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Volume 2, Issue 11:

Faking Love and Making Love


All sorts of hearers come to this place, and they will be the first to say, "The preacher should not mention such a subject as fornication." My answer to that remark is, "Then you should not commit such iniquity, and give me reason to speak of it."
- Charles Spurgeon
Spurgeon At His Best
We use a most unfortunate idiom when we say, of a lustful man prowling the streets, that he "wants a woman." Strictly speaking, a woman is just what he does not want. He wants a pleasure for which a woman happens to be the necessary piece of apparatus. How much he cares about the woman as such may be gauged by his attitude to her five minutes after fruition (one does not keep the carton after one has smoked the cigarettes).
- C.S. Lewis
The Four Loves
Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell...
- 1 Corinthians 10:8
There are highly respectable men and women who would never dream of committing an act of adultery, but look at the way in which they enjoy sinning in the mind and in the imagination. We are dealing with practical matters, we are dealing with life as it is...How often do men sin by reading novels and biographies. You read the reviews of a book and find that it contains something about a man's misconduct or behavior, and you buy it. We pretend we have a general philosophical interest in life, and that we are sociologists reading out of pure interest. No, no; it is because we love the thing; we like it. It is sin in the heart; sin in the mind!
- Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Studies in the Sermon on the Mount
Concerning homosexuality: This once brought hell out of heaven on Sodom.
- Charles Spurgeon
Spurgeon at His Best
Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor catamites, nor sodomites...will inherit the kingdom of God.
- 1 Corinthians 6:9-10
My child, be not lustful, for the path of lust leads to sexual promiscuity; neither be obscene in speech nor have roving eyes, for from all of these are born adulteries.
- Anonymous
The Didache
Since then we are a holy portion, let us accomplish all that pertains to holiness; fleeing from slander, vile and impure embraces, drunkenness and rebellion and filthy lusts, destestable adultery and foul arrogance.
- Clement of Rome
Epistle to the Corinthians
The unclean person makes himself a stigmatic; he brands his body, and leaves upon it a loathsome stain. Other sins comparatively are without the body, by it, not in it; this both...
- William Jenkyn
Exposition of the Epistle of Jude


Entertainment Standards

By Douglas Wilson

Suppose, one afternoon, one of your neighbors came to your door and said something like this.

"Mary and I would like to invite you over this evening..."
"Why, thank you!" you say, innocently enough.
"Wait, wait, that's not all. We would like to invite you to come into our bedroom and watch us while we have sex. It could be a really exciting time for all of us."
You recoil in horror. "Jane and I couldn't do that. You see, we're Christians."
"Oh, I see," he says, scratching his head. "That could be a little much. I'll tell you what! We have a video camera. Why don't you let us tape our lovemaking session, and I'll just bring it over in the morning. You could then watch whenever you wanted."
You explain that this wouldn't be possible either.
"I don't understand," he says, with a puzzled look. "Last week you invited us over and we all watched that movie on your VCR. It had a couple of really good bedroom scenes in it. Why are you willing to watch another's man wife, but not mine? Mary may not be the best looking..."
It is at this point that you interrupt and explain that Mary's looks have nothing to do with it. You go on to explain that you are not ordinary Christians. You belong to that special breed hypocrites.
Is hypocrisy too strong a word? I don't believe so. Many Christians are willing to watch, by means of a movie camera, what they wouldn't dream of watching in person. You couldn't get them into a topless bar, and yet they cheerfully go to films where they see far more.
Would most Christian men be willing to be peeping Toms, roving the neighborhood? Certainly not. But what if they discovered a woman who knew of their presence and was willing to undress in front of the window? That would be worse. What if she were paid to do all this? Worse and worse. And if she is paid lots of money, has a producer and director, does all this for the movie cameras, and has millions of men drooling at her window sill? Ah, that's different...
This sort of thing is justified and excused on the basis of contemporary standards. Christians don't want to be different in what they watch. They don't want to admit that their discipleship applies to this area. They also don't want to admit that sexual activity or nudity on the screen is sexually exciting for them.
But those who deny that such things affect them are simply fooling themselves. There is no way to watch for entertainment an act of copulation or a display of nudity without being harmed in some way. Now there are men who deny that such things affect them. Such denials come from two kinds of men. The first group are liars. They are either lying to themselves, or to you, and most probably to both. The man is excited or aroused by what he sees, but he knows it is not socially acceptable to say so. So he comes out of the theater thus: "That was a good movie. Shame about that one scene, though." In his heart, he thought that one scene was the best part.
There is another man who denies that it affects him, and he is telling the truth. But why is he not aroused? Because his heart is hard, and his conscience has been seared. He is so deadened in conscience that it would take a lot more than that to get him going.
But the heart can be very deceitful; there is a third way to sin in all this. These men respond to this type of immorality by recognizing the impact that it has, and attempting to use it. People, even Christians, frequently justify viewing or reading immoral material by saying that it helps them in their sex lives at home. You know, "it doesn't matter where you get your appetite as long as you eat at home." This approach at least has the virtue of honesty; there is an admission that sexually explicit material is sexually exciting. There are two responses to be made to it.
The first is to point out that the Bible expressly tells men where their satisfaction and excitement should be. I was once talking to a Christian man about the sort of films he watched. He justified himself in this way: "When I see another woman's body in a film, I imagine my wife's face on her." The Bible clearly contradicts this kind of thinking: ...and rejoice with the wife of your youth...let her breasts satisfy you at all times; and always be enraptured with her love (Prov.5:18-19).
This means that a man should see to it that his wife alone is the basis of his sexual excitement and satisfaction. Other women, whether in films, books, or magazines, must not be the source of his arousal. As soon as other women get into the act, then Christ's prohibition applies: But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Matt. 5:28).
The second answer denies that this will help couples in their sex lives. The introduction of others into a sexual relationship (whether the others are twodimensional or not) is only a source of longterm frustration. This is because it introduces comparisons, and comparisons are destructive in the husband/wife relationship.
But notice that I am not denying the shortterm excitement that this introduces. If it were not exciting, then people wouldn't do it. My point is that short-term excitement and intensity do not justify a practice.
Ten women can give a man a better time sexually than one women can. But they cannot bring up his children better than one woman can. A pornographic foldout may be better looking than the average man's wife. But she is not more productive and fruitful. And what are we here for?
A couple can gain shortterm excitement from movies, books or magazines that range from suggestive to explicit. But that does not make it right. Lust always demands more excitement always "more, more!" Consequently, lust is the attempt to get from a finite thing what only the infinite can provide.
The tradeoff for this excitement is long-term frustration and dissatisfaction. The woman knows that she is not as wellendowed as some of these performing cows of Bashan. The man knows that he does not have the sexual stamina that such materials say a stud should have. Both the man and the woman have agreed to a lie.
So sex is not what they now believe it to be. But because the couple has agreed with the lusters that whatever you have is "not enough," they will always be dissatisfied with what they have.
The center of the matter is this: in order to be under the blessing of God we must accept our limitations. If they are accepted properly, they are recognized as a blessing.
What are some of these limitations? A man is limited to one woman. A man is limited to a finite amount of sexual pleasure. He is limited, and all such limitations are a great blessing from God. In short, it is good to be a creature. Those who recognize that how we think has long-term consequences will realize that this, and only this, is a defense of sexual pleasure.
Men in rebellion against God have trouble understanding the importance of the distinction between the Creator and the creature. This is because all rebellion against God is rooted, ultimately, in a desire to replace Him. Men do not just want to flee from the authority of God; they want to topple Him.
This may not mean there is always a conscious desire to overthrow the Creator. Nor does it mean that God is worried about the possibility of their success. But it certainly means that, whether conscious or not, these unsuccessful attempts to "become as God" will result in chaos in the lives of the rebels.
A good example of this is the nature of lust. The central problem with this sin is the steadfast refusal to tolerate limits. As mentioned above, lust is the desire to receive from a finite thing what only the infinite can provide. It seeks to elevate the created (sex) to the level of God.
But because we are finite, our sexual pleasures are also finite. This means that there has to be an end to it. But lust is incapable of saying "enough." There must always be something else, something more. There is pleasure but never satisfaction.
It is for this reason that lust will always lead to various perversions. Once all the possible pleasure has been squeezed out of the finite sexual limits given to us by God, lust demands new territory. The fact that the new territory is hostile to true sexual pleasure does not deter the person in the control of the lust. He charges ahead, little knowing that he is destroying the thing he worships.
In 1 Thessalonians 4:35, Paul states, For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God...
Notice how Paul connects sexual morality with a knowledge of God. If the infinite God of the Bible is denied, then at some point (at least in the minds of rebellious men), something must replace Him.
For those in the grip of lust, the created thing they idolize is sexuality. And the fate of this created thing is the same as all other created things promoted to "Deity." Incapable of becoming God, it only becomes a twisted creature, which is then worshipped and served by its devotees other twisted and bent creatures. But this idol, like all idols, will one day topple and fall.
The Bible tells us to be renewed in our minds. We must learn to think differently about the way we live, and we must never forget that our sexual nature constitutes a sizeable portion of that life. Because of this, Christians should avoid any compromise with the world at this point. In other words, we should be different or as the Bible puts it, holy.


Incarnation

Terry Morin

Incarnation. Let's see, that's what you do with people when you put them in prison, right? Wrong. The incarnation, that of the eternal Word of God taking on flesh, is a central truth of biblical Christianity (1 Timothy 3:16). According to the Apostle John, the doctrine of the incarnation is the litmus test for testing the spirits (1 John 4:1-3). Sounds important. Unfortunately for most of us, the only thought we give to the fact of "the Word made flesh" is in the context of a commercial and sentimental season called Xmas, now upon us.

While there is probably no way to escape the images thrust at us (you know, cute, chubby babies), minds in the middle of renewal could do with some sanctified rumination on the mystery of the God-man. Though there are frequent opportunities for this in reading the Gospels, one in particular occurs at the account of the baptism of Jesus (Matt 3:13-17, Mark 1:9-11, Luke 3:21-23).
To help your thoughts along I have appended, below, a portion of a sermon on the baptism of Jesus by an unknown of the third or fourth century, thought by some to be John Chrysostom, who introduced Christmas into the eastern church in 386 AD. The sermon was structured as a fictional conversation between John and Jesus at the river bank. The portion that follows picks up at Matthew 3:14, and gives expression to what may have been in John's mind when Jesus presented Himself for baptism:
I have need to be baptized by You, and You come to me? You, who was in the beginning, and was with God, and was God; You who are the brightness of the Father's glory; You who are the perfect image of the perfect Father; You who are the true light that lightens every man that comes into the world; You who were in the world and did come where You were; You who were made flesh and yet was not changed into the flesh; You who dwelt among us, and manifested Yourself to Your servants in the form of a servant; You who bridged earth and heaven together by Your holy name, - You come to me? One so great to such a one as I am? The King to the forerunner? The Lord to the servant? But though You were not ashamed to be born in the lowly measures of humanity, yet I have no ability to pass the measures of nature. I know how great is the measure of difference between earth and the Creator. I know how great is the distinction between the clay and the potter. I know how vast is the superiority You possess, who are the Sun of Righteousness, over me who is but the torch of Your grace. Even though You are compassed with the pure cloud of the body, I can still recognize Your lordship. I acknowledge my own servitude, I proclaim Your glorious greatness, I recognize Your perfect lordship, I recognize my own perfect insignificance, I am not worthy to unloose the latchets of Your shoes; and how shall I dare to touch Your stainless head? How can I stretch out the right hand upon You, who stretched out the heavens like a curtain, and set the earth above the waters? How shall I spread those menial hands of mine upon Your head? How shall I wash You, who is undefiled and sinless? How shall I enlighten the Light? What manner of prayer shall I offer up over You, who receives the prayers even of those who are ignorant of You? When I baptize others, I baptize into Your name, in order that they may believe on You, who come with glory; but when I baptize You, of whom shall I make mention? and into whose name shall I baptize You? Into that of the Father? But You have the Father altogether in Yourself, and You are altogether in the Father. Or into that of the Son? But beside You there is no other Son of God by nature. Or into that of the Holy Spirit? But He is ever together with You, as being of one substance, and of one will, and of one judgment, and of one power, and of one honor with You; and He receives, along with You, the same adoration from all. Wherefore, O Lord, You baptize me, if it pleases You; baptize me, the Baptist. Regenerate one whom You caused to be generated. Extend Your dread right hand, which You have prepared for Yourself, and crown my head by Your touch, in order that I may run the course before Your kingdom, crowned like a forerunner, and diligently announce the good tidings to the sinners, addressing them with this earnest call: "Behold the lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world!" O river Jordan, accompany me in the joyous choir, and leap with me, and stir your waters rhythmically, as in the movements of the dance; for your Maker stands by you in the body.


He promises punishment not only to adulterers but to all kinds of fornicators because both depart from the holy ordinance of God, and indeed violate and overturn it by their promiscuity, since there is only one lawful union which is approved by the Name and Authority of God. Since promiscuous and unsettled lusts cannot be controlled without the remedy of marriage he commends it to us and calls it honourable.
- John Calvin
How fair and how pleasant you are, O love, with your delights! This stature of yours is like a palm tree, and your breasts are like its clusters. I said, "I will go up to the palm tree, I will take hold of its branches." Let now your breasts be like clusters of the vine, the fragrance of your breath like apples, and the roof of your mouth like the best wine.
- Song of Solomon 7:6-9
Within marriage, sex is beautiful, fulfilling, creative. Outside of marriage, it is ugly, destructive, and damning.
- John MacArthur
Commentary on Hebrews
"Let the purity of the marriage bed be equally respected by the married and the unmarried; for impurity of every kind is hateful in the estimation of God; and all its perpetrators will assuredly be subjected to the righteous judgment, and will as assuredly meet with the unqualified condemnation, of God." These words are not less applicable to us than they were to those to whom they were originally addressed. From the peculiarities of modern society, especially in large cities, peculiar facilities are afforded both for the commission and the concealment of the sins against which this divine injunction is particularly directed; and it is to be feared that even among the professors of Christianity there are persons who avail themselves of these facilities. If there be any such who may read these pages, in the name of God I assure them that their sin will find them out; and that, however they may cloke these abominations from the eye of man, they must one day be made manifest before the judgment-seat of Christ, and have their final doom determined by that law that declares that "no whoremonger nor unclean person hath any inheritance in the kingdom of God or of Christ." "Let no man deceive you with vain words; for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience."
- John Brown
Hebrews
Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband.
- 1 Corinthians 7:3
In this acceptance of physical sex, the Puritans once again rejected the asceticism and implicit dualism between sacred and secular that had governed Christian thinking for so long. In the Puritan view, God had given the physical world, including sex, for human welfare...Contrary to a popular misconception, the Puritans were not squeamish about physical or erotic contact between couples...the Puritans taught that sex is private, not because it is bad, but because of its inherent nature as a total union between two people who commit themselves to each other permanently...Nowhere do we come closer to the revolutionary core of the Puritans' teaching on sex than in their insistence that married sex is a form of chastity. Catholic doctrine had equated chastity with virginity, a misconception that is still with us...The Protestant poet Edmund Spenser devoted a whole book of his poem The Faerie Queene to a portrayal of chastity, by which he meant abstinence before marriage and "active, honest, and devoted love" after marriage.
- Leland Ryken
Worldly Saints/The Puritans As They Really Were
Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.
- Hebrews 13:4
The crucial process of civilization is the subordination of male sexual impulses and biology to the long-term horizons of female sexuality.
- George Gilder
Men and Marriage


Credenda/Agenda is a publication of Canon Press, which is the literature ministry of Community Evangelical Fellowship, 110 Baker, Moscow, Idaho, 83843; phone: (208) 882-2034; Douglas Wilson, editor.

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