- Get up early. Read the scripture. Pray for your wife, children, extended family, work problems, government, etc.
- Don’t leave for work without kissing your wife.
- Work hard. Don’t mail in your work. Break a sweat (figuratively if you have a desk job).
- Come home for lunch, if possible. Especially while the kids are young. Your wife will appreciate the adult interaction/conversation.
- When you get home from work, greet your children with a big smile. Make sure they know you delight in them. Tickle them. Tell them how excited you are to see them.
- Once you get home in the evening, put your phone away. Spend time with your wife and children, undistracted by texts, social media, work emails, or sports scores.
- Rally the troops to help their mom to get dinner on the table. Eat dinner together. Pray before the meal. Read a scripture verse afterwards, or a catechism question. Explain and discuss.
- Read books to your children. Play a board game with them. Help with their homework, and/or discuss what they’ve been learning in school and help them comprehend the concepts. If the weather is good, go for a walk, toss a football, scoop up some ice cream for the whole family.
- Be involved in the bedtime routine. Get the bubble bath ready. Brush the teeth of the little ones. Wrestle with the older ones. Make up stories to tell them. Tell them a story about when you were a child. Pray aloud for each child by name. At some point in the evening, you may (very likely) need to discipline them. Give them spankings, restore them to familial fellowship, and let the good times rolls.
- Once the kids are in bed, spend time with your wife. Read a book with her. Watch a good show/movie. Make love. Ask about her thoughts on some text of Scripture, cultural event, theological issue and discuss.
- Before you drift off to sleep, talk with your wife about the cute/funny things the kids did that day or recently. Laugh with her. Rejoice in the fruit of your union with her. Kiss her. Pray with her.
- Ask God to bless your home before you go to sleep. Kiss your wife again.
- Go to sleep at a reasonable hour, get a good night’s sleep. That way you can get up on time the next day, and do it all over again.
Living Like a Christian
Leaning Against the Wind
Our culture is leaning in the direction of treating the purpose of our sexuality flippantly (i.e. hook-up culture, porn, etc.) and is actively working to disconnect sex from the covenantal context of marriage (i.e. same sex mirage, GQBLT nonsense, etc.). As a Christian single you must lean against the cultural wind. However, we must not simply be leaning the opposite direction from our culture, but we must lean in the biblical direction.
We must not look at our culture’s flippancy towards the sacred covenantal union of marriage, and run helter-skelter into trying to automate Christian courtship into a foolproof spreadsheet. We read romances for pleasure, not spreadsheets. So, while a Christian single must take the process of falling in love and getting married seriously, they must not approach it meticulously. After all, God is authoring a love story, not a calculus equation.
God’s overarching will for you is that you would be sanctified and conformed into the image of Christ (Rom. 12:1-2 & 1 Thes. 4:3). But how do you do God’s will when it comes to a sparkin’ and a courtin’? First, God wants you to be supremely happy in glorifying Him by finding a wife (Pro. 18:22) or, for you ladies, being found (Pro. 31:10). You do this by being the sort of person who rejoices, prays continually, and gives thanks in all circumstances (1 Thes. 5:16-18). This is Paul fleshing out what he meant in Philippians 2:12 when he commanded: “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”
God explicitly commands you to flee fornication (1 Cor. 6:18). So glorifying God in the pursuit of a spouse looks like flee from fornication. It looks like leaning against everything a pagan culture wants to do sexually.
Scripture doesn’t give us an itinerary to follow in obeying His will in the love story He’s writing for us. What Scripture does assume is authority; a father gives his daughter to her husband who becomes her head (Eph. 5:23 & 1 Cor. 7:38). Scripture assumes lifelong fidelity (Mt. 19:3-6) and a fruit-bearing sexual union (Gen. 1:28). It assumes the community of family (Gen. 2:24) and friends (Ps. 45:7).
The Way God Made the World
So, we must apply this in the actual world. This world which God has made consists of two sorts of people, male and female. Men are made to be strong, wired to initiate, inclined to take dominion. Women are made to be a garden inclosed (Sng. 4:12), wired to respond, inclined to help in taking dominion.
Young men, find a praiseworthy woman. Young women, be a woman who is praiseworthy. Young men, once you find her, ask her father if you can hold on to her for the rest of your life. Young women, if he asks your father––and assuming the bloke is a valiant man––cling to him like a lifeline (Sng. 3:4).
The screenwriter has given you the script, so play your part, recite your lines, embrace your role in making the Author’s story glorious. In viewing things this way we see that both a man and woman, by embracing their particular role, are actively obeying God’s will. You want to know God’s will for your love life? We find out God’s will, by doing God’s will. Meaning, go be Christian, take the step in front of you, and ask her to marry you already.
Note: These are notes from a talk I gave at Collegiate Reformed Fellowship.
Lord of the Flies Church
A number of years ago I led worship at a “family-integrated” service. What I took from this experience was that “family-integrated” meant let the kids run absolutely wild, while the adults pretended not to see the wrestling match over in the corner. No really…there was a “Cowboys and Indians” game being played during the service. Having grown up in churches where you had Sunday School before church, and then everyone but little babies went to the main service, this breed of “family-integration” was new for me. That species of “family-integration,” in other words, was something I would not have wanted to align myself with.
However, later on, when I was helping to start a church, we made the decision to encourage families to keep their children with them during the service. A decision that could very well be termed “family-integration.” I’m grateful to now minister in a church where the normal arrangement is for the whole family to pile into a row to sing, hear the Word, and take the Lord’s Supper together. Some may call it “family-integrated.”
The question arose recently amongst my Social Media circle as to what my views were on keeping children in the worship service. My flinch is, “Of course keep them in the service.” Now, bear in mind, what I am envisioning when I think of children participating in the service is not the Lord of the Flies church I mentioned at the beginning.
What I am envisioning is something more akin to my childhood memories: being told to sit still, perhaps coloring, or once older jotting down notes or doodles of what I heard the pastor preaching. It seems odd that a Christian family would set out to raise their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, only to send mixed signals to their children that they aren’t yet old enough to worship the Lord. So first, a defense of keeping your kiddos with you in a worship service. Second, some practical suggestions.
Bring the Kids Along
We have quite the number of OT precedents for the worship of God being a family affair. In Deuteronomy 31:12, Moses gave directions for frequent readings of the law:
“Gather the people together, men, and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the LORD your God, and observe to do all the words of this law.”
This text implies not only a reading but also an accompanying explanation of what was read, i.e. a sermon. Ezra seems to be following this precedent when he reads the Torah to the people in Nehemiah 8:2 (see also Ezra 10:1 where children are specifically included in one of these gatherings):
“And Ezra the priest brought the law before the congregation both of men and women, and all that could hear with understanding, upon the first day of the seventh month.”
Jehoshaphat also called together an assembly of the people Judah, and children are reckoned as being in that multitude (2 Chr. 20:13). Joel prophesying of the coming “day of the Lord” calls for a solemn assembly:
“Gather the people, sanctify the congregation, assemble the elders, gather the children, and those that suck the breasts: let the bridegroom go forth of his chamber, and the bride out of her closet (Joel 2:16).”
On the day of Pentecost, Peter preached to a great multitude of foreign born Jews, and one of the primary OT texts he used was from that same section from Joel. Peter proclaims that Joel was prophesying about that day, the day of Pentecost (Cf. Acts 2:16-21). Peter assures them that the OT promises are for them and their children (Acts 2:38-39).
A final NT place to look for family inclusion is at the Ephesian church’s “send-off” for the Apostle Paul; note who was there. It was not only the elders in attendance, but their wives and children. This special prayer service was attended by families (Acts 21:5).
This is good Scriptural precedent for thinking of our corporate worship as being a gathering for all the saints, both young and old. Further, much of the modern discomfort with having children sit through a worship service is largely because we have adopted an unscriptural view of child-rearing.
Self-discovery has become the goal of parenting, and this inherently leads to expecting that children should be entertained, happy, and comfortable at all times. Another contributing factor is our culture’s stigma of children as inconvenient. This thinking has crept into church circles, and we whisk the kids off to be entertained by childish songs, told Bible stories where Christ is extracted from them and in His place is some moralistic duty, and where the children are taught they deserve to have a “good time.” Rather than teaching our children to grow to maturity, we have accommodated their immaturity.
Both Old and New Testaments make it quite plain that the worship of God and discipleship of the nations is to be done in the context of family life. So, it seems odd to exclude our children from coming to join with their brothers and sisters in Christ––of all ages––simply because we are worried they might cause a ruckus. What is more likely, is that we’re concerned they’ll embarrass us.
The Din of the Saints
Now for some practicals. The challenge of bringing your children into the worship service is an especially poignant challenge for those of us with wee ones. Toddlers are naturally more squirmy, want to explore, and fuss when their desires are thwarted by a parents strong arms holding them on the lap. So, how do you teach them to listen, participate, and grow in understanding what’s happening? Well, quite simply, they won’t learn if they aren’t present. Once you commit to wrangling the kiddos during the service, you need to remember a few things.
The noise your kids make is always more noticeable to you than for everyone else. You’re focused on them after all, and you probably won’t notice the crying baby on the other side of the sanctuary. I had this revelation one Sunday when the plague had descended upon our home and only I went to church. I imagined that if my kiddos had been there, in our usual spot, and I could be in two places at once, I would just hear the “din” of the service. Their noises are my responsibility, but their noises are just a portion of the joyful noise of a gathered body.
My wife and I work to teach our children to use a “church voice”, not fuss, and sit reasonably still. But all with the goal of teaching them to love and enjoy God and His people.
Make a point of practicing for church throughout the week. Teaching your family the songs your church sings, while encouraging your children to sit still in the safety of the living room is a great way to help the whole family look forward to worshipping together on the Lord’s Day. When you have family prayer or Bible time, don’t belabor it by expositing the entire 9th chapter of Romans for your four-year-old. But make it long enough to be a training ground for the littles to learn the discipline of self-controlled sitting.
Further, my wife and I work to make sure to rehearse with our children why we go to church. We remind them on Saturday night, “Why do we go to church?” They respond, “To worship God.” If their answer is, “To not wiggle or fuss, and by no means embarrass mom and dad,” our emphasis has gone cattywampus. We do teach them not to wiggle or fuss, but we want to emphasis what they can and should do, not what they shouldn’t.
What they should do is sing loud, say hearty amens, learn the creeds we recite, listen to the Bible, and get excited when the bread and wine is coming down our row. Throughout the service, I ask my two year old boy questions about what’s happening in the service. I remind him what to say and when. I ask him where the pastor is and what the bread and wine remind us of. At the end of each song I tell him, “Say amen.” He has mastered the art of loudly offering his amen with all the other saints. During the songs I help him clap the beat of the song so he is learning the rhythm of the songs, even if he doesn’t know all (or any) of the words.
If they grievously misbehave, I’ll swiftly take them to the restroom (or at our church there is a discipline room available), and give them a discipline. We strive, however, to make sure that church doesn’t become “the place where we get a ton of spankings.”
There are of course plenty of other practical odds and ends:
- Make sure you get your kids to bed early on Saturday, so they have a good night of rest before church on Sunday.
- Give ’em a good breakfast so their rumbly tummies aren’t a cause of stumbling. Perhaps have minimal snacks if they do grow too restless…
- Don’t bring the toy box to church. For infants and toddlers a small toy may be appropriate to help them stay occupied, but this is something you want to grow them out of as soon as you can.
- Our 5 year old brings pencils and paper and is only allowed to use them during the sermon, and she is supposed to try to draw something which the preacher is talking about. Our 2 year old sits on my lap, and I doodle for him on a blank page, or let him look at a Bible story book.
You Wrangle the Toddlers. God Wrangles You!
Finally, I think we have this misconception that unless you can hang on every word of the sermon, or hit every note of every song, that somehow the worship service will do you no good. Thus, we’re tempted to remove the seeming distraction of wrangling our small children. I like to jest that while I’m wrangling my toddlers, God is wrangling me.
I view every “hush”, every reminder not to wiggle, every distraction that comes with having wee ones in the worship service as a part of my worship to God. Now this doesn’t mean we should justify noisy, misbehaving kids. Again…no Lord of the Flies church please! However, my deepest desire for my children is to trust, love, and obey Christ. I want them to be mindful of their union to Christ’s body, the whole congregation of saints. My children are brothers and sisters in Christ, and I want to worship our Lord and Savior with them. They must see how precious and of utmost importance Christ is to me, and how better than in “going up to Zion” each Lord’s Day with them. So, offer up to the Lord the offering of the family rodeo in your row, and trust that God is working in you and in your children a reward of inestimable worth.
Don’t Be a Jerk, and Don’t Marry One
The world of singles is full of jerks and the women who marry them. My very simple thesis is this: don’t be a jerk, and don’t marry one. A man can be a jerk in two directions: a passive pushover, or an active abuser. So, ladies, the question of the hour is how do you determine where a guy is at on that spectrum?
You want a man who has caught a vision for what a man is supposed to be, which rules out all unbelieving men. But what about guys who profess to be Christians? Broadly speaking, wait until a young man has gone through some form of failure, and witness how he responds. Does he throw a pity party? Does he turn into a raging bull? Or does he humbly get back up and keep marching onward. Is he known by pursuing Christ?
What sort of bridegroom is Christ?
My advice to young men is that they would spend a season––prior to pursuing a young lady––to do a thorough study of what sort of Bridegroom Christ is. Look closely at how Scripture describes the way in which Christ interacts, leads, sacrifices and loves His Bride. Of course, husbands are commanded to love their wives in imitation of Christ’s love for the Church (Eph 5:25).
You’ll never be a perfect imitator, but this doesn’t mean you ought not to undertake to imitate Him. Which means you need to have as clear a picture as possible of what headship, sacrificial love, leadership, forgiveness & forbearance looks like in Christ. Thus, look to Christ, look to Christ, look to Christ.
Ladies, you cannot Instagram filter your life. A real danger for young women, is to form some rosy, dramatic picture of their life and future husband in her mind, then finely adjust the contrast, brightness and saturation of that mental image until she’s constructed an image of a guy that doesn’t exist. But what happens when a godly young man comes along and doesn’t conform to your mental Instagram feed?
Of course it always ok for a woman to decline a suitor…it is well within your rights to do so. Also––though not my emphasis here––this is why involving your father and mother in this process can be a profound blessing. However, refusing good suitors in the hopes that your Instagram-filtered suitor will be along shortly does not mean you’re walking in wisdom. As Aslan might say, “You’ll never know what would have happened.” Don’t let self-righteousness masquerade as wisdom. Let wisdom guide you. Wisdom such as these Proverbs offer: “Every purpose is established by counsel: and with good advice make war (Pro. 20:18).” And: “Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety (Pro. 11:14).”
God is a Great Story Teller
In all of this it is vital that you remember that God is a better story-teller than you are; and He does in fact care about this dimension of your existence. He cares about the person you marry, and how you find, court, and wed them. He wants to write stories that your children and grandchildren will want to hear, and which you won’t be ashamed to tell (Gen. 2:25).
In trusting God to write our story, we must walk by faith and we must actually walk. Waiting on God is not a passive activity. Waiting on God to lead you to the right person, or bring the right person along, is not intended to be done through an experience on the astral plane. It is intended to happen in the context of your circle of friends and acquaintances. God is the one who has perfectly chosen your circumstances, and gives you grace and wisdom to read those circumstances through the lens a desire to honor Christ above all else.
Solomon once warned his son about the hell that is found in sexual sin by telling him the story of a young man: “[I] beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding, Passing through the street near her corner; and he went the way to her house (Proverbs 7:7-8).” A few observations is that the young man’s first problem was that of stupidity. He was among the simpletons, and he himself was void of understanding. His second problem was that in his folly he dawdled into her street, by her house.
In the digital age, the issue of foolish young men has certainly not dissipated, and now her street is a few taps away on his smartphone. A young man, void of understanding, will almost inevitably find himself dawdling down her digital street and––like an ox to slaughter––scrolling through her Instagram pics.
Solomon concludes his warning by stating: “Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths (Pro. 7:25).” This sort of woman isn’t going away anytime soon, and will be around so long as there are simpletons such as the young man in Solomon’s story. In our digital age, sexual sin doesn’t require a young man to go anywhere. It is the perfect set-up for a slothful and foolish man. Little effort, mindless scrolling, and suddenly he finds himself swallowed up by the chamber of death.
Our devices and social media are not the issue, of course. The cultural norm of everyday women posing as if they were starlets in the latest porno is also no excuse for a Christian man to not be a man of wisdom, diligence, and self-control. He must exert himself, by the power of the Spirit, to not wander down her digital street. Thus Solomon’s exhortation to get wisdom. The Spirit is the Spirit of Wisdom.
Resisting “digital sin” is only possible because of a new birth. The Spirit of Wisdom is also the Spirit that regenerates us. Our baptism tells us that we who believe have been washed of old ways of thinking and viewing the world, and we’ve been given new eyes and a new heart. This means that a wise man knows which neighborhood to avoid, and which alleyways are nothing but trouble. Furthermore, a wise man must remember that he must view technology as his tool, rather that passively treating technology as his rightful source of entertainment. One mindset leads a man to use the tool to make and produce; the other mindset leads a man to be nothing more that loathsome leach, entrenched in a lifestyle of mere consumption.
In fighting against sin we must remember that there is a needle to thread. On one side is the glorious Gospel that assures us that all our failure and sin is atoned for by Christ, and our good deeds will never suffice for our salvation. On the other hand, in grateful response to our salvation wrought by Christ, we strive against the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eyes, and the pride of life as if our very lives depended on it. To paraphrase CS Lewis, we must on one hand care very deeply about sin, and on the other not care at all.
We should hate our sin, but we must never base our eternal salvation on how fervent our hatred is of sin. Our hatred of sin will never be quite as seething as it should be, and our striving after godliness will never be as consistent as it should be. Thus, we must be good Calvinists, rest on the grace of God with firm knowledge that we have been given a new heart with new affections and abundant grace to grow in Christ-likeness. Sometimes our sanctification may grind to a halt, it would seem, but the point is to never throw in the towel. When it seems we are making no progress, it is often at that very point where we are being brought low in order to be spurred onward with greater vigor. But, never just dawdle down the cyber-street of seduction into sin. Steer clear, by the grace of God.
My friend Toby Sumpter wrote a piece recently, outlining a very cogent argument for how individual States could quite practically abolish abortion overnight by doing to the abortion issue what Colorado and Washington did with the Marijuana issue. We need an all (peaceful) ideas on the table mentality when it comes to abortion, so here is something that I’ve been mulling over that I think is quite attainable within a decade or so, where we coordinated enough to do it. I’d also point you to EndAbortionNow.com as a great work in this fight. In light of the latest video exposing the butchery of Planned Parenthood, here is an idea.
Another Video Exposing Planned Parenthood’s Butcher of the Unborn Dropped Yesterday
— Ben Zornes (@benzornes) July 27, 2017
There are around 200,000-300,000 Protestant churches. Obviously not all of them are doctrinally sound, spiritual healthy, or interested in the abortion issue. So, take just half of those churches.
150,000 churches. 50 states. 3,144 counties.
That’s 3000 churches per state, and roughly 47 per county.
One of the most persuasive talking points that Planned Parenthood has in their arsenal is that they provide access to health care for women. Now, this has obviously been debunked numerous times, and of course their “health-care” involves slaughtering infants and selling their organs for profit.
However, what if we zeroed in on that claim and over a decade worked to open women’s health care clinics in every county in the US? What if the church subsidized many of the “crisis pregnancy centers” which have done so much good work over the last 40 years, and provided comprehensive health care for women. What if we offered a better product at a lower cost than Planned Parenthood?
Legislation is one front in this war. We do not fight merely to pull down, but to build something better in its place. I want to direct this especially at Christian high school and college students who are passionate about this fight: what if you aimed you life purpose to get a medical degree in order to run one of these clinics. It could only take 3,144 doctors.
When We Might Feel Discouraged
Christian, do not grow discouraged. It may seem as if the Church is beset on all sides by earthly foes and hellish fiends. Schisms and heresies abound. The seeds of mushy thinking and sloppy feelings have brought us a harvest of evangelical apathy, theological anemia, and liturgical cravenness. Many have lost their confidence in the efficacy of the Gospel, largely because we have been deceived into thinking that the Gospel’s only purpose is behavior modification or a topic for theological hair splitting.
The seeds of mushy thinking and sloppy feelings have brought us a harvest of evangelical apathy, theological anemia, and liturgical cravenness.My fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, the Gospel of our Lord Jesus brings better news than simply “correcting our bad behavior.” This Gospel we preach is white hot with the blazing glory of resurrecting power. It is the power of God unto salvation (Rom. 1:16). It is not merely a slap on the wrist to get us to stop chewing our nails. The Gospel is accompanied by the regenerating power of the Spirit, which makes dead souls live.
Two Errors in Understanding the Gospel’s Effect
Slapping the wrist of a corpse will only cause the corpse to more quickly crumble into the decaying dust of its existence. But this Gospel brings new birth. It makes that dead man live, truly live. This does indeed change his behavior because he was once dead, but now is alive. So, we must not make the mistake of thinking the Gospel is only about following Jesus’ example, this is the mistake of liberal theologians. But we must not make the mistake in the opposite direction that the Gospel’s effect is found only in some technical relationship to God.
The Gospel of Christ’s electing grace in saving sinners is not akin to a Google algorithm which makes sure I get on God’s good list, and so glad that’s all sorted! Rather, His redeeming work in saving His chosen ones means that we are united to His life and righteousness. This means a wellspring of the most variegated glories of Christ’s perfections and virtues are born anew in the sinner-made-a-saint.
To the Furthest Shore
But one other sinful assumption many evangelicals of our generation are making–and these are the young, reformed, and restless types–is an assumption that is based on the individualistic sensibilities of the Enlightenment era. Yes, God saves individual sinners. But this Gospel which we preach is more powerful than the saving of individuals. It is a leaven which is working its way through individuals into families into cities into nations. The Gospel, though at times it seems shrouded by the surrounding darkness, is a torch which will bring confusion to God’s enemies at the shout of our true Gideon–Jesus Christ.
When it breaks forth in all its resplendent glory of Spirit-born revival its effects will not be the mere redemption of individuals. As the fire of God’s grace lights upon the kindling of dead hearts, families, and cultures, it cannot but bring new life. It is a fire that destroys that it might make new. Kings and their kingdoms will stream to the city of our God (Ps. 68:29), all the nations will worship Him (Is. 2:2 & Ps. 86:9), and those walking in darkness will see a great light and as Isaiah foresaw: “And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising (Is. 60:2).” This flood of fire with which God has poured out upon the earth, will wash through the whole earth and the Gentile nations shall come into Jerusalem to be nourished by the river of peace (Is. 66:12).
Make no mistake, the Gospel burns brightest when it seems the Church is at her darkest. It is her hope and her sword. The Church is not a victim of her circumstance, she is fair and terrible as an army sent out to conquest. She laughs at danger. She fears no darkness. This is so because the Gospel is not only effective in saving us for eternity, but the Gospel will conquer in history as well. The nations will rejoice in God, in history. We are not inviting the peoples of the nations to join our secret club of 42 people. We are proclaiming a Gospel that Christ has bought this world with His most precious blood and call upon all people, everywhere to repent of their rebellion, and be welcomed into the City of the True Jerusalem.
Repentance is not just for individuals, it is for city councils, family gatherings, federal governments, and continents.Repentance is not just for individuals, it is for city councils, family gatherings, federal governments, and continents. Africa, Asia, North & South America, Oceania, Europe, and Antarctica are Christ’s. Chicago, Weld County Colorado, Tokyo, Jamaica, Lesotho, Mosul, Saskatchewan, Amsterdam’s Red Light District, are all lay within the wide-extent of the domains of Christ’s Kingdom. We are to call them to baptize them into His covenant and to “obey all He has commanded” (Mt. 28:18-20). “For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea (Is. 11:9).”
Broadening Our Scope
Lift the smallness of our vision.Perhaps the reason for the ineptitude and impotence of our modern evangelism is that our scope of the Gospel’s extent and influence is so darn small. We want it to be a moral slap on the wrist or an entry in God’s rosters. When in fact, the Gospel is the good news that Christ is King of this planet, and we are to expect the nations to be redeemed as we faithfully preach His living Word as the Spirit pours out effusions of saving grace upon individuals, families and nations. His Kingdom shall know no end. So perhaps our confidence in the Gospel’s power should not be so constrained. It is far more potent than we could ever imagine. As one hymnodist once said, “Lift the smallness of our vision.”
Let me get straight to the point, your lifestyle of healthy-eating is killing you. You were not made to worship at the altar of food, and the health-food industry has bewitched you. The idol of “healthy-eating” is a cult that particularly ensnares and entices women. This is a false gospel that Christian women are being led away by, and the men in their lives are doing precious little to halt the slide.
You were not made to worship at the altar of food, and the health-food industry has bewitched you. Let me make some generalizations. A crunchy mama often talks about her healthy eating “journey”, or her quest to feed her family with “real” food. She does her shopping at those stores where they don’t have plastic bags, and regularly spends twice as much money on half as much food. She posts about how sugar is as bad as cocaine, the flour in your pantry isn’t really grain, and shares the discoveries of her “research” into how bad MSG & GMO’s are for you and how great she and her family has felt since 86ing them from their diet.
Here’s the rub, your “quest to eat healthy” never ends until you have bought in to an entire “ecosystem” of products. It is interesting to note that many fear Monsanto and big farm lobbyists and their control of our food supply, but neglect the fact that the all-organic industry (and its ilk) is just as eager to sell you on something you may not really need. You are being advertised to, and it is surprising how little resistance is put up by many well-intentioned housewives.
Crunchy Mama’s quest starts as simply eliminating “junk foods” (chips, soda, candy); but it soon turns into buying pesticide-free foods, then a gluten intolerance, followed by GMO-free toothpaste and BPA-free toothbrushes, Himalayan salt lamps to combat EMFs, expensive vitamin supplements, powders, and drinks, essential oils, and an insistence on grinding your own spelt flour so that you can eat “like they used to.” This devotion to healthy eating will obsess you until it controls every facet of your life. It will also successfully cut you off from Christians who don’t eat like you. In effect, you will have recreated a dietary code that more closely resembles Jewish Pharisaism than it does Christian feasting. You will have erected a barrier to fellowship and liberty that inhibits your enjoyment of God’s good gifts, and stumbles weak consciences.
This soggy reasoning leads many crunchy mamas to forget that pleasure in foods is not evil. Your brain releasing dopamine after biting into a fresh KrispyKreme donut, or munching on a handful of potato chips, or sipping southern sweet tea, a beer, or soda is not a sign that something is going wrong. Rather, God fashioned our tongues to send signals of pleasure to our brains in response to such flavors. Sugar is a gift from God, not a curse from evil corporations. Can gifts be misused? Of course. But the problem, then, isn’t in the gift it is in the heart. Self-control must certainly be advocated for in regards to our eating, but it strikes me that many women who crusade against sugar, flour, etc. want artificial control (i.e. no “bad food” in the house) to take the place of self-control.This soggy reasoning leads to many crunchy mamas to forget that pleasure in foods is not evil.
The other problem I wish to address is your “lifestyle” choice is rarely left unvocalized. Instead it is talked about ad nauseum. Think about the many women who have been lured into the sins of insecurity and envy because you keep prattling on about your health food choices. She is left running through her cupboard, measuring herself against you and finding herself lacking. She becomes convinced that she is not caring for her family as well as you are, and so she begins her own quest to eat “truly” healthy. The tendency here is to think, “I’m grateful I do not eat like other men!” Those with weaker consciences are left to grapple with whether they are doing something wrong, because all the crunchy mamas told them that you shoudn’t buy bread from the store.
My question is: “truly healthy” by what standard and at what cost? MSG has been shown to be harmless. However, that didn’t stop one Christian lady from asking a hostess of a fellowship meal I attended if the chips had MSG in them. The look on the hostess’ face was one I won’t soon forget as she blushed in shame that she hadn’t lived up to this other woman’s dietary standards. She meekly apologized, and the other woman pronounced she would just skip out on the chips. Surely it would have been better if the first woman had simply eaten the chips in gratitude!
Or another woman who wondered aloud whether God even intended us to eat grain, and if He did, He certainly didn’t mean our modern “produced” grain. Now living in the Inland Northwest, we grow enough wheat around here to feed nations. Further, while they “used to” eat stone ground wheat, they also used to hope that they’d have enough food to make it through the winter. We take it for granted that we can get a loaf of bread (made from wheat from around here more than likely) anytime of the year. Surely this is a better arrangement than hoping there’d be enough to last until next year’s harvest!
If you’ve read thus far, well done! I know that many in my readership probably fall on this spectrum of healthy-eating. I don’t wish to offend unnecessarily, but I do hope to jar you enough to help you spot the gluttony that is often found at the heart of healthy-eating. It obsesses over food. It stresses over what “poisonous, cancer causing ingredient” might I accidentally be feeding my family! The focus is often not on glorifying God, enjoying His gifts (such as refined sugar, manufactured wheat, and even MSG), and encouraging Christian hospitality. Ask yourself if perhaps you’ve been suckered into being a willing costumer of the “organic food” industry. Ask if you have been subtly converted to the school of thought which teaches certain foods are “better for you.” Christ is Lord of the earth and history. That means refined sugar wasn’t somehow outside of His foreknowledge and He is now scrambling to figure out which angel leaked the secret directions for processing sugar cane into that (clearly wicked) white powder.
After all, at some point in history, some guy put a rock in his mouth and discovered salt. Does that mean we should eat rocks by the fistful? Nope. It does mean that God has placed us here to discover the many uses of the blessings he’s filled the earth with. Should we use wisdom and self-control? Of course. Should we insist that the sawdust flavored flourless flour is actually “better for you?” Um. Negative. Gut health is not as important as some clever marketer would have you believe. In essence, your smugness in not drinking a 64oz Big Gulp of Mountain Dew will do far more harm to your soul than it will to the body of the fellow who chugs three a day. There is obviously not enough space here to go into all the details of these many issues, and I’m sure this raises many questions, which I will gladly answer in the comment section and, if necessary, in follow up posts. Let the discussion commence…
Ben Zornes’ helpful guide to health food. pic.twitter.com/zenacWLOZv
— Ben Zornes (@benzornes) May 12, 2017