#4 - Playground in the minefield - Sex in our culture

Comment

#4 - Playground in the minefield - Sex in our culture

We live in a sexual minefield.

Pandora's box has been cracked since Eve decided to eat the fruit from a certain tree, but with the sexual revolution of the 1960's, the lid was completely broken off it's hinges. It's not that immodesty, sexual promiscuity, adultery, pornography and their kin did not exist before the dawn of feminism; there is nothing new under the sun regarding sin, and the human heart has not radically changed since that fateful day in the garden. However, with the dawn of a new day of sexual liberation, sexuality without bounds has become not only normal but celebrated and expected.

A pansexual society is the reality that my generation and the generations that have since followed were born into. Most of us don't even realize we are living, playing and working on an active minefield because we don't know any different. This is the water we have always swum in. It takes detonating a land mine personally or watching someone you love deal with the shrapnel of sexuality gone awry to notice the vicarious sexual situation in which we live and move and have our being.

We protect what we value; we build fences and elaborate security systems in banks and casinos because money is our treasure. Likewise, God, the One who thought up sex and gave it to humanity as both a gift and a pointer back to Himself, built high fences around this valuable gift. He created the boundaries of a covenantal, for richer or poorer, in sickness or in health, until death to us part love between a man and a woman to protect and enhance the gift of sex. His plan was for humanity to experience the beautiful intimacy of explosive sex. Yet, when taken outside of the protective boundaries, sex becomes a dangerous explosive.

 

In her book Sex and the Soul of a Woman, Paula Rhinehart describes the generational carnage that is the wake of the sexual revolution.

“For as long as there had been wedding vows, sexual intimacy had been something set apart, sacramental, reserved for the realm of lifelong commitment between a man and a woman. Not so for my generation….We pushed until we cracked open a door that had been shut for good reason. Those who follow now rush headlong as though the door no longer exists. Inside the room there is pleasure, to be sure. But there is also a cache of sexually transmitted diseases and a truckload of heartache. The truth is that my generation owes the following generation an apology - a profound one.”

We work closely with college students deeply scarred from either multiple "casual" sexual encounters with multiple men or one deeply scarring series of sexual encounters with one person outside the safety and security of lifelong covenant vows. This generation realizes that sex as our society sells it does not satisfy. They are starving for truth and health and boundaries. Many of them, if they are being deeply honest with themselves, want a way out of the sexual minefield.

Our deep longing is to winsomely tell the upcoming generations the true story of sex, to offer them explosive sex rather than sex as explosive.

There is a playground that exists in the middle of the minefield, a place of safety and security and intimacy and protection. We don't have to get there ourselves; we don't have to (nor can we) undo what has been done or backtrack in hopes that we don't detonate more mines. We need only cry out to a loving Father who desires to lift us up out of the minefield and carry us into His playground.

There, with His truth and His Spirit, in the community of the Church that He has provided, He will lovingly stitch together each dismembered part of our souls.

The prophet Isaiah hinted at the messenger Christ who would come to preach good news to the broken hearted. Though Christ already came, His message of good news still applies to us today.

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and freedom to the prisoners; to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, to grant those who mourn in Zion giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord that He may be glorified. Then they will rebuild the ancient ruins, they will raise up the former devastations; they will repair the ruined cities, the desolations of many generations. Isaiah 61: 1-4.

Comment

#3 - Timely Truths

Comment

#3 - Timely Truths

Now that we have taken a bulldozer to your relational house, there is plenty of room for the good stuff, the hope and joy and peace in relationships that God intended for us from the beginning.

God is a God of yes! If He tears down, it is only to build up; if He wounds, it is only to heal. He is such a good father who deeply desires to give His children the best gifts.

Psalm 16:11 holds a beautiful picture of a person clinging to the promises of a good God. "You make known to me the path of life; you fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand."

God has eternal armloads of pleasures (including amazing, satisfying sex... we will get there) for those who will listen to Him and allow Him to replace devastating lies with transformational truths.

Transformational Truths:

  1. Relationships are about Him, but they include you and them. Relationships with humans were never intended to be doors, but windows through which we see and understand Christ and His love for us and His Church. When we make another person into an end rather than a means to the end of knowing and seeing Christ and being known and seen by Christ, things always go awry. Yet at the same time, relationships are one of the primary ways that we see and experience, as well as give and receive the love of Christ. They are not about us or them, but they include us and enhance our lives when used as windows rather than doors. 
  2. Only in Christ will we ever be complete. Good news, there is someone who can carry and hold up our eternal desires, our longing for unconditional, unchanging and secure love. Jesus alone can meet our deepest needs. When these needs are met and we are complete in Him, we are free to enjoy relationships with others without crushing them. Even in the most God-honoring relationship or marriage, another person will not complete you. They were never intended to. 
  3. Sex was God's idea and is best used in the context He decides is best. We tend to forget that the explosive, powerful gifts of sex , romance and intimacy were God's idea. He didn't have to wire humans the way He did; He chose to because He is for these things! That being said, explosives become dangerous when used in the wrong context or the wrong time. God, the Creator and Giver of these gifts, has lovingly placed nets around the amazing gifts He has given us, just like we have a net around our trampoline: to MAXIMIZE pleasure and security while minimizing damage and painful consequences. 
  4. God is the ultimate gift as well as the giver. It is so easy to slip into a formulaic approach to God: If I do A and don't do B, then He must give me C and D. But God is not interested in formulas or rulebooks, He is interested in relationship with His children. Without realizing it, Christians can subtly begin longing more for the gifts than the Giver of the gifts. He is the very great reward, as He told Abram in Genesis 15. He has given the Greatest gift in Himself, therefore, when life doesn't turn out the way intended or planned or prayed, we must fight to believe that He has our best interests in mind: that He indeed has both a hope and a future for His people (Jeremiah 29). In Romans 8:32, Paul captures this idea beautifully: He who did not spare His own son, but freely gave Him up for us all, how will He not with HIM freely give us all things?

Rome wasn't built in a day and erroneous thought patterns and dangerous approaches to relationships don't die quickly; however, there is such hope for us in regards to relationships. Philippians 1 tells us that what God begins, He will see through all the way to completion. He who began the work of transforming you is more committed than you are to writing truths on your heart. And, as if that were not enough, He gives His children the Holy Spirit as Helper, teacher and advocate. 

Comment

#2 - Tornado alley

Comment

#2 - Tornado alley

The relationship seminar is always a full house. It would be that way no matter who was speaking. The reality is that we are looking for some help when it comes to relationships. It's not just the Church or Christians. Walk around Barnes and Noble; you will be dizzied by the amount of books offering hints, tips and tactics for healthy relationships.

The problem with these books and most advice is that, in essence, they leave the framework of your ideas and presuppositions about the purpose of relationships as they are.  Each of us is not a blank slate. We come into this discussion with 18 plus years of influences on relationships and their purposes: families of origin we were born into, neighbors, magazines we read, Churches we attend, shows we watch.

We all have a framework, like the walls of a house.

Most of our relational houses look like tornadoes have hit them. Some are literally falling to the ground and condemned, others look healthy, but have serious hidden issues that threaten to collapse the whole relational house one day in the near future. If we start with advice about dating and sex without addressing some of the framing issues, it would be like trying to put a nice Persian rug on the middle of a termite-infested, falling through floor.

 

Before we address leaky faucets, try to patch up a few holes or offer a few paint colors, we need to get rid of some faulty lies that have been framing our view of relationships. We need to tear down the lies that are ruining relationships past, present and future; only then can we begin to build a healthy foundation and framework for a lifetime of healthy friendships, marriages and families.

There are five main lies that we have believed when it comes to relationships, sex and dating.

Lies we believe:

  1. Relationships are all about me (or relationships are all about them). This is a Treat Yo Self mentality (thanks, Parks and Rec) in which relationships are all about what someone else can do for me or how someone will make me look. This lie has been fed to us so many times, we don't even recognize it is as a lie anymore. The goal of life is to be make myself happy and relationships are just another means to that end. You can see why we live in a culture with unprecedented divorce rates or people who won't even marry. As soon as I stop being happy or having my needs met, I am gone.
  2. Another person will complete me. Quick math lesson for you: two broken people do not make one whole person. They make two very broken people. We tend to think that if we could just find our soul mate, we will no longer be insecure, lonely, fearful, etc. The problem is that no human being is perfect and no one can offer you the unconditional love and affection you long for. Even the strongest humans were never meant to carry the weight of our Divine desires, only God was meant to do that. When we put such high expectations on another human being, we crush any potential for joy or healthy human relationships, like a brick crushes a Dixie Cup.
  3. It's my body, I can do what I want to. What I do with my body doesn't affect anything else. Psychology has done some amazing things, but it has also provided us with a great lie: sex is an animalistic drive that must be met, much like hunger must be satisfied with food or thirst with water. The problem is that our sexual desires are not that simple or compartmentalized. The pornography you view, the people you sleep with, the self-gratification of masturbation, these all have affects on your body, mind and soul.
  4. If I do the God thing, then He owes me. Some of us have been taught that the three lies above are, indeed, lies. We have come to know Christ and have sought to follow and serve Him. We want to please Him. But sometimes, we buy a more subtle, but equally dangerous lie that if we just do what God says, He will bless us with the perfect spouse on our timetable. When He doesn't do what we think He should after we have been faithful to stay pure and such, we begin to grow bitter and disappointed with Him. We didn't sign on for singleness for this long of a season or potentially for life. But then again, we didn't get to write the contract.

Now that we have taken a hammer to the framework of lies, we can begin to build a lifelong foundation for healthy relationships. There are four truths that God begins to slowly write on our hearts that counteract these relationship-destructing lies.

Comment

#1 - The agony and the ecstasy

Comment

#1 - The agony and the ecstasy

#1 - The agony and the ecstasy

As relationships go, so goes life.

You can have had the most awful day in history: flat tire, stolen wallet failed exam, parking ticket...you get the idea. However,  if the person you have liked for a year calls to ask you on a date, suddenly your day takes a violent shove from terrible to terrific.

On the other hand, you can have had the perfect day: aced the exam, brand new car, new pair of shoes and a job. However, if you have no one you love and trust to share your joy with, life isn't as good as it seems on paper.

Humans were made for relationships; that should go without saying. However, it is significant to note that we are made this way.

From a Biblical standpoint, human beings were made in the image of a relational, Triune God.

In the first chapter of the first book of the Bible, the book of Genesis (which is known as the book of beginnings because it explains the why's of human existence), we get a glimpse into the relational nature planted deeply within each and every person.

God has just done some pretty amazing things. He created the sun, collected up water into piles we call oceans, thought up the giraffe and the zebra and a billion other species. All in a day's work.  Then God says something fascinating:

Then God said, "Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness....So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them." (Genesis 1:26-27, emphasis mine). 

Us? Our? Who is God talking to? We must remember that the Christian God is Triune, which means that He is three but one, one but three. This is profound mystery (which is a good thing to look for in religion, as a God that is perfectly explainable to a human mind is no God at all), yet it sets Christianity apart from every other religion.

The God of the Universe did not create mankind because He was lonely and needed a friend (or a billion of them). He created humanity out of fullness, out of a perfect relationship between God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. As usual, C.S. Lewis captures it best by saying, "We were born out of the laughter of the Trinity."

Much like G'Joe and I couldn't help but let the love we had for each other spill over into making little Joseph's, God created us out of His relational fullness and in His image.

This explains a lot. We were made for relationships because we were made in the image of a relational God.

That being said, few things have greater potential for harm or for beauty, for agony or ecstasy in our lives than relationships. Many of us know the floating feeling of falling in love for the first time; many of us also know the gut-wrenching, dry-heaving pain of a break up.

If some of our deepest wounds and deepest healing and hope come from relationships, it is worth our time to explore the topic of relationships.

They are central to who we were intended to be as humans, they have incredible power for good or ill in our lives, and they have the ability to point us and others to the relational God who is behind all of life.

If we long for healthy, fulfilling relationships, a good place to start is to hear from the One who created relationships, sex and intimacy. He has so much to say to us through His word and much joy, happiness and peace to offer those who seek to listen to Him.

Comment