The subject of temptation, same-sex attraction and sin is one that seems to call for ever more follow-ups.
First, let us consider some questions with regard to temptation. If the stirrings of sin are themselves sinful, as I have been arguing, then how did Adam first sin? He was created perfect. As I was telling my theology class yesterday, this is a subject that would provide someone with a fine thesis topic. The short answer is — whatever else it is — a different answer than it is with us.
We are up against the world, the flesh, and the devil. Adam did not have to contend with “the flesh,” but he was up against the devil, and a jury-rigged world. The world was not then fallen, but it could be presented as though it was. John tells us to “love not the world” (1 John 2:15-16), and the things he tells us to reject were all present in the garden — the lust of the flesh (good for food), the lust of the eyes (pleasant to the eyes), and the pride of life (desired to make one wise). So then Eve and Adam had the capacity to choose self over God, and the impetus for this were the external circumstances and an external tempter.
We also know that an external tempter is not absolutely necessary in order to sin because when the devil first sinned (if he was the first), then that was done without outside help. What is necessary, apparently, is a choosing self and an external set of circumstances in which a wrong choice can be made.
But for us, it is neither here nor there. Because we go into every temptation with some part of us already rooting for the other team, sin happens earlier. Compare when Adam reached for the forbidden fruit, and when we reach for it. It is safe to say that we are in a state of sin sooner than he would be. We are halfway there sooner than he would be.
“But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death” (James 1:14–15).
The word rendered lust here is epithumia, strong desire. In Adam, that strong desire was not sinful in itself. In us, it is already compromised, given the nature of the case. When the desires involved have a creational center (as with sex, hunger, thirst), it is not sinful clean through, but our desires are nevertheless compromised. We find no fault with our created and material nature. But these created and material natures are fallen, and this affects how they operate. If God were to mark iniquities, who would stand (Ps. 130:3)?
And all this is why Christians have a responsibility in three kinds of mortification. The following is an excerpt from a sermon I preached in 2009.
In order to understand what Paul is teaching here, we have to sort something out first. He is describing a crucifixion, a death, a mortification. But this is not a concept that has only one application for the Christian life.
First is the death of the “old man,” the old way of being human. This is equated with the overthrow of the rule and reign of sin, the dominion of sin (Rom. 6:6; Gal. 5:24; 6:14). The old man is dead—you don’t have to keep killing him. This is something that is equally true of all who are genuine Christians. The second kind of mortification occurs in the lives of Christians who have stumbled or fallen, and significant sin has grown up in their life. This is what Paul addresses in his letter to the Colossians. “Mortify your members which are on the earth” (Col. 3:5). These are not trifles, because he goes on to define them as “fornication, uncleanness, etc.” But he is talking to Christians, who should have their affections set above, and the action he calls them to is a decisive action at a point in time. The third kind of mortification is daily, for each of us. As John Owen once put it, a man should not think he makes any progress in godliness “who walks not daily over the bellies of his lusts.” We will see this just a few chapters from now—”if he through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live” (Rom. 8:13). The verb here refers to an action that is continuous and ongoing. This mortification you will never get to walk away from on this side of glory. If you do, then you will be confronted with the duty mentioned to the Colossians.
And I also said this:
Picture a weed patch, not cultivated at all. When the first mortification happens, God plows the weed patch under, and makes it a garden. It is now a garden, and not a weed patch. The old status is dead. The second mortification is what happens when that garden is untended for a week, and you come back to find weeds in it that are up to your thigh. Uproot them, pull them out. That is the second kind of mortification.
The third kind is what any good gardener will tell you about. Get out there every morning, and pull up the weeds that are the size of your thumbnail. They will always be there. That is the third kind of mortification.
So this should be our backdrop for all discussions of same-sex attraction. Where does this fit in? And what does it mean with regard to Christian leadership?
There are two layers here. The first has to do with the connection between the sin committed and the genesis of that same sin in the desire of the heart. The Lord teaches this explicitly with regard to adultery (Matt. 5:28). God sees a man doing something and a man internally wanting to do it, giving himself over to the sin in the chambers of his mind.
But that is not the only problem — and it is here that the evangelical world stumbles. We have the vice proper, and the vice treasured in the heart, and I think that if we were to discuss that long enough, we could hammer out an agreement. The problem is not confession of our vices, but rather confession of what we assumed were our virtues.
We have had this same problem for decades with regard to the ordination of women. Evangelicals are stuck with the texts that prohibit it, but have, over time, come to prize feminine characteristics in their leadership. This leaves us in the sorry position of having to exclude from leadership those who have the leadership qualities we most prize. The results have been pretty tragic — our own evangelical contribution to the long and sorry history of the third sex.
We do draw the line, and try to mortify certain things. But we are seeking to mortify the wrong things. Cutting to the chase, we mortify true masculinity in leadership. We reward softness. We are afraid of masculine leadership. For the time being, we insist on male leadership but recoil from masculine leadership.
One of the results is that our leadership ranks are starting to fill up with men who are attracted to men, but who promise not to do anything about it. So let me end with a thought experiment. Take one hundred evangelical ministers who struggle with same sex attraction. Let us suppose that we have a magic wand that would entirely remove every form of sexual immorality, and all secret inclinations to it, but everything else remained the same. All the ministerial “virtues” they seek to cultivate in themselves remain. Most of those one hundred ministries (not all of them, but most) would be spiritually intolerable.
I read the last paragraph a few times. But I am still having trouble unpacking the phrase “Most of those…would be spiritually intolerable”. Could someone state this another way that might help me understand better?
I need clarity on that as well. I think he is saying they would be wimps, but I am not sure. To be fair I think this topic probably requires a hundred book pages to properly discuss. Which I think is why some of what he is saying is cryptic.
The way I understand it is that same sex attraction doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It has veins and arteries that connect it to other parts of life. If we just accept that it’s fine as long as it’s not acted upon, it’s still there and continues to inform ministry. Those evangelical ministers he was referring to then are most likely following paths in their ministries, whether in theory or in practice, that are unfaithful, even if that sexual attraction is not acted upon physically.
At least that’s my understanding. I could be wrong.
Did Adam act effeminately because he “hearkened unto the voice of his wife”, in his priestly roll?
No, he acted effeminately by failing to take responsibility for himself and instead blaming Eve and then trying to blame God Himself, “this woman you gave me…”
You are using Adams post fall excuse, rather than God’s pre-fall reason, “because you hearkened unto the voice of your wife.”
And a long priestly roll it was, down a grassy gnoll and into a creak. ;-)
Receiving direct revelation from God, I was assuming Adam to be Pentecostal.
I’m still thinking through this. Given what Pastor Wilson said above, would he think it’s accurate to say that the type of temptation Adam encountered (in an unfallen state) is more similar to the temptation Christ endured (and conquered, thankfully) than to the temptations we as fallen creatures face? Are all temptations to sin now sin to us since we have the sin of Adam? I remember there were some people that took issue with a post Pastor Wilson had a few months back because he suggested that in Jesus’ temptations, he actually wanted the things with which he was… Read more »
But, remember – when John Piper says he refuses to own a gun precisely because he’s afraid he might be tempted to shoot an intruder who’s attacking his wife or daughter, that’s not effeminacy. That’s godly masculinity.
Sorry, but as the shepherd of my family I’m more than willing to put a wolf six feet in the dirt for attacking my flock. It seems to me you’re insinuating that such an action is effeminant. If so, you have a warped vision of manliness and as much as I love him, so does Piper.
You seem to have it backwards.
John Piper wrote an article saying that he refuses to own a gun, and the reason he won’t own a gun is that he’s afraid he might be tempted to use it against an intruder who’s attacking his daughter. I say that’s effeminate. Not to mention disgustingly cowardly.
I was using sarcasm because several people on here took issue with my saying that this is effeminate behavior on Piper’s part.
My bad. I misread the first part. Thanks for clarifying and I agree 100 %
I would add that that my 12 year old daughter has more of a shepherds heart than that quote describes.
You seem to be implying that Piper would not defend his wife or daughter. I think there’s a difference between sitting by while your daughter is attacked, and saying that you do not believe that a certain type of defense if wise.
You won’t kill the intruder with kindness. Given the choice between a knife, an axe handle, my fists and Dr. Remington I will go with Dr. Remington.
Piper is arguing that killing the intruder should be a last resort, not the first option. I’m not entirely sure I agree, but I think insinuating that he’s a weakling or that he wouldn’t defend his family is wicked.
Of course you do. You’re a big fan of John Piper, and I’m criticizing him for his disgusting cowardice, and for trying to pass off his cowardice as spirituality, ergo, I’m wicked. As far as being a “weakling”, in a month, Piper will be 70 years old. He’s also rail thin. So tell us exactly how a man like that is going to be “defending” his wife and daughter from an attacker. And that’s with a single attacker. Most home invasions are the work of more than one person. Like the three black guys who raped and murdered Amanda Blackburn,… Read more »
Only tall beefy men can defend others or be truly manly. Yup.
You are lying about his cowardice. He says clearly he would defend his family with his life, but because he doesn’t think a gun is the right way to do it, you say he won’t defend his family at all.
The “Probably,” as far as I can tell, is he would “probably” use the gun, not that there’s any hesitation to defend his daughter.
Only tall beefy men can defend others or be truly manly. Yup. Are you just being intentionally stupid? You don’t need to be tall or beefy to pull a trigger. And if you’re not, that’s even more reason to have a gun. You probably meant “Only tall beefy men can defend others without using deadly weapon.” Well, any man can try to defend others without using a deadly weapon, but the smaller he is, the less likely he is to be successful. And that’s against a single, unarmed attacker. Against an armed attacker, or several attackers, an unarmed man is… Read more »
I’m fairly certain that intentional stupidity is refusing to attempt to read someone clearly, and claiming contradiction to bolster your bluster where there is none. It is, in fact, defending her. Unsuccessfully. You were perfectly happy to say that he would stand around and watch his family be attacked, before I made it impossible, so I’m not inclined to credit anything you have to say. Bravery is not defined as “successfully beating things that you are afraid of.” Were the Christian martyrs cowards for not joining the zealots and standing against the Romans who murdered their children and wives horribly… Read more »
It is, in fact, defending her. Unsuccessfully.
A husband and father has an obligation to protect his family from harm as best he can, not to merely make a weak, pathetic, and useless attempt to “defend” them because he was too spiritual to use deadly force.
And Peter? He was definitely not too spiritual to defend the only righteous man from evil attack – but was also clearly a coward.
One more time:
It is, in fact, defending her. Unsuccessfully.
A husband and father has an obligation to protect his family from harm as best he can, not to merely make a weak, pathetic, and useless attempt to “defend” them because he was too spiritual to use deadly force
As best he can. What about the person who is a terrible shot, who has practiced at the range many times, but still shoots his wife by accident in defense? Cowardly?
Again, Ian, I think there’s a necessary distinction between laying down one’s life for the Faith and laying down one’s life for the silverware. If a repressive and evil government wants to destroy your family for naming Christ, fending that off with a 9mm might not be the best or even righteous solution. (Note: I freely admit that I don’t know what I’d do in that situation, so I’m speaking theoretically here.) But if a burglar wants to steal your TV and bed your daughter along the way, I’m pretty sure putting a hole in his head is the proper… Read more »
I think that defense is absolutely appropriate in the latter case, but I don’t think that it’s the only defensible response. Additionally, I do believe that it is better to suffer an evil than do an evil – and if you have done all you can in good conscience do to defend your family, it is still their evil, and not yours, if you are unsuccessful in defeating them.
Being wrong is not the same as being a coward.
I generally like Piper, but don’t read many of his books as he tends to be repetitive, but I think he doesn’t treat Scripture very nicely in one or two places in that post. Having a weapon, whether gun or Louisville Slugger, and despatching a criminal who breaks into your home for the purpose of guarding your family, imitating our God mind you, is Biblically permissible according to OT Law. It is NOT living by the sword, or gun, as Piper claims. My family is not my own but is given me by God to steward and protect. I don’t… Read more »
As I’ve said above, I don’t completely agree with Piper on this issue, but I do think he brings up some points worth considering. What, to you, does “living by the sword” mean? I am absolutely against the progressive attempts to increase tyrrany by taking away guns, but I think Piper’s point about not wanting to kill everyone who wants to kill you is biblical. Again, I think there is legitimate room for disagreement on how you choose to defend yourself and your family, and I don’t think Piper is in any way saying that he would choose not to… Read more »
Again, I think there is legitimate room for disagreement on how you choose to defend yourself and your family, and I don’t think Piper is in any way saying that he would choose not to defend his family here.
Again – John Piper is 69 years old and skinny as a rail. Please explain to us what method he would “choose” to employ to defend his wife and daughter against three murderous thugs like the ones who recently broke into Amanda Blackburn’s house and raped and killed her.
I don’t know that it has to do with age, I think Piper has always been a physically weak man. I think he has neither the temperament or physicality for physical confrontation and that colors his outlook on this. Now we all have our weaknesses but we should own up to them and not use the Bible to prop up our egos by redefining things like beauty, strength, or bravery to mean the opposite of what they mean.
1) The effectiveness of defense does not mean that someone is a coward. As I’ve said in this thread, I don’t completely agree with Piper – but I don’t think there’s any need or real justification for questioning his bravery.
2) If you would like me to say it – I think Piper would fail, and likely die, in such a circumstance. So would I, and most men who faced three deadly assailants by themselves. Would a gun frighten them off or kill them? Sure. Which is why I’m not completely convinced by Piper’s reasoning.
2) If you would like me to say it – I think Piper would fail, and likely die, in such a circumstance.
And how would his wife and daughter fare in such a circumstance?
They would be raped/assaulted/killed.
How was that “protecting” his family?
Failing to succeed is not the same as standing by and letting it happen.
Failing to succeed is not the same as standing by and letting it happen.
Yes, that’s exactly what it is. When you deliberately refuse to own a gun because you don’t want to send a violent thug to hell, you’ve left your family essentially helpless in the face of a home invasion.
What if five armed guys show up and kill an armed guy and then proceed to assault the wife and daughter? Is that guy a failure, too? Should he have had 24/7 security in gun turrets on his roof?
Calling a man a coward because he refuses to take reasonable steps is one thing; calling him a coward because the steps he takes turn out not being effective is ludicrous.
1) The effectiveness of defense does not mean that someone is a coward. If you refuse to own the most effective means of defending your family from intruders because you don’t want to kill the intruders, and so you try to “protect” your family with means that even you admit would most likely fail and result in your death, giving free rein to the attackers to do whatever they want to your family, that is being a coward. No one would fault a man whose gun suddenly jammed for tackling one of the intruders. He’s doing the best he can… Read more »
I do not agree with Piper’s logic here. I do not yet have a family, and so have not had to make this kind of choice. However, I do not think Piper believes that a gun is the only good way of protecting his family, and thus he is not engaging in the cowardice that you accuse him of.
I keep asking you what would be another good way of protecting your family from what happened to Amanda Blackburn, and you won’t tell me. What are some of these little known ways of protecting his family from multiple attackers that Piper can choose from? What’s he going to do? You keep telling us that Piper doesn’t think a gun is the best way of protecting his family in such a situation. OK; so what are some of the other methods that could plausibly be a better choice?
I keep asking you how Peter’s cowardice was unchanged by his swordplay. Or how someone who sucks at aiming should be held accountable for that.
Other methods – the aforementioned baseball bat sounds good (or any other clublike weapon). Mace or tasers as well. They additionally have the advantage of less hesitation because of the inherent unwillingness (a good one) that most non-sociopaths have in even killing in self defense.
“But to refuse to own a gun and leave yourself no good way of protecting your family is cowardice.”
Or just foolish.
That’s fair, but we’re not talking about killing everyone who wants to kill us–just those who are in the middle of attempting to do so. I get that David wasn’t allowed to build the Temple since he was a man of blood, but I’ve no intention of going and collecting the foreskins of 200 Philistines–just the intention of guarding my family with whatever means and to whatever end is necessary. I admit that Scripture defines some bounds on that, such as whether or not a person is breaking in my house in the daylight or at nighttime (Exodus 22:2), and… Read more »
And I do tend towards that view – but I think there’s room for people to express compassion and brokenness for those who have devoted their lives to murder, even while resisting them. The line between personal turning the other cheek and forgiving 70 times 7 and the state’s mandate to punish the evildoer is a complicated one, and I think it’s worth discussing.
Turning the other cheek? That’s incredible. Turning your wife and daughters over to the tender mercies of three murderous thugs who have broken into your house is now “turning the other cheek”? If John Piper were single, and refused to own a gun to protect himself, because he thinks we “should turn the other cheek” that would be his choice. But Piper is a husband and father. He took on the obligation to use deadly force to protect his wife when he got married. “If a thug demands your wife, offer him your daughter too” is not turning the other… Read more »
Bull, I think you are making some good points, but it’s difficult to sort them out from amidst the repetitive slinging around of “disgusting cowardice.” You’ve made that point, too; constant repetition is not only repetitive, but repetitively repeating in its repetition. Lest I repeat myself, please ease off the repetitive nature of your repetitions. It will make your other points easier to follow. Thanks.
What are you trying to say? Out with it, man!
Ian, you just brought “the state” into the discussion for the first time. That expands and complicates the conversation exponentially and unnecessarily. The line between personal responsibility and governmental responsibility is neither complicated nor blurry. Yes, it’s worth discussing, but it’s a different discussion than the one going on here. In brief, it is the person’s responsibility to safeguard what is his own; that is, his life, his family, his property–these specifically–and then perhaps a few other things. It is the state’s responsibility to enforce the laws, which, if they’re patterned after God’s Law, will defend the person’s use of… Read more »
Apologies – you are correct that the state complicates things unnecessarily. I should have brought in the line between personal forgiveness and suffering evil rather than doing evil and the responsibility to protect those who are dependent upon you.
I’m not sure blowing away an intruder is evil. God’s Law protects a man from blood-guilt should he kill a man in defense of himself or his family/property. If the sound of the pump-action on a shotgun doesn’t make an intruder run away, then he only has himself to blame for continuing with his intrusion and bearing the results of the shot.
I don’t agree with Piper on several things, and I’m not really convinced by his reasoning here – but I think that there’s a significant difference between disagreeing with him and calling him a coward, just as there is a difference between disagreeing with him on the roles of men and women in society and calling him a misogynist.
I would ask you the same question I ask Bull – were the martyrs cowards for refusing to fight the Roman soldiers?
To begin at the end, I would respond that martyrdom and a break-in are two different issues and bringing one in with the other verges on obfuscation. To end at the beginning, I would say that you’re correct, but that doesn’t make him a non-coward, it just means that mere disagreement is not the basis for declaring him to be a coward. I don’t think that Piper necessarily *is* a coward, but he’s denying the principles of peace through superior firepower and mutually assured destruction which are simple realities. If someone breaks into your home, the sound of a 12-gauge… Read more »
Good comment…also, you ninja’d me.
So, only a loud, intimidating weapon qualifies one as a non-coward? A quiet pistol wouldn’t count?
The differences in the issues are not clear enough to me that you can condemn someone like Piper without condemning the martyrs.
Is that what I said?
And only if you refuse to acknowledge that being killed for your stuff and being killed for your God are different and that Scripture treats them differently.
Being killed for your family is different than being killed for your stuff. I am talking about the former, not the latter.
You seem to indicate that guns are better (as in, making you a non-coward) when you can intimidate someone with them.
I don’t think we’re connecting on the punches being thrown here. Being arrested by an authority and subsequently killed for your beliefs is martyrdom. It’s quite different than an intruder breaking into your home, which Scripturally, you’re allowed to respond with deadly force. I agree with Doug who somewhere said that it is not a sin to be killed, and being killed without a gun doesn’t necessarily make you a coward and being killed WITH a gun doesn’t necessarily make you a non-coward. My point is that guns are often the best–and sometimes safest–ways to, ironically, disarm a situation. I… Read more »
I think we have a disagreement about the relative weights of the calls to protect our family and our lives vs. the call to avoid pride, violence, and hatred. I generally agree more with what Doug says here: https://dougwils.com/books/gun-ownership-as-civic-virtue.html (which might be what you are referencing), but I do think there’s a spirit of pride and self-righteousness that people who have a strong belief in liberty and personal responsibility have which must be guarded against, just as there’s a spirit of weakness and lack of conviction that those who have a strong belief in compassion for the lost and broken… Read more »
I don’t think we have disagreed on protection versus avoiding pride, violence, and hatred. Nowhere in what I said am I pro-pride, pro-excessive violence, and pro-hatred. I agree that someone who doesn’t know how to handle a firearm is probably best without wrong, though they might be told to go learn, but I’m not laying a law on anyone. I think the point at hand is that if someone refuses a weapon that grants an obvious advantage in protecting his family for the reason that the criminal might day, and instead opts for a less deadly option, while granting that… Read more »
You have not, but Bull definitely has.
The advantage of a gun is not obvious for the untrained or unskilled. I do not see an obvious advantage of a gun over a bat for the average person who isn’t particularly trained in either.
Fundamentally, I’m seeing a heart of nearly complete contempt or indifference to those who aren’t in your immediate group in this conversation. Defense is good, but an attitude that says “I really don’t care if people made in God’s image go to hell?” Even the pagans think that. Christians are called to much, much higher.
Ian, that’s ridiculous. You’re merely arguing that because you have to. I grant that it’s good that someone not trained with firearms not use them in general, but they are not rocket science. And nowhere did I say I was indifferent about people going to Hell. If that’s the case, then Piper doesn’t care either since he hides behind the authority of militaries and police who he claims do have a right to kill and send to Hell. If they have a legitimate right to kill–and they do, whether it be war, interrupting crime, or, and this is the kicker,… Read more »
What in particular is ridiculous? It’s pretty plainly show in all studies of military training that people don’t like to kill other people in general. That’s the point of a lot of military training – to break down the normal and healthy resistance to killing another person so you can properly serve your country. They are not rocket science – but guns are an extraordinarily dangerous tool, and I don’t think the assumption that a gun will magically make a home invasion go away is any more helpful than the assumption that guns magically cause massacres. I am glad you… Read more »
First off, in case it hasn’t been clear, I agree that guns are not a magical cure for all of society’s ills. I agree, but let me go on: 1) I’m not talking about a willingness to kill, but which situation is better: a) you have a gun, the criminal does not; b) you have a gun, the criminal does too; c) you don’t have a gun, neither does the criminal; d) you don’t have a gun, the criminal does. I suspect most people would prefer those options in that order, and such a preference is logical. 2) The duty… Read more »
For myself, I actually don’t think me having a gun would be as helpful as me having a baseball bat or other long club, for reasons listed above. I don’t object to having a gun, but I would need to spend time training with it, which is time and money I do not currently have/wish to spend. Again, I don’t see that Piper is necessarily agreeing that not having a gun is disadvantaged, or that he would ever stand by and not protect his family (or anyone being assaulted). I have friends who think the US was wrong to use… Read more »
In his lectures on just war, D.A. Carson distinguishes between squishy pacifism and principled pacifism. Squishy pacifism is that naive, ahistorical belief that all societal problems can be solved with a cup of coffee and a good conversation. This sort of pacifism is rightly described with all sorts of colorful labels including cowardice. On the other hand, principled pacifism is the wrong belief that for the Christian, violence should never be met with violence. Though this type of pacifism is rightly charged with a failure to love, it is at least respectable in that it is not grounded in naivety… Read more »
Thank you, Tim.
I think the failure to protect the weak is rightly charged as a lack of love. Someone could fail to protect the weak out of cowardice or could determine to do so out of misguided principle. Piper clearly states his motives in this case and those motives are honorable, while his hypothetical actions would not be.
I don’t think he wouldn’t try to protect the weak, or anyone. I think he is against the prioritizing of our own lives over others – the issue of protecting others is complicated, and he doesn’t address it as directly as I would hope, but he does make it clear that he would defend his family or others with his life. I think that action is honorable.
It has been a while since I have listened to him on the subject. From what I remember, he had pacifist leanings. But I was speaking more in the abstract. Principled pacifism always breaks down to a failure of love or responsibility in some way.
He’s definitely not a pacifist when it comes to the police or the affairs of state. I do agree that pacifism, even when principled, sacrifices the lives of others – whether it’s the military who dies to keep your freedom, or other people around you when you choose not to defend them. I don’t see Piper arguing for this, though.
But we prioritize our own lives over others every day. Presumably, Piper doesn’t forgo eating for the sake of giving all the food that he *would* eat to others, no? That may sound like I’m stretching that concept to the extreme, but such a person would be more justified than the one who would doesn’t want to kill a criminal even if defending his family came to such. The one forgoing food does so to save the weak and poor; the one forgoing killing a criminal does so to save the wicked.
Saving the wicked – I think that has a nice ring to it. Yes, it’s a messy issue, but Jesus didn’t die to save his tribe, his clan, his family (though he made us his family) – he died to save us while we were still wicked.
Ian, are you implying that I’m opposed to that? I’m not saying we SHOULD NOT proclaim the Gospel to even to most wicked of men. I heard that, Lord willing, we’ll be worshiping right beside Jeffery Dahmer in the new Heavens and new Earth, and as Sufjan Stevens sang, we’re just as bad as John Wayne Gacy Jr. You can go dig up the bodies we each hide underneath our own houses and see that. But you don’t put former pedophiles in charge of nursery service in your church, no matter how redeemed they are. You cannot equivocate. Jesus spoke… Read more »
I’m saying that saving the wicked is, in fact, not contrary to the will of Christ. I agree as well with you that you should be wise as serpents as well as innocent as doves. I just don’t see an understanding that Piper’s argument is coming from a place of compassion for the lost, not cowardice. When you say “You” punish, you mean the state. I think the Christian mindset for themselves individually should be that we are all guilty, and to reject pride and tribalism in our own lives. I think that if we are trying to construct a… Read more »
I agree with Ian Miller that we have to examine our motivations, even toward violent criminals. However, if we are going to appeal to our own limited knowledge of God’s salvation, we should do so consistently. We could just as easily argue that ending one criminal’s life might spare some future victims who might then go on to hear and believe the Gospel. We can’t try to second guess what God may or may not do. If we try to go down that road, even a little bit, we end up actually picking sides about what we think God will… Read more »
I believe I mostly agree with you.
Because Disqus is such a confoundedly structured medium, I’ll simply copy and paste.
Barnabas’ #2 point:
“2. The salvation of men is not the only way through which God is glorified. God is glorified through his judgement including the consequential judgement of a wicked violent man coming to a violent end (confirming God’s revealed wisdom in Proverbs) as well as God’s eternal judgement. When Phinehas drove a spear through the man and the Midianite woman in Numbers 25 God was not angered that those two people would never have a chance to repent. God was pleased and glorified.”
I don’t think it’s true to say that God was not saddened by the condemnation. I think God has multiple reactions – all centered on His glory, but I think you must include God’s desire that no one should perish alongside His desire to demonstrate His justice.
I do agree that God was not angry with Phineas, nor did he desire him to do another thing. But the society at the time was not structured around the gospel as our lives are commanded to be today.
But, it was structured around the tangible and visible presence of God in the Tabernacle who had saved His people from Egypt while He verbalized very clearly that He did not do so because of any good thing in Israel, but because of His own glory, grace, and faithfulness.
Jude tells us, “Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.” (vs. 5)
Such a distinction should be made with caveats and clarifications.
Careful distinction, yes, but there is a difference between the society of the Isrealites, living with God’s direct presence, and part of his centuries-long plan to bring about the Incarnation, and our own, under the Great Commission, with the law fulfilled in Christ, who died rather than destroy the sinners around Him. Yes, we should defend our families – but we should also strive to love the world as God does, sending His only son. Should we go around trading our kids for terrorists in jail? No. But I don’t think the attitude of “Shoot all the bad people” is… Read more »
You make a good distinction, Ian. We can disagree with Piper (or anyone else) without resorting to name-calling, even if the appellation is accurate.
At the same time, I’m not certain comparing the responses of Christian martyrs with the responses of home defenders is appropriate.
There is a difference between martyrdom and home defense in that we are called to submit to the authorities, at least in consequences, if not in doing sin. Despite that difference, I think there it is very difficult to condemn Piper, after he has given his life against home invaders, in a way that does not also condemn those who give their life in the arena instead of joining the zealots. Furthermore, I do not see as much of a spirit of wanting to protect one’s family as much as a clear case of “I’m more manly than you.” There’s… Read more »
So John Piper thinks it’s wiser for a man to try to fight off three armed attackers like the ones who raped and killed Amanda Blackburn instead of shooting them?
Can you enlighten us as to the wisdom of trying to fight off three armed attackers compared to shooting them?
I am a big fan of John Piper, but I have to disagree and say that it is not masculinity to wish you were less equipped to defend your wife and daughter.
Right. A few years ago he wrote a book called Bloodlines. His next book should be called Panty Lines.
Can you explain more fully what you mean by “the stirrings of sin”?
You quote James: “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and
enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin,
when it is finished, bringeth forth death”.
Can you identify where “the stirrings of sin” fall in the above progression?
When you say that our desires are “compromised”, what does this mean exactly? Is my desire for food somehow sinful where Adam’s wasn’t?
There is one weakness to the argument that needs to be addressed. Granting we are always halfway to sin, how then could Jesus be sincerely tempted? Your thesis doesn’t address that
Oddly enough, this was also an issue which came up in the theology class he mentioned. He has a good response, but I’ll let him articulate it. Don’t assume he hasn’t thought about it.
“Take one hundred evangelical ministers who struggle with same sex attraction” Okay, well now I disagree with Wilson, because I think he is implying that SSA and effeminacy, feminine attributes dominating leadership, create a kind of softness, wimpiness? I have found the precise opposite to be true, those who are attracted to men often become hyper-masculinized in both word and deed, and also rather hostile towards women. Who is the root of all evil? The gender that has failed to make itself attractive to them. Often the most arrogant, hyper masculinized, dominating people screaming from the pulpit about the evils… Read more »
“Often”? How do you know?
You’ve met a few? Where, at the end of your toe?
If I remember correctly, ME is female. I doubt she’d be in the men’s room picking up homosexuals.
Which leaves my other questions right where I left them, I think …
Yes, it’s a meme, certainly – “aha, methinks he doth protest too much, know what I mean, har har?”
And a highly convenient meme – who wouldn’t prefer to believe that others are secretly attracted to them, instead of openly repelled by them?
But however slick or convenient, I doubt anybody knows that it is “often” true. Certainly there are often those who would like it to be true.
I know from having been left standing in the midst of their collateral damage. Hypocrisy is alive and well within the church. Yes, it has become a meme, but memes are often rooted in truth.
Pastor, the analogy of the weeds was very helpful. We are to tend the garden of our hearts; this is very doable and clear. thank you.
Off topic here but this is the closest thing I have to a social media life and I really wanted to get this out there. This wonderful lady named Cara Combs was a relative of a friend of ours here in St. Louis. I guess it is on topic if you consider this an example of what true femininity looks like. “Mother chooses to have baby instead of cancer treatment” http://fox2now.com/2015/12/08/mother-chooses-to-have-baby-instead-of-cancer-treatment/ Short version: Pregnant mom delayed treatment for her stage 4 cancer so her baby would have a better chance to survive. Baby made it. Mom did not. I think… Read more »
Thank you for demonstrated the real attitude of your type of Christian toward women — it’s the same as Philip Sheridan had toward Indians. I feel so sorry for that woman, and I fear for any women you know.
What?? I think your harsh and judgmental words are not only wrong, they’re inappropriate. Would you say the same thing about a father who lost his life trying to rescue a drowning child? Parents do these things sometimes. It’s called sacrificial love. Why would you try to make that into something ugly?
KarenJo12, I saw on your public Disqus comments that you’re probably about to lose your father any day now. I have no desire to start a back-and-forth with you right now on the matter I mentioned above, but please know that I’m praying for you and your family during this difficult time. If you have the chance, keep us posted.
Thank you for demonstrating the real attitude of your type of person toward children.
These last couple of posts may be “jump the shark”posts for me. I am an Arminian, but I appreciate so much of what you are trying to do in explaining what’s wrong with our culture. But the last couple of posts in my view do not characterize the careful reasoning I have see used so often here on these issues. I am thinking especially of this statement: “preciousness, niceness, posing, empathy, approachability, transparency, and all the other grand postures of effeminacy.” I see a lot of overlap in some of those terms and some of the ones found in this… Read more »
Sorry to re-post a previous comment, but:… “I thought Doug did a nice job as well! By his empathetic approach of posing darkness and light in contrast to each other, Doug made the truth very transparent! You can tell Doug has true empathy with our need for repentance. Wisdom is after all, a woman! ; – ) (Sorry, just had to play those words! I do agree that they are often abused.)” Another guy mentioned “winsome” as being an over rated pseudo christian virtue. I think it is OK to be as “winsome” as Elija at a baal-fest! ; –… Read more »
A quibble: God pronounces creation good and very good. That’s different from perfect isn’t it?
please unpack what masculine leadership looks like, how it compares to machoism and effeminate leadership, and how it is not simply calling for qualities that should be either cultivated or avoided in both genders.
Trying hard to reconcile two things Wilson said: “If the stirrings of sin are themselves sinful, as I have been arguing…” and “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin…” Granted, the second quote is actually something the Apostle James said, so there’s that. But how do these two statements jive? Specifically, how am I to make sense of James saying that temptation is being drawn away by one’s own lust, and when lust has conceived it brings forth sin…with Doug saying that… Read more »
If you follow the lexicons which understand temptation to involve “an attempt to make someone do something wrong,” then we can all agree that it is clearly wrong to tempt others. The relevant point for the James 1 reference is the fact that there is a type of temptation which comes from within. In other words, because we are sinners, we have sinful hearts which “attempt to make us do something wrong,” or in the language of James “lure and entice” us. As a result, it is just as wrong for our hearts to try to “attempt to make us… Read more »
Thank you…well stated.
I believe you are misreading James 1. He says that each person is *tempted* when he is lured and enticed by his own desires.
James doesn’t say that each person *sins* the moment his sinful heart lures and entices him. He doesn’t mention a sinful heart at all. He speaks of desires.
I agree with you that it is wrong *for a moral agent* to solicit someone to do evil. But our desires are not moral agents. Desires lack moral quality.
You keep saying that desires lack moral quality. You take this as a given by faith. Paul does not agree with you. Colossians 3:5 5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Everything else in this list has “moral quality.” We are told to put to death everything in this list. There is an adjective, evil, modifying the word translated desires. I can’t ignore what Paul is saying simply because you say so. It sounds like you are a Pelagian. You do not believe that man was… Read more »
Tim, I have said (or meant) that desires, in and of themselves, lack moral quality. Perhaps I have not been clear. Sexual desire, hunger, thirst, etc., in their essence, have no moral quality. Note that it is not until the desire *has conceived*, that it gives birth to sin. I take the conceiving to be the point where the moral agent wills in accordance with the desire, transgressing a law. You say, “There is an adjective, evil, modifying the word translated desires”. Good point. Here, and elsewhere in Scripture, taking into account the context, desires (gr. epithumia) are spoken of… Read more »
John, Thank you for the interaction. I think I understand what you are saying now. Yes the word epithumia can be used in the sense of “strong desire,” it can also be used in the sexual sense “lust,” depending on the context. However, I find myself stumbling over the way that you are wording this. You are communicating that desires are neutral in essence, and only become moral when the will acts upon the desire in such a way that the moral agent crosses a boundary of law. I have several difficulties with what you are communicating: 1) the facts… Read more »
When you and John get this foundational stuff sorted out, please move next to the “problem” of Jesus being tempted in every way as we, yet without sin. It sounds like it’s beginning to boil down to 1) we are tempted because we are filled with sin, and because of our sinful natures, the temptation itself is sin; 2) acting upon that temptation is also sin; and 3) Jesus didn’t sin even though He was tempted at every point as we are…I’m guessing because He did not possess a sinful nature. There’s a logical flow to that, but how is… Read more »
Malachi, I will try to post several comments that I made in other posts in order to give a fuller picture of the concept of temptation. Without getting bogged down by all of the particulars, the Greek word peirasmos, from which we get our English word translated “temptation,” has two major uses in the BDAG: 1) a test; 2) an attempt to make someone do something wrong. The latter category has the internal/external aspect. Biblically speaking we have sinful hearts which tempt us (James 1 – attempt to make us do something wrong), while we live in a world with… Read more »
Here is a shorter and more direct response. You said: “we are tempted because we are filled with sin, and because of our sinful natures, the temptation itself is sin;” We can be tempted from without (external) or tempted from within (internal). See below. The feeling of being pulled towards sin from within is the pull of a sinful heart. We ought to repent of this. We ought not to repent every time someone tempts us, namely attempts to make us sin. If we feel a pull towards sin, then we should acknowledge our evil hearts. 2) yes 3) It… Read more »
Tim, Yes, sin is lawlessness. And “all wrongdoing is sin”. Moral quality attaches to an act of the will. Neither sin nor righteousness are constitutional (i.e., physiological). “He who does right is righteous”. Can you show me an example from the Bible where sin is other than a violation of law? In Romans 7, Paul speaks of being captive to the law of sin which dwells in his members. He is not saying that sin is literally part of his body. Rather, he is describing the state of one who inwardly delights in the law of God, but who finds… Read more »
Then neither is there any such thing as inherited righteousness or innocence. There goes the Gospel.
No, there goes a false doctrine.
“For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.” Rom 5:19
[Beat you to it, katecho]
Pastor Wilson (or anyone else who can shed light), This paragraph threw me for a couple of loops, (could you please expound)? We are up against the world, the flesh, and the devil. Adam did not have to contend with “the flesh,” but he was up against the devil, and a jury-rigged world. The world was not then fallen, but it could be presented as though it was. John tells us to “love not the world” (1 John 2:15-16), and the things he tells us to reject were all present in the garden — the lust of the flesh (good… Read more »
This essay makes no sense. The one church where we know a majority of the leadership are same-sex attracted is the Roman Catholic Church, and they are far from feminist.
Two things to consider though:
1- He’s only talking about the evangelical world, so not Roman Catholics.
2- He’s talking about effeminate men, not feminist men. And boy howdy have I seen my share of effeminate priests.