Tuesday, January 15, 2013


In my devotional time a few weeks ago, I felt the urge to put some thoughts into a short rhyme:

"Adore the Designer of all things real.
Enjoy these beauties, but hurry along. . . .
Resist temptations to linger or kneel.
Our journey is brief; let's finish the Song

Feeling the body’s approaching need for retirement stimulates thoughts about mortality. Health issues and aging both tend to fix our gaze on the sand that keeps trickling through the hourglass of life. To contemplate departing from this world isn’t necessarily unhealthy. Ancient Christian monks made it a spiritual discipline to meditate on the day of their death, to help them focus on living each day well. Our concern should not be about how much sand is left to fall, but on the way we live while it’s falling.

Saying this reminds me of writing similar thoughts some years ago in a short essay called “It’s a Short Trip.” Although what I shared then is related, my little poem points toward another facet of concern: the finish.

I love the Lord, and I love the beauties of His creation.  As long as that former love includes loving my neighbor, it is entirely safe. But that latter love of the beauty God has created can be distractive.

I’ve spent hours collecting photo references off the Internet for art compositions that I want to paint someday. Some of that time could have been better invested in painting a few of them. It would have produced more tangible forms of appreciation to our Creator than my own personal delight in collecting them. If painting is part of the “song” God is calling me to sing, then lingering long among creation’s attractions is procrastination.

No one knows what tomorrow may bring. The good that we wish to do, whether by creating things to share with others or by showing love in word and deed, must be performed while we have the opportunity and the strength. Procrastination not only affects our own happiness. Others wait for our kind communications or helpful actions. If the Lord is prompting us to be a blessing to those around us, let’s not put it off till an unknown tomorrow. Today, let’s send that gift, write that email, give that phone call, make that visit. As the cartoon above says, "Do it now!"

Thursday, January 10, 2013


Prudery portrays nudity as a stimulus for sexual lust. That’s exactly how pornography sees it. This pair—born from the same sex-obsessed conception of our fleshly embodiment—are twins. Both obscure a holy vision of the physical human form with “vain imaginations.” As two sides of the same coin, together they buy an ungodly distortion of our “fearfully and wonderfully made” anatomy.

Prudery hides the body, calling God’s “temple” a lustful indecency. Profiting from that definition, pornography flaunts the Creator’s handiwork to stimulate the lust prudery predicts. Both ways of treating the body are unnatural, unrealistic and abusive. Purported to be opposites, they are conceptually identical. Both of them dishonor God by turning the incarnation of His image into a lustful temptation.

Christians have notoriously maintained the worst of these two viewpoints, which I stigmatize as porno-prudery, because it lays the essential groundwork for our “pornified” culture. Whenever a wholesome, godly view of the naked body is rejected and a shameful, obscene view embraced, the zeal of prudery inevitably plunges society into the hellish depravity of pornography.

Why do modern mission agencies train interns not to mix Western dress with their Gospel to naked people groups? History’s painful lesson is that such “modesty” devastated undressed cultures with the same lascivious chaos raging in the dressed-up West. Why no official apology for this infamous error committed by Victorian predecessors? Is it because the same erroneous attitude of body shame still survives and thrives in their supporting churches?

Sadly, its allegiance to porno-prudery condemns the modern church to struggle with porn addiction to the same degree as the surrounding culture. Its legalistic methods to curb this epidemic fail miserably, because none of them address the real problem: a pornographic view of the body. As long as Christians treat the sight of certain body parts as the source of lust, they miss the real target. The human heart is where Jesus focuses His attention and healing power. When His followers seek help against porn addiction by applying external measures derived from a porno-prudish view of the body, it’s like using gasoline to put out a fire.

The way to combat the dehumanizing porn problem is to eliminate its symbiotic twin. Without porno-prudery, the power and momentum of porn is lost. Nakedness alone cannot hold the addict. Pornography's hook is the fantasy, the perversion, the lie. Jesus said the truth would set us free (John 8:32). The “Naked Truth” of the ancient fable can quickly undo the chains of bondage forged by porn and prudery. Unadorned Truth shows us the body the way its Creator sees it. Truth soberly instructs us to replace body shame with body acceptance.

It took porno-prudery years to indoctrinate us. Naked Truth wins her converts in a few moments. Among them are painters and sculptors of the human form, who copy the Ultimate Artist's original design from nude models. Millions of them work in healthcare, where the sight of naked bodies is a daily routine. Some live and serve as cross-cultural workers among tribal people who have treated nudity as a social norm for thousands of years. Whatever porn and prudery long and laboriously taught these groups of fellow citizens, Naked Truth quickly and easily untaught them.

Such normal, nonsexual responses to nudity clearly undermine the credibility of those who support porno-prudery. As a desperate maneuver, its defenders may trivialize these examples as “merely contextual.” But, as for as the naked body itself, context is nothing; as for how it's presented, context is everything. Of this crucial difference between the body's moral and immoral presentations, porno-prudery seems stubbornly ignorant. For that fault alone, it deserves removal from all minds claiming to uphold morality. It certainly has no place at all in the hearts of those who believe the human body is the one structure in all of physical creation that our Maker calls a Self-portrait (Genesis 1:27).

(For a more thorough understanding of prudery's direct relationship to porn addiction, visit “My Chains Are Gone.”)