Why Pornography Harms

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On this blog we have often talked about the same sex marriage controversy and how it poses a threat to both religious liberty and the family unit. However, the elephant in the room that is rarely publicly discussed in evangelical circles is pornography, an evil that arguably poses just as much threat (if not a bigger threat) to the family unit. A 2008 study of 813 college students from six different college campuses participated in a survey [1]. Of young men aged between 18 and 26, a whopping 86% admitted to having viewed pornography in the past year. 48.4% admitted to viewing pornography on a weekly basis. 19.3% admitted to viewing pornography nearly every day. It is a popular myth that pornography is only a guy problem. But, of the young women in the same age range, 31% confessed to having viewed pornography in the last year, and 3.2% confessed to having viewed pornography on a weekly basis. What was particularly striking is that 67% of young men and 49% of young women believed that pornography use is acceptable, which means that many young men (87% of whom were users) were viewing pornography even though they regarded it as an unacceptable practice.

Pornography addiction is a plague upon the modern professing church, and while it is well and good to be criticizing the same sex marriage agenda, evangelicalism would do well to remove the plank from its own eye before removing the speck from another’s. Many within the church are willing to take a stand against the gay agenda, but how many are willing to examine their own hearts and deal with the elephant in the room that is pornography?

But what about church leaders? How are they fairing in keeping their minds pure? According to a 2002 survey of 1351 pastors, conducted by Rick Warren’s website Pastors.com, 54% confessed they had looked at online pornography within the past year and 30% of those had visited within the last 30 days. And that’s just the honest ones!

Many people don’t realize that there are some solid scientific reasons for thinking that the viewing of pornography is harmful to the brain. Pornography is not merely a moral issue, for it hard wires the brain in unhealthy ways. In this blog post, I am not going to present any moral or theological arguments for avoiding pornography — although there are plenty of those. Instead, I am simply going to look at the scientific facts and show why I think the behavior of viewing pornography is harmful, regardless of where you stand on issues of religion and ethics. [Read more...]

The 5th Wave: I Am The Battlefield

“I may be the last one, but I am the one still standing. I am the one turning to face the faceless16101128 hunter in the woods on an abandoned highway. I am the one not running, not staying, but facing. Because if I am the last one, then I am humanity. And if this is humanity’s last war, then I am the battlefield.” – Yancey’s favorite quote from The 5th Wave

Rick Yancey’s The 5th Wave has received starred reviews in Publisher’s Weekly and Kirkus, the New York Times and Goodreads both listed it as one of the best YA books of 2013, Entertainment Weekly thinks it might be “the next big thing,” and Sony Pictures is currently in the process of bringing this book to the big screen. The much anticipated sequel, The Infinite Sea, is being released today.

The 5th Wave is an ambitious alien invasion story written for both YA and adult audiences, packing not just one but five extinction events into one book. Aliens have been waiting patiently for decades to take over east, infusing their essence into unborn babies and lying dormant until the right time for an invasion. They begin their attack with Four Waves of disasters that obliterate most of humanity. The embedded aliens manifest in their human hosts to infiltrate – and then eradicate – the remnant of humanity in a decisive 5th Wave of human/alien hybrid assassins. These Silencers have brought the sucker punch. Up to this point, humanity had feared the aliens. Now they have to fear themselves. [Read more...]

A Defense of the Minimal Facts: Part 1

I was recently sent an article by Matthew Ferguson of Adversus Apologetica where he attempts to knock down the minimal facts approach. Looking through the article, I was largely unimpressed. For those interested, it can be found here:

The minimal facts approach is used by Gary Habermas and Mike Licona. This strategy take facts that even liberal scholarship acknowledges and argues from there that the best conclusion that can be reached from what we know is that Jesus rose from the dead.

Much of this is done to avoid going to the gospels. As Habermas has said, the gospels were written, by liberal standards, 40-70 years after the facts. The minimal facts approach is also used to avoid “The Bible says it happened, therefore it did,” approach, as Habermas and Licona use facts that are agreed upon by non-Christian scholars in the field.

So what does Ferguson say? [Read more...]

Articulating One’s Beliefs Can Be A Challenge

images-11Introduction.

Despite the fact of my not posting since the beginning of the month, I have not lost sight of the mission. Working with the people I work with, some of them being some of the most profane people that I have ever come across, I have not lost sight with how I am “wired” and the ministry mission. Even though where I am (on my job) during a good chunk of the week, I know the presence of the Lord and the conviction of His Holy Spirit, even while I “occupy Mordor” and pray for a change.

Thankfully I still do get to enjoy a day off during the week, and I am going to be protecting that day in the coming weeks for specific reasons, that I will not mention here. In spite of all the demands of my job, this week was a wonderful day off and allowed me to speak to a repair man for one of our appliances, and a handful of students at the Germanna campus.

What was the nature of these conversations? They were spiritual in nature, and I would like to share here some thoughts on what I learned about these conversations.

The Need for Articulating the Christian Faith

One of our appliances stopped working and we needed some outside assistance. Even though I was able to unstop a bathroom sink and our bathtub drain (thank you YouTube), I was not able to work this task.

The appliance repair company “rep” that came and assisted us is a Christian and attends a large local Baptist church regularly and adult Bible fellowship on a regular basis.  How did I know he was Christian?

Thankfully he shared that with my wife and me, by sharing the message on the back of his business card. When I asked him his understanding of his message, he started sharing with me a basic message of salvation and how Jesus died  for our sins on the cross. Of course I was happy to see him start there. However when I continued with him on his understanding at a deeper level, he started struggling. Why was there a struggle?

Allow me to share my concerns, as they are very similar ones that I am hearing in other conversations. [Read more...]

Sufism – Origin and History (Part 2)

2014-08-24-22-53-36-222038528Prophet Mohammed seems to be the first Sufi, communing directly with Allah. The early followers who were with him received revelations from God directly through them and formed the early Sufi school. The Hadith talks about ‘Ihsan’ or worship as one of the aspects of Islam and the Quran also talks about the purpose of God creating humans and Jinns is so that they may worship him.“I created the Jinns and humankind only that they may worship me.” Quran 51:56“He (the inquirer) said: You have told the truth. He again said: Inform me about Ihsan. The Prophet replied; That you worship Allah as if you are seeing him, for though you don’t see him, verily he sees you” – Hadith, Sahi Muslim Book 1:1

Early Sufism started as brotherhoods or tariqas. Over the time as it progressed into the middle ages, it developed a distinct feature of having a ‘Shayk’ or a guru who as a head of a Sufi school taught disciples to live out Islam. Sufism came to be identified with these tariqas and the ‘shayk’ who headed these had distinctive practices which came to define them and give them identity.Sufism is the branch of Islam which could accomodate local Islamic practices and cultural variations and provide people a culturally relevant local variant of Islam. Sufism was also very missional and brought a lot of people in Asia into the fold of Islam. [Read more...]