Was the NFL the Gateway Drug for Playboy?

I wonder when neurological scientists will study the effects on the brain of watching football on the Lord’s Day. Until then, these conclusions look shaky (even a tad reductionist along materialist lines — but, hey, it’s our reductionism):

We now see the effects of having it “all out there now.” We can see how the constant exposure to pornography is not just eating away at our souls but is quite literally highjacking our brains.

In 2011, Struthers wrote an article for Christian Research Journal that explains the effects of porn on the male brain.

“Because the human brain is the biological anchor of our psychological experience, it is helpful to understand how it operates,” he wrote. “Knowing how it is wired together and where it is sensitive can help us understand why pornography affects people the way it does.”

Here’s a simplified explanation: Sexually explicit material triggers mirror neurons in the brain. These neurons, which are involved with the process for how to mimic a behavior, contain a motor system that correlates to the planning out of a behavior. In the case of pornography, this mirror neuron system triggers the arousal, which leads to sexual tension and a need for an outlet.

“The unfortunate reality is that when he acts out (often by masturbating), this leads to hormonal and neurological consequences, which are designed to bind him to the object he is focusing on,” Struthers wrote. “In God’s plan, this would be his wife, but for many men it is an image on a screen. Pornography thus enslaves the viewer to an image, hijacking the biological response intended to bond a man to his wife and therefore inevitably loosening that bond.” (For more on this see “9 Things You Should Know About Pornography and the Brain.”)

Imagine if neurological scientists tried to measure lust in the heart. And what about those long lasting effects of images of football players kneeling during the National Anthem on a Christian’s loyalty to the God-ordained powers?

The full story has yet to be told.

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Seven Good Reasons to Stop Breaking the Sabbath Right Now

(Inspired by Tim Challies)

1. THE COST TO YOUR SOUL
If you are consumed with secular activities and unwilling to devote merely one day a week to God, you have every reason to be concerned with the state of your soul. God promises that if he has saved us we will gain new passions and new affections. We will have not only the ability but also the desire to replace sin with holiness, to replace worldliness with sanctity.

2. THE COST TO YOUR NEIGHBOR
Even those who know next-to-nothing about the Christian faith know this: Christians are commanded to “love God with all their heart, soul, strength, and mind.” Just like Jesus, Christians are to serve their heavenly father. Of all people, Christians should know that violating the Lord’s Day exacts a high cost — the cost to their bodies, to their souls, to their mental well-being, to their dignity, to their future. A vast amount of the worldly activities you enjoy on Sunday is done by people against their wills.

3. THE COST TO YOUR CHURCH
At a time when the Christian church is crying out for more and better leaders, an entire generation of young men and women are infantilizing themselves by not setting the Lord’s Day apart. They constantly choose secular activities over God and their spiritual growth is stunted. For the sake of your church, stop breaking the Sabbath.

4. THE COST TO YOUR FAMILY
There is scarcely a pastor ministering today who has not seen a family crumble and fall under the weight of treating Sunday like Saturday. Men are tearing apart their families for the sake of fun; women are shunning God’s word to create family moments. Children are being exposed to worldliness through the trails their parents leave behind. Fathers are inviting Satan into the home by their commitment to what God forbids and what Satan loves. For the sake of your family, stop breaking the fourth commandment.

5. THE COST TO YOUR MISSION
The Lord’s commission is an urgent commission because it is a matter of eternal life and death. Time is short and hell is forever, which makes the Christian’s business an urgent business. And yet so many Christians are distracted by something as trivial as the NFL or a trip to the beach. Their attention is arrested, their energy depleted, their usefulness undermined. Don Whitney says it well: “If there are any regrets in Heaven, they will only be that we did not use our earthly time more for the glory of God and for growth in His grace. If this is so, this may be Heaven’s only similarity with hell, which will be filled with agonizing laments over time so foolishly squandered.” For the sake of your mission, keep the Lord’s Day holy.

6. THE COST TO YOUR WITNESS
Christians are called to be different, to stand out from the rest of the world by their desires and by their behavior. Christians are to put sin to death and to display the power of God in removing and destroying all competitors. And yet so many Christians have had their witness shattered when the sordid truth comes out and when others learn that they profess faith in Christ on the one hand, and are worldly minded on the day devoted to the Lord. Parents undermine the gospel they have been telling their children, pastors undermine the gospel they have been preaching to their congregations. For the sake of your witness, stop breaking the Sabbath.

7. THE COST TO YOUR SAVIOR
By making light of the Lord’s Day you are making light of the death of Jesus Christ. If you are a Christian, you acknowledge in your profession of faith that the cost of forgiveness was nothing less than the death of God’s beloved Son. Jesus suffered and died for your sin. How can you, as a Christian, then toy with your sin and take it lightly? How can you cling to it? As Spurgeon says with his customary eloquence, “Sin has been pardoned at such a price that we cannot henceforth trifle with it.” For God’s sake, keep the Lord’s Day holy.

Of course, the New Calvinist, Challies, did not write about the Lord’s Day. His subject was pornography, which is a sin that has enormous implications for our society. But are violations of the seventh commandment necessarily more heinous than those of the fourth commandment? The history of Israel (think David and Bethsheba) suggests otherwise. In which case, the New Calvinists may exhibit a moralism (or understanding of sanctification) that is remarkably ignorant of the markers of Reformed Protestant piety.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that Challies has no point about pornography. But I do wonder if porn would be less prevalent in Christian circles if the Lord’s Day received more attention. As I understand the broken windows policies that turned New York City around, if you police the small stuff like trash, graffiti, and broken windows, people notice that little things matter and so big crimes like murder and theft go down. If the church had more of a corporate sense of holiness by keeping the Lord’s Day holy, attending two services, removing American flags from the church, singing more Psalms, avoiding business activities, enjoying a day of rest in simple ways, maybe other incidents of violating God’s law would decrease. That analogy, of course, breaks down if the fourth commandment is more basic to Christian devotion than the seventh commandment. But no one said sanctification would be easy.

Some of This and More of That

Rabbi Bret explains why short of theonomy, even transformationalists like the Baylys are guilty of two-kingdom thinking:

. . . the Bayly’s are victims of compartmentalized thinking. They seem to think that one can have a Constitutional objection or financial objection that isn’t at the same time a theological connection. Would someone mind introducing me to an objection, that at its root, isn’t theological?

Let’s take the Constitutional objection. The Baylys admit that they may have a Constitutional objection that is somehow cordoned off from a theological objection. Now, presuming that the Baylys are here suggesting that they object to paying social security tax because they believe that the Constitution doesn’t make provision for it how is that not at the same time a theological objection? Theologically we are to give taxes to whom taxes are due (Romans 13:7) but if the King is asking for taxes that is not his due (i.e. – social security tax) given the law of the land as expressed in the Constitution then suddenly I immediately also have a theological reason to not pay social security taxation. My Constitutional reason not to pay the social security tax flows out of my theological reason not to pay the social security tax. When Government demands taxes (governments never “ask” for taxes) that are not its due then the Government is engaged in theft, which is a violation of the 8th commandment. What began as a Constitutional issue, when traced back to its origin, has found its theological source.

Apparently evangelical arguments against porn are now retreading arguments against alcohol – both alter brain cells. I wonder if there is a cure for testosterone. I know of one – aging.

John Fea thinks the Holy Ghost Hokey Pokey is a reason for breaking with evangelicalism. I can think of other reasons but many thanks for additional ammunition.

This review of David VanDrunen’s new book on bio-ethics may be instructive for those who think that two-kingdom theology and natural law are just so much pie-in-the-sky rationalizations of the status quo. Rated BBW (for Baylys Be Warned, with love, of course). Bill Edgar, the reviewer, writes:

In the opening chapter VanDrunen compares several possible Christian attitudes toward participation in public healthcare. He concludes that, although the world’s agendas are often different, even at loggerheads with the biblical approach, Christians need to be active in healthcare, if only because we are called to defend God’s justice in a hostile environment. More positively, as VanDrunen articulately demonstrates, cultural activities are still enjoined, alongside the duty to proclaim the gospel.

And for those old enough to remember “2001: A Space Odyssey,” this graphic on the creation of the Space Station may bring back bad memories, not to mention Chicken Little-like fears about what happens when this mass of gadgets falls out of its orbit.