Living In A Gray World (book review)

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So many terms in our culture seem to be taking on new definitions. Things that used to be thought of as black-and-white issues now appear to have multiple shades of gray in between. Nowhere is this more true than in the modern expressions and definitions of sexuality. So Dr. Preston Sprinkle’s book Living In A Gray World is perfectly timed to help bring us some understanding. 

Dr. Sprinkle is a professor at a Bible college, but this book is anything but academically heavy or overly theological. It is straightforward and easy to understand for anyone from a teenager on up. But don’t mistake that assessment as also meaning that this book waters down the clear teaching in the Bible on sexuality, because Dr. Sprinkle doesn’t compromise on this at all. 

Living In A Gray World will walk you through what the Bible says about marriage and homosexuality. You will get a clearer understanding of the terms used in today’s discussions about gender and sexual orientation. But most importantly you will hear Dr. Sprinkle’s impassioned call for Christians to focus on loving people with the agape love of God. 

Although the subtitle of this book is “A Christian teen’s guide to understanding homosexuality,” I believe this book would be hugely beneficial to teens, parents, and pastors. We all have a lot to learn, and I think our conversations would be much more productive when we all come from the same understanding of both cultural terms and biblical teachings. So parents and teens alike should get this book, read it together, and then start talking. 

My Patreon supporters also have access to the quotes that I compiled from this book. 

If you would like to dig even deeper into this topic, check out my book review of Dr. Christopher Yuan’s Holy Sexuality And The Gospel. 

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Links & Quotes

I thought this was brilliant insight from the weekly Cultural Translator newsletter from Axis—

In the Q&A portion of one of his lectures, Jordan Peterson was asked about his thoughts on abortion. At one point he said, “The discussion regarding the legality of abortion is nested inside a larger discussion about the morality of abortion, and that’s nested inside a larger discussion about the proper place of sexuality in human behavior. And to me, that’s the level at which the problem needs to be addressed.” Although he doesn’t offer specific prescriptions about how to do that, it’s a helpful way to position the conversation.

In many people’s minds, sex is appropriate whenever the parties involved consent to it. In this view, sexual activity outside of marriage becomes a foregone conclusion. Abortion is then regarded as a necessary adaptation for this new undeniable sexual ethic. In that same Q&A, Peterson says, “Let’s say you are in a position where you are inclined to seek an abortion. The question is: how did you get there?” The literal answer for 99% of pregnant women is via voluntary sexual intercourse—but when our culture frames “sexual expression” as an inevitability, it can seem hard to envision other safe paths forward apart from abortion.

For some, it’s too late to think proactively. Along those lines, one of the primary pro-choice arguments has been that having children too soon will plunge parents into permanent poverty. But when the church is at its best, it has rallied together to provide for those who could not provide for themselves. Acts 2:44-45 says about the early church, “All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.” Other ancient sources record that the early church was known for saving and protecting unwanted children, who were sometimes left outside to die.

Although some may frame “celebrating the Supreme Court’s decision” and “thinking about how to be more holistically pro-life” as somehow in tension, the early church models both a care for babies and for their mothers. May God give us grace to do the same.

The 1440 Daily Digest had an interesting article for the July 4th weekend entitled “Happy Birthday, America.” 

Congratulations, America—Monday marks the 246th commemoration of the day the Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Second Continental Congress. The Congress actually voted to separate from Great Britain two days earlier, and possibly didn’t sign the document until August. Some argue the US didn’t really become a country until we began operating under the Constitution in 1789.

Still, since then, the country has grown from 13 colonies with about 2.5 million people to 50 states and 14 territories with a population of more than 330 million. The economy has swelled to roughly $24T. Advances in public health—public sanitation, the germ theory of disease, and more—have cut the child mortality rate from more than 45% to under 1%, and our citizens live 35 years longer on average.

We’ve built almost 4 million miles of paved roads and more than 5,000 public airports. More than 2.7 million miles of power lines electrify the country, with about 85% of households having access to broadband internet and 92% having at least one computer. In 1800, 95% of the population lived in rural areas, and now about 83% live in urban areas. The US has also been responsible for more than 800 human visits to space—the most of any other country with a space agency.

While there will always be challenges to face and improvements to make, we’ve come a long way since the beginning. So grab a hot dog and your drink of choice—here’s to the next 246 years.

“The measure of a country’s greatness is its ability to retain compassion in times of crisis.” —Thurgood Marshall

This is a good way of looking at the blessings we have in America: 24 charts that show we’re (mostly) living better than our parents

“Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” —Harriet Beecher Stowe

“I have reason to praise Him for my trials, for, most probably, I should have been ruined without them.” —John Newton

Book Reviews From 2021

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on AppleSpotify, or Audible.

I love reading, and I love sharing my love of good books with others! Here is a list of the books I read and reviewed in 2021. Click on a title to be taken to that review.

24

AC/DC

Churchill’s Ministry Of Ungentlemanly Warfare

Faithlife Illustrated Study Bible

George Whitefield

Hal Moore On Leadership

His Last Bow

Holy Sexuality And The Gospel

How Christianity Changed The World

How I Got This Way

How To Bring Men To Christ

Jesus On Trial

John Adams

Miracles Out Of Somewhere

My Lucky Life

Out Of The Silent Planet

Perelandra

Pilgrim’s Progress

Prayer

Prophet With A Pen

QB

Reading The Bible With The Founding Fathers

Secrets Of Dynamic Communication

Seeing Beauty And Saying Beautifully

Shepherd Leadership

Star Struck

Talking To GOATs

That Hideous Strength

The Art Of Writing And The Gift Of Writers

The Hidden Smile Of God

The Hiding Place

Thompson Chain-Reference Bible

To The Work!

Voice Of A Prophet

Washington’s Immortals

Word-For-Word Bible Comic: Jonah

Here are my book reviews for 2011.

Here are my book reviews for 2012.

Here are my book reviews for 2013.

Here are my book reviews for 2014.

Here are my book reviews for 2015.

Here are my book reviews for 2016.

Here are my book reviews for 2017.

Here are my book reviews for 2018.

       Here are my book reviews for 2019.

Here are my book reviews for 2020.

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Holy Sexuality And The Gospel (book review)

Listen to the podcast of this post by clicking on the player below, and you can also subscribe on Apple or Spotify.

I’m not sure there could be a more timely book for our current generation than Christopher Yuan’s Holy Sexuality and The Gospel. 

My wife was reading Dr. Yuan’s memoir, which he co-wrote with his mother, called Out Of A Far Country, and she continually raved to me about the powerful message in their story. As I began to look at that book, I saw his more recent release—Holy Sexuality—and immediately got pulled into its timely message. 

It appears dialogues about sexuality, sexual orientation, and what God condones or condemns regarding sex are taking place everywhere. Dr. Yuan clearly addresses these issues by taking us back to the foundational truths of the Scripture. 

Dr. Yuan’s clear message is not about heterosexuality or homosexuality, but about holy sexuality. That is, what does God say about sexuality, and how does this tie in to the Gospel of Jesus Christ? This book is unabashedly Bible-centric, but it’s presented in concepts and language that everyone can grasp. 

In my opinion, this book is a must-read for pastors, youth pastors, and parents who engage the younger generations in conversations about sexuality. Pop culture has a message they are promoting in every movie, TV show, and music album, so thoughtful, loving Christians need to be armed with the truth from God’s Word on how to get to the root of both the cultural message and the biblical message. Dr. Yuan will help you be more attuned to the message in our current culture, as well as how to have loving and meaningful conversations about what is a very sensitive subject for many people. 

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5 Quotes On Love, Sex & Marriage From “The Beauty Of Intolerance”

Beauty Of IntoleranceIn any modern-day discussion on the topic of “tolerance” the conversation is sure to come around to sexual dos and don’ts. Josh McDowell and Sean McDowell speak to this subject so well in their book The Beauty Of Intolerance.

“The reason we think there are such concepts as ‘fair’ and ‘unfair’ is because our Maker is a just God and we have been made in His image (Genesis 1:27). The reason love is a virtue and hatred a vice is because the God of relationships who formed us is a God of love. The reason honesty is right and deceit is wrong is because God is true. The reason fidelity in marriage is honorable and infidelity is not is because God is faithful. The reason chastity is moral and promiscuity is immoral is because God is pure. … All truth claims cannot be equal because Jesus didn’t claim to be ‘a’ truth—one among viable others. His claim was exclusive.”

“True love commits wholeheartedly. … When two lovers marry, they are making a public vow committing to provide for and protect each other through thick or thin. That kind of committed love compels a couple to wait to engage in sex until after marriage—which is the context in which love makes it right.”

“Purity is God’s boundary that provides for a maximum sex life and protects us from the negative consequences of sexual immorality.”

“What your children hear about the ‘gay versus Christian’ morality debate is often centered on how Christians allegedly discriminate against same-sex marriages and wrongfully label the gay community as sinful. We need to help them refocus the argument. It needs to shift away from who is accusing whom of judging or whether it’s right to legislate morality. We must focus our young peoples’ discussion on who has the right to define morality in the first place. … Be a student of God’s Word. Know why you believe sexual immorality is wrong—know the positive provision and protection that comes by following God’s instructions on morality. And then seek to speak the truth in love. Capture God’s heart, knowing that He wants only what is best for us. Share how your own obedience to God’s Word has brought you protection and provision.”

First, marriage is two human beings becoming one in every way possible. . . In marriage, two become one, united in mind and body and purpose. 

“Second, marriage is oriented toward procreation. The act of two becoming one flesh makes God’s intent, that humans should ‘fill’ and ‘form’ His world, possible. … Scripture sees marriage as being closely tied to procreation. . . . 

“Third, marriage comes with an expectation of permanence. The Genesis account implies marriage is a permanent relationship, [but] Jesus’ words are explicit: ‘What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate’ (Matthew 19:6). . . . 

“Therefore we shouldn’t think of marriage as a political institution that belongs to the state. It is a pre-political institution. The state doesn’t create marriage; it can only recognize it. The state, despite all its efforts, will never be able to redefine marriage. Marriage will always be what marriage was created to be, no matter what activist judges, runaway legislatures or majority of voters decide.” —John Stonestreet & Sean McDowell 

If you haven’t read my review of The Beauty Of Intolerance, you can read it here. I have also shared some other quotes from this book here and here.

God’s Design For Sex

gods-design-for-sexI recently completed a reading plan on YouVersion called God’s Design For Sex. This plan was put together by the staff at Focus On The Family, and was an excellent study! Here are six quotes that caught my attention.

“Pornography represents a departure from God’s design for sex in that it depersonalizes real people, strips them of their dignity, and turns them into sexual objects.”

“Sexual immorality inhibits us from focusing on our truest Lover, the Lord. … Chastity, then, is first and foremost a spiritual discipline. Like prayer, fasting, study, silence, charity, and giving, it’s something God asks us to practice, not because it will get us into heaven, but because it will help transform us into new creatures.This kind of purity is not the mere absence of illicit sex, but an active conforming of one’s body, soul, and mind to the image of Christ.”

“As theologian George Weigel explains, when we view God’s directives for our sexuality in this way, ‘the first moral question shifts from ‘What am I forbidden to do?’ to ‘How do I live a life of sexual love that conforms to my dignity as a human person?’ Sex, then, rightly understood and practiced, is in a very real sense fundamental to mankind’s function, purpose, and destiny within the miracle of God’s creation.” 

“Most critics and skeptics of Christian chastity argue that the Bible has ‘nothing to say’ about pre-marital sex. The problem, they say, is nothing negative is ever mentioned ‘condemning’ the practice or suggesting a ‘thou shalt not.’ But the Bible expresses its perspective on this matter primarily in positive terms.”

“It’s vital to add that God wants us to reserve sex for marriage not because it’s ‘bad’ or ‘dirty,’ but precisely because it’s such a unique, exclusive, and wonderful thing. Sex is a holy mystery. It’s a powerful bonding agent that shapes and affects the relationship between a man and a woman as nothing else can. To take sex outside of marriage is like taking the wine consecrated for Holy Communion and using it for a drinking party at a frat house. This is why the writers of Scripture so often compare idolatry to the sin of fornication or adultery.”

“All the best research indicates that the most sexually satisfied people in modern society are not the adventurous swingers, but rather faithful, monogamous married couples.”

6 Quotes About Understanding Sexual Sin

Focus On The FamilyEarlier this week I shared some quotes from a Focus On The Family (FOTF) reading plan I completed on YouVersion regarding the problems with pornography. Here are some additional quotes from a related FOTF reading plan called Understanding Sexual Sin.

“Sexual sin distorts the image of the Trinity mirrored in our marital relationships.”

“If our sex lives are meant to function as reflections of the image of God, it stands to reason that they should be shaped by the qualities of the Trinity. Three primary principles apply here.

1) We may never use another person as an object, sexual or otherwise. The members of the Trinity never relate to each other as objects or things to be used. Instead, they relate to one another in love, each seeking to serve and enhance the goodness and glory of the others.

2) We must keep sexual relations within the bounds of a loving and committed marriage. … This sexual embrace within the bond of marriage mirrors the nature of the relationship between the members of the Trinity as nothing else in creation can. Ideally, the marital bond is designed to be loving, permanent, exclusive, and self-giving.

3) We must respect and honor the God-designed differences between male and female. Male and female are not simply cultural constructs. They are God-created characteristics of humanity. Together, they personify the Trinitarian nature of God in a fundamental way…. The differences between male and female provide the fullest picture of the image of God in creation.”

“Biblically speaking, sexual immorality (Greek porneia) is any sexual activity that takes place outside of marriage. This includes adultery, premarital sex, and extramarital sex. Scripture teaches that both are off-limits for Christians (see 1 Corinthians 6:9; Acts 15:29; Hebrews 13:4).”

“It’s a mistake to confuse normal sexual attraction with lust. Sexual attraction is natural. … True lust involves a choice and an act of the will. To a certain extent it’s a conscious decision to pursue the desirable object instead of simply allowing it to pass by. It’s a willingness to give in to the natural impulse.”

“Pornography represents a departure from God’s design for sex in that it depersonalizes real people, strips them of their dignity, and turns them into sexual objects.”

“It is never wise to give more weight to feelings than to rational conclusions and clear biblical teachings. Feelings don’t make you who you are. Beliefs, values, and conscious commitments do.”

5 Quotes To Protect Your Marriage From Pornography

Focus On The FamilyI recently finished reading a Focus On The Family reading plan on YouVersion called Infidelity: Protecting Your Marriage From Pornography. This is one part of a multi-part reading plan on healthy sexuality. I encourage you to check out all of these plans.

Here are some of the quotes I appreciated from this reading plan.

“Porn is powerful primarily because it offers a counterfeit form of intimacy and attachment—a replacement for the one-flesh bond between man and woman that God designed to function as the glue that holds the marriage relationship together (Genesis 2:24).”

“Mental health professionals report that the road to recovery is likely to be much longer and far more complicated for an individual engaged in an ongoing interpersonal cyber-affair than it is for a porn addict. That’s because ‘relationship’ at any level implies a degree of emotional entanglement. When the heart gets drawn into that web, the potential for pathology is inevitably raised.”

“Many porn addicts are sexually anorexic when it comes to normal marital relations. That’s because, through habit and practice, their sexual impulses have been alienated from their natural context—i.e., a healthy, committed personal relationship—and re-oriented around impersonal objects or illicit lusts or fetishes.”

“[Pornography] addiction is based on neurochemical changes that occur in the brain as a result of prolonged exposure to stimulating sexual imagery. Because of its neuro-chemical basis, it’s tenacious, progressive and destructive in nature.”

“Don’t assume that normal marital sexual relations will take the place of porn in [an addict’s] life. No living, breathing, thinking woman can possibly fill that role without doing untold damage to herself as a person. That’s because pornography addiction, in the final analysis, is not about sex. It’s a symptom of an intimacy disorder—a comprehensive psychological illness that compels an individual to avoid deep, meaningful interaction with another flesh-and-blood human being and to replace it with impersonal sensual imagery. Unless this disorder is addressed and rectified, your relationship cannot move forward on a healthy footing. Marriage will not fix the problem. It will only complicate matters and increase your pain.”

For more help, visit pureintimacy.org or Focus on the Family’s Help Center.You can also call the ministry’s Counseling Department for a free consultation at 855-771-HELP (4357).

10 Quotes From C.S. Lewis

C.S. Lewis(When is it ever not a good day to share C.S. Lewis quotes?!)

“There is either a warning or an encouragement here for every one of us. If you are a nice person—if virtue comes easily to you—beware! Much is expected from those to whom much is given. If you mistake for your own merits what are really God’s gifts to you through nature, and if you are contented with simply being nice, you are still a rebel: and all those gifts will only make your fall more terrible, your corruption more complicated, your bad example more disastrous. The devil was an archangel once; his natural gifts were as far above yours as yours are above those of a chimpanzee.” —C.S. Lewis 

“The monstrosity of sexual intercourse outside marriage is that those who indulge in it are trying to isolate one kind of union (the sexual) from all the other kinds of union which were intended to go along with it and make up the total union. …You must not isolate that pleasure and try to get it by itself, any more than you ought to try to get the pleasures of taste without swallowing and digesting, by chewing things and spitting them out again.” —C.S. Lewis

“On the contrary, those who are seriously attempting chastity are more conscious, and soon know a great deal more about their own sexuality than anyone else. They come to know their desires as Wellington knew Napoleon, or as Sherlock Holmes knew Moriarty; as a rat-catcher knows rats or a plumber knows about leaky pipes. Virtue—even attempted virtue—brings light; indulgence brings fog.” —C.S. Lewis

“For there are two things inside me, competing with the human self which I must try to become. They are the Animal self, and the Diabolical self. The Diabolical self is the worse of the two. That is why a cold, self-righteous prig who goes regularly to church may be far nearer to hell than a prostitute. But, of  course, it is better to be neither.” —C.S. Lewis

 “A great deal of our anxiety to make excuses comes from not really believing in it, from thinking that God will not take us to Himself again unless he is satisfied that some sort of case can be made out in our favor. But that would not be forgiveness at all. Real forgiveness means looking steadily at the sin, the sin that is left over without any excuse, after all allowances have been made, and seeing it in all its horror, dirt, meanness, and malice, and nevertheless being wholly reconciled to the man who has done it. That, and only that, is forgiveness, and that we can always have from God if we ask for it.” —C.S. Lewis 

“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” —C.S. Lewis

“The human lives in time but our enemy destines them to eternity. He therefore, I believe, wants them to attend chiefly to two things, to eternity itself, and to that point of time which they call the Present. For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity. Of the present moment, and of it only, humans have an experience analogous to the experience which our Enemy has of reality as a whole; in it alone freedom and actuality are offered them. He would therefore have them continually concerned either with eternity (which means being concerned with Him) or with the Present—either meditating on their eternal union with, or separation from, Himself, or else obeying the present voice of conscience, bearing the present cross, receiving the present grace, giving thanks for the present pleasure.” —C.S. Lewis

“War creates no absolutely new situation; it simply aggravates the permanent human situation so that we can no longer ignore it.” —C.S. Lewis

“The rescue of drowning men is, then, a duty worth dying for, but not worth living for.” —C.S. Lewis

“Christianity does not simply replace our natural life and substitute a new one; it is rather a new organization which exploits, to its own supernatural ends, these natural materials.” —C.S. Lewis

15 More Tweetable Billy Graham Quotes

BillyGrahamI recently shared 15 quotes from The Quotable Billy Graham that fit nicely into Twitter. I saw lots of those quotes appearing in other places, so here are 15 more tweetable quotes from Dr. Graham…

“Without God, the best man in the world is capable of the most terrifying crimes.”

“We have become so accustomed to immorality that it no longer seems to us to be immoral.”

“One of the best ways to get a boy to say ‘I do’ at the marriage altar is for the girl to say ‘No’ before marriage.”

“One of the worst sins we can commit is that of ingratitude.”

“I beg you not to squander life. I beseech you to take the long view. Do not live for the world only.”

“All mankind is searching for ideal conditions in a world that is anything but ideal.”

“A religion which is full of pretense is nothing but religious addiction.”

“Crisis times are the times when Christ should be proclaimed.”

Only if Christ is a partner in the home and in the hearts of the two people will romance continue.”

“Self-respect is a wonderful thing so long as it is not produced by self-deception.”

“It has always been the mark of decaying civilizations to become obsessed with sex.”

“The three chief consequences of sin are: estrangement from God; bondage to self; disharmony with others.”

“The verb of the world is ‘get.’ The verb of the Christian is ‘give.’” 

“Any philosophy which deals only with the here and now is not adequate for man.”

“Everyone meets temptations, but some folks entertain them.”

You can read my review of this book here. And check out some longer quotes from Billy Graham here and here.

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