Blog Archives

The Fluidity of Identity in Today’s World. . . A Thought-Provoking Video. . .

A friend sent me a link to this video yesterday. I understand it’s been around for a few days so my apologies for getting to it perhaps a little late. I found it incredibly enlightening and incredibly disturbing at the same time. This is who we are. That’s enlightening. And, this is who we are. That’s disturbing.

When I read the Scriptures I see that a generation can be lost within the span of one generation. It’s not necessarily over the long haul. When I watch this video, I’m thinking the same thing. I remember how twenty years ago we were talking about the postmodern turn and telling youth workers and parents that “we’re moving into a worldview landscape where there is no such thing as truth. Instead, truth is individualized and fluid based on one’s mood and feelings.” We’re here. And while we were only speculating on how this shift would play out in everyday life. . . well, here’s one example.

So, take a look at this. Then let’s talk about it. Feel free to comment and discuss. In addition, this is a great one to talk about with the kids you know and love. . .

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Who’s In The Rest Room? . . . First Steps In Framing The Issue. . .

Last week at our annual CPYU Banquet, our emcee Greg Anderson offered a few words of introduction right out of the gate. “Who could have imagined when we were here this time last year the changes that would take place in the year ahead.” So true.

Cultural change this last year was fast and furious, especially when it came to sexuality, politics, and sexual politics. For the last couple of weeks I’ve been trying to sort out all the news and what’s behind it when it comes to issues of gender and where we now choose to relieve ourselves.

These are complex, difficult, and head-spinning issues for sure. Running to hide from or choosing to haphazardly lob insensitive and uninformed bombs at those with whom we disagree seem to be popular options, but they aren’t good options for the informed Christian. To be sure, my head is spinning. Consequently, I’m committed to take the approach Paul took when he ventured into Athens (Acts 17). I want to be saturated with a long vein of Biblical truth and orthodoxy, I want to know history, and I want to listen and learn before speaking. It’s so difficult in so many ways. I also want to fulfill my God-given responsibility to teach kids the truth, and I want to protect them from potential harm of any type.

In an effort to be faithful to the Scriptures and redemptive in our approach, a good first step is to “frame” the issue. Maybe we need to close the frame where it needs to be tightened. And maybe we need to expand the frame where it needs to be expanded. Ultimately, for me, it’s James Davidson Hunter’s posture of “faithful presence” (faithful to the Word, present in the world) that seems to be the most obedient and best option. How that’s going to pan out, I’m still not sure.  That’s why the first step is to frame this thing with some assumptions. . . or, some realities that we must recognize as we work to take our initial faithful steps onto this new cultural landscape. Here’s what I’m thinking. . .

This is an incredibly complex issue. My friend Steve Garber told me three years ago that this is “the most complex, tender, and difficult issue we face in the church right now.” Face it we must. We can’t jump to quick conclusions or make it too simple. If we do, we risk getting it wrong and never having a voice.

We don’t own the conversation. In other words, the ball is not in our court. It’s the culture that’s having and leading the conversation. We’re aliens and pilgrims, remember? Consequently, we must be invited in. We must listen hard and study hard. In effect, we must assume the posture of a cross-cultural missionary. Read Acts 17.

If you don’t support LGBTQ marriage, LGBTQ rights, or free choice when it comes to preferred rest rooms, you are an ignorant bigot. That’s just the way it is right now. We must stick to the truth and God’s design as sound exegesis and hermeneutical method lead us to a proper understanding of God’s desires for our sexuality, but we must also jettison any extra posture/communication baggage that would warrant the “ignorant bigot” label. In other words, let the offensive Gospel be offensive. We can’t let our offensiveness get in the way of the offensiveness of the Gospel.

We must repent and ask forgiveness where necessary. We must confess our lack of civility, lack of Biblical depth, lack of love, lack of grace, lack of mercy, and lack of neighborliness. We must also confess our own sexual brokenness, otherwise we are nothing but hypocrites. To arrogantly attack these issues without seriously recognizing and addressing our own issues is flat-out wrong.

It’s not just something happening “out there.” These are our kids and our families. These issues are no respecter of persons.

When it comes to kids, you may be the only voice speaking to them about biblical sexuality. If that’s so, you will get pushback. Patience and tact are necessary when basic worldview assumptions are being challenged by what sounds like an incomprehensible foreign language.

Our kids are incredibly vulnerable to the cultural narrative. Remember, two of the main tasks of adolescence are identity formation and worldview formation. The years of childhood and adolescence are formative. So, we must be “forming” them.

The situation has become more complex due to age compression and age aspiration. Simply stated, the stuff we used to face as 18-year-olds,  kids now have to process in first grade. And with kids wanting to appear, feel, and be treated as much older than they are, the ante is upped on how young they face these things. Parents. . . take note: You need to have some serious and difficult conversations at uncomfortable ages.

Child-centered parenting has accelerated cultural change on issues of sexual identity and practice. In all honestly, I am baffled by parents who let their kids hold the reigns on their choice of identity at younger and younger ages. . . even pre-school.

We will be forced to face very difficult, uncomfortable, and new situations. Well, we’re here already.

These are not the worst of times culturally. Human sexuality has been broken since Genesis 3:6. Cultural history is filled with a variety of expressions of sexual brokenness. This is nothing new.

This is good for the church. Seriously. For too long we’ve been lazy, entitled, and running on cruise control. . . which has led not only to the loss of our voice, but to ignorance on what we should be saying and doing. God is and will be using this to build His church and advance the Gospel. However, we have a responsibility to seriously, prayerfully, and responsibly examine the Scriptures. . . relying on revelation rather than speculation.

Stay tuned. . .

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Girls and Sex. . . An Interview With Peggy Orenstein. . .

For some reason, releasing books on kids and sex is in season. Perhaps the reason is that the topic must be addressed because sex and sexuality have not only taken center stage in the world of pop culture, but they are at the center of kids’ lives and their search for identity. Of course, you’d have to be blind and incredibly ignorant to not see this coming. Fact is, we live in a hypersexualized world.

Yesterday I listened to an interview with Peggy Orenstein, author of the just-released and hot-selling Girls & Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape. I want to encourage you to take 47 minutes and 4 seconds to listen to Orenstein’s interview with Terry Gross on NPR’s Fresh Air. If you hold to a Christian worldview, you will most certainly be disturbed by Orenstein’s findings. You will also disagree with Orenstein’s foundational beliefs about sex. . . something that she addresses in a straightforward manner and with some interesting insights towards the end of the podcast. You need to listen. This folks, is why we’ve started our Sexual Integrity Initiative here at CPYU.

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Getting Love Right. . . .

Happy Valentine’s Day. As I was eating my breakfast this morning in a hotel lobby, I was reminded that this is the weekend we celebrate love and fill the pockets of the folks at Hallmark. A fifty-something husband enthusiastically called his wife away from the cereal bins and back to the table where he was sitting in front of the large-screen television. “Come watch this!” he said. He not only redirected his wife’s attention, but mine as well. I looked up from my paper and watched Hoda Kotb’s story on the making and debut of her “Little Romance” music video, featuring singer Ingrid Michaelson.

In a world where music video typically focuses on equating sex with love, this one was a breath of fresh air. There was no entitlement, sexual bravado, explicit lyrics, or misogyny. Instead, what I saw was a fascinating and refreshing more-accurate take on love as a group of elderly fifty-plus-year’s married couples continued to act on the commitments they had made to each other so many, many years ago.

From my vantage point at my table, I was not only able to watch the video, but the husband and wife at the other table. Something told me that their marriage is one marked by commitment. They smiled and kept exchanging glances as they watched. And when the “Little Romance” video had ended, the wife wiped tears from her eyes.

The contrast between our understandings of love, sex, and marriage both then and now are striking. I wonder if fifty-plus years from now the pool of candidates for a similar music video will be markedly smaller? That’s probably a safe assumption judging from the different cultural narratives different generations are following.

We need to correct the cultural script for love, sex, and marriage. For the past couple of weeks I’ve been working through Jonathan Grant’s wonderful new book, Divine Sex: A Compelling Vision For Christian Relationships in a Hypersexualized Age. Grant does a great job of unpacking where we’ve been getting it wrong, along with how the Author of love, sex, and marriage guides us to get it right. Grant says that the way we view and live out love, sex, and marriage in today’s world is largely dictated not by our commitments to God, but by our commitments to being individuals who are authentic to ourselves. In other words, we endeavor to be true not to the Scriptures, but to our deepest impulses.

Grant says it this way. . . Living in an age of authenticity has placed heavy burdens on intimate relationships and has left couples striving to build security and meaning on its hopelessly weak foundations. Because of our culture’s move away from transcendence, or a belief in God as the source of reality, we have come to place the full weight of our personal identity on ordinary life – our material here-and-now existence. Rather than becoming free and expansive, our relationships have become narrow and constrained, having no purpose beyond themselves. This exclusive focus has seismically destabilized them in two ways: (1) the burden they bear becomes overwhelming because of the expectation that all of our psychological, emotional, material, and sexual needs will be met by one remarkable soul mate, and (2) the very bond we crave is undermined by the inwardly focused nature of the “authentic” self. We do not so much give ourselves to a relationship as expect the relationship to give to us.

Our most intimate relationships are looked to by each partner as a primary source of happiness and self-actualization, measured in narrow terms of personal gratification. Am I getting what I need from this relationship? Does it make me happy? Do the benefits outweigh the costs? The assumption is that a relationship may last until death if it continues to fulfill each person, but to make a lifelong commitment at the beginning makes no sense. The cruel irony is that contemporary men and women view intimate relationships as essential to their personal identity, but they struggle to commit themselves fully to those same relationships. We can only find genuine personal meaning by making strong commitments beyond ourselves. Because relationships are no longer seen from a transcendent perspective, they are divorced from any greater purpose than one’s own happiness and intimacy.

Tragically, Grant’s analysis is spot-on. This is how our kids are learning to live and “love.” This is how our kids. . . unless corrected. . . are going to live and “love.”

One of the most fascinating bits of information communicated by Grant in <em>Divine Sex</em> is some insight into the nature of romantic love as described by anthropologist Helen Fisher, who has observed that romantic love has been an essential part of every civilization we know of. Could it be that romantic love. . . understood and practiced properly. . . reflects the shalom of God’s created order before the fall? Certainly. Genesis speaks clearly to that reality. Because of that, Fisher’s insights are extremely helpful. Fisher says that there are three distinct stages of attachment in intimate relationships that can be tracked through neuroscience and brain scans. When understood within the context of the biblical order and design for love, sex, and marriage, Fisher’s stages are helpful and something we need to explain to our kids.

First, there is the obsession of early romantic love. Remember that? I sure do! This stage is one of infatuation. When people in this stage underwent brain scans, it was discovered that falling for someone impacts the same brain centers as cocaine, and with similar intensity. This stage has a short life span. Sadly, when we equate infatuation with love, we set ourselves up for disappointment and then “fall out of love” very quickly.

Second, there is the stage of sexual intimacy. While the cultural script encourages us to indulge our sexuality without borders and boundaries, the biblical script calls us to indulge our sexuality within the context of the covenant of marriage. It makes sense then, that God gave us the gift of sex to create and strengthen the “spiritual-emotional attachment” and the strong physiological attachment that also occurs. Fisher says that this is why we need to understand that there is no such thing as “casual sex.” Two become one flesh. . . just as God intended.

Finally, there is the stage of deep emotional attachment. Fisher describes this as the deep sense of peace, warmth, and security we can feel with our spouse.

If we mistakenly believe that Stage 1 is what it’s all about, we are only setting ourselves up for failure and disappointment. . . over and over and over again. Sadly, we see that happening all around us. But for the couples in the “Little Romance” video and scores of others like them, their unwavering commitment (even in the face of the difficulties that are sure to come when two broken people commit themselves to one another) is the glue that cements them together for life. And with commitment present, they are able to grow in their love by God’s grace, realizing that when things might start to break, they work to fix their marriage rather than throw it out.

The question for all of us and our kids is one that Grant asks: How do we envision practices and habits that help to foster fidelity rather than enslavement to the recurring cycle of infatuation?

We can start by knowing the cultural narrative on love, sex, and marriage. Then, we can offer the liberating corrective given to us in the Scriptures. That’s what’s needed to teach ourselves and our kids to love well to the glory of the One who loves us and has given us the gift of love.

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Framing Love, Sex, and Marriage. . .

Later today, I’ll be doing something in a more organized and formal manner for the first time. Up to this points, my discussions on this particular issue have come in personal conversations or in response to on-the-spot questions during seminars. Today, I’ll be prepared thoughts to a group of youth workers on the topic of youth ministry and same-sex attraction. I’ve been asked specifically to do this because they know that for the last three years I’ve been concentrating the bulk of my reading and study on the topic. . . trying to learn as much as I can about cultural beliefs, clinical realities, and Scriptural guidelines. I’ve read across the spectrum of viewpoints in an effort to be open and fair. And naturally, all these endeavors have extended far beyond the parameters of the issue of same-sex attraction to the larger issues of love, sex, and marriage. The journey of listening and learning is not over for me by any stretch of the imagination. It continues. (Got some funny looks on the airplane yesterday as I was reading Jonathan Grant’s book, Divine Sex!)

For me, my conscious first memories of engaging in the simplest of ways with the topic of love began in Kindergarten. Every year when I was in elementary school, I would spend the evening of February 13 punching out two-dozen Valentine’s Day cards from perforated sheets, signing them with my name, and stuffing them in envelopes. . . each one addressed to a different member of my class. Back then, we used those little dime-store cards to send the same message to everyone. . . male and female as I remember it. . . “Will you be my Valentine?”

Now that I’m grown-up, I often think back to those days and wonder if our willingness to throw our meager and meaningless little expressions of “love” around might have contributed in some way to the widespread confusion about the nature of romance that seems to have gone viral throughout our culture. When I look around at our cultural expressions (movies, TV, music, etc.) and personal practices (premarital sex, cohabitation, sexual identity issues, etc.) I wonder if anyone even knows where to go to gain a clear understanding on matters of love, sex, and marriage.

Sadly, we’ve forgotten that love, sex, and marriage all have their origins in God’s good creation. The Creator of humanity has given us love, sex, and marriage as a gift. In Genesis 2:24 we read, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” When understood in this light, we see that our current cultural beliefs and behaviors might not be what they’re supposed to be.

During the coming month where we celebrate Valentine’s Day, why not take the time to teach the kids you and know and love God’s good truth about His order and design for marriage? Theologian John Stott reminds us that we need to see that Genesis 2:24 tells us that marriage is a relationship with 5 facets. Share each of these with your kids:

-Marriage is meant to be heterosexual. It is between a man and a woman. . . nothing more or nothing less.

-Marriage is meant to be monogamous. It is a relationship reserved for one man and one woman.

-Marriage is meant to be a commitment. A man is to leave his father and hold fast to his wife. What’s missing in a relationship where a couple simply chooses to live together is a commitment.

-Marriage is meant to be public. The leaving from parents is a social occasion where a couple commits themselves to each other in front of family and friend.

-Marriage is meant to be physical. A couple becomes one flesh by consummating their commitment to each other through the act of sexual intercourse, something God’s given them to indulge with each other exclusively!

The culture is educating our kids 24/7 on the nature of love, sex, and marriage. Are you telling them the truth?

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Invited To A Same-Sex Wedding? What Now? . . .

Over the course of the last few months, I’ve had a handful of phone calls and emails from people soliciting advice on how to respond to an invitation they’ve received to a same-sex wedding. Some have received the invitations from friends and co-workers. Others, from a sibling or relative. And, I’ve had two conversations with parents trying to sort out how to best respond to invitations from a deeply loved son or daughter.

These are not easy issues for the follower of Christ who believes beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Scriptures communicate a divine design for marriage. . . one that clearly defines marriage as a life-long, covenantal, monogamous commitment between one man and one woman. The more I study, pray, read, and think about these tender and difficult matters, I see the aforementioned as God’s clear order and design for His gift of marriage.

Holding to this increasingly counter-cultural view of marriage is setting the table for difficult decisions that have to be handled prayerfully, carefully, and with tenderness. As I’ve chatted with people seeking advice, I realize how difficult it is to navigate these things. . . especially when I put myself in their place. What if it was my child?

Last week, my good friends at Harvest USA published an article by John Freeman and Nicholas Black, “What to Do? Responding to an Invitation to a Same-Sex Wedding.” I love the way the folks at Harvest USA address these new cultural realities with two-feet planted firmly in the Scriptures, while thinking with compassion about how to best engage with a rapidly changing culture. As I read the article, I realized that it offers a good starting point that can help us think through these things. I contacted them and asked if I could pass the article (from the 2015 print edition of the Harvest USA newsletter) in its entirety on to you. I hope you’ll find it helpful. . .

With the legalization of gay marriage, Christians more often find themselves invited to same-sex marriage ceremonies.  This poses a dilemma for believers of whether to attend an event that celebrates a life-union that God nowhere approves of in Scripture.

Declining to attend seems like an easy solution.  But because it involves friendships or family connections, the matter can be quite complex. The issue is more difficult if the wedding involves a child or other close family member (for additional insights, read our mini book: Your Gay Child Says “I Do”).

Reaching a decision will involve careful theological reflection, an understanding of your relationship with the one(s) getting married, and earnest prayer. Here are some things to think about that we hope can help you make a wise decision.

The space for this article is not sufficient to adequately examine the scope of Scripture on this matter, but here are three Scriptural principles that should guide you.

  1. Be in the world but not of it. Knowing how to engage with the world is important for Christians.  Being set apart from the world (who we are and how our lives reflect who we live for) is demonstrated by our living in the world. Loving and investing (time) in our neighbor is the means by which the world comes to know God.
  2. Freedom in Christ. 1 Corinthians 8 and 10, and Romans 14, are key passages where Paul argues for the freedom of the believer to engage with others in society, centered around the contentious issue of that day: eating meat from an idol’s temple. For Paul, (Christian) freedom involves examining issues of motivation, concern for the impact on other believers, and the context of the situation (see 1 Cor. 10: 23-33 and Romans 14:20-23).  Freedom in Christ enables us to think through how our actions affect others.
  3. Faith/conscience. Paul’s conclusion in Romans 14 is that we decide on issues such as these based on conscience, and that if one remains unsettled, then it is wiser to not participate, because it “is not from faith.” Christians can stand on both sides of difficult issues, so the freedom we have in Christ to discern how to live strategically in the world should move us to extend grace to those who decide differently.

After examining Scripture (which must be the basis for all decisions), here are some relationship issues that can guide you in making a decision.

  1. What is your current relationship to the person getting married?Are they a casual co-worker, friend or distant relative, or someone you have a closer relationship with (like a family member)?  Has the invitation been given to everyone in your office, department or family?  Or, has it been given to you because you have a closer relationship?  These factors can help you determine how best to respond.  For example, if the person is someone you have a good friendship with, then you are in a position to speak directly to him or her about the issue of attending.  If your friend knows you are a Christian, then this becomes another opportunity (or maybe the first!) to discuss your faith and how that influences your decision.
  2. What would you be trying to convey by your attendance? Some people make the distinction between supporting the person, whom they love and care about, and supporting the event, of which they don’t approve. In making this distinction, it can communicate that attendance is not an implicit approval of their marriage. This is a meaningful distinction.  We do this constantly in our other relationships, communicating our differences but remaining involved in each other’s lives. This distinction may depend on how vocal you have been about your faith.  What kinds of conversations have you had?  Do they know you are a Christian?  Do they know your views about homosexuality?  If so, your presence could actually “stun” them or really mess up the categories they may have about “Christians” like you.  Christians, living intentionally by the gospel, can sometimes be confusing to people, causing them to rethink their positions and perhaps see new and bigger realities.  That’s a good thing. If you feel that attending would lend weight to your Christian witness, then you might go. Your attendance would be in line with your desire to pursue a relationship because you care for them, and you want to keep the relationship open to have further opportunities to share the gospel with them.
  3. What are you concerned about if you decide to attend? Are you afraid that your attendance would communicate your approval?  Or, are you afraid of explaining why you feel you cannot attend?  Are you afraid you would not know how to act or how to talk with other guests, most who would support the marriage? There can be lots of fear involved in making this decision.  Ask the Lord to guide you regarding all these issues.  Fear or anxiety about disappointing someone is never a good motivator to make a decision.  A better question is this:  What response might cause further openness to the gospel?
  4. If you decide you cannot attend, could you substitute something else? If you reach the conclusion that you cannot attend, you might consider an alternative response.  For instance, giving a card or gift would still show your care for them and acknowledge that this was an important day for them (it was, but you don’t necessarily have to join in on the celebration). If you are close to the person or couple, but still conclude that you cannot attend, then consider taking them out to lunch or dinner.  Of course, this may be an uncomfortable get-together, especially if the person will feel hurt by your absence.  But a quick follow-up may go a long way toward bringing understanding and another opportunity for you to share your faith. Another decision some people make is to not attend the wedding (because of the nature of wedding vows) but to attend the reception (if this is, of course, agreed upon by the wedding couple).
  5. Do one or both parties claim to be Christians? Someone once said, “We shouldn’t expect Christian behavior from non-Christian people.”  If the person or persons getting married are unbelievers, this doesn’t mean you have an unhindered green light to attend—but if someone claims to be a Christian and yet is in rebellion to God’s design and intention for how his people should live, and is celebrating it and inviting others to join in, then that is another matter. Many would argue that even if one of the parties is a confessing Christian, attending would be entering into their delusion that the marriage union is fine with God and is sanctioned by him.  But some will make the distinction that attending is not the same as approving.

As you can see, these are hard issues!  Your decision must come from wrestling with Scripture, drenched in prayer, and talked through with close friends or family members.  But know this:  that your wrestling with this is itself evidence of your heart wanting to do the right thing to honor Christ and to open doors for the gospel.  Realize that there is no ONE answer to this, but there isone thing you can count on:  like Jesus, you’ll probably be misunderstood regarding the implications of any choice you make.  So, when you make your decision, know that you have made it on the basis of what will honor God, and be at peace on that basis.

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Sexting and Teens. . . Some Helpful Resources and Talking Points. . .

It’s been a little over a week since the news broke about the sexting ring at Canon City High School in Colorado. Early reports were that at least 100 students were involved in distributing at least 300 to 400 nude photographs, including pictures of Canon City School high school and middle school students. Needless to say, the area is now trying to sort out a parenting, educational, and legal nightmare.

As we say here at CPYU, the people in Canon City have been forced into the redemptive or response mode. It’s for this reason that we’re adamant about trumpeting the need for parents, churches, schools, and communities to exercise a prophetic and preventive influence in the hope that these kinds of things won’t happen. . . at least as extensively or severely.

The prophetic mode is where we tell the truth about sexting from a biblical perspective. We explain that it is a horribly flawed and broken expression of the God-given gift of our sexuality. We also tell them that it is immoral, sinful, and wrong. In fact, we should flee from it! (I Corinthians 6:18).

The preventive mode is our effort to derail sexting by explaining ahead of time the moral, spiritual, relational, ethical, and legal consequences of sexting. In other words, consider now the consequences that could stick with you for life if you choose in the moment to send and/or receive sexually explicit texts and/or photos.

In an effort to help you talk about this subject with your kids, I’m passing on two resources. The first is our free downloadable handout on sexting that can be found on our Digital Kids Initiative page. The second is the video embedded below. . . 8 Things You and Your Teen Need to Know About Sexting. . .from our friends at Common Sense Media.


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Have You Ever Prayed About Seduce-ability? . . .

We are all highly susceptible. . . and we need to recognize this reality. Proverbs warns us about just staying on guard. . . all the time. . . against the efforts. Proverbs chapter 7 offers a sobering warning against it. Today’s cultural landscape is fertile ground for seduction.

In today’s entry in Scotty Smith’s Everyday Prayers, we read these words from Proverbs:

With much seductive speech she persuades him; with her smooth talk she compels him. All at once he follows her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as a stag is caught fast till an arrow pierces its liver; as a bird rushes into snare; he does not know that it will cost him his life. And now, O sons, listen to me, and be attentive to the words of my mouth. Let not your heart turn aside to her ways; do not stray into her paths, for many a victim has she laid low, and all her slain are a mighty throng. Her house is the way to Sheol, going down to the chambers of death. – Proverbs 7:21-27

Then, Scotty Smith shares this prayer that is timely for all of us. . . everyday. . .

“Dear Lord Jesus, what a sobering Scripture. But we shouldn’t be shocked, for you created us for rich intimacy and satisfying communion with yourself; the likes of which, even our best relationships, are just a hint, a whisper, and symbol. But alas, like all good things, our longings for intimacy get hijacked by sin and sabotaged by selfishness.

seduceabilityWhen it comes to relational and sexual sin, Samson and King David don’t stand (and fall) alone. Every one of us is capable of being seduced and seducing others. We need the gospel to keep us sane, centered, and satisfied.

For there are many lonely husbands, wives, and singles who are primed for a fling, targets for an affair, on the cusp of a “hook up”—aching, yearning, reaching for a few minutes of pleasure to medicate months, years, even a lifetime of disconnect and emptiness. It may never become physically sexual, but sometimes just the emotional connection can bring an exhilaration bordering on intoxication; and it is an intoxication that can lead to addiction; and an addiction that leads to death.

But Jesus, how well we know that it’s not just lonely and unhappily married people who veer onto the “grave highway” leading to the “chambers of death.” Even when we’re connecting well, even when our marriages are at a good place, or even when we’re quite content and fulfilled in our singleness, our seduce-ability is ever present. It may be dormant, perhaps, but never dead.

I know the way of grace is neither paranoia nor presumption; it’s rather wisdom, care, and freedom. You are constantly wooing us in the gospel, saying, “Come away, my beloved.” Your desire is for us and your banner over us is love. Indeed, whom do we have in heaven but you, Lord Jesus, and being with you, who or what could we possibly desire more on this earth? You alone have the words of eternal life, and your love alone is better than life. So very Amen we pray, in your tender and tenacious name.”

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