Archive for the ‘sexual ethics’ Category

Along Came Poly.

February 20, 2015

Comments have been moved here:http://deeperwaters.ddns.net/?p=8410

Does the covenant of marriage really matter? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Two days ago on February 18th, prominent internet blogger Richard Carrier, who seems to be the answer to all conservative NT scholarship in the eyes of internet atheists everywhere, wrote a post about how he is coming out polyamorous.

So what does it mean to be polyamorous?

A visit to the Polyamory society defines it this way:

Polyamory is the nonpossessive, honest, responsible and ethical philosophy and practice of loving multiple people simultanously.  Polyamory emphasizes consciously choosing how many partners one wishes to be involved with rather than accepting social norms which dictate loving only one person at a time.  Polyamory is an umbrella term which integrates traditional mutipartner relationship terms with more evolved egalitarian terms.  Polyamory embraces sexual equality and all sexual orientations towards an expanded circle of spousal intimacy and love.  Polyamory is from the root words Poly meaning many and Amour meaning love hence “many loves” or Polyamory.  Of course, love itself is a rather ambiguous term, but most polys seem to define it as a serious, intimate, romantic, or less stable, affectionate bond which a person has with another person or group of persons.  This bond usually, though not necessarily always, involves sex.  Sexualove or eromance are other words which have been coined to describe this kind of love.  Other terms often used as synonyms for polyamory are responsible, ethical or intentional non-monogamy.

Now if you want to say as I seem to take it that this entails a desire to have sex with many people other than one’s own spouse, then I will tell you that there are many many people who I think are really polyamorous.

Namely, every male on the planet, including myself.

But you know, rather than admit that you’re a person who has to learn to practice self-control and rather than admit that maybe sex is meant to be between two people who make a covenant together, it’s often easier to just come up with a name for it and in fact define it as a sexual orientation. In fact, Carrier himself says this. “The ability to be more transparent, public, and open about my sexual orientation is a major part of what I’ve needed in my life.”

And note that. “What I’ve needed.”

Of course,we can’t overlook the fact that there truly is someone for whom to have great sympathy in this situation, and that’s his wife who he has said he is divorcing after twenty years. One can only imagine what is going on in Jen’s world right now and we as Christians should indeed pray for her. After all, she has invested twenty years of her life in a man only to have him leave her.

It’s especially tragic if one really thinks there is a need for multiple partners. It’s going to a woman and saying “You’re not enough for me. I need more than you.” That hits at the core of a woman’s identity very often. This is especially the case of a woman who wants to be a one and only and not simply one among many. Whether Jen falls into this category or not, I cannot say, but I can say I’m quite sure she’s not a happy camper right now and I mean this with all honesty. I have the greatest of sympathy right now for her in this and plan to keep her in my prayers.

We can also be sure Jen is another victim of the “It won’t hurt your marriage” line.

Remember this. When marriage gets hurt, it is not just marriage that hurts. It is real people that get hurt.

So how did all this start? Carrier has the answer:

Several years ago, after about seventeen years of marriage, I had a few brief affairs, because I found myself unequipped to handle certain unusual circumstances in our marriage, which I won’t discuss here because they intrude on my wife’s privacy. In the process of that I also came to realize I can’t do monogamy and be happy. Since this was going to come to light eventually, about two years ago I confessed all of this to Jen and told her I still love her but I would certainly understand if she wanted a divorce. Despite all the ways we work together and were happy together, this one piece didn’t fit anymore.

You see, most of us find ourselves unequipped to handle some events in our marriage, and when we do, we go and get the help we need. Why? We are absolutely devoted to the person we love and want to be the best that we can for them. It is for that reason that on Facebook, my wife and I both have set up marriage groups. Mine is for Christian men only and hers is for Christian women only. These are men and women who are married, engaged, dating, or planning to marry. In both groups, it is about learning to love our spouse the way we’re supposed to.

This is monogamous marriage? Is it hard work. You absolutely bet it is. It’s one of the greatest lessons in self-sacrifice you learn. It is indeed about dying to yourself and learning to live a life where you actually have to realize what it’s like to not only put one person’s good above your own, but you have to learn what it is to do so with one who is so radically different from you, and even if you marry someone very similar to you, their being of the opposite sex makes them really much more different than you realize.

Yes. It is hard work, but it is also worth it.

Now you can go out and form many relationships with many people on a sexual level and just never really get to know them but have a time of pleasure with them, but as for me, I have decided already I have no desire to go wading in the shallow waters of multiple women. I have decided to dive deep into the ocean of my one. The key to real sex, I am convinced, is not going to be some technique or your physique or anything like that. Now these are all fine in and of themselves. If married people want to try a new technique in the bedroom that they both agree to, that’s fine. If they want to get in better shape to please their spouse and be able to do more, that’s fine. But you know what will make it best? It will be the raw unbridled passion that each person has for the other as a passion. It is knowing that the other person wants you for you and not just for sex. Sex is the icing on the cake of having one another.

This is something I have to keep in mind. I have to look at Allie and make sure constantly that I am treating her right. Am I using Allie as a means to get sex, or is sex the means that I use to get Allie? There is a world of difference between the two. If all you want is sex, go out on the streets with enough money and you can get that pretty easily. If what you want is another person, well that requires a lot more.

For many of us, that requires a covenant.

And that is really the great tragedy here. A covenant has been broken. The reason given includes the following:

But one of those things is the mutual understanding that we aren’t compatible with each other.

Most of us find this out before twenty years of marriage, but it does conveniently come out after affairs.

In reality, are any of us really “compatible” with one another? We all will change in the relationship, but if you really love the person, you change with the other person in mind and seek to grow in love towards that other person. If your main focus is on yourself, you won’t think about the other person. Granted, all of us have some areas of self-interest in a relationship and none of us do perfect in it, but we should all seek to strive for that.

Carrier says about this that:

It actually doesn’t make a lot of sense to expect a monogamous relationship to last, given that it assumes the contra-factual that people never change. If we never changed, we would never be learning, never growing or improving as a person. Which is not a commendable goal. And as both members of a couple change, as unavoidably they will, and even if each changes for the better, statistically, just on a basic bell curve reasoning (and thus simply as a matter of mathematical necessity), half are still going to change divergently rather than convergently, so we could predict on that basis alone that half of all monogamies will become non-viable. Which oddly matches observation.

We might want to learn something from that.

This is news for people who did monogamy for centuries and found that for some strange reason, it seems to work pretty well. Could it be that the problem is not that monogamy is hard but that divorce is easy? It doesn’t take much to say “I give up” when things get difficult. In reality, as you change, you learn to love through the change. Divorce in that way becomes a way of saying “I can’t love you the way you are.” It really says nothing about the way the other person is. It says plenty about the person who makes the claim.

Is the other person hard to live with? So are you. Is the other person someone who can annoy you at times? You do the same to them. Is the other person someone who makes no sense to you at times? You don’t make sense to them at times. This is all part of the reality of the covenant. You made a promise to this person when you married them to love them forever and they trusted you in that promise. What does it mean to be the kind of person who breaks that promise?

Now does this mean divorce is never an option? No. There are sad cases where it is. Two such cases I can think of are abuse and adultery. And still in these cases, while divorce can be a necessity, particularly in the case of abuse, it is still a tragedy. None of us should really celebrate when a divorce takes place. We should all have great sorrow. Even if in the case of a woman better off than with an abusive husband, it is still sorrowful that a covenant was broken and a woman has to live with that. As I’ve said before, pray for Jen.

As for those of us who are Christians, let’s make this a favorite case to show Carrier wrong in by loving our spouses the way we’re supposed to and striving for that every day. If you’re in the field of apologetics and you’re able to refute Carrier, but you do not do the job of loving your spouse the way that Christ commands you to, I could call you a fine apologist, but I can’t say I’d call you a fine Christian.

To that end, we do need to establish better places in churches where men and women can come together. Men need to be able to connect with just men and talk about what is on our minds. Women need to have the same. In both cases, sexual issues should not be off the table. It seems often we talk about every aspect of marriage enrichment in church except the sexual one. That should definitely be discussed. Carrier’s embracing of polyamory should be a reminder to Christians that this stuff is becoming more and more acceptable. It’s not going to go away. We need to be prepared to handle it and not just with an apologetic defense of marriage, but a lived out defense of marriage.

Then of course, couples need to come together and be able to discuss the issues that they have, because all marriages have areas that can be improved on. The more we do this, the better able we are going to be to fulfill our duties as Christians. When I was dating Allie, I was studying philosophy. Now it’s New Testament, and I would change that part of what I said to her parents at the time that described my goal in life which is still the same. One goal is obvious, to get a Ph.D. in New Testament. The other goal? To get a Ph.D. in Allie. I want to be a student of learning who she is constantly and growing in my relationship with her more and more. Do I screw up at times? Obviously, but a mature man learns from his mistakes and strives to not repeat them. I just pray I be a mature man.

Keep in mind people that this is something that we should read about as a tragedy. I still do. The problem is not the institution of marriage. The problem is the people entering into it. Let’s try to change ourselves to be better at marriage. Too often we’re trying to change marriage to fit it to ourselves. If you are married, renew that drive today to be the best spouse that you can be.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

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Book Plunge: Fifty Shades of Freedom

February 16, 2015

What do I think of Daniel Eaton’s self-published Ebook? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

As I write this review, you’re going to get some insight at the modern situation, because it is two days after Valentine’s Day and Fifty Shades of Grey has come out. This is a movie that has been described as “Mommy Porn.” In fact, Dakota Johnson who plays the lead female character Anastasia Steele has said she does not want her parents to see it. It’s not just her. Jamie Dornan who plays the lead male role of Christian Grey has been interviewed as well:

How do the actors feel about their movie? Not much better. Johnson says she doesn’t want her family to see it. Dornan says he was often uncomfortable playing his part. “I had to do stuff to [Dakota Johnson] that I would never choose to do to a woman,” he says, adding: “I’m a dad.” Dornan tells one interviewer that he went to a “sex dungeon” in preparation for his role, and that when he came home afterwards he was careful to shower before touching his wife and infant child.

Now in case anyone is wondering, no, I have not seen the movie. I have no intention to see it. I have also not read the books. I have no intention to read the books. Normally, I would recommend something like that, but with the dangers of pornography, I am making an exception. In fact, my wife has told me that she has heard that the female in the film has full frontal nudity. No. I am not doing a search to see if that report is true or not because I am concerned that search would come with images and I do not want that.

But while Fifty Shades of Grey goes to one extreme, the movie Old-Fashioned goes to the other. This is supposed to be a Christian response and frankly, as soon as I saw the trailer, I did not want to see the movie. I uphold love and that romance is created by God. I uphold that sex is something good and wonderful that God created. I am an upholder of chivalry. I still open the car doors for my Allie. I pull out her chair at restaurants and I do not sit down until she has sat down. Believe it or not, because people date and actually have physical contact (Not having sex, but having contact), they can still respect one another. If anyone is wondering what all we did, if you consider the twelve steps of intimacy, we did not do 9-12 until after we were married.

It wasn’t because of lack of desire, but because I knew as did Allie that once you reach a certain point, it would be hard to put the brakes on, yet her parents trusted me entirely with her. They did not have a moment of concern. When it came to the time that I asked them for her hand in marriage, (honestly, for respect, I get a little emotional just thinking about it) they said yes. They knew exactly who was marrying her daughter. If you had told them I was not treating their daughter with respect, they would have said that was ridiculous, this despite that yes, Allie and I did kiss on our first date.

When I see a movie like Old Fashioned I see instead a more gnostic approach to Christianity. It’s as if we’re all these creatures of hormones and we’re bound to listen to our wicked bodies and we need to avoid contact like kissing. I understand people wanting to have the first kiss at the altar, but I don’t think it’s wise. To go straight from kiss to total nudity with one another and sexual intercourse? Too much, too fast.

But the people behind Old Fashioned had this as a response to Fifty Shades of Grey and a challenge. How did that work? Not well. According to this reviewOld Fashioned brought in $258,000 since its opening day. I can quite assure you that was largely Christians, aside from perhaps some film critics who were probably forced to go see it and might have been sitting there wishing they could see Fifty Shades of Grey instead.

A movie, by the way, which brought in $30 million on opening day alone.

Yep. David when he took on Goliath took him on knowing how to fight and knowing what weapons to use and knowing what promises had been made to Israel through God. We today instead go out and enter the battle and count on God being behind our plans instead of looking to see if we’re really equipped. Had David not had experience fighting wild animals as a shepherd, he would not have gone out to fight the giant.

And this is also a problem. Note what the movie is said to be. It’s a response.

A response.

Do you know what that means?

It means that we are seeing what the world is talking about and saying “Whoa. We gotta get in on this.” As long as we are just in response mode, we will never grow. If anyone wants to change their life, they have to stop being reactive. They have to learn to be proactive. They have to learn how to act before an event happens and know what they will do if something happens. Oh sure, you have to know how to properly respond, but you also need to know that you have to act in advance. If you exercise only when you overeat, you will never lose weight. If you make love only when your spouse wants you to, you will never be taking the initiative he wants you to. If you wait until you’re in debt before you seek money, you will have a hard time getting out of debt.

As long as we are just reactive, it is the world that is taking the lead and the Christian church will not make an impact. Did we make an impact with Old Fashioned? Not a bit. In fact, we might have done more harm because people could say “This is the Christian ideal? What prudes.”

That’s why I’m thankful for books like Daniel Eaton’sFifty Shades of Freedom is meant to tell you what your pastor never told you about sex. In fact, the release of Fifty Shades of Grey should be a huge wake-up call for us. This might sound like a shock, but people are actually interested in sex. Yes. Believe it or not, Christians are even interested in sex. That’s right. Christians actually want sex. Can you believe it?

In fact, Friday night my wife and I were at a church event where Heaven Is For Real was being played. Now i won’t deny it. I did not care for the book. Why do I bring this up? Because there are scenes such as the one with the mother wanting to go on a trip to Denver for a reason I do not remember, but her husband, the pastor, says nothing she says could convince him to go. In response she says “Really? Because I was thinking” and at this point, she leans over and starts whispering in his ear.

“Kids! Pack your bags! We’re going to Denver!”

And that is a Christian movie with a pastor saying that. I love that. You know why? Because it’s real. Men really do think that way. This includes Christian men in ministry, including men like myself. As Eaton says

“Evolutionists would say this was some kind of necessary primal urge or something, but it seems like singles want to have sex. Real profound, I know”

While the statement is applied to singles, it fits on all levels. For Christians, when they get married, believe it or not, sex is often in the picture of things they want to do first. Those who do what we did and get a dinner first in fact do so because we want to be ready when the sex comes. At our wedding reception, after about twenty minutes or so, I was ready for us to go. Were my friends and family there and people who I hadn’t seen in a long time? Yep. Sure were. And frankly, no offense to them, but they weren’t on my mind. I just wanted to get my bride to our room and enjoy what I’d waited years for.

And that is a godly desire. Christians should not be ashamed about sex at all. It’s God’s idea. Just think about the male and female bodies. Look at how they go together. God designed it. He made the system. He made it also that it was to be enjoyed by both men and women. As Eaton says about how Christians handle the topic,

“Something tells me that if an accurate interpretation and translation of Song Of Solomon were to be published under another name, the average church would protest its inclusion in the local library. It would be called porn, or at the very least, seen as “dirty” erotica”

It’s almost as if we want to make sex a hands-off subject. (Pun intended)

As Eaton goes on to say about marriage retreats that he has been on

“It was all “romance” and “communication” and “parenting” and personality types and so forth. Nothing wrong with that. It is needed as well. But not even in the frank single-gender break-out sessions did they ever get anywhere near as open as what is talked about in other, less-Christian venues. Every guy in the room would, I’m sure, have loved a frank discussion on the topic. But it is guidance that Christian couples seem forced to get somewhere else”

Eaton is right in saying sex is a beautiful thing. Why turn into something taboo? We all want to talk about sex. A lot of us actually have questions about sex. We seem to be told that it is actually wrong to desire your spouse. Could it actually be that you might want to have sex with your spouse for a reason other than you want to procreate? Men need to talk about sex. It’s a way they can be held accountable and avoid pornography. Women need to talk about sex because as mind blowing as it can be, women desire sex also. If they didn’t, they would not be interested in Fifty Shades of Grey. As Eaton says

“Here in the Bible Belt though, most Christian ladies that I know would die of shame if one of their friends from church found out that they had purchased a revealing piece of lingerie from somewhere. And the activity on the church grapevine “prayer chain” would be enough to light up Vegas for a night if someone actually saw the head deacon’s wife in Victoria’s Secret! I believe that if the church was a bit more open to discussing the subject, you wouldn’t find so many Christian men addicted to porn and so many unhappy Christian marriages. It’s great to say that married couples should satisfy each other, but typically you end up with different interpretations of what all that can/ should entail and it becomes a source of stress instead of pleasure”

Eaton’s book is not a list at rules. It’s a look at many controversial topics and how to handle them. One such topic is lust. Eaton says he struggled with this one. Not in the sense of lusting, but in the sense of being told what was lust. Is it wrong to look at a woman and think she’s beautiful? No. It’s what you do with the thought. When you start thinking about how much you want to have sex with her, then it is wrong.

In fact, Eaton tells about his wife who went to a Christian college. One of the dorm matrons taught the females that all nudity was just dirty. This is even after you’re married. You should always be covered in some way. If you are going to be unclothed because you just had to be, then by golly you’d better make sure that the lights are off. God forbid that your husband actually sees you naked.

Now please tell me, if a wife wants to follow that rule, how on Earth can she help a married man follow the commandment that God gives in Proverbs 5 to a husband?

18 Let your fountain be blessed,

and rejoice in the wife of your youth,

19     a lovely deer, a graceful doe.

May her breasts satisfy you at all times;

may you be intoxicated always by her love.

Yes, believe it or not, men are to desire their wives physically. I know that’s a real shock, but yes. If a husband wants to see his wife naked, it is no sin. In fact, if a husband does not want to see his wife naked, he’s got a real problem. As was said in A Celebration of Sex, a young bride was told by her mother “Your husband is going to want to see you naked.” If women are getting messages like the one that Eaton’s wife reports, then there is a problem. Sex is not wrong. It is not in itself a sin. It is a gift from God. It can be used wrongfully. It can be sin in some situations, but in the context of a husband and wife acting in love towards each other, it is not a sin. Far from sin, it is a commandment. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7

2 But because of cases of sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. 3 The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4 For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Do not deprive one another except perhaps by agreement for a set time, to devote yourselves to prayer, and then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

The main part I disagreed with Eaton on is that he thinks the church is doing an adequate job telling us that sex is a good thing. It is not. It is not doing that because it is hardly talking about sex at all. In fact, too many times when I have heard sex talked about from the pulpit, it has been in negative terms, especially to our young people. It’s okay to tell young people about the joy of sex.

From my perspective, I remember we used to have a speaker come to the schools and sometimes churches and he would say he was saving up money because when he got married, he was going to be having sex with his wife for two weeks. This is a guy who loved sex. He wanted sex. He was in fact still a virgin and encouraging other kids to wait until marriage like he was and then, go at it! I understand that he is married now so I hope those two weeks were excellent) I remember a message like that positively. I don’t remember the negative messages that way.

Fifty Shades of Grey should be a wake-up call as to how poorly the church is handling these issues and thankfully, there are books like Eaton’s out there.. This is also a short one. It’s 23 pages long on the Kindle and it can be read in half an hour to an hour, but that will be a half hour to an hour that is well spent. It is my sincere hope that the church could follow principles like these and learn the importance of talking about sex. Fifty Shades of Grey is one extreme. Old Fashioned is the other. As in many cases, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. I think Eaton is closer to it than many.

In Christ,

Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Sex And Violence In The Bible

January 30, 2015

What do I think of Joseph W. Smith’s book from P & R Publishing? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

sexandviolenceintheBible

When you see a book called Sex and Violence in the Bible: A Survey of Explicit Content In The Holy Book, it’s tempting to think the worse. Ah Yes. Here we go. Another book from an atheist meant to show us just how incredibly dirty that our Bible really is. Here we go. It’s another claim about how there are so many passages in the Bible that you will never hear talked about in a church service. Once again, we are seeing that the Bible can be a book that has passages that are highly disturbing to read about.

If you thought that, you would be partially right.

Except this book isn’t by an atheist but by an evangelical Christian.

The Bible in fact does contain many passages that would be considered dirty. It does contain passages we don’t talk about in church services. It does have passages that are highly disturbing to read about. Finally, we should be thankful it has those because the world we live in contains a lot of filth and a lot of realities that we don’t want to talk about and yet we have to face them.

The book starts with the story about Smith showing a movie at a church and because the movie had some questionable material in it, it was later said that it was not the kind of movie that should have been shown. Smith thought about this and how the Bible contains such material as well and what would happen if we turned the whole Bible into a movie where we showed everything it talked about. What rating would that movie get? Would we show it in church?

Good questions.

Smith starts with sex. Let’s face it. We think about sex constantly. I know we men do and I’m sure women do far more than I realize. It is on our televisions and it is in our films. We can see this especially since Fifty Shades of Grey is supposed to be hitting the movie screens soon after being a best-selling book. Sex is extremely popular and since we think about it all of the time, doesn’t it make sense that the Bible would mention it?

Sometimes, the Bible does use euphemisms to describe sex. There are very few words that describe the action itself in the good book, whereas in our world, you can find an abundance of claims. (Getting laid, doing it, making love, coitus, etc. Some terms are technical, some are positive and romantic, and some are just dirty) The details of what happens in sex are never really described, though the longings can be quite detailed at times. Just consider what is said about Song of Songs! For some thinking on that, remember with euphemisms that a hand is not always a hand.

One place the Bible is normally quite positive in describing sexuality is in describing the female, and why should this be a surprise? Some might say this is because the Bible was written by men and what are men thinking about but the female body? Perhaps, but it could also be because woman is created as the representation of beauty in creation. Women have a great interest in their beauty and it is celebrated in the Scriptures. Her beauty is seen as a prize and a gift, though certainly a man is to respect that gift. The female body is spoken of quite clearly in many places although some parts of her do indeed have euphemisms.

But there is a dark side. You will find times where sex is seen in a negative light. The sections on violence for instance contain accounts of rape. Other than that, you will also find cases of incest that actually take place in the Bible. You will find stories of adulterous affairs that take place. What has happened? It is because just as in our world, man has taken a good gift of God, sex, and used it for evil.

Violence? Yep. Violence is in there. There are cases of murder and torment and burning and things of that sort. Smith devotes chapters to many forms of violence and where they take place and sees what commentators say about them. Is this graphic? Yes. Is it often matters we do not want to think about? Yes. So why bring them up? Because they are matters we should think about.

That’s the point. If we are to take Scripture seriously, we have to take all of it seriously, including the parts that can be difficult. Maybe we should hear a sermon on Ezekiel 16 or 23. Maybe we should discuss regularly the kinds of violence that show up in the Bible. Could it be the reason so many Christians become atheists is because of what they are stunned to read about in the Bible that their church never prepared them for? Could it be we have a problem with sexual ethics in the church today because we never really discuss what the Bible has to say about sex?

Smith’s work is quite thorough and one worth looking into. These are the kinds of things we need to talk about also to show us how serious the problem of sin is that it distorts sex and that it leads to violence. It is then that we can also truly appreciate the work of the cross and how much we need to embrace sanctification. Those interested in these matters will be benefited by having this book in their library.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Is Bill Maher Right on Religion?

January 23, 2015

What is the source of moral progress? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out!

Recently, an article showed up in Salon saying Bill Maher is right about religion. Maher is of course the man behind Religulous, which we have reviewed earlier on this blog. Michael Shermer who wrote the article is a well-known skeptic and I have actually seen him in debate. So let’s go through and see what Michael Shermer has to say. Is he right about his claims on moral progress?

Most people believe that moral progress has primarily been due to the guiding light of religious teachings, the activities of spiritual leaders, and the power of faith-based initiatives. In “The Moral Arc” I argue that this is not the case, and that most moral progress is the result of science, reason, and secular values developed during the Enlightenment. Once moral progress in a particular area is underway, most religions eventually get on board—as in the abolition of slavery in the 19th century, women’s rights in the 20th century, and gay rights in the 21st century—but this often happens after a shamefully protracted lag time. Why?

Okay. I’ll go on and say I haven’t got a chance to read the book. My to-read list right now is extensive and I’m saving my money, but let’s see if Shermer can provide evidence here. Right now, I see some problems right at the start. For instance, many of the church fathers were strong opponents of slavery based on Christian teachings and indeed, the church did put an end to slavery. Rodney Stark shows this in The Victory of Reason with telling how Bathilda, the wife of Clovis II, was instrumental in this regard. Did slavery start again later on? It did, and sadly many Christians took part, but many ended it as well. Wilberforce was a strong voice to ending it and the abolitionists over here who were using the Bible were the Bible scholars of their day, in response to the literalists, which would sadly fit the way many atheists read the Bible today.  I suspect Shermer would fall into that camp.

As for women’s rights, once again, the church has been the strong champion of this. Too often we can look at a passage such as “Wives, submit to your husbands.” Instead, consider how husbands were to love their wives. They were to be willing to die for them. This would have been unheard of in Paul’s day. Normally, the commands given were to everyone else to tell how to support the head of the household, the man. Paul has most of his commands on house rules to go to the men instead. For more on this also, listen to my interview with Lynn Cohick on Jesus and women.

The Old Testament starts out with men and women both being in the image of God. In the New Testament, we are told in Galatians 3:28 that in Christ there is neither male nor female among other things. When women have been involved in the sex trade, such as in Thailand, Christians have been there to end it. David Marshall documents this very well in his book How Jesus Passes The Outsider Test. I have reviewed that book here.

Of course, if Shermer wants to say that this is about abortion, then I do not think we should see that as progress. The same applies to what he calls “Gay rights.” This is part of an idea of progress to be just saying that we want something and then when we get it, say that that is progress. What has to be established is that this is good in each case. Color me skeptical that redefining the family and allowing women to kill their children in the womb should be counted as progress.

if Shermer wants to say this came from the Enlightenment, then I would like to know what new truths he thinks we discovered in that time. It is after all since the Enlightenment that we have had two world wars take place and in fact, we could easily say Nietzsche was right about the 20th century being the bloodiest century of all. Much of this also took place under atheistic regimes or at least anti-Christian ones, which would include Hitler. No. He wasn’t an atheist, but he sure wasn’t a friend of Christianity.

The rules that were dreamt up and enshrined by the various religions over the millennia did not have as their goal the expansion of the moral sphere to include other sentient beings. Moses did not come down from the mountain with a detailed list of the ways in which the Israelites could make life better for the Moabites, the Edomites, the Midianites, or for any other tribe of people that happened not to be them. One justification for this constricted sphere can be found in the Old Testament injunction to “Love thy neighbor,” who at that time was one’s immediate kin and kind, which was admittedly an evolutionary stratagem appropriate for the time. It would be suicidal to love thy neighbor as thyself when thy neighbor would like nothing better than to exterminate you, which was often the case for the Bronze Age peoples of the Old Testament. What good would have come of the Israelites loving, for example, the Midianites as themselves? The results would have been catastrophic given that the Midianites were allied with the Moabites in their desire to see the Israelites wiped off the face of the earth.

I wonder how much of the OT Shermer is really familiar with. Most of the battles Israel fought prior to the Promised Land were defensive wars. Let’s consider the Midianites. The Midianites were constantly trying to destroy Israel. Now we don’t have details on individual interactions between Israelites and Midianites, and that is what the law applies to. On a national level, Israel did have to defend themselves.

And yet, anyone was welcomed to be part of Israelite society. We have Ruth who is a Moabitess who ends up being part of the lineage of David and of Christ. We have Rahab of Jericho who has the same thing happen to her despite being a prostitute. We also have instructions on how foreigners were to be treated who sojourned among the Israelites. Anyone who wanted to come to the God of Israel was welcome.

Shermer can also say the command to love your neighbor applies only to one’s immediate kin and kind, but what evidence has been given of this? It has just been asserted. He might have some in his book to be sure, but what evidence has he given here? Could he have not at least referenced some paper or the work of some scholar that would attempt to argue this? Of course, the Israelites could have seen it that way, but we need some evidence.

And certainly, there is the mention of Bronze Age people, but we wonder how much study Shermer has really done on Bronze Age society. Has he really thought about how they lived or has he simply imposed his own culture on to them too often? One of the rules of studying another culture is to realize that that culture is different from yours and the harsh realities of life are different.

Today, of course, most Jews, Christians, and Muslims believe that moral principles are universal and apply to everyone, but this is because they have inculcated into their moral thinking the modern Enlightenment goal of broadening and redefining the parameters of moral consideration. But by their nature the world’s religions are tribal and xenophobic, serving to regulate moral rules within the community but not seeking to embrace humanity outside their circle. Religion, by definition, forms an identity of those like us, in sharp distinction from those not us, those heathens, those unbelievers. Most religions were pulled into the modern Enlightenment with their fingernails dug into the past. Change in religious beliefs and practices, when it happens at all, is slow and cumbersome, and it is almost always in response to the church or its leaders facing outside political or cultural forces.

Again, no evidence is given of this. Most believe in universal moral principles because of the Enlightenment? Really? Does that include Saint Paul in Romans 2 telling us about the law written on the heart? Does that include the thinkers from Aristotle to Aquinas and beyond who believed in Natural Law thinking? Has Shermer even seen that a large part of the Summa is devoted to moral questions and the reason for the arguments goes far beyond “God says so.”?

Shermer also talks about religion by definition. Whose definition? Religion is notoriously difficult to define and in fact, we could say that that message of outsiders has been followed by atheistic regimes who didn’t mind killing Christians who were outsiders and did not believe in the progress that would come through the Marxist revolutions. We also have to wonder how this Enlightenment revolution came about. Was it through the bloody French Revolution for instance?

It is as if Shermer has never read anything any theist has to say about Natural Law, which could be the truth. Now of course Natural Law thinking could be wrong, but that is not the same as saying that the theists did not have an explanation for moral principles being universal and applying to everyone. This was believed long before the Enlightenment was around and it was believed largely in part thanks to Christians who brought a theistic belief and a religious belief together.

The history of Mormonism is a case in point. In the 1830s the church’s founder, Joseph Smith, received a revelation from God to enact what he euphemistically called “celestial marriage,” more accurately described as “plural marriage”—the rest of the world calls it polygamy—just about the time he found a new love interest while married to another woman. Once Smith caught the Solomonic fever for multiple wives (King Solomon had 700), he couldn’t stop himself or his brethren from spreading their seed, along with the practice, which in 1852 was codified into Mormon law through its sacred “Doctrines and Covenants.” Until 1890, that is, when the people of Utah—desirous for their territory to become a state in the union—were told by the United States federal government that polygamy would not be tolerated.

Conveniently, God issued a new revelation to the Mormon leaders, instructing them that a plurality of wives was no longer a celestial blessing, and that instead monogamy was now the One True Way. As well, Mormon policy forbade African Americans to be priests in the church. The reason, Joseph Smith had decreed, was that they are not actually from Africa but instead are descendants of the evil Lamanites, whom God cursed by making their skin black after they lost the war against the good Nephites, both clans of which were descendants of two of the lost tribes of Israel. Naturally, since the evil Lamanites were prohibited from having sexual relations with the good Nephites, interracial marriage was also banned. This racist nonsense lasted a century and a half until it collided with the civil rights movement of the 1960s. Finally, in 1978, the Church head Spencer W. Kimball announced that he had received a new revelation from God instructing him to drop the racial restrictions and adopt a more inclusive attitude.

Okay. Not much problem here….

But what are we to draw from this? One religious movement was like this, therefore all of them are? Does Shermer really think he can point to Mormonism and say “Since Mormonism is like this, all religions are like this.”? This is a hasty generalization at its best. It also is not the way Christians, Jews, or Muslims act since most of us do believe in a closed canon. Shermer could find a sect out there with different beliefs, but that would not represent the main three monotheistic faiths as a whole.

There are three reasons for the sclerotic nature of religion: (1) The foundation of the belief in an absolute morality is the belief in an absolute religion grounded in the One True God. This inexorably leads to the conclusion that anyone who believes differently has departed from this truth and thus is unprotected by our moral obligations. (2) Unlike science, religion has no systematic process and no empirical method to employ to determine the verisimilitude of its claims and beliefs, much less right and wrong. (3) The morality of holy books—most notably the Bible—is not the morality any of us would wish to live by, and thus it is not possible for the religious doctrines derived from holy books to be the catalyst for moral evolvement.

The first one does not follow. I can fully believe someone has departed from the Christian faith and does not follow the one true God, but they are still my neighbor and I am still obligated to love them as myself. For #2, while we do not have the same methodology of science, this does not mean the claims are just faith claims entirely. They are established through different methods. Want to know who Jesus was, what He said and did, and if He rose again? Then study history. Want to know if God exists? Study philosophy and metaphysics. Want to know if the New Testament documents have been handed down accurately? Study textual criticism. Of course, in each area there are many more areas that can be studied. Shermer should know this having debated some Christian apologists, yet he chooses to not mention this.

In fact, we could ask for #2 if there was a systematic process or empirical method to determine that a claim must have a systematic process or empirical method to determine its truth. Shermer has made a claim that is not scientific all the while making a claim that puts science on the highest branch of knowledge. Those who take a position always take such a position on grounds that are not scientific. For #3, we will look at this later.

Many Jews and Christians say that they get their morality from the Bible, but this cannot be true because as holy books go the Bible is possibly the most unhelpful guide ever written for determining right from wrong. It’s chockfull of bizarre stories about dysfunctional families, advice about how to beat your slaves, how to kill your headstrong kids, how to sell your virgin daughters, and other clearly outdated practices that most cultures gave up centuries ago.

There is a lot of misinformation in here, and a lot of misunderstanding. For instance, are there stories of dysfunctional families. Yes. These stories also show up on the evening news and in the newspaper. Does that mean these are prescriptive, telling us how we should live, or does that mean that they are descriptive, telling us simply what it was that happened and letting them be object lessons for us?

How to beat your slaves? I don’t think so. There’s no passage that says “Now take your rod and aim straight for the back first. That’s the place that you want to start!” Now it does say that some would, but this was also the kind of discipline that was around back then and would also apply to children. Yet how much could someone be disciplined? If they even lose a tooth, they go free and guess who has to give them ample resources when they go free. That’s right. The master. Guess also who will lose honor in the community and not have people come to him willing to work? Same answer.

What is forgotten is that slavery was not Civil War slavery and was closer to our employer-employee system. An employer cannot beat you today, true, but they can just as easily lay you off and have you out of work. Your livelihood is gone in that moment. In the ancient world, you couldn’t just go down the street to Wal-Mart and get a job. You had to work for someone else and this was the language used to describe it. It was also something that was done willingly among the Hebrews. For more on this, I recommend Scripture and Slavery.

How to kill your headstrong kids? Really? The passage in question is Deuteronomy 21:18-21. I have dealt with it earlier, but let’s put it up here:

18 If someone has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, 19 his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. 20 They shall say to the elders, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a glutton and a drunkard.” 21 Then all the men of his town are to stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid.

This is not a case of little Johnny won’t clean up his room so let’s kill him. This is a drunkard and a glutton, which means someone of mature age who knows better and refuses to listen to discipline. Is the penalty harsh? Yes. It’s also known in advance and the one living this way is one who cares nothing for the good of the community. This might be hard for an individualist like Shermer to understand, but the Majority World would consider his views to be the ones that are out of sync. After all, why should you sacrifice the good of the whole for the good of the one?

For selling virgin daughters, in the ancient world, marriages were arranged and a dowry was expected to be given. That’s because families were being united. Since this would involve financial loss, there would be a dowry to be expected to be paid.

Shermer can say these are outdated, but at the same time, for a period of time in parts of the world, this was necessary, and some could be necessary still in some parts of the world. This was done to maintain the social order and have a functioning society. Again, one wonders just how much Shermer has actually studied the Ancient Near East, or if he’s just reading it like a modern individualist.

In order to make the Bible relevant, believers must pick and choose biblical passages that suit their needs; thus the game of cherry picking from the Bible generally works to the advantage of the pickers. In the Old Testament, the believer might find guidance in Deuteronomy 5:17, which says, explicitly, “Thou shalt not kill”; or in Exodus 22:21, a verse that delivers a straightforward and indisputable prohibition: “You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”

These verses seem to set a high moral bar, but the handful of positive moral commands in the Old Testament are desultory and scattered among a sea of violent stories of murder, rape, torture, slavery, and all manner of violence, including capital punishment for a variety of acts:

Maher acts like cherry-picking is going on, but is this the view of Christian scholarship? Is it not the case that we realize some laws were civil and ceremonial and applied to a theocratic system whereas they don’t today? Even in the case of a universal moral law, we do not live in that kind of theocracy and so even if the moral principle is still upheld, the way it is dealt with is different. If we are cherry-picking, then what about Shermer talking about parts of the Bible that he thinks uphold a high moral standard? Is he not cherry-picking as well?

Let’s see what he says about a variety of acts that have capital punishment as their sentence.

Blaspheming or cursing of the Lord: “And he that blasphemeth the name of the Lord, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the Lord, shall be put to death.” (Leviticus 24:13-16)

• Worshiping another God: “He that sacrificeth unto any god, save unto the Lord only, he shall be utterly destroyed.” (Exodus 22:20)

Both of these are because Israel was in a covenant relationship with God. Going against God would lead to the destruction of the covenant and the penalties that followed. If Bill Maher or Michael Shermer think this is ridiculous, then I suggest they go on live television and try to make a joke about killing the president and see how long it takes before the Secret Service shows up at their door. Treason is still a serious crime, in fact, one of two crimes specifically mentioned in the Constitution.

• Witchcraft and wizardry: “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.” (Exodus 22:18)

This is the same kind of thing. It’s an act of treason calling on another deity and if these kinds of beings are real, then it is putting everyone else around the person in danger.

• Female loss of virginity before marriage: “If any man take a wife [and find] her not a maid … Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die.” (Deuteronomy 22:13-21)

The OT law is didactic in nature. Stoning was a possibility, but it was not the only one. This would be left for the judges to decide or for the disgraced husband to request. A woman was prized for her virginity and the man had essentially entered into an agreement with the father-in-law about the bride. While under the father’s supervision, he was to protect her virginity. If he didn’t, then it was as if he deceived the son-in-law. He could ask for any money back that had been exchanged and he could have the woman live with her father, a burden on him as no one would want to marry her then. There were numerous other methods that could be used. The husband is not seeking to kill the bride but just end the marriage. If he was wrong of course, he would be shamed greatly by a flogging. If not, then the shame came on the bride and her family.

• Homosexuality: “If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.” (Leviticus 20:13)

I am sure Shermer wants to see homosexuality as either morally neutral or maybe even positive but we need more of a reason than “Modern people think so.” If that is the case, it is no more of a reason to accept it than for Shermer to hear something like “God says so” from our side. We need to look at the data. In a theocracy like ancient Israel, this was an immoral practice tied also to immoral practices of the pagans, that would have led to treason against God. The same penalty applies. Sexual matters were taken seriously I suspect because humanity normally has a hard time controlling their sex drive.

• Working on the Sabbath: “Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you an holy day, a sabbath of rest to the Lord: whosoever doeth work therein shall be put to death.” (Exodus 35:2)

Again, this was also part of the covenant agreement. Note also that anyone who did work could use it as a way to get ahead of their neighbors financially. In essence, doing something like this was a way of cheating your neighbors. This is also not a universal law as other nations were allowed to work on the Sabbath, but this was to be a special sign of the covenant with Israel.

Most modern Christians, however, respond to arguments like this by saying that the Old Testament’s cruel and fortunately outdated laws have nothing to do with how they live their lives or the moral precepts that guide them today. The angry, vengeful God Yahweh of the Old Testament, they claim, was displaced by the kinder, gentler New Testament God in the form of Jesus, who two millennia ago introduced a new and improved moral code. Turning the other cheek, loving one’s enemies, forgiving sinners, and giving to the poor is a great leap forward from the capricious commands and copious capital punishment found in the Old Testament.

Unfortunately, this could be the case that too many Christians have a Marcionite attitude towards God. I would prefer instead to say we answer it by actually studying the Old Testament culture. Shermer seems to look through the Bible and says “I find something I deem offensive, therefore it is wrong” without bothering to really understand the culture that he is speaking about.

That may be, but nowhere in the New Testament does Jesus revoke God’s death sentences or ludicrous laws. In fact, quite the opposite (Matthew 5:17-30 passim): “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.” He doesn’t even try to edit the commandments or soften them up: “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven.” In fact, if anything, Jesus’ morality is even more draconian than that of the Old Testament: “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.”

This is true in part. Jesus does come to fulfill the Law, but what does that mean? This is one of the extremely debated passages in the NT to decide what is meant by it and Shermer posts it like it’s just patently obvious. Let’s see what else he says about this.

In other words, even thinking about killing someone is a capital offense. In fact, Jesus elevated thought crimes to an Orwellian level (Matthew 9:28-29): “Ye have heard it was said by them of old time, Though shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.” And if you don’t think you can control your sexual impulses Jesus has a practical solution: “If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: for it is profitable for thee that one of thy members should perish, and not that thy whole body should be cast into hell.”

Shermer’s problem here is that Jesus is not saying the judges of Israel have the right to judge a fault crime. Jesus is saying that before God, who does know one’s thoughts, one is guilty. Note also the problem is not having a desire. A desire cannot necessarily be helped. Note Jesus says that if you look at a woman to lust, you have already committed adultery in your heart. Looking and lusting is something that could be difficult to help, but looking to lust is something specific. If you look at a woman just to desire her and treat her like an object, you’ve already defiled her in your mind.

Yet nowhere does it say that Israel gives capital punishment. It says one is in danger before God. Jesus is telling us all to shape up and say not to look at a woman to lust after her. (And here I thought Christianity was supposed to be against women and yet here is Jesus telling us not to look at women as sex objects and apparently Shermer is complaining about that as well.)

As for Jesus’s own family values, he never married, never had children, and he turned away his own mother time and again. For example, at a wedding feast Jesus says to her (John 2:4): “Woman, what have I to do with you?” One biblical anecdote recounts the time that Mary waited patiently off to the side for Jesus to finish speaking so that she could have a moment with him, but Jesus told his disciples, “Send her away, you are my family now,” adding (Luke 14:26): “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple.

It is curious to know how never marrying and never having children means that one does not have good family values. Of course, one cannot demonstrate how to be a good spouse or a good parent without having a spouse or without having children, but it does not one mean one cannot have good views on the matter. But for now, let’s look at the Scriptures that Shermer cites.

What Jesus said to his woman first off in calling her woman, was a typical way of addressing women in the ancient culture. It was not a disrespectful way. The latter part of the phrase could be, but it could also just be a case of saying “This is really none of my business.” Still, it’s important to note that Jesus does do what His mother asks of Him at this point, which is hardly an example of turning her away.

Shermer also claims Jesus tells his disciples to send his mother away as the disciples are his family now. Really? Let’s look first at Matthew 12:

46 While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. 47 Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.”

48 He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

And Luke 8:

19 Now Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him, but they were not able to get near him because of the crowd. 20 Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.”

21 He replied, “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.”

And Mark 3:

31 Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. 32 A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.”

33 “Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked.

34 Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”

We are not told how the story ends, but nowhere do we have Jesus telling the disciples to send his mother away. Jesus is instead making a point about loyalty. It is no longer among family lines, but is in relation to God.

This is especially so with Luke 14:26. Too many skeptics of Christianity jump up and down like they’ve found buried treasure when they come across this verse. Meanwhile, most of us who are not fully sold out on literalism and know how to recognize a hyperbole when we see one do just that. We know that Jesus is making a comparative statement between different things. He is saying that if you love anything more than you love Him, you are not worthy to be His disciple. He is not encouraging you to go out and actively hate your family.

Even sincere Christians cannot agree on Jesus’ morality and the moral codes in the New Testament, holding legitimate differences of opinion on a number of moral issues that remain unresolved based on biblical scripture alone. These include dietary restrictions and the use of alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine; masturbation, pre-marital sex, contraception, and abortion; marriage, divorce, and sexuality; the role of women; capital punishment and voluntary euthanasia; gambling and other vices; international and civil wars; and many other matters of contention that were nowhere in sight when the Bible was written, such as stem-cell research, gay marriage, and the like. Indeed, the fact that Christians, as a community, keep arguing over their own contemporary question “WWJD” (What Would Jesus Do?) is evidence that the New Testament is silent on the answer.

Are some things not clear and simple? Obviously. Some things are. Some are not. That’s the nature of the beast. It also gives the impression that the purpose of the NT is to tell us all moral precepts. It’s not. Most of these are to be known anyway. Still, I find this paragraph amusing. Here Christians are so often accused of not knowing how to think for themselves, and then the other accusation we get is one like this one that we don’t agree among ourselves. I can’t help but wonder which is it to be.

All this means is that there is work to be involved. That involves Scriptural study, as well as study in ethics and philosophy. Christian academics for the most part have not been opposed to such.

If God really believes in equal rights for all of his people, one would think that He would have said something about them in his holy book. But such sentiments are nowhere to be found in the Bible. The closest thing to a modern moral value is in Galatians 3:28, when the apostle Paul says: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” That sounds ecumenical, but the surrounding verses demonstrate clearly what Paul is up to: (Galatians 3:1) “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?” And what is this truth, according to Paul? The truth is that “[T]he Jew in becoming a Christian did not need to become a Greek, nor the Greek a Jew. The slave might continue to serve his master, and “male” and “female” retained each its function in the ongoing stream of life.”

The notion of equal rights for all people is one that makes sense in an individualistic society, but not in the ancient society where people would not stand up and say “I have rights! I am an individual!” Yet Shermer’s look at Galatians is just confusing. What is the truth being argued for in Galatians 3? It’s that circumcision is not required to show you are part of the covenant of God. What makes you righteous before God? It’s not being a Jew or a Greek. It’s not being a male or a female. It’s not being a slave or a freeman. Jews were still Jews. Greeks were still Greeks. Men and women were still men and women. Slaves and masters were still slaves and masters, but their new identity was to be in Christ. Being in Christ does not depend on either of those.

That is about as ecumenical as you can get. Want to be a Christian? Anyone can. It does not matter your station in life, your nationality, or your gender. You can be part of the family of God. God welcomes all. Shermer’s reading of the text quite frankly is just confusing and it is one that I do not think any Biblical scholar would uphold.

In other words, Paul is saying that you can carry on as you are. If you’re Greek, there’s no need to become a Jew—a significant dispensation, given that a man converting to Judaism often had to submit to adult circumcision, and this is just the kind of thing that puts a guy off the whole idea. Paul was not a revolutionary advocating violence, and he most assuredly wasn’t ghostwriting the U.S. Constitution. He was saying that if you’re a slave, you must keep on being a slave; if you’re a wife, must continue being regarded as property; no matter who you are, you can still worship Jesus Christ and be abused by your culture in whatever manner is customary for someone of your breeding and station.  And in any case, slaves remained slaves for eighteen more centuries, and women remained little more than property for nineteen more centuries in Christian countries around the world. Clearly, even if Paul’s message were interpreted to mean that we’re all equal, no one took it seriously. But what Paul’s passage really meant was that anyone can go to heaven by accepting Jesus as the Christ (as instructed in John 3:16), and that’s the message of universalism—not equal treatment in this world, but in the next world.

Shermer again assumes his mindset of Paul as if Paul was happy with women being seen as property. In 1 Cor. 7, Paul tells slaves that if they can get their freedom, go for it. Paul nowhere says a woman must put up with abuse and be treated as property. But let’s look and use slavery as an example. No one saw any problem with slavery until the time of the Civil War? (And it would be recommended that Shermer read Noll’s The Civil War As A Theological Crisis which I have also reviewed.

How about the epistle of Clement of Rome?

1Clem 55:2
We know that many among ourselves have delivered themselves to
bondage, that they might ransom others. Many have sold themselves to
slavery, and receiving the price paid for themselves have fed others.

Ignatius to Polycarp:

4:3 Despise not slaves, whether men or women. Yet
let not these again be puffed up, but let them serve
the more faithfully to the glory of God, that they may
obtain a better freedom from God. Let them not desire
to be set free at the public cost, lest they be found
slaves of lust.

We later find clearer evidence of this in the Apostolic Constitutions that Christians were in the business of gathering funds to set free slaves. Ignatius is saying that slaves should not expect they are owed such, but the slaves are not to be despised.

In fact, on page 298 of Pagans and Christians, Robin Lane Fox says

“Christian masters were not specially encouraged to set a slave free, although Christians were most numerous in the setting of urban households where freeing was most frequent: our pagan evidence for the practice is overwhelmingly evidence for the freeing of slaves in urban and domestic service…Among Christians, we know that the freeing of slaves was performed in church in the presence of the bishop: early laws from Constantine, after his conversion, permit this as an existing practice.”

We can simply wonder if Shermer has been looking at history or not. Perhaps if he does, he will realize that his so-called Enlightement morality is simply stealing what the Christians had all along and proclaiming it as his own.

I suppose Enlightenment morality does justify stealing then.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

When Shame Dies

January 19, 2015

Is anything wrong in our culture besides saying that something is wrong? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Many of you are quite likely fathers of daughters and so when I present an article called “What It’s Like To Date Your Dad“, you could be thinking, “I encourage fathers and daughters to have date nights. It’s one of the best ways I find out what’s going on in the life of my daughter, find out about the boys in her life, get to know her as a person, and just have some real bonding time together.” God bless you if that’s you. You’re being a good father.

But that is not what the article is talking about, unless you mean your date nights with your daughter end with the two of you making out in the bedroom together.

Unfortunately, this is what has happened. The girl in the article describes meeting her long lost father who had been missing from her life for years and feeling sexual attraction to him. Apparently, it was mutual. She describes meeting him and then within five days she lost her virginity to him. Note that this happened in the house of his girlfriend who he was living with at the time. (By the way women, if a man is willing to leave another woman because he thinks you’re better, be cautious. Who’s to say he won’t do the same to you when he finds someone he thinks is better?)

Was this a one-time thing? Nope. The girl now says that they are engaged and that they will get married and that they plan to have kids.

And this is also being defended. You can find many comments that do say that this is sick and this guy should go to jail since the girl is a minor. But then, there are others who are saying “Well who are we to judge?” and “As long as they’re happy that’s what matters.” While some of this goes into the marriage equality debate, it’s important to remember that when this whole thing started, we were told there was no slippery slope at all.

I think it’s conclusive now that that statement was wrong. We are sliding down that slope. People are defending a father having sex with his own daughter. Why?

I am convinced the reason is that they have no choice.

Sex has been treated like a deity in our culture. In a way, I understand it. If you remove God, then in all honesty, sex is the most transcendent experience that you have normally. It is radical and earthshaking and totally transforms your view of the other person. The next closest thing, and I cannot speak from experience on this one, could be drug usage. In any case, people are searching for the transcendent.

Let’s be clear also. We are a pleasure loving society. Of course, I am not anti-pleasure, but I am opposed to assuming our pleasures are the highest good. (This is not to disagree with someone like John Piper’s Christian Hedonism. I disagree with Piper in other areas, but I think he’s correct on this one.) There is no doubt of course that sex brings with it a great deal of pleasure and for many, it could be the highest pleasure. (And as far as the pleasures of the body go, yes. This one is right at the top. There is no comparison.)

So when we start talking about our society’s obsession with sex, let’s be clear right at the start. It makes sense. Since men so often think about sex, let’s note that those of us who are Christian men could be said to be just as much obsessed. Even when times come that we are not thinking about sex, it is always on the back burner and it can be brought up to our mind again immediately.

I remember the Christmas when my parents got me my first car. What did I want to do immediately? I was driving to see all my friends to show it off. I had my own set of wheels and it was a taste of freedom and I was looking forward to going everywhere I could, but I had to make sure everyone knew exactly how much I was going to be enjoying the freedom and experience I had.

Our society has done the same with sex.

When we thought we had liberated it, we wanted to show it everywhere. In the past, all you needed to see in a movie was a man and a woman going into a room and seeing the door close and perhaps hearing a click of a lock. You didn’t need to see what was going on. It was known. We can all be sure that our imaginations work well enough to supply the details. This is also why I tell men to wait until marriage to have sex as your view of women will also change. It’s very easy to imagine a relationship with a fully-clothed woman.  This is why myself and many other Christian men have to do the look away or the sky look when we’re out in public and see other women.

How much harder is it when you can so easily see them taking their clothes off right in front of you? Modern media has made that possible. Sexual relationships outside of marriage are seen as the norm and common. Of course, we just have to ask who are we to judge? As long as people are happy, what right do we really have to intrude? Are we going to be seen as prudes?

Now as I’ve said, we should not be prudes. None of us should be anti-sex. What we are really for is sex in the right place and in the right context. Put it right there and Christians should agree that it’s absolutely wonderful and a gift from God. Put it in the wrong spot and it’s just like nuclear energy. It’s fine when used properly and directed toward a proper purpose in the proper context, but get it wrong and you get Chernobyl.

A few months ago, one of my friends put up a status on Facebook saying our culture’s problem is we think way too much about sex. I argued that was the exact opposite of our problem. We do everything but think about sex truly. We have thoughts of it of course, but think about it? We do it. We dream about it. We fantasize about it. We do everything but really think about the act itself. It’s become more of a reflex than anything else.

If you don’t think but just say “If it feels good, do it” and don’t really see a purpose to sex, then in the end, how can you say someone is misusing sex? The only way to misuse it is if you think there is a proper use of it. Remove the proper use and there is no misuse. What becomes allowable at that point? Anything at all. Why is this trumpeted everywhere? Because we have to have acceptance. Without acceptance, all that is left is shame.

And that ultimately is the problem in our culture. We are becoming a culture without shame.

Shame in itself can be seen as a bad thing. No one likes to experience shame. Note I am not talking about guilt. Guilt is the internal feeling that you have done something wrong. Shame is the external awareness that your actions are not accepted by society and that you internally notice their condemnation. If society is not condemning, there is no reason to hide, so do what you want.

Ultimately, when we sear our morality this much, we actually cheapen ourselves and the world around us. What does it say about a woman who’s willing to take her clothes off for just anyone whatsoever? It doesn’t speak of a confident woman. It speaks of a woman who just sees herself as a body and of her body as the highest good she has to offer. Ultimately, it speaks of a woman who is treating herself in a cheap way.

The Christian ethic here is different. Here, the woman is told to say that she is a temple and in fact a temple of the Holy Spirit, which means she is to be honored above all. You don’t get to enter that temple cheaply. The right to come into that temple comes with a price. You must be in covenant with the person themselves in order to have a right to go into their temple. What is the price the woman charges? Your whole life. Until death do you part, you are hers and hers alone and she is yours and yours alone. You are to be faithful to her and be to only her and only then are you granted the right to enter the temple.

That we look on this as bizarre and look on the other as common tells me our society does not know what shame is really any more. As said, shame normally has a bad side to it in that no one wants to experience it, but when we do, it can be an indication that we are actually doing something wrong. If we do not have shame, then we are just like a person with CIPA who is incapable of feeling pain. It might sound nice to not be able to feel pain at first, until you realize how much not feeling pain can cause you trouble. Pain is really a gift in that case. Without being able to experience pain, we would have far more suffering in this life.

If there is no shame, then we will not be able to say anyone is doing anything wrong. We might be able to say we find it personally gross, but can we say it is wrong. “Oh I would not want to have a sexual relationship with my father, but can I really say what they are doing is wrong?” In fact, the only thing that is said to be wrong today it looks like is to say that anything is wrong.

But if some things are wrong, then silencing that warning is not helping us. It’s hurting.

If we as a society defend this, then we have to ask really where will it end? We can say that some things today are unthinkable. That’s what we would have said about redefining marriage thirty years ago. Today, it’s becoming more and more common. How many times do you see the homosexual on the TV show being seen as a celebrated figure? Even if you think the belief is wrong that homosexuality is wrong, there can be no doubt that society had a strong stance against this in the past and it would have been seen as unthinkable for many.

We have a precedent for where this is going and that there are people who are willing to defend a father sleeping with his daughter is ample demonstration of that today.

On the other hand, while society has no shame, the tragedy for the church is that we do have shame. We act like sex is something shameful to talk about. It’s not. God talks about it a lot in Scripture. Someone once told me years ago says that God talks about sex all the time because He knows that we think about it all the time. Some might object “Well why do Christians have to seem to put their noses in everyone’s bedroom and saying what they think is wrong?”

It’s not that we’re putting our noses in your bedrooms. In fact, I don’t know any Christians who are for being the sex police as it were and monitoring what goes on in bedrooms. It’s that what is going on in your bedrooms is being thrust in our face every day and when we dare say anything about it, we are immediately told that we are just talking about it too much. We’ve reached a point where a Christian cannot really have a discussion about the issue. We have to start out saying “I’m not a homophobe,” or “I don’t hate homosexuals” or something of that sort. Why? Because the “tolerant” opposition has said that if you disagree, you must be a hater or something of that sort.

For all the talk on tolerance, you’d think this Gospel that was preached would be practiced some.

Christians sadly then end up giving just a negative message on sex. We need to give a positive message, kind of like the kind I said earlier in this post. We need to celebrate and uphold sex. It has been said that one problem in our culture is that unmarried people are having too much sex and married people aren’t having enough. Why should the society outside of the church think that the church has no problem with sex if we seem to have such a negative view of it?

Too often, our messages have in fact been just that. Negative. There is a time and a place for the don’ts, but there is a place for the positive and we must give the positive. I can still think of years ago as a college student being in a church service and hearing a pastor speak to teens who had just done the Silver Ring Thing. He was telling them if they have sex before marriage, that will be for selfish reasons. Okay. I can agree with that. Fine. So what were the reasons to not have sex before marriage?

Think of the guilt that you’ll feel. Think of how embarrassed you’ll be on your wedding day. Think of the possibility that you could get pregnant or you could get an STD.

And as I was listening I was thinking “Those sound like selfish reasons to me too.”

Never seemed to occur to say “This is wrong. It’s wrong because God made sex and here’s how He made it to be used and why and here are the benefits when you use it this way.”

In fact, during this sermon I was getting bored.

Note to all pastors reading this. If you are preaching a sermon on sex, and your audience is getting bored, especially college age guys, you are doing something wrong. (In fact, we could say at this point if you preach on Christ and your audience is not keeping interest, you are doing something wrong.)

If we do not get our message out about what sex is, our youth will only hear one message and that message will far overwhelm ours. Think back to when you were dating. If all you had when you were alone with your boyfriend/girlfriend at the time consisted of nothing more than a few verses from Paul, do you really think that those alone would have overpowered your hormones at the time? Those of us who are married today know well that in the proper context it’s still extremely difficult to override our hormones if we have to and those hormones can often provide some darn good justification for something we want.

We need to get our positive message out and we need to celebrate it. Yes. What goes on in our bedrooms is a private matter, but the subject matter of our bedrooms should be discussed. Churches need to have messages on sex on a regular basis. Why? Because the people in your congregation are thinking about it on a regular basis.

If you lived in Salt Lake City and were the pastor of a Christian church, you would need to have messages addressing Mormonism regularly because your congregation sees it regularly. If you lived in Egypt in the same situation, you would need to talk about Islam. If you were an Israeli pastor in Israel, you’d talk about Judaism. Well in America, the great deity that is being talked about is sex, and we need to talk about it.

As it stands, our culture not only looks at illicit sex with approval, but broadcasts it. This girl in the article I linked to earlier has her fifteen minutes of fame today. Why? She is sleeping with her father. These kinds of stories are being broadcast everywhere. Just look at the magazine rack in the grocery store. This woman in the story is being interviewed as if this is a real deep human interest and we all want to know what it’s like to be sleeping with your Dad.

How do we reverse the trend where sexual stances that should be shamed are celebrated and sexual stances that should be celebrated are shamed?

For one thing, we have to drop out of this mode of “It’s not for me to judge.” Of course it is. Jesus did say judge not, but He spoke of hypocritical judging. Not all judging. How else are you supposed to know who the pigs and dogs are that He spoke about? If you have enough information to make a judgment, then you need to make a judgment. Believe it or not, how someone feels is not the most important thing in the universe. Whether they’re doing something right or wrong is more important.

It’s also because of our individualism. The self-esteem movement has told us that how we think about ourselves is most important, but in reality, I don’t think any of us have fully bought into that myth. Why? Because we are all still seeking everyone else’s approval. But if we hold to a strong individualism, then you dare not speak out against what the individual does. What right do you have to speak against their feelings after all?

Reality is that we can reverse the trend and the best way the church can do this is simply to be the church. We must speak where Jesus would speak and be silent where He would be silent. Jesus had the greatest of love for sinners, but He never once hesitated to call sin sin. Many of us consider the story of the woman caught in adultery, but even then while Jesus did not condemn her, He did say “Go and sin no more.” (I do not think the story was part of the writing of John, but I do think that it is a true story that found its way into the copies of John.) Jesus called the action sin still. You can have utter hatred of sin, as Jesus did, and total love of sinners, as Jesus did.

We should not be ashamed of our stance on sex and we should in fact celebrate sex, while making it clear that we find what the world does shameful. When Duck Dynasty had its situation with people caling A&E and disconnecting their cable, what saddened me most afterwards was how Christians stopped their actions after their show was restored. Christians were willing to fight for a TV show, their entertainment, but they were not willing to keep going for marriage.

Remember church. We can win battles. We often do. We just don’t usually show up.

Go look at the above story again. Really look at it. A girl is sleeping with her father. If she has a boy, he will be her son/brother and if she has a girl she will be her daughter/sister. The father will always be a father/grandfather. The reason she is able to do this so confidently in society is she sure she will be accepted.

How far is this going to go?

As far as we let it.

How far are you willing to let it go?

If we do not speak today,will there be anyone to speak in the future?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 1/17/2015: Peter D. Williams

January 15, 2015

What’s coming up on this Saturday’s episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

We’re going to be continuing our look at abortion as expected this Saturday. Normally, we in the West in America tend to think about what has happened here in America. We are busy thinking about Roe V. Wade. This is important, but we are not the only country in the world. What is going on in another country? For that, we will have a discussion with someone who is across the pond, and that will be Peter D. Williams in the United Kingdom.

Peter D. Williams

Who is he? According to his bio:

Peter D. Williams is Executive Officer for Right To Life, the UK’s premier right-to-life charity and campaigning group. Peter works closely with the All-Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group (the legislators in the UK Parliament who campaign for the right to life), and engages in public debates in print and media for the dignity of all human beings.

A former atheist, who ‘reverted’ to Catholic Christianity, via a period of dissenting from the Church’s teachings during which he was also a radical supporter of legalised abortion, Peter also ‘moon-lights’ as a Catholic Christian apologist, arguing the case for the Gospel and the Church in the British media. He lives and works around London.

Admittedly, my main interaction with England happens to be listening to the Unbelievable? podcast, to which Peter D. Williams has been a fascinating guest to have on. They have had a number of shows on the topic of abortion, but I have yet to really interact with someone over there on the topic and find out what is really going on in the U.K. with abortion so like many of you, I will be learning as much as I can during this show. (That is a benefit of doing a show like this. It’s not just old hat stuff being talked about. It is a learning experience all throughout.)

We have the event of Roe V. Wade over here in America that is a landmark decision that changed abortion forever. Does the U.K. have anything similar? What is the general belief about abortion in the U.K.? Since the U.K. has a more nationalized system of health care, how does that affect the practice of abortion? Are teenagers allowed to get abortions without the knowledge or consent of their parents as can happen over here? What does opposition to abortion look like in the U.K.?

And also, we are told the U.K. is in a post-Christian climate. How does this affect the national attitude toward abortion? Does it say anything about where America could be heading? Do we have something valuable that we need to learn from those people who live across the pond from us?

I hope you’ll be watching your ITunes feed next week for this episode. Abortion is going to be our focus all month long on the Deeper Waters Podcast and I am sure Peter D. Williams will be a fascinating person to have on the show to talk about this important topic.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

This Is A Man’s World

November 18, 2014

What goes on in the life of men? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

I’m a member of a number of groups on Facebook. One is the Christian Apologetics Alliance whose main web page can be found here. The other group is a group I will not link to, but it is one for Christian men who are married, engaged, dating, or just really hoping to be married someday so we can learn how to love our wives as Christ loved the church.

I think my writing here is important for both groups. For the apologetics aspect, part of good argumentation is not just believing right, but living right, though that living starts with right beliefs, and it certainly can be difficult in our day and age to live right in this world, particularly in a period of great sexual license.

As blog readers know, I am writing this from a perspective of a Christian man, though it could just as well apply to anyone who happens to think ideas included in the Christian ethic, such as sexual fidelity within marriage and reserving sex for marriage, are good ideas worthy to be upheld. My method of handling this could be different from yours, but we agree on the idea.

What I will be describing is what it’s like for a man in this world. Some female readers could say “That’s the male side, but you have no idea what a female side is like and how temptation is for us!” That’s true. That’s why I’m not covering that side, although I would say I think I have a good idea on how the world views women and unfortunately, women can often allow themselves to be treated that way.

At the start, it’s no secret that men think about sex and think about it a lot. Does that mean we’re always actively focused on it? No. But it is always on the backburner. It is always looming there in the shadows and most anything can bring it out again immediately. Many women don’t really have a problem with doing something to attract a man or turn a man on. It’s usually pretty simple.

And that puts men in a tough situation.

In our world, there are women all around us who are wanting to do just that. Not only that, there are women who are not wanting to do that, but inevitably do so, and that’s not even just women who dress in a way that’s necessarily drawing. It could be that they just possess enough natural beauty on their own.

One illustration I’ve told men about what it is like in our world is a time that I was walking in a mall by myself. Heading towards me on my left was a female. I don’t mean she was heading towards me as in directly aiming at me, but was going my way. In order to avoid any temptation, I decided I’d to the look away that most men know about. I’ll just look to my right instead.

Which happened to be where Victoria’s Secret was….

And that’s the kind of situation a man can find himself in.

In a man’s world, when a man sees a woman, it’s quite difficult to not notice immediately that she’s a woman. We do have to work on making sure our thoughts do not wander where they shouldn’t. It is the natural male tendency I think sadly to objectify women in some way and treat them as just bodies. That’s part of the nature of the flesh and something we have to work on, and that’s something also that marriage helps you work on when done right.

It can be even more difficult especially in the way women are used in advertising. Sex sells. Many women know it and advertisers know it.

To go back to being at the mall, I was there again last Sunday. I’m looking at various tables that have been set up in an open area and there is one I pass for a spa. Perhaps I can look into something that my Mrs. might really appreciate. I think my wife is a beautiful woman, but hey, we guys all know that a lady loves to get something like a makeover.

Instead, I find a picture of a girl lying in an alluring pose and wearing a top that was leaving very very little to imagination.

You know what? We men who wish to be faithful to our wives? We hate to see something like that. We really do. We want our minds to be in only one place, but in our culture, we are constantly presented with challenges. Again, I am not denying women can face similar challenges, but this is a perspective from men.

Marriage really helps a man out in this area who is someone who burns. Still, there can also be other temptations. I tell men who are single that once you get married and you go on your honeymoon with your wife, everything changes. You never look at anything else the same way again. The way you think and align your priorities will change drastically. If you’re a man reading this and you’re single and waiting for marriage, don’t say you understand. You don’t.

Oh there are several nice things you can do before you marry. which I see as steps 1-8 on the twelve steps of intimacy. My wife and I did kiss on our first date. In fact, since I was visiting her at her parents house, we have a funny story that we were in the living room on the couch watching Beauty and the Beast. This room was adjacent to the kitchen. Her parents and her brother’s bedroom was upstairs.

We have been told that her brother was wanting to come down and go into the kitchen and get a snack. Her parents told her “Nick and Allie are downstairs on the couch and they’re cuddling. You might not want to go down there.” Of course, we weren’t doing anything immoral. Had we been, her parents would have been taking care of the problem. We can say we never saw her brother come down the whole night.

When we drove together, I would drive with one hand and hold her hand with the other. We would walk arm in arm wherever we went. If we pulled up to a red light, it was a good chance to kiss each other some more before the light turned green. In fact, I can safely say it was a time in my life when I was very thankful for red lights and bad traffic.

I encourage young men to enjoy that when they can before marriage instead of having the idea of the first kiss at the altar. We are physical creatures and we should not deny the physical entirely. Besides, I think that can be a difficult switch especially for the women to make. Just save steps 9 through 12 for the wedding.

You see, as good as all those physical pleasures are, and they certainly are, nothing beats what comes on the wedding night and that changes everything. Some women can think that a man could have a hard time adjusting and going from this not being allowed to this suddenly being allowed.

I really don’t think that’s a problem for men.

But also, this opens us up for temptation. Again, it’s not the fault of our wives! It’s the fault of our sinful nature! Once you have this great experience, a man can be tempted to wonder what else he’s missing elsewhere. Women can be the great unknown for us and the sexual union with the woman is in many ways, the ultimate validation of our masculinity for us. Women. There is no louder way for you to tell your man that he is your man than this.

And this sadly is why pornography is such a draw for men.

Again, I know there are women who struggle with pornography, but I’m talking about the men. For the man, pornography can give the feeling of being a man without the work of being a man. You don’t have to work to approach a real woman and learn how to romance and love her and sacrifice for her. Nope. You have a woman who is willing to give you everything and demand no effort on your part other than just showing up.

And yes, many a man will do that just for the sensation of masculinity that he gets. How deep does the desire for sex run with a man? For a humorous look, consider this clip from Steve Harvey’s edition of the Family Feud. Something to consider. Every woman who is asked gets it wrong! Every time a man is asked without coaching from the women, he gets it right.

When the women are asked, they say what they would like to see the man do such as cook and clean. When the men are asked, they say to the extent of what this means to them. Now do I mean to say a loving husband will go out and kill a man just to get sex? No. What I mean is that a man will use such strong language because the desire is that strong.

And women, please realize this. Your man most often desperately wants to be the man for you. He wants to get to adore you and he wants to be yours exclusively. It is hard in a man’s world where many a woman can be locked into the visual memory banks forever.

But to get back to the men, I suspect one reason many struggle with pornography who are married can also be a lack of being grateful. I have been thinking about this more and more lately. (Not because I struggle with internet porn. I don’t.) I think it’s a privilege I have that I get to kiss my wife. I get to drive everywhere I go with her. I get to sleep in the same bed with her every night. Throughout the day, I can pull her close and just hold her. I can run my fingers through her hair. I can do so much. Note I haven’t even included sex yet! All of these things are things I am immensely grateful for!

And these are things to give thanks for in themselves. Yet when it comes to sexuality, that is something incredible to give thanks for. If your wife is faithful, she is sharing something that she shares only with you. She is doing something for you that she doesn’t do for anyone else. You also get the privilege of getting to love her in a way no one else does. She loves you in a way that no one else does.

Give thanks. Follow Proverbs 5. Draw water from your own well. Why be enchanted by another? God gave you a good gift. Enjoy it and celebrate it.

For the women, please understand how important this is. Now some of you might think “Well I can show a bit more affection to him when he starts helping me around the house.”

You know, he should do his part to help you. That’s absolutely right.

But to make a statement like that is really selfish. Marriage is about giving 100% of yourself to the other and there’s no clause in Scripture that says “You are exempted from this if your spouse does not give 100%.” In fact, I would challenge you in this. If you are willing to give to your husband and let him know he’s your man, then when you say “Sweetie. Could you please vacuum for me today?”, he’ll be running to get the vacuum.

Also, sometimes, some women, and even some men, can struggle in this area due to past situations. (Yes. There are men who struggle) Please do get counseling. Your husband will thank you for it if you do.

So have I been too hard on the women with that statement about being selfish?

Then let’s turn it on the men.

Some of you might say “I’d help out around the house if she’d show me a bit more affection!”

You’re being just as selfish.

In fact, your position could be even worse. You’re meant to lead your household biblically. Start being a leader. Part of that is being loving and giving. After all, your role model is Christ. Do you think Christ stops showing love to His church even when His church isn’t loving Him back? He doesn’t. Then you have no excuse. You are to go and do what you can to help your wife out and by the way, when you start doing this, you might find she’s also more willing to open up. Even if she isn’t, you are required to give 100% and you have no exemption clause.

But women, if this role is met in a man’s life, you can be guaranteed you will have a happy happy hubby.

But men, regardless of what happens, it is up to you to manage your thought life. There is no justification for pornography. None. Some of you can think it might spice up your marriage. It won’t. The best way to increase your love for your wife is to do just that. Love her. No other woman belongs in your bedroom, not even a virtual one. Make it your aim that all your dreams and fantasies and such are about your wife.

If you stray men, you can say others contributed perhaps to what you went through, but the ultimate blame comes with you. Sure. That other woman shouldn’t have tempted you to have an affair, but it is your fault if you are the one who does it. You do not accidentally have an affair. It is a decision on your part to break the vows that you made to your wife. If you are watching pornography, you are having a virtual affair. You need to repent and make it right. If that includes getting a filter on your computer such as one from XXXChurch, then do it. If that means counseling, do it. After your relationship with God, your marriage is the most important relationship you have.

Life in a man’s world is not easy. Again, I am not commenting on it in a woman’s world. I can’t speak to that. I am just saying what it is like for the men, at least from my perspective.

But life like this is livable and faithfulness is possible. It will start with faithfulness to Christ. Be faithful to Him, and you will be faithful to your wife as well. That I think applies to women as well. If you are being faithful to Christ, you will be faithful to your husband. Also, if any of you are unfaithful to the other, you are not being faithful to Christ.

Please take that seriously and remember, I am one often convicting myself trying to remind myself how serious I need to take matters too.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

A Response to Samantha Pugsley

November 7, 2014

Is it a bad idea to wait until your wedding night? Let’s dive into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I had an article brought to my attention a couple of days ago by a Samantha Pugsley who said she waited until her wedding night for sex and regretted it.

For some of us reading the article, it was hard to tell if it was serious or not. However, for all intents and purposes, I am going to be treating it like it really is a serious article and be telling where I think Samantha went wrong and why it is that the path she has chosen today is still the incorrect one.

“Believing that true love waits, I make a commitment to God, myself, my family, my friends, my future mate and my future children to be sexually abstinent from this day until the day I enter a biblical marriage relationship. As well as abstaining from sexual thoughts, sexual touching, pornography, and actions that are known to lead to sexual arousal.”

To which I say to an extent, good luck with that. Not saying that about the desire to make a commitment to God and keep yourself sexually pure. That’s all well and good. Yet there were extremes here. Avoid pornography. Yes. That’s not an extreme. Avoid any sexual thoughts or anything leading to sexual arousal?

Good luck with that one.

Certainly speaking for men, if we were to avoid everything that would arouse us, we’d probably have to hole up and be hermits and even then, I am sure we could find something. Sex is something inescapable in our culture, and it’s not just in a culture like ours that’s rather loose with sexual morality. Sex is just everywhere no matter where you go.

You see, wherever you go, you’ll find people. Those people, believe it or not, are sexual beings. Whether they’re virgins or not, they’re all either male or female. Why are all of them living and breathing today? Because at one point in time, a man and a woman came together in sexual union and that person that you see is the result of that union.

And avoid sexual thoughts? That’s too much of a legalism for anyone. You are going to think sexually. It’s not necessarily a wrong thing. How you deal with it could be, but you are made to think sexually. When you are dating someone also, you will be thinking sexually. You’ll be thinking about when you can finally get to see all that that person has to give you and enjoy the gift of intimacy with them. That’s normal.

So right at the start, Pugsley has taken an extreme stance and one that I don’t think any Christian should take. It’s part of the idea too many Christians have that sex is something dirty. Of course, in the same breath that they’re told that it’s dirty, they’re also told that they should save it for someone they love.

Pugsley goes on to tell about how she made her oath at ten, not even knowing what sex is, which tells me we need to do a better job with teaching our youth about sexuality early on. No. I’m not saying teach your 3 year-old about the birds and the bees. I am saying teach them some about how their body works and how they should respect it as well as the bodies of others.

The church taught me that sex was for married people. Extramarital sex was sinful and dirty and I would go to Hell if I did it. I learned that as a girl, I had a responsibility to my future husband to remain pure for him. It was entirely possible that my future husband wouldn’t remain pure for me, because he didn’t have that same responsibility, according to the Bible. And of course, because I was a Christian, I would forgive him for his past transgressions and fully give myself to him, body and soul.

Now naturally, I agree with the first part that sex is for married people. I have a number of friends who are single and who I think plan to marry some day and I do look forward to when they can experience this gift. Yet I wonder what kind of church it is that teaches you will go to hell for sex outside of marriage but that seems to apply only if you’re a female. Men have to stay pure also. Of course, there should be forgiveness if one person messed up before marriage, but both men and women should seek to keep themselves pure.

Also, sex outside of marriage is not the unforgivable sin. Making it a lifestyle does indicate that you are not a Christian, per 1 Cor. 6, but there are couples who have made mistakes and some of them are happily married today after finding the grace in Christ that they need for what they have done.

Once I got married, it would be my duty to fulfill my husband’s sexual needs. I was told over and over again, so many times I lost count, that if I remained pure, my marriage would be blessed by God and if I didn’t that it would fall apart and end in tragic divorce.

It is certainly true that a wife is to meet her husband’s needs. 1 Cor. 7:1-5 makes this abundantly clear. What Pugsley was apparently not taught was the reverse. The husband is also supposed to meet the needs of the wife. Paul is certainly talking about sexual needs here, although he would certainly include other needs a husband was to provide. In fact, the only reason for withholding was to devote yourself to prayer mutually and then come together quickly due to lack of self-control. This is a good word of wisdom to too many women in marriages who might be tempted to use sex as a weapon. If your husband doesn’t do what you want, then punish him by withholding sex! Sex is supposed to be an act of love. You are never to use it as a weapon. The same goes for husbands. If your wife is someone who really really wants a lot of sex (And if this is you, I can’t help but think that I agree with Mark Gungor when he said “On behalf of all men, I want to say ‘We hate you.’ “)  then you don’t use sex as a weapon on her either. The marriage bed is to be a place of peace and safety. It is not to be a weapon.

For more than a decade, I wore my virginity like a badge of honor. My church encouraged me to do so, saying my testimony would inspire other young girls to follow suit. If the topic ever came up in conversation, I was happy to let people know that I had taken a pledge of purity.

Believe it or not, this is problematic. It is good to be a virgin, but you are not a virgin for the sake of virginity. I have written on virginity elsewhere. As a married man, I am obviously no longer a virgin. I am pleased to no longer be one. But at the same time, I do think it is honorable if you are a virgin while unmarried because you want to save yourself for marriage. If you plan to never marry, then you must take lifelong celibacy and do so for a good that you consider to be greater.

What I would want to ask Pugsley is if she was seeing virginity as an end in itself. Virginity is not a goal. Virginity is a pathway to a goal. That goal is ultimately holiness. If you plan to marry, it is for saving yourself for marriage so you can enjoy sexual union with your spouse. If it is not your plan to marry, then it is for something greater, such as devotion to the Kingdom of God as in 1 Cor. 7.

It became my entire identity by the time I hit my teen years. When I met my then boyfriend-now husband, I told him right away that I was saving myself for marriage and he was fine with that because it was my body, my choice and he loved me.

Once again, I see the extreme. Virginity is not meant to be your identity. Christ is meant to be your identity. Still, I must say the man she was dating at least had the right idea. He respected her choice. I have also written on this elsewhere. Women need to realize they set the bar for how much they are worth as a woman and anyone who sets the price lower is your enemy essentially. They are cheapening not just themselves, but you and all other women.

We were together for six years before we got married. Any time we did anything remotely sexual, guilt overwhelmed me. I wondered where the line was because I was terrified to cross it. Was he allowed to touch my breasts? Could we look at each other naked? I didn’t know what was considered sexual enough to condemn my future marriage and send me straight to Hell.

At the start, I’m wondering why a six year wait. Some people like to wait for an education to be finished or to start a career, but if you’re someone who is burning, and it sure seems like they were, go ahead and get married. As readers of this blog know, my wife and I met and married in less than a year. We knew where we were going and we knew it quick. I have even been told that my roommate told a mutual friend when I got home from the first visit to meet Allie that they needed to start getting set to book a wedding chapel.

As for what would send you straight to Hell and condemn your future marriage, nothing. God can forgive and repair all things in your marriage. He can repair any damage that you do beforehand. You have to submit and that can be painful and it is a process if it is done, but it is still doable. I use the list of the 12 steps of intimacy and encourage dating couples to not go beyond #8. We never did.

An unhealthy mixture of pride, fear, and guilt helped me keep my pledge until we got married. In the weeks before our wedding, I often got congratulated on keeping my virginity for so long. The comments ranged from curious (how in the world did you manage?) to downright disgusting (I bet you’re going to have one busy wedding night!). I let them place me on the pedestal as their virginal, perfect-Christian-girl mascot.

Pugsley is certainly right that it was an unhealthy mixture. If virginity was all about her, she had a problem. I do wonder about the idea she has of downright disgusting remarks. What is disgusting about hearing you’ll have a busy wedding night?

When my wife and I got married, we had several members of TheologyWeb, where I debated and still do debate, come to our wedding. I understand that after the wedding, they all got together for a little mini-convention. I have often wondered what was said at that convention, but considering they were there for our wedding and there were guys present at the table, and some of them were married, I am sure some jokes about sex were flying around.

I would expect nothing less.

Sex is not a topic we should be hesitant to speak about. The fact that we are is a problem. It’s all God’s idea. It’s His beautiful creation and if you take the Bible seriously, you must admit that God has an awful lot to say in there about sex! He even has one whole book devoted to sex! Now I know we could say “It’s a beautiful allegory about God and Israel or Christ and the church.” Yeah yeah yeah. Let’s just say that upfront it’s a poem about sex and why not? God celebrates it. So should we!

Now of course, some comments can be crude and many of us know when they are, but not all of them are. We usually know when we have crossed that line. I remember years ago being in an AOL chat room where one lady said she was signing off because her husband was going to bed and was motioning that he’d like her to come up with him with a bunch of “ooooooooooooh”s following. Yeah. We all knew what was going on. It wasn’t crude. It was a knowing delight in fact.

I also have a good friend who I used to regularly tease her when she’d talk about having plans with her husband one time and she’d just say to me “Go and watch your Smallville DVDs.” In other words, get your mind elsewhere. It was a joke for us that we always liked to do. Now that I’m married, if she says something to me, I’ll say “Go watch your Babylon Five DVDs.”

In fact, we should be talking about sex regularly, not just in the humorous sense, but in the accountability sense. On Facebook, for instance, I have a group for Christian men to help us learn how to be better husbands to our wives and prepare those who aren’t married to learn how to better husbands in the future. We need to hold each other accountable sexually.

As we move on, Pugsley tells us some about her wedding night. There is nothing really explicit here, but then we get this.

Sex hurt. I knew it would. Everyone told me it would be uncomfortable the first time. What they didn’t tell me is that I would be back in the bathroom afterward, crying quietly for reasons I didn’t yet comprehend. They didn’t tell me that I’d be on my honeymoon, crying again, because sex felt dirty and wrong and sinful even though I was married and it was supposed to be okay now.

For a woman, I am given to understand this is certainly true. The first time will be difficult. This is one area we need to clear up. In some ways, Hollywood has the right message. Hollywood wants to show us sex as fun and glamorous and exciting. They’re right! We can complain that sex is all Hollywood seems to think about, but they’re just reflecting us. It’s on our minds constantly.

Unfortunately, Hollywood doesn’t pain other realities as well. I agree with Kevin Leman in his book Sheet Music that your first time is not likely to send you to the moon and back. That’s okay. You’re just getting started. The first time will be awkward, but then so will the first time you try to play a violin or ride a bicycle or do public speaking. You’re not likely to be an expert on the first time. You’re doing something you’ve never done before with no experience beforehand and add in that you and your spouse are both going to be really excited but also really nervous.

What can be done about this? First off, I cannot stress enough that women should be getting an examination from their gynecologist beforehand, preferably a few months beforehand, and be doing anything the doctor recommends. We men generally have things different. We don’t have the pain aspect, but I encourage men to find a man you can trust and talk with them before the wedding. I had a friend who helped me prepare regularly months before the wedding and at least one other man came to my apartment personally when it was just me there to talk with me about sex and what I could expect. I also find it helpful if this isn’t a close family member because that’s awkward, or even a future family member, such as your future father-in-law. I have in fact offered myself to men I know who are about to get married to be someone who will talk to them frankly from my experience.

And especially for men, take your time. Move as slowly as you can. You’ve waited for this and there’s no time limit. It’s a beautiful moment so do all you can to really make it last. Do you want to take a time like this and just get it over with as soon as you can, or do you want to take it and make it a pleasant memory?

And for both of you, try to get in a good meal beforehand together. It can be tempting to go straight from the wedding to the hotel. Try to get something to eat first. If you have to, just order a pizza somewhere and have it delivered so that you can have a good meal together. You might even want to consider getting a couple of protein bars.

Finally, get a good Christian guide. I already mentioned Sheet Music but there are others out there you can use such as Intended for Pleasure and A Celebration of Sex for Newlyweds. Be prepared for what you are doing. Listen to trusted mentors who have been there before you.

Now to get back to Pugsley, Pugsley writes about how she suddenly felt dirty, and this is a direct response to what had happened. She had treated sex as something dirty and that lightswitch cannot be flipped on and off instantly. You handle it right and you have no problem however flipping that switch. I always held sex was beautiful and when I got married and knew that I could to this freely now, that switch was extremely easy to flip.

Before we get to the next part, let’s look also at the point that I said Hollywood has right. The problem is Hollywood has the wrong context. The church meanwhile gives the right context, a marital relationship. They just often give the wrong message. That’s the one that sex is dirty. We need to outdo the passion we see in Hollywood and do so in the right context of Christian marriage.

When we got home, I couldn’t look anyone in the eye. Everyone knew my virginity was gone. My parents, my church, my friends, my co-workers. They all knew I was soiled and tarnished. I wasn’t special anymore. My virginity had become such an essential part of my personality that I didn’t know who I was without it.

And this again is part of the problem. I had no problem coming home after our wedding and yeah, everyone knew what we were doing. So what? I expect them to know. I expect them to know that things are different now. I have a wife and I’m going to enjoy the company and joy that she provides me, and that includes sexually.

Pugsley apparently put virginity before holiness. I suspect she did not really have a full idea of sexuality from a Christian worldview which is a problem in our church. We usually give only negatives about sex to our youth. I remember being at a Silver Ring Thing service where the pastor said if you have sex before you marry, it will be for selfish reasons.

Okay. That’s fine.

Then he went on.

“Think about what you will say to your future spouse one day. Think about the shame and guilt you will feel. What if you get pregnant? What if you get an STD?”

Those could be real, but all the while I was thinking “Hmmm. Sounds to me like those are pretty selfish reasons as well.”

In fact, the more he went on, I found myself getting bored.

If you can talk about sex and leave a college guy getting bored, you are doing something wrong.

One of my friends on Facebook once said the problem in our culture is we think too much about sex. That’s not the problem. The problem is the opposite in fact! We don’t think enough about sex! We dream about it. We fantasize about it. We joke about it. We even just do it! We just don’t think about it. As a Christian, I find thinking about sex and seeing it as a revelation of God makes me hold it in awe even more.

It didn’t get better. I avoided undressing in front of my husband. I tried not to kiss him too often or too amorously so I wouldn’t lead him on. I dreaded bedtime. Maybe he’d want to have sex.

When he did, I obliged. I wanted nothing more than to make him happy because I loved him so much and because I’d been taught it was my duty to fulfill his needs. But I hated sex. Sometimes I cried myself to sleep because I wanted to like it, because it wasn’t fair. I had done everything right. I took the pledge and stayed true to it. Where was the blessed marriage I was promised?

Pugsley’s story is really common actually. If you treat sex as dirty, you will also tend to view yourself as dirty. Pugsley also is getting only one side of duty here. She is not an object just for sexual pleasure and unfortunately, that can happen even in marriage. A husband can too easily treat his wife as just an object and this is something all married men need to watch for.

I let it go on this way for almost two years before I broke down. I just couldn’t do it anymore. I told my husband everything. My feminist husband was horrified that I’d let him touch me when I didn’t want him to. He made me promise I’d never do anything I didn’t want to do ever again. We stopped having sex. He encouraged me to see a therapist and I did. It was the first step on a long journey to healing.

Let me say this. Kudos to this man! This man I think did exactly what was right! When he saw a problem, he told his wife to get the counseling she needed and in fact made it clear she did not ever need to be forced to give sex. For any husband who is in this situation, I cannot recommend enough Dawn Jones’s book. For a wife loving a man with the same struggle, there is a book by Cecil Murphey for you.

I don’t go to church anymore, nor am I religious. As I started to heal, I realized that I couldn’t figure out how to be both religious and sexual at the same time. I chose sex. Every single day is a battle to remember that my body belongs to me and not to the church of my childhood. I have to constantly remind myself that a pledge I took when I was only 10 doesn’t define who I am today. When I have sex with my husband, I make sure it’s because I have a sexual need and not because I feel I’m required to fulfill his desires.

Unfortunately, there are too many that will fit into this category. Imagine that you’re a nominal Christian and you go to church regularly, but you don’t really get into it. Then you discover sex and it seems like sex contradicts your Christianity. Are you going to be willing to give up sex for Christianity?

If you have a nominal Christianity, you’re fooling yourself if you think so. Pugsley unfortunately has the right idea to an extent. Sex can be because she wants to and she has a need to fulfill and she does so as an act of love. Of course, I think there are times a wife can go along with her husband even if she’s not feeling it then. Halfway through, that feeling could change.

Pugsley should realize many of us are devout Christians and have no trouble reconciling our Christianity with sex. I don’t even like to say that because there’s really nothing to reconcile! Sex is again God’s idea. It is His creation and the reason why it’s a totally awesome time is that He created it to be one!

I’m now thoroughly convinced that the entire concept of virginity is used to control female sexuality. If I could go back, I would not wait. I would have sex with my then-boyfriend-now-husband and I wouldn’t go to hell for it. We would have gotten married at a more appropriate age and I would have kept my sexuality to myself.

I find this quite a puzzle. After all, why would men invent a story that says they are to wait until marriage to sleep with a woman? How is that controlling female sexuality? If anything, the teaching controls male sexuality since this is something that men tend to struggle with a lot more than women do.

Unfortunately, I can’t go back but I can give you this message as a culmination of my experiences: If you want to wait to have sex until marriage make sure it’s because you want to. It’s your body; it belongs to you, not your church. Your sexuality is nobody’s business but yours.

And as one on the other end, I am very happy I waited. I am thrilled to know that Allie and I go through life only knowing each other as sexual lovers. We know that we alone have exclusive rights to each other and that will be the case until death does us part.

Unfortunately, Pugsley’s article really doesn’t present a full Christian view, and I suspect it’s because she only had the veneer of one. You do not find Scripture cited or see what role God plays in your relationship or see what the impact of the life of Christ is to have on your relationship.

Pugsley is a reminder to us that we need to do better in teaching about sexuality to the youth of the church today. Let’s try to do that.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

My Fear With Houston

October 27, 2014

Is there a reason the church isn’t having an impact in America? Let’s dive into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Many of us know about the story in Houston where pastors have been told to send in their sermons on homosexuality by the mayor. Thankfully, there has been a pushback to this and not just pastors in Houston, but pastors all over the world, even as far as Australia. It’s good to see members of the church sticking up for themselves finally, but I have a great fear about what’s going on.

What is that? Well back at the time of Chick-Fil-A Day, we had several people line up at Chick-Fil-A’s all across the country. That included me and my family. We all wanted to take our part. Chick-Fil-A set record sales that day and we sent a message to the people that many of us do believe still in traditional marriage or at least Chick-Fil-A’s freedom to hold the beliefs that they hold.

After this great victory, the church showed its further determination in the battle by….

Okay. They didn’t. The church went home the next day and did absolutely nothing with the momentum that they had just created. They went out and bought themselves chicken sandwiches. That was their duty at the time and with that done, they can finally get back to their comfortable lifestyles. The battle had been won after all.

Then we had the Phil Robertson situation. When Phil Robertson was suspended from Duck Dynasty, Christians immediately started cancelling their accounts with A&E and disconnecting their Cable. A Facebook page was set up instantly and it had a million likes on it quite quickly. Christians refused to back down and when the battle was won, Christians followed this up by….

Well, they did nothing again. They had their favorite TV show back and that was enough.

Of course, let’s not forget Suntrust. When Suntrust was found to have cancelled an account of two Christians who were opposed to homosexual behavior, Christians immediately went to their Facebook page to protest and started saying they were going to transfer their accounts over. Suntrust relented and the church continued in the battle by….

What a shock. Again, the church did nothing.

Now we’ll sit back and watch the news and see what is going on in our country and wonder “How did we get to this position?”

Brace yourselves. I have a suggestion.

Could it be we got where we are because the church has been more interested in its own comfort and what Christianity can do for them than it is for spreading the Kingdom of God? Biblically, we’re supposed to be the bride of Christ, yet what would we think of a bride who expected their husband to wait on them hand and foot, to do everything for them, and didn’t give anything in return.

And yet, what kind of bride are we here in America to Christ?

You see church, while we’ve been sitting around discussing how we feel about certain passages in the Bible and having concerts and pizza parties for our youth, the world has been changing all around us. While we’ve been having classes on how to be good parents (And there’s nothing wrong with that), many parents have been killing their own children in the womb. While we’ve been having classes on marriage enrichment (And there is nothing wrong with that), the culture of divorce has sprung upon us and pre-marital sex has become the norm. While we’ve been having classes offered at churches on self-defense (And there is nothing wrong with that), we’ve been neglecting spiritual and intellectual self-defense and our youth have gone off to college and apostasized.

The church can win battles. The problem is the church just doesn’t show up.

The other problem is that when we win a battle, we do nothing. Imagine a general in a war who spends all his time trying to win a spot on the battlefield that the enemy has taken. When he is successful and has the enemy on the run, he has his army sit back and do nothing more. Such a general would soon find himself replaced.

We’re in a culture war. There’s a little tip here that should be obvious. The only way you win wars is by fighting in them. Too many of us have taken the attitude as if we are to be gentle Jesus meek and mild. I’m not sure what NT these people are reading, but it’s not the one I read. Meek and mild people do not get crucified. They are not threats to anyone. At best, they are annoyances that the establishment will walk over.

Which is kind of the way the church is viewed today. You can do whatever you want to them. They won’t stand up. They won’t do anything about it. These same people would not dare try anything like this in a Muslim country. They know that Muslims would not sit back and take it. Now I’m certainly not advocating we use violent means like I think Muslims too often would to protest against what’s going on, but I am asking that we at least have the spine to stand up for ourselves.

Would you enter into a battle if you did not think you had at least a good chance of winning? Of course not. You want to be able to live or at least be healthy. So the question we have to ask is why are there so many people in this country who are willing to take on Christianity and the church and fight against them?

Answer: They’re sure they can win the battle.

Sad reality: They’re right.

They don’t have to be. Christians have shown they can win battles. The problem is we’re just not going out and fighting. We too often have the escapist mentality going on and think that this world just doesn’t really matter. It’s not our home. It’s just passing through. All that matters is my individual comfort. Don’t make me risk myself for the cause of Christ.

Well Christianity is not about just you.

Christ did not die for your personal comfort.

You are called to be a slave of Christ. He is your absolute master. You are to do what He says and part of what He said is the Great Commission. That will not make you feel comfortable a lot of times when you do it. Tough.

We often talk about how much Jesus means to us and how He is worth everything to us, but when push comes to shove, we don’t show it. How do I know that? Look at the way America is today. It got that way because Christians sat back and did nothing. If we continue to sit back and do nothing, we can expect the trend will continue. If we actually get up and stand up for ourselves, we can expect a reversal.

I’ve been hoping for a long time the church will wake up and realize what is going on. So far, my expectations have not been realized. May that soon change. My fear is not that we will lose the battle. (In fact, losing the battle with the case of Houston could spur us to fight even harder.) My fear is that we will win the battle and then do nothing.

In Christ,

Nick Peters

What Stolen Photos Say About Us Today

September 5, 2014

Is the greater concern in America that photos are stolen or what we do about it? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Okay. I really don’t pay much attention to celebrity news. I don’t really care about who is dating who and what number marriage X is on with Y and how many guys a certain female has had children with or anything like that. I have zero interest whatsoever in the tabloid section of the supermarket. I’m too busy living my own life to care about the love lives of people I’ll never meet and have no real impact whatsoever on me.

I do care about moral issues.

I don’t care for celebrities as celebrities, but they are still people, and I do care about moral issues so why not write about something like that today?

It was on Facebook that I first heard the news about Jennifer Lawrence’s nude photos being put on the internet. The term used often is leaked. They weren’t leaked. They were stolen. Her account was hacked into by some sleaze who really needs to get a life and then distributed to other sleazes who repeated his crime.

Yep. No intention of holding back on this one.

And honestly, I couldn’t even tell you who Jennifer Lawrence is. When I first saw a headline of an internet article about how the writer didn’t want to see Jennifer Lawrence naked I thought “Who’s that?” Yeah. I really do pay that little attention. It wasn’t until I read the article that I realized that she was an actress who’d had nude photos of her stolen without permission and then plastered all over the internet.

Too many people are blaming Jennifer for this. Jennifer did not do anything immoral in the affair. Perhaps when she took the pictures of herself she might have done something immoral with them, but there is nothing immoral about taking a naked picture of one’s self. Now you might say storing it on your computer could be foolish. That’s one thing. Foolish does not equal immoral. If you lock your keys in your car, that is foolish. It is not a sin you need to repent of.

Let’s suppose I was away from my own wife on a long trip and she knew I was lonely and missing her and to give me a sudden burst of cheer, she sent me some “pictures” that she took of herself. Now my wife wouldn’t do this due to that fear, but we cannot say that that was something immoral. She’s my wife and I am allowed to see her as she is. She has done nothing immoral in doing that.

You want to know someone who did something immoral?

It was the boy who hacked Jennifer Lawrence’s photos.

Yes. I know some could say it was a man, but someone who treats a woman like this is quite simply a boy. You know who else did something immoral?

Anyone else who went to look at them.

I don’t care if you distributed them or not. If you looked at photos that were got through illegal means, you are guilty of a sin against that person. Right now, there is someone who has had one of the most intimate aspects of her being displayed all over the world and she will never experience the world in the same way, especially since she will never know when she’s walking down the street which guys she comes across might have seen those photos.

And to those guys, Jennifer Lawrence is just a very attractive piece of meat.

I don’t care about celebrities as celebrities, but even then they are people, and they are not just objects. Someone doesn’t cease to be a person just because they become a celebrity.

Now on the one hand, I do understand our obsession in our country.

Most of us have come to a conclusion across all times and cultures that has stood the test of time and been practically a universal. That conclusion is that sex is just awesome.

What’s another conclusion we have come to? The female body is a beautiful work of art.

You’re not going to get any disagreement from me on any of these. 

I am a married man. I love to see my Mrs. I cannot think of a more beautiful sight to me in all the world than when I get to see my Mrs. I love sex also. There is not an experience I can think of that can compare to it. I often think of my single friends and want to say “Oh I just can’t wait until you get married and get to experience this.” (Note. Some don’t want to marry and if they don’t, that’s fine, but if they want to, I look forward to them getting to have this experience.)

And you know what? To be a man and to desire to see a woman naked and to have sex with her is no sin. It is natural. Now if you turn her into an object, that is the problem. That is lust, but I know when I was dating my Allie, I was definitely having those desires. Naturally, I contained them until we got to our wedding night.

Sex really is a transcendent experience and dare I say it, a great evidence that God exists. If there was one aspect of Intelligent Design I could go with, it’d be sex. It didn’t just happen. It wasn’t a random accident. Everything about it and the way the two systems work together fits so well and to add in, as Chesterton points out, it’s fun. We have to eat to live. It doesn’t mean food had to taste good. We could live in a world of black and white. We live in one of color. We also could have reproduced without it being fun, but the blessedness is that it is fun.

Someone I know once said the problem in our society is that we think about sex too much. Many of you might look at this scandal and think that that is true. The reality is, it isn’t. It’s a total mistake. The problem in our society is we don’t think about sex enough.

Oh we have plenty of sex! We do that constantly! We fantasize about sex all the time! We dream about it! We watch it! We talk about it! We do just about everything that can be done with sex!

Except think about it.

Do we really think about what we’re getting ourselves into with this experience, or do we just see ourselves as animals getting together in wild passion? Sex is an ultimate and complete surrender to another person. It is not just a woman making herself vulnerable to a man. A man is just as much making himself vulnerable to a woman. 

It is truly a transcendent experience. Why do we seek it so much? Because next to God, it is quite likely the greatest joy we could ever experience on this Earth. It’s why Chesterton said that the man who knocks on the door of a brothel is looking for God.

Unfortunately, when someone engages in the behavior of looking at someone naked without their okay, then they are in fact lowering that person and in fact, reducing any future joy for that person without some good counseling. 

So a man violates a woman for a moment of pleasure and leaves her with a lifetime of pain.

Is it worth it?

When sex is put at the top of the list as the highest good, they could very well think that that is the case. When people see each other as just animals, then that will also more likely be the case. Say there is no Heaven to gain or Hell to shun and there is no ultimate judge and if you can get away with the pleasure, well why not?

Note in all of this I am not telling us to love sex less. May it never be. I’m just telling us to love God more and to love our fellow man more. Our fellow human being is not just an object for our sexual pleasure. Our fellow human being is someone created in the image of God. They are not just an object of pleasure, and true sexual expression between a man and a woman does not focus on the pleasure of the man or the pleasure of the woman.

It focuses on both.

It has the man being focused largely on the pleasure of the woman and the woman on the pleasure of the men. (And yes women, those of us who are married can assure you of this from our perspective. The greatest pleasure that we get out of sex is in fact knowing that we have brought great pleasure to our women.) Now of course, each person has to know enough to know what they like, but then they count on the other person to fulfill that. 

The acts done at the expense of Jennifer Lawrence or anyone else like her are entirely self-serving acts and each time, the person who is the true victim will be suffering something that could take years for her to heal while the victimizer takes a moment of pleasure. That is a very very costly moment.

The sad thing is people like Jennifer Lawrence suffer the abuse of her victimizers and then they suffer the abuse from everyone else who says “You shouldn’t have done such a thing!” Okay. Maybe she shouldn’t have and maybe it was foolish, but she does not deserve the suffering that she gets from it. Had she distributed the pictures herself, she would be guilty of victimizing herself. She did not. Someone might as well have been hiding outside her house taking pictures of her changing clothes.

Sex is a great good. It is a good we can seek if we do so choose. Let’s not do so at the expense of our fellow human beings. If you treat a fellow human being as an object, you not only wrong them, but you also wrong yourself. If they are just an object, so are you.

While I’m at it, let’s point out this is a mistake the church often makes. We are way too negative about sex. That is why so many people identify us as prudes. I hope it’s noteworthy i have said nothing negative about sex in this post. That would be foolish. We too often in teaching our youth give them only a negative message about sex and when they discover all the positives, they think not only were we wrong about the negatives, but geez, what else could we be wrong about?

This is a mistake. In our teaching about sex, we must teach that it is something good, but like all good things, it must be treated in a sacred way. Sex is sacred indeed. I consider sex like nuclear energy. If you use it right and channel it properly, the results are wonderful. If you use it wrongly and treat it haphazardly, the results are disastrous. 

Please remember sex is sacred and don’t take it lightly. Treasure the spouse you have in your life and if you are not married, then note that you are to willfully give up sexual pleasures with a member of the opposite sex. If that is something you can live with, more power to you. If not, then go out and pay the price to get to see and treasure a member of the opposite sex. Marry them in a lifelong commitment.

People are people. They are not just objects for your pleasure. 

In Christ,

Nick Peters