10 August 2012

Moral Imperatives

by Frank Turk

As a lead, Friday is usually "Best of Phil" day, and I have changed it up on you this week because someone on the internet is wrong, and of course my office is holding all my calls until the matter is resolved.  "Best of Phil" will return next week.   BTW, if you are an able-bodied Blogger user and you wanted to join the unpaid and over-worked TeamPyro staff for a thankless job of reviewing the Phil Johnson Archives to provide us with a weekly "Best of" post using an anonymous account and receive no recognition for it, please contact me at frank@iturk.com.

SERIOUSLY.

Also:
[1] Adult theme.  Homeschool families are warned and should act appropriately
[2] Pack a lunch.  This goes way of the 1200-word guideline for posting here.  Again.


I was alerted to this story earlier this week by a concerned reader, and it's one of those stories where all manner of addled thinking comes to the surface from everyone on the spectrum of lifestyle blogging -- from the secular liberals and conservatives to the panoply of Christian bloggers in the weird polygon of ideas bounded by points produced by mixing the adjectives "conservative," "liberal," "radical," "progressive," "traditional," "biblical," and "missional," with the proper noun "Christian."

Let's start here: praising or condemning any private letter without considering context or source is, I think, probably of limited value.  Most people don't write private letters with any thought that they will be shared publicly -- let alone shared on a global platform -- and there ought to be some kind of  filter we have in place to read anything written in that mode.

The other thing we ought to put in place before discussing this is a very simple question: "What must a parent do when his child is trapping himself in a mistake (willful or otherwise)?"  The question is not really changed up a lot when the child is an adult child.  It may actually be a more-important question when the child is an adult because dealing with an adult trapped in a mistake is, in all cases, dealing with a person who is removing all the means at his own disposal frankly to recognize his own ways of destroying himself.  A child can be restrained from destroying himself; an adult will simply do it and be destroyed unless he does what any reasonable adult would do -- and take good advice at face value.  I think it's utterly unquestionable that a loving parent will give the best advice he knows how to give.

But this assumes something which, I think will not be assumed in this discussion: declaring and embracing homosexuality as a lifestyle is a self-destructive mistake.  You know: embracing the homosexual lifestyle is not dangerous because it is likely to make you a target of violent hate crime.  It's true enough that a homosexual is 10 times as likely to be a victim of a hate crime in the United States as the average citizen, but let's unpack that.  According to the FBI, the last year they have a uniform crime report for is 2009.  In that report, in the general population the likelihood of being a victim of a hate crime is 0.2 per 10,000 citizens; being a LGBT victim of a hate crime occurred at a rate of 2 per 10,000 citizens -- which, the be fair, is 10 times as likely, but still not a raging epidemic of violence.  You're five times more likely to be the victim of a fatal traffic accident than you are to be the victim of a LGBT hate-motivated hate crime if you are a homosexual.

But think about this: the CDC reports that when we observe all reported cases of STDs in the United States, 63% of primary and secondary cases of Syphillis occur in the LGBT community.  If that population is, as they say they are, 10% of the population, that means it is 15 times more likely to contract Syphillis in a LGBT lifestyle than it is in the general public.  If the LGBT population is more realistically 3% of the population, it means that the LGBT community is 55 times more likely to contract Syphillis than the average person in the general population.  That's not to mention the problem of AIDS at all.  This isn't happening because there is hate against the LGBT community: this is happening because of how that community conducts itself towards its own members.

So when a father wants to discuss this matter with his son, who is coming out with his confession of his situation, a father ought to be cut some slack if he is deeply and grievously concerned about his son's safety from a strictly secular and humanitarian standpoint.  He ought to be excused if he sees the confession more as a resignation from "inner turmoil" to "active danger" so terrible that in some sense, he wants to give up all hope and protect the rest of his family from the consequences.

But then, from a Christian standpoint, there is a problem greater than self-harm: there is the problem of sin.  A Christian father talks to his son about sin -- not just from an accusatory place as if, as a father, one has arrived at the dizzying heights of human sanctification, but from the place as (one hopes) a battle-scarred soldier in the war against sin in one's own life.  A father, it seems to me, confesses his own sins against his own son when they are apparent to him -- and seeks forgiveness.  So when a Christian father has to talk to his own son about this young fellow's sin, it is not as an impeccable jurist with nothing on the books against himself, but as a known felon who is, at least, confessed as guilty of his crimes -- and working to seek the solution to sin in his own life before seeking to apply it to the unsuspecting lives of others.

They say that you can't "live the Gospel," or "obey the Gospel" (in spite of, for example, 1 Pet 4:17), but you can, in fact, live as if the Gospel is completely true.  It has necessary consequences -- and if you are caught up in all the things you cannot do which Christ must do, you will overlook all the things which you must do if the Gospel is true, and is for you.  For example: living as if we are created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

So to be uncontroversial for a moment, let's imagine that my son came to me and said, "Dad, I have something to tell you, and it's not going to be something you want to hear.  I know something about myself which has always been a part of me, and I just am tired of trying to deny it: I'm a heterosexual, and I'm going to live a heterosexual lifestyle and follow all those desires because that's who God created me to be.  I have to be honest with myself and I can't fight it any longer."



What should my reaction be?  Maybe I could say this: "Son: you are who you are.  Wear the right PPE, keep off the drugs, and make sure you do what makes you happy."

But listen: that's frankly moral malfeasance.   That's ignoring all the things frankly-wrong with embracing physical urges as moral imperatives.  If you said that to a 12-year-old, you would be brought up on charges for fostering delinquency; if you say that to a 25-year-old, you are giving a grown man license to ruin his life and the lives of others.

Before you go on, put my view of it to the test: watch any two episodes of the Maury Povich show (which, unbelievably, is still in new-episode syndication).  Tell me that the version of heterosexuality represented there is just fine -- just what two consenting adults ought to be proud to do.  If that is a totally-acceptable moral way of living, then don't bother to read the rest of this post.  If that way of living is morally-sound either my post here is utterly false, or else you have no way to understand what it is saying.  In either case it will be of no use to you.

My view of it, then, is that somehow the topic of sex is, in anyone's view of it, governed by some set of principles which are not utterly dictated by the reprehensible slogan, "The heart wants what it wants," and all its more-repugnant cognates.  What makes Will Ferrell's oafish lout characters tenable at all is that everyone knows it is utterly and patently obscene to behave that way -- and their failure to see themselves clearly is what makes them laughable (if not actually funny).

But if this is true, what should a father do for his son who has to confess that he must live that lifestyle because that's who God created him to be?  I would say that, in the first place, a letter is not at all adequate.  It would take 10,000 more words to say that in a way which would convict you, but I'll settle for this: you can't mail in your paternal responsibilities to the next generation any more than you can mail in your duties as a husband or even an employee for a decent company.

That said, if it were a letter to be sent, or you wanted to round up your thoughts before sitting down with this young fellow, maybe something like this would work for starters:
Dear Son,

You've made a confession to me that you do not expect me to receive well, and I admit that what you have said has wounded me, because it is not what I wanted for you. In fact, it is not what I still want for you, which is only the best personally, mentally, and spiritually. While it took some sort of single-mindedness on your part to admit this to me, I think it was difficult in part because you knew it would hurt me. I am not going to lie to you: I am, in fact, hurt.

What puzzles me is that you want me to accept this for you and from you when you know I don't think this is what's best for you. I can accept that this is what you want for yourself, and that it seems good to you right now, and that in some sense you cannot help yourself but feel this way. But let's face it: there are many things we know we want which are not even good for us, let alone right or worthwhile.

Since you have made your confession about your situation, let me confess mine: I have never really been a good man at all. I could make a list here of all the times I have failed you, and your mother, and your siblings, and my employer, and the elders at church, and so on -- but I'll bet you can make that list also. You may remember some things I have forgotten, and I'll simply stipulate to the entire exercise. I want you to know that I know I am not a good man, and I come to this problem we now face as a man who, at the end of the day, can't advise you from the moral high ground.

I can only advise you, my son, as a man who has spent his life utterly at the mercy of Jesus Christ.

You know: in some sense, I feel like I love you, so it's easy for me to have done things for you all our life together like buy you clothes and give you a house to live in and feed you and play games with you. But let's face it: every day has not been a day full of duckies and puppies of paternal love overflowing from me to you. Some days I was angry at you, or tired of your shenanigans, or just tired from work and marriage, and I didn't feel loving toward you -- I just felt sort of numb, or worse: burdened by you because you were a handful (as any human being is). In those moments, I was what I know I am, and I didn't want to do what I knew otherwise was right. The difference between those moments and this moment, with you, is that in those moments, I knew that my feelings and urges and dissatisfaction were wrong, and did not justify failing to do the right thing.

Having said that, let me make a confession: there were a lot of those days. That's not because you were especially bad, but because I am. And when I knew my own sin, my own weakness, my own unwillingness to do what I would do if I were full of emotions to point me in a direction that looks so good to other people, I knew that I needed a savior for more than just some kind of final victory: I needed him for a victory today, minute by minute, to become a person grateful for what he has done for me. In some way, I had to remember that the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

So I didn't just accept that Jesus loved me, or even that he died for me -- as if that kind of story really means anything except as a spectacle anyone could watch in a movie. I accepted that his obedience made out of love, which caused him to want to die on a cross for a person like me, was so that I would know how to obey when I was personally out of love, and out of strength, and out of patience, and all that was left was the way I felt when I felt like I wasn't made to do any of this stuff.

Now: so what? What does that have to do with your confession that this is who you really are? It is my answer back to you, which I think somehow you do not expect: this is also who I really am. The difference between you and me is that I think I need to be saved from it, and you think you do not need to be saved, but rather accepted, so that other people's acceptance of your problem is substituted for real redemption and real resolution.

I love you. I want what is best for you. What you are committing to right now is not it. I am willing, after all these years, to die for you, or die with you, in pursuit of putting the sinful things we both face here and now to death. But I cannot tell you that your decision today is the right decision, and I can't tell you that your confession is anything but a resignation to do what is right in your own eyes in spite of what you know to be true about the moral and spiritual order of the world. We both have a problem -- and it is the same problem. Thank God, we both have a solution, and it is the same solution. Please do not toss out the solution, because it is the only one for you. I am praying for you, and will pray for you, and until you accept the solution, I am also weeping for you.

With love in spite of disappointment,

Dad.
Now, consider it: if that makes any sense at all, what ought we to then say to our son who, frankly, changes only one word in that confession?  What if his confession is that he is lazy?  Or full of rage?  or what if he says he wants to be a liar?

Why would we think that we would respond in any way to those things except in this way?

Now in utter seriousness: if the sin is homosexuality, and that is just like all the other sins we would ache over if our son or daughter was convinced it was simply "who they were," why would we not address it just like this -- like the source of death which Christ died to overcome?

Do we not believe the Gospel?  If not: OK, but lets cut the malarkey with the conferences and books and websites and projects with the "G" word in the title.  But if so, let's get ourselves together on this subject.  Let's Gospel Up.  Let's get serious about the reasons we need the Gospel so that we can get serious about expressing it to our friends and children who need it as much as we do.







44 comments:

Robert Warren said...

Good post; excellent letter.
I would add that we might renew the (apparently forfeited) debate over "preference" vs "orientation". Your letter does this, in other words. But many Christians have just given this one up. And words have meanings.

Tom said...

This letter is a much better alternative to those proposed on the other website.

Of course, you didn't mention the practical specifics, such as sleeping arrangements, etc. when your son comes to visit with his lover.

donsands said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
donsands said...

"Let's Gospel Up." Good phrase Cent. And great post.

Some sins for the human heart and soul can be excruciatingly heavy. And we need to deal with them.

Let us Gospel up. Amen.

"Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the Cross of Christ be emptied of its Power."-Paul, 1st Cor. 1:17

Tom Chantry said...

A father, it seems to me, confesses his own sins against his own son when they are apparent to him -- and seeks forgiveness.

That's not a bad quote to tweet - or, for that matter, to print and tape to the bathroom mirror so as to begin each day with our kids considering it.

Johnny Dialectic said...

Your letter is the harder one to write. The original "Dad" expressed surprise that he went "viral." But I am sure he knew he would, and wanted to. It is simple to do: express soft love over and over again when it comes to anything offspring. The secular world "loves" that. But it is indeed fatherly "malfeasance" to paper over a tragedy with a Beatles' lyric.

Merrilee Stevenson said...

That wasn't a long read at all. It was riveting, and I will share it on Facebook, and I hope it goes viral.
5 star loving it!

Bill said...

Frank,
Great Gospel-centered alternative to the other letters. We are all “born that way” in that we LOVE sin (Ps 51:5, Rom 8:7-8, Rom 3:10-12, 1 Cor 2:14). Since we were born bent toward (read: in love with) corruption we need a new birth (John 3:3). You’ve nailed it Frank, humble yet firm and dare I say almost pastoral .

Frank Turk said...

What I can't wrap my mind around is that when the other side says, about their own situation in this world as wanting something they know they ought not to want, that they are "born this way," we win -- they have accepted the Biblical worldview.

Yet ALL THE TIME we RUN AWAY when they practically crawl into the Gospel's lap!

Born that way? I AGREE! ME TOO! Now let's talk about the SOLUTION to being born that way!

OFelixCulpa said...

Frank,

Very good. I especially appreciate your point about the need to be careful in judging the original letter. It is possible that a little bit of further context could change the picture a great deal.

Jordan said...

Thank you, Frank. I really appreciate the heart with which you wrote this.

You mentioned the applicability of such a letter to other sins by a son. To try to apply this to a situation in my own life, I am wondering how/if things would change if the son were to confess to you that he is an atheist (and a rather hostile one, at that)? I would greatly appreciate any wisdom that you might offer.

Frank Turk said...

Jordan:

as a former atheist, in almost all senses, it is exactly the same -- except for one.

Even if he doesn't have the words for it, the atheist is seeking to remove the metaphysical reasons for moral law -- because, in his view of it, the moral law has flaws. I know one fellow who thinks everything about the Christian moral law is valuable except one tenet: the Goodness of God. In his mind, because people die, God is not good. The rest he accepts as "common sense". But because he wants to blame God for death rather than see death the consequence of disobedience to the moral law, he chooses atheism. He won't worship a God who allows (or rather: requires) death.

The atheist thinks that dismissing or hating God solves his problems with the moral law. Obviously, it doesn't. However, you have to find ways to show him this problem without a lecture. Rom 1 & 2 are always true, and always give us the path to follow with such a person -- but it's a hard path to follow with them because they are always retreating back to denying the premise that we can perceive a moral law because it is created into us.

Idolatry is the same kind of sin all sin is, and in that sense the moral law is our friend when it comes to showing that sin for what it is. But more importantly: Jesus is the point of your efforts. Jesus is the one in whom all God's promises are "yes" and "amen," and we have to find ways to get people facing Jesus, seeing Jesus, and knowing Jesus the real person.

Todd said...

Frank, Thank you for this. The letter that you wrote is saturated with the gospel and it is so relevant to any Christian parent that is struggling with showing the grace of God to their child.

Mr. Fosi said...

Good one, Frank.

I caught sight of this a day or two ago and I saw some replies elsewhere in the blogosphere. Some were ok but I found myself not signing off on them. Not so for your letter.

Just this morning I was talking with my wife about the contents of a site dedicated to striving against Bill Gothard. The site published was an article on how his teaching on "rock music" was legalistic, etc.

I asked her, "Where is Christ in this article? Where is Christ is Gothard's teaching? The real question is about whether 'rock music' is a bad thing but rather what it means to be conformed to Christ."

Then I come here and I find that you are asking essentially the same question about a different issue. The more I mull things over, the more I realize that Christ and His work (i.e. the Gospel) are really central to all questions and issues.

Now if I can just get over my puzzlement when I tell people this and they come back with, "What does Jesus have to do with [insert issue]?"

Jerry Wragg said...

Excellent work, Frank!

D. C. said...

This is the money quote:

"Let's get serious about the reasons we need the Gospel so that we can get serious about expressing it to our friends and children who need it as much as we do."

Amen and Amen

Mike Riccardi said...

This was excellent, Frank. Thanks for helping us think through these sensitive issues soundly, and in a way that brings the Gospel to bear on all sins and all of life.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

I hope none of us parents ever have to write that letter to our children, but if we had to, your letter is an excellent model.

Thanks Mr. Turk.

Frank Turk said...

The over/under for the haters to arrive is 20, so I think I'm about to lose my part in the pool.

DJP said...

With a post this devastatingly on-target, they usually wait until the main crowd has moved on. Then they begin their niggly little sniping.

Be patient.

Herding Grasshoppers said...

That letter is a tour de force, and one I'll be referring to for its applicability to so many areas.

Julie G

Merrilee Stevenson said...

The money quote is near the end of the letter:

The difference between you and me is that I think I need to be saved from it, and you think you do not need to be saved, but rather accepted, so that other people's acceptance of your problem is substituted for real redemption and real resolution.

Too many people (wrongly) think that saying such things is unloving.

Rachael Starke said...

Wait - help me out with something.

Your Twitter preview implied that this post would somehow blow up the Interweb. I was expecting/fearing a whole lot more fiery fierceness and a 3-digit comment fest.

And all this is is a beautiful mix of hard truth (about all of us, no less) and real love.

I don't get it. The world must be pretty messed up.

Frank Turk said...

It's Friday. Let's see what happens over the weekend.

Maybe someone with a dissenting opinion, or maybe a premature opinion, will link to this post and respond to it. Maybe someone from the porn site which is funneling traffic to the blog today will respond.

Maybe not. It seems to me that it could still happen. It is just Friday.

Zorro! said...

I appreciate this.

donsands said...

Every time I glance by that Will Farrell photo I think of this quote for some reason:

""Guess what, I got a fever, and the only prescription is more Cow Bell."

have a blessed weekend my TeamPyro Amigos.

Logan Paschke said...

Absolutely brillant exposition of how the gospel informs all of life. Amen 100 times. So good.

Sir Aaron said...

"What I can't wrap my mind around is that when the other side says, about their own situation in this world as wanting something they know they ought not to want, that they are "born this way," we win -- they have accepted the Biblical worldview."

This is my same complaint. I've often made the point to others that secularists almost universally agree that man was not born as a naturally monogamous creature. It is his nature, i.e. the way he was born, to desire to mate with as many females as possible. And yet, God requires that men marry one woman and remain faithful to her. And for the most part, so does secular society. So now we agree that man is born as the Bible says he is, which is with sinful nature. Now we're just quibbling over the fine details.

yankeegospelgirl said...

Here is my own attempt (with the obvious caveat that I'll never be a Dad and this is purely hypothetical). In spirit it follows Frank's model the most closely, but it's more compact. Any reactions are welcome.

***

Dear Son,

I received your news with a lot of shock and pain. I could be uncharitable and assume that this was exactly your intent, but, well, that would be uncharitable. We'll put that question aside for now.

I wonder what you are expecting me to say at this point. Since you already know that I believe the lifestyle you have chosen is self-destructive and sinful, I don't know exactly what you hope to hear from me. If I were to say that I loved you anyway, that would be true in one sense but might give you the impression that I think this is all just fine and dandy, which is false.

Nevertheless, I do love you. If I didn't, I wouldn't care. If I were to give a laundry list of my own moral failings, you might think I was conceding that all sins are alike and that I have no right to judge you because we just sin differently, which is false. Nevertheless, I am aware of my own sinfulness. I'm deeply concerned that this is not the case for you.

Let me be clear: To want to sin does not equal sinning. If you had come and told me that you struggled with same-sex attraction, full stop, I would still have been devastated, but at least we would have been in this thing together. We would have been fighting toward a common goal. Instead, you've chosen to surrender and embrace this evil for good. That is what will put your immortal soul in peril. I don't even want to think about the many physical and spiritual dangers you are incurring by this choice. Understand that I write as a man calling out to one who does not know he stands on the edge of a chasm, hoping to save his life.

You are always welcome to ask any questions if you are genuinely seeking answers, and I am always glad to show you where they are. I cannot force you to receive the saving gospel of Jesus Christ, but I will set it before you at every opportunity. It is he alone who can save you. In the meantime, your lifestyle is going to have some practical consequences between us. I am not against your returning home for holidays and funerals, but I am less inclined to invite your partner. I would be disinclined even if you were living in heterosexual sin, but at least that would be easier to conceal from the other children, and I have their innocence to preserve. It should be a foregone conclusion that even if we decide to allow your partner to visit, you are forbidden to display your affection publicly or to share a bedroom under my roof.

This probably was not the response you wanted to hear. But I am compelled to speak the truth in love. I will pray and weep for you until you come home.

Dad

DJP said...

I think that's actually quite good, YGG. Only exception that occurs to me, I might say "accomplice" rather than "partner."

yankeegospelgirl said...

Good point. "Partner" is yet another perfectly good word (like "gay" itself, for that matter) that's been corrupted. I like "accomplice." What about just "boyfriend"?

Frank Turk said...

I worry about this part of YGG's approach:

[QUOTE]
To want to sin does not equal sinning. If you had come and told me that you struggled with same-sex attraction, full stop, I would still have been devastated, but at least we would have been in this thing together. We would have been fighting toward a common goal.
[/QUOTE]

Jesus does in fact say otherwise: Jesus says wanting to sin means you are guilty (Mat 5:27-30). This is actually the problem. The core problem is how deep sin runs -- it's not just the fact of external expression. And this, while it is the source of utter desperation for any sinner, and especially the sexual sinner, it is the actual core of hope -- because what Christ has done overcomes this deep, immutable fact of every human soul.

yankeegospelgirl said...

Perhaps I can clarify the word "want." In this context, I was using it to mean the same thing as "being tempted." Sorry for any confusion.

Daryl said...

I wonder if, although it is true that temptation is not sin, we too quickly blow by James 1:14 where we're told that we're dragged away by our own evil desire.

I suspect that an outside temptation is the kind that is not sin, but that temptations that come from within are more likely sinful in and of themselves.

That whole thing was (as I recall) the basis of the movie "The Last Temptation" where Christ was depicted as having had to deal with those internal evil desires, which I don't believe for a moment he really had.

Is it wrong to be attracted by the same sex? I don't think so. Is it wrong to want to act on those desires, but to not do so? I think when Jesus told us that to lust after a woman in one's heart is to commit adultery, he really undercut the idea that desires are not sinful.

It seems to me that failing to make that distinction undermines a persons ability to really fight against sin. It ignores sin when it is at it's most manageable, and waits until we're really in the fire before it gives people a reason to call sin what it really is.

Frank Turk said...

Darryl --

I think that's about right: there's a difference between (on the one hand) the external world pressing you with false promises of all sorts, and (one the other) you believing them.

When we believe the false promises of the world, we are sinning.

donsands said...

"Jesus told us that to lust after a woman in one's heart is to commit adultery,"

And if we say, "Thou fool" to anyone we are in danger of hell fire.

We need to take this to heart, and then actually be willing to cut our hands off, or pluck our eyes out. Serious truth here.


But, the other side of this truth is Christ taking all our anger, and lusts upon His precious perfect soul, and being judged for us, once and for all!

I ask people what do you think Jesus meant when he said you need to pluck your eyes out?

If they are quick to say, "Oh, right. Sure, pluck our eyes out", then these hearts are still dead.

The heart that is new, even brand new, will see the seriousness of this truth, and will pray for his, or her, Lord to help.

And this is even a deeper subject than what I can share.
It's very serious, that's for sure. And yet the regenerated child of Christ, has nothing to fear.
Thank You Lord for the Cross. Thank You for Your precious blood, which makes us pure; eternally pure, wrapped in Your righteousness.

Johnny Dialectic said...

Actually, Daryl, James explicitly teaches that evil desire is NOT sin. It is only when evil desire CONCIEVES that it gives birth to sin. Look more deeply at what that means and you'll get to the right answer. The wrong answer has done demonstrable harm.

Daryl said...

JD,

I'm not quite convinced, but I'll look into it.

Johnny Dialectic said...

You'll be glad you did. "Conceived" means the assent of the will. Luther was of the same opinion. It's a must-understand theological truth.

Frank Turk said...

Johnny: if you could read, you'd be quite the wag.

Daryl said...

Johnny,

I've done some thinking and here are my thoughts.

As so often happens, we tend to take what one writer says and apply it directly, without regards to context, to another writer.

So...

What James describes as "desires" I understand to be "impulses". What Jesus decribes as something done "in the heart" I understand as a desire.

That is. The impulse for me to take a second look at a woman I'm not married to is an impulse. Not looking, while wanting to look, is a desire.
I am sinning in my wanting to have what I cannot have, in this case, wanting a look.

So I stand by my earlier post, even though I may have misunderstood James a little. (Or perhaps James & I would've been talking past each other...2000 years will make that happen.)
I am tempted by outside sources and internal impulses, these are not sin.
When I desire something I may not have, as the word desire is generally understood today, then I am in sin.

So sure, we need to distinguish between what James meant by desire and what 21st century English-speakers mean by desire, but sin happens as son as we want what we ought not want, not when we physically go after it.

It is our heart, after all, that is the problem, not our feet and hands.

trogdor said...

When I grow up, I want to write like Frank Turk. I would have made largely the same case, but there's no way I would be capable of making it so beautifully. Great post.

AghastinBC said...

Thanks for reinforcing my conviction that religion is the cause of most hate crimes. Especially so called Christians. I have read the bible, both old & new testaments, a few times and am always curious how it can be so misinterpreted. Where is the compassion for other human beings, where is turn the other cheek, where is judge not or thou will be judged? Going to church on Sunday does make you anymore precious in God's eyes that those that do not attend but do good things every day - compassion towards others, treating the earth and others with respect, not judging others until you have walked a mile in their shoes.

Your hate towards other sends chills down my spine. Reminds be of the deep south before the civil rights movements. Scares the *&(* out of me.

mstephan said...

Aghast in BC (British Columbia, maybe?),

If only you could see the irony in your own post. Wow.