It’s About Scriptural Authority, not Sexual Liberty

bibleA few weeks ago, I responded to an article in our local newspaper that suggested that the loving thing to do is to embrace others who choose to pursue same-sex marriage. I thought it was going to be kept behind a pay-wall, but apparently, it is available online now. It’s entitled “Current debate not about sex, but following Scripture.” Here’s how it begins:

I don’t consider myself a person of faith. Maybe you can relate.

I grew up in the 1980s in a fairly typical home. When I was a kid, my parents didn’t read much of the Bible to me. And when they occasionally went to church, I slept in.

As I grew older, I thought my parents’ views on sex rather prudish: “Waiting to have sex until marriage. Ha! That was good for them, but not for me.”

As a teenager, I thought that a “committed relationship” was enough to rent a room on prom night. By high school, pornography had inflamed my lust.

As for homosexuality, I was too intoxicated with my own lusts to really care about that topic. In the mid-’90s, the mantra was “don’t ask, don’t tell.” I was happy to ignore the whole thing because I was living for me.

I didn’t care about politics—or preachers. I just wanted what I wanted, and cared little what people of faith had to say about sex.

Strangely enough, that all changed when Jesus Christ saved me from my empty hedonism.

You can read the rest of it at the Columbus Republic. And yes, I do explain my first line by the end.

Soli Deo Gloria, dss

Keeping In Step with the Spirit by Following in the Footsteps of J.R.R. Tolkien

ImageLast week, Albert Mohler republished one of his essays, “From Father to Son—J.R.R. Tolkien on Sex.” It deserves to be read by fathers and sons and everyone else. It is taken from Mohler’s book Desire and Deceit: The Real Cost of the New Sexual Toleranceand the essay is about J.R.R. Tolkien’s views on sex, captured in a host of letters to his three sons (see The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien).

Mohler’s article is well worth the read as it sets out the ways in which Christian Scripture informed Tolkien’s sexual ethic and the way that the architect of Middle Earth stood against the prevailing notions of sex half-a-century-ago. Here are some of the best lines from Tolkien’s letters, which Mohler included in his essay.

  • The dislocation of sex-instinct is one of the chief symptoms of the Fall.
  • The devil is endlessly ingenious, and sex is his favorite subject,
  • Monogamy (although it has long been fundamental to our inherited ideas) is for us men a piece of ‘revealed’ ethic, according to faith and not to the flesh.
  • Faithfulness in Christian marriage entails that: great mortification. For a Christian man there is no escape. Marriage may help to sanctify and direct to its proper object his sexual desires; its grace may help him in the struggle; but the struggle remains.
  • No man, however truly he loved his betrothed and bride as a young man, has lived faithful to her as a wife in mind and body without deliberate conscious exercise of the will, without self-denial.
  • Christian marriage is not a prohibition of sexual intercourse, but the correct way of sexual temperance–in fact probably the best way of getting the most satisfying sexual pleasure . . . .

As is evident, Tolkien conceived of sex in a way that is lost on inhabitants of the twenty-first century, and that is foreign to many Christians too. His perspective needs to be heard, and fatherly model of speaking candidly to his children about sex needs to be imitated too. Let me close with Mohler’s reflections:

From the vantage point of the 21st century, Tolkien will appear to many to be both out of step and out of tune with the sexual mores of our times. Tolkien would no doubt take this as a sincere, if unintended, compliment. He knew he was out of step, and he steadfastly refused to update his morality in order to pass the muster of the moderns.

When it comes to sex, may we keep in step with the Spirit, by following in the footsteps of someone who did not succumb to the spirit of the age.

Soli Deo Gloria, dss

Sermon Audio: The Great Exchange: How Jesus’ Life Trades Places with Our Death (John 11)


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Yesterday I finished my six-part series on God’s design for marriage and sex. Instead of finishing with an explicit word about sexuality, its dangers and delights, I spent our time considering God’s power to raise the dead and the devastated.

From John 11, we considered how Christ’s resurrection of Lazarus is a sign of his authority over the grave and a promise to all of us who trust in him, that he can raise us out of any miry pit, forgive us of any sin, and restore us from any deviation from God’s design. In short, Christ is the resurrection and the life, and all who look to him for the forgiveness of sins will find eternal life that does not begin at some unknown point in the future. Eternal begins with a true knowledge of Christ (John 17:3), that in turn empowers us to live a new kind of life today.

Here’s the audio for “The Great Exchange: How Jesus’ Life Trades Places with Our Death,” an exposition of John 11:1-53.


For the rest of the sermons in this series (‘God’s Design for Marriage and Sex’), go to Sermon Audio.

Soli Deo Gloria, dss

Sermon Audio: Deviation from God’s Design (Romans 1:16-32)

Because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

– Romans 1:25-27 –

After four weeks of considering God’s design for marriage, sex, and gender, I turned to the subject of homosexuality today—a subject that has and is dividing our nation, and one that Scripture addresses with candor and the message of grace.

In today’s message, I argue from Romans 1 that the great problem is not homosexuality but humanity. All who are born ‘in Adam’ are sexual sinners. Idolatry is the chief sin and as a result of this inward deviation, all men and women experience various kinds and degrees of illicit sexual desires.

I fear some Christians have been to quick to dismiss people who experience same sex attraction. Too much of the message has been, “Just change.” To support our cause, many Christians have cherry picked verses to contest homosexuals instead of sharing the full doctrine of humanity and sin, which tells us that all of us have us have sinned, and none of us have natural (read: true and righteous) sexual desires according to the flesh.

As Paul argues in Romans 1, humanity has exchanged the glory of God for the glory created things, therefore God has given the human race over to the lusts of their flesh. As Romans 3:23 concludes, “all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory.” This is the great problem. Man has suppressed the truth in unrighteousness, because their natural state is not good or righteous. Sexual deviation is the ‘natural’ result of a fallen human condition. Homosexuality—like pornography, fornication, adultery, and divorce—is but one outward expression of this deeper deviation.

I am still grappling with how to state these things, but I pray this message will help you avoid some traps and give you light to better understand what God has said about humanity’s fallen condition. As I state at the front, the message is directed at Christians, but it is also applicable to those non-Christians who are willing to hear how all of us have sinned and how God has provided salvation in Jesus Christ.

Deviation from God’s Design (Romans 1:16-32)


For the rest of the sermons in this series (‘God’s Design for Marriage and Sex’), go to Sermon Audio.

Soli Deo Gloria, dss

Noonday Light: Thoughts on Sex

marriage

Not a week goes by but what the news channels are filled with conversation and debate about sex. On top of the societal changes that swirl around us, legal changes are happening here and abroad. For instance, Germans now have the legal option of putting ‘other’ down as the gender of their ‘intersex’ baby. The Atlantic reports

A new law in Germany creates a third sex category on birth records. It could seem like an obvious solution to some problems of intersex: If some babies are born with bodies that are neither clearly male nor female, then it seems there should be some category beside “male” or “female.”

This is just one more example of why Christians need to have a deeply biblical understanding of sex, marriage, and gender. It is not enough anymore to believe in ‘traditional marriage’ or gender based on simple biology. In a fallen world, biology is not simple! We must have a deeply theological answer for why God’s image is only male and female, how the Fall can explain the phenomenon of intersex, and how gender is not a social construct but determined by the God who makes us in his image.

These examples are but the tip of the iceberg. To help us get a handle on some of these things, we need to take time to read, think, and study the Scriptures. To help you process some of these things, take a look at the following articles, audio, and video. They are reliable guides to help you walk in the light.

Christianity and Homosexuality: A Review of BooksTim Keller, in his October newsletter to his church reviewed and commended two important books on the subject of homosexuality. The first was Sam Allberry’s Is God Anti-Gayalso reviewed by CBMW. The second was Wesley Hill’s Washed and Waiting

Here We Stand: Midwestern Seminary & Same-Sex Marriage. Dr. Jason Allen, President of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, writes why he and his school will hold fast to the biblical view of marriage.

It’s About Scripture, Not Sex. Here are three quotations for Denny Burk’s What is the Meaning of Sex? that represent three divergent views in evangelicalism today. They expose that the divide between Christians who oppose same-sex marriage and those who support it has to do with biblical interpretation, not sexual preference. The latter is always downstream from the former.

What Does He Really Want? Aileen Challies (the wife of Tim Challies) kicks off a series of blogs on the subject of sex at CBMW’s women’s channel. She seeks to deconstruct some of wrong views of sex that Christian women bring into marriage.

Holiness and Sexual PurityDenny Burk preached a message on 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8 last week. Take forty minutes to hear his exposition.

Kids and Sex. Pure Hope Ministries reminds parents that is never too young to begin addressing ‘age-appropriate’ discussions about sex.

Parenting Booklet. PureHope Ministries also has a forty-page booklet for parents on how to address the subject of sex with their children. This booklet has an appendix with “age appropriate teaching points.” If you are not familiar with Pure Hope, you should be.

If you have specific questions on this subject, please drop a note in the comments. I’d be happy to put you in touch with appropriate resources.

Soli Deo Gloria, dss

Noonday Light: Resources on Marriage

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”
– Colossians 3:2 –

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Yesterday our church finished a six-week study on the book Sacred Marriage. Gary Thomas’s thoughtful book challenges married couples to see marriage as the premier way God sanctifies his children. First published in 2000, Zondervan has re-released the book along with a six-week study guide and video series. It’s been a great study, and I’d recommend it to any church, small group, or married couple that wants to grow their marriage.

Along those lines, here are a few more resources that may challenge you (David Prince’s article), protect you (Heath Lambert’s review), and inspire you (Ian and Larissa’s story).

An Evangelical War of Marriage? Pastor David Prince relates a concern he sees in evangelicalism—evangelicals who (unintentionally) oppose by God’s design for marriage by imbibing our culture’s desire for delayed engagements and animosity towards children. (Baptist Press)

A Book Review of Real MarriageHeath Lambert provides a review of last year’s book Real Marriage by Mark Driscoll. (The Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood)

The Story of Ian and Larissa. Here’s a powerful testimony of a young woman’s willingness to die to self in order to love her husband. It’s a powerful picture of God’s love for us. (Desiring God)

Here are a few more resources on marriage, I’ve collected and written over the last couple years.

Gender Specificity and the Gospel of Jesus Christ
Telling the Story: How Sex Tells the Gospel
Marriage: A Theological Helpmate
Vaughn Roberts on Marriage: The Goal and Glory of Marriage
Otto Piper on Marriage

Soli Deo Gloria, dss

Sermon Audio: God’s Design for Marriage and Sex

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother
and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

– Genesis 2:24 –

Do you not know that your body
is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you,
whom you have from God?
You are not your own,
for you were bought with a price.
So glorify God in your body.

– 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 –

From the intricate arrangements of the cell to the massive construction of stars in the Milky Way, the God who made the heavens and the earth and everything in them is—to put it plainly—a Designer.

On earth, God has made mankind in his image. Male and female he created the human race. And on the day when he fashioned the man from the ground and made woman from his side (see Genesis 2:4-25), God also designed the institution of marriage and gave to Adam and Eve the gift of sex so they could partner in covenant union, procreate children who bear God’s image and likeness. At the same time, God made sex pleasurable as a good gift to his married couples.

Tragically, when sin crippled the human race (Gen 3), men and women made to honor God with their sexuality began to abuse and misuse his gift. In just a few generations, Lamech had married two women and by Genesis 19, homosexual desires had overcome the men in Sodom and Gomorrah. Today, sex is manipulated and marketed with dizzying speed.

Christians need to learn how to think about these things and we must come to the Bible to get our bearings. These two messages, preached over the last two Sundays, are my attempt to help our church think about God’s designs for marriage and sex.

I pray they may help you understand what God’s word says about this blessed gift, and how the power of God’s gospel can help you walk in holiness.

Glorify God with Your Body (1 Corinthians 6:9-20)


 

God’s Design for Marriage (Genesis 2:24)


For the rest of the sermons in this series (‘God’s Design for Marriage and Sex’), go to Sermon Audio.

Soli Deo Gloria, dss

 

Evangelism in a Post-Marriage World (Sermon Audio)

Here is the sermon audio to yesterday’s sermon: “Evangelism in a Post-Marriage World.” This is the first in a series of messages on God’s Design for Marriage and Sexuality.  In three sections, it introduces the challenge of evangelism a post-modern and post-marriage age; it calls us to have new hearts and minds as we approach the subject of sexual sin; and it gives five ways we must change our approach to evangelism, in order to reach a culture infatuated with sex and ignorant of God’s good design for marriage and sexuality.

If you listen, let me know what you think.


Here is the handout: Evangelism in a Post-Marriage World

Soli Deo Gloria, dss

Defenders of Faith and Family: People You Need to Know

It has been four days since the Supreme Court struck down the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). This landmark decision will have implications for decades to come, and consequently, there has been no end to the legal analysis, cultural commentary, and prophetic predictions since Wednesday’s decision. This dialogue is exhausting, but also necessary.

Christians (pastors and parishioners) need to be informed and equipped to handle this judicial decision and the implication it will have on state laws and America’s public perception of those defending traditional marriage. One of the most alarming aspects of the court’s decision was Justice Kennedy’s language that essentially described opponents of same sex marriage as “enemies of the human race” (language used by Justice Scalia in his dissenting remarks).

Due to the centrality of marriage for gospel witness, not to mention societal stability, this fight for marriage is going to continue for sometime. It should.

In this heated conversation, its worth asking, “Who is a helpful voice? A voice advocating biblical wisdom, not just partisan politics?”  Since, not every voice is equally helpful, it might be helpful to know the names of a few defenders of traditional marriage that you can continue to listen to.  Maybe you already have your luminaries, but if not, let me commend a few to you. Continue reading