Feb 6, 2015

Headlines on gender and sanctity of life issues: what's our response?

An online conversation with an acquaintance last week and two headlines I came across this morning brought hazy remembrances of two quotes to mind that I had to go look up:

“If I profess, with the loudest voice and the clearest exposition, every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christianity. Where the battle rages the loyalty of the soldier is proved; and to be steady on all the battle-field besides is mere flight and disgrace to him if he flinches at that one point.” - Commonly attributed to Martin Luther
"Tell me what the world is saying today, and I'll tell you what the church will be saying in seven years." - Francis Schaeffer

The conversation I had (that began with a short comment I made on a friend's facebook post) turned into a debate over the merit (or lack thereof) of a proposed updated sex education curriculum for Ontario schools. (If you do some reading on this, you'll find out the updated curriculum could include such things as having kindergartners question their gender.)

The first headline I came across this morning announced an Ontario school board's aim to "eliminate non-inclusive terms - like 'husband and wife' or 'mother and father'."

The second headline announced Canada's supreme court ruling to allow physician-assisted suicide. From the article: "The court has given federal and provincial governments 12 months to craft legislation to respond to the ruling; the ban on doctor-assisted suicide stands until then. If the government doesn't write a new law, the court's exemption for physicians will stand."

What do the opinions expressed in the first conversation (in support of the proposed curriculum changes) and these two news headlines share in common?  As I washed dishes after lunch and thought about it, I realized the connecting underlying root: each decision or belief represents a questioning or denial of who, and what, our Creator has made us to be.

Although it's true that many in our culture deny the very existence of a Creator and therefore dismiss any discussion of how He has created us to function and why, we still have a crucial responsibility as believers to be able to address these issues and be prepared to answer the questions being asked. Through Scripture, we've been entrusted with truth - how well do we know it? How clearly can we articulate it? 

As a mother, my immediate concern is to be able to share this truth with my children as they grow (and then to others around me as I have opportunity). I need to consider: what questions is the world asking, and what truth is it attacking? What might my kids question as they grow and interact with the world around them?

In relation to our personhood, there are questions about gender (does it matter, and why?) and sexuality (why does God place limitations and what is His good and intended purpose?) and the sanctity of human life (whether in the womb or on the deathbed).

I know what I believe Scripture teaches on these topics, but I feel the weight (with a little anxiety) of my inadequacies in being able to communicate well why I believe what I do at times.

The quote above from Francis Shaeffer  is, I believe, a wise warning to us all. Perhaps it doesn't precisely apply in that the church is headed towards accepting such clearly anti-biblical thinking - but still, there is a tendency to a slow and steady drift towards worldliness and a secular world view in both our individual lives and the life of the church if we are not watchful.

What do we do? How do we fight? I'm impressed with the need to study, to make good use of the sound teaching and helpful resources so easily available to us today. (The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood is one ministry that addresses many issues related to gender.)

But above all, may we be faithful in prayerfully turning to the Lord and His word, having our minds renewed as we seek to know Him and the truth He's revealed to us. He is wise, He has the answers, He delights in giving wisdom and ability to those who humbly ask and lean on Him.

This world will continue to surprise or dismay us with news headlines that oppose Who and what we stand for - but instead of being fearful or discouraged, let's see them as opportunities to better know our culture and prayerfully seek to be light in a dark world.

Jan 21, 2015

Craving spring, enjoying books, and a podcast recommendation.

All the cold weather we've been having has finally stirred up in me a yearning for spring. I crave to see stretches of green and new, growing things and to feel warm sun on my skin. Along with this I have a sudden desire to travel and see new places and run through the New Zealand hills...I've never been to New Zealand and actually have no idea why this thought has taken up residence in my imagination but just look at these images and I promise you'll want to join me!

But here we are, still in January, and I'm determined to make the most of this month. Taking today for what it is continues to be a learning process for me - I may wake up with a creative itch or the desire to be really productive or do something new, only to be met with the realities of sick children and a still-prevailing queasiness and a sudden explosion of laundry and dishes. This is life. And despite some of these small struggles or mundane things, I keep thinking there is nothing else I would rather be doing (the New Zealand hills came to mind again, but moving on): this building of the homelife and childhood of my wee people.

I'm finding us in a new stage - my firtborn is 26 months now and his desire for books (and ability to sit still for a story) continues to grow day by day. After way too many readings of Go Dog, Go and a few other favorites (of his) I decided we needed to forge into new territory and realized we haven't used the library faithfully since he was more into very short and to the point board books. So the two of us had a Saturday date at the library and I was reminded of the absolute wealth that is out there in children's books - no need to be going crazy with Dr. Seuss when there's such an abundance of beautifully illustrated, well written stories. (Not dismissing Dr Seuss, but there's a time and a place!)

I know I can tend to have so many ideals for how I want to raise our children - the things I want to do with them and teach them and cultivate in our home. A lot of these perhaps remain just that - ideals and not things I purposely work into our lives. But this is one thing that feels attainable right now - to read together. We can go to the library and bring home stacks of books and make time in our day for at least one snuggle session on the couch with a story or two. And when's a better time than when it's too cold to do anything else anyway!

On this topic, I'm recommending a podcast that I listened to this morning that made my heart beat a little faster because it casts such a beautiful vision of the value of books and building a culture of reading in the home during childhood:

On Living a Storyformed Life 

(And if you enjoy it there are many more podcasts from The Read Aloud Revival that you can find here.)

Jan 6, 2015

A third blessing and thoughts on family planning.

For those who don't know (although I mentioned morning sickness in my last post), we're expecting our third baby this July. Joshua's birthday is at the end of November so we'll have three under three, all before celebrating four years of marriage!

When we found out we were expecting again a month ago (we found out a bit later - apparently I must have been distracted by two somethings this time around?) we were immediately excited and joyful. We love our babies, so of course! My other thoughts after were wait can I do this and will people think we're crazy and darn I just started wearing my pre-pregnancy jeans last week but back to the stretch band drawing board...and other such vain and selfish things.

To back up a moment, with our first two babies only sixteen months apart, the tentative plan was to have at least a two year gap before the next. I was looking at enjoying these two and getting into shape again and experiencing full, uninterrupted nights of sleep. But something began to shift in our hearts, particularly my husband's. He has one brother and even after marrying me (the second oldest of seven), having a large family was not on his radar. He was open to more but would be happy with two or three. But over the last few months I think God was changing his heart and preparing both of us to be open to another child sooner if that was His will. Which apparently was, as evidenced by my growing and queasy stomach.

And this matter of children and God's will brings me to the thing I've been pondering and questioning for some time - how should we, as Christians, view children and family planning?

I have no thought of judging others or coming up with concrete rules and stances, but I'm naturally a curious person and this topic is one I haven't yet been able to settle in my mind.

Much of what I've read on the pro let God control your family size side comes from individuals or ministries that tend to be legalistic in several other areas that I believe God gives us freedom in (although requiring much wisdom). On the other hand, arguments I've seen (from respected Christians) for the God expects us to use wisdom and purposely limit our family size side just don't satisfy me or strike me as soundly rooted in Scripture.

I haven't come to a conclusion yet - I just question Christian culture that agrees that children are a blessing and that we should trust God but somehow the sum of these truths is to decide for ourselves how many are a blessing?

Aren't we told that God is the one who opens and closes the womb? Is the Sovereign one not to be trusted to close it if that is best? Is this idea of limiting children seen anywhere in Scripture (even implicitly)?

Again, I'm not judging those who have come to a different conclusion, only trying to wrestle this one out in my own heart.

Any thoughts and perspectives on this topic - whether you're married or have children yet or not - would be most welcome!

Jan 2, 2015

Blogging and my new year's day.

I've written one post in the last three months. One. I feel like there is so much dust to blow off around here a can of lemon pledge might not even suffice. On the other hand, while scrubbing bathrooms has never been my thing, I do find dusting therapeutic.

So, here I am. My sister-in-law was just writing about questioning her blogging - whether to continue and wondering about the value of writing even for a very limited audience. I feel the same way at times but my conclusion for now is to leave this blog up and write when I can and when inspiration hits and not worry about it other than that. There are a few of you that I enjoy connecting with on here or on your blogs and hopefully you get the same enjoyment when I do get around to posting!

Perhaps it's the new year that gave me the nudge to get on here and type a few paragraphs. Normally for me, January 1st is a very important day. I always wake up with hope and excitement in my heart because it's a new year and anything is possible! The list-making-lover in me delights in getting out a fresh notebook and planning and thinking...and of course an hour or so is set aside for good coffee and an open Bible and prayer. You've got to feel accomplished and get all your ducks in a row because it's the first day in a new year people and you don't want to mess this one up.

Do you want to know what my January 1st looked like this year? I will tell you: it looked like a very messy house. (How did practically every dish get dirtied and why is every toy my children own scattered across the not-visible area rug?) It looked like an early morning wake-up call and "morning" sickness all day and pajamas and crazy hair and lying on the couch with a baby on top of me and a toddler poking my face with one of the plastic tools from his new set. It looked like grumpiness and annoyance and tiredness and (inward) complaining.

Thankfully towards evening I felt a little better and put on a cd of Amy Carmichael's poems set to music while I made dinner for myself and the kids (Loris had to work late).  It was just what I needed, bringing deep encouragement and thankfulness and a new perspective.

By the end of the day, I had no lists, no plans, no real feeling of accomplishment. But one thought was clear to me: how much in need I am of Christ. I can't accomplish anything of true, lasting value without Him. I can't be the wife and mom and friend He calls me to be. Any close evaluation of myself only reveals my many weaknesses and sin.

While not appealing to my fleshly desires of order and having everything under control, perhaps this is the best place for me to be - to begin this new year not feeling that confident in myself but instead looking to and clinging to Christ.