Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Introduction (First Draft)

The first obvious question is: Do we really need another book on the subject of lust?

Jason and I were in a Christian Bookstore last week and of the two whole shelves devoted to "Men" (there were five times that many for "Women") I'd say that at least 50% of them were expressly on the subject of lust or some part of the issue, and another 25% had lust as a major topic. Jason and I have read many books, heard sermons, talks, been to seminars and conferences as well as discussed this subject until it is now truly a dead horse. If there was one subject we don't need one more person to wax eloquent on, it'd be this one.

But we're writing this book. Not because we want to bang out the same old ideas again as if you missed it the first few hundred times, but because we found something that shocked us. When we started writing the outline we looked at each other and said, "We've never heard anything like this."

I am very excited about this book because for the first time in my life I feel like I can finally, realistically be free from lust. I've had enough of the many things that claim to have "the answer" to lust. I don't buy it anymore. So, we're not offering you the answer, but rather a challenge to discover what is really going on, and what you can do about it. So, no, this isn't a book about "the answer" to lust, but rather a radical new way of thinking.

This new way of thinking is best expressed in the following, based on a true story:

I attended a Senior Prom with a girl from Youth Group at her school. Since I can't dance, didn't pay for her, and constantly repeated that girls are the devil, the plain and simple fact of the matter is that girls went with me simply because there was no one else. Well, Homecoming was because the girl's parents wouldn't let her go with her current boyfriend, but that's another story....

After the dance, we went "hot tubbing" with the group of people we'd been with since primping and pictures. One of the girls had caught my eye from the moment I saw her. She was gorgeous, a Pastor's Kid, and had a sexy silver dress and boyfriend who pawed her all night. I was very interested in what she was going to "slip into" for the hot tub, and was proved right. The gray string bikini was stunning, and this only served to inspire her buffoon of a boyfriend.

The thoughts that went through my head went something like this:

'Oh, wow! That is so sexy!'
'No, don't look. Bad, Luke. Don't look at that, you sinner.'
'I can't believe her dad, as a pastor, would let her wear such a skanky thing. Doesn't she know what this does to guys? And look at her boyfriend fondling her. I bet they sleep together, those sinners.'
'Luke, stop drifting your eyes over to her. You know what you're doing, you scumbag.'

It was both the "best of times and the worst of times" [A Tale of Two Cities] for me. There she was, this bombshell beauty in the sexiest thing possible, and it was causing me to stumble, fall, crash and burn. And all I wanted to do was stare and drool. But, no, I had to be holy. I was horrified at her actions, and disgusted by my own lust. I was furious at her, her dad, or whoever was responsible for this outrage. And I was obsessed with trying to get as many peeks at her fabulous body as I could. In short, I was miserable, sinful, and selfish. To my recollection, I don't think I said anything to my "date" or even looked at her once that whole time. Ah, High School: the glory days.

That was my response, as a good Christian young man with a high priority on holiness and a lifetime of Awana, Church and Youth Group. But what about Christ, the guy I'm trying to become more like? What would He have done? How would His night have gone?

I imagine that Jesus would have been in a group as well, at least the twelve disciples and their dates. And while I doubt Jesus would have gone with a "date" of his own, I'm certain that at least two or three girls would be hanging around, at least Mary Magdalene [Matthew 26:7, 27:55-56, Luke 7:36-50]. So, we're looking at a group of at least 26. But Jesus was super popular with the partying masses in His day, so I wouldn't be surprised if there was a major after-party at His mom's house [Luke 7:34].

At the party, Jesus would be having a blast. There'd probably be around 180 gallons of wine coolers [John 2:6-10] that were once water and people milling about like crazy. It would be a good thing that Jesus' dad was a good carpenter because they'd need a lot of sturdy seats and stools for everyone.

And then the girl would walk by, boyfriend draped over her like the article of clothing she should be wearing instead of the bikini. Considering the stories we have of Jesus' interaction with women in the Bible, I think we know exactly what He would do.

Well, first off, He'd notice her. Every interaction Jesus has with "sinful" women in the Bible, be it the woman caught in adultery [John 8:3-11] or the woman at the well [John 4], Jesus talks with the girl on a very personal level. So, Jesus would likely, over the course of the evening, make His way over to Bikini Girl to have a conversation with her. And He'd have noticed her body, probably mostly because of what she was wearing. Jesus didn't have spiritual censor bars on His eyes. We know that He was hit with everything we are, but was without sin [Hebrews 4:15]. So, there's Jesus chatting with Bikini Girl and her boyfriend. Bikini Girl would not suddenly feel the need to go "cover up", nor would she tell Jesus to "get lost". Rather, they'd have a great conversation, laugh a bit, He'd say something so profound that she would pause and tell Him He was right, and she'd leave the party that night changed, but still in her bikini. Jesus would have said something or asked a question that got right to the heart of whatever issues she had, and her bikini was not one of her issues.

As Jesus was grabbing another wine cooler after his dip in the hot tub, I'd be hanging by the door with my Pharisee friends muttering about, "Why was He over there messing around with that slut?" Jesus would probably mosey over and say something like, "Why are you guys accusing me of thinking bad things when you didn't even realize that Michelle is scared about her Finals and her grandmother's illness? Yeah, her boobs are nice, but why are you guys focusing on those when she's got all this other stuff beating her down?"

Would Jesus really have used the word "boobs"? Well, no, but that's because He spoke Aramaic at parties. I'm not sure what He would have said exactly, but it would have sounded just as scandalous to the good Jewish young men with a high priority on holiness at the party. It's interesting to me that all the "holy" people show up at functions like these in the Bible too. What are they doing there?

We're pretty sure it's because they were intrigued by what He was doing, but probably a bit put off by His unorthodox methods that still yielded the highest levels of Godliness. There's a tendency to put these guys down for always trying to trap Jesus, but I wouldn't be surprised if they were also trying to figure out what was going on. In the end, we hope that this book helps you work through what's really going on, both in your mind and actions. Too much guilt and confusion surrounds these issues to allow guys to talk about them. We're sick of it, and we want to get to what Jason calls "new levels of honesty". I love that. We ask that you join us as we try to go "further up and farther in" [The Last Battle].

And so we begin...

Welcome to the If Jesus Went Hot Tubbing Project Blog.

This blog is managed by Luke Holzmann and Jason Ackerman

First, a bit of history: Luke and I (Jason) met in college and our similar experiences and ideologies in a number of areas drew us together. The subject of dating systems was one major area (though we won't get into that here) and another was our common struggle with Lust. This prompted many (usually late night) discussions on what lust was, how to deal with it, and how to treat girls in uplifting ways generally. And honestly we never seemed to figure it out. The "solutions" we heard in church or chapel or books didn't work for long, and after awhile we just kinda shelved the subject while we waited for a better idea to come along.

Now fast forward a couple years. Luke graduated and married, and I left school to go work at a Christian youth camp. In November '06 when my Dad passed away, Luke got on a plane instantly to come be with me for awhile. I picked Luke up at the airport, and drove up to Camp to get more pictures for a memorial slide show we were putting together. So it was a short roadtrip of sorts, and gave us between 8-10 hours riding in my truck to talk and catch up. During that time we discussed where our current thoughts on lust had gone in the last couple years, and Luke had some fascinating new ideas. As we drove through the deep forest roads and bounced these ideas around, a larger and more encompassing philosophy/worldview on the subject developed. We had significant progress on the questions of What is Lust? What is Beauty? How did the Fall change Beauty in the human form? Why hasn't the Church's approach to Lust worked? And at one point, while working out this new approach, we realized "We've never heard anything like this!" So we started the outline that became the foundation for a new book that we are coauthoring.

This blog is dedicated to giving you, our friends and readers, a glimpse into the development of our ideas as we write the book currently known as If Jesus Went Hot Tubbing. Major project updates and segments of the book in-progress will be posted here. You are also welcome to join our Google Group forum to discuss the book and its related topics. If you totally agree with us or think we're absolutely off our rockers, please come tell us! Feedback and discussion are what the forums are all about.

Luke and I are both very excited. We don't know where this will end up going but we feel these ideas are important and need to be heard. Thanks for your interest in our project, we'd be very interested in your comments.