Massachusetts forces schools to let ‘transgender’ boys use girls’ restrooms, lockers

Our current Western culture is obsessed with tolerance.  Tolerance is, at best, a word that points to people tolerating traits, characteristics, and belief sets, about others.  At worst, there is no objective framework for how far to tolerate.  Obviously, tolerance is great when practiced toward the things that make our country great, but it seems this word—tolerance—is being applied to everything these days.

Most recently, and hilariously sickening, tolerance has been applied to K-12 public schools in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts Commissioner of Education Mitchell Chester has issued orders to the state’s K-12 public schools requiring them to permit “transgender” boys and girls to use the opposite sex’s locker rooms, bathrooms, and changing facilities as long as they claim to identify with that gender.

Many elementary schools in smaller Massachusetts towns include children from kindergarten through eighth grade, making it possible for boys as old as 14 to share toilet facilities with girls as young as five.

First of all, this is absurd.  Secondly, a 14-year-old boy with a five-year old girl in the same bathroom?  I absolutely cannot believe this is real.  It seems like something that is science fiction, or something that would take place in a Wayans Brothers film.  However, the absurdity doesn’t stop there.

“The responsibility for determining a student’s gender identity rests with the student,” the statement says. “A school should accept a student’s assertion of his or her gender identity when there is … ‘evidence that the gender-related identity is sincerely held as part of a person’s core identity.’” That evidence, according to the document, can be as simple as a statement given by a friend.

That means, according to the newly issued school policies, that boys who say they identify as girls must be addressed by the feminine pronoun and be listed as girls on official transcripts.

They must also be allowed access to girls’ facilities and be allowed to play on girls’ athletic and club teams. The same is true for girls who say they are boys.

Obviously, I am a proponent of a real God who creates real people with real gender identities… all for his glory.  However, if this happened when I was in high school, I know two things that would have happened:

1) I would have been the best “girls” basketball player in the nation.

2) I would have been the first guy to “sign up verbally” to hang out in the girls locker room.

A Closer Look at Louie Giglio’s Comments

Pastor-Louie-Gigliox400Atlanta pastor, Louie Giglio, withdrew today from giving the benediction at President Obama’s second inaugural ceremony.  Giglio, one of America’s most influential pastors, has given his life to reaching the next generation and to ending human trafficking.  What’s more, the evangelical blogosphere has been blowing up with his removal today, but only Al Mohler, from what I’ve seen so far, has brought clarification to Giglio’s comments when he withdrew.

Mohler states,

Two other dimensions of this story also demand attention. First, we should note that Louie Giglio has not been known lately for taking any stand on the issue of homosexuality. To the contrary, Giglio’s own statement withdrawing from the invitation made this clear:

“Due to a message of mine that has surfaced from 15-20 years ago, it is likely that my participation, and the prayer I would offer, will be dwarfed by those seeking to make their agenda the focal point of the inauguration. Clearly, speaking on this issue has not been in the range of my priorities in the past fifteen years. Instead, my aim has been to call people to ultimate significance as we make much of Jesus Christ.”

A fair-minded reading of that statement indicates that Pastor Giglio has strategically avoided any confrontation with the issue of homosexuality for at least fifteen years. The issue “has not been in the range of my priorities,” he said. Given the Bible’s insistance that sexual morality is inseparable from our “ultimate significance as we make much of Jesus Christ,” this must have been a difficult strategy. It is also a strategy that is very attractive to those who want to avoid being castigated as intolerant or homophobic. As this controversy makes abundantly clear, it is a failed strategy. Louie Giglio was cast out of the circle of the acceptable simply because a liberal watchdog group found one sermon he preached almost twenty years ago. If a preacher has ever taken a stand on biblical conviction, he risks being exposed decades after the fact. Anyone who teaches at any time, to any degree, that homosexual behavior is a sin is now to be cast out.

Sexual morality is inseparable from our “ultimate significance as we make much of Jesus Christ.”  If you preach the true gospel today, then you are at odds with the current administration and have been castigated with likes of Giglio… even if you try to strategically avoid it.

Read the rest of Mohler’s article.

 

Things You Should Never Say (or do) on Facebook

For the past 2 nights, I have not been able to fall asleep until well after 2am.  This is strange to me, because for the last 3-or-so-months, I have been enjoying my pillow by at least 9pm every night.  4:45am alarm clock noises just suck.  And I get to experience the suck 5 days a week right now.  So, because I haven’t been able to sleep, I have found myself “wondering” the halls, or walls, of Facebook WAY MORE than I should be.

One thing that stood out to me last night as I colored the walls of Facebook was the mere stupidity of Facebook statuses, pictures, and posts.  I was continually baffled by what I read.  And it’s not just the middle school girl’s Facebook statuses that I lead in my student ministry; it’s adults.  Which is worse.  Way worse.  I am “figuratively” blown away every time I click “sign in.”

So, without further ado, here is my Top 10 list of Things You Should Never Say (or do) on Facebook.  DISCLAIMER:  This post is intended to poke fun and laugh only.  It is not a passive aggressive outcry in my own right against a few people.

You should never post…

10.  Weird, public apologies that are really only a means to prove a point.  EXAMPLE:  I want to say sorry to all the people out there who say they don’t trust me even though I haven’t done anything to lose their trust.

9.  Play-by-plays of your “social outing.”  EXAMPLE:  I went to the corn maze tonight.  It was awesome.  I fell at the beginning.  But it didn’t hurt.  I got up and kept going.  I coughed.  Snot came out…

8.  Statuses that talk about people without using their name.  EXAMPLE:  This co-worker of mine is SOOO ANNOYING.  I can’t believe she still exists.

7.  Your entire day.  EXAMPLE:  This morning, I woke up… (and then continue for an entire paragraph…or two).

6.  Gibberish posts.  EXAMPLE:  Luv Mt Du l8 at nt wen ery1s gon but me. Im awsom.

5.  Every time you get a head-ache or stomach-ache.  EXAMPLE: I had a headache, now I don’t.

4.  Pictures you take of yourself.  If you don’t have enough friends who can take pictures of you then you need to join a small group and get a life.

3.  Pictures you take of yourself in a mirror.  Nothing screams “look at me” like “looking at yourself in a mirror while taking a picture and then posting it on Facebook.”

2.  Pictures you take of yourself in a mirror making a “kissing/duck face.”  This is just horrible.

1.  SONG LYRICS!  Please stop passively telling us what mood you’re in by the types of song lyrics you post.  Please.  I beg of you.  With all my heart.  Stop!

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FINAL DISCLAIMER:  I may have been guilty of 2 or 3 of these in my life.  Especially when Mumford puts out a new CD, or I’m really digging a Ron Swanson quote that I know no one will understand if they haven’t seen Parks & Rec.

 

The Christian and Politics: Should We Engage or Evacuate?

I have a confession to make.  I hate this time of year.  It’s not every year that I hate this time of year, but every four years, I really find myself hating this time of year.  There is nothing that divides like politics.  And especially right now, in our season, in our country, politics is, like the tip of a sword, piercing everything.  I really, really have a hard time carrying myself with a good attitude during this season.

For the most part, I have stayed away from the political debate this time.  No matter what you say, people will find something to hold over your head or disagree with you over.  There seems to be two camps within evangelicalism right now; two camps that blow their horn loud, at the same time.  So loud, in fact, that the other has a hard time hearing, while the one blowing has a hard listening.

First of all, there are the really conservative Christians that hate everything Obama has to offer right now.  They call him a “Muslim” and a “Christian-hater.”  They don’t really have anything in common with Romney, except for the fact that they are against Obama, and that is enough for this camp.  There cry is “NoBama, no matter what.”

The second camp isn’t as divisive as the first.  They don’t really carry a “me-verse-them” mentality to their efforts.  They want love.  They carry the white flag of peace.  They are still evangelical, so it seems, but they don’t harp the one-issue voter card, or the gay marriage and abortion card, over everything else.  They really try to think about the issues.  They want a third-party. They want a better America.

And I guess there is a third camp… the one that runs.  The one the flees when political conversation beings.  The one that evacuates.

No matter the camp that you find yourself in tonight, I would encourage you to watch the presidential debate and to participate in caring about what is going on in your country.  In my opinion, this is responsible Christian living.  This is the tension of the already but not yet.  As Christians, we are earthly-conquering, kingdom-driven, world-taking-dominion-warriors.  This is what it means for the Kingdom to be here now, but not yet in its fullness.  We are to participate in the things of this world, but not as citizens of this world alone.  No!  We are to partake as citizens of the greatest Kingdom.  The Kingdom that this will done do away with all earthly kings, rulers, and presidents.  But as we await that triumphal coming, we are called to change, and redeem, our attitude toward culture.  And this includes politics.  So, no, we should find ourselves in the third camp.

In Christ and Culture, H. Richard Niebuhr amazingly suggest a number of approaches toward culture which have been taken by various Christian groups in the past, varying from total rejection to uncritical acceptance of the cultural products of non-Christians, with a number of positions in between.  Applying the concept of the already-not yet tension to the question of the culture, though, will help us move forward as true Kingdom citizens in our engagement and participation of the present world, as we await the glories of the new earth (1).

It is commonly thought by many Christians that the relationship between the present world and the new earth, which is to come, is one of absolute discontinuity.  The new earth, so many think, will fall like bomb into our midst.  They think there will be no continuity between this world and the next; all will be totally different.  This understanding, however, does not do justice to the teaching of Scripture, or to our calling our cultural warriors.

There is continuity as well as discontinuity between this world and the next.  This principle is most wisely expressed in the words so often used by medieval theologians:

Grati non tollit sed reparat naturam.

Grace does not destroy nature but restores it.

In his redemptive activity God does not destroy the works of his hands, but cleanses them from sin and perfects them, so that they may finally reach the goal for which he created them.  Applied to the problem at hand, this principle means that the new earth to which we look forward will not be totally different from the present one, but will be restored and renewed and glorified.  It will be a renewal of the earth on which we now live (2).

Applying this to the political debate, let us convince our own minds that all is not loss as we venture into the next 4-years.  Let us remind ourselves with urgency that no matter who reigns as president of our country, there is a God who sits on his throne, reigning over the one who carries this earthly title.  Though the candidate we vote for might not win, let us go forth and vote.  No matter what camp’s horn we blow, let us remember that is all not lost.  God is still sovereign.  We are not in a state of emergency.  Let us go forth and participate in the debates.  Let us go forth and not seclude ourselves from voting.  Go vote.  Please vote.  Register now.  Let us be Kingdom-driven.  Kingdom citizens.  Kingdom-minded.

And… let us be gentle, yet truthful.  Loving, yet bold.  And live as if the Kingdom is here, but not yet… not just yet.

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Footnotes are from Anthony Hoekema’s The Bible and the Future, 71.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Trailer #2)

I have been waiting a long time for this movie, and I can’t wait to go see it on opening night… but, like many of you dorks, I won’t be dressing up!

Is Technology Destroying Personal Relationships?

With the announcement from Apple today with the possible release of the iPhone 5, I am reminded again that we — as a culture — have enormous expectations from technology.  As technology has developed and evolved, we expect more from it.  That is the reality of the world wherein we now live.  Driving into the church this morning, I heard 5 different stations talking about the iPhone 5 release.  3 mainstream stations.  2 Christian stations.

Now please don’t misunderstand my tone.  I am not bashing technology.  I am not bashing the iPhone 5.  I am only raising the question, “Is technology destroying personal relationships?”

In my own life, my iPhone often times runs the show.  I reply to emails.  Scroll Twitter feeds.  Meander on Facebook.  Send text messages.  Though I might not be able to access a phone call or a text message all the time, my iPhone sits right at my hip throughout my work day.  In fact, as I type this, my iPhone is sitting to the right of my Macbook.  When I am in meetings, yes, of course, my iPhone goes onto silent mode, but it isn’t far from reach as I slip it into my right front pocket.  When I leave meetings, often times the first thing I do is check my iPhone for missed calls or text messages.  When I am in a lunch meeting, my iPhone often hangs out with us on the restaurant table.  When I get into my car to go somewhere, the first thing I do is return phone calls.  When I wake up in the morning, there it is again giving temptation to look.  Check.  See.  Scroll.  Meander.  Waste time.

When I think about my own personal use of technology throughout the day, the first thing I do is cringe.  The second thing is that I am often reminded of a quote from the great Neil Postman, who wrote one of my favorite books of all time – Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business – which reads,

“Our politics, religion, news, athletics, education and commerce have been transformed into congenial adjuncts of show business, largely without protest or even much popular notice. The result is that we are a people on the verge of amusing ourselves to death.”

Are we amusing ourselves to death?  Are we as a culture on the verge of living as if nothing is meaningful.  No meaningful conversations.  No meaningful one-on-one time.  And worse, no meaningful relationships.

At first thought, I say “no way” to that.  I think of own life and the meaningful conversations that I have daily.  I think of the meaningful relationships that I have with people all over the world.  I think of the meaningful relationships that I have with my church family.  My own family.  I also think about how social media furthers my ability to do ministry.  How it furthers my ability to keep up with our culture.  And much more.

…And then I read Postman again,

“[M]ost of our daily news is inert, consisting of information that gives us something to talk about but cannot lead to any meaningful action. (68).”

And I reminded of that truth.  When I talk about news with others, it is almost always through the framework of just “having something to talk about.”

I am reminded today that technology should never be the means in which relationships are built.  I am reminded today that I am often in a room with a person but paying attention to another person on social media.  I am reminded today that if we are not careful that we will continue to become a culture that amuses ourselves to death.  I am reminded of this in my own life.

Though technology can facility community.  Though it can help in keeping up with culture.  Though it can be a useful tool for ministry… may we never become so attached that it strains our personal relationships, making them a cheap, lesser quality.

Think about it this way:  I never want to go into a nice, fancy restaurant and receive a steak that has been cooked in the microwave.  Do you?

Maybe that is what technology is doing to our relationships.  Maybe we are tricking ourselves into feeling like we it together relationally, eating a nice, full, juicy steak.  I mean, we have thousands of Facebook friends.  Hundreds of Twitter followers.

But, then again, why do we still feel so lonely?

“Everything in our background has prepared us to know and resist a prison when the gates begin to close around us . . . But what if there are no cries of anguish to be heard? Who is prepared to take arms against a sea of amusements? To whom do we complain, and when, and in what tone of voice, when serious discourse dissolves into giggles? What is the antidote to a culture’s being drained by laughter?”

Should Marijuana be Illegal?

This is a big debate today.  If you are older than 14-years-old then you have probably overheard this discussion in your circle of friends or in your hallway at school.  Or maybe you have even had this conversation lately yourself?  Granted, it’s currently not as big as abortion or homosexuality between the right and left.  Those 2 issues seem to have become the spotlight of the RNC and the DNC.  The use of Marijuana, though not as big it seems right now, is still big.

The effects of legalizing it… still big.

The conversation about the tax dollars we spend to house marijuana offenders in our jails… still big.

How the church responds to this issue if, or when, it becomes legalized… still big.

So what do you think?

I came across an article at the ERLC today that is rather interesting.  The author gives several thoughts to why marijuana should remain illegal.  They are all good.  The reasons contain socio-economic risks, health risks, and more.  But more importantly for me, the logical reasoning behind them seems to be solid.

Here is an excerpt:

Some argue that marijuana use is different from other criminal activities and that users should not be jailed with hardened criminals. Most of the criminal justice system already agrees. People sentenced to jail these days with a marijuana charge usually are also guilty of some other crime. The marijuana is usually an aggravating factor, not the primary one.

But by keeping marijuana illegal, we can better develop ways to discourage its use. A system of increasing fines, penalties and requirements, like substance-abuse counseling, can be developed. Penalties even could include the loss of one’s driver’s license. Jail could be a last resort for habitual offenders.

Marijuana also introduces many users to poverty and reduced economic prosperity. Marijuana use is not conducive to productivity. Its use creates mental as well as physical impairment. Employers do not even permit its use in most work environments because the user is more prone to errors and accidents. In a 1998 study, Dr. Robert Kaestner, professor of economics at the University of Illinois, Chicago, concluded, “Drug use and poverty are related because drug use affects the determinants of poverty: education, human capital investment, marriage and fertility.”

A Gospel-Centered Labor Day: Working Hard is Worship

As men, we are called to work and to work hard.  Paul states in 2 Thessalonians 3:10, “If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.”  Now I realize that there are valid reasons why some men cannot work, but for those of us who can, we should see this as one of our greatest callings.  When we work, and work hard at that, we exalt Christ and honor God.  Our work becomes purposeful and provisional.  In our work, God is glorified.

To paraphrase and add to Piper, “God is most glorified in us, we are most satisfied in him… through our work.”

Labor Day is an American federal holiday observed on the first Monday in September that celebrates the economic and social contributions of workers.

We are in somewhat of a paradox today as we celebrate the economic and social contributions of workers in our country, while also attempting to hide the reality that almost 1/10 people are unemployed in our nation.  As we continue to create gospel-centered warriors for the sake of Jesus’ name, teaching young men to work hard is of most importance.  We must teach our up-and-coming young men that work is foundational to who they are as men.  As men, we are called to work hard and provide for our families.  And then we are called to be good stewards of the prosperity that God may, only in his grace, provide us with.

As men, we must:

  • Work hard
  • Get paid
  • Use our resources well
  • Provide for the needs of our family
  • Give more
  • Not go into debt
  • Live within our means

Andy Stanley tweeted this morning: The National Debt is a direct result of the mishandling of our National Prosperity. No discipline with our dollars. #recoverybeginswithme

Here is the theological progression of work in Scripture.  May we live out Colossians 3:23 as we work.  May you work hard at resting on this gospel-centered labor day.

  • God created man (Genesis 1:26-27)
  • He gave us the mandate to work (Genesis 1:28)
  • Work would provide the way for Adam to eat (Genesis 1:29-30)
  • Adam fell into sin (Genesis 3:6-7)
  • God cursed the ground (Genesis 3:17-18)
  • Adam’s work (and our work through Adam) has now become toilsome (Genesis 3:19)
  • Work is still the means that provides food, but now we eat through the sweat of our brow (Genesis 3:19)
  • The curse has turned the desire for work in men to the default setting of laziness (1 Thessalonians 3:10-12)
  • Through Christ, we are redeemed and our work becomes purposeful, provisional, and God-glorifying(Col. 3:23)

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COMMENTS OR CONTACT:  I am always glad to hear from readers.  Leave a comment or contact me here.  Follow regular updates on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/gregrgibson

 

Has the social/political culture deteriorated because the church has as well?

The late and great John Stott says this in his treatise, Christian Mission in the Modern World:

To sum up, we are sent into the world, like Jesus, to serve.  For this is the natural expression of our love for our neighbors.  We love.  We go.  We serve.  And in this we have (or should have) no ulterior motive.  True, the gospel lacks visibility if we merely preach it, and lacks credibility if we who preach it are interested only in souls and have no concern about the welfare of people’s bodies, situations and communities.  Yet the reason for our acceptance of social responsibility is not primarily in order to give the gospel either a visibility or a credibility it would otherwise lack, but rather simple uncomplicated compassion.  Love has no need to justify itself.  It merely expresses itself in service where is sees need…

…When any community deteriorates, the blame should be attached where it belongs: not to the community which is going bad but to the church which is failing in its responsibility as salt to stop it going bad.  And the salt will be effective only if it permeates society, only if Christians learn again the wide diversity of divine callings, and if many penetrate deeply into secular society in order to serve Christ there.

May we, as sent ones, continue to seek the welfare of our cities.

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COMMENTS OR CONTACT:  I am always glad to hear from readers.  Leave a comment or contact me here.  Follow regular updates on Twitter at www.twitter.com/gregrgibson

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