Austinomics

Logic and Interpretation Need not Apply

A couple of weeks ago I had the unfortunate experience of running into a preaching couple on campus. Like your typical southern evangelist that shows up on campus, this pair’s purpose for coming to campus was to damn every person that walks by for being a sinner, and, condemn them to Hell. Last week it was Brother Micah and his wife on campus. Normally I never talk to these people, because there is pretty much nothing you can say or do that will win any favor with them. They will simply pull verses out of context and use the verses themselves as reasoning. Indeed, this past week was no different. Brother Micah was on campus to presumably try to bring others to Christ – a fact for which I actually condoned him for. For too many of us Christians spend day to day as functioning atheists, not looking for opportunities in which we can serve Christ or at least better preparing ourselves for that time. Instead of bringing anyone to even want to learn more about Jesus, Brother Micah initiated a response that I can only imagine is probably a common theme across his campus tours… Women took off their clothes, men kissed other men, and women kissed other women, simply to spite Brother Micah and his wife.

As I mentioned, I normally don’t care to talk to these guys, but a few Tuesdays ago I actually decided to just stop and listen. After Micah had finished talking with someone, I went up to him and said, “Hey, I respect you actually getting out and wanting to draw people to Jesus, but I’m not sure if this is the best way to go about it.” He blew up on me. Indeed he condemned me for everything you could imagine. He said I had no chance of being saved, and even said, “I know you’re not saved because you have not quoted any scripture to me word for word.” Absolutely insane. All I wanted to do was try and have a conversation — understand his perspective even — as to why he thought this approach was better than actually, you know, loving and serving your neighbor as yourself. I unfortunately didn’t get any of that.

Instead, I wonder now what is the basis for his beliefs. And, I am pretty sure, he is using scripture as an idol. Indeed the level of certainty he had was the equivalent to the level of “faith” he had. In John 5:39-40, Jesus says, “You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” Indeed, Jesus is the bread of life (John 6:35) and all throughout the New Testament we are called to look like Jesus, which looks like the cross (1 John 3:16, Romans 5:8). It is on the cross in which we see the fullness of God’s love demonstrated. But if you’re not looking like the cross but yet judging as only God can judge then you must be wonderfully certain that your knowledge of scripture is what leads your to salvation. Case in point is when he told me I would not be saved because I hadn’t quoted any scripture. Brother Micah lives his life very much like the Pharisees in Jesus’ time in which he has memorized scripture thinking in the scripture itself had life.

Gregory Boyd in Benefit of the Doubt puts it wonderfully when he says (alluding to John 5:39-40), “This episode demonstrates that the way we believe what we believe can transform what we believe into an idol that actually blocks us from getting life from Christ – even when what we believe is completely true! And this happens whenever we are confident we are okay with God because of what we believe rather than because of our relationship with the one true source of life. If what makes us feel okay with God is our confidence in the correctness of our beliefs, then our confidence in our beliefs is, in effect, our god. This is what gives us our false sense of life.”

Thoughts on Pornography and the Degration of Women

This evening I went to The Village church in Denton, TX. The lesson was on the creation of Man and Women, but if you’ve ever listened to Matt Chandler, everything remotely related to the scripture will be brought up. One of those things that was brought up tonight was something I’ve never blogged on: pornography.

To understand my thoughts on this subject, we must start in Genesis. Specifically we’re only looking at two verses, Genesis Chapter 1 verses 26 and 27. These verses read:

[26]Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.” [27]So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

At first glance, these two verses appear to just tell the basic story of creation of humans. While on the surface that is correct, we must look a little deeper into the meaning. If you are a Christian then you undoubtedly believe that God is perfect. Therefore, to be made in the image of God automatically gives beings made in this image self worth. Human worth is not dependent on possessions, achievements, attractiveness, or any other worldly materials but rather on the fact that each person is made in God’s image and shares His characteristics.
So, I can hear you asking, how is this related to pornography? Great question. When you watch porn you go from having the ability to appreciate a fellow human being made in God’s image to treating the human being as a product not made in His image and used for consumption. Indeed you are essentially stripping the self-worth from that human.

For this to make the most sense, you must read Genesis Chapter 1 up to verse 26. Before God created human beings, he created other things such as plants, trees, and animals made for consumption. These things God did not make in His image because plants and animals cannot reflect characteristics of God such as love, patience, forgiveness, kindness, and faithfulness. Therefore, when you consume pornography, you are treating the human as not someone with self-worth made in the image of God, but rather a product. This does not stop with pornography however. In fact, the same analogy applies to, and in my opinion intensifies, when talking about strip clubs, “massage parlors”, prostitution, and human trafficking.

When watching porn, hiring a prostitute, or going to a strip club, you are literally stripping that persons’ worth and degrading them. There is no little girl or boy that grows up wanting to be a stripper or a porn star. Indeed there is an innate sense of self-worth that comes from being made in God’s image that drives us towards other professions. It is only during the most desperate times do people choose to go down this path because they feel they have no other options. Wouldn’t it be a great world if there was so little demand for adult-entertainment that strip clubs and prostitutes could not make money? How about instead of pushing these people down and declaring they have no self worth by consuming them we actually were to bring them up and recognize the divine image in each person?

But, Austin, it’s just entertainment, after all, being a student of the free market, do you not support a voluntary transaction of services? Indeed I am very free-market oriented, boarder-line libertarian. However, I believe the consumption of pornography, prostitution, and the like can easily have the “coolidge effect”  which could lead to infidelity, paying prostitutes, and even just looking at all women lustfully. These things are bad enough, but when you combine infidelity into the married home, you are clearly asking for disaster. Man is suppose to project the image of God and lead his family to also project the image of God and show His grace. However, by choosing to treat people as products for consumption rather than recognizing their divine characteristics, you are not aligning yourself under God which you must do in order to lead your family to project His greatness. In the end, this infidelity can split a family causing children to not only not know their biological father, but also not know their Father in Heaven, as there is no man to be the head of the household.

Also – just a quick note… while I mostly wrote this post from a male-accusation perspective, women are not immune here. BYU reports that 33.3% of pornography website visitors are women. I will let someone else write from that perspective though…

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