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Some Thoughts on the Equality Act

Back in July of 2020, I responded to M.I.T professor Devin Michelle Bunten’s New York Times op-ed article “Sex Does Not Mean Gender. Equating Them Erases Trans Lives.” In my response, I noted that the worldview of transgender activists entails bringing the external world into conformity with a transgender person’s internal sense of gender, and then requiring others to think and talk the same way.

This same worldview is behind the Equality Act—a piece of legislation passed by the House of Representatives by a vote of 224–206 on February 25, 2021.

What is the Equality Act?

Placing the identities of sex, sexual orientation, and the entire array of LGBTQ+ rights alongside those of race and gender, the Equality Act amends the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to ensure that there is no discrimination in employment, education, and public funding on these bases.

I find the Equality Act troublesome for a number of reasons.

First, the name is misleading. Under the guise of non-discrimination, the Equality Act discriminates against conservative Christians, Jews, and Muslims. For this reason, George Weigel rightly called the Equality Act a “Newspeak misnomer” on par with George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984. This is about compelling adherence to gender ideology, not equality.

Second, it presents a threat to religious liberty. As currently written, the Equality Act includes no provisions respecting religious liberty. In fact, it explicitly denies citizens the right to appeal to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA)—a bill passed by Congress and signed into law under President Bill Clinton in 1993. The RFRA was designed to protect people of all faiths by requiring the government to do all it can to avoid over-burdening religious people. The Equality Act does not do that.

Third, it gives the government too much power. When a reporter asked Democratic Representative David Cicilline of Rhode Island if the Equality Act would curtail religious liberty, he responded: “The determination would have to be made as to whether or not the decisions they [that is, religious institutions] are making are connected to their religious teachings and to their core functions as a religious organization, or as a pretext to discriminate.” Not to be outdone, Democratic Congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland defended the Equality Act by claiming that “every scoundrel in American history has tried to dress up his or her opposition to other people’s civil rights in religious garb.”

Note carefully: The Equality Act gives the government the right to decide if a Christian organization’s policies are connected to their doctrine or simply a “pretext to discriminate.” Al Mohler summarized the matter well: “Religious liberty disappears if the state is going to tell Christians what Christianity is.” After all, the whole point of Christianity is to interpret everything in accordance with our religious teachings.

But not only does the bill threaten religious liberty, it also imperils the rights of conscience for those in the medical profession. As currently written, the Equality Act carves out no exceptions for physicians who decline to give hormone blockers to, or perform mastectomies on, young girls.

Furthermore, it does not protect women. As currently written, female prisoners will be required to share cells with men claiming to be women. Moreover, female victims of domestic abuse will be required to live with biological men self-identifying as women in domestic abuse shelters.

Fourth, the worldview undergirding the Equality Act rejects the created order. In the world constructed by the writers of the Equality Act, gender, marriage, and family, are products of the human will. This renders the goods of gender, marriage, and family as achievements, rather than gifts. But in the Christian worldview, maleness and femaleness are gifts from God, not something we declare ourselves to be. Secondly, in the Christian worldview marriage is grounded in the created order, as one man and one woman leave their family of origin and unite in the covenant of marriage to form a new family. Please note carefully what this means: The government does not define marriage. Thirdly, in the Christian worldview the offspring from the marital union are gifts from God and one of the goods of marriage. Again, the role of the government is to recognize this reality. Conceiving of marriage and family as products of the human will means that they rest, at least in part, on the goodwill of the state. If the government grants these rights, then they can revoke them as well.[1]

In tandem with my fourth point, we should also note that the ideology undergirding the Equality Act is out of step with the Christian worldview. As Carl Trueman superbly documents in his most recent publication The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self (get your copy before Amazon delists it) three revolutionary ideas had to take hold in the human psyche in order for a piece of legislation like this to make sense: 1) the self must be psychologized, 2) psychology must be sexualized, and 3) sex must be politicized.[2] Trueman takes 400-plus pages to explain how this happened, but we must highlight four contributing factors: Identity politics, intersectionality, critical theory, and cultural Marxism. Briefly, after the proletariat failed to follow through on its assigned role in the wake of the Bolshevik Revolution, some left wing theorists built on the ideas of Italian Communist Antonio Gramsci and invented a new proletarian class. This class was “the oppressed,” defined as those excluded from cultural power. Have I lost you? If so, here’s the point: In the world constructed by the authors of the Equality Act, Christian theology and morality represent oppressive bourgeois ideology, and in their view it must be torn down.[3]

So what do we make of all this? Well, what we have here is an inevitable clash of worldviews. And for Christians committed to the teaching of Holy Scripture, we cannot—we will not—submit to the government if they foist this upon us.

Will Christians be able to practice their faith free from government interference much longer? I can’t say for sure, but I keep coming back to Representative Cicilline’s words: “It will have to be determined.” Buckle your seatbelts, church. It’s gut check time.

The following words from the Puritan John Flavel (d. 1691) have been a tremendous comfort to me as of late:

“If you estimate the happiness of the church by its worldly ease, splendour and prosperity, then such times of affliction will appear to be unfavourable; but if you reckon its glory to consist of its humility, faith, and heavenly-mindedness, no condition so abounds with advantages for these as an afflicted condition. . . . There is no reason to fear the ruin of that people who thrive by their losses and multiply by being diminished. . . . For above eighteen hundred years the Christian church has been in affliction, and yet it is not consumed; many a wave of persecution has gone over it, yet it is not drowned; many devices have been formed against it, hitherto none of them has prospered. This is not the first time that Hamans and Ahithophels have plotted its ruin; that a Herod has stretched out his hand to vex it; still it has been preserved from, supported under, or delivered out of all its troubles.”[4]

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[1] Douglas Farrow perceptively notes, “In both countries [Canada and the United States], courts and legislatures increasingly hold that respect for autonomy and dignity requires the recognition of a man as a woman and a woman as a man, simply on the say-so of the person in question. Which is absurd. And for the sake of that absurdity, the law is busy evacuating itself of the body and of identity based upon the body. As it does so, identity becomes a legal fiction, and law becomes lawless, beholden to no objective reality. For there can be no real law, and no real justice, where the subjects of the law and justice are entirely self-determining—where they are the lawgivers and high priests of their own existence, and able, as it were, to transubstantiate themselves by the mere declaration, haec est persona mea” (Theological Negotiations: Proposals in Soteriology and Anthropology [Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2018], 191n72, 192).

[2] Carl R. Trueman, The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self: Cultural Amnesia, Expressive Individualism, and the Road to the Sexual Revolution (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2020), 221.

[3] Ibid., 89, 279. On Amazon delisting books, see Ryan T. Anderson, “Amazon Won’t Let You Read My Book,” Wall Street Journal (March 17, 2021): A17, and John Holdenried, “Big Tech Censors Religion, Too,” Wall Street Journal (March 29, 2021): A17.

[4] John Flavel, Keeping the Heart: How to Maintain Your Love for God (Scotland: Christian Heritage, 1999), 51–52, 54.

Run Away from Crowds

Introduction

A few days ago I pulled Paul Tripp’s book Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry off my shelf and was quite disheartened. Three out of the five celebrity pastors who endorsed the book are no longer in ministry due to moral failures of various kinds.

This got me thinking: Is there any connection between pastoral celebrity and moral failure? I suppose I can’t say for sure. But as I stated in a previous post, I think it’s probably the case that pastors begin their ministry with a sincere desire to serve Christ, but the “unholy trinity” of the world, the flesh, and the Devil (1 Jn. 2:15–17) tempts them to pervert their calling and instead exalt themselves and chase the applause of man.

Chasing Significance

John Piper once said that “sin is trying to quench our soul thirst anywhere but in God.”[1] And pastors often try to quench their soul thirst by chasing signficance.

Consider a story with me.

After he graduated from seminary, Richard Lischer wanted a “significant ministry.” For him, this meant “a cutting-edge pastoral appointment in a socially conscious but not unaffluent congregation, followed by a professorship in our denomination’s flagship seminary.”

But as Providence would have it, the higher-ups in his denomination sent him to a small country church in a rural community. When he laid eyes on his first church, he felt “a crushing sense of disappointment,” and muttered under his breath, “So this is what has been prepared for me? . . . I wasn’t so put off by the physical appearance of the church as I was by its obvious irrelevance.” He knew that “unstrategic little churches” were out there, but he never wanted to serve one.[2]

Why not? I think the answer is rather simple: He needed to get over himself. And we all do. Pastoral ministry is about serving, not about chasing feelings of significance.

To etch this lesson deep in our souls, I would strongly encourage aspiring pastors to begin their ministries in a setting like the one Lischer described above. Serving in a smaller context where life and ministry move more slowly, where church growth is more difficult, and where resistance to change is more considerable, helps smooth out some of the rough edges of our temperament. It helps us get over ourselves. And perhaps more importantly, it will help you discern if you actually want to be a pastor.

A Different Path

To be clear: I’m not opposed to large churches or well-known pastors. The question is one’s motives and one’s method. Motives will always be a tricky thing to decipher given the corruption within: “The human heart has so many crannies where vanity hides, so many holes where falsehood lurks, is so decked out with deceiving hypocrisy, that it often dupes itself” (Calvin, Institutes, 3. 2. 10).

But methods are another thing. And this we cannot deny: In today’s world pastors market themselves. They seek to become social media influencers and build their brand.

I would encourage pastors to follow the path laid out by Francis Schaeffer (1912–1984):

“All of us—pastors, teachers, professional religious workers and nonprofessional included—are tempted to say, ‘I will take the larger place because it will give me more influence for Jesus Christ.’ Both individual Christians and Christian organizations fall prey to the temptation of rationalizing this way as we build bigger and bigger empires. But according to Scripture this is backwards: we should consciously take the lowest place unless the Lord Himself extrudes us into a greater place. The word extrude is important here. To be extruded is to be forced out under pressure into a desired shape. . . . The Christian leader should be a quiet man of God who is extruded by God’s grace into some place of leadership.”[3]

Conclusion

I can’t see inside anyone’s heart, but I know I can’t trust my own. Quite often it tells me the same thing Jesus’ disciples told him: “No one works in secret if he seeks to be known openly. . . . Show yourself to the world” (John 7:4). However, God’s teaching me to follow Jesus’ example: To spend time alone and in desolate places praying (Luke 5:16). I need to starve the desire for fame and run away from crowds.

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[1] John Piper, God’s Passion for His Glory: Living the Vision of Jonathan Edwards (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1998), 81.

[2] Richard Lischer, Open Secrets: A Spiritual Journey through a Country Church (New York: Doubleday, 2001), 45, 10–11, 8.

[3] Francis A. Schaeffer, “No Little People, No Little Places,” in The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer, Vol. 3, A Christian View of Spirituality 2nd ed. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 1982), 12–13.

 

Incomplete Thoughts on Prayer

Several months back I came across a book on prayer that I found troubling. The author stated that the purpose of prayer was to get answers. As you might expect, the author never mentioned that God might say no or not yet to our requests. Instead, as imagined by this writer, the goal of prayer was to get God to say yes to our petitions. He existed to add his blessing to the life we’ve chosen for ourselves. Please and thank you.

I wish I could say I’m better than the author of that book, but I can’t. I have more in common with Simon the Sorcerer than I might care to admit (Acts 8:14–14), and here’s why:

I would prefer to use God rather than serve him. Just say the prescribed words and . . . viola! . . . God does what I want him to do. Perform a ritual, go through the religious motions, and . . . presto! . . . God performs on demand. I want a divine vending machine, not a relationship with the sovereign Lord. I want a God I can control. Actually, I want to be God.

But I don’t think Scripture portrays the discipline of prayer that way. Here’s what I do see:

Prayer is communing with God. Think of it like this: We commune with “the happy God” (1 Tim. 1:11). And “[p]rayer is our way of entering into the happiness of God himself.”[1] We enjoy his happiness by starting our days acknowledging his presence and talking with him as the day unfolds. We open ourselves up to God and seek to discern how he is at work in the details of our lives. One way to do this is by making connections between our morning Scripture reading and the events of a given day. For example, during my spells of dizziness last week, my mind often returned to Exodus 14:13–14: “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. . . . The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” I responded by thanking God for his promises.

We commune with God. We do not commandeer him.

Prayer is making our requests known to God. My go-to verses are Psalm 62:8 and Philippians 4:7. In the first text David encourages us: “Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him” (Psalm 62:8). In the second, Paul urges, “let your requests be made known to God” (Phil. 4:6). These passages, I believe, call us to move beyond envisioning prayer as nothing more than rattling off a laundry list of entreaties. Think of prayer instead as “mental wandering in the presence of God.”[2] This will free you from loathing yourself when you lose focus. Don’t do that. Tell God what’s on your mind and then refocus. You’re talking to your God. You can speak to him as you would to the dearest friend you have on earth.

To those wondering: Why do I need to tell God what I need if he already knows? (Ps. 139:4; Matt. 6:8). Tim Keller provides a biblical response: “God often waits to give a blessing until you have prayed for it. Why? Good things that we do not ask for will usually be interpreted by our hearts as the fruit of our own wisdom and diligence. Gifts from God that are not acknowledged as such are deadly to the soul, because they thicken the illusion of self-sufficiency that leads to overconfidence and sets us up for failure.”[3]

A transactional relationship with God is more efficient, less time consuming, and caters to our selfishness. But life with God is an adventure. He is always committed to us, constantly at work, doing far more than we can see. Pour out your heart to him. Make your requests known. Then watch what he does.

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[1] Timothy Keller, Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God (New York: Dutton, 2014), 68.

[2] David Hansen, Long Wandering Prayer: An Invitation to Walk with God (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2001), 11.

[3] Keller, Prayer, 102.

Ascetical Christian Thinking and Living

Introduction: Two Quotes
Consider two quotes with me.

The first comes from philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724–1804):

“Enlightenment is man’s emergence from his self-imposed immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use one’s understanding without guidance from another” ~ Immanuel Kant[1]

The second is from King Solomon:

“Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him” (Proverbs 26:12).

What we have here are divergent conceptions of human reason. And the more I talk with my fellow Christians, the more I think we need to give some consideration to this topic.

Lend me your ear for a few minutes as we traverse some bumpy terrain.

Kant and Scripture
According to historian W. Andrew Hoffecker, Kant believed that human reason “must not be subservient either willingly or under coercion to any authority outside itself.”[2] For Kant, therefore, genuine freedom demands autonomous reason.

According to the Bible, however, human beings are not only creatures, but also fallen sinners, which means that 1) we are not entitled to autonomous reason, and 2) our reasoning powers have been corrupted—though not destroyed—by the fall. This is why the fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom (Prov. 1:7; 9:10; Ps. 111:10).

Living wisely in God’s world means coming to terms with our created and dependent status and offering the entirety of our being to God—heart, soul, mind, and strength. Those wise in their own eyes are fools (Ps. 14:1) not because they lack intellectual capabilities, but because rejecting God results in constructing “a false world within which false gods play their role as securing and validating the very falsity itself.”[3]

Deifying reason leads inexorably to divinizing our own moral standards. Such a scheme results in creating a fantasy world where our reasoning is nothing more than a self-affirming device that enslaves us to a multitude of impieties. Put differently, rejecting God’s revelation is a repudiation of our humanity: “To be a creature is to have one’s being in relation to God, for ‘to be’ is ‘to be in relation’ to the creator, and only so to have life and to act. To be a sinner is to repudiate this relation, and so absolutely to imperil one’s life by seeking to transcend creatureliness and become one’s own origin and one’s own end.”[4]

Or, to quote St. Paul, claiming to be wise, we become fools (Rom. 1:22).

Improper Conceptions of Reason
All this brings us to why thinking properly about the role of human reason is so central to the Christian life.

As you probably know, some people reject Christianity as a whole, or certain Christian doctrines or morals in particular, because they find it/them unreasonable—by which they mean not in keeping with reason.

But construing matters this way betrays an improper conception of reason. For starters, claiming that an assertion is out of step with reason presupposes that reason is an independent source of revelation. We apply our reasoning powers as we read, study, and ponder various topics, but reason is not a source of knowledge. Dutch Reformed theologian Herman Bavinck (1854–1921) put it memorably: “the intellect is an instrument, not a source.”[5] Reason is the organ, not the fountain of knowledge. We are rational beings, but according to Scripture our rationality must not function autonomously.

Fellow Dutch theologian Gisbertus Voetius (1589–1676) helpfully chimes in by reminding us that human reason is “the receiving subject of faith,” but is not the “principle by which or through which, or else on the ground of which or why we believe, or the foundation, law, or norm of what must be believed.”[6] The reason for this, according to Scripture, is obvious: Unregenerate human reason is not trustworthy because it is “sottishly blind and ignorant”[7] (Jn. 1:5, 9; Rom. 1:21–23; 1 Cor. 1:23, 2:14, 25; Eph. 4:17–18, 5:8). True, the unregenerate can read and comprehend Scripture, but apart from a work of grace, they not only fail to embrace gospel truths but also deny the excellency of such truths and fail to “feed upon them with intense satisfaction.”[8]

Secondly, our thinking is rooted in our being.[9] There is no disembodied reason. We do not have a neutral vantage point by which to contemplate God, life, and morality. And as already indicated, we are sinful creatures who must be cured of “the tumor of pride.”[10] Conclusion? Our innate ideas of God and morality are not neutral. By (fallen) human nature we are “disinclined to the true, the good, and the beautiful.”[11]

Here’s what I’m getting at: Since God is the source and end of all things (Rom. 11:36), we can only properly interpret life and reality through the spectacles of his revelation: “Just as the physical eye cannot see anything unless the sun sheds its rays over it, so neither can we see any truth except in the light of God, which is the sun of our knowledge. God is the light of reason in which, by which, and through which all things shine so as to be intelligible, shine.”[12]

In light of this, we can say that corrupt reasoning manifests itself when it summons God into its court, judges him, finds his revelation wanting, and throws it aside. Additionally, we can also say that God has acted to overthrow our intellectual hostility to his authoritative revelation through his Word and Spirit, and thus heal it by grace.[13]

So, what does this mean for us? I think it means that Christian thinking and living is an ascetical practice. By ascetical I mean that it will involve intellectual repentance and cleansing. Since regeneration does not bring us into a state of perfection, idolatry will remain an ever-present threat in every area of our lives, including our thoughts about God.

Embracing Ascetical Christian Thinking and Living
In Romans 12:2 Paul exhorts Christians: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Central to Christian living is the mind renewal enterprise—the slow and steady process of expunging idolatrous notions of God and replacing them with God honoring thoughts.

Practically, this means we must embrace ascetical Christian thinking and living because the old Adam is in a constant bid for “freedom”—a perverse vision of liberation that amounts to enslavement to that “merciless tyrant” we call Satan.[14] A large part of the Christian life, then, will involve learning that we cannot absolutize our own interpretive criteria and stand in judgment of God’s revelation. As Francis Turretin (1623–1687) wisely observed: “Reason is to be brought into captivity (2 Cor. 10:5) when it exalts itself against Christ and his gospel, but it can be heard when it is obedient and judges from it.”[15]

Embracing Holy Listening and Dependent Prayer
Here’s a glorious but neglected dimension to the good news: God’s redemptive work centers on reordering our loves and healing our ignorance!

The abundant life that Christ came to give us involves acknowledging him as our Creator, humbling receiving his Word, and placing ourselves at his disposal, which entails bringing our lives—including our thought lives!—into accordance with his revealed will.

Carrying out this task faithfully involves the following: We must adopt the disposition of beggars who humbly receive God’s authoritative revelation. Our posture must be prayerful. The location must be the communion of saints—the local church. The ultimate end is the praise of our Triune God.

“Your whole nature must be re-born; your passions, and your affections, and your aims, and your conscience, and your will, must all be bathed in a new element, and reconsecrated to your Maker—and the last not the least, your intellect” ~ John Henry Newman (1801–1890)[16]

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[1] Immanuel Kant, “What Is Enlightenment?” cited in Marcia Baron, “Moral Paragons and the Metaphysics of Morals,” in A Companion to Kant, ed. Graham Bird, Blackwell Companions to Philosophy (Chichester, England: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010), 346.

[2] W. Andrew Hoffecker, “Enlightenments and Awakenings: The Beginning of Modern Culture Wars,” in Revolutions in Worldview: Understanding the Flow of Western Thought, ed. W. Andrew Hoffecker (Philipsburg, NJ: P&R), 265.

[3] Robin Scroggs, “New Being: Renewed Mind: New Perception,” in The Texts and the Times: New Testament Essays for Today (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1977), 177.

[4] John Webster, Holiness (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2003), 84.

[5] Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Vol. 1, Prolegomena, ed. John Bolt, trans. John Vriend (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2003), 217.

[6] Gisbertus Voetius, “The Use of Reason in Matters of Faith,” in Willem van Asselt et. al., Introduction to Reformed Scholasticism (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformed Heritage Books, 2011), 228, 230.

[7] Jonathan Edwards, “Natural Men in a Dreadful Condition,” Natural Men in a Dreadful Condition  —  Jonathan Edwards (biblebb.com) (accessed 14 March 2020).

[8] Charles Spurgeon, “Natural or Spiritual!” The Spurgeon Library | Natural or Spiritual! (accessed 14 March 2020).

[9] Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, 367.

[10] Augustine, The Trinity, trans. Edmund Hill, ed. John E. Rotelle (Hyde Park, NY: New City Press, 2015), 8. 5. 11.

[11] Michael Allen, “Disputation for Scholastic Theology: Engaging Luther’s 97 Theses,” Themelios 44:1 (2019): 105–119. See esp. 108.

[12] Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, 232.

[13] Francis Turretin, Institutes of Elenctic Theology, trans. George Musgrave Giger, ed. James T. Dennison, Jr. (Philipsburg, NJ: P&R, 1992), 1. 9. 14.

[14] Thomas Watson, The Lord’s Prayer (1692; repr. Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 2020), 62.

[15] Turretin, Institutes, 1. 10. 7.

[16] John Henry Newman, Apologia Pro Vita Sua, ed. David DeLaura (New York: W. W. Norton, 1968), 191.

Sayonara Social Media

 Impeccably Bad Timing

After a twelve year love-hate relationship with Facebook, I have decided to permanently deactivate my account. Due to my impeccably bad timing, some may view this as a political statement. I assure you it is not. Rather, eliminating social media from my life will result in more in-person conversations with friends as well as contribute to the kind of person I hope to become.

I realize this post might come off as the blogosphere equivalent of a pharisaical sounding of the trumpet. But I share the reasons for my departure so that you hear it from me. Of course, I would be lying if I said I didn’t hope that others would take the plunge with me.

Garden Variety Reasons

My reasons for leaving are the usual suspects.

  • It’s distracting and time consuming.
  • It’s the overtly political, hyperpartisan status updates.
  • It’s the information overload factor.

Beyond this, I believe our souls are withering under the perpetual blast of flickering images, skimmed articles, and click bait masquerading as objective journalism. All this is unhealthy in multiple ways.

To state the obvious, our minds weren’t meant to process this much data. Secondly, scanning blogposts as opposed to careful reading and patient reflection is not only a bad habit but leads people to reach conclusions without deliberate humility and caution.

That increasing numbers of people in our culture—both inside and outside the church—are more excited about their political opponents getting “owned” in a debate than they are about listening well is not a good sign. A steady diet of crude prose, crass arguments, and coarse language will form citizens incapable of self-restraint and rational interchange. Much of the online nastiness (what John Suler calls “the online disinhibition effect”[1]) is spilling over into our public debates, though admittedly it’s a bit of a stretch to call these unedifying spectacles “debates.”

Which brings me to another point: Social media platforms are not conducive to serious conversations—the kind I hope to have. In fact, conversations rarely, if ever, take place. Everyone’s always in Refutation Mode. As the late economist J. K. Galbraith (1908–2006) once noted, “Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy with the proof.” That’s all I see on Facebook.

C. S. Lewis’s description of hell in The Scewtape Letters sounds eerily similar to what I encountered on social media: “. . . everyone is perpetually concerned about his own dignity and advancement . . . everyone has a grievance . . . everyone lives the deadly serious passions of envy, self-importance, and resentment.”[2]

Prayer Requests

So, would you pray for me?

To cultivate a calm and quiet heart (Psalm 131:2).

To become a better listener (James 1:19).

To restrain my speech (Prov. 16:23).

To encourage rather than tear down (Prov. 18:14; Eph. 4:29–32).

May I be “shorn and purified, as if tonsured.”[3]

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[1] See John Suler, “The Online Disinhibition Effect,” CyberPsychology & Behavior 7:3 (2004): 321–326, as cited in Alan Jacobs, How to Think: A Survival Guide for a World at Odds (New York: Currency, 2017), 80.

[2] C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters (London: Macmillan, 1962), ix.

[3] Jane Kenyon, “August Rain, After Haying,” in Otherwise: New & Selected Poems (St. Paul: Graywolf, 1996), 181.