Wednesday, August 21, 2013

All Around the Web - August 21, 2013

Carl Trueman - Pornography: The New Normal

What really struck me as interesting was the fact that all three writers, including not one but two in The Spectator, that most conservative of British organs, simply assumed that pornography is harmless and that, so it seemed, on the grounds that everybody is indulging in it these days, even women.

I have never been convinced by the Madonna-Paglia argument that pornography liberates and empowers women; but one does not have to agree with that argument to see that pornography has been normalized in society.  When one reflects on this, it is hardly surprising: the detachment of sexual gratification from committed, monogamous heterosexual relationships happened a long time ago.  We are now at a point where someone who does believe that sex is exclusively reserved for such a context is portrayed as sexually repressed and socially retarded in popular culture and decried as a hate-filled bigot by the political media.  Further, there has been a radical abolition of the distinction between the public and the private, fuelled by everything from twitter to reality television.   If sex is primarily for personal pleasure and there is no boundary between the public and private, then the acceptance of pornography as normal, harmless diversion is hardly an unexpected development.  Indeed, those Christians who feel a compulsive need to tweet their every private thought and to live their lives as a public performance might do well to reflect on the possibility of a connection between that type of behaviour and the growing social acceptance of pornography.

Internet pornography is probably the number one pastoral problem in the world today.  I wonder if it is set to become yet more so: as the social shame dimension passes away, it will be harder to maintain discipline on this issue.  The Christian church is currently mesmerized by developments relative to sexuality, not least because these development are couched in the rhetoric of civil rights and have serious legal implications. I wonder if a more serious and lethal internal issue for the church will actually turn out to be pornography.   Holding the line on this will probably not come with direct legal and financial penalties attached; but when even The Spectator carries not one but two articles in a single week which assume the harmless normality of porn consumption, the pastoral challenge of preaching and maintaining basic sexual purity in the church is set to escalate beyond our wildest nightmares
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Townhall - Culture Challenge of the Week: Anonymous Fatherhood

“Wendy” is a donor-conceived person, the child of an anonymous sperm donor and her mother.
If her father was like most sperm donors, he was likely a student seeking extra cash -- for books, beer, or “stuff.” After minimal paperwork at a fertility center, he would have been assigned a number, given a private room, supplied with porn, and then masturbated into a paper cup. Trading his sperm for a few bucks, he would leave. Done. Over.

Except that his fifteen minutes of utilitarian, well-paid pleasure produced a real person, one who might long to know him. As one donor-conceived woman wrote, “I often wonder who you are…I often wonder who I am. My family tree is severed in two -- I am denied your half, its branches rich and strong with stories I will never be told.”

The missing “half” causes a great deal of anguish -- a loss our society is only now beginning to appreciate. It’s worth asking the question: Don’t all children have a right to know something about their fathers?

According to the report, “My Daddy’s Name is Donor,” as many as 65% of “donor offspring” feel that “My sperm donor is half of who I am.” Nearly half of all donor-conceived children are “bothered” by the circumstances of their creation and think about it often. The study, which examined the well-being of young adults conceived through sperm donation, reports that these young adults express frequent anxiety over their origins and identity, recoil at the idea that money was involved in their conception, and wonder about relationships with their biological father and unknown half-siblings.


John Stonestreet - State of Ignorance

The 2013 survey is out, and the news isn’t good, especially for those of us who value religious freedom.

When asked to name the most important freedom, nearly half of those surveyed replied “freedom of speech.” This isn’t surprising, but the gap between numbers one and two on the list is.

“Freedom of religion” came in second, but was cited by only 10 percent of those surveyed. And that’s as good as it gets for religious freedom in this survey. Once the survey went from generalities to specifics, the results got worse, a lot worse, and in a hurry.

For instance, 62 percent of those surveyed agree that “if a religiously affiliated group receives government funding, then the government should be able to require the group to provide health care benefits to same-sex partners of employees, even if the religious group opposes same-sex marriages or partners.” 

Not surprisingly, a higher percentage of those aged 18-to-30 agree with the position.


Joe Carter - 9 Things You Should Know About Human Trafficking |

2. There are more slaves today than were seized from Africa in four centuries of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. In fact, there are more slaves in the world today than at any other point in human history, with an estimated 21 million in bondage across the globe.

3. For most of human history slaves were expensive, the average cost being around the equivalent of $40,000. Today, the average slave costs around $90. A 2003 study in the Netherlands found that, on average, a single sex slave earned her pimp at least $250,000 a year.

4. Trafficking in persons is estimated to be one of the top-grossing criminal industries in the world (behind illegal drugs and arms trafficking), with traffickers profiting an estimated $32 billion every year.


The Cripple Gate - 7 reasons for the death of Sunday evening worship
  1. Some churches developed a seeker-sensitive approach, where the commitment of two services was seen as a hindrance to outreach. Many churches were planted as part of this seeker-sensitive wave, and never had the Sunday night service to begin with.
  2.  Some developed a negative view of preaching, which led to the attitude of “why would we need another sermon? Shouldn’t we be in the community?
  3. One of the most common reasons I heard from churches for dropping their Sunday evening service was to launch community groups or home Bible studies. By stopping Sunday evening corporate gatherings, they could direct everyone to home Bible studies and increase the shepherding dynamic of the church.
  4. For many pastors, the pressure of a professionalized sermon became too great to deliver twice in a week. With the rise of the rock-star pastors of the early 2000’s, I know many pastors who felt like they needed to spend 20 hours in sermon prep if they wanted to really be faithful to preaching. Well, obviously that is something that can’t be done twice a week (at least not without abandoning every other responsibility you have!), and the Sunday evening sermon is what got voted off the island.
  5. Quite a few churches gave me a reason that I hadn’t thought of before: they began to focus on growing Sunday morning services, so they added services there, or they even added a Saturday night service. Many churches added a contemporary service Sunday morning, and when they went from one to two services there, they simply dropped their evening service. Some churches added satellite campuses, and with that it became too much to have a Sunday night service that was different from Sunday morning. Where would they do it? At all their campuses? What about the music? Plus, the amount of volunteer hours it took to have multiple Sunday morning services, plus a Saturday night service or satellite services, and it became too taxing to get everyone back on Sunday night for something different.
  6. When you combine the rock-star pastors with more services on Sunday mornings, people began driving further and further to go to a church that fit what they were looking for, and this had an adverse affection Sunday evenings (pointed out by this excellent article on patheos). It was one thing to go 10 minutes back to church Sunday evening, but through the 90′s and early 2000′s, many churches saw their attenders living 30-45 minutes away, and it was just too much to have them (and their families) make that drive more than once a day.
  7. But the number one reason churches gave me (in my very unofficial survey) for dropping Sunday night services… they wanted to devote the evening for family time. In previous generations, Saturday was for family, and Sunday was for corporate worship. But sports began to eat up more and more of Saturday, so family time got bumped to Sunday, and it appears that it edged out that worship service. If you are running all around for sports on Saturday, Sunday after church really became the only time all week that your family got to spend together, and–after all–churches are in favor of stronger families, so the worship service had to go.

The Blaze - Jay Leno’s Candid Remarks About His Personal Political Views




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