Black Dresses And Moral Confusion

Old Fashioned GirlExcuse me, but the newfound morality of the secular world (led by Hollywood) confuses me just a bit. Maybe I’ve been a Christian too long, and consequently I tend to reason from Scripture, but it seems to me that the world tries to have moral standards without being confined by moral standards.

If that analysis doesn’t make sense, let me suggest that the liberal elitists don’t make sense.

I just looked at some photos from this year’s Golden Globes Awards. In solidarity with the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, most of the female actors indeed wore black gowns. A few of those gowns covered them well, but most were as revealing and suggestive as usual. I suppose the wearers would argue that men shouldn’t look at them as sex objects even when they show skin, and that a man’s unwillingness to control his sexual responses shouldn’t restrict them from dressing as they please.

Before I say anything further, let me be clear that the Lord does indeed hold men completely accountable for their sexual thoughts.

27 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell. ~~Matthew 5:27-30 (ESV)

Men who allow their gaze to rest too long on women other than their wives will be guilty of adultery. (Incidentally, the same goes for women who fantasize about men other than their husbands.) Provocative attire by no means alleviates personal responsibility, no matter how high the hem or low the neckline. So please don’t read this post and assume that I think women who dress immodestly deserve to be sexually mistreated. They most assuredly do not!

But neither should they dress in ways that trigger such responses. Any woman who is honest with herself knows when her outfit will make men look. Granted, she may intend that her outfit attract only one specific man. But to suppose that other men won’t also look is highly naive.

Women aren’t that stupid.

And the same God who holds men accountable for their sexual responses also holds women responsible for tempting men to look at them inappropriately.

Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes! ~~Matthew 18:7 (ESV)

The black dresses at this year’s Golden Globes Awards sent two contradictory messages. Despite the demands for sexual misconduct to end, Hollywood also demands to flaunt their sexuality without limitation. Never mind that sexual predators are simply taking sexual freedom to its logical conclusion.

Did I begun this article by saying that Hollywood’s duplicity confuses me? As I think more deeply about the matter, perhaps the women on the red carpet at the Golden Globes suffer from more confusion than I do. They need to receive the Gospel, and to understand how to enjoy their sexuality as God intended it to be enjoyed.

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Six Questions About Hollywood’s Newfound Moral Outrage

Woman Asking FramedCircumstances got the best of me today, seriously limiting my time for blogging. I’d planned to write some observations on Hollywood’s newfound moral outrage regarding sexual misconduct. Alas, time prohibits me from composing the essay I had in mind.

So instead, let me pose just a few questions that would give you a rough idea of my thoughts on the matter:

  1. Why does an industry so devoted to sexual immorality suddenly decide that it can condemn a practice of sexual sin?
  2. How come Hollywood waited until now to decry something that’s gone on since the medium first started?
  3. What standard does Hollywood use to determine sexual morality?
  4. Will they now start producing films that uphold modesty and morality?
  5. Should moviegoers stay away from sexually explicit entertainment, sending a message that we reject Hollywood’s culture of unrestrained sex?
  6. As Christians, are we surprised by  Hollywood’s obvious hypocrisy?

My questions probably give you a pretty good summary of the blog post I would have presented if I’d had time to write it. Perhaps just this brief list is all I need to offer right now.

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Saturday Sampler: January 14 — January 20

Bell Sampler

The age of feminism seduces Christian women into thinking we have to perform monumental tasks for God, according to Elizabeth Prata of The End Time. She writes Ladies, no job is too menial and no sphere is to small to make a huge difference as an encouragement to those of us who feel unnoticed and obscure.

To help us understand the importance of patience, Clint Archer posts Waiting for God? Oh. in The Cripplegate. The English major in me appreciates Archer’s allusion to the play, Waiting for Godot, but I appreciate even more the Biblical application he brings out in this devotional piece. Each of us should take this message to heart.

What do you think The Easiest Sin to Justify is? I used to justify this one all the time, so I believe Tim Challies hits the nail on the head. See if you agree.

Once again, Leslie A of Growing 4 Life graces us with her wisdom in Do I Need a Special Experience in Order to Know God? It’s shameful that evangelicals still need teaching on this matter, but praise the Lord for people like Leslie who continually proclaim the truth and remain faithful to Scripture!

If, like me, you wondered if Hollywood’s protest against sexual harassment at the Golden Globes was disingenuous, Brett McCracken’s Will #MeToo Cause Hollywood to Rethink its Views on Sex in The Gospel Coalition Blog will confirm your suspicions. But it doesn’t just throw stones at the entertainment industry; it also challenges Christians to accept responsibility.

Guest posting for Unlocking the Bible rather than her own blog, Lara d’Entremont addresses the typical decline in maintaining New Year’s resolutions her article, Change of Plan: To Change Every Day. She strikes at the heart of Christian living, using Scripture to illustrate the practical principles she proposes.

Although Michelle Lesley repeats Answering the Opposition – Responses to the Most Frequently Raised Discernment Objections in Discipleship for Christian Women, reading it again sure doesn’t hurt! So many of the objections she addresses betray a lack of properly understanding Scripture in its context. This issue accentuates the critical importance of knowing God’s Word thoroughly.

Al Mohler’s article, Moralism is Not the Gospel (But Many Christians Think It Is), raises a point that all too often gets overlooked. Praise God that Mohler brings it to our attention, handling it with balance and fidelity to Scripture.

Quoting the heartbreaking experience of a feminist who aborted her baby, Denny Burk writes A feminist describes her abortion… and sadness to remind us that the unborn aren’t the only victims of this horrible practice. What a needless tragedy.

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Christmas For Bloggers: Christ’s Example Put To Practice When There’s Nothing Original To Say

Bethlehem Green tintSometimes familiarity does breed a sort of contempt. Boredom is, when you really think about it, a type of contempt for the blessings of life and the opportunities to serve the Lord and people with the talents and abilities He gives us. Boredom loses the sense of wonder, yawning at events that should overpower us with awe.

Even the most devout Christians can approach the Christmas account with boredom, and therefore with contempt. We’ve heard it all so often, from the Holy Spirit causing Mary to conceive to the wise men following the mysterious star. We know about the Old Testament prophecies of Messiah, the angels appearing to lowly shepherds and Christmas making Easter possible.

Sadly,  even the amazing truth of God coming to earth as a helpless infant can lose its impact over time.

Bloggers can struggle at this time of year, feeling pressure to come up with fresh angles to the story. What can we say that hasn’t already been said? How can we capture people’s attention and lead them to a renewed sense of awe? And really, how can we rekindle our own sense of awe?

Several of my fellow bloggers have managed to write essays that have given me insights into Christmas that I’d never had before this year. I appreciate those insights, and have grown in my understanding of the Incarnation because of their blog posts. Thank you, ladies, for teaching me more about the glories of God in human form, and His plan of redemption.

But the things I’ve learned during this Christmas season are only mine to ponder this year — not mine to write. Perhaps next December, when I’ve lived with those concepts for twelve months, I can relay them with my own passion, but right now I’d do little more than parrot what my sisters have written. I fear I’d be flirting with plagiarism.

So what can I contribute to the Christmas conversation in 2017? Nothing particularly novel, I’m sorry to say. Although my fellow bloggers have graciously nudged me out of my boredom with the familiar (praise God), I don’t feel equipped to do the same for my readers without impinging on bloggers that I deeply respect.

Jesus came as the obedient Son of our Heavenly Father. Paul, in this passage so frequently quoted at this time of year, describes the Lord’s humility as both a wonder in itself and an example for Christians to follow.

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. ~~Philippians 2:3-11 (ESV)

I could have taken ideas from my fellow bloggers, reworded them cleverly and passed them off as my own.  Only a few people would have noticed, and several readers might have been impressed with my supposed originality. I would have essentially stolen other people’s work to gain attention for myself.

Instead, I shared one article on Twitter and Facebook (both my personal page and The Outspoken TULIP page). You’ll find the rest on last week’s and tomorrow’s Saturday Sampler. These bloggers did outstanding work, and therefore deserve full recognition.

Meanwhile, may I remember that God Himself became a Man in order to die a humiliating death so that He could bring salvation to those who believe in Him. Any sacrifice I   could purport to make obviously pale in comparison to His humility, but the magnificent example encourages me to avoid selfish ambition.

So, even though other bloggers roused me out of my boredom with Christmas, I come to you empty handed this year. And perhaps my inability to offer any unique perspective can remind all of us of our wondrous Savior Jesus Christ Who emptied Himself for our salvation. O come, let us adore Him!

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Saturday Sampler: December 10 — December 16

Snowmen Sampler

SharaC, who blogs at Into the Foolishness of God already looks forward to the new year in her article, Cheers To The Simple Things. She has a fresh alternative to those pesky New Years Resolutions that none of us keep anyway.

How much do you know about pearls? The End Time author Elizabeth Prata shows us their value in New Testament times, as well as why they held such high value, in her magnificent essay, Pearls in the New Testament. Not only does Elizabeth inform us, but she fills us with wonder at God’s intricacies.

I’ve got to agree with Tim Challies as he identities the 5 Most Ridiculous Books to Ever Become Christian Bestsellers. Whether you watch the short video or read the transcript, you’ll see clear examples of discernment as Challies examines these popular, but woefully unbiblical, pieces of evangelical literature.

Pope Francis, eager to protect God’s reputation (doncha know), wants to change the English translation of The Lord’s Prayer from “lead us not into temptation” to “do not let us fall into temptation.” Denny Burk writes Is the Pope right about the Lord’s Prayer? to raise the possibility that the pope’s modification may actually undercut confidence in the sovereignty of God.

In a study of Romans 12:1-2, Judy Allen gives us A Lesson from Paul on Transformation on the Unlocking the Bible blog. Her brief, but comprehensive, study takes the mysticism out of God’s transforming work in Christians.

Erin Benziger’s series on “acceptable” sins in Do Not Be Surprised has certainly convicted me! Now she concludes it with The Cure for ‘Acceptable’ Sins by directing us back to the reasons for God’s grace and His wonderful ability to transform us. If you’ve read any articles in this outstanding series, please avail yourself of this capstone piece.

Growing 4 Life by Leslie A. always delivers gems such as Enjoying the Ride. Leslie narrates her recent misadventure of a family outing (what could go wrong looking at Christmas lights?), and finds a splendid application to remind us of God’s sovereignty.

Although I’m still in the process of vetting Fred Deruvo, I’ve pretty much agreed with his articles on his Study – Grow – Know blog. In Knowing God’s Will: Focusing on God or Satan?, Deruvo discusses the practice of deliverance ministry from a Biblical perspective. His insights are so needed in today’s evangelical circles.

Evangelicals, and particularly Reformed evangelicals, are grieving the loss of R.C. Sproul this past Thursday. At the same time, we rejoice that Dr. Sproul is in the Lord’s presence. Naturally, many people are publishing tributes to him on the Internet. I can’t begin to read them all, but I hope you’ll read John MacArthur’s post, R.C. Sproul, on the Grace To You blog.

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Saturday Sampler: November 26 — December 2

Flower mask sampler

Oh, praise the Lord for people like Elizabeth Prata who stand firmly on the Word of God! Her essay, Michael did not rebuke Satan in The End Time, needs to get into the hands of so many evangelicals and (especially) Charismatics who presume to command Satan and his demons! Once you read this superb post, I beg you to share it as widely as you possibly can.

The holiday crunch has officially begun, and Ryan Higginbottom of Knowable Word acknowledges that sometimes our time with God’s Word suffers as a result of the busy pace of the season. He writes How to Prevent a Spiritually Dry December to help ensure that we have sufficient Bible intake in the midst of our celebrating.

Doing a devotional study on Psalm 117, Josh Parsons assures us that God is Worthy of Your “Wow” in Unlocking the Bible. His piece will inspire you to worship throughout your day by reminding you how wonderful the Lord really is.

There are  certainly occasions when leaving a church becomes necessary. Yet  Eric Davis, in his post for The Cripplegate, provides suggestions for godly responses When Your Church Disappoints. And really,  every church will eventually disappoint us, no matter how faithful it is to  Scripture. Again,  however, sometimes the Lord does lead us to leave a church. Davis simply presents ideas to try before we call it quits.

Phil Newton, in an article for Founders Ministries, lists several ways that we can assist our pastors as they preach God’s Word each Sunday. The Congregation and the Pulpit encourages us to participate in this centerpiece of Christian worship.

Are you enjoying Erin Benziger’s series on acceptable sins in Do Not Be Surprised? Her latest installment, Acceptable Sins Not Excepted: Worldliness, strikes a good balance between “being in the world and not of it.” The entire series challenges us towards personal holiness in areas we frequently ignore. If you haven’t been reading it, set aside time to do so.

I couldn’t agree more! Prompted by yet another firing of a celebrity for sexual misconduct, Growing 4 Life author Leslie A. lists Four Ways to Love Our Men as they struggle to remain pure in a culture saturated by sex. Ladies, we have a responsibility in helping our brothers in Christ.

Another creative and insightful blog post rolls off Michelle Lesley’s keyboard. A Pox Upon Our House: Three Chronic Diseases Plaguing Women’s Ministry all too accurately diagnoses service ailments affecting the spiritual health of women. Ladies, this article underscores my reasons for constantly calling you back to God’s Word.

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Judge Not, But Be Discerning?

Judge NotBefore we examine ways that Biblical discernment directs our actions, leading us to personal holiness, let’s look at the relationship between discernment and judging. Certainly, discernment is an aspect of judging ourselves, others and the surrounding culture by the standard of God’s Word.

Some of you are probably objecting to what I just typed, frantically wanting to remind me that the Lord Jesus Christ specifically taught against passing judgment. Even the most militant non-Christians believe that verse, which they’ll quote without hesitancy. And of course, I can’t deny that Jesus did, in fact, command us not to judge. But looking at the verse in context helps us understand what He actually meant.

 “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

“Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you. ~~Matthew 7:1-6 (ESV)

And later in the chapter:

15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. ~~Matthew 7:15-20 (ESV)

In the first passage, Jesus condemns hypocritical judgment, commanding that we judge ourselves before judging someone else. Once we’ve properly addressed our own sin through confession and repentance, however, we can discern sin in others. That discernment, in turn, enables us to correct our brothers and sisters in Christ. It also helps us determine when someone wouldn’t receive godly correction (and therefore should be left to God’s judgment).

The second passage goes even further by commanding us to judge whether or not someone is a false teacher by evaluating that person’s teachings and conduct. In essence, the Lord tells Christians to judge those we listen to and read to see how their teachings and conduct lines up with Scripture.

In making judgments, we must first judge our own teachings and conduct. No, we don’t have to be perfect before we judge someone else, but we do need to humbly admit our sin with an attitude of repentance. We can’t coddle our sin, especially if we then condemn the very same sin in another person. We must be willing to turn from that sin through the grace God gives us.

If we self-righteously judge someone for (as an example) dressing immodestly when we’re flirting with somebody at the gym, we need to readjust our focus and deal with our own immodesty before we address that gal who shows too much cleavage. Once we’ve stopped our immodest banter with the guy at the gym (do we really need to work out during the time he goes?), then maybe we can talk to our friend about her wardrobe, acknowledging the struggle both of you have in the area of purity.

Discernment is a good thing, unless we dispense it hypocritically. Jesus calls us to make judgments between good and evil, truth and error and obedience and sin all the time. But discernment must begin with a willingness to judge ourselves first.

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