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Tim Challies

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January 06, 2010
Mohler’s Top News Stories of 2009
Dr. Mohler looks at the top news stories of 2009. “How will 2009 be remembered? Looking back over the year, ten major developments seem most important to me from this vantage point. A few years from now, 2009 might be remembered differently, but these markers stand out as 2010 begins”
The Date of the Last Day
Harold Camping has (again) figured out the date the world will end. “Camping, 88, has scrutinized the Bible for almost 70 years and says he has developed a mathematical system to interpret prophecies hidden within the Good Book. One night a few years ago, Camping, a civil engineer by trade, crunched the numbers and was stunned at what he’d found: The world will end May 21, 2011.”
From the “Isn’t That What God Said?” File
“Young children spanked by their parents may perform better at school later on and grow up to be happier, according to a controversial new study that is drawing scorn from critics. The U.S.-based research states that spanking children up to six years old made them more successful in school, more optimistic about life, more likely to take voluntary work, and more keen to attend university than their never-spanked counterparts.”
Haven’t We Seen Avatar Before?
This is good for a chuckle.
Sale at RHB
Reformation Heritage Books has quite a long list of good books being offered at a steep discount. They are on a first come, first served basis with limited quantities, so don’t wait around.
August 02, 2009

This is one of my favorites from The Valley of Vision as much for the concept of the prayer as its actual words. This is a prayer meant to follow prayer. Read it and I’m sure you’ll see, as I do, just how weak and listless my prayers actually are and how much even my best efforts in prayer and praise and petition are in need of God’s grace. Bewail your prayers and thank God that he hears them and answers them nonetheless.

*****

O God of grace,
I bewail my cold, listless, heartless prayers;
their poverty adds sin to my sin.
If my hope were in them I should be undone,
But the worth of Jesus perfumes my feeble breathings, and wins their acceptance.
Deepen my contrition of heart,
Confirm my faith in the blood that washes from all sin.
May I walk lovingly with my great Redeemer.
Flood my soul with true repentance that my heart may be broken for sin and unto sin.
Let me be as slow to forgive myself as thou art ready to forgive me.
Gazing on the glories of thy grace may I be cast into the lowest depths of shame.
and walk with downcast head now thou art pacified towards me.
O my great High Priest,
pour down upon me streams of needful grace,
bless me in all my undertakings,
in every thought of my mind,
every word of my lips,
every step of my feet,
every deed of my hands.
Thou didst live to bless,
die to bless,
rise to bless,
ascend to bless,
take thy throne to bless,
and now thou dost reign to bless.
O give sincerity to my desires,
earnestness to my supplications,
fervour to my love.

June 23, 2008

Only on rare occasions can I bring myself to buy greeting cards. When it is Aileen’s birthday or when it is our anniversary, I either tell her how I feel (not something I’m particularly good at most of the time) or I buy a blank card and fill it with my own words. Or occasionally, to my shame, I forgo to card altogether. For some reason it just seems fake, disingenuous, to give her a card with a little poetic inscription written by someone else—someone who has never met her and knows nothing about her. What do the words mean when they’ve come from someone else? It seems that a card like that really means nothing to me, and I would rather give her a card that has come from my heart rather than the mind of a stranger. I prefer to invest the time and affection in expressing myself for her benefit.

Have you ever stopped to consider what it must be like to work for Hallmark or another of the companies that create greeting cards? Imagine spending your whole day attempting to come up with wonderful statements of deep feeling—love, remorse, sympathy—yet without feeling any of the associated emotions. Imagine having to write words that express sympathy, yet not feeling any sympathy yourself. Or imagine having to write words that can express the deep, passionate love a man has for his wife as they celebrate fifty years of marriage, but without having ever experienced that sort of love yourself. It must be very odd to spend the whole day writing words of love and passion from a husband to a wife but then return alone to an empty home and a life lived alone.

I fear that all too often I, as a Christian, can worship God in just this way. So often I sing songs with the most wonderful lyrics, but in a way that betrays my true feelings. I sing “When I survey the wondrous cross, on which the Prince of Glory died, my richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride.” But when I sing those words, so often it is as if I am a single man writing a greeting card to celebrate a fiftieth wedding anniversary. Though the words may sound wonderful, they are devoid of any true understanding. When I sing “Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me” do I even try to understand just how amazing God’s grace is? Have I experienced that grace and allowed it to transform my life? Do I know that the very grace I sing about is the only thing keeping me from an eternity of separation from God? Do I feel deep love and affection to the giver of grace? Or do I merely parrot back the words?

True worship relies on both feeling and understanding, or as Jesus said, on spirit and truth. Worship that is devoid of feeling and emotion will be dead worship, for the God we serve is worthy of feelings that express His worth. He evokes these feelings in those who love Him. It is the very height of hypocrisy to pay lip-service to God when I do not truly feel affection for Him. At the same time worship needs to be thoughtful. While it engages my feelings it must also engage my mind. My feelings must have their basis in what I know about God so that the more I know about Him the greater will be my feelings of affection for Him.

Before I married my wife I heard time and again from the wonderful older couples in our church that after forty, fifty or even sixty years of marriage, they continued to love each other more deeply and more intimately. I marveled that this could be true, yet through the first decade of my marriage I have already seen that it is not only possible but it is the way God intended marriage to be. I love my wife in a deeper way now than I did the day we exchanged vows. In the ensuing years we have faced trials together and have spent countless thousands of hours talking and laughing and worshiping together. The more I learn about Aileen and the more time I spend with her the greater my feelings of affection for her. To know her is to love her, and to know her more is to love her more.

Likewise, great knowledge of God must produce great feelings of affection for Him. These feelings of affection give me the burning desire to worship Him. I long to express my feelings, not as a means to some devious or selfish end, but simply as an expression of the affection I have for Him. As such, worship is not a means to an end, but it is an end in itself.

July 30, 2007

Monday July 30, 2007

Church: Trevin Wax discusses the phrase “personal relationship with Jesus” asks whether this phrase helps or hinders evangelism.

Culture: Peggy Noonan says that we live in an age of great wealth but of lousy manners. And I would tend to agree.

Homosexuality: Dr. Mohler’s most recent commentary is worth reading as he writes about the normalization of homosexuality and how this conflicts with man’s natural morality.

Du Jour: Lifehacker shares a good productivity tip, courtesy of Jerry Seinfeld.

November 06, 2006

Monday November 6, 2006

Humor?: Um, I don’t even know what to say about this.

Weird: An interesting story from Yahoo about a load of letters that ended up in the ocean: “Some of the letters are comical (a man asking God to let him win the lottery, twice), others are heartbreaking (a distraught teen asking forgiveness for an abortion, an unwed mother pleading with God to make the baby’s father marry her). The letters - about 300 in all, sent to a New Jersey minister - ended up dumped in the ocean, most of them unopened.”

Blogs: The Pyromaniac clears the record and offers some more of his bumper stickers for sale (if you’re into that kind of thing).

August 11, 2006

This evening’s session, the fifth general session of the conference, was primarily a time of singing and worship. I have attempted to capture an account of the evening’s events that those who have never attended a Sovereign Grace event may be able to understand how they worship.

The evening began with “Come Now Almighty King” and soon transitioned to a Valley of Vision video featuring the prayer “Spiritus Sanctus.”

Awe in God’s Presence:

We sang “Holy, Holy, Holy” a cappella and then listened to the reading of Isaiah 6:1-8 as a prelude to a time of repentance.

Acknowledge that Sin Cannot Exist in God’s Presence:

This was a time of repentance and confession, both corporate and personal. There was a time of silence where we searched our own hearts and asked God to reveal our sin to us. We then sang “The Precious Blood” and were led in prayer by Craig Cabaniss who thanked God for His mercy in Christ.

Gratefulness for Jesus, Our Access Into God’s Presence:

The vocalists read Hebrews 4:14-16, Ephesians 2:13-18 and Hebrews 10:19-22 which reminded us that we have access into God’s presence only through Jesus Christ. We followed these Scriptures with “I Come By The Blood” and “Jesus Thank You.” There was then a time of spontaneous group singing where Bob encouraged each person to sing his own song to the Lord. While I love to hear 1000 voices sing a single song to the Lord, it was equally stirring to hear 1000 voices sing 1000 songs to Him.

Prayer for God’s Active Presence in My Life:

Bob began this section by stating he had been led to sing a prophetic song for the women in the audience named Katie. He asked all the Katies presence to come to the front and he sang a song for them, the theme of which was to encourage them and to direct them to the Word as the source of God’s voice.

Shannon Harris sang a new song, “Who Made Me To Know You” and Scripture verses were read between each of the verses. There was then a time of individual prayer where we were to ask God’s Spirit to be working in and through our lives. Bob asked us to consider where we desire God to be more active in our lives: “Holiness? Purity? Boldness? Resisting temptation? Faithfulness? Prayer? Hearing and responding to His voice?” Again, there was a time of spontaneous worship based around a chorus which said, “Come Holy Spirit, glorify Jesus in me.” A few people delivered words from the Lord centered around images they felt He impressed on their minds. Bob and another gentlemen felt that God wanted to heal those with migraines, arthritis and lower-body pain. People with such infirmities raised their hands and were soon surrounded by those sitting closeby who laid hands on them and prayed that God would heal them. After “There is a Redeemer,” we broke into groups of just three or four people, each of which prayed for the local churches represented by the men and women in that group. We were to pray for them to actively pursue the presence of God in their midst.

Prayer for God’s Active Presence in my Local Church and the World:

The final portion of this evening’s service began with a time of spontaneous prayer for the church. It was then time to pray for the worldwide church and people from six nations read the first three verses of Psalm 67 in their native languages. “May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations. Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you!” It was read by natives of Ethiopia, Kenya, Guatemala, Japan, Korea and Australia (What happened to Canada!?). How good it was to hear God’s name praised in five different languages! When they had prayed, we recited the Lord’s Prayer in unison and closed a wonderful evening of worship with “Let Your Kingdom Come,” a new song written by Bob Kauflin.

And now we look forward to an hour-long concert by Keith Getty, Kristyn Getty, and the church’s band.

October 11, 2005

It was just about two years ago that I came to a rather disappointing realization. After much reflection and soul-searching I came to realize that much of what I believed as a Christian was mere cliché. I wrote about this last year and said “I believe it is important that we investigate words we frequently use that may no longer evoke interest or any genuine meaning because they have been so overused. As the original meaning of the word “trite,” a synonym for “cliché” indicates, they have become frayed and worn out by constant use. A cliché is often used when a speaker (or writer) cannot think of an original way to express an idea. It may also be that there is no easy way to present the idea other than to use a cliché. The danger of never investigating such words and discerning their true meaning is that eventually they become little more than tradition. As Christians we are told not to use “vain repetitions” but perhaps that is what many of these phrases have become.”

I defined two terms: “cliché” and “trite.”

Cliché

  1. A trite or overused expression or idea: “Even while the phrase was degenerating to cliché in ordinary public use… scholars were giving it increasing attention” (Anthony Brandt).
  2. A person or character whose behavior is predictable or superficial: “There is a young explorer… who turns out not to be quite the cliché expected” (John Crowley).

Trite

  1. Lacking power to evoke interest through overuse or repetition; hackneyed (overfamiliar through overuse)
  2. Archaic. Frayed or worn out by use.

I’m sure you can see how these definitions apply to some of the words you use. You may really have no idea of the meaning behind some of the words you use – it could be that you learned them in a church context and may have been using them for years without really grasping what they mean. Or perhaps you have used the words so many times that you have lost sight of their meaning and significance, allowing them to become worn out.

I thought about some clichéd expressions I use or hear all the time and will list a few of them.

To do with prayer I thought of:

  • The word “amen.”
  • The phrase “Dear God.”
  • The word and concept of “forgiveness”.
  • The word and concept of “bless.”
  • The phrase “in Jesus’ name.”

In regards to the Christian Life I thought of:

  • The word and concept of “miracles.”
  • The word and concept of “sin.”
  • The word “worship.”
  • The word and concept of “the cross.”
  • The concept of “personal relationship.”
  • The word “gospel.”

I’m sure I could go on…and on…and on. The point is that I believe that we often live a type of clichéd Christianity. We use clichéd words to worship a clichéd God. When we allow ourselves to only experience God on the basis of cliché, we will become as tired of Him as we are tired of the words we use to describe Him. But when we take the time to examine the words we use to speak to God and to speak about God, I believe we will allow God to be more real to our minds and to our hearts.

Through some writing I did at that time I began to formulate an understanding of one of the apparent shortcomings of evangelicalism. What was a nagging suspicion was made startingly clear in the last year as we watched the tsunami devastate the East and in recent months, hurricanes devastate parts of America. And then this weekend John Piper quoted David Wells who said approximately the same thing: evangelicalism is simply inequipped to deal in a satisfactory way with the really difficult issues.

What follows are a few paragraphs of several pages of reflections I penned while flying home from the conference last weekend:

The shallowness of evangelicalism leaves it largely inequipped to deal with the difficult issues. If we are to be a people that brings hope to the hopeless, purpose to the purposeless and joy to those who know only sorrow, we must be prepared to give answers that are biblically-based and Scripturally-satisfying. To do this we must wrestle with the difficult doctrines of sin, love, sorrow and suffering. We must be prepared not only to give an answer for the hope that lives within us, but for the suffering that causes us to draw upon that hope and to take our refuge in Christ Jesus, the One whose death gives us hope for now and for eternity.

I am writing this while returning from a conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I gaze down at the ground some 29,000 feet below, looking at the thousands upon thousands of houses, knowing that each house represents one, two, three or more people, each of which could surely share stories of suffering. From birth to death we all suffer in terrible and savage ways. To be born is to suffer for both mother and child, and we soon come to understand that suffering is to respector of persons. Live long enough and you will surely know pain and sorrow. No one is immune. Neither is there any innoculation or protection that can ward off the effects of living in so sinful a world.

And what I have come to realize is that we have so little to offer to the family who home has been blown flat by the storm or to the man who has just watched his child succumb to an illness. We have so little true comfort to offer, for we ourselves have not wrestled with God about the truly difficult issues. When we see people approach their Ford of Jabbok, where like Jacob they will have to grapple with God Himself, we can give them little more than platitudes and cliché. We tell them that Jesus loves them and that He works all things for the good of those who love Him. But they want to know why. Why, God, do you allow me to suffer in this way? Why do you torment me? Why?

And we have no answer. We answer with cliché, but without true conviction.

This weekend helped me conclude, even more firmly, that we must wrestle with the difficult issues. We must be prepared to give an answer to death and pain and suffering. We must answer in such a way that we acknowledge God’s supremacy and sovereignty in all things and in a such a way that we do not let God off the hook, for as Mark Talbot taught on Saturday, God does not want to be let off the hook. In the first speech of the Desiring God Conference, John Piper expressed that the tragedy and suffering of 9/11 and Katrina has shown the church to be shallow and unable to deal with such serious evil. Evangelicalism is simply not very serious anymore. Against the weight and seriousness of the Bible, the church is choosing to become more shallow and light and therefore more unable to respond properly to pain and suffering. His desire for the conference was that God would show Christ’s supremacy even in suffering. My desire is that we, as Christians, can dig deeper into these issues to uncover God in the storm, God in the pain and God in the suffering.

September 11, 2005

This was a particularly busy week for me. I had several hard deadlines I had to meet and only just managed to get the work done. I find that the busier the week, the more I appreciate my day of rest. As I reflected on this, I remembered a hymn written by John Newton. So as I rest, I leave you to ponder “Safely Through Another Week.” It is a song of thanks for another week of safety and a song of petition, that we may feel God’s presence near to us during the upcoming week.

Safely through another week God has brought us on our way;
Let us now a blessing seek, on th’approaching Sabbath day;
Day of all the week the best, emblem of eternal rest,
Day of all the week the best, emblem of eternal rest.

Mercies multiplied each hour through the week our praise demand;
Guarded by almighty power, fed and guided by His hand;
Though ungrateful we have been, only made returns of sin,
Though ungrateful we have been, only made returns of sin.

While we pray for pardoning grace, through the dear Redeemer’s Name,
Show Thy reconciled face, shine away our sin and shame;
From our worldly cares set free, may we rest this night with Thee,
From our worldly cares set free, may we rest this night with Thee.

Here we come Thy Name to praise, let us feel Thy presence near,
May Thy glory meet our eyes, while we in Thy house appear:
Here afford us, Lord, a taste of our everlasting feast,
Here afford us, Lord, a taste of our everlasting feast.

When the morn shall bid us rise, may we feel Thy presence near:
May Thy glory meet our eyes, when we in Thy house appear:
There afford us, Lord, a taste of our everlasting feast,
There afford us, Lord, a taste of our everlasting feast.

May Thy Gospel’s joyful sound conquer sinners, comfort saints;
May the fruits of grace abound, bring relief for all complaints;
Thus may all our Sabbaths prove till we join the church above,
Thus may all our Sabbaths prove till we join the church above!

September 01, 2005

The past twenty-four or forty-eight hours have been the most successful in the history of my company Websonix, at least in terms of sales. I have been literally inundated with work. Of course I am not complaining! Far from it, I am very thankful for the work that has come my way. It has meant, though, that my blogging time has been somewhat reduced as I have several imminent deadlines. I thought of posting an as-yet unfinished article, but wanted to be sure I did it justice. So instead of rushing something to “print,” I thought I’d post an article written by a reader (who also happens to be my sister) who pondered what I wrote about sex and intimacy and subsequently wrote down her thoughts. From here on out you’re reading Susanna’s words.

I am writing this article as a result of much time spent pondering over my brother’s most recent post at his web site, www.challies.com. There, Tim has written about sex and intimacy, both how it is abused in our culture and how it is intended to be biblically. Tim cites Songs of Solomon as the best place to find an obvious show of intense marital love, desire and commitment in the bible.

Now, I have a confession to make. Songs of Solomon as a book can rather intimidate me. what do I mean by that? Well, the exchange between Solomon and his young Shulammite lover are simply bathed in such a pure and beautiful, reckless desire that knows none of the negativity or criticism that I find can so easily impede such constant romance in a courtship or marriage. Movies such as “Life is Beautiful” or “The Notebook” run through my head as I read this chapter of the bible, an automatic response, I suppose, of a romantic who has a finely tuned knowledge of what true love is in films, but not neccessarily always in real life; who can give up everything for a few hours to a screen writer’s fantasy. To use that energy instead twoards reality…to surrender my feelings of love for Rick so unabashedly…feelings which grow daily as we near our anniversary, and tell him such truths on a regular basis as, “How handsome you are, my lover! Oh, how charming!” or “You have stolen my heart, my (husband), my (groom); you have stolen my heart with one glance of your eyes.” Would not that kind of intimacy and transparency be an awesome addition to any marriage?

On the other hand, artist Bruce Springsteen declares in his song “The Secret Garden”, that there is a secret garden within a woman, a place locked up which will never be openned to a man no matter how close their relationship may get emotionally and physically. He sings, “She’s got a secret garden/ Where everything you want/ Where everything you need/ Will stay a million miles away.” Fortunately, there is a strikingly different message apparent in Songs of Solomon. Though the lovers wisely control their undeniable desires to give themselves over to each other physically, thus keeping their desires “locked up” metaphorically until marriage, they do not deny each other the awesome experience of knowing one other emotionally and spiritually. They know that they are intended for each other, proclaiming with fervency, “My lover is mine and I am his,”and thus see no reason to hide their feelings and thoughts as they have found a secure refuge in each other. In short, they know that true, everlasting love encompasses a tender weaving together of the whole self, given wisely, yet totally surrendered to the other person. Like a stick of peppermints, continually peeled away to get at another candy, our surrendered selves will always carry unchartered crevices of course, yet it is these things, shared with a mate, which can heighten the elements of discovery through out the years together.

After contemplating this debated book, which baffles as well as bothers many for its place in the bible, I no longer feel intimidated but rather inspired…inspired to ditch assumptions and instead verbalize my love and desire for Rick whenever I can. I have been blessed with a beautiful man, inside and out, who follows after God faithfully and passionately declares his admiration for his bride on a regular basis, which, put together, is everything. Together the passions will also intensify our relationship with Christ, the ultimate king who will come gather us all, his underserving people, in a beautiful culmination at the end of this earthly kingdom. Until then, all creation sings in admiration and exaltation to the author of beauty, of love, of passion, and of desire.

*Verses taken from NIV study bible

August 31, 2005

In yesterday’s article we built a framework in which to understand sex from a biblical perspective. We saw that sex is: a Gift From God; intended only for marriage; for giving and receiving pleasure; a means of building intimacy; intended for procreation. Today we will continue this discussion to encompass autoeroticism, the act of providing sexual pleasure to oneself.

Blindness, Baldness and Hairy Palms

I suspect my childhood is typical in that I heard many rumors about the physical effects of autoeroticism. I was told that people who did it went blind, lost their hair, grew hair on their palms or went crazy. But as James Dobson says, “If it did [cause such afflictions], the entire male population and about half of females would be blind, weak, simpleminded and sick. Between 95 and 98 percent of all boys engage in this practice — and the rest have been known to lie.” My parents certainly never told me such lies and neither did any of my teachers or youth leaders. Yet these rumors were passed from boy-to-boy on the playground, usually long before any of us had ever given serious consideration to sexuality. We did not know what the act was, but we did know the supposed repercussions.

While these rumors are clearly unfounded, they continue to be told simply because autoeroticism is a topic that breeds guilt and shame. It encourages worry that a person will be found out. Yet there is no physical reason to deny oneself this sexual pleasure. There can, however, be a mental and spiritual toll as many people struggle with feelings of guilt, remorse and shame because of their habits. This may be a convincing reason for some people to avoid participating, but for many it is not.

Purity of Mind

The most common reason given why people should not engage in autoeroticism is that it pollutes the mind. Sexual gratification is not merely a physical act, but one that engages the mind. In speaking with men who struggle with this sin, one will find that the act brings far less guilt than the accompanying fantasies. These fantasies run rampant during acts of autoeroticism. This type of fantasy can be dangerous in two ways.

First, as most adults have learned the hard way, reality is rarely as wonderful as fantasy. Many people create expectations for sex in their minds that the reality cannot meet. I dare say that rarely has a teenage boy created a fantasy in which his partner gently and lovingly rebuffs his advances because she is too tired. Neither has he concocted a fantasy in which she declines participation in a particular act because she finds it uncomfortable or distasteful. The fact is that fantasy can create unhealthy and unrealistic expectations of sex.

Second, fantasy will rarely involve legitimate sexual partners. A teenage girl has no legitimate reason to pursue sexual fantasy, for she has no God-given partner with whom she can consumate such desire. While it is perfectly legitimate for a husband to dream of a sexual encounter with his wife, autoeroticism may encourage him to fill his mind with thoughts of other women, or even to gaze at pornographic material to fuel his mind.

Fantasy is dangerous when left unchecked. Autoeroticism is wrong when it violates the Lord’s teaching about moral purity. “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). Fantasy can also be dangerous when it creates unrealistic expectation.

Some will protest that when they engage in autoeroticism it is merely a physical act and one they do to relieve stress or boredom. They will insist that they do not succumb to thinking inappropriate thoughts. In his book When Good Men Are Tempted, Bill Perkins writes, “It appears to me that masturbation is amoral. Under some circumstances it’s acceptable behavior. On other occasions it’s clearly wrong” (page 122). He goes on to provide three tests which will gauge whether a particular instance is right or wrong: the thought test (whether the act is accompanied by inappropriate fantasies), the self-control test (whether the act becomes obsessive) and the love test (whether autoeroticism leads to a person failing to fulfill the needs of his or her spouse). I found it interesting that in a book about sexual purity this topic was covered in only two pages and that the pages were at the very end of the book, almost as if this topic was an afterthought. Millions of men will tell you that it is far more than an afterthought.

James Dobson teaches a similar view of autoeroticism being amoral. When I was young my parents gave me his book Preparing for Adolescence and I remember this teaching well. He believes that every boy (and most girls) try it and that the guilt brought about by the act destroys many children. Thus he believes parents should rarely speak to their children about it, and if they do, to reassure their children that such practices are normal.

Like Perkins, Dobson does not engage in a biblical examination of this particular topic. Like Perkins he concludes that autoeroticism is amoral because there is no specific bible passage that allows or condemns the practice.

Yet, as we will see, the Bible is not silent.

God’s Purpose in Sexuality

Yesterday we learned that the ultimate purpose of sex is to provide ultimate intimacy between a husband and wife. There is no greater expression of vulnerable intimacy between human beings. A close examination of the Scripture’s teaching on sexuality will uncover no reason to believe that God ever intended sex to be a private pursuit. The heart and soul of sexuality is the giving and receiving of sexual pleasure. Sex is intended to be a means of mutual fulfillment where a husband thinks foremost of his wife, and the wife things foremost of her husband. As they fulfill each other’s needs, they have their own fulfilled. It is a beautiful picture of intimacy!

“Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control” (1 Corinthians 7:5). This deprivation can refer not only to time but to activity. A man should no more deprive his wife over a period of time than he should deprive her by private sexual activity.

And this, the mutual giving and receiving which lies at the heart of God’s purpose for sexuality, is exactly what autoeroticism cannot provide. It strips sexuality of its divine purpose of mutual fulfillment. It takes an act God intends to build relationship and makes it an act of selfish isolation.

I remind you again of the passage we looked at yesterday. “The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does” (1 Corinthians 7:3-4). A man’s body does not belong to himself, but to his present or future wife, and ultimately to God. A wife’s body belongs to her husband (and to God). Neither spouse has the right to express sexuality apart from the other. When the Bible tells a man that he is to express his sexuality exclusively with his wife, why do so many interpret this to mean that he can express his sexuality with his wife or by himself?

Tithing to Oneself

Perhaps it would be helpful to interrupt for a moment to provide an analogy.

Imagine, if you will, that you are sitting in church on a Sunday morning. One of the deacons (the one who always seems to have bits of breakfast caught in his moustache) has just prayed to thank the Lord for His gracious gifts. The offering baskets are being passed up-and-down the rows of seats. You have just stuffed your check into the little offering envelope that is too small to fit the check without folding it, but far too large for a folded check, when you glance over at the gentleman sitting beside you. He has just completed writing a check and now proceeds to tear it from his checkbook, fold it and place it in an envelope. You are surprised to see that he proceeds to place the envelope in his pocket, close his eyes and whisper a short prayer. Intruiged, you lean toward him and ask why he has put the check in his pocket. Not at all annoyed he replies, “I tithe to myself.” “What,” you say, “Why would you do that?” “I need the money as much as anyone,” he replies.

It is a ridiculous scenario, is it not? But I believe the principle can be extended to our discussion of autoeroticism. If a man were to earn a living and tithe his ten percent to himself, we could consider him selfish, for he is missing the very purpose for which God tells us to give our gifts to the church. Similarly, if a man engages in autoeroticism he is perverting God’s design for sexuality, taking something that is supposed to bring blessing to another and making it selfish so it serves only himself.

Not A Selfish Pursuit

Do you see, then, how autoeroticism denies the very purpose for which God created sex? Sex was not meant to be a selfish pursuit. It was not intended to focus a person’s thoughts on himself and his own needs. Rather, sex was designed as a means of fulfilling the Lord’s command to esteem another higher than oneself. The pleasure of sex is not meant to be enjoyed in isolation, but to be enjoyed while providing that same pleasure to another. Autoeroticism cannot fulfill God’s design for sexuality, and thus has no place in the life of one who calls himself a Christian.

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