So not every guy proposes with lip syncing, rolling cameras, and a choreographed entourage.
Yeah — so what if your Dad didn’t?
He just pulled that beat-up Volkswagon Rabbit of his over in front of Murray Reesor’s hundred acre farm right there where Grey Township meets Elma Township, pulled out a little red velvet box, and whispered it in the snowy dark: “Marry me?”“He didn’t even get down on one knee or anything?”
You boys ask it incredulous, like there’s some kind of manual for this kind of holy.
And I’ve got no qualms in telling you no. No, he didn’t even get down on one knee – it was just a box, a glint of gold in the dark, two hallowed words and a question mark.
I know. When you’ve watched a few dozen mastermind proposals on youtube, shared them with their rolling credits on Facebook, marvelling at how real romance has an imagination like that.
Can I tell you something, sons?
Romance isn’t measured by how viral your proposal goes. The internet age may try to sell you something different, but don’t ever forget that viral is closely associated with sickness – so don’t ever make being viral your goal.
Your goal is always to make your Christ-focus contagious – to just one person.
It’s more than just imagining some romantic proposal.
It’s a man who imagines washing puked-on sheets at 2:30 am, plunging out a full and plugged toilet for the third time this week, and then scraping out the crud in the bottom screen of the dishwasher — every single night for the next 37 years without any cameras rolling or soundtrack playing -- that’s imagining true romance.
The man who imagines slipping his arm around his wife’s soft, thickening middle age waistline and whispering that he couldn’t love her more…. who imagines the manliness of standing bold and unashamed in the express checkout line with only maxi pads and tampons because someone he loves is having an unexpected Saturday morning emergency.
The man who imagines the coming decades of a fluid life – her leaking milky circles through a dress at Aunt Ruth’s birthday party, her wearing thick diaper-like Depends for soggy weeks after pushing a whole human being out through her inch-wide cervix, her bleeding through sheets and gushing amniotic oceans across the bathroom floor and the unexpected beauty of her crossing her legs everytime she jumps on the trampoline with the kids.
The real romantics imagine greying and sagging and wrinkling as the deepening of something sacred.
Because get this, kids — How a man proposes isn’t what makes him romantic. It’s how a man purposes to lay down his life that makes him romantic.
And a man begins being romantic years before any ring – romance begins with only having eyes for one woman now – so you don’t go giving your eyes away to cheap porn. Your dad will say it sometimes to me, a leaning over – “I am glad that there’s always only been you.” Not some bare, plastic-surgeon-scalpel-enhanced pixels ballooning on a screen, not some tempting flesh clicked on in the dark, not some photo-shopped figment of cultural beauty that’s basically a lie.
The real romantics know that stretchmarks are beauty marks and that different shaped women fit into the different shapes of men souls and that real romance is really sacrifice.
I know – you’re thinking, “Boring.”
Can you see it again – how your grandfather stood over your grandmother’s grave and brushed away his heart leaking without a sound down his cheeks?
50 boring years. 50 unfilmed years of milking 70 cows, raising 6 boys and 3 girls, getting ready for sermon every Sunday morning, him helping her with her zipper. 50 boring years of arguing in Dutch and making up in touching in the dark, 50 boring years of planting potatoes and weeding rows on humid July afternoons, 50 boring years of washing the white Corel dishes and turning out the light on the mess – till he finally carried her in and out of the tub and helped her pull up her Depends.
Don’t ever forget it:
The real romantics are the boring ones — they let another heart bore a hole deep into theirs.
Be one of the boring ones. Pray to be one who get 50 boring years of marriage – 50 years to let her heart bore a hole deep into yours.
Let everyone do their talking about 50 shades of grey, but don’t let anyone talk you out of it: committment is pretty much black and white. Because the truth is, real love will always make you suffer. Simply commit: Who am I willing to suffer for?
Who am I willing to take the reeking garbage out for and clean out the gross muck ponding at the bottom of the fridge? Who am I willing to listen to instead of talk at? Who am I willing to hold as they grow older and realer? Who am I willing to die a bit more for every day? Who am I willing to make heart-boring years with? Who am I willing to let bore a hole into my heart?
Get it: Life – and marriage proposals — isn’t not about one up-manship — it’s about one down-manship. It’s about the heart-boring years of sacrifice and going lower and serving. It’s not about how well you perform your proposal. It’s about how well you let Christ perform your life.
Sure, go ahead, have fun, make a ridiculously good memory and we’ll cheer loud: propose creatively — but never forget that what wows a woman and woos her is you how you purpose to live your life.
I’m praying, boys — be Men. Be one of the ‘boring” men – and let your heart be bore into. And know there are women who love that kind of man.
The kind of man whose romance isn’t flashy – because love is gritty.
The kind of man whose romance isn’t about cameras — because it’s about Christ.
The kind of man whose romance doesn’t have to go viral — because it’s going eternal.
No, your dad did not get down on one knee when he proposed – because the romantic men know it’s about living your whole life on your knees.
There are Fridays. And the quiet romantics who will take out the garbage without fanfare. There will be the unimaginative calendar by the fridge, with all it’s scribbled squares of two lives being made one. The toilet seat will be left predictably up. The sink will be resigned to its load of last night’s dishes.
And there is now and the beautiful boring, the way two lives touch and go deeper into time with each other.
The clock ticking passionately into decades.This post was written by A. Voskamp. You can find the original post here: http://www.aholyexperience.com/2013/11/the-real-truth-about-boring-men-and-the-women-who-live-with-them-redefining-boring/BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
I know a Christian follower of Christ who tends to think that God is waiting around every corner, lurks behind every rock, in order to catch her making a mistake so that He can punish her. This poor woman thinks that the Lord actually does punish us according to our sins, even though Scripture teaches us the contrary: "He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities." (Ps. 103:10 NRSV) That alone is great news! But the Psalmist continues: "For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him" (Ps. 103:11). If one can fathom the depth of space between the heavens from the soil of the earth, God's love for His children is deeper still. That, too, is great news! But the Psalmist continues further: "as far as the east is from the west, so far he removes our transgressions from us." (Ps. 103:12 NRSV) Considering that the east never meets the west, then our sins shall never again meet us in Christ.
I believe that we have barely scratched the surface of understanding and appreciating the love of God for us in Christ, or the sacrifice that Christ made on our behalf, or the blessings bestowed upon us in and through Christ. God is not eager to punish us for our sins; God is eager to forgive us our sins. The Psalmist continues still further: "As a father has compassion for his children, so the LORD has compassion for those who fear him. For he knows how we were made; he remembers that we are dust." (Ps. 103:13-14 NRSV) Too often we forget that God is for us: and if "God is for us, who is against us?" (Rom. 8:31) In other words, if God the Almighty Creator of the universe -- holy and just in nature -- is for us, then who of any greater value is against us, and why would that even matter? There is no one greater than God. So if He is for us, then no matter who is against, we shall prevail.
I fear that too many of us believers and followers of Christ still operate within the framework of works instead of grace. We have no inherent power to save ourselves; no inherent power to warrant forgiveness; no inherent power to perform the necessary means of atonement; no inherent power to live sinlessly; no inherent resurrection power; no inherent power to obtain the love and grace and mercy of God -- we are powerless. "For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly." (Rom. 5:6) We need to acknowledge and to own our powerlessness. The late Henri Nouwen, encouraging himself in his journal, writes: "Your willingness to let go of your desire to control your life reveals a certain trust. The more you relinquish your stubborn need to maintain power, the more you will get in touch with the One who has the power to heal and guide you. And the more you get in touch with that divine power, the easier it will be to confess to yourself and to others your basic powerlessness." Did not the apostle Paul confess the same exact idea?
To the Roman Christians the apostle confessed our weakness and ineptitude at saving ourselves (Rom. 5:6); and to the Corinthian Christians he expounded upon the concept of weakness: "So I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me." (2 Cor. 12:9) People make many boasts, but usually they are of the nature of strength and ability. Paul, however, boasted of his powerlessness. Again, Nouwen writes, "One way you keep holding on to an imaginary power is by expecting something from outside gratifications or future events."I just read that sentence today, and I had to read and re-read it again a few more times. I sensed a profound truth in it, concerning myself, but I couldn't fully grasp the connection. Then I understood that the "outside gratifications or future events" were themselves "an imaginary power" that were hindering me emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually. Nouwen continues:
"As long as you run from where you are and distract yourself, you cannot fully let yourself be healed. A seed flourishes by staying in the ground in which it is sown. When you keep digging the seed up to check whether it is growing, it will never bear fruit. Think about yourself as a little seed planted in rich soil. All you have to do is stay there and trust that the soil contains everything you need to grow. This growth takes place even when you do not feel it. Be quiet, acknowledge your powerlessness, and have faith that one day you will know how much you have received."
I never had the power to force God to love me, to forgive me, to grow me. If I looked to others for personal or spiritual affirmation -- "outside gratifications" -- or some future event, such as a career, or a church office, or some other achievement in order to gain a sense of worth or approval, then all I have truly accomplished is a failed attempt at catching the wind. Either God redemptively loves me within His own self -- some attribute that derives from His nature -- or I remain powerless and hopeless for all eternity. No, God is not waiting to punish me or to punish you, brother and sister. Christ Jesus has already taken our punishment -- bearing upon Himself the wrath of God on our behalf on the cross of Calvary. If only I could convince that poor woman of these truths.This post was written by William Birch. You can find the original post here: http://classicalarminian.blogspot.com/2013/11/is-god-waiting-to-punish-you-believer.html
BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
I am a die-hard Georgia Bulldogs fan. I rarely miss a game, and if I do, be sure, it is being recorded to watch at a later time, even if I know the outcome. I love Georgia football. And if I had tickets, which I do not, I would do everything I could to go to the game. I would amend my calendar, reschedule my appointments, and prioritize my activities to ensure my attendance. But if something happened, and I couldn’t make it, it would not affect the dynamic of the crowd, or the outcome of the event. It wouldn’t change, one little bit, the atmosphere. Simply put, my attendance would not be missed. The team would stick to their game-plan, the crowd would maintain their electric charge, and the prices would be exactly as they are. The same is NOT true for my attendance at church.
When a church member misses worship service, the church drastically suffers.The Bible is emphatic about church attendance. The writer of Hebrews challenges us with convicting words, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25). Have you ever thought about the effect your absence has in the House of God? When you are not there:
- The body of the congregation is incomplete
- Your voice is not heard in the worship and singing of the saints
- You cannot actively serve others who may need your gifts
- You cannot contribute in the offering
- You do not receive the Word of God in a preaching format
- You miss out on corporate prayer
- You forfeit fellowship with other believers
- You send a message to the youth that missing church is acceptable
- You make it easier to miss the next week, and then the next
- You become susceptible to apathy and indifference
- You make it harder for others to bear the weight and burdens of ministry
- You miss opportunities to share your own struggles with the saints of God
- You cause unnecessary worry for your pastor, teacher, staff, and leaders
- You miss out on altar invitations, life-changing decisions, and spiritual experiences
I assure you, your church needs you. And it needs you to be there this Sunday. Faithfulness to the House of God is still a required characteristic for believers. From time to time we all need sabbaticals, vacations, and sick days. But when missing church becomes a regular or extended practice, we not only stymie our spiritual growth, we weaken the abilities of the entire congregation. I would like to encourage you to be in your place tomorrow, come ready for worship, and thank God He has purchased a place for you to attend. Now that, my friend, is even better than Georgia football!!This post was written by Kenneth Kuykendall. Even though he is a Georgia fan, here at Ironstrikes, we agree that church attendance is vital to a man's spiritual walk. For the original post, go to: http://kennethkuykendall.com/what-happens-when-youre-not-there-the-effects-of-missing-church/
BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
Why should anyone trust me, having broken the trust that others had placed in me, due to my public sin and offense? In one, ultimate sense, you should only trust Jesus and no one else. The LORD Himself knows full well: "The heart is devious above all else; it is perverse -- who can understand it? I the LORD test the mind and search the heart, to give to all according to their ways, according to the fruit of their doings." (Jer. 17:9, 10 NRSV) "Deceit is in the mind of those who plan evil" (Prov. 12:20 NRSV). Each one of us has a devious, deceitful heart, and often we are unaware of the depth or degree of our own depravity. We have the ability to deceive not only others but also our own selves. Our God, however, cannot lie or be deceptive (Titus 1:2 NASB; cf. Isa. 45:19; 53:9; John 14:6); He alone can be objectively trusted (Ps. 4:5; 9:10; 25:2; 31:6, 14; 32:10; 37:3; Isa. 26:4; 1 Pet. 1:21). But let us not over-react, either. Many people can be trusted, generally, without the potential of psychological, emotional, or physical harm.
In another sense, though, if someone who committed a horrible sin, offense or crime grieves over that sin and by the grace of God repents and makes perpetual and successful efforts at changing one's mind, which will affect one's emotions, which in turn will affect one's behavior, that person may regain his or her integrity and earn back and continue to gain the trust of others. Even so, however, I think that people ought to hold such a person to more stringent standards in demonstrating his or her integrity -- especially if the offense committed was sexual in nature.
First, the apostle Paul informs us that every sin a person commits is "outside the body; but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body." (1 Cor. 6:18 NIV) Note the distinction the apostle renders sexual sin: it is set apart for its own category; it is a sin of the mind, the heart, and the body. Second, once a sexual offense has been committed, there will always -- always -- remain, even in a small measure, a potential for some sort of future offense, even if the potential offense does not mirror-image any prior offense committed. This reminds us to always perform good deeds, because whatever deeds we perform, whether good or bad, the likelihood of repeating those deeds becomes exponential once performed. Potential victims are to be protected and considered a priority over and above the feelings of a former offender. Third, what must be understood about those who have committed a sexual offense is that the offender is well trained at being deceptive. Think about this seriously: prior to my offense, no one knew that I was struggling with sexual desire for my seminary roommate, nor did anyone imagine that I was capable of behaving in any sexual or ungodly manner toward him. I learned how to hide my true feelings, my inner struggles, while maintaining the trust of others
So, how might one who has offended, whether sexually or otherwise, another human being created in the image of God regain his or her integrity and earn back the trust of others? I will give my amateur opinion, which I have learned from over a year and a half of therapy, and from much reading on the issue of offenses. Trust is always earned and rarely assumed. Once trust has been broken, earning or regaining trust can be very difficult, and in some circumstances can never again be achieved. Offenders of any stripe need to realize that people have a right to question our motives, our words, behaviors, actions, and to ask us difficult and pressing questions regarding our various interactions in any organization, whether societal or in the church. (This is especially true for anyone who has committed an offense against a minor.) What we really want people to see, however, is not that we can be trusted, as in some surface manner, but that we are daily striving toward making healthy choices mentally, emotionally, and behaviorally.
Moreover, our motive in this regard cannot be derived from an interest to maintain or be accepted in a leadership role, to serve on a committee where trust is a major component, or even so that others will think better of us. Certainly, we want others to not view us as monsters. However, what is most important for us is to consistently think, feel, and live a healthy, transparent, godly life. If this is our consistent experience then people will see the results for themselves; we will not incessantly cultivate a need for others to perceive us in a positive light, but will be satisfied within ourselves that we are living as we should, and trust the Lord that the results of godliness will shine through for His glory and for the edification of the Church. Through this long and arduous process we must daily remind ourselves that living a healthy and godly life is a process that will take many years and much striving. Our goal is always "no new victims."
In order to accomplish such a goal we must never fear or neglect the supporting structures in our life (Christ, prayer, Scripture, pastor, family, friends, the church); never fear transparency, since it is a helpful aid in the healing process; and never fear the time that cultivating a healthy mind and godliness takes. Christ is more than willing to see us through on this journey to the end.
This post was written by William Birch. For the original post with comments, go to: http://classicalarminian.blogspot.com/2013/11/earning-broken-trust.htmlBE HOLY.BE A MAN.
Yesterday, we noted three important factors to consider in regard to those who have a history of molesting children:
1. As a church we have a responsibility to protect those who cannot protect themselves. Children are very vulnerable.
2. Statistically, people who commit sexual crimes are rarely truly rehabilitated.
3. People who commit sexual crimes are very good at making you think that they are rehabilitated when they really aren’t.
I have been professionally counseling men for 30+ years. Many of them for their sexual behavior and many of them appeared to be sincerely Christian men. Yet there have been some that have convinced me that they were totally innocent, that the charges were trumped up and that they were unjustly charged. However, upon further investigation, I found out that they were lying thru their teeth. My experience has taught me a few things about safeguards. Let me share them with you:
First of all, most churches do this but I have run across some that don't: Every person who works in the church nursery, teaches children's Sunday School/Vacation Bible School, and/or is a Church Camp counselor, needs to sign an agreement to have his* background checked by the local authorities and the FBI. In fact, anyone who has repeated contact with children in any capacity in regard to a church function needs to have a background check. If you have someone who is working with children and didn't divulge his background, then that person needs to be confronted and the pastor needs to understand why the person felt a need to hide such information. This could very well be a legal as well as moral and spiritual issue.
Yet, a person who is truly desirous to fellowship in a church where there are children present, will talk to the pastor about his past before attending church. It would be advisable for the pastor to let the person know that the board will be informed of his past and that safeguards will be in place. Here are some recommended safeguards:
1. The person will sit up front, to the side, in the congregation. That way the only people he can see are the people on the stage. Also, it keeps him in full visibility of the congregation and pastor.
2. Several men will be appointed to keep an eye on the person. If he gets up to leave for any reason, he will be accompanied by at least one other man.
3. He will never enter the bathroom alone. In fact, it is advisable that the church appoint individuals to make rounds in the church bathrooms and other private/secluded areas of the church before, during and after the service from the time the church is unlocked until it is locked again.
4. He does not need to attend services when children will be up front on the stage for extended periods of time. If he is there, he needs to excuse himself until the children are not up front, or he should just go home.
5. He needs to be active in the Men's Ministry of the church and be accountable to that group of men.
6. He needs to meet with the pastor regularly for counsel, feedback and accountability.
7. He should never be allowed to work with children, in any capacity.8. He should not be Facebook friends, or any other social media including texting with any minors in the church.So, it is possible to allow a person with a criminal history of sexually abusing children to worship and fellowship in the church but he must be transparent and be willing to follow the recommended safeguards. If he cannot, then the church can go to where he is and fellowship with him at his home or a neutral location. Or the obvious..... If you really want to minister to these individuals, consider a service that is for adults only... No minors allowed... Spaced far enough from the other service so that there is time to come and go without interacting with minors.We don't need to write off these men, they need to grow spiritually as well. And you know, it will decrease child molestation in the long run too... *The word "his" will be used throughout. The majority of those who sexually offend are males but that does not mean that the church should give an automatic pass to women. Women need to have background checks as well.BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
The first generation Christians were brought out of evil. The power of Jesus radically changed these individuals. Look at the list of sins from which the first generation Christians were delivered: 1) sexual immorality, 2) idolatry, 3) adultery, 4) homosexuality, 5) greed, 6) drunkenness and 7) swindling. I Cor 6:9-10
Did you catch that? The church treasurer who cooks the books is among the list of individuals who do things that the church vehemently speaks out against. Yet…
“…that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” I Cor 6:11
Did you also catch “that is what some of you were”? These individuals were brought out of their lifestyle and were justified. Justified is a term that means “just as if I’d not sinned.”
So what did the early church do about individuals who committed the sexually immoral behavior of molesting children?
On this blog you will find a post written by a man who did just that and now can’t find a church that will accept him. I know another Christian man who 20+ years past his crime, paid for his crime, and has set up boundaries to not be around children, who is searching for a church that will accept him into their fellowship.
What is the church’s response to these individuals? We will accept the greedy person (“God I want you to bless me with a Cadillac”) and in fact will have opulent church potlucks where people that don’t need the rich foods pile it on. We forgive the church board member who cheats on his wife.
But what do we as a church do about individuals who committed the sexually immoral behavior of molesting children?
This is not an easy answer… There are three complicating but very important points to make before answering that question:
1. As a church we have a responsibility to protect those who cannot protect themselves. Children are very vulnerable.
2. Statistically, people who commit sexual crimes are rarely truly rehabilitated.
3. People who commit sexual crimes are very good at making you think that they are rehabilitated when they really aren’t.
Knowing these three facts, as a church what should be our response to someone who is a sexual offender? Especially to those who have repented, become a sincere Christian; have turned away from their sinfulness and desire to have fellowship with other Christians? Tomorrow we will make some recommendations.
BE A MAN.
Church is not a building. Church is not an event that takes place on Sundays. I know, its how we think of it. "I go to First Baptist." "We are members of St. Luke's." "Is it time to go to church?" Much to our surprise, that is not how the Bible uses the term. Not at all. When the Scripture talks about church, it means community. The little fellowships of the heart that are outposts of the kingdom. A shared life. They worship together, eat together, pray for one another, go on quests together. They hang out together, in each other's homes. When Peter is sprung from prison, "he went to the house of Mary the mother of John…where many people had gathered and were praying" (Acts 12:12).
Anytime an army goes to war or an expedition takes to the field, it breaks down into little platoons and squads. And every chronicle of war or quest will tell you that the men and women who fought so bravely fought for each other. That's where the acts of heroism and sacrifice take place, because that's where the devotion is. You simply can't be devoted to a mass of people; devotion takes place in small units, just like a family.
We have stopped short of being an organization; we are an organism instead, a living and spontaneous association of individuals who know one another intimately, care for each other deeply, and feel a kind of respect for one another that makes rules and bylaws unnecessary. A group is the right size, I would guess, when each member can pray for every other member, individually and by name.
This is the wisdom of Brother Andrew, who smuggled Bibles into communist countries for decades. It's the model, frankly, of the church in nearly every country but the U.S. Now, I'm not suggesting you don't do whatever it is you do on Sunday mornings. I'm simply helping you accept reality—that whatever else you do, you must have a small fellowship to walk with you and fight with you and bandage your wounds. This is essential.This post is taken from the book, Waking the Dead by John EldredgeBE HOLY.BE A MAN.
MONTGOMERY – A police department in Alabama has been working in recent months to train area pastors to work beside them in the police force, both as a way to reach out to the hurting and to fight back against crime in the city.
This past summer, the Montgomery Police Department launched Operation Good Shepherd in response to the city’s high homicide rate, as Montgomery fears being on the path to becoming one of the most violent cities per capita in America. According to WSFA, the outreach program was modeled after the Police and Clergy Working Together (PACT) program in Dayton, Ohio.
“[F]aith leaders attend weekly classes in which police teach them ways they can discourage crime and show them exactly what’s happening in their communities,” the outlet explained.
Pastors will accompany police at crime scenes, as well counsel and pray with those present, and will attend monthly meetings to discuss areas of concern in regard to criminal activity in the city. Police training includes gang awareness and how to spot illegal drug activity.
Nearly 40 area clergy have completed the training, which were all recognized during a recent ceremony at Montgomery City Hall. Police chief Kevin Murphy issued diplomas to the pastors as their names were called.
“They’re going to make a difference, and they’re going to help everyone in their time of need see that change can be made,” Corporal David Hicks told those gathered.
Corporal Theodore Williams, the project coordinator, concurred.“I am so glad to have this moment finally come,” he stated to reporters with theMontgomery Adviser at the event. “I am so glad that they are able to go out and help people in their time of need. … This is good for the city of Montgomery.”
According to The Atlantic, popular radio preacher Billy Holder also addressed the audience, explaining that the youth in Montgomery need examples of how to live with standards and morals. He shared a story about how he had watched a documentary where an older elephant was able to tame the young, unruly elephants through his example and care.
“Once the older elephant was introduced to the pack, the younger elephants had somebody to look up to,” Irvin told the crowd. “They had someone to guide them. And that’s what our youth needs: someone to guide them. Without that, how will they know about moral structure?”
Hicks recently appeared on Holder’s program to explain Operation Good Shepherd and its goals.
“What we want to do is combine the religious community and the Montgomery Police Department and we want to unite those as one,” he stated.
However, Montgomery police chaplain E. Baxter Morris stated that the opportunity can also be viewed as a means to evangelize the lost in the community.
“There is an evangelistic advantage,” he stated. “That is, that once I float to your comfort zone, and we become one in our crisis, I determine what your spiritual needs may or may not be, and I may be able to share with you a word from Christ.”
“The faith community is the community that’s really the heart of any community,” Roosevelt Crawford of Bethlehem Temple Church told reporters. “And the churches need to be connected with the community.”This post was written by H Clark. For the original post go to:
BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
Byron R. Johnson, a professor at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, who compiled a survey of every study between 1944 and 2010 that measured the possible effect of religion on crime. He found 273 such studies. As he reports in "More God, Less Crime," even though their authors used different methods and assessed different groups of people, 90% of these studies found that more religiosity resulted in less crime. Only 2% found that religion produced more crime. (The remaining 8% found no relationship either way.)
Does this prove that religion reduces crime? Not precisely, for these are all quasi-experimental studies. If they were truly experimental and thus carried greater intellectual weight, the researchers would direct people, none of whom had any religion, either to acquire and practice one or to remain godless and thereby stay in the control group. We would then compare the groups' crime rates. Doing this would be immoral, illegal and impractical, and so we are left with studies that compare religious and nonreligious people and try to control statistically for other factors that might explain away the religion-and-crime link.
How much confidence, then, should we have in nonexperimental studies? Not a lot, as none of the studies that Mr. Johnson cites show the statistical controls necessary to evaluate them. But offsetting this weakness is the number of studies showing a religious effect. And we can look at a few of the best ones, such as that by Richard Freeman. A Harvard professor of economics, he arranged for 2,358 young black men living in downtown Boston, Chicago and Philadelphia to be interviewed. He found that, other things (such as family and economic background) being equal, going to church is associated with substantial differences in how young men behave. More churchgoing, less crime, less alcohol and fewer drugs. As Mr. Freeman puts it: "The effect of churchgoing is not the result of churchgoing youth having 'good attitudes.' " If you want to see his reasons, look at his book "The Black Youth Employment Crisis" (1986).
The interesting question is whether society can make religion more important in the lives of convicted offenders. The largest effort to do this is managed by the Prison Fellowship, an organization created by Charles Colson in the 1970s when he was in jail after having pleaded guilty to charges involving his role in the Nixon administration's effort to discredit Daniel Ellsberg, the Pentagon Papers leaker.
Evaluating the Prison Fellowship program is not easy. Inmates, according to the organization, must complete all three phases of its program in order to benefit. Phase one involves Bible study while in prison; phase two requires community service during the day at a nearby city; and phase three means linking up with mentors and churches in the community. Each phase lasts about a year.
Mr. Johnson looked at the program's effectiveness in Texas and found that those who completed all three phases were much less likely to be arrested or incarcerated for a new crime than those who dropped out. The key question is whether the inmates who go through all three phases differ in other ways from those who never join the program or drop out early.
In an earlier study of inmates at four New York prisons, Mr. Johnson says, there was no difference between Fellowship and non-Fellowship groups over an eight-year period except for those members of the program who worked hard at Bible studies. Even then, the effect lasted for only two or three years after their release.
But these findings do not fully address a problem that social scientists call "selection bias." If people who join a long program and stay with it are different in motivation from those who drop out, we cannot be sure that Bible study makes a difference. The selection-bias problem, I suspect, afflicts many of the studies that Mr. Johnson summarizes. The strongest results come from studies (there are a few) that compare people in the Prison Fellowship with those who volunteered for it but weren't selected.But wait, the story doesn't end there....The second story that Mr. Johnson has to tell in "More God, Less Crime" is about what happens to academics—in his case, a criminologist—who turn their attention to religion. When he was a young scholar at Memphis State University (now the University of Memphis) in the mid-1980s, Mr. Johnson was told by his department chairman that none of his articles involving religion would count toward getting tenure. Though Mr. Johnson began publishing articles in academic journals about subjects other than religion, two years later he was fired. In his appeal to the dean, Mr. Johnson mentioned his publications and high student evaluations. The dean replied: "I don't need to have a reason," adding: "I can let you go if I don't like the color of your eyes."With three small children at home, Mr. Johnson was desperate to save his job. He appealed to the provost, who told him: "You simply don't fit in here. I think you need to consider getting a job teaching at some small Christian college." The provost added, according to Mr. Johnson, that he would have "the same problem" at any other state university. Mr. Johnson then said to the provost: "If I were a Marxist we wouldn't even be having this conversation, would we?" The provost "nodded in agreement."
Mr. Johnson moved on to the University of Pennsylvania, where in the 1990s he continued to publish material on religion (even though the school is funded in large part by the state). In 2004, he took a job at Baylor University, a private Baptist institution, where he has been quite successful. His advice to young scholars: Get tenure before you start writing about religion.This post came from the Wall Street Journal. It was written by James Q Wilson. The original article can be found here:http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703778104576287043835803026.html?mod=WSJ_newsreel_opinion
BE HOLY.BE A MAN.