The Tulip Driven Life Podcast

Friday, March 11, 2011

Robbie Grows Up (Part 1 of a short story)

Sandy’s wasn’t the kind of place you went to for ribs and beer. It’s the kind of place you went to for ribs, beer, and women. Jeff sat in the back of the club, taking in the well-proportioned young woman currently dancing for the fellas. She was Jeff’s favorite- the way she moved, her body, and he could have sworn she would look directly at him sometimes. He took her in from a distance, to get the full effect. You can’t admire these things too closely. They’re like works of art; they must be admired from all sorts of angles, but with beer instead of wine. Lots of beer, but not so much that you couldn’t remember what she looked like in the morning- you wanted to be able to recall her in your mind whenever you pleased.

That was how Jeff saw things at least. He admired the beauty with a slight grin on his face, then looked at his friend Robbie who was sitting across from him at the small round table. Robbie seemed to get a little uneasy when the topless girls came out; he was only 18 after all. Jeff, 21, was used to it by now, and was helping Robbie become a man.

“Jitters,” said Jeff to Robbie, “You can’t be acting like that when we’re sitting in the front and they’re so close you can reach out and grab them, if you ever got the nerve to do so.”

Robbie smiled nervously then quickly looked back to the girl on stage, who was finishing up. This went on for another hour or so, with Jeff and Robbie sitting there, taking everything in. Jeff was encouraging Robbie to loosen up, and thought that Robbie was getting more comfortable, so he decided it was time to go to the front.

“I... I can’t.” said Robbie.

“You can’t? Look man, what is wrong with you? Don’t you want to see them up close, where you don’t have to squint your eyes and so you can see all their nice, little, details? It’s great man, you’ll love it. Don’t be so uptight.”

Robbie looked like he was suddenly struck with a cramp in his stomach, but stood up anyways and said, “Ok.”

As they made their way to the front, Robbie became increasingly lightheaded and didn’t lock his eyes on any particular person or object. He tried to look confident, as if he knew what he was doing and like he had been to a strip club hundreds of times. He really wanted to see the girls up close, to take in their bodies and their seductions. He had viewed plenty of porn, but to really see it in the flesh- that was what he desired now.

Robbie was sweating from apprehension, but once he and Jeff finally made it to the front and were waiting a few minutes for the next girls to come out on the floor, he began to relax. It wasn’t so different after all. In his heart, with his mind, he had been in this exact spot hundreds, even thousands of times. It was just a fantasy becoming reality, and the realization of this filled Robbie with excitement.

“Dude, Jeff man, thank you so much for taking me tonight. You know I’ve been waiting for this moment for a really long time.”

“Yea, haven’t we all? Glad to see you’re finally getting excited. I was starting to wonder if you had any man parts or not.”

Just as Jeff was finishing, the girls came out. This was the grand finale, so they were all on stage, doing their thing to the whoops and whistles of the lusty young men.

Robbie could barely contain his pleasure. What inhibitions he had before were completely gone now. He took in all the girls unreservedly; it was more than he ever could have imagined, the pleasure it brought him. Soon he was whistling and yelling at the girls too, much to the delight of Jeff.

Indeed, Robbie was growing up.

After a few minutes it was all over. Robbie and Jeff had consumed plenty of beer, but they stayed in that zone where they could at least remember all that they saw. Jeff had taught Robbie well. As they stood up and started walking to exit the club, Robbie was all smiles, but suddenly his countenance darkened.

At first Jeff didn’t notice the change in Robbie because he was waving and talking to some other regulars that he knew. But then He saw Robbie, and it looked like he had seen a ghost.

“Rob man, what’s wrong now? A little queasy from all the beer?”

Robbie looked down at the floor as he walked as if he was too ashamed to look up, let alone respond. Jeff just shook his head and opened the door to leave. Robbie followed behind him, still looking down at the sidewalk. They turned the corner and were about to make their way to the parking lot and their car when Robbie bumped into someone- it was a girl, a good friend of his from the church he sometimes went to, and she was with a few of her friends.

“Melanie? Wha- what are you doing around here?”

Immediately guilt swelled up inside Robbie. It was like a dam he had forgotten about had just burst inside him. He knew that she knew exactly where he had been- there was no chance of lying his way out of it, and now it was time to face the consequences.

________ TO BE CONTINUED________  

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Can You Believe In Salvation By Grace And Believe God's Very Nature Requires Him To Save Everyone?

I don't think I can answer the question in my title off the top of my head, and I haven't thought about this a lot yet. But, I think this is a serious question we need to be asking and thinking about, especially in light of Rob Bell's new book, Love Wins.

The issue I am really trying to get at is this- if you believe that God's grace and love compels Him to not send anyone to hell forever, then is grace really grace anymore? Is grace undeserved if God by His very nature is required to save sinners from eternal torment that their sins demand? The answer I think is, obviously not. So when Rob Bell asks "Would a loving God really send billions of people to hell for eternity?" what I hear him saying is "If God is love, then God would not and cannot leave sinners in hell forever."

Note: After thinking more about Rob Bell's positions and reading some who have reviewed his new book, I doubt Rob Bell believes in penal substitutionary atonement. Bell does not seem to believe that God would pour out wrath on us at all, even though we are God-hating sinners. According to Bell it seems that hell isnt' something God sends us to, it is something that we create on our own, and therefore, Christ could not have died to save us from His Father's wrath. Clearly this leaves Bell outside of the faith and whatever he is teaching, he cannot be teaching the true gospel, which is ultimately our need to be saved from the justice and holiness of God because of our sinfulness.

Well if this is true (that God would not and cannot leave sinners in a hell-like state forever), then God is no longer saving us by grace, He is saving us by compulsion, by requirement. In other words, in some sense, we deserve to be saved, because God must save us if he is loving, according to Rob Bell. But grace by definition is never required, and God's love is never a requirement. So to say that God's love demands that He save us, Bell has just completely redefined the meaning of love itself.

What I am saying is that it sounds like Rob Bell is robbing the glory of the cross of Christ altogether. The gospel is a gospel of grace- but Rob Bell's gospel is a gospel of, basically, "God wouldn't send us to hell forever and leave us separated from Him, because He is loving, and a loving God by definition doesn't leave people in hell forever but redeems everyone eventually."

Suddenly the cross of Christ has lost its wonder, and quite frankly it has lost its very saving nature.

Bell's message seems to be "Don't worry, God is love, God's goodness demands that we be redeemed. Otherwise, God is not good. Therefore, it is a must that God saves us."

Yet if it is a must that God saves us, God is not saving us out of grace and mercy.

Conclusion: The reality of hell and the fact that God is obligated to send us their because of our wickedness and sinfulness is what makes the cross of Christ gracious, merciful, and truly loving. Rob Bell takes the love of God away, the true meaning of the cross away, and creates a God who acts not out of love, but out of obligation.

And if this is indeed what Rob Bell really means, then I say that the god of Rob Bell can go to hell, for my God, the one true God, is a God who saves sinners out of grace, love and mercy, not because He is required to, but because He wants to.

Part 1 Of A Video I Recorded Discussing The Issue Of Abortion

To My Former Fellow Students and Friends From Grace

I actually submitted this as an assignment for my Communications class, but I think what I said may be helpful for some of you who I knew from high school. I hope and pray that this will shed more light on why I say and do what I do and that I do care about each and every one of you in the love of Christ.

Perception, Self, and Other
I believe that many people perceive me as a pompous jerk, and I say that without any exaggeration. In fact, I know this is true because I have been told this on numerous occasions. Even though we live in an individualist culture, enculturation and traditions leave certain issues almost too American to question or challenge. I think this is where I run into trouble; I often talk about religion, the Bible, and my issues with many in the Church and what the Church is teaching.
It is not that I am an atheist, on the contrary I want to be a pastor and I am very conservative in my beliefs. You could even call me a fundamentalist, yet my critiques are often of fundamentalists. I believe that the American Christian culture has had a strong, legalistic, fundamental mentality and belief system for so long now that to challenge it is almost equivalent to challenging God Himself. It is what children believe because their parents believed it, and their parents believe it because their parents taught it to them. It is almost more of a tradition than it is a religion, yet to mention this very point is sure to evoke the wrath of many who take the name of Christ. It is, in some respects, a culturally sensitive issue- to question the way Americans view God is to commit an American cultural faux pas.
I went to the same Christian school from the time I was five until I graduated high school. They were affiliated and supported by a church, and this church and school is the perfect example of what I am talking about. There was not hardly any dialogue about other Christian positions, nor was there a strong defense of the school’s official theological position. In short, it was almost as if the school thought their position was the only position that existed, and anything else was not even worth considering because it was simply wrong.
Well, once I got to college I did realize there were other Christian positions. Other conservative, fundamental Christian beliefs, and these fundamental Christians actually addressed why they believe what they believe, and they did not just spat off about what they believe without defending why it was true. I quickly began to see that a particular fundamental Christian perspective known as Calvinism was both logically true and biblically true. At the same time, I realized that many of my friends from Christian school and the teachers there not only where non-Calvinists but were in many ways anti-Calvinistic. I decided something needed to be done about that, so I began blogging on Facebook about my new beliefs and why I felt the Christian school’s beliefs were wrong and dangerous.
As you might imagine, this did not go over very well. The stereotype of the people and church I was trying to address seemed to be that anyone who questions their beliefs and viewpoint of God and the Bible could not possibly have pure and loving motives for doing so. I was accused of being judgmental and divisive, which for them was automatically and always a sinful thing. On top of that, I was publicly disclosing not only private information about myself in order to help people see that I was not trying to take a holier-than-thou attitude, but I also disclosed information about one particular student whom I graduated with who was now the poster child at the school and church for being a sound Christian. In fact this person was going to be a youth pastor, and currently is one.
This did not have the intended effect. I told through a blog that I wrote on Facebook that this particular person who wanted to be a youth pastor was doing some things, and believing some things, that should raise question and caution over whether this person should be a youth pastor- or if he was even a Christian at all. I pointed out that the guy was leading Bible studies at one point and was agnostic at the same time. I also pointed out some conduct that was recurring in his life that he tried to cover up to save face and keep his Christian reputation. Knowing the person as well as I did, I concluded that this man was probably not a true believer, a Pharisee, and certainly should not be a pastor of a church.
The person I was talking about on Facebook, and other students from the Christian school I went to, as well as some of the administration became very upset with me. I believe they thought in part that I was experiencing the disinhibition effect because I was communicating all of this personal information online and they thought I would never talk or behave this way in person. Further, because you cannot as easily connote your intentions and expressions online, I believe this only convinced them more that my motives for doing what I was doing was sinful and mean-spirited.
In hindsight, I can honestly say that my deepest, strongest motivation for doing what I did was because I cared about the school and the guy I was exposing. At the same time, I was very angry because I began to see how wrong in many key areas the school was, and how hypocritical my friend who wanted to be a youth pastor was. At times, I let my anger affect my tone in a sinful manner, which caused those at the school and the person I was talking about to think I was just trying to be a self-righteous, divisive jerk. I do think that I was a victim of overattribution- although at times I got angry and expressed my anger in a negative way, I believe the majority of the time my anger was righteous and I spoke the truth in love. The students and administration could not see this however because of their culture and bias against me.
More recently I apologized both on Facebook and in person to my friend who wanted to be a youth pastor for the way I sometimes said things, although I made it abundantly clear that I was not apologizing for my position or my accusations. I have come to realize that the more I talk with students and the administration in person, the more they respect me and realize that I am not a pompous jerk but someone who is passionate about the truth of God and living as He commands us.
I feel that this response (speaking with people in person) has been effective and appropriate, helping both them and me. I think they can now see that although I am direct and blunt, I am polite and compassionate. We are both able to empathize with one another more easily, keeping an open mind and thus having more effective dialogue. While I still have many concerns and issues with the school and some of the students, and they with me, we have come a long way and I believe that we can both see that deep down we are most concerned about serving God and serving others, and effective face to face dialogue is a big reason why.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Ethics Essay On "Is Homosexuality Unnatural?"

QUESTION:  Is homosexuality unnatural?  is it perverse?  Is the only natural sex that which is potentially procreative?  Set out your position, drawing from Richard D. Mohr's article in comparison or contrast. 

I have to say that, overall I agree with many of Richard D. Mohr’s arguments. I think only on religious grounds, or on the arguments of teleology, can one show that homosexuality is unnatural. Mohr does a good job showing that many men and women throughout history have had homosexual desires and passions, even if it has been in the minority. So, one cannot really say that it is unnatural in the sense that it is something that people have not found appealing or desirable. Mohr points out that what most people believe in any given society do not determine right and wrong or morality. After all, Nazi society with its racism and mob rule were deemed as moral. As we all know, the United States enforced slavery, and many argued that blacks were less than human and did not deserve the same rights as whites.
Mohr demonstrates that just because culture may create a negative reaction or connotation to the idea of homosexuality, this does not show that homosexuality is unnatural or immoral. Examples are women breastfeeding in public or women not shaving. Though we may react negatively to this because our culture has deemed this unacceptable, in many other cultures this is the norm and to do differently would be deemed unnatural.
Mohr argues that the genitals have more than one purpose. While some say homosexuality is wrong simply because the genital organs of males and females are solely for procreation, the truth is that there is a unique pleasure, a sexual pleasure, that can only be experienced from the touching and stimulation of the sexual organs. Our body parts have many different functions, and homosexuality does not render the sexual organs inoperative of all their intended functions. After all, if there were not some kind of pleasure or happiness to be gained from homosexuality, one would not expect to find homosexuals.
Then there is natural law, or moral law, that every person is said to have. From this perspective, inanimate objects and plants are good because they follow natural laws by necessity, animals follow by their instincts, and humans follow by their wills. Mohr has doubts about whether or not there is such a thing as a natural or moral law, but he argues that even if there is, it is hard to ascertain which laws of nature apply to us. After all, there have been instances of homosexual behavior in animals, and throughout history we find examples of certain cultures where many people were homosexual or even required to be homosexual. For Mohr, natural law cannot prove or show that homosexuality is immoral or unnatural.
Next, Mohr argues that homosexuals may not be so by choice. He says this because, generally speaking, people do not choose to do something that will have detrimental effects on them. In other words, if someone says they will kill you if you walk on the left side of the rode, a person typically will not walk on the left side of the road. Yet, even though homosexuals are given less help from the government and are discriminated against in the military and by society at large, they still remain homosexual. If they could be different, they would, Mohr argues.
Finally, Mohr points out that in places in the United States where homosexuality has been more successful, nothing cataclysmic has happened there. The world has not ended; society has not fallen apart at all. Many homosexual couples love children and adopt, raising kids in a loving home and environment.
I disagree with Mohr on a few things. For instance, he makes the claim that the Bible may not be very clear on if homosexuality is a sin or not, saying that this is mentioned in the Old Testament but not very clearly in the New Testament. Nothing could be further from the truth. 1 Corinthians 6:9 says that homosexuals, along with fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, sodomites, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers, and extortioners will not inherit the kingdom of God because these acts are unrighteous. Then verse 11 of the same chapter says that those who have been saved and sanctified by the Spirit of God are no longer these things. Romans 1:24-27 also condemns homosexual passions and desires, not just the act but the desire itself, as being unnatural and something that God gives men and women over to for rejecting Him and His existence as revealed through the creation.
Further, I believe that reason demands absolute truth must exist. Otherwise, it is everyone’s opinion for himself and nothing could be either true or not true. But for absolute truth to exist, it must be eternal and unchanging. The Bible and God are the only things that make such a claim. I believe there is reason to believe that the Bible is indeed the inspired, inerrant Word of God, not merely the writings of men. Therefore, when God says that homosexuality is unnatural, sin, and something that men and women choose to be rather than are forced to be, I believe God.
However, God does not say that homosexuality is wrong because sex is only for procreation. It is clear that God created sex to be pleasurable and fun as well. The reason God says homosexuality is wrong is because it goes against the very purpose for which He created us. God created us to enjoy sex within the confines of marriage between one man and one woman. He says that we are to obey these confines, and that we will be happiest in these confines.
So in the final analysis, though I largely agree with Mohr’s arguments, I believe that the only natural sex is heterosexual sex, and that homosexual sex is unnatural and a perversion of the way God created us and intended us to be.