I wrote about the current trend we are experiencing in the Jesus is my boyfriend issue a week or so ago. In it I mentioned that the trend we're currently experiencing in some Christian and/or evangelical quarters is to reduce Almighty God to our boyfriend or husband, and how this not only diminishes His august Majesty but introduces an inevitable sexual component to this unwanted trend.
In this essay I am going to extend the trend forward to a place that is obvious once you think about it. I alluded to it when I mentioned in that Jesus is my boyfriend essay women as 'camp followers'. I'll answer answer the question of "why are mega-pastors like Ed Young, Mark Driscoll, and others introducing sex into the pulpit and why is contemporary music turning into breathlessly romantic and sometimes sexual songs about Jesus?" Here is my answer:
Because satan is preparing for the re-introduction of temple prostitution/sexual divine where the ancient pagan practices of sexual rites constitute a vital offering to deities. Now stick with me as I make my case. It is long so get comfortable.
Since time immemorial, worshipers have sought a union with the divine. We all have eternity in our hearts, (Ecclesiastes 3:11). We all have a conscience. (Romans 9:1). We all have knowledge that a higher being created the world. (Romans 1:19). Some of us suppress this truth. (Romans 1:18). Some respond and are saved by the blood of Jesus when we repent. When we repent, we finally recognize our union with Him, He sends the Spirit to dwell in us, and we are united to Him through covenant, marriage, and adoption.
However back to Romans 1. Those folks who refuse Jesus take a different path. They still seek union with the divine but because they are under satan's sway, they have to live with his version of it. For those who suppress the truth, they respond to the union with the divine in ever increasingly corrupt ways. The trajectory is always down, as the progression in Romans 1 shows us.
In my opinion, the most overt unholy element of the current unholy perverse downgrade is the union of the sexual in worship.
Everything old is new again. We always come full circle. If you get a globe (remember those?) put a felt marker on the dot of your town, and spin the globe all the way around allowing the marker to draw a line, where will you end up? Back on your town. It is the same way with cultural trends. New Age is really old age. Today's Personal Revelation is really old Gnosticism. Today's Charismatic ecstatic experiences are really old Catholic mystic visions. Nothing satan does is new. Why should he expend energy creating new ways to pervert worship when all the old ways still work?
At root of the oldest way to pervert worship is sex. Let's go back to Genesis and put our marker on the dot of the Garden, and draw that line through to today and you'll see we will end up where we began.
In Genesis 3 satan tempted Eve. He told her that the fruit was good to make her wise. (Gen 3:5). She saw it was good and a delight. The word delight as used here in the Hebrew means 'exceedingly, greedily, lust(ing), pleasant.' She lusted. She didn't just say, "oh, look, a piece of fruit!" She'd seen it every day so far! Satan made her see it differently, through exceedingly greedy lustful eyes. Satan joined that lust of the eyes with the lust for wisdom and we have the beginning of his tactic to unite the lust of the eyes with the pride of wanting higher wisdom.
Let's advance that tactic of uniting the sexual and the divine, the erotic and the Gnostic, to Genesis 6:2, where "the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose." It means what it says, people. Unholy sexual union with heavenly beings.
Let's advance the scene to Exodus 32:6, the Golden Calf-
"And they rose up early the next day and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings. And the people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play."
What happens when you are congregated with all your friends and family, sit down to eat and drink, and rise up again to play? Clarke's commentary says of the word play
"And it appears they went much farther, for it is said they rose up to play, letsachek, a word of ominous import, which seems to imply here fornicating and adulterous intercourse; and in some countries the verb to play is still used precisely in this sense. In this sense the original is evidently used, Genesis 39:14."
Paul wrote of that scene, "Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, ‘The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.’ We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did." (1 Cor 10:6-8)."
It was an orgy, OK? The context indicates this very strongly. If they were worshiping an idol they were under satan's sway and under satan's sway with the additional accelerants of food and drink and dance, they went the extra mile and indulged sexually. It was another case of the union of the sexual and the divine.
Scenes of the Golden Calf revelry in ancient art. Note how often they are shown partially dressed-
|Adoration of the Golden Calf, Nicolas Poussin|
|Gerrit de Wet - The Adoration of the Golden Calf|
|Van Leyden Lucas - Dance of Jews around the Golden Calf|
Let's advance the scene again, to the times of the pagans until Jesus came. The ancient Greek historian Herodotus was the first to state that the ancient Mesopotamians practised temple prostitution. This is really tough on the heart to read:
"The foulest Babylonian custom is that which compels every woman of the land to sit in the temple of Aphrodite and have intercourse with some stranger once in her life. Many women who are rich and proud and disdain to mingle with the rest, drive to the temple in covered carriages drawn by teams, and stand there with a great retinue of attendants. But most sit down in the sacred plot of Aphrodite, with crowns of cord on their heads; there is a great multitude of women coming and going; passages marked by line run every way through the crowd, by which the men pass and make their choice. Once a woman has taken her place there, she does not go away to her home before some stranger has cast money into her lap, and had intercourse with her outside the temple; but while he casts the money, he must say, “I invite you in the name of Mylitta” (that is the Assyrian name for Aphrodite). It does not matter what sum the money is; the woman will never refuse, for that would be a sin, the money being by this act made sacred. So she follows the first man who casts it and rejects no one. After their intercourse, having discharged her sacred duty to the goddess, she goes away to her home; and thereafter there is no bribe however great that will get her. So then the women that are fair and tall are soon free to depart, but the uncomely have long to wait because they cannot fulfil the law; for some of them remain for three years, or four."
Temple prostitution was a practice in most cultures. Deuteronomy 23:17 forbids followers from indulging in temple prostitution.
"None of the daughters of Israel shall be a cult prostitute, and none of the sons of Israel shall be a cult prostitute."
|Khajuraho Group of Monuments|
Even after Jesus, the carnal/sensual remained as a part of worship in many cultures, even Catholicism. The sexual as worship was practiced by Catholic and other mystics in the Middle Ages. The late Middle Ages from 1300-1500 was the height of the Catholic Mystical period especially for women. These females, especially Teresa of Avila and Hildegard of Bingen, experienced and wrote about their personal, intimate, erotic, ecstatic and divine union with God through overtly erotic experiences when overcome with their 'visions'.
Other female mystics were, starting in the 1200s, Abbess Gertrude of Hackeborn, Mechthild of Hackeborn, Mechtild of Magdebourg, and Gertrude the Great. Their visions are largely based on the Song of Songs and filled with eroticism and the Body of Christ. As we approach the current age, we find Mark Driscoll setting off a firestorm with his graphic and heinous teaching of the Song of Solomon. It was so bad it earned a 4-part rebuke from John MacArthur. Did I not tell you that everything old is new again?
Julie B. Miller, writes, "Scholars of women's religious history and spirituality readily agree that medieval and early modern women mystics utilized the vocabulary and imagery of sexual love to describe their passionate and intense relationships with the divine."
In Ruth Evans' book "Medieval Virginities" we read that in much current scholarship the erotic language of women medieval mystics is not thought to be entirely allegorical. Rather, the religious experience of these women is often regarded as intrinsically erotic...
Jean Gerson, a medieval male mystic himself, noted this trend in 1415 and warned against it. But there is a clamor to accept mysticism today and all that comes with it, including the re-emergence of accepting a union of the sexual.
OK, you get the idea. So what does this globe trotting that have to do with today? Because that old notion of uniting the sexual with worship is ba-ack! BIG TIME. It is not in the pagan religions though and it is not in the Catholic religion. It is in traditional Christianity!
It started a few years ago in books with 'frank' explorations of sex within the confines of a one-man, one-woman Christian marriage. Lately Ann Voskamp explored the idea of sexual imagery with Jesus like this: "God makes love with grace upon grace, every moment a making of His love for us. [C]ouldn’t I make love to God, making every moment love for Him? To know Him the way Adam knew Eve. Spirit skin to spirit skin?”' The trend continued with certain sexually topical sermons in the emergent churches. It quickly descended to stunts, like this one from Ed Young with his 24-hour "bed-in" and "7 day sexperiment."
|Ed Young and his 24-hour bed in, sexperiment|
Mark Driscoll 'Obsessed With Sex,' Says Critic; Followers Ecstatic to See Pastor Go 'Mainstream'
"The popular and controversial book about sex and relationships penned by Seattle megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll has one critic claiming there is a new craze for "sex talk" in the church, while the pastor's followers seem excited that Mars Hill manages to promote a biblical approach to sex among secular audiences."
This downward trend continued with lesser-known pastors taking the Young and Driscoll stunts as permission to be even more "open" about sex in the pulpit. The sex focus became prevalent, palpable, and more disgusting. I'm talking over only the last 4 years. It has happened that fast.
It continued further, with Driscoll preaching the Song of Solomon is a salacious way. Elder of the faith John MacArthur publicly rebuked Driscoll in a 4-part essay called "The Rape of Solomon's Song." In the first essay he said, "Mark Driscoll has boldly led the parade down this carnal path."
He is more blunt in this essay about Driscoll's version of proper sermon topics and language here, in the essay called "Grunge Christianity."
"[I]t would certainly be accurate to describe both his vocabulary and his subject matter at times as tasteless, indecent, crude, and utterly inappropriate for a minister of Christ. In every message I listened to, at least once he veered into territory that ought to be clearly marked off limits for the pulpit. ... Apparently the shortest route to relevance in church ministry right now is for the pastor to talk about sex in garishly explicit terms during the Sunday morning service. If he can shock parishioners with crude words and sophomoric humor, so much the better. The defenders of this trend solemnly inform us that without such a strategy it is well-nigh impossible to connect with today’s “culture."
MacArthur is referring to a particular sermon Driscoll had preached in Scotland that was extremely sexually graphic, offensive, and tasteless. I won't even link to it.
So as this parade of carnality now permeates the pulpit, added to this is dance and me-oriented romantic lyrics in praise songs. Am I exaggerating the nearness of the return of temple prostitution? Methinks not.
Look at Passion Worship Band's lyrics to "Madly":
We are madly in love with youWE have righteousness to give to Jesus? NO!
We are madly in love with you
We are madly in love with you
We are madly in love with you
And all of my life and nothing less I give to you my righteousness...
Or these sensual lyrics:
You are my desire, no one else will do
‘Cause nothing else could take your place
To feel the warmth of your embrace
Kelly Carpenter - “Draw Me Close”
You call me child and I’ll call you Father
Kisses from heaven of joy and laughter
I want to lavish my love on you, Jesus.
David Harper – “I Want to Lavish”
Included in racy or romantic lyrics are breathless sexy singing arrangements. Todd Friel warned about this amorous phrasing and sexy singing delivery. Humorously but not so funny, there is a list of 6 lyrics from secular love songs and Christian praise songs. It is impossible to tell them apart. Add to that terrible turn of events, the widespread recent inclusion of dance and skits to 'praise and worship' music time during services...
Praise Dancing is now emerging as a 'ministry.' It is also called "body worship." You notice the unintended double meaning, I hope. Increasingly we see dance movement accompany contemporary music as part of the worship service.
Here is an example of a body worship praise dance called Total Body Worship Too... at a Baptist Bible fellowship.
During the dance, people got up and danced themselves, others rushed forward to capture the moment in film or video. The pastor was dancing along the side. As the dance went on, the dancers increased their tempo and simply gyrated and flung their arms all around with no obvious choreography. It is chaotic worship that focuses attention on the body and not Jesus Christ. Pardon me, but I see no ministry here.
"Praise dancing is a ministry," says 17-year-old Ariana Starks at a recent Saturday morning practice at St. James, where she shimmied her shoulders to vibrant gospel music. "Most young people go to church and find it boring. This is a way to attract people into the house of God who wouldn't normally want to come. ... "The Lord is using us through the art of dance to preach the word of God," says Debra Crenshaw, founder of the Fremont-based Christian dance company Dance For His Glory. "It can be entertaining, and people can get enjoyment from it, like the purpose of secular dance. But that's not our sole purpose." Dance as worship is an age-old custom that can be traced back to the ancient Israelites who danced during Jewish festivals and ceremonies. Sufi Muslims have also been connecting with the divine through inspirational dance for centuries, going back to the whirling dervishes. " (source).
Did you catch that? 'Connecting with the divine' through the body. A physical act. not a spiritual one of the mind and heart. Oy.
Contemporary music already has relinquished much of its mooring to biblical doctrine, and marrying the romantic Jesus boyfriend theme of contemporary music lyrics with bodily expressions of the divine love, on the pulpit or stage, is yet another example of the sexual carnal intrusion ready to burst on the scene in full force when the Spirit is taken out of the way. Challies speaks to praise dancing here.
Modern day cults always have a sexual component and ritualized sex. It is one way you can tell it is a cult!
Our globe has come full spin and where we started with satan in the Garden with wanting higher knowledge to be like God and lusting after the pleasurable fruit. (The lust of the eyes and the pride of life). We are that much closer to the golden calf dancing of Exodus and the pagan practices of ritualized sex at the pagan temple.
Hillsong Church dancing
|"The Worship of the Golden Calf" by Filippino Lippi (1457-1504)|
The Holy Spirit restrains sin. It is one of His ministries. Prior to the Flood judgment, God removed the Spirit (Genesis 6:3). He will do so again before the Tribulation judgment (2 Thessalonians 2:7). Can you imagine the flooding-in of the sexual when there is no restraint, if there is THIS much of the sexual is already present, even in evangelical churches?
Below is a still from a video of Elevation Church - Charlotte, NC Code Orange Christmas dance to advertise the Code Orange revivals in January at Elevation Church