Father Hunger – Review

Father Hunger: Why God Calls Men to Love and Lead Their FamiliesFather Hunger: Why God Calls Men to Love and Lead Their Families by Douglas Wilson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This should be required reading for all fathers, or for those who desire to be fathers. Leaders in every walk of life (especially pastors and teachers) will also profit from Wilson’s shrewd insights into Scripture, society, economics, politics, and the practical mechanics of family life. Wilson’s message on the importance of fathers may not be popular, but the evidence of a growing problem is undeniable. A disturbing number of our children are growing up without fathers, or with fathers who are “absent.”  Even worse is the father who comes home every night to his family, but ignores them. This book kicked my lazy rear in this regard, but also gave pastoral encouragement to stop abdicating and to lay my life down for my children.

At this point, a little disclosure is in order–Wilson was my teacher in college and a mentor to all of us. I also had the privilege of volunteering briefly at the coffee and bookshop run by his father, Jim Wilson. So I have seen the effects of faithful fathering in Wilson’s own family. I mention this simply because some people read Wilson’s material and react sharply to his sarcasm and his strident approach. There is no doubt that Wilson holds his beliefs firmly and argues passionately for his convictions, but I wish sometimes that readers could see the twinkle in his eyes and hear his laughter, even as he says some things that sound outlandish to our postmodern ears.

Especially interesting is the research included in the Appendix. It is done by the firm, Economic Modeling Specialists, and shows the monetary damage done to our national economy by cycles of “delinquent fathers.”

But the point of the book is not to blame “the liberals,” or the “lazy poor.” Wilson identifies the problem as sin, which equally afflicts rich and poor, liberal or conservative. No one can deny the importance of fathers in the lives of their children, and readers should apply the lessons of this book to themselves first. After they’ve focused on being fully present in the lives of their own children, perhaps they can think then about giving the book to their neighbors (Matt. 7:3).

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(Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”)

Fathers, We Need to Step Into our Role

Father_Hunger

Doug Wilson’s new book, Father Hunger, packs a large punch.  I feel two strange sensations at the same time–I feel like someone just hit me in stomach and knocked the wind out of me, and I also feel someone’s strong hand on my shoulder, preventing me from falling over completely.  After 9 years of fatherhood and four kids later, I’ve made my share of mistakes.  I’m glad I got this book now, rather than when I am 50.  By the grace of God, I hope its wisdom can motivate me to do more, and rely more on the grace of God.  I’ll be posting some highlights for a while …

“The role of a father as a provider and protector is not an arbitrary assignment given to an arbitrarily selected group, regardless of any other consideration.  Here is the mandate given to Adam (Gen. 2:15)–God wants men both to work and to protect.  Work has to do with nurture and cultivation, while protection refers to a man’s duty to be a fortress for his family.  We find a working definition of masculinity in the first few pages of the Bible.

When men take their responsibilities to nurture and cultivate, and to protect and guard the fruit of that nurture and cultivation, they are doing something that resonates with their foundational, creational nature.  When they walk away from these responsibilities, in a very real sense they are–don’t miss this–walking away from their assigned masculine identity” (8-9).

Homosexuality in the Church

Turning Controversy into Church MinistryTurning Controversy into Church Ministry by William Campbell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

“Considering the fact homosexuality is evident in all aspects of American life, we shouldn’t be surprised at the number of Christians who deal with it as well. What is surprising is the lack of assistance available to such Christians, in spite of the growth experienced by the few ministries that do offer help.” (Joe Dallas, Desires in Conflict: Hope for Men Who Struggle with Sexual Identity, 24).

W.P. Campbell’s new book, Turning Controversy in Church Ministry, will help fill the gap Joe Dallas describes. Campbell is a pastor in the PCUSA (Presbyterian Church, USA), which has become more and more liberal in its acceptance of gays. (This is the denomination I spent my teen years in, and I remember hearing about the first heated debates about this in the 90s.) Campbell has been an active participant in these growing pains, and I respect his attempt to really understand what pro-gay theologians and activists have said.

Since he has obviously put in time researching this issue, and since he actually ministers to homosexuals, it lends enormous credibility to his position. He disagrees with the conclusions of pro-gay theology, and he believes that homosexuality behavior is a sin. But, that does not stop him from exhorting all churches to welcome, and minister to, the sexually broken.

I found his treatment of “sexual brokenness” to be especially helpful. We are all sexually broken, or messed up. Some of us are broken heterosexually, and some of us are broken homosexually. Christ came to heal our brokenness, not condemn us as hopeless perverts. Campbell makes the interesting point that the gay community is often called “the family.” It’s no coincidence that many people turn to homosexuality because they find a love there they never had in their own families. Sadly, they probably never felt this love in their churches, either. We need to focus on really, truly, loving others in our churches. We need to be honest about our own sexual struggles. Hopefully, that will create a culture of transparency, where those struggling with same-sex attraction will feel safe to open up and talk about their struggles.

Campbell has lots of wisdom and practical advice to offer in this book. I highly recommend it for all pastors, leaders in churches, teachers in Christian schools, and anyone who knows someone who is gay. Given the way our culture is deteriorating, you may be surprised at how many gay people you know, or how many people might be secretly struggling with same-sex attraction in your church, school, or family.

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Sometimes I’m not proud to be Swedish …

Normally, I revel in the fact that my ancestors worn horned hats, swung battle-axes, drank lots of mead, and carried their boats overland to the Black Sea to raid Russia.  But, given how socialist and totalitarian Sweden is becoming, I’m rather ashamed of my heritage right now.

It seems that the Swedish government is out to abolish religious instruction and homeschooling

From the article: “Regimes that have banned home schooling in the past include the National Socialists (Nazis) in Germany, since Hitler feared it could lead to “parallel societies,” and the Soviet communist dictatorship, where government was the sole arbiter of what children would learn. “

Questions on Homosexuality

Here are some questions a former student (now in college) sent me, to help him write a paper.

1. What do you think about the homosexual lifestyle in general?

As Christians, we must always submit our views to Scripture, as interpreted by the Church throughout history.  I’m sure you don’t need me to quote Bible verses, but here are some for quick references which clearly show that homosexuality is not God’s plan (Lev. 18:22; Gen. 18-19; Jude 6-7; Rom. 1:18-32; 1 Cor. 6:9-10). 

2. As a teacher at a very conservative and traditional Christian school, what do you think about Liberal education(teaching complexity, diversity, and change)?

We’d have to more clearly define “liberal” if I were to give a complete answer.   But, here’s an imprecise answer, anyway.  Christians believe in “complexity, diversity, and change”–God is complex, His Word is complex, we are complex.  God is One God in Three Persons (Diversity!).  God “changes” us through Christ.  We are continually changing to be more and more like Him.  Christians can accept all the good things that liberalism is striving for (provided it is really “good”!) 

What’s more, I can’t help pointing out that liberalism can’t live up to its own ideals.  The central belief of liberalism (I’m using the term quite loosely here, I know), as opposed to conservatism is TOLERANCE.  But, liberals have a double standard here.  They preach tolerance, they enforce tolerance, and they punish anyone who doesn’t agree with their version of truth.  Because conservatives do not coform to the liberals’ view of what truth is, liberals do not tolerate conservatives.  Liberals are really quite intolerant people, if you look at it from the other side.  So, we’re all going to be intolerant of some things.  It’s not a question of whether we will be intolerant, but of which things/behaviors/actions we are not going to tolerate! 

But, I also don’t like most conservatives either–they’re just trying to “conserve” things (like “traditional morality” or “traditional marriage”) without any firm foundation to base it on.  So I think both liberals and conservatives have missed important truths, that only truly Biblical Christianity can provide a basis for.

3. Where do you see homosexuality in the future? Legalized marriage? Adoption rights etc.

I actually think homosexuality will become more and more common.  I think this because (1) the factors which tend to cause homosexuality are increasing (like broken families, child abuse, and unhealthy parenting), (2) the militant liberals of our country are pushing (and suceeding) in implementing educational curricula that teach the acceptabilty of homosexuality from the earliest ages (I’m sure you can find all sorts of juicy material on Obama’s “education czar,” and other evidence of the agenda which is being pushed in the public school system.

Yes, I think gay marriage will become legalized eventually in our country (unless our country changes dramatically!).  But, I have a somewhat radical view on this–I don’t think the government should be this involved in marriage in the first placeGod defines what marriage is.  Marriage is a covenantal reality which is solmenized by the Church.  Perhaps a representative of the government should be at a wedding, but I’m more of a libertarian on the role of the government–scale it way, way back!!!

4. What is your response when or if you have seen a gay couple holding hands or kissing etc.?

When I first saw this sort of thing in public, I was a bit shocked, just like when I first saw really gory death scenes in movies.  Now, after knowing people who struggle with same-sex attraction, I feel more pity and sadness than anything (though I admit when I first saw these behaviors, I was a bit repulsed by it.)  But, now that I realize what tragic histories many homosexuals have, I hope I have more of the compassion of Christ, rather than the self-righteous indignation of the Pharisee.

5. What do you think the cause of homosexuality is in terms of Christian views and biblical teachings?

I believe the cause of all disorders is sin.  How’s that for a simplistic answer! 🙂  First, I think we need to approach the issue with love and humility.  We are all sinners.  We are all inclined to disobey God’s will, and turn away from his perfect plan.  God clearly created a Man for a Woman.  This is seen not only in Genesis, but also in the most basic design of our body parts.  When homosexuals turn away from God’s plan for sex, they still end up copying it in some respect (or they do bizarre and strange things, instead).

Back to the question about liberals and how they celebrate “change” and “diversity”–what’s diverse about homosexuality?  The Greek (had to bring that in!) behind the word means, “same sex”.  This isn’t diversity, this is boring sameness.  God’s original design is incredibly diverse and complex!  My wife is just plain different, not to mention complex!  I will spend the rest of my life trying to figure her out, and I look forward to this exciting journey. Homosexuals usually mimic this God-designed pattern (with one of the pair acting more “male” and one more “female”). 

The books I’m reading, point out obvious flaws with the studies that claim to have found a genetic cause for homosexuality.  They even quote from some of the scientists involved in these studies (as well as studies that claim to have found biological causes or traits–differences within the ears, longer fingers, etc.)  Even if science conclusively proves that all homosexuals have some gene which disposes them to same-sex attraction, what does this prove?  Alcoholics may be genetically predisposed to alcoholism!  Rapists might be genetically predisposed to rape!  What if they find a genetic cause for pedophilia???  My genes predispose me to lust after every hot babe I see–does this mean I should just do what my genes (or my hormones) are urging me to do?  Plenty of homosexuals have turned away from a homosexual lifestyle.  There are even secular therapists who will do what they call “reparative therapy” for homosexuals who don’t want to be homosexual. 

Some homosexuals themselves don’t like the gene theory.  Anne Paulk writes:  “Consider this recent [not so recent!] quote from Peter Tatchell of the gay rights organization Outrage!: ‘I’m amazed that it’s taken this long to destroy what is obviously a totally implausible theory.  It is a choice and we should be glad that it’s that way and celebrate it for ourselves.'” (the footnote cites, John Arlidge, “No Tears for Passing of ‘Gay Gene,'” The Observer [April 25, 1999].)

People are complex beings!  We will probably never know what “causes” homosexuality.  However, it is is interesting that (at least for lesbians) many of them have abusive backgrounds, parents who did not have a healthy marriage, or some trauma in their life (death in family, or adoption at a later age).  We are all broken by sin.  We all have an emptiness that only God can fill.  Some of us choose to try and fill it with Playboy Bunnies, lots of girlfriends, or lots of guyfriends.  Some of us try to fill it with drugs or alcohol.  But, this only numbs the pain.  Only when we turn to Christ, and repent of trying to replace Him with the things He has made, only then can we truly enjoy the good gifts He wants to give us (like alcohol or sex).  [Of course, someone could also try to replace Christ with an idolatrous love of their wife/husband, kids, car, or whatever.  But, that’s another topic …]

6. Anything else you would like to add or tell me about with this issue?

I’m glad you’re taking the time to think through these things, and I’m humbled that you think my opinion is worth asking 🙂  Here are the books I’ve been reading on this subject lately:

Exodus International – a good web-site

Joe Dallas (a former homosexual) – When Homosexuality Hits Home

Joe Dallas – Desires in Conflict

Anne Paulk (a former lesbian) – Restoring Sexual Identity

Janelle Hallman – The Heart of Female Same-Sex Attraction 

In Christ,

GS

Quotes for Sean (stationed in Iraq) #2

Excerpts from … George Swinnock (a Puritan) – The Christian Man’s Calling

Addressing heads of Christian households on their Biblical duties:

“Thy house should be a lesser heaven …” (351).

“The holy performances [worship] of families that live in love, are heaven’s music; but brawlings in houses make prayers ungrateful, and have too much resemblance of the bellowings in hell” (351).

“If Christ sentences men to hell for not visiting sick and imprisoned bodies, for not feeding hungry bodies, what sentence will he pass on thee for not visiting those souls committed to thy charge, which were imprisoned by the devil, and sick unto death, and for not giving them the bread of life, but suffering them to starve and die?” (355).

“I wish that there may be a church in my house, and all the persons in it, both morning and evening at least, employed in those holy performances which my God requireth.  My house should be a resemblance of heaven above” (359).

“It is the honour and happiness of my house to exalt the worship of God in it.  His service is the greatest freedom, his work is a reward to itself; why should we be our own enemies in banishing our best friends out of our family?” (359)

“Though others labour to leave their children rich, let my endeavour be to leave mine religious” (360).

“I wish that I may manifest my love to the souls in my family by manifesting my anger against their sins” (361).

“Lord, let me never be so fond and foolish as to kill any in my family with soul-damning kindness; but let my house be as thine ark, wherein there may be not only the golden pot of manna, seasonable and profitable instructions, but also Aaron’s rod, suitable and proper reprehension and correction” (361).

(All quotes from The Works of George Swinnock, vol. 1.)

Quotes for Sean (stationed in Iraq)

Sean, a friend of ours from church, is stationed in Iraq for a year-long deployment. He asked me to write to him, to help him keep his sanity. He asked for anything I found helpful in my reading. Maybe others will find them helpful too …

Excerpts from … George Swinnock (a Puritan) – The Christian Man’s Calling

“Every master of a family is a priest, and his whole family should be a royal priesthood offering at least morning and evening sacrifice to God, acceptable through Jesus Christ” (337).

“A foundation well laid by the master of a family is a great help to the minister when he goeth to rear and raise the building” (337).

“If children and servants were accustomed to religious exercises at home, sermons would not be so tedious nor Sabbaths so tiresome as they are” (338).

“Prayer and praise are like the double motion of the lungs; what we suck in by petition we breathe out in thanksgiving, and without this, religion cannot live in a family” (338).

In urging fathers to read the Word of God to their families, Swinnock writes: “The weeds of sin grow of themselves; but the ground must be ploughed, and sown, and harrowed, and watered, before good corn will spring up” (340).

“Oh, how few Abrahams are there in England [or America]!  Many teach their families the works of the devil, but few teach them the way of the Lord; many lop their trees, prune their plants, break their horses, train their hawks, yea, teach their dogs, yet never instruct their children” (340).

“Our tongues are called our glory, not only because by our speech we excel beasts, but chiefly because therewith we should glorify God” (341).

“Set a good pattern [of life] to thy family … Precepts teach, but examples draw” (342).

“He that ruleth others must not others, must not be unruly himself” (343).

“Plutarch observeth of Cato that he was very wary not to speak an uncomely word in the presence of his children.  This heathen will condemn many Christians, who will curse and swear, and drink and roar, and that in the presence of their children.  Reader, avoid sin, both for thine own and others’ sake.  As a stone thrown intot he water makes but one circle at first, but that one begetteth many; so though the sin in thee at first be but one, yet it may cause many both in thy children and servants” (343).

“He that would reprove others’ dimness, and make them shine brightly with the light of holiness, had need to be irreprovable himself” (345).

Speaking of discipline – “Let thy reproofs against sin be mingled with, and so managed that they may manifest, love to their souls … Though thy words should be soft, yet thine arguments should be hard against the sin committed.  To this end let thy reproofs be as near as may be in Scripture phrases, that the offender may see it is not so much man as God, who rebuketh him for his fault” (348).

“We perpetrate those sins which we may and do not prevent; we shall answer one day for sins of communion as well as for sins of commission” (348).

(All quotes from The Works of George Swinnock, vol. 1.)