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Letters to the Editor (Petra, Marriage, Sex in Movies)

This was a banner week when it came to letters to the editor. I had a lot of letters to choose from on a lot of different subjects—something I found rather a joy. Here are some of the best of them.

Comments on War, Women, and Wealth

Thank you for your article on War, Women, and Wealth. That passage in Deuteronomy 17 is a nugget that can get lost. I have heard it preached several times, referring to the three things as money, sex, and power. It is interesting to see what follows the warning—while verses 16 and 17 give three things to avoid, verse 18 gives one thing to do as an act of protection—copy out Scripture. Verses 19 and 20 talk about using that copy with obedience to fear the Lord and not have his heart lifted up above his countrymen, pride certainly a huge component of abusing money, sex, and power. That has motivated and inspired many I know, including myself. Copying Scripture is now an appreciated tool that I use to slow down to meditate on and look at the text from more angles. My father is a pastor (he’s the one I’ve most often heard preach this), and he loves to do this; over several years he finished copying out his whole Bible.
—Katie S, Bozeman, MT
Tim: Quite right! I hope to return to those verses in a future article. We can look at the life of Solomon to see someone who violated all of God’s prohibitions about war, women, and wealth (or, if you prefer, military power). What would have protected him? Writing out the law (which we have no record of him doing) and keeping it with him all the days of his life. That is no less true of us.

Comments on Married for God

This is just a short comment to say that I’m delighted to see you recommend Christopher Ash’s book ‘Married for God’, and that it has made it’s way to your side of the Atlantic. For many years it has been our wedding gift of choice for couple’s getting married, and is now the textbook we use when giving pre-marital counselling. It is, quite simply, the most God-centred book on the subject I have ever read.

—Pete K, Woking, UK

Comments on How Petra Rocked My Soul

It was a joy to receive so many reminisces about Petra. Petra fans may enjoy this Facebook comment from Ronny Cates (bass player in the “Beyond Belief” era).

It’s really strange to see you write this article, as I have had “Beyond Belief” running through my head for the past two weeks. I used to listen only to Christian music in the 1990s, went to Christian school, youth group, and so forth—I remember seeing the music video for “Beyond Belief” at school. In my young zeal for God, I suppose I thought I would “optimize” my life so that everything had to do with Him. I’m not quite certain what to make of those days now. So many of those kids I grew up with have left the church in spite of the Christian sub-culture. I wonder to myself what went wrong—did the Baby Boomers fail to pray, did the subculture drown out the gospel, or something else?

Petra remains a great band and I love their music even more now that I am older. But I still feel a sadness listening to it because so many of my erstwhile companions seem to have abandoned the gospel (which they must have never held to in the first place). It’s difficult not to wish for a return to those days for they often seem brighter than the present.

—Matt R, Wilmington, DE

I couldn’t help but reminisce as I read your recent article about Petra. Growing up in the 80s, Christian music had a profound impact on the development of my faith—especially Petra. Looking back, I realize how much I appreciated that they always included Scripture in the liner notes. I remember looking up the references and learning to understand the biblical basis for the songs I loved and the truth I believed. Because of that biblical underpinning, I have often referred to Petra’s music as the hymnal of my teen years (I guess that was OK in an Assemblies of God church). Thanks for the stroll down memory lane.

—Rob C, Frostburg, MD

Thanks for the post! Me? 9th grade. Song? “It is Finished.” I still have the lyrics on a sheet of paper in my Bible. Between Mrs. Graham, my Sunday School teacher, and this weird Christian Rock band, the Almighty Creator of the Universe captured my soul.

—Sheila H, Spokane, WA

Thank you for highlighting Petra’s excellent witness. I took some women from our neighborhood Bible study to their On Fire concert in Greenville, SC in 1989 (or thereabouts). Bob Hartman said something that night I have never forgotten. He was speaking to those who believe but are complacent in sharing their faith or living openly for Christ. He said, “Being on fire for Christ is not a feeling you get; it is a decision you make.” It has been a good reminder over the years to believe and act on the truth in God’s Word, regardless of what I am feeling at the time.

—Eileen G, Albuquerque, NM

Comments on On “Stranger Things” and Being a Big Prude

You are going to find that all of these responses are in general agreement with what I wrote about sex in movies. That’s simply reflects the fact that I got all kinds of letters agreeing with me and not a single one disagreeing.

Tim, thank you so much for walking through some of your thoughts, temptations, and sins which give background and support for your visual entertainment standards which have been discussed on your blog before. I tend to think that many of the folks with ‘stronger’ (weaker?) consciences that you reference may have a similar path of thoughts and conviction when they watch scenes with some level of nudity or sex, but have seared their consciences over time and have adapted to our current North American culture. I’m grateful that you have been vulnerable to share your approach, and I think it is helpful and sets a strong example for your readers. May we all seek to honor God with what we set in front of our eyes!

—Bethany M, Denver, CO

I want to thank you and commend you for your article on Stranger Things. You were able to describe in great detail the battle you experienced with your conscience. I have very similar convictions about entertainment and have learned to be extremely careful in previewing movie or TV content. When I have not been careful, that content almost always gets stuck in my brain and I can’t keep it from polluting my thoughts and relationships in some way. Where I struggle and fall into pride is in thinking about how to react to Christians who feel free to watch this content. Doesn’t Ephesians 5 talk about this when it says, “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness but instead expose them.” Should we be entertained by something for which Christ died? Would we watch it in person in our living rooms? These are the questions I have and more often than not I am guilty of a critical and prideful spirit. But is it ever ok to approach someone about their entertainment choices?

—Meredith B, Marietta, GA

Thanks for the article—I’m always glad for another Christian reminding us of how obscene the entertainment world is, and pricking my conscience to re-evaluate what I’m watching. It’s too easy to lapse into a state of ambivalence that leads to major judgment errors and sin. It can be hard to always be the one saying ‘no, I haven’t seen that show/movie,’ etc, and I needed the reminder that my entertainment and ‘cultural savvy’ are never worth the sacrifice of a good conscience.

—Emilie L, Tacoma, WA

I wanted to express my deep appreciation for your article about “Stranger Things” and, more specifically, its relationship to one’s conscience. As a young pastor with a degree in video production and a love for all things cinematic, I have had a hard time balancing my love for quality production quality and storyline with a deep desire to not intentionally put any unclean thing before my eyes.

When I read your article, I felt as if I were reading my own thoughts. As you stated, I found the overall premise of the show to be fascinating. The characters were well-rounded, and the 80s intro had me hooked from the start. However, I soon found myself in a moral crisis. By the time the scene you mentioned in your article appeared on-screen, I was already hooked on the show.

I soon found myself in a moral crisis. I wanted to see what happened to the characters. I wanted to soak in more of the 80s-fest. And seriously, who is this creepy little girl? However, my conscience kept pulling on my heart. To my shame, I finished the episode. For the last two weeks, I have been struggling on whether or not to finish the series. The more I see my Christian friends posting about how incredible the season is and how excited they are for season two, the more I think to myself, “Am I too sensitive? Maybe I don’t understand my liberty in Christ.”

As you wrote in your piece, I am not yet decided on whether or not it is sinful for all Christians to watch the series. However, I do know that it would be sin for me to watch it. Thank you for stating this so clearly in your article. Thank you for giving a voice to my inward struggle.

This may very well be a “meat sacrificed to idols” issue in my life. This may very well be a sign of me misunderstanding my freedom in Christ. Nevertheless, I would rather never eat meat and lay down my freedom than risk sinning against the Lord who was wounded for my sins.

—Hayden H, Oklahoma City, OK

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