Posts Tagged ‘men’

Genesis and Antis

February 3, 2015

Is the Christian worldview a discouraging one? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Last night, I was at our local Reasonable Faith meeting where we are getting ready to do a study through Genesis. In the midst of our discussion on it, I started pointing out that Genesis if we understand it in the way I believe that we ought, it really does dispel many of the myths that we have today. Some could argue that the Bible later on upholds these myths, but I’d like to go to the world when it was not fallen and see what we have. We’ll do this by looking at the claims of how Christianity is opposed to something good.

Christianity is anti-human.

Some of you might have seen this meme.

whichisdamaging

Yes. So is this what Christianity really says? Let’s look at Genesis 1:26-27.

26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”

27 So God created mankind in his own image,
    in the image of God he created them;
    male and female he created them.

Now in the account, everything else has been made and the final aspect is humanity. Only humanity is said to be in the image of God and only humanity involves dialogue in the divine council. The creation of humanity is described in poetic terms as well. If we go with John Walton’s idea from the Lost World of Genesis One, humanity is there in order to be God’s representative and to have dominion. We are to rule on His behalf. True, we are fallen later on, but we still are meant to be what we were in the garden, and even better.

But that ruling over the creation? That could lead to another charge.

Christianity is anti-environment!

I oppose the New Age movement naturally and think they can go too far with environmentalism, but many of us don’t go far enough. Christians sadly do have a reputation of wanting to destroy the environment. A lot of this has to do with some ideas that can be around that this world is not our home and we’re just passing through so why be so focused on it? God’s going to destroy this world anyway.

This is not a view I hold. I prefer the old hymn “This is my Father’s world.”

The Genesis account says in 1:28.

28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number;fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

We are told to rule, but we also know in Genesis 2 man is placed in a garden and given the task of controlling it and caring for it. Still, man is to recognize his place in the environment. He is not just one of the animals. Whether we came from the animals would be for the scientists to answer. The point is that we are unique in our capacities and our nature and if we hold to Christianity, we hold a special place. If you want to find a good Christian group to help you care for creation, I recommend the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation.

So what’s next?

Christianity is misogynistic! 

When we get to the second chapter of Genesis, we read this:

18 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

19 Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals.

But for Adam[f] no suitable helper was found. 21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib[h] he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

23 The man said,

“This is now bone of my bones
    and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
    for she was taken out of man.”

 Keep in mind that in the first chapter, the man and woman are both equally in the image of God. While we know that they are distinct, there is no ranking there as if one is superior to the other. A lot of people make the mistake that saying because men and women are different, that that means one is inferior to the other and the other is naturally superior. This does not follow.

“But woman is described as a helper!”

Yes. The same term is used to describe God Himself in relation to man. The woman is a helper and in fact, she is just the very helper that Adam needs. Also, the language of describing creation means that it is not just good, but it is beautiful. The woman is the last one created and as such, I interpret her to be the jewel of creation and the best representative of the beauty of God on Earth.

As we men definitely know, nothing beats the beauty of the woman. You can go to the Zoo and see several animals. You can find beautiful mountain ranges. You can find waterfalls that will hold you captive. You can watch a sunset going down in the evening. In all of this, you will not find anything that is more beautiful than the human female form. As I have told my own wife, “You are the most beautiful thing my eyes can see until I see Jesus one day.”

Woman is to be celebrated and any man who is dating or married should be treating his woman as a princess. She is to be honored. But talking about the woman leads to the next step.

Christianity is anti-sex!

Really? Seriously?

24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.

25 Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.

I know several married men. I do not know any that are anti-sex. I have heard men give sermons on sex before. They want to make it very clear they are not opposed to it and it is always hysterical when they do. They are so emphatic that the congregation definitely gets the message. Of course, we place sex within one context, that of a man and a woman united in marriage, but that is because we are pro-sex, not anti.

A man and a woman’s body are not to be viewed as cheap. They are not shared with just anyone. They are shared with people who are worthy. Putting sex in one environment is the way of honoring it by saying that you have to make a real commitment to be ready to handle it. Sex is like nuclear energy. If you use it properly and with the right procedures, you get a great result. If you misuse it, you can get Chernobyl.

So let’s lead that into the final one.

Christianity is anti-pleasure.

With all of these, we should know Christianity is not opposed to pleasure. We are opposed to some things deemed as pleasures and we are opposed to pleasure that can be good but not in the proper place, but God made us to enjoy what we do. Look at it this way. As OT scholar David Lamb has said, in the creation account, the commands given to man were simple. Eat a lot of food. Have a lot of sex. All he had to do was tend the garden and he would be cared for and there was only one tree he could not eat of.

Christianity is not a religion meant to kill one’s joy and frankly, we need to hear more about that. Sometimes we hear so much about the work that we have to do that we hear nothing about the pleasure we were meant for. When was the last time you heard a sermon about play for instance? Even a great theologian like Thomas Aquinas said play is essential so that we can recharge our minds.

In all of this, we must realize that if we have these ideas that Christianity is opposed to these things, we have a false idea. Unfortunately, we might need to watch ourselves to see if we are in fact giving out that viewpoint. Too many times, we’ve done things that fit with this stereotype. If we’re Christians, let’s seek to be living in a way where we are embracing the good things in this life, remembering another passage. This time from James 1:17.

 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

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

Sexual Ethics Foundation: Men

August 27, 2013

How do men handle issues of sexual ethics? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

I’ve been asked to write a foundation series on sexual ethics and since I think I’ve already established that we need to have this conversation, I’m going to write first off on the part that’s much easier for me, writing about how a man thinks about the issue of sex.

I am sure it’s no surprise to women out there to know that men like sex and we think about it constantly. Now it’s not true that that’s all that we think about (We do sleep sometimes after all), but it certainly is always ready to be brought to the forefront of the mind.

The average wife tends to think that her husband has such a dirty mind. I dare say that if women knew the way men were really thinking a lot of the times, they’d be even more disgusted with us than they already are. If many women who are dressing sleazy in order to impress men knew what went on in a man’s mind, they would probably be more prone to dress like women in Islamic countries.

In the debate on homosexuality, I am surprised so often to hear about the need to fill a natural desire. If we men did that, we’d be starting a polygamous marriage or adulterous affair the day after our wedding. We have to make it a constant battle in order to avoid thinking about other women in our minds when we’re married or dating.

The first movie Allie and I saw while dating was Couple’s Retreat. It was certainly a funny movie and given to us as a gift later as a reminder of the first movie we saw together, but even then when it came to women in bikinis on the big screen, I was looking away. Why? Because I knew darn well the way my mind worked and that I can have that panorama of images in my head.

This is one reason that pornography is such a big draw for a man. A man can just have an image in his head and frankly, it’s a lazy way to meet a woman. Pornography requires nothing of the man. He does not have to be a man to experience sexual release at the sight of pornography. He just has to have the right equipment to do so. There is no challenge on his character or call for him to better himself. When such a man meets a real woman, he will not know what to do with her.

This is something we in the church need to be aware of. Please note that I am not saying that the desire for the man to have sex is a wrong desire. Heck no it’s not wrong! What I am saying is that it is a desire that, like any other desire, needs to be controlled. Handled properly, it will be a great benefit to a man. Handled improperly, and it can lead to his destruction.

Men are also very much ready to go for sex at a moment’s notice. Men are like microwaves and women are like ovens. Of course, there are times that are exceptions and there are people that are exceptions, but generally, a man does not take much to get in the mood and to be ready to go.

Men also tend to view sex as an end in itself. While women want it generally as a means to something else, for men, the sex itself is the goal. Sexuality for a man is one of the strongest shapers of who that man really is.

How does this work with marriage? Sex is a major reason why men get married. When men marry, it is not because they want someone to have intellectual discussions with. It is not because they want someone to play games with or watch TV and movies with. Their guy friends can often do that just fine. They want something different. They want what only the woman can give them, and that is sex.

Having said that, the man in marriage must avoid this temptation. He must avoid the treating of his wife as just a sex object. This is often thought about with the joke that a man is doing his taxes and filing his wife under the category of “entertainment expenses.” Of course, a man should enjoy the sexual company of his wife, but realize that she is much more than that.

Biblically, I think God set up the system this way because the only way the man would be drawn to the woman was for sex. Men don’t really need someone around for security usually. We’re normally stronger and better able to care for ourselves. We also tend to look out for #1 and there’s no reason why we’d want to just take on someone who we would have to look out for.

That’s why God gave us men a great incentive to be with the woman. If you give the woman love, you get to experience the fruit of that love. An analogy we could think of is with gardening. If a man tends to his garden rightly, when the harvest comes, he can enjoy its choice fruits. In fact, this is the same kind of language that we find used in Song of Songs.

As a man learns to love his wife then (Since marriage based on love is really a new phenomenon) he will find that he does in fact love her. Many of us know the paradox that if we wait until we feel like doing something, then we will never do that something. Want to lose weight? Don’t wait until you feel like exercising. You’ll never do it. Just start exercising.

This sexuality is an integral part of the man. This is the best way that a wife can build up her husband. Those of you who have embraced the five love languages, and I recommend that you do if you haven’t, should realize that for every man, there is a sixth love language. Some might think the language of physical touch means sex. It doesn’t. Sex definitely involves physical touch, but physical touch means much more than that, such as the holding of a hand, the patting of a leg, the caressing of a back, etc. Bottom line women is that if you want to empower your husbands, this is the number one way to do it. Sexuality gives the man the affirmation and knowledge that he is indeed the man. After all, a guy will do most any crazy, stupid thing you can imagine just to hear some one guy shout out “You the man!”

What of men who don’t get married? The biblical model is quite simple. If you want sex, then you get married. If you don’t get married, then you are to be chaste your whole life. I do plan on writing more on this later, but the man who plans to be single must be prepared biblically to accept that fate.

For those who do, we must not look down on them. Christianity did something radical in that it made singleness an honorable position to hold. Anyone who disagrees should realize that our Lord was single in his earthly sojourn and we would not look down on Him. If you choose to be single, just make sure that the energy you would have given to marriage that you give to the service of the Kingdom.

For men who are planning to get married, you are called to wait until you have said the “I dos” before you can have sex. Doing this is the best way to honor the woman that you love and you can go with the confidence that after you get married, they’ll be plenty of time to catch up on any time you might think you’ve “missed” in the dating period.

What women need to do is realize what an integral part of the man this is and act accordingly. A woman should make herself desirable, but she should also until she’s married leave some mystery to her. Let it be that the man earns her trust and love. Do not downplay his sexuality. Instead, try to make the most of it. Realize that this is just the way that God made men. God made us to have a strong drive so that we would use that drive to honor you all the more.

Men are to always be loving and honoring of their women. Do not make that love conditional on the sex. After all, most of us would want our women to be there and loving us for the sake of loving us and not sleeping with us just so that we will love them or we have guilted them. It should be our hopes that our women will want us for us. In a marriage, I think it’s fine for sex to be an incentive or reward or gift, but it should not be used as a weapon.

Remember men, we are called to love our wives as Christ loved the church, and if such a thought does not make you nervous, then there is something that is wrong with you. It is a remarkable calling and one you should seek to strive towards every day. Do you think Christ would use the church as an object for His pleasure? Or, do you think rather that Christ seeks to honor the church and build her up so he can present her without fault and blemish, you know, the very words Paul himself uses here.

Well that’s about it for men. I hope next time to discuss this subject in relation to women, something much more difficult, but that is going to be tried.

In Christ,
Nick Peters