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

Whatever Happened To The Resurrection?

Have we forgotten the central Christian doctrine? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Last week, I was at a funeral for a small child and whenever I go to funerals, I often think about how much sadly Christianity is missing out on its central doctrine. You don’t hear talk about the resurrection at funerals. You hear plenty of talk about Heaven, but the resurrection is absent. When I got up to speak, I made resurrection absolutely central to what I said.

I gave two contrasts. I said that if Christianity is not true, then we can believe that the death of this child is just something we don’t like in a chaotic and accidental world, that she is dead and that is it. Game over. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. We can create a bunch of little joys for ourselves despite this, but they won’t matter because the universe will die itself anyway and all will be for naught.

However, if the resurrection is true, then this is not the end of the story. This girl will rise again. It means that death is in the process of being conquered once and for all and we can all participate in the Kingdom.

Unfortunately, I see the ignoring of the resurrection often at funerals. When my own grandmother died, I was one of three assigned to speak at her funeral. Her pastor went before me and said, “Right now, she is experiencing the power of the resurrection!” I wanted to say “I’m sorry Pastor, but I’m looking and I’m pretty sure I see a dead body right there.” No. She will experience the resurrection, but not right now. The resurrection is not just a spiritual reality, but a physical one.

Go forward a couple of years and I have an aunt who dies. I’m at her funeral and after the pastor speaks about how he came back from his vacation to do this funeral (Who cares Pastor?), he then goes on and on and never once mentions resurrection. After awhile, he then says we have that blessed hope that Paul spoke of in 1 Thess. 4.

I know this passage! I’m getting excited! Say it! Say it! Say it!

“That we will see our loved ones again in Heaven.”

I slumped in my seat defeated yet again. That’s not what 1 Thess. 4 is about. 1 Thess. 4 is about the resurrection. That was the great hope. Why don’t pastors get this?

I wish it was just funerals, but it isn’t. Scroll through Facebook. If you see something about asking if people are saved, it becomes “They won’t go to Heaven when they die!” Go to your average church service. What happens in the sinner’s prayer? “Forgive me of my sins so I can go to Heaven when I die.”

Whatever happened to the resurrection?

Some of you might think it hasn’t gone away. After all, I am in the business of defending the resurrection. My father-in-law is one of the best at it. His mentor is the best at it. Christian apologetics today emphasizes the resurrection. It’s not forgotten.

Yet even then, I wonder if we have let it sink in. You see, we often say that if Jesus rose from the dead, Christianity is true, which I agree with, but then we don’t ask “And what does that mean?” Was the resurrection just one really awesome trick God pulled off to show what He can do?

No. Jesus’s life was based around a series of claims, mainly to be the Messiah of the people of Israel. This is why understanding the Old Testament is so important. We can often give a Gospel presentation where we start with Adam and Eve, good, and then skip straight from the fall to Jesus, as if the flood, the calling of Abraham, Moses, and the formation of the Kingdom of Israel is this superfluous part in the middle that we can just dispense with.

So what does it mean when the Messiah has come? It means the Kingdom of God has come. God is going to rule His Kingdom. What does that mean? Do we think God is building up a Kingdom here made of those who bow the knee to Him only to just do away with everything in the end and zipline us to Heaven?

No. This place is not a mistake. I do hold that one day the Earth will be reborn as it were undergoing its own resurrection, but I don’t think we will ever truly abandon it. Look at Revelation 21. Do you see the New Jerusalem going up to Heaven? No. You see it coming to Earth. It’s the marriage of Heaven and Earth.

What are some implications? For one thing, your body matters. One of the great heresies that first came to Christianity was Gnosticism which held that matter was some wicked evil thing. Christianity disagreed with this profusely because Jesus, who was and is fully God, lived in a human body, and I would contend still does.

Sometimes skeptics will look at our rules about sex and say “God sure seems to have a strange interest in what I do with my body.” Yes, and so do you. It’s no big deal supposedly where one puts their genitalia, until someone gets raped. Then it is a big deal. We all know it. A complete stranger grabs a random girl and kisses her? Okay. Sexual harrassment. The girl could be shaken for a bit, but she will be fine ultimately. If he rapes her, it’s something entirely different.

Christianity had to deal with this too. Some people said that sex should be avoided because it imprisons innocent souls in evil matter. Others said, sex makes no big deal because the body isn’t a big deal period. Christianity said both were wrong. There was nothing evil in being in matter, and that what you do with the body does matter. Sex was not an evil, but it was a good to be controlled and used in the right time and place, namely between a man and a woman in the covenant of marriage.

This also has something to say to ecology. This world is meant to be our home and a place for future generations. We should take care of it. This is the world God created. It’s not readily disposable. It’s to be stewarded. Now that doesn’t mean I embrace the environmentalist movement. Not at all. If one wants to help the environment, I recommend working with the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation.

This also means that indeed Israel matters. When Paul writes in 1 Cor. 10, he tells the people that our ancestors went through the Red Sea. For the new Christians, Israel’s history was also their history. What happened to the Jews then mattered and we Christians should know about it. If all you understand is the New Testament, you essentially have the end of the story without seeing how it begins.

Of course, we can’t deny that this means that death is not the end, but it’s not that we float off to a disembodied existence and stay that way forevermore. Let’s also not say anything like that we become angels or something of that sort. We don’t. Angels are not your fallen relatives that have gone on. Humans and angels are different creatures.

What happens is we get raised to a newness of life. We overcome all forms of death, spiritual and physical. God does not grant the devil a victory. He does not give up on this creation. He made it to dwell with us in it forever and that is what He is going to do. If someone doesn’t want to participate in that, that is their choice.

Please people. I urge you to not lose sight of the resurrection. It is our central doctrine and it means a lot more than that Christianity is true. It means a lot more than even this short blog post can say. A whole book could be written on this kind of topic. The resurrection is not just joy for the future. It’s joy for right now.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

 

Book Plunge: Paul The Ancient Letter Writer

What do I think of Jeffrey Weima’s book published by Baker Academic? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Writing letters nowadays is a lost art. Very few people do anything like that with email being available now. In the digital age, it’s hard to think about what it was like in prior ages, especially in an oral age. When you wrote a letter, you had to use few words and say much with those words. It was timely and expensive.

Paul in writing would have to be a master and demonstrate masterful rhetoric to get his point across. Unfortunately, in our society we see that as a negative where rhetoric has in fact become a word to refer to talk without substance. In Paul’s day, it would mean making a great substance for a talk using keywords.

Also, we have to understand the mood of the day. Was Paul engaging in emotional blackmail to Philemon? Were Paul’s greetings or closings just throwaway material? Can there really be anything in a simple benediction or introduction? What difference does it make to list the names of people you were with as you start or introduce a letter?

Fortunately, we have Jeffrey Weima’s book to help with this. Weima goes through each section of a letter wrestling with the implications of what is meant. Of course, no thorough analysis of long letters like Romans or 1 Corinthians are available and we can only touch some of the¬†letters like Galatians or 2 Thessalonians. Still, what there is dealt with should be grabbed onto.

There is also looking as I said at the introduction and closings. For instance, Galatians 1 starts with saying “And all the brothers and sisters with me.” Is Paul just being friendly here? Nope. Paul is pulling weight. He is saying he is not just a lone wolf apostle. He is saying that he is backed by all of the brothers and sisters there. Not just some. All of them. Immediately the Galatian hearers would know that if they challenged Paul back, it would be a challenge against not just him, but several others.

When Paul lists who he is with, is there something to this? Yes. In his closings, Paul often makes some final appeals and usually has his autograph statement to show that it is his letter. Compare the names in Colossians with those in Philemon. Is Paul again pulling weight?

We often look at the body and can miss some of the main points Paul makes because we don’t think the way Paul did. We miss ideas like chiasms for instance, such as Paul speaking about sending Timothy in 1 Thessalonians. We also miss that if he sends Timothy, it’s a big deal, since Timothy is practically his right-hand man. We can miss that in the correspondence in 2 Thessalonians, Paul seven times refers to his audience as “brothers and sisters.” Let’s not get so caught up in the argument that we miss underlying points.

Weima wraps this up in the end by looking at Philemon as a case study. It’s a good and short letter and everything he mentioned is in it. When you finish it, you’ll get more out of Philemon than you ever did before.

This work will give you plenty to think about. I would have liked seeing some more interaction with the idea of secretaries. If we say Paul wrote the letter, just how much did he write. Was this the master craftsmanship of a secretary or of Paul? After all, we know some of his letters, and quite likely all, were written with the help of secretaries. Just how much did Paul influence?

This is a good book still that you will want to add to your library. It’s a wonderful look at the Greco-Roman rhetorical style for writing. Your reading of Paul’s letters will never be the same.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

A Look At Death

What happens when someone crosses over? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday, my wife received word that an older friend of hers had died of cancer after a long battle. This was a friend I had never got to meet and a friend who also valued Allie and if there was something of Allie this friend wanted, it would have been to have a husband. This friend will not get to have that dream realized as she passed away at 2 P.M. yesterday.

Now frankly, I’m not the best comforter in those times of need. For someone like myself, it can be difficult to have that emotional connection. Were things the other way around, this is the area my wife would excel at. She is quite good at connecting with people emotionally. I am not. I much more excel at connecting with people intellectually and rationally.

So let’s look at the topic of death. Too often, I think we forget what death really means. Death means that this side of eternity, there will be no interaction. You will not get to hear their voice again (Save recordings and such). You will not get to talk to them. You will not see their face. (Save pictures.) You will not share a laugh or a joke. Nothing ever again.

It’s a pretty bleak picture.

A lot of times, we say things that are meant to console. They don’t.¬†In fact, if we were being honest, nothing we say could console. Perhaps we do it also to relieve our own stress at not being able to help a loved one. No doubt, we mean well, but everything we say is empty, and frankly, it should be. It shouldn’t be that we hear something and think “Why oh yes! Thank you! I’m no longer grieving over this loved one!”

In some ways, you will spend the rest of your life grieving. It depends on how much the person meant to you. There are many people that I’m not consciously thinking about every day. Still, when I see something about them, I remember and I have some sadness. I think right now of my friend Gretchen Coburn and Jonathan Dileo. (Jonathan’s charity can be found here.)

The closer the person was to you, the more you will grieve. Lose a friend? You’re going to grieve. Lose a best friend? You’re going to grieve even more. Lose a spouse? That will be intense grieving. I will not dare to speak yet of how intense it is to bury a child, though I have known people who have done that. It is said that burying a parent is losing the past, a spouse the present, and a child the future.

Death is something we’d all like to do without.

And this is what makes Christianity so important.

Often when Christians talk about death, we often make the mistake. The whole idea is “I wanna go to Heaven when I die.” For that kind of thinking, it’s like the Earth is an afterthought. It’s not really needed here. The whole idea of “This world is not my home. I’m just passing through.”

No. God made this world to be your home.

Now does that mean something doesn’t happen when a person dies? Not at all. If I am hearing about a Christian, all I will say is that they are in the presence of Jesus. They are not there in their bodies, which means there is something missing still, but they are in the presence of Jesus. The body though is not the accident. God made us bodied creatures.

Gnosticism was one of the first great heresies of the early church and it was a highly dominant view and one benefit it had was it dispensed with the body. Matter was wicked and evil. No need of it. Christianity said no. Why? Because Jesus really lived in a body. He wasn’t acting. Jesus really rose from the dead in a body. It’s the real deal.

This was the harder route, but it was the route they took because they had to be true to the facts. This changes our view of everything. If the body is good and matter is good, it should work with how we handle issues relating to the environment, issues related to sex, issues related to life, and issues related to death.

For the Christian then, we can mourn when someone dies. In fact, Paul tells us in 1 Thess. 4 that we do mourn. Indeed. We do. We do not mourn like those who have no hope. If our mourning is exactly like those who are non-Christians, then we have not treated our Christianity seriously.

The resurrection changes everything. The resurrection shows that death is not the final outcome of us all. It shows that even death can be defeated and reversed and in fact, so can all of the evil in our lives. If history was a symphony, the resurrection of Jesus would be the moment where everything starts to come alive with a grand crescendo waiting the final moment of the return of Christ when all is made right again.

This is also why you need to know the reality of the resurrection. The resurrection does change everything. It was the belief that changed the world and overtook the Roman Empire.

I wonder if it could do that today if we gave it the same attention and made it as central as the early church did?

In Christ,

Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Called To Love

What do I think of Carl Anderson and Jose Granados’s book published by Doubleday? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Called To Love is an in-depth look at Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. Now as readers know, I am not Catholic, but I do think there is much Catholic wisdom out there and I’m definitely interested in researching topics relating to our understanding of sexuality. This was a topic I did a lot of thinking on long before I got married and now that I am married, I can say experience brings to light a whole new way of looking at the equation.

The book starts with a look at the body and sees the body as an extension of the self, the way that you interact with the world. It is by your body that your presence is best made known to the world. Why do we say people like my grandmother, for instance, are no longer with us? Because their bodies are not here or they are absent from their bodies. In the case of a marriage, the body is the gift that each spouse brings to the other. It’s easy to look at your spouse and treat them as an object alone, such as a breadwinner or security or a household servant and even as a sexual object, but it’s something else to see them as not just a body but as a person dwelling in a body and realize that of all the gifts they give you, the greatest gift they give you is their body. It is not their body as an object, but them as a person and saying “I give you all that I am.”

Love for the other person then is being thankful that that other person exists. It is not just they exist for your sake, but you exist for theirs as well. When true spousal love takes place, the two spouses want to bring about the best of the other person and many times, this comes out in sex. Sex is the place of ultimate sacrifice and it is the reminder that we are made for connection. We are made to first be connected to our creator, but it is in a powerful connection to a person of the opposite sex, that we experience the totally unique love of the other. We experience someone who is so radically different from us and that person receives us as we are. In fact, this sexual love, especially since it has the ability to bring about new life, can be seen as the closest mirror we have to the Trinity.

Of course, this also ties in with the person of Jesus who came to show us how to live and by His embodiment, it is shown that the body is a good thing. This is further shown by His resurrection which is an indication of our future resurrection. The resurrection says we are made to dwell in bodies and that our bodies are good and holy things and we need to treat them like that. That God Himself becomes incarnate in a body should tell us that there is nothing wrong with having a body and today, we have God the Holy Spirit dwelling in us to show us that in this way God is also indwelling in a temple today and we should treat our bodies like that temple.

While I did not agree with a lot of the Catholic doctrine in the book, I can say that as a Protestant, it did get me more appreciative of the body and taking it seriously and I hope Protestants do catch on to this kind of reality. We do far too little talk on what sexuality is and how it matters and we pay far too little attention to our bodies and do not realize the grand place that they have been given in creation. Through any number of means, we treat our bodies just like they were machines or other purely material objects, when they are not. God did not make a mistake when He gave us our bodies. He meant for us to treasure them and use them in love. The great love is following Romans 12 and presenting our bodies as living sacrifices. The earthly side of that is often going to our spouses and giving our bodies to them self-sacrificially as well.

We were Called To Love. Let’s fulfill our calling.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Defend The Faith 2015 Day Two

What has been happening at Defend The Faith? Let’s Plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Today has been an active day at the Defend The Faith conference hosted by New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. We started with a talk from Tim McGrew on the evidential value of the Book of Acts, which was certainly an eye opening talk. Next we followed with a talk from Rob Bowman on the travesty of an article from Newsweek. Let’s just say that it was like using a tank to squash a slug. Again, these talks will all be online for a limited time after the conference for free so please take advantage of that time!

After a lunch, we went to hear a talk first from David Calhoun about the role that films can play in apologetics. I did realize exactly how out of the loop I am about so many great movies, excepting when the topic of Harry Potter came up seeing as I know the series very well as a fan and was able to make my own contributions at that point. There are definitely some movies I wouldn’t mind watching now.

We followed that up by going to hear Keith Loftin give a case for mind/body substance dualism. I found this one to be quite technical but quite good as well. I was surprised to see NDEs not covered well and I did ask about them which got us to discussing the research of Gary Habermas, who I must highlight because he will in fact be speaking tomorrow.

After that, many of us who are speakers got to go out to dinner together at a nice seafood restaurant. I did order a shrimp platter but there was no way I could go through all of it. Allie got herself some pasta. Meanwhile, I just got to enjoy great conversation with Rob Bowman, Rhyne Putman, Tom Gilson, Fred Smith, Tim McGrew, Bob Stewart, and so many others who were there. I considered it a real privilege. The people running this conference are so kind and generous. Allie and I have felt like honored guests.

After that, Tim and Allie and I went back to his apartment. Why? Because Tim is wanting to teach me Bayes Theorem, especially because it seems to be so misused, especially by a certain prominent blogger that is popular amongst atheists. I’ve got a lot of work cut out for me, but Tim is a really encouraging guy and takes the time to explain and says to not worry about mistakes. They will happen.

We went back to the seminary then to hear James Walker of Watchman Fellowship give a great talk on worldviews and different perspectives people hold on religion. Watchman Fellowship also has available all their profiles that they’ve written on various topics of religion available for purchase as a file you can carry on your mobile device, which could be quite helpful to get.

After that, Allie and I went back to Tim’s apartment for a little while where he had a few people there just discussing apologetics and how important it was. If only we could get more youth ministers especially to see the need imagine what a difference we could make in the world and it was wonderful to see young people really eager to know how to defend their faith.

Well that’s all it’s going to be for tonight. Allie was starting to fall asleep while we visited Tim and not because he’s boring. He’s not. It’s just because she was so tired and frankly, I am too. Tomorrow is my day to speak so I hope you all will pray for me that I will give an effective talk that will bolster up the Gospel.

In Christ,
Nick Peters