Playboy: A Victim of Its Own Success

It would seem like time to rejoice: Playboy will no longer be publishing pictures of nude women in their magazine. Instead, I think it’s time to mourn.

Their decision isn’t based on a change-of-heart towards the dignity of women. Instead, it’s their way of admitting that pornography is so easily accessible today (in large part because of the sexual revolution Playboy fueled) and it’s all free. They lose $3million every year in America because porn is so easy to find for free.

“That battle has been fought and won,” said Scott Flanders, the company’s chief executive. “You’re now one click away from every sex act imaginable for free. And so it’s just passé at this juncture.”

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Worth Your Time 2/13/15

Each Friday I try to provide a few articles that are worth the time of parents and youth workers. These articles span a number of issues, and not all are written by Christians, but they are all “worth your time.” Here’s the latest edition:

The Real Abuse at the Heart of ’50 Shades of Grey’ Kristen O Neal
“Far from ’empowering,’ Fifty Shades seeks to remove agency. Even though it’s supposed to seem ‘sexy,’ the book even includes several instances of rape, where Ana is coerced into or outright forced to have sex. The BDSM community itself has been outspoken on the issue, distancing itself from the horrific lack of safety or consent in the novel: ‘Fifty Shades is not about fun,’ says BDSM practitioner, Sophie Morgan, in The Guardian. ‘It’s about abuse.'”

Sexual Integrity Initiative Walt Mueller & Jason Soucineck
This isn’t a blog post, but a new ministry website that launched today. This site will prove very useful to parents who are looking for resources to help their teenagers develop sexual integrity. My recommendation: Bookmark the site and check it often.

God, Protect My Girls Tim Challies
“As a dad, I pray for each of my kids just about every day, and I take it as both a joy and responsibility to bring them before the Lord. Praying for the kids is a helpful way of training myself to remember that they are his before they are mine, and that any good they experience will ultimately find its source in God himself. And I believe that prayer works—that God hears a father’s prayers for his children, and that he delights to answer those prayers. One of my most common prayers for my girls is a pray for their protection. Here is how I pray for God to protect them.”

You’re Never Going to be Fully Ready Shauna Niequest
“What have you been over-thinking, wiggling like a loose tooth? Are you hiding, planning, and information gathering, because you’re scared to plunge into something new? Are you letting your desire to do it flawlessly keep you from doing it at all?”

Yeah, Well, But What About the Crusades Kevin
“We are right to deplore the cruelty meted out by crusading Christians, but should not ignore their plight.  Christians lands had been captured.  Surely, they thought, this could not stand.  For an American, it would have been as if Al-Qaeda sacked Washington D.C. following 9/11, set up shop for Bin Laden in the White House, and turned the Lincoln Memorial into a terrorist training center.  It would be unthinkable, cowardly even, for no one to storm the city, liberate its captives, and return our nation’s capital to its rightful owners.  We should never excuse the atrocities that occurred under the banner of the cross during the Crusades, but we should, at least, take pause to understand why they set out on what seems to us to be a fool’s errand.”

Is This Love?!

I saw this online yesterday and couldn’t believe that this is what is being taught about love.  Now before you go off and tell me I’m exaggerating, I want you to seriously read this and just imagine what life would look like if the image below really painted a picture about love.  In many ways, this really is the image of love people would see if they watch a lot of TV and movies and don’t have any healthy examples to observe in their real lives.

Now compare that portrait of “love” to what the Apostle Paul says about love in 1 Corinthians 13.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.”

Tim Challies provides a really helpful blog post the other day that’s relevant here: 8 Bullet Points on Marriage.  Love and Marriage are not toys to play with, but deep and rich longings that must not be made cheap and easy.

Finally, I’d like to recommend you to read Jared Wilson’s post here named: “10 Things Young Singles in Romantic Relationships Ought to Know.”  Here’s a little taste of what he writes:

1. It’s not bad to want to have sex with your significant other. It’d be another sort of worry if you didn’t. The key is to want to glorify Christ more than you want to have sex with each other.

4. Nearly every Christian I know who is married to an unbeliever loves their spouse and does not necessarily regret marrying them, but has experienced deep pain and discontent in their marriage because of this unequal yoking and would now never advise a believer to marry an unbeliever.

8. Pre-marital sex wounds a young woman’s heart, perhaps imperceptibly at first but undeniably over time, as she trades in covenant benefits without covenant security. This is not the way God designed sex to fulfill us.

10. You are loved by God with abundant grace in Christ’s atoning work, and an embrace of this love by faith in Jesus provides Holy Spiritual power and satisfaction to pursue relationships that honor God and thereby maximize your joy.

How Should Christians View the “Day of Silence?”

(Updated 4/15/15)

The “Day of Silence” is a student-advocacy movement in support of the LGBT community.  Over the last few years this movement has grown and picked up more momentum.

This post is written with a few people in mind: The Christian teen who is wondering, “Should I participate? What do I say when people ask me why I’m not participating?” I’m also thinking about parents and other youth workers who want to talk about this movement with their teens.

What is the Day of Silence?
This is a day where students take a vow of silence in order to advocate for LGBT rights. The official website for the Day of Silence says,

GLSENs Day of Silence is a national day of action in which students across the country vow to take a form of silence to call attention to the silencing effect of anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in schools.

…Organizing a Day of Silence (DOS) activity or event can be a positive tool for change-both personally and community-wide. By taking a vow of silence, you’re making a powerful statement about the important issue of anti-LGBT bullying, and when you organize others to join you that message becomes stronger.

How Should We Think About the Day of Silence?
I firmly believe that the Bible teaches God’s design for sexuality to be expressed between one man and one woman through the context of marriage.  This is the historic teaching of both Judaism and Christianity.  My intention here is not to convince people about Scripture’s teaching on homosexuality, but to address the “Day of Silence,” so please forgive me for simply throwing these statements out there without defending them.  If you want to look up what the Bible says you can check out: Leviticus 18:22, Romans 1:26-27, 1 Corinthians 6:18, Colossians 3:5 to name a few verses.

While I believe that LGBT inclinations would fall into the category of “sexual immorality,” I also believe that lust, heterosexual sex outside of marriage, and adultery fall under the same judgment.  We should be careful to not ignore our own sexual sins while pointing the condemning finger at others, as our own sin isn’t really that bad but theirs is.  We must remember that all of us, even if you have never struggled with your sexual orientation, still battle sexual temptations.

The “Day of Silence” website gives the following statistics that should break our hearts for LGBT students who daily live in fear:

  • Nearly 9 out of 10 LGBT students experience harassment in American schools each year.
  • 60% of LGBT youth feel unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation.
  • Nearly 1 out of 3 LGBT youth missed school in the past month because of safety concerns

Christians Can Identify With Prejudice and Hatred
Jesus Christ himself was targeted, betrayed and crucified. He suffered the most agonizing of deaths on the cross, which was such a painful and hideous way to die that even the Romans eventually outlawed its use. God identifies with those who are suffering!

As a Christian who loves studying Church History, my mind turns back to all the persecution that Christians have endured throughout history… and still do in MANY places today.  More Christian have been killed because of their faith in the last 100 years than have been killed because of their faith in all of Church History combined.  19 Christians are killed each minute for their faith every day! Visit Voice of the Martyrs for more information about the realities of Christian persecution.

Christians should never be the persecutors. It’s an educated-guess, but I think many who participate in the “Day of Silence” would point to Christians as one of the primary persecutors of the LGBT community.  May we, as Christians, remember the Gospel: that Jesus Christ came to save sinners (that’s all of us!).  May God forgive us for communicating His truth and grace in such a way neglects to show the beauty of God’s love.  Of course, whenever you share that homosexuality is a sin you will be offending people to some degree or another, but we should be careful to remember that the Gospel is “Good News” because there is hope and grace for sinners, even sinners like us.

My intention in sharing this perspective is to call Christians to remember that they are a persecuted group of people in this world.  I don’t believe that we should have a “Day of Silence” for Christians who are being persecuted… but I do believe that remembering the “bigger picture” of Christian persecution should fill us with grace and compassion for members of the LGBT community who live in fear.

Should Christians Participate?
No, I don’t believe that Christians should participate in the “Day of Silence,” but I DO believe that Christians should live and love in such a way that the “Day of Silence” isn’t necessary. Although we cannot agree with their lifestyle, we should support the LGBT community in a way that honors the dignity each of them has as someone who is created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). Many Christian blogs and websites are calling for this to be a “Day of Dialogue.”  Speak honestly and humbly about what the Bible teaches, but live in such a way that people will realize that you’re not speaking as a “holier than thou” Bible-thumper.

Most importantly… pray and point people to the love of Christ.

  • Pray for God to give you wisdom to know how to respond (James 1:5).
  • Pray for your peers who are struggling with their sexual orientation, that they would know how wide and long and high and deep the love of Christ is (Ephesians 3:18).
  • Pray that God would keep you sexually pure and from giving in to temptation (1 Corinthians 10:12-13).

What’s the Deal With ‘Chatroulette?’

In case you haven’t heard of Chatroulette, it’s an online website where people can log in for free to use their computer’s web-cam to “chat” with random people from around the world.  You get randomly paired up with someone else (hence the “roulette”) and choose whether or not to chat with them or move on and get paired up with someone else.

One of Chatroulette’s big dangers is that there’s no filter for sexually explicit material.  It’s not uncommon for nudity on the site and for people to ask ask the person their chatting with to lift up their shirt or pull down their pants.  By and large, the majority of people rumored to be on Chatroulette are guys in various stages of undress… acting “inappropriately” (yes, that means what you think it means).

For this reason I’ve never checked out Chatroulette myself, and I encourage all parents to be very aware of the dangers of letting your son/daughter log onto the site.  I have talked to a number of teenagers about the site, and a few of them have said they’ve checked it out and saw exactly what I described above… but they thought it was a fun and harmless way to pass time while they were bored.

Teens, really think about what you’re exposing yourself to.  Do you believe this is really healthy, harmless fun?  You know better, you know it’s not good… that’s why you wouldn’t dare hop on Chatroulette with your mom/dad in the room!  As Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” If this is what you’re dumping into your heart, take a wild guess what’s going to consume your thoughts and eventually your behavior?

Parents, we need to take our responsibility to protect our sons and daughters from being exposed to this filth.  When sexuality and nudity is seen as “entertaining” and as a “fun way to pass time” then we know we’re playing catch-up!

Install filters on your computers at home and add Chatroulette to the blocked list.  Talk to your teen about the site and ask for his/her opinion on it.  Talk to your teen about sexuality and purity and the role of modesty.  But remember to “talk” and “discuss,” please don’t lecture or get agitated with your son/daughter disagrees.

We need to remember that the world in which our teens are being raised is constantly bombarding them with an opposite view of sexuality.  We need to take a consistent and proactive approach to correct the perverted view on sexuality our kids are being taught while helping our kids understand that sexuality is a good and natural and healthy gift from God.  If you aren’t talking to your kids about sex and sexuality then you are leaving them defenseless against the message our culture is teaching them, please take the risk of uncomfortable conversations… it will be worth it.

Raising Sexually Healthy Children

I just read one of the best articles on CNN I’ve ever read.  “Sex ed in the age of Snooki” is a great reality check for parents, grandparents, teachers, pastors and anyone else who cares about children and teenagers.

The author, Ian Kerner, hits the nail on the head:

“On the surface, I’ve got it easy as a parent—my wife and I have two sons. ‘Boys will be boys’ goes the conventional wisdom. We’ve come to expect—and often excuse—their bad behavior. That means it falls on a girl’s shoulders to have the self-confidence and self-esteem to create and protect boundaries in respect to her sexuality. While I think it’s important to teach girls how to be empowered gatekeepers of their own sexuality, I also believe that we have to focus on the boys, not let them off the hook. If girls operate in the male gaze (both actual and internalized), then we need to change that gaze. Boys need to learn how to see girls differently.”

Dr. Kerner provides some really helpful and practical (but not easy) advice for parents who want to raise sexually healthy children.  I strongly encourage anyone reading this post to read the article linked to above (it’s fairly short too, so it’s not a tall order).

LWAYG: Finishing Strong – David’s (Lack of) Moral Boundaries

Once upon a time there was a King named David.  He was chosen by God directly to be the king because “was a man after the God’s own heart.”  He trusted and obeyed God in all things… for the most part.  Here’s the rest of the story:

“In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem.  One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, “Isn’t this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (She had purified herself from her uncleanness.) Then she went back home. The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, “I am pregnant.””  (2 Samuel 11:1–5)

I notice a few things right away:

  1. David’s Laziness – He shouldn’t have even been in Jerusalem!  He should’ve been awaywith his army instead of playing “hookey” from battle!  We fall into the same trap – laziness breeds temptation.  As the saying goes, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop,” meaning temptations overtake us most frequently when we’re not busy doing what we’re supposed to be doing.
  2. David’s Lust – He thought to himself, “I know what I want and I want it now, and I’m the King… so go get her for me!”  He didn’t think about the consequences or what might happen because of his desires for Bathsheeba, he just wanted her and he wanted her NOW.

We later read about David’s attempt to coverup what he had done by having Bathsheeba’s husband (Uriah) killed in battle.  Clearly he hadn’t thought about what might happen after acting out on his lustful desires.  Eventually, David is confronted by the prophet Nathan, and he repents of his sin and writes Psalm 51 as his prayer of repentance.  As judgment against his sin, the LORD tells David that the baby Bathsheeba will give birth to will not live (note: God specifically explains this as judgment on David for his sin, but we should not make the connection that every baby who dies or is sick is suffering from Divine judgment).

When David is old he has 14 kids whose names are listed in Scripture (4 of them are from Bathsheeba, the rest from his other 6 wives – which is another issue entirely that I don’t have time to address here!).  His family is so dysfunctional that his son Absolom even tries to kill David!  One of the other four potential heirs is killed by a half-brother, and then the oldest remaining son of David-Bathsheeba tries to secretly crown himself king without David’s knowledge.  Solomon, David’s youngest son with Bathsheeba, is chosen and annointed to be the next king by David.

Has anyone else noticed that David shouldn’t have dealt with all this drama because he should’ve never been married to Bathsheeba… she already had a husband! There are a few principles here to keep in mind:

  1. God gives grace when we cross Moral Boundaries, but we often still must live with the consequences of our sin. As my youth pastor used to say when I was a teen, “You can’t put a condom on guilt.”  And guilt may be the “least” consequence we need to face; it may be an STD or a pregnancy or a ‘reputation’ that gets spread about you inschool.
  2. When we break our Moral Boundaries, we must seek repentance. It seems that David learned his lesson:“David had done what was right in the eyes of the LORD and had not failed to keep any of the LORD’S commands all the days of his life—except in the case of Uriah the Hittite”(1 Kings 15:5).  David messed up bad with what he did to Bathsheeba and Uriah, but he repented and obeyed the LORD from then on.
  3. God works through our failures, but He doesn’t dismiss sin and say “Don’t worry about it!” We have a tendency of telling ourselves that God will forgive us anyway, and then we go on and do whatever we want because we know God gives grace.  But when we do this we are treating sin lightly (which God never does) and devaluing the grace of God (which we should never do).

Big Idea: Purity paves the way to Intimacy
Tough Question: Am I establishing and maintaining godly Moral Boundaries
Key Verse: 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8