Category Archives: Sin is not Good

Reflections on “the problem of evil”

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I have been reflecting on Uncle Tom’s Cabin, it has made me think about “the problem of evil.” In fact, at the end of the book Tom himself, one of the spiritual heroes of the book, is wrestling with the problem himself. In the book, there are all sorts of terrible realities that represent actual events. Injustice after injustice happen to the people in the story, and again, these stories are based on actual real life events.

One could try to do away with these sad and confused thoughts by just saying that slavery ended long ago. However, this does not solve the problem. Evil continues, injustice continues, ramifications continue. Further, there is still slavery. There is still abuse. Some live life as a mere dash in-between agony and futility. That is all they know, tossed on an endless wave of seemingly nothingness. So one does not escape the question by saying things are now good, or at least not so bad. What then is the answer to the pain, the suffering, the injustice?! Why do people, millions of people, live painful lives, just to die in greater pain?

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The Eternality of Hell

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When we interpret “forever” in English, as well as in Greek, context is king. For example, when someone gets back from the DMV and says to us, “that took forever,” what do we interpret that phrase to mean? We take a number of things into account in our interpretation. We understand that it takes a relatively long time at the DMV and we understand that people very often joke about how long it takes at the DMV. We also take into account that the person is standing in front of us saying, “that took forever” which clearly demonstrates that it did not in fact literally take forever.

The person that said “forever” was using it as an expression for “a long time.” However, if that same person said, “God is forever” we would understand that we need to interpret that “forever” differently. Why? Because context is king. And context is telling us that the referent in this case is “God,” not the DMV, and that fact changes the meaning of the word “forever.”

The Bible tells us that certain things are eternal/everlasting. For instance, God is eternal (Rev. 4:9-10), Jesus is alive forevermore (Rev. 1:18), heaven is eternal (Jn. 3:16), and judgment in hell is eternal. If we say judgment in hell is not eternal then we lose grounds for saying that God, Jesus, and heaven are eternal since the same words are explicitly and very intentionally used to express the eternity of each subject under question (and the eternality of hell and heaven are even paralleled in Matthew 25:46).

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Nietzsche: Prophet of Doom (Part 6)

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The Christian Ideal and the Answer to what Ails Us
Apologetics sees the questions in philosophy and religion and points to how Scripture ultimately answers them. Scripture answers Nietzsche’s questions (though perhaps unvocalized) about meaning and hopelessness.

Nietzsche is basically stuck on the Fall but does not understand the rest of the Biblical story that explains our reality. He does not realize that because God does exist and has revealed Himself and made us in His image that we have access to and can know truth. We also see in Scripture that there is more than nothing (nihil), there is hope in Christ. In fact, hope of everything that Nietzsche acknowledged as so wrong being fixed.

Interestingly, we see that we desire a superhero, a savior. We see this truth in all sorts of examples (e.g. The Avengers, Matrix, Batman, Superman, etc.). For Nietzsche, it was the Übermensch that he hoped in.[1] In all of this, we see humanities need for meaning and morality and for a Savior to fix all that we sense is so wrong. What explains all of this? The biblical worldview.[2] Continue reading


America’s Trump Morality

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The difference between Donald Trump and his explicit exploits and many guys on the street is not one of morality. It’s one of power and publicity. Sadly, there are many “average Joe” versions of Donald Trump and Anthony Weiner.[1] I have heard many “men” nearly quote Trump and recount worse exploits in various work environments.

Welcome to America. Welcome to our morality: “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Pleasure,” wherever and however it might be found. This is our county’s mantra, even if not said in so many words.

Much of the American economy is marketed to our lust. Just look at advertising. We all know it, sex sells. Pornography is a booming market and so, sadly, is sex-trafficking.

To hear that Trump has appeared in XXX films and said a lot of bad and very inappropriate stuff is sad. But, it is sadly not surprising.

Are we really shocked by Trump’s inappropriate comments? No. Concerned? Yes.

“Grabbing women by…” whatever is, sadly, much of today’s culture. As a culture, we care about the quick and exciting. We care about bursting bosoms and one night stands. We care about quick fixes, porn, and pleasure at someone else’s expense (especially if no one knows and we can get away with it).

We care about having it our way. We care about following our passions, no matter what they are. We care about people’s freedom to do what feels right. We care about the right for no one to tell us what is right.

Pornography, Tinder, and all the advertisements that feed us represent where we are as a country. It represents the underlying desires of much of America. There’s many mainstream magazines and media forms–Men’s HealthGQ, and many musicians and movies (e.g. Fifty Shades of Grey),–that embody Trump’s morals even if they don’t say it outright.

So, are Trump’s words that surprising? For a presidential candidate, it’s unprecedented but it’s not surprising. That’s where we are as a country. Porn use to be something only under people’s beds and available at seedy XXX theaters but now it’s in our pockets, piped into our living rooms, and greeting us on billboards.[2]

Trump is vocalizing what many men view, say, and others often think. Obviously, I don’t agree with Trump. I think it’s sickening. But I also think we as a country have almost lost grounds on which to critique him. I clearly condemn Trump’s actions but I am afraid that much of America’s moral outrage is a hypocritical contradiction: Trump is made in our own image. 

How can America say pornography is perfectly normal and acceptable and yet condemn the person that lives out what is idolized on the screen? You know what I think?! I think that Trump is not the only problem or the biggest problem; he is a harbinger of things to come and an echo of what has gone before. He is a visualization of many people’s secret sins and inner hearts.

Trump is not excused obviously! He is despicable. However, as has been said, “we see that all the time in movies” and we hear it and watch it on our phones. Trump is a problem but he is not the problem. Trump is fruit from what has been sown for quite some time. He is in many ways, I’m afraid, the personification of many people’s dreams.

What is morality after all? Isn’t it might that makes right? And Trump has plenty of “might.” Or if we measure morality by the social construct theory Trump, sadly, wouldn’t be wrong. The social environment has basically said his actions are not wrong time and time again. After all, aren’t we as people just “matter in motion” and isn’t sex just “an exchange of fluids”?[3]

In Trump’s own words “when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything… Grab ’em by the @#$*!…” And sadly, that is often true. We often do anything for a star, or for money. And sadly, when someone “consents,” when someone lets someone else do… or whatever, we look at it as okay because there was consent.

Perhaps, we can all agree that it’s a shame that Trump made those comments since it reflects poorly upon the USA and offends some, but from a moral point of view on what foundation can America criticize him?

This, friend, is our world. This is where we are. And most people are fine with it.

However, doesn’t Trump’s example make it clear that it is wrong to ever look at a woman as an object in that way? Don’t we see how depraved his statement is? Don’t we see how debauched much of American society is?!

Women are not objects. Men are not objects. Pornography is wrong. And by implication, much of our advertising is wrong too. And many of us are wrong. It’s not just Trump. It’s the way we look at the Kardashians. It’s the way we idolize sexy bodies and always having it our way. It’s the way we forget what’s right and just want what we want. The problem is not just external (Trump), it’s likely to a large part internal (in our own heart).

America, wake up! We made Trump. We are Trump and Trump is us. We can’t have our cake and eat it too. We can’t indulge in licentious sexual “freedom” without the forging of certain “fetters.”

John Adams once said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” Why did he say that? He said it at least in part because if we are not a moral people, a people who believe in a divinely given morality, then we will elect very corrupt officials. We will create and elect people who reflect our own character.

We will, in the words of the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah, pursue worthlessness, and become worthless (Jer. 2:5).

[[Two Postscripts: Please note that I do not support either candidate. 1) I loathe Hilliary Clinton and her pro-abortion stance (see here for example) and don’t trust her. 2) I don’t trust Trump either. Two verses to consider for those trusting Trump because he will (supposedly) “save” the Supreme Court: Ps. 118:9, “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes [or their modern equivalent]” (cf. Ps. 146:3) and Ps. 40:4, “Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust, who does not turn to the proud [certain political candidates], to those who go astray after a lie!” These verses are true even when considering such serious subjects as the future of America and unborn babies.]]

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[1] Actually, it is sadly my own disposition. I am myself not beyond struggling with lust. However, by God’s grace, I am not enslaved to it and loathe porn. I have seen the chaos and curse that sexual sin brings to individuals and society through people close to me.

[2] The porn industry is one of the biggest industries and has the largest presence online. In fact, porn sites get more visitors each month than Netflix, Amazon, and Twitter combined. Pornography is also very potent. I’ve read that it’s as addictive or more addictive as heroin or cocaine. Social media very often, even if it’s not officially labeled pornographic, is teaching and influencing how we think about sex and act out sexually (see e.g. Gail Dines, “Is porn immoral? That doesn’t matter: It’s a public health crisis” in The Washington Post).

[3] E.g. Richard Dawkins has said, “There is a bottom no design, no purpose, no evil, not good, nothing but pointless indifference… We are machines for propagating DNA” (Dawkins, Unweaving the Rainbow)


Sneaky Subtle Stuff

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It’s the steady and unnoticed drip that corrodes the foundation.

It’s the subtle stuff that shapes us. What’s imperceptible impacts us. It’s the little things that don’t seem like a big deal that last. Precisely because they seem little.

When we excuse something, because after-all, it’s only small, we often give refuge to an infectious virus that will destroy. Yes, it’s small. But it will kill. And it will be hard to seek out.

Don’t be ok with the unnoticed drip. Don’t give refuge to a virus.

Destroy what in you destroys. Kill sin.


Desert Soul

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this land is as dead as my soul
 so purge and make new
 even if it means a knife
 i want life

new life
 spring
 make me clean
 new

i want You
 oh God, rescue me
 i'm drowning
 i don't see the light
 all is night 
 an endless cycle down

my soul's diseased
 and I need You please
 because the light is fading
 i'm forgetting You and Your ways
 the Devil's lies seem sweet
 give me swift feet to run
 for I am Your son
 let me not believe his lies
 they are my demise

i need You.

Designer Sex (part 1)

Untitled.pngOur starting points have big consequences, good or bad. Even when buttoning our shirt. If we get the first button wrong we’re going to be misaligned all the way down. And hopefully we catch the problem before we walk out of the house.

It is the same way with sex. It is crucial that we understand from the beginning what God, the designer, intended. We must consider what the Bible, God’s Word, says on the subject.[1]

God’s Good Creation: Designer Sex

What is “Designer Sex”? It is sex the way God intended it to be.[2] It’s not cheap, disrespectful, or damaging. Sex the way God designed it is very good.

“It is tremendously moving to think of God’s original one-flesh companionship. Adam and Eve, before the fall of Eden, had the marvelous capacity of being totally naked, physically and emotionally, with no shame or fear. They reveled in a childlike trust and curiosity—laughing, instinctual honesty, respect and zest for life. It was naked and unashamed with no performance anxiety, inhibitions, pain, or selfish skill deficits. What a relationship and sex life they were able to have as they truly ‘knew’ each other, inside and out!”[3]

God designed man and woman to be together and enjoy each other in harmony with each other and Himself (cf. Gen. 2:18, 24-25). Designer sex, sex the way God intended it to be, is beautiful and God-glorifying.

God lovingly, brilliantly, creatively designed sex. “Doesn’t that tell you a lot about who God really is? Among other things, it tells you that He is ingenious.”[4] God is not trying to keep us from fun when He tells us about the intended design for sex. 

Sex, as it was created to be enjoyed, was very good. There was nothing wrong or shameful about it. However, that’s not always the way it is anymore. Something happened.

The Fall: Romance Ruined

Before the Fall, Adam and Eve were naked and not ashamed, and were able to enjoy unhindered wedded bliss. After the Fall, however, all sorts of problems erupted. Adam and Eve hid from God and each other, as they clothed themselves in shame. They had relational disharmony as they blamed each other.

Men and women today still feel the effects of the Fall. The world is now broken. It is not how it was intended to be.

As a result of the Fall people, even political candidates, say such terrible and disrespectful things as: “when you’re a star… you can do anything… Grab ’em by the @*$#!.” God created all people with worth, not as objects to be groped and used. 

Pornography is a cogent example of the broken world of sin that we all now face.[5]

“Porn is unbelievably devastating. It holds out an ever-increasing promise of satisfaction while simultaneously, gradually removing the ability to be intimate. Porn makes sex purely physical, and when it becomes purely physical, it loses the glory God has designed it to have. You lose that glory even in marriage when sex becomes purely about the physical act of intercourse.”[6]

This is not “designer sex.” It is sad and leads to all sorts of brokenness.[7]

What we face today represents unique pressures and challenges unprecedented in the history of man. When the author of Ecclesiastes said there is “nothing new under the sun” (Eccl. 1:9) he didn’t mean literally. The technology and social media we have today are new but it brings to light the same problems humanity has always had. So, in that sense, there is “nothing new under the sun.” We are fallen. Our hearts need fixed. The external pressures may change but the inner reality of sin remains.

Pornography is not just bad from a biblical perspective it is empirically bad as well.[8] A recent article says, “After 40 years of peer-reviewed research, scholars can say with confidence that porn is an industrial product that shapes how we think about gender, sexuality, relationships, intimacy, sexual violence and gender equality—for the worse.”[9] The article goes on to say that “Extensive scientific research reveals that exposure to and consumption of porn threaten the social, emotional and physical health of individuals, families and communities, and highlights the degree to which porn is a public health crisis rather than a private matter.”[10] 

Sexual malpractice and malfunction is a result of the Fall. Pornography zooms in on the effects of the Fall and shows its full despicable form. It is the debasement of what God created to be intimately enjoyed by two covenant partners.  

When it comes to sex the Bible is not prudish. It “is fully aware of desire, seduction, rape, polygamy, homosexuality, adultery, and sex after age ninety. And that’s just Genesis.”[11] The Bible does not ignore sex. The Bible does not say it’s not a problem. The Bible doesn’t try to fix the problem by saying, “All desire is demonic.”[12]

Yet, as we will see the Bible does instruct us when it comes to sex. Partly because the author of the Bible, ultimately God, knows that “Sexuality is… a powerful force in our lives, with tremendous potential for intimate bonding or harmful behaviors.”[13]

Desires are not innately demonic but they are dangerous. “Ask Tiger Woods. Ask Bill Clinton. Ask Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, and Ted Haggard.”[14] Ask the first two pastors I had as a kid.

Concluding Thoughts

A healthy view of sex understands that it is not bad. Indeed, God created sex as good and it is good when enjoyed as God, the Creator, intended. However, we live in a fallen world and sex is often not carried out the way that God designed and thus leads to innumerable problems. 

We need to understand how God, the Grand Designer, intended sex to function. 

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[1] See Dave Harvey, When Sinners Say “I Do”, 22.

[2] See Kevin Leman, Sheet Music, 14-15.

[3] Douglas E. Rosenau, A Celebration of Sex, 4.

[4] Stephen and Judith Schwambach, For Lovers Only, 127.

[5] We live in a very sexualized age. I know in one sense that there is “nothing new under the sun” (Eccl. 1:9). I know there are pornographic Egyptian hieroglyphics that have been discovered and that there are old Roman bathhouses with pornographic morals on the walls. Yet, never before has porn been so accessible. It’s not just found under your uncle’s bed or in the attic it’s constantly in your hand, just a click away. Here’s some statistics: 90% of children between the ages of eight and sixteen have viewed pornography. The average age of exposure to internet pornography is eleven. The largest consumer of internet pornography is boys ages 12 to 17 (Greg Gibson, Date Different, 80).

The porn industry is one of the biggest industries and has the largest presence online. In fact, porn sites get more visitors each month than Netflix, Amazon, and Twitter combined.

Internet pornography is also very potent. I’ve read that it’s as addictive or more addictive as heroin or cocaine. Social media very often, even if it’s not officially labeled pornographic, is teaching and influencing how we think about sex and act out sexually.

[6] Matt Chandler, The Mingling of Souls, 90-91. He goes on to say, “and you certainly forfeit this glory when you engage in sex outside of marriage. Sex outside of marriage is deliberate disobedience against God’s commands, which are for your good and therefore it is a deliberate forfeiture of your spiritual well-being, as well as your sexual well-being.”

[7] For example, Dr. Kevin Leman says, “If you are having sex before marriage, you are ultimately threatening your own happiness and marital satisfaction. The research couldn’t be clearer” (Kevin Leman, Sheet Music, 17-18).

[8] Actually the word porn is from the Greek word porneía (πορνεία), which is often translated sexual immorality.

[9] Gail Dines, “Is porn immoral? That doesn’t matter: It’s a public health crisis” in The Washington Post.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Douglas Sean O’Donnell, The Song of Solomon: An Invitation to Intimacy, 58.

[12] See Ibid.

[13] Douglas E. Rosenau, A Celebration of Sex, 4.

[14] O’Donnell, The Song of Solomon, 33.”Eros alone is not evil, but eros outside of God’s ethics is” (Ibid.).


Dustin Kensrue – This Is War

Thought provoking song and video. 

 

“This Is War,”  Allen Swoope and Dustin Kensrue:

“This is war like you ain’t seen.
This winter’s long, it’s cold and mean.
With hangdog hearts we stood condemned,
But the tide turns now at Bethlehem.

This is war and born tonight,
The Word as flesh, the Lord of Light,
The Son of God, the low-born king;
Who demons fear, of whom angels sing.

This is war on sin and death;
The dark will take it’s final breath.
It shakes the earth, confounds all plans;
The mystery of God as man.”

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”     

~Revelation 21:4

Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus, Come! 


The Contradiction that is Humanity

East of Eden, this trance in which were caught. Serpents all around, lies within, lies without. Death, death, unspoken though it be, prevails. Prevailing misery, wrapped in supposed ecstasy. Whisper, whisper; slither near, they speak the lies into my ear. Sell it all, the order built tall, fails. Embrace it all, accept all, end null. Trudge on and live and die, for what do we expire? Only all we desire. Endless cycle of misery, never free. Eat the apple, embrace the noose. Slither near, oh yes, my dear. Come here, constrict me. Worthless cycle, the viper of this world, strikes fast yet the venom kills slow. How strange, but the hand that feeds me, bites me. Diluted profit, fruitless field, this the futility that we yield. Strive for the Garden, yet we embrace the curse; oh, the contradiction that is humanity.

East of Eden, for a season, the King will soon return. Every foe vanquished, for every thorn a rose. The King, He soon shall reign! Then, the refrain, forever remain, “life, life!” The serpent is gone, we sing a new song forever of our Savior. We ate of the tree, He died on a tree to be the curse we created, and with His death, death’s defeated.


Desecration and De-creation via the Red-Light District

I was in Germany for my job a few years ago. I got to wander the streets of Nuremberg with a few friends. It was a great time until…

Until my friends just happened to stumble upon the red-light district. I saw a woman, made in the image of God, standing naked in the arch of a door offering herself up for purchase. It was very sad.

…Imagine a dozen roses being trampled underfoot and ground into the pavement. Or your families heirloom vase being thrown crashing to the ground. The intended beautiful design gravely marred and belittled…

We didn’t walk down the street.

I wouldn’t.

…Nuremberg is a beautiful city. The city from all I could tell is thriving. Yet it has places, I suppose like any city, where the thin veneer has washed away and the anti-creation is showing. Where the inner man is as visible as the graffiti on the walls…

Here’s a poem I wrote later that day:

Strained by tears that she wears inside
Never to hide

Ever inspected for beauty
Yet coldly rejected

Infected by the strain
The strain of prideful lust

Her bosom embraced but not with kind face
Ever the look of lust

She is a mere possession
A brief obsession
To use and then discard
Disregard that she’s a person and use her for your end

Ageless beauty,
clothed in agony,
the only veil she knows

She roams the streets
Anything for the right price

O’ but this woman that we deface
Is more than a nice face

Men may have her
and hate her
but for her,
Christ He died!

Jesus cries, Daughter!
You are my daughter, no whore!

I will embrace and wipe your tears
I will love and calm your fears

O’ my child, for you I weep
I long to tenderly clothe you
To clothe you with love

To you, show the meaning of true love

When Jesus our King returns
Clean will be the streets

 


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