Entitlement is a curse that guarantees not only unhappiness, but a path to seeing ourselves as victims and the animosity that inevitably grows from it. As proud creatures, it is one of the easiest things in the world to convince us that we are victims of a conspiracy to rob us of the happiness that we believe others have stolen from us.
This is a great interview about a concerning (understatement) topic. A must- listen, especially if you are a pastor or a parent. David Ayers is a sociologist coming out with a book called “Sex and the Single Evangelical.” Listen to the interview with Carl Trueman here. A few highlights that they develop.
- Sexual confusion and sin is now the norm among evangelical singles. Ayers discusses the data behind this claim. This is not typical ranting about the “younger generation.” Something has changed. And this is true in churches that are theologically orthodox.
- It is not just that the sin is hidden, it is often an open practice based on faulty ideas.
- Many in the church have failed to set forth a compelling vision for the beauty of what the Bible teaches about sex/marriage/gender.
- Because this is now endemic, many pastors are tempted to avoid the topic because to take a stand on this will me constant conflict.
This may be one of the most important news articles to read this week. What makes this powerful as an expose, is that it comes from an author that is politically liberal, and one that argues for the decriminalization of drugs. There is much I do not agree with. What is valuable is to see the full flower of a demonic political ideology that is literally killing people.
“Over the past two years, more than 1,360 people have died from drug overdoses in San Francisco. That is more than double the number who have died from Covid…
…The people in charge of homelessness and addiction want to bully people into giving up public streets and parks. They want to take your tax money and let your suffering neighbors die gentle, stoned deaths while they watch and call it justice. They think the mothers who want to get their sons out of the jaws of death are suspect. (It’s conservative to want your kid to live, don’t you know?) The city would like a little privacy please. Fentanyl use is an intimate moment between our officials and our addicts…
…The result is that the city is spending roughly $100,000 per year per homeless person, or over $1 billion annually, to maintain a large, unemployed, and very sick addict population in San Francisco’s public squares at the cost of human life and the loss of peace, walkability and livability—the very qualities that have long attracted so many to San Francisco…
I stumbled across a book of daily readings from John Newton and it has been great. He was an Anglican Pastor in the 18th Century. He is most famous for his hymns and testimony of being saved from a life of sin that included being the captain of a slave ship. Some consider him to be the premier English writer on pastoral subjects. He has such a simple and tender way of expressing deep truths. I came across this excerpt this morning on the topic of being avoiding conformity to the world, and he rightly talks about the false approach to this.
“It is not necessary, perhaps it is not lawful, wholly to renounce the society of the world. A mistake of this kind took place in the early ages of Christianity, and men (at first, perhaps, with a sincere desire of serving God without distraction) withdrew into deserts and uninhabited places, and wasted their lives at a distance from their fellow-creatures. But unless we could flee from ourselves likewise, this would afford us no advantage; so long as we carry our own wicked hearts with us, we shall be exposed to temptation, go where we will. Besides, this would be thwarting the end of our vocation. Christians are to be the salt and the lights of the world, conspicuous as cities set upon a hill; they are commanded to “let their light shine before men, that they, beholding their good works, may glorify their Father who is in heaven.” This injudicious deviation from the paths of nature and providence, gave occasion at length to the vilest abominations; and men who withdrew from the world, under pretense of retirement, became the more wicked and abandoned as they lived more out of public view and observation.
“Nor are we at liberty, much less are we enjoined, to renounce the duties of relative life, so as to become careless in the discharge of them. Allowances should, indeed, be made for the distresses of people newly awakened, or under the power of temptation, which may for a time so much engross their thoughts as greatly to indispose them for their bounded duty. But, in general, the proper evidence of true Christians is, not merely that they can talk about Divine things, but that, by the grace of God, they live and act agreeable to the rules of his word, in the state in which his providence has placed them, whether as masters or servants, husbands or wives, parents or children; bearing rule, or yielding obedience, as in his sight. Diligence and fidelity in the management of temporal concernments, though observable in the practice of many worldly men, may be maintained without a sinful conformity to the world.”
You can read the rest here. He goes on to talk about asceticism ( “A man may almost starve his body to feed his pride…”) and several other important topics. He summarizes that we must not conform to the spirit of the world, the maxims of the world, and the amusements of the world. As is so often the case, hearing someone talk about this while situated several centuries away is helpful.
One of the most important realizations about humanity in general, and about ourselves is that many of our desires are not only bad, they are bad for us. We love to hear gossip, to avoid taking a costly stand for the truth, to see the misfortune of those we resent. Like children we consume to the point of immoderation, and our own sickness. The list of examples is as long as there are people. The voices of our culture want us believe that the path to true happiness is unrestrained indulgence. Sadly, our longings are so disordered that these are the lies we want to believe.
This article is from Bari Weiss’ substack My thoughts on the article below.
It is an important snap shot of our current cultural moment. It is sad to me and feels a little hopeless. This article is NOT really about children. It is about a belief system. This is what happens when you trust secularism to describe and fix your problems. It doesn’t work. The result is an existential hopelessness that leads us to throw up our hands and bury ourselves in meaningless pleasures. This conversation is not actually about children. It is about an attempt to redefine what it means to be human.
A couple of things come to mind:
The world is really good at evangelism and discipleship. We have a generation that has completely adopted the dogma that has been given to them. And they can repeat the words and phrases handed to them like good disciples. There is deep irony in all of this. We have a generation sincerely convinced they are victims even though we live in one of the most prosperous and egalitarian moments in history. There is a cultural and political machine that feeds our victim complex. And we love it. It makes us feel important.
Historically we mock and despise members of religious cults. How can they continue to trust the leaders that make so many false predictions? That gullibility is alive in a generation that gives unfailing trust to the prophets of the climate apocalypse. And that in spite of decades of false predictions. It is truly impressive. The space ship has not arrived, yet has not weakened their credibility. “Ideas have consequences, and some ideas have victims.” Clearly, this apocalyptic vision has consequences.
For me, I believe the situation is far worse and yet far more hopeful. Why? Because I don’t believe that humans can be the problem and the solution at the same time. Humans are certainly at the heart of the problem, but the answer is outside of our resources or wisdom. My hope is in a king that loves and redeems difficult and demanding humans, even miserable children and self-absorbed adults. He died and rose from the dead and is bringing an everlasting kingdom.
“We have not loved thee as we ought, nor cared that we are loved by thee”-Thomas Pollock
These are a few searching words from a great hymn of repentance. It sounds strange to our modern conception of sin to think that we need to repent of not loving God as we ought. But if loving God is the greatest commandment, then failure to love him has to be one of the greatest sins.
I am getting weary of hearing that “trauma” is the explanation for everything.
Periodically the world, and the church, swallows a new perspective that promises to answer all of our problems, explain why our programs aren’t working, and show the way to health and happiness. The winds of these fads blow every 5 to 10 years, sometimes two or three rolling in and out at once. It is not that these topics have no value at all. Sometimes they have some important things to teach us. But they can take on a collective inertia, that leads to a blinding group think. Once these social science fads become popular, they are often associated with weak or shoddy science, a host of buzz words, careless definitions, unwarranted implications, a new army of “experts” to show us the way, and dog pile of lab coats pushing shoddy research that resists any criticism.
Sadly, in the church this can result in a new hermeneutic that uncritically reads these ideas back onto scripture. I was not surprised to see see an article in Christianity Today calling for “trauma-informed bible reading”. I won’t be surprised if there is a whole study bible devoted to the idea somewhere in the pipeline.
I have been recently reading the book “The Quick Fix: Why Fad Psychology Can’t Cure Our Social Ills” by Jesse Singal. The author explains in detail the ways in which many of these social science trends (e.g. the self esteem movement, the implicit association test, positive thinking, the judicial concept of super-predators, etc) have persisted throughout the last 30-40 years in spite of being scientifically discredited. It feels like the current emphasis on trauma is in danger of following suit. I don’t think I had heard about experts on “trauma” before 5 years ago. But recently I seem to hear about them every day, sometimes multiple times a day. I am sure that understanding trauma is important, but also pretty sure that it is not the silver bullet to explain all our unhappiness and insecurities. When ideas like this become popular there is a greater need for healthy skepticism.
By the way, the author is a science writer for the New York Times. He is obviously really smart, and is politically on the left. He is really adept at pointing out the bad judgment of many of the authors tied to these bad ideas, but he seems unaware of the force of his own political and philosophical assumptions about the world.
I started re-reading Neil Postman’s “Amusing Ourselves to Death” and the big idea is the the medium of television actually drives and trivializes our entire cultural conversation. The medium always affects the message. He wrote that 30+ years ago. I think we need to revisit this in terms of social media, especially the short form of Twitter, and the democratizing of the video sound bite with Tiktok, etc. we are losing the ability to think deeply, to communicate, to listen long to one another.
Back in 1985, Postman wrote that the hairdresser an image consultant had replaced the speech writer for our national leaders. I wonder what he would say today? and since the average person now has the potential for an international audience, what would he say to the rest of us? It definitely seems image management is more important than truth and content.
All of the most spectacular sins and crimes in the history of the world are rooted in a justification that often sound like justice.
Cornelius Plantinga wrote “Victims victimize others, who then send their own vengeance ricocheting through the larger human family. Nobody is more dangerous than a victim.” His point was not that being a victim is dangerous but that seeing your primary identity as a victim is one of the most dangerous things because it allows you commit acts of further evil and atrocity with boldness and a sense of justification and even moral superiority.
It is very important for Christians to understand and oppose this temptation. We are specifically called not to repay evil with more evil. This is so important it is repeated 3 times. Romans 12:17, I Thess. 5:15, and I Peter 3:9.
We are seeing many examples of this phenomenon play out as Critical Race Theory is more widely applied.
Here is an example from a lecturer at Yale school of Medicine, who has focused in his studies on Critical Theory. You should go to the link and see all of the disgusting tidbits: “I had fantasies of unloading a revolver into the head of any white person that got in my way, burying their body, and wiping my bloody hands as I walked away relatively guiltless with a bounce in my step. Like I did the world a fucking favor. (Time stamp: 7:17)”
Why are so many of us concerned about Critical Race Theory and its various iterations? For many reasons, but one really obvious reason is because it the foundation for the growing, open, bold, unopposed racial hatred and scapegoating of “white people” as the source of all evil. The current conversation is not about uniting diverse people or ending racial hostility, and you can see this clearly by listening to the words of the people that are applying these ideas.
This kind of talk is unapologetically evil, and determined to justify its hatred as a virtuous response to past sins. We have heard this kind of talk before leading to the gulags and concentration camps that grew out of the ideologies of hate. If you care about diversity and racial harmony and love, you should oppose this kind of thinking.
“This is the cost of talking to white people at all. The cost of your own life, as they suck you dry. There are no good apples out there. White people make my blood boil. (Time stamp: 6:45)
“White people are out of their minds and they have been for a long time. (Time stamp: 17:06)
“We are now in a psychological predicament, because white people feel that we are bullying them when we bring up race. They feel that we should be thanking them for all that they have done for us. They are confused, and so are we. We keep forgetting that directly talking about race is a waste of our breath. We are asking a demented, violent predator who thinks that they are a saint or a superhero, to accept responsibility. It ain’t gonna happen. They have five holes in their brain. It’s like banging your head against a brick wall. It’s just like sort of not a good idea. (Time stamp 17:13)
“We need to remember that directly talking about race to white people is useless, because they are at the wrong level of conversation. Addressing racism assumes that white people can see and process what we are talking about. They can’t. That’s why they sound demented. They don’t even know they have a mask on. White people think it’s their actual face. We need to get to know the mask. (Time stamp 17:54)