Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The Sex-Obsessed Mohler??

Well got your attention didn't it!? Al Mohler writes a provocative piece on the; "Heteroflexible, Pansensual, Bi-Curious Teenager". He sketches a picture of life today in school in New York that could be the teen's dream and the orthodox evangelical's nightmare. During the Panel Discussion at the "Sex and the Supremacy of Christ" conference, Mohler was jokingly attributed as having a real ministry in the whole area of "sex" and indeed he seems to be boldly dealing with issues that others fear to even voice. I have noted some of Mohler's posts previously on these issues and issued the challenge; "It is no longer acceptable to bury our collective orthodox heads in the sands of prejudice and bigotry and quote Leviticus at the problem".

To an orthodox evangelical church that still, I suspect, can't quite cope with words like; "homosexuality", the words that Mohler presents before us as postmodern realities will be nothing short of horrific; "polysexual, ambisexual, pansexual, pansensual, polyfide, bi-curious, bi-queer, fluid, meteroflexible, heteroflexible, heterosexual with lesbian tendencies". The trouble is these realities are out there.

The disappointment in Mohler's blog is his conclusion. While true, the suggestion is that he doesn't quite know what to say. "Missing from this entire picture is any notion that human sexuality is a stewardship to be protected and a gift to be respected, rather than simply a physical capacity to be used in personal experimentation and polymorphous gratification". Yes indeed it is missing. BUT WHAT ARE WE, THE GLORIOUS CHURCH GOING TO DO ABOUT IT? Yes indeed these people can be judged, cast out, disfellowshipped, whatever you want to call it. But I feel a measure of excitement that I actually believe the church was intended to march out in GRACE and TRUTH to meet these challenges. Surely it is possible to preach truth, hold onto truth and yet love the lost like they have never been loved before - after all Christ did it.

But I say it again; "It is no longer acceptable to bury our collective orthodox heads in the sands of prejudice and bigotry and quote Leviticus at the problem".


Hugh Griffiths said...

I absolutely agree the church is is intended to get out there with a message about true sexuality and its righteous boundaries. However, the church is no doubt going to have to get used to talking about stuff that is well outside its existing comfort zone - as well as having the bravery to celebrate godly sexuality rather than hide behind intended or unintended prudery.

I have just got the book from John Piper's conference 'Sex and the Supremacy of Christ' which is at least a start! Mohler's contribution alongside those of Piper, Mahaney, Dever and others is an excellent article on the challenge of homosexuality to the church as well. Well worth a read to start engaging with some of the issues.

NWT said...

Amen!! Yes absolutely and couldn't agree more. There is nothing commendable in holding disapproving, judgemental and frozen attitudes - that's all the world expects. How about the church rising up and surprising them for a change? I remember hearing Roger Forster give a lecture to non-Christian students titled; "CHRISTIANS GET THE BEST SEX EVER!". Why not lets be unashamed of who we are and what we stand for???!!

Don said...

I'm glad to see Dan addressing this issue, and glad to see that some Christian leaders are, too.

I want to ask a question not about acceptance by the church, but behavior within the church. Isn't so much of the problem within the church, the issue of what people who are not typical heterosexuals supposed to do with their sex drives? This seems to be the elephant in the room that no one likes to talk about. Please 'splain to me, someone, why Christians whose sexual leanings are not heterosexual cannot simply obey God, and be expected to obey God?

Jesus says "...some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it." (Matt 19:12) While not aimed at homosexuality, this statement by Jesus plainly says that marriage (which Paul says is the solution for the sex drive) is not for everyone.

I have a Christian friend who is very heterosexual, but has never gotten married. He would like to be married, but it just hasn't happened for him. He is chaste and celibate. He doesn't call attention to his sexuality, he doesn't flirt, he doesn't do porn, he doesn't try to see what he can "get away with" in order to keep his sexuality activated rather than dormant, given his single status. He is not desperately trying to find a wife or girlfriend to take care of his sexual needs, and is trusting that God truly loves him even though he has no wife and no prospects of getting one. He has renounced sexual activity for the kingdom of heaven, trusting God either to bring him a wife or give him *greater* blessings than sexuality, in the next life.

If we expect Christian heterosexuals like my friend to obey clear biblical teaching and only engage in sexual activity within heterosexual marriage, can we not ask Christian homosexuals of whatever stripe to do the same?

Am I correct that this is a big problem, but shouldn't be? Or am I huffing helium on this and not seeing the real problem? thanks!

Baxter's Boy said...

You've hit the nail bang on the head Don, as usual! This is something that has been griping me for a few years now. I think that we (talking for the church now) don't have a clue what to do with people who don't "fit the bill". Now forgive me for huffing helium for a minute (I love that phrase!) but I really think this isn't helped by the same Al Mohler speaking a KEYNOTE address at the SGM New Attitude Conference on marriage and telling young men who aren't married that they are effectively lazy and should just "get on with it and get married". This presents (to me) a very dangerous, and highly insensitive situation where people who may be indeed desirous of marriage, but simply aren't that position are made to feel "odd"!

Just as similarly I have a "friend" who isn't a Christian but is WELL aware of the feelings and attitudes towards homosexuality in the Christian church and he put the challenge very succicently to me. Okay - so homosexuality is wrong. But he wants to know what the Christian church expects him to change "to". Is he to become the "typical" Christian male? I.e grumpy, emotional ice cube, secret problems with lust, most probably secret problems with porn etc etc?? See the problem?

I don't think that we as a Christian church are presenting viable and attractive alternatives and role models for these kind of PEOPLE (not homosexuals - I hate the term, they are PEOPLE) to strive for and look to! And here I must pay tribute to C J Mahaney (yes - TRIBUTE!), I think he is indeed setting a wonderful image of a heterosexual man who seems to be wonderfully in love with his wife, and isn't afraid to show it, doesn't seem to be overly repressive (I hope) and a generally good role model.

I think we MUST deal with the Scriptures Don has laid before us, as well as the Scriptures where Paul said it is actually BETTER not to get married, but if you HAVE to get married then do, rather than burn with lust. I do believe that it is a grace gift of God to be able to control your feelings and stay celibate if that is what He has called you to do.

Phew ... sorry ... that all just poured out. Don, I do stand with you and agree with your wisdom again! This is a big problem! But certainly shouldnt be if the Church was what it was meant to be!

Don said...

Dan, thanks much for your reply. I agree with you that the Church doesn't know what to do with "oddball" people -- but most churches don't know what to do with them, whether we're talking about sex/marriage issues, or being an artistic/intellectual, or a CEO. As most Christians are rather simple people who've responded to the gospel (most "smart" people, like the Pharisees or C.S. Lewis, have a hard time removing Satan's blinders), they have difficulty relating to anyone in their midst who's not really like them. And of course, getting beyond shallow is a big problem in most congregations. (In the 70s, the National Lampoon rewrite of the then-famous "Desiderata" poem presented the wisdom that "A walk through the ocean of most souls will scarcely get your feet wet." ;-D )

You're right, too, in that viable models for single Christians are few and far between. One of the problems I've seen over the years is that a single person who becomes popular for writing or speaking on how to be a successful single Christian usually ends up getting married shortly thereafter! (Joshua Harris is an excellent example; it happened to several people I knew in CLC, one of whom had just had a great article on single womanhood published in People of Destiny magazine when she became engaged and then married.)

On the other hand, I have to say that Mohler's exhortation to Christian men to get married is not badly intentioned. While there are some men who will not, or should not, marry, for the most part young men need encouragement to marry. Especially today, fear of commitment and fear of intimacy are rampant, and there are more distractions than ever to keep one from pursuing marital commitment. Plus, many young women are -- in their heart of hearts -- desperate to get married to a good man, and have children. Starting a family at age 30 is a bit late, in my own experience. The practical realities of female biology and male career trajectories argue for starting the childbearing process as early in (adult) life as possible. It simply becomes much more difficult, in every way, to begin bearing and raising children as an older person.

There's something else here, too. I don't know if it holds for young people today, but when I was in my 20s, a lot of young Christian guys at CLC were so focused on building the kingdom of God, that they were being impractical about their lives. They didn't pay attention to their careers -- some guys with a lot of potential thought that being janitors or part-time musicians would work for their whole lives. They weren't looking ahead responsibly, thinking of the future, and were taking/keeping low-responsibility jobs in order to pour more time and energy into church activities.

I'll never forget the message that Bill Patton gave at a men-only meeting in the early 80s -- he spoke clearly about this, identified this short-sighted attitude, and reminded these guys that the decisions they were making at that time were setting the pattern for their future lives. If they had hopes of living above the poverty level, this was the time to take action and get the schooling/training needed for their future careers. Plus, he said, there were a lot of sisters (that's what we called Christian women then) in the church who were getting impatient, waiting for the guys to get real and get married! Wow -- what an impact *that* message had! It really shook some guys out of their spiritual la-la lands. Within the next couple of years, there were lots of engagements and marriages in CLC, and the complexion of the church within just a few years changed from mostly singles to mostly marrieds. I think Patton did the guys a good service by slapping them upside the head with the reality that "life" is what happens while you're busy making other plans.

Believe it or not, though, that isn't what I really wanted to talk about. I want to address your comment on the problem of most "typical" guys being ice cubes and having secret lives. That is indeed a problem! Here's where sound biblical teaching, modeling and mentoring by healthy well-adjusted spiritual fathers, peer-level accountability and transparency come in. There's a second essential, too: ongoing, personal ministry from the Holy Spirit.

While the first group I suggest is difficult enough for any church to implement, the second is done at very few churches, even charismatic/pentecostal ones. Yet I submit that it is essential. I make this recommendation after *seeing* dramatic changes occur in both men and women (myself included) who sought and received ministry prayer on a regular basis, in addition to more-typical activities of accountability, the spiritual disciplines, and being in a working small group. The ministry of the Holy Spirit through prayer and prophetic words is essential to 1) helping overcome the residue of past problems and issues, and 2) helping identify and clean up the spiritual and emotional "garbage" that attract demonic "rats" who harrass, lie to and discourage believers.

The exciting and mysterious thing about Holy Spirit ministry, through trained and experienced people, is that you never know what He's going to do, at any time. It may take some time to solve one specific problem area in a person's life, or on a specific day a massive breakthrough can occur through prayer and/or a truly prophetic word spoken into the person's heart and mind. Only the Spirit of Jesus knows how to set each captive *free,* and though we've legally acquired freedom in Christ through salvation, living "in the good of that" (as you Brits so wonderfully say) is a process that is no less spiritual than the salvation experience. Most churches, unfortunately, begin with the Spirit (in salvation) but then turn to the flesh (intellectual counseling and teaching) when it comes to continuing the growth-and-maturity process. I think that's dumb, but I would think it normal if I hadn't seen the Spirit in action over the past 10 years, setting His beloved saints free from bondage and darkness, to be able to worship and serve God in glorious light. "With God, all things are possible!"

The "problem" is, Spirit-led ministry is time-consuming, messy and individually focused. It requires patience and doesn't "teach" easily. That's too much for many churches to deal with -- particularly for the many churches more concerned with getting people into the Kingdom by evangelism, than helping them grow up into Christ through discipleship. For many leaders, salvations are far more exciting -- and quantifiable -- than "maturations." Leaders need to be convinced of the need to partner wholeheartedly with the Spirit of Jesus not only for salvation experiences, but for growing-up-into-Christ experiences.

Don said...

I just reread what I wrote above -- wow, how opinionated! Did I step on enough toes with that one, or should I just keep going? =:-D

Anonymous said...

It's good!! Opinions are extremely welcome in this forum! My feeling is that it is the opinionated minority that are going to ultimately change the world, not the passive majority who don't really care! So please keep going!

Baxter's Boy said...

Yes I agree with the above - I really value opinons and thoughts, AS long as they are backed up by evidence and thought-through logic. I'm not interested in people who voice opinions from the strength of tradition or biogotry - so aside from that feel free to keep on! And so many thanks for doing it!! Because it's making us think!!

jul said...

Yes, I really appreciated your comments Don. But I'm also extrememly opinionated and happen to agree with your opinion so I don't know if that's helpful or not...haha.. Anyway, I think the church has failed many people who are "especially" sinful. We have not been afraid all the time to voice our disgust with these kinds of sin (all the while being perfectly happy to harbor "less serious" sin amongst ourselves) but we have offered little or no hope or help for real change. Don't we believe that God can still remove hearts of stone, give us new hearts of flesh and fill us with his all-powerful Spirit? Or is God limited in what kind of people he can change? The kind of ministry we're talking about here is life consuming, self-denying, pick up our cross kind of stuff. Maybe we'd rather not get into that kind of thing. There is a spiritual battle we need to engage in violently and fearlessly, out of love for God and man, and hate for the enemy of our souls.

Don said...

Thanks for your encouragement, folks, and amen, Jul. "Don't we believe that God can still remove hearts of stone, give us new hearts of flesh and fill us with his all-powerful Spirit?" That's the issue: people in the church usually don't hope for much change in their hearts because in many churches there's a lack of teaching from Scripture on the possibility -- and expectation from God -- of such change. Then too, they usually don't see many changed people around them, especially among people who had difficult problems.

I was very doubtful of becoming a father, until I saw the example of good fathers around me in the church, applying the teaching we received and proving capable of raising godly, happy and obedient children with God's great help. If I hadn't seen that, we likely would never have had children, which I now see would've been a huge mistake.

In the last few years I got to know a guy who'd been dramatically delivered from drug addiction and alcoholism through his salvation experience. Yet he knew that wasn't all God wanted to do in him, to transform him into the image of Christ. This guy is aggressive in looking to serve others, receive teaching and practice hospitality in his home. He is friendly and open with everyone, and was successful at talking with unbelievers about the Lord.

A couple of years ago, he approached me in a shy way, and asked me to forgive him for his having a bad attitude toward me. I hadn't even been aware of such an attitude! He could've continued hiding this, but he so wanted to please God that he overcame his pride and fear, and obeyed the Holy Spirit's direction. Of course I forgave him, and after that our relationship grew stronger. God destroyed more works of the devil, and Jesus receives the glory.

I love another of Jul's statements: "There is a spiritual battle we need to engage in violently and fearlessly, out of love for God and man, and hate for the enemy of our souls." This battle is definitely two-sided: one side is the battle to *obey* God and apply His growing spiritual dominion to every area of our lives. The other battle is to *recognize* that the enemy most assuredly hates us, wants to neutralize and even kill us, and that he will oppose every step of "territory" we claim for Christ in our lives.

I can sometimes discern his attacks in weird events, hostility from people or a general sense of opposition to what I know the Lord wants to do in/through me. However, most of his attacks, I think, consist of planting those thoughts in my thinking that oppose God -- and masquerade as my own thoughts. I had a significant breakthrough several years ago, in which I *realized* that if I was considering a negative, fearful, discouraging, angry, lustful or unforgiving thought (feel free to add others!) that didn't line up with God's revealed character and my own *redeemed* spirit, then they weren't from God or me, but from the enemy and should be cast down in prayer and actively resisted.

I was astonished to realize that the enemy had continued to blind me, for years after my salvation, to this reality -- and so have an invisible platform in my own mind from which to attack and discourage me! Unlike Paul, I was truly ignorant of his schemes!

Once the Spirit shined the light of truth on this reality, I began for the first time to UNDERSTAND that my thought-life is not always a peaceful sanctuary in which God & I alone interact (it is often that), but a battle-scarred landscape experiencing periodic bombardment and guerrilla attack from the (defeated!) enemy. Wow -- what a paradigm shift for little Donnie!

I finally understood how aggressively and carefully I need to monitor my stream of consciousness to discern when certain thoughts do not line up with God's Word and character.

Here's the key to my discovery: I *agreed* in my heart and mind with the Word and the Spirit that since I have been saved by Christ, I am truly seated with Him in heavenly places, and have a redeemed, Christlike nature rooted inside me. I'm *not* just a saved sinner, still mired in sin, though I still struggle with sin at times -- I truly have the very nature of the risen Christ implanted in me, and my old, rebellious and filthy nature destroyed by His blood and my faith in it.

Therefore, my new *natural* inclinations *will* be godly, especially as I continue to "feast on" Jesus (Jn 6) through the Word, worship, prayer and obedience to Him in daily life. Any thought, then, that raises itself up against God in my mind, MUST be from the enemy, and should be detected and rejected. There's really no "neutral" ground here, I think. As a redeemed Christian, my thoughts are either going to align with God's loving, wise and pure thoughts (and be accepted) or not (and be rejected).

Sounds so simple, and I hope you reading this came to this spiritual understanding much earlier than I. I knew all this intellectually, but it took many years to be revealed in my heart. I needed my mind to be renewed by God, to detect how the enemy camouflages his attacks on my mind. This was indeed a hidden "stronghold" he had defended quite successfully for a long time.

I also want to note that this breakthrough came at a time when I was regularly receiving Spirit-filled ministry prayer, fasting periodically, and actively filling my thoughts with scripture and worship songs (not TV and secular music, BTW). I was positioning myself to receive much help from the Spirit!

Since that discovery, I'm almost never discouraged or fearful for very long, because the Spirit helps me to recognize these thoughts as anti-Christ, and worthy of rejection. (Now that I've written this, of course, pray that I don't get totally depressed next week! :-D )

jul said...

Amen! God has been teaching me all those same things. Sadly, many christians are completely unaware, and suffer needlessly. A friend of ours has been battling depression for several years now, and also struggles with blatant blasphemous thoughts. He has been counseled to try to find the root of sin, to discover why he's thinking these thoughts. I asked him if he loved God,and whether he wanted to have these thoughts. His answer of course was NO!!! No believer wants to think like this. Those thoughts were coming directly from the enemy, and was/is having a great time deceiving one of God's children into thinking he may not even be saved and there is no hope. There are too many examples like this. I just finished listening to one of the messages from Terry Virgo's Lavish Grace Tour, thanks to you Dan. It was so refreshing and hopeful. I'm still mulling it over, and probably will be for quite a while.

dave skip said...

wow, these comments are really fresh and challenging, cheers guys, keep 'em comin'!

Baxter's Boy said...

Yep I agree with that Dave, this is so thrilling because I always dreamt that this website would be a platform for not only the words of Ern Baxter not to die, but also it to be a catalyst to productive, deep and passion-inspiring conversation with fellow one-in-spirit Christians who share my dreams and visions! And if they dont, then to be challenged if necessary and honed and refined! So yep - keep them coming, this is great stuff and I am learning more than anyone!