Realizations

Philosophy in the Middle of the Desert

My Valentine February 15, 2014

[written on 1/25/14 with my left hand, during 24 hours of silence; posted in honor of Valentine’s Day!]

If you’ve gone through a whole day without loving God, trusting God, or truly focusing in on Him/tuning into His voice… then you failed your top priority of the day.  The day was a failure.  You got an F.  You didn’t pass the test of loyalty.  After all, isn’t this the greatest commandment in the Old and New Testament, and indeed the meaning of life?  “Love the LORD your God with all your heart…”

If you don’t feel love for God in your heart something is wrong.  Stop everything you’re doing; take off from work if you have to.  Until you’re right with God, until you get to the place where you can honestly ask God to give you opportunities to proclaim His name today, to proclaim your Love.  And then go out actually looking for those opportunities.

God wants us to love Him like a lover — like in Song of Songs — consumed with Him as if we have a crush.  God wants me to run out through the fields to find a tree that I can carve a heart with both our initials in it.

We always put God on the shelf, getting Him out when it doesn’t conflict with anything else.  But why not put everything else on the shelf until it doesn’t conflict with God?  Why not love God and trust Him even if it means we die?  [21514- As my friend, Spencer Argow, pointed out to me last week, the last time I saw him before he died:  “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in Him.” ~Job 13:15]

[I should note that writing this article is my very act of living out my advice, as this came to me during a time when I have so much stuff people want me to do, and I chose to put it on the shelf until I’m right with God again.  It’s kind of corny, I know, but that’s the point!]

 

Mortal Ghost April 1, 2013

I am a ghost. Floating above the world, looking down, looking through.

I have been unplugged from the Matrix. Freed from Plato’s cave. Broken from the earthen chains of gravity.

You think you see me, but you don’t really see Me.  For you see but an apparition, a physical manifestation  of the spiritual within.

I am no longer able to stop and smell the roses, for I cannot see the roses. Whereas the world stops and sniffs the roses because it cannot see the suffering around them.

I am a prophet, a mortal ghost, living on another plane of existence.

Sometimes it is lonely being a ghost, but I know it is lonelier not being one.
Sometimes it is lonely drifting through this carnal world, but lonely freedom is better than communal slavery.

I wander the earth looking for others who have died to this world, yet live within it.

//

 

Living Sacrifices November 9, 2011

[This and the following Living Sacrifices parts written from 61511 – 112511]


Genesis 1:27
– God created man in his own image, in the image of God He created them. “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it.” God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good. But then man sinned against God and God left the Earth. The Earth, now separated from its creator’s direct presence, became cursed. Instead of being “very good” it became imperfect, and then bad, and then very bad. Yet some men still tried to take up their calling and fulfill their purpose of worshiping God, taking care of the Earth, and living the life God created them to live (fulfilling their good human desires and thus taking part in God’s pleasure of creation and life). And in those simple times it was enough to satisfy God. Good men lived good lives and were blessed in life. Bad men lived bad lives and eventually died, and that was it. But it still wasn’t like God intended it, and so God sought to restore his relationship with man (the main point of the creation).

Acts 17:30:Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, 31 because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”

So it was that God made the Old World with its Old Covenant to pass away and he introduced a New Covenant which ushered in a New Age. But this new age wasn’t a new world, but rather simply a preparation for the New World, in which Shalom (perfect earthly harmony) would be restored to Earth and God would once again live alongside man as originally intended. As the old age was ushered in with God himself on earth walking alongside man, so was the new age instated with God himself walking alongside man, except this time God came to Earth in the form of a man, whom the world knows today as Jesus. And Jesus changed everything.

Whereas in the beginning God said, Enjoy life to the fullest, now he said, Live for a transcendent cause beyond this life, sacrificing your life for the sake of others. Before he said, Be fruitful and multiply, now he was saying, Take in the widows and orphans, and if anyone can remain single he should, for the end is near.

He said before “Here is what I have seen to be good and fitting: to eat, to drink and enjoy oneself in all one’s labor in which he toils under the sun during the few years of his life which God has given him; for this is his reward. Go then, eat your bread in happiness and drink your wine with a cheerful heart; for God has already approved your works.” (Ecc. 5:18 & 9:7)

Now he gave man a divine mission saying, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.” (Mark 16:15)

Instead of Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die, it was “They will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name.(Matt 24:9).

Jesus turned everything upside down in this new age, and his followers followed suit. His disciples actually acted like the end was near: quitting their jobs, leaving their families behind to follow Jesus to the ends of the earth preaching the Gospel.  Even the ones who weren’t traveling sold their possessions so as to use everything in their power to prepare the world for the end. All their time, all their talents, and all their treasure. Aka the exact opposite of the American Dream, which more or less reverts back to a Christianized Old World mentality of “Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die and go to Heaven.”

Christianity was a radical, revolutionary philosophy and way of life. It wasn’t acceptable to society back then and it isn’t acceptable in our modern-American church society either. The New Testament I read implies we should all surrender everything we have to live as living sacrifices, sacrificing everything we have to speed the Great Commission and hasten Christ’s return. Keep nothing for ourselves except that which equips our ministry, use the rest of our money to fund other ministries. Recognize that God owns everything, so everything that we have is only what God has chosen to loan us–talents he will one day come to collect, expecting at least interest. (Matt 25)

I haven’t taken a vow of poverty, mainly because Christ advised us not to make vows, but it is my conviction to live a life of “moderate poverty.” I still have a car and a computer and spend money on things that work towards my calling, but that’s it. I feel that as Christians we have no place to spend our money on anything that goes beyond necessity. Absolutely no vanities. Cut out expensive vacations, nice jewelry (including engagement rings), movies, cable, music, and restaurants from your budget.  Of course some times going out is almost as cheap as buying something at the store and making it at home(and more conducive to your schedule); and sometimes (such as when travelling) you don’t have means of cooking.  Restaurants are especially hard to avoid because people assume everyone goes out to eat and so I’m always invited to restaurants, which gets awkward constantly declining and you don’t want to disrespect people or miss out on opportunities to “fellowship in the gospel” with them.  So my rule is that I don’t go out to eat unless it’s really cheap (like $2), it’s my only option, or it’s for a special occasion (which includes evangelistic opportunities).  I would even go so far as to not invest much in retirement, since it’s a gamble anyways, because you could die tomorrow (unless of course you could designate your unused retirement funds to a ministry).
Of course there’s no way to make it all cut and dry because there are gray areas. Such as when it seems I “need” something to make my ministry as effective as possible– in my case I feel called to reach people through music (which can be more expensive the more effective you want it to be). But the bottom line is that as Christians we cannot afford the time or money to have lives of vanity.  Even when it comes to our necessities we shouldn’t indulge in luxurious necessities. We need food to survive, but we don’t need the best-tasting food to survive. I challenge people to buy generic brands of everything. It will never be as good as the real thing, but that’s the price you pay for being a Christian (an incomparably smaller price than what God payed for you). I’ve heard it said that it’s not how much you spend that counts, but how much you have left.  In the story of the poor widow’s offering, Jesus said her last 2 pennies were more than all the other donations combined.  (Mark 12:41)

How much money would you give to save someone’s soul from Hell?

$1,000?  $1,000,000?  The answer should be, of course, “All of it.”  Well, believe it or not, this option actually exists.  You can pay to save souls by funding missionary work and child sponsorship, which presents the gospel in the most persuasive of ways and will inevitably save souls. So how much of your salary should you give towards the Great Commission? All of it.  That’s not to say you give away all your money and have to dig through the dumpsters (that you live in) to find food. The healthier you are mentally and physically the more effective you are in The Great Commission, and the more effective you are at making money which can fund The Great Commission. Your specific calling will determine how healthy you should be or how much effort you put into your job, so as to not hinder The Great Commission by being too healthy or too hard of a worker.

Do not waste any of your time. Even in obeying the sabbath to rest don’t waste your time. Rest by reading literature to strengthen your spirit and meditation to stay close to God and hear from Him. If you’re too tired to read or pray then sleep or rest to get as much rest as you possibly can so that you’ll have all the more energy during the week to be active every day, draining your life and pouring it out as a drink offering. Do not watch TV for the purpose of being entertained only; only watch TV if it is spiritually-edifying somehow. If you desire entertainment then be entertained in a spiritually edifying way, aka fellowship with other believers in godly community, encouraging and sharpening them. Laugh at the things God would laugh at and let the joy and love of Christ which comes from fellowship of believers abound, which is greater recreation than any pop culture. Otherwise what good is entertainment or recreation if it doesn’t help progress God’s will?  It is just a waste of time that could better be used fulfilling the Great Commission, even if it’s incrementally. If you find spiritually-edifying recreation to not be entertaining then you need to change. Your senses have been so numbed by their over-stimulation from this over-indulgent society that you can’t even enjoy the basic pleasures of life, you can’t enjoy the things that were created to please you.

When you’re on your death bed, what will you wish that you had done with your life?

The way I see it is like this: Every single thing that you do in your life will affect the ultimate number of souls who go to Heaven or Hell. Through a spiritual butterfly effect something as simple as a disgruntled comment to a stranger you’ll never see again (who at least assumes you are a Christian) can turn that stranger against Christ by giving them a bad impression of Christians in general and thus Christianity, so that they are more likely to avoid it altogether. Their impression creates a subconscious instinct that guards them from being offended again.  Once they are hardened against it, they go on living their life subconsciously discerning reality around them, but now they lean towards anti-christ explanations and are progressively built-up to explain away Christ. Oh, that not one person would go to Hell because of us!

Therefore, every single thing that you do needs to filter through Christianity. From the first thing you do in the morning to the last thing you do at night. From the way you dress, the way you communicate, how you make money, who you associate with, etc. If you’re too tired, get more sleep. If you don’t have enough time/talent/treasure then cut out the things in your schedule getting in their way and put new things in your schedule that increase your time/talent/treasure for the ministry. If you’re not good at speaking then work on what you are good at. If you’re ignorant on apologetics, learn them now. Stop reading this and go learn it so that you can “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” (Peter 3:15) And set up barriers in your life to prevent “the cares of this world” from stealing away your time/talent/treasure.

What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.” (1 Cor. 7:29)

 

Living Sacrifices: Celibacy, pt. 1 – Paul’s Reasons for Celibacy/Marriage?

THE LOGIC BEHIND CELIBACY

*My main goal behind writing a persuasive argument in favor of celibacy is most pointedly (and most realistically) to simply open the average Christian’s mind to the option of celibacy for their consideration. And by using the 2 things we already trust in (divine revelation and logic) to support that option I hope to prove that it’s actually not radical or weird. Not to brainwash you with propaganda so as to join my ranks, but to show you what the Bible has clearly stated about it for 2000 years. Not to encourage you to join some kind of faith-based cult by tugging on your hearts, but to let you see that celibacy in general resonates with our innate sense of logic, so as to seem even more logical than marriage.*

Persecution
I’ve heard it argued that Paul was specifically talking about his era when referring to staying single because of how extreme the “present distress” was (1 Cor 7:26). But at the time Paul wrote that the persecution hadn’t even reached the peak it would in later years. And if he referred to the future, then was he only referring to until the 4th century when Christianity stopped being persecuted in the Roman Empire? Is that when Christians started marrying suddenly? So now that we’re not living in “present distress” in our country is it suddenly okay to live carefree lives, marrying and living comfortably in our pursuit of happiness like in the Old Covenant? Those early centuries of persecution were no doubt terrible, but were they anymore extreme than the persecution still going on right now in the world?

I wonder if the fact that we’re not personally being persecuted means we’re not living like we’re supposed to. How can we justify living a life of leisure when our brothers in the world are STILL living in persecution like the early church? Shouldn’t we forsake the excess resources which afford us a luxurious lifestyle to turn our lives and resources toward the alleviation of current persecution? If we did this we would feel the effects of persecution personally.

But really what does persecution have to do with celibacy anyways? I suppose it’s because a wife could do more harm than good in a persecution-inclined culture where your responsibility as a husband could collide with your responsibility to the ministry– as portrayed in the following joke:

What do you call a missionary’s wife in the 10/40 window? A bargaining chip.

My point is just that the logic behind celibacy goes far beyond persecution. Are the people right now who are being persecuted like the early church called to celibacy more than we? No, I think the point of Paul advocating celibacy is because the end is near. We don’t know when it is and so we need to live as if the end is tomorrow. And if the world’s ending tomorrow why would we get married, and especially have kids? Is that what Jesus advised us to do? No, just the opposite! He actually spoke woes to them that do, as he said in Matt. 24:19: “But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days!” He doesn’t encourage people to keep living life like it’s always been, but instead to stop and prepare for the end. “Yeah, but people have thought it’s the end for thousands of years.” Wow, do you so quickly take the side of those “mockers in the last days” who say “Where is this second coming?” It’s that conviction of the end being nigh which continues to push the gospel ever forward despite the dangers.  Without that we wouldn’t have even gotten this far.

For “…they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be.” –Matthew 24:38-39

Lack of Self-Control
Personally speaking, most of the time I don’t struggle with lust and romantic longing, but occasionally I do.  And in those times I‘m shaken to my core, to the point I would consider throwing away all my commitments, calling, and logic for companionship.  For what’s the point of celibacy if you’re too depressed to be productive–which was the whole point of being celibate?  Those times when I have given in to romance are easily the worst parts of my whole life; nearly all the valleys in my life’s vicissitudes are the direct result of romantic deprivation.  But it’s important to note that these valleys almost exclusively come after being around women which arouse a desire in me which I don’t want to fulfill.  It’s not being by myself that makes me lonely; it’s the angst of being without something I suddenly desire that so greatly depresses me.  I think if I were distanced from women (and romantic allurement) and had friends/family with me to keep me from loneliness (through accountability/fellowship) I would still struggle just like everybody does (priests, monks, apostles), but not enough to consider marriage as my calling.

You may think, “If he were really called to celibacy then he wouldn’t struggle with it.”  But doesn’t everybody struggle with it?  Isn’t that the way we were originally designed so as to populate the Earth?  All I know is if the Bible says Jesus was tempted in every way then surely he was tempted by the most tempting of human desires (romance and sex).  And if Jesus was tempted, of course a mere mortal like Paul would be, too.  I don’t see why Paul’s thorn in the flesh wouldn’t have been something like the temptation of those intense romantic or sexual passions he fought against yet still couldn’t shake.  I know during my past (and current) crushes I’ve begged God more than 3 times to take it away (to no avail I might add).  And yet Paul’s own romantic and sexual temptations weren’t enough to persuade him toward advocating marriage; it was in spite of them that he encouraged celibacy. Paul and the prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 16) are the only people in Scripture I can think of whose call to celibacy was clearly, biblically-ordained, and yet if even Paul (the main advocate of celibacy) struggled against those temptations then why wouldn’t we also (who would be blessed to become even half of what Paul was)?  The struggle isn’t a clear indicator of your calling.

Is molestation at the hands of priests a sign that God never intended people to be celibate?  I don’t think so.  Maybe it’s a sign that we weren’t intended to make vows of lifelong celibacy.  Because it would have been better for those men to have been married all along than to be set apart to God only to end up burning with passion anyway and that passion being forced to manifest itself through a perverted outlet.  I think it’s these situations Paul is referring to in 1 Corinthians 7:9 which justify marriage.

You get the impression from reading that passage that the only thing Paul considers worthy to justify a marriage is lack of self-control (as if you would inevitably sin more without marriage to legalize your lustful thoughts and actions).  But is he justifying the lack of self control itself?  Isn’t this just a cop-out for sin?
“I have the choice between surrendering every area of my life to Christ’s discipline or giving in to my lust by justifying it with marriage?… That’s a no-brainer!”
That’s kind of like justifying your gambling problem because you donate the money you get to missions.  You don’t do anything to fix your self-control problem, but just get married only to find out later that your burning passions are too large to be righteously satisfied in marriage, and now you’re tempted by sins worse than the fornication you were tempted with before marriage.  Marriage won’t cure a lustful heart.

I used to think (as most men do) that living a lust-free life is not possible, it’s just part of a man’s daily life.  And I freely confess that I still struggle against my day dreams and wandering eyes (sometimes giving in), but I also confess that I know what it’s like to be broken free from the bondage of lust, and it’s so much better than any temporary ecstasy that has such addictive baggage.  I can only speak for myself, but God in his amazing grace allows me to break free from lust and then sustains me for extended periods of time (see my essay, “How To Overcome Lust“).  In those anti-lust streaks I don’t mean that I simply refrained from having sex or making out or looking at porn or masturbating, what I mean is I never even entertained a lustful temptation in my head!  I’m hesitant to even share that lest I be judged as being prideful, or lest people say “That’s a clear sign you’re called to celibacy; as for me I could never do that so I must not be.”  But I share that for the sake of telling you firsthand from experience that, in a society where Christians don’t really think it’s possible not to lust, it IS possible, and I don’t think escaping the sin of lust should be anyone’s determining reason for getting married. Sex will fade, and then what’s left in your marriage if that’s the main thing that brought you two together?

Lust is what keeps us on the same level as animals, and keeps us from being on the same level as angels.

And so people say, well, I struggle with lust so I must be called to marriage.  But Paul’s not saying marriage is for people who simply struggle with lust, but rather people who can’t control themselves enough to not have sex and commit fornication.  It’s better to be married than to sin by having sex outside of marriage.  This justification is for the people who know their extreme tendencies and are smart enough to recognize their weaknesses and beat them to it. Though I think a sex-based marriage will always be less successful than a ministry-based marriage of people who developed self-control before getting married.

 

Living Sacrifices: Celibacy, pt. 2 – Love vs. Romance vs. Calling

Filed under: Celibacy,The American Dream — milesprowers @ 10:06 pm
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Love vs. Romance
[I think it’s important to point out the difference between love and romance. You don’t love your family the same way you love your girlfriend; the latter would be considered romance. So rather than risk any confusion when referring to love, I will always refer to romantic love as “romance” and never just “love”, as is the common use in our culture.]

I’m always amazed by the people who freak out at me as if by my denial of romance I’m thwarting God’s plan for my life and passing up the mate God wants me to marry. As if life is a game where you have to play all your cards right or else you screw up and you’re accidentally off track the rest of your life. And how is it that I screwed up? By analyzing my life and earnestly seeking out how best to serve God instead of just giving into my selfish desires on a whim like the godless American majority? If anyone would hear God’s call for marriage wouldn’t it be those who surrender to His will and open their ears to hear from Him? If we are celibate because we honestly feel it’s God’s will, then we will marry when we honestly feel it’s God’s will. If it’s God’s will He would make it so, change the circumstances, change our hearts, and those of our soul mates, to bring us together providentially, not through eHarmony or dating every girl you see at church. It’s in His hands, any other way is faithlessness, out of fear and out of His will. There’s times and seasons in our lives, and God changes us according to our best fit in reaching the world. But at the same time there weren’t “times and seasons” in Paul’s life, and we must live with that resolve until God tells us otherwise.

I think of romance like hard drugs.  Romance is something you find physically tempting because of its promise to pick you up from your neutral-to-depressing existence and put you on cloud 9 in an experience of emotional ecstasy.  Once you give in just a little bit and have that first taste, your system is completely transformed to revolve around it.  It’s all you can think about, all you care about.  It immediately detours your plans for the day all the way until the day you die.  All your previous ambitions and decisions are immediately thrown out the window and replaced with attempts to get another taste.  Yet neither are necessities for living.  Neither help you physically or spiritually.  And in fact they do harm to your potential and that of the Great Commission as they throw away your time, talent and treasures.   Any spare time you have is spent thinking about it, to the point that you can’t really enjoy anything else anymore, so that anytime you are without it you are in emotional misery, which affects your mind, body and relationships to make all of them miserable as well.  Whatever time you do have is spent trying to get it back or fantasizing about it.  Whatever spare money you have is used to bring it back to you.  And then, of course, you neglect using your god-given talents by instead laying around, listening to the siren’s song in a euphoric state, and are no good to anybody.
How can anything be good that you are obsessed with all day?  The first thing you think of when you wake to the last thing you think about when you go to bed.  How can anything be so obsessive and yet considered good (aside from God, of course, whom we should be obsessed with all the time)?  Isn’t that just as bad as hard drugs?  In fact, isn’t that the reason hard drugs are considered bad?  Because they possess you and take over your life so that every decision is made in favor of that addiction, and so they destroy your life and recreate your identity.
[Of course this argument is largely referring to the puppy love stage, which is temporary….but I wouldn’t know anything about that having never made it beyond the puppy love stage.  🙂   And sadly I fear that many couples never make it past this romantic infatuation before getting married (so that their marriage is based on emotion instead of reason), and that is why they do not last.]

The truth is that romance is blinding, and if you randomly fall in love with someone, regardless of their compatibility, then your mind (being now possessed and controlled by emotion) will shape logic around them, shape God’s will and your calling so that the person fits in right at the center– your new god. Can’t you see that this addiction (just like any other) is idolatry?  And yet it feels so natural, so right!  When you’re in love there’s no such thing as logic, because your emotions refashion your previously existing logic. And if, as was my case, the logic is square against the romance in any area, you just ignore it. When in doubt, side with emotion. Because you and your body feel emotion. You don’t feel logic. Your primal desires are more desperate to be satisfied than your mental unsatisfactions. Romance is invincible and blind. That’s why it’s important to look for a mate not based on romance, but before romance sets in and blinds you to God’s will.

I ask you, is that love? In the immortal words of Haddaway, “What Is Love?”
If Paul, writer of majority of the New Testament, encourages celibacy then why is it so rare today? Wouldn’t we all pursue, or at least consider, his logical, God-ordained advice? It wasn’t a command, just advice. But personal advice coming from the main apostle, perhaps the greatest Christian to ever live, shouldn’t that be heeded more than the advice of any other christian leader since? I mean, it’s in the Bible! And who is the opposition? Not the Catholic church, whose leaders are celibate. It’s the comfortable American church that fits into an unbiblical, non-sacrificial, hedonistic society pursuing the American Dream. It’s just Christian enough to get into Heaven, but not Christian enough to make a difference. Unchristian enough to fit perfectly in the devil’s plan. Why would Satan waste time on the lost who are already lost when he can just keep Christians from reaching them?

Romance Is Not Ideal
 34Jesus said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, 35 but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry nor are given in marriage; 36 for they cannot even die anymore, because they are like angels, and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.” –  Luke 20

If nothing else, we can all agree that at the very least romance is not ideal, otherwise it would be in Heaven.  Because Heaven is ideal and marriage (thus sex and romance) isn’t in Heaven, marriage must not be ideal.  And if there won’t be marriage in Heaven why bother dealing with it here on earth?  Of course, you could argue “because you won’t be able to experience it in Heaven”, but isn’t the goal of Christianity to do God’s will on Earth as it is in Heaven?  And to ultimately prepare this Earth to become Heaven, which will descend to reside here at the end of the age? If God’s will is perfectly done in Heaven where there is no romance then what does that imply we should strive for here on Earth in making this place more like Heaven?

Remember that in the beginning, when God commanded marriage, that everything was perfect and he himself dwelt there so that there was no need of Heaven on Earth; Heaven was already on Earth.  Which raises a serious question: God created romance in the beginning, and wasn’t all God’s creation perfect and thus ideal?  Perfect, yes; ideal, no. Because it’s only perfect for this particular, physical world; it’s not the overall, universal ideal.  Just like planet Earth itself: though perfect, it was never intended to be as good as Heaven.  As Luke says, there is no marriage because there is no need for marriage.  In other words, the point of marriage in the beginning was to procreate and keep mankind alive (and tending the Earth), but since man doesn’t die in Heaven, there’s no need to procreate, thus no marriage (thus no romance which is the seed of the others).

Which also raises an interesting point: If the main point of marriage was to populate the Earth, now that the Earth is more than populated does that original intent hold the same weight? I’d argue that the Earth had become completely inhabited by the time of Jesus, so when Jesus fulfilled the Law (including “be fruitful and multiply”) and encouraged celibacy in Matthew 19 the timing was Providential.  God created romance in the beginning, thus it was “very good.”  But oh, how things have changed!  The version of romance we have today has been corrupted just like everything else post-Eden, so who’s even to say that it is still just as “very good.”  But that’s besides the point; the point is that even if modern romance is still good according to God’s design, it’s not the best.  Romance is good, but giving up your own romance/pleasure for the greater good of humanity is better.

Imagine all the drama that would vanish if there were no ulterior motives and mind possession from lust/romance.  Imagine people living without exclusive relationships to be jealous of or bitter about, to make for awkward situations. No one would be left out or marginalized based on their insecurities, looks, or handicaps.  While there would still be jealousy, loneliness, etc, it wouldn’t be magnified by this amazingly-large staple of human life, this void which only serves to intensify the pain of those who would be single regardless.  People would just be people, living together as friends.  Some are better friends than others (enter jealousy/bitterness/loneliness), but there’s no exclusive/legal/sacred bond between 2 people.  There would still exist the same kind of issues that exist today among people, it’s just that they wouldn’t be romance-related, which probably takes away half of our major issues.  Oh, what a relief the very thought is!


Your Calling
Doesn’t God have a divine plan for every person? Don’t we need to seek Him and wait on Him to reveal our specific calling, how to fulfill it, and the provisions needed to fulfill it, all exactly as God planned it? Of course. If that’s how it is with the most important thing in our lives, wouldn’t it be the same with the other most important thing in our lives (aka, marriage)? Worrying about marriage and rushing around trying to find a good enough girl to marry lest you miss it and are lonely your whole life or it’s too late to have kids is the same thing as worrying about missing your calling and rushing around trying not to waste time and plugging into a ministry based on society’s influence on you and what’s available, instead of based on prayer and seeking God’s voice that calls you to the ministry He created you for. No devout Christian condones the latter, why then is it the norm to condone the former?  Just as God created you for one specific ministry above all others, so God has chosen one soul-mate to complement you above all other people.

Everyone should start off as celibate until God reveals his talent/ministry/calling so they know what attributes to look for in a mate, but waiting on God to join them together supernaturally, not just marrying whoever is convenient or who you happen to be around and fall in love with.  Because you’re not just marrying another person, you’re marrying your future self- as you two become one mind. It’s not good to live a life of solitude unless you’re specifically doing some good project that requires it (ie, monks copying manuscripts). Celibacy might not be best for you if you struggle more than usual with being single while living in a world of single women to tempt you and married couples to make you jealous, bitter, lonely, feeling left out, and longing. But struggles are inevitable while living in this sinful world in our sinful flesh, regardless of your calling.

Celibacy is a gift (1 Cor. 7:7), but what is the gift exactly? A lower sex-drive? Simply more self-control? Greater contentment or independence? Couldn’t it just as well be the realization and conviction that Paul himself had that this life is short and temporary and we should live as such? Many things are done better with a helper (someone to pick you up, as iron sharpens iron), but some things are better done alone.  And why can’t your helper just be a friend? Celibacy doesn’t mean living a life of solitude, in most cases celibates would probably have more friends than couples because couples are so tied-up with each other they don’t have time or care about socializing. It’s not like being single means you’re all alone and don’t have any friends or family, or you’re living a sad existence alone at your house every night. If you’re single you probably have roommates and it’s like being in college your whole life, which could be better than marriage.

Just as your talents are spiritual gifts, the means by which you employ them (ie, celibacy/marriage) is a gift, too. Sure celibates are seen as set apart or above the norm of society and flesh. But I think couples can still be “set apart” or holy in contrast to the society they live in, and in deed should be. In fact married couples probably have it harder being in, not of, the world as they live more in the midst of the world and its temptations and trials, whereas celibates are typically set apart literally and physically. The married are tempted to keep up with the Joneses and the American Dream, and in fact the world looks down on them, too.  Because they’re abnormal just like the celibate, though not as much.
But just as one member of the body isn’t better than another, the means of one calling (celibacy) isn’t better than another (marriage). We’re two different kinds of people, members of the body, with different functions/missions. Celibates shouldn’t look down on the married for “giving in” to their primal desires. And the married should not criticize celibates for being “too uptight”, “legalistic”, “missing out on the joys of life”, or “rebelling against their design”.

Of course the most persuasive argument for celibacy comes from just reading 1 Corinthians chapter 7, which I encourage you to read alongside this essay, and I don’t feel the need to expound on it because it speaks for itself. But where Paul talks of his own advice (not of the Lord), the Lord Himself gives the same advice in Matthew 19, and if the Lord is giving advice, is it really just advice? Jesus says getting divorced and remarrying while your spouse is alive= adultery. The only justifiable reason for divorce is if your spouse committed adultery, but even then the innocent person is forced to commit adultery when they marry someone else (it’s the only justified adultery). The disciples responded saying that it is better to never marry once, than be divorced once. Then Jesus condones their words in a curious way by saying, “Not all men can accept this statement, but only those to whom it has been given….[For] there are those who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to accept this, let him accept it.” Jesus changes the topic slightly to affirm the call to celibacy, later echoed by Paul (the 2nd most influential person in Christianity, next to Jesus). God Himself lays it out plainly: If you can remain single you should. Which seems to me that if you can remain single but do not, you are not living up to God’s expectations. It seems like He’s saying if you’re not sure you are called to be married then stay single. It is better to lean towards remaining single and being sinless than to lean towards marriage and possibly sinning. Better to err in the noble fight for righteousness than to err by simply giving in to the temptations of the world.

Ministry before Matrimony, Matrimony above Ministry
You should not marry because it feels good, nor should you be celibate just to lock yourself away to meditate in a euphoric state all the time (get high on God). The feeling you feel doesn’t benefit others, so it’s not worth doing unless it benefits others, such as if it is a means of a spiritual rest or equipping to prepare for future service. When it all comes down, the only reason you should marry is if it brings you closer to God to help you preach the gospel better. If your relationship takes away time from service or hinders your relationship/growth with God then you are clearly in sin. But if you’re married then it’s too late, and you have higher responsibilities than your calling. You must first understand your calling, then if marriage would help it or hurt it, then figure out what type of person would complement your ministry. Although only God ultimately knows what would help our ministry, there should still be some obvious things to look for and look against.
What is the one thing you are best at?

I think the answer to this is the clearest indicator of where you could make the biggest impact for the Gospel’s advancement (aka your calling).  I have the gift of song-writing; I feel it is the one thing I can do better than anything else.  So if I felt called with my mind and God’s spirit to marriage, it would only make sense to marry someone who would understand my calling, appreciate my songs, give constructive criticism to strengthen my ministry, and also give me enough time and space alone to work on them. It would be a sin to marry someone who I’m attracted to, though they could care less about music and would get mad at me for spending large amounts of time writing and thinking. If they need more time with me to fulfill their own calling so that my own is watered down and put on the shelf then I screwed up in marrying the wrong person, going with my emotions rather than the spirit, not waiting for God to reveal it first and confirm it in a way that makes sense.  And I fear that is the fate of many (if not most) marriages, if they aren’t centered on ministry. I’m not saying your ministry takes priority over your marriage in your daily life (it’s the opposite), but your ministry/calling comes first chronologically in your life-time and defines what your marriage will be.  If at all.  Marriage takes priority over ministry, so make sure your marriage complements both the ministry of the groom and bride. That way when you make marriage your top priority you strengthen your ministry at the same time.

Luke 14:16-24:  Jesus said to them, “A man was giving a big dinner, and he invited many… One said, ‘I have married a wife, and for that reason I cannot come.’  … The master said … “None of those men who were invited shall taste of my dinner.’”

 

Living Sacrifices: Celibacy, pt. 3 – Against Procreation

Filed under: Celibacy — milesprowers @ 10:05 pm
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Reproduction: Sin of Omission
Even in the times when I’m tempted by marriage it always inevitably comes back to the same wall, which is procreation. Some people are against birth control because it’s unnatural, goes against God’s purpose of sex (“spilling the seed” so to speak), or if nothing else because it’s been proven to cause abortions by accidentally killing the embryo after conception, just a tad too late. However, the reason I’m against it is because it’s not 100% effective. There’s still a slight chance life could be conceived. I feel strongly that to have a baby is the sin of omission. In other words, in a world like ours where over 2/3 the world is on their way to Hell, how can we leave all those innocent, dying children out in the cold by bringing in new children? Brand new souls who will never know starvation, or likely damnation, to lavish on them all the love, support, and basic needs we could’ve given to the ones already here and already without it, the ones who likely won’t ever get it. And the reason they won’t get it is mainly because of us keeping it from them.

It’s not just giving to the needy, it’s giving the opportunity of salvation to those on their way to Hell (who are dying faster than Americans, by the way); it’s the Great Commission. So what, instead we give our amazing gift of Christian parenthood to souls we make from scratch, who otherwise wouldn’t exist to go to Hell? What is so beneficial and selfless so as to entice people to have babies? Desires to live a life that’s physically and emotionally fulfilling in every way? Experiencing the joys of sex? Pregnancy? Parenthood? Passing on good genes? Legacy?  The only things I can think of are not selfless– they’re selfish. It’s all about you. It’s not even about the baby.

Q: “What about raising a godly family to impact the degrading society?”
But is that even a truly noble goal? Of course saving people from a life of starvation, oppression, and spiritual blindness is among the noblest of endeavors, but raising a family itself? Perhaps the end result is noble, but nothing in the means of getting there. And the end result is still less noble than other options. Godly parenthood is so time-consuming that you might as well be living a life of solitude in your homey comfort-zone, away from the world outside that threatens the safety of your family. Again, a huge temptation- as in the temptation to protect your children from evil and danger (as is your responsibility as a parent). But at the expense of actually being a light out in the world, so that you and your godly family are absent from the world, making it just as well that you and your godly family weren’t godly at all or even in the world in the first place. It’s kind of extreme, but I wonder if parents rightly trying to fulfill their responsibility of being a good parent end up being so consumed by it that they themselves are made almost useless for ministry themselves. Almost as if they’re hiding from ministry behind their children saying, “Well, it’s too late for me. I’m too overwhelmed to minister now, but I’m raising up godly children who will be able to do what I couldn’t.” Putting off their own responsibility of ministry on someone else, as if expecting their kids to make the sacrifices they weren’t willing to make.
[Of course that argument breaks down somewhat because a father still spends his time being a light at his job, may actually be full-time in the ministry, and does have some free time to minister, especially when his kids are older and out of the house. Still it’s an interesting point worth noting, and I do think there is truth to it.]
A: What could make more of an impact and be a testimony of Christianity than adoption.

I can’t think of a single good reason to have your own children instead of adopting.  You don’t know that that soul you’re bringing into existence will be saved, and if that soul you brought into eternity is damned for eternity it will be better if it had never been born.  If you want to raise up a godly legacy and leave behind salt in the world why not raise up the souls who are already in existence, already in eternity and soon to be judged, and who will go to Hell if you don’t adopt them?

“But adoption is so expensive!”
Then adopt from America.
I mean, in the U.S. they pay you to adopt! As is the case with being a foster parent. American adoption is less ideal because American orphans have infinite more resources and opportunities for life and salvation than 3rd world orphans, but there’s still a desperate need.  American orphans and foster kids are more likely to live broken adult lives after having broken childhoods, thus multiplying the slippery slope in America.  If you really wanted to “impact the degrading society” wouldn’t you try to fix it yourself instead of just leaving behind salt to take care of it?  Society is degrading at an exponential rate because the people who are degrading it are also having all these kids who will do the same (just in greater numbers now), and so on.  If you really cared so much about America then why wouldn’t you step in and stop the cycle?
Jesus never said be fruitful and multiply. No, he said take care of the widows and orphans for the end is near.

Here’s my question:
What good for society and the Great Commission does romance and sex produce?

I’m not against marriage, in fact I think that the greatest defense for marriage is the prospect of adoption (which wouldn’t be nearly as effective outside of marriage). But I am against procreation, and thus against sex. What greater temptation to have sex is there than marriage? Where suddenly satisfying your God-given desires and experiencing the single greatest physical euphoria of your life is not only legal, but encouraged. Of course I guess you don’t actually have to have sexual intercourse to satisfy your sexual desires, which is how it’d be with my marriage. But who would be up for that? I mean, sure, give up going out to eat, but SEX?!?!

To be married is to sleep in the same bed which is to inevitably have sex sub-consciously.  So if you don’t plan on having sex and thus don’t take birth control then you can’t sleep in the same bed or you’ll accidentally have sex while not fully awake, when you aren’t conscious enough to choose to restrict your body’s primal instinct.  So what are you going to do, be married yet sleep in separate beds or rooms?  I say there’s no point in even being married, you should just be engaged for life.  “This is my fiancee with a ring on her finger; she’s off limits.” And that’s it. (…a cheap ring of course.  ;))

Having such ideals as these make it seem marriage is not God’s will for me, or others with whom this essay resonates in their souls, and thus why torment yourself longing for the perfect mate that fits all of these requirements when it’s inconceivable aside from God’s sovereignty? Rather we are called to be content in our lives of sacrifice and obedience, longing for the Spirit alone, and if it’s God’s will to confound the improbability of a soul mate then it’s up to Him and He will do it in His time by His means, one way or another. I mean, it’s not like we’re celibates for ourselves, in spite of God’s real calling that we’re denying.  If we are celibate for ourselves, then we are in sin.

We are the ones who will discontinue our surnames, the dead ends of the family tree.

Nor let the eunuch say, “Behold, I am a dry tree.” 4 For thus says the LORD, “To the eunuchs who keep My sabbaths, And choose what pleases Me, And hold fast My covenant, 5 To them I will give in My house and within My walls a memorial, And a name better than that of sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name which will not be cut off.”  Isaiah 56:3

The Great Commission vs. The Great Omission
What is the sin of omission? It’s the sin of not doing something you were supposed to. In that sense, not feeding the starving keeps them starving. Not saving someone who is dying is murder. If you can’t afford foreign adoption but can afford reproduction/procreation then why not give that money to sponsor a child who needs it more?  Through Compassion International and other ministries you can pay to have a child get fed, clothed and shown love and the Gospel in a 3rd world country where they might not have any of those things otherwise. Why waste the resources they need by making a new soul? Why keep them out in the cold, starving, just so you can create a little you? The ultimate selfishness. Don’t you know that these people will either live or die by your choice to aid them or not?  When these people live on a dollar a day, you have the choice of going out to eat tonight or letting 10 people live another day, who will die if you don’t. That puts everything into perspective. Shouldn’t that be our whole life’s perspective? Sponsor 3 children for the price of your one hypothetical American, Christian one.

Let’s be liberal for a moment and assume that there are 50 million Christian couples in America right now. If each of those American couples adopted or even just sponsored one foreign child that would be 50 million people taken out of their dark, hopeless fate. If they each adopted 2 children that would be 100 million souls removed from the road to Hell and raised on the road to Heaven, with abounding opportunities for salvation and the personal examples to make those opportunities extremely persuasive. And it doesn’t just have to be Americans that adopt.

It’s a little haunting to note that of all the things God could teach man during his time on earth, one of the main things he stressed was the necessity of helping “the least of these.” His emphasis on this in Matthew 25 was so stern that he warned those who neglected this duty as being in danger of Hell.

//

 

Living Sacrifices: Celibacy, pt. 4 – Its Non-Biblical Incentives and Flaws

Filed under: Celibacy — milesprowers @ 10:04 pm
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OTHER, NON-SPIRITUAL REASONS FOR CELIBACY:

*You change. You lose your self, your identity, and your individuality and become more like someone else as the two become one flesh. Marriage makes it harder to be yourself and do what you love because you now have a responsibility to be what someone else wants you to be. Instead of being “you”(who you were your whole life) you suddenly become a “unit”. I can’t just hang out with you anymore, now I have to mess with red tape. And even then I have to hang out with you and some stranger I’m not as good of friends with. It will never be the same. All those good times can never be relived, because you’re too busy having good times behind closed doors that only one other person will get to experience.
*Your character is tamed/watered down. We’re all characters in this great story, and the cool characters are the ones who live on edge, who stand out. Would you rather be the independent, mysterious loner, or the domesticated softy anchored to a house, job, kids, and routine?  What is cooler, really?  James Dean who is a promiscuous ladies man sleeping around all the time?  Or the mysterious, virgin, loner James Dean who’s above the animalistic instinct of sex, and too cool for the mush of romance?  I say the latter, through and through.  Because he’s on a whole other plane (higher than the common, normal, predictable, natural plane) touching the divine.  A legend.  And more respectable, too.

-You only live once.  So in the great story of History, if you got one blurb to sum up your whole life would you rather be recorded as being a character like Isaac, who’s only real significance was his birth and death (legacy) through whom Abraham’s descendants would be blessed (whose life is little more than the dash on a tombstone between 2 dates, that dash mostly being summed up by family quarrels), or Elijah, the loner in the desert who pours out himself before God only to be filled by him and so see the supernatural first hand as it works through him while he stands before kings to rebuke them as ambassador of the King of kings.

– – Of course this is the stupidest argument in the whole essay, yet it still has some merit.  Isn’t it true that the most captivating, attractive men of the Bible are the prophets out in the wilderness?  The revolutionaries?  Of course being married doesn’t automatically mean you will be tied down and have kids, routine, etc.  It just makes it that much harder to be a living sacrifice, and it’s how the vast majority of marriages end up (not that those things are bad if they are what God called you to, and even then you are still called to be radical in that calling of marriage, parenthood, and routine, and not mediocre).  One thing’s for sure, in marriage the mediocrity of life is so much more tempting than in celibacy.
*Romance stinks, it complicates everything, makes it so you can’t really be good friends with the opposite sex, and when they’re married even more so. They’re off limits. It’s so exclusive and cut off, creates so much drama, and makes the most ordinary interactions with the opposite sex instantly permeating with paranoia and awkward tension.

FLAWS OF CELIBACY:

Of course celibacy has its own temptations and stumbling blocks.
When you think of a monk, what kind of sins would he be most likely to struggle with?
Well, if you’re alone most of the time, then the person you think about the most is yourself, because it’s the main person you “interact” with. It’s very good to have time to be still and meditate, analyzing yourself and how to serve God better, but it can also be dangerous.  Too much thinking can lead to depression, judgment, anger, perversion and insanity (what my Mom calls “morbid introspection”). If you’re so focused on yourself it’s inevitable that you become selfish, because there’s no one around to do anything else for or think about. It’s inevitable that you become over-analytical toward yourself which can make you depressed at still not doing all you can do for God. Also, in quiet seclusion it’s easier to desire what you don’t have/the things which are more obviously absent: the friends, romance, commotion, and fun you think everybody else is having right now, which makes you lonely and depressed. So you either jeopardize your convictions by indulging in those worldly things which will fill the emotional void in your life, or stick to your convictions and make yourself feel better by judging them for not sacrificing as much as you are for God’s kingdom and thus being in sin.

Judging
“This life of sacrifice sure is hard, but at least I’m doing the right thing, unlike everyone else who is sinning because they aren’t obeying God’s commands to the degree I am.” This is the case with the righteous man who thanks God he’s not like other men, and whom Jesus condemns in Luke 18. You have to assume what other people do or don’t do, though you really don’t know for sure what they’re going through or their attitude to God. Don’t get me wrong, it’s impossible not to judge and make assumptions as we go about daily life, and in fact Jesus actually tells us to judge righteously. But judging is perhaps the most sensitive issue out there, and if we venture into those waters we’d better be sure we’re living above reproach. We need to be so careful that we judge with the right motives and based on facts only, for those who judge are the ones in the cross-hairs of God’s judgement and the world’s. Who is more likely to be called a hypocrite, an adulterous, violent celebrity strung out on drugs or a preacher who told a lie?  Remember that when God was on Earth the people he rebuked were those set apart as holy, not the the average “lukewarm” Jews.

Do not judge so that you will not be judged. 2 For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. (Matthew 7)

When you take a stand and truly surrender your life to God, making sacrifices beyond what most Christians make, it’s hard not to notice the distinction between your ideals and the majority’s. And thus it’s hard not to compare yourself with them and be frustrated that other people aren’t sacrificing the same things you are. Here you are laying down your life, denying your selfish desires, and living on edge after the model set by Jesus and the apostles (whom every Christian should model their lives after), and everyone else in the church is buying whatever they want, indulging in their physical desires, wasting their time watching tv, and never mentioning Christ outside of church. All without it ever crossing their minds that they’re doing something wrong; they’re just going with the flow.

Pride
This judgment of course leads to the biggest sin of all, which is pride, so that in trying to surrender yourself to God the most, you end up surrendering to him the least. Pride is the worst sin because it puts yourself in the place of God, the very one you were trying to serve. So that even in your attempts to serve God you have selfish motives and put your own ambitions over those of others (whose ambitions might actually be what God would rather have you pursuing at the time than your own).
“O that these people would become true Christians like me and the apostles, think of how different the world would be!” And then inevitably it goes to, “How dare they live their lukewarm lives, never stopping to examine themselves, keeping the starving starving and the lost lost! Delaying Jesus’ return.  What evil people!” And of course there’s a lot of truth to this, but more importantly this is pride disguised as righteous indignation which leads to elitism, among other things.

Anger
Your pride hardens your heart making you arrogant and unable to see your own sins, so that you can only see the sins of other people. It’s the plank in your eye (sin in your own life) that blinds you from seeing the situation clearly, from seeing what you actually are (just another sinner and really no better than they). And in your one-way “righteous indignation” you get angry at the sins of others you perceive, since you can’t perceive your own (because they’re blocked from your view by the plank). If you could perceive your own then you would be mad at yours just as much as the other person’s (if not more since you know the full extent of your own, and it’s you who’s sinning (the only one you are responsible for and able to control). Not being proud allows you to gain an accurate perception of yourself which convicts you of your sins and pulls you down to the same level as the other sinner, thus cancelling out the anger altogether. Humility allows you to see things as they really are.

Seclusion>Self-Absorption>Selfishness>Elitism
… of course you’re probably thinking to yourself right now, “You’d have to be pretty self-absorbed to write a whole essay about your personal views on this subject.” Alas, so goes the curse of the artist, the best of whom isolate themselves with only their ideas so as to become immersed in them and thus manifest them to the best of their human ability. So I’m not so much opposed to self-absorption, nor do I equate it with selfishness. It’s just that you need to beware of going down that road which ends in elitism. You are so possessed by your masterpiece of ministry that will one day reach the world that you neglect your daily responsibilities. Drive down that road ignoring those stranded hitchhikers on the side, excusing it because it’s not your gift. “Let the one who has the calling of pulling off pull off.” You can’t help because it would only distract you from your real calling– which seems bad and convicting now, but one day when your ministry bears fruit your present decision will be justified.
But sometimes the most mundane of service in the present is just as good as the monumental milestone in the future. All God really wants us to do is to do his will right now, at the present, and all the time. To be faithful with the talent he’s currently entrusted to us until he reveals the next thing we’re supposed to do for him.

I used to be ignorant and think all those monks living as hermits in monasteries were in sin, not going outside to fulfill the Great Commission. But now I realize how critical they were in the advancement of Christianity. The Kingdom of Heaven needs people who will be set apart from the temptations of the world in isolation so that they can do those sacred acts of ministry which can only be done in such an environment. I’m talking about copying manuscripts and the like. That is the kind of ministry where you can’t take chances getting distracted or tempted by the outside world and really do have to be set apart from evil, having a clear conscience and clear mind focused on God.

Those kinds of ministries are few and have tangible ends when there will no longer be a need for most of them, and so ideally God would set apart only a minority for those sacred services until finished.  But that’s ideally-speaking. In reality there are so few people currently involved in them that the need is perhaps the greatest.  So we might as well assume that God has called everybody to that kind of work until it has been accomplished.  I specifically have things like foreign Bible translation in mind, which would probably result in a greater number of salvations currently than would evangelizing Americans, who could learn about Christianity any time they want.  Yet even so, Jesus’ general commands were for us to be in the world, but not of the world- spreading the Gospel by forming relationships with people, acts of service, and communicating the gospel out in the world. Be careful of hiding behind your ministry to give you an excuse for not helping someone in your path (the priest in Luke 10:31). That person would not be brought into your path in the first place unless God wanted them there; if God wanted you to be secluded he would keep them away from you. Unless it’s a special case where God has called you to a sacred ministry, you shouldn’t be afraid of getting dirty in the process of helping the tax collector’s and sinners right where they are; chances are the ministry you’re using to justify your isolationism actually isn’t as significant as the need you see right now.  Just like everything else in Christianity, the Great Commission is a balance. In order to reach sinners you’ll have to be around sin and thus run the risk of falling into it yourself. But a tainted evangelist is arguably better than a perfect hermit.

Perversion/Insanity
Nikola Tesla, the great inventor, suppressed his desires for romance and companionship so that he could focus on science, only to become deranged in the end and have those desires force themselves to the surface in a perverted way– in this case developing romantic feelings for a pigeon.
I think it’s common that in the case of a monk who separates himself from all temptations that those tempting desires force themselves back into your mind in one form or another. If you aren’t around women, then you’ll be tempted by whatever else is around you– in the monk’s case by other men, in Tesla’s case by an animal. Though it may sound absurd, anyone of us is capable of this given the right circumstances. As celibates we must acknowledge our tendency towards insanity and perversion more than the married person who has those temptations satisfied in romance/companionship and sex, and we must take the precautionary steps in preventing it.

Others would include:  
*Mooching
off people because you’re so obsessed with not spending your own money that you take advantage of others who you assume would spend it anyways and reason that it’s not hurting them if you take a little from their abundance.   “They shouldn’t be spending money on this, but since they do anyways they might as well give it to a good cause.  The least they could do is give some to me (since I don’t have any of it) which is ultimately giving to my ministry.” It’s kind of like taking from the rich to give to the poor, or designating people’s funds for them, because otherwise it would all be wasted on vanity.  As if you are more important than they because you are more obedient to God than they, which isn’t for you to think about.
*Becoming obsessed with people, because your deprivation from relationships or THE relationship (romance) makes you idolize the few relationships you do have.
___________________________________

But just as there are certain sins celibates are particularly prone to, there are certain sins that married people are particularly prone to (that a celibate wouldn’t struggle with). Such temptations from marriage would include: complacency in your comfort zone, chasing after the same things as the pagans/Joneses, materialism, idolatry (giving things priority over God), wasting time, etc.  All of these things can still tempt a monk, but he’s not as likely to give in as a married couple is; likewise a married couple will still be tempted by the monk’s temptations (judging, pride, anger, seclusion, selfishness, elitism, etc) in their own married manifestation.  For a celibate, the greatest temptations are the things he’s giving up, aka romantic companionship and sex. Likewise with the married, the greatest temptations are probably adultery and alone time to do what you want to do (independence), because those are the things you sacrifice when you get married.  In marriage the temptation is all the stronger to waste time by enjoying each other, which betters no one else in the world. And then you feel guilty when you do work by yourself on projects, etc, because you think you’re not upholding your duties as a spouse (which your sub-conscious mind tells you are to attend to your spouse at all times). And if the 2 of you can’t think of anything to do to spend time together and fulfill your marriage “obligations” then you just waste your time watching the television, which isn’t really time together anyways. Marriage tends to make null and void not one soul, but 2.

However, “celibate” or “married” should not be your main attribute. It is simply one of many attributes which collectively find their place in the background as your foundation, not your goal; they are just means of your ministry. No more than not being a liar should give you the label of a “Non-liar”. It’s just one of many disciplines of the Christian life; no more special just because some people don’t have it. The better off you are the sooner you forget about being celibate and focus on the Great Commission.

Also, I think one of the reasons for people struggling in the absence of romance is due to that being the norm of society, and there being such an emphasis on it in society. If the majority of society was celibate than it wouldn’t be anywhere close to the temptation it is today, because it wouldn’t be part of the culture. The reminder of your singleness wouldn’t be all around you, and thus it wouldn’t be on your mind to struggle against.  Just like most homosexuals today wouldn’t be homosexuals if they were living in the 50’s when homosexuality was an unspeakable sin that no one talked about, because they didn’t think about it enough for there to be a temptation.

Ultimately you are only responsible for yourself and can only control yourself, so therefore just worry about your own relationship with God, which still needs a lot of work. Maybe you are doing better than some people in an area, but they’re probably doing better than you in another. Who’s really to say which good deed or sin outweighs another? And you never know what a person has been through or is going through to justify that sin in their mind. All you can do is keep living out your own vision of how best to please God, hoping to inspire them to do the same (if it even is in fact God’s will for them to do it), and encourage them softly, in love, to surrender their whole lives to God (a lifelong process for every person) and take steps to get rid of what is keeping them from that surrender.//

 

Living Sacrifices: Celibacy, pt. 5 – Opponents, Proponents and Conclusion

Filed under: Celibacy — milesprowers @ 10:03 pm
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OPPONENTS:

Let’s face it.  Biblical examples of married couples (good ones) are scarce.  One of the only ones I can think of (and the only Christian one) is Priscilla and Aquila.  If a couple is committed to living the married life exemplified by this couple, then by all means be married!  Too bad Christians rarely found their marriage on the model of these two, and even rarer are the couples who follow through with those foundations. The temptations of comfort and security (that weren’t as magnified before marriage) are now just too hard to overcome.

J.S. Bach, who wrote more compositions than any other major composer. Not only was he married during all of his unprecedented career (composing more than 1200 compositions, each extremely more sophisticated than today’s pop song) but he managed to father 20 children throughout it all! If he could achieve that as a married man with 20 kids anyone can. Of course maybe he was a lousy husband and father who never spent time with his family. He eliminates any excuse of marriage keeping you from art, though I can’t fathom how he did it.

Toby McKeehan, whose lyric-writing and artistic/musical vision grew and arguably reached its pinnacle with the album Jesus Freak (in my opinion the greatest album ever made), which was inspired and created during the time period in which he met and married his wife. Although interesting to note that dc Talk member Mike Tait never married as far as I know.

PROPONENTS:

Jesus, John the Baptist, Paul, other apostles probably (at least the traveling apostles), also Philips’s virgin daughters (as if Philip took Paul’s advice to not give your daughters in marriage), and presumably many Old Testament prophets such as Elijah, Jeremiah, etc. I would assume the apostles who still weren’t married during Pentecost remained single being of the same mind and spirit of Paul. Likewise I doubt Timothy or the next generation would have married either, heeding Paul’s advice and assuming the end was near (and with the increasing persecution). But the only ones who were married were married before they were Christians, and I doubt they would have married after becoming Christians because in those days Christianity was a radical way of life; they weren’t living for the Earth anymore. I wonder how Peter’s wife fit in when Peter left everything to follow Jesus. Paul said for the married to live as though they weren’t, and Jesus Himself mentioned His followers leaving family, including wives, behind to follow Him. (Luke 18:29)

Here’s a list of several significant, extra-biblical people who were bachelors (whether by their own choice or not).  Some of these were in a relationship/married at some point in their lives, but not during the years that gave them a spot on this list. Of course there might be a greater number of significant married people, but this is just to encourage you that if you are celibate you’re in good company with some of the most influential people in history:
Beethoven
G.F. Handel (When King George II asked why he wasn’t married, he simply responded with: “I have no time for anything but music.”)
Nikola Tesla
Leonardo Da Vinci
Michelangelo
Soren Kierkegaard
Rich Mullins (engaged for 10 years before going celibate)
Gandhi (left his wife to become celibate)
Buddha (left his wife, child and luxurious life as a prince to seek the truth)
Descartes
Elizabeth I
C.S. Lewis
Augustine
Origen (who castrated himself)
Isaac Newton
Joan of Arc
Mother Teresa, and all the other Catholic nuns, monks, priests, bishops and popes.

It is true that many of the people on the list above lived celibate lives filled with struggles. Some fell into perversion or near insanity, others battled depression, and even Kierkegaard after deciding it was better not to marry supposedly could never completely get over his love for his ex-fiancee.

Soren Kierkegaard, who would later become the greatest Christian philosopher of the 19th Century, fell madly in love with a girl in his youth and the two became engaged. However, he had strong convictions about the Christianity of society becoming a mere part of their culture, and felt it his duty to reintroduce Christianity to Christendom. He knew this calling to be a philosophical activist conflicted with the responsibilities and baggage of the married life and so he came to a fork in the road, knowing he had to choose one life or the other. He chose the other.  That is, to sacrifice his overwhelming passions and instead live a life that focused solely on achieving a goal for the greater good of mankind.

And if you’ll allow me to use a non-Christian example, I’m reminded of the story Journey to The West in which the Bhodisattva, who after dying and going to the after-life, chose to refrain from entering into Nirvana (which is permanent) so as to help those still on the Other Side to find the way there. Likewise with celibacy we willfully choose to stay outside the temporary bliss of marriage for the sake of helping mankind toward the permanent bliss of Heaven.


CONCLUSION:

If you’re reading this right now and you’re offended, then I tell you plainly, as one who has been on both sides myself, you are in sin. You need to accept that people have different callings and different ways to fulfill them. Not everyone is created the same with the same gifts/weaknesses.

This I say for your own benefit; not to put a restraint upon you, but to promote what is appropriate and to secure undistracted devotion to the Lord.” 1 Cor. 7:35

I’m doing nothing different than Paul did, and I think that he too had the spirit of God.  I’m simply encouraging people to remain single until God first makes it clear you are to marry AND THEN supernaturally provides your companion also. Because if God has created every person for a specific ministry and gives them specific gifts so as to do that ministry as well as possible, what greater gift is there than their spouse? I think it is always God’s perfect will for us to reach as many people as possible. Though we might not see the direct fruit in our lifetime, if we are in the center of God’s will then on Judgement Day the final number of souls in Heaven will be greater than if we weren’t in the center of God’s will. We could go against God’s calling and see many people saved, but the final number on Judgement Day would be less than if we stayed true to him, trusting that he knows what’s best (even if it doesn’t seem best to us). And if a spouse will help you do that more than prevent it then God will raise up that perfect person he has chosen at that perfect time. So don’t worry. If you are committed to God and he doesn’t bring a spouse into your life it’s because the Kingdom of Heaven is better off without it.  Hallelujah.

Why is there such hostility and opposition to celibacy? Perhaps because it seems we’re threatening marriage in a time when it’s already rapidly disintegrating. But no one’s attacking marriage (as is explicitly condemned by Paul himself in 1 Tim 4). We’re just promoting celibacy. Marriage isn’t in jeopardy because of celibacy. It’s in jeopardy because it’s become more about emotion and less about commitment/discipline (something celibacy fights against on the extreme side of the spectrum). It’s better to never marry than marry the wrong person, than to be divorced.

2 major flaws in the modern church are:
1. Commission: Pitying/making a spectacle of people who desire to remain single, discouraging them as if it were heresy or immature, and not supporting their celibacy.
2. Omission: Not publicly advocating it as an option for everyone to be aware of and consider.

I know it’s not popular, for obvious reasons, but I believe the ideal life is the life of sacrifice. You sacrifice everything you’ve been given: your time, talent, and treasure.  You sacrifice your comfort and pleasures (vanity).  You sacrifice your health, relationships and job (necessity).  You even sacrifice your sins, weaknesses, worries, and doubts.  You ignore the staples/milestones of the human life (youth, marriage, sex, parenthood, retirement), and then you die, preferably as a martyr. Sacrifice in life, sacrifice in death. Your life is altogether one big offering poured out on the altar, in modeling after our Christian examples who poured out their lives like a “drink offering”. (2 Tim. 4:6)

As Toby McKeehan wrote: Kamikaze, my death is gain. I’ve been marked by my Maker a peculiar display. The high and lofty, they see me as weak because I won’t live and die for the [same] power they seek.

I realize this is a lot of talk and I can’t expect people or myself to live up to this (perfectly), but regardless, this is the way I think it’s meant to be, what makes sense, and what we should strive for.

PERSONAL TAKE:

As if this all wasn’t my personal take already, right? My personal reasons for celibacy are myriad, but even so sometimes I toy with the hypothetical notion of a marriage that would fit with my convictions. I don’t see any flaw to living with a companion to keep me company, keep me accountable, and know me/love me on a more intimate level no friend could, in fact that would be better. But there are also many temptations/distractions that wouldn’t exist except in marriage: sex, romance itself, conviction of not spending time with spouse, etc. And these are such powerful distractions to make the whole thing not worth it, or likely to keep you from making the biggest impact possible.

I also freely confess to having a lot of “pet peeves” that make the stereotypical woman extremely unattractive to me, but most men wouldn’t be phased by– things like dress and the way they act. Things like cosmetics absolutely gross me out, but those deterrents would generally be considered abnormalities on my part (though maybe it should be more normal, as Paul and Peter both condemn such things in 1 Tim 2:9 & 1 Peter 3:3). And I also concede to being an eccentric person with a sensitive mind and a weak stomach, which makes celibacy the more tenable option of the two.

Perhaps my call to celibacy isn’t so much celibacy for the sake of celibacy, but rather celibacy because the kind of woman I WOULD marry is unlikely to exist. That is, who would agree with my “radical” beliefs, and who would be okay with me spending most of my time in solitude writing. If I plan on spending all of my free time in solitude pursuing my artistic projects, what’s the point of marriage? What void will marriage fill that friends and family can’t? Weakness isn’t a good reason to get married, it needs to be a benefit to a life/lives already complete in God.

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?Jeremiah. 17:9

And after all this if I get married people will think I’m a hypocrite, but I freely confess how tough it is to live by reason and the spirit, resisting temptation and my built-in desires.   All I know is that romance is blinding and a remarkably overwhelming, possessing force. Who can stand against it? All my logic can only slow it down and give me more chances to resist temptation and break free. Celibacy has to be something that God sustains because I’m not strong enough to withstand the lure of romance. But He does. It’s amazing because every single time I’ve fallen in love God always closes the door somehow before the relationship can be established. It’s supernatural, and I praise God for it looking back, though at the time it’s always painful.
I just pray that God has mercy on my heart and doesn’t let me screw up, being taken by romance so as to jeopardize my calling. But I know he won’t, and he will make me fit the character in His Story perfectly, whatever that may be.

I have nothing that you have not given me. I am nothing that you have not made me. Everything that I have or am is by your choice alone, your grace. Therefore all we can do is give it back to you with everything we are, as one giant sacrifice. For we are ourselves sacrifices. Living sacrifices. (Romans 12)

//

 

How To Overcome Lust November 8, 2011

Filed under: Celibacy — milesprowers @ 10:37 am
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[Written especially on 8178, 62511, 112311 as stemming from Living Sacrifices: Celibacy, pt. 1, and finishing additions on 224-2513]

*DISCLAIMER: The following essay is a completely honest look at how lust operates and how to overcome it, thus awkward, graphic, personal details are mentioned in exchange for helping people to break free.  It is written with an audience of single men in mind. I guess I picked now to finish this essay because I happen to be going through a lust-free time of my life and I feel less hypocritical posting it.*

  • Definition of lust: An extreme, excessive, indulgent desire for something.
  • My definition of lust: desiring that which you should not, will not, or cannot have.

Why is lust wrong?

1st because it makes you to suffer, as you are in agony desiring something which you cannot, or will not, or should not have.  Lust is similar to coveting and both are wrong for the same reasons.
2nd because it distracts you, divides your mind so that you can’t focus on God, life, etc.  It divides/distracts your heart so that you don’t have as much passion to do the things you are supposed to do, because you have passion for something else besides your calling (what you’re supposed to be doing) also.  Divided passions.  So that when you do what you’re called to do, your heart isn’t completely in it to make the best product, your mind isn’t completely in it to make it the best product (through analyzing how to make it really best).  You have 2 passions: one is fulfilled partially by completing a watered-down version of your calling; and the other one (the lust) isn’t fulfilled at all.  So what’s the point?
3rd because it’s pointless.  You desire something you cannot have so you never get it, you just waste your time and passion wanting it for the sake of wanting it.  There’s no point in entertaining your desires for something if you will not or should not ever get it.  Why not desire something you can have now and work to get it so that your desire is satisfied?  Think about something that will produce something to benefit God and others.
4th because it cannot be satisfied.  Lust is desiring something you cannot have.  So if you desire the unattainable your desire will never be satisfied because it will never be attained.  The more you think about it, the more you will want it and the more you will think about it.  The more you entertain it, the more you think about it and want it, so that it’s all the harder to suppress, all the harder to break free from, all the harder to regain complete focus (possibly ever again) or any focus at all.  All the harder to fulfill your calling as best you can, if at all.
5th because it makes you defenseless to temptation.  Desiring evil makes you more likely to actually do the evil which you desire, and if you do ever get what you desire, then you screwed up and have sinned.  Because the only reason what you’re doing is considered lust is because you are desiring something you should not (whether it is impossible, unprofitable, or abominable).  No one desires something simply for desiring it and then leaves it alone.  If I entertain fantasies of lust in my mind, that same state of mind exists in the real world so that my eyes look the same places they do in my mind, when given the opportunities to.  And if my desires make me, in my thoughts, do things I shouldn’t, when Evil presents those opportunities in reality I will be all the more likely to give in to those same temptations I already gave into in my mind.  I’m at least more likely than if I already resisted those temptations in my mind and have set my mind against entertaining those thoughts and the actions that follow.  The more you give into lust, the more you want it, the more it controls you, and so the less you can resist it.  You cannot logically reason with your desires when your mind isn’t sober (intoxicated from being under the influence of your physical desires).  You cannot control your desires when they control you.

Lust: Desiring that which is impossible, unprofitable, or abominable.

Why is lust wrong?
1: Pointless
2: Insatiable
3: Suffering
4: Distraction
5: Defenseless

or P.I.S.D.D. (perhaps in order of severity)

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Abstaining from entertaining your body’s natural sex drive seems unfair at times, especially because it’s like you have an “intense euphoria button” on your body right next to where your hand naturally lies, but you’re not supposed to press it.  It’s like taking someone whose favorite food is chocolate and putting a piece of it in their mouth and telling them not to eat it.

I used to think (as most men do) that living a lust-free life is not possible, it’s just part of a man’s daily life.  And I freely confess that I still struggle against my day dreams and wandering eyes (sometimes giving in), but I also confess that I know what it’s like to be broken free from the bondage of lust, and it’s so much better than any temporary ecstasy that has such addictive baggage.  I can only speak for myself, but in my own life, solely by God’s amazing grace, he chose at 3 different times to keep me from lust for over 6 months.  By that I’m not saying that I didn’t have sex, make out, look at porn, or masturbate in those allotments of time, what I’m saying is I never even entertained a lustful temptation in my head nor was I sexually stimulated once.  I could get into the specifics of this topic, but even in such a personal essay as this there are still some things too personal for the internet.  I’m hesitant to even share that lest I be judged as being prideful.  And actually it’s to my shame that I’m even astonished at those streaks, because I should be lust-free all the time, and also because it means I’m comparing myself to others.  But I share this for the sake of telling you firsthand from experience that, in a society where Christians don’t think it’s possible not to lust, it IS possible to live a life where you don’t give into lust.

I remember those days well when I was so consumed with lust that my eyes would glaze over and I couldn’t even see straight (literally/physically-speaking) and I’d almost get in car-wrecks my thoughts were so distractingly powerful and vivid.  But lust is an addiction, and just like any other addiction it needs to be fed more and more to get the same buzz until finally it’s so powerful that it rules you and there’s absolutely nothing you can do to stop.  I’ve been there and I’ve found that after many failed attempts to get rid of the addiction the only thing I can do is fall to my knees and cry, “God, be merciful to me a sinner.” That’s when God gives you just a spark of motivation to break free, and at that moment you have the choice of staying on that road of addiction (to whatever danger it leads) or turning around and starting on the road to freedom. However hard it is, it’s at least possible (whereas before it was impossible).  In that moment your choice will determine your future.  If you act on that little bit of motivation then more motivation will follow, which leads to more and more motivation, until finally you arrive at the place where resisting lust is natural and you don’t have to actively fight against it.  Lust is something you will be tempted by and must fight against every single day of your whole life, but you can get to a place (by God’s grace) where you genuinely don’t want it and constantly rejecting it is just another part of life.

Quicksand:

Lust reminds me of quicksand (though the analogy breaks down in many aspects).  You’re caught off guard by it, and give in just a little thinking it’s not a big deal, and then you give in again (more so than the first time), and ever so slowly you start sinking, getting deeper and deeper in it.  Where at first you have enough free will and control to choose to get out of it, eventually the fight to get out is too hard and exhausting.  Maybe one day you’ll be motivated to fight against it, and you’ll start breaking free, but the next day you’re too tired and sink back where you were before.  Then, realizing your dangerous situation, you’ll be motivated to fight it, but you can’t even make it a day now.  Finally you get to the point where you realize you are too far gone to get out now and just give up.  Still you are in greater pain now than you ever were before and want out, but realizing you can’t fight it any more, realizing your ultimate depravity, all you can do is cry out to God to save you.  It’s then when you give up that you start to float to the top.  God throws you down a rope that you can choose to grab on to, and while almost impossible at first (though not impossible), every small pull you take in the right direction is one easier step out, until it becomes easier and easier and finally, by the grace of God, you get to the top. However, on your way out if you stop climbing even once, you start to sink back down.  Even when you are at the top, as soon as you stop fighting you start gradually, ever so slowly, sinking back down again. I don’t think you ever get out completely in your whole life, but you can be on top where you aren’t sinking, fighting it is easier, and it’s tug on you is less powerful.

This analogy is the same for any form of addiction, be it alcohol, drugs, food, sexuality, etc.

Getting Past The Breakers:

From personal experience I found that once I reach my depravity (when I become a slave to lust) and cry out to God from the bottom, I wake up the next morning with a strange feeling of stability and an active desire to fight against lust.  While it is still at every corner, behind every thought, now I suddenly have the desire (and ability) to say “No!” and so begins the fight of not giving in to even one thought (lest I fall back to the bottom, as is the case with any addiction). The first day is the hardest, and then the second is a little easier, and the third easier still, until you’re ecstatic and begin to taste freedom.  Approximately a month down that road is the second biggest challenge, for this is when you start to say to yourself, “I’ve got it nipped in the bud.”  It’s then that your guard is down and that whole month’s worth of suppressed desires comes back in one last desperate attempt to reclaim you.  And since you let your guard down you don’t have the motivation/barriers needed to fight against it and you inevitably give into it that one time and BAM! you’re back on the bottom, depraved and enslaved again.
There have been so many times when I made it to that one month mark and started to entertain some pride (as if I had anything to with it) and then out of nowhere got ambushed by a temptation I couldn’t resist, and had no defense against its offense.
The keys to freedom are:
1.  Recognize that it is merely by God’s grace that you have the motivation to fight against lust (as if you could choose when to be motivated).
2.  Resist every single lustful thought, and even thoughts that are associated with/could become lustful thoughts.  Thinking about sex isn’t lust, desiring it is. But thinking about sex can easily present you with the thought of desiring it.  I’ve boiled it down as far as I can and realized that the road to sexual bondage begins the very first time you’re presented with a mental temptation, and you think “Yes” instead of “No.”  Basically, it’s the first time you desire it, saying, “I want it,” instead of “I don’t want it.”
3.  Curiosity = Lust.  Kill your curiosity and you kill lust.  “I’m not going to check her out, but I’m just curious to see what she is wearing.”  Or you think, “Is she really wearing that in church?” and your eyes go over and then the image is in your head. You need to get to the point where you don’t even look to see if that image in the corner of your eye (whether that be a real person or an internet ad) is an attractive female or not.

Yes, this means you might have to be a jerk at times.  I personally don’t even look at attractive women if I don’t have to, even if that means walking by one on the sidewalk and rudely checking my phone or looking the other way.  But better to be a jerk than a pervert, as I always say.  I personally try to stay away from women in general as much as I can, unfortunately that isn’t an option for many men, and you have to be around temptation in your life.  So your struggle is probably greater than my own.  But I do still have to go to church once a week, and I wish I could say that church is a safe haven from temptation, but unfortunately it’s the opposite.  I find that that’s the time I’m most tempted all week (and often results in me stumbling later).  One thing’s for sure: there’s more cleavage in my church than in my office.  What are these girls thinking?  Who tries to be sexy at church?  How can they not realize they are causing other Christians to sin in the one place that should be a refuge from sin.

Sundry Advice:

Not to compare myself with others, but I assume I struggle with lust less than the majority of Christian males.  This is probably because my interaction with females is only a few times a week, if at all, and I don’t watch tv, movies, play video games, surf the web, watch random youtube videos or engage in other situations usually designed to stimulate one’s sexuality. And as ridiculous as it may sound, I think things like wearing boxers (as opposed to boxer-briefs) make it more likely for stimulation to occur.

I don’t know the science behind it, but I’d imagine that certain foods make your sex drive more active.  As well, I know from personal experience that if you are sleep deprived, your mind isn’t as alert and you are less likely to be on guard and remember how to combat temptations.

“Go to the Praying Mantis thou whoremonger and consider her ways!”

One more analogy from nature.  Consider the praying mantis.  After the male and female copulate it is customary for the female to… bite off the male’s head.  Hmmmmm.  What’s up with that, Darwin?  I wonder why the males go in for it, knowing that it will cost their lives.  Is it really worth it?  A few minutes of ecstasy for an eternity of not living anymore?  It seems so foolish and outrageous…until you consider that human males aren’t much different.  Consider the people involved in sexual promiscuity and homosexuality, even though they know it’s likely they’ll contract AIDS (which is arguably worse than getting your head bitten off).

If someone came up to you and said, “Come over here and be still while I stab you with this butcher knife,” no one would obey.  But if a supermodel came up to you and said, “Come over here and have sex with me… and then I’m going to stab you with a butcher knife,” you might at least think it over.  Why is that?  What is so powerful about this non-material thing that people would risk pain for it?  “Hmmmmm,” some might say.  “Is it just one stab?”  And honestly, as outlandish as it sounds, I wonder if some men are so lost in lust that they would actually do it.  Maybe they’d say, “I’ll get away before I get caught,” or maybe even, “I’ll heal.”  Still there are some sad souls who wouldn’t even think at all saying, “Oh well.  Whatever.”  Wake up!  You’re getting stabbed with a flippin’ butcher knife!  Look at the reality of the situation!

Likewise, though on a less extreme level, are the few exciting minutes of giving in to lust or porn or masturbation worth the ensuing misery of slavery that follows?
Giving In:

For me personally, the only unavoidable situation for lust (also where it’s most contagious) is the beach where I go for a week annually.  Often it has been my goal to go a whole week there lust-free, but it has yet to happen.  And many times the beach week has marked the end of one of my lust-free streaks. I recall one year where I was passionately motivated to remain free from lust, but after the first day of being in the sun with bikini girls all around (and remaining pure), all I could do was just lay in bed at night fighting the thoughts and I eventually just got tired and threw all conviction to the wind letting my eyes and mind go crazy that week.  However, that initial motivation for purity was bred out of recently breaking free from a cycle of lust, and unfortunately I wasn’t far along enough in my purity.  The barriers hadn’t had time to be fortified enough, and so my defenses were easier to break down.  Whereas if I’d gone a month or 2 without lusting, it would have been harder for me to go back to that lustful mindset, and taken more time to break down my defenses.

However, even when I wasn’t struggling with wandering eyes at the beach, I found that one of the biggest stumbling blocks is boredom.  After a day or 2 of swimming in the ocean and being in awe by it, it just gets boring.  When you have to choose between being pure and sitting around bored, or easily giving in to the orgasmic world all around you which is instantly exciting and euphoric, now that’s a tough one.

I’m pretty sure every time my lust-free-streak was broken it had nothing to do with media, but was a time when I was presented with a temptation in real life and thought to myself, “This is just too go to pass up.”  If you ever catch yourself thinking that then your are doomed.  Good bye freedom, hello months of miserable bondage.  Once you give in to look one time, your sex drive sparks and everything in you wants to grow that euphoria as much as it will go (if nothing else for curiosity’s sake), and once the image is in your head it doesn’t matter if she’s not even around anymore, she’s still there in your head tempting you.  And once the sex drive gets going, there’s no way to righteously satisfy that.

This usually entails me going about my daily, pure life and then suddenly seeing a random, gorgeous girl with a revealing top bend over right in front of me so I can see everything.  Then I have to force my eyes away, and then keep them away.  That’s tough.  That very situation is was what ended my streak on a mission trip I was on, and then another time at a bowling alley.  And the months that followed were months of slavery.

Fighting the thought before it’s in your head:

As soon as you start to think “What if…” you must recognize what’s coming and rebuke that thought.  This is very hard to do when lust is something your mind and heart are used to, but if you go several weeks or so of cutting out lust from your system, you’ll be amazed at how much control over your mind you suddenly have.  It’s amazing to find that you can actually tell when a lustful thought is coming before it even pops in your head.  It’s like your body detects some foreign feeling stirring that it’s not used to.  You can just feel it, and you have to fight it right then, before you visualize it/think about it, while it’s still just a feeling.  It’s like you can feel a thought forming, or leading to another thought, or you can feel your tendencies kicking in.  Sometimes you feel a tendency towards lust in a primal, physical desire form, or sometimes a tendency towards rebellion/breaking the rules/doing whatever you want/being wild. Sometimes you can feel a tendency towards thinking about something you’re not supposed to and then your mind races to think of something you consider taboo (once it realizes it’s trying to think of something considered forbidden it’s very hard to stop it from finding something forbidden, as your brain is designed to automatically connect the dots).  I find what helps is when I feel a sinful thought coming (before it’s even visualized) I close my eyes and focus on God, like I’m focusing my attention on another person, and dwell on the holy thought of him or ask him to rebuke this coming evil.  And still other times you can feel a tendency towards apathy (not being willing to fight whatever thought pops into your mind).  It’s those times of apathy when you are in trouble and you have to recognize your potential danger, and even though you aren’t feeling it with your heart (which is what makes it apathy), cry out for help to God with your mind (though there’s no heart behind your prayer).
I can’t speak for other addictions, but I assume the addiction of sexual lust sums up addiction/lust as a whole.  It’s easy to become indignant toward people who smoke/do drugs/drink/fornicate, etc.  But the truth is when you’re addicted you do not have the choice of “Am I going to do this or not?”  You just do it. There’s no reasoning behind it, no logic.  You’ll have spurts of motivation and conviction that make you realize what you’re doing is wrong and then you try to fight it.  You’re convinced by all the logic against it and say, “I refuse to do that again.  Now I’m going to start fighting it.”  Until 5 minutes later when the temptation inevitably pops into your head and you have no way to fight against it, so you give into it yet again.  It’s become a part of your life like eating or even breathing.  Even when you’re not actually engaged in the activity you’re addicted to you’re thinking about it.  All the day.  All the time.  It is pure misery. Torture.
It gets to the point where it doesn’t even bring you any buzz or relief, but you just have to do it to get it out of your system, so you can get back to living life with at least some normalcy and being able to focus on things other than the addiction for a while.  While I can’t speak for other addictions, I have experienced the addiction-to-freedom cycle of lust, and I assume that the same steps involved in breaking free from the addiction of lust are similar to breaking free from any other addiction (even anxiety, romance, etc.).

“Lust neutralizes your spiritual potential.”
Some advice, as was advised to me by one of my spiritual accountability partners: “Don’t set goals in being lust-free.  Focus on right now.”  Someone told me once he heard if you can go 21 days without giving into your addiction you’ll be broken free, and yet he could never make it to that.  But even if you make it past the breakers (as I mentioned previously about the first month of breaking free), all it takes is one day and you’re back to the very bottom.  Sometimes it’s more gradual than that, but all it takes is that one thought you subconsciously give in to because your defense was let down/worn down, and then from there on it’s harder to resist each thought after that.  Don’t say, “Oh, if I can only make it past the breakers of a month,” or “Let’s see how long this lust-free-streak can go.”  It’s not about going a long time without lust; it’s about fighting it moment by moment, day to day, so that it becomes just another daily discipline.

I find that whenever I start counting/trying to figure out how many days/months I’ve gone without it that I start to lose my endurance and motivation to fight anymore.  And of course I give in again, sometimes after months of being free.  Maybe embracing pride causes you to rest (letting your guard down) and psychologically relaxes your defenses to make you more apathetic, or maybe it’s just a rule God holds you to, “Pride comes before a fall.  God hates pride, so if you have pride, he will bring you down.”

The story that often comes to my mind, whenever I number “my” achievements, is when King David numbered the people in his kingdom (Israel).  Though he wasn’t doing anything that was obviously wrong or breaking some clear command, he was acting in pride, taking credit for something God did.  And God surprisingly took a great offense to it (and proceeded to slaughter thousands of random Israelites until he repented).  Then again pride is commonly regarded as the worst of all sins (because it puts us in God’s place), as was Lucifer’s sin that got him kicked out of Heaven and made him the prince of darkness, the personal symbol of Pride.

My Current Status:
As of right now, by God’s grace (and I say this cautiously lest I get smacked back down to addiction in order to humble my pride, as has happened before), I am not ruled by addiction.  Whenever I get to these times I think back to when I was living a life of bondage and some of the things I thought and did, and I’m appalled and can’t fathom how I could ever come to that place where I’m numbed to the point of justifying doing those things.  And I can’t imagine ever doing them again.  And yet inevitably I always fall back into it, and gradually as the addiction takes over more and more of me and becomes a regular part of my life for an extended period of time, then in those times of bondage I’ll think back to when I was free and it doesn’t seem real to me (just like when I was in freedom looking back on bondage that didn’t seem real), because I can’t imagine life being like that, being any other way than this.  And in both of those scenarios (freedom and bondage) I think to myself, this is the norm and accept it.

My current strategy for avoiding lust is to simply not think about sex or lust or how long my lust streak has been, etc.  Don’t even entertain anything that could be associated with lust, or give it the time of day.  When I drive down the road or check emails and see what looks like it could be a sexual ad I don’t even find out, but distract myself from it, scroll past it, squint my eyes and cover that part of the screen.  Some of you might think this post is excessive or over-hyped, but say what you want, one thing’s for sure: I’m living the sweet life of freedom from bondage.  And while this advice may be extreme (and not as applicable to men in a steady relationship), I think extreme measures need to be taken to break an addiction (though those same measures may not have to remain as extreme to maintain freedom after the addiction is initially broken).  But if taking ridiculous steps is what I need to do to remain free I’m more than happy to do it.  At least until the beach.  😉
Praying_Mantis_Sexual_Cannibalism_European-26

 

Let’s Get Radical! (aka devout) December 9, 2010

[DISCLAIMER: the views hereby expressed were done so in an unstable frame of mind and thus are not necessarily the currently held views of the author (hence being pushed to the end of the blog); nevertheless, enough interesting points were made to merit putting its entirety on display for the world.  Perhaps you should consider reading this like one of David’s more pessimistic psalms.  Written between 1/12/10 and 2/16/10, with edits on 12/9/12]

For some reason I actually feel pretty good right now and at peace and happy, because there is the Basia song “Promises” playing in my head.  But nonetheless I’m writing this because the rest of the day up to now I was in misery, struggling with depression and instability of mind, the result of not being able to stop analyzing or not controlling my thoughts and emotions.  So at the risk of losing this rare, good feeling, I think the thoughts I was thinking today were very interesting and worth recording.

Allow me to ask a possibly heretical question:  Is Basia more powerful than God?  I beg and plead with God to give me peace inside, and focus on Him and to stop being depressed and longing and to stop thinking so deeply which always ends up making me depressed, longing, full of self-pity (which is always the thing that leads to near tears), and really to just stop thinking in general and just be happy to be alive….but nothing happens.  The thoughts and analyzing keep going, completely out of my control and inevitably my thoughts and emotions get worse and worse until I can’t even work at my job, and I get closer to hysteria.  But then I think about Basia and all of the sudden when her songs play in my head, everything I had been feeling the whole day instantly vanishes with 0 traces and I feel happy all of the sudden.  What’s up with that?   It was like that yesterday when listening to Basia’s cd for the first time put me on such a high.  Sure God could be using Basia to give me peace…but Basia shouldn’t be what fills my void, and that’s so superficial!  I need (and am asking) God to fill my void.  I have absolutely no control over my emotions and mind, so God is going to have to take control, because he’s the only one who has control.  Yeah this is probably a spiritual attack, but it’s so hard and I get so worn out to the point I am in now where I’m tired of dealing with this and fighting and so I say to God, “God, I’m done fighting.  You’re the only one who can save me and heal me, but you have to fight for me.  You have to show up.  Otherwise, if you don’t, I will be destroyed.”

It’s mind-blowingly amazing how someone like me, who was so happy and encouraging all the time in college (and people recognized that about me) could be so constantly miserable now.  What makes me feel even worse about this is that I realized recently that I am in the top 1% most blessed of the world.  I am living in the most prosperous country on planet Earth.  And I am living in the most prosperous part of the most prosperous country on Earth, so I am living in the single most prosperous and richest part of Planet Earth!  Not only that, it gets better.  I am a Christian, white, wealthy, American male.  I am in the top of the top of the world.  And not only am I a Christian, this is not to be seen as bragging, but I am blessed enough by the grace of God to be a devout Christian who truly wants to do God’s will and is willing to sacrifice anything in order to do that.  It’s hard to say, but I am definitely in the group of the top 1 million most blessed earthlings, but maybe even top 100,000?  !!!  And yet despite that, or maybe because of that, I am miserable…

I am a man most miserable.  My great learning has driven me insane.

When I told one of my friends about my misery he said he was praying for me to be happy.  I thanked him politely for his prayers, but thought to myself, “What a foolish, superficial thing to pray for!  God hasn’t called us to be happy, he’s called us to sacrifice our lives (the result often being suffering).”  After all, we are the scum of the earth, refuse on a hill.  Our role-model was known as the Suffering Servant.  But this is what I have come to realize:  following Christ’s example should make you happy and true happiness is following Christ truly.  And further, if you do not have happiness you don’t have the motivation to live as a sacrifice (which takes lots and lots of motivation).  If you don’t have motivation than you will definitely not be a living sacrifice like you are called to.  I realize that now.

————

Another thing that amazes me is that after spending 3 years being hardcore about celibacy, to the point that I looked down on people in relationships and thought they were living in sin, God broke me down with depression showing me that perhaps I myself, even I the main advocate of celibacy, couldn’t handle a life of solitude after all.  I was forced to be open to the possibility of companionship, and through this opening of my heart God broke me down further by forcing me against my will to fall into romance.  This romance was logically not God’s will, and yet it was so enticing that it possessed me to the point of near hysteria that pushed me out of my self-conscious zone and I addressed the issue.  Something I would never do normally, but I was in such agony that I needed it to end one way or the other.  God’s clear and obvious will, which seemed realistic and logical the whole time, was confirmed and I was shut down.  I concluded that God had used this to break me down and show me that people in relationships were not in sin, that people were not created for lives of solitude, but were created for companionship.  And so I sympathized with them…for a while.  And now we get to where I am now, where I am still not over the romance, even after it being confirmed that it’s not God’s will, which I knew all along.  So now I am in an absolutely pathetic state of wretched misery, knowing it’s not God’s will but my heart still wanting it, though my mind doesn’t want it.  But the possibility of “What if…” keeps the longing of romance alive.  And now, out of nowhere, for no reason at all, my feelings of indignation towards them returned and I am bitter and frustrated with people in relationships as not being in the will of God and not truly wanting to do God’s will, not being truly surrendered (only a few months after being broken down in that very area).  And all of this has logical, biblical evidence to back it up.  And I really don’t care about any of it, but I am in the back seat being torn this way and that way in a war between my differing views of the heart (which is not me) and my mind (or minds) which is/are not me.  I have no control over this, but I am in pain.  I don’t know what’s going on and can’t figure it out.  All I can do is wallow in my agony and be confused and ignorant, walking around like a zombie all day, as my mind (or whatever it is) has taken me hostage and my soul just sits there waiting and praying for God to end it.

[1/27/10- I don’t know if we have free will or not, but one thing I do know:  even if we don’t, we still feel pain.  Even if people don’t make decisions in this life they will still feel the pain that results from the consequences of those decisions.  So has God really created most of the people on earth just for the sake of them feeling pain forever?  If that’s true then God is evil.  There is nothing more evil than bringing someone to life just so they can be in extreme pain forever.  Yet God has declared Himself righteous AND just.  And since it’s not fair for people to live these short lives in a culture of darkness, ignorance and confusion only to be damned for all eternity for the crimes they committed in their short, confusing life span, in order for God to truly be just, either He will provide every single Hell-bound soul a perfect opportunity to be saved from Hell (in this life or the next) or Hell isn’t as bad as people assume from the limited scripture on it.  Perhaps the lake of fire is only for the Devil and his minions, and perhaps Abraham’s Bosom (“Paradise”) is part of Hell/Sheol, and still the destination of righteous unbelievers just as it always was before Christ’s death.  But regardless, we cannot make any assumptions or treat speculation as dogma.  All we can do is recite what has been given to us from divine revelation (the only source of truth from the only one who really knows).  Therefore anyone who preaches anything other than a Hell of darkness and fire for everyone who doesn’t accept Jesus’ atonement is out of line, because it’s all we know.]

I’m not supposed to judge others and any time I feel indignant and frustrated with others I instantly feel sick in my head and depressed and full of self-pity over the whole situation of myself judging them.  But there’s nothing I can do to stop it.  I am defenseless.  But it’s hard for me to not assume that they aren’t in God’s will when they don’t show signs of surrender, but instead show signs of going with the flow of the world.  This is how it seems to me and so based on my observations I assume.  My assumptions lead to judgment and that leads to frustration and the desire to rebuke.  I think the modern church as it seems to me is in the wrong.  Because I don’t see Christians really living the sacrificial lives of surrender they should be living.  I see Christians going with the flow of America, trapped in the America illusion, pursuing the American Dream just enough that it doesn’t push their Christianity out of bounds.  Christians go with the flow of the world: you are born, go to school, get a job, get married, have kids, have grand kids, retire and die.  The “good Christians” go to church every Sunday, maybe read their bible and pray every day, maybe are a light at their work, maybe a light to their neighbors, maybe they will lead someone to Christ in their lifetimes…but maybe not.  (2/16/10- Just like Jesus’ parable of the talents, Christians today take their talent of salvation and simply bury it.  They keep it, but don’t do anything significant with it so that their lives don’t make much of an impact (their gift of salvation doesn’t multiply), which Jesus harshly rebukes.)
But I feel God has called us to live a life like we are going to die tomorrow.  If we truly are living a life like this then how can we afford to get married, have kids, get stuck in a job, and die on a deathbed when our life and death should be used to make the biggest impact possible.

———–

In the Old Testament God commanded us to “be fruitful and multiply” but in the New Age of the New Covenant Jesus told us whoever can be a eunuch should be a eunuch.  In the beginning, when the earth was empty, God told us to populate the Earth, but it’s not the beginning anymore and the Earth is more than populated; it’s the end and we need to live like it.  Paul said we should remain unmarried if we were still unmarried, because the end was near and we needed to have undivided passions.  But instead I see a church that says “Everyone is supposed to be married except the few who God has specifically called to remain single.”  Still the Bible seems to say “Everyone is supposed to remain unmarried except for the few who God has specifically called to be married.”
So I don’t have a problem with people being married, but I do have a problem with people not even considering celibacy, or being willing to remain unmarried.  This is what frustrates me.  I don’t see this, and so I don’t see how the modern church can possibly be in the right on this subject.  It seems like the modern church doesn’t emphasize us truly living lives of sacrifice and surrender.  It’s like we’re supposed to be surrendered in our finances by giving more than the world does, when in reality true surrender is giving everything we have to God.  And so I believe that every single Christian should only take in the money they need to survive on the bare necessities, and any money spent on vanities or materialism is essentially keeping money from people who need it more than we, and thus killing them.  Therefore the modern church is a lot of murders, by the sin of omission.
Further, while marriage can be justified, I don’t see how anyone can possibly justify procreation.  In the beginning God said, “Be fruitful and multiply” but in the end He said (in the New Testament), “Take care of the orphans and the widows.”  Jesus never advocated having children, nor did Paul, and both of them said it is better to remain unmarried.  The only ones who should be married are those who don’t have self-control over their bodies and basically are the weaker ones in the faith, who aren’t as devout.  Not that I’m bashing being the weaker brother, because some people’s calling is to have constant, intimate accountability and encouragement through companionship, and God created them with this weakness, needing companionship, which is to fulfill the purpose of their creation.  But as far as we know none of the apostles were married, except the ones who were married before being Christians [12013-  1 Cor 9:5 implies perhaps most apostles were married, but not Paul and Barnabas: “Do we not have a right to take along a believing wife, even as the rest of the apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas?  Or do only Barnabas and I not have a right to refrain from working?”].  It seems like it would have been the logical thing, based on early scripture, that all the early Christians would remain unmarried, who could help it.

If we are to take up The Bible on its command, we need to take care of the orphans by adopting them, and help the widows by adopting their children which they can’t support themselves.  Basically Jesus didn’t say “have children,” if anything he would have said “adopt children,” and if we are to be truly surrendered Christians, it is our duty to adopt.  But what do Christians do?  Instead of spending their time, money, love and resources on the orphans and widows, they bring new children into the world while the already existing orphans remain dying and Hell-bound.  They play God and bring new souls into existence.  Souls that can never stop existing, and souls that could possibly be sent to Hell forever and curse their parents for ever giving birth to them.  Of course orphans could still go to Hell, but the thing is you didn’t choose for them to come into being, so you can do your best to save them, and if they still go to Hell, so be it, you did all you can do.

————-

Besides accepting Christ’s atonement and being reborn spiritually, the two most significant things a human being in this life can do are give birth to a person and kill a person.  However, killing a person doesn’t take them out of existence, it just sends them into eternity with their current relationship with God fixed, all their sins on their head, and no more chances of redemption.  But giving birth to a person actually brings a soul into existence for the first time, therefore it is the single most powerful and significant thing a person can do.  It’s not a decision to be made based on someone wanting the joys of sex, parenthood, legacy, etc.  It’s not just having a kid, but it’s infinitely deeper than that.  It’s bringing a soul into existence for all eternity never to die.  Once you exist you can never unexist yourself.  Once you become alive, there is nothing you can possibly do to stop being alive.  Procreation is the single most important thing that can ever happen; don’t you think people should treat it like what it is?  But who does?  I don’t know one person who does.  When a person dies and is cast into Hell forever, they will curse their parents for all eternity for bringing them into existence.  After all, it’s not like they had any say in being born.

Instead the most important decision is reduced to a part of life.  One of many.  Just a part of the cycle.  Or at worst it is not a decision at all.  People have no self control and become like animals, possessed by primal, sexual desires.  People play around with it like a game trying to see how far they can get without becoming pregnant, and then it happens and they say, and I quote, “Oops…”  Woops!  We brought another soul into eternity to exist forever and ever and ever and probably go to Hell because we aren’t responsible parents in the area of sex, and so we probably won’t be responsible in raising a child to lead a God-fearing life either.

Because of this, above all my other reasons, I refuse to have children, even if it means castration, so be it.  Do I really believe this or am I just saying it?  (1/28-Yes, I really believe it even if castration is the price of affirming it.)  With something as important as the eternal existence of souls on the line I have no choice but to fight against it.

With that said, upon coming to this conclusion of refusing procreation I didn’t feel at peace with it.  And I wondered am I withholding this from God?  I felt like I had surrendered everything to God, but I asked myself, If God appeared to me right now and commanded me to have a child would I do it?  The answer was No, I wouldn’t.  And that bothered me, and it was then that I realized that in fact nothing happens aside from the will of God, and it’s not like I really have any power to create a soul or bring one into existence.  Only God can do that, so if I were to have a child it would be because God ultimately allowed it and in fact willed it to happen.  No soul exists just because of 2 irresponsible teenagers experimenting sexually and accidentally getting pregnant.

But my question is if you’re not going to have sex, then why get married at all?  Isn’t sex the real reason people get married?  Just like the bible says, it’s better to be unmarried, aka not have sex, aka not have kids.  I guess also people get married just to be with each other all the time, living in the same house without the condemnation of the church.  I refuse to have children which mean I refuse to have sex, so then what’s the point in marriage?  I’d rather just have a companion: more than friends, less than lovers.  And really that’s the thing that makes me even consider marriage:  companionship– having someone with you all the time who knows you intimately for who you are and loves you, in whom you find refuge and accountability and encouragement amidst the struggles of this cold, cruel, cursed world, a fellow child of God, 2 souls fighting the battle together and facing the mysteries of eternity together.  [2/3/10- Another being that you can be as intimate with as mentally, physically and spiritually possible.  They know everything about you and love you, and vice-versa.  The closest you can get to being another person.  While loneliness can be combated with friendship and family, those people can never be as intimate as a lover can be.)   And I have to admit secretly that that is the single most enticing thing on earth.  (And because of that intense attraction towards it I have to completely shut those thoughts out of my mind, lest I give in to the attraction even a little bit and then can’t get out without getting broken down- which is what happens every time, including very recently.  Even writing about it now there’s the potential of jeopardizing my mission by thinking of it, and yet I hope to record this feeling so that I can forget about it, but still have it written somewhere because it’s interesting.]  But isn’t that God?  Shouldn’t that person be God?  Shouldn’t God be the one that satisfies all those needs and fills the void in our life?  And yet God has created our bodies as being incomplete alone, like a puzzle piece made for another puzzle piece.  Or is that just the way we have been conditioned to think?  Can our loneliness be satisfied by friends and family?  Or just by the power and presence of God Himself?

————–

1/14/10- Apparently God is more powerful than Basia after all.  For now I feel at peace and a spirit of joy and contentment beyond all logic or rationality.  This just goes to prove that I have 0 control over my emotions and it is undeniably supernatural why I’m not depressed all of the sudden, as if God just decided to suddenly answer my prayer and change my heart.  I didn’t do anything to make this happen.  I pleaded with God for a long time, often to the point of nearing hysteria, that He would take it away and He wouldn’t, (1/27- my thorn in my flesh) but for some reason He did all of the sudden.  Whereas before I was depressed without companionship, now I really know, and logically feel sound, that I can’t be in a relationship now and I’m content with that, finally.

So I’m not controlling of other people and indignant, condemning of them for their convictions being less than mine, and being less analytical and “devout” as I am.  And I knew you can’t live like that anyways, even though I felt I was right I couldn’t be at peace with being frustrated with them.  I think the only thing you can do is try to encourage them in love to be better than the expectations and standards of the church.

————

Sometimes I get sick of constantly fighting temptations, and I get so tired of the trials of Christianity and the imperfections of this cursed world, and the mind games of God breaking us down and showing us things to the point that I just want to die.  (2/3/10- I want off this rock.)  I just want all of this to be over finally, and so I long for the ending of the world and the return of Christ to rule.  This feeling in turn turns to frustration with the apathy and mediocrity of the modern church that is ultimately pushing back the return of Christ by neglecting our call to fulfill the Great Commission by not truly sacrificing our lives and everything we have to advance the kingdom of God to the best of our abilities.
Just as Jesus said in Matthew 24:14:  “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.”

[2/3/10- of course that isn’t good motivation for evangelism– frustration, exhaustion, and disgust with the world and its trials and wanting the end to come.]

As it seems to me right now, I think the only people who shouldn’t be foreign missionaries are the people who are loaded and can do more good sponsoring orphans and missionaries, thus fulfilling the Great Commission as a sender.  Right now I’m sponsoring missionaries and orphans, but I’m not loaded so I think God’s will for me is to be a missionary, until the day comes when I become loaded, or can make more of an impact for the gospel in America (i.e. having a major band).

The truth is that every single thing you do affects the ultimate number of souls that will go to Heaven or Hell.

We have been called to be salt and light in a dark and bitter world.

————–

In the darkest of my mental wanderings I started to feel more respect for Osama Bin Laden than for the modern, American church.  While Bin Laden is a fool for being deceived into believing in an unjust, illogical religion like Islam, it is commendable that he believes it in its entirety as truly being the inerrant word of God and he follows it absolutely to the best of his ability, more than the rest of muslims, to the point that he would even lay down his life to obey it.

I believe that God will raise up a generation of celibates and living sacrifices to speed up the spreading of the gospel and thus hasten His return, and maybe He will use me to help this generation rise up.  Though right now with the current state of the church it seems unlikely, but God’s will is at work even now and nothing happens aside from the will of God.  If the American church as a whole is dying or at least slacking, it is because God allows it, otherwise He would change people’s hearts and break them down to the place of surrender they need to be to do his will.

I have had a harsh, critical, judgmental attitude towards the American church as a whole, including my best friends, and this attitude produces in me a feeling of bitterness, anger, frustration, and depression.  Surely anything that produces those side effects can’t be pleasing to God.  While I still stand beside my thoughts as being logical, I can’t justify being angry and judgmental towards anyone.  So I don’t know what to believe because these logical thoughts turn me away from a spirit of love, and surely God-sent beliefs should always produce symptoms of love, joy, peace and compassion.
1/28/10- And who am I to be judgmental of others anyways?  It’s not like I’m perfect.  So what if someone else spends money on video games, but then they go out and witness to people?  I don’t go out specifically to witness to people, even though I give my excess to the poor.  So who is a worse sinner?  One man obeys God in one area and another obeys in another area.  One man sins against God in one area and another sins in another area.  Until I’m perfect I can’t expect people to change.  But that still doesn’t mean that they should stay in their sin and that I shouldn’t encourage them to change.  We all have our own convictions, but it’s true some people should be more convicted than they are, and they’ve allowed the expectations of society to numb their convictions.

I am an idealist.  So I tend to believe that which is most ideal and seems to make the most sense as true.  But in reality, just because something is the most logical conclusion or most ideal doesn’t mean it’s the truth.  There’s only one truth, and it might not make the most sense or be the most logical conclusion.  Yet while you could say that that which seems logical to us might not be the most logical to God, I do believe our view of what is logical and illogical is a reflection of the traits of God who created us in His image.  And so I believe God has put in our minds the ability to distinguish what’s true as being that which is most logical because we reflect the logical nature of God and God has made an ordered and logical world.  But still, God could make something to be true simply because He wants it to be that way, even if it isn’t logical to us.  So just because something’s logical doesn’t necessarily mean it is the truth.

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2/1/10
I feel like I am awake and everyone else is asleep.

The convictions are there and the logic is absolutely sound, and yet my heart is not convinced.  If it was truly God’s perfect will for all this to be as it seems it should, then why would it create a feeling of restlessness, frustration, bitterness, confusion, uncertainty and all around uneasiness?  Perhaps because my soul is vexed by knowing the way things should be but seeing the overwhelming state of depravity that is the reality of the American church.  If my convictions were true than why would I struggle so much with loneliness and romance to the point that it plagues my thoughts consistently every day?  Shouldn’t my resolution bring peace and satisfaction through this volition?  As it is, I fear the quiet and silence because I know what lies there in the darkness waiting for me:  My thoughts.  And so I rage against the stillness by surrounding myself with noise and business all the time, even when I sleep, so as to stifle out and drown the negative thoughts and analyzing that waits for me, trying to claim me and bring me down again into the depths.  If I am alone to myself, then I have nothing else to do but think.  And if I think, my thoughts inevitably shift towards criticizing myself and others and thinking about my depravity and loneliness, because right now it is so engraved in my heart and consuming of my mind.  Perhaps because I am the only one who has realized these convictions.  Perhaps it bothers me because I love my brothers and I love God and desperately want the church to be what God has intended and to fulfill God’s purpose.  Since the church is apparently not fulfilling God’s purpose to the degree it should be, it frustrates me and convicts me to the point that I seek to energize it into the place it’s supposed to be.  Perhaps I am plagued by doubt and negative emotions because I am the only one left who isn’t giving in to the American dream, so if other Christians abstained from marriage and settling down (like they were meant to) then I wouldn’t be depressed or lonely, etc.
But as it is, I feel called to live life based on these convictions and not waver due to emotions, so that if I must live a life of misery, so be it.  My sacrifice will please God and instill in others a fire that would not be lit aside from my sacrifice.  Sacrifice is necessary to wake the church up.  God will not let me see decay, for I am sincere in my motives.

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2/2/10- For some reason I have this strong desire against settling down and getting married and having kids, raging against the natural, primal desires, as if I were a defunct human.  While I do greatly desire companionship, the thought of marriage and dating and all that entails makes me cringe.  I even hate the word “dating” and “girlfriend”.  Even though marriage at times is appealing, when I think about the details of it (living with someone all the time and having to make them a priority and spend vain, unproductive time with them), I realize, “No, I couldn’t do it.  I’m not made for that,” especially if my convictions would keep that person from living the popular marriage dream of sex and parenthood.  In fact, some of us just aren’t meant to live.  We are born to die.  We are made for the sole purpose of sacrificing our lives for the advancement of the Kingdom.

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It looks to me like the age of Earth is coming to a close.  The bible mentions wars and famine and earthquakes frequently occurring in the end.  Of course people were always expecting the end for 2000 years, but in those 2000 years there wasn’t the constant threat of earthquakes and global warming that there is now.  The earth is made to handle a certain amount of people and that limit is being reached[112511-will be reached sooner than we think], along with the technology that all of those people are using that exponentially heats up the earth.  60 years ago the whole earth had 2 billion people and now there are over 6 billion.  Naturally 50 years from now that will be doubled and 50 years from then that will be doubled.  Once you get to the place we are now the population is just unstoppable and exploding, and there’s really nothing we can do because it’s not like people are going to stop having kids.  If everyone on earth of the 6 billion people had 1 kid per couple it would cut the next generation in half, but that’s not going to happen, because people are 1. selfish and 2. have no self control.  [12/9/12- I just have to say after reading this paragraph, that it’s rather ridiculous.]
It only makes sense as we know what happened the last time the world joined together as one body and pushed the limits of science and technology with the Tower of Babel.  Now the world is developing a common language again in English and Latin, and thus breaking past language, culture, and distance barriers to push the limits of nature once again.  As humans inevitably dig deeper and deeper into the study of nature and break God’s laws (abortion, cloning, etc.), God will inevitably have to break down man again from his prideful, god-like status, this time perhaps for the last time.
Thinking about all this is sure to make you feel uneasy and panic, but in reality there’s not much you can do, and you shouldn’t feel that way because this is all part of God’s plan, His story.  The earth has to end sooner or later, and it’s ending.  How did you think it would end?  God sending earthquakes and famines supernaturally on the world?  Just like all other times, the supernatural follows the natural, and the natural is in fact supernaturally-induced.  The Earth is becoming over-populated with people who use technology that sucks up the earth’s resources and ruins the environment, so that when the end wasn’t in sight, now all of the sudden it is foreseeable. But of course the end won’t come until the Gospel is preached to all peoples, and there are still unreached peoples.  I predict that there will be a selfless, sacrificial emergence of Christians who deny themselves marriage and sex and the comforts of this life to advance the kingdom of God rapidly so that the end will come suddenly and unexpected.

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I have always had a fire in my bones for confronting and rebuking the modern church and secular culture of America, but now I wonder if this fire could be better used towards another direction- an idea that’s always been in the back of my mind.  The fact is, Americans have an abundant access to the gospel.  At any time an American can say to himself, “Hmmm…I wonder what happens when I die?” and go to a library to research, go to a church on Sunday, go buy a bible for a dollar, and if nothing else surf the web for the truth from the comfort and privacy of their home and find the answers from the plethora of Christian resources.  But God could randomly plant a thought in someone’s head or convict their heart so they search for the truth and find it, whereas if he does that in some countries, even if the people searched for the truth they would have no way to find it, accept by supernatural means.  That, plus the fact that the American masses have been indoctrinated by the false facts of modern “science,” which supposedly point towards an atheistic world, and the overall false classification of “Christian” that most Americans believe they fall under when in reality they don’t, makes the American masses a hard people to convert.  Though God of course can do all things, is it really the best use of our time to continually reach out to this stubborn, apathetic, Christianity-saturated people, when there are peoples that have never heard the Gospel and don’t have access to it?  Like Paul said, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first; since you repudiate it and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles.
47″For so the Lord has commanded us,
‘I HAVE PLACED YOU AS A LIGHT FOR THE GENTILES,
THAT YOU MAY BRING SALVATION TO THE END OF THE EARTH.'”
48When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.”  (Acts 13)

AND
18:6: “But when they resisted and blasphemed, he shook out his garments and said to them, ‘Your blood be on your own heads! I am clean From now on I will go to the Gentiles.’”

AND
28:25: “The Holy Spirit rightly spoke through Isaiah the prophet to your fathers,
26saying,
‘GO TO THIS PEOPLE AND SAY,
YOU WILL KEEP ON HEARING, BUT WILL NOT UNDERSTAND;
AND YOU WILL KEEP ON SEEING, BUT WILL NOT PERCEIVE;
27FOR THE HEART OF THIS PEOPLE HAS BECOME DULL,
AND WITH THEIR EARS THEY SCARCELY HEAR,
AND THEY HAVE CLOSED THEIR EYES;
OTHERWISE THEY MIGHT SEE WITH THEIR EYES,
AND HEAR WITH THEIR EARS,
AND UNDERSTAND WITH THEIR HEART AND RETURN,
AND I WOULD HEAL THEM.”‘
28″Therefore let it be known to you that this salvation of God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will also listen.”

AND
Matthew 21:
43″Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit of it.

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I have 2 questions, 3 requests:
Questions:
What do I believe that isn’t true?
What changes need to be made in my life?
Requests:
Show me what You want me to do, how to do it, and give me what I need to do it.

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