The Dignity of Home-Making

My wife and I have two amazing daughters.  Raising them has been a deeper joy and a more difficult challenge than we ever anticipated.  It has kept us humble and prayerful, seeking God’s grace in Christ.

Our oldest daughter (19) has expressed little to no interest in college or even a “career.”  We have raised both of our daughters to follow God’s dream for their lives.  If that includes education or training beyond high school, praise God!  If it does not, praise God!  Their identity is forever anchored in the electing, calling, saving, sanctifying and glorifying grace of God through Jesus Christ our Lord as applied to their hearts by the Holy Spirit.  Our oldest daughter wants to be a Christ-centered wife and mother.  One would think such a desire would receive the respect it deserves in the church.  But sadly so many believers in America have been feminized that she has had to endure a fair bit of gentle criticism.  But, by God’s grace, she has stood firm.  She works a steady job, and is patiently waiting for a young man down in North Carolina to keep doing what is necessary to become her husband.  We are so proud of her in a good parental sort of way.

As we approach Mother’s Day, I thought this Q&A by R.C. Sproul was fitting.  May it bless all of you sisters in Christ who find great joy and dignity in being a wife and mother.  Keep living for an audience of One. 

And men, please pay close attention to how monumental your role is in all of this, according to the counsel of the late, great pastor-scholar, Dr. Sproul.

How does a woman find dignity as a housewife and mother in today’s career-minded society?

The quest for dignity is not limited to women nor to women in careers or in the home, but it’s a universal quest. I’ve been involved in many, many seminars that focus on the quest of human dignity, and I have found that every person I have ever talked to wants to be treated with dignity and wants to be sure they have dignity. At the same time, I have discovered that giving a clear definition to the concept of dignity is a very difficult task, yet everybody knows when they have lost dignity.

The woman whose vocation is being a homemaker and a mother, and that is her career rather than working in the business community, is feeling sort of a reverse pressure that other women felt a few years ago when they went into the business world and were discriminated against for somehow abandoning their place in the home. Women today are feeling an imposed guilt for not having a career; somehow being a homemaker is considered a less–than–dignified vocation.

Obviously God clearly affirms the dignity of that role for a woman. The children will rise up and call her blessed. But when God’s Word affirms the dignity or value of something, that is not always enough for us to keep our own security about it. It should be enough—if God says it, that should settle it. But it doesn’t settle it with us. We’re feeble, fragile in our feelings, and we can be made insecure by the culture that looks down upon this particular role.

I would say that the single most important individual in maintaining the dignity of a woman in the home is the husband in the home. If the husband demeans or ignores or puts down or treats as insignificant the labor of his wife, he becomes the principal destroyer of this woman’s dignity. And so the first thing that has to be done to restore the dignity of the woman in the home is having the husband and children create an environment of appreciation and verbalize that appreciation.

Somebody once made the statement that the negative input of one criticism requires nine compliments to be overcome in our personalities. That’s certainly true. One criticism of a wife in the home can devastate her self-esteem in that role, particularly when the rest of the culture is trying to tell her that homemaking and mothering are no longer significant enterprises.

 

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Responding to Revoice

Last year a conference was held in St. Louis called “Revoice.”  Although I have not listened to any of the sermons or speeches given at the conference, I studied up on it enough to know it was not a conference I would personally endorse or attend.  Several speakers at this conference are advocating for the acceptance of labels such as “Gay Christian.”  Sexual desires and behaviors that God condemns in His Word are also being endorsed and called “not evil.”  Christians who truly embrace the Inerrancy of the Bible simply cannot give approval to Revoice.

Here is one of the most helpful and thoughtful responses I have seen so far, given by the President of Covenant Theological Seminary:

A Strong Statement on Sexuality from the President of Covenant Theological Seminary

His response is good for our souls, dear church, if we will but hear his message humbly.  His response is not just a good and sound rebuttal of Revoice, it is a good word for how we should all seek to do relationships in our local churches.

“Do not speak evil against one another, brothers.  Anyone who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law” (James 4:11).

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The Pro-Abortion Consistency

Earlier this week, the US Senate was unable to pass straight-forward legislation that would have ensured any babies born alive during abortion attempts receive standard medical care.  Every Democrat except three voted “no.”

So, let’s be very clear.  These Senators, elected to one of the highest and most noble offices in our great Nation, voted to allow a doctor, and nurses, to simply leave a bloody, crying, wriggling baby on the operating table to die.  No first aid.  No nothing.  Or, one would assume, these senators think it would actually be best and most proper for the aborting doctor to just go ahead and finish the job.  Stab that baby in the heart.  Decapitate the baby.  Whatever it takes.  Just stop the incessant crying.  End that baby’s life, whatever it takes!

One wonders how it is possible for any human being to support such policy and procedure.  Much less some of the most educated and intelligent leaders in our country?!  I firmly believe in the Bible Doctrine of Total Depravity.  That is, every human is fallen and sinful and unable to be reconciled to our Creator God by our own efforts.  And sin has infected every single part of us as humans, thus the word “total” (if you need a refresher course here, read Romans 1-3).  But Total Depravity does not mean that every human is as sinful as he or she can possibly be.  Aren’t we thankful for this common grace truth?  Imagine a world where everyone is as given over to evil as he or she possibly could be.  Literally hell on earth.  Scary, huh?

Well folks, that world is seemingly becoming a reality in the United States Congress!

But I must confess, at least the Democrats and pro-abortion proponents are consistent.  Once you support the killing of babies, does it really matter where the baby is located?  And if it does matter, why?  Why would it be OK to carve up an infant inside the womb, but not be OK to do so outside the womb?  If the baby’s not wanted by the mother, then the mother’s desire always matters most.  Right?  And carrying this to its logical conclusion, then why would a mother not then be able to shoot her five-year old dead too?  So long as she decides the child is not wanted, or the child is inconveniencing her, or threatening her “health,” then why would the age of a child matter?  I mean, do we seriously think murder is right and good only if a doctor does it during a so-called “medical procedure” inside a woman’s womb?  Why not just let moms kill their children whenever they want?  That’s true “Abortion-On-Demand.”

In a weird, stomach-churning kind of way, I am thankful for this moment of clarity in our Nation.  May God be pleased to awaken hundreds of thousands of Americans to the stark reality that abortion is murder.  It destroys a human being.  Period.  And once someone is OK with murder, then where does it stop?  Why bother trying to put any parameters on it at all?

And I wonder where the outrage of Republicans and thousands of Christians has been for the last two years as we have watched a once Republican-controlled Congress refuse to de-fund Planned Parenthood?  Why are we so outraged now that Democrats and pro-choicers have proven they are actually more consistent then we are?  At what point will we fully and finally . . .

Be wretched and mourn and weep.  Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you” (James 4:9-10).

 

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Vocabulary of Divorce

Preaching through James is proving to be a deeply convicting labor.  Over the last two Sundays, we have delved into the sin of partiality, as James tackles it in Chapter Two, verses One Through Thirteen.  Though he applies it directly to economic status (rich or poor), we had to explore ways in which we may knowingly or unknowingly commit this same sin in our church today.  While I hope I supplied enough examples and illustrations to help my listeners examine their hearts, I want to now add another category of people that I think we often treat with partiality in churches today:

Divorcees.

Believers who have been divorced cannot win for losing in evangelical churches today.  I realize many hold firm convictions in the matter of divorce and remarriage.  I personally have strong convictions informed by texts like Matthew 19 and 1 Corinthians 7.  But I also must be humble enough to recognize other Bible-believing believers and scholars do not see it exactly the way I do.  So, this issue is kind of like eschatology – it demands an ongoing humility, not a dogmatic judgmentalism.

So, though I might not think a certain divorcee should get remarried, I cannot castigate that person or mistreat them as somehow “sub-Christian” if they do in fact remarry.  Neither can I be disappointed if a divorcee chooses to remain single, despite all the best attempts to match-make inside the church.  These decisions are deeply personal, and every divorcee carries bloody scars that will never fully heal until Resurrection Day.  So, may “mercy triumph over judgment” in these matters for us, dear friends.  To help us think more deeply on this subject, I am pasting below some thoughts from our sister and Biblical Counselor, Lori Beard:

I hate the vocabulary of divorced people. I hear them talk and it breaks my heart. Things like, “Well I don’t have to have her back until 10. Surely he won’t get mad if I keep her a little longer.”  Or,  “Well I can’t pick my kids up till 9 and they leave at 12 so we won’t be able to do dinner.”  Or, “This is not my weekend. My kids cannot go.”

It appears to me the ones most affected are the kids.

The other language that drives me crazy is that of those who are married and have never been divorced, but have a struggling marriage. Things like this, “Nothing could be harder than staying in this marriage.”  Or, “I cannot wait until I am free of this hurt.” Or, “When he leaves I am done with him finally.”  It never ends.  It’s as if divorce is being anticipated!  Maybe even looked forward to?  

I also have figured out I hate the language of those married, who believe they have it all mastered, towards divorcees.  Things like, “Well, they should have married better.”  Really?  So you knew something divorced people did not?  Or was it by grace alone that you married who you did?  Or this, “They neither one had the guts or commitment to stay.”  Really?!  Did you ask them that or just assume as you made that horrifyingly hurtful blanket statement?  Or this, “Well, if she would have just thought before she married him.”  What if she did not just think but she prayed for hours?  She sought counsel from several pastors?  She went through intense premarital counseling? And what if your assumptions have crushed an already crushed person.

Words have so much power.  Often good power.  Like, “We the people” or “I have a dream ” or “Nothing to fear but fear itself.”  But they can also destroy and cause damage that is unseen, but is suffered for years. Be careful. Be careful. People are listening. So is God.  

A healing tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit (Prov 15:4).  

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Give Thanks

Pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.  Do not quench the Spirit (1 Thess 5:17-19).

Brothers and Sisters in Christ, do not let Black Friday darken your Thanksgiving!

During the sermon last Sunday, I mentioned the prayers of my Granddaddy McWhorter.  My Dad used to recall from his childhood how his Dad’s prayers were chocked full of gratitude.  It made a mark on Dad.  In my Dad’s last decade of life, I noticed how his prayers also just grew more robustly grateful.  It was if his heart were about to explode with thankfulness for all the Lord Christ had done for him.

I was 10 when Granddad passed onto glory, but I do also have a few memories of his prayers.  When I was a kid, we typically gathered at my cousin’s house in Danville, KY for a Thanksgiving feast.  Often, Granddad was called upon to “say the blessing.”  His prayers were a blessing!  Though as a child, I thought the prayers were a bit long, looking back now as a man, I am so appreciative.  He always seemed to have a long list of blessings for which he thanked God.  He was filled with gratitude.  And it bled over into his life attitude.  He was a joyful, happy man who loved Jesus and knew that “every good and perfect gift comes down from above” (James 1:17).

Brothers & Sisters, we do have so many reasons to be grateful to God.  I do not think I need to make a list for you.  I need not insult your intelligence.  You are very capable of making your own list.  And you should.  And you should fill your prayers, not just this week, but every week, with thanksgiving.

Do not lose the flow, the connection between “pray without ceasing” and “give thanks in all circumstances.”  Dare I suggest that if you do the latter (give thanks in all things) you will find yourself more often doing the former (praying without ceasing).  And “this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

God always knows what’s best for us.  Thankfulness impacts every facet of our lives.  Find a truly grateful woman and you will also find a humble woman.  Find a thankful man and you find a prayerful man.  Locate a teen with an attitude of gratitude and you will locate a teen with true joy in Christ Jesus.  It’s impossible to be thankful while simultaneously murmuring and whining.  Thanksgiving to God in Christ for His innumerable and unmerited favors literally grounds our identity.  No self-esteem issues are likely to creep into a Christian’s life who spends significant time on her knees praising God for all His benefits!

Find a thankful believer in Jesus, and you will find a Spirit-powered believer in Jesus.  Again, do not disconnect “pray without ceasing” and “give thanks in all things” from “Do not quench the Spirit.”  Perhaps nothing douses the Spirit’s flames in our hearts as quickly as a complaining, ungrateful attitude.  How can we possibly be unthankful, dear Christian, when

“He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things” (Rom 8:32).

O Christian Brothers and Sisters, give thanks!

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