Be Fruitful And Multiply? An Alternative Message For High School Students

ReFruit-Tree

I’ve listened to many “be fruitful and multiply” sermons over the years and have always chalked them up to preachers who never found the New Testament in their Bibles. But I heard one recently that was addressed to graduating high school seniors that left me speechless. In high Baptist style, the students marched in single file with caps and gowns on to the tune of Pomp and Circumstance, sat on the first two pews marked “reserved,” and waited for their names to be called to walk onstage to get a new Bible and a picture with the preacher. Before the last one could sit down though, the preacher directed the audience (or is it still a congregation?) to turn their Bibles to Genesis Chapter 1. I felt a little dizzy and said a quick prayer, “Oh God, please don’t let this be what I think it’s going to be.” Unfortunately, it was, and to a degree I’ve never heard before. Just a few quotes:

“Okay seniors, you’ve reached your destination. Now it’s time to take your next step. Do you know what that’s going to be? It’s right here in the Bible. You’re going to be fruitful and multiply. That means it’s your time to make babies. That means one man and one woman. Let me say that again, one man and one woman.” The woman sitting behind me almost knocked my head off as she jumped to her feet clapping and cheering. Hoots and applause broke out all over the church, as if the home team just scored a touchdown. The pastor continued with other advice for them. “Now, let me make it clear that if you’re not physically defective in some way it’s your responsibility to make babies. The Bible says be fruitful and multiply. The people who don’t are immature and lazy. You’ve got to take the next step, because the future of the church depends on you.” Again, the congregation erupted in applause. I think I saw some confetti stream down from the balcony.

Church, if this is your way of shoring up the defenses around your nuclear families to guard against homosexuality, same sex marriage, and every other evil this world has to offer, you are shooting yourself in the foot. Here’s why: God can speak to a young person’s heart and tell them to remain as they are and not get married before they even know they have the spiritual gift of celibacy. When they reach those crossroads/decisions in their lives, they can be led off course by maps that are not correct and by foolish advice, like the sermon I quoted above. The things they are taught in church CANNOT be ambiguous. They have to be crystal clear. More importantly, they CANNOT be directed at the majority, like the “majority” who will marry and have families. God’s word does not operate on the same statistical principles as birth control pills. Advice given in church must include all of God’s children, not just those who will grow up and have families one day. If someone is considering a life of celibacy, they should be studying both the Old Testament and the words of Christ in the New Testament, especially 1 Corinthians. Other than serving as a historical lesson, the Mosaic Law as it pertains to human reproduction has no place in church teaching. A person who has the celibate gift will have enough insight into the New Testament to know that Christ’s death and resurrection nullified the Old Testament’s command to be fruitful and multiply. But confusing that insight with false teaching is JUST AS WRONG as a man asking another man’s wife out on a date. It’s even worse to assume that the first big decision a young person makes is who to marry and not discerning if they should get married at all. Teenagers mature sexually at different rates – both physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Though it may seem unfathomable to the idolatrous church today, it is possible to mature sexually without having sex. Of the high school seniors present in church that Sunday morning, some of them could have been making marriage plans, some of them could have been dating, some of them could have been without boyfriends or girlfriends, and some of them could be totally confused and have no idea what they want to do. For the church to assume all young people are called to marriage and making babies is blasphemy.

For the students there that morning who didn’t feel called to traditional marriage, what did they PERCEIVE as their choices? There could be only two. 1) They could pursue the default lifestyles of cohabitation and homosexuality. There is plenty of support for them out there; in college, on the streets, and even in churches. How do churches support the homosexual lifestyle? By idolizing marriage and family and not presenting celibacy as a viable alternative, by not upgrading their denominational theology from the Mosaic Law of the Old Testament to the Jesus of the New Testament, and by defining family only in terms of the nuclear family and not recognizing spiritual children resulting from repentance and salvation. Many conservative congregations take pride in not being middle of the road churches. They regularly quote Matthew 6:24: “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.” The same principle should apply to their teachings. They are either one hundred percent biblical and true or one hundred percent non-biblical and false. The admonition to be fruitful and multiply, when taken out of context and without explaining the new covenant of the New Testament, is one hundred percent false.

2) Of course the only other choice they perceived is a life of celibacy. What support is there for that option? There is certainly no support in the secular world. There is certainly no support in Protestant churches. So which lifestyle do you think those who don’t see marriage in their future are going to choose? Love and acceptance shacking up outside of marriage, a universally accepted homosexual lifestyle, or ridiculed as defective and fruitless in a church that doesn’t know what the truth is? It’s pretty obvious. The sermon I referred to above was streamed live on the internet and could potentially be responsible for untold numbers of young people entering the gay lifestyle where they are accepted and encouraged and where they don’t have to fit a predefined traditional “church family” role. I consider telling a group of high school seniors that they are expected to be fruitful and multiply to be pastoral malpractice, one of the highest forms of treason any church leader can be held responsible for.

The question I keep asking myself is why would a church silence the New Testament and Apostle Paul’s writings on human sexuality? After all, he had the most to say on the subject. Why would they not see a life of celibacy as a viable option and just as sacred as marriage and as meaningful as Paul presented it in 1 Corinthians? The only answer I can come up with is that the Baptist churches have sunken so deep in their divorce, adultery, birth control, abortion culture that the idea of self-control and a life without sex is beyond their comprehension. Maybe they are that averse to the word “celibacy” and everything it conjures up in their minds. Maybe they think it’s too Catholic. If that’s the case, may I suggest that the church reclaim the word “celibacy” and wipe it clean of the homosexuality and perversion the world has cast on it. If churches continue to play their one note chord of marriage and family, with celibacy an implied impossibility, all they are multiplying is the number of same sex marriages in the future and they are guaranteeing the death of traditional Christian marriage. Instead of looking at those with the celibate gift today as defective, consider us a witness to the power of God and proof that he still works miracles. Instead of seeing us as selfish and wanting to avoid responsibility, look at what we are giving up and what we are looking forward to in eternity with Christ. Instead of dismissing Paul’s words as only relevant for his time, consider us evidence that the Bible is just as true today as it was 2000 years ago. Instead of trying to work us into your fruitful nuclear families, think of us as heralding a new age where there will be no marriages, babies, or families. So my advice for students is this: Read the Bible for yourself. If you hear anything in church about Genesis and being fruitful and multiplying without a discussion of the New Testament and celibacy for the kingdom of God, consider it false teaching. It doesn’t matter what the credentials of the person doing the talking is. It doesn’t matter what his job title is or how much money he makes. It doesn’t matter who is wife is or how many kids he has. He is not qualified to whisper one syllable of advice on this subject. He is more than likely a married man who has no clue. We are no longer living under Mosaic Law. You are free to remain as you are with lifetime chastity or get married. Notice that I used the words chastity and freedom in the same sentence. Is that radical enough? Apostle Paul said both marriage and celibacy are good. That’s what I say.

The Hypocrisy Of The Church

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Many articles have been written about churches refusing to accept the resumes of qualified unmarried men when they look for a pastor. Not surprisingly, the reasons remain the same – They want a man who can relate to their families, they want a man who knows about the responsibility of a family, they want a man with a proven track record, they want a man who will not hit on the women in their church, they want a man who is not a homosexual, they want a man who has sewn his wild oats and settled down. Churches take pride on looking for their family man. They even brag about their family church and how they need a family preacher. The only problem is that none of it is in the Bible. Who will relate to unmarried people? Or do they not really matter? The requirement of a married preacher is never mentioned in scripture. What these churches are doing, however, is providing a deeply perverted witness to the rest of the world. The hypocrisy of the church is the number one reason we have same sex marriage in this country today. I realize many of them claim that a married man is what their congregations want. If that’s the case, then what gives congregations the authority to overwrite the scripture? Isn’t it really just a case of moral relativity disguised in choir wardrobes? Isn’t it just bigotry dressed up in Sunday clothes? If a congregation preferred a homosexual preacher, would that be written down as scripture too?

Now, if you asked a churchgoer what they had against an unmarried man being called to preach in their church, most of them would say they loved all single men and welcomed them into their church. This is another problem that needs to be underscored – Churches and their good intentions are far removed from reality and from what the world sees. Questions about marital status and number and age of children have been used for years to discriminate against women. What would happen if the EEOC had authority over the hiring practices of churches? That’s easy. All churches would be without a preacher tomorrow. But for now, they continue to work their cotton fields with a good rope on a tree limb for anybody that’s not white enough, married enough, or wealthy enough. To come under compliance with EEOC regulations, at least half of their preachers (CEOs) would have to be single men. What’s the chance of that ever happening?

Another thing that needs to be taken seriously is authenticity. For anybody to speak about the gift of celibacy (singleness) in church, they need to possess the gift themselves or have someone standing beside them who does. You can theorize all you want and talk about how things should be. But this is something the church must see. Paul was not afraid to say “I wish every man was like me.” But would Paul even be allowed in churches today? Married folks – How would you like me to host a marriage retreat at your church? See how light is thrown into dark shadows when the tables are reversed?

The Christmas Gift Nobody Wants

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The Southern Baptists’ David Platt recently posted a transcript of one of his sermons titled “The Gospel and Singleness.” See the link below to his radical.net web site. At first I thought it was a spoof, like a standup comic routine, except I didn’t hear any laughter. Like most Baptist preachers, he denies that the gift of celibacy even exists, but now he takes it a step further and calls it the Christmas gift nobody wants. Platt has a long history of shaming single men and telling them to man up and get married. Here are a few excerpts from the sermon. He focused mainly on 1 Corinthians 7:

“It’s clear that, obviously, there’s Paul making a statement here about singleness being a gift and marriage being a gift. The discussion revolves around what kind of gift is he referring to? Some people think he is talking about a subjective gift, much like the picture we have in 1 Corinthians 12, when it comes to spiritual gifts. This divine enabling for someone to be a single. Just like you have another spiritual gift, you have a gift of singleness.”

As usual, Platt starts out ridiculing Apostle Paul and anything to do with the gift of singleness. It’s still “singleness” to the Baptists because they can’t bring themselves to utter the word celibacy. In their comfortable “focus on the family” worlds, they don’t think twice about mocking those with such a gift by calling them “divinely enabled.” There are some protestant scholars today who are so uncomfortable with celibacy that they believe Paul had been married before he wrote the epistles. To acknowledge that much self control would shed too much light on their adulterous marriages. See the link to Denny Burk’s article. Paul did not identify himself as having the gift of celibacy because he was widowed or didn’t have a marriage license, but because he was giftedly committed to God to live without a sexual relationship. Yes, he was indeed divinely enabled, just as some people are today. But Platt speculates he might have been a homosexual. Like most Baptists, he has to discuss these matters amongst his brethren to see how they match up with the Bible. It’s called moral relativism, where popular opinion determines if something is accepted as biblical fact or dismissed as a “subjective gift.” It’s a theology based on changing culture, which Platt so eloquently described:

“How many people with the gift of marriage sit around and wonder, ‘Well, do I have the gift of marriage?’ Don’t answer that too quickly. The picture is, of course, I’ve got the gift of marriage . . . the reality is Scripture said you’re married.”

Yes, reality is scripture for the Baptists. Not the Bible. And they need to sit down for this shocking revelation: Marriage licenses are not scripture. Marriage licenses are not required for salvation. It almost seems as if Platt’s treatise is a study in how to talk about a trojan horse (marriage licensees) without ever mentioning them by name. It’s unfortunate that our morally bankrupt and totally depraved and Calvinized churches today can comfortably assume that every adult who is alive and breathing either has a marriage license or is “living in sin.” As a matter of fact, the SBC’s Ethics Commission President, Russell Moore, recently said marriage “preaches” the gospel and that single people are lost without one. He even believes fornication is “more dangerous” than adultery for a man because it takes a wife to forgive him. See links below. If you’re caught in a Baptist church not preaching the gospel with sex, woe be unto you:

“Here’s what I mean. What if what Paul is saying here is not, ‘We’ve got to figure out whether or not we’ve got the gift or not’ – because let’s be honest, regardless of whether or not a single person in this room thinks they have the gift or not, the reality is they’re still single.”

They’re still single? Why is it so easy for Platt to peg everyone in his audience as married or single? It’s because marriage and celibacy are not spiritual or sexual issues for the Baptists. They are legal issues. Marriage to them means no more than a marriage license and a preacher collecting his fee and singleness means no more than the absence of a marriage license. God comes to them through courthouse doors. That’s why they still haven’t figured out there’s a difference between “single” people waiting on marriage and people with the gift of celibacy waiting on the return of Christ. That’s why they don’t recognize the difference between a wife and a virgin (1 Corinthians 7:34). They can’t see virgins. They can only see marriage licenses and wedding ceremonies, wedding rings and bridal registries. To believe in something they can’t see would take faith. How would a young man (or woman) even discern if they had the gift of celibacy today? Should they read their Bibles? Should they pray and ask the Lord for guidance? Should they talk to their pastor? No. The Baptists have some new advice for them: They should ask their frat buddies in college:

“What’s interesting is I remember in college talking with guys and this was often the topic of conversation – the gift of singleness – and guys would kind of talk about it and wonder, ‘How do you know if you’ve got it?’ And if a guy, you know, wasn’t getting a date or something, he was like, ‘Well, maybe I’ve got the gift.’ And they would talk about it. But the reality is, if we’re really honest, they were talking about it like they certainly didn’t want it. This was like the Christmas gift you didn’t want, that you would immediately return when you got it. It was like, ‘Well, I hope I don’t have the gift. You know, I hope this doesn’t mean I have the gift. And I started thinking, ‘Okay, well, how do you know if you have the gift? And if it’s a gift, then why does nobody want it?’ So thinking about this picture here, I don’t believe this is what Paul is talking about here.”

What a decision to make – a keg of beer or a weekend without sex. If you consider the divorce rate, I’d say marriage is a Christmas gift nobody wants. This is where the moral relativism and comfortable assumptions come to their rescue. Since none of his frat buddies had the gift of celibacy, he felt comfortable assuming nobody had it. Can’t get a date? The Baptists have you covered. Don’t want a date? Your fate is worse than hell itself.

“The reality is every single one of us has one of those two gifts. Some of us have the gift of marriage at this moment and some of us have the gift of singleness – not necessarily a gift of singleness that will last 60 years.”

That’s so comfortable. Everybody has to have a gift to unwrap under the Christmas tree at this moment, right? Paul wasn’t even saying that marriage is a gift. The truth is, society can never understand the commitment of marriage as long as they don’t acknowledge the commitment of celibacy for people called to that life. The disrespect for marriage has finally caught up to the disrespect for celibacy. That’s why I consider marriage today to be a “subjective gift” and a “divinely enabled” disaster. In Matthew 19, Christ made it clear that the gift of celibacy cannot be understood or accepted by everybody. That includes men with five degrees, like David Platt. It does not mean it cannot be acknowledged and respected, though. As long as there are people like him in positions of church leadership, the gift of celibacy will never see respect. I understand he’s now in charge of the SBC’s International Mission Board and has recently cut the positions of over 1000 missionaries in order to funnel the savings to one of his internet startup companies. Hypocrisy – It’s what a lot of churches do best. Maybe he’s found a new place to share all of his . . . Christmas toys.

It’s really no surprise that Platt christened himself as an expert on singleness because he’s been married all of his adult life, since he was 21 years old. The only thing that can be gleaned from his “The Gospel And Singleness” is how to make up something if you don’t know what you’re talking about and how to rewrite scripture when it becomes uncomfortable and doesn’t agree with popular opinion. We have to keep in mind, though, what “gospel” means to the Baptists. They’ve used it to describe everything from “the gospel and homosexuality” to “the gospel and the American dream.” I understand they’re working on “the gospel and fried green butterbeans.” It basically means, “This is our opinion.” There’s no telling what Platt will have his hands on next. Stay tuned, though. He could take a vote to see if Jesus was married.

http://www.radical.net/resources/sermons/the-gospel-and-singleness

Was the Apostle Paul Married?

Premarital Sex?

http://www.al.com/living/index.ssf/2016/02/pastors_should_refuse_to_marry.html

http://www.thealabamabaptist.org/print-edition-article-detail.php?id_art=35171&pricat_art=10

http://www.radical.net/sermons/sermons/the-gospel-and-homosexuality/

The Unholy Marriage License

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In Justice Kennedy’s majority ruling legalizing same sex marriage, he stated that, “The homosexuals’ hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.” In his mind, homosexuals are not condemned to live in loneliness because they are homosexuals. They can have “sex” and get rid of that loneliness anytime they want to. He considered them condemned because they didn’t have what every pious church-going person has worshiped for the last 500 years – a marriage license. It just took that long for these sacred pieces of paper to be declared civil rights and erected as graven images. That shouldn’t be a shock. Churches have worshiped “holy matrimony” and “family values” for years, while turning a blind eye to the biblical meaning of marriage. What happened to the people who didn’t fit this nuclear family ideal? What happened to people who didn’t marry? Justice Kennedy couldn’t have said it better. They were excluded.

It’s interesting that he used the civil rights language of “excluded” in his majority opinion. To be excluded requires that a person be denied something they feel they have a right too. When any social construct reaches the level of mass acceptance that same sex marriage has, it doesn’t matter what the church says. It doesn’t matter what it thinks the rules are. It only matters what the masses think. And right now they think marriage just exists as a kind of financial contract, to divide up property in cases of divorce and to minimize tax liabilities. On a spiritual level, it has no meaning whatsoever. So it would be inhuman to exclude someone from all its glories, not to mention adulthood itself. So the Obergefell ruling was never about Christian marriages or any of that one flesh union kind of thing, because the church took sex out of the marriage equation decades ago. It also took self-control out of the single equation and replaced it with child marriages and acceptance of sexual immorality. According to the Southern Baptist’s Al Mohler:

“Evangelicals tend to marry slightly earlier than other Americans, but not by much. Many of them plan to marry in their mid-20s. Yet waiting for sex until then feels far too long to most of them. And I am suggesting that when people wait until their mid-to-late 20s to marry, it is unreasonable to expect them to refrain from sex. It’s battling our Creator’s reproductive designs.

The truth is, churches consider sexual restraint an impossibility. Their choirs break out in glorious exaltation if their members can make it from the parking lot to the pews without breaking out in mass orgies. But celibacy? That’s just an unreasonable expectation. Without faith in those who have the gift of celibacy, they can never have any faith in the gift of marriage. What do young people in church think about marriage? What is it that they are waiting on? It can’t be sex because that’s an unreasonable expectation. It’s a marriage license, of course. For just a small fee, they are granted full adulthood status and the men are even allowed to preach. So the marriage license itself has become the tradition in which marriage is based on, not the sacred union described in the Bible. Weddings came to be about “making things right” instead of doing things right to begin with. When a woman today is identified as a wife and serves as a role model in church, does that mean she has been faithful to her husband all those years or does it mean she has a marriage license? It has to be the marriage license because sex is too dirty to talk about in church. When a woman is identified as a single, does that mean she has been faithful to God and remained chaste all those years or does it mean she does not have a marriage license? It has to be the marriage license. What witness does that send to the world? How many county clerks defended marriage like Kim Davis did? How many churches have supported single adults? When Justice Kennedy effectively broadened the plaintiffs in the same sex marriage case to include those who did not have a marriage license, he included all single people who had been condemned to this horrific fate. Justice Kennedy merely turned the tables and used the church’s own traditions against them. The church killed biblical marriage, not the Supreme Court.

Marriage should never have been associated with the state or legal system to begin with. I’m not even sure how anyone can claim there is separation of church and state in this country. Preachers and priests are still acting as agents of the state and signing marriage licenses. I guess the display of nativity scenes is a much more grievance offense. The fascination with legal documents, distribution of wealth, inheritance claims, collection of tithes, and child custody have always served as the foundational building blocks of traditional Protestant churches. It has always been the marriage way or no way. In his majority opinion, Kennedy even stated, “Marriage remains a building block of our national community.” He copied that from the Southern Baptist’s own ethics manual: “The family is the basic building block of society and a biblical understanding of the family is essential for building a healthy society.” So the church killed marriage, not the Supreme Court.

Is there anything Christian about a nuclear family? Is there anything holy about a marriage? According to the Bible, there’s not. Jesus rejected the tradition of biological kinship: “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking at those who sat around him he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” Mark 3:33-35, Luke 8:19-21, Matthew 12:46-50. So while Christ opened the doors for everyone to know him, even eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven, the church closed their doors on everybody who was not a member of a nuclear family. They may have advertized “church family” on billboards, but reality was much different inside their church walls. Some of the faithful are even expecting Christ to visit courthouses first when he returns, so that he can check the marriage and divorce records. What a shock it will be when they receive even greater condemnation than the scribes and Pharisees and come face to face with a celibate Christ who doesn’t care who their families are. However, those who have been faithful celibates will have their spiritual children by their side. So, we may end up with a longer term marriage and more kids than all the Supreme Court justices combined. And Kennedy will look like a very lonely man. Who will be condemned then?

http://cslr.law.emory.edu/fileadmin/media/PDFs/Lectures/Witte_Freedom_Christian.pdf

http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/fixgov/posts/2015/06/26-obergefell-v-hodges-same-sex-marriage-rauch

https://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/14-556

http://www.albertmohler.com/category/topics/singleness/

https://baptistnews.com/faith/theology/item/8107-redeeming-fornication

http://www.hunewsservice.com/news/view.php/50567/Atlanta-Church-Leads-in-Accepting-LGBT-C

http://www.frontstreet.org/preschool

How Should Same-Sex Marriage Change the Church’s Witness?

The Shadow Of Death

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Code in Ambulance by Daniel Sundahl

When I woke up, I didn’t know where I was. Actually, I didn’t know who I was. I felt dizzy. Nauseated. Everything was spinning. Where was I? It was a big room with a lot of whirling machines and bright lights. I was freezing cold. I could smell rubbing alcohol and plastic. There was a lot of clanking metal. I could hear people talking. Then the faces of two ladies came into focus as they leaned over my bed. “Mr. Morgan, everything went just fine. We’ll be sending you back to your room in just a minute.” I was in an operating room. They were the anesthesia team who had put me to sleep for the first in a series of electroconvulsive therapy treatments. I was waking up. “Oh God, I’m not still alive am I? I want to die.”

I have bipolar I disorder. Medicines had failed to work on this cycle of depression and the ECTs were a last ditch effort to bring me out of the darkness. I’d rather have both arms and legs cut off than to have to go through this again. Don’t worry though. I’ve lived with bipolar disorder for about 30 years. Hospitals have become a way of life, or should I say a tortured way of life. Everybody knows me in the Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit. My art work is hanging on their hallways. The nurse sees my stretcher coming down the hall and yells, “John! You’re back again?” I call it making the most of a bad situation. They roll me into my room. Some of my memory is coming back. I’ve been here before. Hope I have a quiet roommate because I don’t want to deal with anybody. Wait, what year is it? Who are the two old people in my room? The lady bends down and hugs my neck as she wipes away tears. I know that perfume. “Just remember that mama loves you.” Mama? Is that my mother? They walk out of the hospital room and I wipe tears from my eyes. Oh God, why me? The evening wears on and some of the other patient’s gather in the day room to watch T.V. One guy walks in with a guitar. Everybody gets quite. I remember this young man from a previous admission. He’s really sick. Somebody turns the T.V. volume down. He tunes it up a bit and looks up and says, “Would you like to hear a song?” Everybody cheers him on. For about the next hour I listened to a classical guitar performance that I should have paid money to see. The most gifted people I know live in psych units and long term psych facilities.

I wake up the next morning and cannot move. “Time to get up!” the nurse yells through my door. My roommate groans. I drag myself down the hallway to the third door on the left to get in the shaving line. When it comes my turn, I step up to the same little piece of metal bolted to the wall. I always miss a real mirror. I splash water on my face, shave, and then go get in the breakfast line.  Many people question whether miracles still happen. I can tell you they do. I’m still alive. I have spent years of my life in hospitals and psych facilities, seen enough doctors to start my own medical clinic, taken enough medicine to start my own pharmacy, and had enough electrical energy passed through my brain to build my own power grid. I’ve been launched into the stratosphere of bipolar mania and buried under the shadow of death. I should have been dead a long time ago.

But wait a second. This is a celibacy blog. People with bipolar disorder have wild sex lives, don’t they? They can’t control themselves and the men rape every woman in site. You probably believe that. Unless you or someone in your family has been affected by mental illness, you’re at the mercy of public ignorance. Just based on my bio, most people would have me pegged as just another free frolicking “John” living the good life as a single dude. Some may even think I know all the girls on the streets by their first names. Chalk my case up to a miracle. I would even say that having bipolar disorder has given me insight into mental illnesses and developmental disorders I otherwise would not have. Most of my best friends live with them – schizophrenia, autism, ADHD, and OCD, etc. I try to keep up to date on the latest research and treatments and am a mental health advocate. I work with NAMI, crisis centers, and speak to classes in high schools about our brains and what can go wrong. What I really miss is my memory.

So if there are still any romanticized ideals out there about people with the gift of celibacy being highly exalted and honored and perfect people, I hope this serves to break that stereotype. I’m not a bright and happy shiny person. If you still have me pictured as a monk floating blissfully over a field of “celibate service” while performing 15th century Gregorian chants, please replace that with reality. Reality is not always pretty.

If I Had A Son Or Daughter

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At the peach water tower in Clanton, AL

I live in an area where there are a lot of peach farms. Imagine that a peach growers seminar came to town, sponsored by our county cooperative extension office. Hundreds of people showed up asking a lot of similar questions about peaches. We were on the same wavelength, so to speak. The county had experts talking about different varities of peaches, soil types, irrigation systems, dormant hours, pesticides, everything you can think of that was related to peaches. When it was all over, everybody agreed that it was most informative and several people asked about another one next year. A week later, I got a call from the county agent, telling me that he received a letter from a man complaining about the seminar. He said he was a blueberry grower and lost his entire crop because he followed the seminar’s recommendations. The county agent called the man and explained to him the seminar was strictly for peach growers, which was made clear on all the publicity. The only answer the man could give was that he thought there was no difference in how blueberries and peaches were grown. He wrote an editorial for the newspaper, saying that he thought the county extension service was insensitive and non-inclusive and that we were all wrapped up in peach culture. Not wanting to leave anybody out, the county did a survey and found there were only two blueberry farms in the county, which makes sense because this is peach territory. It was later reported that we had the best peach crop in 15 years.  If we have a peach seminar next year, do you think it should include a half-day of blueberry advice just in case somebody else shows up who is confused, or should we continue with an all-peach seminar?

I realize this is not a perfect analogy, but if I had a son or daughter of any age waiting on marriage who attended a purity seminar, it wouldn’t matter to me how many people showed up who had made past mistakes, how dirty they felt, what their expectations were, whether it improved their dating life or self esteem, what kind of people they eventually married, how loud they complained, how uncomfortable they felt, how less of a person they felt, how religious or hateful they thought we were, how much shame they felt, how alienated or out of place they felt, or if they felt their lives were of less value. Honestly, I’ve wondered why anybody who was not a virgin would show up at a purity seminar to begin with. Are they confused? Do they not know what sex is? Actually, I’d like it better if they didn’t show up. If my child got something out of it and felt more committed to wait, that’s the only thing that would be important to me. I would do all I could to get the seminar back next year. Purity is always going to make people uncomfortable. Even the language we use is so offensive to the world that it brings up more straw men than we can keep up with. But we do have control over how our time and resources are spent. And we do have a choice about what our priorities are. Dirty chewing gum?  If it works, bring a truckload of it.  Christian priorities should never be rearranged to placate emotions or to be politically correct.

Dear 32 Year Old Virgin . . .

Lots-of-Candles-Birthday

There’s a recent article on Boundless titled “An Older Virgin in a Sex-Crazed World.” In it, a young lady complains about an “interrogation” she endured while undergoing x-rays to treat a ruptured lung. The technician asked her if she was on birth control, how she knows she’s not pregnant, and if there was any chance she could be pregnant now. She goes on to tell about her friend grilling her about her virginity in high school, how the world has placed pleasure before commitment, how fornication is everywhere, and how sex crazed society is today. What’s interesting is that the young lady who wrote it describes herself as a 32-year-old “older virgin.” Oh please. Do people not get out and meet each other anymore? Or are we wrapping ourselves up in our own little virtual cocoons? The 20-30 year-old young ladies who assume they are old enough to have the last word on virginity never cease to amaze me, and there are hundreds more on the internet. To quote Leslie Ann: “I’m no longer a naïve 19-year-old eager to spring into a relationship just to be romanced. I know the realities of married life by years of study and observance.” Well, gosh darn it, let’s go ahead and give her a Ph.D.  Or maybe she could write a book.  Let me just say this to Miss Leslie Ann and the hundreds of other young ladies who write on this subject – You are to be commended for making it to your 20s and 30s and still be a virgin. That does indeed put you in rare company. But there are much older virgins than you. As difficult as it is to believe, there are some old enough to be your fathers and grandmothers. I always find it quite interesting that they’re never discussed on your blogs. Honestly, I think arrogance is the fastest way for a beautiful young lady to become . . . not so beautiful. So in the big scheme of things, you are still quite a child and your opinions are not as important as you think they are. Some people may think I’m being cruel. But here’s why I think putting age in perspective is important: By making such assumptions about chastity and age and considering it only from the female perspective, we are reinforcing the age old stereotypes and double standards that cause such awkward questions as those Leslie Ann heard from her x-ray technician. When age is mentioned in the Bible, it is usually to break a stereotype – like the old ages of Elizabeth and Sarah when they gave birth. Imagine the people who scoffed when they heard about their pregnancies.  What was the purpose of them being old at childbirth?  Was it to teach them or their husbands a lesson?  Or was it to teach us a lesson today?  I tend to think it is the latter.  If 32 years of age is considered an older virgin, I guess I should see 54 years as one foot short of the grave. I could write an article and title it, “54 Year Old Virgin Calls For Priest During Last Hours.” While you may never meet me on the streets, you are able to read my story through the miracle of the internet. I do hope it inspires you. So even though the internet has brought with it a lot of bad things, I think our blogs and different ways of communicating can be very good things. Since I live in a very rural area, the internet has allowed me to get to know many people I would not have otherwise known. Plus, it allows me to stay in touch with my mentor, a virgin much older than myself. Yes, Leslie, they are out there. If we are only aware of the immediate world around us, like the people we go to school with and people we work with, then we will age much faster as virgins. At 30 we will look at ourselves in the mirror and see an old person who is odd and out of place. Sexual abstinence before marriage will indeed look very unrealistic.  But if we expand our realities with every means of communication at our disposal and humble ourselves enough to know there are older and wiser people out there, we will age much slower. Then at 30 we can look at ourselves in the mirror and see our younger selves with the confidence that comes from following God’s will and courage from knowing that others have come before us. I believe virginity is very much a relational issue on a social scale.  It’s not enough to tell someone, “We waited until we were married to have sex.  You can too.”  That rings hollow.  It takes real authentic people to pass this virtue to the next generation.  So when you put everything in perspective Leslie Ann, I hope being a virgin at 32 doesn’t feel so old after all. Let’s not bow down to the expectations of this world, but allow God to intervene in our lives beyond our wildest dreams.  He is still the same God who rescued Moses from the pharaoh and the same God who performs miracles today.

http://www.boundless.org/blog/an-older-virgin-in-a-sex-crazed-world/