Bullying And Suicide

Is the question of suicide missing a deeper issue? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Last night I finished reading Holy Sexuality and the Gospel. There are some books I don’t review because those are schoolbooks and I will likely need to write deep reviews of them later on so I just choose not to. The author, Christopher Yuan, is someone himself who has same-sex attraction.

At one point, he talked about the idea of disagreeing with same-sex attraction being okay leads to suicide. This is also something we have heard from the transgender movement where even doctors tell parents that if they don’t do this, their child will kill themselves. It’s hardly a good position to put anyone else in.

Now perhaps I am just old school in my thinking, but I have this idea that the person responsible for what any person does is the person themselves. If a politician, left or right, says something hard about the other side and someone else goes shooting, the person responsible is the person who did the shooting.

So it is that when it comes to suicide, who is responsible? It is the person who does it. Suppose that as depressed as I was, and sometimes still am, after my wife left me, that I had killed myself. Who was responsible for that? I would be. Not her. Now we could say she was an activating factor and perhaps that is so, but the final decision comes down to me. I bear the responsibility.

So as I was reading this part of the book I was thinking that we are missing something in this. We are saying we must not do XYZ or else X will kill themselves. Instead, wouldn’t a better question be, “What has got us to the point in our culture where so many people think the best option is to kill themselves?”

Suicide is always to some degree a tragedy. I say to some degree because someone could say “Well, didn’t Hitler kill himself?” He did, and yet is it not still a tragedy to see not only the evil that he did with his life, but in the end he wasted it and ultimately turned his evil on himself? That’s still tragic. He could have done so much good with his abilities of persuasion, but he let darkness rule over him instead.

I have never been a supporter of the anti-bullying crusades. Is it because I favor bullying? Not at all. It is because I think they are wrongheaded. We are trying to deal with the problem on the end that we have less control over, the people who don’t care about right and wrong. Why not go and help the people who are likely to be victims and build them up?

We often tell our children such lies as “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” We all know that’s a lie. We know it because words have been hurtful to us. I wager that everyone reading this blog can think back to some painful words that have been said to you, even words by total strangers. I have had hurtful words said to me by strangers in Final Fantasy XIV even.

Now we can say those words only hurt if you give them power. Yes. That’s true. We can say such people should not have power over you. Yes. That’s true. However, it does take a lot of work to get to a healthy place with that and those words do sting.

Somehow, I wonder if it is because of the self-esteem movement. Perhaps if it has not been done, if someone were to look and see the rate of suicides going up in the world and especially in the West where self-esteem has been the rage, to see if there is a correlation.

We have come to this idea that it is bizarre if not everyone loves us. Well, why should they? Picture any famous person you greatly admire. Are they loved by everyone? No. Not a bit. That even includes Jesus Christ, who was so loved by His people when He walked the Earth that they crucified Him. If you’re a Christian, it’s extremely prideful to say you’ll do better than the Son of God.

Now is it a problem when people in the LGBT community commit suicide? Of course. However, what is a deeper problem is this idea of “If you do not affirm me every way I want to be affirmed, I will kill myself.” Why have we raised people to let the opinions of others hold such sway over them to that extent? We have a society that constantly needs approval from everyone else.

If someone is in a position of saying “If you do not do what I want, I will kill myself” that whole attitude is a problem. Imagine if I had said to my ex before she left, “If you don’t stay with me, I will kill myself.” That would be a major problem. That would indicate a great flaw in me that needed to be fixed. She could stay with me out of mercy and/or guilt, but what would still be there? The underlying problem that led to that need that would remain unfixed.

So you could go and affirm someone’s relationship or you could give them surgery to transform their bodies, but what is the same still? The underlying issue. If anything, you have just put a bandage on it. Not only that, if they get what they want and they are still unhappy, they are likely in a far worse place because then they will be much more prone to think there is no hope for them.

The problem is that I don’t see anyone talking about that issue. We’re talking about making people happy, which is subjective and fleeting by our definition of it, but we’re not talking about why they are unhappy in the first place. What is missing in their lives? What is missing in the lives of so many people today that they feel such hopelessness?

This is a deep issue and it won’t go away with one blog post or be answered with one. This is something for the sociologists and psychologists to study. However, when confronted with someone who says that if you do not do X, they will kill themselves, the best thing to do would likely be to walk along side them and ask them why they feel that way. Why is it that what you say or do means so much to them?

We live in a society of what is said to be empty selves. As a Christian apologist, I conclude it is because we have moved away from God and nothing else can fulfill to that extent in our society. If you disagree, then you really need to point to what can fulfill and what makes life worth living overall. Why do we not want people to kill themselves? Why should they not want to.

These are deep questions and even if you disagree, a pat answer won’t help. If you do agree, just saying God isn’t enough either. We need more about why He is the answer and who He is and so much more.

Simple? No. Reality rarely is though.

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

Government Won’t Change The Culture

How do Christians win a culture war? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Imagine the picture in the society. Committed Christians are a small minority in the population. Most people are involved in movements that are often highly religious, but are not Christian, and don’t care about traditional Christian values. Christians are seen as crazy because of the opinions that they hold on their doctrine and their practice. The government is actively working to silence thoughts that are critical of them. Immorality is at a high and there are numerous cases of sexual immorality all taking place.

Yes. Yes. This is the state of America today.

America? I was talking about the Roman Empire in the time when Christians first came about.

However, there are a number of parallels to our Christian society today. We could say there are a number of parallels to any Christian society anywhere. There are parallels to Christians in China. There are parallels to Christians in Muslim nations.

Let’s look at the first Christians. Now it is true that eventually the government did become Christian, but until then, what did the Christians do? Did they sit on their hands depressed and give up because the overarching government presence wasn’t going their way normally? No. Now this is not to say that the Christians did not appeal to the Roman government at times and stand up for themselves. There is no wrong in that.

Actually, Justin Martyr did just that writing letters to the emperor explaining Christianity. There are at times you read the letters and think with the way Justin talks to the emperor that he is being either incredibly brave or incredibly foolhardy. Still, he was making a case for the Christians.

Ah. But the Roman Empire didn’t have mass social media to deal with either!

And they also didn’t have it to use. Can you imagine what Paul would be doing today with podcasting, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and everything else? No doubt, he would be banned in a lot of places, but he would still be producing material. A Christian in Rome could not immediately communicate with one in Egypt. All travel would be long and arduous. As much as internet and the media can be a hindrance, use them properly and they will be gifts.

Still, as we look at what happened to change the society, it wasn’t a top-down approach. We in America often seem to base our hopes on how the elections go. Now I am not at all saying elections are unimportant. By all means, vote for the best leaders that you can, but if you do not win those elections, it does not mean all is lost.

You know who are really making a difference in our culture right now?

Parents. Parents going out and complaining to their school board about what is going on in the classroom. These people are taking the stand. We live in a country where we have a document of some importance that says “We the people.” It does not say “They the government.” We The People have the power.

Of course, I am not advocating violence at all, which I sadly have to say or else someone is going to say I want that, but I am advocating that we stand up for ourselves. Run for school board. Run for office. Organize together.

When Duck Dynasty was removed from A&E and then from Cracker Barrel, Christians united. They formed a Facebook page, got unified, and cancelled their services with these companies until they relented. When leftists went after Chick-Fil-A, we had Chick-Fil-A Day and sent their sales soaring for that one day. We showed what we could do with our people and what did we do with these great results?

Nothing. Not a thing.

The homosexual and transgender community are a far far far lesser percentage than Christians are and yet they get more and more of what they want. Why? They speak up. They protest. They make noise. They use the media well. They know how to interact with the culture.

We don’t. If anything, we think by not speaking up and not being judgmental, we are being meek, like Jesus. Jesus was meek, but not the way we think of it. Meek people the way we often think of them are not worth being crucified. Jesus was enough of a counter-cultural force that they had to give Him the ultimate death penalty to silence Him.

Learn to say no. Learn to be unified. Don’t like what’s going on? If you’re a Christian parent, meet with several other Christian parents. Use social media and meet across the nation. Show up at your school board and let them know you’re angry. Write to your senators, congressmen, etc. Let them know where you stand. Honestly, we could learn a few things from the LGBTQ+ community.

Do you want to boycott a company? That’s absolutely useless unless it is unified, like it was with the push to get Duck Dynasty back. Form groups like Facebook pages and get millions joined in and protesting. Get recognized. Let people know you’re out there and you refuse to be a pushover.

Then take your Christianity seriously. The early Christians did. When a plague came, most everyone else fled. The Christians stayed behind and cared for the sick, unknowingly building up an immunity for themselves in the process. One of the most radical things you can do is authentically live Christianity.

Be someone of upright and pure character. Shun pornography and speak out against that industry and live a chaste and holy life sexually. Don’t be someone greedy and give generously. Care for those around you who can’t care for themselves. It’s a shame Christians are more often known for what we stand against, rampant immorality, than who we stand for, Jesus Christ.

And yes, that means study Christianity and take it seriously. Really learn about what you believe and why. Christianity can’t just be a hobby, but it has to be something you take seriously.

Christians overcame in the Roman Empire and that lasted for a long time.

History can repeat itself.

Save the culture. Be Jesus to it.

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

Divorce And Rejection

On what level is divorce experienced as rejection? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I was talking with a good friend of mine over the weekend about divorce and rejection and I figured this would be something good to write about. Divorce is a form of rejection indeed, but there is a deeper sense of it than any other kind that I know of. Divorce is a rejection that stings every day.

I understand being rejected by the opposite sex. That happens, and it stings, but the worst part of this rejection is that in this case, you have given everything you have to a member of the opposite sex and made a promise to honor them and have been living it out and you still get told it’s not enough. This is not to say there are not times where divorce can be a sad necessity, but this is talking about people like myself who strived every day to honor our vows.

I remember being in DivorceCare and hearing a girl say “Well, when the person who made a promise to you to honor and cherish you always breaks that promise, other rejections really don’t bother you.” Good for her, but I was on the opposite end. For me, every rejection reminds me of that one.

It is something that remains with you every day. I had an interview for a scholarship opportunity here over the weekend and in talking about it since the man wanted my story, and he told me if I wanted to know who all tends to hate divorce the most, the answer is simple. Divorced people. He’s absolutely right. We hate it.

Rejection is painful because you are being told you are not up to quality in some way. It hurts to the degree that the person has a place in your life. If it’s someone you have a crush on and ask out and they say no, it will hurt to the degree that you put a certain amount of hope in that person. If it’s a parent or family member, it will hurt to the degree that you wanted to have a good relationship with that person.

A divorce hurts you to the degree that that relationship meant to you. Considering it’s someone that you, if you’re in a Christian marriage, made a promise to God and man to honor forever, it can hurt all the more since this is the last relationship that should have ended. It was entered in freely with a promise and it has become shattered.

Peter Kreeft has said divorce is like a suicide and a murder at the same time. You take the one-flesh union that has been built and you kill it. It is destroying another person, the other one in the covenant, and yourself as well. Of course, it’s up to the parties involved how they choose to live from that point on.

For all concerned about me, as I said in the interview, I am still playing to win. It’s why I’m still looking to remarry again someday. It hurts every day, but it’s up to me if I am going to have the hurt conquer me or if I am going to conquer it. I have deliberately chosen to do the latter. My writings on this are mainly to let others know what it’s like and to encourage those in this situation.

When you talk to people who are divorced or going through it, remember what you say. The only people who really understand it are the ones who have gone through it. Others can have compassion, but it will be one that doesn’t see what it’s fully like through no fault of their own, and hopefully, they never will see it.

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

 

Book Plunge: Back To Virtue

What do I think of Peter Kreeft’s book published by Ignatius Press? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

We often talk about people being good today. We have debates about morality and the nature of it. Something we don’t often talk about is virtue. The word seems dated most often. My main introduction to the word virtue was back when I played Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar. It’s an oddity in that the goal of that game in addition to being an RPG with fighting monsters, was to gain virtue. Sure. You could trick that blind shopkeeper and pay less for what you needed and get it, but you would lose virtue. Sure. You could run from that enemy you could defeat, but you would lose virtue. Show enough virtue and you can go to a shrine and get recognition for it to complete the game.

Maybe that’s why I saw it there. We think of virtue perhaps as a medieval concept. Our notion of character is that so much of morality that we need to abandon is restraining. How can you have any fun?

So ditch that Christian morality on sexuality and have at it! As long as you both consent, what’s the harm? Don’t worry about pride. Think highly of yourself. Know that you’re the best. Greed is good! About the only exception to this would be envy, because envy is the one deadly sin that has no pleasure to it.

Kreeft thinks we need some of this system back. If we do not have virtue, then our civilization will die. As a big fan of Lewis, Kreeft uses Lewis’s account of ships on the water. Ships on the water need to know three things, how to stay afloat, how to avoid hitting other ships, and why you are there in the first place. Our culture often works on the first two, but we don’t pay attention to the third.

Our approach is utilitarian. If it feels good, do it. Does it bring us what we call happiness? Then do it. Too often, we see what we call morality as a bad thing to an extent. Why do we use terms like goody two-shoes? A fuddy-duddy is someone who is spoiling our fun.

Kreeft tells us that the virtues are actually more enjoyable. The way of righteousness might cause us to abandon some short-term pleasures, but in the end, we will have more true joy than anyone else. Perhaps part of the problem in our culture is that we don’t know what happiness or joy are.

Kreeft takes us to the Sermon on the Mount for this and gives it as a real sermon that Christians today are to really follow. He also sees the beatitudes as being in contrast to the seven deadly sins. He walks us through each sin and then explains the counterpart to it in the beatitudes.

What he says, I leave to you, but Kreeft is always a stimulating writer. He speaks on an everyday level and at the same time, if you have heard him speak, it’s hard to read the book without hearing his tone and voice with it. While Kreeft is a Catholic, I have found his writings quite enjoyable as a Protestant and in some ways, he seems more Protestant than a lot of Protestants I know.

Kreeft in the end lays down what is at stake. We either go back to virtue or our civilization perishes. We cannot turn back the nuclear clock. Nuclear weapons are here to stay. We can do something about the people who have access to them.

Christ called us to be a virtuous people. It’s not an option for us. I recommend getting this book to learn more about how to do that.

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

But They’re So Nice

Should you change your mind because your neighbor is nice? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

My parents are part of the Methodist Church which just underwent a huge split over the issue of the definition of marriage. Naturally, my folks want to talk to me about what’s going on and my thoughts on the matter. One comment I have heard from them is that they have friends who know someone who’s same-sex attracted and they’ll say “But they’re so nice….”

I don’t have any reason to question that. There are several who are nice people. However, how does that become an argument to say “Therefore, I should vote to redefine marriage.”?

The issue when it comes to what the Methodist Church wants to do is “What is the nature of marriage?” Now if you think nature is fluid, meaning that a man and a woman is not the essence of marriage, meaning something essential to marriage, it’s up to you to define what is.  You can say marriage is fluid, but if there is nothing essential to marriage, as in marriage has no real characteristic of it, then marriage is essentially nothing.

I have written about this in several other places, so I don’t want to make this blog on the nature of marriage. I do want to discuss the question about people being nice. I really don’t understand why this is so persuasive, aside from the fact that people think with their emotions more than they do with their heads.

For one thing, if every same-sex attracted person was among the nicest people on the planet, that would say nothing about the nature of marriage itself. I regularly hear, and have experienced, that Mormons are usually incredibly kind people. If someone is willing to grant that, does that mean that they should rush down to the Mormon Church to convert?

Of course not, and even if they did, how many contradictions would you have in your mindset on the same issue? If you met a really nice Muslim after that, would you determine that Mormonism is false and Islam is true? If you encountered a nice atheist then, would you conclude that God doesn’t exist? If every atheist was practically a saint, that would say nothing about the arguments for or against theism.

Contrary, suppose Christians you met were jerks, and sadly, this could be true. Christians shouldn’t be, but if one encounters a Christian who is a jerk, that doesn’t say anything about whether Christianity is true or false. Christianity could have the best ethical system in the world and yet if people fail to live up to it, that says nothing about the system of ethics. It just says a lot about the followers.

We could say that people who vote to redefine marriage are implicitly saying then that everyone who holds to marriage as has always been understood is a jerk. Do they really want to say that? If you vote because person A of this persuasion is nice, does that mean the person opposed is mean?

When you look at the nature of marriage in the church situation, only one question needs to be asked. What is marriage? If you see it as fluid and changeable, then act accordingly. If you hold to a reality that says the man-woman unit is essential to marriage, then do the same.

Give a real reason. Even if you support the redefining of marriage, I hope this is something that can be agreed to. People should strive to be moral, but that doesn’t mean their position is true.

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

Thankfulness And Silence

Are we to have a Happy Thanksgiving? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I have been writing this week in response to the news of Tyler Vela about divorce and silence. Today, being Thanksgiving, I don’t have to work and there are no classes. Naturally, I turn off the alarm and choose to sleep in as long as I can.

Yet early in the morning when I start to wake up, who is right there waiting for me but Shiro. So what do I do? Stay in bed for just a little bit to hold him and pet him and get some kitty kisses from him. Starting Thanksgiving with my little kitty is certainly a great way to begin the day with thankfulness.

Honestly, Thanksgiving is not my favorite holiday of all. I’m not one for meal situations and I don’t like a lot of traditional Thanksgiving foods. The only exception for me is pumpkin pie. I am fine with not going to Thanksgiving meals at all. (Although I’m sure Shiro would be thrilled if anyone wanted to bring by a bite of turkey for him.)

Today, I was intending to just write about Thanksgiving, but as I thought about it, I realized this has relevance to the silence of God. Years ago, I read something from Tim Keller about thankfulness. It was a portion of Scripture that I had read several times and yet, a few key words in that Scripture I had never taken the time to consider.

Let’s look at Romans 1.

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.

We can get caught up in so many debates about this passage. It can be classical apologetics vs. presuppositionalism. It can be about the nature of design arguments. It can be questions of if someone can truly be an atheist or not.

Fine questions and worth discussion, but did you notice that part at the end? This is about people who the text says know God and they didn’t glorify Him, but also, they didn’t give thanks. They were not appreciative of God. They didn’t show gratitude.

If you don’t appreciate something and you’re not thankful for it, it can lead to a resentment or it can lead to an entitlement attitude. Here in America, if you live here, you are generally a rich person. You might think you’re poor, but compared to the majority of the world, you are rich. What do we want? More. We mourn about how little we have so often.

I also think this does contribute to divorce. Where does this idea come from that the grass is greener on the other side? As a nerd, I was amazed most every day that I was actually married and I do long for that again. If you think something is owed to you, you will not be grateful for it. There’s a reason the entitlement mindset is causing so much damage in our country.

So what about the silence of God?

Too often, it’s likely that God has already spoken and we have not appreciated what has been said. Skepticism is one thing and if it’s purely intellectual, that can be worked on, but if emotion is driving it, the most powerful intellectual arguments won’t do a thing. Why do you think I get concerned with so many of our younger generation demanding more and more and more?

However, what if we are really saying to God, “What you have done is not good enough?” If we do not appreciate the ways God has spoken, should He really say anymore? If we do not appreciate whatever God has given us, why would He bother giving us more?

The Jews have a Passover song called Dayenu. The lyrics are much longer and interspersed with a chorus, but they go as follows talking about the Passover.

Had we been taken out of Egypt and not had judgment executed upon the Egyptians, it would’ve been enough. Had judgment been executed upon the Egyptians and not upon their idols, it would’ve been enough. Had judgment been executed upon their idols, and not their firstborn, it would’ve been enough. Had judgment been executed upon their firstborn, and we had not received their wealth, it would’ve been enough. Had we received their wealth, and not had the sea split for us, it would’ve been enough. Had the sea been split the sea for us, and we had not been led through it to dry land, it would’ve been enough. Had we been led to dry land, and our enemies not drowned in the sea behind us, it would’ve been enough for us. Had our enemies drowned, and our needs not have been provided for in the desert for 40 years, it would’ve been enough. Had we been supported in the desert and not been given bread, it would have been enough. Had we been given bread and not been given the Sabbath, it would have been enough. Had we been given the Sabbath and not been brought to Mount Sinai, it would have been enough. Had we been brought to Mount Sinai and not been sent the Torah, it would have been enough. Had we been sent the Torah and not been brought to Israel, it would have been enough. Had we been brought to Israel and not been built the Holy Temple, it would have been enough.

What this is saying is that every step would have been enough. God owed nothing more. God owes us nothing more. The only thing He has to give is what He promised. It’s often asked about the problem of evil, “Why did God kill so many?” It’s never considered how many He let live. He had no obligation. It’s as if we are saying “God owes us life.” No. He doesn’t.

If you are owed nothing, and you are given everything, what is that? It’s not payment for something. It’s not God is in debt to you. It is all a gift. All is grace.

I am thankful for many things today. My family and my friends are high up there. I am thankful to be in the city of New Orleans, a city I have come to love, and working on my education at a school I love with a job that I thoroughly enjoy and meeting new people. I am thankful I can rebuild my life and remarry someday. I am thankful that I have got to be a person of influence somehow through the internet. I am thankful I am making it through my divorce bit by bit. I am thankful for the people who have donated to me through Patreon or Risen Jesus to show their support for me. I am thankful for a cute little kitty currently sleeping on my bed. I am thankful I have so many books and games here to keep my mind active. All is grace.

And I’m definitely thankful for grace. It would have been enough, but the one who said it wasn’t enough was God Himself. He looked at all the ways He had loved us so far and said “It’s not enough.” Ephesians 2 even says it’s still not enough. He will spend all of eternity showing us how much He loves us.

I don’t deserve it. Neither do you. It’s all a gift. It’s all grace.

Happy Thanksgiving.

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

Can I Have Some Bread?

What kind of father doesn’t give his son bread? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I’m continuing my look at what Tyler Vela has shown and commenting from my view as a divorced man as well. This time, we’re going to look at Matthew 7. In this passage, Jesus asks that if your son asks for bread, will you give him a stone? If he asks for a fish, will you give him a snake? If a wicked father gives good things to his children, how much more will your good Father give good gifts?

To start with this, I want you to know that your Bible has a major difference from the originals. There is something that they have that was not written in the original documents. At this, I wonder if any atheists could be booting up their blogs and their video equipment so they can write and make YouTube videos and podcasts about this. An apologist is going to admit a major problem with the Bible!

You’re going to be disappointed.

I am simply talking about chapters and verses. Matthew did not start out and write “Chapter 1, verse 1.” Those numbers weren’t added until later. They do have a benefit in some ways in that it’s easier to find one isolated statement. There is a downside in that we can read chapters and not connect them to earlier chapters.

In Matthew 6, Jesus has been talking about being provided for and that includes basic staples. Food, water, and clothing. He does not mention luxury goods. I don’t see any reason to think that that changes after Matthew 6.

There are plenty of reasons to not give some good gifts. Something could be good in and of itself, but bad for a child. A lollipop could be fine for many children, but not for a child who is diabetic. Some good things could be too expensive. Sometimes a parent might want a child to learn some discipline and self-control and save a good gift for when something good has been done, such as not giving money until chores are done.

Yet Tyler is asking about something simpler. Can God show me that He loves me?

That is a real and noble desire. Yet as I see it, God has already done that. The question is “Why is He not believed on the basis of the cross and the resurrection?” I understand doubt. Doubt is real, yet is God obligated to give us extra special revelation if one is not accepting what He has already said? As Jesus said, if they do not believe the Scriptures, they will not believe even if someone rises from the dead.”

What is most important to ask about this is “Why is this doubted?” I can’t claim to know the answer, but let’s consider a guess. What if you think “If my wife didn’t really love me and could betray me so quickly, why should God be different?” That is something that needs to be worked on and therapy can be a great way. However, it also has to be asked “Why is she being given that power that her voice speaks louder than God’s on an authority basis?”

Let’s suppose it was because of a wrong done on your part that led to the divorce? I say this to cover both ends. If you are the wronged party, you can wonder if you are lovable. If you are the party that did the wrong, you can wonder if God could love and forgive you. Again, Scripture says if you have repented, He has. You have to figure out why you feel otherwise.

One problem if God does do something special and exceptional for you alone to show He loves you is that if you have an underlying issue, it can be a temporary fix. If that happens, then you would need an experience over and over again. This can get the idea of being hooked on a feeling or hooked on an experience.

What also has to be asked is why we have the standard often that if God doesn’t do what I think He should, then He doesn’t love me? Those kinds of conditions for love are dangerous put on anyone. That can also lead to the dissolving of a lot of marriages. A husband can say, “Well if my wife really cared about me, she would do XYZ.” It could be sex, letting him watch sports on the weekend or go fishing with friends or buy a new video game. A wife could say if her husband cared about her, he would help with the chores or assist with the kids or bring home flowers or know what she really wanted for Christmas. Both partners could even be right, but the conditional is a killer.

Keep in mind, none of this is meant to be a cure-all. Issues about struggling with the love of God, or anyone else for that matter, cannot be answered by a simple blog post. However, I do hope this can be a key that could lead someone to understand what is going on with them and come to conclusions.

I also want to stress that I can understand this concern that God doesn’t love you. I have gone through it. I suspect most every Christian who takes his Christianity seriously has gone through this as well. This is another way the church needs to talk about this issue. Maybe more people could be helped if they saw they weren’t unusual.

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

Silence In Divorce

Is anybody there? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday, I did a discussion with the Mentionables over the situation involving Tyler Vela. This involves an apologist having a deconversion of sorts. I really wanted to speak on this because something that Tyler and I also have in common is that we’ve both gone through divorce.

Something Tyler wrote on his Facebook about this was talking about the silence of God. Now in all of this, he was praying and memorizing Scripture and doing things like that all the more. Those are good things, but I don’t think that addresses really the so-called silence of God.

I saw so-called because a major error of our Christian culture today is the idea that God is always speaking to us on an individualistic basis. Usually, this is said to be done through our emotions. Don’t believe me? Just see how many times you hear in a church service talk about being felt led to do something. Now who is leading you in this idea? God. How? Through how you feel.

Does that sound like a recipe for chaos?

How do you know God is leading you somewhere? You feel Him leading you. We also take it further. How do you know the favor of God on your life? You feel it. How do you know God loves you? You have those feelings also.

If we applied this to any other area in our life, it would lead to chaos.

What is one reason we have a major increase in divorce? Because we base our marriages more on feeling in love than on love itself. If you had to divorce your spouse every time you didn’t feel love, you would divorce a lot. It’s not just there either. I’m sure a mother having to get up at 3 AM for a fussy baby to change a diaper and everything else and knowing she has to be up again in a few hours is not overflowing with love at the thought. Some of you might be, but I’m quite certain you’re the exception.

No relationship should be based on your emotions, not even your one with God.

This is not to deny there can be emotions in these relationships, but one should not make a diet out of them. One should enjoy the good ones and work through and understand the sad ones. Every life has its ups and downs. Not even our Lord could escape sadness on this Earth and we have intense pride if we think we are the exception still.

That still doesn’t address the problem about the silence. However, we have to start at the beginning and say it cannot be based on your emotions. Otherwise, if you feel the love of God, well God loves you. If you feel that God is distant and not there, well you have to deny that feeling. It becomes an exercise in question-begging. Bad emotions? Not good. Good emotions. Good.

Consider it like the test the Mormon missionaries give you. Do you feel the burning in the bosom? Good emotion. God. Do you not feel it? Then the problem is you.

If we seek that feeling more, then we can be in the case of not that we are seeking God, though we think we could be, and maybe to some degree we are, but we’re really seeking a feeling. The confirmation we have found God is that a feeling occurs or something similar. If God doesn’t give us that feeling, then He just doesn’t care about us.

Let’s be clear. Even though I don’t think God is obligated to speak to us or to give us feelings, that quiet is still painful. It is hard to feel like even God has rejected you.

In divorce, you are rejected in every way. The biggest analogy I can come up with to a guy feeling rejection in marriage is the way a wife can say “Not tonight, dear. I have a headache.” Divorce is a way of not just that rejection one time, but that and every other rejection for life permanently. In every way as a man, you are not the man. You are rejected.

You lose your best friend. You lose your love. You could lose your kids if you have those. You lose your relationships as they were. Sadly, too many times if your friends were other couples, it’s hard to have that now.

Loneliness is a major problem. When you go to bed at night, you sleep alone. When you go to a church service, it’s other couples that you see and people talk about their families and every instance of seeing that is a little stab to the heart reminding you that you’re alone.

The church can be one of the most painful places to go and the worst part is the church is often not very therapeutic. People want to cure your negative feelings instead of just listening to you about them and working through them with you. Everyone at church is expected to be happy and joyful. People often treat Christianity like a neverending adventure of joy.

We also put on our spiritual faces in church. You hear of people who pray for hours and get endless joy from reading their Bible as they learn something new every day. People talk about how God is speaking to them and answering all of their prayers so very specifically.

If you don’t have those experiences, well, you’re just not a very good Christian.

Also, add in that if you’re divorced, too often you are really looked down on. I am thankful I have not experienced this from churches for the most part, but I know I am an exception based on what I hear from others. Even if it was a sin of yours that ended your marriage, you are still in pain. There are many churches that will not let a divorced man in the pulpit. Never mind that a large portion of the New Testament was written by a guy who was a murderer.

Now you get the silence of God on top of that.

No wonder it hurts!

Still, turn back to Scripture. Is God speaking the norm? No. Abraham, the friend of God, had the heavens silent for well over a decade and he’s even an exceptional case in God speaking. Those times that God speaks are recorded not because they are normative, but because they are exceptional.

Look at the Israelites with Moses. They actually beg Moses to have God NOT speak to them, and when He spoke, it was not a feeling in their hearts, but a booming voice from the mountain. Moses was the one exception.

If people were really experiencing this regularly, they would not need the prophets. What about the New Testament? We could say the same. What did they need the epistles or apostles for if they had the Holy Spirit just telling them everything? We have taken something exceptional and made it normative because we’re just so special.

The idea of the silence of God is the result.

My idea of the love of God for me is not based on my feelings, but based on what He has said in Scripture. The cross and the resurrection tell me God loves me. How do I know I am one of His? Because I am trusting Him and seeking to live a holy life.

These truths are what kept me going in my divorce and still keep me going, even when temptation comes to give up. I’m still battling and I have been told that it could be the only real end of the battle this side of eternity could be remarriage. That’s why I’m in therapy over here as well to learn social skills and even the dreaded small talk. I really want to get remarried again and I know I have to work for that.

If you are struggling and experiencing so-called silence, it doesn’t mean God is not there. Now I do realize there are some Scripture passages that people use. Isn’t God near to the brokenhearted? Doesn’t God say if a boy asks for a fish he will get it? God willing, I plan to handle this next time.

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

 

Jesus and Moral Issues

Can you separate Jesus from morality? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

As I said yesterday, I have been reading Machen lately and something he said in a work of his was about how we have pulled away from what he calls the “supernatural Jesus.” Now I have said before about my beef with the term “supernatural“. However, I do know what he’s saying. This is a Jesus who is seen as more or less just a great moral teacher, perhaps highly enlightened, but He certainly wasn’t divine in any way and definitely didn’t rise from the dead.

However, as we have moved away from this kind of Jesus, so with that has gone much of our moral standards in society. Many people even today do not want to speak ill of Jesus. Of course, some people do, but Jesus is still by and large a respected figure in our history. (Setting aside the crackpot position that says Jesus never even existed.) Few would want to ascribe malicious intent to Jesus.

A lot of people do like the morality of Jesus to some extent, which is quite odd when one thinks about it since really, His morality is often quite difficult. I would find it easy to go through life and not commit adultery with a woman. I find it extremely difficult to go through life without looking at another woman with lust. It would be easy to go through life without murdering a brother of mine. It is far harder to go through life without anger toward him.

Jesus did change this and so you had a society soon that was changing rapidly with a people who were practicing sexual chastity, love for their fellow man, and tremendous self-sacrifice. When a plague came through the Roman Empire, the physicians fled, but the Christians stayed and tended to the sick. The Christians didn’t have the science to know how a plague worked, but they were unintentionally giving themselves some immunity to the sickness by staying and facing it to help the sick.

We have been trying an experiment to take the teachings of Jesus and somehow exclude the man of Jesus from them. Yes. This teaching is quite quaint and we like it, but we don’t need that extra baggage with it. We don’t need all this nonsense of miracles and resurrections obviously. Let’s just go with the teachings and live by them.

This experiment has been a failure.

Inevitably, Jesus’s teachings are bound up with His person, authority, and character. It’s not just that Jesus taught great truths, but He also lived them and lived them perfectly. Jesus didn’t teach these as great suggestions either. He taught them as commands and He insisted that it was only by His power that one could live them out.

Naturally, we all have strengths and weaknesses. Some of us could be very generous by nature and yet struggle with a temper. A man could be extremely peaceful and wouldn’t hurt a fly, but he struggles with the sight of the beautiful women who he passes by regularly. In our society, we have often said that we like the idea of tolerance and non-judgmentalism, which are really not the message of Jesus, but we don’t really care for messages on sexual chastity. (Isn’t it funny how those two go together also?)

However, virtue is not a buffett where you take what you want and reject the rest. You have to take all of it. Try to separate one part of Jesus’s teachings from the whole and you have the overemphasis of one trait with the neglect of another. Part of this is because of the separation of Jesus from His lifestyle as if Jesus is just incidental to His teachings.

Perhaps we can’t dispense with the miraculous Jesus after all.

Now if you have a resurrected Jesus who speaks with authority and can forgive one’s own sins so one can live out love and forgiveness in others, the system works a lot better. Jesus did not come just to teach us all how to get along. Yes. He wants us to live well and have life, but He wants us to be forgiven and free as well.

Ultimately, you have to accept the bad news of Jesus, you are a sinner in need of salvation, before you can truly live out the teachings. If you do not realize how much you are forgiven, you will be incapable of loving the way He wants you to. This can be a struggle for many of us. I see myself as the guy who grew up avoiding pornography, drugs, alcohol, staying chaste until I was married, etc. It is easy to look and say “I’ve lived a good life and don’t really have major sins to deal with”, but I need to realize that in many cases, I struggle with pride and other inner sins that could be far worse in a sense and yet, I am forgiven.

Every sin after all is ultimately divine treason. It is denying one or more attributes of God and saying that you should be on the throne. I am one who has excessive worrying and anxiety and it’s tempting to want to be in control of my own life and panic about even seemingly minor decisions. If I am guilty of divine treason, which I am and which you are as well, isn’t it a wonder we are forgiven? What person says to someone else “I forgive you for wanting me dead and acting on it.”?

If we don’t go by the strength of Christ and the Holy Spirit, then we have to do that from within. Now this does not mean that non-Christians cannot be loving people. They can be. It means that this is a struggle for all of us because our natural tendency is to love ourselves more than others. Even the suicide loves themselves more despite their thinking of how awful they are. They seek their good above that of others though trying to tell themselves everyone else will be better off without them.

The early Christians were able to love greatly because they knew that they had been loved greatly. Take that away and it all falls apart. They knew they were loved greatly not because Jesus was some nice man who was really enlightened and said they were special. It was because Jesus was the divine man who had risen from the dead and had the authority to forgive them for all they had done.

Christianity cannot be reduced to just a set of ethics. It is an entire worldview. Removing the miraculous Jesus removes the batteries and the system doesn’t work.

If our culture is to recover, the only way to do that is to return to the original system which worked fine. That is the real miracle-working Jesus who rose from the dead and forgives sins. Any other Jesus won’t do.

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

I Was Not Assigned

What is at stake with our words? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Last week, there was an announcement made at the chapel service here at NOBTS about free flu shots being given out for students. All we had to do was go to the student center and there would be some nurses there ready to give us our shots. Being one without health insurance now (Financial realities of being a seminary student), I decided to go and get one.

Now this was a Christian hospital organization that was giving out the shots and so they had to ask me several questions, which I understand. I get the legal requirements. I don’t blame them and I realize the sad reality of what many businesses are going through, but as an individual, I did take a firm stand.

So in the middle of the usual questions that I expect, I get the one of “What is your gender identity?” I consider this to really be a nonsense question. Identity has no purpose here. How I feel about myself does not affect what I am at all. I can feel like I’m a cat and it’s not going to change I’m a human. For a more realistic example, as one going through a divorce, I can feel numerous negative things many times. Those things are not true. Many Christians can struggle with feeling God doesn’t love them. Doesn’t make it true. The reason many people commit suicide is often connected with a negative feeling about them or their future that just isn’t true.

I am a man. That is it. I can take a look at my body and the way that I came out and realize that yes, I am a man.

My next question I was asked was “Were you assigned that at birth?”

At this I think my eyes glare, not in anger at the nurses. They have to do their job. It’s in anger that this question is on here. I gave a direct answer. “No. I was born a man.” I realize we could say I was born a boy who grew into a man, but the sex that I was born as was not something that was just decided. It was known when I was born.

I also realize some people can bring up people who are intersex, but intersex and transgender are two very different things. One is a very physical condition and we have never sought to change our laws and society based on this condition. The other, transgenderism, is a psychological delusion and we are changing our society and laws to play along and real people are being the victims.

Friends. This is a hill we cannot budge any on. This is about a battle for reality itself. I consider the far-left movement in our society to be in a war against reality and trying to eliminate any idea of male and female. It’s as if we are being pushed into a political monism.

The biggest aspect of this battle to watch is our words. I will use longer and clunkier terminology to avoid granting any grounds to the other side. I will not speak of a “same-sex marriage.” A marriage by definition is the unity of a man and a woman. No. Something like polygamy doesn’t change this, though it is wrong, as it is just one man with several women, but the man-woman aspect is there. The same would be for one woman with many men.

When you say “same-sex marriage” you are speaking of a contradiction. You are speaking of a man-woman unit that is not man-woman. If we also make the definition of marriage fluid, we can make it to mean anything and then it means nothing. Why limit it to two people? Why make it consensual? Why make it lifelong? The word marriage has to mean something specific.

I prefer to not even speak of a homosexual anymore. It makes homosexual more often an aspect of the person’s identity and surely that won’t change. It becomes something innate. I will easily instead speak of a person with same-sex attraction. What is central here is that this is a person.

We must absolutely watch people who want to control our words and tell us there are things we cannot say. We have seen part of this when any monitoring is done of questions about vaccines or the 2020 election. Even if you think both of those are crazy conspiracy theories, it would be better to have them talked about and the ideas discussed. Shutting down discussion on any topic convinces more often people who think there is a cover-up.

Keep in mind that in 1984, the goal of the editing of the language was not to come up with new words. It was to eliminate as many words as possible. Control the words people say and you can control the ideas that they are allowed to think about.

The language war is essential.

No. I was not assigned male at birth. I was born that way. I could jack up my body with as many hormones as doctors say and mutilate it with surgical procedures, and I will look like I am playing a part, but it won’t change reality. Barring the return of Jesus Christ, I will die a male. Nothing will change that.

There is too much at stake. Whenever you encounter language that is meant to shape what you think, do not give an inch to it. If you have to use long and clunkier phrases, that’s fine. I would rather do that and be minorly inconvenienced than give in to fake reality and be majorly inconvenienced.

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

 

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