Monthly Archives: March 2014

Oprah vs. The Old Testament (a quiz)

Which of these quotes come from Oprah and which from the Old Testament?  (Answers at bottom)
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1. All my enemies will be filled with fear and shame. They will be sorry when disgrace suddenly comes on them.

2. Don’t withhold good from those who deserve it, when it’s in your power to help them…

3. The key is not to worry about being successful, but to instead work toward being significant…

4. Don’t lose sight of common sense and discernment. Hang on to them… They are like jewels on a necklace.

5. It’s not failure if you enjoyed the process.

6. What God intended for you goes far beyond anything you can imagine.

7. Whatever else you do, develop good judgment. If you prize wisdom, she will make you great. Embrace her, and she will honor you.

8. God helps people who want to do right, so he will protect me… He always condemns evil. If the wicked will not change, then God is ready to punish them.

9. The right to choose your own path is a sacred privilege. Use it. Dwell in possibility.

10. If you want to accomplish the goals of your life, you have to begin with the spirit.

11. Follow your instincts. That’s where true wisdom manifests itself.

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Answers:  

1. All my enemies will be filled with fear and shame. They will be sorry when disgrace suddenly comes on them. (Psalm 6:10)

2. Don’t withhold good from those who deserve it, when it’s in your power to help them…(Proverbs 3:27)

3. The key is not to worry about being successful, but to instead work toward being significant… (Oprah)  

4. Don’t lose sight of common sense and discernment. Hang on to them… They are like jewels on a necklace. (Proverbs 3:21, 22)

5. It’s not failure if you enjoyed the process. (Oprah)

 

6. What God intended for you goes far beyond anything you can imagine. (Oprah)

7. Whatever else you do, develop good judgment. If you prize wisdom, she will make you great. Embrace her, and she will honor you. (Proverbs 4:7,8)

 

8. God helps people who want to do right, so he will protect me… He always condemns evil. If the wicked will not change, then God is ready to punish them. (Psalm 7:10-12)

 

9. The right to choose your own path is a sacred privilege. Use it. Dwell in possibility. (Oprah)

10. If you want to accomplish the goals of your life, you have to begin with the spirit. (Oprah)

11. Follow your instincts. That’s where true wisdom manifests itself. (Oprah)

 

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The Polygamists Will Be Next!

You’ve heard the slippery slope argument applied to the gay marriage debate: If we legalize marriage between homosexuals, then the polygamists will be demanding their “rights,” too! (And why shouldn’t they? If all you need to make a valid marriage is love and consent, then of course polygamy should be recognized.)

But, what strikes me as interesting is the way everybody simply assumes polygamy is just as immoral as homosexuality.  The slippery slope could lead to incest or bestiality… But, is polygamy another example of a lewd sexual practice like these?

Before you try to make the Bible say what it may not, consider that your very monogamous culture may have influenced your perception a bit…

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I’ve been chewing on this topic for about a year, so I have a lot I could share. But, rather than hit you with about 50 pages of ideas, I’ll give you the bullet point version. (And maybe we can discuss further in the comments section?)

God never prohibits polygamy in the Bible. In the New Testament, churches are instructed to elect leaders with only one wife. And we know that men with multiple wives often dealt with extra problems. So, you could make an argument that monogamy is ideal. But polygamy, at the very least, is given allowance.

Polygamy still makes economic sense in many places in the world. If a wealthy man wants to love and care for more than one woman in a country where women find it difficult to care for themselves, then a polygamous relationship could be beneficial to everyone. Also, when women significantly outnumber men, they may be happy to “share” a spouse (rather than go without).

-We are told that marriage symbolizes Christ and the Church. But a marriage consisting of one husband (Christ) and several “church members” wouldn’t take away from that analogy. Furthermore, a man can love multiple women, much as parents love multiple children. But it would be difficult for a wife to serve/obey multiple husbands.  Thus, I’m of the opinion that the Bible allows for Polygyny (multiple wives) but NOT polyandry (multiple husbands).

-Adding to the bullet above, the Old Testament says if any sexual activity takes place between a man and a married WOMAN, then both lovers must be put to death. This is adultery. But, men are given instructions for how to behave if they take additional wives. (Ex. 21:10) Also, Exodus 22 says a man who sleeps with a virgin–essentially–just bought himself another wife. This underscores my belief that multiple wives are tolerable but multiple husbands never are.

So…how might polygamy relate to American culture?

-I’d argue: Most of society practices polygamy already. It’s very common for people to have multiple sexual partners in their life time; they create emotional and spiritual bonds with a person, with no practical difference from a marriage relationship. But then they pick up and do it again with the next lover. We are a polygamous culture…only, without the protection, respect, and stability which marriage is supposed to bring to the picture. We’re reaping the results of everything negative about polygamy, and nothing potentially positive…

I personally don’t think of polygamy as either “good” or “bad.” It’s neutral. So, I would encourage Americans–especially missionaries–not to automatically lump polygamy into the same category of sexual sin as homosexuality and adultery. If it’s practiced widely in a culture, we need to ask ourselves if that’s really a PROBLEM…and we’d have a hard time arguing that it is.  That said, there really isn’t an economic reason for a man to take several wives in the United States. And, since it complicates things (and Paul says the best situation is for each husband to have his own wife and vice versa), I don’t think we should encourage fellow Americans to practice it.

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Interesting topic, huh? Do you have any thoughts to share on polygamy?

Here are some Bible verses about polygamy.

How to Talk to Little Girls–A Response

If there’s one problem our society has been tackling full-force the last few years, it is the one of “Real Beauty.”  Everywhere I go, I hear talk about self-esteem, body image disorders, modesty/vanity, and other sub-topics within the Beauty Conversation.  We often hear how tragic it is that our culture is “obsessed with physical appearance.” But I have to wonder:

Are Westerners really obsessed with beauty (any more than other people groups)? Or are we identifying problems that don’t exist…and, thereby, causing some?

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Case Study:  How to Talk to Little Girls

Here’s an excerpt from an article I discovered a few months ago.

“I always bite my tongue when I meet little girls, restraining myself from my first impulse, which is to tell them how darn cute/ pretty/ beautiful/ well-dressed/ well-manicured/ well-coiffed they are. [Even though] they are so darling, I want to burst when I see them… This week ABC news reported that nearly half of all three-to-six-year-old girls worry about being fat. …Fifteen to eighteen percent of girls under twelve now wear mascara, eyeliner and lipstick regularly; eating disorders are up and self-esteem is down; and twenty-five percent of young American women would rather win America’s next top model than the Nobel Peace Prize.”

So let me summarize. Telling little girls they look adorable will damage them. The root of our problems with self-image (including full-blown psyche disorders) is too many compliments. The author actually said, “A Miami mom just died from cosmetic surgery, leaving behind two teenagers. This keeps happening…”

Are you kidding me?!  No, she really believes this is a matter of life or death, and THAT’S the thing about our cultural dialog on beauty that I want to examine. This article is just one example of a message being shared relentlessly in our culture: be careful of the unintended consequences of talking to girls about their looks! We are positively unreasonable when it comes to how we “handle” appearance–as if our children are mental illness time bombs waiting to explode.

I have an idea. Just TELL little girls when they look cute, for Heaven’s Sake!

Why are we so prone to over-thinking everything related to girls and their self-esteem? Teachers, bloggers, and producers of children’s television are downright petrified they’re going to cause an eating disorder…

…by telling Susie, “You look adorable” on Sunday morning.

And they want to make sure mommies are sufficiently petrified as well.

No, I don’t think so.

First of all, when meeting little girls (and little boys and adults, too) looks ARE important. Our appearance makes the very first impression. Specifically, others notice our eyes, then our teeth, then the rest of our body. Why resist telling our daughters the truth? Strangers notice how we look. So, when going for a job interview, or dressing for a party, or meeting someone new, we want to look our best.

At the very least, we try not to smear ourselves in Crayola marker and Oreo cookie.

We must teach our daughters that appearance matters because it DOES. (People of Walmart, anyone? That’s not the kind of approach to style I want her to have.) And if Little Susie has to endure ten minutes sitting on Mommy’s lap while getting buttoned, tied, and strapped into a bow, the least you can do is let her know it paid off.

“You look very sweet today, Suz!”
She then smiles and quietly mumbles, “Thank you.”
You really want us to STOP DOING THAT???

But, Amanda, you must have missed the seriousness of this issue. Children are worrying about being fat! Girls are being diagnosed with anorexia at a younger and younger age! Surely it’s due to the cultural obsession with a little girl’s looks!

I respectfully but thoroughly disagree, on the basis that looks are not an “obsession” unique to American culture. In every place in the world, looks matter. If anything, what makes us unique is the weird way we feel BAD for wanting to be attractive.  I don’t think ladies in India dare each other to go without Henna tattoos. Do tribal women in Africa (who usually shave their heads) wish they had the “strength” to grow out their hair and “love themselves” with a rat’s nest?  …maybe so, if Westerners show up and tell them it’s wrong to accept the beauty standards set by your culture?…

But, I digress. Back to America.

In my opinion, the only way a stranger’s compliments will damage a little girl’s psyche is if the only social interaction she gets is with strangers, who know nothing about her other than the way she looks. When a girl doesn’t have a stable system of intimate relationships, THEN I could see how she would become unhealthily concerned with the only thing that an acquaintance uses to identify her.

The only thing that matters to a stranger is how you look; but that’s only bad if you don’t know anybody other than strangers.

As far as my preschool-age daughter is concerned, she spends about .00001% of her time being met and admired physically by friendly people at the store, and the rest of the time, she hears from ME. We talk about her appearance first thing in the morning—and I tell her honestly whether she needs her hair brushed or a different pair of shoes, etc.

Or I say, “You look cute!”

Then we move on with the rest of our day. We sing songs and run around outside. (I’ll point out if she gets dirty.) We read books, eat meals, and chat endlessly about all things big and small. And when it’s time to run errands, we discuss her physical appearance once more, because—no—she can’t go to library in her undies, and—yes—I insist on at least wiping the spaghetti sauce from the corner of her mouth. I tell her our looks convey a message when we’re meeting new people. And I don’t care to convey, “We don’t know how to use pants or wash cloths.”

I submit for your consideration that physical compliments do not harm our little girls nearly as much as the belief that “the village” is responsible for raising them. I mean, if we let hundreds of people speak into their lives—people who don’t know them intimately—then, of course, they’ll become obsessed with what strangers see. But, if they spend enough time surrounded by loving, balanced (and rational) criticism, the approval of strangers only serves as the icing on the cake.

As far as babies who wear lipstick and eyeliner, once again, that’s a parenting fail, people. That has nothing to do with getting complimented by cashiers and bank-tellers. How about we put the makeup up high on a shelf and spend more time modeling a healthy attitude with our little girls?
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When I’m out in public with my daughter, go ahead and tell her she looks cute when you notice. It reinforces what I tell her at home. First impressions matter, and I want her to know when she makes a good one.

Don’t over think it! Give girls your honest opinion, and don’t worry about supposed long-term psychological effects. Seriously!

It’s my job and their father’s to make sure they understand that a stranger’s opinion isn’t the ONLY one that matters…

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Leave me a comment! I can’t very well dialog by myself!  😉

My Pledge

Sometimes the blogosphere gets ugly. It’s easy to remove the filter and start scream-typing at the computer, as if another human doesn’t sit on the other side. So, here are some things I pledge to keep in mind as I write…

I promise to treat you the way I want to be treated.  I want to be challenged. I want to be made (just a little) uncomfortable, and to consider things from a new perspective even when it’s difficult at first.  But I do NOT want to be attacked or treated as if I don’t have feelings. I want others to at least attempt understanding my perspective before criticizing my ideas. I will assume you want the same, and do my best to make sure you find those things here…

I promise to keep the atmosphere as pleasant as possible for everyone reading.  Most of the time, that will mean just watching what happens as conversations take place, and participating in the exchange. (I expect there will be disagreement, and that’s okay.)  But, occasionally, I may have to remove comments (and commenters) who strike me as troll-ish. I’ll ask myself, “What seems to be this person’s motivation?” and “Is it moving the dialog forward?”  If you start ranting and raving, mindlessly, I can’t let the comment stay.  Sorry.

I promise to remember you are someone God loves.  Sometimes love must be brave enough to say difficult things. (It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, as they say.)  But, love also softens the edges; it doesn’t cause unnecessary heartache. I promise to sprinkle my words with salt, whenever possible, because I love what God loves. And He loves you!