Repost From NP | Barbara Kay

Barbara Kay: If this is war, the millennials don’t have a chance

  May 30, 2012 – 6:30 AM ET | Last Updated: May 30, 2012 10:34 AM ET

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

An Occupy protester pours lighter fluid on a garbage can fire during a May Day demonstration in Oakland, Calif. And these guys wonder why they can’t find jobs.

We were dining at a good bistro. The waiter — early 20s — accidentally knocked a glass of water onto my lap. Suppressing annoyance, I was summoning a gracious smile to acknowledge his forthcoming apology when instead he chirped, “It’s okay, stuff happens.” Stung, I responded, “You’re unclear on the concept. You’re supposed to say ‘I’m sorry,’ and I’m supposed to say ‘It’s okay, stuff happens.’ ”

Our narrowed eyes locked: the Senior and the Millennial (a.k.a Gen Y or Echo Boomers). I was thinking: Your teflon complacency comes from a lifetime of helicopter parents and teachers ensuring you were failure-proofed to protect your precious self-esteem. He was probably thinking: Why aren’t you dead yet so I can get a decent job and afford the meal I’m serving you.

He would have a point.

We’re witnessing an unprecedented generational social tussle. In 1950, people my age were doddering retirees. Today, we’re healthier longer, enjoying still-productive lives. By clinging to our jobs, or starting new ones, we’re blocking the natural economic pipeline. Yet we’re also hanging on to our untenably expensive government benefits, because politicians genuflect before our massive voting numbers, not to mention our tendency to vote in higher proportions than the already far less numerous 18-34s.

But I have a point too. Cossetted, self-satisfied millennials lack humility and competitive drive. They think real life will echo their easy ride through high school and the artificially inflated grades they got for their dumbed-down university courses. An October 2011 National Report Card on Youth Financial Literacy polled 3,000 recent high school grads on their expectations. More than 70% erroneously assumed they’d own their own home in 10 years. The average respondent over-estimated his future earnings by 300%.

In his new book, Beyond Age Rage: How the boomers and seniors are solving the war of the generations, marketing maven and ZoomerMedia vice-president David Cravit deconstructs our unique demographic moment, as the culturally dominant boomers continue to re-order the world millennials are inheriting.

If this were a real war, millennials wouldn’t have a prayer. Oldies’ greatest fear — realistically — is outliving their money, because many boomers didn’t save for their retirement as previous generations did. They won’t cede their entitlements willingly. Almost a third have no savings, almost a quarter are $50,000 in debt upon retirement. Some are supporting aged parents. Many have to work, many more who are financially secure just want to work, and most are surprisingly adaptive. The number of self-employed Canadian 55-plus “BoomerPreneurs” doubled between 1990-2008.

Millennials — unrealistic, under-adaptive, often debt-burdened and, unlike the Boomers in 1967 (when the median age was 27, not 42, as today), are coming of age in hard economic times. They’re mad as hell, venting on websites. “Why won’t the Baby Boomers step aside?” rants one. Response: “Because many of us are too busy supporting our college graduate kids who won’t shop at Walmart … and BTW, you are NOT getting my job, Crybaby.”

Cravit’s evenhanded analysis is evidence-based, but one occasionally senses his irritation with millennials’ immaturity. In one chapter, for example, he compares the goals-focused sobriety of the Tea Party movement (70% boomers and seniors) with the feelings-drenched, violence-prone Occupy movement (70% under 39).

To illustrate his point — and to hilarious effect — Cravit contrasts the Tea Party website, a model of on-message clarity detailing principles and practical strategies, with the inchoate, juvenile Toronto Occupy website: “[We are] fed up with the current political and economic systems in this nation and all over the world. … We have not yet put out a unified message but be sure it will come.”

Cravit attributes the Tea Party’s success to boomer perseverance and a strong work ethic. He attributes Occupy’s failure to their education, which “put[s] a premium on rewards detached from results.” He recognizes that because of boomer guilt amongst cultural elites, “the meme of boomer selfishness and greed will likely overcome the meme of millennial immaturity and dysfunction” in the media. Indeed, we’ve witnessed exactly this joust played out in these pages over Quebec’s endless street protests. But Cravit also predicts that boomers will win in the marketplace.

The book concludes optimistically. It’s an unusual war where the victors refuse to let the losers lose, offering generous shelter, sustenance and mentorship to the vanquished. But that’s what is happening. Cravit’s elaboration on the boomers’ “Marshall plan” for their vulnerable progeny shows that it isn’t the nanny state, but spontaneous kinship altruism — plus, hopefully, a practical revamp of a superannuated university system — that will ensure that Canada’s presently unlucky millennials land on their feet.

National Post

The War on Infant Girls

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=U2H3ZDnBtuw]

Now we’re just like China! This video is from the US perspective, so what is happening here is that Planned Parenthood is encouraging the young woman to use Medicaid, not to deliver a healthy baby, but to learn the gender of the child so that it can be aborted if it is a girl.

In Canada, one doesn’t have to be so sneaky–we’re all on “Medicaid,” and so every taxpayer funds abortions as a matter of policy.

More at LiveAction.org

Teens & Retirement: Two 20th Century Phenomena We Didn’t Get Right.

Teens & Retirement: two 20th century phenomena we didn’t get right.

The late 19th and early 20th centuries saw unprecedented economic growth and the improvement of life for many in the Western world. Out of this came two phenomena, teenagers and retirees. Although on opposite ends of life, they are intricately connected.

As life became more industrialised, education and work moved from the home to the factory and school. Child labour was reduced and education was encouraged, so that rather than girls starting motherhood in their teen years, and boys apprenticing during that time, teen years began to be a time of education and preparation. In the late 20th and early 21st centuries this time has increased to nearly 30, as education and career development set marriage and family aside. Sexual relations, however, for very many, begin in the teen years and continue with multiple partners until some sort of monogamous relationship is established. This is proved disastrous to the moral, emotional, spiritual, and economic health of children born to families only of “half” siblings, as many mothers bear children to different father s on each occasion. Teen bodies are ready for childbearing, but society has changed to the point that teen marriage and childbearing is scandalous and unsustainable. Given the educational requirements for even the simplest employment, teen marriage and childbearing is a sure ticket to permanent welfare.

At the other end of the age spectrum is retirement. Modern social security began in the United States during the Great Depression, and it was seen as a way to make way for younger, healthier workers and to free up families from the need to care for elders. Of course it was assumed that one wouldn’t live much past the 65 year retirement age. No one could see at that time the amazing improvement in health care from birth to old age, decreasing infant mortality and extending life well into the eighties as a matter of routine. The same scenario has been repeated in most Western countries, some predating the US model, some preceding it.

So education, work, and care of elders has been outsourced from the family to schools, factories, and nursing homes, paid for by social programs.

What this has meant practically is that families are smaller because they can be. Declining birthrates in Western nations attest to this. Mark Steyn has argued that of the developed European countries, Canada, US, Austrailia, Russia and Japan, only the US replicates itself by birthrate, and that only barely. The rest are dependent upon immigration. Large families, once seen as a guarantee against high infant mortality and as a means to support elders who cannot work, are now seen as unsustainable. This is largely because along with the outsourcing of education, work, and old-age care has come a massive transfer of wealth from the family to the state for education, daycare (for the majority who do work outside the home), and social programs for the aged. Add to this the expanding definition of disability, and it becomes easy to see why the family does not have the resources to have many children or to care for elders.

I wonder what the Christians thought of all this as it was developing? When work was removed from the home, and education was handed over to others, were there voices of dissent? I know that J. Gresham Machen objected to public education in his Christianity and Liberalism in the 1920’s. But as far as I know, only the Amish and Mennonite Christians resisted these trends on a practical level.

1 Timothy 5:8 strongly suggests that care of the aged is not to be left for others, either:

“But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

I think it is time for Christians to mount a Biblical response to teenagers and retirees. It is hard to resist culture, especially when it seems to improve life. But with each economic downturn, it may show that the improvements that allegedly come from our prosperity were often simply a case of borrowing against the future, and that future has arrived.

Is it possible to remove the temptation to sexual promiscuity by encouraging our teens to marry earlier, rather than putting it off? Is it not possible for Christian families to work together to help the breadwinner to accomplish the education and training necessary for gainful employment while being a father, rather than putting off fatherhood with the help of birth control and abortion? Is it not possible for younger women to be married mothers without scandal? Has the church become so infected by the world’s standards that it shames a young couple who want to marry and start a family in their late teens?

Now I know that our world is more technologically complex, and a high school diploma makes one ready for college or university, but as far as jobs go, much more training is needed. That is a reality, but is delaying marriage (and failing at celibacy) the only way to live with this?

As far as caring for the aged, the Christian church’s response may be much  more urgent. We are witnessing the end of retirement as it has been presented. Most people reading this have lived under the assumption that at age 65 (soon to be 67 in Canada), one can quit working and relax for the next 20 years. Is there a Biblical precedent for this? Is this what God intended for humanity, much less for His church? It sounds attractive, but so does all temptation. It also disappoints, as does all sin.

Again, we see that our resources are taxed to provide for retirement, but there aren’t enough taxes (nor can there be) paid to really afford it. Hence the case for large families, especially among believers. Those who are young parents now would do well to consider how many children it will take to support them when they cannot work. There will, for a while, be money flowing from governments to support the elderly, but this will be curtailed in some often cruel ways. Is it not better to plan now for the inevitable collapse of the social safety net?

In the past 100 years, as in no other time in human history, childbearing is delayed and lifespan extended. I believe we have failed to successfully plan for and manage our retirements, and to counteract the only apparent  need to delay the creation of Christian families.

Both the teenager and retiree can vanish if they are products of a false and bankrupt economy.

©2012 Scott Jacobsen

A Memorial Day Reminder

This Monday is Memorial Day in the US. It is a day where soldiers who have died in service to their country are honoured. Those veterans who are still living, or who have died since serving, are also honoured.

The Sunday before Memorial Day  is tomorrow. While I know the urge is there to make much of those who served, especially those who died doing so, I wish to remind my brethren who preach the Gospel that Sunday is the Lord’s day, a day for honouring Him. There are many pressures to remove the Gospel from our presence, and even good things, like remembering the valiant, is no replacement for the greatest Honour due the Lord. In Canada, on Remembrance Day (November 11th), the same tendency is present.

Whatever sermons you may preach tomorrow, ask yourself: 1) is it Gospel, or is it patriotism? 2) is God honoured, or man? Honouring human achievement, dedication, commitment and sacrifice can have a valid place, but never in the place of the living God who judges all nations.

1 Corinthians 9:16 (ESV):  “. . .  Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!”

2 Timothy 4:1–5 (ESV)

1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

The Next Great War Will Be Between Generations, and Unwinnable.

As student protests in Quebec show, the issue isn’t really about tuition fees. Quebec has the lowest fees in North America, and after adjustment for inflation, reflect those of about 40 years ago. Now that the protests are starting to spread across Canada, and with the Occupy movement, mostly made up of youngers, it is easy to see the divide: those elders who have had job security, a good lifestyle economically, and look forward to a secure retirement verses those who see only entry level jobs, higher taxes to pay for elders’ retirements, and no secure future no matter how much education is acquired.

Mainstream media almost seems giddy about the prospects of civil unrest from this war—it is a simple thing to draw up battle lines, ideologies of those expecting entitlements and those who think everything should be earned. The real hypocrisy of the whole thing is that no one in my generation (the elders) earned everything they now have. Ours has been one of the most selfish generations in human history. We wanted it all: government programs, low taxes, and the deficit spending to pull it all off. The youngers rightly ask, “Why should we be taxed heavily on our minimum wage jobs to pay for your retirement, since you didn’t save enough for it?” But the youngers, however, don’t have the moral high ground either, because they have yet, for the most part, to repudiate the materialism our generation bequeathed them. My generation believed  mostly in capitalist-materialism, with a socialist’s expectation of benefits, and the youngers assume a socialist, or communist materialism, with no clear means to pay for it. So the priorities might be different, and how the benefits of society are shared are certainly different, but in the end the same problems will remain: nothing can be had for nothing, and no one wants to pay.

We elders began to teach that everyone had equal opportunity, that with hard work most anything is possible. Perhaps because that isn’t entirely true, we changed the story (to soften the ugly truth that we are not all equally gifted) and started to teach that all outcomes will be equal. So we hear children being told that they can be anything they want to be. Women were told that they can have it all: a mother equal to stay-at-home and an exciting, fulfilling career, social life, etc., and etc.

So now at this point, youngers see the elders has having had it all, and passing the bill on to them. This is not entirely untrue. Elders see the youngers as spoiled and whiney, asking for everything to be handed to them by the government, forgetting just how much government-love they received over the years. Youngers see the elders as needing to get out of the way. What we don’t hear so much is what the youngers might want. Do they want the same benefits we had? Probably, and more. Who will pay for it? Their great-grandchildren? That generation probably won’t be any more accepting of the debt than they are. Take if from the elders? That pool shrinks with every day, although with confiscatory taxation, estates can be divided up among the masses, rather than handed on to the children of the deceased.

This battle is unwinnable, because age is not a fundamental differentiator between people. All youngers will become elders. Whatever punitive measures they mete out to elders will be waiting for them as well, in spades. For if the youngers attack to elders, which, has been suggested, extends even to the limiting of lifespans, how do they think a different fate would await them? And only an elder knows how quickly we age! Furthermore, by attacking the elders, the youngers set a precedent, and teach their children to do the same.

Likewise, the elders cannot hurt the youngers—we need them to be happy, productive workers who earn enough for a good lifestyle and who can pay taxes to support us in our last years.

Where Christians need to be in this

I don’t think Christians have done generational thinking very well. The secular world brought us age segregated education, after removing it and apprenticeship from the home, and the church has been all too happy to buy into it. Churches are still the most segregated places found on a Sunday; today not so much by race but by age.

We need to learn to think Scripturally.

Jesus said a disciple is not above his master (Luke 6:40). We cannot learn more from a teacher than that teacher can teach. The youngers will be like their parents, unless a true conversion takes place, and they receive a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26). Christians must present a new way for youngers and elders to live together.

The resentments between generations should not be a part of the Christian experience.

Since I was quite young in the ministry I thought this would someday be a problem. There are many things I didn’t know when I was young, but I did know this: “I shall go to him (old age) but he (youth) will not return to me” (a not entirely invalid application of 2 Samuel 12:23).

I remember seeing a ministry posting in a church magazine that said, “we are looking for a man under 35, with a family.” This bothered me, because at 27, if asked to serve there, I could expect to be dismissed from that church in a mere eight years! This ad was not an anomaly, but was very common then as it is now. But is that a Scriptural approach to ministry? To the relationship between generations? The Bible seems to say that youth have energy, elders have wisdom. Youth is something that, with God’s grace, you’ll get over (Proverbs 1:4, 2:17, 5:18, 7:7). When I see such advertisements for ministers, I immediately assume that that particular congregation doesn’t value wisdom or experience. Now that I’m 55 I’m just as bothered by it, because it switches the world’s obsession with youth with God’s blessings upon the aged.

The battle between the generations is not only unwise, it is ungodly.

 As with all problems the Christian churches face, the solution must be found in Scripture. We must become so immersed in the world view and thought processes of Scripture that we do not fall for the faux solutions and satisfactions of the world.

If you are a younger, remember to respect elders.

1 Timothy 5:1–2 (ESV): 1 Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, 2 older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.

If you are an elder, be the kind of person you want the youngers to be:

Titus 2:2–8 (ESV): 2 Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. 3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, 4 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. 6 Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. 7 Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, 8 and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.

Do you see the relationships here? The elders must never say, “I raised my family, I’m done with youngers,” and the youngers must be teachable, willing to honourably listen to their elders. Being older is something that should be aspired to, not despised. How does that compare to the messages you’ve been getting in media lately?

Those who wish to stoke the flames of discord will push the elders toward more selfishness and stinginess, and will urge them to limit their compassion and mercy toward the youngers. The world says, “The younger generation is a generation of losers” (I think my elder generation thought the same of us). They will also encourage the youngers to be resentful and jealous, “Shove the elders out of the way and take what’s yours.” This is the world in which we are to be light and salt.

Thinking Christianly, we need to understand that retirement is a pagan concept, and no one who is able to work has a right to a 20 or 30 year vacation, no matter how much money they have been given. Christians must re-define aged-ness. Of course some kinds of work has to be curtailed as physical and mental limitations occur, and Christians have a responsibility for compassionate care. Likewise, no younger generation should think that they are entitled to gain benefits without labour:

2 Thessalonians 3:10 (ESV)

10 For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.

Older Christians need to share what they have with the youngers, being money, food, housing, and if possible, employment:

2 Corinthians 12:14 (ESV)

14 Here for the third time I am ready to come to you. And I will not be a burden, for I seek not what is yours but you. For children are not obligated to save up for their parents, but parents for their children.

Deficit spending for decades was and is morally wrong, and older Christians must learn how to compensate for that. The church is the model of that community.

Everything you hear from the world on generational relationships will be a lie. Christians, follow God’s leading.

©2012 Scott Jacobsen

Church Signs I Couldn't Make Up | The United Church of Canada is the CBC of Religion

Today I saw two church signs, and while I know that the United (untied?) Church of Canada is not the only liberal church gasping for air, these signs are indicative of the problem. Far and away, bizarre.

Number 1: “God Called Us to Play the Game, Not Keep the Score.”

Really, “play the game?” is this supposed to be about unfair comparison? Judgment? Self-criticism? This sign is on the busiest street in town–what are they announcing, and to whom?

Number 2 (I had to snap a photo of this one, because it was so odd I wasn’t sure I’d remember it correctly):

“We’re not here to tell you what to believe . . . We’re here to try to believe what you tell us!”

I don’t even know what they’re trying to say; about anything.

 

 

 

Christian Bullies

Seems like an oxymoron–how can a Christian be a bully? I’m not talking about people who claim to be Christian but live their lives in the pursuit of the misery of others. The Bible condemns such behaviour as pagan, and such people do need to question why they can claim to be Christians at all.

But were you a bully in days past? Throughout my ministry I’ve met youth who made the lives of their peers a living hell, often while wearing the name of Christ, thus dragging His name through the mud.

Because of Christian bullies, there are many more hearts hardened to the Gospel. You, the “Christian example,” participated in the marginalisation of the weak and outsider. You picked on her, you embarrassed him publicly. You contributed to the daily misery and tears, sometimes even to the point of physical illness; possibly self-destruction.

Is it any wonder your victims steer clear from all things Christian? The real tragedy for your victims is that on the day of judgment no one can claim an excuse that they were bullied away from the Gospel. Can you live with this?

Now you are a Christian adult. You are active in all the right causes, you give to missions, you read your Bible and have your devotions, you raise your children to be Christians, and say all the right words. You might even write against bullying.

Do you think this undoes the pain you’ve caused in the past? Do you think you are absolved  of any responsibility for restitution?

Consider this:

Matthew 5:21–26 (ESV)

21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. 23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. 25 Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison. 26 Truly, I say to you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.

As a bully, you’ve already accomplished vss 21-22. What have you done with 5:24-26? Your victims “have something against you.” You might still harbour the lying rationalisation that those you hurt somehow brought this down on themselves. Jesus’s Words in the Sermon on the Mount cut right through this nonsense.

So, back to you. Are you still bringing gifts to the altar, while leaving the hurt to their hurting? God doesn’t need your activism; but you do need His Righteousness and Holiness.

Micah 6:6–8 (ESV)

6 “With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? 7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” 8 He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

What the Bible Really Still Says About Homosexuality | Kevin DeYoung

KEVIN DEYOUNG|4:02 PM CT

What the Bible Really Still Says About Homosexuality

On Tuesday afternoon, CNN ran an article on its Belief Blog by Catholic priest (sort of) Daniel Helminiak entitled “My Take: What the Bible really says about homosexuality.”  The article is amazing for including so many bad arguments in so little space. A quick trip through the piece will show you what I mean. Helminiak’s writing will be in bold and then my response will follow.

President Barack Obama’s support of same-sex marriage, like blood in the water, has conservative sharks circling for a kill. In a nation that touts separation of religion and government, religious-based arguments command this battle. Lurking beneath anti-gay forays, you inevitably find religion and, above all, the Bible.

We now face religious jingoism, the imposition of personal beliefs on the whole pluralistic society. Worse still, these beliefs are irrational, just a fiction of blind conviction. Nowhere does the Bible actually oppose homosexuality.

These two paragraphs perfectly depict how many see any Christian opposition to homosexuality or gay marriage. We are undercover (or not!) theocrats trying to impose our personal preferences on the rest of the country. But the charge of legislating our morality is not as simple as it sounds. For starters, the government legislates plenty of morality already—morality about killing, stealing, polluting and a thousand other things we’ve decided are bad for society or just plain wrong. Moreover, the arguments being made in favor of gay marriage are fundamentally about morality. That’s why you hear words like justice, love, and equality. Most gay marriage advocates are making their case based on moral categories, if not religious and biblical.

What’s more, the pro-gay marriage side would like to see the state reject a conjugal view of marriage in favor of a new, heretofore unknown, definition of marriage. And in insisting upon the state’s involvement, they want this new definition to be imposed on all. We may not all have to like gay marriage, but the government will tell us what marriage means whether we like it or not.

In the past 60 years, we have learned more about sex, by far, than in preceding millennia. Is it likely that an ancient people, who thought the male was the basic biological model and the world flat, understood homosexuality as we do today? Could they have even addressed the questions about homosexuality that we grapple with today? Of course not.

Here we have an example of progressive prejudice, the kind that assumes we have little to learn from the benighted masses who lived long ago. Whether they thought the world was flat has nothing to do with whether ancient people can teach us anything about sexuality. Such a tidbit is thrown in, it seems to me, as a rhetorical cue that these people were as dumb as doorknobs and can’t be trusted. More importantly, Helminiak distances himself from an orthodox understanding of biblical inspiration. Instead of approaching the Scriptures as the word of God, his first step is to position the Bible as a book by ancient people who don’t know all the things we know.

Hard evidence supports this commonsensical expectation. Taken on its own terms, read in the original languages, placed back into its historical context, the Bible is ho-hum on homosexuality, unless – as with heterosexuality – injustice and abuse are involved.

That, in fact, was the case among the Sodomites (Genesis 19), whose experience is frequently cited by modern anti-gay critics. The Sodomites wanted to rape the visitors whom Lot, the one just man in the city, welcomed in hospitality for the night.

The Bible itself is lucid on the sin of Sodom: pride, lack of concern for the poor and needy (Ezekiel 16:48-49); hatred of strangers and cruelty to guests (Wisdom 19:13); arrogance (Sirach/Ecclesiaticus 16:8); evildoing, injustice, oppression of the widow and orphan (Isaiah 1:17); adultery (in those days, the use of another man’s property), and lying (Jeremiah 23:12).

But nowhere are same-sex acts named as the sin of Sodom. That intended gang rape only expressed the greater sin, condemned in the Bible from cover to cover: hatred, injustice, cruelty, lack of concern for others. Hence, Jesus says “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 19:19Mark 12:31); and “By this will they know you are my disciples” (John 13:35).

How inverted these values have become! In the name of Jesus, evangelicals and Catholic bishops make sex the Christian litmus test and are willing to sacrifice the social safety net in return.

There is really only one argument in the foregoing paragraphs: the sin of Sodom was about social injustice not about sexual immorality. No doubt, there were many other sins involved, as Helminiak rightly observes. But there is no reason to think homosexualityper se wasn’t also to blame for Sodom’s judgment. For example, Jude 7 states that Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities “indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire.” Even the NRSV, translation of choice for the mainline (and the version Helminiak seems to be using), says “pursued unnatural lust.” Clearly, the sins of Sodom lived in infamy not simply because of violent aggression or the lack of hospitality, but because men pursued sex with other men.

The longest biblical passage on male-male sex is Romans 1:26-27: “Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another.”

The Greek term para physin has been translated unnatural; it should readatypical or unusual. In the technical sense, yes, the Stoic philosophers did use para physin to mean unnatural, but this term also had a widespread popular meaning. It is this latter meaning that informs Paul’s writing. It carries no ethical condemnation.

Compare the passage on male-male sex to Romans 11:24. There, Paul applies the term para physin to God. God grafted the Gentiles into the Jewish people, a wild branch into a cultivated vine. Not your standard practice! An unusual thing to do — atypical, nothing more. The anti-gay “unnatural” hullabaloo rests on a mistranslation.

Besides, Paul used two other words to describe male-male sex: dishonorable(1:24, 26) and unseemly (1:27). But for Paul, neither carried ethical weight. In 2 Corinthians 6:8 and 11:21, Paul says that even he was held in dishonor— for preaching Christ. Clearly, these words merely indicate social disrepute, not truly unethical behavior.

This line of reasoning is also common among revisionists. There is little to say in its favor, however, and Helminiak’s argument—that para physin “carries no ethical condemnation”–is particularly weak.

1) He makes the rudimentary error of forgetting that words have a semantic range of meaning. Just because Paul used “against nature” or “dishonorable” in non-ethical settings (sort of), doesn’t mean those words and phrases cannot carry ethical weight in another context. It’s like suggesting that if FDR once said “this soup is terrible” and later said “what the Nazis are doing is terrible” that he couldn’t possibly mean anything more than “what the Nazis did was kind of strange and not my personal preference.”

2) The context in Romans 1 tells us how to understand para physin. Paul has already explained how the unrighteous suppress the truth about God seen in nature and how they exchange the glory of the immortal God for images of created things. In both cases Paul contends that people believe a lie which prevents them from seeing things as they really are (1:25). Then in the very next verse he singles out homosexuality as “contrary to nature.” He is not thinking merely of things that are unusual, but of acts that violate the divine design and the ways things ought to be. For Paul, the biological complementarity of the male-female union is the obvious order of things. A male-male or female-female sexual pairing violates the anatomical and procreative design inherent in the one flesh union of a man and a woman. That Jewish writers of the period used comparable expressions to describe same-sex intercourse only confirms that this is what Paul meant by the construction.

3) Even more obviously, we know Paul considered same-sex intercourse an ethical violation, and not simply something uncommon, because of what he says in the very next sentence. Helminiak conveniently cuts off Paul’s thought halfway through verse 27. Notice what Paul goes on to say: “Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error” (NRSV). When you read the whole verse, Helminiak’s “non-ethical” argument becomes implausible. Paul thought homosexuality not just unusual, but wrong, a sinful error deserving of a “due penalty.”

In this passage Paul is referring to the ancient Jewish Law: Leviticus 18:22, the “abomination” of a man’s lying with another man. Paul sees male-male sex as an impurity, a taboo, uncleanness — in other words, “abomination.” Introducing this discussion in 1:24, he says so outright: “God gave them up … to impurity.”

But Jesus taught lucidly that Jewish requirements for purity — varied cultural traditions — do not matter before God. What matters is purity of heart.

“It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles,” reads Matthew 15. “What comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles. For out of the heart come evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person, but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile.”

Or again, Jesus taught, “Everyone who looks at a women with lust has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). Jesus rejected the purity requirements of the Jewish Law.

In calling it unclean, Paul was not condemning male-male sex. He had terms to express condemnation. Before and after his section on sex, he used truly condemnatory terms: godless, evil, wicked or unjust, not to be done. But he never used ethical terms around that issue of sex.

Helminiak’s argument seems to be: Paul said homosexuality was an impurity; Jesus set people free from the purity requirements of the Jewish law; therefore, homosexuality is not wrong. This reasoning is so specious that it’s hard to know where to begin. Jesus did recalibrate the purity laws, but Mark 7:19 makes clear that the episode in question was about declaring all foods clean. Jesus was not saying for a second that anything previously called “unclean” or “impure” was now no big deal. Helminiak again connects words in a facile manner, suggesting that because Jesus fulfilled certain aspects of the ceremonial code, now anything described with the language of impurity cannot be condemned. Nine times in his epistles Paul references “impurity” and it is always in the context of vice and immorality (Rom. 1:246:192 Cor. 12:21Gal. 5:19Eph. 4:195:3Col. 3:51 Thess. 2:3;4:7). Besides all this, Jesus explicitly lists “sexual immorality” (in the passage Helminiak quotes) as one of the things that defiles a person. The Greek word is porneia which refers to “unlawful sexual intercourse” (BDAG), especially, for the Jew, anything condemned by the Law of Moses.

It is simply not true that Paul, or Jesus for that matter, never considered homosexuality an ethical matter. To cite just one more example: in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and 1 Timothy 1:9-10 Paul uses a rare Greek word, arsenokoites, which is a compound from two words found in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13. Paul thought the prohibition against homosexuality in the Old Testament was still relevant and the sin was still serious.

As for marriage, again, the Bible is more liberal than we hear today. The Jewish patriarchs had many wives and concubines. David and Jonathan, Ruth and Naomi, and Daniel and the palace master were probably lovers.

The Bible’s Song of Songs is a paean to romantic love with no mention of children or a married couple. Jesus never mentioned same-sex behaviors, although he did heal the “servant” — pais, a Greek term for male lover — of the Roman Centurion.

These are wild assertions without any corroborating evidence. Whatever one thinks of Leviticus 18 and 20 for today, it’s obvious that the Torah considered homosexual activity an abomination. It’s absurd to think that any ancient Israelite would have any celebrated David or Jonathan or Ruth or Naomi or Daniel if they were homosexual. It is the worst kind of special pleading and reader response to conclude against all exegetical, theological, and historical evidence that any of these Old Testament heroes were gay.

Likewise, there is no evidence to suggest that the centurion’s servant was his lover. The leading New Testament lexicon (BDAG) gives three definitions of pais: a young person, one’s own offspring, one who is in total obedience to another. If the word somehow means “male lover” in the Gospels, we need evidence greater than Helminiak’s bald assertion.

Paul discouraged marriage because he believed the world would soon end. Still, he encouraged people with sexual needs to marry, and he never linked sex and procreation.

Were God-given reason to prevail, rather than knee-jerk religion, we would not be having a heated debate over gay marriage. “Liberty and justice for all,” marvel at the diversity of creation, welcome for one another: these, alas, are true biblical values.

The link between sex and procreation did not have to be articulated by Paul because it was already assumed. God’s design from the beginning had been one man and one woman coming together as one flesh. This design is reaffirmed throughout Scripture, not least of all by Jesus (Matt. 19:4-6) and by Paul (Eph. 5:31). An important aspect of this union is the potential blessing of children. The prophet Malachi made clear that procreation is one of the aims of marriage when he said about a husband and wife, “Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring” (Mal. 2:15).

None of this proves the case against gay marriage as a government injunction (though that case can be made as well). What careful attention to the Bible does show is that the revisionists do not have a Scriptural leg to stand on. From the first chapter of the Bible to the Law of Moses to the New Testament, there is no hint that homosexuality is acceptable behavior for God’s people and every indication that it is a serious sin.

This is why I appreciate the candor of honest pro-gay advocates like Luke Timothy Johnson:

The task demands intellectual honesty. I have little patience with efforts to make Scripture say something other than what it says, through appeals to linguistic or cultural subtleties. The exegetical situation is straightforward: we know what the text says…I think it important to state clearly that we do, in fact, reject the straightforward commands of Scripture, and appeal instead to another authority when we declare that same-sex unions can be holy and good. And what exactly is that authority? We appeal explicitly to the weight of our own experience and the experience thousands of others have witnessed to, which tells us that to claim our own sexual orientation is in fact to accept the way in which God has created us. By so doing, we explicitly reject as well the premises of the scriptural statements condemning homosexuality-namely, that it is a vice freely chosen, a symptom of human corruption, and disobedience to God’s created order.

Of course, I disagree with Johnson’s approach to the authority of Scripture and his liberal deference to experience. But I commend him for acknowledging what should be plain: the Bible really really calls homosexuality a sin. A sin that can be forgiven in Christ like a million other sins, and a sin that can be fought against by the power of the Holy Spirit, but still a sin. That’s what the Bible says. And as the CNN article demonstrates, it takes a lot of contorted creativity to make it say something else.

Reposted Book Review From the Gospel Coalition

TREVIN WAX|3:22 AM CT

Why Hunger Games is Flawed to Its Core

Nate (N. D.) Wilson is one of my favorite writers. He has given us some excellent fictionand non-fiction books. He knows what makes a story work.

Nate was in town recently, and we had a conversation about books, beauty, and bestsellers. Naturally, we talked about The Hunger GamesHis take on it was too good to keep to myself, so I asked if I could share it here.

Why Hunger Games is Flawed to Its Core
N.D. Wilson

Almost everywhere I go, I’m asked about The Hunger Games (book, not film). The questions used to fly about Twilight and Potter, but Katniss and dystopic death-matches have taken over.

First, I completely understand why The Hunger Games took off. Suzanne Collins knows how to suck readers into a page-turning frenzy. The pace of the book grabs like gorilla glue and the kill-or-be-killed tension keeps fingernails nibbled short. She knows her craft, and I have to say that I’m grateful to her for expanding our mutual marketplace (in the same way that Rowling did). That said, Collins stumbles badly in her understanding of some pretty fundamental elements of human story, and the whole thing is flawed to its core as a result.

The best authors are students of humanity, both as individuals and grouped in societies (big and small).

  • C.S. Lewis’ profound insight into human motivation and relationships is on display in Narnia, and even more intricately in his Space Trilogy. He paints honest and accurate portraits, leading readers through darkness toward wisdom.
  • Think about Mark Twain’s ability to see and image the motivations of boys, and the entire society in which those boys lived.
  • Tom Wolfe’s sharp clear vision is on display in both his essays and his fiction. He sees into the hearts and minds of men; he sees which of their choices and follies will set fire to the world around them, and how exactly that fire will progress and grow. (And, like the greatest writers, he manages to maintain an affection and sympathy for his characters and for humanity in general despite this insight.)

When an author profoundly misunderstands human societies, arbitrarily forcing a group or a character into decisions and actions that they would never choose for themselves given the preceding narrative, it drives me bonkers. I once threw The Fountainhead across the room for exactly that crime, and I’ve never read anything by Rand since. And Collins bundles clumsy offenses like this in Costco bulk…

Quick Switch 1

Katniss volunteers to take her sister’s place in the Hunger Games. Yay. Self-sacrifice. Christian themes, yadda, yadda. So far so good. But that walnut shell slides away immediately and a moment of self-sacrifice is replaced with sustained, radical, murderous self-interest.

In the Christian ethos, laying down one’s life for another is glorious. In the Darwinian world, self-preservation is the ultimate shiny good. Readers bite the lure of sacrifice, and then blissfully go along with survive-at-the-expense-of-murdered-innocents. Katniss becomes evil–she’s even relieved at one point that someone else murdered her innocent little friend, because she knew that she would have to do it herself eventually. And we still give her credit for being sacrificial…

(Sacrificial Sidenote: Many people point to Peeta as the truly noble and sacrificial character. I don’t mind him as a character, but a picture of heroic sacrifice he ain’t. InHunger Games, he’s fundamentally passive and submissive. He’s that guy who is happy to ‘just be friends’ with the cute girl. Or a lot more than friends (but only if she initiates). He’s just the puppy at her heels. “Sure, kill me Katniss. Oh, you’d rather we both killed ourselves? Yes, Katniss. Whatever you say, Katniss.” Really? There are plenty of guys in the world just like Peeta, and kudos to Collins for using the type, especially since nice second-fiddle fellas like that confuse and conflict girls tremendously. But worldview readers are gaming themselves into seeing something that just isn’t there.)

Quick Switch 2

The self-defense defense. Katniss is a victim, but so is every other innocent person thrust into these games. She should be rising above the game and defending herself (and everyone else) from the Hunger Games. Instead, she kills her fellow victims. Sure, if someone is in the act of trying to murder you, shoot them through the throat. But dropping tracker jackers on sleeping kids? Negativo. Why is she playing this game by the rules at all? The Hunger Games are the real enemy.

If Collins wanted her protagonist to be the kind of rebel who would start a revolution (and she does want that), she should have had Katniss cutting her locator out of her arm on night one instead of participating in and perpetuating the evil. But readers are a little numb to killing, and this particular switch wasn’t hard to pull on us.

Here’s a thought experiment to help us see clearly. What if Collins had thrown her character into this arena and the rules had been different? Last one raped wins. Rape or be raped. Obviously, a real hero wouldn’t play the game. Explode the game. (Sidenote: rape is awful, but at least the other kids would have survived.)

Faux-revolution

File this under misunderstanding humanity, which is just another way of saying that The Hunger Games misunderstands courage, inspiration, oppression, and nobility as they relate to people in a collective herd. If you want to see an accurate picture of how one enslaved victim can threaten a regime, watch Gladiator. Twenty thousand people (and the emperor) are commanding one slave to kill another. (Kill!Kill!Kill!) But instead, he throws his sword in the dirt and turns his back on the emperor. And…the people he just defied now adore him. He inspires. His courage is unlike anything they’ve seen, and he is now officially a political problem.

Walk through what Collins has Katniss do while playing in the Hunger Games. First, she does and says exactly what she’s told to do and say (trying to manipulate the mob with false sentimentality). Second, she plays the vile despotic game, and by the immoral rules.  Finally, she threatens to kill herself (and talks her faux-boyfriend into doing it with her). This, allegedly, panics the establishment and is the spark that will start a revolution.

But the world doesn’t work that way. Men and women are not inspired to risk their lives in insurrection and defiance by someone reaching for poisonous berries. Revolutions are not started by teen girls suicide-pacting with cute baker boys. Oppressive regimes are not threatened by people who do what they are told.

Put yourself in the author’s well-worn desk chair. If you really wanted your Katniss to threaten this tyrannical system like many great men and women have threatened many tyrants throughout the ages, what would you have her do? She needs to be a lot more punk rock (in the best possible way). She needs to stop giving a rip about her own survival (the most dangerous men and women always forget themselves). She needs to refuse to be a piece in the game. Imagine millions of people watching her disarm some boy who was trying to murder her, and then cutting out his locator, hiding him, and keeping him alive. Every time she defied the order to kill, she would earn the true loyalty of the spared kid’s district. And she would start being a legitimate political threat. (Even Tom Wolfe asked me about The Hunger Games, having apparently heard it had some revolutionary insight. I hit him with the primary plot beats and watched him blink in confusion.)

There is more to say, but I’ve said enough. Well, almost. One final thought: never read or watch a story like a passive recipient, enjoying something in a visceral way and then retroactively trying to project deeper value or meaning onto the story you’ve already ingested. Such projections have been making authors and directors seem more intelligent than they are for decades. As you watch, as you read, shoulder your way into the creator’s chair. Don’t take the final product for granted, analyze the creator’s choices and cheerfully push them in new and different directions. As we do this, the clarity of our criticism will grow immensely. Which is to say, we’ll be suckered far less often than we currently are.

Lastly, Suzanne Collins can really write. It’s just that we can’t really read.