a side because it’s unpopular. If they take a side, the people on the other side might not like them.

Sometimes they don’t want to have to put the effort into studying the issue. Laziness makes them avoid finding out which position is the correct one.

Sometimes they don’t like the implications involved in taking a position. What if believing one way or the other means they have to change something about their life? Perhaps give up something they enjoy or do something they don’t like?

Sometimes they have the mistaken idea that a “controversial” topic doesn’t have a correct answer and thus neither side should be dogmatic.

Some see taking a side on something that evokes a lot of disagreement as somehow “divisive” or “polarizing” and therefore bad.

Whatever the reason, these people want to stay “neutral” and not take a side. And, often, they don’t want to hear anyone else’s position on the matter either.

And this is where I want to turn this topic to parenting. I have met people who fell away from their faith after being raised in a Christian home, and this is what I’ve noticed about them. The parents are usually uncomfortable with listening to the other side of “controversial” issues. Does God exist? Too controversial. Is there unjustified evil and suffering? Too controversial. Should abortion be legal? Too controversial. Are non-Christian religions false? Too controversial. Is premarital sex morally permissible? Too controversial. Nothing can be discussed, because we all have to feel happy – and be seen by the neighbors to BE happy. So shut it and keep smiling.

It reminds me of this post from Beyond Teachable Moments, where the author was interviewing a woman who lost her faith in college before returning to the faith.

Read this:

 Throughout the phases of my childhood, expose me to different types of social situations with people from all walks of life. I think having experience talking with a wide range of people with differing worldviews is so important. In other words, get me outside the safe Christian “bubble”, but do so with the support of parents and with an open discussion of why people think/believe differently and why we believe what we believe. Do not just tell me “believe this because I told you it is true or because I said so.”

Learn what is going on in popular culture within my peer group. What are kids my age thinking, watching, and listening to? Be involved; don’t view every outside influence as a threat, but help and encourage me to analyze situations and make decisions accordingly. Don’t try to shelter me from everything. I need to develop confidence and a foundation in the little things if you expect me to be able to take on the big things at university.

Don’t use me to make you look good in front of other people at church, I can see straight through that. It does not feel good and drives me far away. What matters is what is going on inside, not what is projected. Looking perfect and going through the motions does nothing. The very basis for Christianity is what is going on in the heart. Only by letting Jesus work in your heart can actions follow with true authenticity.

If every topic is off limit in the home, then the child will very likely drop Christianity like a hot potato when she hits college. You do not teach a child how to debate controversial topics by shushing them in order to maintain your happiness – or to keep up appearances. It’s even worse when the shushing is done with screaming and arguments. Controversial topics must be discussed openly and respectfully. Work has to be done by parents to study these issues. Debates (like WLC debates) must be watched by the whole family. Both sides of issues must be represented properly. But how many times does this happen in Christian homes? And how many times does this happen in the Christian church? You can attend an evangelical church for from birth to death in America and never hear one iota of useful information related to controversial topics. The parents don’t know, the pastors don’t know, and that’s the way they like it.

Many Christian parents are happy for their kids to “be nice” and “look good” while they are home even if they go wild in college. It’s so “unexpected” they will say later. They did such a good job – took them to church every week, and they got their Bible memorization and praise hymn singing badges. Somehow, we have convinced ourselves that not knowing anything and not teaching anything about controversial issues is a great parenting technique. Parents and pastors are sure that it’s more “pious” to just believe things without evidence, and not discuss and debate alternate points of view. And easier, too – leaves more time to for “devotional” activities, which don’t require study. The more we spiritualize Christianity instead of debating it, the more likely our children will turn on God.

The most alarming thing is when I tell Christian parents and Christian pastors this, and they start to make excuses about how faith is beyond reason and evidence. How do you stop a problem like this when the parents and the pastors are more focused on looking good and feeling good than they are on knowing whether what they believe is true? You can’t. We have to recognize that this pious refusal to get down and dirty with the truth claims of Christianity is motivated by laziness. It’s not praiseworthy at all to chase Christianity into some mystical realm beyond the reach of logic and evidence. Yet this is the dominant view in Christian homes and churches.

Filed under: Polemics, , , , , , , , ,

William Lane Craig on the feminization of Christianity

Look, here is a question on the Reasonable Faith web site from a feminist from Canada who objects to the idea of sex differences:

Dear Dr. Craig,

I have usually found your words to be a source of information and reassurance in my Christian faith, and have often sought out your writings and videos in times of doubt or questioning.

So I was really disappointed, almost shocked, when I read your newsletter of April of this year in which you casually stereotypes men and women, and complain that the church is becoming increasingly feminized, and has difficulties in attracting men.

Your compared the audiences at a couple of your speaking engagements to the audience from a clip of a Downton Abbey Q&A at another location – concluding that they were all men at the former and almost all women at the latter “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.”

I believe that you are using stereotypes here, which you justify by making a ridiculous comparison that holds zero statistical significance. Not only is your statement unreasonable, it is potentially damaging – especially when made so carelessly. Stereotypes are shortcuts in classifying people. They can, and often do, limit and distort the way we perceive others and the world. Stereotypes are a lazy way of thinking that can lead to discrimination, and their use should not be encouraged.

I’m also a little disturbed by your claim regarding the feminisation of the church. What do you mean by that, and how do you support that statement?

I’m curious because the church has historically been a largely male-dominated institution (sometimes criminally so), and the bible’s instructions to and about women are often difficult to swallow. If anything, the church has had difficulty in attracting women. And if we are truly seeing more women in leadership roles at the church (I have to assume this is what you meant by feminizing), I believe this is not something to fear and resist. It would be a welcome change, and has every opportunity to challenge how we think about each other – allowing us to love each other better and see each other more clearly.

This newsletter called your expertise in some areas into question for me. Could you help to rebuild some of the faith I’ve lost in your words? I would very much appreciate it.

Sincerely,

Alexandra (Canada)

Canadians are sooooo liberal, especially on social issues like feminism, abortion and marriage. I’m sure this woman has been influenced by feminist ideology so much that she just can’t deal with the fact that men are women are very different.

Anyway, here’s a snip of Dr. Craig’s response:

Third is my claim that the church is becoming increasingly feminized. What I mean by this is that church services and programs are increasingly based on emotional and relational factors that appeal more to women than to men. The problem of the church’s lack of appeal to men has been recognized by men’s movements like Promise Keepers and books like John Eldredge’s Wild at Heart. Nowhere is this feminization more evident than in contemporary worship music. Someone aptly remarked that if you were to replace references to God in many praise songs with “Baby,” they would sound just like romantic songs between a man and a woman! This is not true of classic hymns like “A Mighty Fortress” or “And Can It be?” Talking with young men, I find that many of them are just turned off by these touchy-feely worship services and would rather not go.

We see this same feminization though relational factors in network coverage of sports, traditionally a male bastion. Coverage of Olympic Games has deliberately targeted women in order to increase viewership by the addition of personal stories about athletes’ lives, rather than simply televising the events themselves. In professional sports have you noticed how in recent years television networks have engaged female reporters to go down on the field and interview baseball or football players, usually about how they felt about this or that? Jan and I had to laugh when, following the Broncos’ recent blowout of the Ravens, the female reporter asked Peyton Manning, “Didn’t you feel bad for the other team when you looked up at the scoreboard?” Uh, I don’t think so!

You’re right that the predominance of women in Christianity is a relatively new phenomenon. It is only over the last 200 years that Christianity has become increasingly female in its demographics. I’m very worried that the church is on a course that will end in relatively few men’s being active Christians.

Fourth is my claim that apologetics is a key to making the church and Christian faith relevant to men once more. People think that by having sports programs or men’s barbecues the church will draw in more men. But I’m convinced that the best kept secret to drawing in men is apologetics. Men need to see that Jesus of Nazareth was not only a tough guy but a smart guy. I never suspected that apologetics would have this special effect on men. I had no intention of ministering particularly to men in this ministry. But the appeal of apologetics to men is just undeniable. In my Defenders class we’ve got guys who don’t even attend church but who regularly come for my lectures on Christian doctrine and apologetics. One woman in the class told me, “I don’t understand a lot of what you say. But I’m glad to come because this is the only spiritual activity that my husband will participate in with me.” Wow!

Wow, indeed. Apologetics gets men to engage more in Christianity, and the church should leverage that to bring men in. That’s a fact. So, I’m glad Dr Craig didn’t give an inch to this fact-averse feminist from Canada.

My own post critical of the feminized church can be read here. Keep in mind that this is from two months after I started blogging – very raw stuff.

Related posts

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, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Gallup polls show that men are more pro-life and more pro-marriage than women

Note: in this post, I will be addressing the views of young, unmarried women, who tend to be more liberal than married women. Married women are not being targeted in this post, because their views tend to be more pro-life and pro-marriage.

First, abortion. The latest Gallup poll shows that men are far more pro-life than women. Men are strongly pro-life by a margin of 8 points, 50-42. Women are more pro-abortion by a margin of 1 point, 47-46.

Second, marriage. Polls show that men are far more pro-marriage than women.

Excerpt:

A new national poll points towards a gender gap over same-sex marriage.

According to new numbers released Monday morning from Gallup, 50% of Americans say same-sex marriages should be legal. But break it down by gender, and 56% of women say same-sex couples should be legally allowed to marry, but only 42% of men feel the same way.

In addition, exit polls from the 2008 and 2012 elections revealed that about 70-80 percent of young, unmarried women voted for Obama, whose views on abortion are somewhere to the left of Kermit Gosnell. And Obama supports gay marriage. Men are more likely to vote conservative than young, unmarried women, especially married men.

Now some of you may find this data about men being good very surprising. According to many people these days, all young men do is look at porn, order in pizza and leave the boxes scattered around, play video games, binge drink, live in their parents’ basement, underperform at school, and fail to find jobs so they can man up and marry these pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage women. None of this bad performance is caused by institutionalized feminism, or the effects of feminism on the family. It’s all just bad, bad men being bad – so were are told. But somehow, despite reports that all men are losers, they seem to have better views on abortion and marriage than women.

What does it mean?

Think about what it means that a young, unmarried woman is pro-abortion.

Being pro-abortion means that a men and women should be allowed to have recreational sex before marriage, and then if a baby is conceived, then they should be able to terminate that unwanted pregnancy, and send taxpayers the bill. Pro-life doctors and nurses who don’t want to perform the procedure must be forced to do it, lest the selfish grown-ups feel offended. Pro-life organizations who don’t want to offer abortion-inducing drugs as part of their medical insurance must be forced to provide it, lest the selfish grown-ups feel offended. Pro-life taxpayers who don’t want to pay for the recreational sex risks of others must be forced to pay for them, lest the selfish grown-ups feel offended.

Now suppose a man is considering marriage to a young, unmarried woman. It’s likely that she supports abortion, given what polls show and what exit polls show. Now if a woman thinks that it is OK to kill an innocent unborn child in order to avoid being burdened with that child’s needs, even though she consented to the recreational sex that produced that child, then should the man marry her? I think that a man should not marry such a woman. After all, if a woman is willing to kill a baby in order to protect her happiness, then she will certainly divorce her husband to do the same. Husbands are much less innocent than babies.

Now think about what it means that a young, unmarried woman is pro-gay marriage.

Being pro-gay marriage means that two men and two women should be able to adopt children away from one or both of their biological parents and raise them. Churches who don’t want to perform the wedding ceremonies must be forced to perform the wedding ceremonies, lest the selfish grown-ups feel offended. Christian companies that don’t want to treat gay couples as married must be forced to treat gay couples as married, lest the selfish grown-ups feel offended. Christian taxpayers who don’t want to pay for the next generation of children to be indoctrinated to believe that marriage can be between two men or two women must be forced to pay for government to indoctrinate children to believe in redefined marriage, lest the selfish grown-ups feel offended.

Now suppose a man is considering marriage to a young, unmarried woman. It’s likely that she supports gay marriage, given what the polls show and what exit polls show. Now if a woman thinks that it’s OK to deprive a child of a mother or of a father and expose children to a notion of marriage that deprives them of stability, sexual faithfulness and permanence, then should the man marry her? I think that a man should not marry such a woman. After all, if a woman is willing to deprive a child of a mother or a father and of the interaction between a man and a woman cooperating in marriage, then she will certainly be willing to deprive any children she has with him of his presence, since she already believes that fathers are expendable and that the selfishness of adults trumps the needs of children.

The way forward

What can we do to fix young, unmarried women so that they are more pro-life and more pro-marriage, like men already are? Well, men are pro-life and pro-marriage because we read pro-life and pro-marriage books and because we watch debates on abortion and marriage. Men like to focus on things like logical arguments and scientific research. Men like to see pictures of the different development stages of unborn babies and read research papers about how same-sex marriage harms children and how welfare policies encourage women to have babies out of wedlock. Men are not inclined to decide moral views based on feelings, peer opinions and popular culture. In order to make young, unmarried women more pro-life and more pro-marriage, we should try to introduce them to more books and debates and scientific evidence, so that their views will change based on what is true, not based on feelings and peer pressure and cultural trends.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

UK Supreme Court rules against Christian B&B couple’s conscience rights

Dina sent me this article from the UK Telegraph about a recent Supreme Court decision from the UK.

Excerpt:

The devoutly Christian owners of a Cornish hotel who refused to allow two gay men to take a double room have lost their final appeal to the Supreme Court. It ruled that Peter and Hazelmary Bull had discriminated against the couple, even though they had long operated a rule that unmarried guests had to sleep apart. One of the judges, Lady Hale, said such a case would have been unthinkable less than two decades ago, and it is a measure of how both the law and societal norms have changed that the Bulls should have found themselves in such a predicament.

It is also a pity this matter was not settled amicably when the Bulls made an offer of redress; but campaigners were intent on making an example of them. The aggrieved men, Martyn Hall and Steven Preddy, who were in a civil partnership, were supported by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC). The Bulls were perplexed as to why the EHRC should act against them, since their right to exercise their religious beliefs was being set against that of the men not to be discriminated against on the grounds of their sexual orientation.

Dina also sent me this article from the pro-gay Spiked Online.

Excerpt:

[A]s the systematic unequal treatment of gays has ended, so another problem has grown. One pernicious social force has been replaced by another: the willingness of the state to outlaw minority or eccentric views and behaviours. State-backed oppression has yielded to state-backed intolerance.

The Bulls have been hauled before the courts and told they can no longer practise what they preach. To deny a couple the right to make a living in a manner consistent with their Christian values is draconian. The Bulls’ fate is similar to that of Lillian Ladele, an Islington marriage registrar, and Gary McFarlane, a Relate counsellor, who were both sacked after declining to provide their professional services to lesbians and gays. Equality laws did for them all.

The problem here is not, as it appears, merely a slap in the face to Christians. It is a slap in the face to the right of all individuals to act free of state control absent a compelling reason for intervention. As John Stuart Mill put it in On Liberty (1859): ‘The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others.’

As if to satisfy Mill’s harm principle, the Supreme Court went in search of Preddy and Hall’s ‘harm’. What they found was that when the Bulls’ house rules were explained to Preddy and Hall, they found it ‘upsetting’ and ‘very hurtful’. Even in the touchy-feely twenty-first century, where self-esteem is seen as so important and so fragile, this is pretty lame.

The Supreme Court judge, Lady Hale, may have been aware that this ‘affront to their dignity’, as she put it, was not the sort of harm, in the Mill sense, that should justify the state’s coercive power. She bolstered her argument by linking Preddy and Hall’s hurt feelings to a bigger historical picture. ‘We should not underestimate’, she said, ‘the continuing legacy of those centuries of discrimination, persecution even, which is still going on in many parts of the world’.

Fascism happens when the normal desire for compassion is taken out of the family context and becomes the policy of a powerful feminist welfare state. And that’s when it becomes a threat to the right of individuals to make moral judgments and to exercise religious liberty.

The EHRC, you’ll remember, was a project of the Labour Party of the UK, which is the socialist party in the UK. There is also a communist party called the Liberal Democrats. The striking thing is that many church-attending Christians not only vote for the Labour Party, but they also vote for the Liberal Democrats, which are even more liberal. A lot of this is because British Christians are so far to the left on economic issues that they sort of go along with the assault on their own religious liberty out of ignorance. They vote for bigger and bigger government, and then they are surprised when they actually get it.

The same thing happened in Canada with the Liberal Party and their introduction of Human Rights Commissions and Human Rights Tribunals, which criminalize offending people with free speech. The very Christians that voted for expanding government to reduce poverty were the ones who were then persecuted by the same big government they voted to create. This goes to show why we need to have better economics knowledge among Christians, because many of us are voting for left-wing parties because we think that private, voluntary charity can be replaced with government-controlled redistribution of wealth. Not only does that not work to reduce poverty, but in the end, we lose our liberties, too.

In the UK, you’ll find a lot of Christians who think that rent control is a good thing, that price controls are a good thing, that raising minimum wage is a good thing, that tariffs on imported goods are a good thing – positions which are generally viewed as incorrect by academic economists across the ideological spectrum. That’s why churches need to teach the Christian worldview, including economics. The UK church should be training Christians to undo this ignorant, patriotic confidence that UK Christians have in their welfare state. We all have a lot of work to do to educate ourselves on how the Bible applies to the real world (e.g. – economics), or else we will end up undermining our own liberties.

Additionally, I find it very frustrating that so many churches are so focused on providing emotional comfort and a sense of community to the people in the pews that they neglect to talk about these religious liberty issues. Pastors don’t want to alert ordinary Christians about how dangerous it’s becoming to take unpopular stands on issues like gay rights in public – it’s scary and divisive and drives people away from church. You’re not going to hear them trying to apply the Bible to moral issues or economic issues, etc. from the pulpit, because that spoils the “experience” and “the show” – the comfort and entertainment that people expect from church. We need to do better at helping Christians to be aware of threats to our liberties. They need to be trained to connect their faith to specific laws and policies in the real world.

Filed under: News, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Wintery Tweets

Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.

RSS Evolution News

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.
Click to see recent visitors

  Visitors Online Now

Page views since 1/30/09

  • 4,325,736 hits

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2,039 other followers

Archives

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,039 other followers

%d bloggers like this: