Matt W Cook

writer.former fundamentalist.christianly fellow

Month: February, 2008

A break…

Sex ahead…you’ve been warned

9) Christianity has a morbid, unhealthy preoccupation with sex.

10) Christianity produces sexual misery.

To answer these I’ve decided to unpack a little about the Christian view of sex. Here are the points I want to deal with:

  • It is good.
  • It is meant for enjoyment as well as procreation.
  • Committed, never casual. Hence marriage.
  • One partner.
  • Between man and woman only.
  • It is not a matter of state.

Sex is a good thing. God made it. Humans could have been made to reproduce in any number of different, easier ways, but God invented sex. Let’s get this fact clear right from the start. In the Christian worldview sex is not a bad thing. It is inherently good and holy and sacred. It has its place, and when used outside its place it becomes a dangerous, hurtful thing, but when in its place it is beautiful and God-glorifying.

A casual reading of the Song of Solomon shows that sex and sexuality is not solely meant for procreation. Many conservative scholars believe that the Song is a picture of Christ, primarily. I disagree. While it is true that the relationship between Christ and the Church is sometimes pictured as a marriage, it is never pictured as erotic. Eroticism has not place in the relationship between Christ and the Church. But this Song is all erotic. So I think it’s about a man and a woman and their loving and sensual relationship. This Song makes it clear that one of the purposes of sex is for enjoyment.

Like many things that are both good and fun, sex has been abused. It was meant to be an expression of the love a man shares with a woman. Today, in most places of the world, it is now a fun pass-time. Sex was never meant to be casual. Our sexual desires have been perverted. Some people would claim that monogamy is an unnatural thing and our sexual drives are made so that we can increase our population. But that makes little sense to me because if a man was to indulge his sexual desires whenever they hit then he would produce a small village of babies in very little time. This massive over-population would be destructive to our species. It seems to me that sex, for the vast majority of animals, is only for procreation, but for us it’s different. Men naturally desire sex with many women, not because of their natural procreation instinct, but because their sexual drive has been screwed up. Sex is a solemn, holy thing and it is best within marriage, where it is coupled with love and respect and intimacy. I have heard people complain that monogamy is a boring thing. But they fail to realize that the more you get to know and love and understand and commit to a person the better sex becomes. Marriage provides that matrix for sex.

The Bible is clear that sex is only between a man and a woman. Paul, in Romans, says that homosexuality is a perversion of the sexual drive. There is really no getting around it. If you believe to Bible to be what it claims to be you need to admit that homosexuality is a sin. Now, I do not believe that a man with homosexual desires can just ‘turn it off’. Many people say that the homosexual drive is just something that people are born with, and I think I agree. Just like some people are born with a short temper. But just because someone is born with it does not make it right. A homosexual man who comes to Christ will have to fight the same battles as a man born with a bad temper. He will have to fight against the inborn impulses of his body. A homosexual is no more a sinner than anyone else.

Christianity was never meant to be a state religion. I do not think we should try to legislate the moral guidelines of our faith in a secular culture. Homosexuality and promiscuous sex was rampant at the time of Paul, but he never suggested that we picket and protest. He just made it clear that those things were not proper for followers of Christ.

So that’s my response to 9 and 10. I believe the Christian view of sex does not lead to sexual misery but to fulfillment. What sort of sex life sounds more fulfilling? Where all of your sexual energy is channeled through the one person you love and respect more than anyone in life, when you keep yourself for that one person and know that she does the same for you? Or where you just follow the whims of your body and bounce from partner to partner. Think about this: if you obeyed your other ‘natural’ urges whenever they popped up would you be better off or worse? Our natural urges can never be used as an absolute guide because they are fallible. I think that even if I were not a Christian I would still consider sex to be a thing that should be reserved for one partner, because it seems that it was made to be that way.

As anyone with a disproportionately large head knows, someone who laughs at your large melon is a real pain in the neck (pun intended). So this massive head with a tiny stalk of a body was quickly filled with rage. He tried to rush up to Shan and smack him in the face, but his tiny arms couldn’t reach him. He tried kicking, but it had the same effect. Shan watched all this and laughed all the louder. Finally the Big Giant Head (for that was his name) got an idea that actually could cause some damage. He pulled about a pound of phlegm from the back of his throat and spat on Shan.

Shan was struck and stuck to the ground. The mucusy goo acted as an adhesive and itched horribly. It was pretty gross.
“Oh big giant head man!” He called out. “Your forgiveness I implore! It wasn’t my fault about the bleach!”
“I saw you open the bottle and pour it out!” Said the angry head. “Who’s fault could it have been if not yours?”
“It was the authors, I swear it. I never wanted to do that. I think that the uncreative fool couldn’t think of anything that actually fit with my character so he didn’t bother thinking about it at all and made me dump the bleach and left the mess to the next author. I swear I didn’t mean to.”
“Who are these authors you speak of?” Asked the head.
“Men, three men who delight in tormenting me. I know not where they come from nor why they pull my strings, but they are the source of all my ailments and struggles in life. Cursed authors!” Shan spat.
“My, my, my.” Said the head. “This is a sad story of yours. These author-folks certainly sound like villains. We should put a stop to their madness before you pour more bleach on someone.”
“So take my hand, dear head, and travel with me. Together we will find the three authors and kick their combined asses.”

The moment he dumped the liquid however, Shan recoiled in horror. What on earth was he doing? Everybody knows that the eye is one of the more sensitive places on the body and to pour an entire bottle of corrosive liquid on one could only lead to more severe consequences.

And sure enough, before Shan could even eek out an apology to the eye, a soul-obliterating roar erupted from the ground under his feet. The ground began to shake and tremble and Shan did the only thing that one could do under the circumstance, namely, run in wild circles while waving his plunger towards the heavens, hoping against hope that some distant god would see him and grant him the ability to wield the forces of lighting.

But it turns out that the lighting god was out running an errand at that moment and Shan succeded only in alerting the god of unfortunate accidents, who placed a root directly where he was running. And so he lay there in the dirt, whimpering to himself as the gigantic head began to emerge from the topsoil.

However, the head appeared to be the only thing that had emerged. Oh it was an imposing head to be sure, at least 30 feet across and covered in mud, but it was just that, a head, and seldom do people become injured by disembodied heads. I’m sure they do sometimes, but for this to happen, the head would have to be able to spit venom or posess the ability to shoot laser beams from their eyes. . .this particular giant was unable to do either.

So Shan stood there marvelling as the giant head spluttered out obcenities in his general direction. Now, instead of being scared, he was becoming increasingly interested and eventully decided to have a walk around the head to see if he could find a body to go with it.

As he paced around to the rear of the head, Shan saw something that made him suddenly burst into uncontrollable laughter. The head indeed had a body. . .but it was no more than 4 feet tall!

“I see.” Said Shan, affording himself a little chuckle. “I know how you feel.” He chuckled again. “I see you.” He was doubled over now, laughing hysterically. The two eyes made massive and impatient rolls.

After about five minutes Shan was himself again, though it would have been better if he were someone else. He stood and looked at the two massive eyes and tried to figure out what to do. He noticed that the eye he had uncovered was a little dirty, so he took out the small bottle of bleach he kept with him.

Suddenly the power in the author’s house went out. Knowing there was little time left the author caused Shan to dump his bleach on the dirty eye and save his work, lest his less-than-competent batteries die.

And a seven and an eight

7) Christianity is cruel

The man who is kind benefits himself, but a cruel man hurts himself. – Proverbs 11:17

The cruelty of Christians is no more proof against the validity of Christianity than Hitler’s actions prove Germans are cruel. Those who killed and tortured in the name of Christ were not actually doing it in his name. Because his name and his character are completely against cruelty. He is meek and mild, a gentle master. The main characteristic of Christianity is love, regardless of what people did years ago or how many misguided people do cruel things in its name. The normal practice of Christianity is messed up; this much is true. But Christ is still too great a treasure to be abandoned.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.

8) Christianity is anti-intellectual, anti-scientific

The author seems to think that dangerous superstitions a thousand years ago existed only within the Christian world. This is not true. Every people group of that time had superstitions that cost people lives. Think of Aztec human sacrifice as one example. No one calls the Brazilians cruel today because of what the people in that country did a thousand years ago.

Every high school science student learns important characteristics of scientific knowledge. Scientific knowledge is tentative (always subject to change based on new observations), limited (science cannot study all things like the perception of beauty or metaphysical truths), and based on observation. Knowing this about scientific knowledge I maintain that there is no contradiction between the faith of Christ and science. The author claims that the Bible speaks of scientifically impossible things happening, like the dead being raised. But according to science nothing can be proved impossible unless every entity and influence of a system is controlled or, at least, accurately measured. Science has never claimed to hold all the secrets of the universe because that simply goes outside of scientific purpose. Science is based on observation and some things are not observable. It is not scientifically impossible for a dead man to be brought back to life. Just scientifically confusing. Science cannot see what would bring a dead body to life, but that lack of knowledge does not force science to declare it impossible. Can the dead be raised? Can water be turned into wine? Can five loaves feed an army? Only by a force that we have no scientific knowledge about. And science cannot deny the existence of such a force.

Shan’s back was to the massive, winking eye-lid, so at first he didn’t notice it (being intent on the indescribable creature). Suddenly, Shan heard a faint, whirring noise, and felt goosebumps rise on his skin. Turning his head over his right shoulder, Shan finally saw the great eye-lid, and jumped with terror from his seat. His heart shot his blood through his body at triple the normal speed, and he ran behind a nearby tree for cover. Sweat had soaked through the back of his shirt, and he had to wipe his brow more than once before he had calmed down enough to think. In time, Shan wandered back over to the eye-lid, and realized that it didn’t pose much of a threat. He attempted to communicate with the eye, but of course it didn’t have ears, and was not very good at reading such tiny lips. Shan attempted to communicate with the eye for about twenty minutes, opening his mouth as wide as he could to show the shape of the words. In the end though, Shan became very frustrated, and the eye resorted to sharp movements to the right (from Shan’s perspective). Then it dawned on him. Why was there only one eyeball? “I suppose,” he thought, “that if it is a strange enough thing for me to find an eye this big, and stuck in the ground, there may be things that only have one eye.” On further speculation he decided to try asking the massive eye. Once he had its attention, he repeatedly pointed to his own eyes, alternating between pointing at one then the other, and pointing at both at the same time. The eye squinted to take in the sight, and one might speculate that, had it at some time possessed an eyebrow, it would be raised in expression of curiosity. In response to Shan the eye continued jerking the pupil to the right. In turn Shan pointed to the right. The eye blinked furiously. Shan pointed again. Furious blinking. Point. Blink. Shan walked three or four paces to the right of the eye and felt the ground with the plunger stick; It was very soft, like mud (except less wet). He jabbed the pole as far as he could into the mud (about one foot) and hit something. He looked over at the massive eye-ball, but it had not seemed to notice. He moved over a foot closer to the eye and jabbed again, hitting nothing. He moved to the other side of his first attempt, and (being tired and a good deal muddy by now) threw the pole into the ground once more. It almost disappeared from his hand (being an extremely long plunger of five feet, for those extra messy days). The eye spasmed and blinked with the furious vigor and hate that it had shown when it had first seen Shan.

Shan began shovelling as best he could with the plunger stick. Mostly it churned up the ground so he could get his hands on the moist soil and move it away. He worked for well over three hours without stopping, and having found nothing continued to work on and off for another three hours, taking breaks whever possible. By this point Shan was beginning to wonder if there was an entire giant buried beneath the forest, and was puzzled about why he hadn’t hit a nose, or any other body part. By the end of the six hours though, he had his answer. He was attempting to pry a very stubborn rock from the bottom of this now gaping hole, when he realized that it was writhing. He cleared away the dirt from around the rock, and found that it was indeed the other eye.

By the power vested in me…

6) Christianity breeds authoritarianism

The problem with authoritarian governments is that there is no leader on the planet who is good enough, strong enough, informed enough or wise enough to wield ultimate power. Some leaders are better than others, but none have ever been worthy of complete trust and absolute power. Therefore authoritarianism, as a government model, will never be adequate for running a country. If a Christian tries to make his government move toward this system there will be problems, always.

But that’s not really what this article is talking about. It seems that he’s really condemning Christianity for forcing non-Christians to adopt Christian morality.

For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. – 1 Cor. 5:12,13

It is not for the Christian to judge the morality of those outside the Church. Christianity was never meant to wield power in a government. In its inception Christianity was marginalized and it seems, through Church History, that the times when the Church is marginalized and deprived of worldly power are the times when it is spiritually the most alive and vibrant.

I do not think it is the place of the Church to dictate certain points of morality to those outside the Church. I do believe that Christians always have a responsibility to preach love, truth, justice, purity and (above all) the Gospel. But it does not seem right to convince the government to outlaw premarital sex because the vast majority of people do not follow the Leader we follow. I would point out to a friend that fornication is against God, but I would not have him thrown in jail. There are no Christian countries today, we cannot expect them to have Christian laws.

The Christian nations of the past were populated by and run by Christians. It was their responsibility to make laws; obviously they based their laws on their worldview. In the same way secular lawmakers today base their laws on a secular worldview.

In some cases, however, I think Christians should speak up. Matters like abortion are not strictly moral concerns. The life of a child is at stake and anyone (Christian or not) who believes a fetus is a human being should be concerned in this. The article mentions prostitution as a victimless crime. I disagree. Anyone who has known a prostitute or has heard a prostitute’s story will know that the victim in this crime is the prostitute herself.

It seems I should mention homosexual marriages as well. I think Christians who oppose homosexual marriage should think about why. I disapprove of homosexuality (though not of homosexuals). While I believe homosexual acts are sinful I do not suggest that homosexuals be punished by the government in any way. And yet I would still argue against homosexual marriages. Not because gay people should not marry, but simply because a conjugal union of two men is not marriage. It is something else.

But on the other hand, many people talk about the sanctity of marriage even though they have been divorced many times and committed adultery. I think that marriage is not longer a sacred thing in the west. Which is actually consistent, because secular governments, by their definition, deny the sacred. Morally and spiritually, I do not believe that men should marry men. Nor do I believe people should engage in premarital sex or any of the other things God says he is against. But as regards government, I do not think the legislation of a secular country should be involved in this.

Does Christianity promote authoritarianism? Yes, it certainly does. But the authority is God, never men. Men are never trusted to handle the legislative power of God. This is why God tells us again and again to never take matters in our own hands. He will take care of things himself in his own way. Christians are, indeed, to be positive influences in society, but we are not meant to be kings here.

By the power vested in me…

6) Christianity breeds authoritarianism

The problem with authoritarian governments is that there is no leader on the planet who is good enough, strong enough, informed enough or wise enough to wield ultimate power. Some leaders are better than others, but none have ever been worthy of complete trust and absolute power. Therefore authoritarianism, as a government model, will never be adequate for running a country. If a Christian tries to make his government move toward this system there will be problems, always.

But that’s not really what this article is talking about. It seems that he’s really condemning Christianity for forcing non-Christians to adopt Christian morality.

For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. – 1 Cor. 5:12,13

It is not for the Christian to judge the morality of those outside the Church. Christianity was never meant to wield power in a government. In its inception Christianity was marginalized and it seems, through Church History, that the times when the Church is marginalized and deprived of worldly power are the times when it is spiritually the most alive and vibrant.

I do not think it is the place of the Church to dictate certain points of morality to those outside the Church. I do believe that Christians always have a responsibility to preach love, truth, justice, purity and (above all) the Gospel. But it does not seem right to convince the government to outlaw premarital sex because the vast majority of people do not follow the Leader we follow. I would point out to a friend that fornication is against God, but I would not have him thrown in jail. There are no Christian countries today, we cannot expect them to have Christian laws.

The Christian nations of the past were populated by and run by Christians. It was their responsibility to make laws; obviously they based their laws on their worldview. In the same way secular lawmakers today base their laws on a secular worldview.

In some cases, however, I think Christians should speak up. Matters like abortion are not strictly moral concerns. The life of a child is at stake and anyone (Christian or not) who believes a fetus is a human being should be concerned in this. The article mentions prostitution as a victimless crime. I disagree. Anyone who has known a prostitute or has heard a prostitute’s story will know that the victim in this crime is the prostitute herself.

It seems I should mention homosexual marriages as well. I think Christians who oppose homosexual marriage should think about why. I disapprove of homosexuality (though not of homosexuals). While I believe homosexual acts are sinful I do not suggest that homosexuals be punished by the government in any way. And yet I would still argue against homosexual marriages. Not because gay people should not marry, but simply because a conjugal union of two men is not marriage. It is something else.

But on the other hand, many people talk about the sanctity of marriage even though they have been divorced many times and committed adultery. I think that marriage is not longer a sacred thing in the west. Which is actually consistent, because secular governments, by their definition, deny the sacred. Morally and spiritually, I do not believe that men should marry men. Nor do I believe people should engage in premarital sex or any of the other things God says he is against. But as regards government, I do not think the legislation of a secular country should be involved in this.

Does Christianity promote authoritarianism? Yes, it certainly does. But the authority is God, never men. Men are never trusted to handle the legislative power of God. This is why God tells us again and again to never take matters in our own hands. He will take care of things himself in his own way. Christians are, indeed, to be positive influences in society, but we are not meant to be kings here.