Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Is Social Media Making Us Arrogant?

Social media allows us to express ourselves like never before. We can share our opinions on Facebook and Twitter, post pictures of ourselves on Instagram, and create virtual boards full of things we like on Pinterest. Social media allows us to create a whole world devoted just to ourselves.

It seems that this virtual world we create for ourselves often goes to our heads, or does it? I’ve been trying to figure out if it is really social media which is making us arrogant, or if social media only reveals our arrogance. Regardless, it’s quite obvious through social media that we think a lot of ourselves.

The most tangible evidence of our arrogance has to come in the form of the selfie, which actually was named the word of the year last year. We are taking a lot of pictures of ourselves. 

Allow me to tell you a story from Greek mythology you’ve probably heard. Narcissus was a hunter who was legendary for his beauty. In fact, he was apparently so good-looking that when he happened to gaze at his reflection in a pool of water, he couldn’t look away. Paralyzed by his own beauty, Narcissus died.

My, my. How tragic.

Perhaps the word Narcissus sounds familiar to you. This is because our word “narcissism” (a fixation with oneself) is derived from this Greek myth; however, it’s not a myth. This story is being lived out today, only instead of pools of water, we have pixels on a screen.

It amazes me how some people seem to be obsessed with selfie-taking. They’ll change their profile picture every week it seems, and post extra pictures they took of themselves (nicely edited) on their Facebook page, or Instagram, or what have you. If you really think you are so good-looking that you feel you must take a picture to capture your beauty, okay, but then to post it all over social media? That just screams, “Hey everyone! Look how narcissistic I am!”

The epitome of this is the bathroom mirror selfie. Really? The bathroom? What? Are you really so proud that you were able to have a bowel movement that you had to take a picture of yourself in your glory, and then post it on social media for everyone to know that you look good even when nature calls? Incredible.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Do Guys Have To Be Modest Too?

A frequent objection I've heard raised when the topic of female immodesty arises is, “Well don’t guys need to be modest too?” This is a legitimate question; however, more often than not, this is only meant to be given as an argument for women to dress more immodestly, rather than a call for men to be more modest. In fact, we even have women participating in topless protests today. Men can take their shirts off? Women should be able to do so as well, right? Or so goes the reasoning of such protesters (if equality really is their true motive.)

The argument that women should be able to be less modest because men are less modest strikes me as incredibly juvenile. It is children who often think, “Oh, my brother didn't put his plate in the dishwasher, so I don’t have to put my plate in either.”

I also find it insanely ironic that these Feminists are still letting men dictate what they do. Feminism is supposed to be about equality, and independence and empowerment for women…and yet it’s still, “Men do X. It’s considered improper for women to do X. That’s not fair. I want to be like men and do X too.”

What others do should not dictate what we do, rather, we should do what is right and good for others.Young Keepers of The Home wrote a great article about this which I recommend you check out if you’re a girl.

However, while it’s true that how guys dress should not dictate how girls dress, it is certainly true that the Bible calls for everyone, not just women, to be modest.

Female immodesty gets more attention because it seems to be much more noticeable. Practically every girl and woman these days is dressing in revealing clothing, whereas guys typically wear adequate clothing which isn't as revealing.  I think male immodesty generally takes a different form unrelated to clothing.

As I’ve said in previous posts surrounding female modesty, the core of male modesty is the same. It comes down to humility, and humility is a matter of the heart.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Why Is Everyone So Upset With Jameis Winston?

When I heard last year’s Heisman trophy winner, Jameis Winston, was suspended for a game last Saturday because he acted like a person his age normally acts, I laughed. Apparently what he said was offensive to women and not appropriate, but I've heard similar things spoken in high school hallways and on my own college campus. Of course, not everyone stands up on a table in the middle of their college campus to shout such things, but all the same, the words Jameis Winston spoke which led to his suspension are common, and come out of the mouth of just about every college student. What is more, all he did was repeat the words of what was apparently a popular internet meme.

The same words he spoke can be found in the songs of popular rappers and music artists, and they are celebrated. They are in films, and they are in our common speech. Most people thought what he said was funny, as the plethora of tweets about the event proved. Everyone laughed. Why then did he get suspended for acting the way the culture teaches us to act? Do people really not know what middle school, high school, and college-aged kids say?

Jameis Winston got suspended for acting exactly the way he was supposed to act. The media has come out and claimed that what he said was offensive to women, okay, but why then does popular culture encourage this type of attitude toward women?  

As Doug Wilson says, “a large part of the entertainment industry is dedicated to honoring the dishonorable, praising the despicable, and glorifying the inglorious.” Jameis Winston’s crime is that he actually said, publically, what is only said behind closed doors, or allowed in media as “art”. Also, he happens to be famous, and because he is famous, we hold him to a higher standard for some reason.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Even Arranged Marriage Is Better Than Dating

Jack LaValley, a relationship coach featured in the publicity blitz, said, " You don't have to do it exactly like I did, but I have things to show you about how I made a successful marriage, and I wasn't even in love with my wife when I married her."1

Some people are probably baffled that I'm actually going to make an argument for arranged marriage. But thanks to my friendly commenter, Wynd, who gave me the idea, I am doing just that. 

Courtship can be difficult and complicated. There are a lot of boundaries you have to follow, and it can sometimes be risky (though certainly far less risky than dating). I've joked to my parents a couple times that it would be so much easier if they just picked a wife for me. Although that is not what I really want, it would be a lot simpler and easier. 

I'm not going to argue that you should adopt the practice of arranged marriage, but I think there is a lot we can learn from those who do practice arranged marriage. Who knows, maybe when I'm done writing this, I'll have convinced myself that arranged marriage is better than courtship. All I know for certain is that even arranged marriage is better than dating. 

“Really? You’re going to say that an arranged marriage is better than dating? A business deal is better than true love?”  

Yes, arranged marriage is better than dating when it comes to finding the right spouse, and it’s not even close. However, done correctly, arranged marriage is far from a business deal, and dating certainly doesn't have a clue as to what “true love” is.  

Friday, September 19, 2014

"This is so messed up," And Other Kind Words From An Anonymous Person

I received the following quote on my post, “How To Be Emotionally Pure In Courtship,
 “Hmmm. Maybe we should just have our pastor or parents pick out our "good match" spouses. That would make it a whole lot easier for everyone. *whew* besides we will just learn to love them later right? As long as they are a good match nothing else matters right? :) Wow, this is so messed up I'm appalled, I'm very sad that people still think that this thinking is ok. The only girl I know that went through this "perfect" scenario, and married her "godly" husband is the most miserable girl I know. You can "learn to love" someone, but I think that God factored in attraction for a reason.... Or wait is attraction a product of the fall? I can't remember anymore... im sure you have never experienced a real "courtship"/relationship. :/ this is exactly the thinking that pretty much ruined my poor brother and his wife's life.... Thankfully though they persevered and are married and boy am I glad that the religious nut with this thinking wasn't able to ruin their marriage.”

I normally wouldn’t spend so much time replying to such an uncivil post, but I get quite a few, so I feel a need to explain how such comments make me feel so that my critics might change their tactics…though I rather doubt they will.

What really frustrates me about comments such as the above, is that this person could be right. Perhaps they have a legitimate objection to something I wrote, or maybe I need to clarify something…but their comment is so unhelpful, I can’t be sure what she is even referring to. 

“Wow, this is so messed up,” she says. What is messed up? That parents should pick our spouses for us? Okay, maybe, but I didn’t say that in my post. But even if I did say that, how is it messed up? She doesn’t give any reasoning, but instead just throws out an unsupported statement. Does she expect me to take her at her word? Does she want me to listen to her with a blind faith? Is she a deity? If she wants to help me see things the way she does, then I need some reasoning. But, maybe this isn’t what she is saying is messed up.

Is it messed up that I argue being a good match should be the major determining factor when it comes to whether or not you should marry someone? Okay…how is that messed up? Surely she is not saying we should marry people we are not a good match with. Maybe she doesn't understand what I mean by a “good match?” Maybe she thinks what I mean by "good match" consists of merely having the same beliefs or something? (which I don't believe). It’s really hard to tell from such a comment.

I believe this commenter, hiding behind the alias “Wynd”, doesn't really want to help me. If she did want to help me, she would have followed the rules of civil debate. She lobs ad hominem attacks at me, inaccurately claims to have intimate knowledge of my personal life, says that I don’t have experience, and intentionally ignores large portions of my post.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

How To Stay Emotionally Pure In Courtship

Okay, so you’ve been pure and now you are courting. What role does spiritual purity play in courtship? Most would agree you should still be physically pure, but should you still strive to be spiritually pure? I say, yes! This is because there is still a chance a courtship will not end in marriage, and should that happen, you still want to be free of baggage.

Whether or not you seek emotional intimacy in courtship, of course, depends heavily on your definition of courtship. When I refer to courtship, I am talking about a time to evaluate whether or not two people would make a good match for marriage; however, there shouldn’t be any pressure or expectation that the courtship MUST end in marriage. Even in a courtship, you should seek to remain faithful to your future spouse.

Courtship is discovering whether or not you have found your future spouse. Maybe you have found them, maybe you haven’t. Since there is a chance you haven’t, you can’t jump all in yet.  Your heart shouldn't be set on the presumption that you will marry this person, because the courtship could be stopped prior to marriage. You must still seek to be spiritually pure for your future spouse. If a courtship does not end in marriage, but those courting have both acted with purity, then the courtship is still a success.

That being said, it’s ideal to only have to court one person, so you still only want to court someone you strongly believe you should marry. But, you could still be wrong, so don’t think just because you are courting someone that you must marry them. All you are committing to in a courtship is to explore the possibility of marriage, and since this is as far as your level of commitment goes, you should not be emotionally or physically intimate in a way that requires more commitment.

But how can this be done? When you are pursuing the possibility of marrying someone, how can you possibly be spiritually/emotionally pure? How do the emotions not overwhelm you?

It is definitely possible, because Paul tells us it is (Phil. 4:8). How it’s done depends on how you go about a courtship, and it can be summed up in two guideposts.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Why I No Longer Talk Privately to Girls Online

With my series on “emotional” purity drawing to a close, I think it would be helpful to talk about some practical solutions to maintaining emotional purity. Part 3 of this series—a guest post by Emily Long—I think provided some good tips, but I’d like to go a little bit more in depth, and also provide a couple of my own tips.

I find it sad that many of the arguments I’ve seen leveled against Emily’s post from a couple weeks ago are arguments that I used to make myself. Yes! The beliefs held by many of these critics were beliefs I used to hold; however, it took several difficult experiences for me to finally realize the danger of communicating privately online with the opposite gender, and not striving to be emotionally pure.

However, these experiences aren’t unique to me. In fact, I know a guy who has very similar experiences. I will call him Sam, and he has given me permission to use his story for this post.

Sam had had very little interaction with girls until he joined an online forum full of other homeschooling Christians.  The forum happened to have a girl:guy ratio of 5:1, so by default, most of his friends were female. In the past, Sam had been rather standoffish toward girls, and he regretted that. The Bible spoke of treating each other as brothers and sisters in Christ, so that’s what he would try and do on this forum.

Because of the similarities he shared with so many on that forum, he developed some very close friendships. He became very close with a particular girl who was struggling with boyfriend problems, specifically, her boyfriend was cheating on her. Sam, feeling bad for this girl (Jane), sought to comfort her and provide advice, like any good friend would do. Like a brother helping a sister, right?  Jane told Sam how much she appreciated him and his advice, and how much like a brother he was. Sam’s father warned him that his conversations with Jane could potentially be leading her on, or could lead to her becoming emotionally attached to him. Sam didn’t think so. After all, Jane had a boyfriend, and no one could fall in love merely though conversations online…right? That’s ridiculous. Plus, Sam figured, girls had never shown much interested in him in the past. How could a girl like him? They were just friends. Just a brother and sister in Christ.

Wrong.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Fear Landscapes

If you've read Veronica Roth’s  “Divergent” then you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about when I mention “fear landscapes.” If you haven’t read the book, I’ll explain.

In the novel, those initiates who joined the “Dauntless” faction were forced to endure their individual fear landscape, a virtual reality simulation where they were exposed to their worst fears. To pass the test, they had to defeat their fears. Only the brave could join the Dauntless.

The Dauntless are a faction that pride themselves on bravery; however, they have a very warped understanding of it. For the Dauntless, bravery has come to mean engaging in dangerous and unnecessary challenges, such has jumping out of a moving train, or the idea that avoiding conflict makes you a coward. I think often times this an idea of courage that is perpetuated in our society as well—the idea that being brave means you have no fear, and participate in reckless activities.

This is not courage; this is stupidity. Courage is the quality of mind and spirit that enables you to act rightly in the face of uncertainty, difficulty, danger, pain, or fear. Courage is not the absence of uncertainly, difficulty, danger, pain, or fear…it’s doing good despite such terrors. The greater the danger, the greater the pain, the greater the fear, the greater the darkness…the greater the potential of courage!

Courage is something we are all capable of. It’s not reserved for just those few “brave” individuals.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Is Purity Finite? - Purity Part 6

Part 1: What Are Your Thoughts?
Part 2: What Is Emotional Purity? 
Part 3: The Struggle for Emotional Purity
Part 4: Is Emotional Purity Harmful?
Part 5: Is Emotional Purity Biblical?

Hold this bucket of water. It’s filled with your “purity”. Every time some water accidentally sloshes out, or you intentionally take some out, you can never get it back. Every bit of water you lose out of your bucket is purity that can never be reclaimed. You have a finite amount of water. I think this is how some people view purity, even those who have rejected the notion of being pure all together.

Often, we see purity portrayed as being finite. We all start out at full health, and as we go through life, whatever amount we lose, can never be reclaimed. There are no purity gas stations to refill. Every little bit of purity you lose from your bucket makes you just that much less pure.

Of course, this doesn’t just apply to the issue of impurity, but to many areas of sin. We feel that we all start out good and innocent, and as our sins accumulate, we become less and less capable and deserving of the good life God has in mind for us. Indeed, we soon can begin to believe that we don’t deserve anything good, or that we have “messed up” too many times to be redeemable. This is a lie that Satan plants in our heads, not God.

I’ve talked a lot about the goodness of purity throughout this series, but what if you haven’t always been the most pure? Well, then it’s possible you’re feeling one of two things after reading this series. Either you think what I’m saying is ridiculous and you find yourself wishing strongly that I am hit by a bus for saying such things, or perhaps you feel guilty, depressed, or without hope. It is not my desire for this series to result in either of these two outcomes.

For those who wish to see me bleeding on asphalt, I don’t think there is much I can say to you, except don’t get your hopes up. There aren’t too many buses around where I live. But for those who may be feeling a bit depressed or guilty from what I’ve said, don’t be! This post is for you.

Monday, September 1, 2014

What Makes You An Adult?

How do you know when you’re an adult? There seems to be a lot of confusion today. Is it simply when you reach a certain age? When you can support yourself with a job?  Get your own place?

If so, then why do so many “adults” who have these things still act like children? 

I’ve been listening to an awesome song lately by Mikky Ekko (along with its stellar remixes by The Chainsmokers  and Monsieur Adi). This song is called “Kids.” There is a line in the song that goes, “Kids, kids, kids are gunna do what they want.”

Well, if kids are going to do what they want…and an adult is the opposite of a kid, then according to Ekko, this must mean adults don’t do want they want.

That’s pretty depressing. To be an adult, I can’t do what I want. It’s also interesting that this is the exact opposite of what the culture is teaching. The culture tells us to “follow our hearts,” and therefore follow our desires. Do what we want. Be perpetual kids.

But is Mikky Ekko correct? Is the difference between kids and adults the fact that “kids are gunna do what they want,” and adults are not gunna do what they want? While perhaps over-simplified, I think this is true.