Category Archives: Ethics

Sacred Sin

An old acquaintance of mine recently claimed to have reconciled his Christianity and his newly admitted same-sex attraction. He provided a lengthy explanation which followed this pattern (written from his perspective):

  1. Before I was openly gay, I had shame and feared rejection. Now that I’m openly gay, I feel great.
  2. I’ve been encouraged by lots of people, but there are also lots of judgmental, hateful bigots and I hate any law that would prevent me from openly working in a Christian institution. Damn those laws.
  3. I think our country is moving in the right direction on sexual ethics.
  4. Make sure you fully support anyone who identifies as LGBT++, lest they commit suicide.

The first thing that struck me is how this reasoning is consistent with the most radical anti-Christian sexual revolution rhetoric you can find: same-sex attraction is totally fine, people who disagree are judgmental bigots, religious liberty is a code-name for bigotry, we are Progressing, full acceptance of radical gender ideology is the next mile marker, LGBT++ people commit suicide because of evil hateful bigots being mean.

This is not the type of thing I would ever expect a Christian to write. In fact, were it not for a comment that he had somehow reconciled his “faith” and his “sexuality”, I would have figured he had abandoned Christianity altogether. Instead I conclude he has abandoned the content of Christianity while retaining the form.

My point for this post is not a comprehensive take-down of his poor moral reasoning, his unsubstantiated claims, or his vitriol toward Christians whose ethics are biblically informed and haven’t changed with the culture.

Instead, I want to illustrate how bizarre same-sex acts are as a category of sin. Imagine that, instead of same-sex attraction, this person was constantly tempted to rape women. Follow the reasoning again:

  1. Before I was open about my desire to rape women, I had shame and feared rejection. Now that I’m open about my desire to rape women, I feel great.
  2. I’ve been encouraged by lots of people, but there are also lots of judgmental, hateful bigots and I hate any law that would prevent me from openly working a place where women felt unsafe by my presence. Damn those laws.
  3. I think our country is moving in the right direction on removing the stigma from rape desires.
  4. Make sure you fully support anyone who wants to rape women, lest they commit suicide.

This is a totally unacceptable series of claims, and yet same-sex desires are elevated in such a way that they somehow get accepted, even among Christians.

I think there is a history here of Christians leaving behind the words of Jesus and Paul on marriage which has made any of this possible, but it is still striking. Same-sex attraction and same-sex acts are now sacred.

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The Immoral Gag Reflex

The harbingers of the sexual revolution within conservative circles often point to disgust and gag reflexes as symptoms of bigotry.  One of the more insidious efforts of the sexual revolution was to shame people for their natural gag reflex.

The term “homophobia” is a bizarre neologism. No one “fears” people who are attracted to the same sex, so its meaning is left intentionally ambiguous. For most on the Left, it means any disagreement with same-sex acts at all. But on the Right, which has become simply a loyal opposition to the Left (moving Left with them) instead of standing on something concrete, “homophobia” has morphed into a term to guilt people who are disgusted by the acts performed in same-sex relationships.

But one need not fear (no one does) nor hate (few do) same-sex attracted people to be repulsed by the acts. Little do conservatives know that by giving in on this term, they have made the baseline for sexual attraction to be bisexual. If you are shamed for having disgust at same-sex acts, they become acts that you know are forbidden by divine command, but for no other reason. If the only reason to avoid an act is because you are commanded not to, you are far more likely to engage in it or to lessen your hatred for it.

We see the same thing in other places. If you command someone to eat better (maybe a doctor trying to help a patient), they will likely fail at dieting. But a vegan who is convinced this meat is to be reviled is probably going to stick very strictly to a diet.

Shame (when we do something wrong) and disgust (when we see someone else doing something wrong) are God-given.

But exclusively on “consensual” sexual issues, we are told that disgust is oppressive, mean, and “phobic”. We are told no such things when we see a murder, a theft, a scam, or a rape. With those things, we are encouraged to be disgusted.

This doesn’t even get to the far-reaching damage that the liberalizing perspective causes. There’s a vast distance between a man who finds same-sex acts repulsive and one who happily engages in them. If that repulsive reaction is beaten out of the man through coercion, that distance is reduced to nothing at all. By being forced to accept same-sex acts as perhaps immoral but not intrinsically disgusting, the man who has so far avoided the acts is now has lost his strongest defense. It is our revulsion of evil that protects us when our wills and our hearts, evil and weak as they are, fail.

Contrary to popular opinion, Christian charity requires disgust and revulsion at evil acts of all kinds. Only by passionately hating evil can we love people who engage in it. Anything less than a passionate revulsion of evil will make us tolerate sin, which is the opposite of charity.

Special Treatment

I recently ran across a comment someone made about sodomy. The author claimed to be a Christian, and was upset that other Christians made a big deal about sodomy and same-sex attraction. “What’s the deal with Christians and homosexuality?” It sounded like the start of a bad joke. Ultimately, his solution was to “be kind and let God sort it out”, unlike all those evil, mean “fundamentalists”.

This was all very odd. For one thing, it seems strange to put the cultural focus on same-sex attraction at the feet of Christians. If anything, Christians are slow to respond to a total moral inversion in the West regarding sodomy. Within a generation, anti-sodomy laws were replaced by laws against any critique of sodomy. That means in less than 20 years, what was considered so evil as to be punishable by law became so good as to have any opposition to it punishable by law. Christians are making too big a deal out of this?

It gets worse though. God doesn’t allow Christians to “be kind and let God sort it out”. That sounds a bit like Christianity without the Gospel. What did Christ die for if there is no sin?

But things can get worse still. Paul spends a great deal of time condemning same-sex sexual sin. He calls it shameful, and he even says talking about it is shameful in Ephesians 5:

For you may be sure of this, that everyone who is sexually immoral or impure, or who is covetous (that is, an idolater), has no inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God…

…For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret.

So while our friend wants to condemn Christians for taking issue with same-sex acts, it turns out Paul was disgusted by them and treated them as utterly contemptible and shameful. The acts are called abominations throughout Scripture for good reason. For some reason, modern Western Christians would rather eject you from your congregation for having a natural, God-given gag reflex than for engaging in same-sex sin. This is totally backwards.

The thing about sodomy and same-sex sexual sin in general is that it is so damaging to one’s body and soul that it serves as its own punishment. As Paul says in Romans:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth…

Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator…

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.

Where Paul and the rest of Scripture treats sexual sin in especially harsh terms, the modern, Western Christian treats it in especially soft and careful terms, if at all. That tells us more about the theology of such people than anything else.

Is Marriage Possible?

For Christians, marriage involves a husband who loves his wife as Christ loves the church and a wife who submits to her husband as the church submits to Christ. The husband is to love his wife even unto death, and a wife is to submit to her husband in everything. There are no exceptions.

These are impossible standards for mere humans to live up to, but that’s the nature of perfect moral standards. It isn’t a defect in them.

Husbands are also to teach their wives about spiritual things. They are to “wash [their] wives with the word [of God]”. Paul says that only men are to preach because Eve was deceived; naturally then, this role falls to men.

I’m convinced Christian marriage doesn’t exist in the West. Christian marriage isn’t just difficult today. It is actually impossible. We have only clumsy attempts, and can get nothing more.

In the military and in other hierarchies where real submission to authority takes place, there are safeguards to enforce the structure. Punishments exist for those who disobey orders. The mere fact of these consequences is enough to deter the majority of those who might be tempted to disregard their superiors.

In Western marriages, there have also been safeguards against disobedience. Husbands had tremendous control over their wives. While the modern mind might be tempted to think of physical violence, there were more effective ways to accomplish the goal. Women needed husbands to have any political voice, as only men would qualify to vote, serve in officer corps of the military, or in the court of a king. Christian civilization had mercy for widows, but none for adulteresses. It had roles for women who abstained from marriage, but disdain for women who abandoned their vows. Husbands could rely on all of these things to get the job done so they could focus on Christ’s command for them: to love their wives as Christ loves the church.

None of these things exist today. There are no negative social consequences for women who divorce their husbands, who sleep around while married or not. In fact, women who unilaterally divorce their husbands are often rewarded by courts stacked in their favor. Women don’t have to break their family apart on the outside to rebel, though. With universal suffrage, a house can be divided on the inside; husbands and wives can vote against each other, bringing the government into their home like some totalitarian’s dream.

There are no social restraints to keep a wife submissive toward her husband. And there are no legal actions available to men to do so on their own. In fact, a man who tries to enforce his authority in any way will bring only scorn.

Submission is impossible to enforce, so we are required to trust that women will simply submit out of their own good nature. But women are sinners, just like men. And women, as Paul says, were the first to be deceived, being more likely than men to be manipulated. Our fundamentally feminist culture has honed its skill in manipulation.

Since submission is impossible to enforce, and impossible to produce without enforcement, and since submission is fully half of what makes a Christian marriage, I posit that Christian marriage is not simply difficult in 2018. It is impossible.

STD’s and How We Could Quickly Eradicate Them

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The cause of sexually transmitted disease is almost exclusively sexual acts. Therefore, if those acts were banned, stigmatized, or simply avoided for a single generation, STD’s would be nearly wiped out. The few cases of STD’s being transferred through drug use or other means wouldn’t keep up enough to make a difference.

But try and present this as a possible solution and you’ll be condemned as an unloving, bigoted, hate-mongering sociopath. “Love is love”, man, or something. For the Left, and increasingly their decade-old clones that are called conservatives, the obvious solution to the problem of sexually-transmitted diseases is unacceptable.

Some of this is tied to the secular humanist notion that we are simply material animals and our instincts and desires serve no higher authority. An even larger part is a misuse of the term “love” to mean “pleasure”. If anyone infected with an STD loved their sexual partners, those partners wouldn’t be sexual.

The great irony in this age of “love is love” is how little love there really is. There’s selfish desire for pleasure in abundance. Just a single generation of men and women who really understood love would result in the extinction of STD’s. We have no such generation. If anything, we’re farther from that sort of thing than we’ve been in centuries.

Character Requires Moral Absolutes

MTV, a former music video channel, recently posted a video of “White Guy Resolutions 2017”. Condescension, racism, sexism, virtue signalling, and the rest of the garbage it contained aside, there was a single line which struck me as being written with so little self-awareness that I can’t help but think the writers and actors spoke the words without having them enter their minds.

“Be better!” is spoken several times throughout the video. This is ironic, because the people speaking it are presumably moral relativists. That seems to be the rigidly enforced moral framework of the “progressive” left. But how can one “be better” in a morally relativistic system?

The cultivation of character is a lifelong process. A man or woman must spend time fighting urges to do evil and lazily avoiding what is good. But if morality is relative and we should just “be ourselves”, as the progressive left is fond of telling those who have objectively disordered attractions to the same sex (for instance), then there can be no cultivation of character. Everyone has already arrived at moral perfection; everyone is already good just the way that they are.

Moral relativity is unlivable, so it makes sense that MTV’s paid actors would say “be better!” in reference to those things they think are actual moral evils. What’s fascinating is that these same people never question their lists of vices or apply their own criticisms inward. But maybe that’s asking too much. Who would MTV hire if not hypocrites?

Drinking to the Glory of God

From a relatively obscure ministry website comes this article on alcohol. Or, more appropriately, on the evils of drinking it:

I write because I am terribly concerned with the approach to alcohol by my generation of pastors, and more, the approach to alcohol by the next generation of pastors. There appears to be a growing trend of young pastors embracing the use of alcohol.

It’s worth pointing out that we already have a case of fallacious equivocation. The author of the article uses the terms “alcohol abuse” and “use of alcohol” synonymous, which is then used as evidence for total abstinence of alcohol.

During a meeting at the Southern Baptist Convention there was a question asked of Al Mohler concerning the use of alcohol. He masterfully answered the question, informing everyone in the room that in order to be a part of the faculty or a student at Southern one must agree to abstain from alcohol. But during that same meeting a pastor many younger pastors admire quipped that he enjoyed a beer occasionally. Smiles all around.

What is left out is what else Mohler said, amounting to an admission that drinking alcohol is not inherently sinful and can be done in an appropriate way. We eventually get a bit of honesty, but what we discover is concerning:

I know all the arguments: having one drink is not a sin, having a drink will not send you to Hell, Jesus drank wine, the disciples drank wine, on and on it goes. I have heard them all. But I am convinced if one does a study of the Bible from beginning to end, he will find an overwhelmingly negative view of the use of alcohol.

The fact that Jesus turned water to wine, that Jesus drank wine, that Jesus passed a cup of wine at the Last Supper, that Paul recommended wine to Timothy, and that the Old Testament is filled with drinking and merriment are arguments the author already knows. Presumably, he’s also dismissed them, although he gives no reason to motivate this.

Consider Proverb 23:29 -31: “Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who linger long over wine, those who go to taste mixed wine. So do not look on the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly; at the last it bites like a serpent and stings like a viper.”

We return to the fallacious equivocation, but not for the last time. Here, verses are cited from Scripture that condemn drinking in excess, and then these verse are applied to drinking in any quantity. But that’s poor exegesis. The purpose of these verses is to warn against excess, lingering “too long over wine”. If it applied to any alcohol in any quantity, you’d think Jesus Himself would have avoided it instead of creating and consuming it.

I know those verses to be true. Until I was 14 years old I had an alcoholic father. Though a very intelligent and talented person my father chose to drink alcohol. I have few memories of him when he was not intoxicated. I have lots of memories of him intoxicated.

This is a tragic situation, and it may be closer to the author’s conviction than any Scriptural, logical, or historical reason. Again, however, he commits his fallacy. A man who drinks alcohol is not an alcoholic. An alcoholic, like a drug addict, is someone who abuses the substance; just as a glutton is not a person who eats food, but a person who abuses his appetites.

The author goes on to cite a lot of statistics that result alcoholism or drunk driving, but they do not contribute to the overall case for abstinence of alcohol any more than statistics on obesity contribute to an overall case for abstinence of food.

When does drunkenness start? Drunkenness is sinful. Someone says “,I wasn’t drunk, I was a little buzzed.” Well, wouldn’t we have to say when someone’s state is altered it is drunkenness? If one never drinks alcohol, he never has to worry about becoming drunk or when being drunken starts.

Not drinking alcohol certainly implies not getting drunk, but not getting drunk does not imply not drinking alcohol. That is to say, there is a large margin where one can drink alcohol and not be drunk. Alcohol produces a relaxing and calming effect pretty quickly when consumed, but no one would argue that this is “drunkenness” any more than consuming a meal is gluttony. This parallel is important, because it demonstrates a key attribute about God and His Creation – many good things can become bad things when abused, but are not inherently bad as a result. Food, drink, exercise, and sleep are all excellent in the right amounts, but awful when abused to excess.

The Bible condemns gluttony and sloth in the same way it condemns drunkenness, but the author does not therefore conclude that one should abstain food and sleep in order to avoid worrying about where the line is.

Is it worth it? If drinking escalates and drinking alcohol costs your ministry, is it worth it? If your child sees you drinking and grows up with the view it is “OK to have a beer,” but he or she goes on to be an alcoholic, is it worth it? If your child drinks at the legal age but has just a hair too much, but just enough to cause an accident and it kills him or her, is your occasional beer worth it? If one of your congregants sees you or hears of you having a beer and is turned off from the Gospel or begins drinking assuming if you do it, it must be ok and it leads him or her to alcoholism, is it worth it?

What if taking pain killers causes a person to abuse drugs? Are occasional pain killers worth it? What if driving when just a hair too tired causes an accident?  Is occasional night driving worth it?

The fact is, alcoholism is an awful, terrible thing. But alcoholism is not defined as “drinking alcohol”.

The last example just seems silly. If a Christian sees another Christian drinking a beer and is thus turned off from the Gospel, they aren’t a Christian in the first place. I have a hard time even imagining a non-Christian being pushed away from the Gospel by seeing a Christian drink a beer, but I’ve actually witnessed some being attracted to the Gospel by seeing Christians drink reasonably.

Should we be ingesting anything God says bites like a serpent and stings like a viper?

God said drunkenness bites like a serpent and stings like a viper, not alcohol. The context was drunkenness, “lingering too long over wine”. The Bible condemns drunkenness. It does not condemn alcohol.

You would think if God had meant this to apply to alcohol itself, then God taking on human nature would have refrained from drinking it, let alone creating it for his friends.

Is Jesus not enough? So many say, “I have a drink to help me relax; I need a drink to help me relax.” What happened to presenting our requests to God and allowing the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension to guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus? Now that is relaxing!

I suspect the author does things to relax that are not limited to prayer. Does he sit down after doing a lot of hard, manual labor? Does he watch a little TV or read a book after a stressful week?

Why not present his request to God and allow God’s peace to guard his heart and mind instead?

If you are not drinking for an altered state, why drink alcohol? There is not a beer on earth (or any other alcoholic beverage for that matter) that tastes better than sweet tea or your favorite soda.

The author, abstaining from all alcohol, is probably not the best suited to tell others about the taste of alcohol. Scotch, bourbon, rum, whiskey, myriad beers and wines all taste incredible, and while I have never been intoxicated (which the Bible condemns), I’ve enjoyed small amounts of each of these.

Again, I do not write this to judge or criticize any pastor or believer. I write from experience and I write from concern. I encourage you to avoid the use and promotion of alcohol and I am convinced you will never regret not drinking alcohol. In fact I have never met anyone who said I wish I had drunk more. But I have met plenty who said they wished they had never tasted the stuff. You will never regret not drinking alcohol, but if you do drink alcohol, it is almost a certainty; you will have regrets about it.

I’ve met people who have wished they could try some of the more exotic and expensive alcoholic beverages, and I’ve met very few who have regretted drinking alcohol. Most drink in reasonable amounts and do not get drunk.

I think a different, more reasonable policy is in order.

Instead of avoiding great food, avoid gluttony. Instead of avoiding sleep and rest, avoid sloth. Instead of avoiding sex with your spouse, avoid sex with anyone else. Instead of avoiding exercise, avoid obsession with fitness. Instead of avoiding entertainment, avoid being consumed with it. Instead of avoiding conflict, avoid unnecessary conflict. Instead of avoiding medicine, avoid drug addiction.

Instead of avoiding alcohol, avoid alcoholism. Drinking alcohol can be done to the glory of God. Jesus, God Himself in human flesh, not only drank the stuff, but He created it in the first place and created it miraculously again from water. God’s disciples drank it, and their disciples and churches drank it, passing a cup of wine during communion for millennia.

Finally, avoid the fallacy of equivocation. It leads to long and otherwise unnecessary rebuttals.