Posts Tagged ‘pleasure’

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

Book Plunge: Crazy Busy

February 2, 2015

What do I think of Kevin DeYoung’s book published by Crossway? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

CrazyBusy

My pastor is wanting to do a series on this book so he gave me a copy so I could write out some lessons on it. Fortunately, it was Super Bowl Sunday and since I don’t give a rip about sports, that left me with plenty of time to watch while my wife and another couple we were with were all watching the game. Because, you see, had it been any other time, it might have taken longer to go through.

Because I am Crazy Busy.

It’s true. As an apologist with my own ministry and one who works closely with two other ministries, my to-do list never seems to end. I have people coming to me constantly with questions. I am asked numerous times to help out in debates on Facebook and other places. I have a to-read list from publishers that keeps growing and growing. I have a Master’s degree that I am working on. I have a podcast that I produce every Saturday that is two hours long. I have numerous places to go around here and most of them at least 20 minutes away. I am trying to be a good husband all the while and still make time for some down time so I can recharge. I try to help take care of the house around here. I have to drive my wife to many places since she can’t drive. (Not complaining about it. Just stating it.) I also try to get in a good prayer life and then when that’s all done, try to sleep and think about the next day.

Yes. We are all Crazy Busy.

In fact, most of us had this idea that technology would help make things easier for us. In fact, it has made things even busier in many ways. Many of us have a hard time unplugging from the world around us, including our phones and tablets. DeYoung in the book says for some of us, one of the times we’re happiest is when we unplug from things and just get away. The last time I did this seriously (And I mean as an intentional desire to put things away seeing as the last time I spent away from technology was when I had the flu and was too sick to do anything and no, that was not a nice technology break) was when I went on my honeymoon in 2010. The only book I brought with me was my Bible and I had my phone as a GPS and to find places to go for us together and such, but I did not check any emails. I did not do any Facebook. I did not do any debating or answering questions. It was me and my new bride and that was where my focus was. I even especially told my parents and hers to not contact us that week unless it was an emergency. For the time being, it was the two of us. Some of you will think it was a really happy time for obvious reasons, but i would say a large part was it was just good to get away for a bit. For awhile, I did not need to do anything at all.

Of course, we can’t stay that way. We’d love it if we could be on an endless honeymoon, but we know that there is real work to do and as soon as we return, we find that that work is there for us.

So what are some of DeYoung’s recommendations?

First, watch for pride. Many times, we don’t say no to someone because of pride. We don’t want to look bad or some other reason like that. When we are given a chance to serve, it is okay to say no, but if we say yes, let us examine to see why it is that we say yes.

Second is that we cannot do everything. Each of us in ministry really tends to stress the importance of what we do. I’m no exception. I do apologetics and I find this extremely important and neglected in the church today. Yet it is not the only field (Though it does touch on others), Some people have a great passion for missions. Some have it for youth ministry. Some have it for music ministry. There are many such fields out there.

In fact, DeYoung also says we don’t have to be greatly moved for all these fields. We can care about the persecuted church or people who don’t know Jesus overseas, but not all of us will be going to our prayer closets weeping for them. Note that we all care does not mean we all have to do something specifically in each field. None of us could. We would just wear ourselves out. I found this to be important seeing as we need to learn to rely on each other in ministry and use each other’s gifts well. I’m thankful I’m at a church where while my pastor is not gung-ho for apologetics like I am, he realizes my gift and great focus in my life and has chosen to find a way to let me serve to be best of my ability in the church.

Third is priorities. We just need to keep first things first. One aspect of this I’ve always stressed is that whatever I do in ministry, my wife comes first. Paul tells us that a good church leader must be able to manage his own household. There are many people out there who can do apologetics ministry successfully. There is only one person who can be a husband to my wife and that is me. If I fail at the task of being a husband, it really doesn’t matter how I do in apologetics. I’ve failed to love my wife as Christ loves the church. If ministry gets in the way of family, something is wrong.

I thought the fourth chapter on children would not be really relevant to me. After all, my wife and I don’t have any yet. Instead, I found it quite relevant. It really brought a lot to the nature/nurture debate and gave me some thoughts for if that time does come, particularly that the greatest influence can often be what is thought about politics and what is thought about religion.

I also found it great when DeYoung said that our society doesn’t really care what you do as an adult, but if you’re a kid, they’ll count the number of calories in your school lunch. Maybe if we were often as serious about what our children do with their sex lives as we are about what it is that they’re eating we’d be better off. You could also say the same about if we taught them good thinking as much as we try to teach healthy living.

The next chapter is about our internet struggles. I was pleased to see some discussion about how Google is affecting the way we think and DeYoung is open that it could be making us dumber. Sometimes, we might actually need to do something like get a book to get an answer to a question instead of thinking a few seconds on Google will do it. DeYoung is not saying remove technology altogether, but make sure it is a tool and not a master.

The following chapter is about rest. This is a principle I try to apply in my own life. It is why on Sunday, I make it a point to not do any debate on Facebook or anywhere else. I need a day to break and recharge. When we miss sleep, we are simply borrowing time, We will have to take that time later and it could be that in the meanwhile, we are more prone to have a car accident or snap at a loved one.

Finally, the last danger he mentions is that we should expect some busyness. We will be busy and we should be busy and it is not a foreign state. Even in the Garden of Eden, there was work to be done. What needs to be done then is just to follow the previous steps to make sure we don’t get overwhelmed. Jesus was a busy guy in His ministry after all, and still He did everything God had for Him to do.

But what is the one thing we must do? That’s the last chapter and that’s setting aside time for God. We need to have a prayer time and DeYoung also recommends a devotional time. So having said all that, let me get into some things I think could be improvements.

I would like to see some more on time management instead of saying we need to manage our time. Is it proper for me while busy to take that down time to do something fun and entertaining just for me? How about those date nights with my spouse? I find it concerning that Christians emphasize so much on the work we are to do for God, but we rarely seem to take time to realize the importance of play.

In fact, let’s consider 1 Cor. 7 in this regard. Paul says to not deprive one another of the gift of sexual relations except for an agreed time and then come quickly together. It looks like Paul is saying it’s important for husbands and wives to have intimate time together and while sex is the way of making babies, I have a suspicion that he has more in mind than simply making babies. He knows husbands and wives need to have this intimate time together in order to build up their marriages.

Second, I understand the importance of prayer, but this can be difficult for a lot of us. I have a mentor who helps with me, but that extended time can be difficult and I really think it difficult when people talk about hearing the voice of God since I don’t see this as normative in Scripture anywhere. At this point, a small section of recommended reading would have helped. I do have Tim Keller’s book on prayer though I have not got to it yet. Why?

Because I’m Crazy Busy of course.

With devotions, I have to say I don’t really do this one either. I don’t because so many devotionals I come across are just so fluffy and light. I really have a hard time focusing on the supposed lesson because I realize that the text that is being used is being ripped totally out of its context. I have not found a devotional yet that works for someone of my kind of mindset.

Still, DeYoung’s book is a good one and it is short so that those of you who are Crazy Busy can indeed find the time to read it. I think this could be a good one for discussion in the church.

In Christ,
Nick Peters