The Social Status Of Celibacy

solitude

When the world talks about celibacy today, their minds focus on one thing – not having sex. They see us as cold-hearted, indifferent, unlovable people. Their minds conjure up images of priests, pedophiles, and homosexuals. I have prayed years for that to change. When I first accepted the call to celibacy about 25 years ago, I resisted anything I read that said all humans are social creatures. “I can do this on my own,” I thought. “What do I need people for? It’s just me and God.” Well, on some levels I was right about that. But on other levels I was wrong. Some of my concerns require me to be around people. There are many other people I would like to know. I have found very few married people that have time to get to know me. And I have found even fewer single people who can tear themselves away from the dating scene to get to know me. I’ve even signed up for some dating sites just to meet people. Is that odd or what? On some levels I have considered my aloneness to be part of the celibate gift and for people to see just how insignificant marriage will be in eternity. When Jesus spoke of not everyone being able to accept celibacy (Matthew 19), I think he was including our capacity for solitude. The world doesn’t accept solitary people. They are viewed as loners, drifters, and suspicious people to stay away from. I’m very comfortable with solitude and couldn’t live without it. It’s like a well-worn baseball glove. It fits me. I think there’s a difference between being lonely and being solitary. Lonely implies that something is missing. Solitude implies that the time alone has been filled by something of greater significance – like getting to know God, pondering the mysteries of the universe, and coming to understand how God can use me in the world. If we are eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven, doesn’t than mean that our roles have already begun on this earth? What are we waiting for? Wasn’t Christ himself a solitary man? He spent a lot of time alone in the desert, on mountaintops, in the temples, and in the gardens. Look at how far we’ve drifted from him. The word Celibacy is actually Latin for “alone” and Christ set the standard for it. It bears witness to the fact that we are all solitary people and that we will stand before God alone in judgment one day soon. We will not have a family to stand by us and give a testimony. There will be no jury and only one judge. But we are not called to defeat.

I think we severely under-estimate what God can do and how much he loves those who seek his will. I can testify to that firsthand. I think we tend to think of God as either a party-pooper or prize-giver. Neither of them could be further from the truth. God created us and knows what makes us tick. He knows what’s best for us. And he can align every cell in our body to do his will, including our brain cells. He can change your way of looking at something you thought was unchangeable. He can reroute destructive desires so that they build up instead of tear down. God is the ultimate social planner because he is concerned about our relationships with our neighbors. In Mark 12:31, he plainly tells us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. So no matter who we are, where we live, whom we know, or what we consider our social status to be, we are called to treat everybody with decency and respect. Isn’t that how we would want to be treated ourselves?

Virginity – The Great Equalizer

crowd

Virginity. I know it’s a word that’s not politically correct these days. Pedophiles get more positive press coverage than virgins. It’s unbelievable that we live in a world where virginity is ridiculed and homosexuality is celebrated, where “purity culture” is put down as condemning and and Ashley Madison is hailed as the next best thing since day after pills. And the ultra-religious right and chastity advocates are getting in on the action. For many of them, true love doesn’t wait any more, and chastity successfully integrates with whatever feels good at the time and what you need to be popular. Yes, we live in a time where a personal history does not exist. Whatever you did last week, just ask God for forgiveness and all is forgotten. After all, why should a pesky little thing like virginity get in the way of your self-discovery and the guy or girl of your dreams? Chastity doesn’t remember your past, right? It does for Christians. How can we learn and grow without a past? There are those today who are trying to remove any remnant of the Confederate Army from America’s history. They are comfortable with repeating all of our mistakes. As uncomfortable as it may be, all of us have histories. Just because a person has not had sex does not mean they are perfect. I am not trying to condemn anybody with my post, because I know that most people do not accept my belief that marriage begins with sex, regardless of the legal and social formalities. I am trying to point out that sex changes a person at all levels of their existence – physically, emotionally, spiritually, and intellectually. And that the state before marriage is just as important as the state after marriage. It doesn’t matter if we accept it or not. It doesn’t matter if we call virgins “holy rollies” or “40 year old fruitcakes.” God calls everybody to wait on marriage before having sex. And there are people who are waiting. That’s a biblical fact. The world hates the idea of sexual innocence and praises experience of all sorts, from bed post notches to orgy score cards. Its idea of sex has devolved into a cage of groping animals. The deeper it sinks into perversion, the more uncomfortable it will be with virginity. We don’t have to answer to straw men. The Bible stands on its own.

It’s always been interesting to me that the subject of Christian sexuality usually goes no further than what rules not to break, how far is too far, and what to do if you get pregnant – a two-part dumbed-down view of human sexuality. But what can we expect from a society that believes a wedding ceremony is the same thing as a marriage? It’s my belief that sex is a divine mystery, the magnitude of which we will not completely comprehend until we get to heaven. For me, over the years, virginity has become less and less about the physical – and more and more about the spiritual. That’s one of the reasons why it’s part of God’s plan for marriage. Virginity is the great equalizer that ensures two people take off on the same level and that leads to the greatest chance of a successful marriage. It neutralizes any male or female stereotypes and allows two people to interact on a spiritual level. It nixes objectification and doesn’t allow any baggage on board. It gives a couple comfort knowing that one doesn’t have any knowledge or experience that the other doesn’t have. It takes age off the table. That’s hard to believe for a world that equates virginity with adolescence. It also allows a level of communication and trust that cannot be reached if one person has already become one with another. In essence, virginity closes out the influences of the world and protects marriage from unseen calamities.

Virginity is also a paradox because inexperience becomes the one thing that results in the greatest chance of a lifetime experience with marriage. It’s also the one thing that orients a person with the celibate gift towards God’s concerns. It’s not a matter of “I think I’ll take a vow of celibacy and try to be about God’s concerns.” Those of us who have accepted it are about those concerns. It’s who we are. Just like a married person is naturally concerned about their spouse. We are naturally concerned about our spouse. Am I knocking you over the head with that? No. Am I saying celibacy is right for everybody? No. Read the Bible. Get your answers from the Bible, not from public opinion polls.

When looked at in light of God’s word, how can virginity just be about the physical? That’s where many of us have fallen to the world’s straw men. We have to articulate the divine mystery of sex. We have to explain the spiritual nature of sex, because we have separated it from marriage. For me, that involves telling the world that I have said no to sex. It involves telling the world that I believe every word of the Bible is true and that there is a life beyond the temporal pleasure of this world. My renunciation of marriage does not mean that I think marriage is a bad thing. It doesn’t mean that I’m any better than anybody else. It means that I have faith that there is something better beyond what this world has to offer. Since I do not have the sexual relationship that everybody else takes for granted, it equalizes me to be able to relate to any human condition, no matter what they have or don’t have.

Just Friends?

alone_in_the_crowd_by_matchack-d3iscqe

When I made the choice to remain as I am, one of the things that comforted me was the thought that I could claim all girls as my girlfriends. Then I could spend all the time I wanted with any of them and wouldn’t have to worry about neglecting a wife or children. For that matter, I could call up anybody anytime, man or woman, if I wanted to talk. The only problem is that men and women can’t be friends anymore. The fastest way I know of to ensure that a single woman will not speak to me again is to ask her to be my friend. Even faster, tell her that I don’t plan on getting married and that I plan on staying single. The simple reason is because we live in a world that worships marriage and family. Sex has become the be-all and end-all of human existence. With their fertile years slipping by, many women blame men, the world, and God himself. The only men they are willing to be friends with are potential suitors. Everybody else is a waste of time. That may sound like a logical plan of action. But it’s not biblical. All of us are called to love our neighbor as ourselves. We’re also told in the Bible that whatever we do for one of the least of these, we do it to God.

Over the last 30 years, I’ve watched how men and women relate to each other change drastically. It all coincides with the increasing use of the internet and other digital technologies for communication. The “friend” on a Facebook friend list is a far cry from a real friend from the 70s. This was brought home to me recently when I went to my 35-year high school reunion. What a feeling to be in a room with real friends I’ve known for many years, several of them since first grade. Since I never dated in high school, sex was never part of the picture with any of them. But I think I know them better than any other group of people in my life. To know someone today though requires sex, and I think it’s the one thing that makes me feel out of place. Men are expected to either be having sex on a regular basis with a wife or looking for someone to have sex with, preferably with a woman. But I think churches today accept homosexuals more than they do people looking for spouses or those called to celibacy. Friends? That requires too much self control. And most churches will tell you that for men that’s just not possible. They will point you to their pornography addiction groups, unwanted sexual behavior groups, sexual addiction recovery groups, substance abuse groups, same sex attraction groups, accountability support groups, etc. Women might find a body image support group. But if a single man and woman sit together, they automatically have a romantic interest in each other. The gossip line of the church will have them having sex before lunch is finished.

Taking sex off the table is just not possible for single women either because their biological clocks are running out. They’ve invested in their education, careers, houses, etc. Now they want their baby. And they want it now! If they don’t see an acceptable prenuptial package deal, most won’t even tell a guy hello. Friends just waste time. Does that sound Christian? Not to me. It actually is one more thing that gives the church a black eye. Single men – be careful whom you sit with in church. The grapevine may have you dating her before you get home. Of course, it could be a church where two “sit downs” are required for dating. And daddy could be watching from any pew. When a society reaches the point where they can’t confer adulthood on young adults and the differences between dating and courting become a theological issue, they’ve reached a point of sex worship.

With all the talk of “just friends,” I often think, “what else do I need?” And then I have to remind myself of how the world views my alternative celibate life, whether they know that’s what I’ve chosen or not. First, I have to be careful with the word celibacy because, for many people, it only means one thing – being gay and trying to live without sex. These family-only churches know of no other Christian lifestyle but family. The only way their preachers and leaders can relate to the word “single” is from a youth perspective. They’re experts on youth. They represent potential tithes for the church. They know how to do is prepare them for marriage and tell them to wait; because if they get married, they can give more money to the church. “Get close to God and he’ll bring you the right one.” When I feel like nobody in the church knows who I am, I have to remember that they really don’t me because they don’t know what celibacy is, that the days of honest friendships are long gone – and that the church only knows how to date, court, have sex, and kiss babies. There is so much more of me to get to know. My art, photography, short stories, mentoring, etc. It would really be easier for me to make up a story of how my wife died and left me to live as a widower for all these years. Then there would be no questions asked. “So sorry John. Let us know if there’s anything we can do.” They might bring me a donut.  Let us remind ourselves that there is nothing eternal about marriage, family, sex, and children. For me, that means the lifestyle of celibacy I have chosen on earth is the same one I will spend eternity with.

What Happens During A Wedding Ceremony That Makes Sex Okay?

07-29-14Wedding

The Wedding Ceremony of Andrea Kastner and Thomas Morton by Thomas Thorspecken

The good old American wedding. It’s as comfortable as applie pie. So steeped in tradition we accept it as God’s word. Wedding dates, wedding planners, wedding rehearsals, rehearsal dinners, invitations, announcements, wedding ceremonies, wedding vows, engagement rings, wedding rings, legal witnesses, marriage licenses, preachers, money for the preachers, wedding cakes, bridesmaids’ luncheons, buttercream icing, buffets, entrances, preludes, interludes, processionals, recessionals, receptions, wedding dresses, tuxedos, ball gowns, veils, headpieces, open stocks, bridal registries, place settings, bridal showers, what to toss, flowers, garter belts, trains, corsages, boutonnieres, cascades, fillers, freeze-dried petals, pomanders, English garden arrangements, Tuscan arrangements, beveled edges, deckled edges, embossed, engraved, suits, proofs, sets, albums, escorts, place cards, overlays, pickups, sweetheart tables, first dances, honeymoons, best men, bridesmaids’ dresses, maids of honor, grooms, grooms’ mothers, ushers, wedding songs, ring-bearers, flower girls, father’s left arm, wedding parties, formal photographs, guest books, rose ceremonies, thresholds, frogs, spiders, black cats, rice tosses, stag parties, toasts, tin cans, five sugar-coated almonds, candlesticks, thirteen coins.

The problem is, none of it is in the Bible.  There is absolutely no description of a wedding ceremony in scripture. And there is nothing about weddings that make them innately biblical. No vows. No marriage licenses. No punch. Did you just did dizzy? If weddings are considered spiritual events on the same order with births and deaths, at what point during the wedding does God say, “Okay, you can have sex and become one flesh now”? Does a preacher become a stand-in for God when he asks, “do you take this woman/man to be your wife/husband?” Protestant churches would have you believe that.  So if marriages don’t start with wedding ceremonies, when do they start? Maybe we should consult the Bible. Take a look at Ephesians 5:30-32:

“For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.

For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.

This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.”

I cannot think of a more dignified and accurate metaphor for the sexual union than a man and woman becoming “one flesh.” Leave it to the genius of Apostle Paul and his way with words. Am I saying we’ve had it wrong all these years? Yes I am. The church slipped off the tracks when marriages became separated from sex with pomp and circumstance and assumed it could take on the role of God and unite two people forever.  Of course, all of this was done to allow and legalize divorce.  The church can’t do that. A preacher can’t do that. A thousand bowls of coconut-pineapple punch can’t do that. Even more sobering is the fact that man’s vocabulary can’t superimpose itself on top of God’s vocabulary. A classic example is “premarital sex.” If all sex before marriage is premarital, what do you call sex after marriage? Postmarital? Does all that bad sex before marriage suddenly become good when a preacher says, “You may now kiss the bride” in front of two witnesses and a gaggle of onlookers? Most churches will tell you it does because they routinely marry “cohabitating partners.”  I just don’t think so. Does that mean there are millions of people walking around today who are married through fornication and don’t know it? I’m afraid so. God’s word and commandments are so far removed from today’s reality that they’ve become unrecognizable. The church didn’t defend them and the congregants tossed them out the window in favor of comfort and pleasure. Instead of conforming our lives to God’s word, we have conformed God’s word to fit our lives.

Notice what Paul says in verse 32. I think it’s one of the most overlooked passages in the Bible. In very plain language, he is telling us that marriage is a mystery we will not understand on this earth. Could it be that sex actually bonds a man and woman beyond our comprehension so that they are more “one flesh?” than we even realize? Could sex chemically change our bodies permanently so that a man does become one with a prostitute when he has sex with her? Those are uncomfortable questions. And the world today doesn’t want the discomfort of a mystery. Every answer is in the palm of our hands. Just Google it. Is there anything science cannot explain? It tries. But, “The foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength (1 Corinthians 1:25).”

Marriage And Celibacy – A House Divided?

a5695afbce3744e34e6337ca98c3ec54

Here in Alabama, the one thing that is worshipped almost as much as sex is football. Actually, most guys make it a weekend package deal with beer and sex thrown in on the sidelines. And the Alabama and Auburn game is one of the biggest rivalries in college football. People like to talk about their “divided houses,” where one spouse is an Alabama fan and the other spouse an Auburn fan. They let the world know about it by painting half of something of insignificance red and white and the other half orange and blue. Or they have both teams’ colors represented equally in some way. For instance, some “divided” automobiles have an Alabama flag hanging out one window and an Auburn flag hanging out the other window. Who would have thought football would be hit with such political correctness? If you asked them though, most fans would tell you that they root for both teams up until the Iron Bowl when Alabama takes on Auburn each year.

Isn’t it a shame that the same can’t be said about Christian lifestyles? Just like the world, churches today have bowed down to the god of sexual desires or, as they call it, God-honoring marriages. They flaunt their families with more gusto than any football fan could imagine. What’s really remarkable about this is, unlike football where there are many teams to choose from, the Christian lifestyle only has two choices – marriage and celibacy. If you ask a preacher about singleness, he’ll probably say something like “that’s okay too.” The only problem is that actions speak louder than words. Is his church flying both the flags of marriage and celibacy while cruising down the lanes of Sunday morning worship? I’m afraid not. Chances are his church has a marquee out front that reads “nursery provided.” The affirmation of singleness is only as good as the time and energy a church puts into it. That means it not only has to be talked about, it has to be demonstrated. In other words, how does the three words “that’s okay too” balance out with the thousands of hours of marriage and family seminars, premarital counseling sessions, baby dedications, weddings, marriage sermons, one flesh sermons, be fruitful and multiply sermons, youth retreats, family worship centers, missionary children, etc?  It doesn’t balance.  The truth of the matter is that the emphasis churches place on family values is in direct opposition to the emphasis the Bible places on it. Instead of the church hanging two flags out their car windows, they have one great big sign that reads “Family Comes First!” Since the same sex marriage controversy, family wagons have circled tighter around churches and the family banner has been hoisted higher and higher. Churches may be willing to occasionally talk about singles faithfully waiting on their spouses, but you won’t hear anything about a committment to celibacy that is on par with marriage. You might be saying, “but just because a church doesn’t talk about celibacy doesn’t mean they disregard its importance.” Yes it does.  If you’re talking about a football team, that may be true. But this is a matter of Christian lifestyles where silence can sometimes speak louder than words. Where silence breeds assumptions. This is even more true today because sex has socially been separated from marriage and making babies. What so many churches don’t realize though is that every time they talk about family they are talking about sex. Every time a preacher talks about children, he is talking about sex. Every time the women’s gossip line talks about weddings, they are talking about sex. As hard as he may try, man cannot undo human nature. That is difficult to grasp in an era where children have become a choice and life itself hinges on how convenient babies are. Every time children, husbands, and wives are discussed, a choice has been made, whether they acknowledge it or not. They have chosen to raise another flag in salute of marriage and hide the dignity of celibacy under another joke about gay marriage.

Respecting celibacy requires church leaders to take a look at a picture that’s bigger than the love between husband and wife and mother and child. It requires them to take a closer look at their relationship with Christ, which can be very uncomfortable. They can easily say, “but, there’s no one in our church called to singleness.” The question of course is how do they know that? Have you ever been in a church service that called for a show of celibate hands? Think of all the younger singles who passed through their doors and did not feel called to marriage, but never saw any support for celibacy. Instead, they heard about the Song of Solomon one Sunday and Daniel in the lion’s den the next. Since celibacy was never discussed, they assumed marriage to be the norm. Why shouldn’t they? Human nature will always choose support over neglect if no viable option is apparent. Many young people today are trying to discern marriage and celibacy.  They hear nothing in the sermons, read nothing in the literature, and they don’t know where to look in the Bible. They see no exit sign on the freeway of life.  If your neighbor had his radio up loud while you were doing yard work and you kept hearing “roll tide roll!” – you would probably assume he was an Alabama football fan. It’s even worse in churches, which have become more or less social support groups. What is preached and discussed is what is affirmed. What is not discussed is what is wrong. If the church operated under the same rules as the business world, preachers would have been found guilty of malpractice years ago, not to mention sex discrimination. They would be gripping their families tightly through the cold steel bars of a prison cell. The Bible actually has very little to say about families beyond husbands loving their wives, wives submitting to husbands, and children obeying their parents. Just a very few verses. That ought to tell us just how unimportant family is in the long run. It has nothing to do with eternity. On the other hand, the Bible does have much to say about virginity and how those called to celibate life are concerned with the Lord’s affairs. It also has much to say about our spiritual family and being fishers of men. It has nothing to say about a nuclear family.

It’s my opinion that the number one reason biblical marriage has failed and same sex marriage has been accepted is because the church reinforced the world view that marriage is needed to be a responsible adult, that sexual desire cannot be controlled, that marriage is nothing more than legalized sex, and celibacy nothing more than lack of sex. Instead of a one flesh union between husband and wife, marriage became a trip to the courthouse to pick up a marriage license. Celibates? “Well, those are the poor miserable people who haven’t found an outlet for their sexual desire yet.  They’re too greedy, too picky, too hung up on themselves.” “Adolescents who will never grow up.” Sexual ethics have become no more than the identification of the haves and have nots, those who have sanctified their sexual desires from those living in sin, and those who have found their sexual partners from those “condemned to live in loneliness.” That’s what happens when only one lifestyle flag flies from the steeples of churches. It allows one lifestyle to take over the house of God, which ultimately leads to the whole house being destroyed.  You can see and hear it in everything they do. The absence of visible celibates within churches and communities makes one clear statement, that marriage and sexual pleasure are idols of worship and that singles are less than whole people. We cannot recognize the goodness of God’s creation in the Old Testament unless we can recognize the goodness of Christ’s sacrifice in the New Testament and those willing to sacrifice their whole lives for him today. We will not be able to balance both marriage and celibacy if we can’t transform “Be fruitful and multiply babies” in the Old Testament to “Be fruitful and multiply God’s children” in the New Testament. As a matter of fact, only celibate people can truly represent complete love for Christ and total dependence on him. Only their witness can herald an eternity where there will be no marriages and no babies. A church without visible eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven leaves its doors wide open for sexual idolatry and every abdomination known to man. There are many people who think the opposite of a one man/one woman marriage commitment is singles who are waiting on marriage or same sex marriage. That is absolutely false.  The opposite of marriage is a commitment to celibacy.  If you can accept that there is an opposite to marriage and the committment between a husband and wife, then you have to accept that it involves a sacrifice. If a man is not committed to a wife, what is he sacrificing for? It has to be Christ. If it’s Christ, then he’s committed to celibacy. That is logically the only answer and the only answer found in the Bible. What happens to a society that chooses to only fly the flag of family values and neglect Christ? Read the news headlines from the last six months.

Letting Go Of Double Standards In The World Of Chastity

armless planet HR-web

The Planet of Armless Women by Yanidel. Paris, 2011.

I was recently listening to an interview and this question was posed to 29 year old chastity guru Arleen Spenceley:  “Do you desire to only marry a virgin man?”  I was sort of taken aback because I had never heard that question asked or answered before. What an opportunity to give some encouragement to the faithful virtuous guys who have been waiting their whole lives for that one special girl. For young men out there to hear that their virginity is valued and not ridiculed and that their patience and integrity still means something. In an age of cohabitation and sexual perversion, an opportunity for young men to be reminded that there are exceptions. And to make it even more significant, the girl who was about to answer the question was a self-professed virgin, a supporter of all things chastity. I mean, if she didn’t place any value on virgin men, who would? It was a simple yes/no question, do you desire to marry a virgin man or not? Unfortunately, she said no.

“I don’t know yet for sure that I’ll ever get married, as I’m still discerning my vocation. But I do date, and I don’t require the men I date to be virgins just because I am. I’ve dated men who are virgins and I’ve dated men who aren’t. That’s part of the beauty of chastity. A person can start practicing it now, regardless of whether he or she always has.”

Yes, that’s the beauty of feminism.  Nobody has a past.  If a woman wants it, by George she can have it, if it’s ripe for the picking.  If he’s got the money and the right color sports car, why should a pesky little thing like a sexual history get in the way?   By dodging the question, her answer in effect became louder than an actual no. It’s interesting how she turned the word “desire” in the question to “require” in the answer. I guess it would have been too dirty or unseemly for a woman to acknowledge desire of a sexual nature. Women don’t have sexual desire, do they?  It is strongly implied by the answer. And that’s all that counts. By saying it didn’t matter and not letting her yes be yes on a question of this magnitude, she denigrated all men who are waiting on marriage and put them at the back of the line with all the playboys. The question was not “do you value the lives of single men who have had sex as much as you value the lives of single men who have not had sex.” But that’s how she twisted it to avoid the question. “A person can start living a life of chastity now.” The question was not about chastity, but about virginity. I mean, there was so much dodging in this interview that you would think you were watching dodgeball. I do understand that in the Catholic Church these two words have apparently been blurred enough to mean the same things (to leave the door open for homosexual chastity?) So inclusive and so politically correct. But such a grave mistake. Ladies, if you can’t respect men enough to publically acknowledge their virginity while you place yours high up in your castles of purity and altars of marital idolatry, you can’t expect them to be your knights in shining armor. I would suggest you remain quiet on anything to do with Christian sexual ethics. All you’re doing is reinforcing the age-old stereotype that men can’t control themselves and the double standards that have existed between men and women for millennia. A good answer might have been: Yes, a Christian virgin guy is what I desire. But that’s not what I’m guaranteed.” Take a look at what Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27:

“24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”

What prize are you running for ladies? Are you willing to settle for second best? As long as there are virtuous single men in the world, that’s what you’re doing when you give the playboys a nod and a wink.  That’s what you’re doing when you tow the party line of feminism.  You’re witness then becomes one of compromise and defeat. Apostle Paul didn’t want to do anything sinful with his body because he didn’t want to be seen as a hypocrite. As he said, he didn’t want to be “disqualified for the prize.” Today that would be considered divisive hate speech. A person can’t be disqualified from anything today. Everybody has a right to everything, especially radical feminists.  Should we edit Paul’s disqualified to requalified?  It’s more inclusive, more loving, more forgiving . . . but oh so much more unbiblical. I think we underestimate the impact of everything we say and do on other people. And I think there are two things we’ve lost sight of: 1) Sex is not something dirty. It’s okay to have sexual desire. Got created it within us. I have sexual desire. But I have chosen not to express it and not to marry.  Are there any women left who are willing to say they desire to marry a man with no sexual history? What I find interesting is that women have been complaining for years about being objectified and valued only for their bodies. But when they have the opportunity to express what they want in a man, they become deaf. When given the chance to hold men accountable to the same standards they have been subjected to for years, they go quite. When given a chance to raise the bar of expectations in men, they slink back to the old “boys will be boys” mantra. Are there any women who know what they want and are not running aimlessly? Are there any who can show virtuous men a little respect or even recognize their existence in the world? 2) Living virtuous lives is not going to win us any popularity contests. It will make us enemies. Christianity is both inclusive and exclusive. It’s inclusive in that God gave his only begotten son to the whole world. Everybody has a chance to believe in him and have everlasting life. But for those who have already accepted Christ, our relationship to him is exclusive in that we put no other Gods before us. If you are not an enemy of the world, you are not a friend of Christ. If we are going to bring sexual ethics up to a higher level, we’ve got to leave the double standards behind. Your parents might have handed them down to you. But it’s your responsibility to let them go.

http://btscelebs.com/2014/10/27/interview-author-arleen-spenceley-we-are-created-to-love-part-1/

http://arleenspenceley.com/

What Is A Virtuous Single Man?

knight2

Socrates first posed the question, “What is a virtuous man, and what is a virtuous society?” As a matter of fact, the word virtue comes from the Latin word man. First and foremost, a virtuous single man has to know Christ and has to be striving everyday to be more and more like him. He doesn’t compromise his standards to fit any particular political or corporate agenda. The man who has standards of virtue in private life carries those same standards to every aspect of his life. Hence, I think it’s fair to sair that a man’s work can never be greater than his virtue. He picks up the Bible for his reading pleasure instead of Car and Driver Magazine. He is a man who is conscious of everything he does and is aware of the impact he has on other people. That means he is sensitive to things that a lot of guys are not. He would rather cry than pretend everything is okay. Even though his personal virtue will stand at odds with the surrounding culture, he stands his ground and is willing to be persecuted for his beliefs. He respects God’s creation and is kind to all living things. He protects life. He treats others like he wants to be treated. He’s a good steward of everything in his care and takes what he needs and gives away what he can.

He has compassion for those who are weak and hurting and risks his life to help them. He is humble enough to not see himself as better than anybody else. That means he has compassion for all people who have been treated badly, including women and children who have been abused. He’s familiar with local shelters and safe houses and knows how to go about ensuring someone’s safety. He is generous with his time.

He is a responsible man. He owns up to his mistakes, pays for what he buys, does what he says he will do, and takes care of those who are weaker. He is concerned about the future of young people and tries to be an example for them. He’s not afraid of playing the role of a dad when called to.

He is self-disciplined. He is aware that everything his eyes and ears take in has an impact on him, and he knows about the traps of easy sex, pornography, dishonesty, etc. He is self-controlled. He does not have sex outside marriage. For the single man, that means he saves it for marriage or is an eunuch for the kingdom of heaven. For the married man, that means he is faithful to his wife. Even though the world glorifies anger and short fuses, he is slow to anger and would rather think things over than make a decision he will regret. The virtuous man has standards that are the same whether he’s alone or with a group of people, at home or on a business trip, in a church or in a crowded mall. Consistency is his middle name. He is the same today as he will be tomorrow. He doesn’t flap in the wind. If you want a good gauge of his virtue and integrity, observe what he does with his free time. Does he do anything that he wouldn’t do in public? Is his idea of pleasure all about himself or does he try to bring a smile to everyone he meets?

One thing that separates a virtuous man from others is that he holds the same standards for both men and women. He treats everybody with dignity. His vocabulary is different than the world’s is. He does not objectify women. The virtue of a single man does not depend on whether or not he is pursuing women. The older he gets, the more he is aware that this world is slipping away. He does all he can to rid the world of ageism, sexism, and classism. That is the biggest hindrance to him making friends.

It’s common today to associate the success of a man with his ethical values. The prosperity gospel has reached into every nook and cranny in society. The world looks at a prestigious job, social status, five-column mansion, six-figure salary, golf course membership, and comes to the conclusion, “He must be living right!” The simple life of a virtuous man stands in stark contrast to that. He doesn’t compare himself to anybody else and is content to have Christ. He doesn’t care about instant upgrades.

Of course, the image of a virtuous man depends a lot on how a man is defined. In the world today, a man is defined mostly by his sexual exploits, appearance, job, and money. If he’s not married, he’s expected to be “in pursuit” of women. He’s got to be climbing the corporate ladder. He’s got to have the confidence and enough notches under his belt that he can get any woman he lays eyes on. That’s where the virtuous man who is content to remain celibate falls under the radar because he is trying to cultivate spiritual friendships while the world is trying to cultivate sexual perversion. It’s unfortunate that so many Christian singles bought into Harry’s lie that men and women can’t be friends because the sex part always gets in the way. But that’s been the operating principle of every church-based singles group I’ve ever been a part of. Their idea of “fellowship” is to land their next date. “Just friends? You must be joking.” The world’s idea of a man is but a mere shadow of what a real man is.

Virtuous single men, I encourage you to stay strong. Resist the temptation to blend in with the world. Step out and be different. Hold the word of God out in front of you as your guiding light and understand the importance of self control in everything you do, whether its in your dating relationships or how you handle your money. Every little thing that we do says something about us. And you would be surprised at what people remember. So what is a virtuous single man? He’s out of this world.

A Note For Chastity Writers And Speakers

737d32b7_shutterstock_165623006.xxxlarge_2x-web2

Much is being written about Christian singles and chastity these days. A lot of it is from concerned parents, religious leaders, and singles themselves. The popular chant has become: There are too many single people and the sky is falling. Since I’m a single person who is waiting myself, that’s the standpoint from which I approach the topic, a single guy. But one who has not had sex. I’m sure that narrows down my audience a bit. BTW, my personal boundary has always been anything below the neck is off limits. When I write an article supporting chastity, I try to imagine myself reading it to a crowd of singles who have gathered to hear someone talk about sex. Then I watch their reactions as I read it and answer their questions. In my mind, I’m just trying to determine how my blog post will be received. There is one really big problem that I’ve never found a solution for: How do you talk or write about chastity and encourage those who are waiting on marriage without discouraging those who did not wait or have made mistakes or have even been abused? I have come to the conclusion that it’s very, very difficult, if not impossible. The main problem is that there will always be people who have had sex and some who have not. That’s the way God made us, not with 50 shades of gray. This is probably the biggest dividing line for an audience. It’s like mixing explosive chemicals. Sparks start to fly as soon as the first person yells “Hey! I feel like a dirty piece of chewing gum!” And the heckling escalates. The same thing happens with blogs on the internet. Any intent of supporting those who are waiting deteriorates into a debate about obedience versus grace. Since we virgins are generally more sensitive people, we concede first. And I’m talking about guys and girls. If you want to be politically correct, you then try to make everybody comfortable. “Oh, I’m really not a virgin. I’m just trying to practice chastity and do the right thing sexually. Here, let me get you a chastity button.” Then the whole discussion turns into an apology for chastity or its entire definition gets twisted. This problem is multiplied when T-shirts, book deals, and money get thrown into the mix. Would you like a cup of virginity or a Diet Coke?

Of course, another problem is that there will be Christians and non-Christians in the audience. It’s only natural for a non-believer who did not wait to lash out at those who are waiting. They can’t be expected to have an accurate concept of what virginity is. It’s only natural for them to feel guilt and shame and try to pass that off to everybody else. Another problem is that we can’t know everybody’s backgrounds. That includes their family histories and how or if their parents discussed sexual standards with them when they were younger. Did they ever even have “the talk?” Did they get sent out into the dating world without even knowing what sex is and what their boundaries should be? There is a huge difference in need between the person who needs counseling for rape or past mistakes and someone who needs encouragement to continue to wait. A big, big, difference. Those two support needs cannot be met in the same room and in the same setting.

Since it’s not possible to know all of these things in advance, how does a person maximize the effectiveness of their blog/talk and minimize the chances that it will deteriorate into a shouting match? I suggest making it clear upfront what the topic will be and that it will be approached from a Christian standpoint, regardless of whether the setting is Protestant or Catholic in nature. Make sure SEX is in huge bold letters. Make sure they know it’s going to be about more than relationships. And make sure that the definition of marriage as being between a man and woman is out front. That’s why the title of my blog is “Christian Celibacy in the 21st Century” and my about page describes me as a lifetime celibate (i.e., virgin), with a subtitle of “straight renunciation.” I may be wrong, but I think guys may be more open to talking about celibacy instead of virginity. That’s because virginity, thanks to all the writers and speakers before us, has been tied so closely to the female gender. A classic case is blogger Samantha Pugsley who concluded: “I’m now thoroughly convinced that the entire concept of virginity is used to control female sexuality.” More unfortunate is the fact that so many chastity writers took her seriously and moderated their messages accordingly. Many even have personal stories that start out with being abused by a man. And their writing never rises above the level of man bashing. Most of them are women, after all. Even being as intentional as I try to be, there are still many who look at my life and scoff, “Lifetime celibate, yeah right. It will last until you meet the right woman.” I receive many comments and emails that I do not make public. So even if it causes stones to be tossed initially, I still recommend that you state your intentions up front before any blog or talk dealing with chastity – or any sexual ethics issue for that matter. Whatever we do to make chastity more comfortable and palpable to the masses will put us one step further away from Christ. If you don’t have enemies, I recommend examining your life to see what you’re doing wrong.

Boy Meets Girl

22-Gardner-by-Andrew-web2

When I think of first becoming aware of girls, my mind goes back to about the sixth grade at Chelsea High School. So in this post, I’ll be talking strictly about heterosexual attraction. Her name was Lisa and she sat behind me. I tried to toss little wads of paper down the front of her dress. Yes, it was all innocent fascination. I didn’t even know what sex was at that point. It was 1973 and the topic of sex wasn’t what it is today. Needless to say, I spent most of the class talking to her. As I got older and entered high school, it seemed that every guy was supposed to have a girlfriend. Boys would talk about who they thought the prettiest girls were. Because every boy was supposed to go for a certain “type.” Football players got first bids. Girls talked about who they were “going” with. I never quite figured all of that out. But I did find certain girls more attractive than others and went out of my way to be in their proximity. What really bothered me though was that it seemed the prettiest girls were going with the baddest boys and doing the baddest things. Sometimes I feel I should have spent more time with the girls who didn’t turn my head.

In college, everything that I suspected in high school turned out to be true. Frat hangouts every weekend, beer keg parties in the library, and girls wearing more skin than clothes. So, these are the new rules? Now I’m glad I commuted. I didn’t have time to think about all that extra fun. What I found sort of odd was that some girls who I didn’t find particularly attractive were attracted to me. Because in my mind I thought the only ones who would talk to me were the ones I thought were cute. I just thought girls could read all of that stuff. For instance, there was a girl named Cynthia in my sophomore statistics class. She was very and even sat next to me. But she seemed very plain. No glitz and glamor. I’m not sure if my eyes were conditioned to see beauty in an artificial way or if it was the college atmosphere where girls were expected to sparkle for all the guys. But looking back, many times I think to myself “Duh, John, what were you thinking? That girl was meant for you.”

I don’t know if this is true for all guys, but my perception of beauty changed as I got older. My elementary school fascination turned to sexual desire. But I thought it was just me. So embarrassing. Over the years, my desire turned to longing. And my longing turned to despair. In a way, the coin was flipped. The girls who dressed up to get boys attention and who I thought were attractive in my younger days no longer looked so attractive. They started to look artificial. The more makeup they put on and skin they showed, the more I felt it was all an act. However, the plain Janes looked prettier and prettier. Just a smile and willingness to talk to me became very, very beautiful. “I’ll look at your hair tomorrow. Just talk to me right now.” I grew up in an age without computers or internet. No texting and no googling. If I wanted to talk to a girl, I got her number and called. Ah, the good old days. So simple. That was back when boys and girls actually talked to each other, when you could hear the other person’s voice, when you could see their smile, when you could read body language.

Today I find beauty in all girls of all ages. Yes, I still appreciate physical beauty. But I feel it’s been way overrated. My preference went from petite brunettes to finding every girl attractive. And now that I’m an older guy, that is very . . . awkward. The girls who were old enough to be my mother yesterday are now too young to say hello to, because it might be “inappropriate.” Girls that I find attractive today have mothers I dated in college. There should be a new English word invented to describe that. Yes, I’m content with the celibate lifestyle. But now that I can look back on my life and how God has “changed” my vision, I can say without question that human desire for social interaction for outweighs sexual desire. I know that’s true for me. And from talking to other older singles, I think it’s true for all of us. Think twice before you deny a phone number or turn and walk away from someone. Because, chances are, they will still be around when you get old. They will remember how you reacted to them. How you were not there when they needed a friend. Will you still have dignity? Guys, I know she looks hot right now and you may want a piece of her. But remember that more than likely she will be somebody’s wife one day, and you may not be her husband. Her husband may be your boss. Would you want someone trying to get a piece of your wife today? I think it’s a paradox that our sexual desire seems to be greatest when we’re young, but at the same time our sexuality forces us to think long term.

The bottom line is that everything we do and don’t do is more important than we think. The competition of yesterday and superficial nature of sexual attraction eventually gives way to universal attraction, human kindness, to just a walk in the park. By universal attraction, I mean that if you live long enough and remain chaste, you will be drawn to nearly every member of the opposite sex. But if you remain focused on God, he will help put things in perspective for you and sex will become far less important than you thought it was. Young men, the short skirts of today will eventually become not so attractive and a smile will turn your head a lot faster than a pair of curvy legs. So concentrate more on whom she really is. What are her passions? Do you want to wake up to a pair of legs or someone to help get your kids to school? Young ladies, the chiseled muscles of today will eventually become not so attractive and the guy available to change your tire will turn your head a lot faster than ripped abs. His sports car will look very lame. I’ll throw this in as well: Remember that guys talk and gossip just as much as women. Over the age of 20-30, good guys tend to hang out with other good guys at work and in church. They talk about girls. They talk about the good girls. And they talk about the easy girls. Older guys talk about the younger girls with attitude problems. They talk about parents. You really don’t need to add or take away anything from yourself to get the right guy’s attention. I would even say that the more you change, the more likely it is that you get the attention of the wrong kind of guys. See be yourself. If you think it takes a certain weight and dress size, what does that say about the authenticity of his attraction? Do you think guys should be ranking girls according to their waist and chest size? Do you think girls should be ranking guys according to their muscle mass? Let me give you a hint: What difference will it make when you’re 70 years old and praying that your bones don’t ache so bad that you can’t up the next morning?

So the choice is yours. You can either see your life as one of God’s beautiful creations along with all the natural sexuality he built into you or you can see yourself as a half dressed manikin that has to step on scales first to be weighed and then be decked out in the latest fashion hoopla. I choose to be myself. When a boy meets a girl, it doesn’t have to be complicated.

The young lady in the photo is my mom on her 78th birthday.

Baby’s First Steps

LearnToWalk3

“Gay, celibate and Christian.” If I read it one more time, my nausea will force me to go to the hospital. Talk about an oxymoron. Putting the words gay and celibate in the same sentence only serves to prove how deep into depravity we have stumbled. Could it be another case of Christian people not defending biblical principles? I think so. How has the church defended and affirmed celibacy over the last 500 years? With more family alters? Family life centers? Family church? Do they even know what celibacy is outside the context of homosexuality? Honestly, the church today can’t even relate to a single person, much less a person who has the gift of celibacy. Just take a look at how Supreme Court Justice Kennedy slammed single people in his affirmation of same sex marriage: “Their 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.” What’s interesting here is that he dug himself into a whole by trying to play the “either or” game. Consider the alternatives here: Heterosexual marriage, homosexual marriage, and singleness. Heterosexual marriage was off the table. But the best defense he could make for gay marriage was to present its only Christian alternative, singleness, as a crime punishable by condemnation to loneliness. So for Kennedy, celibate and gay are the ultimate contradiction. Could the mere thought of a heterosexual person living without sex even cross through his brain cells? I doubt it. We would be condemned to live in loneliness. Actually, we could be convicted and sent to prison. It has been done in the history of mankind. Being lonely is just . . . too uncomfortable. It borders on torture. We all have a right to get everything we want and be comfortable, don’t we Justice Kennedy? The reason he looked at celibacy as a state of condemnation is that he never knew what biblical celibacy was. Most churches don’t. Most Americans don’t either.

To show you just how profound an impact our language can have, I have a suggestion. All new mothers and fathers, when your baby takes his first steps, refer to them as “first steps into perversion.” Isn’t that so sweet and innocent? For example, when you call your next-door neighbors with the good news, tell them “he took his first steps into perversion.” If they ask any questions, just tell them that your baby is evil. Every time. Tell them he sleeps in the backyard with the dogs. I highly recommend this for preachers. How did that idea sit with you? Did you ask yourself what’s a baby got to do with perversion? Did you get sick to your stomach? My stomach feels the same way every time you associate my celibate lifestyle with homosexuality. What does being a eunuch for the kingdom of heaven have to do with homosexuality? I feel sick every time you bow down at the altar of family values with no other alternative for non-Christians who may be visiting the church. When you don’t recognize the lifestyle and values of single people, you leave us to be condemned by the sodomized courts in this country.

Faith In Waiting

john-web-fb2

We wait in retail store lines, post office lines, service station lines, doctor’s office lines, theme park lines, and restaurant lines. People actually wait for days waiting to buy concert tickets. The longer they wait, the more publicity for the show. It’s been estimated that Americans spend 37 billion hours waiting in line each year. Most of our waiting time is written off as a waste. So the big question is always the same: Is it worth waiting for? For the mundane activities of everyday life, the answer will often be no. For example, if I asked a single mom who had been standing in a checkout line for an hour, she might say “no, but I had no choice.” But if I asked a Rolling Stones fan if the concert was worth the wait, he might say, “you bet it was!” What’s even more remarkable is that some music fans would rather stand in line and get to know fellow stoners or parrotheads or whatever rather than order tickets on the internet. Waiting becomes part of the concert experience because it is so closely linked to the reward. If I had waited and asked the Walmart mom after she had gotten home and was eating some of those groceries with her family, her answer might have been “yes, it was well worth waiting for.” Then she might have told about how she switched lanes several times to get the shortest line. She might have told how she thought about going across the street to a competitive store, but that they wouldn’t have had all the items on her grocery list. She might have pointed to the smiles on her children’s faces as proof she did the right thing.

Imagine what would happen if waiting became the norm in human sexuality. What if we could break down sexual ethics like we did a mother waiting in line to buy groceries? We can to a certain extent. First, we have to identify the key elements in the process: Who is waiting? How many other people are waiting? What are they waiting for? How is waiting linked to the reward? What are the alternatives to waiting? What are the consequences for a person who doesn’t wait? Who are the witnesses and does their opinion count? Of course, with chastity we are talking about every Christian single and sex. No one is exempt from God’s commandment to save sex for marriage OR for eternity. The problem comes in with linking waiting to the reward. With marriage, what is the reward? It should be sex. Paul tells us that it’s better to get married than to burn with passion. So biblically, marriage is supposed to be a means to an end. It is the means by which a person satisfies their sexual desire. At one time, self- control and patience were marks of chivalry. They were the backbone of courage and perseverance. Now they are considered a weakness because men are expected to be in pursuit of everything they want, from sex to money.

When I was open to marriage, I was willing to wait forever for that one special girl. I dreamed about her. You know, the girl who would follow me into the Brazilian rain forest with a camera in her hand. Even though I met many girls who came close to that dream, I was never willing to compromise myself sexually with anybody until I met her. Even though my waiting did have a religious basis, I knew it was best for me emotionally and intellectually. I didn’t want to live with that guilt and knowing that I gave something of myself to someone who was not my wife. I didn’t want to rationalize such a decision to myself. I knew most other guys did not wait, but that didn’t deter me. I knew she would be worth it. Word got around about what my standards were. And while I was dating, a lot of my friends knew I was waiting. I had faith that God would take care of me whether I married or remained single.

Unfortunately, it is not sex that people are waiting on today. It is a legal document called a marriage license. Why should a guy wait on marriage today when he can have sex tonight with no responsibilities? After all, he doesn’t have to marry her. I think it’s because God’s commandments are no longer followed and faith has been exchanged for convenience. Patience has been tossed in favor of instant gratification. And faith has become something only right wing religious zealots have. The separation of the sacred act of sex from the public act of marriage ensures that sexual immorality will be handed down to future generations. Men and women now hookup one night and go their own way the next morning, pretending their temples never crossed paths. Fornication has become as ubiquitous as a smartphone app. After the couple has sex, the next stage of commitment is typically cohabitation, then maybe a baby, and possibly marriage. A marriage license is just an afterthought to “make things right” and to identify the father legally responsible for the child. Filling in the blanks on a marriage license and printing it out doesn’t take much faith. It just takes hormones, a probate judge, and $43.00 here in Alabama.

Our witnesses while we’re alive and our legacies after we die are the means by which we pass biblical values down to the next generation, whether it’s a $43.00 marriage license or something a little more long term. Whether we like it or not, our sex lives are a part of our witness. As we well know, the world likes to point out discrepancies between the principles that we live by and the principles outlined in the Bible. When we do things out of order, there will always be consequences more serious than if we broke in line while getting groceries. We can look at statistics all day and count the number of people not married and the ages at which they married. But the Christian community would not be complaining about the increasing numbers of singles in their pews and increasing ages at marriage if all of us were waiting on marriage before having sex. Instead, the church would be celebrating. They might be pointing out exemplary examples of faith and self-control. Instead, what do they do? Well, most churches practice visually based ethics. That means their faith goes no further than what their eyes can see. If the church sees only infidelity and divorce in marriage, then that becomes their ethical high bar. If the church sees only cohabitation and fornication in singles waiting on marriage, then that becomes their high bar. I think those of us called to the celibate lifestyle have just as much responsibility to show the world what we sacrifice for our faith. It’s up to us to show the world that sex is not the be all and end all of human existence. We could spend years listening to married couples tell of their sacrifices for each other and their concerns for their children and so forth. Shouldn’t celibate people do the same thing? Don’t we have just as much faith as married people? Don’t we serve the same Christ?

In the realm of sexuality, Christian standards require a level of faith the world does not know. If the church has faith in an eternal marriage with Christ and is awaiting his second coming, we must have faith that our lives will follow his will as well. The church is made up of every single believer. That means that we wait patiently for a spouse if marriage is in our plans or wait patiently for his return if celibacy is in our plans. Keeping his commandments does not require us to choose either one. It requires us to wait faithfully and not yield to the world’s temptations.

But God, I don’t Want To Be Single Forever!

single-forever-web

I’ve been single long enough to see how other people deal with it and to spot common patterns that seem to effect us all. When I see someone about to make a mistake, I want to shout “do you know what you’re doing!” We all handle singleness differently. So in this post, I’m going to give a rough outline of what choosing celibacy was like for me. First, let me reiterate something I think is key to understanding this: The state of being single is not the same as the state of being a consecrated single. Just like a couple out on their first date are not married. These false definitions persist because they originate from churches that practice marriage/family idolatry. For them, no other commitment or sacrifice exists outside of family life. I really believe the church has no business suggesting what the future holds for any believer. It should be up to that person and God. Churches are so marriage/family centric and operate so much under the influence of age stereotypes, how could they possibly be objective and give biblical advice on an issue like this? Idolatrous families look at an older single and say “so when are you getting married” without having a clue what they’re talking about. And I think this is having a devastating effect on the numbers of people who are called by God to the celibate lifestyle. When they don’t see support by their church, they turn to another lifestyle, one that is now sanctioned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

In actuality, accepting a life of celibacy has nothing to with age. Read over Matthew 19 again. Jesus did not insert age limits when talking about eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven. So if you ever feel you are being singled out for any reason in your church, you can rest assured that it’s because they are under the influence of the world, not scripture. When I first felt the tug to celibate life in my late 20s-30s, I continued to date some. My reaction was like “Okay, God, what are you trying to tell me?” I didn’t jump up in my Baptist church one day and shout, “I’m going to be a monk!” I started searching the Bible for all the passages that had to deal with marriage and singleness. I read a lot of books. More importantly, I had the support of my mom and dad and a very special mentor. The thing I had to do was sort out how much of my desire was physical and how much was spiritual. As odd as it may sound, those two things got intertwined in my mind. Yes, I did bring the subject up in some small groups in churches. But they just looked at me like they didn’t have a clue. They had nothing to say. Here’s what I say. Take a deep breath and don’t compare yourself with anybody else. When you first discern God telling you to remain as you are, don’t stand in front of mirrors and question your attractiveness. Get rid of them. Instead, concentrate on the reflection of your love in the eyes of Christ. Then ask yourself: Will my love for a spouse ever be greater than my love for God and those things I feel him calling me to do?

Take a survey of the things you are passionate about. I’m not talking about your favorite food – but things like homelessness, refugees, child prostitution, hunger, natural disasters, etc. All the things that you feel could be lined up under “God’s concerns.” They could be issues that you feel drawn too, but feel they are neglected. They don’t necessarily have to be things you know a lot about right now – because if you commit to the celibate life, God can equip you beyond your imagination. He can provide resources that you don’t have. The number one ingredient that has to be there is passion and willingness to commit your entire life to making a difference in the lives of other people. You have to be able to put yourself on the back burner, to put your priorities behind those of the people who need you. If you had any dreams of recognition or fame, you have to bury those. You have to be content with being anonymous. I had a real problem with attaching my name to this blog.

This may sound like a cliche, but you really must have a servant’s heart. I think this is especially true for ladies. For men, I also recommend thinking in terms of being a guard. Just as the eunuchs of antiquity had the responsibility of guarding the king’s possessions and harems, we have the responsibility of guarding God’s possessions, those things that are so fragile that they would be neglected or broken in a world of only nuclear families. For me, it includes protecting God’s plan of human sexuality, which is being broken by a family worship society.

So you see, committing to the celibate life is just as real as committing to a spouse in marriage. It’s even more. I look at it as getting an early start on the marriage feast in heaven between Christ and the church. In a very real sense, our eternities start here on earth. Of the three types of eunuchs Jesus explained in Matthew 19, I think those for the kingdom of heaven do have a unique calling that is much different than the other two. The main reason is because the entire commitment rests on our shoulders. A genetic or physical abnormality did not make the decision for us. A surgical procedure did not make the decision for us. We make ourselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven’s sake (Matthew 19:12). When we do that, we are going against everything this world understands, much the same as when Christ spoke these words. Just as the disciples stood there with their mouths agasp, we live in a world that is reacting much the same way. “There’s something wrong with her!” “He must be gay!” When the world thinks of celibacy, it thinks of only “no.” No sex. No marriage. No kids. No white picket fence. “Do you mean you refuse to consider this good Christian girl as your wife?” “You mean you’re that selfish?” “You’re willing to be miserable and lonely your whole life?” “Who’s going to take care of you when you get old?” They don’t think of all the things we’ve said yes to, all the needs that are more important than their own spouses. So if you come to a point in the discernment process and say “but God, I don’t want to be single forever,” ask yourself whose voice you are listening to. Are you listening to the world or to your heart? Is it about what you want or what God wants? As Paul tells us many times, there is nothing wrong with either mrriage or celibacy. But if God is knocking on that inner door of your heart, you need to at least listen to his proposal.

The Double Standard Of Chastity

cinderella

Why has chastity gone the way of virginity and became a locker room slur? I’ve discussed one of the reasons many times on my blog. Because biblical terminology has not been defended by the Christian community. Church people adopt secular language faster than Planned Parenthood can sell body parts. What’s remarkable about that is when women choose chastity in today’s vernacular soup they are actually defining its antitheses, slut and whore, because they don’t consider that the same choice is available to men. They don’t TALK or WRITE about it. That’s called a sin of omission. If they did, sexual equality would indeed be a reality. The status of women would be different. Instead, women writers cling to the double standard that says they are to protect their purity, but that men can never control their desires. How do they do that? It’s simple. By doing nothing. They decry being objects of men’s pleasure, but at the same time they embrace the sexual double standard that created it in the first place with their silence. How many times can you shoot yourself in the foot? It’s like the hitchhiker girl who gets picked up, raped, beaten up, thrown in the gutter – and comes around again to the same place the next day. They’ve given in to the idea that chastity comes easier for them than it does men. It seems that the highest standard women expect from men is for them not to be rapist. Imagine that. He can have sex with every prostitute in town as long as he doesn’t rape one. And he’s a saint. What an honor. Edmund Burke once said “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” I would also add “say nothing.” The same is true for single women. While they have tried to make up their minds if a chaste man is more important than his money or job, they have sat idly by as virtuous men gave themselves up to the highest bidder.

From the time they read about Cinderella marrying Prince Charming, women are taught that the fairy godmother’s “be back before midnight rule” applies only to them – not men. If Cinderella “stays the night” the prince will know she’s “common.” If she doesn’t stay the night, he knows she’s royal. The glass slipper may be proof of Cinderella’s chastity. But what proof does Prince Charming have? All we can hope for is that she publically affirms his virtue. How many women do that today? In her book, Virgin: The Untouched History, Hanne Blank made these quite accurate observations:

“Virginity is also female. The male body has never commonly been labeled as being virginal even when it is, but rather as “continent” or “celibate”; even within the Catholic church, male renunciation of sex has been characterized as a matter of continence, not virginity. Additionally, virginity has never mattered in regard to the way men are valued, or whether they were considered fit to marry or, indeed, to be permitted to survive.”

Single ladies, no matter how uncomfortable or embarrassing it may be, I encourage you to make your standards known to the world. Include good men in your stories of purity who are just as chaste as you are.  At least let them know they are valuable enough to survive.  Chastity cannot exist in a vacuum.  Can your expectations be upgraded from “I want a guy whose waiting on me” to “I want a guy whose waiting on marriage”?  One simple change in wording and guys might see more of a reason to wait and your dating pool will double.  Stop hiding behind your “I don’t want to be better than anybody else” mindset and tell the world what you really want.  If people unfriend you and call you names, welcome to the world of living a Christian lifestyle.   If you want to marry a guy who is also waiting on marriage, you will have to change centuries of stereotyping that says a man cannot be a virgin. In fact, you will have to change the definition of virginity in the dictionary. That will be harder than changing the course of a river. It won’t happen overnight. But as long as you continue to pat each other on the backs for being (fill in the blank) year-old virgin princesses and don’t hold the same standards for Prince Charmings and introduce them to the world, you will continue to be slut shamed, virgin shamed, whore shamed, and whatever else kind of shaming you can think of.  Because as long as good men are devalued, you will be devalued.  You will also continue to be raped, objectified, abused, and valued solely based on the status of your female parts. God made you with your reproductive status tied to your biological clocks.  But he did not make your sexuality any more or any less important than men’s.

https://books.google.com/books?id=V6IPvgFKGFUC&pg=PA10&lpg=PA10&dq=%22The++male+body+has+never+commonly+been+labeled+as+being+virginal%22&source=bl&ots=7w9GXy0gDa&sig=ghb3-gx8Aky7a7tkaklJRRoyvSc&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CB8Q6AEwAGoVChMIp7TE-7SYxwIVCHY-Ch0pSgTS#v=onepage&q=%22The%20%20male%20body%20has%20never%20commonly%20been%20labeled%20as%20being%20virginal%22&f=false

http://filmfisher.com/films/cinderella-unenlightened-and-loving-it/

https://kindle.amazon.com/work/virgin-untouched-history-hanne-blank-ebook/B000T2P4I2/B002UM5BUK

http://opensiuc.lib.siu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1067&context=kaleidoscope

http://orthosphere.org/2012/03/21/a-defense-of-the-double-standard/

Loneliness

woman-web

“Field of Dreams” by Steve Henderson.

Since my blog deals with virginal celibacy, there are two groups of people I talk about: Those with the gift of celibacy and those who are waiting on marriage. What’s interesting is that people who are called to the celibate life forever also pass through a time of waiting on marriage. While I do think there is some genetic predisposition to celibate life, I don’t think anybody is born with either lifestyle encoded in their DNA. If they were, the charism of virginity for the sake of the kingdom of heaven would not be possible. A gift requires not only a giver and a receiver, but also a period of time without the gift and a period of time with the gift. However, receiving a spiritual gift is not like receiving a birthday gift. There are no lollipop whistles, no songs, no candles, no hugs from Aunt Mattie Lou. No chocolate covered candy hearts to give away.  It actually can be pretty quiet.

Have you ever been in a crowded place and thought you heard someone call your name? I have. Sometimes there is another person named John close by and then sometimes I don’t know what I heard. But whatever the case, I always stop what I’m doing, get really quite, and listen really hard. I think God sometimes uses loneliness in the same way to get our attention. It’s like a call from the spiritual realm. First, ask yourself if there is anything that is making you feel lonely. For example, do you spend time with friends who have boyfriends and girlfriends? Do you find yourself often in “couples” situations? Do you hang around couples expecting children? Do you attend a lot of weddings? Do you spend a lot of time babysitting? All of these scenarios can create an artificial loneliness that is void of any godly direction. Cares of the world need not become a part of our lives until we are married. Young ladies, you are not required to babysit during your church services. Learn to say no. When we have an active prayer life, I think loneliness can actually be a good thing. It forces us to take a look at ourselves – as God does – without any external trappings of manmade success or pleasures. It forces us to rely on him. It peels away the husk and reveals who we really are.  More importantly for the single person, it allows us to define our loneliness and determine if anything is lacking in our lives. Is it a longing for a husband? Is it a longing to be with other people? Or, is it a longing to be closer to Christ? I think wanting to be closer to Christ can be interpreted as loneliness. And that is a very GOOD thing. Christ spent much time on this earth as a lonely man. Not only that, he was a very poor man. He never owned anything beyond the clothes he wore. He never owned a home, property, mode of transportation, not even a cemetery plot. So much of the world’s idea of happiness today is tied up with what we own. Everybody has to have the biggest, fastest, loudest, brightest of . . . everything. Our very identities are tied up with what we own, especially for men.

But the person who is called to celibacy is able to experience loneliness as a sacred closeness to Christ.   When people think of celibacy today, their minds automatically go to “no sex,” when actually celibacy is more about being completely alone and depending on God for everything.  It’s about sacrificing the pleasures on earth for something better in heaven.  Our pain and loneliness is a constant reminder for everyone that there is nothing in this world that can satisfy us. Not a thousand friends. Not a million dollars. Not even a celebrity model for a husband or wife. That only in heaven with Christ by our sides will we find ultimate love and companionship.  So if you have a crush on someone and they are not reciprocating, your first reaction should not be “I’m not attractive enough to get their attention.” It should be “who do I really love?” Use it as an opportunity to discern if God is calling you to marriage or celibacy. Sometimes God can only speak to us when we are lonely and very quiet. If you find yourself in that spot, ask yourself these two questions: Do you believe God made everything in the universe, including sex? If so, do you believe there is anything else in the world better than sex? Do you have a passion for something that comes close to your sex drive? I’ve always been drawn to people who have special needs including Down’s syndrome, Savant syndrome, autism, mental retardation, and intersexed people. For me, making a connection with one of them is better than any sex I could experience. Do they ever feel lonely?

You bet they feel lonely. This may sound completely backwards, but a person has to be lonely in order to relate to people who are lonely. That includes special needs people and Christ. So if you’re in the process of discerning celibacy, remember that your sex drive can be transformed supernaturally into a passion drive. Don’t look at loneliness as a completely negative part of the human experience. Experience it with Christ and be still and listen to his suggestions. The word of the Lord may not come unto you as it did Jeremiah and say “Thou shalt not take a wife.” But he may come in other ways. Don’t hang a sign on your single life that says “looking for marriage” because it could very well close doors that need to be open. If you look at your life as a jet airliner that has to make a choice between two runways, marriage or celibacy, set a course in that direction, but don’t start a descent for landing until you are sure that’s where God wants you to be.  If you drop your plane down to marriage altitude, it will be much more difficult to bring it up again to the level of celibacy if that’s what God ultimately calls you to do.  We all leave a legacy on this earth, and what runway we land on is woven into it. So savor your time alone on this earth. But don’t accept the world’s defiition of lonely; because if you are walking with Christ, you are never really alone. Keep your destination in mind.

What Is Beauty?

bcbg-mohawk-clutch

I guess they’re what you would call “goth girls” with their black pants and zombie-like faces. One had a skull and crossbones tattoo. Another had a mohawk. I was in Penny’s looking at shoes when they walked up to a very nice looking petite girl with auburn hair, a girl who really didn’t look like she belonged with them. Their blue and purple hair almost made me laugh and their heels made then five inches taller. But I guess she knew them from school. They laughed as they looked at the swimwear on the manikins, what little there was to see. I noticed one of them looked at the purse she had picked out and shook her head. “You must be kidding.” I wanted to yell at her “No! It’s perfect for her!” It was a conservative brown that matched her hair. Of course, the honest truth was she didn’t need anything else to make her beautiful.  She definitely didn’t need makeup. She was an angel. As her girlfriends put that common sense purse back on the rack, I asked myself “Is this what peer pressure looks like today?” What purse would they now pick out for her? I didn’t have to wait long to find out as one of them handed her a black leather-looking purse with spikes sticking out of the sides. “I don’t know,” she said as they put it on her shoulders. She glanced in the mirror and managed a halfway looking smile of approval. They threw it in her buggy and kept on walking around the store. Poor girl. It’s got to cost a fortune.

I looked back down at the men’s shoes and tried to find a pair that were “hip,” but didn’t make me look like a teenager. And then it dawned on me how lucky I was that I was able to pick out my own shoes without anybody else’s opinion. Whatever I chose, it was my style. I was not trying to find the trendy styles for men today. As long as they’re comfortable, functional, affordable, and don’t draw attention to my feet, I’m a happy man. I surely wasn’t trying to look like the guy on the cover of GQ or Muscle and Fitness. Just trying to be John. Plain old John.

But did this poor helpless girl know how beautiful she was without the leather purse and spikes? Did she know she didn’t need to waste her money on that to fit in? And oh my Lord, I hope she was not trying to get the attention of a boy – because it will definitely be the wrong boy. When she looked in her mirror at home, what did she see? Did her father ever tell her she was beautiful?

I found a pair of shoes I could live with and walked over to the shirts. They just don’t make them like they used to. What happened to “Made in the USA?” I spotted the girls again as they walked through cosmetics. “Oh, please Lord. Don’t let them force one of their zombie paints on her.” As it turned out, it was perfume. I can only imagine what it smelled like. Now I thought if she could only break free from them she might make it home looking like a breathing human being. Instead, they walked over to the piercing corner. I winced. “Oh, please Lord, don’t let it be a nose ring.” That was all I could take for one evening of shopping. Dad, if you have a daughter, please tell her she’s beautiful. Because if you don’t, somebody else will.

Ageism’s Hidden Role In A Lost Generation

working-together-1-354x300

When most people think of segregation and discrimination they think of civil rights for minorities and employment rights for women. Those may make the news and catch the public’s attention. But are there other types of discrimination we’re not aware of? First, let’s look at the definitions. According to the Oxford Dictionary, segregation is: “The action or state of setting someone or something apart from other people or things or being set apart.” And discrimination is defined as: “The unjust or prejudicial treatment of different categories of people or things, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex.” Usually the consequences of discrimination are visible before the lawsuits are filed; like not getting hired, not getting promotions, and not getting a pay raise. There has to be evidence. What about consequences that are not so visible? Does all segregation and discrimination have to involve lawyers and money? In my opinion, the most damaging segregation and discrimination occurs in secret with no documentation. A prime example is ageism and its invisible consequences.

Children spend the first 18 years of their life segregated with kids their own age in school. They study with their own age group. They eat in the cafeteria with their own age group. They socialize with their own age group. Many people don’t realize that the K-12 system of American education was patterned after the child labor practices following World War I. Assembly lines became the classrooms. Production units per minute became grades. The system we have today has nothing to do with the best methods of teaching or learning; but everything to do with factories, production, child labor, and quotas. Students are, in essence, still production units today. Parents accepted that system because they abdicated their responsibility as parents to teach their children anything, including moral values. And then enter divorce. Single moms with daughters felt safer because their little Suzy Qs weren’t being influenced by those big, bad, dirty, older boys. As foolish as that kind of thinking was, it was convenient. I still remember the talk in high school about how seniors did everything. Some of the senior boys in my school reached legendary status because of their sexual exploits. The lower grades were even kept from passing by seniors in the hallways. They were just that bad. That was 40 years ago. How are our schools doing today? They’re one colossal failure, not to mention the debacle of common core standards.

Marketers and social scientists now label each generation . . . in hindsight. “Traditionals” were born between 1901-45, Baby Boomers between 1945-1960, Gen-X’ers between 1961-1981, Millennials 1982-2002, and the current “Z” generation 2003 until who knows when. These generations are defined by their shared experiences, feelings, activities, music, and movies. The only reason they’re identified is to help marketers identify sales demographics. Unfortunately, churches adopted the very same failed practices because they too saw themselves as companies with a product to market. When people today ask me what happened to the youth, I tell them “the church.” If you sat down with a calculator and tried to figure the numbers of permutations and combinations for age ranges and groups, you’d be better off looking at your local church of size. You’d probably find them all. Here are some examples:

“Ages 12-18 to do mission work.” http://www.scnow.com/news/education/article_3e358974-dd89-11e4-b802-0710360d5014.html

“Children’s Church for students ages 5-11.” http://tbcgraymont.org/assets/trinity_baptist_church_history.pdf

“Wee Wow is for students ages 2-6 and WOW is for students ages 7-11.” http://www.limestonefwb.org/ministries/children-s-church/

“Glory Girls is for students ages 6 grade through 12 grade. Glory Gals is for all women who are 18 years or older.” http://www.mudcreekchurch.org/

JAM & JAM JR. makes learning about the Bible lots of fun for students ages 3 through 4th grade, with skits, singing, games and stories. Club 56 (Grades 5 & 6), Junior High E.D.G.E. (grade 7 & 8) Senior High Reach (grade 9–12) also start at 6:30 p.m. http://www.chisholmbaptist.org/ministries/family-night/

Enjoyers – 75 yrs and up – Sunday School. http://www.fbcterrell.org/#/adults/sunday-school

College & Career (ages 18-25), Median Adults (ages 40-56), Adult 3 (ages 56-70), Adult 4 (ages 70+). http://sandspringsbc.com/adults/adult-sunday-school-classes

A new class for young singles only (Age: 30-50). http://www.valleybaptist.org/pages/page.asp?page_id=173354

This class is full of singles and couples ranging from ages 25-40. http://alcoafumc.com/sunday-school-classes/

There are literally millions more. Walk in as a first time visitor into any church in this country and you’re going to be asked one thing: “How old are you?” And probably: “Are you married?” Acturally, some “worship centers” look more like bars and night clubs than churches with their ear-splitting sound systems and light shows. I wouldn’t be surprised if somebody walked up to a pulpit one Sunday evening and ordered a double on the rocks. They look and feel like the world. There are even churches like Edmond’s First Baptist in Edmond, OK that are proud of the fact that their age divisions replicate what is found in the world:

“For the purposes of Bible study and discipleship training, we divide into Connection Groups (small groups) according to age and grade. These divisions mirror those that happen naturally in life so that each class is comprised of small groups of peers who are facing similar joys, challenges, and experiences as others in the class.”

So, if anything happens “naturally in life,” well . . . glory hallelujah! It must be good!” I don’t naturally hang out with people my age. And who is my peer group? On the surface, it would seem that these kinds of age divisions in churches would be harmless. Most church members would probably say they just provide a way of dividing everybody up into neat little teachable groups. So innocent, they say. The problem is that the consequences of age discrimination usually don’t show up until years later, like the Millennials have shown up today. Only in the last 50-60 years have age groups become segregated and institutionalized. That may be because our country was not rallying around a common cause, like war.  Millennials, however, are rallying around one thing – sexual freedom and same sex “marriage.”  Why didn’t they get the same sexual ethics instilled in them as did the WWII generation?  It’s because the Millennials’ parents (Gen-Xer’s) and grandparents (Baby Boomers) didn’t have a legacy of sexual integrity to pass to their children.  And age segregation outside the home (i.e., church) prevented the few adults who did have sexual integrity from reaching them.  Their parents were too busy working and getting ahead. Children became unplanned mistakes, moms married their careers, and dads went missing in action. Parents turned over responsibility of discipline and moral guidance to the government and school system. That’s why age stereotyping became the norm. The school system became their parents, nothing more than a glorified child care service. How did the Millennials turn out? Age segregation outside school allowed them to become completely socialized by the surrounding culture instead of by parental discipline.  They learned nothing from previous generations, nothing about biblical principles and sacrifice. It became more about them, their education, and their personal goals.

So instead of generations lasting 50 years, like the greatest generation of WWII, we now have generations lasting about 15 years because values have not been passed from one generation to the next by parents.  And mentoring became a punch line for late night TV jokes, since it died at the hands of age segregation. Instead of a human touch, Millennials have grown up with the touch of a mouse, computer screens, and cell phones. That’s why they have no respect for authority or their elders. They look up answers to their most profound questions about life and the universe on the internet. They basically can’t communicate one on one. And the church has swallowed it all hook, line, and sinker. They typically have typically have youth classes, young adults, college and career, young marrieds, middle adults, senior adults, or some combination of those. It’s so bad now that some churches further segregate based on marital status and gender – “just to keep those old men from thinking bad thoughts.”

The idea of comprehensive age segregated discipleship and youth ministry is foreign to Scripture. It is not commanded by God. It is not identified as a godly pattern. It is not illustrated or legitimized by biblical principles. It is quite the opposite. It contradicts New Testament patterns and everything Jesus taught about the unimportance of age. Age segregation subverts the role of fathers, it turns the hearts of children away from their parents, it places youth in peer environments, it facilitates bullyng, and it leads churches to create offices that are not biblical. Even more tragic, it separates adults from the youth who need their help when parents refuse to be parents. And of course, it prevents mentoring, a biblical concept sanctioned in the Bible.  Consider what Moses told the people of Israel after he received the law. Deuteronomy 31:10-12:

10 And Moses commanded them, saying, At the end of every seven years, in the solemnity of the year of release, in the feast of tabernacles,
11 When all Israel is come to appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose, thou shalt read this law before all Israel in their hearing.
12 Gather the people together, men and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the LORD your God, and observe to do all the words of this law.

Moses wasn’t their father.  But he was a man led by God who knew where he was going. The children learned with the adults, men with women, even strangers with the local people. There was no children’s church. Comfort and entertainment were not high on their list of priorities. I don’t think they had movie nights and beech weekends. They were not segregated in any way. If groups must be formed in churches, there are better ways of going about it, like study topics. It all goes back to the definition of segregation, setting someone apart from other people. With ageism, there are two groups being set apart – the younger and the older. In school, children don’t learn at the same age. So the K-12 system should have been abolished years ago. In churches, you may not even see the different ages together. That makes it even more of a conundrum. And of course intellectual maturity has nothing to do with spiritual maturity. I was recently trying to explain this to an older man in my church. He looked at me rather puzzled and I told him, “In other words, if I have something to say that your grandson needs to hear, he will never hear it because I will never be in his presence. And if he has something to say that I need to hear, I will never hear it.”  When man intervenes in something without biblical guidance, especially something so critical to our survival, he always makes a mess of it.  Like Moses, now we are looking at generations that have been lost for years.

http://www.fbcedmond.org/age-groups

https://ncfic.org/resources/view/the-un-foreseen-consequences-of-age-segregation-of-youth

http://www.truthaccordingtoscripture.com/documents/church-practice/age-segregation.php#.Vbp22EXWSo8

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Kim Peek, The Real Rain Man

I guess you could say I’m old school. While I do think we’ve made a lot of advances with high tech and the internet, I think we’ve also taken several steps backwards. One of the biggest steps we’ve taken backwards is allowing words to become more important than actions. We have, quite literally, allowed words to mean anything we want them too. Like the word chastity I talked about in the last post. There are many people writing about chastity today. They wax eloquently about chastity being both for men and women, for young and old, for those pursuing marriage and those who are not, and about it having a spiritual meaning. But when you look at the actions behind those words, their messages falls apart. Inconsistencies sabotage messages. That is especially true in Christian ethics because the unbelieving public is scrutinizing everything we do. For instance, I could write a book about chastity for men over 50, “Chastity For Gentlemen.” I could build it up on my blog and get the best publisher in the world. But what if I put a picture of a teenage girl on the cover holding a Bible under one arm and her boyfriend under the other? I think whatever message was in the book would be defeated by the cover, don’t you? It’s sort of like a politician you build up in your mind and then find out he had an affair with his secretary and paid her off to keep quite. Whatever image was in your mind is now history.

Consistency is a virtue that is integral to honesty and character. Yes, we grow and change as individuals and we love our freedoms and artistic expressions, as inconsistent as they may be. But the one constant that falls outside the world and must be defended is the Bible. God was the same a million years ago as he is today. He does not change. His word does not change. Not only are the virtues in the Bible consistently the same, we must be consistent in defending them. If you wrote a book on the value of human life, would you put Jeffrey Dahmer on the cover? You may say that the title of a book is still words. Yes, but those words speak louder than the words inside the book. The nonbelieving world is looking for inconsistencies in the Christian message. It’s one of their number one weapons. As a matter of fact, it’s the reason the U.S. Supreme Court just condoned same sex marriage. “Those hypocrites. They don’t have any room to talk. Look at all their divorces. Look at their live-in arrangements.” Church people preaching one thing from the pulpit every Sunday, but living another thing during the rest of the week. That is the fastest track to moral destruction. The same thing applies to barrier-breaking chastity. If we’re going to defend its biblical meaning and take down the divisions of age and gender, we must be consistent. That means it would be wise if we didn’t associate chastity with teenagers, girls, beauty pageant queens, dresses, purity balls, Cinderellas, Boazes, weddings, pink T-shirts, the Catholic church, priests, homosexuality, schools, or even marriage. You may be saying, “But John, chastity is mostly for teenage girls.” That’s the problem. We have GOT to take “most” out of our vocabulary. It is not part of God’s vocabulary. It’s a lame word. All it does is reinforce stereotypes. You may also be saying, “What’s wrong with encouraging girls to live chaste lives?” There’s nothing inherently wrong with it. But the bigger wrong is that, by leaving out guys, you’re not telling the whole story of chastity. Can you find anything in the Bible that narrows down that virtue to one gender? I can’t either. We all know that a partial truth is worse than a one hundred percent lie. That is especially true when it comes to children. You may be one who believes that young minds are not impressionable. I don’t believe that. There are many, many young people today who have no guidance on sexuality at home and turn to their friends and the internet to find out what is right and wrong. Even though it is the fault of their parents, that does not give us the right to turn a blind eye. All of us are having an impact on at least one younger person, whether we know it or not. It could be someone at your job, at church, at school, wherever. They are looking for truth and consistency. Once you do something, you can’t take it back. The same thing is true for stories. Once you put them out there, how do you control who hears them or reads them? You can’t. They become part of our legacies.

Consider other people who do not fit stereotypes, like Kim Peek, the inspiration for the character played by Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man. Even though he is severely disabled, scores well below average on IQ tests, and can’t button his shirts – he has read over 12,000 books and remembers everything about them. He reads two pages at once in about 3 seconds, one with his left eye and one with his right. He can recall facts and trivia in about 15 different subjects, from history to geography. He also remembers every musical piece he’s ever heard and can play them back on the piano. So, what pigeon hole would you put Kim in?  As far as his legacy, do you think his actions speak louder than his words?

Chastity – Is It Worth Defending?

bow lady-web

Chastity speakers, chastity blogs, chastity belts, chastity vows, chastity education, chastity veils, chastity books, chastity jewelry, chastity T-shirts. Come one, come all, get your chastity now. If you didn’t know better, you’d think the world has gone chastity crazy. Has the world really gone crazy over a biblical virtue? What does chastity really mean in the world today? I’ll give you a hint. It’s not all about saving sex for marriage. Actually, it can mean anything you want it to mean. Both the words chaste and chastity come from the Latin adjective “castus,” which means “pure.” The word chaste is found in the KJV Bible three times. According to the 1995 Holman’s Bible Dictionary, chaste means: “Holy purity demanded of God’s people with special reference to the sexual purity of women.” We all know we can never measure up to the level of purity Christ set while he was on earth. But did he give special reference to women? I can’t find that anywhere in the Bible. The 2005 New Westminster Dictionary of Christian Spirituality includes men in the definition: “Chastity has been associated with a state of a celibate lifestyle, typically of lifelong virginity, as in the case of Catholic priests, monks and nuns. Historically and outside of the religious life, concern for the preservation of chastity, understood as virginity, most often arose with regard to unmarried women.” However, the current Oxford Dictionary’s definition of chastity reflects more the sign of our times: “The state or practice of refraining from extramarital, or especially from all, sexual intercourse: vows of chastity.” How can a person be in a state and practicing it at the same time? “I think I’ll practice dying, be right back.” Or “I think I’ll practice virginity. Tell me when I’ve perfected it.”

Somewhere around the 16th century and the reign of the Virgin Queen, Elizabeth I, it seems that virginity fell away from the definition of chastity and the word came to be associated with a vague notion of purity, void of any spiritual dimensions. The Renaissance also ushered in a new awareness of emotions, feminine beauty, and intellectual achievement. During this time also, history came to be associated with the written word, including sexual histories and romantic literature. An interesting and inescapable fact about virginity is that it requires a history. So what does a society do when they want to forget their history? They redefine the language to suit their culture. In Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, for example, female worth is connected with chastity and increased sexual pleasure, but not with anything of a spiritual nature. Indeed, with the advent of the printing press in the 15th century and creative writers like Shakespeare in the 16th century, histories became easier to record and stories became easier to tell. Thus, personal histories associated with chastity became as erasable as one of Shakespeare’s characters. Look at how we’ve devolved today. As Shakespeare said: “All the world’s a stage.” When the words become uncomfortable, change the script. When the world wants to tax you, change your identity.

Since all taxpayers are paying for abortions, contraception, STDs, unwanted children, etc., shouldn’t every one’s sexual history be public knowledge anyway? In Old Testament times, it pretty much was. If a man raped a woman, he was required to marry her. If a new bride was found to not be a virgin, she was stoned to death. Since chastity proved to be too heavy of a cross for pleasure-seeking man to bear, we find ourselves today with a definition of chastity that has been watered down to the point you can’t tell what the original definition was. Like a feature on a car, it has become but a specification on an object of pleasure, a value added bonus. Those who still associate a sacred element with sex (and thus chastity) are at constant odds with those who see sex as a recreational sport. As John Paul II said in 2009:

“A life of chastity, poverty and obedience willingly embraced and faithfully lived confutes the conventional wisdom of the world, because it is a proclamation of the Cross of Christ (cf. 1 Cor 1:20-30).”

It has confuted the world to the point to where those who do respect the human body and sexuality are fighting for every shred of authenticity that is left in the Christian vocabulary. Fighting for chastity to mean something more than “doing the right thing regarding sex.” When the world says the word chastity and means a device, we think of virginity. When the world says rainbow and means gay rights, we think of Noah and the flood. When the world says marriage and means a relationship of convenience between two people for sexual pleasure, we think of a lifetime commitment between a man and a woman. The devaluation of chastity has been on a progressive downhill path. When the dignity of marriage fell a notch, chastity fell a notch. Our sexual motivations went from a means to a higher spiritual end (i.e., propagation of the species) to a means of sexual gratification. And when biblical language was no longer passed to children, chastity became a smug idea that “only religious people understood.” Like a fog lifting off a hot drenched highway, teenagers could only see virginity in their rearview mirrors and exclaim “If only somebody had told me about that.” For those who have chosen chastity and the celibate life, it would be wise to keep Pope Pius XII words in mind: “Virginity is not a Christian virtue unless we embrace it ‘for the kingdom of heaven.'” Likewise, fidelity in marriage is not a virtue unless we embrace the goodness of procreation and raising children in Christian homes.

If we don’t embrace and defend the language of both lifestyles, all biblical vocabulary will become meaningless and Shakespeare’s characters will once again come to life today. From The Merchant of Venice:

“Gratiano speaks an infinite deal of nothing, more than any man in all Venice. His reasons are as two grains of wheat hid in two bushels of chaff: you shall seek all day ere you find them, and when you have them, they are not worth the search.”

http://people.ischool.berkeley.edu/~nunberg/chastity.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chastity http://w2.vatican.va/content/pius-xii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_p-xii_enc_25031954_sacra-virginitas.

html http://en.radiovaticana.va/storico/2009/10/20/address_of_his_holiness_john_paul_ii_to_the_bishops_of_malawi_on_their/en3-327730 https://books.google.com/books?id=bPOft7krR84C&pg=PA189&lpg=PA189&dq=chastity+virginity+dictionary+-.com&source=bl&ots=RgRpC3ygTR&sig=E5fQqdfKP06qEmIfZsFlMbAR7B0&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CDIQ6AEwBmoVChMI0-XX7fzyxgIVTymICh2TyQow#v=onepage&q=chastity%20virginity%20dictionary%20-.com&f=false http://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hbd/view.cgi?n=1225

What’s Better About Celibacy?

Much has been made about Apostle Paul’s statement that those who choose celibacy “doeth better.” 1 Corinthians 7:37-38:

37 Nevertheless he that standeth stedfast in his heart, having no necessity, but hath power over his own will, and hath so decreed in his heart that he will keep his virgin, doeth well.

38 So then he that giveth her in marriage doeth well; but he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better.

These verses have fueled the marriage/celibacy debate for centuries. And then of course Paul also referred to celibacy as a “gift of God (1 Cor 7:7). But why is it better than marriage?  First of all, I don’t think Paul is talking about a father-daughter relationship here.  He is still talking about single men and single women, as he was in the previous verses. He is not talking about fathers giving away their virgin daughters in arranged marriages, which is a common interpretation. He is not talking about father/daughter purity balls. “Power over his own will” can only be referring to single men who are thinking about getting married. Today we call it self-control.  Also, I think these verses apply equally to men and women.  In verse 37, he is saying that if a man makes the choice under their own free will to get married and commit to a life of sexual fidelity to their wives, he does well.

Notice that verse 38 starts with “So then.” These two simple words are a testament to the literary genius of Apostle Paul and the divine inspiration of his writing. He had just described the self-control that a man and woman need to remain chaste until marriage. “So then” transfers all of that standing “stedfast in his heart” and “power over his own will” to the man who chooses celibacy.  “But he that giveth her not in marriage doeth better” adds to it an honor and dignity that is above marriage. In other words, Paul is saying: “It takes steadfastness and willpower to commit yourselves to an honorable marriage and sex with one woman for the rest of your lives. If you think that’s tough, it takes even more to commit to a life of celibacy and no sex.”  Also notice how Paul juxtaposes a man who giveth her in marriage with a man who giveth her not in marriage.  The word “giveth” is a verb.  In order to give something, you have to make a decision.  In other words, he is placing just as much importance on the decision to get married as he is on the decision not to get married.  It is a sacred decision; not an extended period of adolescence and greedy singleness as many preachers would have you to believe.   Another point to remember from earlier verses in chapter 7 is that when a man chooses a life of virginity, he is never again defined by something he will never have.  When he chooses to giveth her not in marriage, he is not required to continually look at women in the future and contemplate the merits of that decision.  Paul hinted to that in these verses.  “His virgin” in verse 37 is carried to verse 38 as “her.”  Unfortunately, we live in a world today where virginity means only thing – waiting until marriage to have sex.  That is directly opposite of what Paul is saying here.  People who choose celibacy are only waiting on one thing – the return of Christ.  We are not waiting on weddings, on finishing college, on finding a better job, on saving enough money, etc.   We are defined by what we are saying yes to, a life of dedicated focus on God’s concerns; and not defined by what we say no to, marriage and concern for a spouse.  1 Corinthians 7:32-33:

32 But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord:

33 But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife.

A lot of people today are asking: “What’s the difference between married men and single men?” This ought to serve as an answer.  Married men have chosen to keep their virgins and care for the things of the world (having babies, education, domestic chores, securing the home, etc).  Single men have chosen to keep Christ and care for the things that belong to him.  How do we know when we do things that please the Lord?  In general, when we do these things, it will make the world very angry.  For example, if we try to defind the very definitions of virginity and chastity in order to provide virtuous role models for children, we may be called judgmental, narrow-minded, unforgiving,, etc.  While waiting on the rain to slack up in front of a Walmart store recently, a young black man, who works as a greeter in the store, walked up to me and said “I have this ex-girlfriend and she’s thinking about leaving town with this other guy.”  I asked him what he thought about the other guy and he said “well, I really don’t know him, but the thing is they are going to live together.”  I asked him what he thought about two people living together who were not married and he said:  Well, I don’t think it’s right.  But she keeps talking about how Russell Wilson and his girlfriend did the same thing.”  I just told him that I didn’t think they provided good examples of Christian behavior.  I said the same thing about Russell Wilson and Ciara on an internet blog and was called a narcissist along with a half dozen other names.  There are a few good celebrity role models out there.  I think Lolo Jones is a good example.  She’s not afraid to tell the world that she’s a virgin and waiting on marriage.  Is Lolo a better person than Ciara?  No.  But she does provide a better role model for young adults, just as the man who giveth her not in marriage doeth better than the man who marries her from an eternal standpoint.  It’s not about being a better person than someone else.  It’s about what we take and don’t take, our actions, our witness to the world, and our availability to help other people.  It’s about humbling ourselves enough to know that our purity doesn’t even begin to compare to the standard of purity that Christ has already established.

Another thing to look at is how Paul is using the word “better.” When our 21st century consumer-driven brains think of better, we think of an object being better than another. We automatically default to objectification. This car is better than that car. This peanut butter is better than that peanut butter. Paul is not using the word in that sense. We must connect the body back to the spirit and consider man as more than a bag of tissue and bones. Paul said that the man who passes on marriage “doeth better.” The word “do” is also a verb. It is not a subject. Since it is not a subject, he cannot be saying that those who choose celibacy are better humans than those who choose marriage. So really, we’re talking about a difference that goes beyond apples and oranges. He is not disparaging marriage whatsoever. I think he’s trying to communicate that celibacy is a more efficient and straighter route to heaven. Without a spouse obstructing our vision, we can see the gaits of heaven directly in front of us. It’s like choosing flying over driving. You wouldn’t explain your choice of air to your friends by telling them that jet planes are better than automobiles. It’s just the shortest and most efficient route to your destination. Likewise, people who choose celibacy and remain virgins for their lifetimes are simply taking the shortest and most efficient route to heaven. In addition, it’s a more accurate representation of what heaven will be like because there will be no marriages or families in heaven. Also, note that virginal chastity is not compared with any other form of chastity, including conjugal chastity.  Yes, it’s difficult. But that does not negate its reality. Christ was also a virgin, which reinforces that truth. And by giving birth to Christ and remaining a virgin, Mary ushered in an era where fruitfulness did not destroy virginity and virginity did not destroy fruitfulness, because the multiplication of children of God became more important than the multiplication of human lives to populate the earth.

Eunuchs – What’s In A Name?

man-walking-through-the-desert

I had some very colorful people in my family growing up. One was my Aunt Sudie. She had a different taste in books, food, furniture, and especially music. I always thought of her as more . . . refined, cultured, even more civilized. When I went to visit her, I could always here the soft background music of Birmingham’s only easy listening radio station, WQEN. Everything was slowed down in her house. Well, everything, but intellect. She was a thinking lady. Every response was measured. And even her clothes always seemed to match. I remember playing dominoes and chess with her on Sunday afternoons. You can guess how that went. My taste in music back in the 1980s leaned toward the Bee Gees, Boston, and Bob Dylan. One afternoon on top 40 WERC, I heard that our easy listening station was switching over to country format. I thought “poor Aunt Sudie.” The next time I saw her, it didn’t take long for her to bring up the subject. “How about that? Now I’ve got to choose between being a rock and roller or a honkytonk red neck.” I sympathized with her . . . a little. While I wasn’t an easy listening fan, I didn’t like the idea of someone being forced to listen to music they didn’t like.

Replaying that scene in my mind lately has given me pause because . . . I felt like I was being forced to choose between two things I don’t want – the virginity of bubble-gum popping teenage girls or the celibacy of black-robed Gregorian-chanting bread-making Benedictine monks. I wrestled a bit with that over the years. Who did I identify with? I knew no one who had chosen this life. In the Protestant world, there’s not much to identify with if you’ve chosen a life of celibacy, other than a cold pew in the back of a church. I know what their congregations think of single men. I won’t go there. Actually I identify with refugees, hostages, people with no identity, and others displaced from war-torn areas of the world. I relate to the people of Israel. But I know my real identity is in Christ alone. As Galatians 2:20 tells me:

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.”

It’s interesting that the word “crucified” in this verse is in the perfect tense. The crucifixion was in fact a past action that has present results. Like Paul, I have died to all the expectations and assumptions surrounding a single man in the 21st century. Or I should say, it’s an ongoing process. All Christians are called to do this. But I think people who have chosen celibate life more fully embody that reality. We are more dependent on Christ every day of our lives. So even though a social identity may be a natural part of the human equation, it’s something we have to die to, much more so that any other segment of the population. When you get down to it, we don’t live natural lives. Those of us called to celibacy live supernatural lives. I’m sure Paul went through an identity crisis. Living a life as Saul, he had the responsibility of living in obedience to Mosaic Law. But instead of trying to find acceptance with God through following a set of rules, the person of Paul was now living by a new set of principles based on the Holy Spirit living inside of him. Just as it was the rules Paul had to cast aside, we oftentimes have to cast aside our very own language, our very own social identities. Because in a very real sense we are living outside our time zone. The world sees clocks on a wall and the oscillations of a cesium beam in the form of an atomic clock. We see an ocean of infinity that doesn’t need time. The world sees children holding hands with mom and dad. We see spiritual children in the future that can’t even be counted. We have even chosen to cast aside family and children. But remember that the Bible tells us we will not be forgotten. Isaiah 56:4-5:

4 For thus saith the LORD unto the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant;

5 Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off.

When I have an identity crisis, these are my go to verses. So I don’t like the sound of virgin? It doesn’t matter. I don’t like the sound of celibate? It doesn’t matter. I don’t want to be a monk? It doesn’t matter. One day I will have an “everlasting name.” I understand that to mean only eunuchs will have an everlasting name. Not moms. Not dads. Not preachers. Not teachers. Only eunuchs. I have no idea what that everlasting name may be. When I’m watching all the other parents pamper their children in church and I’m feeling rather childless, I remind myself that I will have an everlasting name. When the church throws a Christmas party and invites all the families but does not invite me, I remind myself that I will have an everlasting name. When I’m trying to think of people to include in my will, I remind myself I will have an everlasting name – and that my children in the future will get more than that. I don’t look at it as a consolation prize. It’s a biblical promise. All I can do now is savor the mystery.

The Elephant Man and Sexual Ethics

elephant man

There was a mystery writers’ conference in town recently. It was scheduled to last all day. A well-known author was scheduled to speak and talk about his books. When he got up to speak, he announced a “spoiler alert” because he was going to talk about his most recent book and how it ended. Those in attendance who had not read the book got up and walked to the back of the auditorium, where they found a separate room off to the side. Meanwhile, those who had read the book stayed in their seats. When he finished talking about his new book, he called them back in and asked them to sit on the side of the auditorium where a “newbie” sign had been placed and those who had read it to sit on the side where an “oldies” sign had been placed. He continued to talk about how to develop characters for a couple of more hours.

When lunch came around, can you guess who sat with whom? Yep, those who did know how the book ended sat together and those who did not know how the book ended sat together. They even had the diplomacy to sit on opposite sides of the cafeteria, so they couldn’t overhear each other’s conversation. People who had read it talked about the plot, the time frame, the characters, the places, everything about it. They laughed amongst themselves, with knowing laughter, while they discussed the story line and how it compared with other books. One girl actually stood up and, in a hushed whisper, told everybody that two of the characters in the book were actually brother and sister, a detail not too many people knew about. The people who had not read it were not in on what the laughter was all about. But they thought a little time of not knowing was worth it to preserve the mystery. They talked about why they liked mysteries, who their favorite authors were, sequels they would like to see, and how they could incorporate a trip to mars into a story. They also talked about which books they were currently reading and when they would get their copies of the book being discussed at the conference. A few of them said they’d changed their minds and had decided not to order it because they had learned of another one that was even better. This is a classic example of natural social division. It had nothing to do with shaming, evilness, condemnation, judging, and so on. It did not run along the lines of gender, age, race, class, or marital status.

It’s the same way with the mystery of sex. Is there a mystery more profound than sex and the creation of new life? I can’t think of one. It is infinitely more mysterious than a mystery novel. Given this, wouldn’t you think there were be a natural social division between those who have had sex and those who have not? God seemed to think there would be. That’s why he called one group virgins and one group marrieds.

The Elephant Man (1980) is one of my favorite movies. It’s about a man who was ostracized from society because of a disfiguring medical condition called neurofibromatosis. His face was enough to cause children to shriek. It was based on a true story. I was 19 years old at the time and I related to the story of Joseph Merrick. Here was a man who had been socially outcast and relegated to circus sideshows, not because of his character, but because of his appearance. I sometimes felt like a freak in a sideshow when I was 19. I heard a lot of “knowing laughter.” Shawna Sparrow described this very well in her book, Tough Crowd: My Adventures as a Chastity Educator:

“The word virgin has become code for ‘loser,” and it usually conjures images of being unattractive and undesirable. In our popular culture, someone who is a virgin is usually portrayed as an overweight geek living in his parents’ basement. So as a companion to the message, ‘Sex is cool,’ the media also gives us the message, ‘Virginity is lame.'”

As I got older, I realized that I was not the only one my age who had never had sex. And that had a TREMENDOUS effect on my commitment to wait. The value of relatability cannot be underestimated, especially when it comes to passing sexual ethics to the next generation. “If that person can do it, I can do it too.” There is NOTHING more powerful in a young person’s life than finding a person to relate to. And in the case of chastity, that is not going to be his/her parents. If the Elephant Man was your son, who would you rather him meet – the latest male model on the cover of GQ Magazine or another person suffering from neurofibromatosis and their family? What are you willing to do to preserve a sacred mystery?

https://books.google.com/books?id=ScfvwN-7MrwC&pg=PA16&lpg=PA16&dq=%22the+word+virgin+has+become+code%22&source=bl&ots=_RZyvHvEjQ&sig=SRdtkgkjiaXAf7JOtzVUT1h7DX8&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CB8Q6AEwAGoVChMInoq4ob3exgIVA-KACh2z1gC_#v=onepage&q=%22the%20word%20virgin%20has%20become%20code%22&f=false

John Morgan – The Not So Comfortable Life Of Celibacy

john handrailDSC_0241_1781-web2

I write a lot on my blog about the Bible and what it says about the gift of celibacy and living a life with no sex. But I still see a lot of misinformation about this lifestyle. So this is to clear things up a bit. First, Paul’s definition of “gift,” as he used in 1 Corinthians 7 does not mean that this life is one of euphoric bliss. It’s a life of mistaken identity and one loaded with more responsibility than being a husband. Think about it this way. The Bible uses the word “know” as a synonym for sex, like in Genesis when Adam knew Eve, and it’s used much the same way today. A man is known today for what he knows and who he knows, not who he is. Nobody has ever “known” me. Married couples who have been together for any length of time will tell you that there are some difficult challenges to overcome. The same thing is true with celibate life. I have periods of loneliness. There are times when I feel misunderstood. There are times when I feel unloved, unneeded, unworthy, and totally incapable. I usually don’t have it together. I’m unorganized. My house looks like a disaster zone. I do try to be ready to go anywhere on a moment’s notice with my shoes at the door. I take more risks than most people. I don’t like mirrors, because I mostly don’t care how I look. I don’t watch TV. I’m not a football fan. I don’t hunt or fish. I know a lot of people, but few people I would call close friends. In the last few years, I’ve been more careful in selecting friends I think I can help. All single girls are my girlfriends. That may sound great. But it can get complicated. “Can we get together and talk sometimes? Now, don’t get the wrong impression because I’m just a monk looking for a social life.” How would that go over for you? Basically it’s just me and my pets. I love photography and go on nature hikes every chance I get. I have never owned a portable device. I don’t do texting. I would much rather talk face to face. Which is why most of my close friends are senior citizens. Young people today can’t seem to talk. I know what pain is. I’ve been close to death three times and I’m grateful to be alive. I’ve been disabled for about 12 years. My income is below poverty level. That’s doesn’t worry me. I worry about young people and their disregard of sexual ethics, persecution of Christians, the downhill spiral of our country, people wrongly imprisoned, abuse of the elderly, children without parents, child abuse, young ladies who can’t see their beauty, and a host of other things. I mentor students in high school, and am a father figure to some. My extended family is big. My choice of celibacy will end my Morgan line, which can be traced back to Glamorganshire, Wales. My maternal grandfather had 18 brothers and sisters. I have one sister. She had twins. All of that will come to a halt when I die. I will have no heirs. I’m still thinking about my options in that regard. Of course, I’ll have spiritual children and am looking forward to the time when I won’t have to think about marital status. I drive a car that has almost 250,000 miles, have not bought new clothes since 1984, still have my record player from the 1970s, and live in a house that’s over 100 years old. How’s that for comfort?

Statistics – What Do They Mean To God?

numbers

Nowhere else will you find more statistics than human sexuality and reproduction. Marriage rate, divorce rates, pregnancy rates, birth rates, infant mortality rates, cohabitation rates, premarital sex rates, fertility rates, etc. If you wake up one morning and ask yourself, “Why am I still waiting on marriage to have sex when I’m XX years-old,” you may find yourself looking at those numbers. “Am I the only virgin left in the world.” I’ve been there and done that. If you’re just trying to find a reason to throw a pity party for yourself, I don’t recommend it. The reason is because, if we’re living in God’s will, numbers are absolutely meaningless. Yes, the ages for marriage may be going up. But I think that has more to do with guys getting marital benefits in relationships without getting married first. As long as girls are willing to have sex outside marriage to keep their boyfriends or for whatever reasons, many guys don’t see a reason to get married. But if you’re still waiting for marriage and you know what you’re standards are, you don’t need to worry about numbers. Do you want to date one of those guys who couldn’t keep his hands to himself or his pants on? God’s power is not limited by how few or how many single men are in your city. He doesn’t consult a statistics table before he allows you to meet somebody. In a lot of ways, I do think we try to put God in a box. When we do that, we only make it harder for our eyes to see miracles.

The story of how my mom and dad met is almost hard to believe. They grew up in the same small rural Alabama town. This was during the early 1950s in an area that was poverty stricken. They attended churches about 5 miles apart. One day my dad’s brother told him about a girl he had met, how pretty she was, and bet him five dollars that he couldn’t get a date with her. Her name was Jean. My dad, being the clever guy he is, found out where she went to church and showed up one Sunday night. He sat behind her and at the “right moment” asked her to come to his church. She accepted. The only problem was . . . it was not the right Jean. Unbeknownst to both of them, there were two Jeans in the neighborhood. They apparently hit it off very well. They’ve been married 57 years. This was in the days before computers and email. Neither family had a phone.

So let other people worry about statistics. If they mean anything to you, let them remind you how right you are and how far off course the world has become. If you put all your faith in God, they can also remind you of how big your miracle will be. That doesn’t mean that you should sit where you are maintain the status quo. For example, if your best friend asked you to come visit at her church – but you don’t like crowds – think twice before you say no. I have learned just how God works through other people in my life. Sometimes I’m not even aware of how much until years later when I’m trying to put together the pieces of my life. It could be that God wants you to remain unmarried, which is just as much a sacred calling as marriage is. You will have a relationship with him that not many people experience. Numbers hold about as much water as a wet feather on a duck’s back.

Chastity And Role Models

Br__Joseph_in_workshop

Brother Joseph Zoetti in his workshop at the Benedictine Monastery in Cullman, Alabama

According to Merriam-Webster, a role model is “a person whose behavior in a particular role is imitated by others.” I would add that a person’s values and standards, whatever they may be, define what those behaviors are and who models them. For example, I wouldn’t choose a terrorist to model the sanctity of life for my son. I wouldn’t choose a politician to model honesty (okay, there may be exceptions). But those are common sense values, or at least they have been. Other values and behaviors to model are not always so clear. Which brings me to chastity. Let me say up front that I’m not a saint, I don’t have all the answers, and this post is not meant to “condemn.” I really don’t think a Christian person can condemn anybody. In this atmosphere of hyper-political correctness, I think one of the biggest problems is that there has not been an ongoing conversation about sexual ethics. Everything to do with sex has been categorized as “dirty.” Then all of that silence seemed to end recently when the Supreme Court deemed same sex marriage was a constitutional right. Now everybody wants to join the conversation. From what I’ve seen, people discussing chastity, especially on the internet, fall into one of three groups: They’re looking for a mate, they’re selling chastity-related merchandise, or they’re trying to pass this virtue to the next generation. I fall in the third group. And that’s where the whole idea of role models comes in.

I think real role models don’t think of themselves as role models and don’t advertise themselves as such. I don’t. I really don’t like the phrase. One thing that makes it more complicated is terminology. We would not be able to describe values that are important to us without consistent terminology. Yes, I have been celibate for 54 years. Yes, I am a virgin. Yes, I have been chaste for 54 years. Yes, I am a eunuch for the kingdom of heaven. I’m sure there are a lot more words that have been applied to me. What it all comes down to is I haven’t had sex. Is that so complicated? Revisionists have tried to dilute these definitions over the years. Some words even have biblically-based meanings, but we are inconsistent in how we use them. For instance, chastity has come to mean just what everybody is doing when they’re not having sex – they’re practicing chastity – or at least some vague sense of its commitment. “Not having sex? You’re chaste!” “Would you like next day delivery with that?” Even the eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven in Matthew 19, which I identify with, are being redefined in some circles as homosexuals. I recently saw a headline that read, “Everybody is a Virgin!” Just think, Madonna is no longer like a virgin. She’s the real deal all over again! You would think virginity is a commodity being sold on the sidewalk along with all the books on the subject, purity programs, and jewelry. But I must say there are some very good books out there on the subject by authors who are conscious of their priorities. And forgiveness, it seems, has become but a delete button for our pasts. No consequnces. Just hit the pound key and continue. The reality is that, like all the other virtues, chastity cannot be modified with technology or dictionaries. Of course anybody can wait again on sex before marriage. That is what Christ calls for. But we have not been given the right to revise biblical language to fit the comfort level of contemporary political correctness. I think it’s one of our biggest mistakes.

The Roman soldiers who crucified Jesus knew the significance of words and symbols when they put a purple robe on him, crowned him with thorns, and put a sign on the cross that read “Jesus, King of the Jews.” But Jesus didn’t ask the soldiers to change the words on the sign. He didn’t try to revise the dictionary. He carried his cross, including those words, even while he was being mocked and degraded. And he told us to do the same in Matthew 16:24: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” Words and their meanings are more significant than we realize, especially when trying to pass values to the next generation. Ephesians 6:17 describes “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” For some people, just the word “virgin” is a sword. It’s like chastity can’t even get off the ground. But it’s a biblical word. There are people today who question Virgin Mary’s virginity. “What makes you so special little miss virgin?” “Found favor with God? Yeah, right.” “You’re no better than anybody else.” “What’s your boyfriend’s name?” Now step into that scene and ask yourself what you would do to defend her. Put yourself in the shoes of virgin martyr St. Maria Goretti’s. How far would you go to protect your honor as a woman of God? Pondering these things has been critical in my wait for the kingdom of God. Remember, God invented virginity. Man didn’t. It was a requirement to be the mother of Christ. It was also designed to be the state before marriage between a man and a woman, and that standard is still in the Ten Commandments. I don’t think it’s our place to second-guess these truths or the reasoning behind them. Our responsibility is to follow them as best as possible. There are a lot of mysteries we will not understand until we get to heaven. Can we move past the “nobody’s perfect” and “that’s so judgmental” rhetoric? Chastity is just one of the many virtues. It is not a mark of sainthood. I’m working on humility. That one is difficult for me, as I have a tendency to see things in black and white and speak too bluntly and too fast.

I also tend to look at many things in life in an analytical way. I am a math and science geek. For instance, if I wanted to learn how to race at NASCAR, I would try to find a professional NASCAR driver who could teach me. I would want somebody that had been racing for years and had won some races to prove it. I would want to see the statistics. And I actually do have a good friend from high school who is a retired NASCAR driver who has won many races. I would choose him over someone who had never been behind the wheel of a stock car or someone who had never placed in the top 10. I would choose him over someone who hit a guardrail on the interstate last year and totaled his car. That does not mean that I hate all the other drivers. Even though the virtue of chastity is not even in the same universe as NASCAR, I do look at human track records or – as the old timers called it – reputations. Or, as the Bible calls it, honor. Everybody has been effected one way or the other by people in their lives. And if you’re an adult, you are affecting other people, even if you don’t know who they are. I think children listen more to our actions than our words. This is especially true when they are looking up to someone as a role model. “Divorce is wrong,” we tell them, but our actions say “as long as it doesn’t interfer with your NFL career.” “Having sex outside marriage is wrong” we tell them, but our actions say “as long as having a baby doesn’t interfer with your singing career.” Everybody makes fruit of some kind. You can’t hide it from children. This is what worked for me growingup. Something else may work for you. The few people I know today (thanks to the internet) who are remotely around my age and still waiting are a godsend to me. I wish I could transport them back in time to when I was a teenager at Chelsea High School. There were a few adults I looked up to as mentors – my dad, an uncle, a very good friend who wrote a book on purity. I personally knew these people. They weren’t just Facebook friends. There were no computers. I looked for more people, but couldn’t find any. The people involved in my life had track records I respected. Maybe it’s just me, but I have to respect somebody before I will emulate them. And I think self-respect plays a big role. As A.C. Green said “You need to have self-respect, values and a little bit of virtue in your life.” I saw him speak in Birmingham back in the 1990s. He remained a virgin until he was 38 and got married in 2002. He’s a man I respect. Of course, my number one role model is Christ, and I think it’s critical that we stay in contact with him everyday. Everybody tells me that nobody my age waits any more. I wouldn’t say nobody, just fewer. But wasn’t one of Christ’s main objectives to bring down ageism and sexism and marital statusism?

What I don’t understand is why sexuality, especially chastity, has become a divisive topic, more divisive than age and gender. We have our instructions in the Bible. They are not easy. For people who feel they are attracted to the same gender, we all have the same standards. Yes, I do have a sex drive, but I have not gotten what I want. That’s why I always feel a bit uncomfortable when I meet a stranger and their eyes go to my ring finger. I say to myself “oh gosh, I’m just another single dude.” As Olympic gold medalist Lolo Jones, who is still waiting at 32, said: “It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. Harder than training for the Olympics.” I can relate to Lolo. She’s one of my heroes. I remember a time when waiting until marriage was something to be proud of. What has become all too common today is this: When a person says anything positive about virginity, they are automatically attacked as judgmental, condemning, better than everybody else, hater, full of pride, perfect, religious fanatic, and on and on. And so many Christian people think it’s their responsibility to make everybody feel comfortable. It is not.

When I was in my 20s and 30s, I wanted to relate to people who understood what I was going through, what it felt like to be a black sheep, what it felt like to be ridiculed because I wouldn’t do what everybody else was doing, what it felt like to be out of touch with society. Those years were excruciatingly painful. Then in my 40s, I wanted to relate to people who understood what it was like to be a “40 year old virgin” and the punch line of movie jokes. Without anybody else to relate to, I turned to other things, like the monastery of St. Bernard Abbey in Cullman, AL, which was about two hours from where I lived. It was the first place where I felt connected, where there were no stereotypes associated with being an older single guy, where I didn’t have to hide my ring finger, where I felt part of something bigger than my little world. I have spent hours in their cemetery, pondering the lives of those monks. I have studied the life of Brother Joseph Zoetti, who built their masterpiece known as “Little Jerusalem.” They were all role models for me. Especially Brother Joseph. One day I hope to meet him. Of course, my number one role model is Christ.

I think young people have the best chance of waiting until marriage with mentors who are still living and walking the same road – or who have walked it at their age and beyond. As harsh as it may sound, sometimes that excludes parents. My special friend and mentor is still very important to me. She probably does not realize how much impact she had on my life. But a lot of Christian youth today have no one. If somebody reads what I’ve written today or years from now after I’m gone, I hope it encourages them in some way. And I hope the stereotypes associated with chastity will disappear – things like it’s only for teenagers, only for girls, only for religious people, only for Catholics, only for people who can’t have fun, only for people with a low sex drive, etc. It would be nice for my legacy to be “age and gender won’t matter in heaven.” It would be nice to be remembered as the person I never found when I was a younger man. That’s all.

Thank you Julia.

http://www.avemariagrotto.com/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/2012-heavy-medal-london/post/hurdler-lolo-jones-virginity-has-been-harder-than-training-for-london-olympics/2012/05/23/gJQAOQo7kU_blog.html

Single And Condemned

jail

Here is the summation of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s ruling which gives same sex couples the fundamental right to marry:

“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their 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.”

“No union is more profound than marriage.” How did the marital union get to be so profound? How did marriage, of any form, become a civil right? There’s only one answer – Marriage had to be exalted and celibacy had to be marginalized. Of course, Protestants have become experts at that. They are still protesting celibacy just as they did over 500 years ago when the Protestant Reformation started. They hate celibacy. There’s no way to get a preacher running any faster than to mention celibacy. They believe self-control is something out of man’s reach and that it’s not part of their new Calvinism. The few churches that do whisper a few sentences about it say that the gift of celibacy Paul was referring to in 1 Corinthians is merely the state you’re in while waiting for marriage and that there can be no commitment to the celibate life. Protestants, by and large, believe if you’re not holding a valid marriage license, you’ve got the gift of celibacy. That’s an upgrade from bar-hopper status. They believe all men are called to marriage. To reinforce this, many Protestant churches sponsor “man up” conferences, “father and daughter balls,” marriage conferences, family nights, etc. Then there are the Catholics and their 24-hour continuous news cycle of priests and sexual abuse. Instead of claiming celibacy as a viable alternative to marriage, it seems they spend a great deal of time defending it; defending something that, to the world, already seems gravely disordered. And that adds to the negative image of celibacy. However, they have always held marriage and celibacy in high esteem and have penned most everything that has ever been written about celibacy and the religious life.

However, our world is obsessed with marriage and family life. It’s obsessed with sex. It’s even reflected in the TV shows we watch: The Bachelor, Couples Therapy, The Virgin Diaries, Dating Naked, A Dating Story, A Wedding Story, A Baby Story, 19 Kids And Counting, My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, etc. They fall right in line with classics like All In The Family, Sanford And Son, The Jeffersons, The Brady Bunch, The Partridge Family, The Waltons, Leave It To Beaver, Father Knows Best, etc. But when you take away the glitz and glamor of marriage and take down the smoke screen of romantic ideals, what’s left of marriage? Not much when you consider the divorce statistics. Contrary to what Mr. Kennedy may believe, marriage is not the most profound union in the universe. And it certainly does not embody the highest ideals of fidelity and devotion. The most profound union in the universe is God’s union with his church. What grape juice has he been drinking?

“Marriage . . . embodies the highest ideals of love.” He probably reached that conclusion because our society doesn’t know any other kind of love but the romantic kind as expressed through sexual intercourse. How does that ideal of love stack up with 1 Cor 7:32-33: “But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord: But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife.” Which is a higher ideal of love? Caring for the things of the Lord or caring for the things of the world? Is it caring for your homosexual lover or caring for your neighbor? According to Kennedy, it’s caring for your homosexual lover. It’s whatever makes the masses feel good, whether it’s sexual perversion today or assault on religious liberties tomorrow. Does he even know what the Bible says about the highest ideal of love? Mark 12:30? “And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.” Kennedy might have watched a bit too much Love Boat growing up.

This is a profound change in American culture. We now have a Supreme Court whose definition of love no longer revolves around God; but around homosexuality, gay pride, civil rights, and self fulfillment. Pope Frances even remarked: “The family is being hit, the family is being struck and the family is being bastardized.” Instead of love being patient as God instructs in 1 Corinthians 13, love is now defiant. Can you see the image of rainbow flags being raised proudly in the air over American Streets? That has happened in every city in this country. Instead of love being kind, love is now belligerent. Can you see the image of preachers being beaten for holding signs at a gay pride parade that read “Repent or Else” and “Jesus Saves From Sin”? That happened in Seattle on June 30th. Instead of love not envying, love is now jealous and spiteful. Isn’t that what the whole same sex marriage argument is all about? Homosexuals envious of the identity and status of marriage? About money and inheritances? That’s what Anthony Kennedy says. But wasn’t the real goal to give validity to the claim that homosexuality is a matter of human genetics and evolution and not of human choice? That’s the bigger picture. More important than the redefinition of marriage is the redefinition of God’s creation to include the abomination of homosexuality and to grant homosexuals the same civil rights protections as ethnic minorities. And if we can add things willy-nilly to God’s creation, where does it stop? Why don’t we throw in pedophilia and polygamy? Kennedy fits in rather well in the land of Sodom, doesn’t he? I know he claims to be Catholic. But if he truly believes what he wrote, can he even claim to be a Christian? I don’t see how.

“In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were.” All Kennedy did was validate what churches have been preaching for at least 50 years – marriage superiority. They have been preaching that married couples are something greater than single people since the Protestant Revolution. Psychology Today had this to say about Kennedy’s statement on marriage:

“What all these people are swooning over is all-out matrimania (the over-the-top hyping of marriage and weddings and coupling). The message is that marriage is magical, transforming unremarkable unmarried people into “something greater.” It is an unapologetic declaration of the superiority of the marital bond over every other bond and every other relationship that humans hold dear. And it is a crass degrading of single people as “condemned to live in loneliness.”

What I feel is sadness in knowing that my life is a few extra light years away from relating to anything in this world. Al Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has been telling his students for years that married men are greater than single men: “Both the logic of Scripture and the centrality of marriage in society justify the strong inclination of congregations to hire a man who is not only married but faithfully married. If they remain single, they need to understand that there’s going to be a significant limitation on their ability to serve as a pastor.” So the Baptists shouldn’t be surprised by Kennedy’s logic. Single men have always been lesser than married men in their eyes. Single men are even banned from preaching the word of God in their churches. And I’m sure they would agree that sodomites represent a higher form of love and sacrifice and have more civil protections than people who are completely devoted to God. Gee. Thanks, church. I don’t know how I will repay you.

It’s been said that for a man to get married, he makes a lot of sacrifices for very little in return. That has a ring of truth because most single adult men have already had sex. So for them, there really is little to gain by a marriage license. They’re not waiting on anything. Their fires have already been quenched. However, for the single men who have not had sex, the chaste men who are biblically single, there is a lot more to gain by getting married than just a marriage license. Their sexual desire is being met. They have proven that they have the self control that is needed to be a real man of God. They set themselves apart by not objectifying women. For them, finding a woman with the same values who is also waiting is like finding a pot of gold. In other words, there’s a big difference between biblically married people and biblically single people. Maybe that’s what Anthony Kennedy and his kind have not been able to see. What’s the difference? Well, I don’t bring up the subject of sexual ethics with every person I meet. I don’t have a V tattooed across my forehead. I don’t have a “virgin diary” to share with the world. All I can do is conduct myself in a way I think is pleasing to God and pray that people see that I have found fulfillment in Christ. So married people, break away from your comfortable cliques and get to know us. Chaste Christian singles: Remain strong and do not let the Supreme Court of this land define who you are. You are invaluable in the eyes of God.

What troubles me the most about the Supreme Court decision is its besmirchment of singles with its assumption that all of us are “condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions,” that we have no dignity, and its underlying assumption that a sexual relationship and marriage are the only way to not live in loneliness. Well, let me tell you Brother Kennedy, if that’s how you define marriage and fulfillment, I am surely condemned, so guilty that a trial is not even necessary. And I’m more than just excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. I have completely said no to the decadent affairs of this world and yes to the affairs of God. That means that our values are on opposite ends of the universe. It also means that my dignity is not based on the world values that you espouse. It’s based on my value in God’s eyes. So let me know when my sentencing date is.

In case you’re still wondering, celibate love needs just as much a dramatic witness as married love in the wake of the Supreme Court’s recent decision. I would even say a more dramatic witness. I urge you to make your presence known and free yourself from the misguided stereotypes of the Supreme Court.

http://www.singleness.org/pr_celibate.shtml

http://1548.sites.ecatholic.com/supreme-court-decision-on-marriage

http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/what-is-being-proposed-is-not-marriage-pope-calls-for-defense-of-family-12766/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/living-single/201506/gay-marriage-ruling-is-matrimaniacal-shames-single-people

http://www.albertmohler.com/2011/03/25/must-a-pastor-be-married-the-new-york-times-asks-the-question/

http://arleenspenceley.com/the-questions/

Would Martin Luther Be Celebrating Marriage Today?

ssm posters

In light of the Supreme Court’s recent decision on same sex marriage, I’ve asked myself a lot of questions. Like how did we get here? I don’t think we arrived in the land of Sodom overnight. Our country has been sliding down the path of moral decay for several years. What was Martin Luther’s role in all of this, the leader of the Protesant Reformation? Since I’ve been in Protestant churches all my life, I can only speak from that standpoint. I think our problems do indeed go all the way back to the Protestant Reformation 500 years ago and their rejection of celibacy. Just think, one little misguided man – Martin Luther, who thought he had the gift of celibacy, is responsible for the misplaced theology of over 150,000,000 Protestants in the United States today. Was celibacy abused in the Catholic Church in 16th century Europe? No doubt it was. But that was no reason to completely abandon a biblical principle. I’m sure there were a lot of priests – and married people – who had inappropriate sexual relationships. Imagine if Apostle Paul’s followers came to him one day and said: “Hey, I thought you should know that some of the men in Corinth claiming to be eunuchs for the kingdom of God have been caught having sex with children.” Would Paul reply with something like: “Oh no. I guess the Big Man really got it wrong on this one. Tell you what, just go back and tell everybody that celibacy is really not possible. We’re all bent toward sexual sin. It was just a little miscommunication.” The reality is that not all Catholic priests have the gift of celibacy and not all people who have the gift of celibacy are Catholic priests.

I’ve always thought the world had two realities – man’s reality dictated by tradition, legalism, ceremonies, pride, greed, majority rule, comfort, and pleasure – and God’s reality dictated by the Ten Commandments, The Holy Bible, chastity, sacrifice, commitment, patience, and denial of self. The biggest thing that separates these two realities is language. Take the word marriage for example. Do you think it means the same thing today as it did when Jesus attended the marriage at Cana and turned the water into wine? I don’t think so. When Jesus returns as the ultimate judge of this world, do you think he’s going to stop by all the courthouses first to check the marriage records? I don’t think so. Do you think he will tell eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven, “Sorry, but I can’t find where you ever signed up for the priesthood. Are you sure you got a package that was marked celibate gift?” Or would you expect him to say: “Geez, a 40 year old virgin? You mean you didn’t find the one I had picked out for you?” See what a fantasy world we live in? Even worse is the fantasyland churches live in. They don’t even talk about sex. It’s just too dirty. The only sexuality they know is “premarital sex,” “same sex,” and “can’t deny your husband sex.” It’s always something negative. Churches can readily identify for the world what they consider sexual sin, but they can never seem to identify their own sins. Worse yet, they can’t even model Christian lives of sexual integrity. They continue to assume that all single people are “fornicators who haven’t made things right yet.” As a matter of fact, that’s the only definition they know. If you die before you get married, well . . . you might have had the gift of celibacy. They can’t fathom celibacy as a positive response to God and a commitment equal to that of marriage. If anything, celibacy today is seen as disordered and sinful. If I find a Baptist guest envelop in the back of a pew with “eunuch” listed as a choice under marital status, I’ll let you know. In an article titled “Dismantling The Cross” in First Things, Patricia Snow recently made the following comments while reflecting on the life of St Francis:

“But once the struggle was over, and the miracles and answered prayers began to appear, the celibate in former times was reclaimed by the human family, because he had proven himself fertile after all. Resistance gave way to acceptance, and acceptance to passionate acclaim. Then everyone wanted a piece of the saint; everyone wanted access to his body and his prayers. Then the one once coldly spurned for choosing heavenly over earthly goods was joyfully embraced for bringing heavenly goods to earth.”

I’m certainly no saint. But I think the same kind of prejudice happens to celibates today. Isn’t it unfortunate they have to die first in order to be accepted? That’s one of the big reasons biblical marriage has dissolved into a quagmire of same sex marriage and decadence beyond comprehension. A society cannot have a healthy view of marriage without a healthy view of celibacy. If Christian sexual ethics are taken off the table for either one, both will fail. This is especially true in a society that has no distinction between married life and celibate life, other than clerical clothing. As John Chrysostom said, quoting CCC 1620: “Whoever denigrates marriage also diminishes the glory of virginity. Whoever praises it makes virginity more admirable and resplendent. What appears good only in comparison with evil would not be truly good. The most excellent good is something even better than what is admitted to be good.” In other words, if we consider the only good in marriage is to keep us from lust and fornication and other evils, then we appreciate only half of God’s intention in human sexuality. The good of marriage can never outweigh the bad of those evils. Only when we acknowledge that there is something better than sex waiting in eternity will we understand the true meaning of both marriage and celibacy. The only way to do that is by placing proper value on celibacy today, not in a cemetery tomorrow.

There’s a quaint little slogan going around that many churches have adopted: “Celibacy in singleness, fidelity in marriage.” On the surface, that may sound biblical, but it’s not because it’s not half the story. The Bible never defines something called “singleness.” Go to any local bar and you’ll see how the world defines it. Could it be that Paul had the worldview of today in mind when he specifically addressed marrieds, virgins, widows, and divorced? He did not define his gift of celibacy as a default state because he never found someone to marry. Did Paul ever lament not finding “the one” or “manning up” because he wasn’t attractive enough or smart enough? I don’t think so. But that’s how the world would define him today. He defined his unmarried state, or celibacy, as concern for the Lord’s affairs instead of the cares of this world. Before Eve was created, imagine what Adam would have said if you had asked him: “So Adam, how long do you plan on living in that celibate state?” What do you think he would consider the default state to be, celibacy or marriage? How could he even make a “covenant commitment” and marry without first being unmarried? The same thing is true today. How is it possible to have marriage without celibacy? It’s not. How is it possible for a society to put all their focus on the concerns of the world and forget about the concerns of God? It is only possible when man thinks he knows more than God. That’s where we are today. With condoms, contraception, abortion, and fornication, he has tried to completely disconnect sex from marriage and procreation. Can you imagine God saying: “Okay, you practiced safe sex and wore condoms. That’s good enough. Come right on in.” I don’t think so. Neither can I imagine him saying: “So, you had unnatural desires for the same sex? That’s okay. At least you lived in a committed relationship. Oh, wait a second! You lived in the United States after 2015? That means your committed relationship was actually a marriage. Come on in and have a seat. I’ve got a special table for you over in the rainbow room.”

So the Supreme Court’s decision on same sex marriages grieves me just as much as any couple with a biblical marriage. It reinforces the strong belief, both by the world and by the church, that celibacy is not possible, and that marriage is the holy grail of adult life – in whatever arrangement you choose. And I’m sure Martin Luther would be very pleased. After all, he believed that to reject God’s gift of marriage, or to require celibacy for priest and monastics, was to court the sins and crimes of destructive lust. When you consider just how happy he would be, you get an idea of just how wrong Protestants continue to be.

http://www.bpnews.net/39818/the-bible-and-sex-debated-at-seminary

https://books.google.com/books?id=I5pJAwAAQBAJ&pg=PA168&lpg=PA168&dq=%22self+absorption%22+marriage&source=bl&ots=BuN4dc59SX&sig=D3thcl4wHKqu5gBw4l1Y9TxMOeY&hl=en&sa=X&ei=HqWRVfmmA4nj-QHemKOAAw&ved=0CEcQ6AEwBg#v=onepage&q=%22self%20absorption%22%20marriage&f=false

http://arleenspenceley.com/marriage-crisis/

http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1851129

Purity – Whose Responsibility Is It?

hypotized

The more I read what is being written about purity today, the more I think it has been assigned to one gender – Women. Women are supposed to set sexual boundaries, guard their hearts, guard their emotions, say no to the advances of men, dress modestly, passively wait until a man “pursues” her, and define the very meaning of chastity and purity. Who writes over 90% of all purity books and blogs? Women. But what about guys who are waiting until marriage to have sex? Or guys who have decided not to ever have sex? Does their opinion count? I would like for it to count more than it does today. Are the biblical standards for purity different for men and women? I don’t think so. I’m afraid all the emphasis on women’s purity only accomplishes one thing – It devalues pure men. Yes, preachers and religious leaders can say they’re both equally important. But that falls by the wayside when everything that is said and spoken about purity is from the woman’s point of view. Think about the world we would have today if it were as God designed it. All people having sexual relationships would be married and all single people would be virgins. Does it sound like a fantasy? If that’s the way God designed it, why are we content in playing by the rules of a lost world?

It’s my opinion that purity is just as much men’s responsibility as it is women’s and that this imbalance is one of the number one reasons single men have lost respect in this generation. Actually, I think purity is more our responsibility. Godly men do not push women sexually until they say no. Where’s the honor in that? There is none. It’s the most dishonorable thing a man can do. But we’ve got a world today that bestows honor on a man if he “scores” and doesn’t get a woman pregnant, if he pays for the abortion, and if he “does the right thing” and marries her. Godly men do not try to take something that is not theirs. I’ve always found it interesting that God made women’s bodies so that they are marked when then have sex the first time; either through breakage of the hymenal ring (with exceptions) or pregnancy. Men don’t have to worry about such visible consequences. Sometimes I think it would have been nice if God had designed men’s anatomy such that something changed when they had sex for the first time. But he didn’t. So our character defines our purity for the world to see. By that, I mean how you stand with God and everybody that knows you. Self-controlled men are content with what they have. They meet adversity head-on. They don’t take shortcuts. They don’t compromise their purity. They know what the pain of waiting is all about and honor the patience of Godly women who are waiting. Most of all, they understand the sacredness of sex and how it goes way beyond physical pleasure. They understand its permanent bond, the exclusive nature of marriage, and their own vulnerability. Likewise, men who have been called to celibacy understand their responsibility to all women and to those who are most vulnerable. Guys, we have just as much responsibility to keep our temples clean as women do. That means we don’t knock on the doors of other temples. That means we don’t run in and try to sample the cookies first, thinking we will never get caught. What you do in the backseat of a car may not become public knowledge. But that doesn’t mean God will not find out. He will.

Many parents today do not educate their children about human sexuality, especially daughters. They relinquish that responsibility to the streets, to the internet, to their friends, to the schools, and to other classmates. Just because they don’t know how valuable their sexuality is does not mean it’s something we should try to take advantage of. And may I make this strong suggestion: Please do not think of a woman’s body as a baseball field. It’s not something to play with. It’s not a game. Be thankful that she’s in your presence and talking to YOU. She could be with another man. How would you like her to hit your balls out of the park? Think about it. In the Old Testament, men were required to marry a virgin if they had sex with her. That should give you an idea of the importance God places on purity. So guys, it’s up to you. If you’re still waiting, I encourage you to strengthen that commitment. Do you want to see the images of past girlfriends every time you have sex with your wife in the future? Or do you want the only image to be that of your wife? Do you want your future wife to be content knowing she is your only one? Or do you want her to worry about you comparing her to women in your past? Are you going to impress your friends and have sex with the first girl that gives in? Would you rather be a street stud or a man of conviction and courage? Do you want to blend in with the crowd or do you want to stand out from the crowd? I encourage you to take back the responsibility for sexual purity that should have been ours in the first place. Whether you’re looking for a wife or content remaining unmarried, let’s show the world that real men are self-controlled and have just as much responsibility for sexual purity as women; that ladies in waiting are just half the story and that they should settle for nothing less than gentlemen in waiting.

Celibacy – The Commitment You Never See

bird in hat

Once in a while after reading something I will say to myself “you mean people really believe that?” I found myself saying that after reading “Five Questions With Author Andy Crouch” on Boundless. You can read it here: http://www.boundless.org/blog/five-questions-with-bestselling-author-andy-crouch/. Thanks goes to Julia Duin for forwarding it to me. After giving a rather vague answer to the question of gay marriage, he was asked question #2. This is the one I want to focus on:

2. “Unwanted singleness among Christian women is becoming more and more normal in the church. Based on your journalistic work in the church, you have a 10,000-foot view that most of us don’t enjoy. Do you see any way for us to turn this ship around and rescue a generation of families that we are losing as young men wait indefinitely to get married?”

Unwanted singleness? When did a spouse become a religious right? God never promised marriage to anybody. Note the other assumptions built into the question; that all singleness must be unwanted, that singleness is not normal, that to remain single is to head in the wrong direction, that propagating more families is more important than propagating children of God, that waiting indefinitely to get married is to lose out. And to top it all off, the person who asked the question believes that someone with a history of “journalistic work” is the most qualified to talk about marriage and celibacy. Brilliant.

Oh, and I should probably mention that Andy Crouch is a 47 year old married man who had his ship rescued by marriage years ago. So that makes him uniquely qualified to answer questions about celibacy, doesn’t it? After I read the question posed to him, I started searching my Bible for the chapter and verses that dealt with “unwanted singleness among single women.” Well, after some searching, I found it in the book of Bathsheba, chapter 13, verses 27-29:

“Now, all those women suffering with unwanted singleness, they have a right to claim a man for themselves. The nuclear family must be exalted above everything else. They cannot be allowed to suffer the pain of watching other married women parade around with children in tow. They cannot let their fertile years slip them by. If lazy men don’t want to marry, they must be forced to pay extra taxes and shunned from society – because these are beautiful irresistible women. I, Bathsheba, veto everything Apostle Paul says about singleness in his letter to the Corinthians.”

This is what happens when God’s commandments are tossed out the door and replaced with our wants and perversions. A woman wants a husband? We can’t let her wait. Get her a husband now! Diagnosis: Unwanted singleness. How excruciating. Is it any more painful than what Christ did on the cross? It’s less than a mosquito bite on the back of an elephant. We cannot take the broad stroke of cultural norms and demographic data and try to overlay that on top of God’s word. Marriage is not the answer to fornication. Self control is. Even more predictable was his advice for women dealing with “unwanted singleness.” First, he said single men are lost and need “evangelism and discipleship.” This fits in with current Protestant theology that says the only way to salvation is through marriage. It’s actually in the SBC’s Faith and Message Statement. Then he offered this scathing condemnation of single men:

“The key to changing the current patterns is to unapologetically call men to greater risk and sacrifice, including what is in many ways the greatest risk and sacrifice a man can make, binding oneself to one woman in marriage.”

Yes, let’s raise that golden sex calf higher on the altar. So he thinks single men are not sacrificing? Well, in his view, as so many other church leaders, the greatest sacrifice a man can make is not to God. It’s to a woman. In this day and time, God takes second place to self-pleasure. That’s because Crouch doesn’t include celibacy with his definition of a single man. His definition of singleness depends on one thing – the absence of a marriage license. A single man to him is just a guy who is jumping from bed to bed every night with different women. He’s the guy who doesn’t have a ring on his finger. He’s the guy who has been lucky so far and not gotten a girl pregnant. He’s the guy who likes to party and waste his time on cheap entertainment. He’s the guy not committed to anything. He’s the guy who is concerned about no one but himself. He’s the guy who has no responsibility. He’s the guy who we can’t let pastor a church. This stereotype of the single man is why I don’t like to use the word “single” to describe myself. Then Crouch does something that is so predictable for these marriage-mandate articles – he offers an exemption clause:

“Frankly, given the disparities of available men and women in the church, I don’t think many men should question whether they have a “calling” to singleness or to marriage — I think that barring clear guidance otherwise from God and your community, you should assume that you are called to marriage and fatherhood and proceed as quickly as possible in that direction. And for God’s sake, stop playing video games. Spend that time getting to know a real woman instead.”

Note that he disparagingly put “calling” in quotes, like it’s something that just can’t be in the Bible. And note how the assumes all single men are dealing with prostitutes, telling them to get to know a “real woman.” Forget Christ’s affirmation of the Eunuchs. Forget about the possibility of following Paul and remaining unmarried. It’s all about my daughter who wants to get married. It’s all about more single women than men. It’s all about having your piece of the pie. It’s all about family pride, family estates, family money, family jewels . . . family inheritances. It’s all about getting what you want. For those irresponsible singles – let’s throw them a bone. Then he chimes in with the “barring clear guidance from God” exception clause. Tossing out one-liners like this doesn’t work for several reasons. First, you would have missed it if you sneezed. Second, the Bible tells us that both marriage and celibacy are equally important and valid. Equal means they each get the same validation and affirmation – 50/50. As with most articles dealing with the subject, this one gives marriage 99% coverage and celibacy about 1% coverage. Like it or not, we live in a world where the value of anything is determined in large part by the amount of time and energy talking about it. This is particularly true in the age of the internet. How much validity does homosexuality have in the Bible? Zero percent. How much validity does it have in the media? One hundred percent. Then turn things around. How much validity do eunuchs have in the Bible? One hundred percent. How much validity do eunuchs have in the media? Zero percent. What was right has become wrong and what was wrong has become right.

If you want to know why, Crouch’s article is an example of why – It’s because the church has become part of the world. They’re indistinguishable. Their talking heads are not qualified to write a second grade essay on turtles. The main reason marriage-mandaters should sit down and be quite is that there are young people listening to and reading such babble who do not know what the Bible says about marriage and celibacy. Such false teaching could lead them down the wrong road. There have been many young men who chose the homosexual lifestyle because they did not fit in with family idolatry society and churches. Discussing marriage in a religious context and not including an equally weighted discussion on celibacy is only telling half the story of Christianity. In my opinion, this goes beyond lying and almost enters the realm of blasphemy. It’s malpractice.

Telling all single men they should marry unless they have a direct message from God or their community is sort of like saying: “Unless you have had a visit from the Angel Gabriel who told you to enter a monastery and you got a followup visit from the pope, you should get married as soon as possible.” I wonder how many guys read this and thought, “Oh gee, I haven’t heard a message from God! I need to get on the stick and start making some phone calls! Got to find that wife!” Not too many. I wonder how many men in churches have had guidance when he comes to discerning the call to celibacy? How many Protestant churches actually have older adults called to celibacy counseling young people in this regard?

Paul’s marriage exception clause has been in the Bible for over 2000 years. In contrast to the marriage-mandaters, he actually said single people would do best if they remained as they are and not look for spouses. More importantly, he spent more time talking about celibacy than he did marriage. All these marriage-mandaters accomplish is alienate younger unmarried men from the church and throw more suspicion on the older unmarried men, especially those who have been called by God to celibacy. And of course they help to bolster women as the moral authorities in the church. I guess they will have to revise their teachings 50 years from now when there are more single men that women.

The protestant churches are set up so that the identities of men and women called to celibacy are not known. It’s part of their ongoing protest against the Catholic Church. Plus, it keeps any questions about their marriages at bay. Paul did not define the celibate gift as waiting indefinitely. He defined it as focused on the kingdom of heaven and God’s concerns and as a positive response to God. So even though you may never know us or know what we do, we are still here. We are just as committed to the affairs of God as married people are to their husbands and wives. And we have direct communication with God every day.

Do Men Exist Who Save Sex For Marriage?

man on road painting

“And what would you say to a single woman who is saving sex but struggles to believe that men exist who want to save sex, too?” That question was posed to Everett Fritz on Arleen Spenceley’s blog today. Everett, now 31, was a virgin until he married at 22, which I find interesting because aren’t all guys virgins before they have sex? I guess it’s odd to me because I consider sex itself marriage and not a church service or legal document. But that’s a whole different story. While I do agree with Everett’s answer, that everyone should read more books and articles written by Arleen, I thought I would offer my answer, in hopes of assuring single women that men do exist who are saving sex until marriage. Yes, I know I’ve made the decision to remain a virgin forever. But there was a time when I was open to marriage. I think guys who are waiting, whether for marriage or forever, have a few things in common. So here’s what I would say to single women, especially to those 25+, who are saving sex for marriage:

1. We adore you and are rooting for you, whether you want to marry us or not. We want the world to see what virtuous ladies are really like, that you stand by your principles, and that you don’t compromise in order to gain popularity or get a job promotion. And even more important – that God made you to be more than the sum of your body parts or objects of desire.

2. We like awkwardness, for lack of a better term. We like to think that we can pick you out of a crowd. And we’re depending on you to pick us out of a crowd. So don’t be afraid of being yourself. Don’t try to look or act like other girls, even your best friend. The NUMBER ONE thing that turns me on to a girl is originality. Is she marching to her own beat or is she trying to keep time with the world? Is her confidence in God or is it in her appearance and her ability to attract men? For a woman who is waiting, she should NOT know what it takes to please a man. If you try to copy the world with the latest fashion and trends, chances are great that a Godly single man will not notice you. It is very unappealing. Don’t be afraid to do things differently. Define your own style. But whatever you do, keep it modest. If you’re trying to attract attention with your skin, you will definitely get the wrong kind of attention. Then that bass player will definitely hit a note you will regret. Dressing modestly also speaks tons about your sensitivity to us. “This girl actually cares that I keep my mind focused on her as a person and not on her as an object of sexual desire.” I’ve always felt that truly beautiful girls, inside and out, do not know they’re beautiful. So don’t be afraid to stumble or appear different. When two awkward people come together, the word awkward ceases to exist and becomes something sacred. That’s the way God intended it. Yes, the world may point fingers and laugh. That’s okay. We’re awkward too. Isn’t there a right time and place for everything? So what does it matter what the world thinks? We live in a world that tells us we have to have sex to be men. Show us that you think differently. The biggest compliment I have ever received is when someone told me me, “John, you would have made a good dad. But I know God led you down a different road.”

3. Ask questions, about anything, no matter how personal. It tells me a lot of things about you – that you’re brave, you’re straightforward, you know what your priorities are, you’re open to being friends, and – most importantly – you’re confident in who you are. It tells me you are more than skin deep. “So where did you grow up” to “where do you go to church?” Ask your friends about us. Investigate us.

4. We don’t know what you’ve been through when it comes to guys. Has someone tried to take advantage of you? Lied to you? Arleen had a bad set with a bass player. We’re sorry. We want you to see that we’re different. While your trust may have been violated, let me say this very tactfully – We’re not responsible for what happened in your past. And you shouldn’t have sole responsibility for laying down rules and “boundaries” in future friendships. That’s not to say that guys can be insensitive to any trauma you have experienced. They can’t. But they don’t want to see you hurt anymore. When I see a girl that I care about hurt, I hurt. That’s called being friends, not emotionally dependent lovers. It may be hard to imagine in this day and time, especially since most of the chastity blogs are written by women, but there are indeed guys who know what the rules are – and live by those rules every day of their lives. There are actually guys too who do not date girls who are “willing” to save sex for marriage, or even have them as friends. And brace yourself for this shocking reality: There are actually guys who have said no to sex. Do you respect that? You need to tell us.

5. While you may be awkward, some of us are sensitive. Affirm our sensitivity. If I’m rescuing an animal from the middle of the road and you happen to be following me, turn on your hazard lights. Thanks. Tell us it matters. Defend us when necessary. It works both ways.

6. Let us know that we’re appreciated, even if you know you’re not going to marry us. Not every guy is easily “led on.” Not every guy is a sex animal ready to pounce on whatever warm-bodied female moves in front of him. Spend time with us. Talk to us. Let us know we’re doing something right. By doing so, you’re telling the whole world what kind of man you value. By staying silent, you allow us to wonder who YOU really are.

7. Trust us. I know this is a big one, because many of you have already had that trust violated. But as best you can, please make peace with your past and move on. An attitude of revenge and “prove yourself” will not build up a legacy that you want to leave on earth. Don’t allow yourself to be brought down to the level of the world. Learn to trust again. Pray for the discernment to draw you to Christian men and to avoid non-Christian men. I think virgin guys can pick up distrust a million miles away. Sometimes we are willing to ignore it, like if we think you are recovering from abuse, etc. But most of the time we interpret it as your attempt to be part of the feminist “man-bashing” crowd. And in our minds, that gives us a good reason to avoid you.

8. Treat everybody you meet with respect. If I want to meet you, it will probably be when you least expect it. I can be a clown and have been known to put on quite a show just to watch people’s reactions. “But you’re not going to marry, so what does it matter?” Yes, but I’m still a human being who needs social contact. Until you see or hear something that tells you otherwise, treat every guy like he could be the guy you spend the rest of your life with – no matter how old/young, rich/poor, simple/sophisticated, Catholic/Protestant, etc. This is especially true when you first meet a guy. I’m not saying jump in the car of the first man who shows you attention. That wouldn’t be using wise discernment. What I’m saying is be civilized and don’t be partial with your time and attention. Even the person you snub could be the friend of a friend . . . you never meet.

9. Break free from the chains of mom and dad. For some of you still living at home, etc., I know that’s near impossible. But learn to think for yourselves, to trust your own judgment, to discern the good guys from the bad guys. We’re not afraid of your mom, dad, or anybody else in your family. Have us over for lunch. A lot of older single guys probably wouldn’t mind if your family adopted us.

10. Don’t be afraid of letting people know you’re open to marriage, even in your church; because while we may not know each other, we may have friends in common. Usually, girls have more verbal skills than guys. Most guys appreciate that. I know I do. So if a guy is really interested in you, it will not matter to him how he meets you.

11. Put down the texting and social media and talk to us face to face; or if necessary, ear to ear on a telephone. Computer text does not convey 1/10th of what is communicated in a conversation. You can’t hear the other person’s tone of voice or inflections and you can’t see their body language or eye contact. Just place one step in the guy’s direction and say “what’s going on” and let God take care of the rest. Try your best to make eye contact with him. That is so important. But don’t knock him over the head if he glances at your body a few times. God made sexual desire. If he’s like you and has never had sex, then your desires are evenly matched. Introduce him to your brain. Can you solve an unbelievably difficult puzzle? Show off a little bit.

12. Understand what the guy who is saving sex has said “no” to and the self control it took him to be available to you today, whether as a friend or as a potential husband. This is especially true for an older guy. Think about all the times he has been ridiculed and laughed at and still had the will power to say no to even one night of pleasure. Consider his age and think about how many nights that involved. Think about all the friends, or would be friends, he has lost because he would not have sex. Think of the people who have turned their backs on him because he does not “fit in” with the ways of the world or have a wife and family. Think of the embarrassing questions he’s had to endure at work, church, and out in everyday life. “So, how many grandchildren do you have?” Then you should see just how little it takes to give him one ounce of encouragement.

http://arleenspenceley.com/everett-fritz/

The Golden Calf Of Child Worship

colette-golden-calf

The crowd noise died down a bit. The spotlights hit the baby bottles that were meticulously arranged around the stage. Their warm glow lit up the outline of baby blue glass and yellow nipples. You could see stuffed animals and tree houses on stage with palm trees and images of children dancing all around. The speaker took to the microphone and blared: “Lord bless the children! Precious are the children! Oh, praise God for the children!” The people started chanting, “Oh bless the children.” Can I get a burp? This wasn’t during the time of Leviticus and graven images in the Old Testament. This was during a mainstream “First Baptist” church service last Sunday morning. I witness it firsthand. As a boy, I remember reading about graven images in the Bible. But I never thought I’d see them during my lifetime. Unfortunately, golden calves have become the norm in the majority of Protestant churches in the south. They have become centers of child worship. A nice diversion from their lives of perversion. As a matter of fact, many of them are in the childcare business, with “church” on their marquees just as good business strategy. For it is not God they are worshipping. It is children. Most of their budgets are allocated toward nursery and youth programs, with senior citizens sometimes getting a consolation of what’s left over. I refer to them as grandpa/grandson churches.

It’s not what a person says that matters – it’s what he does. And often it’s what people don’t do. Because we all leave a legacy on this earth, no matter if that legacy is good or bad. Churches also leave legacies. If you take away the Sunday morning rhetoric, what do you have left? A pizza party on the way to youth camp? Vacation Bible School? Praise band rehearsals? It all comes down to our priorities. Anything in our lives that takes priority over God is an idol. That includes youth. There are many more needs in our world than changing wet diapers. The Bible even warns about this: “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” Matthew 10:37. What has your church done for people with mental illnesses? For the people who can’t afford their next power bill? If there is a warning in the Bible against something, we should take it for granted that our human minds have the propensity to do it. Otherwise, the edge would be taken off of the sword of the spirit, God’s word, and it wouldn’t be in the Bible. A lot of time is spent in the Bible nullifying age, gender, marital status, children status, class – and pointing to a time when none of this will matter, when family will not matter. For example, when the Bible mentions age, it is only to shatter any stereotypes that we have about it. For example, these mothers in the Bible gave birth in old age: Sarah gave birth to Isaac. Rebekah gave birth to Esau and Jacob. Hannah gave birth to Samuel. The trend continued in the New Testament when Elizabeth gave birth to John the Baptist. Then Jesus shattered any stereotypes about age when he told us: “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3. The key word in this verse is “as.” Jesus is not talking about chronological age. He isn’t hanging a hanging a “3-5 year olds” sign on the nursery door. He isn’t hanging a 19-35 year old sign on the young adult door. Instead, he is telling us that we all should have the faith of children and that our birth certificates will matter very little in the long run. So why should they matter now? They shouldn’t.

But the church today has not heeded these warnings. It has carved golden calves out of youth buses, glitzy youth centers, extravagant youth budgets, and birthday parties. Everything the youth can’t find at home, the church tries to be for them – including family. Most youth in church today don’t even have parents who attend. They’re just dropped off or picked up and taken to church. Then when they graduate from high school, they disappear faster than a bird in a hat because they fall outside the age bracket on the youth door and there’s nothing to graduate to. Their only idea of adulthood is little old men wearing pants up to their chin and little old ladies with powder perfume and purple hair. There’s nothing in it for them anymore. Sadly, churches must face the fact that they’ve caused the problem. Because what do they have to offer them after graduation? Practically nothing, until they’re married. So really, the church’s only role in a young person’s life is to serve as a baby sitter and worshipper. After the youth wears off, the gold becomes tarnished on the golden calf. Then it’s time for more fruitfulness and multiplying. And the cycle continues. As far as learning how to be an adult, married or not, and communicate with adults older then them, that’s fantasyland. They don’t even have parents who are adults. Daycare with a cross on top and a golden calf out front. Life is so comfortable in church today – if you’re under 19 or over 65. Because let’s face it, that’s the only time when most humans think about God — just out of the mother’s womb or with one foot in the grave.

The Danger In Virginity

images

“Christian Celibacy In The 21st Century – Straight Renunciation.” I thought it was a pretty clever title for my blog. But there is probably a bit that needs explaining. First off, my definition of Christian celibacy has nothing to do with homosexuality or same sex marriage. A more accurate title may have been “Christian virginity,” but since the definition of virginity today does not include guys, I went with celibacy. I may change it in the future. Straight renunciation was meant to be a bit of a pun on the word “straight.” If you don’t get it, don’t worry. I have a dry sense of humor.

So what’s the danger in talking about virginity on a blog? First of all, I am one. But I don’t fit the definition you’ll find in the dictionary. I’m a guy and I’m over 21. I’m 54. One of the biggest dangers is people misinterpreting the reason for my blog. I am not advertising myself as a man looking for a wife. That has nothing to do with my blog. I am not giving dating advice. I am not encouraging men to “man up” and get married. I am not telling single women that it’s their fault if they’re not married by a certain age. What I am trying to do is encourage three groups of younger people – those who are waiting until marriage to have sex, those who are discerning a call to the celibate life, and those who have accepted the call to celibacy. This blog is part of my renunciation of marriage as a Matthew 19:12 eunuch. That in itself probably puts it out there in a near earth orbit. It is not meant to demean marriage or to elevate celibacy to a level of celestial supremacy. I am trying, with my limited theological abilities, to balance those two lifestyles. Because, as it is now, marriage has been awarded idolatry status in our churches.

So how would anybody misinterpret my blog? Well, when most people see the word celibacy, they automatically think of homosexuality and the Catholic Church. The two are linked tighter than bark on a tree. And when people see the word virgin, they think of locker room graffiti and young women waiting for their Boazes. As I’ve discussed before, not defending the Christian vocabulary will have consequences that we can’t even imagine today. So with this blog I’m trying to reclaim the language of the Bible, to bring back the dignity of celibacy, and to support all people called to be eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven, whether male or female.

This blog has another connection to danger. I almost died in 2010 and spent about six months in the hospital. When I got out, I starting asking myself some serious questions. Like what are you doing with your life? Why are you wasting time? What are you doing for God? What have you done to help anybody? What do you want to be remembered for? I came to the conclusion that if I continued on my current course, I would be remembered at best as a big question mark in a lot of people’s minds and at worst as a bitter old single man who never found his pot of gold. I didn’t want either one.

Another danger I sensed was opening up about this part of my life. Outside my family, I had only discussed it with one other person – my mentor. It was really embarrassing for me to write about virginity and celibate life and still is. Not because I’m not content with this lifestyle, but worrying about opening myself up to needless attacks from people I don’t even know. And yes I have seen my fair share since starting this blog. On top of that is the fact that I have always interpreted no response as a negative response, whether out in public talking to people or on the internet. Most everything I had read on the subject had been written by young millennial women, the majority Catholic, who didn’t define virginity beyond its value in preparation for marriage. And sadly, that is still the trend. I read about the 20-somethings confessing their virginity to the world, the young ladies who had all but given up on waiting for their Boazes, and the ladies who saw all men as bug-eyed pigs – hunting for their next victim. If they were “coming out” as virgins in their 20s, what was I doing announcing my virginity to the world in my 50s? Confessing to a crime punishable by death? So, my questions were, how will I overcome these stereotypes and will anybody even read my blogs and respond to them? I’m not sure. But I do want people to know that I’m a regular guy. I don’t live in a monastery. I find all girls beautiful and just as mysterious as when I was a little guy. For me, celibate life is the only way I know to respond to God. If the world considers it dangerous to say no to sex, then I will live as a dangerous guy.

Emotional Chastity?

images

Emotional chastity. It’s one of the new buzz phrases of our times. But what does it really mean? That depends on the person you ask and what you read. It seems to be a take off of an idea St. John Paul expressed in Love and Responsibility:

“The [emotional experience for a woman] may be connected with, for instance, an impression of ‘strength’, the [emotional experience for a man] with an impression of ‘charm’, but both are connected with a whole person of the other sex, not only with that person’s ‘body’. This susceptibility (which is different from sensual excitability) to the sexual value residing in ‘a whole person of the other sex’, to ‘femininity’ or ‘masculinity’, should be called sentiment.” (page 110)

The word “susceptibility” is a little confusing here because it generally means influenced or harmed by a particular thing. It’s used in our language as something negative. Susceptible to what? Rape? Is he saying that every male-female encounter is risky business? I don’t think St. John Paul was using susceptibility in a negative sense. “Awareness” might have been a better choice. It might have been clearer if he had said: “This awareness of our femininity or masculinity should be called sentiment.” I would just call it sexual awareness. I think it’s a natural component of wisdom and discernment. If you’re comfortable meeting people and are walking in God’s will for your life, you don’t have to stop and check your emotions every few minutes. You don’t have to whip out a rule book and wonder “did I cross the line here and there?”

It’s interesting that St. John Paul never mentioned “emotional chastity.” But rather defined an emotional experience with the whole person of the opposite sex as a sentiment. But sentimental does not mean the same thing as emotional. Later on in the book he referred to it as an “affection” and wrote that: “Affectionate love is not indeed focused on the body as is sensuality. For that reason it is so frequently identified with spiritual love.” Ah, spiritual love. Isn’t that a Christian virtue? Isn’t that the kind of love all celibate people should strive for? There has been much written over the years on the four areas of compatibility that are needed for marriage – Spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and physical. And of course the lines between these are often blurred. For example, some writers put the role of sex hormones under physical and some put them under emotional. Does it really have to be this complicated? It’s as if we have absolutely no control over our thought processes and we have to turn to sources other than the Bible to lay down the rules for us. Are men and women always “susceptible” to something happening every time they communicate with each other? Or is it just part of the larger ongoing public discussion that means nothing? To me, the mere phrase “emotional chastity” sounds like an oxymoron. It’s like saying “I’ll have a sirloin sunny side up. It makes no sense. Has mankind devolved to the point where we think all of our emotions are of a sexual nature? That all sexual thoughts are evil? The Oxford dictionary’s definition of chastity is: “The state or practice of refraining from extramarital, or especially from all, sexual intercourse: vows of chastity.”

I hope we haven’t devolved that far. It seems to me that “emotional chastity” is just an effort to put a Christian spin on distrust and suspicion. What would be its opposite? Emotional sex? Can a person have sex without emotion? Honestly, I think it’s a phrase used by cold-hearted single women to rationalize their fear of the opposite sex. For example, a gentleman could be talking to a woman in Waffle House over breakfast one morning about global warming. But to reinforce her superiority over him, she could walk out the door at the drop of a hat chanting “emotional chastity.” And he’s like “what?” It’s a phrase that acts as a sword in women’s battle for moral superiority. It’s so vague she can whip it out anytime. It’s so stupid who will even know what it means? Let’s not forget that a man’s capacity for love is just as great as women’s.

“Emotional chastity” also gives single women an excuse to act cold-hearted and to turn their shoulders on all men, including Christian single men. Is that doing unto others what you would have them do unto you? I’m afraid not. It’s the epitome of selfishness and arrogance. My image of femininity is one of acceptance and support. It’s not one of competition and pride. But I don’t know many real women today, especially single women in their 20s and 30s. Even if a woman was sexually abused, raped, assaulted, or whatever, that does not give her a license to treat every man she meets in the future with disrespect. I have seen these attitudes over the years. They reach 35-40 and all of their friends are girlfriends. Then they realize that men have memories too. I’ve seen a few of these attitudes change in older age when they realize God did not guarantee them husbands. Some men are willing to forget. Some are not. Christian guys who respect women don’t need to be taught sensitivity regarding rape. They don’t need sexual sensitivity training. I know I’ve said this before on my blog, but I will say it again – I do not believe a woman can “lose” her virginity through rape. The idea of forcing a woman to do something against her will makes me literally sick. So if there are any women reading this who have been through such trauma, don’t worry about a Christian man’s response to it. If it’s ever discussed, don’t think that he’s going to hold that against you. He won’t. And just think, we haven’t even brought in the question of whether or not a person is open to marriage. That’s the worst thing about this whole conversation. It assumes that all men and women are called to be married. It assumes that all single men are looking for sex. It assumes that all women are looking for sugar daddies. It especially saddens me when I hear “emotional chastity” because it tells me that the person is not capable of being my friend, only a date.

I think this bizarre concept of emotional chastity does explain a lot of the distrust I see today. It explains why the word date now means to have sex. It explains why asking for a phone number now means asking for sex. It explains why a simple “hello” can be construed as sexual harassment. It explains why the coldest single girls are often the ones sitting in church pews, wearing their chastity rings, guarding their precious hearts of every emotion that might come there way. Should they stop and help the dying man on the side of the street? It depends on how chastely they could do it. I mean, if he’s a good-looking dude, we can’t expect them to render any help. They might have an unchaste thought. Where in the world are we going? The differences between men and women are so much greater than anatomical variations. There are so many more things to talk about. Why are we stuck on sex? Why are we using sex to stop the progress of human civilization? So single ladies, remember that if you can’t treat the men in your lives with dignity today, you can’t expect a man with dignity in your future tomorrow. And if you are called to celibacy, you better get used to talking to other ladies.

What about emotional chastity in guys? Did you just ask yourself if there is such a thing? Guys? Chastity? I think that’s an underlying theme of this whole “emotional chastity” discussion, to reinforce the idea that only women are capable of chastity. After all, do an internet search and see how many chastity sites you find that are written by men. It’s less than 1%. See how many chastity books you find written by men. It’s less than 1%. So single ladies, yes I believe you should guard your hearts. But if you lock them up and throw away the keys, I guess you should pray that the Supreme Court rules in favor of same sex marriage. Because you will only have each other to marry.

https://books.google.com/books?id=TNRY9HkssDQC&pg=PA112&lpg=PA112&dq=sentimentality+love+%22love+and+responsibility%22+john&source=bl&ots=szZj_HxUC-&sig=HMMCP6_EewSgb5O5XdAbrcBAG8o&hl=en&sa=X&ei=foFsVYLHJsOyggSLlYHwCA&ved=0CD8Q6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q=sentimentality%20love%20%22love%20and%20responsibility%22%20john&f=false

Virgins – Without A Care In This World

Travelling-Alone1

32 But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord. 33 But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife. 1 Corinthians 7:32-33.

What would your friends think if you told them you didn’t have a care in this world? They’d probably think you were a lazy slacker. But Apostle Paul said just that. How many “likes” do you think that would get him on his Facebook page? He is responding here to a letter he received from the church at Corinth. I think this letter brought up many areas where they were confused. But the main question was: Is it better to marry or remain unmarried and is it even possible to choose celibacy just as one chooses marriage? Isn’t it interesting that we are still debating the same issues today? We’re still debating what marriage even is. With that in mind, look at verse 32. First, notice that Paul recommended the unmarried and celibate life himself. Why? On top of providing more people with undivided devotion to Christ, it may be because he liked the idea of more celibate friends. I can relate to that very, very well. He also lived in a marriage and sex worship society. Few people were choosing to live without marriage. Therefore, few people were concerned about the Lord’s affairs. Few understood that what they did with their sexuality determined what route their hearts would take – permanently. Few understood that celibacy was an honorable option.

We have to remember too Paul’s definition of “cares.” He would rather have his followers in Corinth be “without carefulness” because he understood that choosing sex and marriage linked us to God’s creation (world) and that choosing no sex and celibacy linked us to God’s creation called heaven – because there are no marriages in heaven. Contrary to what theologians believe today, there is nothing innately evil about this world. I’ve always wondered why the idea of celibacy is so divisive. Every time the subject comes up, people think they have to take sides. It’s like we’re still debating Matthew 19 and Jesus’s explanation of eunuchs. I’ve noticed that if I mention the word celibacy, especially around preachers, they automatically assume I’m making disparaging remarks about marriage. They assume that I’m putting myself on some “holier than thou” level of existence. “Wait a second now John. There’s nothing wrong with marriage.” If I had a penny for every time I’ve heard that, I’d be a millionaire. Why is that? I think it’s because many church leaders have reverted back to Mosaic law and believe everything in the world is evil, especially sex. They think every intention in a man’s heart is evil. In 1978, Margaret Clarkson even remarked that: “Singleness is a result of sin in this world – one of a host of evils in which we all share.” Calvinism has taken a strong hold on churches today. On top of that, many Protestants today are still fighting the Protestant Reformation. They still think they are at war against the Catholic Church and celibate priests.

There have been many theologians through the years (including Charles Spurgeon) who have interpreted Paul’s “without carefulness” no further than singles waiting on marriage and the absence of sexual responsibilities to a wife and raising children. That is a grave error. If that were the case, then the gift of celibacy Paul recommends would go no further than what a person did or did not do in a bedroom. Yes, a life without sex is part of celibacy. But there is a whole lot more to “without carefulness” than “Single and Feeling Good.” Just as there is a whole lot more to caring for the things of the world than worrying about the next time you will have sex with your husband or wife. I think this mindset came about because of the popular belief in the separation of the body from the soul. This theology is a hallmark of Calvinism and “reformed” thinkers. Paul is clearly telling us here with the open-ended word “careth” that our bodies and souls are divinely connected. Thomas Merton wrote a book titled “No Man is an Island.” In 1 Cor 7:32, Paul is saying that no sex is an island without consequences. Paul is not describing what a married person should do or what an unmarried person should do. These verses are not instructions. They are reality. He is telling us how the Holy Spirit operates in the world, not what an ideal world should look like. “The word “careth” in verse 32 is a verb, not an adjective or noun. He isn’t saying, “husbands should be concerned about . . . ” or “single people are free to do . . . ” And he certainly isn’t saying that all people with the gift of celibacy are called to serve in some church-sanctioned, publically identified, nonprofit, tax exempt “ministry” or to set up a tent in a third world country. I realize many authors have contributed to this way of thinking, including William Isley who saw celibacy as a “charism appropriate for missionaries.” One of John Piper’s blog followers recently asked him what’s the point was in getting married if that meant she now served the world and not God. He tried to explain what Paul meant by things of the Lord: “He has in mind a focused, more formal, official ministry effort of evangelism and nurture.” I don’t agree with that. I read nothing about a formal suit and tie ministry in the words of Paul. Actually, complete devotion to the Lord requires no specific activity. It sounds as if Piper is trying to overhaul the Protestant’s miserable track record of dishonoring celibates by making them all out to be Billy Grahams. How quaint. He went on to make these disparaging remarks about Apostle Paul and 1 Cor 7:

“Does he really want us to think that the effort to please the Lord is only possible in singleness and that in marriage all the dynamics are different? We don’t please the Lord there, we please each other there. He can’t mean that because he said it is not a sin to marry and it would be a sin to marry if we didn’t try to please the Lord while we were married. That is what sin means is not pleasing the Lord . . . Those are very striking, strange depictions of how to live.”

Yes, that’s exactly what he means. This is another classic example of why married men are not qualified to give advice about celibacy. The reason Paul sounds so striking and strange today is because he defines marriage based on a one-flesh union through sexual intercourse. We define marriage based on courthouses, legal contracts, wedding vows, and a string of cans tied to the bumper of a car. Likewise, Paul’s definition of singleness is based on virginity – not the absence of a marriage license or wedding rings. Given those dynamics, the differences between the married and unmarried are that striking. Very striking indeed. I think Mr. Piper’s thoughts on the subject are fairly typical for a 21st century Calvinist Baptist Preacher. They don’t even know what celibacy is any more. They wouldn’t know Paul if he knocked on their church doors. If we enjoin our bodies back to our spirits, we’ll understand how what we do with our sexuality determines what road our hearts take, the road of human reproduction or the road of spiritual reproduction. The concerns of the world still take a backseat to the concerns of the Lord.

So where does marriage licenses and wedding vows fit in? They really don’t. Man’s world is an ever-changing maze of legalese, formalities, and courthouses. God’s world is made up of natural laws that are as true today as they were 2000 years ago. We can attach any definition to any word. But our words don’t matter. Only the word of God does. He’s much more in control than we think he is. Spouses who live under one roof have to listen to each other. Compromises have to be made. They don’t have a choice. Their chemistries have been merged into one vessel. The same thing happens when a person with the celibate gift is united with Christ. They have no choice but to respond to God and they respond in different ways. Some remain at his feet – like Mary of Bethany, some enter monasteries and continue lives of prayer, some reach out to young people by encouraging sexual purity, some hit the streets of inner cities, some take care of animals and endangered species, etc. Some even choose to be hobos for the kingdom of heaven and travel the globe with no job or steady source of income, etc. I think of my friend Meg Hunter-Kilmer.

There will always be Marthas yelling from the kitchen, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” I’m sure Martha thought Mary didn’t have a care in the world. We have to remember though that Martha yelled out of ignorance. Either she did not know what Mary was doing or didn’t understand the importance of it. Mary could have been with Jesus simply because she didn’t want to leave him alone and with no one to talk to. A sensitivity based on social order and dinner schedules would not be able to do that. Only a celibate like Mary could have understood how important this moment was in time. Likewise, there are many moments today that only those with the gift of celibacy understand and have insight on while those who are married and have families, busy in their kitchens and garages, and maintaining the rhythms of life do not. When they complain, remember what Jesus told Martha: “You are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41-42. He could have been a bit more harsh and told her “Martha, you chose marriage and a family over me and with that comes the responsibility of feeding those in your house. There’s nothing wrong with that. But Mary chose to be fully devoted to me. She can stay right here at my side as long as she wants to. You can’t take that away from her. She makes me comfortable. She makes me laugh. Likewise, she can’t take away what you are about to put on the table for us to eat. We would all starve.” So when someone is complaining about you not settling down with a husband and having children and asking if you have a boyfriend, remember what Christ said: It will not be taken away from you. When someone is complaining about you not manning up with a wife and becoming a responsible and trustworthy man, remember what Christ said: It will not be taken away from you. No one can take our lamps. The world is still upset about many things. It defines maturity based on the number of sexual partners. Those bowing at the altar of sex are very uncomfortable with the idea of someone renouncing married life. At the time of the reformation, celibacy was under attack because it was associated with the rules of the Catholic Church, which is ironic because such a charisma can only be freely chosen. Today celibacy is under attack because it is associated with homosexuality and same sex marriage. In eternity, it will be the norm.

So, is there a difference between the concerns of a married person and a single person? Probably not. A person can hop from bed to bed and still claim legal single status. Plus, singles are just in a holding pattern waiting for marriage. Much is written for them. They are lonely, bitter, can’t find themselves, and blame God for their misfortune. This is the dichotomy the world operates under. And sadly, it is the world the church has settled for. But is there a difference between a married person and a virgin? Yes. It’s in the Bible. Take a look at verse 34 in 1 Corinthians 7:

“There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband.”

You won’t find these verses mentioned in too many self help books. The only time virginity sells is when it is discussed in relation to waiting on marriage, or waiting on Boaz. This is fine and good. But it’s not half the picture. Notice how Paul interchanges “virgin” and “unmarried woman.” He uses the same language when talking about men in verses 25 and 26. Think about that. A man who had lived a celibate life understood the profound effect of a eexual relationship. He knew it far beyond a few minutes of pleasure. That it affects a person’s soul. That it guides what their heart cares about. It’s interesting too that “there is difference” in verse 34 is singular. I think this indicates that there are many differences rather a singular difference and that there are too many differences to allow the use of the pleural “differences.” Because using the pleural would lead to questions about what the differences are. That’s not possible because the cares are so different from person to person; just as the cares in marriages can’t be true for every couple.

Much has been written about the gift of celibacy allowing extra time and freedom to do the will of God, freedom from sexual need, liberation from family responsibility, freedom to love all people, ability to take more risks, etc. While all of those may be true, they don’t begin to adequately explain the difference between a wife and a virgin. Paul is not talking about the situational circumstances of a person not holding a marriage license, which didn’t even exist at the time he wrote this letter. He is talking about how every cell of a virgin is realigned to Christ’s needs. I’m tempted to use the word genetic because that comes very close to describing the celibate charism Fr. Thomas DuBay described in his book “And You Are Christ’s: The Charism of Virginity and the Celibate Life. Just as brain chemistry (i.e., oxytocin) bonds a man and woman’s cares when they have sex, I believe people who have the gift of celibacy have brain chemistry that bonds their cares permanently to Christ. But don’t look for that discovery on the cover of Science magazine. What do you care about?

http://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/is-marriage-eternally-futile

http://www.piercedhands.com/

https://baylor-ir.tdl.org/baylor-ir/bitstream/handle/2104/3004/russell_hobbs_phd.pdf?sequence=4

The Language Of A Eunuch

john waiving-web2

A single life, single parent, single thread, single take, single entry, single row, single line, single player. Life is full of singles. The problem is that when a word becomes so ubiquitous it completely loses its meaning. But our society likes ubiquitous words, words that keep everybody on the same level. They are the comfort buffers of a politically correct world, especially one where socialism is the norm. Comfort words don’t single out anything or anybody and allow everybody’s opinion to have equal value. They serve the same function as cardboard cutouts of angels, feather dream catchers and scoops of ice cream with chocolate drizzled on top. Convictional kindness, diversity, inclusiveness, transparency, it takes a village. They’re supposed to make us feel good about ourselves. They also play a big part in a society’s moral standards. A society that worships sex doesn’t change its values to meet the Bible’s standards. They change the Bible to meet their standards. The fastest way to do that is through language. The media know that all too well. How fast did churches adopt gay, transgender, LGBT, equal rights, age of consent, diversity, and committed relationship? They have used the church as the biggest patsy in the history of humankind. In a world where the meaning of marriage goes no further than a courtroom, a bag of rice, and a couple of memorized prayers, the sacredness of sex has all but ceased to exist. The idea of God calling someone to live without sex and focus exclusively on his concerns is a foreign concept. It only follows then that churches define singles strictly on the absence of a marriage license. The pharisaical language of legalism is the only one they know. When it comes to celibacy being a spiritual gift, even the thought is offensive to most Protestant churches. Consider the First Baptist Church of St. John’s, MI:

“When Paul speaks of singleness as a gift, he isn’t speaking of a particular ability some people have to be contentedly single. Rather, he’s speaking of the state of being single. As long as you have it, it’s a gift from God, just as marriage will be God’s gift if you ever receive it.”

The Bible does not tell us that we choose our own spiritual gifts. God does that. We live in a world though where no one can have a “particular ability” that everybody else doesn’t have. That wouldn’t be fair. People would feel left out. It would be uncomfortable. Wait a second. She got more cookies than you? Let’s take some off her plate and give to you. Socialized values. They fit in rather well with a socialist state. Acknowledging spiritual gifts would acknowledge God’s presence in the world. Churches today can’t do that, especially when it comes to human sexuality because they think they know more than God. Every topic related to sexuality that comes up in churches has to be discussed, debated, and voted on. Take the Southern Baptists, for example. They’ve talked so long about affirming, loving, and accepting gays that their feeble “it’s a sin” holds as much water as the idea of one of their marriages lasting till death do us part. Plus, today’s Calvinist-leaning churches are so totally “depraved,” the mere thought of chastity falls way outside their glorification of sex in the “marriage bed.” Many of them even believe that the only way to salvation is through marriage. That’s why you won’t find an unmarried Protestant preacher.

As those know who are familiar with this topic, Jesus addressed the topic of the gift of celibacy in Matthew 19 by using the metaphor of eunuchs. Protestant churches deny the existence of “only to those to whom it is given” for the kingdom of heaven as described in Matthew 19. Their theology is quite elementary: If you don’t have a marriage license, you have the gift of singleness. If you have a marriage license, you have the gift of marriage. That doesn’t take much thought, does it? It’s quite comfortable. Isn’t it amazing that courthouses have been given the power of dispensing spiritual gifts? This is what happens when the sacredness of sex is separated from the commitments of marriage and celibacy. They become mere paperwork. Apostle Paul makes it clear that there are only two lifestyle choices for the Christian, both of which have equal value: Celibacy as a eunuch or marriage as a spouse. But look at where churches are today. Instead of eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven, we have support for singles meat markets. Instead of one-flesh unions, we have support for committed relationships, covenant commitments, civil unions, same sex couples, young couples, childless couples, cohabitating couples, engaged couples – and the perversion continues.

Many more comfort words have been used to replace biblical principles. How are your “family values” holding up? Who talks about fornication anymore? The church latched onto the world’s language of “premarital sex” and never looked back. Who talks about sodomy? That’s just hate speech. The church latched onto the world’s language of “gays” and never looked back. And “convictional kindness” glossed over every abomination imaginable. Where are the eunuchs Jesus spoke of? I’m starting to wonder how many pastors even know what a eunuch is. Calvary Baptist Church in Greenville, MI has an article on its web site that I think is representative of their insight. Their pastor Shaw states that:

“I don’t ever remember entertaining the thought that I might not be married. Diane and I met when she was 16 and I was 18 and we were married two years later. Looking back, that seems crazy. What were we thinking? But, after almost 34 years, I have no regrets. Yet I would not recommend the choice we made for everyone. Not because I don’t like being married but because of the words of Jesus. In our text for Sunday (Matthew 19) Jesus reminded the disciples that some people can “accept” being single and some cannot. (It appears the weak ones get married :)).”

At least he acknowledged he was married and not the best person to write on the subject. It’s interesting that he thinks everybody who does not choose marriage has automatically been granted the status of a Matthew 19 “single.” There’s only one tiny problem with that: Jesus never used the word “single.” He used the word “eunuch.” In verse 12, he used it three times. Do you prefer God’s language or the world’s langugage? Jesus tried so hard to make it clear that there was an alternative to marriage, yet so many professing Christians today, especially preachers, don’t have a clue as to what he was talking about. For most, the only alternative to marriage they can think of is homosexuality. So the big question in life is who to marry. As Rev. Shaw said: “Yet I would not recommend the choice we made for everyone.” What choice is he talking about? Which girl to marry? When to get married? Whether too continue in sexual sin or “make it right” in the eyes of the Lord? It could be all of them. But his choice was not between marriage or celibacy. “I don’t ever remember entertaining the thought that I might not be married.” And since he never understood he had a choice between marriage and celibacy, he never really understood marriage to begin with. A committment requires a default state. We come into this world alone. That is our default state. We cannot choose marriage if we don’t know what the options are. The big choice is whether or not to get married – not who, when or where to get married.

In Matthew 19 where Jesus described the three types of eunuchs, the disciples did not complain about whom they should marry, when they should get married, or if they should marry the girl they had sex with. Instead, they complained about the idea of not marrying at all! In verse 11 after hearing his prohibition against divorce, they said: “If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry.” Jesus’s HUGE revelation here is that the opposite of committed marriage is committed celibacy and that all of us, like the disciples, have to choose between a life of sex as a spouse or a life of no sex as a eunuch. The disciples were familiar with the langugae of sex and the choice of marriage. But they were not familiar with the language of no sex and the choice of celibacy. Like today, it hardly existed in their world. Jesus communicated this with the metaphor of a eunuch, someone incapable of having sex. It probably knocked the disciples over, just like it does us today. Can you think of a better metaphor for someone with the gift of celibacy? It effectively strenthened marriage by ruling out anything short of a one man and one woman sexual relationship for life because the alternative is so difficult Apostle Paul considered it a special gift. The eunuch metaphor also did away with the option of divorce or any other infiedlity in marriage. What has always struck me about these verses is Jesus’s succinctness and matter-of-factness. I’m sure the disciples’ mouths were left gaping as they scrambled to digest what they heard. “Have sex and I’m married? Oh no! But I don’t know if I can do the eunuch thing.” A couple of them might have gone to a “man up” conference that night to think things over.

Jesus did not tell his disciples that some people can ‘accept’ being single and some cannot. The verb “accept” in Matthew 19:11 specifically refers to eunuchs, not singles who just haven’t found the right one yet. Eunuchs accept a permanent commitment to Christ, just as married people accept a permanent commitment to each other. Are there public vows? No. Wedding cakes? No. Wedding rings? No. But there other things in the spiritual world we do not see. There is a big, big difference between how the world defines “singles” and how Jesus defined eunuchs. The biggest difference is that eunuchs live chaste lives without sex. This is one of the biggest reasons it is not talked about in churches today. It reminds married people of the faithfulness God expects in marriage. I also think eunuchs include women because Jesus didn’t say anything that would exclude them. I think the metaphor of the eunuch was mainly used to signify permanence, not any specific gender or body part. Single people who don’t know Christ live as single as the absence of a wedding license allows them to. Meetups, hookups, one-night stands, friends with benefits, etc. You name it. As long as they don’t visit a courthouse, they’re legally single. But there is absolutely nothing biblical about a courthouse document.

When Jesus spoke of eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven, he was not insinuating that a celibate life was as impossible as a man castrating himself. Rather, I think he was trying to explain why celibacy is a gift given only to some, because it is that difficult. In other words, God didn’t deliver a dozen truckloads of apples to my door with a note: “This is my gift to you. God.” Instead, he delivered a small box with a note: “In the box you will find enough seeds to plant 1,000,000 apple trees. It’s up to you to buy the land, till the soil, plant the seeds, and harvest the apples. God.” I hope that puts gift in perspective for you. So, do I walk about with a bright shiny “halo” of celibacy over my head? No. Do I go through life never feeling alone or that I need someone to talk to? No. Do I never notice the beauty of a woman? No. If you’re married, think about all the things your spouse does for you. Think about how much you depend on him or her. I depend on God for those same things everyday. I’m committed to him just as you are to your spouse. You may not find the marriage license in courthouse records. But it’s just as real.

Click to access newsletterapril2015.pdf

http://www.calvarygreenville.org/blog/46-green-pastures-still-waters/400-single#addcomments

http://www.naba.org/chapters/nabambc/construct-species-page.asp?sp=spring-azure

The False Witness Of Marriage

Marriage Medieval Germany

There are many ways of spreading the word of God today. If you’re a preacher and connected to the internet, then the pulpit may actually be a tiny part of your evangelistic crusade. The drawback, though, is that many lost people who read or hear what you say do not know anything about Jesus or the Bible, or even your church. You can’t see their reactions to your words. Even worse, you can’t answer all of their questions. Here’s a question I would like you to think about: Would you tell a lost soul on the street about Jesus’ death on the cross, but leave out his resurrection and the promise of eternal life if we believe in him? I don’t think so. That would be only half the story, wouldn’t it? However, you do the same thing when you pontificate about the glories of marriage and babies and leave out the alternative of celibacy for the kingdom of heaven. As a matter of fact, marriage is an institution of the Old Testament, not the New Testament. The old covenant between God and the nation of Israel was described as a marriage all the way back in Jeremiah 3:14-15:

“14 Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion: 15 And I will give you pastors according to mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding.”

As we know, God ultimately divorced the physical kingdom of Israel. So earthly marriage today can only point to the Old Testament and concerns of the world. It is not symbolic of the marriage between Christ and the church, but between God and Israel. However, in the New Testament and under the New Covenant, God is calling out from the world a spiritual kingdom of Israel. This body of believers is what we know today as the church. The new marriage relationship between God and his church is eternal. There will be no divorce. It cannot, however, be represented by the temporary nature of an earthly marriage. The new marriage relationship between Christ and the church can only be represented by those called to celibate life and the concerns of the Lord. Spouses have to go through each other to get to heaven. People with the gift of celibacy have a direct link. So in a very real way, marriage points to the past while celibacy points to the future. Spiritual circumcision replaced physical circumcision. Instead of making babies, celibates make spiritual children.

So pastors, I encourage you to feed the church with knowledge and understanding, balancing the temporary Old Testament nature of marriage with the eternal New Testament nature of celibacy. Dig yourselves out of the idol worship of marriage and children and into the promise of everlasting life that God promised us in the New Testament. Put down the baby diapers long enough to realize the needs of all of your fellow man. And above all, realize that God did not ordain the nuclear family as the foundational institution of human society. Matthew 16:18 makes it pretty clear that, if anything is the foundational institution of human society, it is the church: “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

So remember that when you proselytize marriage to the masses, especially on the internet, and omit the option of celibacy, you are preaching a false gospel. As a matter of fact, your Bible doesn’t even get to the gospels. It ends with the Old Testament and divorce. The past must be balanced with the future.

Don’t Tell The Preacher I Told You That

lady with phone

Kirk is a man in my Baptist church. I recently interviewed him.

John: Congratulations on your 25th wedding anniversary Kirk. Not many couples stay together that long.

Kirk: No, they don’t. Divorce is the way to go these days. And if you don’t want to get married, a young man can get sex anywhere on the street these days. It’s as easy as buying pizza. The way he looks at it is why pay with his life for what he can with a one-night stand. People don’t know what commitment is any more.

John: So what do you think has kept you two together all these years?

Kirk: Well, probably a lot of things. We’ve got our four kids, you know. They’re our lives. And then we have nine grandkids. I guess you could say our family has kept us together. And then there’s the church.

John: What do you think the future holds for you and Sue?

Kirk: Well, we got married ’til death do us part. We’ve had a faithful marriage and one that I think honors God. We’ve always believed that marriage is a picture of the great wedding in the future between Christ and his church.

John: Where would you be today if you had not married Sue?

Kirk: I probably wouldn’t be here. I mean, I had a wild streak and Sue sort of calmed me down. She was like a guiding force that put me on the straight and narrow. If I hadn’t met her, I’d probably be doing time in prison . . . or dead.

John: Prison? What do you think you would have done to end up there?

Kirk: Well, before I met Sue, I liked to have a good time out on the drag strips and casino halls. I took risks with my life nearly every Saturday night. And I liked to have fun with the girls. Even though I never scored with one, I had lots of opportunities. I’m not sure how much longer I could have held out though if Sue hadn’t come along.

John: Are you saying you would have probably had sex before marriage?

Kirk: Probably so. Look, I was 21 and Sue was 19. A man can’t wait much longer than that. I’m not bragging or anything, but I think God game me a double dose of testosterone. How does the Bible put it? Oh yeah, I would have burned up with passion. Sue quenched my fire.

John: What would it have taken for you to survive until today without Sue, without sex, and without your kids and grandkids.

Kirk: Oh my, that would have taken a supernatural miracle on the part of God. I know the Bible talks about those people, but I’m not sure about that today.

John: You don’t think they exist today?

Kirk: I don’t know of any. They are highly exalted gifted people who are missionaries in third world countries. They wouldn’t have any need to be here. Everybody in this country knows who God is. I think Billy Graham had some . . . and maybe the Pope.

John: I see. Would you be able to recognize one if she was in your church Sunday morning?

Kirk: My heavens yes. They wear long robes and sandals. The women have long hair and wear no makeup. They wear a lot of black. They’re rather thin because they don’t eat much and they spend a lot of time with orphans and homeless people. They walk around quoting scripture.

John: So you think they’re missionaries in third world countries? Pretend for a moment that you’re on the way to the hospital with a sick daughter when you get a phone call from one of your coworkers contemplating suicide. Would you go see your desperate friend or continue to the hospital with your sick child?

Kirk: Well, of course I would continue on to the hospital. My child has to come first.

John: Okay. Whose responsibility is it to talk to your desperate friend, to walk out on the ledge with them?

Kirk: Uh . . . well . . . it should be one of those missionaries you were talking about. But it will probably be the police. That’s what we pay them to do.

John: Don’t you think God would have missionaries in every country to help with those kinds of situations?

Kirk: Well, I guess he would. He should. It’s just that everybody has responsibilities with families these days. Nobody has the time. Well, almost nobody. Somebody has been calling my mother in the nursing home every week. We can’t find out who it is.

John: Do you think everybody is supposed to be married?

Kirk: Of course not. There will always be some people who don’t.

John: What about the people who intentionally stay single and celibate?

Kirk: Now, only Catholics do that kind of thing. You know, they have their monks and nuns. People who have no sex drive.

John: Is that in the Bible?

Kirk: Yes, I think it’s in Hebrews. It says that only unmarried Catholic monks and nuns will be given the gift of celibacy.

John: Hold on just a second, I’ve got to call your mom at the nursing home.

Kirk: You mean you . . .

John: Yes, I’ve committed myself to calling several people every week. I could just as well cancel the commitment and keep on talking to you.

Kirk: No, you go right ahead. I appreciate what you’re doing. I’ve got to pick up Junior from the ballgame.

John: So, am I a single man waiting on a wife?

Kirk: No. You’ve got a calling. You’ve been faithfully committed to God. I’d say you’re a monk. But don’t tell the preacher I told you that.

Okay, this was a fictional interview. But I think it’s highly plausible.

He Who Makes A Paradise Of His Bread . . .

images

In her new book Chastity Is For Lovers, my friend Arleen Spenceley includes a quote (p. 36) by Argentinian poet Antonio Porchia (1885-1968): “He who makes a paradise of his bread, makes a hell of his hunger.” For most Americans today, hunger is a foreign concept. Whatever your appetite, you have a civil right for it to be met. Your paradise could be drugs, porn, sex, sports, etc. Anything. Whatever your heart desires. Not only that, you don’t have to wait on anything. That would be unloving and cruel. You have the right for your pleasure to be met on a moment’s notice. That sounds like a pretty good description of addiction, doesn’t it? That’s because we live in a culture of addiction and debauchery. The biblical truths of chastity and self-restraint have been replaced by whatever it takes to bring pleasure and happiness in the short term. Anticipation of eternity has been replaced by big dreams for tomorrow. Anticipation of the wedding feast in heaven has been replaced by a hookup on Saturday night. I think few people realize that God does not promise us happiness on earth. Only in heaven will we find eternal happiness. That requires waiting. We are called to live as faithful servants of Christ while awaiting his return. And we are called to live as chaste men and women awaiting marriage – whether on this earth as husbands and wives or in heaven as brides of Christ. As a matter of fact, Christianity is based on waiting, on the advent of Christ’s return. It is based on hunger for more than can be fulfilled on earth.

Passing up paradise and leaving a portion of bread in our bowls requires us to acknowledge we are never alone at the table and that we have a responsibility to care for those in need. We have to take the “me” out of our worlds and replace it with serving other people and bringing glory to God. We have to show the humility that Christ showed on the cross. We have to show the humility that he does every time he gives us his body in the Eucharist. As St. Augustine said: “If you should ask me what are the ways of God, I would tell you that the first is humility, the second is humility, and the third is humility. Not that there are no other precepts to give, but if humility does not precede all that we do, our efforts our meaningless.” When a person is humble and recognizes where his bread comes, he does not feel the need to make a paradise out of it. He realizes that, by providing him sustenance, it becomes part of the process of glorifying God. It allows us further service in his name. This kind of humility leads to faith and dependence on God for everything. Not just food. A better approach to our bread might be: “Dear Lord, bless this food to our bodies and our bodies to Your service.” Thankfulness and faith allows us to see our bread bowls completely empty and that we are nothing without Christ. Not only that, it should allow us to see the empty bread bowls of our neighbors. Do you think you would notice the crumble of bread on your neighbor’s plate if your stuffing down a three-course steak dinner? Humility serves to keep our paradises grounded in reality. This would not be possible while floating in the paradise of a more than satisfied appetite. So we must first give thanks for our daily bread and acknowledge God as the provider. And instead of completely devouring what we do have, we save a portion for those who don’t have anything to eat. If we lead lives of gluttony and pleasure for the here and now without knowing what sacrifice is, then our bodies will expect quick satisfaction in the future when we don’t have a full plate. Self-control is a discipline that requires us to see beyond what’s on the menu today.

Just as we should be able to picture an empty bowl of bread, we should be able to picture our lives without sex. Just as a paradise of bread is not promised to us, a paradise of sexual fulfillment is not promised either. We are not promised sex in marriage, outside marriage, with a man, with a woman, or on top of a courthouse. Nada. As a matter of fact, Paul advises us to live as if we had no spouse: “From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not (1 Cor 7:29).” Since God included the sex drive in the DNA of our creation, remaining chaste before marriage or until Christ’s return takes a level of self control that the world does not know. This hunger makes room for unconditional love. Those who are saving sex for marriage know the importance of self-control. And they also know how moderation plays a role in every aspect of our lives. It’s part of who we are and our witness to the world. A lot of times, the paradise of our bread is made in the recesses of our minds and unrealistic expectations. We have bought into the world’s view of Prince Charming sweeping us off our feet and Cinderella being the babe of our dreams without first discerning if marriage is God’s will for our lives. In other words, we don’t start with an empty bowl. We assume it’s filled with marriage and work towards that end. Tragically we have bought into the notion that our lives are supposed to be one act drama-packed reality shows where emotions rule. Emotions are nothing more than hazy chalk marks on the expressway of life. They are strictly temporary. I can hold a baby and feel the “father gene” in me wake up. I can talk to the loveliest girls in the world and feel the “mating gene” in me wake up. But that doesn’t mean that God has called me to marriage. It doesn’t mean that I’m ruled by those emotions. It doesn’t mean my bowl is full of anything. It means that emotions take a backseat to the long-term will of God when he’s in the driver’s seat. As good and holy as marriage and sex are, they are part of this world. The temporary romantic love they represent is fading faster than moonlight on a summer’s day. Celibacy for the kingdom of God, however, is an eternal lifestyle choice. It involves a sacrifice that goes way beyond that found in dating, mating, and procreation.

If you are in the process of discerning marriage or celibacy, think about this: The next time you feel the need to have sex, to be a mother or father, to have someone at your side, to have someone to wake up with every morning – ask yourself what your feelings would be if you had no one else to compare your life with. What would your thoughts be if your bowl of expectations had no frame of reference? How would you define hunger? The next time you’re at a theme park and sandwiched between couples waiting in line for rides, don’t think of them as couples having a paradise of sex while you’re not. Think of them as individuals – just like you – waiting in line for the same thing you are. If they are Christians, they’re supposed to be living like they had no spouse anyway. Right? Don’t let what they may have be a reminder of what you don’t have. Better yet, put yourself in Adam’s shoes in the Garden of Eden before eve was created. What will be your answer when Adam asks “What’s a woman?” Now how do you feel about being alone? What’s alone? Let your celibacy be a reminder of what you do have – Total reliance on God to meet all your needs and God’s total reliance on me to have an undivided heart. Married people may not have the paradise you think. Honestly, they could be the unhappiest couple on earth and you may be the person they envy. Don’t start a narrative about a couple where one doesn’t exist. Just like you don’t want them to make assumptions about you as a single person, don’t make assumptions about them. Really, I doubt many couples look at me and say: “Oh, that poor single man. He would be so much happier with a woman by his side.” Being coupled in public or being alone in public doesn’t make much of a statement about our marital status or happiness. And it certainly makes no statement about our relationship with God. “Oh, but what if they don’t see God in me and just see my lonely pitiful self?” Do your best to mirror God’s love at all times. Loneliness is part of the human condition, whether married or not. Show the world that love exists outside the world of When Harry Met Sally. Show them that your completeness does not depend on a spouse and that you are able to be content with an empty bowl while waiting for the real paradise.

I think hunger is a natural part of every Christian’s life. We can never be too satisfied with this world because we know there’s a better world waiting. This is magnified for those of us called to celibate life, where waiting takes on the complexity of multidimensions that only the crew of the Enterprise could appreciate. But it doesn’t mean we lack passion. My love for God is made deeper by longing for what I don’t have. And I think my capacity to love mankind is deeper as well. Don’t let the world define who you are. If you’ve chosen celibacy, tell others about your choice of a higher love. Let them see just how you depend on Christ to meet all of your needs. Use your solitary completeness as a radical witness to the time coming when there will be no marriages. As incomprehensible as it may sound, remind couples that what will satisfy your hunger in the future will be better than the sex they are having today; that the paradise they are having with their bread today will one day be no more tastier than a stale wet cracker bouncing off their lips. So, eat the bread you do have with moderation and thankfulness. And make heaven, not hell, out of your hunger.

https://www.avemariapress.com/product/1-59471-480-0/Chastity-Is-for-Lovers/

What Is Love?

john waiving-web2

A lot has been written about love, from a romantic point of view. So I thought I would write something about my personal perception of love, from a platonic point of view. Actually, I prefer the term Agape – the all encompassing, sacrificial, love for God and neighbor, the kind of love God has for us. Back in my 20s and 30s, I pretty much took it for granted that everybody was aware of and respected those called to marriage as well as those called to celibacy. I took love for granted, whichever path I chose. I envisioned a Sunday School class door that read “eunuchs for the kingdom.” I had hope for acceptance. Since my background was Protestant, there was very little information in my church on celibacy. Everything centered on nuclear families – wedding anniversaries, birthdays, Father’s Day, etc. My dad kept telling me don’t worry about everybody else. From about the age of 16, he included something about singleness in our devotions at bedtime. “Apostle Paul. You can be like Apostle Paul. There’s nothing wrong with that.” I would read the scripture and he would explain. I listened. Okay, so I was taking a different path to love. I would be able to love everybody in a way that married people couldn’t. The only problem I didn’t count on was that the church would not love me back. I never dreamed that the Southern Baptists would ban single men from preaching or serving in the church. After youth group and college and career, whatever love they had turned into suspicion and “what are you waiting for,” “the right one will come along,” “you’ll know her when you see her.” And of course I didn’t have the money to put in offering plates to buy their love. I began to ask myself “does the Catholic church have a monopoly on the gift of celibacy?” I’m not sure you would call it a monopoly, but they are the only church I’m aware of that has any insight on the subject. That’s why I find myself in my 50s contemplating changing churches.

I have not give up on love, though. I can look back over time and recognize people that showed an uncommon love towards me. The key word there is showed. They went beyond just talking about it. For example, I put a high value on talking to people one-on-one, not on texting or emailing. But that’s almost unheard of today. “If you don’t want to be with her, what’s the point in calling?” What is shocking to me is how many church people have bought into this perverted mindset. We have a culture today where fathers warn their daughters at a young age to be leery of all men, especially older men. But when they end up barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen, the church asks “why couldn’t anybody reach out to her?” Truly sad. I would go as far to say that parents are the biggest obstacles in their children’s lives today, especially if those children are single adults and have chosen the celibate life. Once the child becomes older than they were when they married, they are in uncharted territory. Parents often think they can rely on their own judgment to lead them in the right direction. They think parents always know best. Breaking news: Parents don’t always know best. Their advice will mean very little at a certain age. While I’ve always loved and respected my parents, they were not qualified to counsel me on celibate life. Making the decision, yes. Providing guidance, no. So the big question for parents is what’s their definition of love? Is it limited to the family-centric romantic love that will bring them grandchildren? Or does it extend to the unlimited agape love found in celibacy? I’ve thought about this quite a lot. I’ve come to the conclusion that in order to faithfully travel the road of celibacy, a person must have mentors outside family. It is absolutely mandatory. I had one in particular who I related to like a sister and still do today.

So what is love? The world will tell you it’s about hooking up and having multiple orgasms. The church will tell you it’s about nuclear families and the maternal instinct of nurturing and the fatherly instinct of providing and protecting. The Bible will tell you it’s a balance of both. Most of my closest friends are elderly, widows and widowers, and people who have lived through tremendous tragedies. I can see how the loss of a spouse can redefine a person’s concept of love. And others like myself who have survived near death experiences have had their definitions of love altered and priorities rearranged. For me, love is about the small things. Things so small you would never think they matter. It’s about being sensitive and not making assumptions. Stop and talk to me, leave an empty chair for me in your family at church luncheons, call me, write real letters, tell me my life means something to you, tell me you love me, show me you trust me, ask me something about art or nature, invite me along on your next family adventure, invite me to your church, ask me to talk to your children. Treat me like a real member of your family and not like an unknown anomaly that requires an obligatory “singles sermon” every couple of years. Tell me you understand what celibate chastity is. All I’m leaving on this earth is a legacy of memories. Does my legacy of celibacy mean anything to your family? If so, what? Assure me that you’ll remember my life and that my love is just as significant as any member of your family. Show me that blood is not thicker than water. Is that too much to ask?

Extraterrestrial Celibacy

andromedauv

Ultraviolet image of Andromeda from NASA’s Galaxy Evolution Explorer

Imagine for a second an extraterrestrial sent you a tweet asking what the climate is like on earth because he’s thinking about moving here. Limited to only a few lines of text, you tell him we have 24 hours in a day, a giant sun that is 10 times bigger than earth, all the light needed to sustain life, enough warmth to keep us comfortable, and that we are working on harnessing the sun’s power for solar energy. Are you missing something in your description of earth? What about nighttime? Don’t you want to squeeze in something about the other half of the 24 hours? Many nocturnal species including the Leatherback Turtle, Great Horned Owl, Blacknose Shark, Grey Mouse Lemur, and firefly depend on the nighttime for their survival. Their migration, mating, and even food sources depend on cycles of day and night. It’s a delicate balance such that even artificial lighting has been shown to disrupt their natural cycles of life. So I would suggest you give just as much information on our nighttime as on our daytime to the incoming visitor. You can’t have day without night. And you can’t have night without day. That makes sense. It’s an example of the natural dichotomies God set into motion when he created everything in the universe. A dichotomy is “a division or contrast between two things that are or are represented as being opposed or entirely different.” I think it’s the perfect word to describe the sharp contrast of day and night and many other opposing forces in nature. The key is that they balance each other.

It’s also the perfect word to describe the difference between God’s call to marriage and God’s call to celibacy. How much more difference can there be between a man called to the concerns of the world and a man called to the concerns of the Lord (1 Corinthians 7:32-34)? They have totally different values and chemistries. What makes it so unique though is that it’s our choice. When God created Adam and Eve, it was not a one-time event. He continues to create life today. We become part of the ongoing creation process when we bring babies into the world. However, we become just as much a part of the creation process when we propagate God’s family by regeneration of eternal fruit through faith in Christ. We can’t do too much about the other dichotomies in nature, like day and night and hot and cold, but we do have a choice about the lifestyle we choose – faithful marriages or faithful celibacies. Apostle Paul went to great lengths to explain the changes that the arrival of Christ and shortening of time would bring into the world. 1 Corinthians 7:29-30:

“What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away”

Note in verse 29 that Paul does not say this is his opinion. He plainly states, “What I mean.” Then he uses a series of striking social dichotomies to illustrate how life should change in the short time left after Christ’s ascension into heaven. His use of the word “should” indicates there will be consequences if we don’t make an effort to revert to our normative solitary lives and leave the world behind. All of these dichotomies are fairly easy to spot in society, except one – the presence or absence of a wife (spouse). Take a look at 1 Corinthians 6:15-20 and it may be easier:

15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never! 16 Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” 17 But whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit. 18 Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. 19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

The man with no wife has not been united with anyone. He has had no visitors in his temple. The same thing applies to a woman. She is the queen of her castle. If he’s had other occupants in his temple, then he is a man who has had a wife. In verse 16, Paul makes it plain that there really is no such thing as prostitutes, but adulterating wives. Did you read anything here about a wedding? Marriage licenses? In a very real sense, we don’t control our spiritual marital status. God does. We can’t create marriages in the eyes of God in courthouses and church buildings. But we can control who we let into our temples. Tufts University recently published an article titled “The Neuroscience of Love” which actually explains how a man who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body:

“Finally, our infatuation produces a decrease in the brain areas associated with “mentalizing” and “theory of mind,” namely the prefrontal cortex, parieto-temporal junction, and the temporal poles. These are the structures responsible for being able to identify other people’s emotions and ascribing reasons for them. Zeki (2007) explained this finding by highlighting that these areas are implicated in the conceptual distinction between the self and the other, therefore their deactivation is necessary for reaching the merging and unity lovers seek with each other. As the popular salsa song Me Repito says “ya no distingo entre tu cara y la mia” (I don’t distinguish between your face and mine anymore).”

It looks like love really is blind. We greatly underestimate how much God is in control of this world. So what’s different about a man who has not had a wife? For one thing, he does read other people’s emotions better. He has all of his original identify. Take a closer look at his temple. Explore his brain chemistry. Does he have bonding potential? Does it look like he has plans to build additional rooms? Is he trying to develop the qualities of a Christian husband? Father? Can he adapt to someone else’s lifestyle? Can he lose some of his independence? Would he be willing to sacrifice his life for his wife and children? If so, then he may be a man looking for a wife.

On the other hand, it could be a man who has had no visitors in his temple and he doesn’t wany any. He is just as honorable, respectful, honest, focused on you, and forthright as the guy above. He will think you’re just as beautiful, but he may not “come on” to you any other guys would. Where are his real passions? Does he seem to have a mission in life that is bigger than he is, out of this world? Is he a rebel? Does he seem to be living in a different time period? Is he a dreamer? Has he mastered self control? Does he have unusual creative abilities or other means of expression? Does he like to spend time alone? If so, then he may be a man called to the celibate life.

You can’t see all of these characteristics between the married and unmarried man from a distance, can you? They’re not as easy to spot as happiness and sadness. You can’t see them on a text message. You can’t see them on an iPhone. Could this be why Boaz’s are so hard to spot? I think so. You’ve got to look much deeper than what you see on the surface. The paint on the outside of his temple may be new and all gaits gaits polished, but on the inside you may find memories of other women that have tarnished his expectations for the future and clouded his ability to trust you. Is he able to distinguish your face from another lover’s face? The differences between men with wives and men without wives are as great as night and day, but their value in God’s eyes is 50/50.

Imagine for a second that an extraterrestrial sent you a tweet asking, instead of climate, about the human experience on planet earth. Limited to only a few lines of text, you replied back that our God had ordained marriage as the glorified and sanctified foundational institution of human society. That it represents the highest ideals of mankind, the ticket to salvation and eternal life in heaven. You could include a few lines about Adam and Eve and fruitfulness and multiplying. Describe how man can’t control his lust and must get married as soon as possible in order not to displease his God. Oh, and you might want to include something about our newfound passion for same sex marriage and gender neutrality. Yes, one big cosmic orgy floating in space. Is that an accurate representation of the human condition? What about people who don’t get married and have children? Should they be part of the story? I’m sure you’re aware that nocturnal creatures slowly die off and become extinct if exposed to too much light.

Could that be the case with celibacy today? Could it be that it is slowly dying off because it’s not valued as much as marriage? Until the church recovers the proper teachings about celibacy and its goodness in Christ and stops its idolatry of the nuclear family, it has no business pontificating about chastity, courting, dating, marriage or its blessings. Until it understands that faithfulness to Christ determines the value of human life, not the faithfulness to a husband or spouse or the love of a child, it will continue to come under the wrath of God. Homosexuality? That’s just the tip of the iceberg. So churches, if you don’t want to acknowledge all of God’s creation, even the least of his children, then your comfortable corner of the world may be shipped off to a place much hotter than the sun. And that does not mean that you give a one hour lecture on the merits of marriage and family and throw in an obligatory 30 second sound bite: “But Paul says singleness is a gift too. So don’t worry. If you’re single, you’re gifted.” That is not what he says. And that is not how it works. If you can’t think of anything to say, just have an equivalent moment of silence.

So what are the extraterrestrials going to think of us? They will probably declare the earth uninhabitable because it has a 24 hour blistering sun and so much fruit crawling on the ground that there is no place to land. They really can’t deal with an over-populated planet. “Let’s move one of the cars out of daycare. No, there’s still not enough room to touchdown.” What did ET enter in his logbook about planet earth? They turned around and set a course for Andromeda.

http://benwitherington.blogspot.com/2005/09/jesus-and-paul-on-singlenessmarriage.html

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CB8QFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Ffryett.org%2Ffiles%2FSinglenessMarriageAndFamily.doc&ei=-TEcVfSuDomggwSbxoKQAQ&usg=AFQjCNEZSzm02q3k7xKfh8oIwom3Ifvkqw&sig2=2HmBQVzaFsb5kFISE1AG9g

https://chizadek.wordpress.com/category/singleness/

http://thosecatholicmen.com/supernatural-fatherhood-and-the-renewal-of-the-priesthood/

http://www.catholicdoors.com/misc/marriage/matri.htm

http://www.sbts.edu/family/blog/marriage-celibacy-and-the-hierarchy-of-merit-in-the-jovinian-controversy/

https://sites.tufts.edu/emotiononthebrain/2014/12/08/the-neuroscience-of-love/

Celibacy – Time Out Of Season

bagrati

The ruins of the Bagrati Cathedral, pre-restoration, painted by Aleksandr Fyodorovich Peters

Those of us who grew up in church know that marriage is supposed to be a sacred covenant between a man and woman. Married people’s identities are wrapped up in commitment. They’re committed to each other, to their children, to their family, to their school, to their church, etc. And of course today with the same sex marriage controversy, the family values flag is held up higher and higher to represent the highest form of Christian values. But where do singles get their identity? What commitments have they made? What affirms their adulthood? What responsibilities have they been given? After college and beyond, I’m afraid singles get their identify from the same place married people do – from the county clerk’s office in the local courthouse. Indeed, the absence of a marriage license is what defines a single in today’s church culture. It’s the epitome of political correctness. However, people called to celibacy are the epitome of political incorrectness. They cannot be defined by something they do not have. They have been given a special charisma, a spiritual gift that is just as important as all the others in the workings of the Holy Spirit. Instead of being contained in seasons, it survives through eternity. And the gift of celibacy usually comes with other special abilities. It’s not just an empty vacuum floating around spreading sprinkles of love and contentment. Even though I’m not a Catholic priest and haven’t taken vows, my consecrated celibacy is just as much a commitment to Christ as a couple’s commitment to each other in marriage.

Consecrated virginity is the oldest recognized form of consecrated life in the Catholic Church. It’s much older than their religious orders. It was discontinued in the Middle Ages because of the rise of monastic communities. But it was revived again in the 1950s with Vatican II. I find it ironic that women who are members of the Catholic Church’s Order of Consecrated Virgins today do not live in a cloistered community, but out in the real world. They do not wear habits or veils and do not refer to themselves as sisters. So if Martin Luther were alive today, what would he be protesting against? He wouldn’t find them in a monastery. He couldn’t find them in churches. He couldn’t identify them on the streets. And if the Catholic Church believes all their priests have the gift of celibacy and are not forcing it on anybody else, what are Protestants protesting today? The idea of not marrying and having sex? That seems weird. If they are protesting extended adolescence and delayed marriage, then their theology is not grounded in the Bible. Martin Luther eventually left the monastery and got married. But one man cannot undo what God ordained. Does that sound like marriage language? It’s supposed to. What was a spiritual gift 2000 years ago is just as much a spiritual gift today. Unless a church has identified members with the supernatural gift of celibacy, they need to leave open its door every time they discuss the vague issue of “singleness,” especially if they refer to 1 Corinthians 7; even more so if they might have a member who is discerning a call to celibacy. I’m not aware of a church that has done this. Maybe it’s time they should. I dare think what would happen if churches expended as much energy on building up lifestyles that are biblical as they do on battling lifestyles that are evil. What would happen if they found out there were singles who lived holy lives outside traditional seasons of singleness of marriage? Who are doing what Martin Luther could not do? It would probably blow their minds. Look at it this way: I don’t argue with my spouse all the time.

My friend Justin Campbell, who blogs at More Than Don’t Have Sex, recently wrote a post about how celibacy is not a season. I completely agree. We should not use the word single as a catch-all for everyone who is not married. And this should be especially true for churches. Yes, single requires no thought. Don’t have a marriage license? That’s simple. You’re single. Single is easy. Comfortable. It’s politically correct, right? Everybody wants to be married, don’t they? The answer to that is no. That’s what makes sex the idol it is today. Our society makes room for nothing else but marriage. Young people who have the potential to live fulfilling lives of celibacy get no encouragement or counseling and end up drawn into the homosexual lifestyle. I’ve seen this firsthand. Yes, you can point to Paul in the Bible and go back to the Old Testament and read about Jeremiah. But their witness has all but disappeared from the face of the earth. The younger generation today have to see it to believe it. What they get in the church instead is another seminar on marriage and another sermon on the glories of children, with maybe a story about Lottie Moon thrown in every few years.

So churches, the fact that you don’t know who we are and don’t have a tidy label for us is not our fault. It’s yours. You have spent years decrying the evils of celibacy and linking it to homosexuality. You have spent years telling guys to man-up and telling girls to stay pure and procreate. In doing so, you threw all celibates under the bus, including Christ himself. You are the ones who need to grow up. You need to get your language together and be consistent. I’m as much a “single” as a husband is just a guy who is having state sanctioned sex. That’s right. Since my identity is just a pitiful old man who hasn’t found the right woman to turn him on, I consider marriage licenses no more sacred than a fishing license. There are a few exceptions, of course, like Justin Campbell who accurately points out:

“Paul essentially says that there are those who should get married and those who shouldn’t. He says some have one gift and others another gift. But the gift he is talking about is not the gift of singleness, he is talking about the gift of celibacy.”

Yes indeed, there are single people waiting on a mate. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. In time though, that waiting could term into long term celibacy. It’s an important thing to discern, but I don’t think there are any age deadlines. And married people are not going to be able to help with that. What is critical is leading a chaste life. That way, you’re prepared if you say yes to marriage or yes to celibacy. It’s really a requirement for both lifestyles. I’ll never forget the day I met an elderly man in the grocery store. He was in a wheelchair and I was trying to help him get a carton of milk. He asked me where I went to church and if I was married. When I told him I thought the Lord had called me to single life, he said: “Really? Well, I am too. Yes I divorced my third wife last year I’ve been as content as all get out.”

I think the main thing people miss about 1 Corinthians 7 is that Paul is not describing a person’s present circumstances or pondering the merits of married life vs. single life. He isn’t hanging “singles” signs on Sunday School doors. He is describing the reality of the only two lifestyle choices God gives to every Christian – marriage and celibacy. Given by him and freely accepted by us. Marriage can’t be urged by parents at an early age because they’re afraid their children are going to fornicate. Marrying a particular person can’t be seen as a last resort because there are no other prospects. Marriage can’t be assumed the norm by youth pastors when they could have a student with the disposition to celibacy. Likewise, celibacy can’t be forced on priests who do not have that gift. I have several Catholic friends who have accepted the call to celibacy. I support them. Most everything I have read on the subject has been written by Catholic writers. The Protestants remain mute on the subject, like they have for the last 500 years.

I find it ironic that Protestants have forgotten that their entire identity is wrapped up in protesting celibacy. The only celibacy Christians of the 16th century knew anything about was institutionalized in the Catholic Church and expressed through vows taken by priests, monks, nuns, and other religious. Protestants today don’t even know what they are protesting about. They can’t fathom a commitment to something so radical as never marrying. It’s even more ironic that Martin Luther himself, the leader of the Protestant reformation, was a monk at one time and acknowledged those with the celibate gift:

“The third category consists of those spiritually rich and exalted persons, bridled by the grace of God, who . . . voluntarily remain celibate . . . Such persons are rare, not one in a thousand, for they are a special miracle of God. No one should venture on such a life unless he be especially called by God, like Jeremiah [16:2], or unless he finds God’s grace to be so powerful within him that the divine injunction, “Be fruitful and multiply,” has no place in him. (p. 21)”

Celibacy is a long term committment, not a season of short-term singleness. Those who have said no to marriage and have consecrated their lives to the service of Christ are committed for life. Even though we may never see it reflected in church ministry groups, there is more difference between the lives of married people and consecrated celibates than between male and female human beings. My unique committment to Christ is not just for a season. Are people committed to each other in marriage for a season? More importantly, is the only meaning marriage has in the 21st century derived from the county courthouse or does it have any more sacred meaning? If its meaning goes beyond a state-sanctioned marriage license, does the meaning of singleness go beyond the absence of such a license? Does it go beyond “extended adolescence?” Does it go beyond seasons of waiting? If sex can be consecrated to God in marriage, can chastity be consecrated to God in celibacy? I think it can. And I hope this encourages others who feel they have no identity in the church. Even though our biblical identities may have been lost with time, out witnesses continues to endure.

http://justinmcampbell.net/2015/03/24/celibacy-is-not-a-season/#comments

https://books.google.com/books?id=1bLvAQAAQBAJ&pg=PA227&lpg=PA227&dq=%22consider+early+marriage%22+%22denny+burk%22&source=bl&ots=6ReNLIpE2W&sig=ZwBrqATTjs2rnjnBfq_6DY4Sgog&hl=en&sa=X&ei=eF4ZVdXZFsilNun4gegP&ved=0CC0Q6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=%22consider%20early%20marriage%22%20%22denny%20burk%22&f=false

http://www.albertmohler.com/2010/08/23/why-arent-emerging-adults-emerging-as-adults/

http://consecratedvirgins.org/prepare-FAQ

All Married People Are Adulterers

3929-000026

What do you do when you want to know the definition of a word? Do you do a quick internet search and look at the results on the first few pages? If you answered yes and you’re married, you’re an adulterer. Here’s why: According to my Bible, there are only two holy lifestyles choices for the Christian – either marriage or celibacy. There have been so many thousands of books and articles glorifying marriage that I couldn’t begin to list them all. If you do a Google search on marriage and the church, the first 100 results will tell you how wonderful it is, how it holds the world together, and how to find your perfect spouse. You can read material from Focus on the Family, Crosswalk, Marriage Builders, Today’s Christian Woman, The Church of Jesus Christ of Later-Day Saints, The National Marriage Project, The Marriage Center, National Organization for Marriage, Smart Marriages, and on and on. You will think marriage is very holy indeed. You might even think it equals salvation.

However, if you do a search on celibacy and the church, the first 100 results will tell you about Catholic priests and pedophilia, ending mandatory celibacy for priests, a San Francisco church dropping celibacy requirement for gays, priestly continence, church cover-ups, church membership open to LGBT people, enforced celibacy, sexual dysfunction, endemic levels of child abuse, church dogma, homosexuality, celibacy rule, celibacy law, obligatory celibacy, and on and on. On the Google search I did of marriage + celibacy, 99 of the first 100 results were about such perversion. That’s 99%, which is more certainty than that required in most medical research. It’s enough to say that you will think celibacy is the most evil thing on the face of the earth. You might even think it’s as close to hell as you can get.

How close is the world’s perverted definition of celibacy to the freely chosen lifestyle described in the Bible, the spiritual gift that enables a person to focus on the Lord’s affairs, the lifestyle that Paul and Christ himself chose? I would say it couldn’t be further away from the truth. But this is what the world believes. This is what many church-going people believe, especially Protestant. Their definition of celibacy goes no higher than a pedophile serving time in prison. Do they view it with the same respect and holiness they do marriage? I’ll let you answer that.

This is the life I’ve chosen, though. If you’ve got a better name for it, please enter it into a dictionary and let me know. It’s just as holy and spiritual as any sanctimonious marriage. I’ve sacrificed just as much of my life as any married couple my age. And I’ve been as faithful as Mr. and Mrs. Jones in your church who just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. It’s just that I’ve lived 54 years of chastity. But if Mr. Jones met me on a street corner, bragging about his big bouquet of flowers and standing ovation, and asked if I was married, what would be the first thought to pass through his mind if I told him I was celibate? Holiness? Virtue? Honor? Respect? I don’t think so. More than likely, he will be reminded of the story he heard on the evening news about a sex scandal involving a Catholic priest and run the opposite direction. His thought processes will go no further than gay rights parades and same sex marriages. He may mutter something like “God help us, Sodom and Gomorrah have arrived.” After all, church culture has adopted world culture. They wouldn’t know a biblical word if it hit them over the head. Eunuchs? Who wants all that blood? Plus, the Protestants have got to keep on protesting what they started 500 years ago – those evil monks, nuns, and priests taking over the world. Martin Luther would be proud. Somebody might want to send them a text, though, to let them know the medieval period has passed and Henry VIII is no longer King of England. To be “relavent,” churches expend a great deal of energy making sure their language matches that of the brothels on the west side of town. Got to keep everything seeker friendly and oh so comfortable.

Since I can pretty much count on these assumptions about celibacy to be as certain as the sun rising in the morning, I think it’s only fair that I adopt equal assumptions about marriage. So, to be fair and treat everybody with equal respect, I am henceforth assuming that all married people are adulterers and fornicators who prowl the streets looking for their next victim. When I see married couples in churches, I will try to sit as far away from them as possible, for my own safety. If I see them hanging around children, I will have to call law enforcement, because you can never be sure about their intentions. Statistics have consistently shown that married men are the ones who sexually abuse children, not single men. To put it simply, I can’t trust husbands and wives. I really can’t think of a couple that mirrors Christ’s marriage to the church. What a joke. They’ve destroyed the institution of marriage with divorce and adultery and are working on the acceptance of same sex marriage. Now they want to destroy the institution of celibacy with fingerpointing and stereotyping, covering any dignity that was left with truck loads of suspicion and doubt. I can’t let them do that. One day soon they will see how important marriage is when they’re standing in front of a holy God, all alone.

Southern Baptists Adopt Nazi Breeding Methods

Abraham_and_the_Three_Angels

“Abraham And The Three Angels” by Giovanni Andrea de Ferrari (1689)

The Bible has a lot to say about self control. All the way from the prophets in the Old Testament to the disciples in the New Testament, you can read about Godly men who chose to follow God rather than their lusts.

“A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.” Proverbs 25:28.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23.

There are many people today who reject God’s teaching on self-control and celebrate their newfound freedom in today’s sexually liberated world. One such group is the Southern Baptist, the largest Protestant denomination in the United States. Of course, that should come as no surprise as the Baptists are not known for self-control or wisdom. Consider what their Public Policy President, Andrew Walker, recently said in response to the statistical rise in age of first marriages:

“Frankly, it is indeed our personal opinion that marrying earlier staves off the hormonal rush that comes with sexual temptation . . . It is impractical and unhelpful to advise and encourage young men and women who reach sexual maturity at the age of 12 or 13 to wait 15 years before marriage and still remain pure.”

You know what? For the Baptists, the entire Bible is impractical. Self control is not possible in a world of deep perversion. Sexual maturity? Let me see if I can find that in my Bible. Nope. Andrew, do you have chapter and verse? Unfortunately, this is another classic example of how they make up the Bible as they go along. Whatever feels good, is the most comfortable, and makes them look good in the eyes of the public is their Bible of the moment. Your little Suzie in the 6th grade has got a crush on a boy in the 7th grade? No worry. Just hire her a pimp for the night and get all those hormone rushes out of her system. You can’t make her feel . . . uncomfortable by not acting on her sexual urges. That would be so cruel. She shouldn’t have to wait on anything. She deserves everything now! You know, it might be best if you got her two pimps to stave off her hormones a little longer. Dress her up right and she may have a full time job.

And consider their recent statement in the Baptist Press:

“A Southern Baptist pastor (Jon Akin) and an expert on moral policy issues made national headlines recently by suggesting that parents who encourage their adult children to delay marriage for educational and financial reasons unwittingly send a message that it’s OK for them to engage in premarital sex.”

Unwittingly? I wonder how that might go down? “Ok son, I know you really like that blonde you’re seeing. I think she’s pretty cute too. I know you had your heart set on getting an architecture degree and building houses. But if you feel you can’t wait to have sex with her, you’re mom and I will help pay for the wedding tomorrow. You shouldn’t have to wait. A man’s got to do what a man’s got to do. We want you to be a family man. We’ll help you with the baby if that comes along. And you can always get a job down at Joe’s Bar and Grill.” I had to reread this expert’s opinion again because it’s almost a direct copy of Adolph Hitler’s Mein Kampf. This is what Hitler had to say on the subject of marriage and reproduction:

“We will treat these social diseases like syphilis by eliminating the cause that propagates the problem which is prostitution and promiscuity and the present government’s discouragement of early marriage. Often the youth cannot marry early because they do not have the money to pay for a home and family and higher education. Germany needs scientists and engineers. The NSDAP democratic government will make the money available and provide leadership to overcome these problems.”

Oh yes, the Obama administration is making even more money available. Now, every little precious child is entitled to a free two-year college degree. But guess who foots the bill? That’s right, taxpayers. Wouldn’t Hitler be so proud of the Baptists and Jon Akin? Here we have the largest Protestant denomination in the country endorsing Hitler’s breeding control methods – asserting that pedophilia is better than fornication, that chastity before marriage is not possible because of hormones, that self control is an antiquated idea, and that character proven by time doesn’t matter anymore. They apparently did not look at the statistics that show the rate of divorce has been dropping as the age of first marriage increases. That’s not new. Teen marriages have always been associated with a higher divorce rate. Are they really worried about promiscuity? I think not. Like Hitler worried about the declining number of German scientists, the Baptists are worried about declining church membership and offering in the plates. In 2014, the SBC membership declined for the 7th year in a row. I guess it’s time for panic mode. Maybe they ought to buy stock in Pampers and Gerber’s baby food. Got to get that production line going.

I thought it was odd that Walker included an ubiquitous sentence about singleness being a “gift that God gives to some people (1 Corinthians 7) and one only has the gift of singleness if they can live a celibate life with self-control.” Now, if someone has the gift of singleness, wouldn’t that require that they live beyond 20 years of age without sex? 30 years of age? For the rest of their lives without sex? The big fat elephant in the room is this: How do you know who those “some people” are? Do the Baptist’s actually think everyone in their “singles” groups on Sunday mornings are living celibate lives under control? If they do, they’re living in fairyland. Or maybe he meant that “celibacy is a gift” instead of singleness. Someone should probably buy them a new dictionary. “Only has the gift of singleness?” I guess he’s alluding to Matthew 19 when Christ made the comment “only to whom it is given” when talking about eunuchs. There are several problems with using these verses as a marriage mandate: First, it would be equally correct to say that one only has the gift of marriage if he cannot control himself. So some people have the gift of celibacy and everybody else is called to marriage. That’s a brilliant deduction. I’m sure it took a lot of Ph.D.s to figure that out. Second, how can anyone know how many “only” is? Only is a term that denotes exclusivity – not numbers. The days are bright and blue only when the sun is shining. Wow, that is really deep.

I agree though that those called to celibacy are a small number. But how can anybody in the SBC know those numbers or make such generalizations about them? To my knowledge, they’ve never taken a survey on that. But they have done a lot of surveys to see how many of their members accept homosexuality. They’ve even called on all of their congregants to “love their gay and lesbian neighbors.” I find it rather telling that they’ve never called on anyone to love their neighbors who are called to lives of celibacy. No, that would be too . . . Catholic. Who does the SBC even have that’s even qualified to talk about celibacy at all? Nobody. They’re all married men. So what they say on this matter is as definitive as 50 shades of gray. “If they can live a celibate life?” Who is they? Poor Baptists. They can identify homosexuals, same sex partners, divorcees, transgenders, pedophiles, pornography addicts, people who don’t put money in the offering plates, etc. But they just can’t bring themselves to identify those pesky people who live “celibate lives under control.” No, that would shine just a little bit too much light on “pathetic marriage cultures within the church,” as the SBC ethics chief Russell Moore puts it. I’m sure this would be a shock to any of them, but I too take celibacy just as seriously as anybody does marriage, in a way that prompts the culture around me to ask why. As of today, nobody has asked me why. Interesting.

It’s interesting to see how the socialist mindset has spread from our government to the religious institutions. For anyone who knows history, the mere mention of church-sanctioned arranged marriages should be a social red flag. The world has already seen that socialism does not work and we don’t need a repeat of Hitler’s Nazi Germany. And I really don’t think God’s word should change based on surveys or hormonal rushes.

http://www.religionnews.com/2014/10/30/southern-baptists-change-tone-substance-homosexuality-commentary/

http://www.bpnews.net/43185/when-should-southern-baptists-get-married-thats-for-southern-baptists-to-decide

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/29/southern-baptist-convention-membership-decline_n_5411695.html

http://townhall.com/news/religion/2014/08/18/when-should-southern-baptists-get-married-thats-for-southern-baptists-to-decide-n1880219

http://www.russellmoore.com/2013/06/26/how-should-same-sex-marriage-change-the-churchs-witness/

Discerning Celibacy

two-choices

Who does God have picked out for you to marry? From what I’ve seen, that is the number one question young adult Christian singles are wrestling with. They are going to seminars, reading books, going to singles groups primarily to find that one person God has waiting for them. They set out to prepare their lives to be proper husbands and wives, to be ready for “the one”. “Oh God, bring him to me now!” But is that the proper question to ask when you finish school and begin your life away from parents? No it’s not. The first question should be: Are you going to serve God through a life of faithful marriage or faithful celibacy? And this can only be answered after you have accepted Christ as your savior. That is a huge idea to ponder because most of the advice being given to singles today – whether from the pulpit or the written word – is not from the Christian perspective. Is celibacy still a viable option in a society that worships sex? Of course it is.

Some people have trouble reconciling the “be fruitful and multiply” command in Genesis 2 with the “it is good for a man not to touch a woman” in 1 Corinthians 7. Christ’s arrival in the New Testament did in fact overturn the Mosaic Law of the Old Testament. The biggest change was the allowance for celibate life without children. The eunuchs, who were once despised and considered unclean, were redeemed with these simple words Gabriel said to Mary: “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God (Luke 1:35). Notice that Gabriel used the Old Testament title “the Most High” when referring to God. This is the same omnipotent creator of heaven and earth that we read about in Genesis. This is the same God who created Adam. This is the same God who said “be fruitful and multiply.” In this one verse, Luke 1:35, the greatest artist who ever lived dipped his brush into the paint of eternity and made a slight revision to his masterpiece. Since mankind had populated the earth and the people of Israel had enough soldiers in their army, he painted out “be fruitful and multiply” and replaced it with the option to marry or not to marry. He made sexual relationships optional. He replaced multiplying human children with multiplying spiritual children and making disciples of men. It’s also significant that Gabriel used the phrase “will overshadow you.” Overshadow is used throughout the Bible to represent the glory, presence, and protection of God. When the ark was completed, the glory cloud of the Lord covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle (Ex 40:34-35; Nm 9:18, 22). The word is also used in the stories of the transfiguration of Christ (Matthew 17:5, Mark 9:7, Luke 9:34) when a bright cloud overshadowed Peter, James, and John. The creative forces of God himself overshadowed Mary so that she was able to become pregnant without any sexual relationship.

Those same forces of the Most High are still at work today when people become eunuchs for the kingdom of God. The power of the Most High can still overshadow the need for a male and female to make a baby. Christ conquered not only death with his resurrection, but life itself with his virgin birth. The reality of eunuchs was foretold in Isaiah 56:3-5: “To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, who choose the things that please me and hold fast my covenant, I will give in my house and within my walls a monument and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off (Isaiah 56:3-5).”

In order to keep their name from being cut off, Jesus had to give his disciples a few hard lessons in the gospel of Matthew. In fact, the lessons may be more relevant today than they were during the first century.  After Jesus told them “I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adulteruy,” the disciples were incredulous.  “If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry (Matthew 19:8-10).” The situation they are referring to may be the seemingly impossible level of commitment it takes to make a faithful marriage. They were accustomed to having the option of divorce in case things didn’t work out. They were trying to trip Jesus up and get him to say something that violated Mosaic Law. By “it is better not to marry,” they probably meant “we know there’s nothing better than having sex, so we’ll just do what is assuredly impossible and live our lives without sex.” I can hear snickers in the background. Little did they know that Jesus was going to take it to a deeper level with his answer: “Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given.” Matthew 19:11.

My hypothesized version of Jesus’ answer in verse 11 is this: Yes, it is better not to marry in the long run and to accept the identity of a eunuch. It’s a straighter shot to eternity in heaven. But remaining faithfully unmarried is not something that everybody can do. So don’t kid yourselves. Remaining chaste your entire life is a special ability, just like all my father’s gifts. But only certain people are assigned to this one. Their DNA has been structured and their brain chemistry arranged in such a way that it makes something so impossible . . . possible. But they don’t just wake up one morning and exclaim to the world: “Wow, somebody gave me a bright and shiny gift of celibacy!” Some people have the makeup for marriage. Some people have the makeup for celibacy. You know, those sex hormones are very strong. My dad made them. It takes a miracle to overcome them. But sex is a very good thing. It takes a special grace not to give in to lust and other sexual immoralities people will face in their lifetimes. I know all about those desires because I overcame them myself. So yeah, there are people that have chosen to live without marriage and sex.  I know this is an issue of pride among you.  But there are people who have chosen to live like me and there will be until I return again. They look like everybody else. Their anatomy is intact. These men still have testicles and the women still have ovaries and reproductive systems. There are mysteries that you are not meant to understand. Accept them.

It’s interesting that Jesus used “only those” in verse 11, getting them geared up for something positive, and then going on to explain the three types of Eunuchs in Matthew 19:12. So they’re anticipating something extraordinarily wonderful.  But instead they heard this:  “For there are eunuchs who were born that way, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others—and there are those who choose to live like eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it.” I consider this to be one of the “shocker” verses of the Bible, one that is oft overlooked today. As he had done on several other occasions, like the parable of the three servants, Jesus used three people to tell his story. Fake, setup, left hook. Then knockout! Can you imagine what the disciples were thinking we he mentioned the word eunuch? “Whoa, dude! What’s so wonderful about that? Eunuch? Nobody mentioned anything about surgery!” The first type of eunuch described, those born that way, may have actually been a surprise for them. They didn’t have the medical laboratories and microscopes we take for granted today. They couldn’t do a sperm count and have the results back in 30 minutes. But I’m sure they caught his meaning with “made eunuchs by others.”  Yes, their imaginations may have conjured up a gruesome scene.  Much like the word does today.  After describing those two types of eunuchs, the disciples may have been thinking “what other type of eunuch could there possibly be?”  “Eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven” was the knockout punch. They were probably so dizzy they had to sit down. They had to absorb what he just said. Jesus just compared celibacy for the kingdom of God to a man who had castrated himself. Jesus Christ! He was telling them in no uncertain terms that a life without marriage required no sex and that the possibility of having sex outside marriage would be as remote as a eunuch fathering a child, if that was the life they chose. In essence, I think the concept of Christian chastity and self control is introduced in these verses.

I think it’s rather apropos that Christ came to earth as a eunuch, the lowest of the low among men on the totem pole. Jesus always had a heart for those among the low ranks of society such as prostitutes, those with diseases, the poor, etc. Some of the eunuchs who were made so by men were assigned to guard royal treasures. But most were defiled, used as sex slaves, and avoided in pubic like someone with leprosy. Christ even tells us in Matthew 20:16 that that’s the way it will be when he returns: “So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.” When we choose celibacy today, we are standing in solidarity with all the eunuchs who came before us – all the men and women who were born without the ability to have sexual relationships and children, all those who were made that way by men, and all those who have chosen this life for the kingdom of heaven. More importantly, we are standing in solidarity with Christ himself.

We have a lot of Pharisees and misguided disciples giving advice to singles today. Many are led to believe “if marriage is that hard, we’ll just stay single.” The truth is – marriage is that hard and celibacy is that hard. I encourage Christian singles today to think about their options before they rush into the dating scene. Don’t approach the choice with the legal-mindedness of the disciples in Matthew 19, looking for the easiest way out. The celibate life of a eunuch is just as doable today as it was for Christ and Apostle Paul in the first century. If you think “only those” could never mean you, think again. You don’t know unless you consider it, pray about it, and talk to people who have chosen the celibate life. Some are in religious vestments. Some are not. Take time to discern. That’s a wiser route than getting married and then finding out you should have stayed unmarried. This week I will celebrate 54 years of celibacy.

A few questions to ask yourself:
– Can you think about love beyond the sexual?
– Can you define your manhood or womanhood without sex? Without children?
– Can you be a father or mother to children who need one?
– What’s your concept of time? Eternity?
– Can you accept your own mortality?
– Can you envision eternity in heaven beyond the concept of “pearly gates”?
– Can you see just as much beauty in something in nature as you can somebody of the opposite sex?
– Do you see beauty where others do not see it?
– Can you express yourself artistically? Have you found your artistic personality?
– Do you find yourself rebelling against this world and its injustices?
– Do you feel like you do not fit in?
– Do you feel comfortable taking risks that nobody else would take?
– Can you see Jesus’ face in your mind’s eye?
– Can you have a personal conversation with him? A real one on one talk?
– What do you want your legacy to be? Children? Or something else?

Chastity, For The Sake Of Civilization

world-war-ii-aircraft-artwork-1041161-480x320

Everybody has heard the obvious reasons for saving sex until marriage – preventing unwanted pregnancies and STDs to . . . because the Bible says so. Some of these reasons involve a lot more than just the two people in the relationship or even their families. They affect our entire civilization. When you look at all of the consequences of premarital sexual activity, both the obvious and not so obvious, God’s commandments begin to make more sense.

One of those consequences is blackmail. For instance, a woman could threaten to tell the whole world about her relationship with a newly married husband if she didn’t get XYZ. Just when the guy thought his past had been forgiven and forgotten, real skeletons fall out of his closet. What can he do about that? Nothing much, except bite the bullet and tell everybody the truth. Why didn’t she just forget about him? It’s because mileage and distance between two people cannot separate a sexual bond and its concomitant dependencies. There is more truth than we realize in the Bible’s description of two people becoming one flesh. Sex realigns brain chemistries in such a way that certain dependencies become very natural. That is what God intended and is beautiful within marriage. For example, a newly wed couple may take turns preparing dinner every evening. Imagine what would happen if the new husband took dinner to an ex-lover one evening because she threatened to send him the bill for her abortion, a woman that just couldn’t get him off her mind. Even if it’s outside marriage, the bonding that occurs with sex is still a lot more than skin deep. Actually, it goes so deep we can’t see it all. Just because we don’t see it does not diminish its reality. In marriage, some dependencies are a good thing. But outside marriage and the safety of exclusive space, these good dependencies can turn into a nightmare worse than Fatal Attraction.

Blackmail doesn’t have to involve favors of a sexual nature, though. It could be anything that a person may gain by having a relationship with someone that they would not have gained if they had not had the relationship. For example, if a couple had the same employer, one of the wife’s past lovers could ask her to cheat on the company’s tax reports. If the tables were reversed, she could demand the husband promote her to a new job over other people who were more qualified. Sexually-based blackmail doesn’t require a married couple either. It can happen any time there is sex outside marriage. It can happen to couples who are dating or even a couple who got together for a one-night stand. Sex lends itself to blackmail for a number of reasons. It’s not something you can hold in your hand or quantify. You can’t describe its color, it’s size, it’s weight, or even what it looks like. Outside of prostitution, you can’t easily put a price on it. For example, what seemed like a meaningless one night affair for a woman could turn into a very meaningful opportunity to cash in when she learns the guy is the CEO of a fortune 500 company. As I’ve said before, in a very real sense, there is no such thing as premarital sex. When you have voluntary sex, you are married. Everybody has the choice of doing it God’s way as a beautiful part of his creation or the world’s way with a path of destruction and regret. Everybody has the choice of doing it in the safety of marriage where it is priceless or in the danger zone where it is objectified and marginalized.

Chastity also preserves our communication. It dignifies our humanness. Not only does sex create its own chemical bond between two people, it also creates its own exclusive language between them, spoken and unspoken. What felt good during those 30 minutes serves as a template for what is good and right during the remainder of their lives and interface with humanity. Their level of acceptance of each other and generosity is carried on down not only to their children, but to the next generation. The language established in marriage is affirming and forgiving. Outside marriage, it is crude and explicit. Even worse, it can be abusive and humiliating.

For two people who love each to have sex, they must be civilized and peaceful. They have to want the best for each other. There is no anger, no violence, no jealousy. How much closer can two people be? Cooperation is not an option. In a very real way, the number of people practicing chastity and waiting until marriage helps define what civility is for society. Can you think of any couples waging war in their bedrooms. Could that be a reason we have a world of wars and terrorism today?

Chastity also serves as a check and balance on greed. Even though this world is opposed to black and white, there is only one alternative to having had sex – having had no sex. To put it in modern language, there are the haves and have nots. If that sounds condemning, it’s a fact of life. Get over it. God designed it that way. What would be the value of sex if everybody had it? About as much value as a lock of hair? God gives us one alternative to marriage – celibacy. There are people who have chosen a spouse and this world to meet their needs. And there are people who have chosen God and the world hereafter to meet their needs. Chastity gives marriage its value and we cannot have faith in God without faith in the priceless things outside this world. It’s the backboard in the basketball game. Civilization depends on both of them. It all starts with the Bible. There’s no need to crash a plane to figure out how it is built when you have the owner’s manual in front of your nose. For the sake of civilization, read it.

And Then There Are Singles . . .

arnolfini-web

The Arnolfini Marriage by Jan van Eyck

Quotes from recent online sermons –

A Christian marriage is when a marriage union takes place between two Bible believing Christians.

This grace of Christian marriage is a fruit of Christ’s cross, the source of all Christian life.

The purpose of Christian marriage is to make men and women holy.

The Christian marriage is so ennobled and raised to such a level, that it appeared to the Apostle as a great sacrament, honorable in every way.

A Christian marriage is characterized and governed by Christian principles that are taught in the Bible.

Marriage is a real supernatural calling. A great sacrament, in Christ and in the Church.

Christian marriage is proclaimed as a sacred covenant reflecting the Baptismal Covenant.

Sex within Christian marriage is a shared self-giving between equals.

The aim of Christian marriage is eternal life in Heaven with Jesus Christ.

Living out a Christian marriage is a tremendous witness, a tremendous testimony to the power of God, particularly in today’s culture.

For one, a Christian marriage is a blessing and we ought to rejoice when we see the blessings of the Lord.

In this way Christian marriage is not only sacramental, but it also must reflect the permanence of Christ’s covenant.

Christian marriage is intended to be a sign of God’s presence and love in this fallen and broken world.

There is no more lovely, friendly or charming relationship, communion or company, that a good marriage.

Christian marriage is a symbol of the covenant that unites God and people.

Living out a Christian marriage is a tremendous witness, a tremendous testimony to the power of God, particularly in today’s culture.

The premise of Christian marriage is that two people are filled with the Holy Spirit and are committed to serving one another.

Therefore what a beautiful and godly thing Christian marriage is, a promise of lifelong fidelity and self-sacrifice.

Christian marriage is not only total commitment; it is also accepting commitment, learning to love and value the other for the imperfect person he or she is.

Christian marriage is a light to the world by reveling in the gift of being created male and female in the image of God.

In fact, a Christian marriage is the greatest picture on earth of the relationship between Jesus Christ and the Church.

Christian marriage is based upon a God-given faith, hope, and love, which only the true believer possesses.

Christian marriage is intended to point beyond itself, to make two people so secure in love that they can reach out to others.

Christ’s total commitment to us, to be with us in life and death, shows us the kind of total commitment upon which Christian marriage is to be founded.

For one, a Christian marriage is a blessing and we ought to rejoice when we see the blessings of the Lord.

Christian marriage is not rooted in “philo” love but in “agape” love.

Christian Marriage is the cornerstone for happiness in God’s family.

The heart of Christian marriage is to form a relationship bond in which “two are better than one.”

Christian marriage is God’s doing because it is God’s design.

Christian marriage is more about self- denial than self-fulfillment.

A Christian marriage is part of discipleship to Christ.

Christian marriage is a fruit of Christ’s cross, the source of all Christian life.

A Christian marriage is a lifelong building project that begins on the foundation of God’s Word.

And then there are singles. God says that’s okay too.

What Does Celibacy Renounce?

ethiopian-web

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

Click to access Z5248G.pdf

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

Click to access 9781451465655Introduction.pdf

Who Is That Single Man?

The Charism of Virginity in the 21st Century

511618_trava_reka_derevo_chelovek_kitajskaya_7000x3810_(www.GdeFon.ru)-web

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…

View original post 1,473 more words

Family Values And Celibate Values In Perspective

Two-Sides-Series2-640x479

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

Domestic-Violence-please-stop-it-45370-1-749x1024

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

Cinderella-Millais-L

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.