Abraham’s Remarriage

Who is Keturah? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

When we talk about the wife of Abraham, naturally, we all think of Sarah. That makes sense. Many of us do not think of Keturah. She’s barely mentioned in the text. The only thing we know about her really is that Abraham married her after Sarah died and she bore him six children.

Obviously, Abraham must have really wanted a younger woman or else she was a golddigger.

If we’re studying marriage and divorce in the Bible though, we need to look at this for one point. That is that after a spouse dies, there is no condemnation whatsoever for remarriage. We are not told the reason Abraham wanted to remarry, but since he had six kids, it’s pretty easy to guess what one of those reasons might have been.

In the nature of a covenant, we are told in the New Testament in Romans that if one spouse dies, the other is delivered from the covenant and is free to remarry. Paul tells us if a woman has sex with a man besides her husband while her husband is still alive, she is an adulteress, but if her husband dies and she remarries, then she is free to have sex with another man.

Naturally, this can lead to some of us asking the question about what happens after death. Jesus tells us that there is no marrying or giving in marriage in the afterdeath, but does this mean that there is no longer any covenant whatsoever between two people? This is something I am still thinking about and hopefully, by the time we get to the gospel of Matthew in this study, I will have some firmer positions on the matter.

We also know from Genesis 25 that Abraham gave gifts to the sons of his concubines, so apparently, there was more than just Hagar, while he was still living. In the end though, he gave everything to Isaac. He also sent his other sons away so they would not be around Isaac. As we go through Genesis, we will find that there are often troubling family dynamics that take place. These are actually events that Eastern readers who are actually much more family-oriented than we have no problem noticing.

When Abraham dies, it’s not just Isaac that is there. Ishmael is also there and helps to bury Abraham. We will find later on that while at this point Ishmael does not play a major role in the text, his descendants do. I have said in a previous blog that I know of no hard evidence that the Arabs today are descendants of Ishmael, but we do know of people who are descendants of Ishmael in the text.

For now, it’s just important to notice that not all remarriage is disallowed in the Bible. In the case of the death of a spouse, it is apparently allowable to remarry. Of course, we could say that concubines and polygamy were allowed as well so maybe things change in the New Testament. That will have to be discovered when we get there.

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

The First Polygamist

When did someone try to have a different relationship? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In Genesis, we have the fall of man and then when Adam and Eve are forced out of the garden, then we have Cain and Abel come along who are brothers, the children of Adam and Eve. The next thing we know, Cain has killed his brother.

Well, that escalated quickly.

Then the next thing we have happen is we get introduced to one of his descendants, Lamech. Lamech has this idea that “Hey. Why should I be limited to one woman? Why not go and have two women instead?”

Lamech is also seen as a prideful man seeing as he kills someone for insulting him and says “If Cain gets avenged, I should get avenged even more.” It’s not a shock that a man who thinks he can take two women when no one else has decides to think this way. However, this is the first case of polygamy in Scripture, so we need to talk about it.

First, does this constitute a change in marriage? No. Marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman based on a covenant. This just has it go to two people at the same time. If any change has done, it is the removal of exclusivity. When we get to Jesus in the New Testament being asked about divorce, we will find he has words to say even about polygamy without explicitly mentioning it.

Second, Moses, or whoever wrote Genesis, wants us to know about this. Something that we will see as we go through the Bible is that when men marry multiple wives, there usually is chaos to some extent in the family. We don’t know much about the family of Lamech, but what we do know is not really ideal.

A brief word needs to be said about polygamy. I would not be surprised if this came to America again soon, at least in Utah, as Mormons could see the way the LGBTQ crowd has attempted to change reality and then say “Well, we need to bring back polygamy.” I’m sure a number of guys might be interested in this, although most guys are getting used to getting the “benefits” of marriage in their eyes, without actually having to make a commitment to someone.

The main argument Jesus makes really in the New Testament is that when male and female come together, then the union is complete. There’s no need to expand beyond that. For the most part, polygamy is a way of saying that one woman is insufficient. It’s the same reason that a man watching pornography can be greatly hurtful to his wife.

As we go through Scripture, we will see a number of polygamous relationships. When we get to the New Testament, this is largely gone and we get to 1 Timothy 3 which I am inclined to say means that if an elder is married, he must be married to one woman only. However, as we go through the Old Testament, I hope we will see why the Jews abandoned this practice.

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

Adam’s Loneliness

Why was Adam lonely? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

One of the things often told to a divorced person is to find their joy in God, and that’s true, but that often treats it like God is the only aspect of the world to enjoy and if you have Him, that’s enough. If so, one has to ask why He gives us so many other things? Why does the text in 1 Timothy 6:17 say that He gives us all things richly for our enjoyment.

Maybe, just maybe, God wants us to enjoy other things besides just Him.

In Genesis 2, man is put in the garden to tend and care for it. All the animals are brought to him for him to name. This is showing that man has a place of authority. Whatever he calls that creature, that is what its name is. Even God goes along with this. There’s no indication of God ever saying “No Adam. I want that creature to be called a lion.”

Yet here we have a virtual paradise of sorts with no sin in it and yet we are told something is wrong. We are told that man is not alone. It is not good for the man to be alone either.

Wait a second. How can man be alone? Man was just put in a garden where every creature came to him and he got to name him. Don’t we all love having animal companions either way? I know I refer to my cat in here as one of my best friends. Dogs are normally referred to by that title, but I prefer my little kitty.

Not only that. Man has God. Didn’t Paul say that a man who is married worries about the affairs of this world, how he can please his wife? Surely when it is just man and God, God will keep it that way.

Well, it would be kind of hard for the species to move further that way. However, there are some interpretations that say Adam and Eve were put in the garden as representatives for other people who were out there. Even if this is a correct interpretation, man is still alone and it is not good.

The idea is that man is incomplete at this point. Man needs someone else there to complete him. He needs to be fulfilled. Speaking as a person who is divorced, I can tell you this resonates with me.

Many times when I am at home, for the most part, I can be fine. I have enough that I can do. However, take me to work and get me doing something I don’t like and I am very miserable. I have nothing to distract me and being surrounded by people is incredibly lonely.

Crowds can be one of the loneliest places to be.

Why? Because you see people all around you going about their lives and you don’t think any of them really care about you. When I am at home, I do have my family who cares about me and my cat, but I also can easily jump on the internet and find people who know me and care about me. I can call a friend and talk about my troubles if need be. I am not alone.

When I go to bed at night, I am also alone. Shiro doesn’t usually like to sleep on me and if he tries to get on top of me as I sleep, well I just can’t sleep that way and you can’t really explain that to a cat. I used to sleep next to someone and wake up next to someone, but not now. That is painful.

Does this mean God is insufficient? No, but there are some types of companionship God cannot provide based on who He is. I remember getting together with friends to play video games together. God doesn’t do that with me. You don’t go out to eat with God. You don’t kiss God or have physical intimacy with Him either or sleep next to Him at night.

I think God recognizes different kinds of companionship. He did not make us to be isolated beings. He made us to be creatures who tend to be social. Some are more so than others, but all of us to some extent need other people.

If there was anyone who it could have ever been said did not need anyone like that, two people come to mind. Those are Adam and Jesus. Adam had no sin and all the animals and God and still that scenario was not good for man was alone. Jesus meanwhile was the perfect Son of God living on Earth and yet He had His family and His friends with Him.

I’m thankful this text is here. It tells me God understands my own desires. I don’t want to be without a special companion in life. God hears that. As I thought about this today, God says He clothes the flowers in the field and He feeds the birds.

He also does bring companions into the lives of animals.

Maybe I have met that companion and I’m just waiting for a relationship to blossom. Maybe I will meet her in the future. I do not know, but I am trying to trust that my God knows the desires of my heart and if it is a good desire that He will provide for it. I pray that He does.

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

Book Plunge: Addicted To Lust

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why Not Use Porn?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Yes. You Should Still Avoid Temptation

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

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

Neither one of these examples convinces me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 8/17/2019

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

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

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

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

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

So who is she?

According to her bio:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Complete list of Dr. Morse’s books: 

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

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

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Does Jesus Make A Difference?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Unchanging Witness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Christ,
Nick Peters

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

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

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

Unfortunately, I was wrong.

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

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

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

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

In Christ,
Nick Peters