Some Thoughts On PornHub and Sex Trafficking

How should we view women today? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

A news story is out about the FBI looking into groups like PornHub for sex trafficking. For those of us who know something about the porn industry, that sex trafficking is involved is not news to us. It’s not to say that all women in the industry are victims of sex trafficking, but I have no doubt that some are.

So let’s talk a bit about porn and why it should be shut down.

Now in the past, if you wanted to look at pornography, you had to go somewhere secret and be discrete. You had to go to the magazine stand or to the video store and there was a chance you could be caught. Unfortunately, with the good of the internet came the evil of porn and then rule 34. That states that if it exists, there is porn of it on the internet. No matter how innocent you think something is, there is porn of it out there somewhere.

As I drive around Atlanta, I listen to talk radio. Everyday practically, I will hear a commercial about erectile dysfunction. It’s constant. Why is this? I always tell my wife the same thing. I suspect it happens so much because so many men have watched porn for so long that they can’t easily be aroused by a real woman. They only go with a fake one.

This is not to say that all causes of erectile dysfunction are due to pornography. Saying women in porn videos are fake is not to say they are not real people. It is to say that what is presented is a false idea of what women and sex are meant to be.

As a man in charge of a group for guys on Facebook who are Christian and married, engaged, dating, or hoping to date and marry, when I meet a man about to marry, I ask him if he would like to talk about what to expect. This is something every guy (And every girl) needs if they haven’t had sex before their wedding night. One thing I always tell them is to think back to what you have seen on TV and movies. Think back to all the sex you have experienced on there. Now throw it out because none of it is realistic at all.

In the movies and I am sure in porn, everything works flawlessly. There are no mistakes. There are no accidents. No one has to put down a towel. No one gives a touch that is not liked. The woman and the man have perfect ecstasy together and they both orgasm at exactly the same point and everything is wonderful.

Sorry. Real sex will involve trial and error for some time and you will always be learning.

So men get a false idea of what sex is.

Not only that, it leads to a consumer mentality of women. Women are objects just to be wanted for their bodies. The purpose of a woman is to parade before a man in all her naked self and let him glorify himself in her. On porn, the woman on the other end is irrelevant. You don’t have to know her name or care about her or do anything for her whatsoever. She is your servant entirely.

Now I am not at all knocking the idea that a woman is beautiful. I saved myself for marriage and when I see my wife’s body in all her glory I am utterly amazed and mesmerized. After nearly ten years of marriage, Allie is still the woman out there that totally turns my head. She is my great gift and I will jump at any chance I can to see her body.

That’s the way God made it too.

You see, the beauty then inspires me. If I want to have the joy of Allie’s body, I need to treat her right. I need to love her. I need to honor her. Now even if I don’t feel those things at the start hypothetically, which I think happens in arranged marriages, by doing those actions over and over, I come to love and honor her because it becomes habitual and habits change your thinking. For me, loving Allie is really second nature now.

I don’t go and say “I can’t see Allie’s body now for reason XYZ” and jump on to porn instead. That treats her body like a consumable good. I can say that when I see her body, I do see her physical form and I am amazed, but the beauty I see goes beyond the physical. It is not just her body in a transcendent way. It is as if I am seeing her. I am seeing not just her form, but I am seeing vulnerability and trust. I am seeing her. How she is to be with me and me with her is how we are to be before God.

Pornography will teach you that the purpose of the woman is to serve you. If you are married though, your purpose is to serve your spouse. Women are to seek to please their husbands, as so many husbands like to say, but husbands are to seek to please their wives. It doesn’t just mean doing something on Valentine’s Day or anniversary or birthdays or special events like that. It means doing something every day that you can. Believe it or not guys, it wouldn’t kill you to get out the vacuum cleaner every now and then.

Pornography cheapens the people in your life and will make it harder for you to love. In sexuality, it’s important to know what pleases you or else your spouse won’t know how to bring you the happiness they should want to bring you, but your main goal should be to please your spouse. Many a guy will say that despite the idea that sex is all they want, they are not really pleased with sex if they do not think they have pleased their wives. That is their real goal.

Now I realize that women also struggle with porn. This is not to diminish that, but as a man, it is easier to write to the men. The women can find their own parallels, but if you struggle with porn, please get help. Get an accountability partner. Get some software on your computer and other devices that can hold you accountable. Join a group like Celebrate Recovery and get some help. This will not be an easy battle, but it is worth it.

Remember on those videos also, that girl on there is someone’s daughter as well. She deserves to be treated respectfully and with dignity. Women, for you, please never lower yourself ever to win the heart of a guy. If you have to lower yourself, he is not worth it. You are worth more than that.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Is Pornography Beautiful?

If the human body is beautiful, why isn’t porn? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Last week was my debate. While I am pleased with it, I will leave it up to you to decide what you think about it whenever I get a link to it. Yesterday at church, someone who was there mentioned an atheist couple he was sitting near during the debate and when I made a remark about the problems of pornography one person of the couple said to the other, “That shows he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Pornography is beautiful.”

It might be easy to make a connection. The human body is a beautiful thing. Pornography is a display of the human body. Therefore, pornography would be beautiful. This makes sense. Right?

It does, but there are some distinctions to make.

Let’s start with the first point. The human body is a beautiful thing. Yes, indeed. I am married to my wife of nearly nine years and I can assure any guy out there that I am amazed by the beauty of the female body and think God did an excellent job when He fashioned the human female form.

So surely, if I am a great lover of the female body, wouldn’t I want more of that body? Wouldn’t I want to see more women like that? Wouldn’t it be a good thing to see more women like that?

That’s where we get to the differences.

For you guys out there who struggle with pornography (And I know women struggle, but I can’t speak from the experience of a woman), you’re really robbing yourself. To click a button on your mouse and bring up an image really requires nothing of yourself. There is no work in wooing a woman and winning her heart and earning her trust.

In a marriage relationship though, there is work. If one wants to have intimacy with the Mrs., one needs to be on good terms. This requires that you rise up and actually be the man and treat her the way she deserves to be treated as your one and only spouse. When that woman then shares her glory with you, there is really nothing like it. It is a message to her of not just showing you her body, but showing you her body is showing you how much she loves and trusts you and desires you.

Porn will also show you lies about sexuality. When I talk to guys who aren’t married and are about to marry and the question of sex comes up, I tell them to think to what they have seen in movies and television. Then forget every bit of it, because it just isn’t accurate. Most of the time, sex won’t take place like it will on the big screen. There will be mistakes and confusion and you can often put down a towel first. Watch a TV show and the only point of the dating relationship of a couple seems to be that they can have sex. Sex is a hugely important part of a married couple connecting, but it is not the only part.

It also won’t show you what a woman really wants because every woman is different. What will excite a woman one day might not excite her the next. Learning to love a woman involves adapting to change and coming to know each other better. In porn, there is no love involved.

You just see a girl on a screen. You don’t have to know her name. My concern for many men is it can instill cowardice in them in that they think that this is the best way they can get a woman and won’t go out there and do the work of getting a real woman. It will also instill in them a tendency to treat women like objects in their only purpose is giving them sexual gratification.

The human body is beautiful, but porn takes that sacredness of the human body and reduces them from being a person to being a body. Sexuality is something beautiful and it’s meant for a marriage union where the passion it has can be properly harnessed and used for the good of the couple together. Keep in mind also guys that if you are married and you do use porn, many times you could devastate the woman you’re with if she finds out. No woman likes to get the message that she’s insufficient to please you in the bedroom and you need to go and look at other women. I also suspect that many reasons I hear commercials around here for ED is so many men have got that way because porn has changed their body’s natural response system.

The human body is beautiful. Sex is beautiful in a marriage covenant. Porn is never beautiful. It is treating the human person like an object and degrading to the user and the performer both.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Saving Truth

What do I think of Abdu Murray’s new book published by Zondervan? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Murray is writing about a situation that I have thought for a long time has plagued the church. It is that we live in a post-truth society. Nowadays, the truth doesn’t even matter. How someone feels about a claim matters or how well it serves an end-game is what matters.

This isn’t the fault of the world alone. The church is also to blame. The church determines truths based on feelings just as much as the world does. I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard about doing something as you “feel led.”

There’s also the fact that Christians can just as easily spread false information. Last night, I had to deal with a family member who shared a news story that I could tell in less than a minute was false. Going further, I found that the website also held to the idea that 9-11 is an inside job. Yep. Real reliable source there.

I get greatly bothered when I see something like this happen. We have the job of trying to convince people that Jesus rose from the dead, a fact that they cannot check the veracity of immediately, but we will so easily share stories that can be easily seen as fake? Doesn’t that damage our witness of the Gospel?

Murray also writes about our misunderstanding of freedom. We think by freedom that there is a certain something that has no hold on us. That is true to an extent, but it like saying being literate means that you can decipher symbols in an alphabet. Yes, you can, but you need to able to do more. You read so you can learn much more that there is to learn. You read so that you can be a better person.

In the same way, you are free not to pursue whatever you want to do, but you are free so that you can pursue the good, the true, and the beautiful. You are free to live for something greater than yourself. Freedom is not about you get to do whatever you want, but you are free to do as you should.

Murray also talks about issues of human dignity, what does it mean to be a human? Do we treat human beings as objects more in this day and age? What about issues of abortion?

Issues of sex and gender are definitely on the stage. Murray begins this chapter with a question a woman asked in an open forum about Christianity and homosexuality. It dominates the landscape in this chapter as Murray keeps thinking about it. Murray deals with the purpose of sexuality and questions relating to transgenderism as well. What does it mean to be a man or a woman?

Murray also deals with questions of science and of pluralism. Both of these are issues that strike our epistemology. Science is seen today as the only way to truth. Pluralism is seen as rude and exclusive.

There are many issues discussed in Murray’s book. Each of them in itself is worthy of a book-length work. Murray’s book is a good look at these topics and often shared from the perspective of an ex-Muslim who had to realize that truth mattered more than anything else.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Beauty, Order, and Mystery

What do I think of Gerald Hiestand and Todd Wilson’s book published by IVP? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This book is about a Christian view of human sexuality based on a pastor’s conference on the topic. At the outset, I think it’s awesome that pastors are meeting among themselves and having serious talks on these matters. Now if only we could convince those pastors in the pulpit to start also talking about this material to their parishioners.

The book is a series of essays each dealing with a specific topic. Not just marital sexuality is discussed, but also homosexuality and transgenderism. How is the church to deal with these kinds of issues today? Each of the writings goes in-depth in making the case that it does.

Wesley Hill’s is one that I want to touch on. Wesley Hill is a celibate homosexual Christian who is an assistant professor at the Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pennsylvania. Hill wants to remind us that not everyone who identifies as a homosexual or someone on that spectrum has some innate hatred for Christianity. Many of them would like to be Christians. Of course, there are some that are anti-Christians, but we should not paint with a broad brush without knowing the person first.

Hill’s essay answers the question of who do homosexuals love. He argues against the idea that marriage should be redefined and then the answer is a really simple one. A homosexual should love their neighbor as themselves. Sex is not the only way to love someone as we all know.

Joel Willitts essay was especially moving as he deals with the dark side of sexuality. For him, it is more of a curse than it is a blessing and this is said even as he is a married man. Willits writes about being abused when he was growing up and how that has damaged his sexuality from that time forward. We should all realize that when we’re in the church, there are a number of people who have been hurt sexually.

Willitts takes a look at addiction and pain then and I shared many of his thoughts with my own wife. He suggests looking at addiction not so much as a curse, but more of an indicator that something is wrong. There is a problem that needs to be worked out. It doesn’t mean that you give in to the addiction. It means you see what it is pointing to and work on the root of the problem.

Daniel Brendsel also has a chapter on selfies and how the world lives in a day and age where we too often market ourselves and think that knowing someone on Facebook tells you all that you need to know. At times, the selfies have got so extreme that there have been a number of fatalities. The other dark side is that a lot of teenagers are doing what’s called sexting, where they’re sending sexually explicit photos of themselves. Of course, it’s more women who are doing this, but I think this is not because women are more perverted, but because women are by far, even to other women I don’t doubt, much more appealing to the eye.

This touches on pornography which is talked about a number of times. Pornography has damaged our culture so much that women can often think they have to do something like sexting to compete. Many men are no longer turned on by real women because they have been looking too much at fake women in pornography.

The book ends with Matt O’Reilly’s essay on what makes sex beautiful. I have to say that while I do agree with the great theology in the essay and he brought out aspects I had not yet considered, I found this one a bit disappointing. Yes. Sex is very theological, but why does the average man on the street think that sex is just so awesome and the woman’s body especially is so beautiful? It is not because he is thinking about theology, but because something in the sex itself beyond what it points to. I think this is something the church needs to seriously think about. What do people want when they want sex? They don’t want it just for the sex, but for some other reason, be it pleasure, intimacy, etc.

Regularly also it was said in the book that the church needs more than just a negative message on sex. We need a positive message. We give so many messages of do nots that we don’t give any messages of when to do and why to do. Our view of sexuality is extremely negative and we don’t embrace the joy and beauty of sex like we should.

Anyone who is interested in areas relating to Christianity and sexuality would be blessed by reading this book. Churches who have pastors who are addressing these topics are indeed blessed. In an age of extreme confusion about sexuality, hopefully we’ll heed the call to have more serious discussion and in our own marriages, more serious enjoyment of sexuality.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Deeper Waters Podcast 9/2/2017: Rebecca Lemke

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

Many of us tend to think in extremes. We’re either too conservative or too liberal. This happens in Christian circles as well. We either go all in with something that is wrong and join the culture, like many progressives, or like some conservatives, we go all out and practically avoid anything just because we don’t want to be thought of doing anything wrong and can easily create a guilt culture.

So when it comes to sexuality, we tend to think the same way. Many of our progressives have taken wrong stances. Pre-marital sex is okay! You can live together before you get married! Some even have no problem accepting the historical position of the church on homosexuality. Many of us realize that this is a problem.

Yet can we go too far the other way? Perhaps we can. Perhaps in an eagerness to rightly avoid falling into sin, the purity movement has gone too far. Of course, this is not to undermine sin. Sin is sin still. It is to say that maybe not everything we think of as sinful is. Maybe it could also be that if we do sin along the way, we are not ruined for life.

My guest this Saturday went through the purity movement and was greatly hurt by it. Today, there is no animosity towards Christianity or the movement itself as she continues to be a Christian woman encouraging other Christian women how to honor God and stay holy without being in the purity movement. Her name is Rebecca Lemke, author of The Scarlet Virgins.

So who is she?

Rebecca Lemke is the author of The Scarlet Virgins. She has appeared on The Federalist, Huffington Post, Iron Ladies, and To Love Honor and Vacuum, in addition to speaking on live radio about the topics in her book.

Many of you might remember the book I Kissed Dating Good-Bye, which was in many ways another book of the Bible for a lot of people. The author has since even admitted he could have been wrong on a lot of it. It’s easy to understand that sex before marriage is a big mistake, but even a kiss before marriage was viewed as a big mistake.

For many women, the ideas of maintaining purity meant you had to dress every way to avoid being desirable to the great big walking hormones out there known as men. It also meant that if you gave in and had sex before marriage, you were damaged goods. In the end, on your wedding night you would have nothing to give your husband. Women were not taught how to properly think about sex. It’s not much of a shock then that the wedding night can be awfully hard for some women as they have to somehow immediately flip a switch from off to on.

Guys don’t have as hard a time with that switch, but if there is something I think guys struggle with, it’s the question of lust. If a guy thinks a girl is attractive, is he guilty of lust? Is it wrong to ever think about sex? We have rightfully avoided much of the sins of progressivism, but we have often gone to the other extreme and turned into a guilt culture that I think Scripture never intended.

Join me this Saturday as we talk about the purity culture. How can young people stay “pure” without being part of the purity movement? How can we properly teach our youth about sex and sexuality? We don’t want to say anything goes, but at the same time, what boundaries should we be setting?

Be watching for the next episode and please do go on ITunes and leave a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 7/22/2017: Sam Andreades

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

Gender. What is it? Is it a social construct? Is it just this idea that culture has thrown onto us? Or could it be something that is an objective reality in each of us? Is there something really to being a man and something really to being a woman?

And what about our sexuality in response? Is homosexuality just another lifestyle, or does it point to a problem that a person has? If a homosexual man were to marry a woman, would he be living a lie? Does loving the homosexual mean that we don’t desire any change for them? Is that what acceptance is about?

I decided to bring on someone who really understands gender and sexuality. He also understands how this story plays out in the Bible. His book on the topic of gender and sexuality is one of the best I’ve read on the topic. His name is Sam Andreades and the book is Engendered.

So who is he?

According to his bio:

“Rev. Andreades is senior pastor of Faith Reformed Presbyterian Church in Quarryville, Pennsylvania, serving a congregation in what he affectionately calls The Shire. His previous pastoral work put gender issues front and center. He was pastor for ten and a half years of the Village Church in Greenwich Village, New York City, and is the founder of Higher Ground (originally called G.A.M.E. [Gender Affirming Ministry Endeavor]), a New York City ministry of Christian discipleship serving men and women with unwanted same-sex attraction. He went on to do a doctoral dissertation on emotional intimacy in Christian marriage in light of gender distinction, a qualitative study of men with a history of same-sex attraction and unions who are now in long time marriages to Christian women. He has counseled scores of engaged and married couples as well as church members in their relationships with one another.

Dr. Andreades draws on an extensive formal education in his teaching. He holds a B.S. in Geology & Geophysics with a minor in Biblical Studies from Yale University (1984), where he was awarded the Yale Geological Hammer Award for Thesis Research in sonic wave measurement through granite. He earned an M.Div. in Pastoral Ministry from Reformed Theological Seminary (2001), as well as an M.S. in Computer Science from New York University – Courant Institute (1997). Building on historical geography study at Jerusalem University College (2008, 2014) in Israel, he obtained a D.Min. in Urban Mission and Ministry at Covenant Theological Seminary (2013).  In 2015, he wrote a book, enGendered, to fill the need he saw to speak about gender as God’s gift. It is described on the “The Book” page of this website.  But most valuable is how he has brought this education to four decades of serious study of the Bible.

Sam grew up with three older sisters who have constantly challenged him in his understanding of what it means for him to be a boy. He has been married for twenty-six years to his wife, Mary K., whom he describes as the truest woman he knows, and without whom he says he could not do what he does. Together they have raised three sons and one daughter, and now have a daughter-in-law. Submission to the body of Christ has always been an important part of Sam’s Christian walk. As a member of a local church since becoming a Christian at seventeen years old, he has bonded to brothers and sisters in the family of God.

Being a Presbyterian pastor means ministering in relationship. It requires working closely with his session (the church’s board of elders), which affords Sam some of the most meaningful friendships of his life. Chairing the Shepherding Committee of his presbytery (a collective of local ministers and elders) in New York also afforded him important people-linking lessons. His favorite Bible verse is Luke 23:43, Jesus’ words to the thief on the cross. Sam hears through these words the Lord’s amazing forgiveness of Sam’s own sins.”

I hope you’ll be looking for the next episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast. I’m looking forward to this interview in getting to talk about marriage, gender, and sexuality. Please also consider leaving a positive review on the Deeper Waters Podcast.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Love By The Book

What do I think of Walter Kaiser’s book published by Weaver Book Company? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

There are some subjects that are often deemed too risque to talk about at church. One of those is sex. This is quite unusual since we have a whole book of the Bible dedicated to marriage and sex, which is, of course, the Song of Songs. Even in the past, it was considered something that you should be fully mature before you read the book. Some rabbis suggested waiting until you were thirty years old.

Kaiser thinks we need to look at this book again. We live in an age where the culture wants to redefine marriage and where sexual virtues are going out the window fast. The church needs to be living out what was meant by marriage. His contribution to this is to look at this beautiful love story in the Bible.

For many of us who read the Song of Songs, it can seem a bit disjointed. Who is saying what? What is going on? One of the first mistakes Kaiser wants us to move past is reading it as an allegory. Could we say in some ways it’s a story of the love of God and Israel or Christ and the church? Perhaps, but let’s not get so caught up in the allegory that we miss the non-allegorical reading, it’s a celebration of true marital love.

Kaiser also says the more historical interpretation has been to see it as a story. The story involves this beautiful little shepherd girl who Solomon sees one day as he’s touring his country and decides to take into his harem. He woos her with all the best that he has and the other ladies of the harem, the daughters of Jerusalem are all there. Everyone is stunned. This girl is not giving in to the king. Why? Because she is in love with her shepherd-boyfriend back home.

The story then becomes one of faithful devotion. The girl will turn down the allure of the king in order to be with the one that her heart truly desires. Nothing can destroy the passionate love that she feels for this man. In the end, Solomon decides to let her go. She is in essence “The one that got away.” He ends up writing this song, the greatest of songs, about this love of his who he failed to seize because she had sold her heart to a shepherd boy already.

Kaiser’s book is short. It could be read in an evening if one wanted to. It also is good for small groups as it has several discussion questions. The book is friendly enough that it could be read easily without causing much embarrassment. Each chapter has discussion questions that a group could discuss together. I think it would be optimal for a small group that consists of married couples to read this together and discuss the commitment that they have to their own marriage.

I have long been an advocate of the idea that if we are going to restore marriage truly to the church, we have to live it. A proper understanding of sex and marriage is something we really need for that. Kaiser’s book is something that is needed for such a time as this.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Openness Unhindered. Further Thoughts Of An Unlikely Convert On Sexual Identity And Union With Christ

What do I think of Rosaria Butterfield’s book published by Crown & Covenant Publications? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

We all know the story. A person lives their life struggling with sin and then, they come to Christ. They pour out their heart in repentance to Him and God forgives them and frees them from the shame of the past. No more are they hindered by the chains that kept them bound. They walk in newness of life free from the past temptations entirely.

Or…..maybe not.

In fact, a lot of people would wish that was the case. Sometimes some will be thinking that God betrayed them or lied to them. If we have become new creatures in Christ, why is it that the past is still an issue? Why do we not experience deliverance from all the struggles of the past? How can I be a new creature in Christ and still struggle mightily with a sin?

Rosaria Butterfield knows about this quite well. She had been a professor living in a lesbian relationship when a pastor gently responded to an article she wrote about the Promise Keepers. This pastor was a pushback to her, but also was not in her face. She, in fact, notes that the first time she visited him and his wife, they did not give her the Gospel or invite her to church. In fact, she appreciated that greatly.

She began studying the Bible on her own and in fact studying it as a postmodern. Romans 1 was quite a difficult passage for her, but one she could not escape. What if instead of gay pride, she was just really having pride? What if what she took pride in was in fact really a form of rebellion? The questions came at her fast and furious.

One day, she just reached her breaking point. She wound up admitting that God was God and becoming a Christian. From then on, she knew things had to change. Much of her book is about dealing with this. Indeed she did change. She is now the wife of a reformed pastor in North Carolina, but she has a heart for those who are struggling with many issues.

One of Butterfield’s key themes is identity. Our identity when we come to Christ and even before is not to be based on our sexual orientation, as the term is used. Our identity is greater than the people we are attracted to or share a bed with. One of her main points she wants to have raised is we should not use terms like “gay Christian” even when we speak of Christians who agree that homosexual activity is wrong and want to live a celibate life. Why take an adjective that describes a condition that the Bible refers to as sin and making it part of your identity just like Christian is in your identity? Taking it as an identity is in some way clinging to it and holding on to it, as if it’s something central to who you are.

She does realize that some Christians disagree with this and in fact, she has an example of that in the book. She talks about her friend Rebecca who still struggles with same-sex attraction. Butterfield makes an important point that for some people, sanctification does not necessarily mean being delivered from the sinful temptations. Heterosexuality is not the goal of sanctification, but holiness is and you can just as much be a sinner as a heterosexual as you can a homosexual. For some people, the sign of their sanctification could be living with these sinful desires and NOT giving in.

To the rest of us, she says part of the danger we have could be what she calls the gag reflex to homosexuality. We can describe homosexual acts as if to get the response of “ewww. Yucky.” What we end up doing can be saying “I’m so thankful I don’t do that!” or for those Christians who are struggling with same-sex attraction, putting thoughts in their heads. We can end up having a sort of superiority complex to the homosexuals who do this “shameful behavior.” Now I do believe the Bible describes it as shameful, but that is not because of something being gross. Our problems with a behavior should be with the moral status of the behavior and not the personal taste status of the behavior.

For an analogy, imagine a pastor at a church describing the evil of an affair. Rather than state that a sexual affair is an evil thing, he goes into great detail of a man meeting a woman at a hotel room and describing what goes on behind closed doors. Is he really helping anyone? No. We all know what goes on behind closed doors. If anything, most men in the audience are now suddenly having to deal with a temptation as they are having a fantasy play out in their minds.

Butterfield also stresses that for a Christian, life should be a life of repentance. We should be watching ourselves to see where we are falling short. Butterfield does write with the heart of a counselor. At times, sometimes the reformed aspect can shine through a bit brighter so if, like me, you don’t hold to a Calvinistic position, that can be difficult, but either way, those of us who don’t still do agree with repentance and we do still see God as sovereign even if we don’t understand how that works out.

She also stresses the importance of community. Community should be a way we come together and pray for one another and if anyone does struggle with unwanted attractions, they can find comfort in having people who will hear them. They might not be able to do anything beyond that, besides pray of course, but they can be listeners.

Butterfield’s book is a good one. If there was one area I would change, it’s that there is talk about dealing with unwanted sexual attractions and such, but at the same time, I always want to see that there is a positive message about sexuality. A true sexuality is something God gives us to enjoy and celebrate. It would have been good to have heard Butterfield’s thoughts on that.

Still, this is a book that will leave you thinking and hopefully get you more in tune with thinking about holiness. Repentance is a word much more on my mind since reading this. I also wouldn’t mind seeing more community as described by Butterfield and will definitely be watching to check for the gag reflex approach to homosexuality.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

An Open Letter To President Obama On His Advice To Schools On Transgender Students

To President Obama,

I heard the news as I was out doing some errands on Friday about your sending advice to schools on how to handle the transgender issue. Seeing as this is an interest of mine, I headed home and looked for your letter. It didn’t take too long to find it.

There is no doubt that there is a desire to help people who identify as transgender, but I am of the opinion that what you have done is not just unhelpful to them, but in the long run harmful. It is also not only harmful to them. It is harmful to the well-being of the American people that you are supposed to defend.

I know what it’s like for people to have a need to fit in. My wife and I are both on the autism spectrum with Aspergers. Now while I appreciate the benefits I have from it, I know that it can be difficult. I know that social situations can be a total mystery to us at times and there are times you want to speak in polite conversation but can’t seem to find the words to do so.

Still, while it is hard for us, we have to learn to overcome. We do not want society to pull down to our level. We want to be able to function as is. Now this is of course on an issue that is not heavily involved with morality, but what about something that is involved? What about especially if it involves something many of us take as a sacred aspect of ourselves, our sexuality?

There are several several people out there in this world who are hurting and they are hurting because of sexual trauma. They are hurting because someone touched them or acted otherwise sexually to them in an inappropriate way. We live in a culture of divorce being rampant and children consistently being born out of wedlock because sex has been put on the level of a game you just play with someone, no commitment required. Let’s face it. Sex is a big issue in our culture today, as it is in every culture.

When I look at your proposal, I see it opening the doors wide to much more trouble. It looks like you have what is believed to be a problem and have given a solution that is worse than the problem itself. Now as I speak on this, I want to be certain of some points.

I do not think that the large majority if not the entirety of transgender people are perverts. I do not think they want to get into the bathroom with someone of the opposite sex and do whatever they want with them. I also think they honestly believe that they were born the wrong sex and I honestly think that that is a problem that we must deal with. I think the mistake you’re making is that you’re wanting to change reality around them instead of changing the thinking within them. It’s forcing every single one of us to go along with it as well.

At start, I wonder what makes you think you can make a statement like this to schools without working with Congress? Shouldn’t this be put forward also for the American people to decide on? Do we not have that right also? You see, these are public schools. They’re not just your schools. They’re our schools. They are the schools of we the people. They are the ones that our children go to and we have a right to speak on what is going on in them.

When our children go to school, we want them to learn subjects like the three r’s. We do not want them to learn that which is a highly debatable position. We want the schools to be able to reinforce the moral guidance that is found in the home and to uphold the right of parents to educate their children on moral issues and not have it be state vs. parents.

Unfortunately, your statement is already a line drawn in the sand and I wonder what will happen when the American people really see what is in it. Now to be sure, I have read it. I believe in being a thorough researcher in that regards and I was greatly troubled by what I read in it.

You start with terminology and this is a good idea. I appreciate that you defined your terms right at the outset, but even here I see a problem. For instance, in gender identity, you refer to a student’s internal sense of gender. You say it may be different from the sex assigned at birth.

I’d like you to think about that saying. “Sex assigned at birth.” Do you really think that’s what happens? Do you think that a child is born and the doctor has to really think hard on the decision of if to call the child a male or a female? Do you think they just flip a coin and decide? No. It’s really easy to tell if a child is a male or a female 99.99999% of the time. You just take a look at what’s between the legs. Most of the time we don’t even need that. Due to our advanced science, we can see the genetic makeup of a child so we can tell what disabilities a child can have beforehand as well and know the sex without ever seeing, but if someone didn’t see, there would still be no difficulty. You do not assign a sex when a child is born. You discover what sex they are.

That should be what tells you what sex a child is, but instead, you want to look at what’s going on inside of them internally. Here’s the problem with that. A lot of us can feel things about ourselves that are dead wrong. Have you ever talked to someone who is suicidal? They have a strong internal feeling that life is not worth living and that they are a burden on society and there is no hope for them at all. Of course, there are a 1001 ways you can change that statement for suicidal people to describe their moods, but they really believe it. They believe it so much they seek death to escape it. Are you going to tell me that that feeling should be given authority?

There are a host of other beliefs out there that we do not need to do tests to see that they are false. Consider Cotard’s Delusion as my favorite example. In this case, the person believes that they are dead or that they don’t exist. Now can you imagine a situation where a person goes into a psychiatrist’s office and tells them “I really believe that I am dead” and the psychiatrist saying “Well let’s do some evaluations and look at the data and see if you really are or not?” He might say it in the sense of playing along, but he won’t say it in the sense of “That’s a really good question. Let’s see if the objective truth is that you’re dead.” No. As soon as the person walks into his office, the psychiatrist knows that the person is not dead.

The feeling is in this case, pardon the pun, dead wrong. Many of us know that feelings can be awfully flighty in school. Look. We don’t trust students to bring cough drops onto school grounds without a doctor’s position. Many students have a major decision trying to figure out what they’re going to wear in the morning. Despite that, we’re supposed to trust their internal feelings that tell them they’re really one sex when all the empirical evidence shows that they are another?

Why is it that feelings should be given that kind of level of infallibility? Furthermore, are you going to tell me that everyone who is born a male but feels like they’re a female is right? How can this be? What tests would you take to determine if the person is truly male or female and not just having a delusion? How could you at the end of the day say “Well, I realize you have a male body and male DNA but yeah, it looks like you’re really a female.” What are we teaching our children? Do you really want to teach them that their feelings have that much authority?

Now you speak also about Title IX. The problem is I’ve looked at Title IX. You can search all through there and you will search in vain for something that speaks about gender or gender identity. It’s just not there. This means that something has been added to the law afterwards and now is being the basis of a new statement. It’s being made up as we go along.

It gets worse. You say that “under Title IX, there is no medical diagnosis or treatment requirement that students must meet as a prerequisite for being treated consistent with their gender identity. In fact, you say requiring them to obtain such could be a violation of Title IX. In other words, students can get to say they have this and they do not need to provide any evidence whatsoever for it. A teacher won’t believe a dog ate the student’s homework without some evidence and won’t give a student basic medication without evidence from a doctor, but something as complicated as sexuality is to be handled without any evidence save the student’s say so?

Are you serious?

You also speak of a safe and nondiscriminatory environment. Unfortunately, this is one where students, staff, and parents do not go along with someone’s claim to have a different gender identity. Is that not discrimination in itself? I am someone who says that that is a false belief. Are you telling me that I must go along with a belief that I consider entirely to be false? How is that not discriminating against me?

Furthermore, if we talk about safety, a lot of women live in fear of something happening to them. Again, this does not necessarily mean they live in fear of transgenders. They live in fear of any man. If there’s a place a woman should feel safe, it is in the bathroom or a place like a locker room.

Look President Obama. You have daughters. You have a wife. You should know this. A woman’s body is a sacred and beautiful thing. Would you like to have your wife or daughters have to shower next to another man in a locker room because that man identifies as a woman? As soon as they object, they can be accused of discrimination. I understand your daughters are in a private school. Would you be willing to put them in a public school where they could have the potential of having to shower next to a man in the locker room? If you’re convinced this is a good policy, I’d like to see if you’d be willing to do that.

I do have a wife as well and her body is sacred and I don’t want anyone else of the opposite sex seeing her body like that. I don’t care if they identify as a female or not. My wife’s body is something sacred to me and I should be the only man who gets to look at her body. (Barring some medical emergency which I hope never happens.) You talk about the feeling of safety of transgender people. What about the feelings of safety of the far more numerous people who are not and who feel particularly vulnerable? Do they not matter?

If parents think this is an exaggeration, it is not. When you talk about sex-segregated activities and facilities, you say these must be altered for transgender students. Keep them open, but allow transgenders to participate. How many people know how far this goes?

You start with restrooms and locker rooms. Now let’s be sure of something. There are many people, particularly boys, who would like to take advantage of this kind of law. Knowing they don’t have to provide any evidence makes it far easier since they could sue at any time if they don’t get their way. I’m sure you know as well as I do that men really like to see naked women and if you’re a young man, that’s a whole new world that you’re eager to explore.

So picture this scenario and it’s not too hard to do. A group of guys get together and challenge one of them with a dare to identify as a female and go into the women’s locker room and shower with them. In fact, many times bullies will get a naive young man to do something like this at the threat of him not being including in the group. This is how bullies get good boys to do something illegal even. So what’s this boy going to do to get included? He’s going to do just that. Many young boys will do this without any prodding from the group. They’re in a strong mood to see naked women that day and it’s worth it.

Do I need to remind you also that this is the age of the internet? A picture can be taken quite easily and before too long, it goes all over. After all, this young man wants to prove that he made it. How will he do it? Easy. He’ll send pictures. These pictures can go all over the internet and the victim can be entirely innocent. That can affect them later in their life with their college education and their marriage. Sometimes, this can even lead to suicide.

Are you aware you are opening the doors up for this?

I realize that some aspects can be set up for the privacy of students, but it won’t last. That can easily be seen as discrimination. Why not? You’ve opened the door wide for it. You do have stipulations in here about fraternities and sororities and overnight housing, but how long can it last? You’ve already opened up Pandora’s Box.

I want to be clear on something else. I say all of this as a follower of Christ in the Christian faith, but I don’t need to be a Christian to back this. This doesn’t require the Bible. This just requires common sense. At the same time, you have claimed to be a Christian many times. I would like you to really ask if you would stand before God someday and be able to say that you did this and you think this is a decision that He would honor.

You see, you have been given a great responsibility. Few people in history get to essentially be the leader of the free world. What have you done with that? Will the world be a better place because of what you did or will it be a worse place? Are our people growing in virtue and character or not? I contend that when we see the results of your actions here and see the fruit that sprouts from these seeds, we will realize what a drastic mistake it was.

Now you can say that this letter is just advice, but that’s like saying all the IRS is doing is giving us advice on how to spend our money. All the police do is give us advice on how we should behave in society. When stipulations are tied to the advice not being followed, it is not just advice. It is something else. The question is is it a right something else or not. In this case, it is not. This is something individual states should get to decide and something that parents should definitely get to have a say-so in first. This isn’t about your children since they don’t attend these schools. This is about our children since it is them who attend these schools.

At this point, my honest “advice” to parents would be to clear out. If this is what you want public schools to be, then parents should have no part of it. If they cannot afford private school, let them homeschool. In fact, if you want a social experiment, let’s have a real one. Let’s have students raised under your system and let’s have students raised by parents. Let’s see who does better in life overall. Who has more students completing college and succeeding in the workforce and having successful and happy marriages and lives overall? I’m quite confident it will be the side of the homeschoolers.

I love this country, but I do not love what it has become and what it is becoming. It looks more and more like we are becoming a “Look at me” and “anything goes” society and calling it progress. The ultimate form of progress is not how much knowledge we really have, even though it isn’t, but about the character of our nation. People come to this city on a hill looking for freedom and to pursue the American dream. The more control that is had over them, the less likely they are to be able to have those. Already, this is taking away some of our freedom. How much more will be taken away?

If you really want to help people who identify as transgender, and I think you should, the best way is not to go along with the belief but actually question the belief. Why do you feel this way? When did it start? How is life for you with this? Enabling is never a helpful path to go and not only are you doing that, you are forcing all of the rest of us to do it.

I want a society where all of us can be free to excel and do our best and the more we hold beliefs that are false, the less likely we are to be able to do that. There are some beliefs no doubt we can debate on as these are serious issues that have been debated, but there are some that we really do not debate. The identity of someone as male or female is one of those and has been obvious from the moment of birth. You are instead placing the full authority in the ideas instead of in the reality.

When you go against reality, reality will push back hard. There will come a breaking point and the consequences with that pushback are severe. I only hope that we wake up before we get to that point and stop the downward slide we are on as a society. I fear there is a painful crash waiting at the end.

For now, it’s in the hands of the American people. Again, my advice is they not take part in this dangerous game. You want to say how our children will be raised? We have more say so there and it’s time we acted on it. If every American who views this as I do, no matter their religious persuasion or lack thereof, would pull their students from the public school system, I wonder how different that would be.

I hope you’d really consider and think about what this could mean for our nation. These are the lives of our children that we’re dealing with. Unfortunately, I have no hope that you will. The one who said “I won” is not likely to listen to a contrary opinion.

A concerned American,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Sexuality in the New Testament

What do I think of William Loader’s book published by Westminster John Knox Press? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

William Loader is the scholar in the world who has probably written more on sexuality and the Bible than anyone else. Naturally, the Bible talks a lot about sex. Is it because the Bible is a perverse and dirty book as some would say? No. It’s because people talk about sex a lot and it’s a dominant feature in our society just like it was in the ancient world. Loader aptly gives us a warning on page 5.

“Sometimes wanting to know becomes impatient to the point of jumping too quickly to conclusions or filling in gaps with fantasy instead of coming to terms with the limits of our knowledge. Particularly in dealing with matters of sexuality it is not uncommon for people to become deeply involved emotionally in wanting, indeed, needing texts to say certain things which would reinforce or confirm their own beliefs and attitudes. This can happen from many different angles, both from those wanting to affirm what some might see as conservative positions and those wanting the opposite.”

This is a major point worth stressing. Many of us today want the Bible to side with us. Now we could take a totally foreign approach and say the text has no real meaning, but this is problematic as we should not approach any text this way. Could it be difficult to know what the author meant to say sometimes? Sure. There are matters open to dispute. Sometimes it isn’t and with many of these texts, I think the meaning is clear.

The first place Loader starts with is the texts on homosexuality. Loader looks at the various interpretations of all the texts in the debate and frankly, comes down on a conservative side, and this after looking at what most scholars are saying. This does not mean necessarily he agrees with that. I find it hard to tell frankly, but that’s a strength of Loader’s work. It’s hard to know what bias he himself might bring to the debate and frankly, I can understand much better if I encounter someone who says “Yes. This is what the text means. I just disagree.”

Loader also deals with some of the revisionist ideas such as the idea that the Centurion’s servant is a homosexual lover or that the Beloved Disciple was involved in a homosexual relationship with Jesus. These are times where I really think the homosexual reading is grasping at straws. As Loader indicated above, you can read anything into a text if you want to. We must all be looking to ask “But what does the text mean?”

Loader goes on from there to talk about marriage itself and what the Bible has to say about it. He interacts with ideas of polygyny as well and notes that it was limited, although the Damascus Document was pretty hard on it. Loader thinks this could be a minority position. Of course, polygyny would also be costly so few people would do it. Loader goes on from here to talk about issues of divorce and remarriage and pregnancy and child birth. Naturally, Loader will also touch on the household codes found in Ephesians and Colossians. He rightly states that the way the husband is to act to his wife still is the way Christ does for the church, which is loving and not violent or exploitative.

From there, we move on to adultery in the Bible. Many of the texts are quite clear on this and the idea is that sex is to be between a man and a woman in the covenant of marriage. I was pleased also to see a talk about what lust is in the discussion. I do think the command to lust is speaking about another person’s wife, which makes it a form of covenant, but I think it can also mean an excessive desire, a desire that dehumanizes the person and makes them only an object of sex. After all, today if a man and a woman are dating, it is not a problem I think if the man has sexual desire for the woman. He ought to. If he does not desire her, he has problems.

Now some will wonder about spiritual adultery. What does that mean? Looking at another woman with lust. Frankly, I like what Robert Gagnon said at a talk he once gave on a podcast about this where he said “If spiritual adultery is grounds for divorce, every woman could divorce a man on her wedding day.” Lust is something to be avoided to be sure, but let’s not be extreme in saying everything is adultery. Actual physical adultery is worse.

There’s a lot in the book that is covered and yet it is a short read. If you want a good lowdown on what the New Testament says about sexuality and scholars on both sides, you owe yourself to check out Loader’s work.

In Christ,
Nick Peters