Listening to a conservative talk show host recently, (a practice I encourage only in moderation. After all, if John Wesley is right in thinking that most people cannot talk for more than twenty minutes at a time without saying something they shouldn't, it stands to reason that three hours a day is superfluous, even counter-productive) I was forcefully reminded of my disassociation with the mainstream evangelical movement in our country. The topic at hand was Jude Law, an actor, exposed in immorality with a woman employed as his nanny. The view taken by the host was that a responsible man must first check his brain at the door to employ an attractive woman in his home. The opposing view taken by his opponent in the debate was that refusal to be deliberately and often in the company of an attractive woman is an admission of an inability to control yourself. The host countered that a person on the Atkins diet doesn't go to Cold Stone Creamery. His adversary responded that if the analogy were germane (the host apparently fudges the Atkins way of life occasionally) then the host is admitting that he has a problem with fidelity. The host countered that while he has no problem being faithful, he is a man. This is approximately when I turned the radio down to background level and began to explain to my wife why I felt these two men were both completely off their rocker. The two components of the host's argument, namely, he can be faithful, but he is a man, appear to diverge completely at the outset. To say that one can be faithful, but can't, is a violation of the Rudyard Kipling doctrine, i.e., east is east and west is west and never the twain shall meet. If a man has no problem being faithful, then he has no problem being faithful, end of discussion. And the other view is completely naive, and dangerous.
Both were right. Both were wrong. The host is right because the appearance of evil is something we must avoid, and, more importantly, a married individual spending an inordinate amount of time with any member of the opposite sex, beautiful or hideous, other than their spouse, is extremely ill-advised. The reason is not complicated. "And it came about as she (Potiphar's wife) spoke to Joseph day after day, that he did not listen to her to lie beside her, or be with her. "
The host's alter ego, "Stu", is right because to assume the nature of the beast cannot be tamed and brought to bear is a dismal and depressing and disgusting view of life.
I have my doubts that "Stu" knew how right he was, or even why he was right.
It has become accepted, sometime in the last twenty to thirty years, for a responsible, faithful, loving husband and father to "look, but not touch." If the host is right, and a man is a man, infused with all the weakness and fallibility apparently inherent in the sex, then the struggle to remain faithful is completely futile, since no less than the Son of God said that to look on a woman to lust after her is to commit adultery with her.
And the unbearable sadness of all this is that when a person brings this dilemma to 99% of today's pastors, evangelists, and theologians, they are sent away with the disheartening news that they must live with the problem; a chronic illness treated with a couple of Tylenol a day to help with the symptoms.
I beg your patience as I attempt to retrace the route my thoughts took from the Glen Beck Show to the final conclusion and destination of my pondering; eternal security.
There's a side issue here to be dispatched first. There is some doubt in my mind that a man could truly be in love with his wife the way God intended a man to love his wife if he is plagued with a lustful thought life. As a married man, or a married woman, a Christian will recognize that there are other attractive people in the world, but this is as far as it goes. To entertain even for a moment flights of fancy with anyone else is, or should be, disgusting and repulsive, regardless of physical appearance or winsomeness.
One more sideline on a sideline. And I state this with permission, not inspiration. This is my personal opinion that I am quite sure I share with practically no one and I dredge up simply to wake you up. I do not feel, considering the depth and indescribable passion I have for the love of my life, that a person can be truly in love with more than one person throughout the course of their lifetime. I welcome your disagreement.
Now, on Glen Beck and the gospel of weakened salvation. The main problem Glen has if he struggles with fidelity in his thought life is carnality. And now you think you're reading an essay by J.B. Chapman or C.W. Ruth or some other late great holiness preacher. I would consider it a compliment. It is true, though. It's judgementally, unattractively, crudely true. As Snoopy would say, "How gauche." It's disconcerting to me that this truth is regarded self-righteous by most of today's leading, on-the-front-lines, in-the-trenches conservative evangelicals. They fully recognize the natural depravity of man. Great first step. But it's an incomplete composition. It's as if the Bible were written to the words, "And He gave up the ghost." and followed up immediately with the concordance, maps and the back cover.
The gift was not given so that we may accept it and put it in the closet they way we do with 75% of Christmas gifts.
Let me say I don't subscribe to the straw man fallacy that this doctrine is simply an indulgence sold for a cheap price to all who believe in it. I believe there are many people who give lip service to this belief that secretly long for an abiding Ally. At the same time, I realize these people would initially greet this imposition on their independence as an affront and resist it, as we all have, to some degree.
But the image of a sincere God-follower, one desperate to walk in the light shed by Him, being led by that light to the door between struggle and surrender, the door between war and peace, and finding no way to open it, is heartbreaking.
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