More notes on a remarkable book

So I finally finished reading “Why Can’t We Be Friends?” As I said in a previous post, I would let you know if I found anything goofy. Good news! Nothing goofy here. Just solid theology and an outstanding exhortation to all of us. Aimee does an admirable work here with human nature, the nature of salvation and sanctification, the holy catholic church and the communion of the saints. As I have said before, I don’t write book reviews, since I have completely forgotten how since my college days, but please go get this book and read through it. You won’t regret it.

I do have a few thoughts on the reaction to the book – in the myriad of blogs, tweets and comments, which I found quite distressing.

First, I am distressed and how many professing Christians seem to be completely obsessed by sex. It makes me sad that we can’t discuss friendship between men and women without “sex getting in the way”. We are obsessed with it. It occupies all of our thoughts and every waking moment. Aimee’s warning is proven by the aftermath. The modern evangelical is totally obsessed with sex. It’s sad to me.

Second, I am distressed by how many pastors confess that they cannot be trusted alone with a woman. Oh, they don’t put it exactly like that. They say, “I never text a woman. That’s how adultery starts.”

Or “I will never be alone with a woman, that’s how adultery starts.”

Or “I would never pick up a woman to give her a ride. That’s how adultery starts.”

So I would like to translate this for the layman. “I, a minister of the gospel, am so out of control and untrustworthy, that you cannot leave your wife or your daughters alone in my vicinity. I couldn’t even give them a ride to the hospital, because it is possible that I would be overcome with lust and attack them in the car.”

Really?

Why, then, are these guys ministers? So, you in the congregation, do yourself a favor. Whenever you hear an ordained minister confess that he has no self-control, and that he is so obsessed with sex that he cannot be trusted giving your daughter a ride to the hospital, or sending a text to your sister or wife, then please remove him from office. Why is he a shepherd to begin with?

And third, we really need to understand love and hate.

I was thinking this through as I was reading Aimee’s book. The Heidelberg Catechism says that we are “prone by nature to hate God and our neighbor.” God created us to love him with our whole heart, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. But when man fell, he became obsessed with himself. He became a fool, and said in his heart “There is no God. I am, and there is none like me. (Psalm 14:1; Isaiah 47:7-8).

When we are redeemed from our sin and misery by Christ, we are taken out of ourselves and our obsessing with ourselves, and our thoughts are directed outwards, first to God and then to our neighbor. This is love. When our affections are placed upon someone other than ourselves.

John wrote,

9 He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.
10 He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.
11 But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes. (1 Jn. 2:9-11 KJV)

So here is what I am thinking. When we are born again, when we are walking in the light, we become far less obsessed about ourselves and our “purity” and far more interested in the duties we owe to God and the duties we owe to our neighbor.

This is really what concerns me about current evangelical ethics. We have become so self-absorbed and narcissistic that when we see a woman broken down on the side of the road, our first thought is “How will this affect my purity?”

Do you see the problem? It seems that this is hatred. It seems that this is the problem that Jesus had with the Pharisees. He said,

23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. (Matt. 23:23 KJV)

The tithe, which is the duty we owe to God, was to be paid. But not as an excuse to act in hatred or indifference towards our neighbors in need. We might use as an excuse that we are very concerned with our purity, because it is the duty we owe to God, but we must remember what John wrote – this is a false dichotomy.

20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? (1 Jn. 4:20 KJV)

As I see it, this is the problem with current evangelical ethics. We are so concerned with our own personal purity, that we turn our backs on those in need. So we have become exactly like the Priest or Levite who wouldn’t cross the road to help a man in need because of their obsession with purity.

We would empty our diaconal account to make sure someone is not cremated, while abused women and children starve for lack of resources. We pass by a woman in need because we fear that we might start the neighbors talking – or worse, that we might lose control and attack her, apparently….

I don’t get it. We obsess over whether Rahab sinned by telling a lie, even though the alternative would have been the death of the spies. We say to God,

‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed.
25 ‘And I was afraid, and went away and hid your talent in the ground; see, you have what is yours.’ (Matt. 25:24-25 NAS)

But when you say that, be prepared for the answer from the Master:

‘You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow, and gather where I scattered no seed.
27 ‘Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest.
28 ‘Therefore take away the talent from him, and give it to the one who has the ten talents.’
(Matt. 25:26-28 NAS)

Honestly, it is easier to obsess over your own personal “purity” than it is to reach out to a neighbor in love. It is easier to hide the talent in the earth. You can’t get hurt that way. You won’t catch adultery that way. You can keep everything the way that it is and not be bothered.

But you can’t love that way. The true motivation isn’t purity, it is laziness and wickedness. Jesus calls it what it is.

This is the real problem. I’m glad that Aimee wrote about it.

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20 Comments

Filed under Men and women, Pastoral ministry

20 responses to “More notes on a remarkable book

  1. anonymous

    Another great post, Pastor. And since you linked it, is there really anything to be said against cremation? There are many poor people and since God can raise us in buried format, He can raise us from our cremated ashes. He is, after all, God.

    And it may be a special thing for men, but if purity was there in the first place, no man would be thinking anything but to help some woman on the side of a road, or in need of a ride, or encouragement. It’s not exposure to women in this coed world, but rather the man’s heart.

    Just like power — I loathe the ‘power corrupts’ mentality as power only facilitates what is already there in the person. If character is lacking, power will be abused. If character is there, power will be well used in service to good.

  2. Thank you pastor, I really appreciate your sermons and insights. These were kind of my thoughts on the whole transgender bathroom issue and having men who consider their gender fluid in a public women’s washroom with my small daughter – just that anyone that obsessed with sex is not a safe person to have around a child, whether that is someone in the mall or a priest, or a pastor or an elder or a counsellor, people have all manner of designations – but that does not explain what kind of heart each has …. you hit the nail square on the head: the self interest, obsession with one’s public image is also a revealer of the heart!
    It doesn’t matter who they claim to be, their works show them to be someone with an unregenerate heart. It really relates to the whole sex abuse in the church as well which always boils down to the heart and what comes out of a man reveals the heart. In that case Aimee’s book is about the heart and about discernment and that has piqued my interest! God’s lines do not flow along denominational lines but where the spirit is and is not. We pray for him to give us his spirit so that we can have discernment to protect our little ones and teach them also to discern and stay away from evil! Thank you for teaching us how to seek for this hidden treasure and wisdom for life!
    44 “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. – Matthew 13:44

    • anonymous

      You are correct to fight for your safety and privacy, Starlight, along with your daughter’s safety and privacy. Recognizing sex as genitals is not ‘hate speech’ as trans-identified men would have you think. Most of the trans-identified men (with their supposed lady-feelings) are sex-obsessed, there is a term for it in psychiatry (but I forget what it is) and they find it erotic to dress as woman and imagine themselves as women, a whole sexual turn-on, all by themselves.

      And the law is not going to protect women and children because sexual predators (men) have already used the law to self-identify as ‘women’ and then demand their way into protected, female only spaces, like women’s locker rooms, women’s homeless shelters, women’s showers, women’s bathrooms.

      In prisons, the men who self-identify as ‘women’, are largely convicted sex offenders and because they self-identify as women, these sex offender men are then housed in the women’s prisons. Wolves in the hen house.

      I don’t know if this is covered in Aimee’s book as I don’t have the means to order her book, but when you commented on the transgender bathroom issue, I felt compelled to speak in support of you, your very rightful concerns, and against the whole ‘self-identification’ nonsense. There have been attacks on women, rapes and other sexual assaults, in women-only homeless shelters, etc. because the law only requires a man to ‘self-identify’ as a woman and he’s in, no questions asked, no nothing.

      It is not ‘hate speech’ or ‘transphobia’ to want to be given privacy and security in bathrooms, sleeping quarters, showers and locker rooms. Even Catelyn Jenner does not claim to be a woman. There is no such thing as a lady brain or a man brain. There just isn’t.

      And just as a quick fun fact, there have been a few women who have protested the infringement on women-only spaces by “self-identifying” as “men” on Fridays and going to men-only swimming times, etc. and the men have detested it, found such to be alarming, and sought to boot the women from the space, so it’s not unreasonable for women to react the same. But since it’s women’s privacy and safety that suffers under entitled, hateful, trans-activists (men who self-identify as women), nobody seems to protest it much. Reject the “transphobic” labels. Women have a right to be safe, entitled to privacy, and to be away from men in vulnerable spaces like bathrooms, changing rooms, bedrooms, etc.

  3. Bunkababy

    Ummm about the transgender thing. There is a big difference between being transgender and transvestite.
    Most trans men to women are so filled with female hormones they are not at all interested in you or your children.
    They cannot do what a man would do. So a real trans man to woman is hardly a threat. And most transvestites who dress as men use the mens bathroom. They know they are not women, and dont want to be women.

    Most facilities where I live have gender neutral space to use the facilities….
    I have a gay friend who knows many trans and transvestites and been involved in the LGBTQ community for over 40 years. I peppered him with any question I could think of, and he willingly answered them all.

    I personally see far more of a threat against children from hidden closeted perverts/pedophiles than any trans man. I saw a trans man just yesterday at the grocery store. I first thought good for her she’s got balls, no pun intended.

    And my second thought was how devastatingly sad, that she feels so messed up inside that this adult 50+ year old trans woman feels so out of her skin with who she is. Confusion is not of God, and they either have been given over to their sin because they refuse to acknowledge God in their unrighteousness or they never knew him.
    They should invoke compassion not fear. He ones to fear are the ones you know. The ones who you think you can trust.

    If I got out of a stall and a trans lady was there, the best thing would be to acknowledge them as humans first, not recoil in fear.

    I just had to get that off my chest.

    • I agree. Stats are that our children are safer in the transgender bathrooms than in the church. Sad, but true. From what I understand, transgender has nothing to do with sex.

  4. Amen, Sam! Thank you so much for calling out those pastors and for speaking plainly about what they are really saying, that we can’t even be trusted to give your wife or daughter a ride to the hospital. Many of those negative tweets and blogs from pastors have actually triggered me. It is just all wrong headed.

    I actually spent a few years working as a shower aid, so bathing men after surgery. It doesn’t get more intimate than that, or more professional and good humored. So I can actually say, I’ve had lots of unsupervised conversations with men who were actually stark naked and we all managed quite well. Nobody ever “fell” into adultery.

    My personal thoughts about the church in general is that we are sexually repressed in a very unhealthy way. Repression leads to obsession, and often exploitation. If all sex is sin, then all sin soon becomes sexual.

    • anonymous

      Your second paragraph, Insanitybytes22, is telling. I wonder, though, if men can be trusted to fill such jobs as yours, since I cannot imagine men performing that work and not violating women. Maybe my view is offensive to some, but it’s based on experience.

      Just like nobody “falls” into raping, yet sadly this was argued in one case where the man (rapist) claimed he had been naked, aroused, and fallen into his victim.

      The whole unsupervised rides thing makes me think about Andy Savage and his being the youth pastor of a 16 year old girl back when he was 22 or so. He used the guise of giving her a ride home to get her alone on some back road somewhere and forced her to perform oral sex on him. I still think about Jules and how her life is going for her, how her relationship with God has been affected, and if she has any involvement with a church any more.

      It wasn’t the whole unsupervised ride that was the problem. It was the perp involved and his use of his role in a young girl’s life, his abuse of his authority, etc. and perverted heart that was the problem. People do stupid things when they’re young but he was way older, had a whole plan worked out, got her isolated, and preyed on her. Then he acted all contrite and implored his victim not to tell as he’d be negatively affected by it. It’s amazing that Jules even said anything.

      My comment is kind of all over the place, so please feel free not to bother posting, Pastor Powell, in case it’s not acceptable.

      • “I wonder, though, if men can be trusted to fill such jobs as yours, since I cannot imagine men performing that work and not violating women.”

        We have always had men working as doctors,paramedics, aides who do not violate women. What’s sad is that often just one abuser will taint our eyes and make us look at ALL men with fear, literally unable to even imagine men not violating women.

        It’s an old fashioned notion, but female modesty was actually not about triggering male lust at all, but rather respecting and honoring women’s privacy and dignity. We see this still when we work with the elderly, we are honoring her dignity, assuring her comfort, respecting her values. It has nothing to do with men and lust. That’s a concept that has gotten kind of lost in the modern world.

      • anonymous

        Yes and male doctors have been creeps to me, too, one going so far as to disgustingly fondle me under the contrived guise of ‘medical necessity’ while I froze and tried to pretend it wasn’t happening, too shocked, scared, and horrified to react otherwise — so it’s not just one abuser prompting the swearing off of all men. Most women I know haven’t been trigger happy and sworn off all men or come to see men with fear from one lone abuser but rather it is a series of abusers, in a variety of contexts.

        I hope everyone reading this blog has good experiences in life, because when one is targeted, abused, violated, victimized, she becomes that much more likely to be further harmed, victimized, violated, abused, as abusers can sniff out the vulnerability and/or make a point to target those known to be previously abused, victimized, violated.

        No more male anything for me. No way. Women can be predatory victimizing abusers, too, but the chances are higher for men to be preying on a vulnerable woman, dog piling and compounding trauma. Better safe than sorry, and thankfully we now have women doctors, etc. Some people are so thoroughly victimized, it becomes a life and death thing to weather further abuse.

      • I am so sorry. That’s horrible. No one should ever have to go through that.

  5. Bunkababy

    There was a recent study done on porn viewing habits. The Bible belt beat out every other area for highest views.
    Years and years ago the highest sexual abuse stats for Canada were in the Bibke belt areas of Canada. Manitoba being the highest area and the biggest area of Mennonite churches.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2801376/are-religious-people-likely-watch-porn-bible-belt-enjoys-adult-content-liberal-states-claims-study.html
    This study was in many news outlets not just the Daily mail.

  6. anonymous

    The way the laws are written, any predator can simply say that he self-identifies as a woman, and nobody can question him but must ‘recognize’ him as a woman, regardless if he is not in transition (taking any hormones, having surgeries done). I err on the side of women’s safety and the way I have experienced the transgender thing has been very negative, abrasive, aggressive, and hateful. I’m not a bigot. I think it takes a lot of guts to go against society’s definition of ‘normal’, so for the genuinely confused ones, the non-predatory ones, I don’t fear nor pity them. But those are the ones not barging into women-only spaces, demanding they be recognized as women, labeling anyone who messes up on their pronouns as being some hate speech, bigot.

    https://torontosun.com/2014/02/26/predator-who-claimed-to-be-transgender-declared-dangerous-offender/wcm/fc2c70f0-b1a1-41e2-85db-bec9d0012ce5

    Being labeled a “TERF” by trans activists and said to be a bigot doesn’t exactly inspire much other than fear in me as the ones I’ve encountered and read about are in-your-face, demanding, entitled, abusive and full of arrogance (male socialization obviously takes to them just fine). Who wants to be viciously labeled a bigot or a TERF? Not me.

    I have yet to read about or know of any trans-identified man (man who claims to be a woman) who acknowledges God. I am on the side of the marginalized as I know how vulnerable and oppressed the marginalized are but I have yet to see a transgender man (man claiming to be female) who isn’t domineering, self-assured, and ready for a fight. And also, make note who is being ordered to be accommodating — it’s the women, not the men. The trans-identified men (men who claim to be women) aren’t getting in men’s faces, labeling men as bigots and TERFs, claiming hate speech has been lobbed their way if pronouns aren’t used according to their demands, etc. It’s the women’s spaces being infringed on, the women’s rights being trampled.

    One example of the laws being messed up is that a woman in a women-only recovery house (sober house) was also the victim of men’s violence against women (I think she was abused and raped by at least one man, if not several, as so many of us women are) and rightfully, understandably, traumatized. A vulnerable space in life, coming and living at a sober house. And she didn’t feel safe being required to sleep in the same bedroom with a man who claimed to be a woman but had all his man parts, talked about how hot some of the women residents were, talked about his ex-wife, etc. and had a sexually harassing demeanor. The woman called a legal aid line and asked what her rights are and in using the wrong pronoun, by calling him a man and referring to him as a he, she was potentially in trouble for supposed discrimination, the heck with if she didn’t feel safe sleeping within feet of this guy, let alone changing clothes.

    I don’t like witch hunts and the numbers are small. I get that. But the laws need to change where women’s rights are being trampled for fear of some hateful trans-activist suing for supposed discrimination.

    And small numbers or not, if it was you being the woman who was next in line to be preyed upon by some sexual predator using the law to claim his way into your personal space, you’d want your small number to count for something.

    Most predators are the ones you know, the people already in your life and your children’s lives.

    But the laws are wrong. It is not hate speech or discrimination or bigotry to not want to be forced to sleep, shower, etc. within a few feet of a man who wields the law in his favor to gain access to vulnerable women.

    Would you want to be waking up, as a deaf, homeless woman, to being sexually assaulted by some man who claimed for 2-seconds to be a woman, are therefore was given full access to women’s shelters and spaces?

    Or what about your daughter being in the locker room in the following scenario where a man with obviously his man parts is getting naked and lounging about where your daughter is to change into her swimsuit for her swim lessons?

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/yes-we-should-protect-transgender-people-but-not-by-opening-restrooms-to-predators-who-pretend-to-be-transgender/2016/05/16/3a9713ce-1b76-11e6-b6e0-c53b7ef63b45_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.cf16b1a28e51

    Does your young daughter need to see male gentalia?
    https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/transgender-man-may-continue-using-locker-room-with-six-year-old-girls

    The law protects opportunist sexual predators and confused transgender men (men who claim to be women and are potentially transitioning) alike.

    • I agree with everything you have written. It is indeed a problem. My concern is that the transgender debate tends to lead conservatives off track. Pastors are molesting children, but if the fear can be shifted to the transgender, then the pressure comes off. My brief comments were really just intended to be a reminder of 1 Corinthians 5:9-12
      The biggest danger for our children is in the Sunday School rooms, youth programs, and nurseries in the churches.
      Statistically, a true transgender is not a danger to children. This doesn’t mean that he is without sin, or that he is not confused or even wrong. It is just that he is generally not a danger to children.
      That smarmy youth pastor who was ordained without any examination or qualifications, on the other hand? That is where the danger is statistically.
      That is my only point, and I won’t say anymore on it. I don’t want to get sidetracked.
      The transgender has a struggle with identity, not lust. It is a different thing.
      and yes, wolves can use that, just like they use everything else to gain access to prey. But we have to understand the problem in order to speak intelligibly.
      Thanks for your comment.
      I do truly agree with everything you have said.

      • anontmous

        Indeed, the biggest, most likely, danger for children and women are those who are in trusted positions — be it pastors at the church, Sunday school teachers, little league coaches, mom’s boyfriend, family members, friends of the family, neighbors, or people in the schools.

        I thought of the transgender bathroom debate as a ‘look over there’ distraction kind of issue until it wasn’t. But I am an outlier. It’s highly improbable for most everyone who is reading this blog.

        And when it comes to impropriety in the church, there are no words. I don’t know that a person can recover from being preyed upon by someone in the church. I had a bad experience, as an adult, with a pastor (not what people might think but I don’t want to go into details) and I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to attend a church service in person again. And a person is so blinded by the pastoral title, the priest robes, the whole thing being related to one’s church membership, and there is no greater shock, no greater horror, because it’s the church, the pastor, the church people.

        I’ll stop commenting now. I appreciate your expressed agreement as being told how you’re a bigot, etc. is hard to deal with when so vulnerable in so many other respects

  7. anonymous

    This may be slightly off-topic but here’s the latest CNN article showing that indeed church is not a safe place, even live on camera, at a funeral, with a pastor, being watched by millions:
    https://www.cnn.com/2018/09/03/opinions/ariana-grande-aretha-franklin-funeral-campoamor/index.html
    I watched her performance and he didn’t just mistakenly grab hold of her side and end up touching her breast, but rather he was grabby and she pulled away and he went and made fun of her name, and this is Aretha Franklin’s funeral service, being watched by millions.
    I loathe her super short dress for it being a funeral and all, but that has NOTHING to do with anything else. Just a comment of mine.
    And watch her reaction and what she did, she just tried to laugh it off, pretend all was well. That’s what so many women do.

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