When Preaching the Gospel Isn’t Preaching the Gospel

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As the diameter of our cultural sinkhole continues to widen, a few words are necessary for those Christians who want to check out of the SQCW — scare-quoted culture wars. Why all this emphasis on the sins of those worshiping the great god Orgasm? Why are conservative Christians so obsessed with sex?

This charge stings . . . but only those who have prepared themselves emotionally to be stung by it. When stung, they can turn and say, “Yes, exactly. We want to have a real gospel emphasis. There is no need for us to be so ‘political.’ When we are political this way, it is utterly divisive, and it turns people away from Jesus.”

And you go from left to right . . .
And you go from left to right . . .

The words are spoken soothingly enough, but what it amounts to is full and complete surrender. And by surrender, I do not mean a surrender of the Republican party, or of the goals of our traditional values coalition. This is no “culture war” surrender, but rather a surrender of the gospel. Emphasizing the gospel alone in this way is a denial of the gospel.

This unctuous sort of reassurance is like asking why an oncologist is so obsessed with cancer. The reason he is “obsessed” with it is that he knows what he is there for. He knows his business. The good news of an effective cancer treatment is good news that requires a bad news backdrop.
Certain kinds of good news can just drop on you out of the blue — an unexpected inheritance, say. But there is another kind of good news that depends for its efficacy on a deep realization of bad news — a pardon from the governor for a prisoner on death row. News of a pardon makes no sense if you have no awareness of your execution in the morning.

The gospel is good news of this second sort. Jesus was named named Jesus because He was going to save His people from their sins (Matt. 1:21). And this is why the gospel itself has the objective content of the Apostles’ Creed, and is defined as who Jesus is and what He did (1 Cor. 15:1-4).

But the gospel proclaimed does not begin with who Jesus is and what He did. It begins with who we are and what we did. The good news is to be preached, but always as the second step. The first step is preaching the bad news, we preach the law. We preach the character of God, which is holy. That means that all our unholiness stands condemned.

And when we preach the law, we are declaring two things. The first is the lost condition of the people who are under the condemnation of the law. They are in sin, and under wrath. The second follows from the first — the moral necessity of turning from this sin to God. God commands men to repent. “And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:” (Acts 17:30). It is not optional.

Our word conversion comes from the Latin word converto, which means ” I turn around.” Think of it this way. We are facing the damnation wall, and with our backs to the wall of salvation. When we are converted, there is one motion of turning. It is only one motion, and in the mind of the one turning, it is an integrated act. But that one motion could be described in different ways by observers. One person could say he turned away from the damnation wall. Another could say he turned toward the salvation wall. A third person could include both, saying he turned away from one and toward the other. This is how repentance and believing work. Repentance is turning away, and believing is turning toward. They can be distinguished, but they cannot be separated.

And this is why the objective gospel is routinely placed second when the Scriptures talk about God’s intervention on our behalf.

“And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.” (Mark 1:15).

“But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance” (Acts 26:20).

Now we live in a generation wholly given over to the lusts of the flesh, and underneath those sins, supporting them completely, is our dedication to the idol of individual choice. A dedication to these idols has been present with us for some time, but hidden away from public view. But now in the last decade, our monstrosities have all been brought out and erected in the public square, so that we may all join hands and dance around them.

And Christians are being commanded not to testify to the sinfulness of this public display. Some Christians are inclined to go along with this, but they want to cover up their cowardice with a fine-sounding phrase. “Just preach the gospel” is such a fine-sounding phrase, but the problem is that this is such a time when preaching the gospel isn’t preaching the gospel.

Evangelism, preaching Christ to those outside the church, can only be conducted among the people who are participating in this irrational frenzy. They have organized all their affairs in accordance with it. They catechize in accordance with it. They discipline in accordance with it. If you are not prepared to confront that rebellion, then you have abandoned evangelism in this generation.

Forget about (for the moment) the culture war. Forget about (for the moment) passing any laws. Pick a person at your corporate offices, say the lesbian who is organizing all the rainbow week activities. Start praying for her salvation, and ask God to use you as His instrument in the process. Now ask yourself if there is any way for her to come to faith without confronting the fact of her sin.

Name me an evangelist who represents all those Christians who have an aversion to “culture wars,” who nonetheless goes out into the unbelieving world to declare boldly that becoming a follower of Jesus means repenting of both sin and individual sins, and that such common sins in our era include fornication, adultery, porn, sodomy, and so on.

Those who are soft on the culture wars are soft on evangelism, in the same way, in same areas, and for the same reasons.

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Bob Ewell
Bob Ewell
5 years ago

This hits the nail on the head. A person can not turn away from sin, and to Christ, without being made aware of their sin. Very few folks, Christian or not, do not find this process somewhere between uncomfortable and painful(and in cases where they do not fully embrace and/or understand God’s grace, it can be overwhelming). What I see many folks doing is mistakenly place the source of this “pain” on the person who reveals the sin, and the need to repent, rather than on what needs to be revealed for healing(the sin). This leads to Christians saying “what… Read more »

ffsimon
ffsimon
5 years ago

But the world will hate us if we preach the gospel in this way. Who can stand the hate?

Bob Ewell
Bob Ewell
5 years ago
Reply to  ffsimon

So, does it really come down to Christians using the excuse they don’t want to hate, to avoid having to face the hate?

Duells Quimby
Duells Quimby
5 years ago
Reply to  ffsimon

I find there are two ways to deal with the hate. If you take the hate on and internalize it that they hate you and you gone done them wrong, then yes that would tend to keep you away as you would from walking through a campfire. If on the other hand, you realize that it is not you they hate, but God and his ways, then you can feel compassion for them. Not in a way that they aren’t responsible for their hate, or that you’re minimizing it in some way. But you can see what they really hate,… Read more »

"A" dad
"A" dad
5 years ago
Reply to  ffsimon

Luke 6:22-24

22 Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.

23 “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.

Felicia, we can’t stand this by ourselves. If we are obeying God, He will grant us the means to perservere. The guy who writes this blog appears to be hanging in there, despite all the hate.

ME
ME
5 years ago
Reply to  "A" dad

Kids sometimes hate you when you tell them to stop trying to play in traffic or you say no about something.That is the nature of genuine love, however. It calls us to do what is right for others, not what will win us their approval.

ffsimon
ffsimon
5 years ago
Reply to  "A" dad

Yes, I know this. I know that you can’t avoid the hate for long time if you preach the gospel faithfully. I admire the guy who writes this blog for doing exactly this, preaching the gospel faithfully. and getting the hate..

Nick E
Nick E
5 years ago

Yes we should be willing to call out sexual sins for what they are. But why on Earth would we choose politicians as the messengers? Why does it matter what our very secular nation calls a “marriage”. If none of the marriage laws had changed in the last 20 years would that have made anyone’s marriage stronger today? And even if it would, what good is such a change if it isn’t coupled with Faith? If I don’t cheat on my wife because I’ll be stoned isn’t that different from me not cheating on my wife because I love her… Read more »

Christopher Casey
Christopher Casey
5 years ago
Reply to  Nick E

“I don’t think gay marriage helped or hurt anyone’s marriage.”
It hurts the marriages of gay people.

katecho
katecho
5 years ago
Reply to  Nick E

Wilson has pointed out that it is one thing when a sexual sin, or a murder, happens in a city, but that it is quite another problem when everyone in the city is required to approve of that sexual sin, or that abortion, and call it normal. In one case you have sin in a city, but in the other case you have a sin city. If a tyrant dictator says he will murder only one citizen, and that all of the rest of the population will be kept safe if they just don’t protest it, then the dictator has… Read more »

Nick E
Nick E
5 years ago
Reply to  katecho

I’m not saying we should accept the cultural normalization of sin. I’m saying politics is not a good venue for us to do that in.

timothy
timothy
5 years ago
Reply to  Nick E

We should use all the tools available to us all the time. Politics was effective until the judiciary decided to make stuff up. http://joshblackman.com/blog/2015/11/29/posner-the-14th-amendment-is-old-cryptic-or-vague-but-what-about-article-iii/

katecho
katecho
5 years ago
Reply to  Nick E

The sad truth is that Christians have already capitulated to normalization of sin in many areas of life, including politics. Some have even done so on theological grounds, saying that Jesus has no interest in the nations, asserts no lordship over secular life, and only wants to have a private relationship in the inner heart of believers. This is just not the Gospel of a new King of kings. However, if Nick E’s point is that our task is not to simply grasp for the levers of political power in a top-down fashion, then I completely agree. God isn’t calling… Read more »

Lance Roberts
5 years ago
Reply to  Nick E

It matters because the nation that redefines what God defines is going against God and will face affliction for that choice.

Nick E
Nick E
5 years ago
Reply to  Lance Roberts

I think the issue is conflating what Congress does and what the church does. I don’t consider a resolution in Congress about the morality of X to be worth the paper it’s printed on. Congress moves money around very well. It is a bad place to have theological discussions.

Christopher Casey
Christopher Casey
5 years ago
Reply to  Nick E

But people in the church doing x care what congress says about the morallity of x.

timothy
timothy
5 years ago

It is their responsibility to care and to act.

Nick E
Nick E
5 years ago

I can declare a politician or an entire party to be wrong without a politician of my own. We can perhaps even lobby without having our own party. I view the political arena as a literal pigsty. Once you wrestle the pigs you end up dirty. Worse still, wolves in sheeps clothing have fooled us into bad alliances more than once.

Christopher Casey
Christopher Casey
5 years ago
Reply to  Nick E

If you refuse to wrestle the pigs you may end up being trampled by them.

If enough people listen to your decleration then you are your own politician with your own party.

Lance Roberts
5 years ago
Reply to  Nick E

I definitely don’t care too much about resolutions. I’m much more interested in the law being based on eternal objective definitions instead of man-made ever-changing ones.

Len
Len
5 years ago
Reply to  Nick E

In telling politicians they need to consider God’s commands when formulating and enacting laws, we also need to include the reasons for this. That they have been appointed by God to protect those whom they govern from evil and that what is evil is defined by God, not themselves or the prevailing culture. They also have to be told that they face damnation for not just their own “personal” sins, but they fall under additional condemnation for failing to carry out their God ordained duties as governors. Then they need to be told that God has provided the only means… Read more »

Nick E
Nick E
5 years ago
Reply to  Len

And politicians should be told what the church believes. But we can do that without a politician of our own. We can do that as the church (independent and free) as opposed to a loosely held together hodgepodge of untrustworthy politicians beholden to the highest bidders.

ashv
ashv
5 years ago
Reply to  Nick E

Romans 1 says that not only are those who do these things condemned, but also those who approve of others doing them.

If you don’t want “politicians” to serve as the messengers to suppress public wickedness, what do you want? Street gangs?

jillybean
jillybean
5 years ago
Reply to  ashv

But withholding approval does not mean attempting to use the power of the state to eliminate sin. I can disapprove of a chronically adulterous liar and heartbreaker without pressing my congressman to introduce legislation banning adultery.

ashv
ashv
5 years ago
Reply to  jillybean

The purpose of the state is not to eliminate sin, but to suppress its public manifestation – both public sinful acts and the public approval of them.

jillybean
jillybean
5 years ago
Reply to  ashv

How would you eliminate public approval? I mean, even if the state criminalized sodomy, would you want the state to criminalize people making public speeches in support of it?

ashv
ashv
5 years ago
Reply to  jillybean

Of course. Russia has done this, for example. Hopefully other nations will do similarly.

jillybean
jillybean
5 years ago
Reply to  ashv

Would this apply to all sins or only sexual ones? Should the state criminalize backbiting, slander, cursing, and failing to keep the Sabbath?

ashv
ashv
5 years ago
Reply to  jillybean

Let’s get the easy questions right and then we can tackle more difficult stuff like that. (Blasphemy has of course been a criminal act in many Christian societies and slander remains an actionable offense in most Western legal systems.)

ffsimon
ffsimon
5 years ago
Reply to  ashv

What Russia is doing lately, is to pose as a defender of traditional Christian values against the depravity that comes from west, especially from America. They can fool many in their effort to fuel the hate against Americans. They had this stance on sodomy when they were communists, as it was the case in my country, Romania. It is sad to see this shift towards Russia in many people around here, people that used to love America. I still believe and hope, that even though it seems that progressives took over America, the Christians there will resist. It will be… Read more »

timothy
timothy
5 years ago
Reply to  ffsimon

A Catholic sight I follow states that Russia was consecrated by JPII.

As for Americans resisting, we are. Our governments seek to disarm us and we are refusing. It is now common, in casual conversations to mention the coming civil war and to have the conversation continue in agreement. (I chatted with a retried Naval Aviator yesterday and the discussion of gun confiscation and civil war came up and continued w/o batting an eyelash)

America’s government does not represent its Christian people. God is here (and there) and actively working. Things will get better.

ffsimon
ffsimon
5 years ago
Reply to  timothy

I don’t know what you mean by “Russia was consecrated by JPII”. Sometime I don’t get all the expressions you people use :)

timothy
timothy
5 years ago
Reply to  ffsimon

JPII is the late John Paul II. “consecrated” is a Catholic thing. I am not sure what it means, but what I “think” it means is that Russia is now God’s.

Maybe jillybean can chime in.

hth.

ashv
ashv
5 years ago
Reply to  ffsimon

I have no particular affinity for Russia. But posing as a defender of Christendom is better than accepting Americanism. I love my neighbourhood, city, and state. But there’s nothing about “America”, other than its associated geography, left to love.

ME
ME
5 years ago
Reply to  jillybean

That’s actually a real conundrum, because the state IS power. What the state with holds approval from, disapproves of, is going to be an exercise in power.
Consider our current politically correct culture, technically it’s not really illegal to say or think something deemed hateful and incorrect, but you sure will pay a price.

Nick E
Nick E
5 years ago
Reply to  ashv

I want the church to be the messenger. Why are their only two options?

ashv
ashv
5 years ago
Reply to  Nick E

Because the church doesn’t bear the sword.

timothy
timothy
5 years ago

I was reading Mathew 4 earlier this week and the very first words of Jesus ministry are in verse 17:

17 From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

"A" dad
"A" dad
5 years ago

Acts 2:36-38 36 “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” 37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. “The first step is preaching the bad news, we preach the law. We preach the character of God, which… Read more »

Leslie Lea
Leslie Lea
5 years ago

Where does the work of The Holy Spirit fit into this equation.? From what I learned through my studies of Scripture it is The Holy Spirit who convicts and leads to Jesus and it is Jesus who points the newly saved repentant convicted to God The Father.

"A" dad
"A" dad
5 years ago
Reply to  Leslie Lea

Mother Leslie, Mark 13:10-11 is one of several accounts of how the Spirit works in the lives of godly people. 10 And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. 11 Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit. Godly people should always speak the truth, with the understanding that The Spirit takes the truth to the heart of the hearer. When the truth is offensive to some, the truth speaker, along… Read more »

Leslie Lea
Leslie Lea
5 years ago
Reply to  "A" dad

Actually I think you have the situation reversed.the Holy Spirit takes the truth to the heart and then the Godly people speak the truth to reaffirm what The Spirit has already planted

Christopher Casey
Christopher Casey
5 years ago
Reply to  Leslie Lea

We have to speak the truth to everyone so are you saying that the Holy Spirit has taken the truth to everyones heart?

Dunsworth
Dunsworth
5 years ago
Reply to  Leslie Lea

I think you have it backwards, scripturally. Preaching and exhortation take the word to the ears, and the Holy Spirit applies it to the heart. How can they have the truth unless someone tells it to them? That doesn’t make any sense.

"A" dad
"A" dad
5 years ago
Reply to  Leslie Lea

We both know that the Spirit convicts. How that happens is individual. I think the man born blind had a Mark 13:10-11 experience when he was before the Pharisees .

Ben
Ben
5 years ago

My aversion to the culture wars has less to do with confronting people on their sinful behaviors and more to do with my distaste for statist Christians who wish to force people at gunpoint not to engage in such behaviors. I simply don’t want to be identified with that tendency in conservative American evangelical culture. The problem is that so many people (pretty much everyone I know it seems) have this strange inability to grasp the distinction between behaviors which should be proclaimed immoral and behaviors which should be made illegal. Perhaps it has something to do with being educated… Read more »

"A" dad
"A" dad
5 years ago
Reply to  Ben

What “christians” , “wish to force people at gunpoint”?, to do anything?

You can’t win a culture war, by making false points about ministers and their motives,

“It’s mean, it’s ineffective, and it makes people not like you. I can’t believe that even needs to be said.”

; – )

Ben
Ben
5 years ago
Reply to  "A" dad

A lot of conservative Christians I know just don’t seem very nice. They’re nice in a tribalistic sense, in other words, to people who look, speak, think, and act like them, but they don’t seem to care much for the plight of others who are different from them, who aren’t part of the tribe. Case in point: In the upcoming wars, many evangelicals will be the ones in our society most enthusiastically cheering them on as they escalate, the most eager to bomb the hell out of strange foreign men, women, and children. By any reasonable understanding of the Bible,… Read more »

"A" dad
"A" dad
5 years ago
Reply to  Ben

Some folks thought Christ was pretty dangerous and not nice. That’s why they killed Him.
Ben, you sound very much like a hyperbole addict. ????

Leslie Lea
Leslie Lea
5 years ago
Reply to  "A" dad

The Roman Government thought he was dangerous as did the religious leaders of the day. He was indeed dangerous to them as they thought He would upset their comfortable power structure.

Ben
Ben
5 years ago
Reply to  "A" dad

Not an argument. Sorry.

"A" dad
"A" dad
5 years ago
Reply to  Ben

Nice job dropping the hyperbole! Too bad about the bad rhetoric .
Lots of prophets and witnesses are killed for speaking the truth, a truth which is not “nice”.
That is the reality,
and the argument .

Ben
Ben
5 years ago
Reply to  "A" dad

Still not an argument. There’s a good kind of “nice” which is necessary for the long-term flourishing of society, and you’re equivocating that with simpering fear of speaking the truth.

"A" dad
"A" dad
5 years ago
Reply to  Ben

No, not at all, Jesus and the prophets spoke truth, and were killed by people who had a fear of the truth.
Godly truth may be hard, but it is good. Good does not always equal nice. That is the reality and the argument , much more than your comments are a conversation !????

Ben
Ben
5 years ago
Reply to  "A" dad

“Good does not always equal nice.”

I’m not disputing that. I’m saying that there is a type of “nice” that is also good, i.e. the kind of “nice” that cares enough about others to truly act consciously not to hurt them. Why is this even controversial?

"A" dad
"A" dad
5 years ago
Reply to  Ben

Mark 6 17 For Herod himself had given orders to have John arrested, and he had him bound and put in prison. He did this because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, whom he had married. 18 For John had been saying to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife.” 19 So Herodias nursed a grudge against John and wanted to kill him. But she was not able to, 20 because Herod feared John and protected him, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man.When Herod heard John, he was greatly puzzled[c]; yet he… Read more »

jillybean
jillybean
5 years ago
Reply to  "A" dad

Hi A dad, I don’t think Ben is hyperbolic. If you spend a lot of time reading Christian sites, you encounter some truly remarkable and hostile thinking. The outsider is not in a position to know that one particular pastor might be considered a fruitcake by everyone else; he may take for granted that this one particular pastor is articulating mainstream traditional Christian thought. For example, Scott Lively (the pastor who ran for political office in Massachusetts and who has crusaded against gays in Russia and Uganda) was asked if sodomy is a worse crime than mass murder. He said,… Read more »

"A" dad
"A" dad
5 years ago
Reply to  jillybean

Jilly , I suppose I make a distinction between truth speaking by The Spirit and being obnoxious via partial application of the Word. Both can get the speaker in trouble, truth for the right reasons, obnoxious for the wrong reasons.

ME
ME
5 years ago
Reply to  Ben

“A lot of conservative Christians I know just don’t seem very nice.”

I know, right? There are some really hateful, self righteous, bullies out there calling themselves Christians. Seriously, I hear you. I think the bible calls them wolves in sheeps clothing.

Leslie Lea
Leslie Lea
5 years ago
Reply to  ME

I agree with you

ashv
ashv
5 years ago
Reply to  Ben

Since when was being “nice” a virtue?

jillybean
jillybean
5 years ago
Reply to  ashv

Niceness in itself is not a virtue. Niceness as an integral part of peacefulness, gentleness, compassion, tenderness, and love–now that IS a virtue.

"A" dad
"A" dad
5 years ago
Reply to  Ben

Ben, don’t you find it funny that you paint with as broad a brush as the straw men you speak against?

jeers1215
jeers1215
5 years ago
Reply to  Ben

“I’d be interested to know Doug’s opinion on where he thinks the Christian war fever so prevalent in our society comes from.”

The primary culprit is probably premillenialism. If you believe the modern state of Israel is the prophesied regathering of God’s chosen people, you’re likely to see military adventurism in the Middle East as being tantamount to the meaning of life. Prior to the creation of Israel, all the old school conservatives were anti-war.

Ben
Ben
5 years ago
Reply to  jeers1215

I tend to feel the same way, though I think that’s only a partial explanation. There seems to be a general non-thinking deferential attitude toward the military industrial complex within American Christianity regardless of eschatological leanings. I think Doug would admit to having this attitude himself. When was the last time you heard any conservative evangelical public figure, premillenial or otherwise, show the slightest bit of doubt or skepticism toward our nation’s foreign policy, except to criticize Obama for not being interventionist enough? When the Iraq War started, did we hear any words of caution from these people about the… Read more »

jillybean
jillybean
5 years ago
Reply to  "A" dad

If a state criminalizes an activity, it is going to back that up at gunpoint if necessary. There are many Christians who believe that homosexual behavior should be criminalized and punished. I have read statements from Christian ministers who would, if they could, prohibit any public displays of non-Christian belief and practice. So it is true that there are, in our culture, people who would deal with sin, especially sexual sin, by using the power of the sword. I see abortion as different because abortion kills a living person whom the state has a duty to protect. In a question… Read more »

JohnM
JohnM
5 years ago
Reply to  jillybean

In principle I agree, but then we went from A. homosexual behavior being a punishable crime to B. same sex “marriage”, demonization of everyone who doesn’t applaud, and punishment for those who don’t cooperate. I’d like to think false choice, but if dropping A. eventually gets us to B. which should we prefer? Not that it matters. Genie is out of the bottle now.

Len
Len
5 years ago
Reply to  Ben

The state has been given the “power of the sword” to protect us from evil. It is God who defines what is evil, therefore laws have to conform to His requirements whether we like it or not.
One other thing to consider is that no one want a law passed that would interfere with their favorite sins. Maybe that’s on reason so many Christians are afraid of having laws passed that regulate “morality” as they don’t want to cramp their own style.
Just food for thought.

Ben
Ben
5 years ago
Reply to  Len

So you want someone thrown in jail for having premarital sex then? I hope you can see that you’ve made the very mistake that I was just pointing out. Just because it’s evil doesn’t necessarily mean it should be a crime. Does that make sense? I’m not trying to be snide, I just wonder if I’m a bad communicator on something that seems painfully obvious.

First of all, I hate the sins of pornography, sodomy, fornication, drunkenness, drug consumption, prostitution, etc., and I will speak out against them vehemently. Making these things illegal doesn’t “cramp my style” at all.

timothy
timothy
5 years ago
Reply to  Ben

So you want someone thrown in jail for having premarital sex then?

As a man who engaged in premarital sex, I would support that and the remainder of your list of sins as well.

Laws will not stop those behaviors, but they will push them to outside the society.

Ben
Ben
5 years ago
Reply to  timothy

So you wish that you had been thrown in a cage and raped for months or years for having had premarital sex? Seems a little harsh to me, not to mention selfish, as you would not be producing goods or services for society during that time, instead becoming a leech to satisfy your own need to be punished.

timothy
timothy
5 years ago
Reply to  Ben

What an odd perspective. Man’s purpose in life is not “producing goods and services”.

The deterrence of jail-time would have (hopefully) dissuaded me and kept me from jail.

Ben
Ben
5 years ago
Reply to  timothy

I never said that was man’s purpose in life. No strawmen please. Also, I think it’s kind of funny that you call my perspective odd when your view, if taken to its logical end, would involve throwing people in prison for masturbating.

timothy
timothy
5 years ago
Reply to  Ben

Taking it to its “logical” end would include jailing them for lustful thoughts.

Christopher Casey
Christopher Casey
5 years ago
Reply to  Ben

I’ve told you before that the punishment for x being overly harsh does not mean that x shouldn’t be illegal.

jillybean
jillybean
5 years ago
Reply to  Len

I believe that the state bears the power of the sword to protect us from crime, not sin. God says that envy is evil, yet no one in his senses would suggest that the law should punish the envious. God says we can’t worship graven images, but do you think that the state has any role in preventing people from doing this? Pride is the deadliest of all sins, yet it is beyond the scope of the state. But even if a draconian law could prevent all outward manifestations of sin, we would be no closer to heaven. The state… Read more »

ME
ME
5 years ago
Reply to  jillybean

“..yet no one in his senses would suggest that the law should punish the envious.”

Given our current political climate, I’m pretty sure being in your senses is no longer a requirement.

Dunsworth
Dunsworth
5 years ago
Reply to  jillybean

I agree with you generally, but while it seems obvious that no one wants to punish envy as a sin, plenty of people would like to punish greed. It’s not a matter of everyone agreeing that crimes should be punished and sins should not, but which sins and crimes a given society thinks punishable. In a society where people think that that some sins of the heart (greed, certain kinds of hatred) should be actionable because they are so bad, and others (lust, envy) should not be only because they are really not so bad, you have to establish the… Read more »

Ben
Ben
5 years ago
Reply to  Dunsworth

I’m probably the most hardcore libertarian in these discussions and I can tell you that I’ve never so much as hinted at conceding that “some sins don’t matter.” I’m not a libertine. That’s an entirely different word. You mustn’t worry about people misinterpreting the statement “some sins shouldn’t be crimes” as “some sins don’t matter.” Those who are rational will have a fairly easy time grasping the distinction, and for those who aren’t rational, well, it’s good to provoke foolish and mean people to anger by reminding them of the truth. It’s good to make them uncomfortable in their unreality.… Read more »

Malachi
Malachi
5 years ago
Reply to  jillybean

The gov’t certainly should not punish sins of the heart (such as envy) as “crimes of the heart.” We recoil at the modern notion of “hate crimes” for very sensible reasons!! But when the sins of the heart are acted upon they become “crimes of the body” (such as theft) and we most certainly SHOULD punish those sins as crimes. It is no stretch of the imagination to align our laws with God’s laws when done in righteous ways. But running AWAY from this notion rips the proverbial rug from under our feet when we try to find any other… Read more »

Leslie Lea
Leslie Lea
5 years ago
Reply to  Ben

The culture war has already been list. As has the war on drugs. We,as Christians, would be well advised to look to the Book if Revelation for guidance rather than get our undies in a twist over the culture.

Malachi
Malachi
5 years ago
Reply to  Leslie Lea

The past 150 years’ worth of Christians looking to the escape pod of Revelation parallels very neatly with the past 150 years’ worth of moral decline in the Western world.

I think the correlation is too strong to rule out cause and effect.

ashv
ashv
5 years ago
Reply to  Leslie Lea

The war isn’t lost so long as we live.

“War to the knife. The knife to the hilt.”

ashv
ashv
5 years ago
Reply to  Ben

Why do you believe it’s ineffective? History is full of cultural changes enacted at gun (cannon, sword, etc.) point. Culture is downstream from power.

Ben
Ben
5 years ago
Reply to  ashv

Even if shooting people who do drugs, sell drugs, or refuse to pay taxes to support the war on drugs could actually stop people from using drugs (which of course it can’t, as has been proven), it’s still immoral. Should we start shooting people who fornicate? It might actually stop some people from doing it, but the million dollar question is, do the ends justify the means? I leave it to you to ponder that question.

jillybean
jillybean
5 years ago
Reply to  Ben

C. S. Lewis once said, “If anyone thinks that Christians regard unchastity as the supreme vice, he is quite wrong. The sins of the flesh are bad, but they are the least bad of all sins. All the worst pleasures are purely spiritual: the pleasure of putting other people in the wrong, of bossing and patronizing and spoiling sport, and back-biting; the pleasure of power, and hatred….a cold, self-righteous prig who goes regularly to church may be far nearer to hell than a prostitute.” I am not sure that we are acting as if we really believe that. We could… Read more »

ME
ME
5 years ago
Reply to  jillybean

Amen, you said just what I was thinking. Most of these sexual sins are far more interesting to us, but really they are only the symptoms of something else that is deeply rooted. Many Christians like to try to cure the symptoms, leaving the whole disease untreated.

Leslie Lea
Leslie Lea
5 years ago
Reply to  jillybean

An excellent sermon I recently heard stated that the sins of the flesh are not as great as sins of the spirit. Those who are under sins of the flesh know very well that they are sinning, those who are under sins of the spirit are totally unaware.

timothy
timothy
5 years ago
Reply to  jillybean

Jilly,

There is a progression to sanctification and you stated it here. You wrote “sexual sins were the easiest to give up”.

If we think of sanctification as ‘mastering a new thing’ then it is consistent with human nature to start small and work up.

Baby steps precede Iron Man triathlons.

Malachi
Malachi
5 years ago
Reply to  jillybean

Lewis, bless his heart, was not infallible.

I think it is worth noting what God calls an abomination.
* a lying tongue (perjury, false witness)
* many sexual sins (adultery, homosexuality, bestiality, rape)
* false justice (dishonest scales, freeing the wicked/punishing the righteous)
* idolatry (false worship, sacrifices to other gods, faithlessness)
* cross-dressing (trans-gender, effeminate men/masculine women)
* sorcery (witchcraft, consorting with demons)
* murder (sacrificing children, abortion, shedding innocent blood)

If we would only align our thoughts with God’s thoughts…we’re FAR too light on these kinds of things.

ashv
ashv
5 years ago
Reply to  Ben

Do you think the death penalty could ever be appropriate for a couple caught in the act of adultery?

jillybean
jillybean
5 years ago
Reply to  ashv

I’m not Ben but I don’t think it ever could be (outside the pages of Nathaniel Hawthorne). That being said, I am sorry that it has become so much accepted in our society. When I was a child, my family physician lost his practice for running off with his partner’s wife. It was considered sordid and horrible and incredibly dishonorable. I think social penalties, such as facing the scorn of people who feel that way, play a strong role in restricting vice.

ashv
ashv
5 years ago
Reply to  jillybean

What do you do with Leviticus 20:10, then?

jillybean
jillybean
5 years ago
Reply to  ashv

Well, remember that I am Catholic and we don’t see those laws exactly as you do. We believe adultery is a mortal sin which, unrepented, will land you straight into hell. But we don’t see it as a capital offense today. For me to explain why, I would have to dig up some Catholic theology. Which I will if you are interested.

ashv
ashv
5 years ago
Reply to  jillybean

I am not saying it has to be understood as applying in all places and times. But it also shows it should not be unthinkable as part of some society’s civil law.

Malachi
Malachi
5 years ago
Reply to  jillybean

This is only true and effective when the society agrees that sin is sordid, horrible, and incredibly dishonorable. But when the husband is jailed for assault after decking the paramour for making a pass at his wife, society has flipped their notions of sin, justice, and honor on their respective heads.
I would think the changing whims of social penalties to be a very flimsy standard for restricting vice, actually. Why NOT an immutable and righteous Standard?

ashv
ashv
5 years ago
Reply to  Ben

Also you’re moving the goalposts now. You started at “you can’t change the culture by force” and now you’re merely saying one shouldn’t.

JohnM
JohnM
5 years ago
Reply to  ashv

“Culture is downstream from power.” Mmm. That could be. Might you expound? The way we hear it most often is “Politics is downstream from culture”. Which, sounds true also, except in my own lifetime I’ve seen attitudes change with the law, sometimes virtually overnight. Been trying to sort it out in my mind – culture then politics, or vice versa? Anyone?

Ben
Ben
5 years ago
Reply to  JohnM

It’s more complex than that. As the culture becomes more evil, the political class adapts to appeal to that, using their guns to enforce more evil laws, which wreaks further havoc on the physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being of society, and on and on the cycle goes. It’s not like its 100% one or the other, but they feed off each other.

ashv
ashv
5 years ago
Reply to  JohnM

Exactly what you said. Same-sex mirage went from laughable to legal in less than 20 years. Did the culture do a 180 on its own? Or did people with the power to make it happen change things?

Dunsworth
Dunsworth
5 years ago
Reply to  ashv

How did people with the power to make it happen, become the powerful ones, in a republic?

ashv
ashv
5 years ago
Reply to  Dunsworth

In a society where political decisions, at least in theory, are controlled by popular opinion, the people with the most power are the ones who control popular opinion. Specifically, the media and universities. This of course is only part of the picture, because most governmental decisions are not made by elected officials, but by members of the permanent government, such as regulators, judges, and other civil servants.

"A" dad
"A" dad
5 years ago
Reply to  Dunsworth

Lady Dunsworth, much of the problem is abuse of process, via lawsuits intended to circumvent legislative process .????

jillybean
jillybean
5 years ago
Reply to  Ben

Nor does it help with the culture wars when high profile Christian clergy make statements that strike most people as insane. Scott Lively: “Yes, from God’s perspective as revealed in His Word, homosexuality is worse than mass murder.”

timothy
timothy
5 years ago
Reply to  Ben

I share that aversion. To convince those types of people (the late Jerry Falwell comes to mind) you will need an air-tight scriptural case.

Malachi
Malachi
5 years ago
Reply to  Ben

I assume that by “gunpoint” and “pointing guns” and “shooting people” you are referring to the Biblical concept of the government not “bearing the sword in vain” or the notions of capital punishment, versus the concepts of vigilante justice and anarchy. On that assumption, which is fair to you, I must ask whether you think there is NO Biblical basis for executing criminals in 2015, neverminding our current laws. If you think there is not, then you have consciously wiped out huge portions of God’s Word, and that requires some fancy explaining–if you do, in fact, believe the Bible to… Read more »

Benjamin Bowman
5 years ago

Just because they tell you to “preach the Gospel” doesn’t mean they actually want you to do it.

ME
ME
5 years ago

Well said. So many people today seem to have forgotten that the message of the cross is downright scandalous. It is sure to cause offense in some quarters. There is simply no way to speak the Truth to anyone and create comfort around it.

Scott Jacobsen
Scott Jacobsen
5 years ago

I’ve been told we need to be more “winsome,” by a budding megachurch pastor whose evangelism strategy is mostly transfer growth and shuttering smaller congregations.

We live in the best of times and the worst of times, to quote someone a long while ago.

"A" dad
"A" dad
5 years ago
Reply to  Scott Jacobsen

Winsome is ok as long as we are as winsome as Elija at a baal-fest.????
Otherwise, winsome is over rated.

bethyada
5 years ago

Why are conservative Christians so obsessed with sex?

Except I am not sure they are. As I encounter the secular world on and off line the secularists are more obsessed. Yet when they react to the cultural effusion the Christians are accused of obsession.