Category Archives: Commentary

Whose job is it to teach young, unmarried women not to delay marriage for fun and thrills?

Do young women understand how to get to a stable marriage?
Do young women understand how to get to a stable marriage?

I found a very interesting post on a blog called Oz Conservative, which is run by an Australian traditional conservative. In the post, he looks at two women who wasted their 20s on fun and thrills. Both of them are childless and unmarried. And they are complaining that they should be married with children. How did it happen?

Excerpt:

Rachael spent her youth going out with the bad boy type:

relationships have never been my strong point. Historically, I’ve picked good-looking villains and addictive personalities.

I’ve had a ball and many passionate experiences, but nothing functional enough to constitute a long-term future and never anyone ‘normal’ enough to bring home to meet the parents.

Although she puts a positive spin on being single, she admits:

I’m realistic. I’ve probably missed the boat as far as children are concerned, and that is a shame…

[…]Yes, the life I have today is not quite the one I envisaged 20 years ago as a young woman. I foresaw a satisfying career along with 2.4 children and a handsome husband.

Then there is Bibi, now 44. She tells her story this way:

I am staring down the barrel of a lonely future without a man, let alone children.

And how do I find myself in this perilous position? One reason is undoubtedly that men like young women. Yes, I was young once and all that. In my 20s and 30s I wasn’t exactly a supermodel, but I was constantly surrounded by men. The trouble is I wasn’t necessarily looking to settle down back then…

Now that I am, there are very few available men out there and the ones there are would be more interested in my teenage nieces than in me…

[…]Bibi has a lot of friends in exactly the same boat:

In my close circle of friends, there are eight of us who are single and childless. This is a generational phenomenon  –  we are all aged between 37 and 45.

When our mothers were that age, such numbers would be unimaginable.

Like many women writing this kind of literature, when she looks back she recognises the negative influence of feminism on her generation of women:

I think the feminist teachings of the Sixties and Seventies seeped into our brains. My mum couldn’t be called a feminist, but I, too, grew up thinking we could be anything we wanted to be and have a fulfilling career, life and relationship…

[…]What she is trying to say here is that feminism pushed marriage and motherhood down the list of priorities (“there was more to contend with beforehand”). She admits that she was led into the magical kind of thinking I described earlier in which there is nothing in reality to limit having things as you want them to be (“we didn’t realise that men wouldn’t be interested … my generation was spoilt – unrealistic, even”).

The comments to the post are very interesting.

I was thinking about whose job it was to warn young Christian women about these bad choices, and I remembered a passage from the Bible.

Titus 2:3-5 explains:

Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good.

Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children,

to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

The problem is that many older Christian women made a lot of mistakes in their youth, especially with alcohol and premarital sex. And for most of them, it’s more important that they not feel guilty about it, than that they warn younger women not to make the same mistakes. So, instead of admitting guilt and setting boundaries, they often tell young women that it doesn’t matter what you do in your 20s because God, the cosmic butler, will make everything work out in the end.

We just had a situation where one woman who had a successful marriage tried to give younger women some very basic advice about how to be attractive to marriage-minded men. And what happened was that she was attacked by pretty much everyone. The reaction seemed to be strongest from Christian women, however, who insisted that God’s grace meant that Christian women didn’t have to care what the Bible taught about morality and wisdom. The important thing was that they follow their desires in the moment, because to exercise self-control would be “horrible” and would “send the wrong message”. Telling a woman not to do what she feels like is worse than murder, because women must always do what feels good. Who cares about the words of the Bible, when a woman has feelings that are a direct line to God’s mysterious will for her happiness?

One of the commenters on this blog put it this way:

I’ve been observing this phenomenon among so-called “Christians” for well over a decade. Concepts like “tolerance” and not being “judgmental” took hold in our culture and many Christians absorbed the mindset completely. If you point out that what someone is doing is sinful or might potentially lead to sinful behavior, they act defensive or turn the tables on you and say “well, you’re not perfect either!” Some even say that they do certain things for the express purpose of not being “legalistic,” because clearly, legalism is far worse than compromising one’s witness. Jesus has become a postmodern hippie whose primary message is “let’s all be cool to each other.” The only sins left are transgressions against the belief that everyone is equal and worthy of acceptance.

In reading the responses to Lori Alexander’s article, my greatest takeaway is that people are rationalization machines. If they’ve made mistakes, they won’t humbly acknowledge them and use the wisdom of their experience to guide others in the right direction. Instead, they’ll try to find a way to argue that their mistakes weren’t mistakes at all, and that the real sinner is the person who’s judging them for what they did. It’s a deceitful, selfish game, and anyone who plays it is an enemy of the Gospel. Their argument essentially boils down to “every woman, regardless of whatever bad decisions she’s made in life, is entitled to a loving husband who’ll provide for her.” Same way everyone’s entitled to free health care, regardless of whether sufficient medical resources exist, I suppose. It doesn’t work that way, ladies.

And they use this feminist scare word “shaming.” How dare you “shame” me? I would go so far as to say that shaming is a good thing, because it incentivizes proper behavior. Men have good reasons for wanting their wives to be virgins, and if you remove the stigma against premarital sex, a lot of women are going to take Biblical teaching on the subject less seriously. If Christian men as a whole agreed that they would only marry virgins, I guarantee you that a lot of women would think twice about what kind of men they associated with. If you feel “shamed,” it’s probably a sign that you haven’t truly repented of your sins. Sin separates us from God, and if you see your sins for what they are, you should have no problem condemning the sins that you yourself have committed and discouraging them in others.

I’m sorry for this long-winded ramble, but it disgusts me how much politically correct rot has infested the churches, and this entire incident just confirms that Paul was correct to forbid women teaching. When everyone is afraid of upsetting women, we get false teachers popping up everywhere spreading a destructive message with nothing but rhetoric behind it. The end result? Fewer marriages, fewer children, fewer people taking Christian teachings seriously, and more people being miserable and lonely. Once you start ceding ground to liberalism, the whole thing eventually unravels. Lots of good Christian men and women can’t find a spouse anymore, because their society has lied to them and they don’t realize it until it’s too late. Did their churches stand against the world? Did their churches provide them the guidance they needed? Or were their churches too afraid to be seen as “out of touch,” and did they prioritize numbers over holiness and correct teaching? If we are sincere believers, it should be obvious which is more important.

Many of the women who chose to delay marriage for fun and thrills with the bad boys grew up in married Christian homes. Parents and pastors have, for one reason or another, decided that it is too unpleasant to warn young Christian women that their behavior may involve some costs in the long term. They don’t want to make them feel bad, and women’s feelings are so very much more important than what the Bible says, or even what peer-reviewed research on marriage best practices says. Even theologically conservative pastors just don’t have the courage to address the influence that feminism has had on the goal-setting and decision-making of young, unmarried women. It’s much easier to blame men when the woman’s fun and thrills plan doesn’t work out.

Should people in sinful lifestyles bully churches into celebrating them?

Anti-marriage gay activists vandalize church
Anti-marriage gay activists vandalize church

This story was the topic of the most recent episode of the Reasonable Faith podcast. Basically, a conservative, apologetics-friendly church had a homosexual person who wanted to be openly gay and still be accepted as a member. After he was told by the church that he could attend the church, but not be a member, he decided to write the mainstream media to shame the church.

Here is the link to Reasonable Faith‘s podcast – and they have a transcript.

I want to first focus on the letter written by the gay man:

Dear Watermark Community Church,

Today I celebrate a very interesting anniversary with you. It was exactly one year ago when you told me that I was no longer worthy to serve, be in a community group, and be a member of your church.

I spent years in your church battling against my homosexuality. I believed with all my heart that God would change me; I prayed for change almost daily. But when I wasn’t able to change, you turned your back on me.

You say our “sin” is not unique, but you treat us in a unique manner; this is unacceptable behavior. We are actual people that have actual feelings.

Here we are a year later and you are still doing to others what you did to me. You are tarnishing the name of God to Christians and non-Christians alike; you should be ashamed of yourselves! Do not forget, Jesus was a angry with people just like you who said certain groups of people were not worthy to be followers of Him.

Thank you for removing yourself from my life! I am who God made me to be. I cannot change my sexual orientation and nor would I want to. I now have internal peace and happiness unlike ever before.

Jason Thomas

As Reasonable Faith notes, this is what he said and this is what the far-left Dallas Morning News reported. It sounds like the church was very mean to him, but is that what really happened?

Here is what the church actually wrote to him:

Dear Jason,

This is a difficult letter to write, as I am sure that it will be a difficult one to hear and receive. We genuinely care for you, love you, and want nothing more for you than to live an abundant life that is found in Jesus Christ alone.

However, in our attempt to shepherd you, we have recognised a destructive pattern that prohibits us in caring for you and playing the role you desire for us to have in your life (1 Peter 5:1-4; Acts 20:28). Specifically, your desire to actively participate in a same-sex relationship with another man, and your unwillingness to heed biblical counsel from your church to turn from that relationship, has made it exceedingly difficult to shepherd you during this time.

As we noted during our time together last Tuesday (9/29/15), and through the years, we have gently & repeatedly brought these patterns to your attention and, at times, you have heeded this counsel and repented. But now, this is no longer the case. So, in obedience to Matthew 18:15-18 and 1 Corinthians 5:11, we are left with no other option but to remove you from our body and treat you as we would anyone who is living out of fellowship with God…and we lovingly, but firmly, call you back to repentance. This means that you are no longer a member of our body at Watermark. We are praying that repentance comes quickly and that you do not continue choosing a path of destruction and one that leads you away from the authority and care of the church.

We recognise that these patterns are only symptoms of a heart that is either unwilling or unable to fully trust God in every area of your life, including your sexuality. We plead with you to run to the Lord and allow the Spirit of God to begin to transform your heart in a mighty way (Titus 3:3-7).

In order to help you through this time, we would like to make some tangible recommendations that we hope will serve as a catalyst for true repentance and heart-change in your life. They are:

1. Faithful attendance of Re:Generation targeting the above issue, while following counsel to not be in a dating relationship during that time.

2. Meet with a Watermark staff member who shares in the same struggle (same sex attraction) who has found freedom, healing, and victory through our Savior Jesus Christ (just let Brandon know when you’re ready to meet with him).

We affirm your many gifts, your heart of kindness, and we value the way God has uniquely formed you (Psalm 139:13-14). We all pray for your repentance and full restoration so that your gifts and passions can be fully unleashed for the Kingdom of God. We love you, Jason, and stand at the gate for you and eagerly await God’s restoration in your life (Luke 15:20).

In Christ,

The Elders of Watermark Community Church

Here is what one of my friends at Watermark who was aware of the situation told me:

I think it’s clear that Watermark was very kind and loving in their discipline and can’t be called hypocritical or homophobic, and they were not trying to change the man’s sexual orientation but rather simply asking him to abstain from sexual relationships. They give lots of chances before administering discipline and the process is the same each time they go through this with members. Some repent and some turn away.

As we have seen, publicizing those who disagree with homosexuality and gay marriage is a favorite tactic of the fascist left. Sometimes, it just involves smearing (e.g. – the Southern Povery Law Center).  Sometimes, it involves lawfare, (e.g. – the attorney general of Washington state). Sometimes, it involves leaking the names of pro-marriage donors (e.g. – the Human Rights Campaign). Sometimes, it involves vandalism, violence and even domestic terrorism (e.g. – Floyd Lee Corkins’ attack on the Family Research Council). When it comes to homosexuality and gay marriage, fascism is the normal response to dissent.

I just find it astonishing that gay activists and other radicals on the left think that they can try to bring in the mainstream media and the law to punish the church for holding to orthodox Christian moral values. But this is why we call sin “sin”. We don’t call chastity a sin, because chaste people don’t behave like fascists when they hear disagreement. We don’t call having lots of children a sin, because people who have lots of children don’t behave like fascists if anyone disagrees with them. There is something really wrong with these behaviors that the Bible forbids. You can see why the Bible condemns certain things as sins when you look at the fascist responses to disagreement with the sin.

Look at 1 Corinthians 6:1-10:

1 If any of you has a dispute with another, do you dare to take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the Lord’s people?

Or do you not know that the Lord’s people will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases?

Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more the things of this life!

Therefore, if you have disputes about such matters, do you ask for a ruling from those whose way of life is scorned in the church? 

I say this to shame you. Is it possible that there is nobody among you wise enough to judge a dispute between believers? 

But instead, one brother takes another to court—and this in front of unbelievers!

The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? 

Instead, you yourselves cheat and do wrong, and you do this to your brothers and sisters.

Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived:Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men

10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.

Consider 1 Corinthians 5:9-13:

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people—

10 not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world.

11 But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.

12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?

13 God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”

Everyone sins. Fine. Keep it to yourself. Don’t use the law to force Bible-believing Christians to celebrate your sins. The church’s job is to help you to be more like Christ. You’re in a community where everyone is supposed to be serious about growing as a Christian and part of that involves improving your character morally. Another part means getting along with other Christians instead of being disruptive.

Regarding complaints about not being able to act on your sexual orientation, I have no sympathy. I am attracted to women, and I am a virgin, because I am not married. I am not going to church to rebel against this requirement. My job is to structure my life in such a way that it is easier to obey it, whether that involves studying the issue in the research or drawing the line long before I have to make a decision in the heat of the moment. God must be #1 in a person’s life, setting goals and policies, and our job is to make and execute effective plans that deliver results for the Boss.

By the way, do not miss this other recent article on homosexuality from Reasonable Faith.

Terrell Clemmons interviews Nancy Pearcey about the impact of secularism

Marriage and family
Marriage and family

Salvo magazine is my favorite magazine for the discussion of issues related to the Christian worldview. They focus on the most interesting topics; sex and feminism, intelligent design and evolution, marriage and family, abortion and euthanasia, etc. One of their writers, Terrell Clemmons, has just about the best Christian worldview I’ve ever encountered. She interviewed well-known Christian writer Nancy Pearcey in Salvo magazine.

The first part of the interview has Nancy explaining what happened to her when – as a teen – she asked her family and church and Christian leaders for reasons why she should take Christiantiy seriously. She ended up having to construct her entire worldview herself. She spent an entire year and a half reading nothing but Christian apologetics books. And from that, she moved on to connect Christianity to every other subject that you can possibly imagine.

The part of the interview I liked best was when Terrell asked Nancy what the consequences would be in real life to the popular secular ideas that the universe is an accident, that human beings are just robots made out of meat, that there is no free will, and no way that humans ought to be objectively.

Excerpt:

What do you see as the greatest threat to the next generation?

The greatest threats are the issues covered in Love Thy Body because they involve the family—and children who grow up without a secure, loving family do not do as well in any area of life, including their spiritual and intellectual lives. Practices like contraception, abortion, and artificial reproduction are already creating an attitude that having a child is merely a lifestyle choice, an accessory to enrich adult lives and meet adult needs. The hookup culture is destroying people’s ability to form the secure, exclusive relationships they need to create stable, happy families. Porn is decimating a generation of young people who are literally being trained to objectify others for their own sexual gratification. When they marry, they are shocked—shocked—to discover that they are unable to experience a sexual response with a real live person. They are only able to respond to pornography. Homosexuality and transgenderism are both creating a gender-free society by denying the value and purpose of biological sex as the foundation for gender identity and marriage.

We are often told that these issues won’t affect anyone else, but that is not true. As the law changes, we are all affected. In a free society, certain rights are honored as pre-political rights. That means the state does not create them but only recognizes them as a pre-existing fact. For example, the right to life used to be a pre-political right—something you had just because you were human. But the only way the state could legalize abortion was by first deciding that some humans are not persons with a right to legal protection. The state now decides who qualifies for human rights, apart from biology. That is a huge power grab by the state, and it means we are all at risk. No one has a right to life now by the sheer fact of being human, but only at the dispensation of the state.

In the same way, marriage used to be a pre-political right based on the fact that humans are a sexually reproducing species. But the only way the state could legalize same-sex marriage was by denying the biological basis of marriage and redefining it as a purely emotional commitment, which is what the Supreme Court did in its Obergefell decision. The state no longer merely recognizes marriage as a pre-political right but has claimed the right to decide what marriage is, apart from biology.

Gender used to follow from your biological sex. But the only way the state can treat a trans woman (born male) the same as a biological woman is by dismissing biology as irrelevant. That’s why public schools are enforcing policies telling teachers whom they must call “he” and “she,” regardless of the student’s biological sex.

Same-sex activists say the next step is parenthood. In a same-sex couple, at least one parent is not biologically related to any children they have. So the only way the state can treat same-sex parents the same as opposite-sex parents is by dismissing biology as irrelevant and then substituting a new definition of “parent” (perhaps based on emotional bonds). You will be your child’s parent only at the permission of the state.

And what the state gives, the state can take away. Human rights are no longer “unalienable.” These issues are sold to the public as a way of expanding choice. But in reality, they hand over power to the state.

You can see examples of the state stepping in to “fix” the problems caused by the decline of lasting, stable marriages. Divorce courts control a man’s salary, and his rights to communicate with and visit his children. Civil rights commissions bully anyone who doesn’t celebrate they LGBT agenda. Universities punish men for real or imagined bad treatment of women without any criminal investigation or criminal trial. And we are all on the hook for the costs of the breakdown of the family, which results in more crime (for fatherless boys), and more unwanted pregnancies (for fatherless girls). In 2008, it was $112 billion per year, no telling what it is up to now, when the out-of-wedlock birth rate is now up to 42%.

Although the secular left’s new view of the body and sexuality seemed to be all goodness and happiness – at least to them –  it’s actually caused a lot of problems, and increased the intervention of the state into our affairs.

What about all those other books that the Church left out the Bible?

Sherlock Holmes and John Watson are going to take a look at the data
Sherlock Holmes and John Watson are going to take a look at the data

You may sometimes hear the objection that there were lots of other gospels and books floating around at the time when the 27 books of the New Testament were standardized. The right way to answer this problem is to ask for a particular book that the challenger would like included and then to take a look at factors like the date it was written, who wrote it, and where it was written. When you look at these factors, it becomes obvious why the other books were left out.

Consider an article by Dr. Charles Quarles, who has written against an early dating of a “left out” book called the “Gospel of Peter”. Why was it left out? Because Christian are mean? Maybe there’s a historical reason why these books are not included.

Excerpt:

An impressive number of clues suggest that this gospel [Peter] postdates even the latest New Testament book and belongs to the mid-second century. First, a close analysis of verbal parallels shared by the Gospel of Peter and the Gospel of Matthew suggests that the Gospel of Peter postdates Matthew and utilized that Gospel as a source… an examination of the vocabulary, grammar, and style of the two documents strongly favors the dependence of the Gospel of Peter on Matthew. Robert Gundry, one of the most respected experts on issues related to Matthew’s style, called the phrase a “series of Mattheanisms” (Gundry, Matthew [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994], 584). Similarly, John Meier noted “when it comes to who is dependent on whom, all the signs point to Matthews priority. . . . The clause is a tissue of Matthean vocabulary and style, a vocabulary and style almost totally absent from the rest of the Gospel of Peter” (Meier, Marginal Jews, 1:117). This is consistent with a number of other Matthean features appear in the Gospel of Peter that all point to the dependence of the Gospel of Peter on Matthew.

Second, other features of the Gospel of Peter suggest that the gospel not only postdates Matthew, but even postdates the latest book of the NT canon, the Book of Revelation. For example, although Matthew indicates that the Roman guard sealed the tomb of Jesus, Gospel of Peter 8:33 adds that it was sealed with seven seals. The reference to the seven seals conflicts with the immediate context. Gospel of Peter 8:32-33 states that all the witnesses present sealed the tomb. However, a minimum of nine witnesses were present leading readers to expect at least nine seals. The best explanation for the awkward reference to the seven seals is that the detail was drawn from Revelation 5:1. This allusion to Revelation fits well with the Gospel of Peter 9:35 and 12:50 reference to the day of Jesus’ resurrection as the “Lord’s Day” since this terminology only appears in Revelation in the NT and first in Revelation out of all ancient Christian literature. The reference to the “Lord’s Day” in the Gospel of Peter is a shortened form that appears to be a later development from the original form appearing in Revelation.

Still other features of the Gospel of Peter fit best with the historical data if the Gospel of Peter was produced in the mid-second century. The Gospel of Peter assumes the doctrine of Jesus’ descent into Hades to preach to the dead. However, this doctrine first appears in the words of Justin Martyr around AD 150. The talking cross is a feature of other second-century literature. The Epistula Apostolorum 16 states that during the second coming Jesus will be carried on the wings of the clouds with his cross going on before him. Similarly, the Ethiopic Apocalypse of Peter 1 describes the returning Christ as coming in a glory seven times as bright as the sun and with his cross going before his face. In a similar fashion, beginning in the late first century, Christian texts describe Christ as possessing gigantic stature. In an allegorical depiction of Jesus’ supremacy and authority over the church, Shepherd of Hermas 83:1 described Christ as of such lofty stature that he stood taller than a tower. 4 Ezra 2:43, a portion of 4 Ezra dating to the middle or late third century, referred to the unusual height of the Son of God. These shared compositional strategies and features make the most sense if these documents and the Gospel of Peter were composed in the same milieu.

It turns out that Quarles has actually debated the views he presents in this article against John Dominic Crossan, the main proponent of the view that the Gospel of Peter is early. You can buy the audio on CDs here, or you can get the book. The CDs are highly recommended, but the book leaves out all the dialog, so I don’t recommend it.

And you can read about two more rejected books, the Gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of Judas, as well. The authors of those two articles are Craig Blomberg and Craig A. Evans, respectively. Craig Evans is also involved in the debate I mentioned with Crossan. He was able to debunk another “lost book of the Bible” called “Secret Mark”, which turned out to be a hoax.

For Independence Day, let’s learn about George Washington and the Battle of Trenton

Washington crosses the Delaware river before the Battle of Trenton
Washington crosses the Delaware river before the Battle of Trenton

My favorite book about the American Revolutionary war by far is called “1776”. It’s written by famous historian David McCullough. The part of the book that really stuck out to me was the Battle of Trenton. I think that this battle really defines the essential character of America, as seen in the decision-making of its great general and first President, George Washington.

In the book, I learned about how George Washington and his revolutionary army had suffered a string of defeats at the hands of the powerful Commonwealth army, and their mercenary allies. It was the middle of a freezing cold winter, and the many of the sickly and ill-equipped American troops were just days from having their enlistment contracts run out. Some of the troops were not waiting for their enlistments to expire, they were just deserting. In droves.

Washington was losing, and was just days from losing his Continental Army. If the Americans lost the revolutionary war, then it would mean that every man who signed the Declaration of Independence would be hanged as a traitor. The American revolutionaries had risked everything for liberty, and they were about to lose everything – their money, their property and even their lives.

I found a page that summarizes the battles leading up to the Battle of Trenton.

First battle, a defeat for Washington:

The Battle of White Plains

October 28, 1776

RESULT: BRITISH VICTORY

With the British army maneuvering to make his Harlem Heights position untenable, George Washington withdrew from the island of Manhattan, and established a new encampment further north near White Plains, New York.

On October 28, 1776, a flank attack by the British on this new position resulted in the collapse of Washington’s line. Thankfully, he was able to orchestrate an orderly withdrawal that preserved the army. Unfortunately, Washington’s retreat further exposed Fort Washington, which remained garrisoned on Manhattan.

Next, another defeat for Washington:

The Battle of Fort Washington

November 16, 1776

RESULT: BRITISH VICTORY

Following the defeat of George Washington’s army at White Plains, New York, British General William Howe focused his army’s attention on Fort Washington, the last post defended by the Continental army on Manhattan.  Although Washington hoped to abandon the fort, his officers convinced him that it needed to be held in order to keep British ships from ascending the Hudson River.

During a carefully-orchestrated, all-out attack on November 16, 1776, British and Hessian forces overwhelmed the fort’s garrison after vicious fighting. When he heard the attack begin, Washington, who had stationed himself across the Hudson River in New Jersey, travelled across the river to the enter the fort and personally inspect its defenses. Several officers accompanied Washington, including Generals Israel Putnam, Hugh Mercer, and Nathanael Greene. They convinced Washington to leave the fort just 30 minutes before it was surrounded.

And then, another defeat for Washington:

Evacuation of Fort Lee

November 20, 1776

RESULT: BRITISH VICTORY

After the fall of Fort Washington, George Washington made plans for the evacuation of Fort Lee, which stood across the Hudson River in New Jersey. In a letter written to John Hancock on November 19, 1776, the general wrote that “…Fort Lee was always considered as only necessary in conjunction with [Fort Washington]…,” and that it would be abandoned as soon as provisions and other supplies were removed.

Unfortunately, a large British force succeeded in scaling the heights close to the fort on November 20, 1776. Faced with superior numbers, Washington called for the immediate evacuation of the fort, which resulted in the loss of dozens of cannon, 2-300 tents, and 1,000 barrels of flour.

That brings us to the Battle of Trenton. Across the Delaware river from Washington’s army was an encampment of Hessian mercenaries, fighting for the British. The Hessians believed that Washington’s Continental army was in full retreat. The British generals had already written home to the King to tell him that the war was nearly over, and that they had won. But had they?

Washington crosses the Delaware

Here is what Washington decided to do on December 25th, 1776:

General George Washington’s commitment to cross the Delaware River on Christmas 1776 foreshadowed the many hardships faced as well as the eventual victory of the Continental Army during the American Revolution. At first glance, the decision to transport 2,400 Continental soldiers across an icy river in one night, directly into a severe winter storm of sleet and snow seems irrational.

Washington’s decision, however, was based on strategic motivation, understanding that the Continental Army desperately needed a victory after months of intense fighting with several significant defeats and no major victories. Washington also understood that the element of surprise was the only way that he and his army stood a chance of defeating the highly trained Hessian mercenaries.

On the morning of December 25, 1776, Continental soldiers woke up in their camps along the Delaware River to a frozen, snowy covered ground. Weather conditions worsened and temperatures continued to drop throughout the day. Late in the afternoon, the Continentals left their tents and began to form along the river in anticipation of the night’s events. Washington kept almost all of the details of the crossing a secret; as a result, none of the soldiers knew anything about their upcoming mission.

Washington’s crossing of the Delaware River on December 25, 1776 allowed his army to strike the Hessians at Trenton the next morning.

Washington’s plan was to cross the river at night, march to the nearby town of Trenton, New Jersey, and attack the Hessian garrison right before dawn. Time was Washington’s greatest enemy; to combat it his orders called for the various regiments to assemble at their designated crossing points no later than sunset. The close proximity to the crossing points allowed the soldiers to begin the journey immediately after nightfall struck and complete the crossing no later than midnight. Once across, Washington intended for the armies to reassemble and march approximately ten miles to Trenton, arriving there no later than five o’clock in the morning to achieve surprise. Despite his meticulous planning, the schedule failed almost before it even began.

Many of the regiments did not arrive at the river until well after dark. Additionally, a severe winter storm that included wind, rain, snow, hail, and sleet met the soldiers at the banks of the river significantly slowing their crossing. Many of the boats had to combat ice jams and unfavorable currents. To make matters even worse, the extreme darkness caused by the storm made it hard for the boatmen to see the opposite shore.

The necessity of using larger ferries to carry pieces of artillery across the river caused even more delays. Washington crossed the river with John Glover’s Marblehead mariners and upon arrival debated whether or not to cancel the entire operation because it was more than three hours behind schedule. Washington decided it was too costly to retreat and he painfully watched as his army continued to trickle across the river.

If you were standing by the river along with Washington watching his sick, frozen, ill-equipped army struggle across the Delaware, then you would probably think that Washington had lost the element of surprise. This attack was just taking too long to happen. Maybe Washington would give up his plan, because things hadn’t gone his way. But Washington didn’t quit – he persisted.

The Battle of Trenton, December 25, 1776
The Battle of Trenton, December 25, 1776 (click for larger image)

The Battle of Trenton

This is how the battle went down in Trenton, New Jersey:

Immediately following his famous crossing of the Delaware River, General George Washington marched the Continental Army to Trenton, New Jersey. The army’s forces included horses, guns, wagons, and soldiers, stretching for nearly one mile. The weather was worse than it had been crossing the river, but the army continued to proceed as Washington rode up and down the column pressing his men to carry on.

Shortly after eight o’clock on the morning of December 26, 1776, the Continental Army started its charge on the city. Three columns marched through thick snow with Washington personally leading the middle charge. As the soldiers pushed forward, artillery began to fire. At the same time, German drums urgently called the Hessians to arms. To his astonishment, Washington had maintained the element of surprise.

Immediately after the firing began, three Hessian regiments ran from their quarters ready to fight, quickly forming ranks. As the Hessians grouped, the Continental Army entered the city at two points: John Stark marched into the city on River Road from the west, while Nathanael Greene and Washington arrived from the north.

Andreas von Wiederholdt, a Hessian lieutenant, incorrectly reported to Colonel Johann Rall that the Continental Army had surrounded Trenton and there was no available route for retreat. As a result, Rall decided to counterattack Washington within the city and not retreat across Assunpink Creek. This proved to be costly as Washington’s forces occupied the highest ground in the city and had clear views of all of Rall’s movements.

Time after time, Washington countered Rall’s efforts to outflank the Continentals. Eventually, Washington’s forces overpowered the Hessians. Rall was mortally wounded and many of his soldiers broke ranks, fleeing from the fighting. Normally very disciplined, Rall’s regiment was confused and disoriented without their commander. They retreated to an orchard east of Trenton where they were forced to surrender.

Despite the large number of Hessians that escaped Trenton, Washington still won a crucial strategic and material victory. In only one hour of fighting, the Continental Army captured nearly nine hundred Hessian officers and soldiers as well as a large supply of muskets, bayonets, swords, and cannons. Washington ordered his soldiers to treat the Hessian prisoners in a humane manner, and the general quickly focused his attention on what to do next. Washington assembled all of his officers in Trenton to discuss whether they should attack another post, hold their position in Trenton, or retreat back across the Delaware. Washington decided that because of the condition of his army, the best move was to return to their camps across the River.

When the Continental Army returned to camp on the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware River, soldiers were exhausted. They had marched and fought for two straight days through rain, snow, sleet, and hail. Washington knew that his army had far exceeded expectations at Trenton and that they faced many more challenges going forward.

Washington won two more battles in rapid succession. Many of his troops re-enlisted because of these victories. There were many battles remaining to fight, and many hardships such as the winter at Valley Forge. But the Battle of Trenton was the turning point of the revolution. George Washington would not let a string of defeats stop him.