Monthly Archives: November 2017

Let’s Talk About Sex

Yeah… “rape culture” exists.  I’m finally willing to admit it.

As person after person after person comes forward to accuse various politicians or Hollywood celebrities of different types of sexual misconduct, it’s clear:  there’s a problem in the culture.

George Takei may have groped a male model.

Richard Dreyfuss may have exposed himself to an actress.

Kevin Spacey may have touched an 18-year-old inappropriately.

This helpful New York Times article details 23 different men (omitting the women) who have been “accused of everything from inappropriate text messages to rape.”

So, if calling this problem “rape culture” gives us some common ground from which to build, then fine.  Let’s start there.

—–

Our country has a rape problem…but I don’t think that’s the root.  

It seems obvious to me that our real issue is with “Casual Sex Culture.”

There is very, very little difference between a fun and crazy memory of a one-night stand–and a night filled with regret because the other person didn’t pick up the “fun” part of the craziness.

I mean, imagine this:

An attractive, young protagonist goes to get a massage after a long day.  The hero is stressed and conflicted by something serious, and he wants to spend some time relaxing.  Luckily, the man doing his massage knows exactly how to take his mind off his troubles…

If this is a movie scene, we know where this is going, right?  Probably John Travolta has done a few scenes just like this, in front of the camera, for lots of money!

A few years ago, a massage therapist who claimed to specialize in “more than massage” said John Travolta was one of his customers.   So…why are we surprised that Travolta is being accused by another masseur of “groping” and “exposing himself” and “making lewd suggestions?”

Why is Travolta in trouble this time, for trying to recreate what was perfectly acceptable in another case?

A wise young person will ask himself: when is it okay to live out movie fantasies, and when does it run the risk of becoming a night that I’ll regret?

The answer is:   You run that risk every time.   Every time.

Whenever you have some sort of sexual encounter with another person, you are taking a risk that you’ll be in a different frame of mind. (And, yes, that includes sexy text messages.)

You might be more eager…more enthusiastic…more interested than the person you’re propositioning.

And, if you’re even slightly more eager than the other person, it’s possible that a police officer or judge or jury might call what you did “rape.” 

The more people you include in your living fantasies, the more you’re putting your reputation into their hands.  Someday, it could be their word against yours.

Of course, this is the point where I have to clarify that not all cases of rape are complicated. Furthermore, not everybody who accuses someone of sexual misconduct is simply regretting what they consented to do at first.

I’m not saying that massage therapists should expect to have their butts touched by celebrities.  Obviously.

What I AM saying is that we can’t have “casual, judgment-free” sex AND fight rape culture at the same time. 

Sex can’t be both a recreational activity between ANY TWO ADULTS, and also something that can completely ruin your life if/when one of those adults remembers the details differently.

There’s nothing “casual” about that kind of relationship.

There’s nothing fun and judgment-free about government officials “investigating” what happened when you were naked.

It’s not fun and judgment-free when all of America debates whether you’ve crossed some arbitrary line between kinky and criminal.

“Well, they didn’t say no!”

“But they didn’t say ‘yes’ enthusiastically and repeatedly!”

“Yet…he didn’t touch the other person!”

“Right, but he was exposing his penis.”

“Okay, but he asked first!”

“No one in a ‘position of power’ should EVER ask a question like that…”

Stop.

Just stop.

It’s very simple.

Sex isn’t casual.

It’s serious and deeply emotional and life-changing and complicated, and that’s why it shouldn’t ever involved strangers or near-strangers.

If you’re not married to the person in question, just assume they DON’T want to see your genitalia.  And, even if they’re literally begging you to get naked, you still should walk away.

“So now, my sons, listen to me. Never stray from what I am about to say: Stay away from her! Don’t go near the door of her house! If you do, you will lose your honor…
Drink water from your own well—share your love only with your wife. Why spill the water of your springs in the streets having sex with just anyone?
You should reserve it for yourselves. Never share it with strangers.”

People shouldn’t be having conversations about whether an acquaintance wanted to see you naked or not.   

Sex is for married couples.  That’s it.

Until we stop trying to draw ridiculous, blurry lines between casual “hook-ups” and criminal “sexual misconduct,” our problems will only get worse… with more broken hearts sacrificed on the alter of physical gratification.

Advertisements

The Ten Commandments (Revised)

A few years ago, NBA star Kevin Durant testified that he struggled with guilt and a sense of condemnation, until Hillsong Pastor Carl Lentz explained to him that “We don’t live by the Ten Commandments anymore.”

I don’t want to unpack the reasons that’s partially true and also misleading right now.

Instead, I want to point out that all of us DO live by certain commandments today, whether we call them that or not.

Some members of the modern church have replaced the original Ten Commandments with a new set of Laws.

For example, when Carl Lentz appeared on The View, he explained that his church has a certain way of dealing with the more controversial (“political”) topics, when someone asks where they stand.

Hillsong has a method.

They have a strategy.

Lentz was asked: “Where do you stand on social issues that young people are particularly passionate about, like gay marriage? Abortion? Like, how do you address those types of things?”   And he responded: “I think our job is to help people. Not necessarily change how they think, but try to point them to what God has said…[what] we believe the Bible to say…” and he kept rambling from there.

Then Joy Behar tried to pin him down: “So it’s not a sin in your church to have an abortion?”

And he chose not to answer with a yes or no.

I think this was a difficult question for Lentz because, though he isn’t condemned by the Ten Commandments of the Old Testament, he and many others ARE strongly compelled by the Ten Commandments of Influencing People. 

Here are a few of the most important points of effective evangelism, from a sermon I found:

Law #1: Keep your mouth shut and your ears open

Law #2: Offer questions, not answers.
Remember this: Nobody cares how great you are until they understand how great you think they are.

Forget about trying to “sell” Jesus or you particular church, and focus instead on why your Seeker wants. To do this, you need to get fascinated with your Seeker; you need to ask questions (lots and lots of them) with no hidden agenda or ulterior motives.

Law #4: Speak to your prospect just as you speak to your family or friends

Law #10: Invite your prospect to take some kind of action

After having gone through the first eight steps, you should have established a mutual feeling of trust and rapport. You’re now ready to bridge the gap between your prospect’s needs and what it is you’re offering.  So invite them to church!

Bur remember: You don’t want the prospect to be reminded that he/she is dealing with a “Christian.” You’re not another “Christian.” You’re a human being offering a gift! And if you can get your prospect to understand that, you’re well on your way to becoming an outstanding Christian.


Okay, okay, it wasn’t really a sermon, per se. It came from Entrepreneur Magazine and I just changed a few words.

The closing line is my favorite.  The original article said:

“You’re not a salesperson, you’re a human being, offering a particular product or service. And if you can get others to understand [that you’re not a salesperson], you’re well on your way to becoming an outstanding salesperson.”

I laughed out loud because he doesn’t seem to realize THIS is why 85% of people have a negative view of salespeople…

Salesmen literally teach each other how to obscure and dance around their own motives. They encourage each other to PRETEND TO BE SOMETHING ELSE, in order to “win” clients.

Sound familiar?

Salesmen always insist they’re not selling. They say things like, “I just want to get to know you, with no ulterior motive” or “I want to find out what you need…”

…or really, whatever it takes to get their foot in the door.

I’m not saying that this “technique” won’t turn into sales! (Who am I to argue with the experts?) Clearly, people are interested in piling into amphitheaters, to hear that God loves them and that abortion is complicated.

But, when I look at the product, to see if I’m interested in buying, I’m turned off by churches filled to capacity with excited, brand-loyal fans of the guy on stage–when they can’t say, for sure, why “Thou Shall Not Murder” is still important.

So, I say to the salesman, “I’m not interested in that, thanks.”

And when I am, I’ll just get my fix for “someone who wants to get to know me” from pretty much any other salesman in the country.

(For the record, I’m pleased with how Lentz took a FIRM stance on racism and said “Some of that stuff needs to be called out, up front, out loud…”   Why such different tactics there? It looks to me like this is a game being played between cat-and-mouse. And he knows which issues are easier “sells” than others. You can see The View segment here.)

God Bless Criticism

Last week, I did something I didn’t want to do…

I reached out and attempted to build a bridge, even though it required stepping out of my comfort zone.  I picked up the phone and made a call, with the goal of smoothing things with someone who was willing to share that he was upset with me–but refused to specify how/why.

As I dialed, I could hear my little brother’s voice in my head: “Social media is where fights happen! You have to connect with people on a genuine level. Sit down face-to-face, or at least reach out by phone, to build real relationships…”

So I gave it an honest effort.  Rather than hashing out the issue in comments on Facebook (even though that’s where the disagreement started), I asked the angry person whether he was open to a phone conversation instead.

11.3.17 God Told Him to Shut Up (and he didn't listen)

The blog post in question is this one: God Bless Divorce.

I asked whether it’s wise for a pastor to brag about how many people are attending his services–even under the guise of bragging about God?  It’s especially complicated when that pastor suggests his divorce has something to do with God’s favor, and that the full offering plates (somehow) make the Devil look foolish.

My question was–and still is–how can we be sure God is the one orchestrating the senior minister’s divorce into more baptisms?… How does that work, exactly?

For the record, I censored the name of the pastor and the name of the church in the first blog post. But I’m not doing that now.

Now that I’ve tried a handful of times to open the doors of communication with Ryan privately (and failed), my dad and I talked about the details on the podcast.

Click here to listen.

Summarizing points:

 

 

 

#1.   I always much prefer an honest, angry email or message rather than a passive-aggressive note that you’re “praying for me,” followed by sticking your fingers in your ears.

#2.   Anyone who knows me, or who gives me the chance to explain, knows I welcome criticism about anything I’ve written, even from people I’ve never met.   I don’t put random stipulations on people (like “you need to have been in my youth group more recently than ten years ago,” for example.)

#3.  I feel bad for any Christian who doesn’t allow him/herself to have the blessing of being judged.  Many pastors of large churches are surrounded by layers of staff to protect them from unwanted criticism.  But, the rest of the Body has learned to do the exact, same thing by selectively blocking certain people on social media.  You only want to watch cat videos and hear a happy chorus of “I’m praying for you!” whenever you have a problem?

Easy! Just block everyone who makes you think.

Honestly, I understand how hard it is to hear criticism, especially if you’re already in the middle of an emotional crisis. (Listen to the podcast! Think of my toilet-paper story! I’ve had fragile moments, so I get it!)  🙂

But, I harp on the importance of being open to criticism, because finding the courage to do that (even when it’s hard) ultimately changed my life.  I’ve discovered it’s empowering!  It leads to mental toughness and a certain maturity that cannot come from hiding, and plugging our ears.

I teach my children how to appreciate criticism, even when the critic is wrong, because I can’t think of a more powerful gift I could give another person.

——-

In closing, Ryan was partially correct a few weeks ago when he said that making a statement (like the Nashville Statement) “hinders the possibility of relationship in many ways.”

But he and Perry Noble should stop blaming “the statement” and recognize which person is really at fault.  Blame the individuals who build walls to protect themselves from disagreement.

9.1.17 Unanswered Questions (#3)

Unfortunately–it’s not just the “unchurched” who build walls.  Christians do it with each other, too.

To me, it’s a red flag when Christians talk about inclusion and dialog and then turn around and block each other. 

Unfortunately, the only way we can discuss that is if we come out from behind the walls we’ve built and face the possibility of criticism with courage.