One For All You Husbands/Fathers Out There

I am a pastor, yes, but I need reminding that my first ministry is my family.  Be reminded with me, enjoy 🙂

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Moving Too Much? Or Not Moving Enough?

In Genesis 3:16 God tells the woman that her “...desire will be for her husband.”

The original Hebrew carries a weight to this word “for” that is not always present in the english.  It could very well mean,“…your desire will be against your husband.”  Against?  Yes.  Prior to this point in history, the woman was Adam’s helpmate, submitting to him for the sake of spreading God’s image throughout the world.  Now, it is not so.  Sin has come, and has radically impacted and reversed the roles of men and women.

Where men originally were leaders, they now follow Adam and shrink away from doing what they were made to do, leading.  Where women originally were followers, they now follow Eve and move forward too much toward taking Adam’s role as her own.  In both cases, it is sin to act out of our natural roles.  Men are too quick to hide and be passive, and don’t act like men.  Rather than encouraging men to do what they were made to do, women too quickly take over the reigns, and don’t act like women.

Don’t hear me as a woman-hater or a man lover, but as Biblical.

There are massive truths that manhood portrays about God, like His justice, and His faithfulness to always show up in time of need.  Also, there are massive truths that womanhood portrays about God, like His mercy, grace, love, and tenderness.  Manhood cannot show certain things about God that womanhood gloriously does, and visa-versa.  Larry Crabb has seen this as well and made a comment I agree with, “There is something in Biblical manhood that needs to start moving and there is something in Biblical womanhood that needs to stop moving.”

So I ask you, are you not moving enough, or moving too much?

Why I Left ‘The Reformed Pubcast’ – Grow Up, Settle Down, Keep Reforming

 

The Reformed Pubcast consists of two guys who host a podcast on Reformed theology and beer.  I love Reformed theology and I like beer too.  The podcast begins with the two hosts discussing the beer they’re drinking while recording the podcast and then it moves onto theology afterwards.  The Reformed Pubcast grew in it’s scope very fast, gained a large audience, even making the top podcast list on iTunes, and has a Facebook group which is currently about 5,000 strong.

I used to listen to this podcast. I used to be in the Facebook group – I am no longer.

Why?  Let me explain.

Being reformed theologically puts one a very strange position as a pastor.  I pastor just outside of North Tampa Bay, Florida and it is NOT a reformed culture at all.  It is very charismatic, arminian, man-centered, and seeker sensitive.  Naturally I am one of the few reformed guys in my area and if I meet another pastor/theologian near me who is reformed I become very excited because there seems to be so few near me.  So as you can imagine when I first heard of this podcast from a close friend I became very excited.  I began listening to it weekly, and became a member of the Facebook group too.  From my vantage point it looked like I had found like-minded community, something pastors don’t always have.

But as I continued listening to the podcast and interacting with the Facebook group one thing became increasingly apparent to me.  It seemed that these guys really do love Christ, that they love theology, and that they love the historic reformed heritage – but two things kept popping into my mind that put me off a bit.

First, an over-emphasis on alcohol.  I know Les and Tanner (the hosts) begin the show with discussing beer, how it is made, good beer, bad beer, and overall beer 101 but it became to be a central topic on the show and in the Facebook group.  This bothered me, so I stopped listening to the podcast and only participated in the Facebook group.  Now, those of you who know me know that I am not against beer.  I like beer, I drink beer.  BUT I am very against Christians celebrating alcohol in any sense, the abuse of alcohol in drunkenness, the insane amount of money people spend to buy it, and the horrendous impact it has had on many lives.  The Pubcast’s emphasis on beer is too much for my liking.  I don’t think it takes the consequences of alcohol seriously, or the struggle certain people have with it.  It borders on sin, and has crossed the line at times by celebrating/flaunting our Christian liberty before God and others.

Second, immaturity.  This is really the main issue at stake for me.  After listening to a few of the podcasts I noticed that there was immature coarse joking in it and when you over-emphasize the use of alcohol while cracking jokes and acting like adolescent boy you’ve simply gone too far to be helpful to anyone in the long term.  In my opinion, and it’s just that, the Pubcast is full of people who fall into the category of “Young, Restless, and Reformed.”  This is the “New Calvinism” of my generation, of which I am a part of.  This group is largely reformed in soteriology, but not in practice.  What I mean by that is they resemble their heroes like Mark Driscoll: reformed in doctrine while entrenched in modern day hip culture.

I once was proud to call myself part of the YRR (Young, Restless, & Reformed) group and interestingly enough during the days I was proud to use and promote that label I also was very keen in flaunting my use of Christian liberty before both the Church and the World.  Of course I didn’t think I was doing this at the time (hindsight is always 20/20 right?) but that is exactly what I was doing.  I was in my mid 20’s, I thought we YRR’s were the cutting edge of Christianity, the right ones, who not only had right doctrine but trendy living and solid reformed rap as well.  Why couldn’t everyone else see that this was the way to live the Christian life?  Why couldn’t they see that this is the way to reach the lost, to show them that they could be cool AND have Jesus as well?  During this time in my life I slowly began to think that we YRR’s had arrived.  We hadn’t,

Please don’t hear me saying 100% of the Reformed Pubcast Members fall into this category, they don’t.  I was squarely in the YRR at one time in my life and I can now spot those who are in similar trajectories easier because of my mistakes.  Not all that I did during those days was bad, but what I couldn’t see then and what I can see clearly now is that I wasn’t really trying to reach the lost around me, or impact the world, or even show the Church and the World how to live the Christian life.  What I was doing was being very selfish and masking it like it was the godly thing to do.  That was sin, and I have repented for such non-sense.

Now back to the Pubcast.  The self absorption and flaunting of my Christian liberty I got caught up with during my mid-20’s is by and large what I see plaguing the members of the ‘Reformed Pubcast.’  For this reason I have left the group.  Why?  Because though I am solidly within the reformed camp, I am no longer young or restless.  Should the other members of the pub cast leave as well?  Sure maybe, that’s for each of them to decide.  What they should do is grow up from boys to men and that is the point of why I’m writing this.

The point of writing this post is that the reformed young people of today (who are represented in the Pubcast) need to be called out to not only reform their doctrine in line with Scripture, but reform their lives as well.  What does this look like?  Simple.  It looks like boys growing into men, and owning the call to sacrificially give up ourselves in Christ-like obedience to others.  When we come to the end of ourselves, we find the beginning of life in Christ.

I leave you with John MacArthur’s words of advice to the YRR crowd: “Grow up, settle down, keep reforming.”

4 Dangers for Complementarians

Gavin Ortlund:

I am not ashamed to be complementarian. It has never been a dirty word for me, because I’ve grown up seeing godly expressions of it in my family, and hearing compelling arguments for it from my ministry heroes. More than anything, C. S. Lewis books like Perelandra have shaped my thinking about gender. (For anyone curious, I’ve summed up why I’m complementarian here.)

Though I don’t particularly emphasize this point in my theology, it often generates a strong reaction when it comes up. In my setting in Southern California, actually, it is often regarded as antiquated and inherently sexist. And throughout our culture, it seems to be getting only more and more controversial to affirm, with the TGC Confessional Statement, that “men and women are not simply interchangeable, but rather they complement each other in mutually enriching ways.” We might expect even stronger backlash in the years and decades ahead.

But as I’ve grown in my friendships with people on different sides of this issue, I’ve observed many who are less hostile to the idea of complementarianism but nevertheless avoid the term. People in this demographic fall somewhere between complementarianism and egalitarianism; they often have a high view of Scripture; they often oppose aggressive feminism; they often like some complementarian ministers (say, Francis Chan or Tim Keller); they may even line up pretty closely to complementarianism on paper.

Why, then, do they reject the term? Sometimes they are simply confused or conflicted on the issue, but most often, they had a bad experience with a particular person or group that goes under the “complementarian” label.

I think we need to engage with people in this middle demographic differently than we do with more aggressive egalitarians and feminists. And I don’t think it’s a sign of compromise to listen to some of their critiques. After all, some of the problems they are reacting against are real. At times complementarians have used provocative and unhelpful language; at times we have been ungentle in our tone; at times we have overstated what complementarianism entails; and tragically, in some complementarian cultures the gifts and contributions of women have been squelched or at least muted.

Of course, many people will disagree with complementarianism—often quite vehemently—no matter what we say or do. But the truth is offensive enough without our help. We don’t need to add to its offense with our own faults and foibles. I therefore list four dangers to which we should be particularly sensitive, even while we stand firm in the face of pressure from our more aggressive critics.

1. Stereotyping gender roles.

In cultures where complementarianism is embraced, it can be all too easy to confuse the essence of masculinity or femininity with one particular expression of it. But marriages and church cultures patterned after complementarian convictions will not always look the same; they take on shape and beauty as expressed through particular personalities, cultural locations, and relationship dynamics. The foundational principles do not change, of course—but the exact feel does. Kathy Keller puts this well in The Meaning of Marriage: “the basic roles—of leader and helper—are binding, but every couple must work out how that will be expressed within their marriage.”

In a recent interview about their helpful book on the topic, Andreas and Margaret Köstenberger put it like this: “Scripture doesn’t give a lot of detail as to how God’s design for man and woman is to be worked out, so a traditional division of labor (women in the kitchen, changing diapers; men at work letting women do all household chores) doesn’t square with the biblical design.”

For people who have grown up in a home in which the wife tends to do the dishes, laundry, and cleaning, and the husband tends to work a job, mow the lawn, and get the oil changed, it can be only too natural to simply assume that this is what complementarianism should always look like. So we should be careful to clarify for people—most of whom have not studied this issue in depth—that embracing complementarianism need not always require embracing these kinds of culturally conditioned roles.

Moreover, household divisions of labor are not the only area where this principle applies. To take just one more example, consider the potential for stereotype with respect to personality or temperament. Among those operating with a more traditional mindset, one often hears claims like these:

  • guys are less sensitive or less emotional than girls
  • guys are less talkative than girls
  • guys like sports more than girls

And so on and so forth. It is unfortunate when people stumble over complementarianism because they associate it with such assertions; they are stereotypes, not biblical mandates.

2. Failing to clearly distinguish complementarianism from various kinds of patriarchalism and hierarchicalism.

Many people in our culture think only in two categories on the meaning of gender: conservative vs. progressive. But in truth, biblical complementarianism—like the gospel it pictures—will subvert both progressive, egalitarian mindsets as well as traditional, hierarchical/patriarchal mindsets that tend to assign men a more basic role in society than women. It will stand out as different, as beautiful, as an alternative, not merely in 21st century Manhattan, but also in ancient India, medieval Europe, and 1950s America.

Because we may err in multiple directions, it is not enough simply to affirm complementarianism over and against egalitarianism. We must also affirm complementarianism over and against any other alternative to the beauty of Ephesians 5. If people only hear us pushing in one direction, we make it easier for people to lump us together with others pushing in the opposite direction. We say, “egalitarianism is wrong”; they hear, “patriarchalism is right.” If we distinguish the biblical view of gender from both its progressive and conservative alternatives, we position people better to perceive its nuance and beauty and depth.

3. Defending complementarianism zealously, but failing to live it out beautifully.

There is a real danger at hand when the (difficult) goal of defending complementarianism becomes so prominent in our vision that it sidelines the (even more difficult) goal of living it out in a beautiful, life-giving way. Theological integrity is hard and important; godliness and love equally important, and probably harder. But to affirm the truth without also applying it to ourselves is not just incomplete: it is actually a step backward.

We should labor to show that complementarianism is not merely biblical, but beautiful. Our target is not merely “faithful” or “right”; it is also “wise” and “winsome.” Insofar as depends on us, our church cultures should be places where people genuinely feel welcomed, valued, safe. Doubtless some will see any expression of complementarianism as a threat. But others may say, upon experiencing church cultures following the example of Christ (including his respect for women), “This is beautiful. This makes sense. I see how this can work.”

4. Failing to celebrate the contribution of women.

We should be enthusiastic about the myriad ways that God calls and uses women. Too often this comes across as a concession from complementarians, rather than something to rejoice in. And too many complementarian churches are not just “male led,” but “male heavy” in their various ministry spheres.

In the Bible, women are involved in ministry in many different ways. Just to pick out one example: many women throughout the Old Testament were prophets (Miriam, Deborah, Huldah, and so on), and in the New Testament the gift of prophecy is clearly given to both men and women (Acts 2:17-1821:91 Corinthians 11:5). In our complementarian settings, do we seek to accommodate anything like this example? Even if we are cessationist, do we seek to implement the principle? Do we make equal room for both genders to exercise their spiritual gifts toward the body?

May we not be more afraid of affirming what is forbidden than we are of forbidding what is affirmed. And whichever error we are tempted toward on this issue, may the Lord give us grace to find the narrow path marked by both courage and humility, the path that leads to both truth and beauty.

Gavin Ortlund is an editor at The Gospel Coalition, associate pastor at Sierra Madre Congregational Church, and PhD student at Fuller Theological Seminary in historical theology. He and his wife Esther live in Sierra Madre, California. They have one son and a daughter on the way. Gavin blogs regularly at Soliloquium. You can follow him on Twitter.

Ray Rice, Roger Goodell, & the Easily Swayed “Mob”

Surely I’m not the only one confused about how people are responding to the Ray Rice fiasco right?  I mean, really?  At the moment you cannot find out anything else about the sporting world.  ESPN, almost every news network, all over the web, blogs going nuts, etc.  It is puzzling to me that so many people are reacting so strongly against Ray Rice (and now Roger Goodell) when just a few days ago they were giving him a standing ovation as he walked into the stadium.  What did these fans, applauding Rice, think happened in that elevator?  That she tripped?  He was pulling out the unconscious body of his fiancé, yet now everyone has turned against Rice since we’ve all seen the video of what took place.  It’s amazing to me how quickly the “mob” of public opinion can turn against someone.  This reveals, to me, that public opinion really is a mob that is easily swayed.  This mob doesn’t care about truth, life, death, abuse, murder, (etc.) it only cares about what other people tell them to care about.

Matt Walsh has a few words of wisdom for us all:

This week, the entire country erupted with outrage after watching the video of (former) Ravens running back Ray Rice knocking his then-fiancée unconscious in a casino elevator. I won’t link to it here. I’m sure you’ve already seen it. If you’ve watched ESPN for any five minute span in the last 48 hours, you’ve likely been treated to the footage 17 times or so.

As you’re probably aware, when the incident happened several months ago, the league, the Ravens, and the New Jersey criminal justice system initially determined that it was minor enough to warrant either a light punishment or none at all.

Then on Monday something changed, and now Rice has been fired from the team, indefinitely suspended by the league, and admonished by every famous athlete, media member, celebrity, and politician in the hemisphere. As usual, a giant game of “I’m More Outraged Than You!” has broken out all around us, with Keith Olbermann taking the prize by calling for the ‘expulsion’ or resignation of the NFL commissioner, the senior vice president of the NFL, the chief counsel of the NFL, the GM of the Ravens, the president of the Ravens, the judge who presided over the case, the prosecutor, and the assistant prosecutor. Next, presumably, we’d go after the prosecutor’s secretary, the secretary’s housecleaner, and the housecleaner’s pet gerbil.

So, what changed, you ask? Well, to be specific, nothing. Nothing at all. We already knew that Rice struck a woman so hard that she lost consciousness. We’ve known that for months. The only difference is that today we can see it happen on video. The footage is disturbing, but it’s also exactly what anyone with five functioning brain cells would expect it to look like. If you weren’t calling for the NFL to be disbanded, Atlantic City to be demolished, and Ray Rice to be publicly flogged before this video leaked, I’m not sure why you’d be calling for it now. Unless, of course, you’re the type who looks at the trending topics on Twitter and calibrates your ‘outrage’ accordingly.

In any case, put the media’s theatrics and the NFL’s incompetence aside, and you’re left with, perhaps, some reason to be encouraged by the reaction to the Ray Rice drama.

The public at large has been pretty well ticked off about all of this from the very beginning. Go back to February or March of this year and you probably heard your coworkers, neighbors, friends — basically any normal person, anywhere in the country — insisting that Rice ought to face swift and harsh punishment for his heinous crime. Sure, a few knuckle draggers here and there might have defended his actions, claiming that his fiancée ‘had it coming’ or some such nonsense, but the majority view was, is, and always has been extremely opposed to Ray Rice and his shameful deed.

Why?

It seems like a stupid question, I know — but why?

Is it because Rice is a famous athlete and should be a better role model? Yes, but athletes quite frequently do things unbefitting their alleged role model status, so why the shock and exasperation over this? Is it because Rice is a strong, physically imposing football player and his victim was so completely outmatched? Yes, but sports stars get into fights in bars and clubs relatively regularly, and nobody ever stops to compare the weight classes of those involved. Is it because Rice and his victim were supposed to be in a loving relationship? Yes, but a man is also in a loving relationship with his brother (though not in the same way, one would hope), yet I doubt Rice would be enduring this degree of backlash had he punched his male sibling in the head.

So what is primarily driving this storm of righteous and wholly warranted indignation? Simple: Ray Rice is a man and his victim is a woman. Take away that one detail, and nobody would be talking about any of this.

There is a clear double standard — or at least a different standard — applied to men in these situations, and there should be. We all, or most of us, seem to have arrived at a consensus on this.

But why?

Why do the genders matter here?

In this day and age, when we can’t seem to come to an agreement on any ethical question at all, why do we remain so predominantly enraged at the idea of a man beating a woman? With all of our progressive sensibilities and our ‘evolved’ understanding that there aren’t any inherent differences between the sexes, why do we explode with so much ire when a man lays his hands on a person who is not a man?

I suppose if you ask the average Joe or Jane to explain their feelings, they might offer up some vague sermon about how no human being should ever hit another human being, and all violence against anyone is unacceptable.

It’s true, of course, that unjustified violence against an innocent person is always wrong and never excusable, but why do we all feel such a particularly strong disgust at this kind of violence?

We speak so fervently of the equality of the sexes; we talk about how men and women are the same and chivalry is outdated, but we still see something exceptionally disordered and perverse about a man striking a woman. We can tell that it’s different from a man hitting a man, or a woman hitting a man, and we treat it differently, just as we should. That’s not to say that these other forms of violence are acceptable — just that they’re different. We all know it.

But why?

Why is the situation worse because he’s a man and she’s a woman? Why does that make it more despicable, more brutal, and more intolerable? Violence should always be discouraged, but we do so with much more urgency in cases like these.

Keep in mind: the fury directed at Rice isn’t rooted solely in the fact that he knocked her out. Had she emerged from that elevator conscious and uninjured, Rice would still be persona non grata, and deservedly so. We are repulsed at the very idea of a man beating a woman. We loathe it on principle. We say we are equally as appalled by all other forms of violence, but that’s a lie. After all, by my reading of that video, Rice’s fiancée did attack him first. She walked by him on the way to the elevator and smacked him. Then she appeared to have possibly struck him again inside the elevator.

[**Update: according to a few reports I’ve read, Rice spit on his fiancée twice, provoking her to hit him. He’s an abusive, violent bully either way, but this detail just makes the whole thing all the more despicable.]

Any honest person must admit that if the gender composition had been different, but everything else about the incident remained the same, we would not be nearly as upset about it. What if a man had slapped Ray Rice, then got into an elevator with him, hit him once more, then, after Rice retreated to the other side of the elevator, the man aggressively came after him again? Would Rice still be Public Enemy #1 if he knocked the guy to the ground?

No, of course not.

What if Rice and his fiancée switched sides in this? Unlikely, I realize, but follow the hypothetical. What if Janay spat on Rice and he smacked her in retaliation, and then, after some kind of altercation in the elevator, Janay leveled Rice and left him unconscious on the floor? Would we be equally as furious at the woman in that situation?

Not a chance. You know it. I know it. Everyone knows it.

So if men and women are equal and everything is exactly the same, why would the reaction to this scenario be dramatically different if we changed the sexes of those involved?

There’s no use pretending that our reaction wouldn’t be different. You won’t fool yourself, or me, or anyone. There is a double standard. A different standard. Why?

We might as well just confront this question. It’s a scary thing to do, I realize. We don’t want to look any closer at this because know that the answer will devastate nearly all of our egalitarian leftwing feminist principles.

Why? Well, finally, I’ll propose an answer to the riddle: when we heap extra scorn on the abusers of women, we acknowledge that men and women are separate, distinct, and unique creatures. And we know that to acknowledge our separateness and distinctiveness is to contemplate the possibility that men and women have different roles in society, different duties, different responsibilities, and different purposes.

And, though few will say it anymore, we know that among a man’s duties is that ever-important charge to protect and honor women. Men are meant to use their strength to defend women against harm. When a man betrays this responsibility, we act as though he’s turned the world upside down, because he has. The man is not just a generic ‘aggressor’; he is a traitor. He has deserted his post. He was given his strength for a reason. It is supposed to be a shield for the women and children in his life, but he has used it as a weapon against them.

To use what is uniquely masculine in a humble, serving, and protective way — that is the essence of chivalry. We become this expressly furious and impassioned about a man’s abuse of a woman because he has so shirked and abandoned his manly, chivalrous duty. That is what drives our response to this kind of thing, no matter how progressive we otherwise pretend to be.

Dig to the bottom of everything — ignore most of the modern liberal “gender theory” rhetoric — and you will still find the remnants of chivalry. And if not the remnants of chivalry itself, then the remnants of a desire for it. Despite all of our academic arguments to the contrary, still most of us know, at a deep and visceral level, that men and women are different and this difference means something.

That’s why men should not hit women. It’s more than just ‘they’re people.’ It’s also that ‘they’re women,’ and that distinction is as significant as most of us already treat it.

And then comes the inevitable retort: “But women shouldn’t hit men!”

Yes, obviously.

Nobody is condoning violence against men just by condemning violence against women. Not everything is a competition. It’s just particularly and specially important that we instill in our men the commandment that he should never physically abuse a woman. We must plant in him a code of honor that propels him to defend the women in his life.

If men were ever to collectively determine that they can and should use their physical advantages to oppress and subjugate women and children, our civilization (or what’s left of it) would collapse. Barbarism and brutality would reign supreme, and our society would eat itself from the inside. Just look at some of the countries in the Middle East and you’ll have a good idea as to where things can go when the males in a culture decide to act like brutes and tyrants rather than gentlemen.

Still, plenty of people will contend that the anti-violence message should be more broad and inclusive. We shouldn’t specifically and categorically instruct men to keep their hands off of women; we should instead universally tell people to keep their hands off of people. All violence is the same and all people are the same, they’ll argue. But let this even-handed pragmatist get a call from the principal informing him that his son punched Susie in the face and broke her nose, and we’ll see if he feels exactly the same as he would if the victim’s name was Johnny or Billy or Steve.

If he does, then there’s something wrong. But he probably won’t, because no amount of liberal feminist brainwashing can ever really erase our instinctual and innate understanding that men are not women and women are not men. And whatever else that means, it certainly at least means that it is the man’s job to be the protector.

So in the end it seems that chivalry is not quite dead, no matter how hard we try to kill it.

And thank God for that.

If you are a victim of domestic abuse, please seek help. Here is the number to the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1 800 799 7233

Missions & Masturbation – How John Piper Almost Got Fired

In September of 1984 John Piper almost got fired from his church for writing an article in the churches magazine entitled, “Missions & Masturbation.”  He did not get fired, but he did almost get fired.  You can see why when you read the article below.  So read carefully what follows – it can be graphic.   But nonetheless it is necessary to teach on these things because issues of sexuality affect every single person who has ever existed.

John Piper:

Masturbation is the experience of sexual orgasm produced by self-stimulation. Virtually every man and almost as many women have tried it. It is a regular practice of most single men.

One of the major forces preventing young people from obeying the call of God into vocational Christian service is defeat in the area of lust. A teenager hears a challenging call to throw himself into the cause of world evangelization. He feels the promptings of the Holy Spirit. He tastes the thrill of following the King of kings into battle. But he does not obey because he is masturbating regularly. He feels guilty. He can hardly imagine witnessing to a pretty girl about the eternal plight of her soul, because he has so habitually looked at girls naked in his imagination. So he feels unworthy and unable to obey the call of God. Masturbation becomes the enemy of missions.

Is masturbation wrong? Let me address the issue mainly for men. I cannot imagine sexual orgasm in the loins without sexual image in the mind. I know there are nocturnal emissions, which I regard as innocent and helpful, but I doubt that they are ever orgasmic apart from a sexual dream that supplies the necessary image in the mind. Evidently God has constituted the connection between sexual orgasm and sexual thought in such a way that the force and pleasure of orgasm is dependent on the thought or images in our minds.

Therefore in order to masturbate, it is necessary to get vivid and exciting thoughts or images into the mind. This can be done by pure imagination or by pictures or movies or stories or real persons. These images always involve women as sexual objects. I use the word “object” because in order for a woman to be a true sexual “subject” in our imagination she must in reality be one with whom we are experiencing what we are imagining. This is not the case with masturbation.

So I vote no on masturbation. There may be other reasons why it is wrong. For now I rest my vote on the inevitable sexual images which accompany masturbation and which turn women into sexual objects. The sexual thoughts that enable masturbation do not help any man to treat women with greater respect. Therefore masturbation produces real and legitimate guilt and stands in the way of obedience.

Three encouragements to single men:

  1. You are not alone in the battle.
  2. Periodic failure in this area no more disqualifies you from ministry than periodic failures of impatience (which is also a sin).
  3. Pursue the expulsive power of a new affection. I walked by a whole section of “photography” books at the Walker Art Center last Thursday empowered by the better pleasure of feeling Christ conquer the temptation to look.

For the sake of your power,

Pastor John