What a genius term.
You ever sense something is up, but you can’t quite put a finger on it exactly? Your spidey senses are going off, but you can’t articulate your business with the issue succinctly and plainly. Then someone comes along and so artfully brings everything into focus with such clarity. Boom. In just a few words, or as in the above, a single term, they put your concerns to language beautifully. What was blurry is now clear. This is what the Mama Bear Apologetics team has done with their latest book on sexuality. Most of us parents feel the winds of change and the shifting ground. We sense things have changed significantly, seemingly very quickly, but we struggle to put these changes to words, and struggle to make our response practical and simple (not simplistic. Not at all the same thing). We see--or should see--that what it takes to steer kids through the malaise today is on a different level than what we might be used to. Gone are the days in which we could start with a default trust in public schools (or private schooling too, for that matter), and stick with Sunday church, youth group, prayer at home, dinner devotions, some conversations in the car, leading by example, and teaching our kids the Bible. Those things are necessary...but not sufficient. Good starts, and non-negotiables--if you aren’t doing them you should be--but the challenge we and our kids face today is on a different level. The world has so many sneaky little tricks up its sleeve, and without the proper equipping, our kids are vulnerable. We need to really focus and work on sharpening our kids’ “BS detectors.” Teaching them the rhetorical tricks the world uses to woo and blind. Almost like spy craft. Fighting this effectively takes intention. It can feel overwhelming. Spy craft!? Bordner, you’re crazy. Except I’m not. Look, I see the fruit of being asleep at the wheel in regards to this stuff every day in the classroom. This rhetoric and linguistic tactics are really sly. It’s incredibly hard for anyone, kids or adults, to deal with. Seeing the game for what it is takes some chops, and no, though the world plays games with words, this really isn’t a game--it matters. Justice and Truth are at stake. We all should care about that. Kids have a hard time seeing because they lack the tools to do so, and so are easily swayed by the world. That’s not on them...it’s on us. The tricks of the world--like “linguistic theft” and “linguistic smuggling” (don’t know what those are? Read the book. They really nail it.) really mess with our kids’ heads. The Mama Bear team not only clearly describes what the tricks are, but they help parents with what to do about it. Enough sermonizing. The point is that the MamaBears book helps IMMENSELY with this task, chopping it down to size, with a ton of valuable insights and, most importantly, practical help. That’s probably the biggest value of the book--they take the head knowledge and attach manageable action points to it. More on that in a minute, but first, there are so many quotables from this book, where they describe an idea or phenomenon with laser accuracy and clarity with a paragraph or less, where for me it would take pages. Here are a few samples:
“All conversations with our kids about sex need to include a very important concept: Sex is a married couple repeating their marital vows in bodily form...What are you doing when you engage in the act of sex before committing to the covenant of marriage? Lying. You are lying. You are repeating a promise that you never made. Our bodies, though, unfortunately, cannot tell the difference.”--p30
“Who are really the ones obsessed with sex--Christians or secularists?...There are two extreme ways one might interact with fire: as an arsonist or as a fireman. Question: who of these two do you think is more obsessed with fire? I’d say they are equally obsessed, just in different ways. One is obsessed with creating as much fire as possible, and one is obsessed with containing fire to prevent destruction. The arsonist doesn’t care about the consequence; he only cares about the flame. The fireman doesn’t hate fire--I’m sure he loves a good campfire just as much as the next person. But he takes great pains to make sure that a flame doesn’t turn into a raging inferno. Firemen put their lives on the line to help curtail the negative impact of fires gone wild. Arsonists just stand back and enjoy the show. Our world treats sex like an arsonist treats fire.”--p 32 “Advertisers have long understood the effects of repetition on consumer behaviors...A slurry of scientific studies documents the effects of repetition on the brain. As psychologist Daniel Kahneman states in his book Thinking Fast, Thinking Slow, “A reliable way to make people believe in falsehoods is frequent repetition, because familiarity is not easily distinguished from truth...The media is reinforcing their secular worldview through constant repetition.”--P103
“Our society has taught children that all strong feelings of love have a sexual component (that is, eros--romantic love). This misconception can be easily fixed if we help our kids understand the different categories of love, especially platonic love (phileo in Greek). Let them know that sometimes their attraction for another person is really respect for traits they admire. Those traits can even be physical beauty. That doesn’t make them gay. We are by nature attracted to beautiful things, but appreciation for beauty does not equal attraction. The more you talk with your kids about the distinctions between the different loves, the less they’ll be confused about their own feelings of love. The different categories will already be in their minds.”--p128
“The more value something has, the more rules and boundaries we erect to protect it. This is why the Mona Lisa is behind glass--it is far too valuable to be exposed to a group of hacking, sneezing tourists all jockeying to snag a quick selfie for their Instagram. It’s only when something doesn’t have any inherent value that you can do whatever you want with it, which turns out to be the skeleton lurking in the closet of sex-positivity. It encourages you to do whatever you want with whomever you want. The implicit message (that most people don’t pick up on) is that you and your partner(s) have no inherent value worth protecting. Consent can’t provide this value, and neither can pleasure. Sure, sex-positivity may sound like freedom, but in reality, it’s saying that your body and what you do with it don’t matter.”--p138 Therein lies the rub, you see--these messages are hammered into our kids’ heads by all the slimy propaganda tactics, and most of us don’t pick up on it and/or know how to counter it affectively. The Mama Bears describe the scene in a way that makes the “what we don’t pick up on” part explicit and clear, and they give good advice on how to counter it. The best section on that--the practical part--is the very end of the book in the chapter titled “Things to Repeat to Your Kids Until They Want to Gag.” Humorous title, but a serious point--the media uses repetition to dig its hooks into our kids’ minds, and countering that takes a little repetition of our own. They will roll their eyes, but it’ll stick. The nuggets that Hillary and Amy offer up for repetition fodder are proverbial, memorable, and sticky. Repeating some proverbs over and over again to my kids….well I can do that.
That’s what I mean when I say it’s manageable. Might sound simplistic and old school, but that’s just it...it’s not simplistic but it is simple, and therefore something I can do without tilting my brain or mapping it out into a massively huge flowchart.
That’s not the only advice they give--the book is packed with it. The above is only a particular example.
That being said, I do have one minor piece of criticism. This is a minor quibble, and is immensely overshadowed by the positives alluded to above: When it comes to “stemming the cultural tide in the schools,” Hillary and Amy recommend getting involved in your local school at a deeper level. Dig deep into the curriculum, be “that parent” that asks the annoying questions, and speak up. So far, so good. They add that while we parents need to speak up, we should first ask ourselves how we can bless school teachers and administrators, and go and do likewise in an effort to build rapport. Their reasoning is that we should first seek to earn trust before we attempt to change the system. Blessing and loving first will increase the possibility that our efforts will be better received. There is something to this. Constructively helping before critique *can* earn trust, plus it is necessary to do totally apart from the good will it earns. We should do it not because it gets us the rapport we seek but because school teachers and admin are made in God’s image and are to be loved, period. We are in agreement about this. I depart slightly, though, in the sense that I’m not quite as optimistic as they seem to be when it comes to such things actually earning rapport. We in evangelicalism tend to think that if we are just loving enough and winsome enough, the world will respond with a smile. If we are nice, our more critical efforts will be better received. Though Hillary and Amy don’t say it directly, I smell the same in the background here. This is misplaced optimism. We can be as loving as Jesus Himself and the world will still respond not with a smile, but with a snarl, because the obstacle isn’t our lovingkindness or lack thereof, but specifically what we believe to be true, the values we have, and what we stand for. Because of that, we are seen as absolutely evil to the world. We are not just fellow travelers with a different perspective. We are anathema to them, and nothing will remove this stench from us except total surrender regarding what we believe. We need to reckon with this in our hearts. I can ramble for hours giving example after example of good, loyal, faithful employees, neighbors, parents etc who lovingly toiled for years helping, but it all was erased in a moment as soon as they staggered across the common intersectional trip wires we all know are there. Some of these examples are of non-Christians and progressives who were card carrying members of the secular “team,” and their “crimes” were incredibly, incredibly minute. Their rapport still did them no good. So by all means be loving, because it’s the right thing to do even apart from the rapport it earns, but don’t expect to win any friends. When things go south, don’t be surprised. It would be good to acknowledge this.
On the whole, the book is packed with incredible insight and help. For those ready to actively and thoughtfully shepherd their kids through the 21st century secular quagmire, this is a necessary tool for the task.