EVERYTHING IS PERMISSIBLE… but not everything is beneficial

Guardrails & Boundaries – Sermon Notes (Part 1)

My wife recently asked me to speak to our youth members about some of the subjects I’ve been contemplating on this blog. I thought I would post pieces of that sermon on the blog to add to the conversation. This is Part 1–check back later this week for more.

Julie asked me to talk about “HOW FAR IS TOO FAR” tonight.

TO START OFF, I want to talk a bit about boundaries, or guardrails as our friend Andy Stanley refers to them.

What’s a guardrail? (Ask the students.)

The definition of a Guardrail is: a system designed to keep vehicles from straying into dangerous or off-limit areas. You don’t pay much attention to them until you need them. They’re not located in the most dangerous areas. It’s the area on the other side of the guardrail that’s the actual danger. But we don’t really argue why guardrails are there, saying “I could drive there if they took out that guardrail.” The idea is that you’d do less damage if you hit a guardrail than if you went into the danger zone on the other side of the guardrail.

I want to use the idea of guardrails and apply them to our lives. As guardrails relate to life they are: A (personal) standard of behaviour that becomes a matter of conscience. I want you to create guardrails within your own life, personal standards of behaviour—I want you to set standards for yourself—where when you bump up against one of these guardrails, the warning lights should come on that should tell you, DANGER, DANGER, DANGER, you’re about to hit bad territory. It should inform or ignite your conscience. It should be something that protects you from ever reaching dangerous territory.

We need guardrails in ALL areas of our lives. But specifically, I want to talk about boundaries or guardrails in relationships, hence the suggestion of “How far is too far.” What are some guardrails or boundaries you could create in your relationships with the opposite sex?

Now there are some things that are just general knowledge. Most churches of course would promote not having sex until you’re married. Our culture might say “Don’t have sex until you’re ready!” And when I was single, I would say to that… Well I’m ready now! That’s not a guardrail! Telling you not to have sex before you’re married isn’t going to help you much, unless you create some guardrails to help preventing you from doing so before you ever reach the DANGER ZONE!

The majority of us tend to justify sin with the vagueness for which some sin is described in the Bible. Because you don’t have a passage that says, “Thou shalt not force thy tongue down thine throat of thy maiden,” we tell ourselves it’s ok. But the Bible is unspecific for a reason: This is why it is universal across centuries of time!

In the New Testament, a man named Paul wrote a letter to his protégé, named Timothy. He told Timothy this in, 1 Timothy, chapter 5, verse 1, half way through: Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.

He advises young Timothy, a man in his late teens, to respect his elders and treat younger women with “ABSOLUTE PURITY.” This applies to you women as well. This is the lifestyle God calls us to as followers of Him. Now, if you’re not a follower of Christ, then you have free reign. But if you claim to believe in Jesus Christ as your Saviour, He is calling you to a life of purity.

So let me give you some examples of guardrails in my own life. Most of you know Julie and I quite well. Most of you didn’t even know we had any interest in each other before we announced our engagement. This was done on purpose. Julie and I… don’t really “believe in” dating. We think it’s a label people put on couples who have an interest in each other, and places certain expectations on the girl and guy of what they should do and how they should act as boyfriend and girlfriend.

  • You should hold hands.
  • Lean on his shoulder. Make it obvious he’s your man.
  • Obsess over him or her by pushing your other friends away and ONLY spend time with him or her, calling him at ALL hours of the night.
  • Kiss a lot, especially in public, just to make it clear to everyone you’re dating.

And in your private time together, you hang out at each other’s homes while your parents are out of the house, for some “ALONE” time. And the list grows of what could happen there.

  • Lying on the couch together.
  • Lying on top of each other on the couch together.
  • Hands get bored and start to “explore”.
  • Lips lock.
  • The tongue usually gets involved in there somewhere.

Suddenly, you start having sex with your clothes on, until your mom comes home unexpectedly and you’re left there looking like you just wet your pants. Isn’t that how dating relationships go? (Tongue-in-cheek!)

Even if they haven’t worked out this way for you, this is what our culture tells us our relationship with our boyfriend or girlfriend should be. Just look at any TV show, movie, music video, song, whatever. They’re all telling you to do this. And many happily oblige!

Did you know that with reference to the Holy Bible, weddings are PURELY secular! There is no wedding ceremony to consummate a marriage. How is it done in the Bible? “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one.” Sex isn’t just a physical act. It’s also INCREDIBLY SPIRITUAL too! Two become one flesh! Your spirit joins together with the other! Why do you think it’s SO painful when you break up a relationship? A romantic relationship is also a spiritual one. In the Bible, you were legally married to anyone you had sex with. Therefore, according to Scripture “premarital sex” isn’t even possible. You have sex? You’re married. That’s it. She’s yours!

Check back this week for more on Guardrails and what Julie and I personally did in our relationship to keep ourselves pure!

QUESTION: What has YOUR church taught you about relationships, and relating to the opposite sex?

(Read more at everythingispermissible.wordpress.com and everythingispermissible.com)


What Men Really Need From Women :: Donald Miller [Re-Post]
May 25, 2010, 8:07 pm
Filed under: Everything is Permissible | Tags: , , , , , ,

[Continuing with Donald Miller‘s great series on relationships, here’s his third installment. Check out Part 1 and Part 2 here also.]

Today’s blog focusses on what men really need from women. I start in mid-chapter, and as such in mid thought. So for the first bit, I’m talking about the dangers of victimhood, which is true for both men and women, but then I get into some details about what men really need from women:

“…Weakness isn’t attractive in either sex. Some girls think being weak will attract a strong man, but it won’t. Being weak will attract a predator, which is why girls who show self-pity often get hurt in the end. Bad guys smell it out and take advantage of them. The girl thinks he’s strong because he’s bad, because he’s confident and mysterious, but really he’s insecure and is only using her to make himself feel like a man. It’s a cycle, though, because once a girl gets used, it gives her something to feel sorry for herself about, and she just starts all over, attracting predators.

This sounds very unfair, I know. It sounds unfair because IT IS unfair. A sad reality in our world is those who are hurting are often the same people who are taken advantage of. Our response, without question, should be to defend people who are hurting and protect them, but also to guide them into healing so they can be strong and not get taken advantage of again. If a woman gets hurt, it’s important to get counseling and help before putting herself out there. There are countless exceptions to this, but I still believe it’s true that when somebody is weak, they need to find people they can trust who can help them gain strength. Girls who grew up without fathers are often hurting and looking for strength and affirmation from men, and it’s important they get that from a community or from men who are safe.

Now I am going to say this directly and perhaps offensively, but I want to say it straight: If a girl wants a great guy, she has to stop feeling sorry for herself. She has to do something different to attract somebody different. If you are strong and choosy, if you have a vision for your life, he will sense in you somebody to partner with so the two of you can help others (or raise a family.) That’s what a good guy is looking for. I’m not saying you can’t cry on his shoulder every once in a while-guys love being strong for a woman-I’m just saying if you have the characteristics of a wounded animal, you are going to attract somebody who eats wounded animals.

The sad truth is there are millions of legitimate victims out there, but each one of us needs to access the many resources given us to gain back our strength.

It’s important to note that a strong, confident woman is what a guy needs, but it’s not always what a guy wants. Guys who are weak themselves may feel secure with a weak woman, but girls, this is not the guy for you. Strength attracts strength. Feminine strength is incredibly attractive.

Guys are also attracted to beauty. But that doesn’t mean you have to look like a supermodel. In the vision I have for my wife, she doesn’t look like a model at all. She’s going to be the mother of my children for heaven’s sake. So a girl throwing her boobs all over the place may get my attention, but she’s not getting a ring. At least not from me. Beauty is important, but it’s true there are many ways to be beautiful. I know good-looking girls get more attention, but what that girl most likely wants is to have a conversation and instead she gets guys falling all over her, so her life isn’t perfect either.

A guy who has a serious vision for his life and family is looking for a partner, an advisor, somebody who can work with him to do remarkable things. A bimbo isn’t going to help. And if he wants a bimbo, he doesn’t have a very good vision for his life anyway. Self-assurance is beautiful. A choosy girl is beautiful. A woman who does not manipulate with her appearance is beautiful. A girl who is respectful of other people is beautiful. Intelligence is beautiful. A woman who has deep faith is beautiful. God knows there are plenty of books out there for girls on how to attract guys. I’d be careful and read the ones from dignified, older authors, because there are all kinds of tricks women use to attract men that just leave them more and more lonely.

Here is the last bit of advice: We are not going to get the love we really need from each other. We are going to get it from God, in heaven. Until then, we have an awesome opportunity to practice committed love with each other. We get to be faithful to each other, we get to try to love unconditionally (at which point we will understand how amazing God is) we get to serve each other by being more attractive to our mates, we get to take care of each other, we get to bring children into the world and take care of them, we get to share our lives with a family, and we get to have a heck of a lot of fun together. And as such we get to improve our character. Those are some of the reasons we should be looking for a mate.”

What does a man need from a woman? (This is not in the book, but I wanted to summarize some more practical thoughts for this blog.)

  • A woman who believes she is beautiful and cultivates that beauty, in many ways. He’ll be drawn to that beauty and confidence. Now much of this comes from understanding how much you are loved by God and so have infinite intrinsic value. So pursuing a true answer to that question is important. The other part comes from this whole, beautiful, educational playground God gives us. He has given you ways to cultivate beauty, and He wants to go with you on that journey. Is it memorizing poetry, learning a language, playing a sport, starting your own baking class on the internet, or doing aid work somewhere in the world? Go for it and have a blast. We think  God is going to suddenly make us feel strong or beautiful or confident, but He’s not, He’s going to go with you into an awesome story where character development happens along the way. Tell God you want to live through an awesome story that brings you to an understanding about your intrinsic beauty.
  • A woman who is choosy. A woman who knows she is beautiful waits for a good match. This doesn’t mean you should play hard to get. Games are just confusing. What it means is that you should respond kindly to guys who have done the work you are worthy of partnering with.
  • A woman with a vision for her life. If she wants a family, she’s looking for good dad potential and good husband potential. If she wants to become President, she’s looking for good “first man” potential. Know what you want and look for that in a guy. And don’t lie to yourself. If you want to be a mother and have a family, don’t pretend you’re not interested in that because you are afraid a man will get scared off. Having a family is an awesome vision, and if he doesn’t want that, you aren’t compatible.
  • Show some respect. Emerson Eggerichs rightly tells us men are attracted to respect and women to love. We both want love and respect, but it’s true men strongly respond to respect. Respect makes a man feel great. Men like women who don’t constantly criticize, reminding him of his failures or what’s wrong with him (that’s true for all of us, for sure, but it drives men nuts). If you are dating somebody you don’t respect, either find something to respect about him, or leave, but don’t cut him down on the way out. And don’t cut down other men, either. Just show respect, and guys will start wondering what it is about you that is so great.

Guys feel free to chime in. What do you need in a woman?

* These are, of course, opinions, and so many people will disagree.

**Excepting political opinions, sharing opinions about what men and women should do creates the most tense of dialogues. The truth is, I don’t know you, and we’ve never met, so I promise this isn’t personal. I hope that you’ll understand this advice is intended to help girls who are being hurt by guys, and to help us all understand what it means to have and cultivate intrinsic beauty.

[This is a re-post from Don Miller’s blog. Read the original article here.]

Question: What does your ideal man look like, men?

(Read more at everythingispermissible.wordpress.com and everythingispermissible.com)

What Women Really Need From Men :: Donald Miller [Re-Post]
April 29, 2010, 6:50 pm
Filed under: Everything is Permissible | Tags: , , , , ,

[Continuing with Donald Miller‘s great series on relationships, here’s his second installment. If you missed Part 1, read it here first.]

“…I’ll talk a little about what men need in women in a minute, but first I want to talk about what girls are looking for in a guy. Every girl is different, but what I learned over a long period of time was that women are essentially attracted to confidence and mystery. I don’t mean to sound like a guy who is helping you pick up chicks. Please don’t think that. But I want to save some of you from floundering around.

Girls don’t want a weak guy. People are insecure already, so they don’t want you to be insecure, too. Intuitively, they know they have eggs inside them that, eventually, are going to become little children, and they are looking for a mate who can provide for them and their eggs. If you go begging for love, they intuit that something is wrong, something is weak, and you won’t be able to take care of their eggs. Instead, you are just acting like another egg that they are going to have to nurture. And if they do like you they have their own issues and you don’t want any part of it. You don’t need another mommy. You need a wife.

What I am not saying, though, is that you should act confident. Don’t act confident, be confident. And you can’t be confident by looking in a mirror and telling yourself you are confident. Take a break from dating for a while. Seriously, you have other work to do. Instead, take up a hobby and get good at it. Start playing the guitar or a sport. Get good at something and improve your self-esteem. Once you’ve gained confidence, you can start thinking about a woman.

And they also like mystery. But it’s not really mystery they like, it’s strength. Girls don’t want you calling them all the time. They don’t want to be your rescuer. If you call them all the time or let them know you are thinking about them all the time, you are going to turn them off. The truth is, you should already have a full life you are invested in, and you should invite them into that life. My friend John Eldredge says you should be on an adventure, and you should invite them into that adventure. A girl doesn’t really want you to stare into her eyes like a lovesick puppy (at least not for long); she wants you to put your arms around her and stare into the horizon, to the place you are going together. So before focussing on the girl, go find an adventure, a calling, something you can do and get good at, something that makes money to provide for kids. The girl will come along pretty easily after that.

Some girls don’t find these things attractive but I think most girls do.

Here’s another thing that it took me a long time to understand. And it’s going to hurt. But I have to say it. Human attraction is conditional. Now, once you get married, you are committing to love your wife or husband unconditionally. But even then, attraction remains conditional. Guys, if you get weak, your wife may stay with you, but chances are she’s not going to be very attracted to you. Understanding what it is your mate is attracted to, be it strength or beauty, and giving that to them is a way of serving them. If you refuse to take responsibility for your life and expect your mate to still be attracted to you, it’s going to be a long, hard journey. Self pity is unattractive.

* These are, of course, opinions, and so many women will disagree. But guys, I’d just try gaining some confidence and some strength either way. I think your wife will some day really appreciate it.

**Excepting political opinions, sharing opinions about what men and women should do creates the most tense of dialogues. The truth is, I don’t know you, and we’ve never met, so I promise this isn’t personal. Guys who grew up without dads sometimes look for too much security, rather than to provide. This is just a little help for them. Thanks!

Ladies! Let’s hear from you. What are you looking for in a guy? Help some fellas out!

[This is a re-post from Don Miller’s blog. Read the original article here.]

We will continue next week with Don’s third article on What men really need from women.

Question: Don suggests women are essentially attracted to confidence and mystery. Do you agree?

(Read more at everythingispermissible.wordpress.com and everythingispermissible.com)

Why You’re Attracted to the Opposite Sex :: Donald Miller [Re-Post]
April 14, 2010, 4:00 pm
Filed under: Everything is Permissible | Tags: , , , , ,

[Having recently changed jobs, I’m finding it difficult to keep up my posts. But I want to keep this project going. Last week, Donald Miller, author of Blue Like Jazz, posted some articles on his blog that contribute to our conversation, and I wanted to repost them here to keep a good thing going. Check it out and leave your comments.]

This week I’m featuring posts from my newest release, Father Fiction. These are new writings, not previously released in the books original form. The book hits stores today.

“…We also want to understand why we are attracted to the opposite sex, and there are many reasons. I want to talk about the two dominant forces that draw you to the opposite sex. The first is the desire to reproduce. This is what your body wants. The second is the desire for redemption. This is what your soul wants.wpid-418stoj14ll-_sl500_aa240_-a3069xs1gtsg.jpg

At a young age your hormones were going crazy. We think we are in love but the truth is, we are in lust. We just want to have sex. But look around, look at how many couples are unhappy. So many of them got married because they wanted sex, not because they wanted the responsibility of taking care of another person and a family.

The other force is the desire for redemption. Psychologists theorize that we are deeply attracted (what feels like romantic love) to the negative characteristics of our primary caretakers. You know that intense feeling you get when you think you can’t live without him or her? According to this theory, what you are really feeling is the desire to go back in time to when you were a baby and fix the relationship you had with your parents. Your subconscious recognizes the other person as having your parents characteristics, and takes your subconscious back to childhood. That’s why you feel like you’ve always known this person or that if you don’t have him or her, you won’t have security. Your brain assumes if you lose this person, you’ll lose the roof over your head, your daily food and love itself. That’s why you obsess about somebody you hardly know. Your subconscious brain thinks that person is your mommy or daddy. Your squirrel brain is picking up on the negative characterisitcs of your primary caretakers because those are the ones you hope to fix so that you’ll finally receive love. If your father had a bad temper, you might be attracted to a person with a bad temper. If your mother was controlling, you are going to be drawn to a mroe controlling person. And the whole time you are going to think you are madly in love, that this other person is going to complete you. The very sad news and the hard news is they won’t. The greater the passion, oftentimes, the greater the let down. This is true because the subconscious brain doesn’t get what it was hoping to get, which is a repaired relationship with mommy and daddy.

Nuts, isn’t it? Insane. But I actually think this theory bears a lot of truth.

But what do you do with this?

Well, for starters, you don’t let your squirrel brain drive all your decisions. When you fall in love, ask yourself what it is that is drawing you to this person. Is it sex? That won’t last. It won’t be long before you’re sexually attracted to somebody else, and you might end up having many partners and the lonely life of a sailor on shore leave. Is it that they are controlling or have anger issues? That won’t work either. They aren’t your mommy or daddy, and they aren’t going to make everything okay.

In fact, relationships, while rewarding, actually make life harder. They will bless your life, but they will bless your life through sacrifice. You are going to get more muscle out of it, and that’s the attidute you have to have going into it in the first place. If you go into a relationship hoping to give love, hoping to create some of the security the other person is looking for, you are better off and your relationship stands a chance. And you’ll most likely get some love in return. But it will be realistic love, not redemption. Your spouse isn’t Jesus.

So the real question to ask is, “Can I put up with this person?” That sounds awful, but it’s important. Does she like what I like, is he easy to talk to, is she a good friend? In other words, does this relationship have the stuff of terrific friendship? Of course, you have to be attracted to the person, just don’t let that attraction hijack you into making stupid decisions.

That narrows the field considerably. You might be ticked at me right now because it’s hard enough to get a date, and I’ve just taken ninety percent of the applicants out of the picture. But I promise you, people who know what they want and are choosy about their mates are infinitely more attrative to the opposite sex. Be choosy and I assure you people will be more drawn to you.

I wish somebody would have told me that when I was a kid.

Now, lets talk about what women really find attractive in men, and what men really find attractive in women…

[We’ll will continue next week with Don’s second article on What women really find attractive in men.]

Question: Have you ever been in a relationship with someone who reminded you of your father or mother?

(Read more at everythingispermissible.wordpress.com.)

When is sex before marriage permissible?

Have you ever wondered why you don’t see any church weddings in the Bible? Some things to think about:

  • The Bible word sometimes translated ‘fornication’ does not mean ‘sex before marriage.’
  • In the Bible, weddings were purely secular.
  • Under Old Testament law, casual sex was impossible. For an unmarried man to have sex with an unmarried woman was to make an even more binding commitment than normal marriage.
  • In God’s eyes, a one night stand makes two people one.
  • There is a deep spiritual significance in a virgin bride shedding blood on her wedding night.
  • Christians are free to break many Church and Western traditions. (ref.)

Jesus said in Matt 19:4-6:

“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”

Are you getting it? Having sex is not just a pleasurable physical act, like eating a Krispy Kreme donut. Rather God made it to be INCREDIBLY SPIRITUAL as well! Two become one flesh! God wasn’t just trying to be poetic and romantic so as to make future church ceremonies sound good with this scripture. Your spirit joins together with your partner’s spirit, LITERALLY!

Therefore, a romantic relationship is also a spiritual relationship.

Why do you think it’s so painful to break up with your girl/boyfriend or why divorce is so life damaging or why rape victims will never be the same again? They’ve given a part of their spirit to another! Whether by choice or not.

When is sex before marriage permissible? According to scripture sex before marriage is not even possible. The very act creates a spiritual, marital bond between the two that is stronger than any public ceremony. (We’ll try to define “sex” in future posts.)

Why then do we treat sex so wrecklessly?

Question: Why do you think relationship break-ups, broken engagements, and divorce is so painful?

(Read more at everythingispermissible.wordpress.com.)

Not Permissible: The promiscuous lifestyle

There’s a tongue-in-cheek saying one of my theology professors used to suggest to us: “Don’t have sex standing up–it may lead to dancing!” It’s a comical statement meant to shine light on a trend among many Christians: believers seem to be more accepting and forgiving of those involved in fornication (premarital sex) and adultery (extramarital sex) than of those who like to ‘shake their groove thang’ (whatever a ‘groove thang’ is).

No matter your view on the “righteousness (or lack thereof) of dancing”, Scripture is clear that any kind of sex other than with your husband/wife whom you’re married to is forbidden. There is NO place for it in the life of a follower of Christ. Just read these few examples:

Exodus 20:14–
You shall not commit adultery.

Mark 7:21, 23–
For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries… All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.

1 Corinthians 6:9-10–
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.

Hebrews 13:4–
Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.

Scripture is clear that a sexually promiscuous lifestyle is detriment to a healthy spiritual life, and goes so far as to suggest one should check their heart because they may have fallen from the family of God (or were never in it, for you Calvinists out there).

It is my hope all of this goes without saying, and you all replied with a resounding DUH! as you read this. But having a sinful nature myself, I know no one is immune, no matter what influence your parents were to you.

There is no place for sex in a dating relationship! And it is the goal of this website and discussion to determine where the “line” is that should not be crossed.

Question: How far is too far when it comes to intimate relations with your boy/girlfriend? Where’s the line?

(Read more at everythingispermissible.wordpress.com.)

Not Permissible: LGBT Lifestyle

Things that are Not Permissible… To start off, when talking about relationships between two people, we are implying a boy and a girl. That’s probably obvious to most, but let’s not assume. Perhaps an argument could be made that the same principles of dating could apply to Christians who happen to be LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered). Then of course it would be argued that calling someone both a Christian and a homosexual in the same sentence is sacriligious. But I have to say, I’ve heard it said those Christians are “so gay.” So touché!

All joking aside, scripture is clear that homosexuality is a perversion of the image God had intended for His Creation in creating man and woman, and such a lifestyle should be condemned.

The Apostle Paul writes in Romans 1:24-27,

God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen. Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

This passage stands pretty clear on its own that a relationship outside a man and woman is degrading, shameful, unnatural, indecent, and perverted. (Let’s not lose focus, however. Scripture says the same thing about promiscuity between a man and woman as well. We’re all held accountable.)

My view on the LGBT lifestyle… whether or not one is born with a certain sexual flavour is irrelevant. Scripture is clear it should be forbidden. Therefore, if someone confessed to me they had homosexual tendencies, I would condemn that (as that’s God’s place, not mine). But I would show them what the Bible teaches, encourage them to refrain from practice, and get counseling.

Tony Campolo makes a sad but true observation to the effective of, all the Christians are moving towards lives without marrige (whether common law or through divorce). Meanwhile the homosexuals are begging to be allowed to marry.

Something is very backwards here.

Question: Can a person be both gay and a Christian at the same time? What about the many United/Anglican/Episcopalian priests?

(Join the conversation at everythingispermissible.wordpress.com.)