Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Christian romantic tale and porn

There was something Darrin Hufford said in his book 'God’s honest truth', it goes something like this:

What porn does to a man’s mind is same as what a romantic novel does to a woman’s heart.

Romance and porn are not real. They are fantasies people like to believe for a short period of time for their mental/emotional/physical gratification. They know it's not real, but they like to believe it is real for a moment, because it feels good.

Dictinary.com defines 'romance' like this:

1. a novel or other prose narrative depicting heroic or marvelous deeds, pageantry, romantic exploits, etc., usually in a historical or imaginary setting.
2. the colorful world, life, or conditions depicted in such tales.
3. a medieval narrative, originally one in verse and in some Romance dialect, treating of heroic, fantastic, or supernatural events, often in the form of allegory.
4. a baseless, made-up story, usually full of exaggeration or fanciful invention.
5. a romantic spirit, sentiment, emotion, or desire.
6. romantic character or quality.
7. a romantic affair or experience; a love affair.


In both cases, whether it is porn or romantic novel/movie, when people dare to expect the fantasy to be real, in almost all cases, all we can expect is frustration, disillusionment and depression. Which can eventually destroy relationships.

When a woman approaches her marriage relationship expecting her man to be like the hero in the romantic novels she has read, she is most likely to be disappointed. That is true about a man who expects his woman to be like the girl in the porn.

I am saying all these not to shed light into the dark sides of the unreal expectations people hold on their relationships, but I am trying to link this to something I call 'Christian porn' or Christian romantic tale'.

The promises we proclaim from the sales pitch of pulpit about the advantages of being a Christian are mind blowing. The promises of sinless life, happiness, wellness, prosperity, and a worry-free life. Such promises are like the words I highlighted in the definition of romance: imaginary, colorful, heroic, fantastic, supernatural, baseless, made-up, full of exaggeration and fanciful. It is unrealistic, false and it is simply a lie.

Some of the promises people make to attract people to Christ:
  • You can achieve a state of sinless perfection
  • You will prosper in everything - finance, career, possessions, business
  • You will be free of all sicknesses, even if you fall sick, God will heal you miraculously
  • All your relationship problems will be solved
  • You can do everything through Christ (If you look at the context of this verse you will see a totally different meaning from how it is being used today)
  • You will have a perfect marriage
  • Your lust problem will be solved
  • You will be free of all addictions, and will be free from temptations
  • You will be in a state of continuous 'nirvana'
  • You will be transferred to a supernatural realm where you will float like the white clouds
  • You will not die
  • You will never be lonely
  • You will not lose your loved ones
The list goes on and on. I am not saying none of these are not possible by God, but that is NOT usually the case. Also, there aren't any such promises in the Bible. So, why don't we tell them the truth?

I doubt if there ever lived a Christian legend greater than Apostle Paul. Interestingly enough, while he was tirelessly proclaiming the Gospel, he pretty moved from one prison to another. It doesn't look like a perfect life to me. He suffered from sickness but God said, 'I won't heal your sickness'. He was troubled, distressed, felt the 'sentence of death', were under great pressure beyond his ability to endure (Read 2 Corinthians 1).

Why would he share these depressing things to us? Can't he tell something positive, encouraging, motivating and promising? (The things we like to hear)

This is what he says: 'We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia'

He chose to tell the truth. He didn't try to give us a nice, little package of false promises like many do today. He spoke truth in love. His point was, in the midst of all these problems, he is able to rejoice because he has a hope which is beyond the shortcoming of this world. Folks, we have trouble in this world, to think the contrary is to deceive ourselves.

Christian romantic tales may sound good to our itching ears, but it is not true.

A story made headlines recently about a mega motivational preacher's wife who had a fight with a flight attendant and was being sued. It surprised me to learn that the entire dispute started due to some water spill on the hand-rest of her seat in the flight. She was eventually deplaned and was fined by FAA. I wonder why she failed to apply her husband's well-received spiritual 'principles'? I, myself have heard him preach about 'always putting a smile on our face'. Why did she fail to apply that principle when she saw the spill on her seat?

Why are we giving people unrealistic expectations? Why don't we tell them that each one of us are capable of doing ANY sin under the sun, given the right circumstances? Which includes even murder and rape. Isn't that the very reason why we need Jesus? Isn't it our brokenness what keep us connected to Christ? If not, why would Paul say 'I will rejoice in my weakness'? Why would Paul receive the scandalous response of God, 'My grace is sufficient for you'? Why would Jesus say, 'you will have trouble in this world'? Wasn't Christ's mission to give us hope beyond this world?

I will close with this verse:

For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.- 2 Timothy 4:3-5

14 comments:

Amy said...

Bino,
I fully agree with everything you stated about porn and romance novels. I read "The God's Honest Truth" years ago, as well as hear Darin specifically talk about that subject. Such truth...only if more people KNEW this and understood.

I like how you made the connection to all the lies organized religion has made claim will "happen" once one becomes a Christian.

Amen that Paul was such a blessing of a man. He endured much suffering, didn't "act" as if he didn't struggle, yet through the pain and his weaknesses, exposed how incredible Grace, Love and even Joy is found in the midst of it through KNOWING Jesus's love for him...and us...and engaging in that relationship with God. He was able to realize, that in deep suffering, we actually can draw all the more near to God because we know, without a shadow of a doubt, that HE is the only one who can give us comfort and hope GREATER than the pain itself. I certainly can relate.

I especially love what you wrote here:
"He chose to tell the truth. He didn't try to give us a nice, little package of false promises like many do today. He spoke truth in love. His point was, in the midst of all these problems, he is able to rejoice because he has a hope which is beyond the shortcoming of this world."

Blessings,
~Amy :)
http://amyiswalkinginthespirit.blogspot.com

Ike said...

Bino,
I agree with your post and it looks like you are talking about the "wealth,health,prosperity gospel? Near the end of your post I think you have to be a little careful what you say a "christian" can do. I'm not saying a christian will not sin but his lifestyle will not be sinful. Check out these verses and I want to emphasize the personal pronoun "I". Ezekiel 36:24-27, "For "I" will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land. Then "I" will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean, "I" will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, "I" will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and "I" will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. "I" will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances."

Bino.....do you see any doubt in these words?

lydia joy said...

Hey Bino,
Interesting post! I personally haven't had much interaction with this extreme. But I do see the amazing truths in Scripture about our inheritance in Christ, but not many that live in it.
I think in your list of promises the you will list, that those are things that can happen, and will at times if those in Christ really want and believe. I do know God wants us free! And I know we can grow to a greater degree in many of these things you list. But perhaps as you say, it's not the best to say YOU WILL. However, I sometimes think some may share it that way to inspire faith, but that's just me!
I do have one question. You said Paul suffered from sickness and that God said he won't heal his sickness. Where is that exactly in the Bible? I am curious.
It's sad to hear stories of Christian public figures like the one you mention. I just wish we all realized Christians aren't perfect and can at times be messy, but at the same time, it really does make Christians as a whole look bad, doesn't it stink!!!
Much grace to you!

Bino M. said...

Amy,
Thank you for sharing.
To me, I prefer to expose the positive and negative sides of anything. All the negative things I mentioned here are real (in this world), but the hope what we have in Christ is that His promise that 'He will work everything together for our good'. That doesn't mean He is going to change all bad into good, but even the 'bad' things He will cause for our good ultimately(at the end of it). Most of the time we don't know how. In my own life, I can tell you, He has caused a lot of things I thought were bad into good. It caused me to grow further, to know Him more.

Bino M. said...

Ike,
Thank you for sharing your thoughts! I appreciate your insights.

I'm not saying a Christian will not sin but his lifestyle will not be sinful.

I agree and the verse you quoted from Ezekiel is great and if I am not mistaken the verse is quoted by the writer of Hebrews in NT.

I believe we have a brand new heart, a heart of flesh. Before we became Christian (born again) we were basically bad (wicked), but now, we can say we are basically good. But what I was getting in the post was that we still have the ability to sin. If we don't understand that fact, we can become so judgmental against Christians who sometimes fall into sin. Why when a popular pastor/teacher sins, it gets a lot of media attention? Because people have a false understanding that pastors/teachers or Christians in general for that matter are supposed to be 'holy' all the time, in other words - sinless. That viewpoint is not biblical. Apostle Paul made it clear in Romans 7 when he said 'what a wretched man he is', but right after that he said 'Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!'. In other words, 'Thank you Jesus that you took all sins upon the cross and now I am free of condemnation'. That was exactly the point I was trying to make in the post. We simply cannot act holy all the time.

I can be the most loving person in the world one moment and the next moment I can be a total jerk.

So when we tell people that everything in a Christian's life is going to be perfect and they are going to be sinless, it's simply is not true. People can hold such unrealistic thoughts and can be totally go into self condemnation when they do sin.

To me, the most important thing is, understanding Jesus ALREADY took care of our sins on the cross, so today if we fall into sin, we don't have to feel condemned by God.

Nothing can separate us from His love!

Bino M. said...

Lydia,

Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

The way I understand the 'freedom in Christ' is not necessarily freedom from sickness, freedom from sins, freedom from poverty etc. I believe a person who is homeless and living in street can still be totally free in Christ. Freedom in Christ is freedom from law and there by freedom from condemnation and punishment and ultimately freedom from eternal death. It is the total acceptance in Christ by God. NOTHING can separate us from that love. I believe there is freedom in that.

I don't think God has promised us a problem-free, sickness-free life. Can God heal people who are sick? Absolutely! But not in all cases. Can God give us material prosperity? Absolutely! But not in all cases. I do not believe the people who struggle with sickness or poverty are lacking in 'faith'. After all, faith is not a formula. Faith is believing in what Jesus did for us and who we really are in Christ Jesus.

Though the story of the mega preacher's wife surprised many people, it didn't really surprise God. Christians (no matter how big and popular they are) still have the ability to sin. It is a simple truth.

Now to answer your question about God's answer to Paul:

7To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. 10That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. - 2 Corinthians 12

No, God didn't directly tell that He won't heal the thorn in the flesh but in effect that's what he said. But the marvelous thing here is that Paul was not offended by that answer because he truly knew who he was in Christ.

His power is made perfect in our weakness!

lydia joy said...

Bino,
Thanks for your response! I see what you are saying. I guess I believe differently than you a bit. I believe salvation is more than just freedom from the curse of the law and sin. If salvation in the Greek means, deliverance, preservation, wholeness, healing. I believe Jesus died to restore us from the curse put on Adam and Eve in the garden. He died so we could be restored to "whole" people, like He originally created. Adam and Eve had no troubles until they fell. Anyway, not to get into a big debate or anything, that is where I am at. So, I believe God's wants to heal us, deliver us from bondage to sin, heal our emotions, bind our brokenheartedness and wounds.
You are right about the level of faith thing. I think though what I really mean is when we believe that the Gospel is sozo, we can believe and have faith for those promises of healing and preservation. This doesn't always mean we get these things immediately or anything. It just means we stand on God's promises and His word believing in all the benefits the cross provided.
As for the thorn in the flesh, I don't think Paul is talking about sickness, he's talking about the devil tormenting him. I don't think God makes us sick or wants us sick, he allows it and can work all things together for good. Sickness came after the fall, God didnt' create it! God has better things for us than we realize, it's often a matter of do we want His best, and I think we do, I just think the enemy wants us confused and does a good job from keeping us from living in our entire inheritance. Often this topic of healing and sickness is confusing and sensitive, because we ARE sick and not whole YET, and we look at our circumstances instead of believing what God has to say about it!! Just like before I understood grace, I thought I had a sinful nature still because I still sinned - thankfully, God cleared that up for me and I now believe I am a new creation in Christ!! Hope I am making some sense here :)
Anyway, I suppose we could talk about this a lot more, and I am open, but that's all for now. Much peace to you!

RJW said...

"And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus." Phil.4:19.
That is the Holy Spirit speaking through Paul.
How many is all?
We will only live out of what we believe. "I believe, help thou my unbelief." Mark 9:24.
The sum of our experience of the Life of Christ may never equal the total, but that does not change the Truth of who we are in Him. Truth remains Truth regardless of our perception. We are more than conquerers. We are healed by His stripes. We are holy and righteous. Not because we see it or do it, because He said it. Who are we going to believe? Not the Devil; not some preacher's wife who missed the mark; not our thoughts, actions, or emotions. We are going to believe God and sit back and watch Him be God. He is able and He is faithful.
Grace to you, Bino. :)

Bino M. said...

Lydia,

I do not see this as a debate or anything. To me, this is an exchange of our understandings. It is ok if we don't agree and I am not offended when people disagree with me. I like your honesty and appreciate you taking time to share your thoughts.

Here are some of my thoughts on your last comment:

Yes, He restored us as 'whole' people. But, are we 'whole' in our body?
He has given us a new spirit and a new heart, but NOT a new body. Do you agree?
Our body is still aging, sagging and disintegrating. And one day it will die.
But we WILL get a new (glorified) body at the resurrection, until then we have to live with what we have today which is prone to sickness, pain, wrinkles, obesity, deformity etc. This is not to say that our body is not important.

I don't think God makes us sick or wants us sick, he allows it and can work all things together for good.

I too don't think God makes us sick. Why would a loving Father make His children sick?

The whole point of my post was about the unrealistic expectations people hold in their Christian life. As long as we live in a fallen world with a fallen body we will have problem. But our hope is in His promise that He can work EVERYTHING together for our good.

Bino M. said...

RJW,

I appreciate your thoughts here.

I believe God will meet all our needs. But, how do you define a 'need'?
A car is a need in America, but in India it is a luxury. I have prayed for a 4 bedroom home, but the question is, is it a need? Or is it a want?

Yes, we are healed by His wounds but that healing took place more inside us. Our body is not 'saved' yet. If it is saved why would it die one day?

I agree with you We are not our emotions and feelings. Truth is truth. Jesus said, my kingdom is not of this world. He had an eternal perspective for everything he said, while we are only thinking surrounding us here on earth.

God does provide us. God still heals people. Bible says, it is the same God who sends rain to both righteous and unrighteous. It is His general grace.
But to think healing (for example) is His promise and so He has to do it, is not necessarily coming from the right source.

Again, I am not picking an argument or anything. I am not even trying to prove my point. But I have seen in the past people holding unrealistic expectations about healing, prosperity and sinlessness; and when they don't see any such, they doubt their faith.

There was a woman in the congregation I attended few years ago who had a sick son (chronic food/skin allergy). I remember her asking for prayers for her son. She goes to pastor after pastor to lay their hands on her son and pray. Till today her son is not healed. I know it is difficult. If I have a sick child, I would probably do the same (in my desperation), but if I don't see God healing my child, I would still need to hold my hope beyond the fact whether the healing took place or not.

That is the truth I want to tell people. There are going to be heart aches, pain, sickness, poverty, worry, natural disasters, accidents, evil people, crimes etc in this world. I don't think God is causing them, it is the result of humankind's choice. But even in the midst of all these sickening things, we have hope in Jesus.

RJW said...

Bino,
I appreciate your comments and I understand your point of view.
Why do we see healing manifested in some and not others? I do not know.
I do know that even those that Jesus healed and raised from the dead eventually died.
But Paul says the Life in us will work its way into our mortal bodies.
To me, anything less than what Scripture says is unnacceptable. What if the Life in us could keep us healthy until death? What if our needs are already met in Christ? When what I see and experience doesn't line up with what God says then I have to choose to believe God, not the circumstance. Regardless of my experience.
Watchman Nee illustrates it like this: Truth was walking along a wall with Faith and Experience following. Faith turned from Truth to watch Experience behind him. Experience stumbled which caused both Faith and Experience to fall.
I am just keeping my eyes on Jesus, Truth, instead of experience.
I know you are, too.
What is really cool is we don't have to make this Life work, for us or others. We keep proclaiming the Person and Work of Jesus Christ and God takes it from there.
Thanks for sharing.

lydia joy said...

Bino,
Happy to have a conversation, I don't like debates anyway, not even sure why I said that:)
I think I hear what you are saying....we are not "whole" on the earth, as we are now, no, but I think God wants to restore us to wholeness. There is a lot more I could say about this and why I got to this conclusion, but for now I just want to be open to all that God has for me. I don't know how to explain or feel about why or why not some are and are not healed, but part of it is lack of understanding and believing God's Word about this subject. I don't know about you but I came out of a culture that believed in praying for healing, but that didn't necessarily believe God wants to heal and that God makes people sick to teach them character. I am sorry that is bogus! So you see, just like with the gospel, and with grace the church is still clueless about right believing, in God's truth. I think the more we focus on Jesus finished work and all the benefits of it, we will begin to gradually see more and more folks healed and not just physically but emotionally as well.
I guess for me unrealistic expectations would not entail healing expectations. I would agree that on this fallen earth we can expect trials and sickness, but we don't have to accept sickness as our fate. (that's just what the enemy would want us to do)
Anyway, I just want to live in the truth of the gospel, salvation, sozo, whether my experience lines up with it or not, and I know you do too!
I like what RJW said, "To me, anything less than what Scripture says is unnacceptable."
So I am on a journey to find out more about what God's idea is about all of this.......
Thanks for listening ..... much peace to you!

07000intune said...

What an original and interesting post. And what a balance of comments.
The new Testament as you say is filled with pluses and seeming minuses. The birth of Jesus - but the murder of scores of innocents.
The head of John the baptist, yet the news of his birth and him being filled with the Spirit from birth.
Not sure Paul's thorn is sickness.People build an entire doctrine of unbelief on this, just as Catholics and Anglicans use fonts based on the baptism of Cornelius and his household...we don't know if there were kids or what ages?
But nevertheless, as you say Paul weathered some amazing stuff as well as covering a lot of ground with the grace of God. You've probably seen my new blog http://080808onnowto.blogspot.com/ it may all seem a bit bizarre...but if you look at mature leaders, they do have this presence or glow about them of the inworked Christ, which is not always perceivable among less mature leaders....who may actually be saying pretty much the same stuff. This is what I went on the hunt for since brushing up against Richard Wurmbrandt, Mother Basilea Schlink, Graham Pulkingham, Ern Baxter, Ed Miller...to mention some of the main "glowing " people. I was "sold" on what they said from the first sentence...not for any intellectual reason...at least that came later, but because of the inworked Presence in their lives.

Bino M. said...

Chris,

Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. I see the apparent contrasts in the different stories of NT. Yes, it is interesting...

BTW, I wasn't trying to build an entire doctrine based on the thorn in the flesh passage. My point was the miraculous healing or intervention of God wasn't a norm in the history of Christian faith. As an example I was trying to show that Paul was content with the 'My grace is sufficient for you' response. Whether the thorn was sickness or not is irrelevant, but we know for sure it was some kind of a bodily/fleshly 'weakness'.

For every miracle Jesus did, there was a spiritual application to it. For example: He fed 5000 and taught 'I am the bread of life'. He raised Lazarus from dead and taught 'I am the resurrection'.
What I mean to say is that there was a special purpose for all of the miracles he performed.

Today when I see people expect to see such miraculous interventions of God in every detail of their life, I see it as an unrealistic expectation[This is not to say that God is not involved in every detail of our life (Bible says, even the very hairs of your head are all numbered), but he is not involved in the way we expect on situations]. Those people usually run to a faith healer and expect to be healed by his/her prayer. And usually those people, if they don't see what they expected, they blame their 'faith' to be the culprit. While I totally believe in miraculous healing by God (even today), I do not see it as a norm.

Talking about the sickness, on one other occasion Paul asked Timothy:

Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses. - 1 Timothy 5:23

Note, Paul didn't ask Timothy to pray for divine healing, instead he asked him to take some medicine.

I will checkout your blog to see what you had talked on this topic.