Tag Archives: Self-Centeredness

Bible study: responsibilities and obligations in Philippians 1-4

Bible study that hits the spot
Bible study that hits the spot

Here are some parts of Philippians that speak to an issue that I think is a problem today for many Christians – self-centeredness.

Philippians 2 talks about the importance of not being self-centered, but instead being focused on the needs of others.

Phil 2:1-8:

2 Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion,2 make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. 3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

And Phil 2:19-23:

19 But I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, so that I also may be encouraged when I learn of your condition. 20 For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare. 21 For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus. 22 But you know of his proven worth, that he served with me in the furtherance of the gospel like a child serving his father.

Nothing very complicated here, it’s important to look out for the interests of others and to be concerned about their welfare.

I think it’s a good idea to be practical about partnering with people, and instead of just speaking words like “I care” or “I’ll pray for you”, try to find out what needs to be done and do it. Solve the problem with actions. Prayer is important, of course, because so much of what happens to that other person is in God’s hands. You aren’t going to be around all the time, but God is, so talk to him about the other person and what you’re planning to do. But you must also do your part, and do it intelligently and effectively. (The New Testament book of James talks about the need to accompany good wishes with actions that solve the problem)

Also don’t just stand back and give orders while feeling righteous. Many people want to influence others by just quoting the Bible, putting on pious airs, or using mere words. This doesn’t work in any area of the real world. Instead, take a more active approach. Think about the problem that is preventing someone from serving Christ well, and then act to make it easier for the person to do the right thing.

I’ve been able to achieve good success by praying AND performing supportive actions, rather than by issuing commands or prayer alone. For example, I’ve gotten people to transition for useless careers into IT careers, got them to pay off their high-interest debts, got them to switch their majors from something useless to something useful, got them to move on from an abortion or a divorce, got them to not commit suicide, listened to their health problems, helped them pass the GRE or the GMAT or something, got them to take a better job, got them to do a public speaking engagement, taught them how to debate their atheist brother, sponsored a Christian speaker at their university, helped them recover from bad parents, etc. It’s pretty fun to partner with people to further the Kingdom, but if you just leave it at prayer and giving orders, you won’t get the same good results.

All it takes to move from prayer alone to prayer and solutions is to think about other people like a puzzle, and then sacrifice some of your time or your money to build them up. I have a lot of experience doing this, but it’s not something that I learned to do in church. Church doesn’t teach you to be practical about following the Bible intelligently and with your own initiative. It’s set up to favor emotions (singing) and passive listening. To be active, you have to think about the Bible from a higher strategic level. Think about who Jesus is, and then follow his example. Don’t read the Bible in order to just feel happy or sound pious, instead try to make a plan to really DO good. Your goal should be to achieve a result in line with Jesus’ character and goals.

By the way, part of being able to partner with other people to solve problems with actions is being capable yourself. Don’t study stupid things in college. Don’t get into debt. Don’t try to fill your days with fun and thrills. Instead, study hard things, get hard jobs in the private sector, save your money, and learn useful skills. That way, you’ll be able to do more when something more than passive words or feelings is needed. One time, a woman I knew severely hurt her hand at work. She has OCD, and liked to clean the stairs in her house every day. She has a furry cat who drops fur everywhere. So she was lugging this heavy vacuum up and down the stairs every day. And spending a lot of time ironing with an old-fashioned heavy iron, too. So I bought her a hand vacuum and a fancy new iron. With the extra time she saved, she was able to do more reading, public speaking and helping others. Doing Christianity well means making yourself strong, so you can look after others with more than just feelings, piety and prayers.

Philippians is my favorite book of the Bible. And the most important thing about Philippians is that it’s good to be focused on other people, and not on ourselves, and to think of the interests of others, not our own interests. It’s good to get down into the weeds of other people’s problems, and act to self-sacrificially to solve them. Read the book (it’s short) and see if there are not people who you could partner with by helping them solve problems so they can be more effective.

Why do so many Christian musicians, artists, athletes and celebrities leave the faith?

A conflict of worldviews
A conflict of worldviews

Several people sent me the story about a former Hillsong worship leader who decided to leave Christianity. Since we’ve had a few high profile departures, I thought it might be worth giving my very controversial view on Christian musicians, artists, athletes and celebrities. I’ve always been suspicious of celebrities claiming to be Christians and there’s a very simple reason why.

Anyway, here is the story sent to me by Tiasunep, published in the Christian Today.

It says:

Hillsong worship leader has reportedly walked away from the Christian faith after posting a – since removed – Instagram update in which he said he was “not in anymore”.

[…]”Time for some real talk… I’m genuinely losing my faith.. and it doesn’t bother me… like, what bothers me now is nothing… I am so happy now, so at peace with the world.. it’s crazy / this is a soapbox moment so here I go xx how many preachers fall? Many. No one talks about it.

“How many miracles happen. Not many. No one talks about it. Why is the Bible full of contradictions? No one talks about it. How can God be love yet send 4 billion people to a place, all coz they don’t believe? No one talks about it.

“Christians can be the most judgemental people on the planet – they can also be some of the most beautiful and loving people… but it’s not for me. I am not in any more.”

[…]Science keeps piercing the truth of every religion,” he writes.

“Lots of things help people change their lives, not just one version of God. Got so much more to say, but for me, I keeping it real.

[…]The news has saddened many in the Christian scene who were still getting over a similar announcement made a few weeks ago by Joshua Harris, author of I Kissed Dating Goodbye.

Within the space of a week, he announced that he was separating from his wife and that he had fallen away from the Christian faith.

It looks to me like no one has ever made the evidential case for a Christian worldview to him, and he’s just crumbling because he doesn’t have answers to basic, ordinary questions.

In modern secular America, authentic Christianity is spelled A-P-O-L-O-G-E-T-I-C-S

In primitive areas of the world, a person could be a sincere Christian without knowing how to answer basic questions about scientific evidence for a creator, historical evidence for the resurrection of Jesus, philosophical defenses to the problems of evil and suffering, etc. But this is modern America, and there are atheists in the universities and in the workplace and just everywhere. If you meet someone in America who claims to be a Christian, it’s guaranteed that this person will have met atheists in these places. If this Christian has not put in any effort to learn how to answer basic questions about God’s existence, the resurrection, the problem of evil, etc, and they are regarded as very pious and spiritual, you should immediately distrust their claim to be a Christian.

1 Peter 3:15-16
1 Peter 3:15-16

Authentic Christians will be appropriately moved by the existence of people who not only do not accept a Creator, but also deny Jesus as Lord and Savior. And since the example of using reason and evidence to respond to skeptics is everywhere in the Bible, then sincere Bible believers will likewise want to find a way to answer people who question the Christian worldview. If you look at a Christian, and you can’t find anything in their writings or words that interacts with Christian scholarship and responds to popular challenges to the Christian worldview, then you’re looking at a fake Christian. Such a person is merely posing as a Christian for feelings, fame and peer approval. Every real Christian is concerned about defending God’s reputation and character. And the way that this is done in the Bible – and today – is with evidential apologetics.

There is no mature Christian worldview that majors in praise hymns, social justice, essential oils, devotional reading, etc. Today, right now, your co-worker is an atheist. Today, right now, your child’s professor is an atheist. If you haven’t put in the time to prepare a defense to the challenges right in front of your face – challenges that affect you and your legacy in Christ – but you have plenty of time to major in the minors for fame and fortune, then that’s a sign that you don’t have a Christian worldview. If all your Christianity is just having feelings, devotional reading and singing praise songs, then you need to ask yourself whether you’re not on the same road as this Hillsong worship leader.

Young people should be learning apologetics from their parents, pastors and other Christian leaders

It’s not surprising to me that the Hillsong worship leader is an apostate. What’s surprising to me is that anyone at all who is raised in any American church is able to preserve their faith for very long after leaving home. The churches in America do a poor job of equipping Christians to answer the most basic questions about the Christian worldview. Questions that could easily be answered after a few Lee Strobel books, or some True U DVDs. But in Christian homes and Christians churches, young people are never exposed to the challenges of non-Christians. They never do any investigations to learn how to respond to them. Then when they get to college, they feel (rightly) as if they’ve been brainwashed and indoctrinated by people in the church who were divorced from reality. And then they quit on Christianity. I see it all the time.

If you’re going to pick someone to look up to as a Christian, then choose people who have put in the time to study the truth claims of the Christian worldview enough to defend them to other scholars, using arguments and evidence. I admire people like William Lane Craig, Stephen C. Meyer, Michael Licona who actually debate non-Christians on university campuses and other public forums. In contrast, an entertainer isn’t usually qualified to defend truth claims.

Positive arguments for Christian theism

Pro-abortion man assaults pro-life woman at peaceful demonstration

Huma Abedin (left), Harvery Weinstein (center), Hillary Clinton (right)
Huma Abedin (left), Harvery Weinstein (center), Hillary Clinton (right)

I’m getting a little annoyed at how pro-abortion men are widely perceived to be superior to pro-life men. These days, men without any moral boundaries are “better”, because they don’t tell women what’s right or wrong. Well, here’s the truth: if a man is willing to put recreational sex above the obligation to care for innocent human beings, then he’s not a good man.

Here’s the video of the assault:

And here’s the story that goes with it, from Fox News.

Excerpt:

Jordan Hunt has been identified as the culprit behind the attack after a video of him spin-kicking the woman went viral. He deleted his social media accounts after the backlash.

In the video, he is seen approaching a group of pro-life activists and engaging them in a discussion about abortion before suddenly kicking an activist and ripping a Campaign Life ribbon off her jacket and fleeing the scene.

[…]Marie-Claire Bissonnette, the 27-year-old woman involved in the incident, is the youth coordinator with Campaign Life Coalition and has since spoken out about the ordeal.

“He kicked me in the shoulder, my phone went flying,” Bissonnette told the Toronto Sun. “I start shouting for someone to call police and before he runs away, he goes up to me and I had a ribbon on my jacket indicating the leader, he tore it off my chest.”

She said that the kick left her with minor pain and those who saw the incident “were in shock.”

[…]“It’s not the first time I’ve experienced physical aggression from people who disagree with our message,” she told the newspaper. “I don’t think it’s acceptable to show any physical violence to anyone who disagrees with you. The perpetrator should know that.”

In the last week, I’ve been seeing a lot of tweets from pro-abortion men who are very angry that their right to have recreational sex “without consequences” might be impacted by the new Supreme Court Justice, Brett Kavanaugh. Although they make a big deal about being “pro-woman”, they are really thinking about their own ability to have sex without having to take responsibility for their actions.

Let’s think through what a woman should be looking for in a man, by working backwards.

Getting old alone is difficult. So women should be thinking about how to keep a man committed to them after they lose start to lose their youth and beauty. The simplest way to not grow old alone is to invest early and often in a man who does what he promises to do even when it doesn’t feel good. Pro-abortion men are not the kind of men who make commitments that require them to sacrifice their own interests. After all, if a man thinks that it is OK to kill an unborn child in order to maximize his own pleasure, then he can’t be relied upon to put the woman’s interests above his own selfishness.

A good man never tells a woman to put selfishness above moral obligations, either. A good man always builds a woman up, and doesn’t think about what he can get from her first. Good men want to build women up so that it’s safe to commit to them, and to have children with them. Good men know that women need to be encouraged and cared for so that they are able to do the right things. And that means telling women the truth, and telling women “no” if the woman wants to do something morally wrong or reckless. Telling a woman yes when she wants to do something morally wrong isn’t loving her. It isn’t setting her up to be the kind of woman a man can commit to, and build a life with.

Although pro-abortion men seem to be better to feminists today, because they don’t tell women what’s right and wrong, they are actually worse, in the long run. Such men are no good for self-sacrificial love. Women should choose to avoid them, no matter how good they make women feel “in the moment”.

Survey: young, unmarried women explain why they avoid having children

This article comes from the leftist Huffington Post.

They write:

The Huffington Post and YouGov asked 124 women why they choose to be childfree. Their motivations ranged from preferring their current lifestyles (64 percent) to prioritizing their careers (9 percent) — a.k.a. fairly universal things that have motivated men not to have children for centuries. To give insight into the complex, layered decisions women make, HuffPost asked childfree readers to discuss the reasons they have chosen not to have kids and gathered 270 responses here.

They grouped the responses into 5 categories:

  1. I want to prioritize my career
  2. I don’t like children
  3. I had a bad relationship with my parents
  4. I don’t want the financial responsibility
  5. I like my life as it is

And here are some interesting quotations:

Category 1:

I am a first-generation college graduate in my family. My mother was a single mom my entire childhood, and I was there to see that struggle. Being a parent, for a woman, means for life. Being a parent, for men, seems to be something very different. I understand raising children is a big life change and I don’t want to sell myself short on my potential to become something more and maybe even create change. I am childfree because I want to travel, move, pursue my career wholly and be able to push myself to be an inspiration to other women. If a child comes into my life, it won’t be until I am happy and successful in my work life, and not until I am secure with my finances and a marriage. I don’t want to one day wake up as an old woman wishing I had waited to have children so I could live my own life first, make mistakes, learn new things and find myself. Today kids are not for me.

Category 2:

I’m nearly 47; my boyfriend (domestic partner) of 17 years is nearly 50. I’ve never been pregnant and have taken every precaution to remain childfree. I tolerate other people’s children when I have to. I’m happiest when there are NO children around. I definitely don’t want them in my home. I like my life as it is. My boyfriend and I are both scientists. We also raise snakes and spiders! We like to travel. We travel to ride roller coasters (members of ACE — American Coaster Enthusiasts) and to attend rock concerts. I am also a performer in a senior winter guard. My plate overfloweth! I see no reason to procreate. I would be unhappy. Why be unhappy?

Category 3:

I have a great relationship with my husband. We have the time and money to travel, and that gives us precious memories. I had a bad relationship with my dad, and maybe I’m scared to treat my children like that. I’m very happy with my decision. I have a great relationship with myself too.

Category 4:

My spouse and I have talked in depth about having children. However, we both decided that our desire to travel the world is a financial burden in itself. If we have kids, we will never have the means to travel, and at the end of our life, we would rather be 100 percent committed to fulfilling our own realistic dreams rather than only able to provide a subpar life for a child. Comes down to the fact we are selfish, but at least we recognize this and made the choice early enough to avoid damaging a kid

Category 5:

The thought of having to do kiddie crap every weekend makes me want to shoot myself. I like having the extra money to save for retirement and not worry about braces, summer camp or college tuition. I can travel on a moment’s notice. I can give my all to my job and not have to worry about daycare, sick days, or having to leave my co workers to pick up my slack. I’m the “cool aunt” to all my nieces and nephews. I have more time to do the things that make me happy and productive. My relationship with my guy is not strained due to the constant neediness of children. I don’t want to put my body through pregnancy and childbirth. I can give my dog all the attention he needs and deserves.

If I had to choose one comment to represent the entire survey, it would be this one:

The moment you have children, you’re life ceases to be about yourself. Kids always take priority and I feel like I can do more for this world than just generate offspring.

I think this is the real reason why young, unmarried women choose not to prepare or plan for marriage and children . Marriage and children “some day” is like planning for your retirement by winning the lottery. It’s a way for the woman to signal to her family and friends that she will eventually want the responsibility of a husband and kids, but not right now.

We need to move beyond a survey to quantify this, and this U.S. Census data does that:

Childless by choice, not because of men
Childless by choice, not because of men failing to “man up”

These quotations are very troubling to me. I’ve been serious about obtaining STEM degrees, saving money by not traveling, and making a plan to have a marriage and family that will serve God. I haven’t used my freedom to buy alcohol or to play the field sexually. I don’t see women being serious about choosing men who are serious about marriage – especially men who are financially prepared to pay for things like houses and children. A lot of women are even interested in men who are younger than they are, despite the fact that these men have not proven themselves in their careers and finances.

How can young, unmarried women be sincere about wanting marriage and children “some day” if they waste their 20s and 30s on men who aren’t prepared for the financial responsibility? And that’s not even to mention the fidelity responsibility – men who have self-control before marriage are more able to be faithful after marriage. It seems as if a faithful man who can provide for a family is that last thing that women want. Even if a man does find one who wants to get married, the financial situation between a marriage-minded man and a woman who has spent all her time traveling is going to be a huge mismatch.

Young, unmarried women seem to oppose marriage because they know it will impose responsibilities, expectations and obligations on them. And their parents, relatives, friends and co-workers are doing nothing to detect and counter this attitude. As Lindsay argued on this blog before, the marriage / children plan is an excellent way for Christians to make a difference. But it does take work – work that some young, unmarried women are deliberately avoiding.

Comparing male and female support for abortion, divorce and gay marriage

Disclaimer: This post doesn’t apply to married women. When I refer to women below, I mean young, unmarried women. But I’m just going to say “women” for brevity’s sake.

Are women really more moral than men? Let’s take a look at the attitudes of men and women on five of the most prominent moral issues of our time: gay marriage, divorce, abortion, war, and crime.

Gay marriage, divorce and abortion

Here is Pew Research on gay marriage as of 2016:

Women far more likely to support gay marriage than men
Women are more immoral on gay marriage than men

Women favor gay marriage by a margin of 58% compared to only 52% for men.

Here is the Austin Institute on divorce in 2014:

Women are more immoral on divorce than men
Women are more immoral on divorce than men

Women initiate about 70% of divorces, even though they freely chose the man they married, and vowed to stick by him through all circumstances.

Here is Gallup on abortion as of 2015:

Women are more immoral on abortion than men
Women are more immoral on abortion than men

About 75% of young, unmarried women vote for the Democrat party – the party of unrestricted, taxpayer-funded abortion.

Abortion ignores the needs of unborn children. Same-sex marriage ignores the need of children for a mother and a father. Divorce devastates children, causing all sorts of negative effects. Men are more willing to judge all three of these bad behaviors than women. Men are more concerned about protecting the weak than they are about feeling compassionate and being perceived as “tolerant”.

What about war and self-defense against criminals?

Women are also more liberal than men on war and self-defense. You can just look at what happened in the Middle East to the Yazidi girls who are being raped and sex-trafficked to understand the consequences of this anti-war viewpoint. To be anti-war when the war is just is to be pro-evil. Just ask the Christians being tortured and murdered in Syria whether they are happy that American troops were withdrawn from Iraq. Just ask the victims of crimes like rape whether they wish they had been armed when they were attacked. Men are tougher on terrorists and criminals than women are.

Blaming men for what women choose to do

This data shows that men should be challenging women to improve their views on these important issues. But Christian pastors and scholars often discourage men from challenging women on moral issues, preferring to blame men when women take the wrong side of moral issues.

For example, here’s Mark Driscoll explaining how men are to blame for single motherhood:

Part of it is the unintended consequences of divorce. Forty percent of kids go to bed at night without a father. Not to be disparaging toward single moms, but if you’re a single mom and you’re working 60 hours a week, and you’ve got a boy, and he’s home all by himself with no parents and no dad, he’s just going to be hanging out with his buddies, feeding himself pizza rolls.

The number one consumer of online pornography is 12- to 17-year-old boys. What that means is he’s home eating junk food, drinking Monster energy drinks, downloading porn, masturbating and screwing around with his friends. That really doesn’t prepare you for responsible adulthood. That’s a really sad picture, especially if you’re a single gal hoping to get married someday. You’re like: “Seriously, that’s the candidate pool? You’ve got to be kidding me.” That’s why 41 percent of births right now are to unmarried women. A lot of women have decided: “I’m never going to find a guy who is actually dependable and responsible to have a life with. So I’ll just get a career and have a baby and just intentionally be a single mother because there are no guys worth spending life with.”

This practice among Christian leaders of blaming men for the actions of women is one of the major reasons why women have the views that they do on abortion, divorce, gay marriage, just war and self-defense. Men have been cowed into silence by man-blamers like Mark Driscoll and James Dobson. This message actually weakens the moral leadership of men, and creates a worse world.

This lack of moral leadership by men is particularly problematic with “pro-life” men who try to blame men for abortion. Abortions occur (in non-rape cases) because a woman makes two choices: 1) choosing a man who only wants recreational sex, and 2) choosing to have recreational sex with a man who has shown no interest in commitment or parenting. Speaking as an unmarried virgin somewhat advanced in years, there are plenty of good men out there who don’t believe in sex before marriage, and who have prepared very well for the traditional male roles of protector, provider and moral/spiritual leader. If women insist on choosing the wrong men, and choosing to do the wrong things with those men, it makes sense to hold them accountable. The bad men were bad before the women chose them, and so they should have been recognized and avoided by the women before any need for abortion occurred. A woman cannot expect a bad man to suddenly turn into a good man after he is given recreational sex. Recreational sex does not make a man who is not interested in marriage and children somehow become interested in marriage and children. And women need to be told this by pro-life men who are not cowards.

Men really need to shed this perception that there is something wrong with them, and challenge women on areas where they have immoral views. Men: don’t let yourselves be manipulated into silence in order to get affection, approval or sex. If you must have affection, approval and sex, then choose a woman who puts moral standards above feeling happy and being perceived as compassionate.