Category Archives: Commentary

Study explains why university women embrace binge-drinking and hook ups

College students puking in toilet
College students throwing up after binge drinking

This study is from the Institute for American Values. Despite their name, they are not conservatives. It was done by Norval Glenn and Elizabeth Marquardt.

If you download the 88 page PDF, the first few pages are an executive summary.

There are a couple of things that really struck me about this IAV study on hooking-up.

First, this one from p. 15:

A notable feature of hook ups is that they almost always occur when both participants are drinking or drunk.

A Rutgers University student observed, “You always hear people say, oh my gosh, I was so drunk, I hooked up with so and so…” Perhaps not surprisingly, many noted that being drunk helped to loosen one’s inhibitions and make it easier to hook up. A number of students noted that being drunk could later serve as your excuse for the hook up. A Yale University student said, “Some people like hook up because they’re drunk or use being drunk as an excuse to hook up.” A New York University student observed, “[Alcohol is] just part of an excuse, so that you can say, oh, well, I was drinking.”

A Rutgers University student commented, “If you’re drinking a lot it’s easier to hook up with someone… [and] drugs, it’s kind of like a bonding thing… and then if you hook up with them and you don’t want to speak to them again, you can always blame it on the drinking or the drugs.”

Other women observed that being drunk gives a woman license to act sexually interested in public in ways that would not be tolerated if she were sober. For instance, a University of Michigan student said, “Girls are actually allowed to be a lot more sexual when they are drunk…”

A University of Chicago junior observed, “One of my best friends… sometimes that’s her goal when we go out. Like she wants to get drunk so I guess she doesn’t have to feel guilty about [hooking up].”

Some reported that drinking had led them to do things they later regretted. A University of Virginia student said, “My last random hook up was last October and it was bad. I was drunk and I just regretted it very much.”

And this one from p. 30 on the effects of hooking-up on their future commitments:

A few women did see an unambiguous connection between present relationships and future marriage.

[…]Many women either saw little or no connection between present and future relationships, or their understanding of this connection was curiously flat. A student at New York University said, “[The present and the future are] connected because I will still have the same values and principles that I have now, but I just won’t be single anymore.”A number of women said that the present and the future are connected because whatever heartache or confusion they experience now gives them lessons for the future.

A University of Michigan student said, “Early relationships prepare you for marriage because it’s like, oh, what type of person do I want to be with? Oh, I’ve had these bad experiences. Or, I’ve learned from this relationship that I should do this and I shouldn’t do this.”

A sophomore at Howard University said that “I am kind of learning from a lot of the mistakes that I have made.” At a further extreme, some women saw their future marriage as the reason to experiment widely in the present. A Rutgers University student said,“I think hooking up with different people and seeing what you like and don’t like is a good idea. Because eventually you’re going to have to… marry someone and I’d just like to know that I experienced everything.”

Although it is admirable to take risks and learn from one’s mistakes, these women would probably find it difficult to explain how having your heart broken a few or even many times in your early years — or trying to separate sex from feeling, as in hooking up — is good preparation for a trusting and happy marriage later on.

And on p. 42, we learn what women think marriage is and isn’t for:

For instance, in the on-campus interviews one student complained, “[With] marriage…you have to debate everything… Why do you need a piece of paper to bond a person to you? …But I know if I don’t get married I’ll probably feel like… [a] lonely old woman… If anything, I’d get married [because of] that.”

This student went on to say that she would be satisfied to live with a man, but added that, if the man was committed to her, he would offer to marry her, and that this was the kind of commitment that she wanted. A student at the University of Washington said,“I don’t want to get married right after I graduate from college. I just think that would stunt my growth in every way that there is. I would like to be in a very steady, committed relationship with a guy.”

And on p. 44, we learn that they like co-habitation, which increases the risk of divorce by about 50% (but they don’t know that):

In the national survey, 58 percent of the respondents agreed that “It is a good idea to live with someone before deciding to marry him.” This belief often coexists with a strong desire to marry, because it was embraced by 49 percent of the respondents who strongly agreed that marriage was a very important goal for them.

[…]Women we interviewed on campus reflected a similar range of attitudes about cohabitation. Some women thought that cohabitation was a good way to test whether one could spend a lifetime with a potential partner. In such cases, women often cited fears of divorce as the reason for trying cohabitation first. A senior at the University of Washington said, “I kind of don’t really see marriages work ever, so I want to make sure that everything’s all right before [we get married]. I don’t see how people can get married without living together because I know like I have a best friend and I live with her and we want to kill each other, like, every few months.”

Other women felt that, in an age of divorce, cohabitation was a preferable alternative to marriage. A student at New York University said, “You see so [many] people getting divorces… I just don’t see the necessity [of marriage].” She went on to say, “I think that I don’t have to be married to [the] person that I’m with…. You know like… Goldie Hawn [and Kurt Russell]? They’re not married.”

But let’s get back to the drinking and the hook-up sex…

Once a woman abandons femininity for feminism, then sex is all that she can use to get noticed by a man. Men are like hiring managers, and courting is like a job interview for the job of marriage and mothering. If a woman tries to get the job by having sex with the interviewer, he isn’t going to hire her for the marriage job, since sex has almost nothing to do with the marriage job. Men have to think about things like fidelity and mothering ability when they are choosing a wife. The problem is that thanks to feminism, women have stopped trying to show their ability to be wives and mothers to men, preferring to instead act like bad boys – no emotions, toughness, hardness, binge-drinking, promiscuity. Men may be happy to have sex with women like that, but they do not commit to them for life. They’re just looked upon as feral animals, to be pumped and dumped by every man who isn’t a Christian. And Christian men are disqualified for relationships with young feminists, because we have morals.

Moreover, if a man is constantly being offered sex from feminist women during his 20s and 30s, he basically loses all the time that he could be training for his roles as protector, provider and moral/spiritual leader. He will never take on those roles if he is handed sex before marriage for free. That is the root cause of the “man-up” complaint that women make. Why don’t men grow up? Because they don’t have to. They don’t have to do a thing to audition for husband roles, in order to get sex. They just have to be “hot” and feign liberal political views. Many (most?) teenage women are giving the bad boys oral sex on the first date now. Women aren’t looking for husbands until much later, when their effort to achieve self-esteem through slutty behavior stalls out, and they realize that the whole feminist project was futile and unsustainable.

In a previous post, I explained how feminist leaders wanted to get women to drink like men, have sex like men, and to abolish courtship and marriage. Under the influence of cultural definitions of what makes a good man and a good relationship, women began to choose men to have sex with without any consideration of morality, religion, marriage, etc. This results in a cycle of binge-drinking, one-night-stands, cheating, co-habitating, breaking-up, stalking, aborting, etc., until the woman’s ability to trust and love anyone – including herself – is completely destroyed. And yet these college women somehow believe this is is “fun” and “adventurous”, that it makes them feel “sexy”, and that the experience of being selfish and seeing the worst kind of men acting in the worst possible ways, point blank, somehow prepares them for marriage and motherhood. They are told this, and they are so unable to break out of their need to “fit in” with their peers and culture that by the time they realized they’ve been had, it’s too late to fix it. And yet, they themselves made those decisions. They are responsible, whether they intended the consequences or not. No one was stopping them from investigating what was likely to happen, if they decided to play the fool sexually.

William Lane Craig explains the doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement

I have a key that will unlock a puzzling mystery
I have a key that will unlock a puzzling mystery

Probably one of the most common questions that you hear from people who don’t fully understand Christianity is this question: “why did Jesus have to die?”. The answer that most Christians seem to hold to is that 1) humans are rebelling against God, 2) Humans deserve punishment for their rebellion, 3) Humans cannot escape the punishment for their rebellion on their own, 4) Jesus was punished in the place of the rebellious humans, 5) Those who accept this sacrifice are forgiven for their rebelling.

Are humans rebellious?

Some people think that humans are not really rebellious at all, but it’s actually easy to see. You can see it just by looking at how people spend their time. Some of us have no time for God at all, and instead try to fill our lives with material possessions and experiences in order to have happy feelings. Some of us embrace just the parts of God that make us feel happy, like church and singing and feelings of comfort, while avoiding the hard parts of that vertical relationship; reading, thinking and disagreeing with people who don’t believe the truth about God. And so on.

This condition of being in rebellion is universal, and all of us are guilty of breaking the law at some point. All of us deserve to be separated from God’s goodness and love. Even if we wanted to stop rebelling, we would not be able to make up for the times where we do rebel by being good at other times, any more than we could get out of a speeding ticket by appealing to the times when we drove at the speed limit, (something that I never do, in any case).

This is not to say that all sinners are punished equally – the degree of punishment is proportional to the sins a person commits. However, the standard is perfection. And worse than that, the most important moral obligation is a vertical moral obligation. You can’t satisfy the demands of the moral law just by making your neighbor happy, while treating God like a pariah. The first commandment is to love God, the second is to love your neighbor. Even loving your neighbor requires you to tell your neighbor the truth – not just to make them feel good. The vertical relationship is more important than the horizontal one, and we’ve all screwed up the vertical relationship. We all don’t want God to be there, telling us what’s best for us, interfering with our fun. We don’t want to relate to a loving God if it means having to care what he thinks about anything that we are doing.

Who is going to pay for our rebellion?

The Christian answer to the problem of our rebellion is that Jesus takes the punishment we deserve in our place.

However, I’ve noticed that on some atheist blogs, they don’t like the idea that someone else can take our punishment for us to exonerate us for crimes that we’ve committed. So I’ll quote from this post by the great William Lane Craig, to respond to that objection.

Excerpt:

The central problem of the Penal Theory is, as you point out, understanding how punishing a person other than the perpetrator of the wrong can meet the demands of justice. Indeed, we might even say that it would be wrong to punish some innocent person for the crimes I commit!

It seems to me, however, that in other aspects of human life we do recognize this practice. I remember once sharing the Gospel with a businessman. When I explained that Christ had died to pay the penalty for our sins, he responded, “Oh, yes, that’s imputation.” I was stunned, as I never expected this theological concept to be familiar to this non-Christian businessman. When I asked him how he came to be familiar with this idea, he replied, “Oh, we use imputation all the time in the insurance business.” He explained to me that certain sorts of insurance policy are written so that, for example, if someone else drives my car and gets in an accident, the responsibility is imputed to me rather than to the driver. Even though the driver behaved recklessly, I am the one held liable; it is just as if I had done it.

Now this is parallel to substitutionary atonement. Normally I would be liable for the misdeeds I have done. But through my faith in Christ, I am, as it were, covered by his divine insurance policy, whereby he assumes the liability for my actions. My sin is imputed to him, and he pays its penalty. The demands of justice are fulfilled, just as they are in mundane affairs in which someone pays the penalty for something imputed to him. This is as literal a transaction as those that transpire regularly in the insurance industry.

So, it turns out that the doctrine of substitionary atonement is not as mysterious or as objectionable as everyone seems to think it is.

The lottery is a voluntarily tax on the poorest people

You need to study math so that you don't end up doing this your whole life
You need to study math so that you don’t end up doing this your whole life

Here is a good article on basic economics by Arthur C. Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute (a free market think tank).

He writes in the Wall Street Journal:

Powerball—the lottery shared by 44 states, the District of Columbia and two territories—is just one of the sweepstakes run by 47 jurisdictions in the U.S. These games produce nearly $70 billion a year in government revenue and enjoy profits of about 33%—much higher than margins in the private gambling industry.

Who are these lotteries’ most loyal customers? Poor people. Lots of folks buy the occasional ticket, but studies have long shown a steady association between poverty and lottery play. Many scholars report that the poorest third of Americans buy more than half of all lotto tickets, which is why states advertise so aggressively in poor neighborhoods.

Harmless entertainment, you may say, but poor people don’t see it that way. They tend to view lottery tickets as an investment. Duke University social scientists Charles Clotfelter and Philip Cook reported in a 1990 study that people earning less than $30,000 a year are 25% more likely to say they play the lottery for the money rather than the entertainment.

[…]Even if someone feels compelled to throw a financial “Hail Mary,” the lottery is a terrible choice. The odds of winning last week’s jackpot were about 1 in 292 million. And the average return from $1 spent on lottery tickets is 52 cents, according to a 2002 paper by Melissa Kearney, an economist now at the University of Maryland.

But this isn’t easy to see for those with low levels of education. My own analysis of survey data from the National Gambling Impact Study Commission suggests that someone who didn’t attend college may think the return on lottery tickets is 40% higher than the estimate given by a person of similar demographics who holds a degree.

If you took a poll of how people who bought lottery tickets voted, I’m certain that you would find that 90% of them are Democrats. This is because Democrats are economically illiterate, judging for their support for minimum wage increases and opposition to free trade. I suppose there would be a fair number of Donald Trump supporters in there, too. People can can do math don’t buy lottery tickets. It’s much better to pay off debt and then start saving for your retirement. Although public schools used to teach math and basic economics, now they are so busy teaching young people to hate their parents, their God and their country that there is no time for teaching math and basic economics. Even if the public school teachers knew math and basic economics, which they probably don’t, judging by how members of teacher unions vote.

Apparently, people on the political left now oppose teaching math, because it’s racist or sexist or something.

The Daily Caller explains:

Is math sexist? One Vanderbilt University professor believes that it is.

Writing in an academic journal last month, the professor complained about the masculinization of math and how it causes the oppression of women.

Describing mathematics as a “white and heteronormatively masculinized space,” professor Luis A. Leyva insists that factors including teacher expectations and cultural norms “serve as gendering mechanisms that give rise to sex-based achievement differences,” per Campus Reform.

[…]In the article titled “Unpacking the Male Superiority Myth and Masculinization of Mathematics at the Intersection,” Leyva says that teachers “contribute to the masculinization of the  domain that unfairly holds students to men’s higher levels of achievement and participation as a measure of success.”

In other words, being held to a high standard keeps women down.

Do you ever wonder why Democrats want to halt all education reform? Well, people who can’t do math tend to be awful at earning and saving money. And do you know what happens to people who are terrible at earning and saving money? They become dependent on welfare and they vote for bigger government, i.e. – Democrats.

The Pew Research Center, a liberal organization, actually did a study on this uninformed voter problem.

Excerpt:

So Republicans are more knowledgeable than Democrats, contrary to what many would like to believe.

According to whom?  None other than the Pew Research Center, a left-of-center organization.  Moreover, Pew’s latest survey only reaffirms previous surveys demonstrating the same result.

In fact, the results weren’t even close.

In a scientific survey of 1,168 adults conducted during September and October of last year, respondents were asked not only multiple-choice questions, but also queries using maps, photographs and symbols.  Among other subjects, participants identified international leaders, cabinet members, Supreme Court justices, nations on a world map, the current unemployment and poverty rates and war casualty totals.

In a 2010 Pew survey, Republicans outperformed Democrats on 10 of 12 questions, with one tie and Democrats outperforming Republicans on just 1 of the 12.  In the latest survey, however, Republicans outperformed Democrats on every single one of 19 questions.

[…]Those Pew results are confirmed by some surprising other sources.  According to a New York Times headline dated April 14, 2010, “Poll Finds Tea Party Backers Wealthier and More Educated.”  Shattering widespread myths, that survey revealed that Tea Party supporters were more likely to possess a college degree than their counterparts (23% to 15%), and also more likely to have completed post-graduate studies (14% to 10%).  Tea Partiers were also more likely to have completed “some college” by a 33% to 28% margin, and substantially less likely to have not completed high school than non-supporters (3% versus 12%), or to possess only a high school degree (26% versus 35%).

I hope no readers of this blog drop math before they go to college or trade school, and you all better be studying something that pays if you do go to college. I don’t want to catch any of you buying lottery tickets as your retirement plan. I want to encourage you all to make a long-term plan for your retirement, and make sure that the pieces in the short-term fit with that long-term plan.

Miriam Grossman: a brief history of sex education

Investigation in progress
Investigation in progress

Miriam Grossman is a psychiatrist at UCLA who helps the students there. She’s written two books on sex and college students, and I’ve gotten both of them. Here’s an article from the Public Discourse authored by her.

First, she explains that sex education today is not about biology, it’s about advocacy:

Now we have comprehensive sexuality education. It includes discussion of identity, gender, reproductive rights, and discrimination. Children learn that they’re sexual from birth, and that the proper time for sexual activity is when they feel ready. They’re taught that they have rights to pleasure, birth control, and abortion.

The terms husband and wife aren’t used, the union of man and woman is one of several options, and morality? Well, that’s judging, and judging is not allowed.

You won’t find much biology in sexuality education, but there’s voluminous information on the varieties of sexual expression, the pros and cons of different contraceptives and abortions, and the harms of gender stereotypes.

Gender itself is a complicated matter. A boy might turn into a man, a woman, or something else. A girl might feel she was born in the wrong body, and want her breasts removed. This is all normal, children learn.

There are over two dozen sexually transmitted diseases, and infection with one of these “lovebugs” is considered by some to be a part of growing up. A doctor declares on YouTube, “Expect to have HPV once you become sexually intimate. All of us get it.”

And childhood innocence? Forget it! Material created for children makes most adults uncomfortable. On websites recommended to students, nothing is taboo—sadomasochism, polyamory, and what were once called “deviant” behaviors . . . they’re all good.

Here’s how “sex education” came to be:

[I]n 1964 Dr. Mary Calderone founded the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS). This is the group behind the sexuality education guidelines published by UNESCO, aggressively promoted to nations all over the world. Calderone created SIECUS with seed money provided by Hugh Hefner.

Like Kinsey, she was on a crusade to change society. Sex education has too much negativity, she insisted, too much focus on unwanted pregnancy and diseases. The real problem, she insisted, following Kinsey, was that society is puritanical and repressed.

There were too many nos in sex ed. The approach of SIECUS, Calderone promised, would be based on yesses. Proper sex ed would teach children that from the day they’re born they are sexual beings, and that the expression of their sexuality is positive, natural, and healthy.

She told parents, “Children are sexual and think sexual thoughts and do sexual things . . . parents must accept and honor their child’s erotic potential.” She also told them, “Professionals who study children have recently affirmed the strong sexuality of the newborn.”

What did it mean, exactly, to be open and positive, and to replace the nos of sex education with yesses? What did it mean to “break from traditional views”?

It meant more than premarital and extramarital sex. Much more. Modern sex ed was about breaking boundaries. There were officials within SIECUS who were so radical that they argued publicly for relaxing the taboos against adult/child sexuality, even incest. Wardell Pomeroy, for example, a disciple of Kinsey’s who served as president of SIECUS, argued, “It is time to admit that incest need not be a perversion or a symptom of mental illness.”

TIME magazine described Pomeroy as part of the “pro-incest lobby.” He wrote a book, Boys & Sex, for grades six and up. There he argued that “our sexual behavior…is like that of other animals….There is essentially nothing that humans do sexually that is abnormal.” Calderone provided a blurb for the book jacket: “As I read your manuscript, I kept saying to myself, ‘At last it is being said…’”

Another figure to know is Dr. John Money. In 1955, he introduced the radical concept that maleness and femaleness are feelings, separate from anatomy and chromosomes. He was convinced we are born without gender, then conditioned by society to identify either as male or female.

Money was a prominent psychologist; he’s well respected to this day. He described pedophilia as “a love affair between an age-discrepant couple.” Money was also part of the incest lobby: “For a child to have a sexual experience with a relative,” he wrote, “was not necessarily a problem.” Like Kinsey, Money had deep emotional wounds. His identity as a man was troubled, and he molested young boys.

What’s so astonishing is that these men, these very disturbed men, using fraudulent data and theories that have been discredited, succeeded in transforming much of society. Today’s sexuality education is based on their teachings.

Once I understood who the founders were—Kinsey, Calderone, Pomeroy, Money, and others—I understood how we got to today’s “comprehensive sexuality education.” I knew how we had reached today’s madness.

It came from disturbed individuals with dangerous ideas—radical activists who wanted to create a society that would not only accept their pathology, but celebrate it!

These men were pedophiles. It was in their interest to see children as miniature adults who enjoyed sexual contact, and had the right to consent to it, without other adults, or the law, interfering.

Why would they value childhood innocence? They didn’t believe that children were innocent to begin with. They also thought that restricting sex to husband and wife was unnatural and destructive. They weren’t fighting disease, they were fighting ancient taboos; they were fighting biblical morality.

The bottom line: sex ed began as a social movement, and it remains a social movement. Its goal is for students to be open to just about any form of sexual expression. Sex ed is not about preventing disease, it’s about sexual freedom, or better—sexual license. It’s about changing society, one child at a time.

Previously, I blogged about how the Liberal Party author of the province of Ontario’s education curriculum was convicted on child pornography charges. The lesbian governor of the province of Ontario still hasn’t been kicked out. Apparently, Liberal Party voters like this being taught to children in Ontario.

I think that a lot of young people today are growing up in a household that is very different than what I grew up with. I grew up in a household where I had two parents biologically related to me who were married before they had me and are still married. People knew back then that the marital bond was stronger when two people had guarded their chastity prior to marrying one another. That stable marriage that I grew up with was an asset to my development. But thanks to sex education, which normalized recreational sex outside of marriage, children today are far less likely to have the kind of childhood that I had.

If you are growing up without a father, you should thank sex education. If you are growing up without a mother, you should thank sex education. If you were abused by a relative or your mothers boyfriend (or girlfriend), you should thank sex education. If you grew up fatherless and sought a boyfriend to have sex with before you could even vote, then thank sex education. If the premarital sex that your parents had caused them to divorce, thank sex education. If you are growing up in any household that is not a happily married long-lasting married household, thank sex education.

One last point. The fiscal conservative in me is appalled that this advocacy is all being taught in public schools with taxpayer money. You and I are paying these people to indoctrinate children in views that puts their safety, health and emotional well-being at risk. You and I are paying to have their sexually transmitted diseases treated. You and I are paying for their contraceptives and abortions. You and I are paying for the costs of teenage pregnancies and increases crime from fatherless boys. Thank sex education for all of these social ills.

Bible study: what does the Christian concept of “grace” mean?

A good shepherd rescuing a lost sheep who had no hope
A good shepherd rescuing a lost sheep, who had no hope

My friend Wessel sent me this sermon a few days ago because I was looking for a good sermon on grace. Some of my friends pitched in with sermons, but this one from a South African church was BY FAR the best. I’ve listened to it 3 times already. The speaker sounds exactly like one of best friends from university, Andrew, who is from South Africa.

I’m testing out a new file download service, so I hope this works… here is the MP3 file. (7 megabytes, 30 minutes)

Let me know if you can’t download that.

The text of the sermon is Genesis 48:1-20:

1 Some time later Joseph was told, “Your father is ill.” So he took his two sons Manasseh and Ephraim along with him.

When Jacob was told, “Your son Joseph has come to you,” Israel rallied his strength and sat up on the bed.

Jacob said to Joseph, “God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and there he blessed me

and said to me, ‘I am going to make you fruitful and increase your numbers. I will make you a community of peoples, and I will give this land as an everlasting possession to your descendants after you.’

“Now then, your two sons born to you in Egypt before I came to you here will be reckoned as mine; Ephraim and Manasseh will be mine, just as Reuben and Simeon are mine.

Any children born to you after them will be yours; in the territory they inherit they will be reckoned under the names of their brothers.

As I was returning from Paddan, to my sorrow Rachel died in the land of Canaan while we were still on the way, a little distance from Ephrath. So I buried her there beside the road to Ephrath” (that is, Bethlehem).

When Israel saw the sons of Joseph, he asked, “Who are these?”

“They are the sons God has given me here,” Joseph said to his father.

Then Israel said, “Bring them to me so I may bless them.”

10 Now Israel’s eyes were failing because of old age, and he could hardly see. So Joseph brought his sons close to him, and his father kissed them and embraced them.

11 Israel said to Joseph, “I never expected to see your face again, and now God has allowed me to see your children too.”

12 Then Joseph removed them from Israel’s knees and bowed down with his face to the ground.

13 And Joseph took both of them, Ephraim on his right toward Israel’s left hand and Manasseh on his left toward Israel’s right hand, and brought them close to him.

14 But Israel reached out his right hand and put it on Ephraim’s head, though he was the younger,and crossing his arms, he put his left hand on Manasseh’s head, even though Manasseh was the firstborn.

15 Then he blessed Joseph and said,

“May the God before whom my fathers
    Abraham and Isaac walked faithfully,
the God who has been my shepherd
    all my life to this day,

16 the Angel who has delivered me from all harm
    —may he bless these boys.
May they be called by my name
    and the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac,
and may they increase greatly
    on the earth.”

17 When Joseph saw his father placing his right hand on Ephraim’s head he was displeased; so he took hold of his father’s hand to move it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head.

18 Joseph said to him, “No, my father, this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.”

19 But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He too will become a people, and he too will become great. Nevertheless, his younger brother will be greater than he, and his descendants will become a group of nations.”

20 He blessed them that day and said,

“In your[c] name will Israel pronounce this blessing:
    ‘May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh.’”

So he put Ephraim ahead of Manasseh.

So, in this story, God continues his tradition of choosing the lowly people in the world instead of the people who are seen as “better”. God does this in many cases, because he has a big heart for people who are born in a bad position. Normally in the world, people always choose what they think is best for them. They choose the prettiest girl. They choose the most tallest man. Those who need a little extra help or care are passed over. God sometimes does the complete opposite of this. Instead of choosing the obvious “best person”, he chooses a much lower person, and he lifts them up to do great things.

Consider 1 Corinthians 1:26-31:

26 Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called.Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.

27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.

28 God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are,

29 so that no one may boast before him.

30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.

31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

The speaker in the sermon explains the idea of grace by talking about sheep and shepherds. He explains that unlike clever homing pigeons, sheep are prone to wandering off and they aren’t able to find their way home. Sometimes, they get lost, and sometimes they even wander into danger. A bad shepherd would just say that he only wanted to have the best sheep – the smartest ones or the richest ones or the best looking ones or the most popular ones. But a good shepherd is sorry for the sheep that needs the most help, and is the most lost, and in the most danger. God is like a good shepherd. God sends his Son to die to atone for the sins of the bad sheep in this world, even when they didn’t deserve it. (John 3:16-17) That’s grace. But he also arranges the world in a way that bad sheep have an opportunity to reach out and find him. (Acts 17:24-27) That’s grace, too.

In my own life, I have often found myself being excluded or discounted by people, usually because of my skin color or because of my early childhood poverty or because I just struggle to understand what I’m expected to say and to do. But a funny thing often happens. Right when I am feeling the worst about being excluded, God comes along and gives me something special to do, that makes me forget about being excluded. And that’s been my experience of grace, ever since I was little and even to this day. The honor of being allowed to participate in God’s plan makes me forget what it feels like to be excluded. The very best things I’ve achieved in my life are the times where God showed me someone who started out life in a terrible situation (usually because of the selfish decisions of their irresponsible parents) and then I participated in God’s plan to lead them out of the mess they started out from.

I think one of the biggest reasons why some Christians stick with Christianity through thick and thin is that they have this experience of grace. This experience of grace means that no matter what, that sheep is going to loyal to that shepherd who chose him when he was at his lowest and most vulnerable. The first part of the choosing is obviously Jesus dying on the cross to atone for your rebellion. But after that, God carefully reveals himself to the sheep. And then there is the guidance that helps the sheep to avoid destroying himself with sin. If the sheep makes mistakes, the good shepherd has already laid down his life to pay for them. This is a lot of effort being put into this rescue operation. It’s difficult for people who have never experienced grace to realize how real and life-transforming it is. For those who have not experienced it, I really recommend that you pray to God, in the name of Jesus, and ask him to give you grace.

There are still things in my life where God has decided that he is not going to fix it. And, strangely enough, that doesn’t make me disloyal to him at all. Why not? Well, you have to read the Bible and understand that Jesus was not spared from suffering or death in his loyal obedience to God. He wasn’t given everything he wanted to feel happy all the time. When you understand that this is the character of your shepherd, then it’s much easier for you to put up with the things you lack, too.