But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. - Galatians 5:16-21 ESV
In light of what was just stated in those verses, take a look at this excerpt from this recent Times Online article about a Protestant Church that has "Erotic" worship services. Remember, the word erotic is their word, not mine:
Yes, this really is a picture from a recent liturgy celebrated at a Protestant church in Cologne...
'A female dancer dances in a skin coloured stocking in the middle of the church in front of the altar. She crawls about on the floor and wraps herself in a hanging down white cloth. Is this a blasphemous provocation, a scoffing at the Christian religion?
'No it is only one of the items on the agenda of the Protestant Church Assembly. The six-hundred-year-old church, the Church of the Carthusians in the south of Cologne has become the stage for an erotic church service. Nearly one thousand interested people waited outside the door of the former monastery, despite a thunderstorm- but in the end there was only room for four hundred people.
'For those who managed to get in, they had to take off their shoes on a white painted church interior. Above the entrance, there was the caption, “a warm welcome to the Vineyard of Love”. The space between the benches had been overlaid with velvet and from the ceiling wine and rose leaves were strewn onto the spectators. A man came to the microphone and announced, This is an erotic church service, can you move a bit closer together, all of you. This was followed by saxophone music and dance.
'The vicar arrived in a black cassock and barefoot. He announced that eroticism and lust are not taboo areas pushed aside by God. In fact, "lust has to be lived out", said Armin Beuscher, who tempered his speech immediately, by saying, “we are of course today in this service only able to implement this in a limited manner”.
'He talks about his family doctor who once surprised him with the question, “Do you pray with your wife regularly and do you make love regularly?” He was at first embarrassed and later became conscious of the deep meaning in this question, that both spirituality and eroticism are nourished by repetition. It is therefore certainly part of life which has been shown in the TV series “O God, Vicar” when he immediately after sleeping with a woman then went to a funeral. The speech at the grave, immediately thereafter came under the motto of the Church Assembly, “Lively, Powerful and more Spicy”. Beuscher’s conclusion was therefore “ perhaps we clergy should go more often to bed with our loved ones.”
'The faithful were then asked to take part in an anointing ritual in which they should massage the forehead and hands of the person sitting next to them. Some go further and embrace each other whilst others kiss. The atmosphere gets more relaxed. This is how most church services should be said Birgit Kruger (59 years old) from near Hamburg and the Bavarian Gertrude Schirmer (72 years old) said “I found the anointment most beautiful”. Then they all said an Our Father together and then Vicar Beuscher admonishes the parish with the words “praise God with your body, your lust and tenderness”. Judging by the enthusiastic applause, the audience fully intend to do this.'
'Lust has to be lived out'. Wow. Now that has to be a statement for the ages coming from a so-called minister of the Gospel. I stated late last night (or earlier this morning--depending on how you look at it) that I thought that the whole Clown Church business was one of the most bizarre things that I thought I had ever witnessed in a Church. Well, less than twenty-four hours later--way less, in fact--I stand corrected. But, this only follows a logical progression. If you can do 'clown church', why not 'strip church'? Just because this happened on the other side of the globe doesn't excuse the church in the West of turning a blind eye to lust within our congregations. We are culpable in many other ways. Here's one recent example:
But I digress from my main point...
Regardless of the location, the Church is to keep herself pure--to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. How are we to preserve and light the way when we have lost our saltiness and hide our light in darkness? Putting the desires of the flesh to death is hard enough without having it thrust upon you in a Sunday morning sermon. We must come to understand that everything is not permissible just because it takes place in a building that we call a "church"; nor does it become any more permissible if we say that we are doing it under the auspices of "love". Everything that we do must be done under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Even things of a sensual nature must fall under this category. There is a place for our desires for the opposite sex, but it has to be done in a proper manner and to the glory of God. Color me pessimistic (as one of my friends just did), but I don't think that mock stripteases are the way to go. Sex and sensuality are gifts from God for our enjoyment. However, when this is forgotten, they become nothing more than idols to be worshipped--and the "goodness" is ruined. All we are left with is a twisted, perverted counterfeit of the real thing. In this clip from the Desiring God conference, Sex and the Supremacy of Christ, Ben Patterson gives some insight on this topic:
Soli Deo Gloria,