Thursday, March 30, 2006

Live or Onscreen, It’s Still Voyeurism

by Douglas Wilson

The sexual union is such an intimate aspect of our lives that it has to be protected if we are to be protected. It must have a tall covenantal fence all the way around it. But because the one-flesh union occurs any time there is a sexual union, whether moral or immoral, we must sanctify and seal the sexual union with the lawful covenantal oath of marriage.
Christians (young people included) often have a view of sexual relations that is out of balance because they’ve allowed themselves to be propagandized by the entertainment industry. But suppose one afternoon a neighbour came to a Christian’s door and said something like this:
“We would like to invite you over this evening…”
“Why, thank you!” he says, innocently enough.
“Wait, wait, that’s not all. We would like to invite you to come into our bedroom and watch us while we have sex. It could be a really exciting time for all of us.”
The Christian recoils in horror. “We couldn’t do that. You see, we’re Christians.”
“Oh, I see,” he says, scratching his head. “That could be a little much for you then. I’ll tell you what! We have a video camera. Why don’t you let us tape it, and I’ll just bring it over in the morning. Then you watch it whenever you want.”
The Christians explains that this wouldn’t be possible either.
“I don’t understand,” the neighbour says with a puzzled look. “Last week you invited us over and we all watched that new DVD release. It had a couple of skin scenes in it. Why are you willing to watch another man’s wife, but not mine? My wife may not be the best looking…”
Here the hapless Christian interrupts and explains that her looks have nothing to do with it. He goes on to explain that they are not ordinary Christians. They belong to that very special breed – hypocrites.
Is hypocrisy too strong a word? I don’t believe so. Many Christians are willing to watch, by means of a movie camera, what they wouldn’t dream of watching in person. You couldn’t get them into a topless bar, and yet they cheerfully go to films where they see far more. Would most Christian men be willing to be peeping Toms, roving the neighbourhood? Certainly not. But what if they discovered a women who knew of their presence and was willing to undress in front of a window? That would be worse. What if she were paid to do all this? Worse, worse, and still worse. But what if she is paid lots of money, has a producer and director, does all of this for the movie cameras and has millions of men drooling at her windowsill? This is suddenly different and becomes quite a “complicated” issue – as it may have been [last] summer for some who lined up to see the R-rated comedy Wedding Crashers.
Youth groups across America [or churches]contain young people [and adults] who express a love for Jesus Christ yet try to excuse this sort of behaviour on the basis of contemporary standards. Many Christian teens [and adults] don’t want to be different in what they watch. They don’t want to admit that their discipleship applies to this area. And they also don’t want to admit that sexual activity and nudity on the screen is sexually exciting for them. But those who deny that such things affect them are simply deceiving themselves.
Help adolescents [and peers] recognize sexual voyeurism for what it is and value the marriage covenant long before they enter into one. Can a couple gain short term excitement from movies, books, or magazines that range from suggestive to explicit? Perhaps, but that does not make it right. Lust always demands more excitement – always more, more! Consequently, lust attempts to get from a finite thing what only the infinite can provide. God created sex as a blessing. But sex in the real world is not at all what teenagers [and adults] have come to expect from the world of sexual fiction.

Taken from Plugged in (Focus on the Family), Vol. 10. No. 11 (November 2005), 9, and adapted from the book Reforming Marriage by Douglas Wilson, pastor of Community Evangelical Fellowship, Moscow, Idaho. He is also the editor of Credenda Agenda magazine.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Lately, I have been reading The Life and Diary of David Brainerd (edited by Jonathan Edwards; Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1949). This book is having a profound impact on my life and revealing to me my lack of passion for Jesus Christ, my lack of passion for those that do not know Jesus Christ, and how little of what I do is for God's glory and more often for my own glory. David Brainerd was an early American missionary to the native indians in the early 1700's. He lived for the glory of God with eternity always in view, had an intimate and passionate relationship with God, and had a passion for the lost. He was a man of prayer, a man of humility, and a man of the Word. For more on David Brainerd's life see the excellent article by John Piper: The full text of the book can also be read online: Here are some great quotes from David Brainerd's journal:

"One hour with God infinitely exceeds all the pleasures and delights of this lower world" (pg. 74).

"Where then is boasting? Surely it is excluded when we think how we are dependent on God for the being and every act of grace. Oh, if ever I get to heaven it will be because God wills, and nothing else; for I never did anything of myself but get away from God! My soul will be astonished at the unsearchable riches of divine grace when I arrive at the mansions, which the blessed Saviour is gone before to prepare" (pg. 75).

"...I cried to God to cleanse me from my exceeding filthiness, to give me repentance and pardon. I then began to find it sweet to pray; and could think of undergoing the greatest sufferings, in the cause of Christ, with pleasure. Found myself willing, if God should so order it, to suffer banishment form my native land, among the heathen, that I might do something for their salvation, in distresses and deaths of any kind" (pg. 77).

"I wanted not the favor of man to lean upon; for I knew Christ's favor was infinitely better, and that it was no matter when, nor where, nor how Christ should send me, nor what trials He should still exercise me with, if I might be prepared for His work and will" (pg. 79).

"I felt the power of intercession for precious, immortal soulds; for the advancement of the kingdom of my dear Lord and Saviour in the world; and withal, a most sweet resignation and even consolation and joy in the thoughts of suffering hardships, distresses, and even death itself, in the promotion of it. Had special enlargement in pleading for the enlightening and conversion of the poor heathen" (pg. 80).

"I wanted to wear out my life for His service, and for His glory" (pg. 81).

"All I want is to be more holy, more like my dear Lord. Oh, for sanctification! My very soul pants for the complete restoration of the blessed image of my Saviour, that I may be fit for the blessed enjoyments and employments of the heavenly world" (pg. 82).

"Farewell, vain world; my soul can bid Adieu:
My Saviour's taught me to abandon you.
Your charms may gratify a sensual mind;
Not please a soul wholly for God design'd.
Forbear to entice, cease then my soul to call:
'Tis fix'd through grace; my God shall by my ALL.
While He thus lets me heavenly glories view,
Your beauties fade, my heart's no room for you" (pg. 82).

"Jesus, my Lord, my only love,
Possess my soul, nor thence depart:
Grant me kind visits, heavenly Dove;
My God shall then have all My heart" (pg. 83).

"Oh, that I could spend every moment of my life to His glory!" (pg. 83).

"Thirsting desires and insatiable longings possessed my soul after perfect holiness. God was so precious to my soul that the world with all its enjoyments was infinitely vile. I had no more value for the favor of men than for pebbles. The Lord was my ALL; and that He overruled all greatly delighted me. I think my faith and dependence on God scarce ever rose so high. I saw Him such a fountain of goodness that it seemed impossible I should distrust Him again, or be any way anxious about anything that should happen to me" (pg. 84).

"I felt that all my unhappiness arose from my being a sinner" (pg. 84).

"Nothing grieves me so much as that I cannot live constantly to God's glory. I could bear any desertion or spiritual conflicts, if I could but have my heart all the while burning within me with love to God and desires of His glory" (pg. 84).

More quotes to come...

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Lately I have been thinking a lot about the sovereignty and providence of God. I came across this powerful poem that brought me to tears. What would happen to my life if I consistently saw God this way? Why is this view of God so rare in the Church today?

Sov'reign Ruler of the skies,
Ever gracious, ever wise,
All my times are in thy hand,
All events at thy command.

His decree who form'd the earth
Fix'd my first and second birth;
Parents, native place, and time,
All appointed were by him.

He that form'd me in the womb,
He shall guide me to the tomb;
All my times shall ever be
Order'd by his wise decree.

Times of sickness; times of health;
Times of penury and wealth;
Times of trial and of grief;
Times of triumph and relief;

Times the tempter's power to prove;
Times to taste the Saviour's love
All must come, and last, and end,
As shall please my heavenly Friend.

Plagues and deaths around me fly;
Till he bids, I cannot die;
Not a single shaft can hit,
Till the God of love sees fit.

John Ryland (1753-1825) [taken from Paul Helm, The Providence of God (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), 6.]

Friday, March 17, 2006

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Today I have decided to start a blog that celebrates the old, a return to classic Christianity as understood by the apostles, the early church, and the Reformation. I think that our problem in the Church today is that we are trying to be relevant or new (not in the sense of new ways of communicating the gospel - contextualization), but in the sense of changing the message itself. This blog will celebrate, as Erasmus said: "a return to the source" of Christianity, or ad fontes approach, namely the Holy Scriptures. We will use the heart cry of the Reformation as a guide: SOLA SCRIPTURA (Scripture Alone), SOLUS CHRISTUS (Christ alone), SOLA GRATIA (Grace alone), SOLA FIDE (Faith alone), SOLI DEO GLORIA (To God be the glory). And my hope and prayer is that this will be used to draw us closer to an understanding of the holiness of God, the grace of God, the sinfulness of humanity, the justice of God, the beauty of Christ, the love of God, the cross of Christ, the sufficency, inerrancy, and authority of the Word of God, the reality of hell, the urgency of world evangelization, the priority of unreached people groups, the need for Biblical and Christ centred preaching, and a richer, deeper, love relationship with God. This blog will strive to be rich theologically, intellectually, and biblically, but also to be very practical in focus, for as James said: "faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead" (James 2:17).

"How sweet all at once it was for me to be rid of those fruitless joys which I had once feared to lose! You drove them from me, you who are the true, the sovereign joy. You drove them from me and took their place...O Lord my God, my Light, my Wealth, and my Salvation" (Augustine, Confessions, IX, 1, emphasis mine).

To God be the glory,

Nick Hill