Womens Issues

As you may know Zondervan has recently published their new 2011 NIV. You may also know that it has come under a lot of fire from a number of sides. Even the Southern Baptist Convention has made resolutions against it in their recent meeting.

Over at the blog of the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood Mary Kassian has written on Ten Reasons Why the New NIV Bible is Bad for Women. Her opening words tell you where she is going:

Don’t get me wrong. I like to be hip. And I enjoy cappuccino as much as the next person. But my biggest beef with gender-inclusive Bibles is that they lack doctrinal precision. If you mess with the words, you mess with the meaning.

You can read all ten of her reasons here along with the explanations.

“Abortion is the defining experience of this generation. It is an experience involving the shedding of innocent blood, a sin of bloodguilt, a sin that can only be addressed by a forthright, compassionate, and unapologetic gospel.” In his new book Innocent Blood, John Ensor makes a passionate plea for the church to “prevent the death of innocents and the bloodguilt that results.” Ensor grounds this plea in Deuteronomy 19:7-10:

Therefore I command you, You shall set apart three cities. And if the Lord your God enlarges your territory, as he has sworn to your fathers, and gives you all the land that he promised to give to your fathers…then you shall add three other cities to these three, lest innocent blood be shed in your land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance, and so the guilt of bloodshed be upon you.

The numbers are staggering:

  1. There are 42 million induced abortions performed worldwide very year.
  2. At the current rate, one-third of all American women has or will have had an abortion by the age of 45.
  3. Women who have an abortion are at an elevated risk of death caused by many things such as suicide and depression.
  4. China alone is responsible for over 400 million deaths by abortion which is 25% more than America.
  5. 56% of the world’s female suicides occur in China which is five times the world average.

Ensor’s aim is simple, to present a biblical case for why believers should not partake in the shedding of innocent blood and do what they can to stop it from happening. This is a call to protect the innocent among us.

Who are the innocent among us?

They are

The harmless, pure, or free from guilt before our fellow man or the laws of man. Babies and little children come to mind first when we speak of the innocent in this sense; they are harmless and without guile. But adults, too, are called innocent when they have done nothing wrong toward their neighbor. To punish them without due process, or on the basis of a false report, or because they are poor and have no proper defenders, or to please the wealthy or powerful, is to harm the innocent.

Why should we care for the innocent and vulnerable among us?

Christ cared for them and they have value because He made them. Being made in the image of God gives value to every person despite the color of their skin or the stage of their human development. Because the innocent Christ shed His blood to save us we should seek to save the innocent among us. God shows His value for our lives through Christ’s shedding of blood and so we should value the life of others.

Who is guilty of shedding innocent blood?

The answer may shock you. Ensor rightly points out that it is not just those who have a direct hand in the killing of the innocent but those who can do something to prevent it and don’t. This second category joins more of us into it than we may want to think and the weight of our responsibility is heavy. Ensor is clear that God will exact justice and judgment on those who shed innocent blood and it goes for both parties – the active and passive participants.

So what is the hope of the bloodguilty?

The hope of the bloodguilty is nothing other than the shedding of blood in the atonement of Christ. Ironically, it is the shedding of the innocent Christ’s blood that provides the atoning covering for the bloodguilty. Innocence for guilt. Ensor masterfully points out that Satan tried to attack baby Jesus as an infant. Jesus Himself as a baby was the target of innocent killing. Herod tried to take his life as a baby and Pilate succeeded while he was a man. The first attempt on his life would have stopped the gospel from becoming a reality. The second attempt resulted in his death and made the gospel a reality.

Innocent Blood: Challenging the Powers of Death with the Life of the Gospel is a jolt to the conscience of anyone who reads it. It is a much needed gut check on how truly pro-life one is. It will challenge your heart and make you ask yourself if you are doing your part to stop the shedding of innocent blood. You will finish the book asking yourself one question – do I have the blood of the innocent on my hands?

NOTE: I received this book for free and was under no obligation to provide a favorable review.

I remember seeing Russell Moore’s Facebook status the night before he posted his controversial post on Christian romance novels. It read, “Wondering whether posting my blog in the morning is worth all the hate mail it will bring!” While I don’t know how much hate mail he received I am sure it was a lot.

Moore’s post created a fire storm of responses from across the board (just google them). Notably is the response of Caryn Rivadeneria over at the her.meneutics blog on the Christianity Today web site.

The basis for Moore’s post stems from the findings of Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam in their recent book A Billion Wicked Thoughts: What the World’s Largest Experiment Reveals about Human Desire. While the authors are primarily going after the porn industry they do make comments, conclusions and parallels between the marketing and commercializing of porn and romance novels. Moore states,

The research explores further what the commercialized romance industry tells us about what it means to be a woman (at least in a fallen world). Women are much less likely to be drawn to visual pornography (although more do so than one might think), but are quite likely to be involved in such media as Internet romantic fiction or the old-fashioned romance novel.

The romance novel follows, the researchers argue, a typical pattern. The hero is almost never, they say, a blue collar worker, a bureaucrat, or someone in the traditionally feminine occupations (hairdresser, kindergarten teacher, etc.). He is competent, confident, and usually wealthy. He is, in short, an alpha male.

But, they argue, this alpha male is typically a rough character who learns to be tamed into kindness, kindness to her. Thus, you wind up with not only the strong silent cowboys with the soft interior life, but also these days vampires and werewolves and Vikings.

Moore’s greatest concern with romance novels, more specifically Christian romance novels, is that they seem to draw women out of the reality of their marriage into the world of another. Moore concludes,

How many disappointed middle-aged women in our congregations are reading these novels as a means of comparing the “strong spiritual leaders” depicted there with what by comparison must seem to be underachieving lumps lying next to them on the couch?

This is not to equate morally “romance novels” with the grave soul destruction of pornography. But it is worth asking, “Is what I’m consuming leading me toward contentment with my spouse (or future spouse) or away from it? Is it pointing me to the other in one-flesh union or to an eroticized embodiment of my own desires? Is this the mystery or a mirage?

It is in response to the claim that women compare their “real” marriages to these imaginary marriages that Caryn writes her response. Caryn states that even after reading two of these type novels she “wasn’t compelled to rush out and buy more. I may be hooked on reading, but not on romance, per se.” Caryn interviewed Allie Pieter, a Christian romance novelist, about how she as a writer and other women who read her books view romance novels. Allie states,

Most women are smart enough to know that real life has no violins swelling behind the drop-dead-gorgeous hero professing love in a dramatic sunset. They can be entertained by the ideal of the story without turning it into some kind of impossible relational checklist.

Caryn agrees and even cites some Scripture to support her point:

Of course, some might try this logic with porn: that pornography viewers (or readers) understand it’s not real. But there’s a difference still, and it lies in Scripture. Philippians 4:8 says, “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable.”

Simply put: romance is lovely, among other things — or at least can be. Romance can and does get corrupted in our fallen world, but even God uses romance in his Word as an image to help us understand his love for us and what our love for him might be. God never uses images of lust and degrading sex to do the same.

I strongly encourage you to read the rest here.

I still have some more thinking to do on this but after talking with my wife about it last night I find myself backing away from some of my original thinking. After all, my wife is level headed, wise and well she loves me and not the men portrayed in the books she reads.

I have to confess that I am not  a huge fan of romance movies or Christian romance novels. At this point I am not going to set out all of my reservations about them but I will point you to Russell Moore who has articulated some that I agree with. You will be interested to see what he draws comparisons to.

Read the whole thing here.

So what do you think?