A litmus test of Christian morality: the film North Country

north countryMy wife and I wanted to watch a light film at home this past Saturday night and then go to bed early. We made the mistake of putting in the movie North Country, which came out in 2005. It was inspired by a landmark sexual harassment case that took place in a Minnesota coal mine. As I was watching the film, I was shocked by how mercilessly the protagonist Josey Aimes was treated by her co-workers, her family, and even the other women in the mine who were victims of the same sexual harassment. I said to my wife, “This seems a little bit over the top,” and she said, “Oh no, this is what women really deal with.” As I saw Josey standing up for her dignity with the whole world against her, I thought a real test of my Christian morality would be if I had the guts to stand up for her if I were working in that mine.

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The God who wants us to stay thirsty

cupid1Eros is an exasperatingly paradoxical kind of love. It is most fulfilled by being perpetually unfulfilled. It is a thirst that wants to stay thirsty. It is also a passion that is beyond our direct rational control, which is what gives it such a dangerous power to destroy the relationships to which we have committed ourselves. At the same time, eros perfectly channeled is nothing less than worshiping God with all of our hearts. It can be directed entirely to God like King David’s eros is in Psalm 42 or it can be directed to God by way of our longing for the intimate depth of another human person who radiates the image of God. What has killed eros in our time is the commodification of sexuality. To see others as “meat” to be consumed sexually is the opposite of true eros. Hear more from my September 22nd sermon:

C.S. Lewis talks about erotic love

cs lewisThis weekend, Burke United Methodist Church will continue in our sermon series on the four types of love with a discussion of eros, romantic passion. This sermon series is based on a book called The Four Loves, by C.S. Lewis. There are certainly things to be offended by in the patriarchal ethos of an early 20th century British old man, but I do think Lewis has important things to say about eros, which I thought I would share particularly with those of you in my congregation as preparation for this weekend’s sermon. I will go through in chronological order of the passages I underlined and starred. Continue reading

“Biblical” men don’t date? (A face-palmer from the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood)

10681746-student-talking-to-female-teen-in-college-classNormally I don’t see much of a point in engaging fundamentalist Christian entities like the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood because I suspect they aren’t particularly relevant to my readership. But a recent post by JD Gunter from CBMW really struck a nerve with me because it so plainly contradicts my experience of dating as a young adult in a way that ironically encourages irresponsible, sinful behavior under the guise of taking yourself very seriously. The only thing missing from Gunter’s post describing why “Biblical” single men shouldn’t stay in un-serious dating relationships with women they aren’t planning to marry is any reference to scripture whatsoever. Continue reading

Robin Thicke, Miley Cyrus, and the death of eros

will smith and family

No, Will Smith and his family weren’t actually watching Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke grind it out during her Video Music Awards performance, but their expressions capture something priceless about what has happened to our entertainment industry. I’m not wanting to dis Miley Cyrus as a person or be a “slut-shamer” or anything like that. She is not the problem; Robin Thicke is not the problem; their choreographers are not the problem; the problem is the demonic worship system that I have often short-handed as “capitalism” (for lack of a better word), which has made eros into a consumer product that looks like a girl whose “branding” requires her public dehumanization and humiliation. [Trigger warning: some graphic written content] Continue reading

Feminism, sex, and virtue in Margaret Farley’s Just Love

I have been reading Margaret Farley’s Just Love: A Framework for Christian Ethics, the book that got the Vatican in a tizzy over renegade nuns several years ago under the grand inquisitor pope. To be fair, Just Love is more a feminist critique of Christian sexual ethics than it is a Christian sexual ethics, but the critique is apt and worth listening to. While Farley doesn’t fortify herself with Biblical chapter verse citations, her perspective makes sense to me when I consider sexuality under the lens of “I desire mercy not sacrifice.”

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Eucharist is how Jesus makes love to His church

jesus water blood
Hear me out; I’m not trying to be offensive. Several weeks ago, I listened to a podcast from Bruxy Cavey in which he said that we need to reclaim the phrase making love. We shouldn’t be offended by talking about sex; we should be offended by the desecration of sex. I preached one of the worst sermons I’ve ever preached this past Saturday because I couldn’t muster the courage to come out and say directly what I felt called to say: that Eucharist is to the church what sex is to a marriage. Living without either is about equally bearable. Continue reading