10 June 2014

The hateful practice of redefinition

by Dan Phillips

Last Wednesday, one of those minor household accidents happened while I was away. My dear wife was readying some of her award-winning chili which, in my house, usually requires the accompaniment of corn bread. Everyone in my family loves corn bread, excepting only me. So chili needs corn bread, and corn bread needs honey. But our honey was crystallized.

So Valerie popped it in the microwave and got it boiling hot or thereabouts. In transferring it, something slipped, and she poured this boiling hot honey on her hand. Both she and my boys swung right into action.

What did they do?

What Valerie didn't do is say "Boiling honey has gotten a bad rap all these years. At some point, uptight and narrow-minded people took a wrong turn and labeled the experience of spilling boiling honey on your hand as 'painful' and 'bad' and 'harmful.' But if we read the ancient texts right, they were talking about particular honey produced by bees visiting a particular flower that grew only in Greece, and only in the fourth century BC. Our modern honey is nothing like ancient honey. We can't apply those categories to this experience."


Likewise, what my boys didn't do was to say, "Oh Mother-dear, because we love you so, we are going to embrace and celebrate your new discovery of this new experience of joyous new-honey-pouring. In fact, we must change the language. Instead of 'boiling-honey burn,' let's call it Glistening Aroma of Sweet Pinkness. You've just had a GASP of joy! Here, we want to be supportive! Let us boil some more for you!"

As I say, they did none of this. Instead, Valerie gave a yelp and headed for the tap, and the boys got her ice and took care of her. Because all the scholarly papers by all the pointy heads in all the world wouldn't change the fact that boiling honey hurts like fire.

You're a sharp bunch and I'm sure you know right where we're going. Yet another sad soul has reportedly greeted yet another scion's sin against God his Creator by trying to redefine reality to enable his son's damning immorality. And, as always, he is unsuccessful.

What we are seeing in such small events as well as the large sweeps of legislation and litigation is a large-scale attempt to force everyone to say that spilling boiling honey on one's hand is a good thing, a real good thing. Because the aim is to remove the shame from soul-ruining perversion. God forbid that someone feel bad for doing bad.

But feeling bad is as much for our good as are the pain receptors that told Valerie that something had gone amiss in meal preparations. If the honey hadn't hurt, she wouldn't have treated the injury. Worse, if she could have persuaded herself that it was actually a positive experience, God knows what might have followed.

It is the lot of fallen men in full flight from God that they "know God's righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die" and, notwithstanding, still "not only do them but give approval to those who practice them" (Romans 1:32).

Now, we expect (or should expect) lost  people to act like lost people.

But the professedly saved?

The place of the loving Christian is to stand athwart all such ultimately-ruinous, ultimately-hateful attempts, no matter how widespread they are nor how loud the applause. The call of God on us is to show such deeds to be what God says they are, to affirm the shame that attends them (Ephesians 4:11-12) and, at the same time and at least as insistently, point to the only One who legitimately strikes at the root of and offers the sure remedy for all such shame, both theirs and ours (1 Cor. 6:9-20).

But to tell a supposed loved one "Go ahead, pour boiling honey on yourself, everyone who ever said it was a bad thing was deluded"?

How much do you have to hate someone to do that?


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22 comments:

Robert said...

And thinking about the fact that this is his son just makes it worse. This is a person he is directly responsible for regardless of whether or not he is a pastor. And he is just ushering him on to hell.

DJP said...

But at least he won't feel bad along the way.

Michael Coughlin said...

All me to try to improve upon the analogy and explanation a bit.

The fact that boiling honey is damaging to your wife is the reason it had to be treated. Whether it hurt or not is experiential and not relevant to the biblical comparison.

For example, had she spilled boiling honey on a paralyzed man who could not feel the pain - emergency first aid would still have been necessary.

And there are people in our society who are so seared to evil that they do not "feel" the burn or consequence of their evil. That, of course, doesn't change their need for repentance.

Because - as you pointed out - the very definition of what was occurring is defined outside the temporary experience of the person with the experience.

Like you said when Rob Portman changed his stance - I'm sure glad his son didn't turn out to be a murderer!

I sure hope she is alright and heals up nicely. I bet that was a sweet burn. An update on her status would have been OK, too, brother :).

Paul Reed said...

Loved this post! Like many theological liberals, the SBC pastor has redefined words and has elevated his feelings towards his children as higher than scripture. Like so often on this blog, this post clearly elevates scripture above emotions, even if the emotions are a parent's love for their child. I did think you took things a little far when you compared Romney's election loss to the loss of one of your kids (http://teampyro.blogspot.com/2012/11/i-got-nothing-well-almost-nothing.html), but I definitely saw your point, and this post is gold. America could really use a lot more pastors who are willing to put their feelings and emotions on hold and do what is Biblical instead of trying to give words new definitions.

St. Lee said...

Could not help but think of Matthew 10:37 when reading about this. Certainly it is a choice none of would want to face, but it does seem that this pastor may have been tested to see if he loved his son more than he loved Jesus. Unfortunately it seems he chose his son rather than the Son of God.

Burrito34 said...

Good post. And I hope the burn was not too severe.

DJP said...

I'm sorry, of course I should have appended: thanks to quick action, her burn was surprisingly mild. Cold water, ice, and I kissed it a number of times, and it has been healing up nicely.

Mark Hanson said...

Reminds me a bit of the time I heard a pastor say, "I'm against abortion in all circumstances except two: David and Martha" (his two children). What surprised me is that the conservative evangelical church where he said it didn't fire him on the spot - it embraced him.

Fortunately, I was only a visitor.

DJP said...

Good heavens, that's appalling! Whyever would this remind you of that?

swimthedeepend said...

Hey! Anthony the cornfield kid from The Twilight Zone! He's the reason we missed family devo time at my house TWICE last year. I've been trying for years to work him into a blog post, but you beat me to it. Well played, sir.

DJP said...

It's one of the classic moments in all of TV, ever, period.

And that's a real good thing.

Mark Hanson said...

Dan, I guess I saw it as an attempt to redefine reality for his family's "benefit" - abortion is bad, but having a daughter get pregnant out of wedlock would be worse. Yeah, right.

Michael Coughlin said...

Good clarification. I thought that the dude meant that he wished he'd aborted his own children and maybe just meant it as a joke...either way, dumb.

Mark Hanson said...

I guess it's because I tried to keep my entry short. His next sentence was, "If either of them got involved in an out-of-wedlock pregnancy, I can't say I would stand against it."

Sorry for the confusion.

Michael Coughlin said...

Wow. That's sick. "I'm against abortion except for my own grandkids."

Maybe I'm going too far, but I'd say that person isn't a Christian let some qualified to preach.

Michael Coughlin said...

Previous comment should read let alone rather than let some. Autocorrect fail.

Robert said...

DJP,

Yet another example of why going by feelings isn't a good thing. Been going through a lengthy discussion on a Facebook forum on why Scripture is not subject to experience. It is sad how authoritative some people sound when they make statements to the contrary. Satan definitely has carved out quite a niche in the world with the type of demon doctrine that results from this type of thinking. As it turns out, this is quite relevant to this discussion/post because the "pastor" in question is subjecting Scripture to his experience. And the result is that Scripture gets tossed out of the window.

As a side note, I've been reading through Schaeffer's "The Church Before the Watching World" and been greatly saddened at the breakup of the Presbyterian church back in the early/mid 20th century...especially how divisive things became between genuine brothers in Christ. And then to see how Machen was defrocked and kicked out of the PCUSA way back when just lays out the path for how bad PCUSA is today. And this laid the path for people like this "pastor" to just go with the popular culture and kick Scripture to the curb. Sad.

Robert said...

DJP,

Yet another example of why going by feelings isn't a good thing. Been going through a lengthy discussion on a Facebook forum on why Scripture is not subject to experience. It is sad how authoritative some people sound when they make statements to the contrary. Satan definitely has carved out quite a niche in the world with the type of demon doctrine that results from this type of thinking. As it turns out, this is quite relevant to this discussion/post because the "pastor" in question is subjecting Scripture to his experience. And the result is that Scripture gets tossed out of the window.

As a side note, I've been reading through Schaeffer's "The Church Before the Watching World" and been greatly saddened at the breakup of the Presbyterian church back in the early/mid 20th century...especially how divisive things became between genuine brothers in Christ. And then to see how Machen was defrocked and kicked out of the PCUSA way back when just lays out the path for how bad PCUSA is today. And this laid the path for people like this "pastor" to just go with the popular culture and kick Scripture to the curb. Sad.

Mark Hanson said...

Michael - never thought of it that way.

What was equally appalling to me was afterward, how many complimented him for being "brave" and "vulnerable". Count me on the other side - "making provision for sin".

Wonder how his kids turned out?

Michael Coughlin said...

You can bet they are writing for a blog as an ex-fundie, Mark.

Michael Coughlin said...

ARG - That was supposed to read:

You can bet they are NOT writing for a blog as an ex-fundie. Nothing fundamental about the doctrine espoused by their dad.

Unknown said...

Having recently gotten hot soup on my hand and arm, I can really relate to your illustration.

The pain has gone away. Redefining truth eventually makes for permanent pain beyond imagination.