Our World Needs You!

“We pursue the things which make for peace and the building up of one another.” -Romans 14:19
 
Our world needs you!
 
You are God’s front line against the hate that spreads. You, who have chosen Jesus, you are likewise chosen by Jesus, and sent into hostile territory. The hostile territory I’m talking about, is the moment you connect with someone else. It’s dangerous! Those other people: they don’t think like you do. They don’t believe like you do. They don’t have the same ideas, the same opinions, the same values. They don’t agree with you. And we are really struggling with how to get along with others who don’t agree.
 
Our reality is that we live in a divided and antagonistic society. Rather than trying to get along, we defiantly entrench in our stance. We vilify those who think differently. We place people who behave differently on a lower level of value. Our mind frames people with different views of the world as stupid, idiots, morons. We feel justified in insulting them, belittling them, wishing curses on them. And when we find people are wrong, we tear into them without mercy. Just follow any social media thread for more than three responses…there it is. This is the landscape of our society. And it is erupting into physical violence. Anger, hatred, pain, are spreading. And the drive beneath all of this is fear. Our society is wracked by a godless fear.  Read more…


Sex and Marriage: Last Questions

As we come to the end of this year, I also will finish up my two-year-long blogging on the biblical teaching of sex and marriage. I have a couple of other questions I’ve been asked by youth, so I want to address them specifically, before I finish. Question: “Would the two of you and my two parents be happy together whether or not the choice to abstain [from sex before marriage] was made?” Yes. Of course. Couples who have sex before marriage can be very happily married. God forgives all sin, and God can create new life again. “With God all things are possible.” But take note: it requires a repairing and healing. It becomes part of the baggage each couple needs to work through together. The more there is, the harder it is. It is kind of like driving to a vacation spot. More detours along the way makes the trip harder, longer, more expensive, more grueling and more taxing. How much better to make the journey the best way possible. The journey of marriage is difficult enough the way it is, without adding further complications! Having sex before marriage makes the marriage more difficult–not impossible or even less meaningful–just harder. The couple must go through a process of repentance and re-commitment to following God in obedience. Many (but not all!) couples I have interacted with who had sex before marriage regret it and wish they could do it over again. Not that they are any less happy, they just wish they had done it right. The consequences can be overcome, and often are, thanks to the empowering of the Holy Spirit. Many couples have shared that their regret is greatest when they have to confess to their own children that they did not follow God’s plan as they ought. How they wish they could be a better example. It is also harder to encourage your children to trust God with their sexuality when your own example doesn’t reinforce it. Read more…



If She/He’s the One, Why Should We Still Wait?

I want to tackle now head on the temptation to engage in sex with a partner you’re engaged to, or you know you’ll marry. Since this is “the one,” you’ve been keeping yourself for, then now, why wait (until the actual marriage)? Here are four reasons you need to continue to abstain: God said so. Even though some of the arguments I’ve given in previous blogs apply only to sex between people who will never marry, that still doesn’t negate the principle. God says wait until you are married. Just because you’re engaged doesn’t mean that all the reasons to wait are gone. Besides, it’s really about obedience, and believing God’s plan is better, even when we don’t understand it. We don’t obey only when we know, understand, and accept the reasons. This is a form of pride, which I referenced earlier. But there are some reasons we can see…(keep reading). Read more…



What’s the Big Deal?

I’ve been blogging a lot about the Biblical stance of sex being intended only for marriage. Many Christians believe this is what the Bible teaches, but don’t see it really as a big deal. Sex outside of marriage is often treated kind of like swearing. “You shouldn’t do it, but it’s really no big deal. It may not be best, but it’s not worth worrying about.” Those that do worry a lot about it are sort of ignored. Some, for sure, are gripped by a prudish fear, worried that any kind of dabbling in the “forbidden fruits” is akin to selling your soul to Satan. Others are bound to a pharisaic legalism, fearing that any slight infraction against God’s laws constitute a forfeiting of one’s salvation. Others take a more simplistic approach: “God said it, that settles it!” Not that there isn’t truth in these perspectives. To some degree, dabbling in sexual promiscuity is satanic, in that it does not champion God’s values or desires, and subjects people to sinful bondages. There is some truth to simply Read more…



Holiness: Sexual Purity

I’ve been asked if the New Testament replaces the Old Testament laws and rules about human sexuality. It seems that some people feel that the New Testament allows more freedom of sexual expression than the Old. It is more helpful, I think, to understand that the Bible really doesn’t talk about human sexuality on its own, but instead places it under the larger teaching on purity. Let’s take a look.

First of all, even though Jesus’ death and resurrection replaces the old salvation of animal sacrifice, temple worship, and Jewish kosher laws, Jesus says that the moral teachings of the Old Testament still stand. In Matthew 5:17, Jesus says, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” Both testaments are one witness, and God’s desire is the same in both. 

Paul takes up the Jews kosher laws directly in Galatians. The Old Covenant/Testament (meaning the system of sacrifices) was given as a way to identify sin, curb it, and serve as a temporary system of atonement for it (look closely at Galatians 3). It was a stop-gap measure until the coming of Christ. Christ comes to be the atoning sacrifice “once and for all,” so the temple and sacrifices are no longer needed. So, Christ fulfills all the cultic laws (laws having to do with the external practice of the Jewish faith, like sacrifices and anything that has to do with the Temple, as well as anything that makes a Jew look and act like a Jew on the outside of the body, such as clothing, food restrictions, and religious observances). Read more…


God’s Three Purposes for Sex

Marriage and Sex:

Sexual fidelity is actually a sub-category of marriage. That is a fatal mistake our secular culture makes. It makes them two separate categories that don’t necessarily correlate. But God intends sex to be kept within marriage.

God made people with the intention of marriage. God created marriage and intends for most people to get married. Now, not all people get married, and God does call some people to the exception of singleness. But God created people FOR marriage (Genesis 2:24, Mark 10:6-9). That is God’s plan. Christians seek to follow God’s plan. God desires marriage to be holy, right and good. God does not intend marriage to be abusive, manipulative, selfish, taken for granted, not taken seriously, or even broken. God intends marriage to be fulfilling, complementary, uplifting, making whole.

You cannot look to the rest of nature to see the moral guidelines for people. God created animals to reproduce in order to sustain their populations. God created people different, in God’s own image, to a higher and more special calling. That calling includes the special relationship between a man and a woman; marriage reflects the image of God in the unity and the joining together. Man, woman and God joined together in holy matrimony reflects the image of God’s trinity. The love, commitment, obedience and unity they share reflects the interaction (love, commitment, obedience and unity) of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. “So, God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27). Read more…



Sex: Old and New Witness to Purity

In my previous blogs, I have laboriously argued that in the Biblical witness both the Old and New Testaments each reveal that God considers it impure to have sex outside of marriage. I also want to point out that the two testaments are together one and the same witness. 

The New Testament (NT) in no way “upgrades” or carries more weight than the Old Testament (OT). Jesus says in Luke 16:17 that “It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the law.” Or again in Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” They are both one witness, and God’s desire is the same in both. 

It is true that some laws of the OT are not upheld for all people in the NT (what we call the Jewish cultic laws like the kosher laws, the laws of sacrifice, and Temple worship). These laws Jesus specifically fulfilled and made obsolete. The difference has to do with Christ’s purpose of salvation. Paul discusses this in Galatians. The Old Covenant/Testament (meaning the system of sacrifices) was given as a way to identify sin, curb it, and serve as a temporary system of atonement for it (look closely at Galatians 3). It was a stop-gap measure until the coming of Christ. Christ comes to be the atoning sacrifice “once and for all,” so the temple and sacrifices are no longer needed. So Christ fulfills all the cultic laws. Jesus says at the Last Supper, “…this is the cup of the new covenant…” (Luke 22:20). In the Lord’s Supper, Jesus is making the claim that His sacrifice on the cross is the new covenant of salvation, replacing the old covenant of cultic laws and animal sacrifice.  Read more…



Does God’s Way Allow Sex Outside of Marriage? The New Testament (Part 2)

So, the New Testament (NT) frames sex from the perspective of what is best for people. It goes something like this: God created sex to bless people. God’s plan for sex is the best for people. When people follow God’s plan for sex, they experience God’s intention for sex.

The NT also frames sex in terms of God’s better plan. It goes something like this: God created a plan of life for people. God’s plan of life for people is the best life for people. When people follow God’s plan, they experience the full blessing of God in their lives. Doing sex God’s way is part of God’s plan for life for people.

Read more…



Does God’s Way Allow Sex Outside of Marriage? The New Testament (Part 1)

The New Testament (NT) shows a complete continuity with the Old Testament laws about human sexuality, and in particular the act of engaging in sex. In fact, the NT not only upholds the stance that sex must be reserved for marriage, it actually makes it stronger! Jesus does this in Matthew 5:27-29: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.” That’s right! According to Jesus, adultery is not just the physical act. You also commit adultery when you lust after someone!  It’s also about your inward desires. So, according to Jesus, you don’t have to have physical sex to commit adultery! Ouch! Read more…



Does God’s Way Allow Sex Outside of Marriage? The Bible’s Teaching

After a couple of blogs setting up the role of the Bible in guiding how we live for Jesus, we now are positioned to better tackle the question of sex outside of marriage. Remember, we begin by listening to Scripture rather than hoping Scripture will say what we want it to say! The Bible will guide us, but we have to receive it as words of life!

Read more…