Happy Birthday Princess

How do I celebrate the birthday of my Princess? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out!

One of the benefits of having my own blog, while an apologetics blog, is that I can write about what I want. Today, my Princess happens to be turning 27 so I’d like to write about her. I think this is something all apologists can relate to as Chesterton said each of us is a great might-not-have-been. That my wife is is something that I can celebrate.

Princess. I am so happy to see you working to bring about better life changes. I don’t always understand the choices, but I know you want to be the best you can be. I am also thankful for the changes you’ve been making with me and your desire to be an even better wife than you already are.

I’m thankful when I’m sharing the Gospel with people, you can be by my side and can support me so well in it. Everything I do in this world is easier because you’re right there supporting me in it. I tell people that I think my ministry started going better and better once you came along. You inspire such great confidence in me and motivate me so much.

There are so many men in this world you could have been chasing after, but for some reason, you chose to chase after this nerdy little apologist. I don’t understand that. As we often joke about, I was not the type that you wanted at the beginning. Somehow, I found my way into your heart and for that I am grateful.

It is your birthday, but it looks like I am getting the gift. The gift is that I get to be with you. I get to love you and celebrate you. I get to be with you throughout this whole day. One of my greatest joys in life is getting to bring you joy. I want very little for myself these days. What I want is to get to be the best that I can be for you.

Please never take yourself for granted. I don’t care what the rest of the world says about you. You are my Princess. You are my gift. You are the one that I cherish and celebrate.

I am thankful to be your knight in shining armor, your Superman. If anyone messes with you, I am right there. No matter how close that person may be to you, I am there to protect you. I think many people have seen on Facebook that the unwritten rule is that if you insult Allie, you’d better be on your guard because her husband will have no mercy on you.

I don’t know what all else is in store for you today, but today I definitely want you to have a happy birthday. I am happy just getting to be with you and getting the honor of being the man in your life. It’s amazing to think that you’re 27 and I’ve been there through 8 years of your life and been your husband for 7 of them.

I love you, Princess. Happy birthday!

In Christ,
Nick Peters

In Defense of Shaunti Feldhahn

Does Shaunti Feldhahn encourage men to use pornography? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Recently, Christian author Shaunti Feldhahn posted on her Facebook page about how her and Craig Gross have negative reviews for Through A Man’s Eyes, and how apparently Shaunti is saying that it’s okay for men to watch porn and women need to accept that this is how men are. Of course, most every book will get some negative reviews and points will be misunderstood. This is one point I think there is no way someone could misunderstand her on.

My first entry into Shaunti’s books was to read For Women Only. A woman actually recommended I read it to understand my relationships with women better and this was long before my wife Allie came into my life. The next after that was For Men Only and at this point, I was not married yet so I laughed some at the thought of men reading it to get more sex, but not as much as I do now. (Wait a second. That is what it said isn’t it? Maybe I should see if I can find my copy around here somewhere….) Finally, I read Through A Man’s Eyes and thought that the book was practically a biography of my own walk.

If anything I suspect is behind this, it is that many women don’t really want to accept what was said in that last book. They don’t like the thought that most husbands out there struggle with lust. They don’t like realizing that most husbands out there really do think about sex that much. Feminism has come around with an effort to try to tame masculinity. Men are hideous and shameful just because they are men.

The story starts with a man who goes off to work and in the morning, he’s thinking about the love making he and his wife had last night. As he goes throughout the day, he is surrounded by advertisements of beautiful women and real beautiful women at the office. He works to avoid temptation all day long. Then he gets home to the one woman he can delight in and lo and behold, she wants to hide herself from him as if it would be just awful if he saw her body.

If a woman thinks this is something far from the truth, then she is just wrong. I have written about this on a post about a man’s world. I urge women to think about being on a diet and then passing through the ice cream or the candy or cookies section of the grocery store. That is the only thing I can think of comparable to what we men go through.

Why do we go through it? We go through it because we love God and we love the women in our lives. This includes those of us who are single. The only female body I delight in is my wife’s. One cannot say other women are not beautiful, but their beauty is not for me. Why would I chase after and wonder about another woman’s body? My wife’s body is blessing enough for me.

Despite saying that, I realize that is a battle I face every day. Shaunti was quite right when she spoke about it being hard on a pastor even in a church when a lady in the front row is wearing a top that is more revealing than she probably realizes. This isn’t saying women need to go around wearing burkas or something of the sort, but there does need to be a mutual understanding. Men are very visual and they need to be aware of that.

Are men for the most part visual? Yes. Does that justify it? No. As someone with Aspergers married to someone with Aspergers, I have a saying about why we do what we do because of our Aspergers. It is an explanation, but it is not a justification. Why are men tempted with porn and looking at other women? Because we are visual. Is that an explanation? Yes. Does that justify it? Not on your life.

Many men watch porn because their sexuality is so much of who they are. It is where they find their identity. If they can feel like a man and feel appealing to a woman, then they are the man. That’s the bad news. It is a constant battle. Here is the good news. Their wives can know how to best reach them. Don’t let an unknown woman on a screen have a love affair with your husband. You do it.

Nowhere in Shaunti’s writings does she endorse or approve of porn. Nowhere. It is unequivocally wrong. What is realized is why men do it, and that is part of the solution. One of the steps to knowing how to deal with it is to know why men do it to begin with.

If you are a woman condemning what you read about, try and talk to your husband and ask him if the description in the book is accurate. Of course, some men are vastly different. Sometimes it is the woman with the higher drive in a relationship. Their wives just can’t get enough of it. (And as Mark Gungor says, if you are one of those men, then I think I speak on behalf of all men when I say “We hate you.”) Many men are like this and keep in mind, Shaunti wrote this with someone who is a man who runs a ministry to help people stop using pornography.

Some of you may have critiques of Shaunti on other grounds such as her methodology and such. I cannot speak to that. Those are issues I am sure Shaunti takes seriously. This is one area there should be no misunderstanding on. I find the notion that Shaunti is fine with pornography use completely groundless. I instead happily recommend her material and think many marriages would be better if we would learn from it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 8/5/2017: Bryan Sands

What’s coming up? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

If you love a movie series, when the new movie series comes out, if you have the money and you have the time, you go. Why wait? It’s not that big a deal. If you love a video game series, when the new one comes out, you go and buy it. Why wait? It’s not that big a deal. If you love a book series, when the next installment comes out, you go out and buy it and read it. Why wait? It’s not that big a deal.

So what happens if you love sex?

You don’t wait for all these other things and if you really want to have sex, doesn’t it seem odd to wait until you’re married? Why would anyone want to do that? Is this really a big deal? Don’t we know that it’s just sex? We’ve moved past these regressive views of the past haven’t we that think sex is just for marriage. Right?

My guest this Saturday says the question of why someone should wait is a good one. There’s no question that people enjoy sex, so what is the big deal? Could it be for your own best interests to actually save sex for marriage? His name is Bryan Sands as someone who has been a youth minister, he understands what the struggle of our youth are with sex and we’ll see what he has to say.

So who is he?

Bryan Sands served in youth ministry for thirteen years. For the past six years, he’s been the director of campus ministries at Hope International University in Fullerton, CA. He now has a regular blog up at everyonelovessex.org. He and his wife Caz live with their two daughters Abigail and Lily Rose in Orange County, CA.

So if we are people who love sex and think it’s wonderful, then why on Earth would we tell someone that they have to wait? We don’t do that for movies and video games and books generally, so why would we do that for sex? What makes sex so different?

What damage can be done when sex is misused? If sex is so good, then how is it that it can lead to the destruction of so many lives? What is this great power of sex that it can bind a husband and wife closer together and yet it can also lead to the destruction of so many lives? How can someone who is sexually broken find healing?

What about pornography? Usually thought of as a man’s problem, many more women are getting caught in pornography as well. Not only that, those who are not, such as daughters dating young men, suffer the effects of pornography due to what’s happened in the minds of the men that they’re dating. Porn has changed the sexual landscape.

And we could also talk about human trafficking. This is a very real problem and a lot of it comes from the pornography industry. What can we do about this problem?

We’ll be talking about these kinds of questions this Saturday. I hope you’ll be looking for the newest episode. I hope also it will fill you with a deep respect and admiration of the gift of sex that God created. If you’re unmarried, I hope you’ll renew your commitment to wait until marriage and if you are married, you’ll remember the importance of sex in your marriage.

Please be looking for the new episode and leave a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast!

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Are People Inherently Good?

Are we inherently good? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I want to say at the outset that much of my thinking on this is influenced by Clay Jones’s book Why Does God Allow Evil? I would like to say the thinking was all mine, but it was not. I am near the end of Jones’s book and I do hope to review it when the time comes.

Saturday while I was out driving I heard the end of a radio talk show asking if people are good or evil inherently. I tried to call in and answer, but they never got around to me. Since I didn’t get to say what I think on the air, why not say it here?

After the flood, we are told that humans have their every inclination to evil. We all know that a child has to be trained to be good. Being evil is something that seems to come naturally to us. Why do we not often notice this? It is because we live in a culture that has been so Christianized that we no longer consider how radical the Christian ethic was at its time. Today, we look at slavery as something that is just obviously wrong. Go back to the first century Roman Empire and try to convince your average citizen of that. Good luck.

One point Jones brings out is about genocide. Who are the people who do genocide? We would normally think of these people, probably from watching movies and TV shows, as the classical villains who do nothing but think about evil all day long and delight in death and destruction. Not really. Many of the people who ran the concentration camps of the holocaust would be people who would go home and be excellent parents and spouses and be really kind to their neighbors. So what kind of people were they ultimately?

People like you and me.

Really. There is not a great gap separating people capable of genocide. This was found out even further by the Milgram experiment. At the instruction of an authority figure, ordinary people would do actions that could have in other circumstances led to the killing of an innocent human being. You can read about that here.

If you at this point in fact start to think that you are better than the person committing genocide or the person who gives the lethal voltage in the Milgram experiment, congratulations. You have already taken the first step in becoming that person who is committing genocide and capable of giving lethal voltage. You have already assumed that you are incapable of falling like that.

Consider the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector. We look at it and see the problem of the Pharisee saying that he is not like the tax collector. What’s the problem then? We go and say “God. I thank you that I am not like that Pharisee.” Oh, we might not explicitly say that, but that is a thought that can come into our minds. Most of us, as much as we don’t want to admit it, are more like the Pharisee than the tax collector.

In the video game Earthbound, at one point the party of heroes goes through a cave and the main character realizes his thoughts are being broadcast on a wall in written form for all to see. Most of us would want to flee out of such a cave as quickly as possible. Most of us I suspect know about the evil inside of us and the thoughts that come through our heads where we wonder “Where did that come from?”

In fact, our society seems to have lost the idea of virtue. I have been considering lately how so many books and such deal with feelings people have, and in a sense, that needs to be dealt with, but very rarely do we deal with the character of a person that can lead to those feelings. The problem we often have is not fixing ourselves, as in our character flaws and such, but fixing how we feel about ourselves.

So where do I come down? People can do good, but the example given on the show was would you pick up a $20 bill for someone if you saw them drop it and they didn’t notice? The sad reality is someone like Hitler might just do that and then go back and gas thousands of Jews and see no wrong in it.

When you see someone doing evil, realize that if it weren’t for the grace of God, you could be that person. This is what makes forgiveness such a key issue. We forgive because God has forgiven us and that could just as easily be us. We need to show mercy because were it not for grace, we could be that person. We need to be desiring that that person grow in character and virtue instead of being where they are.

This should result in humility in all of us. We are all capable of great evil and we must all watch ourselves and be building ourselves up to be the persons that we need to be so we don’t become those people who do evil. Never once do we need to say that we are above a certain sin. If we think that, we are far more prone to fall into it.

And of course then, we must all rely on Christ more and more. The cross is the demonstration of His love for us and to that we must return. At the foot of the cross, we all realize we’re fallen and evil.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Seven Years

Is today a special day? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

When I was growing up, July 24th was a day like any other day. Nothing special today. One never thinks it will have any special significance at that point, but it’s amazing how time can change things. The one day that was nothing really special suddenly becomes extremely special.

It was seven years ago my wife did something absolutely insane. She gave herself to me in holy matrimony. She promised to be with me till death do us part. That is quite a big promise to make and an even harder one to follow, especially to a guy like me since marriage has really helped to show me what a sinful human being I really am.

These seven years have been full of ups and downs. We’ve had many many struggles, and yet we’ve still stayed together. I think it’s a great testimony to our love because I honestly think many couples might not have undergone all the changes that we have had to undergo as successfully. It’s not because we’re so special though, but because our marriage is rooted in Christ. We have had a Christian marriage from the beginning.

Loving a woman is something very special. Many guys think it consists of what you do on the dates such as showing up well-dressed and with cologne and a gift like flowers and chocolates and other such things. It is that, but it’s more. In marriage, it’s the day to day things. It’s things like being the official bug killer around the house. It’s things like managing a budget and compromising on what to watch on Netflix that evening. Sharing a bed means more than sex together, but it also means sharing a trust with each other and knowing you’re going to for the most part wake up next to each other the next day. (There are times of sickness where we sleep apart and of course, one of us is usually the first to get up the next day.)

And Princess, you have changed my life in so much. You have changed my diet and my confidence level. I couldn’t be doing what I am doing without you. I couldn’t be doing apologetics as well as I am without you. I wouldn’t be learning from the school of hard knocks what it means to be holy without you, because now that you’re here, I see the direct result of my actions.

If anything, I always wish I could do more for you. I shudder when I think about how imperfect my love for you is. As you know, whenever I do anything, I like to do the very best I can, and that includes loving you. It’s always a delight to me when someone compliments me on how much I love my wife. Anyone can study hard and be an academic, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but being a person of character and loving your wife is something different.

Princess. You are worth everything. I often think now that I have so much in life and it requires little to keep me busy. I have books coming in for my show and so that’s taken care of. The next thing I want in life is to keep you feeling loved and happy. I would love to someday take you to Japan like you want or get you all the art supplies that I can. Hopefully some day I will get to do these things.

Princess. I hope today I do more and more to amaze you and leave you feeling immensely loved. I want you to know what a treasure you are and everything I do I don’t think can adequately express the desire I have to please you immensely and show what you really mean to me. Aside from salvation in Jesus Christ, you are the greatest gift that I have ever been given. I love you immensely. Happy anniversary Princess.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

5 Reasons Christians Should Celebrate Sex

Do we have a gift from God worth celebrating? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Recently, my friend Sean McDowell wrote an excellent article on why our culture is so obsessed with sex. I have no dispute with it, but at the same time I thought it needed a contrast. After all, Chesterton said long ago that when a man knocks on the door of a brothel, he’s looking for God. The search for sex is often a search for transcendence. It’s amazing that in all the things we have made for pleasure since the dawn of civilization, that somehow God’s creation of sex is still our great obsession. We just can’t seem to beat that.

When we come to sex, there is a sense in which we are drawn out of ourselves. The most rational among us can become creatures of strong passion at that moment. Many men are willing to do most anything for sex. We could condemn this, or we could see it as a clue to reality.

Christians have a tendency to move in the opposite direction always of society and especially with sex. We’re the ones who often treat it as shameful and dirty. It’s instead sacred and beautiful. This is something God made. Let’s treat it that way. Thus, I have in contrast five reasons why we should celebrate sex.

#1, We should celebrate sex because we honor God.

Sex isn’t like a video game or a TV show we made up. It’s something that God created. It was His idea. He put all the joy into it for us. He designed it to be pleasurable. He designed it to unify a husband and wife in matrimony. Of course, He put barriers around it, but He did it not because it is dirty, but because it is sacred. If you have something like a safety-deposit box, you don’t put junk in it. You put valuables in it you want to keep safe. I often say sex is like nuclear energy. It works great if you handle it the right way and has wonderful effects. It’s powerfully explosive if you use it in the wrong way and has devastating effects.

God is not anti-sex. There’s a whole book of the Bible celebrating it, the Song of Songs. Christians don’t need to be either. We need to show the world that we are the ones who are doing it, pardon the pun, right. You won’t find joy in sex in just random encounters. The best way to find that joy is in a covenant relationship where the love grows and grows and grows.

#2. We believe in Immortality.

We believe that the body is a good thing. We believe that it is such a good thing, that God made it to last forever. God is going to recreate our bodies. We are not Gnostics. Our bodies are not shameful. They are gifts. They are temples. We need to treat them properly.

Thus, we have no need to exclude ourselves from the joys of the body necessarily. We can in the sense of a sacrifice, but not because we think they are wrong. I have a lifelong vow about drinking alcohol. I do not think it is wrong. If you drink a beer or wine in front of me, I do not think you are doing anything wrong. Of course, alcohol can be misused and abused and that is wrong, but it is no sin to drink and control your drinking. If you abstain from sex for reasons of focus and such, go ahead, but don’t look down on those who marry. After all, Paul said it is better to marry than to burn.

If we are going to be in our bodies forever, why not celebrate and rejoice in them? Sex is one way we do that. We honor the person with their bodies and soul. Some marriage traditions in other cultures have marriage vows that say “With my body, I thee worship.” The giving of the body is the giving of something sacred, and that sacredness of the body extends into eternity.

#3. We believe in the sacredness of sex.

This goes with the others. Sex is not just a pastime that we do together like playing video games, watching a movie, going to a concert, or playing a sport. We know this because many people will see something greater in having sex with someone else instead of going to the movies with someone else. Something about sex seems different. Sex does change everything in a relationship and even for couples who aren’t married, the idea is still that sex with anyone else is cheating.

Sex is holy and good because God made it for us. He wanted us to enjoy it. As I said, we have a whole book of the Bible for this. This is a lesson especially women need to hear. Too many women grow up being told that sex is just for men. It’s not. Bluntly speaking, God gave women a clitoris and as far as I know, the only purpose of this is so that you can enjoy sex.

Instead, we often say women are pure and pristine creatures who will never think about sex, and guys are these dirty ravenous animals who only think about sex and are just a big bundle of hormones. Both of us have hormones. Both of us have desires. We may experience them in different ways and to different degrees, but they are there. They are not shameful. Like any desire, they must be controlled and used at the proper time, but there is no sin in enjoying sex.

#4. We are made in the image of God.

One of the fascinating things that is said in the Bible right after man and woman are made in the image of God is to go forth and fill the Earth. Be fruitful and multiply. In other words, for us at the beginning, sex was part of the divine mandate. (Doesn’t that sound like a great job guys? God commands us to have sex, not like we really need the motivation.)

Of course, couples decide when they want to have children, but we are not opposed to them. This is one way we in fact spread the Kingdom. It’s no secret that one of the reasons Islam grows is fertility rates. The same can happen with Christianity.

Since we are in the image of God, we can celebrate that part of that is that we are to fill the Earth and subdue it. Naturally, this doesn’t mean everyone does it. Someone who doesn’t marry is not being disobedient to God, but humanity as a whole is supposed to do this.

#5. Because we love pleasure.

Yes. Christians are to love pleasure. There is nothing wrong with fun. Fun is God’s idea. We often picture holiness as something boring. Do we want to say that God is boring? God who created a world of variety and wonder is boring? Perish the thought!

I’ve been a gamer all my life. I remember back when the Super Nintendo was coming out, that the ads said it would have 32,000 colors. That’s quite a lot, and all of them are a gift from God. God did not make a world of black and white. God made us to need food. He did not have to make it taste good. He made us to need drink. He did not need to make it refreshing. He made us to reproduce. He did not need to make it an awesome time.

Sex is not just something we do for fun. It’s something we do also to unify a commitment between husband and wife. Can I stress this to you wives especially? You can do EVERYTHING ELSE in the world for your husbands, but if you neglect this area, it won’t matter. This is the area that for your man will scream love the loudest. This is the area where you can highly highly empower your husband. In fact, Scripture commands husbands to delight in and find joy in their wives. It’s hard for them to do this if their wives say no. It’s also to be remembered that this goes both ways. We are not to withhold our bodies from one another. There’s an old joke where a man says he’s been given many reasons by his wife to not have sex. Prayer and fasting have never been one of them.

Sex is fun. It is sacred. It is good. It is a gift from God. It is a shame that our culture acts like they are the ones that know how to have a good time. Every act of sex should be a sacred act. It is ideally a mutual giving between a man and a woman in a covenant who give freely of themselves and hold nothing back from the other. Both should treat one another as sacred beings in the image of God.

I look forward to a day when our culture turns to us on the issue of sex. I hope we do not turn and run from the topic. Sex is God’s idea. It is not the enemy. It is the gift.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Sex, Romance, and the Glory of God

What do I think about C.J. Mahaney’s book published by Crossway publishing? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Many men are already looking at this title and seeing the connection. For us, sex is a form of romance in itself and certainly shows the glory of God. As Stephen and Judith Schwambach say in For Lovers Only, if an atheist ever asks you to prove the existence of God, just say one word. Sex. (It is an argument I’ve been tempted to use.)

Women might not see it as fast. Some do, but not all. Fortunately, Carolyn Mahaney has something at the end for Christian wives, but this book is mainly for the husbands. What does a Christian husband need to know?

If a guy picks up this book wanting a new technique in the bedroom or a new position to try, he’s going to be disappointed. Nothing like that is in here at all. Could it be that it’s simply not needed? Maybe instead of looking at new techniques and new positions, we need to look at new ways to love our wives and let great sex come from that.

If there is one main emphasis I think should be got from the book, it’s something that Mahaney says regularly. Before you touch your wife’s body, you must first touch her heart and mind. While there are high-drive wives, many are not. (And in the words of Mark Gungor, if any man is married to one, then I speak on behalf of all men when I say, we hate you.) A man can wonder endlessly what it can take to get his wife in the mood except forgetting the simplest way of all. Just be a good and loving husband.

That’s why Mahaney recommends some time seriously studying your wife. Oh sure. We men have no problem studying the physical nature of our wives, but find out what makes them tick. What is it that they love? What are they scared of? What do they have great passion for? What size clothing do they wear? What is their favorite color?

For instance, from time to time I like to buy Allie flowers and if I do, I know I cannot go wrong with one thing. I will always try to find flowers that are orange because I know that orange is her favorite color. My Allie also knows to be very careful about saying some small thing that she wants around me. Odds are I will remember it and try to get it as soon as possible.

Does this take work? Yep. Will you screw up from time to time? Yep. Of course, there are other tips to help with that. Regular date nights are encouraged even if you live on a budget. You don’t have to spend a lot of money or even any money in order to have a date night.

The book ends with a section from Mahaney’s wife Carolyn that is a note to Christian wives. It hilariously begins with her at a women’s conference and the question being asked, “What’s the one thing you can do for your husband that encourages him the most.” She knew the answer and yet apparently no one had said it. (Either they were incredibly dense or incredibly shy.) Finally, she just said, “Make love to him.” There were several laughs and then knowing nods.

Carolyn does write about how important this is to a man above all else. A man will settle for a less than immaculate house and a gourmet dinner if it means that he gets that time of passion from his wife. While husbands need to learn about their wives, the reverse is true. Instead of just looking at him as a sex maniac, why not ask why your husband is this way? What does this mean to him? What does it mean when it’s not given? Can you make your husband feel rejected? How will he be encouraged?

I follow a number of Christian marriage blogs and I regularly see men saying they just don’t ask any more. They’ve been told no so many times that they don’t bother. This is really a shame, especially when Paul tells us about not withholding ourselves from one another and both of us belonging to the other. I often tell wives that if they want a major attitude improvement in their husband and see him be more willing to help around the house, do this. Seduce him for two weeks. See what happens.

The Mahaneys have given us a book that is simple, but the advice is very good. Men need to learn again to touch their wife’s heart before touching their body. Perhaps the lesson to the women would be the way to touch his heart IS to touch his body. Now if only both of you can do your part….

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Book Plunge: The Scarlet Virgins

What do I think of Rebecca Lemke’s book published by Anatole Publishing? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Let’s set aside some things we can agree on as Christians right at the start.

Purity is a good thing. We should all strive to be pure. Sex is a sacred thing. It should be saved for marriage. It is a beautiful gift of God. We should all wants to be pure and to save sex for marriage as God designed it.

Okay. That’s good. So what’s the problem?

Because Jesus would have agreed with the Pharisees that keeping the Law is a good thing, but He would not agree with how they saw the Law. He would not have agreed to added on rules. The Law was not meant to be a burden to the people.

Sometimes purity can become that.

Note that this is not saying purity is a burden in the sense of “I have to wait until marriage to have sex?!” This is instead saying that we are going to put a bunch of other rules around ourselves to make sure we are staying pure. To an extent, this is fine. It would be foolish to throw caution to the wind and say “I’m going to do whatever I want around the opposite sex because I am committed to purity.” We should be aware of temptation and our weakness to it. As a married man, I recently told a female neighbor that I could not take her to the gym because I would not drive alone with a woman who was not my wife or a close family member.

Lemke grew up in the Purity Culture. I can’t say that I did. Part of that could be that I grew up a man and was not aware of the way that women had to live their lives. Too many women are told that men are visual and they must not be stumbling blocks to men. This much is of course true. There is nothing wrong with dressing modestly. The problem is when it becomes such a rule as if “This skirt must go this high.” Sometimes a bra strap might be seen coming out on a girl’s top or she could show some cleavage. We could think of the way the Muslim culture treats women. We really don’t want to be seen that way.

There’s also the idea of how you need to avoid physical affection of any kind and heck, even having a crush can be a problem because you’re giving your heart to someone else. As a man nearly married for seven years, I had a number of crushes before I met my Allie and now my heart is for her and her alone. She’s not getting less of me because there was supposedly something left behind with another just because of a crush.

If you remember the book I Kissed Dating Good-Bye, this book is largely a response to that. I never did read it, but I saw a number of people who either loved it or hated it. Interestingly, recently the author has realized he spoke without knowledge and is even breaking from ministry to go to seminary, something he didn’t think too highly of.

In all of this, the number one goal is that we must avoid sex before marriage. Now, of course, we should, but we don’t want to be extreme. It’s not the case that just because a girl and a boy are talking in the parking lot together, that they’re going to immediately jump into his car and drive to his place for an afternoon of hot passionate sex. On a TV show, you can see a man and a woman meeting together and it’s automatically “Yep. We know what’s going to happen.” The man and the woman are both automatically fully in the mood every time. Often the message is that men are just great big walking hormones and the woman must learn how to protect herself around them and how to not arouse the beast because he can’t control himself.

I spoke about physical affection earlier. This is something that’s often seen as the first kiss at the altar movement. One can see why it is a touching thought, but I do not think it works well. This is a whole time of dating and engagement where you’re told physical affection is a big no-no, and then all of a sudden you’re supposed to pass from a kiss to full sex.

There are a number of women who have a hard time with this switch. (Many times, the guys don’t. We learn very quickly that this is something we can enjoy.) A woman has had her sexuality treated as something dirty and then when she is with her husband for the first time on her wedding night, it magically becomes pure and pristine and all her thinking switches instantly.

Sorry. Doesn’t happen, and there are many marriages that have struggled because of this and some have even apostasized.

Part of it is also we give a very negative message about sex with lip service paid to the joy of sex. I remember being in Bible College and hearing a sermon at my church during a Silver Ring Thing ceremony. The associate pastor got up to tell the teenagers about the importance of waiting until marriage. He said that if you have sex before marriage, it will be for selfish reasons. Okay. I can agree with that. He then went on to why they shouldn’t.

“Think of the shame and guilt you’ll feel. Think about what you’ll have to tell your spouse on your wedding night. You could get an STD. You could get pregnant.”

And I was thinking “Pastor. Maybe it’s just me, but those sound like selfish reasons too.”

There was never anything about why this is wrong. It was all about how you’d feel. No worldview of sex. No talk about the role of sex. There was I think one sentence dedicated to the joy of sex. That was it. As I was sitting back there listening, I was getting bored, and as I’ve said before, if you can talk about sex and a college guy is in the audience and getting bored, you’re doing it wrong.

Lemke’s book is one big on grace and forgiveness, and yet there’s no real hostility towards the Purity Culture movement. She understands these people mean well, and she applauds that. One can think of zeal but not in accordance with knowledge.

Lemke also deals with the idea of damaged goods and such. This is common in our culture where if a woman has sex before marriage, it is as if her value is automatically lowered. This can be especially hard if it is the result of abuse the woman had no control over. A woman who has sinned by having sex before marriage even if her fault is not irredeemable. She can work and still have a good and godly marriage.

If there were some things I’d like to change, she does talk about having a husband and why the wedding night was so hard. I found myself wondering how it is growing up in the culture she eventually came to have a husband. That would have been good to have explained.

She did write about the joy of sex in the end, but I would have liked to have seen more. We should have it in our culture that instead of secular TV shows having some supposed idea of sex that lures people in, they need to be looking at Christian marriages and know there is great sex going on behind the scenes and wanting to have that one day. One of the greatest honors I have had in my life was a friend getting married and getting in touch with me and saying that he wanted what I had and seeking my advice. Doing marriage well takes work and it’s good when others recognize it is being done.

Lemke’s book is an easy and quick read. It is one that I can recommend. We need purity, but we don’t need to be so extreme we make our own existence a burden.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Book Plunge: Cherish

What do I think about Gary Thomas’s book published by Zondervan? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Think back to your wedding. Okay? You got it in mind. Remember that promise you made? You promised to love your spouse always. Right? Yes. Of course, you did. You also promised to cherish them. What? You don’t remember that? Well, you did. So you say you’re covered anyway? Love and cherish are just synonyms?

Hardly.

You can love many many people and yet not cherish them. Your spouse is one person you are to cherish. Cherish entails treating them like they are a treasure, a one of a kind, a rare jewel, there is no one else like them. It includes love, but it is not just love. Cherish doesn’t mean you think the other person is perfect, but that you focus on the things that are good and be patient and forgiving with the sins that they struggle with knowing that you struggle with them as well.

Okay, guys. I hear you out there. I know what you men are saying. “I’m sure my wife understands that well, but I’m a man. If I go to all my buddies and say that my wife doesn’t cherish me, they’ll just laugh at me.” So what about we use another word? Would you like your wife to honor you? That sounds more like it, doesn’t it?

“My wife is to honor me? Hey. Does that mean I get more sex? Well, if that’s what speaks honor to you, then yes.”

“Hey! Sounds good, doesn’t it!”

“Yeah! It sure does! Nothing makes me feel honored like how my wife treats me under the sheets!”

“And you sir, are absolutely right. If that speaks honor to you, your wife should aim for that, but may I ask you, what are you doing back?”

“What?”

“You heard me. Look. I know about those pictures you’re looking at on your computer. I know that you’re checking out those other women on TV shows and at the mall. Do you think your wife notices? Do you think you can fully cherish her even if she doesn’t notice? Can you fully treat her like the one for you she is if your mind is filled with a multitude of other women?”

Perhaps marriages would be different then if both spouses did that. Think back to Adam and Eve. On a very traditional interpretation, there is just Adam and Eve. Adam sees Eve and knows that she is his and his alone and he gets to cherish her. She is so unique. Eve gets to see Adam and know that he is the man for her. He is the one to turn to. He is her rock.

Perhaps also you should watch your words to one another. Are your words speaking love and affirmation? It can be easy to let loose that zinger at the time. C.S. Lewis even once said that we could get a lot of credit to ourselves for not saying that zinger to our spouse that was on the tip of the tongue. It might have knocked out our spouse for the count and won us the argument, but it would have cost us a relationship.

And isn’t that another thing about cherishing? Cherishing has to be a lifestyle. Intimacy has to be built up by both people. Both people have to learn to make sacrifices. Once you marry, it is no longer just you. It is both of you together. If one person is failing, both are failing. If one person is succeeding, both are succeeding. In fact, there is only one area you and your spouse should truly compete in. That’s cherishing. Do each of you strive to be more cherishing to the other?

Gary Thomas’s book on this is a huge wake-up call. I went through and highlighted many such places. Sometimes I wish I had read the chapter that I read earlier. There is so much good in here and if we want to see marriage lived out properly in a culture trying to redefine it, then we need to be learning to people who cherish.

Treat your spouse as a treasure. Learn to give more than to get. See the other person as the unique individual they are. Remember those vows you made on your wedding day. Be a person of your word. You said you were going to cherish. Do it. Cherish.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

 

Book Plunge: Everyone Loves Sex, So Why Wait?

What do I think of Bryan Sands’s book published by Leafwood Publishers? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

For many young men, Bryan Sands would be a hero. He as a young teenager goes to see six young girls with his notepad to get a phone number. He gets the number of all six girls. Later he’s with one of his friends who knows one of these girls. This girl and another come over to be with the two friends. As you can, imagine, yes, Bryan and the girl have sex that night.

Yet for Bryan, something is empty about it. His friends do declare him a hero, but the girl wants a relationship and Bryan doesn’t really want that then. This made an impact on Bryan and led to him deciding on sexual faithfulness until he got married, which he did eventually with his wife Caz. (Might I add I found out that it was just a month before my Allie and I wed.)

So Bryan is now in ministry and serving to help other young people, especially with issues involving sex. At the same time, Bryan wants to be clear. Sex is a good. It’s a great good. Most of us know this. Before I got married, I saw sex as this great mystery. It was something that I knew I wanted immensely, and yet I could not put a finger on why, but I knew it was great. In many ways, I compare it to the Christian desire for heaven.

So if sex is so great and wonderful, why on Earth should we wait for it? We might wait to see that big movie until we have enough money or the time. Still, for most things, we don’t really wait. If you have something and you can do it now, why wouldn’t you?

Throughout the book Bryan argues that sex is not just a physical activity. It is a powerful emotional and psychological and spiritual experience. On the physical side, it does release chemicals that do lead to a bonding. I think many of my fellow men who are married understand this. Having sex with one’s wife somehow serves as a way of cementing the relationship. Take it out of that relationship and it leads to consequences.

Bryan also wants people to know that they have an immense worth. No one deserves to be treated as a sexual object and if anyone wants to enjoy sex in marriage, they are to enjoy that gift. Sex isn’t something dirty and it’s a horrid twist on a sacred action that it is used for evil in the form of pornography and sex trafficking. It is amazing how many people have had their lives devastated because they treated the sacred, sex, like it was something common.

Bryan ties this all in with biblical relevance throughout. He looks at our society that is so selfie-saturated and wants to put forward our best image. This is a way that sex becomes twisted as well as most of us want sex for ourselves instead of for the other. Again, ask the people who are married. Often the greatest joy they have is in knowing that they bring their spouse joy in sex. For a man especially, if he can be the hero in the bedroom, he’s the hero everywhere else. If he can’t be it there, then he’s not the hero anywhere else.

He also deals with the idea that sex and love are the same. In marriage, sex is an essential part and a great expression of love, but it itself is not the love. My way of thinking is that ideally, what should happen is that a couple in marriage grows in love together. That love will lead to more sex. More sex will lead to a greater love. The greater love leads to more sex. You get the picture.

Bryan’s book is a great read. It’s short enough that you can read it in a day or two if you want to. It is also a book that will be incredibly accessible to young people, who especially need the message of this book. I do wish a little bit more would have been said about the purpose of sex in marriage and how it serves husband and wife. We had testimonies of people who hurt their lives by the misuse of sex. It would be good to see another work with married couples who waited speaking about the way sex is a blessing to them and why they’re thankful they waited.

This is a great book and a hard one to put down. It is my hopes that a lot of youth pastors will pick this up and share it with their youth. Sex is one of those areas we have a lot of heat but very little light and Bryan’s book is a breath of fresh air.

In Christ,
Nick Peters