Answering Four Street-Level Arguments for Sexual Immorality

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Answering Four Street-Level Arguments for Sexual Immorality

By Matt Chandler

As fallen human beings we tend to explain away or excuse our sin. We all do it. It’s part of our desires to justify ourselves apart from the blood of Christ.

So below are four street-level excuses we commonly use to justify our sexual sin coupled with answers.

1. My sexual choices aren’t hurting anyone else.

I call this the Golden Rule idea. If it’s not hurting anyone else, what could be wrong with it? If a guy is sleeping with his girlfriend and the two of them are consenting adults, why should the church condemn that behavior? Likewise, if a woman wants to be in a monogamous sexual relationship with another woman, why does it matter as long as it’s not harming anyone else?

The truth is, sexual sin does harm us. It’s a sin against the body.

We also must remember that the Golden Rule (love your neighbor) is second to the greatest commandment (love God with your whole self). Jesus said clearly in the Gospel of John that those who love him obey his commands (see John 14:15). In other words, “If you love me, obey me.”

When you place the Golden Rule within the framework of biblical teaching, you see that sexual sin is a sin against our own bodies and is ultimately a sign of our rebellion against the God who made us.

2. We’re all sinners, so who are you to judge?

Whenever Christians affirm Jesus’ vision for human sexuality, we are often greeted with the comeback line “So you’re perfect, then?”

The critics have a point here. The Bible shows us up as sexual sinners—all of us. But the real issue is repentance. The question is not “Do I sin?” but “Am I walking in repentance?”

Christians ought never to feel superior to others. We’re sinners too. The question is about repentance. Are we turning from sin and embracing Jesus?

3. Jesus never talked about homosexuality.

This objection is only half true. When it comes to dealing with the topic explicitly, Jesus did not speak to the subject, so far as we know from Scripture. But there is a sense in which Jesus did address this issue.

In Matthew 15:18-19, we read: “But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander.” The word for “sexual immorality” covers all sorts of behaviors condemned in the Old and New Testaments.

Furthermore, when asked about divorce, Jesus went back to God’s design in creation to show how men and women were to relate to one another. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus built on the Old Testament understanding of morality and even went beyond it—calling us out for lust.

4. Sexual promiscuity is seen in nature.

Sometimes people will condemn faithfulness between a husband and wife (monogamy) or the Christian view of homosexual behavior by appealing to nature. As long as animals aren’t monogamous and as long as we see some animals behaving in same-sex ways, then why would we condemn adultery or homosexuality or sex outside of marriage? If it’s in nature, it must be natural.

This line of thinking denigrates the dignity of human beings, implying we are nothing more than our sexual passions. If we roll out that argument, we arrive in a scary place. We know of certain insects where the male impregnates the female and the female turns around and eats the male. Who wants that as the norm for humans?

What’s worse, those who believe in evolutionary theory adopt the principle “survival of the fittest.” Do we want to imply, for example, that people with same-sex attractions are genetically weaker than other human beings? Of course not! Appealing to nature to justify any kind of sexual immorality is a dead end leading us to see people with less dignity, not more.

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Editors’ note: This article is adapted from The Gospel Project’s Winter 2013-2014 Bible study on “A God-Centered Worldview.” Check out options for adults and students andkids. 

Thou Hast Done

A Hymn To God The Father

BY TULLIAN TCHIVIDJIAN

The hymn below by English poet and cleric John Donne (1572-1631) says it all: God meets my ongoing sin with his inexhaustible forgiveness. 70 times 7.

Jesus is GreaterMy friend Shane Rosenthal sent me a note explaining that, according to some commentators, there is double meaning in the line, “Thou hast done” which repeats throughout the poem. It obviously refers to that which God has done for Donne in contrast to that which Donne has done (and continues to do). But the other meaning, especially clear in the last stanza, is a play on the poet’s own name: “Thou hast Donne.” It is his realization that despite his weak grip on God, God’s grip on him is perfect and forever, that finally ends his fears.

It never ceases to amaze me that, if you are in Christ, you can never, ever, ever outsin the coverage of God’s forgiveness. Amazing love…how can it be?

WILT Thou forgive that sin where I begun,
Which was my sin, though it were done before?
Wilt Thou forgive that sin, through which I run,
And do run still, though still I do deplore?
When Thou hast done, Thou hast not done,
For I have more.

Wilt Thou forgive that sin which I have won
Others to sin, and made my sin their door?
Wilt Thou forgive that sin which I did shun
A year or two, but wallowed in a score?
When Thou hast done, Thou hast not done,
For I have more.

I have a sin of fear, that when I have spun
My last thread, I shall perish on the shore ;
But swear by Thyself, that at my death Thy Son
Shall shine as he shines now, and heretofore;
And having done that, Thou hast Donne ;
I fear no more.

Blessed are the Forgiven

   
    Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven,
whose sin is covered.
Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity,
and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

    For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah

    I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,”
and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah

    Therefore let everyone who is godly
offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found;
surely in the rush of great waters,
they shall not reach him.
You are a hiding place for me;
you preserve me from trouble;
you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah

    I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding,
which must be curbed with bit and bridle,
or it will not stay near you.

    Many are the sorrows of the wicked,
but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the LORD.
Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous,
and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!
(Psalm 32 ESV)

Abounding Grace and Sin

“Abounding grace, rightly understood, will not make you sin; it will not relax morality or make inconsistency a trifle.  It will magnify sin and enhance its evil in your eyes.  Your footing or “standing” in grace (Rom. 5:2) will be the strongest, as well as most blessed, that you can every occupy.  If your feed be “shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace” (Eph. 6:15), you will be able to “stand” and to “withstand”; not otherwise.”
Horatius Bonar (Follow the Lamb)

Dear Mr. Antinomian

I came across this “open letter” on the Resurgence blog and found it amusing and a great insight on the radial power of God’s grace.  For some reason, even Christians seem to have difficulty in believing that God’s grace is as powerful as the Bible declares.  Maybe it is due to our vast experience with the power of our sinful nature – its ability to overwhelm our human desires and attempts to do that which is good (Romans 7:7-25) – that leads to our lack of belief in the power of God’s grace.  Yet, if we say that we believe the truth of the Bible, does it not make sense to believe that the power of God’s grace abounds more than sin (Romans 6:18-21)?  In comparison to the rushing flood of grace’s power, sin is but a dripping faucet. Imagine the wonderful impact in the lives of people if we actually accepted the truth of the radical nature of God’s grace, allowing it to run freely in our lives.

Dear Mr. Antinomian (Resurgence)

An Introduction from Tullian Tchividjian:

There seems to be a fear out there that the preaching of radical grace produces serial killers. Or, to put it in more theological terms, too much emphasis on the indicatives of the gospel leads to antinomianism (a lawless version of Christianity that believes the directives and commands of God don’t matter). My problem with this fear is that I’ve never actually met anyone who has been truly gripped by God’s amazing grace in the gospel who then doesn’t care about obeying him. As I have said before: antinomianism happens not when we think too much of grace. Just the opposite, actually. Antinomianism happens when we think too little of grace.

Wondering whether this common fear is valid, my dear friend Elyse Fitzpatrick (in C.S. Lewis fashion) writes an open letter to Mr. Grace-Loving Antinomian–a person she’s heard about for years but never met–asking him to please step forward and identify himself.

Enjoy…


Dear Mr. Antinomian,

Forgive me for writing to you in such an open forum but I’ve been trying to meet you for years and we just never seem to connect. While it’s true that I live in a little corner of the States and while it’s true that I am, well, a woman, I did assume that I would meet you at some point in my decades old counseling practice. But alas, neither you nor any of your (must be) thousands of brothers and sisters have ever shown up for my help… So again, please do pardon my writing in such a public manner but, you see, I’ve got a few things to say to you and I think it’s time I got them off my chest.

I wonder if you know how hard you’re making it for those of us who love to brag about the gospel. You say that you love the gospel and grace too, but I wonder how that can be possible since it’s been continuously reported to me that you live like such a slug. I’ve even heard that you are lazy and don’t work at obeying God at all…Rather you sit around munching on cigars and Twinkies, brewing beer and watching porn on your computer. Mr. A, really! Can this be true?

So many of my friends and acquaintances are simply up in arms about the way you act and they tell me it’s because you talk too much about grace. They suggest (and I’m almost tempted to agree) that what you need is more and more rules to live by. In fact, I’m very tempted to tell you that you need to get up off your lazy chair, pour your beer down the drain, turn off your computer and get about the business of the Kingdom.

I admit that I’m absolutely flummoxed, though, which is why I’m writing as I am. You puzzle me. How can you think about all that Christ has done for you, about your Father’s steadfast, immeasurable, extravagantly generous love and still live the way you do? Have you never considered the incarnation, about the Son leaving ineffable light to be consigned first to the darkness of Mary’s womb and then the darkness of this world? Have you never considered how He labored day-after-day in His home, obeying His parents, loving His brothers and sisters so that you could be counted righteous in the sight of His Father? Have you forgotten the bloody disgrace of the cross you deserve? Don’t you know that in the resurrection He demolished sin’s power over you? Aren’t you moved to loving action knowing that He’s now your ascended Lord Who prays for you and daily bears you on His heart? Has your heart of stone never been warmed and transformed by the Spirit? Does this grace really not impel zealous obedience? Hello…Are you there?

Honestly, even though my friends talk about you as though you were just everywhere in every church, always talking about justification but living like the devil, frankly I wonder if you even exist. I suppose you must because everyone is so afraid that talking about grace will produce more of you. So that’s why I’m writing: Will you please come forward? Will you please stand up in front of all of us and tell us that your heart has been captivated so deeply by grace that it makes you want to watch the Playboy channel?

Again, please do forgive me for calling you out like this. I really would like to meet you.

Trusting in Grace Alone,
Elyse

 

Tozer on God’s Great Grace

“No one was ever saved other than by grace…Since mankind was banished from the eastward Garden, none has ever returned to the divine favor except through the sheer goodness of God.  And wherever grace found any man it was always by Jesus Christ.  Grace indeed came by Jesus Christ [John 1:17], but it did not wait for his birth in the manger or His death on the cross before it became operative.  Christ is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world [Revelation 13:8].  The first man in human history to be reinstated in the fellowship of God came through faith in Christ.  In olden times men looked forward to Christ’s redeeming work; in later times they gaze back upon it [Hebrews 11:1-12:2], but always they came and they come by grace through faith [Ephesians 2:8].

We must keep in mind also that the grace of God is infinite and eternal.  As it had no beginning, so it can have no end, and being an attribute of God, it is as boundless as infinite.

Instead of straining to comprehend this as a theological truth, it would be better and simpler to compare God’s grace with our need.  We can never know the enormity of our sin, neither is it necessary that we should. What we can know is that “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” [Romans 5:20].

To “abound” in sin: that is the worst and the most we could or can do.  The word abound defines the limit of our finite abilities; and although we feel our iniquities rise over us like a mountain, the mountain, nevertheless, has definable boundaries: it is so large, so high, it weighs only this certain amount and no more. But who shall define the limitless grace of God?  Its “much more” plunges our thoughts into infinitude and confounds them there.  All thanks be to God for grace abounding.

We who feel ourselves alienated from the fellowship of God can now raise our discouraged heads and look up.  Through the virtues of Christ’s atoning death the cause of our banishment has been removed.  We may return as the Prodigal returned, and be welcome [Luke 15:11-32].

A.W. Tozer (The Knowledge of the Holy, pp. 148-150)

Return, O wanderer, now return,
And seek thy Father’s face;
Those new desires which in thee burn
Were kindled by His grace.

Return, O wanderer, now return,
And wipe the falling tear:
Thy Father calls, – no longer mourn;
‘Tis love invites thee near.
-William Benco Collyer

Smart People Doing Stupid Stuff

When smart people do stupid stuff it causes us to scratch our heads.  An otherwise insightful leader systematically gets rid of his most creative and productive co-workers resulting in a “stable” yet stagnant and crumbling organization.  An otherwise smart person cutting through a dark alley at night in a city as a short cut and wonders why they get robbed.  An avid “texter” washing a cell phone in a sink after dropping it in the dirt.  The once honor student who spends their time getting drunk, skipping classes, and/or using drugs claiming to have life under control while their diminishing GPA tells a starkly different story.  The respected thinker who claims moral relativity yet gets upset when something “bad” happens to them or a family member.  The spiritual scholar who somehow finds a way to get their texts to say the exact opposite of what they actually mean in order to live or endorse their preferred lifestyle.

The list could go on and on.  So, what causes seemingly smart people to do some really stupid stuff?  There can be some more innocent reasons such as ignorance and not thinking things through.  And there can be some less innocent, more self-centered reasons as well.  Sternberg’s Four Fallacies is a list of self-beliefs under the latter category that demonstrate our tendency towards the sins of being self-centered, assuming we are God, and believing we are above the moral law.

1) The Egocentrism Fallacy – The person believes that “it is all about me”.  All the plans and actions center only around their own interests. A sin of being self-centered.
2) The Omniscience Fallacy – While a person may know a great deal about something, they begin to think that they know everything about everything.  A sin of thinking they are God.
3) The Omnipotence Fallacy – The person believes that they are all powerful and can do whatever they want when they want. A sin of thinking they are God, or even better than God since God will not lie or doing anything unrighteous (Hebrews 6:18; Psalm 92:15)
4) The Invulnerability Fallacy – The person believes that they can do what they want and not get caught. If they do get caught, they believe that they will not suffer the consequences, be able to get out of the situation, or fix the situation to their own desires.  A sin of thinking that they are above moral law and there is no Ultimate Judge.

Who do you know who falls into one of those four fallacies?  Which of the fallacies do you find yourself entertaining?