“Whatever your plan is for school this year—home school, Christian, private, or public—don’t be afraid. Launch your kids into their best year yet, full of faith in our great God!”
I’ve heard this over the years spoken by believers smothered by their weakness and oppressed by not only the world, by well intended but misguided fellow believers as well.
We are far more like Paul than we ever allow ourselves to realize.
- When you stand for Christ, despite the sway of your family’s religious history.
- When you seek to follow Christ, even though you were obstinate and slow to walk with him.
- When you speak of Christ, even when it feels like you are alone.
At some point we allow the devil to chip away at our faith, lying to ourselves that personal perfection is the goal. It’s not, but in Christ we can be made perfect…
Stop letting your faith be shipwrecked, You are Paul, you are Moses, You are Abraham… they too were just as we are, men. They let their faith in God work with whatever and whomever they were to be whom God needed. So should we.
As the case for gay marriage continues to ramp up, we may wonder how those who are claiming to be Christians, but who also are advocating gay marriage, can actually believe that the Bible supports their views. We often hear that Jesus never said anything to condemn it. They seem to miss the fact that Jesus argued for marriage “from the beginning,” and that this was rooted in the creation of male and female (Matt. 19:4-6). He didn’t have to specifically condemn what the Law had clearly condemned in no uncertain terms.
However, the argument we are hearing even more is that the those passages that unequivocally condemn gay practice are in a pagan context and associated with the ancient idolatrous culture. These weren’t God-fearing gays who were in a loving and committed relationship, you see. These were pagans involved in ritualistic prostitution, and that, they would agree, is wrong.
We seem to argue, “that was just their culture,” for just about everything these days. The problem with this argument, though, connected to the passages that condemn the behavior, is that, as the saying goes, it proves too much. If it’s all based on a pagan context, then what about the other items condemned in the very same context?
In Romans 1, for example, Paul not only condemns “men with men” and “women with women,” he also condemns unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil, envy, slander, haters of God, the insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, being disobedient to parents, without understanding, the untrustworthy, unloving, and unmerciful.
Why isn’t anyone arguing that these are also in a pagan context, so as long as we take it out of that context, it is perfectly fine to be greedy, envious, and slanderous? As long as it’s not in a pagan cultural context, we can be insolent, boastful, arrogant, and disobedient to parents? In a different culture, it’s okay to be untrustworthy and unmerciful.
It’s the same context, and honesty demands consistency.
Further, the way Paul makes his argument is not just grounded in a pagan context, but it is grounded in creation. Paganism is a sign that people have forgotten the Creator, so they worship the creature. The reason they are doing what is indecent is because they have lost sight of God as the Creator, who alone has the right to determine proper relationships. Marriage doesn’t change the condemnation of “men with men” or “women with women” doing what is unnatural.
Let’s take 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. While pagan practices were certainly a part of the culture, bear in mind that in the very same context that gay practice is condemned, so is the practice of fornication, idolatry, adultery, thievery, covetousness, drunkenness, reviling, and swindling. Would anyone care to argue that as long as it is removed from the pagan context, it would be okay to practice adultery, thievery, and drunkenness? Why do they only pick out what has to do with gay practice to say these are just based in culture, while ignoring the rest?
One could just as well argue that Paul’s argument against fornication in the same chapter (1 Cor. 6:14-20) is based on ritualistic prostitution, so once we get away from that kind of context, it would be okay to practice fornication.
The same can be said for 1 Timothy 1:8-11. Those who practice homosexuality are right there in the middle of the unholy, profane, those who kill their fathers and mothers, kidnappers, liars, and perjurers. Who looks at that context and says, “Well, that’s just pagan culture, so in a different culture being a kidnapper would be okay”?
Taking any of these things out of a pagan cultural context doesn’t change the nature of the sin, nor does it change the consequences.
Let’s also recall that pagan practices are rooted in forgetting God as the Creator to worship the creature, as Romans 1 makes clear. When we understand that marriage is founded upon God as the Creator, and we see how God established marriage from the beginning, then we cannot argue that God ever intended anything other than male and female cleaving to each other, suitable to each other, becoming one flesh with each other.
When we ignore what is rooted in creation, with God as Creator, and begin to change the fundamental nature of God’s expressed intentions, then we have indeed become worshipers of the creature rather than the Creator.
Perhaps we are still in that pagan culture after all.
Note: I know that just as sure I post this, we will hear, “but we have to hate the sin and love the sinner.” Indeed, and loving the sinner includes a call to repentance for all of us. Notice, also, that I’m talking about the practice, not an identity. We cannot ignore what practicing any of these things in these contexts, pagan or otherwise, will do to our souls.
“Vanity of vanities,” says the preacher. All is vanity.
How can life seem any less meaningful? “What advantage does man have in all his work which he does under the sun?” Everything just keeps happening over and over. One generation comes, another goes, and the cycle of life starts over. “All things are wearisome…”
But Koheleth was determined to find meaning in life. He sought out many avenues through which he thought he might find happiness. He tried wisdom, only to discover that “in much wisdom there is much grief, and increasing knowledge results in increasing pain.”
He tried pleasure. He withheld nothing that he desired from himself. Yet, at the end of the day, he realized that it was “vanity and striving after wind.” There was “no profit under the sun.”
He looked at the world and saw oppression, ugliness, grief, and death. Riches did not live up to its deceitful promises: “The sleep of the working man is pleasant, whether he eats little or much; but the full stomach of the rich man does not allow him to sleep.” Power is not what it is cracked up to be. In the end, whether a person is rich, poor, good, bad, or anything else, we all end up going back to the dust. As is the fool, so is the wise man.
Looking at life from such an earthly perspective can lead to terrible despair. Koheleth looked at it all; he tried it all. He found nothing ultimately satisfying or meaningful – until he turned back to God.
Once this life is over, there is no coming back: “they no longer have a share in all that is done under the sun.” From the outside, it appears that man and beast are the same; they both die just the same and it seems as though there is nothing else. As far as an earthly existence, this is true. However, it is there where the likeness ends. What we cannot see with our eyes is that we have souls that do continue beyond the body. And it is this understanding that affects our grasp of the meaning of life.
“The conclusion, when all has been heard is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.”
Knowing that God gives us life both physically and spiritually helps us to better appreciate our existence on this earth. Through God, we can learn to enjoy the simple things of life: the eating and fruit of our labors. We can engage in our activities with a cheerful heart, putting away the grief and anger that characterizes those who have no sense of purpose. It is crucial to remember our Creator if we are going to appreciate and enjoy life here and now.
The apologetic value of the book of Ecclesiastes is as relevant today as it was when it was first written. People are still searching for meaning. They try all the avenues available to them: knowledge, riches, power, pleasure, and anything else they can think of. But they still come up empty-handed. It is when they turn to God that they finally realize that life is not just about the “here and now.” It is about that which cannot be seen. It is about God. It is about our souls.
One day we will go to our eternal home. We will face the judgment of God. Will your life on earth have meant something then? Or will it have been a hopeless chase after meaning and value only to find that nothing makes sense apart from God?
Doy Moyer – email@example.com
Lust has gone public in America. No subject is too delicate for a television or movie script. Pornography is big business. Absolutely nothing is left to the imagination. Yet, this business would utterly fail were it not for the fact that it feeds the private yearnings of corrupted hearts. It is from this private cesspool of defilement that this flowing well of licentiousness comes. Polluted minds demand a diet of contamination to gratify illicit hunger. This creates a climate in which the problem only feeds itself.
No man ever rises above the quality of his own mind. One cannot be more perverse than his heart allows him to be. Conversely, pure and noble words and deeds first proceed from hearts that are pure and noble. “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life” (Proverbs 4:23). “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7).
The potentiality of private lust was recognized by Jesus when He said, “Whoso looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). In this context Jesus not only condemned the act of adultery, but also the progressions of thought which culminate in this forbidden act. It is not wrong to recognize beauty. Some have a charm and grace which is at once attractive and appealing. But it is a far different thing to allow the mind to descend to the level of fantasizing about sexual relations with one we have found to be appealing. So then, the heart must keep a distinction between admiration and lust. It is in the heart that reserves are broken down and that schemes are devised to gain attention, then seduce the one who become the object of our obsession. Adultery committed in the heart, but which proceeds no farther, may not have the frightful consequences which the overt act does – – but it is still an affront to God and destructive to the character of the one who entertains it. Recognition of the wrong and repentance are surely required.
The problem is pervasive in our society. Many streams strive to erode a channel into our hearts to pervert them. Modern television programming, to say nothing of the movie industry, grind out a continual stream of coarseness, vulgarity, sexual innuendo and compromising scenes which could wear down the best defenses of the most godly were these allowed constant entry into the mind. The print media carry reports which often titillate the senses. Even television news programming often resorts to this device, I suppose to add what is conceived to be “spice” to an otherwise dry business. The music of our time, with incessant beat, preaches moral permissiveness and does much to break down convictions and moral reserves. Perhaps the two worst offenders in this area are today’s rock and country-western music. The lyrics are not even subtle. They are brazen. How can any of us listen repeatedly to such lyrics without being affected to some degree?
What about pornography? Is it nobody’s business what a person reads or views in hisown home? Should he have the Playboy channel hooked up to his cable TV? First, those who defend such right are the losers because they defile and debauch their own hearts to the destruction of their souls. Next, they contribute to a sordid business which promotes vice of every kind. Then, they run the risk of reaching a point where they cannot separate fact from fantasy and that can lead to criminal action. Unrealistic expectations develop which create disillusionment between spouses. The price for gratification of mental lust can become very expensive.
The divine mandate to “flee fornication” (1 Cor. 6:18) must surely include flight from whatever channels of thought might lead us to this tragedy. We must not be filthy dreamers” (Jude 8) with defiled minds. In contrast to that, “Unto the pure all things are pure” (Titus 1:15). It is not enough to root out impurity of thought. These must be replaced with that which is decent, ennobling, gracious, uplifting and pure. “Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:22). Whatsoever things are…pure…lovely…of good report…think on these things” (Philippians 4:8).
Ultimately, the victory over private lust is bound up in the admonition of Paul to bring “into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor 10:5). Christ must not only be Lord of my external conduct; He must rule my mind. “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace” (Rom 8:6). Paul wrote, “But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members” (Rom 7:23). Folks, this is a war we must win. Shall private lusts conquer us, or shall we bring our thoughts into captivity to our Lord Jesus Christ?
“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer (Psalm 19:14). “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God” (Psalm 42:1).
Indeed, “a mind is a terrible thing to waste!” It was God’s purpose to put His law into our hearts and write His precepts in our minds (Heb 10:16). When the mind is so filled withthe knowledge of truth and right, then whatever thought-form is inconsistent with that divine system is rejected as repulsive. It cannot grow in unprepared soil. The antidote to private lust is a constantly growing knowledge of the will of God accompanied by an active life of service in which the fruits of righteousness may be seen by others.
1. As a busy father of 3 active kids, with a full time work, active lifestyle and the normal family life… Ask me how many movies I see in a year? At the theater… We’re talking 1-3 on average… with 2 of them being something that all the family will enjoy.
2. I read the book, and books are always better. (no disrespect to what I have heard about the cinematography, directing or acting of this piece, but I am a book nerd. I also listened to Brandon Webb (who ran the training program that produced men like Chris) speak extensively about how inaccurate that segment the film is.
3. And really, is it a surprise that an “R” rated film is full of something worldly? As my friend Seth McDonald aptly noted the prodigious use of the “F” word fills the film does meet well with my desire to live beyond this world.
I have a few friends who knew Chris personally, From what I have heard, Mr. Cooper does an outstanding portrayal of him in the film. So I’m sure at some point I might rent the movie and fire up the ole’ TV guardian and give it a go, but until then, You can find me outside trying to keep up with my kids 😉