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Because click bait.

Anyway, here is yesterday's Reading Between The Lines video: One Flesh

Essentially I just want to clear a space for a distinctive Christian sexual ethic and give some reasons for why we think in the peculiar way we do. In comments, a thoughtful YouTuber made some points (there weren't any "accusations flying" at all I just put that in my heading to be sensational). "CaptainMikul" (not a Christian) made some excellent points. I've interspersed his questions with my answers.

 

CAPTAIN MIKUL

I respect your view that I should have freedom in my own sexual ethic, but I don't think you get the (rather nasty) sub text of what you are saying...

Marriage, man and woman, sex: Ferrari, beautiful.
Not marriage, man and woman, sex: Beat up old car, not beautiful.
Marriage, man and man, sex: Beat up old car, not beautiful.
Not marriage, woman and woman, sex: Beat up old car, not beautiful.
etc etc.

 

ME

Hey, thanks for commenting. You're right that I didn't go into the male-female aspect of marriage here which I know is a huge issue but I'm trying to keep the videos under 8 minutes.

This means that the Ferrari/Lada analogy is not about hetero/homo-sexuality. I don't have that issue in view at all in this video. The car analogy is simply about how we use sex. Is sex cheap? Is it for anyone or is it just for that one special person? Christians want to keep sex to "one careful owner" so to speak. That's the point with the car analogy.

 

CAPTAIN MIKUL

You're assuming that all Christians must share your sexual ethic. You're fine with me having my own and don't want to legislate against it, and I respect that. But to other Christians who have a different sexual ethic to Christians like yourself, who say their relationship is a beat up old car and that Christians believe that, can have a really damaging effect on them.

 

ME

On the issue of wanting other Christians to agree with me... well there are Biblical texts to be wrestled with. And I think I'm on safe ground to say "This is what Jesus taught about sex" and I think there are interpretations of Jesus' teachings that are valid and interpretations that aren't. People are free to believe what they like, but they are not free to re-write what was written. To use an analogy, You can be a free-market capitalist if you like, but you can't claim that this was the true meaning of Das Kapital. "Marxism" is not infinitely flexible in what it affirms and denies and neither is Christianity.

 

CAPTAIN MIKUL

And then your saying that this is because Jesus gets to dictate what is beautiful in your life. So the Son of God himself thinks that a guy and a guy are not beautiful? Why does he get to decide that, why does He even think that?

 

ME

Jesus gets to tell us the deal with sex if He created it. I'd totally agree that, if He was just one more wise guru we could weigh His thoughts as an interesting 1st century, Jew. But if He made us and knows how life works then His teaching takes on a different character. That's why the big question for a non-Christian is not "what do I think about Jesus' sexual ethics?" but "Who does Jesus think He is to be speaking like this?" That's the question I'd like non-Christians to be wrestling with.

Why does Jesus think sex operates like this? Well heaven and earth, man and woman, Christ and His people are these parallel pairings throughout the Bible (from the very first verse). And the Bible sees these pairs as "made for each other." Man and woman coming together is part of a cosmic love story. It mirrors the way God loves the world, the way Christ gave Himself for His people. It's about equal opposites combining in this life-giving way. No wonder then this how life comes to our species. Man and woman becoming one has been the way of life from the beginning. If man or woman "plays the field" that tells a different story to the cosmic love story. Likewise, Man sticking with man or woman sticking with woman tells a different story. For the Christian, sex means something beyond the sexual desires of the individuals involved. It is a proclamation of profound truths. Once again, I don't expect you to agree with this sexual ethic because you don't agree with the underlying "profound truths" but you asked why Jesus would even teach this stuff. And that's the beginning of a sketch of an answer.

 

CAPTAIN MIKUL

You seem alright, I doubt you have a bad bone in your body, but can you not see the problem of presenting as loving and beautiful a deity who dictates that others relationships are not worthy?

 

ME

Thanks so much for the tone and thoughtfulness of your comment. I don't see any problem with "a deity who" tells us what sex means in the world that he has made. The implications of that teaching are that there are more faithful and healthy uses of sex and less faithful and less healthy uses of sex. That seems absolutely consistent with a loving, beautiful God.

Let me finish with an analogy: If I was a Buddhist and this was a 7 minute video on the crazy-beautiful way of vegetarianism, would that be offensive? Imagine if I said in the video that "For Buddhists, meat is murder"? I imagine that most people would be completely fine if I said "Buddhists have a cosmic vision of life and meat-eating does not fit into it, so for us meat is forbidden." I don't imagine that there would be comments saying "I eat meat and I'm offended." Or "Some of my best friends work in an abattoir, how dare you say they are unworthy!" I imagine everyone would shrug their shoulders and say "Fair enough, I disagree, pass me the bacon sandwich." Why is this video different to that?

 

I haven't yet received a response from him. But I'm thrilled that people are interacting on the issue.

 

 

In 2016 I'm going to be video blogging my way each day through the Bible, phrase by phrase. We will travel from Genesis to Revelation - from "In the beginning" to "Hallelujah", stopping off at each famous line along the way. Lines like "The writing's on the wall", "He gave up the ghost", and "They turned the world upside down."

Hopefully it will give you an overview of the Bible's big story but most of all I trust it will give you an enlarged picture of Jesus Christ: the origin, centre and goal of all Scripture.

In advance of these 366 posts, I've been doing some pilot episodes as a Christmas devotional. They're just shot on my phone at home and are a bit longer than the 6-7 minute episodes scheduled for the new year. But have a look...

In the new year we'll shoot them on proper cameras and the episodes will be shorter but you get the idea. If you want to join in on Reading Between The Lines, please subscribe to our YouTube channel and/or like our Facebook page. That will keep you up to date with each new devotional.

With prayers that this will bless, encourage and equip many,

Glen

DOWNLOAD THE VIDEO

TAKE THE TEST

READ THE BOOK ONLINE

ORDER THE BOOK

 

WORDS:

“Every idiot who goes about with “Merry Christmas” on his lips should be boiled with his own pudding, and buried with a stake of holly through his heart.” Ebenezer Scrooge.

SCROOGE

I like the darkness... at least it’s cheap,
I keep adjusted to the gloom, the creeping doom,
that soon consumes the earth in tombs,
I hum its tune. Assume its tone and make my home right here
in the only world we know.
This world of woe.
Let others throw their festive flings,
I think I’ll keep my five gold rings.

SHOPPER

Four Calling Birds, Three French Hens, Two Turtle Doves,
She loves the doves.
Yeah shove it on the card above.
...No never fear my dear, I’ll pay it all...
Next year.

For now we’ll drink to Christmas cheer!
And deck the halls with tinselled bling,
Forget what our tomorrows bring
We’ll raise a glass of festive sherry,
Eat and drink and be quite m...

SANTA

Merry Christmas everyone! And what's your wish for me, my son?

A hamper full of festive fun!
With snowdrops, rainbows, furry mittens;
unicorns and mewling kittens.

Santa's sleigh may bring them near, but were you good for me this year?

Why YES, I think. I didn’t sink as low as some I know...
although…
Hey, No!
Father Christmas, mind your own business!

The kids might believe but they are naive.
I know for certain, I see through the curtain.
But when you strip it all bare, what exactly is there?

See Scrooge looks darkness full in the face,
embracing the chill but he loses the will to hope

The Shopper copes better, throws off fetters,
wears garish sweaters, but becomes a debtor,
spending now but nothing later,
tending down into death’s crater.

Santa offers Christmas cheer,
the most wonderful time of the year,
but is it real?
At least Scrooge knew the deal with the dark.

In this stark world can we face facts like Scrooge?
Then paint it rouge like the Shopper?
Proper banter like Santa,
But below the Ho, Ho, Ho, can we know a truth beneath treacle?

Good news of great Joy for all people?

STABLE

Are we able to strip back to the stable,
This fable made flesh, our Maker enmeshed in the mess.
To bless us, possess us, and be heaven’s Yes to our race.
To embrace us in grace, evermore in our place.
Pledging flesh, blood and bone. To exchange a throne for a manger.
Endangering all to be present to you. To be God’s present to you.

If you’re Santa or Shopper, or any such thing.
If you’re shepherd, or Mary or Joseph or king.
For this the herald angels sing.

In Him the Light shines and all is forgiven.
To you this Christmas Child is given.

 

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A previous video for The Sermon

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All YouTube Sermons

All Vimeo Sermons

 

Check out our Easter Spoken Word videos BREAD OF HEAVEN and CANNONBALL

Plus, here's some stuff you're welcome to rip off if you like...

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Gethsemane:

Here's an idea for an all-age sermon / school assembly. It's a game of pass the parcel where the parcel is a poisoned cup. There's a song to go with it:

 

.

Also for Maundy Sunday, I love this setting of When You Prayed Beneath the Trees.

Forget the singer, Christopher Idle's song's in my top 5 all time hymns.

 

Cross

Seed Song (Jesus is the Seed who dies and rises to bring life)

 

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Resurrection

Firstfruits

 

Easter Morn (the song that became 'Firstfruits' - no round)

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Little Fish! (Jesus is bigger than death)

 

Some Easter Sermons

Hebrews 2:14-18 (Last Sunday's sermon)

Some Talks By Others About Death (and Resurrection)

Dev Menon: Death Part 1 (Good Friday)

Dev Menon: Death Part 2 (Easter Sunday)

John Behr: Death the Final Frontier

John Behr: Taking Back Death

 

Videos

Some Easter .

 

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Feel free to DOWNLOAD the video and use it in church / youth group / wherever.

And here's me explaining the teaching behind the video

Our other spoken word videos:

 

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It's the fairy tale we all believe in - connection, completion, love without parting. The merest glimpse of it captures our hearts. But is the fairy tale real? Is there such a thing as endless bliss, unconquered love and a happily ever after?

Countless failed relationships and a beckoning grave cry out No. Love does not seem to have the last word in our lives - decay, disease, divorce, depression and death does. Can we really believe in love?

The answer is Yes, but only because there is a love despite our deserving, a love stronger than death, a love beyond this world. Jesus makes the fairy tale true - not just for bright-eyed young couples on their wedding day. Because of his blood-earnest, death-defying love, Jesus can bring us all into the ultimate romance. Whatever your relationship history or status, this bliss is for you!

WORDS

You

beside me.

Me: beside myself with you.

Beyond myself in you,

Become myself anew,

Belongs, this self, to you.

 

You

behold me.

Me: behold the world in you.

Besotted with the view,

Bewitched by all you do,

Beguiled by guileless you.

 

We

believe this:

This bedtime tale

Though countless fail

Though pride derail

Though death curtail

We believe this.

This bliss

Beseiged by hatred’s hiss

Beset by graves' abyss

Betrayed despite our kiss

We believe this.

 

But is this bliss true?

Or only for the few

And then sinks from view

Is it true?

Beneath the tale,

Before we fail,

Beside what’s frail,

Beyond death’s vale?

Is it true?

Not only for the few

And then sinks from view

Is it true?

 

He

Beheld me.

Me: deep held in my disgrace.

He bends now face to face,

Becomes me in His grace,

Befriends me, takes my place.

 

He

Betrothed me.

Me: bestowed the world for free.

Bequeathed by royal decree,

Beloved eternally,

Become as one: He with me.

 

This, beneath all other glories

This, beyond the bedtime stories

This, beside your marital station

This, love’s sweetest consummation.

This is true.

Never to sink from view.

Not only for the few.

This bliss is for you.

 

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They look fresh, bright and lively, surrounded by family, fun and festivities - Christmas trees are a great picture of our human condition. We too may dress ourselves up in achievements and surround ourselves with great experiences, but we're perishing - cut off from our true Life-source in God. Thankfully, Christmas gives us the answer. Real life has been born into our world. In connection with Jesus we "may not perish but have eternal life."

Please share the video and offer true hope this Christmas.

See our previous Christmas videos here.

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