Sexual Ethics Foundation: The Single Life

What does the Bible say about you sexually if you’re not married? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

A friend suggested that sometime after a series on sexual ethics, I should do something on the single life. I figure why wait until the end because even if single Christians are not to have sex, that does not mean that they don’t have sexual ethics to follow. As he said, I have spent most of my life single so maybe I have some things to say about my prior state.

So let’s clear up something right at the start.

As long as you’re single, one rule is clear. No sex.

Now there are some people who are single because they just don’t honestly want to get married. Some have never married and they’re just fine with staying that way. If you’re one of those people, God bless you. We need to realize that the life of Jesus really changed the world and one aspect that it did was it made the single life a viable lifestyle.

In the church, we can be too quick to look down on those who are single as if they are incomplete somehow and think that we have to find just the right person for them. Now if someone wants to get married, this can be well and good and highly appreciated. Many a marriage starts by one person introducing two people to each other. In essence, that’s how my marriage started.

We dare not look at single people as if they are lesser people. They could just have a different calling in this life and they think that if they are married, that might slow them down in their service of the kingdom. Maybe they just don’t have a lot of sexual desire and they look at something like sex and think “Yeah. It’d be nice, but it’s no big deal.”

If these people are willing to accept the rule of “No sex”, then let us encourage them.

On the other hand, some people want to get married. These are people who do happen to have strong sexual desire. When I was single living with a roommate, he did know that I was a guy who was very interested in getting married someday. Of course, there will be more on that later, but it was something I thought about often. There’s no doubt for me that lack of a spouse was indeed a lack in my life that needed to be filled.

If you are someone who does want to get married, then by all means go out and search for a spouse but until you find one, no sex. That’s the rule for the Christian life. Of course, how that will work about as you are dating is something that we will discuss later, but in the meantime, what are you to do?

If you are to follow the path of no sex, you are to be consistent and avoid lust. A definite sign that you are engaging in lust is the practice of viewing pornography. That’s a negative for the Christian. To view pornography is to treat the opposite sex as if they are an object meant to satisfy your desires alone. One of the beauties of sex in marriage is to realize both persons are there to satisfy the desires of the other person. If each person seeks to please the other, both will be happy.

It also definitely means respecting the opposite sex. By all means have friends of the opposite sex, but don’t date. Dating is for people who plan to marry. If you don’t plan to marry, then it is just dishonest to someone of the opposite sex to date them.

Until you get married, learn to be happy where you are and make the most of it. I am happy to be married now, but I wish I had done more with my single life. Marriage does require something of you. The person who is single does in some ways tend to have more time and I wish I’d made more of it looking back.

A difficult step to follow, at least for me it was, is to try to not be jealous of your friends who are getting married. This was a difficult one for me as I watched my friends around me get married when I first lived in Knoxville and wondered “When will it be my turn? Why am I being left behind?” Ironically while in Charlotte, in my circle of friends, I was the first to get married, and in fact out of my circle of friends there, I’m the only one still to be married. None of the others have said the “I do” yet, and I’ve made it a point to not really press them on it. If they want it, they’ll go for it when they’re ready. If not, then that’s their choice and I respect that. If any of them want to talk to me about married life, I’m more than happy to do that. In fact, it’s something that I quite love to talk about.

When you see your friends getting then, try to be happy for them. I liked that at our wedding, my best man I am sure was genuinely happy and might I add, gave the best toast that I have ever heard given at a wedding ceremony. I think Allie quickly became part of the inner circle by them and we would often have good discussion times. She did enjoy watching them come over and seeing us do something like Super Smash Brothers Brawl together or watching the final season of Smallville. Celebrate your married friends and realize that they still want to be friends with you, but their first priority is still going to be to their wives.

I used to get together on Sunday nights with some friends in Charlotte and play on the Wii and then do something like bowling together. Allie understood that it was a guy thing then, but if she really needed me, she gave me a call and I came straight home if need be. My other friends understood that.

Of course, you should also realize that there are times when your married friends don’t want to be disturbed. That’s okay also.

So as long as you’re single, with your mind and heart, honor the people of the opposite sex in your life. Avoid pornography and if you plan to get married, good for you. If you plan to stay single, good for you also. Live the proper life in each path and seek to serve God to the fullest with wherever you are right now.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 8/31/2013: Jonathan Pennington

What’s coming up Saturday on the Deeper Waters Podcast? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Many of us who read the Bible tend to avoid the gospels. Yeah. They’re about Jesus. There’s a lot we appreciate. We like to read the great miracle stories and events like that, but we just don’t really understand a lot of the gospels, well aside from the main events of Jesus’s life and oh yeah, He’s God.

What we tend to jump straight to immediately are the Pauline epistles. We want to know what Paul said because that is where most of our doctrine comes from. That’s where we get the most about justification by faith, for instance. That is where we learn about the life of the church. The gospels are often seen as the snacks that prepare us for the main course of Paul. The gospels give us the life. Paul gives us the difference.

On the show this Saturday, my guest, Jonathan Pennington, thinks we’re missing a great deal of what the gospels have to say to us and that is because we do not know how we are to read them properly. Jonathan Pennington is the author of “Reading the Gospels Wisely” and he’ll be on my show to tell us just how it is that we’re supposed to do that.

What are the gospels? What is their purpose? Is it more than just the life of Jesus and showing His deity? Why does Jesus speak so much about the Kingdom of God, a concept that seems to be hardly ever spoken of in our churches today? What difference does the background material that the gospels was written in make? In fact, most churches today are unfamiliar that there is background material. Jesus just came to a world like theirs, except not as technologically advanced. People thought just the exact same way after all.

If that’s a false belief though, we are not reading the gospels wisely. Are we missing out on a real meal in the gospels if we think that Paul has the full deal for us? This is not to undermine Paul, but in our valuing of Paul, let us remember that Paul did what He did because of what happened in the gospels and if we want to be people who value the epistles, we have to be people who value the gospels.

So we’ll be discussing how it is the gospels were written, what methods we should use when reading them. More importantly perhaps, what methods should we not be using when reading them. Why were they written and what is is that the gospel writers really want us to get out of the messages?

I hope you’ll be planning to join me on the show this Saturday from 3-5 PM EST to discuss “Reading the Gospels Wisely” with Jonathan Pennington. The link can be found here. The call in number if you want to ask Dr. Pennnington a question is 714-242-5180. I look forward to this show and I hope you’ll be there to appreciate the wisdom of Dr. Pennington as well.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Sexual Ethics Foundation: Women

Does a woman truly view sexuality different from a man? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Obviously, this account will not be a firsthand perspective.

I have made it a point to try to understand how women think. I have done this largely due to several years of seeing guys with their girlfriends at various places, such as when I worked at an arcade, and noticing mistakes in relationships. I have made it a point to learn from other marriages around me and to really listen. Some women who have been married and are married are some of my closest friends and we’ve had numerous conversations about their own thought lives and my approach and treatment of women.

I also will say that while I hope I do a good job, I am in no way a master of this. I am seeking to learn more and more how to respond better to the opposite sex, most importantly my own Allie, who I seek to love so she can be the best she can be. I take the statement “As Christ loved the Church” very seriously.

If I am wrong in any of this, I do welcome correction from women. I am sure that I will not have everything down perfectly, but I hope I get a general idea and that it will also help my fellow men know the better way that we can approach women.

I wrote yesterday that generally a man can consider sex an end in itself. This doesn’t mean he doesn’t see other benefits. He can enjoy the acceptance, affirmation, intimacy, etc. as well as the great physical pleasures, but for him the physical pleasure can be one of the greatest drives.

Of course, a woman is designed to enjoy sexuality. This is in fact why women have a clitoris. It is the way that they can enjoy the physical sensations of sexuality. Yet the woman’s appetite is not normally as strong as the man’s. I happen to like the statement I’ve seen of a marriage counselor in a video saying (paraphrased)”Some of you men are married to women who love sex. They can’t get enough of it. They want it constantly. I think I speak on behalf of all men here when I say ‘We hate you’.”

In today’s society, a woman often feels a lot of pressure to look and be her best. Now to be fair, there’s nothing wrong with a woman wanting to have a good appearance. She should want that. There’s something wrong with a woman putting all her identity in her appearance. I think the Dove commercial with the artist doing a sketch of women and then having a neutral observer describe the same woman is quite revealing in this regard.

A woman just as much as a man seeks to be affirmed in her beauty. If I was asked what the chief marker of a woman is, it is beauty. Everything about her is to radiate beauty from her inner character to her outward appearance. It is the focus on the outward alone that really damages women. God created women to be the representation of his beauty on Earth. The union of strength in men and beauty in women will be strong and beautiful both.

What a woman seeks to know in sexuality is if she’s beautiful or not. She wants to feel the security and acceptance of someone else. It’s not the physical sensation so much as it is the relational connection. She wants to know that she is in right relationship with a man.

Naturally, we men who aren’t as relationship oriented as women are have a hard time understanding that.

This is also why a woman can take longer to be in the mood for sex. A woman needs to fill love and have that love brimming up inside of her until she can’t take it and has to fully express it. This is also why some women have to work to do things to get set to be in the mood if they want to please their husbands that evening. I know of one woman, for instance, who on the days she planned on romancing her husband wrote T.S. on the calendar for “Think Sex.”

Note to men then. Because she is not as ready to leap at the possibility of sex as you are, it does not mean she does not love you or does not care about you. It just means that she’s wired differently and it could be that you have to try harder. Note that she wants to know you truly care about her and are interested in her and not that she’s just an object for your sexual pleasure.

Today, many women give sex in order to get love. It is the idea that if they sleep with the man, he will come to love them. He could. He might not. My thinking is such women are already treating themselves as object saying that the only way they can be loved is sexually. If they are not desired sexually, then they are not lovable and they need to know they are desired sexually.

In fact, if a man is just interested in pleasure, then he could be with you just because he sees you as easy pleasure. You want to know a man who truly cares about you? Look at the man who is willing to put everything on hold for you, who is willing to walk down that aisle with you, and who then says “Only after I have made that covenant with you will I enjoy the fruit of the garden.”

This is not to say that this happens with every couple that doesn’t wait. Some can be very loving and no doubt are. Do I still think it’s a mistake to not wait. Definitely, and I will be writing more on that later. It also doesn’t mean that even Christian couples who make a mistake are doomed to an unloving marriage. They’re not. What it does mean is that I’m convinced you’re putting up a barrier for your future.

For women, sex begins at breakfast. What does that mean? It means a man cannot do nothing all day, come home, have his wife bring him dinner while he sits and watches TV, and then give her a wink as he prepares to go to the bedroom thinking that she’ll be all gung-ho to be with him.

A man who wants a romantic evening had better be living a romantic lifestyle.

This is also why I recommend a couple getting set for marriage or already married go through a book like “The Five Love Languages.” By knowing your spouse’s love language, you can better know how to speak to them which will lead to more sex. More sex leads to more intimacy and more love. It then becomes a beautiful spiral that grows and grows.

My love languages for instance are words of affirmation and physical touch. Allie’s are gifts. One of the benefits of the book and learning it is that you realize you have to speak another language. If I get Allie a gift, it speaks far more than a word of affirmation or physical touch would. Note that this does not mean I have to buy a gift. Allie has been quite happy with me drawing a picture for her. (She studies art with a teacher on Wednesday nights, but the teacher has me learning some too. Allie thinks I have a natural talent.) On the other hand, Allie can get me great gifts and I really appreciate them, but speaking my languages is what really speaks to me. Thus, if I’m at the store, I can see if I can find something, even a small thing, I can get Allie. If we’re driving together, Allie knows she can reach over and put her hand on my leg and I immediately feel the love.

So women, I hope that I have done so far a noble attempt to try to understand where you are coming from in discussing this issue and I hope I have set a point for women who are not yet married, a point I wish to expound on later on. Please remember as much as you want to be understood, and that is a good thing, your man will also want the same thing. I honestly encourage couples to have real candid talks on sexuality and what each of them expects from the other. For couples about to get married (Advice to you is coming later), I suggest that in pre-marital counseling, you talk about this together. If you’re not married, don’t talk about it in person. Talk can too easily lead to action.

And men, keep this in mind with your women. If you want to enjoy a healthy harvest, you have to cultivate your garden very well. If you want sex, and we all do, then that means you have to treat your women well. I have often said that biblically, I think a man should lead. A man is the king of his castle. If that is the case, then that means the woman gets treated like a queen. She is not a servant.

Protect her. Cherish her. Let her know that she’s loved every single day. Set aside time for her regularly. Realize when you’re married that this woman has done something incredible. She has said she loves you enough that she wants to spend the rest of her life with you. She’s willing to put up with all of your obnoxious behavior. (This goes for me as well. I’m sure there are times Allie sees some of my crazy behavior and thinks to herself “What in the world did I get myself into?”)

The reality is both the man and woman have to learn from one another. There are times I have some insomnia and to calm my mind down, I read Philippians. I’d like my readers to consider the first four verses of chapter 2.

“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, 2 then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

In reading this last time I thought “This is the way all marriages should be.” Indeed it is. Imagine if we all in marriage strove to be of one mind, to do nothing for ourselves, to seek the interest of the other person, etc. Imagine if our marriages could indeed be a little example of the relationship of Christ and the church. (And wouldn’t you know it, Paul has that same idea in Ephesians 5)

Men need to realize that women are a treasure. We men should all be thankful we found someone who loves us. Women can realize the same thing. They’ve found someone who loves them and that is something indeed worth celebrating. By seeking to build up one another, you can make things better and better. It could be that in fact the more you love one another, your spouse will also do those loving things so you’ll get your own needs met. Suppose they don’t? Oh well. You’re still doing what you’re supposed to be doing.

Well that’s our foundation for how men and women perceive matters differently. Again, I welcome the comments from women on this. I hope with this kind of foundation laid, we can get into some ethical reasons for why Christians believe we should behave the way we do.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Sexual Ethics Foundation: Men

How do men handle issues of sexual ethics? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

I’ve been asked to write a foundation series on sexual ethics and since I think I’ve already established that we need to have this conversation, I’m going to write first off on the part that’s much easier for me, writing about how a man thinks about the issue of sex.

I am sure it’s no surprise to women out there to know that men like sex and we think about it constantly. Now it’s not true that that’s all that we think about (We do sleep sometimes after all), but it certainly is always ready to be brought to the forefront of the mind.

The average wife tends to think that her husband has such a dirty mind. I dare say that if women knew the way men were really thinking a lot of the times, they’d be even more disgusted with us than they already are. If many women who are dressing sleazy in order to impress men knew what went on in a man’s mind, they would probably be more prone to dress like women in Islamic countries.

In the debate on homosexuality, I am surprised so often to hear about the need to fill a natural desire. If we men did that, we’d be starting a polygamous marriage or adulterous affair the day after our wedding. We have to make it a constant battle in order to avoid thinking about other women in our minds when we’re married or dating.

The first movie Allie and I saw while dating was Couple’s Retreat. It was certainly a funny movie and given to us as a gift later as a reminder of the first movie we saw together, but even then when it came to women in bikinis on the big screen, I was looking away. Why? Because I knew darn well the way my mind worked and that I can have that panorama of images in my head.

This is one reason that pornography is such a big draw for a man. A man can just have an image in his head and frankly, it’s a lazy way to meet a woman. Pornography requires nothing of the man. He does not have to be a man to experience sexual release at the sight of pornography. He just has to have the right equipment to do so. There is no challenge on his character or call for him to better himself. When such a man meets a real woman, he will not know what to do with her.

This is something we in the church need to be aware of. Please note that I am not saying that the desire for the man to have sex is a wrong desire. Heck no it’s not wrong! What I am saying is that it is a desire that, like any other desire, needs to be controlled. Handled properly, it will be a great benefit to a man. Handled improperly, and it can lead to his destruction.

Men are also very much ready to go for sex at a moment’s notice. Men are like microwaves and women are like ovens. Of course, there are times that are exceptions and there are people that are exceptions, but generally, a man does not take much to get in the mood and to be ready to go.

Men also tend to view sex as an end in itself. While women want it generally as a means to something else, for men, the sex itself is the goal. Sexuality for a man is one of the strongest shapers of who that man really is.

How does this work with marriage? Sex is a major reason why men get married. When men marry, it is not because they want someone to have intellectual discussions with. It is not because they want someone to play games with or watch TV and movies with. Their guy friends can often do that just fine. They want something different. They want what only the woman can give them, and that is sex.

Having said that, the man in marriage must avoid this temptation. He must avoid the treating of his wife as just a sex object. This is often thought about with the joke that a man is doing his taxes and filing his wife under the category of “entertainment expenses.” Of course, a man should enjoy the sexual company of his wife, but realize that she is much more than that.

Biblically, I think God set up the system this way because the only way the man would be drawn to the woman was for sex. Men don’t really need someone around for security usually. We’re normally stronger and better able to care for ourselves. We also tend to look out for #1 and there’s no reason why we’d want to just take on someone who we would have to look out for.

That’s why God gave us men a great incentive to be with the woman. If you give the woman love, you get to experience the fruit of that love. An analogy we could think of is with gardening. If a man tends to his garden rightly, when the harvest comes, he can enjoy its choice fruits. In fact, this is the same kind of language that we find used in Song of Songs.

As a man learns to love his wife then (Since marriage based on love is really a new phenomenon) he will find that he does in fact love her. Many of us know the paradox that if we wait until we feel like doing something, then we will never do that something. Want to lose weight? Don’t wait until you feel like exercising. You’ll never do it. Just start exercising.

This sexuality is an integral part of the man. This is the best way that a wife can build up her husband. Those of you who have embraced the five love languages, and I recommend that you do if you haven’t, should realize that for every man, there is a sixth love language. Some might think the language of physical touch means sex. It doesn’t. Sex definitely involves physical touch, but physical touch means much more than that, such as the holding of a hand, the patting of a leg, the caressing of a back, etc. Bottom line women is that if you want to empower your husbands, this is the number one way to do it. Sexuality gives the man the affirmation and knowledge that he is indeed the man. After all, a guy will do most any crazy, stupid thing you can imagine just to hear some one guy shout out “You the man!”

What of men who don’t get married? The biblical model is quite simple. If you want sex, then you get married. If you don’t get married, then you are to be chaste your whole life. I do plan on writing more on this later, but the man who plans to be single must be prepared biblically to accept that fate.

For those who do, we must not look down on them. Christianity did something radical in that it made singleness an honorable position to hold. Anyone who disagrees should realize that our Lord was single in his earthly sojourn and we would not look down on Him. If you choose to be single, just make sure that the energy you would have given to marriage that you give to the service of the Kingdom.

For men who are planning to get married, you are called to wait until you have said the “I dos” before you can have sex. Doing this is the best way to honor the woman that you love and you can go with the confidence that after you get married, they’ll be plenty of time to catch up on any time you might think you’ve “missed” in the dating period.

What women need to do is realize what an integral part of the man this is and act accordingly. A woman should make herself desirable, but she should also until she’s married leave some mystery to her. Let it be that the man earns her trust and love. Do not downplay his sexuality. Instead, try to make the most of it. Realize that this is just the way that God made men. God made us to have a strong drive so that we would use that drive to honor you all the more.

Men are to always be loving and honoring of their women. Do not make that love conditional on the sex. After all, most of us would want our women to be there and loving us for the sake of loving us and not sleeping with us just so that we will love them or we have guilted them. It should be our hopes that our women will want us for us. In a marriage, I think it’s fine for sex to be an incentive or reward or gift, but it should not be used as a weapon.

Remember men, we are called to love our wives as Christ loved the church, and if such a thought does not make you nervous, then there is something that is wrong with you. It is a remarkable calling and one you should seek to strive towards every day. Do you think Christ would use the church as an object for His pleasure? Or, do you think rather that Christ seeks to honor the church and build her up so he can present her without fault and blemish, you know, the very words Paul himself uses here.

Well that’s about it for men. I hope next time to discuss this subject in relation to women, something much more difficult, but that is going to be tried.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Keener’s Historical Jesus

Who does Keener say the Jesus of the gospels is? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

The Historical Jesus of the Gospels by Craig Keener is a massive work showing Keener’s highly impressive scholarship in the area of Historical Jesus studies. As with many of the books, the bibliography, indexes, etc. are about as massive as the book itself. In this case, I’d say about half the book is the last half listing all of these numerous references. If there’s one thing Keener cannot be accused of, it is not doing sufficient research.

Keener starts with a brief history of NT scholarship on the historical Jesus and then moves to modern ideas, dispensing at the start with one of the easiest to deal with, the idea of Jesus as a cynic sage. Keener deals with issues such as the life of peasants, the nature of the cynics, and the Greek problem. No stone is left unturned for Keener.

Keener moves on then to talk about the relationship of Jesus to Judaism, which is where the third quest has landed us. I, for one, anticipate a fourth quest soon that will look at the social context even more of Jesus and see how he fits into an agonistic society.

From there, he deals with the objection of other gospels and why it is that the four canonical gospels that we have are in fact the best sources for information about the life of Jesus. As you can tell, Keener has made it a point to deal with common objections today. In fact, if you are familiar with internet debates on Jesus, the ideas that others consider so powerful in refuting Christianity, Keener deals with in just a paragraph or a footnote with the idea of “This idea is so far out there it’s not even worth serious time.”

Next, we deal with the nature of the Gospels and in this case, Acts as well since Luke and Acts are seen as one volume. Keener lists the Gospels as Greco-Roman biographies with the possible exception of Luke which would be more historiography. Even if one says that, I would still contend there are Greco-Roman biographical tendencies within the work of Luke. The position of the gospels as Greco-Roman biographies is held by the majority of scholars today and is in fact growing. This further gives us evidence to treat the Gospels as serious historical works.

Keener also deals with the nature of them then by explaining how they would show their sources, which is not by modern styles today, and also how they would be read as works of rhetorical writing. This is not to say they’re all just word games, but rather they were written in a style to engage their reading audience and their listening audience since more people would hear the gospels rather than read them.

Speaking of the oral factor, Keener does deal with how oral tradition would be spread and why we should trust its reliability in the case of the NT. This is an important aspect for scholars and apologists both to grasp since in our world more modern analogies are drawn to ancient events when such comparisons really don’t fit.

At last comes the heart of the matter with the discussion of who Jesus was. The heart of this I leave to the reader who wants to find out more, but the reader will find the teaching of the Kingdom, how Jesus interacted with others, and Jesus as prophet, teacher, Messiah, and perhaps, something more.

The main body of the work concludes with a look at the historical events surrounding the death of Jesus and his resurrection, although there will not be a full apologetic for the resurrection. That has been written elsewhere.

After this main body, there are a number of appendices that deal with issues not fully argued for in the main text itself. These will provide helpful insight to the reader who wishes Keener had been fuller on some topics. (Whoever such people might be. It’s hard to imagine what more he could have said)

The only possible downside I can think of is that Keener does give a bit of how he came to Christianity by examining the arguments and hints about an experience that led to him becoming a Christian and abandoning atheism. This is all well and good, but my fear is that too many atheists would get to this part and say “Ah! Now I have a reason to just dismiss everything!” Of course, this would be fallacious to do as the arguments stand on their own independently of why one holds them, but I do see it as a possible reason some will give for discounting Keener’s work.

This book is definitely a must-read. If someone was wanting to start historical Jesus studies, it would be harder to think of a reason why a work like this would not be listed as essential reading.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Sexual Ethics Foundation: Can We Talk?

Is it really necessary for the church to discuss sexual ethics? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Recently, I wrote a follow-up to a post on stating the value of a woman and where her self-worth comes from. A friend who was pleased with what I wrote noted that at the end I had said we need a foundation for sexual ethics in the church and asked me if I’d ever considered writing one up. Naturally, this won’t all be done on one post, but I think it’s a noble idea that needs to be done.

I wish to start simply by saying “Should we talk about this?” I am reminded of the joke about a minister who said that he was told two things about sex growing up.

#1. It’s dirty.

#2. I should save it for someone I love.

We laugh, but many of us know the situation. Sexuality has always been a taboo subject. It is treated as if it is a private matter. Now in some ways, it is a private matter. You’re not going to have your friends come over and watch you and your spouse in the bedroom and offer you their advice for instance. There is no doubt there is a private dimension to sex.

But there is also a public dimension. In fact, it is a public dimension. You see the effects of sex every day. How? Every single person you meet, including the person that you see in the mirror every day, is there because two people at one time had sex. (Although granted, with in vitro fertilization we are starting to get to where we have to qualify this.)

The effects of that one union are long lasting. How old are you right now? That’s how long the effects are lasting from the encounter that your parents had. In fact, that encounter is a result of prior encounters before you ever came along. While it is not necessary for any one life that a person has sex, it is necessary for the species as a whole that sex take place. (Although again, with modern techniques, it is possible to avoid sex, though as a good friend of mine has said, this new way to get pregnant is probably not nearly as much fun as the traditional way.)

This is also public in that we all know today that sex sells. Children are learning younger and younger about matters that most of us wouldn’t have learned about in the past until we were teenagers. In the past, if you watched a movie, you’d see a man and woman go into a room, the door would close and you’d hear a click. You knew what was going on. No one needed to tell you.

Today, we have to have a total scene showing practically everything that goes on in the bedroom.

Pornography is rampant and with the internet, it has only become more problematic. Children younger and younger, not even hitting puberty yet, are getting a skewed view of sex before they even really know what is going on.

Well that’s the world! Surely that’s not the church!

Think again.

It has been said that 1 in 3 men in the church are struggling with pornography. This can even include ministers. I listened yesterday to a man in a church giving a marriage seminar where he stated that he knows ministers who have to keep a dirty magazine out when they’re making love to their wives so that they’re able to perform.

Wouldn’t that make you feel loved ladies?

It is also not uncommon to hear about sex scandals in churches. Of course, we hear it when major figures take a fall, but let’s remember not so major figures take falls also. I have no doubt several people reading this blog have seen accounts of affairs taking place in a church and this can often divide the church.

Houston. We have a problem.

What has been the response of the church? Sadly, the same approach we take to claims of our youth apostasizing when they get to college.

“Let’s just ignore it and hope it goes away. We don’t want to talk about that.”

If we don’t give a message on sex to our youth, we can rest assured the world will give them a message and it is a message we do not want them to receive.

So yes, this is an issue we need to talk about. We need to deal with this and we need to watch the way we’re handling it. I think many of the messages we’re sending out are way to shallow to work. We don’t want to give a “just because.” We want people to have sex as properly understood in their worldview.

Our blog will be back on Monday and unless I have a book review or some other news going on, I plan on posting on that topic.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 8/24/2013: Andrew Pitts

Was that NT book really authored by the person whose name is on it? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Last year, Bart Ehrman delivered another work to shock the popular audience out there that the church has not been equipping with a book called “Forged.” In it, Ehrman sought to show that a number of NT books are not by the person’s whose name is on them. The arguments he made were arguments already familiar to NT scholarship and he hardly interacted with the secretary hypothesis, but still, the splash was made and while many people read the side that makes the news, they don’t bother going out to hear what the other side is.

My guest on the Deeper Waters Podcast is not like that.

My guest is Andrew Pitts who has done extensive research on this topic. He is an up and coming scholar in the field and expect to hear much more from him later. While he has a number of areas of expertise to speak on, the one that we have chosen to do is to address the charge that the biblical accounts are forgeries.

Of course, there is something at stake here. To say the Bible contains forgeries would be to say that the early church fell prey to lying and deceivers and did not do their fact checking very well. While a case for the resurrection could be made on the books of the NT that are not disputed, it still is important to quell doubt in the minds of those who might think that Ehrman has a case.

We will be discussing how we can know who wrote what in the NT and for that matter, how can we know who wrote what in the ancient world. After all, while we are usually told that the gospels are anonymous, what is not mentioned is so were many other works in the ancient world just as anonymous. How is it that we know, for instance, that Plutarch was the one who wrote the books that are attributed to him?

What about secretaries? Those do make a difference and this gets problematic for the presentation of Ehrman since books that are undisputed to be Pauline are in fact written by a secretary, such as Romans. If a secretary wrote a book for an author, what does that do to authorship? We could even discuss how this would work with the inerrancy and infallibility questions risen by such a situation.

In the end, I hope that the show will leave people assured that they have yet another reason that they can trust the NT and that it is accurate even on the question of authorship.

Do you want to be a part of the discussion? I certainly hope that you will be! The show is on at the same time as always, Saturday from 3-5 PM EST. If you want to call in and ask a question about NT authorship, the call in number is 714-242-5180. I hope I will see you there. The link can be found here.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Why I Don’t Debate Some Issues

Is it important for the apologist to be able to answer everything? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

We who are in the field of apologetics often use 1 Peter 3:15 (incorrectly in my opinion) and the verse tells us to always be ready to give an answer. The danger is that we think that it is important for us to be able to answer every question. It’s not.

You mean there are some objections to what you believe that you don’t bother answering? That’s right.

How is that possible?

It is possible because I realize that I am one person and I am not capable of being a specialist in every field and when you step out into fields that you do not study well, you will be devoured by those who do study them well.

It is because of this that I have decided to put my focus on what I consider the most important issues of all. A great danger I have seen in Christianity today is too often we are marrying our Christianity to aspects that it does not depend on.

What do I mean by that? Well if you enter into a marriage, it’s till death do you part. You are not to break that covenant under any circumstances whatsoever barring extreme situations. (Yes. I do think there are cases where divorce can sadly be the best option) You enter into a relationship where the two of you are bound together so that if one falls, the other falls as well.

Recently on the Unbelievable broadcast, there was a debate on the age of the Earth and the young-earther was asked the question of what difference this makes. If you were to find out that the Earth was old, what would that do to your faith?

I was disappointed. The young-earther never really answered the question but gave the viewpoint that if you can’t trust Genesis, then you can’t really trust the rest of the Bible which in turn I take it to mean, you can’t even trust the resurrection.

The reality is that most Christians be they young-earth, old-earth, theistic evolutionists, etc. will say that they trust Genesis. What do they not trust? They do not trust an interpretation of Genesis that they believe to be in error.

The great danger in this is that if YEC falls, then that means automatically that Christianity falls for some people. I would not want that to be the case either for OEC or for TE. If you are wrong on creation, well you are wrong on creation. It does not mean that your interpretation is equal to what Scripture says or that everything in Scripture is wrong.

A sad part of this to me is that we Christians are meant to be people of the new creation. Does that mean old creation does not matter? Not at all! By all means, have an opinion! Have a strong opinion! Just always remember that your doctrine of creation is not the foundation of your faith. When Gentiles were being preached to in the NT, it is doubtful that the first people to evangelize them came out and started with Genesis 1. They likely started with Jesus Himself.

In fact, this is why I don’t even bother debating evolution any more. Does that mean I’m TE? Not at all. Does that mean I oppose TE? Not that either. It means simply that I don’t really care. It’s an interesting topic, but I really don’t have the time to focus in on it and do the study to answer the questions as I am busy studying other areas.

To use an analogy, sometimes, someone will send me one of those items that shows how big and massive the universe is in comparison to us. You’ve seen some like that I’m sure. I find it utterly fascinating. There are many things about space that I probably become a little boy again at and just get thrilled, but I don’t really have the time to go out and do the reading on the topic. It’s interesting when I see it, but then I need to get back to my main focus and if you asked me for my opinion on astronomical matters, I might be able to give one, but the most I’d say is that it just looks interesting.

Now suppose on the other hand that you are qualified in the field and can discuss matters such as evolution and you think this gives you an opening to spread the gospel? I’m not going to stop you. If you’re convinced and you think you can make a case, who am I to say no? I just won’t be the one joining you on your side of the debate because I do not know the issue.

It is also why I do not sign up immediately on the ID bandwagon now. In fact, as a Thomist, I do have some concerns with it. Still, if someone thinks they can make the case, let them. I’m not intending to stop them.

I have instead focused my efforts mainly on the question of resurrection. If that is true, then Christianity is true. Could I still have some questions I wonder about like the origin of life, the interpretation of Genesis, or any other issues? Of course, but I have my main question answered.

To which, let me bring up another issue here. When we defend the resurrection, we don’t need Inerrancy to do that? I hold to Inerrancy, but it is not an essential. Note in saying something is not an essential, that does not mean it is unimportant. Yet when it comes to Inerrancy, I will make it a point to not play what I call “Stump The Bible Scholar.” This is where the unbeliever keeps presenting “contradiction after contradiction” and if you cannot answer one of them to his satisfaction, then he has no need to study Christianity. (By the way skeptics, please try to review anywhere you can for answers to such contradictions beforehand. Most of these have already been answered in the past 2,000 years. It’s doubtful you’ve found a new one)

Unfortunately, I’ve seen several atheists play that game. It doesn’t work. For instance, NT scholars who don’t hold to Inerrancy will tell you that it is an indisputable fact that Jesus existed, was crucified, that the disciples claimed to see Him alive again, and that James and Paul converted. How do they know this? Inerrancy? No. Historical research.

In the same way, I’ve seen Christians before say that if there is one contradiction in the Bible, then Christianity is false and the resurrection is not true. Christian. I cannot state this strongly enough. NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER take that position! If you do, you are going to be walking a fine line thinking you have to carry with you an answer to every single contradiction. Note that I think thus far they can all be answered, but while I consider myself to have an excellent memory, I do not think I could memorize the replies to EVERY SINGLE objection.

I also think this is consistent. I would not think the evolutionary scientist should be able to give an explanation for every single animal in existence and answer every single creationist argument. I don’t think anyone could do all the research necessary in one life to answer such claims. They need to establish the main event and even if there are some problematic positions, oh well.

My advice to readers of the blog today is to also choose your area and focus in on it. Do the best at it that you can, but if you seek to try to answer every single objection that there could be to your worldview, you’re just going to end up embarrassing yourself as you can’t master it all. Choose where you want to learn and focus in on that.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Why Reading Is So Important

Does it matter that you read? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Right now, I’m a bit ticked off. Why? I get up this morning and I’m just browsing Facebook and one of the first stories that I see is this one about a librarian who I immediately find disgraceful. Those interested can read the story here.

Basically, there’s a boy who has won the reading contest every year and she wants him to step aside and is even thinking of turning the contest, which it is, into a pull a winner out of a hat deal. Many kids are doing the bare minimum of reading just to attend a party. Tyler, the boy who is winning every year, is not.

I have been an avid reader all my life. Growing up, my great love was mysteries. I went to the library and checked out and read all the Hardy Boys books that I could find. Then, having read those, I actually went and read Nancy Drew. Heck. Who cares if the hero is a female? It’s a mystery. My mother read Mary Higgins Clark and I started reading all the books of hers that I could.

And honestly, I wish I’d done more. I had no particular subject matter driving me when I was younger or I would have likely read more.

Today, I study apologetics and I find reading to be immensely valuable. I had read the whole Bible by the time I was in 7th grade and from them on and still today, I start right over and go through the whole book again when I’m done. I can easily say the Bible is the book I have read more than any other.

When I first started into apologetics, my parents started to panic some. Why? Because I came home from the bookstore constantly with more books. It’s not that they complained about me reading. Of course not! Their concern was “How will we have room for all of these books?” In fact, when I got married, I had to share living space with someone and so I had to part with several books. Right now, the bookshelves in here are still full and I’m having to pile books on top and still more are coming in. Allie really keeps hoping I’ll get most of the books on the Kindle instead.

How could I not encourage reading?

What are the benefits of reading?

The more you read, the less likely you’ll be caught flat-footed. Learn the subject matter you want to know well and read on it. You’re not going to be able to be a master of everything. That’s fine. Choose what you want to be proficient in and go for that area. Enjoy it to the best of your ability and read in it. That way, you will know the facts the best in the area that you’re reading in and be able to explain why you believe what you believe. (This doesn’t apply to just Christians. I’d encourage this for everyone)

Read both sides of the argument. It’s easy to know your worldview is right when you read one side. It’s in fact easier to know it when you read both sides. Why? Because you yourself have witnessed the comparison and allowed your worldview to be tested by the best that is out there. Of course, for this, I encourage reading only the best books that you can by those who you know have done their homework.

Also, when you read, you hear more in your own mind than your own thoughts. Now none of us I suspect have mastered this yet, but I know when I’m going through a tough time, I don’t just have the tape recorder of my own head going. I have thoughts from several other sources. I have Scripture. I have philosophers I have read. I have great ideas of scholarship. I have wisdom from numerous places stored in my memory based on the things that I have read. When I want to know my Christianity is true, I don’t ever go and try to find a subjective feeling. I think on the things that I have read and examine them and see if I have missed anything.

Furthermore, I think this is biblical. We are to be informed in our faith and wise. Now to be sure, not everyone is meant to be a scholarly type. Not everyone will sit and read continuously. That’s okay. At least have something that you’re always going through even if you’re just reading a few pages a night before you go to bed.

Read something also that sparks your attention. Some books are bad. Some books are just boring. Not everyone is an engaging writer. If the book you’re reading is not a good book and you have no personal obligation to read it, then don’t bother.

Also, fiction can be highly beneficial. I don’t read a lot of it, but you can still get something good out of it. I still like to read Mary Higgins Clark. If someone dropped a Hardy Boys on my doorstep, I’d probably read it. I have also read all the Monk mystery novels and when Smallville was out, yep. I read those too.

You could consider the fictional classics. Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” is actually written from a Christian worldview. There’s something to get you started talking to fans of Twilight. You could read the Greek plays, Aesop’s fables, or Grimm’s fairy tales. (Which I also understand to be from a Christian worldview) Of course, many of us already know about classics like the Chronicles of Narnia and Lord of the Rings.

I would add one caveat. Still make sure you take time for your own family. Even Ecclesiastes says too much study will make you tired. There is a time for play. I still do some gaming, though usually while listening to a podcast to get the most out of my time. I also know that if Allie really wants to do something with me, that’s the time to put the book away. I still make the time. For instance, when she’s gone to sleep, I will often get up and go into the living room and just mind my own self getting in some late night reading.

The librarian in the above story I consider disgraceful. I’m a graduate of Johnson University (Formerly Johnson Bible College) around here and still go to the library and many of the professors have sadly agreed with me that I use the library more than most students. One professor told me about seeing a student over the summer and asking “What are you reading over the summer?” and getting the answer of “Nothing.” I complimented him on his self-restraint in not smacking the guy right then and there.

I say this and I think people of every worldview could agree with it. Read. Years ago, I went back to my old high school and went to an English class I used to belong to and the teacher introduced me to the students. What did I find myself telling the students to do without prompting from the teacher? Telling them to read. It was the most important advice I could give.

It still is.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

The Worth of a Woman

Can you put a price on a lady? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

I recently wrote a post in response to someone arguing about why we should have abortion laws as they are and not tightened and one aspect he included was that your sex life is at stake. The link to that post can be found here.

A good friend of Deeper Waters (And I mean that sincerely. This is someone whose opinion I value highly) has raised some concerns about some statements I made. I think I see what the concern is and I would like to address it.

The idea that I presented in the piece is that a woman is going to determine what she’s worth. I think the problem is that I was not clear as to whether I was talking about subjective worth or objective worth when I was writing.

So let’s state it clearly. A woman is worth everything. In fact, so is a man. In medieval times, it was said the life of one human being was worth more than the entire universe. After all, humans bear the image of God. The universe doesn’t. The universe is made for us. We are not made for it.

Each person who lives is someone who Jesus Christ loves and, in my opinion, contrary to a Calvinist position and no, I’m not debating that here, died for. Of course, when I say that, I wish to emphasize that it is not because Jesus has some need of any one of us. He doesn’t. God could exist just fine without us. We cannot exist just fine without Him. It is His abundance of love that we are to respond to.

Yet while each of us has this great worth in us, many of us do not see this great worth that we have. Thus, when I said that a woman is going to determine what she’s worth, it was not an objective sense, but rather in a subjective sense.

In economics, value is seen as relative. A shopkeeper can set up a price for an item. Will you buy that item? You will buy it if you have the resources, it is something you desire, and if you think that that object is more valuable than what you pay for it.

If you’re at the food court at the mall, you might really want a slice of pizza, but if the store was selling them for $10 a piece, you would probably not buy. Why? Because you like pizza, but you think that price is over-priced! You could go over to Subway or Chick-Fil-A instead and get something that you might desire less but is more reasonable with your budget.

On the other hand,you might want that big screen TV and it could even be on sale, but if you do not have the resources in order to get it, you should hold off on it.

Finally, there could be an item to you that’s really interesting and you do have the resources, but right now, it just really isn’t something that’s as desirable as another object so you won’t pay the price on order to get it.

Prices change in the market in response to many factors like cost of production, how many of that item are left, etc. In some places, like EBay, one can get more out of an item because someone who wants it more than anyone else is going to be willing to pay more for it.

None of that determines any objective worth on the item, but it does work with a subjective worth. Many of us have probably paid more for an item than it’s really worth simply because we wanted it so badly and didn’t want to have to risk someone else getting it. Some of us might also have haggled for items at garage sales before and places like that.

So now let’s take this over to the worth of a woman.

A woman’s objective worth in the eyes of God I do not think changes. Her subjective worth however, does change, depending on how she sees herself. If a woman sees herself as no good, she is more prone to put a low price on herself.

This is evidenced, for instance, in girls that want someone they can love and so freely give themselves to men just so they can get pregnant and have a baby to love. They can often go to homes that care for women in need and as soon as they leave, they’re out there trying to get pregnant again.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with a woman wanting to get pregnant, but we do see a problem with the behavior of these women. It is not thinking about what is good for the child, but what is good for their own benefit. That child is a huge responsibility and needs to be treated as such.

If a girl thinks the only good she can do is to bring pleasure to a man sexually, then she will also be more prone to sleep around. After all, in her eyes, that is what she is worth. There are women who through various forms of abuse suffer with this kind of mindset where they have been treated as a sexual object and soon see themselves as just sexual objects.

This should also be a warning to married man. We dare not take up the attitude that the only purpose our wives have in our lives is to give us sexual pleasure. I make it a point when talking about Allie to people to point out that Allie is my partner, but I don’t just mean sexually. I mean she is my life support. She is my encouragement. She is the one that I rely on. The only one who ranks above her in my life is God Himself. As has been said by someone I saw recently, marriage is two people sharing one life. Men. We must ALWAYS be living our lives in honor of our wives and if we treat them as just sex objects for our pleasure, we are not honoring them the way Scripture says. Of course, we should enjoy the pleasure of being with them, and they should enjoy the pleasure of being with us, but they do not exist just for that.

My contention is that if a woman sells herself at a low price, subjectively, she is making a statement about herself and how she is to be valued. That statement can lead when done enough to a statement about all other women. After all, if a guy can buy the big screen TV at one store for $1,000 and the exact same one at another store for $800, all things being equal, which one will he go with? If the guy is just interested in sexual pleasure and woman A has the price of “marriage” while B has the price of “a good month of dating”, which one will the guy go for?

Women. Please always watch the guys you are dating and find out what they really want. If all they want from you is just sex, then this is not marriage material for you. If they really want your sex, then they should be able to pay the price. If they’re not willing to pay the price of marriage, then do they really want your sex?

Of course, this does not mean mistakes might not be made by people who have the full intention of waiting until marriage. After all, we will ALL be tempted in the dating relationship. Certainly when I was dating Allie, there were times when I was very tempted, but I had to learn to control myself and wait for the proper time for those desires to be fulfilled.

So what happens if a couple makes a mistake?

In the Christian system, you repent and move on. It doesn’t mean you break up, but you make a vow then to practice chastity until marriage and wait. You seek to forgive one another and anyone else you might have wronged. If pregnancy is the result, you accept full responsibility. Of course, the Christian worldview condemns abortion so that’s not an option. In that case, I definitely think marriage should be done since that child needs their mother and father both and the child is best raised by its biological parents.

Let us make no mistake. We are all worth more than this universe, but we often don’t see it. One of the greatest blessings that could come in the Christian community I think is to see our proper relationship to God through Jesus Christ. We need to move it beyond the “personal relationship with Jesus Christ.” Jesus is not just a friend you make like any other friendship. He’s the sovereign Lord of the universe. We need to figure out who He is first, then figure out who we are in Him, and live our lives truly as if we are in Him, something we all work on when we struggle with our own worth in this world.

So again, could the solution be that we just need good doctrine and good application of that doctrine? Has the church missed something by just having application without a foundation in it? Is this the way the church is failing in sexual ethics? We just have a position that says “Don’t do this sexually” and we have it floating in air that we don’t know why we hold it when temptation comes? Of course, the added danger is that if we also float doctrines like the resurrection in the air without telling people why they should hold it, if we dispense with the former, the latter is certainly on its way out the door.

I hope this does clarify my position for all involved. Certainly, every woman, regardless of the mistakes she has made in her life, is priceless. The problem is that simply people just don’t know how much they’re really worth. It’s no surprise they sell themselves short.

In Christ,
Nick Peters