Big Love, Big Sex, and Big Pornography at NCT

Blake and Geoff at the post, Big Pornography, have me thinking about sex.  Since God gives to mankind [let me expand this to] the gifts of food, wine, and sex, I am wondering how many LDS truly think God partakes of these creaturely gifts He created.  If Christians are “partakers of the divine nature”, in reverse, does that mean that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit will partake of food, wine, and sex for eternity?

Oh and for Geoff, I had to pull up for him this article, “Food, Wine, and Sex” from my archives back in 2005. :)

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I am an Idahoan so I have a tendency to delve into hot potatoes. While meditating on the last couple verses of Romans 13, food, wine, and sex have been on my mind. Medieval monks would consider me lecherous; but I cannot deny that all three bring real pleasures, defending the fact that God is no “celestial Scrooge.” Unfortunately, the sinful nature in rebellious dissidence hates the Giver and venerates distortion, deformation, and malformation of heavenly gifts.

Food

Food is a divine gift in God’s provision. “He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth” (Ps. 104:14). And the food brings daily delight as I fancy all the different textures, shapes, flavors, and varieties abundant in His creation. Spending one year of my life as a full-time cook in a family restaurant, I did gain some appreciation for the culinary arts that encompass proper ingredients bursting with flavor and beautiful arrangements attracting the eye.

Graciously, God is blessing many parts of the earth with overwhelming quantity and then the ability to transform the quantity into mouth-watering quality. Surely, we ought to rejoice so much more than we do in the goodness of God. “O give thanks unto the LORD: for he is good” (Ps. 136:1). “He giveth meat in abundance” (Jb. 36:31). He “giveth food to all flesh” (Ps. 136:25). But this past month our newspapers shared with us something about America not too shocking: the nation is becoming fatter. Though Oregonians have not increased their percentage in chubbiness this past year and Colorado is ranked the lowest for people with “extra” body weight; overall, Americans are getting fat, especially Southerners. Too much pig-pickin’, I suppose.

“Fatness” in the Bible does carry the ideas of fertility, fruitfulness, and blessing but gluttony never does. Of course, whether you carry a heavy or light body weight, overeating can be a common temptation and experience. But rather than patting our engorged stomachs, lengthening our belts, and shrugging our shoulders with a smile, shouldn’t we address the epidemic sins associated with food?

First, do we feed the poor? It is wise to pray “feed me with food convenient for me” (Pr. 30:8). We ought not pattern our lives after the “certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day” (Lu. 16:19), but follow Job’s righteous example. “If I have withheld the poor from their desire, or have caused the eyes of the widow to fail; or have eaten my morsel myself alone, and the fatherless hath not eaten thereof . . .then let mine arm fall from my shoulder blade, and mine arm be broken from the bone” (Job 31:16-22).

Secondly, do our appetites cause us to compromise? “When thou sittest to eat with a rich ruler, consider diligently what is before thee: and put a knife to thy throat, if thou be given to appetite. Be not desirous of his dainties: for they are deceitful meat” Prov. 23:1-3). Beware Turkish delights. And besides, the Christian no longer lives his life according the dictates of a stomach like Esau.

Thirdly, do we excessively eat? Poverty is the end of the trail for a glutton (Prov. 23:21). Gluttony is swinish and crapulent at its very best. I wonder if other countries, like modern Israel, face such temptation, such allurement as America? They have dates and chick peas, but we have fast-food hamburgers erupting with over 1,000 calories. For those living in ancient, Bible times, I would have thought the temptation to sin with food would be less potent. But Scripture says otherwise. Israelites lusted for cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions, and garlic. In gathering manna, “angel’s food” (Ps. 78:25), they overdosed. While chewing quail, they gluttonized. Praise and trust should be the alternating beat of the heart when thinking of food. On the mount, Christ taught us, “Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?”

A couple weeks ago, we took a family vacation up to northern Idaho. In Moscow, Idaho, we stopped at a family-owned college joint called Lefties. “The Vandalizer” for $19.95 immediately caught my attention. The menu advertised it thus: “Two pounds of pain. The biggest burger in Idaho (we think). If you finish it, the fries, and a milkshake, you get the goodies: the meal is Free, you get a long-sleeve shirt saying you’re awesome, and your name goes on the wall of fame. Beware! Bigger guys than you have tried and failed. It’s not pretty. The milkshake is included in the price.” Honestly, I almost tried it. Lack of time in the day dissuaded me. Yet now thinking over the closing phrases of Romans 13, I am glad God preserved me from my vacation folly. Wouldn’t that have put me in the category of “riotous eaters of flesh” (Prov. 23:20)?

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think eating a greasy burger is sin in itself. The Guinness Book of World Records 2006 shares the achievements of Donald Gorske. On March 27, 2005, the man consumed his 20,500th McDonald’s Big Mac. Don’s world record is safe from my reach, but I admit to seasons of eating a daily burger. Is this wrong? Should there be legislation passed against the Big Mac? Should the Christian even enter a place like McDonalds? The creator of the movie, Super-Size Me, I am sure, would love to enter the discussion. Should we ban certain foods or is moderation the answer?

Humorously, I read the other day that it is illegal in the state of Idaho to give a box of candy weighing more than 50 pounds to someone else, so much for pulling out all the stops for your sweetheart. It is possible that someday we might be accused by the Pharisees of our day for being “gluttons”. For example, “What??!!!! You actually sat down with that wicked farmer and ate a baked potato! Do you realize how many carbs that has! I sentence you to copying down 100 times from the bestseller’s book, The South Beach Diet, ‘The potatoes have got to go – there’s no way to salvage them’ (p. 46), ‘The worst thing to do from the glycemic index perspective? Baked’ (p. 53), and for extra warning, ‘Stay away from rice or potatoes in ANY restaurant’ (p. 88).” Willfully, I am a guilty man.

This past Saturday, I took my kids to Spud Day in Shelley, Idaho. Along with thousands of others, I ate a free, baked potato—free taters for out of staters, free spuds for in state buds. I chuckled, watching teams of LDS missionaries tug-a-war over a large pit of mashed potatoes, filled by a cement truck. So really, are low carb diets the final answer to holy living? Are the words of Dr. Arthur Agatston on par with Scripture? Not in Southeastern Idaho.

Yes, you might one of these days be called a glutton for various things you eat—no matter, just be careful each day of not acting out the real one. Moderation is key. Walter Bauer’s Greek Lexicon states that the word, komos(first “o” is long), in Romans 13:13 associates with excessive feasting. This activity is never becoming for the Christian. Martin Luther thundered, “. . . the pious Fathers declared that whoever desires to serve God, must root out, above all, the vice of gluttony. That is a prevailing vice which causes much trouble. If this vice is not altogether extirpated, it makes the soul dull for divine things, even if it should not lead to unchastity and debauchery as among aged men. . . gluttony is an outstanding pit of Satan.” So at the next church potluck, eat to the enjoyment and glory of God.

Wine

Almost three and a half years ago, my wife and I were in Mainz, Germany. I strongly desired to take my wife to the Gutenberg Museum but found it closed for the day. So we decided to walk to the nearby Historical Hotel Schwan to spend the night. For supper, a massive pig calf, heaping piles of potatoes, and freshly made sauerkraut covered my plate. I wondered how not to offend my jovial German cook who stood before me beaming. Unlike the French or Italians, Germans are like most Americans who emphasize quantity above quality. Managing to make it through most of my dinner, the hostess then lead my wife and me to an immaculate 18th century furnished room on the third floor. The word Bacchus in fine script was emblazoned in a plaque on the front door. Imagine this, an independent Baptist preacher sleeping with his wife for a night in the room of Bacchus. It transported me back to the days of ancient Rome, Dionysus, the feisty Greek god of wine, and Bacchus, the convivial Roman god.

The topic of wine is hotly debated today because of its growing prevalence. Hugh Johnson’s Wine Companiontells the story, “Until the 1960s it was true to say that wine growing was an exotic activity that had only succeeded in gaining footholds on the fringes of North America . . . Wine drinking was an infrequent, low-profile, even faintly suspect activity. Prohibition had almost snuffed out the promise of healthy Americans, free of neurosis, freely accepting the happy legacy of Mediterranean culture. During the past forty years both the production and consumption of wine have vastly increased. In the world league of wine-producers the USA is now fifth, with California contributing 95% to its total, and regularly makes approximately a quarter as much wine as France or Italy, the two giants of the world. Imports have soared. The per capita consumption has quadrupled from a mere two and a half bottles to steady at 11 a year.”

The red wine flavors of Pinot Noirl, Cabernot Sauvignon, Merlot, Zinfandel, and many others are flowing in our country. The vineyards of Oregon, Washington State, and Idaho are right behind California dwarfing the production in the East. The Idaho vineyards along the Snake River are becoming well known for their Chardonnays. So questions among our youth arise. Is not wine a gift from God, “that maketh glad the heart of man” (Psalm 104:15)? Did not God provide wine for obedience (Prov. 3:9-10, Deut. 11:14) and remove wine for disobedience? Does not wine cheer God as well as the hearts of men (Judges 9:13)? I am thinking one of the biggest reasons why Christian adults drink wine today is simply because it tastes good. In thinking through the issues, I pulled out notes and photocopies from a file and books from the shelf on arguments from men in regards to drinking wine. Here is a sampling:

1. Bible Wines: On Those Laws of Fermentation and Wines of the Ancients by William Patton.

I find his strict, compartmentalized dichotomy on wine, shaky.

2. “Wine-Drinking in New Testament Times” by Robert Stein (1975)

Could this thoughtful argument be used more for the case of moderation than abstentionism? A lot of drinkers who like the high powered stuff get mad at the state of Utah for the lack of market on Sundays and for watering everything down when you can buy a beer. In the grocery and convenient stores of the Beehive state, you can’t find anything above the maximum alcohol level of 3.2%! For the college man, craving the booze of high distillation, searching for the Cana of Majorca, Utah is exasperating. And to think that some people only sip in tiny amounts or dilute even further the watery liquid of Utah—would this be getting closer to the drink of Bible times? Epicurean Americans visiting Utah say the Mormons are a bunch of “priggish Puritans.”

3. Wine in the Bible and the Church by G. I. Williamson (1976)

He provides detailed, reformed exposition, but I find him haughty. Where is love for the one struggling with his thirst for drink?

4. “Graham on Drink: Don’t” (1977)

Like Stein’s article, this is also in the magazine, Christianity Today.

5. “A Christian Perspective on Wine-Drinking” by Norman Geisler (1982)

I think Geisler is trying to corral shekar in Deuteronomy 14:26 into a very narrow, unnatural sense. Do people actually lust after medicine like food? My wife, an RN, would debate yes by saying some do have an insatiable craving for the side effects of pharmaceutical narcotics. But have the vast majority of God’s servants in church history under the leading of the Holy Spirit seen the meaning of shekar as Geisler does?

6. Wine, The Biblical Imperative: Total Abstinenceby Robert Teachout (1983)

Is this author in some sections just trying to dress up the shaky arguments of Patton?

7. Should Christians Drink? The Case for Total Abstinence by Peter Masters (1992)

I find Masters, pastor of the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London, as a sort of fundamentalist aberrant on this issue in the Reformed Baptist movement. I am ignorant. Did Spurgeon see it this way? Masters provides an interesting case for abstinence being developed in the New Testament. This preacher does a fine job of completely repudiating the lifestyle engaged by those in the English pub.

8. Wineby J. William Kanoy (1994)

9. “The Christian and Alcohol” by Chuck Phelps (2005)

And I am waiting on receiving a recent book on wine written by the president of the West Coast Baptist ministries in Lancaster, California. In looking at all the sophisticated exegesis or in some cases eisegesis on yayin, tirosh, shekar, ‘asis, oinos, syrups, and juice, I cannot say a saint who sips is in sin in all cases. But because of my religious upbringing, it is very difficult for me to see good pictures of godly drinking and revelry in our present age. One modern that comes close to providing for me a scene of joy in drink is C. S. Lewis. Picture with me this scene in Prince Caspian, far removed from bacchanalia: “The crowd and the dance round Aslan (for it had become a dance once more) grew so thick and rapid that Lucy was confused. She never saw where certain other people came from who were soon capering about among the trees. One was a youth, dressed only in fawn-skin, with vine-leaves wreathed in his curly hair. His face would have been almost too pretty for a boy’s, if it had not looked so extremely wild. You felt, as Edmund said when he saw him a few days later, ‘There’s a chap who might do anything—absolutely anything.’ He seemed to have a great many names—Bromious, Bassareus, and the Ram were three of them. There were a lot of girls with him, as wild as he. There was even, unexpectedly, someone on a donkey. And everybody was laughing: and everybody was shouting out, ‘Euan, euan, eu-oi-oi-oi.’ ‘Is it a Romp, Aslan?’ cried the youth. And apparently it was. But nearly everyone seemed to have a different idea as to what they were playing. . . What made it more complicated was that the man on the donkey, who was old and enormously fat, began calling out at once, ‘Refreshments! Time for refreshments,’ and falling on his donkey and being bundled on to it again by the others, while the donkey was under the impression that the whole thing was a circus and tried to give a display of walking on its hind legs. And all the time there were more and more vine leaves everywhere. And soon not only leaves but vines. They were climbing up everything. . . The donkey was a mass of them. His tail was completely entangled and something dark was nodding between his ears. Lucy looked again and saw it was a bunch of grapes. After that it was more grapes—overhead and underfoot and all around. ‘Refreshments! Refreshments,’ roared the old man. Everyone began eating, and whatever hothouses your people may have, you have never tasted such grapes. Really good grapes, firm and tight on the outside, but bursting into cool sweetness when you put them into your mouth, were one of the things the girls had never had quite enough of before. Here, there were more than anyone could possibly want, and no table-manners at all. One saw sticky and stained fingers everywhere, and, though mouths were full, the laughter never ceased nor the yodeling cries of Eaun, euan, eu-oi-oi-oi-oi, till all of a sudden everyone felt at the same moment that the game (whatever it was), and the feast, ought to be over, and everyone flopped down breathless on the ground and turned their faces to Aslan to hear what he would say next. At that moment the sun was just rising and Lucy remembered something and whispered to Susan, ‘I say, Su, I know who they are.’ ‘Who?’ ‘The boy with the wild face is Bacchus and the old one on the donkey is Silenus. Don’t you remember Mr. Tumnus telling us about them long ago?’ ‘Yes, of course. But I say, Lu—‘ ‘What?’ ‘I wouldn’t have felt safe with Bacchus and all his wild girls if we’d met them without Aslan.’ ‘I should think not,’said Lucy.

I see the joy and celebration of this scene. Bacchus serves Aslan! But I echo Susan’s fears. Scripture over and over provides us pointed warning about strong drink. “Bacchus and all his wild girls” without Aslan become New Orleans’ Mardi Gras revelers. To drink wine without God is wretched idolatry. The Christian can never become a devotee of Bacchus, not even limited to a moderate extent. Drinking, not controlled by the Spirit, has been devastating individuals and whole families throughout generations. Barrett Seaman in Time magazine (Aug. 29, 2005) warns how “bingeing” is the “new college sport.” Yet the early Pilgrims and Puritans simply did not tolerate it. I had read somewhere of Puritans, placing their own caught drunk, in the uncomfortable stocks of the public square. This is much worse than a drunk being confined to a Mormon birthday party. Punishment was quick and severe. And Paul is clear. The Christian walk is “not in rioting and drunkenness.” Brothers and sisters, we are no longer in the bars, living the lifestyle of dipsomaniacs.

Sex

Sex is a wonderful gift. The thinking of Tertullian, Ambrose, Athanasius, Jerome, Gregory of Nyssa on this issue was dead wrong. How miserable it must have been to live in the darkness of the Middle Ages. Thank God for the reformers and puritans who wrote fondly of marital sex and its mysterium magnum, breaking the shackles of Catholic prohibition and stodgy backwardness. Every husband ought to pursue his wife tenderly with the most ardent of unselfish affections. Puritan William Gouge writes that the Christian husband and wife should make love “with good will and delight, willingly, readily, and cheerfully.” Another Puritan stated that when two are wed, they “may joyfully give due benevolence one to the other; as two musical instruments rightly fitted do make a most pleasant and sweet harmony in well tuned consort.” Leland Ryken in his book, Wordly Saints: The Puritans As They Really Were, highlights this quote about the Puritan view of sex: “Wisest Solomon among his gravest Proverbs countenances a kind of ravishment . . . in the entertainment of wedded leisures: and in the Song of Songs . . . sings of a thousand raptures between those two lovely ones far on the higher side of carnal enjoyment. By these indulgences, and more which might be brought, we may imagine how indulgently God provided against man’s loneliness.” No, we cannot tolerate, and in fact we abhor and denounce all the public displays of eroticism and immodesty that seek to inflame our lusts. But in private, God invites the man and woman, sweetly locked in the marriage bond, to remove all their clothes and enjoy one another, each body for the other. Wisdom cries to us, “Rejoice with the wife of thy youth . . . let her breasts satisfy thee at all times: and be thou ravished always with her love.” Marriage is more than just a word; it is a sentence, a declaration, a grand adventure. Whisper the Song of Songs to your beloved. Enter the world of henna blossoms and towering cedars, of luscious fruits and sweet nectars, where love in the fragrant garden under the canopy is more intoxicating than the finest of wines. A Christian wife is a continual font of unexplored delight and guiltless joy. She is the creamy, homemade ice cream, handcrafted by an omnipotent God; and sex is the wild, huckleberry syrup dripping with pleasure.

There are many good books out there on the subject. There are older classics like Love Life for Every Married Couple(Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1980) by Ed Wheat or newer books like this one from a female perspective, Sex . . . According to God(Colorado Springs: Waterbrook Press, 2002) by Kay Arthur.

I encourage wives to stuff a little book by C. J. Mahaney in their husband’s sock drawer. Mahaney in Sex, Romance, and the Glory of God (Sovereign Grace Ministries, 2004) targets Christian men by saying, “In order for romances to deepen, you must touch the heart and mind of your wife before you touch her body.” And then he concludes in the book, “Gentlemen, let’s get busy touching our wives . . . for the glory of God.”

But sex has its proper place in the great scheme of beautiful living. Christian singles are not second-class citizens in the Kingdom of God. Neither should Christian spouses make sex an idol of the heart, a sure-fire way to destroy conjugal bliss and plunge the marriage lower than Hell’s Canyon in Idaho. G. K. Chesterton relates, “Sex is an instinct that produces an institution; and it is positive and not negative, noble and not base, creative and not destructive, because it produces this institution. That institution is the family; a small state or commonwealth which has hundreds of aspects, when it is once started, that are not sexual at all. It includes worship, justice, festivity, decoration, instruction, comradeship, repose. Sex is the gate of that house; and romantic and imaginative people naturally like looking through a gateway. But the house is very much larger than the gate. There are indeed a certain number of people who like to hang about the gate and never get any further.”

Our nation’s culture is becoming increasingly pornographic through the many different venues. Have you noticed how some religious moralists, unbelieving journalists and those in other types of media are trying to sound the alarm about pornography? In the past two years, LDS church authorities have stepped up a notch in addressing these matters. Magazine editor and contributor, Pamela Jones writes in her new book, Pornified: How Pornography Is Transforming Our Lives, Our Relationships, And Our Families (New York: Times Books, 2005), “Today, pornography is so seamlessly integrated into popular culture that embarrassment or surreptitiousness is no longer part of the equation . . . The pornification of American culture is not only reshaping entertainment, advertising, fashion, and popular culture, but it is fundamentally changing the lives of more Americans, in more ways, than ever before.”

Pamela (please don’t read your way through all the lecherous stories in the middle of her book—I didn’t) reminds me of one of those sailors on the ship with Jonah. She is fully awake to the storm and using to the best of her ability, what common sense and psychological insights she possesses, to battle the waves of depravity. But her words muster only a styrofoam defense against the hurricane winds that consume men across this country.

Even now, “strip shows are back in the French Quarter. Erotic dancers and strippers are entertaining crowds of police, firefighters, and military personnel instead of the usual audiences of drunken conventioneers and tourists in Bourbon Street’s Déjà club, which reopened this week in New Orleans” (USA Today, Sept. 22). It’s a mess—insecure women maneuvering their bodies as products to be taken by the wimpy, cheap consumerism of strange men, who gawk and take but never truly enjoy. But the ones asleep like Jonah are Christian men. “According to Henry Rogers, a corporate chaplain who studies pornography, between 40 and 70 percent of evangelical Christian men say they struggle with pornography” (Beau Black, “Evangelical Churches Target Porn Addiction,” Orlando Sentinel, Feb. 21, 2004). Solomon had “seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines.” But Christian men in 2005, browse through the internet with the almost endless supply of woman and girls of different nationalities and ages, indulge in the millions of different pictures, and engage in self-pleasure.

What is the answer? “It is high time to awake out of sleep!”

Conclusion

When Christian individuals, who make up families and churches, look forward to how at the end of the day or week, they are going to pursue their own sinful desires in food, drink, and sex without the Lord Jesus Christ, mark it down, their lives will be filled and torn apart with “strife and envying.” In counseling, we should exhort the putting on the armour of God (Eph. 6). We should also admonish each other to put on the new man (Eph. 4, Col. 3). You may find shelves of books, walls of pamphlets, and many conferences on biblical counseling which discuss both of these responsibilities. But the greatest emphasis should be given to the climax at the end of Romans 13. “Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ.” This Christian formula outshines all others, demanding our full attention. Mark Minnick once preached, “Transformation is nothing less than gazing upon the glories of God and as you yield to the vision, the Holy Spirit Himself does a miraculous work of bringing those attributes into your own life. Putting on the Lord Jesus Christ is splendor itself.” And no matter how much you have abused food, wine, or sex; you may experience this miraculous transformation.

At age 16, Augustine lived a lifestyle of immorality that would make most parents cringe in horror. But later in life, Romans 13:13-14 become the glorious bolt of light that changed his life forever. God is the source of all pleasure, and the best is yet to come. “And in this mountain shall the LORD of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined. And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the vail that is spread over the nations. He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the Lord hath spoken it” (Is. 25:6-8).

Thinking of heart issues.

45 comments

  1. I think it’s worth pointing out, Todd, that not all Latter-day Saints believe in a Heavenly Mother. We’ve been discussing this over at LDS & Evangelical Conversations. I haven’t read Blake’s books or heard from Blake on this, but Paul Owen stated that Blake doesn’t believe in a HM (see Aaron’s first comment there). So… no HM definitely equals God doesn’t have physical sex.

    There are also Mormons who don’t believe in sex in heaven, period; they assume marriage in heaven will involve something better than sex. Wish I could say my husband was one of them…

  2. Jack: well, if your husband is right, you’re….eternally busy….if your husband is wrong, and has a tough time accepting that…..then maybe separate residences…..heavenly place at the lake or in the mountains…..??? My wife is probably already working on HER contingency plan :-)

    To your post: if you have 20 mormons in a room, you’ve got 20 diff. theologies (granted, the situation is about the same with ev.’s, maybe moreso)

  3. While Mormonism allows for unbelief or disbelief in Heavenly Mother, the general thrust of the religion tradition suggests, encourages, and leads one to believe in Heavenly Mother. I would argue that it also does the same for the sexual component of the afterlife for gods and goddesses.

    If that’s the case, it’s all the more worth addressing, even if it isn’t binding doctrine.

    But not even belief in the Book of Mormon is binding doctrine in the strictest Mormon sense.

  4. In other words, officiality and the institutional tolerance of alternative views within the religion are almost entirely irrelevant.

  5. Todd: I was ‘ruminating ‘ in general, commenting in my stream of consciousness that I wallow in mid-afternoon. But, now that you asked, ev’s are across the board with alcohol, although prohibition is certainly the popular position (for now). I’d say drinking moderately is making big inroads (to which I’d say : hooray….but then I had 10oz. of Guinneas stout about 2 hrs ago…..so there ya go). I appreciate your list, sometime when my reading agenda hits a lull, I’d like to skim some of those.

    More uniformity in the sexual arena, although you will hear a wide variety of views on DATING and what that means, exactly.

    Food is largely ignored, although with America facing obesity in pandemic proportions, this is (thankfully) starting to change. Still, MANY of the moralists that would freak out at a half glass of blush wine have no problem doing a 1500 calorie lunch, washed down by 4 diet Cokes. Painting with a broad brush, I know…..but hey, they’re really big people!!!

    In general, ev’s tend to ‘scatter” theologically, I’d like to think that as a group that we tend to think BIBLICALLY, but there are other forces at work under our tent as well.

    You seem to have given a lot of thought to the Christian’s legitimate thirst for pleasure. A closet Piper-onian hedonist ??

    May every GOD ordained pleasure be yours in abudance
    GERMIT

  6. Bridget: Let me clarify a bit. I don’t reject the belief in a heavenly mother. I just don’t affirm it. We don’t have any revelation to ground such a belief . . . and a poem by Eliza R. Snow just isn’t enough for me to see as a valid basis of doctrine or belief. So I remain firmly agnostic but open about such a belief.

    I have the same response to each of the three Epicurean delights that you discuss. The resurrected Jesus ate. I see no reason for exalted folk not to eat; but it clearly isn’t necessary to sustain exalted life either. I doubt that too much wine would impair a resurrected being either, so maybe the strictures that apply here won’t be relevant in the hereafter.

    On the other hand, if there is no sex, well then, I’m with your husband. How could it be heaven without sex? Perhaps it could be – I just cannot imagine it. The intimacies I know with my wife are too beautiful and fulfilling, too communicating of love and tenderness and vulnerability for me to imagine that we won’t still find it to be a great expression of our exclusive-type love for a spouse. That said, I have to imagine that intercourse is not necessary for God to create. However, if he chooses to do it that way like he did for us in this life, I certainly have no objection and cheer on his efforts.

  7. Todd, you might be interested in these:

    “Sex Among the Gods. Sex, which is indispensable on this earth for the perpetuation of the human race, is an eternal quality which has its equivalent everywhere. It is indestructible. The relationship between men and women is eternal and must continue eternally. In accordance with Gospel philosophy there are males and females in heaven. Since we have a Father, who is our God, we must also have a mother, who possesses the attributes of Godhood. This simply carries onward the logic of things earthly, and conforms with the doctrine that whatever is on this earth is simply a representation of spiritual conditions of deeper meaning than we can here fathom” (John A. Widtsoe, Rational Theology, 1915, p.64).

    “Eternity of Sex. It has already been said that sex is an eternal principle. The equivalent of sex, dimly understood by man, has always existed and will continue forever. Since sex, then, represents an eternal condition, the begetting of children is coincidentally an eternal necessity. We were begotten into the spirit world by God the Father, and have been born into the world which we now possess” (John A. Widtsoe, Rational Theology, 1915, p.146).

  8. Mormons need not either affirm or deny such things as “Celestial sex” or the status of God’s wife (or wives). As Blake points out, there’s just not much information on these subjects.

    But I would hope at least, as a threshold matter, we Mormons would stop freaking apologizing for them. Why be embarrassed about the possibilities that Mormon thought opens up? Some of them are actually pretty dang cool, and I think many Evangelical hang-ups about Mormon beliefs say more about the small-mindedness of our Evangelical neighbors than they do about the praisworthiness of Mormonism.

  9. Blake ~ Thank you for clarifying. The subject of sex in heaven came up over at LDS & Evangelical on our epic “Jesus Was A Polygamist?” thread and our dear, blunt Kullervo put it like this:

    I think the whole “Mormon heaven is best because I get to have teh eternal s3XXX0|2z” is pretty stupid.

    To me, it’s the perfect example of everything that makes Mormonism obviously something made up by a bunch of frontier lay ministers and quasi-educated “common sense” folksy believers.

    The sex drive is pretty much entirely biological. Yeah, orgasms are great, but you really can’t imagine a state of being that could be so sublime that bodily pleasures would seem just not worth bothering with?

    That’s kind of how I feel about the prospect of sex in heaven. I’m not trying to insult your beliefs, but the notion always struck me as a little pedestrian. I’m not opposed to the idea of sex with my husband in the next life, I just expect heaven to be better than sex.

    All that said, I dislike it when people call so much attention to whether or not Mormons believe in sex in heaven or whether or not God the Father has a sex life with Mrs. Goddess. That’s about as relevant to me as someone asking me if I think Jesus had bowel movements. That’s certainly the logical extension of teaching that Jesus was “fully man,” but it’s an argument from shock value because people don’t normally think of deity like that.

    On Heavenly Mother, I think belief in HM is the obvious logical extension of LDS teachings on gender roles, but I find the church’s ambiguity on the issue unsatisfying. Seems like Mormonism is another of many religions that just isn’t sure what it wants to do with women.

  10. Whisper the Song of Songs to your beloved. Enter the world of henna blossoms and towering cedars, of luscious fruits and sweet nectars, where love in the fragrant garden under the canopy is more intoxicating than the finest of wines.

    Forget the hereafter, if I could get sex this romantic in the here and now, I’d be more than satisfied. :D

  11. Jack: I just expect heaven to be better than sex.

    very well said, and elegant as well

    Seth: reread the Widtoe quotes from AARON, does it sound like he is offering possibilities ? Maybe that’s what LDS do with his, and many other leader’s writings ( I realize Mr.W’s stuff is not official doctrine) but how annoying (his approach and tone, not your theology). If more of your Salt lake suits framed things in the realm of “possibility” , then I’d give your slant more credibility.

    It’s foolish, and dangerous, to be filling out the details where the NT is silent.

    GERmIT

  12. “If more of your Salt lake suits framed things in the realm of “possibility” , then I’d give your slant more credibility.”

    Would it help if they didn’t wear “suits” too?

  13. Blake: I’d say “Thou shalt not kill” would have covered it for someone from a Jewish worldview. I don’t think it would have occurred to them to parse when a pre-born human “became” a human, although I think there were different schools of thot as to when the soul entered the body….still, I don’t think they would have taken liberties in killing them.

    I’m guessing that it’s hard to “love your neighbor as yourself” when you are pulling him or her apart or boiling him or her with saline solution. Unless you have a boundless masochism at work.

    The law of love outlined in the NT makes any thought of abortion (other than to save the physical life of Mom) absurd.

    Good question.
    GERMIT

    PS: I’m fully aware that MANY christians see this differently….just as they might see church attendance as optional or euthanasia as acceptable.

  14. Germit: I’d say that the better part of honesty is to admit that the NT doesn’t address whether a human life is involved, when a fetus becomes a “human” life, whether a fetus could be a neighbor, whether the life of the mother should take precedence etc.

    I say these things because it is clear that the NT doesn’t address crucial issues. It doesn’t address cloning or even provide a consistent answer to whether divorce is acceptable. That is why the NT just ain’t enough. We need prophets.

  15. Germit: I also say this because you said this: “t’s foolish, and dangerous, to be filling out the details where the NT is silent.”

    It is rather clear to me that your judgment is best seen as self-judgment that you would do well to abide.

  16. Blake, even if we were having a discussion on abortion and the general position of the LDS institution, a Mormon could just easily respond, “Well that’s not official doctrine”, appealing to the own particular favorite way of determining what is and is not official doctrine.

    What good are prophets if…

  17. Blake: If the bible really were that deficient, I’d concede, but as it is….

    PS 139:13-16
    for Thou didst form my inward parts; Thou didst weave me in my mother’s womb.
    I will give thanks to THEE , for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are THY works, and my soul knows it very well.
    My frame was not hidden from THEE, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth.
    THINE eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in THY book they were all written, the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them.

    you can interpret this to mean pre-mortal existence if you want, but I think this is all the new christians needed to know that abortion was evil. The NT did not need a novel repetition of something they already clearly understood, and had for many hundreds of years.

    We can go back and forth with this exegesis and that, but it’s clear you don’t trust the Bible all that much, in comparison to your other sources of revelation. I’m obviously on the other side on this.

    you wrote:

    I say these things because it is clear that the NT doesn’t address crucial issues

    I think that’s kind of sad for someone who claims that the OT and NT are “scriptures”. I could never give something that level of importance that’s so , allegedly, flawed and incomplete.

    The need for a prophet deserves its own thread(s).

    Peace be to all who LOVE GOD and HIS precious WORD.
    GERMIT

  18. All I do is read the prophets in light of what other prophets have said, the strength of their arguments, and in light of scripture.

    I find them all quite useful in this respect.

  19. Seth: I can respect that point of view; my point is , substitute the word “pastor” for “prophet” , and I do exactly the same thing. Sooooo, I just don’t see where Blake, or you, or any LDS has a “leg up” unless of course there is some level of revelation, today, that GOD reserves for the PROPHET. I categorically reject that notion, even some ev. preachers that wax long and loud about THEIR on target interpretation make me a little nervous.

    Thank GOD for imported beer….:-) :-)

    GERmIT

    please, GOD, hurry up Friday eve., we need a weekend down here…….

  20. PS to Seth: maybe if they could go over the top and either do a “Blues Brothers” suit, or maybe a Don Johnson Miami Vice suit……dont’ know if I could handle a pastel Barry manilow suit…….definitely NOT a Liberace suit, not even in Vegas….but then maybe I just have some issues to work out….

    I go to a church where the head guy used to wear Hawaian print shirts….on stage in front of thousands. he was like Jimmy Buffet and James the apostle all rolled in one.

  21. Tonight, our church family is listening to a prophet.

    And God tells this prophet:

    No feasting.

    No drinking.

    No wife.

    He is a radical prophet for the times.

  22. You’re right Germit, your desperate proof-texting is not only less than convincing, it is rather clearly imposing on the text issues it just doesn’t address. Wresting scripture is serious business . . . and since I take it seriously I seek to treat scripture with far more respect than you show.

  23. Blake: maybe I’ve delved too far into your motives, always a risky business. I cannot commend your view of the NT, but as to your “seriousness” about anything, well, who am to know ?? We agree to disagree that Ps. 139 and abortion do not belong in the same discussion. I guess that’s an interpretive difference between us.

    In the same vein, I think the Bible has much to say about CD piracy, ponsi schemes, and daytime soap operas. Those aren’t specifically mentioned in the Bible, or the BofM, for that matter.

    You have more “inspired books”, you have a self-appointed prophet, but beyond those differences, BOTH of us have to deal with how to apply ancient wisdom to modern problems. We’re not that far apart in what we’re asked to do.

    Enjoy this fine spring day.
    GERmIT

    PS: not that it matters, but there are, of course , many other verses that back up the ideas present in PS 139; but if you think I proof texted with those (some of the clearest, I would say) then you probably wouldn’t care for the others.

  24. No Germit, I don’t believe in any “self-appointed prophet.” I accept God’s prophet. God is still talking and you refuse to listen. God honors that kind of refusal and apostasy because he honors all of our choices.

    What the scriptures have to say about honesty and integrity and things of that sort can be applied generally to problems. Whether cloning or abortion are contrary to God’s word is simply not an issue until God’s word addresses the issue.

    As you may imagine I’ve scoured the biblical texts for what it might have to say about such issues. I’ve concluded that it is dishonest to pretend that it addresses such issues with anything more than a general reverence for life — mixed in with reprehensible disregard for human life and mass slaughter at God’s supposed command.

  25. A agree with Blake.

    You read the Bible, and all you get is a prohibition on killing adults that is full of provisos and conditions when you read the rest of the book.

    It advocates a general reverence for life, and after that – zip.

    It gives precious little guidance on whether… say… the emotional well-being of a mother takes precedence over the life of a fetus. It says nothing on whether that clump of indistinguishable cells qualifies as a person, or whether terminating it qualifies as “killing.” It doesn’t say whether to terminate a fetus with a defect that will not allow it to live past birth. It doesn’t say what to do when you have twin fetuses and one of them can be saved only by aborting the other. It doesn’t say whether birth control is “like unto” murder at all. It doesn’t say whether the “morning after” pill is reprehensible, or just a matter of good life management.

    Yeah, I know, plenty of Evangelicals think they’ve got this all dialed-in and that their preconceived notions are fully demanded by the Bible.

    Well, they aren’t. The Bible can go either way on an awful lot of things. We don’t always see that when we have an agenda to push. But there it is.

  26. One of the first Latter-day Saints I had extensive interaction with on the Internet was a man who lived in a small town in Utah and had been excommunicated. You might say he was a fundamentalist Mormon. He believed in the Adam-God doctrine and he believed that polygamy ought to be practiced because it was essential for exaltation—wonder where he got those notions—but he was not a practicing polygamist, nor was he trying to teach other Mormons the A-G doctrine. According to him, he’d run afoul of the leadership in his town and been excommunicated for merely believing those things. Yes, I know there’s no way of verifying if that’s true, but that’s what he said.

    He was also passionately opposed to abortion, all abortion, and believed the church’s current stance of allowing it in the cases of rape, incest, health/life of the mother in danger was wrong. He cited prophets and apostles who had condemned it in the past. He talked about teenage girls he had known in his small Utah town who had gotten a few doctors to say their health was in danger (honestly, when does pregnancy not put your health in danger?) so that their bishops would okay an abortion. He had quite the testimony of how wrong the LDS church is in its current policies on abortion.

    I could tell you his name and the name of the town, but around the time I got in to BYU, the local leadership in his town changed hands and they offered him the chance to be re-baptized, and he took it.

    I agree with Seth and Blake, the Bible does not specifically explain what should be done in every scenario that might crop up. It has its limits. And I would respond that’s why we didn’t just get the Bible, we got the gift of the Holy Spirit so that we could have access to God directly and discern these things for ourselves.

    I would also agree with Aaron that modern-day revelation really isn’t that different. It has nailed down a few things that Christians could not hitherto agree on, like mode of baptism, but it leaves many other things open. When I point out that LDS leaders have taught things which the church now considers false, people tell me that’s why the church also grants the gift of the Holy Ghost, so that people can discern the words of the prophets and leaders themselves through personal revelation.

    That sounds awfully familiar.

  27. Bridget: I see you comparing apples and oranges. The church leaders have given specific advice about abortion: it is a decision that is best left to the woman and her husband (if she has one) and her bishop (if she has one) in prayerful decision, but with a default that unless there is a compelling reason, abortion is immoral. The Bible simply doesn’t address it.

    Now if you’re going to be inspired by the HS, then what is the difference between this inspiration and the way that men of old were moved upon when they wrote scriptures? What makes the Bible so unique — especially where there is no indication that the NT, for example, was ever considered to be scripture by the earliest Christian community. They accepted revelations to Peter to modify practices under the Law of Moses and to retain others. How do you decide what to keep from the OT and what to reject? Is there some canon within your canon that answers this question?

  28. Blake ~ The church leaders have given “specific advice” about a lot of things which people tell me these days are “just their opinion.” Why is their advice on abortion special?

    You can tell me I’m comparing apples and oranges all you want, but your apples seem to taste an awful lot like my oranges. The fact is that the two groups somehow managed to arrive at similar conclusions on abortion. You’ll find that I have a hard time understanding the significance of our supposed theological and systematic differences when they always seem to produce such similar results.

    To answer your question, I don’t believe there is a difference between the inspiration from the Holy Spirit that men have access to now and that which the biblical writers had access to. I accept the Bible as scripture due to a combination of evidence for the text, success with personal application and direct confirmation from God. If you’re wondering why I don’t accept anything besides the Bible as Scripture, you might say I agree with what Craig Blomberg wrote in How Wide the Divide, that the canon is open in principle but closed in practice. I’m open to the possibility of more scripture from God; I simply haven’t seen it for myself.

  29. Blake and anyone awake on Thurs aft:

    Jack wrote:
    The church leaders have given “specific advice” about a lot of things which people tell me these days are “just their opinion.” Why is their advice on abortion special?

    wish I had a quarter for every time I’ve heard this (and I mean from LDS sources), then I’d have my own bail out…so much for the modern prophet cleaning things up, and you’re SURE, Blake, that I’m at a disadvantage ?? My liability sure is sneaky….

    Blake asked:
    How do you decide what to keep from the OT and what to reject? Is there some canon within your canon that answers this question?

    the new covenant (and the testament to that new covenant) explains the old, through the present day inspiration of the Holy Spirit (which JACK very ably explained: side note…..get thee, JACK, to school, and then some kind of teaching ministry…post haste..) Obviously this scenario will not work for LDS who see what we have as the canon to be damaged goods and incomplete.

    Nice work JACK
    GERmIT

  30. Blake: the general references to reverence for life are only difficult to apply to abortion if you aren’t quite sure you are dealing with a person in embryo. I think the Bible answers that question with Ps. 139 and others. Even if someone were NOT convinced by Ps.139, their confusion about what the bible says only remains if it’s a ‘blob’ or “mass of tissue”. Anyone who has known (by revelation??) that this is indeed a person has all they need .

    Not that long ago we, nationally, went through this same process with the blacks….many maintaining that 1)they aren’t people 2)we’re not sure that they are as human as whites And therefore….x, y, and z. As soon as the “blacks became people”, a lot of the confusion lifted. I thing the situations are similar, and the bible has been very helpful in both (you might disagree about the slavery problem and the bible, but the truth has been misused for centuries in all kinds of causes…..maybe you could think of a few :-) :-)

    blessings this fine Thurs aft.
    GERMIT

  31. germit ~ side note…..get thee, JACK, to school, and then some kind of teaching ministry…post haste

    Heh. I’m flying to Chicago on Sunday to visit TEDS. I am wondering what the history faculty thinks of my fixation with Mormonism and LDS church history; I’m told they already know about my interfaith marriage and are okay with it. Here’s hoping they like me in person.

  32. Jack: WOW: Deja Vu…..and I don’t mean the Crosby,Stills, Nash, and Young kind (tho I don’t mind them either)

    Hope you have a great trip and my prayers go with you: be picky (NOT fearful) with your grad school choice. I found TRINITY folks pretty easy to work with, but I do admit that I heard a few more neg. “testimonies” about TEDS than the undergrad school where I went. On a more positive note, one of my favorite pastors got his MDiv at TEDS and was very affirmed there. My nickel’s worth of blah-blah….

    I would say this: the academic rep of TRINITY is very solid, and it holds a strong position in the ev. ecucational and professional universe. I’d be curious to know what you think of the place, or any others you visit. Several of our pastors on staff are Fuller grads.

    Bannockburn, just east of campus has (or had) a very good coffee shop in the small strip mall along Half-day Rd.

    Peace and outrageous success to you and yours
    GERMIT

  33. Germit: I just don’t think you’re going to get how anachronistic and dishonest your approach to the text is. If you want to believe that the writer of the Psalm was addressing anything like abortion, be my guest and while you’re at it, apply your wild imagination to how this text supports the Trinity.

    Jack: Here’s the difference. Your approach to abortion is not based on the Bible . . . full stop. Please tell us about your inspiration so that we an write it down to give evangelicals some scriptural guidance to the issue of abortion.

  34. Blake: “I just don’t think you’re going to get….” Probably not this week or next, so that’s a pretty sure thing. As to the “dishonest” thing, well, all men are liars, or so the BOOK reads….. funny it doesn’t mention WOMEN….somewhere , I can feel JACK smirking…..

    As to “anachronistic in my approach”, there are many who have loved GOD”s word all the back to that mythical great apostasy, so I’ll take that as somewhat of a compliment.

    Thanking God for HIS thoughts, made known to the likes of GERMIT

  35. Blake: I find myself comparing our respective approaches as I drink my Sarbuck’s Verona this morning (yeah, I splurged, it’s Friday….) GOD , knowing our great need, gives us a wonderful book , the wisdom of which can be applied throughout the ages (with the help of the HELPER, and the body of believers to moderate our interpretations)

    and you would add the revelation and insight given by the PROPHET. with your appoach, not only is the Bible largely deficient, really so are your other three books….unless JS had a chapter on insider trading and cybercrime that I haven’t caught up with yet. My point being that ALL these books seem to get more and more porous when I consider your approach….. I suppose that’s where the need for a modern prophet comes in….

    My coffee tastes great, and the OLD BOOK just looks better and better.

    may the ridiculous grace of GOD find you this wonderful FRI
    GERMIT

  36. Personally, I have always found John A Widtsoe’s revelations and inspiration to be so brilliant, so logical and revelatory, Aaron.
    Thanks for sharing that with us.

    I think that what happens to us in this life is, we become ‘bogged down’ by the ‘practicalities’ of life, and the so-called, “realities”, that fallen earth life foists upon us that we forget that God is ‘the Greatest Romantic” of them all, and that He never loses sight of any goal – that He lives the 13th Article of Faith Himself, and ever holds belief in us – He has hopes for our dreams and promises of life and blessings far beyond our wildest dreams and possibilities here. “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor hath entered into the heart of man so great a things as the Lord has for those that love Him and confess His hand in all things”.
    The fact that we sometimes think of ‘sex’ as “it”, or in any negative tone drags us away from the spirit of, for instance, that 13th Article.

    When we are young, we have dreams and aspirations. They include dreams of wonderful romantic love and of being at one with some wonderful member of the opposite sex. Most of us look very much forward to these things.
    However, when the opportunity for these things arrives, in our weakness to fulfill, we lose the vision. In the practical life and some of its apparent “harshness”, our dreams seem to erode.
    Our appreciation for what ‘could be’ is eroded and lost amongst the apparent reality of what actually seems to happen, or to be ‘the case’, and we lose faith in our dream.

    I am a Believer in the sacred nature of sex [as we call it in this life] in Heaven. I think God sees it in quite a different light from how it appears to us. Isn’t it such a wonderful blessing to literally, be “ONE” with our spouse?
    Further, we have to be recognicent of the fact that the creation of human life is the greatest of all creations.
    Accordingly, God has given us opportunity to enjoy life’s greatest pleasure in making life.
    As it is an eternal principle that the greatest work we will ever do is within the home and in building the family and creating life, I am absolutely certain that it will continue to be a principle of the eternities, in afterlife, that our greatest joy and pleasure will still come in the production of eternal offspring – together with our blessed, precious and most wonderful, and perfect, spouses – for by then, we will become both – physically and spiritually – perfect.

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