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The “marry a virgin” movement in evangelical circles is misguided

Posted by Chance on November 4, 2013

When I was in junior high and high school and listening to church talks about purity, a major theme was the idea that you should try to marry someone who saved himself or herself for you.  Sounds like a great idea.  After all, aren’t you and Jesus worth waiting for?

But here’s the problem.  People who didn’t wait till marriage, what are they supposed to do?  What does this mean for people who aren’t virgins?  Are they supposed to marry the backsliden Christians, for whom purity isn’t important?  The whole idea of the “marry a virgin” movement is that, if you made mistakes in the area of sexuality, you aren’t worth it.

I also feel that this idea gets across the message that the past means everything.  This whole idea is that, once someone sins in this area, they have reached a point of no return.  I don’t believe that’s the case.

Most importantly, I feel that such a message tries to limit God’s plan for our lives.  Who says that God doesn’t have a partner for someone who has sinned in this area?  In the Bible, we seem to see an opposite idea.  We see one of the Israelites marry the former prostitute Rahab.   We see the story of Hosea, who marries an unfaithful woman, yet takes her back, and this story is an illustration of how God takes us back when we are unfaithful to him.

The Bible is full of stories of redemption and second chances.  Yes, we can make choices that have life-long consequences, but the “marry a virgin” idea seems to go against the Biblical theme of redemption and second chances.

Posted in Christianity, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

On troubled wide receivers, the Nuclear Family, and the Genealogy of Christ

Posted by Chance on November 3, 2013

Two wide receivers from my alma mater, Oklahoma State, made headlines this week.  Justin Blackmon is entering rehab and is suspended indefinitely from the NFL, and Dez Bryant has emotional outbursts on the sideline.  The interesting thing, to me, is that these two people come from, what seems to be, radically different backgrounds.  Dez Bryant was born to his mother at the age of 14 and lived a very troubled childhood.  Justin Blackmon came from what seems to be a stable two-parent family with a Christian faith.  When Justin Blackmon came out to the NFL I thought he would be different from the somewhat troubled Bryant.  That perception ended quickly when Blackmon received a DUI before his first NFL snap.

A stable family goes a long way toward helping someone on the straight and narrow, but it is no guarantee.  And just because certain boxes are checked in a person’s life (Christian, parents never divorced) doesn’t mean that everything is just great.  We cannot honestly speculate about a person’s life.

This whole thing has made me think about the value we place on the stable nuclear family, especially cultural conservatives like myself.  We focus a lot on how things should be, but I think we sometimes forget that great things can happen out of the non-ideal situations.

When we look at the Bible, especially the genealogy of Christ, we see a whole history of non-ideal situations.  One of Jesus’ ancestors, Rahab, was a prostitute.  David was an ancestor to Jesus, but it wasn’t through the virtuous Abigail, it was a woman with whom he had an affair and killed her husband.  Even Jesus was born as a sort of stepson of Joseph, with step siblings.  I wonder if the family dynamics were awkward there.

I don’t know if all this stuff really relates.  All I know is that bad stuff can happen with people arising from a stable family, and that God does great things out of messy situations, including broken families.  And don’t forget, the story of Dez Bryant and Justin Blackmon is far from finished.

Posted in Christianity, Culture | Leave a Comment »

Does God control sports?

Posted by Chance on November 14, 2011

So, for most of my life I’ve grown up with the idea of a God who follows the deistic model when it comes to sports.  That is, a God who does not interfere whatsoever in sporting events.  I was talking with my wife about this, maybe a year ago, or so and she disagreed with me.  That is, she didn’t necessarily believe that was the case.  I forget her exact reasoning, but it made sense.  It was something along the lines of “how do we know God doesn’t?”

The more I think about it, the more it makes sense.  As I’ve grown older, I’ve become more and more accustom to a God who controls everything.  I’m not saying we don’t have free will, but I believe the decisions we make and what we are going to make all fit within his framework.  I look at where I work and where I live, and they all fall within his master plan.  Whose to say sports don’t do the same?  Why would God be involved in every aspect of people’s lives but then decide to back off on this one thing?

My inner dialog goes like this:

“Well, that’s not fair if God favors one team over another and is involved in competition, that doesn’t seem fair.”

“Well, I believe I got this job because of God’s providence and direction for my life, and that means someone else didn’t.  Does it seem fair that God picked me in this job over someone else?”

“You’re right.  You’re so smart.”

Look, I know this is a weird idea, but here’s the thing.  I believe God is involved in every area of our life.  And the people who play sports, and even those who follow sports to a much lesser degree, have sports occupying a major part of their life.  Are you going to tell me that God completely butts out of that area?  People learn valuable lessons from sports, including games won or lost.

That being said, I don’t believe we can infer anything from the win-loss column of our team.  We can’t say our team won all of their games because of their mission trip to Africa or they lost all their games because they partied too much.  The Bible is clear that we cannot know why things happen, see the book of Job or the story about the blind man.  Bad and good things happen in every arena of life, and we don’t always know why, so I believe this is true for sports.

Posted in Christianity, Sports | 1 Comment »

Credit cards and alcohol

Posted by Chance on August 23, 2011

Dave Ramsey has a lot of good financial advise.  However, he does not believe in credit card usage whatsoever.  Now, looking at his article he makes a lot of good points, and I can’t disagree with most of them them. I do believe it is possible to use a credit card, reap the benefits, and pay the balance off.  That being said, I do agree with his point about “When you pay cash, you can “feel” the money leaving you. This is not true with credit cards.”

However, my pastor said something yesterday that was quite wise.  Christianity is about principles, not rules.  When you focus on following rules and not principles, you can miss out on following the voice of God. I feel that by saying “credit cards are prohibited”, it amounts to legalism.

Also, the arguments I’ve heard against credit cards seem familiar.  “Credit cards destroy people and families.  So many people use them irresponsibly.  People can’t handle credit cards”.  These sound very similar to arguments against alcohol.  Some Christian denominations believe in abstinence altogether.

I do believe abstinence from both can be a very wise decision for many people.  Unfortunately many people cannot handle either and end up harming their lives.  But I believe a key principle in the Christian walk is that of discernment and hearing God’s voice.  My pastor said it well.  “People want rules, they don’t want to listen for God’s voice.”

I’m not saying that is why Dave Ramsey is saying to not use credit cards, or that he is suffering from legalism, or anything like that.  And after reading the article I want to evaluate how I use credit cards.  But the philosophy of  “never use them, never ever” is not one I agree with, and doesn’t necessarily apply to everyone.

Posted in Christianity, Philosophy | 4 Comments »

Why Harry Potter doesn’t bother me as a Christian

Posted by Chance on June 16, 2011

The last installment of the Harry Potter series is coming out July 15, which I greatly look forward to seeing.  I’ve seen all the movies and listened to book 6 and read book 7.

In Christian circles much has been made of the HP series, although it’s died down over the years.  But the presence of magic in movies and books is something that Christians should consider and address.

First of all, let’s take a look at “magic” or the supernatural in real life.  Sorcery was condemned in the Bible in the Old and New Testament.  Why?  I think because the supernatural does exist in our world, and it comes from one of two possible sources.  It is either God or his enemy, and I’m pretty sure sorcery as we know it came from the enemy.

In a fictional world, such a dilemma does not exist.  Magic doesn’t have to come from a demonic being.  It is no more unwholesome than a mutation that gives Wolverine his powers or a radioactive spider bite that gave Spiderman his.  This magic, like technology, can be used for good or evil purposes.  Also, if one condemns magic in the Harry Potter series they have to do so in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and even possibly the Chronicles of Narnia (although one could argue that Narnia is different since Aslan represents Christ).

That being said, I recognize some of the issues that Harry Potter can represent to younger children.  For one, these stories are about everyday young kids who appear normal, yet happen to have magical gifts.  Consequently, the idea of a child being able to possess magical gifts seems a little more feasible than a child being able to walk through walls because of a mutation or a visitor arriving from a distant planet.  Impressionable young kids may wonder if they too, could possess magic powers.  But hopefully this can be quickly remedied by the parents steering them back to reality.  Also, the books get progressively more violent and dark, so that’s another thing parents need to keep in mind.  Even in that case, the Harry Potter series becomes an issue of discernment, not a cause to rise against.

Posted in Christianity, Culture | Leave a Comment »

Being the older brother

Posted by Chance on June 1, 2011

My pastor talked about the story of the prodigal son recently.  He focused not so much on the rebellious younger brother, but the “upright” older brother.  He basically said that the problem with the rebellious brother represented those who thought they were too rebellious for God to love them.  The problem with the older brother is that they think they are too good to need God’s love or grace.

This is a theme I’ve heard at church and through other sources recently.  Jesus came to save the rebellious who don’t deserve God’s grace, but he also came to save those who think they don’t need it.  Sometimes I think it is harder for the people who do all the right things, the responsible people, to move to a true relationship with God than it is for the rebel.  I think this can be true in terms of salvation, and also just in having a closer relationship with God.

In the story of the prodigal son, I feel like I identify with the older brother.  I’m someone who is responsible, got straight A’s, always did the right things, avoided the wrong things.  As a Christian, I try to read my Bible regularly and pray every day.  But I think the reality is far different from what I realize.  I’m someone who desperately needs God.  There was a time when I feel like I realized this every day; a time when I was confronting some sin in my life that needed to be dealt with.  During that time I felt like I depended on God everyday.  So the question is, how do I get back to this point?  Where I’m no longer the upstanding older brother but someone who desperately depends on God?  Perhaps the problem is that we need to realize we are all rebels.

Posted in Christianity | Leave a Comment »

I’m not going to mourn

Posted by Chance on May 2, 2011

So, Bin Laden is dead. In the era of Facebook, I get to see people’s various reactions. The one I wanted to focus on was the Christian response – not to rejoice even when the wicked perish, and that we should never be happy when someone is suffering in hell, even if that person was evil incarnate.

Nine and a half years ago, I wanted Osama to pay. He killed thousands of people and I wanted him to suffer. Death was too good for him; I wanted him tortured. Over time, my anger has faded. When I heard the news last night, I felt a sense of excitement. But I don’t think this excitement was out of revenge or vindication. I thought we would never catch the guy, despite all our efforts for the past decade (and probably beyond that). Catching him was a huge victory, even if it was largely symbolic. I believe I would have been just as happy if he was captured, although I’m not sure by what court he would be tried and if he would have received the death penalty. So, my excitement was not due to Osama’s suffering, but just the enormity of the news.

That being said, the reaction of “not rejoicing” is still technically correct. We shouldn’t rejoice that someone rejected God and is now suffering in hell. For a great perspective, visit Mornings with Brant (ironically the picture posted in the blog is what Brant is reacting against).  We are all deserving of hell, so we shouldn’t really rejoice when someone gets what they deserve.  The Bible lumps murderers together with people who disobey their parents.

While I’m not rejoicing at Osama’s fate, I’m not mourning either.  Maybe some of this has to do with my desensitization.  People die across the world, tragically.  Unfortunately, there is so much death in the world that it is hard to be moved by tragic news, unless it’s on a large scale like 9/11 or natural disasters.  So, when I hear of one person dying, and that person happens to be an infamous terrorist, I won’t rejoice at their fate, but I won’t mourn either.  I’m not saying that’s necessarily the right attitude, so it’s something about which I have to pray to God so that I would have the right attitude.

Posted in Christianity, Culture | 1 Comment »

I wish I could condemn Ayn Rand’s philosophy

Posted by Chance on April 15, 2011

I wrote a really good post about Ayn Rand and her philosophy of Objectivism.  In just a few paragraphs I talked about my experience reading Rand and Atlas Shrugged.  I spoke about what I thought of Objectivism, why it was ultimately empty and shallow, and how it ran in contrast to Christianity.

For those unfamiliar with the term, Objectivism is a philosophy that

…the proper moral purpose of one’s life is the pursuit of one’s own happiness or rational self-interest…

I was writing about how such a view is incompatible with Jesus Christ. I felt very proud of my writing, it was well done, complex, explored all these philosophies. I then started to add how such a viewpoint was incompatible with marriage.

Man, how could I have such a philosophy? Where my main concern in marriage, or in Christianity, is my own…happiness.

Hmm.

On second thought maybe Ayn Rand and I aren’t so different. Maybe the only difference between her and I is at least she was honest about how she lived.

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Sometimes it is hard to believe in some things

Posted by Chance on April 10, 2011

So, I finally have time to do a little bit of blogging, so I’m reacting, in a way, to something that happened a month ago.  This is in response to all the new conversations about heaven and hell.  But I’m not going to talk so much about that, but the nature of believe in general.

I don’t think many people, even conservative Christians, want to believe in hell, at least, most people.  I don’t want to.  I think there are more vindictive Christians who are happy at the thought of sinners suffering at the hands of an angry God; I don’t personally see myself as one of them.  I don’t want anyone to suffer.  I wish universalism was true in the sense that I don’t want people to suffer; I don’t want it to be true in the sense that I have to trust God and believe that He knows what is best.

Sometimes this not wanting to believe in hell affects theology.  The idea of hell is so horrible that we change what we believe about God and eternity, or we reject Him all together.

But I think we all, to some extent, minimize or reinterpret what God said to reflect our cultural values, or we simply see things through our cultural lenses.

Sometimes that means not believing in a hell, or the devil, or certain commands Jesus said. For me, probably the hardest thing to interpret is Jesus’ command to turn the other cheek.   I’ve always interpreted this to mean to not seek revenge, but not an indictment on self-defense.  And it is to be used in the individual sense, not the national sense (war, etc…).  But am I softening what this verse is really asking?  These are the types of questions I have to ask myself.

I’ve always been hard on liberal theologians because I feel that they reshape the Bible to fit their cultural perspective (ironically blaming the “wrong” things on the Bible on the cultural perspectives of those writing it).  But do I do the same?

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Interesting blog entry on theories of salvation, heaven, and hell

Posted by Chance on April 10, 2011

This blog delineates between universalism, inclusivism, ultimate reconciliation, and exclusivism.   The main thing I took away is that not everyone who believes that “everyone eventually gets into heaven” is necessarily a universalist.  I’m not saying I agree with those views or even that they are reasonable, but I’ve never really been aware of the “ultimate reconciliation” view.  I’ve actually heard of the “inclusivism view” in response to previous posts, but never spelled out like this.

An interesting read.  Based on what I’ve read, I believe in the exclusivist view.  I’m not that well read on the theories of hell, and I don’t know exactly what that will be like.

Posted in Christianity | Leave a Comment »