Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The Societal Cancer We Don't Address, Part 3 of 4

The Bible has all we need to live productive, healthy, fulfilling lives.  So, do what it says.  

Even though we have not, nearly, perfected this life, there's a reason why we don't do what the Bible says.  It's because there's someone who has been granted rule over this world, an actual person who has one thing in mind:  bring as many down with him as possible.  Satan has a huge say in what is going on in our world.  Can you really doubt this truth?  How else can you explain the fact that, after all our history of hatred in this world and what it leads to, it is still alive and well.  Love is truly the answer, but we're ignoring the very source of love.

To choose love is to choose the one good choice.  Any kind of important decision that you or I make is either a good choice or a bad choice, there is no in between.  You're either doing it God's way or you're doing it Satan's way.  You're either going to address your sin and call on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, or you're going to ignore your sin and fend for yourself.  You're either going to admit that God's love is the only love that works or you're going to keep trying your definition of love.  What are you going to do?  The Bible gives the only clear definition of love and how to practice it - "This is love:  not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins." (1 John 4:10)

Remember the reason for this post: The inability to connect the dots between our culture of sexual harassment and our culture of open sexuality.  Part of why I will be able to never give up, never stay silent, and leave it all on the field once I die, is that slowly but surely I will care less and less about what people think of me.   I have no choice now but to be a voice that speaks up for the full respect of women.  I don't want it to be just  publicized respect, or public relations respect, or a social media official statement, but full respect.  I have done this already doing away with pornography in my life.  I will do this moving forward by contributing to every effort that would rid this world of pornography and I will speak out against how pornography and our sexualized culture treats women and promotes them as objects.  Pornography, quite clearly, defines women as objects, not real, thinking, productive members of our community.  Let's be honest, the SI Swimsuit Issue is not really a swimsuit issue, for it's filled with swimsuits that nobody will ever wear on models who look (before and after the photo altering) unlike almost any other woman in the world.  It feeds into the fantasy world of men who say, "that's the kind of woman I deserve."  It feeds us the lie that women's bodies define them before their minds and hearts define them.

In my concluding post, I'll lay out what our role is, then, in a culture that seems uncontrollably over-riden with sexual messages.

Monday, November 20, 2017

The Societal Cancer We Don't Address, Part 2 of 4

I don't want to make decisions based on how it feels or whether it's popular, there's got to be a better and healthier way.  Guess what, society does not lead us down the right road.

I have not watched pornography in years and yet, in my mind, it doesn't take too long to think about pornographic images that I have put in front of my eyes, even the "light-hearted" movies with nudity that I've chosen to watch.  Back then, I would have to seek out and plan and secretly watch such things.  Oh, the times have changed!  Now, we have Game of Thrones on HBO in homes all across America being watched by youth and adults alike (and most likely children).  It's extremely popular because of its great acting, writing, and such and it is even celebrated for "breaking barriers."  But is this really how we want to our society to learn and relearn sexual responsibility?  Do we even care to put those two words together?  Being public and "free" about our bodies and our sexual activities has been more and more accepted since the sexual revolution of the 60's and 70's.  Do I need to quote the clear statistics about the growing problem of unwanted pregnancies and children growing up without both parents?  How about the clear link between pre-marital sex and the increased risk of STDs, unhealthy relationships, and economic challenges?

The only education that works is involved parents (or parent) who have discreet, wise, honest conversations about what it means to respect the opposite sex and how to view your own body.  No parent in their right mind would say to their child, "Come watch us do it!"  Yet, that is what we're doing when we allow images and movies and entertainers "help" raise our children and even influence our parenting decisions.

I write this blog not because I know lots of people will read, but because it's something I need to record.  I will not be silent while I raise my six children in a country that is ignoring signs of their own moral, emotional, social, and, quite possibly, physical demise.  If you can show me any type of proof that says that being "honest" and blatant about your sexuality and doing it whenever you feel like doing it is the healthiest thing for you and for the culture, I will shut my mouth and never type a word about it.  The fact is, the opposite is true.  When we become loose about our morals, especially as it relates to our sexuality, we become as a society more violent, less accepting of others, more selfish, less healthy physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually.  Whole cultures have been effected because they have not been mindful of right and wrong.  They haven't only been loose about sexual morals but have mocked those who have said there is such a thing as right and wrong.  Even if you disagree with Randy Alcorn's conclusion, this brief article from 1993 is hauntingly applicable to today.

I'm not predicting doom and gloom for the USA (nor do I have the intellect and insight to do such), but let me tell you that our sexual laziness is something that's right in front of our eyes.  We're ignoring it because it's too much fun and it's too comfortable.  We don't want to be the oddball.  When it comes down to it, it's an attitude that has betrayed man ever since the beginning: we shake our fist at God by saying, "I know better!"  Friends, we do NOT know better.  We don't know better, but we do need to know the one who is better, the one who created us.

I will, until the day I die, fight for the cause of the word of God (The Bible) because it is the truth.  People will say, "How do you know?  How can you be so arrogant to say that it is any more truthful than any other holy book?" Well, we could go down that road and I would be happy to interact with you somehow, whether it's face to face or email exchanges, to have honest conversations about this.  From my personal experience and after interacting with people and experts for about 30 years and having talked with people who have tried everything else, the Bible wins in all areas. 
  • Go ahead, find out what the other books actually say and actually claim about themselves.  
  • Go ahead, find out which one has been best maintained from the time it was written.  
  • Go ahead, beyond any of these proofs, find out how truth-filled the Bible actually is, from beginning to end, and how consistent it is.  
You wouldn't trust just any doctor that says that they know the healthiest thing to do.  Is a witch doctor the same as a medical doctor?  How do you decide?  Well, there's a trust, a history, a clear evidence of schooling and experience and bedside manor.  But ultimately, does he or she help you make healthy choices and do they really care.

So, I urge you, take a look at the Bible, for the consequences of not doing so are evident . . . Part 3 will look more into this as we seek to find the real cure to our societal cancer of sexual passiveness.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Societal Cancer We Don't Address, Part 1 of 4

I'm sick and tired of the duplicity going on in our society; the two-facedness regarding sexual immorality.  
     On the one hand, we are legitimately and rightfully up in arms about the sexual harassment we see in the headlines.  We should speak out against it and it should be made public and we should take steps to get rid of it in all facets of our society.  Yet, we will not get rid of it until we stop turning a blind eye to pornography. 
     We practically celebrated Hugh Heffner after he died.  What has he added to our society?  I (and many others) would say he has destroyed our society before he has added any single thing.  He has legitimized pornography in our society and has introduced many people, young and old, to things that ought not be for public consumption.  What has happened?  We have become, in essence, a sexualized culture. 
     Before I make this next point, I must clarify that every wrong action has personal responsibility involved in it.  Yet, we cannot ignore the things in our culture that contribute to sexual harassment and date rape and the irresponsible, unhealthy sexual habits of many.  With all the images and sexual content in print media, TV, movies, and the internet, it's no wonder that men have a fantasy that all women want them.  Men have been convinced that they can have whomever they want at whatever time they want.  Just this morning, there was a study connecting pornography to the change of peoples' approach to relationship.  Most of us do not need an official study to prove that.
    For example, we allow things like the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue and celebrate models that have finally made it to the cover.  We say that it's all good even though SI sells loads of ads for this issue for one main reason - these women wear next to nothing and have bodies that few women can live up to - adding to the fantasy world that contributes to the problem. 
    The problem?  We are introducing boys of all ages to view women as objects to be had, not people to be respected.  Not only that, but these boys are being raised by dads who grew up in a culture where Playboy is normal, where music videos regularly feature women dancing in all kinds of sexually suggestive ways, and where Madonna is lauded for being "honest about her sexuality."  Now, artists like Miley Cyrus lose their innocence before our very eyes and not only do we not blink but we "reward" such public sensuality.  Miley gathers her riches and receives applause for humanitarian efforts while she's not held responsible for the road she leads our young girls down . 
     So are we OK with never addressing the reason why many people go down that road of sexual harassment and an almost uncontrolled sex life?  Do we really want to know why seemingly normal men have a fantasy life that every person would be shocked by? Yes, even as a pastor, I know what I'm talking about (end of part 1).

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

What's the Most Important Thing, Pope?

“All of us have a responsibility, all of us, small or large, a moral responsibility. We have to take it seriously. We can’t joke about it,”  What do you think Pope Francis is talking about?

Racism?

Homosexuality?

Sex Trafficking?

Terrorism?

Global Warming?

Eternal Salvation?

It's difficult to know the way to God when the means to GET God's grace is dependent on our submission to the head of the Roman Catholic Church.  It's difficult to know what to focus on in life when all kinds of voices are telling us that we need to work on and in so many different ways.

If you want to live a life that matters and, by the time your life here is ended, make a significant difference, you must admit your inability to do it on your own and learn from the One who knows it all (and Who cares about it much more than we do!).

Let's take Pope Francis's quote as an example.  He was on his plane talking to reporters about Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.  He was talking about our responsibility in these hurricanes as people who use fossil fuels.

“If we don’t turn back, we will go down,” he says in the same context.  Turn back from what?  Our sin?  Our selfishness?  Our tendency to leave God out of everything?  No, apparently humanity will all "go down" because we have not heeded the right people's advice:

 “You can see the effects of climate change and scientists have clearly said what path we have to follow,” Pope Francis continues to state as he urges humanity to take responsibility for something that, though disturbing and daunting, isn't our greatest concern -- by a long shot!

Now, I know that Pope Francis cares about more than climate change.  I also know that I, as a Christian Pastor in Minnesota, are guilty of muddling the message with unnecessary things at times.  Yet, we always go back to two things that I think are very instructive today, in the wake of hurricane and earthquake and wildfire history.

First, we are not in control.  Even if we have set the atmosphere on fire by our lack of responsible fossil fuel usage, we cannot control things (let alone predict weather accurately - I'm thankful that Hurrican Irma, for instance, missed much of the populated Florida and that human loss was very small).  What do we do when we're not in control?  Fight for it back, give up all together, or choose to submit to One who is in control?

Second, be God's hands and feet in helping those effected by this imperfect world.  From hurricane and earthquake victims to rape and trafficking and abuse victims, those that are called by God (the true Church, worldwide, across denominations and cultures, who have repented of their sins and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ), must be one of the first on the scene to share of God's love for them and their true worth - priceless.

Yes, you are priceless, and your soul is more important than our climate change stance or your fossil fuel habits.  Anyone who humbly comes to God will be heard by Him and He will reveal Himself to you and you, then, can heed the instructions of the true head of the church - Jesus Christ.