On Chick-Fil-A’s Donation Stance

What do I think about what has happened with Chick-Fil-A recently? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Okay. I don’t have a real personal interest in this. Contrary to many Christians, I don’t care for chicken. It’s the thing about having Aspergers. My diet is extremely limited. I do like the fries there, but that’s about it.

Like many of you, when I heard about Chick-Fil-A not donating anymore to some causes, I was shocked. There are two sides to every coin and I have heard Christians arguing on both sides, but I think CFA did a great mistake yesterday that will damage not only them, but the people they are not supporting. I want to try to understand as much as I can still and explain the best I can, but that’s where I fall at the end of the day.

Of course, just because someone or something stops supporting someone, it doesn’t mean that they think the cause is not valid anymore. If someone stops being a supporter of Deeper Waters, should I think that they no longer care about Christian apologetics and ministry? It could be that, but it’s not necessarily that.

One reason given for this lack of supporting these organizations is that they are supposedly anti-LGBTQ. It is never explained what this means. Today, we live in a day and age where disagreement with a behavior is seen as hatred towards the person. (Does that mean people who hate how Christians practice their belief hate Christians?) One such organization being dropped from donations is the Salvation Army.

You know those hateful bigots. Right? They’re the ones standing outside of grocery stores on Christmas ringing the bells and wishing everyone a Merry Christmas. I am not going to claim everyone who works there is a saint, but they care greatly for the homeless and those in need. Are they anti-LGBTQ? Well, let’s see what they have said.

Does The Salvation Army serve the LGBTQ Community?

Yes. Any person who walks through our doors will receive assistance based on their need and our capacity to help. Our mission is to the preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and meet human need in His name without discrimination. 


Does The Salvation Army provide shelter to transgender people?

Yes. When a transgender person seeks help from us, we serve them in the same manner as any other person seeking assistance. Too often, LGBTQ Americans experience unacceptable homophobia or transphobia when seeking shelter. The Salvation Army seeks to be a welcome, safe place for all men, women, and children.


Does The Salvation Army consider the sexual orientation or gender identity of an applicant in its hiring practices?

No. We embrace talented people regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity. Our hiring practices are open to all.


Does The Salvation Army provide benefits to the spouses of employees in same-sex marriages?

Yes. We provide the same benefits to opposite-sex and same-sex couples.

Some have said CFA is doing this because of contractual agreements to only support for a few years or to get into a UK market. Neither one of these is good reasons. Unfortunately, there are some effects that can follow from CFA’s decision because of this.

Years ago, CFA had the most successful day ever in fast food history with Chick-Fil-A Day. My family and I were ones that stood in line for about half an hour to get something there. It was arranged by Mike Huckabee. CFA never personally endorsed the day, but they reaped the benefits. Why did they get these benefits?

Because many Americans today still believe in traditional marriage and they were proud to see one restaurant standing by their principles and not caving even when the other side was pushing in on them. They have done this consistently. Unless there is some emergency in an area, they are not open on Sundays when they could be making profits on those days.

So CFA has some happy and loyal customers who support them because of their stances. Now I’m not saying CFA should go somewhere just because of the money, but at the same time, if they believe their stance is right, they should stick with it. Yesterday, the conservatives got the message from CFA that appeasement to the left is the proper way to go.

It’s been seen by many as a slap in the face and foolishness. After all, give the left an inch and usually they take a mile. These people will not be satisfied until CFA is donating money to pro-LGBTQ organizations and until they have a requirement that every employee show up to work in drag and refuse to serve to those bigoted Christians and close not on Sundays, but on Muslim holidays.

Not only that, now all these organizations that CFA has refused to donate to have been labeled as anti-LGBTQ, which will make it all the harder for them to get support. The mission that they are seeking to do will be less likely. In essence, they have been thrown under the bus.

Some Christians are wanting to boycott CFA. If you are going that route, I can honestly understand it even if I don’t support it. Buycotts like Chick-Fil-A Day work if there is a concentrated effort. When Duck Dynasty was pulled from the air, a concentrated effort worked to get the station to reverse its decision.

My only concern with this is if Christians go this route and CFA responds positively, just like with Duck Dynasty, please do not stop there. The message I got with the Duck Dynasty event was that Christians will get up in arms when a TV show is removed because of its Christian principles, but once they get what they want, Christians sit back down again. If that is the case, all that matters is the TV show. It is not the greater cause of the Kingdom.

If you do a boycott, do it not because CFA matters so much, but the cause of Christ does. You think CFA has betrayed that cause and you will not support them while they are doing that. Note also this is your personal conscience. Some Christians might still go from time to time because they just see CFA as a chicken sandwich restaurant. As Paul would say, let each be convinced in their own mind.

My own hope is that CFA will reverse this decision. It’s not going to keep me up at night or anything like that, but I think they sent a very bad message yesterday. It’s really just bad business also to do something to anger your largest support group and try to appease your most vocal critics instead that won’t be pleased.

CFA. If you read this, please reconsider.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 9/21/2019

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

Happy families are all alike, but each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. Many families will not put their dysfunction out there for the world to see. If you post on Facebook, very rarely will you see something like, “Wife and I got into an awful fight over how to do the laundry and we ended up yelling at each other for an hour.”

The LGBT community might look happy on the outside. We just want to get along. This is a group all about love and tolerance. Right? Maybe not. Maybe there’s a lot of chaos going on in this family as well. What if they can’t all just get along?

My guest this Saturday has done a lot of looking into this community. Things are not as they seem. The feminist movement already doesn’t like what’s happening with transgenderism which puts a lot of tension between the L and the T. The B movement isn’t going so well with that either since that assumes that there are only two genders.

Okay. So the LGBT community isn’t getting along with itself. What does that have to do with us? For one thing, if this is accurate, this can show us the path we could be going on. What if we Christians are right and this is a war against reality? What if the tensions underlie a much deeper issue? What if issues of sexuality have to do with more than just whoever you sleep with?

To discuss this, I’m bringing on someone who has researched this movement and has the knowledge about what’s going on. He came highly recommended by Dr. J of the Ruth Institute. He’s a writer for the Christian Post and his name is Brandon Showalter.

So who is he?

Brandon Showalter is a 2007 graduate of Bridgewater College of Virginia. He earned a BA (cum laude) in International Studies and Spanish and was a fellow the Flory Honors program, studying abroad at the University of Barcelona in Barcelona, Spain in 2005. He is also a fellow of the John Jay Institute for Faith, Society, and Law.

Since 2016 he has been a journalist with The Christian Post covering a wide range of topics. His reporting has been cited in the US State Department’s 2017 International Religious Freedom report and in the 2018 book “Braving the Future: Christian Faith in a World of Limitless Tech.” Earlier this year, the Evangelical Press Association awarded him and one of his colleagues first place for best Article series. In late October 2017 he traveled to Germany to report on the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.

Tomorrow then, that’s what we’ll be talking about. We are working on updating the shows and getting them to you. I hope to be fully caught up before too long.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 9/14/2019

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

It used to be that if you were filling something out and it asked what gender you were, there were two options. You were male or you were female. We all understood that. However, now we live in an age that seems to call everything into question including basic facts of biology.

Now we have boys who claim to be girls and vice-versa. We have an Olympic athlete who has undergone an operation so he can become a woman. Transgenderism is a major new item today and terms like non-binary are showing up more and more.

A great concern is about the possible medical dangers involved with transgenderism. It’s problematic enough to many of us to think that you are a member of the opposite sex. It’s something else quite different when you put hormones in your body to bring about a change. It’s even more concerning when small children who are incredibly impressionable are led down this route and even take puberty blockers and begin a transition. These are kids who have a hard time deciding what to wear to school the next day and yet make major life-altering decisions like this.

But what are the medical side-effects of this? We have drugs that could help people overcome cancer that aren’t released yet, but we seem to want to do something of this extreme level without understanding the circumstances. Are we playing a dangerous game? Could we be damaging children in a way irreversible by scientific means?

To discuss this, I need some help. Obviously, I’m not a scientist or a doctor and I don’t play one on TV. I need someone knowledgeable on this. I need someone like my guest this weekend. Her name is Michelle Cretella.

So who is she?

Dr. Cretella is Executive Director of the American College of Pediatricians (ACPeds). She was elected to the Board of Directors in 2005, and served two terms as president prior to being hired as the executive director. Dr. Cretella previously chaired several committees which enabled her to become one of the ACPeds’ chief researchers, editors and spokespersons. Her article Gender Dysphoria in Children and Suppression of Debate was published in the 2016 summer issue of Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons. Following this, she became one of the world’s most outspoken critics of gender ideology in pediatrics. She is regularly consulted by many media news outlets. 

Dr. Cretella serves on the Advisory Board of the Alliance for Therapeutic Choice, and is Chair of the Gender Identity Subcommittee for the Catholic Medical Association. She is a peer reviewer for the journal Issues in Law and Medicine, and also for the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons.

Dr. Cretella received her medical degree in 1994 from the University Of Connecticut School Of Medicine. She completed her residency in pediatrics in 1997 at the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford, Connecticut. She completed a fellowship in College Health through the University of Virginia in 1999. After 15 years of group practice in rural Connecticut and Rhode Island she left clinical practice to devote more time to family and the ACPeds. Dr. Cretella and her husband are the proud parents of four children.

If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll have noticed that episodes are now going up. We hope to be caught up soon. Please be watching your feed for this and other upcoming episodes.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Critical Conversations

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

Parents have always tended to dread “the talk” and asked one another which one of them will be the ones to tell their children about the birds and the bees. As awkward as it has been in the past, today for Christian parents, it can be even more awkward. What was thought unthinkable in the past is now seen as the new normal. Christians for the most part know what the Bible says about homosexual practice and today, that leads to them being called bigots, haters, intolerant, etc.

What are Christian parents to do? It’s no longer enough in our day and age to just say “Well this is what the Bible says.” Something more is needed. That’s why I’m proud to support Tom Gilson’s book on the topic. Gilson writes a book that is intellectually rich but also with a pastoral heart. As you read it, it’s like Gilson is taking your hand and guiding you through the minefield and helping you see step by step how best to handle these conversations with your children.

Note I said conversations. The birds and the bees talk might be a one-time deal, but this is a prevalent issue that will likely involve more than one talk, especially as your teenager receives more challenges from classmates. Gilson is set to walk you through with a history of how we got here, what marriage means and why it matters, and how to handle challenges everywhere, even from a professor in a college classroom.

All that is well and good and you can find that information in many books, but if all you had was the final section, it would be worth the price of the book. In the final section Gilson takes a lot of the soundbite slogans that your child will encounter and works through how to answer them. He has an idea of a kind of conversation you can have all the while wanting you to make sure that it is not a script.

Most every slogan you can think of is addressed here. It’s as if Gilson sat at his computer writing every sound bite that came along and then decided to respond to all of them. It is a shame that we live in a soundbite culture where these kinds of statements have to be addressed, but unfortunately they do. Gilson does the job though. Your children will encounter taunts. They will be able to reply with substantial arguments.

If there’s something I would like to see in a future edition, I would like to see more of the positives of what we are defending. We as Christians have largely been seen as taking a negative side in the marriage debate. We need to make sure we present equally a very positive case. I would like to see more writing encouraging teenagers on the goodness of the male-female relationship and how it works in marriage, which would certainly include the grandeur and wonder of a sexual relationship, but also the way male and female can build themselves up to holiness in a life of joy. There is some of this when Gilson says every kiss with his wife is something big, but I would like to see more.

Still, this is a book I wish every Christian parent of teenagers would buy. Actually, change that. Every Christian who wants to know how to address homosexuality period whether you have teenagers or not should read this. You are coming across the soundbites just as much as they are. You too need this. Don’t avoid buying this book just because you don’t have teenagers. Buy it because you are a Christian in a world that needs the answers.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Deeper Waters Podcast 5/14/2016: Walt Heyer

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

Target. Say the word and immediately the thoughts of boycotts comes into your mind. Why? Because of a bathroom policy. Women who identify as men are allowed to use the men’s room and vice-versa. This has led to many protests by others. There is a fear about predators taking advantage of the law, but something that is not discussed often is the people themselves who are claiming to be transgender.

This is a concept that strikes most of us as something that doesn’t make sense. We are living in an age where you cannot tell a woman that she must be a woman. If she identifies as a man, well that’s okay. Many of us are stunned that this is even being seen as a debate today, but lo and behold it is. What are we to do about this?

Why not have someone on who knows about the transgender viewpoint? In fact, we could say he knows about it so much because he was a transgender and then with  the surgical reassignment became a transsexual. That’s why this Saturday I am going to be interviewing Walt Heyer.

WaltHeyer

Walt Heyer is an author and public speaker with a passion to help others who regret gender change. Through his website, SexChangeRegret.com, and his blog, WaltHeyer.com, Heyer raises public awareness about the incidence of regret and the tragic consequences suffered as a result. Heyer’s story can be read in novel form in Kid Dakota and The Secret at Grandma’s House and in his autobiography, A Transgender’s Faith. Heyer’s other books include Paper Genders and Gender, Lies and Suicide.

So we are going to be talking about what so many of us really have a hard time wrapping our heads around. Are we really going against the scientific establishment? What is the cause of suicide in the cases of transgender people? Is the condition really a mental illness or is it something bona fide and the only way to help these people is to have them alter their bodies to become a person of the opposite sex?

What was it about Walt’s experience that brought him to this realization? What was it like to “become a woman” and then go back to being a man? What does he think should be the best approach to helping people who are struggling with thinking that they are the wrong sex. If his case is a negative one, is that just an isolated incident while most cases seem to work out for the good of those involved?

This is a big issue that is going on and I do believe that there is more at stake than just using a bathroom. We are calling the very identity of male and female into question. Perhaps I am mistaken in my approach and Walt can show that or perhaps there is in fact more than just the surface level debate that is going on.

I hope you’ll be listening next Saturday either way as Walt Heyer joins me!

In Christ,
Nick Peters

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

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

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

And still, it just falls short.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I also agree with Brownson’s commentary on this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

αρσενοκοιται

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

και μετα αρσενος ου κοιμηθηση κοιτην γυναικος βδελυγμα γαρ εστιν

And when we get to 20:13….

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

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

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

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Redeeming Sex

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

Okay. It’s not much of a secret that men like sex and like to think about it. Well, maybe that last part isn’t as true. Men like to fantasize about sex. They like to dream about sex. They especially like to have sex. Not many of them enjoy really thinking about sex. I try to be different, although I certainly enjoy all the other activities, and so when I saw Hirsch’s book on sexuality, I decided to pick it up. Not only that, it’s often good to get a woman’s perspective on sex. Not only that, but it’s good to get the view of a Christian woman on sex.

Hirsch’s book details how she came to Jesus and she came from a lifestyle that had practically done everything sexual that you can imagine, and then some. Today, she says she has a more traditional stance, but when she became a Christian, she had a lot of questions about what the church had to say about sex. That shouldn’t be a shock since so many of us today have the same questions, both inside and outside of the church. Thankfully, Hirsch found a church that while they consisted largely of senior citizens while she and her friends were young rebel types, they loved her with the love of Jesus and the pastor made sure to get them to Jesus first and then let Him be the guiding light in their sexual issues.

So right at the start, I’d like to point out a problem we have in our churches. How often do we talk about sex? I mean really, how often in church do you hear talk about sex? It’s hardly ever. We barely say a thing and when we do, we tend to speak in euphemisms and if it’s some forbidden dirty topic. How often does sex meanwhile show up in the Bible? Abundantly. How much does it show up in the popular culture? Try to turn on the television and not see it! How often are we talking about it in politics? You seen all the debates going on on the nature of marriage? What are we saying about it? Squat.

Hirsch wants to have a real conversation about it and it goes beyond the “Don’t do this” that we hear over and over. It’s really about how we relate to one another. Hirsch says all of our relationships are really sexual to some extent. Of course, some of us are hearing that and thinking “What?! There are several people I don’t have sex with and I don’t have any desire to have sex with!” Hirsch would agree with you. What Hirsch means is that all relationships are to have some degree of intimacy. All involve some sharing of yourself. There is just one relationship for a Christian that is to involve genital sexuality and that is the one that takes place in marriage.

This kind of intimacy is what we all long for on some extent and even those who take a vow of celibacy are longing for it. They long for it with God, which is ultimately what Heaven is. (You know Hirsch’s book is going to be good when the first title is “Oh my God!”) The moment of release that all of genital sexuality is building up to is meant to be seen as a moment of unity and oneness. It is the end result of a final openness to one another, and it is a picture of what Heaven is like. So many in our society chase after that moment and those of us who are married when it comes to sex can suddenly find ourselves being obsessed when the possibility comes up. Personally, I’d consider it the closest one comes to having another personality. It really is reaching for something greater than yourself and getting caught in the experience of another person.

That’s what Heaven is also.

Heaven is not defined by streets of gold or by having a mansion or by playing a harp and sitting on a cloud. (especially since we don’t become angels, but that’s another point.) Heaven is defined by being in right relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Heaven is found by dying to ourselves and giving our lives to Him. Heaven is found by having total and exclusive openness to God and being open to all of His blessings in our lives. Heaven is standing before God naked in our being as it were with no secrets and Him making us to be who we are and giving His life to us.

Which is kind of what sex is entirely. Sex is the symbol that is meant to point us to the reality of God.

The sad thing is we can rob people of this when we tell them sex is something to be feared. Our culture wants to run to sex. We want to run from sex. In reality, Christians should be leading in the best sex that there is. Our God is the one who created sex. It’s all His idea. His pathway should be seen as the best pathway to the best sex that there is. The rest of the world should be looking at the church and saying “I don’t know what they have, but I sure want it.” Should they want us in our holiness and love? Absolutely, but that should also carry over into our sex lives that should be an example to the world.

Hirsch rightly quotes Chesterton who told us that when a man knocks on the door of a brothel, he is looking for God. I wholeheartedly agree. Our chasing after sex is a chasing after intimacy and being accepted and joy and openness. We just too often go to the wrong spot. We spend so much time with the symbol that we miss the far greater reality that sex is pointing to. We stop at the symbol talking about how good it is, and indeed it is, that we don’t realize we’re getting a foretaste. Is sex really just a happy accident in a cosmic meaningless universe, or is it a pointer to something beyond itself?

Also, Hirsch wants us to look to Jesus as our example. Jesus is indeed a sexual person. No. I don’t mean any nonsense like He had a romantic interest in Mary Magdalene or that He was having sex of any kind. I mean that everything He did, He did as a man. In fact, He also did this as a single man, which should be a reminder as Hirsch points out to those of us who can be tempted in the church to look down on singles as if there is something wrong with them because they do not have a spouse. Some of them might want one, and we can help, but some might just not want to get married, and that’s also okay. How can it be a wrong path to choose if Jesus chose it?

The sexual love that we want we often want cheaply, and this can be through promiscuous sex and through pornography. Real sexuality involves real intimacy. It involves being open to the other person entirely, which means you are capable of being hurt. Marriage is one of the most sacred institutions that there is, and it is also one of the most dangerous and risky ones to enter into. When you enter into marriage, you are tying your life to another person and saying that you are open to them. That entails opening yourself up to their love, which is good, but it also entails that you will get hurt from time to time. That’s part of the risk. I have to realize that sadly, I will hurt my wife from time to time. It’s a sad reality. I am a fallen sinful man and sometimes that flesh will come out. That’s part of marriage though. You are open to the hurt because the love you gain is so much greater.

The last half of the book focuses a lot on issues involving homosexuality. Hirsch makes a lot of good points here, though some will be a bit concerned wishing she took a stronger stance at times. Hirsch is certainly right that we have too often given the image of hate-filled and intolerant. Many of us do not, but sadly, the ones that usually get the microphone from the media are the ones we don’t want. Now in all of this, I will state definitely that I think homosexual actions are wrong. I think that marriage is to be between a man and a woman. At the same time, I do not have hatred for homosexuals and too often that is assumed. We have often treated homosexuality as if it’s a disease keeping people away from Jesus. For those of us who do disagree with homosexual practice, we need to realize still that the first way to love our homosexual neighbor, is to get them to Jesus, just like anyone else.

We also too often make a dangerous statement about God removing homosexual desires from someone if they come to Jesus. I’ve heard people say from the pulpit that Jesus will do that if you come to Him and you struggle with them. He could of course. He very well could. This is not a guarantee. As a heterosexual man, Jesus does not take away all my desires to sleep with other women, or take away all of my sinful desires specifically. There are many sins of the flesh that I still struggle with it. Why would we think that Jesus would take away the sinful desires of someone in the homosexual lifestyle and not do the same for someone in the heterosexual lifestyle? I still have my cross that I have to carry.

The first thing we have to do is to learn the person in the LGBT community as a fellow human being even if we disagree with their lifestyle to the core. I often tell men who are wanting to witness to male homosexuals is that the best thing to do is just to be a friend to them. I’m sure they’ve heard enough times what the church thinks about what they do. You don’t have to for a moment affirm what they do, but you do realize that they are human beings that Jesus loves and died for as well. Dare I say it, but maybe you should consider treating them the way you want to be treated? Of course, if they ask your opinion, that doesn’t mean you give a false opinion. If they ask you if you think they are doing something immoral, you can say that, but you yourself are also doing things you know are immoral and you are still to love yourself.

Ultimately, I think Hirsch’s book is quite good. I don’t agree with everything naturally. I don’t think the story of Origen emasculating himself is accurate for instance. The story shows up about a century later and Origen himself was someone who normally interpreted Scripture allegorically. Still, no essential point resides on such a claim. Also, while I do wish sometimes a stronger stance had been taken, I try to realize that Hirsch is trying to walk a very fine line here. There is much that is good in this book and there are plenty of parts I circled and underlined in my reading. I hope it opens us up more to a real conversation on sex and sexuality.

In Christ,
Nick Peters