Morning Roundup 02/14/13: Virginity Isn't Our Holy Grail; Election Is for Everyone; Getting Unstuck; Writing a Worship Song
The christian interwebs have been a abuzz in conversation about virginity-- some helpful, much unhelpful. The CT women's blog weighs in.
With all the emphasis on virginity as virtue's Holy Grail, if a Christian woman isn't a virgin when she marries, she's made to feel that she has somehow disqualified herself from God's greatest blessings and callings.
That's how Sarah Bessey explains the unfortunate subtext of much of the purity speak that is happening in our churches in her recent post "I Am Damaged Goods."
"In the face of our sexually dysfunctional culture, the church longs to stand as an outpost of God's ways of love and marriage, purity and wholeness," she wrote. "And yet we twist that until we treat someone like me... as if our value and worth was tied up in our virginity."
Implicit in what I'm reading about purity from Bessey, and a host of other women, such as Elizabeth Esther, Rachel Held Evans, and Carolyn Custis James, is a broad concern over how the church handles and presents God's teachings on sexual sin. This topic matters a great deal, considering that nearly 80 percent of self-proclaimed Christians are having sex before they are married.
The church has been pushing purity standards for ages. Esther refers to the shame she carried with her as a virgin into her marriage because she'd kissed a couple of boys before her husband and because she had masturbated. Esther would argue that the church's restrictions are becoming more rigorous, and by outlining its own capricious rules, the Church has inevitably constructed a "new and improved virginity."
But is there such a thing as hyper-purity, a sexual standard more rigorous than God's? Referring back to Jesus' words in the Sermon on the Mount, where he insists that lust is equivalent to adultery (Matt. 5:27-30), I'm not so sure. God's purity standard is effectively impossible to meet.
I'm always fascinated when some people say they don't believe in election. The word is in the Bible. Not believing in election is biblical error, not a difference of opinion. The question is HOW does God elect. Arminian Roger Olson explains.
Election Is for Everyone -- Roger Olson
Without doubt that concept of the doctrine of election has become popular among Christians. After all, we Americans prize our right and freedom to vote. But is that what Scripture means by election? Is the gospel that God votes for our salvation, Satan votes against it, and we--individually, freely--cast the vote that decides our eternal destiny?
Probably not. Some biblical scholars and theologians would say, "Definitely not!" It does seem to trivialize the concept of election and especially God's sovereignty in our salvation. On the other hand, there may be some truth in this way of conceiving the issue, even if it does not do justice to the profundity of the biblical doctrine of election.
Unfortunately, the "doctrine of election" has come to be associated especially, even uniquely, with one particular branch of Christian theology--the one people know as "Reformed." It descends from the Swiss Reformation of the 16th century and most notably from the French reformer John Calvin, who lived in and spiritually led the Swiss city Geneva. Too often, "election" is identified as the distinctive doctrine of Calvinism--as if no other branch of Christianity believes in it.
In fact, it would be impossible to be a Bible-believing Christian without affirming God's electing grace and having a doctrine of election. The same could be said about predestination, often thought of as a synonym for election. The Bible is filled with references to God's choice of people, both individuals and groups. Abraham was not just "called" by God but also "chosen" or "elected" to be the father of God's "chosen people," God's elect nation of Israel (Gen. 12:1-3; Isa. 45:4). The church is the elect of God, chosen for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:5). Paul was clearly chosen by God for apostleship (Acts 9).
It would be no stretch of truth to say that God's election of people is central to the biblical message, to the gospel. And it can safely be said that people's election is God's grace, not human achievement. Nowhere does the Bible even hint that people elect themselves.
Tony Morgan with another helpful article.
There are three types of leadership required in any organization. There's the visionary. Someone has to cast a compelling vision for a preferred future. There's the manager. That's the person that gets tasks done through other people. They execute the plan. Then there's the strategist. The strategist figures out how the vision will be accomplished and makes sure the structure is in place to accomplish that purpose.
We hear a lot about vision and management. Very little is shared about developing good strategy. Recently, I finished reading The Strategist: Be the Leader Your Business Needs by Cynthia Montgomery. I've pulled some of the highlights from my reading to develop this list of principles to help you improve your strategic approach.
1. A clear, compelling vision is not enough.
2. You have to be distinctive.
3. Determine what's important today.
4. Don't forget the structure.
5. Everyone needs to watch the scoreboard.
6. Big vision requires change.
7. Big vision requires action.
8. You can't make everyone happy.
9. Your strategy will must change.
And, from the humor department, here is a video on how to write a worship song!