Book Plunge: The Scarlet Virgins

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

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

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

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

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

Sometimes purity can become that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Katie Gregoire on the Purity Culture

What is the purpose of purity? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Katie Gregoire is the daughter of Sheila Wray Gregoire, who runs the blog To Love, Honor, and Vacuum. Yesterday, my mother-in-law shared a video Katie made. Not too long after that, my wife shared the same video. I figured when I got up today that I should check out this video. (I rarely watch videos shared on Facebook. I just don’t have the time.) The video is quite good and can be found here.

Katie talked about how we have all these embarrassing purity talks when you grow up in the church. The advice to follow for the most part in these talks is good. Guys are told they should respect the women in their lives and the boundaries they set up. By the way guys, that includes once you’re married. You don’t force sex even on your wife and I still respect Allie greatly do this day such as holding open doors for her, including our car door, and not sitting somewhere until she’s sat down first. It’s also well known that if anyone insults her on Facebook, stay back. I will show up and it will not be pretty.

Women meanwhile are focused on just saving themselves for marriage. They are often compared to chocolate bars with them giving a piece of themselves to a guy that they are intimate with until there’s nothing left. I agree with Katie that women are not objects like chocolate bars. It’s too easy for a girl who makes a mistake to think that she’s damaged goods.

I would like to point out though that if a woman does engage in sex before marriage, she can make it harder to bond. That’s because one of the things that sex does is it causes the chemical oxytocin to be released, which is a bonding chemical. It bonds the two lovers together. It is the same chemical released when a mother breastfeeds her child. If you learn to break these bonds, it makes it all the easier so that it’s harder and harder to bond.

Yet Katie’s main point is clear still and definitely true. The whole idea behind a woman being pure is to be just for her husband. Of course, no one is saying that a woman should not strive to be pure for her future husband, but he’s not the only one. Let’s suppose there’s a girl who doesn’t plan on ever getting married. She wants to be on her own. There’s nothing wrong with that. Not every girl will get married. She thus has no future husband. Should she be allowed to have a one-night stand or such every now and then since there’s no future husband to give herself to?

Of course not. If she’s a Christian, she has someone else she’s being pure for. She’s being pure for Jesus. She’s being pure to show that she values sex even if she’s never having it and that she honors the limitations Jesus places on sex and on how He views it. Sex is a good, but it is a good to be used in the proper time and place.

We have a culture where it’s extremely easy to view women as sexual objects. No doubt, the reason for this is that by and far, the women are far more appealing to the eyes than we men are, and that includes I’d say to the women themselves who are quick to notice the beauty of one another and compete with one another. Sex sells and one way to get a response out of people is to put a beautiful woman up there.

This causes tremendous pain if someone does sin along the way. My own wife when putting this up said that while she saved sex for marriage, she didn’t live entirely pure. I knew this when I went into the relationship. I can assure anyone that in our marriage I have a “full chocolate bar.” I make it a point to not invite anyone else into the bedroom.

“Good for you,” some of you are saying. “We don’t have threesomes either.” I’m not talking about people coming in physically. I’m talking about that when it’s time for the bedroom, my focus is only on Allie. There is no thinking of other women there and she should not be thinking about what other men have said and done in the past. As I tell her “Only you.” Her past mistakes don’t matter. In our marriage, all that matters is that I have her here right now.

Another problem with this is that it assumes the main role of purity is in sexuality. That’s great and all, but you can be impure in many other ways. We can be quite sure the Pharisees followed the rules on sexuality, but they were described as white-washed tombs and filthy on the inside. Following the outer rules is good and important, but the inner heart is even more important. What about our words? Our thoughts? Our habits?

Honoring Christ is a lot more than just honoring Him with sex. It’s honoring Him with everything that you have. There is not a single aspect of your life that Christ does not claim Lordship over. As a Christian, you are to give Him all of it. Only He can make you who you are to be.

It’s also important because our identity is not in what we do. If there’s something Christians need to do, it’s to establish their identity in Christ. We live in a culture where many of us don’t know who we are and why we’re here and that’s largely because we have no firm foundation. Our Christianity has been reduced to moralism instead of a whole worldview. We know how Christians are to act, but not how to think or how to just even be. Remember that we are human beings and not human doings.

I congratulate Katie and everyone else saving themselves for marriage. It is something indeed wonderful you are saving yourself for. Even better is to treat yourself properly in honor of Christ. It is His good you are to supremely seek and not your own. The purity movement in the church could only be bolstered by learning the better basis of purity.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: The Global Gospel

What do I think of Werner Mischke’s book? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Global Gospel

Mission One has released the Global Gospel by Mischke to illustrate the problem in reaching people in the Majority World. We have been hampered growing up in a guilt-innocence culture whereas the world of the Bible is that of an honor-shame culture. It also has impacted our reading of the Bible as where there are parts that are not made explicit, because these would be part of the background culture, we automatically tend to plug in our own culture.

Consider marriage. In the ancient world, a marriage would often be a matter between two men. No. Not the way you’re thinking in our debates today. It would be a matter between the father of the groom and the father of the bride. The two would arrange it and it would be a sort of trade. Marriage would be used to unite families and often could be used for political alliances as well. If we read in our concept of dating and marriage, we misread the text.

Mischke has a great line that I wish we all could learn in the west to show this.

Culturally speaking, the Bible does not “belong” to you; it’s not your book.

What a great lesson to learn. While we can agree with Paul that everything was written for us, it was not written to us. We of necessity need Scripture to understand the salvation of Christ and what it is we are to do, but we do not have to have Western culture being assumed as part of Christianity. This is not to say that Western culture is a bad thing, but it is to say that it does not need to be married to the Gospel. Too often in our evangelism strategy, we’ve brought over not just the Gospel to unreached people, but we’ve also brought over our own culture and included it in the Gospel.

If you go to people of an honor-shame culture and start talking about the guilt that is experienced because of our sin and the beauty of justification by faith, you will not get much of a response to your altar call. These people are not thinking primarily about guilt. What matters most to them is honor and shame. In fact, maintaining honor means more to them than life itself does. This is why Japanese pilots could crash on Pearl Harbor as an attack and why some terrorists can do suicide bombers. They value the honor of what they fight for and the honor they can gain more than their own lives.

Now imagine going to these people instead and telling them about how they are living in a state of shame. They have dishonored the one true God and will be having to face His eternal shame. However, this God has provided a remedy. His Son has come and faced the shame that we all deserve by dying a most shameful death on a cross at the hands of His enemies. However, in facing this, God honored Him by raising Him from the dead and seating Him at His right hand to rule the world. All who trust in Him, He will bestow His honor on and adopt them into the family of God.

Okay. Now you’re talking. If you’re speaking of honor and shame to these people, they will be listening. While you should believe in justification by faith, that is not the message that will reach these people because that is a message about guilt. Of course in honor-shame cultures there is guilt in the sense of having done an objective wrong to someone, but the result is not an internal feeling that we must make amends and fix the problem. The main sense for the honor-shame is that the person has been a disgrace and has dishonored their family and their culture. In fact, this is one reason suicide can be so prevalent in an honor-shame culture like Japan. It is better to die than to live with shame.

Mischke takes us through several aspects of an honor-shame culture. Why is the face so important? What is challenge-riposte? What is a patron and how does he relate to his clients? Why is purity such a big deal? These and many other questions are asked. Mischke also wants to stress an important point that this not only applies to how we reach people in the majority world, and yes, most of the world does think in terms of honor and shame, but how we reach our own people over here.

How many of us have had guilt for a past sin that we’ve done and while we know forgiveness, we still have a lot of shame over it? It is just painful to look back and think on it every time. Many of us to some extent carry shame. I am convinced none of us can live fully in an individualistic culture. There is always still going to be this background culture of honor and shame no matter how much we try to bury it.

How would your presentation of the Gospel be different if you not only removed the objective guilt someone has before the throne of God, but you also shared with them that God has taken away their shame. What if you showed them that God has honored them? What if you showed them that honor is something they are even commanded to seek for in Scripture? What if you showed them they really are adopted into the family of God?

For this, Mischke’s book will also give a greater appreciation of the work of Christ. Removing guilt is good and important and we should never lose sight of that, but the idea of honor is essential. So much we have songs in our contemporary culture that speak of God as if He is our buddy and our best friend. What if you instead got the message that you are seated in the heavens as Ephesians 2 says? What if you were told you were adopted into the family of God, as can be found at the end of Romans 8? I can’t help but think of C.S. Lewis who said we are far too easily pleased. We want to be a friend of God. He wants us seated in the heavens.

Now I do not agree with everything Mischke says. For instance, with challenge-riposte, I think Mischke does go against it some. I think Jesus in fact engaged heavily in it and the resurrection, as Mischke rightly shows, is certainly the ultimate riposte. The early church did the same as did the apostles and where the honor of God is challenged today, we also need often to engage in challenge-riposte as well.

Still, this is the kind of book I wish every pastor would read. It is an excellent introduction to this kind of thinking for those who might not be familiar with it at all. If we could reclaim this, we would not only have much more vibrant Christian lives, but we would also be able to understand the Bible and the historical Jesus far better than we do. In fact, while some have said there could be a fourth quest for the historical Jesus starting with taking the Gospel of John more seriously, I believe the next real quest for the historical Jesus will involve learning to understand Jesus from a majority world perspective.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

A Response to Samantha Pugsley

Is it a bad idea to wait until your wedding night? Let’s dive into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I had an article brought to my attention a couple of days ago by a Samantha Pugsley who said she waited until her wedding night for sex and regretted it.

For some of us reading the article, it was hard to tell if it was serious or not. However, for all intents and purposes, I am going to be treating it like it really is a serious article and be telling where I think Samantha went wrong and why it is that the path she has chosen today is still the incorrect one.

“Believing that true love waits, I make a commitment to God, myself, my family, my friends, my future mate and my future children to be sexually abstinent from this day until the day I enter a biblical marriage relationship. As well as abstaining from sexual thoughts, sexual touching, pornography, and actions that are known to lead to sexual arousal.”

To which I say to an extent, good luck with that. Not saying that about the desire to make a commitment to God and keep yourself sexually pure. That’s all well and good. Yet there were extremes here. Avoid pornography. Yes. That’s not an extreme. Avoid any sexual thoughts or anything leading to sexual arousal?

Good luck with that one.

Certainly speaking for men, if we were to avoid everything that would arouse us, we’d probably have to hole up and be hermits and even then, I am sure we could find something. Sex is something inescapable in our culture, and it’s not just in a culture like ours that’s rather loose with sexual morality. Sex is just everywhere no matter where you go.

You see, wherever you go, you’ll find people. Those people, believe it or not, are sexual beings. Whether they’re virgins or not, they’re all either male or female. Why are all of them living and breathing today? Because at one point in time, a man and a woman came together in sexual union and that person that you see is the result of that union.

And avoid sexual thoughts? That’s too much of a legalism for anyone. You are going to think sexually. It’s not necessarily a wrong thing. How you deal with it could be, but you are made to think sexually. When you are dating someone also, you will be thinking sexually. You’ll be thinking about when you can finally get to see all that that person has to give you and enjoy the gift of intimacy with them. That’s normal.

So right at the start, Pugsley has taken an extreme stance and one that I don’t think any Christian should take. It’s part of the idea too many Christians have that sex is something dirty. Of course, in the same breath that they’re told that it’s dirty, they’re also told that they should save it for someone they love.

Pugsley goes on to tell about how she made her oath at ten, not even knowing what sex is, which tells me we need to do a better job with teaching our youth about sexuality early on. No. I’m not saying teach your 3 year-old about the birds and the bees. I am saying teach them some about how their body works and how they should respect it as well as the bodies of others.

The church taught me that sex was for married people. Extramarital sex was sinful and dirty and I would go to Hell if I did it. I learned that as a girl, I had a responsibility to my future husband to remain pure for him. It was entirely possible that my future husband wouldn’t remain pure for me, because he didn’t have that same responsibility, according to the Bible. And of course, because I was a Christian, I would forgive him for his past transgressions and fully give myself to him, body and soul.

Now naturally, I agree with the first part that sex is for married people. I have a number of friends who are single and who I think plan to marry some day and I do look forward to when they can experience this gift. Yet I wonder what kind of church it is that teaches you will go to hell for sex outside of marriage but that seems to apply only if you’re a female. Men have to stay pure also. Of course, there should be forgiveness if one person messed up before marriage, but both men and women should seek to keep themselves pure.

Also, sex outside of marriage is not the unforgivable sin. Making it a lifestyle does indicate that you are not a Christian, per 1 Cor. 6, but there are couples who have made mistakes and some of them are happily married today after finding the grace in Christ that they need for what they have done.

Once I got married, it would be my duty to fulfill my husband’s sexual needs. I was told over and over again, so many times I lost count, that if I remained pure, my marriage would be blessed by God and if I didn’t that it would fall apart and end in tragic divorce.

It is certainly true that a wife is to meet her husband’s needs. 1 Cor. 7:1-5 makes this abundantly clear. What Pugsley was apparently not taught was the reverse. The husband is also supposed to meet the needs of the wife. Paul is certainly talking about sexual needs here, although he would certainly include other needs a husband was to provide. In fact, the only reason for withholding was to devote yourself to prayer mutually and then come together quickly due to lack of self-control. This is a good word of wisdom to too many women in marriages who might be tempted to use sex as a weapon. If your husband doesn’t do what you want, then punish him by withholding sex! Sex is supposed to be an act of love. You are never to use it as a weapon. The same goes for husbands. If your wife is someone who really really wants a lot of sex (And if this is you, I can’t help but think that I agree with Mark Gungor when he said “On behalf of all men, I want to say ‘We hate you.’ “)  then you don’t use sex as a weapon on her either. The marriage bed is to be a place of peace and safety. It is not to be a weapon.

For more than a decade, I wore my virginity like a badge of honor. My church encouraged me to do so, saying my testimony would inspire other young girls to follow suit. If the topic ever came up in conversation, I was happy to let people know that I had taken a pledge of purity.

Believe it or not, this is problematic. It is good to be a virgin, but you are not a virgin for the sake of virginity. I have written on virginity elsewhere. As a married man, I am obviously no longer a virgin. I am pleased to no longer be one. But at the same time, I do think it is honorable if you are a virgin while unmarried because you want to save yourself for marriage. If you plan to never marry, then you must take lifelong celibacy and do so for a good that you consider to be greater.

What I would want to ask Pugsley is if she was seeing virginity as an end in itself. Virginity is not a goal. Virginity is a pathway to a goal. That goal is ultimately holiness. If you plan to marry, it is for saving yourself for marriage so you can enjoy sexual union with your spouse. If it is not your plan to marry, then it is for something greater, such as devotion to the Kingdom of God as in 1 Cor. 7.

It became my entire identity by the time I hit my teen years. When I met my then boyfriend-now husband, I told him right away that I was saving myself for marriage and he was fine with that because it was my body, my choice and he loved me.

Once again, I see the extreme. Virginity is not meant to be your identity. Christ is meant to be your identity. Still, I must say the man she was dating at least had the right idea. He respected her choice. I have also written on this elsewhere. Women need to realize they set the bar for how much they are worth as a woman and anyone who sets the price lower is your enemy essentially. They are cheapening not just themselves, but you and all other women.

We were together for six years before we got married. Any time we did anything remotely sexual, guilt overwhelmed me. I wondered where the line was because I was terrified to cross it. Was he allowed to touch my breasts? Could we look at each other naked? I didn’t know what was considered sexual enough to condemn my future marriage and send me straight to Hell.

At the start, I’m wondering why a six year wait. Some people like to wait for an education to be finished or to start a career, but if you’re someone who is burning, and it sure seems like they were, go ahead and get married. As readers of this blog know, my wife and I met and married in less than a year. We knew where we were going and we knew it quick. I have even been told that my roommate told a mutual friend when I got home from the first visit to meet Allie that they needed to start getting set to book a wedding chapel.

As for what would send you straight to Hell and condemn your future marriage, nothing. God can forgive and repair all things in your marriage. He can repair any damage that you do beforehand. You have to submit and that can be painful and it is a process if it is done, but it is still doable. I use the list of the 12 steps of intimacy and encourage dating couples to not go beyond #8. We never did.

An unhealthy mixture of pride, fear, and guilt helped me keep my pledge until we got married. In the weeks before our wedding, I often got congratulated on keeping my virginity for so long. The comments ranged from curious (how in the world did you manage?) to downright disgusting (I bet you’re going to have one busy wedding night!). I let them place me on the pedestal as their virginal, perfect-Christian-girl mascot.

Pugsley is certainly right that it was an unhealthy mixture. If virginity was all about her, she had a problem. I do wonder about the idea she has of downright disgusting remarks. What is disgusting about hearing you’ll have a busy wedding night?

When my wife and I got married, we had several members of TheologyWeb, where I debated and still do debate, come to our wedding. I understand that after the wedding, they all got together for a little mini-convention. I have often wondered what was said at that convention, but considering they were there for our wedding and there were guys present at the table, and some of them were married, I am sure some jokes about sex were flying around.

I would expect nothing less.

Sex is not a topic we should be hesitant to speak about. The fact that we are is a problem. It’s all God’s idea. It’s His beautiful creation and if you take the Bible seriously, you must admit that God has an awful lot to say in there about sex! He even has one whole book devoted to sex! Now I know we could say “It’s a beautiful allegory about God and Israel or Christ and the church.” Yeah yeah yeah. Let’s just say that upfront it’s a poem about sex and why not? God celebrates it. So should we!

Now of course, some comments can be crude and many of us know when they are, but not all of them are. We usually know when we have crossed that line. I remember years ago being in an AOL chat room where one lady said she was signing off because her husband was going to bed and was motioning that he’d like her to come up with him with a bunch of “ooooooooooooh”s following. Yeah. We all knew what was going on. It wasn’t crude. It was a knowing delight in fact.

I also have a good friend who I used to regularly tease her when she’d talk about having plans with her husband one time and she’d just say to me “Go and watch your Smallville DVDs.” In other words, get your mind elsewhere. It was a joke for us that we always liked to do. Now that I’m married, if she says something to me, I’ll say “Go watch your Babylon Five DVDs.”

In fact, we should be talking about sex regularly, not just in the humorous sense, but in the accountability sense. On Facebook, for instance, I have a group for Christian men to help us learn how to be better husbands to our wives and prepare those who aren’t married to learn how to better husbands in the future. We need to hold each other accountable sexually.

As we move on, Pugsley tells us some about her wedding night. There is nothing really explicit here, but then we get this.

Sex hurt. I knew it would. Everyone told me it would be uncomfortable the first time. What they didn’t tell me is that I would be back in the bathroom afterward, crying quietly for reasons I didn’t yet comprehend. They didn’t tell me that I’d be on my honeymoon, crying again, because sex felt dirty and wrong and sinful even though I was married and it was supposed to be okay now.

For a woman, I am given to understand this is certainly true. The first time will be difficult. This is one area we need to clear up. In some ways, Hollywood has the right message. Hollywood wants to show us sex as fun and glamorous and exciting. They’re right! We can complain that sex is all Hollywood seems to think about, but they’re just reflecting us. It’s on our minds constantly.

Unfortunately, Hollywood doesn’t pain other realities as well. I agree with Kevin Leman in his book Sheet Music that your first time is not likely to send you to the moon and back. That’s okay. You’re just getting started. The first time will be awkward, but then so will the first time you try to play a violin or ride a bicycle or do public speaking. You’re not likely to be an expert on the first time. You’re doing something you’ve never done before with no experience beforehand and add in that you and your spouse are both going to be really excited but also really nervous.

What can be done about this? First off, I cannot stress enough that women should be getting an examination from their gynecologist beforehand, preferably a few months beforehand, and be doing anything the doctor recommends. We men generally have things different. We don’t have the pain aspect, but I encourage men to find a man you can trust and talk with them before the wedding. I had a friend who helped me prepare regularly months before the wedding and at least one other man came to my apartment personally when it was just me there to talk with me about sex and what I could expect. I also find it helpful if this isn’t a close family member because that’s awkward, or even a future family member, such as your future father-in-law. I have in fact offered myself to men I know who are about to get married to be someone who will talk to them frankly from my experience.

And especially for men, take your time. Move as slowly as you can. You’ve waited for this and there’s no time limit. It’s a beautiful moment so do all you can to really make it last. Do you want to take a time like this and just get it over with as soon as you can, or do you want to take it and make it a pleasant memory?

And for both of you, try to get in a good meal beforehand together. It can be tempting to go straight from the wedding to the hotel. Try to get something to eat first. If you have to, just order a pizza somewhere and have it delivered so that you can have a good meal together. You might even want to consider getting a couple of protein bars.

Finally, get a good Christian guide. I already mentioned Sheet Music but there are others out there you can use such as Intended for Pleasure and A Celebration of Sex for Newlyweds. Be prepared for what you are doing. Listen to trusted mentors who have been there before you.

Now to get back to Pugsley, Pugsley writes about how she suddenly felt dirty, and this is a direct response to what had happened. She had treated sex as something dirty and that lightswitch cannot be flipped on and off instantly. You handle it right and you have no problem however flipping that switch. I always held sex was beautiful and when I got married and knew that I could to this freely now, that switch was extremely easy to flip.

Before we get to the next part, let’s look also at the point that I said Hollywood has right. The problem is Hollywood has the wrong context. The church meanwhile gives the right context, a marital relationship. They just often give the wrong message. That’s the one that sex is dirty. We need to outdo the passion we see in Hollywood and do so in the right context of Christian marriage.

When we got home, I couldn’t look anyone in the eye. Everyone knew my virginity was gone. My parents, my church, my friends, my co-workers. They all knew I was soiled and tarnished. I wasn’t special anymore. My virginity had become such an essential part of my personality that I didn’t know who I was without it.

And this again is part of the problem. I had no problem coming home after our wedding and yeah, everyone knew what we were doing. So what? I expect them to know. I expect them to know that things are different now. I have a wife and I’m going to enjoy the company and joy that she provides me, and that includes sexually.

Pugsley apparently put virginity before holiness. I suspect she did not really have a full idea of sexuality from a Christian worldview which is a problem in our church. We usually give only negatives about sex to our youth. I remember being at a Silver Ring Thing service where the pastor said if you have sex before you marry, it will be for selfish reasons.

Okay. That’s fine.

Then he went on.

“Think about what you will say to your future spouse one day. Think about the shame and guilt you will feel. What if you get pregnant? What if you get an STD?”

Those could be real, but all the while I was thinking “Hmmm. Sounds to me like those are pretty selfish reasons as well.”

In fact, the more he went on, I found myself getting bored.

If you can talk about sex and leave a college guy getting bored, you are doing something wrong.

One of my friends on Facebook once said the problem in our culture is we think too much about sex. That’s not the problem. The problem is the opposite in fact! We don’t think enough about sex! We dream about it. We fantasize about it. We joke about it. We even just do it! We just don’t think about it. As a Christian, I find thinking about sex and seeing it as a revelation of God makes me hold it in awe even more.

It didn’t get better. I avoided undressing in front of my husband. I tried not to kiss him too often or too amorously so I wouldn’t lead him on. I dreaded bedtime. Maybe he’d want to have sex.

When he did, I obliged. I wanted nothing more than to make him happy because I loved him so much and because I’d been taught it was my duty to fulfill his needs. But I hated sex. Sometimes I cried myself to sleep because I wanted to like it, because it wasn’t fair. I had done everything right. I took the pledge and stayed true to it. Where was the blessed marriage I was promised?

Pugsley’s story is really common actually. If you treat sex as dirty, you will also tend to view yourself as dirty. Pugsley also is getting only one side of duty here. She is not an object just for sexual pleasure and unfortunately, that can happen even in marriage. A husband can too easily treat his wife as just an object and this is something all married men need to watch for.

I let it go on this way for almost two years before I broke down. I just couldn’t do it anymore. I told my husband everything. My feminist husband was horrified that I’d let him touch me when I didn’t want him to. He made me promise I’d never do anything I didn’t want to do ever again. We stopped having sex. He encouraged me to see a therapist and I did. It was the first step on a long journey to healing.

Let me say this. Kudos to this man! This man I think did exactly what was right! When he saw a problem, he told his wife to get the counseling she needed and in fact made it clear she did not ever need to be forced to give sex. For any husband who is in this situation, I cannot recommend enough Dawn Jones’s book. For a wife loving a man with the same struggle, there is a book by Cecil Murphey for you.

I don’t go to church anymore, nor am I religious. As I started to heal, I realized that I couldn’t figure out how to be both religious and sexual at the same time. I chose sex. Every single day is a battle to remember that my body belongs to me and not to the church of my childhood. I have to constantly remind myself that a pledge I took when I was only 10 doesn’t define who I am today. When I have sex with my husband, I make sure it’s because I have a sexual need and not because I feel I’m required to fulfill his desires.

Unfortunately, there are too many that will fit into this category. Imagine that you’re a nominal Christian and you go to church regularly, but you don’t really get into it. Then you discover sex and it seems like sex contradicts your Christianity. Are you going to be willing to give up sex for Christianity?

If you have a nominal Christianity, you’re fooling yourself if you think so. Pugsley unfortunately has the right idea to an extent. Sex can be because she wants to and she has a need to fulfill and she does so as an act of love. Of course, I think there are times a wife can go along with her husband even if she’s not feeling it then. Halfway through, that feeling could change.

Pugsley should realize many of us are devout Christians and have no trouble reconciling our Christianity with sex. I don’t even like to say that because there’s really nothing to reconcile! Sex is again God’s idea. It is His creation and the reason why it’s a totally awesome time is that He created it to be one!

I’m now thoroughly convinced that the entire concept of virginity is used to control female sexuality. If I could go back, I would not wait. I would have sex with my then-boyfriend-now-husband and I wouldn’t go to hell for it. We would have gotten married at a more appropriate age and I would have kept my sexuality to myself.

I find this quite a puzzle. After all, why would men invent a story that says they are to wait until marriage to sleep with a woman? How is that controlling female sexuality? If anything, the teaching controls male sexuality since this is something that men tend to struggle with a lot more than women do.

Unfortunately, I can’t go back but I can give you this message as a culmination of my experiences: If you want to wait to have sex until marriage make sure it’s because you want to. It’s your body; it belongs to you, not your church. Your sexuality is nobody’s business but yours.

And as one on the other end, I am very happy I waited. I am thrilled to know that Allie and I go through life only knowing each other as sexual lovers. We know that we alone have exclusive rights to each other and that will be the case until death does us part.

Unfortunately, Pugsley’s article really doesn’t present a full Christian view, and I suspect it’s because she only had the veneer of one. You do not find Scripture cited or see what role God plays in your relationship or see what the impact of the life of Christ is to have on your relationship.

Pugsley is a reminder to us that we need to do better in teaching about sexuality to the youth of the church today. Let’s try to do that.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

What Stolen Photos Say About Us Today

Is the greater concern in America that photos are stolen or what we do about it? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Okay. I really don’t pay much attention to celebrity news. I don’t really care about who is dating who and what number marriage X is on with Y and how many guys a certain female has had children with or anything like that. I have zero interest whatsoever in the tabloid section of the supermarket. I’m too busy living my own life to care about the love lives of people I’ll never meet and have no real impact whatsoever on me.

I do care about moral issues.

I don’t care for celebrities as celebrities, but they are still people, and I do care about moral issues so why not write about something like that today?

It was on Facebook that I first heard the news about Jennifer Lawrence’s nude photos being put on the internet. The term used often is leaked. They weren’t leaked. They were stolen. Her account was hacked into by some sleaze who really needs to get a life and then distributed to other sleazes who repeated his crime.

Yep. No intention of holding back on this one.

And honestly, I couldn’t even tell you who Jennifer Lawrence is. When I first saw a headline of an internet article about how the writer didn’t want to see Jennifer Lawrence naked I thought “Who’s that?” Yeah. I really do pay that little attention. It wasn’t until I read the article that I realized that she was an actress who’d had nude photos of her stolen without permission and then plastered all over the internet.

Too many people are blaming Jennifer for this. Jennifer did not do anything immoral in the affair. Perhaps when she took the pictures of herself she might have done something immoral with them, but there is nothing immoral about taking a naked picture of one’s self. Now you might say storing it on your computer could be foolish. That’s one thing. Foolish does not equal immoral. If you lock your keys in your car, that is foolish. It is not a sin you need to repent of.

Let’s suppose I was away from my own wife on a long trip and she knew I was lonely and missing her and to give me a sudden burst of cheer, she sent me some “pictures” that she took of herself. Now my wife wouldn’t do this due to that fear, but we cannot say that that was something immoral. She’s my wife and I am allowed to see her as she is. She has done nothing immoral in doing that.

You want to know someone who did something immoral?

It was the boy who hacked Jennifer Lawrence’s photos.

Yes. I know some could say it was a man, but someone who treats a woman like this is quite simply a boy. You know who else did something immoral?

Anyone else who went to look at them.

I don’t care if you distributed them or not. If you looked at photos that were got through illegal means, you are guilty of a sin against that person. Right now, there is someone who has had one of the most intimate aspects of her being displayed all over the world and she will never experience the world in the same way, especially since she will never know when she’s walking down the street which guys she comes across might have seen those photos.

And to those guys, Jennifer Lawrence is just a very attractive piece of meat.

I don’t care about celebrities as celebrities, but even then they are people, and they are not just objects. Someone doesn’t cease to be a person just because they become a celebrity.

Now on the one hand, I do understand our obsession in our country.

Most of us have come to a conclusion across all times and cultures that has stood the test of time and been practically a universal. That conclusion is that sex is just awesome.

What’s another conclusion we have come to? The female body is a beautiful work of art.

You’re not going to get any disagreement from me on any of these. 

I am a married man. I love to see my Mrs. I cannot think of a more beautiful sight to me in all the world than when I get to see my Mrs. I love sex also. There is not an experience I can think of that can compare to it. I often think of my single friends and want to say “Oh I just can’t wait until you get married and get to experience this.” (Note. Some don’t want to marry and if they don’t, that’s fine, but if they want to, I look forward to them getting to have this experience.)

And you know what? To be a man and to desire to see a woman naked and to have sex with her is no sin. It is natural. Now if you turn her into an object, that is the problem. That is lust, but I know when I was dating my Allie, I was definitely having those desires. Naturally, I contained them until we got to our wedding night.

Sex really is a transcendent experience and dare I say it, a great evidence that God exists. If there was one aspect of Intelligent Design I could go with, it’d be sex. It didn’t just happen. It wasn’t a random accident. Everything about it and the way the two systems work together fits so well and to add in, as Chesterton points out, it’s fun. We have to eat to live. It doesn’t mean food had to taste good. We could live in a world of black and white. We live in one of color. We also could have reproduced without it being fun, but the blessedness is that it is fun.

Someone I know once said the problem in our society is that we think about sex too much. Many of you might look at this scandal and think that that is true. The reality is, it isn’t. It’s a total mistake. The problem in our society is we don’t think about sex enough.

Oh we have plenty of sex! We do that constantly! We fantasize about sex all the time! We dream about it! We watch it! We talk about it! We do just about everything that can be done with sex!

Except think about it.

Do we really think about what we’re getting ourselves into with this experience, or do we just see ourselves as animals getting together in wild passion? Sex is an ultimate and complete surrender to another person. It is not just a woman making herself vulnerable to a man. A man is just as much making himself vulnerable to a woman. 

It is truly a transcendent experience. Why do we seek it so much? Because next to God, it is quite likely the greatest joy we could ever experience on this Earth. It’s why Chesterton said that the man who knocks on the door of a brothel is looking for God.

Unfortunately, when someone engages in the behavior of looking at someone naked without their okay, then they are in fact lowering that person and in fact, reducing any future joy for that person without some good counseling. 

So a man violates a woman for a moment of pleasure and leaves her with a lifetime of pain.

Is it worth it?

When sex is put at the top of the list as the highest good, they could very well think that that is the case. When people see each other as just animals, then that will also more likely be the case. Say there is no Heaven to gain or Hell to shun and there is no ultimate judge and if you can get away with the pleasure, well why not?

Note in all of this I am not telling us to love sex less. May it never be. I’m just telling us to love God more and to love our fellow man more. Our fellow human being is not just an object for our sexual pleasure. Our fellow human being is someone created in the image of God. They are not just an object of pleasure, and true sexual expression between a man and a woman does not focus on the pleasure of the man or the pleasure of the woman.

It focuses on both.

It has the man being focused largely on the pleasure of the woman and the woman on the pleasure of the men. (And yes women, those of us who are married can assure you of this from our perspective. The greatest pleasure that we get out of sex is in fact knowing that we have brought great pleasure to our women.) Now of course, each person has to know enough to know what they like, but then they count on the other person to fulfill that. 

The acts done at the expense of Jennifer Lawrence or anyone else like her are entirely self-serving acts and each time, the person who is the true victim will be suffering something that could take years for her to heal while the victimizer takes a moment of pleasure. That is a very very costly moment.

The sad thing is people like Jennifer Lawrence suffer the abuse of her victimizers and then they suffer the abuse from everyone else who says “You shouldn’t have done such a thing!” Okay. Maybe she shouldn’t have and maybe it was foolish, but she does not deserve the suffering that she gets from it. Had she distributed the pictures herself, she would be guilty of victimizing herself. She did not. Someone might as well have been hiding outside her house taking pictures of her changing clothes.

Sex is a great good. It is a good we can seek if we do so choose. Let’s not do so at the expense of our fellow human beings. If you treat a fellow human being as an object, you not only wrong them, but you also wrong yourself. If they are just an object, so are you.

While I’m at it, let’s point out this is a mistake the church often makes. We are way too negative about sex. That is why so many people identify us as prudes. I hope it’s noteworthy i have said nothing negative about sex in this post. That would be foolish. We too often in teaching our youth give them only a negative message about sex and when they discover all the positives, they think not only were we wrong about the negatives, but geez, what else could we be wrong about?

This is a mistake. In our teaching about sex, we must teach that it is something good, but like all good things, it must be treated in a sacred way. Sex is sacred indeed. I consider sex like nuclear energy. If you use it right and channel it properly, the results are wonderful. If you use it wrongly and treat it haphazardly, the results are disastrous. 

Please remember sex is sacred and don’t take it lightly. Treasure the spouse you have in your life and if you are not married, then note that you are to willfully give up sexual pleasures with a member of the opposite sex. If that is something you can live with, more power to you. If not, then go out and pay the price to get to see and treasure a member of the opposite sex. Marry them in a lifelong commitment.

People are people. They are not just objects for your pleasure. 

In Christ,

Nick Peters