Truth In An Age of Tolerance.
Well my new book "Sex and the Supremacy of Christ" arrived fresh with the DVD ... oh how I love Amazon dot com. And due to (still) working night shifts I read it tonight. There is something incredibly different between reading a book and listening to an audio CD. While I have heard the material presented at the conference it seems that a different part of my brain engages when I'm reading. Wish I was a scientist and could dissect that. Anyhow. I found myself more offended than when I heard the CD's. Why?
After mounting on eagles wings with John Piper and examining the Supremacy of Christ, the reader feels ready to combat anything. God's glory is there to enjoy. However the conference moved on to address the practical issues and the section we come to after Piper's resounding opening is "Men and Sex" ... not quite so glorious? Well the married man has C J Mahaney's chapter to look forward to, full of humour, of understanding, of truth (apart from his error on the Song of Solomon) and of encouragement. The single man on the other hand has Mark Dever ...
"The first thing to say about sex and the single man is, there should be none! If you are not married, the Bible clearly teaches that you should refrain from any sexual contact. Sex should not be experienced outside of marriage".
Ouch. Quite frankly can I opt for being a single woman with Carolyn McCulley? She's a lot nicer and although she says the same thing, she makes it sound a lot more pallatable.
But after my initial teething problems with this section, and my dislike issues with Mark Dever (who needs a bit of a makeover if the DVD is anything to go by) it did get me considering this whole issue of truth in a tolerant age. The culture in which we live doesn't like being told the truth. We dress it up in any shape, form and guise possible if it's going to hurt at all. This is the codeine age!! Surely that's why our evangelism faces such a complete challenge because the world doesn't want to be told that there is only ONE way to the Father and that way is going to cost you your life. So the question is, should I actually be grateful for Mark Dever and his bad hairdo? Up until I read this chapter, I am really glad and grateful to be a single man in the Kingdom of God! Now it seems to me that sex is presented as a bit of a special perk for those in Business Class. Single men? Sorry - you're in economy.
If I listen to my cynical self talking - that has been so well trained by postmodern professors and psychiatrists then ditch Dever. He deserves to go in the dustbin with his barnet. But actually and unfortunately the Spirit of God is also speaking at this unearthly hour!! And He has a point to make. I am indeed quite glad that John Piper has gathered together men who are not afraid to spell out the truth. Sex IS indeed reserved solely for the marriage bed. It is a precious glorifying amazing gift from God and anything outside the context that He has designed is the "suicidal alternative" to use a Piperism.
So therefore what I don't think this book explores adequately at all is exactly WHAT the single man has to do in the pre-marriage stage for those destined for marriage and in the permanent stage for those destined to be single. I don't like the Capitol Hill Baptist Church team hearty jingo that marriage should be pursued. I can appreciate that there are a class of Christian men around who should be married but aren't because they're lazy, but I think this approach is extremely insensative to those who actually truly and honestly haven't met the right person yet. Sovereign "Grace" Ministries adopted the same ridiculous approach. The irony was that the Sovereign "Grace" church I was in didn't have any single women in it. So it was a bit hard to go out, get on with it and get married. I did consider suggested to the pastor that importing of women should be necessary along with this theory but I didn't think he would see the funny side.
My alternative approach would be rather a Piper-esque God-glorifying approach to looking at what Paul has to say about singleness. Didn't he actually say it is BETTER if you don't get married???! Now to me, that sparks my interest!! Because Paul said prophecy is better than tongues so I wanted prophecy! Therefore I want to know why being single is better. All Dever has told me is that I can't have sex. What I want to explore is the role of single men in the church. What do we have to do? What can we do? Unfortuately at this stage in my life I am writing quite in the dark, because the pastor of the SGM church didn't have a clue on this issue. Sensitive he was not. All illustrations from his pulpit concerned his family. But my prayer in all seriousness is that God raises up a single Christian man like Carolyn McCulley. Who actually has far more to tell us than simply "You can't have sex like me".
Praise God for the truth-tellers!! But please use your brains as well.