www.desiringgod.org

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Randy Alcorn #fundie desiringgod.org

I loved that Lewis clearly articulated the problem of evil and suffering better than most atheists, including Richard Dawkins. Yet he embraced a biblical worldview that had a far greater explanatory power than his atheism. And he passed it on to me and countless others.

Young people go to college unprepared intellectually for what they’ll face. Let’s feed them C.S. Lewis on evil and suffering before they hear the rants of atheist and agnostic college professors, most of them intellectual pygmies compared to Lewis. Let’s not leave it to the world to ask the hard questions — the Bible raises these very questions and answers them better than any other worldview. It was Lewis who first showed me that.

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John Piper #fundie desiringgod.org

Twelve Questions to Ask Before You Watch ‘Game of Thrones’

1. Am I Recrucifying Christ?
Christ died to purify his people. It is an absolute travesty of the cross to treat it as though Jesus died only to forgive us for the sin of watching nudity, and not to purify us for the power not to watch it.

He has blood-bought power in his cross. He died to make us pure. He “gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession” (Titus 2:14). If we choose to endorse or embrace or enjoy or pursue impurity, we take a spear and ram it into Jesus’s side every time we do. He suffered to set us free from impurity.

2. Does It Express or Advance My Holiness?
In the Bible, from beginning to end, there is a radical call for holiness — holiness of mind and heart and life. “As he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct” (1 Peter 1:15). Or 2 Corinthians 7:1, “Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.” Nudity in movies and photos is not holy and does not advance our holiness. It is unholy and impure.

3. When Will I Tear Out My Eye, If Not Now?
Jesus said, “Everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away” (Matthew 5:28–29). Seeing naked women — or seeing naked men — causes a man or woman to sin with their minds and their desires, and often with their bodies. If Jesus told us to guard our hearts by gouging out our eyes to prevent lust, how much more would he say, “Don’t watch it!”

4. Is It Not Satisfying to Think on What Is Honorable?
Life in Christ is not mainly the avoidance of evil, but mainly the passionate pursuit of good. Remember Philippians 4:8, “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

My life is not a constrained life. It is a free life. “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13).

5. Am I Longing to See God?
I want to see and know God as fully as possible in this life and the next. Watching nudity is a huge hindrance to that pursuit. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). The defilement of the mind and heart by watching nudity dulls the heart’s ability to see and enjoy God. I dare anyone to watch nudity and turn straight to God and give him thanks and enjoy him more because of what you just experienced.

6. Do I Care About the Souls of the Nudes?
God calls women to “adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control” (1 Timothy 2:9). When we pursue or receive or embrace nudity in our entertainment, we are implicitly endorsing the sin of the women who sell themselves to this way and are, therefore, uncaring about their souls. They disobey 1 Timothy 2:9, and we say that’s okay.

7. Would I Be Glad If My Daughter Played This Role?
Most Christians are hypocrites in watching nudity because, on the one hand, they say by their watching that this is okay, and, on the other hand, they know deep down they would not want their daughter or their wife or their girlfriend to be playing this role. That is hypocrisy.

8. Am I Assuming Nudity Can Be Faked?
Nudity is not like murder and violence on the screen. Violence on a screen is make-believe; nobody really gets killed. But nudity is not make-believe. These actresses are really naked in front of the camera, doing exactly what the director says to do with their legs and their hands and their breasts. And they are naked in front of millions of people to see.

9. Am I Compromising the Beauty of Sex?
Sexual relations is a beautiful thing. God created it and pronounced it good (1 Timothy 4:3). But it is not a spectator sport. It is a holy joy that is sacred in its secure place of tender love. Men and women who want to be watched in their nudity are in the category with exhibitionists who pull down their pants at the top of escalators.

10. Am I Assuming Nudity Is Necessary for Good Art?
There is no great film or television series that needs nudity to add to its greatness. No. There isn’t. There are creative ways to be true to reality without turning sex into a spectator’s sport and without putting actors and actresses in morally compromised situations on the set.

It is not artistic integrity that is driving nudity on the screen. Underneath all of this is male sexual appetite driving this business, and following from that is peer pressure in the industry and the desire for ratings that sell. It is not art that puts nudity in film; it’s the appeal of prurience. It sells.

11. Am I Craving Acceptance?
Christians do not watch nudity with a view to maximizing holiness. That is not what keeps them coming back to the shows. They know deep down that these television shows or these movies are shot through with the commendation and exaltation of attitudes and actions that are utterly out of step with death to self and out of step with the exaltation of Christ.

No, what keeps those Christians coming back is the fear that if they take Christ at his word and make holiness as serious as I am saying it is, they would have to stop seeing so many television shows and so many movies, and they would be viewed as freakish. And that today is the worst evil of all. To be seen as freakish is a much greater evil than to be unholy.

12. Am I Free from Doubt?
There is one biblical guideline that makes life very simple: “But whoever has doubts is condemned if he eats, because the eating is not from faith. For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin” (Romans 14:32). My paraphrase: If you doubt, don’t. That would alter the viewing habits of millions and, oh, how sweetly they would sleep with their conscience.

So, I say it again. Join me in the pursuit of the kind of purity that sees God, and knows the fullness of joy in his presence and the everlasting pleasure at his right hand.

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John Piper #fundie desiringgod.org

I Love How He Humiliates Me

I don’t know anyone who builds shaming and liberating arguments the way the apostle Paul does. He builds with stones of insight — one on another, until the edifice stands before you with humiliating and liberating obviousness.

We are treated as rational people, not animals driven by instinct: “I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say” (1 Corinthians 10:15). If we should be ashamed, he will show us with arguments, not slurs. And he will show us the way out.

Twice in 1 Corinthians, Paul uses the noun for shame (Greek entrope). In both cases, the issue is similar. Believers are walking in the counsel of the godless. They are acting like the world has more wisdom than they do in matters of relationships and resurrection.

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Greg Morse #fundie desiringgod.org

Ever since the fall, hell’s mouth has gaped open. Many will be swallowed up today. More will the next day. And the next. This reality caused even the apostle Paul profound sorrow and unceasing anguish (Romans 9:2). Does it for the rest of us?

This world is a doorway into eternity — a fact that few today consider and fear. Sinners frolic before the Almighty God, daring to provoke him to his face. Although God hates all evildoers (Psalm 5:5), burns with indignation towards the unrepentant every day (Psalm 7:11), and is even now whetting his sword and bending his bow in judgment (Psalms 7:11–13), the unrepentant go about life unmindful of their predicament. They slumber atop an active volcano.

They mistake the God of delayed wrath for the God of no wrath at all. They hear about the nuclear bomb of eternity, but are self-assured that it will never detonate. They approach the God of the Bible like some do those British royal guards: mocking, poking, and testing him to see if he will move — never realizing that the rifle has lowered until it is too late.

And they love the god they’ve created. Their god is never angry with them. Their god, if he even hates their sin, only loves the sinner. Their god is only merciful, only forgiving, only compassionate. Their god does not take sin personally, nor would he require the shedding of blood to forgive it. Their god serves the creature and simply pours forth unconditional love when and how the creature calls for it.

But this god is a pipe dream. This god is a demon. This god is absent from the Old and New Testaments. Even now, the true God holds the unrepentant by the nape of the neck to do them unspeakable injury if they will not bow to his great love and mercy, and take up his terms of peace and eternal joy offered them in the blood of his own Son.

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Greg Morse #sexist desiringgod.org

Lamenting Disney’s New Queen

As I consider Disney’s new depiction of femininity in Captain Marvel, I cannot help but mourn. How far we’ve come since the days when we sought to protect and cherish our women.

The great drumroll of the previous Avenger movies led to this: a woman protecting men and saving the world. The mightiest of all the Avengers — indeed, after whom they are named — is the armed princess turned feminist queen, who comes down from the tower to do what Prince Charming could not.

Am I nitpicking? It is a movie after all. I wish it were. Instead of engaging the movie’s ideology as mere fiction, a fun escape to another world, we have allowed it to bear deadly fruit on earth. Along with Disney, we abandon the traditional princess vibe, and seek to empower little girls everywhere to be strong like men. Cinderella trades her glass slipper for combat boots; Belle, her books for a bazooka. Does the insanity bother us anymore?

She Will Not Be Appeased

The ideology that sends Brie Larson soaring fictionally around outer space has sent our real daughters, mothers, and sisters — devoid of such superpowers — to war to serve and die in place of men. Real wars, the kind where “horribly smashed men still [move] like half-crushed beetles” (Surprised by Joy, 240). Real wars, the kind C.S. Lewis elsewhere describes as the amalgamation of every temporal evil.

We ought to lament that feminist lust cannot be appeased, even with blood. It takes its daughters and now, calling men’s bluff, advocates for sending its mothers into the flames.

Unquestionably, men ought support women’s desires to be affirmed, respected, and honored. But indeed, few actions display our resolve to honor our women more than excluding them from the carnage of the battlefield. Where can we more clearly display our ultimate resolve to love our women as queens than to step into hell on earth as sacrificial pawns in their defense? Generation after generation has mobilized its men to be devoured — that its women might not be.

Yet the feminist agenda does not condone this exclusion. It will not be patronized by any messages of “you can’t,” “you won’t,” or “you shouldn’t.” Even when we say, “You can’t go into the lion’s den for us”; “You won’t risk a brutal death to protect us”; “You shouldn’t expose yourself to the bullets bearing our name” — even then, the deprivation still causes offense. But our God, our nature, our love must firmly say, You are too precious, my mother, my daughter, my beloved. It is my glory to die that you may live.

Marvel Indeed

Yes, Marvel may be on the verge of ruining a decade-long movie saga with identity politics. So what? Will we fuss more about this than the government sending our daughters — stripped of photon blasts and the ability to fly — to fight our wars? We used to be attuned enough to know how shameful it is for men to hide behind their women, hoping she will take down Goliath. Have we forgotten how precious our women are? Have we forgotten that it is our glory to die in their place?

God’s story for all eternity consists of a Son who slew a Dragon to save a Bride. Jesus did not put his woman forward, and neither should we. Where Adam failed, Jesus succeeded. He is the Good Shepherd who laid his life down for his people. Even from the cross, God’s wrath crushing him, he saw to the welfare of his mother (John 19:26–27). Should we so cowardly send our women to protect our children and us? Protecting our women with our very lives is not about their competency, but their value.

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John Piper #fundie desiringgod.org

If I were the last man on the planet to think so, I would want the honor of saying no woman should go before me into combat to defend my country. A man who endorses women in combat is not pro-woman; he’s a wimp. He should be ashamed. For most of history, in most cultures, he would have been utterly scorned as a coward to promote such an idea. Part of the meaning of manhood as God created us is the sense of responsibility for the safety and welfare of our women.

Back in the seventies, when I taught in college, feminism was new and cool. So my ideas on manhood were viewed as the social construct of a dying chauvinistic era. I had not yet been enlightened that competencies, not divine wiring, governed the roles we assume. Unfazed, I said no.

What Real Men Do

Suppose, I said, a couple of you students, Jason and Sarah, were walking to McDonald’s after dark. And suppose a man with a knife jumped out of the bushes and threatened you. And suppose Jason knows that Sarah has a black belt in karate and could probably disarm the assailant better than he could. Should he step back and tell her to do it? No. He should step in front of her and be ready to lay down his life to protect her, irrespective of competency. It is written on his soul. That is what manhood does.

And collectively that is what society does — unless the men have all been emasculated by the suicidal songs of egalitarian folly. God created man first in order to say that man bears a primary burden for protection, provision, and leadership. And when man and woman rebelled against God’s ways, God came to the garden and said, Adam, where are you? (Genesis 3:9), not Eve, where are you? And when the apostle described the implications of being created male and female, the pattern he celebrates is: Save her, nourish her, cherish her, give her life (Ephesians 5:25–29).

God wrote manhood and womanhood on our hearts. Sin ruins the imprint without totally defacing it. It tells men to be heavy handed oafs or passive wimps. It tells women to be coquettes or controllers. That is not God’s imprint. Deeper down men and women know it.

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Marshall Segal #fundie desiringgod.org

Sex Without God

At its simplest, we should have sex (or not) like people who know God. Paul says, “This is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God” (1 Thessalonians 4:3–5).

The Gentiles — unbelievers, in the world and not in Christ — are involved in all kinds of sexual nonsense. They lose control of their lusts, dishonor their own and others’ bodies, and dive headlong into sexual immorality. None of that should surprise us too much because they don’t know God. We should expect them to go too far, and too fast — to fool around with the random person at the party, or sleep with their third or fourth person in a month, or move in with their boyfriend.

If God is out of the picture, sex can seem like as good a god as any. It will still fail them forever, but that doesn’t bother them, because they don’t believe in Jesus or sin, heaven or hell. They believe in now, in living it up here on earth as much as possible, and for as long as possible — until repentance is no longer possible.

Like We Know God

In Christ, we know better. We know that sin, death, and hell are as real as the roof over our heads, last month’s cell-phone bill, or the Grand Canyon. They’re not ideas flying around in our philosophy class. They’re realities hanging over every inch of our lives.

We live every moment in the shadow of a real Creator and a real judge, one who knows our every thought and move. We know that we deserve less than nothing because of our sin, that we’ve earned conscious, relentless, inescapable destruction for ourselves, and that “everyone who is sexually immoral or impure . . . has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God” (Ephesians 5:3–5). And we know that Christ came to die — the crown of thorns, the whip filled with rocks, the nails in his hands and feet, the terrifying wrath of God — for our sin and to rescue us out of sin.

God made each of us and invented sex — why would we act like we know better than him? God warns us that sexual immorality leads to pain, shame, slavery, and ultimately judgment — why would we risk so much for a little pleasure now? God bought our forgiveness, freedom, and purity with the blood of his own Son — an infinite cost — why would we heap more sin on his shoulders and drive the nails even deeper? God waits with open arms to welcome us into a never-ending adventure of peace and happiness with him — why would we trade it away for a few seconds of satisfaction?

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Greg Morse #fundie desiringgod.org

A Marriage Made in Hell
HOW SATAN COUNSELS CHRISTIAN COUPLES

I am terribly troubled to have received your last letter. Of course you should begin twisting his thoughts concerning marriage — how have you not already? Do you not realize that even one human living according to the Enemy’s design can cost us souls? Your negligence on this matter is criminal.

Ever since the first wedding in the garden, we suspected that the Enemy was preparing something revolting — but who could have imagined? Even Our Father Below couldn’t guess the true horror of it all. Marriage, we found out only too late, does not ultimately concern the humans’ love for each other. His plan, from the very beginning, was to actually marry the wretched creatures himself — disgraceful!

Throughout time, he has brought two vermin together to display his unnatural love and disturbing sacrifice for his bride. He created husbands to announce — to all who would listen — that he would soon become one. How we once praised him, I still can’t imagine.

Marriage, Globdrop, reflects everything we detest. The male dresses up as the Enemy, while the wife stands in for his beloved. As he made man in his own image, he made marriage to reflect his terrible story. But while the Enemy means for it to narrate one tale, we can make it tell another. Through it, we can preach one of our gospels. Perhaps the most effective way to do so these days is to instruct him in what I like to call homofunctional marriage.

Homofunctional Marriage

Although unsuccessful for thousands of years, your great uncle Slubstone’s persistence has paid off remarkably. He actually convinced them that one man can marry another man! But your man, as you report, stands unconvinced. Yet, while he may never audition for homosexual marriage, he may readily participate in our homofunctional rendition. Let me explain.

It is quite simple really: whereas homosexual “marriage” puts two of the same sex together, “homofunctional marriage” consists of two different sexes that function identically. The same still marries the same: they both lead and follow. They both must shoulder the same amount of burden, both must offer the same amount of sacrifice, and both be equally responsible for the other before God.

When we convince the actors to learn each other’s lines and swap each other’s pants, they’re not left a different version, but a different drama. Romeo and Juliet becomes Juliet and Juliet. Interchangeable, dear nephew, interchangeable. Call it teammates, best friends, enlightened, liberated, progressive, egalitarian — whatever does the job.

An Anti-Drama

Now, as you can guess, 50/50 cannot last long. Someone must eventually break the tie. And Adam, as we keep reminding them, has had his turn. Monique and Alex are excellent examples from your man’s small group.

Monique is the modern strong wife. She lives in corporate America, shoulders the responsibility for the family, and is proud not to be living in the “comfortable concentration camp” of stay-at-home motherhood. As a point of principle, she is reluctant to do anything she considers domestic, and quick to share her opinion for hours on end, while her husband sits expressionless beside her. She balks at the thought of being a helpmate, chafes at the idea of submission. Her favorite Bible verse — to undo the ones she despises — is Galatians 3:28. With six words (“there is no male and female”) we have made her an apologist. Pleasantly, she hates the Enemy’s script nearly as much as we do. She has washed her face indeed.

Meanwhile, Alex has few complaints these days. He no longer expects to have much say in family decisions — and according to him, he is better off for it. He has finally realized (as many of our patients eventually do) that when he lets his wife steer, he never gets blamed for ending up in a ditch.

He finds the passenger seat most comfortable. More reclining. Less sacrifice and accountability. More opportunity for naps. He even hears the occasional commendation from others in the group for “laying down his life.” Having passed on our offer of masculinity that domineers, belittles, and abuses, he has taken nicely to that emasculinity which occasions less blood and more praise. He lives to defer. It takes less energy.

And what does everyone watching the two-person play see? Little different from those who have better things to do than attend Bible studies on Wednesday evenings. No one sees a man who loves his wife, initiates towards her constantly, and gives his life sacrificing his own comforts and strength for her eternal good. No one sees a bride who adorns her husband, respects and gladly follows him, all the while blossoming under his love and leadership. They see nothing of the Enemy’s drama.

Delightfully, they see a manly woman standing upon a doormat. Although a number of toxic texts were read at their wedding, they left them all behind when she drove him home from the ceremony.

What They Must Never See

Globdrop, begin instruction with your man immediately.

Tell him, if there is blood to be shed, it should be spilled evenly. Let marriage serve what they call “equality” — for no marriage can have two masters. Unmake him. Dignify (or at least excuse) that passivity which opens the back door to those sins that daily slaughter aimless men. Make him passionate about sports, not souls. If a man, then a mannequin.

Let marriage tell any story but the Enemy’s. Earthly marriage must never tell of the dreadful one to come. Muffle the obscenity. Invite him to take part in one of our homofunctional marriages instead. But while you work on him, never let it slip that, although the Enemy will hold him solemnly accountable for how he discharges his duty, he also extends endless help and offers boundless grace whenever he falls short.

Your perplexed yet expectant uncle,
Wormwood

In The Globdrop Letters, a senior demon (Wormwood) corresponds with a junior demon to advise him in the evil art of subtle deception. The series follows in the large footsteps of C.S. Lewis in his classic work, The Screwtape Letters.

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Greg Morse #fundie desiringgod.org

Even now, the true God holds the unrepentant by the nape of the neck to do them unspeakable injury if they will not bow to his great love and mercy, and take up his terms of peace and eternal joy offered them in the blood of his own Son.

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Greg Morse #fundie desiringgod.org

On the most somber of occasions, he sought to comfort the mourning. The cold casket adorned a chilled body as the eyes of family and friends, swollen from grief, gazed up at the speaker. He wanted to bring whatever consolation he could. And so, he did what many well-meaning pastors have done in his situation: he abandoned the truth.

Many can sympathize with the impulse to do so. The woman before him lived as worldly as they come, blaspheming God and his word whenever the opportunity presented itself. With all her friends and family gathered, it hardly felt like the appropriate time to tell them what God actually said. And so, the pastor proclaimed that — deep down — she was a good person and was with the Lord in heaven.

It was at that moment, when all sat pleased at the pastor’s words, that a young woman spoke up:

It’s a lie! Do not believe him! We will not all be in a better place! That hope is false! Only those who believe in Christ, the Son of God, the one who died and was raised, will be saved! Only those who repent and believe and follow him until the end will be in a better place. Wrath awaits all who die in sin! Please believe! He stands ready to forgive you!

People stared, aghast. A funeral usher approached to invite her to leave. One person furiously told her to shut the hell up — and so she was trying. Hell’s mouth gaped open. Souls were at stake. God’s truth was being butchered. She tried, alone, to warn her loved ones off the path to perdition.

My wife was at that funeral home a decade ago. She witnessed the minister’s sentimental words, saw the usher approach, and heard the crude language addressed to her. She was the young woman who, with trembling voice, offered all who would listen grace at the gates of hell.

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Greg Morse #fundie desiringgod.org

Much of our modern sexuality pontificates with Pharaoh, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice?” (Exodus 5:2).

Some teachers can no longer say “boys and girls” in classrooms. In some school districts, young men can go into girls’ locker rooms simply with a note from a parent. Recently, actress Kate Hudson shared her plans to raise her daughter, Rani Rose, with a “genderless approach.” What a sad time to be alive. But not only sad: also dangerous and rebellious.

Into the gender confusion of our day, even razor companies are stepping forward to help groom the next generation into healthy expressions of masculinity. Therefore, Christians, of all people, need to be clear that brutality, passivity, complacency, and effeminacy miss the mark of manhood. Jesus Christ did not domineer, live disinterestedly, or act like a woman — and he is the model of God-honoring masculinity. But the inclusion of effeminacy in that list may prick some sensibilities today.

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Greg Morse #fundie desiringgod.org

Just having returned from a visit to “the greatest place on earth,” my wife and I were shocked at how many men boldly acted like women. Lispy sentences, light gestures, soft mannerisms, and flamboyant jokes were everywhere to be seen — on display for a park flooded with children. No hiding it. No shame. No apologizing. This perversion of masculinity warranted no commercials.

Instead, our society celebrates what Paul calls literally “soft men” (Greek malakoi), a group that will not enter the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9). And discomfort at this will-not-inherit-the-kingdom version of manliness is exactly a symptom of what the APA finds malignant in traditional manhood. But as much as the APA and LGBTQs protest it as hate speech, the effeminate shall not enter the kingdom of God, and it is unloving not to say so.

While men who brutalize and manipulate represent one form of perversion (the kind companies now put their dollars into supporting), men who sit passive, complacent, spiritually and emotionally frail, represent another. So also do men who rebel against their sex by acting like women. And too many classrooms that celebrate this perversion act as accomplices to confusing the boys (and girls) of today. Paul commands all men, “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong” (1 Corinthians 16:13), and offers them the hope of the gospel that they too might be washed, sanctified, and justified “in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Corinthians 6:11).

David Mathis rightly tells us that the strongest men are gentle. But do not hear him saying that godly men are soft, fragile, weak, or effeminate. They do not faint in the day of adversity. They dress for war every day against forces of evil. They are sacrificial initiators, not limp deferrers. Men who charge against enemy gates, leading from the front, and refusing to take cover behind their wives and children. They lead. They protect. They initiate. They love. They sacrifice. They work. They worship. They are men.

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John Piper #fundie desiringgod.org

There will be evidences of God's patience with us and of his mercy towards us as we struggle with sin. And there will be evidences of his sustaining grace as we go through horrific physical suffering that Satan was the immediate cause of (as it says in the Bible: "This woman . . . whom Satan bound for eighteen years" [Luke 13:16]. She had this bent-over back, and Satan was doing it, and God was ordaining that he be allowed to do it). God ordains all of these things so that his glory—his mercy, justice, grace, wisdom—would shine more brightly.

Now we can argue with that and say, "I don't agree. I don't think God should run the world this way." And if we ultimately disagree then we will reject God, we will reject the biblical testimony, and we will perish forever in hell. But I choose to trust him that his way of managing the devil and managing evil that comes at me is wiser than the way I might choose to manage it.

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John Piper #fundie desiringgod.org

It's right for God to slaughter women and children anytime he pleases. God gives life and he takes life. Everybody who dies, dies because God wills that they die.

God is taking life every day. He will take 50,000 lives today. Life is in God's hand. God decides when your last heartbeat will be, and whether it ends through cancer or a bullet wound. God governs.

So God is God! He rules and governs everything. And everything he does is just and right and good. God owes us nothing.

If I were to drop dead right now, or a suicide bomber downstairs were to blow this building up and I were blown into smithereens, God would have done me no wrong. He does no wrong to anybody when he takes their life, whether at 2 weeks or at age 92.

God is not beholden to us at all. He doesn't owe us anything.

Now add to that the fact we're all sinners and deserve to die and go to hell yesterday, and the reality that we're even breathing today is sheer common grace from God.

I could make the question harder. As it was stated, it doesn't feel hard to me, because God was stated as the actor.

My basic answer is that the Old and New Testaments present God as the one who has total rights over my life and over my death.

"The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord" (Job 1:21). How he takes away is his call. He never wrongs anybody.

How would you state it to make the question harder?

The part that makes it harder is that he commands people to do it. He commanded Joshua to slaughter people, okay? You've got human beings killing humans, and therefore a moral question of what is right to do.

The Bible says, "Thou shalt not murder," yet God says to Joshua, "Go in and clean house, and don't leave anything breathing! Don't leave a donkey, child, woman, old man or old woman breathing. Wipe out Jericho."

My answer to that is that there is a point in history, a season in history, where God is the immediate king of a people, Israel, different than the way he is the king over the church, which is from all the peoples of Israel and does not have a political, ethnic dimension to it.

With Joshua there was a political, ethnic dimension, God was immediate king, and he uses this people as his instrument to accomplish his judgment in the world at that time. And God, it says, let the sins of the Amorites accumulate for 400 years so that they would be full (Genesis 15:16), and then sends his own people in as instruments of judgment.

So I would vindicate Joshua by saying that in that setting, with that relationship between God and his people, it was right for Joshua to do what God told him to do, which was to annihilate the people.

But that's much more complex morally than saying that God does it. He can cause a flood and kill everybody on the planet except 8 people and not do a single one of them any wrong. But he didn't ask anybody else to do that. It gets difficult when he uses others.

An example of this right now is that God has given the sword to the government (Romans 13:4). Therefore I believe the government has a right to take a rapist and a murderer and to put him in jail. Or to kill him.

I think capital punishment is consistent with Genesis 9 and consistent with God's character, because of the value of man: "The blood of a man shall be shed for taking the blood of a man" (Genesis 9:6) But that's very different than saying that anybody can go around killing people.

So God has his times and seasons for when he shares his authority to take and give life. And the church today is not Israel, and we are not a political entity. Therefore the word we have from the Lord today is, "Love your enemy. Pray for those who abuse you. Lay your life down for the world. Don't kill in order to spread the gospel, but die to spread it."

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John Piper #fundie desiringgod.org

Ten Words of Counsel for Single People

I have ten words of counsel for persons who are not married but who have to deal with sexual desires. Some of these have a masculine orientation because I know the male temptation firsthand but not the female. Some are dos and some are don’ts, but all aim to be positive in that they are intended to help you preserve your freedom from any enslavement but God’s.

1. Do not seek regular sexual gratification through masturbation — the stimulation of your own self to sexual orgasm or climax. Masturbation does not solve sexual pressure for very long, it tends to become habitual, it produces guilt, and it contradicts the God-given design of sexuality. Our bodies and desires were designed for the sexual union of persons, and masturbation contradicts that design. But perhaps worst of all, masturbation is inevitably accompanied and enabled by sexual fantasies in the mind which we would not allow ourselves in reality and so we become like the Pharisees: well scrubbed on the outside, but inside full of perversions.

2. Do not seek sexual satisfaction through touching or being touched by another person, even if you stop short of sexual intercourse. Everyone knows that intimate touching is the prelude and preparation for sexual intercourse, and therefore it belongs where that event belongs, namely, in marriage. Where the permanent commitment that characterizes marriage is missing, caressing becomes depersonalized manipulation; it turns the other’s body into a masturbation device to get a private physical thrill. God made us in such a way that if we try to turn that moment of touching into a personal, spiritual expression of love, we are not able to do it without making promises of faithfulness. Implicit in our hearts at that moment is the statement: You may touch me because you have promised never to leave me nor forsake me. You may have me because you are me. We are so made that we cry out for permanence when giving away our most intimate gifts. They belong in marriage.

3. Avoid unnecessary sexual stimulation. It doesn’t take any brains to know that there are enough X-rated movie houses and adult bookstores in this city to keep a person livid twenty-four hours a day. To visit these crummy places is temptation enough. But the real test is what you do with the more legitimate sources of sexual stimulation. PG movies, Time magazine, the newspaper, television, drugstore magazine racks, rock music lyrics. In our society you cannot escape sexual stimulation, but you can refuse to seek it. And you can avoid it often when you see it coming. This is the great test of whether we are enslaved or free — can we say no to the slave driver in our bodies who wants us to keep on looking and keep on lusting.

4. When the stimulation comes and the desire starts to rise, perform a very conscious act of transfer onto Christ. I wish I had learned this much earlier in my life. While riding down the road, if some billboard or marquee puts a desire into my mind for some illegitimate sexual pleasure, I take that desire and say, “Jesus, you are my Lord and my God, and my greatest desire is to know and love and obey you, so this desire is really for you. I take it from your competitor, I purge it, and I direct it to you. Thank you for freeing me from the bondage of sin.” It is remarkable what control we can gain over the direction our desires take, if we really long to please Christ.

5. Pray that God would give you, in ever-increasing strength, a longing to know and love and obey him above all else. I read a sermon once entitled, “The Expulsive Power of a New Affection.” The point was, there is no better way to overcome a bad desire than to push it out with a new one. It is in prayer that we summon the divine help to produce in us that new desire for God.

6. Bathe your mind in God’s word. Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them in the truth. Your word is truth” (John 17:17). There is nothing that renews the mind and enables it to assess things God’s way like regular meditation on the word of God. The person who does not arm himself with the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17) is going to lose in the battle for his or her body.

7. Keep yourself busy, and when it is time for leisure, choose things that are pure, lovely, gracious, excellent, worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8). Idleness in a world like ours is asking for trouble. It is much harder for sexual temptation to gain a foothold when we are busy at some productive task. And if you need some fresh air, walk in a park, not down Hennepin Avenue.

8. Don’t spend too much time alone. Be with Christian people often. Don’t forsake the assembling of yourselves together, but encourage one another, stir each other up to love and good works. Talk of your struggles with trusted friends. Pray for each other and hold each other accountable.

9. Strive to think of all people, especially people of the opposite sex, in relation to eternity. It is not easy to fantasize about a person if you think about the eternal torment they may shortly be suffering in hell because of their unbelief. Nor is it easy to disrobe in your imagination a person you know to be an eternal sister or brother in Christ. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:16, “From now on we know no one according to the flesh.” We view everybody from God’s eternal perspective.

10. Resolve to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and he will add to you everything you need sexually. It may be a spouse. It may be the grace and freedom to be single and pure and content. That is up to God. Ours is to seek the kingdom. Or to put it another way, our all-consuming passion must be to glorify God in our bodies by keeping ourselves free from every enslavement but one: the joyful, fulfilling slavery to God.

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Russell Moore #fundie desiringgod.org

If you're addicted to sugar or tequila or heroin you want more and more of that substance. But porn and video games both are built on novelty, on the quest for newer and different experiences. That's why you rarely find a man addicted to a single pornographic image. He's entrapped in an ever-expanding kaleidoscope.

There's a key difference between porn and gaming. Pornography can't be consumed in moderation because it is, by definition, immoral. A video game can be a harmless diversion along the lines of a low-stakes athletic competition. But the compulsive form of gaming shares a key element with porn: both are meant to simulate something, something for which men long.

Pornography promises orgasm without intimacy. Video warfare promises adrenaline without danger. The arousal that makes these so attractive is ultimately spiritual to the core. Pornography promises orgasm without intimacy. Video warfare promises adrenaline without danger.

Satan isn't a creator but a plagiarist. His power is parasitic, latching on to good impulses and directing them toward his own purpose. God intends a man to feel the wildness of sexuality in the self-giving union with his wife. And a man is meant to, when necessary, fight for his family, his people, for the weak and vulnerable who are being oppressed.

The drive to the ecstasy of just love and to the valor of just war are gospel matters. The sexual union pictures the cosmic mystery of the union of Christ and his church. The call to fight is grounded in a God who protects his people, a Shepherd Christ who grabs his sheep from the jaws of the wolves.

When these drives are directed toward the illusion of ever-expanding novelty, they kill joy. The search for a mate is good, but blessedness isn't in the parade of novelty before Adam. It is in finding the one who is fitted for him, and living with her in the mission of cultivating the next generation. When necessary, it is right to fight. But God's warfare isn't forever novel. It ends in a supper, and in a perpetual peace.

Moreover, these addictions foster the seemingly opposite vices of passivity and hyper-aggression. The porn addict becomes a lecherous loser, with one-flesh union supplanted by masturbatory isolation. The video game addict becomes a pugilistic coward, with other-protecting courage supplanted by aggression with no chance of losing one's life. In both cases, one seeks the sensation of being a real lover or a real fighter, but venting one's reproductive or adrenal glands over pixilated images, not flesh and blood for which one is responsible.
Fight Arousal with Arousal

Zimbardo and Duncan are right, this is a generation mired in fake love and fake war, and that is dangerous. A man who learns to be a lover through porn will simultaneously love everyone and no one. A man obsessed with violent gaming can learn to fight everyone and no one.

The answer to both addictions is to fight arousal with arousal. Set forth the gospel vision of a Christ who loves his bride and who fights to save her. And then let's train our young men to follow Christ by learning to love a real woman, sometimes by fighting his own desires and the spirit beings who would eat him up. Let's teach our men to make love, and to make war . . . for real.

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Cam Triggs #fundie desiringgod.org

The hot steam of a deadline breathes down your neck. It’s two o’clock in the morning, and you are alone in your office completing a last-minute project. As you viciously beat away at the keyboard, you pause and turn to the Internet as a resource. While browsing the Web, you notice an ad: “Free Porn.” You look at the popup appalled, yet intrigued.

In the isolated dark office, sin disguises itself as “free” — free of cost, free of accountability, and free of consequences. Don’t believe the lie. Deconstructing the phrase “Free Porn” may save your marriage and ultimately your relationship with Christ. Here is a truth we desperately need today: There is no such thing as free porn.

Free Porn Is False Advertisement

Satan, the world, and the flesh combine to make a perverse, yet persuasive marketing firm. Satan is the source and father of lies (John 8:44). The world is under his control (1 John 5:19), and the flesh swindles us to believe God may be mocked while our hearts deceive us as well (Galatians 6:7–8; Jeremiah 17:9). It is clear then that spiritual warfare has much to do with battling the lies of this unholy trinity. It should not surprise us that Satan, the world, and our own flesh feed us lies to enhance the temptation of sin.

A wise Puritan said, “Satan presents the bait and hides the hook.” He is a crafty enemy that presents immediate pleasure, yet hides catastrophic consequences. There are few lies greater today than the myth that porn is free.

There is always great cost in viewing porn. It is never free. It always costs money. It will always demand we surrender integrity. It will always force the corruption of Christ-centered character. Many men have paid for so-called “free porn” with salty tears, broken marriages, and hours of counseling. Many women have paid for so-called “free porn” with vicious memories, broken bodies, and shattered souls.

God frees us by giving us the truth (John 8:32). The simple truth is that porn always costs us dearly, and it is never a victimless crime. Peer-reviewed research suggests that porn is highly addictive, negatively affects our behavior, and functionally operates as a destructive drug.

Porn has also been proven to ruin marriages, stress relationships, and decrease the desire for true intimacy with monogamous mates. In other words, porn kills relationships and diminishes our very being.

Porn also leaves a trail of tears and scarred victims. Many in the porn industry have testified of disease, drugs, violence, rape, and even sexual trafficking plaguing the business.

And above all, porn dishonors God. It perverts the sacred creation of God and exchanges it with lust, selfishness, and greed. What God created for good, porn perverts for evil. It takes his good gift of sex and devalues it. Porn makes sex about deviant pleasure, cheap romance, and gross satisfaction.

God intends sex to be so much more. God created sex for the purpose of cultivating intimacy between a man and his wife, and to be the means by which the blessing of children arrive. It is no coincidence, then, that both children and marriage are now devalued in today’s porn-ified culture.

Freedom in Jesus

Porn is sinful, and the saying about sin is still true: It will cost you more than you can pay and make you stay longer than you can stay. Sin is not controllable or stagnant. Sin is decadent. First you are walking in sin, then you are standing in sin, and before you know it you are sitting in it (Psalm 1:1–2). The same is true with porn. You think you can quit whenever you want. But you can’t. Porn is increasingly addictive, readily available, and like any other addiction more is needed the longer the practice continues. For many, porn has evolved from a curious click into a crippling addiction.

Here is the good news: There is freedom from “free porn” in Christ Jesus. The false security, enslaving escape, and luring lust of porn will only leave you empty. But in the good news of redemption in Christ, we find concrete security, promised perseverance, and true water that quenches the soul.

In Christ, we find the intimacy we truly desire as reconciled children to an almighty Father. In Christ, we find the free offer of grace that comes without any strings attached or any webs that deceitfully entangle us into bondage.

May Jesus truly set you free with the true freedom that exposes the lie of free porn.

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John Piper #fundie desiringgod.org

I have a high tolerance for violence, high tolerance for bad language, and zero tolerance for nudity. There is a reason for these differences. The violence is make-believe. They don’t really mean those bad words. But that lady is really naked, and I am really watching. And somewhere she has a brokenhearted father.

I’ll put it bluntly. The only nude female body a guy should ever lay his eyes on is his wife’s. The few exceptions include doctors, morticians, and fathers changing diapers. “I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin?”

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Jonathan Parnell #fundie desiringgod.org

But as far as I know, none of those sins is applauded so aggressively by whole groups of people who advocate for their normalcy. Sexual immorality is no longer the tip of the spear for the progressive push. Adultery is still frowned upon by many. Accusations of greed will still smear a candidate’s political campaign. Thievery is still not openly embraced, and there are no official initiatives saying it’s okay to go take things that don’t belong to you. There’s no such thing as a drunk agenda yet. Most aren’t proud to choose a beverage over stability, and there aren’t any petitions that the government should abolish the driving restrictions of inebriated individuals. Reviling others still isn’t seen as the best way to win friends and influence people. Swindling, especially on a corporate level, usually gets someone thrown into jail. In fact, the infrastructure of the American economy depends upon, in some measure, our shared disdain for conniving scammers.

Perhaps excepting fornication, these sins are still seen in a pretty negative light. But not homosexual practice, not by those who are now speaking loudest and holding positions of prominence. According to the emerging consensus, homosexuality is different.

As Christians, we believe with deepest sincerity that the embrace of homosexual practice, along with other sins, keeps people out of the kingdom of God. And if our society celebrates it, we can’t both be caring and not say anything. Too much is at stake. This means it is an oversimplification to say that Christians — or conservative evangelicals — are simply against homosexuality. We are against any sin that restrains people from everlasting joy in God, and homosexual practice just gets all the press because, at this cultural moment, it’s the main sin that is so freshly endorsed in our context by the powers that be. Let’s hope that if there’s some new cultural agenda promoting thievery — one that says it’s now our right to take whatever we want from others by whatever means — that Christians will speak out against it. The issue is sin. That’s what we’re against. And that’s what should make our voice so unique when we speak into this debate.

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John Piper #fundie desiringgod.org

We prayed during our family devotions. Talitha (11 years old) and Noel and I prayed earnestly for the families affected by the calamity and for the others in our city. Talitha prayed “Please don’t let anyone blame God for this but give thanks that they were saved.” When I sat on her bed and tucked her in and blessed her and sang over her a few minutes ago, I said, “You know, Talitha, that was a good prayer, because when people ‘blame’ God for something, they are angry with him, and they are saying that he has done something wrong. That’s what “blame” means: accuse somebody of wrongdoing. But you and I know that God did not do anything wrong. God always does what is wise. And you and I know that God could have held up that bridge with one hand.” Talitha said, “With his pinky.” “Yes,” I said, “with his pinky. Which means that God had a purpose for not holding up that bridge, knowing all that would happen, and he is infinitely wise in all that he wills.”

Talitha said, “Maybe he let it fall because he wanted all the people of Minneapolis to fear him.” “Yes, Talitha,” I said, “I am sure that is one of the reasons God let the bridge fall.”