Beautiful, and Unavailable

A Christian woman should seek to be two things in her public appearance — beautiful and (to all but one) unavailable. One of the fundamental mistakes that women make, when they are falling away from a biblical understanding of femininity, is that of confusing the effects created by signals of availability with the effects of beauty. But this is a drastic mistake. Beauty attracts certainly, in a certain way, but so does availability attract — in another way entirely. When women are signaling availability, they ought not to tally up the results as though they were coming from the beauty column. Because Christian women know that general availability is prohibited in Scripture, they are the ones most prone to make this category mistake. They adopt signals from the world, and try to change the meaning of those signals in their heart. But it doesnt matter what those signals mean down inside her own heart.

via Most of Us Arent That Cute.

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Douglas Wilson: on what “Twilight” says about love.

If a man treats you terribly, it is all because he loves you. If a man confesses he might kill you, you should just stay with him forever and a day. If a man abandons you without explanation, it is because he loves you so much. If your lover needs to be changed, it must be possible for you to change him. And anyways, after that doesn’t work out, it would be better to be swallowed up by his problems than to be without him. Anything but going without him.

via Twilight #6.

Bring the toddlers to the Word (Douglas Wilson)

Pastor Wilson speaks for those of us who think that “seeker sensitive” started in “children’s church” and ends in Ipod Church, where every person just downloads their own church service and plays it into their ear buds.

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Many years ago we made the decision to disband our children’s church and nursery, and go to a system of parents training their little ones to worship with us. We have cry room, and so on, but the intent is to have our children grow up into the worship of God. We have had many reasons to rejoice in that decision, and we don’t regret it at all.

At the same time, the point of this exhortation is to let you parents know that we know how much work you do, and to encourage you in it. It is good work, work that will bear fruit for many years, over many generations. It is sometimes easy to lose sight of the long view, especially if you have five children under the age of seven, and all of them are squirmy. It is easy to lose sight of that when you haven’t heard more than ten minutes of a sermon at a time in three years, and you wonder if you will ever be able to listen to a sermon again.

But the life of Christ is not best represented by listening to a lecture, undistracted by anything. The life of Christ is pulled in many directions, just like you are being, and you are willing for this to happen so that your children may come to worship the Lord. Laying it down for someone else this way is our glory. It is a sacrifice to bring them to the Word, to the psalms, to the wine and to the bread.

So don’t measure what you get out of these worship services with carnal balances. The weight of glory you are carrying is far beyond the weight of toddlers in your lap.

Douglas Wilson: “Fathers are jovial and open-handed”

This is ostensibly about food, but read and think about parenting in general, and specifically Christian parenting of the strict sort, where it seldom is grasped that the  function of the father is to GIVE.   And the level of his giving is what distinguishes him from a sperm-donor.

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What are fathers called to? Fathers give. Fathers protect. Fathers bestow. Fathers yearn and long for the good of their children. Fathers delight. Fathers sacrifice. Fathers are jovial and open-handed. Fathers create abundance, and if lean times come they take the leanest portion themselves and create a sense of gratitude and abundance for the rest. Fathers love birthdays and Christmas because it provides them with yet another excuse to give some more to the kids. When fathers say no, as good fathers do from time to time, it is only because they are giving a more subtle gift, one that is a bit more complicated than a cookie. They must include among their gifts things like self-control and discipline and a work ethic, but they are giving these things, not taking something else away just for the sake of taking. Fathers are not looking for excuses to say no. Their default mode is not no.

The canard that is frequently applied to the Puritans does not apply to the historical Puritans, but it does apply to a certain kind of dour, pinched personality. This is the kind of person who says that God is up in heaven, looking down on us, trying to find someone who is having a good time. When he finds such a one, He tells him to stop it right now. H.L. Mencken defined puritanism as the haunting fear that somehow, somewhere, someone might be happy. That is, as I said, a slander on the Puritans, but there is a kind of person that it does apply to. That kind of person fills up the lives of others with “this is bad for you,” “so is that,” and “so is this,” and “that too over there.” I ache for children growing up in such homes, not because they are “eating healthy” (because they usually aren’t which is another subject), but because the spiritual environment is so unhealthy. What statement is being made in all this about fatherhood and provision? The kids grow up in “a garden,” but not the Father’s kind where all the trees are permitted but one. They grow up in something called a garden, where all the trees but one are forbidden, and the one that is allowed grows ricecake-like globules that taste like bits of styrofoam glued together in a nutrient ball. And so the children are surrounded by delightful fruit that their father could afford, but refuses to provide them, and which other kids get to eat freely. They have a father who does not provide, although he could, which means that he must not want to. They have a father who does not provide, who does not bestow, who does not overflow. They come to think that God the Father is like that, and they conclude that they must not be worth very much. That sense of guilt for just existing carries over into adulthood, and they then do the same thing to their kids. We need more guilt over sin, and a lot less guilt over breathing, maintaining a temperature of 98.6, and needing a certain amount of glucose for the brain. Slandering the character of God is one of the sins we need to reject as sin. There are people who need to start feeling guilty for feeling guilty all the time, if you follow me here.

Such folks still need to have a father who delights in them objectively. They need a father who delights in them the way Joseph delighted in Benjamin, by heaping up his plate. But with a lot of these people, that’s not going to happen any time soon. How many children in Christian homes think that the universe is governed by a pinched, censorious face because that is the face that is presented to them? Many Christian parents need to confront the fact that they are no fun at all, and that when the kids show up at dinner for their gruel such a dinner is a fitting metaphor for what is going on everywhere else in that home.

The prodigal son famously veered off into excess. The older brother was a dutiful fusser. The yearning father was the one who had kept the fatted calf for just such an occasion as this return, and directed that it be prepared for his wayward son, now repentant. Did the returning prodigal really need to go to another party? Yes, apparently he did, but it needed to happen in his father’s house.

Douglas Wilson: Your child is your creation.

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There is something counterintuitive here, something that fathers with problem children must embrace as the first step out. However much your child’s behavior is displeasing you, you have to come to grips with the fact that the behavior is something which, at some level, you have required of him. This is another way of saying that the first step out is confession, not accusation. If your child is your adversary, then make your accusations. But if your child is still your child, then the place to begin is confession. You don’t have to confess how you required this of him (because you don’t know that yet), but you should confess to God as sin the fact that you did require this of him.

Douglas Wilson: on the non-violence of the Jain culture

Douglas Wilson posts another in a series of answers to Sam Harris’ book “Letter to a Christian Nation.” First one here.

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You refer to the “obscene celebrations of violence that we find throughout the Old and New Testaments” (p. 11). You set this over against the “utter non-violence” of the Jains, which you praise. This is frankly mystifying. You say the morality of the Jains surpasses the morality of the Christians, and you cite a Jain tenet. “Do not injure, abuse, oppress, enslave, insult, torment, torture, or kill any creature or living being” (p. 23). I really cannot figure this out. You are an atheist, an evolutionist. And yet you praise the morality of utter non-violence, which would have gotten the evolutionary struggle absolutely nowhere. Devout Jains will go barefoot all the time to avoid stepping on bugs, and will carry a broom to sweep the path in front of them all the time, for the same reason. Devout Jains will wear a mask to avoid breathing in, and thereby killing, any insect. You say this represents a superior morality to that of the Christians who believe in the Bible. So you are saying — as an atheist — that if America’s evangelical Christians all forsook the use of antibiotics because of the genocidal devastation it was causing to the microbes within, you would commend us for the moral advance? Do you promise? Because it seems to me that it would be a golden opportunity for you to dismiss us all as uneducated nutjobs.