I hate watching movies twice. Very few movies make the cut of “films worth seeing twice” much less on a regular basis in my mind.
That being said, I love 500 Days of Summer. I’ve watched it numerous times, and each time, it becomes a little more thought provoking.
Summer is one of those movies that people love-to-love or hate-to-hate. Some enjoy its factual “reality” while hopeless romantics hate the fact that good ol’ Tom doesn’t get (spoiler…3 years later…) to marry Summer.
After watching the end of the movie, I thought I would write a really quick blurb on 5 Things I Learned from 500 Days of Summer. I’ll try to hold back the theological rhetoric, but I will of course look at it through a Gospel-lens, because as always, it’s all about Jesus.
1. “Look up.” – Tom.
Tom advises Summer to look up when they are traversing through downtown Los Angeles – something many city slickers forget to do. What she sees is breath taking architecture, a blend of cultures, and blue sky (must have rained the day before. #smog).
In terms of relationships, sometimes we get lost in our current situation. For those of you dating someone who has some issues and needs a lot of redemption through Christ, look up.
Dr. Muehlhoff, a communications professor at Biola University, once said that he hates to hear people say that they are sticking with their current significant other “because God has called me to love them no matter what.” Dr. Muehlhoff’s response? “NO! You aren’t called to love your boyfriend or girlfriend unconditionally, that’s saved for your spouse.”
Remember. Break ups are hard, but they are okay. Jesus redeems bad situations, and if you or the other (or both) need some time in counseling and mentorship before you date, that’s okay. Look up – there are better things if we follow God’s will.
2. “You must not have been looking.” – Autumn.
In an ironic and artistically well-done moment in the story, Autumn tells Tom she has seen him – but he has not seen her before. She responds by telling him he must not have been looking.
How many times do we do that in relationships? Most of the time, we spend our time looking in the wrong places – ourselves. We look for someone who fits our interests, our needs, our weaknesses, our strengths, our salary range, our league, etc.
What we don’t do is look – look at Jesus, look at the Kingdom, look where Jesus is calling us, and looking for the right spouse at the right time.
Start looking at Jesus and you’ll find the perfect spouse. Start looking (seeking) the Kingdom and passionately pursue Jesus and expanding your Christian family, and then God will provide you the vision for the right person at the right time.
3. “Most days of the year are unremarkable….most days have no impact on the course of life.” – Narrator.
Don’t let the relationship doldrums get to you. Obviously, there will be days with less excitement than others, days with arguments, days with rainy afternoons – that’s what happens when you bring two depraved beings together in relationship. Hence, the Bible talks a lot about “oneness” when a man leaves his father and mother to be joined with his wife. (Eph. 5:25-33)
However, if you and your boyfriend or girlfriend, fiancé or fiancée, or husband or wife are living on mission to advance and build the Kingdom, then every day has an impact on the course of life and for eternity.
Whether you work in a secular environment, ministry, or are a stay at home mom, your daily life has an impact on others. Every day is a chance to live out the journey to get to the destination, because indeed life is about the destinations – you’re either living a life that reflects Jesus and has a deep yearning for heaven, or your living a life that reflects sin and is plotting you to death for eternity in hell.
4. “I woke up one morning and I just knew…what I was never sure with you.” – Summer.
At this point in the movie, it’s anticlimactic yet powerfully profound. Summer never “knew” with Tom. Again, fighting the urge to argue that premarital sex, emotional baggage, and different expectations coupled with bad communication limits our ability to “know” if we are to be with someone, but I digress…
As human beings, we can only truly know one thing – God – and even that knowledge comes through faith, grace, and the power of the Holy Spirit. Without Jesus in our lives, we will be like Summer: lost, confused, and never sure of anything.
With grace and the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, we can know – through faith – and be sure “of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1). Obviously, this is talking about salvation and the resurrection of Christ.
In relationships, I’d argue that faith in Christ can make a person sure of committing to another sinful and depraved person. That’s the beauty of love from and through Christ – we can love someone’s good as much as we love someone’s bad (their need for Christ).
We can wake up, and be sure that even though this person will never be perfect, that we will struggle at times, that we will argue and disagree at times, through grace and sanctification, we can be sure of our love for the other, and become one. Thumbs up for the longest run on sentence in history.
5. “I think you’re just remember the good stuff. Next time you look back, I think you should really look again.” – Rachel.
We like to swing two directions on the pendulum – remembering only the good (typically if we get dumped like Tom) or growing in bitterness and remembering only the bad. As Rachel advises Tom, we need to do both.
Tom looks back on his times with Summer, and sees past the good memories and the hopeless romantic moments to see that she had her pretty horrendous moments as well.
This won’t solve all problems or heal all wounds, and unlike Tom we probably won’t get the blessing of a random park encounter with our ex to provide a gut-wrenching quote of truth and honesty, but it helps.
By looking at both sides, we can enjoy the good memories and realize the growth from the process – growth that God ordained for us, and albeit that we normally stain all relationships with moments of sin, it’s by God’s grace that we live to see another day, and journey on hoping to be blessed by the gift of marriage…with that:
6. “Hi, I’m Autumn.” – Autumn.
Jesus has a calling on your life, that calling will provide the perfect person, at the perfect time, for a perfect ministry together. Don’t forget to look for your Autumn, and Autumns, don’t forget to be willing to take a chance just like Autumn did on Tom.
Matthew is a senior at Biola University studying Psychology with a minor in Biblical Studies. For contact information, questions, comments, or to drop a line, click here.
The past few weeks have been rather stormy at Biola University to say the least.
Everyone who attends this university is aware of the situation at hand, but for those who don’t know what happened, I’ll briefly cover the situation before going into this blog.
A few weeks ago, a group came forward anonymously, calling themselves “Biola Underground.” While claiming that they are students, staff, and faculty from Biola, they also state that the group is not claiming affiliation with the university itself.
They have come forward, as Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgender, and Queers, desiring to have acceptance and to some degree, equality amongst students. They want the freedom to be open about their lifestyles and choice of sexuality.
Until Friday, Biola had no official announcement other than claiming that it is a serious matter and they wanted to think through all aspects before making a statement.
On Friday, Dr. Barry Corey, our university president, spoke at chapel. While I wasn’t there personally, I heard he openly defended the school’s stance against homosexuality, as our school’s beliefs with the Bible align with a position against it.
I commend DBC for his words, and I look forward to watching the video myself – I will post it as soon as it is made available.
As a person who grew up in the ultra-liberal city of Portland, Ore., I was exposed to the issues of homosexuality early, know many homosexuals personally, and have witnessed the churches in Portland handle the issue both with grace, conviction, and truth as well as bitterness, hate, and shame.
This has provided insight and perspective, and I hope this blog provides both to you, the reader, as we wrestle through this issue together.
When it comes to any controversial issue of society, I believe that as Christians, we must ask three vital questions in order to properly evaluate where we should stand with our opinions on it.
1. What does the Bible, and subsequently the creator God and his son, Jesus, say?
2. How do we react in light of biblical-truth as Christians, as a church, and as people living in the world but not of it?
3. What should our actions be towards those who do not agree?
These questions are baseline, pivotal, and should lead us in our processing and decision making over hot topics within the church. If we don’t start here, we don’t start anywhere. It starts with God, his Word, and the church, and ends with Jesus, the cross, and the Gospel message.
I will divide this into two portions, first talking to homosexuals and about homosexuality, and secondly to Christians, my peers at Biola, and what I think we should do as believers.
To the Underground
First, I commend you for bravery for writing, posting, and stepping out with a convicted voice over this issue. You’re right – as a church, university, and believers, we have failed to make your voice known and have failed to be open to conversations over this controversial and heavy topic.
Being taught in Psychology and haven taken many steps in readings of research, I want to first say that I agree with you on some crucial points: God does not make mistakes, there is evidence homosexuality is part of humanity and not as much of a choice as believers argue, and that although many have tried, sometimes you can’t change your desires.
I hope that those reading understand that I’m very open when it comes to this discussion – I want all people to be pushed towards Jesus, the Cross, and His gospel message. I desire all to be freed in Christ, to spend eternity with Him, and to live a life that allows them to flourish for the Kingdom.
Many people are arguing that the fundamental issue is that the Underground has not admitted wrong or come forward with repentance and that it needs to be addressed as a sin issue (more on this later). This too, is true.
What does the Bible say about homosexuality?
The Bible is littered with passages on homosexuality including many passages from the Old Testament (Gen 19:5, Lev. 18:22, 20:13) and how it led to destruction (Sodom and Gomorrah). Genesis 2:24 explicitly states that God created man to be with woman,that he would leave home and his family to be joined with her.
In the New Testament, Paul writes explicitly in Romans about homosexuality, stating “For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error” (Rom. 1:26-27).
These are arguments in scripture that very openly state that homosexuality is not natural, that God considers it an abomination and sin, and that if we are to believe and follow Christ we must “put to death the deeds of the body” (Rom. 8:13).
The Bible, and God, very openly states that homosexuality is a sin. So, what do we do with that knowledge?
First, if you truly want to be in communion with Christ, you must first admit that homosexual desires are not natural, and actions because of the desires are sinful. Just like premarital sex, lust, pride (more on this later), and legalism, it’s a sin we must put to death in order to live with Christ.
I’m not stating that if you become a believer, you’re biological DNA will morph and you will be a heterosexual. Albeit, there are cases and stories where individuals found Christ, put their sins to death, and move on to become married and have a family – but I’m not saying that you must follow the same path.
Much like a man who needs to die to his lustful desires everyday, or someone who struggles with judgmental pride, sin is sin, and we must die to it. God didn’t necessarily intend for you to be homosexual, as he doesn’t intend people to be prone to pornography and lust, but yes, part of who you are may be that your DNA is wired for homosexuality.
However, I know that it won’t be an easy journey. We do need to be open as a campus to this discussion. For homosexuals, be filled with grace and love that you may discover truth through scriptures and know Jesus. Be willing to talk about truth from a biblical standpoint, and be willing to accept what God says as truth. That’s your responsibility as an individual within the homosexual community-seeking acceptance from the church.
After reading through you’re website, there are no biblical claims to why you think homosexuality is not a sin. I would love to read your thoughts and have subsequent biblical proof. My fear is that, like many issues in the church, we as humans are prone to manipulate scripture into something we want it to be, instead of taking it is as truth for what it says.
Now onto the “fun” stuff.
To Biola University Students (and some staff and faculty):
How do we react in light of biblical-truth as Christians, as a church, and as people living in the world but not of it?
Answer: not as most of you have.
The past few weeks have become a mudslinging battle. When uncomfortable topics are brought up, the worst comes out in Christians. We tend to either run and hide (sins of omission) or go on the offensive and belittle, destroy, and condemn those living with sins (sins of commission). To say that I am embarrassed, hurt, and disappointed in fellow Biola students is an understatement.
Yes, homosexuality is a sin as I just stated above. Yes, The Underground did not come out with a heart of repentance. Yes, Biola University stands on Bible and it’s doctrines. Yes. Yes. Yes.
The immediate scripture that comes to mind is Matthew 12:34 when Jesus lashes out against the scribes and the Pharisees, “You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”
The hearts of many were exposed the past few weeks, and those hearts are full of ignorance, hate, and anger.
How can we expect to take a progressive lead in discussions on homosexuality when we are condemning them to hell, as if it is our job and not God’s?
Refresh my memory, but if you’re story is anything like mine and those in the church, Christ met you where you were, not where you are now.
By God’s grace, I was brought into salvation when I was 14 as a young man who was suicidal, addicted to pain medications, and whose pride and lust reeked from my soul. It hasn’t been the easiest journey, but it’s been a beautiful one of sanctification and God’s grace.
If you forget this, you forget and reject the message of the Gospel – Christ came to save sinners like us and bring us into redemption (1 Tim. 1:15).
We cannot expect homosexuals to be willing to talk if we are taking the role of the Creator to condemn His creation.
Yes, stand upon moral and scriptural convictions.
Yes, the homosexual community (if they want to live in communion with Christ) must recognize homosexuality as a sin.
Yes, God hates all sin.
But most importantly, God loves His people and His creation so much so that He sent his Son to die on a cross (Jn. 3:16 if anyone needs it…).
So, what should our actions be towards those who do not agree?
1. Be loving. Don’t condemn sinners to hell because that’s not your job. You’re calling is to passionately pursue Jesus, seek the Kingdom, and make disciples and plant churches.
2. Be grace filled. Don’t come out lashing in anger and hate, or even blunt truth, conviction, and correction if you’re heart isn’t first filled with a burning passion, love, and sadness over the sin of our student body (all sins, not just homosexuality). A hard heart with soft answers does more damage than good. A soft heart with hard answers is accepted as genuine, because it comes from a source of love and care.
3. Be willing to talk, and do you’re homework. Don’t blindly argue with stale old biblical points and cliché sayings, “It’s a choice not the way you are born!” – Read up on psych articles, including articles by Christians who are smarter and wiser than you, before you make a stand.
Finally, reflect Jesus. Our goal, mission, and passion should be that we push people to Jesus and the Gospel message of the cross. Are you doing this by ridiculing or making fun of The Underground?
Realize that this is a conversation that is going to take place whether we like it or not and we have two options: make it better or make it bitter (Pastor Mark shout out.)
Just as with all sins, we need discipleship, training, love, grace, and Jesus to overcome it. We can not just sweep it under the rug anymore.
I have one more challenge, and that’s that you pray. Pray unceasing, pray for homosexuals, pray for the sins of our university and our churches, and most importantly, pray God takes charge of your heart. You may find, that you too do not know Jesus or are not walking with him.
Matthew is a senior at Biola University. Originally from Portland, Ore., he has resided in Los Angeles for the past three years. For more information or for questions, you can contact him via email and you can follow him on Twitter (@mattfier).
The purpose, mission, and goal of this blog is to provide perspective to Christians and push people towards Jesus and the Gospel message of the cross.
A few months ago, I had the chance to meet with a woman and fellow Biola student over coffee. While on the one hand, I was excited to catch up with a woman who had grown in her faith tremendously – from what I would argue was nonexistent to someone who was really searching for real Peace and Hope. On the other hand, I wanted to apologize for some of my actions that occurred with her during my rebellious and sinful time early on in my Biola career.
Everything went extremely well and it was a time of healing and forgiveness for both of us.
However, what I didn’t expect was to hear that during her freshman year of college, she was date raped by a fellow Biola student. By God’s grace, she is healing and is processing what it means to search for real Jesus. My hope and prayer is that she finds His all-encompassing love and redeeming power in her life.
I write this in wake up of this week’s Sexual Violence Awareness campaign on our campus. I love it. It’s an important conversation to start, continue, and immerse ourselves in on a continual basis, because it’s a taboo topic that needs to be brought into Gospel and Truth driven light.
This post is a follow up to my previous post on Depression, Porn, and Sexual Assault. While the first post was thoughts on how we as students and student-leaders should act and react, this post is to be more focused on the message of the Cross and the immense power of redemption that can take place because of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection.
According to Dr. Justin S. Holcomb and his wife Lindsey, who put together an extensive book on this very topic titled, Rid of My Disgrace, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime.
Although descriptions vary, I will use the Holcomb’s definition of sexual assault, which is fairly broad, so that we don’t minimize those who experience it.
Dr. Holcomb says that:
“Our definition of sexual assault is any type of sexual behavior or contact where consent is not freely given or obtained and is accomplished through force, intimidation, violence, coercion, manipulation, threat, deception, or abuse of authority. This definition gets beyond our society’s narrow understanding of the issue and expands the spectrum of actions to be considered sexual assault.”
Breaking down the numbers the Holcomb’s’ put together or referenced is astounding, heart breaking, infuriating, and if you call yourself a follower of Christ, should light a burning fire in your heart to help these victims.
To quote my previous blog, here is a rundown.
· Every 2 minutes someone in the US is sexually assaulted.
· 17% (or 1/6) men and 25% (1/4) women are or will be victims of sexual assault in their lifetime.
· 90% of young women involved in prostitution (or porn, adult entertainment, etc.) were sexually abused as children.
· 80% of victims are assaulted by a known acquaintance.
· 80% of victims are under 30.
· Only 5-20% of assaults are actually reported.
My heart is grieved when I reread these stats. We’re facing an epidemic – and without resolution. If we break this down, that means anywhere from 750-900 students are sexual assault victims on our campus.
I took the liberty to break it down into terms for Biola students to really comprehend the staggering effect of sexual assault and how it reaches our campus:
If you take a floor of 60 girls in a dorm, 15 are assault victims.
On a floor of 60 guys, 10 are victims.
If you add them up, in a dorm relative to the size of Horton, there are 90 women and 40 men who have been sexually assaulted in one dormitory alone.
I would like to dedicate the next two portions of this blog to those who have been sexually assaulted, and then the men and women on Biola’s campus.
To those who have been sexually assaulted:
First of all, I am sorry.
What you have gone through isn’t a reflection of who you are, it doesn’t need to be your identity, and you have the every right to come and shed light into your past if you haven’t already done so.
You experienced one of the greatest injustices in the world, and an injustice that isn’t spoken about or talked about enough.
· You have nothing to be ashamed about.
· You are loved and cared about by many around you.
· There are ways to get helped – to those who are carrying it from their past and to those who are still being sexually assaulted in this very moment.
Most importantly, God not only cares for and loves you, but he also knows your very pain and experienced your very suffering.
Hebrews 4: 14-16 says, “…For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
When Jesus was sent to live on this earth in the form of man, He did it with one agenda: to save this world from their depravity and to provide the ultimate justice, peace, hope, and love by the all redemptive work of His death on the cross and His resurrection from the tomb.
That’s the Gospel message. When Christ was put on the Cross, the sins of the world’s history to come was put upon Him.
You were sinned against. Whether it was sins of omission, by a father who didn’t do anything, as Jacob sat on the sidelines and gave up his own daughter (Gen. 34), or sins of commissions as someone acted against you, you were sinned against. And while you are not necessarily to blame for this sin, because sin affects everyone one our souls, it has a strong effect on you.
But know that Christ suffered so that you may be redeemed.
1 John 4:10 says, “In this love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
God mourns for you and with you. If you are a follower of Christ, God has already given you Himself through the Holy Spirit to be continually sanctified in this process that you might be healed.
In Romans 8:26, Paul writes, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words.”
I plea with you to pursue grace, truth, and the redemptive work of the cross with a fervor and passion your soul has never before longed for. That you no longer hide behind this identity of pain and brokenness; that you seek – and find – justice by and through Christ’s ultimate sacrifice, and that you can find His grace is sufficient in all things, as Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 12:9.
I have one recommendation for you as you journey through this process:
Buy a journal. Write out your sexual past including sexual acts you’ve committed to consensually and sexual acts that were committed against you sinfully. From your earliest memories – as some of you reading this were sexually assaulted as early as your time in diapers – to the things going on in your life right now. It could take hours, days, weeks, months, and I guarantee it will take more than a few boxes of tissues, but it’s worth it.
For more resources on the evidence of God’s grace, love, and understanding, please check out Rid of My Disgrace ($15 on Amazon).
One Final Note:
To those that don’t believe this is a subject to be broached by chapels and events, that this is to be kept in the confines of the church or counselors office, or that it doesn’t affect our campus.
You’re wrong, and I will go as far to say by hindering the healing process of the Gospel, you are acting out in a selfish and sinful way by desiring to sidestep the conversation all together. Never limit the work of the Cross and understand that as hard as it is to admit, Biola students are not exempt to sin and there are certainly a percentage of students who do not know real Jesus on our campus.
We have an epidemic of sinful desires at our school, that I know both vicariously and first hand. We have students clubbing, doing drugs, drinking alcohol, watching porn, and being sexually active on campus – and may I add, this doesn’t even begin to touch the subject on homosexuality.
Yes, there have been people caught (and not caught) drinking or doing drugs on our campus.
Yes, there have been people caught (and not caught) having sex within our campus confines.
I have heard stories of students engaging in sexual acts with roommates present. I have heard stories of date rape. I have heard stories of students struggling with homosexuality and roping their friends into experimenting with it.
I have heard these stories from the students themselves. From their RA’s. From student leaders and staff members.
It is a problem, and it’s one we need to address.
One Final (Final) Note:
Don’t be stupid. Don’t act like you believe in this subject, act as if you will protect your sisters, and go back to your dorm room to watch porn.
Don’t go to clubs or certain dances that I don’t even need to name and grind up on some girl because you either don’t know her, or you know she’s “down,” or she goes to another school. You’re objectifying them, most of them either Christians or in desperate need of Him (as we all are), and you will most likely go home and finish off your “needs” if you don’t “get some” there.
Don’t raise your hands in worship if you’re feeling up under your girlfriend’s clothes in the car before. Don’t share your theological “wisdom” in class and then go and try to convince a girl to send you pictures from her phone.
First of all, if you think I’m being extreme. I’m not – I know guys personally who have done or still do these things. Second of all, before I started committing all aspects of my life to Christ, I was guilty of many of these things to some degree or another. And I promise you this – it’s an identity issue that normally finds its roots from insecurity, pride, and lust.
You too need some encouragement. I want to encourage you to find your fulfillment and sense of identity in Christ and not in the ways of the world.
You don’t need to sell yourself short and become a PG-13 version of Girls Gone Wild on the dance floor (and sometimes worse) to find validation from men. Dr. Barry Corey covered that today, and so I encourage you to watch that video when it becomes available this week.
If objectifying yourself is what makes the man you want or are currently dating happy with you, he’s not a man. He’s a little boy. If you continue to let yourself be objectified by these boys, you will find yourself in an abusive relationship (either physical, emotional, or both), and one that statistically speaking, leads to divorce.
Please know that God sent His Son to be beaten while blindfolded, flogged, and crucified on a cross (to be raised from the dead of course!) for you, so that you can be rooted in His love, mercy, grace, and tenderheartedness.
If a man is telling you that your heart for Christ isn’t enough – that you must sell yourself for the sake of “love” then that man doesn’t love Jesus and that man wants to be your Jesus.
Find women who love Jesus who are smarter and wiser than you, who have perhaps journeyed through this. Find a community group in your church for starters, and perhaps approach a Biola professor for someone they have in mind (if it’s a woman, maybe it can be them, and if it’s a man, perhaps his wife!).
He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
(1 Peter 2:24-25 ESV)
Know that I’m filled (as are many) with a compassionate love and care for you and your pain, and I would love to either connect with you or provide someone trustworthy that you can connect with, whether it’s in La Mirada or around the globe. Feel free to email me and I will provide resources and contacts for you!