Manliness Isn’t Always Next to Godliness

A reader, Nate, emailed me recently about my latest article concerning GodMen and Brad Stine. For some reason, the comments seemed not to be working (if that is still the case, fire me an email), so I received the following from him, and felt it would be beneficial to all of us to read both the questions and the answers.

Seems like you’ve taken two sources — the L.A. Times and Albert Mohler respectively–quite literally. So literally, you’ve completely lost your respect for Brad Stine and his conference simply because of a few quotes by one conference attendee and the fact that he said “bull***t,” in a style more benefitting of Slice of Laodicea than yourself, methinks.

First of all, I really appreciate the last statement, with respect towards Mrs. Schlueter. I have worked hard on this website to provide a levelheaded, conservative, Christian perspective without yelling “heretic!” or making ad hominem attacks on one person because a liberal newspaper says something about them (again, with all due respect towards Slice. I am not insinuating that they do so, but some Christians certainly do so or come very close sometimes.) With that being said, this article was not written without research, and without reading everything from the L.A. Times to Albert Mohler to, most importantly, GodMen’s response to the L.A. Times.

I had hoped to write something short, brief, and to the point about the GodMen issue mainly because it sickened me when I read the Times article. I certainly could not link to the article, nor quote from much of it, due the content. I even had doubts about linking directly to Albert Mohler’s commentary. But I feel that it’s time to go a little deeper since I have learned that one email represents more than one reader’s feelings on the issue.

So, let’s look a little closer at GodMen, from what they say they are to what Albert Mohler and the Times says they are.

First, the Times states that Brad Stine is an ““evangelist, on a mission to build up a new Christian man — one profanity at a time.” Now, the GodMen blog responded to that statement saying that it was “a play on words. Unfortunately it was also misleading, though we believe the majority of the story was fair and accurate.”

“We’re creating a Christian, men’s only event where men are treated like men, with respect, no holds barred, and hit between the eyes. Men are far more likely to make powerful changes in their lives when they come into a setting where there’s absolute freedom in exploring the difficulties we all face on our spiritual journey.

Because of the graphic nature of the topics that accompany this spiritual journey, we decided that there would be no typical church language decorum, but that as long as it was contextual, any use of language to define a point would be accepted.”

The fact that any use to define a point is accepted really disturbs me. And the rest of their response shows they have a “whatever works” mentality. Lives were changed, therefore it is acceptable to be crude, curse, etc. That’s not always and most often is not the case.
You can read the entire L.A. Times or Newsweek articles and understand what GodMen is all about. I don’t think you will jump on board.

I’ve covered what the L.A. Times says and what Albert Mohler says in the last article, so I don’t need to go over that again. But I hope these statements from GodMen have cleared some things up.

The fact is, the whole Christian Nice Guy is a crock.

For all those readers who, like me, felt as if they had a IQ of two when they read that statement, I learned a “crock” is a “broken piece of earthenware.” Anyway…

Jesus didn’t call us to be nice guys. He called us to be leaders and world changers! In my church, the people I would describe as “nice guys” are the ones that never do or say anything. jesus sure wasn’t nice. he was good, but no, he was not nice. He called the leaders of his day as the living dead, vultures, foxes.

It all depends on the definition of “nice guy.” If it’s some feminine, shy, lazy, hidden-in-a-shell, mediocre, tiny, insignificant, non-leader type of person, sure, Jesus didn’t call us to be that. Yet he called us to be like Him — meek and lowly, repaying evil with good, humble and full of compassion, giving His life for the world.

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth,” said Jesus in Matthew 5:5. “If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.”

That’s a real man. A real man is someone who has the power to lash back and destroy, yet has the self-control to keep that anger or rage in check, and continues in holiness. He’s not being a “nice guy” or a wimp. He’s showing that he has more than the one slapping him on the cheek. The notes in my study Bible say that “Meek” means “easy or mild.” Not your normal thought when you think of a man. Yet it is what Christ has called us to be.

As Albert Mohler put it, “Christian manhood is not about beating chests…it is about showing up and doing what real Christian men do. Real manhood is demonstrated in the fulfillment of a man’s assigned roles as husband, father, leader, servant, teacher, protector, and provider. Real manhood is in doing what men do, not endless talk about how great it is to be a man. Real Christian manhood is evident in taking up leadership in the home and in church, not in crude and facile talk about Jesus using profanity when he called Herod “that fox.”

I agree and will continue to discuss those roles of the man later on (since this was just somewhat of a teaser, although it may be longer than I thought). It’s so important to understand this issue.

We need a change.

You said it. The church is feminized. Men are not attending church, they’re not leading, they’re not serving, they’re not protecting, they’re not providing. All in all, men are not stepping up the plate, but are falling away from a feminized church where the leadership are women. When men give up their God ordained place in the church, it’s hard to get back. And we are struggling to return to Biblical manhood. And GodMen and others like them have seen this problem. The only issue is that they have attempted to solve this problem unbiblically.

And if at first, that change is a little bit drastic, a slight overcorrection, it’s just sigs of growing pains.

I certainly hope that you do not believe that after reading the L.A. Times article, reading the GodMen website, and perhaps listening to some of the GodMen material that you will continue to say a “little” drastic or a “slight” overcorrection. I don’t believe those words serve the issue justice, or rather the conference justice. It’s not even funny how disgusting this is.

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.” –Phillipians 4:8

“But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person — such a man is an idolater — has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.”

Tim, you might be saying as a reader, you’re starting to sound like them ultra-fundamentalists quoting Bible verses and insinuating things. If that’s the case, then call me that. The Bible is my final Word and fundamental teaching, not what I feel like believing, or what I wish the Bible would say. It says not even a hint, and even if the L.A. Times exaggerated, then there’s a whole lot more than a hint.

And none of this is to say that women aren’t to be respected.


Eric Miller was one guy out of a thousand that the Times chose to quote. (Are we forgetting just how liberal the Times is? They would love to make Christians look stupid.)

Well, first of all, the Times quoted Brad Stine, his wife, supporters of GodMen, and one or two dissenting voices (such as Miller’s wife.) We all know and understand that the Times doesn’t always lie and make up stories. I also decided to quote Albert Mohler as a balancing view. Also, I didn’t just read the L.A. Times. I read the GodMen website — all of it. This wasn’t just a “well, I heard about this GodMen thing and Brad Stine started it and ‘wow, he says some bad stuff’ so I’m going to lose a good amount of respect for him.” I don’t do that. Maybe it appeared that way, but that wasn’t the case. It’s important to clearly articulate what you mean, and like most writers, I fail at that every so often.

Women are to be cherished and loved. And true love is an adventure. An adventure most nice guys aren’t willing to take because they’re scared of ruining their nice, safe image.

Well said Nate. Thank you for your email. I look forward to your response, whether through your blog or email.

Notice the slight change. Nate didn’t say I sounded like a “ultra-fundamentalist.”

A Philosophical Break

Now most wouldn’t consider stopping to look at philosophy a break, but when I sit down to relax and don’t want to waste my time, I tend to pick up on of two books. Either I grab a copy of No Place For Truth by David F. Wells or Total Truth by Nancy Pearcey. In her book Total Truth, Nancy Pearcey wrote a chapter called “How Women Started the Culture Wars.” One of the subtitles within that chapter caught my eye due to the fact that I had just read an article and had listened to a radio show on the new “GodMen” conference started by popular comedian Brad Stine. I was immediately intrigued by the story – Brad Stine was, in my opinion, a great conservative comedian. But my respect was destroyed in an instant when I heard Albert Mohler describe for me the GodMen conference – men seeing the problems within our churches today, yet doing the worst thing to fix it.

The Los Angeles Times ran a story on the conference, describing Brad Stine as a comedian and now an “evangelist, on a mission to build up a new Christian man — one profanity at a time.”

How do they do that? They do it by simply taking charge:

… Men taking charge is a big theme of the GodMen revival. At what he hopes will be the first of many such conferences, in a warehouse-turned-nightclub in downtown Nashville, Stine asks the men: “Are you ready to grab your sword and say, ‘OK, family, I’m going to lead you?’ ” He also distributes a list of a real man’s rules for his woman. No. 1: “Learn to work the toilet seat. You’re a big girl. If it’s up, put it down.”

Stine’s wife, Desiree, says she supports manly leadership; it seems to her the natural and God-ordained order of things. As she puts it: “When the rubber hits the bat, I want to know my husband will protect me.” But some men at the conference run into trouble when they debut their new attitudes at home.

Eric Miller, a construction worker, admits his wife is none too pleased when he takes off, alone, on a weekend camping trip a few weeks after the GodMen conference this fall.”She was a little bit leery of it, as we have an infant,” he reports. “She said, ‘I need your help around here.’ “Miller, 26, refuses to yield: “I am supposed to be the leader of the family.”

He’s pretty sure his wife will come around once she recognizes he’s modeling his life after Jesus’, like a good Christian should. It’ll just take a little explaining, because the Jesus he has in mind is the guy on the wanted poster: “confrontational and sarcastic when he needed to be,” Miller says, and determined to use “whatever means was necessary to achieve his goal.”

Unbelievable. As Dr. Mohler points out, “A real man honors women — especially his wife. Real manhood is shown in chivalry and the code of the gentleman, not in crude “rules for real men” that should be an embarrassment to all concerned.”

Nancy Pearcey really hits the mark in history of “manly men” from the time of houses as the place of work to the great migration of men from their former places of work – the homes – to the factories and offices. As a result, the primary parent became the Mother, instead of the biblically mandated Father.

Pearcey also looks at the reform movements of the past century, noting that they are all women reforming men. A reaction was set in place as the men began to do whatever it took to avoid over civilization, softness, and effeminateness. The Wild West came with Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett. Jack London began writing books equating men with beasts. “Bad boy” books such as Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer became hits. Outdoor activities were exalted as the Boy Scouts were born. Most importantly, Tarzan became popular.

Now, you ask, why is this so important? Well, let me have Nancy Pearcey explain first.

“Some writers began to celebrate the male as primitive and barbarian, praising the “animal instincts” and “animal energy.” …This new definition of masculine virtue reflected in part the influence of Darwin’s theory of evolution. For if human’s evolved from the animal world, the implication was that the animal nature is the core of our being.”

This is indeed a startling understanding of what people or groups such as GodMen are teaching.

“For the first time it became socially acceptable for fathers not to be involved with their families,” says Pearcey. “By the 1920s and 30s in urban areas, the father had become the secondary parent who coved the “extras”: hobbies, sports, trips to the zoo. As one historian describes it, fathers were reduced to entertainers. Romper Room dads.”

Marriage, of course, is a trap that will “crush man’s adventurous, freedom loving spirit.” Care to guess who said that?

“GodMen,” you say, “or probably Brad Stine.”

Wrong. Playboy magazine in the 1950s.

“Real Christian men are those who have grown up to be men, not those who embarrass the church and confuse the Gospel with displays of adolescent misbehavior,” Albert Mohler concludes in his evaluation of GodMen. “Let’s hope this movement grows up before it blows up.”

Amen to that.

Different By Design Part 1 // Part 2 // A Biblical Marriage // Philosophy Break

A Biblical Marriage

It has certainly been far too long since I have written about one of the most important topics that I can ever cover on this blog, that of biblical manhood and womanhood. As many know, a few weeks ago I began a series on men and women’s biblical roles with John Macarthur’s book Different By Design as a guide. In an odd series of events, that set of articles was unexpectedly and mysteriously suspended–until now (yes, I know all my non-Christian or liberal readers are screaming in horror at what they thought was over). I was recently encouraged to continue the series, and with some recent issues coming up in the news, and through continued study and discussion on the topic, I felt God leading me to press on, and He has provided the time and the resources to do so.

The understanding of proper Biblical manhood and womanhood is essential for each and every believer. Confused Christians across the United States fill our churches, and evangelical leaders are searching for a cure to the issues that they see as a result of ignorance when it comes to the biblical roles of men and women. Sadly, most of these cures for the disease we see — the disengaged father, the feminist mother, the broken families — are unbiblical fixes because our leaders are not looking to the Bible as a guide, but rather to modern day phsychology and philosophies.* As Christians, we need to investigate the failures of the relationship between men and women in our culture and in our churches, and then proceed to properly define biblically what those relationships were to created to be. This can be done by firstly looking at what a wife should be and what a husband should be. When we have this knowledge, it will begin to change not only our knowledge, but also our daily life — and this points to the fact that this knowledge is of the utmost importance.

The Death of Marriage, The Beginning of “Me-age”

Marriage isn’t failing, it’s just being avoided. In Different By Design, Dr. John Macarthur notes that over thirty years ago secular thinkers such as Carl Rogers were already observing this trend:

“The institution of marriage,” says Rogers, “is most assuredly in an uncertain state. If 50 to 75 percent of Ford or General Motors cars completely fell apart within the early part of their lifetimes as automobiles, drastic steps would be taken. We have no such well organized way of dealing with our social institutions, so people are groping, more or less blindly, to find alternatives to marriage (which is certainly less than 50 percent successful.) Living together without marriage, living in communes, extensive child care centers, serial monogamy (with one divorce after another), the women’s liberation movement to establish the woman as a person in her own right, new divorce laws which do way with the concept of guilt — these are all gropings toward some new for of man-woman relationship for the future. It could take a bolder man than I to predict what will emerge (Carl Rogers Becoming Partners: Marriage and Its Alternatives [New York: Dell, 1973], 11.)

Not surprisingly, many are pointing to the fact that most get married to benefit themselves personally, when both partners should be giving all of themselves to their partners. Paul points out that in the last days “men will be lovers of self, lovers of money…unloving…lovers of pleasure rather than God…” The marriage becomes a “me-age” not a marriage.

“When two people can’t live up to each other’s expectations,” adds Dr. MacArthur, “they’ll look for their fantasized satisfaction in the next relationship, the next experience, the next excitement. But that path leads only to self-destruction and emptiness.” MacArthur also points out another great problem for marriage as well as for the family is that there are homes without love and full of disobedience. With every sin, the relationships within the family are weakened.

Rescuing The Family

The final outcome is anarchy in this nation, as I have pointed that out many times in past articles. Ultimately, the question to be answered is this: how can the family be rescued from it’s current state?*

Since relationship between the husband and wife is to imitate the relationship the relationship of Christ and the Church, it must be a pure and holy love. As Paul exhorts husbands to “love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” (Ephesians 5:25) “For that type of relationship to be a reality,” says Dr. MacArthur, “Christ must be at its center.” Marriage for those who have not been regenerated is of much benefit, but they don’t understand fully nor are they able to “apply the power and potential of those principles.” The regenerated family can be just as God has designed it be to when they are “conformed to the image of His Son.” (Romans 8:29)

The Wife

Many have asked and wondered what God’s ideal is for wives, and who better to sum it up than Elisabeth Elliot? Writing on “The Essence of Femininity” she tells us:

“Unlike Eve, whose response to God was calculating and self-serving, the virgin Mary’s answer holds no hesitation about risks or losses or the interruption of her own plans. It is an utter and unconditional self-giving: “I am the Lord’s servant…May it be to me as you have said” (Luke 1:38). This is what I understand to be the essence of femininity. It means surrender.

Think of a bride. She surrenders her independence, her name, her destiny, her will, herself to the bridegroom in marriage…The gentle and quiet spirit of which Peter speaks, calling it “of great worth in God’s sight” (1 Peter 3:4), is the true femininity, which found its epitome in Mary” (John Piper, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood [Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 1991], 398, 532, emphasis added).

That is revolutionary in our society. Surrender is not the norm.

“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands,” is a well-quoted verse within some homes. Sadly many misunderstand or do not seek to truly understand what submitting means, or what Paul is speaking about in Ephesians 5:22-23.

“Paul is commanding everyone to be subject to one another in the fear of Christ and, as the first example,” says MacArthur, “wives are to be subject to their own husbands…We noted…that ‘be subject’ refers to a relinquishing of one’s rights. In no way does it imply a difference in essence or worth; it does refer, however to a willing submission of oneself. Wives, submission is to be your voluntary response to God’s will — a willingness to give up your rights to other believers in general and ordained authority in particular, in this case your own husband.”

Husbands are to be treating their wives as their equals or co-laborers as the they take on the responsibility to care for them, to protect them and to provide for them. Likewise, points out Dr. MacArthur, “wives fulfill their God-given responsibility when they submit willing to their own husbands.” This “reflects not only the depth of intimacy and vitality in their relationship, but also the sense of ownership a wife has for her husband.”

“Let the husband 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” (Ephesians 7:3-4.) It is quite evident that the husband and wife belong to one another.

At this point in discussing wives, I want to quickly shift to what a godly woman looks like, as this is important for all believers to understand, especially those of us who are young single men who will someday marry.

A Godly Appearance

Women must “adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments; but rather by means of good works, as befits women making a claim to godliness,” (1 Timothy 2:9-10). Now, we are about to tread into controversial soil, so let’s go slowly.

To begin, we need to understand the cultural context of the day in Ephesus. Ancient writer and satirist Juvenal wrote his sixth satire on women and their preoccupation with appearance.

“There is nothing that [such] a woman will not permit herself to do, nothing that she deems shameful, and when she encircles her neck with green emeralds and fastens huge pearls to her elongated ears, so important is the business of beautification; so numerous are the tiers and stories piled one another on her head! in the meantime she pays no attention to her husband!”

Dr. Macarthur explains the verse more clearly:

“Rich women also displayed their wealth through elaborate hairdos with expensive jewelry woven into them. That’s what Paul meant by ‘braided hair and gold or pearls.’ The Bible does not forbid women from wearing simple braids or gold, pearls, and high quality clothing. Both the bride of Solomon (Song 1:10) and the virtuous woman described in Proverbs 31:22 wore beautiful clothes and jewelry. However the Bible does forbid wearing those things for the wrong motives.”

The question is how does this apply to the modern day church and the modern day woman? Simple. “A Christian woman ought to attract attention by her godly character, not her physical beauty.” Women should not flaunt their beauty to get attention, but must remain humble and godly, gaining attention only through their good works before God.

“This points out a major problem with the contemporary women’s liberation movement in the church,” says MacArthur. “A woman cannot claim to fear God and yet disregard what His Word says about her role.” Many have attempted to do so, and have destroyed God’s Word by ignoring “hard” Scripture. Yet others have gone to the opposite extreme and have enforced legalism. Neither is biblical, and we must find a biblical balance between the two.

Godly Learning

This part of the discussion on godly women has proved to me to be almost harder than discussing a godly appearance. Most can accept and understand that women, whether young or old, should be gaining attention through godliness and not through their clothing. Therefore it should be modest, and beauty should not be flaunted to distract from worship. The answer remains to the question of what is modest, and that is hard to define in our society today, but many have been able to find a good balance between staying in style yet remaining modest. To say the least, I’m not going to get into that deeply at this point.

When it comes to women in church, I and many others get very uncomfortable. We have no problem with saying that a woman should not be a pastor, or elder, but for some reason many of us struggle with Paul’s statement that we are to “let a woman receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.”

So, women are not be teachers in the context of a worship service. Yet we all understand quite clearly that they are to be discipled and taught just as men.

Dr. MacArthur also points out that women are spiritually equal to men even in the Old Testament in the fact that:

–They had the same responsibilities as men to obey God’s law.
–They had the same protection as men: the penalties for crimes against women are the same as crimes against men
–They took the same vows as men: even women could take the nazarite vow.
–They had the same access to God as men:
–God dealt directly with women in the Bible and not through a man when He wanted to communicate with them.

Yet at the same time:

–They did not serve as leaders: only Deborah was the unique case because of unavailable male leadership
–They had no ongoing prophetic ministry

And it is the same in the New Testament. Women had the same responsibilities as men, and they had the same access to Jesus as men. Yet the clear distinction between men and women continues as we see no woman apostle, pastor, evangelist, or elder.

Now, what about being silent? Should women not be allowed to speak at all? Or can the preach as long as their attitude is right?

The answer is clear. “Women are to keep quiet in the sense of not teaching, and they are to demonstrate subjection by not usurping authority,” says Dr. MacArthur.

“The context [of the verses] implies that the silence Paul commands is not intended to preclude them women from speaking at all but to prevent them from speaking in tongues and preaching in the church…Women may be highly gifted teachers and leaders, but those gifts are not to be exercised over men in the services of the church. That is true not because women are spiritually inferior to men, but because God’s law commands it. he has ordained order in His creation — an order that reflects His own nature and therefore should be reflected in His church.”

Now, we must also understand that women are still permitted to speak His truth in the public arena. They are allowed to proclaim the Word of God except during the time when the church is meeting for corporate worship.

This is just the beginning, and a mere “scratching of the surface” in our look at Biblical manhood and womanhood. There is still more to come, and I hope that you pray that God will give me the strength to continue this series, and wisdom as I answer the questions, comments, and e-mails you have for me and as I continue to write about what to look for in a wife and then continue on into godly manhood.

* First asterisk: that site is a good site. Visit it.
* Second asterisk: Please note that when I speak of family, at this point I am speaking of the Christian family — the family that seems to be the greatest need of change and renewal.

Different By Design Part 1 // Part 2 // A Biblical Marriage // Philosophy Break

Get Out The Vote

I don’t usually do things like this, but today is the exception. So, without further adu, please read the following news bulletin put out by the ATO News Network.

Blogosphere, USA — Many homeschoolers are isolationists when it comes to blogging, preferring to stick to the Monroe Doctrine when it comes to “blog wars.” Yet in this special case, war has been declared by elitists on not only the amazing blog Spunky Homeschool (which has just been retired), but also on homeschoolers who “s*ck.” The blogs who have declared “war” have insulted and continue to insult homeschoolers.

“The important thing is that IvyGate and I crush the homeschoolers,” said Michael Bérubé (warning: language alert), secular elitist blogger, commenting on the seemingly shaky situation he and his fellow elitist bloggers at Ivy Gate’s. As of December 11th, Spunky Homeschool trails with 1189 votes, Ivy Gate with 1358 votes, and Michael Bérubé with 1705. These numbers are constantly changing.

Karen “Spunky” Braun has asked that voters join together to “help homeschooling and decency to shine in a depraved world.” The question is whether or not the homeschoolers will turn out to vote, or will they be “crushed” beneath the heal of “elitist” bloggers. So far, it is far from a blowout, but the homeschoolers are not winning. Yet.

So, get out and vote.

Facing The Lesser Pain

I have trembled at the thought of dying by fire. Trapped in a room, suffocating, blinded, my blood literally boiling, slowly fading in a roaring inferno. I have closed my eyes in horror at the thought of being hung or choked to death, or slowly and painfully dying of some extreme pain. I have been shaken at the thought of dying a terrible and nightmarish death of sickness where I am alone, cold, and forgotten.

Forlorn, mournful, and somewhat depressed I begin to wonder if I would go through those things for the sake of Christ, or would I fall beneath the weight of my impending fear. Would I have the strength to endure agony, pain, and death for Christ? Could I make the ultimate sacrifice, glorying as Paul did in my sufferings?

The answer can only come when I am faced with such horrific situations
, but at some times I wonder about lesser pain. Am I willing to be laughed at, scorned, forgotten, left behind, and rejected because I overcame my fear of sharing Christ with everyone I met? How can I as a believer face the great physical pain without first standing up to the emotions of fear in my daily life here in America? As God’s Word tells us, we are given small things to be faithful in before we are given great things. We must be faithful in the small things, although they may seem so insignificant in the eternal spectrum.

I believe with all my heart that if, or when, the day comes that I am to choose life or death with the Gospel at stake, the Holy Spirit will empower me with His strength. I may not have the will now, yet I believe God is faithful and will provide.

I, like thousands of others, am willing to give my life for the gospel if it be God’s will. Yet I, like still thousands of others, fail to begin here in my hometown with reaching those who need Christ because of fear. How can I stand up to the fear of death when I cannot stand up to fear of rejection, where only my reputation is at stake? May the Holy Spirit’s fire return in our lives and to our nation.