The fate of the sex worker

May 1, 2011

Enjoying going back through some old books tonight and looking at the pieces I’ve highlighted. This is from A. Herbert Gray’s Men, Women and God; A discussion of sex questions from the Christian point of view (21st edn, First published 1923).

It’s a wonderful, prophetic call to love the prostitute, and to recognise our own part in her situation. Though he writes regarding the prostitute, it equally refers to all sex workers, including porns ‘stars’

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‘It is not the prostitute who is unthinkable. She is only the tragic figure in the centre of a devil’s drama. It is society’s attitude to her that is unthinkable. By men she is used for their pleasure then despised and scorned. By women, she is held an outcast, and yet she is the main buttress of the immunity of ordinary women from danger and temptation. She is the creation of men who traffic in lust and yet is held shameless by her patrons. She is the product of the social sins for which we are all ‘responsible, and yet is considered the most sinful of us all.

‘And she exists because men say they must indulge their passions and women believe it. She is the incarnation not of her own but of society’s shame. She is the scapegoat for thousands who live on in careless comfort. Every man who touches her pushes her farther down, and our hollow pretence of social morality is built upon her quivering body.

‘Will you men who read this please think about her? Think till you are horrified, disgusted and ashamed. Think till you realise this unthinkable thing. And then remember that she exists only because of us. We as a sex have created this infamy. We as a sex still continue to condone it.

And there is only one cure for it. It is that we should stop uttering or even believing the lie that we must indulge our passions, and should act upon the truth that continence outside marriage is perfectly possible, and that we owe it to women, to ourselves, and to God to achieve it.’


What should the missionary approach be? Musings from a 1950s missionary in Korea

May 1, 2011

From Arch Campbell’s ‘The Christ of the Korean Heart’ (1957)

Much has been written and said concerning the ‘missionary message for today’. Varied opinions have been expressed as to what ‘approach’ should be made to win the non-Christian world to Christ. Some of the opinions have been offered by swivel-chair missionaries in offices in New York, or professors in American theological seminaries. Sometimes we are told that the approach must be through social uplift, sometime through agricultural improvement, sometimes by cultural exchange, sometimes by loving service. All these efforts have their values and their influences. But nearly forty years of close acquaintance with the Christians of Korea, living in their mud-walled homes, eating at their tables, often wearing their style of clothing, worshipping with them, praying with them, conducting thousands of ‘examinations’ for baptism, teaching them the Word in their own tongue and watching their faces, hearing them sing their favourite hymns, hearing them pour out their souls in their daybreak prayer meetings, have convinced me that the message that really grips the heart, that sends them to prisons, to beatings with joyfulness, to death or to witness to their fellow countrymen, to build their thatched-roofed and beer-can-roofed churches, is the message that gripped Suh, the same message that gripped the great heart of Paul. ‘He loved me, and gave Himself for me.’

Has sin been simplified?

October 15, 2010

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I’m not sure what I’ll call this blog post, but I’m sure I’ll think of something profound by the end of it. These past six months I’ve been struck by the Bible’s attitude to sin, which seems to call for us not to focus on defeating sin, but to focus on God, which will in turn, sour the seduction of sin.

Let’s see.

Galatians 5: 16-24

So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful natureif you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.

The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of GodBut the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Romans 6: 11-13

Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ JesusDo not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.

2 Timothy 2: 22

Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

Romans 12: 2 & 21

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind / Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 13: 12-14

So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature

1 Corinthians 6: 16-18

Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.” But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit.

Ephesians 5: 18

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit

And so…

And so, time after time after time, God is saying through His Word, don’t simply strive not to sin, but seek the Spirit.

Don’t settle for purity, don’t settle for anything less than the fullness of God’s goodness.

Don’t preach morality, tell them of life in the Spirit.

Don’t offer yourselves to sin, offer yourselves to God

Don’t flee only to fail again, flee to God and to His paths!

Live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature.

So what is sin?

Is it bad stuff? Wrong stuff?

Well, yes.  But are these verses saying it’s more than that?

That sin is something that is chosen over God, and not alongside him?

That sin is when we exchange the opportunity to fellowship with the Holy Spirit for what our sinful nature wants?

Have we simplified sin to breaking God’s moral code?

What about the bit about the broken relationship with him?

What about the moment where we choose to call an old girlfriend instead of going home to our wives, i.e. when we follow our old self, and do not choose to live in our new, true identity.

What is it not to sin?

By implication of these verses, we’re not simply to not sin, to merely obey God’s moral code.

We are to live in His Spirit, to walk with His Spirit and to clothes ourselves in Christ.

It’s the difference between living and being alive.





See also: Colossians 3, 1 Thessalonians 4

What does a Christian wedding look like?

October 7, 2010

This is something I’ve been trying to get my head around for over a month now.  Aside from having the ceremony in a church, a prayer and a Bible reading, what does a wedding between two people who passionately love God look like?

How does it affect the ceremony?

Should there be more praise songs?  Should there be a space for people to lay hands on the couple and pray for them? Should there be more of a focus on God?

How does it affect the reception?

Should you have one?  Is it justifiable to spend that amount of money?  Jesus enjoyed feasts and parties, but what about his teaching on humility? If you decide to be more humble in it, how do you do that in such a way that people don’t think the people paying for it are tight, or that you’re tacky? Should you care? What about cars, photographers, videographers, disco-ographers?

How does affect your wedding list?

What is the theology of wedding lists?  Is it right to have a list of presents and ask people to buy them for you?  Should you ask people to donate to charity instead?  A mixture of charity and presents?

Interestingly, most people, whether of faith or not seem to begin their wedding journey with a strong desire that their wedding be different, or better, than others they have attended. However, the set up of it all seems to be geared towards a mould, a very workable enjoyable mould, but dare you step out of that? Is it wise? Is it more hassle?

Where are the discussions going on on this?

Why I’m looking forward to sex at 70

October 4, 2010

Is this the resurrection of the blog? Perhaps.  Or maybe it’s because I can’t communicate this in 140 characters.  But some thoughts on why I’m looking forward to sex when I’m 70.

Old people having sex is gross right? Well yes. And no.  I believe that the reason we think old people having sex is disgusting is because of our media/sex/porn culture saturated minds.  So for old people to have sex on TV, in a film, is quite the turn off, because we’re WATCHING. And we’re conditioned to believe that young, beautiful people having sex is a turn on.

Because as a culture we have become consumers of sex and not embracers of it, old people, fat people, ugly (as defined by media, and therefore culture, and therefore us) people having sex is not seen as particularly exciting.  So if our wife becomes old, fat or ugly, our appreciation of her diminishes.  If her body, her breasts, begin to take shape in a way that is different to what society tells us is beautiful, then we may begin to doubt that she is beautiful.  How women are portrayed in our sex saturated culture should not determine the beauty of our wives.  Rather the beauty of our wives tells us that all other women don’t do it for us, because they are not my wife.

In a porn saturated culture, the breasts that we determine to be ‘perfect’ affect how men view other women, and how they view their girlfriend/wife.  When you remove yourself from that culture (and I am enjoying a wonderful freedom in that victory), the breasts of your wife become the best breasts in the world.  No one else’s breasts match up, because they are not your wife’s!

So when I am 70, and my wife not far off it either, her breasts will still be the most beautiful in the world to me.

Abraham and Sarah were faithful and committed to each other, and to God.  Today, a couple like that, monogamous and old would hardly be seen as sexy.  Yet, Abe at 100 and his wife aged 90, they were still at it. Her pregnancy aged 90 was a miracle, but it was because her husband was still making love to her.

Society says have sex as much as you can before you get married when it dwindles.

God says wait (and in that patient waiting grows an appreciation of his plan) and then enjoy it always.

As an engaged man, and a virgin, I increasingly see the fullness of God’s goodness in his design.  I am not being denied sex by my Father, rather he is gifting it to me in that place where it should be, and in that place where it is best enjoyed and finds most fulfillment.  Next year, God willing, I embark on a journey of half a century of sex.

Society ought not to dictate how best to embrace God’s gifts.

The First Casualty

May 11, 2009

The first casualty when war comes is truth

So said Senator Hiram W Johnson in 1918, and over 90 years later, it still rings true. 

Written under a cloud of despair, ‘The First Casualty’ (Revised Edition, 2002) by Phillip Knightley laments what he sees as a dilution of truth within spheres of war reporting.  He cites a correspondent’s patriotism, military censorship, and the inability and indolence of the press to analyse official press releases as some of the reasons for this perceived demotion of the truth.  His anger, and later dismay, that truth is indeed ‘the first casualty,’ seeps through the pages, and lead to him predicting that “governments [and] their spin doctors … will find further justification for managing the media in wartime … [and that] control of war correspondents will be even tighter.”  

Indeed, Knightley’s prediction of tightening control on war correspondents leads him to despondently associate this with the demise of the war correspondent, and the death of his hero status.

Picking up on this is a comment piece by Kevin Myers in Friday’s Belfast Telegraph entitled ‘Why the Falklands is proof that truth is the first casualty of war’.  Referring to an article in last month’s Torygraph  he picks away at the misleading language, concluding that the 22 men who supposedly “saw off Argentine invaders” and gave them their first bloody nose in fact surrendered meekly after just two hours with only one man slightly wounded.   Referring to the power of myth, Myers points out that looking back at history which is ours, we inevitably exaggerate and puff it up.  With reference to 1916, he concludes

And no memory is immune to the mighty power of myth. Australian social historians were able to chart the change in the recollections of Gallipoli veterans, as the events in the truly myth-laden film ‘Gallipoli’ became indistinguishable in the veterans’ minds from their own experiences.

The power of myth is not that it is based on actual historical events. Its power derives from the needs of the people who pass on the myth. Thus Royal Marines want to revel in a victory nearly 30 years ago, though it simply did not happen.

Equally, Irish republicans wanted their own mythic, martial giants to rival the British heroes like Wellington and Nelson, and so have conjured them out of the motley band of 1916.

We tell tales. We all do. But we should remember. They are just tales. And when we turn baseless myths into icons of national identity, we are trading in a currency that is liable to inflation; for there are always those who will exult in a more extravagant and bloodier version of the myth, usually with contemporary political consequences.

One has to look very hard under the surface if one is interested in real truth.  Be that history, religion, football, whatever.  In each of these examples, there is always a side to be took.  And when bias comes into it, truth gets distorted, it gets exaggerated or played down, depending on whether it suits us or not.

‘God isn’t really back’ according to The Times

May 7, 2009

In a response to his paper’s article on Saturday, David Aaronovitch entitles this week’s regular column, ‘Rumours of God’s return are greatly exaggerated,’ well worth a read.  Discussing the rise of Christianity in Africa in China, he attributes this to “a mark of mobility.”

Aaronovitch curbs optimistic talk of a church on the rise with a reality check

In this country, for example, the British Social Attitudes Survey showed that 74 per cent of Britons belonged to a religion and attended services in 1964, but only 31per cent did so in 2005