Dear Pastor….

Can I critique your sermon this Sunday? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

(Note: This post is not about my own church or our sermon Sunday. This is a hypothetical that could be used for what I think are the sad majority of pastors in any church on a given Sunday. No reference to any specific person or timeframe is intended.)

Dear Pastor,

I wanted to talk to you about your sermon. I think you did a good job of showing that the Bible tells us that God loves us immensely. I think you were correct in that we need to live our lives accordingly with what is revealed in Scripture. I think your sermon did have some excellent application to it. Unfortunately, while I agree with that, I have a problem with your sermon.

You see, I write in the area of Christian apologetics and defending Christianity. All that you said is true, but I kept wondering, what if someone doesn’t believe the Bible is true? What does it mean to them? What about someone who could be even wondering if the Bible is truly a revelation from God?

If someone wants to believe in the love of God, can they believe in the message of love if they don’t know if they can trust the messenger of that love? Suppose I go see a doctor who is right, but he’s right 90% of the time. He tells me I have cancer and I need to undergo intense chemotherapy to treat it. Would it make sense to sign up immediately? Should I not consider a second opinion just to make sure? His message could be right, but I would want to know if it was right. If I knew he was right 100% of the time, I would sign up, but what if I have that 10% of doubt? What if he’s right and I have that 10% and never go get a second opinion? That doubt could kill me.

Pastor. Your congregation is encountering this doubt. Now of course, many people are firmly in a position where they will not wrestle with these questions. Many are not. Many of them are watching the History Channel and the Discovery Channel and National Geographic and reading the magazines and they see these specials about the Bible. Every time Easter and Christmas roll around, you have these specials coming out undermining something about the Bible. You had a movie like the Da Vinci Code come out and the book itself was quite popular and even a skeptical scholar like Bart Ehrman had a best-selling book on textual criticism calling into question the reliability of the Bible.

If that doesn’t leave you concerned, you’re not paying attention.

You see, you talked so much about what the Bible says and how to apply its message, but you said very little about the Bible itself. I’m not suggesting your sermon be apologetics, but wouldn’t it be a good opening to explain a little bit about the book you’re exegeting, when it was written, and some historical facts about it? This would not take long and it would also bring the text more to life. As it stands, if people don’t know the history of the Bible and when it was written and such, it’s essentially a text floating in air and it won’t take much to bring it down.

I understand you want to reach that person who is there for the first time also, but what if that person is an atheist? What if they’re a Jew? A Mormon? A Buddhist? You don’t know who they are. I don’t either. I do know that they won’t just blindly believe the Bible. They need some reason to do so.

Application is good and important, but is that all there is? Is the whole point of Jesus dying and rising again just so that we could be good people? I’m all for marriage enrichment and beating your personal problems and so many other things, and we need them, but you can have many of those things without Christianity. Christianity is not about giving good advice. It certainly will give good advice, but Christianity is about Jesus being the King of this world and how we must submit to Him.

If all we have is good advice, well Pastor, we can turn on Dr. Phil or Oprah or anything else and get advice. We’ve also never really been prone to follow good advice. I daresay that most people will leave the church and forget all that they heard in an hour if all they heard was good advice. If you give them a question that could be a thorn in their side that suggests that the Bible could really be from God and God could really have some authority on their lives, that is something that will not be easy to cast aside.

That’s something I want to hear. I don’t want to just hear moralizing from the pulpit because I can get that from anywhere else and from most any other religion. I want to hear what Christianity alone can tell me. I want to hear about King Jesus dying and rising again from the dead and not just what this means for me, but what it means for the future of humanity and the world that we live in. No other belief system can offer that.

Pastor. Let’s also not forget you have young people in your audience. Let’s even suppose the youth are growing up in good Christian homes, which is more and more becoming questionable since even many Christians are compromising in areas of morality, such as living together before marriage or endorsing homosexual practice. Is this young man or woman growing up in a devout Christian home safe? Not on your life.

Imagine them in their bedroom one day on the computer. No. They’re not watching porn, though you should also be concerned that many in your congregation are, but they’re doing something like listening to a song from their favorite Christian band. What do they see on the related videos on the side? “Ten Questions Every Christian Must Answer.” Pastor. What if that’s a video put out by an atheist? What if they get curious and click it? Have you prepared them for what they will see? If you know the answers to these questions and don’t prepare them, do you not bear some responsibility when they fall away? If you don’t know the answers, how can you get up and tell people the Bible is a revelation from God if you yourself have no reason to think that? Are you not the blind leading the blind?

They also won’t fall away for intellectual difficulties. I’m not sure if you watch any TV or movies pastor, but sex sells. It’s big on the big screen nowadays. We just had Fifty Shades Darker come out and I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of women from your church went to see it. Believe it or not also, young men and women are greatly tempted to have sex. Women want to have that love and acceptance from a man. Many young men just want to have a good time with a woman and think sex makes them a man.

Do they know enough to know why they shouldn’t? Yeah. We can tell them what Paul said. If they can resist what Paul said on lesser things, such as talking back to their parents or overeating or buying things they can’t afford, why think they will be able to overpower the sex drive? Do you know how strong that is? If you don’t, I think you’ve just said a lot more about your marriage than you intended.

So you might say that when they engage, they’ll feel great guilt and will repent. Maybe they will. Maybe they won’t. If they don’t, then they will think the church lied to them. What else did the church lie about? Do you know how many of them are being told the church is trying to restrict them? Do you know how many atheists talk about liberation from the church’s teachings?

Pastor. Would it really hurt your church to know the historical reasons for believing that Christianity is true? Again, you don’t have to do a whole sermon on this. In fact, I don’t think you should, but you should at least touch on it. Now if you want to have a class separate from the sermon on this, by all means go ahead. That would be wonderful.

You still have an obligation to prevent your flock from falling away. Please also don’t tell them to just have faith. I cringe most every time when a pastor says that we need to have faith. Faith is a badly misunderstood term and one that an atheist will pounce on in a second.

Pastor. You might want your congregation to be safe and not put in danger from contrary thought. First off, they aren’t safe. Second, they will encounter contrary thought be it in the classroom or on TV or on YouTube or at the water cooler in conversation. Third, we are not called to be safe. We are called to do the Great Commission and the historic Christian church was not safe. They still aren’t. I just saw a highly reliable friend post a study showing that 90,000 Christians were martyred for their faith in 2016. 90,000 are martyred and you’re thinking your church needs to be shielded from contrary thought? These weren’t. They had to live in it regularly and they were incredibly faithful. In fact, they were probably more faithful than even you or I are. When your life could depend on if the Jesus question is true or not, you probably take it a lot more serious and you know, you probably live out that application a whole lot better.

Your congregation is not meant to live in a bubble. They’re meant to do the Great Commission. How can they do it unless they are equipped to do it? It’s not enough to get them to tell their personal testimony. Everyone has a testimony. Even atheists in debate will often open with their personal anti-testimony. We don’t live in a time where testimonies have the same effectiveness. Consider instead combining them with a good apologetic, and you could be on to something.

Pastor. Please take these words to heart. I encounter atheists most every day that used to be Christians and they are often extremely evangelistic and antagonistic. If you’ve ever heard of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, they were established by someone who used to be in ministry as well. The sad thing is many of these questions are easily answered if you just have a congregation that is at least semi-informed. You’re the only one who can determine that. Think about your own standing before God one day. Do you want to be responsible for people falling away and the damage they do? Do you want to risk that you could be?

I’m at your service if need be, but the ball is in your court. Please consider giving us something different. Give us a reason to believe and then to live differently.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Book Plunge: Through A Man’s Eyes

What do I think of Shaunti Feldhahn and Craig Gross’s book published by Multnomah? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Years ago there was a movie released called What Women Want starring Mel Gibson who after an electrical accident found that he could hear what women were thinking. Finally a man was listening. Gibson’s character changed his life drastically seeing the way women think and what effect their inner lives was having on them. Of course, this is not a big surprise since frankly, men have always had a hard time understanding women and have been looking for a good resource that would help them understand them better.

How To Understand Women

Now I think a book has come out that really gets into the lives of men. For many women, men are simple. Give them sex and they’re happy. Okay. There’s a lot of truth to that, but why is that? What’s going on in the life of your man? Why is it that he struggles so much when he walks past the Victoria’s Secret store? If he looks at another women while he’s walking down the street, does that mean he doesn’t care about you? Why should you be more deliberate about thinking about the way that you dress yourself? And of course, why does a man get involved in porn and what can you do about it?

While there is a male co-author, I found the book definitely going inside of my own head which makes me think Feldhahn really does know what we men go through. It starts with the account of a man who gets up early and is thinking about how he was up late the night before but it was worth it. He hears his wife taking a shower and goes in the bathroom just in time to see her wrap a towel around herself to his regret and how even before heading out the door he tries to “cop a feel.” At work, there is the lady who is dressing and has her outfit unbuttoned to an extent that if he looks, his mind will wander. As he drives, he sees constant advertisements on the road with women and he has to deflect his eyes and pay attention for mile upon mile. Throughout the day, he strives to think of his wife and the fun that they had before. No. This man is not a pervert. He’s not a sex addict. He’s just a simple man trying to honor God and his wife and living in a world loaded with traps to lure him away. He’s walking through a sexual minefield as it were.

We men are just drawn to beautiful women. A woman can be beautiful to us without being overt in what she does. That doesn’t mean that there’s not a struggle still, but it makes it easier. Feldhahn and Gross go into great detail as to what happens in the brains of men when they see something sexually stimulating. This will be a shock to some people, but as it turns out men and women are very different. This includes the way they respond to visual stimuli and the way they interpret sexuality. To be fair, while I thought the book was thorough on how a man interprets the signals he receives, I would have liked to have seen a little bit more on why sex is so important to a man and what a role it plays in the worldview.

Nothing said in the book is also meant to justify bad behavior on the part of men. A man is visual so watching porn is a lot more likely for him, but it is certainly not justifiable! A God-honoring man might take a second look at that woman who walked by, but that does not justify it. There are a lot of behaviors men need to work on, but a book like this can help women to better understand just what is going on in the head of the man that they married or are dating, or even in the heads of the man that they are raising, so that they can better support them in whatever battle that they’re in. (Hint: Don’t be like the woman who responded to her husband’s porn addiction by withholding sex and gaining 150 pounds.)

An important insight also is that the way to connect to a man well is through his eyes. Believe it or not wives, your husband does want to see you naked and while you might be hesitant about your own body, he wants to see you period. In fact, if you are concerned about your body, this is also why you can consider that diet and exercise to take care of your body is one of the best ways to say “I love you” to your husband. Your body is a gift that you are giving him. If you were cooking a romantic dinner for him, you wouldn’t be haphazard. You’d make sure you were doing all you could to fix it right. You should do the same with something much more lasting, your body.

Respect is also central to your man in this regard. A husband does not want respect just when you think he deserves it or has earned it. He would be foolish to love you on the same grounds, and yet for most men respect is far more central than love. Men gravitate towards respect. Remember women that you married or you’re dating a man. He is not meant to be a woman and part of his masculinity is his sex drive and his being visually oriented. If you please him with his visual orientation, you can be certain that you will build up his love for you. (Of course, being a Christian, this is to be with sex done in the confines of marriage.) Too many times women try to make their men like one of their girlfriends. It will not happen. Accept that you have a man whose primary stimulation is visual and learn to love him that way, because God wired him to be visual.

The book also does go into detail on the problem of porn and what to do if your husband or son is struggling with pornography or you think he is. It ends with a helpful FAQ that I largely think comes from Craig Gross which covers a bit of everything, including questions like “What if I find out my son has been putting ‘big boobs’ into the search engine on the internet?” Gross in this section really holds nothing back and is just blunt. The writers also stress they have plenty of other resources available at the web site menarevisual.com.

In fact, if anything, men are more visual than Feldhahn and Gross point out. A man can hear a woman speaking on the radio or on the phone and already be speculating about what she looks like. Yeah. That’s not much to go on, but a man will wonder. That’s how much this means to us and when women work with that instead of opposing it, they will find a way to get more joy out of their relationships. That means watching how you take care of yourself and allowing him to delight in you by seeing you and that you might actually have to turn the lights on sometimes when you have sex. Men want their women to be beautiful, but at the same time women don’t need to be as extremely self-conscious as many of them are. Your man just wants to see you and he wants to be wanted by you.

This is an excellent book and it will not take you long to read. I read it in about a day’s time and I found it to be quite spot on. I hope Feldhahn and Gross come out with another book together in the future explaining not just how men are visual, but what exactly sex means to a man and why.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Redeeming Sex

What do I think of Debra Hirsch’s book published by IVP? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Okay. It’s not much of a secret that men like sex and like to think about it. Well, maybe that last part isn’t as true. Men like to fantasize about sex. They like to dream about sex. They especially like to have sex. Not many of them enjoy really thinking about sex. I try to be different, although I certainly enjoy all the other activities, and so when I saw Hirsch’s book on sexuality, I decided to pick it up. Not only that, it’s often good to get a woman’s perspective on sex. Not only that, but it’s good to get the view of a Christian woman on sex.

Hirsch’s book details how she came to Jesus and she came from a lifestyle that had practically done everything sexual that you can imagine, and then some. Today, she says she has a more traditional stance, but when she became a Christian, she had a lot of questions about what the church had to say about sex. That shouldn’t be a shock since so many of us today have the same questions, both inside and outside of the church. Thankfully, Hirsch found a church that while they consisted largely of senior citizens while she and her friends were young rebel types, they loved her with the love of Jesus and the pastor made sure to get them to Jesus first and then let Him be the guiding light in their sexual issues.

So right at the start, I’d like to point out a problem we have in our churches. How often do we talk about sex? I mean really, how often in church do you hear talk about sex? It’s hardly ever. We barely say a thing and when we do, we tend to speak in euphemisms and if it’s some forbidden dirty topic. How often does sex meanwhile show up in the Bible? Abundantly. How much does it show up in the popular culture? Try to turn on the television and not see it! How often are we talking about it in politics? You seen all the debates going on on the nature of marriage? What are we saying about it? Squat.

Hirsch wants to have a real conversation about it and it goes beyond the “Don’t do this” that we hear over and over. It’s really about how we relate to one another. Hirsch says all of our relationships are really sexual to some extent. Of course, some of us are hearing that and thinking “What?! There are several people I don’t have sex with and I don’t have any desire to have sex with!” Hirsch would agree with you. What Hirsch means is that all relationships are to have some degree of intimacy. All involve some sharing of yourself. There is just one relationship for a Christian that is to involve genital sexuality and that is the one that takes place in marriage.

This kind of intimacy is what we all long for on some extent and even those who take a vow of celibacy are longing for it. They long for it with God, which is ultimately what Heaven is. (You know Hirsch’s book is going to be good when the first title is “Oh my God!”) The moment of release that all of genital sexuality is building up to is meant to be seen as a moment of unity and oneness. It is the end result of a final openness to one another, and it is a picture of what Heaven is like. So many in our society chase after that moment and those of us who are married when it comes to sex can suddenly find ourselves being obsessed when the possibility comes up. Personally, I’d consider it the closest one comes to having another personality. It really is reaching for something greater than yourself and getting caught in the experience of another person.

That’s what Heaven is also.

Heaven is not defined by streets of gold or by having a mansion or by playing a harp and sitting on a cloud. (especially since we don’t become angels, but that’s another point.) Heaven is defined by being in right relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Heaven is found by dying to ourselves and giving our lives to Him. Heaven is found by having total and exclusive openness to God and being open to all of His blessings in our lives. Heaven is standing before God naked in our being as it were with no secrets and Him making us to be who we are and giving His life to us.

Which is kind of what sex is entirely. Sex is the symbol that is meant to point us to the reality of God.

The sad thing is we can rob people of this when we tell them sex is something to be feared. Our culture wants to run to sex. We want to run from sex. In reality, Christians should be leading in the best sex that there is. Our God is the one who created sex. It’s all His idea. His pathway should be seen as the best pathway to the best sex that there is. The rest of the world should be looking at the church and saying “I don’t know what they have, but I sure want it.” Should they want us in our holiness and love? Absolutely, but that should also carry over into our sex lives that should be an example to the world.

Hirsch rightly quotes Chesterton who told us that when a man knocks on the door of a brothel, he is looking for God. I wholeheartedly agree. Our chasing after sex is a chasing after intimacy and being accepted and joy and openness. We just too often go to the wrong spot. We spend so much time with the symbol that we miss the far greater reality that sex is pointing to. We stop at the symbol talking about how good it is, and indeed it is, that we don’t realize we’re getting a foretaste. Is sex really just a happy accident in a cosmic meaningless universe, or is it a pointer to something beyond itself?

Also, Hirsch wants us to look to Jesus as our example. Jesus is indeed a sexual person. No. I don’t mean any nonsense like He had a romantic interest in Mary Magdalene or that He was having sex of any kind. I mean that everything He did, He did as a man. In fact, He also did this as a single man, which should be a reminder as Hirsch points out to those of us who can be tempted in the church to look down on singles as if there is something wrong with them because they do not have a spouse. Some of them might want one, and we can help, but some might just not want to get married, and that’s also okay. How can it be a wrong path to choose if Jesus chose it?

The sexual love that we want we often want cheaply, and this can be through promiscuous sex and through pornography. Real sexuality involves real intimacy. It involves being open to the other person entirely, which means you are capable of being hurt. Marriage is one of the most sacred institutions that there is, and it is also one of the most dangerous and risky ones to enter into. When you enter into marriage, you are tying your life to another person and saying that you are open to them. That entails opening yourself up to their love, which is good, but it also entails that you will get hurt from time to time. That’s part of the risk. I have to realize that sadly, I will hurt my wife from time to time. It’s a sad reality. I am a fallen sinful man and sometimes that flesh will come out. That’s part of marriage though. You are open to the hurt because the love you gain is so much greater.

The last half of the book focuses a lot on issues involving homosexuality. Hirsch makes a lot of good points here, though some will be a bit concerned wishing she took a stronger stance at times. Hirsch is certainly right that we have too often given the image of hate-filled and intolerant. Many of us do not, but sadly, the ones that usually get the microphone from the media are the ones we don’t want. Now in all of this, I will state definitely that I think homosexual actions are wrong. I think that marriage is to be between a man and a woman. At the same time, I do not have hatred for homosexuals and too often that is assumed. We have often treated homosexuality as if it’s a disease keeping people away from Jesus. For those of us who do disagree with homosexual practice, we need to realize still that the first way to love our homosexual neighbor, is to get them to Jesus, just like anyone else.

We also too often make a dangerous statement about God removing homosexual desires from someone if they come to Jesus. I’ve heard people say from the pulpit that Jesus will do that if you come to Him and you struggle with them. He could of course. He very well could. This is not a guarantee. As a heterosexual man, Jesus does not take away all my desires to sleep with other women, or take away all of my sinful desires specifically. There are many sins of the flesh that I still struggle with it. Why would we think that Jesus would take away the sinful desires of someone in the homosexual lifestyle and not do the same for someone in the heterosexual lifestyle? I still have my cross that I have to carry.

The first thing we have to do is to learn the person in the LGBT community as a fellow human being even if we disagree with their lifestyle to the core. I often tell men who are wanting to witness to male homosexuals is that the best thing to do is just to be a friend to them. I’m sure they’ve heard enough times what the church thinks about what they do. You don’t have to for a moment affirm what they do, but you do realize that they are human beings that Jesus loves and died for as well. Dare I say it, but maybe you should consider treating them the way you want to be treated? Of course, if they ask your opinion, that doesn’t mean you give a false opinion. If they ask you if you think they are doing something immoral, you can say that, but you yourself are also doing things you know are immoral and you are still to love yourself.

Ultimately, I think Hirsch’s book is quite good. I don’t agree with everything naturally. I don’t think the story of Origen emasculating himself is accurate for instance. The story shows up about a century later and Origen himself was someone who normally interpreted Scripture allegorically. Still, no essential point resides on such a claim. Also, while I do wish sometimes a stronger stance had been taken, I try to realize that Hirsch is trying to walk a very fine line here. There is much that is good in this book and there are plenty of parts I circled and underlined in my reading. I hope it opens us up more to a real conversation on sex and sexuality.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

This Is A Man’s World

What goes on in the life of men? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

I’m a member of a number of groups on Facebook. One is the Christian Apologetics Alliance whose main web page can be found here. The other group is a group I will not link to, but it is one for Christian men who are married, engaged, dating, or just really hoping to be married someday so we can learn how to love our wives as Christ loved the church.

I think my writing here is important for both groups. For the apologetics aspect, part of good argumentation is not just believing right, but living right, though that living starts with right beliefs, and it certainly can be difficult in our day and age to live right in this world, particularly in a period of great sexual license.

As blog readers know, I am writing this from a perspective of a Christian man, though it could just as well apply to anyone who happens to think ideas included in the Christian ethic, such as sexual fidelity within marriage and reserving sex for marriage, are good ideas worthy to be upheld. My method of handling this could be different from yours, but we agree on the idea.

What I will be describing is what it’s like for a man in this world. Some female readers could say “That’s the male side, but you have no idea what a female side is like and how temptation is for us!” That’s true. That’s why I’m not covering that side, although I would say I think I have a good idea on how the world views women and unfortunately, women can often allow themselves to be treated that way.

At the start, it’s no secret that men think about sex and think about it a lot. Does that mean we’re always actively focused on it? No. But it is always on the backburner. It is always looming there in the shadows and most anything can bring it out again immediately. Many women don’t really have a problem with doing something to attract a man or turn a man on. It’s usually pretty simple.

And that puts men in a tough situation.

In our world, there are women all around us who are wanting to do just that. Not only that, there are women who are not wanting to do that, but inevitably do so, and that’s not even just women who dress in a way that’s necessarily drawing. It could be that they just possess enough natural beauty on their own.

One illustration I’ve told men about what it is like in our world is a time that I was walking in a mall by myself. Heading towards me on my left was a female. I don’t mean she was heading towards me as in directly aiming at me, but was going my way. In order to avoid any temptation, I decided I’d to the look away that most men know about. I’ll just look to my right instead.

Which happened to be where Victoria’s Secret was….

And that’s the kind of situation a man can find himself in.

In a man’s world, when a man sees a woman, it’s quite difficult to not notice immediately that she’s a woman. We do have to work on making sure our thoughts do not wander where they shouldn’t. It is the natural male tendency I think sadly to objectify women in some way and treat them as just bodies. That’s part of the nature of the flesh and something we have to work on, and that’s something also that marriage helps you work on when done right.

It can be even more difficult especially in the way women are used in advertising. Sex sells. Many women know it and advertisers know it.

To go back to being at the mall, I was there again last Sunday. I’m looking at various tables that have been set up in an open area and there is one I pass for a spa. Perhaps I can look into something that my Mrs. might really appreciate. I think my wife is a beautiful woman, but hey, we guys all know that a lady loves to get something like a makeover.

Instead, I find a picture of a girl lying in an alluring pose and wearing a top that was leaving very very little to imagination.

You know what? We men who wish to be faithful to our wives? We hate to see something like that. We really do. We want our minds to be in only one place, but in our culture, we are constantly presented with challenges. Again, I am not denying women can face similar challenges, but this is a perspective from men.

Marriage really helps a man out in this area who is someone who burns. Still, there can also be other temptations. I tell men who are single that once you get married and you go on your honeymoon with your wife, everything changes. You never look at anything else the same way again. The way you think and align your priorities will change drastically. If you’re a man reading this and you’re single and waiting for marriage, don’t say you understand. You don’t.

Oh there are several nice things you can do before you marry. which I see as steps 1-8 on the twelve steps of intimacy. My wife and I did kiss on our first date. In fact, since I was visiting her at her parents house, we have a funny story that we were in the living room on the couch watching Beauty and the Beast. This room was adjacent to the kitchen. Her parents and her brother’s bedroom was upstairs.

We have been told that her brother was wanting to come down and go into the kitchen and get a snack. Her parents told her “Nick and Allie are downstairs on the couch and they’re cuddling. You might not want to go down there.” Of course, we weren’t doing anything immoral. Had we been, her parents would have been taking care of the problem. We can say we never saw her brother come down the whole night.

When we drove together, I would drive with one hand and hold her hand with the other. We would walk arm in arm wherever we went. If we pulled up to a red light, it was a good chance to kiss each other some more before the light turned green. In fact, I can safely say it was a time in my life when I was very thankful for red lights and bad traffic.

I encourage young men to enjoy that when they can before marriage instead of having the idea of the first kiss at the altar. We are physical creatures and we should not deny the physical entirely. Besides, I think that can be a difficult switch especially for the women to make. Just save steps 9 through 12 for the wedding.

You see, as good as all those physical pleasures are, and they certainly are, nothing beats what comes on the wedding night and that changes everything. Some women can think that a man could have a hard time adjusting and going from this not being allowed to this suddenly being allowed.

I really don’t think that’s a problem for men.

But also, this opens us up for temptation. Again, it’s not the fault of our wives! It’s the fault of our sinful nature! Once you have this great experience, a man can be tempted to wonder what else he’s missing elsewhere. Women can be the great unknown for us and the sexual union with the woman is in many ways, the ultimate validation of our masculinity for us. Women. There is no louder way for you to tell your man that he is your man than this.

And this sadly is why pornography is such a draw for men.

Again, I know there are women who struggle with pornography, but I’m talking about the men. For the man, pornography can give the feeling of being a man without the work of being a man. You don’t have to work to approach a real woman and learn how to romance and love her and sacrifice for her. Nope. You have a woman who is willing to give you everything and demand no effort on your part other than just showing up.

And yes, many a man will do that just for the sensation of masculinity that he gets. How deep does the desire for sex run with a man? For a humorous look, consider this clip from Steve Harvey’s edition of the Family Feud. Something to consider. Every woman who is asked gets it wrong! Every time a man is asked without coaching from the women, he gets it right.

When the women are asked, they say what they would like to see the man do such as cook and clean. When the men are asked, they say to the extent of what this means to them. Now do I mean to say a loving husband will go out and kill a man just to get sex? No. What I mean is that a man will use such strong language because the desire is that strong.

And women, please realize this. Your man most often desperately wants to be the man for you. He wants to get to adore you and he wants to be yours exclusively. It is hard in a man’s world where many a woman can be locked into the visual memory banks forever.

But to get back to the men, I suspect one reason many struggle with pornography who are married can also be a lack of being grateful. I have been thinking about this more and more lately. (Not because I struggle with internet porn. I don’t.) I think it’s a privilege I have that I get to kiss my wife. I get to drive everywhere I go with her. I get to sleep in the same bed with her every night. Throughout the day, I can pull her close and just hold her. I can run my fingers through her hair. I can do so much. Note I haven’t even included sex yet! All of these things are things I am immensely grateful for!

And these are things to give thanks for in themselves. Yet when it comes to sexuality, that is something incredible to give thanks for. If your wife is faithful, she is sharing something that she shares only with you. She is doing something for you that she doesn’t do for anyone else. You also get the privilege of getting to love her in a way no one else does. She loves you in a way that no one else does.

Give thanks. Follow Proverbs 5. Draw water from your own well. Why be enchanted by another? God gave you a good gift. Enjoy it and celebrate it.

For the women, please understand how important this is. Now some of you might think “Well I can show a bit more affection to him when he starts helping me around the house.”

You know, he should do his part to help you. That’s absolutely right.

But to make a statement like that is really selfish. Marriage is about giving 100% of yourself to the other and there’s no clause in Scripture that says “You are exempted from this if your spouse does not give 100%.” In fact, I would challenge you in this. If you are willing to give to your husband and let him know he’s your man, then when you say “Sweetie. Could you please vacuum for me today?”, he’ll be running to get the vacuum.

Also, sometimes, some women, and even some men, can struggle in this area due to past situations. (Yes. There are men who struggle) Please do get counseling. Your husband will thank you for it if you do.

So have I been too hard on the women with that statement about being selfish?

Then let’s turn it on the men.

Some of you might say “I’d help out around the house if she’d show me a bit more affection!”

You’re being just as selfish.

In fact, your position could be even worse. You’re meant to lead your household biblically. Start being a leader. Part of that is being loving and giving. After all, your role model is Christ. Do you think Christ stops showing love to His church even when His church isn’t loving Him back? He doesn’t. Then you have no excuse. You are to go and do what you can to help your wife out and by the way, when you start doing this, you might find she’s also more willing to open up. Even if she isn’t, you are required to give 100% and you have no exemption clause.

But women, if this role is met in a man’s life, you can be guaranteed you will have a happy happy hubby.

But men, regardless of what happens, it is up to you to manage your thought life. There is no justification for pornography. None. Some of you can think it might spice up your marriage. It won’t. The best way to increase your love for your wife is to do just that. Love her. No other woman belongs in your bedroom, not even a virtual one. Make it your aim that all your dreams and fantasies and such are about your wife.

If you stray men, you can say others contributed perhaps to what you went through, but the ultimate blame comes with you. Sure. That other woman shouldn’t have tempted you to have an affair, but it is your fault if you are the one who does it. You do not accidentally have an affair. It is a decision on your part to break the vows that you made to your wife. If you are watching pornography, you are having a virtual affair. You need to repent and make it right. If that includes getting a filter on your computer such as one from XXXChurch, then do it. If that means counseling, do it. After your relationship with God, your marriage is the most important relationship you have.

Life in a man’s world is not easy. Again, I am not commenting on it in a woman’s world. I can’t speak to that. I am just saying what it is like for the men, at least from my perspective.

But life like this is livable and faithfulness is possible. It will start with faithfulness to Christ. Be faithful to Him, and you will be faithful to your wife as well. That I think applies to women as well. If you are being faithful to Christ, you will be faithful to your husband. Also, if any of you are unfaithful to the other, you are not being faithful to Christ.

Please take that seriously and remember, I am one often convicting myself trying to remind myself how serious I need to take matters too.

In Christ,
Nick Peters