Great book… here’s my review / reaction

Marnie Ferree’s (2010) story is honest. No Stones is real and powerful to any reader, but Marnie’s book is written specifically to women coming out of or struggling with sexual addictions themselves. This becomes clear on nearly every page as Marnie relates, responds, and shows genuine concern for her hurting readers. No Stones is divided into three main parts, addressing first the problem of sexual addiction, second the root of sexual addiction and finally, the solution to the problem of sexual addiction. This is my review, reaction, and ponderings about the book No Stones and how sexual addiction has been and should be handled by the church.
It should be noted from the start that Marnie Ferree’s story is a story that began with sexual molestation when she was a minor (Ferree, 2010, p. 19). I do not think that Ferree’s molestation as a child negatively impacts the book in any way, but I did think it is worth mentioning.

The Problem of Sexual Addiction


There are too many problems with sexual addiction to cover in one book but Ferree covers many of them. Problems range from secrecy, loneliness, shame, disease, sin, neurological difficulties, and even cultural messages. Ferree addresses each of these in some detail and more.

Secrecy and Loneliness
Sexual sin is typically by nature and nearly by necessity a secret sin (Ferree, 2010, p. 29). The problem of keeping sin secret cannot be overestimated. Proverbs 28:13 in the New American Standard Bible (NASB) says, “He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion” (NASB). The writings of Solomon in Proverbs seem to me to have really stood the test of time and the words within Proverbs seem to be pretty reliable. There are plenty of logical reasons that hiding things inhibits a person from prosperity, including the simple but overwhelming fear of getting caught. The constant fear of getting caught or found out as some may say, clouds everything else in the life of any person with a secret.
Secrecy and loneliness go hand in hand. When someone hides a secret from someone who should be his or her closest companion, like a spouse, then loneliness is a natural result. Loneliness breeds secrecy and secrecy results in more loneliness. The problem is cyclical.
Shame
Ferree mentions, “When you think of King David, the sin of adultery usually comes to mind before his sin of murder” (2010, p. 29). Historically this has been true in my mind. I am sure that up until a few years ago I would think of David’s sin with Bathsheba before I thought of his murder of Uriah. That changed for me when I began to think about how oddly I had been taught about sexual sin, military support, and the message of Jesus. As I began to believe that God was essentially non-violent and that Jesus had come to show us that God was not mad at us I began to realize that I had learned to look at many things backward.
Do not misunderstand me; I am thankful and respectful of those who have served in the military. I am thankful because they were willing to do what they believed was right. I am respectful because I want to be respectful of every human being, but I do not believe that I could with good conscious serve in any military action where the taking of life was seen as necessary. I know that I would not be happy in least bit if any of my children choose to enter the military. During and through this journey into non-violence for myself, I have thought quite often about why we overlook David’s sin of murder and focus on his sin of adultery. The answer seems clear to both Marnie and I. Our Christian culture sees sexual sin as one of the most, if not the most horrendous and shameful of sins. I grew up during the True Love Waits era. During this era one of the major benchmarks of Christianity among teens was the ability to remain a virgin. It is my prayer that my children will be both virgins and nonviolent followers of Jesus Christ on their wedding day.
Sin and Disease
Ferree wrote, “If they would only try harder and be more intentional in their Bible study and prayers, they wouldn’t sin sexually. These beliefs are inaccurate and only compound an addict’s shame” (2010, p. 31). Ferree goes on to explain that sexual addiction is both a sin and a disease. Sexual addiction is extremely difficult to overcome, in fact many people who suffer from both chemical addiction and sexual addiction report that the sexual addiction is more difficult to overcome (Ferree, 2010, p.53).
I agree with Ferree that sexual addiction is both sin and disease. Proper treatment for a Christian sex addict must include both grace for sin and treatment for disease.

Neurochemistry
While a non-addict may not see the neurochemistry of the brain as a problem, I certainly do see it as a challenge at least if not a problem in addition. Understanding that oxytocin is released into the brain when skin to skin contact occurs is quite interesting (Ferree, 2010, p. 51). Beyond that, the intense ecstasy that is felt during sexual activity involves the release of opiate-like substances called catecholmines. This simple information makes it clear to me that sexual addiction is very much like chemical addiction but the chemical that is entering the system is from within and totally natural. Ferree mentions that, “Researchers have proven what addicts have known for a long time: that sexual activity can provide a high equal to crack cocaine” (Ferree, 2010, p.51).
The problems of sexual addiction are plenteous. From the secret nature of sexual addiction to the neurochemistry of sexual addiction the problems are many, real, and extremely powerful. Understanding the problems and learning about the roots of the addiction may be extremely important as a person approaches the place of cure, healing, and recovery.

 

Family Dynamics and the Root of Sexual Addiction

Ezekiel chapter 18 verse 20 says, “The person who sins will die. The son will not bear the punishment for the father’s iniquity, nor will the father bear the punishment for the son’s iniquity; the righteousness of the righteous will be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon himself” (NASB). Ferree chose a different passage to open up her section about the roots of sexual addiction. Ferree quoted from Deuteronomy chapter 5. I think this reveals that Ferree and I look at the bible differently. Where she sees the bible as the infallible and inerrant words of God, I see the bible as the inspired by God words of man. This leads Ferree to imply that sexual addiction is not a choice for some, but rather a judgment, curse, or inheritance passed on from a previous generation (2010, p.100). Despite our disagreement on this fundamental view of scripture, I believe that our reaction, treatment, and response to sexual sin and addiction are very much the same. For example I totally agree with Ferree when she says, “In simple terms, unhealthy families are the breeding ground for later unhealthy, unholy behavior, including addiction” (2010, p.104).
Mind Rape
One form of emotional abuse which specifically caught my attention was mind rape. I was familiar with many forms of emotional abuse and I have ministered to families where emotional incest was taking place but I have never been exposed to the term “mind rape” until reading No Stones (Ferree, 2010, p.125). I have seen this over and over in highly religious homes. The parents nearly force beliefs on the children and more often than not the child at least for a season appears to have bought in to whatever theological system they were force fed. The problem though involves the fact that the child never had the opportunity to think, discuss and consider his or her personal thoughts before being told what they were not allowed to even consider. One might argue that it is impossible to hinder thought, but thought that is not given a platform for discussion can really hinder true growth. Ferree’s quotes, “You shouldn’t think that way. That’s crazy.” perfectly illustrate the problem of mind rape (2010, p.125).

 

Addicts Core Beliefs
In No Stones, Ferree mentions four core beliefs of all addicts. “I am a bad, unworthy person.” “No one would love me as I am.” “No one will meet my needs.” and “Sex or a relationship is my most important need.” (2010, pp. 147-149). The first of these four core beliefs is the one that bothers me most. As a child and young adult, I was part of a Calvinist influenced church family. While my congregation never seemed to talk about the ideas of Calvinism directly the ideas were subtly taught and oozed out of nearly everything that we learned about. Total Depravity was probably the most heavily supported piece of the puzzle. The theology of total depravity teaches that everyone is bad, unworthy and desperate to the point of completely spiritually dead without Christ.
The truth is that God sees you and me all as worth His love. Lest anyone get overly pumped and even arrogant, we are not worth His love because of anything that we do or did but rather we are worth His love because we were made in His image. We are worthy not based on our behavior but based on His breath that was breathed in us upon our physical birth.
Family roots are real and our parents, grandparents and especially our environment do each play a role in our life, but those things do not automatically determine our future, or our behavior. We determine our own future, and by leaning on Christ we can do and accomplish anything that He wants us to.

 

Treatment of Sexual Addiction


Once again, Ferree and I disagree on an interpretation of scripture but agree on the application. Ferree seems to imply that she believes that the waters were magical in John 5. The addition of verse four in John 5 is the origination of that idea. Don’t get me wrong, I do not doubt for a minute that there were people who believed that getting in the water at a certain time would heal them, but I do not believe that those beliefs were founded in truth. The story just does not sound like the one true God. If the story was true, think about it for a moment. The one person who was the fastest and could get into the water the quickest was to be the one that was healed. Logic tells anyone who is willing to think and has not been “mind raped” that the one who could get in the water first was the one who least needed healing. I do believe that Jesus healed a man there, but I do not believe that either Jesus or the original author of John’s gospel actually believed that the waters were magical and worked the way the added verse four implies.
Now despite the disagreement about the text, Marnie Ferree and I do agree on her application. There is no doubt that the first step to overcoming addiction is the desire to get better (2010, p. 161).

 

Sexaholics Anonymous
I love and support Narcotics Anonymous on a regular basis, and I believe in the system. But there are two specific parts that I do not fully embrace and would like to change. First of all, I do not believe that we are powerless over any addiction. I am not a member of any anonymous support group, I have never struggled with alcohol or drugs but I have struggled mightily with sex and food. But I am not powerless over these two addictions. Because I am a creation of God and He has overcome, I believe that we are powerful and able to control ourselves. I think we would be better to recognize that we need help to overcome, but we specifically need the help because we have trouble believing that we can overcome without the help. I recognize that may sound circular and counterproductive, so I should elaborate.
I believe that God is the ultimate source of all life, healing, redemption, grace, and love. If I simultaneously hold that belief and hold the belief that we are powerless over our addictions, then I in turn have to believe that there are powers out there that can help people aside from the power of God because we see non-believers getting free from addictions through twelve step programs. In Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and the other programs that share the AA brand, the “higher power” can be anything. Since I believe God is the ultimate source of all healing, then it stands to reason to me that He is ultimately the source regardless of what someone leans on for their support. Jesus said over and over that the key is faith. When someone begins to believe that they can stop the addictive behavior, that belief then lends the necessary strength to the one believing. God may or may not get the credit on earth despite the fact that He deserves it. I simply believe that God created the Universe in such a way that belief is powerful.
I appreciate all of the tools of recovery listed in chapter fifteen of No Stones (2010). Daily prayer is important, but being legalistic about it seems to me to steal the value from prayer. I appreciate the phrase “conscious contact with God” over “pray daily” (2010, p.198-199). Attending twelve step meetings, working the steps, and using the chip system has clearly proven to be valuable many, but I think the key is not in the program as much as the keys happen to be found in the programs. I would recommend twelve step programs, not for the materials or the steps but rather for the people, who can help, understand, support, and lead you toward helping, understanding, and supporting others. The importance of the steps 10-12 of the twelve step program cannot be overstated (Ferree, 2010, p.201). Accountability is important, but I typically find that it quickly dissolves and does little to zero good if the relationship is merely built on or around accountability. Real accountability is done best in real relationship, genuine friendship.

 

Sexual Addiction and the Church

Churches have got to become real places of healing, and open places where anything can be discussed. I could not agree more with Ferree about how churches must refuse to “shoot their wounded” (2010, p. 249). Ferree’s minister is also right on track when he speaks of silence as the great sin of the church (2012, p. 249). Providing resources like this book, hosting groups like Sexaholics Anonymous, and bringing in speakers like Marie Ferree or Mark Laaser would be great places for churches to start.

Conclusions

No Stones is not only a great read for female sexual addicts, but it is an interesting and informative read for anyone interested in better understanding addiction in general and female sexual addiction in general. I cannot state enough how much I enjoyed and appreciate this book. One final thought that I believe is worth pointing out, many women who appear to suffer from sex addiction do not actually suffer from and addiction to sex but rather from an addiction to love, relationship, approval, romance, etc. These addictions lead toward what appears to be sexual addiction because women often trade sex for their real “drug” of choice which is love. I sincerely believe the majority of all problems on planet earth can be solved by sharing and believing the real good news. The real good news is God is not mad, He is love. 1 John 1:5 says, “And this is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is light, and in Him there is no darkness at all” (NASB). 1 John 4:7-8 says, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (NASB).

Jesus and the Undoing of Adam – by C. Baxter Kruger

I have a slightly unique way of reading and reviewing a book.  I underline and mark a book up pretty good, but I always write little notes in the front of non-fiction books with the page number so I can quickly find good quotes and ideas later when I need them. This blog may serve to help you find some good nuggets in C. Baxter Kruger’s Jesus and the Undoing of Adam.

I loved the book, Kruger’s theology is right on. Anyone would be helped to read and think about Kruger’s writing.

My bullet notes for your review or reference… (keep in mind that sometimes the thoughts I bullet below are my thoughts, other times they are straight from the book, and sometimes they are a combination, also just because I make a bullet about it, doesn’t mean that agree with it – but often or usually I do)

  • Kruger was taught Calvinism as a child – p. 8
  • Incarnation is the biggest news of all – p. 9
  • There’s a word about marriage that I thought was worth thinking on – p. 11   ( a key to marriage is revising our perception of one another )
  • “If we are going to penetrate the mysteries of our world, then our perception of it must be in constant revision.”    p. 11
  • Repent means “change thinking” p. 11
  • “In science, the price of imposing our own ideas onto reality is the loss of discovery, with all its immense rewards. In Christian Faith, it is the loss of the knowledge of Jesus Christ. Forcing our own ideas upon Jesus is a singular disaster, for it is only in knowing the staggering truth about Jesus – who He is and what He has done for and with and to the human race – that we are set free from the bondage of our profound and debilitating anxiety into the freedom to live.” p.12
  • New thoughts on the Pearl of Great Price p.13
  • We must be aware of our thought patterns or habits of thought p.13
  • Why Jesus died – “What happened on the cross? Why did Jesus die? How do we understand the meaning of His death? The death of Jesus Christ was part of a seamless movement in which the Triune God laid hold of the human race and decisively and sovereignty altered its very existence, cleansing it of all alienation, quickening it with new life and lifting it up into union with the Father, Son, and Spirit. It is finished.” p. 16
  • THIS ISN’T REALLY A COMPLAINT BUT KRUGER DOES REPEAT HIMSELF QUITE A BIT IN THIS BOOK SO YOU SHOULD READ THE WHOLE BOOK TO FULLY UNDERSTAND WHY JESUS DIED BECAUSE KRUGER IS ADDRESSING THAT QUESTION ON MANY PAGES, BUT I DIDN’T NOTE IT OVER AND OVER
  • I thought about the deification of man on page 17
  • When Christianity says God it says relationship – p. 18
  • Human race – included in the trinity (invited, welcomed, drawn) p.20
  • Atonement theory – starts with diseased p. 21
  • Curative view of the cross p.22
  • Fall wasn’t eating fruit – rather loosing faith in relationship or trust in God (It seems that God has been showing me something along these lines lately – In a chat with Michael Hardin I learned that sin is mentioned in the bible until the Cain kills Abel story and not in the Adam and Eve fall narrative) p.24
  • The Fall – damaged fellowship – p.25
  • Fellowship filled their existence with the Great Dance of life p. 25
  • We are still hiding from God – like in the garden – p.26
  • fall changed the way “the man” saw God – Adam (the man) = all men p.27
  • This explains the OT – p. 27
  • God is opposed to our destruction p. 28
  • trinitarian fellowship (this is a key concept – you might say theme of Baxter’s theology) p. 32
  • Incarnation was dangerous…?  never thought about it the way Baxter puts it here.  p. 33-34
  • We are at war – strange war – not won they way we imagine wars are won p. 34
  • The cross freed Jesus of His Adamic flesh – Kruger uses the word circumcised in this context I believe – p. 35
  • God’s the Father’s NO! was no I will not allow man to be destroyed
  • Jesus’ Yes was yes, I’ll redeem mankind
  • The final word p.36
  • Jesus is still man today… p. 36
  • therefore all died in Christ p. 37
  • David versus Goliath is compared to Jesus versus Adam p. 38
  • Cross Answer p.40
  • Trinity – the truth about God p. 41
  • Why many don’t get what I’m saying (the natural mind cannot receive the the things of the Spirit – 1 Cor 2:14) p.41
  • Law thoughts… p.44
  • typical evangelical gospel starts with proclaiming the legal holiness of God p. 45
  • also on page 45 Kruger basically defines Penal Substitutionary Atonement (PSA) p. 45
  • The cross changed man – not God or just God’s view of man p. 46
  • PSA = Janus faced God p.47
  • Athanasius quote contrasted with Johnathon Edwards quote p.49
  • The Jesus Lens idea shows up on p.51 (it seems all of the books that I love have this idea in common – we need to see the bible through the lens Jesus and not Jesus through the lens of the bible.  p. 51
  • Assurance of Salvation is impossible as long as a person thinks in the PSA mindset p. 51
  • Modern evangelical thinking with PSA has the church hiding from God the Father behind Jesus’ blood p. 51
  • I bet self help book authors sell more to “Christians” or “marginal religious people” than to non-religious people      p. 53
  • Great explanation of what I believe about Jesus “My God, My God…” line on the cross pp. 58-62
  • Great St. Hilary quote about talking about and studying God “to deal with lawful matters, to scale perilous heights, to speak unutterable words, and to trespass forbidden ground,” p. 63
  • Moral Influence Theory?  Kruger may see some merit in the Moral Influence Theory of the Atonement, I certainly do… p. 69

Well there are my notes.

I hope this blog causes you to run out and buy a copy of Kruger’s book!

Rob Bell’s – WHAT WE TALK ABOUT WHEN WE TALK ABOUT GOD – My Review

Well I’ve done it again, I’ve read a book that will get me rejected, hated, or judged by “Christians.” I don’t know how to explain the level of irony that is involved in that statement. If you consider yourself a “Christian” and you don’t see irony in the previous statement, I’d encourage you to back up and reconsider what being a Christ follower means… Here’s a hint, instead of rejection, hate, and judgment… try acceptance, love, and grace.

Now on to the review.

I want to say things like I read Bell to see what he is thinking, but I don’t agree with everything he says.

Or

this book makes some great points but Bell is a bit too out there for me.

See it seems that I’m tempted to do something to KRISIS (Greek word that means to separate) Bell from myself, because I’m afraid of being labeled or rejected like he is but instead… I’M MAKING AN INTENTIONAL DECISION TO DO JUST THE OPPOSITE!

LUMP ME IN WITH ANYONE YOU WANT.

I WANT TO BE UNIFIED WITH PEOPLE…

I BELIEVE THE MESSAGE OF JESUS CHRIST IS A MESSAGE OF UNITY.

ROB BELL AND I ARE ON THE SAME TEAM!

Heck, label me as a univeralist if that makes you feel safer.  I’m not…

…but if labels make you more comfortable – label me!

That brings me to my first thought in this review. On page 154 – 155 Bell mentions being at a peace conference where the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Tutu were speaking. I think Bell was sharing the stage with these guys. Back when that happened I wanted to talk to Bell and ask him, “Rob, why don’t you put a bit of seperation between yourself and these guys? Why don’t you say, these guys have the wrong message?” Today, I don’t ask that question and I’m trying not to be the guy who keeps revealing that KRISIS, that happens in my mind. I believe that the KRISIS is bad for me. I believe that a position of unity is right. I know you are about to stone me, but I have to trust my LORD Jesus Christ and do as I feel He leads. Of course I still believe He is the only way, but my belief can’t cause me to treat other human beings as less than myself.  When Jesus said that He was the way, the truth, and the life and that no one comes to the Father but through Him, I’m pretty sure He didn’t intend that to be a statement we used to judge, discount, and ignore others.

Anyway, on page 155 Bell mentions that the peace conference was being protested.  He asked who was protesting, and of course it was a group of “Christians.” Christians protesting peace, that’s irony.

I can’t properly review this book; I believe it was good; I don’t even want to loan it out because I think I’ll be using it for reference points; Instead of a proper review, I’m going to bullet point my notes from the front inside cover and following 3 pages. Below is a pic to show you how I read a book. I read and jot notes and page numbers in the front of things I want to be able to quickly access again later.  Hopefully my many notes will stimulate your thirst for this book… if it does, but a copy.  If it doesn’t that’s ok too, I enjoyed it.

Way I take notes on a book

My front of book notes, kind of like my homemade table of contents:

  • Weight of the nucleus of an atom – p. 33
  • Space travel or Quantum leaps, reminds me of Phillip’s plain air ride after leaving the Ethiopian Eunuch p. 36
  • The universe is small p. 43
  • Matter and Spirit… one, same, similar, indistinguishable…?  – p. 45
  • Bell seems to indicate that he isn’t a Gen. 1-11 is literal guy… I’m comfortable with someone thinking that way, but I’m not sure  p. 60
  • GRENZBEGRIFFLICH – German word that describes that which is very real but beyond analysis and description  p. 63
  • I think therefore I am p. 67
  • I’m planning to quote something from page 67 in the book I’m writing
  • My thought…. wouldn’t there be more bones if older earth were true?  p. 70  (maybe not, I’m still open to literal or mythological interpretations of Gen. 1-11)
  • “Science does an excellent job of telling me why I don’t have a tail, but it can’t explain why I find that interesting.”  p. 75
  • Everything is spiritual p. 76
  • Summary of Chapter two p. 77-78
  • It’s all miraculous (even breathing is miraculous) my thought: When we pray for God’s presence to show up it is basically saying falsely that we believe our current actions like breathing, seeing, thinking, praying, are possible without His presence.  I don’t pray for God to show up, He is here.  Instead I pray that my eyes and ears will be more open and attuned to His current real presence…. p. 79
  • Real Faith is Open Minded p. 80
  • Women worked in the fields first?  p. 88   (I went to the end notes hoping to find a reference for this and I found it… Ken Wiber’s History of Everything
  • Faith & Doubt are good dance partners p. 92
  • Conviction & humility are also good dance partners p. 93
  • Just typing these notes is wearing me out… must be a pretty good book  (I wonder if Bell would do an interview podcast with me… ?? he can only say no)
  • Again more like above… we don’t pray for God’s presence we recognize it – it is already here p. 98-99
  • Great illustration of us not seeing – Share this with Bill Carrier p. 100
  • Something more p. 103
  • RAUCH – Hebrew idea for breath, spirit
  • KAVOD – explained on 113 – great illustration about guy with bald head  (means that something is bigger and more meaningful than you can express in words) p.112
  • ECHAD – “ONE” when the Hebrews said that the Lord is one, the word one meant “one made up of many parts” p. 117
  • fragmentation p.118
  • telos p. 121
  • Bell begins to express the gospel p. 125-126 and 133
  • AA meeting – I experienced the same thing when I went with my biological father to a NA meeting p. 138
  • Water skiing illustration p. 132
  • Admitting our need (sin) p. 138
  • Prayer – why do people who don’t pray, pray when they are terrified? p. 139-140
  • Album illustration goes along with my New Frequency illustration p. 149
  • Enemy love p. 150
  • Bell is against sin… imagine that! – p. 151
  • Bell says eye 4 an eye was a step forward… p. 159  (I like this idea better than most, but I’d also argue that the eye for an eye idea was anthropological, meaning that it was more what they heard and understood than what God actually said)
  • Quoting the bible for the opposite of its true message example p. 161 (Bell illustrates this, doen’t do it)
  • Bell believes that we’ve still got a way to grow in the fair treatment of women… he mentions the restaurant Hooter’s in a negative way.  I get it, he didn’t call for a boycott, but he spoke truth anyway.  I like that.  p. 164
  • Abraham’s tribe was different p. 167
  • Israel – the one who struggles with God p. 167
  • USA’s weapon military problem (6% of world population 49% of world’s weapons – only people to ever use Nukes – those are facts whether you worship America or not… my words not Bell’s) p. 171
  • Ground Holy all the time, Abraham just took his shoes off when he realized it.  p. 182 – 183
  • Shadow management – I think that is a great explanation of much of religious Christianity p. 194
  • SPLAGCHONON – bowels / guts “I feel it in my SPLAGCHONON (guts).  p. 196
  • 6th sense… cellular level p. 198  (reference to first chapter stuff)
  • Motor Neurons – p. 200
  • Energy is liberated matter, and matter is locked-up energy – Einstein p. 202

Ok there are my notes… if anything there peeked your curiosity – go buy Rob Bell’s – WHAT WE TALK ABOUT WHEN WE TALK ABOUT GOD.

PS… final thought – the book didn’t really discuss homosexuality at all.  The promo video I’m sure caused people to be prepared for some sort of theological discussion about homosexuality.  I expected that.  That however isn’t in this book, and I think Bell was very wise to leave that subject alone… I will too.