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

Deeper Waters Podcast 7/22/2017: Sam Andreades

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

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

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

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

So who is he?

According to his bio:

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

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

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

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

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

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Love By The Book

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

There are some subjects that are often deemed too risque to talk about at church. One of those is sex. This is quite unusual since we have a whole book of the Bible dedicated to marriage and sex, which is, of course, the Song of Songs. Even in the past, it was considered something that you should be fully mature before you read the book. Some rabbis suggested waiting until you were thirty years old.

Kaiser thinks we need to look at this book again. We live in an age where the culture wants to redefine marriage and where sexual virtues are going out the window fast. The church needs to be living out what was meant by marriage. His contribution to this is to look at this beautiful love story in the Bible.

For many of us who read the Song of Songs, it can seem a bit disjointed. Who is saying what? What is going on? One of the first mistakes Kaiser wants us to move past is reading it as an allegory. Could we say in some ways it’s a story of the love of God and Israel or Christ and the church? Perhaps, but let’s not get so caught up in the allegory that we miss the non-allegorical reading, it’s a celebration of true marital love.

Kaiser also says the more historical interpretation has been to see it as a story. The story involves this beautiful little shepherd girl who Solomon sees one day as he’s touring his country and decides to take into his harem. He woos her with all the best that he has and the other ladies of the harem, the daughters of Jerusalem are all there. Everyone is stunned. This girl is not giving in to the king. Why? Because she is in love with her shepherd-boyfriend back home.

The story then becomes one of faithful devotion. The girl will turn down the allure of the king in order to be with the one that her heart truly desires. Nothing can destroy the passionate love that she feels for this man. In the end, Solomon decides to let her go. She is in essence “The one that got away.” He ends up writing this song, the greatest of songs, about this love of his who he failed to seize because she had sold her heart to a shepherd boy already.

Kaiser’s book is short. It could be read in an evening if one wanted to. It also is good for small groups as it has several discussion questions. The book is friendly enough that it could be read easily without causing much embarrassment. Each chapter has discussion questions that a group could discuss together. I think it would be optimal for a small group that consists of married couples to read this together and discuss the commitment that they have to their own marriage.

I have long been an advocate of the idea that if we are going to restore marriage truly to the church, we have to live it. A proper understanding of sex and marriage is something we really need for that. Kaiser’s book is something that is needed for such a time as this.

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

An Open Letter To President Obama On His Advice To Schools On Transgender Students

To President Obama,

I heard the news as I was out doing some errands on Friday about your sending advice to schools on how to handle the transgender issue. Seeing as this is an interest of mine, I headed home and looked for your letter. It didn’t take too long to find it.

There is no doubt that there is a desire to help people who identify as transgender, but I am of the opinion that what you have done is not just unhelpful to them, but in the long run harmful. It is also not only harmful to them. It is harmful to the well-being of the American people that you are supposed to defend.

I know what it’s like for people to have a need to fit in. My wife and I are both on the autism spectrum with Aspergers. Now while I appreciate the benefits I have from it, I know that it can be difficult. I know that social situations can be a total mystery to us at times and there are times you want to speak in polite conversation but can’t seem to find the words to do so.

Still, while it is hard for us, we have to learn to overcome. We do not want society to pull down to our level. We want to be able to function as is. Now this is of course on an issue that is not heavily involved with morality, but what about something that is involved? What about especially if it involves something many of us take as a sacred aspect of ourselves, our sexuality?

There are several several people out there in this world who are hurting and they are hurting because of sexual trauma. They are hurting because someone touched them or acted otherwise sexually to them in an inappropriate way. We live in a culture of divorce being rampant and children consistently being born out of wedlock because sex has been put on the level of a game you just play with someone, no commitment required. Let’s face it. Sex is a big issue in our culture today, as it is in every culture.

When I look at your proposal, I see it opening the doors wide to much more trouble. It looks like you have what is believed to be a problem and have given a solution that is worse than the problem itself. Now as I speak on this, I want to be certain of some points.

I do not think that the large majority if not the entirety of transgender people are perverts. I do not think they want to get into the bathroom with someone of the opposite sex and do whatever they want with them. I also think they honestly believe that they were born the wrong sex and I honestly think that that is a problem that we must deal with. I think the mistake you’re making is that you’re wanting to change reality around them instead of changing the thinking within them. It’s forcing every single one of us to go along with it as well.

At start, I wonder what makes you think you can make a statement like this to schools without working with Congress? Shouldn’t this be put forward also for the American people to decide on? Do we not have that right also? You see, these are public schools. They’re not just your schools. They’re our schools. They are the schools of we the people. They are the ones that our children go to and we have a right to speak on what is going on in them.

When our children go to school, we want them to learn subjects like the three r’s. We do not want them to learn that which is a highly debatable position. We want the schools to be able to reinforce the moral guidance that is found in the home and to uphold the right of parents to educate their children on moral issues and not have it be state vs. parents.

Unfortunately, your statement is already a line drawn in the sand and I wonder what will happen when the American people really see what is in it. Now to be sure, I have read it. I believe in being a thorough researcher in that regards and I was greatly troubled by what I read in it.

You start with terminology and this is a good idea. I appreciate that you defined your terms right at the outset, but even here I see a problem. For instance, in gender identity, you refer to a student’s internal sense of gender. You say it may be different from the sex assigned at birth.

I’d like you to think about that saying. “Sex assigned at birth.” Do you really think that’s what happens? Do you think that a child is born and the doctor has to really think hard on the decision of if to call the child a male or a female? Do you think they just flip a coin and decide? No. It’s really easy to tell if a child is a male or a female 99.99999% of the time. You just take a look at what’s between the legs. Most of the time we don’t even need that. Due to our advanced science, we can see the genetic makeup of a child so we can tell what disabilities a child can have beforehand as well and know the sex without ever seeing, but if someone didn’t see, there would still be no difficulty. You do not assign a sex when a child is born. You discover what sex they are.

That should be what tells you what sex a child is, but instead, you want to look at what’s going on inside of them internally. Here’s the problem with that. A lot of us can feel things about ourselves that are dead wrong. Have you ever talked to someone who is suicidal? They have a strong internal feeling that life is not worth living and that they are a burden on society and there is no hope for them at all. Of course, there are a 1001 ways you can change that statement for suicidal people to describe their moods, but they really believe it. They believe it so much they seek death to escape it. Are you going to tell me that that feeling should be given authority?

There are a host of other beliefs out there that we do not need to do tests to see that they are false. Consider Cotard’s Delusion as my favorite example. In this case, the person believes that they are dead or that they don’t exist. Now can you imagine a situation where a person goes into a psychiatrist’s office and tells them “I really believe that I am dead” and the psychiatrist saying “Well let’s do some evaluations and look at the data and see if you really are or not?” He might say it in the sense of playing along, but he won’t say it in the sense of “That’s a really good question. Let’s see if the objective truth is that you’re dead.” No. As soon as the person walks into his office, the psychiatrist knows that the person is not dead.

The feeling is in this case, pardon the pun, dead wrong. Many of us know that feelings can be awfully flighty in school. Look. We don’t trust students to bring cough drops onto school grounds without a doctor’s position. Many students have a major decision trying to figure out what they’re going to wear in the morning. Despite that, we’re supposed to trust their internal feelings that tell them they’re really one sex when all the empirical evidence shows that they are another?

Why is it that feelings should be given that kind of level of infallibility? Furthermore, are you going to tell me that everyone who is born a male but feels like they’re a female is right? How can this be? What tests would you take to determine if the person is truly male or female and not just having a delusion? How could you at the end of the day say “Well, I realize you have a male body and male DNA but yeah, it looks like you’re really a female.” What are we teaching our children? Do you really want to teach them that their feelings have that much authority?

Now you speak also about Title IX. The problem is I’ve looked at Title IX. You can search all through there and you will search in vain for something that speaks about gender or gender identity. It’s just not there. This means that something has been added to the law afterwards and now is being the basis of a new statement. It’s being made up as we go along.

It gets worse. You say that “under Title IX, there is no medical diagnosis or treatment requirement that students must meet as a prerequisite for being treated consistent with their gender identity. In fact, you say requiring them to obtain such could be a violation of Title IX. In other words, students can get to say they have this and they do not need to provide any evidence whatsoever for it. A teacher won’t believe a dog ate the student’s homework without some evidence and won’t give a student basic medication without evidence from a doctor, but something as complicated as sexuality is to be handled without any evidence save the student’s say so?

Are you serious?

You also speak of a safe and nondiscriminatory environment. Unfortunately, this is one where students, staff, and parents do not go along with someone’s claim to have a different gender identity. Is that not discrimination in itself? I am someone who says that that is a false belief. Are you telling me that I must go along with a belief that I consider entirely to be false? How is that not discriminating against me?

Furthermore, if we talk about safety, a lot of women live in fear of something happening to them. Again, this does not necessarily mean they live in fear of transgenders. They live in fear of any man. If there’s a place a woman should feel safe, it is in the bathroom or a place like a locker room.

Look President Obama. You have daughters. You have a wife. You should know this. A woman’s body is a sacred and beautiful thing. Would you like to have your wife or daughters have to shower next to another man in a locker room because that man identifies as a woman? As soon as they object, they can be accused of discrimination. I understand your daughters are in a private school. Would you be willing to put them in a public school where they could have the potential of having to shower next to a man in the locker room? If you’re convinced this is a good policy, I’d like to see if you’d be willing to do that.

I do have a wife as well and her body is sacred and I don’t want anyone else of the opposite sex seeing her body like that. I don’t care if they identify as a female or not. My wife’s body is something sacred to me and I should be the only man who gets to look at her body. (Barring some medical emergency which I hope never happens.) You talk about the feeling of safety of transgender people. What about the feelings of safety of the far more numerous people who are not and who feel particularly vulnerable? Do they not matter?

If parents think this is an exaggeration, it is not. When you talk about sex-segregated activities and facilities, you say these must be altered for transgender students. Keep them open, but allow transgenders to participate. How many people know how far this goes?

You start with restrooms and locker rooms. Now let’s be sure of something. There are many people, particularly boys, who would like to take advantage of this kind of law. Knowing they don’t have to provide any evidence makes it far easier since they could sue at any time if they don’t get their way. I’m sure you know as well as I do that men really like to see naked women and if you’re a young man, that’s a whole new world that you’re eager to explore.

So picture this scenario and it’s not too hard to do. A group of guys get together and challenge one of them with a dare to identify as a female and go into the women’s locker room and shower with them. In fact, many times bullies will get a naive young man to do something like this at the threat of him not being including in the group. This is how bullies get good boys to do something illegal even. So what’s this boy going to do to get included? He’s going to do just that. Many young boys will do this without any prodding from the group. They’re in a strong mood to see naked women that day and it’s worth it.

Do I need to remind you also that this is the age of the internet? A picture can be taken quite easily and before too long, it goes all over. After all, this young man wants to prove that he made it. How will he do it? Easy. He’ll send pictures. These pictures can go all over the internet and the victim can be entirely innocent. That can affect them later in their life with their college education and their marriage. Sometimes, this can even lead to suicide.

Are you aware you are opening the doors up for this?

I realize that some aspects can be set up for the privacy of students, but it won’t last. That can easily be seen as discrimination. Why not? You’ve opened the door wide for it. You do have stipulations in here about fraternities and sororities and overnight housing, but how long can it last? You’ve already opened up Pandora’s Box.

I want to be clear on something else. I say all of this as a follower of Christ in the Christian faith, but I don’t need to be a Christian to back this. This doesn’t require the Bible. This just requires common sense. At the same time, you have claimed to be a Christian many times. I would like you to really ask if you would stand before God someday and be able to say that you did this and you think this is a decision that He would honor.

You see, you have been given a great responsibility. Few people in history get to essentially be the leader of the free world. What have you done with that? Will the world be a better place because of what you did or will it be a worse place? Are our people growing in virtue and character or not? I contend that when we see the results of your actions here and see the fruit that sprouts from these seeds, we will realize what a drastic mistake it was.

Now you can say that this letter is just advice, but that’s like saying all the IRS is doing is giving us advice on how to spend our money. All the police do is give us advice on how we should behave in society. When stipulations are tied to the advice not being followed, it is not just advice. It is something else. The question is is it a right something else or not. In this case, it is not. This is something individual states should get to decide and something that parents should definitely get to have a say-so in first. This isn’t about your children since they don’t attend these schools. This is about our children since it is them who attend these schools.

At this point, my honest “advice” to parents would be to clear out. If this is what you want public schools to be, then parents should have no part of it. If they cannot afford private school, let them homeschool. In fact, if you want a social experiment, let’s have a real one. Let’s have students raised under your system and let’s have students raised by parents. Let’s see who does better in life overall. Who has more students completing college and succeeding in the workforce and having successful and happy marriages and lives overall? I’m quite confident it will be the side of the homeschoolers.

I love this country, but I do not love what it has become and what it is becoming. It looks more and more like we are becoming a “Look at me” and “anything goes” society and calling it progress. The ultimate form of progress is not how much knowledge we really have, even though it isn’t, but about the character of our nation. People come to this city on a hill looking for freedom and to pursue the American dream. The more control that is had over them, the less likely they are to be able to have those. Already, this is taking away some of our freedom. How much more will be taken away?

If you really want to help people who identify as transgender, and I think you should, the best way is not to go along with the belief but actually question the belief. Why do you feel this way? When did it start? How is life for you with this? Enabling is never a helpful path to go and not only are you doing that, you are forcing all of the rest of us to do it.

I want a society where all of us can be free to excel and do our best and the more we hold beliefs that are false, the less likely we are to be able to do that. There are some beliefs no doubt we can debate on as these are serious issues that have been debated, but there are some that we really do not debate. The identity of someone as male or female is one of those and has been obvious from the moment of birth. You are instead placing the full authority in the ideas instead of in the reality.

When you go against reality, reality will push back hard. There will come a breaking point and the consequences with that pushback are severe. I only hope that we wake up before we get to that point and stop the downward slide we are on as a society. I fear there is a painful crash waiting at the end.

For now, it’s in the hands of the American people. Again, my advice is they not take part in this dangerous game. You want to say how our children will be raised? We have more say so there and it’s time we acted on it. If every American who views this as I do, no matter their religious persuasion or lack thereof, would pull their students from the public school system, I wonder how different that would be.

I hope you’d really consider and think about what this could mean for our nation. These are the lives of our children that we’re dealing with. Unfortunately, I have no hope that you will. The one who said “I won” is not likely to listen to a contrary opinion.

A concerned American,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Sexuality in the New Testament

What do I think of William Loader’s book published by Westminster John Knox Press? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

William Loader is the scholar in the world who has probably written more on sexuality and the Bible than anyone else. Naturally, the Bible talks a lot about sex. Is it because the Bible is a perverse and dirty book as some would say? No. It’s because people talk about sex a lot and it’s a dominant feature in our society just like it was in the ancient world. Loader aptly gives us a warning on page 5.

“Sometimes wanting to know becomes impatient to the point of jumping too quickly to conclusions or filling in gaps with fantasy instead of coming to terms with the limits of our knowledge. Particularly in dealing with matters of sexuality it is not uncommon for people to become deeply involved emotionally in wanting, indeed, needing texts to say certain things which would reinforce or confirm their own beliefs and attitudes. This can happen from many different angles, both from those wanting to affirm what some might see as conservative positions and those wanting the opposite.”

This is a major point worth stressing. Many of us today want the Bible to side with us. Now we could take a totally foreign approach and say the text has no real meaning, but this is problematic as we should not approach any text this way. Could it be difficult to know what the author meant to say sometimes? Sure. There are matters open to dispute. Sometimes it isn’t and with many of these texts, I think the meaning is clear.

The first place Loader starts with is the texts on homosexuality. Loader looks at the various interpretations of all the texts in the debate and frankly, comes down on a conservative side, and this after looking at what most scholars are saying. This does not mean necessarily he agrees with that. I find it hard to tell frankly, but that’s a strength of Loader’s work. It’s hard to know what bias he himself might bring to the debate and frankly, I can understand much better if I encounter someone who says “Yes. This is what the text means. I just disagree.”

Loader also deals with some of the revisionist ideas such as the idea that the Centurion’s servant is a homosexual lover or that the Beloved Disciple was involved in a homosexual relationship with Jesus. These are times where I really think the homosexual reading is grasping at straws. As Loader indicated above, you can read anything into a text if you want to. We must all be looking to ask “But what does the text mean?”

Loader goes on from there to talk about marriage itself and what the Bible has to say about it. He interacts with ideas of polygyny as well and notes that it was limited, although the Damascus Document was pretty hard on it. Loader thinks this could be a minority position. Of course, polygyny would also be costly so few people would do it. Loader goes on from here to talk about issues of divorce and remarriage and pregnancy and child birth. Naturally, Loader will also touch on the household codes found in Ephesians and Colossians. He rightly states that the way the husband is to act to his wife still is the way Christ does for the church, which is loving and not violent or exploitative.

From there, we move on to adultery in the Bible. Many of the texts are quite clear on this and the idea is that sex is to be between a man and a woman in the covenant of marriage. I was pleased also to see a talk about what lust is in the discussion. I do think the command to lust is speaking about another person’s wife, which makes it a form of covenant, but I think it can also mean an excessive desire, a desire that dehumanizes the person and makes them only an object of sex. After all, today if a man and a woman are dating, it is not a problem I think if the man has sexual desire for the woman. He ought to. If he does not desire her, he has problems.

Now some will wonder about spiritual adultery. What does that mean? Looking at another woman with lust. Frankly, I like what Robert Gagnon said at a talk he once gave on a podcast about this where he said “If spiritual adultery is grounds for divorce, every woman could divorce a man on her wedding day.” Lust is something to be avoided to be sure, but let’s not be extreme in saying everything is adultery. Actual physical adultery is worse.

There’s a lot in the book that is covered and yet it is a short read. If you want a good lowdown on what the New Testament says about sexuality and scholars on both sides, you owe yourself to check out Loader’s work.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Bible, Gender, Sexuality: Reframing the Church’s Debate on Same-Sex Relationships.

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

I’ll say at the start that of Christians trying to write from a position that is affirming of same-sex relationships, Brownson’s is the best that I have read. I think if you want to tackle a position that is affirming, this is the best one to read. He deals with a lot of the critics of his position and tries to pay attention to relevant scholarship.

And still, it just falls short.

Let’s start at the beginning. On page 9, Brownson tells us that we do not interpret rightly any Scripture until we locate the text within the larger fabric of the Bible. To an extent, I understand, and my disagreement could be what Brownson would agree with as well. I think a text can be understood on its own. If I read a Psalm about David drowning his couch with tears, I think I understand that alone. I think a deeper understanding for a fuller Biblical understanding could be found by comparing that with all of Scripture. I doubt Brownson would disagree with a point like this.

On the next page, he tells us that often, people have had to go back to Scripture when changes take place in society and culture to see if they were wrong. Again, I have no problem with this. It could have been that in the case of the passages seen as espousing the traditional view of homosexuality, that our interpretation was wrong. We should always be willing to go back to the text and examine it.

It’s when we get into the arguments that I start to wonder. For instance, Brownson on pages 29 and 33 wants to say marriage is not trying to get back to the primordial garden. There is some truth to that. Marriage also looks forward to the new creation found in the new Jerusalem. It is used at the end of Revelation and in Ephesians 5 with this in mind.

What I disagree with him on is that marriage is simply a kinship bond. Of course, marriage establishes a a new kinship bond. Brownson says that what is important in Genesis 2:24 is the kinship bond and that does not necessitate male and female. I find this a bit problematic. When Jesus speaks of the passage after all in Matthew 19, he refers to the male and female component which he didn’t need to do at all.

Second, with regard to kinship bonds, if all this is is about forming new relationships, I have to wonder why it is that this is supposed to be an exclusive kinship bond. Why limit it to one person? Why, unless the sexual union does a bit more than that? Of course, some Jews did not do that, but Jesus held to the strict interpretation and said male and female are joined together and what God has joined together let no man separate.

Third, Brownson thinks physical differences cannot be in view since this passage is used to describe Christ and the church and obviously, that church is composed of men partially. I do not think that this is a convincing argument. The same could be said of God and Israel, but the point is that the man is in the giving position and the woman in the receiving in the paradigm. It’s using the patriarchal system of the past to make the point and it does not require a one-to-one correspondence. In relationships with God, we are all on the receiving end and we receive the life of God in us.

Finally, it looks like sometimes the Bible has a problem with kinship bonds becoming too close. That’s why we have prohibitions against incest and lo and behold, when we get to the list of sexual practices that are condemned, we find homosexual practice right there. Of course, Brownson has something to say on that and we will have something to say in response.

Now to be fair on the patriarchy point, Brownson does rightly point out that one sees exceptions to patriarchy. He is indeed correct. You have Deborah in the book of Judges, Huldah at the time of Josiah, and of course women like Ruth, Esther, Rahab, and others being glorified. We also find right in the beginning that male and female are created in the image of God. When we get to Jesus, Jesus regularly associates with women openly. When we get to Paul, Paul has women in the church in positions of authority like Phoebe and Junia. In the house rules in Ephesians 5, it is true women are to submit, but men are given a much longer list of what they are to do.

When it comes to slavery, we find something similar. Slavery is a sort of necessary evil in Bible times, but as we keep going, we find a change going on. Compared to the society of the time, ancient Israel was quite progressive. Philemon can be seen as the Emancipation Proclamation of the New Testament. All of this can be found in William Webb’s excellent, Slaves, Women, and Homosexuals. What do we find with homosexuality?

We find no homosexual couples looked at as examples in the Bible. We find no change moving along those lines. We find the New Testament is even stricter on sexual matters than the Old Testament is, such as polygamy is not really an issue in the New Testament and Jesus ups the ante of adultery to not even looking at another person’s wife with lust. On a traditional interpretation, matters are exactly the same. While there is a line for slavery and women moving towards more freedom and dignity, the line on sexual practice is getting tighter.

In fact, Brownson realizes a danger. On page 83, he tells us that when we get to Romans 1, he realizes that if it refers to lesbian intercourse in the passage, then his interpretation of patriarchy would be ruled out. He will argue he finds this unlikely. I will argue that I find it very likely.

On page 91, Brownson tells us that divorce is essentially the severing of kinship bonds and the obligations that come with them. I find this still odd. Why is it then that we only find divorce going on with marriage? Do we find siblings divorcing one another or parents divorcing children or vice-versa? It looks like divorce refers to one thing specifically. Brownson thinks that this is confirmed in the Jesus tradition, but again, I frankly don’t see it. When Paul talks about one flesh, he talks about sexual union between a man and a woman. When Jesus talks about one flesh, he references Genesis 1:27 with it.

While I am disagreeing for now, I want to say that on page 103 he quotes Rowan Williams before he became the Archbishop of Canterbury. I have to quote the passage in full. It is a passage about the sexual bond and it is simply too beautiful so that paraphrasing would not do it justice.

“Any genuine experience of desire leaves me in this position: I cannot of myself satisfy my wants without distorting or trivializing them. But in this experience we have a particularly intense case of the helplessness of the ego alone. For my body to be the cause of joy , the end of homecoming, for me, it must be there for someone else, must be perceived, accepted, nurtured. And that means being given over to the creation of joy in that other, because only as directed to the enjoyment, the happiness, of the other does it become unreservedly lovable. To desire my joy is to desire the joy of the one I desire: my search for enjoyment through the bodily presence of another is a longing to be enjoyed in my body. As Blake put it, sexual partners “admire” in each other “the lineaments of gratified desire.” We are pleased because we are pleasing.”

I also agree with Brownson’s commentary on this:

“Sexual desire, on the other hand, requires another person, and if sex is to achieve what the body most deeply longs for, one must enter into deep communion with the other — the kind of communion that the Bible speaks of as a one-flesh union. In that union, one relinquishes self-determination , and one’s own happiness is bound up in the happiness of the other.”

I often tell men who are about to get married that they certainly desire sex, but they really don’t have a clue. You don’t know how much this experience will change you until it happens. Once you get caught in the world of another person on this intimate level, life is never the same. Brownson is right on 104 when he says that the language of the body cannot be avoided. Our faithfulness as Christians depends in part on how we use the bodies that God gave us. We will either use them to speak love or use them to speak destruction.

When we get to Romans 1, Brownson’s argument is that the passage condemns excessive lust and this excessive lust leads to homosexual practice. I do not see how this can come from the text. Paul does not really speak about excessive desire anywhere else. Where in a passage like 1 Cor. 7 do we see “Now you married couples, do not be getting it on too much in the bedroom. Your desires don’t need to be excessive!” In fact, he says they should come together and the only reason they should avoid it is by mutual consent and then only for a short time and then only devotion to prayer. If someone in the church is burning with desire, he doesn’t say to shut down the desire. He says to get married. Keep in mind all of this is also without mention of procreation.

If anything, it also looks like Paul is condemning the result of what has happened and if it is excessive lust he’s saying “Do you see where it gets you? It gets you to homosexual practice.” A Jewish audience would look and say “Yep. Sure does. Our Scriptures are crystal clear on that. You tell them Paul!”

Brownson also wants to see this as an indictment of the emperor at the time. Again, I don’t see how this follows. Paul is writing about the whole of the Gentile world and not one small segment, even one as important as the emperor. In fact, as people like Gagnon and Sprinkle have pointed out, the language of Romans 1 several times mirrors Genesis 1. You have terms like creator, creation, male and female, and the idol descriptions match the descriptions of creatures in Genesis 1. Paul is making a contrast with creation. What he is saying is that when we look at the creation, it is apparent that there is a creator, but mankind in wickedness chose to make images of created things rather than honor the creator, which is a disruption of design on the vertical level. They then did the same on the horizontal level and the clearest example of this is homosexual practice.

For the lesbian issue, Brownson points to “their women” and says that the women are being thought of in relationship to men. Unfortunately, there is no interaction with someone like Bernadette Brooten who has shown that yes, female same-sex eroticism was indeed a part of the world of the New Testament and it was known about. I can’t help but think that Brownson approached the text wanting to find what he found and then found it.

When we get to a passage like 1 Cor. 6:9, on page 271, Brownson says that attempts to link the word translated to refer to those who practice homosexuality to Lev. 18 and 20 is speculative. Really? Let’s take a look. Here’s the Greek word.

αρσενοκοιται

Now let’s go to Leviticus 18. When we get to verse 22, what do we see?

και μετα αρσενος ου κοιμηθηση κοιτην γυναικος βδελυγμα γαρ εστιν

And when we get to 20:13….

και ος αν κοιμηθη μετα αρσενος κοιτην γυναικος βδελυγμα εποιησαν αμφοτεροι θανατουσθωσαν ενοχοι εισιν

Yep. That’s speculative alright. You don’t have to be a Greek scholar to see that relationship. By the way, I also find the idea of Leviticus 18 and 20 not referring to homosexual practice but cult prostitution also highly speculative. Am I to think that the writer of Leviticus would have no problem with bestiality or incest or child sacrifice if they were done at home instead of in a cult? (Sprinkle has also called into question that cult prostitution was around.) I also question that it has anything to do with pederasty since from what I understand, that was a later Greco-Roman practice.

In conclusion, Brownson has made the best case that there is, and yet he has still fallen short. If you want to tackle a case for same-sex relationships, this is the one to tackle. I still walk away convinced that those who affirm same-sex relationships are reading something into the text.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Jesus, The Bible, And Homosexuality

What do I think of Jack Rogers’s book published by Westminster John Knox Press? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

When reading Rogers, it’s looking again like so much of this is “Let’s avoid one extreme by going to the other one.” I can side with what he says on page 18 about the problems of a literalistic approach to Scripture and taking some Scripture out of context with tragic consequences. We should all want to avoid that. While I do harp on literalism, there are some passages that are straight-forward and some that the surrounding context further indicates that what is going on is what the straight-forward reading indicates.

This is the kind that says let us not look at what the verses say, but let us look to the attitude of Christ. Now naturally, we should look to the attitude of Christ, but if all the verses say the same thing and there is no movement of progression or change or any counter-examples of what a verse says, then perhaps we should consider that that is what Christ would have us say on the matter. If the Scripture is silent, then we can be silent, but if it is not, we should listen to it.

Rogers wants to give us seven guidelines for interpreting Scripture. I will be presenting my response to each. I found some of them problematic simply for being so subjective.

The first is to recognize that Jesus is the center of Scripture. Always realize that with the Old Testament themes of Messiah and covenant. Keeping Christ as center aids in interpretation. (p. 53)

Now there can be no question for the Christian that Christ is the focal point of Scripture, but that also doesn’t provide us with much information for interpretation. I also encourage Christians when reading the Old Testament to at first NOT be a Christian. What I mean is don’t read it with the Christian lens on. Read it as you would a person at the time who knows nothing about a coming Jesus and decide how you would interpret it then based on where you are. Would you immediately conclude Isaiah 53 is Messianic? Maybe. Maybe not. What purpose would you see in the Levitical Laws? How would you see a prophecy like that of Daniel 9?

So with the first, I do think it’s good to keep Christ as central, but the problem can be in our society, we can all say we do that and all say we’re right as a result. It’s the classic problem of the church coming together for a vote and vote as “The Spirit leads you to vote.” Unfortunately, the Spirit can’t seem to decide what He wants in those cases.

On p. 56 we find the second that says to let the focus be on the plain text of Scripture with the grammatical and historical context instead of allegory and subjective fantasy. For the most part, I don’t have much problem with this. However, I do wonder about the “plain text.” What is plain to us is not necessarily plain to the original readers and vice versa. I doubt that that would be seriously objected to however.

Yet here, Rogers will come up with a point of contention in the debate. Is it wise to take statements that condemn idolatrous and immoral sexual activity and apply them to contemporary Christians who are gay or lesbian and neither idolatrous or immoral? (p. 57) I have no wish to quibble by saying we’re all idolatrous to some extent, but I think we can on immorality. The very question at the heart is “Is  this immoral?” and you don’t answer that by arguing “They’re not doing anything immoral.” Of course, if we take the Levitical Laws, we could go across the board with them. What about the incestual relationships? Are those okay provided they’re loving and committed and not done in idol worship? Would bestiality be okay? Was Paul wrong in 1 Cor. 5?

When we get to guideline 3, I start getting concerned. Rogers’s rule is “Depend on the guidance of the Holy Spirit in interpreting and applying God’s message.” (p. 57) The problem is many of us can do what I call, punting to the Spirit, where we don’t have any basis for our claims and just say that this is what the Holy Spirit is saying. Of course, we’re back to the church problem again. How many people disagree on what the text says and say the Holy Spirit is telling them what it says?

P. 59 says to be guided by the doctrinal consensus of the church, which is the rule of faith. Now to an extent, I don’t disagree with this. If you are coming up with a new interpretation, you need to have some basis for it especially if it goes against what the church has taught for a long time. Of course, there can be new information found such as when we found the Dead Sea Scrolls that can shed new light and of course, the new claim can be right, but it had better have good evidence for it.

On p. 61, we get to the fifth that says that all interpretations be in accordance with the love of God and the love of neighbor. Again, most anyone would not disagree, but what is love? So many people today say that if you oppose homosexuality, then you are not being loving. Aren’t God’s people supposed to love? It’s this bizarre idea that love means that you don’t ever say that anyone or anything is wrong.

In reality, if you love anything, you will have to hate. You will hate because you love what you love and want the good of what you love and will be opposed to anything that goes against that. Love is not a rule that says anything goes and you don’t condemn. If you have children, you will not let them play with matches or guns because you love them and you will not tolerate the schoolyard bully punching them because “You need to show love to him.”

The next is on p. 62. It is that the Bible requires earnest study to establish the best text and interpret the influence of the historical and cultural context. Of course, this is absolutely true. One must seriously study the Bible, a lesson it would be good to see internet atheists learn. Rogers already has an example citing Furnish on Romans 1 with the idea that same-sex intercourse compromises what would be seen in a patriarchal society as the dominant role of males over females.

I find this claim problematic. There were writings that referred to nature, such as in Cicero, that point to the idea that the male and female body fit together. (It’s hard to think that no one back then ever noticed that.) The second century physician Soranus wrote about parts of the body not being used as they were meant to be in homosexuality. Furthermore, Paul is writing this from a Jewish perspective and in Judaism, the opposition to homosexual behavior was the most intense. Why if they were just copying the culture around them? It’s furthermore difficult to think that the wrath of God was pouring down on the world because they were questioning patriarchy.

On p. 64, we read that we are to seek to interpret a passage in light of all of the Bible. Again, I can agree to a point. I think we should interpret the passage on its own merit first and then in the end go to the whole, but I doubt Rogers would disagree with that. Rogers does say later that “When we recognize that all of us, of whatever sexual orientation, are created by God, that we are all fallen sinners, and that we can all be redeemed by the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, homosexuality will no longer be a divisive issue.”

I don’t know anyone in the debate who is contesting that. I hold that homosexual practice is wrong, but that the people are made by God and are fallen sinners and can be redeemed. Of course, if he’s wanting to say they were created that way, that could be contested and that would need to be established and to my knowledge, it hasn’t, but I know of no one who is denying the power of Christ with redemption.

When Rogers gets to the text, it’s not much better. Rogers argues that the Levitical statements are all about male superiority and if you undermine that, then that leads to the death penalty. It’s hard to think of how all the other incestual laws and the laws against child sacrifice and bestiality go against male superiority, but somehow Rogers thinks they do. It’s also hard to think that the other nations, as the ending of Lev. 18 and 20 indicate, are being judged for going against male superiority. Does Rogers want to argue that God is sexist?

On p. 73, Rogers says that the Gospel Paul is proclaiming does not center on sexuality but the universality of sin and grace in Christ. Sure, but so what? The issue of what we can and cannot eat should not be read the way it is because of the Gospel? Paul after all did not write this whole letter just to say you can eat X kinds of food. There’s a lot more to it. Paul did not write the letter just to condemn homosexual behavior, but what if that is a part of what he did?

Rogers also argues that for Paul, unnatural was a synonym for unconventional. Rogers points to the illustration of the olive tree in Romans 11 as his example. This doesn’t really work since the olive tree is not an entity with its own will and desires. When we speak of what is natural for it, we speak of what will happen following the course of nature. By the course of nature, shoots from another tree would not walk on over and attach themselves to the olive tree. When we apply this to humans, we are not talking about convention, as if olive trees grow by convention. We are talking about design and this time the participants can choose to act according to their design.

Rogers also argues that this was about passion and having too much of an excess. I find this an odd argument. While Paul can say in 1 Cor. 7 that he wishes all were as he was and willing to be celibate, he doesn’t ever talk about an excess of sex. He never says to the married couples “Hey! You two! Let’s not have too much of that hanky panky going on! Please try to desire your spouse a little bit less!” Instead, if he has any danger he wants to warn against, it’s married couples having too little sex. Paul is saying “If you want to avoid sex, do it by mutual consent and then only for a short time.” Of course, Paul would condemn sex outside of the covenant and he does, but it is not the case that we have Paul saying people are desiring sex too much. It’s what they do with it. Thus, I find Rogers’s argument strange and lacking.

Rogers says that if Paul walked into the Playboy Mansion today or observed college students “hooking up” he would condemn such an action not because heterosexual sex is wrong, but because of the context. I can’t help but wonder at this point if Rogers would say the same if he was told that these were “loving relationships.” That does seem to be the qualifier for him.

To his credit, Rogers does interact with Gagnon and points out that Jesus said some are born eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven. Again, this is an odd response. Rogers and others will say that the ancient world knew nothing of homosexual orientation (see p. 58 of his book) and yet here, Jesus is talking about people with a homosexual orientation supposedly. Which is it? Furthermore, these people are people who in fact do not just avoid sex with women, but rather sex with ANYONE whatsoever. If Rogers was consistent, then he would be saying that those who are born eunuchs then should avoid all sex. Jesus never says anything about these eunuchs having sex with others.

Rogers also says that Gagnon thinks all homosexuals have willfully chosen their orientation. No source is given for this and from my interactions with Gagnon, this is not the case. In fact, about Rogers’s statement, Gagnon points to what he has said in his book The Bible and Homosexual Practice.

The latest scientific research on homosexuality simply reinforces what Scripture and common sense already told us: human behavior results from a complex mixture of biologically related desires (genetic, intrauterine, post-natal brain development), familial and environmental influences, human psychology, and repeated choices. Whatever predisposition to homosexuality may exist is a far cry from predestination or determinism and easy to harmonize with Paul’s understanding of homosexuality. It is often stated by scholars supportive of the homosexual lifestyle that Paul believed that homosexual behavior was something freely chosen, based on the threefold use of “they exchanged” (metellaxan) in Rom 1:23, 25, 26. The use of the word exchange may indeed suggest that Paul assumed an element of choice was involved, though for the phenomenon globally conceived and not necessarily for each individual. Certainly, the larger context in which these verses are found indicates a willing suppression of the truth about God and God’s design for the created order (1:18). And indeed who would debate the point that homosexual behavior is void of all choice? Even a predisposition does not compel behavior.

Romans 1-8 indicates as well that Paul considered the sinful passions that buffet humanity to be innate and controlling. Corresponding to the threefold “they exchanged” is the threefold “God gave them over” (paredoken autous ho theos) in 1:24, 26, 28. Rather than exert a restraining influence, God steps aside and allows human beings to be controlled by preexisting desires.Paul paints a picture of humanity subjugated and ruled by its own passions; a humanity not in control but controlled. . . . Based on a reading of Rom 5:12-21 and 7:7-23, it is clear that Paul conceived of sin as ‘innate’ . . . . Paul viewed sin as a power operating in the ‘flesh’ and in human ‘members,’ experienced since birth as a result of being descendants of Adam. . . . For Paul all sin was in a certain sense innate in that human beings don’t ask to feel sexual desire, or anger, or fear, or selfishness—they just do, despite whether they want to experience such impulses or not. If Paul could be transported into our time and told that homosexual impulses were at least partly present at birth, he would probably say, ‘I could have told you that’ or at least ‘I can work that into my system of thought.’” (pp. 430-31; boldface added)

For the sake of argument, Gagnon could be wrong in what he says. You could disagree with him entirely here. There is something he cannot be wrong on. He cannot be wrong in that this is what he believes. This does not indicate that he thinks this is willfully chosen. We might as well ask if Vietnam vets chose to have PTSD.

Rogers also thinks Gagnon goes beyond Scripture in pointing to design, but this is interesting because much of the rest of the book is Rogers talking about interacting with homosexual couples. This can be touching I’m sure, but what does it have to do with interpretation? Would the argument work if I introduced you to several couples of mothers and sons living together in a loving incestual relationship? Obviously not. So what difference does seeing “loving homosexual couples” have to do with this? Just list any group down the line and see if you would apply the same standard.

In the end, Rogers does not really have a convincing case. It looks more like he knew what he wanted to find and he went to find it. It’s easy to go along with the culture many times in Christianity, but he who marries the spirit of the age will be destined to die a widow.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Unchanging Witness

What do I think of S. Donald Forston and Rollin G. Grams’s book published by B&H Publishing Group? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

With the Supreme Court voting to redefine marriage and the rise of writers like Justin Lee, Matthew Vines, and John Boswell, the church faces a new challenge. Historically, the church has always held to a consistent sexual ethic when it comes to issues relating to homosexuality, but now the claim is rising up that an active homosexual lifestyle and Christianity can coincide. This is also causing splits across the church as new denominations are formed when Christians are convinced the one that they had has fallen away.

Forston and Grams have written in this situation to help Christians through this time by first off, giving an overview of history from ancient Judaism up to the present time to see that the new move is indeed something new and without any Biblical warrant at all. Some might want to claim that Christians have held to different stances throughout history, but it is up to the critic now to substantiate that in light of this research. This was a highly thorough part of the book constantly looking at primary resources and citing them.

After that, we get into the Biblical data, which while I enjoyed the history was the much more intriguing part to me as we get to see interactions with the arguments of the homosexual revisionists today. It’s not a surprise that the change of interpretation has come to coincide with what Western culture wants to embrace. Of course, there can be grounds for changing a long held viewpoint on how a passage should be interpreted, but we need to make sure that those grounds are valid grounds. It can be too easy to begin with the conclusion that we want and then go on from there.

You might think that if you’ve read Gagnon’s work on the topic, you need go no further, but I disagree. Gagnon’s work is indeed excellent and he makes the most thorough exegetical case that there is, but I think in some ways these writers build on the foundation and add in a few extra pieces along with the historical data. If you have read both of these books, you will be equipped to deal with those who wish to say that Christianity and an actively homosexual lifestyle can coincide.

In the end, the writers say it will come down to a question of authority. There are a number of people who are now saying “Well yeah, the Bible does condemn this, but we just realize that was the opinion of the writers in the time of the Bible.” If someone wants to say “We’ve changed our view on slavery and women”, the writers have a section at the end dealing with that kind of objection.

If there were some downsides, I wish more of the quotes from the church fathers had focused on homosexual behavior instead of pederasty. Also, if you want more of a Natural Law approach, you won’t find it here. I think it’s important that Christians have both Natural Law and Scriptural approaches, but I understand the writers could not give us everything.

Ultimately, if you want to know what’s going on in the church with this issue, this is a book you need to get your hands on.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Called To Love

What do I think of Carl Anderson and Jose Granados’s book published by Doubleday? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Called To Love is an in-depth look at Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. Now as readers know, I am not Catholic, but I do think there is much Catholic wisdom out there and I’m definitely interested in researching topics relating to our understanding of sexuality. This was a topic I did a lot of thinking on long before I got married and now that I am married, I can say experience brings to light a whole new way of looking at the equation.

The book starts with a look at the body and sees the body as an extension of the self, the way that you interact with the world. It is by your body that your presence is best made known to the world. Why do we say people like my grandmother, for instance, are no longer with us? Because their bodies are not here or they are absent from their bodies. In the case of a marriage, the body is the gift that each spouse brings to the other. It’s easy to look at your spouse and treat them as an object alone, such as a breadwinner or security or a household servant and even as a sexual object, but it’s something else to see them as not just a body but as a person dwelling in a body and realize that of all the gifts they give you, the greatest gift they give you is their body. It is not their body as an object, but them as a person and saying “I give you all that I am.”

Love for the other person then is being thankful that that other person exists. It is not just they exist for your sake, but you exist for theirs as well. When true spousal love takes place, the two spouses want to bring about the best of the other person and many times, this comes out in sex. Sex is the place of ultimate sacrifice and it is the reminder that we are made for connection. We are made to first be connected to our creator, but it is in a powerful connection to a person of the opposite sex, that we experience the totally unique love of the other. We experience someone who is so radically different from us and that person receives us as we are. In fact, this sexual love, especially since it has the ability to bring about new life, can be seen as the closest mirror we have to the Trinity.

Of course, this also ties in with the person of Jesus who came to show us how to live and by His embodiment, it is shown that the body is a good thing. This is further shown by His resurrection which is an indication of our future resurrection. The resurrection says we are made to dwell in bodies and that our bodies are good and holy things and we need to treat them like that. That God Himself becomes incarnate in a body should tell us that there is nothing wrong with having a body and today, we have God the Holy Spirit dwelling in us to show us that in this way God is also indwelling in a temple today and we should treat our bodies like that temple.

While I did not agree with a lot of the Catholic doctrine in the book, I can say that as a Protestant, it did get me more appreciative of the body and taking it seriously and I hope Protestants do catch on to this kind of reality. We do far too little talk on what sexuality is and how it matters and we pay far too little attention to our bodies and do not realize the grand place that they have been given in creation. Through any number of means, we treat our bodies just like they were machines or other purely material objects, when they are not. God did not make a mistake when He gave us our bodies. He meant for us to treasure them and use them in love. The great love is following Romans 12 and presenting our bodies as living sacrifices. The earthly side of that is often going to our spouses and giving our bodies to them self-sacrificially as well.

We were Called To Love. Let’s fulfill our calling.

In Christ,
Nick Peters