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When the Not-Yet Married Meet: Dating to Display Jesus

In Gals,Guys,Perspective,Soul Food on June 6, 2013 by The Spillover

Marshall Segal:

Dating is dead.

So says the media. Girls, stop expecting guys to make any formal attempt at winning your affections. Don’t sit around waiting for a boy to make you a priority, communicate his intentions, or even call you on the phone. Exclusivity and intentionality are ancient rituals, things of the past, and misplaced hopes.

I beg to differ. It’s not that this new line of thinking is necessarily untrue today, or that it’s not the current and corrupt trend of our culture. It’s wrong. One of our most precious pursuits, that of a life-long partner for all of life, is tragically being relegated to tweets, texts, and Facebook pokes, to ambiguous flirtation and fooling around. It’s wrong.

Dating That Preserves Marriage

There is a God. And this God created and rules his world, including men, women, the biological compulsions that bind them together, and the institution that declares their union and keeps it sacred and safe. Therefore, only he can prescribe the purpose, parameters, and means of our marriages.

If fullness of life could be found in sexual stimulation, or if it was just a matter of making babies, the “forget formality and just have sex” approach might temporarily satisfy cravings and cause enough conception. But God had much more in mind with romance than orgasms or even procreation, and so should we. So must we.

When people in the world are expecting less and less of each other in dating, God isn’t — so among the single we have to work harder in our not-yet married relationships to preserve what marriage ought to picture and provide.

Mom, Where Do Weddings Come From?

Nothing in my life and faith has been more confusing and spiritually hazardous than my pursuit of marriage. From far too young, I longed for the affection, safety, and intimacy I anticipated with a wife.

Sadly, my immature and unhealthy desires predictably did much more harm than good. I started dating too early. I stayed in relationships too long. I experimented too much with our hearts and allowed things to go too far. I said, “I love you,” too soon. And now my singleness is a regular reminder that I messed up, missed opportunities, or did it wrong.

Maybe dating has been hard for you, too, for these reasons or others. Maybe Mr. (or Mrs.) Right has started to look like Mr. (or Mrs.) Myth. Maybe you’ve wanted the relationship or liked the guy or girl, and you’ve never had the chance. Maybe all the suggestions and advice you’ve collected has become a confusing mess of good-intentioned contradictions and ambiguity. It’s enough to leave you like an 8-year-old, asking, “Mom, where do weddings come from?”

Expecting More from Marriage

The vision of marriage we see in God’s word –– the beautiful, radical display of God’s infinite, persevering love for sinners –– makes it worth it to date, and date well. The world’s approach can provide fun and sex and children and eventually even some level of commitment, but it cannot lead to the life-giving Jesus after whom our marriages are to take their cues.

Friends who enjoy sex with “no strings attached” will find pleasure, but not the peaks waiting on the other side of mutual promises. The happiness of marriage is not only or even mainly physical. With the sex, there ought to be a deep sense of safety, a sense of being loved and accepted for who you are, a desire to please without the need to impress. When God engineered the sexual bond between a man and a woman, he made something much more satisfying than the act itself.

Those who recklessly give themselves to a love-life of dating without really dating, of romantic rendezvouses without Christ and commitment, are settling. They’re settling for less than God intended and less than he made possible by sending his Son to rescue and repurpose our lives, including our love-lives, for something more. More happiness. More security. More purpose.

And the more is found in a mutual faith in and following of Jesus. With this “more,” we can say to the watching world, don’t settle for artificial and thin loyalty, affection, security, and sexual experimentation when God intends and promises so much more through a Christian union. And a Christian union can only be found through Christian dating.

If Christian dating, the intentional, selfless, and prayerful process of pursuing marriage, sounds like slavery, we don’t get it. If low-commitment sexual promiscuity sounds like freedom, we don’t get it. Jesus may ask more of us, but he does so to secure and increase our greatest and longest-lasting (sexual) happiness.

How Then Shall We Date?

For those whose roads are marked more by mistakes than selflessness, patience, and sound judgment, take hope in the God who truly and mysteriously blesses your broken road and redeems you from it, and who can begin in you a new, pure, wise, godly pursuit of marriage today.

Here are (some) principles for your not-yet marriages. It’s not nearly a comprehensive or exhaustive list. They’re simply lessons I’ve learned and hope can be a blessing for you, your boyfriend or girlfriend, and your future spouse.

1. It really is as simple as they say.

In a day when people are marrying later and later and more and more are resorting to online matchmaking, we probably need to be reminded that marriage really is less about compatibility than commitment. After all, there has never been a less compatible relationship than a holy God and his sinful bride, and that’s the mold we’re aiming for in our marriages.

There is a reason the Bible doesn’t have a book devoted to how to choose a spouse. It was not an oversight on the part of the God of all history, as if he couldn’t see into the 21st century. The qualifications are wonderfully clear and simple: 1) they must believe your God (2 Corinthians 6:14) and 2) they must be of the opposite sex (Genesis 2:23–24Matthew 19:4–6Ephesians 5:24–32).

Now undeniably there will be more involved in your discernment while dating. Apart from questions of attraction and chemistry, which are not insignificant, the Bible articulates some roles for wives and husbands. Men ought to protect and provide for their wife (Ephesians 5:25–29). Women ought to help and submit to their man (Genesis 2:18;Ephesians 5:22–24). Fathers ought to lead their families in God’s word (Ephesians 6:4). Parents must love and raise their children in the faith (Deuteronomy 6:7). So admittedly we are looking for more than an attractive person who “loves Jesus.”

That said, many of us need to be reminded that God’s perfect person for me isn’t all that perfect. Every person who marries is a sinner, so the search for a spouse isn’t a pursuit of perfection, but a mutually flawed pursuit of Jesus. It is a faith-filled attempt to become like him and make him known together. Regardless of the believer you marry, you will likely find out soon that you do not feel as “compatible” as you once did, but hopefully you will marvel more at God’s love for you in Jesus and the amazing privilege it is to live out that love together, especially in light of your differences.

2. Know what makes a marriage worth having.

In our worst moments, our objectives are small and misguided. We just don’t want to be alone on a Friday night anymore. We just want to post almost-candid, artistically-framed pictures with someone on a bridge somewhere. We want a guilt-free way to enjoy sex. We just want a guy or girl to tell us we’re handsome and funny and smart and good at our job, etc.

If marriage only offered us these things, though, it really wouldn’t be worth it. Many will try to deny that, but the divorce statistics are enough to establish that marriage asks more of you than most could have ever imagined on their wedding day. Most of my married friends would say that what seems fun and pretty and unbreakable at the altar did not feel as clean or easy even days into their lives together. It’s still intensely good and beautiful, but it’s costly, too costly for small aims.

Marriage is worth having because you get God in your lifelong commitment to one another. Marriage is about knowing God, worshiping God, depending on God, displaying God, being made like God. God made man and woman in his image and joined them together, giving them unique responsibilities to care for one another in their broken, but beautiful union.

What makes marriage worth having is that you, your spouse, and those around you see more of God and his love for us in Jesus. If you’re not experiencing that with your boyfriend, break up with him. If that’s not our priority, we need to get a new game plan and probably a new scorecard for our next significant other.

3. Look for clarity more than intimacy.

The greatest danger of dating is giving parts of our hearts and lives to someone to whom we’re not married. It is a significant risk, and many, many men and women have deep and lasting wounds from relationships because a couple enjoyed emotional or physical closeness without a lasting, durable commitment. Cheap intimacy feels real for the moment, but you get what you pay for.

While the great prize in marriage is Christ-centered intimacy, the great prize in dating is Christ-centered clarity. Intimacy is safest in the context of marriage, and marriage is safest in the context of clarity. The purpose of our dating is determining whether the two of us should get married, so we should focus our effort there.

In our pursuit of clarity, we will undoubtedly develop intimacy, but we ought not do so too quickly or too naively. Be intentional and outspoken to one another that, as Christians, intimacy before marriage is dangerous, while clarity is unbelievably precious.

4. Find a fiancé on the frontlines.

This is a throwback to a previous post. The idea is to look for love in the right places.Focus on the harvest, and you’re bound to find a helper. Instead of making it your mission to get married, make your mission God’s global cause and the advance of the gospel where you are, and look for someone pursuing the same. If you’re hoping to marry someone who passionately loves Jesus and makes him known, it’s probably best to put yourself in a community of people committed to that.

This does not mean that we should serve because we might find love. God is not ultimately honored with that kind of self-serving service. No, it simply means that if we’re looking for a particular kind of person, there are good, safe, identifiable places those kinds of people live and serve and worship together. Get involved in a community like that, serve each other, and look for God to open doors for dating.

5. Don’t let your mind marry him before the rest of you can.

While this may seem like it’s much more common among women, I’ve been single long enough around enough single guys to know it’s not exclusively a female problem. The trajectory of all truly Christian romance ought to be marriage, so it should not surprise us that our dreams and expectations, our hearts, race out ahead of everything else.

It simply isn’t that hard to imagine what your children would look like or where you would vacation together or how family holidays would work or what kind of house you might buy. And just like sex, all these things could be really good and safe and beautiful, but in the context of your covenant. Satan wants to subtly help you build marriage and family idols that are too fragile for your not-yet married relationship.

“He told me he loved me.” “She said she would never leave.” They’re the seemingly priceless sentences that don’t always cash. They’re often said with good intentions, but without the ring — and without a ring, the results can be devastating. Guard your heart and imagination from running out ahead of your current commitment.

6. Boundaries make for the best of friends.

The most oft-asked dating question among Christians might be, “How far is too far before marriage?” The fact that we keep asking that question suggests we all agree we need to draw some lines, and that the lines seem pretty blurry to most. If you’re pursuing marriage and it’s going well, you’re going to experience temptation, a lot of temptation.

Sexual sin may be the devil’s weapon of choice in corrupting Christian relationships. If you don’t acknowledge your enemy and engage him, you’ll find yourselves wondering how you lost so easily. Some of our best friends in the battle will be the boundaries we set to keep us pure.

While spontaneous plunges into intimacy look great in chick-flicks and feel great in the moment, they breed shame, regret, and distrust. Let’s try talking about touching before touching. Trade some titillation for trust, surprise for clarity and confidence. Make decisions prayerfully and intentionally before diving in.

Boundaries are necessary because on the road to marriage and its consummation, the appetite for intimacy only grows as you feed it. You are biologically built that way. Touching leads to more touching. Being alone together in certain situations will welcome fierce temptation. Even praying together or talking for hours upon hours on the phone can create unhealthy overdoses of intimacy with not-yet spouses.

If we’re honest, we much more often like to error by wading into love too far rather than waiting too long to take the next step. You will be hard-pressed, though, to find a couple regretting the boundaries they made in dating, while you will very easily find those that wish they would have made more. As followers of Christ, we really ought to be the most careful and vigilant.

Boundaries protect, and boundaries provide the trenches of trust-building. As we establish some mutual boundaries, small and large, and commit to keeping them together, we develop depths and patterns of trust that will serve our intimacy, covenant-keeping, and decision-making should God lead us to marry each other.

7. Consistently include your community.

Dating is a matter of doing your best to discern a person’s ability to fulfill God’s vision and purpose for marriage with you. While you might be the one with the final say, you might not be the best person to assess at every point. Just as in every other area of your Christian life, you need the body of Christ as you think about who to date, how to date, and when to wed.

While it’s rarely quick or convenient, gaining the perspective of people who know you, love you, and have great hope for your future will always pay dividends. It may lead to hard conversations or deep disagreement, but it will force you to deal with things you did not or could not have seen on your own. You’ll find safety with an abundance of counselors (Proverbs 11:14).

Invite other people to look into your relationship. Spend time together with other people, couples and singles, who are willing to point out the good, the bad, and the ugly.

8. Let all your dating be missionary dating.

No, I am not encouraging you to date not-yet believing men or women. When I say missionary dating, I mean dating that displays and promotes faith in Jesus and his good news, a dating that is in step with the gospel before the watching world. I want us to win disciples by dating radically, by confronting the world’s paradigms and pleasure-seeking with sacrifice, selflessness, and intentionality.

Men and women in the world want many of the same things you want: affection, commitment, conversation, stability, sex, etc. And eventually they will see that the ground under your lives and relationship is firmer than the flimsy flings they know. They’ll see something deeper, stronger, and more meaningful between you and your significant other.

Do the people in each of your lives know and love Jesus more because you’re together? Do they see God’s grace and truth working in you and your relationship as you walk through life together? Are the two of you thinking proactively about how to bless your friends and family and point them to Christ? More and more, as the world is watering down dating, your relationship can be a provocative picture of your fidelity to Christ and a call to follow him.

Pursuing Marriage the Right Way

Is this dating perfectly safe? No. Will it keep you from being hurt or disappointed? No. Will it guarantee you never go through another break up? No. But, by God’s grace, it may guard us from deeper heartache and more devastating failure. My prayer is that these principles would prepare you to love your spouse in a way that more beautifully and dramatically displays the truth and power of the gospel.

If you are like me, you may have blown it on multiple fronts already. Maybe you’re blowing it right now in a relationship. Be willing to make the hard decisions, large and small, to pursue marriage the right way today. Whether you’re ultimately married to one another or not (or married at all, for that matter), you will thank each other later.

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The Marks of Manhood

In Guys,Home and Family on September 11, 2012 by The Spillover

Al Mohler:

When does a boy become a man? That interesting question was recently posed to me, and it raises some of the most important issues facing Christians today. While the world seems increasingly confused about matters as basic as what it means to be male and female, Christians are called to frame our arguments in distinctively biblical terms.

All around us, cultural developments and media messages communicate a fog of confusion over questions of gender. In reality, these issues lie right along the fault lines of today’s culture war and its most controversial points of debate. For many years, this society has been experimenting with the most fundamental realities of human existence. The essence of what it means to be male or female has been routinely discounted by a society infatuated with unlimited self-expression and assertions of personal autonomy.

Women are now joined by men, who complain that traditional expectations about gender roles are oppressive, limiting, and intolerant. An entire generation of young women is trying to find a way to genuine womanhood against the tidal force of ideological feminism. Similarly, boys and young men are desperately looking for models of manhood and answers to their urgent questions of male identity, male responsibility, and male roles.

Christians understand that God created human beings as male and female–for His glory and for our good. The differences between the sexes are not matters of evolutionary accident, but are clear indications of God’s sublime and perfect design for human happiness. As followers of Christ, we understand that it is our responsibility to embrace, affirm, and fulfill the roles and responsibilities God has given us.

In the context of this confusion, boys are especially vulnerable. The feminization of society, mixed with confusing cultural signals, has led many boys and young men to be uncertain and unaware of their masculinity and proper role. In a desperate search for a secure male identity, some are attracted to gross distortions. Some embrace a brutalized and arrogant posture while others retreat into insecure manhood, never understanding a man’s responsibility to lead.

We now face the phenomenon of perpetual boyhood on the part of many males. Refusing to grow up, these young men function as boys well into their twenties–some even into their thirties and beyond. An extended male adolescence marks the lifestyles, expectations, and behavior of far too many young males, whose masculine identity is embraced awkwardly, if at all.

When does a boy become a man? The answer to this must go far beyond biology and chronological age. As defined in the Bible, manhood is a functional reality, demonstrated in a man’s fulfillment of responsibility and leadership. With this in mind, let me suggest thirteen marks of biblical manhood. The achievement of these vital qualities marks the emergence of a man who will demonstrate true biblical masculinity.

1. Spiritual maturity sufficient to lead a wife and children. The Bible is clear about a man’s responsibility to exercise spiritual maturity and spiritual leadership. Of course, this spiritual maturity takes time to develop, and it is a gift of the Holy Spirit working within the life of the believer. The disciplines of the Christian life, including prayer and serious Bible study, are among the means God uses to mold a boy into a man and to bring spiritual maturity into the life of one who is charged to lead a wife and family. This spiritual leadership is central to the Christian vision of marriage and family life. A man’s spiritual leadership is not a matter of dictatorial power, but of firm and credible spiritual leadership and influence. A man must be ready to lead his wife and his children in a way that will honor God, demonstrate godliness, inculcate Christian character, and lead his family to desire Christ and to seek God’s glory. Spiritual maturity is a mark of true Christian manhood, and a spiritually immature man is, in at least this crucial sense, spiritually just a boy.

2. Personal maturity sufficient to be a responsible husband and father. Christians often speak of raising boys to be men. In the face of today’s cultural onslaught, this is an important goal. However, it is just not enough. Biblical manhood is always defined in terms of functions, roles, and responsibilities. True masculinity is not a matter of exhibiting supposedly masculine characteristics devoid of the context of responsibility. In the Bible, a man is called to fulfill his role as husband and father. Unless granted the gift of celibacy for gospel service, the Christian boy is to aim for marriage and fatherhood. This is assuredly a counter-cultural assertion, but the role of husband and father is central to manhood. Boys must be raised to see themselves as future husbands and fathers. They must be taught what to look for in a godly wife and how to fulfill all of the responsibilities that Scripture invests in a husband and father. Marriage is unparalleled in its effect on men, as it channels their energies and directs their responsibilities to the devoted covenant of marriage and the grace-filled civilization of the family. Boys must be taught what it means to be a husband, how to respect and honor marriage, and how to earn the respect and confidence of a wife. Similarly, boys must be taught about the responsibilities of fatherhood. Christians must reverse generations of inattention by speaking directly and clearly to boys about their future responsibilities, including the care, training, education, protection, and discipline of children. They must aspire to be the kind of man a Christian woman would gladly marry and children will trust, respect, and obey.

3. Economic maturity sufficient to hold an adult job and handle money. Advertisers and marketers know where to aim their messages–directly at adolescent boys and young men. This particular segment of the population is inordinately attracted to material goods, popular entertainment, sporting events, and other consumer options. The portrait of young manhood made popular in the media and presented as normal through entertainment is characterized by economic carelessness, self-centeredness, and laziness. A real man knows how to hold a job, handle money with responsibility, and take care of the needs of his wife and family. A failure to develop economic maturity means that young men often float from job to job, and take years to “find themselves” in terms of career and vocation. Once again, an extended adolescence marks a huge segment of today’s young male population. A boy must be taught how to work, how to save, to invest, and to spend money with care. He must be taught to respect labor, and to feel the satisfaction that comes from a job well done, and a dollar honestly earned. Too many boys are coddled and entertained, demonstrating a laziness that will be highly detrimental to their future prospects as husband and father. Slothfulness, laziness, and economic carelessness are marks of immaturity. A real man knows how to earn, manage, and respect money. A Christian man understands the danger that comes from the love of money, and fulfills his responsibility as a Christian steward.

4. Physical maturity sufficient to work and protect a family. Unless afflicted by injury or illness, a boy should develop the physical maturity that, by stature and strength, marks recognizable manhood. Of course, men come in many sizes and demonstrate different levels of physical strength, but common to all men is a maturity, through which a man demonstrates his masculinity by movement, confidence, and strength. A man must be ready to put his physical strength on the line to protect his wife and children and to fulfill his God-assigned tasks. A boy must be taught to channel his developing strength and emerging size into a self-consciousness of responsibility, recognizing that adult strength is to be combined with adult responsibility and true maturity.

5. Sexual maturity sufficient to marry and fulfill God’s purposes. As a boy develops into a man, he becomes aware of the sexual powers God has put within him. In an age saturated with distorted sexuality, bombarded with sexual stimulation, and confused by unbridled sexual passion, boys must be taught to discipline their sexual energies into anticipation of marriage. Even as the society celebrates sex in every form and at every age, the true Christian man practices sexual integrity, avoiding pornography, fornication, all forms of sexual promiscuity, and corruption. He understands the danger of lust, but rejoices in the sexual capacity and reproductive power God has put within him, committing himself to find a wife, and to earn her love, trust, and admiration–and eventually to win her hand in marriage. Boys must be taught to respect this incredible gift, and to protect this gift until, within the context of holy marriage, they are able to fulfill this gift, love their wives, and look to God’s gift of children. Male sexuality separated from the context and integrity of marriage is an explosive and dangerous reality. The boy must understand, even as he travels through the road of puberty and an awakened sexuality, that he is accountable to God for his stewardship of this great gift.

6. Moral maturity sufficient to lead as an example of righteousness. Stereotypical behavior on the part of young males is, in the main, marked by recklessness, irresponsibility, and worse. As a boy grows into manhood, he must develop moral maturity as he aspires to righteousness, learning to think like a Christian, act like a Christian, and show others how to do the same. The Christian man is to be an example to others, teaching by both precept and example. Of course, this requires the exercise of responsible moral reasoning. Boys will not learn this on their own, but must be taught. True moral education begins with a clear understanding of moral standards, but must move to the higher level of moral reasoning by which a young man learns how biblical principles are translated into godly living and how the moral challenges of his day must be met with the truths revealed in God’s inerrant and infallible word.

Biblical manhood does not develop in a vacuum. A boy’s most important teacher is his dad, and one of a father’s chief responsibilities is to instruct and inspire his son into true manhood.

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11 Practical Ways for Men to Lead a Family

In Guys,Home and Family on August 6, 2012 by The Spillover

From Mark Driscoll:

As men, we bear a greater burden before God for the well-being of our families and our church. Our wives and children should flourish under our loving leadership.

By the grace of God, you can be who God has called you to be, do what God has called you to do, and love as God has loved you.

As men, we will never in this life experience perfection, but by the grace of God we can experience progress every day until we enter perfection in the life to come. So don’t sulk, don’t sin, and don’t settle, but instead strive.

1. As the family leader, model humility, honesty, repentance, service, study, and worship. Your life preaches at least as loudly as your words, so teach and model humble godliness by the grace of God.

2. Make sure everyone in your family has a good, age-appropriate Bible that they regularly read. Read the Bible yourself and with them so they are encouraged to read on their own.

3. Make sure you have some basic Bible study tools available for your family in either print or digital form and that everyone learns to use them. If you do not know where to begin, ask your pastor or a godly student of Scripture in your church about things like a good Bible commentary, concordance, dictionary, and atlas.

4. Buy good Christian books for everyone in your family to read. Include Christian biographies among those books.

5. Choose good books that you and your wife can be reading together, including books of the Bible, and discuss what you are learning.

6. If there are Bible-based classes offered in your church, attend with your family.

7. Redeem your commute by listening to good sermons and classes, many of which you can download for free.

8. Have dinner together with your family most nights, and use that time to pray together, keep a journal log of prayer requests for other people, and read a portion of the Bible and talk about it together.

9. Pray for each member of your family every day and let them know you are praying for them.

10. Place a hand on the head of each of your children every day and pray over them.Then kiss them on the head and make sure they often get a loving hug.

11. While either snuggling or holding hands, pray with and for your wife every day and remember to include the reasons you are thankful to God for her that day. If these things have not been common in your home, it is very likely that your family has been aching for them and will be thankful for your loving leadership as the head of your home.

 

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Fake Love, Fake War

In Guys,Perspective,Soul Food on May 25, 2012 by The Spillover

From Russell Moore. What an article:

You know the guy I’m talking about. He spends hours into the night playing video games and surfing for pornography. He fears he’s a loser. And he has no idea just how much of a loser he is. For some time now, studies have shown us that porn and gaming can become compulsive and addicting. What we too often don’t recognize, though, is why.

In a new book, The Demise of Guys: Why Boys Are Struggling and What We Can Do About It, psychologists Philip Zimbardo and Nikita Duncan say we may lose an entire generation of men to pornography and video gaming addictions. Their concern isn’t about morality, but instead about the nature of these addictions in reshaping the patten of desires necessary for community.

If you’re addicted to sugar or tequila or heroin you want more and more of that substance. But porn and video games both are built on novelty, on the quest for newer and different experiences. That’s why you rarely find a man addicted to a single pornographic image. He’s entrapped in an ever-expanding kaleidoscope.

There’s a key difference between porn and gaming. Pornography can’t be consumed in moderation because it is, by definition, immoral. A video game can be a harmless diversion along the lines of a low-stakes athletic competition. But the compulsive form of gaming shares a key element with porn: both are meant to simulate something, something for which men long.

Pornography promises orgasm without intimacy. Video warfare promises adrenaline without danger. The arousal that makes these so attractive is ultimately spiritual to the core.

Satan isn’t a creator but a plagiarist. His power is parasitic, latching on to good impulses and directing them toward his own purpose. God intends a man to feel the wildness of sexuality in the self-giving union with his wife. And a man is meant to, when necessary, fight for his family, his people, for the weak and vulnerable who are being oppressed.

The drive to the ecstasy of just love and to the valor of just war are gospel matters. The sexual union pictures the cosmic mystery of the union of Christ and his church. The call to fight is grounded in a God who protects his people, a Shepherd Christ who grabs his sheep from the jaws of the wolves.

When these drives are directed toward the illusion of ever-expanding novelty, they kill joy. The search for a mate is good, but blessedness isn’t in the parade of novelty before Adam. It is in finding the one who is fitted for him, and living with her in the mission of cultivating the next generation. When necessary, it is right to fight. But God’s warfare isn’t forever novel. It ends in a supper, and in a perpetual peace.

Moreover, these addictions foster the seemingly opposite vices of passivity and hyper-aggression. The porn addict becomes a lecherous loser, with one-flesh union supplanted by masturbatory isolation. The video game addict becomes a pugilistic coward, with other-protecting courage supplanted by aggression with no chance of losing one’s life. In both cases, one seeks the sensation of being a real lover or a real fighter, but venting one’s reproductive or adrenal glands over pixilated images, not flesh and blood for which one is responsible.

Zimbardo and Duncan are right, this is a generation mired in fake love and fake war, and that is dangerous. A man who learns to be a lover through porn will simultaneously love everyone and no one. A man obsessed with violent gaming can learn to fight everyone and no one.

The answer to both addictions is to fight arousal with arousal. Set forth the gospel vision of a Christ who loves his bride and who fights to save her. And then let’s train our young men to follow Christ by learning to love a real woman, sometimes by fighting his own desires and the spirit beings who would eat him up. Let’s teach our men to make love, and to make war . . . for real.

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Men: This is War

In Guys,Soul Food on May 1, 2012 by The Spillover

Disclaimer: Get ready for this one.

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Where a Man Belongs

In Desiring God by John Piper,Guys,Home and Family,Soul Food on February 20, 2012 by The Spillover

From Desiring God by John Piper:

I address the men directly for a moment: Do not let the rhetoric of unbiblical feminism cow you into thinking that Christlike leadership from husbands is bad. It is what our homes need more than anything. For all your meekness and all your servanthood and all your submission to your wife’s deep desires and needs, you are still the head, the leader.

What I mean is this: You should feel the greater responsibility to take the lead in the things of the Spirit; you should lead the family in a life of prayer, in the study of God’s Word, and in worship; you should lead in giving the family a vision of its meaning and mission; you should take the lead in shaping the moral fabric of the home and in governing its happy peace. I have never met a woman who chafes under such Christlike leadership. But I know of too many wives who are unhappy because their husbands have abdicated their God-ordained leadership and have no moral vision, no spiritual conception of what a family is for, and therefore no desire to lead anyone anywhere.

A famous cigarette billboard pictures a curly-headed, bronze-faced, muscular macho with a cigarette hanging out the side of his mouth. The sign says, “Where a man belongs.” That is a lie. Where a man belongs is at the bedside of his children, leading in devotion and prayer. Where a man belongs is leading his family to the house of God. Where a man belongs is up early and alone with God seeking vision and direction for his family.

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Leading the Home

In Guys,Soul Food on February 1, 2012 by The Spillover

Here are a few good quotes from Doug Wilson at the God, Ministry and Manhood conference for pastors, on the topic of leading the home:

“The way we image the Father is to be open-handed and generous in all that we have.”

“Masculinity is the glad assumption of sacrificial responsibility.”

“If you want to preach the gospel to your wife and to your children, then die.”

“Fathers are speaking about God the Father constantly. They have no option to shut up.”

“Begin with gospel, walk in the gospel, end with the gospel.”