Nudity, Purity and Sex

Australia has been distracted in recent days with questions about an art show of naked children. Police raided the exhibition last Thursday and seized some of the images of naked 12 and 13 year old children. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd spoke out against the display, while the artistic community defended the show. Questions emerge such as “was there consent” and were the images “sexualised”. Art advocates point out that the naked body has been the focus of art for thousands of years.

This is timely for me, as it raises an issue which I have recently been thinking about. I believe that nudity is, in itself, a distortion of sexuality. I believe that our personal nakedness is a divine preserve. When we become lax about the sanctity of the naked body we have already crossed an important line in the loss of purity.

In all the debate that is now going on about the child photos there is recognition that some display of nudity is pornographic and an abuse of people’s privacy. I contend that any display of nudity should be seen as a violation of a sacred preserve. Now, before you dub me a wowser, take a moment to think a little further through the issue, with the Bible as your reference point. Follow me through the following notes.

As I tackle sexual deviancy in its various forms I have come to realise the importance of teaching on ‘purity’. Purity is a lost quality in the west, where sensuality and the “what’s in it for me” mentality reign supreme.
As I teach my Straight Talk on Sex material around the world I find myself more optimistic than I should be. I keep expecting Christians to have an understanding of and a commitment to moral purity. In my own childhood, although addicted to lustful thoughts and sexual obsessions, I carried an acute sense of my own impurity. I continue to be surprised, although I should not be, when I find Christians and Christian leaders who have abandoned the key ground of purity.
So let me challenge your thinking about ‘purity’ and relate that to nudity and sex.

The Call To Purity.

The starting point of each of our lives is that we have been created by God. Furthermore, we have been created in the image of God. So we are to be holy just as our heavenly Father is holy (Leviticus 11:45,19:2). We have a creation mandate, to be holy, just like God, who created us in His holy likeness. If we are not holy we defy God, rebel against His creative purpose for our lives and destroy the very thing God sought to establish. We cannot be unholy, for any reason. No matter how unholy those around us are, we must live in the fear of God and be holy and pure before Him.
Paul the Apostle insisted on this level of purity 4,000 years after the creation, as he set things in order within the infant church. Paul insisted that believers should “possess their body in sanctification and honour” (1Thessalonians 4:4). He exhorts Christians to “cleanse themselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit” and to “perfect holiness in the fear of God” (2Corinthians 7:1).
Jesus Christ demands our holiness. He instructed His followers to “be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). And the Apostle Peter added his voice to the case, saying that we are not to live by the lusts that we had before we were Christians , but are to be holy in all our lifestyle, just as God is holy (1Peter 1:14-16).
So, purity is not an optional extra for Christians. It is not something for the more devoted to think about, which ordinary Christians can ignore. No, indeed! Purity is something that is mandatory for all people who want to walk with God. And we have that from the Old Testament, from Christ, from Paul and from Peter.

The Spirit-Flesh Tension
God created us in His image. God also gave us human flesh. Our flesh is an area of vulnerability for us, as it is tempted to seek indulgence of its appetites. We are torn between our calling to be like God, and our lusts to be self-seeking and indulgent. God refers to this problem of the human condition by saying that man is “also flesh” (Genesis 6:3). The implication is that man is a spirit being, made in the image of God who is spirit, but man is also flesh, pulled by lusts. Mankind has a pull in both directions – toward God and holiness and toward self and degradation.
Christians need to be transformed from the old self-indulgent, fleshly lusts, into glorious freedom from self-indulgence. Look at the way Paul puts this case. 1Thessalonians 4:3-8 “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that you abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel (body) in sanctification and honour; Not in the lust of concupiscence (sensuality), even as the Gentiles which know not God: That no man go beyond and defraud his brother in any matter: because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also have forewarned you and testified. For God has not called us to uncleanness, but to holiness. He therefore that despises (the calling to holiness and the sanctity of the human body) despises not man, but God, who has also given to us his Holy Spirit.”
Now, let me package this up in a simple summary for you. You are created by a holy God and you have a divine mandate to be holy. Your flesh pulls you toward self-indulgence, lusts and degradation. Christ has paid for your sins, so you can be forgiven, and the Holy Spirit is given to empower you to put your flesh to death so you can live free of your fleshly lusts and glorify God.

Nakedness / Nudity
The human body is the starting point of purity. God created the human body to be kept sacred by each individual. Personal nakedness is a divine and sovereign element of human purity. To expose the body, or to go further toward sensual and sexual activity, is sinful and degrading.

As soon as Adam ate of the forbidden fruit in the Garden he knew that he was naked and he felt shame (Genesis 3:10). Adam was not ashamed of seeing Eve’s nakedness, because she was ‘one flesh’ with him, but he was ashamed of letting God see his nakedness, since nakedness is private, not for public display.

Noah’s godly sons would not look on his nakedness, because they knew that it was a sacred preserve of their father’s purity. Even though drunkenness had left Noah exposed on the floor of his tent, these sons took pains not to see his nakedness. They maintained their own and their father’s purity.

When a beautiful woman presents herself in a sensual manner, to attract the attentions of men, she demeans herself and degrades her value – she no longer holds her body as something honourable (1Thessalonians 4:4). She is toying with her nakedness, even when she does not expose it, by seeking to arouse sexual interest. She has demeaned her created holiness and lowered herself to the level of a pig. Proverbs 11:22 “Like a gold jewel in a pig’s snout, so is a fair woman who is indiscreet.”
When a man looks on a woman to lust after her, even though he does not see her nakedness his attention is drawn to exploiting it, and that lusting is deemed to be the same as committing adultery with her (Matthew 5:28). Lusts bring corruption into human society (2Peter 1:4) and those lusts actively contend within and war against the soul of a person (1Peter 2:11).
When a couple marries, God establishes a moral miracle, where the two independent bodies are deemed by God to be one body (one flesh) and so the nakedness and sexual intimacy between the couple is now moral and not impure. They are allowed to see and enjoy each other’s nakedness, even though no-one else is allowed to. Nakedness is still sacred, but it can now be shared between the husband and wife. The sexual freedom enjoyed by a married couple is undefiled, within the sanctity and privacy of their own marriage bed (Hebrews 13:4).
When a society becomes lax about nakedness it has become impure. When people stop protecting the sanctity of their own body and the body of others, impurity has contaminated the society. When people dress in an alluring manner and when nudity is exposed on movies, TV, magazines and billboards, impurity takes over. The people are despising God. When people will not treat their own nakedness and the nakedness of humanity as a sacred preserve given them by a holy God, they are despising God, Himself. It is an act of rebellion against God. I remind you of 1Thessalonians 4:8 “He therefore that despises (the calling to holiness and the sanctity of the human body) despises not man, but God, who has also given to us his Holy Spirit.”
This is what I am saddened to see in too many Christian circles. The refusal to honour the sanctity of the human body and each person’s personal nakedness is a mockery of purity and it is rebellion against God. Yet churches and church leaders are guilty of exactly that.
Christians are called to put their flesh to death, with its affections and lusts (Galatians 5:24), and they do that not by human effort but by relying on the Holy Spirit to empower them (Romans 8:13). This results in Christians living a life that is free from lusts and the pressures created by their flesh (Galatians 5:17), and they are able to live in the ‘glorious liberty of the Children of God’ (Romans 8:21). They then live in purity, and enjoy the fullness of joy which God created for them.

A disclaimer: The flesh is able to be enslaved by lusts, but God gave us our flesh and He has made provision for us to enjoy life in our bodies. Christians crucify their lusts, and then enjoy the natural life which God gave them. God intends us to enjoy our human existence in our human bodies. God created an idyllic garden resort for Adam and Eve, with the best tasting and the prettiest plants. God designed woman’s beauty as a gift for her husband to enjoy. God commends eating the sweet honeycomb. God encourages us to be ravished by our wife, to be satisfied with her breasts and to live joyfully with her. We are not sentenced to morbid existence, killing every pleasure. But we are to live in the fear of God, bringing our body under, so that we live out of our spirit and glorify God in our body and our spirit. Having done so, we will enjoy many delights through the five senses which God gave us.

Willam Carey – Desperate for Missions

This is the day that … William Carey preached his “deathless sermon”, as it is described by his biographer, S. Pearce Carey.

It was 1792, and the place was Nottingham, England.

At 10.00 a.m. the young cobbler/pastor from Leicester rose to address the small group.  His text was Isaiah 54:2,3:  “Lengthen thy cords … strengthen thy stakes …” and then rang out a fervent plea for missions. The two key thoughts he drew from that passage are: “Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God.”

One who was present tells us that Carey “was in an agony of distress” as he became spokesman for the perishing multitudes in heathendom.

As the ministers “once more quenched the Spirit” at the meeting’s close and began to leave, Carey grasped the arm of Andrew Fuller and cried:  “Is there nothing again going to be done, sir?”

“This”, writes S. Pearce Carey, “was a creative moment in the history of Christ’s Kingdom.  Deep called unto deep.  Fuller trembled an instant under that importunity, gesture and heartbreak, and then his soul was stabbed awake and the Holy Spirit flooded his spirit” (page 84).

With Fuller’s ‘inspired strength’ behind Carey’s vision, things began to move.

Before long the Baptist Missionary Society was born, and Carey himself was on his way to India.

While Count Zinzendorf’s Moravian community can be identified as an earlier missionary movement than Carey’s it is true that William Carey carried the burden of Missions like no-one before him. It was an obsession for him, which accounts for his passionate preaching.

Despite the ugliest of obstacles Carey got himself to India and pursued 41 years of missionary service. His wife’s insanity was but one of the crosses he had to bear. He had died to this world and spent himself in service of heaven.

Are Curses Genetic?

Now that researchers have been able to observe chemical changes within a person, directly linked to that person’s past experiences, there is a better understanding of how experiences can be translated into genetic changes. Those genetic changes may then be passed down to descendents.

Are these findings bringing us closer to understanding how curses are passed down from one generation to the next? Are curses genetic, and is there any scientific basis for understanding how they work?

I teach in my family seminars and explain in my flagship text, Family Horizons – Creating Families of Destiny (available from Family Horizons – www.FamilyHorizons.net) that the Bible teaches the reality of curses and of family curses. The Biblical case is for curses becoming part of the genetic inheritance of the family.

Here is a quick summary of some Biblical points to show that curses are genetic. At the giving of the Ten Commandments God specifically describes Himself as ‘visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of them that hate me’ (Exodus 20:5). This process is clearly one of passing to the children some form of curse or negative outcome, which continues for four generations. This is effectively a genetic curse.

When Eli the priest failed to give honour to God, but supported his sons’ evil activities instead, God pronounced a curse on Eli’s family that would be there ‘for ever’ (see 1Samuel 2:31-33). That curse was confirmed a few years later when the young lad, Samuel, first heard God’s voice. God told Samuel that Eli and his sons were going to die for their sins and that a curse would be on Eli’s family for ever (1Samuel 3:13).

Eli’s curse is that none of the males will grow into old age. They will all die in the prime of their life. This curse was not going to work for three or four generations, but would persist for ever.

Some evangelical Christians find it very hard to accept that curses could exist today. My answer is to ask, Is the curse of sin and death still operating in the world? The answer is, Yes. Where does it come from? The answer is, Adam. What is your connection to Adam? The answer is, I am his descendent. So, there you have it. Every evangelical clearly believes in family curses. We all believe that the curse of sin and death comes upon all people today, even after the resurrection of Jesus, as a curse we receive from our ancestor. This is a family curse!

Allow me to leave the doctrinal case there. The question I have posed is, Are Curses Genetic? Since the Bible clearly shows that they are, we should expect there to be some scientific clue to a physiological reality. That clue is now uncovered.

Since our DNA prescribes the range of options available to us in our species, and even limits us to the collection of features that have been successfully passed to us from our immediate ancestors, it could be argued that there is no real room for a ‘curse’ to impact the DNA. Dominant genes will assert themselves over passive genes. It is completely unlikely that some new gene will suddenly appear in the DNA as response to some ‘curse’ being placed on our life.

But genetics has moved beyond DNA as the sole prescriptor of our genetic options. Related genetic process work on the DNA to cause various genes to be activated (expressed), or not. A simple protein molecule might be all that is required to switch on or off some genetic capacity. The consequence can be such things as disease, mental instability, personality changes and so on.

Recent findings indicate that suicide is being triggered in some men who have been abuse victims in childhood. Brain research on 18 such men indicates that, while the essential DNA is OK, the methylation process accompanying gene activity is different in these men, compared with non-abused men.

This finding points to the importance of the switching process. A curse can theoretically be switched on or off in your life, by a basic act of cell chemistry. Your genetic DNA won’t change but the function of your genes will.

And that may very well be how God goes about the process of activating a curse in a person’s life, which is passed down through the family.

So, are curses genetic? I can’t be adamant in my answer, but I can see how it is possible in the light of current genetic understanding. One thing is for sure, family curses are Biblical and real.

My book, Family Horizons, does explain how to break curses. So please don’t have sleepless nights trying to protect your DNA from rebel proteins.

Hyman Appelman – little jew with a big Jesus

This is the day that … Hyman Jedediah Appelman was ordained, in 1930.

This remarkable evangelist began life in White Russia on 7 January, 1902, born to an Orthodox Jewish family.  He was reared in the Jewish faith, emigrated with his family to America in 1914, became an outstanding scholar at various schools and universities and eventually (in 1921) was licensed to practise law.

During a holiday in Kansas City a newspaper reporter named Daly witnessed to him concerning the claims of Christ.  The next morning a Mr Garrett invited him to church – the first Protestant service he had ever attended.

It was later that year – now in Denver, Colorado – that Appelman was directed to Dr James Davis of the Central Christian Church.  There the 23 year-old Jew found his Messiah, was baptised the following Sunday, and sent a wire home to his family telling them the news.  His family disowned him, the Jewish law firm dismissed him, and his fiancée broke off their engagement. His father said to him, “When your sides come together from hunger, and you come crawling to my door, I will throw you a crust of bread as I would any other dog.”

But Hyman Appelman never faltered in his new-found faith.  He joined the United States Army, joined the Baptist denomination, and began preaching.

Shortly after his ordination by the Southern Baptists, he married Verna Cook (on 4 September, 1930), and commenced a remarkable evangelistic ministry that took him around the world, including Australia … in 1948. Just as the highly educated Apostle Paul laboured ‘more abundantly’, so too did this modern Jewish convert. It was hard to find a day when he was not ministering. He averaged two weeks at home out of a year.

Appelman looked directly to the Holy Spirit for his enabling. “The all-pervading, all-controlling, all-achieving Holy Spirit is the only Source of power. It is not in our schools, not in our churches, not in our organizations. It is not in our separation, not in our busyness, not in our attractions. It is not in our programs. It is solely the Holy Spirit who gives this power to do exploits for God, to promote the interests of God’s kingdom, to overcome Satan, to win the lost. There is no separating of spiritual power from the Holy Spirit. It is not power; it is the Holy Spirit. You cannot have power without the Holy Spirit. You cannot have the Holy Spirit without being flooded by Heaven’s power.”

Time Magazine once reported: Overflow crowds jammed Detroit’s Convention Hall to hear a sensational evangelist, Dr. Hyman Appelman, who calls himself “the little Jew with a big Jesus.”

This Russian-born Jewish American Baptist died in 1983.

Sovereignty Banned!

As I have reviewed the subject of personal sovereignty with you in recent months I have sought to open your eyes to the special privilege you have of doing business, directly and personally, with the God of all creation. Our greatest authority comes from the highest official – and so coming under the direct authority of God gives us authority that cannot be trumped by lesser beings.
True sovereignty, however, is not found in asserting personal rights, attending assertiveness training courses, defying authorities or the like. True sovereignty is all about you being in direct, personal relationship with God. He is the ultimate sovereign citizen of the universe. No-one can contend with His authority. When you are an intimate friend of God, falling at His feet and living only to do His will, you can walk in the fullest expression of your personal sovereignty.
Much of what others might think of as exercising their personal sovereignty may well be rebellion, arrogance, defiance against authority, self-will and ignorance. Please avoid such things.
Now, as I have pointed out, a person who truly walks in their personal sovereignty is able to exercise power and influence greater than governments, regimes and armies. That is the reason, I suggest, that evil regimes are so determinedly antagonistic to Christian faith and the Bible.
There is no more empowering experience and no more sure way to establish a person’s personal sovereignty, than to have them enter into personal relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ. There is no more empowering resource than the Bible. When people live by faith in God, through Jesus Christ, committed to the Bible as the inerrant word of God, they are empowered and willing to exercise personal freedom like no other people. Evil regimes, therefore, run the risk that divinely empowered people will be able to challenge them in the same way Elisha challenged the King of Syria, or David brought down Goliath. No evil regime wants to have young people in its own domain who can exercise greater clout than the dictator, nor some lonely prophet who can topple their power.
Have you noticed that communist and other dictators are quick to ban the Bible, restrict Christian worship and punish people of faith? It is a trade-mark of many regimes. They ban the Bible and Christianity, because they are trying to do away with personal sovereignty.
Notice this quote from Horace Greeley: “It is impossible to enslave mentally or socially a Bible-reading people. The principles of the Bible are the groundwork of human freedom.” The ‘human freedom’ identified by Greeley is that right to stand before God. A person who can stand confidently before his maker is the freest person on the planet. He may be in prison, outlawed, or otherwise oppressed by man, but his soul and spirit are free, even freer than the dictators who incarcerated him.
Napoleon also recognised the incredible power inherent in the Bible and the faith that springs from it. He said: “The Bible is no mere book, but a Living Creature, with a power that conquers all that oppose it.”
For that reason Bibles have been taken to oppressed people, as part of the process of setting those people truly free. The Bible has the power to liberate souls, and consequently to liberate peoples and nations.
Note, however, that in the West there has been a subtle banning of the Bible. It is no longer allowed to be read in schools as it was when I was a boy. A weekly Bible lesson was conducted in my classes, by the school teacher, as part of the class curriculum. That small inculcation of the Word of God had its effect, especially when combined with the many other places where the Bible was spoken and its teachings propagated. But today much of that sowing of the Bible has been made illegal, and we have a generation more ready to succumb to tyranny than we had before. We have a people closer to losing their human freedom.
I, for one, am keen to propagate the Bible and its teachings. I also encourage every one to explore their personal sovereignty before God. I want whole generations committed to walking with God, according to the Word of God, living by faith in God, obedient to the will of God, empowered by the Spirit of God, so that they can build the kingdom of God and turn back the forces of oppression which aim to enslave them and their children.
I commend to you your personal sovereignty. Don’t let anyone ban it or rob you of it. Pursue God. Read the Bible. Put your faith in Jesus Christ. Humble yourself before God. And live the destiny God has uniquely created for you. I challenge you to do so, in Jesus’ precious and powerful name. Amen.