Issue #13

Single Life, Costly Obedience, Modesty, Plural You, and more...

Issue #13

Use The Single Life

Many American churches promote marriage as the best, and often sole, answer to the sexual temptation single men and women face.

This has several problems. First, it is not true that marriage will fix a heart full of lust. Paul tells us that those who are struggling with sexual temptation should get married (1 Corinthians 7:9). And while it is true that sexual desire is easier to manage when you can have licit sex, it cannot fix the heart. If we are shuttling our young men and women into marriage to “fix” their sexual temptation and ignoring building them into disciples and the kind of people who can build a marriage with another flawed human being, the result will not be happily married people. The result will be unhappy people and broken marriages.

Second, this tends to promote marriage as the fulfilled life, and singleness as a secondary option to be “fixed” as quickly as possible. But this focus on singleness as something to be “fixed” has resulted in an inability to disciple our same-sex attracted Christian neighbor.

It is this over-emphasis on marriage that has led to the inability of the church to reach the culture. Scripture has a different emphasis on the single life (1 Corinthians 7:8, Matthew 19:12). The church must place a proper emphasis on discipling singles, even those who may remain that way for life. We do that by being the family of God; we have to be the family for those who have no natural family, and even for those who do (Matthew 12:50)!

If we make marriage the goal and focus of singleness, we lose years of productive kingdom work from young men and women. Single people have so much more time and energy to devote to kingdom work than married people do (1 Corinthians 7:32). The time of singleness is the time for our young men and women to pursue extra schooling in Christian ministry, short, medium, or long-term missionary work, evangelism, cooking for and visiting the sick and elderly, and much more.

This segues perfectly into our first link.

Consider the Culture 🎨

Costly Obedience (with Mark Yarhouse) | Think Biblically 🎧 →

Until a few years ago, it seemed—at least to me—that the best path forward for those with same-sex attractions was to have those attractions changed. It seems—again, at least to me—that the conversation has turned toward helping same-sex attracted people live in celibacy. However, the church has not done a good job of figuring out what single people in the church should do other than getting married.

Professors Sean McDowell and Scott Rae interview psychologist Mark Yarhouse about his new book (linked below). As Christians, we are called to love our homosexual neighbors. Our first and most important duty is to help them see Jesus as the greatest possible good of their lives and to make disciples. But it’s also critical that we know how to disciple them in the Christian life once they have turned to Jesus. We must know how to help our homosexual neighbors to see the Gospel as Good News for them too.

Dr. Yarhouse helps us carefully think about this difficult topic so that we can better reach the people of this fallen world.

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Does God Care What I Wear? Getting to the Heart of Modesty | Mary A. Kassian 📃 →

We’ve heard the admonishment repeatedly. When I told a friend that I had been asked to write an article about modesty, she sighed, rolled her eyes, and quipped, “Seriously? Isn’t there anything else to talk about?”

I get it. The topic can be wearisome. Because all too often, modesty is presented as adherence to a legalistic set of rules. What’s more, the rules are somewhat arbitrary. They differ from place to place, church to church, culture to culture, situation to situation, and person to person. Yet if a Christian woman transgresses them, she can be taken to account, and her commitment to holiness called into question. The modesty police have given modesty a bad rap.

It seems to me that the emphasis on the dos and don’ts of how women ought to dress misses a crucial point. Modesty has a lot more to do with the condition of our hearts than with the specifics of our wardrobes. What’s more, modesty is not just applicable to women or women’s clothing. It’s also a trait that the Bible promotes for men.

My daughter is still very young, but it’s shocking how early my wife and I started thinking about how to modestly dress her. Immodest dress has become the norm not just for older teens and adults, but for younger teens, children, and toddlers.

This article goes beyond the question of “what should a woman wear?” Mary Kassian takes us deeper into the scriptures, the heart issue of modesty, and the “common standard” of modesty for men and women. I hope to apply what I learned to how I disciple my daughter as she becomes older.

Explore the Scriptures 📖

Listen Y’all: The Plural ‘You’ is Biblical | Ryan Martin 📃 →

Reading scripture devotionally, as God’s “word of the day” is not necessarily wrong. However, it can sometimes lead to a turned-inward, individualistic outlook on scripture passages that were never intended to be read that way.

The English language has not helped us either. Greek has a plural form of “you,” while English does not. That can make it difficult to understand if the Biblical author is writing to an individual person or a collective. And while that doesn’t always make a difference in interpretation, every so often it does. Because we should try to understand all scripture, we should try to understand when scripture is talking to someone else, to a group of people that excludes me, a group of people that includes me, or myself as an individual.

For example, 1 Corinthians 3:16:

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?
– 1 Corinthians 3:16 (ESV)

This can be read as “I am God’s temple, and I have God’s Spirit dwelling in me,” but that’s not Paul’s point in this passage. Martin explains:

The sentence should read, “Do you not know that you guys are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you guys?”

It sounds clunky, I know, but do you see the difference in meaning? Paul is telling the Corinthian Christians that they collectively make up the temple where the Holy Spirit dwells.

In this section of the letter, Paul is addressing divisions that have shaken the Corinthian church. His point: your divisions misrepresent and oppose the oneness of God’s Spirit. You guys are one temple, so start acting like it!

I agree with Martin that I wish our Bible translations would help us out here by marking the plural “you” differently.

What Does the Bible Say about “End Times”? 3 Historic Perspectives | J. Warner Wallace 📃 →

Few topics divide the Christian community as quickly as the issue of “end times” (known amongst theologians as the study of “eschatology”). Entire denominations divide over the issue, and many would argue a particular “eschatology” must be adopted if we are going to claim we are “Christians”. There are some essentials Christians must adopt related to “end times” and it turns out these essentials are relatively simple and easy to understand. Let’s take a look at some of the theories and interpretations developed over time as people have tried their best to understand what the Bible teaches, and then let’s offer an the essential truth all of us should hold as Christians.

Let’s start with the basics. All Christians agree (1) Jesus came and appeared to His followers over 2000 years ago, (2) Jesus will eventually return, and (3) Jesus will someday judge the living and the dead. We believe these things based on the clear teaching of Scripture.

Wallace goes on to examine three historic Christian ideas about end times: Pre-Millennialism, Post-Millennialism, and A-millennialism. The core issue of eschatology is that Jesus will return one day to judge the living and the dead. When (or if) a literal millennial reign of Christ will arise is a tertiary issue, but that doesn’t make it unimportant. If this isn’t an issue you haven’t thought about before, this should help you understand the different views.

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Listen and Reflect 🎧

Finding Joy in Suffering | Mama Bear Apologetics 🎧 →

This podcast by Hillary Ferrer and Amy Davison seeks to dispel a myth:

It’s unwise to automatically conclude that every suffering is a direct result of the sufferer’s sin.

In three steps, they walk through understanding suffering in the life of a believer:

  1. The purpose of suffering
  2. Why it’s important to have joy in suffering: what the Bible says
  3. How do we cultivate this in real life

I enjoyed the podcast, and if you’re a Christian mom looking for resources to help your kids answer tough questions, their book (linked below, but which I have not read) may be a good resource.

For More:

Challenge Your Brain 🧠

How Far Apart Are Athens and Jerusalem? Toward an Understanding of Faith and Reason | Steven B. Cowan 📃 →

In Issue #7, I linked to David Horner’s article Faith and Reason: A Parable. That was a light-hearted and helpful look at the relationship between faith and reason. This article by Philosopher Steven Cowan is a more in-depth look at the same topic.

He breaks down possible relationships between faith and reason into two camps: “compatibalism” and “incompatbalism,” and then further into two camps for each of those: “optimistic” and “pessimistic” varieties. Cowan then breaks down these options, walks us through different possible definitions for “faith” and “reason,” and helps us understand how the Bible uses these terms. Then we can draw our conclusions about their compatibility.

This is certainly a philosophical article, but it’s not entirely inaccessible to the layperson. Challenge yourself, be patient, and walk with Dr. Cowan toward a deeper understanding of what faith is.

Best with a Cup of Tea ☕️

The Lies That Serve Us: Christians and Critical Race Theory | Justin Giboney 📽 →

Sometimes it seems that to be a political “conservative” you have to buy a whole package. You must agree on every jot and tittle of what somebody has defined “conservatism” as. If you agree with only 8/10 items on the checklist, then you’re a “fake” conservative. It is, of course, the same way for the progressive movement. To be “in” with the tribe, we must buy the entire tribe’s beliefs. If we don’t, then we risk being canceled, strife, and division. We are called to unity amid diversity, and that includes political differences.

In this short talk, Justin Giboney talks about how all of us, conservatives and progressives alike, need to be aware of the self-serving lies we tell ourselves. When we are confronted with truths that upset our worldviews, we often prefer lies.

We must not only confront the lies that offend us, but also the lies that serve us.

To be clear, Giboney is not saying that Critical Race Theory is a truth that upsets our worldview. He, in fact, says the opposite during this talk. He is saying, however, that we must be careful to not dismiss arguments that challenge us without careful consideration and humility.

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Keep Your Mind on Things Above

I will be praying for you this week.

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

– 1 Timothy 1:17 (CSB)

Joel Fischer