Book Plunge: Love Thy Body

What do I think of Nancy Pearcey’s book published by Baker Books? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Nancy Pearcey’s book is a must-read. It is a nuclear missile of sorts going into secularism and a powerful argument that needs to be dealt with. At the same time, it’s a simple argument. It starts with a basic premise that all of us can immediately see and goes from there.

That premise is your body is something that shows who you are. If you want to know how you look publicly to the world, all of it comes through your body. We might say we live in a world that values the body. After all, you can find fitness videos to no end at the video store and there are TV programs about weight loss and everything else related to the body.

It can still be that we don’t really value the body that much. We can idolize it without really understanding it. Do we really care about the body itself or about the image we portray with the body? Is the body something truly good in its own right?

Pearcey uses this claim to get to arguments about numerous areas. You will find the hook-up culture, living together before marriage, abortion, pornography, homosexuality, and transgenderism addressed in this. All of this leads to giving more power to the state. If only she had written about something that people are talking about today….

Pearcey says that in each of these items, we are making a false statement about the body. Sex is a powerful expression two people make with their bodies for one another. It is really giving all that you can to another person. We speak about it as a grand finale. We go all the way. We hit a home run. We score.

Instead, our culture often reduces sex to just a hobby. We have this idea that you can have sex with no strings attached, but you can’t. Your body knows what you’re doing and that’s why bonding chemicals are released during the act of sex, including chemicals for a man. Your body is forming a bond with this other person in the act of sex.

Porn does the same kind of thing training your body to respond to a lie. The body you see on the other end is not a real body, but it is more fake. It is the result of a lot of make-up and such made for just that occasion. The person on the other side of that camera doesn’t care about you. They don’t even know that you exist. You will not get the joy of undressing them before your eyes and getting to run your hands over their body yourself. There’s a reason why many men today are in their 20’s and having to take Viagra. A real woman can’t get them to respond any more because porn makes them need more and more.

Women struggle enough as it is with self-image in the area of physical beauty. It doesn’t help them that they now think they have to struggle with countless women seen in porn. I say this also realizing that women today will also watch porn and will face similar struggles though different in some ways I’m sure to the men.

Abortion shows this struggle as well. Abortion downplays the body in that science is not the decider of whether that is truly a human. An artificial category is made up so that something is human, but it is not a person. There is no scientific test for such a thing. It is an ad hoc claim made to justify the killing of the innocent human person in the womb.

Homosexuality is also such a case of lying with one’s body. It is saying that one has the body of a man or a woman, but they will deny this. They will instead treat their body like it is that of a woman or a man. Again, the problem is a downplaying of the body and it is because feelings take precedence. One feels a certain way so forget what the body says. It is overruled by the emotions.

Transgenderism really demonstrates this. One believes a lie so much that one is willing to have one’s own body mutilated rather than work on changing the feelings. We live in an age where one can deny the body so much that one will undergo surgery to make it subservient to the feelings.

All of this also gives more power to the state. The state has to step in and change things. Marriage is no longer about a physical union, but it is about the feelings the people have for one another. Under many a secular definition, two roommates living together can be married even though they have no romantic feelings towards one another and will never have sex together.

The state will step in and redefine terms and then it will have to defend those terms and those who resist are enemies of the state. The ultimate target is the family. The family is a threat to the government since the family does not depend on the government for its existence. It’s a pre-political reality. The charges are serious and the cause is serious.

Get Pearcey’s book. Read it. Learn it. Open your eyes to what is going on around you. Pearcey’s book is a must-read for anyone interested in debating in any of these areas.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 1/27/2018: Nancy Pearcey

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

We live in an age where people are really enthused about their bodies. You can turn on TV and see many fitness shows. You can go to the library or the DVD store and you can find plenty of fitness videos. Of course, we live in an age also of rampant sexuality which means that we really want to appreciate those bodies all the more.

In this, we have a book come out called Love Thy Body. Obviously, this is a book about working out and taking care of yourself. No? It isn’t? What is it about? It’s about in an age where people claim to love their bodies and be fascinated with them, we really don’t listen to them and pay attention to them. With our fitness regimes, we treat the body as fundamentally important. With our philosophies, we treat it as highly secondary. Perhaps it could be that we don’t really love our bodies.

This plays out in a number of areas in our lives. It plays out in abortion, pre-marital sex and the concept of living together prior to marriage, homosexuality, and transgenderism. (You kind of wish the book could have talked about something relevant to today don’t you?) In all of these areas, we deny the truth of the body and put that truth below something else, most notably, our feelings for the most part.

I’m very pleased to have on the author of this book. This is a lady with a razor sharp mind and as I have gone through the book I have often asked, “Why is it that I didn’t put two and two together like this before?” The book I really think is a bombshell on the whole culture war and one that should not be ignored. The author is Nancy Pearcey. So who is she?

According to her bio:

Nancy Pearcey is the author of the newly released Love Thy Body: Answering Hard Questions about Life and Sexuality. She is professor and scholar in residence at Houston Baptist University and editor at large of the Pearcey Report. Her earlier books include The Soul of ScienceSaving Leonardo,Finding Truth, and two ECPA Gold Medallion Award Winners: Total Truth and (coauthored with Harold Fickett and Chuck Colson) How Now Shall We Live? Hailed in The Economist as “America’s pre-eminent evangelical Protestant female intellectual,” Pearcey has spoken at universities such as Princeton, Stanford, USC, and Dartmouth.

I hope you’ll be listening to this show and I hope this is a book you’ll also want to get your hands on. Pearcey gives some powerful arguments that will help with debates you get into concerning homosexuality, transgenderism, abortion, and pre-marital sex. Not only that, she often writes with a pastoral heart on the need for compassion for people struggling with many of these areas. Please be watching and please also consider going on iTunes and leaving behind a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast. It’s always good to know that you are enjoying the show.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Where Science and Gnosticism Meet

Do these two contradictory views have anything in common? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Gnosticism was one of the first great heresies of Christianity. Since the time of Plato, the material world had been downplayed in comparison to the immaterial world. Gnosticism continued this and it had a real problem with Christianity. Christianity held that God became incarnate in a body. Gnosticism was the view that all of matter was evil. When it met Christianity, it tried to say Jesus came to set us free from the lesser evil god who created matter and that lesser evil god was the God of the Old Testament.

Today, we have a movement that seems to be quite different. This is the idea that science is the supreme gateway to truth and science studies the material world. The material world is the real one and we need to get past any mention of anything that is so-called supernatural. (I question the use of the term)

I have been reading Nancy Pearcey’s excellent book Love Thy Body and started thinking about this. I can’t claim credit for everything then as her writing has been something that got my mind thinking about this. There will be a review of the book when I’m done and she is going to be on my show later this month.

Interestingly, where all of these meet is always connected with sex in some way. At this point, many of our friends in the sciences suddenly start to deny science. Let’s take a look at how.

Abortion is one of the first ones. If we look at the scientific evidence of what is in the womb, we have a human being. However, this is something very inconvenient for many people since it interferes with free sex and other such things, so something has to be done. Well, it might be a human, but it’s not a person. Scientific basis for the difference between a human being and a human person? It doesn’t exist. All of a sudden, many of our skeptical friends promoting abortion are interested in metaphysics and philosophy.

The next area is in homosexuality. You don’t have to be a super genius to tell that the man and the woman go together sexually. Simply put, A goes into B very well. Yet once again, we have an anti-scientific mindset going on here. Now I have no problem with people wanting to do research to see if there is anything genetic that leads to homosexuality or a proclivity to it, but there is one problem and one that Pearcey brings out very well.

When a person abandons a straight orientation and goes to a homosexual one, they are said to have found their true selves. Keep in mind that when doing this, they can sometimes leave behind a spouse and kids in tears and broken, but they do it anyway. This is looked at with applause as the person has realized who they really are. If a person ever abandons a homosexual orientation for a straight one or is a homosexual but lives married to someone of the opposite sex, they are said to loathe themselves and be denying themselves. Never are they celebrated as having found their true selves.

Question. What is the scientific test for the true self? Answer. There isn’t one. How is it known? It is based on how the person feels and on the reigning paradigm of the moment.

Despite all of this, I really consider the last one the most bizarre.

Now we get to the transgender movement. Often in apologetics, I find it amazing the things that one has to defend that one never thought they would have to defend. A few years ago I was stunned that we now have to actually convince people marriage is between a man and a woman. Today, we have to convince them that the man and the woman really are the man and the woman. The sign of bigotry today is to say that a man is actually a man.

In all other cases, we could look at the body and see how it works, but even here, we can just look and see what the body is. All the evidence that is physical for someone says that their DNA is male (or female) and their body is that of a male. This is the true scientific evidence. Unfortunately, all of this is denied. Why? The feelings contradict.

When these two contradict, one will have to be worked on and even if never fully altered, it will need to come under the control of the other. It will either be the body that determines the identity and we change the feelings, or it will be the feelings that determine the identity and we change the body. It is quite amazing that many in the scientific community, particularly internet atheists, think that the feelings are where the person’s true identity lies and you must change all the material reality to fit their feelings.

In this, they are like the Gnostics of old. We could say that transgenderism might be nothing new. It is just an old heresy wrapped up in new terminology and presented in a new way. Deny the reality of matter and go with the immaterial. The person’s feelings reign supreme.

Where does this end? Who knows. It was bizarre enough to redefine marriage, but now a person’s feelings are given more and more precedence and once that starts, I really don’t know how that will end.

Keep in mind, none of this says anything about how we treat such people in itself. People who are struggling with these issues do need to be treated with love and compassion. However, they also need to be worked with to accept reality. One will never have good results if they try to go against reality.

It’s also interesting that Christians that hold to a biblical view on all of these are the ones that are going with the science and yet, we’re seen as bigots for doing that. Could it possibly be that those who want to champion science are just extremely selective where they want to champion it? Could it be some really aren’t interested in following the evidence where it leads?

How we deal with this is what Pearcey tells us to do. Love thy body. The body is not an evil thing. It is a gift to be treasured and cherished. This is especially so since in Christianity, it is the temple of the Holy Spirit and God Himself became incarnated in a body.

Consider this thought. Suppose that Jesus is crucified and dies and is buried. The tomb is found empty on Sunday, but instead, Jesus is now appearing as a woman named Joanna. This would be something unusual, but I don’t think we could call it Christianity anymore. It would deny that there is something essential to the body. It can be changed to be whatever you want. It would bring into question the notion of identity. Was this truly Jesus? Is the fact that He was a man something accidental to who he is as a person or is the identity something that can be changed?

Throughout the incarnation, Jesus was Jesus and the body that went down came up again. Yes, it was new and glorified, but it was still the body of Jesus. So it is for us. Our bodies are not accidents. They are the first line of evidence we have of who we are. Start with the feelings and you can justify most any belief. Start with the body and you’re limited to reality.

I think I’ll go with reality.

I have no wish to be a science-denier.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

 

 

 

 

What Are Our Churches Teaching?

Are we really being equipped in our churches? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Recently on my show, I interviewed Clinton Wilcox, a pro-life speaker. He spoke about how if the church got really serious, we could end abortion. This was in the middle of a discussion about why this kind of topic is not normally talked about in churches. I realize there are some that do teach on such serious topics, but the majority I am afraid do not, at least in America.

You see, I can easily predict what you’re hearing in churches most often. Here’s how you deal with guilt. Here’s how you get along with your neighbor. Here’s how you become a better spouse. Nothing wrong with these messages to an extent, but they’re also nothing really unusual to the church. You can get a lot of these from self-help books.

What you can’t get from those is the Gospel. I mean more than just the forgiveness of sins, as great as that is, but also what difference does Christianity make and why is it true? These are questions that are asked every day in our culture. All we are doing often is presenting Christianity as if God is a means to be a better person or a means to get to Heaven.

Let’s talk about some examples. There’s a saying that one in three men in the church struggle with pornography. If you’re a man and you look to the right at church and see a man and he’s okay and to the left and see another man and he’s okay, you could be in trouble. A number of pastors even struggle with pornography. Question. When was the last time you heard a sermon on the sin of pornography and overcoming it?

Along those lines, we live in a culture where more and more young people are living together before they get married. Even older people getting divorced now are doing that. Question. When was the last time you heard a sermon on a Christian view on sex and marriage and why it matters and how you know it’s true?

Go even further and you have issues of homosexuality and transgenderism. This is being spoken of on the news most every day. So what of it? When was the last time you heard a sermon that tackled these issues?

Some could say that with abortion, some pastors could be scared because some women in the congregation have had abortions. Sure. You teach it anyway. Of course, how you teach it matters. A good pastor when teaching will indeed preach on the wickedness and evil of sin and won’t sugarcoat abortion. Yet at the same time, he will teach the awesomeness and greatness of grace and that healing and forgiveness are available for all.

What about other belief systems. It used to be that most people would never encounter an atheist. Now most all of us encounter them and if we don’t, we certainly see them in the media. Are you being told why you should believe that God exists? What difference does it make that He does? Are you being told about the historicity of the New Testament?

What about other belief systems. Now this could depend on your area to be fair. If you are a pastor in Utah, you had better be informed and preaching on Mormonism. It might not be the same in the suburbs of Detroit, but you do find whatever your congregation is most likely to encounter and speak on it.

All of this is simply discipleship. It’s helping us learn not just what we are to do but why we believe we do what we do. Do we do good just to do good? Is Christianity just about being a good person?

We live in an age where and more of our youth are going to college and falling away and more and more people are encountering objections they can’t answer. The church meanwhile is just becoming a social club. You go on Sundays because, well, that’s just what you do. It’s more of a tradition than an actual commitment to Christ.

Yet what if what Clinton said is true. What if we could end abortion if all the churches in America got serious? Is it worth it? Is it worth you getting serious? It’s great to have goals you want your church to accomplish, but what do you want to do yourself even if the church doesn’t go along?

Maybe you should do that.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Deeper Waters Podcast 12/23/2017: Rosaria Butterfield

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

Many of us know someone like this. It’s the person you know that is hard to reach. No. They’re impossible to reach. Might as well forget about it. This person has every reason in the world to not come to Christianity and nothing you say will ever be able to persuade them.

Sometimes, that Saul does become a Paul.

My guest this week was an unlikely convert. She was a Ph.D. professor and highly educated living with a lesbian partner and actively writing against Christianity. However, after a pastor got in touch with her, things started to change. Today, she is a devout Christian and a pastor’s wife. She will be my guest this week and due to limited time, for only half an hour, but we will make the most of it. Her name is Rosaria Butterfield.

So who is she?

According to her bio:

Rosaria Champagne Butterfield, a former tenured professor of English and women’s studies at Syracuse University, converted to Christ in 1999 in what she describes as a train wreck. Her memoir The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert chronicles that difficult journey. Rosaria is married to Kent, a Reformed Presbyterian pastor in North Carolina, and is a homeschool mother, author, and speaker.

 

Raised and educated in liberal Catholic settings, Rosaria fell in love with the world of words. In her late twenties, allured by feminist philosophy and LGBT advocacy, she adopted a lesbian identity. Rosaria earned her Ph.D. from Ohio State University, then served in the English department and women studies program at Syracuse University from 1992 to 2002. Her primary academic field was critical theory, specializing in queer theory. Her historical focus was 19th century literature, informed by Freud, Marx, and Darwin. She advised the LGBT student group, wrote Syracuse University’s policy for same-sex couples, and actively lobbied for LGBT aims alongside her lesbian partner.

 

In 1997, while Rosaria was researching the Religious Right “and their politics of hatred against people like me,” she wrote an article against the Promise Keepers. A response to that article triggered a meeting with Ken Smith, who became a resource on the Religious Right and their Bible, a confidant, and a friend. In 1999, after repeatedly reading the Bible in large chunks for her research, Rosaria converted to Christianity. Her first book, The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, details her conversion and the cataclysmic fallout—in which she lost “everything but the dog,” yet gained eternal life in Christ.

 

Rosaria’s second book, Openness Unhindered: Further Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert on Sexual Identity and Union with Christ, addresses questions of sin, identity, and repentance that she often encounters during speaking engagements. She discourages usage of the term “gay Christian,” and she disputes “conversion therapy,” in part because heterosexual sin is no more sanctified than homosexual sin. Her heart’s desire is for people to put the hands of the hurting into the hands of the Savior, who equips us to walk and grow in humility.

 

Rosaria is zealous for hospitality, loves her family, cherishes dogs, and enjoys coffee.

Like I said, we’re only going to have half an hour of Dr. Butterfield’s time. We’ll be discussing her conversion, her life now, and what she has to say to the church. How can we be more effective with what we say? How should we approach the homosexual community? How now shall we live?

I hope you’ll be watching for this interview and please go and leave a positive review of the show on iTunes.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Beauty, Order, and Mystery

What do I think of Gerald Hiestand and Todd Wilson’s book published by IVP? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This book is about a Christian view of human sexuality based on a pastor’s conference on the topic. At the outset, I think it’s awesome that pastors are meeting among themselves and having serious talks on these matters. Now if only we could convince those pastors in the pulpit to start also talking about this material to their parishioners.

The book is a series of essays each dealing with a specific topic. Not just marital sexuality is discussed, but also homosexuality and transgenderism. How is the church to deal with these kinds of issues today? Each of the writings goes in-depth in making the case that it does.

Wesley Hill’s is one that I want to touch on. Wesley Hill is a celibate homosexual Christian who is an assistant professor at the Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pennsylvania. Hill wants to remind us that not everyone who identifies as a homosexual or someone on that spectrum has some innate hatred for Christianity. Many of them would like to be Christians. Of course, there are some that are anti-Christians, but we should not paint with a broad brush without knowing the person first.

Hill’s essay answers the question of who do homosexuals love. He argues against the idea that marriage should be redefined and then the answer is a really simple one. A homosexual should love their neighbor as themselves. Sex is not the only way to love someone as we all know.

Joel Willitts essay was especially moving as he deals with the dark side of sexuality. For him, it is more of a curse than it is a blessing and this is said even as he is a married man. Willits writes about being abused when he was growing up and how that has damaged his sexuality from that time forward. We should all realize that when we’re in the church, there are a number of people who have been hurt sexually.

Willitts takes a look at addiction and pain then and I shared many of his thoughts with my own wife. He suggests looking at addiction not so much as a curse, but more of an indicator that something is wrong. There is a problem that needs to be worked out. It doesn’t mean that you give in to the addiction. It means you see what it is pointing to and work on the root of the problem.

Daniel Brendsel also has a chapter on selfies and how the world lives in a day and age where we too often market ourselves and think that knowing someone on Facebook tells you all that you need to know. At times, the selfies have got so extreme that there have been a number of fatalities. The other dark side is that a lot of teenagers are doing what’s called sexting, where they’re sending sexually explicit photos of themselves. Of course, it’s more women who are doing this, but I think this is not because women are more perverted, but because women are by far, even to other women I don’t doubt, much more appealing to the eye.

This touches on pornography which is talked about a number of times. Pornography has damaged our culture so much that women can often think they have to do something like sexting to compete. Many men are no longer turned on by real women because they have been looking too much at fake women in pornography.

The book ends with Matt O’Reilly’s essay on what makes sex beautiful. I have to say that while I do agree with the great theology in the essay and he brought out aspects I had not yet considered, I found this one a bit disappointing. Yes. Sex is very theological, but why does the average man on the street think that sex is just so awesome and the woman’s body especially is so beautiful? It is not because he is thinking about theology, but because something in the sex itself beyond what it points to. I think this is something the church needs to seriously think about. What do people want when they want sex? They don’t want it just for the sex, but for some other reason, be it pleasure, intimacy, etc.

Regularly also it was said in the book that the church needs more than just a negative message on sex. We need a positive message. We give so many messages of do nots that we don’t give any messages of when to do and why to do. Our view of sexuality is extremely negative and we don’t embrace the joy and beauty of sex like we should.

Anyone who is interested in areas relating to Christianity and sexuality would be blessed by reading this book. Churches who have pastors who are addressing these topics are indeed blessed. In an age of extreme confusion about sexuality, hopefully we’ll heed the call to have more serious discussion and in our own marriages, more serious enjoyment of sexuality.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Deeper Waters Podcast 7/22/2017: Sam Andreades

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

Gender. What is it? Is it a social construct? Is it just this idea that culture has thrown onto us? Or could it be something that is an objective reality in each of us? Is there something really to being a man and something really to being a woman?

And what about our sexuality in response? Is homosexuality just another lifestyle, or does it point to a problem that a person has? If a homosexual man were to marry a woman, would he be living a lie? Does loving the homosexual mean that we don’t desire any change for them? Is that what acceptance is about?

I decided to bring on someone who really understands gender and sexuality. He also understands how this story plays out in the Bible. His book on the topic of gender and sexuality is one of the best I’ve read on the topic. His name is Sam Andreades and the book is Engendered.

So who is he?

According to his bio:

“Rev. Andreades is senior pastor of Faith Reformed Presbyterian Church in Quarryville, Pennsylvania, serving a congregation in what he affectionately calls The Shire. His previous pastoral work put gender issues front and center. He was pastor for ten and a half years of the Village Church in Greenwich Village, New York City, and is the founder of Higher Ground (originally called G.A.M.E. [Gender Affirming Ministry Endeavor]), a New York City ministry of Christian discipleship serving men and women with unwanted same-sex attraction. He went on to do a doctoral dissertation on emotional intimacy in Christian marriage in light of gender distinction, a qualitative study of men with a history of same-sex attraction and unions who are now in long time marriages to Christian women. He has counseled scores of engaged and married couples as well as church members in their relationships with one another.

Dr. Andreades draws on an extensive formal education in his teaching. He holds a B.S. in Geology & Geophysics with a minor in Biblical Studies from Yale University (1984), where he was awarded the Yale Geological Hammer Award for Thesis Research in sonic wave measurement through granite. He earned an M.Div. in Pastoral Ministry from Reformed Theological Seminary (2001), as well as an M.S. in Computer Science from New York University – Courant Institute (1997). Building on historical geography study at Jerusalem University College (2008, 2014) in Israel, he obtained a D.Min. in Urban Mission and Ministry at Covenant Theological Seminary (2013).  In 2015, he wrote a book, enGendered, to fill the need he saw to speak about gender as God’s gift. It is described on the “The Book” page of this website.  But most valuable is how he has brought this education to four decades of serious study of the Bible.

Sam grew up with three older sisters who have constantly challenged him in his understanding of what it means for him to be a boy. He has been married for twenty-six years to his wife, Mary K., whom he describes as the truest woman he knows, and without whom he says he could not do what he does. Together they have raised three sons and one daughter, and now have a daughter-in-law. Submission to the body of Christ has always been an important part of Sam’s Christian walk. As a member of a local church since becoming a Christian at seventeen years old, he has bonded to brothers and sisters in the family of God.

Being a Presbyterian pastor means ministering in relationship. It requires working closely with his session (the church’s board of elders), which affords Sam some of the most meaningful friendships of his life. Chairing the Shepherding Committee of his presbytery (a collective of local ministers and elders) in New York also afforded him important people-linking lessons. His favorite Bible verse is Luke 23:43, Jesus’ words to the thief on the cross. Sam hears through these words the Lord’s amazing forgiveness of Sam’s own sins.”

I hope you’ll be looking for the next episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast. I’m looking forward to this interview in getting to talk about marriage, gender, and sexuality. Please also consider leaving a positive review on the Deeper Waters Podcast.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 6/3/2017: Alan Branch

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

Our culture is undergoing changes we never would have thought possible growing up and Christians face challenges that would have been unthinkable a couple of decades ago. The homosexual movement especially has risen up and demanded what is called “equality.” Why should this be given? Don’t you know? It’s not a choice. You’re born this way!

Well, are you?

My guest on the show this Saturday says “No. You are not born this way.” He is the author of the book Born This Way? and has looked deeply at the subject of if homosexuality has some sort of genetic origin. We’ll be talking about that this Saturday. His name is J. Alan Branch. So who is he?

Alan Branch got his B.B.A. at Kennesaw State College in 1991. He went on to get a Master of Divinity from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in December of 1993. He went on to get a Ph.D. from there in 2000 in theology with a focus on ethics. As of now, he is the Professor of Christian ethics at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

What is the origin of homosexual attraction? Is it a choice? Are people born this way? If they are not, does that mean that they chose it? Branch’s book is a look at all the theories raised thus far to explain homosexuality and how it comes about. He looks at psychologists of the past as well as medical research done today to see if there is a genetic link of some kind to homosexual attraction.

So we’ll be having a brief history of this kind of study. We’ll be looking at Freud to see what he thought about homosexuality and then, we’ll move on to talk about Kinsey. Kinsey is a figure that needs to be talked about because he’s still highly influential in our culture today, yet not many people really know about all that was done by Kinsey and the kind of person he was.

What about objections raised today? Don’t we see this in the animal kingdom? Isn’t it thought that homosexuality is thus natural in so many animals? If it’s something natural, shouldn’t we have no problems with it today? What are we to say to this?

And of course, there’s the question about reparative therapy. If this is not something that is genetic, does that mean that it can be changed? If it can be changed, it is something that will even work? Many of us have heard the horror stories about what has gone wrong with this therapy and about people who claimed to be cured and yet fell back into the homosexual lifestyle. What are we to do then?

I hope you’ll be listening to the next episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast. We’ll be working on getting it up for you as soon as we can. Please also consider going to ITunes and leaving a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast. It’s always good to hear what you like about the show so I can know what you want to hear.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Book Plunge: Born This Way?

What do I think of J. Alan Branch’s book published by Weaver Book Company? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

If you debate any with people and homosexuality is brought up, you will find people saying that they are “born this way.” In the movie Religulous, Bill Maher interviews someone who is a Christian saying that there is no gay gene. In the middle, we get a cut to a scene of Maher asking Dean Hamer, “Have you found a gay gene?” “Yes.” That’s it. No context. Nothing more. It was settled.

Are homosexuals really born this way? J. Alan Branch takes us on a tour of psychology and science to see what can be found out. He starts off with looking at the minds that have fundamentally shaped the debate for us all. The first starting place is Freud and seeing what he said, which wasn’t really as much as one would think.

We get a lot more when we get to Kinsey. Today, Kinsey is seen as one of the greatest authorities, but in reality, his work was significantly flawed. In fact, it was so flawed that one could even see it got information from those who had to be guilty of child molestation. Kinsey accepted information from volunteers, interviewed people in prison, and other such problems. Kinsey himself was quite clear about his goals in doing away with Christian morality.

Finally, what happened with psychology and psychiatry in the 70’s? The truth is, not a lot of science but a whole lot of politics. This cleared the way for normalization and then for opposition. The movement already had an agenda in mind with the publication of After The Ball which they played perfectly.

From there, we move on to the possible scientific explanations for someone being born homosexual. This area is often dense in scientific thought so it can be hard to understand. That could be the unavoidable nature of the beast. Still, Branch is conversant with the literature and knows what those arguing the position are talking about.

One area he looks at that many people will be pleased to see is about animals. He does say that animals do sometimes engage in homosexual acts, but this is not a new discovery. Our ancestors knew about this long ago and the only reason it’s a shock to so many today is that we are far more cut off from nature. Branch points out that if we went by this, then we should also justify people eating their children since animals often devour their young in the wild.

After looking at all manner of studies, Branch then takes on a more pastoral position. How are we to help people in the church who legitimately struggle with same-sex attraction? They are indeed there. We don’t need to think they’re lying. We don’t need to treat them like a disease. One great way is that men need men who are friends with them and can say they love them, but not have it be sexual. Likewise, women need similar with women.

Branch concludes that homosexuality is likely caused by a multiplicity of factors and no one factor can settle the deal. This is also a predisposition to behave a certain way. It does not necessitate that one act on that impulse. One can choose to be celibate or one can choose to marry someone of the opposite sex and form a loving relationship with them.

Christians wanting to understand the debate will want to read this book. Branch is thorough and at the same time, more brief than you would think as the book has just a little over 150 pages of content. It will be a helpful addition to anyone’s library who cares about this issue.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Book Plunge: Paul Behaving Badly

What do I think of Randy Richards’s and Brandon O’Brien’s book published by IVP? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Paul can be a very polarizing figure today. Some Christians have the idea that Jesus is really awesome (And they’re right), but we don’t know about that Paul guy. He wasn’t even one of the original twelve. He didn’t meet Jesus in person. Why should we listen to him? Some skeptics will claim that it was Paul who really invented Christianity and took the good message of Jesus and turned Him into a deity and lost sight of His message.

For those of us who do like Paul, we do have to admit there can be difficulties. As the authors ask “Was Paul a jerk?” Sometimes, it looks like he was. They bring this up in a number of areas. First, the general question of if he was a jerk. Then they ask if he was a killjoy, a racist, a supporter of slavery, a chauvinist, a homophobe, a hypocrite, and finally a twister of Scripture.

Each chapter starts with the charges against Paul and they do bring forward an excellent case. You can look at the claims and if you are not familiar with the debates it is easy to ask “How is Paul going to get out of this one?” The authors also grant that Paul is not one behaving according to 21st century Western standards, but he was still just as much behaving badly to his own culture as he was just as radical to them. Paul is kind of in an in-between spot sometimes. Many times he’ll push the envelope further and leave it to us to keep pushing it. The question is are we going to do that.

Many of these questions need to be addressed for the sake of many people you will encounter who raise these objections. (Why didn’t Paul just demand the immediate release of slaves?) I enjoyed particularly the chapter on Paul being a killjoy. O’Brien gives his story in this one on how anything wasn’t to be done because we are to abstain from the appearance of evil so let’s make sure we all go see only G-rated movies and are teetotallers. (While I personally abstain from alcoholic beverages, I don’t condemn those who drink and control their alcohol.)

Some insights I thought were interesting and added perspective. Why did Paul seem to take contradictory stances on meat offered to idols? Why did he have Timothy circumcised when Timothy was from the area of Galatia and Paul had made it clear that if you let yourself be circumcised, then you are denying the Gospel. (If you want the answers to those questions, you know what you need to do.)

I would have liked to have seen a little bit more on the honor and shame aspect of the culture of the time. There is some touching on this, such as talk also about the client/patron system, but a quick refresher would have been good for those who don’t know it. Of course, I definitely recommend that anyone pick up their excellent book Misreading Scripture With Western Eyes.

This book is a great blessing that we need today. Paul, like I said, is one of the most controversial figures even among Christians. To deal with his critics and to help those who would like to support him, you need to read this book.

In Christ,
Nick Peters