Tag Archive | The Fall

Proof of God’s Grace #2: Resurrecting Grace

In this series of posts we are looking at proof of God’s grace (Planned, Resurrecting, Outrageous, Overcoming, and Forever grace [1]). In the previous post we looked at Planned Grace. In this post we are looking at…

Resurrecting Grace

The Bible teaches that people need resurrected or brought to life spiritually because they are spiritually dead and don’t go to God apart from the work of the Holy Spirit. Why is this the case? And where does the Bible teach this?

People do not turn to God apart from the Spirit’s intervening grace of regeneration because they are dead (Eph. 2:1-5), slaves of sin (Rom. 6:20), deceitful and desperately wicked (Jer. 17:9 cf. Gen. 6:5; Ps. 51:5), and blinded by Satan so they don’t see the glory of God in the face of Christ (2 Cor. 4:4ff).

In our natural state since the Fall we are dead in trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1). We follow “the course of this world,” “the prince of the power of the air,” and “the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience” (v. 2). That is how “we all once lived in the passions of our flesh” (v. 3).

Read More…

Set Us Free

Paradise,
polluted and poisoned.

Our resounding plea:
“Set us free.”

We are writhing and reeling from the Fall.

Our affections wander and wane,
our struggles remain.

O’ Lord set us free.

We fettered our shackles,
we tossed the key.

But O’ Messiah, set us free.

 

 

How should Christian art be informed by the Christian worldview? (part 4)

We have already made some important observations about how the Christian worldview impacts Christian art. In this post, we are going to… 

Consider the Crash

Man disobeyed and rebelled (Gen. 2:16-17; 3:6) and this brought spiritual and physical death (Gen. 2:17; 3:19), pain (3:16-17), difficulties (3:18-19), and separation from God (3:23-24). This is the bad news that we all live in (so, in a future post, we’ll consider our current condition). 

In Genesis 3:1-24 we see the Fall of humanity. We see various forms of death given birth to. We see “’an ever-growing avalanche of sin, a continually widening chasm between man and God’. It progresses from disobedience, to murder, to indiscriminate killing, to titanic lust, to total corruption, and uncontrolled violence.”[1] Sin truly brings a litany of death. “Disease, genetic disorders, famine, natural disasters, aging, and death itself are as much the result of sin as are oppression, war, crime, and violence. We have lost God’s shalom—physically, spiritually, socially, psychologically, culturally. Things now fall apart.”[2] Sin opens Pandora’s box and unleashes a horde of evil.

As we have seen, God’s creation was intended to be good, beautiful, and aesthetically pleasing to our senses, emotions, and intellect beyond what we can imagine. So, in the Fall, we see we have marred more than the mediocre; we have marred the Michelangelos of the world. We have marred superb beauty and made it unbelievably hideous. 

Read More…

Designer Sex (part 1)

Our 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. 

________________________

[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.). Gary Thomas says, “Sex is a powerful tool. In a healthy marriage, used appropriately, it can be nothing short of glorious. As people who believe God is the Creator of our bodies and our sexuality, we should be eager to embrace His good handiwork. But know this: the more powerful the tool, the more training and caution you need when learning to use it” (The Sacred Search, 201)

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.

O’ for the Crash

Smug death
  Infection
    Guided by misdirection

I fall to the grave
  Ablaze
    In false glory

The story goes on
  Repeated with repugnant nausea
    I fall

O’ for the crash
  For glue
    To hold and make new

Made awake
  Invigorated bliss
    Subtle kiss
    now bursting

O’ for light
O’ dawn blaze
  Inflame my gaze
  No more night
    Set it to flight

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

 

%d bloggers like this: