Thursday, August 18, 2011

Johnny Be Good

I'm sure, the mayor of Philadelphia, Michael Nutter means well by giving good information, a nice speech, and helpful advice to the "rebels without a cause"-but this message is not for the church on Sunday morning. The worship service is for the preaching of the gospel, the administration of the sacraments and offering praise and worship to Christ -not parenting tidbits for bad kids in the neighborhood. We already have enough modern-day church preachers giving life advise instead of the gospel of Christ; so the last thing we need is a politician on Sunday mornings doing the same thing. Worship service is for the weekly gathering of the saints exalting Christ and sharing His word, not for public officials spewing out scoldings to a culture that is depraved and infested with un-ruly children. Instead of using the church, this lecture should be done on the steps in front of city hall and not in the pulpit in front of the communion table.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Pornography: The Elephant in the Room of the Church

Pornography is a cancer that is moving through the church at alarming rates and the church is just beginning to address the issue but it has been with us for some time. 29% of born again adults in the U.S. feel it is morally acceptable to view movies with explicit sexual behavior (The Barna Group). 57% of pastors say that addiction to pornography is the most sexually damaging issue to their congregation (Christians and Sex Leadership Journal Survey, March 2005). The lure of pornography however is more than just an addiction that is doing harm to Christians- instead it should be seen as something much more dangerous, it should be seen as sin. Churches are building ministries to deal with people addicted to porn. They are also trying to develop therapeutic programs for members struggling with this addiction. Then how do churches deal with pornography effectively? I believe that the church must first address this as an issue of sin and not just a concept of addictions or bad behavior. I realize that viewing pornography becomes addicting and damaging to the lives of those trapped into the behavior of viewing it ( and I too have seen videos as well as the internet...I haven't always been a pastor.) And although I don't watch porn and I'm not addicted to it ( by the grace of God), I think that there is a better way of approaching the issue. By dealing with root of the problem and by first addressing it's core which is the sin problem, we can get a clearer grasp of the struggle. The great puritan writer and theologian John Owens, a few hundred years ago, wrote a fascinating book that I have read from time to time called "The Mortification of Sin". It is a book that all Christians should read again and again. In this book Owens addresses the struggle of sin in human beings systematically. He does this like a scientist in a laboratory using as his tool of choice: scripture. For Owen, while the body is important, it is but the instrument for the real problem which lie in man's internal nature. Using classic faculty-psychology categories of the mind, the will, and the affections, Owen consistently attempts to present a holistic perspective of the human person, and this informs his view of sin and sanctification in the believer. When churches and ministries aim at healing the symptom of watching pornography, they miss the real issue which lies at the root of the symptom: sin. When sin is dealt with, which is at the heart of the problem, the fruit of watching pornography is killed. Therefore if a tree is known by its fruit let's kill the root of the tree, sin. This works a lot better than picking off the fruit of the tree which is watching pornography.