Extraterrestrial Celibacy

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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/

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Who Is That Single Man?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Virginity – Beyond The Mechanics

"The Revelations of Eve and Adam" by Kevin L. Miller (2004)

“The Revelations of Eve and Adam” by Kevin L. Miller (2004)

I think everyone who follows my blog would agree that we live in a world today where right has become wrong and wrong has become right. Nowhere is that more evident than in human sexuality. Homosexuality is glorified while virginity is vilified. Unnatural abominations are cheered while natural processes in God’s creation are ridiculed. Why is it that even Christian people can accept their bodies as part of creation, but see sex as something so dirty it’s unspeakable? It may be because we don’t understand how sex, and thus virginity, fit in with the bigger picture of creation. Why is waiting until marriage so important? Why is sex before marriage, biblically known as fornication, so detrimental to our development as mature adults?

First, we need to understand the mechanics of virginity. I know, that may sound like a contradiction in terms. But we’ve come so far from God’s original design that we need to step back to square one. One of the main things that is tripping us up is our language. Take for instance the word “waiting” itself. Does that sound like a positive term? It doesn’t to me. Did Adam and Eve feel a sense of waiting for each other in the Garden of Eden? I don’t think so. Did Eve wait until her princess started a pursuit before she gave him her cell phone number? No. Did Adam consider his age and how much longer he could hold out for sex before he asked her to marry him? No. Did he consult statistical charts to tell him what age he needed to get married? No. Did they set a date for a wedding and commit to wait until that time? No. When you strip off 21st century eros-driven culture and consider man as a part of God’s creation and “a little lower than angels,” our vocabulary in the area of human sexuality begins to sound like babble. Adam and Eve were married the moment they had sex. They did not go to the courthouse to sign a license and did not call a preacher to officiate a wedding. They did not have premarital sex. When they had sex, they were married. Isn’t that simple to understand? Have you ever wondered why there is only one brief mention of a marriage in the Bible recorded in John 2, where Jesus attended the marriage at Cana and turned the water into wine? It’s probably because the idea of a state sanctioned wedding and marriage with all the formalities was a foreign concept to them. Their understanding of a covenant marriage between a man and woman was a million miles from our understanding of secular marriage and a legal contract between two people in a “committed relationship.”

Back then it was pretty simple: After getting to know each other, a couple agreed to accept one another for life, announced it to their village, had sex the same day, and were joined (married) as one flesh for life. No formalities. No legal bureaucracy. No courthouse. No church building. No preacher. No candles. No vows. No rice. No honeymoon. As a matter of fact, the Catholic Church did not recognize marriage as a sacrament until 1215. It took them over a thousand years after the birth of Christ to formally declare its spiritual significance. That may have been because its significance was obvious. Protestants never even defined marriage and simply adopted it as a means to divorce. They left its control up to states, with preachers becoming “civil servants” and wedding ceremonies becoming part of the local economy. I find it ironic that many denominations today, including the Southern Baptists, include separation of church and state in their official “faith and message” statements. Yet, their preachers sign state contracts for weddings everyday. Church and state can’t get more bound than that.

What does all of this have to do with virginity? A lot. When you take away waiting, weddings, engagements, true love, romance, lawyers, preachers, civil servants, marriage licenses, wedding rings, and flowers, what’s left? God’s magnificent creation is left – A man and woman coming together as one flesh, in a holy union forever. Desire becomes something good, not something to be scared of. Trust becomes something earned over time, not something you miserably wait through. We can play gymnastics with the English language from now until eternity. We can conjure up all the “feel good” terms we want. Anybody want to “separate?” But in the end, we will not be able to change God’s natural laws or commandments.

Since God invented sex, he also invented virginity because it’s what works best for us. His commandments against fornication and sexual immorality are not stifling rules that we must follow. They are guidelines for our benefit. He made every neuron and axon in our brains, enabling our capacity for memories. He invented memories! Can you think (or dream) of a more permanent memory than first time sex? Breaking news – Two virgins are necessary for that to happen. That is not shaming anybody else. It’s not intentionally making anybody uncomfortable. It’s not calling anybody else dirty chewing gum. It’s a fact. Scientists are aware of the chemical bonding that occurs with oxytocin, dopamine, and other endorphins in our brains. Virginity maximizes that bonding and provides the greatest chance for marriage to last a lifetime, for both guys and girls, whether officially married or not. Those chemicals bind us to a spouse in marriage and to a prostitute in fornication (1 Corinthians 6:15). Can you see how glue or tape may have come to be used as an analogy? There are some biblical concepts that have no easy comparisons.

We have denied virginity its dignity, its sacredness, its spiritual dimensions – all in the name of physical pleasure, uncontrollable hormones, and “try it before you buy it” mentality. Virginity is viewed as nothing more than a new car sitting in the dealership lot, something to be sold to the highest bidder. It’s seen as the embodiment of naitivity, when in fact it’s the foundation of wisdom. We don’t just live in a “fallen” world. We live in a world where sex has devolved into mind-numbing, self-serving primal mechanics. We are at a point now where mankind doesn’t even trust himself. Indeed, single men are being banned from theme parks because those not carrying valid state marriage licenses are assumed to be pedophiles (http://nypost.com/2014/11/10/family-theme-park-bans-all-single-people-to-prevent-pedophilia/) and chastity is denigrated as being part of a “purity culture.” Yes, it is becoming increasingly difficult to think on those things that are true, things that are honest, things that are just, things that are pure, and things that are lovely. But it doesn’t matter what labels society puts on me. I know who my creator is and acknowledge that he knows more than I do about sex – because he made it.

The Woman At The Well – Revealed

"Samaritan Woman At The Well" by He Qi New Gallery

“Samaritan Woman At The Well” by He Qi New Gallery

The story of the woman at the well found in John 4:1-26 can be read here. I encourage you to read it: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+4. It’s one of the most misunderstood and misused stories in the Bible. The first thing to notice is the significance of the first three verses. Jesus is paying a visit to the Pharisees in Galilee to dispel a rumor that he was baptizing more people than John. Contrast what was heard with the facts – Not only was it not Jesus who was baptizing, it was not John either. It was all of his disciples. Pharisees customarily dealt in rumors. After all, they were lawyers. It’s interesting that Jesus chose not to bypass Samaria on his way to Galilee. Samaritans were about as strict as Pharisees when it came to adherence of the law. Jews traveling from Jerusalem often crossed the Jordan River just to avoid Samaria. The woman that Jesus encountered was at Jacob’s well in Sychar, a well that tapped into the Jordan River. All of these details were not coincidences. They serve to underscore Jesus’ bigger mission of bridging the rift between the Jews and Samarians and offering his life saving water to all people.

Understanding that the woman at the well had a Pharisaical disposition is critical in understanding the story. She is a follower of the law and has not accepted the reality of Christ. When Jesus asked her for a drink of water, she revealed her contempt for all Jews: “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” Don’t confuse this woman with the good Samaritan. She is far from good. Even after Jesus revealed who he was, she takes on the role of a Doubting Thomas. “Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob?” She’s got to see proof. She’s got to see the evidence. She’s a lawyer. Did Jesus give her the proof? You bet he did. He directed a beam of truth into her love life. “Go, call your husband and come back.” Marriage and family life were apparently so much the norm in those days that he could casually assume that she had a husband. At this point, Jesus is “playing dumb” in the dark so as to maximize the brightness of the light that is about to hit her.
Her response was “I have no husband.” Then he flipped on the switch – “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.” My interpretation of what Jesus said is this “You are right, legally speaking, because you haven’t produced a wedding spectacle or marriage license that would identify anybody as your husband. But your definition of husband is based on legality and the court system. It’s based on the world. My definition of husband is based on a sexual relationship where a man and woman are united and become one flesh. Nice try with those legal words. But your husbands do include every man you’ve ever had sex with. In your case, you’ve had five husbands and you didn’t marry the guy you’re sleeping with now.” Note that Jesus said “and the man you now have is not your husband.” On first glance, it seems this story could have been told without the five husbands. But the word “and” links her illicit sexual affairs with those five men to the affair she is currently having. That one word dispels any notion that they were husbands in honorable marriages. It may be a simple conjunctive connector and source of noise in the English language, but it is a dividing sword in the mouth of God. Notice also that Jesus used the possessive “man you have now” when describing her present lover. She has him because she is married to him. He has been her husband since their sexual rendezvous, regardless of whether or not they had a state sanctioned marriage. I also think Jesus placed emphasis on the present tense “now,” drawing a line to her present tense “have” no husband. I hear sarcasm in his tone and I think this is intentional.

I would estimate that over 90% of people who claim to be Christians today define marriage the same way as the woman at the well – a state sanctioned legal contract – instead of a one-flesh union between man and woman for life. We live in a culture that has taken the sex out of marriage, taken sex out of reproduction, and taken sex out of the sacred. These changes have not occurred overnight. They took a lot of political maneuvering and overcoming basic tenants of churchgoers in major denominations. Several denominations have key Pharisees, like the SBCs Russell Moore, who are working to change the meaning of marriage to suit a more “progressive” and left-leaning agenda – including support for divorce, adultery and a “third way” option of homosexual marriage. According to Moore: “Do they repent of this adultery by doing the same sinful action again, abandoning and divorcing one another? No. In most cases, the church recognizes that they should acknowledge their past sin and resolve to be faithful from now on to one another.” So the man in charge of ethics for the second largest denomination in North America (Baptist) would tell the Samaritan woman to go on back to her sinful relationship and keep on living with him. I’m sure he would tell the woman caught in adultery (John 8) the same thing.

For Pharisees like the Samaritan woman and Moore, appearances and legalities are what are important. He went even further and stated: “Still, we acknowledge that the category of a remarried person after divorce does not, on its face, indicate sin.” http://www.russellmoore.com/2014/09/24/is-divorce-equivalent-to-homosexuality/. My comments can be read at the end of his article. Instead of the woman at the well, Jesus would more than likely encountered the preacher at the pulpit today. Think of all the money (for the children) they would lose when people started leaving their churches. The ERLC would organize another seminar for convictional and redemptive, gospel butterbean centered tithing.

The Inconsistencies Of Southern Baptists

Published by The Alabama Baptist Newspaper March 2014.
By John Morgan

As President of the Southern Baptist’s Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission (ERLC), Russell Moore has been trying to straddle the fence on same sex marriage since he took office in May of 2013; reassuring his flock that the church opposes it, while telling the homosexual community that they will be loved with “convictional kindness.”  Moore, who had been the dean of the School of Theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY, took over the helm of their ethics commission after Richard Land’s tenure of 25 years.

Moore has complained about the disappearance of biblical language from our vocabulary:  “In the most recent issue of Touchstone magazine, I argue that the loss of the words “fornicate” and “fornication” implicitly cedes the moral imagination to the sexual revolutionaries because the words “fornication” and “premarital sex” aren’t interchangeable.”  However, in response to the issue of same sex marriage, he said:  “The increased attention to the question of marriage also gives us the opportunity to love our gay and lesbian neighbors as Jesus does.”  Merely using the unbiblical terms gay and lesbian made him the poster child for their internet blogs that week.  Not to mention the fact that in the Bible they are homosexuals and sodomites.  Not gays.  So the ERLC is uncomfortable using the unbiblical phrase “premarital sex.”  But on the other hand, perfectly comfortable using the unbiblical word “gay.”  The inconsistencies add up.

When a Christian photographer expressed his misgivings about photographing a same sex wedding, Moore agreed with him.  And he reassured the photographer that his “situation takes place at a moment of concerted cultural revisionism on the question of marriage as conjugal union.”  I didn’t know Baptist ethics changed with the culture and each passing moment.  However, he passed his blessings on to other unbiblical marriages (unequally yoked, divorced, etc)  because they they are not “obvious deviations.”  Even though Moore supported the photographer’s boycott of the same sex marriage, he did not support the boycott of Starbuck’s Coffee that ensued after their affirmation of same sex marriage. 

With so much freedom and acceptance, the ERLC is hosting a “sex summit” in April in which “breakout sessions will focus on how the gospel shapes a person’s identity, redeems sexual desire and sets free people held captive by sin.”  I’m not sure which version of the Bible they’re using now, but the gospel has nothing to do with redeeming sexual desire.   They probably need to worry a little less about the redemption of sexual desire and more about the redemption of mankind from his sins through the blood of Jesus Christ.  There is no easy way to the stars from the orbit of the world and moral relativism and acceptance.

breakout sessions will focus on how the gospel shapes a person’s sexual identity, redeems sexual desire and sets free people held captive by sin. – See more at: http://erlc.com/article/erlc-to-host-leadership-summit-on-the-gospel-and-human-sexuality-in-april#sthash.saVXDacU.dpuf
breakout sessions will focus on how the gospel shapes a person’s sexual identity, redeems sexual desire and sets free people held captive by sin. – See more at: http://erlc.com/article/erlc-to-host-leadership-summit-on-the-gospel-and-human-sexuality-in-april#sthash.saVXDacU.dpuf
breakout sessions will focus on how the gospel shapes a person’s sexual identity, redeems sexual desire and sets free people held captive by sin. – See more at: http://erlc.com/article/erlc-to-host-leadership-summit-on-the-gospel-and-human-sexuality-in-april#sthash.saVXDacU.dpuf
breakout sessions will focus on how the gospel shapes a person’s sexual identity, redeems sexual desire and sets free people held captive by sin. – See more at: http://erlc.com/article/erlc-to-host-leadership-summit-on-the-gospel-and-human-sexuality-in-april#sthash.saVXDacU.dpuf
breakout sessions will focus on how the gospel shapes a person’s sexual identity, redeems sexual desire and sets free people held captive by sin. – See more at: http://erlc.com/article/erlc-to-host-leadership-summit-on-the-gospel-and-human-sexuality-in-april#sthash.saVXDacU.dpuf
breakout sessions will focus on how the gospel shapes a person’s sexual identity, redeems sexual desire and sets free people held captive by sin. – See more at: http://erlc.com/article/erlc-to-host-leadership-summit-on-the-gospel-and-human-sexuality-in-april#sthash.saVXDacU.dpuf

http://www.russellmoore.com/2013/03/26/breaking-news-russell-moore-elected-next-erlc-president/

http://www.russellmoore.com/2013/01/03/premarital-sex/

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

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/02/23/conservative-christians-selectively-apply-biblical-teachings-in-the-same-sex-marriage-debate.html

http://www.russellmoore.com/2014/02/23/are-christians-hypocritical-on-weddings-and-conscience-protection/#more-15222

http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2009/10/is-it-wrong-that-i-dont-care-if-im-an-evangelical

http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2014/02/20/should-a-christian-photographer-work-at-a-same-sex-wedding-ceremony/

The Future Of Singles’ Virtue In A Married World

Joan of Arc-web

I was about 16 when I felt called to the single life. Through high school and college, I don’t remember reading or hearing anything about it, other than what I found in the Bible. Every once in a while, a church would have a class on the spiritual gifts. I remember getting the booklets and quickly going through them to find something on the gift of singleness. It was never there. I asked myself, “do they even recognize it as one of the spiritual gifts?” In my mind, I put that question on the back burner because I assumed it was so rare that nobody knew anything about it, and that I would eventually stumble upon the piles of books on the subject or find an expert who could give me advice. I never found them.

After 50+ years of celibacy, has anything changed? Not too much. Purity has culturally been assigned to teenage girls. Instead of no encouragement with regards to celibacy, now the church considers it a sin if you don’t marry and blames all the problems in the world on fornicating singles. It’s one of the most disturbing trends I’ve seen in my lifetime. Approximately 5-10 years ago when I first heard these mumblings, I thought they were just a few crazy theologians who had gone off the deep end with their idolization of marriage and sex. I remember Albert Mohler saying that “deliberate singleness on the part of those who know they have not been given the gift of celibacy is, at best, a neglect of a Christian responsibility (http://www.albertmohler.com/2004/08/20/looking-back-at-the-mystery-of-marriage-part-two/)”. Isn’t the gift of celibacy . . . deliberate singleness? That’s an interesting statement because the Baptist church has never offered any discernment in this regard.

But was Mohler a fluke? I’m afraid not. Since 2000, there have been a multitude of Protestant leaders who have criticized the gift of singleness while glorifying marriage and family. And sadly, the vast majority of Southern Baptist Churches have completely cancelled their singles ministries. In 2013, there is one 35+ singles ministry I’m aware of in the southeastern United States. There is not one Protestant pastor who is single. And many will tell you that the word “single” today even has negative connotations. According to Adam Stadtmiller in his recent Christianity Today article: “Being single, while accepted among those in their twenties, is often seen as something of a stigma after passing a certain “acceptable” age. In America that age is around 30 years old (http://www.christianitytoday.com/le/2012/summer/singlesministry.html).” One of the respondents was a singles leader in a church who even commented that “disbanding the singles’ ministry is one of the better things that we’ve done.”

James Dobson of course has been on the family bandwagon for years: “. . . a Christian man is obligated to lead his family to the best of his ability…. God apparently expects a man to be the ultimate decision maker in his family (http://www.abpnews.com/opinion/commentaries/item/8304-getting-marriage-wrong#.UesENqIo6M8).” Women writers have piled on, like Elisabeth Elliot: “Where are the holy men of God willing to shoulder the full responsibility of manhood, to take the risks and make the sacrifices of courting and winning a wife, marrying her and fathering children in obedience to the command to be fruitful (http://faithandsociety.wordpress.com/category/religiontheology/)? And David Platt, pastor of one of the largest SBC churches in Alabama made this recent comment: “Resist the ever present trend and temptation in our day to prolong adolescence and consequence, singleness into twenties and thirties. Grow up. Some of you stop playing videogames and get a date (http://blogs.christianpost.com/videos/pastors-matt-chandler-and-david-platt-challenge-single-men-to-get-married-16360/).” Imagine, a married preacher telling Apostle Paul to grow up and get a date. What a laugh.

Perhaps most troubling though is the SBC’s new Ethics Commission President Russell Moore’s recent call for all Christians to marry young: “I am not suggesting that we totally ban the language of “premarital sex” or “abstinence,” especially when we’re trying to explain a Christian ethic to the outside world using categories already in play. I am suggesting, though, that part of what it means to recover a Christian vision of sexuality is to recover a lexicon worthy of the gravity of human sexuality. We don’t simply wish to say, “Wait more patiently.” True love waits, yes, but, more importantly, true love mates.” So he not only dismisses the Baptist’s own abstinence campaign, True Love Waits, but calls on all young people to get married as soon as possible. Sadly, a true love for Christ is not even part of Baptist theology. Instead, he says the “root problem” is singles committing fornication. According to Moore: “With “premarital sex,” on the other hand, marriage seems to have fixed the problem. But the fornicator now married, unlike the repentant adulterer now caught, often doesn’t see the ongoing nature of his problem. He also believes that “adultery is in some ways easier to repent of.” So everybody in the world is either a “fornicator now married” or “adulterer now caught.” Wow. Have the theologians reached a new pessimistic low point? So what if a new lexicon worthy of the gravity of sexuality is written overnight? Is putting the sting back in these sins with appropriate biblical lingo going to solve our problems? I think not. While we’re changing the lexicon, let’s be consistent. The word “single” is not used in the Bible either to refer to a marital state. I wonder why Moore didn’t mention that pesky little word? As a matter of fact, only married, widowed, unmarried, and virgins are referred to in the Bible. I challenge all churches to cut to the chase and adopt these four categories of ministry. Shouldn’t that little update in the lexicon clear things up Mr. Moore? The church cannot explain ethics to the outside world while turning a blind eye to their own ethical problems. http://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=26-01-020-v

This focus on marriage and family and dismissal of virtuous singles will have devastating long term effects on Christianity. Some effects are not known yet. I predict pornography will be legal in all 50 states in 20 years. Others are obvious today. For example, when churches perceive all singles guilty of fornication, they dismiss the few who serve as reference points and mentors for the next generation; a generation that will view traditional marriage as a quaint notion while “committed relationships” will become the new moral benchmark. Taking singles out of the equation will have the same long term effect as putting a homosexual preacher in every pulpit. Expectations do guide a society’s moral standards and much does depend on the church’s ability to communicate to the outside world. But living witnesses are absolutely mandatory. We can be thankful for the stories of the saints, but they cannot communicate to young lost souls today. I know this is not the best analogy, but the church is sort of like a group of fishermen preparing for a big tournament. If they expect to catch no fish over 10 pounds, their tackle will reflect that with their choice of lines, reels, rods, bait, etc. They could probably go to their local Walmart and find their supplies. But what if there were a couple of 40 pound fish in the river? Would they even be aware of their presence? Probably not. They won’t go to Bass Pro Shop to spend a little more money on better tackle. Not only has the church today settled for less, but they have gone fishing in a shallow backyard swimming pool. The biggest fish the SBC expects to catch is “one million men to give up porn” while they “love their “gay and lesbian neighbors as Jesus does (http://www.russellmoore.com/2013/06/26/how-should-same-sex-marriage-change-the-churchs-witness/).” What message does that communicate to the outside world? Not only has the intelligence of our country been dumbed down, but its moral standards have been perverted downward. What effect does that have on society? We have made divorce easier, taken fornication and adultery for granted, dismissed single virtue, put porn in the church pew, killed at least 20% of the U.S. population through abortion, and turned a soft shoulder to gay marriage. The reversal of cultural trends can only be possible when there are standards for singleness as well as marriage.

The Supreme Court’s Flawed Reasoning On Same Sex Marriages

Julia had been studying hard for the upcoming final exams during her freshman year at Florida State.  She even sacrificed sleep and often didn’t have to eat.  It all paid off though when she received a 98 on the precalculus test.  However, there was one small plank in the cogwheel that Julia had not planned on – and that was Rhonda.  Instead of studying for the test, Rhonda took off to Panama City with a group of girlfriends.  She figured she could cram it all in the night before.  Besides, she didn’t have to miss sleep – and she certainly didn’t miss any meals.  Rhonda made a teary-eyed 56.  She was furious and complained bitterly to the math professor, saying that it was just not fair for her to feel uncomfortable and of less worth than Julia, saying that her dignity and status in the class were in jeopardy.  She also complained that it gave Julia an advantage over her when the GPA scores were tallied at the end of the semester and would give her an advantage when looking for jobs.  Such immature extremism is not uncommon in universities.  He agreed and decided to “scale” everybody’s grades.  So instead of Julia receiving a 98 on the test she now received a 76.  And instead of a 56, Rhonda received a 76. Oh how happy she was.  The professor reasoned that all of his students should feel they have equal intellectual abilities and not be made to feel uncomfortable because someone else is smarter.  He assured Rhonda that her dignity and status would not be compromised because of a low grade.

Does this socialist approach to test scores sound familiar?  It should if you’ve been following the recent decisions handed down by the United States Supreme Court.  In the words of Justice Kennedy:  “The State’s decision to give this class of persons the right to marry conferred upon them a dignity and status of immense import. But the Federal Government uses the state-defined class for the opposite purpose—to impose restrictions and disabilities.”  The right for gay people to marry automatically gives them dignity and status? Mr. Kennedy, what on earth are you thinking? Marriage automatically confers dignity and status? Has our marriage and family worship society gone that far? What if I found my German shepherd having sex with the chocolate lab down the street? Would that confer on them dignity and status of immense import? Would we need to pass a law to protect their personal freedoms? What restrictions and disabilities does DOMA place on the gay community?  Did the justices let money trump principle? I’m afraid so. The case involved the same sex marriage of Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer and their estate tax:  

“When Spyer died in 2009, she left her entire estate to Windsor. Windsor sought to claim the federal estate tax exemption for surviving spouses, but was barred from doing so by §3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which amended the Dictionary Act—a law providing rules of construction for over 1,000 federal laws and the whole realm of federal regulations—to define “marriage” and “spouse” as excluding same-sex partners. Windsor paid $363,053 in estate taxes and sought a refund, which the Internal Revenue Service denied.”  http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/12pdf/12-307_g2bh.pdf

You can substitute the characters in the above story with Windsor (Rhonda) complaining that if she was a man (Julia) she wouldn’t have to pay the $363,053.  Instead of grades being leveled out, it was money.  A married couple might have a dollar more than a gay couple.  So it boiled down to greed and envy. The least common denominator approach to social and ethical matters is incompatible with Christian principles.  Does America want to be a one size fits all cardboard box, a country that is indistinguishable from any other non-Christian country in the world? 

The rulings should be a wake up call for all Christians in the country, a time to reflect on the only two authentic Christian lifestyles – marriage and celibacy.  Protestant churches have traditionally been slow to respond to ethical dilemmas of the day.  The definition of marriage needs to be continually discussed – giving affirmation and encouragement to those who have faithful marriages.  And churches need to throw away the golden calves of marriage and family and give affirmation and encouragement to virtuous singles and those with the celibate gift. Instead of marriage and homosexuality, the choices need to be presented clearly as marriage and chaste celibacy.

We need not sugarcoat our words with comfort measures.  The Bible is very plain spoken on matters of homosexuality.  The Christian community doesn’t need to feel compelled to bring their standards down to the level of the court, down to the level of the least common denominator.  Those men will have their judgement.  Instead of responding to the recent court decisions with righteous indignation based on God’s word, the country’s religious leaders seem to have thrown up their hands in defeat and climbed aboard the rainbow train of gay pride. Russell Moore, the SBC’s ethics leader, called on all Southern Baptists to view this as an “opportunity to love our gay and lesbian neighbors as Jesus does” http://www.russellmoore.com/2013/06/26/how-should-same-sex-marriage-change-the-churchs-witness/). This is an opportunity to speak the truth. Instead of sugar-coating, Christians need to respond with the definitive double-edged sword of the spirit which states “the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor 6:9).” 

At the heart of the matter is misplaced priorities. Yes, as Justice Scalia said, the worship of marriage and family really has gone that far – “The Court’s errors on both points spring forth from the same diseased root: an exalted conception of the role of this institution in America.” America’s churches are largely responsible for this exalted conception of marriage. To keep their numbers and tithes up, they have bowed to the golden calf of marriage for so long that their eyes are blurred and they can’t see it. Just as the church took their eyes off the Bible and looked to the popular opinion of the masses, the Supreme Court took their eyes off the constitution and looked to their own flawed wisdom in striking down the Defense of Marriage Act.