The Need for Masculine Physical Affection

Male Affection 1

Sometimes ideas are so closely linked that it is hard to know which came first. One of the problems that has arisen with the normalization of sodomy is the death of intimate male friendship. Which came first? Sodomy and the sexualization of male friendship? Or male friendships being viewed with suspicion? Did the sexualization of all things lead to the death of male friendship or did male friendship die and that led to sodomy? Did fathers stop showing physical love and this lead to sodomy and sexual abuse? Or did the rise of sodomy and sexual abuse lead to the decline of male physical affection?

These questions are not easy to answer. But physical, intimate, male friendship is often viewed today with suspicion especially by conservatives. Deep male friendship is at best weird and at worst a threat. Feminism seeks to destroy male friendship by making sure  women are always around. Often conservative women do the same thing by again making sure a woman, in this case MOM is always around to keep the boys in check. Whatever the reasons, men showing affection physically is weird. Two men with their arms around each other in public is odd to us. Men who kiss each other on the cheeks are odd, unless you are from the Middle East. In an older movie, Mrs. Brown, numerous British soldiers swim naked. How would that be viewed today? The truth is that many men fear physical affection with other men. They fear they will be viewed as latent homosexuals or it will just be awkward. There are two major exceptions to this, war and sports. In war men form deep  bonds and expressions of physical love are frequent. In sports, slapping each other, hugging one another, jumping into each other’s arms, and weeping with one another are expressed without concern for what the world may think.  As women continue to mingle with men in these fields no doubt even the physical affection shown there between men will diminish.  Continue reading

Private Christians Resent Public Christians

George Whitefield

Amos 5:10 says, “They hate the one who rebukes in the gate, and they abhor him who speaks uprightly.” One sign of a corrupt society is that those who speak the truth are persecuted and hated. especially those who speak the truth publicly. America is surely in that position. Her politicians and other public figures are serial liars. Truth is hated in America. But beyond politics the church does the same thing. She doesn’t want truth tellers. She doesn’t want public figures who call out wicked men and women for their lies and abominations. We are embarrassed by public condemnation of sins. Let’s do our theology at our desks and keep our opinions to ourselves. Let’s have our family worship, but never tell others about Jesus. Let’s hold our private opinions about gender and sexual issues, but let’s not impose those on others. Let’s continue to vote for people who destroy the weak and poor. And we so castrate Christianity, cutting off its potency. Tim Bayly speaks to this in his book Daddy Tried: 

Public Christians are always an inconvenience to private Christians, and so we teach young men and new Christians to keep their Christian faith quiet and harmless-which is to say, personal and private. But Christian faith that is personal and private, carefully kept within the confines of home and church, is no faith at all.

No wonder America continues to slaughter babies at the rate of 1.3 million per year, and often just down the street from our church or kitty-corner to our supermarket.

We’re private Christians.

No wonder America has come to believe in homosexual marriage. No wonder America has more women getting college, university, and professional degrees than men. No wonder America will soon have a woman president who’s a stronger leader than her husband. No wonder America lost faith in the authority of Scripture, denies the existence of Hell, and never reads the Bible. No wonder America is having fewer and fewer children in homes that are mostly fatherless, now.

Here is Jesus’s warning: “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. (Mt. 5:13)

So it’s happened, hasn’t it.

The world is dying for lack of manly, zealous, biblical fathers like Noah, David, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Amos, John the Baptist, the Apostle Peter, the Apostle Paul, Clement of Alexandria, Irenaeus, Cyprian, Augustine, Gregory the Great, Peter Waldo, Francis of Assisi, John Knox, Richard Baxter, Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jim Elliot, Marvin Olasky, Phil Jensen…

And Jesus.

Men, what are you doing to speak and live truth in the city square? Is Jesus tucked away in your back pocket so you can pull Him out during family devotions and in the church parking lot, but He is ignored the rest of the time? If we are to be men who love Christ then we must find ways to speak  up in the gates. We need to look for opportunities to publicly oppose legislation that is against God’s Word. We need to look for opportunities to tell our neighbors the good news of Jesus Christ. We need to march on abortion clinics and write letters to the editor. We need to publicly oppose government programs the keep people poor. We need to expose the sins of our elected officials and put honest men in their place. Our faith is not private thing. We do not declare a Jesus who is in our heart. We declare a Jesus who king and has all authority in heaven and on earth. His authority extends to the city hall, the town square, and the legislative sessions in our states. Do we believe that? I think we do. But I also think we are cowards afraid of what others might think of us and the price we might have to pay for our public stand.

Be prepared though. One of the most discouraging things I have seen over the years is that if you do this Christians, not just the world, will hate you. Of course, we expect the world to denounce us. But fellow Christians? Yes. If we are active in the city gate, it will not just be the world telling us to shut up, but Christians will as well. You are bringing shame to Christ’s name. You are not loving your neighbor. You are driving people away from the church. You don’t want to sound like a crazy fundamentalist do you?  And so they will hate the one who rebukes in the gate. But that is a little price to pay to bring glory to our Savior and perhaps turn some to the truth, isn’t it?

Book Review: Daddy Tried by Tim Bayly

Daddy Tried: Overcoming the Failures of FatherhoodDaddy Tried: Overcoming the Failures of Fatherhood by Tim Bayly

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Pastor Bayly has been a great influence on me over the years through his blog and I am grateful for this book. Fatherhood is so misunderstood and maligned in our culture. With warmth, love, wisdom, and the occasional punch Pastor Bayly takes us through what fatherhood is and who our good Father is. I love books where the author just believes what the Bible says. Too many nickel and dime the Bible until it means very little. Also the book “steeled my spine” as Dr. Frame says in the endorsement. I came away sorry for my sins as a father, grateful for the grace of Christ, and ready to dig in and get to work with courage and trust in God.

I really enjoyed his chapter on discipline. I have nine children with a tenth on the way. Discipline is hard and time consuming. It is easy to get slack in the task. His reminder that discipline is love was sorely needed.

His chapter on fathers in the gates was convicting as well. I make too many excuses for not being involved in the community. Pastor Bayly exposes those and encourages us men to find ways to get involved in our community.

Finally, I loved the tender affection for God and others that is woven throughout the book. Christians fathers should be known for their love, their physical affection with their children, their wife, and their friends. We should be known for our tears and our passion. Pastor Bayly doesn’t just exhort us to Christian affection, he shows it in the way the book is written. I can imagine that many of these ideas have been spoken dozens of times in pastoral counseling, over coffee, or after church in the parking lot. He shepherds us fathers as we read. I highly recommend it for all fathers, sons, grandfathers, pastors, and elders.

My Rating System
1 Star-Terrible book and dangerous. Burn it in the streets.

2 Stars-Really bad book, would not recommend, probably has some dangerous ideas in it. Few books I read are 1 or 2 stars because I am careful about what I read.

3 Stars-Either I disagree with it at too many points to recommend it or it is just not a good book on the subject or for the genre. Would not read it again, reference it, or recommend it. But it is not necessarily dangerous except as a time waster.

4 Stars-Solid book on the subject or for the genre. I would recommend this book to others and would probably read it again or reference it. Most books fall in this category because I try not to read books I don’t think will be good. There is a quite a variety here. 4.1 is quite different from 4.9.

5 Stars-Excellent book. Classic in the genre or top of the line for the subject. I might also put a book in here that impacted me personally at the time I read it. I would highly recommend this book, even if I do not agree with all that it says. Few books fall in this category. Over time I have put less in this category.

View all my reviews

Abandoned Long Ago

Female Soldier

A Republican led Senate voted (85 for 13 against) Tuesday on a military policy bill that would require women when they reach the age of 18 to register for the draft.This will go into effect on January 1st, 2018.  Here are a few relevant quotes from the article. All bold is mine.

On Tuesday, the Senate approved an expansive military policy bill that would for the first time require young women to register for the draft. The shift, while fiercely opposed by some conservative lawmakers and interest groups, had surprisingly broad support among Republican leaders and women in both parties.

“The fact is,” said Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona and the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, “every single leader in this country, both men and women, members of the military leadership, believe that it’s fair since we opened up all aspects of the military to women that they would also be registering for Selective Services.”

While most Republican senators — including Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, and the women on the Armed Services Committee — agree with the move, it has come under fierce attack from some of Congress’s most conservative members.

I think the change is inevitable,” said Nora Bensahel, a military policy analyst at American University’s School of International Service, “whether in this debate or through the courts. It just seems that now that you have women allowed to serve in any position in the military, there is no logical basis to say women should not be drafted.

The Senate is expected to hold its ground as conservative members defend the status quo. Mr. McCain, whose family has a long and storied history in the military and whose daughter-in-law is a captain in the Air Force Reserve, said to Mr. Cruz on the Senate floor: “I respect the senator from Texas’s view. Too bad that view is not shared by our military leadership, the ones who have had the experience in combat with women.”

This is the big “E” on the eye chart. Basic human nature 101. There are gray areas in gender debates. This is not one of them. Any country willing to send its wives, mothers, sisters, and daughters into combat has abandoned a biblical/creational sexual ethic. Pastors, professors, theologians, and Christian thinkers should denounce this move and declare it to be wicked. They should do this publicly from pulpits, on blogs, in books, articles, and any other avenue available to them. Complementarians, if they want to be more than a stepping stone to feminism, need to do the same. If you can’t declare this a sin and blight on our country and the American church, then when will you decide enough is enough? What is the line that must be crossed?

But of course, evangelicals, including Reformed ones, have given up so much ground already. If we allow easy divorce, reject motherhood and fruitfulness as glorious, praise our women for fighting fires, drug dealers, and each other in the ring, believe the highest calling of a woman is 50 hours at an office, and allow all manner of sexual sin to go unchecked then what is the big deal about sending our women to war. We abandoned them long ago.

Westminster Larger Catechism, Question 145

What the sins forbidden in the ninth commandment [you shall not bear false witness]? The sins forbidden in the ninth commandment are….undue silence in a just cause and holding our peace when iniquity calls for either a reproof from ourselves or a complaint to others.

Dress, Manners, and the Created Order

Courtship 1.jpg
Stephen Clark’s book Man and Woman in Christ has been an excellent read. Near the end of the book he summarizes his conclusions from his study. One point is that Christians should use cultural expressions to express the role differences between men and women. Most societies throughout history, including Western society, have had ways of distinguishing between men and women and their roles. This was done in many ways, but primarily through different modes of dress and manners. Manners here would include what was done and said between men and women. An example my wife just read was how in the Civil War South women did not discuss their pregnancies in front of men. When they became visibly pregnant they stopped going out into society as well. Whatever we think of the practice, it was a way of women distinguishing themselves from men.

In our society there has been a breakdown of differences between men and women. (That sentence is like saying the Titanic was a ship that sunk.) There are coed bathrooms to go along with co-ed dorm rooms. Women can be firefighters, policemen, boxers, wrestlers, soldiers, pastors, football players, and presidents. Add to this the sexual confusion seen in sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuals, transgender, divorce, and abortion and we see a society that has lost any vision of the distinct, glorious, God-ordained differences between men and women. Therefore it is not a surprise that we have tossed aside cultural expressions of those differences. I want to briefly explore how we have done this in dress and manners.

Clothing for men and women has become more uniform. Can you imagine a store with male and female employees requiring their female employees to wear skirts? That thought experiment is enough to show how far we have come. Many movies depict women in pants and military style tank tops just like men wear. Men wear skinny jeans,which are basically yoga pants with buttons. There are still masculine and feminine clothes. But our culture does not demand or expect that. For example, a girl could wear a nice dress to school, but she should just as easily wear masculine clothes. Her hair could be long or short. Feminine dress has become an individual expression instead of a cultural expectation and norm. Many women dress feminine, not because they are women, but because it is an expression of their personal desires. There is no norm, just me dressing in whatever way makes me happy.

But the loss of manners, which distinguish men from women, is more pronounced that the uniformity of dress. Men used to open doors for women, give their seats up for women, wait for women, speak with careful respect to women, avoid certain topics when speaking with women, not lay their hands on women, etc. Men were careful about what they said in front of the ladies. Now we talk to them just like they are one of the guys. Men and woman playing each other in sports would have been unthinkable. Now it is normal. Men and women sharing bathrooms. We have flattened out the differences between men and women. Do we have any normal, social manners where we distinguish men from women?

There is no Biblical command that says, “Open doors for ladies.” However, it is a cultural expression of a Biblical truth: Women and men are different and are to be treated differently. We don’t have to necessarily hang on to opening doors for women. The problem is  that we have jettisoned our fathers’ cultural expressions of role differences without replacing them with new ones. Therefore we are left with little non-verbal language by which we say, “Men and women are different.”

Here is why many complementarians are so feeble in their attempt to hold back the cultural tide of egalitarianism. They believe that men and women are different. But they refuse to allow that truth to impact life in concrete ways. Women can’t be pastors and men should lead in the home….sorta, kinda, almost. But in most places they throw up their hands and say, “Who knows where the line is between men and women’s dress?”  “Is it really wrong for a woman to teach men in church when it isn’t the Sunday morning sermon?” When complementarians think women can be cops, bust drug dealers, and get in firefights they have lost the battle.

There are many people, including some Christians, who do not think there is much of a difference between men and women. They are happy that these walls have been broken down. These people are in rebellion against the created order.

But for those of us who still think men and women were created by God for distinct, glorious roles, then cultural expressions of these differences are necessary. Here I offer two suggestions. Dress in a way that says, “I am a man.” Or “I am a woman.” I am not saying women can’t wear pants or jeans. Nor am I saying that men must wear camo. But make sure your dress fits your sex. There is a lot of freedom here. I am not encouraging a return to all women or men wearing the same thing. I am encouraging men and women to wear clothes that distinguish them from the other sex. We are generally better at this than we are at the second point.

Second, we should bring back distinct ways of treating the opposite sex. The men are primarily responsible for this. We should open doors for the ladies, wait to sit until they are seated, not speak of certain things in front of them, smoke our cigars outside, run late night errands instead of sending our wives into the darkness, rise when they enter the room, protect our ladies physically and spiritually, pull out their chairs, put on their coats, etc. In short, we should find (or recover?) ways of saying, “Men are different from women.” Ladies should let men do this. Many ladies hate having a man give up his seat for them. Why? We don’t have to do all of these and we can create other cultural expressions. But for Christians who think men and women are different we need to have a cultural language that defies the egalitarian ethic of the world we live in. It is not enough to preach from the pulpit or write in books that men and women are different. We must reflect this truth in homes, churches, and communities in actions that say men and women are different.

Originally posted in August 2014, but there are some revisions to this re-post.