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September 20, 2012Culture

Morning Roundup - September 20, 2012

Trevin Wax gives some helpful principles for teaching children:

Why Little Kids Need Big Biblical Words -- Trevin Wax

I still remember the kids' team meeting for The Gospel Project where we looked through the list of Bible stories we were going to introduce to children. Session 5 was the story of Job, not a story you come across very often in typical children's Bibles.

The decision to tell kids - even preschoolers - the story of Job wasn't hard to make. We'd already decided that we wanted to challenge kids with The Gospel Project material. If we were doing a lesson on Obadiah, why not Job?

But how would we make the Christ connection? Would we really introduce a big word like "mediator" to 3- and 4-year-olds? Here's what we wanted to tell kids:

Job's suffering and his request for a mediator give us a glimpse of our Savior, Jesus. Neither Job nor Jesus experienced suffering because they sinned. Unlike Job, Jesus never questioned why He had to suffer. Jesus understood that we needed Him to pay the price for our sin and be our mediator before God.

I remember thinking about my daughter, Julia, as we had this conversation. She was three at the time. My wife and I were frequent fill-in teachers for Julia's preschool group in our church. I saw those cute, rambunctious kids in my mind as we discussed how to present the story of Job and the Christ connection.

The question came up, "Will a preschooler have a clue what we're talking about? How much of the story will they get?" After some good discussion, we decided they probably wouldn't understand it all.

So did we ditch the idea? No. Instead, we decided to introduce the word "mediator" to preschoolers. We would simplify the Christ-connections for preschoolers, and we'd make sure we explain what big words mean, but we would not shy away from a four-syllable word that helped point them to Christ.

Church Executive provides a helpful article on the church/ministerial housing allowance.

Challenge to Clergy Tax Break Clears Hurdle -- Church Executive

A ministerial housing allowance provision that saves U.S. ministers an estimated $1.2 billion annually in tax exemptions is unfair to other taxpayers not entitled to the same benefit, according to a 2011 lawsuit by the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

A Wisconsin judge has given a green light to a lawsuit challenging a federal law that exempts clergy from paying income taxes on the fair rental value of their homes.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb ruled Aug. 29 that the Madison, Wis.,-based Freedom From Religion Foundation has legal standing to challenge the constitutionality of a 1954 law that grants certain tax benefits to "ministers of the gospel."

The same group dropped a similar lawsuit in 2011 after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in another case that individuals can sue the government only if they are affected directly by a law and not just because they are taxpayers. The Freedom From Religion Foundation, which "advocates for the separation of church and state and educates on matters of non-theism," responded by changing its salary structure to include housing allowances, which employees cannot claim on their tax returns because they are not members of the clergy.

The plaintiffs contend that the law violates the First Amendment ban on establishing religion and the Fifth Amendment guaranteeing equal protection under the law. A press release called it "pure discrimination" for the government to give tax privileges to clergy that are denied to atheist leaders.

There was a huge amount of news about the Regenerus study on gay parenting. The media did a horrible job butchering and demonizing the study-- but now he has been vindicated. Vindication does not mean he got everything right (we cannot tell that yet, but this starts the process). Instead, he was indicated in that he was did a project with solid methods and results. Now, peer reviews look at the data, examine it in different ways, and may challenge the conclusions-- but I can assure you that they will be less likely to agree with Regnerus research publicly, even if they find the same answers. Every researched learned a lesson here-- disagreeing with the media and educational establishment.

Mark Regnerus Cleared Of Misconduct in Research Involving Gay Parents -- Christianity Today

The University of Texas at Austin has concluded its investigation of Mark Regnerus and declared the associate professor of sociology not guilty of research misconduct during his controversial study of children whose parents had same-sex relationships.

UT Austin research integrity officer Robert A. Peterson investigated eight charges against Regnerus made by freelance writer Scott Rosensweig (who writes under the byline Scott Rose) and found that "none of the allegations ... were substantiated."

From the university's perspective, the matter is now closed. Peterson explained that whether Regnerus's research conclusions are limited or flawed "should be left to debates that are currently underway in the academy and future research that validates or invalidates his findings."

The study in question, titled "How different are the adult children of parents who have same-sex relationships?" collected data from nearly 3000 adults. It found that "differences exist between children of parents who have had same-sex relationships and those with [heterosexual] married parents."

The study sparked outcry from many advocacy groups and academics. An audit by one editorial board member of Social Science Research, the journal which published Regnerus's study, concluded that the study should have been disqualified during the peer-review process.

Yet an influential group of social scientists--including Michael Emerson, Christian Smith, Rodney Stark, W. Bradford Wilcox, and Bradley Wright--issued a public statement defending Regnerus's study.

"We think that the Regnerus study, which is one of the first to rely on a large, random, and representative sample of children from parents who have experienced same-sex relationships, has helped to inform the ongoing scholarly and public conversation about same-sex families in America," wrote the group. ""As social scientists, our hope is that more such studies will be forthcoming shortly, and that future journalistic coverage of such studies, and this contentious topic, will be more civil, thorough, and thoughtful than has been the coverage of the new study by Professor Mark Regnerus."

An update from The Exchange.

How Do You Partner with Other Churches in Your City? -- David Gould

From a recent episode of The Exchange, David Gould demonstrates the importance of partnering with other churches in your city. You can see the full episode here.

Be sure to watch The Exchange every Tuesday at 2:00 p.m. CDT, right here at EdStetzer.com. On next week's episode, Andrew Peterson joins us to discuss worship and art and their place in the church.

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Morning Roundup - September 20, 2012