1/15/2014 Daily Reads: Christian courage in Syria / Marriage Equality requires an objective norm / Should the State promote marriage via tax credits? / Redeem the time with your children

Christian-Courage-in-SyriaChristian Courage in Syria – It’s well worth the 10 minutes or so to read this article to better understand the dynamics in Syria that have intensified persecution of Christians. Pray for the believers there.

Marriage Matters, and Redefining It Has Social Consequences – Ryan T. Anderson delivered testimony Monday, January 13, 2014 to the Indiana House Judiciary Committee. He answered the questions: What is marriage, why does marriage matter for public policy, and what are the consequences of redefining marriage? Anderson rightly observes that any talk about equality, which engages the morality of an issue, requires an objective, fixed definition of the norm:

Everyone in this room is in favor of marriage equality. We all want the law to treat all marriages equally. But the only way we can know whether any state law is treating marriages equally is if we know what a marriage is. Every state law will draw lines between what is a marriage and what isn’t a marriage. If those lines are to be drawn on principle, if those lines are to reflect the truth, we have to know what sort of relationship is marital, as contrasted with other forms of consenting adult relationships.

Is Marriage Promotion Possible? – Ross Douthat responds to Slate’s Matt Yglesias about suggestions in public policy that would promote marriage. Yglesias charged Douthat with a discrimination against single moms and the such. Douthat, however, makes a distinction between punitive and “softer” policy biases. While I do believe that the State has a positive responsibility to recognize and protect the family, I’ve long questioned whether this should be carried out via credits, tax structure, etc. Promoting certain social arrangements with credits makes the State a re-distributor of wealth from those who choose not, or circumstantially can’t enter into the promoted social arrangements. Anyhow, here’s a highlight from Douthat’s post:

Rather, I think it’s pretty easy to imagine how pro-marriage rhetoric could play a role in rebuilding a non-punitive cultural consensus around the two-parent norm, one that shapes and channels behavior without treating outliers as the absolute worst of sinners. Between the idea and the reality falls the shadow … but given where we’re currently headed, I see nothing wrong with giving it a try.

And what’s true of public rhetoric is also true for public policy. Of course pro-family conservatives don’t think the government can “reorganize people’s romantic lives on a massive scale,” as Yglesias snarks. But just as there’s room for a soft cultural pressure that doesn’t require ruthless shaming of single parents, there’s room for a pro-family agenda that tries to lighten burdens on parents and encourage bourgeois virtues without aspiring to spark some kind of instantaneous cultural revolution. And as Yglesias well knows, this is exactly what “Grand New Party” tried to outline, and what I’ve called “reform conservatism” aspires to stand for: A shift in public policy, across a range of issues, that improves the odds for people aspiring to form families the old-fashioned way.

Don’t Waste Time with Your Children – There are some great tidbits in this brief article, summarized in three points of advice (in following quote). I must admit that I can do better. I was thinking just last night how I prize the simplicity of our lifestyle because it affords us as much time as possible together for the vapor of time we have our children. I’m not criticizing those parents who seemingly have a busy lifestyle, always getting babysitters to live out their social lives, but I’m grateful for a wife who’s blessed with an incredible vision for our children and prizes every minute we can have together as family. And even in our social gatherings, we try to include our children as much as possible, choosing to have people over rather than going out alone. My wife is also gifted with hospitality and this gift serves our vision well.

Here are a few ideas about how you spend time with your children:

1. Evaluate the activities and busyness of your family.

If you made a pie chart of how you use your time, how much of it is invested in the eternal souls of your children? Does the time spent in mindless activities grossly outweigh the time spent in pointing them to Jesus? Are you spending more time watching them from the sidelines than you are sitting beside them with the gospel on your lips? Do other adults have more impact on their hearts than you?

2. Be methodical and intentional in teaching them the Bible.

Have planned, consistent devotional times with your children. Study God’s word with them. Pray with them. Memorize verses together. Check in on how they are doing spiritually. I think most of us would be surprised at how deeply our children can converse about their hearts.

3. Use everyday life issues as teaching moments.

We can often be distracted by the details of life and miss the numerous opportunities to instruct our children in the gospel. Sibling squabbles, complaints about school, problems with friends, discontentment while at the toy store — these are all moments that can be used to pour gospel truth into our children. Pray that God would give you a ready awareness of those moments. Be willing to set aside other tasks to invest in your children’s hearts.

Time is a vapor. Blink once and it’s gone. We all have a responsibility to steward and invest the time God gives us in things that produce lasting and eternal dividends. Let’s use the precious and limited time we have with our children by investing in their hearts. Life is short. By God’s grace, don’t waste it.


© 2014, Rick Hogaboam. All rights reserved.

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