My name is Silvas. I am a Greek man from the port city of Corinth southwest of Athens, Greece. I was gay, and I want to tell you the story of how I left the gay lifestyle. Mine is a true story, but cast as an historical novel.
First of all I want you to know that I am from a time and culture different than yours in America. I was born in the year A.D. 20, almost 2,000 years ago. As a first century Greek, I am all too familiar with the orgiasticbanquets of the Romans. Not that my town is any more upright.
We’re a port city with more bars and clubs than most cities. Sailors tired of months at sea bring their paychecks and desires to our town and expect to satisfy their cravings.
Personally, I loathe the excesses of Rome with its crucifixions and blood-sport in the Coliseum. As a teacher and bookseller, I’ve read enough of the classics to know that virtue and cruelty are not usually found in the same person.
Now here’s how it happened that I left homosexuality. A man came to the marketplace where I sell books on weekends. He started speaking about a God who had qualities that I’d never heard of in a deity.
As I listened to his message, there was a sense of wonder that came over me; especially that love, justice, mercy, righteousness, and judgment could all describe the same God. The idea that this God cared deeply for the creatures that He had made grabbed my attention.
Some of my gay friends came by and told me not to listen. They said the man was just another fundamentalist preaching a strict and intolerant morality.
I kept listening anyway. The more I heard, the more interested I became. All I could do was marvel at this message that the one true Creator God, who became hated by His creatures, removed His royal robes and came to earth to rescue people like me.
At first I was a bit insulted by the concept that I needed rescuing. Ever since beginning a gay lifestyle, I’d seen heterosexual people as narrow and restricted, and myself as liberated, even elite or superior.
But the more the man spoke of God’s rescuing love to rebels, the more his words struck my conscience. Deep in my heart, I knew I wasn’t a member of some elite community. I knew that if I ever became a father, I would not wish homosexuality upon my children.
My conscience became increasingly active the more the man spoke. He said that God had given humanity a Moral Law that was not only a perfect expression of His just character, he also said that this Law, summed up in Ten Commandments, was the perfect safeguard of love to God and neighbor.
That was something I had never thought of; obedience to God’s commands protects love. Therefore, when I break one of God’s commandments, I am sinning against love as God defines it. For example some of the commands are as follows, “You shall not lie, you shall not steal, you shall not murder, and, you shall not commit adultery.” When I lie or steal or murder, I am not loving my neighbor. Other commands speak of having no other gods before the one true God and to give Him proper respect as He commands us to. It is to our advantage to live in harmony with the One who made us in the world He created. I do not show love to God when I focus my life on things that take me away from God.
The speaker when on to say that our Creator designed us with His moral code written on our consciences; and that this moral code embedded in the conscience totally resonates with the truth of God’s objective moral laws.
This began to hit me between the eyes. My homosexual activity was a violation the Law established by my Creator; therefore my gay lifestyle must be hostile to God and to love.
My heart was pierced as I began to see that my own sense of betrayal in life had been my personal excuse for giving expression to my lusts and cravings. I had willingly ‘swallowed’ a very subtle lie; a lie that whispered to me that I could set aside God’s Law, and determine right and wrong for myself, and then not face consequences in this life and in eternity.
My mind was becoming clear at the same time that my heart was crushed because of my sin. Willingly, I admitted that I had allowed my own lusts and cravings to set the standard for my behavior. And I had chosen to run with people who were doing the same thing I was—denying the warnings of conscience.
What I thought I belonged to, a misunderstood ‘community’ of very aesthetic and sensitive people, was proving to be a group of individuals just like me. They were like me because they used what they perceived as a persecuted status as a cover for their guilt, shame, and addiction.
Now I was ready to cry out to God as He is revealed as Rescuer. The man I met while selling books explained to me that God loves and rescues rebels by removing their guilt and just condemnation, forgiving their rebellion, crediting them with a record of virtue and justice done by Another, freely accepting them because of this gracious transaction, and giving them a new life with a new heart full of new desires for right living.
If anyone was ready to turn over a new leaf it was me; but could I be good enough to gain God’s favor?
Just then the man in marketplace spoke of God’s grace; that God receives rebels just as they are if they will turn back to Him! My heart opened to receive God’s love. All my resistance to Divine love evaporated as I heard about what God did to make my pardon and acceptance possible.
Here’s what this man said God had done to reconcile Himself to His rebellious creatures. God’s eternal Son became a man, being born of a virgin, thus not inheriting the sin nature and guilt of the rest of humanity. He was named Jesus, which mean’s “God’s salvation.”
He lived a full life of obedience to God’s Law. He never rebelled. He loved God the Father and other people perfectly. Therefore, He didn’t deserve the sentence for rebellion which is death and eternal separation from God. This life of perfect obedience is credited to those who believe in Him.
As the ultimate act of love, He willingly took upon Himself the punishment for our rebellion, or sin, by dying in our place. Because of this, God is able to forgive my sin legally, and freely. With this inestimable gift of forgiveness comes a new heart that longs to obey God’s Law.
Because Jesus paid the ultimate price, I was accepted by God and made a ‘new creature’ in His sight with new desires. The cords that bound me to homosexuality were broken. I now see with new eyes what genuine love is.
I used to try to get my needs met by sinning. But now there is nothing that can compare to experiencing God’s love in Christ. When I first left homosexuality, I feared that I would be drawn back to it. But something amazing has happened. My desires have been changed. It is a miracle. My longings have been re-created anew by God.
You must be wondering what book or account of history documents my story of deliverance from homosexuality. You may be surprised – it is found in the New Testament portion of the Bible. You can read the account for yourself of how God rescued me in the First Letter to the Corinthians chapter six verses nine through eleven.
“Or do you not know that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.”
I. Exegetical Observations
A. The problem of gender roles in Corinth
The role of women is currently a societal battleground. The evil one takes the ideas of secular society and seeks to influence the Church. As a result, the Church tends to “catch the world’s diseases” when she is willing to adopt the spirit of this age. Paul answers the gender problem in Corinth by affirming that the principle of subordination and authority pervades the whole universe. Woman’s subordination to man reflects that greater general truth about God’s order in the universe. Christ submitted to the Father in order to redeem us; and we submit to Christ to be saved from certain doom. If women do not submit to their husbands, society will be disrupted and destroyed (MacArthur, Commentary on 1 Cor.).
The women in the church of Corinth were seeking to abolish sexual distinctions; Paul grounds his reproof in the order of creation (Jamieson, Fauset, and Brown, 1 Cor.).
Neo-pagan reasoning concerning gender roles placed the Corinthians in need of instruction by the Apostle Paul. Paul says I would have you know (11:3). This is a solemn expression concerning God’s pattern of headship. When Paul says, “of every man,” it is clear that he does not refer to Christians only but to all men. The fact that non-Christians do not know these things and do not even want to know them does not do away with the truth of the statement. Paul makes all a question of creation. The woman must have a sign of authority on her head – the necessity of her subjection must appear at every moment. The women of Corinth raised unrest in the church because they violated the ordinance of God’s creation (Grosheide, 1 Cor.).
B. God’s divine order for gender is grounded in creation
Christ is our unseen Lord; thus men do not have a visual token of subjection to Christ put on their heads. For women it dishonors her head when she puts away the badge of subjection to her head. Her man is her true honor because in the institution of marriage, honor flows from her husband who is connected to Christ his Head. The woman is reflective glory as the moon is to the sun (15:41). In the divine order of creation, the woman shines as light derived from man. Not that under grace she does not come in individual contact with God, but even here much of her knowledge is mediately given through man on whom she is naturally dependent (“let them ask their own husbands at home,” 14:35). Woman’s original being is taken out of man – as it were there is a veil or medium placed between her and God in the acknowledgement of this subordination to man in the order of creation. Man is made immediately by God (from the dust of the earth); thus no veil (Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown).
“And God is the Head of Christ” (11:3). Christ’s subordination to God the Father is evident in the Son’s work as Agent in creation and redemption. If women reject the created order it brings degradation, not liberation. The wife’s glory is derived from her husband. Woman is the divinely made ally of man to assist him in fulfilling his role as steward of creation; thus she is glory of man in her complementary role. For a woman to step outside her role would bring disrepute upon the wisdom of God in His perfect design of the created order. God’s order includes relations within the Trinity – 11:3 (David K. Lowery, Bible Knowledge Commentary).
Between Christ and man, and between man and woman there is a community life, or bond; one in the bond is strong, and the other dependent. Even under the gospel economy the woman preserves her subordinate role to her husband. A man in Christ has no other Head but Christ. When the Christian man uplifts his radiant brow in worship, it is the insignia that he is the king of nature and he has no other Lord in the universe than his invisible Lord of all. The woman’s covering declares her dependence. The woman’s physical constitution is a revelation of her Creator’s will concerning her (Godet, 1 Cor.).
Paul states that the order of authority and administration is the divine structure of things. Man is the glory of God because he is subject to and representative of God’s authority. Paul argues for man’s exercise of authority over the woman due to the order of creation, the purpose of creation (she was created for man’s sake), and the source of the woman’s creation (v. 8, 9). The women in Corinth had their heads uncovered in church – as part of his argument, Paul cites that the angels are sensitive to our conduct (W. Harold Mare, NIV Commentary).
C. Gender differences are drawn from a contrast in created glory
In his own home the father is like a king – he reflects the glory of God because control is in his hands. When a man covers his head, he brings down that preeminence in which God has placed him. [In matters of worship] if he puts himself under the authority of others – he does damage to the honor of Christ. He is under Christ’s authority; he exercises his own authority in the oversight of his family. The glory of Christ is reflected in [executing a] well-constituted order of marriage (Calvin’s Commentary).
Man as the origin of the woman’s being is thus the explanation of her being. The creation distinction is to be manifested in the woman being sharply visibly differentiated from the man. Paul’s point is that nature (in terms of natural propriety) expects a woman to be covered – to be uncovered is an unnatural act. Paul makes v. 8 the explanation of v. 7 – man was made solely for God’s service; woman was made to be a helper to man. She is the glory of man because she finds her fulfillment in serving him; this is her creation role (C. K. Barrett, 1 Cor.).
Sexual distinction is not done away with in Christ because it has a creation origin. Paul’s argument in 11:6, “Let her be shorn!” is based on the following logic concerning the woman’s rebellion – if she flings away her covering while praying or prophesying, let her also fling away the covering provided by nature (i.e. her hair). Man is not to wear a head covering since he is by original constitution God’s image and glory – he is the glory of God because he reflects the Creator’s will and power (A. T. Robertson, 1 Cor.).
Order and subordination pervade the whole universe – it is essential to its being. When the order is disturbed, ruin results. Concerning the image of God, the chief distinction between the sexes is that the man is the image of God’s authority; he is invested with dominion. The woman is equally the image of God, but the dominion that Adam bore, as God’s representative, was a dominion invested with authority over the earth. Man as the glory of God is especially the divine majesty manifested. The woman is the glory of man because she is subordinate to man and not appointed to reflect the glory of God as Ruler. She is the glory of man because she reveals what there is of majesty about him (Charles Hodge, 1 & II Cor.).
Whatever Paul’s understanding of “image of God” (Grk., eikou theou) in Gen 1:27, the essential point for his argument is the contrast he sees in glory (Grk., doza) between man and woman; it is on account of this contrast that the different regulations regarding head coverings are based (M. D. Hooker, “Authority on Her Head,” NTS, 10:410-416, 1963, 64).
The man, by virtue of his manner of creation (created immediately from the dust to rule over the works of God’s hands), is the glory and image of God. Woman is the image of God and the glory of man. In this context, the word glory is not the essential glory of God – the word glory in 11:3-15 means to honor and magnify one’s head. Man’s creation says of God -- what a wonderful order of creature God could create from the dust as His final creation, and the very crown of creation (Ps 8). Woman’s creation says of God what a beautiful being He could make from a man (Grosheide, 1 Cor.).
Man uniquely bears God’s image as ruler within the sphere of dominion and authority; in that sense he is created to be the glory of God. Woman was made to manifest man’s authority and will; just as man was made to manifest God’s authority and will. The woman is man’s vice regent and the man is God’s vice regent. In this gospel age believing men and women have equal access to God; and they will have equal glory in heaven; but in the current age the creation order is in force – woman is the image of God but not directly the glory of God. Her role, as a helpmate corresponding to him, is to submit to the direction of the man to whom God gave divine dominion. The woman’s head covering (Grk., exsousia -- “her authority,” 11:10) was her right to pray in public because it represents her subordination to man’s authority (MacArthur).
C. Angels watch over God’s created order including His plan for gender
Man images God’s authority on earth. The woman has her origin and purpose of life in the man. Her head covering is a sign of the man’s authority. Female insubordination offends angels who, under God, do the work of guarding the created universe; they know no insubordination (11:10). Every reason Paul gives for the woman’s head covering is taken from permanent facts – these permanent facts last as long as the present earthly economy (S. Lewis Johnson Jr., Wycliffe Commentary).
Woman’s subordination keeps from offending angels who are the most submissive of all creatures. Angels would be greatly offended by woman’s insubordination because it would violate the very creation order, which they guard. Paul’s exhaustive argument for the submissiveness of women is taken completely from permanent facts: 1.) The relations within the Godhead (v. 3); 2.) The divine design of male and female as shown in their contrasting glory (v. 7); 3.) The order of creation; man’s creation first, and man’s body the source of woman’s creation (v. 8); 4.) The role of the woman taken from the purpose of her creation (v. 9);5.) The intimate interest of angels in the order of creation (v. 10); 6.) The characteristics of natural physiology (vv. 13-15) (MacArthur).
Angels see how ruinous it would be if women sought to occupy a higher place than what they were entitled and appointed to. Angels would regard this as presumption (Calvin).
Concerning the holy angels, to some extent authority for the created order has devolved upon them, and we would therefore expect angels to be concerned with seeing that the ordering of things established at the creation is maintained. It is not surprising to find angels present as the guardians of the natural order, and indeed we might expect to find them concerned in particular in seeing that the worship of God is conducted in a fitting manner (M. D. Hooker, NTS).
A. Men answering the call to spiritual headship
As men we must know our identity; that in Christ we are the glory of God.
The perpetuation of God’s blueprint for society depends upon two institutions that are intended to systematically teach the truth of God, the knowledge of God, and will of God. These two institutions are the family and the local church.
In both of these institutions, God has set up an order that is gender specific. Men are to be the spiritual leaders – they are to imitate Christ. We need to know the reasons why God has appointed men for this role (especially in our culture of rampant secular humanism and feminist/sexual politics).
God’s plan, according to Psalm 78:5-8, is that the fathers should teach their children the testimonies of God so that the next generation would come to know God and put their confidence in Him.
Deuteronomy 6:4-7 is the foundational O.T. text which gives the command to fathers to diligently teach the things of God to their children. The command is incredibly comprehensive; for fathers are to teach their children in every imaginable setting, from mealtime, to bedtime, to the workplace, to recreation.
Fathers of course can only do this if they themselves are walking close to God. This is why the context for this command is, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words which I am commanding you today; shall be on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your sons. . . “(6:5-7a).
The father is not merely passing on religious information; he is sharing his own love of God with his children. Therefore what is caught by the children will be as important as what is taught to the children. In other words, the children will be able to easily see if their father truly loves God.
Here is where the genius of God’s plan shines forth in brilliance. Fathers ought to be able to say, “The greatest need of my children is to see my holiness and to see my walk with God – so my life will reflect the glory of God.”
The divine plan for passing on the knowledge of God to the next generation is centered upon a father’s bond with God, and a father’s bond with his children. The dad is the link that joins these two bonds (he is the divinely appointed instrument for passing on the knowledge of God to the next generation – Ps 78:7).
As little sinners grow up, they all begin with distorted thoughts of God. The Creator is far off and veiled in mystery – Should I be down right afraid of Him? Will He spoil my fun? Isn’t it safest to just keep some distance from Him, yet pray to Him to keep things going well? Do thoughts of God that are superstitious count as religious thoughts?
Believing dads are sent into this darkness to make the love, authority, and wisdom of God real to the child; to make God’s moral government personal, desirable, and rational. But fathers are to do so not merely by giving doctrinal lessons to their kids.
Fathers are literally called upon to reflect, or image God to their families. The husband and fatherreflects both the love and authority of God. This imaging is incredibly instructive to the family. It has the power to take the communicable attributes of God out of the realm of theory and into the realm of experience. Because he is both love and authority in the same person; the Christian dad is uniquely suited toimage the character of God to his family.
1 Corinthians 11:4, 7 affirms the spiritual headship of the man – “But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ. For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man.”
When a father occupies his role as spiritual head, he is a clear channel for the glory of God. Thus fathers are to exert constant spiritual influence within the relational space God has assigned to them.
But fathers can only pass on what they are receiving in their own spirits – if God the Father is not the object of a dad’s love and devotion; then he will not be able to image the relational aspects of true worship.
Gospel-centered Christian living is essential in order for the man to keep taking delight in God. As Jerry Bridges says, “Since we sin everyday, we must preach the Gospel to ourselves each day.” Through ongoing repentance the godly man is in a continual process of having his affections conformed to God’s truth.
Cross-centered living helps prepare a man to occupy his teaching role. When dads attempt to managetheir personal depravity by approaches other than the Gospel (i.e. moralism, legalism, or escapism); they will not have a consuming passion for God’s glory. A man needs to be living upon Christ in order to promote the glory of Christ.
Without a passion for God’s glory, the father’s two edged sword of tender love and authoritative truth will be more of a “decoration” than a spiritual weapon. In other words he must be in the habit of using the sword of God’s truth on himself if he is to be prepared to use it upon others.
But now more about the man’s unique role as spiritual head and imager of God -- Jeremiah 9:23, 24 declares that a man’s boast must be that he knows God. All other “boasts” are nothing more than vanity and arrogance born of the pride of life.
Man’s glory is his knowledge of God. Believing husbands and fathers occupy an integral role inimaging the glory that comes from the knowledge of God. This truth should shape the entire value system of a man – so much so that the man ought to regard it to be a high privilege to have such a key role in the divine chain of honor.
It is a truth lost upon our feminized secular culture of disrespect that the man is God’s appointed instrument for conducting honor and glory to his family members. This chain of honor is dependent upon a man knowing Christ his Head. It is God’s intent that glory, dignity, and honor (resulting from the knowledge of God) flow through the man.
Our challenge as men is to know the dimensions of this fragile conduit that conducts divine glory and honor; for nothing is easier than to have the flow of glory down the chain of honor interrupted by a man’s disobedience and neglect.
The greater a man’s passion to know God; the more he will be ready and willing to image God’s love, truth, and authority to his family. The man who seeks God as his life’s calling will embrace the vision to image God. When dads drift from God, their spiritual headship becomes more and more two dimensional; almost invisible.
By contrast when a man embraces his spiritual headship, he will avidly seek to communicate to his family the character of Christ. (Jesus lived a life of self-denial. He taught fidelity to principle; delayed gratification; maximum servanthood; self control; meekness; love for the brethren; righteous indignation; compassion; courage; willingness to suffer for righteousness sake; even die for the truth. Everything He did on earth perfectly imaged the character of His heavenly Father.)
The man who genuinely fears God will make imaging his heavenly Father his life work. So also, the woman who fears God will make the virtues of Proverbs 31 her life goal. She will embrace her support role as the glory of man (1 Cor 11:7b).
B. Facing the challenges that oppose our spiritual headship
As men we must know the lies we are delivered from and called upon to refute. Just as a man’s depravity is expressed in gender specific ways (domination, emotional and physical abuse, passivity, wantonness, lust, predation, laziness, violence, and greed); so also a woman’s depravity is expressed ingender specific ways.
A woman without the fear of God will tend to pull her children to herself through indulgence, pleasure, gratification, over nurturing, over protection, bestowal of unearned narcissistic privilege – often this is accompanied by possessiveness, control, and guilt.
When a son has had massive amounts of this soft side input, not balanced out by paternal godly, masculine input; it tends to unleash decay upon society (and it constructs a personal staircase to hell).
Sons who experience a narcissistic upbringing are often self-serving, listless, violent, sensual, reckless, disrespectful, and suspicious of all authority. The O.T. prophet Malachi warns that if the hearts of the children are not restored to the fathers; God will smite the land with a curse (Mal 4:6).
We know from Isaiah 24 that the threatened curse is manifested in the break down of society in which there is such a distortion of roles that moral order disappears. The implication we can draw from Malachi’s warning is that narcissistic sons who use their masculine strength for lust and selfishness will become the destroyers of society.
Historians have observed that feminine cultures (characterized by sensual indulgence) are inevitably conquered by masculine cultures (those characterized by order, self-discipline, and self-control). Without those masculine traits of self control, the sacrifices necessary to maintain liberty are absent; the will to remain free is lost.
There is an undeniable parallel in the spiritual realm. When the will to maintain male spiritual headship is lost; the generational knowledge of God breaks down. Matriarchal input rushes in to fill the gap left by the abdication of paternal responsibility. When a culture degrades spiritually; it does so in the direction of the matriarchal.
The price of the aforementioned spiritual declension is beyond calculation. Fathers must be vigilant to maintain the exercise of their spiritual headship. The cost of maintaining the chain of honor (and our knowledge of God) is ongoing repentance.
As we will see in a moment; when the chain of honor breaks down, forces of spiritual evil are unleashed. The evil one knows that God’s appointed conduit for the knowledge of God turns upon the spiritual headship of the father of a family.
We must be aware of the obstacles raised up against our headship. Consider the “boogie men” in our culture that have been paraded against patriarchal leadership. Male authority has been consistently demonized in college texts and classrooms. The numbing drumbeat of the feminist agenda is relentless; sexual politics seeks to lay society’s problems at the feet of male authority.
Neo-pagan models of spirituality abound – global and earth mother goddess religion is gaining public acceptance as a legitimate alternative to patriarchal Christianity. Needless to say these cultural forces bring additional pressure upon the male to back away from his spiritual headship (and to be ashamed if he holds to male authority).
Male self-loathing seems to be the knee jerk reaction to this avalanche of neo-pagan sexual politics; one might accurately say that male self-hate is the accepted form of “worship” within the earth mother cults.
The feminized male doesn’t trust himself to wield the sword of truth – his appointed role as imager of God’s truth/authority is neutralized when he defines his gender role by feminist humanist philosophy rather than the Word of God.
The powers of darkness have much to gain by promoting the lie that the fairer sex has been given the lion’s share of spirituality, ethics, discernment, and purity. It has always been true that when earth mother ideology waxes strong; male headship wanes and retreats.
Witness the fertility cults of Canaan during the Major Prophets that were assimilated into Jewish culture. As the patriarchy decayed; matriarchal earth mother idolatry flourished in Israel (Jer 44:17-19). Revival starts when fathers return to their role as spiritual heads.
The Deuteronomy mandate instructing fathers to diligently teach the knowledge of God is about learning to rely upon God. Saving faith takes hold of God Almighty as our true Source (the Lord as “Source Person,” see Paul F. M. Zahl, Who Will Deliver Us?). It is to Him that we look for supply, security, protection, provision, belonging, identity, and stability – He is our true home and dwelling place (Ps 90:1).
But it is even deeper; for confidence in God as Source reaches down to the ontological bottomland of our souls. The very personhood of the believer is bound up in God. The Lord is the source of his wellbeing; his son-ship; his wholeness; his completeness; and his ultimate affirmation of dignity and worth.
In a Christian family, the father’s life and teaching points to God as ultimate source. As such the earthly father’s spiritual headship involves imaging God as Source. A man’s role in the chain of honor is crucial; he will function as a trusted steward of divine things who (in his relational space as spiritual teacher) will image the Heavenly Father as Source Person.
Dad grants honor, dignity, acceptance, affirmation, and son-ship in a way that is different than mom. When dad grants it; it is within a context of knowing God who is majestic in His authority and who is the ultimate Source of truth and personal completeness.
This is the very reason why children have a father hunger so to speak. Fathers, within their relational space as family head, offer something mothers cannot; namely a picture of God as King and Source Person.
This is why it is so serious when fathers abdicate their spiritual headship. When they do so the chain of honor, which communicates the knowledge of God breaks down. When the mother, by default, assumes the role of source person; the chain of honor becomes perverted and distorted.
When gender roles are reversed; the powers of darkness seek to operate in an opportunistic fashion, which unleashes evil spiritual forces. Distorted gender roles distort God’s self-revelation. Children and marriages pay the price; and the true knowledge of God suffers.
Our sex-crazed culture is not just preoccupied with its readily available objects of lust. Pornography is also a worldview that necessarily rejects God’s plan for manhood and womanhood. As such, there are spiritual dimensions, which contribute to the consumption of pornography.
No doubt some would argue that “spiritual evil” is too strong a language for the effects of gender role reversal. But consider some of the reasons why woman in a matriarchal role of source person and earth mother goddess -- has been historically cultic, and intimately tied to pagan idolatry:
1.) The God-given role of spiritual head cannot be successfully assumed by a woman – devastation results when it is attempted. 2.) When the chain of honor is broken; earth mother “spirituality” aggravates this severed condition. 3.) Holy angels respect and recognize the gender roles God has created in His government of mankind. Demons seek to get a foothold by overturning God’s gender blueprint so that the knowledge of God is concealed and the glory of God dishonored. 4.) The historic queen mothers in ancient Israel sought to consolidate their control through the worship of a female deity. The queen mothers mass-produced images of the female body and set them up in the land – 2 Chr 15:16 (what a parallel today to see pornography mass-produced). 5.) The woman as source person tends to encourage the worship of sex and sensuality.
Unlike ancient Palestine, our culture has no formal worship which could be designated a fertility cult. Nevertheless sexual license and the female body are both worshipped in our culture with the media functioning as the willing priestess. The effects are devastating: sexual immorality; sexually transmitted disease; millions of babies aborted; teen pregnancy; a rise in homosexuality; rampant divorce.
When fathers relinquish their spiritual headship role; the knowledge of God is lost. Idolatry replaces it; nature abhors a vacuum. It’s time for fathers to rise up, stand in the gap, and assume their spiritual headship – a revival is needed. The call to image God to the next generation needs to be answered by the only ones who are able do it – Christian men.
As men we need to know what kind of spiritual training equips us to occupy our spiritual headship. Now let’s turn our attention to the obstacles that men face – the hurdles that stand in the way of their fulfillment of spiritual headship.
In Genesis three we are told that Adam’s penalty for sinning was not only death, but also a cursed world. He would have his stewardship mandate opposed at nearly every point. His efforts to subdue the earth would be resisted by thorn, thistle, mildew, beetle, worm, and blight. His efforts to supply leadership would even be resisted by his wife.
We could designate this particular resistance as Adam’s gender-specific wound. For Adam’s manhood was genuinely wounded by his sin. His dominion would no longer be effortless; but would be met by obstacles at every point.
We could compare Adam’s gender-specific wound to a broken scepter. The man appointed by God to be planetary king was, from then on, struggling with personal adequacy. We, as men, have inherited Adam’s condition; “his broken scepter.”
(Is it any wonder that we love to bring our insecurity and inadequacy to forms of recreation and amusement, which measure a man’s performance – i.e. forms of competition of every kind—from golf to paint ball competitions.)
We could accurately say that a huge percentage of our personal motivations stem from a desire to conceal our Adamic inadequacy and avoid the risk of exposing ourselves to personal failure.
Countless things can bring our inherent weakness to light. Every man fears being weighed in the scales and found wanting; being found inadequate in one or all of his roles. Consider the plethora of responsibilities that define what it means to be a man. Manhood is practically a balancing act in our over-scheduled culture.
He must be a provider, a protector, a leader, a lover, a friend, a man of principle, of generosity, of self-control. He must be physically fit, but not a fanatic. He must be transparent, but not gushy. He must be a leader; but not a tyrant. He must be an example; but not self-righteous. He must be non-compromising; but likeable.
Every one of us as men tend to define our manhood by what we do best; whether catching bass; closing deals; keeping friends; loving our kids; or cherishing and fulfilling our wife. We hesitate to step out on new ground and risk failing at new responsibilities.
For many believing men, the occupation of spiritual headship is just too daunting. They fear beingthe heavy. They are apprehensive; perhaps their efforts would be mocked, misunderstood, or unappreciated by wife and family. It’s just easier for them to abdicate their God-given calling. They don’t want theirbroken scepter to show.
Quite a number of things have to be aligned in a man’s life if he is to successfully image the knowledge and glory of God to his family. The conduit known as the chain of honor is fragile and must be diligently maintained if a man is to communicate the knowledge and honor of God to those he loves.
It is easy for a man to instantly feel like a hypocrite the moment he contemplates the exercise of his spiritual headship. He will have to work past his personal demons and gender wound fears. He will have to go on the offensive against his lusts; he’ll have to guard his calendar; he will have to turn a deaf ear to the shrill attacks that abound against patriarchal leadership. He will have to live upon Christ and the Gospel in order to overcome self-recrimination and thoughts of unworthiness for his task.
One of my favorite cartoons appeared in the Sunday comics. In Hagar the Horrible, Hagar’s wife and daughter are having a talk. The daughter tells her mom how unfair it is that men have all the power and privileges. The mother answers back that the gods have given women a secret weapon. The daughter, riveted with interest, eagerly asks, “What it is?” The mother answers, “Man’s guilt.” Then the mom proceeds to show how it works on Hagar her husband who is easily turned into a puddle of mush by her accusation and shaming. Then the punch line is priceless. The daughter asks, “What if the man is not guilty?” Mom says, “Nonsense, every man is guilty about something.”
What a commentary on human nature in its gender dynamics. Men are created by God to live out, and to discern, and to enforce principles on every imaginable plane. They are made to see things in black and white. No wonder Hagar’s wife said, “Every man is guilty about something.”
Men and women are wired differently – a man may have to shoot the enemy between the eyes. Men are wired to maintain integrity and fidelity to principle; even when it impacts relationships negatively.
But women in their primary calling are not designed by God to command armies and make decisions about life and death. Their traditional sphere is in the area of human connection; in nurturing the relationships that the family provides.
As a consequence we could say that women tend to run things through a “blender of emotion” and nurture – they are always asking, “How will this affect the relationship?” Consequently, ethical things are seen more in shades of grey and not quite as black and white as men see them. Women tend to be far less tortured than men over personal compromise, imprecision, and a lack of fidelity to principle.
It’s interesting that when Scripture describes female depravity at its worst; it tends to set forth the woman as having a defective conscience. This is the way of an adulterous woman: she eats and wipes her mouth and says, “I have done no wrong” (Prov 30:20).
It is also fascinating that the woman, in her depravity, is just as likely to attempt to control others with guilt even if her own conscience is shut down. Jezebel, the Bible’s most notorious female villain, attempted to “guilt trip” Jehu by comparing him to an historical figure named Zimri; a traitor who murdered his master (2 Ki 9:31).
(Jezebel attempted this “guilt-tripping” on Jehu who was anointed by God to exterminate the household of Ahab and Jezebel as well as all Baal worship in Israel.)
When men give their wives a higher position than Christ as their personal evaluator and ethical barometer, they step into the dangerous pit of making the wife’s moral judgment their standard. As soon as that step is taken, it greatly reduces their ability to image God’s moral authority. Role reversal neutralizes their ability to reflect God’s moral majesty. We can be protected from this by pleasing Christ first (2 Cor 5:9).
Generational matriarchies feed upon male emotional dependency. When males from one generation to the next see the female as source person; it leaves a wake of emotional castration and spiritual weakness. The one we seek to please first—above all others, will be our primary evaluator. This is an inviolate principle. We will be subordinate to the person whose approval and acceptance matters to us. We will be subordinate to them—whether it is the Lord; or one’s wife.
God is for our manhood more than we can possibly imagine. The development of godly masculinityis inseparable from a man’s personal holiness. A man’s sanctification is tied to his obedience and desire to model and image God (Eph 5:1-2).
When men abdicate this high calling; their progressive sanctification suffers. It takes courage to impart spiritual truth and one’s own spiritual life to those who know you best. They are familiar with our faults and character flaws.
We must keep a clear conscience in order to be able to answer our high calling as the glory of God. The evil one is always ready – he prowls about like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. He watches the serious Christian. He studies us to see if he can make a connection between a worldly temptation and an un-mortified lust in our soul. He knows that a defiled conscience will kill our courage to occupy our spiritual headship.
Spiritual leadership in the home is God’s mandate for every Christian husband and father. God’s plan, or blueprint if you will, places an immense privilege and obligation upon the believing man. The fulfillment of spiritual headship is the divinely appointed tool for passing on genuine faith to the next generation. Let us answer the upward call for sake of God’s glory, for our own soul’s sake, and for sake of our children’s faith.
The perversion of a virtue
God’s gift of sexuality is a mystery; it is physical, emotional, spiritual, and covenantal all at the same time. Sex as created and intended by God can be designated, “the act of marriage” because it is ongoing the celebration of man and woman as “one flesh” (Gen 2:24).
In the context of marriage, love-making has a spiritual, covenantal, sacred dimension that guards its sanctity and dignity; by God’s design; it’s sealed within a safe enclave. The institution of marriage is like a fortress with a high wall and towers that protects sexual relations from degradation (Prov 5:15-19).
When the act of marriage is removed from its walled city (the God-ordained covenant that safeguards it), the God-given gift becomes destructive. The virtue is perverted and distorted into something else; its entire character changes. Outside of marriage its precious sanctity is lost.
A society’s attitude toward sex and marriage is reflected in clothing fashions
A very popular radio talk show host has built a sizeable listening audience by teaching morality and by counseling self control. Her callers and readers are eager to hear of the immense benefits that result from abstaining from sex outside of marriage.
It’s as if an entire generation has been raised in a dark cave when it comes to the truths of sexual purity. The amount of naiveté is nothing short of amazing. As one listens to the radio program it is shocking to find one educated female caller after another tearfully admitting they thought nothing of having sex outside of marriage. When devastation inevitably visits their lives as a result of fornication, they admit they never saw it coming.
In a culture where moral relativism and neo-paganism are on the rise, women behave immodestly and believe the half truth that sex is power. “Half truth” is indeed accurate. For sex is a power for good, but only when it is within the confines of marriage, or under control in the form of chastity outside of marriage.
We live in a culture consumed with sex. Our world is one of overworked and overscheduled people. Folks maintain a low level of pessimism and fear about the future. In that often frenetic and bleak context God’s gift of sex (with its mystery of the emotional and the spiritual) is held out to folks as an oasis or nirvana that can give meaning and fulfillment to their lives.
But the problem is fifty plus years of intense moral relativism have effectively torn down the absolutes given by God for man’s protection; God’s rules for sexual relations have been neatly set aside. The result is an explosion in the worship of illicit sex.
Evidence for this departure is everywhere. The more a culture moves away from the sacredness of sexuality; the more immodesty will be seen in clothing fashions. The manner in which women dress today constitutes an assault upon the senses. (This author agrees with the Christian women who have stated that tolerating ‘half-naked’ women in the workplace is a form of sexual harassment against men.)
Immodest dress is now in such vogue, it is difficult for women to find stores that offer modest fashions. Women walk around partially disrobed – in a sense they are walking ‘billboards’ for the prevailing philosophy of sexual hedonism. By their half- naked attire, they are making the following statements: This is free, I’m free, sex is free, play with sex and experience no consequences. My lack of visual boundaries is a commentary on my lack of physical sexual boundaries.
Because men are sight attracted; sexual stimuli enter through the eye gate in substantial amounts by television viewing alone. A man faces countless temptations per week which test his character. Every trip to the check stand at the grocery store exposes the man to a gauntlet of partially disrobed images on magazine covers.
This lack of visual barriers to cover the bodies of women suggests a lack of physical and ofspiritual barriers in regards to sex. The absence of these God-ordained boundaries has opened the floodgates of immorality. Sexual immorality in its many forms is moving through our culture like a wrecking ball leaving behind devastated lives.
The pagan philosophy of sex worship
Sexual self-determination has become one of the ‘values’ that now defines our culture. Fashions reflect a sex-worshipping culture. Flaunting one’s sexuality is now considered obligatory as a fashion statement (Are you endowed? It is your right, even your ‘duty’ to flaunt it).
This places enormous pressure on men to NOT think of women as sexual objects. A vast amount of mental energy is needed in order to think straight. Those of us who champion chastity represent a small minority. Images of a sexual nature are everywhere; it seems to be a plot to normalizeimmodesty.
Unprincipled women play their own part in this lie. They are deceived into thinking that the display of so much skin is a good thing; that men’s heads will turn admiringly as if by invisible power steering.
It’s a fallacy to think that a woman who initially gains a man’s interest through exposing her body will then find that he will respect her and her body. Women who lead with their sexuality are sadly mistaken to think that a man will eventually become interested in a commitment centered upon her character, heart, and personality.
Sexual immorality is idolatry
Illicit sex is a false integration point – it is clearly described in Scripture as an idol (Col 3:3-5). People turn to idols (in this case sexual immorality), in order to feel whole, fulfilled, alive, unified. But it is an attempt to feed something to the soul that is inedible.
Idols enslave, degrade, dehumanize, and fragment the soul. That is a part of the mystery of iniquity – that the misuse of God’s gift can damage the soul and ‘pulverize’ the image of God. (This is why demons work to enslave men to idols – their goal is to deface the image of God as much as possible).
This is why the Christian is to always be about the business of putting sin to death – mortification of sin is a life-long vocation and a mark of a true believer (Col 3:1-4; Rom 8:12-13). The flesh is hostile to the will of the Spirit (Gal 5:17). Therefore the flesh has no interest in living by faith.
The lower nature, or flesh, of the believer seeks pleasure, meaning, and fulfillment through temporal objects and experiences. As C. K. Barrett says in his commentary on 1 Corinthians, theearthy man (the Adamic nature) “materializes” all his needs; in other words, he takes his deepest needs to the world. (It takes ongoing acts of faith to take our needs to God in Christ.)
When the Christian gives in to the lusts of the flesh, the initial offer of desire, offer, and promise – is replaced by indulgence, defilement, guilt. The guilt comes from more obvious sources; namely an accusing conscience that knows it has violated God’s law.
The sense of shame, pollution, degradation, defilement that accompanies sexual sin is associated with placing an idol in the soul which promises unity, but instead further fragments the image of God. Sexual idolatry is sin against the divine unity of the image of God in man.
When a person indulges in sexuality outside of its divinely appointed context, a host of problems are generated which go far deeper than any physical problem. Like radioactive material with its half life of 1000’s of years, sexual immorality keeps generating fallout for years to come.
Idolatry degrades and weakens a man
The man who indulges his lusts in pornography afterwards feels deadened, hollowed out. His strength feels decimated. His conscience is defiled – he feels like a shadow of what he once was. One is reminded of the Proverb that speaks to that phenomenon of illicit sex robbing a man of strength (Prov 5:7-14).
Idols of lust hold us in their grasp because there is momentary pleasure involved when one indulges the lusts of deceit (Eph 4:22). Deception is inherent in the lusts of deceit because the pleasure is real enough to race the heart through bursts of adrenalin.
The passing pleasure of lust sins quickly evaporates; whereas the shame and guilt seem to take up abiding residence (Heb 11:25). The promise to satisfy and unify is an empty demonic lie.
There is a nearly infinite gulf between the brief pleasure the lust promises and the vast amount of actual emptiness and shame that it delivers. Like a tentacle from the pit, the shame fastens itself to the soul and won’t let go.
It takes hold of the individual and squeezes his conscience – like an alien presence, it plants thoughts of recrimination, “You’re subhuman, bestial, filthy, polluted.” “You deserve the leftovers of hog slop missed by the pigs. You have fed upon, leered at, indulged in vicarious sex with images of people you don’t even know. You are a coward – you have sex with pictures.”
The level of shame is always a surprise. It doesn’t seem commensurate with the violation. How could a few minutes of leering at an illicit image produce all these feelings of greasiness, and self-rejection?
The man lapsing into porn addiction doesn’t realize that female in the pornographic image is actually seducing him with an act as aggressive as a prostitute practicing entrapment (Proverbs chapters 5 & 7).
The harlot described in Proverbs 7 is greedy for male victims. She has an agenda to conquer men and make them weak and send them to hell by means of illicit sex. She uses sex to kill just as a serial killer would use a gun.
Few men have the wisdom to think of her activities in that way – but that’s because they don’t read Proverbs as men on a mission to gain wisdom. God has given us many metaphors from nature that can serve as ‘parables’ from the spiritual world.
The spider lures the unaware insect into her web. She wraps fragile silk strands around her victim one by one until it cannot move – only then does she administer the long lethal bite that not only paralyzes, but reduces the insides of the victim to a liquid from that she can consume its entrails by drinking – its insides are turned into a soup.
So also porn bites a man and hollows him out. It plays havoc with the unity of the image of God in him. It weakens him; it disembowels his soul – it stuns his conscience into numbness so that he cannot speak his convictions with boldness and confidence. He feels like a rank hypocrite when he tries to enforce principle in his dealings with others.
The inner accusations of hypocrisy stretch him to the limit as he attempts transparency with others – for he knows that his inner world has become a hideous sideshow of lustful images.
His inner world has become toxic. His desires rage – his passions take on an abnormal direction suggested by the perverse fantasies he has fed upon. He knows he has been bitten, but he returns to be bitten by porn again and again. What is the source of porn’s magnetism? Why does a man keep returning to be bitten when he knows it is radically self-destructive to do so?
The complex lure of pornography
The barbed hook of porn is not only baited with the promise of sexual pleasure; it also is baited with at least two other things that lure a man in. The first is the promise of the ideal woman. She is sexually free, beautiful, curvaceous, surrendered, aroused; in short, a sexual goddess ready to do the man’s bidding.
This is as much a part of the lie as the promise of sexual pleasure with a two-dimensional image. For the ideal woman does not exist. If she did, she would not be found in a pornographer’s film studio.
The sad women who sell their bodies to film makers are broken people themselves who act out fantasies for money. They are in the process of increasingly killing their own souls by mocking the act of marriage and making it into an act of whoredom.
The bottom line regarding the ideal woman is this – unfallen Eve was an ideal woman in this sense, like Adam, she was without physical blemish, and she was completely unselfish. Every natural woman and man since the Fall has been selfish, fearful, and filled with self love.
Therefore, since the Fall, the ideal woman exists only in the sinful psyche of man; in that part of man that worships and serves the creature and the creation instead of God (Rom 1:25).
A second part of the bait that lures the man in addition to the false promise of sexual gratification is this – pornographic images depict men who are supposedly potent, masculine, adequate – “capable of ravishing the woman and bringing her to surrender and ecstasy.”
Porn is about vicarious sex. The male user of porn cannot help but put himself in the place of the man depicted as potent conqueror of the woman. But this too is a lie. For the measure of a man is not his body, or his acting, or the shape of his woman. A man is measured by his ability to keep one woman fulfilled, cared for, and satisfied for life.
The moment a man becomes a ‘porn star,’ or actor in a porn film, he is by his actions admitting that his manhood is severely broken and that he is incapable of the adequacy required of monogamous marriage. He cannot give himself genuinely to one woman in a marriage covenant.
The enigma of Christians using porn
A Christian man who feeds upon porn is a contradiction in terms. For Christian is defined as one who follows Christ as his Master. A Christian is a person has experienced deliverance from the corruption that is in the world by lust (2 Pet 1:4).
The believer who starts a porn habit is choosing to hide from the moral majesty of God. He must tell himself some lies about God before he indulges his habit. He must reduce God’s transcendence to something finite. He must deny that the universe exists for, and is headed for one great event; namely the universal manifestation of God’s moral majesty; His holiness (2 Pet 3:11-14ff).
Redeemed man as the restored image of God is always to be about the business of beholding God. The porn addict acts as if he is out from under the presence of God – as if he can live as something other than a son of God – perhaps as something that lives under rocks and rotten logs with the toads and salamanders.
His divided heart steals the possibility of joy. The porn venom beckons to him as his mind turns to idle thoughts – the porn venom never stops promising something exciting; something to titillate the imagination with new curious things from the world of promiscuous images. Like Solomon of old (who collected silver, horses, and wives), the porn addict becomes an inveterate “collector” so to speak of mental images. Porn addicts have described this drive to view new images as insatiable.
The man’s desires become increasingly oriented to these images. The appetite for porn refuses to remain merely a forbidden hobby. The forbidden images demand dominion in the soul.
As Lewis Sperry Chafer once said, “Sin is spiritual insanity.” There is an inexplicable spiritualdeath wish that accompanies sin. Sin contains much of its own punishment. It hardens the heart; it cuts well-worn “grooves” in the soul to conduct its traffic. It trains in greed (2 Pet 2:14). It makes its practitioners into slaves. It makes the worshipper like his idol (Ps 115:8).
The power of porn to emasculate
Godly masculine strength is based upon delayed gratification. Self-control and self-denial produce the invaluable dividend of male strength. In our culture of pleasure and sex worship, the devil has pulled off a huge coup by defining freedom as indulgence of passions and desires. He ruins millions from each new generation with this lie.
The porn addict takes the precious possession of male strength and scatters it to the four winds. The strength to be able to stand for righteousness is a precious possession. But addiction to illicit material introduces a palpable rottenness in the core of the soul that neutralizes this strength. How can the sensual man take a stand against the injustices of our society?
He can’t; for a man’s strength is based upon his decision to delay gratification. The man who sows to self-gratification is a double-minded man. He cannot Haddress the wrongs of society with his whole being because he knows that his soul, like an unclean scavenger, feeds upon the putrefied carrion of pornography.
If he is new to this habit, his conscience accuses him and lashes him. If he is a veteran addict, then he has probably seared his conscience into a state of numbness; he has made a dangerous ‘peace’ with his controlling lusts. The heart trained in greed is the byproduct of living as a sensual opportunist as a lifestyle (2 Pet 2:14).
The ‘drug’ of eroticism
As mentioned previously – how is it that God’s gift of sexual relations, when removed from its sacred context of marriage, is so horrifically transformed and mutated into one of the most powerful idols on planet earth? How can the misuse of God’s gift become a vicious force which devours the entrails of the soul, hollowing out a man’s ribcage and leaving him a shell of what he was before?
When human sexuality is taken out of its God-ordained marriage context, it becomes porneia (the word for sexual immorality in N.T. Greek). Sex is only sacred when it is thoroughly woven and joined to its ‘triple cord’ of spiritual, covenantal meaning.
Pornography unravels the triple cord. When the sensual and physical are separated and parted from the triple cord of spirituality and covenant – one is left only with the erotic. When a personfeeds upon the erotic, he is changing the entire purpose of sexual relations to an animal act. It makes the woman an object of lust; a plaything to be used and discarded.
Reducing God’s gift of sexuality to the erotic is to dig a bottomless pit of shame. Like stinking crude oil; the pit bubbles up new installments of shame, defiling and contaminating the person who feeds upon eroticism.
What is it about our sin nature that is attracted to the unraveled cord of eroticism? The answer is complicated, but worth pursuing. Man was made to be in covenant with God and in covenant with his mate.
This covenant arrangement in marriage is meant to be a safeguard to prevent abuse, infidelity, immorality. The covenant not only guards; it also is meant to provide the ideal environment for sacrificial love, provision, patience, protection, commitment, communication, and a host of other virtues which manifest the image of God (see the fruit of the Spirit, Gal 5:22-24).
All these virtues in action within the marriage covenant keep sexuality beautiful and insulate it from abuse. But when the erotic strand is hanging alone (outside the marriage covenant), it calls out to our male flesh with its lusts of deceit. Its bogus promises go deep into the psyche of male-female gender dynamics.
It’s the reduction of sex to the erotic that makes pornography poisonous. Our culture is over the edge in its consumption of the lies surrounding pornography. Hefner’s adult entertainment empire began with a slick magazine, Playboy, which offered pinup poses of supposedly everyday women.
But the philosophy of Playboy magazine is as dangerous as the soft porn inside its cover. The philosophy pushes its two-pronged distortion in every issue: 1.) Women, including career women, are sexual beings, objects who exist for your pleasure. 2.) Sexual eroticism (sex outside of marriage) is like a harmless toy. You can use sex in that way and have women as your sexual ‘playmates’ and experience no consequences.
It’s a wonder that feminist political activists have not taken the action necessary to yank every pornographic magazine and video from the shelves of stores. For nothing degrades and cheapens women like eroticism. It makes women into objects, playthings to be used and cast away.
Fallen man is promiscuous by nature
Scripture says that the eyes of man are never satisfied (Prov 27:20). Man’s coveting drives his promiscuity. Man wants everything he can get; even if it does not belong to him. Because man’s satisfaction is not in God; the sinner’s discontentment and lusts team up to enslave him (Heb 2:15). No wonder Paul said that godliness and contentment go hand in hand (1 Tim 6:6).
Consider the aspects of human depravity which incline men toward a fixation upon the erotic. 1.) Depraved man is wanton. He abdicates his role as steward of God’s creative work and misuses the resources entrusted to his care. By nature he shies away from sacrificial commitment. He takes what he wants and moves on. 2.) Sinful man does not like to engage in the risk of giving his entire being to another person. He resists the fear and work involved in giving his mind, heart, soul, and emotions to another person. In his sin nature, he would rather reduce sex to a physical act that does not require the emotional transparency of heart and soul. 3.) Man by nature fears being subjugated and humiliated by a woman. He longs to keep his power and honor. He shudders to think of being in a relationship which would emotionally emasculate him. Porn’s false promise of masculine strength and female submission and desire actually feeds a man’s cowardice. In eroticism, there is none of the risk involved in bonding and communicating between equals. Love requires self-sacrifice, lust is consumed with getting. 4.) Porn promises perfect bodies, nubile, lusty, and unbridled male adequacy. Inseparable from eroticism is fantasy about male adequacy. The inadequacy fears in the man are “alleviated” by the degradation of women into sex objects who require only physical acts. 5.) Men angry at their mothers over the issue of control and emotional dependency can find porn irresistible because porn is a “legal” form of revenge against women. Porn lets a male be a conquering hero with his female sex slave surrendered in his imagination.
All the reasons listed above incline sinful man to fixate upon the erotic.
Porn constructs a mindset, or vantage point of eroticism
Lest the reader be discouraged by the abundance of information about porn’s grasp; consider that there is value in knowing how porn holds its captives and in knowing the strength of porn’s grasp.
Though the promises of porn are false leave a man hollowed out – the addiction is reinforced by the shame, the adrenaline, and the pleasure. But the fallout from using pornography is indeed costly. Consider some to the consequences that occur in a man’s thought patterns: 1.) The male finds that he has built a ‘radar’ in himself that is always on the look out for variety to add to his promiscuous collection of erotic images. 2.) He finds it is extremely difficult to shake his vantage point of women as sex objects. 3.) He begins to undress every woman in his mind; he finds he cannot turn off this device. 4.) Erotic shameful thoughts make incursions into, and invade his most spiritual moments.
Indulging in porn’s passing ‘pleasure’ increases the grip of its lie
Who would have guessed that the single erotic cord unraveled from the triple cord of God’s design could have such reigning power over a man? Who would have guessed that it would refuse to be an occasional tenant, but demand sole occupation of the heart? Who would have guessed that evicting it 10,000 times would not dishearten its importunate demands for access to, and dominion of the soul?
Once the erotic ‘genie’ has escaped; it is nearly impossible to stuff its looming image back into the bottle with its stopper firmly sealed in place. Like the loss of innocence, eroticism indulged in cuts a groove or highway in the soul upon which sexual fantasies travel.
Pleasure and adrenaline reinforce the pathway. Regardless of the shame, the pleasure is real, but momentary. The fact that there is pleasure is the reason there is shame. The man’s conscience will not allow him to live undisturbed when he attempts to derive pleasure as a voyeur. To take pleasure through lurid voyeurism is to take what doesn’t belong to you; it is a form of theft and coveting. It’s beneath a man’s created dignity. That’s why the conscience protests and generates shame.
When men indulge in porn, its inherent lies are increasingly treated as if they were truths. This is a danger greater than we can comprehend. Sin blinds as it beguiles. It hides its soul-destroying capabilities behind temporal thrills.
Momentary pleasure and excitement preoccupy the man so that he is distracted from thinking clearly about the deception involved in using porn. As the pleasure path is cut deeper, the ability to confront the lies weakens.
Building a strategy against eroticism
In a media-saturated culture that worships sex few men have been spared exposure to the erotic images of porn. The question as Christian men is; what is our main line of defense against eroticism?
We’ve seen so far that porn conceals its soul-damning lies behind a mask of titillating pleasure. We faced with a temptation we see the potential of pleasure first – it is what is most obvious from a distance. What we don’t see without searching for it carefully is the lie behind the offer of titillation.
This is why Paul told Timothy, flee youthful lust. Don’t try your strength against it. Don’t experiment and see how much you can take. Don’t toy with it in curiosity and wonder, asking as you look at it what is it about this that attracts me? No, the Apostle’s command is flee youthful lusts (2 Tim 2:22). Make no provision for the flesh to feed it lusts. If we know where the images are; PLAN to keep your distance from them.
As men we are particularly vulnerable when we are emotionally high and confident. And we are especially vulnerable when we are low, depressed, and tired. When we are low and life has beat us up; self-pity is just a thought away. The offer of sensual comfort and excitement can lure us to drop our guard.
We become less vigilant. We are more vulnerable to the awful lie perpetrated in the wilderness; if God doesn’t care then I don’t either. But we must be warned by the statements in Hebrews 3-4.“Take care brethren, lest there be in any one of you an evil unbelieving heart, in falling away from the living God” (3:12).
If unbelief is allowed to gain a toe hold in our hearts, it can change our perspective radically. The longer unbelief is allowed to be an intruder, the more danger we face. It can make us change our perspective from that of a soldier of Christ to that of a sensual opportunist ready to gaze at forbidden images that degrade and enslave.
The command to make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts must be fortified with the faith that God does care. By faith I live for His fellowship, love, approval. That is the believer’s response to believing in His grace and His love.
If we are going to beat sensuality, we’ll have to beat it at its own game. It operates by using an extremely clever lie; what you’re about to see is exciting, free, harmless, and satisfying.
We must bombard it with truth until it looks as hideous as it really is! When you “out-truth” it, you strip away its pleasure disguise and expose the lie beneath.
That’s our battle plan. BE READY, and stay on the alert by having preached to yourself the truth as a habit. You must have prepared sermons to yourself. You must have these sermons ready; memorize them so that you can keep preaching them to yourself. Otherwise you stand a good chance of being suddenly ambushed by sensual images.
Our strategy is to go beneath the offer of pleasure to expose the hideousness of the lie. That’s the first part of our battle plan. The following is a partial catalog of the hidden wickedness associated with porn:
Porn is an idol, just as tangible as the idol Molech who devoured the infants of Israel by means of human sacrifice.
Porn promises joyful integration, but like an alien parasite, it incubates its offspring of shame, addiction, and soul fragmentation.
Porn further obscures the image of God by denying the spiritual dimension of sex and offering the erotic in its place. By animalizing sex, women are made into sex objects, and men into craven users.
Porn does not reflect reality. The actors are troubled people who take money to act out fantasies; their lives are on a collision course with disease and disaster.
Porn is war upon God’s moral government. Human history began with God’s moral government instituting the covenant of marriage. Porn is at war with God and His merciful institutions from day one.
Porn degrades human societies because men are taught through eroticism to sow to their passions. Sex out of control breeds crimes of every stripe.
Porn removes a man’s will power to stay free by enslaving him. Freedom under God’s moral government can only be maintained by vigilance in self-control and self-denial.
Porn exists for financial reasons; to promote its own industry – to fish for new victims, dupes, and stooges. Porn serves the industry of prostitution by dragging men into predation and the use of prostitutes, and it degrades women actresses by drawing them into a lifestyle of harlotry.
Porn has a hardening effect upon its users. By means of its lies against God it sears the conscience by progressively deadening a man to the fear of God. Porn kills the ability to reason rationally about morality.
Porn mocks the redemptive imagery of the marriage covenant. Marriage is designed to imageChrist’s love for His Church and His mystical union with her.
Porn sets voracious forces to work in a man’s soul which hollow him out by reducing his vantage point to that of a lusting beast consumed with the erotic.
Porn sows to the ‘so what’ unbelieving attitude of cynicism that says, I’m not convinced that being sold out to holiness is truly worth it.
Building a case for obedience
As believers, our obedience is faith driven. Hebrews 3-4 uses the words faith and obedience interchangeably. It makes perfect sense then that we must feed our faith in order to obey consistently.
One key way to feed our faith is to build a case for obedience. All good preaching has the element of persuasion. Good preaching addresses the mind, the affections, the conscience, and the will.
When we learn to build a case for obedience; we are learning to preach to ourselves. Rather than providing a complete sermon to preach to self, it is the goal of this author to provide some of the categories that belong in a good ‘self sermon.’ Let the reader fill in his own particulars.
1.) List the reasons and benefits for obedience (fellowship with God, walk in the light, usefulness, joy, divine approval, blessing, maturity, etc.).
2.) List the consequences of disobedience (broken fellowship, guilt, shame, dishonor to God, character compromise, addiction, etc.).
3.) Do a detailed debriefing of the last time you failed in this area (can’t you testify to the deceptiveness of the lust involved? Weren’t the consequences greater than the pleasure?).
4.) Describe the joy that accompanies obedience to God. Unfold the arguments for why obedience puts us in a place for divine blessing.
5.) Explain to yourself how self-control fits us for spiritual leadership.
6.) Tell yourself that your patterns of self-control now are essential to be ready for the wife God has for you. List the reasons why the believer is to grow in character. Growth in character comes about by stringing together countless moments of faith and obedience.
7.) Select case histories from the Old and New Testaments of how a man’s character grew or declined based upon the absence or presence of self-control.
8.) Reiterate the priority that holiness is happiness – God has no other plan for sharing His happiness in His children but by holiness.
9.) Reflect on the strength and peace that accompany a clear conscience. Think about the remorse that has followed when the preciousness of a clear conscience was temporarily thrown away.
10.) Realize that God intends to use you mightily if you (by His power) develop a track record of putting sin to death. (Then He will allow you to use your failures and successes in the instruction of others.)
11.) Equate conformity to Christ with a willingness to live as God’s possession and reflect His moral image.
These and other truths must be preached personally in order to ‘out truth’ the lies that pornography uses in order to beguile.
Christ is our completeness
Through union with Christ the believer experiences the benefits of Christ’s cross, risen life, and intercession. When a believer has become temporarily enmeshed in pornography, the same devil that at first tempted in the direction of laxness and curiosity, now tempts the convicted believer in the direction of despair.
It is necessary to reckon completeness in Christ in order to gain the courage necessary to mortify sin. Christ is our completeness in God’s sight. Our performance is so variable – we are called to make inroads against every form of sin in our life; but Christ is the source of our relationship with God. We are to reflect upon our relationship with God as it is settled in Christ (Col 2:10).
The truth of our completeness in Christ will renew our courage to believe that Christ holds us; keeps us; and is the immutable cause of our relationship with God being secure and settled. It’s from this secure foundation that we can again reckon God’s love and fight sin again with renewed vigor.
Christ calls and commands those who belong to Him to be overcomers. All who belong to Him will overcome. The thought life reflects precisely where a man’s loyalties reside. What comes through the eye gate feeds the thought life. The thought life reflects precisely where a man’s loyalties reside. Every godly man practices daily taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor 10:5-6).
How our bodies are used clearly reflects who our master is (every person will give an account of how his or her body was used – God is the ultimate owner of our bodies –
1 Cor 6:19-20).
The self control needed to keep all of a man’s passions in check (hate, malice, anger, etc.) is closely associated with a man’s control over his sexual drives. Therefore the strength needed to rule his passions is inseparable from the self-control necessary to manage his libido.
If he is ruled by his libido; he will lose the desire to remain free. His passions will escape his control and he will be weak. The abandonment of self-control is a decision for enslavement. Either the man rules over his own spirit; or some lust or passion rules over him (Prov16:32; 25:28). All true repentance over sensuality must take the above into consideration.
It’s the believer who knows he is beloved of God; who lives as the possession of God who is best suited to make “no surrender!” his battle cry.
The power of sexual lust
In this paper eroticism in all its illicit forms is compared to the splitting of the atom. For in sexual immorality a force is released in the human spirit that seeks to rule over a man the rest of his life. In that sense the battle to conquer sexual lust is compared to, or designated, “putting the genie back in the bottle.”
Rather than referring to God’s gift as “sex,” this author prefers to dignify the gift by intentionally removing it from the world’s vernacular. Biblical terminology for sexual relations between husband and wife are as follows: relations; know; marital duty; join; drink from your own well; lie with; etc.
The point being, the Scriptures prefer idiomatic expressions for marital sexual relations as opposed to technical language (our English term, “sex” is drawn from biology). In this paper God’s gift of marital sexual relations will be designated the act of marriage, sexual relations, or marital relations.
So powerful is God’s gift of marital relations that it is the very “glue” that binds two into one; man and woman become “one flesh” (1 Cor 6:15, 16).
The research done on human sexuality by Masters and Johnson took the act of marriage out of the divine context proscribed by God. The researchers placed sexual relations into the general category of human behavior (they treated is it as amoral; as if it were a behavior that could be grouped with eating or sleeping).
In seeking to demystify, or understand human sexuality, the researchers erased God’s definition of the act of marriage in the process. By treating God’s gift as merely a body function, the researchers made it ordinary, matter of fact – like any other felt need.
Some would argue that the research they did between 1957 and the 1990’s assisted the medical treatment of sexual dysfunction. But their research also had an effect upon morality; it added momentum to the sexual revolution that was already underway. After all, if science could study human sexual relations in a laboratory (between unmarried participants); outside the context of the marriage covenant; then why doesn’t the public have the “right” to engage in sexual activity outside of any covenant considerations?
It is this author’s contention that the act of marriage is filled with divine mystery and wisdom; it is too complex for us to say we have it all figured out.
To reduce it to an anatomical function alone is to degrade God’s gift. There are too many strands that make up the act of marriage to reduce it to a physical/emotional behavior.
There is the strand of the marriage covenant (the first God-given ordinance); there is the spiritual strand (it has the power to make two into one flesh); there is the strand of shared source (at creation the man was the source of the first woman’s body, ever since Eve, woman through conception is the source of man’s body); there is the strand of physiological differences as source of sexual desire and interest; there is the strand of the love commitment; there is the strand of knowing the other person at the depth of their soul; there is the strand of finding completeness in one’s marriage partner.
One of the great tragedies in our culture is that the act of marriage has been trivialized. The wonderful mysterious cord that God has woven has been unraveled. The covenant strands and spiritual strands that bind the cord together have been thrown away; while the erotic strand has been retained and worshipped.
In our culture, the act of marriage to a great degree has been severed from the higher, spiritual part of man’s being and reduced to an animal passion. As men we know all too well that we are naturally sight attracted. That which titillates the senses runs ahead, and outpaces the spiritual. Our lower nature is easilymagnetized by the erotic strand; its power to excite makes it appear that it can thrill; make a man feel alive; even vivify his masculine soul.
But Scripture tells us that when the erotic strand is unraveled from the covenant cord of God’s making it cannot stand alone – it instantly becomes pornea (Grk.-- sexual immorality). It damages the soul of man; it is death. “Flee” is the biblical mandate; don’t trust your passions; don’t let them set the standard for your behavior (1 Cor 6:18).
One of the mightiest of God’s gifts, the act of marriage, when removed from the marriage covenant is perverted into sexual immorality. This is a profound truth set forth in Scripture; that by perverting a virtue (or God-given gift) a world of lusts and soul-destroying idols are formed and unleashed in the process.
God’s precious gift of sexual relations, when ripped from its covenant context, becomes an idol capable of defacing the image of God. Man as the image of God was created to find his “integration” in God (byintegration is meant his life, unity, harmony, and completeness).
They worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever, Amen (Rom 1:25). Francis Schaeffer defines an idol as a false integration point. When man takes his deepest needs to something in creation; it becomes an idol, or false integration point. The latent spiritual evil in a false integration point is beyond our comprehension.
Ephesians 4:22 describes sensual false integration points as “the lusts of deceit.” This is significant to our argument; namely that the illicit objects of sexual lust are filled with deception. What they promise – fulfillment and satisfaction – they cannot deliver.
The deception factor is bound up in the fact that they do impart momentary pleasure; even excitement. The temporal pleasure is the “hook.” But a lust of deceit can never be transmuted into true satisfaction. A lust will always remain “bogus bread” that cannot do anything to nourish the soul (Is 55:2).
As a result, the sexual idolater (laboring under the deception that satisfaction can be found in lust) pursues the object of his lust with greater vigor. The tragedy is that it trains the heart in greed (2 Pet 2:14).
The pursuit of sensual fulfillment “cuts a behavioral groove” so to speak; it can cause a person to practice every kind of impurity with greediness (Eph 4:19). (To use an old analogy; it’s like the shipwrecked man imbibing larger and larger amounts of sea water to slake his thirst. The sea is wet and cold – those first gulps appear to give a moment of relief; but no amount of saltwater can satisfy his thirst; it kills him instead.)
Man was made for God. The Lord alone can satisfy. When a man turns to a false integration point; it is like attempting to cram a 175 pound man into a one gallon garbage pail – he just won’t fit. It cannot accommodate him; it bends him, contaminates him, and crumples him up in the process. His Creator and Redeemer alone can integrate him; fulfill him; and satisfy him.
When lusts born of self-love are pursued; it makes us ignoble – that is it makes us base and dishonorable (think about the man made in God’s image trying to cram himself into the garbage pail – he throws away his dignity in so doing).
But when the believer is intoxicated with God; he is ennobled in the process (his dignity and calling are affirmed and uplifted). God alone can bring integration (wholeness, unity, and satisfaction) to the creature made in His image and likeness.
These truths are more important than ever because our culture has moved off of its Judeo-Christian base into the quicksand of neo-paganism. We can use cell phones to text message each other using satellite technology, but as a culture, we’ve slowly descended into the worst kind of naiveté. We are increasingly oblivious to the deleterious effects of sexual sin upon the soul and society.
Men for the life of them are unable to find a strong enough reason NOT to live as sensual opportunists. Like a beast of burden with a ring in the nose, they can be led about by their lusts. They resemble detritus floating in sea; they are carried in and out by the tide; they do not have their feet on the bottom.
Men walk about in sleep mode. When it comes to moral purity; they are merely treading water; they are not swimming upstream. They do not have enough steel in their spines to rescue their brethren who have polluted themselves (Jude 20-23).
All the cultural ethical barriers to sexual impurity are gone. All the conditions necessary for the worship of sex are in place. Like a huge wrecking ball, philosophic naturalism has systematically pounded away at theism until the floodgates of immorality cannot be held back any longer.
Recent statistics on internet porn use do not bode well for our nation’s future: The National Coalition for the Protection of Children and Families polled the students of five Christian campuses. 48% of the males currently used pornography and 69% said that they had accessed a pornography site while on campus.
A 1996 Promise Keepers poll revealed that 50% of the men in attendance had viewed pornography within one week of the event.
Rick Warren’s website for pastors (www.pastor.com) uncovered the following statistic: 54% of evangelical pastors had viewed pornography within the year and 30 % within the last month.
Focus on the Family found that 46% of families said that pornography was a problem within the home (Focus Poll, October 1, 2003).
The site www.blazinggrace.org under “porn statistics” cites that cyberporn is a one billion dollar industry that is expected to swell to 5-7 billion in the next five years.
These stats are nothing short of terrifying. It means that the evil one is making incredible inroads in his strategy to undermine the moral fiber of spiritual leaders at home and church.
We’re living in a culture that has lost its ability to navigate ethically; Satan is capitalizing upon this moral vacuum with all his might. There is a kind of double speak that would scandalize our founding fathers; pornography is called free speech. Good is called evil and evil is called good (Is 5:20).
From the beginning God announced His plan to make man in His image. With this proclamation comes man’s entire identity and purpose (as the image of God, man is made to know, love, and serve God – to be as much like God as a creature can be). Lucifer’s plot was to oppose God’s plan; the devil sought to do this by corrupting the image of God through lies and idolatry. Satan’s lie is not merely calculated error – it is a murderous weapon used to damn the soul (Jn 8:44).
Consider some of the elements of his lie: master-less freedom is attainable; one may break away from, and transcend creaturehood by seeking divinity; personal autonomy is realized by trusting one’s own reason above divine revelation; rebelling against God creates a new order and a new reality; one may choose right and wrong for oneself without divine consequences; the soul is self-determined and unconquerable.
Satan has passed on his own self-deception to the human race. He offered his own wicked epistemology to our first parents. Darkness flooded the soul as a result. Pseudo-freedom wed itself to all of the lusts of the world. Man, by his apostasy from God, set in motion moral and spiritual disorder. Forces of decay, corruption, and bondage took hold of the universe.
We must always remember the temporary nature of Satan’s kingdom. It is an immense kingdom; but it is built upon the foul stinking sands of human and angelic crime against heaven. When God finally deals decisively with the crime; every vestige of the kingdom will be gone.
For the present we are locked in combat. We still have a hell to avoid and a heaven to gain. It’s time we stop telling ourselves that porn is simply a secret forbidden, dirty little pleasure. Let’s call it what it really is – a cruise missile in Satan’s arsenal. It can enslave and degrade – it can make a man feel like a walking septic tank.
Porn is a powerful weapon aimed at the soul. 1 Peter 2:11 tells us that fleshly lusts wage war against the soul. It has the destructive power to hollow out a man and make him a shell of what he was. The very faculties of soul needed for love, empathy, tenderness, and responsiveness to God are enlisted for craving and greed instead.
It can fragment the soul and deface the image of God and make a man into a moral coward. It can neutralize a man spiritually – it so defiles the conscience that a man loses his ability to be fierce for the truth. It sheathes his sword and fills him with a sense of hypocrisy; it makes him ambivalent about ministry.
Like radioactive fallout; it keeps dispensing disgust and self-hate; the man who uses it feels more like a drooling beast than the crown of God’s creation. As such it continues to kick out shame as a man’s appetites settle onto base things.
Christian men must tell themselves the truth about pornography; it is a satanic weapon that wages war against the soul. Porn is not merely about forbidden objects of desire – it is a worldview about the body; about sexual relations; about supposed rights; about the enthronement of lust. It is nothing short of war against God.
The work which needs to be done in order to be an overcomer must be done at a very deep level. A man will have to do more than simply say to himself, “I must make it a point not to look at porn anymore.”
Once the genie is out of the bottle – the memory of illicit pleasure is imprinted on the psyche. A man will need concrete arguments to do the labor necessary to carve new mental grooves of purity and self control.
A strategy for overcoming sexual lust
The lusts that have held us are animated by lies. Scripture refers to these lie-driven lusts as the lusts of deceit(Eph 4:22). The secret to overcoming the controlling power of lust is in deconstructing the lies that drive sensual lust. But this is precisely where we are lazy thinkers.
We hesitate to actually exert the mental energy necessary to out-truth the lies behind the lusts – but we must do this in order to succeed.
The world has always offered itself as genuine source. I think of my experience with an advertising firm. Ad writing was about finding and uncovering felt needs – and then matching the product to those desires with the promise of satisfaction.
God tells us that if one is a friend of the world; he is an enemy of God (James 4:4). To be a friend of the world is to believe the lie that the world is one’s true source. So antithetical are God and the world in terms ofsource; that to regard the world as source is to be an avowed enemy of God.
The lie that sensuality can be source is the first lie we will have to deconstruct. When we are exercising faith in God we are relying upon Him as source. God and the world maintain an inverse proportion as to trusted source – to the degree that God is our source; the world will not be our source (and visa versa).
We must preach the truth to ourselves with enough conviction to drown out and expose the lie. The Christian man must be on the offensive in this matter. He has no choice. For you were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth, trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. And do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret (Eph 5:12).
Here is the truth; sensuality serves no constructive purpose outside of the context created by God. The act of marriage is the very “epoxy,” or soul glue that is graciously given by God to bind the soul of a man and woman together.
A man must be able to tell himself that illicit eroticism can do nothing for him. There is no food or drink there – it is empty. All it can do is stir up animal passions that will make him slither and crawl instead of soar the heights with his God. If a man stoops to sip from the eroticism cistern; he will lose sight of his lofty and privileged calling as the image and glory of God.
We grieve to see photos of Brazilian orphans sniffing glue in the alleys of Rio de Janeiro (we are saddened because their effort to escape emotional pain brings upon them greater suffering). God grieves when He sees us sniffing the glue of erotic pleasure outside the covenant of marriage.
When a man’s faculties of soul are given over to sensuality; there is an accompanying deadness that sets in. The very aspects of the soul that are needed for empathy, compassion, sacrificial love, and tenderness toward God are shut down by sensual abandon. Scripture describes this effect upon the soul as callousness. In the same verse it goes on to say that the man sold out to sensuality practices impurity with greediness (Eph 4:19).
The lie and the fleeting pleasure work together. A moment of pleasure is followed by enduring shame. The sensual man seeks to string together his sensual experiences in order to sustain the pleasure – the attempt is manifested by a heart increasingly trained in greed (2 Pet 2:14).
This pattern is only broken when work is done in the recesses of the soul. The lie must be excavated, exposed, and refuted (say in your prayer to God, “Lord, I abominate that lie!”).
As a defender of the institution of marriage, the Christian man will have to preach to himself the boundaries God has erected to safeguard the sanctity of the act of marriage. We must make sure that what God has safeguarded (sacredness of marital relations by the high walls of marital fidelity) we guard as well in our thoughts and desires. We are to reason our way through these issues with solid biblical thinking.
Happy is the man who knows the ways of the Lord; and wise is the man who knows the modus operandi of sin. Iniquity has a kind of life of its own – it brooks no competitors; accepts no truce.
The cuckoo lays its eggs in other birds’ nests. The cuckoo chick upon hatching pushes all the eggs of the natural mother out of the nest so that all the parents’ food and energies go completely into raising the alien parasite chick.
Sin behaves in a similar manner. It seeks to eliminate any competition for its host’s time, talent, and affection. Wise is the man who knows that sin never abides in a static position; it is either being conquered; or is conquering. We either overcome it or are overcome by it.
Sin can’t wait to initiate a coup; a hostile takeover. It will slander God in order to sustain its existence. It will publish the most horrific lies about God in order to seduce one sinner by its promised charms.
Sin gets its foothold by our doubting God. This is why it is so important to watch over one’s heart with all diligence. Our spiritual loyalty or treason begins with our thought life. It’s hard to surpass this bit of prose for illustrating the importance of thoughts: Sow a thought; reap an action; sow an action; reap a habit; sow a habit; reap a character; sow a character; reap a destiny.
R. C. Sproul reminds us, right now counts forever. Or as one pastor quipped, today you are becoming what you will be five years from now.
We must always make sure there is nothing between us and heaven. Don’t keep your disenchantments to yourself. Pray your complaints to God as David did. When we stew on a complaint; we set ourselves up for murmuring and an evil heart of unbelief (Heb 3:12).
Share your thought life with the Father – make your thoughts an occasion for fellowship with the Father.Walk in the presence of God as Abraham did (Gen 17:1). Cultivate integrity knowing that your life is lived in the presence of God.
Keep holding fast to Christ; He is your entire eligibility for God’s endless favor. Find your joy in Christ – He is your qualification for sonship and blessing. Reckon your sonship – that God holds you in His heart as a son. Draw strength from the fact that God is for your manhood -- He is for your godly masculinity more than you can possibly know.
The maturing Christian has learned to be a physician to his own soul. He knows the particular kind of distemper that he is prone to fall into. He knows how to preach to his own heart. He sees temptation at a distance; he is aware of his vulnerability. He knows the appropriate biblical remedies for each disorder; whether laxity, guilt, presumption, self-righteousness, or discouragement.
Most of all he has learned to feed his soul on the precious things of God. He is in touch with his deepest longings; He attaches them to God. He goes to God each day for delight. He feeds on grace so that he will never lack courage to run to God for new installments of love, acceptance, mercy, and grace (Heb 4:16).
He nourishes his soul on the excellence of heavenly things; the things above (Col 3:1-2). He knows that to behold God’s glory by faith puts resolve in the will; it enables a man to trample upon all that the world offers. Therefore he is intentional; he keeps going to Scripture to meditate upon God’s glory.
He is cross-centered. This drives his thinking process. God gave Christ so that we would die to our own carnal cause and be resurrected to a new cause. You have been regenerated so that God’s cause will become your cause (2 Cor 5:14, 15). And what is God’s cause? He created the universe for His glory – and now in human history He is calling out and preparing a people to live with Him forever (Titus 2:14).
If God’s cause is your cause; then you are using the best of your time talent and affection to prepare people to live with God forever. This is ultimate reality. To the degree God’s cause is your cause; you are in touch with reality. For at the very moment Christ appears it will be game over. All other value systems other than kingdom values will be blown away as chaff and burned; they will disappear into oblivion.
The more clearly we perceive our spiritual calling as men, the more we will rouse ourselves to answer the call. The Christian man is under covenant obligation to provide spiritual leadership in his home and church.
The believing man is to put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts(Rom 13:14). Christ is your entire sphere -- He is your identity; your purpose; your life; your source; your hope; your joy; your access to God; your righteousness. When you put on the Lord Jesus Christ you are reckoning Him as your entire sphere of being (this is a huge line of defense against the sensual and against making provision for lust).
Christ has called you to incredible liberty. You cannot fathom the amount of freedom you have in Christ. It is a freedom so lofty that it is dangerous if not immediately plowed into service.
Galatians 5:13 says, for you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. We are not to practice our faith in a private andquietistic fashion. We must be intentional and proactive in our service to the Body of Christ. Your freedom can be dangerous if not channeled into love and service.
When first born again we discovered a new found hunger for the milk of the Word. We had a bottle in one hand and, instead of a rattle, a sword in the other. That is our calling. We are issued a sword. We learn to wield it on ourselves so that we can wield it on others. It is a sword that heals when it cuts. When it cuts it brings repentance.
When Jesus called the disciples to follow Him; they left their nets. He told them that they would be fishing for men from then on. Isn’t that interesting; in the Gospel age the dominion mandate (make the earth fruitful) has been superseded by a higher mandate – fish for men; make disciples.
If you are a disciple of Christ; you are to use the sword He has issued to you to bring spiritual order to the sphere in which you operate. You are to use your sword to promote and advance the Kingdom of God. You are to radically identify with your Lord; you are to take your marching orders from Him. You are to be controlled by a transcendent cause that is not understood by common men. You are to be a commando for Christ and no longer a common man.
You must be bold for righteousness sake. So evident must your loyalty be to Christ that your brothers seek out your company in order to gain courage for the fight. Know your place on the battlefield. In the time of Moses when the children of Israel were in the wilderness; each dedicated believer did his part in wilderness survival.
You are crossing the wilderness of this world. How will you assist your brothers in navigating through this wasteland of salt called the world? Will your life and words give them heart so that they are motivated to suffer for the sake of righteousness and eschew compromise? Admonish your brothers – Christ is your King.
You are to present the members of your body to Him each day. Your lifestyle is public knowledge in heaven – it is front page news. When you present the members of your body to Christ and righteousness; those around you will be able to see clearly who your real Master is.
Reason your way through these things – we are under the lordship of Christ; sin is insubordination. Let our minds turn to this the next time we are tempted to be slack in resisting sensual sin; “How can I counsel my brothers to strive after integrity if I permit sensual compromise in my own life?”
We must cultivate a clear conscience. This was Paul’s conviction – he proclaimed before Felix that he practiced this spiritual discipline of maintaining a clear conscience (Acts 24:15, 16).
Out of reverence for the Lord Paul kept short accounts with God. Paul feared God; he preached to himself the ineffable principle of moral cause and effect. Paul was a careful with his conscience as the best accountant is with his books.
So closely and intimately do the Spirit of God and the conscience of the believer work together that the Puritans used to counsel, be kind to the Spirit. In other words; it is the Spirit who educates and sensitizes the conscience. When you heed Him; you are also heeding your conscience.
The conscience can make us bold or cowardly depending upon our diligence or lack thereof to keep it clear. Even one sin banging around and rolling around in the conscience (like a golf ball in an empty railroad car) can kill our confidence to go to God for love, favor, and acceptance.
When we seek to keep our conscience clear we are literally maintaining our relationship with the Lord. (We know that He chose us and called us; but He commands us to abide in His love – Jn 15:9.)
Maturing Christians meditate upon Scripture – this involves building a case for obedience and building a case against disobedience. Here is the great difference between merely reading Scripture and actually meditating upon God’s Word. When the believer meditates on the Word; he literally preaches to himself the will of God; the wonders of God; the ways of God; and the works of God.
Meditation on the Word equips us to obey God’s commands. Scripture constantly joins divine commands to the benefits of obedience (How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked – Psalm 1:1). And Scripture spells out the consequences of disobedience (He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm – Proverbs 13:20).
To meditate upon Scripture is to familiarize oneself with the benefits of obedience and the consequences of disobedience. The growing believer learns to mentally wrestle and argue through the imperatives of Scripture. The divine “logic” for obedience must become the believer’s logic.
We must learn to love the truth in order to be conformed to it. The Christian worldview is incredibly demanding. We must know the reasons for self denial; for daily taking up our cross.
Hebrews 6:11, 12 tells us that we must show the same diligence as the saints who have gone before us – so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. We can only run the race set before us with stamina if we fix our eyes on Jesus and lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us (Heb 12:2).
It is the remnant, the minority, the few that shall be saved in the end. Jesus said many are called but few are chosen (Mt 22:14). Narrow is the way that leads to life and few are those who find it (Mt 7:14). “Few, few, few,” let this sink into our heads. It is but a small number that find eternal life.
The majority are on the broad road that leads to destruction. The majority have never sold all in order to gain Christ, the Pearl of great price (Mt 13:45, 46). The multitudes sleep the sleep of spiritual complacency.
Compared to the sleeping majority, those on the narrow way appear to be eccentric, fanatical, overboard. But, the little remnant, by God’s grace, has seen the infinite value of gaining eternal heaven with Immanuel. Therefore they are violent; they seize the kingdom of God by force and won’t let go. They do violence to their own sins. They do violence to their reputation in the world – caring not for the praise of men.
They daily preach to themselves the infinite value and privilege of knowing Christ. Every morning they calculate and weigh up the whole of temporal life and count it all as loss compared to the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus (Phil 3:8).
This is not an abstract truth that evades our understanding. As men we are called to sell all; to count all as loss in comparison to knowing Christ savingly, eternally. It is easy to see how this applies to our combat against the lust of the flesh.
We fight sin by means of a higher affection. We defeat sin by loving a superlative object of affection and desire. We say no to sin by displaying the supremacy of Christ to our affections.
Christ as our highest love has a power over our souls to expel inferior objects of affection. This is why it is so important to preach the Gospel to ourselves each day. For the Gospel sets forth the believing sinner’s right to Christ. It tells us of God’s plan that He is glorified and we are saved when we keep taking Christ for all the reasons God gave Him.
The spiritual truths of God’s holy Word are often paradoxical to our natural reasoning. For example, Jesus declared that it is only the man who is willing to lose his life for Christ’s sake who will save it.
The subject of the human conscience is also contains a truth that is a paradox. In eternity, every person’s conscience will either be a source of everlasting bliss or a place of unending agony. That indeed is the irony, that the same God-given faculty should produce such contrasting states of existence. Depending upon one’s eternal destiny, one’s conscience will be either the source of his joy or misery.
This author recently read a bumper sticker that said, “Blast guilt!” In actuality, the epithet lodged against guilt was an unrepeatable vulgarity. I wondered aloud, “What sort of grudge did this motorist bear against his own guilt?”
Few would contest the fact that a guilty conscience can ruin an otherwise pleasant experience. Apparently the motorist viewed guilt as an irritant that interfered with his happiness. Perhaps he viewed guilt as a cultural vestige left over from the Victorian era or maybe an unfortunate remnant of childhood training. At any rate, his message was clear, if he could eradicate all the guilt in his life, his freedom would soar to new heights.
Like most moderns, the motorist chose not to define himself by God’s revelation in the Holy Scriptures. Instead, he fancied a form of liberty that issued from self-determination. For him, cutting the moorings of divine law would set free the vessel of self.
According to Romans 1, what the motorist chose to suppress was
the knowledge of God as his Creator. God as the fashioner of man, planted within him a region of moral sensibility, the conscience -- a thriving testament to God’s moral government.
The desire to eradicate the conscience is a tacit wish to escape God’s jurisdiction. Conscience is a divinely created restraint upon evil. Those who kick at the restraint demonstrate a spirit of moral anarchy.
When the promptings of conscience are viewed merely as an annoyance, efforts will be made to silence them entirely. The motorist failed to consider the origin of his soul’s constitution. Every blow struck at his conscience is a hammer blow against his true identity. Efforts to muffle the conscience are destructive because they reveal a desire to tear ourselves loose from God.
Only our omniscient Creator knows how far we have fallen from the original perfect image of God. The human conscience is a ubiquitous manifestation of God’s image stamped upon man. God’s moral mark rests upon Adam’s race. Humans cannot sin away that mark. They cannot by rebellion tear free from it nor alter their created purpose.
The conscience, though muffled by moral rebellion is an abiding internal witness to the righteousness of the Creator. It also bears witness to man’s responsibility to reflect his Creator’s righteousness. The God of the universe who created the conscience is Lawgiver, Judge and Redeemer. All creation is under His jurisdiction. This is His universe. His laws are not arbitrary mores, but precise safeguards of love to God and neighbor. God rules the universe, thus it is a moral universe. Moral laws of cause and effect, sowing and reaping, reflect His moral government. Humans are moral agents accountable to God.
Conscience therefore, is a most precious gift. When it is issuing warnings or is troubled, its speaking is of utmost significance. It is a daily reminder that God is moral governor over His creatures. Every time the conscience holds court, it is a tiny harbinger of the ultimate court appearance yet to come.
Conscience is a blessed reminder of unseen moral realities that are prosecuted by the Holy One. Conscience attests to the fixity of God’s laws. God’s commands shall last as long as He does. His laws are forever settled in heaven. They are inexorable. They abide forever, enforced by Him who is omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent.
No greater self-deception exists than to imagine that the requirements of God’s laws can be reduced, removed or unrequited.
Sinners may dream of a land where the Ten Commandments are not enforced, but no such territory exists. God’s holy character is immutable. There does not exist now, nor shall there ever exist a corner of the universe where God’s laws have been “dumbed-down” for impenitent sinners. Conscience tells men that this is so.
Conscience reminds men how unlike God they are. It ought to drive men to cry for mercy as they consider how impossible it will be for them to dwell in the presence God’s burning purity.
Conscience should move men to esteem divine forgiveness as the greatest of all blessings. For God to bring about a change in a man so that he becomes a partaker of divine holiness is a gift of infinite value. To be made like God morally is the joy of heaven. To realize the restored image of God so as to live out one’s created purpose is unfathomable wealth. All of these measureless blessings pertain to the conscience.
The motorist regarded the motions of his conscience to be intrusions that spoiled his favorite pastimes. But the Scriptures set forth the conscience as a most necessary barometer of one’s relationship to God’s moral rule.
Scripture not only educates and sensitizes the conscience, it also reveals how a man treats his conscience. Does the man listen to it, respect it, heed it? Or, does he sin against it, bribe it, defile it, and sear it?
An unfeeling, cauterized conscience that has been lied to and silenced shall one day begin an unending declamation. Jesus warned that a day is coming when the secrets of the heart will be revealed. On that day, the courtroom of conscience will admit no dishonest judges or jurors. Every false witness and corrupt counselor shall be ejected. On that day, the courtroom of conscience and the courtroom of God shall be in full agreement.
For the eternally condemned, God’s law, justice and sentence will be met with silence and an internal confirmation that justice must be done. When God’s sentence is pronounced, no person will attempt to utter an alibi. Every mouth will be closed in dumbfounded silence as God unfolds His justice in each case (Rom. 3:19).
Apart from the study of God’s Word, sinful human nature tends to settle into a state of spiritual complacency. Scripture drives home the gravity of the situation; calling upon men to awaken from their spiritual slumber before it is too late. There is a dire necessity that men recognize that the spurning of conscience is spiritual suicide.
Under the dispensation of Mosaic Law, the greatest imaginable terror was excommunication from the covenant people of God. In the present New Covenant era, there is a greater potential terror. Scripture refers to this dread condition as being given over to a depraved mind (Romans 1:28). Under this judgment, the restraints of God’s common grace are removed. The individual who consistently abused his conscience will be permitted to follow his sinful course with complete abandon.
Upon entering this state, the conscience becomes so benumbed as to be nearly useless. Those who did not see fit to acknowledge God in their thoughts will be given their wish. But they shall lose their moral mind in the process and enter an irrecoverable state. When the gift of reason and intellect are joined to a seared conscience, the mind becomes so radically altered that it becomes depraved, or “spiritually insane.” That is, it is only able to will its own rapid destruction. It has moved beyond the horizon of rational moral thought.
In summary, the worst thing that can happen to you is the withdrawal of God’s restraining Spirit. When God gives a man over to a depraved mind, He leaves the man alone, allowing him to pursue his immoral pleasures and thoughts with abandon.
The conscience that once guarded the mind from moral fallacies is no longer able to warn or restrain. The depraved mind has forever lost the ability to think with any rationality about God, righteousness and moral laws. To be given over by God to this condition is to reside at the mouth of hell. It is a state infinitely more catastrophic than any mortal can imagine.
On the last day, men shall discover to their horror, that the faculty silenced for the sake of sinful expression shall rise up to its full stature and begin to take eternal revenge against its ungrateful owner. The conscience beating one to bits in the name of God is hell indeed. A number of the Scriptural word pictures used to describe the agonies of hell include the torment generated by the conscience (see Mark 9:48).
When moderns depict the God of fundamentalist Christianity as petulant, vindictive, and retaliatory, they fail to understand just how much misery is already latent within sin. God does not have to think up judgments for sin. Transgression has built into it unending pain and misery. For sin contains in large measure its own judicial punishment.
Can men deny their created purpose and violate their consciences without expecting eternal consequences? It is an incalculable tragedy when men live as if they possess an unconquerable soul. (Natural men express this presumption concerning their souls by internally saying, “Thou wilt not require it,” – Ps. 10:11-13).
Man was created in the image of God and he was created for God. The fact that man has sold out to iniquity is what makes the agonies of perdition what they are.
Every soul that has ever existed shall forever experience God’s settled disposition towards them (grace toward the believer and wrath toward the unbeliever). The wicked will be sent out of God’s glorious presence, but shall be endlessly under His wrath and justice. These divine expressions of fury and vengeance shall terminate upon the conscience. Thus, an examination of the conscience provides a window through which to view the crushing suffering reserved for the ungodly.
By contrast, the righteous will eternally enjoy a conscience cleansed and sanctified and rightly adjusted to God. For them, the conscience will resonate with joy and bliss at the sight of God’s holiness.
Men grossly underestimate the potential the conscience possesses for lasting joy or pain. The great irony is this, that the conscience shall be the chief place of eternal bliss or eternal agony.
An appeal to God for a clean conscience through Jesus Christ is man’s only hope of right standing before Him (Acts 23:1; 24:16; Heb. 9:14; 10:22; 1 Pet. 3:21).
Boston, Thomas. Human Nature in its Fourfold State. Carlisle: The
Banner of Truth Trust, 1964.
Hoekema, Anthony A. Created in God’s Image. Grand Rapids: William B.
Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1986.
Packer, J. I. I Want to be a Christian. Wheaton: Tyndale House
Ryle, J. C. Holiness. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1979.
Watson, Thomas. A Body of Divinity. Carlisle: The Banner of Truth
The first person in human history to commit premeditated murder was the first person ever born. It’s ironic that when Eve held the little baby Cain in her arms, she hoped that he would be the promised Messiah; instead he was the first man to commit homicide. He was also the first man to murder a prophet of God (Abel).
When we think of human depravity in its most monstrous expression; it is always the male gender that comes to mind. (We can immediately think of men from the last century who orchestrated holocausts; men such as Hitler, Pol Pot, and Stalin.)
If we compare man’s corrupt nature to a beast; we think of a swine. Its selfishness, greediness, laziness, rudeness, and filthiness typify behaviors we utterly despise in humans.
Other four-legged creatures can be cited as depicting man’s wantonness. The wolverine defiles whatever food it cannot finish eating so that no other creature will find it fit to consume. We think of the behavior of men in the 1800’s who considered it sport to “hunt” buffalo from the passenger cars of locomotives.
Hundreds of thousands of bison were killed and left to rot on the prairie. Such wanton behavior is purely man’s depravity rejecting the divine mandate to be a faithful steward of creation.
The Old Testament has a long list of men who were rapacious. Who can forget Haman -- who due to his grudge against one man sought to execute a genocidal holocaust against the entire Jewish nation.
But sprinkled in the O.T. list of villains are a few women who also are examples of human depravity at its worst. Jezebel certainly tops the list.
By giving us the account of Jezebel; it appears that God is overturning the earth mother myth. The earth mother myth suggests that human depravity has primarily landed upon the male of our species, and to a much lesser degree upon the female.
Some childhood poems contain the myth -- boys are composed of snakes and snails and puppy dog tails; while girls are made up of sugar and spice and everything nice.
Through the lens of the earth mother myth, men are viewed as wanton, impure, knuckle-dragging beasts whose passions make them destroyers of life; whereas the earth mother myth casts women as pure, virgin-like, givers of life, and nurturers of life (and yes, ‘tamers of men’).
Under what conditions does the earth mother myth proliferate? The myth derives its strength from a breakdown of father-son relations. When the sons’ hearts are alienated from their fathers; the female is elevated to a position of adoration; she is lifted to the status of source person (source person is defined as a being to whom we look for our well-being, purpose, affirmation, and fulfillment).
This is the opposite of Gods’ blueprint for the family. God’s plan involves the father imaging the love and authority of God to the children. When the children are able to relate to their dad as their loving, authoritative spiritual teacher; the promise of Psalm 78 is that the children will put their confidence in God (78:7).
Psalm 78 begins with a description of the father’s responsibility to invest spiritually in his children (the Psalm passage alludes to the portion of God’s law that requires the father to teach the Scriptures to his family in every conceivable setting – Deut 6).
When the hearts of fathers and sons are alienated; idolatry (with its inherent earth mother myth) proliferates. This was certainly the case with apostate Israel. The idolatrous Jews adopted the fertility cults of Canaan. Worship of the female abounded; images in the likeness of the female body dotted the landscape (Jer 44:15-19; Judges 10:6).
Although the seventy year Babylonian exile cured Israel of national idolatry; in the years that followed, the Jewish fathers were slow to embrace God’s blueprint of spiritual leadership in the home.
In the last book of the O.T. God announces through Malachi that spiritual renewal and revival depend upon a certain kind of change; the hearts of the fathers must be restored to the hearts of the sons and daughters (Mal 4:5, 6).
If the hearts of the sons remain alienated from the fathers; then the sons will use their masculine strength for the expression of sinful passions; physical and spiritual destruction will result (God says without this restoration taking place between the hearts of fathers and sons, He will smite the land with a curse – Mal 4:6).
God’s plan is for children to learn of God in the relational space of child to father. When godly fathers willingly assume their roles as spiritual heads; it forms a pipeline or conduit if you will of passing on faith in God to the next generation. The love, care, tenderness, truth, and authority of the unseen God of the universe is made tangible in the relationship a godly father has with his children.
But the labor necessary for the advance of spiritual order is resisted by our flesh. In order for spiritual decay to accelerate; all one has to do is nothing. Things unravel spiritually of their own accord. Neglect sends men to hell (Heb 2:3).
The flesh is inordinately spiritually lazy; family heads tend to relinquish their headship. They abdicate the incredible privilege and responsibility that God has given them to image the Heavenly Father to their children.
By contrast, when a man who teaches the Word lives a life of Christian character; he is a powerful instrument in the hands of God. Gordon Dalbey in his book, Healing the Masculine Soul, likens the father’s role to that of a swordsman.
Dalbey states that every believing man has been issued a “sword” by God. Men especially are designed by God to wield the sword of truth. A godly man wields that sword in all his relationships. He is to be a man of principle who loves, speaks, and chooses based upon God’s timeless truths.
Dalbey states that it takes not only a godly life for a man to wield his God-given sword but also a great deal of courage. If a man is controlled by the fear of man (or the fear of woman); he will leave the sword in its scabbard to corrode from lack of use. But if he loves and fears God he will use the sword all the time – because he knows that those in his sphere are instructed, protected, and healed by the use of his sword.
Swordsmanship is especially a male calling. The use of the sword is to be learned from one’s father; and very commonly from a spiritual father if one’s own dad is not available or qualified (by conversion).
Adam was to subdue the earth -- make it fruitful; but his cultural calling also included using his sword of truth in order to raise up, and protect God-fearing communities.
A born again man is wired by God for his calling as a swordsman. When godly men gather, they tend to relate to one another and fellowship together around the topics of theology and biblical principles. There is a clear reason for this; God has called them to be leaders in their marriages, families, and in the church. They must know intimately both God and His principles – they are to be swordsmen who handle accurately the Word of truth.
Swordsmanship is innate to their calling; for it is their business to use constant discernment. They train themselves to discern good and evil in its most subtle forms (Heb 5:14). They are to use the sword surgically – Paul told Timothy to be ready with the Word in season and out of season. In other words; apply the Word to situations even when it is not popular or convenient (MacArthur Study Bible, p. 1880).
Men of God will frequently have to make tough decisions that result in toes being stepped upon. Church discipline is one of those decisions. The necessity for spiritual objectivity means that they will often have to choose fidelity to spiritual principle over a person’s feelings. (Certainly Paul the Apostle had to do this when he publicly confronted Peter’s hypocrisy in Gal 2:11-14).
Just as it is somewhat unnatural for a man to raise and nurture babies all day long; so also it is somewhat unnatural for a woman to judge in the gates all day long. Certainly there are exceptions; but it may be said that generally a man’s calling differs from a woman’s calling at this very point of swordsmanship.
A woman may die to save her child; but it is a man who will die for principles. In our culture it is a rare for a man to be totally committed to the task of faithfully carrying out his God-given role as swordsman. There is a dire need for godly fathers; and for godly mentors who are willing to be spiritual fathers who wield the sword.
Because of a crisis in spiritual leadership, males tend to be estranged from the influence of godly fathers; and are therefore cut off from the relational revelation of God. Add to this problem the fact that the earth mother myth is in full force. Men tend to see the female as source instead of God. (Sadly the fertility cults of Canaan that worshipped sex now have a full-blown form of expression in our country.)
Today’s fashions are designed for the worship the female body. Modesty, which is a statement of fearing God and loving His plan, is all but passé. Males are led about hypnotically by the flaunted sensuality of women; males seem to be nearly defenseless against visual temptation which comes at them from every quarter – including computer cyberspace.
This is precisely why the historic character Jezebel has such current relevance. The Scriptures indicate that Jezebel had 950 men who ate at her table (450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of the Asherah --1 Ki 18:19). Think of it; she had nearly a thousand men who traded away their manhood in order to adore her.
We must let the travesty of this situation sink in. These Jewish men, appointed by God to be His witnesses and teachers of His law, were willingly controlled by an idolatrous pagan woman from Sidon. What would have to happen in order for the better part of one thousand men to become her loyal followers?
The answer given in Romans 1:25b is that the worship of God has been replaced with the worship of the creature. Creature worship (with one of its expressions in the earth mother myth) is embedded in our very sin natures. No one had to think it up. Whenever the true worship of God is lost; idolatry rushes in to fill the vacuum.
The mother; the female; the person who gave us life and nurture from very substance of her own body is the most natural substitute for God. Earth mother cults are found on every continent. When Satan sought to corrupt Christianity; he turned to the earth mother myth and planted it in Rome.
The woman’s form, beauty, sensuality, nurture, and apparent selflessness all call out to the male as ineluctable reasons for her to be his source person. Jezebel’s “kingdom” if you will was built upon the fawning, obsequious adoration of males who were willingly emasculated for her sake.
It’s interesting to note that the queen mothers of Israel spent so much time commissioning the sculpting of images of the female body to be set up in the land (1 Ki 15:13). There is a reason for this. The more the female body is exposed as an object of desire and adoration; the more the sensual side of the earth mother myth is perpetuated. (In light of this; isn’t it obvious that God has His specific reasons for modesty!)
Without needy, passive, adoring males, Jezebel’s power would have been very limited. She collected dependent males who would perpetuate the adoration of herself. This is the driving force behind all matriarchies because matriarchies feed upon needy males the way hurricanes feed off of warm sea water (the effect cannot exist without the cause).
Jezebel derived her power from the males who saw her as goddess; as earth mother; as source person. This gives us some insights into how human depravity manifests itself in the female of our species.
As one popular singer quipped; men will kill you with a gun; women with murder you with their sensuality. Apparently he wasn’t far off the mark; for it says in Proverbs of the cunning harlot; “Do not stray into her paths. For many are the victims she has cast down, and numerous are all her slain. Her house is the way to Sheol, descending to the chambers of death” (Prov 7:25b-27).
So let’s review. The monstrous things men do in their depravity are usually much more graphic, direct, and openly destructive than what women do. We can look down through history and recount holocausts and serial crimes perpetrated by men.
By contrast, the depravity in women is expressed more often by control over others, than by a direct exertion of destructive force. Samson became a slave in chains with his eyes put out through the cleverness of Delilah – but she didn’t directly chain him or put his eyes out. What a parable his loss of strength is; he was shorn by the very woman whose sensuality he craved. After shaving his head, she delivered him over to his captors.
Let’s consider additional differences between the sin of men and women. The pride and arrogance that drives male narcissism has caused men to aspire to conquer continents even if it produced rivers of innocent blood.
We could say that the expression of male depravity is a radical perversion of man’s sacred trust as steward of God’s creation. Depraved man at his most destructive wants all he can get; he uses; abuses; then wantonly casts aside.
In summary, the man’s depravity is a perversion of his stewardship – when his stewardship should be expressed in protection, provision, and purity; instead he preys upon others.
Narcissistic pride in a female is expressed in a different manner. The woman’s depravity is more commonly expressed as a desire to possess, to control, to manipulate, to influence, to seduce, to emasculate, and to win adoration and worship.
Jezebel probably did not personally stab anyone to death; but because of Jezebel’s sin, tens of thousands of Israelites died when Baal worship was purged from the land.
The woman’s depravity is a perversion of her nurture gift. Her God-given gift of nurture enables her to sacrificially love and care for her children.
What made Jezebel an immoral monster was her unconscionable driven-ness to corrupt the king and his subjects with wholesale idolatry. The frightening part is she used “nurture” to do so. Jezebel’s magnetismcannot be discounted; her followers were numbered in the thousands.
If we compared her to a creature; it would be a spider that wraps its victim in silk; then injects venom that liquefies the internal organs so that they may be consumed.
Regarding the danger of responding to perverted nurture -- the book of Proverbs warns of the danger of being a naïve man. It is the naïve man (the fool) who sees no aggression or danger when a woman puts forth her sensuality. He is likened to a bird about to enter a snare, or an ox about to be slaughtered (Prov 7:2, 23).
This is the part that goes missed today. Countless college educated men are grossly naïve according to the Word of God. A huge percentage of young men are
‘sensual opportunists’ who see no danger in being responders to a woman’s offer of sensual pleasure.
The woman dressed immodestly who telegraphs her invitation to a man appears to offer affection and sensual delight (nurture) all for free; or without consequence. But the Proverbs, when speaking of the man’s spiritual state, says that his response to her overtures will cost him his life (7:23).
By contrast the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. When a culture sells itself to sensuality; it loses the willpower to remain free. If Jezebel’s influence in Israel would have gone on unabated, the nation would have been quickly enslaved and destroyed (instead God raised up Jehu to purge Baal worship from the land and thus extend Israel’s existence).
Because God has made men the leaders and protectors in society, the vast majority of Scriptural exhortations that are gender specific are addressed to men.
Isaiah 3:16-26 is one of them. It is directed at the pride of the ‘daughters of Zion.’ It’s interesting to observe that in the passage every conceivable accoutrement in that culture that could be used to attract attention and woo with sensuality is mentioned.
God says through Isaiah that the Lord will take away the beauty of these accessories and leave these women to be bound by rope; wearing only sack cloth; dirty, seated on the ground, with plucked out scalps.
The understanding of this passage is that God hates it when women take pride in their power to seduce (3:16). He will judge them.
A second judgment passage directed at women is Amos 4:1-3. The satire is equally biting in this text. God likens the dominant women in this passage to cows. These upper class wives were lovers of luxury. They thumbed their noses at the poor. They dominated their husbands; they demanded to be served by them.
God swears by His holiness that these women will face His judgment. He states that they will be taken away with meat hooks and the last of them with fish hooks (4:2).
The value of studying these sections today is not only to learn from Israel’s history; but also to understand that female depravity is expressed differently than male depravity and that God hates it as much as He hates depravity in men.
One would think that this should be obvious; the problem is that it is not obvious in a culture in which sex and the female body are worshipped, and the biblical roles for men and women are under attack.
The evil one’s plan to rip apart the family includes this attack upon the God-given roles of men and women. In the entertainment industry the role of a man’s headship is laughed to scorn. The husband’s ineffectiveness as a leader is the most popular punch line in sitcoms.
To say anything about the sinful behavior of a woman is considered bullying. Is it any wonder that so many women who profess to be Christians seem blinded to their own female depravity and unable to mourn it and mortify it?
Feminist propaganda has so thoroughly conditioned the thinking of our culture that the subject of male-female differences is commonly greeted with the charge of sexual bias. (The feminist presupposition is that the teaching regarding gender differences is a patriarchal power play. For the feminist, equality is rooted in sameness. According to feminism, roles ought to be a matter of choice and capacity, not the result of God’s created order.)
Wayne Grudem gives the following sobering assessment concerning the attempt to erase the divinely created role distinction between men and women.
Says Grudem, egalitarianism is an “engine” pulling a train of destruction. Some of its effects are as follows: gender identity crisis, a resultant self-hatred, fear of marriage, anger and violence, homosexuality, breakdown of the family, the weakening and feminization of the church, and methods of Bible interpretation that discount the ethical mandates of Scripture that are rejected by culture (Wayne Grudem, Winterim lectures on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood at The Master’s Seminary). (Egalitarianism is a term used to describe a view of male-female equality that depends upon the rejection of created roles for man and woman).
The Danvers Statement on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood gives a parallel warning: “As increasing promotion is given to the feminist agenda, there are accompanying distortions or neglect of the glad harmony portrayed in Scripture between the loving humble leadership of redeemed husbands and the intelligent, willing support of that leadership by redeemed wives.”
The family is under attack. The evil one is using philosophic naturalism (the philosophy of evolution and its companion, humanism) to tear apart God’s blueprint for the family.
The result is like a wrecking ball swinging through our culture leaving broken families, devastated lives, and aborted babies in its wake. Sensuality is not a victim-less crime. The Canaanites sacrificed infants to Molech; Americans sacrifice fetuses to the god of sensuality and immorality.
Now let’s move to an explanation of the title of this paper. The heading, “Jezebelian Egos” refers to the mindset of women who use sensuality and/or nurture to control and manipulate.
In a culture steeped in the earth mother myth (with a growing allegiance to earth mother “spirituality”), it is easy to overlook just how flagrant the effects of female depravity can be. (Consider that in the media, men are all too frequently cast a victimizers and women as victims. The women’s rights movement has been a convenient cudgel to keep men silent in the arena of male and female roles; and to discourage men from leadership in home and marriage.)
We’ve already established that male and female narcissism involves the perversion of a virtue or divine gift. The man is given strength to subdue the earth and rule over it as a faithful steward. When his depravity is given full expression he moves from protector to predator, from caretaker to wanton user.
Female narcissism is much more subtle. We’ve already stated that female narcissism tends to possess and manipulate. Let’s look at how the woman reasons when she attempts to possess and control.
God has given the woman the incredible capacity to gestate life, to give birth, and to nurture so as to help form personhood in another human being. The perversion of this virtue involves the misuse of nurture.
Thus female narcissism has an inflated view of what a woman can do through nurturing others. In her narcissism, she reasons that her love is so powerful she can tame the savage in a man. She can impart self-esteem to others. She can make a project out of a male and then mold him as she sees fit. She can obligate people because she lavishes so much praise and attention upon them. She can influence and control.
All the while, the “love” she is dispensing in her narcissism is intended also to build a coterie of loyal adoring followers. Those who are brought into her sphere; she possesses. She has “collected them;” they are devoted to her. They in turn must sing her praises.
Her goddess dream has its imperious side. If one should prove disloyal; she will destroy their reputation; or heap guilt upon them. The female narcissist can never tolerate disloyalty. She has built a loyal following. She feeds upon their adoration.
What is the cost of this female narcissism in a family? The cost is great. For female narcissism cannot coexist with male headship. This is why “Jezebelian Egos” is not too strong a term. For female narcissism is destructive to God’s plan for the role of husband and wife. (Yes, men commonly abdicate their roles; 1 Peter 3:1-6 was written in part to answer that dilemma.)
Female narcissism has as its unbending agenda the goal of building a constituency of loyal worshippers. It can brook no competitors. Therefore it is impossible for it to avoid eroding the husband’s authority in the home.
After all, a goddess is wise and at least partly omniscient. Therefore female narcissism is expressed in the phrase, “Mother knows best.” The problem with mother knows best is that frequently it means that mother knows best and father doesn’t.
What is the cost of a decade and one half of growing up under mother knows best? For a son, the answer is that he has learned by example how to relate to a woman. He will carry a great deal of confusion; how can a guy confront a goddess? How in the world does confrontation coexist with adoration? He reasons, “How can I ever be right and have the final say if she is always to be right?” “How can I disagree with her if disagreement is disloyalty?”
The effect of mother knows best on daughters is equally pernicious. The daughter will tend to carry a secret hatred of her father’s passivity and her mother’s dominance. The temptation to manipulate as her mother has done will be overwhelming. She will depend upon nurture, guilt, persuasion, manipulation to protect herself and to get her needs met. Like her mother, she will be basically blind to issues of male honor – unable to apprehend God’s chain of honor that flows through the father and husband.
The aim of this author is to identify the problem in order to solve the problem. God’s answer is to call the Church back to the healing power of submission to His Word.
Although Grudem has given a very candid, and serious exposé of the problem in roles, he offers a summary filled with optimism and encouragement: Christ is progressively purifying His Church. The Reformation recovered the grammatico-historical method of interpretation (i.e., literal as opposed to allegorical interpretation) and reaffirmed the doctrine of biblical inerrancy. Thus through a proper handling of Scripture, God is perfecting the Church. This process includes a correction of both male oppression and feminism (Grudem, Winterim Lectures).
John Piper also sets forth a return to the biblical roles for manhood and womanhood as the much needed corrective: “[T]he Bible reveals the nature of masculinity and femininity by describing diverse responsibilities for man and woman while “rooting these differing responsibilities in creation, not convention” (Piper, What’s the Difference?, p. 17).
The next generation is watching to see what we as parents and grandparents really believe and practice concerning the roles of men and women. There is a full scale war raging between modern culture and the truth of God’s Word. The battle is pitched at key points of conflict – one of the most pivotal areas in the fight is the subject of manhood and womanhood. Our youth are receiving a garbled message about their roles. The stakes are immeasurably high.
We must affirm the wisdom and beauty and necessity of God’s plan. God takes pleasure in the created differences of male and female. Our differences are good. We need to affirm them and rejoice in them to the glory of God. God’s plan for men and women is best for us. It truly honors men and women. It guards against abuse. It doesn’t suppress women’s ministry gifts, but encourages the use of them (Wayne Grudem).
There are clear advantages of the complementarian view (biblical view of roles):
1.) A new delight in our masculinity and femininity given to us by God.
2.) A new honoring of women as valued partners with valued ministries.
3.) Jesus Christ purifying His Church by means of His plan for biblical manhood and womanhood.
(Note: The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood recently received a correspondence from a woman at Cambridge University. “I want to be submissive to my husband, but don’t know how, can you help me? I am to marry in one month.”)
The Futile Search for Ethics in a Landscape without Truth.
The public schools are desperately trying to teach moral character to their students. Their purpose is education, but they are realizing that without sufficient character qualities in their students they are not able to educate them. Educators are now promoting character education and encouraging student-led character clubs.
One student who is president of her high school character club was asked recently in a television interview about one thing she can take away from her experience with the character club as she looks to college. She said that the most important thing she learned was tolerance and understanding. Does she mean that before her involvement with the club she was a bully who went around punching everyone she didn’t like or agree with? No, she meant something very different. We will look at the new understanding of tolerance in a moment. But first, a brief introduction to our subject is in order.
Ethics are ultimately from God.
When we talk about discerning right from wrong, we are dealing with the subject of ethics. Ethics is the study of the good; the study of right and wrong actions and attitudes. In simple terms, ethics is the study of how to relate to God, others, and ourselves. Ethics govern the creature’s relationship toward God, they govern the creature’s relationship to fellow creatures, and they govern the creature’s relationship to the creation itself.
The foundational ethic to all others is the command to glorify God. Vine’s Expository Dictionary describes the command to glorify God in the following manner: In the New Testament “to glorify” is to extol, praise, and honor God by acknowledging Him as to His being, attributes and acts. God’s glory is the revelation and self-manifestation of all that is His. Believers glorify God by bearing much fruit (Jn 15:8). To live for God’s glory is only possible when we seek to imitate Him in holiness, honor and righteousness (Eph 5:1).
“Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor 10:31, NKJV).
How can we glorify God?
“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Heb 11:6, NIV).
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you@ (Matt 6:33, NKJV).
So the Christian ethic, the only real ethic, is to glorify God by having faith in Him and giving His kingdom priority in our lives.
God has given us His revelation, His Word, to guide us in ethics, in knowing what we should and shouldn’t do.
The book of Proverbs was given to us to teach us right conduct.
“To know wisdom and instruction, to perceive the words of understanding, to receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, judgment, equity [or, doing what is right, just, and fair, NIV]; to give prudence to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion—a wise man will hear and increase in learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel . . . . The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Prov 1:2-5, 7, NKJV).
Because our Creator is Holy, we live in a Moral Universe.
The path of life and the path of destruction are set before us.
Because God is Creator and sovereign Ruler of all creation, moral law is built into the very fabric of the universe. As the only creature made in the image of God, every action man takes is either an affirmation or denial of God’s moral government. These two moral directions are described in Scripture as two paths—one of life, and the other of destruction (Jer 6:16-19; Matt 7:13).
The book of Proverbs, as the rest of the Bible, teaches us to think in terms of antithesis—that there are two opposing ways of looking at life, a right way and a wrong way. In the book of Proverbs we find right and wrong contrasted, and often these occur even in a single verse. Here is one for example:
“In all labor there is profit, but idle chatter leads only to poverty” (Prov 14:23, NKJV).
We see thesis and anti-thesis; this way or that way. We need discernment to be able to distinguish between right and wrong, between truth and error, and then we need to conform ourselves to the truth or the right way. In fact, we are commanded in Scripture to do exactly that:
“Test [or, examine, NASB] all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thess 5:21-22, NKJV).
Jay Adams has this to say about the principle of antithesis.
In the Bible, where antithesis is so important, discernment—the ability to distinguish God’s thoughts and God’s ways from all others—is essential. Indeed, God says that “the wise in heart will be called discerning” (Proverbs 16:21).
From the Garden of Eden with its two trees (one allowed, one forbidden) to the eternal destiny of the human being in heaven or in hell, the Bible sets forth two, and only two, ways: God’s way, and all others. Accordingly, people are said to be saved or lost. They belong to God’s people or the world. There was Gerizim, the mount of blessing, and Ebal, the mount of cursing. There is the narrow way and the wide way, leading either to eternal life or to destruction. There are those who are against us and those who are with us, those within and those without. There is life and death, truth and falsehood, good and bad, light and darkness, the kingdom of God and the kingdom of Satan, love and hatred, spiritual wisdom and the wisdom of the world. Christ is said to be the way, the truth, and the life, and no one may come to the Father but by Him. His is the only name under the sky by which one may be saved.
Adams suggests that “people who study the Bible in depth develop antithetical mindsets: they think in terms of contrasts or opposites.” We often refer to this as thinking in terms of black and white, truth and error. How different this antithetical thinking is from the thinking of our culture which claims truth is a fuzzy gray with no center. Also, how different it is from the attitude of many Evangelical Christians who want to only present biblical truth in positive terms but never point out error and especially never point out proponents of error.
This idea of antithesis is as old as human history as Jay Adams has indicated. It is also the subject of a fascinating early church document from around the end of the first century A.D. calledThe Didache, or Teaching of the Apostles. The word didache comes from the Greek word for teaching. The Didache is the first manual on church order that we know of. It was written to teach “the doctrine of the two ways.” The opening sentence begins, “There are two ways, one of life and of death, and there is a great difference between the two ways.” It then proceeds to expound on those two ways.
Jesus clearly taught this idea of two ways in His famous Sermon on the Mount:
“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult [or, confined, constraining] is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matt 7:13-14, NKJV).
All of us are either on the narrow way that leads to life, or we are on the broad way that leads to death. There is no other alternative. There is no gray area. There is no neutral ground to stand upon.
We cannot know right from wrong without understanding God’s truth.
When ethics are divorced from the character of God, they can become vices.
In our present godless and humanistic culture, there is a new “virtue” which undermines and opposes everything Christians believe. The new “virtue” is tolerance. (The highest virtue wasjustice, now it is tolerance. More on justice in a moment.) Consider the following characteristics of this “new morality.”
- The word tolerance now has a dual definition.
- Webster’s dictionary gives the traditional definition of tolerance (now known as “negative tolerance”). That definition acknowledges that tolerance recognizes and respects the beliefs and practices of others without necessarily agreeing or sympathizing with those beliefs. Everyone has a right to his own opinion.
- The new tolerance is known as “positive tolerance.” The new tolerance can be explained as follows: Every single individual’s values, beliefs, lifestyles, and claims to truth are equally valid. So if a person claims that any individual’s values, beliefs, etc. are better or more correct than another’s; that is hierarchy and constitutes bigotry. Thus a bigot is one who believes in moral hierarchy (that there is a lifestyle, belief, etc. that is greater than another’s).
- Under the U.S. constitution each person has an equal right to hold his or her belief. But under positive tolerance all beliefs are equal in the sense that they are morally equivalent. (EXAMPLE: If I say the claims of Christ are superior to the claims of Mohammed, or anyone else, it makes me a bigot who is going against virtue.)
- Traditional tolerance was simply the right to hold to one’s belief and practice it and still be respected and treated fairly. However, “positive tolerance” demands praise and approval for all beliefs and lifestyles (“Now we not only want your neutral permission, we demand your positive praise and approval”). To be considered tolerant, you must from your own heart, regard the beliefs and lifestyles of others to be equally valid to your own or you’re not tolerant. You must treat the ideas of others the same as your own.
- The most quoted verse has changed from John 3:16 to “Judge not lest ye be judged” (Matt 7:1). Christians frequently are accused of being judgmental the moment they make a moral judgment. (Moral standards are now equated with being judgmental which is equated with being intolerant.)
- The confusion inherent in “positive tolerance” is captured in a quote by National Public School administrator, Frederick Hill, “It is the mission of public schools not to tolerate intolerance.” This is a logical contradiction. To be intolerant of intolerance is itself an act of intolerance which they say is wrong. The position of positive tolerance violates the traditional view of tolerance. Now postmoderns no longer recognize and respect someone who has a differing belief when it comes to the issue of tolerance. Instead, in their quest to be “tolerant” they are unjust because they are being intolerant of someone just because they have a different belief when in the past that would have been tolerated. So justice and “positive tolerance” are incompatible. They are, in fact, antithetical. This is because to make justice possible, one must make a moral judgment on right and wrong. But “positive tolerance” does not allow one to make moral judgments. It actually forbids moral judgments. So the irony here is that the more open-minded you become (not making moral judgments), the more close-hearted you become (don’t care about justice for people). The end result of positive tolerance is moral and intellectual intimidation or bullying to get you to no longer hold to moral standards or pursue objective truth. Romans 1:18-32 gives us insight into the cause behind this trend and where it will lead our society (see Addendum).
Christians are considered the most intolerant people on the face of the earth. Consider the following changes that have taken place in our culture in less than fifty years.
- By the mid-nineties 2800 major corporations were taking their employees through training in tolerance. Now the person who dares make a moral judgment is commonly greeted with a response such as, “You’re a bigot. You’re judgmental. What gives you the right to say that? Who do you think you are?”
- The truthfulness of what one says is no longer the issue. One’s right to speak the truth is jeopardized by “positive tolerance.” The Bible is not quoted much in public anymore because its content is regarded as bigoted and anti-multiculturalism.
- Multiculturalism has also changed. It is no longer confined to racial issues. It now is the application of tolerance to culture in such a way that all cultures are equal in belief, values, lifestyle, and truth claims. If you deny this, you are regarded a bigot. (Francis Schaeffer warned more than four decades ago that we are moving from a post Judeo-Christian culture to an anti-Judeo-Christian culture.) We are now at a point where we have gone from the Christian view being dominant in American public life to it not being tolerated in public. The most dangerous person in America now is the Bible-believing Christian who says there is such a thing as right and wrong for everybody.
The tolerance intended by our forefathers was based upon God’s absolute truth.
When considering the dual definition of tolerance, there is no intelligent way to discern between them without appealing to absolute truth. By “absolute” is meant that the truth of God’s infallible Word is universal and unchanging. It applies to all men everywhere and it always will do so. No man has ever taken a “moral holiday” from God. God’s moral government will be in force in both heaven and hell. The righteous man utters, “Oh, how I love Thy law!” God’s moral law is revealed in His Word, and it is also an unchanging standard that is written on the conscience of man (Rom 2:15). Due to the fact that sinners suppress the truth of God and sear their consciences by presumptuous acts of sin, there is a constant need to sensitize and educate the conscience of man by means of the Word of God.
There is a hideous and rapacious beast on the loose called “lawless love.”
Scripture demands that human dignity, life’s sanctity, and love’s boundaries are founded upon God’s laws. Lawless love is the patent denial that justice is inseparable from Christian love (Micah 6:8). Consider the following contrast between biblical love and the lawless “love” espoused by positive tolerance.
- Under “positive tolerance” justice is regarded as the enemy of tolerance because justice demands a moral base apart from oneself to discern right from wrong. (By contrast the new tolerance says that there is no universal moral basis for right and wrong. The Bible teaches that the moral basis for right and wrong is both fixed and outside the individual; it resides in God and His immutable Word.)
- The new tolerance and justice cannot coexist because justice requires moral judgment. (The tragedy is that younger folks are not insisting upon justice!)
- The new tolerance says, “I must be indifferent when it comes to values and lifestyles. I must not impose my values on another. I must not make moral judgments.” The values of the new tolerance can be summarized as follows:
- The moment you are not indifferent regarding values, truth claims, and lifestyle, you have crossed the line into bigotry.
- You are biased, prejudiced, and discriminatory if you care enough to make a moral evaluation.
- By contrast, Christian love says, “I must act and speak truth in love. So if I see someone in a destructive belief or lifestyle I will stop to speak truth in love. Therefore, positive tolerance is opposed to Christian love! (because Christian love makes a moral judgment). Jesus exposed the lifestyle of the woman at the well (John 4) as a sinful lifestyle—what He did in confronting her was love!
- Truth and morality cannot exist separately. History is filled with a record of the tragic consequences of attempting ethics apart from God’s truth. Oppressive regimes have always sought to set aside the truth of God’s moral government in order that they might have uncontested power. Pol Pot of Cambodia taught evolution in order to do away with the concept of God. The dictator’s motive, by his own admission, was to make the state the supreme authority—the holocaust known as the “killing fields” was the result. (Other examples of ethics attempted apart from God’s truth include the following: the French Revolution, fascism, and morality by popular opinion resulting in infanticide and euthanasia. Moral chaos, anarchy, and sexual perversion thrive in a climate of “ethics” without truth.)
- In our present culture, moral relativism resembles a shoreless sea without the safe anchorage of God-ordained ethics. The result is countless shipwrecked lives.
Having rejected God’s truth as a moral compass, the pseudo-ethic of positive tolerance offers itself as a means of moral navigation. The tragedy is that untold numbers of lives are led into the path of destruction by this faulty compass. Immorality reigns under this erroneous definition of tolerance. Guilt, misery, and enslavement to sin comprise the tragic consequences.
Love that is not established upon the foundation of truth is incapable of
coming up with its own ethics.
When all values, truth claims, and beliefs are equal, you lose the ability to choose right from wrong. This is because if all views are equal, then it doesn’t matter which one you choose. They have no substance and they are inconsequential. One’s beliefs have nothing to do with the real world of cause and effect. We see this clearly in our Christian youth.
1. Today there is no connection between belief and behavior. There is a gaping chasm between theology (Christian beliefs) and behavior.
a. EXAMPLE: Josh McDowell brought the sharpest young people to the front of a church he was visiting. He asked, “Would you lie to get out from under a situation? 204 of the 209 said that they would lie.
b. But here is the shocking part, 99% of the kids said lying was wrong, but said, “I’d do it anyway.”
2. It is devastating to have young people say that something is wrong because mom says it is wrong. It is inadequate moral preparation for adult life. (Among those who give young people moral instruction, the common approach is to cite the precept, “The Christian religion requires that you do not lie, after all, the Bible says, ‘Thou shalt not lie.’” As McDowell cautions, “[At best,] we are [preparing] a whole generation to live by legalism.” We say “at best” because most likely most of these youth will not be in church once out of the home.
Without God’s truth, there is a radical loss in moral discernment.
When young people only discern right from wrong by precept or commandment, they are inadequately grounded. Without a foundation in God’s truth, pragmatism and sentimentality can easily cloud the discernment needed to make right ethical choices. Moral relativism has so fully permeated our culture, we can no longer successfully train our youth in ethics by using dated and unscriptural methods.
- We cannot preach the way we preached before the age of positive tolerance.
- The old way of instructing in morals was, “It is wrong because God says, “Thou shalt not . . . .” But, culture has changed so radically, we can no longer do our moral instruction the old way. The old way is lacking in moral authority. The precept is not simply “one among many equally valid claims.” It is THE truth, the one and only truth!
- We must show our young people that right choices depend upon knowing absolutely right from wrong, and right from wrong depends upon knowing the truth.
In order to teach right from wrong, one must teach the truth.
Culture has changed; relativism has ushered in a deadly perspective that believes we no longer have morality, only differing opinions.
When we teach morality, we tend to start with a precept. But, if you stop with a precept, you are left with moralism (which can easily become legalism). We must communicate the fact that behind every precept is a moral principle (a broad standard or norm).
God’s moral principles are grounded upon His absolute truth.
- What is absolute truth?
- It is true for all people, in all places, at all times. It is constant and unchanging.
- It has an objective basis outside of self. God and His Word are an unchanging (immutable) reference point external to us.
- Truth is to be distinguished from personal standards. (EXAMPLE: Different sets of parents have different policies for their children when setting the time of curfew.)
- There are two models of truth.
- God establishes absolute truth (absolutism).
- Man determines truth (relativism).
- When asked to give the definition of truth, only 4 out of 7000 Christians could do it. Truth is that which corresponds with reality. Another definition found in Webster’s Dictionary is: “Truth is that which has fidelity to an original.”
- EXAMPLE: If I say that I have a one-liter container, and someone says, “No you don’t!” Truth can settle the matter. “Fidelity to an original” comes into play when I take my container and my friend to the International Bureau of Weights and Measures to measure my liter against the original liter. There is fidelity if my container is equal to the original.
- The “original” is the unchanging reference point.
- Ethics can’t operate without truth (situation ethics demonstrate that ethics divorced from truth cannot provide an immutable standard).
Right from wrong is nothing less than the revelation of God’s righteous character.
Something is right or wrong because it is true in God.
1. Why does the Bible say, “You shall not murder?” The reason is because God is life. He is the source and giver of life. The command flows from and is the expression of God’s very Person and nature! It is the life of God that gives sanctity to life. We are to pursue sexual purity because God is pure and holy.
2. Because our culture has adopted the twisted values of relativism and postmodernism, we must now teach biblical morality the Scriptural way; by connecting the command or precept to the Person of God.
3. When it comes to teaching right from wrong, the Scriptures never disassociate the precept from the divine Person. Josh McDowell offers the following paradigm for understanding how we should present moral truth:
a. Level One – is PRECEPT (a specific moral command)
b. Level Two – is PRINCIPLE (or broad moral principle)
c. Level Three – is PERSON (behind every principle is the Person and character and nature of God Himself.)
4. Without level three, you are left with moralism (or legalism).
The character of God is the basis for discerning right from wrong.
Right and wrong do not change, because God’s character does not change.
- Our moral foundation has a truth foundation. “Fidelity to an original” is fidelity to the very nature and character of God.
- God’s commands are not for Him, but for us. They are for our good. They are to protect us and to provide for us. They are the safeguard of love. EXAMPLE: Like an umbrella, if you remove yourself from obedience, you remove yourself from protection and provision. (On a hot summer night, a high school athlete walked past a sign that said no entry, danger, no trespassing. He climbed over a fence with a girlfriend. In the dark she saw his silhouette dive off the diving board into an empty swimming pool. He was paralyzed for life.)
- We must teach our young people that God’s moral absolutes flow from His love to us. He is trustworthy. He wants to provide for us and protect us.
Because we live in a moral universe, love is impossible apart from delayed gratification.
Instant gratification by indulgence of our lusts destroys love of God and neighbor. Selfishness is the enemy of love. When the lower nature is allowed to set the standard of our moral conduct and behavior, sin and bondage are the result. Love is guarded by the ethical boundaries God has established in His moral law. Part of the deceptiveness of positive tolerance is found in its attempt to define freedom in terms of throwing off God’s moral standard. Jesus reserves some of His sternest warnings for this kind of error (see John 8:34-44, also see 2 Pet 2:18-22).
Young people tend to make choices that are based upon immediate return.
- There is a paradox associated with moral choices:
- Most right choices have immediate “negative” consequences (sacrifice, planning, delayed gratification, self-denial, peer disapproval, etc.)
- Most wrong choices have immediate “positive” consequences (temporal pleasure, peer acceptance, false sense of freedom, etc.)
- In the long run, there is a total reversal of consequences. Wrong choices bear more and more bitter fruit and right choices produce ongoing well-being.
- The reason for the above truth is the character of God. This is a moral universe ruled by a holy God. Therefore, the universe is built upon delayed gratification, not indulgence.
- Purity and chastity is power because self-control and love are virtues solely found in those who are living free. It takes God’s truth and God’s strength in order to live free. Our entire identity is bound up in the fact that we were created in the moral image of a holy God. Sin is deadly because it is a distortion of God’s image. Man as image-bearer of God lives in a universe that is not now normal. Death, decay, suffering, injustice, and disease are reigning because of sin (Rom 5:12-21). Not until sin is dealt with will these byproducts of sin be expunged from creation. Thus we proclaim from the rooftops, there are two paths, two kingdoms, two masters, two destinies! If we trust our sinful preferences, we will remain in a state of darkness and deception. By nature we are part of the problem, but through Christ we can be part of the solution.
Youth can’t see the result of choices long term.
- In order to make the sacrifices that are inseparable from right moral choices, young people must be taught that God loves them in Christ and that God is trustworthy.
- This is the only way that they can be equipped to make consistent right choices. We must show them that they are to walk through the maze of life by the precepts of a trustworthy God, even when they cannot see the immediate results. EXAMPLE: Josh McDowell uses the following illustration when teaching young people. He speaks to the young person who has been blindfolded: “You know me, you trust me. Now start walking. I will get you safely through this maze, telling you when to stop and turn.”
- Though we can’t see the results of right choices in the immediate, God sees the end from the beginning.
- In summary, when instructing, counseling, and discipling our youth, we must not stop at level one or two. We must move from precept to principle to the Person of God. Each moral choice needs to be anchored in the Person and character of God. EXAMPLE: Using all three levels, how would you respond to the phrase, “If you loved me, you would sleep with me.” The precept says, “Flee sexual immorality” (1 Cor 6:18). The principle is God’s standard for sex is based upon love, purity, and faithfulness (within marriage). The personlevel states that God is love, pure, and faithful.
Connecting belief and behavior.
- We must now show our youth how beliefs are consequential in the real world, that there is a cause and effect relationship between beliefs and behaviors that have good or bad consequences. God’s moral standards are not only based on truth, they apply to them in a practical way. We must show them what truth can do for them.
- We show them the practicality of the truth when we show them how God’s standards protect them from harm and provide for their well-being. God’s commands are for our good. “And now Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the Lord and His statutes which I command you today for your good?” (Deut 10:12-13, NKJV). God’s commands are not arbitrary. They serve a practical purpose. He never gives commands like, “You shall paint your right ear lobe green.” The apostle John declared, “And His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3b). He never tells us to walk twice as far as we need to go just because He commands it. No, all of His commands have a practical purpose. They are for God’s glory and our good.
- In the example of illicit sex, God’s standard of purity protects them from guilt, unplanned pregnancy, STDs, and emotional distress. Sex with marriage provides spiritual rewards, optimum environment for raising children, peace of mind, truth, true intimacy.
We must know how to teach the truth to our youth.
The Holy Scriptures provide the content, method, and example for teaching truth to our youth.
- By relationship, example, and truth.
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord [is] our God, the Lord [alone] [Truth]! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength [Example]. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart [Example]. You shall teach them diligently to your children [Truth], and you shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up [Relationship]. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” [Truth] (Deut 6:4-9, NKJV).
- Rules without relationship = rebellion. Parents, use the following questions as a self-test to see how you are doing in relating with your youth:
· When was the last time you laughed together?
· When was the last time you cried together?
· Do you know what his/her current favorite song is?
· Do you know who he/she sits with in the school cafeteria?
· When did he/she last seek your advice?
· When did you last forget or cancel a commitment to him/her?
· Do you more often ask questions of or make statements to him/her?
· Have you recently admitted a mistake or fault to him/her?
· What do you know—really know—about his/her spiritual life?
- The answers to such questions help reveal the depth of your relationship with your child and may suggest places to start deepening them right now.
An Addendum on Postmodern Tolerance
Understanding postmodernism is essential if we are to make an accurate assessment of our times.
Postmodern (PM) tolerance is having a disastrous effect on moral virtue in our society. Its corrupt fruits are seen in divorce, recreational fornication, homosexuality, abortion, profanity, and perversion. These sins are defended in the name of tolerance and freedom.
On the worldwide web there are numerous sites filled with bitter anti-Christian material. These are often the same sites that are promoting tolerance. Why is there such ferocious opposition from the “paragons” of tolerance? The reason is because the truth claims of Christianity (which are absolute and exclusive) are the death-blow to postmodernism which is simply a cloak for intellectual and moral self-government (i.e., self-centeredness, self-worship, idolatry).
This casting-off of the Christian worldview for the purpose of moral "liberation" is explicitly admitted by one of the "fathers" of postmodern thought, Aldous Huxley:
“I had motive for not wanting the world to have a meaning; consequently assumed that it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption. The philosopher who finds no meaning in the world is not concerned exclusively with a problem in pure metaphysics, he is also concerned to prove that there is no valid reason why he personally should not do as he wants to do, or why his friends should not seize political power and govern in the way that they find most advantageous to themselves. . . . For myself, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation, sexual and political.”
-Aldous Huxley, Ends and Means, pp. 270 ff.
A theory we have as to the motivation behind the postmodern tolerance view is that when people think of positive tolerance they primarily have in mind sexual freedom. Firstly, homosexual rights and acceptance in Western culture and, secondarily, other deviant lifestyles surrounding sexual immorality like pornography, abortion, fornication, adultery, transsexual/transgender lifestyles seem to be the driving motivation. We believe in the near future that we are going to see this emphasis on tolerance of sex sins spread into even more vile sins such as pedophilia, incest, bestiality, orgies, and public sex acts. It is quite plausible to believe that positive tolerance is really an irrational and demonic defense for an exploding sexual revolution in our culture.
Positive tolerance has become our culture’s highest virtue and coming alongside that is a heightened value placed on sexiness. Being sexy has become most fashionable. Case in point, at a recent awards ceremony Madonna and Brittany Spears kissed on stage (this was planned in advance). We must be reminded that sexiness is not a virtue, it is a vice. It doesn’t have God’s approval but His condemnation. (Flaunting one’s sexual parts in public certainly could be considered a form of sexual harassment!)
Romans 1:18-32 demonstrates that the progression (or, more accurately, regression) into sin is marked by sex sins. We can parallel the steps into moral degradation in Romans 1 with what we witness in our own society in the last 100 years. In verse 18 we recognize that we have entered upon the wrath of God, being given up to our sins, as a society by the following:
· Step 1 – v.18b, Suppression of the truth. We removed the Bible and God from public thought (beginning with higher criticism then on down to the public schools—early 20th century and up to the fifties and sixties).
· Step 2 – v. 21-22, Futile thinking—nihilistic worldview, existentialism, postmodernism, relativism, etc. filled the void left by the removal of a Christian theistic worldview (early 20thcentury up to the present).
· Step 3 – v. 23, Change of focus from God to the creaturely world—materialism, consumerism (beginning in the fifties and on up to the present).
· Step 4 – vv. 24-25, Sex sins increase along with an increase in materialism (the sixties, the sexual revolution and up to the present).
· Step 5 – vv. 28-ff., The rise of sins of every kind; moral anarchy.
In the midst of such moral chaos, Christians must not be duped or intimidated. We must retain confidence in the power of God who stands behind His unbreakable Word. We must remain bold in proclaiming Christ as the only hope for people in the world. It’s vitally important that we rise above the confusion—there is a source of absolute truth; it is outside of us, it is true no matter how you feel (Ps 119:151; John 17:17).
Postmodernism says there is no such thing as knowable absolute truth. Truth is only the creation or construct of the human mind. Therefore, there is no religion superior to anyone else’s. Right and wrong cannot be based on theology, but “what I believe is right for me.” In other words, truth has now become preference, and these preferences are determined by a perverse and wicked human nature.
In postmodern thinking, confident faith is demonized while skepticism is enthroned. Strong convictions are equated with intolerance. If a person has strong convictions he may even be compared to terrorists because he wants to persuade people to adopt his own convictions.
Postmodernism leads its proponents into extreme irrationalism. To know absolute truth is considered arrogant. Dogmatism about the truth is regarded as bigotry and pride. PM tolerance is highly irrational. PM views two contradictory propositions as simultaneously true! By contrast, the Word of God indicates that whatever contradicts truth is error (1 Tim 6:3, 4). This is the law of non-contradiction (A cannot be non-A in the same way and at the same time.). Human history has unequivocally held to it and still does in all realms with the exception of the current moral and ideological anarchy. In other words, in all areas of human endeavor like science, medicine, engineering, driving, sports, etc., we use the law of non-contradiction. Only in the moral and ideological realm (namely the metaphysical) do we seem to allow the law of non-contradiction (and other laws of logic) to be violated.
Scripture truth is unchanging because God is unchanging (1 Pet 1:25). Repentance is the only proper and rational response to postmodern thought. Our thoughts and affections must be adjusted to God’s invariable truth.
Postmodernism attacks the clear meaning of Scripture, suggesting that God’s Word to humanity has countless meanings for countless people. The Word says the opposite. Scripture has one meaning. That meaning is perspicuous (having clarity). It is not “whatever it means to me” (2 Pet 3:16).
The Word of God is the starting point and final test of truth. The Scriptures, being the infallible Word of God, are totally rational because God is the only source of rationality. Without God one cannot explain the origin of rationality.
The natural man (a person not born again) is at war with the truthfulness of God (Rom 1:18). He or she does not receive God’s truth. It is regarded as foolishness (1 Cor 2:14) because the natural man is darkened in his thoughts and driven by a relentless lust for autonomy.
We must recover our love of biblical truth and the conviction that it is unassailable truth (2 Thess 2:13-17). We must proclaim it, for it is a sin to keep it to ourselves (2 Cor 5:11-21).
God is Building a Kingdom of People whom He has enabled to Choose Right from Wrong (Titus 2:11-14).
God’s plan for the recovery of fallen mankind involves the writing of His laws on the hearts of those saved by Christ. This not only means that the conscience is tuned to God’s moral will, it also means that the desire to obey God’s law is stamped upon the hearts of the redeemed. Right moral choices become a function of having been set apart by and in Christ. God-glorifying ethical living is the expression of a new nature that is empowered by God’s Holy Spirit. Christians are not establishing their identities by right moral choices, instead their ethical conduct is the manifestation of who they really are. Thus their transformation by God’s truth and daily righteous living is a function of them becoming what they really are in Christ, sanctified by truth.
The following words from the Lord Jesus interceding for His elect are a most fitting benediction to end with:
“I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As you have sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth” (John 17:14-19, NKJV).
 Jay E. Adams, A Call to Discernment (Eugene, Ore.: Harvest House, 1987), 31.
 Ibid., 29.
Man is a creature made for God:
God is both the source and fulfillment of man’s greatest longings. But because man is estranged from God due to sin, he looks for the fulfillment of his deepest soul’s needs in the creature and the creation (nature), instead in the Creator (Romans 1:25).
Man’s whole purpose on earth is bound up in God, but when sinful man lives alienated from God, Who is the source of all life, death is the result Romans 6:23).
By reason of sin, the human condition is one of ruin and confusion -- man seeks theBYPRODUCTS of a love relationship with God while rejecting God who is the only true source of peace and joy. According to Scripture, to take God-ordained longings (which only God can fulfill), to finite sources is self-destructive and tantamount to idolatry (see Colossians 3:5,6).
Man by reason of sin is cut off from God who is the source of all life, love and good. The conviction that man may have his deepest needs met apart from a right relationship with God is the great delusion of every age.
Man lives in a moral universe because God is holy:
God’s character is excellent, righteous, wise and loving. God’s law is the perfect expression of His righteous character. If God were on earth as a man, He would keep the 10 commandments perfectly. This is precisely what Jesus did.
God’s law is therefore NOT AN ARBITRARY STANDARD. By way of example, if God were to people a planet in a distant galaxy, He would not have a different set of moral laws than on earth, He would not even have the option! The reason being, His laws are the perfect manifestation of His immutable righteousness – He cannot and will not deny Himself.
God is both love and holiness. Man is to be a moral reflection of this union of love and holiness. The two are necessarily joined -- genuine love must operate within a fixed ethical framework (emotion is not a reliable guide).
When God gave the 10 commandments, He organized the moral code into two tablets. The first tablet (commandments one through four), addresses man’s relationship to God – “the vertical.”The second tablet (commandments five through ten), addresses man’s relationship to man – “the horizontal.”
Have you ever wondered why even atheists agree that if everyone kept the 10 commandments it would be “heaven on earth?” The reason for this sentiment is that they recognize that the 10 commandments are the perfect safeguard of love. God’s Decalogue is the protective hedge around love and trust.
Here is where man’s ruined condition and God’s standard come into mortal conflict. God says in effect, “As your Creator, I have an absolute claim upon your life. I know what is best for you. My laws are the path of life. When you disregard my laws, you abuse My good gifts and bring destruction upon yourselves.”
Man in his rebellion, is trying to get his needs met apart from God and His holy law. Man in effect says, “I will fulfill my longings, even if my effort to do so violates your laws. My effort to satisfy my desires and needs my way is so important to me, I choose to decide what is right and wrong for myself.” When that rebellious direction is followed, man’s longings become ruling lusts and God’s gifts are perverted into idols.
The reign of moral relativism:
The terrorist attack of 9-11 caused our sleeping nation to roll over, but not to awaken from its slumber on the bed of moral decadence. Our nation’s sleep is deep – its narcosis is induced by the drug of moral relativism. In these post-modern times, Americans seem oblivious to history’s next ineluctable lesson. History is a consistent teacher, but a harsh one when her lessons are repeatedly ignored.
Consider the regimes that have tried to construct utopian societies apart from God’s law and authority. Though the word “utopia” was written above the gates to those new societies, those who entered found them to be a slaughterhouse of human souls. Marx was wrong about God and human nature – the result was the death of 100 million individuals. Consider just how powerful a philosophical lie can be, for it is the marketing of a lie that fuels revolutions that are heinous. As the popular NRA saying goes, “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” So also it could be said, “Dictators don’t produce holocausts, lying ideologies do.”
America is perched upon the precipice of its own demise because it has ingested a lying ideology. The deadly philosophy she has swallowed is dulling the moral sensibility of America’s citizens. The “toxins” from this ideology are traveling through her system and landing in the minds public school students.
Like the disgusting creature in the movie Alien, whose offspring fed upon the internal organs of its host, so also moral relativism is consuming the moral consciousness of this nation. The relativism of post-modernism is eating away at the conscience of its host.
The lie seems at times to be unopposed by bulk of corporate America – the fashion industry recasts the lie in its latest ad campaigns. A new generation of pre-teens is exposed to the lie by way of videos, music, magazines and fashion. The content of the lie is as follows: “Freedom is only possible when there are no moral absolutes. Those who make moral judgments rob others of their freedom.”
To those untrained in morality who have yet to develop critical thinking skills, the lie sounds like the Magna Charta of personal liberty. Now, accompany the lie with music, film, starlets and fashion and it is even more irresistible. The lie is insidious in nature – it functions like a deadly parasite, gradually desensitizing moral perception.
Situation ethics – a fruit of moral relativism:
Without a point of moral fixity, ethics flow from the dictates of self. This sounds reasonable at first blush, but it opens the door to both anarchy and oppression.
Ethics that flow from self are subject to the passions of the person. Monstrous crimes have been committed by those who in their own minds were simply evening the score. The example of a disgruntled postal worker who guns down a coworker may sound extreme at first, but it effectively illustrates the following principle: Situation ethics allow a person to make up his own “morals” as he goes.
This is a totally tenuous arrangement – one person’s standards of decency may be viewed as discriminatory by another who regards sexual license to be a protected right. By that test of fairness, the lowest common “moral” denominator sets a standard that permits and protects sexual license.
This is precisely the morass in which America is mired. Without a fixed moral rudder America founders on a sea of moral relativism. Sex has been yanked from its moral context. Smut, perversion and indecency are defended as “free speech.”
God’s gifts have the potential of being perverted and misused:
God’s moral commands form the context that protects His gifts from perversion. When God’s gifts are removed from their moral contexts, corruption takes place.
The phrase, “sex is beautiful” is an unqualified statement. It has not been qualified by its God-given context. Without the divine qualifier, the statement is too inclusive.
A Filipino teenager selling her body to help feed her family is the polar opposite of beautiful. To those with a conscience informed by God’s commands, the account of the teenage prostitute evokes moral outrage.
An example from the natural world can help illustrate the principle of moral context: It’s not a crime to ignite the logs in one’s cabin fireplace, but it is a crime to place a lit match in the dry chaparral thirty feet away. The warm, comforting fire in the fireplace becomes an unbelievably destructive force when moved into the context of the nearby forest.
Context is the difference between a legal and an illegal fire. Context is the difference between sexual fidelity and sexual immorality. When God’s gift of sex is removed from its protective context, great damage takes place.
God, the Giver of the gift of sex knows its potential for good or evil: Humanism views morals as merely social mores that reflect statistical analysis (belief about good and evil is seen as nothing more than the prevailing moral opinion of the day). Humanism regards man, not God, to be the source of morals. Social Darwinism has a low view of morality, considering it to be a pragmatic function of society’s survival.
By contrast, the Christian worldview espouses a self-evident moral consciousness in man that evinces the righteous nature of the Creator. God’s laws resonate with the moral dictates He has written upon the conscience of man.
God’s moral mark is stamped upon the human race. Therefore, morals and ethics are anchored in the moral authority of God. Though humans labor to suppress it, God’s moral absolutes are written upon their hearts (See Romans 2:11-16).
God is the “inventor” of human sexual relations. He alone knows exhaustively its potential for good or evil. For mankind’s protection, God commands that sex remain within the context of marriage. Within that God-ordained context, it retains its beauty, power and sanctity, guarded by the bonds of marital fidelity.
Sex is a powerful force because it touches the physical, the emotional and the spiritual. By God’s design, the “act of marriage” is intended to reinforce the bond of marriage. It functions as a kind of “glue” that deepens experientially the “one flesh” description of marriage given by God in His Word (Matthew 19:4-6).
During the act of marriage, the husband and wife are reminded of their bond in a beautiful way. Soul, body, spirit and emotions are involved in the affections of the marriage bed. Mutual trust and surrender are hallowed and blessed with pleasure that is mutual, not narcissistic. Herein resides its power for bonding two people. God regards it sacred for this reason as well as for its procreative purpose.
Illicit sexual relations also touch all three areas of our human unity – this is the very reason that sexual immorality is destructive. Because the spiritual, the emotional and the physical are involved even in sexual immorality, a kind of “bonding” takes place, however fleeting. Sexual sin therefore, is antagonistic to the bonding principle that is built into the act of marriage. Promiscuous relationships fly in the face of God’s design for lifelong marital fidelity.
Sexual immorality is the misuse of God’s good gift: The perversion of a God-given virtue or gift entails the wanton use of it – wanton because it is used outside of the context prescribed by God. God regards the perversion of a virtue to be an “idol.” By the use of the word “idol” is not meant graven image. The term has reference to where a person goes with his whole being in search of fulfillment. The biblical use of idol, when not referring to a graven image, has more to do with a false integration point (an integration point – what a person regards to be a source of unity, purpose, satisfaction and peace).
Man was made for God – Scripture declares that He alone is man’s source of life, unity and integration. God’s gifts, when used as integration points, have the potential to become idols. (Man’s faculties of soul could be described as comprising the will, the intellect, the emotions and the conscience. Only God can integrate man so that these faculties experience a unity designed by the Creator.
Illicit sex is an extremely potent idol because it touches the areas of man’s unity, therefore it is a most convincing pseudo integration point. It appears to deliver unity – the emotional, spiritual and physical are all engaged during an encounter. Illicit sex is more powerful and addictive than a drug because its offer of integration is such a compelling counterfeit. (Scripture makes reference to sexual sins as the “lusts of deceit” – Ephesians 4:22.)
When man the sinner attempts to write his own ethics, he fails to arrive at God’s immutable standard:
It’s a fairytale to think that love is capable of coming up with its own viable ethics. The best it can do is situational ethics. In situation ethics, every case is considered upon its own merits apart from a universal absolute.
When love and mercy are the only values out of which to construct one’s ethics, justice suffers in the process. Where laws are the most dogmatic in defending sexual immorality, the defense of the unborn is the weakest. (When ancient Israel became enmeshed in an orgiastic fertility cult, the sacrifice of living infants was the accompanying the result – see Jeremiah 32:35).
In modern America, millions of unborn babies are “sacrificed” to the god of immoral sexual pleasure. Since the unborn child was not planned or wanted, permission is granted by the state to take its life. How did our nation arrive at the point where the innocent unborn are legally killed and murderers are spared the death penalty? The answer is that sinful man attempted to write his own ethics without God’s help.
Without God’s moral authority, righteousness is trampled. Moral relativism does not seek to know what is universally right or wrong in God’s sight, it must invent its own basis for ethics. Ridiculous foundations for ethics have been suggested from that camp.
Consider the following suggestions that have been proffered as a basis for ethical decisions:
1.) What will bring the most pleasure to the most people? If tested by that question, the blood sport of the Roman coliseum could be justified.
2.) Can it be done by the consent of those who participate? Sex between an adult and a child could be justified by the first two questions.
3.) Will it hurt anyone? Without God’s Word, the answer to number three can never rise above conjecture.
The truth of Scripture is that the 10 commandments are the only immutable safeguard of love to God and neighbor. Break a commandment and love suffers. Violate a command and human dignity is invaded and diminished. Love and trust are injured in the process of violating God’s commands.
Without accountability to God and His moral authority, man’s ethics will be distorted by self-love:
There are no solitary infractions of God’s law. When one commandment is flagrantly transgressed, others are violated in the process. The person who feeds hate will find expression for it somewhere on the continuum of gossip, slander or violence. Breaking a commandment with impunity unleashes a mudslide of further egregious behavior.
Without the first tablet of God’s law, which governs man’s love to God (the vertical), man is left with only his own passions and desires from which to construct his ethics. Once God’s moral authority is removed from the ethical process, there is an infinite void in authority that abhors a vacuum. Rushing in to fill that void is either the self or the state. In time, anarchy or oppression is the inevitable result.
No amount of social engineering can tame the sin nature of man. For that very reason, ideal environments fail to produce perfect harmony among humans. Scripture asserts the reason why this is true – sinful man will not find within himself the motives or ethical will power to love his neighbor as himself.
The necessary change must come from outside of the man. Only a divinely produced change in the man’s nature can cause a man to willingly come under the righteous government of God. (Scripture refers to this change as regeneration – Titus 3:1-7; Ezekiel 36:26,27.)
Though God is transcendent from His creation, He is omnipresent at every point in His creation. When speaking of God’s power and knowledge, Scripture affirms that God is omnipotent and omniscient. For this reason, GOD IS MAN’S ENVIRONMENT. All that a man does is in the presence of God. All of our ethical behavior is first God-ward, then man-ward.
Scripture asserts that violations on the horizontal plane (man-ward) are first and foremost against God Himself (Psalm 51:4)
Without the first tablet of the law, with its reverential fear of God’s moral majesty, human ethics are only man-ward. Sinful man becomes accountable only to sinful man, not to God.
The man whose conscience is informed by Scripture recognizes God as “reader” of his heart motives, thoughts and intentions. This is by design a powerful incentive to curb one’s lusts and to bring one’s desires into conformity with the immutable truth of God’s Word.
Ethics that are solely man-ward fail to provide this immense dimension of moral accountability before the presence of God. Ethics that are merely horizontal are subject to wholesale corruption -- men conceal the contents of their hearts from one another. Deception, exploitation, manipulation and prevarication abound where sinful man is accountable only to himself or to another sinner.
Pornography “promises” it users the fruits of intimacy without the risks of a relationship:
Man the sinner, alienated from God, seeks the byproducts of a relationship with God while remaining estranged from Him. In that condition, man is an inveterate idolater.
Pornography offers its viewers the byproducts of a committed, caring relationship without any relationship at all. Pornography is eros without phileo. It is the quest for erotic intimacy, without a personal relationship. Herein resides its power to degrade and corrupt. It pushes its users further into narcissism, idolatry, isolation and selfishness.
The context God has ordained for sexual relations are a protection from the narcissistic use of pleasure. God has placed His good gifts within moral boundaries that safeguard them from decadent self-indulgence. The good feelings that accompany sexual relations are designed by God to be a pleasure that is experienced within the context of a committed relationship.
The temporary high that drives the addiction factor:
The media has given us shocking stories of husbands and fathers who after experimenting with cocaine became addicted. Their addiction did more than compromise their health, it radically corrupted their morals. They found that their addiction made them willing to lie, cheat and steal in order to supply their habit. What was it about the cocaine that could so quickly degrade the ethics of a married businessman?
Insight into the answer is found in the drug-induced production of endorphins. Endorphins occur naturally in the brain in very small amounts – they are essential to a sense of well-being. Certain activities such as strenuous exercise increase the production of endorphins. Drug-induced production temporarily increases endorphins to the point where the user of cocaine experiences a strong sense of well-being, elation and confidence.
Addiction takes place in part because the drug-induced increase in endorphins is not the result of work, rest or exercise – instead it is an instant high “for free,” not as a result of order, discipline or exertion. Cocaine addiction greatly impairs the normal production of endorphins. When the user is not under the influence of the drug, he is assaulted with negative emotions. While off of the cocaine, he feels far worse than before he ever started using the drug. The easiest and quickest “relief” from withdrawal is to get high again, no matter the cost (therein is the formula for rapid corruption of morals).
Like the drug cocaine, pornography offers its users a deceptive reward – deceptive because the pleasure appears to be “free.” But there are hidden costs.
Pornography is a symptom of masculinity in crisis: When sensual pleasure becomes its own end, it becomes destructive. God’s intent for males is that they pursue the redemptive ideal of steward, provider, hero, leader, caretaker and initiator. Men throw away this dignity when they descend the staircase of illicit sensual pleasure.
When narcissistic eroticism replaces the redemptive ideal of a relationship of romance, manhood suffers in the process.
Pornography functions as a two-dimensional idol that enslaves its worshippers through deceptive pleasure: Pornography is about VICARIOUS sex. Thus, it is an escape from reality. The user engages his imagination in such a way that he rejects his own adequacy, his own station in life and his own sexuality. Pornography offers an IDEALIZED sexuality with an IDEAL partner.
When a man fantasizes about relations with a woman on the printed page or the screen, there is no relationship but with the self. By feeding lust and coveting the fruits of a relationship to the point of sexual arousal, the man is attempting to find fulfillment by way of auto-eroticism with a two-dimensional image.
There is a price that comes with this escapism. Seeking the fruits of intimacy without actual intimacy produces guilt, shame and self-recrimination. Humanism would suggest that any guilt feelings that occur are the result of childhood conditioning. God’s Word declares that the guilt is real legal guilt before God (Romans 3:9-23). For man was made to be in relationship.
Narcissistic passion is lust turned back upon the self, it is anti-relational – it is a rejection of God’s purpose for men. Manhood atrophies when self is the primary object of love.
The use of pornography degrades a man’s character: Pornography sows to cowardice because it permits a man to grasp for what is not his. In his mind he can have it without risk, without commitment, without cost, without failure and without giving himself. When that is done habitually while reinforced with temporary pleasure, subtle changes take place in a man’s character.
The female increasingly becomes an object that exists for one’s erotic pleasure. The world of sexual fantasy claims more and more of a man’s “mental geography.” Since the fulfillment that is implicitly promised is not really delivered, greater quantities of higher “potency” porn are often consumed. Many men become increasingly enslaved because of this principle of diminishing return.
The comparison of porn to an addictive drug is not inaccurate. While a man is under the brief influence of porn’s pleasure and adrenaline rush, he does not feel the pain of his inadequacy, loneliness and self-hate. Like a drug, the titillation has taken him above the negative feelings for the moment. The trouble is his sensual self-indulgence is deepening his problem instead of relieving it.
Dependency upon a quick fix is taking him further into a false peace, a cowardly lifestyle, and an escapist’s way of coping. This cannot help but stab at his relational failures and paralyzing inadequacies.
In the realm of manhood, sacrificial love is power. Self-absorbed narcissism is radical weakness – this explains one of the reasons why porn fills a man with a sense of shame and impotence.
Pornography frequently plays a role in sexual crimes: Dr. Victor B. Cline, who received his PhD. from Berkeley, is a marriage and family counselor. He makes the following observations about pornography use:
1.) 93% of sex addicts and sexual deviants had pornography as a contributor to their lifestyle.
2.) Men who are more intelligent are the most susceptible – it is due to their greater capacity for fantasy and imagination.
3.) Frequent use produced desensitization, loss of inhibition s and a seared conscience.
4.) Regular users experienced an increasing desire to act out the fantasies.
5.) The more deviant users precipitated to violent imagery depicting victimization and sexual crimes (Pornography’s Effects on Adults & Children, Morality in Media, Inc., New York, N.Y.).
Because there is a stifling of conscience that repeatedly takes place during porn use, the corrupted conscience may cease to be an internal deterrent to crime. The desire to ACT OUT may override the function of the conscience.
Criminal investigators know first hand what humanists often deny – namely that heavy porn use is a common denominator among pedophiles and rapists. Habitual porn use manifests a desire to live for eros pleasure WITHOUT LOVE. The person depicted in porn imagery is viewed as an object to be used, perhaps abused and then discarded. The sensual cravings of the user are commonly accompanied by enraged male impotence that is prone to violence (the aggression continuum runs all the way from verbal abuse to domestic violence, to rape, pedophilia and murder).
Sex, when taken out of God’s protective context, has the potential for great destructiveness:Feeding upon wanton illicit sensuality contributes to the wholesale erosion of a man’s character. Men were created by God to be protectors – protracted illicit sensual indulgence can play a part in slowly changing a man from protector to predator.
A passage in the Old Testament gives an account of a rape that took place during the reign of King David (2 Samuel 13:1-19). The account powerfully illustrates how the “glue principle” produces a tormenting, hateful reminder of sexual immorality.
Amnon, a son of David, raped his half-sister Tamar after lusting for her day and night. Amnon pretended to be sick. He requested that everyone leave him and that Tamar alone enter his bedroom with food. When she entered his bedroom, he sexually violated her (he later paid for the wicked deed with his life when Tamar’s brother avenged the crime).
Amnon’s lust for Tamar drove him to frustration and agitation UNTIL he could ACT OUT his fantasies. Then something remarkable happened. The Scripture says, “Then Amnon hated her with a very great hatred; for the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her. And Amnon said, to her, ‘Get up, go away,’ (and to his attendants,) ‘Throw this woman out of my presence’” (2 Samuel 13:15, 17).
This is the “glue principle” in full backfire mode! Amnon is at war with the glue principle – he seeks to extinguish the reminder of the bond that resulted from his violent lust. Tamar’s presence and existence reminds him of the animal he is.
When sexual pleasure is divorced from the discipline of love, the “discard principle” also kicks in with a vengeance. Amnon craved Tamar like some tasty cuisine to be consumed. After seizing her and violating her, she has become as undesirable as refuse.
Amnon’s cowardly act involved using his male strength to prey upon another who was weaker. The shame, guilt, debauchery and self-contempt associated with this act will not go away – the memory of the illicit bond keeps producing “fallout.”
What was once uncontrollable appetite is now revulsion. Amnon cannot rid himself of these internal recriminations – the sight and memory of Tamar only exacerbates the problem. This is one of the main reasons why many predators take the lives of their victims! When the glue principle is ripped out of context, the bond keeps kicking out new fallout that the perpetrator would like expunge.
The New Testament also warns about the bond formed in sexual immorality: “Or do you not know that the one who joins himself to a harlot is one body with her? For He says, ‘The two will become one flesh.’ But the one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him. Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body” (1 Corinthians 6:16-18).
The media’s naiveté concerning sexual sin is truly astounding: The press, educators and the ACLU take pride in the fact that they are willing to face disturbing facts head on. The last thing they would dream of admitting is that they are sheltered, squeamish or naïve. This author would assert that when it comes to sexual immorality, they have no stomach for the truth.
Because sexual immorality has been dignified, defended, legalized, protected and deemed a “human right,” the media is willingly blind to the moral principle of sowing and reaping. With the recent spate of child abductions, the issue of sexual predation has reemerged with intense interest.
Why would a citizen who is a good neighbor with no criminal record abduct a child and murder her? The blindness of humanistic reason is pathetic. They cannot admit that man is a morally accountable being by divine design. They refuse to acknowledge that a man is responsible before God for indulging in sinful thoughts of sexual violence. They become tight-lipped when they hear that wicked fantasies can produce an overwhelming urge to act out the sins.
When God’s moral absolutes are declared, they cry “That’s religion! Keep church and state separate! Do not judge!” In actuality they fear that someone’s ox will be gored if specific sexual sins are named. By surrendering to that fear, they have sacrificed all objectivity in the area of sexual immorality.
By contrast, the Scriptures deal exhaustively with the activity of sin in the heart of man. The Bible shows us how sin is germinated, nurtured and birthed – Scripture “connects the dots” between a man’s thoughts and deeds (James 1:13-15).
Here is where humanism is furthest from reality. The humanist worldview cannot explain the origin of morals or of evil, yet it proposes its worthless “solution” to human wickedness – behavioral psychology.
By contrast, the Scriptures speak boldly about the transgressions that tear the human soul. The Bible can clearly trace the downward spiral to deviancy and bestiality (Romans 1:18-32).
The Scriptures speak with comprehensive authority concerning the machinations of sin in the human mind and heart. Men reject God’s testimony, NOT because it does not correspond to reality, but because they themselves fear exposure by the light of God’s Word (John 3:19-21).
Pornography is an “index” sin that marks the level of our nation’s descent into greater sexual permissiveness: In our land, the floodgates of sexual license have been opened because God’s protective context has been slighted. Sex has been made into a toy, an amusement, an indiscriminate pastime without boundaries. The sacredness of giving oneself solely within the context of marital bonds is considered outdated and passé. Instead, sexual expression runs like stagnant water in a barnyard ditch. Its beauty and spirituality are destroyed when its context is destroyed.
Visual promiscuity has become a multi-billion dollar business that enslaves, corrupts and debauches its users. As pornography is devoured by consumers, the degrading cycle is furthered – lewdness for dollars. Every year more of America’s sons and daughters fall to the seduction of income in exchange for acts of lewdness in front of a camera lens. Houses of prostitution flourish next to outlets of pornography for the simple reason that lust stimulated by the visual demands physical expression. Without the consumer of pornography, the cycle of smut production could not continue to grow.
The lies inherent in pornography enslave, degrade and deceive: Porn contains lies about sex, women and the masculine self. As Scripture teaches, truth sets free, but lies enslave – Jesus taught this ineffable principle in the gospel of John (John 8:32-36).
The lies inherent in pornography make it a cruel hoax. Instead of bringing fulfillment, porn erodes a man’s moral courage. It leaves a man less disciplined and less noble – it increases weakness, discontentment and guilt. Porn use eats away at a man’s boldness for the cause righteousness – it leaves him craven, hypocritical and morally unstable, less able to take an ethical stand. (The man who yields to this ruling lust becomes a sensual opportunist without backbone.)
A man’s real search is for completeness and fulfillment of soul: While a man is wed to the idol of sensuality, he is blind to his true need. The immaterial, eternal soul of man CANNOT attempt to feed itself upon sensual pleasure without an enslavement factor.
The eternal soul of man must have an immaterial, personal and infinite source in order to truly satisfy its longing. The selfish pleasures of illicit sensuality only mask the painful deprivation of soul – they steer a man away from God, the only true Source of completeness and fulfillment. Only God in Christ can love and comfort the soul and speak peace to it.
Only the redemption that is in Christ can restore fallen man’s true humanity: The good news of the gospel is that even the worst sinner is not beyond the reach of God’s power and mercy. The Corinthians of the first century world were notorious fornicators, yet by God’s grace a church was planted in their midst.
Many of the Corinthian believers who trusted Christ had a past of sexual degradation: “Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:9b-11).
Christ has compassion for those who are weighed down with guilt and hopelessly entangled in sin. As the “Friend of sinners,” He calls the broken and ensnared to Himself and grants them forgiveness and repentance (Matthew 11:28-30).
God’s moral mark is upon us. The only true freedom and dignity is found in Christ Who restores sinners to their created purpose of knowing God.
1.) God’s precepts and commandments are the expression of who God is. Therefore, God’s commands to us as men are inseparable from the character, person and truthfulness of God. The moral imitation of our Heavenly Father is the key mark of a true child of God (see Eph. 5:1-14). God is FOR us – He is making us like Himself morally – that is the major way that He loves us! His precepts preserve us, protect us and provide for us. Moral purity starts with right thinking about our Heavenly Father’s holy purposes for us (these purposes work for our highest good and highest happiness).
2.) A clear conscience is POWER! It gives us confidence before God and before men. Paul lived with clarity of conscience as a ruling principle (Acts 24:15,16). The fear stirred up by a defiled conscience keeps us from enjoying God’s love and being perfected by that love (1 John 4:16-18).
3.) Obedience keeps us “on track” in God’s program for us as men. God’s program for us is wrapped up in Christ. Christ is the architect of the new man (Col. 3:10; 2 Cor. 5:17). He regenerated us, making us new creatures with new desires. Christ is the blueprint of the new man (Col. 3:10; Rom. 8:29). We are being conformed to His image, the image (blueprint) of God’s Son. Christ is the contractor of the new man (Eph. 15,16; Col. 2:19). Our ongoing construction (sanctification) is managed by Christ – He gives the orders and supplies the power source for our change into His likeness. Christ is resident in the new man (Col. 1:27). He has taken up residence in the new creation which He has built – He is the occupant, dwelling in the new man. (The man who walks a sure course toward heaven keeps “putting on” the behaviors of the new man (Eph. 4:24).
4.) Because God is love and holiness, this is a moral universe. As a result, we are required to exercise delayed gratification. In other words, passion and self-indulgence sin against the character of God. They are antagonistic to love and holiness. This truth about God’s character affects all of our moral choices. It’s a bit of a paradox, but our moral choices for righteousness come with a temporary or immediate cost or sacrificial consequence. Our wrong moral choices come with an immediate gratification or positive temporary consequence. The key word is “immediate.” In the long run, there is a complete reversal! The benefits of right moral choices will bring long-term fruit. The opposite is wrong moral choices which “sacrifice the future on the altar of the present” and bring long-term woe.
5.) A man’s commitment to purity begins before he encounters his next temptation. Success in the face of temptation is joined to his decision to “make straight paths for his feet” (Heb. 12:13). As men, we already know where and what the sources of our temptation will be. We are to steer clear of these opportunities to sin. We are to avoid making a provision for sin (Rom. 13:14). Purity is only possible in this immoral generation if we refuse to be “sensual opportunists.” The Christian man who is developing moral backbone guards himself from being a passive responder to sensual stimuli. (The love of Christ puts steel in his backbone.)
6.) The pursuit of moral excellence is the warranty of genuine salvation (2 Pet. 1:5,9,10). The true child of God is known for his daily fight against sin. He never puts down his weapons until glory. Assurance of salvation comes from abiding in Christ (1 John 2:28).
7.) Determine ahead of time to be a bold witness for Christ. It’s amazing that the world is so shrewd in recognizing those who are not of it. When we take a stand for Christ and refuse to be a chameleon, the world will of its own volition withdraw much of its offer of “free” immoral pleasure. He who is regarded as a fool for Christ now will be a priest and king ruling with Him when the Lord returns. Good soldiers of Jesus Christ are willing to suffer hardship (2 Tim. 2:3).
8.) Like a fighter pilot who returns from his mission, do a “de-briefing” of your last serious temptation (moral battle). Analyze just where you became vulnerable in the “dogfight.” Record these findings in a journal and then look up Scripture that answers your areas of weakness and passion. Arm yourself to suffer (self denial) for the sake of righteousness – it is the Lord whom you serve (1 Pet. 4:1-6). Memorize or keep passages of Scripture close at hand in order that you might be prepared for your next encounter (Ps. 119:11; Eph. 6:17). Use temptation as a prompting to pray for strength (Eph. 6:18; Heb. 2:18).
9.) Set aside time each day to enjoy the Lord through worship. It is our joyful evangelical duty to focus our minds and hearts upon the perfections and excellence of the Lord. For it is by these majestic attributes that He has made us His eternal favored sons (2 Pet. 1:3,4). God’s perfections formed the promises that take us from defiled dust to eternal glory. These gospel promises have set us free from the corruption that is in the world by lust (2 Pet. 1:4ff.). Use Ps. 103 and Ps. 145 as a model of how to pray back to God His perfections which have been exerted for our benefit and His glory.
10.) Reckon yourself dead to sin and alive to God. Christ has purchased your victory over sin’s dominion. It is your responsibility to enter into that victory by faith each day (Rom. 6:10,11), (even when you don’t feel like it). Reckoning yourself dead to sin and alive to God is your preparation forpresentation. In other words, each day we are to present ourselves to God (after considering ourselves dead to sin and alive to God). By that presentation we live in a way that says “I belong to the Lord.” Then, the instruments of our body are used to declare our loyalty to righteousness, our new master (Rom. 6:13,14).
The man of principle operates in the realm of principle
By God’s design, the realm of manhood is primarily a realm of principle, more than nurture. As the gender appointed by God to assume positions of authority, it is fitting that the man learn to excel in fidelity to principle.
Principle is ever the godly man’s lamp that illumines his decisions (Ps 119:105). Principle marks out the godly man’s path (1 Tim 6:11-12). Principle is the realm of every godly leader; the buck stops with the man.
Even a man’s decision to do nothing is regarded by God as a decision. The O.T. indicates (in the context of making a vow) that if a man hears his wife saying something day after day and he does nothing about it (refuses to exercise power of veto), God regards what the wife said to have been ratified by the husband! Even in his passivity, he is regarded by God as the leader! (Num 30:6-16).
In the O.T. God always targeted the priests, the rulers, the lawyers, the fathers, and the prophets as those who were most responsible for influencing the moral direction of the covenant nation (Jer 5:31). In Psalm 2, it is the rulers and kings that God identifies as leading the rebellion of the pagan nations against God’s moral government.
By contrast (in spite of what the radical feminists say), the woman is not designed by God to be head of state, ruler of the people, interpreter of law. She is not normally called upon to decide if a man should be sent to the frontlines of battle, or if a criminal should be sent to the gallows, or if an employee should be jobless. Historically, it has not been women who have commanded armies, shot traitors, nor made the difficult moral decisions that effect the directions of nations. (England’s Margaret Thatcher, as a world leader was an anomaly, albeit a fine one.)
Scripture describes the place of the woman’s greatest influence as child rearing in the home (Prov 31). Her most valuable teaching role is through nurture, connection, and the maintenance of relationships. (Though principle has as stronger role than nurture for the male, nurturing by the man is certainly involved as well, Josh McDowell reminds us that, “Rules without relationship equals rebellion.” The man is to provide moral leadership through relationship, instruction, and example. Each area of moral influence exercised by the man has a context or a “relational space,” whether church, family, government, business, or society.)
The feminization of society
Man’s success in providing a moral compass is completely tied to his submission to God’s moral government. Biblical male headship is “top down” authority that is totally dependent upon submission to God’s rule. The headship of the man is affirmed, reinforced, and energized by surrender to God’s authority in Christ (1 Cor 11:1-12).
The prerequisite for the man’s daily moral leadership is the intake of God’s principles. Submission to the principles of Scripture have the net effect of educating and activating the man’s conscience to that he may successfully execute his cultural calling as spiritual leader. There is no other way to successfully provide moral leadership (Is 48:17-19).
As societies move toward apostasy, submission to divine principles is abandoned by degrees. The book of Isaiah is the most articulate in all of Scripture in providing an accounting of this departure from God.
The prophet speaks of a “spirit of distortion” (Is 19:14) in which God’s structure for the home and society is perverted and distorted. When the “spirit of distortion” takes hold, the divinely intended stability of a theocratic, patriarchal culture is gradually eroded. God’s appointed authority is despised and those who should not be in authority seize it and usurp it. Anarchy, rebellion, and disrespect tear the society apart. The prophet Isaiah mourns this tragic distortion, “Oh my people! Their oppressors are children and women rule over them” (Is 3:12).
This overturning of God’s authority structure comes with its own punishment. For a culture cannot survive for long with such wholesale role reversal (Is 3:2-6; 24:2-5).
The arrogance of the ungodly causes them to despise and reject God’s rule. “Bottom up” rule is always nihilistic. Through disorder and lawlessness, it throws off God’s protective umbrella of ordained authority and in so doing, paves a pathway to hell.
By contrast, God’s plan is perfect. He has vested the home with a complementary relationship between husband and wife and between principle and nurture.
In the godly home, the virtues of principle and nurture operate in harmony like a husband and wife (just as they operate individually in the husband and wife). (Both husband and wife exercise principle and nurture, but the gender roles outlined in the Scripture set forth the father as the key communicator and enforcer of principle --Deut 6:4-7. The voice of the husband and father is to be a voice of moral guidance; He reflects the moral authority of God the Father – Deut 4:9).
When a society loses its vision for the leadership of the fathers (Ps 78:5-8), principle and nurture can become polarized and assume an adversarial role toward one another. Once fathers abdicate their God-given role of establishing principle, homes become matriarchal. Nurture swallows up principle. Principle is abandoned in favor of nurture. The home without biblical principle has become a microcosm of society, it’s nurture without God’s moral absolutes.
This abandonment of principle is precisely what is happening in the “culture wars” taking place in our country. America woke up one morning to find nurture (compassion and toleration) had been set against principle (moral absolutes) in the marketplace of ideas. Principle and nurture have become divorced and are now bitter enemies. (In many ways this antithesis is manifested in two opposing political views.)
The political conservative argues for traditional family values associated with Judeo-Christian standards. Those of the political left push for feminism, the toleration of homosexuality as a legitimate alternative lifestyle, pornography as “free speech,” and abortion (“reproductive rights),” all in the name of compassion, freedom, and toleration.
The political liberal spins his diatribe of social concern and compassion, but it’s nurture withoutprinciple. For the liberal, inner feelings are king at the expense of God’s moral absolutes. The political liberal rejects an absolute moral code that applies to all men. Law and ethics, he says, should emanate from the individual’s choice and feelings. According to the liberal, this is true freedom, love, and real compassion.
Once ethics are divorced from God’s law, the moral debate becomes a shrill free
for all as to who has the moral high ground. Recently I was listening to a San Francisco radio station. The author of a book on gay marriage was being interviewed. When speaking of homosexual partners, the author used the phrase, “loving relationships” at least once in every paragraph. Clearly, the author hoped to wear down his opposition by appearing as if his position, which advocated homosexuality, was the most loving and compassionate.
As divine principles are increasingly marginalized, political conservatives will find that their moral position will find less and less of a hearing. The moral conservative will appear increasingly antiquated and irrelevant. The reason is quite evident; the feminist values of nurture have replaced the patriarchal values of principle.
The culture, like the home, has become feminized – a posture of “anti-principle” reigns. The secularization of our culture is the tragic result.
In the political arena, the political conservative is cast as harsh, moralistic, unloving, backwards, brittle, critical, and unfeeling. The political liberal describes himself as the opposite of each of these. He thinks that his position of nurture places him on the moral high ground.
Behind this sociodrama is a spiritual battle for the soul of this nation. The divorce betweennurture and principle must be exposed before it is too late. For what is touted as progressive is nothing more than the damnable downgrade described in Romans 1:18-32.
The liberal mind set foolishly imagines that each person has the ability to write his own “loving” ethics. This pipe dream of lawless love has the makings of a moral holocaust. Consider the following series of excerpts from “Knowing Right from Wrong: A Christian Response to Postmodern ‘Tolerance’ ” by Jay Wegter and Massimo Lorenzini, available online atwww.frontlinemin.org/rightfromwrong.asp.
A hideous and rapacious beast known as “lawless love”
Scripture demands that human dignity, life’s sanctity, and love’s boundaries are founded upon God’s laws. Lawless love is the patent denial that justice is inseparable from Christian love (Micah 6:8). Consider the following contrast between biblical love and the lawless “love” espoused by positive tolerance.
Principle is the divine framework for love. Without God’s laws to provide the structure for relationships and morals, “love” will be at an utter loss to find its ethical boundaries and guardrails. Principle is the safeguard and foundation of love. “Love is the fulfillment the law” (Rom 13:8). Whatever purports to be love and vaunts itself as caring – if it does not defend and fulfill divine principle, its claims amount to nothing but sentimentalism.
A man’s battle for principle begins in his conscience
We’ve seen so far that the exercise of godly manhood is inseparable from the communication of divine principles. Our attention now turns to the arena of conscience.
Because we live in a fallen world that is at enmity with God, the communication of divine principle will always involve battle. All those who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (2 Tim 3:12). They will most certainly be misunderstood and hated (Jn 15:19-23ff.).
God calls men to be diligent in matters of conscience (1 Tim 1:5; 2:19; Acts 24:15-16). The pain and effort of maintaining a clear conscience is worth the effort. A clear conscience is where a man’s moral power resides. A clear conscience enables him to function as God intended. It liberates him to lead spiritually and to be about the business of influencing others for the sake of gospel holiness.
His calling is to teach, model, enforce, defend, and establish biblical principles. He is called upon to do this amidst a sea of opposition that wars against God’s undeniable moral absolutes (1 Cor 4:9-14).
The world may be screaming, “All is grey and up for personal opinion,” but the man of God must declare the Scriptures. When the world is crying “grey,” the man of God is setting forth the black and white of God’s Word (2 Tim 4:1-5).
This evil generation continually pushes for pragmatism, moral relativism, and situational ethics. But the godly man is called upon to bring the truths of God’s Word to bear on all of life’s situations. He is to exemplify “universal obedience” (Titus 2:7).
Other godly men sharpen him for the task in ways that women cannot not. When men who are committed to biblical principle experience fellowship together, “iron sharpening iron” takes place (Prov 27:17). This sharpening process involves a mutual challenge to demonstrate an ever higher fidelity to principle.
When in the company of godly men, the conversation frequently turns to the subject of holding our course amidst the resistance of this age. In our present ideological climate, there is a common form of resistance to biblical principle. It is the prevailing collection of specious arguments that urge compromise in the interest of love and compassion.
The godly man knows that the surest road to compassion is marked out by God’s truth. When one settles for a brand of compassion that compromises the truth, the compassion will prove to be short-lived. The consequences of truth denied, suppressed, or distorted in the interest of “love” will always catch up to us in time.
A truth-less compassion will keep delivering new installments of consequences. In the end, it will produce a harvest of thorns (Jer 12:13). Therefore the man of God is willing to be faithful to his Scripture-informed conscience, no matter how much the popular tide is running against him.
His conscience is his tool for teaching, modeling, and defending principle. He must keep it honed and cleaned. This is vital because the man of God must be in the daily habit of cutting through every lie that argues for compromise of principle. Sometimes the untruths that lead to compromise of principle come from very close quarters, from intimates, family members, spouse, friends. It is in these situations that a man’s fear of God is put to the test.
In the “Hagar the Horrible” comic strip, the adolescent daughter complains to her mother, “Life isn’t fair, men have all the power.” The mother whispers to the daughter, “But women have a secret weapon.” The daughter asks intently, “What is it?” Mom answers, “Man’s guilt.” The daughter replies, “What if the man is not guilty about anything. Mom answers, “Nonsense, every man is guilty about something.”
That cartoon is humorous because it is so true to life. Because of man’s cultural calling to be a communicator and example of principle, his conscience is sensitive in ways that a woman’s conscience is not. A sincere man will always be engaged in the struggle to keep up the maintenance of his conscience (Acts 24:15-16).
He will be intensely aware of his failure to measure up to God’s standards. The question is, “How will he do the accounting of his conscience?” “How will he deal with the scales of justice in his conscience?” “How will he seek relief?” The way in which he answers reveals much about the man.
Truth versus bribery in the inner man
God desires truth in the innermost being (Ps 51:6). The innermost being, the conscience, the affections, that is where fidelity to principle begins. The man of principle is faithful first of all to his conscience in the presence of God, then to his wife and family, then to his church, and finally to his associations in the world.
These “circles” of principle applied are each dependent upon the previous circle of faithfulness. It always begins with attention to conscience in the presence of God in the fear of God. Once Adam listened to the voice of his wife so as to eat the forbidden fruit, he temporarily disqualified himself from his calling to defend principle (Gen 3:17). The input of a fellow creature, his beloved wife, was permitted to usurp the place of God in the conscience.
The man who demonstrates fidelity to principle is frequently alone with God. There is no other way to overcome the fear of man (Prov 29:25). There is much loneliness and solitude that accompanies the maintenance of conscience. The “help” others can give us with issues of conscience is very limited.
As men, we are frequently tempted to short-circuit the process of doing the agonizing “trench work” of dealing with our consciences before God. One of the most common temptations is to go to those who have affection for us and who approve of us in order to feel better about ourselves.
If your conscience is troubling you, the counsel is DON’T DO IT. Don’t go to others until you have finished your business with God. God’s appointed path to peace and joy in believing is engage in ruthless, biblical, self-confrontation (Ps 139:23-24). Joyful integration is reserved for the contrite (Is 57:15).
The godly man invites admonishment. It is the wise man who welcomes reproof more than flattery. “Do not reprove a scoffer, lest he hate you, reprove a wise man, and he will love you” (Prov 9:8). “Let the righteous smite me in kindness and reprove me; it is oil upon my head; do not let my head refuse it” (Ps 141:5a).
Puritan Richard Sibbes offers the following note about self-confrontation and the hatred of sin:
A man may know his hatred of evil to be true, first, if it is universal – he that hates sin truly, hates all sin. Secondly, true hatred of sin is fixed – there is no appeasing it but by abolishing the thing hated. Thirdly, true hatred of sin is more rooted in affection than anger – anger may be appeased, but hatred of sin remains and sets itself against the whole kind. Fourthly, if our hatred of sin is true, we hate all evil, in ourselves foremost, and secondly in others. Fifthly, he that hates sin truly, hates the greatest sin in the greatest measure; he hates all evil in just proportion. Sixthly, our hatred of sin is right if we can endure admonition and reproof for sin, and not be enraged – therefore, those who swell against reproof do not appear to hate sin.
When facing the temptation to go to others for comfort of conscience, remember, the Scriptures enjoin us to go to others for the purpose of confessing our sins! -- James 5:16, (NOT for the purpose of collecting sympathizers).
It’s been said, “Of all the roads to a woman’s heart, pity is the straightest.” As men, we instinctively know that God has “wired” women to be compassionate nurturers. They will reliably give us a tender ear and a sympathetic response.
The caution leveled at men concerns the willingness to stick with the work of conscience until it is done. A clear conscience will prove elusive if a man allows the praise and sympathy of others to short-circuit his painful work of self-confrontation.
Following through with the work of conscience pays a huge dividend. Fidelity to principle will not produce a pain free life, but it will produce a clear conscience life, and that is precisely what a man needs in order to be fitted for his high calling of “truth broker.” The joy and strength of a clear conscience before God is an indescribable blessing.
The conscience of the sincere, Bible-believing man knows when he has admitted bribery, excesses, emotional escape hatches, self pity, blame, resentment, or any other conscience-defiling sin. Conscience maintenance is courageous work.
Because we sin everyday, there is a continual need for self-confrontation in the presence of Christ. The clear conscience man preaches the Gospel to himself everyday. He knows his new covenant resources in Christ. He practices radical heroism and realism in dealing with personal sin.
Conscience maintenance is courageous work. Courage is called for because our defects and bosom sins frequently condemn us. We are all too familiar with the recalcitrant areas of idolatry which seem to resist our best efforts of sin mortification. We tire of confronting ourselves. In time the sins of others appear larger than our own.
This second short circuit is different from the temptation of seeking sympathy and praise from others. The second temptation involves carnal efforts to balance the scales of conscience by focusing on the sins others have committed against us. Our false “righteous indignation,” no matter how vociferous, cannot fool the conscience. It will still trouble us. The sincere man who bribes his conscience in this way will still feel “greasy.”
He knows he is yet entertaining a comprised principle. No amount of sophistry can fool his conscience. No matter how much he focuses on the offenses he has received at the hands of others, his conscience will not admit these as legitimate weights on its scales of justice.
A third short circuit is closely related to the second. It also is a carnal effort to silence the accusing conscience by tinkering with the scales. In this case it is by conducting moral comparisons with others. The praying Pharisee sought to do business with his conscience by elevating himself morally on the faults of others, as if their gross iniquity would propel him, a “moral” man to the top of the heap. Scripture tells us that he left the temple unjustified (Luke 18:9-12).
No man has ever brought peace to his conscience by making moral comparisons with others. Paul tells us that those who attempt to do are “without understanding” (2 Cor 10:12).
The man whose conscience accuses him will remain stuck until he repents. As long as he bribes his conscience by utilizing short-circuit carnal attempts at balancing it, he will continue to feel that he has sold his soul for a mess of pottage.
There is no substitute for biblical self-confrontation. Without it, the conscience is like a jailor who won’t release his prisoner. The “captive” man is puzzled – for this inner device planted by God, the conscience, still sends him messages of shame, guilt, and self-recrimination. His conscience won’t clear him, even when other people do.
Because the conscience operates on strict justice alone, there will be no radical relief until there is a “trial.” The man must put himself on trial for the purpose of a judgment. He must give up shared blame. He must take a stand against himself, throw out all alibis. He must say the same thing about his personal sin that God does. He must determine to be free from sin’s dominion by God’s grace. He must break its pattern and stranglehold and smash the idols and lies that permit its perpetuation. He must by faith see His righteous Substitute suffering in his place, experiencing the just penalty for this sin. He must consent to be cleansed to the very depths of his conscience God’s way.
Yes, conscience maintenance is courageous and diligent work. So many professing believers carry out their existence on earth with troubled consciences because they tolerate something that stands between heaven and themselves. Countless believers live with a grieved Spirit because they live with unresolved sin issues.
The preciousness of a clear conscience is worth the effort. Do the work, find the “Achan” in your heart that is blocking your peace and joy. By God’s Spirit conduct a search and destroy mission to root out the lies that you have been believing. Locate the lies that have permitted your compromise of principle.
Like a computer scan for virus, expose your life to the Word and the Spirit with ruthless honesty. Keep Christ and the Gospel close by so that you will not be afraid to hear the worst news about yourself. Our depravity is worse than we think. Our capacity for self-deception is deeper than we have ever imagined (Jer 17:9-10). Our propensity for self-righteousness is beyond comprehension.
The lies that hold our sin in place must be identified, deconstructed, and brought bound and gagged to Christ (2 Cor 10:5).
The way a man deals with his conscience reveals how he deals with God
“A good conscience is the palace of Christ; the temple of the Holy Ghost; the paradise of delight, the standing Sabbath of the saints.” St. Augustine.
“Conscience is well-bred and soon leaves off talking to those who do not wish to hear it.” Samuel Butler.
“No flattery can heal a bad conscience, so no slander can hurt a good one.” Thomas Watson.
In the final analysis, the man with a sleepy, self-justifying conscience manifests a compromised loyalty and devotion to Christ. A man cannot deal untruthfully with his conscience without dealing untruthfully with the Lord. Double dealing with one’s conscience belies a lack of submissive toward Christ.
Puritan divines commonly exhorted their parishioners to “Be kind to the Holy Spirit.” The Spirit works with our consciences in such an intimate manner that He literally is willing to give permission to the saint or withhold it for certain activities that are within the confines of Scriptural precepts. He is willing to lead us if we are in the habit of listening to Him, and if we are in the habit of being transparent with him and submissive toward Him in matters of conscience.
The Puritans understood that submission to God’s Spirit (be kind to the Spirit) was tied to His intimacy in leading and comforting. The submissive man will have more of the Spirit’s comfort than an imperious believer who implicitly trusts his own decisions.
The humble man who trembles at God’s Word will experience God’s presence (Is 66:1-2). God condescends to take special notice of our repenting and self-confrontation, He takes delight in the sacrifices of a broken spirit (Ps 51:17).
The godly man leaves off his quarrel with others that he might quarrel with his own iniquity in the presence of God. The godly man throws out excuses for his sin. He humbles himself without turning to rationalizations for his failures. He does not raise himself from humiliation prematurely, he lets God’s grace raise him up at the right time, after a season of humbling (James 4:6, 10).
The fear of man may tempt us to compromise principle. The failings of others may tempt us to self-righteous comparisons with others. The godly man listens assiduously to his conscience; he knows that his fear of God and comfort in God are closely tied to the spiritual discipline of maintaining a clear conscience. As Thomas Brooks once said, “A good confidence and a good conscience go together.”
God makes His abode with the humble (Is 66:1-2). A key mark of that humility is a readiness to afflict oneself over personal sin. When we cast ourselves upon God in this manner there is a sweet communion with Him as we allow Him to be our Justifier instead of attempting to justify ourselves.
The success of Adam’s stewardship was tied to God’s revelation.
From a peach tree no wider than a broom handle, my dad harvested over one hundred pounds of delicious fruit in one season. He took great pride in the fact that his careful pruning, cultivating, and fertilizing resulted in a bumper crop. Every man feels something of his original cultural calling in Adam. From the smallest cultivated fig tree to the hanging gardens of Babylon, there is a divinely intended satisfaction in fulfilling the mandate, “Subdue the earth” (Genesis 1:28).
In addition to working the ground, Adam was also commanded to rule over the creatures of the earth. Folks who live in the city may keep an aquarium of tropical fish or travel to Sea World to watch Shamu do flips for his squid dinner – both are related to man’s cultural calling to rule as stewards of God’s creation, including creatures (Psalm 8).
Adam’s rule was intended to bring about order unto fruitfulness for God’s glory. Adam’s kingship rule was on behalf of Another. Adam was to function as vice-regent and steward; God alone is eternal King and owner of all. Adam’s “covenant consciousness” meant that all he did in his working and ruling was to be dedicated to God. Adam as divine image-bearer, had the awareness that God had crowned him with incomparable dignity. Thus, Adam’s identity as divine image-bearer was inseparable from greatness of his task to reflect God’s attributes in all of life.
The increase in the state of order that Adam brought to the creation was to include the raising up of families and communities in which God was loved, honored, worshipped and obeyed. (Adam was to bring moral order through the knowledge of God and through the faithful proclamation of His revelation.) This would only take place if the truth of God’s revelation governed all of Adam’sinterpreting of his world. Adam’s covenant consciousness focused upon his design as vice-regent. He was made in God’s image, endowed with capacities, and appointed over the works of God’s hands; all for the purpose of showing forth the glory of his Maker (Isaiah 43:7). (For a discussion of Adam’s role as prophet, priest and king, see the book by G.I. Williamson, The Westminster Confession of Faith for Study Classes, P & R Publishing, 1978, pp. 44, 45.)
The adequacy of Adam’s unfallen manhood.
The first exercise of masculine strength on the planet was by Adam, our first father. Adam in paradise was strong, brilliant, tireless, creative and holy. He tended the garden in an un-cursed world without exhaustion, perspiration or resistance. His work was not opposed by fire, flood, hail, thistle or canker worm. Before the fall, he did not know failure. Frustration and suffering only came later with the entrance of sin.
In unfallen Adam we see man’s unblemished capacity to exercise lordship over the earth as God’s image-bearer. Adam’s dominion and cultural calling was both physical and spiritual. As a “king,” Adam stood as a representative of all of his descendants. As God’s appointed governor of creation, Adam’s obedience or disobedience would affect the moral direction of his descendants. Adam’s conduct under the probationary arrangement in the garden would also affect the direction of the physical creation.
With the entrance of sin came the forfeiture of Adam’s effortless kingship. The Fall shattered, but did not destroy man’s capacity as divine image-bearer. As men, our masculinity is related to Adam’s manhood, but our masculinity differs radically from Adam’s pre-fall experience of dominion. Adam’s descendants have a diminished masculinity---their strength has been weakened by the curse.
Since the Fall, man’s subduing of the earth is not carried out with the glory of God in view.
Fallen man faces toil, sweat and resistance in his labors (Gen 3:17-19). Man’s work motives have also been altered. The fall changed man’s heart -- he lost the motivation and sentiment to live for God’s glory. His power to carry out the physical aspect of the original Genesis mandate has been reduced, but not cancelled (Ps 8).
Man’s handiwork covers vast areas of the planet. With hands no larger than a saucer, men with the aid of their machines have built the sprawling metropolis, the supersonic rocket, the harbor filled with ships, and the burgeoning plantation.
Fallen man gladly embraces the physical aspects of the creation mandate – “be fruitful, rule, subdue.” Men have that desire to leave their mark, to make a difference, to carve out an empire however small. It is a masculine trait to seek to build something that will be a monument to one’s created kingship.
The desire to subdue the earth remains strong since the fall, but that desire has been sinfully distorted. Men subdue as a function of their independence from God. They do not dedicate their subduing to the Almighty. They use their subduing to feed their pride of life.
Man’s successes are contaminated by the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life (1 John 2:16). This triad of lusts constitutes the love of the world. In the post-flood era, the residents of ancient Shinar resisted God’s command---they refused to move out of the Fertile Crescent in order to fill the earth. Their population center was experiencing the benefits of city life. The division of labor meant that food, clothing and shelter were readily available.
Due to the conveniences of city life, the pursuit of the basic needs took up less and less of their time. With goods and services readily available, discretionary time increased. The need to survive was eclipsed by the craving to build the tower of Babel.
As Scripture indicates, the intent of the builders was, “Let us make for ourselves a name; lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth” (Genesis 11:4b). Their plan was to make a towering work of their hands the source of their unity and identity. God “cancelled” the building project through the confusion of languages. The unfinished tower stood as a monument to their sinful pride of life.
Today, that same spirit of pride manifests itself in a plethora of versions of, “let us make for ourselves a name.” Subduing, building and ruling are not dedicated to God. The Adamic mandate (evidenced in man’s subduing, ruling and building) has been appropriated for self. Man’s conquest of the earth is evident in places other than the jetliner, the skyscraper and the farm. The sports and entertainment industries also provide an insight into man’s nature as a subduer.
Man as “subduer” has a penchant for contests.
The pastimes of fallen men have evolved into contests that showcase strength, skill and agility. The sports industry features, the Athlete of the Year, the Cy Young Award, hockey’s Stanley Cup,but it doesn’t stop there---the penchant for being the best runs the gamete from pie eating to bass tournaments.
When civilizations no longer had to face the threats of starvation and the Mongol hoards, pastimes took up ever larger chunks of time. In America, when the last cavalry outpost came down, the first baseball stadium went up. Men no longer brought home a four point buck for the next month’s venison – meat was shrink-wrapped in the store. Instead of stalking his prey in the woods, the husband put on a tie and took the subway to the office.
Physical pastimes and contests provided an exciting diversion from the mundane activities of industrialism. (Agrarian cultures are tied closely to the land, while industrialism tends to push man toward ever greater urbanization. Athletic activities utilize many of the same skills demonstrated by hunters and warriors: speed, cunning, strength etc.)
Sports turned out to be an invention to showcase the abilities of the athlete. Spectators so closely identified with their favorite teams that at times umpires were pummeled senseless because they made a questionable call.
Why do the turnstiles of the stadiums and arenas generate so many billion of dollars per year? Why are these rituals, games and contests such a driving force among men? Why are we so driven to measure ourselves, compete with ourselves, prove ourselves, and rate ourselves? Why can’t men relate without some form of score-keeping? Why are we so ready to heap adulation on the latest athlete to make the front of the Wheaties cereal box?
For the answer we must look again at the first man. In a single day, Adam went from planetary king to dying, struggling steward. Adam’s weakened kingship is felt by every man. We carry Adam’s failure in our own persons. We have inherited his sin and weakness.
From our first father a legacy of fallen strength has been passed down to us; a scourge of weakness hangs over us. When we consider our desire to subdue, rule and be fruitful, we are secretly haunted concerning our fitness and adequacy for the task. Our universal neurosis as men is, “Shall we be weighed in the scales and found wanting?”
There is a connection between our wondering if we measure up and our penchant for measuring ourselves (2 Corinthians 10:12). When we see athletes of our gender who by discipline, training, courage, guts, teamwork, and skill, excelling in their sport, it shores up our deepest fears about male adequacy. We take great vicarious satisfaction in the victories of our city’s team. When they have a winning record, we claim them vocally as our own. When they are in the cellar, we disown them and cast aspersion on them.
We take great hope in the prospect that by discipline and exertion we also may conquer weakness and succeed. Everybody loves a winner – we are filled with admiration for them. They have overcome the obstacles that stood in the way of victory. We want to touch them, shake their hand, boast in them, burn incense before them. We revel in the glory of an Adamic representative who excels in his sport. The Olympiad who wears the Stars and Stripes and takes home a gold medal gives us an inner glow of pride.
“Politically correct” football will never sell tickets. There will never be a stadium built where teams take turns watching the other side score. In this fallen world, obstacles and opposition are necessary in order to reveal excellence. Without a contest, excellence can’t be seen. When watching a great performance on the athletic field, there is something inside us that wants to scream, “That’s my guy making that play!”
Not only was man created to subdue and rule over, he was also created to be an enthusiastic spectator of excellence.
Man was created to be an enthusiastic spectator of excellence. Sin has not removed the desire of man to applaud excellence. But sin has changed the object of man’s focus in searching for excellence. When man broke faith with God, his enthusiastic spectatorship went elsewhere. He no longer “cheered” the God who made the heavens, he worshipped and served the creation and the creature. Man was created to worship, and worship he must. He worships every day – if he is not worshipping the One true God, of necessity, by default of sin, he will be worshipping and serving the creation (Rom 1:25).
Man ceased to believe that the knowledge of God was the highest possible glory that he could experience (Jer. 9:23, 24). Humans chose to live for the glory of man instead of the glory of God (John 5:44; 12:43). (It is abundantly clear in Scripture that the works, wonders, and ways of God are more than sufficient to eternally captivate the heart of man. But, it is only salvation in Christ that can restore man’s capacity to glory in God’s excellence.
The believer tastes only a fraction of what he will in glory. In this life, when the Christian experiences times where he is lost in wonder, love and praise, it is but a foretaste of what is to come.)
The philosophies of this world promote the denial of Adam’s brokenness (Col 2:8).
The whole concept that man may recover his kingship by athleticism, wealth and influence is not new. It followed closely on the heels of Adam’s fall. From the beginning, sinful man has looked for a “mirror” to reflect back some rays of that unbroken Adamic virility. Deep within us is a veritable lust for the perfect adequacy and masculinity of our ancient first father. (After immense portions of the earth were subdued, man had to look elsewhere for venues to showcase his powers.)
Adam’s remarkable potential and capacity for planetary kingship is the “golden fleece” that eludes us. We’ve inherited a mandate for kingship, but by reason of the fall, a broken scepter as well.
The natural man searches for reassurances that his case is not terminal. False religion is the great “theater” for his self-deception. He entertains the optimism that his Adamic wound is not fatal. He comforts himself with the thought that he is not beyond the reach of self-improvement. (In effect, he is embracing a theology that says, “Adam’s wound is not my wound, Adam’s dereliction is not my dereliction, my deficits can be repaired. I will prove my adequacy.”)
Like the males of the Noah’s time, we are still drawn to the “men of renown” (Genesis 4:23,24; 6:4; 10:9 ).
The defiant speech given by Lamech in Genesis 4:23,24 could be taken from a comic book hero or a Hollywood movie. The principle behind it is timeless – “by an arm of flesh, I shall vindicate myself, vanquish my foes, and be the master of my fate.” Like Lamech of ancient times, modern men choose earthy, demonic ambition and bravado to deal with their dereliction. This is the “wisdom from below” spoken of by James (James 3:13-18).
We have our own Nimrods today who receive our esteem. Instead of a bow and a spear with a room full of hunting trophies, they drive red Ferraris. Their deeds of strength are witnessed by hosts of viewers by way of televised instant replays. The hunger of the spectator to applaud excellence generates their 30 million dollar sports contracts.
The principle is the same. We thrive upon the glory of our heroes, we feed upon the notion of men of renown. They give us the optimism that we may patch up Adam’s broken kingship. We can bask in the glory of heroes and believe (falsely) that the race is not in a state of ruin. History gives many versions of this theme. The Greeks had their ideal man; orators, philosopher kings, and Olympic athletes with near perfect bodies. The Romans had their military heroes, their gladiatorial victors, and their statues of gods who looked human.
The world’s method of “proving and recovering” Adamic strength is diametrically opposed to God’s plan in the cross of Christ.
The subduing that has been done since the fall of man is distorted and perverted by sin. Men build with a view to constructing monuments to their own strength, wealth, and cleverness. It’s the hard work done by the arm of flesh that receives the glory.
Men want to see Adam’s kingship restored by way of a hero---a philosopher king, an Olympiad, or a mighty warrior. We want a hero who reaches down inside, draws upon his power, and overcomes his owns weakness.
Here is one of the key reasons why the cross of Jesus is such a scandal to men. The cross is an offense because of its abject weakness. For in the spectacle of the cross, we see a victim perishing in weakness, shame, ignominy, and dereliction.
In the cross is the apparent triumph of evil over good – pacifism in the face of injustice and wickedness. Such ignominy scandalizes the human intellect (1 Cor. 1:18-25). The cross is not merely unappealing to human wisdom, it is repulsive to carnal reason.
The Apostle Paul reminded his Corinthian readers that the power of the message of the cross is stipulated upon a proclamation unadorned by human wisdom. Faithfulness in our preaching means that the offense of the cross must be retained in our message (1 Cor. 1:18, 23; 2:4, 5). The natural man cannot bear the message that Adam’s race is slated for demolition.
The cross of Christ is both the judgment upon Adamic ruin and the means of rescue from ruin.
The news is far too humbling that Adam’s progeny is beyond repair and renovation. So comprehensive is man’s ruin by sin, that an entire “re-creation,” or new creation is the only remedy that can avail (2 Cor 5:17).
The theology of the cross is repulsive to natural wisdom for the very reason that it cancels out the possibility of improvement of the Adamic nature. The cross condemns the Adamic nature, judges it, calls for its legal prosecution, and slays it at Calvary (Rom 6:1-11).
The descendants of Adam are yet looking for dynamic leaders who will “lift” the race to new heights. But in their looking, they passed by the Son of God; they crucified the Lord of Glory (1 Cor 2:8). He was the “stone” examined by the builders and found unfit to build upon. The builders “stumbled over” the very One appointed by God to recover Adam’s race from ruin (1 Pet 2:6-8).
In the incarnation, Christ assumed a weakened human nature.
When the Son of God began His public ministry, there was little about Him that made Him desirable by appearance (Is 53:2, 3). He did not exhibit the stately and mighty physical attributes of a Saul or a Nimrod.
In essence, He possessed no more of the Adamic exponents of strength than the average man.
Though He was God very God, He was born under the curse with a weakened human nature capable of exhaustion, suffering, and death. This is part of the paradox of the cross; that the Creator of the universe should come to earth as a human being physically weaker than unfallen Adam (2 Cor 13:4).
But here is God’s wisdom towering over the natural man’s intellect. Christ’s act of submission to Father, His voluntary obedience unto death, His willingness to undergo radical weakness and helplessness on Calvary, was the appointed means to deliver Adam’s race.
The thinking of the world is antagonistic to God’s way of recovering the descendants of Adam. Sovereign grace is too mortifying to Adamic pride. For in God’s gracious covenant, Christ assumes the sinner’s liabilities and meets the conditions necessary for reconciliation and divine favor.
The unbeliever is not ready to be brought so low. For the natural man, the world is a “playing field” to demonstrate the remnants of Adamic strength. At that very juncture, the theology of the cross collides head on with the world’s carnal wisdom. The work of Christ makes it clear that trust in human strength and striving cannot raise man out of his present state of ruin. The N.T. proclamation that “power is perfected in weakness” is anathema to the Adamic nature (2 Cor 12:9).
The cross of Christ stands as a monument to God’s justice. It declares that Adam’s race deserves to die. The cross admonishes all who dare to deny that Adam’s case is terminal.
All that God is now doing is through the Last Adam (Col 1:15-20).
No natural descendant of Adam shall reclaim his kingship by the use of the world. God in Christ has closed up and condemned that avenue. God has installed His Son as eternal King (Ps 2). Christ is the King of all creation (Col 1:16-18; Phil 2:9-11). His pathway to the throne was by way of obedience and submission to the Father. This is the only path to kingship that God recognizes. All that Adam lost, and more, is being restored through Christ’s obedience.
But the world is blinded to the truth of the gospel of Christ and to the cosmic implications of Christ’s reign as King (2 Cor 4:1-6). In their blinded state, the subduing done by sinners is contaminated by demonic ambition (James 3:14-16). Therefore, it cannot glorify God or advance His kingdom. All of the mighty accomplishments of men will be set ablaze in an instant (2 Pet 3:10). The subduing that is done under Adam’s headship is temporal and combustible. Its motive is too closely tied to the worship of the creature.
Only those who own Christ as their King have a restored kingship. Natural men are yet accountable stewards of the earth, but they are not kings in heaven’s sight. Only the redeemed comprise a nation of royal priests (Rev 1:6; 1 Pet 2:9).
Christ, as the Last Adam, is making a new order of men and women after His own likeness.
Though we labor under the curse and feel our weakness intensely, we who know the Savior are priests and kings before God (Rev 1:6). The elect constitute a new race with a new Head. Christ, our “Head,” is the Champion who has vanquished Satan and overcome the world. We as His people participate in the benefits of His mighty conquests.
Our chief work now is kingdom work. As those called of God, we have a higher priority than clearing brush and taming beasts. We are seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness (Matt 6:33). We are tearing down bastions and fortresses of error and lies. By means of His weapons, we, as His co-laborers, are advancing His kingdom (2 Cor 10:3-6).
We are building upon the foundation of the Last Adam. He has appointed us to bear fruit and have that fruit remain. Only these works which are done under the command of the Last Adam remain unto eternity (1 Cor 3:6-15).
Overcoming has replaced subduing as the first priority of the people of God (1 Jn 5:4, 5). The first Adam kept the garden and ruled over the works of God’s hands. Through the input of order and nurture, Adam encouraged the earth’s fruitfulness.
Now the people who are the seed of the Last Adam are bringing about spiritual order unto fruitfulness. By taking the light of the gospel into a darkened and sinful world, obedience to God is displacing the spiritual disorder of ignorance and rebellion. In such a way, the kingdom of God is advanced (Col 1:12-14).
Everything done by man that is temporary is done in the strength of the first Adam. Everything that is permanent is done in the strength of the Last Adam.
For the redeemed man, both present identity and future destiny are completely wrapped up in the Last Adam. The Christian looks at Christ to see what his own identity is. He looks at Christ in order to see what he is becoming. And he looks at Christ to see what he will be (see Heb 2:9, 10; Rom 8:29).
Jesus Christ is the “Architect” of the new man. He is the Author of the new man. God cannot possibly bless us any more than by making us like His Son in holiness and in incorruptibility. It is the height of grace to be made like Christ. It is to be eternally blissful. It is to gain the capacity to enjoy God perfectly. It is to be mighty in love and power.
On the side of our experience, tearing loose from the remnants of Adamic strength and passions is traumatic. C. S. Lewis likened the process to little soldiers of tin being slowly turned into living breathing entities of flesh and bone. “With every change that comes, that works true life in them, the little soldiers whine and whimper at the pain and discomfort.” The elect of God are predestined unto conformity to the Son of God (Eph 1:4). Though God has initiated the work of making us like the Son of God in holiness (Phil 1:6), we are not passive in the process. God commands us to put on the behaviors of the new man (Col 3:8ff.; Eph 4:22ff.).
The Last Adam is the source of the new man. Christ is the template, the contractor, the goal, and the fashioner of the new man (Col 3:10). He is the Author and finisher of our faith, but He is also the Forerunner. He paved the way for us so that someday we might be where He is now---dwelling in the very presence of God. In His glorified humanity, He is the model of what we will be in resurrection holiness and power (Heb 6:20; 1 Jn 3:2; Phil 3:21).
When we were spiritually dead in the first Adam, we blindly boasted of an adequacy and a completeness that flowed from ourselves. All of this has changed for those who are in the Last Adam. God’s work, the work that remains, God’s kingdom work cannot be done with the strength inherent in an arm of flesh. It cannot be accomplished by means of the wisdom with which we were born.
The new race created anew after the Last Adam is to understand that apart from Christ, they can “do nothing” (Jn 15:5). From the context in John 15 it may be asserted that the believer is utterly dependent upon Christ for the power necessary to bear spiritual fruit. We can do “nothing” by way of a spiritual work apart from organic union with Christ.
In Christ there is an entirely new source of personal adequacy.
Those who are of the first Adam live to prove their personal adequacy. For the new man in Christ, there is a looking away from self as the source of adequacy. Paul affirms God as the only source of adequacy for kingdom work, “Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant…” (2 Cor 3:5, 6a).
Utter dependency upon Christ, the Last Adam, is a principle that is in direct conflict with Adamic pride. The principle of the death to the Adamic man is the principle of the cross applied. It is a dynamic that is present in all true Christian ministry. Paul declares, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves…” (2 Cor 4:7).
The Apostle recognized that the pride of man is quick to glory in a person. God, in His wisdom, is able to emphasize the “earthen” nature of human flesh in order that all the glory might go to God and not to the messenger.
The “treasure” (the spiritual life and truth contained in the earthen vessel, God’s messenger) is solely from God. The problem is that men worship and serve the creature and the creation. In so doing they discount the unseen God of all power and instead esteem a sinful man who stands in front of them.
The cross judges all that we were in Adam in order that Christ may be all in all.
In order that God may receive all of the credit, says Paul, “[we are] always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be constantly manifested in our body” (2 Cor 4:10). Paul equated the value of his own suffering with the necessity of having “the life of Jesus manifested in his mortal flesh” (4:11). What a radical contrast this is from the Adamic tendency to glory in a super-hero.
The cross is continually applied to the saved descendant of Adam until death. The cross puts to death what we were in Adam. Paul looked to his “co-crucifixion” with Christ for the power to subdue sin (Gal 2:20; 5:24; Rom 6:6).
The cross is the source of the believer’s victory. It severs him from any legal attachment to Adam and it attaches him to Christ in an eternal, living, and fruitful union (Rom 6:5-9; 7;4). (Paul also attributed his severance from, or “crucifixion to the world,” to the power of the cross – Gal 6:14).
In Adam, we were always searching for completeness. Like a man running to and fro with a puzzle piece, we ransacked the world in an effort to find some combination of things that would complete us.
Before we were “crucified to the world,” we saw the world as our workshop. We exercised a misinformed optimism that the world could provide the source of our completeness. We typified the “earthy man” described by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:47, 48. The “earthy man” materialized all of his soul’s needs and took them to the offerings of “Vanity Fair” (“Vanity Fair” was Bunyan’s allegorical title in Pilgrim’s Progress for the lusts of this world.)
The new man has completeness by reason of his union with Christ.
The Christian has been crucified to the world as a source of completeness. The believer’s completeness is in Christ (Col 2:10). In Christ the saint is given a restored stewardship that is spiritual now, and someday, in the Messianic age, physical as well (Rev 2:26; 3:21). Because of completeness in Christ, the believer will someday participate in the liberation of all of creation from the bondage of corruption (Rom 8:18-25).
The new man is “constructed” around Christ. He does not have, nor will he ever have, a completeness that is autonomous from Christ. Adamic man makes a futile attempt to find that completeness by looking to himself and to the world. The new man will never lack completeness. Paul’s logic in 1 Corinthians 15 is flawless: The empty tomb proves that our “Man in heaven” will share His heavenly image with those who are in union with Him. “And just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly [man]” (1 Cor 15:49). (See Paul’s argument in 15:35-46. In establishing proof that there is a resurrection body for believers, Paul appeals to Christ’s glorified existence. Christ’s resurrection glory followed His mortal existence on earth. The same glorious change awaits believers.)
In this very context, Christ is referred to as the “last Adam.” Christ is the “second man.” As the last Adam, He is the “second” founder of a race of men -- spiritual men (1 Cor 15:47, 48). These “spiritual” men, by virtue of their completeness in Christ, will most assuredly bear the image of the Man who came from heaven (15:49, 50).
If the cross contains God’s verdict concerning the Adamic man, then the empty tomb speaks of God’s promise of glory for the new man. The cross puts the destinies of Adamic man and the new man into sharp contrast and bold relief. The man who exercises faith in God’s Word apprehends this contrast with ever-increasing clarity.
The godly man understands the times. He sees that we live in a culture that is dead set on making us forget the contrast. Our culture is enamored with what remains of Adam’s glory. Youthfulness, strength and beauty are worshipped in our land. The media woos the next generation of youth by selling the promise of Adamic prowess. From Barbies to Masters of the Universe, it is the gilding of Adamic exponents.
Muscle-bound action figures fill the shelves of toy stores. These plastic Nimrods give our youngsters what they crave; the fantasy of possessing perfect adequacy. King Saul of ancient Israel was head and shoulders above his countrymen. He was a courageous warrior and a handsome leader. But God brought the people’s choice (Saul) into bold contrast with His choice in a king.
David was God’s choice. He did not possess the Adamic exponents of Saul, but David was a man after God’s own heart. Like David, the new man has a passion for God’s glory. As Christian men, can we follow Christ as His disciples and be captivated by Adamic exploits at the same time? If we attempt to do both, we will cast a cloud over the hope of glory that is to animate our affections.
We will fall short of Paul’s single focus to answer the upward call (Phil 3:14). Let us pursue a united heart and follow the Apostle’s example. Paul saw the destiny of the new man so clearly that he did not resent the “tarnishing” of what remained of the Adamic man in him, “Therefore we do not lose heart, though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day” (2 Cor 4:16; Rom 8:10).
This present age assaults us with the Adamic value system – a system that espouses personal adequacy by the use of world. With that corrupt value system comes the concealment of the fact that the first Adam’s act of disobedience inaugurated the reign of sin and death (Rom 5:17-21). Let us remember that because of Christ’s act of obedience, we have been made righteous, we have been brought into the sphere of abounding grace (Rom 5:18-20).
Our pride centers around the Adamic man and his capacity. Let us hold fast enough to Christ that we might release that pride and make Paul’s formula our own. “When I am weak [in myself], then I am strong [in Christ].”
Because of the last Adam’s act of obedience, we are presently priests and kings “in training.” The consummation will come about after our brief journey. Christ’s resurrection is the warranty of the new man’s future existence.
As we strive to remain upon the narrow path for one more week, let us look up by faith at our Man in glory and contemplate the destiny of the new man (Heb 2:5-9ff.).
As a relatively young believer in my late twenties, I pulled a title of the shelf in a Boston bookstore. The Title read, Creative Aggression, Why Nice Guys Finish Sick. The second line really stuck in my craw. The book was graphically addressing passivity in men.
Though the work was of a secular origin, I found that page after page convicted and pierced me concerning my passivity in relationships. After a thorough reading, I set the book down, recalling the countless times I had swallowed back my convictions and played the part of a chameleon for the sake of “harmony.”
God used that little book from the Boston store to drive me back into the Word with a renewed mission. The realization that God had called me and appointed me to speak the truth in love burst on my consciousness. I could no longer escape the fact that as a child of God, the Lord had issued me the Sword of Truth. In the past, I had been too willing to abdicate that responsibility of speaking God’s truth whenever risk of offense was involved.
It’s Impossible to be a Man of God and at the same time have a Casual Relationship to God’s Truth (Joshua 1:8).
Now the divine mandate, for men especially, to speak God’s truth became undeniably clear. In passages such as Deuteronomy 6 and Psalm 78, it was evident that the role of the believing man is that of a perpetual “truth speaker.” Sadly in countless Christian homes, this God-given mandate of speaking God’s truth is ignored and relegated to the job of the pastor.
In Christ, our spiritual manhood is restored so that we function as a prophet (teacher), a priest (intercessor), and a king (protector). This three-fold role for the man can only be fulfilled if he majors in God’s truth. For the godly man teaches, intercedes, and protects by means of divine truth.
When the truth, backed up by a godly life, is ministered, it heals, feeds, corrects, equips, preserves, builds up, and establishes the listener. The godly man understands that the spiritual state of those in his sphere depends upon his willingness to speak God’s truth. He must come to the point where he can tell himself, “I am not loving these people around me properly unless I am willing to speak God’s truth to them!”
When we examine the example of the O.T. Prophets and the example of Jesus and the Apostles, it is obvious that their truth speaking was pointed – it was not general, but filled with penetrating application for their listeners. It is at this juncture that our courage is most likely to fail. We fear being the “heavy,” a meddler, or regarded as judgmental, or “holier than thou.”
What enabled men like Elihu, Elijah, Daniel, and Phinehas to fearlessly speak the truth when they were a minority of one? The answer lies in their zeal for God’s honor and glory. They knew that all of history is but a record of the honoring and dishonoring of God, and that only those who honor God will ultimately stand (1 Sam 2:30).
The man who is willing to risk misunderstanding and rejection for the sake of the truth also knows that the proclamation of God’s truth always involves a crossroads, or turning point. God commands repentance from those who hear His truth. There must be ongoing repentance through which our affections and will are repeatedly conformed to God’s truth. The progress and spiritual well-being of ourselves and our listeners are bound up in ongoing repentance. The better we understand this, the more willing we will be to speak God’s truth without fear.
In order for a man to excel at speaking the truth, he must be accomplished at using the Sword of Truth on himself (1 Tim 4:15, 16).
Men who can wield the Sword of Truth are animated by God’s truth – they desire God’s truth in their innermost being (Ps 51:6). The godly man rejects the notion that truth for the believer need not rise above mental assent. God’s truth has no power over a person unless the truth is loved (see The Religious Affections, by Jonathan Edwards).
Where God’s truth is loved, it will be central in our conversations (Zech 8:16; Mal 3:16; Deut 6:4-9; 11:18 19). Only when God’s truth is loved can it dominate exceptionally in our lives so as to renew us and transform us (Rom 12:1, 2). The man of God ultimately can only preach with conviction what he has first preached to his own heart. He can only call for repentance only where the truth has produced repentance in his own life.
Truth in the Inner Man Equips the Man to Speak (Ps 145).
What must be uttered from the mountain tops must begin in the heart. We could refer to this as theprinciple of the enlarged sphere. There is a logical progression in the enlargement of a man’s sphere of spiritual influence. Each step of progression is stipulated on faithfulness in the previous step: 1.) The godly man speaks truth in his own heart. He loves the truth in the inner man. He applies the truth to himself in ongoing repentance. 2.) The man of God speaks truth in his home; he faithfully fulfills his role of prophet, priest, and king. 3.) The spiritual man speaks truth in the Body of Christ. He exercises his gifts for the edification of the body. He is able to admonish his fellow believer (Rom 15:14). 4.) He speaks the truth of the Gospel with boldness to a lost and dying generation.
Power in evangelism must be built upon the principle of the enlarged sphere. For each step not only prepares a man for the next step, but reveals the man’s own relationship to the truth.
The Godly Man will not have “Conflict Avoidance” as his Controlling Motive (2 Tim 3:12).
“Jesus promised those who would follow Him only three things. . .that they would be absurdly happy, entirely fearless, and always in trouble” (Gregg Levoy).
How can a Christian man develop enough courage and boldness to stand upon, and speak his convictions without fear of consequences? An important part of the answer to this question deals with an inescapable reality taught in Scripture -- the godly man will be misunderstood. It is par for the course. It follows therefore that progress in our journey toward godly courage is bound up in accepting the reality that we will face misunderstanding and rejection because of the truth.
The Scriptures make it clear that all those who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (2 Tim 3:12). Jesus prepared His followers for persecution by imbuing them with the fact that they should expect the same mistreatment that He experienced (Jn 15:18-16:4). (Though we live in a land that protects the rights of believers, obedient Christians who stand in the truth will frequently experience rejection, ostracism, and discrimination. Our perspective amidst mistreatment must embrace the following truth. It is an inestimable privilege to have the antipathy meant for Christ fall upon us – John 7:7; Acts 5:41; Col 1:24).
The fear of man brings a snare (Prov 29:25).
The fear of God and the fear of man have always been, not only incompatible, but inversely proportional to one another. The greater fear of God a man has, the less he will fear men. When by God’s grace a man answers the call of true discipleship, his fear of man will be overtaken and ultimately consumed by the fear of God.
During His earthly ministry, Jesus faced “wanna be” followers who remained in bondage to the fear of man. John 12:42, 43 provides an authoritative record of these double minded individuals.“Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God.”
Some might be quick to excuse the desire for human approval as simply a natural tendency in men that is not a serious sin. Jesus places this illicit craving under the spotlight in John 5:44. In this passage He warns that the fear of man is so serious, it can keep a person from living to the glory of God. “How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another, and do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God?”
Again, lest we excuse this sin, let us remember that Jesus reserved one of His “Woes” for the sin of man-pleasing. “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for in the same way their fathers used to treat the false prophets” (Luke 6:26).
Jesus puts this issue into sharp relief – if we live for the praise and approval of men, we are not living for the glory of God.
APPLICATION: We must repent of our “addiction” to the approval of men. We must admit to God that we have placed the praise of men above the approval of our Heavenly Father. We need to confess that our narcissistic desire to be liked by all has often stolen our courage to speak the truth in love.
The Greater our Ambition to Please Christ, the more Courage we will have (2 Cor 5:9).
The ambition to please our Lord is filled with the eschatological hope of favorably greeting Him at His imminent return. Courage is a byproduct of living to please Christ. When Christ’s approval towers over all other sources of approval, courage becomes second nature.
Those who live to please Christ have the judgment seat of Christ etched on their consciousness (2 Cor 5:9, 10). In essence, living to please Christ is a measure of our fear of God.
Those who live for Christ’s approval are continually weighing the glory to come against temporal losses (2 Cor 4:17, 18). As a consequence, their value system is constantly adjusted to heaven’s standard.
This fact alone enables us to see how impotent our fellow creatures are when they attempt to rightly appraise us (1 Cor 4:3, 4). Spurgeon hit the bull’s eye when he said, “Compared to what my heavenly Father thinks of me, the opinions of men are like so many chirping sparrows.”
APPLICATION: The one we strive most to please will necessarily be our primary evaluator. In other words, the one we seek to please will always wind up evaluating our efforts at pleasing them. In effect, we are somewhat suspended upon their approval or disapproval of us.
God has an incredibly liberating solution to this problem. Not only are we to make sure that all we do is in done in love (1 Cor 16:14), but we are to do all to the glory of God (1 Cor 10:31). Paul argues that our pleasing of men must spring from the goal not of seeking our own profit, but from the motive of seeking the other person’s eternal welfare (1 Cor 10:32, 33). This perspective places all of our relationships under the eye of Christ’s scrutiny. The point is we are most free and obedient when our actions are “as for the Lord rather than for men” (Col 3:22-24).
The more we regard Christ to be our “Source Person,” the more Courage we will have.
The more our hope and expectations are consolidated in Christ, the more we will be delivered from the fear and worship of the creature. The love and approval of men is incredibly fickle. Christ alone loves us with immutable love. Frequently the love shown by our fellows seldom rises above self interest. Most commonly, the love of the creature is not a supernatural love that is mediated by Christ. Instead it is a natural love that goes no higher than the perceived virtue of its object. Our fellow creatures cannot answer our deepest needs.
Fellow sinners do not carry our worth, security, and dignity. When we mistakenly assume they do, our courage dries up. Christ alone is our “Source Person.” He alone deserves to be regarded as the unfailing channel of every resource we need. By union with Him, we have a status before God of favor, righteousness, security, and sonship (1 Cor 1:30).
Our Lord is a jealous lover, when we attribute too much ability to the creature to serve as a source to us, God may allow us to experience deep disappointment. At times the Lord even orchestrates our disillusionment that we might understand that He alone is Source. We can all recall times in which the nurture, praise, and resources heaped upon us by a fellow creature proved in the end to flow from mercenary motives.
APPLICATION: Paul asserts that Christ is the believer’s life (Gal 2:20; Col 3:4). To the degree that we cast our entire lot in with Christ so that He is regarded as the entire support of the soul we will have courage. If our persons are propped up upon corruptible, mutable supports, we will lack courage. When our well being is leveraged upon the creature, we shy away from taking the risk of boldly declaring the truth of God’s Word.
Courage is the result of habitual dependency upon the Lord. The less dependent I am upon the creature, the more courage I will have to speak the truth to my fellow man. (EXAMPLE: Daniel was ostensibly dependent upon Belshazzar for employment and political freedom. Yet due to Daniel’s conviction that God was the sole, sovereign source of his care, provision, and protection, the prophet was not afraid to rebuke the monarch to his face (Dan 5:22, 23).
The More Reverence we have for God Entrusting us with His Word, the Greater our Courage will be to Speak it (Jer 23:28, 29).
God has made us His ambassadors. Knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men (2 Cor 5:11). The Apostle Paul saw his role as a proclaimer of the Word of God to be a sacred trust that carried massive accountability. What is striking about Paul’s testimony in Acts 20 is that his faithfulness was joined to the fact that he was never mute when God required him to speak the Word.“Therefore I testify to you this day, that I am innocent of the blood of all men. For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God” (Acts 20:26, 27).
Man’s need is beyond human agency. As redeemed men, we carry in our hearts and hands the divine solution to man’s ruinous problem. We are armed with the living and abiding Word of God (Heb 4:12).
Paul solemnly charged Timothy in the presence of God to “Preach the Word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction” (2 Tim 4:1, 2).
Timothy was to see his task of proclaiming the Word as nothing less than the very means of insuring the salvation of his listeners (1 Tim 4:16). Paul repeatedly warned Timothy against the error of allowing timidity and neglect to interfere with his sacred charge of teaching, preaching, and exhorting.
APPLICATION: As Christian men we have been entrusted by God with His almighty, living, sword of truth. We’ve seen from Paul’s letters to Timothy that this sword of truth must not be allowed to remain unused like a stainless steel blade stuck in a rusty scabbard. Those in our sphere; family, neighbors, co-workers, friends, are in need of hearing the Word of truth from us. As with Timothy’s congregation, God has strategically placed us in a position to speak the truth to those around us. The means God intends to use in their salvation and sanctification is tied to our faithfulness in speaking the Word with courage.
When considering how God had entrusted him with the Gospel, Paul saw himself as a debtor to both Jews and Greeks (Rom 1:14). This same principle of obligation applies to us. The Lord has called us to skillfully and courageously use the “sword” issued to us in order to encourage, reprove, exhort, instruct, equip and admonish. It will take courage to swing the sword in each of these arcs and orbs of application, but God expects nothing less from us as Christian men.
The more highly we Esteem our Justification in Christ, the more Courage we will have to speak the Word.
Salvation involves “moral trust” in God. Saving faith involves the consent to cast the whole welfare of the soul upon Christ that He might be our hiding place, Protector, and Deliverer.
To the degree that we make it a habit to look to Christ for our status, security, favor, and acceptance, our penchant for self-righteousness will be mortified. By these daily, fresh acts of faith toward our Savior, we affirm that all of our eligibility before God for blessing is carried by Christ. All “future grace,” and every future installment of divine blessing and kindness have all been secured for us by our Savior’s Person and work.
Like the Publican who saw his only hope to be God’s mercy, the man who treasures his justification in Christ will define himself primarily as an object of divine compassion. This mindset has a powerful impact upon our work and service.
APPLICATION: Since our lower natures always tend to pull us in the direction of legal working and performance, we need a daily diet of the Gospel to remind us that our status, favor, acceptance, and security are all carried by Christ. Our labor, our fruit-bearing, and even our integrity must be to the glory of Christ, not ourselves. He must have all the credit, for we are His workmanship (Eph 2:10).
When we drift away from overflowing gratitude for our justification in Christ, we will slide imperceptibly onto the foundation of our own performance. If we keep moving in that direction, we will find ourselves burning incense to our own achievements. A legal motive will raise its specter, deepening our craving for the approbation of men. When beholden to men for the praise of our works, we will lack courage. When utterly beholden to Christ who carries our justification, we will be liberated unto the exercise of courage for the good of our neighbor.
The Clear Conscience of the Man who Abides in Christ will show itself in Courage (Acts 24:15, 16).
We cannot make a penetrating application of God’s Word to those around us unless we ourselves welcome examination by God’s Word. Courage in speaking the Word is dependent upon a clear conscience before God and men (Acts 24:15, 16). Even one sin or lust “banging around” in the conscience is enough to dull the edge of our courage. Timothy’s success in proclaiming the Word with courage depended upon his maintaining a clear conscience (1 Tim 1:5, 19; 3:9).
God’s answer to our fear and weakness is found in the mandate to abide in Christ. “But if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
In order for us to exercise courage, the blood of the Son of God must be the loudest voice in our conscience. In order for God’s justice at the cross to be believed and reckoned so as to silence the Accuser, we must habitually be mortifying sin by the power of the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:12-14).
APPLICATION: The same man who turned coward when questioned by a servant girl preached the Pentecost sermon less than two months later. The Apostle Peter’s radical move from fear to courage, according to the book of Acts, was the result of two factors. First, he had been with Jesus. “Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John, and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were marveling, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). Second, Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit. “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, ‘Rulers and elders of the people. . .’” (Acts 4:8).
In the final analysis, God is the source of our courage. We are to allow our hearts to take courage(Ps 27:14; 31:24). The ability to act in courage is a function of waiting on the Lord. Faith’s object is the goodness of the Lord and the confident expectation that He will preserve the faithful, and empower them to bear witness to the truth (Jn 15:26, 27).
Those around us need our courage in speaking the Word of God. It was a penitent King David who prayed, “Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation, and sustain me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Thy ways, and sinners will be converted to Thee” (Ps 51:11, 12).
The next generation is depending upon our courage. They are waiting for our faithfulness. They will not put their confidence in God unless they see the faith of their fathers and hear from their dads the joy of God, the works of God, and commands of God (Ps 78:3-8).
A. The doctrine of the Trinity has profound implications for all reality, and for all social relations.
1. To defend the family against state agendas, we need to make a case that only the biblical drama of Creation, Fall, Redemption gives a realistic; yet humane account of human nature and of the structure and purpose of the family in society.
Along with the tendency of state-ism, is its companion ideology of reducing all social relationships to individual choice. When one denies Creation; divine creation structures that govern our relationships are attacked as well. Relationships become ‘social contracts’ made out of convenience and preference. In Ted Peter’s book, For the Love of Children, he suggests that each parent be required to make a legal contract with his or her children. His proposal is intended to shift from the biological family to choice. This would turn the family into a collection of disconnected, atomistic individuals, bound by no attachments or obligations they do not choose for themselves. This is called ontological individualism. It is based on the idea that individuals are the only reality. Relationships are therefore not ultimate—only derivative; created by individual choice (social contract theory suggests that ALL social relationships are a matter of personal choice).
2. The family is caught in a ‘tug-o-war’ between state-ism and individualism. The Holy Trinity provides the divine basis all for social relations. The human race was created in the image of God (who is three Persons so intimately related as to constitute one Godhead). The balance of unity and diversity in the Trinity gives a model for human social life BECAUSE the Trinity implies that both individuality and relationship exist within the Godhead. God is “Being-in-communion” (Nancy Pearcey, Total Truth, p. 132).
‘Ethics’ divorced from God become vices. Consider examples from Western society which have already been legislated, or are about to be legislated: gay rights (same sex marriage); abortion (the ‘right’ to kill one’s unborn child); hate speech is to speak against homosexuality.
3. The age old tension has been between collectivism (often expressed as state-ism) and individualism. The Trinity is the solution to this tension because the Trinity implies not only unity; but the dignity and uniqueness of the individual. Over against radical individualism; the Trinity implies that relationships are not created by sheer choice but are built into the very essence of human nature that is made in the image of God (who is in communion). We are not atomistic individuals but created for relationships (ibid. p. 132).
4. The Trinity has repercussions not only for all social relations (especially the family) but also for every other discipline. In philosophy the Trinity provides the solution to the question of the one and the many. Since the ancient Greeks, philosophers have asked, does ultimate reality consist of a single being (as in pantheism); or in disconnected particulars (as in atomism)? The two views are played out politically in the two extremes of totalitarianism versus anarchy.
5. Trinitarian Christian worldview is only coherent basis for social theory. The Trinity as the foundation of human sociality is not merely theoretical. In redemption, believers are called to form an actual society—the Church—that demonstrates to the world the balanced interplay between the one and the many; of unity and individuality. In John 17:11, Jesus is saying that the communion of Persons within the Trinity is the model for communion within the Church. It teaches us how to foster richly diverse individuality within ontologically real relationships. Timothy Ware notes, “The Church as a whole is an icon of God the Trinity, reproducing on earth the mystery of unity in diversity” (ibid. p. 133). (Note that the regenerate are literally equipped by God for true community – they are indwelt by God’s Spirit and have His enabling power; they have communion with God; and they have His infallible Word – 1 Pet 1:22, 23). Humans (redeemed) are called upon to reproduce on earth the mystery of mutual love that the Trinity lives in heaven (ibid. pp. 133, 134).
6. The following section on biblical manhood and womanhood is adapted from a course (by that title) taught by Wayne Grudem visiting lecturer at The Master’s Seminary. Gender roles and sexuality have become the focal point in the battle of worldviews. At this ‘ground zero’ battle zone, the forces of secular humanism and feminism have sought to relativize all the ethical mandates of Scripture; especially those which apply to marriage; family; sacredness of life; sacredness of sexual relations; and gender roles. The Trinity is the foundation for male and female being equal in dignity and value; yet having different roles. Relations within the Trinity and relations within marriage have a parallel. Communal relations involve listening, deferring, and trusting. There is headship resident in one of the members. There is a difference in roles; yet equality. The Trinity is the model for headship and submission. The difference in roles within the Trinity will continue for all eternity (1 Cor 15:28). Because of diversity with perfect equality; the Trinity forms the pattern for relationships without inferiority.
The Trinity as unity and diversity) in the Godhead is the model for human social life. (note the unity and diversity in the ‘body’ metaphor in 1 Cor 12; Eph 4; Phil 2; and Col 3). Our defense against radical individualism is as follows: the Trinity implies that relationships are NOT created by sheer choice; but are built into the very essence of human nature that is made in the image of God. Our relationships are designed by God to express the character of our Creator. What is tragic is that the doctrine of the economic Trinity is a threat to the egalitarianism of the Evangelical feminists. As a consequence E.F. writers have penned articles which are modalistic in nature; suggesting that blasphemous notion that any member of the Trinity could have been incarnated as the Son of God! By working in this manner, they show that their feminism is not a peripheral issue; but is hostile to the doctrine of God. When they insist that roles are anchored in capacity; and not gender; they are severing their view of relationships from the Trinity. The Scriptures teach that the roles within the economic Trinity are eternal.
7. (Grudem continued). The differences in male female roles in marriage are part of the created order. See Gen 2 (Adam naming); Gen 3 (Adam responsible for representing the human race); 1 Cor 11:9 (created purpose); 1 Tim 2:13 (order and source of creation). The real issue in gender role is God’s reflected glory on earth. The complementarian view alone preserves the reflected glory of our Triune God in male female relationships (the complementarian view states that in Scripture God has revealed His specific pattern and plan for gender roles).
8. (The following summary is from Building a Christian Worldview, Andrew Hoffecker, Ed.) Each Person in the Trinity eternally and equally possesses the whole substance of the Godhead; yet each is distinct from the others. The members of the Trinity differ from one another by the relations in which they stand to each other. Each has absolute personality. The Son is the self-reproduction of the Father (Heb 1:1-3; 5) of whom He is eternally begotten. The Holy Spirit is the reproduction of the Father and the Son; and the Spirit proceeds from both (Jn 14:16, 17, 26; 16:7) (pp. 86, 87). Christ unifies all reality. Christ does what the Greek philosophers could not do; He unifies all reality. He links visible and invisible reality; He reconciles singularity and plurality He gives harmony, unity, and order to the cosmos. The Son connects the realms of being (permanence) and becoming (change). The Trinity provides the vision for seeking unity among mankind. Plato could not unite the visible and the invisible; the transcendent and the immanent (pp. 88, 95).
9. (From Apologetics, by Cornelius Van Til.) Man made for himself a false ideal of knowledge. It is totally inconsistent with the idea of creatureliness that man should strive for comprehensive knowledge; if it could be obtained it would wipe God out of existence and man would then be God. When man seeks to be his own ultimate reference point; man virtually occupies the place which the ontological Trinity occupies in orthodox theology (p. 10, 11). The ontological Trinity is the foundation concept of a Christian theory of being, of knowledge, and of action. This is the God in whom men must believe lest all meaning should disappear from human words. Apart from the God of Christianity, all possible human predication is non-existent (p.12, 13).
10. (The following is from Apologetics to the Glory of God, by John Frame.) The importance of the Trinity to apologetics is immense: Anti-Trinitarianism always leads to a “wholly other” God, rather than a God who is transcendent in the biblical sense. Paradoxically, it also leads to a God who is relative to the world rather than sovereign Lord of Scripture (a “blank” God without absolute personality). It makes Creator-creature distinction a matter of degree, rather than difference in being. Because of the Trinity (both three and one), God can be described in personalistic terms without being made relative to the world. The Trinity answers philosophy’s religious quest, namely, “Why is there is no absolute unity (devoid of plurality), nor absolute plurality (devoid of unity)?” (pp. 47-49).
The Unitarian god is unknowable (blank oneness or utter uniqueness). The God of Scripture is the only absolute, and that absolute is the one and the many. The Trinity has implications for epistemology. God the Lord interprets everything definitively – so when we want to know something, we must think His thoughts after Him. God is the author/origin of truth, the supreme authority for knowledge. Authority is part of His lordship – He has the right to tell us what to believe. When sinners try to gain knowledge without fear of the Lord, that knowledge is distorted. The sinner may express many facts accurately in a context smaller than worldview. But his worldview is twisted and unreliable. His most serious epistemological mistake is to assert his own autonomous reason (that is self) as the final standard of truth and right (John Frame, pp. 50, 51).
The conventional wisdom, with its impersonalism, cannot do justice to moral values. The world’s wisdom cannot account for the trustworthiness of reason. This inability corrupts impersonalist ideas in every field of human thought: science, philosophy, psychology, sociology, the arts, economics, business, government. It corrupts practical living – after all, in a chance universe why choose moral right instead of self? If we are to go on the offensive against unbelief, we must know more about unbelief from a Biblical viewpoint. The unbeliever attempts to think and live as if the absolute personal God of Scripture does not exist (pp. 191-193).
11. (The following is from a lecture by John Gerstner, The Work of the Trinity in Man’s Redemption.) There is an infinite difference between the ontological Trinity and bare monotheism. We teach that the very nature of God exists in one substance and in three Persons. The tri-personal, or Trinitarian doctrine of God is the only possible monotheism. The way in which ‘monotheism’ is used in the academy is not really describing the God of Scripture; why? BECAUSE there is no such God as a God who is mono-personal (only one person)! Islam and Judaism are committed to the proposition that God is mono-personal (Note the terminology used by the religious leaders who rejected Christ’s divinity – Jn 5:18; 10:33.). So called, ‘monotheists’ are only worshipping the figment of their imagination (in reality they are atheists or idolaters). Christians are the only true worshippers of God on the face of the earth (Judaism is a religious organization based upon the common rejection of Christ’s deity and Messiahship.)
(Gerstner continued.) The ontological Trinity refers to God as three Persons, one substance, equal in power and glory. The economic Trinity refers to God in respect to His relation to us; especially redemption. We must understand the ontological Trinity in order to understand the economic Trinity. Only 20% of professing Christendom believes in the redemptive work of all three members of the economic Trinity: the Father allocating redemption; the Son accomplishing redemption; the Holy Spirit applying redemption. (The other 80% plus of Christendom still places their hope in the sacraments—namely that the sacraments constitute the application of salvation.)
B. Are moral requirements an imposition on our freedom; or are they the expression of our true nature?
1. The ideas of Jean-Jacques Rousseau inspired many of the ‘butchers’ of the 20thCentury. If you grasp Rousseau’s thinking; you will understand much of the modern world. Rousseau described what he designated a “pre-social” condition or “state of nature.” In this ‘pre-social’ condition, all social relations are not real; but choices. He envisioned man in a state of nature stripped of all social relationships, morals, laws, customs, traditions—civilization itself. All that exists are disconnected autonomous individuals whose sole driving force is desire for self motivation. Rousseau’s view of society is that it is oppressive, confining, contrary to our nature (p. 138).
2. For Rousseau, what was oppressing man’s natural freedom was the ‘chains’ of relationships such as marriage, family, church, and workplace. His line of thought represented a radical break from the traditional Christian social theory which regards the Trinity as the model for social life (in Genesis, the original man in nature was blessed with the institution of marriage). The implications of the doctrine of the Trinity is that relationships are just as real and ultimate as individuals. Relationships are part of the created order; thus ontologically good and real. The moral requirements they make upon us are not impositions on our freedom; but expressions of what it means to be human (our true nature). Participating in institutions of family, church, state, and society are part of the Christian’s development of moral virtues that prepare us ultimately to be citizens of the heavenly city (p. 138).
3. Rousseau spelled out a vision in which the state would destroy all social ties; the individual would only have to be loyal to self; since the state was the ‘liberator’, each person would be dependent upon the state (no wonder this inspired so many totalitarian regimes). Thomas Hobbes and John Locke proposed the concept as well (each of these three men wrote before Darwin’s time). Darwin’s creation myth would someday supply the theory that would give credence to the idea of the indeterminate, ‘happy’ beast; namely prehistoric; or early man. These pre-Darwin thinkers suggested that the reason social relationships are bad is because they interfere with the individual’s ‘freedom’ to create himself. Relationships that are not the product of choice are oppressive (biological bonds of family, moral bonds of marriage, spiritual bonds of the church). The only bond which retains autonomous freedom then is the social contract (traditional social ties would be dissolved and then reconstituted on the basis of choice). (pp. 138-140).
C. Every worldview based on faulty views of Creation; the Fall; and Redemption, will ultimately be hostile to true freedom (and instigate rebellion against God). Why was the 20th Century the bloodiest in history? Answer: Whole cultures adopted worldviews based upon faulty definitions of Creation; Fall; and Redemption. The autonomous individual with his false view of freedom is actually the most vulnerable to totalitarian control. Students today who have never read Locke can parrot the atomistic notion of social contract; they have bought into the liberal idea of the ‘unencumbered self’ (marriage, family, and church may be ties they have not ‘chosen’). The core of personhood is our ability to choose our own identity—to create ourselves. This is why relationships and responsibilities are often considered hostile to essential identity (pp. 140, 141).
D. The exchange of the truth about God for a lie has opened the floodgates of immorality (Rom 1:24-32).
The influence of the social contract philosophers is widespread today. We have runaway co-habitation. Marriage among today’s single culture is seen as too risky; not worth giving up their autonomy. Thanks to Sanger, Kinsey, and others, pornography is no longer degrading smut; sexual license is viewed as our ultimate identity and key to personal development. Therefore the ‘moralists’ who teach abstinence, self-denial, suppression, (and fidelity) are exposing their listeners to all sorts of dysfunctions says Sanger. Sexual liberation has become a ‘moral’ crusade with Christian morality as the enemy! Sexual gratification has become a complete ideology with all the elements of worldview (pp. 142-146).
E. Creation is foundational; all hope of unified truth stands or falls with origins. The grid of Creation, Fall, and Redemption provides a powerful tool for comparing and contrasting worldviews. It also explains why biblical creationism is under such relentless attack today. Creation is foundational; it shapes everything that follows. Critics of Christianity know that it stands or falls with the Bible’s teaching of ultimate origins.
Factors that have shaped today’s spiritual climate:
The loss of biblical cosmology
Our youth have grown up in a society that has lost its grasp of biblical cosmology. Cosmology is that branch of philosophy which deals with the origin and structure of the universe. At the heart of biblical cosmology is the Creator-creature distinction. Biblical cosmology includes the creation of male and female as the image of God (with the sub-themes of the dominion mandate; and biblical anthropology).
Central to biblical cosmology is that God is Creator and ‘Definer’ of what He has made. As Creator He gives designations, definitions, categories and relations of what He has made.[i] God’s defining role over His creation has established the creation structures of male and female and marriage and family. These creation structures are foundational and ontologically real—they are at the core of your being (which is why social contract theory, sexual perversion, and abortion constitute a radical overturning of biblical cosmology).[ii]
The absolute truth of cosmology is essential in interpreting the universe.[iii] God’s relation to the creation is the ordering principle of the universe and of reality. Because God is the sustainer and definer of all that He has made; there is no such thing as a reality greater than God—or a reality in which God is but a component (note this error in deism and pantheism).
Thus, biblical cosmology is the sole vantage point ‘high enough’ to provide the foundation for a unified cohesive worldview (the alternate is pluralism, diversity, and hopelessly fragmented knowledge). Cosmology alone provides a wide angle lens broad enough to see man’s place in the universe. Biblical cosmology is a totally unified ordering principle—without it, worldview has no foundation.
Consequently biblical cosmology is the foundation of the gospel—for the gospel only makes sense in a world in which our omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God is Creator, Owner, Upholder, Lawmaker, Ruler, Redeemer, and Judge. The gospel has no point of contact in a world in which pagan cosmology has replaced biblical cosmology. This is why there is an increasingly desperate need to define categories as God does—that He is Ruler, Sustainer, Owner of His creation—and that the designations and definitions He has made concerning His creation are absolutely essential for accurately interpreting reality.
God has authoritatively set forth His ‘blueprint’ for His creation. His blueprint, found in His Word, is not only our moral map; but also our ‘metaphysic.’ In other words, God’s relation to what He has made is our fixed point of reference which provides our understanding of the nature of reality (Ps 96). Only by what God has said in His infallible Word do we know what is true, real, right and wrong.[iv]
The pervasive influence of Darwinian Theory
Darwinian Theory has had a central role in removing biblical cosmology from the American mind. Young people brought up on evolutionary theory in the classroom have been taught that death, disease, pain, and suffering have always been part of life. This has a ‘killing’ effect on cosmology; for it sends the message that the only way God could make things was by the cruel forces of billions of years of evolution.
Harvard Anthropologist Irven De Vore captures the same thought, “I personally cannot discern a shred of evidence for a benign cosmic presence . . . I see indifference and capriciousness. What kind of god would work with a 99.9 percent extinction rate?” De Vore’s point is hard to miss—what kind of character would a god possess if he created such a scenario? “How could a God of love allow such horrible processes as disease, death, and suffering for millions of years?”[v]
Ken Ham notes that the god who uses death and suffering as part of the creation process is a cruel god and not the God of Scripture. Scripture makes it clear that death is not part of the creative process; death is the penalty for sin (1 Cor 15:26). Evolutionary theory redefines death as a driving force in the creative process.[vi]
Today’s youth have been robbed of an education in biblical cosmology. As a result, when they watch a nature program, “They look at the gruesome violent spectacle of the lion chasing down the smallest, weakest zebra, and finally ripping it apart. How, they ask, could a loving Creator have made a cruel world like this?”[vii]
The number of young people from single parent homes and mixed families has increased dramatically in the past 30 years. “Many have become victims of abuse, divorce, poverty, etc., and they [tend to] blame God for their pain. It is a long journey to bring them to the point where they see God as a God of love. . . Emotionally they often identify with the weak animal, pursued and torn to pieces. They cynically regard God, ‘if there is one,’ as taking pleasure in violence.”[viii]
In other words, their evolutionary upbringing has taught them that death, pain, suffering, and bloodshed have always been a part of life for millions, if not billions of years. Therefore, death and suffering are not the direct result of sin’s entrance into human history, thus God must be cruel. When the church compromises, placing death and suffering before sin, it is telling the world that God is the author of these things and is therefore cruel. “What is the hope of overcoming death if death has always existed? God did not make a world of billions of years of pain, death, suffering, and disease. All these came about because of man’s sin.[ix]
The answer is a return to the authority of God’s word—especially as it unfolds cosmology. “When [young people] see that sin is the cause of death and their own hopeless condition, the results are dramatic. Now they have answers to the pain in the world and in their life. [T]his can be a painful process shaking their whole worldview. But this understanding of their own lost condition is vital before they can understand God’s grace. Says Geoff Stevens, “We need to prepare the ground, removing the all the evolutionary . . . boulders and rocks so that the Gospel seed falls upon fertile soil . . . Today’s needy [young] people with all their baggage, tend to fall in love with God once they understand this full truth. They are also much more likely to be serious about their walk with Christ, and to become dedicated disciples.” [x]
The rending apart of creation from redemption (dualism)
The loss of biblical cosmology has produced an immense gash; a tearing apart of creation and redemption. Part of the outworking of this loss of divine transcendence (as well as explaining everything in terms of natural laws instead of by means of the Creator) has been a pervasive dualism which separates creation from redemption. The separation of the physical from the spiritual has been encouraged by modern culture (as if religious views are private and have nothing to do with the real world). The secular arts continually operate on this premise that the real world is concrete, and that the spiritual world is not.[xi]
Having dispensed with the wonder of divine creation as the revelation of God (and thus having removed His rule and reign over creation), reality is nothing more than what you choose to make it—in essence an extension of the self. The sovereign self, with its autonomously shaped identity, may use the world as its ‘raw material’ to construct the self.
Once the universe is viewed as merely a select mass of raw material with all phenomena reducible to material properties and natural laws and processes, then the very ground of prime reality is no longer Almighty God. Primes reality becomes impersonal matter and motion. The cosmos is severed from redemption in the minds of most people.
The acceptance of postmodernism
Postmodernity has moved our thinking to the place where truth is no longer objective and universal. Truth no longer transcends race, culture, and language. D. A. Carson says the following about postmodernism, “Truth is no longer foundational and axiomatic. The postmodern meaning of things is supplied by the mind, not by the data which is sensed.”[xii]
In postmodernism there is no universal omniscient divine mind who supplies the ultimate criteria for truth. In PM there is no ultimate “Knower” who is the absolute reference point for reality. Instead the acquisition of truth is severely limited by finite autonomous man—so much so that objective truth is not attainable. But this position of PM is more than a bare philosophical view; it is also an ethic. PM says that epistemological certainty is not desirable or attainable. It is not attainable because there is no sure place to stand (no omniscient mind to test things). And it is not desirable because the true knowledge of things is constrained by the interpretive communities—objectivity is lost in the limits of the finite knower. Thus epistemological certainty is a chimera. Therefore to claim epistemological certainty is to be arrogant, bigoted, and out of date.
Epistemological certainty is not desirable because totalizing statements impose a kind of total structure and worldview which is manipulative and controlling. Thus, due to the human condition, it is far better (ethically) to speak of truth as a correlative (‘truths’ from different perspectives—i.e. from a certain time in history; from a particular stance; from one’s upbringing; from one’s religious perspective; from a group of feminists; etc.).[xiii]
The N.T. injunction for believers to share the Gospel with boldness and persuasion is regarded as a ‘power play’ by postmoderns. James McDonald notes that PM will accept a forum for reasoning; but will not accept persuasion. For the postmodern, certainty is equivalent to arrogance and uncertainty is equivalent to humility.[xiv]
The presuppositions inherent in postmodernity are in collision with biblical cosmology. PM suggests that what we ‘think’ are creation structures (male and female, right and wrong, marriage and family, etc.) are actually products of finite human beings. Thus what passes for creation structures are not secure, nor disclosed, nor deposited to us by an omniscient mind outside of us as a fulcrum to move the world. They are merely social constructs. There is no transcendental truth or objectivity. To claim to have it is to use an instrument of coercive subjectivity.[xv]
Postmodernity’s deconstructing influence opens the door to pagan worldview. PM is open to astrology, ‘third eye,’ sorcery, intuition, and subjectivity. PM’s presupposition that knowing goes way outside the limits of science and physical laws (while rejecting the infallibility and perspicuity of Scripture) makes a way for other theories of knowledge. In these other theories of knowing, knowledge does not possess the quality of an historical universal which can be sorted out and either verified or falsified.[xvi]
The spiritual vacuum left by secular humanism
Like an immense wrecking ball, secular humanism has been moving through society for the better part of a century. It has left destruction in its wake. The ‘wrecking ball’ of naturalism has systematically broken down the boundaries set by God. Philosophic naturalism (evolutionary theory) has so thoroughly permeated our culture—it has practically become our national worldview. Students imbued with Darwinism find themselves metaphysically lost in a materialistic/chance universe without a fixed point of reference (75% of students are looking for the meaning of life).
The secularists have used the above philosophy of materialism to target the divine ‘blueprint’ given by God by which His creatures are to interpret the world, and order their lives and society. Naturalism has been ‘shredding’ the divine blueprint. Secularism views man as a biological machine and not the image of God.
Biblical cosmology is expressed in the distinctions which God has made in creation. We could say that God creates by ‘separating things’—heaven and earth; dry land and sea; animal and plant; day and night; good and evil; man and woman (Gen 1:4ff.).
“Two-ness” is the very essence of biblical cosmology. The creation structures formed by God are: male distinct from female; human distinct from animal; animal distinct from plant; etc. These ‘binaries of two-ness’ constitute boundaries or divisions established by the Creator. “These principles should not be seen and understood merely as primitive cosmology, but as stating a metaphysical principle and teaching a point that the universe has a moral base.”[xvii]
In other words, there is a moral order built into the creation (there behaviors that are ‘against nature’). “Human beings are only correctly understood in relationship to their Creator [and His moral government].”[xviii] As humans, our identity and purpose are inseparable from our designation as the very image of God. Our rationality, worship, and morality are the direct expression of having been created in the image of God.
Thus to be human is to be ‘mission-focused’—our identity as the image of God contains our ‘job description.’ We are to raise up God-fearing communities; we are to devote ourselves to marriage and family; we are to exercise the dominion mandate over the works of God’s hands. Our identity and our calling as humans made in the image of God are inseparable.[xix]
Eighty plus years of secular humanism have had the net effect of redefining the universe as a vast mechanism in which all phenomena are explainable by natural laws and processes. In popular culture, God has been retired to a sub-cultural role. The bulk of modern thought has simply dispensed with God. Modern science, accompanied by secular humanism, spent the better part of a century conditioning people to think that the scientific method was really the only valid way to understand and engage the world around us. “Real knowledge” was scientific—real knowledge was empirically verifiable, measurable, quantifiable. As a consequence, the creation was increasingly regarded as a great machine of natural laws and properties, and not the theatre of God’s glory (not the stage of God’s redemptive plan).
In the 1970’s it looked like secular humanism was the conquering giant that eliminated its foes. It proved to be a significant challenge to Christianity. Unbelievers embraced secular humanism as if they had met their liberator. Public life was ‘set free’ from all religion.[xx]
Secular humanism’s assault has torn down God’s creation structures and it has left society craving a replacement. Paganism offers itself as that new ordering principle. Naturalism’s denial of God’s creation structures has left an immense vacuum. Paganism is proposing to put the world back together again (after postmodernity has deconstructed the world and emptied it of meaning).[xxi]
The Western world is undergoing a process of ‘paganization.’ Militant paganism has declared war on the church and the family. As more and more Americans accept the humanist assumptions of society, the shift away from our Judeo-Christian roots will be reflected in government, business, law, education, religion, marriage, and family.
Paganism is growing and thriving in the ‘seedbed’ left by secular humanism. Paganism is rushing into the spiritual void left by secularism. And, though paganism offers itself as a new comprehensive ordering principle; it still needs evolution in order to function (evolutionary theory is the pseudo-universal that drives paganism).
Secularists want a ‘spiritual’ answer—but not from Christianity. Paganism offers that spiritual answer. In presenting its totalizing cosmology, paganism has gone to war against theism and the biblical truth of male and female as the image of God as standing in the way of its goal of global oneness. In a sense, paganism is the ‘stepchild’ of secular humanism—it has germinated in the seedbed of secular humanism.
This worldview ‘lens’ of paganism proposes a sweeping monistic vision—stressing the oneness of all things; the divinity of man and nature; and the goal of global harmony. Paganism as a worldview presents a new view of the order of creation—a new way to view reality. This is a patent denial of biblical cosmology. It is a rejection of the Creator’s order. The antithesis affirmed in Scripture demonstrates that paganism is not partly right—but is the very antithesis, or opposite of the truth.[xxii]
The appeal of non-theistic spirituality
Secular humanism “killed God” and postmodernity deconstructed meaning. People were left people yearning for something spiritual. Currently the Western world is awash in spiritualities—all of which are from below. More and more Americans are looking for spiritual power within rather than to the God of religion. Each year the sentiment grows that ‘the god of the sacred within’ removes the need for church.[xxiii]
Common to contemporary spiritualities is that god and spirituality may be accessed within the self and unmediated (as if a god lives in all of us and we just have to open the door to self to reach the divine anytime we want).
Biblical theism condemns all privately constructed sacred spaces. The truth is that there is a fixed boundary between God and the sinner. That boundary cannot be crossed on our side (a biblical truth which offends PM’s). We could summarize the elements of contrast between theistic and non-theistic spirituality as follows:
1.) God hides from sinners; He cannot be had on the sinner’s terms.
2.) Home-made spiritualities are all blind the fact that there is a boundary.
3.) You won’t understand the boundary unless the grace of God and the Spirit of God illuminates your darkened understanding.
4.) Without an understanding of the boundary you won’t understand why the incarnation and the crucifixion is the only source of spirituality.
5.) God must cross His own boundary. It can only be crossed on God’s. The human spirit can’t do the reaching.
6.) The only starting point for spirituality is Christ’s death. The Spirit of God enlightens the sinner in his inner being to understand what we are in God’s sight. Faith is a gift of God to see the boundary and our need of Christ.
7.) True spirituality arises out of the eternal counsels of God.[xxiv]
The world is very hostile to any exclusive truth claims—that only in Christ do we find reconciliation to the Father. But the Gospel of John is so clear. Forty two times the theme is repeated: Christ was sent into the world from above. Jesus is the “Great Insider;” He was sent into our human experience to be bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh.
He learned obedience through the things which He suffered (Heb 5:8). His sufferings and temptations perfectly equipped Him to be our merciful and faithful High Priest.[xxv]
What is the collective effect of the above influences on the spirituality of our youth?
They live with a huge ‘disconnect’ between their thoughts and reality (they live with an intrusive dualism).
Living with the dualism inherent in postmodernism means that the majority of our young people don’t see God for who He is and don’t see man for who he is. Christ is seen as the lord of the Christian church but not the lord of the cosmos. Creation is severed from redemption. This severing manifests itself in a form of dualism which places redemption outside of objective reality.
Redemption and biblical truth claims are seen as private preferences with no basis in fact. Redemption is viewed as existing in the mind and the heart; therefore it is something ethereal and less than real because reality is the physical universe. The world’s philosophies, by severing salvation from redemption, have relegated Christ to a truncated religious role in which He is no longer Lord of the cosmos.
Christianity is viewed as a heart preference absolutely divorced from the purpose of the cosmos. The rule of the Creator, the consummation of human history in Christ, the coming Kingdom of God, and the ultimate restoration of the cosmos are all out of view.
The lordship of Christ is seen as existing over things that belong in the Christian religion—His lordship is not seen as His absolute rule and authority over all reality. As a consequence, knowledge is hopelessly fragmented into innumerable particulars. In this dualistic view of life spirituality is partitioned off from the rest of life.
With the image of God lost (an essential aspect of cosmology), anything goes. The human body becomes the canvas and the playground upon which to experiment with the task of being the architect of one’s identity. Freedom, fulfillment, identity, and meaning come from doing your own thing. Well because this is God’s world designed to operate in the way God has made it, it is axiomatic to say that the false promises of youth culture won’t deliver. Young people carry a quiet desperation, a metaphysical lost-ness, a palpable absence of meaning. Love, meaning, purpose, joy, identity only can come from serving, obeying, knowing, and enjoying one’s Creator.
They find that postmodern relativism pushes them in the direction of synthesis instead of biblical antithesis.
Dean Paulson of Northwestern College observes how PM’s relativism affects Christian students’ approach to Scripture. Says Paulson, students today have relegated themselves to ambiguity. That is the nature of the culture; the trend of the times. But worse, this relativism tends to manifest itself in the misconception that true spirituality involves embracing the ambiguity (a preference for synthesis over antithesis). Clarity in the meaning of Scripture is regarded as unattainable—perspectivalism reigns. Christian students heavily influenced by PM’s relativism tend to be extremely weak on the infallibility of Scripture. This weakness also shows up in the students’ pessimism about finding the single meaning of a passage of Scripture (suggesting that uncovering the biblical author’s intent is not attainable). This leads to a low view of the authority of God’s Word as well as a weak view of the perspicuity of Scripture.
They are tempted to view non-theistic spiritualities as a viable option (if not for themselves; then for others).
The interest in self-focused religions and spirituality is growing at an enormous rate. The newer non-traditional beliefs tend to emphasize self-transformation, self-fulfillment, and self-enlightenment to the exclusion of community. Agnostic researcher Rosemary Aird discovered that 21 year olds who practiced non-traditional spiritualities had higher rates of depression, anxiety as well as higher rates of anti-social behavior.[xxvi]
“Traditional religion tends to promote the idea of social responsibility and thinking of others’ interests, whereas the New Age movement pushes the idea that we can transform our world by changing ourselves. The downside is that people are very much on their own and not part of a community, which may lead to a kind of isolation. Says Aird, “[Those who replaced] traditional religious beliefs with trendy, self-focused religions and spirituality are not the happier for their attempts at self-transformation.”
Aird found that in her study group church attendance resulted in a reduction of anti-social behavior among males but not among females. Though Aird is an agnostic, her study on spirituality trends is insightful.
“People who are into the New Age spirituality tend to shop around and will tend to borrow from all sorts of old beliefs, like Wicca, witchcraft, or Native American religions. It’s a whole mishmash and changes all the time . . . they’ll do something for awhile before doing something else.” “If there is no sense of any kind of tradition, it means you are cast adrift and [it] means that there’s no fundamental basic thing to hang on to.”[xxvii]
Aird also noted that popular culture had fed the trend toward non-traditional beliefs with a popularization of “spirituality.” “Religion and belief has kind of become mixed up with popular culture.” Note the television shows such as “Supernatural,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” and “Medium.” They promote witchcraft, special powers, and spirituality. Young people exposed to them could see them as attractive. “People want to find some way of embedding these things into some sort of belief system.”
In commenting on the plethora of self-help books and do-it-yourself spirituality, Aird said, “My generation was about social responsibility and collective interests compared to the Me generation. [The] New Spirituality promotes the idea that self-transformation will lead to a positive and constructive change in self and society. But there is the contradiction: how can one change society if one is focused on oneself?”[xxviii]
They are immersed in a culture that views the sacredness of sexual relations in marriage as trivial.
There has been a spate of Hollywood movies made about unwanted pregnancies. “Juno,” “Knocked up,” “Waitress,” and “Bella” to name a few. The box office hit “Juno” sends the message that, “[T]eenage girls can withstand the shock of pregnancy to attain blissfully happy endings.”[xxix]
The incredible crisis of an unwed teen mother is reduced to a “blip” on the radar of one’s life. Some have lauded the pregnancy movies as an example of being willing to bear the child instead of choosing abortion. But, is it really that simple? Hollywood evades reality by oversimplifying tough choices: “I got pregnant, I guess I can have the baby too.” It is expected that 750,000 teenage girls will become pregnant this year.
In the battle for the heart, why is the body is the epicenter of the battlefield?
To what degree are our youth affected by a market-driven culture?
What are the presuppositions of popular culture?
(See “Developing Discernment in our Culture” for text on these sub-titles.)
Questions our Christian youth have trouble answering:
1.) How does my Christianity cut completely across my cultural experience?
2.) How can my entire life be an answer to God’s calling?
3.) How can I make Christian truth speak to all of life?
Christ is Lord of the Cosmos. Consider the ‘vastness’ of His Person.
He is restorative Lord: He will reconcile all things.
He is consummative Lord: He will sum up all things in Himself.
He is cosmic Lord: He made all things; He is upholder; all has been made for Him.
He is judicial Lord: All judgment is given to the Son.
He is epistemic Lord: In Him are all the treasures of God’s wisdom and knowledge.
He is providential Lord: All authority has been given to Him in heaven and in earth.
He is rational Lord: He is the rationality of the universe and of every man.
He is revelatory Lord: He is radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His character.
He is veracious Lord: He is the truth incarnate. Truth is Christ; an absolute Person.
[i] Dave Doveton, “Paganism in the Church” (Escondido, CA: Christian Witness to a Pagan Planet, think-tank, 2007).
[ii] Jay Wegter, “Worldview, Apologetics, and Evangelism, BCW363A” (Newhall: The Master’s College, 2007).
[iii] Dave Doveton.
[iv] Jay Wegter, “Worldview.”
[v] Ken Ham, “The god of an old earth,” Creation Magazine (21:4, September-November, 1999) p. 42.
[vi] Ibid, pp. 44-45.
[vii] Geoff Stevens, “Genesis and Generation X” Magazine (21:4, September-November, 1999) p. 22.
[viii] Ibid, pp. 22-23.
[ix] Ibid. p. 23.
[xi] Jay Wegter, Art and Biblical Worldview--Developing Christian discernment, p. 8-9.
[xii] D. A. Carson, Postmodernism.
[xiv] James McDonald, The Cross-cultural Values of Discipleship, Truth and Life Conference, 2008, The Master’s College.
[xv] D. A. Carson.
[xvii] Emil Brunner in Dave Doveton, “The Pagan Deconstruction of a Biblical Worldview,” p. 3.
[xix] Jeffrey Ventrella. , “Grotius or Gaia: Identifying and Defeating the Legal Implications of Neo-paganism” (Escondido, CA: Christian Witness to a Pagan Planet, think-tank, 2007).
[xx] David Wells, The Cross-cultural Impact of Discipleship, Truth and Life Conference, 2008, The Master’s College.
[xxi] Peter Jones, “Forms of Paganism” (Escondido, CA: Christian Witness to a Pagan Planet, think-tank, 2007).
[xxiii] David Wells.
[xxvi] Rosemary Aird, “Do-it-yourself ‘spirituality’ linked to poor mental health” (World Net Daily, Jan 20, 2008) p. 1.
[xxvii] Ibid, p. 2.
[xxix] Gary Direnfield, “Teen Pregnancy: It’s not like the Movies” (The Hamilton Spectator, Jan 14, 2008).