Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Christian Homosexuality Debate...

I came across a blog post of a link to a radio broadcast debate between an evangelical (biblical) pastor and a gay “Christian” author and apologist. The audio is worth listening to if for no other reason than to hear the arguments of both sides. The real fun (now) is in the comments of the post itself. Have fun!

FIDE-O: Audio: Men Burning For Men

Simon Cowell got it right…

Last night as my wife and I were getting ready to go to bed just after having watched a tape delayed television show, I happened to see some familiar faces as guests on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. The guests were Randy Jackson, Ryan Seacrest, and Simon Cowell from American Idol. Cutting straight to the point, Simon was accused of being particularly cruel or mean when he has provided his professional opinion of the wanna-be American Idol’s. If you’ve never seen this take place, just think of a cranky British man telling someone the bare-naked truth (with a bit of biting sarcasm) from his perspective and expertise in the music and entertainment industry.

Simon’s reaction to this accusation was true, I think. He said that he blames the parents of these contestants for how cruel he is. Now, I don’t think that he can blame them for any of the actual words or demeanor that he has, but I think that he is referring to the fact that he is the first person to have told this young person the truth about their lack of significant talent in their lives. Now, he can be condescending, but I’ve also heard him say to people that they have nice voices, but nothing that is dazzling or that would set them apart from every other decent singer.

I really think that Simon hit both a nerve and the pulse right on the head with his comment. What I mean is simply that parents (educators, coaches, etc) are told to be encouraging and say things like, “If you really want to be [insert superstar-like quality or profession here], and you believe that you can, then you can do it.” The problem is that there is a reason why there are only a small number of NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB, and other professional athletic organizations as well as why there are a small number of truly remarkable and memorable (for better or worse) musicians and actors. The reason is that specific talent on the level of superstar or icon is so rare, and potentially more rare because many times the talent does not coincide with hard work and determination, because it is partially the rarity of it that makes it so distinct and attractive to people.

This no-nonsense determination to tell people the hard truth about their “talent” shatters the foundation of the their dreams and goals that were, evidentially, built upon a foundation as solid as a unicycle on quicksand. I don’t think that it is the young people themselves who primarily bear the blame for this tragic, although it is somewhat comical as it plays out on American Idol, display of utter delusion. I blame the parents, grandparents, teachers, and coaches who have only done half of their jobs right. Yes these individuals are to encourage and build up the children in their care, absolutely. But, along with the encouragement, there must be the time for truth and reality to be instilled in children. For if children grow up never hearing or being exposed to reality as it relates to them and their talents, dreams, and goals – we are setting them up for disappointment and distress.

Dennis Prager, Jewish conservative talk-show host, made a comment a while back that I really think is true. His comment was basically that you can either experience pain now or you can experience pain later. It is one or the other; but all people will experience pain. He was specifically referring to being told that you are wrong about someone or something.

If I believe that I can sing as good as Luciano Pavarotti, but only for a few weeks, before I find out that I cannot, there is some degree of real pain sorrow in this realization. However, this pain is only compounded if the time-frame of my delusion is lengthened by many years and is decorated with the continual praise and un-wavering affirmations by those closest to me.

Again, we parents need to encourage our children in their endeavors. But we must never encourage them to a point that is harmful (i.e. beyond reality) with the reason of loving our children. The real love is gently and lovingly encouraging them to do their best while not brain-washing them believe that they can act, sing, dance, or play sports when in reality they are tone-deaf, they have two-left feet, and fairly clumsy.

My parents always encouraged me to try my hardest and work hard at whatever I did. In school when I would sing, act, or be involved in various sports (or pseudo-sports), I always knew that my parents were supporting me 100%. But, even though I had dreams of being an actor, a singer/songwriter, and a fullback in the NFL, I knew that they were just that, dreams.

Self esteem means having an inordinately or exaggeratedly favorable impression of oneself, and that is what is being inculcated into generations of young people.

1 This is ultimately destructive in the truest sense because it destroys the foundation of the gospel. The gospel is built on the truth that we are not good people, we are bad. The bible is clear that we are not good, and that it is only when we see how unrighteous we are and how truly desperate our situation is before God that the gospel makes any sense. Because, did God come to earth to save good people who were okay in God’s eyes anyway? No, Jesus came to die so that He might give “Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.” (Galatians 1:4)

As funny as it is to see the delusion of people and their self perception on American Idol, it is exponentially more tragic to see this delusion applied to a self perception in the light of God and His standards.

Do you think that you’re a good person?

1 I used the second of two definitions to this term because this seems to be the way that it is embodied in our culture. http://dictionary.reference.com/search?db=dictionary&q=self+esteem

Thursday, February 15, 2007

the Charlatan

About a month ago, I received an email prayer request through our church’s prayer chain. It is not uncommon to receive requests to pray for people’s health, anything from the flu to cancer or whatever, as well as prayer for specific people to repent of their sins and trust in Christ. So, when I opened up the e-mail, I was not struck too hard by the heading “urgent prayer request” any more than I was significantly impacted by the word “Leukemia”. I was struck by the fact that the person being prayed for was only eight years old.1

Cancer has claimed the lives of two of my grandparents as well as a friend of mine from high school. Unfortunately I am not a stranger to the terrible effects of this disease, but fortunately I have not become acquainted with this disease because it has attacked my children, wife, brothers or parents. I say this because I believe that I am like many people, serious illness is real but it is still distant enough to be easily put out of our minds.

When Jesus was walking on the earth, did He fill up the biggest venues in Judea telling followers that if they give of their resources they will demonstrate their faith and may be healed of infirmity? Christ was among the people and He freely healed those who came to Him, and He even went to someone’s home to heal the sick or raise the dead. The healing that Christ gave was real, it was true, and it was not a joke.

Benny Hinn is a liar, a Charlatan, a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and a heretic.

Benny Hinn is known for his spectacular miracle healing crusades. If you view his “This is Your Day” television program, you will see an emphasis on physical healing (as well as the rest of the “health and wealth” and word of faith garbage) through his ministry. On one such program, I heard Benny (speaking through an interpreter) saying this,

“Where Jesus is, sickness cannot live. Whoever shall call on the name of the lord shall be delivered. If you are bound by sin; if you are bound by infirmity, disease, and bondage….2 My brother, my sister, he hears the very whispers of your heart. Suddenly, healing virtue begins to flow out of His blessed presence…begins to flood your beings and fresh water begins to cleanse your soul. All you have to do tonight, is whisper Jesus. Lift your hands and call on His name. There are miracles happening all over this place right now.”3

Hank Hanegraaff, best known for his “Bible Answer Man” radio show, has repeatedly discussed the falseness of Benny Hinn’s ministry. In fact, to my knowledge, there have been no independently verified actual healings or miracles. It is so odious to claim to heal the sick and lame when you cannot. But, what if we give Mr. Hinn the benefit of the doubt? Wouldn’t it be great if God was using him to heal people? And if he does, he should go to where the sick people are. Go to the pediatric hospitals. Go to the cancer wards. Go to Africa and heal those who have AIDS. Go!

It sickens me to think that this kind of falsehood carries the name of Christianity with it. This kind of false teaching and gospel perverting is almost completely worthless. Why do I say “almost”? The devil knows that there must be at least some truth in order to make people swallow the poison, and sometimes Benny might give say something that is true about Christ or he might present the gospel in a way that the Holy Spirit uses on someone. And that person might really get saved and walk with the Lord. Hey, even Judas cast out demons, but we know that he was not a believer.
"Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. "You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? "So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. "A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. "Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. "So then, you will know them by their fruits.

"Not everyone who says to Me, `Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. "Many will say to Me on that day, `Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?' "And then I will declare to them, `I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.' (Matthew 7:15-23)

May God be merciful to Benny Hinn and cause him to repent of his sins, his false doctrine4, and turn to trust on Christ alone.

1 www.caringbridge.org/mn/bryceb

2 He went on to say other things, but the emphasis on the program was the healing.

3 “This is your day” aired on 2/7/07

4 Benny Hinn has taught the “little gods” teaching. Basically, the teaching goes that because, in Genesis, animals all reproduced after their own kind, when God created man, He did so after God’s kind. It’s creepy and wrong, but that doesn’t stop it from being preached.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Diversity Training

A few days ago I became one more person to be corporately indoctrinated into a culture of open and encouraged licentiousness. This training was not for racial, ethnic, or other cultural tolerance or acceptance, but it was for exposure to and acceptance of transexuality.

You read it correctly; transexuality.

The main reason why my office (total of about 50 people) received this training at this time is that we have a man who is, or is soon to be, “in transition” between genders. My purpose in writing this article is not to make a social, political, or familial commentary centered around Western or American civilization. My primary reasons are to (a) recount the information that was said and how it was presented to me, and to (b) share my thoughts after having been involved in this indoctrination.

Shortly after seeing a notation on my calendar for a meeting and not finding any e-mail or communication about the reason for the meeting, I asked one of my supervisors as to its purpose. She referred to it as “sensitivity training” but was not forthcoming with anymore details. This statement was enough to get my hackles to rise as well to heighten my curiosity. I soon found out that we were being trained on the issue of “gender identity” which is corporate/political language referring to something related to the Gay, Lesbian, Bi-sexual, or Transgender (GLBT) lifestyle.

I started mentally preparing myself for what I might hear and be exposed to. I was ready to hear the word “tolerance” or synonymous words used frequently as well as I was prepared to take notes so that I could accurately represent what went on. I was tipped off by a co-worker, and brother in the Lord, that one of the overarching themes of the training was the concept that the issue of someone being transgendered is a physiological condition. This means that, in the mind of those providing the training, it is a reality based on nature, not the nurture, of an individual.

So, pen in hand, I went into the training/indoctrination session, and I emerged 90 minutes later with a very different reaction than I had anticipated…but I will get to my reaction later.

Here are some of the presuppositions that were communicated (basically presented as facts, whether or not they are). One of the key things that you’ll notice is that much of the concepts or arguments are based upon the initial definitions.

  • A transsexual is a person who is undergoing or who has previously undergone a “sex change” with or without an operation.
  • The term “transgender” refers to anyone whose gender identity or gender expression falls “outside of the stereotypical gender norms.”1
  • Gender identity is how someone perceives themselves. If I think of myself as a man, that is what I am (and visa versa).
  • Sex is defined as the physical form and function that a person is born with that is determined by chromosomes (xx for women or xy for men) and it is influenced by hormones and is evidenced by anatomy.
  • Gender is defined as a component of ones identity, or the maleness/femaleness of a person. Basically, this is how a person sees his or herself.
Therefore, a transsexual is a person who falls into the following categories:
  1. An individual with the physical identity of one sex and the gender identity (mental) of another.
  2. A person born with the body of a male or female but the gender identity of the other.
  3. A person who is taking or has taken steps to align both identities.
Are you confused yet? I was and I still am. It is confusing to say the least. However, it is clear that there is one big thrust, and that is separating the factors that deal with maleness or femaleness. Separating gender from sex and making them two distinct and, basically, necessarily unrelated is pivotal to any of the ideas that were being communicated. It seems utter foolishness to make distinctions that hold basically equal weight, although it was later communicated that the “gender” distinction trumps the “sex” distinction.

In order to develop the groundwork for the presupposition of gender identity, the person who led our training said that in most cultures maleness and femaleness are expressed in distinct ways. For example, in some cultures, the men are the hunters and protectors and the women are the soft caretakers, but this “can vary from culture to culture.” Really? Perhaps I am mistaken, but I have never heard of a culture, except on Star Trek or some other fictional story, where the women were the strong protectors instead of the men.

It was then presented as a scientific fact that gender identity is “set” in a person between 18 months and three years of age. I was greatly troubled by this statement, and so I hastily scrawled a question in my notes, “How do we know this?” The scientific reasoning behind this “fact”, as it was communicated to me, came as a result of one very tragic story and a scientific observation. The story is as follows:

A set of identical twin boys were born in the 1960’s. The boys were circumcised, but the doctor botched one of the procedures so much so that the boy’s genitals were, basically, destroyed. After this occurred, the parents were presented with different options for how to proceed. The option that they went with was to have the boy surgically altered to appear as a girl. They gave the boy girl clothing, girl toys, and treated him as a girl because, as far as they were concerned, he was a girl now. However, this child wanted to play with boy toys and wanted to act as other boys do. Fast forward to this child who is now a very troubled, rebellious, and confused teenager, and the parents decide to tell this child the truth. Other than being enraged, the child decides to be surgically altered back to look like a boy. The tragic recounting of this story concluded with the fact that at age 39, this man committed suicide.

The scientific observation is that, supposedly, a certain portion of the brain (where, allegedly, the gender identity information comes from) of transsexual women (men who perceive themselves as women) is more similar to that of the average woman than the average man. Therefore, they guessed that something happens while the child is in the mother’s uterus (heightened stress of the mother) that causes various enzymes to get into the child that causes this change of the brain.2 Again, I don’t know whether or not this is “provable”, and that is not even my main concern, but it sounds woefully far fetched. One of the correlating facts that they used was there seemed to be a spike of transgendered people following armed conflicts (World War II, Korea, and Vietnam). The hypothesis is that women who were concerned for their husbands had excess stress that then transferred to the child in the womb creating this transgendered person, or an environment where this can take place.

One question arose in my mind, and that was that if it were common to have this occur after periods of time when husbands were gone fighting and the wives were both unsure if the husband would come home as well as having to assume all of his domestic duties, why was this not more common in previous times? Just looking at the historical nature of the biblical accounts of the Hebrew people, there was almost an annual ‘season’ of war that was frequent enough to be anticipated (2 Samuel 11:1). And if this scientific hypothesis is true, then why wouldn’t there have been an epidemic of this type of sexual confusion? You might point out that there was rampant homosexuality in the ancient world (Greek and Roman empires) as well as being notable by one of the most terrifying Bible stories (Sodom and Gomorrah). However, there was no small distinction or articulated difference between sexual orientation (heterosexuality or homosexuality) and gender identity. Therefore, the presence of this kind of behavior in the Bible and in history does not have any necessary correlation to the presence of transgendered people.

If you are wearied by all of this information and the foolishness of it all, you and I are on the same page. I only have a few more things to recount before I proceed to my reaction. We were told that a transsexual is not someone who “just thinks” that they are a different gender than what they were born with. This seemed to be directly contradictory to the entire portion of the training session prior to this. I voice this concern to the facilitator and was given the answer of,”they don’t ‘think’ that they are a different gender, they ‘know’ it.” Huh? So the distinction and the issues that were made were based on a very tenuous basis of the difference between “thinking” and “knowing” something.

I didn’t ask, but I wonder if I expressed the fact that I know that Jesus is God and unless each person repents of their own sins against Him and trusts completely in Jesus Christ alone for salvation, God will condemn them to eternal torment in Hell. I doubt that this expression of what I know would be accepted on anything near the same level as that of a transgendered person’s sexual identity.

The final question that was addressed was the question, “Can this condition be treated?” The answer was the source of the majority of my concerns. The answer was a compound one. Yes it can be treated by taking the steps to align one’s own identity - transitioning from one gender to another. No it cannot be treated or cured because the psychological identity is permanent.

With all of the focus on someone’s internal wiring toward one gender or another (much less one “orientation” or another), I must say that I could care less if transgender or homosexual problems are primarily genetic and physiological or if they have more to do with the environment and learned behaviors. This might be a bit shocking to those (myself included) who think that this has virtually nothing to do with genetic or other physiological predispositions.

Let’s just assume for a minute that homosexuality or transgendered identity is rooted in physiology or genetics. Does that change the call of Christ to mankind through Scripture? Absolutely not! It is no secret that men are somewhat naturally more promiscuous (or disposed to being so) than women. Men, regardless whether born again or not, have a fleshly pull to be promiscuous. If you ask 100 men, the vast majority will affirm this truth, and the small dissenting portion are most likely lying for any number of reasons. Why bring this up? Well, if I, or any other man, were to act on how we are naturally wired in the same uninhibited fashion that transgendered or homosexual individuals do, there would be no families as we know it. There would be no monogamous marriage. This would be disastrous on so many levels. Since God knows that men naturally (because of sin) have a tendency to not be monogamous, does he give men a “pass” on that lifestyle choice? No, He calls men to be celibate before marriage, and a one-woman man during marriage. He tells us to deny our desires that He has shown to be sinful.

“Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, e must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.’” (Matthew 16:24)

Over time, the power of the pull to sin in some ways is lessened. Not necessarily because sin is less powerful, but it is because we are growing in holiness and the things of God are becoming more and more attractive to us while sin is seen for being more and more vile. I do not believe, however, that I (nor any man for that matter) will ever arrive at the point where the possibility of sinning in this way (whether adultery of the heart or the playing out of that thought in action) is not a real danger. But, we are not left to fend for ourselves in this fight…

“No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13)

The origin of the “pull” to be homosexual or to have a different gender than what you were born with is no less or no more sinful than the “pull” to be heterosexually adulterous, lying, and covetous for anyone else. All are sinful, and all must be denied for the sake of the gospel.

“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 6:11)

This Bible verse kept coming to mind once this statement was uttered in that training session. I was so saddened by the lie that says that there is no treatment or cure. This lie holds the deceived in a vice of deception and sin with no hope and many times no desire, of escape. It makes me very sad to think that some of the people who are trapped in this lie have probably heard the gospel, or some portion of it, and never bowed the knee to it. Or worse, some of these people may have heard a distorted gospel, proclaiming Jesus as savior without understanding that it is not just this sin that they are guilty of and need forgiveness of, or they have been fooled by the false gospel of “inclusion” where this issue doesn’t matter, and have rejected the former or embraced the latter.

I am saddened because, for all of the motivations of love and tolerance that people really feel that they have, we were told that there is a 50% death rate in transgendered individuals before the age of 30 (including a seemingly high proportion of suicide). So, if campaigns such as the one that I went through are successful, and our society is paved to facilitate and not hinder or question this type of transition, then at best we can hope that people in this situation live to be 70, 80, or 90 and then die of natural causes. But what then? The Bible is clear that a lifestyle sexual perversion is an abomination before God and those who practice this will not inherit eternal life. As it stands now, these individuals live for maybe 30 years if they’re fortunate. They need the gospel of salvation and of being made new. They need the gospel that has saved all kinds of people, even people who were formerly in the throws of this, or similar, wretched and sinful living.

Who knows how anyone will react to the gospel? Most people who look, act, and talk “normally” reject the gospel with anger and hatred. But we are to bring the gospel to them because Christ commanded us to. So, in the same manner, we are to preach the gospel to those who don’t look, act, or talk “normally” too.

1 i.e. Men dressing as men, living as men, being intimate with only women, or women dressing as women, living as women, and being intimate with only men.

2 During the session, one of my co-workers asked if a CAT scan was used to determine if someone was really transgendered or not. The facilitator said that people weren’t tested like this, but they were asked a series of questions where the answers show how a person thinks. Now, I am not a scientist, but if I begin to think a certain way and know how other people react, my answers can pretty much match up with them, regardless of my physiology.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

...like a vapor

As a suburbanite who works in downtown St. Paul, I get my fair share of driving experiences. Also, as someone who parks quite far away from the actual building where I work (it is less expensive); I have my fair share of pedestrian experiences. What experiences? I’m talking about accidents or, thankfully in my case, near accidents.

In my five and a half years of making this type of commute, I have only been involved in one accident, and it was a small (virtually insignificant) one at that. However, I cannot even guess the amount of close calls that I have had in that time and most of these have occurred when I was a pedestrian having to evade an oncoming car. Even before any close calls occurred, I remember thinking that I’m more likely to get hit during my one mile walk to and from my car each day than I am to be involved in a serious car accident where I am a driver. Because of this thought, I have been very careful not to tempt oncoming traffic by making unwise decisions. Basically, I cross at crosswalks when I have a green (or white) light.

The most memorable close call that I’ve had when walking happened just a week or so ago when I was crossing the intersection of Wabasha & 7th St in St. Paul. Basically (looking at the picture), I was attempting to go from point #1 to point #2 crossing Wabasha (1 way street going North). Now, I must stress that I had a white walk signal while I was doing this. What happened was that while I was in the middle of the road, car “A” turned left onto Wabasha. This car came pretty quick and I had to slow down (actually stop) in the middle of the road in order to avoid being struck by this car. Then, no more than a few seconds later, car “B” did the same, thing except I had to significantly quicken my pace (run) forward to avoid being clipped by it.

Now, when I avoided the first car, I just pseudo-glared at the driver with (what I imagine) was my fatherly “that was uncalled for” face. But when I was forced to avoid the second driver, I yelled at the top of my lungs a forceful “Watch out! Pedestrian!” I am always thankful that I’m not carrying any sort of baseball, rock, or other item because I would likely throw it at the vehicle in my moment of excitement.

In retrospect, it is a testimony to how frequently I have to avoid oncoming cars that the first car only received a glare from me and not a vocal admonition to be more careful. Also, I must stress again that I make it a point to wait for any and all lights at the intersections unless there are no cars anywhere near. I do so because I don’t want to end up getting hit, and definitely not if it is my fault.

Fast forward to today. It started snowing around 6AM today, and my goal was to be at work by 7AM. Well, I left my home just after 6AM and quickly realized that I would not make it to work anywhere near my goal. So, I found myself traveling south on 35E just passing under Maryland at 8AM. I was on the phone with my wife (using my hands free headset so as to be safe on the road) when I noticed that a snow plow was coming onto 35E from Maryland. Looking at the picture, I was about horizontally in line with the small red arrow on the onramp while the snowplow was basically where that same red arrow is. Judging by the speed of the plow, my speed, and the road conditions (bad) I decided to let him in front of me. No sooner had he pulled onto the road in front of me did I notice that there were two others behind him. At this point, I had no real option of slowing down or switching lanes (the first plow had already done that), so I just kept my speed going at the rate that the traffic had been moving and was going to slowly speed up.

No sooner had I made this decision than the second plow sped past me, honking his horn. This would not have been that bad if he hadn’t been so close. I had to swerve out of his way while trying to avoid the plow in the lane to my left as well as without losing control on the slippery freeway. So, looking at the picture, I was the thicker red arrow on I35, and it was about at that point where the second plow cut me off. Now, I realize that this is not to scale, but that might give an idea of the setting.

I realize that God spared my life today. I told my mother about this near encounter and she asked how I was doing. I said something to the effect of, “Well, life is truly like a vapor, and sometimes…I guess, God has a way of reminding us of just how precarious our situation is.” Glory to God that he saved me today. I can’t imagine the trauma that my wife would have gone through if I were injured or killed today. Any trauma would have been amplified by the fact that we were talking when it would have happened.

Holy God, may I be ever ready to come into your presence. Whether I come from a hospital bed when I am dying of age or some disease, or if I am killed in an instant with no inclination of what was about to occur, or if I am in a position where I see my death (whether painful or somewhat painless) approaching rapidly in the prime of my life…. May I be ready to come into your presence on the basis of Jesus’ righteousness. And between this day and that, may I live in such a way as to run the race to obtain the prize. For at no time would you be unjust in ending my life, or the lives of those on this earth who I love the most. May my attitude be that of Job. “Naked I came from my mother's womb, And naked I shall return there. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away. Blessed be the name of the LORD.” (Job 1:21)

Honda Del Sol - the car that I drive to and from the city in.The snow plow - as close to scale as compared with the Del Sol

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Internet Pornography – a "Piperism"

One of my most beloved Bible teachers, John Piper, was treading through Romans 7 and discussing the topic of sin. Piper is dealing with a few different objections, but one that comes up by critics (now and during his time) is that someone needs to you can only about sin if you’ve participated in it. Or, you can only know the weight of the temptation of sin if you’ve been enslaved to it.

Piper does a good job of destroying this ridiculous objection by painting a picture of different people struggling with this temptation.

“No, you don't need to experiment with particular sins in order to know the power of sin in your life. Think of it this way. Someone says: How can you really know the power of the temptation to lust – say to look at Internet nudity – if you've never given in and experienced it? Let me give an answer in a parable. There are three men – women, you supply the necessary changes to make the parable fit your situation – and each of the three stands beside a pit of lewdness and sin. Three ropes extend out of the pit, one bound around each man's waist. The strength of this narrow cord is one-hundred-pound test.

The first man begins to be pulled into the pit that looks exciting, but that he knows is deadly. Five pounds of pressure, ten pounds, fifteen pounds. He resists and fights back. Twenty pounds, twenty-five. He digs in his heels with all his might. Thirty pounds, thirty-five pounds, and the rope starts to squeeze and he stops resisting and jumps in. Click goes the mouse button.

The second man begins to be pulled into the pit. Five pounds of pressure, ten pounds, fifteen pounds. He resists and fights back. Twenty pounds, twenty-five pounds. He digs in his heels. Thirty pounds, thirty-five pounds, and the rope starts to squeeze. He says, No! and fights back. Forty pounds, forty-five pounds, fifty pounds, fifty-five pounds. It's harder to breathe as the rope tightens around his stomach and it begins to hurt. Sixty pounds, and he stops resisting and jumps into the pit. Click.

The third man begins to be pulled into the pit. Five, ten, fifteen, twenty, twenty-five pounds of pressure. He resists and fights back. Thirty, thirty-five, forty, and the rope starts to squeeze. He says, No! and fights back. Fifty pounds, sixty. It's harder to breathe as the rope tightens around his stomach and begins to hurt. Seventy pounds and his feet start to slip toward the pit. He cries out for help, and reaches out to grab a branch – shaped like a cross. In the distance he sees his wife going about her business, trusting him; he sees his children playing, and in their hearts admiring him. And beyond them all, he sees Jesus Christ with a gash in his side standing, with both hands lifted and fists clenched and smiling. And filled with passion, the third man holds fast. Seventy-five, eighty, eighty-five pounds, and the rope cuts into his sides and the pain stabs. Ninety, ninety-five and the tears flow unbidden down his cheeks. One hundred and the rope snaps. No click.

Question: which of these men knows the full power of temptation?

If this were a message on lust I would look around this room and say, "Are there any soldiers here? Does anyone in this room have blood on his shirt and scars on his side? Do you know the power of temptation? Or do you just jump in before its power is spent?"1
No one “trips” and “stumbles” or “falls” into pornography. Sure, if you’re surfing the web for something innocuous, you may land on something vile, but that first unintended hit is the temptation. It is the subsequent leering and voyeurism of pornography that is not just a stumbling into sin…but it is jumping into it.

Later in the above sermon, Piper made it clear that the words describing the men going into the pit were “jump” because you don’t accidentally trip onto your mouse button. This issue of misusing the Internet (specifically) or other forms of media for the purpose of sexual immorality is so pervasive to the culture that it is truly troublesome. It wouldn’t be so bad if it were just the pagans acting like pagans, but there is every reason to believe that just as many people who identify themselves as born again Christians regularly dive into this type of sinning.

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, and while this picture may be a little trite, I hope that you catch the eternal truth conveyed by it.

“If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; 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 1:6,7)

1 “The Importance of Knowing Our Sin” by John Piper (April 1, 2001) http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/Sermons/ByDate/2001/50_The_Importance_of_Knowing_Our_Sin/

Thursday, February 01, 2007


“Pearl Harbor survivor Houston James of Dallas embraced Marine Staff Sgt. Mark Graunke Jr. during a Veterans Day commemoration in Dallas yesterday.  Graunke lost a hand, a leg, and an eye when he defused a bomb in Iraq last year.  This week’s images of U.S. troops in combat in Fallujah deepened the day’s significance for many who attended tributes held in San Diego and across the nation.”

I recently received an e-mail with the picture (to the right) on it. The caption is somewhat hard to read, but it says,

“Pearl Harbor survivor Houston James of Dallas embraced Marine Staff Sgt. Mark Graunke Jr. during a Veterans Day commemoration in Dallas yesterday. Graunke lost a hand, a leg, and an eye when he defused a bomb in Iraq last year. This week’s images of U.S. troops in combat in Fallujah deepened the day’s significance for many who attended tributes held in San Diego and across the nation.”
This is a truly moving story and picture that causes all Americans to be even more grateful for our soldiers. That being the case, I want to address the text of the e-mail that was sent along with this picture and show how I think that it is ultimately not honoring to God, and it may even be blasphemous. But in doing so I want to make it clear that I hold the men and women who have served, fought, bled, died or have been maimed with only respect and gratitude.

The e-mail was one of those forwards that insists that you send it out to everyone (or a certain number of people). Most of these types of e-mails say that you need to forward it to receive good luck, to avoid bad luck, or some other type of superstitious mumbo-jumbo. Here is the text that came along with the e-mail:
"We truly take a lot for granted. Forget the football "heroes" and movie "stars". Pass this on so that all may know the price of freedom. Only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you, Jesus Christ and the American Soldier. One died for your soul; the other for your freedom."

Did anything about the comparison made between Jesus and an American soldier? First of all, from a purely biblical and theological perspective, comparing anything with God is utterly unthinkable. Now, I know that we use stories, parables, and other types of creative ways to communicate the message of the gospel, but none seem to be as crass as this is.

The equivocation of the sacrifice that Jesus made for our souls with the sacrifice an American soldier made for our freedom is shocking and upsetting. First of all, do I am very grateful that American servicemen who’ve fought and died on behalf of people (both American and of other nationalities). In fact, if it wasn’t for American soldiers, the world as we know it would be very different because Hitler would have crushed the rest of Europe. So, my consternation at the parallel has nothing to do with a dislike or disrespect for servicemen, but it has everything to do with Jesus being shown in a disrespectful manner.

You see, to put anyone at all on a similar plain with Jesus is a troubling, and most likely incorrect, thing to do. But, the audacity to put someone on a similar plain with Jesus in what He accomplished through His singular voluntary sacrifice on behalf of an unworthy sinful humanity is utterly offensive. It is not only the state of sinful humanity that makes this equivocation reprehensible, but the fact that Jesus Christ is, and was, perfectly holy that only punctuates this flaw.

Other than having a very blasphemous comparison as the core of the seemingly encouraging exhortation to appreciate both Christ and our servicemen is the problem with the theology of the distinction in who died for what. The Bible is clear, in the Old (Isaiah 61:1) and New Testament (Galatians 5:1), that one of the effects of God’s salvation that was accomplished through Jesus Christ was freedom.
“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners;” (Isaiah 61:1)
“It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1)
Christ died for, and accomplished, both the forgiveness of sins and the freedom from sin for all of those who are called by God (Ephesians 1:4; 1 Peter 1:1b-2).

So, we should be thankful and grateful for all that the men in arms have done on our behalf so that we can enjoy life and freedom in America. But as Christians, we must always hold Christ higher than anyone or anything in what we say or do. We must never fall into the trap of casually referring to Jesus in either our off hand comments or our well intentioned stories or illustrations.

By no means am I guiltless in this same light of scrutiny, but it is my goal to always contend for the supremacy of Christ in all things, and that is why I attempt to censor how I communicate (or think) about God in relation to anything else.

Copyright © 2005-2010 Eric Johnson