Why Eros Is Different

Some of you reading this in the morning might want to check on the blog before this as well. I am going to be busy busy busy tonight. Thus, I’m going on and doing the blog early in the morning as opposed to the usual late in the evening. I need my sleep just like anyone else does after all.

In his book, the Four Loves, C.S. Lewis ponders why it seems that eros love can be so much stronger than even our love for God in its feeling of passion. As one who has had the experience of being in love, I find this an interesting question. This is also said with the realization as a recent speaker at our church said, that a guy can in a lesser sense fall in love at the grocery store. (And I hope that you know exactly what I mean by that.)

When one falls in love, there is a strong passion where one thinks about the beloved and is overwhelmed with desire and joy thinking about them. The thought of this one person just hangs in our mind and we want to do nothing else really. All is secondary it seems and we have a whole new dimension of life opened up.

Why is our faith in God not like that?

Now to some people, this may not apply. Some of you may have an overwhelming passion. I suspect though that there are many more who are like myself and this is for them. There are many of us who do devote our lives to the ministry and believe in loving God with all our hearts, souls, minds, and strength. We believe that he is the way, the truth, and the life, but we do not live with much strong feeling for him.

Lewis does give us an important reminder though in that what really matters is not the intensity of the feelings but rather, who do we serve at the end of the day? The fact that many in love do not have sexual intercourse until they say “I do” is evidence that their greater loyalty is to God despite whatever their feelings might be at the time.

But why is it different?

I have a theory I’d like to suggest. Thomas Aquinas tells us that whenever we think of something, we form some image in our mind. If we are thinking of a number for instance, we image the writing of the number in our heads. (I make a distinction as seeing “2” is not the same as the number two itself.) We could say we see the word “God” when we think of God or visualize a bright light or something of that sort.

So what happens in Eros? We get an image of a person and I believe that is what distinguishes this from the others. It is the type of person it is. I can image my friend, but I do not feel sexual desire at that point. I can image my mother, but I do not feel desire. I can even image some female friends that I know to be off limits in one way or another and not have desire.

With Eros though, you are imaging a person you desire. In this case, I then think it’s simply sexual desire expressing itself which is naturally there with strong feelings. Why? Because this is a bodily desire. When you desire to see your friend, you do not desire their body. When you desire to see your parents, you do not desire their bodies. It is different with eros though as it is a desire of the person body and soul.

This is a good thing of course. If my interpretation of what is found in the Handbook of Biblical Social Values is correct, it means that to love a spouse is simply to be sexually attracted to her. Yes men. If I am correct, it is a command of God that you be attracted to your wives. (Makes it harder to cheat on her if you are especially attracted to her and don’t want to risk losing that attraction.)

As far as I can tell, this is what make Eros different from all the others and why the feelings are so different. I could be wrong, but I can’t think of a better explanation at the time. It would explain why the passions are so different. Again though, we must be sure that with the great passion of eros that we use it properly. For this, I do find C.S. Lewis’s “The Four Loves” to be a great guide. (It’s also the only book of his you can get on audio with him doing the reading.)

So whatever personality you are, go and serve, and let the feelings tend for themselves.

Do You Love God?

I’m at work today talking to a girl about matters of faith. She asks me if I’m in school and I say I am and she asks my major and I tell her it’s philosophy. (Which is accurate, though I did not mention that I’m learning it at a seminary.) She tells me then that she loves philosophy. I ask her who she’s read and the only name I get is Edgar Cayce.

Do you know that name? He’s the guy who fell asleep and woke up and told people what they needed to cure their conditions. He was your typical new age type who believed in reincarnation and would not be considered an orthodox Christian in any way. (I wouldn’t consider him a philosopher either.)

Then she tells me that she is a Christian. Now this does make me wonder some, especially when we got to other religions and I saw pluralistic leanings. We have more and more people growing up with the name “Christian” with hardly a clue about the Christian worldview and believing in things that contradict it.

Which made me wonder. How can we reach a point where we call ourselves slaves of Christ if we do not know who he is? How can we call him our Lord if we do not know about him? Is it merely that we believe Christianity is only about loving your neighbor as yourself?

We are told in Scripture that we are the bride of Christ. Now I’d like you to consider what it would mean if we were a lady and we only married a man for sexual pleasure. We did not want to know him. All we cared about was what he could do for us. If that is the case, we are treating him based on function only.

Of course, we men are just as guilty. Imagine if you had a girl who had female circumcision so she could not enjoy sexual intercourse. You could though, and you married her simply so you could enjoy the pleasure she brought you but you had no interest in her. You did not care to know her at all. It makes one think of these one-night stands where neither person even knows the other’s name. (Isn’t that romantic? Total disclosure to someone you know nothing about?)

How are we treating Christ any differently though?

Are we in this because of who he is or is it merely ourselves? Do we come to Christ because he gives us feelings of joy, or is it because we know we have violated his standards and we believe that he is the source of eternal life and the Lord of all creation and we need to submit to him.

Don’t get me wrong. There are benefits there. This is the same for sexuality in marriage. The difference is that both parties benefit. My fear though is that we are approaching Christ in a way where it is only about us. Now technically, we can do nothing to benefit Christ. He cannot be improved in anyway. We can treat him as he is though.

Do we call him Lord? What does that mean? Have we really grasped it? He says he is the way, the truth, and the life. Do we agree, or do we hold to pluralistic leanings? He says that all who are on the side of truth listen to him. Do we really listen to him? Are we on the side of truth?

Now some of us might have come for weak reasons. I would consider myself one. However, it is a shame if our faith stays at that level. We are to grow over time and there is not enough Christian growth as people do not know what it means to be a Christian or why they are one. Is it any shock that so many young people lose their faith in college?

The question then is do we really love God or are we merely using him? Persons can be used and that is wrong. It is just as wrong to use God. Of course, we do not hurt him in doing such, but we hurt ourselves instead ironically. The best Christian life is one lived in full obedience to the teachings of Christ.

Why settle for anything less?

Beauty As Objective

I was in my class tonight with a leading Christian apologist teaching and he was speaking about God’s revelation in beauty. Now readers of my blog know that this is a strong point of mine. I am getting more and more concerned with even Christians who speak of beauty as if it’s in the eye of the beholder.

I raised my hand and brought up that point and how that this is the case with Christians. I told him that I had been one who has argued for a long time that beauty is objective and used aesthetic arguments. I asked him if he would comment on that. His reply went further than I thought it would, but I believe it could likely be true.

He told the class as a whole, as this was during class, that he believed that we would not be able to reach the next generation unless we convinced them that beauty is objective. Indeed, it seems when I meet people who argue that it isn’t, that the same arguments they give me for not believing it, I could turn and apply to morality and we’d have moral relativism.

Objective beauty is just one thing we know. I was calling my mother after class who is in no way a philosopher and even when I described the interaction in class, I had to say “Hello?” as she was quiet on the phone and she just said “I just have no idea what you just said to me.”

So I explained it. I said that it simply means that something is beautiful rather you believe it or not. For instance, if you go outside and see a beautiful sunset tomorrow evening, then that sunset is beautiful whether or not anyone else thinks it is. Her reply was simply to say “Of course.”

Why bring that up? Because to the common person, it is that obvious. There is no reason to doubt it. We all know that we would rather go see the Mona Lisa than go see a pile of cow manure. We all know that it is nicer to hear a symphony played than it is to hear the sound of nails on a chalkboard. We all know that we would rather have food that tastes good as opposed to food that’s been in the garbage dump for weeks.

If there is no objective beauty, why do we even have critics? Why have critics of plays and movies and TV shows unless we think there is a way they are supposed to be? Why have critics of art unless there really is a standard art should seek to meet? Why do we have fashion magazines about beauty unless women are trying to reach for some idea of beauty?

Friends. I will say this as clearly as I can. If nothing is objectively beautiful, then nothing is beautiful. Not even God. You are just ascribing beauty to it, but that beauty does not really exist in the object. In a way, you are denying reality. If nothing is beautiful, then let us go on and say it.

Nietzsche was one who was consistent with this at least. So many atheists try the same game with morality and say nothing is really moral but that we need to establish a system anyway. Nietzsche would denounce that and say “Let’s not beat around the bush. There’s no morality and there’s no sense making one.”

Friends. We need to recover beauty for this generation. Not only in an apologetic sense, but I think especially of so many young ladies I see who are beautiful and they don’t see it. Could it be that they don’t see it because they don’t realize what beauty really is and how they match it?

And could it be because they don’t see the beautiful as it is? They don’t realize that God is the source of all beauty?

For the future of our world, let us reclaim beauty.

Pat Robertson and Religious Gullibility

I’m checking my blog this morning and I see I have a response to the gullibility post I had. It was stating that some were skeptical of Piltdown man for a long time and it took much time to see it wasn’t a hoax. (300 PH.D.s missed that though along with other such things as the peppered moth account being a hoax.) There is still some skepticism supposedly on Secret Mark, and I’m skeptical of those who think it hasn’t been debunked.

Now we get to Pat Robertson though.  What does it mean when he goes on the air and claims to speak for God? What about also unverifiable miracles? Now I’m not sure how those go together. Frankly, I don’t watch Pat Robertson and what I’ve heard doesn’t please me. I gave up on Christian TV a long time ago.

However, we do have criteria set in play also. The Scriptures are there as well as reason. I’ve written a number of times on being skeptical of people who claim to receive messages from God.  Unfortunately, people do often think that Pat Robertson does speak for God. I never did deny that religious people can be gullible. Sadly, they too often are. I denied that it’s necessarily because they’re religious.

Christians though need to heed what this comment said. We should not be so gullible. When someone claims to speak for God, send up those red flags. The words “God told me” are dangerous words. The prophets of old were willing to die for the certainty they had that God had told them something.

The other side needs to be watchful also though. There are a number of claims that can’t be backed on the other side as well. Richard Dawkins will speak about a virus that has programmed certain ideas into humanity. Unfortunately, do we have any evidence for such a thing?

Could it also be one reason people can be so gullible today is that they don’t know how to think? Why is it that we have stopped teaching logic in public schools? (Interesting isn’t it that Christian schools do teach logic.) Instead, we have decided to teach children what to think instead of how to think.

This is why Phillip Johnson has been saying we should teach the controversy and it surprises me that the other side doesn’t like that. When someone comes to me and says they want to study all the religions to find out which is true I say, “Go ahead. Doesn’t bother me.” Why? Because if they are really seeking truth, I think they’ll come to Christ. In fact, I would hope they’d do something like this first so they can have a firm foundation when they come.

Let us let school children see some interplay. If the naturalistic crowd thinks the arguments by creationists of all varieties are so dumb and easily debunked, then let us let it be done in the public square. Let’s have it done before students so they can see the absurdity of it all.

As for miracles, that is getting into historiography. We cannot verify many events in history. We cannot verify what Caesar said when he crossed the Rubicon. We can verify though the reliability of the accounts. The same is done for Scripture. It is reliable when we can test it. We will trust it where we cannot.

That is another question for another night though.

New Friends

I’ve written before on the joys of friendship. Aristotle identified this as a virtue that you could not have too much of and did a detailed look at it in the Nicomachean Ethics. C.S. Lewis followed suit and has a whole chapter on the importance of friendship in his work “The Four Loves.”

What got me thinking on this? It was my prayer time last night. As readers know, I have moved in the past few months to a new city and am attending a new Seminary. Working with new people and attending a new church and going to school has given me the chance to meet several people.

So I prayed last night for the people I’ve got to know well. The list just kept going and I was amazed by that. In fact, throughout the day I’ve thought of people that I had forgot to include in that list.  I’d also say that many of the staff at the Seminary I’ve come to know as friends as well.

I also thought about my roommate. Readers of my blog know about my Smallville obsession. I might not have mentioned it, but I have a particular obsession with the character of Chloe, who Clark should have gone out with a long time ago since she’s the best looking girl in the series and she already had her eye on Clark.

So what does my roomie do? Oh he has a fun graphic of Chloe turning into Hilary Clinton. I do happen to be a strong Republican. However, it just made me laugh. (Although he says the look on my face was priceless when I first saw it.) Why? Because I see it as a sign of friendship more than anything else. This is someone who feels safe joking with me and wants to make me laugh.

Teasing is a habit I particularly enjoy, and it’s one I save for good friends. It is actually something that draws me closer to them. Sharing laughs with friends over common things that are just silly and only understood by a select few makes friendship almost like a club where you know who the members are and those members share a special bond.

Tonight, we had another friend come over. We had an evening of gaming that ended with looking at the new Super Smash Brothers Brawl website and listening to the music and watching the videos and then discussing things like our jobs and saying that we’d see each other at church next Sunday.

Thursday evening, the new Smallville airs and I’ll be in class. I will be taping it though and then having a friend from class come home with me to watch the new episode. Who knows? Maybe we’ll find someone else there who is a fan who will want to watch it with us as well?

After the death of a friend this week, it really has made me think. There are so many people in our lives that we just take for granted. For all I know, they might not be here tomorrow. For all I know, I might not be here tomorrow. One of my friends now takes the time regularly to remind me that he is my friend. That’s something to be appreciated.

Tonight, as I pray, I will again remember my list of friends. I left a lot of people behind, but I have been blessed to have a whole new group of people come by as well.

Who Is Gullible?

I was talking to a co-worker yesterday about spiritual matters and he asked me about the appearances of Mary on interstate underpasses and tortillas. Now I do believe that such things could happen, but excuse me if in many cases, I don’t just turn skeptical. He told me that he was skeptical also.

Then he made an interesting comment. He told me though that there would be some religious people out there who would just believe anything and not bother to check and be bought in by every hoax. I had to agree with that, but then I started mulling that over. Why did he say religious people?

Is this a trait of religious people or is it just a trait of people? Why do we mention religious people first off as if there’s a hidden implication that once you become religious (Whatever that means) then you will be more prone to be tricked by any half-baked idea that comes down the pipe?

Let us remember that the scientific world has had its share of hoaxes. Do we not remember Piltdown Man? How many PH.D.’s wrote their dissertations on Piltdown Man? Now years afterwards, what has the conclusion been? It turns out that Piltdown Man was a hoax.

How about the idea that the people until the modern times believed that the Earth was flat? This idea has been bounced around so much that people believe it’s true. Unfortunately, there’s not a shred of truth to it. They all knew it was a sphere and the way to do that is to just read them.

How about Galileo? We don’t get the truth in this story. This wasn’t a story about religion vs. science. It was a story about science vs. science. It was also a problem of ego vs. ego as both the Pope at the time and Galileo had huge egos and neither one would relent. Today though, it’s used as religion vs. science.

I’ve recently seen someone even using the account of Secret Mark. I pointed out that this was also shown to be a hoax and I’m still waiting for a reply from this individual. It’s my guess that I will be waiting. Anyone wanting to see the story behind this can read Lee Strobel’s “The Case for the Real Jesus.”

I could go on. The point is that the atheistic side has had its share of gullibility. Now I’m of the mindset that gullibility is not a good trait, but it especially isn’t one in Christians. We should be people of the truth. We should be willing to crack open books and check with experts and see what the truth is.

However, people are not gullible because they are religious. They are gullible because they are people and some of them just happen to be religious. Being a Christian should not mean you open your mind to everything out there and swallow it all. It should mean you seek out and believe that which is true.

Our OT Knowledge

My roommate and I had a discussion tonight with a friend concerning issues of prophecy. I kept raising one point and I figured I would blog about it tonight. When we read the NT, we have to keep in mind that when Jesus speaks, the audience is assumed to have a thorough knowledge of the OT. We do not understand much of what was said if we do not have such an understanding.

What perspective does Paul write from? That same one. What about Peter? That same one. What about the book of Revelation? That same one. We need that thorough knowledge of the Old Testament. Unfortunately today, we emphasize the New Testament so much that we sometimes forget God did write another testament.

This is only to our regret. We are only hurting ourselves by not understanding the Old Testament and I’d say I don’t have a good a grasp on it as did the audience in Jesus’s day. We don’t understand the languages for one. (Most of us.) These would be Aramaic and Hebrew. Even if we can read some of them, are we really that fluent in them?

Do we memorize the text also? Many Jews in the time of Christ would know OT passages by memory very quickly. The rabbis said that until you had a verse memorized, you were not allowed to comment on it. Are we the same or do we treat the text lightly and not memorize it?

If we approach the NT and we don’t have the knowledge of the OT, then we are going to be lacking in our understanding of the NT. While we should certainly read the NT as it is God’s Word to us, we must be sure that we get in an understanding of the OT as well to help us along.

Now this is my idea for the next time I go straight through my Bible. I hope I do it. I’d like to get a good book on each book of the Bible for when I go through it so that I can have it nearby and know things to look for and points to consider I might not know on my own. I’m not talking about a commentary per se. I’m just talking about an overview.

Friends. Our knowledge matters. This is Scripture and we often say Scripture interprets Scripture. If we do not know the Scriptures though, we cannot interpret them as they ought to be interpreted.

Do We Love God?

This is a question I ask myself several times and I was thinking about on the way home from Seminary. Do I really love God? I enjoy answering questions and writing blogs and posting on forums and such. I enjoy reading books and watching debates and listening to MP3s. Do I really love God though?

And yet, where do we go to determine this? Our feelings. I have a great friendship for my roommate right now. That does not mean that I feel a great friendship. It’s there. How do I know? I know because of the way I act around him and how I want to please him and if I can help him in any way, I’ll do it.

I call my family after every class and let them know how it went. I don’t have great feelings for my family.  I still call them though. I talk to them and let them know what’s going on. It’s just not really a feeling thing. I pray for them and I’d like to help them with their troubles, but I don’t have much feeling.

The only exception is romantic love. Romantic love does tend to produce strong feelings, but that could change in marriage. In fact, I expect it to. (Not that I’m anywhere near that point as I’m not dating anyone.) C.S. Lewis even noted this in his book “The Four Loves.” Eros seems to be different from any other love in that it is a love of strong passion.

Maybe some of you out there do have great feelings for God. That’s great. I’m not saying this to condemn you. I’m saying this to say that this is where I’m at and I don’t think I’m alone in it. I suspect that there are many people who go through their Christian life and they just don’t have much emotion.

In fact, I’d say such people are like that in most areas of their lives. We tend to be laid-back and don’t get overly excited. Now my friends know I have a number of passions in my life, but I don’t have strong feelings still many of the time. If I hear the Smallville theme song, for instance, I will run to see where it is coming from, but I am not flooded with intense euphoria or anything. I merely enjoy it.

So am I and others lovers of God?

I think if we can’t go to our feelings, we can only go to one other source, and that is the same for friendship, our actions. I like what my roommate said to me one time before we moved in that has always stuck with me. That he would not speak so much of love as he would of loyalty and I thought of that tonight.

I am spending my paychecks on living here simply so I can spend my whole life in the ministry.

I have a bedroom full of books that I bought largely with my own money for help in ministry.

I am willing to stay up late at night even if I have to work the next day just because I think someone needs some help.

I will spend my time writing articles when I could be doing other things because I think the truth needs to get out there.

I do not have any girls pregnant or anyone with broken bones or any dishonest money simply because I believe it’s important to obey the moral law of God.

Now I’m not saying that to toot my horn. I’m very fallable in many ways still and I am fully cognizant of my own sinfulness. I’m saying that so that maybe you can think of some examples in your own life.

Feelings. They can be good for many things, but not often the best for revealing who we really are. Look at your actions and even closer, your reactions. If you don’t have strong feelings, it’s okay. You just might not be wired that way.

We Mourn, But We Have Hope

Paul wrote in 1 Thess. 4:13 that we mourn, but we do not mourn like those who have no hope. I’m having to remember that. The friend that I was writing about last night did pass away during the night. I had a restless night thinking about it. It was a night when you don’t know how much you’ve slept or when you were awake or not and dreaming or not.

I had read before the chapter in the Problem of Pain by C.S. Lewis on Heaven. It gave me much to think about. I’m a weird guy, but when I approach something like this, I see it as a chance to learn. I’ve done much thinking now on the resurrection and the afterlife and what a difference it makes.

The resurrection is what changes everything. My friend Laura who passed away? I will see her again. This is only temporary. That is what changes everything. I do not have to go around and say “Never again.” I only have to say “Gone for now, but we will certainly meet again.”

In the Monk series, detective Adrian Monk is tormented by a criminal with being told that the last thing his wife said to this criminal was “Bread and butter.” No one could figure out what that meant until Monk told in the end. He and his wife would walk together and if they had to separate hands, she’d say “Bread and butter.” It was a way of saying that they were splitting for a moment, but they would be back again. If my friend could say something to me now, it’d be “Bread and butter.”

We Christians can rejoice because death is not the end. Death has been defeated. Christ has come and brought life. We are approaching the stable door now and seeing that there is a world beyond. We are facing the deep magic from the dawn of time with the power of the deeper magic from the dawn of time.

Death has worked itself in reverse. The greatest tool of the enemy has become the great friend of the believer. In the end, death becomes the chariot that takes us to the house of the bridegroom for the consummation of the holy marriage. It turns out that death is now simply a joke.

I can rejoice then. Don’t get me wrong. I’m sad. I’m very sad. My eyes were watering up this morning as I read the news that Laura had died. I am still getting sad as I think about it.  Throughout the day, I have been quiet. I wanted to smack the person who told me “Good morning” at work today. What’s so good about it? My friend is dead.

It’s not the end though. The resurrection is the promise. Laura will live again. When she does, it will be in a place where friends will never be separated again.

Yes my friends, death is not the end. It’s just a minor interruption. I mourn, but unlike others, I have hope.

It’s Okay To Cry

I got home from class tonight with some disappointing news. A friend of ours is in the hospital who I blogged about a month or so ago and this time, it does look like it’s only a matter of time. The general consensus has been about pain and suffering and how horrible it is and sometimes, we would like this world to be a better place.

I’m going to be blunt, and some people won’t like my terminology, but sometimes life just sucks.

I’m also going to be blunt. We Christians need to admit that.

I am so sick of seeing us go and act like we always have to be happy. Guess what everyone! I’m not! I’m willing to bet I’m not alone in the universe in this way. I’m betting there are times that you just want to scream or break down or do whatever it is that you do in handling grief.

And sadly, one of the worst places to go to for this is church. Why? No one comes to church sad! You ever noticed that? We’re all supposed to come there happy and we’re ready to praise the Lord. You want the truth? There are several times I don’t want to praise the Lord. There are several times I don’t like what’s going on in my life and I am just angry or sad or depressed and I don’t want to sing about how wonderful the Christian life is.

Don’t do that though. You’ll break the image.

No. My friend is in the hospital and it looks like we’re going to lose her and I’m a bundle of emotions thinking about it. There is a part that does realize God is my only hope in all of this. There’s also a part though that wants to scream out at God and ask him why he’s not helping her. There’s a part that wants to cry and beg and ask if I can make any “deals” with God.

Now I don’t think I could, but I think we all recognize the tendency. I know I wish I could swoop in somehow and save the world and have us all go home happy. Unfortunately, I can’t do that. He’s letting this happen. The truth is, I just have to trust him. Another truth is that I don’t necessarily have to like it. It’s okay to have questions and emotions.

Yeah. I’m talking with several now and laughing some but then I come back here and remember the truth. When I go to bed tonight, it might hit me harder. I don’t know. I just think I need to go on with my life either way. I can’t change things, so I might as well learn to accept them.

One thing should change though.

I and you should not go through this situation or any situation like this alone. We need each other. We are called a body but too often, we act like rogues. We each want to be Lone Rangers and do our own thing. I remember being left alone for years in the church with no one teaching me about apologetics. Is it any shock now that I spend so much time talking to younger people about it so that they will have what I never did?

You know what? Happiness is good, but you are not commanded to always be happy. Jesus was a man of sorrows and familiar with suffering. Paul wrote about many of his trials in 2 Corinthians. Read the letter. It’s all the way through. Where did we get this idea that the Christian life means you’ll never doubt, you’ll never suffer, you’ll always feel happy, you’ll always feel the presence of God (Whatever that means), and that you can cheer up and sing your heart out everyday.

It’s not real Christianity, and the world knows it. They need to know when we bleed also. That way when we do, they can see what a loving Christian family does when one is hurt. They will never see that if we never reveal the hurt. If we don’t trust them enough to reveal the hurt, why should we expect the non-Christian to trust them?

Tonight, I’m still a jumble, but I know I do have friends. I know that they’re encouraging me and even today, I need that encouragement. So do you. I hope I can be there for you as well.