What Does Celibacy Renounce?

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The Procession of the Ethiopian Eunuch by Julian Van Dyke

The King James Version of the description of the third type of eunuch in Matthew 19:12 reads “. . . made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake.” However, I’ve always felt this translation was inadequate because it leaves open the question of how they were made. “Made themselves eunuchs” does not explain Christ’s use of the eunuch metaphor to a society that still defines such a person on the basis of a surgical procedure and missing anatomy. Indeed, there are accounts of people who took his words too seriously. One such person was Origines Adamantius who was born c. A.D. 186 in Alexandria. He castrated himself and thus was denied the priesthood. However, the New American Bible interprets this verse as “some are incapable of marriage . . . because they have renounced marriage for the sake of the kingdom of heaven,” which I feel is a much better translation. It makes it clear that not entering into marriage, and thus a sexual relationship, is how eunuchs made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven.

But why would anyone renounce sexual intercourse when it is morally acceptable within the bounds of marriage? When it’s easily obtained on any street corner and cheaper than a burger and fries? Apparently Paul had received similar questions from the new believers at Corinth. I think it’s possible that the words of Christ and instructions from Paul got misinterpreted into something totally different than they intended. Sort of like the game “telephone” where a message gets passed around a room, only to become unbelievably distorted when it circles the entire group. In the case of human sexuality, man has a tendency to twist language to fit his desires. Even with Paul’s clarification in 1 Corinthians 7, we still have the same misinterpretations today. Most research on the subject of eunuchism leads to an eastern oriental perspective that sees celibacy as an unconscionable evil, an emasculated male posing as a threat to all of mankind. And outside its linkage with homosexuality, that is the same convoluted perspective we have today of one of the most mysterious spiritual gifts. It might help to know that all of the things being renounced are not inherently bad, but are better for those called to this lifestyle.

Celibacy renounces the world order we know (anachoresis). It represents the separation of all believers from the traditions, customs, expectations, and social stereotypes of this world. It is an extreme response to the presence of Christ, a response that cannot be realized in a one-flesh union between a man and woman. Those who embrace the life say yes to platonic expressions of love in friendship and no to romantic expressions of love in marriage. By pointing to a world passing away, the eschatological urgency at the heart of Advent is made a visible reality. Celibacy renounces the natural for the supernatural. It is a supernatural-enabled advent awaiting the return of Christ, an exception to every expectation, and a reminder that the Christian life is not about comfort.

Celibacy renounces marriage and prepares believers for a heaven where there are no husbands, wives, sons, daughters, or grandchildren. It serves as a brief glimpse into an eternity where the social mores and unstable unions of today will give way to a perfect union with Christ. Thus, celibacy cannot be understood solely as a response to the failure of marriages. Celibacy is not reactionary. It is visionary. It respects faithful marriages. By rejecting the temporary for the eternal, it actually brings into focus the marriage between Christ and the church, the separation of the church from the world, and our complete dependency on him.

Celibacy renounces sexual relationships. At the same time it does not deny God’s creation of sex or our sexuality. It stands in stark contrast to a culture that believes sex is as important as food and water. Celibacy takes sex off the dinner table and puts it in a Christ-centered eternal perspective. It says no to insatiable human appetites and leaves more room for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. It affirms the goodness of sex, but renounces the belief that all human relationships must be based on sex.

Celibacy renounces human reproduction and heralds a kingdom of heavenly bodies that do not age. It renounces the “be fruitful and multiply” command in Genesis 2 because human life does not need to be established and Israel’s armies no longer have to be replenished, thus explaining the seeming contradiction with Paul’s “good not to touch a woman” in 1 Corinthians 7. As Clement of Alexandria noted, Jesus taught monogamy for the sake of begetting children and oversight of the household and celibacy for the sake of the kingdom of God. Note that the eunuch described in Matthew 19 and the unmarried woman described in 1 Corinthians 7 are one in the same. So eunuchs are not just men. Women are also included in the Bible’s definition. At the same time, it reinforces the link between marriage, sex, and reproduction because it defines the only alternative to a nuclear family.

Celibacy renounces the modern construct of time by validating the wait for Christ’s return and the wait for a spouse. Thus, it underscores the importance of salvation before marriage. Celibacy amalgamates seasons and cycles into into a continuum of eternity. If every tick of a clock is measured against eternity, what is a minute? What is a year? Celibacy takes out time zones and ushers in Eternal Standard Time.

Celibacy renounces the temporary and superficial nature of sex, especially when it is used outside of the will of God. Because they have not been joined in one flesh with a spouse, celibates are able to devote all of themselves to eternal projects. The sexually unjoined (or unbonded) nature of their body chemistry orients their passions to Christ’s concerns. However, celibacy does not renounce the goodness of marriage. Rather, it acts as a counterweight and confirms the difficulty in living a faithful marriage. Some of the disciples balked at the idea of such a marital commitment: “The disciples said to him, “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry.” They preferred the idea of temporary arrangements, not the permanent commitment that marriage requires. However, Jesus answered: “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given (Matthew 19:10-11). The Greek word for “can” is dunamai, which is a verb and literally means “is able.” It is also dunamis, a noun from which we get the English word dynamite. The word denotes a miraculous (supernatural) power or ability that resides in a person, like the nitroglycerin found in dynamite. So celibacy is a gift that enables a person to live a chaste life without sex. Matthew 19 strongly suggests that eunuchism can be used as a metaphor for celibacy, both of which contrast strongly to the temporary nature of husbands and wives in marriage. Since sex is not a requirement for survival, like food and water, celibacy is not part of traditional social asceticism that aims for a higher spiritual existence through self-denial and penance. Hence, it can’t be compared to fasting, sleep deprivation, self-flagellation, etc. Though it may be a common belief, self-denial is not necessary to control sexual desire. The celibate sublimates it to eternal passions, such as ending female infanticide. A solitary life testifies that there is a world coming worth sacrificing human pleasure for.

Celibacy renounces mankind’s knowledge and affirms the superiority of God’s wisdom (1 Corinthians 3:19). It represents the infinite mystery of God’s creation and man’s limited insight into all fields of discipline – including astronomy, chemistry, physics, biology, engineering, mathematics, etc. It reminds our mortal brains that there are things we are not supposed to understand.

Celibacy renounces sexual immorality and serves as a remnant of God’s creational design that followed Christ’s death and resurrection. Contrary to popular thought, it has nothing to do with same sex “marriage.” “Those who are born eunuchs” in Matthew 19 refers to those who are born with genetic abnormalities (whether it be sexual organs, hormones, physical anomalies, etc.). It does not refer to homosexuality. Being born a eunuch specifically indicates that the person is born not just without interest in the opposite sex, but also without any interest in sex of any kind – heterosexual or homosexual. This lack of interest in the opposite sex means no marriage. Celibacy reminds us that self-control is possible in a world of homosexuality, pornography, adultery, fornication, etc.

Celibacy renounces marriage and family idolatry and supersedes the Mosaic command to multiply with Christ’s command to make disciples of men. It reminds nuclear families that a marriage license does not represent the pinnacle of Christian values and that the family is not the foundational institution of human society. It renounces legalism, church constitutions and bylaws, civil servants and preacher pronouncements, probate judges and courthouses. Celibacy flies in the face of marriage-mandaters and other contemporary Pharisees who think the solution to sexual immorality is for everybody to get married as soon as possible – or else they will not be able to control their lust. Because it defines marriage as more than just legitimate sex, it recognizes another class of human existence other than fornicators and non-fornicators.

Celibacy renounces the barrenness of eunuchs and guarantees the inheritance of their spiritual children in the Kingdom of God, an inheritance better than biological sons and daughters. It ensures the survival of their lineage forever (Isaiah 56:3-5). It renounces their humiliation, objectification as sex slaves, impurity, and ambiguous gender and social identity in early Jewish and Grego-Roman history. There are ten different ways to refer to an eunuch in Latin. Soon there will be one. Even after the passage of two millennia, celibates today honor those who came before them and regard them as a class higher than guardians of harems or concubines. Christ coming as a eunuch affirms their pari passu relationship with marriage.

Paul on Marriage and Celibacy: The Hellenistic Background of 1 Corinthians 7 by Will Deming

http://www.thedivineconspiracy.org/Z5248G.pdf

http://bmcr.brynmawr.edu/2003/2003-10-12.html

http://www.augsburgfortress.org/media/downloads/9781451465655Introduction.pdf

Who Is That Single Man?

Originally posted on Christian Celibacy in the 21st Century:

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As I’m sure everybody is aware, the word “single” is never used in the Bible to describe someone who is not married. It’s a modern day word of comfort. Oh, but you say just because it’s not in the Bible doesn’t make it bad. Well, sometimes that may be true. But in this case it’s not. Being single today is a legal/social status, not a biblical status. Much of it has to do with the insufficiencies of the English language and the breakdown of sexual ethics. For example, the Christian community used to expect faithfulness in marriage. Even though most couples never lived up to those expectations, marriage has been built up to represent the crown jewel of responsibility. Singleness has been built up to represent the crown jewel of adolescence. You can take your pick of any church on Sunday morning and attend a wedding or celebrate the wedding…

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Family Values And Celibate Values In Perspective

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Photo montage by Kristoffer Relander. Paris, France.

The Bible presents two lifestyle choices – marriage between a man and a woman and celibacy. As Apostle Paul so clearly explained in 1 Corinthians 7, we can either choose marriage and the concerns of the world or celibacy and the concerns of the Lord. If we take his words seriously, we understand there is more difference between family values and celibate values than there is between male and female. But since we live in a pagan culture where it is unnatural for anyone to live a celibate life, that leaves only one option open in the minds of many – marriage and family. But what happens when a person doesn’t feel called to marriage and at the same time doesn’t feel they can faithfully live out a celibate life? The answer is quite simple. Family values become family idolatry. They choose a lifestyle that looks like marriage, but is rooted in hedonism. Look around and you’ll see plenty of marriage counterfeits – same sex marriage, homosexuality, domestic partnership, lifetime companionship, cohabitation, etc. Pairing off with . . . anything is the ultimate goal. Today, a person must not appear to be alone in public, or there could be dire consequences. Already, single people – especially men – are being banned in public places all over the world – Abu Dhabi beach areas, Israeli resorts, British parks. On the news recently was Puxton Park in London: “Puxton Park, a family-friendly theme park in a coastal town west of London, has a policy of not allowing single men or women through its gates in order to protect the children inside.” Quiet honestly, this only confirmed my feeling of not being welcomed in any “family friendly” spaces – especially those found in churches. I’m sure they will follow suit soon enough. After all, the people you find in theme parks are the same ones you find in churches. I can see a sign on the church door already: “Notice, no unaccompanied people beyond this point.” Of course, there will be a sign on the other door that reads: “We accept and affirm all lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgenders.” Actually, that’s where we’re at today with the focus on the family. It’s just morphed into focus on sex, of any kind.

In the midst of singing praises to the family and sending their youth off to kids camp, the church forgot two major things – the definition of a biblical marriage and its dependency on biblical celibacy. Discerning between those two lifestyles became nonexistent when marriage became the norm. Consider this: Celibacy is 50% of the Christian lifestyle coin. How many sermons have you heard on it? How many have you heard that addressed marriage, the role of husbands and wives, two becoming one flesh, the husband being the head of the household, etc.? I would estimate 99.95% of Protestant pastors have never mentioned celibacy from a pulpit. I’m not saying that half of all sermons should be on celibacy. I’m saying that it’s sanctity, role, and social significance must be given the same honor and respect as marriage, beyond an obligatory sermon every 5-10 years. Because words are meaningless. That is not happening today.

That’s one of the major reasons biblical marriage disintegrated. Without the check on family greed, self-preservation, and sexual indulgence that celibacy provided, marriage became no more than a civil contract, a tax break, and ticket to sexual fulfillment. Without the balance of the Lord’s concerns with the world’s concerns, marriage dissolved into state-sanctioned greed and sex worship any way you can get it – as seen with the government’s recent acceptance of same sex marriage with all the standard tax breaks and benefits. It should be clear now to all theologians and students of the Bible that Christianity and civilization itself is grounded in sexual ethics. And these include both celibate and family values. For a family man or woman, the concerns of God do take a back seat to the concerns of the world and that is often a necessary compromise (1 Cor 7:34).

That is where celibacy comes in because it does not have to compromise. What the family may have wished they could have done if they had the time and resources and guarantee of safety, solitary individuals are often able to do, even risking their own lives. They are able to value all of creation on the same level with no conflicts of interests found in blood ties or economic barriers. More importantly, they’re able to value humankind with unconditional love. Their love is not limited by financially responsibilities. In addition, celibate people are able to see beyond the pressures of socio-political conformity and are able to provide a witness that is free from the bonds of sexual perversion and addiction and stereotypes associated with the American dream. They are not compelled to keep up with the Joneses. Oh, but it’s so rare, you say? Is anybody qualified to tell God how many people he needs on earth to perform a certain task? It could be one in ten people. Or it could be one in a million people. Do you really think God needs to worry himself with numbers and calculators? I think not. It is us who need to be concerned about performing those tasks.

Some people think celibacy is especially unfair to women, since they only have a limit number of childbearing years. Instead of being a repressive religious rule, the choice of celibacy is actually able to free women from the repression of objectification and sexual slavery. It is ultimate freedom, beyond that heralded in the era of feminism. It frees women from having to choose between a complementarian or an egalitarian role in marriage, a traditional or nontraditional role in society, having children or not having children. She doesn’t have to worry about patriarchy or hierarchies. It restores her dignity. Celibacy after the ascension of Christ stands in stark contrast to the patriarchal system seen in the Old Testament under Mosaic Law where daughters were owned by fathers, handed off to the ownership of husbands, and expected to produce heirs for the assurance of a man’s lineage. Celibacy testifies that man’s lineage is limited to this earth, that men and women are of equal worth, and that there are no marriages in heaven. It transcends any traditions found in Greco-Roman culture or 21st century America and reminds the human brain of a spiritual reality. Jesus was totally human. He had a human brain. Although he didn’t have a sexual relationship, he was a sexual being. The fact that the New Testament writers did not include these details for 21st century speculation is a testament to their divine revelation. Modern writers would have already ascertained that Jesus had a dozen gay lovers, another secret marriage to Mary Magadalene’s sister, and had been arrested once for possession of pornography.

One of the big problems today is the belief that celibacy takes a negative view of sex and that it denies a person of sexuality. How then can celibacy make sense in a world that worships sex? The answer is that it does not take a negative of sex. Just the opposite – It shows a reverence to the body that transcends our understanding of human sexuality. Celibacy is able to value a baby more than any pro life organization. It reminds us that a sexual relationship is not necessary to live a fulfilling and sexual life. In addition, it places the human construct of time under the light of eternal life. It takes the predictability and rhythm out of seasons. In short, it point us to heaven and eternal life with Christ.

http://www.foxnews.com/travel/2014/11/10/puxton-park-refuses-single-people-entry-over-paedophile-fears/

http://www.mainstreet.com/article/why-married-men-make-15900-more-annually-than-their-single-peers

50 Shades Of Violence

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Sketch by Raj Birdi.

Beheadings are reported on the news today like the numbers on Wall Street. And the graphic videos are played around the world like they were just another horror flick. We sit comfortably in our abodes, knowing they happen on the other side of the world. Have you ever wondered how an entire country could be taken over by barbarians? It starts with sexual immorality. When a man steps outside God’s plan for marriage or celibacy, the psychological and social consequences are so profound that they often go unnoticed. One of those consequences is violence triggered by sexual sin.

Today’s generation of enlightenment has replaced good and evil with 50 shades of gray and believes that the Bible is an outdated book of rules, that marriage is a contract of convenience, and that celibacy is a fantasy – something so rare it is considered extinct. Unfortunately, we’ve already arrived at this point. God has been taken out of schools. The Ten Commandments can no longer be displayed. Over half of marriages end in divorce. The majority of single people cohabitate before marriage. Homosexual unions are celebrated as civil rights. And religious leaders and “ethicists” still sing a chorus of love and affirmation – in order to keep their jobs. After all, they’ve got to keep the family fed. No matter how deviant your lifestyle may be, they’ve got a spot just for you. In short, instead of God’s special creation, human beings have become a mere means of pleasure and sources of revenue. This is all that is needed for human life to be devalued. We have seen it for quite a while with abortion, contraception, and euthanasia. Now we can add homosexual unions and sex trafficking. Sexual immorality usually takes the form of doing something out of order – like sex before commitment, doing something unnatural – like homosexuality, doing something unfaithful – like adultery, or doing something out of greed and lust – like rape. All of this wreaks havoc on the psyche of a man. God designed us with the capacity to be peaceful and civilized, content with what we have, and secure in our destinies if (big IF) we follow his instruction manual – The Bible. When we don’t, we have no control over what happens to our brain chemistry. I believe the most profound parts of God’s creation are invisible and cannot be measured with a cause and effect graph on a computer screen. The working of our brain falls in this category. For instance, scientists have known about the phenomenon of imprinting for many years. This happens in the first few hours or days of an animal’s life when it bonds to the type of animals it meets at birth. There are birds today in wildlife rehabilitation centers that have been “psychologically disabled” because of human interference. This happens when they are picked up at birth, taken home as pets, and then are not able to survive on their own in the wild. They didn’t learn to be baby birds. They learned how to be baby humans. It is considered in the scientific world as a phenomenon because it can’t be measured or recorded, or explained away as an evolutionary process. It’s accepted as fact, but the mechanisms behind it are not understood.

Likewise, it’s an accepted fact that chemical bonding occurs when two people have sex. But has anybody studied what kind of chemical reactions occur when that bonding takes place outside of God’s natural design of marriage, especially when it does not lead to a lifetime commitment? I wouldn’t count on the next Nature Magazine to cover that. Sure, we know about jealousy, anger, rage, and bitterness. But these emotions are the natural result of a brain that has been mishandled by an owner who didn’t read the instruction manual. And they don’t just effect the individual. They effect the whole of society. They are evidence that God’s chemistry is still in charge. You can send a man to anger management class, but you can’t order his chemistry to realign. You can send him to church. But if you don’t believe in miracles, how will he change? Just as surrogacy can be imprinted at birth, so too can anger and violence be imprinted with sex outside God’s design, outside the biblical instructions we’ve had for over 2000 years.

How did we throw out the Bible? When pride and arrogance defined humanity along with the belief that an individual’s actions affect no one but himself. It also started with a country willing to throw out Judeo-Christian values in exchange for multi-cultural diversity. And it’s reinforced by the belief that everybody’s opinion is of the same value, which fits nicely in with this country’s recent lean to socialism. Not only everything, but every idea, has been hewn down or brought up to the least common denominator or, as Obama puts it, “middle class economics.” The middle class is right there in that middle gray zone. Illegal alien? No worry, here’s your citizenship. No health insurance? No worry, your neighbor will pay for it. No money for school? No worry, your neighbor will pay for a two-year degree. Don’t have enough money? No worry, your neighbor will give you some of his. Not enough sex? No worry, your neighbor will buy your contraception. Your daddy don’t love you? Hit the streets and you’ll find somebody who will. Somebody make a higher grade than your kid? No worry. Common core will make everybody just as dumb as your kid. Equalizing the playing field is the role of opinion polls and surveys, which are driven by one thing – discussion. The digital world has made it all too easy. Discussion has become its own virtue, regardless of whether it involves Christian ethics. Just as diversity is not a virtue, discussion is not a virtue.

But did you know discussion is the key ingredient in Sharia law? The religion of Islam is based on the discussion of tribal traditions and Mosaic Law. No Christian principles, just infinite shades of individualism and relativism. The most it can hope for is to maintain social norms based on an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. In other words, the survival of the fittest depends on who has the biggest guns and is the most violent. It depends on who can protect their property. One of their most prizes possessions is a woman. Individual rights do not include women’s rights. No discussion about that. There sole reason for existence is to serve the men who own them and, of course, talk favorably about them at all times. So guess where a big hunk of their violence is directed? You guessed it – women. Kicked, punched, slapped, stabbed. It’s all just a way of life for Muslim women. Sound familiar? Have you heard of 50 slashes from the master’s whip?

Unless America wakes up soon and climbs out of the cesspool of moral decay, we will not need the internet to watch live streaming videos of beheadings. They will be happening in our backyards. We will have a government system based on the best of both worlds – Hitler’s Third Reich and Muhammad’s Sharia Law. Just exchange the gas chambers for something a little more violent. Prison sentences will be replaced by flogging, stoning, chopping off hands, and . . . well . . . use your imagination. The brides of the future need not worry about getting chewed out for burning their husband’s steak. Instead, they’ll get a few fingers chopped off. So my advice for single women today who don’t care about Christian ethics is to go see 50 Shades Of Gray. It will groom you to be the perfect wife, a piece of property, a means of pleasure. Just take whatever violence Hollywood glamorizes and multiply that by a hundred to get an idea of what awaits you in the future.

From Purity Balls To Sex Trafficking

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The fastest way for a society to plunge into sex trafficking and abuse of women is to hold the sexual standards of one gender higher than the other. This has been seen over and over again throughout history, all the way from the Greek and Roman Empires to the present. Today in America, girls are being held to a higher standard of sexual ethics while “boys will be boys.” Nowhere is this better seen than purity events, books, TV shows, T-shirts, etc. targeted to girls only (femino-purity). In the short term, they may seem innocent enough. After all, what dad doesn’t want his sweet little Cinderella to wait for Prince Charming? She receives affirmations and encouragement from her church, girlfriends, and of course her family. She’s made to feel special, a part of something bigger than herself. She has the safety of an instant group of friends. She’s following God’s plan. So how could any of this have anything to do with sex trafficking? More than I have space to write about.

First, femino-purity objectifies women by telling them their bodies are more valuable than men’s bodies. They see their bodies as something to guard and protect, which plays well to contemporary ideas of chivalry. At the same time, they are a source of danger for men, if you believe men are more visual than women. So women must make sure they’re not showing an inch of skin that would cause men to lose control in a rage of lust. Instead of creatures made in the image of God to help man, women’s bodies have become objects of desire. To that end, purity becomes no more than icing on a cake and a bonus notch on a bedpost. It becomes part of foreplay. In this view, virginity doesn’t have much to do with the purity of Christ and his marriage to the church. Rather, it has more to do with short-term pleasure and avoiding the commitment of marriage.

Second, femino-purity leads to sexual slavery because it tells boys they are not responsible for their actions. It reinforces in their minds that lack of self-control is the norm. “If they thought this stuff was important to us, why didn’t they include us?” And their answers will include: “It’s just a girl thing. I mean, how many guys wait anyway? Come on, let’s see if Stacy is home yet.” Unfortunately, the organizations that sponsor femino-purity events do not realize that these questions and assumptions resonate all the way down to future generations, to their children’s children. Once sexual values are imprinted, it’s hard to change them. Femino-purity is especially harmful because it is often church affiliated. Most young people go to church to socialize. So whatever peer pressure they’re facing continues right there in youth groups. Few have role models at home. So when young men, who are often confused about their own sexuality, see church, purity, and girls in the same sentence, they are being provided a false picture of God’s creation and human sexuality. They are led to believe that men can act on all of their urges and that it’s the woman’s job to set moral boundaries. Would you take your 5 year-old son to see a same sex “marriage”? Would you want him to go out on his first date with no idea what his sexual standards are? Or would you feel comfortable with his girlfriend calling the shots? Real men do not ask for sex because it’s saved for marriage. Men cede their moral authority and leadership role to women when boundaries have to be defined in the backseat of a car with a yes or no to zippers and straps. “I’m just gonna take all I can get. It’s up to her to say no.” This kind of logic leads men to lose respect for themselves. It places them in a position of moral inferiority. Hence, it’s one of the reasons we have a feminized church today. In the security and commitment of a marriage, these boundary questions don’t come up at all. They’re not supposed to. But since parents don’t discuss sex with them and they are excluded from the femino-purity world, boys never get to discuss self-control or hear how other people deal with it. They grow up to be men who prey on women and see them as objects to own and commodities to be traded – with a price tag attached.

Third, femino-purity tells men that all women want one thing – sex. It tells them that they’ve got what all women want – a body part to fit theirs. “I mean, assembling all these virgins in one room for a purity ball, what else could they want, right?” “We know what they need.” “Those girls must want it want it really bad.” Since it makes marriage and sex the be-all and end-all to their existence, femino-purity does not allow for girls who are not called to marriage. They will be dismissed and bullied as prudes. It doesn’t allow for girls who are waiting on something grander than marriage and sex. They’re purity will “just go to waste.” Sexual trafficking depends on an inaccurate definition of purity and womanhood. It depends on girls who feel unloved and under-valued who acknowledge the compliments and attention of pimps. If a girl doesn’t know her worth and is living in a bad situation at home, with an abusive father for instance, she is more likely to sell her body for food and shelter. Throw in some new clothes and spending money and a pimp’s proposition becomes irresistable.

Fourth, if approached from a non-Christian standpoint, femino-purity devalues girls who have already had sexual relationships, especially if they find themselves in the middle of such an event with girlfriends or for whatever reason. They may look at it like: “Since I’ve already made mistakes, I’ve got nothing else to lose” or “who’s going to want me now?” Instead of using their witness to help prevent other girls from making the same mistakes, they end up on the streets selling their bodies to the highest bidder. When her total worth is defined by her history or past abuse, she becomes quite a bargain.

Fifth, by leaving guys out of the equation, femino-purity allows boys to grow up to be boys – not respectable men. Men who can’t control themselves do not make good fathers and they can’t begin to live a celibate life. With no self control, they can’t afford the price of a Christian marriage. So they either satisfy their sexual desires on the streets or enter into a marriage with the memories of those street flings permanently imprinted in their brains, which greatly increases the chance of divorce. So it’s a vicious cycle. Men don’t know what self control is and women don’t expect it. Thus we have the perfect ingredients for sex trafficking.

Sixth, femino-purity does not allow girls to see what they’re waiting for, if marriage is for them, because purity does not exist in the sterile vacuum of one gender. They never see what a chivalrous man looks like. The prince of their childhood becomes a fleeting fantasy. Then when their knight in shining armor doesn’t appear in early adulthood, they ask themselves “what have I waited for?” They begin to doubt if godly men exist at all. Their dreams of children, the white picket fence, and the American dream start to disappear. What can a femino-purity conference do at this point? Not much. They can’t inject hope into empty shells of heartbreak. Many leave church because they didn’t get what they were “promised” and were never able to put sexuality in its proper perspective. Most churches are reluctant to play any kind of matchmaking role today (which is a shame) because they have no clear standards of what marriage and family is. The best they can do today is fend off same sex marriage. Since many of these disenfranchised girls can’t discern good guys from the bad guys, they are easy prey for smooth-talking pimps.

Seventh, femino-purity places too much emphasis on female anatomy because it excludes male anatomy. The popular opinion today is that guys don’t even have a virginity to lose. And since their purity is never affirmed or valued from a Christian perspective, why should they wait until marriage? Who cares? He’s got condoms and two tickets to paradise. And she’s got contraception. Even if pregnancy occurs, who will pay the heaviest price. The girl, of course. So what’s his incentive not to bang every girl on the street he encounters? Who has told him that the purity of a penis is just as important as the purity of a vagina? Who is reinforcing in his mind that sex belongs in marriage and that marriage is a lifetime commitment? Probably not his parents. Not his church. Not the guys he hangs out with. In his mind, sex is what makes real men. Marriage is just too heavy of a price to pay for sex when it’s cheaper than a loaf of bread on the streets.

Yes, the jump from purity balls to sex trafficking may seem implausible. But the social dynamics made possible today by the internet and other means of communication make such connections ever so possible. It is only to our detriment that we forget young men are social creatures too. Their expectations and behavior are shaped by everything they see and hear. They talk, surprise. Even the bad boys will stop and take note of a room full of virgins. But they don’t have to live by those standards. Did you hear them shout hallelujah? How are you going to control where their mind goes? You can’t, as long as they’re left out of the purity equation. Are you comfortable with your ballerina balls today making pimps for tomorrow? Are you comfortable with your princesses today becoming prostitutes for tomorrow? Put guys back in the equation.

Who Is That Single Man?

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As I’m sure everybody is aware, the word “single” is never used in the Bible to describe someone who is not married. It’s a modern day word of comfort. Oh, but you say just because it’s not in the Bible doesn’t make it bad. Well, sometimes that may be true. But in this case it’s not. Being single today is a legal/social status, not a biblical status. Much of it has to do with the insufficiencies of the English language and the breakdown of sexual ethics. For example, the Christian community used to expect faithfulness in marriage. Even though most couples never lived up to those expectations, marriage has been built up to represent the crown jewel of responsibility. Singleness has been built up to represent the crown jewel of adolescence. You can take your pick of any church on Sunday morning and attend a wedding or celebrate the wedding anniversary of two people who share the same last name. The longer they’ve been married, the longer the applause will be. Fidelity? That’s such a quaint old-fashioned idea. The bar for marriage today is to not get divorced. For many couples, an anniversary could mean they haven’t been caught in adultery yet. Remember the little couple that celebrated 50 years together and got the cake and pink carnation? He could have committed adultery every one of those years with a different woman. But faithfulness doesn’t matter. What matters to the church is that they are still legally married. Even the pagan world concedes that adultery is justification for divorce.

Does the Christian community expect faithfulness from singles? Has anybody in your church ever thanked you for remaining faithful to God and serving as an example of chastity for the next generation? Forget for a second what you’ve heard in sermons and read in Sunday School books. Does the church really respect singleness the same as it does marriage? The person who is genuinely and honestly single not only does not experience the respect of others for his/her singleness, but is now stigmatized even more because 1) the non-Christian liberals on the left judge him to be a prude or not normal and 2) the Christians on the right judge him to be engaging in sexual immorality since sex is so cheap and available. A priest or nun has experienced a celebration in which the church, state, family, and all the world affirmed the meaningfulness of singleness. It allows them to fellowship, socialize, form friendships, work, teach, and belong in close relations with both sexes, married and single, young and old, without their intentions being looked at with suspicion. Such an affirmation is denied the single who is not in a religious order. The lack of any formal affirmation of the adulthood of the single effectively makes marriage the only way to attain adulthood or, as we see today, the default idol of the age. If singleness ever had any meaning, it was tossed out the door when the church surrendered to defeat on cohabitation, no fault divorce, remarriage, abortion, contraception, homosexuality, and every other sexual immoral arrangement you can think of. Society’s ongoing redefinitions of sexual standards and idol worship of the nuclear family has separated sexual relations from the married state and celibacy from the unmarried state. Not only that, it has separated sexual relations from life itself. Any church can sit back and smugly proclaim the goodness of its members and offer comfortable commentary on a “fallen” world. Most don’t have to worry about homosexuality amongst their members. In all but mega-churches, everybody knows everybody. After all, parents bring their children to daycare on Sunday mornings. But the church does live in the real world. They see the same news everybody else sees. They read about the Jersey City priest who was sentenced to prison for molesting three boys. They see the same statistics for the number of singles who have opted for cohabitation instead of marriage or celibacy. In short, the church has become the world. What kind of support has your church shown to those who have renounced marriage? Or do they even know what that means?

The church, like the world, takes it for granted that even unmarried people enjoy some kind of marital relationship. Why have they limited every man’s self control to the level of a predatory alpha male? Could it be that the church has alienated authentic single men of God with their low expectations? Meanwhile, church members continue to hunker down in family “prayer rooms,” trying to think of ways to protect their children from the evils of the world. When a society idolizes the family and starts circling wagons around children, the world becomes everybody who is not their spouse or one of their kids. Life becomes us vs. them. If you’re a single adult and have no history of marriage, divorce, adultery, fornication, children, sex trafficking, prostitution, soliciting prostitution, or sexual abuse – the church today does not know you – because you haven’t fallen from anything. You don’t have a remorseful story of hookups and heartbreak. You don’t have drama. You don’t have a need that can put money in the church’s coffers. Most preachers today don’t even believe sexual impulses can be controlled because they don’t believe in salvation and conversion from a sinful life. Churchgoers have given in to Calvin’s idea of “total depravity” of man and to the world’s belief that chastity is not even possible – inside or outside marriage. They believe that Adam and Eve bent the whole world toward sexual sin forever and that every man is a walking sexual time bomb. All that a man can do is warn women and children when he walks the streets. As the SBC’s David Platt puts it:

“The reality is we are all born with a heart of pride and we are all bent towards sexual deviation, every single one of us. Every single one of us is bent towards sexual deviation . . . If you have gone through adolescence in our culture today you are guilty. You are guilty of looking for sexual expression or sexual fulfillment outside the design of Genesis 1 and 2. Every single one of us is in this boat.”

What I find particularly humorous is his expression “bent towards sexual deviation.” Not quite broken, but bent. How comfortable. I wonder, what would Platt consider a sexual thought that is not bent towards sexual deviation? A statement like that has to mean one of two things: Either man is totally incapable of controlling his sexual desires or that every sexual thought a man has is sinful. Considering he’s a Calvinist-bent Southern Baptist, it’s probably both. According to the Oxford Dictionary, the word bent means “sharply curved or having an angle.” Accepting Christ straightens even the most crooked tree. Even if the tree had bent to the point it had fallen, a salvation experience would redirect its straight up. At one time in Protestant theology, a conversion experience caused a man to completely change direction. I still think it does. After that point his natural tendency is to please God and continue growing upright – not lean in the direction of sin. Hanging everybody on the same bent tree reflects the church’s new theology of accepting and affirming sexual depravity. A new low standard for mankind.

The Southern Baptist’s ethicist Russell Moore, who is known for his attacks on singles, even takes it a step further and says that fornication and sexual immorality are inevitable:

“The preparation for fornication happens when we are young. And we are never beyond the point of being destroyed sexually even when we are old . . . God has hardwired men for sexuality. Sexuality is not like addiction to cigarettes. Sexuality is always and continually raging within a man because God has hardwired a man to be husband and father. Every aspect of sexual desire is to drive you toward that one flesh union that God has designed you for.”

Yes, hardwired with hormones raging and ready to bang every woman he meets. Such a glowing opinion of mankind. I need to keep my batteries charged. How unfortunate today that the Protestant church doesn’t even consider Paul’s celibate exception other than bring it up in the same sex marriage debate. Rather than representing the only Christian lifestyle choice other than marriage, celibacy has come to mean nothing more than the remedy to a homosexual lifestyle. Even though Jesus lived it and Paul recommended it, the church today has turned its back on it. Celibacy, a thing of honor in one era and a thing of dishonor in another. This change in our vocabulary is profound. Christ himself was very aware of the importance of our words. He tried to redefine the word “eunuch” for the skeptical Pharisees in Matthew 19 by taking sexual anatomy out of the definition and making it equivalent to a person who chose to live a celibate life for the kingdom of heaven. “And there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake (Matthew 19:12). But have we learned anything from Christ’s English lesson today? I’m afraid not. The church today is more ignorant than the Pharisees who questioned him along the coasts of Judaea 2000 years ago. Introduce yourself to a new church as a eunuch and see how many dinner invitations you get. Rather than asking Jesus if it’s okay to divorce their wives, the Pharisees today would ask him: “What is marriage?” “Can I marry a goat?” “What is a man?” “Who is that single man?” Somebody disconnect my wires because I’m feeling so . . . bent and out of control.

http://www.radical.net/media/series/view/188/the-gospel-and-homosexuality

http://www.godandculture.com/blog/dr-russell-moore-on-male-sexuality

The Land Of The Gray

Photo by Charles Bonham

Photo by Charles Bonham

I think everyone would agree that Americans are a people of comfort, people who will sacrifice anything for convenience. We also like choices – menu choices, lifestyle choices, education choices, religious choices, multiple choices, etc. We don’t like to choose between A and B. We like to choose between A, B, C, D, and E. We don’t like to choose between black and white. We like to choose from an infinite spectrum of gray. But can our preference in making decisions be carried over to the spiritual realm? Hardly. The land of the gray is not compatible with Christianity. Unfortunately, society today doesn’t even believe in good and evil, but in a vast expanse of uncertainty where sin has been replaced by imperfect examples of good and there are no standards. Hence, the popular concept of gradualism has entered the lexicon of sexual ethics where everything is 50 shades of gray. How did we arrive here? I think much of it can be traced to valuing the world-centered nature of marriage above the heavenly nature of celibacy, family greed above self-sacrifice. Without the perspective of celibacy, marriage devolves into a greed-centered dust cloud of power and pleasure. One without the other is like day without night, ocean without desert, or a body without gravity.

The same has happened to biblical standards. The Ten Commandments have become ideals floating in space; subject to change based on a person’s skin color and socioeconomic status. There’s no right and wrong, only shades of gray on a continuum of relativity, with banners of comfort and acceptance leading the way. And there can be no positive reference to the quaint ideals of virginity and chastity, only mercy and forgiveness and stories of brokenness. Political correctness thrives in a land of gray where marriage has no meaning. Instead of symbolizing God’s marriage to the church, we have a society today where marriage means no more than a free ticket to sex. We have a church that is lost in a land of gray, much like the people of Israel wandering in the land of Egypt. We have a world where sexual sin is met with comfort and affirmation; because political correctness requires a word of hope, never a word of condemnation. Conversion from a life of sin has been cast aside because there is really no sin in the land of the gray. Only redemption. As John Lennon said: “No hell below us. Above us only sky.” We are currently seeing that in the same sex marriage debate. The church is no longer turning to the Bible for answers. They’re turning to opinion polls and surveys. The tragedy is that the lights of evangelism cannot be seen if they have been dimmed to match the gray of the world.

A lot has been said recently about “all or nothing” thinking, especially as it relates to sexual purity and saving sex for marriage. The truth is that the idea originated in the Bible: “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon (Matthew 6:24).” That’s what you call all or nothing. A comfortable area of gradualism and relativism does not exist between serving God and serving Satan. Likewise, a comfortable area of gradualism does not exist between marriage and celibacy, between the affairs of the world and the affairs of God.

Meanwhile, the church – ever so afraid of voicing judgments of value – offers up another dose of appreciation, affirmation, love, and acceptance. “Come one, come all, receive blessings of hope.” Many church leaders have even wandered so far out into the gray area that they consider all relationships virtuous and all committed relationships biblically ordained, whether they’re between a man and woman or a man and a panda. If it feels good, it must be right. And they can’t point out wrongdoing – only positive values they perceive to hold any semblance of a Christian value. Unfortunately, the common core curriculum has come to our churches, where everybody’s opinion is of equal value and all definitions are up for grabs. Indeed, a marriage idolatry society has no clear definition of marriage – only shades of gray between strangers and lovers, meetups and hookups. It only knows how to take, not receive. If you can relate to it, it must have a common good. Many religious scholars today consider “relationality” a virtue in itself because they can’t fathom life outside marriage. They cannot comprehend the binary opposite of marriage – the solitary nature of celibacy. Instead of two clear lifestyle choices of marriage and celibacy, moral relativism allows for multiple choices – homosexuality, cohabitation, polygamy, common law marriage, divorce, remarriage, etc. Whatever arrangement feels good, just raise your hand when the church takes the next survey. After all, marriage is just a piece of paper you get at the courthouse, right? With no definition or defense of marriage, attributes of it have been counterfeited and used to support sinful lifestyles. For example, same sex marriage has been defended because it offers a level of stability, commitment, public bond, deep affection, mutual aid, sacrifice, and responsibility to offspring. Sound familiar? But no one can point out wrongdoing, only the positive aspects of “imperfect” relationships. “Ah, look at that deep level of commitment. Can we get another amen!” Just two animals bumping against each other in a cage and – presto – you’ve got a marriage. Bump again and you’ve got a family.

The same thing has happened to the virtue of purity. It has devolved into a gray area of dirty tape and damaged flowers, worthlessness and shame. You would think those who advocate purity before marriage today were mercenary terrorists, out to destroy the world. Those evil virgins . . . for the love of God! Christianity is not a club offering varying degrees of membership. It is, like virginity, all or nothing. Christ is either accepted or rejected. This is where human sexuality transects the sacred, where two become one flesh. If parents can’t pass these values to their children, it’s not everybody else’s responsibility to make them comfortable. It’s not everybody else’s responsibility to dim the lights to a neutral gray.

Straw men accusations of shame and worthlessness thrive on gray areas in youth culture. But sadly these areas become more black and white when forgiveness doesn’t relieve them of the responsibilities of children they’ve brought into the world, when their STDs are not cured, when they don’t have the money to pay for college, and when their memories are not forgotten. Most tragic is when they realize their sexual history will permanently affect (not doom) their capacity for intimacy in a future marriage, when the tape metaphor makes a little more sense. Maybe it’s time for a little more shame and duct tape to clear the gray area out of chastity and reinforce the permanent nature of the sexual union.

http://www.ignitumtoday.com/2013/09/09/just-dont-say-it-chewed-gum-spit-cups-and-duct-tape/

Rape/sex abuse is not addressed on this blog.