Indeed, great responsibility must always accompany any great powers, sexual or otherwise. Because unless we exercise great responsibility in sexual matters, our powerful urge to merge will rapidly spiral downward, wrecking havoc on society, like a torrential firestorm on a windy day. Women will be raped, children will be molested, diseases will be spread, unwanted children will be born out of wedlock, and the divorce rate will rocket through the roof. No sane person is in favor of fueling such mayhem. Certainly not I.
Therefore, logic dictates that if the results of a particular action are detrimental, then those actions which produced those detrimental results must also be bad. Or to quote Jesus:
Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them (Mathew 7: 16-20, NKJV).
Although Jesus was using this analogy to denounce the false teachings of those in His day, Jesus' words seems applicable in denouncing all false teachings, past or present. False teachings result in unethical actions. And unethical actions result in undesirable consequences, akin to thorns and thistles. The sky-rocketing divorce rate, unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, etc., can aptly be described as thorns and thistles which have came to fruition as a result of false teachings and erroneous ideas. Ideas do have consequences for either good or bad. Therefore, anyone who would get on the bandwagon to promote activities that would naturaly result in the perpetuation of these unwanted thorns and thistles has got to be branded as both an anarchist and a false teacher. Uncle Ben hit the nail on the head - with great power does come great responsibility.
Nevertheless, this does beg a very important question: What does "responsible sex" really mean? Answers to this question range the gamut, from "Anything goes" to "Sex only within marriage" to "Total Abstinence." Many early Christians regarded sex, even sex within marriage, as being either a sin or the lesser of two evils, the other evil being a vulnerability to sexual temptation outside of the marriage bed. Augustine believed that the only legitimate use of sex was for procreation within marriage. Tertullian publicly denounced having sex with his own wife. And Jerome said that a man who enjoys having sex with his wife is guilty of fornication.
I have no doubt that these men were both intelligent and sincere. However, if these devout giants of the faith could be so befuddled and off-target, shouldn't we at least consider the possibility that today's Christian leaders, though also devout and sincere, may also be misinterpreting the biblical message of sexual ethics? It's often been said that those who are unwilling to learn from the mistakes of history are doomed to repeat the mistakes of history. Or put another way, the main lesson that we should learn from history is that most people simply don't learn lessons from history.
Most modern Christians do not go to the same extreme regarding sexual ethics as the early Church Fathers or the ascetics. Most Christians today believe that it is not only permissable for married couples to have sex, but it is also okay for them to enjoy having sex, whether or not procreation is the desired end result. This is a positive step forward, and it deserves a boisterous round of applause.
But is that all there is to sex? Save yourself until marriage, restrict the use of sex to one lifelong partner until one of you croak, perhaps make a few babies, and then you die and go to a sex-free Heaven designed to accommadate celestial monks and nuns for all eternity. Is that all there is? Surely God has something much better in mind than that.
Many Christians are alarmed about the sexual climate of America and the world. And in one sense, they should be. Currently, we live in a world where the divorce rate has escalated to almost 50%. According to the an Associated Content article, 17 percent of the divorces in the United States are a direct result of infidelity (Infidelity: How One Woman Survived Spouse's Cheating by Just Loves Books, published June 8, 2007). Some surveys suggest that the divorce rate among Christians is about the same as among non-Christians. Up to 37% of married men and 22% of married women admit to having affairs, according to Dr. Bob Lanier. About 24 percent of men and 14 percent of women have had sex outside their marriages, according to a December 1998 report in USA Today, based on a national study conducted by the University of California, San Francisco. Nobody knows the exact percentage of affairs because, for obvious reasons, many people having affairs are unwilling to admit it. Therefore, the true percentage is probably even higher. Meanwhile, the number of unmarried couples living together has increased dramatically over the past few decades, and many experts expect that this trend will continue to escalate.
Some experts say the solution to all these ills is to remain faithful to one's wedding vows by either buckelling up and biting the bullet, or by heeding the advice of a councelor or a self-help manual. Though I've got nothing against either of these options, I also believe the problem runs much deeper than that. I believe it goes all the way back to something wicked that happened long, long ago in The Garden of Eden.
Perhaps the reason so many people have such a hard time being monogamous is that maybe, just maybe, God did not design us that way in the first place. Of course, many theologians try to use the story of Adam and Eve as an endorsement for lifelong marital monogamy and the perpetuation of the nuclear family. Yet Jesus spoke of a time when marriage, at least marriage as we know it, will come to an end (Matthew 22:30; Mark 12:25; Luke 20:35). Many today use these pasages as proof that there is no sex in Heaven. Yet many Christians in the past believed these verses pertained to life in the here and now, not some future event in the by-and-by. Jesus also expanded the definition of the word "family" to include "everyone who does the will of God" (Mark 3:35).
Meanwhile, in the secular arena, biological evidence is mounting, giving strong evidence that most men really do have a Seven-Year Itch, which is an inclination to become unfaithful after seven years of marriage. Even good Christian men are not immune to this proclivity. A survey was conducted, using more than 600 Christian men to determine the sex patterns of good, Christian men. The findings were eye-opening. Dr. Archibald D. Hart, a Christian psychologist and highly acclaimed author and lecturer, concluded:
About 33 percent, or one in three, married, morally upright and good men acknowledged that they were either extremely or strongly attracted to women other than their wives (Hart, Dr. Archibald D. The Sexual Man, Dallas, London, Vancouver, Melbourne: Word Publishing, 1994, , page 132).
Many of these men said they felt bad about this inclination and would never actually cheat on their wives.
A strong case can also be made that The Coolidge Effect is more than just a joke. The term "Coolidge Effect" is attributed to President Calvin Coolidge, who made a witty remark about males having a natural proclivity for sexual variety. In biology and psychology, this term now describes phenomena seen in nearly every species, whereby males show continuously high sexual performance given the introduction of new receptive females.
Studies done among the swinging community attest to the very real existence of both a Seven-Year Itch and a Coolidge Effect. The most recent and comprehensive study was a national on-line survey of 1092 swingers conducted by Bergstrand and Williams of Bellarmine University, a Catholic institution in Louisville, Kentucky , which concluded that:
Swinging appears to make the vast majority of swingers' marriages happier, and swingers rate the happiness of their marriages and life satisfaction generally as higher than the non-swinging population.
How is a Christian committed to living biblical principles supposed to interpret all this evidence, which goes directly against the grain of everything they've been taught in Sunday school? Many Christians would probably blame man's proclivity to non-monogamy on the Fall. In other words, God designed us to be monogamous back in Eden, but the introduction of sin into the ethical equation caused things to run amuck. After Adam ate the forbidden fruit and sin entered the world, the lust of the flesh took over, causing uncontrollable sexual temptation to reign in our depraved, wicked hearts.
But perhaps there's a better explanation; one that makes a little more sense. Perhaps there is another explanation for the existence of both the Seven Year Itch and The Coolidge Effect that is both logical and biblical. Maybe, just maybe, God made us non-monogamous in the first place. Maybe variety really is the spice of life after all. And not just in regards to ice cream sundaes and sunsets, but in regards to sex as well. And not just in terms of putting different flavored toppings on the same vanilla ice cream. I'm talking about hundreds, even thousands, of different flavors of ice cream as well. Maybe marriage, as we know it, was instituted after the Fall and because of the Fall. This was, after all, the majority opinion prior to Augustine.
Is it just a coincidence that Eve wasn't named "The Mother of All Living" until after the Fall? Does God realy expect us to believe that sex within a monogamous heterosexual marriage is the only legitimate form of sexual expression sanctioned by the Bible? Many have tried to reduce sexual ethics to an ultra-simplistic sound-bite. It's been said many times and in many ways that sex belongs exclusively within marriage between one husband and one wife; everything else is simply "wrong." Or in Christian vernacular, everything else is "a sin." I believe there's a grain of truth in those sentiments. For example, if we all lived in a world where there is exactly as many men as women - a world where birth control devices have yet to be invented - then perhaps it would be in the overall best interests of everyone concerned to restrict sexual intercourse to one husband and one wife. After all, in such a world, each and every act of intercourse could potentially bring to fruition a pregnancy which might result in the birth of a helpless baby who will no doubt require an enormous amount of love, attention, guidance, and financial support. And who better to give a baby the love and attention it needs than a husband and wife who are lovingly committed to each other til death do them part? Who better to instill high moral values into this newborn infant than a husband and wife who also have high moral values? This almost seems like a no-brainer.
The world's population is now about 7 billion, give or take a few billion. The ethical implications of engaging in procreative sex, i.e. sex that could result in adding to this burgeoning number, is staggering. Add to all of this the risk of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) and the high rate of divorce, which is often the result of extramarital affairs, it's no wonder that many concerned citizens see the monogamous marriage bed as the only legitimate context for sex. Again, this almost seems like a no-brainer, especially for Christians.
Echoing this sentiment, a Christian bumper sticker asked, What part of "Thou Shalt Not..." don't you understand? To me, the answer to that question is obvious. Everyone knows what "Thou shalt not" means. But may I boldly suggest that many people are clueless when it comes to accurately defining what it means to commit either adultery or fornication. Everyone thinks they know, but most people don't. Here's a hint. Consider what Harper's Bible Dictionary says:
The law [against adultery] was probably intended to ensure that any child born to the wife was really the husband's child, since it was considered crucial for the husband to have offspring, so that the family name could be perpetuated (Achtemeier, Paul J., General Editor. Harper's Bible Dictionary. New York, NY: HarperSanFrancisco, 1985, page 13-14).
Everyone knows the Bible says two things about sexual immorality: (1) There is a such thing as sexual immorality. (2) Sexual immorality is, well, sexually immoral.
So why even bother to write any further about this well-worn subject? Haven't I just said everything that needs to be said? Doesn't everyone, at least every Christian, already know what sexual immorality is and why it is wrong? If I believed the answer to those last two questions was Yes, I would have little of importance to say. But I do believe there is much more to say about sex than simply "Save yourself until marriage" and "All sex outside of marriage is a sin." I believe an inquiry into sexual ethics is important because I am persuaded that most people do not know what sexual immorality is or why it is wrong.
I believe our sincere but misguided sheppards of the flock have been like the blind leading the blind into a ditch of chaotic confusion. On the one hand, we don't want to be antinomian and say, "Anything goes!" But neither do we want to be legalistic and add to areas where God has left us free.
Before I proceed further, let me first assure my readers that I have not been indulging in any type of hallucinogens. I am not delusional. Furthermore, not only am I a Christian who believes the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, I also agree with The Three Ecumenical or Universal Creeds, found in The Book of Concord, which includes The Apostles' Creed, The Nicene Creed, and The Athanasian Creed. Neither did I get some type of special revelation in the middle of the dessert. Furthermore, I also agree with The Five Solas, which are five Latin slogans that articulate the five fundamental beliefs of the Protestant Reformation, pillars which the Reformers believed to be essentials of the Christian life and practice. The Five Solas are:
1 Sola scriptura ("by Scripture alone")
2 Sola fide ("by faith alone")
3 Sola gratia ("by grace alone")
4 Solus Christus ("Christ alone")
5 Soli Deo gloria ("glory to God alone")
I agree with Philip Yancey, who said:
I know of no greater failure among Christians than in presenting a persuasive approach to sexuality. Outside the church, people think of God as the great spoilsport of human sexuality, not its inventor (Yancey, Philip. Holy Sex - How it ravishes our souls, a Christianity Today online article,
October 1, 2003).
Unfortunately, Yancey does not, in my opinion, present a persuasive approach to sexuality either. Yancey goes on to explain how the greatest theologian to ever live, Saint Augustine, came to regret that God had created sex in the first place. In succeeding centuries, church authorities issued edicts forbidding sex on certain holy days. According to Yancey, the list escalated until there were "only 44 days a year available for marital sex." Although the Protestant Reformation brought about a shift in attitudes toward sex, as Yancey points out, most modern-day Protestants still believe that Heaven is a sex-free environment for celestial monks and nuns. As a result, many people just don't look forward to sex as much as they should.
I don't mean to imply that Yancey will agree with everything I write. He probably won't. My main point is not that there is no such thing as sexual immorality or that sexual immorality is not a serious matter. According to Revelation 21:8, sexually immoral people will suffer throughout all eternity in a lake which burns with fire and brimstone." Furthermore, it doesn't take a seminary graduate or an expert in ethics to deduce that certain sexual activities are simply wrong. Rape is wrong. Child molestation is wrong. Spreading STDs is wrong. Jeopardizing valued relationships by engaging in secretive affairs is wrong. Bringing unwanted children into this world is wrong. Common sense and logic should dictate that some sexual activities are just plain wrong. Therefore, I will not waste any time on such obvious matters.
But there are other ethical issues pertaining to sex that are not at all blatantly obvious. For example, is polygamy a sin? Christianity is divided on this. Even Luther and Calvin did not agree. According to an online survey at sermonaudio.com, a reformed website, 37% believed polygamy has always been sinful, 20% believed polygamy was permitted in the Old Testament but is now sinful under the new covenant, 10% believed polygamy is not sinful, but is unwise as it is not God's ideal of one man and one woman for life, 21% believed polygamy has always been allowed by God, just like celibacy and monogamy, and 7% believed polygamy is the Bible's preferred form of marriage.
Some might be saying, So what? Who cares whether or not polygamy is a sin? Polygamy is illegal where I live. But the answer to the polygamy question has deeper implications that spill over into other areas of ethical concern. It effects how missionaries do their job. Does a polygamist have to give up all but one wife before accepting Jesus? Some say yes, some say no.
The polygamy question also opens a Pandora's box to other ethical considerations. If polygamy is not a sin, why is it not a sin? If there are situations where God allows a polygamist to have sex with more than one woman, then what about polyandry, where a woman has more than one husband? And if there are situations where God allows for both polygamy and polyandry, what about polyamory, a lifestyle similar to swinging which focuses on love and relationships while maintaining that it is possible to love multiple individuals and express that love sexually in a responsible and ethical manner? Is it possible to sexually love more than one individual simultaneously? If so, is it beneficial? Is it ethical? If the Bible is supportive to the polyamorous lifestyle, then what about swinging? Can swinging be reconciled with the teachings of the Bible? Many would claim the answer to such a question is so blatantly obvious that it's not even worthy of consideration. Nevertheless, the Bible says nothing about swinging. Many swingers are, or at least claim to be, Christians.
What is sexual immorality and why is it wrong? What is marriage and why did God institute marriage? Did God institute marriage before the Fall or after the Fall? Did the sin of Adam and Eve have anything to do with a sexual transgression? If so, what? Why was Eve named The Mother of All Living after the Fall? What did Jesus mean when He said that anyone who looks at a woman with lust in his heart has committed adultery with her already? What is lust and why is it wrong? Once Pandora's box is opened, an avalanche of important ethical questions flood into the arena of inquiry. It's no wonder that most Christian teachers would prefer to keep Pandora's box securely sealed.
How should we accurately define responsible sex? Or, in Christian terms, how should we define sexual morality, and how do we distinguish it from sexual immorality? Where do we draw the line? Granted, the Bible tells us that adultery is wrong, and so is fornication and lust. But what is an accurate definition of terms like "adultery," "fornication," and "lust"? And why does God disapprove of these things so strongly? These are questions I intend to grapple with in great detail because I believe that most of our church leaders have done an abysmal job in this area. Also, these issues are enormously complex and the Bible doesn't always reduce the answers to convenient sound-bites.
The word ethics, according to the American Heritage Dictionary , is:
- A set of principles of right conduct.
- A theory or a system of moral values: "An ethic of service is at war with a craving for gain" (Gregg Easterbrook).
- The study of the general nature of morals and of the specific moral choices to be made by a person; moral philosophy.
- The rules or standards governing the conduct of a person or the members of a profession: medical ethics.
- Of or concerned with the judgment of the goodness or badness of human action and character: moral scrutiny; a moral quandary.
- Teaching or exhibiting goodness or correctness of character and behavior: a moral lesson.
- Conforming to standards of what is right or just in behavior; virtuous: a moral life.
- Arising from conscience or the sense of right and wrong: a moral obligation.
- Having psychological rather than physical or tangible effects: a moral victory; moral support.
- Based on strong likelihood or firm conviction, rather than on the actual evidence: a moral certainty.
The words "ethics" and "morals" are often used interchangeably for what is "right" and what is "wrong." If we think something is "right," we might say it is "ethical" or we might say it is "moral." If we think something is "wrong," we might say it is "unethical" or we might say it is "immoral." Usually, we are more apt to describe a sexual activity as "immoral" rather than say it is "unethical." Similarly, we are more apt to describe shady business dealings as "unethical" rather than "immoral." But again, we think of the words "moral" and "ethical" to mean right, and we think of "immoral" and "unethical" to mean wrong. But there's a problem with these definitions.
First, just because someone does what they think is right, that does not necessarily mean that it is right. Most people living prior to the flood probably thought what they were doing was right, but look what happened to them. The same can be said of the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah. And although the Bible does teach in places like Romans 2:14-15 that even non-Christians have a certain God-given ability to distinguish between right and wrong, the Bible also teaches that our minds are deceptive and our hearts are desperately wicked. Jeremiah 17:9 states that the human heart, apart from God, is both deceitful and wicked. Therefore, although common sense and logic are important and should be employed, they are not totally sufficient in determining right from wrong. Rather, the Bible illuminated by the Holy Spirit to a converted Christian is the foundation which determines what right and wrong behavior truly is. A proper reverence for God as revealed through His Word is the starting point for all wisdom. Proverbs 1:7 says, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction." Nevertheless, we also need to employ common sense and wisdom, especially with regards to sexual conduct and behavior, because there are a myriad of questions pertaining to sexual ethics that the Bible simply does not answer, at least not explicitly.
Originally, the words "ethics" and "morals" had a meaning that was slightly different from what they mean today. Most words change in meaning and nuance over time. The word "moral" comes from the Latin word "mōrālis," which simply referred to a custom or what was customary. In other words, the word moral originally referred to the way things are with no ethical connotation of whether or not something was right or wrong.
The word "ethics," on the other hand, comes from the late Latin "ēthica," which comes from the Greek "ēthika." It simply refers to the way things ought to be, the total ideal. So morals originally referred to the way things are, while ethics originally referred to the way things ought to be. Probably the reason we confuse the two terms is because we think that if enough people do a particular thing, it therefore must be right or ethical. It's helpful to have statistics to tell us what people do. But these statistics do not determine what is right or wrong. Truth is not determined by counting noses. Truth is ultimately determined by what God's Word says is right and wrong.
My purpose for creating a site pertaining to sexual ethics is to help both myself and others clarify their thinking in order to accurately determine what's right, what's wrong, and why. I believe this can only be accomplished by engaging the Christian community at large in a meaningful dialogue. Some churches will boot you out for even suggesting that these matters should be discussed. I know this from personal experience. This site allows participants to remain anonymous if they wish. This site is a place where Christians are encouraged to express their opinions freely. I welcome and encourage your opinions, as long as those opinions are thoughtful, respectful, and represent a Christian world view. No profanity please.
Of course, the opinions I express on this site are exactly that - my opinions. I make no claim to being infallible. So why should you even bother to read or consider anything I have to say? Good question. My answer is that I have spent a considerable amount of time and energy researching this subject and weighing all the pros and cons of various positions. Few people would have the time or inclination to do the hard work I have done. If you wanted information about a legal matter or how to fix your car, you would go to an expert. And the more pertinant information they have, the better. Certainly you would not allow just anybody to perform open-heart surgery on you. You want the very best expert you can find because your life is at stake.
I believe I am an expert in sexual ethics. This does not mean I know everything. I am constantly learning and re-evaluating everything I believe. Neither does it mean I am perfect or infallible. Only God as revealed through His Word is perfect and infallible. I will have failed miserably if everyone on planet earth reads everything I have to say and then accepts it without testing it in the light of Scripture, using their God-given common sense and reason. On the other hand, I also will have failed miserably if nobody reads anything I have to say simply because I am not a seminary graduate. Many of my opponents would bring out the bubbly and do back-flips if that were to happen. That's because many churches do not want us to think, at least not about sex. Thinking might be dangerous. "Welcome To XYZ Church! Be sure to check your brains out at the door before entering our place of worship" is their motto.
But truth is truth, regardless of the source. So don't believe me; believe what the Bible says and believe what common sense and logic dictate. Don't let me or anyone else bully you into accepting their opinion. God's opinion is ultimately the only thing that really matters. For as Romans 3:4 states:
Let God be true, and every man a liar (NIV).
I believe in allowing the Holy Spirit guide us to all truth, regardless of what that truth may be. Or, as they say on the hit TV show CSI, I believe in going wherever the evidence leads us, regardless of where that might be. I believe that the Holy Spirit uses the evidence found in Scripture, as well as the evidence found in nature and biology, to convict us and lead us to truth without having to abandon the use of our common sense and human reason. Conversely, total reliance in human tradition and the status quo, whether ecclesiastical or secular, may or may not lead us to the truth we seek.
Martin Luther also believed that truth was important. According to one of Luther's famous quotes: "Peace if possible; truth at all costs." Luther also believed that the use of common sense and logic, in addition to Scripture, is also important. In 1521, when asked to recant his beliefs before the Diet of Worms, Luther said, in his famous Here I Stand speech:
Unless I shall be convinced by the testimonies of the Scriptures or by clear reason ... I neither can nor will make any retraction, since it is neither safe nor honourable to act against conscience. Here I stand. I can do no other. God help me. Amen.
Notice that Luther appealed to both the Scriptures and clear reason to support his position. The Bible also commends the Bereans and holds them up as an example because they did not just kowtow to everything everybody said; not even the Apostle Paul. Instead, we are told in Acts 17:11 that the Bereans listened intently to the words of Paul and Silas and received what they had to say "with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so (NKJV)." In other words, they were attentive and completely open-minded when they listened to Paul and Silas. I'm sure that Paul and Silas made an iron-clad case for everything they said, supported by Scripture, as well as common sense and logic. Those noble Bereans carefully considered what Paul and Silas had to say. They did not just take their word for anything. They searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. I ask my readers to be like those Bereans. I say this because most pastors have been unwilling to even give me a fair hearing, just like the leaders in Rome did not give Martin Luther a fair hearing at the Diet of Worms.
Ah, but I can hear my critics now. "But you're no Martin Luther. And you're certainly no Apostle Paul." Of course not. But I do have several advantages over them. A lot has been written on the subject of sexual ethics since the time of Luther. Not only have I read most if not all that Martin Luther and the Apostle Paul have written on this subject, I've read a lot that has been written since they died and went to Heaven. Plus, I have access to the Internet, along with the massive wealth of knowledge that is contained in books found at my local library. I also have access to the same throne of grace, knowledge, and wisdom that Luther and Paul had access to. So what are my critics saying? Are they saying that God is unable to use someone like me? You decide.
First Thessalonians 5:21 instructs us to test everything that everybody has to say about anything. Everything needs to be tested in the light of Scripture. We should not automatically assume that everything we have always been taught is necessarily true, regardless of how sincere our teachers are. Neither should we abandon common sense and human reason. After all, common sense and human reason, when rightly used, are gifts from God. Truth is and should be both logical and reasonable. It is critically important, therefore, to use our brains when trying to properly interpret God's will regarding sexual ethics. This is because the Bible does not answer many of the questions we have, at least not explicitely. This is where common sense and reason figure into the ethical equation. Then, we are told in 1 Thessalonians 5:21b to hold on to everything that is accurate, good, and true.
The purpose of this site is to get Christians to think, pray, study, and talk about sexual ethics. That's why I named this site ChristiansTalkingAboutSex.com. Many have told me that Christians should not be talking about sex; it's simply too dangerous. I disagree. The fog of massive confusion regarding this highly important and enormously complex subject will never be lifted until Christians start talking and keep talking about sex. I invite you to join me and others as they talk about sex. Christendom is starving for A Sexual Great Awakening and A Sexual Reformation, based upon Scripture, biological evidence, common sense, and logic.
Throughout the course of my writing, I will make references to many great Christian theologians, both past and present; men such as Augustine, Luther, Calvin, and others from the past, as well as Billy Graham, John MacArthur, Hank Hanegraaff, Randy Alcorn, R.C. Sproul, and others from the present. I greatly respect and admire them all. I agree with them on most things, such as the essentials of the Christian faith. Oftentimes, however, I resectfully disagree with their positions on sexual ethics. Sometimes I will be critical of their positions, while other times I will use their words to back up my positions. I am a fan of all these men and have learned a great deal from them. But the most important thing I have learned from them is the importance of truth.
I suppose I should issue a disclaimer. The opinions expressed on this site are controversial and may force you to think about things you never thought of before. Your local pastor probably doesn't want you to consider these things. Remember, your pastor, though probably a fine person, is not God. Like me, you may be booted out of your church for even considering what I have to say. But remember the persecution that others suffered for proclaiming an unpopular message; men like Luther, Paul, most of the other Apostles who were martyred for the sake of truth, and finally, Christ Himself. Also remember that whenever we are challenged by new ideas that are diferent from what we always believed, it can be disconcerting. This is only natural. Therefore, your chief concern while discerning this new information should be Is it true?, not How does this make me feel?
Keeping all of this in mind, let the thinking, the praying, and the talking begin!