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A piece in the New York Times this week talks about how difficult it is for single people to find a job as a pastor, especially in evangelical churches. Some, in fact, think that the church is discriminating against singles in ministry. Here’s part of the article. R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., said it was unfair to accuse churches of discrimination because that word implied something “wrongful.” “Both the logic of Scripture and the centrality of marriage in society,” he said, justify “the strong inclination of congregations to hire a man who is not only married but faithfully married.” Mr. Mohler said he tells the students at his seminary that “if they remain single, they need to understand that there’s going to be a significant limitation on their ability to serve as a pastor.” via Don’t get me wrong… I think Al Mohler is a good guy; but I often wonder where he’s coming from. When scripture says that an elder should be a husband of one wife, does that mean that elders have to be married? I guess I never really thought that was supposed to be the case. What if the elder’s wife dies?  Does that mean he needs to step down? What if a man never marries?  Does that disqualify him? Was Paul the husband of one wife? Or Charles Stanley? Come on, Al.  Can single men pastor as well as married men?  I don’t know why they wouldn’t be able to. Don’t get me wrong.  I think a wife can be a huge asset to a pastor and his ministry.  But to tell young men preparing for ministry that they will be significantly limited unless they find a woman is… well… I’ll let you fill in the word. Finally (not to pick apart Al’s words completely), but what does it mean to be “not only married, but fully married”? Let’s come right out and say it.  Here are two concerns that people have about senior pastors that aren’t married. 1.  That they are prone to promiscuity.  Unmarried pastors do not have a biblical way to carry out their ‘man urges’, thus we think they’re more likely to act outside of scripture when it comes to sexuality. 2.  If they’re not married, some people will think (although they would never admit it) that the pastor is gay.  After all, if he wasn’t, he’d be married. Both are unfounded.  Pick up the newspaper every day and you’ll see that being married as a pastor doesn’t keep you from either #1 or #2. QUESTION:  Is the church discriminatory against single pastors?  Is this a good thing or a bad thing? If your church was looking for a lead pastor, would you consider a single person for the position?  Why or why not?

It’s been a bad few weeks for Yoga in the Christian community.  First Al Mohler came out with his stance:  “Christians who practice yoga are embracing, or at minimum flirting with, a spiritual practice that threatens to transform their own spiritual lives into a “post-Christian, spiritually polyglot” reality.” Then others, including Mark Driscoll, took it a step further, calling Yoga “absolute paganism”:  “Should Christians stay away from yoga because of its demonic roots? Totally. Yoga is demonic… If you just sign up for a little yoga class, you’re signing up for a little demon class.” Then, yesterday, I read this blog post by Shawn Groves entitled “The Death of Discernment”.  Shawn made some great points about many things that we do that have some pagan roots.  Things like tortillas, Halloween… even paper and Thursday. (the day of the week) A little internet search this morning told me this:
  • Wedding rings were and are a pagan custom, and there is no biblical command for them, but we use them in church-sanctioned ceremonies.
  • Wedding ceremonies themselves were also a pagan custom, and are not commanded in Scripture.
  • Funerals include pagan customs, too, based on erroneous ideas about the afterlife. Scripture says nothing about putting flowers on graves, etc.  Egyptian mythology said that the dead should be embalmed, and Joseph participated in this custom (Gen. 50:2-3) despite its pagan origin.
  • Pagans created statues — of animals and people, both life-size and miniatures. They had statues in their flower gardens and statues in their homes. But statues have lost their “pagan” connotations because people do not believe in such gods and goddesses anymore.
  • Money has pagan designs on it. Some U.S. coins used to have the goddess “Liberty” on them. Dollar bills have an eye over a pyramid.
  • Pagans assigned days of the week to different gods, and we still use these names.
Just because something was created by non-christians doesn’t mean that it is forbidden. Paul talks about idols in the New Testament.  His approach is not to run as fast as we can from the pagan stuff, in fact, he takes a different approach… an approach that still bothers many Christians. 1 Corinthians 8:4 and 7 talks specifically about this when it relates to the actual food we eat and it’s relationship to idols:

So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that an idol is nothing at all in the world and that there is no God but one.   For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”), yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.  But not everyone knows this. Some people are still so accustomed to idols that when they eat such food they think of it as having been sacrificed to an idol, and since their conscience is weak, it is defiled. But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.

Paul is saying:  even if your food has been sacrified to an idol; it’s still permissible.  That doesn’t mean you should eat it and flaunt it, but it is permissible.  In Paul’s words, we’re no better if we do, or no better if we don’t. Viewing things as pagan is largely determined by your culture.  Things we would have done in Moses’ time may have been pagan; but today have lost their cultural stigma. So what’s my view on Yoga?  My view is that nobody really cares. I do think that Christians that go to a yoga class are no more trying to embrace pagan culture than I am when I send my wife flowers. Do I think that taking a yoga class is like taking a little demon class?  No… probably not the same thing. But one thing I do know… you won’t find me in a yoga class anytime soon.  Or ever. Read Al Mohler’s thoughts on Yoga. Read the Seattle Times interview with Mark Driscoll. Read The Death of Discernment by Shawn Groves. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this… what do you think?  Are Mohler and Driscoll out in left field on this one, or did what they say need to be said.  How big of a threat is Yoga to the Christian’s walk?  What say you? Todd