Book Plunge: The Toxic War On Masculinity Part 3

Do men bear responsibility? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

What happens when you divorce the public and the private, the sacred and the secular? What happens when femininity and masculinity are no longer seen as complementing one another but are seen as competition? What happens when the individual becomes more important than the household?

There’s not much to say on this one tonight except when two groups start to form a divide, generally, they make it get deeper and deeper. Men who were seen in a negative light, well, they became a self-fulfilling prophecy. They started living that way and before too long, you had saloons. You had men spending extra money on alcohol. You saw that since the women were taking charge of the household, the men were starting to abdicate responsibility.

It’s a sad reality that we all will usually choose the path of least resistance and the path that requires the least work. Today, a woman will have sex with a man thinking that he will then marry her. In reality, he’ll usually see that and say “Okay. I guess I don’t need to go any further.” Why should he? He’s got what he wants and he doesn’t have to enter any further risk, such as getting married and losing half of his money and having to pay alimony for the rest of his life.

And the women in all of this? Well, they developed a sort of take-charge attitude in this. Many reform movements were beginning because women were of the mindset that things would be better if they were in charge. This is the beginning of feminism today and sadly, it is the beginning. As I said at the start, if you keep pushing people down a divide, that divide will grow worse and worse.

So then, you have the idea that we need to have reform. Where does that lead? Today, you can have a hashtag that says to Kill All Men.

Sometimes you need to go back to where you lost your way and find out what happened. One step Pearcey takes is to look at how Jesus treated women. Jesus would be with women in public and speaking to them. Jesus would include women in His teaching and have them listen to His teaching. Jesus even traveled with women and had women who were supporting Him.

Jesus had a tender heart towards women.

So far in all of this post today, we have discussed what happened between men and women. I have stated that men and women drove further apart. Instead of being allies and working together, they were becoming enemies and working against one another. However, marriages don’t normally have just a husband and a wife. They also have children. Some of those children are also the future men.

What happens to the young boys when the Dad is not only away from the son because of work, but away from the son because he is out drinking with his buddies?

That will wait until tomorrow.

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

 

Christianity and Modern Gods

What are the gods we deal with today? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I am reading through the church fathers, among other things, and something I am noticing with Tertullian who I am on now is that he has a vast array of knowledge about the gods of the Roman society he lives in. I grew up reading Greek mythology which was claimed by the Romans, but there is still a lot I don’t know about it. Tertullian is familiar with the ins and the outs of the great stories in addition to being familiar with the biblical topics he knows about and the history of Christianity and the Roman Empire.

Nowadays, most people do not believe in those gods. Many people would consider themselves secularists and even many Christians are largely secular in their thinking. That does not mean we are not without gods. Not by a long shot. We have several gods today and these are gods Christians need to know about as well to interact with worshippers of these gods, as there are plenty of such worshippers.

So what are they?

Let’s start with sex. Yes. We all know about sex. A goes into B and sometimes a baby can result. We all know how it works, but what about what it is. We have plenty of debates on this topic. What is the ultimate purpose of sex? Is it something reserved for marriage? Is it to be between a man and a woman?

Then this gets into our personal identity. What is orientation? Is there such a thing? Is there a difference between sex and gender? Is this something that is assigned at birth or is it something immutable that cannot be changed? On one level, we can say the question “What is a woman?” is simple, but on the other, it is something quite deep that we need to get more to an answer on.

Christians definitely need to have a message here. After all, if we aren’t sharing our views on this with our children, the world is and the world will speak loudly. If we do believe sex is reserved for a man and a woman in marriage, how can we tell children this is a great gift while at the same time saying it needs to be reserved for that state? (Something even difficult for we adults who are single again.)

Another god is money. For this, Christians need to study economics. Many of the debates we have in this country are because people are ignorant of economics. We think with our hearts alone and think “If our intentions are good, the results will follow.” Not at all. I am not saying to avoid compassion, but I am saying that to see if a policy works, you don’t ask “How compassionate is it?” but rather “How effective is it?”

Capitalism is often seen as encouraging greed. Is it? Marxism is seen as caring for the poor. Is it? Why did we go to war with Marxism so much in our history? Is Marxism necessarily linked with atheism? Were the early Christians socialist?

As for caring for the poor, what is the best way to help people who are poor? What method has the best results? How should individual Christians care for the poor? Is it wrong for you to buy something really nice for yourself when there are poor people in the world?

Power is another one and this gets into politics. This is definitely here when an election year is going on. Christians need to learn how their government works. Can we tell the three branches of the American government? What is the Constitution? The Bill of Rights? The Declaration of Independence?

How much power should the government have? Should the citizenry be able to have guns and if so, are there any limitations to that? What should we prohibit? What should we permit? What should we promote? What role do passages like Romans 13 play?

What about science? This seems to be the reigning authority today. What is science? Is science necessarily materialistic? Can it answer the God question? Can it answer questions of good and evil? Is it the only way to know anything?

What should we accept in science and what should we not? Is evolution true? If it is, what does this say about our beliefs on Scripture, inerrancy, the existing of God, and the resurrection of Jesus? Can you be a faithful Christian and accept evolution? Can you be a good scientist and reject evolution?

What about modern issues as well like climate change? Is the earth’s climate changing? If so, is that something that would happen anyway or is man responsible? Is there anything that can be done about it either way? What about our response to Covid? What did we get right? What did we get wrong? Can we trust the science or are we even more skeptical?

Christians interacting in our culture need some knowledge on all of this. In addition definitely understand other gods if you are interacting with other systems. We need Christians who understand cults, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, atheism and any other belief system out there.

In all of this, yes, we need to know our Bibles and our history and what we believe and why, but we are interacting with people who speak of other gods. Like good missionaries, we need to know what those other gods are and how to address them. Christians throughout history have had something to say about more than just Christianity. We need to do the same to be effective witnesses in our culture.

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

Book Plunge: Atheist Universe Part 12

Is internet porn a danger? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Up until now, I have considered Mills highly ignorant.

Yet when I got to this chapter, that changed.

Mills has an attitude that is disgraceful to have and highly misogynistic towards women. I do not make such statements lightly. I do intend to back it.

First, why this chapter anyway? Why did he write it? He didn’t just write a chapter about supposedly odd views about sex that Christians have. No. This was about internet porn specifically. This was about men going on the internet with the intention of looking up pictures of women in various stages of undress all the way to completely nude for the purpose of feeding their own lusts and that is okay to Mills. Note I say men specifically since that is the group that Mills focuses on saying girls don’t really have this struggle. Well, they actually do, and a large part of that is because men do as well.

So let’s dive in.

Is there truly a problem of children’s accessing pornography on the internet? And if there is, shouldn’t we, as adults, strive mightily to prevent impressionable children from viewing sexually oriented material intended solely for adults? The answers to these questions are: (1) There is no problem; and (2) We should not strive to “child-proof” the internet.

Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 193). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

Entirely wrong on both counts. It is extremely hard for women to find men today who are not viewing porn. They are the exception, not the rule, and this is changing the way men think about sex and in turn changing the way women are doing sex and thinking about sex. Men are getting more and more the idea that what they see on the screen is how sex is supposed to be an how women are supposed to look.

Those are airbrushed fantasy and put a real woman next to a fantasy and the fantasy will win. I hate saying that because real women I do think are definitely superior because they are real, but fake women can be whatever the man wants them to be. Today, a man’s first sexual encounter won’t be on his wedding night. It will be in front of a computer screen.

Yes. We need to child-proof the internet. Minors are passing around nude pictures of themselves that in any other hands would be considered child pornography and a crime. A number of them have committed suicide after said pictures have leaked. Women are suffering in the Instagram generation where they think they have to look like the women on Facebook.

But this is just the beginning for Mills.

He goes on to talk about how our young men reach sexual maturity in their teen years and then have to wait several years before they can get married. On this, I agree. This is a problem. Our society has set eighteen as if it is some magical number that suddenly makes a boy a man. It doesn’t. There are several boys who are over eighteen and there are several men who are under, though those numbers are greatly increasing on both sides.

So Mills says:

So economic reality, more than anything else, has crafted our perception that teenage males are “harmed” by sexual preoccupation. Today’s male faces a frustrating gap of approximately ten years between the onset of his sexual maturity and the median marital age. Genetically and hormonally, however, today’s teenage male is unchanged from the day when early teenage copulation was the accepted norm. During this extended gap between puberty and marriage, all teenage males masturbate frequently, and the overwhelming majority of them view pornography as well.

Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (pp. 197-198). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

In this, there is very little to disagree. It’s his next part that’s the big problem.

Again I pose the question: If, throughout the entirety of human history, teenage males were not “jeopardized” by full penile-vaginal intercourse with their teenage partners, how then are today’s teenage males “endangered” by mere photographs of women?

Mills, David. Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person’s Answer to Christian Fundamentalism (p. 198). Ulysses Press. Kindle Edition.

And this I declare is incredibly misogynistic. Mills says “If a man was involved in a relationship with a woman where he was spending his life with her and siring children with her and raising a family with her, then how is looking at photographs a problem? That is hardly a one-to-one parallel. The former requires that a man be a man. It requires that he take responsibility for a woman he has pledged loyalty and faithfulness to. It requires that he work to provide for her and the children that they will have.

Pornography does the exact opposite. It requires that a man not be a man. It does not require the man to take any responsibility. It does not require him to be faithful and loyal to anyone. It does not require him to make any effort to provide for a woman or provide children. The woman in pornography is solely there for the gratification of the man. He doesn’t even have to know her name or anything about her. He doesn’t have to risk himself with her at all.

Yet Mills sees these as parallels.

Unbelievable.

This really tells you how Mills sees women.

Pornography causes young men to see women as just bodies and cheapens sex. I am not at all saying women’s bodies are not beautiful. Thank God they are. I am saying you can’t beat the real thing. It is why even as a divorced man I strive to keep myself porn free so that when I remarry, my then wife will know I only have eyes for her and she doesn’t have to compete with a Rolodex of images of nude women in my head.

Another sad fact is that if Mills’s view is true, then yes, there is nothing wrong with any of this. There is nothing wrong with anything. There is also nothing right with anything. Things just are. That’s it.

Thank God the world is not like that.

Thank God women are real and good in their own right and that sex was a gift He created for us to enjoy in the context of a marital relationship.

We don’t want a cheap thing like Mills does.

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

 

 

Femininity is a Good Thing

Is it good for a woman to be a woman? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I read some of a mystery every day. Yesterday morning, I read this in the one I’m going through now where a female detective is wanting to find out how to get close to a male suspect she wants to question.

“Rob Saunders is obviously a bit of a Casanova. You’re a young, pretty girl. You could use that to your advantage.”
“What? You’re not telling me to seduce him, are you?” cried Ellie.
“Oh, don’t look so shocked. I’m not suggesting that you sleep with him,” said Aunt Olive, clicking her tongue. “But a man like Rob… well, now, he’d be easy to interrogate if you know how to play him.” She saw Ellie’s expression. “Oh, come on, poppet! Calculated seduction is a time-honored tradition in intrigue and espionage! I know it’s not politically correct to say this nowadays, but you can achieve a lot with a suggestive smile and a show of cleavage.”
“Aunt Olive! You’ve just set the women’s lib movement back fifty years or something!”
“Rubbish!” snorted her aunt. “A woman who knows how to use her feminine charms to get what she wants is the one who’s truly empowered.”
I realize some people might think the language here is a bit crude and no, this is not a Christian work, but ultimately, as I read this passage, I had to agree with Aunt Olive in her basic point. The empowered woman is not the woman who tries to deny her femininity. It is the one who knows how to use it properly.
The feminist movement has really been very anti-woman. One of the main problems is that they set up a sort of competition between men and women. Men didn’t have this problem. Women did. Women wanted to be able to focus on a career, not worry about children, and not be seen as a piece of eye candy.
I am not against a woman having a career and not every woman will be a mother. Certainly a woman shouldn’t be treated as an object, but the way women went about these goals was wrong. It was not by being better at what they were, being women, but by trying to in essence not be women and be men.
So a man can have sex and not have to worry about carrying a baby for nine months as a result. No problem. Use birth control and if that doesn’t work, get an abortion. Deny your biological clock (Which men don’t have) and just work at your career and you decide when you want to have a baby, if you ever do. If men can walk around topless, women can too!
It hasn’t worked well for women.
Believe it or not women, if you want to get a real man, a man wants a woman who is a woman. He doesn’t want a woman who is trying to act like a man. He likes the things in a woman that set her apart from men.
That includes beauty.
That beauty is a good thing also. Yes. A woman can do a lot of damage to a man if she misuses her beauty and seduces him into doing things that he shouldn’t. However, she can also use that beauty to greatly inspire and motivate a man.
Consider Jacob in the Bible. When he sees Rachel, he’s immediately impressed by her beauty and when asked what his wages will be, he already knows. He wants Rachel! The text says he worked seven years, but they seemed like a short time because of his great love for her. I can imagine him easily out in the fields working hard and here comes Rachel walking by with a cute smile, the breeze blowing through her hair, the grace of her figure, everything, and Jacob just thinking “Soon.”
Then when the seven years is up (Is Jacob counting down the days), Jacob is awfully brazen and just goes to his future father-in-law and says “I’ve done my work. Give me your daughter. I want to sleep with her.”
That’s what the text literally says! I honestly can’t imagine going up to my former father-in-law on the day of the wedding and saying “You ready to give her up? I’m wanting to sleep with her.”
Now in the story, Jacob had to work seven more years for Rachel, but he did it. Why? Because female beauty is highly inspiring to a man. A man can do things he never would have dreamed of doing before just for female beauty. My ex-wife did cause some major good changes in me just because I was motivated by her beauty, something no one else could do.
Ladies. Keep this in mind also. Perhaps a guy who asks you out isn’t a ten in your minds, but consider this. If he is of good character, go out with him and see what changes can be brought about in him just because he wants you. You can inspire a man to be a man in ways he never was before just because your beauty has that effect on him. (Consider how in the Christmas special, Rudolph flies immediately just because Clarice says she thinks he’s cute.)
It’s the way God made the system. Enjoy it. He knew what He was doing.
In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Book Plunge: Outdated

What do I think about Jonathan Pokluda’s book on dating? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In many ways, this is an excellent book. It deals with a lot of myths out there not so much about dating, but about marriage. Naturally, I hate that I have to read dating books again, but lo and behold, I do. Pokluda is a minister who didn’t walk the street and narrow before his conversion and so has made many of the mistakes in the book. Each chapter begins with a brief lie about marriage and then what the truth is.

Throughout, there are generally good insights. An example is that if you are just out there dating just to have fun, that’s what you’re going to get. Dating should not be a hobby. It should be done as a means to an end. When you start dating someone, there are going to be two possible outcomes. You get married or you break up.

One myth he deals with is the idea that you have to find the one who is out there and just right for you. It is a lasting myth many people believe and he cites a NASA scientist who said that if the idea of soul mates were true, 1 in 10,000 people would marry theirs, and I really think that’s likely being generous. We are too often expecting a magic fairy tale scenario.

He also says we have an idea that there is supposed to be a magical spark when we meet someone and we just know. It would be something like a movie where you see that person and all of a sudden you just get spellbound. The reality is there are probably plenty of people you have met who would be wonderful matches for you and you have put them in a friend zone for some reason like that. He mentions people looking for a mystical sign, which I think could easily include God saying “This is the one!” The speaking of the friend zone is his wording, but I want to speak on behalf of many single men out there and say “Hear! Hear!”

Instead, real life and real marriage is hard and when you marry someone, you see their flaws and if you went on a spark, that spark fades away. Then you meet someone else who you have the “spark” with and decide that that person must be the real one you were meant to be with. However, you bring all your same problems with you that you never worked on in the original relationship and before too long, history repeats itself.

Speaking about appearances, he has a great saying that if you can’t cherish someone who loves Jesus, but isn’t that physically attractive to you, that says a lot more about your spirituality than anything else. On the other hand, this chapter did seem to be teaching a lot against “Don’t marry for looks” to which I agree with, but said very little on the role physical attraction plays in a relationship. I agree it is not everything and to think so is shallow, but at the same time, the Bible, specifically when speaking about women, regularly talks about their great beauty.

I also understood what he said about men needing to be initiators in relationships, and I agree, but as someone on the spectrum who has a hard time even asking for a divider at WalMart, easier said than done. On this front, ladies, please let us guys know you are interested in us. What you might think is obvious is not obvious to us.

There are many other topics dealt with in this book such as pornography, living together before marriage, and pre-marital sex. This is really a good book for dealing with a lot of myths that people have and the author wants to see good dating because he wants to see good marriages. He wants a great foundation and it starts with proper dating.

If you’re single, I recommend it.

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

 

How Porn Is Destroying Sex

Will pornography help your sex life? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Last night, I was watching the TimCast IRL show and there was talk about pornography. The claim was made that in Japan, families are now hiring strippers and prostitutes for their sons because their sons are so addicted to pornography that that’s all they do. Folks. I try to verify everything, but after a brief web search, I decided to just grant this one and say even if not true, the situation does make sense.

Fortunately, all I saw in my search was links, but it was clear when all I saw about was hiring sex workers, I figured it was best to move on. I have enough information on this here in America. After all, when listening to talk radio often in the Atlanta area, I would regularly hear commercials for ED medication. There are men in their 20’s taking this kind of medication.

I blame it on pornography.

There have been attempts to do studies of men who watch porn regularly compared to those who do not. The problem is they have only been attempts. In our society, there haven’t been enough men found in the latter category to make a significant contribution to the study.

When I worked at a retail job before I came to New Orleans, I remember the word got out that I don’t watch porn and the women who I worked with were stunned. This included teenage girls naturally who were likely working their first job. A man who doesn’t watch porn?

The problem with pornography is that it takes subjects that are beautiful, sex and the human form, especially the female form, and cheapens them. It makes them common. These are both things that should in the most intimate sense remain private, but it makes them public.

I am mainly going to be speaking about men here, seeing as I am a man. I am not ignoring that this is becoming more and more of a female problem as well. Women also have their own version of porn that they deal with. (Think romance novels) Men are presented with a physical fantasy. Women often get an emotional fantasy.

For men, the problem becomes that we get so hooked onto the fake that we want more and more of it and can’t accept reality anymore. Reality loses its appeal for us. This is why real women can’t compete with porn. It’s not that real women aren’t beautiful. They certainly are! It’s that you can make fantasy be whatever you want.

In movies and TV shows, the hero is always a perfect shot, everyone knows just the right thing to say, and love flows naturally and smoothly. In real life, bad guys can get away because heroes can be bad shots, people say hideously wrong things, and love can have constant blunders, and even sex can have embarrassing moments and sometimes, it’s not the case that both the man and the woman are jumping to go at each other.

We also all tend to go down the path of least resistance. If a man thinks that he cannot coax the lover in his life, be it a wife or girlfriend, into a night of passion, well go and turn on the computer or pick up the phone for a little bit. I’ve thought lately of an analogy of this with the gaming world.

When I was growing up, if you made it to the final boss, for the most part, you had to work to get there. You had to take all the steps right and it required skill. Now, you have save states where you can stop at any time and pick up where you left out. In some ways, this is good for those of us who don’t have time like we used to, but it also makes us not take the game as seriously and play as well. I lost? No biggie. I’ll just start from that same spot again.

Over time, we’re not nearly as good at this and I find I don’t play nearly as well as I used to. The same happens in our relationships. If we can take the easy way, we won’t work so much on what is the harder way. That way is the way of discipline. It is learning how to love your wife better and then learning how to control yourself when things don’t work out. I am not at all saying men should love their wives just to get sex, but in a healthy relationship, that should be happening regularly and men should be putting in the effort to love their wives so both people can be satisfied spouses.

Along the same lines, this is also why social media can easily lead to divorces. I talked to a friend after mine who said he did some research into court cases with divorces and noticed that Facebook showed up a large number of times. When you live with someone, you see in person all their faults and failures and those habits you wished weren’t there. When you talk to someone on a computer, you only see their best. You can turn them into whatever you want and again, reality cannot compete with fantasy.

Fairy tales often end with happily ever after as if the wedding of the couple is the end of the story when it’s the beginning. When Cinderella woke up the next morning, Prince Charming had bad breath. When he woke up in the morning, Cinderella was having a bad hair day.

If we take the easy way of porn, we damage ourselves and our relationships and ultimately, our country and world. Pornography is really a tool to destroy the family unit and if the family falls, so does a nation. If you are a married man, pornography is essentially cheating on your spouse. There’s a reason a woman feels betrayed when she catches her husband hiding a porn habit. She feels like she is not good enough or beautiful enough for him, and why shouldn’t she? She wants to be your one and only when you’ve shown she’s your one of many.

Here’s an idea to consider men. Getting rid of pornography will actually enhance your sex life. It will make it so that every time you see her body, it will be because she trusted you and you earned that honor. It will make it all the more special. You also won’t have to think about all these other scenes you have seen in your head. It’s just you and her.

I have said reality cannot compete with fantasy. There is one distinction.

Reality is real.

It is really happening. This is a real woman showing you her body and trusting you in the most intimate way possible. This is a real woman who can really love you and really have your children with you.

The woman on the screen? She doesn’t really care about you. She doesn’t even know you. She is doing this for just any other guy out there too. (Yes. That OnlyFans girl doesn’t care about you.) That real woman does. She really wants you. She really wants to have a future with you.

Also ladies, please cut your men some slack. He’s not going to do everything men in romance novels do. We men try, but honestly a lot of times we just don’t get it. We bumble and make mistakes and if a man tries to do something, don’t tell him what he did wrong. Appreciate what he did. (Believe it or not, a lot of guys won’t bother to try to load the dishwasher again if when they try, their wife comes over and “corrects” everything and shows them what they did wrong.)

So guys, if you are watching pornography, please get help. Try organizations like ProvenMen or Covenant Eyes. Go find a local Celebrate Recovery.

Since these are Christian ministries, it’s important to remember also that if you are watching pornography, you’re not just hurting yourself and your wife, you’re dishonoring God. You’re treating women he made as objects when you could be investing in a real-life woman who loves you or seeking out such a woman.

Be a real man. Get rid of porn. Go for a real woman instead.

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

Reply To Honestly by Tom Copeland Part 3

What about interpretation? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In this part of the book, Copeland starts with examining the biblical data. He admits upfront he’s not a biblical languages scholar. That’s fine. Neither am I. We’re not going to get into any fancy use of Greek or Hebrew here. So let’s see first off what Copeland says is the standpoint of the positions.

He says that conservatives point to Sodom and Gomorrah, Leviticus, Romans, 1 Corinthians, and 1 Timothy mainly to offer passages they say offer indisputable proof that the bible condemns same-sex sexual behavior. Liberals dispute these and sometimes say that some of these passages could be about pederasty instead. They say that the Bible gives no condemnation of loving and consensual same-sex relationships.

Okay. Both sides could have some nuance, but they are generally a fair assessment. This is certainly something that is written about back and forth. So how does Copeland respond to these?

So which side is right? I’m not really sure, and I’ve come to the conclusion that it doesn’t really matter that much.

Copeland, Tom. Honestly – A Book About Sex for Christians . Tom Copeland. Kindle Edition.

I’m sorry. What?

I mean, this is only Scripture which we say is our authority. This is only what we say could be about the fate of countless souls for all eternity. This is a question that doesn’t matter that much?

Last time, I wrote about how the liberal side is reluctant to deal with passages if they think they hurt them or someone they care about. We have already seen that take place. I would have preferred at least some reason for thinking that the conservative side is wrong rather than a dismissal of the issue altogether.

He instead goes with an approach from Tillich saying that we are all dealing with our own interpretations and all sides have claimed biblical sanctions on various issues. It is certainly true that all sides have, but one side has been wrong and the other has been right, at least if you hold to a conservative view of Scripture. If we go this route, then we could easily say anything is okay. Moral relativism wins out.

He also says Rich Mullins said God knows what it means. The rest of us are just guessing. To an extent, but some guesses are also better than others. God knows what the disease is someone has, but odds are if they go to a doctor, he has a better guess than they do.

He also quotes Donald Miller and says we are more interested often in a propositional claim than a relational one. Interesting to note that that itself is a propositional claim. They’re unavoidable. We should make sure ours are rooted in truth. He then asks what if we’re wrong?

This is followed by asking if Christians should be passing radical anti-abortion laws to protect unborn children like the one in Texas.

Okay. This book was published in 2013, so I’m guessing that law was HB2. I looked up the measures of this radical law. I did find something from the UK on it here.

So what is so radical?

– Abortions doctors were required to have admitting privileges to a hospital within 30 miles of their clinic.

– All abortions clinics were required to upgrade to become ambulatory surgical centres (ASCs).

– Abortions after 20-weeks were prohibited, except in the case of “severe fetal abnormalities” or to “avert the death or substantial and irreversible physical impairment … of the pregnant woman”.

– Women who take abortion-inducing pills, must do so under the supervision of a physician, requiring two trips to the clinic for each dosage.

– After the administration of the abortion-inducing pills, a woman must set a follow-up visit with the physician 14-days after the dosage.

In addition to the three visits required of those seeking abortions under HB2, Texas passed a law in 2011 requiring women to undergo an ultrasound procedure 24 hours prior to getting an abortion – resulting in a minimum of four visits to the clinic.

The article says that if this were upheld, 10 or fewer clinics would have served the state.

On that last part, might it not be best to say that if so many clinics can’t handle these requirements, maybe they shouldn’t be open? What is really so radical? Is it wanting an ultrasound so a woman can make an informed decision? Is it being near a hospital in case something goes wrong? Is it that except in cases like a fetal condition that could cause death to the woman abortions weren’t allowed after 20 weeks?

And this is radical?

Copeland asks if we should instead have healthy choices for women, particularly in cases of rape and incest.

The hugely overwhelming majority of cases of abortion are not for rape or incest.

Should Christians be in favor of the death penalty or opposed to it? He speaks no further on this, but I say, yes, we should be.

Should we be in favor of second amendment rights, even having people allowed to have concealed handguns at church? Well, considering how many bad guys with guns have shown up at churches, yes. I don’t live in fear of the majority of citizens having guns. Bad guys having guns without the majority having them? Yes. That’s fearful. Even more fearful, the government being armed while we’re not.

This goes on to questions of war and wealth. Copeland asks who we usually say is right. The answer is us. Of course, that’s not a major claim. If I did not think my position was right, why would I hold it? However, if I hold a position, I have reasons for it.

He goes on to say that he doesn’t know and he has this thing called faith which requires not knowing. I have written on faith more here. Based on this, you might as well say that we should strive to know less so that we can have more faith. This doesn’t fit anyway. “I don’t know which side is right, so I have faith?”

He then says he can’t make life-altering decisions for someone else based on passages that only show up in the Old Testament and Paul and are mentioned nowhere in the Gospels or any other New Testament writer. (Ignore for the point Jude could say something about it.) Unfortunately, Copeland has already done this. Saying he won’t condemn the behavior is itself making a life-altering judgment and if he is wrong, then his advice could condemn numerous souls for eternity.

Never mind that James 3:1 says teachers will be held to greater account. Will he stand before God and say “I decided it really didn’t matter what your Word said about the issue.”? As for Jesus, Jesus never said anything about the death penalty or abortion or guns either, but yet Copeland sure asks about those. Jesus talked about questions that were relevant debate topics in Israel. We have no reason to think same-sex relationships were one of them.

After this, Copeland says:

The stakes are real. The stakes are people. Depending on the research you read, between 25-40% of non-heterosexual teenagers have attempted suicide and as many as 75% report having had suicidal thoughts. The rate is as much as five times higher for teens who identify themselves as gay than for heterosexual teens. For the church to do anything that could possibly contribute to that is unacceptable.

Copeland, Tom. Honestly – A Book About Sex for Christians . Tom Copeland. Kindle Edition.

I agree that the stakes are real and are people and we need to do something, but notice this. If someone is having suicidal thoughts based on whatsoever issue, the first thing to deal with primarily is what in them is making them have suicidal thoughts. Having gone through divorce, I sometimes pondered the question of suicide and I understand that most people who go through divorce, particularly those wrongfully divorced, do. Now if I was at a point of acting, is the thing to do to change everyone else and force my ex to take me back, or is it to change my own thinking on how I see myself regardless? Wouldn’t it be best to deal with the underlying mental health issue?

In the end, Copeland might say he doesn’t want to really take a side, but the reality is he has. He can say he doesn’t want to make life-altering judgments, but he has. He can say he doesn’t want to make judgments on the holiness of certain actions, but in reality, he has. They are unavoidable.

I think he’s wrong entirely.

We’ll each have to stand before God and give reasons for our answers someday.

I hope we’re both prepared.

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

 

 

Reply To Honestly by Tom Copeland Part 2

What mistakes can liberals make in interpretation? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Tom Copeland’s book Honestly, like I said yesterday, is for the most part quite good, but I really disagreed with his statements on sexual orientation. Last time, I discussed his concerns with a conservative schema for interpreting Scripture. I appreciate that he was fair and said liberals have some problems as well. Let’s look at those and then when we get to what he says, I will see if he does fall under any of those concerns.

The first one is that liberals can be reluctant to deal honestly with difficult passages if they think they hurt them or someone they care about. In many cases, that’s something all of us are prone to. “Well, the Bible doesn’t really say much about my sin here, but check out everything it says about my neighbor’s!” Michael Brown wrote a book on overcoming a food addiction and noted how many pastors are obese and that you never hear a sermon on gluttony. I wonder why.

The second danger is like this. If an interpretation doesn’t match how we think God is or how Christ is, we discount it. Surely a God of love would never do XYZ! Well, there’s a lot of things a God of love would do that we don’t understand. This is also something common with internet atheists and others. “Look at what God did! That’s not loving!”

The next is a lack of consistency or structure in interpreting Scripture. If much of our interpretation of Scripture is based on experiences and on what is going on in culture at the time, it is easy to get caught up in an idea because it is new. This is something that happens regularly in politics where people will suddenly show up and embrace what is obviously true despite it not being believed by anyone for thousands of years beforehand.

The last he mentions is a focus on tolerance and grace at the expense of truth. I had Gregory Quinian on my podcast once who describes himself as an ex-homosexual and he has said that we are to speak the truth in love, but if it’s not the truth, it’s not love. There are too many in our society that will not tell someone the truth for fear that it will hurt them. Many Christians often talk about loving someone into the kingdom. You can also love someone out of the kingdom.

I definitely appreciate all of these as I want to give the benefit of the doubt and think that Copeland is trying to give both sides of the coin to the best of his ability. In the end as you will see, I do not think he has made a really strong case from the Bible for his position. If you are one who doesn’t hold to Scripture, that won’t matter to you, but as I said last time, this is a book by a Christian for a Christian so we are seeing how it stacks up with a Christian worldview.

We shall continue next time.

 

Book Plunge: Divorce and Remarriage Four Views — Part 2

What do I think of William Heth’s view? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In this volume, Heth defends the position that divorce is allowed, but not remarriage. This is an older work as since then, Heth has changed his position to allow for remarriage after adultery and desertion. Therefore, we can say that eventually he came to abandon his arguments here, but he still has his arguments and we need to address them.

To begin with, I do agree with parts where Heth speaks highly of marriage. I also think ideally that marriage should be permanent, but the problem is that it is too often not. This is even the case with God essentially sending a divorce certificate to Israel and Judah when He allows them to go into exile. There have been some who have said the same thing happens again in Revelation. Hosea 2 has God explicitly saying to Israel “I am not your husband.”

Heth says marriage happens when a man and a woman announce their covenant love for one another and consummate that love together. He says one is not sufficient in itself, pointing to 1 Cor. 6:16. The problem is, as was said yesterday, that 1 Cor. 6:16, quotes Genesis 2:24, which is said to be the foundational passage on marriage. Nothing in Genesis 2:24 speaks about announcing covenant love, for instance.

I do agree with Heth in that the purpose of marriage is not companionship. That is a purpose, but it is not the purpose. After all, men and women have plenty of sources for companionship. They’re called friends. We even consider our pets our companions. That being said, being divorced and single is quite lonely and so yes, that companionship is definitely missed.

I am unconvinced by his point on Deuteronomy 24 considering it does not allow for remarriage of the first husband. The purpose is that it still allows for remarriage. My thinking on this is that a back and forth exchange gives the impression that this is a case of men working together to have the same woman and claim to do so legally. It creates a love triangle scenario.

He speaks on Ezra with the marriages to other tribes at the end and says

As early as 1890, George Rawlinson observed:

It is quite clear that [Ezra] read the Law as absolutely prohibitive of mixed marriages (Ezra 9:10–14)—i.e., as not only forbidding their inception, but their continuance. Strictly speaking, he probably looked upon them as unreal marriages, and so as no better than ordinary illicit connections. For the evils which flow from such unions, those who make them, and not those who break them, are responsible.

William A Heth, “Chapter 2: Divorce, but No Remarriage,” in Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 89.

I find this extremely flimsy. Are we to say that pagan nations had no “real marriages” since evils could flow from such unions? If all that is required for a real marriage is a public testimony and a consummation, then these were real marriages. If these were real marriages, then these were real divorces.

Heth goes on to say that

Yet the most serious cases of unlawful unions could be punished by the death of both parties, just like adulterers (Lev 20:10). Numbers 25:6–15 records the case of an Israelite who took a foreign wife and was summarily executed. It could be a significant act of kindness that Ezra only demanded the “divorce” of the foreigners, not their execution.

William A Heth, “Chapter 2: Divorce, but No Remarriage,” in Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 90.

This also strikes me as problematic. In this case, we have no indication that the two were husband and wife. What is going on is a judgment has come to Israel and right after a public statement denouncing this, a man and a woman brazenly go in public so everyone can see them and then go into a tent and start doing the deed together. Phinehas says that that is enough and takes a spear and runs through both of them in one blow.

Thus, I hardly see this as a parallel. Add in also that Deuteronomy had standards for marrying a woman who was a captive and Rahab and Ruth were foreign women who we see in the genealogy of Jesus. Are we to think that those were illicit marriages?

As we move on, we see a quotation from Tony Lane, a lecturer on Christian doctrine at London Bible College.

If Jesus did allow remarriage, presumably it happened. How did it then cease to happen, despite the fact that his teaching was known, leaving no trace either of a period when it happened or of any controversy.

William A Heth, “Chapter 2: Divorce, but No Remarriage,” in Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 97.

However, what I want to know is how is this known? For instance, let’s go with the early church having a problem with sex for pleasure. Are we to assume then that nowhere in the early church could we find couples having sex for pleasure? The reality is we just don’t have the marriage statistics on the early church so this is really an argument from silence.

Later when talking about Jesus and divorce, Heth says:

Divorce for marital unfaithfulness may be conceded in view of the prevailing social mores, but there must be no remarriage lest adultery be committed. The disciples then react in unbelief at the thought of a life of singleness apart from marital relations: if a man cannot get out of a marriage so as to marry another, it is probably better not to marry at all (v. 10). Jesus then responds by saying that his standards on divorce and remarriage are indeed difficult to understand and to live by. Nevertheless, God gives true disciples the ability to understand and live by Christ’s teaching. Furthermore, God will give faithful disciples the grace they need if they should face a divorce they cannot prevent (v. 11).

William A Heth, “Chapter 2: Divorce, but No Remarriage,” in Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 106.

First, we don’t know why exactly the disciples reacted the way they did. We just know that they did. However, if someone was stunned at the prospect of a life of singleness without sex, there’s a sure way to get that. Never get married. At least if you get married, you could say you can have sex for some time.

I also don’t deny that God can give grace to those of us who have gone through divorce, but at the same time, He can also give us new spouses who will love us faithfully. There is no doubt God can provide for me regardless. My hope is still that that will be through another companion.

As for Paul, Heth says

Paul’s statement that the believer is “not bound” in such cases has the same function that the exception clause does in Matthew 19:9: it relieves the innocent party of the guilt of violating Christ’s command not to divorce. In the case of Matthew 19:9 the woman who commits adultery is held responsible for the breakup of the marriage, while in 1 Corinthians 7:15 Paul exempts the Christian from the responsibility for the divorce which an unbelieving mate brings about. Nothing is said one way or the other about the possibility of remarriage for the believer.

William A Heth, “Chapter 2: Divorce, but No Remarriage,” in Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 112.

This seems like a strange interpretation. Not bound means that the person is not guilty? That doesn’t seem to be the main issue at play here. No one seems to be asking “Who is guilty of the divorce?”

Finally, in looking at the responses, I want to only look at one comment from Thomas Edgar.

Heth’s argument that unless divorce is required it cannot be argued that the one-flesh relationship has been broken due to sexual sin, fails to take into account that although relationship with a prostitute is “one flesh” it is not marriage unless a certain legal ceremony is carried out. In the same way sexual sin breaks the marriage bond, but the marriage is not actually dissolved until a certain legal procedure (divorce) is carried out Does anyone argue that the marriage itself is actually dissolved the instant one enters into sexual unfaithfulness? I think that my discussion of the syntax shows that Heth’s view of Matthew 19:9 is incorrect. It is grammatically impossible to claim that Matthew 19:9 does not allow remarriage in the case of the exception.

J. Carl Laney et al., Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views (ed. H. Wayne House; Spectrum Multiview Books; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, n.d.), 142.

This is an excellent case. Adultery does not ipso facto destroy the marriage as there can be repentance and it’s not as if the moment a spouse commits adultery, they are a divorced couple and then if the cheater comes home and resumes normal sex with the spouse, that the unaware party is having an affair? Just as the ceremony is part of the marriage, so it is part of the divorce. Adultery doesn’t necessitate divorce, but it is sufficient for it.

Next time, we will look at Thomas Edgar’s essay.

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

The Loss of FInal Causality

What happened to the why questions? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

We all know about little children. The constant question they ask is “Why?” Many groups will try to claim them as their own. Those include scientists, journalists, lawyers, philosophers, theologians, etc. There are many professions where one of the questions you ask is “Why?”

Except we don’t really ask that much anymore.

There’s a quote said to be from Polkinghorne where he gets asked the question “Why is water boiling on the stove?” One such answer is “Because heat is being applied to the water thus causing its molecules to move further apart and thus turn from a liquid state into a gas state.” There’s another answer to the question as well.

“Because I am going to fix tea.”

Too often in our scientific age, we think the answer is the first one, but that is not what we have in mind. The first question merely describes what is going on. The second question asks a different question, the question of purpose.

In Aristotelian thought, a final cause is the reason why something is. What purpose does it serve? What is the end goal? This does not imply that the agent is acting intentionally. Kudzu grows and spreads. So do viruses. It’s not said that these are acting with an intentional plan.

Thomist Philosopher Edward Feser gives an example of an iceberg floating through water. As it goes on its way, the water in its area of effect becomes colder. It does not become cotton candy. Yes, this gets us into the fifth way for the existing of God, but that is not the point today.

Even if one holds to evolution, evolution depends on final causality. The goal is the passing on of the genes so that the most fit can survive. It’s literally described as the survival of the fittest.

Over a week ago, I saw an atheist make this argument in a group. I only still have it because it’s so monumentally stupid that I couldn’t believe anyone made it. Lo and behold, the capacity for human stupidity ever increases. So here is one of the stupidest arguments ever in all its infamy.

If God created everything and created everything perfect. Than God created the man’s anus to stretch large enough to fit a raccon inside of it. Just think that’s only part of humans body God created to stretch that big. God certainly wanted men to have big stuff in there

Leaving aside if God created everything perfect, it was one of those arguments that I had to have it register a bit before I said anything. I just couldn’t believe someone said something so monumentally ignorant. However, they did and so I asked a simple question.

I don’t remember the exact words, but it was asking what was known about final causality.

Because if you know what the final cause of the anus is, you know that the argument just doesn’t work. It violates that order.

When debates happen in “Pride Month”, we forget that final causality. We don’t know the purpose of so many things today. We don’t understand the purpose of sex, the family, and marriage, for a start. We think we can just change what any of these are and we’ll all get along fine.

We won’t, and I’m sure that a lot of people now are asking “What really is wrong about showing items of a sexual nature to extremely young children?” This is the normalization of pederasty starting.

When we treat sex as if it’s just a recreational activity and it doesn’t even matter the sexes of the people involved, we are lowering sex and ourselves. When we treat a family as just any group of people together, we are lowering the family. When we make marriage just a long-term relationship that anyone can leave at any time for any reason, we are lowering marriage.

Will that impact our society?

Look around and tell me what you think.

This is not to deny the role of the gospel in our society, but the gospel doesn’t dwell in a vacuum. We need good thinkers who can apply the principles of the gospel to life and in studying God’s world just as much as we should His Word, then we need to understand why the universe is the way it is. Why did God make things the way He did?

Bring back final causality.

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