Over at A Holy Experience Nate Pyle has written a piece in support of his book Man Enough: How Jesus Redefines Manhood. The blog post is called "dear hurting world: how we need to raise our sons to be man enough". It is written to his son and is full of grace, grace, God's grace, etcetera. It begins with "You have nothing to prove. Christ has deemed you worthy." [emphasis his]

Throughout the piece Pyle repeats to his son that he has nothing to prove. He wants his son to reject the world's demands that he prove himself with sex, violence, and lucracious lucre. Instead, he wants his son to be the man that he is. What man is that, you ask? As I said, that's the man that he is.

Which is, according to his dad, a kind and generous boy who loves Jesus. Seeing that there is no sin or evil or bad in Pyle's post, we presume that Pyle is speaking of the spiritual man in his son, the one who wants to do the will of God, who do not do what he do to do, but do to do that he do not do do. I acknowledge that my cynicism leads me to read it this way, because the post appears to be operating in a universe where boys emerge from their mothers wombs covered in schmutz but spiritually immaculate. Nonetheless I rejoice along with Pyle that his boy knows Jesus. And Pyle tells his son to grow into Christ: "You grow into a man when you grow into yourself in Christ. And when you find yourself in Christ, you’ll be a man."

What does Pyle want from us? To stop teaching our boys to earn their manhood. They are men by grace. In particular, Christians ought to stop teaching boys to earn manhood through "Win the fight. Do it without crying. Earn lots of money. Get physical with a girl."
God gave you a gentle and sensitive heart. Gentleness is a fruit cultivated by the Spirit, but seen as weakness by men.  Our world does not seem to like men who appear weak. Unfortunately, men are often mocked for their weakness by being called women, as if being a woman is less than being a man. You don’t have to be afraid of women, and more than that, you don’t have to be afraid of being seen as weak.  Don’t be afraid of weakness. 
Many men are repulsed by and afraid of weakness. There is no doubt of that, and it is not Christlike. In weakness we are like Jesus. In our weakness the power of God is complete. We are too weak to even pray for ourselves, but the Holy Spirit intercedes for us.

Very well. Nate Pyle reminded us that we have nothing to prove as men, because Jesus paid it all. He then reminded us that as followers of Jesus we must embrace weakness. True, and good, and beautiful. What, then, is his conclusion?

That we must be vulnerable.

Le sigh, y'all. "Vulnerable".

I don't even know what that word means anymore. At least the word "brokenness" was never brought into play; for that small grace I give thanks. If we are weak, which we are, and prone to evil and slothful in good, which we are, and even broken, which we are, then by definition we are vulnerable. Pyle means more here than susceptibility to harm. He means sharing feelings and whatnot, and, as he says, "being honest".

Oh, guys, let's touch and feel each other and talk about mere descriptors like vulnerability while forgetting real Christian virtues such as humility.

Behold, I come with graphs. Since 1950 the rate of occurrence of the word "vulnerable" has quadrupled in its use in books. Meanwhile, since 1840, twenty years after Friedrich's Wanderer Above The Sea of Fog and contemporaneous to that century's stupid germanness and infatuation with people like Matthew Arnold, the use of the words "humble" and "humility" has dropped precipitously. Y'all. Off-a-cliff precipitously.

Do you know what Nate Pyle seems to be most grateful for and proud of in his son? His gentleness and compassion. "God gave you a gentle and sensitive heart. Gentleness is a fruit cultivated by the Spirit, but seen as weakness by men." [again, italics or boldfaces his] It is indeed so. You know what isn't a fruit cultivated by the Spirit? Vulnerability.

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

Wow. A man who bore the fruit of the Spirit would be quite a man. The sort of man who by the grace and power of Jesus all we sons may be. Pyle, with Paul, wants us to put on the new self. Let us go then to that classic text on the matter from Colossians: "Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive."

This sounds like the sort of compassionate man we were talking about, except not, you know, like, vulnerable. You know? And, like, you know, not vulnerable in the sense that we might get eaten by a dragon, like Jesus was before it spit him out. Not vulnerable like watch out for Satan who roams looking for whom he may devour. Not vulnerable like to the world, the flesh, and the devil, or to the love of money, through which we have pierced ourselves with many pangs. Nope. In that sense we're vulnerable. That's why we have the armor of God. But nowhere in all that compassionate hearts and kindness and meekness were the gifts of vulnerability or over-sharing.

You know what was present in that list? Humility. That is the cardinal virtue men are missing. To be vulnerable in Pyle's sense we must be thinking of ourselves. And sometimes, I confess it, needs must. But there is nothing desirable about it. Being vulnerable in that sense must at most be a step of confession on the road to humility. Vulnerability wallows in sin; vulnerability is self-absorbed; vulnerability is a kind of pride.

There have always been bad men who taught that real men beat people up and make the most money. There have always been bad Christians who taught that too. But as a Church we have recognized that they're bad Christians. We want to be like Jesus. We want to be humble. And by his grace we will be.

According to Pyle, sex and mountain climbing and earning power and fighting don't make you a man. Jesus does. And we Christian men know that God doesn't call us to climb mountains or make lots of money. He doesn't even call all men to have sex. But here's the problem: Jesus does call every man to fight. We fight the good fight. We take hold. We run the race. We put on the armor of God. We fight for others the way he fought for us. Every good man must fight.

And if every good man must fight, we mustn't act vulnerable. We must act humble. "Oh my God I pray thee, in the combat stay me. Grant that I may ever be loyal, staunch, and true to thee."

"Pro-choice" can get a little grumpy sometimes. I guess death'll do that to you.
A Montana bow hunter is recovering after he survived a grizzly bear mauling by remembering a tip from his grandmother and shoving his arm down the animal's throat. 
He was only 3 feet from the bear when he noticed it. He said the grizzly had been sleeping and didn't see him coming, possibly because of the snow, rain and 30 to 40 mph winds. 
Read more.


My lover Kimberly and I live a sexual lifestyle that is exciting, dynamic, and fulfilling. Unfortunately we and others like us have sometimes been faced with contempt and ridicule because of our particular sexual propensities. Our sexual lifestyle is little-understood by today's culture and media, and even less accepted. But in this day and age, I like to think that our little kinks and bents are as valid any other. After all, are we not creating a sex-positive, open-minded, sexually tolerant society?

I want to give you, dear readers, a peek into our lives and our l'il bit freaky sexual choices. And if you're looking for a little adventure, looking to spice things up in your own sex life, maybe our choices can help you validate yours.


The principal thing is that we like to roleplay, beginning with foreplay. Actually, we like to begin from the moment we wake in the morning; we both immediately step into character in spiced-up anticipation of our days and nights together.

I play a "husband". My defining characteristic as a "husband" is that I take care of Kimberly. She makes me provide everything she needs throughout the day, whether they be routine or special favors. Even though she can take care of most of these things herself, the excitement for both of us lies in my playing this role to the hilt. I mean, I commit. I go all the way in.

Kimberly, my lover, plays a "wife". As a "wife" she cares for our children and home all day, which includes foxily homeschooling, steamily gardening, sultrily changing diapers, and bootyliciously producing goods for us to sell online.

You might not be familiar with this whole "husband"-"wife" formulation. Like many other forms of sexual expression and lifestyle, it is dual-role oriented. You have probably noticed, for example, that homosexual relationships tend to imitate and be defined by the male-female duality. Or you might have perceived that the thrill of the dominatrix role comes precisely from flipping male-female strength and power on its head. So it is with "husband" and "wife". Both parties behave as if they were designed in their very natures to interact with each other in particular ways.


Here are some of the freaky-deaky things we like to do to each other:

1. She likes to watch me love myself. That's right. My lover likes to lie there and watch me love on myself (♩ ♪ ♫ ♬ ...when I think about you...). This fits right into the roleplaying. "Husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself." (Eph. 5:28) So I love on my lover, and in this way love myself. This arrangement has the tight elegance that roleplayers look for.

2. We like to boss each other around. "The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does." (1 Cor. 7:3-4) My lover tells me what to do, and I tell her what to do. "Please" is a formality. This is particularly true of sex, which is what the passage above is about. We get to tell each other when we're having sex, because we have authority over each other's bodies.

3. We only "husband"-"wife" with each other, but we tell other people about how sexually satisfying these roles are with the zeal of vegans or cross-fitters. "Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled..." (Hebrews 13:4) Guys, it's the way to go. It may seem a little unorthodox at first, but y'all will get into it.

4. I interact with her as if I were Jesus and she the Bride of Christ. And she submits to me as if she were the Bride of Christ and I were Jesus. (Eph. 5:22-24) The thrilling part about this one is how scary it is. This is where people who get off on danger are going to really love this kind of roleplaying. Is it more frightening for her because she has to jump off the cliff into the arms of someone she knows is not capable of catching her? Or is it more frightening for me because she's jumping off the cliff and I know I'm going to drop her? Danger, y'all. This "husband"-"wife" thing is a sexual adventure.

5. She likes to call me Lord and obey me. She likes to have a gentle and a quiet spirit. Because, you know, it was good enough for Sarah... (1 Peter 3:1-7)

6. She likes to win me over to the gospel by her winsome conduct. "Even if some do not obey the word, they may be won by the conduct of their wives..." (1 Peter 3:1-2)

7. I like to study my wife so that I can pray. If I show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, my prayers will not be hindered. (1 Peter 3:7)

8. Finally, we're super into bondage. "So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity." (Col. 3:12-14) Forgiveness and the fruit of the Holy Spirit create a perfect bond. We're chained to each other for life, and it's oh so sexy.


...but it is the best way. Come on, y'all. Do we not see that every sexual sin is a perversion of this? (I am very far from only talking about homosexuality right now.) Male and female he made us, then he told us how to do it. He himself took one wife and he loved her and died for her. The only thing that stands in our way in doing the same is that business about sin and the fall. But Jesus rose unto new life for us, and we have the Holy Spirit. We can do this crazy ridiculous difficult thing. It is what we were made to do.

Get thee home and give a gospel snogg to thy wife.

We've all been there before, right, guys? It's a difficult problem to avoid. There you are, up in this club, just doing the lawnmower and trying to keep it real. Suddenly, some female is all up in your business, working and twerking. You try to move away, because the lawnmower requires space, but she keeps doin' it on purpose windin' and workin' it.

But as you're standing there, wondering what could have driven this female to comport herself in such an undignified manner, your appletinis kick in and you realize that you have not fulfilled the biological imperative to mate in a long while. What is more, the evidence suggests that this female is behaving twerkishly because she herself is in the same sexless boat.

"What to do?", you wonder. "Shall we make love in this very club? Is that what she is signalling?" If you were dogs you would of course know whether to mate with her or not, but you're not dogs. Still, the fact that she is pressing her genitals against yours seems like a pretty solid indication of willingness to mate. That settles it, then. Time to go for it!


No! Sir! No, sir. Twerking does not mean yes. In fact, as you will see from the image to your left, the only yes that means yes is an enthusiastic yes. If it's not yes, it's rape. Even if she's singing Bread's Take Me Now, she's not necessarily saying "take me now".

What are you to do with this ambiguity? You've been through this entire thought process, and you find yourself in a quandary. Well, stroke your chin in impotent thought no longer, young man. While she's down there, still twerking on you, simply take out your phone and download our new application for just $5.

It's called the Sex Enthusiasm Meter & Equivocacy Negator. With SEMEN, you can say goodbye to the ubiquitous problem of uncertainty rapes. The problem has always been precise measurement of the enthusiasm in an "enthusiastic yes". And that's exactly what we've eliminated. How? With science, of course.

Now that you've downloaded the app, if she's still twerking on you, which she probably is, simply tap it and it will automatically begin the measuring process. Our crack team cracked the uncertainty wall when it realized what the fundamental problem with hook-ups is: the male and female simply don't know each other. There is not enough of a relationship between the two for either to make important judgments about the other. Here is our solution: our Butt Recognition System will take the image of the female's butt and match it to pictures of butts across all major social media platforms. It then locates the female's profile, and from there, contacts the person who knows her best in the whole world. That's right! It calls her mom! When you ask the female "Would you like to make love in this club?", her mother will be able to react in real time to the enthusiasm of her yes and pass that information on to you.

In a few cases our process can cause a delay of several months between twerking and mating as the couple prepares for marriage. Please do not use app unless you are prepared for that eventuality.

The app is still in BETA, so download it now to be a part of the select group to participate in this ground-breaking rape prevention measure. When she sees that you have SEMEN at your fingertips, she'll feel respected and safe, and you can rest easy knowing that you won't be raping anyone tonight!

Postscript: before anyone accuses me of not taking rape seriously, please read this article. Then go ahead and accuse me.
As the family and I prepare for our move, we're getting in some last-minute sentimental fun. Many's been the time the wife and kids went with their homeschooling co-ops or just their friends to pick apples at Skytop Orchards in Flat Rock, NC.

Since I'd never been we decided to make a family outing. The view from the top is gorgeous. The photo below only hints at how beautiful and crisp and fresh everything feels up there.

We bought over a bushel of apples, and ate them all in three days. Well, almost all of them. A couple of apple crumbles made it onto our table first.

These two boys had birthdays that week. Cider slushees all around.

I know, crazy, right?
The verse immediately preceding Jeremiah 29:7 is seldom mentioned by churches seeking to justify hip, missional, in-the-city-for-the-city ministry: 
Take wives and become the fathers of sons and daughters, and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; and multiply there and do not decrease. (Jeremiah 29:6) 
The context of God's command to seek the peace of the city wasn't a wish that His people enter whole-heartedly into engagement with Babylon's pluralistic society. The context was His desire that they "bear sons and daughters," that they "multiply there and not decrease." Not a call for hipster Jews to become art patrons and tattoo parlor habitues, but for the people of God to bear sons and daughters, to multiply in Babylon and not decrease, to make their homes there and trust Him for the duration of the exile. 
It was, most of all, a call to a child-fearing, fertility-averse exiled people to trust Him by bearing children rather than fearing the city and avoiding fertility. Applicable in the same way today? Certainly, though you likely won't hear it in most churches which claim Jeremiah 29:7 as a theme verse. Fear and rejection of fruitfulness walk hand-in-hand today as much as in the exile. God isn't telling the Jews not to fear engagement with alien peoples and alien religions. He's telling them not to fear bearing children in an alien city. 
Has a "missional" church ever commended childbearing and fruitfulness in the context of Jeremiah 29:7
 So...seek the welfare of the city by taking wives and having children? Come on. Be real.
Over at Singing & Slaying the good Peter Jones has objected to something pretty fundamentally objectionable  said by Wendy Davis recently. Here it is:

Women being forced to bear children. That, is, like, literally happening.

I mean, y'all.

It's tempting to go after the quote piece by piece, for example, by pointing out that in fact and by nature women are childbearing vessels. But we'll assume that since you're a Joffre The Giant reader you're already part of the choir. Let's move on to something Pastor Jones said in response, with which I agree, but with which I'd like to critically interact.
I know there are hard cases where it is difficult to pay the bills. But most people by hard work, careful use of resources, sacrifice, and a refusal to buy everything being sold by the advertisers can feed and educate their children, even when they have a lot of them. It is getting harder to make ends meet. But that is because of all the taxes being taken from the people to fund overseas wars, public school, welfare, and Planned Parenthood. We can feed and educate our children as long the Republicans and Democrats will let us keep our money. So the answer is not more government programs or abortion. The answer is lower taxes, hard work, and lots of little feet.
The title of his post is No, It Really Isn't That Hard. Which is indubitably true. If you value the right things, then having children and feeding and educating them isn't that difficult.

We have five children. For years as a household we have made less money annually than most middle class people would think adequate for even one person. Every year the government takes a quarter of our money, and every year they give all of it back with a personal note of apology from President Obama. We've avoided debt (except for a mortgage) and lived modestly and alternatively. It has often been stressful, but mostly it has been a joy to have a lifestyle in which we have been, by and large, our own masters. This has been a greater treasure to us than middle class comfort and security.

But this idyllic image of the fruit of cleverness and hard work is undergirded by a certain infrastructure. If I were a writer for the Huffington Post I might call it an infrastructure of privilege. My parents helped us with a down payment for the house we bought ten years ago. My in-laws bought us a car when our family was new. Both of these things are not extraordinary events for people of a certain class.

My wife graduated from college summa cum laude. I was well educated as a youth, and after six years left college because I had been lazy, and was not motivated by the fear of poverty. Even without a degree I was able to make my living as an adult educator, because I am educated and I sound it when I talk. My mother held a masters in linguistics. My father has a doctorate from MIT. I was homeschooled. I was brought living outside the system, in an atmosphere of academic intellectuality.

I was also brought up in the church. My mother became a Christian shortly before I was born and my father when I was eight. Although we moved almost every year, I believed even as a child that my church were my people and that we had mutual obligations to each other.

Shortly after moving to South Carolina in 2005 we had trouble making ends meet. We asked the deacons for assistance paying our bills one month. It was humbling. Of course, they did it.

This privileged upbringing is a key piece in the way we are able to bring up our kids with lower taxes, hard work, and lots of little feet.

There is the social privilege of coming from a prosperous and well-educated background. Between us and disaster is not only the state but our families. This background enables us to perceive the vicious character of the state when it is "benevolent", as well giving us more options when seeking to live outside a system that pushes people with little cash toward the state's teat.

Then there is the holy privilege of belonging to a church. My entire adult life, having lived with my wife and children in three different places and about to move to a fourth, I and we have belonged. People have unloaded our moving trucks for us. They have brought us meals when new babies arrived. They have fixed our appliances when they've broken down. They've showed up to help us with renovations. They have been family in a concrete way.

Now, I don't disagree in substance with anything the very reverend Peter Jones said. It is not hard to raise children. It doesn't take a lot of hard resources. I cannot put it any more concretely than to repeat that we've raised five, without welfare, on a salary most middle class college graduates would find insupportable for one person. Our expectations as a society are indeed ridiculous.

That being said, most people can't see that. Primarily this is because of our sin, both individually and as a nation. And it is a sin that the machine Wendy Davis is a part of purposefully perpetuates. It is important to the state and to its hangers-on (e.g. Planned Parenthood) that we be dependent on them, unable to see that there are other ways to live.

This is where national sin comes in. We are raising and educating people to be blind to anything but living the way the government has told us to. If we cannot see the path, working hard is not enough. There are many people who work extremely hard, but are caught up in lives of sin and the consequences of sin. For example, single parenthood, welfare, and child support create a complex which pushes mothers toward welfare and fathers away from stabilizing marriages (which would be healthful even if it were not to baby's mama) and toward our court system.

Lower taxes and hard work are not enough. I know that Peter Jones would agree with what I'm about to say, so I do not want to suggest otherwise. While I think what he had to say was true, it did not point us in the right direction, which I know is a direction which Peter is constantly pushing people in.

Y'all. What we need to kill abortion and to help families is this: let us decrease that He may increase. The Church of Jesus Christ is the answer. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the answer. People need Jesus so that they may not fear. So that they may work and have babies in trust and faith. The state tells people it will not let go, that it will save people from disaster. The state is a messiah. Having children under a lying, murdering, and enslaving savior is hard.

We must show people the true Messiah, the true Savior. The Messiah who loves our lives. The Savior who meets our needs. The Messiah who asks for a godly seed and blesses it.
Our children are often employed in our garden with chores and odd jobs. They mow the lawn, feed the chickens, water the plants, and weed the garden beds. They saw off loose branches, prune bushes, and start bonfires. In short, we put them to work.

The way in which my wife manages this work does a little to prove that beauty is linked to goodness, and that it is, to a large and shared degree, objective. Not that beauty or goodness are one monadic thing that all must acknowledge, but that beauty can be appealed to as an objective standard of morality.

Quelle grande philosophie, non?

You, as a dad, know that children can be as lazy and laissez-faire as you and I. We are constantly checking on their work, chivvying them to finish their chores well, asking them to take pride in their work.

"Look at that, son. Does that look like a good job?"

My wife has been using a line on the kids when they work in the garden that I think is gold. Its application in the garden makes perfect sense, but I'm going to try to expand its use into dishwashing and math homework as well. When the kids come in to report that a job is finished, Kimberly asks them:

"Does it look beautiful?"

More than once that question has sent the children scurrying back to the garden, possessed of the knowledge that their mother would not accept their work until it was beautiful, regardless of whether a chore checklist had been met or not. And the kids know what beauty is. They don't ask "Do I need to prune this particular branch to make it beautiful?" They know. There's a universality to the question that, if one is raised in a family that strives for Trinitarian aesthetics, is grasped even without being formulated.

Beauty: the best practical measure of good work we've encountered yet.
Okay, so it's not actually one presentation. Here we have three short videos showing the evolution of mens sana in corpore sano.

There are a boatload of really cool videos on YouTube of Samoan schoolchildren beginning their days singing hymns. The text to this video said: Samoan Children singing at a school assembly. "SAMOA MUAMUA LE ATUA!" Which translates to "SAMOA PUT GOD FIRST!" Please note that the young person leading this exhuberant display is a boy, wearing a skirt, 'cause that's how Samoans do.

Samoans love their sports, and they especially love their rugby. They are famed for the aggression with which they play. They also like to dance and sing before they play. Make no mistake, Christian parents, men are violent creatures. Like their God, who cast the dragon down from heaven and made the earth shake. Which is why men are also beautiful. But what is aggression without God, without the Lord of the Dance, without the music of Ainur?

If your boys are brought up to love strength and to love beauty, maybe, just maybe, they will be able to praise God like Samoan rugby players praise God.

The education of your sons will not be whole if they are not taught to exult in the strength God has given them. Nor will it be complete if they are not taught to use those strong bodies to make beautiful things for the glory of God. Education is more than books. It is strength and beauty. Give them athletics. Give them art.

Trigger warning: the artist in question uses the word "fuck", but I don't.

So here's a song I've heard on the radio several times: Talking Bodies, by Tove Lo. According to Out magazine, she is "the world's most brutally honest pop star", as well as "the saddest girl in Sweden". My attention was initially drawn to the song because of the cringing awkwardness of the following line in response to the perfection of her paramour's body: "put it on me". I mean, Swedes, am I right? But what kept my attention on the song was that she promised her paramour that he would not take long. Take long for what, you ask innocently? To achieve completion, sir. That is, to gain release, madame. How you say, to experience la petite mort. She promised he could be quick.

Since many people listen to music without making out the lyrics, I have included below her lyrics, as well as my translation of them. The original is on the left, mine on the right.

You can listen to the song here. That link doesn't go the official music video, which I was not able to watch in its entirety. However, I can tell you that it begins in a very sad apartment building, and ends with a skinny young man being attended by many women, who are all strippers in pasties. And when I say attended, I mean, taken to bed. And when I say they're all strippers, I mean just that: all the women everywhere are strippers. Wonder what that might mean? You know, from a typological perspective.

If this song were to survive the Cataclysm of 2117, as well as the Great Meteor Shower of 2340, and I as an anthropologist came across it in 2483 and decided to use it in my studies of Late Anglo-Western Civ, these would be my findings regarding the place of women in that society:

1. Women were expected to display no will of their own. They were attractive to their suitors to the degree they accommodated the desires of their prospective mates.

2. Because of this, women had no interests outside the acquisition of mates. This led to a deep boredom that was only broken by the interest of a male. (compare: Ottoman harem culture)

3. Women were so desperate to gain male attention in a buyer's market that they were willing to surrender core parts of themselves for the chance to gain a mate.

4. Personal and societal pressures to obtain a mate were so great that women were happy to forgo personal satisfaction, including sexual, in order to build hoped-for sexual commitment.

5. Women forewent children in order to maintain the short-term interest of men, the presence of whom, again, was necessary to combat the boredom of a fruitless life.

It becomes clear that Late Anglo-Western culture held the role of women in society in low esteem, failing to provide for today's progressive guarantees of basic sexual and reproductive rights. Instead, L.A.W. culture's male-ruled societies made use of birth control, abortion, and propaganda to rob women of the power of their sexuality. Women were used as sexual commodities; and here we use "sexual" not in the way it is used today, but rather in 21st century usage, which refers exclusively to intercourse. It is no wonder that today we all, but especially women, see the century leading up to the fall of L.A.W. culture as a dark age.

And seven women shall take hold of one man in that day, saying, "We will eat our own bread and wear our own clothes, only let us be called by your name; take away our reproach."1

It's tempting to say that this is the inevitable result of the flattening of sexuality. That is, of pretending that men and women are the same, and desire the same thing from sexual relationships. I suppose that's true, to an extent.

More fundamentally, however, Charlotte Simmons disinterested sex hookup death rape culture is an extreme result of sex without Jesus. (Yes, that means there's sex with Jesus. Now shut up.) Without Jesus sex is a war, and men almost always win. They have all the advantages. The best women can hope for is a truce. Even with the recent revolution and all the ground women wrested out of the control of men, they still lost at sex.

Only in Jesus is sex not a dominance play. Only in the Triune God can the fact that men and women were made so differently and for such different things be reconciled. Only in a world where the first shall be last and the last first can we be fulfilled in each other.

As men, it is important that we see the deep misogyny of not only hookup culture, but all sex outside marriage. Extramarital sex uses women. Sex as it should be fulfills women.2 Marriage and babies are the sexual security of women. We ought to give those things to our wives, and we ought to give it to 'em good.3 If we participate in this sexual culture, not only do we rob women of significance and happiness, we ourselves will become the world's saddest Swedes.

1. Isaiah 4:1
2. The exact same thing should be said of men. Sex is too sacred to be currency in a you-use-me-I-use-you contract.
3. A blonde walked into a bar and asked the bartender for a double entendre. So he gave it to her. And for the record, she was married to the bartender.

One of the United States' more fantastic beers has had something uncool done to it. It's come out through the other side even cooler than before, I think, so we ought not to allow the mindless all-pervasiveness of an ever-growing and always-poopier bureaucracy get us down. Instead, let us buy and drink more Founders beers. Would you believe my local sports bar always has at least one Founders beer on tap, and last year got two cases of the KBS in?

Anyway, here's the uncool thing that was done to Founders:
The Grand Rapids-based brewery announced last week it was changing the label after the image was said to promote underage drinking. 
“As we gear up for Stout Season, we’re also saying goodbye to a dear friend. The baby of Breakfast Stout is taking some time away from his crib after being booted from the label in our home state of Michigan,” the brewer said in a statement posted to its website, reported Michigan Live. 
On the new label, bowl is still on the table but the baby is no longer. But he left a note on the refrigerator with the message, “Left the crib for a bit, call me if you need me 616-522-2720.”
Sigh. So this is the new label.

Perhaps now is the time to remind everyone of a few things:

1. Beer was for breakfast in the past.

2. Beer is for breakfast today. And Founders is great at it.

3. Beer was for children yesterday.

3. Beer is for children today. Teach your children well.

Beer may be for children, but it is not for louts. Especially not juvenile louts. So perhaps these states ruling that pictures of babies encourages underage drinking is justified. Many is the Stop-n-Go that has been terrorized by young hoodlums on the prowl for a stout craft ale to abuse. Stupid underage rowdies and their imperial double IPAs.

Stupid states.

P.S. Drink more Founders.

If you're gonna get divorced, which is inevitable given the meaningless of our lives and the native selfishness of the human organism, best to do it cheerfully. When your time thriving together is past, make like a fat man's pants and split.

Here's a story on people who take selfies outside courthouses to celebrate the happy deaths of their marriages. Tomorrow there will be no resurrection. "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened."

Which is exactly what I'm going to tell Kimberly and the kids when I get home today. I'll thank Kimberly for all the kids, that was nice of her. She could have passed on her genes with someone else, but she didn't. Still, at the end of the day, it didn't mean that much. Obviously. I mean, I'm smiling here. I'm sure she will be too. Then there are the kids. I'll say to them "Welcome to co-parenting!" while explaining to them that Kimberly and I will be parenting partners, assisting them as they grow into adults who will one day be able to verbalize the feelings of bitterness and self-doubt they feel today: "my parents broke our family apart with a smile."

Help me decide what caption to put below our divorce selfie! Here are my top choices so far...

1. "So long, and thanks for all the fish."
2. "Longest and best one-night stand of my life!"
3. "You were good, but not that good."
4. "Smile, we're all ultimately alone in a world without God!"

The cool thing these days is to not be a program-driven church. And as much as it hurts me to be cool, and to align myself with people who urge Christians to "do life" and "do community", I can't help but agree with what I think should be a pretty self-evident truth. That is, that focusing on things to do, tailored to different types of people (old, young, male, female, employee, entrepreneur, college, Korean), is a distraction from the singular mission of the church, which is to worship God in one Spirit and one truth.

Programs are the product of growth-motivated churches. Of local churches whose objective is to grow so large that living together as a body (you know, "doing life") becomes unnatural. When churches achieve a certain size, the easiest solution to the problems of isolation and alienation is to throw together groups of people who are very much like each other; instead of the bond of the Holy Spirit, the kinship of near-identical lives and experiences bonds them.

This usually leads to certain sinful behaviors, behaviors that are toxic within the local body of Christ. The youth get together in their enclaves to pretend their parents don't exist, the women get together to complain about their husbands, and the husbands get together (if at all) to complain about the elders. The singles loudly complain that no one ever considers their feelings, but the only people to hear are the rest of the singles group they insisted on. The old people, whose group is euphemistically named Encore, or Xtra Years of Zest, or Keenagers, wish the younger families would hang out with them but get grumpy when their kids act like kids. The young families are too busy to pay attention to anyone who isn't living on their schedule. No one is paying any attention to their community or town, because church makes them too busy. So the only people to join the church are people from the same social stratus, with the same social, and perhaps theological, interests. And etcetera and etcetera.

The groups built to deal with the isolation of modern life simply encourage it, and the church fails to be the Church. It becomes a social club with a worship problem and way too many cliques.

Having heard me say all this, you will not be surprised to hear that I think a church ministry for men is not necessary to the well-being of a church and its men. Nor will you be astonished to hear me say that, in a program-driven environment, it just adds toxins to the toxicity. It can be poisonous, y'all.

All that being said, allow me to urge pastors and elders to be purposeful and active in ministering to their men, and to do so in group settings. That's right. Churches should have things that could be called men's ministries, or women's ministries, or youth ministries. They could even have activities, y'all. You know, like, things to do. And that can be done, somehow, without becoming a "program-driven church".

This is a blog for Christian men, and I want to talk about churches ministering to men, so let's move forward with that agenda and see if the questions raised by the preceding paragraph are addressed.

The basic building block of the local church is the Christian individual. Individuals belong to Christ, individuals are baptized, individuals are saved to life everlasting. But the basic operational unit of the church is the household. The family is where day-to-day holy living, authority, submission, and love work themselves out in the life of the church. John is friends with Jim, but it's the Smiths and Andersons they represent who roll through the church and the world together. Any ministry to men should be thought of from the perspective of households, even when the men are by themselves.

The prophet-priest-king roles of fathers in the family means that nearly every man in a church either has spiritual authority over other Christians, or is training to have it. A man's Christian walk is pastoral in a way and to a degree that is not true for most women and children. When a church ministers to men it is able to minister to entire families in a unique way.

Sadly, the way most of our lives are shaped in this society, the way our families' internal and external economies are set up, men are usually the most isolated from the life of the church.

And when I say life of the church, I do not mean Bible study. The defining behavior of the people of God is that they gather together in Jesus' name to worship the Triune God in spirit and truth. The weekly death to new life, the cutting, feeding, and sending out of God's people in worship, defines us. Bible studies and prayer breakfasts do not.

When Christians leave worship on Sunday they head into the world charged with the Kingdom of Heaven, charged with Jesus. They go and live their lives, and they should not be going in isolation. They should be going as brothers and sisters, as family and families, as men and women and children. Men are men, and should minister to each other as if they were men.

Bible study is an activity that all Christians should do. Fishing and hunting and smoking cigars do not enjoy the same status in the Christian life. That being said, it is very easy for a church to be a Bible study club instead of being the people of God. And in the context of a feminized church, that is alienating to men.

It is ideal, I think, that a church have an active social life within itself, oriented around the family. This is the first step to making men feel like part of the church. If that is happening, with the barbecues and parties and graduations and baptism parties and funerals, the men of the church will, to varying degrees, become friends. But what then? When that happens with the women of a church, they are more likely to find ways to get together and minister to each other as women. Perhaps you have observed with me that this usually doesn't happen with the men. In our modern context of alienation and hostility toward Christian masculinity, it important for the leadership of all churches to have a coherent and directed vision for its ministry to men.

Having flown through some ideas that deserve a book, or at least a well-thought out article (!), I will fly brazenly on in the tradition of the blogger to make some suggestions for things that churches wanting to minister to their men should try to do/be aware of. Hunting or hiking trips are all well and good (I started a rugby club for Christians once!), but not everyone is into hunting or hiking (or rugby). What are some things that minister to all Christian men?

1. Beer. Beer, gentlemen. Wine is fine and whiskey's nifty, but beer is a battle beverage. Ale is for feasting, and feasting is for warriors, be they accountants or plumbers. Beer is universal. Some like the High Life, some know where their hops come from.

2. Meat. I don't have to support this one. You know it's true. But I will. "Spend the money for whatever you desire—oxen or sheep or wine or strong drink, whatever your appetite craves. And you shall eat there before the Lord your God and rejoice, you and your household." Worked in an extra plug for families doing stuff with the church there, didn't I? That's what you build men's ministry on top of.

3. Singing. Dudes should get together and sing. The people of God have always sung to him, and it is a symptom of male disengagement in church that so many churches are full of mumbling or silent men when the hymns roll 'round. Some men are good singers and some are bad, but all can be singers. Singing brings people together, and when men sing together for the first time in the company of other men, it stirs the soul. I've seen it happen. It makes you want to batter at the gates of hell with just a few psalms. When beginning this practice it is important to have a few brave souls who are willing to throw their voices out there. Singing is also a way of overcoming shyness when it comes to public prayer; singing is prayer.

As co-author of Christian Pipe Smoking: An Introduction to Holy Incense, I am tempted to include pipes and cigars in this list, but if I am honest they must occupy the same place whiskey or bourbon would: a pleasant and edifying addition to the core elements above.

This must be the perfect church men's event: singing psalms by the grill while enjoying brews.

How then to build a men's ministry? I suggest setting a goal to, whatever the men's event, be it Bible study or prayer or an admin meeting, have two of the three elements be present. See what happens when men are aesthetically told that they are valued as men. Bible study with beer and singing, y'all. That's what we're talking about.

And please let the objection that men are being bribed with ale to be part of church die here. Nonsense. We're just making beautiful masculine things. None of these things are necessary; they are all salutary.

Programs aren't any good. They separate and alienate the people of God. Church life is life in communion, life together. But it is natural, salutary, sanctifying, and good, that men should get together with each other, as it is that women and children do the same, in the context of family being the primary operational unit of the covenant community. If that is happening, only good will come from the men having man time to worship God and edify each other.

If men have interests that draw deeper distinctions than man-woman-boy-girl, consider that it might be better to pursue those in a Christian, but not a church, setting. Let the knitting groups be knitting groups, and the hunting clubs be hunting clubs.

It might even surprise the noble ministers of God's church to see how enthusiastic the men of their church will be for the community life of their church if they know their brothers will be there with beer in hand, how pleased the women will be to have them there, and how eager the children will be to fetch their fathers' beers as they sit around the fire with them.

Dudes. It's as plain as day. I mean, now it is. In retrospect.

According to the Old English Word Hord, Gríma means mask. It also means spectre, ghost, and dread apparition! I mean, we knew he spoke with forkèd tongue, but this runs deeper. I sort of feel as chagrined as Théoden King for not realizing it sooner. Now I know. And you do too.