Book Plunge: Addicted To Lust

What do I think of Sam Perry’s book published by Oxford University Press? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I heard about this book on a marriage blog I read and decided to check it out. Something interesting about the work is that I suspect Perry is a Christian, but it is not explicitly stated that I recall in the book. Also, the book is not coming out all guns blazing against pornography. The writer is striving to be as accurate with the data as he can be.

He starts off talking with the nature of addiction. I find it beyond dispute that some men are addicted to pornography. Many, sadly, have marriages that are suffering for this. I know of the stories of guys who have to watch a video or read a magazine in order to be able to perform with their wives. I have no doubt that the reason I hear so many commercials for treatment of ED around here is because of pornography.

Like I said, Perry tries to be fair. He states that some people do see benefits to their lives from pornography. Perry’s writing is not meant to persuade to a view one way or the other. It is to present the data.

He focuses on conservative Protestants because we do take Scripture seriously, or we’re supposed to, and that includes its sexual ethic, and because we make up a majority and tend to be people of the book the most. Sometimes, those outside like Catholics on the one hand and atheists and agnostics on the other are covered. However, those on the outside will still find this book helpful.

He also states that we in the church do tend to point out the problems of sexual sin. Of course, we should make a big deal about this, but we don’t often seem to emphasize so much pride or greed or dare I say it, gluttony. Perhaps if we focused on the latter, especially pride, we would have a lot less of the sexual sins.

There is a section on masturbation as well. If one goes with a strictly Scriptural interpretation on this, there is nothing one way or the other. Scripture does not say “Hands off” (Pun intended) nor does it say “Go for it!” There is also debate as to whether the rules are different for married men or single men. Not only that, there can be an interesting idea where men can be told to not do so, but a woman is so she can know what she likes and how her husband can better please her.

In the end, Perry gives no answer, as that is not his intent. He is merely presenting the different views. This is something that men definitely need to think about and really consider.

He then asks what happens when porn is left unchecked. What happens if we keep using it regularly? This is especially a battle today because in the past, you had to go to the video store or the magazine rack, highly public places, and get what you wanted. Everyone would also know why you were there.

Today, all you have to do is go look on your phone. You can find whatever you want right now. A teenage boy with a smartphone can easily be up at night in his bedroom watching pornography and his parents are none the wiser.

Unfortunately, it’s harder and harder to judge the results of porn on society because there are fewer and fewer men who have no involvement with it. It’s my thinking that our society will go further and further downhill the more we allow this. The sexual revolution has been one of the most destructive forces in society.

One other aspect he covers is that this is usually thought to be a man’s battle. Not so. More and more women are getting involved. The problem is at many recovery groups, sex is all men talk about. For women, sex is hardly talked about in these groups. Women who engage with porn are seen as out of the norm. A woman can find it hard to talk to someone and she can’t normally go to her pastor because he’s normally a man as well. Definitely, more needs to be done for women who struggle.

What about marriage? Some people count heavy porn use as infidelity, and I really don’t blame them. Many a woman hears about her husband using porn and is shattered thinking “Am I not enough for you?” Many women have an idea in their heads that they must compete with what they see on a screen which is always fantasy and no, reality in these cases is always easily trumped by fantasy since we can make it to be whatever we want.

This happens on a lesser level also. Many girls who are dating and having sex with their boyfriends think that they have to compete with porn. Some start watching porn so they can get an idea of what their boyfriends will like. I don’t know how long our society can function like this.

The last major chapter is on treatment. In this chapter, Perry looks to see if Biblical Counseling is, well, Biblical. He looks at what good programs like Covenant Eyes do. Hopefully, those wanting to get past this will find resources.

Now if you’re skeptical and want to know about how Perry did his research, good news. That is covered in the appendices. Since this book is published by Oxford, we can be sure it’s not lightly researched. It certainly isn’t. Perry’s book gives a lot of food for thought. It is very readable and even-handed and should foster better discussions.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Why Not Use Porn?

Does porn disgrace a human being? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Recently, I was on a Facebook thread where someone had been talking about changing their VPN to show being in Italy where apparently, PornHub is giving a free gift to people under quarantine. I jumped in some and was dialoguing and all was going well and seemed to quite down. Later, I saw the thread again and realized Facebook hadn’t notified me that people had replied to me, a problem I seem to be having with Facebook lately. I didn’t want to jump into what looked like a dumpster fire then, so I figured I would now.

I write this from the perspective of a man. I realize that women can struggle with pornography as well. My wife has overcome that addiction so I defer women to talk to her who want some help.

For one thing, porn requires nothing of you. Nothing. In the past, you would have to at least brave up to go to the magazine rack or ask about that one room at the video store. Not so anymore. Hypothetically, if I wanted to, I could access porn from anywhere in the world. I could watch it in the check-out line at the grocery store. No more do little boys have to hide under bedsheets at night with a flashlight. Now they can hide with their iPhones.

Traditionally, if a man wanted a woman, he would have to risk himself and ask her out and be prepared for rejection. Then he would have to go to the time and effort of wooing her and loving her. The hope in all of this is that physical attraction would become long and lasting love.

In the past, most marriages were arranged. You would literally go to bed with a total stranger on the wedding night. My thinking is that sexual behavior was meant to build the bonds of love and make the man realize that if he wanted the woman, he needed to treat her well. Repeated behavior leads to real love in that case. Sadly, too many men decided to shortcut the process and not stay faithful to their wives just to get what they wanted.

Moving on, I find it interesting that those of us with a more conservative position are actually the ones that seem to treat sex more seriously. Someone can sleep around with several people and say “It’s just sex.” I find it difficult to picture someone who believes in covenant monogamy really saying something like that. “Oh yeah. Doing that sex thing together. No big deal.”

Sexual activity is something different. If I were regularly playing something like Mario Kart with a female other than family, my wife could get concerned, but that would not constitute cheating. If that became a heavily emotional relationship and then a physical one, we would be cheating, but the activity itself does not necessitate that. Somehow, when sex enters the picture, a boundary has been crossed.

A more polyamorous lifestyle might try to say that it is just sex, but what if it isn’t? What if we are bumping against reality? What if it could be that sexual behavior actually means something? What if sex really is reserved for a covenant relationship? Could we be desensitizing ourselves to that?

This is also because what you do with your body means something. I am normally a non-social person so I don’t talk much if I don’t have to. Suppose you see me out across the street somewhere and say hi and I wave back. Okay. All is well. Now suppose in a different universe I just scowl at you or I even give you the finger. You go home that night wondering if you offended me some time or if I’m just having a bad day. You don’t treat those actions as if they’re identical.

Sometimes, non-Christians get amazed that it looks like God cares so much what we do with our genitals. Of course, He does. God cares what we do with our whole body. Much of society cares as well. After all, rape is something illegal and that is very much involving one’s genitals.

If our bodily actions mean something, then what we are telling people sexually is how much honor we give them. Give that honor to just anyone and it doesn’t really become an honor. A woman taking off her clothes for a man is telling him what position he holds in her life. Also ladies, if you are married to a good man, he will never tire of your body and he will love it no matter what happens to it.

One analogy has been made has been to picture dating as a marketplace. Each woman tells what she is worth by how long she withholds sexual intimacy. Is she worth dinner and a movie? A week? A month? A year? Engagement? Or is she worth a lifelong commitment?

We’re not even talking about some other moral implications yet, but they’re worth getting into, such as PornHub’s recent trouble in being connected with sex trafficking. Watch porn and you could be enabling that. You are taking someone’s daughter there and treating her as just an object of your own enjoyment instead of a person in her own right.

Furthermore, I think guys who watch porn are just making it harder for them to get real women. After all, you can tell yourself you will never get a real one, so you might as well watch porn. That’s the only way you’ll see a naked female body in your life. Right?

If you do get married, you want things to be special anyway. When a man takes off his wife’s lingerie for the first time, he shouldn’t be immediately comparing her to countless other women he has seen in pornography. He should be able to enjoy her for her alone. I suspect this is also why so many commercials I hear are about ED and problems like that. Men have been being aroused by fake women and needing more and more for so long that fake women can’t do it anymore.

Pornography is addictive behavior. It will do you no favors and this implies even if married couples think it will spice things up for them to watch together. There might be short-term benefits perhaps, but in the long run, the costs will be greater. It’s just not worth it.

Not only that, but once you as a man have a woman to complete the unit, why would you need more? It’s basically saying your wife is inadequate to meet your needs. Sexual rejection is always painful and one of the worst ways of it is saying either implicitly or explicitly, you don’t meet my needs.

If you are struggling with porn, get some help. Go to a group like Celebrate Recovery. Get a filter on your computer and devices from programs like XXXChurch. You can beat this and it will be worth it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Yes. You Should Still Avoid Temptation

How should a man handle his intimate affairs? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I read something this morning about how it’s not biblical or helpful to follow the idea of refusing if you’re a man to be alone with another woman who is not related to you, though the exception might be dating. After all, Jesus would have his hair washed by a prostitute and was alone with the woman at the well. Shouldn’t we be more like Jesus?

Neither one of these examples convinces me.

When Jesus has His feet washed by a prostitute and dines with them, these are communal events. There is a crowd nearby. That decreases greatly the odds that mad passionate sex is going to break out right then and there. Note also Jesus was already gaining a reputation anyway for communal meals with these people. A private meal would have been even more of a scandal.

What about the woman at the well? The well was a very public place. Anyone could have come walking up at any time to speak to Jesus. This isn’t Jesus meeting a woman in a back alley somewhere where they can be alone. This is Him interacting with her in an epicenter of the town.

So yes. I still follow this advice. Why is that?

We live in a day and an age of MeToo. A lot of these are legitimate, but also today many women can want to hurt men in their lives and an accusation can be enough to do it. If you avoid being alone with a woman like that, then you have less chances of something like that happening.

In an apartment complex we used to live in, my wife and I had two neighbors that were single women. I never went over to their apartments without my wife being with me. It is a hard rule I stand by. Apart from my relationship with Jesus, my relationship with Allie is the most important relationship in my life. I don’t ever want to put that at risk.

Now if you are dating, try not to be with a woman in a place where there is little chance for interruption. Allie and I would be at her parents’ house very often since she still lived with them and they knew where we were at all times and could walk in on us at any moment. They trusted me with Allie, obviously since they let me marry her, but that doesn’t mean being foolish.

And ladies, please consider some advice on this point. If a man invites you to a hotel room, never take him up on the offer. I don’t care if it’s your boss even. The overwhelming majority of the time, there’s one reason a guy is inviting you to his hotel room. I’m not blaming the victim here, but use some common sense.

Also, I realize women have temptations too. I write this for men because normally, but not always, men have the higher drives. Women should follow similar rules as well and I would even encourage a woman if she doesn’t know what kind of man could be in a place to carry mace, pepper spray, something of that sort.

Men. Your reputation is extremely important to protect. One mistake that can happen in minutes can ruin a lifetime. Please also don’t think you are above the temptation. If you do, then you have already taken the first step to falling into it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 8/17/2019

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

The 60’s were a wild time in America. You had the Kennedy assassination, the Vietnam War, the space race and landing on the moon, and Woodstock. You also had a revolution that drastically changed society and that was the sexual revolution. This revolution has been on the move and is still in effect to this day. Unfortunately, while the American Revolution did bring about much good for us, the same cannot be said of this one.

Today, we live in a culture that is thoroughly confused about sexuality. Sure, we’re watching sex, we’re talking about sex, we’re dreaming about sex, and we’re just plain having sex, but we’re not really thinking about sex. We keep chasing after the god of Eros wondering why he flies away so often.

Maybe instead of moving forward on this path, we need to move backward. Maybe we need to undo the sexual revolution. Maybe we need to think more about what sex is and why it is so important to think about it.

To discuss the Sexual Revolution, I am bringing on someone who has written and spoken profusely about this topic. It is a field she never thought she would get into being an economics major, but it is where she has found herself. Today, she teaches from a Catholic perspective on the issues of sexuality and family. We are going to be talking about her new book, The Sexual State. Her name is Jennifer Roback Morse.

So who is she?

According to her bio:

Dr. Morse is the founder of The Ruth Institute, a global non-profit organization equipping Christians to defend the family and build a Civilization of Love. 

Dr. Morse was a campaign spokeswoman for California’s winning Proposition 8 campaign, defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman. She has authored or co-authored six books and spoken around the globe. Her work has been translated into Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Polish and Chuukese, the native language of the Micronesian Islands. 

Her latest book is The Sexual State: How Elite Ideologies are Destroying Lives and Why the Church was Right Along. (See below for a complete list of Dr. Morse’s books.) 

She earned her Ph.D. at the University of Rochester and taught economics at Yale and George Mason Universities. 

Dr. Morse was named one of the “Catholic Stars of 2013,” on a list that included Pope Francis and Pope Benedict XVI.

Dr. Morse and her husband are parents of an adopted child, a birth child, a goddaughter and were foster parents for San Diego County to eight foster children. In 2015, Dr. Morse and her husband relocated to Lake Charles, Louisiana, where the work of the Ruth Institute continues. 

Complete list of Dr. Morse’s books: 

  1. Love and Economics: It Takes a Family to Raise a Village (2001) 
  2. Smart Sex: Finding Lifelong Love in a Hookup World (2005)
  3. 101 Tips for a Happier Marriage (2013) coauthored with Betsy Kerekes.
  4. The Sexual Revolution and Its Victims (2015)
  5. 101 Tips for Marrying the Right Person (2016) coauthored with Betsy Kerekes. 
  6. The Sexual State: How Elite Ideologies are Destroying Lives and Why the Church was Right Along. (2018) 

I hope you’ll be watching for this new one. If you’ve been watching for awhile, the episodes are being worked on and coming up. There have been some snags lately, but they are coming. Just please bear with us.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Does Jesus Make A Difference?

Why should anyone trust Jesus? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

As readers know, I’m all about here establishing the truth of Jesus’s resurrection and Christianity. That is important and needs to be done. My concern today is that we are too often not showing any reason for anyone to even bother to take Christianity seriously. Many Christians are indistinguishable from their non-Christian neighbors, which should be disappointing if Scripture tells us we are a peculiar people and about how we are to live among the pagans. While we don’t have many pagans today, though there are a few, we do still have people who we can say are unbelievers.

For too many Christians, the reason that this is so is that they just don’t really know much about Christianity. Why should they? Too many churches have it just as if Christianity is self-help that gives good advice to help you in your life, instead of about the radical announcement that God is reclaiming this world and building His Kingdom. If we were really to go to church in appropriate dress, it would be combat fatigues realizing we are on a mission to reclaim the world.

Too many Christians are what I call regurgitating Christians. They go to church and hear what their pastor says and when the time comes, they just puke it right back out again. They may have the right answers to the questions, but they don’t know why those answers are true. Your pastor could very well be a great guy, but he is not infallible. Scripture is, but his interpretation is not. Check out what is said.

We also have a view in our lives that the purpose of Christianity is that we can go to Heaven when we die. You can hear an altar call that doesn’t say a single thing about the resurrection of Jesus, serving God for life, or the Kingdom of God, but it will sure mention going to heaven when you die. Yes. The very purpose of Jesus coming to Earth and defeating sins was just so you could be happy for all of eternity. Surely God would not expect something bizarre from us, such as lifelong service.

Christianity is not just a get out of hell free card. Christianity is a worldview that is supposed to encompass everything you believe. It’s great that many of us have the right answers, but do we really understand them. Are we just being students who study before an exam so we can know the right answers without bothering to figure out how someone can know those are the right answers and what difference they make?

So Jesus rose from the dead. Why? Was God just showing off what He could do with Jesus, or could it be He was actually showing that Jesus has conquered death? Could it be that He was showing the divine claims of Jesus were actually true and Jesus is the rightful king of this world?

What about our ethics? Too many Christians are doing what everyone else does. They will go along with the politically correct crowd. This is especially the case with sexual ethics. There are too many Christians that see no real problem with sex before marriage or even living together before marriage. Does Christianity have anything to say about sex?

If you look at your neighbor and the only difference you and your non-Christian neighbor have is that you answer the Jesus questions right and they don’t, then you have a problem. I’m not questioning your salvation here, but I am saying that you seem to have it but it makes no difference. Imagine winning the big powerball lottery and having access to all the money, but going home and living your life with your budget the exact same way and having the money just sit there. That’s what many of us are doing with Jesus.

In all of this we look at the world and ask “What has gone wrong?” It’s good to ask that, but if you want to know what went wrong, it’s us. We went wrong. We did not heed the Great Commission. We have not made Jesus the central passion of our lives. Many of us know more about our favorite TV show or sports team than we do about Jesus. I’m not at all saying don’t have any other interests and hobbies, but do prioritize.

Look at everything in your life. If people can look at how you handle things in your life and look at how the non-Christian handles things and see absolutely no difference, why should they think Jesus makes any difference to you? If they don’t think Jesus makes any difference, why on Earth would they really bother investigating?

Keep in mind, I’m not saying their skepticism is justified. Sure, the church is full of hypocrites and such, but that doesn’t mean Jesus didn’t rise from the dead. That’s established on its own. It’s my contention here that we could at times be placing an extra hurdle in front of people who could otherwise come to Jesus. Not only are we keeping them away, we are really missing out on a full Christian life that we could be having.

How do you do this? Go and get some good books on basic Christianity or go and listen to some Christian podcasts on the topic. Do more than just a couple of hours on Sunday. Christianity is not just a system of ethics for being a good person and then getting to go to heaven when you die. It’s a worldview that is meant to encompass and touch everything in your life. Many of us are sitting on a gold mine and living like paupers. There is far more for us if we will just take it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Unchanging Witness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: God and the Gay Christian? A Response to Matthew Vines

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

I recently did review Matthew Vines’s book and apparently, sometime I had purchased this response book so afterwards, I decided to read it. This one is decidedly shorter and written by multiple authors to deal with different issues. It would be my hopes that a work like this would engage far more with the issues than I was used to and bring out aspects of the text that I was not familiar with.

Unfortunately, I was wrong.

The book is really a basic response that looks more like saying “This is what the Bible says and Vines is wrong.” I do agree that Vines is wrong, but I don’t think a convincing case was made here. There were a few times when there were answers given, but for the most part, they weren’t there. This might be the kind of thing that would convince you if you were someone who was a strong fundamentalist and just needed some emotional reassurance, but when I check a book like this, I want to know how convincing this book would be if I put it in the hands of someone who holds the opposite viewpoint. Do I mean that they would find their minds totally changed by the position? No. There are no miracle books that do that, especially since all people think differently. Would it at least give them something to think about?

This one does not. The most worthwhile part I thought was the last chapter where it was written by someone in the counseling field and spoke about experiences talking to people who were struggling with homosexual temptation. I do think it’s important that those in the counseling field who have such experience speak out regularly, but that means the rest of the book dealing with the Biblical material was lacking. This leads to a problem in the church.

Too often, we are making a case to people and we are assuming our position right from the start and assuming that everyone speaks the way that we speak, and they don’t. We are not going to reach people unless we understand where they are coming from and why they hold the positions that they hold and just saying the Bible says something is not going to be enough any more because so many times, it’s the interpretation that is called into question as well. It’s not enough also to add in so often that the interpretation that is held is the traditional interpretation. I cannot help but think of when Al Mohler was on Unbelievable? and was debating Chris Date. Mohler was defending the more traditional viewpoint of eternal conscious torment. I agree with Mohler’s position, but his defense of it was abysmal by just pointing to certain Bible passages and assuming that his interpretation was unable to be touched.

I would have much more preferred to see something by Gagnon on this. Vines does not make a good case, I agree. Christians need to make a better one in opposition.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 1/17/2015: Peter D. Williams

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

We’re going to be continuing our look at abortion as expected this Saturday. Normally, we in the West in America tend to think about what has happened here in America. We are busy thinking about Roe V. Wade. This is important, but we are not the only country in the world. What is going on in another country? For that, we will have a discussion with someone who is across the pond, and that will be Peter D. Williams in the United Kingdom.

Peter D. Williams

Who is he? According to his bio:

Peter D. Williams is Executive Officer for Right To Life, the UK’s premier right-to-life charity and campaigning group. Peter works closely with the All-Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group (the legislators in the UK Parliament who campaign for the right to life), and engages in public debates in print and media for the dignity of all human beings.

A former atheist, who ‘reverted’ to Catholic Christianity, via a period of dissenting from the Church’s teachings during which he was also a radical supporter of legalised abortion, Peter also ‘moon-lights’ as a Catholic Christian apologist, arguing the case for the Gospel and the Church in the British media. He lives and works around London.

Admittedly, my main interaction with England happens to be listening to the Unbelievable? podcast, to which Peter D. Williams has been a fascinating guest to have on. They have had a number of shows on the topic of abortion, but I have yet to really interact with someone over there on the topic and find out what is really going on in the U.K. with abortion so like many of you, I will be learning as much as I can during this show. (That is a benefit of doing a show like this. It’s not just old hat stuff being talked about. It is a learning experience all throughout.)

We have the event of Roe V. Wade over here in America that is a landmark decision that changed abortion forever. Does the U.K. have anything similar? What is the general belief about abortion in the U.K.? Since the U.K. has a more nationalized system of health care, how does that affect the practice of abortion? Are teenagers allowed to get abortions without the knowledge or consent of their parents as can happen over here? What does opposition to abortion look like in the U.K.?

And also, we are told the U.K. is in a post-Christian climate. How does this affect the national attitude toward abortion? Does it say anything about where America could be heading? Do we have something valuable that we need to learn from those people who live across the pond from us?

I hope you’ll be watching your ITunes feed next week for this episode. Abortion is going to be our focus all month long on the Deeper Waters Podcast and I am sure Peter D. Williams will be a fascinating person to have on the show to talk about this important topic.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

A Response to Samantha Pugsley

Is it a bad idea to wait until your wedding night? Let’s dive into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I had an article brought to my attention a couple of days ago by a Samantha Pugsley who said she waited until her wedding night for sex and regretted it.

For some of us reading the article, it was hard to tell if it was serious or not. However, for all intents and purposes, I am going to be treating it like it really is a serious article and be telling where I think Samantha went wrong and why it is that the path she has chosen today is still the incorrect one.

“Believing that true love waits, I make a commitment to God, myself, my family, my friends, my future mate and my future children to be sexually abstinent from this day until the day I enter a biblical marriage relationship. As well as abstaining from sexual thoughts, sexual touching, pornography, and actions that are known to lead to sexual arousal.”

To which I say to an extent, good luck with that. Not saying that about the desire to make a commitment to God and keep yourself sexually pure. That’s all well and good. Yet there were extremes here. Avoid pornography. Yes. That’s not an extreme. Avoid any sexual thoughts or anything leading to sexual arousal?

Good luck with that one.

Certainly speaking for men, if we were to avoid everything that would arouse us, we’d probably have to hole up and be hermits and even then, I am sure we could find something. Sex is something inescapable in our culture, and it’s not just in a culture like ours that’s rather loose with sexual morality. Sex is just everywhere no matter where you go.

You see, wherever you go, you’ll find people. Those people, believe it or not, are sexual beings. Whether they’re virgins or not, they’re all either male or female. Why are all of them living and breathing today? Because at one point in time, a man and a woman came together in sexual union and that person that you see is the result of that union.

And avoid sexual thoughts? That’s too much of a legalism for anyone. You are going to think sexually. It’s not necessarily a wrong thing. How you deal with it could be, but you are made to think sexually. When you are dating someone also, you will be thinking sexually. You’ll be thinking about when you can finally get to see all that that person has to give you and enjoy the gift of intimacy with them. That’s normal.

So right at the start, Pugsley has taken an extreme stance and one that I don’t think any Christian should take. It’s part of the idea too many Christians have that sex is something dirty. Of course, in the same breath that they’re told that it’s dirty, they’re also told that they should save it for someone they love.

Pugsley goes on to tell about how she made her oath at ten, not even knowing what sex is, which tells me we need to do a better job with teaching our youth about sexuality early on. No. I’m not saying teach your 3 year-old about the birds and the bees. I am saying teach them some about how their body works and how they should respect it as well as the bodies of others.

The church taught me that sex was for married people. Extramarital sex was sinful and dirty and I would go to Hell if I did it. I learned that as a girl, I had a responsibility to my future husband to remain pure for him. It was entirely possible that my future husband wouldn’t remain pure for me, because he didn’t have that same responsibility, according to the Bible. And of course, because I was a Christian, I would forgive him for his past transgressions and fully give myself to him, body and soul.

Now naturally, I agree with the first part that sex is for married people. I have a number of friends who are single and who I think plan to marry some day and I do look forward to when they can experience this gift. Yet I wonder what kind of church it is that teaches you will go to hell for sex outside of marriage but that seems to apply only if you’re a female. Men have to stay pure also. Of course, there should be forgiveness if one person messed up before marriage, but both men and women should seek to keep themselves pure.

Also, sex outside of marriage is not the unforgivable sin. Making it a lifestyle does indicate that you are not a Christian, per 1 Cor. 6, but there are couples who have made mistakes and some of them are happily married today after finding the grace in Christ that they need for what they have done.

Once I got married, it would be my duty to fulfill my husband’s sexual needs. I was told over and over again, so many times I lost count, that if I remained pure, my marriage would be blessed by God and if I didn’t that it would fall apart and end in tragic divorce.

It is certainly true that a wife is to meet her husband’s needs. 1 Cor. 7:1-5 makes this abundantly clear. What Pugsley was apparently not taught was the reverse. The husband is also supposed to meet the needs of the wife. Paul is certainly talking about sexual needs here, although he would certainly include other needs a husband was to provide. In fact, the only reason for withholding was to devote yourself to prayer mutually and then come together quickly due to lack of self-control. This is a good word of wisdom to too many women in marriages who might be tempted to use sex as a weapon. If your husband doesn’t do what you want, then punish him by withholding sex! Sex is supposed to be an act of love. You are never to use it as a weapon. The same goes for husbands. If your wife is someone who really really wants a lot of sex (And if this is you, I can’t help but think that I agree with Mark Gungor when he said “On behalf of all men, I want to say ‘We hate you.’ “)  then you don’t use sex as a weapon on her either. The marriage bed is to be a place of peace and safety. It is not to be a weapon.

For more than a decade, I wore my virginity like a badge of honor. My church encouraged me to do so, saying my testimony would inspire other young girls to follow suit. If the topic ever came up in conversation, I was happy to let people know that I had taken a pledge of purity.

Believe it or not, this is problematic. It is good to be a virgin, but you are not a virgin for the sake of virginity. I have written on virginity elsewhere. As a married man, I am obviously no longer a virgin. I am pleased to no longer be one. But at the same time, I do think it is honorable if you are a virgin while unmarried because you want to save yourself for marriage. If you plan to never marry, then you must take lifelong celibacy and do so for a good that you consider to be greater.

What I would want to ask Pugsley is if she was seeing virginity as an end in itself. Virginity is not a goal. Virginity is a pathway to a goal. That goal is ultimately holiness. If you plan to marry, it is for saving yourself for marriage so you can enjoy sexual union with your spouse. If it is not your plan to marry, then it is for something greater, such as devotion to the Kingdom of God as in 1 Cor. 7.

It became my entire identity by the time I hit my teen years. When I met my then boyfriend-now husband, I told him right away that I was saving myself for marriage and he was fine with that because it was my body, my choice and he loved me.

Once again, I see the extreme. Virginity is not meant to be your identity. Christ is meant to be your identity. Still, I must say the man she was dating at least had the right idea. He respected her choice. I have also written on this elsewhere. Women need to realize they set the bar for how much they are worth as a woman and anyone who sets the price lower is your enemy essentially. They are cheapening not just themselves, but you and all other women.

We were together for six years before we got married. Any time we did anything remotely sexual, guilt overwhelmed me. I wondered where the line was because I was terrified to cross it. Was he allowed to touch my breasts? Could we look at each other naked? I didn’t know what was considered sexual enough to condemn my future marriage and send me straight to Hell.

At the start, I’m wondering why a six year wait. Some people like to wait for an education to be finished or to start a career, but if you’re someone who is burning, and it sure seems like they were, go ahead and get married. As readers of this blog know, my wife and I met and married in less than a year. We knew where we were going and we knew it quick. I have even been told that my roommate told a mutual friend when I got home from the first visit to meet Allie that they needed to start getting set to book a wedding chapel.

As for what would send you straight to Hell and condemn your future marriage, nothing. God can forgive and repair all things in your marriage. He can repair any damage that you do beforehand. You have to submit and that can be painful and it is a process if it is done, but it is still doable. I use the list of the 12 steps of intimacy and encourage dating couples to not go beyond #8. We never did.

An unhealthy mixture of pride, fear, and guilt helped me keep my pledge until we got married. In the weeks before our wedding, I often got congratulated on keeping my virginity for so long. The comments ranged from curious (how in the world did you manage?) to downright disgusting (I bet you’re going to have one busy wedding night!). I let them place me on the pedestal as their virginal, perfect-Christian-girl mascot.

Pugsley is certainly right that it was an unhealthy mixture. If virginity was all about her, she had a problem. I do wonder about the idea she has of downright disgusting remarks. What is disgusting about hearing you’ll have a busy wedding night?

When my wife and I got married, we had several members of TheologyWeb, where I debated and still do debate, come to our wedding. I understand that after the wedding, they all got together for a little mini-convention. I have often wondered what was said at that convention, but considering they were there for our wedding and there were guys present at the table, and some of them were married, I am sure some jokes about sex were flying around.

I would expect nothing less.

Sex is not a topic we should be hesitant to speak about. The fact that we are is a problem. It’s all God’s idea. It’s His beautiful creation and if you take the Bible seriously, you must admit that God has an awful lot to say in there about sex! He even has one whole book devoted to sex! Now I know we could say “It’s a beautiful allegory about God and Israel or Christ and the church.” Yeah yeah yeah. Let’s just say that upfront it’s a poem about sex and why not? God celebrates it. So should we!

Now of course, some comments can be crude and many of us know when they are, but not all of them are. We usually know when we have crossed that line. I remember years ago being in an AOL chat room where one lady said she was signing off because her husband was going to bed and was motioning that he’d like her to come up with him with a bunch of “ooooooooooooh”s following. Yeah. We all knew what was going on. It wasn’t crude. It was a knowing delight in fact.

I also have a good friend who I used to regularly tease her when she’d talk about having plans with her husband one time and she’d just say to me “Go and watch your Smallville DVDs.” In other words, get your mind elsewhere. It was a joke for us that we always liked to do. Now that I’m married, if she says something to me, I’ll say “Go watch your Babylon Five DVDs.”

In fact, we should be talking about sex regularly, not just in the humorous sense, but in the accountability sense. On Facebook, for instance, I have a group for Christian men to help us learn how to be better husbands to our wives and prepare those who aren’t married to learn how to better husbands in the future. We need to hold each other accountable sexually.

As we move on, Pugsley tells us some about her wedding night. There is nothing really explicit here, but then we get this.

Sex hurt. I knew it would. Everyone told me it would be uncomfortable the first time. What they didn’t tell me is that I would be back in the bathroom afterward, crying quietly for reasons I didn’t yet comprehend. They didn’t tell me that I’d be on my honeymoon, crying again, because sex felt dirty and wrong and sinful even though I was married and it was supposed to be okay now.

For a woman, I am given to understand this is certainly true. The first time will be difficult. This is one area we need to clear up. In some ways, Hollywood has the right message. Hollywood wants to show us sex as fun and glamorous and exciting. They’re right! We can complain that sex is all Hollywood seems to think about, but they’re just reflecting us. It’s on our minds constantly.

Unfortunately, Hollywood doesn’t pain other realities as well. I agree with Kevin Leman in his book Sheet Music that your first time is not likely to send you to the moon and back. That’s okay. You’re just getting started. The first time will be awkward, but then so will the first time you try to play a violin or ride a bicycle or do public speaking. You’re not likely to be an expert on the first time. You’re doing something you’ve never done before with no experience beforehand and add in that you and your spouse are both going to be really excited but also really nervous.

What can be done about this? First off, I cannot stress enough that women should be getting an examination from their gynecologist beforehand, preferably a few months beforehand, and be doing anything the doctor recommends. We men generally have things different. We don’t have the pain aspect, but I encourage men to find a man you can trust and talk with them before the wedding. I had a friend who helped me prepare regularly months before the wedding and at least one other man came to my apartment personally when it was just me there to talk with me about sex and what I could expect. I also find it helpful if this isn’t a close family member because that’s awkward, or even a future family member, such as your future father-in-law. I have in fact offered myself to men I know who are about to get married to be someone who will talk to them frankly from my experience.

And especially for men, take your time. Move as slowly as you can. You’ve waited for this and there’s no time limit. It’s a beautiful moment so do all you can to really make it last. Do you want to take a time like this and just get it over with as soon as you can, or do you want to take it and make it a pleasant memory?

And for both of you, try to get in a good meal beforehand together. It can be tempting to go straight from the wedding to the hotel. Try to get something to eat first. If you have to, just order a pizza somewhere and have it delivered so that you can have a good meal together. You might even want to consider getting a couple of protein bars.

Finally, get a good Christian guide. I already mentioned Sheet Music but there are others out there you can use such as Intended for Pleasure and A Celebration of Sex for Newlyweds. Be prepared for what you are doing. Listen to trusted mentors who have been there before you.

Now to get back to Pugsley, Pugsley writes about how she suddenly felt dirty, and this is a direct response to what had happened. She had treated sex as something dirty and that lightswitch cannot be flipped on and off instantly. You handle it right and you have no problem however flipping that switch. I always held sex was beautiful and when I got married and knew that I could to this freely now, that switch was extremely easy to flip.

Before we get to the next part, let’s look also at the point that I said Hollywood has right. The problem is Hollywood has the wrong context. The church meanwhile gives the right context, a marital relationship. They just often give the wrong message. That’s the one that sex is dirty. We need to outdo the passion we see in Hollywood and do so in the right context of Christian marriage.

When we got home, I couldn’t look anyone in the eye. Everyone knew my virginity was gone. My parents, my church, my friends, my co-workers. They all knew I was soiled and tarnished. I wasn’t special anymore. My virginity had become such an essential part of my personality that I didn’t know who I was without it.

And this again is part of the problem. I had no problem coming home after our wedding and yeah, everyone knew what we were doing. So what? I expect them to know. I expect them to know that things are different now. I have a wife and I’m going to enjoy the company and joy that she provides me, and that includes sexually.

Pugsley apparently put virginity before holiness. I suspect she did not really have a full idea of sexuality from a Christian worldview which is a problem in our church. We usually give only negatives about sex to our youth. I remember being at a Silver Ring Thing service where the pastor said if you have sex before you marry, it will be for selfish reasons.

Okay. That’s fine.

Then he went on.

“Think about what you will say to your future spouse one day. Think about the shame and guilt you will feel. What if you get pregnant? What if you get an STD?”

Those could be real, but all the while I was thinking “Hmmm. Sounds to me like those are pretty selfish reasons as well.”

In fact, the more he went on, I found myself getting bored.

If you can talk about sex and leave a college guy getting bored, you are doing something wrong.

One of my friends on Facebook once said the problem in our culture is we think too much about sex. That’s not the problem. The problem is the opposite in fact! We don’t think enough about sex! We dream about it. We fantasize about it. We joke about it. We even just do it! We just don’t think about it. As a Christian, I find thinking about sex and seeing it as a revelation of God makes me hold it in awe even more.

It didn’t get better. I avoided undressing in front of my husband. I tried not to kiss him too often or too amorously so I wouldn’t lead him on. I dreaded bedtime. Maybe he’d want to have sex.

When he did, I obliged. I wanted nothing more than to make him happy because I loved him so much and because I’d been taught it was my duty to fulfill his needs. But I hated sex. Sometimes I cried myself to sleep because I wanted to like it, because it wasn’t fair. I had done everything right. I took the pledge and stayed true to it. Where was the blessed marriage I was promised?

Pugsley’s story is really common actually. If you treat sex as dirty, you will also tend to view yourself as dirty. Pugsley also is getting only one side of duty here. She is not an object just for sexual pleasure and unfortunately, that can happen even in marriage. A husband can too easily treat his wife as just an object and this is something all married men need to watch for.

I let it go on this way for almost two years before I broke down. I just couldn’t do it anymore. I told my husband everything. My feminist husband was horrified that I’d let him touch me when I didn’t want him to. He made me promise I’d never do anything I didn’t want to do ever again. We stopped having sex. He encouraged me to see a therapist and I did. It was the first step on a long journey to healing.

Let me say this. Kudos to this man! This man I think did exactly what was right! When he saw a problem, he told his wife to get the counseling she needed and in fact made it clear she did not ever need to be forced to give sex. For any husband who is in this situation, I cannot recommend enough Dawn Jones’s book. For a wife loving a man with the same struggle, there is a book by Cecil Murphey for you.

I don’t go to church anymore, nor am I religious. As I started to heal, I realized that I couldn’t figure out how to be both religious and sexual at the same time. I chose sex. Every single day is a battle to remember that my body belongs to me and not to the church of my childhood. I have to constantly remind myself that a pledge I took when I was only 10 doesn’t define who I am today. When I have sex with my husband, I make sure it’s because I have a sexual need and not because I feel I’m required to fulfill his desires.

Unfortunately, there are too many that will fit into this category. Imagine that you’re a nominal Christian and you go to church regularly, but you don’t really get into it. Then you discover sex and it seems like sex contradicts your Christianity. Are you going to be willing to give up sex for Christianity?

If you have a nominal Christianity, you’re fooling yourself if you think so. Pugsley unfortunately has the right idea to an extent. Sex can be because she wants to and she has a need to fulfill and she does so as an act of love. Of course, I think there are times a wife can go along with her husband even if she’s not feeling it then. Halfway through, that feeling could change.

Pugsley should realize many of us are devout Christians and have no trouble reconciling our Christianity with sex. I don’t even like to say that because there’s really nothing to reconcile! Sex is again God’s idea. It is His creation and the reason why it’s a totally awesome time is that He created it to be one!

I’m now thoroughly convinced that the entire concept of virginity is used to control female sexuality. If I could go back, I would not wait. I would have sex with my then-boyfriend-now-husband and I wouldn’t go to hell for it. We would have gotten married at a more appropriate age and I would have kept my sexuality to myself.

I find this quite a puzzle. After all, why would men invent a story that says they are to wait until marriage to sleep with a woman? How is that controlling female sexuality? If anything, the teaching controls male sexuality since this is something that men tend to struggle with a lot more than women do.

Unfortunately, I can’t go back but I can give you this message as a culmination of my experiences: If you want to wait to have sex until marriage make sure it’s because you want to. It’s your body; it belongs to you, not your church. Your sexuality is nobody’s business but yours.

And as one on the other end, I am very happy I waited. I am thrilled to know that Allie and I go through life only knowing each other as sexual lovers. We know that we alone have exclusive rights to each other and that will be the case until death does us part.

Unfortunately, Pugsley’s article really doesn’t present a full Christian view, and I suspect it’s because she only had the veneer of one. You do not find Scripture cited or see what role God plays in your relationship or see what the impact of the life of Christ is to have on your relationship.

Pugsley is a reminder to us that we need to do better in teaching about sexuality to the youth of the church today. Let’s try to do that.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Gentlemen. We Are At War.

Is there a battle to win and a cost if we don’t fight? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Readers of this blog probably know by now that I quite like the church that Allie and I have found. I get a sermon that is intellectually satisfying while touching the heart as well. I wish I could say that this was the norm when it came to churches, but alas, I cannot. Too many churches have the congregations just getting some pablum so they can go home and at the end of the day feel good about themselves.

Christians. Take a look at the culture around you. Does it look like we’re really making an impact? Does it look like the church is being salt and light in this world?

If not, then why should we go to church and feel good about ourselves? If we are not obeying the Great Commmission, then we should be looking at ourselves with shame.

I have in fact reached the point where I want to go up to pastors and say to them “Please tell me why I should believe that Jesus rose from the dead.” There are two answers that are unacceptable for this one. Now there could be variants on how these answers are said but the answers are still the same.

“The Holy Spirit tells me that Jesus rose from the dead.”

“The Inerrant Word of God says Jesus rose from the dead.”

What’s the problem with both of these? In the long run, they both beg the question. You say the Holy Spirit tells you this? Fine. The Holy Spirit also apparently tells Mormons that the Book of Mormon is from God and that Joseph Smith is a true prophet. Do you believe that? Why should I think what you’re experiencing is the Holy Spirit and not something else? You could say “Well if you experience it, you know who it is.” Don’t you think the Mormons would say the exact same thing?

What about the latter? Now I do hold to inerrancy, but I hold to inerrancy as a conclusion and not a presupposition. You want to claim your holy book is the final authority. Fine. Muslims do the exact same thing. Why is it that I should believe what you say about your holy book but I should not believe what the Muslims say about theirs?

If all you have is your own subjective viewpoint for defending the resurrection, you will not last when opposition comes your way. When I meet pastors like this now I have a simple wish to make of them. “Get out of the pulpit. We’re in a war and we don’t need people like you dragging us down. Give your office to someone who deserves it.”

You see, too many pastors are acting like there isn’t a battle going on. They still have this idea that all Christianity is supposed to teach us is how to be good people. Christ did not need to come just to teach us ethics. The people of the day could have got that from the philosophers of their time. Christ came to bring about the Kingdom of God. Note that. Kingdom. How many people out there think that you could belong in a Kingdom and not care about what you were to do for the King but only think about what the King was to do for you?

There is a culture war that is going on here in America. If you want to deny this, then you are quite simply a fool. There is an active homosexual agenda that’s wanting to silence your voice on the public square. Abortion has been around for 40+ years and we have seen the lives of millions of innocent babies claimed. The new atheist agenda is spreading like wildfire through the colleges and your students are going to encounter it. Muslims would be delighted to bring Sharia Law here to America.

There is not a question any more of if we and our children will face opposition. We will. There is only the question of how we would face it.

Picture if you had a son or daughter who had to take a job somewhere where you had concerns about them walking to their car in the parking lot. What are you going to do? You might ask the police to keep a watch on the area, but the police can’t be there 24/7. What else could you do? You might want to say “I’ll give my children mace” or “I’ll enroll them in a class so they can carry a concealed weapon” or “I’ll have them learn karate.” Why? You want your children to have a fighting chance if they come against enemy opposition.

Picture your having a son who goes into the military. You receive word from his officers that they are about to fly overseas and go and fight the enemy. You ask if your son has taken any courses in combat to prepare for this mission and you hear “Nah. We don’t think that’s really necessary. We figure if we just give them a gun that they’ll know enough to be able to protect themselves.” I suspect you’ll be calling your Congressman or Senator before too long if that’s the case.

Yet we want to send our children into the lions’ den regularly and do so without giving them basic protection in apologetics?

There’s a word for that.

That word is “Stupid.”

Some of you might say “Well my children aren’t going to college.” Okay. College isn’t for every person, but this is happening in high school! Opposition will be there and not just intellectual opposition, but moral opposition. You want your children to practice a Biblical sexual ethic. What reason will you give them? If you just have them say “The Bible says so”, their friends in high school who are not Christians and are sexually active will be more than happy to clear them of their delusions on the Bible. If that takes place, do you really think your assurances will be enough to overpower hormones? How many of you would have had that work with your parents?

Some of you might say you will home school your children. Fine. Do that. Keep in mind this reality however. Sooner or later your children are going to leave home and go off into the world. Are they going to be prepared or not? If not, you are one who will be held accountable, especially the fathers. The fathers are the main ones in Ephesians 5 who are to raise up their family and the only ones said to give an account for how the whole family turns out. I’m not at all saying mothers are unimportant in this. Mothers are vastly important. Fathers in the Biblical teaching however are called to be leaders of their family and to raise up their children well. If you’re reading this and a father, imagine how you will stand before God and give an account of how you raised your children. If they’re not equipped and they fall away, what account will you give?

The reality is that we can win this battle. I think of a certain person in apologetics who recently said about my position to reclaim academia “How do you plan on doing that in a nation under the judgment of God?” How? Simple. One battle at a time. How dare we abandon our intellectual heritage and give it right over to the enemy! This is especially the case with NT scholarship where Christians should be at their strongest. We have too often let the enemy dictate how the battle will be fought. No more.

In other battles, when Christians do something, results happen. When Chick-Fil-A Day came, Christians went in droves to their Chick-Fil-A stores and set records in fast food sales for that day. When Duck Dynasty was pulled from A&E, Christians started on their own a boycott page and called their cable companies and canceled. Cracker Barrel had decided to not carry Duck Commander material. They changed their mind on that quickly when Christians spoke up! When Suntrust decided to pull away from some men who were in support of traditional marriage, Christians immediately began going to their Facebook page and letting them know their discontent and began pulling their accounts. Before a day had passed, Suntrust changed their mind.

Christians WON all of these battles.

The problem is not that the church cannot win battles. The problem is that the church rarely shows up.

I have too often seen churches deny the need for apologetics training. I will go to churches regularly and offer them to come and work with them. It will be of no charge to them whatsoever! I would be delighted just to teach. 99% of the time the answer is that they don’t really need something like that. I always leave a church like that realizing the pastor is just deluding himself. As one of my mentors once told me “The pastor will call you back when his son comes home from college and announces he’s abandoned his faith.”

When we encounter those who abandon their faith, it is normally for foolish reasons. Also, it can be because too much emphasis was placed on a secondary doctrine instead of a primary, the resurrection of Jesus. The two biggest offenders in this category are young-earth creationism and inerrancy. In both cases, when someone finds a reason why these are called into question and they no longer believe them, everything else crumbles like a house of cards. If inerrancy or young-earth creationism are made the foundation for the Christian faith, we are setting ourselves up to fail.

Make no mistake. We are at war. We cannot be just playing games and getting pablum at church and expect to be able to fulfill the Great Commission in this day and age. Here in America, we have the best means to equip our people. There is no excuse for our being unprepared for the battle that awaits us. IF we who have been given so much ability to learn and spread the truth fail with it, we will all give an account before God of how we did.

I can only end with saying what Joshua said for how he would decide. Choose this day who you will serve but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

In Christ,
Nick Peters