Like the Thing They Loved

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A number of times I have sought to reinforce the biblical principle that you become like what you worship. This is an inexorable law; there are no opt outs. The passage I have cited most often in this regard is where the psalmist says that those who make idols are “like unto them” (Ps. 115:8) — blind, deaf and dumb.

But there are other aspects to this, and that would include the shamefulness of shamelessness.

“Like grapes in the wilderness, I found Israel. Like the first fruit on the fig tree in its first season, I saw your fathers. But they came to Baal-peor and consecrated themselves to the thing of shame, and became detestable like the thing they loved” (Hosea 9:10, ESV).

The sexual disintegration of America over the last generation is a direct function of idolatry. It is no isolated sin. This is not something that happened all by itself. No, we have our very own Baal-peor, and our rulers are busy dedicating themselves to it. Social conservatives have set themselves the impossible task of fighting the effects of all this without dealing with the cause of it. Our Baal-peor, in case you were wondering, is secularism.

So our elites have found out the shameful thing, and they have consecrated themselves to it. They are so dedicated to it that they will fiercely persecute anyone who dares speak the truth about what they are doing. They are setting themselves apart, in a twisted parody of holiness. They are becoming like what they worship, and that means they are becoming detestable. And that means, in its turn, that we should detest them.

Wait a minute. Hate the sin, love the sinner, right? While we were yet sinners Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8). We were by nature objects of wrath, just as they are now. We are all taken from the same lump of damned clay, right (Rom. 9:21)? Right. No high horse for us. Any grim views of the depravity of others that does not take into account that we were all delivered (by grace) from the same appalling detestable condition is a view that is part of the problem.

So that is all correct, but we do have to make sure we understand something important about this before we set ourselves up in the high office of hating the sin and loving the sinner. Here it is: “and others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh” (Jude 23). It is not enough to see your way clear to loving the sinner. You must do it while hating the filthiness that has ensnared him. The fear of the Lord is to hate evil (Prov. 8:13), and sinners don’t need any more love from people who don’t fear the Lord.

Such were some of us. That does mean there is nothing to be proud about. But this would have to include the kind of pride — than which there is no pride more sleek and insolent — that wants to rewrite God’s Bible for Him, making it more conducive the overwrought sensibilities of the detestable.

“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:9–11).

There is real hope here for the sexual detestable, but it is not to be had for anyone who is indignant over the word detestable. Anyone who is offended when their sin is called detestable is still a drowning swimmer trying to fight off the lifeguard.

One last thing. Does the act of detesting, or any strong emotional reaction (to something the Bible says is worthy of that reaction), reveal that homophobia really is what is going on? No, not at all. God has made the world in such a way that detesting certain things, and being attracted to others, is normal. But we now have federal judges decreeing that when anyone puts powdered sugar on a turd, the rest of country must call it fine pastry or face a stiff fine. In addition, any obstinate soul who is still in the grip of common sense is identified as being pastryphobic.

The sin of Baal-peor is when rebellion against God is so advanced that the people consecrate themselves to the “thing of shame,” calling it their glory. That is where we are now. And they are getting all the cool kids to go along with it. They worship at Baal-peor, hoping to become really gross themselves, if they are not there already. Social conservatives are looking for a respectable “fall back” position, which is an attempt to get them to not prosecute us for thinking our wayward private thoughts.

Social conservatives are adopting this defensive posture because nobody is about to propose that we do to Baal-peor what the Eastern Europeans did to all those statues of Lenin when the wall came down. What we need are some cables and tractors. Oh, and courage. We might need some of that too.

The real phobia involved in all is theophobia — fear of the living God. And that is an irrational fear that really should be looked at.

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thor
thor
7 years ago

In my humble opinion, Theo- (and those of equal meaning), are the only prefixes which cannot be used with the suffix -phobia.  The very definition of phobia is an irrational fear as you have indicated. However, for the Christian, it is the ONLY fear which is both rational and safe.  Everyone should have a rational fear of the Lord.  If fear of the Lord is rational, it cannot be a phobia.  Likewise, the term homophobia which has been adopted by the sodomites is certainly improper.  It is a derogative term now adopted by nearly all of “secular” society regardless of… Read more »

Rob Steele
Rob Steele
7 years ago

Theophobia–there’s a mouthful.  It’s wanting God to not be God.  It’s spiritual pride.  It’s the hatred of the father that both the prodigal son and his sanctimonious brother shared, though they worked it out differently.

Steve Perry
Steve Perry
7 years ago

“Consider then the excess of the transgression when being honored with so high a prerogative, thou puttest thyself to shame, seizing the woman’s dress.  And thou doest the same as if having received a diadem, thou shouldest cast the diadem from thy head, and instead of it take a slave’s garment.”  John Chrysostom, homily on first corinthians 11.  Yes, our society reflects our worship.  Respectfully submitted.  

Gregory C Dickison
Gregory C Dickison
7 years ago

I was in Seattle recently, and while checking out at QFC it struck me that the city will happily let one man put his penis in another man’s anus, but you can’t put your groceries in a plastic bag at the grocery store without going to green hell. Just saying.

Dan
Dan
7 years ago

Another path to green hell is using the wrong light bulbs in your home.  Such a travesty to even think of doing.  But teach grade-schoolers about sex?  Why, of course, since the secular elites always know better.

Dan
Dan
7 years ago

Pastor Wilson, well said: “Anyone who is offended when their sin is called detestable is still a drowning swimmer trying to fight off the lifeguard.”  Also this: “What we need are some cables and tractors.  Oh, and courage.  We might need some of that too.”  Unfortunately, too many Christians seem to prefer “respectability” over courage, even when those for whom we’re trying to appear respectable don’t respect us anyway.  And why should they, since they’re not afraid to defend their beliefs while we’re too afraid to defend ours.  Many proclaim to believe and trust the Bible, until they feel that their respectability… Read more »

RFB
RFB
7 years ago

Pastor Wilson, An honest question, not an argument. Jonathan Edwards says this regarding the (currently) unrepentant: “The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked: his wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire; he is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in his sight; you are ten thousand times more abominable in his eyes, than the most hateful venomous serpent is in… Read more »

Eric Stampher
Eric Stampher
7 years ago

I like “Theology That Bites”

timothy
timothy
7 years ago

@RFB
 
I will bite as I was on the receiving end of that wrath–or just enough of it to get my attention and make me repent.
That same Holy God who hates sin in all honor and glory and righteousness became a man and was nailed to a tree by us in propitiation of that wrath and judgement. Our model, therefore of hating sin and loving the sinner is God himself.
 
 
 
 
 

timothy
timothy
7 years ago

I like “Theology That Bites”   It makes me uncomfortable–reminiscent of the gnawing of hell.   I would prefer something 19’th century-ish, like this turn of phrase from (the Catholic science fiction writer) John C. Write in his post eviscerating an early critic of J.R.R. Tolkein’s The Fellowship of the Ring One wonders why Mr Auden did not seek out Mr Wilson and punch him handsomely in the nose and break it.   We have several juxtapositions here. 1.  Perfect prose with a powerful punch. 2. Handsome violence. 3. Robust gentleness   Theology that bites…its too much like the times… Read more »

timothy
timothy
7 years ago

P.S.
LOL!
I just realized that the recipient of the handsome punch in the nose is a Mr. Wilson. I assure you Pastor that that realization did not happen until after I posted my comment and proof-read it; please do not infer any latent hostility on my part!.
cheers!
 
 

Robert
Robert
7 years ago

There is a great video on youtube where Michael Crighton describes from an anthropological point of view 

Robert
Robert
7 years ago

In which environmentalism is religion. 

carole
carole
7 years ago

my 2 cents as well (not that you are taking a poll :)) is “furious scribblings” was too good to give up and more descriptive of your blog.  ‘theology that bites back” sounds like a reviewers comment on one of your books…On the other hand, I am just grateful for the blog, whatever you choose to name it.

RFB
RFB
7 years ago

timothy,
 
I do see the love of God in the cross; I have to since that is what He calls it.
 
Where my question falls is in Edwards’ seeming description of not the sin (solely) being hated but the sinner himself. It seems (again, I am not staking out a position here, but asking a question based upon my observation), apparent that Edwards’ words have the cross-hairs firmly fixed upon the offender, not the offense.

timothy
timothy
7 years ago

@RFB
 
Interesting perspective. I will give Edward’s a closer read next time I run into it. thx

timothy
timothy
7 years ago

+1 on Carole’s comment.

Ray Nearhood
Ray Nearhood
7 years ago

RFB,Concerning “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” – what you quote is right.  God does, in fact, hate the sinner insofar as the sinner is an enemy of God (“The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers.” – Psalm 5:5).  God loves with a perfect love and hates with a perfect hate.

I am not God.  “Love the sinner, hate the sin” applies to me. 

RFB
RFB
7 years ago

Ray, Yes, I have heard the “I am not God” rationale. With that said, (and not rejecting the premise that none of us are God), Pastor Wilson has made (in my opinion) a cogent argument that goes somewhat like “since God commands us to be like Him, then that means in all respects”. That includes hating as He hates. (And if I am misrepresenting Pastor Wilson regarding this, it is in ignorance on my part and with no malicious intent.) Similar in that since we are to emulate God’s love, then we are to emulate His hate as well. Otherwise,… Read more »

RFB
RFB
7 years ago

Thought this after I finished the above: So,  does the proclamation of God’s hatred of him (as Edwards does) constitute ‘loving the sinner”?

Dan
Dan
7 years ago

I also prefer “furious scribblings” over “theology that bites back”.  I would suggest something like “theology for the real world” or “theology that confronts the culture”.  But I love the blog either way, so it’s a small matter.

Dan
Dan
7 years ago

Since some of the comments have focused on the concept of “hate,” I thought I’d weigh in on the subject as well.  It is true the people in general, especially those outside the faith, struggle with the idea of God hating anything.  I think this is because most people’s general conception of God is that He’s a God of love.  Therefore, any notion of God hating something seems too difficult to comprehend.  For many, the word “hate” seems to evoke feelings that are contrary and inconsistent when ascribed to a God of love.  Thus, many even struggle with the common maxim of “hate the… Read more »

timothy
timothy
7 years ago

Dan,
Excellent points.
 

Charlie
Charlie
7 years ago

At some level (and I certainly don’t claim to know the mind of God completely) He DOES hate sinners before they are made alive and repent. He does not cast their sins into eternal torment in hell, He casts them in. His hatred for sin is so great that it would seem it extends to the sinner. His love for the sinner is so great that He sacrificed His Son to remove that sin. A great paradox, to be sure, but I’m ok with not comprehending God. If I were to fully comprehend Him, that would make me greater than… Read more »

RFB
RFB
7 years ago

Dan, Thanks for the reply. The problem of God hating someone or thing does not cause me any emotional angst whatsoever. I think that my most frequent reaction to the descriptive terms that He uses when He describes His hated and anger is fear. God says that we should fear Him, and I think that anything that subtracts from that is not good; He is not cuddly or doting or casual in His holiness, The God Who is high and lifted up.   Charlie,   Your response is closer to my understanding; I am not trying to “fully comprehend Him”… Read more »

RFB
RFB
7 years ago

Dan,
 
And I do not think that it is a problem when I said “The problem of God hating someone or thing …”. I meant it in terms of someone who might think it to be a problem. I think that these are all His attribute,s but that man tries to soften the edges of the ones (attributes) that actually offend man’s sensitivities.

Dan
Dan
7 years ago

RFB, thanks for your reply.  You said: “The problem of God hating someone or thing does not cause me any emotional angst whatsoever.”  Just want to clarify that I was primarily referring to those outside the community of faith, since oftentimes their culturally driven perception of hate obscures the meaning of the word and thus affects their judgment about who God is and how God acts.  As believers, I agree that the notion of God “hating” is not as problematic.  It certainly doesn’t mean we can grasp it fully, since we’re finite beings with limited understanding.  But it’s evident in Scripture how God feels… Read more »

Dan
Dan
7 years ago

Charlie, good point: “He does not cast their sins into eternal torment in hell, He casts them in.”

Ryan
Ryan
7 years ago

Wilson, often when regarding sexual immorality, these blog posts comment on people’s attitudes toward homosexuality. Yet, you seem to suggest that there is a problem with people’s attitude toward to sexuality generally rather than just homosexuality. I request a post regarding sexuality as it refers to heterosexual relationships. Posts about the immorality of homosexuality have the benefit of gathering people against a common enemy, but don’t confront people about their own sexual relationships. If there is something wrong with our regard to sexuality generally, it would seem that there should be something wrong with other facets of sexuality, apart from… Read more »

RFB
RFB
7 years ago

Ryan,   If you research Pastor Wilson’s writings you will find equal opportunity reproof, not just regarding sodomy. He has repeated underscored the sexual rebellion that has and is occurring in our culture.   But, I think that it is important to note that the sins involving “strange flesh” are in a unique class with a city whose very name has behavior linked to it: “And the Lord said, “Because the outcry against Sodom…is great, and because their sin is very grave, I will go down now and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry against it… Read more »