Culture

14Oct

Why I Hate Christian Bookstores

I hate Christian bookstores.

Can I say that? Yep.

They are frustrating for so many reasons.

But the $30 wooden angels that looked like they were carved by a blindfolded 4-year old or the t-shirts designed by someone who flunked a community college graphic design class are not what frustrates me most.

The books are the worst, and I LOVE books.

I don’t know what it is that makes Christians gobble up whatever the newest version of shallow theology peddled by some Christian author that may or may not even be a part of the local church. From prosperity “gospel” nonsense to virtue-based teaching steeped behavior modification the lack of solid, Christ-centered resources in a Christan bookstore can be astounding.

So with all these options – all these books from all these pastors writing about all this stuff…where should we start

How does the average Christian know what to buy and what to avoid?

I have one rule that helps me wade through the Christian bookstore maze: When it comes to books intended for a Christian audience, I generally only read books written by active pastors of local churches.

I have no interest in reading books from presidents of organizations, professors, or Christian authors in general. I am not saying they write sub-par books, not by any means.

There is just something about reading a book written by a man or woman who is in the trenches of ministry week in and week out. They’re not sleeping in and spending days holed up in their home office writing their books in solitude.

No, these are the people who write sermons by day and books by night. They may not reach their written word count goal for the night because a church member calls in a moment of need. So they give of themselves, their time and energy, to the ones God has entrusted to them and they write double the next night.

They can’t afford to sleep half the day away like other writers because they have staff meetings to conduct and hospital visits to make. They can’t quite seem to wrap up their latest chapter because they performed two funerals and welcomed a new baby into their church family.

After being wrung out for the Gospel all day, they ask God to fill them up on the way home so they can be wrung out yet again ministering to the ones that matter most, their family.

This week I’m at a small conference for church leaders at The Village Church in Dallas where Matt Chandler serves as pastor. He is the only “famous” pastor I really pay much attention to. I have enjoyed listening to his sermons since I was in college but I have gained a new level of respect for him today because I saw him make time for his church people, his family, and a room full of young pastors. His breakout session was filled with story after story of interactions with people in his local church, which will never make it into a book.

Of all the options at your local Christian bookstore, I would suggest reading the words of a humble, hard-working pastor who lives out what it means to love Jesus all the while leading others to do the same.

What are you reading right now?

13Oct

Co-Habitation, Dating, & Marriage

Are two people who decide to live together outside of marriage headed for divorce?

That’s the question I set out to answer, or at least learn more about, a few weeks ago. I stumbled across The Downside of Cohabitating Before Marriage, a 2012 New York Times article written by a clinical psychologist who works primarily with 20-somethings and has made a healthy living counseling couples and individuals with issues specifically related to cohabitation.

Jay tells the story of one of her clients, a woman named “Jennifer.” Jennifer lived with her husband for four years before they married yet started receiving counseling from Jay when she was considering divorce just one year into marriage.

“What happened?”

Jennifer eventually confessed that when she was living with her husband before they got married, before she knew his commitment to her, it felt like she was constantly trying out to be his wife, wondering if this was the month, or even the year, where she would be seen as worthy enough to be a wife.  “I felt like I was on this multiyear, never-ending audition to be his wife,” she said. “We had all this furniture. We had our dogs and all the same friends. It just made it really, really difficult to break up. Then it was like we got married because we were living together once we got into our 30s.”

Jennifer’s story is heartbreaking, and if we’re not careful we can miss the real issue with co-habitation.

I could see how it’s easy to start living together with someone, especially someone you’re already having sex with.

You’re already staying over at each other’s houses. When you’re both at his place, you use his Internet while your paid-for Internet goes to waste with all your other lonely, underutilized utilities. When you’re both at her place and she wants to invest in some new furniture it’s not the craziest thing for her to ask you what you think. She doesn’t really care but she’s really asking, “Is this furniture eventually going to be our furniture?”

The whole 30-is-the-new-20 culture communicates that your 20’s just don’t really matter that much. And study after study shows that 20-somethings are the most likely to live together outside of marriage. It does matter what you do, all the time, especially in your 20’s. They might be the most formative years of your life because you’re making decisions then that you’ll deal with the rest of your life.

But cohabitation can wreck your 20’s, (or your 30’s, 40’s etc.) because you end up compromising in ways you never intended:

Step 1: You start dating someone.

Step 2: The exciting newness of your new relationship has worn off. Things are honestly going well but you’re not super sure about where the relationship is going long-term so you decide to fast track things, stop the house-hopping and live together. More sex. Less rent. Win-win.

Step 3: The exciting newness of living together has worn off. You look around one day, still unsure about the future of your relationship long-term, but now it’s messy. You think about what it would take to end the relationship. You’d have to find a new place, get new cable/Internet/utilities, etc. You’d have to decide who keeps the dog you adopted together. You’d have to find some, if not all, new friends. If you’re church goers you have to find a new church, small group, etc. If you’re honest with yourself, all that just doesn’t seem worth it.

Step 4: Something gives. Marriage, all of a sudden, doesn’t seem so terrible. Maybe you’re pregnant. Maybe you’re just exhausted at the idea of starting all over with someone new. The thought of doing the whole first date, awkward get to know you, meet the parents routine sounds dreadful. So you get married.

Step 5: Divorce? Maybe. Happy marriage built on a fierce sense of loyalty and covenant commitment to one another? Probably not. You think to yourself, “How did I get here? I would never date my spouse if I was just meeting them now.”

What happened?  Cohabitation happened.

If you’ve made it this far in this post you might be familiar with a cohabitation, dating, and marriage survey I created over the weekend. It was taken by hundreds of people and brought about some interesting results. You can see the most recent version of those results here. (The survey is still open and the results are constantly being updated).

Survey Background Facts:

  • 75% of the survey responders are female.
  • 50% are under the age of 30.
  • 34% have lived or are living with someone outside of marriage.
  • I intentionally left out comment boxes or religious preferences.

5 Thoughts on Cohabitation

1.) Cohabitation is more simple than some people realize.

Cohabitation is most dangerous for people living with who the studies referred to as a “serial cohabitater.” This person, male or female, has no real desire to get married. They are operating out of a misguided, more sex/less rent attitude and/or they desire some companionship without a deep commitment. Ironically, cohabitation requires a commitment that cohabitation cannot actually provide. This group is full of the people trying to rationalize their decisions when really their situation is simple: get your own place.

2.) Cohabitation is more complex than some people realize.

For some, cohabitation is much more common and increasingly more complex. This group is made up primarily of lower-income populations, particularly uneducated, single mothers. Maybe they made some mistakes in their past, giving up on a dream or college to be with the man they loved. Maybe a teenage pregnancy altered their life forever. No matter how they got there, they have now arrived at a place of need it seems impossible to break out of. They might have multiple kids with multiple partners but for them, cohabitation has become a financial necessity.

My hope for them would be to move in with parents, friends, other family members…basically anyone but a potential sexual partner. It’s this group of people that gets overlooked by these studies and articles. Remember “Jennifer”? She was paying to see a very expensive and highly sought-after therapist to unpack her cohabitation-based problems. No one from this group is able to acquire such help yet their life’s problems can be largely chalked up to cohabitation as well.

3.) There is a very real correlation between couples living together outside of marriage and the success of their future marriages.

An absolutely conclusive study does not exist. Cohabitation does work sometimes, as long as “work” is defined by a lack of divorce instead of faithfulness to the God-ordained covenant of marriage. When cohabitation does “work” it is almost always the same situation: Two people who genuinely care for one another in a particularly selfless way date and eventually move in together. They later get married after living outside of marriage but it turns out that both of them only ever lived with each other before they got married.

My encouragement to them is simple: If you’re ready to move in together, you’re ready for marriage. If you’re not, then you’re not. That’s even more selfless. Cohabitation relationships are harder to dissolve than just dating but much easier to dissolve than marriage. Marriage communicates the ultimate “I love you and I actually mean it.”

Yet the facts are hard to dispute. Cohabitation does make breaking up harder and eventually makes marriage easier…all to someone you may not actually have ever decided to marry if you had never started living together.

4.) Cohabitation requires absolutely zero commitment.

This might be the hardest reality to grasp because perceived commitment is all around you!

  • You picked out the furniture TOGETHER.
  • You made new friends TOGETHER.
  • You got a pet TOGETHER.
  • You have a bed TOGETHER.
  • Yet there is nothing, no level of mutual trust or lasting commitment keeping one person from waking up one day, deciding to quit, and walk out. People definitely walk out of marriages in similar fashion, but they break real commitments to do so, not perceived ones, not counting the financial and social consequences divorce has.

Men often perceive cohabitation as precious time bought to avoid marriage while women simultaneously think they’ve got their man moving toward marriage.

5.) Co-habitation is incredibly uncomfortable for kids.

If you’re a single and/or divorced parent, you should never have a boyfriend or girlfriend sleepover and you should never live with a partner and force your kids to live in that same environment. It is confusing, unfair, emotional, and incredibly selfish. You put your kids in a very difficult situation to like, trust, and/or ever love your significant other if they do indeed become your spouse one day. Just don’t. If your partner is not willing to marry you, they don’t get that level of access to you. Even if you don’t value yourself enough to deny them that access, value your kids enough to make the right decision.

What are your thoughts on cohabitation? I’d love to hear from you! You can leave a comment below.

26Aug

The Most Important Person

At first glance, comedy seems rather easy. Throw together some jokes, somebody falling down the stairs, and a child star or two and you’re good to go! But I’ve been reading about comedy lately and it it sincerely hard work. A lot of people can make fools of themselves on stage but it takes a real artist to create compelling comedy.

Stephen Colbert is one of those people. He plays a character on his political satire show, the Colbert Report and was tabbed as David Letterman’s replacement once he retires next year.

Stephen Colbert gave the 2011 commencement speech at his alma mater, Northwestern, as himself, not his late night satire character and it is nothing less than extraordinary. Colbert’s comedic stabs at himself and his beloved university are side-splitting. But then the tables turn.

Colbert gets serious at the end of his speech and gives us the answer to the question,

“Who is the most important person in your life?”

He tells them about his early days in improv in Chicago, where he was the understudy to Steve Carrel. No pressure!

Colbert explains how there are very little rules in improv. It’s what makes it so entertaining to watch as well as create. In fact there is only one rule, you are not the most important person in the scene; everyone else is.Most of us like the idea of improv comedy because we like the idea of being in charge, of being able to control a scene because sometimes it feels like we can’t control much in real life. Yet Colbert tells his audience that improv works best when everyone collectively refuses to seize control,

…and if they [everyone else] are the most important people in the scene, you will naturally pay attention to them and serve them. But the good news is you’re in the scene too. So hopefully to them you’re the most important person, and they will serve you. No one is leading, you’re all following the follower, serving the servant. You cannot win improv.

 

IF THEY ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT PEOPLE IN THE SCENE, YOU WILL NATURALLY PAY ATTENTION TO THEM AND SERVE THEM. BUT THE GOOD NEWS IS YOU’RE IN THE SCENE TOO. SO HOPEFULLY TO THEM YOU’RE THE MOST IMPORTANT PERSON, AND THEY WILL SERVE YOU. NO ONE IS LEADING, YOU’RE ALL FOLLOWING THE FOLLOWER, SERVING THE SERVANT. YOU CANNOT WIN IMPROV. – See more at: http://www.northwestern.edu/newscenter/stories/2011/06/colbert-speech-text.html#sthash.Ox0lnRz5.dpuf
AND IF THEY ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT PEOPLE IN THE SCENE, YOU WILL NATURALLY PAY ATTENTION TO THEM AND SERVE THEM. BUT THE GOOD NEWS IS YOU’RE IN THE SCENE TOO. SO HOPEFULLY TO THEM YOU’RE THE MOST IMPORTANT PERSON, AND THEY WILL SERVE YOU. NO ONE IS LEADING, YOU’RE ALL FOLLOWING THE FOLLOWER, SERVING THE SERVANT. YOU CANNOT WIN IMPROV. – See more at: http://www.northwestern.edu/newscenter/stories/2011/06/colbert-speech-text.html#sthash.Ox0lnRz5.dpu

Colbert went on to say that the best episodes of his show are the ones where no one can really remember whose jokes were the ones that got selected or got the most laughs. Everyone was just focused on serving others and playing their part in the team.

Colbert looks upon this fresh batch of college graduates, with a perfect mix of ambition and naivete in their eyes and calls them away from a day and a life that is seemingly all about them back down to real life, where the best among serve the most among us.

What’s true in improv is true in life. The world functions best when everyone serves one another.

So the answer to one of our greatest questions, “Who is the most important person in your life?” = everyone else.

How can you serve today?

30Apr

Is Church Getting Sloppy?

You can’t love Jesus and coffee.

At least so says (implicitly) John DeBonville, pastor of the Church of the Good Shepard in Massachusetts in a recent interview with CNN.

DeBonville, and others like him, long for the days when people wear their “Sunday best” to return once again. He claims that people dress up for what they care about, from first dates to church attendance.

  • Dressing up just for Easter? – Not good enough
  • Wearing flip-flops to church? – No way.
  • Bringing coffee into worship? – Unheard of.
“It’s like some people decided to stop mowing the lawn and then decided to come to church,” says DeBonville. “No one dresses up for church anymore.”

Of the four churches I’ve served at in various roles since beginning college, two of them, through posted church signage and printed instructions in the bulletin, prohibited coffee in the worship center. The other two provide it in a coffee bar in the foyer of the worship center. At my current church we even have printed instructions in the bulletin pointing out the available complimentary coffee and encourage people to feel free to bring it into the worship center if they desire.

In the grand scheme of things, coffee really isn’t all that important but it’s very clear how the two different approaches can send two very different messages about the overall atmosphere and culture of the church.

There are potential pros and cons to both approaches:

  • A casual worship atmosphere invites people from any and all backgrounds to encounter God without added societal pressures they may not know how to or be able to afford to adhere to a more formal worship culture.
  • A more traditional/formal church culture contains people who have taken additional time and care to prepare their clothes, and hopefully their hearts, for worship. Their formal dress can be an outward sign of the inward preparation for worship.
  • Sometimes those who dress up more for church look down upon those who don’t.
  • Sometimes those who don’t dress up for church look down on those who do.
  • For centuries, Jews have gone through various cleansing rituals to prepare themselves to enter the temple for worship.
  • Jesus was a homeless, poor carpenter who met people where they were: in the market, at work, and along the way.

I currently work in a church setting where everyone preaches in jeans. I’ve also grown up in and worked in a church setting where whoever preached was expected to wear a suit and tie every week.

Last night, I asked my friends on Facebook and Twitter what they usually wore to church.

  • Answers came from Presbyterians, Baptists and non-denominational church attenders:
  • Ladies’ dress ranged from flip-flops, yoga pants, and jeans to dresses and skirts with nice tops.
  • Mens’ dress ranged from bare feet, jeans, and snapback hats to khakis, cowboy boots, and button-down shirts.

Does God care what you wear to church? Or is it all about the heart?

What do you think? Leave a comment to join the discussion.

4Apr

HIMYM

The series finale of How I Met Your Mother aired on Monday night and regardless of how you felt about the conclusion (after Breaking Bad, everybody’s just fighting for 2nd place in series finales), it’s always impressive when a television show survives for 9 seasons.

I didn’t really get on the HIMYM bandwagon until the show was almost over but I’ve watched the whole series a few times in the last two or three years. As a television show, How I Met Your Mother has done what only a few others have (The Office, Friends, etc.), make you feel like these characters on a show are actually your friends. Maybe it’s because the character development has been consistently good over a long period of time. Maybe it’s because the characters remind me so much of real people and real relationships in my life, both past and present.

I got to watch the finale late Tuesday night after our home group and I’ve been reflecting on the show as a whole since then. I realized that Christians can learn something from each one of the five characters.

Robin Scherbatsky

robin Your career is not what’s most important and won’t make you happy if you sacrifice relationships to be successful. An old pastor once told me “Everyone’s replaceable.” This simple truth is profound – often when you overwork, obsess, and consume yourself with work, the day comes when you leave, or are told to leave, and you find yourself wondering what you have to show for it. Sure, you might gain some success, money and social status.

In the season finale, Robin has achieved all her wildest career dreams…and finds herself terribly alone and unfulfilled. You should work hard. You should get ahead. You should be excellent at your job. But don’t lose track of what matters most in life.

Ted Mosby

tedWithout a doubt the main character of the show, the HIMYM faithful have rooted for Ted for 9 seasons now. If Ted has taught us anything, it’s this: never give up hope. While Ted eventually leads a very happy life, his life is pretty good even while he’s pursuing the ever elusive “the one.” Ted lives his life in between where he is and where he wants to go, like so many others. Throughout all the confusion and disappointment, Ted never lost hope.

 

 

Marshall and Lily

marshall

 

Put your spouse first. Friends come and go. Kids are born and life gets crazy, so I’ve heard. Your marriage should be a source of consistency in your life that weathers the storms of moves, changing friends, heartache, new jobs, etc. A great marriage doesn’t just happen overnight and it takes both people being all-in. (See: Marriage Monday: Nobody Owes You Happiness).

Barney Stinson

barneyAfter all the legendary nights, high-fives, and slap bets, Barney Stinson teaches us that everyone can change. Barney eventually matures past his endless string of one night stands and settles down in marital bliss…only to find himself divorced and alone after 3 years. He learns that money, sex, and power are broken cisterns that can’t hold true happiness. However, Barney doesn’t end up alone and he doesn’t end up as the same old Barney. It doesn’t matter where you’ve been or how much baggage you’ve brought with you; everyone can change.

 

 

 

What else can we learn from the HIMYM characters?

31Mar

Noah Movie Review

This Friday I got to go check out the Noah movie with my friend, Kyle. Before the movie started, we talked about how the mixed reactions of Christians in general leading up to the film had been so interesting, all before most of them had ever seen it! Overall, we both really enjoyed the film.

The Good:

  • This movie has Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Emma Watson, and Anthony Hopkins in it. Stars. It’s directed and co-written by critically acclaimed director Darren Aronofsky. In other words: This is a legitimate, Hollywood blockbuster movie with a big budget and excellent production. If you’re tired of the corny, poorly-made, low budget Christian films, this is the film for you.
  • Noah follows the general Biblical story. Key word: general. There’s this dude Noah. He’s supposed to build this crazy big ark. He obeys. Animals come. God floods the earth to start over and Noah’s family members are the only ones to survive.
  • Noah is a dark character. He’s conflicted about the task he’s been given, willing to obey but sorrowful for what it means (the destruction of the earth and all inhabitants outside his family). To me, this seems to make a lot of sense, as the pathos of Noah is not something that’s usually explored in the kids Bible story time.
  • The movie takes parts of the biblical account very seriously. Like the part where everybody but Noah’s family dies. There’s this chilling scene in the movie where the floods start to rise. A lot of people have already died. The ark is floating as the waters rise up the mountains and Noah’s family gathers in the ark to share their first dinner…in complete silence. There’s one last mountain peak for the water to conquer and people are clinging to it for dear life. You can feel the tension as Noah’s family sits and eats in silence as the last remaining people cry out for help only to receive none.
  • Sin and judgement are very real. God is trusted fully, in spite of the radical nature of his command for Noah and his family. God is referred to as “the Creator” consistently, as the author of all life as well as the standard of holiness humanity has failed to achieve. The film clearly communicates the Christian doctrines of original sin (we’re all born into a state of sinfulness) and total depravity (all of us need to be reconciled back to God yet we’re unable to do this on our own).

The Bad:

  • The not so subtle environmental agenda is overwhelming. More than violence (the main reason given in Bible), the main reason for God bringing the flood seems to be that people haven’t cared for the earth. The result is the Genesis 6 world we see Noah in looks a lot more like an apocalyptic, scorched-earth, sci-fi wasteland. One of his main concerns in the first 20 minutes is teaching his son to not pick too many flowers. Ridiculous. However, the environment does matter. It’s something God has entrusted to us to care for. Creation care needs to be a bigger concern for Christians. You don’t have to be a hippie to affirm that.
  • None of Noah’s sons are married. This presents an awkward problem…how are they supposed to repopulate the earth afterwards? This leads to an unexpected plot twist at the end.
  • The rock giants are weird. They’re loosely based on the “Nephilim” concept from Genesis 6:4 but come across as comical, rock versions of the Ents from Lord of the Rings. The “Watchers” tradition stems from the first 36 chapters of the Book of Enoch, an apocryphal book universally rejected as Scripture.
  • Where is God? While God is far from absent in the film, he is silent. He never speaks with Noah. Noah discerns God’s call through a disturbing dream cycle and a pilgrimage to see Methuselah for wisdom. God is portrayed only as a dim light from heaven, not the active, covenant-making God from the Biblical story.
  • Noah’s family drama is unbelievable. A son conceives twin girls with his adopted sister…who was supposed to be barren. Another son finds a potential wife in a grave full of dead bodies, but then she gets caught in a bear trap and trampled to death while he tries to get her back to the ark. One son tries to kill Noah with the evil king who’s also a stowaway. Then Noah gets all homicidal toward his twin grand-daughters because he feels the entire human race, including his family, needs to be eradicated, even after the flood. The family drama is a double edged sword in the film because it’s where the movie strays most from the Biblical text but ultimately where all the suspense and plot development arises.
  • Christians are being duped. Noah is a good movie. But Hollywood is on to us! They know they if they hype a movie from the Bible we will go out in droves to see it. I would actually suggest you GO see Noah but don’t go expecting to see a shot for shot remake of the Biblical story. Don’t be fooled. The truth is, Hollywood movie execs only care about one thing, money, and they’ve figured out how that Christians are cash cows.

Conclusion

Personally, I loved Noah. The acting, for the most part, is incredible. Russell Crowe is awesome (duh) and I was blown away by Jennifer Connelly’s performance as his wife. It’s a dark movie, in typical Aronofsky fashion, but a fascinating and creative one. I loved going with my friend because it sparked a great conversation as we left about what was similar and what was different from the Biblical story.

Some Christians should go. Others should not. I hope this review is helpful for you as you make your decision. Whatever you decide, don’t ridicule fellow Christians who may choose differently than you. We’re all on the same team.

If you could make a movie based on someone from the Bible, who would it be?

21Mar

Hate Finally Died Yesterday

Hate finally died yesterday.

It seemed like it would never come. It’s been going on for so long.

All the judgment.
All the wrath.
All the anger.

It finally came to an end yesterday…with his death.

So many people rejoiced. So many people cheered. So many people finally felt free….and rightfully so.

STOP.

The words above have nothing to do with Fred Phelps and everything to do with Jesus.

You, me, and Fred Phelps make three – all of us live(d) in a stage of grace that has not always been offered to us. Because Jesus changed everything.

So the words above “STOP” aren’t written about the death of Fred Phelps. They aren’t written in celebration of the death of Phelps, the former and founding pastor of Westboro Baptist Church, infamous worldwide for their picketing of military funerals and bullhorn protests proclaiming a message of divine hatred conveniently directed at everyone except them.

No, these words are written for the day Jesus, King of Kings yet Servant of Servants, was killed, nailed to a tree. These words are written for the day he was brutally bludgeoned then helplessly hung until he gasped and gave his last breath…for you, and me, and Fred Phelps.

THAT’S the day hate died. THAT’S the day the curtain in the temple was torn, miraculously in fact, from top to bottom, signifying nothing less than the complete absorption of God’s wrath toward all sinners and free access to God through Jesus.

Now our task is simple…to trust that Jesus is really that good. To trust that grace really is that amazing.

  • God doesn’t hate homosexuals.
  • God doesn’t hate Muslims.
  • God doesn’t hate lesbians.
  • God doesn’t hate soldiers.
  • God doesn’t hate atheists.

God HATES sin and JESUS paid for sin. It’s now simply our job to trust that Jesus’ work on our behalf is good enough so we don’t have to be and now we’re free to walk in obedience as our act of love and gratitude back to God.

13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.” – Ephesians 2:13-18

Don’t mistake yourself. The death of Fred Phelps is nothing to rejoice over. You underestimate the power of the cross to break down the “dividing wall of hostility” if you find yourself gleefully reading his obituary.

Personally, I have great pity for him and his family. It seems possible that he might have lived his entire life without really ever tasting the goodness of God’s grace. As our pastor frequently says, “Grace received always becomes grace given.” I’m not sure to what level Phelps ever received grace because it didn’t seem like he ever gave much of it to others. However, it’s not our job to judge his life.

I sincerely hope to see Phelps in heaven one day. And if that last sentence makes your cringe, maybe heaven will be disappointing for you. I suspect God’s grace reaches much further and wider than you or I would be comfortable with, if we’re honest.

Phelps’ death made me reflect on the hatred that lies within my own heart, and to realize that there’s simply no reason for any level of it reside within me. I hope it does the same for you.

Can you trust that?

 

28Feb

You Can’t #EndIt & Keep Porn

Today is Shine a Light on Slavery Day, a national campaign by the End It Movement. Their goal is stated simply:

“Join us and other Freedom Fighters from around the world as we SHINE A LIGHT ON SLAVERY. Draw a RED X on your hand. Tell your world that slavery still exists and YOU WON’T STAND FOR IT. Just use your influence any way you can to help us carry the message of FREEDOM.” – http://enditmovement.com/

I’m really thankful for the work of the men and women at the End It Movement. We live in a time when it seems more popular to criticize those who are working to bring about real change instead of actually doing something to create the necessary change. While one could easily point out the flaws of a campaign based almost solely on awareness, the End It Movement has educated thousands of people on the horrors of sex trafficking, especially young people.

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When teenagers, college students, and adults alike hear that there are 27 million men, women, and children trapped in modern-day slavery, something begins to stir within them to seek out change.   Many have tried to explain away sex-trafficking as a lesser problem but several United Nations-sanctioned studies and sociologists all over the world keep coming up with estimates around 27 million people. Last year alone, red X’s were drawn and tweeted out to the world by US Senators, NBA/NFL/NHL/MLB players, Grammy-winning musicians, and world-renown pastors.

endit

While the End It Movement is great, specifically because of its high impact on younger generations, it’s also foolish. It’s not intrinsically foolish, only functionally foolish, and it’s not their fault. Their failure to succeed is tragic because…

The connection between pornography and sex trafficking  has been explored in depth by many people smarter than me. All the findings are conclusive and align with a simple supply-demand formula.

There is an enormous demand for pornography, specifically in our country.

Porn Usage Facts:

  • Porn sites get more visitors every month than Netflix, Amazon, and Twitter…combined.
  • 93% of boys and 62% of girls are exposed to Internet pornography before the age of 18.
  • The average age of first exposure to Internet pornography is 11.
  • The 12-17 year-old age-group is the largest consumer of Internet pornography.

These stats clearly display that our nation is infatuated with porn. Demand has never been higher and porn (supply) has never been more accessible.

Pornography has become easier to produce and demand has risen to unheard of levels. The bad news – sex traffickers have gotten in on the action. They’ve realized that the more porn they produce, the more porn will be consumed and thus, the more money they make.

Sex traffickers are now targeting and exploiting young women for the explicit purpose of forcing them to produce pornography. So the next time you want to log on to that website or click on that seemingly harmless picture, remember that. Remember that that girl might not be enjoying what’s happening to her, and that what’s happening is nothing less than rape on tape, not consensual sex between two partners. One husband even sold his own wife into sex slavery where she was forced to produce pornographic videos.

The connection between porn usage and sex slavery is clear. Now, it’s time to really #EndIt.

You see, the two are far too closely intertwined. So, if you put a Red “X” on your hand today, I’m cheering you on! Now it’s time to be consistent. No more porn. End THAT too. It’s the only way to #EndIt at all.

Are you trapped in the cycle of porn? Are you a parent and need resources to talk to your kids about porn? If they’re 11, they’ve most likely already been exposed to porn but it’s never too late!Get started early! Check out the resources below and share this post with friends.

Related Articles:

  1. Even GQ Knows Porn is Bad
  2. Snapchat: Child Porn & Sex Predators
  3. 9 Resources for Parents: Navigating the Digital Age
  4. Who Has Better Sex?

Online Porn Resources

  • Covenant Eyes – A great website filtering system that monitors all aspects of Internet usage including mobile devices and emails a content report to an accountability partner every week.
  • XXX Church – A great website for porn recovery. It’s chock-full of resources and also offers a website-filtering/monitoring system that includes mobile devices as well.
  • Fight the New Drug Started on a college campus, Fight the New Drug is an organization of college students with absolutely zero political or religious allegiances. They present the proven, unbiased, scientific facts on how porn harms our brains, our relationships, and our society.
  • Free iPhone Porn Filter
  • A Parents’ Primer on Internet Pornography

 

Helpful Books

 

Ultimately, the Gospel is what sets porn addicts and all sinners, including you and me, free. For more on the power of the Gospel, watch the video below.

 

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