Guard Your Heart: Purity in a Sex-Crazed World

 

Late night internet addiction or working late

As we continue our journey through the Sermon on the Mount as a faith family, Jesus’ teaching about sexual purity ought to echo in our minds.We have a tendency to think of purity in terms of external actions, but Jesus will have none of that. Purity is not merely about our behavior but about what is going on within our own heart. Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:28 make this clear, “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

In a culture like our own that celebrates sexuality as ultimate, we must be incredibly careful to guard our hearts. In reflecting on Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:27-30, three areas deserve attention.

First, we must be careful about our looking. When we see something that would draw our hearts away from purity, we must look away fast! Whether in person or online, second looks compromise the purity of our hearts. In the face of temptation, we must run! Think Joseph, not David (Gen 39:7-12, 2 Samuel 11:1-4).

Second, we must be careful about our thinking. Jesus’ words remind us that lustful thinking itself is adulterous. In other words, even if the external action of adultery does not occur, if the heart is filled with lust, we are guilty of adulterous intent. We must be careful in what we think about (Phil 4:8).

Third, we must be careful about our responding to sexual sin and temptation. Jesus says that gouging out a right eye or a cutting off a right hand is preferred to sexual impurity. What He means is that we must respond to sin and temptation radically. We can’t play games with our sinful hearts. We must take whatever action is necessary to flee temptation and pursue purity.

We must recognize that knowing Jesus and being close to Him is better than any sinful counterfeit. We must remind ourselves that in God’s presence, “there is fulness of joy” (Psalm 16:11).

What are some practical ways to guard our hearts?

  1. Develop a plan for purity (Job 31:1; When are you most tempted by sin? How can you make changes to lessen or eliminate temptation in those times? Are there places that you need to avoid to maintain a pure heart?, etc).
  2. Confess sexual sin to a mature believer of the same sex (James 5:16).
  3. Do whatever it takes to flee sexual temptation (1 Thess 4:3-4; Change to a flip phone, get rid of the internet, quit going to the gym or the pool, etc).
  4. If you are a believer, recognize that your body is God’s temple (1 Cor 6:19-20).
  5. Help other believers maintain purity (1 Thess 4:8; avoid edgy or questionable joking, immodesty, etc).
  6. If you’re married, maintain intimacy with your spouse (Prov 5:18-19, 1 Cor 7:3-5, Hebr 13:4).
  7. If you are a parent, be diligent in protecting your child’s heart by setting a good example in this area and by using internet filters, parental controls, etc (Prov 5, Eph 6:4).

Click here for information about tools to protect yourself and your family online.

A Closer Look at the Transgender Movement

Transgender Sign

Introduction
Christians who are committed to a biblical worldview must think carefully about transgender issues as well as how to compassionately minister to those who are transgender. We must remain faithful to a biblical anthropology or a biblical understanding of the nature of humanity.

From a biblical perspective, every person is made in the image of God and is worthy of respect and love. God created people with gender, male and female. In this way, gender is a part of God’s good creation and is meant for human flourishing. Further, every person is broken by sin and in need of the Gospel. The following resources will help you explore these issues and help you better minister to and care for others with Christ’s love.

The Inconsistency of Transgender Logic
The following video illustrates how dramatically our culture’s view of reality has shifted and reveals inconsistency in the logic that drives transgender thinking.

Understanding Transgenderism
This article by Joe Carter gives some basic facts to help you as you think through transgenderism. Of note in this article Carter differentiates between transgender and intersex, “Transgenderism differs from intersex, a variation in sex characteristics including chromosomes, gonads, or genitals that do not allow an individual to be distinctly identified as male or female. Intersex is a physical condition while transgender is a psychological condition.” Read more.

Glossary of Terms
In this article, Carter defines various terms related to the transgender movement. Carter says, “I’ve provided definitions for 31 terms commonly used by the gender identity movement. This list is not exhaustive (Facebook allows you to choose from more than 70 gender options) but it should help you better understand the linguistic radicalness of the gender identity revolution.” Read more.

The Faulty Logic of the Transgender Movement
In this article, Kevin DeYoung exposes how the logic of the transgender movement is harmful and is unloving. He considers how a school counselor might respond to an underweight teenage girl who sees herself as overweight. From the article, “As Rebecca walks out the door, your first reaction is to feel a deep sense of satisfaction. She left your office feeling better than when she came. That’s what you like to see. It’s always gratifying to have helped a hurting student. And yet, there’s another thought you can’t quite shake. When you think about her rail thin body, and how desperately she needs food, and how everything must change to conform to her reality, you can’t help but wonder: was this really love?” Read more.

Responding to the President’s Edict Regarding Transgender in the Public Schools
In this article, Andrew Walker considers how to respond to the president’s edict requiring public schools and universities to allow biological boys who identify as girls to use girls’ restrooms and locker room facilities and vice versa. Of note, “Above all, let us remember that this debate isn’t about transgender men or women using the restroom of their choice. Instead, the restroom wars are merely a proxy debate for a larger conflict about what it means to be male and female. As Christians, we’re told God created us in His image. God made men and women as equal, but distinct. These distinctions are beautiful, good and a testament to God’s wisdom in creation. Rewriting laws to conform to the spirit of the age cannot rewrite the laws of nature and nature’s God (Psalm 24:1).” Read more.

Harmful Effects of Transgender Ideology on Children
The American College of Pediatrics, a socially conservative pediatric association, argues that transgender ideology is harmful to children. From the article, “When an otherwise healthy biological boy believes he is a girl, or an otherwise healthy biological girl believes she is a boy, an objective psychological problem exists that lies in the mind not the body, and it should be treated as such.” Read more.

Our Culture’s Hypocrisy Regarding Transgenderism
In the article Kell and Henderson, argue that our culture’s insistence on choosing gender identity does not match what our culture says about a host of other issues. Of particular note in this article, “Is it that we just don’t want someone, anyone, telling us how to live if it goes against what we desire? Do we just want to do what is right in our own eyes? I’m not sure how familiar you are with history, but cultures where everyone did what was right in their own eyes always ended in a pile of rubble. Can we just admit that our desire to do what we want might be driving this brave new world agenda? And is it possible that it is driving it off a cliff?” Read more.

Troubling Questions Regarding Transgenderism
In this article, Trevin Wax considers seven questions that are troubling as one thinks through the transgender movement. Of note, “If the disjunction a transgender person feels between their gender and their body is psychological, why should we recommend invasive surgical procedures to make the body more closely match the mind instead of seeking treatment that might help move the mind closer to the sex they were assigned at birth?” Read more.

Ministering to Your Transgender Neighbor
Denny Burk suggests ten ways to minister to our transgender neighbors. Burk says, “Understand that your transgender neighbor often feels distress over the conflict between their biological sex and their perceived gender identity. There can be a real sense of alienation that they feel from their own body. For some, the experience is quite agonizing. How would you feel if you had to walk a mile in their shoes? We all experience some measure of brokenness due to the fallenness of creation. So we too know what it means to groan (Rom. 8:23). Of all people, that ought to summon forth a compassionate response to our transgender neighbors.” Read more.

How the Gospel Speaks to a Person with Gender Confusion 
In this three part article, Bob Thune explains how he uses the gospel to minister to a person struggling with gender confusion. Thune says, “… you have to get him to delight in Jesus more than money or love or ambition or control or self-interest. The only way to do that is to constantly remind him of his deep brokenness and sinfulness – the “bad news” of the gospel – so that he despairs of his own efforts, and then to constantly rejoice in the powerful grace of God through the cross – the “good news” of the gospel – so that he deeply feels and believes God’s radical love for him.” Read more.

Ministering to a Transgender Person Who Wants to Follow Christ 
In this article, Russell Moore considers how a church might minister to a man who had identified as a woman and who had undergone surgery and hormone treatment to transition to a woman.  Of note, “The first issue is the gospel. Christ Jesus came to save sinners. He offered up his life as a sacrifice, and his bloody cross and empty tomb are enough to reconcile any broken person, including this one, to God. We should abandon any sense of revulsion because Joan’s situation is “weird” or “perverted.” All sin is weird and perverted. The fact any of it (especially our own) seems “normal” to us is part of why we need the gospel.” Read more.

Considering the Implications of the Transgender Decree

President

The sexual revolution that began in the 1960s continues with almost breathtaking velocity. On Friday, the president issued a decree that requires all public schools to permit students to utilize the restroom or locker room according to their gender identity [1]. If public schools are indeed required to conform to the president’s order, biological boys will be able to use girls’ restrooms and change in girls’ locker rooms and vice versa. One wonders where the sexual revolution will lead next.

The implications of such a policy are troubling at many levels. Of course, privacy and safety are obvious concerns. If this policy moves forward, and it most likely will at least eventually, we have to recognize the powerful influence these kinds of policies will have on shaping our children’s understanding and thinking about identity and sexuality.

From a biblical perspective, gender is a good gift from God and is a part of God’s plan for creating stable families and nurturing the next generation (Genesis 1:27, 28; 2:24). When a biblical understanding of gender and the family breaks down, the result is brokenness and pain at an individual level and ultimately instability at a societal level.

How did we get to this place? The answer can be found in Genesis 3. When Adam and Eve rebelled against God, all of creation and every human heart were broken by sin. Thus, struggles with identity and gender are reality in a fallen world. The answer is not to abandon the Bible’s teaching on the nature of humanity and sexuality. Instead, we must compassionately point people to the Gospel, to the hope and healing that are found in Christ and in Christian community.

As the culture continues down the path of the sexual revolution, Christian parents must recognize that a secular understanding of human nature and sexuality are almost certainly going to be persuasive to our children. Consequently, we must be intentional in teaching and training our children in a biblical understanding of human nature and sexuality. Are you intentionally discipling your children?

Also, for those who are married, we must model a God-honoring relationship with our spouse. A godly family will be compelling to our children. Finally, each one of us must love Jesus in a way that our children see the reality of the Gospel and Christ’s work in our lives. This kind of genuine faith that is lived out before our children is critical in passing a love for Christ and commitment to God’s Word to the next generation.

[1] Julie Hirschfeld Davis And Matt Apuzzo, “U.S. Directs Public Schools to Allow Transgender Access to Restrooms,” New York Times, May 12, 2016. 

Teaching Your Little Ones Great Truths about God

Book Cover - Everything a Child Should KnowUndoubtedly, a parent’s responsibility to pass on the faith to their children is of utmost importance. From a biblical perspective, parents are primarily responsible for training and discipling their children (Deut. 6.4-10, Ps. 78.1-9, Eph. 6.4). The church should walk alongside parents as a support in strengthening the faith of children.

On occasion, I come across a resource that will help parents in this essential task. Recently, I became aware of a new book, Everything a Child Should Know about God by Kenneth Taylor. This book helpfully presents major truths about God in a simple and easy-to-understand way. It would be a great addition to family worship times or to the bedtime routine. We have a copy available in our library or you can order it from Westminster Bookstore; I don’t think it is available on Amazon yet.