Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Open Mic: Sex, Lies & Videotape

It's time to start answering some of these questions (you can see all of them at the comments on the original post) here online...

Will there be sex in the end times? This question is actually the punchline to a joke/story told by John Ortberg, pastor of Menlo Park Presbyterian Church (in the Bay area), who once suggested playfully to his wife (who ran the GenX-targeted service at their previous church) that there are three topics that can always keep the attention of college-age students:
  • sex
  • the end times
  • will there be sex in the end times?

Oddly enough, this punchline can be nicely broken into two questions:

  1. What will the end times be like?
  2. Regardless of when it occurs (in the midst of Armageddon or not), how should I conduct myself sexually?

Honestly, I'm not sure I have a good answer to the first question. The passages that deal with what I've been blithely referring to as "the end times" are written in apocalyptic language - meaning the authors used gobs of symbolism to communicate their message of impending judgement & redemption. Which means that it's difficult for us to piece together a detailed "battle plan" - in fact, it's rather like reading a Faulkner novel... you know the words mean something but you have a devil of time making sense out of them.

A lot of you have been exposed to the Left Behind series of books by Tim LaHaye & Jerry Jenkins... it's important to note here that their view of the end times (called "pretribulation premillenial dispensationalism" in heavy duty theological terms) is not the only way that evangelical Christians interpet those particular passages. (There's a particularly compelling book by Hank Hanegraaff called The Apocalypse Code that argues for a much different way of looking at all of this.)

With all that said, I can sum up the "feel" of the Biblical texts with the cliche, "It's gonna get worse before it gets better." This, taking a look at the world around us, should surprise no one. The other thing that comes through loud & clear is what one of my professors in seminary called "panmillenialism" - "it's all going to pan out in the end."

Then I saw a new sky (heaven) and a new earth, for the former sky and the former earth had passed away (vanished), and there no longer existed any sea. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, all arrayed like a bride beautified and adorned for her husband; Then I heard a mighty voice from the throne and I perceived its distinct words, saying, See! The abode of God is with men, and He will live (encamp, tent) among them; and they shall be His people, and God shall personally be with them and be their God. God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and death shall be no more, neither shall there be anguish (sorrow and mourning) nor grief nor pain any more, for the old conditions and the former order of things have passed away. (Revelation 21:1-4 AMP)

I've written a good bit about question #2 over the life of this blog - you can check out the following articles if you're interested:

Under what conditions can a believer not tell the truth... or if ever?

Do not tell lies about others. (Exodus 20:16 CEV)

You know, I'm not sure I can get much more clear cut than that... but in case I haven't, let's try another argument on for size:

Followers of Christ want to be like Jesus, right?!

Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:1 NIV)

So, if they want to be like Jesus, let's look at what Jesus/God is like:

This truth gives them confidence that they have eternal life, which God - who does not lie -promised them before the world began. (Titus 1:2 NLT)

God cannot tell lies! And so his promises and vows are two things that can never be changed. We have run to God for safety. Now his promises should greatly encourage us to take hold of the hope that is right in front of us. (Hebrews 6:18 CEV)

And that takes cares of the basics.

But, you say, what about Rahab? What about the Hebrew midwives? What about people in Europe hiding Jews from the Nazis?

I stumbled upon an excellent series of blog posts from Skinniyah on his What's The Skinny? blog entitled Lying & The Bible... he does a bang-up job in part 2 of answering the questions about Rabab & the Hebrew midwives.

As for Nazis... well, let me put it this way. For most of us, the whole issue of "should I lie?" is not wrapped up in saving people's lives from a facist regime. I've come to believe that a lot of the "intellectual discussion" on this topic is pretty much a smokescreen to cover our collective butts.

Name five great flicks I might have missed in the last few years.

OK, this isn't really a question I got - I made it up so I could use the title "sex, lies & videotape." So sue me.

  • Holes (It's a Disney film about teenagers that really resonated with me... wowsa. I probably ought to read the Newberry Award-winning book it was based on.)
  • Jump Tomorrow (An indie/Sundance-y romance without a cynical bone in it's body... I defy you to not fall in love with the characters.)
  • In Good Company (Not a slapstick comedy but an exploration of it means to be a man... Dennis Quaid & Topher Grace both create characters I want to know in real life.)
  • Stranger Than Fiction (This is not really for fans of Will Ferrell, as he does very little SNL-ish kind of stuff... instead, he is the key figure in a witty & wise film about life & meaning. It's also slower than you'd originally guess, but it's worth the wait.)
  • Zathura (It looked like it was going to be a rip-off of Jumangi... and instead, it was a film with great storytelling, less running from CGI effects, and some thoughtful moments about the consequences of our actions. The success of this film makes me very happy Jon Favreau is directing the upcoming Iron Man movie.)


Anonymous said...

Is premillenial dispensationalism really as popular in the US as it seems to be from the outside looking in?

In Australia, for example, premillenial dispensationalism is generally shunned in evangelical circles (although the charismatics tend to get behind it). Amillenialism is certainly the most common teaching in Sydney Anglicans (the most evangelical branch of the Anglicans in Australia).

Mark (aka pastor guy) said...

Well, yes. And it's not just the Left Behind series - that particular thread of eschatology has been a pretty serious part of life in the evangelical circles I grew up in.

Amillenialism is not very common, but I think it is on the rise. (There are other folks who read this blog that are probably more qualified to comment on this.)

I think there is a way to approach a premillenial view that doesn't fall into the ditch of dispensationalism...

ladypuppy said...

I love the first four movies you listed (and I think you're the only other person I've ever met who's seen and liked Jump Tomorrow!) so much that I'm putting Zathura in my netflix queue right now! Thanks!

Mark (aka pastor guy) said...

Thanks, Erin... I think you'll enjoy Zathura.

And re: Jump Tomorrow... I'm not sure WHAT crack the movie fell through, but it was/is an absolute delight.