Magazine Articles Credenda|agenda: things to be believed, things to be done Wed, 24 May 2017 02:13:03 +0000 Joomla! 1.5 - Open Source Content Management en-gb What Christian Men Wish Their Wives Knew About Porn 20-1_porn01Whenever porn comes up in a serious discussion between a husband and wife, it is usually because the husband is in the doghouse for looking at some. Because of this, the wife is not usually looking to him for any kind of insight on the nature of his problem—the only thing she wants is a cred­ible apology, one that will enable them to begin rebuilding trust. And this all makes perfect sense.

But they need to talk about the nature of porn sometime—when he can explain the temptation without sounding like a skunk, and she can ask questions without sounding like a naïf, and without taking offense at the answers. The reason for this is that in the midst of “a situa­tion” men will frequently confess to sins that they were not actually committing because any attempt to explain the real sin looks like evasion. And looking evasive is a good way to stay in the doghouse, which he doesn’t want to do. And once things are better, the last thing he wants to do is bring the subject back up.

Porn users can be divided into two main categories. The first is what our society calls an addict, or Scripture calls a slave. The problem is not intermittent or occasional; it is daily and on going. Because the man is a slave to these desires, he has extremely low sales-resistance, and is prob­ably spending a ton of money on his habit. In addition, because he has no self-control, Scripture says that he is like a city without walls (Prov. 25:28). All kinds of pornography are going to carry him off into captivity, and in the end, he’ll be up to his neck in the worst kind of stuff—hard-core, triple-X porn, the whole point of which is the degradation of the image of God in man and woman. This is where his problem dead-ends, and, not surprisingly, it is probably where it started. A man in the grip of this kind of sin likely has a real contempt for women, not an attrac­tion to women. And so a normal sexual relationship within marriage does not provide the help it provides most men. The problem is not sexual desire but rather a pathological attitude toward women—and if a man has this problem, getting married doesn’t fix it. A man like this needs on go­ing pastoral care and real accountability that addresses the underlying problem. A woman married to a man like this could have grounds for divorce (Matt. 19:9), depending on the severity of the problem and his willingness to seek out real help.

The second kind of porn use is a different kind of sin. It is important to note that nothing written here is intended to justify that sin, but rather to explain and contextualize it. Given the widespread availability of porn, and the com­mitment that young Christian men have to refrain from sex until they are married, it is not surprising that many have a recurring problem. Most believe that sanctification in the Christian walk consists of getting mastery over this area of their lives. Later on, after they have married, they are aston­ished to discover that there are other sins too. The solution that God offers to this kind of distracted sexual desire outside of marriage is sex within marriage. “Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband” (1 Cor. 7:2). This is one of the purposes of marriage. To romantics, this might seem a bit callused, but the Bible is clear that within the con­text of love and respect, men and women are supposed to use each other. Paul speaks plainly about the “natural use” of a woman for a man and a man for a woman (Rom. 1:26-27). The temptation to look at forbidden images arises in the same way that a man on a diet is tempted by cookies.

In order to figure out how to resist temptation ef­fectively, a husband and wife need to talk with each other about it, and the kind of conversation I have in mind is not the kind that ordinarily occurs after “an incident.” To the extent that they learn how to talk about it, such incidents will become increasingly unlikely. The point is not to talk about porn until everybody is okay with the milder forms of it, but rather for a husband and wife to learn the real nature of the temptation. Assuming that the husband does not have the problem with misogyny addressed above, and that the couple has a reasonable sexual life together, what’s to talk about? Fruitful topics could include curiosity as distinct from lust, the forbidden fruit catch-22, episodic sexual discontent, laziness, and our members which are on the earth. But each of these requires a column of its own.

]]> (Douglas Wilson) Husbandry: For Husbands Fri, 16 Oct 2009 05:40:08 +0000
Polytheism and Polysexuality When John the Baptist came preaching a message of repentance, one of the more important things that he said was that the axe was laid at the root of the trees (Matt. 3:10). In times of cultural disintegration—a description our generation fits—one of the temptations we face is that of trying to pick up all the rotten fruit on the ground. Because there is so much of it, we think we are doing good when all we are simply doing is well. However many garbage bags we fill, the tree needs to come down. When the founda­tions are destroyed, what can the righteous do (Ps. 11:3)? One of the more important things we can do is to recog­nize that the foundations have been destroyed, and not allow ourselves to get distracted by some of the obscene decorative details in the cornice work, however outrageous they might be.

We often react to the manifestations of contempo­rary polysexuality as though they were the problem, when they are simply glaring symptoms of the problem. Metro­sexuality, sodomy, easy divorce, porn slavery, and trans­gender issues are all sexual manifestations of our reigning polytheism. If there is no unified and authoritative voice concerning our sexual affairs, then why should we behave as though there were a unified voice? And if there are multiple gods at the top of the system, as there currently are in our society, then by definition we can have no unified voice. When all the gods are talking at once, what can we hear?

The Church is currently functioning within this poly­theistic society, and has in large measure accommodated herself to it. The vast majority of Christians in America today do not believe that the Lord Jesus is the king of America, and so they have agreed to limit His claims of sovereignty as though they were authoritative only within the boundaries set by the by-laws of a special group of religious hobbyists, and whose main meetings happen to be on Sunday.

But this is having a destructive effect on sexual mores within the Church. Now I am not speaking here of non-believers who have gotten themselves into a real mess, and who, because they have come to the end of their rope, have turned to Christ. The Church must welcome all such refugees from the world. The problem is that when apostles from the world come and preach to us, they have a ready hearing with all too many sons and daughters of the Church, believers who have grown up in our midst. And when the message is one of sexual liberation (in the area of definitions, not necessarily behavior), the only way it can possibly receive a respectful hearing is if the Church has already made key accommodations with polytheism that prevent such things from being risible. The reason these apostles find professing Christians who are willing to con­sider that they have been a woman trapped in a man’s body, or that what they really need is the tenderness of another woman, or that sexual identities are a social construct, is that we have already abandoned the idea that God designed our bodies Himself, and He is the only authority on what goes where.

At the beginning of every worship service, every Sunday, I lift up my arms as the minister, and I say, “Let us worship the triune God.” Unless there is a massive refor­mation in the Church, one which returns us to the active, faithful, intelligent and evangelical worship of the triune God every Lord’s Day, we are going to continue to face an epidemic of polytheistic sexuality and misbehavior within the Church. And once we get to a certain level, the next step will be to challenge the legitimacy of any resistance to such sexual practices. To identify such lusts and desires as “misbehaviors,” as I just did, may come to be known as a hate crime.

After the triune God created our first parents, He told them to make love. He told them to be fruitful and replen­ish the earth. His word was authoritative over the marriage bed, and as the Creator of sex, He rejoiced over that word. But for those who have adopted the pandemonium of polytheism, that chaos of multiple voices, a similar pattern follows. The will of God or the will of the gods is always assumed to be authoritative over sexual affairs. The triune God says that one man and one woman are to marry one time. The array of gods makes a sexual declaration also. That declaration is, “To each his own.”

Those Christians who want to allow for “pluralism” in our society, while at the same time rejecting the sexual fruit of all pluralism, are setting themselves up for a long and frustrating task. Pluralism is simply the civic name for poly­theism, and once you have polytheism, you don’t have any way to herd the gods together and make them say the same thing. We cannot tell all the gods to strive for likeminded­ness, like they were good little Christians.

In a society where we are worshipping the triune God, we will still have to contend with the world, the flesh and the devil. Right worship doesn’t make temptation go away. The pull of sin would still be strong. What would not be strong is the pull of competing and multiple standards of sexual fulfillment.

]]> (Douglas Wilson) Husbandry: For Husbands Thu, 15 Oct 2009 04:16:39 +0000
Setting Priorities In some cases, the problem is difficult to solve, but it is at least easy to understand. If a wife is going through a period of extreme loneliness, and her husband is spending every evening watching football games, followed by a movie or two, the problem is not hard to identify. He needs to repent and should start doing this instead of that.
But the difficulty is that from such obvious problems like this, godly couples have sometimes drawn simplistic and erroneous conclusions. Priorities are established in our attitudes, and not by our time log. The husband who spent a couple hours watching football when he should have spent a couple hours with his wife distracts us. But the problem is not the two hours, but rather the attitude. For example, a diligent husband leaves for work in the morning to do a whole series of things that are less important to him than his wife is. And he does them all day long. If he is an accountant, he spends more time doing math problems than he spends gazing into his wife’s eyes. If a teacher, he spends more time correcting bad grammar and poor spelling than he spends over a glass of wine, visiting with his wife about the day. In such situations, the time he spends away from his wife is not competing with her—because he is doing all this for her.
A man who spends eight hours a day sharing a cubicle with an annoying co-worker may exchange more words with him than he does with his wife that evening. But that has nothing to do with how his “priorities” are ordered. He loves being with his wife, and does not love being with his co-worker. Unfortunately, spending time with the cute girl you married doesn’t draw a paycheck. Because he wants to feed his family, providing for them—in short, because his priorities are right—he spends a good deal of time away from them.
In this context, a husband’s love for his wife indwells everything he is doing. If he is digging a ditch, then every shovelful of dirt is a gift to his wife, not a replacement for his wife.
The problem with the football-watching husband mentioned earlier is that he is loving himself when he ought to be loving someone else. The problem is not the football, but rather the straightforward selfishness. It is not the two hours away from her, it is the reason for the two hours away from her. And when a husband is taken away from his family for a time, on business or off to war, the absence is a hardship—but it is not a hardship caused by skewed priorities. It is the difference between a woman who loses her husband by death, and a woman who loses her husband because he ditched her. In both cases, the “time away” might be identical, but the second situation is far more difficult to bear because it is the result of sin, the result of perverted priorities. A boy whose father died honorably in battle is fatherless, but it is not a shamed fatherlessness. But a boy who grows up without a dad because one day his dad decided that he didn’t want to be hassled by fatherhood anymore has a double burden to bear. It is same sort of thing in marriage. The central issue is why.
A husband with messed-up priorities is a husband who is being selfish. A husband whose priorities are right is not a man who considers his time to be his own personal possession to be spent as he wills it. This is why one man can disappear into his shop to get away from everybody, and everybody in the family knows it, and the effects of his disappearances are profound. Another man can disappear into his shop because he is building a cabinet for his wife’s birthday, and his absences are included as part of the gift. Another way of putting this is that a man can be giving to his wife whether he is present or absent. And the corollary is that a man can be taking from his wife, whether he is present or absent. The taking can be as potent as the giving, only in a destructive way.
I first learned this many years ago when our kids were still very little. We had bought a little house, a fixer-upper, and it lived up to its status as a fixer-upper. Around that time I realized that when I was reading a book, some fine volume of theology, this was a form of work and provision that was way too abstract for my youngest daughter to understand. But when I had my tools out and was working on (say) paneling the wall of the living room, she could see exactly what I was doing. And I noticed that whenever I was working on the house, she loved to come up and give me hugs—tangible reinforcements of a “go, dad, go” variety. She took the work I was doing as a gift to her, and she responded accordingly. She could see it.
In marriage, when a wife sees that you are giving to her, the gift is not taken as betraying a set of messed-up priorities. When she sees that you are doing nothing of the kind, it is a different matter.]]> (Douglas Wilson) Husbandry: For Husbands Thu, 17 Sep 2009 19:08:26 +0000