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Deep concerns for all the wrong things
We have noticed a strong correlation between men having deep concerns with things that have no immediate relevance to them, and those men having generally unimpressive and under-productive lives.
The argument is always how it’ll help them make decisions in the future.
Yet that approach seems to have only resulted in an unproductive life so far.
The tree is known by its fruit, and wisdom is justified by her children. If this approach to life is so good, why does the evidence consistently say otherwise?
Titus 3:9 instructs us to “avoid foolish controversies…for they are unprofitable and worthless.”
Of course, not all controversies are foolish. But many are. And such foolish ones must be avoided.
What makes a controversy foolish? Matthew Henry sheds some light on the question:
Trifling, foolish questions must be avoided, and subtle distinctions and vain inquiries; nor should people be eager after novelties, but love sound doctrine which tends most to edifying.
John Calvin says something similar:
He calls them foolish, because they are uninstructive; that is, they contribute nothing to godliness, whatever show of acuteness they may hold out.
Note how both men point out that foolish controversies often involve a show of precision. It is a way for men to posture their discernment and intellectual mastery via subtle distinctions and shows of acuteness.
Ironically, such posturing is actually a show of foolishness.
This is why a focus on subtle nuances, though important at times, is generally a good indicator that a controversy is veering into territory that does not please God.
Not sure if something is a foolish controversy?
Ask yourself, “How will my day-to-day actions change if I resolve this?”
We’re willing to bet that nine times out of ten, the answer is, “They won’t.”
So it is probably a foolish controversy.
Most discussions on social media tend are of this kind.
As we were discussing this in Tyrannus Hall, a couple of men added some good insights, which we reproduce verbatim below:
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (2 Timothy 4:3–5 ESV)
False controversy follows men who can’t negotiate. The “Here I stand” stance is not far from an expression of vanity and mischief. It’s a way to cut people out in order to horde “power” to one’s cause. “I have no need of thee” is antithetical to evangelizing the nations. When I’m tempted to engage a controversy, I’m usually avoiding something more important, lacking meaningful work, or losing vision.
If porn is fake companionship… And video games are fake accomplishment… Then perhaps foolish controversy is fake righteousness?
The foolish controversy of ethical porn #
Speaking of porn, you would be amazed at the number of times we are asked about “ethically” using pornography outside of, and even within a marriage.
The sinfulness of this is self-evident.
However, here is brief response, since we get the question over and over again:
Scripture’s answer to satisfying your sexual desires is your spouse, and your spouse alone. Therefore, the use of pornographic “aids” are wrong.
Adam and Eve were the prototypical marriage. The satisfaction of their sexual desires did not require an outside human stimulation in any way, shape, or form. Eve was enough for Adam. Adam was enough for Eve.
One man, one woman.
Proverbs 5:15–20 makes it clear that a husband should find sexual satisfaction in his wife alone. Pay attention:
Drink water from your own cistern
And fresh water from your own well.
Should your springs be dispersed abroad,
Streams of water in the streets?
Let them be yours alone
And not for strangers with you.
Let your fountain be blessed,
And rejoice in the wife of your youth.
As a loving hind and a graceful doe,
Let her breasts satisfy you at all times;
Be exhilarated always with her love.
For why should you, my son, be exhilarated with an adulteress
And embrace the bosom of a foreigner?
Not others. Just your own wife. She is the only one you should be exhilarated with. Not a stranger.
The language of 1 Corinthians 7:2–5 emphasizes spouses finding sexual satisfaction solely in each other:
But because of immoralities, each man is to have his own wife, and each woman is to have her own husband. The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
In verse 9, Paul adds, “But if they do not have self-control, let them marry; for it is better to marry than to burn.” The Greek here shows that sexual desire can only be satisfied within marriage. πυροῦσθαι (purousthai) means to be inflamed with sexual desire. Now, there is nothing wrong with this (e.g., being turned on)—for marriage is given as the proper outlet.
This is only sinful sexual desire if it finds an improper outlet.
Hence, get married, so your sexual desire can be met by your spouse, and not yourself or a stranger.
Consider J.B. Philips’ rending of verse 9:
I think it is far better for them to be married than to be tortured by unsatisfied desire.
There are two basic scenarios for those who are trying to justify porn use:
They are using porn because they are single, lack a spouse, and desire sexual satisfaction now. Therefore, they must self-stimulate and bring in images of the woman they have been unable to acquire.
They are using porn because they and/or their spouse aren’t sufficiently aroused by each other. Therefore, they bring in the images of others to facilitate what they are unable to generate together.
In both cases, porn is overtly not facilitating finding sole sexual satisfaction in their spouse alone. It is doing the opposite—and thus prolonging and exacerbating this state of not finding sole sexual satisfaction in their spouse.
This isn’t rocket surgery.
Anyone trying normalize the use of porn is either outright demonic, or trying to create a guilt-relieving theological rationale for his lack of self-control and chastity.
It’s nuts we even have to talk about this stuff.
Self-serious men foolishly rebuking satire #
For April 1, we urged men to stop wearing silky boxers. Many men are outwardly masculine in their appearance, but secretly indulging and even luxuriating in effeminacy around the most intimate part of their manhood. Soft clothes = soft men (Luke 7:25), and concealed softness is the worst kind. So let us not be frauds and hypocrites, posturing masculinity with tough leather jackets and rough cargo pants, while inwardly cultivating ungodly ease and dainty foppery.
Most readers took this in good humor. But a few men wasted no time in telling us what a bad take it was.
For some of them, it’s not the first time they have been caught out rebuking what to others is obvious satire.
There is a serious lesson here.
Being occasionally duped is one thing. But there is a kind of self-serious man who has such a high opinion of his own wisdom that he feels compelled to correct every error he sees—yet is repeatedly fooled into taking seriously that which was meant in jest.
Such a man should step back and ask himself why he keeps getting trolled. Our old article on CrossPolitic might help:
A lengthy but fascinating autobiographical tale of transitioning to be a “man” and then back again, courtesy of a Notes on Manhood reader: By Any Other Name - by Helena
Talk again next week,
Bnonn & Michael