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Dr. Paul J. Dean Christian Blog and Commentary

Dr. Paul J. Dean

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Dr. Paul Dean is a pastor, cultural commentator, and author. He serves as a Regional Mentor with the International Association of Biblical Counselors, speaks at several conferences throughout the year, and provides training for ministers and churches on a regular basis. Paul resides in the Upstate of South Carolina with his wife and three children.

Okay – enough is enough. I’m caught up in the Madness like everyone else and was watching Virginia beat Memphis this weekend. No problem there. Suddenly, I saw a manly looking man in the crowd holding up a sign that said, “Man crush on Joe Harris.” There’s the problem. Can we just stop it with the “man crush” thing? And while we’re at it, let’s stop the “bromance” thing, the getting-in-touch-with-your-feminine-side thing, and any other thing that blurs the lines between the sexes, gender identity, and/or heterosexuality vs. homosexuality. Despite where the culture is trending on moral and gender issues (and where the culture is trending on those issues should be our cue to run in the opposite direction), and I mean this in an observational and not derogatory way, when a man says he has a man crush on another man he looks – well – unmanly. There are other words you could insert there.

It’s not just me who notices these things, whether for or agin. I was going from memory concerning the Virginia man’s object of affection and wanted to be sure his name was Joe Harris – so I googled. To my surprise an article popped up entitled: “Virginia’s Joe Harris has NCAA tournament fans swooning.” And right there in the opening lines I read this: “With the game’s outcome all but decided mere minutes into the game and Virginia’s trip to the Sweet 16 secured, there wasn’t much else to do at Sunday’s game besides make deep emotional confessions, apparently. A grown man proudly held a sign high that read “MAN CRUSH ON JOE HARRIS.” Now, I don’t know if Nicole Aeurbach of USA Today is making fun of this guy or not; but you’d have to be asleep to miss her meaning with the adverb “proudly.” She didn’t even have to refer to his sign as a “deep emotional confession” but she obviously wanted to make her meaning clear.

What we’re witnessing is the inexorable feminization and homosexualization of our culture. And while the world scolds those who throw around boorish stereotypes the Scriptures clearly teach that men should look and act like men and women should look and act like women. To blur those lines is to rebel against God and the way He’s made things. Here’s what Paul says for example: “Does not even nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him? But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her; for her hair is given to her for a covering” (1 Cor. 11:14-15). Paul’s point is clear: nature teaches us that men and women are different and should act accordingly. And just in case we miss what nature teaches, we have the revealed will of God on the matter in Paul’s words.

The issue of nature, the way God has made things, is huge to say the least. Why do you think Paul refers to homosexuality as against nature?

For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due (Rom. 1:26-27).

The point is clear. The reason homosexuality is wrong is because God says it’s wrong; God says it’s wrong because it’s against nature – the way He has made things. And of course the way He has made things is not arbitrary but flows from His righteous character.

Here’s another verse: “Nor shall any woman stand before an animal to mate with it. It is confusion” (Lev. 18:23). What does He mean by confusion? The Hebrew word refers to a violation of nature; we’re talking about a confusion of nature – the way God has made things. The word “perversion” is used in other translations: same thing. (By the way, Doug Wilson has a thought-provoking piece on the issue of nature well worth reading).

Aren’t there bigger fish to fry than some guy having a man crush on Joe Harris when it comes to issues of sexual identity? Sure there are, in some sense. But some Christians even speak this way and blur gender lines in other ways and chalk it up to simply having fun with something. But these things are not-so-subtle manifestations of real heart and worldview issues. A simple reading of “man crush” and “bromance” in the urban dictionary reveals that the culture does in fact inject sexual attraction into the meaning of these terms though in some sense they try to downplay it. This downplay is rooted in the conscience that says there is something not quite right about these things though they are perfectly acceptable in our culture. Christians have to decide who they are and who they represent. They have to decide whether they will be guided by revelatory Scripture or rebellious culture. Paul says we are not ignorant of Satan’s devices (2 Cor. 2:11). Apparently some of us are.

So, yes men; please don’t be unmanly. Don’t talk about having a man crush or a bromance. Don’t carry your wife’s purse; you’re not being a servant, you’re being a woman. And don’t dress like a woman even as a joke. It’s one thing to eat meat without questioning whether it’s been in an idol temple (1 Cor. 10:25). There’s nothing inherently wrong with eating meat. But it’s another thing for a man to dress like a woman; that’s in a different category (1 Cor. 11:14-15). Liberty has to do with things that are lawful, not merely things on which we Christians disagree. If you’re a man, you have liberty to act for a girl but you don’t have liberty to act like a girl.

So, here’s some advice for Christian men as well as for our Virginia fan with the sign: “Man up!”

Check out Dr. Dean’s audio news and worldview commentaries, The Dean’s List as well as his new e-book “Naked and Unashamed: Liberating Sex from Cultural Captivity”. You can also follow him on Twitter: @pauldeanjr.

I had an E.F. Hutton moment when I walked into a deli in New Orleans and ordered a roast beef sandwich on Friday during Lent. As soon as I realized what the stares were all about I quickly changed my order out of respect. At the same time, having lived in New Orleans for a number of years, I was asked more than once why I didn’t observe Lent. Depending upon who was doing the asking my typical reply might start with, “You mean aside from its pagan origin, its popish idolatry, and its cultural hypocrisy?” The quip about cultural hypocrisy was contextually related to Mardi Gras – you know, since we were in New Orleans and all – just saying.

I’ve read the arguments from evangelicals as to why we should consider observing lent (despite the other stuff that goes with it). They say it’s good to give up something during Lent to curtail our satiation with things (as if things themselves are somehow evil). Sure Christians can fast in order to focus on God but it has nothing to do with satiation. When we fast we pray; its fasting that prompts us to pray for something specific and reminds us of our complete dependence on God. But an annual forty day observance rooted in a false dichotomy between the secular and the sacred, or a vain attempt to get closer to God, or in a quest to experience some kind of religious feeling because of the observance, or any other such notion flies in the face of biblical teaching on worship, sanctification, and the Christian life. But I’ll say this too: if you are satiated – if you’re too wrapped up in things or spend too much time watching TV for example, God won’t be pleased with a forty day hiatus from too much TV watching and then back to sinning as usual. God’s opinion of false repentance or what He calls morning cloud faithfulness isn’t very high (Hosea 6:4).

If anything is clear in the New Testament concerning worship it’s that all of life is worship. We do all we do for the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31); presenting our bodies a living sacrifice is our spiritual service of worship (Rom. 12:1); and we offer up spiritual sacrifices in the form of being good citizens that others might see the difference God has made in our lives (1 Peter 2). For the believer who thinks biblically, playing tennis is worship just as giving a cup of water is worship; evangelism, prayer, and fellowship is worship but so too is eating, work, and marital sex if engaged in with right motives. If you don’t have this mindset then something like Lent becomes nothing but an empty attempt to do something religious in an effort to please God.

Part of the problem is that too often we think that way about our Sunday morning gatherings. We think going to church is how we serve God or how we really worship God. It’s interesting the New Testament never tells us to gather for worship. Oh we’re told not to forsake the assembly and we’re told to exhort one another and provoke one another to love and good works. And when the body gathers we hear the word, pray, fellowship, break bread, and admonish one another in song. We even offer verbal and musical praises to God and indeed all of that is worship. But so is surfing for God’s glory or feeding the hungry in Christ’s name. We worship in different ways in different contexts but it’s all worship if we’re thinking biblically. God is no more pleased with me when I go to church than when I eat a hotdog for His glory. In fact, if I think in terms of going to church rather than being the church I’m already off track. When we think in terms of being the church then all of life becomes sacred and gathering with fellow believers is one of the many things we do in our all-encompassing worship of God. We gather to encourage one another to keep worshipping God 24/7. So, if I have to charge up my spiritual life with Lent, I’m so far off track I’m headed to the parking lot.

There may be some clear-thinking, theologically precise individual who can observe Lent with pure motives that don’t include denying self in order to gain more of God’s favor. But that person would be rare indeed. But here’s the real question: if God doesn’t command it; if it’s prone to lead most into idolatry; if it’s origin is pagan; if it’s practiced the world over by unbelievers captive to a man-made system of human merit; if it’s never really been part of evangelical practice; then why jump on the bandwagon now? Are we not being influenced by the latest trend as opposed to God’s word? And even if evangelicals seem to be spiritually lethargic is it ever time to jump the shark?

A number of those calling us to observe Lent have pointed out wrong ways and right ways to do so. That’s good. At the same time, it reminds me of something Tuco said in The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly, “When you have to shoot, shoot. Don’t talk.” When you need to repent, repent. Don’t wait ‘til Lent. My friend Ken Fryer cited Southern Baptist leader Micah Fries as one of those encouraging us to observe Lent. Ken said he was giving up Fries for Lent. Me too. I’m also giving up Lent for Lent.

Check out Dr. Dean’s new e-book “Naked and Unashamed: Liberating Sex from Cultural Captivity” at True Worldview. You’ll find other helpful resources there as well. Follow him on Twitter: @pauldeanjr.

Let’s be clear: I hate slavery and racism because God hates slavery and racism. The bible is clear that all human beings are created in God’s image and have essential dignity. That’s why any Christian who is pro-life must also be anti-racism. Just as murder is an attack on God Himself so too is racism (Gen. 9:6).

So why do I not celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s birthday? It’s because he was neither pro-life nor anti-racism.

The fact that Lincoln was a racist and a champion of slavery and the rights of slave owners is well documented in numerous sources. Walter Williams writes:

In an 1858 letter, Lincoln said, "I have declared a thousand times, and now repeat that, in my opinion neither the General Government, nor any other power outside of the slave states, can constitutionally or rightfully interfere with slaves or slavery where it already exists." In a Springfield, Ill., speech, he explained, "My declarations upon this subject of negro slavery may be misrepresented, but cannot be misunderstood. I have said that I do not understand the Declaration (of Independence) to mean that all men were created equal in all respects."

Further, Lincoln himself acknowledged that the Emancipation Proclamation was nothing more than a political gimmick he used as a wartime maneuver. He had no real care for slaves or their rights as human beings. For example, in his fourth debate with Stephen Douglas in 1858 Lincoln said,

I am not, nor ever have been in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races. I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of Negroes, nor qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people. And I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will ever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. … And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race.  

If I were African-American I would certainly celebrate the end of chattel slavery but I wouldn’t celebrate or honor such a hypocrite as Lincoln and perpetuate the lie that he was a real friend to African-Americans; he wasn’t – and some don’t.

Lincoln was no lover of liberty – or life. In a recent post Thomas DiLorenzo, author of The Real Lincoln, reminds us of some halting facts that point to that reality:

Lincoln mythology is the ideological cornerstone of American statism. He was in reality the most hated of all American presidents during his lifetime according to an excellent book by historian Larry Tagg entitled The Unpopular Mr. Lincoln: America’s Most Reviled President. He was so hated in the North that the New York Times editorialized a wish that he would be assassinated. This is perfectly understandable: He illegally suspended Habeas Corpus and imprisoned tens of thousands of Northern political critics without due process; shut down over 300 opposition newspapers; committed treason by invading the Southern states (Article 3, Section 3 of the Constitution defines treason as “only levying war upon the states” or “giving aid and comfort to their enemies,” which of course is exactly what Lincoln did). He enforced military conscription with the murder of hundreds of New York City draft protesters in 1863 and with the mass execution of deserters from his army. He deported a congressional critic (Democratic Congressman Clement Vallandigham of Ohio); confiscated firearms; and issued an arrest warrant for the Chief Justice when the jurist issued an opinion that only Congress could legally suspend Habeas Corpus. He waged an unnecessary war (all other countries ended slavery peacefully in that century) that resulted in the death of as many as 850,000 Americans according to new research published in the last two years. Standardizing for today’s population, that would be similar to 8.5 million American deaths in a four-year war.

God hates the idol of statism as much as He hates any other idol.

The issue here is not the South nor are we re-fighting the civil war. The issues for the Christian are the same as always: the truth; the good of others; and the glory of God. When we are ignorant of history and the ideas that shape it we can only suffer. Liberty and justice for all is rooted in and can only be sustained long-term on a biblical worldview. All other worldviews ultimately lead to oppression. Lincoln had no concept of liberty and justice for all despite his hollow rhetoric to the contrary. He was the consummate statist and fought a war for the centralization of state power. 850,000 lives weren’t lost because Lincoln wanted to free those he believed to be inferior to whites and therefore didn’t deserve equality. No, he was fighting a war that had raged since our nation’s founding: the war between those who favored state power and those who favored limited government in order to preserve liberty. The difference is that he fought it with real guns and 850,000 “fellow Americans” paid the price.

Yes, slavery should have ended and we celebrate the fact that it did. But we can’t celebrate the inexorably increasing loss of liberty Lincoln’s ideas and actions have brought about. We can’t celebrate the victory of statism and one of its champions. It’s not only a rival to liberty and justice for all but a rival to God Himself and indeed His kingdom (Dan. 2:44).

So no, I won’t be celebrating Lincoln’s birthday.

 

Check out Dr. Dean’s new e-book “Naked and Unashamed: Liberating Sex from Cultural Captivity” at True Worldview. You’ll find other helpful resources there as well. Follow him on Twitter: @pauldeanjr.

If we’re created to glorify God, then putting His reality and power on display in the midst of distress is where the rubber meets the road. When affliction is upon us, how do we keep it between the ditches? To change the metaphor, how do we keep from fumbling the opportunity God’s given us? In two previous articles, we talked about dealing with God and dealing with self. But there’s one more category we have to think about.

The third thing we have to do is deal with others. That’s where contact is made; where the linebacker wraps us up; where God’s reputation will be displayed in our lives or fumbled away. God’s given us a commission: as we go, we’re to make disciples of Jesus. We can’t call time out when it gets rough. In fact, hard times are sometimes the greatest opportunities for us to put our heads down and hit Satan square in the chest. When we suffer well, he’s knocked back and the spectators see it. Score one for God’s team. How do we do it?

1) Be wise in how you act. Paul said, “Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time” (Col. 4:5). He’s telling us we have to be wise in how we act in front of or toward those who don’t know Christ. It’s not wise to grumble and complain about our circumstances in front of unbelievers for example. If we tell them God is real and in control of all things and then complain about what He’s allowed in our lives, we’re contradicting the very thing we’re trying to communicate.

Sometimes it’s really hard not to complain if you’re in a lot of pain or you’ve just lost your house in a fire. But, either God is sufficient for every situation or He’s not. Of course, I’m not suggesting that God wants you to wear a “Colgate smile” no matter what; there’s nothing wrong with crying out if you’re in physical pain and there’s nothing wrong with being sad your house burned down. We simply don’t want to grumble and complain. There’s a difference between pitching a fit and grieving.

It’s interesting that Paul connects our responsibility to be wise toward others with “redeeming the time.” He’s talking about the same thing we’ve been talking about; God gives us opportunities to glorify Him and we don’t want to fumble them away. To redeem the time is to make the most of our opportunities. It’s to recognize that we’re on mission with God one-hundred percent of the time – twenty-four-seven. We can’t simply let time and opportunities float down the stream. And, the more we think about these things and redeem the time, the more joy we’ll have; we’ll be fulfilling God’s call upon our lives more and more.

2) Prove your confession to be true. Paul told the Corinthians when they gave money for the gospel, they were obedient to their confession of Christ (2 Cor. 9:13). Those who confess Christ either live out that confession or they don’t. That’s not to say that any of us are perfect. It is to say that we think about these things and seek to put Christ on display as much as we can. Those who never think about such things are either not saved or don’t really understand the purpose of their salvation. We’re saved to shine. Yes it’s hard to shine when we’re suffering. But, if we’re able, we shine far brighter in the tough times than we do in the easy times. When we shine on the bed of affliction, we prove our confession to be true and our God to be real because the strength to shine comes from Him, not ourselves. That old cliché is true; sometimes you’re the only Jesus people ever see.

3) Try to put others at ease. When life has dealt a vicious blow and you’re hurting, people want to help; they want to be there for you; they want to do something. I’ve seen people who are so despondent in their misery that no one or nothing can bring them any kind of relief. Their hopeless words and their dejected attitude makes would be comforters reluctant to stay or come back.

Indeed, it’s not about making them comfortable per se. At the same time, if we’re witnesses for Christ, we want to be thankful for those who come round to see us. We do want them to be at ease. It’s not that we’re not suffering and need to pretend we’re not suffering. It’s that we need to let folk know that God is meeting us in our hour of need. That magnifies God’s grace and power and helps others to help us. It’s interesting; we can help others to help us. That’s the mutual edification Paul speaks of so often (Rom. 1:12).

4) Comfort others after God’s comforted you. We want to honor God when we suffer. Comforting others after the fact is the culmination of that desire and indeed the call upon our lives. God does meet us in the valley of despair. He does lift us up. He is our strong deliverer. And, once He’s brought us through, He does want us to help others who are hurting. Paul put it this way:

[God] comforts us in all our tribulation that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ. Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation (2 Cor. 1:4-6).

That’s pretty plain. Our suffering is connected to the suffering of Christ. When we’re afflicted and then comforted, it’s so that we might help others. Let’s not fumble away opportunities to fulfill the grand purpose for which we were saved and given the gift of suffering (Phil. 1:29). Honor God: don’t fumble your surgery!

Follow me on Twitter: @pauldeanjr

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