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Posts Tagged ‘lifestyle’

John Sommerville is the author of how the News Makes Us Dumb.  Before news became an industry, Sommerville writes, society was held together not by news but by its cultures.  People shared “fairly settled assumptions about what was reasonable, natural, expected or good.”  Scholars call this a culture’s metanarrative — a  narrative that “binds our thinking.”

The Bible provided this metanarrative for Western civilization.  Even nonbelievers were familiar with its stories and ways of structuring moral and social reality.  But the media — the news industry — changed that.  People in this industry generally disregard or blatantly defy the Judeo-Christian narrative.  They believe it’s their job to shape our thinking.  They are constantly raising questions that cause people to doubt Christianity or any cultural traditions grown out of Biblical thinking.  Chuck Colson, founder of Prison Fellowship Ministries, writes, “The result is that many people accept the idea that we should be constantly reevaluating what we believe and understand about the world — including our religious beliefs — but news stories cannot replace a culture’s metanarrative, because, by its very nature, the news gives priority to the shocking and the new.  It is a cycle of endless deconstruction.”

“The good news,” writes Colson, “is that Americans are recognizing that the ‘news’ is becoming a little more than vulgar entertainment, largely irrelevant to our lives.”

A good practice is to use the news for appropriate and limited purposes.  Sommerville offers this suggestion: “We should balance our bloated appetite for news with a cultural diet rich in books, reflection, and discussion.  And we should put the news through a mental metanarrative grid — asking ourselves if the ‘news’ being offered up reinforces our cultural story — and our views of Christianity — or tears it apart.”  Colson agrees.  “The news may make us dumb — but reading and discussing great books, especially the Bible, leads to the kinds of wisdom that brings real understanding.”

Appreciation to How Now Shall We Live Devotional
by Charles Colson, Tyndale House Publishers

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In my last post, I explained a partnership between the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN).

The CDC is giving a renewable grant to GLSEN, an activist organization that promotes the gay and lesbian lifestyle.  The gay and lesbian lifestyle is proven to be a high risk behavior and is harmful to people emotionally and physically.  Research the statistics for yourself.

The very unnatural practice of homosexuality (sodomy) causes infections; STDs such as syphilis, gonorrhea, and herpes; hepatitus A and B, anal cancer, and diseases such as HIV/AIDS.

So, why would an organization that exists to control diseases want to partner with an organization that promotes them?

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Is this life after The Pill?

Shirley Wang is the author of “The Tricky Chemistry of Attraction — Taking Birth-Control Pills May Mask the Signals That Draw the Sexes Together, Research Shows.”  (Wall Street Journal)

Rush Limbaugh’s program of May 10, 2011, featured “The Tricky Chemistry of Attraction.”  My husband happened to be listening.  I thank him for catching this… and sharing it with me.  Whatever  you may think of Rush Limbaugh, research is research.  The thing is, some of it gets shared… some of it stays hidden.  This research helps make sense of many choices, behaviors, and lifestyles that I’ve been watching or aware of as a post-pill woman.

“Much of the attraction between the sexes is chemistry.”  Not hard to swallow, eh?  Let’s continue.  “New studies suggest that when women use hormonal contraceptives, such as birth-control pills, it disrupts some of these chemical signals, affecting their attractiveness to men and women’s own preferences for romantic partners . . . Evolutionary psychologists and biologists have long been interested in factors that lead to people’s choice of mates.”

The article goes on.  “One influential study in the 1990s, dubbed the T-shirt study, asked women about their attraction to members of the opposite sex by smelling the men’s T-shirts.  The findings showed that humans, like many other animals, transmit and recognize information pertinent to sexual attraction through chemical odors knows as pheromones.”

Continuing, “The study also showed that women seemed to prefer the scents of men whose immune systems were most different from the women’s own immune system genes known as MHC . . . the family of genes permit a person’s body to recognize which bacteria are foreign invaders and to provide protection from those bugs.  Evolutionarily, scientists believe, children should be healthier if their parents’ MHC genes vary, because the offspring will be protected from more pathogens.  More than 92 million prescriptions for hormonal contraceptives, including pills, patches and injections, were filled last year in the U.S., according to data-tracker IMS Health.  Researchers say their aim isn’t to scare or stop women from taking hormonal contraceptives.  ‘We just want to know what we’re doing’ by taking the pill, says Alexandra Alvergne, a researcher in biological anthropology at University College London in the U.K.  ‘If there is a risk it affects our romantic life and the health status of our children, we want to know.’ ”

Wang, in her article, explains that, “Both men’s and women’s preferences in mates shift when a woman is ovulating” (most often day 14 of her cycle) . . . “Some studies have tracked women’s responses to photos of different men, while other studies have interviewed women about their feelings for men over several weeks.  Among the conclusions: When women are ovulating, then tend to be drawn to men with greater facial symmetry and more signals of masculinity, such as muscle tone, a more masculine voice and dominant behaviors . . . The women also seemed to be particularly attuned to MHC-gene diversity.  From an evolutionary perspective, these signals are supposed to indicate that men are more fertile and have better genes to confer to offspring.”  (Limbaugh comments here: “All of this happens in a split second.  It’s not something that’s calculated . . . but it does dictate behavior and choices . . . .”)

Wang’s article continues, “Women tend to exhibit subtle cues when they are ovulating, and men tend to find them more attractive at this time.  ‘Women try to look more attractive, perhaps by wearing tighter or more revealing clothing,’ says Martie Haselton, a communications and psychology professor at the University of California, Los Angeles.  Research on this includes studies in which photos that showed women’s clothing choices at different times of the month were shown to groups of judges.  Women also emit chemical signals that they are fertile; researchers have measured various body odors, says Dr. Haselton.  Such natural preferences get wiped out when the woman is on hormonal birth control, research has shown.”

But, “Women on the pill no longer experience a greater desire for traditionally masculine men during ovulation.  Their preference for partners who carry different immunities than they do also disappears.  And men no longer exhibit shifting interest for women based on their menstrual cycle, perhaps because those cues signaling ovulation are no longer present, scientists say.”

Also, “There is accumulating evidence indicating men react differently to women when they are on birth control.  A 2004 study in the journal on Behavioral Ecology used the T-shirt study.  But instead put the shirts on 81 women.  A panel of 31 men, smelling the T-shirts, experienced the greatest attraction for the non-pill-using women when they were ovulating.  Twelve women on the panel didn’t detect any difference.”  (Limbaugh comments: “Basically, if this is true, the natural selection process of a woman wanting a traditionally masculine guy when she’s ovulating goes out the window.  Nothing to do with sexual orientation here.  But this, for example, could give rise to this whole notion of the metrosexual [a man who likes to shop, is in tune with fashion and appearance], if this is true.  That’s why if all of this is true, then it changes everything we know about our lives since when the pill became profligate in 1970.)

Take it… or leave it.  Limbaugh concludes, “It’s fascinating.  Now, you couple all this with the obvious role changes that militant feminism brought on, and it could explain a lot about general unhappiness, confusion, who’s supposed to be what that both sexes seem to exhibit.”

And, finally, another thought on the impact of hormonal birth control and how it affects women and men: “When the pill was approved for use in the U.S. in 1960,” said Limbaugh, “the divorce rate was less than 10%.  Over the two decades that followed, divorce rates climbed to over 20%.  So maybe it’s harder to stick it out in a marriage if the power of attraction wanes, and if the attraction wanes because the chemicals aren’t there that make it possible, well, that would explain a lot, too.”

Fascinating, don’t you think?

Men… women… not the same.  Dare we say created to be different, yet attracted to one another as part of the design… for a purpose.  Life.  Generations to come.  Hmmm.

But, what happens when we tamper with the design?

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May 5, 2011, is National Day of Prayer.   Many people of many faiths will be praying for many things.

I won’t be praying that God make this a Christian nation.  But, I will be praying that followers of Jesus Christ:

  • Turn their heads away from deceptive philosophy and deceit (Colossians 2:8)
  • Encourage one another and build one another up (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
  • Train for godliness (1 Timothy 4:7-10)
  • Set an example in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity (1 Thessalonias 4:12)
  • Build our houses on the Rock (Matthew 7:24-27)
  • Bring little children to Jesus (Mark 10:14)
  • Love the Lord our God and our neighbors as ourselves (Mark 12:30-31)

If we who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ ask Him to help us live in ways that bring Him the glory, this country will be a better place.  A safer place.  Institutions of marriage and family, health, law, education, church, and government will be influenced for “the people’s good.”   

Generations will know the mercies of God.

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Your body, wrote Mary Wood-Allen, M.D., is not you.  It is your dwelling, but not you.  It does, however, express you.

She explains: A man builds a house and, through it, expresses himself.  As someone else looks at the house and then walks through it, they will learn a great deal about the man.  The outside will give evidence of neatness, orderliness, and artistry or it may show that he cares nothing for elements of beauty and neatness.  His library will reveal the character of his mind.  Care of his house — preservation of its health — speaks of respect and value.

The author of the book found among my grandmother’s treasures notes that  many young people just want to have a “good time.”  Dr. Allen wrote that she heard many young people remark that it’s o.k. for the “old folks” to take care of their bodies and health, but “I don’t want to be so fussy . . . I’d rather die ten years sooner and have some fun while I do live.”

But, what serious pianist would neglect the care of his piano because it’s too “fussy” and then add, “I’ll treat it more kindly when it’s old”?  Dr. Allen observed that, too often, we prize the body far more after its use for us is at an end than while it is ours to use.   We don’t neglect the dead; we dress them in beautiful garments, we adorn them with flowers, we follow them to the grave with religious ceremonies, we build costly monuments to place over their graves, and then we go to weep over their last resting-place.”  I wonder: Do we treat our living, breathing bodies with such respect?  Do we treat the living, breathing bodies of others with such care?

There are those among us who consider themselves “progressive.”  A “progressive” would find no value in “going back” to a book from their grandmother’s collection.  But, in reading What A Young Woman Ought to Know by a woman physician published in 1898, I am more deeply committed to the Titus 2 style of mentoring.  Yes, there are trends.  There are new styles.  Technology changes, even improves.   But, care of our bodies is a truth that does not change with time.  What we do to and with our bodies, what we put in them, how we dress them, what environment we allow them to be in, and how we expect others to treat them matters today as much as it did yesterday.

Does it matter how we treat our bodies?  The answer to that question depends on what we believe about our origin.  Are we here by chance, just accidents of nature?  Or, are we “knit together in our mother’s wombs” by God Himself (Psalm 139)?  Is the value of our bodies determined by how we or others see them, or by the price that Jesus Christ paid for them?

Dr. Allen asks:

Is it not life that we should value?  Life here and hereafter, not death, is the real thing for which we should prepare . . . Life should increase in beauty and usefulness, in ability and joyousness, as the years bring us a wider experience, and this will be the case if we in youth have been wise enough to lay the foundation of health by a wise, thoughtful, prudent care of our bodies and our minds.

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This nation is slipping.  Morally.  Ethically.  Spiritually.  Silent Christians have a lot to do with it.  But, so do Christians who are mingling with the world.

Andree Seu, writing in WORLD (11-6-10), paraphrases comments made to her by Virginia Rep. Frank Wolf.  With both hands about shoulder-level, roughly 12-inches apart, Rep Wolf explained to Seu that we have “the church” here and “the other world” here.  He posited that this is always a constant distance of separation.  Seu writes,

“Where the thing gets scary, explained Wolf, is that as the world moves toward greater immorality, the church continues to keep the same distance from it.  That is to say, the church is sliding into debauchery along with the world, just at a slower rate.  What is important to note is that this slippage from God is not so easily detected because the gap between church and world remains the same, and so we seem, to ourselves, to be doing OK.”

In the first session of my Titus 2 Retreat, “We Are Vulnerable,” I ask the group to give examples of “silly myths” that lead to “social experiments.”  Believing “silly myths” (i.e. abortion is a woman’s right or two women who love each other should be able to marry) inevitably leads to social experimentation.  Such experimentation is actually tampering with God’s design.  This is never good for a people who want to imagine beyond themselves to new generations.  God’s design brings order and new life.  Experimenting with His design brings chaos and death.

We are vulnerable, I explain during a Titus 2 Retreat, when we profess Jesus Christ as our Lord but wrap Him around silly myths and social experiments.   There is a saying: “We become like the company we keep.”  We become like the world — even though we think we’re keeping a distance — when we begin to mingle (just a little here or a little there).  When we let worldly ideas of spirituality, worship, the roles of men and women, marriage, family, and children weave into Christianity, we’re in trouble.  Truth does not embrace or wrap around worldly ideas.  Truth and the world are opposites.  A lesson from history gives some clarity.

In the Old Testament book of Ezra, we learn that the king of Persia was going to allow the Jewish people to return to Jerusalem.  They had been exiles and captives for a long time.  It’s important to note that only a small number of Jewish exiles wanted to return to their homeland.  Most were unwilling to give up their Babylonian property or lifestyle to go back to their old ways.  So, because there was such a small group of workers, the rebuilding of Jerusalem became more difficult.  There were people in the area who offered their help.  Those people didn’t believe in God and held to a blend of mixed religious beliefs.  It goes without saying that they had motives of their own.  The Jewish people refused the offer of help with their building project.  Why?  1) The task was given exclusively to God’s people; 2) accepting help from non-believers would obligate God’s people to pagan ways; and 3) the potential for corruption in worship was too great if God’s people became aligned with non-believers.  (Ezra 4:3)

A Christian, wanting to be progressive, might think: If I embrace the best parts of a worldly idea, I will be able to move forward the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a modern way.  But, too often, moral-influence flows the opposite direction.  God knows that.  Therefore, He says: Don’t mingle; dig in.  Dig in to the One Who is not of this world (John 18:36).  Jesus says, “I am the Light.” The world is dark (John 1:4-5).  “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).  The world is deceptive and leads to death (John 10:10).  “My peace I give you.” The world offers no such peace.  (John 14:27)  For this reason, St. Paul was inspired to write in Romans 12:2:

Do not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Don’t mingle.  Dig in.

To mingle with the world is to walk on shifting sand.  For awhile, public opinion might lean one way; then, depending upon anything from the economy to a national crisis, public opinion can suddenly shift the opposite direction.  Andree Seu explains that there is “a little thing called the ‘Overton Window.’  It is the term for an insight by a Joseph P. Overton that at any given point in the stream of a population’s public life there is a ‘window’ that contains or frames a range of opinion that is currently acceptable.  Outside that window lie the ideas considered wacko.  The intriguing thing is that what is ‘acceptable’ and what is ‘wacko’ can (and does) shift.  The window itself moves — and clever and diabolical forces have an interest in moving it.”

What was “radical” yesterday is “acceptable” today.  The unthinkable, notes Andree Seu, can go from “popular” to “policy.”  Remember.  Ideas like abortion, homosexual “marriage,” and euthanasia used to lurk in the shadows of the American landscape.  Not anymore.

I’m an ezer woman who lives in a culture where “evil” is called “good.”  For this reason, I’m compelled to dig heels into the foundation of God’s Word but, at the same time, push forward with weapons of truth.  As ideas and behaviors spiral downward, the one who follows Jesus is called to be intentionally polite.  Kind.  Pure.  This will irritate some and be seen as naive by others.  But, for a neighbor caught momentarily in darkness, the light may shine more brightly.  The Word of Truth, kindly spoken, pulls from shifting sand to solid ground.

There is a model for those who no longer want to mingle but, instead, dig in.  Curious?  I invite you to explore Titus 2 for Life.

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The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America first used Galatians 3:28 to support the ordination of women and, most recently, practicing homosexuals.  The verse reads:

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

It is vital to understand that this passage flows out of a discussion contrasting faith with works.  As sinners, we are incapable of keeping God’s Law.  But, because of what Jesus Christ has done, the believer is declared righteous.  Martin Luther wrote, “Christ Himself is our garment . . . the garment of our righteousness and salvation.”  Putting on this garment in no way ignores or diminishes God’s created order of male and then female or the uniquely different calling (vocation) that goes with them.

Our maleness or femaleness matters not when it comes to salvation, but it matters a whole lot when it comes to choices, roles, and the way we glorify God and His created order.

What can we do?  I excitedly recommend ordering your own copy of the ESV Lutheran Study Bible from CPH.  This Bible (with Greek/Hebrew and theological commentary) prepares us to better discuss social issues of the present day with faithfulness to God’s Word.

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