Archive for the ‘Richard Perkins’ Tag

LOOK BUT… ACTUALLY, DON’T EVEN LOOK!

Who am I to give advice?? Well, I’m a married 30-year old chap which, in CCB’s evening congregation, pretty much puts me among the wise old heads. What’s more – I am someone who has by necessity put a long time and a substantial amount of effort into figuring out quite how it works being a man of God in a culture redolent with female flesh. In short; I, like so many others I’m sure, for a long time felt guilty about EVERYTHING and thus gave up on myself as a hopeless case, becoming a guilty prisoner to lust in all its myriad forms. I so wish someone had given me some honest-to-goodness decent advice on the issue. As it was, I felt so alone and helpless that I felt sure there was a demonic element in my inability to remain oblivious to the feminine allure as revealed around us in a thousand daily forms. I honestly believed I was possessed… turns out I was simply male.

So – first and foremost – as a heterosexual youngish man in the West, let me make clear that of which I am convinced: you can not and, barring some special gifting I am yet to encounter, will not remain oblivious to the physical charms of the fairer species. We are not wired that way. Of all God’s beautiful creation, the part of it we are most likely to appreciate is the female form. God intended and created it thus.  

And yet… whilst that realisation should serve as something of a relief, I’m afraid that’s as far as the allowance goes. We are fallen creatures in a fallen world. What’s more, due to the particular and extreme manifestations of sexual sin in our particular culture, we have each been further damaged by a visual and anecdotal over-familiarity with that which should have been kept hidden until marriage; female nudity and sexual behaviour, down to the act itself and beyond. We are therefore not to be trusted when it comes to keeping such observations of women sexless and pure. Anything beyond that initial recognition has to be subject to the greatest self-control and, in the case of the married man and the random stranger, ruled out entirely. In fact, the initial recognition must serve as our alarm bell. To let our eyes drift downwards at that point – not cool. To store the image for later lustful access – not cool. To later click through internet sites pursuing other such fine specimens of the gender – not cool.

Perks and others refer to this as the ‘second look’ approach, meaning that, whilst we may not be able to help the first glance we stumble upon, we very much stand accountable in going back for a second lingering helping. In simple terms, she isn’t yours. She is, in all probability, somebody else’s – or will be. In implicating her in your adultery (going by Jesus’s definition of the term) you are dishonouring her and the man she goes home to. As an engaged ‘semi-Christian’ I caused my wife-to-be a great deal of hurt, and effectively held up our wedding by a year, in admitting the mess I had become on this issue. I’ll say it again – I felt guilty for everything, including my being tempted in the first place. I therefore gave up on myself and ended up no longer trying. I hate to think of it – I was a secretive furtive pervert increasingly unable to look the girl I loved in the eye. There was a way out of the black hole – through honest communication, repentance and discipline that the world deems unfashionable and unnecessary. But the trap is always only one step backwards and I truly want Christian brothers to be ruthless with themselves in ensuring they do better.

There’s plenty I don’t know. If I was a single man reading this I’d be thinking that it’s all very well for me to write this knowing I share a bed with a beautiful woman – but how exactly are the unmarried meant to get relief? Truth is I don’t really know what to advise so I won’t claim otherwise. However, I do know that we must be distinctive and we must haul ourselves out of the gutter – the church is full of ineffective men rendered so because they are in chains of guilt and secrecy over lust. The answer is not to legitimise lust, but to hold one another to account. And by looking a woman in the eyes rather than anywhere else we will make ourselves so distinctive – we’ll be saying we value them for something more than what they offer sexually. As a teacher of teenagers I can assure you that will be different and valuable. As I’ve stated before, we are raising a generation of boys who routinely have hardcore degrading sex on their mobile phones from the age of 13 and they struggle to see girls in any other light. We must, for their sakes and our own, be different.

PS I was going to write about masturbation but the Lord stayed my hand. Ho ho…

PPS Any girls reading this – sorry… but I bet you read to the end!

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GREATEST HITS FROM BLOGWORLD ’09

I am rubbish at reading Christian books. Or any books really of late. It’s a great failing. It really doesn’t fit with my bookish self-image! Outside of holidays, it’s really just the five minutes before falling asleep in bed when I even try to catch up. I seem unable to fit old-fashioned reading into my routine since I stopped getting the train to work. Thankfully we live in times suited to the busy life and the poor attention span. The blogosphere is here, and is designed to give us bite-size chunks of information and opinion, often as written by those authoring the very Christian books I don’t get around to read. I have become quite a fan…

 

And now it’s time to share. So here we go with a greatest hits compilation of 2009 thus far. It’s by no means comprehensive, as I haven’t been planning for such an eventuality. However, courtesy of the starring system on Google Reader, it does at least represent articles that particularly struck me as I read. So, give it a lunch-break, click on the links and read on…  

 

BEST OF BOTH WORLDS

This is SUCH a good post by Jam Carey – a true call to arms for godly living…

 

TRANSFORMING GRACE

Wow. A cancer scare dealt with in honest and godly terms. This is blogging at its most real and compelling by Neil Robbie.

 

TIM CHESTER 1

Two Tim Chesters as I don’t want to miss out either one. This one is a great aid to leader accountability…

 

TIM CHESTER 2

And this one is just unbelievable. It’s a godly guide to washing up. It’s not done as an amusing example – nor as metaphor. It’s just that – a detailed, serious guide to godly washing-up. A reminder that we all have some way to go!

 

THE RESURGENCE

This guy is awesome – not Driscoll this time, although this is his blog, but US soldier Al Lobaina – living godliness in the midst of a brutal war. Macho Christianity!

 

UGLEY VICAR

Just a fascinating concept – that the whole Creation story is about the Sabbath… I am long overdue an examination of what the Sabbath means today. I truly have no idea…

 

SOLA PANEL 

Driscoll went to Australia and told them everything they were doing wrong. Fair dinkum to these Aussie blokes for reacting to it without the understandable kneejerk…

 

SOLA PANEL 2 Another one from the Aussies – their own voice not really represented by the first after all. This is a great help in planning group studies. 

 

PLAY THE MAN Fantastic encouragement for anyone feeling the apparent hopelessness entailed in praying for the conversion of intellectual atheists.

 

FOOD4THOUGHT

Pertinent to the post… Perks’ thoughts on those like me who are failing to read the real stuff!

 

DESIRING GOD

One of the most powerful moments of the year so far, I think, was seeing this. Like some kind of Old Testament judge, Piper delivers a thundering message to the incoming President.

 

INTERNET MONK

This really got me thinking. Are Bible-believers letting the Bible limit their outlook? Internet Monk does controversy as ever!

 

THE GUARDIAN – COMMENT IS FREE

Not a Christian post. A really fascinating insight into the other side of atheism. A God-shaped gap indeed…

 

AND FINALLY… And this is your reward. A rare secular link – for the movie geeks among you!

 

 

LADS WEEKEND AWAY

Posted 11/1/09

I just got back from a CCB Lads’ Weekend Away and wanted to post a few immediate thoughts on it…

a) It was brilliant. Genuinely. Why? Well the teaching was great – encouraging, wise and challenging; it was great to hang with mates and get to know them better; the discussions was frank, honest and helpful (and very much of the sort we wouldn’t been having if there had been girls around the table!); the setting was awesome; the card games were competitive… I feel very well served by the weekend I just had – if a little knackered.

b) Cross-pollination is helpful. I know that last year it was done as a ‘dads weekend’ and a ‘lads weekend’. That may be necessary as dads, in particular, do face distinct challenges. However, it was good for the church that morning and evening chaps got to know each other properly – the wisdom of the more mature among us proved invaluable for spiritual input, but also as a reminder that they still face many of the same challenges as the ’20-somethings’ (a category I can apply to myself for one more month!). The healthy mix of worlds was, I think, best summed up by the music requests on Saturday evening – Rolf Harris followed by The Prodigy! An eye-opener for everyone…

c) Summary of the material: Perks spoke twice; on lust and idolatry. The former contained great practical advice and honest appraisal. Having examined David and Bathsheba, I will remember for myself the practical conclusions that David should never have had so much idle time on his hands, should never have ventured onto the roof in the first place, and, having placed himself in moral danger, should then have jumped off the slippery slope at the earliest possible stage instead of letting things develop beyond any original intention! It is vital to understand the combination of true forgiveness and hard consequences that he subsequently faced. The latter talk’s concept that all sin is first a consequence of idolatry, valuing other things more than God, was complimentary to the material of the first talk but built upon it – the idea of us addressing ‘the heart’ first and foremost was particularly unfamiliar and instructive.  

The Driscoll e-book ‘Porn Again Christian’ was challenging and led to good discussion. Even so, I am not entirely behind it. Much of what it says is important – pornography is tearing up the young men of the church and we all need to stop making excuses, particularly for the sin that often accompanies masturbation. However, I felt it was unhelpfuly harsh, particularly on that very issue of taking things ‘in hand’… there seemed an acknowledgement that married men have ‘needs’ and need a ‘Plan B’ when full sex isn’t an option. However, it seemed not to imagine that single men have any such requirement, essentially telling them to stop everything and, if necessary, get married (quite clearly not the simple option in many cases – particularly to the oversexed 15 year old, living in this hypersexed world!)… the instruction is particularly tough when married to the graceless assertion that ‘men who remain enslaved to sexual sin will die in their sins and wake up in the eternal torments of hell’. Not if they place their faith in the perfection of Christ they won’t. Having identified the guilt that so traps young Christians on account of these issues I’d like to see Driscoll’s book offer a little more compassion and a bit more practical advice alongside the unmistakeble wake-up call.

Sunday saw Pete leading a session on the decisions we make as men – really fascinating and, to me, totally new stuff on the source and process of our ethics. His second session sent us away with a Bible to look up and share our favourite passages concerning the nature of Christ – again, original and hugely rewarding. Perhaps my favourite moment was when we then sang together – a bunch of often repressed men, comfortable with one another, ganing in volume and passion throughout our rendition of Amazing Grace, all but taking the roof off with the certainty of that awesome final verse.

d) I hope the girls are as well served next week as we have been. Our church has a deliberate lack of female leadership from the front, but this can make it tough to offer our girls specific teaching of the stature offered by Pete, Perks, or any other Co-Mission leader (assuming none of them are invited). It does worry me that Nina has rarely been challenged or held accountable in the way I have been over numerous meals, drinks and coffees from the likes of Angus, Ed, Perks and others among our CCB senior ranks. There is an idea I’ve heard expressed around our neck of the woods that girls automatically look after one another whilst men need the extra help. I have seen little to support this (no criticism of our girls – I just mean their femininity isn’t some automatic shortcut to Christian growth and mentorship – many just feel like fish out of water in the strange old world of church!).

Lots there – thanks for the great weekend anyone who was there. I’ll post soon regarding my New Year Detox (Retox?) folowing December’s particular rubbishness. It’s been an interesting start to the year…