Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Breaking Bad Habits

This morning something funny happened. I asked something of someone via a social media site. It was a simple something; respectfully and cheerfully put out there, but the response I was given was rather snarky. It made me wonder whether if I had been standing beside this person on the street and asked the question, if they would have answered me in the same way. I kind of think not. I kind of think that a lot of things we post on social media or via texting would not be said face to face. 

In a culture that seems eager to jump down people’s throats at the slightest opportunity, I can’t help but feel that we’ve fallen into a societal bad habit of sorts. The habit of seeing life as insignificant. Living, breathing human beings as worthless. We often treat ourselves and others as those that lack value. And nothing could be further from the truth. 

As with most bad habits, we don’t realize we’re caught up in it until the symptoms arise and we are forced to step back and re-evaluate our actions. Bloody fingers after biting the nail too short, cavities in our teeth from drinking soda all day. Rising animosity towards others because we’ve lost sight of our value. We’ve lost sight of the significance that every human life carries from conception to natural death. 

That significance is sometimes hard to see with our earthly eyes. Not every person will feel significant to us all the time. Thank God for His word that shows us the value we have in our redeemer, Jesus Christ, who sees our value when others cannot.  Our lives and our very existence are so valuable that God sent his Son to die in order that we might have life and have it abundantly. That word “abundantly” doesn’t refer to wealth, power, or position but abundantly full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These are the gifts of the Spirit that are ours in Christ. We are capable of such things. How many of us would trade our animosity and indignation for these things instead? We love others because He first loved us. He gives us the love, the joy, the peace, the patience, the kindness, the goodness, the faithfulness, the gentleness, and the self-control to serve our neighbor with full respect for the tremendous significance they have in this world. 

Restoration is not a one man job.  (Unless that man is Jesus.) The ability to share our lives with another, or many others, is a gift from God. The people we meet in the grocery store, drive alongside on  our way to work, share our dinner with, and even share snarky moments with on social media. In a world that seeks to highlight the individual, I am reminded of the power of community. I am reminded that we have a relational God who has created us to be relational people, therefore, Satan will do everything in his power to separate us. Alone we are weak but together we are strong. Is it any wonder we’re pinned against one another? When our attention is diverted from the relationship among us, in other words, when we’re sitting behind our computer or telephone screens, it is so much harder to see the heart of others and so much easier to slander one another.

Whether we’re going through hard times or starting a new chapter in our lives, isolation is a real threat. The more isolated we are, the less value we will have for ourselves and others; our perspective is changed, the less compassion and concern we feel for those struggling right along with us. Our instincts will lead us inward, to focus on ourselves, rather than outward into communion with the world around us, where we can be lifted and also lift others up. 

So. Let's set out, together, to begin breaking the bad habit of seeing others as worthless or insignificant. Every human life has value and you. are. loved.  

“We love because he first loved us.  If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.” 
 - 1 John 4:19-21

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Teen Vogue Isn't Trying To Save Your Child

Okay, the whole Teen Vogue/Anal Sex article. Good lord. Do we really need to explain why this is inappropriate for our youth? Every time I hear someone say that this is “happening anyway” and youth should “know more about it” so they can “learn the right way,” I want to vomit. 
I’m sorry if this comes across a bit too straight-forward but, really, it’s about time we stop dancing around these distortions and twisted views of sex. So, it’s uncomfortable to talk about. We all agree. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let's stop demeaning our own intelligence and that of our younger generations by pretending that we don't all know a better way. 

They say people will believe whatever makes sense to them at the time. A common example is the phrase, “Follow your heart.” That sounds good, right? That sounds honest and raw and authentic. We all want to be those things. Except here’s the truth: Absolutely, under NO circumstances should we follow our hearts! We are sinful human beings with rotten, sinful hearts! On the contrary, we need to, “Follow Christ and seek His will for our lives.” See what I did there? The majority of things that sound good in the world today are just that. Good-sounding. They are superficial and catchy and trendy and- completely misguided. Teen Vogue doesn’t want your children to learn the proper way to have anal sex in order to better equip them to be well-rounded adults. They want to sell magazines. They want to be on top, numero uno, the premier magazine for teens everywhere. 
Listen,  we should ABSOLUTELY be teaching our teenagers about sex. Anal, oral, vaginal, all of it. Yes, you can blush. Indeed, I said that… But now get over that and focus again on what’s at stake. Either we teach them God’s value of sex or the world teaches them to de-value sex.  We should be teaching our youth about the incredible value each one of us has to our Creator. We should be teaching them to love and regard one another with that value as the foundation, which brings forth a common regard and respect of the body. We should be teaching them about the whole human body, in it's entirety and how intricately it’s been designed and that each specific part has a specific and awesome purpose, ordained and crafted by God, Himself. 

It is NOT NORMAL for adults to advocate for behaviors that cause the more innocent among them to hurt themselves. We are not just physical bodies guys. We are spiritual, emotional, mental, and social beings as well. When sex is treated as something that is casual, we are lying to ourselves and to our children. Sex is not casual. The giving of your body to another’s body is the most intimate and personal thing you could ever possibly do. It affects the way we think, the way we feel, the ways we interact with others around us, and the way we relate to our God. Stop and think about this for a minute and then wait. Wait. You don’t have to take my word for it. You know that what I’m saying is right. You feel it in your conscience. Whether or not you decide to act on that conviction or not is up to you. It’s hard to stop believing what you’ve always believed. But you know what they say, “The truth will set you free” and you’ve just been given the truth.