Sunday, December 2, 2018
Friday, June 15, 2018
This is an article that I don’t really want to write. I don’t even want to think about it, and perhaps that is the whole problem. Nobody does! If I were to phrase this as a riddle it would be: What do millions of people think about and explore every day, but never in the context of sin? This is a sin that flies under the radar. It is hidden, personal, and therefore, taboo to discuss or admit guilt. And those who do admit to participation in this sin relegate it to a ‘victimless crime;’ or 'it hurts no one.' “Everybody does it.” Really? We are instructed in scripture to guard our gates. That means everything we touch, consume, hear, speak and see is a gateway to our body, heart and mind: in other words, our temple. There are many avenues I could address with regard to guarding our gates, but this article will deal with pornography.
Does the Bible say anything on this topic?
SO, WHAT HAS THIS GOT TO DO WITH ME?
A few days ago, I was trying to look up something on my phone through the internet. My phone is small, I was a passenger in a moving car, and my screen was difficult to read. So, these being the conditions, I accidentally touched the wrong thing on a side-bar. Instead of finding the definition of the term I was looking up, I wound up with a hard-core pornography site on my phone. Not only was it disgusting and absolutely opposite from what I was seeking to find, it turned itself into my ‘home’ page! When I tried to sweep it away it opened yet another porn site! The second one was even worse as it was targeted specifically to TEENS! To say I was horrified is an understatement.
I was not only horrified, I was angry. Here were images that I didn’t want to see, from a site I didn’t seek out and that I stumbled on unintentionally, and that was designed in such a way that it was difficult to remove! The predatory nature of this incident was just horrible!
I just wanted it gone! I didn’t want to look at it while I tried to remove it either! I couldn’t help but think how easy it must be for our children to accidentally find this kind of trash! And, when I saw the linked one was billed as the ‘best Teen site in HD’ I lost it.
WHAT DOES THIS SAY ABOUT OUR SOCIETY?
Today the porn industry brings in well over $12 Billion dollars a year (these figures are from 2004, so these figures have exploded exponentially). The porn industry is sustained, in part, by sex trafficking (slavery and kidnapping that are condemned in Torah)! It is largely a part of our society that gets little overt attention. On the contrary, it is mostly hidden in the cloak of darkness. It is the dirty little secret that everyone knows about and few condemn lest they be called a prude or intolerant.
Not many feminists decry the exploitation and objectification of women (or men for that matter) into purely sexual objects. There is little discussion from the clergy about this either. This is probably a reflection of the wide-spread nature of pornography. Users cross all ages, ethnic, economic, and social lines, and it is just as prevalent within the religious community as otherwise.
“So how did we get here? Only 40 years ago Elvis Presley made rock history with a few well-placed pelvic thrusts, and Marilyn Monroe shocked our sexual sensibilities with modest bathing suits and demure glances. Now Carmen Electra’s stripper workouts are a staple of household aerobics, and 12 percent of the worldwide web is devoted to pornographic sites. Pornography is in our living rooms, on our computers and television screens, and buried deep in the experiences of our spouses, children, and siblings. And, by all accounts, it’s here to stay.” - See more at: http://www.salvomag.com/new/articles/salvo2/2coleman.php#sthash.5ud3l02j.dpuf”
This article is not going to give you all the facts and figures. For that I recommend reading the article on Salvo sited above for more information. To say the statistics are horrifying is an understatement. The most awful is this: “The average child is 11 years old at the time of his or her first exposure. Twenty percent of all children have been sexually solicited on the web; more than 90 percent of 8 to 16-year-olds have viewed pornography online, and 80 percent of 15 to 17-year-olds have had multiple exposures to hardcore pornography.”
Yeshua said, “but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Mat 18:6 )
So, even if we don’t participate in this industry by indulging in it, we are complicit when we sweep it under the rug and say nothing!
ISN’T THIS JUST A PERSONAL THING?
The effects on society are profound. It is not just a personal vice or a harmless addiction. It exploits children, women and men, and irreparably damages the most basic foundations of our society: fidelity, morality and the sanctity of marriage. It glorifies sex without relationship, and to those addicted by this, there is an ever-expanding need for ever more deviant behaviors to watch to achieve the desired sense of excitement. It destroys marriages, relationships, childhood innocence, distorts sexual expectation and satisfaction between partners, and feeds the already damaged among us to transform fantasies into horrific acts of child molestation, rape and murder.
Side effects of our acceptance and participation in pornography are wide-spread. We are all reaping the fields of the seed sown by this world-wide and insidious preoccupation with sex, and much of that is deviant sex at that. Pornography diminishes any sense of modesty. It contributes to the sexualization of our children. We are all desensitized to its filthiness as it is commonplace in films which allude to or depict infidelity, meaningless sex, homosexuality, sadomasochism and worse. It is creeping into our television programs as well. R-rated movies are equivalent to what used to be labeled as X-rated in the past.
The slippery slope is well greased, and one wonders where the bottom can be found.
WHAT DOES SCRIPTURE HAVE TO SAY ABOUT THIS?
The 7th Commandment is the prohibition against adultery.
Exo 20:14 Thou shalt not commit adultery.
Yeshua made it clear as he explained the heart connection in Torah. He said, “You know the commandment which says, "Be faithful in marriage. But I tell you that if you look at another woman and want her, you are already unfaithful in your thoughts.” (Mat 5:27-28 )
Pornography meets the requirement of transgressing this instruction. It is sin.
BUT, WHAT IF I AM UNMARRIED?! HOW CAN IT BE ADULTERY THEN?
Paul spoke about the works of the flesh.
God wants you to be holy, so don't be immoral in matters of sex.
Respect and honor your wife.
Don't be a slave of your desires or live like people who don't know God.
You must not cheat any of the Lord's followers in matters of sex. Remember, we warned you that he punishes everyone who does such things.
God didn't choose you to be filthy, but to be pure.
So if you don't obey these rules, you are not really disobeying us. You are disobeying God, who gives you his Holy Spirit. (1Th 4:3-8)
Now the works of the flesh are clearly revealed, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lustfulness, (Gal 5:19)
Don't be controlled by your body. Kill every desire for the wrong kind of sex. Don't be immoral or indecent or have evil thoughts. Don't be greedy, which is the same as worshiping idols.
God is angry with people who disobey him by doing these things. (Col 3:5-6)
And our Father said this through his prophet, Isaiah:
I spread out my hands all the day to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, following their own devices; a people who provoke me to my face continually, sacrificing in gardens and making offerings on bricks; who sit in tombs, and spend the night in secret places; who eat pig's flesh, and broth of tainted meat is in their vessels; who say, "Keep to yourself, do not come near me, for I am too holy for you." These are a smoke in my nostrils, a fire that burns all the day. (Isa 65:2-5)
WHAT ARE WE SUPPOSED TO DO?
Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. (Eph 5:11)
The Council in Jerusalem addressed sexual matters that are found in Leviticus 17 & 18. See the article Letter to the Gentiles for more detail. If we wish to be in covenant with our Creator, we must clean our house!
Scripture is clear. We are not to be double-minded. Water that is pure and undefiled cannot exist with that which is not. Darkness has no part in Light. The addiction and acceptance of pornography is against everything that Torah teaches us.
It must grieve the Father that we choose to pollute our temple by letting this inside our gates. YHVH is all about life, honor and the marriage covenant he designed. Anything that diminishes that has to be examined and expunged from our life. Will the Spirit of Holiness abide with filth and worldly lusts?
Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous. (Heb 13:4)
Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (1Co 6:18-21)
Religion that pleases God the Father must be pure and spotless. You must help needy orphans and widows and not let this world make you evil. (Jas 1:27)
Finally, my friends, keep your minds on whatever is true, pure, right, holy, friendly, and proper. Don't ever stop thinking about what is truly worthwhile and worthy of praise. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. (Php 4:8 and Rom13:14)
Sunday, May 20, 2018
This week the world tuned in to watch a modern fairytale come to life. All eyes were on Harry and Meghan as they held a royal wedding at Windsor Castle. In the aftermath, and even before the day was over, every petty and sarcastic comment to express how much ‘no one cares’ was made. What is it about us that we cannot celebrate with anyone who doesn’t walk in the same social sphere as we do?
This article will not bash the royal family, Harry and Meghan, or the spectacular wedding day they enjoyed. In point of fact, I shared their happiness as did a huge number of British citizens who camped out for days to get a glimpse of the royal pageantry.
You can pat yourself on the back at how much you don’t care and make disparaging remarks over any number of things about it. But, who are you to rain on their wedding day?
Can we not see this as a delightful metaphor for all of us? What value may we place on a fairytale? Just as Yeshua (Jesus) taught in parables, might we try and see beyond the envy and holier-than-thou attitudes that animate the snarky and disparaging comments leveled at the entire event? Can we see this as a parable, a metaphor, for what we all carry in our hearts? Can we not believe they are entering a marriage based on love?
Just because their wedding was beyond what we common folk have, does that mean it was trivial to them? They are just human beings like ourselves. So-what that they happen to have an enormous wealth and privilege that we, in America, find hard to grasp! Can we really justify our disdain because we can’t relate to it?
Or can we?
How many people flooded Chicago when the Cubs won the pennant? Did people gather to celebrate the inauguration of a President? Do people tune in to the Academy Awards, or get excited for the premier of the next Star Wars movie or the like? How about American Idol? The Super Bowl? Miss America? Pick your event that touches your heart. You know you have your favorites, so why lift your nose that the ‘Royals’ are unworthy of your interest?
What satisfies your personal fairytale? Is it the rags to riches, pauper to king theme that beckons to your spirit? Is it overcoming life-threatening events? Or are only Royal Weddings relegated to ‘fairytales?’
Speaking of fairytales, what is it about a fairytale that resonates with us? I know, our current culture vilifies the stories like Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty. God forbid we should tell our daughters and sons that there is such a thing as true love, or happy-ever-after! Maybe we should just crush their dreams of an ideal because it doesn’t reflect real life.
I have news for you. The princess thing is not going away. Just look at how Disney has capitalized on this. How many little girls are fascinated with being a princess? I dare say it would take a conscious decision on the part of the parents to discourage this fantasy. And why should we, really?
What does the fairytale tell us? A person who is enslaved (Cinderella), hated without cause or due to envy (Sleeping Beauty) or dead (Snow White), can be rescued by ‘true love.’ We all bought into that phrase when we fell in love with the Princess Bride…why do we begrudge anyone from that in real life?
Most fairytales tell us that the noble and selfless Prince falls in love with the young maiden that will become his bride. He will rescue her and carry her off on his white stallion to live forever in his kingdom.
Does this sound at all familiar to you? Is it simply a fairytale, or is it telling the story that resonates within all of us?
Those of us who are seeking the Kingdom of God view the whole thing in a similar, if not identical, fashion.
We who are lost, broken, dead in our sins, asleep, or slaves to sin, yearn for the perfect Prince (of Peace) to rescue us from our circumstances. We even picture him on a white steed (see Revelation), coming in power to vanquish the enemies of life eternal; to remove the forces of darkness that prevent us from living in and with Him! His perfect love will give us the happily-ever-after of eternal life in His Kingdom. Who doesn’t long for that, ye that call yourselves ‘believers?’
So many of the events that occupy our attention fall in one or more facets of the perfect fairytale. You can figure it out. What was the 108 year drought before the Cubs won the pennant? (Sounds like echoes of Rip Van Winkle to me.) How about American Idol? The Prince and the Pauper? Rags to Riches? A nobody becomes famous! A commoner joins the royal family.
So many parallels that you really must suppress the ideal from your lexicon to call it a fairytale. And how many of the things Americans are consumed with focus on love and marriage?
It used to be that little girls sought a man that would fulfill her desire to be loved and cared for. It used to be that love was the goal instead of hooking up until the next new thing comes along.
It used to be that we were happy for people who were in love and marry each other in front of God and everybody. Why should we NOT be excited for the institution of marriage, even if it is done in a lavish fashion few of us can hope to enjoy?
I don’t know if Harry and Meghan will live happily ever after, but I sure hope they do! And I tuned in for their wedding! It was a lovely affair that expressed love, culture, tradition and celebration. It was fun to see marriage treated with respect and elevated as an event worthy of interest.
When is it horrible when people come together to share and celebrate with two people who are in love and choose to vow a covenant between them until death?
As the minister that spoke at their wedding said, “Two people fell in love, and we all showed up.” I prefer to show up for love and commitment, regardless of the magnitude of the event.
Congratulations and best wishes, Harry and Meghan.