Monthly Archives: December 2008

Irreducible Complexity, Occams Razor, and the Anthropic Principle for a New Year

There are three great concepts that one needs to process when thinking about the existence of God and competitive worldviews that endeavor to answer the deeper questions of life.

Irreducible complexity is an argument made in the discussion on evolution. While there are parts of evolution that can be substantiated (by this I mean, microevolution – one type of a sparrow evolving into another type of sparrow; contrast this with macroevolution, which I totally disagree with, that one species evolves into another species), this concept says that the origin of complex organs must be explained. Some organs require a minimum number of parts to work. The infinite number of small steps necessary for these kinds of developments is not likely in a strict evolutionary system. How do you account for the complexity of the human eye? Some living mechanisms are too complext to arise by the short steps required by evolution. There are many things that evolution cannot explain. Irredicibly complex organs is one of them. This fact alone wrecks Darwinism. Before you side with a Dawkins who said that evolution makes it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist, explain irreducibly complex organs for starters, and then work from there. Evolution doesn’t know when its done. It doesn’t know that it shouldn’t turn us into whales, or crickets, or ground hogs. With far more people around today than centuries ago, you would expect some mutations, some development of more complex organs. Where are they?

Occams Razor simply states that there are a number of possible explanations for something and that one should go with the explanation that requires the fewest assumptions. Even Carl Sagan advised to go witht the hypotheses that was the simplest. The best route from point A to point B should not be a zig-zag theory. Evolutionary atheists invent a fantastically complicated set of circumstances in an attempt to explain our origins. Faith is not irrational, but offers a very clear explanation of how our universe and multiverses began. The vast majority of physicists admit a “Big Bang” that started it all, a First Cause.

Finally, the anthropic principle states that our universe was designed just right, so that we could live on planet earth. It’s as if someone “monkeyed with the physics”. It knew humans and life-forms were coming somehow. Modify the physics just slightly and we implode into the planet or explode off of it. It is precise; earth is a sanctuary of life.

We are irreducibly complex creatures, living in a world that was intelligently designed, with precise physics to sustain our survival. Faith is rational, even scientific, and yet some atheists describe it as a “mental illness”. The only thing mental about any of this is how and why human beings go to such great extremes to avoid the logical, succinct explanations offered by Christian Theism.

I agree with Dinesh D’Souza who argues that atheism is not primarily an intellectual revolt; it is a moral revolt. Atheists don’t find God invisible so much as objectionable. Like a supervisory parent, God is in the way and must be removed, discredited (using the error-filled Bible ironically enough), and He must be shown to be a “mental illness.”

How about starting out 2009 with a new worldview? You are irreducibly complex in your make-up, living in a world that is balanced on a razors edge, and playing dumb to what you know to be true is no longer the best way to answer life’s deeper questions. There’s a better way in 2009.

Advertisements

34 Comments

Filed under Agnosticism, Anthropic Principle, Atheism, Atheist, Christian Worldview, Earth, Evolution, First Cause, Intelligent Design, Irreducible Complexity, New Year, Occams Razor, Theism, Uncategorized, Worldview

Every Human Desire (for Sex, Food, Pleasure) is Right – When Played In Proper Time and Place

It’s important to acknowledge that every human desire is right when it’s played in its proper time and within healthy parameters. It’s right to be hungry, but not be a glutton. It’s right to desire intimacy and sexual relationship, but not to consume someone for your pleasure alone. It’s right to renew and recreate, but not to be given to laziness and sloth. It’s right to love your work, but not to be a workaholic. It’s right to acquire things, but not to serve things. God has given us human desires that are right and good.

I like what C. S. Lewis said. He said that there are no wrong and right keys on a piano. Every key is right when it’s played in the proper harmony and time. Then Lewis makes this application. There are no wrong physical desires. Every desire is God-given and it is beautiful when played or fulfilled at the proper time (Mere Christianity). The goal is not necessarily to resist pleasure and desires; it is to play them in their proper time (Storms, Pleasures… 9).

God made you with certain human desires embedded in your nature. He made you to desire food, to work for things, to belong to a family, to own and steward possessions, to have close, intimate relationships, to experience the emotions of love and happiness. In fact, He wants you to enjoy food, relationships, your work, your things, your family, your life, your recreation, your sexuality. God loves it when you have a great time. He doesn’t get ticked off when you really enjoy doing something that you have a desire to do. But you must play these “desire-notes” at their proper time and with a proper duration in order to make something harmonious of your life. In theology, we talk about sin being a distortion and a perversion of the good. God has provided you with boundaries to help you know how to play these “piano keys of desire.”

God’s boundaries on our desires are not there to repress us but to show forth the true glory of being a fully alive human being. God doesn’t hem us in to repress us or to keep something good from you; it is to preserve the glory in each of us by fulfilling our God-given desires in their proper time and place. God invites us into wholeness when He tells us how to fulfill our desires in and through Him.

God says…

“I want you to have sex because it’s good, but here are some guidelines on where and when to play that note. Otherwise, this gift is going to become distorted and perverted. The intimacy you seek will not be found unless you use this gift the way I have prescribed.” We want to play this note in all the wrong places at all the wrong times in all the wrong ways. In doing so, we cheapen it, hollow it out, and it becomes so much less of a gift.

“I want you to enjoy great meals, but here are some guidelines on where and when to play that note. Otherwise, you compromise your health and your body.” We want to use food for comfort, not for health. We are a society driven by our hunger and cravings. Paul said in one place that “Your god is your belly.” (Philippians 3:19; Romans 16:18). You are a slave to your drives and appetites.

“I want you to rest and re-energize, but here are some guidelines on where and when to play that note. Otherwise, you spend your life doing nothing, squandering opportunities to make a true difference.” We want to use all of our time to serve our own agenda, but when it comes to God and making an eternal difference, we embrace passivity. Jesus worked hard, but at times he would separate himself from the crowds so as to reenergize for his work. Jesus said to his disciples “Come apart for a while lest you come apart (Mark 6:31).”

“I want you to know the joy of loving and being loved. Here’s how to do that. Otherwise, if you demand that people love you on your terms, you’ll be all about anger and revenge.” We want others to bow to us and meet our needs and make us happy. If they don’t, look out, because anger and revenge will become our life mantra. We’ll worry, grumble, complain, and get bitter. The Proverb writer said “Pride goes before a fall (Proverbs 16:18).” Paul taught to be angry and sin not (Ephesians 4:26) and not to seek revenge.

“I want you to have things, but here is how I want you to view them.” We want to have more than others and our god is all that we can acquire. God told the rich man who built bigger and better barns to the neglect of his own soul “You fool (Luke 12:20).” Jesus said “Seek first my kingdom (Matthew 6:33).”

We intentionally fulfill our desires in our own selfish way, sabotaging and undermining the way things are suppose to be. Our core problem says St. Augustine is that “the human heart, ignoring God, turns in on itself, tries to lift itself, wants to please itself, and ends up debasing itself.” By his own admission, St. Augustine had taken a mistress, fathered a child out of wedlock, and indulged in every fleshly passion. Augustine also said the only reason you think a baby is good is that he hasn’t got power enough to show you whose boss. He said if a baby had the strength when he emerged from his mother’s womb, he would seize the mother by the throat and demand his milk. It’s in our nature to set out to meet our own needs in our own way from an early age.

Sin (life apart from God) has penetrated and taken up residence in the inner sanctuary of our hearts, twisting, fracturing, distorting, and corrupting. Rather than opening up our hearts to the One who can make them new, we run to the sins we love, blinded to the truth and chained to the illusion that I am god and I can live my life and fulfill my desires the way I want to. We hide behind the sins we love – the things that give us pleasure, totally oblivious to what it is doing to us in the bigger scheme of things. The problem is not that people pursue pleasure. The problem is that they rebelliously and foolishly refuse to find pleasure in the one place where it may be genuinely found.

I encourage you to feel your God-given desires and fulfill them in ways that God has prescribed. His boundaries around our desires has a way of actually intensifying our desires and making their fulfillment even more sublime.

Do you want to enjoy great sex? Then use your sexuality in a way that God has prescribed; don’t give this part of yourself to just anyone or any pleasure-option. If you build in constraints around your sexuality, it becomes more meaningful.

Do you want to really enjoy food and eating great meals? Then make sure that eating is enjoyed to sustain you rather than just entertain you when you’re bored.

Do you want to experience pleasure? Then find a greater pleasure.

The Hedonistic Paradox states that in order to find true pleasure, one must have a greater pleasure (hedonism means pleasure and a paradox is truth standing on its head to get our attention). This simply means that if we make anything the sole source of our pleasure (except God), then we will never be satisfied. Stated positively: All the things that you think will bring you the pleasure you seek can actually bring a measure of genuine joy when you are not looking to these pleasures to be your everything. When we make another human being, food, sex, achievement, etc… our greatest pleasure, it is sure to let you down. But when you have a Greater Pleasure that you give your life too, then these other ancillary pleasures can actually be seen and enjoyed for what they were intended to be.

God wants to be your “Greater Pleasure”. It’s in Him that we have all of our human desires intensified; and that we find our “smaller pleasures” perfectly fulfilled in the “larger pleasure” of connection and intimacy with God. So if you want to know true pleasure, find a Greater Pleasure; otherwise, you’ll never be satisfied. And having found this Greater Pleasure, play your God-given desires in their proper time, with the right duration and frequency, and you are sure to create a life of beautiful music.

Leave a comment

Filed under Atheism, Atheist, Christian Worldview, Desire, Food, Hedonistic Paradox, Pleasure, Sex

“My Only Hope is to Win the Lottery” – What Money Cannot Do For You

A Detroit homeowner was overheard saying: “I can’t ever get ahead. My only hope is to win the lottery. That would solve all my problems (Colson, Good Life Search… 7).” We have all wondered what it would be like to win a million dollars.

For one lady, the winning numbers were 10-25-38-39-50 with a Mega Ball 12. Sixty-seven-year-old Geraldine Williams just happened to pick the winning numbers. Her odds of winning: 1 in 135,145,920… This hardworking cleaning woman stepped forward to claim her $294 million, one of the largest jackpots ever to go to a single person. I hope it makes her happy. But for so many, it won’t even come close.

One-half of the American adult population spends $45 billion annually on 35,000 lottery games. Unfortunately, winning the lottery is not going to solve your problem. It’s easy to believe that life would be completely carefree if money were no object. Why doesn’t a winning lottery ticket buy happiness?

The unhappy winners of the lottery try to answer life’s deeper (spiritual) questions with money. You can’t. The happiest people you’ll ever meet are those who if their money was gone tomorrow, their lives would still have purpose and significance. If you try to answer life’s big questions with money and you stay with that philosophy, more than likely, debt will be in your financial future. If you’re going to define your life by what you can accumulate and the money you can place in a nest egg, you’re always going to be in hurry to get there. You’ll walk right past life and true success.

Money can buy you a bed, but not deep, restful sleep. Money can buy you books, but not the right kind of books. Money can buy you food, but not a healthy appetite and warm friends. Money can buy you finery, but not true beauty. Money can buy you a house, but not a loving family or home. Money can buy medicine, but not health. Money can buy luxury, but not an appreciation for the arts and sciences, learning and exploring, and valuing culture. Money can buy you flattery, but not a deep respect (Gray, Lists…Two, 132).

Money can’t buy you a good attitude. Money cannot choose a right direction in which to travel in life. Money cannot set right priorities. Money cannot keep your commitments to others. Money cannot give you a biblical worldview. Money can’t protect you from a stranger who steals your mate’s affection. Money can’t protect you from a lawsuit that instantly wipes out your nest egg. Money can’t protect you from job loss and layoffs that depletes your savings. And money can’t protect you from a stroke or tumor that sends you home. If you try to make money do all this for you, you’ll end up empty and perplexed by the “money conundrum”.

This blog is about answering the deeper questions of life. One of the greatest things that I can do for you is to help you avoid a dead-end road. Believe me. Money is not the answer you’re looking for. Knowing where you came from, why you are here, what went wrong in the world, what God is doing to fix it, and how I can help reclaim a fallen creation – now these are questions worth living for and money can never touch it. Financial status has nothing to do with it; offering all that you have in service to the larger story does have something to do with it. Money is simply a tool – nothing more. The goal is to place it into circulation to do all the good you can for all the people you can for as long as you can. Change your world and don’t waste your time or money on a lottery ticket.

Some years after he had won the lottery in New York, a man was asked during an interview by the media “What has been the biggest difference in your life since your sudden acquisition of wealth?” He paused, shrugged his shoulders, and said “I eat out more often.” Ravi Zacharias observed: “The laughter that followed revealed a strange but compelling truth. I have no doubt there were other changes – cars, homes, travel, and several other experiences made possible by money. But in the end, he was able to reduce it to food and choice. In a culture where the possibility of wealth is so great and the acquisition of things is so defining of success, we end up pursuing things that, even if we are successful, can never deliver what we envisioned they would (Recapture…, 67).” The presence of wealth is no protection against the ravages of the soul. Emptiness still stalks the rich, loneliness still haunts the icon, and disappointment still casts its shadow amidst the cheers under the spotlight.

1 Comment

Filed under Atheism, Atheist, Christian Worldview, Christmas, Larger Story, Life Purpose, Money

Adolescent Girls Are Losing Themselves – Like Intoxicated Saplings in a Storm

The book Reviving Ophelia, written by Mary Pipher several years ago, argues how our little girls are like saplings in a storm. Our children but especially our daughters live in a media-drenched culture flooded with junk values. Not getting what they need from their parents, our kids, especially our girls, turn to the world for self-esteem. The world fragments them into powerless sex objects. Sex is not just sacred; it’s a way to sell suntan lotion, clothes, and popularity and young girls get lost in all this.

Writes Pipher: “The story of Ophelia from Shakespeare’s Hamlet shows the destructive forces that affect young women. As a girl, Ophelia is happy and free, but with adolescence she loses herself. When she falls in love with Hamlet, she lives only for his approval. She has no inner direction; rather she struggles to meet the demands of Hamlet and her father. Her value is determined utterly by their approval. Ophelia is torn apart by her efforts to please. Despondent over the death of his own father, Hamlet spurns her because she is an obedient daughter and sides with her father, she goes mad with grief. Dressed in elegant clothes that weigh her down, she drowns in a stream filled with flowers (p. 4).

Pipher maintains that girls are losing themselves like Ophelia – a symbolic figure for troubled, voiceless adolescent girls. It’s great to honor your father. But dads and moms must build a healthy self-esteem into their girls, otherwise, they will fall into the people-pleasing trap. And if you betray yourself in order to be pleasing to someone else, you lose self-worth. Society tells you many lies. You have to be a certain weight, have a particular look. Girls get mixed messages all of the time: Be sexy, but not sexual. Be honest, but don’t hurt anyone’s feelings. Be smart, but not so smart that you threaten boys. The world preaches a doctrine of image management.

What are society’s values?

Beauty: The most highly valued personal attribute in many cultures is physical attractiveness. When we as adults respond to what we perceive to be “a beautiful child” versus “an unattractive child” this has a profound impact on a developing personality. Attractive kids fair better in their grades, for example, and get more attention from adults. Beauty is retained as a value among women their entire lives. It’s not wrong to be beautiful; it is wrong to ascribe worth simply on the basis of looks or the perfection of a bodily form.

A song writer wrote: “I want to be beautiful and make you stand in awe. Look inside my heart and be amazed. I want to hear you say who I am is quite enough. I just want to be worthy of love and beautiful (Bethany Dillon “Beautiful”). This ageless longing takes on a competitive edge.

Wendy Bantam puts it this way: “Every day in the life of a woman is a walking Miss America Contest.” Sadly, girls lose if they are either too plain or too pretty. Girls who are too pretty are seen as sex objects; their appearance is their identity. Boys gravitate toward these girls, so they are popular for their looks. On the other hand, if you are too plain, you’re left out and scorned.

Intelligence: This ranks at the top of our value system. Our society says you have to be smart and you must have smart kids in order to protect the reputation of the parent. For the slow child, an educational plan that is shaped for fast-learners can disassemble the esteem of a child.

Wealth: A pimply faced kid on a bicycle is different from a pimply faced kid in a BMW. If you’ve got money, and clothes, and prestige, then you’re valuable.

Athleticism: If you’re really good athletically, you have value and notoriety. Our culture worships the sports hero.

Tony Campolo tells about a married couple that had bought into these cultural values. They were sitting in his office at Eastern College painfully confronting the reality that their nineteen-year-old daughter had not only been sexually promiscuous, but she was pregnant and had no idea who the father was. With tears running down her cheeks, the mother turned to her daughter and said “How could you do this to us after all we’ve done for you?” Campolo said if I had asked the mom just what it was she had done for her, the mother would have probably gone through a long list of all the things she and her husband had bought for their daughter. Society had conditioned them to believe that it was things their daughter needed. They had failed to provide their daughter what she really needed: available, loving parents to pay attention to her.

A few years back, I found a response to Piphers book. Sara Shandler wrote a book in response called Ophelia Speaks. She invited girls to write to her and share what was actually going on in their lives. These adolescent girls said that they felt like disappointments when compared to the media models. “They hurl us into self-loathing.”

Sara Shandler heard from young ladies who took off their masks and what she learned was an avalanche of discovery. They tell of sexual abuse, broken families, missing fathers, lost friends, pregnancy, eating disorders and dysfunctional siblings. The common wish they all had was for simple stability, a safe place where they could sort life out.

One of the themes prevalent in these Shandler essays was intoxication (46). It seems to be the medication of choice for most people. One gal writes: “Drunken couples maul each other on beer-soaked furniture. Others dance wildly. They jump and slam into each other while swearing and puking. I step over their bodies sprawled across the floor, drowning in their own vomit. As I walk toward the bedroom, the sweet mixture of incense and pot smoke drags me into the cloudy room. I join the circle. Hours later, I wake in a large, strange bed with only half my clothes… I shove the stranger off me… My eyes are bloodshot… Beer and puke stain the white carpet. The stench of the room almost causes me to fall over… I walk down litter-covered streets… It feels like forever since I last had a bath… I walk toward by friend’s house.

‘Can I crash here today?’

‘Sure…Rough night?’

I nod and… walk to the bathroom. My face is still dingy from the night before… It seems so old. I’m only fourteen.”

She tells of abuse that landed her step-father in jail. She talks about boyfriends and pregnancy and her baby boy.

This is how she concludes her article: “I’m eighteen now… Matthew (her son) is two and a half years old… Despite all that has happened to me, I have hope for my future. I don’t blame my problems on what happened. I take responsibility for my actions. I look forward to having my own place. I look forward to the beginning of my adult life. I know it’s hard for most girls to deal with a situation like this, but, for sanity, for a chance at life, it has to be dealt with (53).”

Even though this young girl began to take responsibility for her own life and decisions, many young ladies never do. Like saplings in a storm, drunk with the junk values of culture, they sheer off at the ground, and never find the safe, nurturing environment of stability that they crave.

Don’t allow this to happen in your family. Be the safe place, a place of nurture, values clarification, and identity and self-esteem development. Base it all on God (and don’t even think about being an atheist – it only complicates things).

1 Comment

Filed under Addiction, Alcohol, Atheism, Atheist, Christian Worldview, Daughters, Parenting, Teenagers, Uncategorized

“I Don’t Have a Drinking Problem” | Alcohol, Christmas, and Getting Real through Tough Love

In Brennan Manning’s book, The Ragamuffin Gospel, he tells a story about confession. He found himself in a rehab center north of Minneapolis. The setting on this particular day was in a recreation room with twenty-five chemically dependent men and a counselor named Sean Murphy-O’Connor. A man named Max was in the hot-seat, a seat in the middle of the room.

Max was a nominal Christian, married with five children, owner and president of his company, wealthy, affable, and gifted with remarkable poise. Keep in mind that no alcoholic is truthful with how much he or she drinks. Sean knows this, and so begins his day of therapy.

“Max, how long have you been drinking?”

Max gives this long, detailed list of how much and what he drinks.

At the end of it, Sean, the counselor said, “You’re a liar.”

Max was offended, but composed himself quickly. Eventually, he admitted more than before. He kept a bottle of vodka in the nightstand, a bottle of gin in the suitcase, another in his bathroom cabinet, and three more at the office.

The questioning went on, “Have you ever been unkind to one of your kids?” Max asserted that he had a good relationship with them.

“But I didn’t ask you that.”

“When have you been unkind to your kids?”

Max suddenly knew what he needed to say about his daughter on last Christmas Eve, but said that he couldn’t remember the details. Sean, put the phone on speaker mode so that all could hear, and called Max’s wife for an explanation of what he suddenly could not remember. The conversation went like this:

“Hello ma’am. I’m calling in the middle of a group therapy session and your husband just told us that he was unkind to your daughter last Christmas Eve. Can you give the details, please?”

A soft voice filled the room (I’ll paraphrase), “Yes, I can tell you the whole thing…. Max gave Debbie some money to buy the nicest shoes she could find on Christmas Eve. On his way back home, Max stopped at the Cork-n-Bottle, a tavern a few miles from our house. He locked little Debbie in the truck with the engine running to keep her warm in the 12 degree weather. It was 3 in the afternoon. Max met some army buddies in the tavern and came out of the tavern at midnight. He was drunk. The motor had stopped running and the car windows were frozen shut. Debbie was badly frostbitten on both ears and on her fingers. When we got her to the hospital, the doctors had to operate. They amputated the thumb and forefinger on her right hand. She will be deaf for the rest of her life.”

Manning describes Max when he heard these words: “Max appeared to be having a coronary. He struggled to his feet making jerky, uncoordinated movements. His glasses flew to the right and his pipe to the left. He collapsed on all fours and sobbed hysterically.”

All of the other addicts left the room and no man will ever forget what he saw that day. Max was still on all fours. His sobs had soared to shrieks. Sean, the counselor, approached him, pressed his foot against Max’s rib cage and pushed. Max rolled over on his back. Sean told him, “Get out of here before I throw up. I am not running a rehab for liars!”

Manning summarizes: “The philosophy of tough love is based on the conviction that no effective recovery can be initiated until a man admits that he is powerless over alcohol and that his life has become unmanageable… For Max there were three options: eventual insanity, premature death, or sobriety…

Max later got honest and became more open, sincere, vulnerable, and affectionate than any man in the group. Tough love had made him real and the truth had set him free (123-130).” If we are a prisoner of our pride, confession is impossible. Lies trap you because you have to live in your own false little world that you have created. You can’t allow anyone to see the true you. You have to keep up the show and keep pretending that you’re that person that everyone loves you to be.

How about getting real with your need this Christmas? You are only fooling yourself and no one else. See the real you, and rather than retreat into denial, own your problem, refuse to medicate with alcohol, and achieve a new intimacy with those you want to love over the holidays. Tough love can set you free.

2 Comments

Filed under Addiction, Alcohol, Atheism, Atheist, Christian Worldview, Christmas, Love

Why is My Child An Atheist? | Rules Minus Relationship = Rebellion

Proverbs 22:6 says: “Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

There have been many parents who have questioned why their child has become an atheist (and doesn’t appear to be coming back to their spiritual roots), especially in light of what Proverbs 22:6 says. What are we to make of this?

Chuck Swindoll in writing about this verse said, “I know any number of rebels who were forced into a restricted, parent-dominated, externally religious lifestyle during their early years in the home. And when they got free of all that, they split the scene and ran wild. I mean, really wild! And they never did stop running. In fact, they didn’t return to the Lord, even when they grew older. I know some, in fact, who died while running from Him.”

If I could give just a simple word of advice to parents, especially those with their children still at home. Parent each child individually according to their natural inclinations, rather than a “one-size-fits-all” approach. You must raise children, not just a family.

Proverbs 22:6 says: “Train up a child in the way he should go (the way he is inclined to go, i.e., habits and interests), even when he is old he will not depart from it.”

Some things to remember when you read and apply this pithy saying of wisdom to your life, particularly in the context of this question.

Remember, this verse is not a promise; it is a proverb, or a probability. A child still has a choice when he is grown and may choose to depart from what he or she was taught. But if you get to know your child deeply, and you become a student of his/her ways, the lessons you teach about God will not be soon forgotten. Chances are they’ll grow up to be Theists, but there is no absolute guarantee. Abraham Lincoln said, “There is but one way to train up a child in the way he should go, and that is to travel it yourself.” When you do that, there is a strong probability that your child will also follow your lead. What you do has more impact on that probability than all the lectures you could ever give.

Remember, this verse requires some wise disciplinary measures. The text says, “Train up a child.” This is more than just a one time event! And, this process of training starts at child birth. According to one prominent psychologist, it’s best to start disciplining your children when they’re young, approximately 14 months of age. Youngsters are more pliable until they’re around 4 years old. After that, the concrete hardens a little and you have to work harder at breaking it up. The pyschologist summarizes discipline like this: At a football game when a guy jumps off sides, what does the referee do? He doesn’t get red-faced and begin screaming about the virtues of keeping the rule. He drops the flag and he steps off the penalty. In the same way, when your child messes up, don’t break the peace of your home. You step off the penalty –– and you do it consistently. Don’t reason with the little guy or gal. Discipline them in love and with full explanations.

Remember, this verse requires that parents know their children deeply and create memories with them. The text says, “Train a child in the way he is inclined to go.” In other words, if your child likes baseball, teach him about God, about values, about life through the game of baseball. If your daughter loves art, become a student of her art and teach values through art. If your child loves hunting, teach him about God, about values, about life through the sport of hunting. And, if you personally as a parent loved to play the sport of baseball (but your son doesn’t) and couldn’t stand the sport of hunting (but your son does), learn how to hunt too if you kid loves hunt! If your child has some great questions about the deeper things of life, encourage them to keep asking them and answer them the best you can, doing research and guiding them in a Christian Theistic worldview. Remember, it’s according to “his/her way” not your way, your plan or your curriculum. Memories are more important than things. When you know and do things that your kids love to do and teach them about God in the process, they will attach your words with some of their fondest memories.

My friend Ed Frank shares that it’s important to “Discover Your Child’s Passion and Giftedness” in thinking about these things: “I would perhaps show parents ways to expose their kids to a bunch of different things while they are young (music, sports, languages, etc) and learn how to identify something their kid may enjoy and excel in, and if they do enjoy and excel in something – to “exploit” that and be willing to channel whatever resources of time, energy, and money to allow them to excel….And also to point out that if their child is a “plain jane” then that is alright because the foundation of everything is character…” Good advice Ed. But, he has more: Show the parents not to try and live their lives (with their missed goals and dreams) through their kids by forcing something on them that “isn’t them” and also avoid not exposing their kids to something because the parents don’t personally like it – like athletics (since they may have been couch potatoes all their life).

I have learned that for the most part if someone is going to be great at something – the passion and foundation is usually going to be formed during those first 18 years while at home. Start creating a thirst for God early in their lives. Do this as long as their living with you. Make being a Christian Theist a normal part of life.

Remember, this verse applies to all of your children equally, not just a select one or two of them. Otherwise, you will fuel what already exists – sibling rivalry. One of the biggest things that parents must guard against in their home, especially in the blended family situation, is sibling rivalry and parental favoritism. Susan Yates wrote about her friend Joe and his two boys. Joe’s first boy was real athletic. Because he was so athletic, he was the apple of his father’s eye. His dad loved to roughhouse with him and he encouraged him to be tough. Joe’s younger brother, Jeff, was a very sensitive child with a slight build. He disliked sports and shunned physical activity. His tendency to recoil from aggressive play irritated his dad, and he began to make fun of his son by saying, “You need to be like your brother, Joe.” But Jeff couldn’t, and he soon became the object of sarcastic comments and subtle ridicule. It was no surprise that the boys began to dislike each other. Today, as adults, the siblings have nothing to do with each other. Parents, the tendency is to favor the child that brings you the most glory and honor. If we play parental favorites with our children, showing more pride in our athlete as opposed to our artist, we’re only setting the stage for problems between our children now and down the road that may take them years to sort through defunct atheistic worldview explorations.

Sibling rivalry generally occurs for one or two reasons: (1) children are discovering who they are, and in the process, they are competing to find their own niche (their own talents, activities, interests); or (2) children feel that they are receiving unequal amounts of attention, discipline, and/or responsiveness from their parent(s). Love your children equally. Become a student of their ways and desires. Don’t compare your children with each other. Instead, study the unique way God made each one, and nurture their individual gifts. Train them to support and cheer for each other. Parents, when you pull into the driveway at home and you step out of your car and into the house, at that point, you’ve got to forget about your hard day and go after your kids like your life depended on it.

1. Parent’s, make sure before you go to bed tonight that you tell your son or daughter, “Son/Daughter, I love you. I’m proud of you.” Make sure your home is a place of affirmation. Take time with a problem child. So often what they need is meaningful human interaction.

2. Brothers and Sisters, the day will come that you’ll go your separate ways. Before you say that critical remark or offer that scourging rebuke, remember, God might want to use your sibling in a powerful way and he might want to use you in building them up.

3. Parents, love your rebel. I love this line from Josh McDowell: “Rules without relationship lead to rebellion.” Rebellion is a cry for relationship – “Pay attention to me.” If you have a rebellious child, don’t let it ruin your future. Create the kind of home and relationship that they will want to run back to. Lovingly hold them accountable and make sure they see how their behavior negatively impacts others in the family. But in all of this – love them.

4 Comments

Filed under Agnosticism, Atheism, Atheist, Children, Christian Worldview, Family, Father, Home, Mother, Parenting

“I Need a Pornography / Orgasm Fix” – A Look at Cyclical Addiction Triggers

I am going to consult Ricky Chelette for an explanation of how certain things, emotions, or experiences trigger our need for a pornography fix.

1. The first point he makes is about addiction triggers. Though many of you think that what triggers a person is the sight of a good looking man/woman, I think something much deeper is taking place. Most of our triggers fall into one of these broad categories: Health. Hunger. Angry. Lonely. Tired. Stressed. Depressed. Whenever we feel one of these feelings or something closely related to one or more of them, we have the thought of RELIEF. We all want relief from the pain, hurt and stresses of our lives. Archibald Hart asserts that the two major drives that underlie the addictive process are excitement seeking and tension reduction. This is often “set off” by a particular starting stimulus. We can call this the “trigger mechanism” for the addiction. It is the emotion or occurrence that starts a given cycle of addictive behavior.

Let’s imagine that Dave, a fictitious salesman, is generally bored with his job, but he loves to ski. Skiing is the only source of real excitement in Dave’s life; he lives for the snow slopes and dreams about nothing else. Clearly he is an addict because he neglects every other aspect of his life. Now, say it is Friday morning. Dave usually spends Fridays in the office writing up orders and processing his paperwork. This is a part of his job he particularly hates. Every form, letter, and purchase order is like poison to him; he even dislikes touching them. Dave checks his watch. Nine-thirty in the morning. Still six and a half hours to go before quitting time. He tries to concentrate, but the dull routine of his job acts as a stimulus for his addictive need. Boredom is the trigger for his addiction craving. He wants to be on the mountain. He wants to feel the cold chill of the wind and hear the swoosh of the skis. He checks his watch again. Only 9:50. The more bored Dave becomes, the more he craves his skiing fix. It’s going to be a long day!

Trigger mechanisms like Dave’s boredom begin the addictive craving for a given cycle of need. They differ from person to person and from addictive behavior to addictive behavior. Hart offers some additional common triggers: anxiety, isolation, boredom, depression, crises, sense of failure, unmet sexual needs, criticism, selfish needs. There are many other possible triggers for addictive behavior. In fact, anything that threatens failure, rejection, or abandonment can become a stimulus for an addiction cycle. Add to this the personality traits of passivity, under-assertiveness, or dependency, and you have a powerful set of addictive triggers. People often develop a deep desire for instant gratification.

2. The second point Chelette makes is about medication. The way that we find relief is to seek some form of medication. This does not have to be actual medication, though it can be and this is how people get addicted to drugs, but it is medication all the same. It is something that causes us to experience pleasure and relief.

3. The third point he makes is about preparing to medicate. Even the action toward the intended medication, is somewhat medicinal itself. For example: If you are going to do the big M (masturbation) for your medication you might get undressed and lay in bed, or jump in a warm shower. If you are going to cruise P (internet Porn) on the internet you might get into something more comfortable and begin the search process. If you are going to act out with another or “cruise,” you might get cleaned up and put on some alluring clothing or other articles that would give clues to your intent. Basically, you go through some sort of ritual of preparation. It just doesn’t “happen.” However, we have done this ritual so many times that it feels quite automatic–we may not even realize that we are doing it. It is at this stage that most people tell me that they feel as though they really can’t help themselves–“it is like another person has taken over my body and I am just on autopilot.” In many ways, they really are.

4. The fourth point he makes is about going from thought to action. I am convinced that once you move from thought to action, it is very difficult if not nearly impossible to stop the ultimate medication/action from taking place. Yes, of course God could intervene, but He has created us with free will and He rarely interferes with our willful decisions. During this phase of the cycle you are also likely to be producing adrenalin; a very strong chemical that makes a person’s heart rate increase, increases their blood pressure, and gives them a sense of invincibility.

5. The fifth point he makes is the actual follow through on the medicative fix. You carry out your medicative fix by doing the big M or having sex and achieving an orgasm in some way. When you do this, your brain produces a chemical called endorphin. This chemical is extremely strong, some say even ten times stronger than cocaine. Every time you achieve an orgasm or act out in some way to achieve your medication, endorphins are produced and your body responds in a very predictable way. This is why you get that feeling of pleasure, euphoria, or peace when you orgasm (medicate). There are actually chemicals being produced in your brain that make you feel good. The preparation for the orgasm also can produce these chemicals but not in the same quantity or intensity as the orgasm itself.

I want you to think of your brain as a CD. Each time endorphins are produced, you burn another track on that CD. If you keep playing the same tune (producing the same chemical) over a period of months/years, you burn a rut in your CD and it is very, VERY difficult to get out of that rut. It is a universal, psychologically proven fact. We establish pathways in our brain that demand that we do certain things and get our fix. Thus, we continue to the cycle of medicating our hurts. . . However, like every high, it is followed by an equally powerful low. The low begins as the chemicals in our brain are absorbed and assimilated into our bodies. We first begin to feel guilty. You see, what happens with our desire to medicate is that each time we do it, it takes a bit more stimulation to get us to the place that we have the same medicative results. We constantly need more. That is why we spiral into deeper addictions. It draws us in, deeper and deeper, until we reach the black hole–DEATH. James 1 says when sin is complete it will brings forth death: spiritual death, emotional death, and even physical death. The process is gradual most of the time, but it is guaranteed.

How can an addictive process be broken once it has begun? How do we break the cycle of sin in our lives, the need for a ritualized fix? In addition to turning to God, I think that we have to learn how to cope effectively and Biblically with our triggers. This is not easy, but it is possible. Here are some suggestions from Archibald D. Hart.

1. Understand the dynamics of addiction. The greater his or her understanding of the dynamics of the addiction, the greater his or her ability to overcome it.

2. Anticipate the triggers and expose them. Knowing the kind of circumstances that tend to “kick off” addictive behavior means that the addict can either avoid the trigger or formulate a plan for keeping the trigger from “working.” Ask a close friend or spouse to check-in with you when a trigger is going to happen. Sanitize your environment.

3. Addicts need to find alternative ways of responding to their trigger mechanisms. This means learning to deal with need in a more wholesome way. For instance, if boredom is a trigger, the addict needs to learn some way of handling boredom without resorting to the addictive behavior. If the trigger is depression, the addict must seek help in discovering the underlying cause of the depression and overcoming it. Suppressing depression is never a cure — it only prolongs the depression.

4. Last, addicts must seek spiritual and psychological healing. An addiction is a very complex learned response involving the whole person — mind, body, and spirit. The longer one has been controlled by it, the deeper it is entrenched. Lots of hard work is needed to undo these complex connections of thought, nerve, and hormone. I believe that God’s intervention is needed as well, whether He works through a direct miracle or through a more natural healing process.

1 Comment

Filed under Addiction, Atheism, Atheist, Christian Worldview, Love, Lust, Masturbation, Orgasm, Pornography, Sex, Sexual Addiction