Let’s look at this post from The Public Discourse and see if gay relationships are as stable, or even more stable, than straight ones.
The [NFSS] study found that the children who were raised by a gay or lesbian parent as little as 15 years ago were usually conceived within a heterosexual marriage, which then underwent divorce or separation, leaving the child with a single parent. That parent then had at least one same-sex romantic relationship, sometimes outside of the child’s home, sometimes within it. To be more specific, among the respondents who said their mother had a same-sex romantic relationship, a minority, 23%, said they had spent at least three years living in the same household with both their mother and her romantic partner. Only 2 out of the 15,000 screened spent a span of 18 years with the same two mothers. Among those who said their father had had a same-sex relationship, 1.1% of children reported spending at least three years together with both men.
This strongly suggests that the parents’ same-sex relationships were often short-lived, a finding consistent with the broader research on elevated levels of instability among same-sex romantic partners. For example, a recent 2012 study of same-sex couples in Great Britain finds that gay and lesbian cohabiting couples are more likely to separate than heterosexual couples. A 2006 study of same sex marriages in Norway and Sweden found that “divorce risk levels are considerably higher in same-sex marriages” such that Swedish lesbian couples are more than three times as likely to divorce as heterosexual couples, and Swedish gay couples are 1.35 times more likely to divorce (net of controls). Timothy Biblarz and Judith Stacey, two of the most outspoken advocates for same-sex marriage in the U.S. academy, acknowledge that there is more instability among lesbian parents.
The 2003-2004 Gay/Lesbian Consumer Online Census surveyed the lifestyles of 7,862 homosexuals. Of those involved in a “current relationship,” only 15 percent describe their current relationship as having lasted twelve years or longer, with five percent lasting more than twenty years. While this “snapshot in time” is not an absolute predictor of the length of homosexual relationships, it does indicate that few homosexual relationships achieve the longevity common in marriages.
In The Sexual Organization of the City, University of Chicago sociologist Edward Laumann argues that “typical gay city inhabitants spend most of their adult lives in ‘transactional’ relationships, or short-term commitments of less than six months.”
A study of homosexual men in the Netherlands published in the journal AIDS found that the “duration of steady partnerships” was 1.5 years.
In his study of male homosexuality in Western Sexuality: Practice and Precept in Past and Present Times, Pollak found that “few homosexual relationships last longer than two years, with many men reporting hundreds of lifetime partners.”
In Male and Female Homosexuality, Saghir and Robins found that the average male homosexual live-in relationship lasts between two and three years.
It’s a Grindr lifestyle. And it’s not a good environment for meeting the needs of children. (Example)
There is one study (Rosenfeld, 2014) that tries to argue against the conclusion of all these other studies, and the problems with it are discussed in this post.
The right way to think about gay marriage is to think about it as an extension of no-fault divorce. The same feminists and leftists who pushed for the legalization of no-fault divorce told us back then that the children would be fine, that children are resilient. No-fault divorce was a change in the definition of marriage. The leftists said that divorce would never become widespread, and that it would not harm children in any way. It was all a pack of lies. If the practices of the gay lifestyle become conflated with marriage, then marriage will come to denote relationships engaged in for “love” not children, such that unchastity, infidelity, increased domestic violence and frequent break-ups are incorporated back into the definition of marriage. Marriage is about permanence, exclusivity and building an environment that can welcome children and supply for their needs. It’s not about government giving people respect for their romantic feelings. Those are volatile. What government ought to be rewarding is lifelong commitment.
My friend Carla sent me a video from a TV show called the Bachelorette, in which a woman named Hannah Brown explains why she thinks that having recreational premarital sex is compatible with Christianity. In this post, I wanted to explain to Christian parents and churches why serious Christian men do not consider women like Hannah Brown to be appropriate candidates for marriage.
First, if you haven’t seen the clip, you can watch it here:
So I just wanted to go over what I think marriage is for, and then try to judge whether Hannah Brown’s view of men, sex and marriage offers me any value. I think this will be useful for parents and churches, because I think a lot of Christian men see marriage the same way as I do.
So, when I think of marriage, I’m looking for a partner who can help me to achieve goals that are consistent with the character of God revealed in the ministry of his son Jesus. So, what did Jesus do? Jesus demonstrated the existence of God by showing people evidence (miracles). Jesus taught people about what moral choices they should make and how to treat others. Jesus taught people that marriage is for one man and one woman, and that children should not be prevented from knowing God. And Jesus taught that people who sin can be forgiven, but that they should “sin no more”.
So, let’s take a look at what marriage-minded Christian men are looking for, and then decide whether Hannah Brown is doing a good job of preparing herself for marriage.
I’d like to model a successful, fruitful marriage to non-Christians, e.g. college students, neighbors, co-workers
A lot of people these days aspire to be married with children, and I want my marriage to be an advertisement to them for how Christianity provides a moral framework for that. So, a marriage candidate should demonstrate that she is good at making and keeping commitments, and investing in other people’s lives self-sacrificially, with a goal of making them grow in their knowledge and influence as Christians. She should also be good at tasks that are related to being a wife and mother, like cooking, cleaning, caring for children, managing money, and so on. She should be a virgin and demonstrate self-control when it comes to things like drinking alcohol, frivolous travel, and managing money. Regarding sex, men are aware of studies that show that the number of premarital sex partners that a woman has is related to her contentment in her future marriage. The more no-commitment hawt bad boys a woman has sex with before marriage, the less content she will be with the “loser” she has to “settle for” when she hits 30. Marriage-minded men understand that women who “settle” for them later on were never attracted to commitment skills. We don’t want to deal with sex-withholding, porn usage, emotional affairs, adultery, and divorce.
I’d like to facilitate discussions with students and faculty about whether the claims of Christian worldview are true
I would like my wife to be familiar with how to discuss and defend the claims of Christianity using evidence. For example, God’s existence, Jesus’ resurrection, etc. I do not mean that she should share her feelings and experiences with non-Christians. I do not mean that she should give her opinions or quote Bible verses to non-Christians. I mean that she should be able to appeal to mainstream scientific and historical evidence when making her case for the core claims of the Christian worldview. Being familiar with the work of people like William Lane Craig, Lee Strobel, Sean McDowell, J. Warner Wallace, etc. is sufficient. She should also be able to defend against objections to the Christian worldview, e.g. – suffering, hiddenness, pluralism, postmodernism, etc. I’m really looking for evidence that she is aware of areas where the culture is challenging Christianity, e.g. – abortion, natural marriage, socialism, border security, environmental stewardship, etc. and that she is able to be persuasive against the secular left with reasons and evidence.
I’d like to raise many effective and influential children who promote the Christian worldview and conditions that allow the practice of Christianity to flourish to society as a whole
In order to have many children, the woman has to be serious about making herself ready or marriage early, and pursuing marriage-ready men early. She should not be spending her late teens and 20s using her finite supply of youth and beauty trying pursuing temporary relationships with men who have superficial qualities. It eats into the “honeymoon period” that she could be giving her future husband, and it reduces the time available for making more children. Regular sex and emotional support are huge gifts that a woman gives to a man, and they should be reserved for a man who commits to love her, lead her, and provide for her and her children. Since she is busy in her 20s riding the carousel with not-her-husband men, she won’t have any effect on her husband’s early career, which means that her husband will have less money to support having more children later on. I’m also looking for evidence that she is investing in relationships with other people that causes them to be more competent and effective in their Christian lives. For example, she could be getting people to be better with money – leading them by example to study hard STEM subjects, get real jobs in the private sector, avoid student loans. Something that shows that she is able to navigate the real world successfully, and isn’t just wasting her time chasing fun and thrills.
I’d like to have an influence on the laws and policies in my community so that behaving as a consistent Christian is not subject to interference from the secular left
I’d like her to demonstrate that she’s going to keep the Christian worldview that she has in the face of pressures from the secular left culture. So, I’m looking for her to be aware of where Christian values are impacted by laws and policies. And I’m looking for her to have strong convictions herself and also to be persuasive to others in debates and discussions. It’s very easy for women to tell men what they want to hear when it comes to issues like abortion, gay rights, definition of marriage, socialism, environmentalism, border security, national debt, etc. Opinions are easy. What’s not easy is having conversations where arguments are made, and supported by factual evidence. I would definitely want to see her taking pro-marriage and pro-family views in her conversations, but also in her writings, and in her activism. A man needs support and understanding when he is engaged in providing for a family, being a spiritual and moral leader, and protecting his family from outside threats. Many of the laws and policies that young Christian women find attractive are incompatible with what a Christian man does as a father and husband.
So, I think it’s pretty clear when you look at Hannah Brown that she has none of these things. But she is a perfect example of what I see being produced by Christian parents and Christian pastors today. She really is not exceptional in any way, she is the normal Christian woman. On the one hand, she hollers Jesus, reads the Bible, sings praise hymns, attends church, and knows just enough about Christianity to satisfy parents and pastors that she is serious about her faith (until she throws the mask off on the first day of college). But to the Christian men who evaluate her for marriage, she has nothing at all that we want in a wife and mother.
A while back, I was debating some Christian feminists about what men want from a wife and mother. At one point, I asserted that Christian women ought to have some knowledge of how to defend their faith using scientific and historical evidence. Some women asked me: “are you joking?” In this post, I’ll explain why I’m serious, and then I’ll ask them some questions of my own.
Let’s start with Jesus. Jesus set an example by showing the importance of knowing how to answer questions and challenges from skeptics in the New Testament. His favorite way to answer a challenge was by using evidence to support his truth claims.
So, take this story that’s in Mark 2:1-12, Matthew 9:1-8 and Luke 5:17-26. This story is accepted even by skeptical historians because it’s in three different books, and one of them is early (Mark).
In each version of the story, there are 4 steps:
Jesus forgives the sins of a paralyzed man
The Pharisees say that he doesn’t have authority to forgive sins
Jesus miraculously heals the paralyzed man
Jesus explains the evidence of the healing supports his claim that he has authority to forgive sins
And this is an example that you will find repeated in many places in the life of Jesus. You can see it in the Old Testament as well, where God performs miracles so that people who don’t believe in his existence or respect the Scriptures can still be convinced.
Christian apologetics is the skill of being able to give a defense for the Christian worldview when presented with a challenge from a non-Christian.
15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,
16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
This passage applies to every one who claims to be a disciple of Jesus, whether they like to prepare a defense or not. How much work must you put into it? It depends on the sophistication of the challenges you get. In the mountains of Pakistan, you don’t need to know much because there might not be a sophisticated challenge. In an American society filled with college graduates, the challenges are more difficult. So you will need to prepare a lot more, because the challenges will be a lot harder.
Those who take this passage seriously are doing something difficult, and time-consuming, in order to serve Christ. Buying books costs money. Reading books takes time. Debating with non-Christians can make you look bad to others. But the Bible commands us to be ready with answers for the people around us. Sometimes, doing what the Bible says makes us feel bad, or look bad to others. But we have do what the Bible says anyway. Part of being a real Christian is being obedient even if it feels bad or makes you look bad.
What’s in an apologetics book?
So, with that said, let’s look at the table of contents of my favorite introduction to Christian apologetics, which is “Is God Just a Human Invention?” written by Sean McDowell and Jonathan Morrow.
In that book, you will find 18 topics.
Is Faith Irrational? (Commentary by: Gregory Koukl)
Are Science and Christianity at Odds? (Commentary by: John Warwick Montgomery)
Are Miracles Possible? (Commentary by: Gary R. Habermas)
Is Darwinian Evolution the Only Game in Town? (Commentary by: William A. Dembski)
How Did the Universe Begin? (Commentary by: R. Douglas Geivett)
How Did Life Begin? (Commentary by: Fazale R. Rana)
Why Is the Universe Just Right for Life? (Commentary by: Jay W. Richards)
Has Science Shown There Is No Soul? (Commentary by: Dale Fincher and Jonalyn Fincher)
Is God Just a Human Invention? (Commentary by: Garry DeWeese)
Is Religion Dangerous? (Commentary by: Douglas Groothuis)
Does God Intend for Us to Keep Slaves? (Commentary by: Paul Copan)
Is Hell a Divine Torture Chamber? (Commentary by: Frank Turek)
Is God a Genocidal Bully? (Commentary by: Clay Jones)
Is Christianity the Cause of Dangerous Sexual Repression? (Commentary by: Kerby Anderson)
Can People Be Good Without God? (Commentary by: Mark D. Linville)
Is Evil Only a Problem for Christians? (Commentary by: Randy Alcorn)
What Good Is Christianity? (Commentary by: Glenn S. Sunshine)
Why Jesus Instead of the Flying Spaghetti Monster? (Commentary by: Darrell L. Bock)
Prominent atheist scholars are quoted in each chapter to introduce the challenges, and then scholarly arguments and evidence are presented to defend the Christian worldview. The language is simple enough, but the material is solid enough to use in a real debate. I would say that introductory books like this one are more than enough to equip you for everyone who will challenge you.
Why are these 18 topics important? Because these are the questions that atheists ask. These are the questions that cause Christians to leave the faith. These are the questions that your children will face in high school and college, which might cause them to leave the faith.
Let’s start with chapter one. One of the most prominent arguments by atheists is that faith is irrational. This chapter allows you to define faith using the Bible’s definition of faith, which relies on logic and evidence.
Atheists also say that Christianity is at war with science. In chapter 2, they discuss the history of science and how Christianity provided the framework that allowed scientific method to take root and flourish.
Atheists like to claim that miracles are impossible. Chapter 3 defends the view that God, if he exists, is capable of interacting with his created world.
Atheists love to put forward Darwinism as means to deny that God is the designer of life. Chapter 4 explains the concept of intelligent design, and why intelligent design is a better explanation for the history of life.
Atheists love to talk about how the universe has always existed, and there’s no need for a Creator. Chapter 5 contains a philosophical argument that is supported by mainstream science to argue that the universe had a beginning, just like the Bible says.
Atheists love to argue that life can emerge from non-life, and the process is simple. Chapter 6 is written by a biochemist, and it takes a look at the real complexity of the simplest living cell.
Atheists like to argue that the universe itself is just an accident, and there is no need for a Designer. Chapter 7 introduces the scientific evidence for fine-tuning and habitability.
Atheists like to say that there is no soul and no afterlife. Chapter 8 gives some arguments for the existence of the soul.
Atheists like to argue that Christians invent God because God makes them feel good. But chapter 9 explains that having an all-powerful God who can hold humans accountable is the last thing any human would want to invent.
Atheists like to talk about how religion, with it’s habit of teaching to believe in things that can’t be tested, causes religious people to do a lot of harm. Chapter 10 takes a look at the real record of Christianity as a force for good in the world.
Atheists like to talk about slavery in the Bible. Chapter 11 talks about what the Bible really says, and provides some rational responses to the accusation.
Atheists like to talk about eternal punishment in Hell isn’t a just punishment for just getting a few questions wrong on a theology exam. Chapter 12 provides an explanation and defense of the concept of Hell.
Atheists love to talk about how God commanded the Israelites to attack their enemies in the Bible. Chapter 13 explains who their enemies really were, and what was really happening in those wars.
Atheists feel that unrestricted sexual activity is very healthy and normal, and that the Biblical prohibitions outside of male-female marriage are repressive and unhealthy. Chapter 14 explains why God has these rules in place, and supports his rules with evidence.
Atheists love to assert that they don’t need God, because they can behave morally on their own. Chapter 15 explains how to answer this claim by talking about how well atheism grounds objective moral values, objective moral duties, free will and moral accountability: the minimum requirements for objective morality.
Atheists think that the mere existence of natural disasters and human immorality are incompatible with the God of the Bible. Chapter 16 explains why this argument doesn’t work, and why even the concept of evil requires God to exist.
I had an atheist co-worker who couldn’t really defeat the scientific arguments for God’s existence, but he would say that even if God exists, why would that matter to my life? Chapter 17 explains what difference Christianity makes in a person’s life.
Atheists think that the life of Jesus has no relevance to their life, and that he has nothing to offer them anyway. Chapter 18 explains the uniqueness of Jesus and explains why his resurrection is relevant to our lives today.
I guess that many people think that reading a Christian book means reading Christian fiction or Christian devotions – things that are entertaining or produce feelings. But fiction and devotions do not equip you to answer realistic questions from non-Christians.
Wife candidates ought to know apologetics
So, back to my original point about how some Christian feminists responded when I said that during courtship, I ask women questions about how much preparation they have done to answer objections from atheists, like the ones answered in this book. Am I joking?
Well, I think the problem is that Christian feminists don’t understand how Christian men view marriage. Christian men are interested in marriage because they think that their marriage will be an enterprise that produces a return for God. They like the idea of having a clean, comfortable home to host debate viewings and discussions over dessert with skeptics. They like the idea of raising children who will be effective and influential. Men don’t see marriage a means of making us feel better, or having fun, or getting our peers to approve of us. We see it as a way to promote Jesus’ agenda in the world. Men are looking for a woman who think that Christianity is true, so that they will have a wife who will act like a Christian when it goes against her self-interest. Men want a wife who knows how to persuade others that Christianity is true – first the children, then others.
Ryan T. Anderson researches and writes about marriage and religious liberty as the William E. Simon Fellow at The Heritage Foundation. He also focuses on justice and moral principles in economic thought, health care and education, and has expertise in bioethics and natural law theory.
Anderson, who joined the leading Washington think tank’s DeVos Center for Religion and Civil Society in 2012, also is the editor of Public Discourse, the online journal of the Witherspoon Institute of Princeton, N.J.
Anderson’s recent work at Heritage focuses on the constitutional questions surrounding same-sex “marriage.” He is the co-author with Princeton’s Robert P. George and Sherif Girgis of the acclaimed book “What Is Marriage? Man and Woman: A Defense” (Encounter Books, December 2012).
The lecture starts at 7:20 in. The lecture ends at 49:35. There are 32 minutes of Q&A.
When talking about marriage in public, we should talk about philosophy, sociology and public policy
Gay marriage proponents need to be pressed to define what marriage is, on their view
Every definition of marriage is going to include some relationships, and exclude others
It’s meaningless to portray one side as nice and the other mean
Typically, marriage redefiners view marriage as a more intense emotional relationship
Marriage redefiners should be challenged in three ways:
1) Does the redefined version of marriage have a public policy reason to prefer only two people?
2) Does the redefined version of marriage have a reason to prefer permanence?
3) Does the redefined version of marriage have a reason to prefer sexual exclusivity?
Also, if marriage is just about romance, then why is the state getting involved in recognizing it?
The talk: 1) What marriage is, 2) Why marriage matters, 3) What are the consequences of redefining marriage?
What marriage is:
Marriage unites spouses – hearts, minds and bodies
Marriage unites spouses to perform a good: creating a human being and raising that human being
Marriage is a commitment: permanent and exclusive
Male and female natures are distinct and complementary
The public purpose of marriage:
to attach men and women to each other
to attach mothers and fathers to their children
there is no such thing as parenting, there is only mothering and fathering
the evidence shows that children benefit from mothering and fathering
boys who grow up without fathers are more likely to commit crimes
girls who grow up without fathers are more likely to have sex earlier
Children benefit from having a mother and a father
can’t say that fathers are essential for children if we support gay marriage, which makes fathers optional
without marriage: child poverty increases, crime increases, social mobility decreases, welfare spending increases
when government encourages marriage, then government has less do to – stays smaller, spends less
if we promote marriage as an idea, we are not excluding gay relationships or even partner benefits
finally, gay marriage has shown itself to be hostile to religious liberty
Consequences redefining marriage:
it undermines the norm in public like that kids deserve a mom and a dad – moms and dads are interchangeable
it changes the institution of marriage away from the needs of children, and towards the needs of adults
it undermines the norm of permanence
we learned what happens when marriage is redefined before: with no-fault divorce
no-fault divorce: after this became law, divorce rates doubled – the law changed society
gay marriage would teach society that mothers and fathers are optional when raising children
if marriage is what people with intense feelings do, then how can you rationally limit marriage to only two people?
if marriage is what people with intense feelings do, then if other people cause intense feelings, there’s no fidelity
if marriage is what people with intense feelings do, then if the feelings go away, there is no permanence
the public policy consequences to undermining the norms of exclusivity and permanence = fatherless children and fragmented families
a final consequences is the decline and elimination of religious liberty – e.g. – adoption agencies closing, businesses being sued
We’re doing very well on abortion, but we need to get better at knowing how to discuss marriage. If you’re looking for something short to read, click here. If you want to read a long paper that his book is based on.
Today, I want to say something this article about lambs in Scotland, written by Sheila Walsh in the The Stream.
I am very fond of sheep. I grew up on the west coast of Scotland with sheep all around me, field after field of white wool and incessant crying when things seemed a little off.
[…]Of all the lessons I have learned from these defenseless, gentle animals, the most profound is the most painful. Every now and then, a ewe will give birth to a lamb and immediately reject it. Sometimes the lamb is rejected because they are one of twins and the mother doesn’t have enough milk or she is old and frankly quite tired of the whole business. They call those lambs, bummer lambs.
Unless the shepherd intervenes, that lamb will die. So the shepherd will take that little lost one into his home and hand feed it from a bottle and keep it warm by the fire. He will wrap it up warm and hold it close enough to hear a heartbeat. When the lamb is strong the shepherd will place it back in the field with the rest of the flock.
“Off you go now, you can do this, I’m right here.”
The most beautiful sight to see is when the shepherd approaches his flock in the morning and calls them out, “Sheep, sheep, sheep!”
The first to run to him are the bummer lambs because they know his voice. It’s not that they are more loved — it’s just that they believe it.
I am so grateful that Christ calls himself the Good Shepherd.
“He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice.” (John 10:3-4 NLT)
My older brother and I grew up with a mother who was very much focused on her career and earning and saving money for her retirement. We were both stuck in daycare very early after being born, so that she could go back to work right away. (Me after 6 weeks) My older brother has shown the ill effects of our parents (especially our mother) not having any plan for us, especially morally and spiritually. He dropped out of college after failing his first year, never had a career. Although he has normal intelligence and mental health, he never could stick in any real job.
Although there were early warning signs when his grades started to drop in Grade 5, my parents never took responsibility to make a plan to solve it. Oh, they would yell and scream at him at report card time, but just for a day or two, and after that, nothing constructive. My brother decided that he could just ride out the flak my parents gave him on report card night, and keep going with his plan of having fun and being popular. My parents just forgot about it until the next report card day, because they did not want to be distracted from their careers, hobbies and retirement planning. When dispensing rewards, my brother was always given the same as me, despite our different levels of achievement. And my parents considered this equal dispensation of rewards regardless of performance to be a great virtue, and excellent parenting.
I had the exact same upbringing as my older brother. He actually did pretty well until Grade 5 just like me, but then our paths diverged. From Grade 5 on, his grades deterioriated. He got tired of having to study and he was more interested in the opinions of his peers and conforming to popular culture. In my case, from Grade 5 on, my grades were always high-90s. I remember taking the same classes as he did, in the same high school, with the same teachers. He got a 44 in data processing, I got a 96 with the same teacher and won the award for the entire grade. Every class I went to, the teachers would speak fondly of my older brother – he was a nice guy, very popular with his peers, good at sports. But not a very good student. How was it that I was winning awards when he had scored so poorly. Was I really his brother? How could we be so different?
The difference is that in Grade 5, he got a Gideon’s New Testament and he read it and he didn’t put it into practice, and in Grade 5, I got a Gideon’s New Testament and I read it twice and I did put it into practice. That was the difference. I had the awareness of the moral law (i.e.- wisdom) that allowed me to judge my parents and judge my peers and judge my teachers and stand alone. When you cannot rely on anyone to lead you, be able to judge when others mistreat you is very important. That is what allows you to maintain appropriate boundaries and minimize the influence of friends and family who are teaching you self-destructive behaviors. Awareness of the moral law is what allows you to stop trying to please people who do not want what is best for you. On the other hand, God is always willing to give you wisdom if you ask Him for it, and you can find out all about him because he has left plenty of evidence concerning his existence and character for you to find. It is in knowing God as he really is that you can find your sense of value, purpose and meaning. The God of the New Testament is the God of people who are lost and need a Savior.
For me, Christianity was a simple matter of being willing to go along with what was true, and not insisting on having fun or conforming to peer expectations. The essential characteristic of my faith, in contrast to my older brother’s lack of faith, was this – I did not mind being different, so long as I never lost a debate about what was true. My obedience to Christ has never been conditional on things going my way, on being liked, or anything like that. The only thing that mattered was being factually correct. It never bothered me what other people were doing, or what other people expected me to do, so long as I was acting on what I knew to be true. And God helped me to find out what was true by motivating me to study, and leading me to him with good evidence, and good mentors. Thanks to Jesus’ death on the cross, the mistakes I made early did not count against me, and they never will. Jesus’ death on the cross gives me the imputed righteousness that I need to stand before God holy and blameless. This is what allows me to keep learning and keep trying no matter how much I fail on any given day.
How has this affected me? Well, this is the second thing I wanted to say about the bummer lamb analogy. Since I was a victim of this hands-off, me-first style of parenting, it’s caused me to be extra sensitive about being a good spiritual leader to others in the same predicament. The people I mentor can see it in the way that I treat them . I treat them the opposite of the way that my older brother and I were treated. I care what people read. I care what courses they choose. I care what they eat. I care how they feel. I care about their finances. I care about their plans to serve God. I care about their romantic relationships. I care whether they get recognition for doing good. I care whether their life is going in the right direction. One person I mentored who once considered taking her own life wrote to me when she graduated from a STEM program, and she said this: “I wish you could have been here at my graduation. My parents only paid for this degree. You were the one who got me through it”. We have never met in person, but she is going to continue to make a huge difference for Christ and His Kingdom going forward.
I think when you have been a bummer lamb, you are extra careful to make decisions that will enable you to be a good shepherd to other lambs. Being a good shepherd does not mean being pious, spiritual, mystical, etc. Being a good shepherd does not mean making the lambs feel good about making bad decisions. Being a good shepherd means understanding what God has done to lead you, and then reflecting that love back to others in practical, self-sacrificial actions that solve actual real-world problems for other people who want to know and serve God. If you are about to jump off a cliff, the last thing you need is someone with no wisdom or experience telling you that God is OK with you doing whatever feels good to you. What you need is someone practical and competent to give you good advice, however much that advice may make you feel bad, or block your pursuit of fun.
One of my friends proof-read the draft of this post and told me that it made her think of 2 Cor 1:3-5:
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,
4 who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
5 For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.“
Nothing else I do in life matters to me as much as taking care of the people I mentor, especially the ones who are lost and lacking guidance and care. I have good health, good education, good career, and great finances. But by far the most important thing I do is following the example of the Shepherd by caring for other lambs.