Thoughts on Being Unequally Yoked and Fellowshipping With Darkness

For most of my Christian life I have assumed that the command in 2 Corinthians 6:14, telling Christians not to be unequally yoked, referred only to dating and marriage. It was not until very recently that my eyes have been opened to the reality that this command goes beyond romantic relationships to include all relationships of an intimate nature. Here is the 2 Corinthians 6 passage in full context:

O Corinthians! We have spoken openly to you, our heart is wide open. You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted by your own affections. Now in return for the same (I speak as to children), you also be open. Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” Therefore; “Come out from among the and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” (2 Corinthians 6:11-18, NKJV)

Taken at face value, this certainly sounds like a prohibition on any and all interactions with those who are unsaved, but obviously that cannot be the case. How could we fulfill the Great Commission if we eschew all relations with nonbelievers? This is where historical context is key, so I did some in-depth research on the subject.

The church in Corinth was started by Paul himself, therefore it is natural that he had a particular affection and concern for the Corinthians. At the time of the writing of the letters in 1 and 2 Corinthians, Corinth was a thriving trade city, rife with idolatry and sexual immorality. Unfortunately, much of these pagan ways were sneaking their way into the church and influencing how the Christians in Corinth worshipped God, as well as how they conducted their lives. In 2 Corinthians, Paul praises the church in Corinth for heeding his warnings in his earlier letters and repenting of their follies. He had heard some concerning reports, however, and wrote the letters contained in 2 Corinthians (most historians believe 2 Corinthians is a collection of more than one letter) for the purpose of addressing these worrisome things he had heard. One of the concerns he had was the intimate mingling of Christians with non-Christians. The Greek word used for the phrase “unequally yoked together” is heterozugeo, and appears just this once in the Bible. It’s actually a compound agricultural word that translates to: “to yoke up differently; to associate discordantly; unequally yoke together.” It paints a clear picture of yoking together two different animals, such as an ox with a donkey, for the purpose of plowing a field or pulling a wagon. This practice fundamentally does not work, and results in work that is poorly done or unable to be completed at all. Paul’s concern in this passage is that the Corinthian Christians were having all sorts of “yoked” relationships with pagans, from marriages to close business partnerships to intimate friendships. The problem with such relationships is the potential for the relationship to compromise the integrity and ministry of the believer. As we have all heard, it’s easier to drag someone down than it is to pull someone up. Also, when Christians have close relations with people whose values do not match the Bible, the natural response is often to turn a blind eye to the sin or to water down Biblical truth in order to keep from offending the nonbeliever. This is in direct disobedience to the command that we are to have no fellowship with darkness, but rather to seek it out and expose it (Ephesians 5:11). The commentary in my 1599 Geneva Bible offers the following insight:

“Now he [Paul] rebuked them boldly, for that they became fellows with infidels in outward idolatry, as though it were a thing indifferent.”

The real question here is what constitutes unequal yoking. It’s not spelled out in black and white terms, and whenever there’s grey area you will find divided opinions. I think we all can safely agree that our relationships are something we should routinely examine. This is not to say that we should have nothing to do with nonbelievers, but that we should tread carefully and utilize discernment. The first and foremost purpose of our friendships with nonbelievers should be to bring them to salvation. When the degree of closeness of our relationship with a nonbeliever begins to compromise our Christian walk or our outward ministry to the world, it’s time to step back and pray about it. I’ll close with the commentary of 2 Corinthians 6:14 found in my Archaeological Study Bible, as I believe it accurately sums up how the Holy Spirit has convicted me regarding friendships with nonbelievers:

“Paul pleaded with the Corinthians not to be ‘yoked together’ with unbelievers. He was referring to any kind of association that might significantly form an individual’s identity. Determining whether someone is ‘yoked together’ with another is a judgement call. The answer depends on the degree, significance, purpose and level of self-identification involved in one person’s relationship with another.” (Emphasis mine.)

Truths About Truth

Truth. Man, that’s a powerful word, isn’t it? Well, it should be powerful; however, we live in a world where truth has become so watered down and completely relative, that the word has really lost all its meaning. The part that has been plaguing me is that this desensitization to the truth has even trickled down into Christianity. When we have a question, should we not first look to the Bible and take it to prayer? Sadly, few Christians do that anymore. The first thing we do is consult our friends or do a quick Google search to find our answers, and as long as what we get meshes with our preconceived notions then we continue merrily along our way never realizing that we are often living a lie. The Bible, God’s instruction guide to mankind, should be lighting our path and not words from fellow men. When did this happen? When did we stop allowing the Holy Spirit and His Word to guide our decisions?

The other problem as I see it is that society as a whole has had too drastic an influence on our faith. All the world cares about is the here and now. Everyone wants what feels good and what doesn’t push anyone too far outside of his or her comfort zone. This has sadly become a popular theme in the church as well. When Christians are occasionally faced with biblical truth that defies what we have always been taught was acceptable by the world, our human defenses immediately go up and we close our ears. When backed into a corner of truth, we would rather get angry, become emotionally illogical, or flat out ignore God’s word than entertain even for a moment that perhaps we are in the wrong.

I’ve been prayerfully begging God for some time now that He would change my heart into His heart. It is my desire that He would do away with my erroneous instincts and human limitations. That prayer has resulted in some pretty huge changes in my life that have caused many others to assume that I have pretty much lost my mind. Well, I sure hope that’s the case, because that is precisely what I have been praying for! If losing my mind means gaining God’s, then you know what? I am all in!

The Bible tells us that we are not of this world (John 17:14-17), and that while we must for a time dwell in the world, we should not be guilty of becoming like the world. Christians, the time has come for us to set aside our presuppositions, traditions and worldliness, and look solely to the Bible as the guide for our lives. If you are faced with a truth that ruffles your feathers, I urge you to prayerfully consider that perhaps the Holy Spirit is convicting you about something you need to change. After all, confrontation of error or sin is rarely ever an enjoyable experience, but it is necessary for personal and spiritual growth. Look back in your life and ask yourself when you have grown the most: through times of comfort and ease, or through difficult and unpleasant circumstances? And when it was over and you were forever changed, did you ever regret what you went through?

In closing, there are four things I exhort you to remember:

1. We cannot allow our feelings or emotions to guide our choices. Feelings are exceedingly changeable and far too susceptible to whims and moods. The truth can never be changeable. He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but whoever walks wisely will be delivered. (Proverbs 28:26); There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death. (Proverbs 14:12); The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. (Jeremiah 17:9).

2. If we are participating in so-called Christian activities that are embraced by the saved and unsaved alike, perhaps we should take a step back and ask ourselves if these activities are truly of the Lord, or if we have fallen victim to the Great Deceiver. Remember that Satan rarely comes in the form of blatant evil; rather, he stealthily slips into our lives and takes on the form of things that make us feel warm and happy. Such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. (2 Corinthians 11:13-14)

3. Lastly, and most importantly, let the Holy Spirit and God’s infallible Word be our guide, not the traditions of the world. It’s very likely that if you are doing the will of the Father, the unsaved world is not going to like you for it. There is even a chance that fellow “Christians” may mock and condemn you. Jesus himself faced persecution for speaking and living the truth and tells us that the same will be true for us. If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (John 15:18-19)

4. When we ask God to make truth known to us, wisdom most certainly will be given. It may not be easy to face, but God will give us joy when we embrace the truth. My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. (James 1:2-5) Let us not forget that even Eve was deceived by Satan (Genesis 3:13), and she lived daily in the presence of the Lord! The devil is very, very good at his job, and he will deceive many, both inside and outside of the church. The great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. (Revelation 12:9)

truth

Being a Woman of Integrity

It seems to me that there are a lot of articles, sermons and books exhorting men to be “men of integrity,” but there doesn’t seem to be much of a push for women to do the same. Why is that, I wonder? Is it not equally important that women – especially women who claim to be Christians – to live with integrity? I’ve been dwelling on that thought for the past several days. Subsequently, the thought has given birth to a desire for a new blog post.

First things first, let’s define integrity. A quick Google search yields this:
Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 11.30.39 AMThis is a pretty basic understanding of what integrity means. As a Christian, I believe it’s even more specific and all the more more important, as we are God’s representatives here on earth. Charles Swindoll, of Insight for Living, has this to say on Christian integrity:
Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 11.34.27 AM

That’s not a very popular view today, is it? It seems all that matters nowadays is looking after one’s self. Just turning on the television will give an idea of how society regards integrity. The most popular shows are the ones that glorify adultery, sexual promiscuity, murder, theft, violence, you name it. No one bats an eye at the idea of using lies and manipulation to further self interests. Even Christians watch these shows and without realizing the impact they’re having on our hearts. But these things are the very opposite of what the Bible teaches.

Let’s face it: being a Christian is tough. Most of the time, being a Christian means taking the path of most resistance. In a culture that glorifies living in the flesh, Christ admonishes to rise about our debase human instincts to be more like Him. A woman of integrity strives to be like Jesus in public as well as in private. That doesn’t mean we’re perfect or somehow without sin because, there’s no getting around it, we all goof. What it does mean is that we’re aware of our choices and consistently striving to choose to live according to our convictions. It’s so important to realize that when we tell the world we’re Christian, people are going to be watching us and scrutinizing our actions. What are we telling the world by our lifestyle? Are we being a light in the darkness (Matthew 5:14-16), or are we a part of the darkness itself? Are we obeying Biblical commands or using our salvation as a free pass to live however we please? If we never told our friends and family that we are Christian, would they still be able to know it based the way we live our lives? These are important questions to ask ourselves on a regular basis. One quote that frequently comes to mind when I think of integrity is this:

aitheism

As Christian mothers, I find it especially important that we live with integrity. Our children are watching our every move. Our choices are shaping their little hearts. When they see us living one life at church or in front of Christians friends and another life in private or with our worldly friends, what message is that sending them? Are we pointing them towards God or towards the devil?

I realize that this is a difficult topic for many of us, but it’s of the utmost importance that we talk about this as believers. Morality is on it’s way out, so it’s my conviction that living a life of integrity is more important than ever. Let us remember The Great Commission in all the ways we live our lives, not just our words and actions in front of a select few – and in so doing, we will reflect Christ to the unsaved world. Amen.

Extra Activities for Life of Fred: Edgewood

As I wrote in a previous blog post, our family is really loving the Life of Fred math books. I spend lots of time preparing the lessons in advance so that I can give my children extra activities along with the chapters they read. I’m thankful that with a little time and effort on my part, I’ve been able to come up with lots of fun enrichment activities to go along with each chapter we’ve read so far. I decided to begin compiling all the resources I’ve found into easy-to-read blog posts that will break each book down, chapter by chapter, so that others can utilize these resources as well. Since we began with Life of Fred: Edgewood (book 5 in the 10-book elementary series), I am going to start there. (My 5-year-old will soon be starting right from the beginning with Life of Fred: Apples, so in time I should be able to have Extra Activities blog posts for every single book!) I hope you’re able to find these resources as helpful as we have!

edgewood

Chapter 1: Wednesday Morning
– In this chapter we learn it is Fred’s 1855th day of life. Just for fun, we used this printable worksheet to figure out how old my daughter is in years>days>hours>minutes. (I had her do the multiplication for the first two, and for the rest we used a calculator.)
– The chapter also introduces quadrilaterals, and this fun quadrilateral recognition worksheet goes perfectly with it. (You can have your student color each of the kites corresponding with a color assigned within the word bank.)

Chapter 2: Meeting Troubles
– Right angles are discussed in this chapter, so I found this right angles identification worksheet.
– Fred encounters an announcement in the KITTENS University newspaper stating that the President of KITTENS was on a skiing trip. Using this snow theme, I decided to incorporate a little basic division practice using this ice-themed worksheet.

Chapter 3: Facing Your Fears
– In this chapter, we learn about functions (rules) and have to try and figure out the functions of a few problems. These input and output worksheets are great supplements to help identify functions.

Chapter 4: Where’s Edgewood?
– At the very beginning of the chapter, Fred mentions the lyrics “on the shores of Tripoli.” These lyrics come from the U.S. Marine Hymn. I decided that my kiddo should hear it, so I looked up the song on YouTube and here it is. Math should sometimes include music, right? 🙂
– We used our globe to look at the various places mentioned, such as Tripoli, Lybia, the Red Sea, and Scotland.
– We are introduced to the concept of median numbers (such as median income) in this chapter. I found this great worksheet for calculating medians. It’s pretty basic, and comes with an answer page!
– Lastly, there’s a question at the very end of the chapter reiterating the definition of ordinal numbers, so I found this fun and colorful ordinal vs cardinal worksheet particularly helpful!

Chapter 5: On the Bus
– I felt that this particular chapter had a lot of information to absorb and has plenty of questions to answer at the end, so I felt that the chapter alone was sufficient. I decided it was time to switch things up a little bit and have some fun instead of doing more worksheets. I found this blank bus coloring page and let my daughter get creative and decorate her own bus.

Chapter 6: Fame
– One of the problems at the end of the chapter has the student draw a bar graph showing some facts. I found this blank bar graph template to be helpful for that. (I saved the photo to my computer and then adjusted the size before printing so it was large enough to fill the paper.)
– I found a fun bar graph worksheet about the planets for my kiddo to do, since she’s all about the solar system right now.

Chapter 7: Reading on the Bus
– In this chapter, we learn about comparing number values (greater than, less than, or equal to). My daughter has been needing a refresher on basic fractions, so I found this helpful comparison worksheet generator that generates custom comparison worksheets for fractions up to twelfths and made my own worksheet. (I chose to go all the way up to eighths.)
– To make the fractions a little easier for her to visualize, I found this fraction circles blank template. I printed it out and then put it into a sheet protector so that she can draw the various fractions for comparison with a white board marker and then erase it and do it again for each of the comparison equations.

Chapter 8: Bus Stop
– This chapter is all about telling time. Naturally, a telling-time worksheet is a perfect pairing.
– For those more advanced, there also some great time-lapsed printable worksheets here and here.

Chapter 9: Into Missouri
– This is another one of those chapters I feel has plenty of work to concentrate on. One thing helpful is to use Math-U-See blocks or Cuisenaire Rods to calculate the various answers to question number 3 (“List all pairs of numbers that add to 8.”)
– My daughter enjoys the silly math poems. For a bit of fun, I found these math jokes for kids for us to read together.

Chapter 10: A View From the Bus
– This chapter introduces some pretty big concepts, such as income taxes and percentages. It also delves into addition with regrouping (a.k.a. carrying). This is something my child already knows how to do. It doesn’t hurt to have a refresher, however, so I went to education.com and printed up some addition with regrouping worksheets. (I tend to lean toward the colorful worksheets as they are less intimidating by taking the focus off all the numbers.)
– If you’d like to delve further into the concept of percentages, there are some great worksheets here.

Chapter 11: A Glass of Polka Dots
– Chapter 11 talks about polka dots and patterns. I found this simple “spot the pattern” worksheet that is simple, but still amusing.
– Play coins are every helpful for tactile learners (like my daughter). You can rearrange the “polka dots” (coins) like Fred does in the story.
– As mentioned in Chapter 9, using math blocks can be helpful in answering some of the questions.
– This chapter talks a little bit more about percentages, so the percentage worksheets I mentioned in Chapter 10 can continue to come in handy. (Note: from here on out, my child will do 2 of these worksheets a day to keep up with the concepts.)
– Here’s a great game for teaching percentages.

Chapter 12: Sharing
– Utilizing a white board or a blank piece of paper is a good idea for this chapter. When Fred mentions that “Fred” has 4 letters and “Gauss” has 5 letters, then compares it to the vending machines at the university (“4 on one side and 5 on the other”), you can draw on the whiteboard/paper and show 4 squares on one side and 5 squares on the other to represent the vending machines on either side of the hall. Then your child can write F-R-E-D and G-A-U-S-S into the squares to see a hands-on working model of 4+5=9.
– You can then help your child calculate how many letters total are in his or her own name.
– This fractions of an hour worksheet ties in perfectly with question 3 in “Your Turn to Play.”

Chapter 13: Flying
– The bar graph template I linked to back in Chapter 6 is helpful for doing problem number 5.
– For this particular chapter, I felt that drawing out the bar graph and continuing to to the worksheets I mentioned in chapter 11 was a sufficient amount of work.
– Just for fun, this YouTube video of stunt planes performing tricks is perfect for going along with this chapter.

Chapter 14: Food and Warmth
– The questions at the end of this chapter are about asking what half of a number is (e.g. what is half of 100?). Another way of looking at it is dividing the numbers by two. I found a dividing by twos worksheet to help reinforce that concept.

Chapter 15: Errors
– Part of the chapter briefly touches on constellations versus asterisms. I decided to take that a bit farther, since *I* didn’t even know what the difference between constellations and asterisms are! I looked it up here then explained it to my child. I found two dot-to-dot worksheets that show the difference. You see, an asterism is a grouping of stars that is not recognized as a constellation whereas a constellation is a larger group of stars that created a shape. I printed this connect-the-dots worksheet of Ursa Major and then this connect-the-dots worksheet of the Big Dipper so that I can point out how the Big Dipper is actually located inside of Ursa Major. (If you’re not a member of that website you can save the thumbnail and then print it 200% larger for a good sized worksheet). Here is a great photo that shows Ursa Major in its entirety so that they can see why it’s called Ursa Major. All in all, it was a fun way to tie astronomy into our math lesson!

Chapter 16: Warm
– These playing card math worksheets tie in perfectly with the math game that Fred watches the family play. (The worksheets are free with a membership to the site, which is also free.)

Chapter 17: A Family
– This chapter brings back the concept of guessing the math function, so I used this “function machine” worksheet as a little more practice.

Chapter 18: To Edgewood
– This chapter talks about median averages again, so I located another median average worksheet to go along with it.

Chapter 19: To KITTENS
– In this final chapter, there’s a brief reference to Fred paying for his flight home with eight five-dollar bills. I figured I’d take the opportunity to work on some money math. We have play money here, so I let my child use the money itself to help work through the problems in these money math worksheets.

And that’s the end of Life of Fred: Edgewood! Stay tuned for more as we work through the LOF books. 🙂

Product Review: Life of Fred

Math has always been a struggle for my eldest child. We’ve been using Math-U-See for the past couple of years. It worked pretty well in the beginning because my child is a very tactile (hands-on) learner. The math blocks were perfect for helping her visualize the problems and fully understand the whys and hows of the math she was doing. Unfortunately, after a couple of years she became very tired of the pages upon pages of worksheets. She began to become very frustrated by it and in time it turned into a battle every single time she had to do math. Consequently, she fell behind in the math department. (Fortunately, for several years we were ahead of the game, so at this point she’s really only about 6 months behind.) I finally realized that we were at a breaking point and something needed to give. We needed a new approach and a way to make things fun, stat. After many hours of research, I decided upon Life of Fred.

Disclaimer: I was not paid or in any way compensated for writing this review. I purchased the product myself and am freely choosing to review the product because of our personal success in using it.

Now that that’s out of the way, I’ll get on with my review! Life of Fred is a revolutionary approach to math. It’s basically an ongoing story that tells the story of Fred Gauss’ life. We started the series with Edgewood (book 5 in the 10-book elementary series.) What we have learned so far about Fred is that he’s a precocious and peculiarly small 5-year-old who is a math professor at KITTENS University. He, along with his doll and best friend Kingie, experience all sorts of adventures where they are constantly met with mathematical problems that need solving. It’s very silly and lots of fun to read! They also successfully manage to sneak math into it. My daughter LOVES it. It’s been a long time since she was last able to do math with excitement rather than tears. Wow! Unlike other math books, Life of Fred doesn’t constantly harp on one math technique until my daughter is ready to pull her hair out. It keeps moving at the pace of life, which keeps my child interested and engaged. On the practical side, I love that it’s not a consumable workbook, so it can be used over and over for all of my children. All you need is a spiral notebook and a pencil and you’re good to go!

My one and only complaint is that there are only a handful of actual enrichment problems with each chapter in the elementary series. (It is my understanding that is not the case in the more advanced books.) For some children this approach may work, but my child needs a little practice for the sake of reviews, as well as hands-on ways of applying what she’s learned. For us, extra supplementation is needed. The good news is that we have so far been able to find all the supplementation needed for free online with relatively little research on my part. It’s actually been a fun challenge for me to come up with creative ways to implement what we’ve read about in each chapter. (I will be beginning a new series shortly with links to all the FREE resources I’ve utilized as we’ve gone through the various books. I’m beginning my 5-year-old on the Life of Fred: Apples book – the first book in the elementary series – so I should be able to do a post for every single book in the series! Stay tuned! )

All in all, I must say that Life of Fred is a total WIN. It’s everything I hoped it would be, and the only drawback is an easily surmountable hurdle. For anyone who has a child struggling with math or needing a fun way of learning it, this is the resource for you!

And, just for fun, here’s a photo of Fred. 🙂

lifeoffredEnjoy your math adventures!

On Josh Duggar, Sexual Sin, and the Sanctity of Marriage

Anyone with an internet connection has probably heard the news that Joshua Duggar was found guilty of viewing pornography and engaging in extramarital sexual affairs. From Duggar haters to Christians who once defended Josh in spite of his actions as a teenager, the internet is abuzz with this latest gossip and many people are happily riding their high and mighty horses.  I will admit to being one of those who once stood behind Josh and attempted to defend his actions as being a teenager who screwed up but since learned his mistake and mended his ways. I promise that I will try to stay off any high horses while I write this blog post. In fact, I am stopping intermittently as I type to pray and ask for guidance in my words so that it’s not my words coming out, but words reflecting God’s heart.

Josh Duggar is a sinner. His sins, it would seem, are rooted in sexual deviancy. He looked at pornography online. I also once viewed pornography before Jesus got a firm grasp on my heart. Josh is guilty of committing adultery. I was once the “other woman” and my sole reason for engaging in those acts was to get back at the woman he was dating because she was the “other woman” while he was in a committed relationship with me. Josh sought out extramarital affairs. I, too, engaged in sexual promiscuity outside of marriage. Like Josh, I am deeply sorry for those sins in which I partook. I absolutely will not stand here and throw stones at this man for committing sins of which I am also guilty; neither will I defend his actions. He was wrong. I was wrong. There you have it.

Here’s the thing that gets me, though. The primary difference between Josh Duggar and myself is the fact that I was never a public figure and willfully drawing attention to myself and parading around pretending to be a paradigm of righteousness while living a secret double life. As Christians we are not free of sin. We still mess up and have to fall back on God’s grace daily to help us. But when we struggle – and I promise you, we all struggle – we ought not to hide it, but rather we should look it straight in the face, repent and get help. Josh is so desperately in need of that help right now, but so many people are too busy judging him to stop and offer to help. When our brother in Christ struggles, let’s try to get past the initial shock and work on building him up and freeing him from the bondage of his sin.

The last thing that I want to address is how this all affects the sanctity of marriage. Joshua Duggar hypocritically went around speaking out against homosexuals and lobbying for Washington to put an end to homosexual marriage because of the negative impact it would have on the sanctity of marriage, meanwhile he was privately violating the sanctity of his own marriage. The Christian community as a whole needs to stop sweeping the subject of sexual sin under the rug. It’s time to address the giant pink elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about. We Christians tend to be quite fond of being vocal about how wrong homosexuality is, meanwhile we’re turning our heads to those among us who are having sex with people to whom they aren’t married, living with significant others before marriage, and divorcing and remarrying left and right. Y’all, this is absolutely an epidemic of sexual immorality we’re dealing with. We tiptoe around these people scared to death to call them on their sin because it’s not “PC” (even in the Christian world) to talk about those sins. But, hey, let’s all go throw stones at the homosexuals. Hello, brothers and sisters, it’s time to wake up! The sanctity of marriage is not in jeopardy because of the LGBT community; it’s in jeopardy because of lukewarm, apathetic Christians who no longer value fighting for biblical morality.

If you are professing to be a Christian while viewing pornography, having sex with someone to whom you are not married, partaking in sexual fantasies that are not being righteously fulfilled (a.k.a. within the boundaries of marriage), or even not “technically” engaging in sexual acts but are trying to bring sexual attention to yourself and causing others to stumble because of it, you need to repent immediately and seek out help. If we’re going to defend the sanctity of marriage we need to first stop pointing our finger at others for their sins and turn that finger right around and look at our own sins. When we get right with God, then we need to pray about finding a way to lift up our fellow brothers and sisters and help them overcome their obstacles in a spirit of love, grace and forgiveness.

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How Should Christians Respond to Abortion

I’ve been giving a whole lot of thought to the whole Planned Parenthood fiasco with those disturbing videos that keep being released, and the one thought that I keep coming back to over and over is the fact that there are so many Christians sitting by letting this happen and not saying a word about it. We can expect such indifference from the unsaved world, but how can those who profess to be followers of Christ possibly justify not taking a stand when babies are being slaughtered and their body parts sold? It’s so repulsive, so depraved, so morally repugnant that I simply cannot comprehend how it could possibly not invoke a powerful urge to action. Apparently, though, there are people who claim to be both Christian AND “pro-choice.” This simply cannot be. We cannot be both fresh water and salt water (John 3:11). And to those who believe abortion is wrong but never say or do anything about it – turning a blind eye and refusing to take a stand against it is just as bad as supporting it. But, hey, don’t just take my word for it; let’s see what the Bible says.

First of all, let’s look at how God views children:

  • Psalm 127:3 tells us, “Behold, children are a gift of the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward.” 
  • In Matthew 18, Jesus called a child to Himself and placed that child before the people and said in verse 3, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” In verse 5 He goes on to say, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” 
  • In Mark chapter 10, a group of people try to bring their children to see Jesus but the disciples admonished them for it. Jesus saw this and was incensed. In verse 14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”
  • Throughout the Old Testament we are told the importance of raising our children in reverence of the Lord. (Proverbs 22:6, Proverbs 22:15, Deuteronomy 6:7, Deuteronomy 11:9)
  • The New Testament also urges us to properly bring up children in the knowledge of the Almighty. (Ephesians 6:4, Timothy 3:14-15)

It’s clear that God loves children. He tells us that children are a blessing. He entrusts us with their care and exhorts us to rear them in the knowledge and understand of Himself. Jesus tells us that in order to get into heaven we ourselves must become like children in our faith. That paints a clear picture that He loves and treasures these little ones.

Now, let’s look at how God sees murder:

  • In the book of Exodus chapter 13 Moses is given the 10 Commandments. One of the most well-known is in verse 13: “You shall not murder.”
  • Leviticus 24:17 gives strong punishment for those guilty of committing murder: “Whoever takes a human life shall surely be put to death.”
  • In the New Testament Jesus not only upholds this command not to murder, but takes it one step further by saying, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.” (Matthew 5:21-22)

I think it’s pretty clear that God detests murder. As we deduced above, He loves children. It doesn’t take a theologian to put two and two together and conclude that abortion must absolutely break God’s heart. We are made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). 1 John 2:6 tells us that “Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.” If we are made like God and are called to live like Jesus lived, then it naturally follows suit that what breaks God’s heart should also break our hearts. If Jesus was angered by the apostles not allowing the children to be brought to Him, how much more angry must He be that people are massacring God’s blessings in the womb – what should be the safest place on earth for a baby – and then selling their little organs and body parts for profit?

There needs to be an outcry to God. We need to do all we can to put a stop to this. The time has come for Christians to take a stand and defend those who are unable to defend themselves. Let’s write letters and make phone calls to our Congressmen and Senators. We can stand outside of abortion clinics and offer to pray for the women going in and coming out. Most importantly, we need to talk about this. What will ever be accomplished if we do not speak up?

One day we will all stand before God on the Day of Reckoning. We will have to give an account of our actions, or in some cases, our lack of action. I don’t know about you, but I don’t ever want to stand before the Lord Almighty and have to explain to Him that I was too scared to speak out against the senseless slaughter of His little children. When I think of what Jesus did on that cross for me, I am given all the courage I need to face those who may disagree with me.

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My Rebuttal to Diary of an Autodidact’s Blog Post Entitled “The Duggars: How Fundamentalism’s Teachings on Sexuality Create Predatory Behavior”

I read a blog today which I found so deeply offensive that I felt compelled to take the time to type out a response to his post. I am going to attempt to address each of the author’s points and explain why I find his generalized, sweeping statements to be logical fallacy and downright outrageous. Keep in mind as you read that I, myself, am one of those “fundamentalist Christians” about whom the blog author is writing. I am also a survivor of childhood molestation at the hands of a family member. For the record, I was not raised fundamentalist; I wasn’t even raised Christian, for that matter. (Please read the original post here before reading my comments.)

The author of this blog starts out by saying , “Fundamentalist teachings on sex tend to lead to young men who would not otherwise be predators act out in predatory ways.” Here are his various statements to back up his claim, which I intend to refute.

“Thinking about sex is lust, and lust is as bad as doing it…This idea is hammered into children by Gothard and others. The hope is that they would be able to banish all sexual thoughts and desires until that magical wedding night when the switch is flipped.” This statement is asinine and not at all based in fact. I presume his assertion comes from Matthew 5:28 which says, “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” In this verse, Jesus is addressing intentionally lustful thoughts; in other words, the sexual coveting of another person. That’s not to say that men are never allowed to look at women and find them attractive, or vice versa. Simply put, what it means is that we believe it’s wrong to have mental sex with someone who is not your spouse, reducing them to the role of a visual prostitute. It is disrespectful of that person. It dehumanizes them and turns them into nothing more than an object. Lust distorts, dishonors, and destroys. As a so-called “fundamentalist Christian,” it’s my belief that we should practice self-control in all aspects in life – and that certainly includes our sexual thoughts and desires. Even within marriage we must practice sexual restraint at times. The verse is about keeping our hearts and thoughts in check and not allowing sexual thoughts to take over our lives; it’s not telling us that we’re never allowed to find another individual attractive.

“’Modesty Culture’ teaches that female bodies are the source of said sinful lust…The source of male sexual sin is the woman, who, by virtue of being attractive, causes him to lust.” No. Seriously, just…NO. This is completely wrong. I’ll be the first to say that I’m huge proponent of modesty, but it isn’t just about the way we dress. It’s about the state of our hearts. Modesty means humility and not living one’s life so as to constantly bring attention to one’s self. Being modest means holding ourselves accountable for not only our own thoughts, but also for our actions. Luke 17:1 states the following: “Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come.'” I believe that means that we are not to be stumbling blocks to other Christians. Also note that Jesus never specified that toward just women, either. None of us should be carrying on in such a way that would cause a brother or sister in Christ to fall into sin. In terms of modesty, we are all (men and women alike) held accountable for the way we present out bodies to the world. No, we cannot, and rightly should not, be held accountable for the thoughts of other individuals; however, Christians should make a conscience choice not to blatantly dress or behave in such a way that would cause others to be tempted to sin. The aforementioned verse about lust demonstrates Jesus clearly putting the guilt of immoral thoughts squarely on the individual thinking the lustful thoughts, not on the one who is the victim of said thoughts. This verse in Luke goes hand-in-hand with the verse in Matthew and addresses everyone else, making it clear that we should never be guilty of intentionally seeking to cause others to stumble. This, I believe, is the point the author fails to see. Like all of Jesus’ teachings, it comes down to our hearts. Are we putting ourselves and our own needs first, or do we have a servant’s heart that prioritizes others above ourselves? The very essence of Christianity is selflessness.

“Sexual desire is presented in a gendered way…The idea is that women don’t really want sex…Thus, females will always want to say no to sex, so the man will have to impose on them to some degree.” I’m guessing it’s been a while since this person has read Song of Songs. In case you need a refresher, Song of Songs is a collection of love notes from a man and woman to each other. It is a beautiful book about love and the gift of sex that God gives married people. God created men and women to enjoy sex! In many healthy Christian marriages, wives sometimes desire sex with their husbands more often than the husbands. That’s not abnormal or unhealthy, it’s simply the unique way God creates people. Never at any time have I been taught, nor will I ever teach others, that sex was designed solely for male pleasure. There’s nothing Biblical about that, and it’s certainly not a belief held by conservative Christians.

“No outlets for sexual feelings are acceptable – until marriage.” This one is broken down into several subcategories, so I am going to address each of them separately.

“Keep in mind that what applies to Gothardism also applies to most Fundie systems, and in some cases applies in significant part to mainstream Evangelicalism these days. Because of the obsession with preventing sex, these systems impose significant ‘safeguards’ against it occurring.” First of all, let me make it clear that Christians are not “obsessed with preventing sex.” I think I can speak for all conservative Christians when I say that what we are concerned with preventing is premarital and promiscuous sex. Those are different things entirely. Premarital/promiscuous sex leads to so many problems, both within the hearts of individuals and within intimate relationships as a whole, that if I were to touch on all the ways that these things cause permanent and sometimes irrevocable damage, I’m pretty sure it would take up an entire blog post in and of itself. From the emotional baggage it leaves behind to statistically-proven increased divorce rates, STDs to the perversion of sex it leads to… suffice it to say that sexual immorality is not good.

“For example, as I have already noted, they insist on constant work to repress any and all sexual feelings, because these are ‘lust.’ Second, as I noted, they work to keep female bodies from being visible. They must be hidden away as best possible, because without them, (presumably), young males wouldn’t want sex. This is what is behind the obsession with the way young girls dress, as I pointed out in my series.” I addressed all of these topics above.

“Third, in many of these systems – including Gothardism – cross-gender friendships are discouraged, and in some cases forbidden altogether. The young people must be kept from each other, or sexual feelings might develop.” Actually, this isn’t quite correct. That’s not to say that some families don’t go too far in their desire to help their children avoid sexual immorality, but I have never personally experienced this nor is this belief cultivated within my own family. We certainly are going to discourage the cultivation of inappropriate relationships with the opposite sex, such as allowing teenagers to spend long amounts of unchaperoned time with individuals of the opposite sex, but that’s because we have been teenagers ourselves and we know full well what can and does go on in those circumstances. Adolescents aren’t exactly known for their wise decision-making skills, so it’s my belief that there are times when it is appropriate for parents to establish guidelines for our children to follow to help them keep themselves accountable. If that’s wrong, then I will happily accept blame for that. We certainly do believe that boys and girls can be friends. If no one was ever permitted to socialize with the opposite gender, then how would anyone ever progress to the courtship stage?

“Fourth, many of these systems discourage sex education because it might lead to lust. This is particularly the case for girls, who ideally would learn about sex from their husbands on the wedding night. I wish I was making that one up. Certainly, a robust family discussion of sex is out of the question. Instead, sex isn’t talked about, except to say ‘don’t do it and don’t think about it.'” This is so far off base that I actually laughed when I read it. No, Christians are certainly not refusing sex ed. As I said before, I cannot speak for all families, and I know that in all sects there will be those extremists who do not account for the majority. His assertion is incorrect for not only my family but ALL of the like-minded families I know. We teach our children about sex from a Biblical view. We teach our children that it’s a wonderful gift God gives us and in the bounds of marriage can and should be thoroughly enjoyed. I answer questions my children may have in an honest and age-appropriate way, holding back only those things which discretion tells me their ears may be too young to hear.

“Fifth, the whole system of ‘courtship’ or ‘betrothal’ further separates the genders until that magical wedding night. For those not familiar with ‘courtship,’ it forbids dating of any kind until both parties are ready to marry. That is, until he has enough money and income to support her. At that time, he asks her father for permission, and the courtship takes place under closely supervised conditions. Chaperones are present always, and the couple is considered as essentially engaged from the beginning of the process.” Courtship is not as simple as this blogger makes it out to be. It looks very different from one family to the next. Generally speaking, pro-courtship families encourage the couple to work together to make their own set of standards that they wish to follow and utilize tools (such as chaperones) to help them maintain those standards in the event that temptation arises. Some courtships will have kissing and hand-holding, while others might choose to save any and all intimacy for marriage. Ultimately, it’s up to them. Furthermore, it’s important to understand that courtship and engagement are two completely different things; individuals within a courtship are free to leave the relationship at any time if they feel that God is not leading that relationship toward marriage. There are a lot of benefits to courtship or, as some call it, “dating with a purpose” – far too many for me to list here. Check out this article to read more about it from someone who is far more eloquent and knowledgeable than myself.

“My experience in these cases is that the young men involved – again, not adults, but 12-15 years old[sic] – have seriously screwed up beliefs about women, consent, and sex; because the teachings are obsessed with preventing sex, not in creating a healthy view of sexualty[sic], which embraces consent, female sexual desire, and equality within the sexual relationship.” I’m pretty sure I covered all these claims in my comments above. There may be some families out there who are, as the author puts it, screwing up their children’s views of sex, but those families do not represent the majority of conservative or “fundamentalist” Christian families. I encourage the author to step back and truly examine the sweepingly generalized allegations he’s making against Christians and consider amending his remarks to not include a majority when he is clearly only addressing a small minority.

A Touching Post From the Seewalds to the Duggars

This was so touching that I simply had to share. Mr. Michael Seewald expresses beautifully the forgiveness that the Lord extends to those who seek after Him. Please take a moment to read.

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Public Acknowledgment

In case you have been under a rock this past week, InTouch magazine broke the story revealing that Josh Duggar had fondled several underage girls twelve years ago when he was a young teenager. Since that story was published the internet and media have exploded with stories and blogs many of them lining up to throw stones at Josh and the whole family. While Josh Duggar had owned up to his sins years ago with the people that it concerned, he has now publicly acknowledged them with grief and regret, and resigned his position as Executive Director of Family Research Council Action.

Why Am I Weighing In?

I would rather not discuss something of this nature on my blog, especially since it is dredging up past sins that have been painfully grieved over once already by all involved. It pains me to see that they are now having to relive the nightmare that had been laid to rest well over a decade ago with Josh’s repentance and reformation, but I feel compelled to bring some context and reason to the bloodletting that many are engaging in and to come to the aid of our dear friends and family.

Repentance

I am not going to talk much about the criminal aspect of Josh’s actions or if the authorities acted appropriately with the knowledge of what happened. That ball rests in their court. As it stands criminal charges were not brought against Josh but I believe that Josh’s parents acted in a way that godly parents should. They did not turn a blind eye, but earnestly sought help from the church, counselors, and eventually the police. Maybe they didn’t do it in a way that pleases everyone, but they acted decisively to confront the sin, to call a penitent son back from his errors, and to seek to aid the hurting victims. In the end Josh sought forgiveness from those he wronged, repented of his sins, and came to trust Christ as his Savior. He has to the present day attested to the reality of his repentance and faith by living above reproach. In their efforts to salvage the wreckage that these transgressions brought, and bring healing to all involved, Jim Bob and Michelle are to be commended.

People Were Affected

The victims of Josh’s actions should not be lost in all of this. Sadly, this type of thing is all too common. Victims of sexual abuse of any kind often suffer greatly for many years as a result of these sins. We should not downplay the seriousness of these offenses particularly, nor gloss over the pain and confusion they often bring, sometimes for a lifetime.

Sorry Your Honor, The Cat Is Already Out Of The Bag

Some people act as if it was the Duggar’s responsibility to have made this sad episode in their family public knowledge. They are to be praised for not hiding this from the appropriate parties and eventually the police, but they owed it to no one else to publicize the sins of a minor child and the court agrees with that assessment, the judge now ordering that the police report be destroyed. But the cat is already out of the bag. How many of you would broadcast the sins of your children to the whole world? Would you be willing to publicize your own darkest moments? It is miserable indeed that someone was willing to illegally obtain a police investigation involving minor children and publish it for whatever nefarious purpose they had in mind.

Please click here to continue reading.

Quick and Easy DIY Panty Drawer Dividers

As I was putting away laundry today, it occurred to me just how messy and disorganized my panty drawer is, so I decided to do something about it. Being on a tight budget, it needed to be something cheap, and having only a limited amount of time before the curious (read: destructive) little ones awoke from their nap, it needed to be a quick project! I decided to make use of some Amazon Prime boxes we had lying around, and I am rather pleased with the end result!

You will need:
Cardboard boxes
Scissors and/or a box cutter
Acrylic paint
Paint brush
Measuring tape (optional)

Step 1:
Cut sections of cardboard to fit the measurement of your drawer. I found that the flaps of the boxes work best for this. It would probably be wise to measure before cutting, but I couldn’t find our tape measure so I just eyeballed it. 🙂

Step 2:
Paint the cardboard pieces. This will make the cardboard look a little nicer as well as making it a little more sturdy. Put as many layers as needed to get it to your liking. (I only did one layer because, as I pointed out before, I was in a hurry to get it done!) Allow the paint to thoroughly dry before placing.

Step 3:
Place dividers into drawer. Neatly roll panties (try the method used in this YouTube video) and place in drawer. Ta-da! Quick and easy, right? I love it! 🙂

DIY Collage