Wednesday, October 25, 2017

3 Myths about Great Sex






One of, if not the biggest, reason why the word “sex” grabs our attention (as Americans) is because we are dissatisfied with our sex lives. As much sex as it seems we’re getting, you’d think we’d be more than satisfied with it. But we’re not. For a variety of reasons, we feel less than confident in our sex lives.

Everywhere we turn, we see sex. We see it in the checkout lines at the grocery store. We see it all over the internet. And it shows up in seemingly every movie and TV show. Sex is thrown at us like candy.

Unfortunately, because it’s culturally taboo to talk about sex, we’ve received the majority of our sex education from the following three places: magazines, the internet, and movies. In this article, I want to share three myths Amy and I have learned about sex which we believe are causing a lot of sexual dissatisfaction in marriages.

Before I get started, I want you to know that you don’t have to listen to all the voices screaming at you, telling you the way sex is supposed to happen. There isn’t such a thing as “normal” when it comes to sex. Sex is an experience which is intended to be shared between a husband and wife as they grow together in learning more and more about one another.

Myth 1: Sex Works Like in the Movies


You know how it works in the movies: a guy and a girl meet, don’t intend on falling in love, but then one day realize they’re in love, lose all emotional control, and find themselves in bed together having had the best sex of their lives. Because this is the only exposure many of us had to sex before we experienced it ourselves, we thought this was how sex was going to work for us too.

Let’s do a reality check: Real life sex doesn’t work like it does in the movies. Two people who barely know each other don’t just look at each other a certain way, start making out, and then hop into bed together (or a steamy shower for a more dramatic effect). They don’t just magically know what to do to turn each other on. Their clothes don’t just magically fall off. The lube and condoms don’t magically find their way onto and into certain body parts without killing the romantic atmosphere. And unfortunately for OCD’s and germophobes, sex is extremely messy.

If you think sex is going to be as amazing as you fantasize it being in the movies, then you’ll be sorely disappointed. I’m not saying sex can’t be great, because it can be, but it’s a different type of great than the great we fantasize about from watching Nicholas Sparks chick-flicks.

Great sex takes time…a lot of time. Your first sexual experience is going to be far from perfect. But that’s part of what makes it so exciting. It’s all uphill from there! As you and your spouse work together to learn each other sexually, you’ll continue to build a deeper and deeper relational connection with one another.

Myth 2: There Are No Consequences to Sex


It’s easy to just get in and get out, right? You can go out on Saturday night, pick up a random girl, make love back at your place, and then say your farewells the following morning. You can then continue on with your life unscathed by the experience. Think again.

Sex is as much emotional (and spiritual) as it is physical. Certainly you can have pleasurable physical, and even emotional, experiences by having sex with random strangers, but you can’t walk away from a one-night stand, or even a long term relationship, without experiencing both emotional and physical consequences.

I’ll be captain obvious here: sex makes babies. Whether you’re using birth control or not, there’s always a chance of pregnancy. That’s all I’m going to say about that consequence because I want to focus most of my time in this myth on the emotional consequences of sex.

Whether we want it to happen or not, there’s an emotional bond (intimacy) which forms between two people who engage in sexual activities. This consequence can either be helpful or hurtful depending upon the type of relationship you’re in. If you’re in a committed life-long relationship with another person (marriage), the bond which you form with one another during sex will continue to strengthen your marriage in profound ways. On the other hand, if you’re in a non-committed relationship such as an exclusive dating relationship, causal dating relationship, or one-night stand, having sex with another person will bond you to that person in a way that can leave deep emotional wounds.

It’s impossible to avoid the risk of consequences when you choose to have sex.

Myth 3: Experimenting with Other People Makes Sex Better


When you regularly have sex with the same person, you may feel as though it loses some of the luster and mystery it may have had at first. After awhile, your partner may exhaust all the tools in his or her sex tool belt, making sex feel a bit bland, like it’s nothing more than another ritual the two of you perform. To reinvigorate your sex life, you may decide to experiment around with other people (even some married people make the mutual decision to do this).

Switching partners may introduce some variety to our sex lives…at least for a while. But the newness of it will wear off and we’ll be right back in the same predicament. And emotionally, we’ll find ourselves a complete wreck.

Although we can certainly learn a technique or two from other people, the best sex is found when the physical and emotional aspects of it collide. You can learn all the right physical techniques, but they, in and of themselves, can only take the experience so far.

As I mentioned briefly earlier, sex is intended to be discovered and experienced by a husband and wife working together. Taking this adventure together is a bonding experience which will draw them closer together. Sharing these experiences with other people will cause you to miss out on the opportunity to share them with your spouse.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Why I Stopped Accepting Jesus into My Heart




If you’ve spent any time with evangelical Christians, then you’ve no doubt had at least one of them tell you that you need to confess your sins and accept Jesus into your heart. You’re promised that if you do so, you’ll have eternal life in heaven.

Does this sound a little odd to you? In this way of thinking, if you just so happen to come across a Christian who gives you the right words to say and you say them, then you’ll get to spend eternity in heaven. Conversely, if you never meet a Christian or none of your Christian friends pass this very important information along to you, then God will have no choice but to throw you into hell where you’ll be tormented with fire and brimstone for all of eternity.

The basic message being communicated is that our eternal destinies are riding upon confessing our sins and accepting a dude who lived 2,000 years ago into our hearts. When I step back and evaluate it from a logical perspective, it sounds pretty superstitious to me.

Yet, almost two thirds of self-proclaimed Christians believe that they will go to heaven when they die because they confessed their sins and accepted Jesus into their hearts.[1] Are they right? Or have they gotten caught up in a heretical superstition which has spread like wildfire through American Christianity? Let’s take a closer look.

Is Accepting Jesus Biblical?


When Jesus was walking along the Sea of Galilee and found four fishermen, did he give them an invitation to confess their sins and accept him into their hearts? Not at all. Instead, he said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”[2]

When three men asked Jesus if they could follow him, did he offer them an invitation to confess their sins and accept him into their hearts? Not at all. He told one that it was going to be very uncomfortable. He told another to let the dead bury the dead. And he told the third one that he had to be totally surrendered to him.[3]

When the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles at Pentecost, did Peter offer the crowd an invitation to confess their sins and accept Jesus into their hearts? Not at all. Instead, he told them to repent and be baptized.[4]

None of these key passages mention anything about confessing sins (confessing is different than repenting) and accepting Jesus into our hearts. Is it absent because it was unintentionally omitted by the authors? Or is it absent because it never happened?

Having read every word in the Bible over and over and over again, I have yet to find any evidence to support the claim that if we confess our sins and accept Jesus into our hearts, then we will be given a one-way ticket to heaven. Instead, I have come to see that Jesus doesn’t need nor does he demand our acceptance. Instead, we’re the ones who need his acceptance.

Why Do We Need Jesus’s Acceptance?


Did you know I get in trouble with Amy sometimes? I don’t intent to do it, but I hurt Amy seemingly all the time. I’ll say something mean to her or I’ll fail to come through on a promise I made. When I hurt Amy, there’s nothing I can say or do to make up for the hurt I’ve caused her. I’m completely at her mercy; she has the ability to decide whether she’s going to continue to accept me or whether she’s going to cease accepting me.

It works the same way with Jesus. We sin against Jesus every single day of our lives, even if we don’t intend to do it. This means we’re completely at his mercy in regards to whether he wants to accept us or not. He may choose to accept us and he may choose to not accept us.

Let’s say I had an extramarital affair with another woman. How do you think that would impact Amy? Obviously she would be extremely hurt by it. Would there be anything I could do to make up for the pain I caused her? Absolutely nothing would make up for it. At that point, I’d be completely at her mercy. She could decide to forgive me or she could decide not to forgive me.

Let’s say Amy was very merciful and decided to forgive me. Is it then up to me to accept her forgiveness? What if I didn’t want her to forgive me? Would my lack of acceptance of her forgiveness make her forgiveness ineffective? Not at all. Whether I accept it or not, she can still choose to forgive me.

In this example, it makes perfect sense that when I sin against Amy, she is now in control of the relationship. But when it comes to Jesus, we don’t see it this way. We view ourselves, the ones who’ve sinned against Jesus over and over and over again, as somehow being in control of the relationship and having the ability to accept or reject what he’s done for us. Somehow we’ve arrived at the conclusion that Jesus’s forgiveness is only effective when we accept it. This makes absolutely no biblical or practical sense.

What’s a More Biblical Approach?


How does this conclusion relate to accepting Jesus into our hearts? Isn’t it one thing to accept Jesus’s forgiveness and another to accept him into our hearts? Actually, they are pretty much one in the same thing, meaning that it’s just as foolish to think we have the ability to control whether Jesus works in our hearts as it is to think that we have control over whether Jesus forgives our sins.

Thankfully, there is a much more biblical approach to evangelism than trying to get people to say a superstitious prayer to confess their sins and accept Jesus into their hearts. To prove this point, let’s look at when the twelve disciples accepted Jesus into their hearts.

Did they accept Jesus when they were first called to follow him? Did they accept Jesus when Peter realized he was the Messiah? Did they accept Jesus when he died on the cross? Did they accept Jesus on the day of Pentecost? I don’t know. The Bible doesn’t tell us. All we know is that they are saved, but we don’t know when it happened or how it happened. If we need to confess our sins and accept Jesus in order to get to heaven, then wouldn’t you think the biblical writers would’ve included it somewhere in the New Testament?

What can we learn from the absence of any wording in the Bible alluding to the need for us to confess our sins and accept Jesus into our hearts? Apparently that’s not how we receive eternal life in heaven. Instead, the Bible tells us that God chooses to save his people and works in their hearts to bring them to repentance and draw them to him.[5]

We’re not disciples of Jesus because we accepted him; we’re disciples of Jesus because he accepted us.


[1] According to a study conducted by the Barna Group, 63 percent of the evangelical Christians surveyed believed they would go to heaven because they confessed their sins and accepted Jesus as their savior: Barna Group, “What Do Americans Believe about Jesus? 5 Popular Beliefs.” April 1, 2015, accessed October 7, 2016, https://www.barna.com/research/what-do-americans-believe-about-jesus-5-popular-beliefs/.
[2] See Matthew 4:18-22.
[3] See Luke 9:57-62.
[4] See Acts 2:1-41.
[5] See John 6:37-44, 15:16, Acts 2:39, and Ephesians 1:3-6.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Stop Judging Me!




It’s my life. I can live it the way I want. If I want to buy a nice car, I should be able to without someone judging me for how I spend my money. If I want to move in with my girlfriend, so what? It’s not hurting anyone else. If I want to smoke a pack every day, then I should be able to smoke a pack and not feel like other people are shaming me for it. What gives anyone else the right to tell me whether what I’m doing is right or wrong?

These aren’t the voices of people on the other side of the world; these are the voices of our family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers. All of us know what it feels like to be judged. And I haven’t met a single person who was excited about being judged. What we all really want to say to our judgers is, “Stop judging me!”

Is it acceptable to judge other people? Regardless of how I answer this question, my answer would be judgmental since I don’t possess the authority to determine what’s right or wrong. Therefore, I need to go to an authoritative source to find the answer to this question.

The best authoritative source I know is the Bible, so that’s where I’m going to go. I realize some of you may not view the Bible as an authoritative source, but I still encourage you to join me in taking a look at what it says about judging others; you may be surprised what it has to say about this topic.

Is It Acceptable to Judge Other People?


Whether you believe the Bible is an authoritative source or not, you’ve most likely heard a verse from it which addresses the issue of judging others: “Judge not, that you be not judged.”[1] At first glance, it may seem like this verse is saying that we shouldn’t try to determine whether other people’s thoughts, words, and actions are right or wrong. Well, at least that’s the context in which I see most people quote it.

For many years, I thought that’s what it meant. But recently, I decided to dig deeper into this verse, specifically by looking at it in the Greek language (since the New Testament was originally written in Greek and later translated to English) in order to gain a better understanding of the context in which this verse was written. The Greek word used here is for “judge” is the word krino. Theologians generally agree that the definition of this word in this context is “to assume the office of a judge.”[2] What Jesus was saying, therefore, was, “Do not assume the office of a judge.”

A key word I want to point out in this definition is the word assume. What does it mean to assume the office of a judge? In Findlay where I live, we have a municipal court where we have two elected judges. Our two judges have been given the authority to make determinations between disputing parties about who’s right and who’s wrong. They do not assume the office of a judge; they have been given the office of judge. By being given the office of judge, they have the authority to make these determinations. When Jesus said that we are not to assume the office of judge, he wasn’t saying that no one could be a judge; he was saying that we cannot unilaterally give ourselves that authority. This authority has to be given to us by another source.

What about Paul?


When we flip ahead in the New Testament, we come across a letter which was written by Paul to the church in Corinth. If you think churches today have issues, you should read this letter. Their problems dwarf the problems in today’s churches. The people were dividing themselves based upon which apostle baptized them and which one they liked more. They were struggling to understand the true meaning of Jesus’s atonement. They were questioning the legitimacy of Paul’s apostolic gifting. There was a guy in the congregation who was sleeping with his step-mother. Some of the people were suing each other. Some of the people were arguing over whether they could eat food sacrificed to idols. And they had a huge misunderstanding about what it meant to speak in tongues.

As Paul was addressing one of these issues, he rhetorically asked the church, “For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge?”[3] Wait a second…didn’t Jesus tell us not to judge people? Why is Paul now telling us to judge people? Instead of assuming Jesus and Paul were saying two completely different things, let’s take a closer look at these two verses to see if they actually align with one another.

If Paul is saying that it’s permissible for people in the church to judge other people in the church, then he must also be saying that people inside the church have been given the authority to judge one another. Of course that doesn’t mean people in the church have been given the authority to condemn one another (since only God has that authority), but they have been given the authority to hold each other accountable to living in obedience to Jesus’s commands. Does this interpretation align with other biblical discussions about the church?

Believe it or not, it actually does. In the same letter, Paul tells us that everyone who is part of the church (the invisible church) is part of the body of Christ.[4] To put this in simple terms, the body of Christ looks kind of like a football team. One member of the team can’t do it all himself, but when the team, comprised of many people with different skill sets, comes together, they can play a competitive game of football.

The coach’s job is to give the team instructions for what to do. The team is obviously going to be most effective when everyone on the team listens and follows the coach’s instructions. However, sometimes players don’t listen to and follow the coach’s instructions. Let’s say, for example, that a wide receiver runs the wrong route. Do you think his teammates are going to say, “I see he ran the wrong route, but I’m not going to say anything because I don’t want to judge my teammates”? I don’t think so. You better believe someone in the huddle is going to call him out for running the wrong route.

Or how about if a lineman misses an assignment and the quarterback gets sacked? Is the quarterback just going to brush it off because he’s not supposed to judge him? Once again, I don’t think so. The quarterback is going to make sure the lineman knows he missed his assignment.

Why do the players on a football team judge one another? Is it because they don’t like each other? Not at all. They judge each other because they are concerned about the effectiveness of the team. If each player on the team doesn’t take responsibility to hold each other accountable, then they probably aren’t going to win any games.

In the same way, the body of Christ, which is made up of many people, is most effective when every person is living in obedience to Jesus’s (the coach) instructions. Sometimes this involves judging (making a determination of right and wrong) one another. I’m not talking about “judging” over differences in opinion about how one should dress for gatherings or for the amoral activities in which a person engages. The type of judging I’m talking about doesn’t tear down the body, but builds it up in love.

We all have blind spots. We all run the wrong passing route. We all miss a block over and over and over again. But when we’re surrounded by others who have this same mindset, they’ll be willing to point out our mistakes so that the entire team can be more effective. I’m very thankful for the people in my life who are part of the body of Christ who love Jesus and me enough to judge me so that our team becomes more effective.

What about People outside the Church?


Going back to Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth, we see that we do not have the authority to judge those outside the church. Instead, we’re told, “God judges those outside.”[5] What does it look like for those of us who are a part of the body of Christ? I’ll give two examples of what this might look like.

Let’s say I have a friend who isn’t part of the body of Christ who decides he and his girlfriend are going to move in together. Theoretically, a dating couple could live together and not commit adultery (I’m talking about all forms of adultery, not just sex), but you and I both know that the chances of that happening are next to zero. So for the sake of this example, I’m going to assume that they are committing adultery. According to the Bible, adultery is sin.[6] But since my friend isn’t a part of the body of Christ, I have no authority to judge him.

In another example, let’s say that I have a male friend who has a male partner. The Bible is quite clear that homosexuality is sin.[7] But since my friend isn’t a part of the body of Christ, I have no authority to judge him.

One Final Note


Before I end this discussion, I have one final clarification I want to make because the last thing I want anyone to do is claim that I’m giving them permission to condemn or harshly rebuke other people. First of all, I’m not giving anyone permission to do anything; the authority to judge comes from God. And second, the Bible doesn’t say anything about us having the authority to condemn or harshly rebuke another person, even people who are a part of the body of Christ.

The purpose of judging in the church is to build up the church, not tear it down. When we see another member of the body living in disobedience to Jesus, it’s the love, grace, and compassion we have for them that should drive us to have a conversation with them rather than pride. In Galatians 6, Paul wrote, “If anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.”[8]

Conclusion


I appreciate you taking the journey with me to explore the topic of judging. This study has led me to conclude that we are not to assume the position of a judge and the authority that comes with it. However, if we have been given the position of a judge, then we need to judge with the authority we’ve been given in accordance with the law. Every member of Jesus’s invisible church has been given equal authority to judge everyone else in the church, but they have not been given the authority to judge people outside of the church. The authority to judge in the church is intended to build up the church. People outside of the church, with the exception of governing judges, have not been given the authority to judge other people.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree or disagree? I’m interested to hear your thoughts on this topic.


[1] Matthew 7:1.
[2] Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, “Judge (Noun and Verb)”, accessed October 10, 2017, http://studybible.info/vines/Judge (Noun and Verb).
[3] 1 Corinthians 5:12.
[4] For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. – 1 Corinthians 12:12
[5] 1 Corinthians 5:13.
[6] Exodus 20:14.
[7] 1 Corinthians 6:9.
[8] Galatians 6:1.