Abstinence or Chastity… or is it semantics?

Two recent entries in the blogosphere about sexuality captured my attention. One was bemoaning the narrow-mindedness of abstinence teaching and advocating a more robust theology that uses the concept of chastity rather than abstinence. I’d be curious what your thoughts are on the matter. (Link to article here.)

The author is Dr. Anthony Bradley, associate professor of theology and ethics at The King’s College in New York City. He elaborates:

I am not convinced that Christians do a good job of telling young people what to do with their bodies other than say “no” to them. As a result, I am beginning to wonder if abstinence programs are even helpful for developing moral maturity. While abstinence rightly places sexual intercourse within its proper context — marriage — it fails to construct a moral theology of the body. Perhaps this is a good opportunity for Christians to return to teaching chastity.

The second entry is by Christian speaker and communicator Jeff Bethke. (Link to article here.) He writes on Porn, Sex & the Christian. After sharing some disconcerting stats about pornography and its prevalence, he writes:

So, stop looking and striving for purity, and start looking and striving towards the face of Jesus, and purity will happen as a by-product. We have to see that the cross is something done for us, to give us a perfect and beautiful relationship with our Creator.

Both authors, from different points of view, admonish us toward positive desires rather than seeking to avoid negative ones. Mark Batterson in his book In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day (reviewed here), says,

The servant who buries his talent [in the parable by Jesus] and breaks even is called “wicked.” Why? Because he wasn’t willing to take a calculated risk. Maybe risk taking is at the heart of righteousness. Maybe righteousness has less to do with not doing anything wrong and more to do with doing things right.

Bethke concludes his entry with these words:

So stop worshipping sex, and start worshipping Jesus. When’s the last time sex forgave you? When’s the last time it delivered on its’ promise? Jesus is the only one who has done that.

What do you think after reviewing the entries?

Simple. Read your Bible.

Check out openupthebible.com and look at the wealth of resources for all ages there. It’s March. Was Bible reading part of your resolves for 2012? How are you doing?

Personally, Bible study, reading and devotion have been an integral part of my life since I was a young teenager. I’m so grateful for the years of guidance and direction the Lord has provided through it.

Wise words (or overused ones)… and be careful of exclamation points!

Phil Cooke wrote an entry a while back that wondered if the word “authentic” in Christian circles had lost its punch due to overuse and misuse. He added several other words that may need to be retired. What think ye?

Epic, as in “epic generation”

Jared Wilson, author or Your Jesus Is Too Safe, complements this counsel toward wise use of words in our communication. (Link to entry here.) He notes the danger of the exclamation point.

Especially in churches, it’s way too easy to get excited about every amazing, real, organic ministry program that comes around. (Yep, see what I did there? Used some of the overused words above. Did that get your blood going?! See what I did there! Exclamation point! Yeehaw! This is getting good! Cause I’m using exclamation points!)

Wilson points out that the leader or communicator that uses the EP too much relegates the things that need emphasizing to quick forgetfulness because the audience can’t discern what’s really important.Pastor, our people don’t usually get excited about what we tell them to be excited about. Have you figured that out yet? Instead, they get excited about what they see actually excites us.

This means we ought to steward our exclamation points wisely. If you’re one of those rah-rah guys firing on all emotional cylinders for everything from bake sales and the book table to baptisms and baby dedications, you create an equality between minutiae and missional milestones that can be disorienting, and ultimately dulling. But more directly, just remember that if everything is exciting, nothing is. (italics mine)

So be wary of what you rah-rah.

Excellence vs professionalism

Shawn Blanc had a self-revealing post back in 2010 in which he let us in on a little mourning. He is a prolific blogger and writer, and unlike yours truly, his blog has reached an incredibly wide range of folks focusing on tech and design. I was intrigued as I came across this statement:

But excellence and professionalism are NOT synonyms.

The context of that statement is found in his observation about the maturation of his writing. He noted:

My words are not as “free” and “light” as they used to be… And sadly I know exactly where that tone of freedom in my writing went. It slowly disappeared as my readership grew. I remember how I used to write as if 5,000 were reading even though there were only 75. But since I knew those 75 and considered them friends I was comfortable being in my own skin in front of them.

Well now that I actually do have 5,000 readers the freedom that was once in my writing seems to have been replaced with something more professional and scrutiny-proof. What an unfair trade and a bum deal for all of us.

I’ve been blogging since 2005. Sounds crazy to think of that. I’ve written a couple of entries that express some of my thoughts about why I blog here and here. I can really identify with his thoughts. I know that I’m much more hesitant to post quickly, whereas in the past, I’d get “fired up” about an issue and dash off an entry without allowing some mental crock pot time. When I do address “issues,” I do so after some measured moments of diligence, reflection, humility, research and hopefully, wisdom. I wonder if long-time readers of Notes from the Trail have noticed a difference in my writing…. Mom?

Nuff said for now.

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