Good News, Ladies! You’re Sons!
What an incredible promise: that we, men and women, who were enslaved to the world, have been purchased by the price of the Son so that we could be adopted as sons of God! And now God invites us, who were once estranged from him, to intimately cry out to him, “Daddy!” Oh, friends, what an invitation! What a reality! Can you believe that you are a son of God?
Here is an oddity: women are never referred to as “daughters of God” in the Bible. Kind of strange, especially given how often people use that phrase. “Daughter of God” nets over 1,000 books on Amazon. In the Bible, however, the seemingly clumsy term “sons of God” is used for men and women alike.
What gives? Is this a linguistic fluke? No, unlike the Greek word for brothers, adelphoi, which often means “brothers and sisters,” the Greek word for sons, huioi, rarely means “sons and daughters,” with the complete phrase “huious kai thugateras” used instead.[i] So, while we might be tempted to add “daughters” when we see “sons of God” in the Bible, it’s unlikely that is what the author intended.[ii]
Is the lack of inclusion of daughters a patriarchal blind spot in the Bible that we ought to rectify? On the contrary: the authors of scripture used the phrase “sons of God” to lift the status of women.
Let me explain: in the ancient world, Israel included, only sons received the family inheritance. Daughters received no inheritance. They were dependent on their husband or the care of their family. If the biblical authors referred to men and women as “sons and daughters of God,” their readers might have mistakenly presumed that only men received a spiritual inheritance from God.
By exclusively referring to all the children of God as “sons of God,” the biblical authors are saying something profound: men and women are equal recipients of the inheritance of the Father. Wow! What a vision for men and women in the Kingdom of God – and two thousand years old, no less!
With this in mind, let’s re-read two of the most beautiful passages in the Bible that offer us the hope of what our sonship entails.
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The Power of the Two-Parent HomeBy Kevin DeYoung — 10 months ago
Scientific research is valuable insofar as it can reinforce the truths of the Bible and principles of natural law; namely, that when we observe the way the world works (and does not work), it becomes abundantly clear that marriage matters for human flourishing almost more than anything else.
Humanly speaking, there is nothing more important for personal well-being, positive social behavior, and general success in life than being raised by one’s biological parents committed to each other in a stable marriage. Over the past forty years, a vast body of research has demonstrated conclusively that children are deeply affected by family structure and that married parents are best for children. Any efforts — whether governmental, educational, or ecclesiastical — that mean to encourage human flourishing must take this reality into account as both an explanation for many societal ills and as a means to the end of hoped-for societal health and vitality.
Not a Myth
Family life in America has changed dramatically in a relatively short period of time. In 1960, 73% of children lived with two parents in their first marriage. By 2014, less than half (46%) of children were living in this type of family. Conversely, the percentage of children living with a single parent rose from 9% in 1960 to 26% in 2014. An additional 7% of children now live with cohabiting parents. Moreover, the increase in non-traditional family arrangements has coincided with the decoupling of marriage and childbearing. In 1960, just 5% of all births occurred outside of marriage. By 2000, around 40% of all births occurred outside of marriage (a percentage that has held steady over the last twenty years). As of 2014, 29% of births to white women, 53% of births to Hispanic women, and 71% of births to black women were out-of-wedlock. In the span of only 60 years, what were once considered exceptional family circumstances have become the norm.
Given the changing portrait of the American family, it is not surprising that many people believe — or, given the uncomfortable prospect of implicitly judging others, feel compelled to say they believe — that there is no difference between one parent or two parents when it comes to raising children. According to one online survey, “more than 70% of participants believed that a single parent can do just as good a job as two parents.” Further, 60% of women “agreed that children do best with multiple adults invested and helping, but that two married parents are not necessary.” Christina Cross, writing in the New York Times, went so far as to decry “The Myth of the Two-Parent Home,” citing evidence that black children in two-parent families still fare worse than white children in two-parent families. But Cross’s argument fails to take into account how much better all children do in two-parent families compared to one-parent families of the same race. The percentage of white children living in poverty goes from 31% in families with only a mother, to 17% in families with only a father, all the way down to 5% in families with a married couple. The same percentages for black children go from 45% (mother-only), to 36% (father-only), to 12% (married couple). We can lament that black children in two-parent families are still 2.4 times more likely to be in poverty than white children (12% v. 5%), but we should also observe that white children raised by only a mother are 2.6 times as likely to be in poverty as black children raised by two parents (31% v. 12%). While there are still advantages to being white in this country, he much bigger advantage is being raised by two parents. It is better in America to be a black child raised by two parents than to be a white child in a one-parent home. The breakdown of the family is not a black problem; it is a problem wherever two-parent families decline and single-parent households become normalized.
Family Structure and Child Well-Being
The conclusion that children raised by their biological, married parents do better, by almost every measure, has been proven in hundreds of studies over the last several decades.
One of the best and most concise summaries of the academic literature comes from a policy brief published in 2003 by the Center for Law and Social Policy. Citing a 1994 study by Sara McLanahan and Gary Sandefur, the 2003 brief notes that children who do not live with both biological parents were roughly twice as likely to be poor, to have birth outside of marriage, to have behavioral and psychological problems, and to not graduate from high school. Another study found that children in single-parent homes were more likely to experience health problems, such as accidents, injuries, and poisonings. Other research found that children living with single mothers were five times as likely to be poor.
Importantly, not all types of single-parent households fare the same. Children of widowed parents, for example, do better than children in families with divorced or cohabiting parents. Children of divorce are two-and-a-half times as likely to have serious social, emotional, or psychological problems as children from intact families. Likewise, children in cohabiting families are at a higher risk of poor outcomes in a host of economic and emotional categories. Critically, these poor outcomes are not erased when the single-parent family is better off financially. Marriage is the issue, not economics. In short,
Reassembling the Wreckage of Religious Freedom: Why Now *Is* The Time For Urging Liberty of Conscience and Supporting Those Seeking Religious ExemptionsBy David Schrock — 1 year ago
If we are to enjoy any religious liberty going forward, we cannot take a strategy that waits for worse cases to arise. Rather, we need to reintroduce, rewaken, and reinforce the arguments for religious liberty. This must be done in the public square and in countless conversations with Christians and their neighbors. In fact, this is one of the growing benefits of the religious exemptions. In our local church alone, I can report countless opportunities Christians have taken to share the gospel and their religious convictions about the vaccine.
Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another?It is before his own master that he stands or falls.And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.— Romans 14:4 —
On the backside of a Sharp Top Mountain in Southwest Virginia lies the wreckage of World War II vintage air craft. On a training mission in February 1943, five airmen lost their lives as they flew a “low-level nighttime navigational” mission, a mission that ended with tragedy and the debris of a B-25 littered throughout the wooded hillside.
Today, if you leave the trail on Sharp Top and look for the fuselage, engine, wings, and other parts of the crash site, you will find a plaque memorializing the event. On an otherwise unmarked hillside, this memorial is the only sign explaining the mangled metal left standing in the woods. Yet my point in bringing up this piece of atlas obscura is not to focus on the plane crash, but to liken it to the state of our religious liberty today. Today, we can find scattered pieces of religious freedom in our country, but by and large most Christians do not know how they got there, how to assemble them, or how to make them fly. For instance, the recent TGC article undermining the sincerely held beliefs of Christians is a prime example.
In that article, Christian lawyer, John Melcon, explains “Why Your Employer Can Deny Your ‘Religious’ Vaccine Exemption.” In the article, he explained the way “religious exemption laws” work and cited three bad arguments for seeking a religious exemption: (1) personal autonomy, (2) my body is my temple, and (3) abortion complicity. In his estimation, the abortion argument “is perhaps the strongest case,” but by comparison to the welcome use of other drugs (e.g., “Tylenol, Claritin, or their favorite anti-aging skin cream“), he insists that this argument is most likely an example of great inconsistency. (N.B. For a quick response to the Tylenol retort, see this Liberty Counsel post).
In his other two arguments, however, the claim is not inconsistency, but denying that personal autonomy or bodily choice is a truly religious reason for seeking a religious exemption. For Melcon, this leads him to reserve religious exemptions for later, greater threats to the Christian faith. It is this argument that I want to address. Instead of addressing his three examples, which are presented with a striking likeness to someone headed for the Emerald City, I want to consider whether waiting for some later crisis is the best strategy. Even more, I will argue that the increasing statism of our country is coupled with a religious fervor that does not call for patient endurance, but bold witness to the truth.
This Really Is a Religious Liberty Issue
As I have written recently, the presidential mandate for Covid vaccines is one motivated by religious interests. With a religious belief in science, those in power are using the force of the state, the threat of job loss, and the fear of disenfranchisement to coerce public and private employer and employees to get the vaccine. Instead of convincing the public of the vaccines beneficial effects, the state is taking a page from Nike’s playbook coercing people to “just do it.” And sadly, Christians thought leaders are playing right along.
Last week, John Piper made the argument that Christian freedom should lead those who are fearful of getting the vaccine to get the vaccine. But ironically, that fear focused not on the anxiety caused by the adverse effects of the vaccine, or the medical concerns, or the uncertain side effects or long terms effects. The fear focused on those who feel pressured to not get the vaccine. But what group of people is putting fear into the heart of Christians not to get the vaccine? I am sure there could be some, but those individuals do not have the force of the federal government behind them.
In this case, I think Piper is misreading the field. The pressure mounting upon Christians is going in the other directions. And Piper’s article is only, if unintentionally, contributing to that pressure. Still, his article is benign compared to that of John Melcon who calls to question the arguments some are putting forward in an attempt to seek a religious exemption. Indeed, Melcon’s article is one of many Christian hit pieces putting pressure (read: binding consciences ) on those who conscience is bound to not get the vaccine. With sophisticated legal speech, Melcon gives cover for employers and the powers that tax them, as it persuades Christians that it is fool’s errand to seek a religious exemption. But is it? Is it really out of bounds to seek a religious exemption for the Covid mandate? And should we strategize to hold off on seeking a religious exemption now, in order to seek it later?
I wouldn’t be writing this article, unless I disagreed. And I am not the only one. In a short string of tweets, lawyer, professor, and ERLC legal fellow Sam Webb had a few things to say in response to Melcon’s article. Stripping out the Twitter formatting, here’s what he said in response:
Article XVI of the New Hampshire Confession—a Baptist confession used 150+ years—states: “We believe that civil government is of divine appointment, for the interests and good order of human society, and that magistrates are to be prayed for, conscientiously honored, and obeyed, except only in things opposed to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the only Lord of the conscience, and the Prince of the kings of the earth.”
If a Christian who holds no settled convictions against this Confession … cannot in good conscience—or, put differently, in good faith—submit to a government-mandated, employer-enforced vaccination because that Christian believes such mandate, action, or vaccination is “opposed to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ”for any number of reasons, then such objection is, in fact, a sincerely held religious belief and an exemption is warranted.
To cause such Christian to act contrary to conscience—even if ill-formed conscience!—is to claim lordship over the conscience which is further violation of that Christian’s sincerely held religious belief that “Jesus Christ…is the only Lord of the conscience.” Even more, what cannot be done in good faith is sin (Rom. 14:23) and so to force vaccination against conscience is to cause sin.
Let’s end the crusade of binding the consciences of brothers and sisters in Christ on disputable matters and let’s love our neighbor by advocating for the freedom of conscience—even if we disagree with the exercise of such conscience.
This is the exactly right! As I have counseled and signed off on multiple religious exemptions, I have not necessarily agreed with every one of the arguments being made, but I have, after listening to the formulation of the believer’s argument, perceived what their sincerely held, biblically-informed belief is. And because of that recognition of sincerely held beliefs, I have supported those Christians who have put their livelihoods in jeopardy in order to follow their Lord. I have urged them to count the cost, but I have not tried to shame them or bind their conscience. This, after all, is what Romans 14:4 calls us to do, and this is what John Melcon has failed to do.
Exploiting the “Little Ones”By Barton J. Gingerich — 3 months ago
Written by Barton J. Gingerich |
Sunday, January 8, 2023
It’s not like young people in ages past were sealed off from the “facts of life” (especially since so many more children in those days grew up around livestock). But more Americans are finally seeing that the sexual revolution’s demands—that moral corruptions be legalized, socially endorsed, and even celebrated—have immense costs, and one of them is the corruption of childhood.
The Biblical faith comes with a theology of children. In Genesis, a promised Seed is prophesied to undo the Curse of the Fall. In Exodus, we find God opposing an infanticidal regime and blessing the midwives subverting that regime’s genocide. God’s supreme judgment and mercy climax in the great Passover, which is thereafter memorialized in rituals that involve childbirth and infants.
The Psalter proclaims, “Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength because of thine enemies, that thou mightest still the enemy and the avenger.” When we look at the New Testament, we find a Messiah who bids that little children be brought to Him and blessed, revealing that they are the prototype for any member of the Kingdom of Heaven. And anyone who is a cause of offense for “little ones” (all members of Christ’s flock, but we cannot help but imagine infants and children) is warned, “It were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea.”
Even as we approach Christmas, the themes become all the more explicit. We celebrate the nativity of an infant King. We mourn the martyrdom of the innocents. We even traditionally commemorate St. Nicholas of Myra, the patron saint of children.