Are Vasectomy Parties Wrong?

viThe new parenting trend is not to parent. As the new slogan goes, “Cats, Not Brats.” Increasingly, husbands and wives are celebrating being ‘child-free.’ These couples are posting child-free announcement on social media, are hosting vasectomy parties, and are asking their friends to help them name their new boat. In short, couples have declared themselves free from the traditional family narrative.  As their Pinterest boards make clear, they have left the narrow road of societal expectations and are seeking to celebrate a narrative that is indicative of their experiences. And now, it’s cool to employ ‘birth announcements’ to celebrate the arrival of our new car coming in at 3,460 lbs.

As Christians, we should be deeply troubled by this trend. Our God values and loves children. And he designed marriage to be a place where children could be created, loved, and discipled. As John Piper says,

Marriage is for making children. Yes. But not absolutely. Absolutely marriage is for making children followers of Jesus.

Couples can have good and healthy marriages without having biological kids. But no couple should want to be kid free. Even couples that do not have their own biological kids should be diligently seeking for ways to reach and care for the next generation by coaching, helping with nursery, or participating in foster care. As Christian couples, we must not flee from the presence of children. We must embrace them as Jesus did.

And such an embrace is actually quite natural. Our whole understanding of the empirical and spiritual world is built upon the ideas of marriage, birth, and family. Christ was born. And we are to called to embrace Christ through rebirth. To be human, we have to work within this frame. Kids are not something we can simply write out of the human experience.

And the conversation around vasectomy parties makes this fact abundantly clear. To celebrate their childlessness, couples have to employ child rearing terms on their Instagram feeds. They talk of birthing businesses, of taking family photos with their dog, and of vasectomy reveals. To have a meaningful discourse with their neighbors, these trendy couples have to work within the bounds of nature. Every person celebrating their sterilization was born and raised. And their friends and neighbors also share this experience. To be human is to be born and raised. For this reason, Jesus came into the world as a baby. He did not appear as an adult. No one enters the world fully grown. At the end of the day, birth is not a societal construction. It is a biological reality within which we all live, move, and share.

We cannot escape the world of babies. But at the same time, we must recognize that true life is not found in deliver rooms. Nicodemus could not reenter his mother’s womb (John 3:4-5). True life is found in Christ by being born of the Holy Spirit.

Couples that seek to escape the burdens of child rearing so that can celebrate sex, homes ‘filled with sharp furniture,’ and increased spending power will be unable to find true life in being child-free. Instead of building our narratives around our view of babies, we need to return to the narrative of the Scriptures. We need to realize that true meaning and joy are found in Jesus. And as we do, we will find the ability to value both birth and our adult lives without making either of them into our means of salvation.

Kids’ Ministry Needs Social Media?

Technolgy blogDo you speak social media? If you don’t know what the question means or answer it in the negative, your church may have a problem. And your kids’ ministry mostly likely has a problem.

At the end of 2015, only 17% of people between the ages of 18-24 and only 21% of people between the ages of 25-34 regularly read a newspaper. In fact, only 20% of all Americas use newspapers to access the news. Moreover, only 38% of people between the ages of 55-64 daily read a newspaper every day.

What do these stats mean? They are telling us that newspapers and magazines are no longer the driving force shaping the worldview of our congregations.

People are going digital. According to a pew research study, 62% of US adults access some news through social media. And 38% of Americans access news primarily through the web and social media. When it comes to millennial moms, (those between the ages of 18-34) 99% of them are on Facebook. Eighty-six percent use social media to influence others. And 87% percent of them turn to social media when looking for parenting advice and tips. In short, social media is increasingly the largest force shaping the American Culture. If our church wants to reach people, we must speak the language of social media. We must be willing to go where our moms are.

woman free smart phoneAnd we have the freedom to go digital. Smart phones are not evil. Facebook is not destroying America. Do people with sinful hearts misuse technology? Yes, and yes! But the technology is not the problem; the people are. We need to address the people instead of attacking the media platforms. We need to use social media to reach people misusing social media. If we draw a line in the sand over technology, we will undoubtedly cut ourselves off from the next generation.

Thankfully, we don’t have to do anything so drastic. Because social media is cheap and easy to access every church can have a platform. As the local church, we can fill Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter feeds with helpful resources. We can promote events through pictures, we can share helpful articles, and we can create our own resources by producing videos, blogs, and podcasts. The Bible is still powerful today, offering hope to all. We just have to be willing to go where the people are.

I still believe that the preached word is still the most effectively tool in the church’s arsenal (closely followed by discipleship). We still need to meet together to worship the one true God (Heb. 10:25). But we must understand that our church members will not wait till Sunday morning or Wednesday night to have their questions answered. They are going to pull out their smart phones and flip open their laptops. And when they do, will they find anything from their church? Are we ready to speak into their lives?

Stop, Wait…Then Post: 3 Social Media Rules To Live By

stop think Post blogWe are the press. We can instantly write editorials on our blogs, comment on tragedies via twitter, and document triumphs on Instagram. With a smartphone and a few clicks, we can do in seconds what used to take newsroom hours to accomplish. We can communicate with the world more effectively than ever before.

In short, social media is amazing.  When used well, Christians can influence millions for the gospel with 124 characters and a picture. But the instantaneous nature of social media also brings great danger. What used to be limited to an ugly letter that never got sent can now become world news thanks to Facebook and Instagram. With few clicks, we can attack celebrities, businesses, and even our closest friends. In a matter of seconds, we can destroy relationships, compromise our faith, and divide our church.

But social media doesn’t have to be deadly. If we submit our social media life to the Scriptures we can find a better way forward. Admittedly, the Bible doesn’t say anything about social media. But, it says a lot about human speech and human interactions. In James 1:19-21, we read:

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls.

3 Rules

1. Post slowly. While there is nothing wrong with using social media to inform our opinions, we must always be slow to speak. We must resist the impulse to comment on everything everywhere. Before we post, comment, and tweet let’s ask ourselves these questions: “Will my post offend my friends and coworkers; will my comments glorify God; will anyone be encouraged by my interaction?” If the answer is no, then we don’t post. And if you are posting simply to correct someone, don’t. No one asked you be their teacher. And a loving rebuke should always be delivered in person (Matt. 18). If you don’t have someone’s phone number, let it go. A couple of years ago, I tried to teach a former acquaintance how to be a better Christian via his Facebook wall. After a few days of arguments, he defriended me. We will not win a brother from a distance. Besides, God can mature people without our witty corrections. Let’s be slow to post.

2. Don’t post in anger. Remember that the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. If we are angry (even rightfully so – which doesn’t happen often), let’s take our cause to God. We often turn to social media because we don’t want to submit to God and to divine justice. We want instant gratification. Instead of making God our refuge, we find comfort in letting theman-791049_1920 world know that Bobby is a jerk. We find comfort in saying, “I don’t usually callout people, But…” And as the number of like’s goes up, we feel justified.  But we’ve not won Bobby. We’ve not helped him get right with God or even grown in our faith. Our anger has only made the relationship worse. Our gossip never produces their holiness. The next time we are angry, let’s put down our phones, let’s stay away from our laptops, and let’s turn off our tablets. Let’s ask God to show us the cause of our anger. Let’s spend time toppling our idols instead of murdering others on social media. And if we have been mistreated, let’s trust God to vindicate the righteous.

3. Speak the truth with love. Those who use social media well will direct people to others. Instead of filling our pages with ugly comments, lets praise others. Let’s post things that have encouraged our souls and that will encourage others. Let’s rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. Let’s daily spend time in the word and let the Holy spirit inform what we tweet, video, and post instead of our emotions.

I mention the above rules not because you need them. I need them. My heart is wicked and can be persuaded to post all kinds of dumb and hurtful things in cyberspace. I still regularly have police my tweets with the above rules.  Although no one can perfectly master their social feed, (we can never perfectly master our hearts this side of heaven) we can become more like Christ each day. In turn, our use of social media presence can improve!