Deeper Waters Podcast 9/2/2017: Rebecca Lemke

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

Many of us tend to think in extremes. We’re either too conservative or too liberal. This happens in Christian circles as well. We either go all in with something that is wrong and join the culture, like many progressives, or like some conservatives, we go all out and practically avoid anything just because we don’t want to be thought of doing anything wrong and can easily create a guilt culture.

So when it comes to sexuality, we tend to think the same way. Many of our progressives have taken wrong stances. Pre-marital sex is okay! You can live together before you get married! Some even have no problem accepting the historical position of the church on homosexuality. Many of us realize that this is a problem.

Yet can we go too far the other way? Perhaps we can. Perhaps in an eagerness to rightly avoid falling into sin, the purity movement has gone too far. Of course, this is not to undermine sin. Sin is sin still. It is to say that maybe not everything we think of as sinful is. Maybe it could also be that if we do sin along the way, we are not ruined for life.

My guest this Saturday went through the purity movement and was greatly hurt by it. Today, there is no animosity towards Christianity or the movement itself as she continues to be a Christian woman encouraging other Christian women how to honor God and stay holy without being in the purity movement. Her name is Rebecca Lemke, author of The Scarlet Virgins.

So who is she?

Rebecca Lemke is the author of The Scarlet Virgins. She has appeared on The Federalist, Huffington Post, Iron Ladies, and To Love Honor and Vacuum, in addition to speaking on live radio about the topics in her book.

Many of you might remember the book I Kissed Dating Good-Bye, which was in many ways another book of the Bible for a lot of people. The author has since even admitted he could have been wrong on a lot of it. It’s easy to understand that sex before marriage is a big mistake, but even a kiss before marriage was viewed as a big mistake.

For many women, the ideas of maintaining purity meant you had to dress every way to avoid being desirable to the great big walking hormones out there known as men. It also meant that if you gave in and had sex before marriage, you were damaged goods. In the end, on your wedding night you would have nothing to give your husband. Women were not taught how to properly think about sex. It’s not much of a shock then that the wedding night can be awfully hard for some women as they have to somehow immediately flip a switch from off to on.

Guys don’t have as hard a time with that switch, but if there is something I think guys struggle with, it’s the question of lust. If a guy thinks a girl is attractive, is he guilty of lust? Is it wrong to ever think about sex? We have rightfully avoided much of the sins of progressivism, but we have often gone to the other extreme and turned into a guilt culture that I think Scripture never intended.

Join me this Saturday as we talk about the purity culture. How can young people stay “pure” without being part of the purity movement? How can we properly teach our youth about sex and sexuality? We don’t want to say anything goes, but at the same time, what boundaries should we be setting?

Be watching for the next episode and please do go on ITunes and leave a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Another Example Of Why Apologetics Is Needed

What can happen when apologetics is not taught? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

My wife found a video recently about a girl who abandoned Christianity and then made it her goal to lose her virginity. I wanted to know if there was more to the story as issues relating to a true understanding of sexuality and apologetics are both important to me. It didn’t take long to find a column she’d written on this.

The column is really a good one and there’s not much going after Christianity in it. Sadly, it looks like the girl, Arla Knudsen, grew up in a rather fundamentalist sort of Christianity. It’s interesting how the girls seem to be told the message in this while the guys are conspicuously absent. Let’s go through and see what Knudsen says.

I was 13 years old, standing on stage with a group of fellow teenagers, when our pastor announced in front of the entire congregation, “These young people have all made the righteous decision to save themselves for marriage.”

It was the grand finale to a weekend-long purity retreat, which was basically two days of journaling, praying and listening to frightening statistics about premarital sex.

We were told our virginity was the most precious wedding gift, and if we didn’t wait until marriage to have sex, we were likely to get divorced. Attendees were overwhelmingly girls.

Now there is some truth here. Obviously, saving yourself for marriage is a righteous decision. The problem is the reasons against this. It’s nothing noted about it being a wrong behavior. There’s nothing about the many purposes of sex. It’s all about “Here’s some bad stuff that could happen to you.” Even if I agreed with that, is that necessarily the best motivator?

Also, virginity is a great gift to give to your future spouse. On the evening of July 24, 2010, after my wife and I were married, I was pleased for us to be able to spend a night together and know that we had saved ourselves for marriage. Does that mean if one of us hadn’t that there would be no grace? Absolutely not! Christians are supposed to be all about grace! Of course, it means you turn from a life of sin, but it doesn’t mean that your past has to determine your future.

I also wonder again, where are the men? Now it could be that this was a church largely of girls, but I doubt that. Could this have been a ceremony for just women and not men? Possibly. Could it also be though that the men are too often seen as helpless bundles of hormones that just won’t control themselves and it’s up to the women?

I am married and I went through dating. Were there times Allie and I could have made a mistake before marriage? Absolutely. We didn’t. I had to be strong as well. It wasn’t just knowing a few Bible verses that kept me going. It was having a place for sex in my worldview and knowing how it fit. Now being a married man, I realize that much of what I said about sex was accurate, but it did not do it justice.

In a good dating relationship, both people need to have the priority set before them to save sex for marriage. There will be times where one person is weak and the other has to be strong. Your odds of successfully waiting are greatly increased if both of you can be watching yourselves.

I grew up in a small town in Oklahoma where most of the community belonged to a denomination of Christianity that abstains from drinking and dancing. Growing up, I had conformed to that belief system. The cool crowd at my school wasn’t the partyers or potheads but the devout Christians.

In an attempt to fit in, there I was on stage, slipping a silver purity ring onto my finger. The ring was modest, dainty and feminine, just as I was supposed to be. I wore that ring for years. I fantasized about having it melted down and turned into my future husband’s wedding band.

It is sad that Christians are more often known for what they don’t do than for what they do do. Still, I can say that her intentions in the second paragraph are entirely noble and praiseworthy. If a woman wants to marry, she should look forward to it. She should look forward to a married life with a husband. Yet it’s around this time when we start to see problems.

I grew up believing two things. One: Love and sex are mutually exclusive. And two: My sexuality is not my own. It belonged to Jesus and then, once I married, to my husband. I sensed that my sexuality was something of great worth to other people. Whether in protecting or exploiting it, I understood that it was powerful.

For the first thing, yes, love and sex CAN BE mutually exclusive. They don’t have to be. In a good marriage, they won’t be. For me, some of my greatest times for sexual intimacy with my wife are when I am filled with the utmost love for her. For me, I cannot imagine loving my wife without us having things right between us in the bedroom.

The second point is a bit concerning. Knudsen’s sexuality does belong to her. Sure, Jesus has charge over her body ultimately, but he’s entrusted it to her to use it to serve Him. When she gets married, will her body belong to her husband? Yes it will. 1 Cor. 7 tells us that. Here’s what else it tells us. His body will belong to her. Both spouses bodies belong to each other. Allie’s body belongs to me. My body belongs to her.

The way Knudsen puts it, it is practically as if her body is something for her husband only and could sadly be a means of satisfying his own desires. Ideally, the body is meant to be a vessel to communicate love. The desires themselves are not wrong. A husband should desire his wife and a wife should desire her husband. The problem comes when a wife is viewed as a release valve by her husband to take care of the sexual tension he feels. He doesn’t care about the intimacy with her then. He just cares about release. It’s also a problem if the wife sees it the same way. In that sense, she then automatically assumes her husband is using her and doesn’t really care about her for her. Men. Don’t treat your wives like a piece of meat to be used for your consumption but treat her as a person. Ladies. Try to realize that for many a man out there, when he wants to be sexual with you, it’s not because he feels built up pressure alone, but because he feels a great love for you and telling him no can be heard to him as “I just don’t have the desire for you that you have for me.”

It’s hard for me to pinpoint why I stopped believing. It had to do with the increasingly obvious hypocrisy within my own community. Girls would use prayer requests as a mode of gossip, saying things like, “I have a prayer request for Hannah because I heard she had sex with Tanner.”

This is indeed a problem. Gossip in churches is often disguised as a prayer request. Unfortunately, had apologetics been taught, Knudsen would have had something to fall back on. Sure, these Christians are hypocrites, but I know Jesus rose from the dead because of XYZ.

Hypocrisy to me is actually one of the oddest reasons for leaving. It’s akin to saying I reject Darwinian Evolution because it was used with eugenics and other such things. Okay. That would be a terrible use of the theory, but does that prove the theory itself is wrong? One proves that by looking at the theory. At the same way, it does not work to say “Christians are hypocrites, therefore Jesus didn’t rise from the dead.”

At this point, imagine how things could have been different had the church been educating? There was a lot of moralizing going on, and of course we need to teach morality, but that’s not all that needs to be going on. Too often, that morality is just floating in the air with nothing to support it. As we see in this story, when the worldview goes, the moral ideas taught with it can just as quickly go.

I was also coming of age, beginning to think for myself, and realizing there are other ways to live my life. I took my ring off when I was 16.

Once my ring was gone, I didn’t fit in with the girls at my small, conservative school, so I began to try to be as different from them as possible and, in my mind, therefore better.

I adopted a sort of quasi feminism in lieu of my faith. I had a misguided idea of what a modern feminist had to be: left-leaning politically, powerful, independent and sexually liberated.

To me, sexually liberated meant promiscuous. I was not promiscuous. In fact, I had made it through my teens without even a second glance from a boy. I chalked it up to the fact that the cowboy jocks at my school just didn’t get how cool and different I was.

This is also the mindset that one sees in many internet atheists. They are the enlightened ones on Christianity as opposed to the others who still believe. Unfortunately, this makes them even harder to reach. For comments on being promiscuous, let’s wait till the next section.

But deep down, I longed to be the object of pursuit. It became my mission to lose my virginity. My friends who had already lost theirs said, “Once it’s gone, you can never get it back,” as if they were trying to hold on to their virgin status through me. But it was the only thing left I had to expel in order to erase the girl I had been on that stage.

I thought that once I was no longer a virgin, I would finally be free. I wanted to claim a new sense of identity. I wanted to be free to sleep with other men. I wanted the pressure of my “first time” to be gone.

I do want to state that there is nothing wrong with wanting to be the object of pursuit. Both men and women want to be wanted. If you’re in a marriage, remember both of you want to be wanted. There’s a story about a lady being told in marriage counseling once that her husband would have a love affair with someone so let it be her.

But notice this person is not wanting sex for the magic of sex and the joy of the love, but simply as a status symbol. One wonders what kind of status symbol this is on the dating market. Contrary to what is thought, many men do want to marry virgins. If dating, they can also often lose respect for a girl if she’ll sleep with them. After all, if she did it for me, who else has she done it for?

There’s also something that Chesterton once said. When a man knocks on the door of a brothel, he’s looking for God. God is someone who pulls us out of ourselves, but the next best thing for that is sex. Sex is a very transcendent experience where you can lose sight of your inhibitions and such and become much more passionate and excited.

This wouldn’t happen for me until after I graduated, when I moved New York City for college, lost 30 pounds and went blond.

At the Fashion Institute of Technology, where 85 percent of students are women, the dating scene was bleak. So on weekends, I would go to college bars, dressed in black, and marvel at the guys who wanted to buy me drinks and tell me I was pretty, all in the feeble hope that I might go home with them.

They seemed as if they would do anything. But I had certain criteria for that man. First, I had to be able to trust him. Second, I could not be in love with him. While I expected him to care about me, I wanted to have the upper hand.

First off, yes ladies. For many a man, sex can be such a strong drive that a man will say anything for an evening with you. I challenge you with this suggestion. If you want to know how much a man wants you, then tell him he has to make a lifelong commitment in a wedding ceremony to have you. If he’s not willing, he’s just put a limit on how much he wants you.

Second, it’s a shame that this person had already separated sex from love. In that sense, sex becomes a selfish act. It’s all about using the other person then. Knudsen wanted to be able to control the relationship and usually in a relationship, the person who has the most control is the person that the relationship means the least to. She wanted that.

Knudsen goes on to talk about meeting a guy named Zach. The details don’t really matter. What does matter is how she gets to what happened.

Once we were in bed, things came to a standstill. I stopped kissing him and delivered the classic line, “What are you thinking right now?”

“I don’t know. What are you thinking?”

“I’m thinking I want you to be my first,” I said, “if you’re comfortable with that.” I didn’t want to be some meek little girl who was too scared to ask for what she wanted.

“O.K.,” he replied with a smile.

“I want you to know, it’s really important to me that we remain friends after this. I know I live halfway across the country, and this isn’t going to be a relationship, but I would like you to be a part of my life.”

He agreed to this.

I was surprised by how quickly it was over. It was painful yet gratifying. Zach was careful and quiet. I felt so responsible that we used protection and I remembered to go to the bathroom right after. I did everything exactly right. Afterward, he held me while fighting the urge to sleep.

Once again, if you have the man in bed and he’s ready to go, he will say to and agree to just about anything for that. The bedroom is not the place to be making deals like that. In fact, that can be a way of using sex as a weapon, which can happen even in marriage.

Second, everything Knudsen was saying did indeed say, as she realizes later on, that she’s using him. “I want you to be my first.” (You’re a conquest for me.) “I want us to be friends but not in a relationship.” (This isn’t about knowing and loving you. It’s about having sex.) It was not about what he wanted other than the obvious of “Do you want to have sex?” which most guys will easily say yes to.

Unfortunately for women, it’s much easier for men to have sex and then disconnect emotionally. This doesn’t mean emotional connection through sex isn’t possible. When I meet young men who are Christians and waiting till marriage and engaged, I try to talk to them before they get married about what to expect on the wedding night. I ask them if they really love the girl. They tell me they do, and then I tell them I am sure they’re right and that they don’t have a clue. Once they get to their honeymoon night and have sex, everything changes. Love takes on a whole new meaning.

For guys like myself, it is an incredible emotional connection. Time with Allie like that leaves me with a great awe of the woman I married and how thankful I am and with intense confidence in myself. Women. You really don’t realize the power you can have in the life of a man so often. You will influence the man in your life one way or the other. It’s up to you what kind of influence you want to be.

One more thing, and this applies even if you’ve waited for marriage. If your idea of what sex is like comes from movies and TV, then get rid of it. It’s not really accurate. Everything always goes perfectly in the media. Real life is not like that as most married couples will tell you.

I didn’t stay the night. I wanted to sleep in my own bed. As I drove down the highway, windows open and the radio buzzing, I did feel a sense of freedom and empowerment. I had set out to do something and had done it on my terms.

This sense of satisfaction didn’t come from having a fulfilling sexual experience; it came from the fact that I now thought I had nothing left to lose.

If you want to be free, sex will not bring you freedom. It’s not meant to. In fact, it’s meant to do the opposite. It’s meant to bind you. Sex is meant to bind you to that other person and when it’s separated from that, it becomes harder and harder to form an emotional bond through sex. Note in saying that I am not saying you have sex so you can have an emotional bond. You should have that first. I am saying sex builds up the emotional bond. In a good marriage, it should be that the couple has an emotional bond which leads to an expression through sex, which leads to a greater emotional bond, which leads to more sex, which leads to, well, you get the picture. It’s a beautiful circle and there is not a law of diminishing returns. One’s spouse is not like a game one buys at a store that loses replay value. That’s because persons are not games like that. They’re intensely interesting.

The night I landed back in New York, he sent me a text: “missing you.” After that, our communication was restricted to my drunk texts that went unacknowledged by him. I thought about him a lot in the following months. I lurked on his Facebook page. What was he doing? Was he thinking about me?

Was he? Well quite likely, no. You see, a man sadly, no matter how Christian he is, can easily have a rolodex of images of women in his mind. Many times, if he’s Christian, he doesn’t want them. He would rather have only his spouse in his mind. This is another great benefit a wife can give her husband. Be the desire of his eyes so much that he will think about you constantly because he gets to see you.

Knudsen wanted to make sure the sex was nothing serious and was just another activity they did together. What a surprise that Zach thought the same way then. If he wants sex, she’s already said there’s nothing special about her because it’s not going to be a relationship. He doesn’t have to be bound to her or pay attention to her. He can just go to the next girl.

After a particularly brutal, lonely winter, I decided I needed to visit home, and my desire to see Zach played a large part in that decision. I thought if I went home, I could figure out what was going on between us.

The answer was nothing. While I was home, I posted on every social media platform announcing I was back in town, hoping he would see it and contact me. When that didn’t work, I texted him. He texted back but evaded any suggestion to meet up. By the end of my trip, I knew he simply didn’t care.

Sadly, you’re right. He didn’t. What reason had been given to care. In fact, you’d already shown that in that sense, you didn’t care about him. More on this later.

I hadn’t romanticized my first time. I never thought we were in love. I never expected good sex. I never expected to have feelings afterward. And I certainly didn’t expect to feel rejected. I thought if I did everything right, I could control the emotions involved in physical intimacy.

But you can’t. Feelings will come. It’s up to you what you do with them, but when you deaden the positive feelings that come with sex, you make it harder and harder to bond through sex. It’s playing a dangerous game to open loose a can of emotions and think that you can survive when it happens, and sex is certainly a giant can to be opening.

I often tell people that sex is like nuclear energy. It’s beautiful and wonderful when used in the proper place and way and can lead to extremely powerful results, but let it loose where it doesn’t belong and it becomes Chernobyl. It has a massive destructive power.

Also, when a woman does have sex, she releases a great deal of Oxytocin. This is a bonding chemical. It’s especially released during sex to help with the bonding process and it happens with men and women both. It is indeed a powerful sensation for someone to have and in marriage can greatly serve its purpose. Outside of that, it can be harder and harder to form a bond.

I was mad at Zach because I assumed he had used me. In reality, I had used him for something maybe even worse than physical gratification; I used him for a feeling of power, superiority and freedom. And when I realized he didn’t care, I let him take those feelings away.

I thought losing my virginity would liberate me, and in a sense it did. I learned that no matter how calculating I am — right guy, right time, right place — I can’t control other people’s feelings, or even my own. And there’s a strange freedom in that knowledge. It allowed me to let go.

I am unclear what she let go of at the end, but I can say she is right. She used him and she let herself be used. She used him and he used her. It’s a shame that sex got reduced to an activity just for fun instead of a bonding together of two people who really love and care about each other.

If I could say something to Knudsen today, it would be that first off, I hope she’ll consider seriously investigating the claims of Jesus. Did He rise from the dead? I would hope she would know her life has purpose and meaning and she’s worth more than just sex.

Second, I would not want her to see herself as damaged goods. Yes. She made a mistake. It doesn’t change her worth. Every woman is worth more than the universe. Every woman is worth a lifelong commitment. There is no reason to sell themselves short. I would hope that she would find someone if she wants to marry who will treat her like a princess and be faithful to her. I hope she will be faithful to him and treat him like the man that he is.

Ladies. Please never let yourselves be used for sex. Your beauty is a great draw to us men and we do want that beauty, but if a man really wants your beauty, he will do whatever it takes, and that means he will make a lifelong commitment. He will let you know how much that beauty is worth to him.

When I think that my wife trusts me with her sacred body and lets me look at her beauty, it makes me think that I want to live the rest of my life a better man just to be worthy. It is a generosity that I can never repay. To behold her and love her is a privilege.

And men, in turn, never use the women in your life. Don’t cheapen them. Don’t sell yourself short either. You are also worth a lifelong commitment. If you want a way to have someone you can have for sex, marriage is a great way. It’s the way God designed for us. Marry the woman you love and then spend the rest of your life showing her how much you love her.

Sex is sacred. I hope Knudsen realizes that. I hope you and I realize that too.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: The Scarlet Virgins

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

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

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

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

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

Sometimes purity can become that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

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