Saturday, August 31, 2019

Only Lazy Pastors Work Hard


(Linda, in Trinidad - we we there a few years ago)


In The Contemplative Pastor Eugene Peterson subversively quotes C.S. Lewis as saying "only lazy people work hard." Peterson is especially referring to pastors: only lazy pastors work hard. Why?

Lazy pastors become busy and work hard for two ignoble reasons:

1.                  I am busy because I am vain. I want to appear important. Significant. What better way than to be busy? (Kindle Location 156)
2.                   I am busy because I am lazy. I indolently let others decide what I will do instead of resolutely deciding myself. I let people who do not understand the work of the pastor write the agenda for my day's work because I am too slipshod to write it myself. (Kindle Locations 161-163)

When God calls you to do something, your doing is relevant because it emerges from your being-with God. Then, be relevantly busy and hard-working. But...

... re. #2 Peterson writes:


"By lazily abdicating the essential work of deciding and directing, establishing values and setting goals, other people do it for us; then we find ourselves frantically, at the last minute, trying to satisfy a half dozen different demands on our time, none of which is essential to our vocation, to stave off the disaster of disappointing someone…

… How can I lead people into the quiet place beside the still waters if I am in perpetual motion? How can I persuade a person to live by faith and not by works if I have to juggle my schedule constantly to make everything fit into place?" (Kindle Locations 166-171)

Friday, August 30, 2019

5 Key Aspects of a Pentecostal Worldview

Times Square
If you are in the world of Pentecostal Jesus-following (like I am),  and looking for scholarship on the things we deeply believe, read James K.A. Smith's Thinking in Tongues: Pentecostal Contributions to Christian Philosophy  It's solid, brilliant. Smith affirms the now-experience of the Holy Spirit and draws on deep hermeneutical thinkers like Paul Ricoeur. (Ricoeur was important in my doctoral work, esp. his The Rule of Metaphor: Multi-disciplinary Studies of the Creation of Meaning in Language.)

Smith's book puts forth a Pentecostal "worldview" "or, following Charles Taylor, a Pentecostal "social imaginary."" He gives "five key aspects of a Pentecostal worldview." They are:

  1. A position of radical openness to God, and in particular, God doing something differently or new." So, for example, in our pentecostal-Baptist context we don't have an "order of service." We have, as Smith would say, "a fundamental openness to alterity or otherness." We have "an openness to the continuing (and sometimes surprising) operations of the Spirit in church and world, particularly the continued ministry of the Spirit, including continuing revelation, prophecy, and the centrality of charismatic giftings in the ecclesial community."
  2. "An "enchanted" theology of creation and culture that perceives the material creation as "charged" with the presence of gthe Spirit, but also with other spirits (including demons and "principalities and powers"), with entailed expectations regarding both miracles and spiritual warfare."
  3. "A nondualistic affirmation of embodiment and materiality expressed in an emphasis on physical healing."
  4. A rootedness "in an affective, narrative epistemology" because of, in contrast to rationalistic evangelical theology, "an emphasis on the role of experience."
  5. "An eschatological orientation to mission and justice, both expressed in terms of empowerment, with a certain "preferential option for the marginalized." (If this last point surprises you see Donald Miller, Global Pentecostalism: The New Face of Christian Social Engagement.)

Thursday, August 29, 2019

40 Evidences That You May Have Left Your First Love


This is from Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth.

40 Evidences That You May
Have Left Your First Love

  1. You can go hours or days without having more than a passing thought of Him.
  2. You don’t have a strong desire to spend time with Him.
  3. You don’t have a strong hunger for the Word; Bible reading is a “chore”—something to mark off your “to do” list.
  4. Spending time in prayer is a burden/duty rather than a delight.
  5. Your worship is formal, dry, lifeless, merely going through the motions.
  6. Private prayer and worship are almost non-existent . . . cold and dry.
  7. You are more concerned about physical health, well-being, and comfort than about the well-being and condition of your soul.
  8. You crave physical food, while having little appetite for spiritual food.
  9. You crave human companionship more than a relationship with Christ.
  10. You spend more time and effort on your physical appearance than on cultivating  inner spiritual beauty to please Christ.
  11. Your heart toward Christ is cold and indifferent; not tender as it once was, not easily moved by the Word, talk of spiritual things, etc.
  12. Christianity is more of a checklist than a relationship with Christ.
  13. You measure spirituality (yours/others’) by performance rather than the condition of the heart.
  14. Christianity is defined more what by what you “do” than who you “are” (“doing”  vs. “being”).
  15. Your obedience and service are motivated and fueled by expectations of others or a desire to impress others, more than by passion for Christ.
  16. You are more concerned about what others think and pleasing them, than about what God knows and pleasing Christ.
  17. Your service for Christ and others is motivated by a sense of duty or obligation.
  18. You find yourself becoming resentful over the hardships and demands of serving Christ and others.
  19. You can talk with others about kids, marriage, weather, and the news, but struggle to talk about the Lord and spiritual matters.
  20. You have a hard time coming up with something fresh to share in a testimony service at church or when someone asks, “What’s God been doing in your life?”
  21. You are formal, rigid, and uptight about spiritual things, rather than joyful and winsome.
  22. You are critical or harsh toward those who are doctrinally off-base or living in sin.
  23. You enjoy secular songs, movies, and books more than songs or reading material that point you to Christ.
  24. You prefer the company of people who don’t love Christ, to the company and fellowship of those who do.
  25. You are more interested in recreation, entertainment, and having “fun” than in cultivating intimacy with Christ through worship, prayer, the Word, and Christian fellowship.
  26. You display attitudes or are involved in activities that you know are contrary to Scripture, but you continue in them anyway.
  27. You justify “small” areas of disobedience or compromise.
  28. You have been drawn back into sin habits that you put off when you were a young believer.
  29. “Little” things that used to disturb your conscience, no longer do.
  30. You are slow to respond to conviction over sin—or you ignore it altogether.
  31. You enjoy certain sins and want to hang onto them. You are unwilling to give them up for Christ.
  32. You are not grieved by sin—it’s no big deal to you.
  33. You are consistently allured by certain sins.
  34. You are self-righteous—more concerned about sin in others’ lives than in your own.
  35. You are more concerned about having the right position than the right disposition.
  36. You tend to hold tightly to money and things, rather than being quick to give to meet the needs of others.
  37. You rarely give sacrificially to the Lord’s work.
  38. You rarely have a desire or burden to give, when you hear of legitimate financial needs within the Body, your church, or a ministry.
  39. Accumulating and maintaining material “things” consumes more time and effort on your part than seeking after and cultivating spiritual riches.
  40. You have broken relationships with other believers that you are unwilling or have not attempted to reconcile.
SO...? 
To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: "The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands."
I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false.
I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.
Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent . . . .
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God."
(Rev. 2:1–7)

The Words of Jesus Were Events

(Butterfly House, Whitehouse, Ohio)

I wrote my doctoral dissertation on metaphor theory and linguistic philosophy; especially, how metaphors referI draw on this research in my chapter on the language of presence-driven churches in my book Leading the Presence-Driven Church

One source is speech act theory (John Searle, and J. L. Austin's How to Do Things with Words)

Henri Nouwen, in Gracias! A Latin American Journal, links Austin's idea that words have "illocutionary force" with the biblical idea that Jesus is "the Word." Nouwen writes:

"In Jesus, no division existed between his words and his actions, between what he said and what he did. Jesus’ words were his action, his words were events. They not only spoke about changes, cures, new life, but they actually created them. In this sense, Jesus is truly the Word made flesh; in that Word all is created and by that Word all is re-created."

Nouwen encourages us to have what I am calling illocutionary integrity.

"Saintliness means living without division between word and action. If I would truly live in my own life the word I am speaking, my spoken words would become actions, and miracles would happen whenever I open my mouth."

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

What to Do When My Demands Are Not Met

(Flower, in my back yard)
Unsurprisingly, things in my life have not all gone the way I desired them to go. How am I to handle all these disappointments?

Thomas Merton, in his journals, wrote about life in the monastery of Gethsemane, in Kentucky. One theme was his struggle with the CEO of Gethsemane (the "Abbot"), Dom James. Dom James had problems, as Merton saw things. Merton knew he had to accept Dom James's leadership, and wrote:

"I do not criticize Dom James – his nature is what it is, and he must see things as he does. And he is the Abbot God has willed for me." (Merton, Thomas (2010-10-19). Learning To Love: Exploring Solitude and Freedom, The Journals of Thomas Merton, p. 27.)  


Then Merton had this insight: "I know I will never have things exactly as I wish they ought to be – and as I would take pride in them." (Ib.)


In that singular sentence I see a free person. Merton was free of the terrible burden of always having to have things go his own way. (This is how Richard Foster puts it in Celebration of Discipline. This is how Jesus puts it, when he tells Peter, "One day someone will tie a belt around your waist and take you where you do not wish to go.")


Is that really a terrible burden? Wouldn't it be ideal to have everything go our own way? As interesting as these questions are, they are irrelevant, because everything in life will not go the way you want them to. More than that, everything in life should not go your way, unless you are a God who always knows the way the world and people need to go.


The person who needs things to be exactly as they wish them to be will be forever weighed down by the fact of a mighty non-happening. They will be everlastingly miserable, as demand after demand remains unmet. And, they will be angry.


But one who learns how to be, in and through whatever comes their way, is the free person, living transcendent to life's circumstances. (Also called: living by faith.)

Pray to be free of the need to have things always go as you demand them to go.


**
My three books are:

Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God

Leading the Presence-Driven Church

Encounters with the Holy Spirit (co-edited with Janice Trigg)

I'm currently writing:

Transformation: How God Changes the Human Heart

Then, the Lord willing, 

Technology and Spiritual Formation

Linda and I then intend to write our book on Relationships.

God's Commands are Events (They Have Illocutionary Force)


(Monroe County Community College)

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.
- Genesis 1:3

When God said "Let there be light" it was not in the sense of "Permit there to be light." Rather, as John Goldingay writes, it was in the sense of "There is to be light" or "There must be light" or "There shall be light." God simply demands, like a theater director, "Light!"" (Goldingay, Old Testament Theology: Israel's Gospel, 32) Like: "Lights! Camera! Action!"


When God says "Light!" that is enough to make it happen. So we read "and there was light." 


Goldingay writes:


"The process involves supreme illogic. There is nowhere the suggestion that somewhere there is a dynamic source of light that can put forth light. In the same way, when God says "The waters are to gather together" or "The earth is to put forth vegetation," there is no implication that waters or earth already have the potential to obey these commands. It is the command that mysteriously generates them, as words can." (Ib., emphasis mine)


Philosopher J.L. Austin, in his philosophically famous book How to Do Things With Words, explained how certain words can do things; that is, certain words, said by people who have authority, have "illocutionary force." In such cases, saying makes it so. 


For example, because I am a pastor recognized by the state of Michigan, when I say the words to a couple "I now pronounce you husband and wife," they are, upon my pronouncement, husband and wife. But should you, assuming you are not a pastor, walk up to a couple on the street and utter the words "I now pronounce you husband and wife," nothing will happen. Your speech act will "do" nothing, except perhaps get you a trip to the hospital. In Austin's language, your speech act "misfires," because you lack the authority to do such things with your words.


It was Jesus' claim to perform illocutionary acts with his words that had the religious leaders marveling about his authority. In Mark 9:10, for example, Jesus states that he, the Son of Man, has the authority to forgive sins. Then Jesus tells a paralyzed man, "Get up, take up your mat, and go home." Here Jesus' words do two things: 


1) at his word one's sins are forgiven; and 


2) at his word the paralyzed man is healed.


God said "Let there be light." And light came into existence.


Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.

- Matthew 10:1

Because of this God-given authority our words have illocutionary force. Our words, like God's, can become events.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

J. P. Moreland on "Happiness" as a Terrible Goal

(Sunset on Kelley's Island, Ohio, Lake Erie)

Theistic philosopher J.P. Moreland, in The Lost Virtue of Happiness, writes about "happiness" as a poor goal to be sought after in. J.P. presented this material at our HSRM/Green Lake conference a few years ago. 

The bullets are:
·  American people are addicted to happiness, and they overemphasize its importance in life.
·  If, right now, you are not tremendously happy, that's OK.
· Yet, in America, if you are not happy, or your children are not happy, it seems like the world is falling apart.
· Given the American emphasis on happiness, are Americans happy?
·  The answer, says Moreland (drawing on Martin Seligman's research), is that the rate of depression and loss of happiness has increased tenfold in the span of just one generation in America. We Americans are not a bunch of happy campers. We have an epidemic of depression and a loss of happiness.
· Yet, the Boomer generation is twice as rich, a lot healthier, more youthful, and a lot safer than our predecessors were fifty years ago. These are the kind of things that have defined the "American Dream." We are now living in this Dream. We have more discretionary time. We have more money. It takes longer to age. So we feel younger, longer. But, J.P. says, "There's just one problem with this. All of this has not only not made Americans happier. We're slowly getting worse."
·  Why is this happening? Seligman's answer is this. "The Baby Boom generation forgot how to live for something bigger than they were." Americans have been taught to get up each morning and live for their own selves and try to find meaning in their own lives, rather than live for something other than their own well-being and bigger than they are. 
·  From Moses to Solomon, to Plato and Aristotle, to Jesus and Augustine and Aquinas, to the Reformers all the way up to the 1900s, everyone meant the same thing by 'happiness.' But from the 1920s/30s on, a new definition of 'happiness' was introduced and lived by. This new definition of 'happiness' is: "a feeling of pleasurable satisfaction." (See here, e.g.)
·  "Happiness' has become a positive feeling. Moreland is not against positive feelings. He'd rather experience them than their opposite. But there are two problems with this definition of happiness: 

1) pleasurable feelings are not big enough to build your life around; and 

2) the more you try to get of it the less of it you have. 

Moreland concludes: "The best way to be happy is largely to forget about it."
·  If 'happiness' is the feeling you have, say, when your team wins; and the goal of life is to be happy, which means to retain that kind of feeling; then your goal this year is to make sure that your job, your spouse, your church, your children, etc., help you achieve that positive feeling called 'happiness.' All the aforenamed things (job, wife) are but a means to making you happy. If a man's 4-year-old wife doesn't make him happy he may trade her in for a 20-year-old woman that gives him that hap-hap-happy feeling.
·  The ancient definition of 'happiness,' used by Aristotle, is contained in the word Greek word eudaimonia, which is: to live a life of wisdom, character, and virtue." Plato thought it would be terrible if all a person did was spend his life worrying about whether he was good-looking, wealthy, and healthy. Solomon tells us the happy person is the one who lives his life wisely, reverencing and fearing God. In the New Testament the happy person is the one who looks like Jesus of Nazareth and lives the way he lives.
· How do you get that? See Matthew 16:24-26, where Jesus says: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it." Jesus is not here commanding us to do this. He is saying, if you want to get good at life, this is what you have to do.
·  If you want to get good at life, if you want to be blessed, learn daily to give yourself away for the sake of God and others. J.P. says, "Give yourself away to other people for the Kingdom's sake."

·   If you lose yourself, you end up finding yourself. That's the upside-down logic of Jesus. 

"Happiness makes a terrible goal. It is the byproduct of another goal, which is giving yourself away to others for the Kingdom's sake."

Parents: Your Goal Is Not to Make Your Kids Happy

(Detroit)

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance...
Ecclesiastes 3:1-4
    
Life contains glad times and sad times, easy times and hard times. When our boys were little, and our cat died, this was a sad time. A hard time. It was a time to grieve. 

During this loss Linda and I allowed our boys to be sad. We did not try to make them happy by giving emotional candy, or promising to take them to Disney World. To do that would be to create little narcissists, who could eventually become big narcissists. (On Big Narcissism and the American culture of "safetyism," see Lukionoff and Haidt, The Coddling of the American Mind; also Soares, Panic Attack.)

A good parent wants their child to flourish in life. Part of the maturing process is helping them go through things that do not go their way. The child wants X, but X is denied them. The mentoring parent is to help the child understand that part of life is flourishing even in the midst of unfulfilled desires. The child may be sad, and that's not all bad. 

The goal here is not to keep the child happy. Lori Gotlieb, in "How to Land Your Kid in Therapy,"  writes of the American obsession with and quest for "happiness," and the American parental goal of raising one's children to be very, very "happy." 

She writes: 

"Nowadays, it’s not enough to be happy—if you can be even happier. The American Dream and the pursuit of happiness have morphed from a quest for general contentment to the idea that you must be happy at all times and in every way."

Ironically, this way of thinking will end up making people very unhappy and in need of therapy to set them straight.

Gretchen Rubin, author of the best-selling The Happiness Project, says: "Happiness doesn't always make you happy." To make happiness one's life pursuit will not end up with you being happy. If "happiness" means the removal of anything that would unsettle or disappoint or trouble you, then the achievement of that will leave you miserable and in need of help. 

Rubin writes:

“Happiness as a byproduct of living your life is a great thing,” Barry Schwartz, a professor of social theory at Swarthmore College, told me. “But happiness as a goal is a recipe for disaster. It’s precisely this goal, though, that many modern parents focus on obsessively—only to see it backfire. Observing this phenomenon, my colleagues and I began to wonder: Could it be that by protecting our kids from unhappiness as children, we’re depriving them of happiness as adults?"

The answer is: yes. 

Happiness sought for its own sake will leave you wanting. The only happiness worth happening is happiness as a byproduct. 

Parents, therefore, must allow unhappiness and misery in the lives of their children. To shelter them from this is to destine them to an adulthood of psycho- and drug therapy. "Parental overinvestment is contributing to a burgeoning generational narcissism that’s hurting our kids."

Harvard child psychologist Dan Kindlon says, “You have to be exposed to pathogens, or your body won’t know how to respond to an attack. Kids also need exposure to discomfort, failure, and struggle." 

Why might parents try to protect their children from all unhappy events and work hard so as to make them eternally happy? One answer is: because it's really about the parents' own happiness, and not their children's. Read the entire Gotlieb article to see the reasoning behind this. 

Infants and small child narcissists are happy, because they are the center of the universe. But, as they grow older, this changes; indeed, it becomes a "big problem." So, parents, do not "protect" your child from negative feedback. Think future. We want our kids to do well. This includes helping them walk through the dark valleys of life. 

Monday, August 26, 2019

Devotion to Accumulation Produces Endless Dissatisfaction

(Our back yard)

I have been re-reading political economist Robert Skidelsky's and philosopher Edward Skidelsky's killer book How Much Is Enough? Money and the Good Life. Connections between the Skidelskys' analysis of American money hunger and the words of Jesus pop up all over the place.

Isn't every culture money hungry? The correct answer is: No. There are cultures where more and more money is not the good life. They write:

"Aristotle’s vision of the good life may be parochial, but his assumption that there is a good life, and that money is merely a means to its enjoyment, has been shared by every great world civilization except our own." (P. 78)
Read this book and watch the Skidelsky's back this up.

World-historical civilizations followed, largely, Aristotle's idea that life has a telos, a purpose, an "end" beyond which there was not "more" to be sought after. This goes logically with the idea of a contentment, a satisfaction, a resting place in life that is to be enjoyed for its own sake. Relate this to the Christian idea that the telos of life is the love and enjoyment of God, in which the faithful find their rest. "Rest" here is not to be equated with apathy or lethargy or "doing nothing," but rather an active state of being that is no longer wasting its activity in the pursuit of "more."

Skidelsky writes: "it is our own devotion to accumulation as an end in itself that stands out as an anomaly, as something requiring explanation." (p. 78) We Americans are the wacked-out ones who are inseminating other cultures with the seed of greed.

We are the restless, overworked culture. Compare American work hours with, e.g., European work hours to see how Europe is still indebted to Artistotle. Thus "work for the ancient Greeks was strictly a means to an end, so not even a contender for the title of good life. Only activities without extrinsic purpose— above all philosophy and politics, both conceived non-instrumentally— could make it onto the short list. These attitudes were to leave a long legacy, as we shall see." (p. 73)

This legacy was picked up in the 13th century by Thomas Aquinas, who wrote: “The desire for material things as they are conducive to an end is natural to man. Therefore it is without fault to the extent that it is confined within the norms set by the nature of that end. Avarice exceeds these limits and is thereby sinful.” (Quoted in Ib., p. 79, from Aquinas's Summa Theologica)

In Aristotle, and Aquinas, and in Jesus and Paul, the idea of an "end" or "telos" is precisely not the sort of thing one would ever want "more of." But in a culture of no ends and limitless consumption, such as ours, there can never be "rest" and "enjoyment" and - note this carefully - "fulfillment." In this case the "desire for more" is the enemy of fulfillment.

**
My three books are:

Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God

Leading the Presence-Driven Church

Encounters with the Holy Spirit (co-edited with Janice Trigg)

I'm currently writing:

Transformation: How God Changes the Human Heart

Then, the Lord willing, 

Technology and Spiritual Formation

Linda and I then intend to write our book on Relationships.

In Praise of Holiness and Purity

"How little people know who think that holiness is dull. When one meets the real thing (and perhaps, like you, I have met it only once) it is irresistible." 
- C.S. Lewis, in Letters to an American Lady





I am calling our people to a revivalist lifestyle. This is for me, too. This includes a call to holiness and purity. 

I recently filled out a recommendation for someone who wants to go to Bethel School of Ministry. I like how the form connects revivalism and holiness. 



Linda and I have counseled premarriages and marriages for decades, and have many stories of couples who waited to have sex until they were married. Linda and I waited, too. This helped secure a foundation of trust to build our relationship on.

Here is one story about relational purity. It's an example of the beauty of holiness.

A few years ago Linda and I did premarital counseling with an engaged couple. We use the FOCCUS premarital inventory. It's so well-put-together, giving us an MRI of the relationship. It asks all the questions related to issues we want to get into. Most couples enjoy taking the inventory, and end up talking about a number of important things they have not yet thought of.

Jason and Andrea had known each other for many years. They dated for several years. She was working on a graduate degree, and he managed a business. The FOCCUS survey led us to talk about sex.

"Have you had sex together?" we asked them.


"Neither of us have ever had sexual intercourse or come close to it," they responded in unison. Andrea said, "When Jason told me he loved me and was interested in pursuing marriage, I immediately told him, 'There's no way I'm having sex before I get married.'"


"How did Jason respond to this?"


"He respected me for it," said Andrea, "and never has pressed himself on me."


Jason added, "It's not always been easy, because I love Andrea and look forward to sex in marriage. But I agree with her. God wants us to wait, and we are waiting."


I stopped.


I was stunned.


This was a holy moment.


Jason and Andrea are two attractive, intelligent, and successful people with great futures. Yes, they are Jesus-followers, but many Jesus-followers who get married have premarital sex because "they can't wait." 


I don't wish to judge them for that. Yet, I want to bow before Jason and Andrea and do a little worship! Who are these rare, unusual people who take the road less traveled and delay gratification? Especially in our sex-addicted culture where sex is used to sell everything from hamburgers to vacuum cleaners.


From my pastoral POV I see lots of sex addiction. Sometimes I wonder, falsely I am certain, "Who is not a sex addict today?" Have you ever seen, or counseled one? Addiction is a monster. The French word for addict, as Gerald May has told us, is attache. Attachment. Claw-like attache. Being married or shacking up (I'm not talking about the book The Shack) cannot cure this. 


Our culture of sexual freedom has, ironically, imprisoned many. A sex addict outside of marriage will be a sex addict within marriage (unless The Transformation happens, to be accomplished only by grace).

Somehow, Jason and Andrea escaped the prison house of "sexual freedom."


We told them we were proud of them. Delayed sexual gratification displays self-control and breeds trust.


Linda and I abstained. In my abstinence I was not some religious legalist. I was so screwed up sexually that I just wanted God to heal the garbage of my heart so that, should I marry, I would not infect my life partner and children. When I told Linda I would not be asking her to have sex with me, I asked how this made her feel. She said, "Safe." I didn't love her only for her physical beauty. I wanted her heart. The two are different.


While dating, I waited several months before I kissed her. I will never forget that kiss! We were walking in a park, and it began to lightly rain. A little voice told me, "It is time!" I asked for her permission. She said yes. That kiss lasted only one second, but mega-volts of lightning came through her lips! From then until we got married we kissed only occasionally, and then only for a second or two. Our love and trust and respect only grew. This was wild and unbelievable to me, a former drug-alcohol-fraternity-sex-womanizer. A foundation of faithfulness was being laid from which we have never diverted (for forty-six years).


I don't see that often. When I sat in my office with Jason and Andrea, I got those feelings that have to do with my understanding of real, deep, growing Jesus-love that lasts a lifetime. Because Jason and Andrea have no history of sexual partners and have not sex-partnered with each other, I predict they will stay faithful to one another. They are disease-free, physically and spiritually. In this they are...  pure.


The odds are greatly in their favor. Their children will be blessed. They will pass marital fidelity to their kids. And maybe a couple of children whose parents are named Jason and Andrea will lead the counter-revolution to purity?


***

A few resources on Jesus-following and sexual purity include:

Every Young Man's Battle, by Steve Arterburn and Fred Stoeker


Every Young Woman's Battle, by Shannon Ethridge and Steve Arterburn


Moral Revolution: The Naked Truth About Sexual Purity, by Kris Valotten, Jason Valotten, and Bill Johnson 


On morality from our Christian theistic worldview, see Richard Hays, The Moral Vision of the New Testament.

And, Linda and I plan on writing our book on Relationships.