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Friday Miscellania

I am about to hit the road for what marks the beginning of a busy spring conference season. This evening I’ll be speaking at a church in Mt. Morris, Michigan and will then travel with the youth to some kind of a retreat center. I’ll be speaking to them five times over the weekend, covering issues related to discernment. I covet your prayers as I seek to minister effectively to these young people!

Before I leave, I wanted to make note of just a couple of things that have been on my mind the past couple of days.

That’s A Lot of Babies

You’re heard of Nadya Suleman, no doubt. She is all over the news after giving birth to octuplets. That is newsworthy by itself, but there is more to the story. She already has six children at home, is a single mother, and had all fourteen of her children by in vitro fertilization. She collects food stamps and up to $2300 per month in state support for her disabled children.

America has reacted to her with utter disgust. Recent headlines show that she has even been receiving death threats. And it seems that taxpayers are going to pick up the massive medical bills for these octuplets. Some of the comments have been shocking in their frankness and their rudeness. Some think she would be better off dead; many think her children should be forcibly taken from her and put up for adoption; a columnist in the LA Times calls her story “grotesque.”

Now I will admit that there is something very odd about this situation and something distasteful, even. It seems pretty obvious that God does not intend that single mothers bring children into the world to be raised without fathers; in vitro fertilization is not without some serious moral issues; and so on. But as I read stories about this woman and as I hear reactions to her, I find it difficult to separate legitimate concern from a more general dislike for life. So many of the reactions to this woman and her family may focus on legitimate concerns, but underlying many of these is a hatred for life. Many of these people would not voice any concern if Suleman had chosen to selectively abort a handful (or two) of her children. Many of these people cannot conceive of a family greater than two or three children. Stories like this one are a good opportunity to read with discernment and with critical thinking. What are the moral or ethical issues and what are the social or cultural issues? There seems to be quite an even split. We need to celebrate life even while being unintimidated by the serious underlying moral and spiritual concerns.

Read With Discernment

And speaking of reading with discernment, Lifeway Christian Stores has a strange new policy. They are selling certain titles with a sticker affixed to them. The sticker warns, “Please Read with Discernment™.” Note they’ve even trademarked the phrase! Authors whose books have received such a warning include Rob Bell, William Young, Brian McLaren and Donald Miller. The company’s web site offers an explanation. “We are making these titles available to our customers (along with the background and additional insight offered here through Read With Discernment) because we believe the books do present content that is relevant and of value to Christians and/or because pastors, seminary students, and other ministry leaders need access to this type of material, strictly for critical study or research to help them understand and develop responses to the diversity of religious thought in today’s postmodern world. Our prayer for you is that in whatever you read, you place the material under the magnifying glass of scripture and read with discernment, asking God to reveal His truth to you.” For each of the selected authors they post a document outlining some of their concerns. It is rather an interesting policy, this. It leaves me wondering (honestly wondering, not sarcastically wondering), if books deserve a warning like this one, should Lifeway sell them at all?