The Incredible Hulk 2008

Time for some brevity. I went to see this movie Friday night kind of suddenly with a friend. He just asked me what my plans were and I said I had none so he invited me to join him for the movies. He wanted to see the Incredible Hulk and I was curious about it as well. Let me state my opinion about the first one released in 2003 and I’ll try to be as mild as possible.

Watching a test pattern would be more entertaining than watching the first Hulk movie.

My friend had told me that he hadn’t seen the first one to which I said that was a good thing. When asked why I said “Consider this: The first fight in that movie the Hulk had was against mutant poodles.” I then went on to explain that when the final battle scene was reached, it was a let-down. You saw his Dad turn into this huge figure and thought this would be an epic battle, but you couldn’t tell what was going on. I had to read it online before I knew.

This one was much better!

Now I’m not a professional film critic so don’t expect me to write about the acting and things of that matter unless I really think something needs to be pointed out. I’m also not one of those people that really goes to a movie to look for a lot of “realistic” stuff in that “Well we never had that explained” or “That doesn’t seem to make perfect sense.” I realize in creating a fantasy situation that sometimes there are things hard to explain and I don’t try to get nit-picky at the movies.

First off, this is a good movie. It’s not at the level of Iron Man definitely, but it is a good one, and if you go see it, be sure to stay til the end, although there is nothing after the credits. The movie didn’t exactly have me on the edge of my seat, but it was able to keep my interest. This was also by and large a very clean film the family could easily see. I can only think of one questionable scene.

Second, from what I checked, it was faithful to the comics with the same characters as well though their stories might be different a slight bit. It’s always interesting for me after I see a superhero movie to come back home and look and see how things really were. My Dad was a fan of many of these superheroes and it’s always interesting to see the stories as they are now and as they were then.

Now for the more serious content.

One scene that stands out in my mind has the Hulk rescuing his girl from a dangerous situation and he takes her to these crevices set along a mountain cliff. As he puts her in a nook away from the rain, he seems to get hit by lightning and in response picks up a rock and hurls it into the sky. My immediate thought was, and I could be wrong on this of course, was anger towards God. The Hulk in the film is very angry about the way that he is as it isolates him from the girl that he loves and from his life as a successful scientist. Why not lash out at God?

I was also moved by the one time in the movie where he tries to get romantic with his lady. Now you all know I am staunchly against pre-marital sex, but yet I did find some sorrow as he realized that he couldn’t risk anything with her in case he got too excited and the Hulk came out. It really made me think about what it must be like to have the lady you love and not be able to do anything with her. Especially if the reason is because of the way you are.

The Hulk also has often been seen as a picture of anger going out of control. Indeed, in the movie, it seems that the Hulk is a different person in some respects from Bruce Banner in that Bruce just fades into the background when the Hulk is out and Bruce can only remember bits and pieces when he is the Hulk. However, like real anger, it is controllable. Christians today need to learn anger is not a sin. It’s how we use it that’s a sin. (Although there are some things that we should not be angry over and some things we should be angry over.)

(On a side-note also, villains in movies need to learn that attacking the hero’s girlfriend is never a good idea, especially if that hero is the Hulk.)

Bruce overcomes his final enemy by willingly becoming the Hulk and figthing his opponent, though this seems to be the one time that he really learns to aim his anger and control it. In doing so, he does prevent a greater evil. In contrast to the other Hulk movie, this final battle is quite enjoyable and you can tell what is going on.

Overall, I do recommend the Hulk and I recommend watching for some tie-ins to Iron Man.

You’re Not Just A Soul!

I’m a strong dualist. If you’re not one, I still suspect you’ll agree with what I say here largely because I’m not talking about the soul. I believe that is a fundamental aspect of who we are and a part that survives our deaths, but I also believe the Bible teaches that the body is pretty important as well. We are not complete unless we are in bodies. I believe this is the nakedness Paul has in mind in 2 Cor. 5.

I bring this up and I find it fits with what we’ve been saying lately about sexuality. Oddly enough, it came when pondering the meaning of the incarnation and having a cogent theory of it which I could write on soon. We often forget that we really believe that our Lord took on a body. This should tell us that the body is ontologically good.

For a lot of us, this is hard to accept. I realize, for instance, as a guy, that I will never be a muscle-man. I will never bench press 100 pounds. I am a very skinny guy and with a steel rod on my spine that can only hold so much weight, that is just not going to change. Some of you might relate to some extent to what I am saying. It’s the idea that when you look in a mirror, you don’t get too much of a sense of pride.

Yet I must realize the truth. This body that has been created for me is good. This is something every man needs to realize and every woman. Our women today often deal with anorexia and bulimia in a society that makes them think they have to be thin, thin, thin. I am often amazed at how many women I hear say they are not attractive. Ladies! Most of the time, we guys are going crazy when you say that wondering if you even have a mirror at your house.

Believe it or not, while we do look for attractive ladies, we’re not expecting you to have a magnificent figure or to be as thin as a toothpick. We are expecting you to be you. I remember watching Price is Right years ago and thinking that the really beautiful ladies were not Barker’s beauties on stage, though they were beautiful, but the random contestants called out of the audience.

This is part of the problem when the church takes a hands-off approach to sexuality. I’m not sure how many had this experience growing up, but for me in my house, sexuality was just not really talked about. My Dad told me the facts of life once, but other than that, I can’t say we really talked about it. Perchance this is something that drove me to study this topic so much later on to learn more about what wasn’t openly discussed.

If we treat sexuality as something dirty, is it any shock that we treat our bodies the same way? Our bodies are beautiful things though and the sexual system is a beautiful thing as well. All of this is the design of God. What we look forward to on our honeymoons is what God had designed for us to look forward to. He designed it so we could enjoy it and would enjoy it and he designed our bodies so that they would give us great pleasure in the act.

This is also part of the problem in our culture with pre-marital sex. We have this idea that a man is a man if he can sleep with a woman. Anyone can do that. It just requires basic anatomy. A man though should accept himself as a man and then go to the woman. You are not going to sleep with a lady and then be a man. You are to be the man first and one of the ways to be the man with the lady is to marry her. You don’t get the treasure until you make that commitment.

Let me say this side-note at that point. A recent magazine talks about Reese Witherspoon committing to the guy she is dating by having him move in. I look at that and think “That is not a commitment. That is a test.” What’s commitment? It’s looking into their eyes before God and your family and friends and saying “I do for better or worse till death do us part.”

In the same way as the men, ladies need to learn they are women before they engage in sexual intercourse. You are not going to become a woman by having a guy get you pregnant. That won’t validate your identity any more than a guy sleeping with you will validate his. It is just usually two people trying to find who they are in the wrong place.

A proper view of ourselves biblically in the area of sexuality will be self-acceptance as well. I have to say that even if I’m not the best-looking guy, there is a lady out there that will consider me a catch and will make a commitment to me. The good news for us guys is we only have to please one! If 999 girls don’t like us and 1 marries us, we win! The reverse is true for the ladies.

This means for me being less shy as well be it socially or physically. (Socially is probably one of the hardest for me at this point.) Now suppose someone out there does think there’s something they can change about themselves. Someone might want to lose weight and get in better shape. By all means if you can and want to, do so. Just remember that your body is still good regardless. Don’t do it so your body will be good but because it is good.

For us men, we need to see ourselves as men and realize that that also is a good thing. When I see a truly beautiful lady, I often do want to thank God that I am indeed a guy. God made them to be beautiful to me and who am I to complain about the work of the master? I have to remember though that I also am the work of the master and if I complain about his handiwork on me, I am denigrating not only myself but him as well.

What do I do then? I accept my lot in life and look for the good I can do with it. I may not be Fabio, but who really gives a darn? I’m not out to impress everyone in the world physically just like I shouldn’t be out to do so intellectually. (A huge challenge for someone like myself with an intellectual bent.) I only have to please one lady physically and if I do that, then who cares about the rest of them?

This is something that I believe must be recovered today. We need to recover the idea of masculinity and femininity. I believe our bodies represent the souls that we have that are either masculine or feminine, but we need to learn our masculinity or femininity does not depend on the accidents of our body. They depend more on our character and virtue.

A real man is a real man body and soul and a real lady is a real lady body and soul.

What Is Happiness?

Due to my working late and having church early in the morning, today’s blog is going up early.

Our society is closer to Brave New World than it is to 1984. In Brave New World, everything was made to bring about the happiness of the people in the society. Now naturally, I am not against happiness, but I am in support of true happiness and not false happiness. Mortimer Adler has referred to our confusion of what happiness is as one of the great philosophical mistakes. As he states, we have confused happiness with “Having a good time.”

I’ll grant this is one that I am prone to and probably many of us are. While waiting for those precious few minutes for my computer to boot up and to restore my sessions of what I was doing before, I am one who will seek to do something else enjoyable. I suppose I am not alone in that in this day and age. We always want to be doing something and think our happiness lies in that.

Compare that to the ancient mindset and even the medieval mindset. Thomas Aquinas looked at contemplation as one of the greatest activities a man can engage in. Today, we don’t really care for silence at all and we don’t care for inactivity. We lock men up in prison where they have silence and solitude as punishment.

There is also the case where we have confused happiness with a feeling. We want the good feeling of happiness. Now I will of course admit that happiness can bring about the feelings. Happiness is not the feeling though. If you were to ask me if I usually feel happy, I would have to say no. I am a constant worrywart obsessing over every tiny little problem and having a great tendency to turn a molehill into a mountain.

Yet if I am honest, at times, I will find happiness overtakes me and it is the simplest things. I have written before about the realization of where I live and that I live with a good friend as bringing about happiness. Yesterday, another friend of mine and I went to the Y after a visit from the Mormons to check out the outdoor pool. While in the pool on the edge where I always stay, I got captivated watching a man kick a ball around and juggle it with his feet. With my interest in philosophy, I start wondering things like “Isn’t it amazing how we all seem to know the material world is there?” “How is it that we can do the simplest movements even such as telling ourselves how to walk?” “Is this man really doing something that he is enjoying?”

I think noticing our lovely lifeguards taking a dive diverted my attention at that point, but that is another kind of happiness as well.

We do not have to be engaged in activity of the kind we think though to be happy. We should be having happiness simply in the reality of the world we live in. There is enough every day to bring about happiness. Part of our problem in our experience-oriented world as Christians comes in here also. We expect God to give us stupendous experiences to show his love for us. (Many a skeptic expects God to do something incredible to show he is there.)

Now I do believe God has done such things in history, but they are not the norm. Why should God give us something stupendous when we are not willing to accept the simple things he has given us? To see if he exists, just see the world as it is. If you say that X is beautiful, you immediately have to see if it’s beautiful in itself or if you’re just pushing that on it. The same for if X action is good. In the end, it would be interesting to know if there is anything objective at all.

Another mistake we’ve made is that for the ancients, happiness could not be separated from virtue. If you wanted to be happy, you had to live right. In contrast today, we often think of morality as an obstacle to our happiness. This is what has happened with our fascination with sexuality in our society. If we accept the biblical standard, we won’t be happy in our sex lives. This is interesting since those who do accept these standards have been found to be quite happy in their sex lives. It seems more likely that the person going from person to person looking for a fix is the one that is not happy.

Thus, we come to the problem. If sex is viewed as simply a means to make us happy, then it will fail. Only God can provide the kind of happiness we seek. We cannot turn sex into a god. It will instead become a drug. Any god you seek after will eventually have you serving it instead of it serving you. The person will become a slave to sex rather than being a master to it. (And perchance, of it?) In our world, we call that addiction.

Looking back then on the question that started this out about homosexual marriage, the question is not “Does it make them happy?” The question is “Is it moral?” If it isn’t moral, then it really won’t make them happy. It might give them good feelings, but those feelings are not happiness itself. Many things we do that are wrong give us good feelings at the time and we know they do even as we do them knowing they are wrong, but they are not what is going to truly lead to us being happy as we realize later on when we regret them whenever we think of them.

If our society is going to survive, I honestly believe we’re going to have to reclaim what happiness is and draw that back to virtue, a word not often heard in our society and a good not usually sought.

What Is Sex?

I am sure most of you are somewhat stunned at this title. What is sex? Doesn’t everyone know what sex is? I asked someone recently what it was and they gave me the straight answer. They mentioned four terms and left me to put the pieces together, but I will state that it was all what we might think crude. I don’t want to say dirty as sex is not dirty. It is sacred and beautiful.

That’s part of our problem in the church in fact. We’ve made sex something dirty. We’ve made talking about it a hands-off topic. We don’t speak about it from the pulpit except for when to not do it and how to not do it. When do we ever hear “Rejoice in the wife of your youth,” or “Drink your fill O lovers!”? If we do hear something good about sex, it’s always followed by a list of negatives.

Could it be this is why the Hollywood view is more popular to us? Honestly, I do have those same feelings of excitement when I know something is about to happen in a movie or TV show. I don’t get excited about sex though during church services because of the way we paint church. I don’t walk out of church often and think “Wow! I can’t wait til I get married!”

And rest assured, if we don’t accept the biblical view of sex, we’ll accept another view.

So let’s talk about sex.

First off, the first question. What is it?

This person I talked to had it wrong. Sex is not an action. Sex is a nature. It is what you are. It is not what you do. Intercourse is an action. Sex is what must be for that action to take place. If you are a lady, everything you do, you do as a female. You do not do it as a male. I, as a male, do everything I do as a man. I do not do it as a woman.

There are many things both of us can do. We can both drive cars. We can both walk and run. We can both do mathematics. We can both use logic and reason. We can both read and write books. Now I know there are some other differences even in these areas between men and women. Unlike many Politically Correct people today, I actually acknowledge that men and women are different.

There are some things that only men can do and only women can do. As a man, I am the only sex that can give the cell that starts a new life in a female. It’s not going to come from a lady. It’s going to come from someone of my sex. A lady, on the other hand, is the only one that can get pregnant and then bring a new life into the world. A man cannot do that.

That is when the action comes in. The action flows from the essence and the action is the fulfillment of each person doing their unique role. It is intercourse I believe that allows a man to fulfill a unique destiny that only he can fulfill and it is that which allows a woman to fulfill a unique destiny only she can fulfill. Naturally, it’s not essential to being a man or a woman though. Our Lord was not married, and he was the greatest man that ever lived, and he also had a very high view of marriage that made his own followers say that it was a difficult view.

The reason we have so many acting out early could be that we don’t have a full view of women or men today. We don’t know what masculinity is and we don’t know what femininity is. With my more Platonic bent, I am one who has a belief that masculinity and femininity are eternal realities. They are not physical but they are expressed in the physical in human beings. The man’s body is designed to show masculinity and the woman’s femininity.

These are both rooted in the nature of God. Man is made male and female in his image. (If this was literal, we’d be talking about a hermaphrodite concept of God.) God most often describes himself in masculine terminology in the Bible, but there are times he uses feminine terminology as well. I believe our Lord was God’s wisdom incarnate, and that wisdom was also described in feminine terms in Proverbs 8.

Thus, sex is sacred because those ideas are in God. We Christians are often accused of treating sex wrongly, and like I said earlier, there’s good basis for that. My contention is that the truth is the opposite. It’s the world that has a cheap view of sex. It’s the Christian that has an exalted view of it. After all, it goes all the way to the nature of God. One can’t get much higher than that.

For the world, it’s often just a pleasurable act. I think of the quote from Dr. Allison Cameron from House, a favorite TV show of mine:

“Sex could kill you. Do you know what the human body goes through when you have sex? Pupils dilate, arteries constrict, core temperature rises, heart races, blood pressure skyrockets, respiration becomes rapid and shallow, the brain fires bursts of electrical impulses from nowhere to nowhere, and secretions spit out of every gland, and the muscles tense and spasm like you’re lifting three times your body weight. It’s violent, it’s ugly and it’s messy, and if God hadn’t made it unbelievably fun, the human race would have died out eons ago.” (from Occam’s Razor)

I think many married couples would agree to the last part.

This is meant to be something fun and pleasurable. God made it that way. He designed the system. He invented all the parts. I marvel when I think of female beauty that God did make that body to be beautiful in the eyes of men like myself and while we do condemn lust, let us make sure that we are not condemning the joy of the handiwork of the creator.

It is pleasure, but it is not just pleasure. It is intimacy and the ultimate trust and also meant to bring about children. Unfortunately, if we treat it as just another fun thing a man and a woman can do together, we cheapen it. I have female friends that I could do many fun things with and enjoy their company, but if it came to having sexual intercourse, that would change everything. If it didn’t, I have a low view of intercourse, a low view of her, or both.

Now if you’re married, I believe you have a right to that intimacy and if you want to have a night of pleasure, then by all means go for it. (I think of someone who recently blogged on this topic who pointed out that his wife taught him how to play strip poker on their honeymoon. It’s pleasure like that that we single guys like to hear about and I think should.)

I also think it’s important that other people know about the pleasure. I’m not saying to go into private details of a sex life, but I’m saying the impression should be given to those of us who are still single and waiting that this is something awesome indeed and very enjoyable and we need to preserve ourselves so it can be as awesome as possible. If all we hear is a negative message, it will be hard to enjoy the thought at times. (And there are couples who have a hard time adjusting to seeing sex as positive after all their lives seeing it as negative. It can cause trouble on a honeymoon.)

In conclusion, what is sex? It’s a gift from above rooted in the nature of God. It is an action that flows out of masculinity and femininity. It is a gift to be enjoyed and too sacred to treat as if it were common and cheap. It is to be celebrated and honored by all because it is the ultimate gift that one person can give to another. It is the gift of themselves.

What Is Love Part Two.

Reader’s note: This is the one I wrote tonight after finding the last one didn’t publish for some reason.

Oddly enough, something went wrong last night and the blog I wrote didn’t get published. I only got that impression this morning when I got up and saw that no one had looked at last night’s blog. I’m thankful though for all the readers that kept coming. If you ever don’t see a new blog in the morning, let me know and I’ll see what I can do.

Today, I’d like to discuss what love is. This won’t be anything exhaustive. What I want to do is give a good and basic look and clear away the big false ideas we have about love in our society today. I highly recommend anyone getting a copy of C.S. Lewis’s “The Four Loves” and see his remarkable thoughts on this. (I also recommend especially the audio, the one book we have a recording of Lewis himself reading.)

Lewis speaks of four loves which the Greeks knew of. We, today, unfortunately have one word. I can say that I love apologetics, I love a lady, I love my friends, I love my family, and I love God, and the same word is used for each. We all know that each of those has a different kind of love to it and it has a different degree of love.

Storge was the kind that referred to simple affection. This is the kind of love you even expect from the stranger on the street. You expect to be treated this way by virtue of being a human being. Phileo refers to the love of friendship and as one who now lives with a roommate, I find out more and more the great joy that is this kind of love. Eros refers to sexual love and, yes, as a single guy this is a kind of love that is on my mind often. Agape referred to divine love and the Christians quickly took this in in order to describe the love of God.

Let’s notice something love is not described as though, even in the great love chapter of 1 Corinthians 13. Love is not described as an emotion. Now someone might immediately object that I have a cold view of love. Not at all. I have a deep view of it. I do not deny that love is capable of producing emotions. (And considering the opposite sex, INDEED IT CAN!) However, love itself is not the emotion. We could say we are experiencing feelings of love, in a sense, to be more accurate.

Emotions tend to be reactionary. Love is not to be reactionary though. It is to be proactive. It is to seek the good in others. Now there are responses of love of course and a situation can come that can bring to mind loving ideas, but it is an action to be done to seek the good of the other simply for the sake of the other. Seeking the good of the lady, for instance, only to get a night of passion and then ditch her in the morning is hardly love.

I believe this is the number one hang-up in the area of love. We reach a point in a relationship where our feelings seem to have dissipated. We wonder then if there is a problem. Are we losing devotion to this person or thing? Could it be many marriages today are divorcing early because the feelings do flow after awhile and the people have decided that the feelings were the love?

I view it as the opposite. You are being called to a deeper love at this stage. It does not mean the feelings are gone for good, as feelings do ebb and flow, but that they are not going to be the basis. The honeymoon is over and now you must plan your life together and you must learn to have love for this person or thing based on the person or thing itself.

Consider what I mentioned earlier of apologetics. There are times I have a deep love for what I do and there are times I think “I’ve gotta drag myself through this book?” Those feelings also ebb and flow I realize due to health concerns of mine, personal stress, my job that I don’t enjoy at this time, financial matters, thoughts of certain ladies in my life, dealing with family and friends, trying to have free recreational time, etc.

Of course, it could also be some apologetics books are just boring and sometimes they’re class work and class work is not usually as fun as work you give yourself to do. (Dear readers, there are times writing a blog is not even the utmost joy in my mind and yet, it seems that I do it every day because I believe it is important.)

However, I see my love in my reactions. I can have a passive attitude towards what I do and I’ll be at work bored and then suddenly turn and look. “Men in white shirts and black pants! Were those Mormons?!” My reactions show where my loyalty lies. “Did I hear someone mention the Bible?” Again, reactions show where the loyalty lies.

I’d ask mothers to consider this an example as well. Imagine changing your baby’s dirty diaper for instance. Were you, at that moment, always filled with great joy and love for that child? Were you filled with great love and joy when you were woke up at 2 A.M. after a tired day and one you had to go to work the next morning early and yet you heard that baby crying?

Yet you do it anyway? Why? Because you do love even when the feeling is not there.

I would contend that if you love someone for the feeling they give you, then you are using that person as a means to your own happiness. I would also contend that we can do the same with God. This is one of my concerns with our experience-driven church. We want so much to have these grand experiences and God is just a way to get to them. One of the greatest joys in your Christian life could be when you get to the point where you serve God even when you don’t have feelings of love for him. C.S. Lewis has written about this as the Law of Undulation in the Screwtape Letters. (Which I have blogged about before.)

If anyone wants to know of personal examples here, I have had mornings where I’ve got up and I’ve even been angry at God. Things haven’t gone well in my life and I don’t understand why it’s happening and why he’s letting me go through it and why he’s still so absent, and yet I get on this computer and see people spreading lies about him and his Word and I can’t stay silent. I don’t say this to brag about myself. I say this simply to give a glimpse into my own life for others to show I understand this. Part of the greatest joy I find in fact is trusting God when trust seems ridiculous and I have nothing to base that trust on except him alone.

If love is not an emotion, it is a commitment. That is also what marriage is. Marriage is the ultimate commitment one person can make to another and it’s a shame that we’re seeing that commitment diminished more and more. The sexual commitment between one man and one woman is truly unique in the nature that it has.

Love is seeking the good of the other for the sake of the other and if anything is an example of this, it is the blessed Trinity. Each person loves the other for the sake of the other and who the other is. This is the kind of love also that we are to show to each other. We are to treat each other as persons and not merely as means to an end. (Yes. That is something Kant got right.)

And maybe this is part of our problem today in society. We have lost sight of what it means to be a person and we have seen each person instead as a tool to our own happiness. Have you sat down recently and thanked God for the persons in your life? Readers might remember the time I blogged about going to bed one night and realizing my roommate’s room was right across from mine and that I had a great person here with me and that is a gift of God. (It brings great joy to ponder that now.)

Now some might think I’ve said little on what love truly is. I probably have simply because it is such a great mystery. One is more apt to speak little than to speak much and risk getting something totally wrong. I pray what I have said so far has been correct. Tomorrow, I plan to look at what sex itself is, which will be the eros portion of love specifically, the only one we’re going to examine in-depth in this look.

What Is Love?

This is going to be talking about love mainly in relation to marriage. Please note that this will not be an exhaustive look at the nature of love. It will be enough though to state my position on the matter. I also do have in mind that the Greeks knew four types of love.

Storge, which would be affection and the kind of love we all expect from everyone, even strangers.

Phileo, which is the love of friends.

Eros, which would be sexual love.

Agape, which the NT quickly took to refer to the love of God.

I believe all four are present in marriage. Storge is the general love that they have for each other as they are now family. Phileo is that each one is now the best friend of the other. Eros is in, well, I think if I have to tell you where eros is you’re better off reading some books on human anatomy and biology first. Agape is the blessing of God on the couple living in submission to him.

A misnomer thrown out right away though is that love is an emotion. Let it be clear that love can produce strong emotions, but love itself is not an emotion. It is much deeper. Love is looking at a person and that includes not just when you have deep emotional feelings. Otherwise, you are simply loving that other person because of the feelings.

Emotions as we have them are reactionary. That means you have an emotion in response to something outside of you. Love is not meant to be reactionary though. It is proactive. It is meant to go on and act regardless of the emotions. The person who loves only when the emotion is there is not in love with the person but in love with love, and if one is loving a person only for the sake of love and not for the sake of the person, then they are using that person.

This also gets us into the idea of cohabitation in marriage. Some couples will say “Well would you drive a car without test driving it?” Well, no. I wouldn’t. However, there is one major difference that is being overlooked that must be pointed out.

People are not cars.

Yeah. I know that’s hard for some people to accept, but they’re not. If you want to use the test drive theory, then let it simply be asked to the couple. This is one question I would love to ask the two of them together and have both of them answer. Which one of the couple is the driver and which one of them is the car? I can imagine the chaos that would result.

It is an insult to either person to say “I will be with you only if you please me sexually.” Now granted there are sometimes biological problems, but these are few and far between. You don’t want to build a habit based on the rarities in the world.

People are to be loved regardless. A woman is meant to sexually please a man and a man a woman, but that is as a person and not as an object. In fact, for the two people truly in love, they should be focusing on the pleasure of the other. Love seeks the good of the other after all. True love will not want to know how the spouse can please them but how they can please the spouse.

So what is love then? It is a true commitment and joy regardless of the emotions at the time. While it can show emotions, it does not rely on the emotions. Instead, it looks at what objectively the other person is instead of at a subjective experience. Again, I do not deny the emotions. They are a good part and enjoyable part, but they are not all and part of our problem in understanding love today is that we’ve confused the emotions love produces at times with the reality itself.

That Means Nothing

A few days ago, I was at work and taking a lady’s check and I noticed that she worked for a pre-natal company. I made a remark about how she must deal with birth a lot in her industry. She asked how I knew and I told her it was on the check. She then asked if I had any kids and I indicated my finger. She didn’t catch on to which I said “I’m unmarried.” She then said, “Oh that means nothing. Many girls come in who are unmarried.”

Ironically, what she said could be the way many approach marriage and sexuality today. When it comes to sexual purity, not having a wedding ring means nothing.

As a single guy, I am one who notices many ladies and I look to see how many of them have rings. If they have wedding rings, I have to say “Off-limits”, no matter how cute they are. (And many times, it is something I have to say regretfully but with thinking that some guy is a lucky guy.) Today though, it is true that many a family can be seen with the parents not having rings. Many a girl can be seen pregnant and not wearing a ring.

This ties in with the post yesterday about homosexual marriage of course. G.K. Chesterton once said the problem is not that Christianity has been tried and found wanting. Instead, it’s been found difficult and left untried. I believe the same is happening for marriage today. Marriage is being found difficult and is being left untried. It’s easier to live together or to just have free sex.

What happens in the end is that we have a society that does not know what marriage is, hence, there is an urge to re-define it. We do not know what sex is any more even, hence we have confused actions with essences. We also do not know what happiness is any more in that we have equated it with satisfying our own desires.

I believe a wedding ring should mean something. Marriage should be treated as holy and sacred especially by the church and it’s time to return to that. I plan to write, and this could even be started tomorrow, more on why I think it is that marriage is failing and place this on such topics of what love is, what sex is, and what happiness is.

Is Homosexual Marriage Good For America?

The story this post is based on is available here:

I renamed it homosexual because I believe the word gay means something specific. It refers to one who is happy. I will not allow the homosexual community to take away the true meaning of the word from me to define themselves. I will call them homosexuals. That is simply what they are. If they want to call me a heterosexual, that is fine. That is what I am.

I’m not going to quote this article entirely, but I will be referencing pieces and I trust the reader can follow along.

Our writer, Jonathan Rauch, says this in the second paragraph on why we should keep homosexual marriage:

To understand why, imagine your life without marriage. Meaning, not merely your life if you didn’t happen to get married. What I am asking you to imagine is life without even the possibility of marriage.

Now let’s be sure on one thing so we’re not playing word games at the start. Historically, marriage has meant one thing. It has meant one man and one woman united together and that has been for the purpose of producing children. I say this because part of the goal in the homosexual community is to redefine marriage and I want us to be on the lookout for having the deck stacked beforehand.

The third paragraph says:

Re-enter your childhood, but imagine your first crush, first kiss, first date and first sexual encounter, all bereft of any hope of marriage as a destination for your feelings. Re-enter your first serious relationship, but think about it knowing that marrying the person is out of the question. (endquote)

Already, we know we’re not dealing with the Christian worldview as we’re told to imagine our first sexual encounter. I would hope most of us who are Christians are practicing chastity until marriage. (Celibacy is the term for the lifelong covenant. Chastity is to be used for those who intend to abstain from sexual intercourse until marriage.)

The reality is that this is simply an emotional appeal. I can in fact look back now on my first crush and realize that there is no chance whatsoever for a relationship. We have to accept that. However, could it be that some relationships shouldn’t happen because they are not proper? If my first crush, for instance, was on a married lady, does that mean to avoid being brokenhearted, I should have been allowed to murder her husband and marry her? (And it wasn’t for those concerned.)

Rauch says that this kind of world will have more sex and less marriage. AIDS is the quilt of this world. However, could it be that the solution is not to re-define marriage but to actually practice marriage? Someone once asked G.K. Chesterton what he thought of civilization. He said he thought it was a great idea and someone should try it sometime.

Sadly, this is where we Christians have failed. Our divorce rate is just as high as the world’s is. We are not really practicing true marriage and if the world wants to look to other practices instead, then we have to take the blame where it belongs. We have been more impacted by the culture than we have been an impact on the culture.

Rauch wants us to remember that marriage isn’t just a contract between two people. That’s true. He’s left something important out though. It’s a contract between a man and a woman. We have to describe marriage the way that it is. If we can re-define marriage, we can make it anything we want to be and it’s valid to ask “Where do we draw the line?”

Later, he has this paragraph:

This is a fantastically fruitful bargain. Marriage makes you, on average, healthier, happier and wealthier. If you are a couple raising kids, marrying is likely to make them healthier, happier and wealthier, too. Marriage is our first and best line of defense against financial, medical and emotional meltdown. It provides domesticity and a safe harbor for sex. It stabilizes communities by formalizing responsibilities and creating kin networks. And its absence can be calamitous, whether in inner cities or gay ghettos. (endquote)

The problem again is that this is equivocation. This is about heterosexual marriage and it does provide those benefits. Please notice that homosexuals don’t naturally have children. If a man and a woman can’t have children due to infertility, it is because of a flaw within the system. A homosexual couple cannot have children because the system itself is entirely flawed.

Does marriage provide a safe harbor for sexual intercourse? (Which is the fruition of sex. What we call gender today is more properly called sex. I have sex already in virtue of being male.) However, this is intercourse between a man and a woman. It provides an outlet for the powerful passions that are produced by sexuality.

Rauch goes on to say:

In 2008, denying gay Americans the opportunity to marry is not only inhumane, it is unsustainable. History has turned a corner: (endquote)

However, he has yet to tell me what is inhumane about it. What is not being allowed? It is already being assumed that these desires are good ones that we should be promoting in our society. Are they though? The proper question in the homosexual marriage debate is not “What will make people happy?” The proper question is “What is moral?” Rauch will have to give the standard by which this is inhumane.

Saying history has turned a corner doesn’t help either. A society says relativism will only hurt the homosexual cause for if society changes and homosexuals are not seen as people, what is to be done then? Proponents of marriage like myself have a love for homosexuals as people while not promoting the act of homosexuality. We base that on objective morality. They bear God’s image as well.

His next paragraph after this goes as follows:

Because parents want happy children, communities want responsible neighbors, employers want productive workers, and governments want smaller welfare caseloads, society has a powerful interest in recognizing and supporting same-sex couples. It will either fold them into marriage or create alternatives to marriage, such as publicly recognized and subsidized cohabitation. Conservatives often say same-sex marriage should be prohibited because it does not exemplify the ideal form of family. They should consider how much less ideal an example gay couples will set by building families and raising children out of wedlock.

The first is simply an argument of pragmatism. I don’t care how pragmatic legalizing homosexual marriage would be. I simply care about “Is it moral?” Now we have considered how much less an ideal homosexual marriages would create. That is why we are against them. The family means one thing and it is not to be redefined to mean something else. We as humans are to discover reality. We are not to create it.

The next point is about the slippery slope. Rauch says that homosexual marriage laws will involve few and modest changes. Modest changes such as totally re-defining what marriage is for all society? Last I checked, that is not a modest change. That is a huge change. Again, I am more interested in the act of homosexuality itself. “Is it moral?” If not, then why should I validate it by calling it marriage?

And actually, the slippery slope is quite valid because it does involve us re-defining what marriage is and what reason is there for not having it be polygamous or between relatives or with something that a group like NAMBLA would be happy with?

So what is the ultimate fallacy in all of this?

Homosexuals are not wanting the same rights. They are wanting different rights. They can marry someone legally of the opposite sex. So can any heterosexual. The homosexual movement wants to change that and the misnomer of love has been used to do that. Love has been reduced to an emotion in our society today. It does involve emotions, but it itself is not an emotion. It is a producer of emotions, but true love is love that is there when the emotion is not.

Also, this is difficult because historically, marriage has not been about love. It has been about children. It has been about the future of society and that is all the state cares about. When a man and a woman come together, the state doesn’t care if they love each other. It cares about whether or not they are going to build a family of children.

Is homosexual marriage good for America? No. What is good for America? When marriage is properly lived and exemplified and for we in the church, that falls largely on our doorstep. Maybe if we started getting things done in our own relationships properly, other people would see the idea and actually pursue it and defend it.

Some Wrapping Up Thoughts On Mormonism

I’m going to go on and wrap up what’s been said about Mormonism here for now. It’s not to say the topic will never be broached again. After the missionary visit later this week, I might write about it again. The blogs don’t come out on any sort of schedule normally. However, I do have some other topics I want to write about and need to write about.

I just write this tonight for the Mormons out there and ask that you really consider what is being said. I don’t expect everything to be believed immediately. I’m fine with that. All I ask is that you consider something. From my worldview, there is how you will spend the afterlife at stake. It is the same for yours as well, although each of our worldview treats it differently. In mine, for instance, it involves spending the rest of one’s life in what would be called in Mormonism “Outer darkness.”

This is about truth. If Joseph Smith was a prophet, I agree that it is important and we should all listen to him. If, however, I am right and he wasn’t a prophet, then what does that mean to say “God has said” when God has not said? What does it mean to have Scripture that claims to be inspired of God if God did not inspire it? What about works like the D&C which claim to have revelations from God if they were not revelations of him?

What does it mean to say God was once a man and attained Godhood if he did not? What does it mean to say Jesus is the spirit brother of Lucifer if he is not? What does it mean to say that we are saved by grace through faith after all we can do (2 Nephi 25:23) if the truth is that we are saved by grace through faith alone?

It’s a very serious charge.

Why do I believe what I believe? Because I see archaeological findings in the Middle East confirm Scripture again and again. I see the Bible is entirely consistent with itself. I see that we have more manuscripts of the NT closer to the time period than any other ancient document. I see a theological and a philosophical worldview that is sturdy, has explanatory power, and that when the teachings of Christ are applied, they do work.

However, when I approach Mormonism, I have no reason to believe the first vision, I find the golden plates account suspicious especially after events like the Kinderhook Plates and the Salamander Letters and the Book of Abraham papyri being shown to be of the Book of the Dead. I find the BOM contradicts Scripture as well as Mormon doctrine. I find that there is no archaeological evidence for Mormonism. I find that the entire theological and philosophical framework behind the view is a disaster.

I am given in exchange, a feeling.

Now I can make a decision on what worldview I will believe based on my mind or on my feelings. Jeremiah 17:9 warns me about how deceptive the heart is. I am told though to test all things in 1 Thess. 5:21. I find Scripture passes the test and so does orthodox Christianity then. I find no reason though to believe that Mormonism passes the test.

Mormon friend. Do consider this greatly. Read both sides by all means. I have no problem with doing that. I ask that you base what you are doing on more than a feeling though. Base it on truth.

Dealing With Mormons: Things To Remember

We’ve been talking about Mormonism a lot lately. While knowing the facts is important, there are some basic reminders that people should keep in mind when witnessing to Mormons, especially the Mormon missionaries that come to your door.

First, don’t slam the door in their face or tell them they’re in a cult. Honestly, do you really think that’d work for you? Now let’s suppose you’re in a hurry though and do have to be somewhere else, and I mean you have to be there. Be courteous. Just say, “I’m sorry. I really can’t right now. I have to be somewhere else. Can you come back another time?” If you can give a time, that’s even better.

Second, if you don’t know an answer to a question, admit it. Just say “That’s a good question. Let me do some looking in on that.” Such an answer will be respected and will show the Mormon that you actually do care about truth. By all means then, head to your library. Be able to read the Mormon thought and the Christian thought.

Third, move away from feelings. The Mormon evangelism tactic places a lot of emphasis on feelings. You want the Mormon to instead start looking at the facts about the BOM. These include such things as contradictions to Mormon doctrine as well as the lack of archaeological evidence to back the BOM. Be prepared for a fallback to “I have a testimony of the Holy Ghost” and be ready to counter it.

Fourth, make absolutely sure you know your own Bible. If you do not know your Bible and you are one that is prone to emotional experiences, you are fresh meat for conversion to Mormonism. You need to know as much Scripture as possible, the way to apply that Scripture, and you need to know orthodox Christian doctrine like the doctrine of the atonement and the doctrine of the Trinity.

Fifth, if you can, make sure you know their own doctrine as well. I don’t meet Mormons often who know, for instance, about the King Follett Discourse and the doctrine of eternal progression. Make sure you know Mormon history. Make sure you know about polygamy and blacks not holding the priesthood and Danites and the Mountain Meadows Massacre. (If some of you want to know what I mean by those, then that’s a sign that you need to do some checking.)

Sixth, be friendly always. The Mormons I know are really great people and we genuinely like them. I would love it if they could interrupt their mission to hang out with us playing a video game or watching a movie. When they come, offer whatever you can. If you live in a hot area for instance, get something to drink for them. Try and get something to eat as well. This is especially good to do on holidays when they are away from their family and can’t speak to them.

Seventh, remember that Christ must be exalted above all. It’s very tempting to see this as simply winning arguments. Winning the argument is important of course, but you must do what you can to win the soul. If you are working with them, you’re going to be in for the long haul. You’re asking someone to change their entire way of thinking and it won’t be easy.

Evangelism is important, but it’s also something that’s incredibly enjoyable and rewarding. Evangelism for others will not only help them, but will also strengthen you in your worldview. If you get caught in the adventure, God bless you on your journey. Be sure to pray for the missionaries and yourself as you witness to them. If anyone has seen a conversion, let me know also. I’d love to hear about it.