A Confession of a Millennial

A Confession Of A Millennial – A Complete Rewrite

(If you want to read the original version, it is beneath this one)

Due to your feedback, I have rewritten this post. My post yesterday was largely emotional. If you read it, I am half sorry 😉. I am sorry because in written form it came off as disrespectful and arrogant. On the other hand, it was based on conversations I have had with others in my generation. There are times when we REALLY do feel disillusioned and even disgusted with what we see on Facebook or hear from friends and relatives. However, upon reading everyone’s comments and thinking this stuff through some more, I have realized this frustration is misguided. It is a conversation of what is true that often positions itself as a generational divide. But it is not so cut and dry. I have rewritten in an attempt to bring out the original spirit and intent of my post yesterday.

There are two points I am making. One is that as a young adult, I don’t know who or what to believe and I have trouble trusting the other side. What is considered fact is scarily subjective. The other is that the consumption of information has changed drastically in the last 25 years and it has caused apparent rifts between generations. The internet has compounded the issue and makes it seem like the other generation is to blame.

The disconnect between our generations is wider than it’s ever been and I am concerned about it. To move forward as a nation we need each other. Right now we don’t have each other.

I have a confession to make. I don’t know who I can trust anymore. I have spent my whole life looking up to my elders, desiring to be like them and coming to them for guidance. I started getting suspicious of them when I saw generalized articles circulating about entitled millennials who didn’t sound much like the millennials I knew, but more broadly didn’t sound any different than many in any other generation. Through this past year, I have been reminded again and again, that there are many I can no longer solely look to for direction. Here’s why.

Many have become generally suspicious of facts. It makes sense, because so many are claiming truth. In retrospect, I can see this throughout my life. The distrust of science because it points to a different mythology of our planet than the Bible, then the idea of climate change because it was first popularized by Al Gore. Now the support of Trump even though he is so clearly a power hungry lier and swindler. Suddenly facts have been equated with “liberal media” and “fake news.”

It seems to me that many people are blatantly disregarding truth. Our suspicion for what is true has an unintended side-effect too. We don’t trust each other. We read each other’s posts flippantly and with disregard. We have a reality we are operating in, our ideas contradict the other, so we brush it off and chalk it up to age, inexperience, the wrong news source, lack of trials etc.. We are being foolish.

I am a seeker of truth through information and experience who has been shaped by the digital age. I have learned to consume content at an ever increasing rate. I have been trained to listen, read, watch and interpret information. I would not want it any other way. I love it. I love gathering information and sorting it out. I have been doing this for almost 30 years. I am native to this age of unprecedented information intake. This is all true for whatever it is or isn’t worth. As has been pointed out, the flip-side of this coin is the glut of information that dilutes the truth. My generation is wading through mountains of information, but without much needed experience and wisdom to interpret the data.

This is where it gets even more complicated. We need older generations to come along beside us, because they bring wells of experience and wisdom to the conversation. But since these older generations do not experience content consumption in the same way as us, it is hard to relate, even scary. We naturally question each other, where the information came from and how it fits into each other’s narratives.

Information comes at a clip none of us can keep up with. We aren’t sure how to tell the difference between what is true and what is false. Our traditional means of gathering information are worn out, limited and becoming untrustworthy. The TV and radio does not give us a full understanding of the facts any longer, it is an interpretation being fed. But we often don’t see passed it. We all shelter ourselves online by subscribing to sources that jibe with what we want to hear and see, often distancing ourselves from what is actually true. Our lack of understanding of the digital world we live in today is grand and we can only tangently grasp it. Because different generations interpret information differently, it often looks like the other generation is interpreting the content incorrectly. Without knowing it, we are alienating ourselves from each other.

Because information is so widely available to everyone, there are no longer arbiters of knowledge. The older generations used to be respected and understood as the truth-givers. Today, everything is questioned, what the older generation says is held up against all the information at our finger-tips. As each side stands behind it’s particular belief and cites their particular “fact source,” the less trustworthy we become to each other. We no longer see the other as credible.

Here is a recent example of what I am talking about. Someone recently posted that we need to stand behind Trump because he is our president, that his ban of people from seven countries is the price of freedom. I personally am indignant that anyone thinks this. It is madness to me. Yet it makes so much sense to many. I objected and called the executive order unconstitutional. To which I was asked what was unconstitutional about it? I can’t even explain how crazy that question seems to me. Are we operating on two different sets of facts? It is so obviously a ban on Muslims. A ban on people of a particular faith. Which is a violation of the 1st amendment! My insistence of this fact can be held up against a plethora of other sources, suddenly my proposal is not credible and respect is waning.

The access and distribution of information has been ever-shaped by the internet and the world in general is still trying to figure out how to use it for good. For people on both sides of an issue, it is difficult to sort through the information and arrive at a consensus. This problem of determining what is true and what is not amidst so much information compounds the feeling that one generation has a corner on ultimate understanding.

I can’t speak for older generations, but many in my generation often feel like many in the older generations are keeping information at arms length. I have personally spoken to many people that feel like their parents made a decision that was just plain wrong, dangerous and stupid in this past election. They feel like they can’t speak to the older generation, that their parents don’t hear them. We are losing each other, unfollowing and deleting. What little influence we have on each other is dissipating. If we want to continue to influence our collective conscience in the digital age, we have a lot of work to do.

In the original post I wrote out an emotional bit of exasperation here primarily centered around my belief that Trump is really bad for our country. I realize upon further reflection that just as I want to shake the other side by the shoulders and scream at them to wake up, so too it goes both ways. I really do believe that Trump is really bad for our country, but I could be completely wrong. I hope I am. If I am, I will be the first to admit it.

I am going to try to do a better job at listening. And I hope you will too. Trump is the president and we need each other more than ever.

A Confession Of A Millennial

Disclaimer: If this is addressed to you, you aren’t going to like it. I know you don’t trust me. But try as you might to learn something from this. The disconnect between our generations is wider than it’s ever been and I am concerned about it. To move forward as a nation we need each other. Right now we don’t have each other. Also, while this is addressed to a certain generation it is largely to help my peers who are having the same thoughts organize them. I understand that these broad generalizations don’t apply to everyone. Please search for the overarching narrative of engaging with truth and listening to one another regardless of age as you are reading. On another note, just as you have the power to unfollow me or unfriend me if you don’t like what I post, so also I have the power to delete your comment if I don’t like what you post.

Edit: clarified throughout that I do not think everyone in each of these “categories” is at fault.

Adults I grew up with – Generation X and Baby Boomers, I have a confession to make. I don’t know if I can trust you anymore. I have spent my whole life looking up to you, desiring to be like you and coming to you for guidance. I started getting suspicious when I saw generalized articles circulating about entitled millennials who didn’t sound much like the millennials I knew, but more broadly didn’t sound any different than many Xers or Boomers I knew. Through this past year, I have been reminded again and again, that I can no longer solely look to many of you for direction. Here’s why.

Many of you have become generally suspicious of facts. In retrospect, I can see this throughout my life. The distrust of science because it points to a different mythology of our planet than the Bible, then the idea of climate change because it was first popularized by Al Gore. Now the support of Trump even though he is so clearly a power hungry lier and swindler. Suddenly facts have been equated with “liberal media” and “fake news.”

I am a truth seeker, in fact you raised me to be that way, but from my perspective many of you are blatantly disregarding truth. Your suspicion for what is true has an unintended side-effect too. You don’t trust millennials. You read everything my generation posts or talks about flippantly and with disregard. You have a reality you are operating in, my generation’s ideas contradict that, so you brush it off and chalk it up to age, inexperience, lack of trials etc.. For those of you that this applies to, let me be the first to tell you. You are being foolish.

A little bit about myself.

Before I get started let me be frank, I grew up in a house of privilege that enabled me to do a lot of stuff. I am entitled in the sense that I have had a lot of opportunity in life and I want to continue living a life that enables that opportunity. I am aware of this. I am a white middle-class male in the US. If anyone should be happy about our current president, it should be me. I am aware of that.

I grew up in a house that valued the liberal arts. I went to and participated in music and thespian related activities from when I was a child to when I graduated. I loved reading, I played instruments, I played sports. I traveled all over the US and even to Guatemala. I went to college and double majored in Bible and Intercultural Studies. While I was there I volunteered helping refugees from Burma in Buffalo several semesters. I spent extended periods of time in Sierra Leone and Thailand. I literally almost died and by many accounts should be dead because of my experience in Thailand. When I graduated, I got married, I continued to volunteer with refugees, this time in Baltimore and with people from different continent than before, then I volunteered a whole summer to the International Rescue Committee in Baltimore and helped with refugee resettlement. From here I went to Seminary and earned a Masters in Theology – that is the study of God and what people think of God. I traveled to Thailand again. I worked at an Apple store, I worked at a church, I had a baby and now I work in information technology. I intentionally read multiple news sites and several tech blogs daily.

I am a seeker of truth through information and experience who has been shaped by the digital age. I have learned to consume content at an ever increasing rate. I have been trained to listen, read, watch and interpret information. I would not want it any other way. I love it. I love gathering information and sorting it out. I have been doing this for almost 30 years. I have more experiences than many in my own generation and I almost certainly have had more opportunities at my age than you did. I am native to this age of unprecedented information intake.

Guess what?

You’re not.

Information comes at a clip many of you can’t keep up with. You aren’t sure how to tell the difference between what is true and what is false. Your traditional means of gathering information are worn out, limited and becoming untrustworthy. The TV and radio does not give you a full understanding of the facts any longer, it is an interpretation being fed to you. But you see it as fact. Many of you shelter yourself online by subscribing to sources that jibe with what you hear and see, often distancing yourself from what is actually true. Your lack of understanding of the world we live in today is obvious to us, but invisible to you. Without knowing it, you are alienating yourself from my generation.

Because information is so widely available to everyone, you are no longer the arbiters of knowledge. The older generations used to be respected and understood as the truth givers. Today what the older generation says is held up against all the information at our finger tips. The more you stand behind your opinions as truth, the more you cite news sources like Breitbart, the more you ignore sources that give you more information, the less credible you become.

Here is a recent example of what I am talking about. Someone recently posted that we need to stand behind Trump because he is our president, that his ban of people from seven countries is the price of freedom. I am indignant that anyone thinks this. It is madness to me. Yet it makes so much sense to many of you. I objected and called the executive order unconstitutional. To which you asked what was unconstitutional about it? I can’t even explain how crazy that question seems to me. Are we operating on two different sets of facts? It is so obviously a ban on Muslims. A ban on people of a particular faith. Which is a violation of the 1st amendment! Oh, but you say it’s not to ban people of a particular faith, it’s to protect our country from bad people and Obama’s administration itself listed these 7 countries as bad ones (so now we trust Obama??). That is such bull and out of respect for you I won’t believe that you actually think that. This was a ban on Muslims. How do I know? Because I have read countless articles on the topic in the last 4 days and have brought all the corroborating evidence together to logically deduce that this is exactly what it is. Let’s think back to the campaign trail. Trump said he wanted to ban Muslims. This weekend Rudy Giuliani was quoted as saying Trump asked him how to make a Muslim ban legal. There is a provision in the order for minority religions!!! So it’s a ban on everyone from a majority Muslim country except non-Muslims! That is in the order, it’s not fake news, it’s not conjecture. That IS WHAT IS in the order. To say that this isn’t unconstitutional is to be in denial. And this is just one way the executive order blurs the line of constitutionality.

The access and distribution of information has been ever-shaped by the internet and the older generations are no longer the experts. My generation wants to look up to you, we know you have experience and wisdom, but as long as you keep information at arms length, we cannot. YOU have the ability to influence our generation, but only if you learn to gather the facts and help us interpret them. Right now you are losing us and the generation coming after us. Everyday we are unfollowing you on Facebook or deleting you altogether. What little influence you have left is dissipating. If you want to continue being a part of the shaping of our conscience you have a lot of work to do.

I just want to take many of you by the shoulders and shake you, yelling “Wake up! Don’t you see what you’re doing???” You are losing a generation, or we are losing you. You need to figure out how to play in today’s world. Our nation’s direction depends on it. I am lamenting that many of you have an inability or are refusing to see the destruction your lack of investigation, curiosity and intellectual engagement is causing. The writing has been on the wall for months, the policies and ideologies of Trump and his inner-circle WILL bring chaos on our nation. But many of you don’t see it. Unfortunately I don’t think you will see it until everything you hold dear  comes crashing down. For many the pinnacle of your freedom is your ability to practice your religion and here we are while the constitutional right is being ripped away and you don’t seem to be the wiser. For others your political agenda is shaped by the pro-life movement. Well I have bad news for you. Historically speaking, as Trump enacts all he says he’s going to and takes away all the say’s he’s going to, abortion percentages are going to go up. More babies are going to die and you don’t seem to be the wiser. Trump is systematically eliminating positions that provide check and accountability and inserting people with extreme views and unquestioning loyalty and you don’t seem to be the wiser. Trump is leading like a dictator, like the ones he praised during his campaign and you don’t seem to be the wiser. Trump continues to lie with every word that comes out of his mouth and your rights and opportunities will only be minded if they fit in with his plan of money and power.

We are trying to warn you, we are screaming kicking and yelling. Trump is not good, Trump is not good. Trump is leading our country to destruction! But you won’t hear it. If you won’t hear us – the ones that can actually consume the information – and help us interpret these vast vaults of knowledge, then we won’t hear you.

To those of you who I am speaking, please hear us, it’s the 21st century, Trump is the president and we need you more than ever.

Trump Admires Totalitarian Leaders

Trump has verbally admired the leadership styles of Putin, Kim John Un, Bashar al-Assad, Gaddafi, Hussein and Erdogan. In addition, Duterte couldn’t be much happier with the results. These leaders have been and are currently behind some of the worst human rights violations in recent history. This terrifies me.

From Human Rights Watch: “The stakes are high. Trump’s victory has been hailed by authoritarian leaders around the world, including Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, as well as by populist and nationalist parties in Europe that are making electoral gains on racist, xenophobic, and anti-immigrant political platforms similar to Trump’s. Their rise marks a serious and growing political trend that threatens core human right principles around the globe.

Evidence over decades shows us where this politics leads: when a society supports curtailing rights for some people — refugees, minorities, women, the disabled — governments will use this as an excuse, over time, to diminish everyone’s rights and overturn the rule of law. Once surrendered, rights and the rule of law are hard to restore.”

The System Failed US

The System Failed US (See what I did there?)

My obligatory 2016 election results post.

Over the last few days I have seen countless reactions to our country’s decision. Because of my age, these have been primarily despondent. Some are sad, some are mad and all are confused. So I have been asking myself, where did we go wrong?

My brother sent me this interactive map that shows how different demographics of our country were predicted to vote. This link displays how my generation probably voted: https://www.surveymonkey.com/elections/map…

The map speaks for itself and explains the tone of my Facebook feed. I toggled through the demographics and found that almost every selection predicted a Clinton victory. In increasing order the demographics that leaned towards a Trump victory were white, men, who do not have a college degree over the age of 35 and equally so, white evangelicals. Combine these variables and you have almost 100 percent support for Trump.

My generation is overwhelmingly left leaning politically. That’s just a fact, but based on the results of the election I have to assume that the above demographics were better represented than the others, namely millennials. My generation did not show up for this election. Last year we surpassed the number of baby boomers at over 75 million. If we had been a part of this, there would have been no competition. So what happened, where did we go wrong?

Here was my thought process: Let’s be honest, WE didn’t go wrong. If Trump hadn’t won, that means Clinton would have. Would that really have been any less terrifying? Yes, she would have represented our political values better than Trump, but c’mon she is Hillary Clinton! It’s great that we would have had a woman president, but that doesn’t change that she is Hillary Clinton. The Clintons seem to have a knack for living in the grey; it would seem taking advantage of their position to gain more power and become more wealthy at any cost. Mysterious deaths, hidden speeches, deleted emails, conflicts of interest and a DNC scheme to push Sanders out of the race, if nothing else give us anxiety. We don’t want a president who has spent her political career in shadows for her own gain anymore than we want a president who probably spends more time looking in the mirror than thinking about what he’s going to say next.

Therein lies the primary problem. We didn’t show up, because we didn’t like Hillary either. Think back to 2008. We LOVED Obama. It was the first time I could vote and I couldn’t get my absentee ballot in the mail soon enough. Obama took 66% of my generation’s vote, which in 2008 was a much smaller number and it still had an impact on the election. It is predicted that this time around, far less millennials voted and among the ones that did, Clinton took only around 50% of the vote. We didn’t show up because we didn’t feel represented or inspired. There was no one on the ballot that stood for what we stand for. Those of us who voted third party, couldn’t in good conscience vote for either so felt cornered into casting a vote we knew wouldn’t matter. Most of us that did vote for Clinton did it at the expense of some important values simply to prevent a nationalist demagogue who is catering to the dark side of our nation’s collective conscience from gaining power. Most of us weren’t voting for Hillary, we were voting against Donald.

Then I thought, okay this really goes back to the primaries. If you didn’t already know, only a fraction of the voting population decided who the two main party’s candidates would be. Only around 28% of eligible voters in fact. That means approximately 14% for each party. The two top candidates received about half those votes. So for each party 7% of our nation ultimately decided who would be the two main candidates. I didn’t vote in the primaries and I know few people my age did. So was this where we went wrong? My generation liked Sanders, but we didn’t get out on the day that it mattered. Our generation is 25% of our nation. We could have made sure Sanders was our candidate. Well maybe we could have. The whole DNC favoring Clinton thing may have put a stop to that.

But then I thought, well he was a self-proclaimed democratic-SOCIALIST. While we liked him more than Clinton, he may have been a little too liberal for even a millennial. Certainly for some. Even he wouldn’t have had the wide ranging support our current president had. So we didn’t even go wrong in the primaries. We didn’t have anyone to be excited about then either.

So where did we go wrong?

We didn’t. From the beginning there has been no one in this race that has represented the political values of our generation. We represent a quarter of the eligible voters in this country, yet our governing system is out of touch with who we are. We want an upstanding individual who’s character our kids can aspire to. We want someone who cares for our country more than him or herself. Just to name a few, we want someone who values equality regardless of race, color, nationality, gender or sex; we want someone who cares about the environment and our digital privacy; we want someone who builds bridges and sees value in our diversity; we want someone who values the poor more than our military capabilities; we want someone who doesn’t just talk about understanding our values, but someone who knows our values; we want someone who reflects who we are.

If this election cycle demonstrates nothing else, it shows us we are not willing to settle for less. If you don’t represent us, we will either vote for someone who does, even if they don’t have a chance, or we will abstain completely. No one in my generation is old enough to run for president, but in four years we will be and apparently you don’t have to have any experience in politics or military to become our political and military head. So thanks for setting that precedent America.

No matter what Trump’s presidency does to our country, in four years we can forge a new destiny for the future.

#millennialforpresident2020

Why a Christian Can’t Vote for Trump. A Theological Exposition

Why a Christian can’t vote for Trump. A Theological Exposition.

Anyone who is friends with me knows that I am not a fan of Donald Trump and more specifically the idea that people who claim to follow Jesus are supporting him or would support him if he is the only Republican choice. The reasoning behind my exasperation about the situation is complex. However I don’t think it needs to be. I think the simple reasons for Christians to boycott the potential GOP nominee are pretty much self-evident from reading Scripture. That is the person of Trump, his values, do not reflect those of Jesus outlined in the gospels or of love as outlined by Paul.

However for many, this isn’t good enough.

So in this post I will attempt to briefly explain the more complex answer of my position. The Christians who support Trump might say something like, “we aren’t electing a pastor” (So the person who runs and represents our country shouldn’t be expected to live a life worthy of imitation? I don’t really get that reasoning, but I digress). The people making this argument are unwittingly getting at the core of the disagreement we are seeing between Christians who support Trump and those who don’t. Which is that we are arguing about two different things. Those who support Trump are arguing that if he is the republican nominee, he is still better than a democratic one since he claims (purports?) that he will uphold republican values. Those who don’t support Trump are coming from the angle that even while they prefer the republican side of things, they can’t vote for someone who is so morally deprived. One side is arguing about politics and choosing to ignore the honor we traditionally expect our presidential candidates to uphold. The other side is arguing about the honor we expect our presidential candidates to uphold and choosing to ignore the politics. Therefore there is no common ground and we are arguing in circles continually in disbelief that the other side just doesn’t get it. I’m pretty sure two Christian republicans one who supports Trump and one who doesn’t, actually agree on both facts. Trump says he will lead the country down a republican path. Trump is a scumbag. So the argument is really just about whether it matters that he is a scumbag. (Although it is funny how some people will vote for Trump because he stands for republican values, but they won’t vote for Hillary because she is a liar…illustrating this politic/values tension).

Now to the Theologizing.

The Bible was not written in a context of American politics or in a system where average people’s opinions about the rulers mattered at all. In fact the few passages we have about the relationship between Jesus/subsequent followers and the rulers/government do not offer us much guidance for our current political situation (they do offer some guidance in that God is ultimately in charge and we should follow the laws of the government put in place, Rom. 13, Acts 4:18-21, 1 Peter 2:13-17). Scripture does not outline what we should expect from our secular ruler aside from him/her being in power (Rom. 13) and seems to imply that Christians should only concern themselves with political affairs as much as they needed in order to continue in their lives callings. If we go back to the Old Testament we see that God would have been much happier with a Theocracy than the system of kings put into place by his people (1 Sam. 8:7). Again that’s not going to work for this conversation, the context in which the Bible was written just doesn’t speak overtly to our current political system. One simple way to deal with this problem is basically just to ignore Scripture when talking about politics and ignore politics when talking about Scripture. One reason this may have worked fine until now is because every single elected president has been associated with some form of Christianity. We haven’t needed to bring a person’s character into question before now, because it was always assumed it would be modeled after the Bible (whether that was true after election is another story).

In order to determine why I value honor/Christ-like character over political affiliation we really need to get down to what it means to be a Christian. I believe that a person who follows Jesus has two primary purposes in life. One, to bring glory to God (Eph. 3:21) and two, to spread the gospel of Jesus (Matt. 28:19-20, Acts 1:8, Matt. 5). I believe this is why humans were created, these are our express purposes. So this means in all the choices we make and in everything we do these questions ought to be at the forefront of our mind. How is this bringing glory to God, how is this spreading the gospel? These two things are often related as spreading the gospel brings glory to God. What happens when we ask this question when it comes to voting in the US election? What conclusions do we come to when asking this question about each candidate or about the prospect of not voting?

By putting my vote behind a candidate – my stamp of approval – I need to be able to explain how these two God-given purposes are being accomplished. I just don’t see how I can with good conscience say that God is receiving glory or that the gospel is spread by voting for either of the leading candidates. To explain why, let me define how I understand the gospel of Jesus. The gospel of Jesus is not just a confession of faith. Yes, it is that, it is about believing that Jesus is the son of God, that we are sinners and that he made recompose for those sins, but it’s not just about this (Rom. 3:23, 3:10-18, 6:23, 5:8, 10:9, 10:13, John 3:16, 11:25-27). It’s a way of life that points to a more whole future (James 2:22). The gospel of Jesus is the ability to recognize that God is breaking into the fabric of our world and simultaneously beckoning us towards a better world. The gospel calls us to begin drudging through the imperfections of our world to this more complete world by beginning to live life as it should be (John 10:10). Just as Abraham and his descendants were purposed to bless nations, so the followers of Jesus are charged with blessing the world by living as Christ instructs (Matt 5-7). Not just by telling people about the person of Jesus and soliciting professions of faith, but by living lives the imitate Jesus (Galatians 5:1, Col. 1:15). Lives that bring peace, healing and love. The gospel of Jesus is that he came to his world with a salvific message of eternal life and intimacy with God, but it doesn’t stop there. This propels his followers into a vibrant and transformative way of life. One that seeks every opportunity to build people up, enable the downtrodden and pick up the least of these (Matt. 25). This way of life breaks down barriers of difference and recognizes the innate made-in-God’s-imageness contained in us all (Genesis 1:26-27). This gospel does not discriminate between male and female, Jew and gentile, it doesn’t hold men above women, American above Mexican or Middle Eastern, well-bodied above handicapped, rich above poor, republican above democrat (Gal. 3:28). Those who follow Jesus do everything in their power to spread this gospel and to bring glory to God.

As far as I can tell Trump is the antithesis of this gospel. Even the more limited definition of the gospel is contradicted by Trump. In order to be a Christian you must recognize that you are a sinner and ask for forgiveness, but Trump says he doesn’t have to do that. The core teaching of the church and scripture on what it means to follow Jesus, the meaning of faith, is purported by Trump to be false. But in my expanded understanding of the gospel, it’s just as bad. Trump sees the differences between people as opportunities to exploit. He stokes a fire of difference, of us verse them to fuel his campaign. He runs on rhetoric of hate. He encourages people at rallies to fight and says he will pay legal bills (will believe that when I see it). He is suspected to have worked with criminals on projects multiple times in the past. He has a record of breaking laws. He is sexually promiscuous and openly engages in course language. As far as I can tell Trump does not live a life that reflects the gospel in literally any way.

If my purpose in life is to spread the gospel and bring glory to God, how is putting my vote behind Trump accomplishing this?

The president of the United States is unequivocally the most powerful person in the world. Trump may not be a pastor, but upon election he has the power to influence and impact 7 billion people. He has the ability to represent the US in a way that reflects the gospel thus spreading it through the world or to inhibit the gospel. The fact is, the US is seen as a Christian nation. Living here we all know that’s not true, but that is the reputation. That reputation isn’t going to change when Trump is elected. Trump says he is a Christian after all. What will change is what it means to be a Christian. The gospel Trump represents will become the new gospel and it is one of hate and oppression. There is no other way to spin it. Trump DOES NOT represent the gospel of Jesus. Therefore as a Christian I cannot put a vote behind him. My exclusive purpose on this earth is to bring glory to God and spread the gospel of Jesus. Trump only brings glory to himself and spreads his own gospel. Therefore I in fact believe that I would be sinning if I were to vote for him. Based on everything I said, I believe you would be too.

To be clear I am not advocating for you not to vote. We may be Christian first, but we are also American. Countless lives have been risked and taken to safeguard our freedom. To not participate in the very system that secures that freedom is both foolish and disrespectful to those who have gone before. Voting is not an obligation or a responsibility, but for the sake of our continued freedom, it should be a principle. So please vote. A fair warning though, if you decide to vote based at all on what you just read, you will be writing in.

Privacy and Torture

I thought it was interesting that in addition to the frankly frightening Apple/FBI debacle, this is also a day that Trump again stated that he thinks water-boarding isn’t that bad and that more extreme torture tactics should be used against terrorists.

These issues are closely related, but only one is getting crazy national attention. The government wants to brute force break an iPhone’s security system down so they can see what’s on the inside in the name of national security. The problem is, this action sets precedent for governments worldwide to easily spy on their people. Most have a knee-jerk reaction to this government overreach. The balance is not equal. National US security is not equal to a billion+ IOS users lack of security.

We don’t like this because it could potentially effect us.

Torture (aside from being shown to produce inaccurate results), works in much the same way. The government uses brute force to break down a person’s will until he/she admits to a crime or communicates information. The scale here is national security and human dignity/honor (of both the tortured and the torturer and even the broader community of both).

Many of us don’t have a knee-jerk reaction to torture though. It’s crazy to compare/contrast the two. The implications of torture seem so much more grave. But it does not get nearly as much attention.

Probably because it doesn’t impact us personally.

In my opinion, we as a people should not stoop down to levels of torture in the name of national security. We have more honor than that.

As an aside, If you think the government should be able to have access to all of our digital data and that torture is okay. Then Trump is your candidate.

Trump Deals

Heard this story about Egypt regulating “tourist marriage.” this morning. For those who can’t read between the lines here, this is a sanitized name for sex tourism. Basically a foreigner can come to Egypt and pay (buy) a woman or girl to be his “wife” for a couple months at a minimum price of $6400. This isn’t unique to Egypt, this also at least happens in Thailand (but not regulated). I would imagine it happens everywhere. Anyway, obviously the last thing we want is our government regulating sex trafficking. I couldn’t help but think about the ramifications of Trump becoming president. He would be the first president to openly participate in the sex industry (as he owns strip clubs). Just wonder what other “deals” Trump would be open to in order to make America’s economy better.
http://www.npr.org/sections/parallels/2016/02/01/463708687/does-egypts-law-protect-short-term-brides-or-formalize-trafficking

I am Tired of Christians who are Afraid

This the third post in my series, “I am Tired of Christians.” In my first post I summed up very generally a bunch of frustrations I have with Christians. I say “Christians” as opposed to “some Christians” because I mean it generally. Me, you and the other guy/gal are thinking, talking and living in ways that are just plain frustrating to me. This isn’t because I think there is one “right” way to live or because I feel like the world has just “drifted” so far from God, but because I truly believe that in many ways, the way that Christians (you and me) think, talk and live is presenting a picture of a weak god and stripping the power and glory away from the gospel. You can read first post here and the second one here.

I am Tired of Christians who are Afraid

It seems to me like Christians rarely talk about Jesus. It seems to me like some Christians blend in with everyone else and that most Christians don’t talk about issues that matter (unless they are tied to politics, more on that in a future post). It seems to me like some Christians hide behind their Biblical values in order to avoid discussing the topics the rest of society is talking about while others operate under the illusion that society at large gives a damn about what the Bible says.

This all boils down to fear.

We are afraid because we don’t really know what we believe and we don’t trust that the one we call almighty will actually come through. We spend our time focusing on the pleasures of this world instead of investing in things from above. We don’t spend much time thinking about God, let alone reading  Scripture or talking to God. Besides that, we don’t have communities we can go to, to talk about our questions. Because of our lack of knowledge about what we believe, Christians are afraid of two things:

First we are afraid of what other Christians are going to think of what we say or do. Second, we are afraid that the world won’t like what we have to say or will ask questions that we cannot answer. This fear that Christians have, the fear of man, neutralizes us. It makes us boring. There is nothing radical or special about us because we choose to be silent and blend in. Our paralyzing fear inhibits not only the gospel from being communicated, but from existing in our world at all. We are living lives of sinful fear that do not communicate the gospel. And I am tired of it.

You wouldn’t be boring and the gospel would become more attractive if you actually knew what you were talking about. 1 Peter 3:15 says we should always be ready to give reasons for why we have hope, why we believe. But many of us can’t do it. You know you believe that Jesus rose from the dead, but if someone asked you how you can really know it’s true, since yunno, it’s scientifically impossible for someone to be revived after three days of death, you may revert to the stock answer, “well…it takes faith.”

What a BS and unattractive answer.

The answer to that question can be so much more robust. To name a few alternative answers, how about all the Old Testament prophesies that were fulfilled by Jesus, the fact that Science is literally irrelevant to a God who you believe created science, or the corroboration of evidence as revealed in the New Testament and extra-Biblical literature of antiquity? I am tired of Christians who believe what they believe, because they believe, but can’t back it up. It’s not Biblical and it makes our religion look shallow. How many of us would gravitate towards our occupations or majors in college if we realized that all of the respected scholars in our desired field, really had no idea about why they believed what they were talking about, but were just parroting what they were taught?

Another equally and I believe often overlooked point about Christians (by Christians), is we believe in God. Literally the most powerful being in all existence both physical and spiritual. We say that God created everything we know, and could end everything we know in an instant. We say that God is all powerful and all knowing. We say that our God is able to personally get behind anyone who calls upon God’s name. And yet, we are afraid. Do you really believe what I wrote above? If you do, why are you afraid? If you are inclined to think or say “it’s not that easy” or “it takes time,” then you should probably bring your belief into question. It’s okay to have questions about God, but we need to recognize that these are the claims of Christianity. When we say we are Christians, we are saying we believe these claims. If you believe they are true, then we need to stop acting like they aren’t. Communicate your belief in God and what Jesus has done by the things you say and the things you do. It’s time to put your money where you mouth is.

If you wanted to join the circus, but then learned that your fellow trapeze artists didn’t actually think they were going to catch you every time and that a death every now and then was part of the job, then you would not choose to join said troupe. In the same way, when those who don’t follow Jesus see with their eyes and hear with their ears that those who make all these extravagant claims about their God, don’t actually live lives that testify to these beliefs, they will inevitably walk away. This is why I am being so harsh, this is why I am saying it’s time to put our money where our mouths are. Because it is imperative to the belief of others that we do so.

Your fear, lack of knowledge and lack of faith are literally deterring people from seeing and hearing the gospel. It is driving people away. People don’t want a sanitized God who can’t actually do anything. They want a God that they can actually see working in the world – in your lives. A common belief I have read and heard is that religious people believe in a higher power because they aren’t strong enough or because they need a crutch. And no wonder this is thought about us, because while we talk God up, we act like God has no power, these people don’t see God work and so they equate God to an inanimate object. The way we live silences the power of God and thus the gospel. I am tired of it.

What Now?

In sum, I think Christians don’t live and talk in a way that reflects the gospel of an all-powerful God because we don’t know how to defend our faith if the topic comes up. It’s easier to live in a way that avoids the topic all together. After all, we believe WE are saved whether we tell others about Jesus or not.

So what do we do about it? A few suggestions, first I think we need to take time to investigate what we believe. Reading books like The Reason for God or The Case for Christ are a great place to start. Second, we need to humbly admit, that the claims about our God are actually hard to believe. Third, we need to engage those we call brothers and sisters in Christ with humility and acceptance when we think their beliefs or lifestyles are out of line. In this way we can create communities where it’s okay to ask the hard questions and talk about our doubts.

What do you think. How can we work towards eradicating our fear about living in a way that reflects what we say we believe about God? Join the conversation below.

Thanks for reading!

I am Tired of Silent Christians & Loud Christians

In my first post in this series I summed up very generally a bunch of frustrations I have with Christians. I say “Christians” as opposed to “some Christians” because I mean it generally. Me, you and the other guy/gal are thinking, talking and living in ways that are just plain frustrating to me. This isn’t because I think there is one “right” way to live or because I feel like the world has just “drifted” so far from God, but because I truly believe that in many ways, the way that Christians (you and me) think, talk and live is presenting a picture of a weak god and stripping the power and glory away from the gospel. I would encourage you to go and read the first post in full here before reading this one.

Excerpt from the first post: “There has been a major decline in the number of people who follow Jesus in the U.S. over the last several decades. While we know that this is the case, I don’t think many of us have taken any significant amount of time to think about why this is. So here’s what I think. Belief in Jesus isn’t declining in the U.S. because people are exploring what it means to be human and trying out and learning new things. Belief in Jesus is declining, because the gospel that Christians present is diluted and therefore no longer awesome. We do not live our faith in a way that is attractive. For most people who don’t follow Jesus, there is literally nothing about being a Christian that sounds appealing. For others, there may be some good stuff, but the bad stuff still out-weighs the good. In all the things we think, say and do (good and bad), Christians are usually ill-equipped to engage in dialogue about them. We either believe the wrong thing, or we don’t really know why we believe the right thing. In either case, it makes our stances on issues incredibly unattractive, misguided and ultimately inconsistent. This needs to be corrected.

Over the next several posts, I will write out my thoughts on topics I believe are driving people away from the church. We are to blame for the decline of followers of Jesus in the U.S. and you need to understand, accept and confess that. If you call yourself a follower of Jesus, then your mission in life is to be used by God to help other people become followers of Jesus too. Hopefully the issues I enumerate will spur introspection so that we can better present the gospel.”

One such issue I touched on in the first post is the admission that there are tensions in the Christian faith (e.g. Scripture and Science) and instead of ignoring these tensions, refusing to argue on the basis that the opponent is just wrong or taking the easy way out and saying it just takes faith, we need to have better answers. I think there are better answers, but that Christians don’t usually know them. We need to be better at answering questions related to tensions about our faith (go back and read the post for more tensions)(p.s. if you want me to write about what I think these better answers are in another post, please tell me in the comment section).

With this in mind I continue in this post to describe things I see Christians thinking, saying and doing that turn people off to the idea of following Jesus.

I am Tired of Silent Christians

Statistically 70% of young Christians are leaving the church after high school. 70% PERCENT. That’s really really really bad. Yes a majority of these return to the church when they have kids, but the trends are still not in favor of the gospel. I could write a book about why I think this is, but the topics I will address in the coming posts, I believe are major reasons why.

Since everyone has all the information of the world in the palms of their hands, people are asking countless questions about God and life, yet Christians often don’t join the conversation. I suspect that one main reason why is because we are also pondering these questions and so don’t want to come off as ignorant about what we believe. The reality however, is that we should be the most equipped to answer life’s hardest questions, (at least that’s what someone who doesn’t follow Jesus may expect)(1 Peter 3:15). We claim to have a personal relationship with the God of the universe and yet in many cases we fall silent.

As I said above, I believe Christians are the primary reason for the mass exodus of Western people from the church. We lack faith in the power of God and so often live in ways that do not reflect our words. For example, we say that the “battle is already won,” light has prevailed over darkness, yet we have a tendency to act like we are in competition with secularism, as if good is being smothered by darkness. It is inconsistencies like this, that make the gospel and Christian belief seem farcical and repugnant to the non-Christian. People aren’t leaving the church because they are asking the hard questions about life and engaging in the pleasures of the world. They are leaving the church because they are not seeing or hearing compelling reasons to stay in the church. They are leaving the church because the primary conduits of grace and truth that God placed on the earth – Christians – aren’t engaging in the hard conversations. Christians haven’t taken the time to think through the issues, don’t know how to respond and are silent. Christians are not giving appealing answers. We need to begin to stand behind what we believe, but first we need to know why we stand behind what we believe, then we need to speak into hard issues with grace and truth. People are leaving the church or staying away from the church because we don’t and I am tired of it.

I am Tired of Christians who Prioritize the Wrong Stuff

Modern orthodox Christian thought is entrenched in black and white, right and wrong. Determine the right way to live based on Biblical principles, then live by and evangelize these principles. Christians of the 20th century (sorry mom) will fight to the death about how someone should or shouldn’t be living. But this totally misses the point of Jesus and robs the gospel of it’s power. I don’t think Christians should be making decisions based on if they are right and wrong, but on if they are accomplishing the very purpose we were put on earth. We should be asking the question: does this action or do these words communicate the good news of Jesus? To clarify, I am not saying one should not strive to live righteous and holy, I believe that by asking the aforementioned question we will naturally choose to live righteous and holy lives. The decision to live in a righteous and holy way should not be made for the sake of righteousness and holiness, but for the sake of spreading the good news of Jesus.

As Christians we should be prioritizing the spreading of the good news, not the spreading of our opinions, for example on if it’s okay to get drunk or to have sex before marriage. We should only be speaking to issues like these in one of two cases: if there is an opportunity to relate to and communicate the gospel (that we are all sinners and need Jesus) with someone who has expressed interest in our personal convictions and beliefs or if we are speaking to someone who claims to follow Jesus. Also we actually need to do this. We need to speak into fellow followers’ of Jesus lives who are living in a way that is contrary to Biblical text and we need to share the gospel with those who will be receptive. If we continue to be silent about how people in the church are living because we don’t want to be labeled a hypocrite, are afraid, feel like we don’t have authority or don’t want to jeopardize a friendship, then the church will continue to become less like God created it to be. If a follower of Jesus tells you that you have no right telling him/her how to live because of the way you live, admit that they are right, but reinforce that they still need to shape up. If we all live in silence towards each other, then no one will ever correct anyone. We are all sinners in need of a savior and need to exhort one another towards living like Jesus regardless (1 Corinthians 5:9-12)(I digress).

Getting caught up in issues about the perceived morality of the world at large is a distraction and deters readers and friends who don’t follow Jesus from considering it further. Following Jesus isn’t solely about living by a set of principles, but about recognizing how broken we are while living in grace. It’s about realizing that no matter how hard we try, without God, we are just as far from God as the most evil person you can think of. When we prioritize the wrong stuff, whether on social media, while picketing, in political discussion, or any other way Christians communicate their opinions, we are blatantly ignoring Scriptural admonitions on numerous accounts and therefore often presenting a belief system that isn’t Biblical and ultimately isn’t appealing to non-Christians.

Here is an example. After a law is passed that say, legalizes gay marriage, when a Christian posts a link to said promulgation with a note that says something like, “praying for our nation,” that Christian is implying that his/her belief system (which is Christian) understands that gay people (as opposed to adulterous people or lying people or any other kind of person that is legally allowed to do things we classify as sin according to Scripture) are especially in need of prayer (and perhaps have no hope as their sin is an abomination), or worse that this decision is a sign that our WHOLE country’s morality is in decline. When someone posts something like this, like it or not, he/she is inadvertently pontificating judgement on non-Christians.

Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 5:12, “For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside.”  It is not a Christian’s job to judge those outside the church. By writing such a “harmless” statement in this context, the writer is acting opposite to Paul’s instruction (albeit probably unknowingly). We also know from Scripture that our purpose here on earth is to continue the mission of Jesus – to live and speak a message of love, grace and forgiveness. If we made a habit of posting regularly on Facebook that we believe God is real and moving in our world to make it a better place and we did this in a way that is unrelated to these controversial issues, how much more effective would we be? What is more attractive to someone who doesn’t follow Jesus, is it someone who is truly convinced that following Jesus and receiving purpose makes their life better, or someone who is determined to convince the world that his/her set of morals are the best and that everyone should live by them? If we insist on posting on social media about our religious convictions, (#ifyouarelikeme) then for the sake of the gospel, we must begin to write in a way that an unsuspecting non-Christian can appreciate.

The gospel isn’t about morals. It’s about being in relationship with God no matter what you’ve done or how you live. Living “rightly” or according to Scriptural principles and rules is great (as it communicates who God is) but, comes second. It comes naturally. It is a response to the gospel and powered by the Spirit. We often have it backwards. We want to start with living right, then blame it on the gospel. No, we try to live right because of the gospel (1 John 4:7-21).

When we prioritize the wrong stuff, we are not presenting the gospel. When we prioritize the wrong stuff, we are not telling the world about a God me or a non-Christian would want to follow. When we prioritize the wrong stuff, we are distracting the world from the beautiful picture of the gospel and so they want nothing to do with it. I am tired of it.

What Now?

In sum, I think Christians are often silent about all the things that DO matter and loud about all the things that DON’T matter. We are silent about the things that do matter because we are afraid or just haven’t put the time into considering how to speak about them. We are loud about all the things that don’t matter because we forget that people who don’t follow Jesus don’t have any reason to live as the Bible teaches. We also do not realize that ideals about right living based on religious convictions naturally sound condenscending.

So what do we do about it? A few suggestions, first I think it is good to recognize that we all struggle with this. Second, we need to start spending time learning about who God is and what more satisfying answers are instead of watching the latest season of House of Cards. Third, we need to start asking the question “how will this help spread the gospel of Jesus,” before we make ANY decision.

I think we can get better at this. What do you think, how else can we be better at this? Feel free to leave comments and links to social media posts, news articles or blog posts where you have seen Christians address the questions that DO matter well. If you have ever had a bad experience or seen something that detracts from the gospel also, please share.

Sorry it has taken me so long to get this second post up. There is still much more to come!

Thanks for reading!

I am Tired of Christians

I am Tired of Christians

Because of all the talk and confusion surrounding first Caitlyn Jenner and then the Supreme Court Decision, I was considering writing an extensive theological piece on gender and sexual identity. I will still probably do it, because I think my background and thoughts give me a unique and valid perspective that I have not seen posted or shared on Facebook. But honestly, I feel like I need to rant first. I feel like I need to vent to everyone who is willing to read how frustrated I am with Christians right now. In Acts 15:19-21, it is recorded that the apostles came together to talk about whether or not non-Jewish believers should follow the Mosaic Law. They ultimately decided that there were a few principles that can be drawn out of the law, that gentile believers should be expected to follow, but that the rest of the law was unnecessary and actually burdensome to the gospel. Here are the verses:

“So here is my decision: We’re not going to unnecessarily burden non-Jewish people who turn to the Master. We’ll write them a letter and tell them, ‘Be careful to not get involved in activities connected with idols, to guard the morality of sex and marriage, to not serve food offensive to Jewish Christians—blood, for instance.’ This is basic wisdom from Moses, preached and honored for centuries now in city after city as we have met and kept the Sabbath.” (MSG)

In the same way there are many modern day Christian traditions, practices and ideas that we adhere to that are simply not part of the gospel. I am frustrated because some of these traditions, practices and ideas are literally preventing us from living and sharing the gospel well. In fact, personally, as someone who grew up in the church and has never known anything different, I believe it is only by the Grace of Jesus that I believe. Because, it certainly isn’t because of the convoluted and mired Christianity of which I have been part (you will see what I mean in my following points). We should do what we can to identify these unnecessary burdensome traditions, practices and ideas, then purge them so that the gospel will reflect it’s original truth. In this way it’s attractiveness and appeal will be restored.

It is of utmost importance that the version of the gospel we present is rooted in truth; it could mean the difference between someone entering into a relationship with Jesus or not. While I believe that the Holy Spirit is always working in the hearts and minds of people, I also believe that those who don’t believe in God, don’t see God. I mean, those who don’t believe in a higher power will not attribute coincidences or miracles to a higher power as I do. Therefore, WE are the picture of God that people see. If this picture of God is covered in half-truths and Christian baggage, then no one will want to follow the one we call God. People followed Jesus because he was awesome. If we still want people to follow Jesus, then we need to be awesome too or at least know why and communicate why it is so awesome to follow Jesus.

There has been a major decline in the number of people who follow Jesus in the U.S. over the last several decades. While we know that this is the case, I don’t think many of us have taken any significant amount of time to think about why this is. So here’s what I think. Belief in Jesus isn’t declining in the U.S. because people are exploring what it means to be human and trying out and learning new things. Belief in Jesus is declining, because the gospel that Christians present is diluted and therefore no longer awesome. We do not live our faith in a way that is attractive. For most people who don’t follow Jesus, there is literally nothing about being a Christian that sounds appealing. For others, there may be some good stuff, but the bad stuff still out-weighs the good. In all the things we think, say and do (good and bad), Christians are usually ill-equipped to engage in dialogue about them. We either believe the wrong thing, or we don’t really know why we believe the right thing. In either case, it makes our stances on issues incredibly unattractive, misguided and ultimately inconsistent. This needs to be corrected.

Over the next several posts, I will write out my thoughts on topics I believe are driving people away from the church. We are to blame for the decline of followers of Jesus in the U.S. and you need to understand, accept and confess that. If you call yourself a follower of Jesus, then your mission in life is to be used by God to help other people become followers of Jesus too. Hopefully the issues I enumerate will spur introspection so that we can better present the gospel in a way that is not unnecessarily burdensome to those who don’t follow Jesus yet. No one who says they follow Jesus gets off the hook here. I am tired of so many things that American Christians do and say because they are detracting from our ability to communicate the gospel well (or at all). I mean this regardless of your background or slant. I am tired of it.

So let’s get started.

I am tired of ignorant Christians. Those of you who have never invested time reading Scripture, I’m talking to you. Those of you who have never taken time to explore other revelations from God, I am talking to you. Those of you who actually believe God has only revealed himself clearly in the Bible, I am talking to you. Those of you who have never spent time trying to understand what it’s like to be in “their” shoes, I am talking to you. Those of you who have never explored how God has revealed himself through people that are different than you, I am talking to you. I am tired of Christians who have never struggled with their faith and determined both theologically and logically that they believe the right stuff. I am tired of those brought up in church and believe what they believe, simply because they believe it. I mean those who grew up in churches where justice was emphasized and those who grew up in churches where personal sanctification was emphasized. I am tired of Christians who are so complacent with what they know about Jesus and what they do for Jesus, that they would rather spend hours every night engaging in mostly solitary entertainment. I am tired of our apathy to the wrong and injustice in the world. I am tired of how we claim to follow Jesus, but rarely share his good news. I am tired of you. I am tired of me. I am tired of us.

That was a fun little intro rant. Let’s get specific.

I am tired of Christians who don’t wrestle with the tensions. I mean this on all sorts of levels. Here are a couple examples. Let’s just look at the New Testament book of James 2 and compare that to Paul’s words in Romans 10. The former says that faith without works is dead, the latter that if you believe in your heart and confess with your mouth you are saved (with the implication of forever). In the chapter before, James describes these works by saying that God sees religion as pure and faultless when his followers are taking care of widows and orphans in distress. Do you have a good track record of taking care of widows (this includes single-moms) and orphans (this includes kids being raised by a single-parent)? I am guessing probably not. Does this mean your faith is dead? You should struggle with that tension. Have you ever?

I am also talking about tensions with what the Bible says and how we live. When Jesus is calling his disciples, they literally stop what they are doing, as in walk away form their jobs and follow Jesus (see John 1 or any of the other gospels). Jesus told the young rich man that he would inherit the kingdom of heaven if he sold all he had and gave it to the poor and the young man walked away sad (Matthew 19). The implication being that he decided he couldn’t follow Jesus. Do these stories reflect your life AT ALL? I am guessing probably not. Does this mean you can’t follow Jesus? You should struggle with that tension. Have you ever?

I am also talking about tensions between different revelations of God. Many Christians seem to believe that God only reveals Godself in one trust-worthy way, which is Scripture. Besides being incredibly deistic, this belief is certainly not Biblical. I won’t get too in depth here, but I think we can all agree that ifGod has revealed Godself in more than just Scripture, then the other manifestations of this revelation are EQUALLY as valid as Scripture. If God makes Godself known to us, then God is making Godself known to us. Guess what, Christians believe that God created the world. This means that God’s fingerprints are all over the created order. Which means God has revealed Godself through creation (sound familiar? (Romans 1:19-20)). If this is true, then we need to be struggling with tensions between the Biblical text and what we know from the created order. These are both revelations of God and yet they don’t always line up. You should struggle with that tension. Have you ever?

When we refuse to recognize these tensions and either sweep them under the rug, blame them on the fallenness of humanity or default to the standard “it takes faith” answer, to the non-Christian we are professing a God who doesn’t have answers. As I said above, someone who does not believe in God, does not see God working and talking, they only see us. These answers are insufficient and are not appealing to most people who do not follow Jesus. We need to recognize this and figure out better answers. There are better answers. If we really believe that God is as powerful as we say he is, then we should be able to answer these questions better (and I think we can btw). By not having sufficient answers or by simply being quiet when your non-Christian friends talk about issues on Facebook, you are contributing to the perpetuation of the continued exodus from Christianity. I am tired of it.

I am tired of Christians who don’t come to discussions humble

In the following posts, I am going to say a lot of things that are going to make you uncomfortable. Some of these things may make some of you angry. Some of you may be defensive. You will all get to hear a new perspective. I have thought a lot about and researched what I will write about. I didn’t really write all this to hear your opinions, they are fine opinions I suspect, but the intention of these posts is to challenge you. If you have something productive to say or another angle to offer that will benefit the discussion, then fine, please feel free to comment. But please don’t respond in anger. *Old man voice* “who is this kid posting these heretical ideas!” It won’t help anything and it will not push the conversation forward in a positive manner.

I am writing these things with the understanding that my readers are Christians. I also write these things with the understanding that we believe the Bible to be true. If you are a Christian and believe the Bible is true, please be open to what I will say. Perhaps most of what I say won’t rub you the wrong way, but I am guessing something will. Please be open. Please be humble. If you are not, then you are rejecting the words of Scripture which make it very clear that humility is an attribute of which God approves and prefers.

Thanks for reading. To be continued (in smaller snippets)….

God’s Intention for Marriage

Being a pastor, I have performed a few weddings. When I was writing the core of my homily I realized i wanted to try to answer the question, what was God’s intention for marriage? Exploring various theological texts and reading Scripture I have determined there are two primary intentions. Traditionally depending on the theological slant of the pastor, just one of these would be emphasized. A reformed pastor will usually focus on marriage making each person more holy in the process of sanctification. A less-reformed pastor will often emphasize the picture of the gospel displayed through the unconditional love and forgiveness of a marriage. Being the Millennial I am I thought, “Hey, I think they’re both good.” So I have interwoven both ideas together in my standard wedding sermon. This one comes from my sister-in-law’s and brother-in-law’s wedding, they are also featured in the photo.

In Genesis we read that the man said:
“This is now bone of my bones
    and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
    for she was taken out of man.”
For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.
We can see from this passage, that from the very beginning, marriage was God’s idea. Since this was God’s idea, we must determine why God created marriage and what it means for us in our every day lives.
As we have talked about in preparation for this day, Scripture makes it clear that God designed marriage to accomplish two primary purposes (both of which bring God glory.) Fortunately for us, these purposes are intimately connected. If you strive after one, you will accomplish the other.
First, God created marriage so that you could have a life partner that will build you up and encourage you to become more like the person God created you to be, your best self.
And second, God created marriage so that you could give a real-life contemporary picture of how God loves his people.
The reality is that you are unable to accomplish either of these two purposes without God’s help. God designed marriage so that his people could be the best they can be and demonstrate his love, but he built a dependence on him into the relationship. Marriage is designed for a man and a woman to go to God together in order to accomplish it’s purpose.
Marriage is impossible without God’s help. In fact, that’s how it was designed.
You need to acknowledge together that you are only able to love each other well with the Spirit of God. Only by looking to God will you be empowered to be patient, kind, supporting and forgiving.
For marriage to work, it is imperative that you have God’s guidance, influence, and power. Our culture today tells us that marriage is supposed to be one giant high… one great feeling… one long lasting honeymoon. In our culture, people get married, with the hope that marriage with the hope that marriage will infinitely extend an emotional euphoria.
But the truth is, marriages are not always fun, easy and full of romantic love. They take work, they can get messy, arguments happen. The only way to get through times like these is by loving in the same way we see Jesus loving.
In John 13 it is recorded that Jesus said,
A new command I give you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
For both of you that means submitting to each other in humility and leading each other in love.
Laura you are called to follow Luke, to respect him and to encourage him. Just as the church is called to follow Jesus. Luke you are called to love your wife in the same way that Jesus loves you and his church… by giving the entirety of himself to be in relationship with us. When a marriage is working like it is designed to work. It will be the greatest blessing in your life outside of a relationship with God himself. And It will stand out to everyone who comes into contact with you… it will make them wonder what it is about your marriage that makes you so patient, selfless and forgiving… They will ask “how do I get some of that? Your marriage will truly and boldly proclaim the good news of Jesus.
We also see in the Old Testament over and over again, that God’s relationship with his people is compared to marriage. This is interesting, for it is often used to show God’s faithfulness to his people even when they are not. For example, in Hosea chapter 3, it is written, “The Lord said to me, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods”

God maintains God’s covenant to his people even when they are adulterous.

The implications of God’s faithfulness in the Christian life are huge! You are striving to be more like God and this means continuing to love and care for one another even in the toughest of times. Just as God is faithful to an adulterous nation, so ought a spouse be faithful to an adulterous spouse. By shaping your marriage in this way, you are presenting a picture of who God is to the world and each other. Divorce is not an option, if considered, your single most important witness is weakened, the picture of who God is, is maligned.

Luke and Laura this is why you must work extremely hard at your marriage. Because it is the picture of the good news of Christ to everyone that meets you.

In order to do this you need to strive to be like Jesus in every way possible. Luke and Laura, submit yourselves to Jesus first and foremost, this will allow you to approach each other in the same way that God sees each of you… that is as someone for whom God sent His Son to die for.
So, first submit to Jesus, then submit to each other. Never allow busyness or stress or even each other to come in between you and Jesus. Allow your relationship with Jesus to be what shapes your relationship with each other. Say this again.
Luke, if your marriage is to bring God glory then this means that you are to submit to Laura by laying down your life for her. By this I mean laying down your ideas and your desires on a daily basis for Laura. Every day for the rest of your life you will have the opportunity to lay down your life for Laura, to be a living sacrifice for her.
Laura, if your marriage is to bring God glory then this means that in the same way you are to lay down your life for Luke. This means encouraging him, believing in him, praying for him, and speaking the truth to him about who he is in Christ. Every day for the rest of your life you will have the opportunity to lay down your life for Luke, to be a living sacrifice for him.

If you will submit to each other by laying down your lives in this way… Forgiving each other no matter what, then you will boldly proclaim the gospel and help mold each other into the people God created you to be. You will be the happiest most joyful people you know and your marriage will give the world a picture of who Christ is.