Valentine’s Day Thoughts for 2017

What are we to do with Valentine’s Day? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Today is Valentine’s Day, which many also do call Singles’ Awareness Day. I do understand it. I used to dread the day, but now I’m married so that changes. As I thought about the day today, I thought about how much has changed since the coming of Christ with regard to romantic love.

One of the mistakes we often make when we read the Bible is we assume the people of the time were for the most part, just like us. They weren’t. Through studies today, we’re learning that the majority world is really radically different and we’re the odd ones out. They function more in terms of honor and shame and we in terms of guilt and innocence.

One way of change also is romantic love. Now let’s be clear. When we look at the ancients, there were indeed times that you would see a man with deep love and affection for his spouse. This was more often the exception. Many a man was seen as more of a man by how many women (Or young boys even) he could bed. The women meanwhile were to be chaste. As we see our culture abandoning Christianity, it’s not a shock that we move back to that idea even more.

Marriages were more often arranged. There wasn’t any going out and dating and finding the right man for you. You were also expected to be married at a much earlier age. Many of our fourteen-year-old girls today could be in a panic trying to decide what to wear to school the next day. Their ancestors would be busy being mothers to children. I really think one of the great disasters of our age is we’ve lost a rite of passage idea into manhood and womanhood and too many of our young people think the way you show yourself a man or a woman is by having sex instead of having the mindset of a man or a woman.

When we go to the letter to the Ephesians, we can get into a lot of arguments about a woman submitting to her husband. What we often forget is the shock that would come to the men when they heard the command to love their wives and give themselves for them. They would have thought that Paul was on the crack of his day.

Through Christ, we learned immensely about sacrificial love and men learned to be chaste and be only with their wives sexually. This became a reigning paradigm for some time, but sadly we’ve seen ourselves moving away from it. Just yesterday in fact, I read a statistic about how 30% of women doing online dating sleep with the guy on the first date. You have to wonder at that point if anything is sacred.

Valentine’s Day is a day for us as Christians to show the world a different and a better way. I always encourage Christians who are married to live out their marriage. If we look at the world as dishonoring marriage, my fear is that the world does it because the church did it first. If we want the battle for true marriage, we need to not only defend marriage as it is, but we need to live it as it is.

I don’t know what your plan is for your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day, but if you are a husband, love her as Christ loved the church. If you are a wife, love him as the church loves Christ. Seek to give of yourselves. There is no place in marriage for looking out for yourself. In fact, we are told to look out for the interests of others above ourselves. If you can’t do that in marriage, where can you do it?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Do We Think About Sex Too Much?

Do we need to change our minds? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I remember years ago seeing someone on Facebook put up a status saying that the problem with our society is we think too much about sex. One can see his point. You turn on the TV and before too long, you see sex. You listen to our political debates, you hear sex. More and more people are living together before marriage. Sex is seen as a rite of passage for many men to show that they are indeed men. Sex is practically our national obsession. So surely the answer to the question is obvious.

The answer to the question is, no. We don’t think too much about sex. I contend just the opposite. We think too little about sex.

“What? Are you crazy?! Look at what you just said! Look at what’s on our TV sets! Look at what you see in the movies! Look at how sexually active our young people are! Look at how much people are having sex! Surely we’re thinking too much about this!”

No. Not at all. We dream about it. We fantasize about it. We hope about it. We desire it. We just outright do it plenty. All of this is true, but we don’t spend a lot of time really thinking about it. We don’t really examine what the national obsession is and why we care about it so much.

To be sure, let me state I am never at all condemning strong sexual desire. I am a happily married man. You think I’m going to condemn sexual desire? No way. One of the great gifts of marriage is that you get to experience the fulfillment of this sexual desire. In fact, if you have strong, strong sexual desire, you should go and get married.

The question we need to ask is what is this great wonder that we are so amazed about? I find it amazing that we have spent so many years developing great tools for our entertainment. We have more channels on TV, more games we can play, more gadgets we can be amused with, etc. What is it that we still find ourselves so obsessed with? Sex. That is just what our great forerunners thousands of years ago were obsessed with. All the pleasures of the world and we still can’t top the one from the beginning. Why is that?

Before I was married, there was something I thought odd about sex. Many of my fellow friends and I who were all waiting for marriage had this great and intense desire for something we were sure was very good, and we had no idea why we just seemed to instinctively know that. How can you have an intense longing for something that you’ve never had before? This is part of the mystery.

And what is it that we really want? A lot of women have a really simplistic view of men for instance. This is the view that all a man cares about is physical release and not emotional connection at all. The Unveiled Wife site had a recent article about an interview with her husband and it says “His answers will surprise you.” You can read it here.

They might surprise you if you’re a woman. Most husbands I know were reading it and going through and saying “Yeah. That’s exactly what I would have said.” As I read the article, I knew that that was exactly what I would have said as well. It wasn’t breaking news. That a lot of women consider this a shock is something that I do find concerning.

Could it be we really want what could be called a transcendent experience? Could it be we truly want to be accepted by another totally? Could it be that sex is really built in so that each of us gets something we deeply desire? A man desires to be strong and respected and wanted. A woman desires to be loved and seen as beautiful. Sex gives us both.

We have spent so much time doing sex and treating it like just a hobby, instead of really thinking about it. This is especially so for us Christians. After all, sex is not our idea. It’s God’s. He made it. He set everything in motion. He built in the desire. He even gave us a book in Scripture all about the celebration of sex.

Earlier in the post, I indicated that we see sex everywhere and talk about it everywhere. Unfortunately, that isn’t true. There is one place we don’t do that. That is the church. In the church, sex is very often that forbidden topic. Sure, many of our men and some of our women are spending the week struggling with pornography. Sure. Many of our young people are thinking that any sexual expression is okay as long as it’s in love and you don’t hurt anyone and are living together and sexually active themselves. Sure, our church members are thinking about this topic and seeing it all around them and the public school system and the rest of the world has a message about sex, but that doesn’t mean we need to talk about it.

There’s a word for that. That word is “stupid.”

If anything, the church should be talking about sex more than anyone else. We worship the God who created it. It is His gift to us. We are to handle it properly. We ought to be taught about the sacredness of sex. It’s not something dirty, like many people believe. It’s also not something just for men that women are to suffer through. Sex is holy and we as God’s people ought to treat it as holy.

Unfortunately, many of us don’t really think about sex at all, which is sadly the way we go through our Christianity. We go and sing songs and listen to sermons and read our Bibles, but we don’t really think about what is going on. We go through the experience and we want the experience, but we don’t think about it.

Perhaps today we should begin thinking better about both. If we’re married, how can we better treat sex with our spouses? If we’re single, we still have to honor sex properly, such as by realizing that unless we marry, we have to abstain from all sexual activity. We also have to promote sexual holiness with our fellow man, as in helping to build up marriages and come along side couples when thy have problems.

You know, be the church. We are to be the church in every area of our lives.

Even sex.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

It Is Okay To Enjoy Your Life

Can enjoyment help spread the Kingdom? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

When I did my senior sermon in Bible College, I chose to talk about the theme of wonder. Why is it that we don’t seem to have wonder in anything? Christian philosopher once said the great tragedy for the ancients was that they worshiped the sun, moon, and stars. Our great tragedy is we’re not even tempted to.

Don’t get me wrong here. I’m not opposed to the scientific enterprise, but we’ve reached a point where if we think we can explain anything scientifically, it loses its fascination with us many times. Dan Barker relates an experience in Godless where he is riding with a relative who is trying to convince him of God and points to the beauty of the mountains. Barker responds by giving a scientific explanation of how mountains are formed. The relative takes this as a defeater. Why should it be? Cannot the mountains be the beautiful work of God that hold us in wonder and still be the result of a scientific process?

When I preached the above sermon, someone beforehand hearing about what I was speaking on had told me about a then recent cover of Moody magazine with the question “Is it right to enjoy my life?” Yes. Someone had to honestly ask that and someone had to honestly write an article saying it is no sin to enjoy your life.

Of course, this doesn’t equal traditional hedonism. Don’t go and do something just because it’s fun. At the same time, don’t think something is sinful just because it’s fun. Dare I say it, but one of the great slams you could give to the evil one would be to rightfully enjoy your life?

Why? Because we believe every good and perfect gift comes from God. That means that we ought to enjoy these things. 1 Tim. 6:17 even says this explicitly. God supplies us with all things richly for our enjoyment. This applies to the natural world that we see, but it also implies to the things that we create. We can enjoy a good movie, book, TV show, artwork, hobby, etc.

When we enjoy them, we are delighting in the gifts of God. There is so much around us every day and we are showing the proper gratitude for them. Boredom is not the idea of God. Boredom is more the idea of the evil one. It is the idea of saying that there is nothing here worth being excited about.

It’s odd because we think the devil is behind pleasure. He’s not. Pleasure is a tool for the enemy only if it will keep us from the greatest pleasure, knowing God. This is because we usually see God as a killjoy who is opposed to our fun. If there’s any area of life where this is shown clearest, it’s in sexuality.

Something about sex is that while it has many purposes, one such purpose is pleasure. Sex was meant to be enjoyable for a man and a woman. A woman even has a clitoris just for the purpose that she can enjoy sex. I remember hearing years ago the saying that the devil will do anything he can to make a couple have sex before they’re married, and after they’re married he’ll do anything he can to keep them from having sex. Loving sex in a committed marital union that binds the man and the woman together is something that builds up trust and intimacy and something the evil one would not want. One of the best gifts you could give the Kingdom of God if you’re married is a happy and thriving marriage.

Sadly, Christians have earned the reputation of being opposed to anything enjoyable. How many of us have heard this kind of testimony? “Well, I used to go out and party, get drunk, hang out with beautiful women and have a lot of sex, but now I am a Christian and I don’t do any of that stuff.” A lot of non-Christians in the audience would be saying “Sounds like you lost out.” They’re not right, but can we understand how when we phrase it that way, that they could have a point?

To this day, I can remember being in a Sunday School class with a friend of mine and hearing the teacher say with a finger pointing and in the most monotone way that I can imitate to this day “The Christian life should be the most exciting life of all.” He was right in what he said, but horribly wrong in how he said it. There was nothing exciting about it. The dry tone made us think that he couldn’t have been listening to himself.

I’m not at all advocating a materialistic hedonism or anything like that, but I am saying we Christians need to do some serious thinking about the role of pleasure in our lives. It is no sin to enjoy the world God created. It is no sin to delight in the things He has made. We could say if anything is sin, it is the opposite. It is sin to not appreciate and delight in what He has made.

So for me, I want to make it that part of my witness to the world is that I enjoy being a Christian and I delight in it. I love what I do, including being in the field of Christian apologetics, and I love that I’m married to the woman that I love. These give me enough reason to wake up and be thankful every day. My life has meaning because I am part of the grand story that God is creating and my life is not a punishment. It is a gift.

I think I’ll treat it like one.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Jesus Among Secular Gods

What do I think of the book by Ravi Zacharias and Vince Vitale published by FaithWords? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I have been doing apologetics for a little over fifteen years. When I first started, one of the shaping books for me was Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christ followed by The Case For Faith. It was in the latter that one mind I read particularly gripped me with his story, personality, and reasoning style and that was Ravi Zacharias. One book of his quite popular at the time was Jesus Among Other Gods. I remember devouring that book and thoroughly enjoying it. Now here we are years later and we have Jesus Among Secular Gods.

This might surprise some people. Secularists don’t have gods! In the sense of real entities that are deities that have their own being, sure, but there are a number of isms out there like scientism and hedonism. Can the claims of Jesus stand up to secular thought? Does secular thought really answer the deep questions of life?

Ravi has a story early on about dialoguing with someone in the Middle East who drew two circles. For most Middle Easterners, their faith is the outer rim of the circle and their life is a little dot in the center. We have it reversed. It’s easy for us to compartmentalize our faith. This is what the Middle Easterner believed would lead to the fall of Western civilization. One’s religious walk is a secondary part of their life instead of becoming what influences their whole life.

Ravi goes on from there to interact with Stephen Hawking who suggested that we need to find extraterrestrial life if it’s out there before it destroys us. I appreciated Ravi’s cynicism at first in wanting to say that since we’re having a hard time finding intelligent life here, let’s find it elsewhere, but his next thought was even better. Isn’t it fascinating that intelligent life is something we are to be looking for outside of our Earth, unless that intelligent life happens to be theistic.

Richard Dawkins isn’t safe either. Many of us remember him saying that

The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.

Yet if God is a fiction, then we have a problem. The actions attributed to him are really to be attributed to some really gullible people who in turn did some evil things. If so, then where does the evil lie? If Dawkins has it that God is a fiction and in turn there is no fall away from him but man living by his own nature, then aren’t we the source of the evil? Isn’t it the problem man playing God? Should we not strive to avoid that?

I like a story he tells about Billy Graham visiting Disneyworld and telling Walt Disney that he had created an amazing world of fantasy. Disney replied that Graham had it backward. He had shown the real world. Everything else was fantasy. What did he mean by that?

In Disney’s world, one of the greatest gifts is children are children. They laugh and play and have utter delight. Go out there and what do you find? You find children attacking other children. You find children cutting themselves and harming themselves. You don’t find white knights coming along to save them and you find dragons roaming in the real world that no one will fight.

Of course, Ravi and Vince contrast this with answers from other faiths. A story is told about talking to a man from a Muslim country asking the difference between the Christian God and the Muslim God. He was told that if you want to know what the Christian God is like, read the life of Jesus. If you want to know what the Muslim God is like, read the life of Muhammad. That was enough to settle the question for him.

Vince also shows himself to be taking on the thinking of Ravi. I liked how he described that we talk about the intellect of God and how He knows everything immensely and we can’t compare, but when we talk about His love, we downplay it. We make God’s love very human and act like it’s just as prone to being broken as ours is.

I also appreciated the story about Matthew Parris writing on how Africa needs God. God gives the people hope. Following God helps them to be provided for and keeps them away from other gods such as the infusion of Nike, or the witch doctor, or the machete. We need to have evangelism going on in Africa and not let it be stopped.

By the way, Matthew Parris is an atheist.

Vince when taking on hedonism starts with the idea of the experience machine. Imagine a machine you could plug into and feel the sensation of any experience you wanted. You could be making love to a supermodel or going into battle in whatever time period you want or you could be making a scientific breakthrough. You can have whatever you want. Should you plug into the machine?

No. We don’t want just the feeling of doing these things. We want to be able to do these kinds of things. We don’t want to just feel loved. We want to be loved. We don’t want to just have dreams. We want to accomplish them.

Vince also tells about the Christian view of sex here. I like the story he tells about seeing a testimony in the past with someone saying “I used to drink. I used to party. I used to have sex. But now I’m a  Christian and I don’t do these things any more.” If this is your testimony, please stop. Everyone who isn’t a Christian is saying “It sounds like your life was better before.”

Vince reminds us that sex is something sacred and meant for a covenant of two people. The action means something and it is special when saved for that covenant relationship. Our world treats sex as something common and the results have been horrid for us.

That being said, God is not anti-pleasure, but he calls us to more than just living for ourselves in this moment. In fact, he tells us our greatest joy is in denying ourselves and following Him. Lewis would say this is really having us be more ourselves than we ever were before. Christianity is not opposed to pleasure, including sexual pleasure, but that pleasure is not to be a god.

The writers also point out the importance of disagreement. We have reached an age where to disagree with someone is to devalue them as a person supposedly. To be sure, there are wrong ways to disagree with people, but that doesn’t mean all disagreement is the problem. Disagreement can mean we value the person’s opinion and we think the subject itself is really important.

The book overall is a good look at the thinking we have in the West and how we need to contrast that with Christ. Ravi I have found consistently is a writer who touches the heart as well as the head. Vince follows along very well in that pattern and hopefully we’ll see more of him in the future. I recommend you go out and go through this book.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Do We Care About Christianity?

Is Christianity really a driving passion? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

A couple of nights ago, my wife and I talked about this topic and it is one that leads to soul-searching. I am a Christian apologist. My whole life is built around Christianity. Everything I do (Or at least I hope everything I do) is informed by my Christian worldview, yet do I really care that much about the Christian worldview?

Some might think an apologist would, but remember C.S. Lewis warned years ago about some people who were so eager to show that God exists that they didn’t have anything better for Him to do than exist. Sometimes we could be so intent on proving Jesus rose that we do nothing more with that than show Christianity is true. It’s like something I’ve said about the Trinity. It’s often this nice little doctrine we keep to the side and we pull it out whenever we have to beat up visiting Jehovah’s Witnesses.

What I want to ask myself regularly and I do ask myself is if I really have a passion for Christianity. Do I get excited? Now to be fair, different things will reach different people. When I hear sermons that are just largely application with no historical foundation or anything like that, then yeah, I find it easy to zone out quickly. When I’m at a church service, I often wish we could rush through the music part because many times the songs are often just so shallow and self-focused. I also think that sometimes when they’re not if we paid attention to the words we say, we’d find that we’re really lying. We talk about how much we are in love with Jesus and how much joy He brings and then go home and find joy in everything else but Jesus.

I’d like to tell you I’m a great prayer warrior and someone who read plenty of the Bible every day. I’m not. I read a chapter of the Old Testament and of the New Testament every morning and a verse at night before I go to bed to give me something to think about as well as the reading of a few verses with the Mrs. If I told you that every day of reading the Bible is exciting and I learn something, I’d be lying. For prayer, I have a mentor to help me with this, but it can still be a struggle.

Years ago I remember in preparing to marry Allie, I remember someone telling me that they saw me as a great lover of God when I spoke. It wasn’t just an intellectual thing for me. It was something real. When I hear that, I get amazed. I am the last one who would describe myself as a great lover of God.

The odd thing is, it’s so easy to get excited about nearly everything else. It’s easy to get excited about a new episode of a TV show coming out that we enjoy. It’s easy to be looking forward to that movie. It’s easy to look forward to a time of romance with my wife. I’m not saying we shouldn’t look forward to these things. God gave us plenty of good things for us to enjoy. (1 Tim. 6:17.) Many of you will have your own interests.

You can say you find it hard to really learn the things of God, but how many of you know the statistics of your favorite sports team by heart? How many of you could practically write the strategy guide to your favorite video game? How many of you know all the intricacies of your favorite TV show? It’s honestly not that it’s hard, it’s just that we’re not interested.

I think one reason for this is we’ve grown up so much with Christianity that it’s become familiar. We can often wonder how skeptics don’t see the truth of Christianity, but there is something that they do see that we could bear to see. They see that it’s a radical difference from the main view of the world. We actually believe in a God who works and does miracles and that the second person of the Trinity lived among us, died, and rose again.

Let’s be honest. A lot of stuff we believe is indeed bizarre to think about. We definitely do need good evidence and while I do think we have it, let’s not lose sight of how incredible it is.

There are an endless number of truths that could get us excited every day and reveal the grace of God in our lives. We could think about the wonders of the universe and how God made this grand cosmos so we could have one planet to live on. We could go inward and think about the wonder of our own bodies and how even a tiny cell in our bodies is a living factory. We could also turn and look at our neighbor and realize that our fellow man is always a fascinating story. I have said before that a good producer could take the life story of any living human being and turn it into a highly popular major motion picture. Why? Because people are interesting.

Wonder is just something that we’ve lost. We’ve lost it because we take everything for granted. It’s become a truism for us that Christianity is true and we don’t often look at just how radical it is that Christianity is true. Do we really consider what that means?

Let’s also talk about forgiveness. Think about it. You will never face eternal judgment for all the things you’ve done wrong and you rightly deserve that eternal judgment. God is not going to give you what you deserve. Instead, more often than not, we’re whining because God doesn’t give us something that we want. It has been a great help in my life to realize that God doesn’t owe me a thing unless He’s promised it to me. That makes me more prone to view everything I have as a gift.

When I spoke about Bible reading, we take it for granted. How many of us have Bibles just sitting on our shelves? Do we not realize how many people in persecuted countries would love to have a Bible? If they have just a page of the Bible, they study that constantly hanging on to every word. We treat it like it’s a book just like any other book. We don’t realize what a privilege we have that we can read the Bible.

It is a privilege that you can go to church freely and worship. We in the West often whine about persecution. We really don’t have a clue what real persecution is like. The day that your life is in danger because you go to church because someone wants to kill you for that, I will say you know what persecution is.

I just have to pause and ask myself why is it that I don’t really take the time to appreciate and celebrate the good things that I have. As an apologist, am I more interested in showing Christianity is true than also learning what a difference it makes? I need both. Some of us have strived to be so sure that our doctrine is right that we haven’t bothered to see if our Christian walk is right.

I also don’t want to be legalistic in this. My wife and I still joke about hearing a Christian conspiracy theorist talk about the Pokemon Go game and saying that while some of you are out there playing that, you could be doing evangelism. Of course, that can lead to any number of bizarre ideas. You could take your wife out on a date which is really helpful to your marriage, but you could be doing evangelism. You could go to sleep, but you could be doing evangelism. You could go to church and worship, but you could be doing evangelism. I am not at all saying we are to be machines doing evangelism and nothing else at all.

I am just saying that I want to watch myself and I suspect a lot of you want to watch yourself. I am honestly hopeful that some of you are reading this and saying “I hear you. I could bear to get some joy over Christianity.” I want it to be that when people look at my life, they know that Christ is a passion for me.

If anything else seems like a greater passion, the goal is not to love that less. Not at all. C.S. Lewis said it’s always the goal to love Christ more. What sense does it make to say “I’m going to love X less so that it gets below my love for Christ.”? Why not raise your love for Christ?

I do think apologetics is greatly important for this. It shows us that Christianity is true and not just an idea. Once we know it is true, the onus is on us. What are we going to be doing with that? If we do not let it change the way we live our lives, do we really believe it? Maybe we do, but has it really sunk in?

Our lives are gifts, and God gave us many things that we can enjoy. There are many other gods vying for our attention. Sex, money, food, pleasure, popularity, etc. None of these are evils in themselves. All of them we can enjoy when we do so rightly, but let us never look at any of these as our ultimate. None of them can deliver for all time like Christ did. They are fine when enjoyed as Christ would have us enjoy them, but not when they become gods themselves.

Do I plan on improving myself? Yes. As an apologist it is something I have to do. There are many times our actions speak so loudly our words can’t be heard. How can I convey the importance Christ has in my life if people look at my life and don’t see that importance? (This is in fact one reason I am so pro-marriage. We Christians should be living marriage out the best so that the world will know the fake interpretation of it and think that Christians have the best marriages of all.)

I hope you’ll join me on this quest.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Openness Unhindered. Further Thoughts Of An Unlikely Convert On Sexual Identity And Union With Christ

What do I think of Rosaria Butterfield’s book published by Crown & Covenant Publications? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

We all know the story. A person lives their life struggling with sin and then, they come to Christ. They pour out their heart in repentance to Him and God forgives them and frees them from the shame of the past. No more are they hindered by the chains that kept them bound. They walk in newness of life free from the past temptations entirely.

Or…..maybe not.

In fact, a lot of people would wish that was the case. Sometimes some will be thinking that God betrayed them or lied to them. If we have become new creatures in Christ, why is it that the past is still an issue? Why do we not experience deliverance from all the struggles of the past? How can I be a new creature in Christ and still struggle mightily with a sin?

Rosaria Butterfield knows about this quite well. She had been a professor living in a lesbian relationship when a pastor gently responded to an article she wrote about the Promise Keepers. This pastor was a pushback to her, but also was not in her face. She, in fact, notes that the first time she visited him and his wife, they did not give her the Gospel or invite her to church. In fact, she appreciated that greatly.

She began studying the Bible on her own and in fact studying it as a postmodern. Romans 1 was quite a difficult passage for her, but one she could not escape. What if instead of gay pride, she was just really having pride? What if what she took pride in was in fact really a form of rebellion? The questions came at her fast and furious.

One day, she just reached her breaking point. She wound up admitting that God was God and becoming a Christian. From then on, she knew things had to change. Much of her book is about dealing with this. Indeed she did change. She is now the wife of a reformed pastor in North Carolina, but she has a heart for those who are struggling with many issues.

One of Butterfield’s key themes is identity. Our identity when we come to Christ and even before is not to be based on our sexual orientation, as the term is used. Our identity is greater than the people we are attracted to or share a bed with. One of her main points she wants to have raised is we should not use terms like “gay Christian” even when we speak of Christians who agree that homosexual activity is wrong and want to live a celibate life. Why take an adjective that describes a condition that the Bible refers to as sin and making it part of your identity just like Christian is in your identity? Taking it as an identity is in some way clinging to it and holding on to it, as if it’s something central to who you are.

She does realize that some Christians disagree with this and in fact, she has an example of that in the book. She talks about her friend Rebecca who still struggles with same-sex attraction. Butterfield makes an important point that for some people, sanctification does not necessarily mean being delivered from the sinful temptations. Heterosexuality is not the goal of sanctification, but holiness is and you can just as much be a sinner as a heterosexual as you can a homosexual. For some people, the sign of their sanctification could be living with these sinful desires and NOT giving in.

To the rest of us, she says part of the danger we have could be what she calls the gag reflex to homosexuality. We can describe homosexual acts as if to get the response of “ewww. Yucky.” What we end up doing can be saying “I’m so thankful I don’t do that!” or for those Christians who are struggling with same-sex attraction, putting thoughts in their heads. We can end up having a sort of superiority complex to the homosexuals who do this “shameful behavior.” Now I do believe the Bible describes it as shameful, but that is not because of something being gross. Our problems with a behavior should be with the moral status of the behavior and not the personal taste status of the behavior.

For an analogy, imagine a pastor at a church describing the evil of an affair. Rather than state that a sexual affair is an evil thing, he goes into great detail of a man meeting a woman at a hotel room and describing what goes on behind closed doors. Is he really helping anyone? No. We all know what goes on behind closed doors. If anything, most men in the audience are now suddenly having to deal with a temptation as they are having a fantasy play out in their minds.

Butterfield also stresses that for a Christian, life should be a life of repentance. We should be watching ourselves to see where we are falling short. Butterfield does write with the heart of a counselor. At times, sometimes the reformed aspect can shine through a bit brighter so if, like me, you don’t hold to a Calvinistic position, that can be difficult, but either way, those of us who don’t still do agree with repentance and we do still see God as sovereign even if we don’t understand how that works out.

She also stresses the importance of community. Community should be a way we come together and pray for one another and if anyone does struggle with unwanted attractions, they can find comfort in having people who will hear them. They might not be able to do anything beyond that, besides pray of course, but they can be listeners.

Butterfield’s book is a good one. If there was one area I would change, it’s that there is talk about dealing with unwanted sexual attractions and such, but at the same time, I always want to see that there is a positive message about sexuality. A true sexuality is something God gives us to enjoy and celebrate. It would have been good to have heard Butterfield’s thoughts on that.

Still, this is a book that will leave you thinking and hopefully get you more in tune with thinking about holiness. Repentance is a word much more on my mind since reading this. I also wouldn’t mind seeing more community as described by Butterfield and will definitely be watching to check for the gag reflex approach to homosexuality.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: The Unveiled Wife

What do I think of Jennifer Smith’s book published by Tyndale? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This book is the story of one woman who got married expecting to find a paradise of roses, but ending up having more thorns. Why? Picture a Christian couple who have saved themselves for marriage who then marry. Later on, the guys all want to ask the groom, “So did you enjoy your first time?”

Jennifer Smith’s husband would not be able to answer that.

In fact, he would not be able to answer that for four years. His wife had intense pain every time they attempted so that they couldn’t seal the deal as it were. This led to increased friction between the two and them. Smith shares the story from her perspective.

Wow. What can I say about this book? I have to say this is one of the most eye-opening books I have ever read. While we didn’t have the same problems, such as four years of a sexless marriage, I found some struggles that my own wife went through and thought “Wow. Other people went through this?” In fact, they went through it even more.

What makes the book so good is that Smith shares her own personal experience. She is truly unveiled as she lets the reader into the then dark places of her soul. She lets you know what she was thinking and feeling. The picture is not a pretty one. At the same time, the beauty is that it’s a real one.

In fact, one night after reading this on my Kindle, I went to the Facebook app and sent my own wife a message about how I wanted to be a better husband. I think I do good already, but there’s ALWAYS room for improvement. I wanted to let her know I’m here for any struggles that she has. The story in the book moves me that much.

Smith is a talented writer who gets you drawn into the story. Even though I knew going in what was the problem with the couple, it was nothing like getting to hear the story itself. When you get to the point where the trouble is resolved in the account, it is like reading a miracle account and you truly celebrate with them at that point.

Wives. This book will also show what a difference sex does play in a marriage. When a couple goes four years without, it places a huge strain on the relationship. A man feels inadequate because a deep need can’t be satisfied. A woman feels inadequate because the need of her husband isn’t being met.

The book is also written for discussion quite easily, though largely aimed at women. Each chapter is short and ends with questions that can easily foster discussion. That makes this an excellent book for women to read together.

I can easily say this is one of the most powerful accounts I have ever read. The story has left me with a greater desire to be a better husband to my wife. I have also learned to work on my own insecurities and get past some grievances with some people who have hurt my wife.

While much of this is geared towards women, I do think it would be great for husbands and wives to read together and discuss. A man reading this can get to hear what it’s like in the mind of a woman. He will walk away realizing the impact that his actions have on her.

Please do go and get this book.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: The Ethics of Abortion

What do I think of Christopher Kaczor’s book published by Routledge? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Kaczor’s book on abortion is a rather surprising one, and that’s a good thing. He starts out by laying out the parameters of the discussion. He wants to make it clear that his goal is not to antagonize people who have had an abortion and paint them out as monsters. He wants to make sure we know we are making a statement about an action and not about the people who do an action.

Kaczor’s book is systematically outlined to go through all the arguments that he can. He deals with the concept of personhood and why the human embryo even should be seen as a fully human person with rights equal to yours and mine. He regularly interacts with defenders of abortion and for those concerned that this is just a religious rant, he does it without appealing to the arguments of a particular religion. His arguments are scientific and philosophical.

For my money, the best part of the book is the sixth chapter. In this, Kaczor deals with many of the objections that will often be raised up against the pro-life movement. Some, such as the case of twinning, can be dealt with in many other works. Some, I’m not used to seeing talked about. For instance, Kaczor talks about the scenario of being in a burning building and being given the chance to save five adults or ten embryos and points out that most of us would save the adults. Are we being inconsistent? Kaczor presents a powerful argument as to why this is so. (And yes, I don’t tell it because I think you need to go out there and get the book yourself.)

Kaczor also interacts with questions such as asking if contraception is the same thing as abortion. He comes down on a side that is very favorable towards contraception when properly used. I found this to be a quite interesting take on the matter and helped deal with something that is often leveled especially against Protestants who are pro-life.

Kaczor has a final chapter dealing with the idea of artificial wombs. If science were to invent something like this, would this end the abortion debate? Kaczor seems to think it would certainly help so perhaps some scientifically minded people out there who are pro-life might want to consider this. Of course, Kaczor wants to make sure these actions are not done for frivolous reasons and does criticize that too often abortions take place for those reasons. One such example he gives is sex-selective abortion.

Kaczor’s book is a thorough takedown of the pro-abortion position and yet at the same time incredibly fair. He does not demonize his opponents and tries to present their arguments in the best possible light. Kaczor is certainly systematic and rigorous. If you are interested in learning about the best in pro-life argumentation, you owe it to yourself to read Kaczor’s book.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 11/12/2016: J Parker

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

Many of you know that after becoming married, I have become pro-pro-marriage. Marriage is a wonderful and life-changing event, but like many good things, it takes work. You never coast through marriage. You actively strive to give it your best.

One area of marriage that we can often struggle with is sex. It is one of the three biggest areas of disagreement in a marriage. Men tend to have a very high drive and don’t understand why their wives don’t want to be with them all the time. Women can have a hard time getting used to the idea that sex is a good thing after being told otherwise all their life and can struggle with shame over body image and feel tired.

What can we do?

We could take to someone who has written in this area and knows what they’re talking about. That’s who my guest is going to be this Saturday. We will be interviewing J Parker of the blog Hot, Holy, and Humorous. She has also written a book of the same name. Who is she?

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J. Parker is a Christian marriage and sex author and speaker who blogs at Hot, Holy & Humorous [dot] com. She has written three books: a self-help book titled Hot, Holy, and Humorous: Sex in Marriage by God’s Design; a devotional book titled Intimacy Revealed: 52 Devotions to Enhance Sex in Marriage; and a book of short stories titled Behind Closed Doors: Five Marriage Stories. She holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Abilene Christian University and a master’s degree in counseling from the University of Houston. Married for twenty-three years, J. has fondly nicknamed her logical husband “Spock,” has two teenage sons, and lives in the great state of Texas. When not writing about sex in marriage, J. pens teen fiction, binge-watches Netflix shows, or hangs out with her fabulous family and friends.

What are some of the important things that people need to know about sex? How do we handle this awkward situation of men with high drives going crazy at the chance to have sex with their wives and women who are sometimes just not feeling it? What can men do to better handle this situation? What can women do to better handle this situation? (Of course, there are exceptions. There are marriages where women have the higher drive.)

If you’re someone who is married, you need to listen to this show. Ideally, husbands and wives can listen together and discuss afterward. If you’re about to get married, you need to pay attention. This is something that is coming up in your future and you need to be ready for it. If you’re just hoping to get married, you need to listen to this show. This can give you a hint of some of the things that you have to look forward to. (And yes, sex is definitely something to look forward to.)

We are uploading episodes now. I have someone who is really working well with me on the sound issues and such. Hopefully it won’t take long to be caught up. Please also consider leaving a positive review of the show on ITunes.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 10/8/2016: Mary Flo Ridley

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

I hope you all were fine with not having a week of podcasts. I’ve got someone else now who is helping with producing my podcasts and we’re getting into that groove so it’s taking a little while longer. We did release a new one yesterday. The one with Biologos is next in line. Having said that, let’s discuss this Saturday.

It’s often awkward to talk to your teenagers about sex, but that time doesn’t just come out of nowhere. It happens after years of raising your kids. How do you handle matters before that? You’re not going to tell your three year-old all about the birds and the bees, but you are going to notice them exploring their bodies. What are you to do?

You take the advice of Mary Flo Ridley. She’s my guest on the Deeper Waters Podcast this Saturday. Who is she?

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According to her bio:

In 1986 Mary Flo Ridley began presenting a popular parenting seminar in the Dallas area teaching parents how to talk to their children about sex. Armed with medical research, personal stories and humor, Mary Flo walks parents through very specific ways to answer their children’s early questions with confidence. She gives parents a simple strategy that allows them to share their values along with the basic biology and develop a positive plan for introducing this subject in the preschool and early elementary years.

Through her first book and DVD Series, Simple Truths with Mary Flo Ridley, and as an international speaker, Mary Flo gives parents the simple tools they need to begin these conversations. In her second book, God’s Very Good Design, parents can see this strategy unfold in a Biblical context. She is thrilled to partner with Megan Michelson to bring this message to a new generation.

Mary Flo grew up in El Paso, Texas and graduated from SMU. She has been joyfully married to her husband Dave for 36 years and they have three married children and six grandchildren.

Mary Flo is committed to passing on these important truths about raising children and being ready to talk to them about sex. Why does this matter? Because sexual issues are becoming more and more important. Even today you’ll have children being raised in the public school system to accept the idea that homosexuality and transgenderism are normal lifestyles. It’s much harder to unteach something from someone than it is to teach them. While many parents are abandoning the public school system, many people aren’t and some will need to know what to say in these situations in order to train their children properly in Biblical attitudes to the gift of sexuality.

I hope you’ll be looking forward to this new episode. We’ll be recording from 3-5 PM EST and I hope to have it released as soon as possible. I also want you all to know that before too long, we will be transferring everything over to deeperwatersapologetics.com. We’ve got the name registered now and there’s a technical guru I know doing the work. Please also consider with the podcast going on ITunes and leaving a positive review. It means a lot to see them!

In Christ,
Nick Peters