Ethics

“What we believe shapes how we behave. As we see evangelicals slipping away from foundational beliefs, we also see them rejecting biblical teaching on Christian living. Convictions about the key ethical issues that previously defined evangelical ethics, especially in the public sphere, are weakening as church attendance slackens.”

Statement: Sex outside of traditional marriage is a sin.
Finding: Only 52% of self-identified evengelicals who attend church once or twice per month strongly agree with this statement.

Statement: Abortion is a sin.
Finding: Only 48% of self-identified evengelicals who attend church once or twice per month strongly agree with this statement.

 

Source: https://thestateoftheology.com/

Beliefs of Christian Young Adults

Findings about the spiritual life of young adults.

The State of Theology
Ligonier Ministries and Lifeway Research (2015)

Study Findings: In this survey of theological beliefs, researchers asked self-professing Christians to respond to a series of statements related to classic, historic Christian doctrine. In every answer offered related to these theological beliefs, young people between the ages of 18 and 34 consistently held heretical views at a higher percentage than older respondents. Young people who identify themselves as Christians, are far more likely to hold views that aren’t Christian.

 

 

Source: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2018/are-young-people-really-leaving-christianity/

Mothers

“The impression that a praying mother leaves upon her children is life-long. Perhaps when you are dead and gone your prayer will be answered.” – Dwight L. Moody

“Only God Himself fully appreciates the influence of a Christian mother in the molding of character in her children.” – Billy Graham

Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. -Proverbs 31:30

Online Dating

A few struggles that online dating presents.

Some interesting thoughts taken from this article: http://timharford.com/2016/02/online-dating-swipe-left/

We badly want to believe that after giving a website a list of our preferences, hobbies and answers to questions such as, “Do you prefer the people in your life to be simple or complex?”, a clever algorithm will produce a pleasing result.

Because these pleasing results seem elusive, wishful thinking has gone into overdrive.

It is crazy to believe that someone’s eye colour and height, or even hobbies and musical tastes, are a basis for a lasting relationship.

A simple survey that Norton conducted with two other behavioural scientists, Jeana Frost and Dan Ariely, revealed that people were unhappy with their online dating experience in three obvious ways. The first was that the “online” bit of the dating was about as much fun as booking a dentist’s appointment. The second was that it took for ever. This was the third problem: people tended to have high expectations before the dates they had arranged online but felt disenchanted afterwards. To adapt a Woody Allen joke: not only are the dates terrible but there are so few of them.

Given that online dating tends to be tedious, time-consuming and fruitless, it is no surprise that we seem hungry for a better way.

Soul Mate

Is there really only one perfect person for each of us to marry, and if you don’t marry that person than you won’t be happy? Some thoughts to consider:

If this is true, than what about Christians who have married non-Christians? The Bible is clear about the truth that Christians should marry Christians (because what we believe affects how we act and live). So if a Christian married a non-Christian, what happened to their perfect soul mate? Are they left out because their perfect soul mate married someone else?

What about a death of a Christian spouse? I know faithful Christians who have lost a spouse and eventually remarried later in life. Did they have two perfect soul mates?

If we each have a perfect soul mate, than how do we know when we have found the right one?

May I suggest that the idea of a perfect soul mate, may be erroneous? Biblically speaking the most important thing is finding someone who is a Christian who truly fears the Lord, or desires to do what is pleasing to God above all else. Love and marriage is not about how perfectly people fit together. Rather, love is a willful choice. God loves us not because we are easy to love, but because He simply graciously chose to love us. The same goes for our relationships; no one is easy to love, but we can choose to love them and remain committed even when things aren’t perfect.

Perhaps it’s not about finding your perfect soul mate, but rather finding a committed Christian who together are willing to make it work.

Christian Liberty

“A majority of single Christians are rejecting biblical doctrine by choosing to have sex before they are married. Sixty-one percent of self-identified Christian singles who answered a recent ChristianMingle survey said they are willing to have casual sex without being in love, while only 11 percent said they are waiting to have sex until they are married.” https://www.christianpost.com/news/christian-dating-culture-part-1-majority-of-single-christians-reject-idea-of-waiting-for-marriage-to-have-sex-114422/

While Christians would agree that sex before marriage is wrong (fornication), something has to change to help believers practically live out their faith. For one I think there is a misconception about Christian freedom and liberty. Freedom in Christ is not about seeing how close we can get to “the line” of sin without sinning, but rather it is a freedom to live rightly. Once we put our faith in Christ we can actually do things that are pleasing to God by the strength and help that the Holy Spirit provides.

For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. -Romans 8:2

I also think Christians need to be more open and honest with each other. Encouraging and helping each other in the battle. There are temptations all around us and we all struggle with purity of the mind, heart, and action.

Delayed Marriage and Adulthood

Some tidbits from a good article from Albert Mohler:  https://www.ligonier.org/learn/articles/problem-delaying-marriage/

Tellingly, secular authorities in the culture are now expressing worry about the delay of marriage among young Americans. When Time magazine is concerned about young Americans not getting married, Christians must be doubly concerned.

Study after study reveals that young Americans are achieving adulthood, if at all, far later than previous generations now living.

Why is this important to us all? A stable and functional culture requires the establishment of stable marriages and the nurturing of families. Without a healthy marriage and family life as foundation, no lasting and healthy community can long survive.

And we must encourage young Christians not to delay marriage, nor to marry in haste, but to make marriage a priority in the critical years of young adulthood. The Christian church must encourage young Christians toward the goal of marriage and must be clear about the necessity of holiness and obedience to Christ at every stage and in every season of life.

The Need for Fellowship

In a world affected by sin, filled with pain, trials, and struggles, it is important for Christians to go out of their way to encourage other Christians.

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.  And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,  not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. –Hebrews 10:23-25

Those who have failed miserably are often the first to see God’s formula for success.Erwin Lutzer

My heart goes out to you, and I long to see you all coming constantly to God for a fresh supply of love. –D.L. Moody

Truly Jesus is the great need of our souls. –J. Hudson Taylor

Spiritual and Emotional Abuse

Briefly examining the subtle power of spiritual and emotional abuse. This issue is one of personal significance to me. My hope is that perhaps the compiling of this information will be helpful to someone else as well someday.

10 Subtle Manipulations
These 10 examples are all things I have experienced first hand. Though from an outside perspective they may not seem to be that bad, the weight and total accumulating effect of these manipulations are more devastating than I can describe in words. I pulled these examples of manipulation from a book on spiritual abuse:
(Johnson, David, and Jeffrey VanVonderen. The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse. Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House, 1991. Print.)

Forms of Subtle Manipulations:

  1. Shaming people out loud.
  2. Can’t Talk Rule – tries to keep people quiet by labeling them the problem if they notice and confront a problem.
  3. Coding – verbal manipulation where messages are sent in a way that they have to be decoded in a sense, but generally only those directly involved will get the message.
  4. Triangling – sending a message to someone through another person instead of delivering it directly.
  5. Obscured Reality – anything that could expose those in authority is denied or ignored. Interacting with people outside of the system is condemned because it is threatening to them. Problems are denied and therefore remain.
  6. Performance Based – When behavior is legislated from the outside, instead of coming from a heart that loves God, it cannot be called obedience. It is rather compliance with external pressure. This orientation squeezes people from the outside in, they are not transformed, but rather they are conformed.
  7. Unspoken Rules – you don’t find out what they are until you break them. Rules like this are never written down because if they were written down they would be easily exposed as anti-Christian.
  8. Humiliation and Scare Tactics – you can be ‘exposed’ for asking too many questions, for disobeying unspoken rules, or for disagreeing with authority. People are made public examples in order to send a message to those who remain. Many methods are used to warn their friends and others about how ‘dangerous’ or ‘divisive’ they are.
  9. Misusing or Abusing Scripture – using scripture incorrectly in order to manipulate.
  10. Double Talk – the leaders sound very religious but there is a sense of vagueness. They will give you the ‘right’ answer but rarely the ‘real’ answer. You cannot confront them or pin them down because they never truly answer the question and are deceitful.

 

Spotting Spiritual Abuse
Have a distorted view of respect. They forget the simple adage that respect is earned, not granted. Abusive leaders demand respect without having earned it by good, honest living.

Demand allegiance as proof of the follower’s allegiance to Christ. It’s either his/her way or no way. And if a follower deviates, he is guilty of deviating from Jesus.

Create a culture of fear and shame. Often there is no grace for someone who fails to live up to the church’s or ministry’s expectation. And if someone steps outside of the often-unspoken rules, leaders shame them into compliance. Can’t admit failure but often searches out failure in others and uses that knowledge to hold others in fear and captivity. They often quote scriptures about not touching God’s anointed, or bringing accusations against an elder. Yet they often confront sin in others, particularly ones who bring up legitimate biblical issues. Or they have their circle of influence take on this task, silencing critics.

Often have a charismatic leader at the helm who starts off well, but slips into arrogance, protectionism and pride. Where a leader might start off being personable and interested in others’ issues, he/she eventually withdraws to a small group of “yes people” and isolates from the needs of others. Harbors a cult of personality, meaning if the central figure of the ministry or church left, the entity would collapse, as it was entirely dependent on one person to hold the place together.

Buffer him/herself from criticism by placing people around themselves whose only allegiance is to the leader. Views those who bring up issues as enemies. Those who were once friends/allies swiftly become enemies once a concern is raised. Sometimes these folks are banished, told to be silent, or shamed into submission.

Hold to outward performance but rejects authentic spirituality. Places burdens on followers to act a certain way, dress an acceptable way, and have an acceptable lifestyle.

Use exclusivity for allegiance. Followers close to the leader or leaders feel like insiders. Everyone else is on the outside, though they long to be in that inner circle.

Source: http://www.marydemuth.com/spiritual-abuse-10-ways-to-spot-it/

Average Age at First Marriage is Rising

The average age at first marriage has risen significantly over the last 50 years. People today are waiting 6-7 years longer to get married than previous generations. Between 1950-1960 the average age of men at first marriage was around 23 and the average age for women was around 20. Today the average age for men at first marriage is around 29 and the average age for women at first marriage is around 27.

Divorce rates have been fairly steady but the number of both men and women who have never been married has steadily increased.

https://www.census.gov/data/tables/time-series/demo/families/marital.html