Canaans Rest

Canaan’s Rest represents a quiet place “set apart” for the purpose of hearing God's voice, growing in intimacy with the Lord, and being renewed in soul and spirit.

Month: April 2017

The Red Pill

“The Red Pill” is the title of a recent documentary by feminist Cassie Jaye.  “When I decided to make a film on the men’s rights,” she confessed, “I never anticipated questioning my feminist views.  But the more MRA’s [ men’s rights activists] I met, the more I felt compelled to remind myself why I was a feminist.”  The Red Pill metaphor comes from The Martix, in which Morpheus offers Neo the choice between a blue pill, which allow him to live in the comfortable fantasy world of the Matrix, or the red pill of harsh reality.

After discovering the manner in which men are discriminated against in our culture,  in such matters  as family courts, workplace accidents, criminal violence, drug addiction, unemployment and suicide, Ms. Jaye could no longer call herself a feminist.  She concludes, “For society to accept anything being said on behalf of women’s rights and then to shame any dialogue about men’ rights and call it hate speech, is precisely the problem.” Of course, there was opposition from the feminists, claiming that it was simply, “misogynistic propaganda.”

Camilla Paliga warns of this radical feminist perspective when she states, “….elite discourse about gender has become so nonsensical and removed from reality that rowdy outbreaks of resistance and rebellion are unsurprising.” Men are feeling left behind observes Owen Strachan. “They have been taught they have no innate call to leadership of home and church, and accordingly have lost the script for their lives.”  Men are realizing that  politically correct culture constrains free thought and speech, so they opting out of it.  But notes Strachan, “Men are disappearing, but they are not vanishing.  They are moving out of the mainstream, and into the shadow…. many men are angry, flailing, and dangerously volatile today.”

Men, we are not to live as victims in the present political climate, but rather in our true masculinity.  We need to take the “red pill,” of harsh reality, joining the spiritual awakening among men, taking responsible for our  inner story of pain and loss, thus allowing us to flourish in the gender wars.  Old school patriarchy is dead, but it certainly cannot be replaced by such a movement as #AllMenCan.  Why?  “When you try to prove you’re not a misogynist,” observed Denise C. McAllister, “you will become enslaved to women’s will and whims….You will never be able to do enough to prove that in the deep recesses of your heart you’re not what these women think you are – a sexist pig.”

I agree with Mark Walstrom when he says many men are angry, confused and depressed because they have lost their identities, resulting in the loss of soul. Instead of responding as victims in the gender wars, men are starting to come to grips with their own inner story, learning to deal with their soul life.  I share Walstrom’s perspective on  the  spiritual awakening among men, “The challenge many men are encountering on their path of spiritual awakening is how to integrate their more sensitive inner qualities into their way of living without losing touch with their masculine ‘warrior’ energy.  The goal, it seems, is not to become a sensitive, new-age guy but instead embrace one’s wholeness.”

Wholeness is found in our unique as men.  We declare with the Psalmist, “Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!  Your workmanship is marvelous – how well I know it” (Ps. 139:14 NLT).  In being shaped uniquely as men, it is imperative that we become aware of what is “under the hood,” that is in our soul life.  This calls for a new male sense of “consciousness” that is more then skin deep.

MTD

MTD stand for “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.”  Christian Smith  came up with  MTD in describing a pseudo religion that is replacing biblical Christianity with a pseudo-Christianity.  MTD has five basic tenets: 1) A God exists who created and orders the world and watches over human life on earth, 2) God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, 3) The goal of life is to be happy and feel good about oneself, 4) God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when he is needed to resolve a problem and 5) Good people go to heaven when they die.

The appeal of MTD one of improving one’s self-esteem and subjective happiness and getting along well with others. “America has lived a long time off its thin Christian veneer,” notes Smith, “[but] that is all finally being stripped away by the combination of mass consumer capitalism and liberal individualism.”  “Is the Christiainity we have been living…..a means of deeper conversion, or does it function as a vaccination against taking faith with the seriousness the Gospel demand,” wonders Rod Dreher.  MTD is dangerous to our spiritual health because it evades the necessity of Jesus’ substitutionary death for our sins.

The reality of  Good Friday, in stark contrast to MTD,  is vital in the soul care of men. We remember a God who suffered for us, freeing us from the bondages of our ingrained patterns of sin.  God enters our story and suffered.  As the prophet Isaiah foretold, “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him and by His stripes we are healed (Is. 53:5).  We face the temptation of emptying the cross of its power in “the cozy cultural religiosity” of our day, worshipping, “a God without wrath [who] brought men with sin not a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of Christ without a Cross” (Niebuhr).

The necessity of the cross is  central to the healing of our masculine souls.  Our help is found at the foot of the cross, where in trust, we look up and see Jesus bearing all of our sin and shame in his body. We have a concrete place to go with our guilt.   In surrender, repentance and forgiveness we find healing in the shadow of the cross. I might not be very articulate in my passion in bringing healing to the souls of men,  but I can continually point men to the foot of the cross.

Paul reminds us, “The Message that points to Christ on the cross seem like sheer silliness to those hellbent on destruction, but for those on the way of salvation it makes perfect sense.  This is the way God works, and most powerfully as it turns out.  It’s written, I’ll turn conventional wisdom on it head, I’ll expose so-called expert as crackpot” (I Cor 1:18-19 – Message).  Against much cultural wisdom, soul care is done in the shadow of the cross.

Fleming Rutledge points to the  necessity  of the cross in these words, “Forgiveness is not enough.  Belief in redemption is not enough.  Wishful thinking about the intrinsic goodness of every human being is not enough.  Inclusion is not a sufficiently inclusive message, nor does it deliver real justice.  Only a power independent of this world can overcome the grip of the Enemy of God’s purposes for his creation. [Thus] Jesus Christ….offered himself to be the condemned and rejected Righteous One…At the historical time and place of his inhuman and godless crucifixion, all the demonic Powers loosed in the world convened in Jerusalem and unleashed their forces upon the incarnate Son of God.”

The Vice President’s Wife

The Washington Post ran an article about Karen Pence, the wife of Vice President Mike Pence, noting the closeness of their relationship and quoting something Pence told The Hill in 2002 about his never eating alone with another woman or attending an event where alcohol was being served.  The exact quote was, “If there’s  alcohol being served and people are being loose, I want to have the best-looking brunette in the room standing next to me”

What ensued was a Twitter storm of  surprise, anger, and sarcasm to the Pence family rule.  Some compared it to Sharia Law while others said it was sexist.  One article suggested that Pence’s practice is “probably illegal.”  Mother Jones magazine attempted to plumb the depths of misogyny implicit in Pence’s actions in support of marital fidelity.  Emma Green thinks this incident, “shows how divided America has become about the fundamental claim embedded in the Pence family rule: that understandings of gender should guide the boundaries around people’s every interactions, and protecting a marriage should take precedence over all else, even if the way of doing it seems strange to some, and impose costs on other.”  Molly Hemingway maintains, “The dust-up shows how radically notions of gender divide American culture.”

So how are we to treat our wives?  I  want to share some practices I have learned  over the years in my marriage.  Men, we need to take the words of Jesus to heart, “‘Don’t go to bed with another’s spouse.’ But don’t think you’re preserved your virtue simply by staying out of bed.  Your heart can be corrupted by lust even quicker than your body.  Those leering looks you think nobody notice – they also corrupt”  (Matt 5:28 – Message).  Job declared, “I made a solemn pact with myself never to undress a girl with my eyes” ( Job 31:1 – Message). I like David French’s reminder, “Men and women were created to be together….Because of this powerful reality, when you put men and women together in intimate or intense situations, sexual relationships are inevitable.”

Here are a few tips from the old “Monk” in the northwoods.  First, avoid any compromising situation with other women, especially in being alone. Keep your wife informed about female associates.  Allow her to have her own “read out” on their character. Keep her informed about your activity throughout the day.  Secondly, never allow yourself to enjoy the flittering of another woman, especially if she has emotional needs.  You are not her savior.  Thirdly, ask the Lord to build a “wall of fire” around you, allowing you to be courteous with other women, but also communicating that you are off limits.

Fourthly, have eyes only for your wife.  She has super radar that detects if you have roaming eyes.  You can look, but don’t order.  Fifthly, when with another attractive woman do everything in your power to countenance her face, not any part of her body.  Sixthly, be courteous and respectful of your wife  in public, being aware of her presence with you at all times.  Seventhly, do the little things to honor her by opening the car door and holding her hand. Let her walk ahead of you.   Never, never, demean her in any way in public.

In private remember:  first, be infatuated with your wife. Tell her how wonderful you think she is.   Secondly, make her aware of being #1 in your life. Let her know how vital her companionship and friendship  is to you.   Thirdly, express genuine praise for your wife as a woman with her unique gifts and abilities.  Fourthly, never, never make comparisons with other women.  Fifthly, never take your relationship for granted. Sixthly, assure her you intend to grow old with her by your side.

March Madness Ad

Like men who read this blog, I have been taking in parts of March Madness.  My two teams Minnesota and Michigan State did not advance very far.  There have been some great games.  Many of the  ads directed toward men have not stood out in my opinion.  But there is a Cadillac ad that is both surprising and disturbing to me.  It states, “You can build a car or a Cadillac.’  To enhance this claim, the statement is made, “Why for the love of God build a sedan that goes 200 miles per hour.”  If you saw this ad, I hope you were shocked by the words as well.  If not, I write to bring your attention to what I think is happening – traditional Christian beliefs are now a safe target for advertisers, because the religious climate has changed in America.

Men, don’t fall asleep as  Madison Avenue attempts  to manipulate your sensitivities about behavior and  beliefs.   Remember advertising exist to persuade.  An article in the New York times observed, “In a perilous political climate…..some advertising agencies have decided to use their marketing acumen in service of advancing cultural and political causes, rather than selling products.”  To me, the Cadillac ad was crossing a line by using religious language to appeal to men.  As one ad executive noted, “Through communication, you can change the way people think, the way people feel.”

I would go so far as to say the ad was blasphemy, since it shows a lack of  reverence for the love of God.  It becomes  profane statement when religious language is used in a commercial  advertisement on national TV.  To mention “the love of God” while trying to sell a Cadillac, is a sacrilege, because it associates “the love of God” with buying a car.  This phrase has no place in advertising a car, except to possible shock some viewers.  Part of the value of the words is to get your attention by shocking your religious sensitivities.

I have been studying the prophets in an attempt to help me  discern what God has to say to our culture.  The prophets warn that we can not hide our true intentions from God.  What are the real intentions of the ad? “Woe to those who go to great depths to hide their plans from the Lord, who do their work in darkness and think, ‘Who sees us? Who will know?” (Isaiah 29:15).  The religious language in the ad shows how badly the public discourse has eroded in our nation.  Several years ago it would be unthinkable for advertising to talk about “the love of God” in a secular ad.  But now it is acceptable.   Isaiah warns us, “You were so confident and comfortable in your evil life, saying, ‘No one sees me.’  You thought you knew so much, had everything figured out. What delusion!  Smugly telling yourself, ‘I’m Number One.  There’s nobody but me'” (Isaiah 47:10 – Message).

Could it be that this ad is a kind of “spitting” in God’s face.  “And it’s not as if they don’t know better.  They know perfectly well they’re spitting in God’s face.  And they don’t care – worse, they hand out prize to those who do the worst things best! (Roman 1:32 – Message).  Doing such a thing, with willful intent is a sacrilege.

Men, we need to be vigilant as the religious language worsen in our nation.  Remember the third commandment, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain” (Ex. 20:7).  “God’s name and His character are inseparable.  Using His holy name lightly in a vain, empty manner is insulting and degrading” (Nelson Bible Dictionary).

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