Welcome to “Nothing New.” The goal of my blog in the past has been to stimulate discussion about all things related to CBC, the Christian life, and the world at large. But it has recently been hijacked by my cancer and treatment. This means I have to eat some crow (which I hate) because early on I boldly claimed I would not allow my condition to take center stage in my life.

But it is taking center stage on my blog – for a while. I am rather torn about this development. I am uncomfortable making this all about me – because it’s not. It is strangely therapeutic for me to blog about this, however, and I cannot express even a fraction of my appreciation for everyone who reads and leaves their funny, weird, and /or encouraging words in comments and emails.

So please join with me in dialogue. I always look forward to reading your comments. (If you'd like to follow my cancer journey from day 1, please go to my post on 6/25/08 - Life Takes Guts - in the archives and follow the posts upwards from there.)

Thursday, February 28, 2008


Dr. Tim Gardner has graciously offered to participate in some online discussions here regarding sexuality. Readers may remember that several students in my class offered their own review (of the first half) of his book Sacred Sex in a previous post.

I am especially encouraging my Human Sexuality students to engage in some dialogue with Dr. Gardner, but I invite others to join in our discussions, too. And while one of our goals will be to discuss Sacred Sex in particular, Dr. Gardner has also agreed to tackle other, more general questions related to marriage and sex.

For those of you unfamiliar, Dr. Gardner is a Christian speaker, educator, author, and counselor with over 20 years of experience in the areas of marriage and family. You can find some of his current work and interests at

In my first post next week, I will try to summarize Dr. Gardner’s key idea behind Sacred Sex. Then I will recap some questions and concerns my students and readers have had with his view on singleness. Since this seems to have been a major point of interest (both in class and on my blog), we will devote the first post to that subject. I will make another post soon after to offer a few other questions to Dr. Gardner. Our hope is that these questions will be a springboard for discussion and that my students and readers will jump in to continue the dialogue in whatever direction seems helpful. If all goes well, we will repeat the process again in a few weeks after my students have read and reviewed the second half of Sacred Sex.

Please join us next week for what should be a lively and encouraging discussion!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


A couple of Sundays ago, I sat in on a different Life Group (Sunday school class) than the one I usually lead. They were in the middle of a series of lessons on “Moral Earthquakes” – dealing with faults and sins that can cause big trouble. The lesson this particular Sunday was on how we as Christians ought to respond to others who have been hit by their own moral earthquakes.

I’ve been involved in church all my life and I’ve seen my fair share of Christians stumbling into sin. In my relatively short adult life (I’m 36), I’ve seen a lot – from some of the most “major” sins to a whole host of “minor” ones. I’ve seen brothers and sisters in Christ commit adultery and ruin their marriages. I’ve seen Christians become addicted to a whole host of things, pornography not the least among them. I’ve known Christians to lie, cheat, and steal. I’ve known some to mistreat their neighbors, co-workers, and fellow church members. I’ve known some with terrible anger control issues. I’ve known some who harbor bitterness and resentment. I’ve known Christians who mistreat their spouses and neglect their children. I’ve known some who see the church as a place to be served rather than to serve. I’ve been around plenty of Christians who feel entitled to have everything in church their own way, who get angry when asked to help, who complain when the pastor doesn’t preach like they like it, and who stir up trouble when the church doesn’t plan worship music or budget money the way they’d like.

I can think of specific people for nearly all of these situations. They aren’t just random church members – they are my friends, my fellow Sunday school members, my basketball teammates, and fellow deacons. I don’t just know of them, I know them.

None of this surprises me. I know the depths to which people can easily and quickly fall. (And lest I sound self-righteous, I know I am not at all immune to sin, either.) I encouraged a friend of mine just yesterday to not give up on being in the ministry because “Lord knows us sheep need some shepherds, even when we are stupid and belligerent.” Maybe I should have said “…especially when we are stupid and belligerent.”

One situation has replayed in my mind in recent days. Many years ago, there were two couples in our Sunday school class who were great friends. They were the kind of friends who would hang out together outside of church - eating, playing, and just enjoying each other’s company. Something went wrong, however, and the wife of one couple and the husband of the other ended up having an affair together. They eventually divorced their spouses to marry each other. The stranded spouses were left to figure out what went wrong while trying to piece their lives back together.

This week I’ve been reviewing what I did to help that situation and what I’ve done over the years to help the others I’ve mentioned. I’m ashamed to admit I’ve not done much. And the few times I have tried to help have not always been very effective.

In Galatians 6:1 Paul says, “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently.” The word “restore” here (katarizo) carries with it the idea of mending – as in the mending of broken bones. People are to be restored to their original function and purpose. In my experience, “helping” someone who has fallen into sin often means “confronting” them – and this not always with the purpose of healing, but to chastise. And this healing and restoration should be done “gently.” That is the same word (prautes) used to describe one of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:23). Gentleness is not weakness or timidity, but great strength under great control.

I’ve not done a good job of “gently restoring” my friends in the past. I did next to nothing to try and bring restoration to the offending couple I mentioned above. And I’m afraid I did not do much to restore the couple who was left, either. Perhaps their “sin” wasn’t as great, but I think they each admitted their own faults in not maintaining their marriages prior to this event. And certainly they needed restoration and healing, too. G, if you happen to read this post, please forgive me. I’m glad our Lord has healed and restored you despite the lack of support from very many in your church family.

I’ve got to work on my katarizo with prautes – not for my own sake, but for the sake of others. God is in the business of healing and restoring people, and so should I be.

I’ve rambled a bit today. Hopefully ya’ll can make some sense of my thoughts.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Behavioral Sciences - 2008 State of the Union

Some of you know this is the first full year of existence for the Department of Behavioral Sciences (and my first year as a department Chair) at CBC. Until now, all psychology and counseling classes were in the Department of Social Studies along with history and geography.

Every year, the Chair of each department gets an opportunity to communicate directly to the Board of Trustees through a brief written report. The board met this weekend, and I presume they were given my first report. What follows is an excerpt of that report – you might consider it a “state of the union” summary of sorts. Some readers might be interested.

The 2007-2008 school year has been an exciting time of growth for the newly formed Department of Behavioral Sciences....

The formation of the new department has been a great success. I have made it my goal to prepare every student in this department for both immediate employment in social services and for graduate work in psychology, counseling, and social work. We are quickly gaining a reputation on campus as a department committed to serious academics and service to others. Our students are appreciating a greater sense of identity that comes from having their own department. And the establishment of the new department has already proven to be beneficial in marketing and student recruiting.

We have been fortunate to work with two new adjunct instructors recently. Ms. Blair Presley is a CBC graduate and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Her experience as a hospice social worker was invaluable as she taught “Aging, Death, and Dying” for us in the fall. Mr. Mic Wright is currently serving as the school’s counselor and has an extensive background in counseling and mental health administration. I can sense a growing passion in Mic for teaching, and students in his current “Crisis Counseling” class are giving us very positive remarks.

We have changed the name of the degree from “Social Services” to “Psychology and Social Services.” This has reduced the ambiguity and confusion regarding the content and purpose of our program. In addition, we have added a Bachelor of Arts degree to the existing Bachelor of Sciences degree. The former allows students to take nine hours of a foreign language (we recommend Spanish) rather than nine hours of math and science. This has already proven to be attractive to some students, and it will better prepare students for meeting the needs of Spanish-speaking clients in social service organizations.

We have also added two new courses to the Psychology and Social Services degree plans. “Marriage and Family Counseling” has replaced the sociology course “Family Systems” and will introduce students to the basics of premarital, marital, and family counseling. “Human Sexuality” has been added as an elective to provide students with honest and factual information about sexual issues from a Christian perspective.

Students of the department are excited about the growth and changes of the past year. And we continue to see greater numbers of students decide to pursue Psychology and Social Services each semester. Just one indicator of student interest in the program is the increase in graduates. In 2006, there were five graduates from this area. In 2007 there were two. This year, I expect twelve students to graduate from the department and we are already looking forward to another great incoming class in the fall….

Those of you unfamiliar with CBC should know we are a small school – we currently have only about 350 traditional students on campus. But we are growing like a weed. In fact, we are setting enrollment records each year. We have some exceptional students and I am very excited about our future, especially in the Department of Behavioral Sciences.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Dark Night of the Soul

I’ve made several posts on several thoughts/observations I’ve had from Human Sexuality this semester. But I have neglected (until now) some of the good and interesting discussions we’ve been having in Abnormal Psychology this semester, too. We have recently been covering the major mood disorders like Major Depression and Bipolar Disorder. Wednesday we reviewed the descriptions and statistics for the mood disorders. Today we discussed the various causes and Monday next week we will cover the treatments for them.

When addressing the issue of etiology (causes), I try to impress on my students the need to develop an integrative perspective. For any given person, there may occasionally be what appears to be a clear and simple explanation for the cause of his or her depression. But that is the exception, not the rule. For most, the cause of depression is an extremely complicated mixture of biological, psychological, and spiritual causes.

The temptation is to focus our attention on one area and neglect the others. I will not take the time here to review the biological and psychological causes. Those are readily available in just about any textbook and on plenty of websites. But the spiritual causes are often neglected – as is the case with our textbook this semester – and I don’t suppose I should expect anything different from secular authors.

Is sin a cause of depression? The best short answer is yes, sometimes. But depression is not always directly due to personal sin. In my current environment, I can find a number of people who tend to overemphasize spiritual causes (especially personal sin) for emotional and psychological problems and neglect other possibilities. While I do not wish to perpetuate that kind of thinking, I did find this list of possible spiritual factors of depression interesting and very helpful.

- Guilt / lack of repentance over sin.
- Turning away from God and neglecting His word.
- Unwillingness to forgive / harboring bitterness and resentment
- Fear of the future and a lack of trust in God as a provider and protector.
- God-sent trials meant to prune or purify (John 15:2, 1 Pet. 1:6-7)
- Demonic attacks and oppression
- Existential vacuum (feeling empty and without meaning or purpose)
- The “dark night of the soul”

I have heard of the “dark night of the soul” before, but have recently become more intrigued with it. It is an idea/phrase borrowed from
Saint John of the Cross and I’m going to find his work and read it someday soon. For now, I appreciate this description:

“This dark night is not something bad or destructive…. The purpose of the darkness is not to punish or afflict us. It is to set us free…. What is involved in entering the dark night of the soul? It may be a sense of dryness, depression, even feeling lost. It strips us of overdependence on the emotional life. The notion, often heard today, that such experiences can be avoided and that we should live in peace, comfort, joy, and celebration only betrays the fact that much contemporary experience is surface slush. The dark night is one of the ways God brings us to a hush, a stillness, so that he can work an inner transformation of the soul…. Recognize the dark night for what it is. Be grateful that God is lovingly drawing you away from every distraction so that you can see him.”

Caring for People God’s Way

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Sacred Sex - Review

Rather than offering my own review of Sacred Sex by Tim Gardner, I thought I’d give my students an opportunity to do so. We discussed the first half of the book in class today and I’ve bribed encouraged students to post some of their thoughts here, too. They can earn a couple of extra credit points if they will post something substantial here.

Students, this is your chance to continue and/or summarize some of the discussions you had in your small groups. To get started, you may want to post in your own words what you consider to be one or two of the more important ideas in the book (and explain why). Also, feel free to post any questions, problems, or unresolved issues you have so far.

Saturday, February 16, 2008


Here’s the Nothing New Guestbook.

I would love to know a little bit about my readers, where they are from, and how they found
Nothing New. Please feel free to use this area to do any or all of the following…
- say hello and/or introduce yourself
- offer general comments not applicable to specific posts
- suggest future blog topics

Thanks for posting to the guestbook!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Authentic Sexuality, part 4

I start blogging on sex and the comment streams dry up like the Sahara. Go figure. But I am not deterred…..

Thursday, our class discussed marriage as the specific vehicle for true sexual fulfillment. Part of our time was spent reviewing the four theological themes and how they are worked out in marriage. We also spent some time reviewing the common sexual struggles married couples face. In our discussion, we noted that men and women seem designed with different needs, wants, and views of sex, love, and intimacy. But it was difficult to verbalize.

Some students have heard this for example. “Men need sex to feel loved. Women need love to enjoy sex.” While overly simplistic and an overgeneralization, there is likely some truth to this idea. As a rule, men need sexual acceptance from their wives in order to fully experience warmth, closeness, and intimacy. As a rule, women need to feel cherished, valued, and secure in order to fully experience sexual fulfillment.

With this in mind, there is often a relationship cycle at work here. In a negative cycle, it might look like the first diagram above – (keep in mind the cycle can start at any point). In a positive cycle, it might look like the second diagram above.

My students seemed to find some value in this concept. But here’s where I call on comments from the rest of the peanut gallery. Are there any brave married souls out there that would like to either confirm or deny this dynamic in their relationship? Anonymous posters are welcome, if that helps.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


[At creation] the familiar first “not good” is that Adam was alone, and this aloneness was not good even before sin entered the picture. It is incredibly important for us to grasp the circumstances of this problem. Adam is alone, and he is still a perfect creation of God. No sin was blocking his intimacy with the One who had formed him from the dust, and yet he was alone, and it wasn’t good.

So how did God respond? Did He chastise Adam for being lonely and then tell him to get over it or to just trust Him more? Did He give Adam three drinking buddies and a television so they could watch Monday Night Football together? Okay, then what about two wives, a wife and a mistress, or a succession of wives? Or how about this: God could give Adam lots of stuff and a busy schedule to dull his senses and help him forget that he was lonely.

None of those was part of God’s answer to the loneliness problem. God’s solution for the pain of being alone was Eve.

God provided a solution for loneliness, the result of a situation He had created in the first place. God created Adam’s loneliness because He knew beforehand that He had a perfect solution. Then God revealed to Adam the mystery of why he existed in a state of perfection and yet felt alone: Adam was lonely because, without his wife, part of him was missing. Even though Adam was created in God’s image, without Eve he didn’t yet fully represent God’s image.

I read these words of Tim Alan Gardner (from his book
Sacred Sex) and found something resonating with my spirit.

I am forever grateful for my wife. She is God’s blessing to me and I would indeed be utterly and desperately alone without her.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Authentic Sexuality, part 3

I’ve posted twice (here and here) on issues related to our course Human Sexuality this semester. Here are just two more observations, for whatever they are worth.

Observation #1
As the Balswicks discussed their theological principles for authentic human sexuality, they emphasized the necessity of differentiation between male and female as a prerequisite for true unity. In their own words…

“…We recognize God’s holy work in not only creating humankind but creating two distinct human beings, male and female.”

“Human sexuality has a correspondence to the Godhead in that it is an encounter with a corresponding but different being.”

“Differentiation makes unity a profound possibility.”

The Balswicks’ words read somewhat like the complimentarian position on biblical gender roles. I have
briefly blogged on this in another post and have stated my basic agreement with the complimentarian approach. Yet, I have an appreciation for what my egalitarian brother and sisters are saying about gender roles and I have a distaste for any position that regards women as inferior or subordinate to men. The Balswicks do, too. Accordingly, I found this bit of exegesis interesting….

“The question about whether the man was created first and therefore is in a special position of authority over the woman is still debated in Christian circles today. Genesis 2:18 proclaims that it was not good for man to be alone, so a helper was made for him. This particular verse needs to be interpreted with care and clarity. ….Helper in the original language (ezer) refers to God as the helper of humankind fifteen of the sixteen times it is used in the Bible. This verse is the one exception in which it is used to describe the relationship between human beings, namely, Eve and Adam. …Even the most inventive exegete would have to make a huge stretch to conclude that God, as our ezer, is subordinate to humankind and therefore it is beyond such an interpretation when it comes to subordination between the man and woman.”

Observation #2
After the Balswicks offer a brief summary of both the biological and sociocultural explanations of human sexuality, they remind readers of the importance of carefully examining their theological positions. Certainly our theology (when done well and with humility) should serve as the basis for understanding non-biblical data. But sometimes our theology (when done poorly or with arrogance) can cloud our judgment of non-biblical data. Consider the following phenomenon.

People who hold a more liberal theological position tend to emphasize biological/genetic explanations for the cause of homosexual orientation and behavior, but emphasize sociocultural explanations for the cause of basic gender differences. This seems a bit contradictory, right? Now consider those of us who hold a more conservative theological position. We tend to emphasize sociocultural explanations for the cause of homosexual orientation and behavior while emphasizing biological/genetic explanations for the cause of basic gender differences.

I don’t know that there is anything of much substance that ties these two observations together. I suppose if anything, they both remind me that issues are not nearly as simple as I sometimes make them out to be – instead, they can be rather complicated.

Monday, February 11, 2008

The Power of the Pen

Parker is learning to read and write and it is wonderfully amazing to watch. He enjoys reading signs in restaurants and on roadsides. He even likes reading to his pesky little brother – sometimes. One of his new hobbies is to write stories. He dictates them to Shanda and she types, inserts photos, and staples the pages. So far, he has written four books and I am looking forward to his future installments.

I have found myself welling up with pride as I listen to Parker read and watch him write. I discounted these feelings initially. I mean, come on, I’m a dad and I’m supposed to be proud of him making no-look passes and breaking someone’s ankles with his cross-over dribble, right? But as one who understands the value of words – I am proud of my son and excited that he is discovering the power reading and writing.

Someone will ask me occasionally why I have decided to blog. You may remember from my
welcome & disclaimer that I don’t suppose I am anyone of much importance or that I have anything particularly unique to offer. But I enjoy writing – and I especially like to hear the thoughts and comments of readers. More than anything else, however, blogging provides me an opportunity to practice my thinking and communicating skills. (Obviously, some blog posts accomplish this more than others.)

As I was thinking about the power of words and skillful communication and as I sorted through some ideas for this post, I came across
this one by Wade Burleson. I’m sharing it here in full because it fits so well with my thoughts on reading and writing and because I think it deserves a wider audience (especially to my college students). There is indeed power in the pen.

There lived in the mid-1800's a fiery evangelist named Lyman Beecher. His son, Henry Ward Beecher, became a famous minister in New York, and the evangelist's daughter, Harriet Beecher Stowe, wound up becoming well known in her own right while living in Cincinnati, Ohio.The young Harriet was an abolitionist. She detested slavery. Harriet agonized in the 1850's over the flourishing slave trade south of the Mason Dixon line. But what, she thought, could this poor, relatively unknown daughter of an evangelist do to stem the growing tide of slave trade and stop the efforts of slave traders to expand slavery into the new territories of Kansas and Nebraska?

I can write, thought Harriet. That's what I can do. And write she did.

Harriet Beecher Stowe poured out her anger into a novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin, that won immediate acclaim in the North and infamy in the South. More than three hundred thousand copies were sold in 1852, its first year in print, and over two million copies were sold during the next decade making it the bestselling novel in American history at the time - and according to proportion to population, it remains the bestselling American novel ever.

The book was adapted to the stage and countless thousands of Americans felt the author's agony over slavery in the character of Tom, who is eventually beaten to death by his master, Simon Legree. Audiences and readers also felt the author's hope and inspiration in defeating slavery through the escape of Eliza and her five-year-old son via the Underground Railroad. The nation became effected by the pen of a young daughter of an American evangelist.

According to Harry Stout, author of Upon the Altar of the Nation, Abraham Lincoln met Harriet Beecher Stowe during the Civil War and reputedly greeted her with these words:

“So you're the little woman who wrote the book that made this great war."

As those of who are parents tasked with the responsibility of properly training our children, we would do well to remember that the power of the pen shall never diminish. The keyboard may be the new instrument, but the ability to organize ideas through writing shall always wield tremendous power. Those who believe only the visual moves the massses simply need to be reminded that the all visual mediums (movies, television, videos, etc. . . ) follow scripts.

For all you Christians out there who write, keep it up. In the end, the kingdom of Christ is advanced. And for all you young people who play X-Box - consider dropping the controller and picking up a keyboard or a pen and write. It's far more satisfying to make history by doing good for the world than to simply watch the world go by.

Friday, February 8, 2008


If you are looking for a way to painlessly donate a little bit of money to Central Baptist College (or other organization/charity), please check out GoodSearch.

GoodSearch is an internet search engine (powered by Yahoo) that donates 1 cent to the college for every search a person makes. It also returns a percentage of the total bill to the college for items individuals purchase online.

If 200 students, faculty, alumni and friends of CBC were to perform 5 internet searches a day, that would translate into $3,650 per year. And that does not include any money from online purchases.

(1) Go to
(2) Enter “Central Baptist College” under Who Do You GoodSearch For?
(3) Hit “Verify” and you are ready to search.

Thanks, Curt.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Authentic Sexuality, part 2

In my last post on Authentic Sexuality, I pondered the uneasiness we feel at the spiritual-sexual connection. I suggested that some of the OT references to God’s relationship to His people and some NT reference to Jesus’ relationship to His church have some sexual overtones. Yet this makes us uncomfortable. (And part of me cringes even as I type it again.)

A colleague reminded me yesterday of the potential abuses in overemphasizing this connection. There is a real danger here, but I think only if we allow sexuality to determine our spirituality. More to the point, great sin and perversion can result when we allow our sexuality to dictate our theology, rather than the other way around.

Consider the example of “The Children of God” (later known as “The Family of Love” and now as “The Family International”). Their
official website appears rather normal and on the surface this group maintains some conservative, fundamentalist Christian beliefs. But they are accurately labeled a cult. Follow this link and this link for a full description, but here are some highlights:

- Their “law of Love” supersedes all other Biblical laws. If an act is unselfish and loving, it is good and acceptable to God. This includes all sexual behaviors and relationships except homosexuality (which is still a sin).
- They encouraged “flirty fishing.” This was the purposeful use of sex as a means of evangelism. Many women were even encouraged to engage in prostitution in order to win souls for Jesus.
- Adult members are allowed to have sex with any other member. In fact, they are encouraged to do so (regardless of marital status) in order to “foster unity” among the members.
- As early as 16, teenagers are encouraged to have sex with other members under 21.
- Since Christians are the bride of Christ, members are taught to imagine that Jesus is having sex with them as they engage in various sexual activities.

So should we be cautious in connecting spirituality and sexuality? To be sure. But when we allow Scripture to serve as our foundation and when we do good theology, there are great lessons to learn. Our spiritual relationships can inform us about our sexual relationships and our sexual relationships can inform us about our spiritual ones.

Another book we will be reading and discussing in class is “Sacred Sex” by Tim Alan Gardner and much of this book is devoted to this line of thinking. I may post some thoughts on the book later (after I have finished it), but for now I’m interested in your observations……

Monday, February 4, 2008

Authentic Sexuality, part 1

Many of you know that I am teaching “Human Sexuality” this semester (for the first time). We are several weeks into the semester and I haven’t had anyone faint from embarrassment – yet. We may have some awkward moments coming up as we discuss anatomy/physiology and the sexual response cycle in the next few class periods. But our discussions so far have been open, honest, and fruitful.

I have several thoughts and observations to make about the topic and our class discussions – today’s post is just the first.

One of our texts (
Authentic Human Sexuality, by Balswick and Balswick) has helped us lay a good theological foundation for the rest of our studies. The Balswicks suggest two options for developing a theology of sexuality. One is to do a search for all references to sexuality in the Bible and then do an exegetical study on each of them. This approach would be worthwhile if the Balswicks’ focus was on sexual morality. But they are interested in more than a list or a review of what is “right and wrong.” In an effort to develop a more comprehensive theology of sexuality, the Balswicks suggest another option – an analogical approach where we study the relationship God has with His people and discover lessons for our own relationships, including sexual ones. In particular, there are lessons to learn from God’s relationship to Israel in the OT and from Jesus’ relationship to the church in the NT. “A relational God establishes a model of human relationships in general and authentic sexual relationships in particular.”

Here’s a very short version of their theology of authentic sexuality. Each of these four elements is found in God’s relationship to us. We should strive for them in our own relationships. (1) Authentic sexuality is based on a covenant commitment – the unconditional and sacrificial pursuit to love and be loved. Inauthentic sexuality is conditional. (2) Authentic sexuality is based on grace – the willingness to forgive and seek forgiveness. Grace restores relationships when they are broken. Grace eliminates shame. And grace prohibits anything that is sexually dehumanizing or degrading. (3) Authentic sexuality is based on empowerment – the decision to serve and be served. Rather than using sexuality as power to control or manipulate, we use it to serve and encourage. We are committed to providing an abundant life to our spouses and to doing whatever is in their best interest. (4) Authentic sexuality is based on intimacy – the desire to deeply know and be known. Intimacy risks vulnerability, requires open communication, and prohibits secrecy.

Observation #1 – Many of us found ourselves a little uneasy discussing God’s relationship to us in sexual terms. We acknowledged it was biblical – here are just two quick illustrations…. The book of Hosea speaks of God’s people committing spiritual adultery and prostitution. And yet God pursues His people with passion – romancing them back to Himself. In addition, Jesus is often described as the groom to his bride (the church). And sexuality is never far removed from the language of marriage. Despite these passages (and others), we still felt uncomfortable with the sexual connections. It seems we have separated sexuality and spirituality to such extremes that they now seem incompatible with each other. How did we ever end up in such a place?

Observation #2 – I am finding Balswicks’ theological framework helpful in working through some of the trickier issues of human sexuality. As students have asked about the appropriateness or certain behaviors and activities, we have looked at each of the four elements proposed by the Balswicks. Rather than giving an easy answer (“that is right” or “this is wrong”) based on some Scripture passages we are likely to take out of context, we can apply the four criteria: Does this behavior/activity promote unconditional love and acceptance? Does it demonstrate grace that eliminates shame and degrading attitudes? Does it seek to accomplish what is in the other person’s best interest? Does it foster communication and deeper levels of intimacy? If something meets these criteria, perhaps it is part of God’s plan for your sexual relationship. If it misses these criteria, perhaps it is not.

Your turn. What do you think of our uneasiness with the spiritual-sexual connection? What do you make of the Balswicks’ theology for authentic sexuality?

Friday, February 1, 2008

Butchers and Baby Bottles

Julie Mayberry spoke in chapel at CBC this week. Folks around here may remember Julie from her time at KATV as a co-host of “Daybreak.” She has a compelling story to tell of her conversion to Christianity in general and of her conversion from pro-choice to pro-life in particular.

Julie shared her story and convictions as CBC kicked off a fundraising campaign for Life Choices this week. Her descriptions of various abortion techniques and methods were graphic. She left no doubt in anyone’s mind as to how horribly violent abortion really is. (If you are not yet convinced of this,
please visit this previous post).

I spoke with students in my classes over the next couple of days. A good number of them felt that Julie’s descriptions were unnecessarily graphic. The consensus among these students seemed to go something like this…. “We are already pro-life and we already know abortion is wrong. We shouldn’t need to be subjected to that kind of disturbing material.”

I was left a little stunned by this line of thinking, frankly. I agree completely that the material is disturbing. It absolutely should be. And while I do not enjoy listening to or watching disturbing material, I appreciate the periodic reminders of how atrocious and barbaric abortion really is. We live in a country that allows people to butcher babies. I’m thankful for people like Julie who make us acknowledge and face evil directly. Without these reminders, I’m likely to ignore evil. It is easier that way. Life is less troublesome and I can pretend all is right with my world. I can avoid being disturbed.

If you are disturbed at the brutal, evil nature of abortion and if you are disturbed that we live in a society that condones such practices, please let that uneasiness motivate you into action. One of the ways you can do something (rather than doing nothing) is to
support places like Life Choices. They offer guidance and assistance to women and men considering abortion. They share the love of Jesus with them while they meet their needs. But they operate solely on donations and they need our financial support.

Here at CBC (and in many area churches), we have started our annual baby bottle fundraising campaign. Please find a bottle and fill it with your change. Don’t let the simplicity fool you – your change makes a crucial difference in the lives of women all over central Arkansas. Pooled together, the baby bottles represent quite a large proportion of the annual budget at LIfeChoices.

Be disturbed. Be disturbed and then decide how you can make a difference.