Masturbation is Our Friend

Important historical note.

This article is Part 2 of something I wrote back 12 years ago originally. I had been asked to participate in a discussion at a well-known Christian magazine on the topic of Masturbation. There were four therapists in the discussion; two of us were pastors. We rolicked on this topic for a couple of hours, discussing both theological implications and psychological ideas. We were all positive on the concept of masturbation in the life of any individual.

And we were all excited this conservative Christian publication was going to run our discussion. However, when it came before their editorial board, it was axed. I was not surprised. Neither were my fellow masterminders. They did, however, allow us to have the full rights to it. We brought it to another Christian magazine who was interested in running it. This one was more contemporary than the first one and we were sure they would approve it. All of us were paid for it.

They decided not to run the article for whatever editorial reasons they had. Again, I was not surprised. It is amazing that people of all stripes, religious or not, avoid the concept of masturbation like it has cooties.

But they also would not publish it or release the rights to it. Therefore, I took the concepts of that article and produced two articles that ran on my previous blog. In the first article, I simply highlighted our discussion and essentially ran down the outline of the article we had been meaning to publish.

A week after putting it on my blog, the magazine contacted me with a cease and desist letter. They asked me to take down the first article. They allowed me to publish the second one. That blog is no longer active, so I have decided to take the second article and republish it. This magazine still chooses not to run the original article and I respect that. They now own it.

The kid was in my office very upset and agitated. I have always had a good rapport with teens, since I counsel so many of them. I like teens and they know it and often feel comfortable talking to me about delicate problems. In this case, I knew he was there to talk about sexual problems. I was confident we would eventually talk about pornography, masturbation or the girl he dated last week. I was not ready for what he came up with however.

“I have lustful thoughts, Mike. And they’re driving me nuts. And I know God is angry with me over them.”

“What are these lustful thoughts you’re having?

“You’re going to think I’m crazy Mike. I feel so ashamed to tell you….but here it is. If you want to kick me out of your office, go ahead. When I masturbate, all I can think about is Jessica Rabbit.” He then put his head in his hands.

Let me supply readers with context here. In the movie “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”, a partly animated, partly “real life” film, there is a character called Jessica Rabbit. She is not a bad rabbit, but as she says “I’m just drawn that way.” She is pictured as an animated, rabbitish form of Mae West. She has impossibly large breasts (especially for a rabbit), narrow waist, sultry voice and wiggly walk.

If she existed in real life, she would easily be an object of great admiration. But she doesn’t exist in real life. That’s the point. This young man was having fantasies with an imaginary rabbit as he pleasured himself.

I wrestled for about a millisecond before going into my teaching on masturbation and the joy of sexual pleasure. I assured him that he had not “lusted” after the legendary vamp-rabbit, but was doing what comes naturally. Every person who identifies as sexual desires to have sexual release. There is nothing – and I repeat, nothing – wrong with the urge to feel sexual pleasure. On the surface of things, it is no different than the desire to eat food.

In the first article on masturbation, we mentioned the six benefits of masturbation. Since this is originally a Christian audience I am writing to, I brought up the reality that the Bible never prohibits or even mentions masturbation. Why? Even though it is the most common practice known to man, even the Bible makes no reference to it. All this tells us is that masturbation is not wrong in and of itself. As I say to most people, learn to love yourself well, and when you are having sex with someone you love and are committed to, you’ll know how your own sexual response works.

I brought up the reality that the Bible never prohibits or even mentions masturbation. Why? Even though it is the most common practice known to man, even the Bible makes no reference to it. Click To Tweet

In the first article in this series, I mentioned the conversation we four therapists had regarding masturbation, the theology behind it, and the benefits you can realize. That conversation was recorded and intended for publication. It was never released for various reasons which is why I am summarizing it in these two articles.

In the first article, the four of us noted that masturbation was made by God and commended for:

Learning about our sexual anatomy before introducing it to anyone else.

Control of libido

A source of pleasure

Gaining control of our own sexual identity

Leveling the unmatched libidos of a committed couple

Reducing anxiety

Rejoicing in how God has made us as sexual beings.

In this second article, I am asking, “Are there dangers to masturbation?” I made brief allusions to some of those at the end of the last article, but in this second article, I do want to give a few explanations. So let me tabulate some elements of masturbation that can be harmful or at least inadvisable; and allow me to reiterate those things I don’t consider to be problems.

Practices that Cause Physical Harm: Several sex therapists have raised the alarm bell about particular kinds of masturbatory habits involving sexual aids. People often don’t know or remember that anything we bring into the vicinity of our penis or vulva had better be extremely clean and sterile. In particular, women are seeing an increase in yeast infections and bladder problems because of masturbation using foreign objects. Just be careful.

For men, the problems often relate to the use of devices which promise to making their penises larger. Some men experience serious vascular and muscle tissue damage from these devices that promise more than they can deliver.

This is not to say a person should avoid dildos, vibrators and penile sleeves. All of these are wonderful ways to have an orgasm. If a woman has not been able to give herself an orgasm through finger stimulation, a vibrator is a wonderful tool. Or even if she can manually induce orgasm, vibrators can be much more intense. But make sure you clean it well and store it in a place where bacteria cannot affect it easily.

For men, you don’t need to extend your penis. Learn to work it well in masturbation, learn how to control your orgasm and your partner will thank you down the line.

Masturbation and Lust: Because Christians are the intended audience of our articles, we need to define what lust is and what it isn’t. To do that, allow me to quote a Bible passage that often comes up in this discussion: Matthew 5:27, 28:

“ 27″You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery  ] 28But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart”

There are some commentators and preachers who interpret this to mean “If you fantasize about having sex with anyone but your wife, your fantasy is equivalent to adultery”.  I have to say that many commentators and theologians DO NOT hold this position.

To explain what this verse means, let’s get the context to this section of Matthew 5. This is a sermon where Jesus challenges the legalistic teachings of the dominant rabbis (not rabbits) of his day and gets down to the heart of the issues. He deals with many issues from tithing to hatred. His formula is the same: 1. This is what is currently taught. 2. Here is what I say about that. 3. How will you respond?  In this case about adultery, he is dealing with one of the Ten Commandments.

How can he hope to improve on the Ten Commandments? The only explanation is that this commandment was not being taught properly. The rabbis of Jesus’ day had very complicated ideas about what constituted adultery. Some rabbis defined adultery as intercourse; others as oral sex; others still as any open look a woman might give to a man across the room. Each rabbi had a different definition.

Understand that this verse is not a teaching on lust. It is a teaching on the heart condition of man. The word “lust” is the Greek word epithumos. Thumos is the word for desire. Epi is a prefix means “to lay something on top of something else”. So epithumos means “to lay something on top of desire”.

This is the difference between lust and sexual desire. Desire is not wrong. It is when we lay something on top of that desire that we enter into lust. Jesus is warning people that adultery starts in the heart, not with the genitals. But let’s be clear what he is not saying. He is not saying that the thought and the action are the same thing. He never accuses a person of sin here. He is warning that the longer you allow a particular sexual fantasy to linger, the more chance your heart is going to want to make it a reality. The danger is always that if we masturbate and fantasize about a particular person we are not married to that we will begin to work out how we can actually have sex with them.

I was asked if there is a difference between lust and fantasy. The difference is always the difference between desire and decision. If I desire sex with someone I am not necessarily lusting; I simply have desire. The second I start to take steps to make fantasy a reality, I have crossed the line. Jesus is not saying that fantasizing is the same as committing adultery. He is warning that the heart is where the line gets crossed. None of us should ever disagree with that.

The young boy in my office had fantasy, but not lust. How could you lust over an imaginary rabbit? That’s an easy one Mike: get to the harder issues. Well, if I see a woman in the mall and never see her again, but was physically attracted to her, am I lusting? Absolutely not, unless I follow her around to find out her name and get to know her. If my purpose in doing this is to have sex with her, then my intention is indeed lust. But this is not true in every case of desire.

My point is that each person must ask God about their own hearts. There is a fantasy which stays fantasy and is not sin. Sin is an action that proceeds from an attitude. To use another picture, no one gets thrown into jail for murder if they hate their next door neighbor. Yet we are told that hate and murder are connected. Adultery is an act; it is not the same as fantasy. Lust is when a course of action is laid upon a fantasy.

Masturbation and Self-Medicating: There are problems when we escape our deeper emotional problems with masturbation. This is especially true when someone has untreated trauma. When used to escape trauma pain, this puts masturbation in the same category as alcohol abuse and work abuse. Any time we avoid dealing with significant trauma this can give to masturbation a significant power over the mind.

Masturbation and Avoidance: If one spouse is using masturbation to avoid having sex, this can be a harmful use of it. There may be serious problems that need to be addressed in marriage; and if masturbation is getting in the way of dealing with those problems, it should be stopped. But then there needs to be a time of accounting and deep discussions about what problems exist. As far as I’m concerned, people should masturbate however often they want to. Just don’t use this as a tool to cut off intimacy from your partner.

Here is the bottom line for me. Fantasy is fine for those who are married, unless we begin to cross the line into making any of that a reality. I have been challenged so many times by people who claim you cannot fantasize without trying to work it out in reality. I disagree. I know many people who have never considered cheating on their spouses who enjoy a rich fantasy life with masturbation.

I ran into the young man at the beginning of this story a few years ago. He doesn’t remember coming to see me. But when I reminded him, we had a good chuckle. And then he thanked me for introducing him to the idea that he didn’t need to feel guilty for enjoying himself.

To the rest of you, you’re welcome.

Building a New Christian Sexual Ethic

[Update: So many people read the first few paragraphs and assume I am building a case for polyamory. I am not. This is because people aren’t reading to see my key point which is further on. If you’re going to read this article to discover my proposal for a new sexual ethical system for Christians, please read all of it before reacting].

“What does the Bible say about polygamy, polyamory, or Open Marriage?” The man who asked me this had been a missionary for 25 years and was not considering a change in his marital status. He was not contemplating cheating on his wife or taking another bride. He was simply curious.

He was curious because during the previous year, three separate people had asked him these kind of questions. All of them who asked these questions were committed Christians with a good grasp of the Bible and the church’s teachings on sexuality.

"What does the Bible say about polygamy, polyamory, or Open Marriage?" Click To Tweet

“Mike, the Bible doesn’t make it clear where it falls on any of those issues. Though we make excuses for the Bible, there are examples in the Sacred Writings of people who lived with multiple wives, who had sanctioned girlfriends, and who lived this way openly. And from what we can see in the Bible, God never condemns this practice.”

I couldn’t argue with him. The only restriction in the Bible regarding any form of Open Marriage is the 1 Timothy 3 admonition that an Overseer should not be a polygamist. It never expands on this concept by forbidding others to have multiple wives. In short, the biblical ethic regarding Open Marriage was non-existent.

Everyone has ethics; but not everyone has an ethical system. An “ethic” is a belief in how one should act. You can have an ethic that allows you to tell the truth one day and then not tell the truth the next day. But because this is not a consistent ethic, we would say it is not an “ethical system”. I define an ethical system as a series of beliefs regarding a particular behavior that are consistent with themselves. Therefore, if you have an ethical system about telling the truth, that system should apply to all situations. Let me give an example of the difference between an ethic and and Ethical System.

I might believe that it is wrong to kill. That is an ethic. I would not (and do not) kill anyone. But how widely do I apply that ethic? I might believe it is wrong to kill others unless they are trying to kill me. I might also believe it is wrong to kill others even if they are trying to kill me. In addition, I might define killing mosquitoes as killing, killing cows as killing, killing fetuses as killing, killing prisoners on death row as killing. I might believe killing all those beings is considered killing. That is an ethical system.

However, if for some reason I feel that killing enemy combatants on the battlefield is not killing, but killing someone invading my home is killing, then my ethical system is more complex, and perhaps inconsistent.

That is the problem with most ethical systems. Most systems of behavior are internally inconsistent, at least from a logical/philosophical viewpoint. Why is it wrong to kill some people but not others? Why is it wrong to deceive some people, but not other people? Why is it wrong to have sex one day, and then it is not wrong a day later (in the case of someone who may be single and then gets married)? Most people will seek to justify the complexity and variations of their ethical systems by explaining the exceptions.

Why is it wrong to have sex one day, and then it is not wrong a day later (in the case of someone who may be single and then gets married)? Click To Tweet

We will never be free of doing this. Not even those who believe in a so-called “Biblical Sexual Ethic” can get away with it. Let me show how this happens.

In the first paragraph, I noted the question about polyamory. The idea that all sex should be between one husband (male) and one wife (female) is the standard teaching of much of the Church for much of the Church’s existence. But is it a consistent ethical system?

Not really. There are many examples of prominent men in the Bible who married more than one woman. Jacob, Esau, David, Solomon all lived this way. In addition, several Bible characters had sex with sanctioned sex slaves–Jacob, Abraham, David, Solomon, Absalom, Judah and others. God does not condemn any of these men for polyamory. In many cases, God even approves of it. When David raped Bathsheba and had her husband killed, God did send the prophet Nathan to confront David. And in that confrontation, this is what Nathan says:

Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man! This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more.

2 Samuel 12:7-8

According to these verses, Nathan is speaking for God and claiming that God gave King Saul’s WIVES to David after Saul died! And God says that he would have given him more women if he wanted. If we accept this as God’s inerrant word, then God not only passively accepts polyamory, but actively endorses it and supports it.

The biblical sexual ethic gets more complicated than that. The concept of virginity (the absence of sexual intercourse in a person’s experience) is touted as a virtue in the Bible. But it only applies to women! Nowhere are men told they must also be virgins. Even the Hebrew word for “virgin” is a word that only refers to females. There is no Hebrew word for a male virgin. There is no place in the Old Testament where men were even expected or ordered to be virgins.

The concept of virginity (the absence of sexual intercourse in a person's experience) is touted as a virtue in the Bible. But it only applies to women! Click To Tweet

What can we say about all of this? Simply that the Bible does not present a consistent or relevant ethical system regarding sexuality. There are many more examples of this to give, but I want to move on to the solution, not just note the problem.

I don’t believe the Bible is helpful or realistic for building a modern ethical system for sexuality. There are many reasons for this, but they can be distilled down to these:

Patriarchy: Everyone who wrote Sacred Scripture believed in patriarchy. They believed that men had privileges and rights which women did not have. This affected everything they wrote, but especially their viewpoints on sexual relations. One classic example: In the story of the woman caught in adultery (John, chapter 8) only the woman is brought before Jesus and not the man. And no one, not even Jesus, openly notes this. It takes modern commentators to sort this one through.

Ancient Near East Focus of Sexuality: Virginity did not focus on sex; it focused on inheritance. A man wanted to know that his wife had not had sex with another man to ensure his offspring were truly his children. No claim could be made by another man on his children. Children and women were considered possessions of a man, even by the writers of the Bible. Even the teachings on “immorality” in the Bible are really focused on discouraging men from visiting prostitutes.

Misogyny: Women were hated in the days the Bible was written. A Jewish man prayed this prayer most mornings: “Thank you God that I am not born a gentile, a dog, or a woman”. How can an ethical system of mutuality with regards to sexuality ever come from that backdrop?

Homophobia: The writers of Scripture not only had a very low opinion of women, they hated anyone in the LGBTQ community–not that there was an established community due to fear. So, any ethic regarding those who are not cis-hetero men is going to be demeaning and incomplete if we rely on the Bible.

So how do we build an ethical system?

Christians have seen the problem with applying the Bible to many of our ethical systems: Money, power, marriage, reproduction, government, criminal justice, human interactions, etc. There have been many proposals through the centuries on how to build an ethical system which keeps some of the good teachings of the Bible but does not lean too heavily on them.

One of the most profound attempts at this was made by John Wesley. He spent years seeking to apply biblical truths to modern-day ethical problems. His view on Holiness required that our faith be lived out ethically and consistently. But he found that many in his day had widely differing views on what the Bible said on just about any topic. So, while keeping the Bible principles central, he added three more sources of revelation in building an ethical system:

  • Tradition
  • Experience
  • Logic

By tradition, he meant the traditions of the faith community one finds themselves in. By experience, he meant the experiences a Christian has which line up with the Bible. By logic, he is referring to the mind which has been enlightened by the Holy Spirit to grasp deeper truths.

Thus, even with these four sources of input to build an ethic, Wesley still saw all of them revolving around the Bible and biblical truths.

I contend that isn’t going to work with sexual ethics. You can certainly hold to it if you like, but the Church’s history with strange teachings on sexuality and moral purity lead me in a slightly different direction.

I still think we can use four sources of input to build an ethical system, including the Bible. But here is how I fashion it:

  • The Bible: We can use the Bible as a source for ethics on sexuality if we strip away patriarchy, homophobia, misogyny, and virginity.
  • Tradition: In the sense that we rely on a trusted community of people whose practices of sexuality are consistent and respectful, we can use certain traditions we trust.
  • Experience: By this, I mean the collected experience of all humans with regards to sexuality. In our day, we are much more refined as a society on what should and should not be allowed in sexual relationships. The #metoo movement did not start the discussion on sexual assault, consent, and misogyny. It simply sought to apply emerging community standards world-wide…to everyone
  • Logic/Reason: By this, I mean that ethical standards need to make sense to a faith community and be reasonable to apply. If the faith community one is a part of does not apply logic or reason to sexual ethics, one might have to find a different faith community.

It should be obvious that this opens the door to many different ethical systems regarding sexuality. But if you think about it, that’s where we currently are. This is even true within the church of Jesus Christ. There are elements of acceptance of the LGBTQ community, and other groups which do not accept LGBTQ as valid. Some faith groups allow for premarital sexual expression and some do not.

But there is widespread acceptance of the following:

  • Consent must be applied to all sexual relationships
  • Honesty and integrity are vital to healthy sexuality
  • The practice of safe sex is paramount for everyone
  • Sexuality with minors is always wrong.

Most of these conclusions do not come directly from the Bible, but rather from experience, logic, and the dialogue of interested communities.

To which I apply my central idea: The Bible itself is only marginally helpful in creating a complete ethical system for sexuality. We should stop trying to make it the cornerpiece of such a system.

To which I apply my central idea: The Bible itself is only marginally helpful in creating a complete ethical system for sexuality. We should stop trying to make it the cornerpiece of such a system. Click To Tweet

My Struggle to Believe in a Bible Without Errors

I have believed in the doctrine of Inerrancy at various times during my 50 years as a follower of Christ. But I can’t say I have always believed it. For me, the evidence that this doctrine is true gets slimmer as time passes.

I want to make this clear: I am not trying to convince anyone. This is just my journey. This article may help others who are in situations where they cannot express their doubts about Inerrancy and still maintain relationships with other Christians of their tribe.

Just so you know. You can believe whatever you want. These are my struggles.

This morning, I texted my wife and asked if she would read Numbers 31 again. I suggested she read it as if she was not a follower of Christ, and not someone with a high opinion of the Bible. As we digested its contents together, we realized it was saying that God had ORDERED the Israelites to:

  1. Kill all the Midianite boys
  2. Make all the virgin girls their sex slaves
  3. Kill all the women who had sex before
  4. Kill all the men
  5. Set fire to all their towns
  6. Reward the most violent soldiers with more spoils from the massacre.

Get your head around these stated “facts”: God commanded sex slavery. God commanded slaughter of children.

Get your head around these stated "facts": God commanded sex slavery. God commanded slaughter of children. Click To Tweet Continue reading “My Struggle to Believe in a Bible Without Errors”

Myths and Misunderstandings about Demons

The 45 college-aged students were stunned and frightened. Some were weeping, and others were so angry they balled up their fists and held their breath. They looked around as if they were about to be the next victim in a Hallowe’en movie. “Jumpy” describes their mood. Some of them reported weeks later they had not had a good night’s sleep since that horrific weekend.

Was this a murder mystery experience? Did they just do a horror movie marathon? Or did they really experience a supernatural phenomenon?

Actually, none of those things happened. They went on a college-and-career church retreat with their church. They invited a group of seniors from a local Bible College to come and do some teaching and direction for their weekend.

“It will be fun”, they thought.

“It will be instructive”, they hoped.

“It will be the most chaotic moment of our lives”, imagined none of them.

The worst part was…I was one of the teachers that weekend. I and my fellow college students were zealous and ignorant–a very toxic combination. Continue reading “Myths and Misunderstandings about Demons”

A Conversation on Inerrancy – My “Heretic” Credential

This is a fictional story; somewhat.

This is a true story; somewhat

Because the Doctrine of Inerrancy (the belief that the Bible is without error) is the doctrine which holds together all other traditional doctrines, most conservative theologians may allow slippage on other doctrinal positions, but not this one.

They will not even allow it to be challenged. Or questioned. Or modified in any way.

This often leaves people who prefer to examine everything without “just” believing it in a tough spot. If something cannot be challenged, or questioned, or modified, then it becomes the trysting spot upon which allegiance is called for.

In other words, you either accept the entire package or you’re out of the Club. The Club is the group of conservative Evangelicals.

Here is where this conversation comes in. In my 47 years of being a Christian, I have questioned every doctrine of the church continuously and repeatedly. As a result, the things I believe, I believe VERY strongly. The things I question, I question deeply. Because of that, I ask questions about Inerrancy that many of my colleagues have been reluctant to ask, at least openly.

And as a result, I am often cornered by pastors, professors, interested armchair theologians and asked to dialogue about my beliefs on inerrancy.

Two of those conversations are burned into my memory. They were very uncomfortable for me and them.

What I have done here is reproduce both of those into one conversation. I am probably not doing justice to what they said and probably editing/improving my comments. They both know who they are and what they said. If they want, they can publish their own conversations.

In the interest of space, here are my two conversations on Inerrancy compiled into one semi-fictional discussion. As will be obvious, I am starting somewhere in the middle. Continue reading “A Conversation on Inerrancy – My “Heretic” Credential”

Fast Food Doctrines of 2018 – A Warning Label

Modern society has sharpened its critical focus on food with empty calories. All food and drink has calories. But not all calories are created equal. Some calories benefit our bodies. Some food has calories which only contribute to obesity and illness.

I’ll let y’all figure out which foods go in which category. I’m just using that as an analogy.

Though some fast food chains are trying to make their food more healthy and wholesome, few people believe they’ve accomplished it. Food which has many calories and few healthy elements is often desirable from a taste point of view, but bad for our health.

There are certain doctrines which are like that. They appeal to many people, but actually are harmful to spiritual health and growth. Every generation has doctrines like these, so we should never be surprised to discover them. Hebrews 13:9 has a name for them. It calls them “strange doctrines”. The word means “foreign” in the sense of “something imported”. There are doctrines which come at us like exotic, tasty food. They are not really part of clear historical doctrine, but at first bite they taste so good.

But are they good for us?

I have identified three current teachings in our day which fall into this category of Fast Food Doctrine. For each of these I will simply identify the following features:

1. The Doctrine

2. Why people like it

3. What is wrong with it

4. What you can replace it with that “tastes” similar but is better for you.

One qualifier and explanation before beginning. Most of us, myself included, are not professional theologians. I consider a professional theologian to be someone who has studied, been mentored in, been examined in, and has published in the arena of Theological disciplines. For the most part, the true Theologian should have at least a Masters Degree in Theology. Most of today’s professional theologians have both a doctorate in Theology and have been published in peer-reviewed journals.

I can hear someone saying “anyone who studies the Bible is a theologian.” I call that viewpoint “Credential Bleeding”. It results from diminishing the minimum requirements needed for someone to be considered professional at a task.

It is like someone looking up a medical condition on WebMD and considering themselves as well-informed on it as a doctor. It is like saying that anyone who has ever talked about their faith with someone is a missionary.

When you broaden a definition, you water it down so it means nothing.

I have a Bachelors degree in Theology. I have written papers on theological topics. I read and study theology regularly. Yet I’m nothing more than an amateur. Many pastors are the same. John McArthur, John Piper, Rick Warren, Francis Chan, Bill Johnson, T. D. Jakes, Jack Hayford, are all experienced pastors. They all have opinions on theological topics. In the case of John Piper, he even has a doctorate. But none of them qualify as a professional theologian.

The professionals–such as N. T. Wright, Marg Mowcsko, Alastair McGrath, Douglas Moo, Sarah Cokely, Grace Kim, Michael Horton, Roger Olson, etc.–are not as well known as the pastors. Yet, they form the foundation of knowledge, experience and learning upon which amateurs rely. Their writings give the background, credence, and historical context needed so the pastors and other more well-known Christians can speak with confidence.

Many of these theologians have identified these Fast Food Doctrines of our day. But because most people do not read theologians as much as they read pastors and bloggers, I thought I would explain how these three doctrines make Christians spiritually unhealthy.

Providential Determinism

The Doctrine: Continue reading “Fast Food Doctrines of 2018 – A Warning Label”

Excerpt from Chapter Four of my New Book

This is an excerpt from Chapter four of my new book “Listen Carefully”:

Text of Chapter 1.4

“When Diligent Study doesn’t Satisfy”

Hearing God Book

My golf partner was late. And I was surly. The two go together.

This was in the days when cell phones were as long as your forearm, which was okay because only businessmen had them in their big cars, big enough to store such things. But it meant I couldn’t find out where he was and no one was home at his house. I hung closely to my car, for this neighborhood was tenuous at best.

It was full of very religious people.

I had visited there before and my buddy had pointed out many of the properties with their huge signs plastered with Scripture. Most of them went to the same church and many were related. I wanted to ask if any of the couples were first cousins with each other or perhaps closer relatives than that, but I kept my unsanctified comments to myself. This was a rural enclave in an ever-developing urban area and generally the neighborhood was peaceful and law-abiding. No one would think of mowing their lawns on a Sunday and wild parties on the weekend were only mentioned in prayer requests for people who lived closer to “town”.

In short, it was a religious, bible-loving ghetto.

The next door neighbor was a kingpin in the Bible sign mafia. He had a Bible Sign lab going in his garage and he churned out kilos of the material to be handed out for free to anyone who wanted his product. On his lawn he displayed his samples, hundreds of signs in bright neon shades, announcing various evangelistic and moralistic verses from the Bible. There must have been 200 of them at least. My first thought was “how do they mow their lawn?” At almost the exact moment I was thinking that, he came out of his shed with the lawn mower. Now I found myself gravitating over his way.

“How do you mow your lawn with all those signs” I started.

He looked me up and down as if assessing a junkie or a newbie (or a colossal idiot). “I pull them all out and stack them up before starting the mower”.

“Can I help?”

“Who are you?”

“I’m Glen’s golf partner” I proudly stated

“Golf!” he spat out. I had no idea what that meant, but it sounded like how he might describe Evolution or Woody Allen movies. There was no love lost between him and golf, so I went back to my original question. Continue reading “Excerpt from Chapter Four of my New Book”