If you are like me, trying to lead your family well, then on occasion questions arise about certain “religious practices.” Every year about this time I wonder why so many Protestants begin to practice Lent. Lent clutters the pages of Twitter, Facebook, and blogs. At first, I get frustrated…am I the only Protestant left in the room? Then, I feel guilty thinking they are more spiritual than I. If you have ever had these feeling, then this post is for you.
I am trying to write this in a positive manner because no one likes the guy who is against everything. So instead of being against Lent, I write on why I have freedom from Lent. You could call it a “guilt free Lent trap.”
First things first…what is Lent? Lent is a 40 day time of penitence and prayer from Ash Wednesday until Easter. It became forty days in the seventh century to coincide with Christ fasting 40 days in the desert. For devout Catholics, it involves penitential works like abstinence, fasting, prayer and charitable works.
So why would I want to avoid it then? Well here is why.
1. I am protestant and not Catholic. Okay, I know this sounds snarky, but it’s true. There are differences—big ones. Protestants believe in the Bible as the only authoritative source. I have no obligation to obey the Pope or Roman Catholic Church tradition. No need to re-open the door that Luther nailed the 95 theses to. I do not believe that tradition equals Scripture, and I have freedom from following the sacraments to earn my own salvation because salvation comes only by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. My hope rests not in works but in justification through the substitutionary atonement of Jesus. Continue reading
In order to test our theory that studying Systematic Theology will help us know God better, let’s take a look at the doctrine of the Trinity.
The word “Trinity” cannot be found in the Bible but is a concept that many other religions critique, debate, and deny. Should we simply take it out as a stumbling block to others or is the Trinity essential to the faith? Most people have only heard an occasional sermon that mentions the Trinity at any length and rarely has the average church attender studied the Trinity at great depth. But a thorough systematic study of the entire Bible reveals that the doctrine of the Trinity rests on a rock-solid foundation. The doctrine of the Trinity emerges from a plain reading of the Bible and forms an essential element of the Christian faith. Systematic Theology helps us look at what the whole of Scripture says about the Trinity.
You would start in the Old Testament with hints like the plural pronouns:
Gen. 1:26, “Let Us make man in Our image after Our likeness” or Isaiah 6:8, “”Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Both of these verses use the first person plural (Our and Us). [See also Gen 3:22, 11:7 and many other verses] Continue reading
A New York Times opinion piece says we need family friendly work laws for true gender equality. But equality in essence doesn’t necessitate equality in function.
Stephanie Coontz in her opinion editorial, “Why Gender Equality Stalled,” contends that long hours hinder dual income households resulting in role distinction. These laws have stalled the feminist movement as pragmatism forces more women to adopt historic roles.
She cited a 2010 Pew Poll which showed that “72 percent of both women and men between 18 and 29 agreed that the best marriage is one in which husband and wife both work and both take care of the house.”
If true, then both parents want to work in over 70% of all households. Does this show a shift toward true “equality” of function among the genders? Perhaps, but perhaps it just shows that we find our worth more in what we do than who we are.
A quote from psychologists Philip and Carolyn Cowan certainly gives that implication as they contend that traditional roles create tension in marriages. Look at why though…
The woman resents that she is not getting the shared child care she expected and envies her husband’s social networks outside the home. The husband feels hurt that his wife isn’t more grateful for the sacrifices he is making by working more hours so she can stay home.
Society determines worth in what you do rather than who you are. True lasting worth comes from being created in the image of God. It doesn’t matter whether we hold high power jobs or stay at home equality of worth comes from our Creator. Continue reading
It’s plain and simple human nature—if it hurts us then we stop doing it.
I remember as a little boy placing my hand firmly on top of a hot stove. I quickly removed it. You didn’t have to tell me twice. It hurt.
The problem comes when an action has long-term negative consequences but short-term pleasure. We no longer act rationally. No one starts drinking with the intention of becoming an alcoholic. No one starts gambling thinking I will become addicted, lose all my money and not be able to pay my bills.
Think about extramarital sex. In the olden days, it came with the consequences of pregnancy. Through technology and the sexual revolution of feminism we have removed the consequences or at least we think we have. Clinics provide abortions all across the nation while public schools distribute the morning after pill. (For more on the increasing use of the morning after pill check out Evan Lenow’s blog.)
But we haven’t told our kids about all the consequences—emotion and physical. Abortions leave one dead and one wounded. Extramarital sex (and pornography) leaves emotional scars that affect intimacy in marriage for years to come. Men begin to view women as an object for pleasure rather than a partner for life, and once the pleasure ceases, then those men throw them away like an old pair of tennis shoes.
But consequences exist and they go beyond the emotional too. A recent story on NBC titled “’Ongoing, severe epidemic’ of STDs in US” demonstrates the rise of STDs.
20 million new incidents of infection arose in 2008 for a total of 110 million infections in the United States according to the CDC. These STDs costs the US nearly $16 billion in estimated direct medical costs.
So what is the secular solution? Matthew Golden, the director of Public Health Seattle and King County HIV/STD Program and a professor of medicine at the University of Washington Center for AIDS and STD wants to remove the consequence instead of addressing the root problem.
But, Golden argued, ‘we have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory’ by not pursuing effective strategies, such as school-based universal access to the HPV vaccine. Continue reading
I heard a falling sound with a couple of bumps followed by a loud thud. My thoughts raced as to what the sound could be. I jumped off the couch and rushed to the bedroom where my mom and dad were sleeping during their weekend visit. As I went in, I saw my mom, passed out, teeth clinched, arms extended—a sight no son ever wants to see.
We went to the emergency room that Sunday night. My mom had ups and downs as one test after another revealed nothing conclusive. Over the course of the next three days we discovered a problem similar to diverticulitis, which stopped on its own, and she recovered. Many times during the struggles of life, we look at God with a “why us” attitude, but during these few days, I have been thankful to God for his grace which has been clearly evident amidst this trial.
First, I am thankful for God’s grace that it happened at my house in Texas rather than South Carolina. This is partially just plain selfish, but it would have been much harder not knowing and not being around. I had several good, although long, nights with my mom in the hospital. I will cherish that time forever, and I am thankful to God that I could serve her in some small way.
I fear that with such good hospitals, nursing homes, and memory care facilities, we miss opportunities to return a portion of the care that our parents demonstrated for us as children. I also believe that discussing and contemplating our own mortality helps us live with a true eternal perspective. Having the right eternal perspective combats materials, encourages spiritual productivity, and focuses our thoughts towards our own mortality. I am thankful to God for the opportunity to refocus my own priorities even if the environment may have been less than ideal. Continue reading