Not "Fifty Shades" or "Magic Mike"...But the "More" We Were Created For!

(Sunday 07.08.12)
I really wasn't going to post about "the book" (Fifty Shades of Grey) or "the movie" (Magic Mike).  There has been much said recently about both, including quite a bit by people I felt were saying it much better than I could.  This morning, however, when I found myself headed into multiple paragraphs in a comment on a link on a friend's Facebook wall, I realized that I apparently was going to post after all. 

My friend Tauna (whose blog you really need to check out if you haven't already!) posted the link to Joshua Harris's blog post on her Facebook wall last night.  I had already read both his post and the post he referenced by Melissa Jenna (as well as posts by a few other bloggers), but as I read the comments this morning, I was stunned all over again by the reactions.  

One of the best posts I've read on "the book" is this post by Dannah Gresh on the True Woman site.   One of the commenters on the Josh Harris post mentioned the backlash in the comments on the Dannah Gresh post.  I had not read the comments, but I was shocked as I began to read this morning.  Not shocked at comments by those who don't claim the name of Christ...those I would understand defending such things...but shocked at comments by people who do claim a relationship with Christ and yet defend this book.  

This was my comment on Tauna's link this morning...

What I cannot understand is how there can be ANY controversy about this book or this movie among those who profess to be Christians. What a heartbreaking example of Satan's powers of deception. So many people have no idea the "slippery slope" of porn and how devastatingly dangerous it can become very quickly...regardless of the gender of the one who partakes. I had read the True Woman post referenced in the comments of the Josh Harris post earlier this week, but hadn't read the comments. Wow. I am absolutely floored....although I shouldn't be. This is the power of the enemy and I am convinced that porn...in all it's stages and variations...is one of his strongest weapons in this age. *Sigh* I think I've pulled my soapbox out and hopped on...I had said that I wasn't going to blog on this, because there are already so many good blog posts out there on this topic, but I'm afraid I feel one coming on...because I am flooded with thoughts on this. One I have already shared, though, is this, " I want to be so caught up in the "more" that God created me for that I don't have time for books or movies like these to even be on my radar."

(Monday 07.09.12)

I had lots of thoughts on the book, the movie, and the posts/comments about them when I started this post early yesterday.  I've struggled with saying what I want and need to say all day.  There are many specific, random issues I have with the book, the movie, and those who are defending them.  For instance, I've seen several people comment that men as well as women should read the book, because supposedly, through the main character (who uses pain, dominance, and bondage in his relationships with women), men can learn how to truly love and romance their wives.  

As more than one pastor of mine has said, there is a good Greek word for that...HOGWASH!! 

Men are not to follow the example of the hero in an erotic novel to know how to love their wives...they are to follow the example of Christ in the way that He loves His bride, the Church. 

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her,  that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the Word,  so that He might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.  In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.  For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church,  because we are members of His body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”  This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.  However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. Ephesians 5:25-33

There are other specific issues I could address, but as I've prayed over this post the last two days, I've taught a Sunday School lesson and heard two sermons that really summed it all up.  (Interestingly, the two sermons were by different guest preachers yesterday in the absence of our pastor.  Both sermons tied in perfectly with the youth Sunday School lesson yesterday morning, and with this post.)

The Bible says that lust is sin.  The Bible says that sex outside of marriage is sin.  That's the starting point for this next part of the post.   For those who don't believe the Bible is the true, inerrant, holy Word of God...well, I'm glad to have you reading, and hope you'll stay and read some more, and I'd love to chat with you via the comments or email about that.  However, this particular post really isn't for you.  Because until a person realizes the depth of their sin against the holy and righteous Creator of the universe, repents of that sin, and accepts the gift of salvation by grace through faith in Christ Jesus...the rest really doesn't matter much.  If you haven't taken that step, I'd love to chat with you about it!

But my focus in this post is Christians...those who claim to have been convicted of sin, turned to God in repentance, and accepted that gift of eternal life...those who claim the name of Christ.  

For those who truly are Christ-followers, the Holy Spirit lives inside of us, and Jesus Christ has become the Lord of our lives.  Our Sunday School lesson yesterday was on Romans 7:20-8:9...Victory over sin and death through the Holy Spirit.  Paul says:

Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.  So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.  For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being,  but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members.  Wretched man that I am!  Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.  For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh,  in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.  

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.  For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.  For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot.  Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.  (Romans 7:20-8:9)

The girls and I discussed that there is a war going on, as Paul says in these verses, in every Christian...a war between our new self and our old sin nature.  But...Jesus Christ has already won the war through His death and resurrection, and the Holy Spirit helps us to live in that victory. 

But how do we live in that victory?  The key, according to this lesson, is our mind-set...our way of thinking, developed by what we make the focus of our lives.  As these verses say, "those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit."

If we set our minds on things of the flesh, our flesh will control us.  If we set our minds on things of the Spirit, the Spirit controls us.  If we are truly Christians, by relationship, and not only by name, we are to have our hearts set on the things of God, not on things of this world.  The more we feed our flesh, the less sensitive we are going to be to the prompting and conviction of the Holy Spirit.  This gives Satan greater opportunity to deceive us...to make things that are sin look beautiful and appealing.  That is what he has been doing since the Garden of Eden...making things that God calls evil look good.  That deception is obvious in the discussion in Christian circles about this book and this movie. 

I shared this story with the girls yesterday, not for the first time.  Many years ago, when I was in college, Gilbert and Susan Baker were my Sunday School teachers.  There are many things that have stuck with me all these years from my time in their class, but one of the biggest was about gray areas.  Gilbert quoted 1 John 1:5...God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.  Gray, he pointed out, is white with a bit of black added...light with a bit of darkness.  But "in Him is no darkness at all."  So...if it is gray...it is not of God.  We are to "walk in the light, as He is in the light" (1 John 1:7)  And if we back up a verse there, He says that "If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and yet walk in darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth." 

After that Sunday School lesson, I went into not one, but two, sermons that tied in perfectly. I love it when God does that!  The first was taken from the book of Judges and was on the importance of the King (Jesus) being on the throne of our hearts...in other words, the importance of His Lordship in our lives...and the catastrophic results of sin when we do not allow Him that Lordship.  

The second sermon was taken from John 4.  Bro. Gary quoted Walter Chantry, author of Today's Gospel, Authentic or Synthetic, saying, "Only a small portion of those who 'make decisions' evidence the grace of God in a transformed life," and then said, "We've stopped telling people that their sin offends a Holy God."  "We've got to get back to offending people," he pointed out, saying that if the Gospel doesn't step on our toes, something is wrong. 

Two other things that stuck out from Bro. Gary's sermon last night, with this blog post in the back of my mind: 

*Anything that is offensive to God should be offensive to us.

*People who are saved are going to thirst after the things of God.  
Based on those truths: 

1. Sexual immorality is offensive to God; therefore, it should be offensive to us

It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life.     1 Thessalonians 4:3-7 

But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matthew 5:28 (That applies in the reverse as well.)

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness,which is idolatry.  On account of these the wrath of God is coming. Colossians 3:5-6

2. If we are saved, we are going to thirst after the things of God.  

Another blogger posting on this subject said, "We were made for so much more!"  I commented on her post, " I want to be so caught up in the "more" that God created me for (and I want the same for my children) that I don't have time for books/movies like these to even be on my radar. "  I want to be seeking after Him with all my heart!  I want to be so full of His best for me that everything else fades into complete obscurity.  

The other thing that really struck me yesterday in relation to this post was a song we sang in the morning worship service.   This song by Mark Altrogge so perfectly declares the holiness, glory, beauty, majesty, and righteousness of our God.   How can we even think of filling our minds with the likes of Fifty Shades or Magic Mike in the light of His love and mercy and grace?

You are beautiful beyond description
Too marvelous for words
Too wonderful for comprehension
Like nothing ever seen or heard 
Who can grasp Your infinite wisdom?
Who can fathom the depth of Your love?
You are beautiful beyond description
Majesty, enthroned above

And I stand, I stand in awe of You
I stand, I stand in awe of You 
Holy God, to whom all praise is due
I stand in awe of You

You are beautiful beyond description
Yet God crushed You for my sin
In agony and deep affliction
Cut off that I might enter in
Who can grasp such tender compassion?
Who can fathom this mercy so free?
You are beautiful beyond description
Lamb of God who died for me


t marie said...

As usual, you spoke the words of my heart. Thank you for writing this, and having the courage of your convictions.

 Cha said...

Jennifer, I have been bumfuzzled (tried other words, but this one fits best) by women who have seen the movie and either think I'm silly for objecting, or they agree it's naughty and they shouldn't have seen it, but then go on to make a positive comment about it. What? I just don't get that. Thanks for sharing the truth.

Jennifer said...

Bumfuzzled is a good word, Charlene! It pretty much describes my thoughts when I was reading comments by professing Christians defending Shades of Grey. Makes my heart break on so many levels. :-(