Thursday, May 28, 2009

SEX... it's always an issue

A friend of mine wrote a blog awhile back on sex before marriage and really opened up some honest dialogue. You can read it in it's original context here... or just read on below. His name is Paul Kind. Hope you enjoy it.

Trouble Talk Part 3 :: Sex Before Marriage

NOTE: This is not an autobiographical nor biographical scenario.

Imagine you're a believer, a follower of Christ. Transition into adulthood has cast doubt on a lot of what you once thought faith in Jesus meant. For example, there are less things today that you hold strongly to than you once did - your "gray areas" have grown by leaps and bounds. However, you still unreservedly believe that loving God and loving people are at the crux of how you want to live your life. Now imagine you're unmarried and without a significant other. Then she comes along (insert he if that suits you better). You have a connection with this person unlike any you've ever had before. It's well beyond the fact that she is attractive physically, everything about her is intriguing. Your conversations with her resonate to the depths of your soul; you're connecting on seemingly every level. But the thing that throws you off a bit is she's not a Christian. You never would have thought you could have such a connection with an unbeliever. She's certainly no heathen. She's caring, generous, active in the community, cognizant of spiritual matters, and in many ways much more pleasant to be around than many Christians you've known. She's all that you've ever dreamed of - even a person of faith - just not exactly the Christian faith as you've traditionally understood it. Four years ago you would not have entertained the idea of being in a relationship ("yoked") with an unbeliever, but in this season of "gray areas" and "asking lots of questions about faith" you go a different direction. You dive headfirst into a relationship with this wonderful, faith-filled person.

As one might expect in a blossoming relationship, the physical aspect of the relationship comes to the fore before too long. She's more than willing and you're definitely wanting. If you would take the time to stop and think about it the Christian mantra might ring in your ears - "True Love Waits!" If you wanted to you could dig around in your junk drawer and come out with at least four purity pledges signed between the ages of eleven and seventeen. But the thing is you aren't really stopping to think about it too much, and you aren't dusting off those purity pledges. In fact you're kind of agreeing with her when she asks, "Why? Why would you not have sex?" She sees it as a natural expression of the relationship you have with one another and everything in you is agreeing. You're eager for the Christian faith to be attractive to her, and yet all you have to say on this issue is "I shouldn't do it; I shouldn't have sex before marriage."

Again she asks, "Why?" And you're left asking yourself, "Do I really believe this? Why not have sex?"


This is a tough scenario unmarried believers are facing all over the place. A number of my friends have articulated situations not too distant from the made-up one above. What would you say to help us out? Why not have sex before marriage?

The traditional answers are clear:

  • Risk of sickness, infertility, or even death from STD's.
  • Risk of emotional trauma from relationship fallout - both with the significant other and the friends & family that you might be breaking trust with.
  • Effects on marriage relationship one day.
  • Risk of getting her pregnant.
  • The Bible says not to.
Yet one could easily find themself in a place where:

  • STD's aren't really in the picture.
  • And you're convinced that emotional trauma is always a risk in relationships whether sexual or not.
  • And you don't really see how having sex is going to be any different from doing this, that, or the other thing you already did in various relationships.
  • And you use birth control.
  • And you're not convinced that "porneia" (Greek work often translated as "fornication" or "sexual immorality") or the Bible for that matter is speaking against monogomous loving relationships, but more so against promiscuity or abusive sexual relations.
So what then? What do you say to help this individual wrestle through this tough situation? Why not have sex before marriage?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Jesus Vs. Rules

A few months ago I was in a conversation wherein I asked/challenged my companion, "What if we just simply gave people the Bible and community and stopped trying to make up rules that aren't to be found anywhere in Scripture"

To which he (to my horror) replied: "Because the Bible would give them too much freedom."

I'm sorry but it as this point that my hackles raise. There are many things that have been said about what the church should do but among that list I have NEVER heard non-attenders/former-believers/critics/the spiritually curious say:

1. I would go to church if only there were more rules.
2. Why can't they just play some more hymns?!... (or music I don't recognize)
3. Pews are my preferred furniture.

Truly shocking is the proclivity of many "Christians" to follow the example of the early Pharisee believers who wanted to circumsize Gentiles (non-Jewish) Christians and demand that they follow the Law of Moses. In Acts 15, Peter (one of Jesus' top 3 followers) says this:

"So why are you now trying to out-god God, loading these new believers down with rules that crushed our ancestors and crushed us, too? Don't we believe that we are saved because the Master Jesus amazingly and out of sheer generosity moved to save us just as he did those from beyond our nation? So what are we arguing about?"

But new believers did need guidelines so later on in Acts 15 Peter, the apostles, and early leaders write a letter giving instructions:

1. Don't be involved with idols
2. Don't served food (such as blood) that is offensive to Jewish believers
3. Guard the morality of sex and marriage

Honestly, that seems like a strange set of rules to me but there is method to it and it has nothing to do with "do's and don'ts" to get to God. These are guidelines set to protect and stimulate the community humanity has with God and each other within the church.

Later Paul (NT author) writes to the church in Corinth and tells them that among people who claim to be Christians you have to hold them to this standard found in Acts 15 but as for outsiders/non-believers we withhold judgment since they haven't signed on board yet. (Scripture here).

Allow me to reiterate this point: it is NOT the church's place to judge the world. It's not our job. Stop doing it. How is it helpful to point out the obvious? Yes, the Bible does discuss specific behavioral patterns that are and are not "godly" but these make about as much sense to a non-believer or brand-new believer as you being informed that you are in violation of an Islamic-based law in the Middle-East. Do you care about that? Oh, well, they don't care either.

So over the next weeks we are going to reapply the guidelines in Acts 15 to the de-churched and un-churched of today's world. Our list looks like this:

1. Sex and dating
2. Things and money
3. Music, beer, and food

Hope you can follow along. We will also be posting talks to iTunes under Crux KC Online.

Remember, Christ told us to judge as we wanted to be judged. I, for one, would like a SUPER-lenient hearing.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Some Thoughts That Aren't Mine

We each are the sum total of the books we read, the movies we watch, the music we listen to, and the relationships we are in. That said, these are some of those things that have recently made my journal. Feel free to contribute your own or to comment on any.

"How we live our days is... how we live our lives.: -Annie Dillard

"Never make a principle out of your experiences; let God be as original with other people as He is with you." -Oswald Chambers

"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in body, whether good or evil." - 2 Cor. 5:10

"People who are obsessed with Jesus aren't consumed with their personal safety and comfort above all else. Obsessed people care more about God's Kingdom coming to this earth than their own lives being shielded from pain or distress." - Francis Chan, Crazy Love

"How would telling people to be nice to one another get a man crucified? What government would execute Mr. Rogers or Capt. Kangaroo?" -Philip Yancy

Books to Read
Crazy Love, Francis Chan
To Own a Dragon, Donald Miller
Mission To Oz, Mark Tabb

Movies to Watch
Malcolm X
Rob Roy
The Basketball Diaries

Music to Check Out
Blue October
Sonya Kitchell (the song
Soldier's Lament is amazing)
Waterdeep (song
18 Bulletholes)
Herbie Hancock (song Stiched Up)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Family and Family

Being a parent, youth pastor, coach, and mentor has brought a perspective to family structures that I did not have in my youth: that all families are dysfunctional (the extent is the only thing that varies) and that every parent screws up their children (again, the extent varies).

But as I spoke with a group of twentysomethings a few weeks ago they pointed out some things that I thought spoke mountains into the life of faith communities in churches and into their perception of families.

The question was posed: if you could transfer one blood family attribute into the church (which is supposed to operate like a family) what would it be?

They answered twofold:
One: That they could share their thoughts, feelings, fears, successes, struggles, and doubts without worry of gossip, rumor, emotional abuse and wounding. I don't think was this to say that all of their families were free of such things but rather that they saw this as a vital function and feature of "healthy" families.

Two: That disagreement could occur with respect. That "legalists", "liberals", "conservatives", and everything in between could come to the table and realize that opinions are simply opinions and everyone has them but that, at the end of the day, we love each other. For instance, if you have a brother that is acting like a jackass you still want/need to communicate with him because he is your brother. However, churches often treat relationships with other believers as expendable- that if we disagree or the conversation becomes too uncomfortable or you are too mean then I can just walk away. Not only is this not biblical it is hypocritical since we refer to each other as "brothers" and "sisters".

Just some thoughts. I'd love to hear if anyone thinks another rule or two could transfer over.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Dog-Paddling Vs. Sailing

Header note: some of the following will not effectively apply to adolescents or those still under someone else' authority/house/rules.

How many times have you gone to other people for advice, for direction, for them to tell you what to do with your life? I know that I have many, many times. But as I listened to a Podcast by Rev. Steve DeNeff from College Wesleyan Church I was challenged to think about the Holy Spirit. (The Spirit, wind, and tongues of fire that fell on the upper room in the opening chapters of the book of Acts in the New Testament.)

Picture yourself in a sailboat- the sail down- sitting on a large lake. You really want to move but you cannot find anything in the boat to make an effective paddle and you don't know how to use a sail and tack. So you lean over the bow and reach your arms into the water and start dog paddling to the destination of your choice. Seems kind of stupid, doesn't it?

How long will it take you to do a job the wind could do in 1/50 the time? But this is how many "spiritual" people live their lives: looking for a paddle that may not be effective for their lives (i.e. advice from others that may or may not work), not knowing how to harness the power of the Wind (the Holy Spirit's direction), and so they give up, pick a direction, and start ineffectively dog-paddling at a snails pace toward some distant mark that may or may not be the direction the wind is blowing.

What if we started harnessing that Wind? Allowing it to guide our lives instead of imperfect people and our own ideas. Francis Chan, in his book Crazy Love, tells a story of how- after a short term missions trip- he and his wife were lead by the Wind/Holy Spirit to sell their large home and move into a much smaller home in order to be able to give more to missions and to the church they pastored. He says that, at the time, no one affirmed the decision. They were told it was bad for their children, a bad move in the housing market, and was a spiritual "just for show" move.

This is not to say we should all throw out godly council, logic, intelligence, and simply let decisions fly in "spiritual high" moments but I am challenging the reader to ask themselves: what is happening in your boat? Where would the Wind take you if you let it?

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Why Don't You Hold Onto That Rock?

In the book of Mark in the New Testament there is a story relayed to us that a woman, caught in adultery, is brought before Jesus. The pharisees want to know if she should be executed via stoning as the Old Testament law prescribed. Jesus doesn't answer for sometime and instead starts drawing in the dirt. Finally, after they asked him a few more times, Jesus said, "If you don't have any sin in your life, throw a stone at her."

Our lives, I think, are still a lot like this. Only we simply alternate roles from being part of the mob and the woman. If we are good (at hiding) we aren't the woman too often. We understand that the more we are part of the mob and busy stoning the guilty maybe no one will notice our guilt. If we root for a certain politician to fail, if we can make fun of someone else's sexual orientation/clothing/musical taste/job/etc., if we are up to date on the latest news of our friends that can be passed to other people, then we are successfully taking the focus off ourselves and maybe no one will notice that we are just as guilty as the people we are mocking and judging.

What Jesus does in that story is genius stuff: he makes the mob wait for an answer (I bet it got kind of quite as everyone waited for this controversial teacher to stop drawing in the dirt); then he makes everyone take their focus off of the person they want to judge and confront their own guilt.

My Tuesday night discussion group was talking about family and the church this last week and the question was posed: if you could take "family thinking" into the church what would you take in? The top two answers: safety and the ability to be "ourselves" without fear; and two, an understanding that even if we don't agree that we can still talk and work together toward a common goal (also known as "mutual respect").

So maybe in the midst of the non-stop character assassinations with public, sports, celebrity, and personal figures we should just stop and ask ourselves how much grace we would want if we were caught in the act of our darkest sin and drug in front of an angry mob. It feels different if the stones are going to be coming at you.