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Christian education, Sexuality

The Sexual Revolution: a glaring gap in our kids’ education?

There is no series of historical events that have impacted every human being living in the West – and beyond – more than the Sexual Revolution. And yet, while many of us may be familiar with the term, few can explain what the Sexual Revolution really is and was.

Legal abortion; digital pornography everywhere; the LGBT movement; hookup culture; gender ideology; threats to religious freedom – all are either an aspect or a direct result of the Sexual Revolution. It has also shaped virtually everything that emanates from our screens, from popular TV sitcoms (which had a hand in mainstreaming revolutionary ideas) to mainstream Hollywood films, produced and directed by the revolution’s most powerful storytellers.

A sexualized West

We live, in short, in a culture that has been effectively conquered by a revolution we know very little about – because unlike the American or French Revolutions, our society was overthrown from within. As the Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard noted:

“A passionate tumultuous age will overthrow everything, pull everything down; but a revolutionary age which is, at the same time, reflective and passionless leaves everything standing but cunningly empties it of significance."

Those who brought about the Sexual Revolution did not attack government buildings – they initiated the “long march through the institutions,” eventually occupying powerful places of influence virtually everywhere.

When I arrived at university and lived on campus, I left a church community for what was, at first, a fundamentally foreign culture. For the most part, my peers had not consciously rejected the tenets of Christianity. Aside from traditional mentions of God at certain solemn occasions like Remembrance Day ceremonies, they had grown up in a world that was shaped, not by Christianity, but by the Sexual Revolution. So hookup culture was not simply uncontroversial, but standard. The idea that someone could actually oppose extramarital sex, or homosexuality, or pornography was for most of them simply weird. I had grown up shaped by the Christian community I was a part of; most of them had grown up in communities in which Christianity was a part of family history, a generation or two in the past.

Not treated like the pivotal event it was

At the Christian school I attended, I learned the history of the Bible; church history, and the great stories of the Reformation; the bloody history of the twentieth century, and of Canada’s great explorers and leaders of the past. Despite much insistence from some quarters that students do not learn about the injustice of the residential schools, I learned about those, too, as well as the history of a local Indigenous group (the Sto:lo).

But while we learned a little about the consequences of the Sexual Revolution – evils like abortion were covered in Bible class – we learned nothing about the Sexual Revolution as a historical event that had transformed and shaped the society we lived in, and that would impact nearly every aspect of our lives not only on campus, but beyond.

For many people, the study of history can seem tedious or useless. But if we wish to understand the cultural moment we find pressing in all around us, an understanding of the history of the Sexual Revolution is absolutely essential. The ideologies of the Sexual Revolution now form the basis of nearly every field of study in academia, and Christian university students often have no idea that what they are learning in education, law, psychology, or anthropology is actually based on the work of ideologues such as Margaret Mead or Dr. Alfred Kinsey. They will almost certainly hear arguments made against Christianity based on revolutionary research and junk science. To know the history of the Sexual Revolution is to have an invaluable context for what is taught in secular universities, and to possess a greater confidence in the Christian worldview.

Then the lightbulbs go off

Each summer at the Canadian Centre for Bio-Ethical Reform, I teach a course on the culture wars to dozens of university students and high schoolers. Every time, as I’m speaking, I see shock and realization spread across their faces as many of the things they have been taught click into place. “That makes so much sense!” they tell me. And when the summer ends and they head back to their places of learning, I get messages throughout the year:

“One of my fellow students is citing the Kinsey Reports to attack the Christian view of sexuality. Can you email me the titles of some of your sources?”

“Thank you so much for your course this summer. It helped me understand everything my prof was saying in my mandatory sexuality course!”

These students, armed with the historical and cultural context necessary to understand what they were being taught, were thus prepared to defend their own worldview. In academic institutions often openly hostile to Christian belief, this context provides an invaluable confidence.

3 resources to help us understand

As revolutionary ideas spread even into many religious institutions, this history becomes even more essential to understand. As George Orwell once noted: “The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.” Unfortunately, the Sexual Revolution is as much a part of American or Canadian history as World War II or the Cold War – and its daily, real-world impact is more keenly seen and felt.

I believe that for students to be forewarned and forearmed, they should be taught this history before they enter university. There are an increasing number of valuable resources available. For higher grades, Carl Trueman’s Strange New World: How Thinkers and Activists Redefined Identity and Sparked the Sexual Revolution is a valuable analysis of the intellectual forces that brought this revolution about; Gabriele Kuby’s The Global Sexual Revolution is an important worldwide view; I attempt to explain how our current society came about in my own 2016 book, The Culture War.

The material is, of course, difficult – but considering the state of our culture, I do not think age 16 is too young to begin preparing. Increasingly, people are not rejecting Christianity because they do not believe in the historicity of the Resurrection or because they find theism intellectually challenging. They are rejecting Christianity because they believe that biblical standards are cruel and that God is loveless. To understand that, we must understand the history of the Sexual Revolution.

Jonathon Van Maren blogs at TheBridgehead.ca.

Pro-life - Abortion, Sexuality

Abraham Lincoln, on abortion

How would Abraham Lincoln have addressed the biggest moral issue of our time? We don't have to wonder. While President Lincoln may not have spoken to abortion directly, he did still give us guidance on the issue. In the 1800s American slave trade supporters tried justifying the practice of slavery all sorts of ways. Lincoln was very good at tearing those justifications apart and the technique he used is one that transfers directly to the plight of the unborn. In one of his speeches he argued: If A can prove, however conclusively, that he may, of right, enslave B why may not B snatch the same argument, and prove equally, that he may enslave A? You say A is white and B is black. It is color, then; the lighter, having the right to enslave the darker? Take care. By this rule, you are to be slave to the first man you meet, with a fairer skin than your own. You do not mean color exactly? You mean the whites are intellectually the superiors of the blacks, and, therefore have the right to enslave them? Take care again. By this rule, you are to be slave to the first man you meet, with an intellect superior to your own. But, say you, it is a question of interest; and, if you can make it your interest, you have the right to enslave another. Very well. And if he can make it his interest, he has the right to enslave you. Biblical inspiration? Lincoln turned the slave trade supporters' justifications back on them, arguing that if it is good for you, then you shouldn’t object if this same logic is then used by someone else to justify enslaving you. If his strategy seems familiar, it's because it aligns perfectly with what Jesus says in Matthew 7:1-2: Judge not, that you be not judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. What Jesus issued as a warning Lincoln used as a tool. So how might this tool work in the abortion debate? We could begin by noting that if someone argues the unborn can be killed because they are smaller than us, then, as Lincoln might have put it, “Take care. By this rule you could be killed by the first man you meet who is bigger than you.” Or if it comes down to some ability, then watch out when you meet someone who is more able than you. Self-interest? This is a major justification for abortion: a child would interfere with our lifestyle. But, “take care again – by this rule you may be killed by any who can show it is in their self-interest for you to be dead.” Conclusion Lincoln lived more than 150 years ago, but we can still learn from him. Lincoln showed the standard of justice that slave owners were trying to apply was one they wouldn't want applied to themselves. That sort of hypocrisy still happens today, and not only to the unborn. We have only to think of Christian bakery owners or flower shop owners who are not allowed to work according to their conscience. And yet the world celebrates when a dress designer refuses, because of her own convictions, to dress the First Lady. Let's do as Lincoln did, and ask them to apply their own arguments to themselves. And then let's insist on an answer....

Movie Reviews, Sexuality, Watch for free

In His Image: Delighting in God's Plan for Gender and Sexuality

Documentary 2020 / 104 minutes Rating: 8/10 One of the most serious challenges that the Christian church is currently facing is in the area of gender and sexuality. When the church holds fast to the Biblical teaching that God created us male and female, that God is the one who defines our gender, and that marriage is a sacred, lifelong bond between one man and one woman, then we are placing ourselves distinctly outside of the mainstream of our society. What's more, the challenge to the Bible's teaching on gender and sexuality comes not only from outside of the church, but also from within. Because of the importance of this issue, it is essential that Christians be prepared. First of all, we must understand what God's Word teaches about sexuality and human relationships, in order to personally stand firm on that solid foundation and not be led astray by the latest cultural trends. Secondly, we must be prepared to lovingly stand up for that teaching, in the face of often virulent opposition. Finally, we must be ready to serve, help, and love those who are struggling in this area. In a world in which abuse and disorder have affected the lives of so many, the church needs to be ready and willing to serve as a beacon of hope, a place where the healing truth of the gospel can be found. The church is where that life-giving and hope-giving message must not only be proclaimed, but also lived out! A resource that can help In His Image: Delighting in God's Plan for Gender and Sexuality is a valuable resource for Christians who need to be equipped to understand and apply the truth of Scripture in their personal lives, in their relationships, and in their interaction with our culture. This documentary was released in 2020 by the American Family Association, and is available online as well as in a DVD set, for use as a group study resource. As a full length film, this is not a shallow treatment of the issues, and it would be a worthwhile resource for several weeks' worth of small group study and discussion. The documentary features a number of personal stories, including that of Walt Heyer, who lived for eight years as a woman before having his "sex change" reversed. A number of pastors and theologians also contributed to the film, including Kevin deYoung, Sean McDowell, and James R. White. It starts with the Bible In His Image begins with a discussion of that foundational Biblical teaching, that every human being is created in the image of God. Beginning with the creation of Adam and Eve in God's image, the documentary bases everything that follows on the teaching of Scripture, emphasizing the sufficiency and the authority of God's Word. From those very important starting points, the film goes on to address other means of addressing the issues. As Robert Gagnon, Professor of New Testament Theology at Houston Baptist University, emphasizes, we begin with Scripture, we make use of philosophical reasoning and scientific evidence, and finally, we turn to personal experience. Sadly, the tendency in our culture is for personal experience to take precedence over everything else. In His Image, while using a number of personal stories that really make an impact, gets things right by focusing first and foremost on the Word of God as the ultimate source of wisdom. I highly recommend In His Image as a very powerful and useful resource that will help to strengthen Christians in their commitment to God's Word in the face of ever-increasing pressure to conform our thinking with that of the world. The message of Scripture is proclaimed boldly and without compromise. But importantly, this is done in a way that emphasizes the Good News of Jesus Christ, and how we can show genuine love for our neighbour by proclaiming, and living, that truth. You can watch the trailer for In His Image below, and see the film for free at InHisImage.movie. Rev. Jim Witteveen blogs at CreationWithoutCompromise.com....

Sexuality

Christians and same-sex attraction

I am a Christian. I am still a sinner. We could add a whole host of other sentences to describe me, too, but these two would encapsulate the others, I think. For example, I am a Christian and sinful dad; I am a Christian and sinful husband; I am a Christian and sinful employee, etc. I am a Christian, by God’s grace; I am a sinner, in need of a Saviour. But if I have been redeemed, if I am Christ’s, why then does sin still cling to me? In the Heidelberg Catechism we confess we are “freed from the power of the devil” (Lord’s Day 13) and our old nature is dead and buried so that sin no longer reigns in us, (Lord’s Day 16). So why then am I still a sinner? Why do I still do the things that I do not want to do? There are two realities working in our lives at the same time (Lord’s Day 21): The reality that God, because of Christ’s satisfaction, will no more remember my sins nor my sinful nature against which I have to struggle all my life He will graciously grant me the righteousness of Christ that I may never come into condemnation This is true of all true Christians. We will struggle against our sinful nature all of our lives. There is no escaping it until we pass away. This, then, must also be true for those who struggle with same-sex attraction: being tempted to sin in this way belongs to our sinful nature and can be a lifelong struggle for many Christians. Mainstream Christianity’s poisonous response So if this struggle with sin has been a constant through all time, why is it now that the struggle with same-sex attraction has taken on a life of its own within Christendom? Isn’t it because it has taken on such a significant position in the world? Over the past 150 years, sexuality has become increasingly part of individual identity. So how is Christendom contending with this issue? How are we explaining to the world, God’s thoughts on our sexuality and our identity? As you might expect compromising churches are doing what compromising churches do. I will begin by outlining two of their responses. 1. Qchristian There are a number of so-called ministries teaching that Christians can fully embrace an LGBTQ lifestyle and remain faithful Christians. One such ministry is Qchristian, and in a confessional-type document they ask and answer a number of questions that give a summary of some of their main positions: Does God affirm LGBTQ+ identities and gender-expansive identities? Yes Does God affirm same-gender sexual relationships? Yes Who are members of our “Side A” community? LGBTQ+ Christians who affirm both LGBTQ+ identity and same-gender sex for various personal and/or theological reasons Who are members of our “Side B” community? LGBTQ+ Christians who affirm LGBTQ+ identity and who also are committed to refraining from same-gender sex for various personal and/or theological reasons. What is “Side X” or “Ex-Gay” theology? This is dangerous and disproven theology that alleges that LGBTQ+ identity can and/or should be changed by God. Q Christian counters this theology… These questions and answers help us understand some of the main issues at stake. The claims they make are quite outrageous. To begin, the insistence that God affirms any sexual identities other than male and female, is very difficult to align with Scripture. In fact, there is some evidence that in Christ the only real identifier we need to consider is that we belong to Him (Gal. 3:28). Either we are followers of Christ, or we are not. When we first learn about marriage, we are taught that a “man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Gen. 2:24). There is nothing in Scripture that changes this concept of marriage. Throughout Scripture, Israel is described as the Bride of God (Is. 54:5, Ez. 16:8-14, Jer. 31:32); the church as the Bride of Christ (John 3:29, 2 Cor. 1:2, Rev. 19:7-9). Male and female again and again. Familiar as we are with the ways Scriptures can be twisted, we can perhaps imagine how, through theological gymnastics, some would argue that God does not forbid same-sex physical relationships, which Matthew Vine does in his book God and the Gay Christian. But they are going even further here, insisting that God affirms these relationships, and it really is hard to fathom how, no matter how extensive the squinting or editing they might do to Scripture, they can find any examples of that. We are introduced here to the Side A and Side B groups that both affirm Christian sexual identity. Many orthodox Christians would not identify a Christian by his temptations, weaknesses, or sins but that is exactly what both Side A and Side BChristians do. The Side B Christians, however, would agree with us that the practice of same-sex physical relationships is forbidden by Scripture. Unfortunately, holding to the Side B position seems to lead to an eventual affirmation of Side A; at a conference in Chicago where these two sides were to meet together, Side A had over 1100 representatives while Side B only had about 46. Most of our readers would be considered “Side X” by the Qchristian community. Of course, our position is that temptation for same-sex physical relationships has similarities to the temptation for opposite-sex physical relationships. Single people who desire opposite-sex physical intimacy have the same calling to purity as those struggling with same-sex attraction. “God’s grace is sufficient” (2 Cor. 12:9) is not a band-aid solution to help our struggling brothers and sisters, but it is a promise from our faithful Father: despite our struggle, God’s grace is our sure confidence. So, even though we cannot be certain that sexual temptation and desires of any kind will be changed by God in this life, we can know that such sexual temptation does not define us. Our identity is not our sin; we belong to Christ!  2. Reformation Project Another organization is even more dangerous in its approach. Since Qchristian is “progressive” it may not have much direct impact or reach into conservative Christian churches. However, that cannot be said of the Reformation Project. This organization, led by Matthew Vines (mentioned earlier), seeks to reform evangelical, conservative churches. They suggest that their work is similar to the work of Luther and other Reformers. The irony is sharp. When one reads Vines’ book, quotations from John Calvin, C.S. Lewis, John Chrysostom, and others are sprinkled throughout. But Vines pulls threads through his book that do not tie together. As just one example, the chapter on celibacy is quite strong even as its application is quite wrong.  We would agree with Vines that celibacy is not commanded or even, generally, considered the better way, but we would vehemently disagree with him that such a conclusion opens the way for those struggling with same-sex attraction to participate in marriage. This approach to Scripture is very dangerous because it sounds so pious but is so blasphemous. The Reformation Project outlines a Brief Biblical Case for LGBTQ Inclusion. The 10 principles are examples of pious sounding dangerously blasphemous teaching. For the purposes of time and space I’ll share and respond only to the first of them. 1. Experience of sound Christian teaching should show good fruit, not bad fruit “By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them” – Matt. 7:16-20. Further on into their site they then list the fruit they think results from opposition to same-sex intimacy: ….Condemnation of same-sex relationship have created crushing burden of shame on countless LGBTQ Christians’ lives, fostering alienation from God, the church, and family. According to a landmark 2009 study, when families reject their LGBTQ children, their children are 8.4 times more likely to attempt suicide, 5.9 times more likely to have high levels of depression, and 3.4 times more likely to use illegal drugs than LGBTQ children who have supportive families.                 A 2018 study found that while religiosity helped to protect against suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts among heterosexual youth, it was associated with significantly higher rates of suicidal thought and suicide attempts among gay, lesbian, and questioning youth. Suicide rates are highest among transgender people; 41% of transgender adults in the Unites States have attempted suicide in their lifetime, compared to only 1.6% of the overall population. Do we see the logic used? They quote Matt. 7:16-20, but it is when we add verse 15 that the irony becomes all the more clear: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” Matthew Vines dresses in sheep’s clothing, imitating the bleating of sheep, but serves as a ravenous wolf. He wants to serve as a shepherd to Christians struggling with sexual identity, but true sheep know the voice of the Good Shepherd, and His voice is not being echoed by Vines. When we read the above description and statistics we can see how The Reformation Project determines good fruit and bad fruit – if we do not affirm the sexual identity and orientation of Christians in their struggles the fruit is bad, that is, greater rates of suicide and self-harm. If we do affirm them, the fruit is better with far fewer episodes of attempted suicide and self-harm. Of course, logically if we affirm any sin, the sinner may feel better about him/herself… but then they would never echo the words of King David in Psalms 32: “For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.” As long as the sinner does not acknowledge his sinfulness but rather delights in it, and has others delight in it, too, there will be no repentance. The Reformation Project perverts Scripture to permit LGBTQ lifestyles which God hates. It is so similar to the temptation of the devil in the Garden of Eden; Vines and his supporters are asking Christians, “Did God really say…” and suggesting that faithful churches have had it completely wrong from the beginning. The Reformation Project and QChristian are providing false compassion and comfort to brothers and sisters struggling with same-sex attraction. There has to be a better biblical way. A better way The church of Christ is filled with sinning saints. Every day each one of us needs the Holy Spirit’s powerful work of sanctification in our life because apart from the redeeming work of Christ and the powerful work of the Spirit, we would all be dead in our sins. This is true for those of us who are struggling with pornography, greed, covetousness, same-sex attraction, gambling, excessive drinking, or whatever it might be. At the same time, we recognize that society’s insistence on identifying us by our sexual desires has taken root and developed fruit in the secular world and that makes sexual sins and temptations all the more challenging. The powerful sexual urges that well up in a person as they are growing up will no doubt be of considerable struggle for those with same-sex attraction, as it is for others. Nevertheless, just as single Christians who experience opposite-sex attraction must remain pure and abide by the word of God, so also those who struggle with same-sex physical attraction must resist the temptation. Nevertheless, having no hope to fulfill those urges can remain a true and real disappointment and loss for those with same-sex attraction. Therefore, the church also needs to be gracious and compassionate with each other, as members of the Body of Christ. We need to be living out Philippians 2:3, “Do nothing from selfish ambition, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” Christians have no stones to throw at others who are struggling to resist sin and temptations. We have no stones to throw at those who have fallen into temptation and repented from their sin. We need to help each other, trust each other, be vulnerable with each other, etc. We are so fearful of one another’s judgements that many of us do not “confess your sins to another and pray for one another…” (James 5:16). We do not trust others because of harmful ways that many in our churches speak about being gay, about homosexuality, and about gender dysphoria. We need to ensure that our criticism and critique of sinful lifestyles is seasoned with salt, garnered in grace. We can offer friendship to those struggling with same-sex attraction, offering to pray with them, visit with them, and letting them experience the blessing of belonging to the communion of saints despite their temptations. Christians struggling with same-sex attraction ought not to be identified as gay or homosexual but as a brothers and sisters in Christ. The command to love God and our neighbour are the two greatest commandments given to us by Christ. Let us strive to do this with humility and love to the benefit of all those who belong to our Lord, who are members are His Bride, the Church....

Adult non-fiction, Book Reviews, Sexuality

Song of Songs: The Greatest Love Song

by Matthew H. VanLuik 210 pages / 2015 Way back in 1979, Victor Kiam coined a phrase in a Remington electric razor commercial: "I liked the shaver so much, I bought the company." This little quip came to mind when I decided to review Rev. VanLuik's commentary on the Song of Solomon. Here's my version: "I liked the book so much, I recommended it for my high school classroom." These will become textbooks in our Wisdom Literature course for either Grade 11 or 12, which means that every student in the high school would eventually use them… and, I am certain, benefit from them. What benefit will they receive? One of the greatest challenges today for both adolescents and adults in Christ’s kingdom is the world’s idolatrous focus on sex. As much as we need to tear down this idol, it’s just as important to work on the positive side of the issue – learning the responsibilities and rewards of Biblically guided intimacy. That is the goal of this book, a strongly Biblical, Christ-centered view of the Song of Songs that shows the ups and downs of love and marriage, both the day-to-day necessity to give of ourselves and the beauty of indeed being and becoming one flesh. The 16 chapters of this book take us from the couple’s initial attraction, through struggling with desire, through their wedding day and night, to marital conflict and reconciliation. At each stage, VanLuik also repeatedly demonstrates that one cannot have a truly fulfilling marriage without a living love for Christ, and stresses what is even more important, how the relationship portrayed in the Song parallels how the perfect love of Christ for His bride calls for His people’s passionate response (whether single or married). Of course, it is not only teens who could benefit from a clear Biblical view of sexuality courtship, love, and marriage. That means this is a great resource for parents, teachers, and preachers, and everyone who doesn't want to simply skip over the Song, but actually want to confront the foolishness of our sex-obsessed culture with the wisdom of God. Americans can find the print copy at Christianbooks.com and the Kindle version here. Canadians can find it on Amazon.ca here, or can order directly from the author via his email: [email protected]

Sexuality

Solomon on smartphones and the pull of pornography

The book of Proverbs is a book about two ways to live, the paths of wisdom and folly. The way of wisdom is the way of the righteous, the way of blessing, and the way of life. The way of folly is the way of the fool, the way of curse, and ultimately the way of death. Along each path sits a guide who calls out to pilgrims on the road, urging them to join their path. They are both women and they both address the simple. They both sound enticing and they both promise great things. But only one delivers on her promises. And the result of embracing the wrong woman is death. The issue that I want to explore in this article is adultery, especially for young, unmarried, modern, tech-savvy Christians. The issue of adultery has always been about embracing the wrong woman, and so it is easy to see why Solomon would spend so much time addressing his son on this topic at the beginning of Proverbs. Adultery is still a real and present danger. It comes in a slightly different package than it would have in Solomon’s day, but the Adulteress is still alive and well, and I would be so bold as to say that many of the young, unmarried, modern, tech-savvy Christians know her well. In the days of Solomon, people walked on paths a lot. People walked a lot, period. Since they didn’t have cars, their roads were a lot different than the roads we have today. So if adultery is a path, what does it look like today? Should we expect that it looks like a dusty, uneven, meandering footpath? Probably not. Today we travel on concrete and asphalt. We travel fast and we travel often. And we have a path that is taking over more and more of our lives. It used to be called, “the information superhighway.” You might call it the superhighway to death, because that is where it is currently taking a lot of people. The path of adultery for many young, modern, tech-savvy Christians is the Internet. And the woman along that path who is calling your name, looking for youths who lack judgment, leading the way to death, is Internet pornography. Proverbs 7 is where Solomon speaks most extensively about the person of the adulteress. His words are strikingly fitting our modern epidemic of internet pornography. The youth who lacks judgment Solomon communicates the dangers of adultery to his son by telling him a parable. This is how it begins. At the window of my house I looked out through the lattice. I saw among the simple, I noticed among the young men, a youth who lacked judgment. He was going down the street near her corner, walking along in the direction of her house at twilight, as the day was fading, as the dark of night set in. – Proverbs 7:6–9 (NIV84) The main character of this parable is the youth who lacks judgment. Perhaps you know someone like this. The thing about this youth who lacks judgment is that you can pick him out in a crowd. Solomon says that he looked out his window and he saw him immediately. He could just tell that this guy was in for some trouble. For Solomon this is just an observation, but for someone with evil intentions, this guy is easy prey. He is the weak and slow antelope that gets picked out, pounced upon, and devoured by the lion. Notice that this young man walks into his trap: “He was going down the street near her corner, walking along in the direction of her house.” Path, anyone? What does this look like today? Today the youth who lacks judgment can probably not be observed by looking out your window onto the street. A modern youth who lacks judgment sequesters himself indoors, finds himself or herself on their phone late at night after everyone has gone to bed, or has a computer in their room. There was a time when having a computer or phone in your room was relatively safe – that time is long gone. Now the youth without judgment is the 16-year-old with a smartphone, or tablet, or whatever other personal pleasure machine they have in their pocket that allows them to be polluted with porn whenever they please. Where does the problem start with this young man? It is not with his parents, as Solomon doesn’t mention them. Neither is it his friends, for he leaves their company. His problem is not his environment or even the adulteress herself. This young man’s problem is himself. He lacks judgment; he heads down the path of foolishness, and straight into the trap. His adultery problem is a problem of the heart. This remains the biggest issue for users of pornography today. The problem with porn is not porn. It is us. It is men and women who use it. In an interview for CovenantEyes.com, Rick Thomas was asked why kids get into porn today. What do you suppose was his answer? They have raging hormones? The porn is so good? His answer is none of the above. Rather, the reason guys get into porn is that they lack judgment: They are lazy – they spend too much time doing nothing. They are disobedient – they don’t listen to their parents and others’ warnings. They lie – they lie to others about what they are doing and to themselves about the nature and effect of pornography. They are self-righteous – they suppose that porn is their right, and that those images are offered for their viewing pleasure. They are self-centered – they have sexual desires, so why not fulfill them? And they are ignorant – they don’t realize the danger they are getting themselves into with internet porn. As you will be able to deduce from this list, porn is not only attractive to teens. Laziness, disobedience, self-righteousness, self-centredness, and ignorance are no respecters of age. Do you know what the problem is with Internet porn? It is you and me. This is why when Paul addresses the Thessalonians about sexual immorality (1 Thess 4:3-8), he doesn’t say, “You need to leave that sinful city!” or “You need to have accountability groups!” or “You need to campaign against temple prostitution!” or anything like that. What he says is that you need to be sanctified. You need the Holy Spirit to change your heart. The problem is with our hearts. Our own hearts are what lead us to sin, as Jesus taught when he said: “For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person” (Mark 7:21) Commenting on this passage, Mark Driscoll wrote, “Sexual sins are not 'out there' in the media, strip clubs, a gal with low-rise jeans and high-rise thong. Truly the problem is 'in you.' It is from the sinfulness of your heart that lust and sin proceed like sewage from a culvert. This is the painful, unvarnished truth.” The Adulteress The next character in Solomon’s parable is the inevitable destination of this judgment-lacking youth, the adulteress. Then out came a woman to meet him, dressed like a prostitute and with crafty intent. (She is loud and defiant, her feet never stay at home; now in the street, now in the squares, at every corner she lurks.) She took hold of him and kissed him and with a brazen face she said: “I have fellowship offerings at home; today I fulfilled my vows. So I came out to meet you; I looked for you and have found you! I have covered my bed with colored linens from Egypt. I have perfumed my bed with myrrh, aloes and cinnamon. Come, let’s drink deep of love till morning; let’s enjoy ourselves with love! My husband is not at home; he has gone on a long journey. He took his purse filled with money and will not be home till full moon.” – Proverbs 7:10–20 (NIV84) Within his description of this shady lady, Solomon highlights four characteristics of the adulteress: She is devious – She moves, according to verse 10, with  “crafty intent.” She is restless – As verse 11 tells us, “her feet never stay at home.” She is brazen – She flaunts her sexuality and availability, as in verse 13: “She took hold of him and kissed him and with a brazen face she said: I have fellowship offerings at home; today I fulfilled my vows, so I came out to meet you.” She is one-dimensional – This woman is about one thing, and she makes that clear.  She is completely sexualized. She communicates nothing else. She tells the young man about her sacrifices because in Canaanite worship, sacrifices were to be accompanied by sex (vs. 14). She gives a lengthy description of her bed (vs. 16), but not because she thinks this guy looks tired. She propositions him with love (vs. 18), but she really means sex. Do these characteristics not represent very well the ways and means of Internet porn, the adulteress of our time? Pornography is devious. Porn promises sexual fulfillment, an outlet for lust and sexual desires. It invites you to enter into its dream world of fantasy and fulfillment. It calls out for those who lack judgment to come along and step into its trap. Pornography is restless. The porn industry is a multibillion-dollar industry, even though 80-90% of porn that is consumed on the Internet is available for free. So pornography is a multibillion-dollar industry and only 10-20% of those who use it are paying. How much porn is out there? Pornography is brazen. It flaunts its stuff. It finds a way to get to you through advertisements, spam, popups, hyperlinks, etc. It invites you to come, to taste, and to see for yourself. We need to realize that the people who promote pornography are master marketers – they know how to get you in, and they know how to keep you in. Pornography is completely one-dimensional. Pornography promises one thing: the fulfillment of your sexual desires. Porn tells you that there is one thing that matters to you right now and it has everything that you need to meet that desire. Isn’t this what that woman (or that man) on the screen is telling you: “Come, let’s drink deep of love till morning; let’s enjoy ourselves with love” (vs. 18)? Click, click, click. And you are lost in a dream world of fantasy, gratification, and self-centered sexual fulfillment. The Path to Death Internet pornography, however, is a classic case of bait and switch. You go in looking for one thing, but come away with something completely different. Solomon explains the process as he continues. With persuasive words she led him astray; she seduced him with her smooth talk. All at once he followed her like an ox going to the slaughter, like a deer stepping into a noose till an arrow pierces his liver, like a bird darting into a snare, little knowing it will cost him his life. – Proverbs 7:21–23 (NIV84) With the adulteress, you start in a dream world, but very quickly you find yourself in a nightmare. Notice the progression that verses 21-23 describe: first you are lead astray, then you are trapped, and then slowly, unknowingly even, you head to your death. You don’t die right away. You only start dying. But just like a deer in a noose, your doom is certainly coming. This is precisely what happens with pornography. You get into it because you have a desire to fulfill or a fantasy to explore, but very quickly it starts to unravel and destroy you. The negative effects of pornography use on especially the male mind are well documented. Here are just a few. Pornography use contributes to social and psychological problems. Studies show a correlation between increased use of porn and increased neglect of work, social isolation, and even depression. It rewires the brain. Just like a path in the woods is formed by frequent use, so are the neural pathways in the brain. Frequent use of porn changes the footpaths in that part of the brain that is used in relating to women, and so it becomes more and more difficult to relate with them in a God-glorifying, pure, and loving manner. It feeds selfishness, because it is profoundly selfish. It leads to premarital sex or, more frequently, masturbation. In both cases the result of pornography use is not sex as God intended it, namely between a male and a female in the relationally safe and secure confines of marriage. It leads men to demean and objectify women. When you turn women on a page or a screen into sexual objects, very quickly the women in your life will become no more than sexual objects. It distorts the beauty of the God-made female body. Tragically, some Christian males suppose that pornography is good because it highlights the beauty of the female body which was, after all, created by God. But porn in no way represents the beautiful diversity with which God has created females, nor does it seek to promote this beauty to God’s glory, nor does it reckon with the fact that God himself provided clothing for the man and woman after the fall into sin. It distorts reality, especially in the context of marriage. Think about the effects of porn use for a man engaged to be married. Porn feeds supersized expectations about sex and diminished emotions about women. Can you spell disaster? Many guys say that they hope that marriage will fix their pornography problem. Marriage is not a fix for a pornography problem; repentance and faith in Jesus Christ is. What porn will do for your marriage is destroy it. It makes gender and sexuality one-dimensional. Both women and men are far more than merely sexual objects, but porn promotes this popular idea that women are for giving sexual fulfillment and men are for taking it. Please don’t buy that perverse distortion of God-created gender. And sex itself is about far more than simply a fulfillment of your physical desires – it is a deeply emotional, mental, physical, and even a spiritual activity, one that is to be enjoyed. The above only begin to scratch the surface of the negative effects of porn. Porn kills. Perhaps you have heard of the infamous serial killer Ted Bundy. Ted Bundy was executed in the electric chair in 1989, after he confessed to killing 30 young women whom he had kidnapped, raped, and killed, and sometimes raped again after they were dead. On the day before he walked the last mile, Ted Bundy was interviewed by James Dobson and he had one message that he wanted to communicate to the world. The single most significant factor in his sexual crimes, in his opinion, was his habitual viewing of pornography. Not convinced that porn kills? What about the other partner in that selfish embrace, the woman on the screen? Where does she come from? What is her life like? What does she gain from being on your screen? The reality is that for so many of these girls – yes, many are girls – life is no life at all. It is death. Pornography is directly tied with the global sex trade, where women and girls are kidnapped or promised a great modeling career, only to be reduced to sex slaves, gang-raped, hooked on drugs, and held under the thumbs of their abusive pimps and managers. There may be a few stories of a "working girl" who works a regular job, has a family, and does X-rated films for some extra money. But for each one of these, there are certainly hundreds of stories of lives that are utterly destroyed by the industry that feeds youths who lack judgment, staring at their computer screen in the middle of the night. Adultery is death. Internet pornography is an ongoing massacre. The Call But Solomon, and the Spirit of God working through him, does not desire that we should take this road, and so his message is clear: get off that path and on to the right one! The difference is life and death. Now then, my sons, listen to me; pay attention to what I say. Do not let your heart turn to her ways or stray into her paths. Many are the victims she has brought down; her slain are a mighty throng. Her house is a highway to the grave, leading down to the chambers of death. – Proverbs 7:24–27 (NIV84) Step One: Repent What do we do against the depravity of our heart and the wiles of pornography? Solomon says, “Now then, my sons, listen to me; pay attention to what I say” urging us to hear his voice, and turn from adultery. I mentioned all the relationships that porn destroys, but I didn’t mention yet the most important one, the one that we have with Jesus Christ, and through Jesus Christ, with our Heavenly Father. Losing or ruining our relationships with women, with friends, with family might be painful and tragic for us, but ruining or losing our relationship with Jesus Christ is absolutely devastating. In 1 Corinthians 5, when urging the Corinthians to avoid sexual immorality, Paul says, “Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never!” You cannot be united both to Christ and to the adulteress. You must leave one to pursue the other. You cannot be on the path of folly and of wisdom – you must leave one and follow the other. To lose that relationship, that unity, with Jesus Christ would be devastating. Why? Because you have so much to lose. Only in Christ are you God’s child, justified, sanctified, glorified, redeemed from sin, saved from judgment, renewed in love, protected from Satan, a temple of the Holy Spirit, and God’s workmanship, created for good works. Are you ready to give that up? If you are currently pursuing pornography but want to remain in Christ, what do you do? Repent. Repent from your sins. Turn from your temptations. Reject those lustful desires and repent. We must recognize sin for what it is and follow the course of action that God lays out for us. We cannot tread the path of adultery and the path of discipleship at the same time. To get off the path of adultery recognize the sin, confess it the Lord, seek forgiveness through the blood of Jesus Christ, and ask God to renew your desires. Step Two: Get Wisdom The next step brings us to the first verses of chapter seven. Everything that Solomon writes about adultery is in the context of this greater command: Get wisdom. “Say to wisdom, ‘You are my sister’ and call understanding your kinsman; they will keep you from the adulteress, from the wayward wife with her seductive words” (vs. 4-5). To overcome sin you don’t need to just turn from sin, you need to cast yourself, your whole self, heart, soul, mind, upon God. Yes, you need a new heart; but you also need to live a new life. This too is the work of Jesus Christ, the way of wisdom, and the path of life. Solomon does not outline all the ways that this can be done, but here are a few route markers on the path of wisdom: 1. Listen. First of all, listen to God’s Word. Wisdom speaks the Word of God. The Word of God is the Bible. The Word of God is preached to you every Sunday. Through the Word of God you gain access to wisdom, and through wisdom, you come face to face with Jesus Christ, the author and perfecter of your faith. God’s Word is where you will expose the deceitfulness of sin, where you discover the atonement through Christ’s sacrifice, and where you learn to live a new life of love. Second, listen to those who have learned this lesson already. Sin, and especially sexual sin, with its accompanying isolation, loneliness, and shame makes you feel like you are the only one who has struggled with the sin and that no one else would understand what you are going through. It can be liberating just to hear accounts of how other men and women have fought this battle. You are not alone in your struggle against sin. Hear the supportive voices of others who offer their help in the name of the Lord. 2. Talk about it Satan feeds off of embarrassment and shame. Darkness creates secrecy, shame, lies, and embarrassment. But the light brings them into the open. Bringing your sins into the light with trusted friends, elders, pastors, and parents allows the light to begin to work on it. You don’t need fight this battle alone. Talk to your friends. My good, godly friends were indispensable in helping to deal with my struggles with sexual sins. Being a good, godly friend to others allowed me the privilege of praying for and helping them when they were struggling. For about four years I would meet with two or three close friends for accountability sessions every 3 or 4 weeks on a Saturday morning over breakfast. As we all broke from the grip sexual temptations we all joined in the powerful grip of godly friendship. 3. Inform yourself. The best way to expose the lies of the seductress is to know the truth. Again, immerse yourself in God’s word every day. I recently heard a well-informed pastor say that he has never heard of a pastor who fell into deep sin who had a regular, daily time with God in Bible reading and prayer. Some might cast this off as a pietistic approach, and certainly, the Christian’s strength does not come from a mere devotional exercise. And yet it hard to imagine engaging in regular, daily, significant pornography use alongside regular, daily, significant devotion time. In addition to God’s Word, get good, godly information on sex, sexuality, lust and pornography. Here are a few resources that are particularly accessible for youths who desire judgment: Sexual Detox by Tim Challies. This is a short, very readable, and very helpful book by a well-known and respected Christian blogger. You can read it as posts at Challies’ blog here. Porn Again Christian by Mark Driscoll. It’s a free, frank discussion on pornography and masturbation.  In suggesting this resource, which I found to be quite good, I feel compelled include a caveat. In my opinion, Mark Driscoll is on the right track when he is speaking to unmarried and married men about pornography, but he not so helpful when he is talking to married men about other intimacy topics. Undefiled and other resources by Harry Schaumburg. Undefiled is probably the most popularly recommended book about sexual purity for Reformed folks. I don’t have a copy yet, so I can’t say for sure, but I’ve ordered my copy. Perhaps you’ll consider doing the same. Websites: The internet might be the home of pornographers, but it is also the home of many great resources to help you fight porn, like CovenantEyes.com and SettingCaptivesFree.com. What better way to stick it to the Adulteress of the Internet than to use the Internet in a good, up-building, God-glorifying way? This article has covered a lot of ground. I hope that you will cover a lot more ground on the path of wisdom. If you are immersed in a fight, do not lose hope. We always have hope, because we have a Savior who is far more powerful than our sin, far more beautiful than our temptation, and far more loving than we can even comprehend. Rev. Ryan deJonge is a missionary in Lae, Papua New Guinea. A version of this article was first published under the title "Get Wisdom! Adultery and young tech-savvy Christians" back in 2012. Mark Driscoll, Porn Again Christian (2009: Mars Hill Church), 13 This is a modified list of those found at B.J. Stockman, 7 Negative Effects of Porn, 2011, http://theresurgence.com/2011/11/19/7-negative-effects-of-porn (accessed on March 21, 2012). ...

Sexuality

Propaganda disguised as Sex Education

In 2009 Dr. Miriam Grossman (a medical doctor) released a book that explains the problems and agenda of the modern sex education movement: You're Teaching My Child What? A Physician Exposes the Lies of Sex Ed and How They Harm Your Child. Though it is an American book, it provides a lot of material that is helpful for people in other English-speaking countries. Grossman explains the underlying motivation behind many school sex education programs, and explains how this motivation leads to the deliberate distortion of sexuality information given to students. The organizations and their agenda First of all, it’s very important to know about the main organizations involved in promoting sex education. Many of us have heard of Planned Parenthood, the US’s biggest abortion provider. Another key organization is the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS). Both Planned Parenthood and SIECUS are motivated by anti-Christian ideals. Grossman writes, These organizations are still animated by the philosophies of the infamous sexologist Alfred Kinsey – whose work has been debunked – the birth control and eugenics advocate Margaret Sanger, the feminist Gloria Steinem, and Playboy founder Hugh Hefner. These twentieth-century crusaders were passionate about social change, not health. Their goal was cultural revolution, not the eradication of disease. Because of the cultural aspirations motivating these organizations, the materials that are produced for sex education classes are not just about the nuts-and-bolts of human biology. They are deliberately designed to encourage behaviors that are condemned by traditional Western morality. As Grossman puts it, Sex education is about as neutral as a catechism class. And like a catechism, the “information” and “guidance” offered is designed to inculcate particular beliefs in young people. In short, “Sex education is not about health – it’s a social movement, a vehicle for changing the world.” Alfred Kinsey Dr. Alfred Kinsey, the infamous sexologist mentioned by Grossman, was a prominent American researcher of the 1940s and 1950s. He produced groundbreaking studies on the sexual behavior of men and women in the United States. These studies claimed to demonstrate that the vast majority of people engaged in some form of perverse sexuality, such as fornication, adultery, homosexuality and more. On the basis of his studies, and the supposed normalcy of these behaviors, massive cultural and legislative changes were undertaken in Western countries. These changes were justified by Kinsey’s science. But there was a big problem. Kinsey’s so-called “science” wasn’t science at all. His research was deliberately skewed to generate results that would justify his left-wing social beliefs. Kinsey wanted to overthrow traditional morality, so he conducted his “research” in such a fashion as to produce results he could use to undermine conventional views about sexuality. Kinsey’s fraud didn’t get properly exposed until the 1980s when Dr. Judith Reisman (currently at Liberty University School of Law) carefully scrutinized what Kinsey had done and published her results. Unfortunately, outside of conservative circles, Dr. Reisman’s research has not been widely disseminated. She deserves a Medal of Honor or something like it. Anyway, it’s important to realize, as Grossman points out, “In the upside down world of sex education, the ideology of Alfred Kinsey has been enshrined.” SIECUS The Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) was founded in 1964 by Mary Calderone, who had been a director of Planned Parenthood. Grossman writes that the focus of Calderone’s newly launched organization, which was, by the way, founded with seed money from Hugh Hefner of Playboy fame, was not to treat or prevent disease. Like Kinsey, she was crusading for social reform. Her book for parents reads like a primer for his views, and quite a few Kinsey disciples had eminent positions with SIECUS Hefner subsequently provided additional funding as well. That is to say, SIECUS received financial support from the sale of pornography. In short, much of the impetus for modern sex education in public schools is provided by organizations with a clear left-wing ideological agenda. Dr. Grossman’s experience For twelve years Grossman was a student counselor at UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles). She dealt with hundreds of students in their late teens and early twenties who had contracted a sexually transmitted disease (STD). She found that they had received sex education at school, but had not been warned about the harmful consequences that were likely to result from sexual activity. Grossman is not opposed to sex education as such. She is opposed to ideologically-driven sex education that deliberately withholds information from students in order to advance a political and cultural agenda. Pheromones and oxytocin Grossman is particularly sympathetic towards the numerous young ladies she counseled who have been harmed by premarital sexual activity. Recent medical research has helped to establish that women are especially influenced by male pheromones (a pheromone is a chemical produced by one person that can be perceived by other people) and the hormone oxytocin. Male pheromones “have psychological effects on women, like increased attention and a feeling of well-being.” Oxytocin, known as “the cuddle hormone,” is released in women who have physical contact with a man. Among other things, oxytocin promotes social bonding, leading (potentially, at least) to a certain degree of attachment to the man. The gist of all this is that young women who engage in premarital sex are likely to develop emotional attachments to their partners that can potentially cause intense emotional pain. Grossman believes this information should be shared during sex education so that girls can be forewarned about the likely emotional stress they will face from sexual activity. At this point, however, “These biological truths are omitted by the sex-ed industry because they fly in the face of the ideology animating their very existence.” Another important scientific finding involves the development of the cervix. Before a girl turns twenty, a region of her cervix called the “transformation zone” has a covering of cells that is only one layer thick. As she ages, the covering becomes 30 to 40 cell layers thick. But until then, there is little protection from viruses or bacteria. In other words, teenage girls are especially vulnerable to STDs, much more so than boys. Grossman writes, Based on this finding alone – something gynecologists and pediatricians have known for at least twenty years, girls should be advised to delay sexual behavior. Yes, delay sexual behavior. Anal sex Another area where sex educators fail to properly inform children has to do with the dangers of anal sex. These educators seem to encourage students to engage in any form of sexual behavior they desire (as long as the partner is willing), and anal sex is considered to be one of the legitimate behaviors to explore. Grossman points out that there is an inevitable “ick factor” in any discussion of anal sex. Anal sex inevitably and unavoidably involves contact with feces. However, she quotes a prominent sex education website as claiming that “negative attitudes about anal sex” sometimes result from a “disgust about feces” but “more of it is often based in homophobia and heteronormativity.” In this view, since anal sex is a common behavior of homosexuals, people who think it is gross are likely to be homophobes. Since homosexuality is good, anal sex must be good too! From a Christian perspective, this is obviously complete rubbish. Because of the strong support for homosexuality among sex educators, there is unwillingness among them to tell the truth about anal sex. Grossman has no such reservations and points out that “feces are filled with dangerous pathogens: salmonella, shigella, amoeba, hepatitis A, B, and C, giardia, campylobacter, and others. These organisms and others can be transmitted during anal sex or oral-anal contact.” From a health perspective, anal sex is dangerous (not to mention gross and disgusting). Grossman makes an appropriate biological conclusion: “Unlike the vagina, nature put a tight sphincter at the entrance of the anus. It’s there for a reason: Keep out!” Sexually Transmitted Diseases Another aspect that is improperly taught has to do with STDs. Sex educators do discuss STDs and how to prevent them. The emphasis is on how to avoid STDs, and failing that, how to get treatment. But Grossman says sex education curriculum does not discuss the emotional consequences of getting an STD. Many people who contract an STD get very distressed as a result of their diagnosis. But this is of little concern in sex education. Grossman writes, Educators often mention the hardships of living in a sexist and homophobic society, but rarely describe how devastating it is to discover blisters “down there,” to worry about cervical cancer, and to learn that these viruses might stick around – for a long, long time. All STDs are completely avoidable. Anyone who delays sexual behavior and finds a mate who has also waited will be free from STDs as long as they are faithful to each other. In other words, obeying the Bible in this area of life results in the avoidance of all STDs. Grossman argues that all of the negative effects of STDs should be taught. But this is not the focus of the sex educators or their websites: Instead of sounding an alarm about health risks – the association of oral sex with cancer of the tonsils, for example, or the epidemics of HPV and syphilis among gay men – kids get a hefty dose of leftist indoctrination and recruitment. On these websites, the enemy is not genital infections; it’s our oppressive, heterosexist society. Conclusion The controversies over sex education in North America will continue. This is all part of the ongoing culture war. Dr. Miriam Grossman has done parents a huge favor by analyzing the materials produced by the sex education movement and comparing them with modern medical knowledge. From a modern medical perspective (i.e., a genuine scientific perspective), the best thing for people is to save themselves for marriage and then remain faithful to their spouse. Does that sound familiar? Of course it does, because that’s what the Bible teaches. The science clearly demonstrates that monogamous heterosexuality is the healthiest sexuality for human beings. But as Grossman notes, that’s “information our daughters and sons never hear, because it challenges the institutionalized ideology and – gasp – confirms traditional values and teachings.” A version of this article first appeared in the June 2016 issue....

Sexuality

What is conversion therapy and why does it matter?

When Christians think of conversion, we generally think of a religious conversion experience or “the dying of the old nature and the coming to life of the new” (Heidelberg Catechism Q&A 88). However, conversion therapy refers to a very different kind of conversion. Conversion therapy is any attempt to change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity. An example of conversion therapy would be trying to make a gay person heterosexual. People generally seek conversion therapy when they have an undesired sexual orientation or are confused about their gender identity. They are struggling with something that they do not want, and they are looking for guidance. Today, this therapy is intended to uncover or understand the root causes of gender confusion, to help people cope with their gender dysphoria, or to assist people in managing their undesired same-sex attraction.  Why are we talking about conversion therapy? This topic has been recently broached at the provincial and municipal level in Ontario, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Alberta and British Columbia. Most of these jurisdictions prohibit – or propose to prohibit – healthcare professionals, “persons of trust or authority,” or for-profit businesses from providing conversion therapy to minors under the age of nineteen. Supporters of such bans claim that conversion therapy is always harmful, and tantamount to the persecution of sexual minorities and gender non-conforming individuals. Conversion therapy also arose as a federal election issue in Canada. The Liberal party promised in their election platform to amend the Criminal Code to ban conversion therapy. The NDP has also committed to banning conversion therapy. Both commitments build upon a 2019 Senate bill that proposed Criminal Code amendments to restrict conversion therapy. While the Conservative party has not released any official position on conversion therapy, party leader Andrew Scheer expressed opposition only to coercive or involuntary conversion therapy.  A biblical view of gender and sexuality A biblical perspective on conversion therapy requires a biblical understanding of the underlying nature of gender and sexuality. Throughout Scripture, but particularly in the story of creation, God outlines His plan for humanity. He created humanity to be male and female (Genesis 1:27) and gave specific roles to men and women based on their biology (Genesis 3:16-19). He also created marriage and intimacy to be between one man and one woman (Genesis 2:24). Taken altogether, the Bible teaches that our biological sex should determine our sexuality and gender. Scripture also affirms the importance of our physical bodies in connection with our souls. Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 6:19). The ultimate recognition of the importance of our physical bodies was the incarnation of Christ, His bodily resurrection, and His physical ascension into heaven.  The secular view of gender and sexuality The secular world, however, denies all these realities. Biological sex is not considered immutable, but as something assigned at birth by doctors. Gender roles are seen as oppressive and should be thrown out the window. Virtually any sexual behavior is acceptable between consenting adults. While Scripture affirms the importance of our physical bodies, the secular world prioritizes our self-perception and downplays or even disregards our bodies. This is why our modern culture accepts same-sex marriage and transgenderism. Both phenomena elevate our subjective self-identity above our objective bodies. Conversion therapy: a case study of these two worldviews These two differing viewpoints affect our responses to conversion therapy. Many people struggle with an unwanted sexual orientation or gender dysphoria and seek some form of help to manage these tensions. Bans on conversion therapy prohibit health care practitioners, counselors or parents from affirming that a child’s objective biological body should be the basis for their subjective gender identity and sexual orientation. On the other hand, conversion therapy bans do not ban “gender-confirming” treatments that attempt to change a child’s objective body to align with their subjective identities. These treatments include the regular injection of cross-sex hormones or an irreversible sex-change operation. In other words, conversion therapy bans may prohibit simple conversations about a biblical view of sexuality and gender between a parent and a child or a pastor and his congregant, but it gives a green light for children and adolescents to make irreversible decisions about their body. Most hormonal or surgical attempts to convert a child’s sex will leave the child infertile by adulthood, to name just one of the many irreversible effects. It borders on the unbelievable that this legislation banning conversion therapy aims to forbid the “conversion” of someone’s subjective sexual orientation or gender identity through counseling but allows the “conversion” of someone’s objective biological sex through surgery and medication. The latter is the truly harmful practice that should be banned. Furthermore… Another major flaw of conversion therapy bans is that they lump together beneficial counseling with harmful conversion therapy. Harmful forms of conversion therapy – electric shock therapy, medication, even lobotomies in some cases – were practiced in the mid-1900s to try to “cure” same-sex attraction. These coercive and aversive forms of conversion therapy have rightly been rejected by medical practitioners. The modern approach to helping people with an undesired sexual attraction or gender dysphoria is body-affirming counseling. Body-affirming counseling includes religious, behavioral, and psychological counseling that emphasizes that sexual orientation and gender identity are normatively linked to biological sex. This counseling is voluntary and uses words and reason, not invasive procedures, to help a struggling person. This body-affirming counseling is worlds apart from the outdated forms of conversion therapy mentioned earlier. But, most legislative definitions of conversion therapy encompass both the older, harmful forms of conversion therapy as well as the modern, beneficial forms of counseling. Such bans on conversion therapy may prohibit parents from reinforcing to their gender-confused daughter that she is, in fact, a girl. It may also prevent pastors and elders from guiding and assisting a member of their congregation in managing an undesired same-sex attraction. The effect, if not the goal, of such conversion therapy bans is to normalize homosexuality and transgenderism and prevent anyone from questioning these subjective identities. What can we do? Talk to your representatives at all levels of government – municipal, provincial, and federal – and talk to your fellow neighbors. Explain to them the biblical truth about gender and sexuality and tell them that body-affirming counseling should never be prohibited by general bans on conversion therapy. This counseling is indispensable for persons suffering from gender dysphoria or an unwanted same-sex attraction. Rather, attempts to convert someone’s biological sex should be recognized as the truly harmful forms of conversion therapy that need to be abandoned. We must also show great patience and love to those within our own communities who are struggling with their sense of gender or their sexual attractions. This confusion contributes to all manners of social and mental challenges for young people. As peers, parents, and pastors, we must gently outline and exemplify the biblical truth around gender and sexuality while affirming our love for these young people. In all circumstances, we need to continue to speak for a biblical view of sexuality, a view which values and honors God’s good design and seeks the good of our neighbors. Levi Minderhoud is the BC Manager of ARPA Canada. You can read ARPA Canada's Policy Report on Conversion Therapy here....

Sexuality

Porn addiction isn’t just a guy thing

“... but you’re a girl!?” If I had a dollar for every time I heard that given the context that is about to follow, I’d have about twenty bucks. Sure, it isn’t much, but then again, I’ve only told my story twenty times. It never fails. I am a mother of two, and a wife to a wonderful, forgiving, and loving husband. I have been a member of the Church since I was baptized as an infant, and I am a sinner. This is a story about grace. That’s really all it can amount to. I would love to think that I got through all of this on my own accord and by my own strength, but that isn’t the case. It’s grace. ***** When I was still in my early teens, about twelve, I was flicking through the channels on our television. I was supposed to be babysitting, and well, I was – but all my siblings were in bed. Click, click, click. Nothing. And then, I saw IT. A naked couple on the screen. It wasn’t long before my parents arrived back home, and since our window was large enough to see them coming from literally a kilometer away, I had enough time to change the channel and bolt downstairs to my bed and begin to pretend I was sleeping. It began with curiosity I never told my parents about what I saw. And instead of confiding in those who had raised me from infancy, who I literally trusted with my life, I turned to our new computer and told Google instead. I was young enough that I didn’t understand what exactly I was searching for, but I was old enough to know how to work a keyboard and spell words. The next time I found myself home alone, I pulled up a chair, typed in a few key words and found what I had been looking for. What started off as “innocent” curiosity became a full-blown addiction. Minutes turned into hours, and the hours repeated themselves every couple days. I started to like what I was seeing and soon enough, it became a part of my daily routine. I started looking forward to those private moments, but in return, started hating myself, my body, and God. I would stay home as often as I could just to go on the computer. I watched soap operas instead of going to school, and one day, I put a computer in my room. I struggled on and off for years without anyone knowing. My battle began before unlimited wifi, before I had my own smartphone, Instagram and Snapchat account, or personal laptop. It was still difficult to find and pornography sites were “restricted” to those over 18 years. Now, it’s everywhere.  It’s been a little over one year since the last time I watched pornography. It’s been a very trying yet powerful year. I struggle with it every single day, multiple times per day. In the midst of my battle, I pushed God aside. I figured that if God wasn’t in the picture, I didn’t have to worry about whether or not what I was doing was sinful. I had convinced myself that He didn’t love me anyway, so what was the point of trying to make Him happy with me. As the distance between God and myself grew, the hatred I began to see in the mirror increased. I started to compare myself to the women I had seen on the screen; my skin wasn’t smooth enough, my breasts weren’t large enough, my legs weren’t skinny enough (I was a size zero!), my nose was too long, my teeth too pointy… the list could go on and on. I began to think that if I looked like the women on the screen, maybe I would have the love that they had too. The reality If only I had known the truth about the “love” that those women were experiencing. Plain and simple - porn is often drug-induced rape. Now, who in their right mind would actually want that? It all happened so fast.  One moment they would be meeting each other and the next moment they would be on the bed. But, I didn’t fully understand the truth behind the scenes of what I was watching, so I actually had myself convinced that that was what sex was like. I suppose since it was on the screen I could pretend that it was normal. Yet, it isn’t normal. I told my mother of my struggle last year, and she said something that I had never thought of before. She said “Those women on the screen, those men too, they are someone’s sister. Someone’s daughter, mother, brother and father. They are real people, with real families and real lives.” Bam. If any statement helped me through my battle the most, that was definitely a big contender. You have to think of it in real life, because it is real life. If you were to come across a couple having sex on the street, would you grab a chair, some popcorn and indulge yourself? Nope. And yet, what I was watching on the screen was just as real as that. Satan likes the dark I remember the first time I decided I was going to stop watching pornography. It lasted a week. I had stayed up late and at that time had access to a computer. I dare say that Satan works best at night. I even remember these words running through my brain: “Go on! One minute wouldn’t hurt”. Well, I had gone a full week and I was on the road to recovery, but I hadn’t found my strength in God at that time, and the one minute became an hour which became a daily routine. Again. Why even bother trying to stop? I would argue with myself, It’s impossible, anyway! I had become so invested in my guilty pleasure that it was easy enough to come up with stupid excuses to shut my conscience up. I knew that even though a part of me wanted to stop, a very large part of me didn’t. Even times when I would fall on my knees and pray for forgiveness, deep down I knew that I actually didn’t mean it. I was a pretty techy kid growing up, so no one actually found out about my addiction. I figured if no one really knew about it, and I could pretend that nothing was different, no one would suspect anything. There was a point in my life that I actually thought I just wouldn’t tell anyone. It impacted dating But then, I found myself in a serious relationship with a man whom I now call my husband. We had been dating for a few years when I told him. He was the first person I had ever told. I remember sitting in the car before I went in to see him, praying fervently to God that he wouldn’t break up with me and that he would forgive me. He did forgive me. We dated for a long time. And well, I would love to say that my experience with pornography did not affect our relationship but unfortunately it did. It was easy to convince myself that in order to feel loved I had to be touched. After all, that is what I had polluted my brain with for many previous years! We weren’t the definition of “innocent” in our relationship and I will take most of the responsibility for those actions. I could chalk it up to the fact that we were young, or that we dated for a long time, or maybe that our hormones were raging. And sure, those might have had an effect, but when it really comes down to the heart of the matter – it’s just that, the heart. My heart, and if I can speak on behalf of my husband, his too, were not centered on God. Mine didn’t pay attention to what God says love is: “patient, kind, slow to anger….” (1 Cor. 13). To me, love was attention from my boyfriend - any attention he wanted to give, and any attention I could take. I had tried to find satisfaction in a fellow sinner, instead of looking to our one, perfect and holy God. We went through periods of lust and other periods of just finding pure joy in each other’s company. Thankfully, with a wedding ahead, our time of engagement was focused where it should have been all along, and we began to enjoy each other as God’s forgiven children. It didn’t just stop with marriage There is a saying: “Satan will do anything he can before you are married to get you into bed, and anything he can do when you are married to get you out of it.” It is difficult for me to write this next part, but it’s part of my story. I watched pornography as a wife. I took matters into my own hands when I didn’t feel like sharing my feelings or frustrations with my husband. Mainly it was just because I was bored or lonely. It happened. I hate that it happened, but that doesn’t mean that it didn’t. If there were any part of this whole struggle I could wish never happened, this would be it. My husband is so forgiving. If there is any word I could use to describe him, that would be it. He has stood by me and encouraged me in my fight against pornography more times than I dare count. He is the one to point me to my Rock. I took one evening to share with him my struggles – every last detail – all the whos, whats, whens, whys and hows. He is now my partner in my fight and I know that he would leave everything if he knew that I was being tempted, to come and help me fight. It’s been a little over a year since I have last watched pornography. I am 25, and have struggled with it on and off for more than 10 years. It is still a daily struggle: every time I go to the beach, the mall, pull out my phone, go on Facebook, Instagram, the computer. Videos and images I watched as a teenager will suddenly appear in my mind as I am washing the dishes, doing the laundry, vacuuming, sitting in church, even praying! The struggle has not left me, and I dare say it never will. God’s grace I would love to say that I have all of this under control. I don’t. God does. One year ago, I put my battle in His hands and prayed with tears that He would take this cup from me. And praise be to God, He has. He has given me the strength I need to put my smartphone away, to turn off the laptop, to double check the ratings of shows before I go and watch them. He has strengthened my faith in his Son and His forgiveness. He has given me grace and love. I have found freedom in my walk, a spring back in my step and more love for my husband than I even thought possible. I remember sitting in church one Sunday hearing a sermon on the Lord’s Supper. At one point during the sermon, the minister asked us to picture Christ hanging on the cross – I don’t remember very much after that because I knew what he meant. Picture my sin hanging there on Christ’s shoulders. I put him there. I stood before him yelling “Crucify him! Crucify him!” That is the moment I realized it wasn’t impossible. I had Christ on my side, and he had conquered sin. My sin. He put it to death! For me. So I continue on, fighting, finding my hope in God’s promises: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God” (John 3:16-18). “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). And as my wise mother has taught me, “Don’t be surprised by sin. Be surprised by grace.” Thanks mom. Advice from a former addict to you: Talk to your children/friends. Be the one to bring up the topic in a conversation. I often find it easier to talk about the “big topics” one on one rather than in a group. Ask them to be honest with you, and be quick to listen and slow to speak. Humble yourself as the parent/friend. Also, don’t assume that since you’ve talked to them once, they know and they won’t do it. We are all curious and sinners by nature. Pray with and for your children/friends/family. Set an example: Stay on top of what you and your children/friends watch/read. Are you setting a good example? It’s one thing to say, “Hey Jonny – don’t watch porn” but if they see you watching The Game of Thrones or even porn itself, you’re setting an example of how to be a hypocrite. Use your resources! For movies there’s www.kids-in-mind.com, and even the parents’ guide on www.imdb.com. And PluggedIn is a great resource to double check movies/books or even apps before you or your children watch them. Protect your computer. Get the laptops and smartphones out of bedrooms and into a public area. I know – it creates more clutter. But do you know what kind of clutter is more disgusting? A pornography filled mind. It’s worth a messy desk. Trust me. Password protect your wifi and change the password/turn off the wifi at a specific time at night. Don’t be afraid to discipline. Have an accountability partner. This one is tough because it requires you to be honest and open with someone. If you feel temptation, that is the time to talk with them. Not after you give in, but before that – when you feel like you might give in. As the accountability partner, pray for your friend/child. Uphold them and encourage them in their times of weakness. Encourage your children and friends in their inner beauty. Compliment them on their kindness or gentle spirit instead of their new jeans or new hairstyle. Teach each other how to put on the fruits of the Spirit instead of eyeliner and mascara. Teach your son how to look for the right kind of woman and how to put on the armor of God. If you are bored, find something to do that does not include a laptop or smartphone. The Bible is an excellent place to start. Speak highly of the love of God and show the love of God in your home. Instill in your, and your child’s heart, John 3:16-18. Model repentance to your children. For example, if you lose your temper and shout at them, ask their forgiveness. Let them see what seeking forgiveness, and turning to God in repentance looks like. Forgive. Forgive. Forgive. This article first appeared in the November/December 2016 issue of the magazine....

Apologetics 101, Politics, Sexuality

"Am I A Chinese Woman?" How questions can defend the Truth

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfO1veFs6Ho&feature=youtu.be It was a political science class in my first year in university, with a hundred-some students spread out around the large auditorium. When the professor asked us, by show of hands, to indicate who was pro-life I popped my arm up quickly. It was only then I realized, mine was the lone hand up. The prof scanned the room, and when he saw me tucked up against the back wall, 20 rows away, this 50-something-year-old came sprinting down the aisle, then scampering up and over the last few rows of seats, until we were face to face. “Why,” he asked, “are you pro-life?” He waited, and I could see my classmates twisting in their seats to get a good look. This was no debate between equals. He was a world-renown lawyer, a drafter of United Nations agreements, and he’d been teaching this class for years. I was an 18-year-old student, who had never had to defend the unborn before. I don’t recall the exact answer I gave, but I do remember how easily the prof slapped it aside. He made me feel foolish. More importantly, he made the pro-life position seem foolish. Let the teacher teach It used to be that this sort of on-the-spot inquisition would only happen if you signed up for something like a political science class. Nowadays we can expect hostile questioners in settings from the coffee shop to the workplace. Whether you proudly walk around wearing a pro-life shirt, or quietly decline having a rainbow flag decorate your cubicle, the world is going to want some answers. What we should offer are some good questions. The key here is to realize what the world is up to. They think we’re wrong and want to correct. They want to show us the error of our ways. They want to re-educate us. So we should let them try. The mistake I made with my university professor was when I let him swap his role for mine. He wanted me to teach the pro-life position to the class – he wanted me to take on the role of teacher. Now he’d had a few decades of experience, and maybe some hours of preparation to get ready for his lecture, but he expected me, on a moment’s notice, to be able to teach the class. How fair was that? And yet I accepted the role-reversal, gave it my best go, and failed miserably. But what if I had refused his job offer? What if, instead of trying to mount an on-the-spot defense of the unborn, I had simply asked the teacher to teach? “I’m just a student – I’m paying the big bucks to hear your thoughts. So what I’d like to know iswhy are you so sure the unborn aren’t precious human beings?”  You want me to teach? I decline. This is a great strategic move, but also a humble one. It’s strategic because asking questions is a lot easier than answering them. That’s why our kids – back when they could barely string a sentence together – could still stump us by simply asking one “But why?” question after another. It’s humble because in adopting this approach we’re not setting ourselves up as the ones with all the answers. As I recall it, my professor believed there was some gradual increase in the fetus’s worth as it grew bigger and became able to do more things. If he’d offered that as his explanation – the unborn isn’t worth as much as an adult because it can’t do as much – my follow-up would have been easy: “But why?” The Columbo Tactic Christian apologist Greg Koukl calls this the Columbo Tactic, naming it after the famous TV detective. Lieutenant Columbo, as he was played by actor Peter Falk, was a slow-talking, slow-walking, middle-aged man, perpetually unshaven, and as Koukl put it, who looked like he slept in his trench coat. His unassuming manner was the key to the detective’s success. He wasn’t aggressive. He wasn’t pointed. He only asked questions. "Just one more thing…" "There's something that bothers me…" "One more question…" “What I don’t understand is… As he followed up his quiet question with another and then another, the murderer’s story would fall to pieces, bit by bit. Columbo’s approach was meek, but also merciless. And the killers never saw it coming. Question the re-education This quiet questioning was put to masterful use by the director of the Family Policy Institute of Washington. Joseph Backholm headed down to the University of Washington campus to talk to students about gender identity. His position? Men are men and women are women. But rather than begin by sharing his own thought he asked others for theirs. His first question had to do with whether men should be able to use women’s washrooms, and the students agreed with one another that “whether you identify as a male or female and whether your sex at birth is matching to that, you should be able to utilize” whichever locker room you like. That when things got very interesting. Space doesn’t permit sharing all the students’ answers (and they were all quite similar) so we’ll focus on just one. Joseph Backholm: “If I told you that I was a woman what would your response be?” Enthusiastic girl: “Good for you. Okay! Like, yeah!” JB: “If I told you that I was Chinese what would your response be?” EG: “I mean I might be a little surprised, but I’d say, good for you! Yeah, be who you are!” The next question made our energetic girl pause. She wasn’t ready with a quick answer but after thinking it through she tried to maintain consistency. JB: “If I told you that I was seven years old, what would your response be?”EG: “If you feel seven at heart then, so be it, good for you!” JB: “If I wanted to enroll in a first-grade class, do you think I should be allowed to?” EG: “If that's where you feel mentally you should be…then I feel like there are communities that would accept you for that.” This final question stymied several other students…for a few moments. Then they too headed into the ridiculous, just to maintain consistency. JB: “If I told you I'm 6 feet 5 inches what would you say?” EG: “I feel like that's not my place, as another human, to say someone is wrong or to draw lines or boundaries.” As Backholm concluded: It shouldn't be hard to tell us 5’9” white guy that he's not a six foot five Chinese woman. But clearly it is. Why? What does that say about our culture? And what does that say about our ability to answer the questions that actually are difficult? The video was effective, funny, and popular – it’s been viewed well over a million and a half times already. (A Swedish version, in which a petite blond girls asks students whether she could be a two-meter tall seven-year-old Japanese male, has been viewed by another half million.)  Backhom took the students’ stand – that identity is whatever a person says it is – and exposed it as ridiculous by asking half dozen simple questions. But did the questions do anything to convince the students? After all, none of them seemed to change their mind. Well, most of them were giggling by the end – they couldn’t help but laugh at the bizarre stand they found themselves defending. Few of us are able to change our minds in a moment, even when all the facts are against us, so it’s no surprise these students didn’t do an on-camera about-face. However we have reason to hope that once they had time to reflect, they too may well have realized the enormous problem with their thinking. Beyond self-preservation How might this questioning approach work in our day to day? Let’s try it in an office setting. Imagine that your company has sponsored the local gay pride parade and the boss has handed out little pride flags so employees can decorate their cubicles. You decline. Shortly afterwards you find yourself summoned to the boss’s office. How can quiet questions be a help here? First, it’s important we first understand the goal we should have for this interchange. Unprepared we might conclude our objective is self-preservation – we want to save our job. That’s a good goal, but it shouldn’t be the goal – our primary goal, as the Westminster Shorter Catechism puts it, “is to glorify God, and enjoy Him forever.” As our country takes a perverse turn, we are going to start losing our jobs because of our beliefs and it won’t matter what we say or how we say it. When we’re called to explain ourselves, we need to realize there may be no God-glorifying way of preserving our job – the only options maybe to profess or deny. So we need to prepare ourselves to profess…regardless of what happens afterwards. Do you really believe what you say you believe? Still, saving our job can be a goal and questions can help here too. Your boss wants to know why you aren’t waving the rainbow flag? Ask him whether the company really believes what it says it believes. If they want to celebrate tolerance and diversity how about they do so starting with you? Boss: “Why don’t you have your flag out? You know we’re an inclusive company.” You: “Hey boss, as a Christian, and I have some views that differ with the company’s. I knew that might cause some problems but I also know that we’re a super inclusive company, so I was confident we could work something out. Sir, how can the company’s inclusiveness be applied to me? How is your non-judgmental, life-style-affirming, politically correct boss going to be able to answer this one without his head exploding? That’s for him to figure out. Conclusion A question isn’t the best response in every setting. Questions are very helpful in poking holes in other people’s incoherent worldviews – they’re good tools for demolishing lies – but when it comes to teaching people the truth, we need to do more than ask questions. We’ll need to share God’s Word, let our listener question us, and offer explanations. That’s how we should talk to anyone interested in an honest dialogue. But for all those shaking their fist at God, a good question may be the best response. We live in a time where every one of God’s standards is being attacked and it’s about time we were asking why. Picture is a screenshot from the Family Policy Institute of Washington’s video “College kids say the darndest things: On identity” posted to YouTube.com on April 13, 2016. This article first appeared in the June 2016 issue. If you want to know more about the Columbo Tactic you should pick up a copy of Greg Koukl's "Tactics" which we review here....

News, Sexuality

When a gay couple wants you to help them celebrate sin

Back in 2012, an American couple that rented out their barn for weddings ran into trouble when two ladies wanted to reserve it for a gay “marriage” ceremony. Cynthia and Robert Gifford, both Catholic, refused – they didn’t want their farm used to celebrate what God condemns. The lesbian couple lodged an official complaint, and the New York Division of Human Rights ruled in their favor, fining the Giffords a total of $13,000 for their refusal. Two years later New York’s Supreme Court Appellate Division upheld the ruling. The appeals judge, Karen Peters, said that the Giffords could “profess their religious beliefs that same-sex couples should not marry,” but as long as they allowed heterosexual couples to use their farm, they had to let same-sex couples do so too. The “perfect solution”? So what could the Giffords do? A March 23 Faithwire.com article detailed the couple’s response. They are continuing to rent out their barn and farm, but on their website they’ve announced that a portion of the proceeds from any wedding will be donated to support traditional marriage. The notice reads: At Liberty Ridge Farm, our deeply held religious belief is that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, and the Farm is operated with the purpose of strengthening and promoting marriage. In furtherance of this purpose and to honor and promote our moral and religious beliefs, we donate a portion of our business proceeds to organizations that promote strong marriages such as the Family Research Council. The couple’s response got a couple of media outlets quite excited, with Faithwire’s Will Maule suggesting they “may have just solved the gay marriage dilemma” and The DailyWire’s Hank Berrien describing it as the “perfect solution.” This, they thought, was the way forward for Christian wedding cake bakers, and wedding photographers, and wedding venue owners. By declaring their support for traditional marriage, the Giffords are sure to dissuade many gay couples from even considering their farm. And the activist sorts who want to push the issue and rent it anyway? Well, if they know that using the Giffords' barn means, in effect, making a donation to the conservative Christian lobby group, the Family Research Council, that might just dissuade them too. This would seem an approach that Christian wedding photographers, and wedding cake makers, and more, could readily imitate. But it is it really the perfect solution? On the very same webpage the Giffords promise that all “couples legally permitted to marry in the state of New York are welcome to hold their wedding at Liberty Ridge Farm. We serve everyone equally.” This statement is probably a requirement from the judgment against them, but it would seem to concede too much. On the one hand the Giffords are speaking up for traditional marriage, but on the other, they are promising to host and help with same-sex “marriages.” This is a muddled message. Still, is there something that we can be inspired by here, and perhaps improve on? Shrewd and innocent In Matthew 10:16 Jesus told his disciples that in their dealings with the world, they should be shrewd and innocent: I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves. The Giffords’ approach is certainly shrewd. It seems sure to decrease and maybe even eliminate the requests they might otherwise get from homosexual couples. What might be missing in the Giffords’ approach is the “innocent as doves” part. When Christians oppose gay “marriage” we’re not going to be portrayed as innocent doves, but as bullying bigots – we’re going to be accused of simply hating those who are different. That’s why it’s important we explain ourselves. And it’s just as important that our motivations be truly godly. We can applaud the Giffords for their desire to stand up for traditional marriage but if we’re going to build on what they’ve done, we shouldn’t overlook where there is room for improvement. In their explanation, they speak of honoring and promoting their “moral and religious beliefs.” They also speak of traditional marriage as being a “deeply held religious belief.” Something is missing here. Or, rather, Someone. We don’t oppose gay “marriage” because of our deeply held religious beliefs. We oppose it because God made us male and female (Gen. 1:27), and because a man is to leave his mother and father and be joined to his wife and they shall become one flesh (Gen. 2:24). We oppose gay “marriage” because that is not how God intended marriage to be. We oppose it because we know that homosexuality is a sin, and that unrepentant sin separates a person from God. We oppose it, because if we love our gay neighbor then we want them to know that a commitment to continuing to live this sinful lifestyle “until death do us part” is a commitment to rebellion against God. It sets them on the road to hell. That’s why we can’t help them celebrate. Out of concern for the couple themselves, we don’t want any part in these ceremonies – we know it’s going to harm them! Of course, a reporter from the 6 o’clock news isn’t going to give us the time and space to communicate our concerns. But when it comes to our own websites, we have all the time and space we might need, so let’s spell it out there, with clarity and love. “Ewww!” is not an option To be clear, this isn’t simply about finding the right words, so we can say just the right thing. This is about living out the love God calls us to. If we’re saying we oppose gay “marriage” out of concern for the salvation of homosexuals, but we don’t actually feel that in our hearts, it’s going to come out. We can’t be a light to the world, if we’re faking it. So if we’re not feeling concern for them, then, before anything else, we need to ask God to work on our hearts, and to help us better love our neighbor as ourselves. Conclusion While the Giffords’ approach is shrewd, it’s also more than a little confusing. That’s in large part because, even as they are conceding they will host gay “marriages” but don’t want to, they don’t make it clear why they are opposed. Christians still have the freedom to speak our beliefs, including what we know to be true about marriage and homosexuality. What would happen if all the Christian wedding cake bakers, and wedding photographers, and wedding venue owners did so? What would happen if we all stated our concerns that these sinful commitments separate the couple from God? And what if we stated that, if a gay couple uses the law to compel us to be a part of their ceremony, then we are going to donate all funds to homosexual outreach so we can express these concerns to many more? Is that a stance we can, in good conscience, take? Or does it concede too much? Might there be another better way for us to be both clever and clear? If it’s not clear just yet what exactly the “perfect solution” is, this much is clear: Christians need to explain our opposition to gay “marriage” with clarity and charity. Our opposition isn’t first and foremost because it undermines traditional marriage, or because it offends our “deeply held religious beliefs.” We oppose gay “marriage” because it is a commitment to life-long rebellion against the one true and holy God, and if the couple keeps to that commitment, then they are going to hell. That’s the clarity. And the charity is in expressing that in all sincerity, and with genuine concern....

Book excerpts, Parenting, Sexuality

5 frank quotes from Jonathan McKee's "Sex Matters"

Jonathan McKee’s Sex Matters is a frank book meant to help us parents teach our kids about the touchy topic of sex. To give you a good idea of what can be found inside, what follows are five good quotes from this great book. And check out our review here. Is it wise to be so up front when talking with our kids? "I've never met a parent who engaged in conversations with their kids about sex too much. Not one. Ever. But in my over twenty years of youth ministry, and a decade of writing and speaking to parents, I've met thousands of parents who have done the exact opposite and looked back in regret....The world is full of explicit lies. Sadly, very few people are telling our kids the explicit truth. But we need to. I need to. You need to. If we don't, our kids will look for the answer somewhere else..." “Sin can be fun…for the moment” “ White defined two types of sexual ‘happiness’: the animalistic thrill-of-the-moment happiness you can experience when you are promiscuous (sleeping with whoever you want) and a deeper, longer-lasting, more fulfilling happiness when you are monogamous (have one partner for life). Which do you think sounds better in the long run? Can a monogamous person experience both the quick thrill of sex and the longer lasting happiness?” Don’t look for loopholes “Some people still try to find a loophole. Maybe porn is okay, right? Because then we aren’t actually have sex with anyone else. We’re just sort of…pretending to have sex! During the time Jesus was walking around on earth he encountered some people like this. They were thinking, So long as I don’t have sex, it’s okay. I’ll just think about it in my mind! Jesus himself decided to address this, calling it lust and labeling it just as bad as adultery ….(Matthew 5:27-29) Jesus wasn’t pulling any punches here. If you’re thinking about it, you’re no better than someone who is doing it.” On fleeing temptation “Fact: Dentists have recommended that a toothbrush be kept at least six feet away from a toilet to avoid airborne particles resulting from the flush….How many of are going to store it right next to the toilet by the toilet paper roll? ….Most of us will probably store our toothbrush about twenty feet away if possible…. There is a principle here: If we discover danger to be within a certain proximity, we avoid that proximity completely. Why don’t we do that with sexual temptation?” The “process” is designed to be continued “Any teen who has been alone with someone they are attracted to and allowed the process to start knows that it is like trying to stop a forest fire after a drought! So why is it so difficult to stop? Because it’s not supposed to be stopped!”...

Sexuality

The transgender debate isn't about washrooms

Or, how to argue like a Christian Here’s the scenario: there’s a fellow in front of you wearing a little black dress. And he wants to know your thoughts on the transgender debate. You’re considering two possible answers. 1) “This is a debate about what feelings can and can’t do. God says He determines our gender (Gen. 1:27, 5:2, Matt. 19:4, Mark 10:6) but now many people are saying that it’s our feelings that do that. Do feelings have that power? I don’t think so. What we know about our feelings is that they often run counter to reality. We can feel attracted to people we know wouldn’t be good for us. We can feel pulled to do things we know we shouldn’t, or to put off things we need to get done. Sometimes scarily thin girls can feel fat, and bullied boys can feel worthless. We can feel angry when we have no reason to be, or feel happy when the more appropriate response would really be shame or regret. In everyday life our feelings can, so often, prove to be a horrible guide for us. Our feelings don’t shape reality, so we need to shape our feelings and emotions to conform to the world as it is. And that’s what God tells us when it comes to gender too (Deut. 22:5). He chose our gender, and we have to shape our feelings to fit that reality.” 2) “We’re worried that some guys will pretend to be transsexual just so they can get access to the women’s washroom. So, for the sake of the women and children, we can’t let biological males use women’s washrooms. It’s a matter of safety.” Which answer do you choose? Most Christians seem to be going with the second answer. It’s not without controversy – Red Sox legend Curt Schilling got fired from his ESPN job for arguing this point – but it’s nowhere near as controversial as the first. The second also has some clear advantages. It is shorter, and when it’s important to say things just so, brief is better. And it focuses on the safety of women and children, which is a hard point to object to. But it doesn’t mention the Bible or God. Some might think that another advantage. After all, our country has rejected God, so they don’t care what He says. If we bring up God, aren’t we just setting ourselves up to be ignored? Wouldn’t it be better to present neutral/secular arguments, to increase the odds that we’ll be heard? Secular arguments can’t stand on their own The short answer is, no. The longer answer is “Nooooooooooo!” Secular arguments might be less controversial, but they have no foundation. They are based on a worldview that is insubstantial. Thus there is a very practical objection to relying on them: they can’t stand on their own. Already, we can see the shaky nature of secular arguments in our bathroom debates. The US department store Target was hit with a one-million-signature petition protesting their decision to let transgender customers use the washroom of their choice. But as one commentator noted, the vast majority of Target stores have single-stall family restrooms. If we’re worried about the safety of our wife, or our children, then all we need to do is use these single-stall facilities. A gay legislator from Alabama took down the safety argument a different way. Patricia Todd noted that most sexual assaults occur “…in locations where children gather, school, church, parks, etc…. So if you really want to protect your children from child predators, don't take them to school, public parks, church or allow them to play sports or use the Internet.” We can also predict that if we keep talking about safety the other side is going to counter with safety concerns of their own. They are going to start sharing stories about dress-wearing guys who got harassed in the men’s washroom. Or, rather, we’re going to hear stories about dress-wearing boys, and crewcut girls who were hassled. If we’re all about safety, then what about these children’s safety? Canada’s recent past provides an even better example of the shortcomings of the purely secular argument. During our country’s gay “marriage” debate I did a presentation in one of our churches and asked the audience to list all the best arguments for our side. We came up with a half dozen or so, and some in the crowd seemed to get worried when I rebutted all but one of them. The reason I could do that is because all but one of them were based on secular reasoning. I could slap them down as quickly as they were raised because they were all built on this quivering, crumbling secular foundation. “Marriage has been this way for thousands of years.” “Slavery was in vogue for millennia; does that mean it was right? Some traditions need to be abandoned.” “Most Canadians are against changing it.” “Sometimes the majority can be wrong. And besides, will you support gay marriage if/when the majority approves?” “We shouldn’t let judges force this on us.” “So if we vote it in you’ll be fine with it?” Christians rose to the defense of tradition, and democracy, and stood against judicial activism, but how often did we speak about God’s perspective? Not very. So we lost. And we lost, in part, because the arguments we were relying on simply didn’t measure up. They couldn’t stand on their own. Secular arguments miss the point But there is a still bigger problem: secular arguments don’t fight the battle that really needs to be fought. When a big culture-wide kerfuffle erupts we need to see this for what it really is. Christians need to ask: “What part of God’s truth is being attacked this time?” We have to understand we’re in a war, and the other side’s objective is always to attack God’s people, His Word, and His Truth. So yes, safety is a concern in the transgender debate, but that’s not what the battle is really about. This bathroom ruckus is only a distraction – it’s the enemy trying to get us to direct out attention to the symptom rather than the disease. What they’re coming after – what they want to overthrow – is Genesis 1:27b: “male and female He created them.” Safety is a concern. We’re already hearing in the news about sick guys taking advantage of these policies to head into women’s washrooms, to peep, or take pictures, or expose themselves. It’s predictable. It’s ridiculous. But what’s the cause of this craziness? God says He made us male and female, and the other side says, “No, we can create our own genders – God lied.” That’s the real fight. That’s the truth they are attacking, so that’s the truth we need to defend. Christian arguments have a firm foundation So how do we get at it? We begin with God. We lead with Him and His truth. The world doesn’t want to hear about Him, but He’s what they need. Canada’s gay “marriage” debate provides a good example of how a good Christian defense can look. During the 2004 election a Christian Heritage Party candidate I was working with gave his riding a solid Christian defense of marriage. Ed Spronk sent a brochure to every household that presented God as the Standard-Maker. Spronk explained that if we abandoned God’s standard for marriage then soon enough we would be left with no standard at all. He then shared news items from around the world to show how this was already happening, with people marrying multiple spouses, marrying objects, and even marrying themselves. Spronk didn’t win the election, but he was heard – his brochure was the talk of the riding. The structure of his argument went like this: Here’s what God says on this matter. What God says is true, so we’ll see supporting evidence in the world. Here’s some of that evidence. A few of the illustrations he presented were the exact news items other Christians were using as standalone secular arguments. For instance, many were pointing to the woman who married herself as an example of what would happen next if we let gay “marriage” happen. But the response to this as a standalone argument was mixture of apathy and disbelief: “Who cares?” and, “It will never happen.” Once again the secular argument couldn’t stand on its own. Spronk used this same incident, with a difference: he placed it on the firm foundation of God’s truth. He started by explaining that it’s God Who defines what marriage is and isn’t. Then Spronk used this self-marrying single lady as an example of the craziness that ensues when we deny God’s standards for marriage. It supported his main point, but it wasn’t his point. It was simply one bit of supportive evidence and his core argument – his explicitly Christian argument – would continue to stand with or without it. In the transgender debate I began this article began with two possible answers. The first might not look all that similar to Ed Spronk’s traditional marriage defense, but it actually has the same basic structure. Sproink's and this first answer are both built on an explicitly Christian foundation, and both then stack supporting evidence on top of that Christian foundation. This is how that first answer looks like broken down: Here’s what God says on this matter: your feelings can’t determine your gender; I do. What God says is true so we’ll see supporting evidence in the world. Here’s some of that evidence: examples of when our feelings have run counter to reality, without ever changing it. This is what a good Christian argument looks like. We need more like this. Does that mean we have to abandon our bathroom arguments altogether? No, but we need to place them on a Christian foundation. That’s the key. They don’t stand on their own, but they can work well as supportive evidence for God’s truth. Here’s how that might look in a letter to your local paper: Dear editor, I’m writing regarding the recent article series you had on children who say they are transgender and want access to surgeries and puberty suppressing drugs. As a Christian I know all of humanity is made in God’s image, so that means we are all worthy of respect. That, of course, includes people who identify as transgendered. That is why I cannot go along with cultural move to treat gender as something that is subjective, tied to how someone feels, rather than an objective reality. Our gender is not something that our feelings can change; feelings don’t have that power. Our gender is determined for us, by God, and is written into us right down to our DNA. And if we won’t recognize that men are men and women are women and the two can’t switch places, then all sorts of craziness will ensue. Craziness will happen because craziness always does when we reject reality. We will see: Peeping Toms claiming to be women to gain access to women’s washrooms High school boys showering with high school girls * Perverts of various sorts taking full advantage Men applying for spots in women’s dormitories A demand for women’s sanitary bins in male toilets “for men who menstruate” * A demand for urinals in women’s washrooms Men competing on women’s sports teams * Men obliterating the women’s records in weightlifting, shot-put, high jump, etc. and etc. Men winning “Women of the Year” awards * Men attending women’s colleges * Sexually abused women feeling unsafe in all public washrooms Women cutting off their breasts and men cutting off their penises Children being given high doses of hormones to suppress their normal maturation There will also be others who will extend this same “I am whatever I feel like I am” logic to other areas including age and race (this is already happening) and maybe even height and species (and, yes, this is also already happening). We need to reject that idea that our feelings can remake reality. I respectfully ask you to stand firm against the notion that “wishing does make it so.” Yours, in God’s service, Jon Dykstra Here the bathroom argument serves as just one bit of supportive evidence for our overall argument that God determines our gender, not our feelings (and if we reject God’s sovereignty over gender, then craziness will ensue). The structure is again the same as we saw with Ed Spronk: our foundation is what God says on the matter, and then because we know that what God says is true, we are able to find supportive evidence in the world around, so we share some of those examples. Conclusion  When we present God’s truth to an audience we don’t need to hit them with a sermon – we can be brief. But God’s truth needs to be our foundation. The battle we’re in isn’t about bathrooms. It’s about God, and how He determines our gender, and all of reality. That’s the truth that’s under assault, so that’s the truth we are called to defend. May the Lord grant us the courage to fight where the battle rages....

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