Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Leaven of Herod, Homosexuality, and Albert Mohler

The Christian Science Monitor on March 24, 2011 quoted Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky:

We’ve lied about the nature of homosexuality and have practiced what can only be described as a form of homophobia. . . . We’ve used the ‘choice’ language when it is clear that sexual orientation is a deep inner struggle and not merely a matter of choice.

At the convention of the Southern Baptists just a few days ago in Phoenix, in answer to a public question Mohler was given the opportunity to distance himself some from his comments, but he didn't. He said (youtube of the question and answer):

We have said to people that homosexuality is just a choice. . . . It’s clear that it’s more than a choice. That doesn’t mean it’s any less sinful, but it does mean it’s not something people can just turn on and turn off. . . . We have also exhibited a certain form of homophobia of which we must, absolutely must in gospel terms, repent precisely because we believe in all the scripture teaches about homosexuality, and all that the scripture teaches about sin.

Mohler defended his statements by saying that no one should be confused by what he said because he has written over two hundred articles on homosexuality. But I believe that what Mohler says is confusing and the original confusion wasn't clarified by the later confusion.

First, he was quoted in an article to support the following point made by the author of the Christian Science Monitor article:

Retaining young people is crucial, and a more accepting generation will not tolerate business as usual when it comes to the debate over homosexuality. Pastors need not compromise their convictions, but they can expect congregants to call for a more accepting, forgiving message – a more Christian message. If Christian leaders can’t make that transition – and quickly – instead of an awakening, evangelicals may be facing an exodus.

In other words, we've got to soften on homosexuality, be more accepting, or we'll be losing the people in our churches, because they want us to be more forgiving of homosexuality. It's church growth methodology with a supporting quote from Mohler on "homophobia" in Baptist churches to buttress it. When given the opportunity in public to repudiate it, Mohler did not. In so doing, he's backing the strategy offered there.

Second, Mohler alleges that Baptists are lying about the nature of homosexuality. Do the Southern Baptists know that Mohler was calling them liars? And of all things, about lying about the nature of homosexuality? How are they lying about the nature of homosexuality? The only lie I've ever heard was that homosexuality is an alternate lifestyle and that people are born homosexuals.

Third, Mohler claims that "sexual orientation" is "not a merely a matter of choice," and clearly "more than a choice." If God created male and female, if He designed men to be with women and women with men, then someone must choose to go the other direction. People who sin do choose to sin. This is a view of depravity that I can't agree with, that says that it is more than a choice.

Fourth, Mohler declares that Baptists have "practiced what can only be described as a form of homophobia" and "exhibited a certain form of homophobia" of which they must repent.

I can understand how the reformed or Calvinist supporters of Mohler would seek to defend him here. It can be done in so many ways. God is the author of sin and He predestined these souls to destruction. That's one way. The homosexual didn't choose to be homosexuals because they were born with a sin nature of which they had no control or choice. "Choice" would impede upon the sovereignty of God. No one chooses to be a homosexual, but he is born in that sin. That's another.

On these, Romans 1 says the lifestyle is a choice. Homosexuals know God, but choose to suppress the truth, even about their design, in unrighteousness (vv. 18-19). "They glorified Him not as God" (v. 21)---that's a choice. They "changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man" (v. 23)---that's a choice. They "changed the truth of God into a lie" (v. 25)---that's a choice. The men burn "in their lust one toward another" (v. 27)---that's a choice. They "did not like to retain God in their knowledge" (v. 28)---that's a choice. If they repent, that will be a choice too. The reason God's wrath is justified against them is because they make these choices.

The last defense would need to be more clinical. These Baptists have become hysterical and unhinged, insane, in their hatred of homosexuality, beyond what is reasonable or godly. The hatred is self-centered and self-destructive. They have disobeyed God's command to evangelize everyone because of their distorted disgust with homosexuality. The latter is the homophobia, I guess. I'm just attempting to figure it out. Because they target the sin with a unique hatred, the homosexuals won't be able to be saved---something like that. And so they, according to Mohler, need to repent of this sinful phobia.

Shouldn't Mohler rather consider hatred of homosexuality to be biblical? That unique hatred is biblical? That rejection of homosexuality is important? That shaming the behavior is good? I think Christians could be more consistent in hating all sin. They could be against some of the other sins to a greater degree in comparison to homosexuality, but even that does not mean that hatred of homosexuality is the problem. The greater problem today is the acceptance and toleration of effeminate, soft men, and domineering, manly women. That's the creeping problem today. We need to be strong against that, but I see the church itself becoming more and more soft.

I don't see homophobia in the Bible. I don't see it as a sin. I don't see a particular fear of any sin to be phobic. In the Old Testament, God called for Israel to stone homosexuals. That was righteous. The homosexuality was rejected and was not made to feel welcome and that didn't clash with God's love, because God is love. Holiness and love don't conflict.

So what is going on with Mohler here, the conservative evangelical, member of Together for the Gospel, and close friend and regular associate of John MacArthur? The leaven of Herod.

Leaven symbolized influence. Jesus warned against the leaven of the Pharisees, of the Sadducees, and of Herod at different times in His ministry. The leaven of Herod was secularism, a worldly way of thinking. Paul warned the Corinthians about this, about bringing the leaven of the world from their old life into the church (1 Corinthians 5). Jesus commanded us to beware because it was a threat even to Christians. Men of God can be influenced by secular thinking, and this talk of homophobia is not biblical thinking, but secular thinking. The homosexual lobby is working. The homosexual media is making head-way. The agenda is moving forward and Albert Mohler is helping it along now too.

The new generation of reformed have also brought in their own new measures for church growth. They have grunge for the grunge. They have rock for the rocksters. It's contextualization. This one is developing a friendlier relationship with homosexuals, not being so condemnatory with them. If so, if we use this method, then they can be saved. That clashes with the Mohler, gospel centrality. If it is the gospel that saves, then we don't need to add anything to the gospel, even this Mohler homosexual evangelistic strategy.

If homosexuals are not getting saved at a fast enough clip, it isn't because we have "failed miserably" as Mohler says in building these bridges with homosexuals or tried to sympathize with their plight. If people are not getting saved, it's because we haven't been faithfully preaching the gospel. I don't run into people preaching the gospel. We've got people who are more interested in their worldly things, their games, their new methods, their worldly strategies. I would be fine with Mohler parking there. It's why our church has a few times gone to the Gay Pride Parade here and handed out tracts and done preaching. We don't walk away at the door of homosexual. I talked to one just this Wednesday, late afternoon, for awhile. Part of his rejection of the message was that he didn't believe God condemned homosexuals.

Yes, this is the leaven of Herod influencing conservative evangelicals. That leaven has long been welcome in the evangelical midst.

26 comments:

Bill Hardecker said...

I was out door to door also, and came across a homosexual woman, who was "very comfortable in her lifestyle" (her words). I tried my best to convince her of sin, but she did not care to hear what God, through His Word had to say about it. I must admit, I had mixed emotions. Part of me was desiring to present the Gospel clearly (as I would any sinner), but another part of me was saying, perhaps God has given her over to a reprobate mind. I guess the proof is in her rejection of Bible truth. But the truth still needs to be given anyway, at least that's what I think. Anyway, thanks for writing this. As usual, you keep the folks on the conservative Evangelical, Fundamental, and Reformed orbits hopping. Keep up the good work. They may ban you from their blogs or forums, but you know they read you anyway.

Titus Quinctius Cincinnatus said...

Mohler's comments are just part of the greater problem of being ashamed of the Gospel - and the Calvinist position provides a cheap and easy out from having to preach the Gospel to the "hard cases" who don't want to hear it. It's easier to simply assume that they're condemned from eternity past, and to try to pluck more low-hanging fruit instead.

The recent confluence of Calvinism and compromise is the death-knell for popular American Christianity (I use the term "popular" in the sense of "widespread," not "well-liked"). Calvinism alone inhibits evangelism by means of unscriptural, man-made theology such as limited atonement and irresistible grace. Compromise inhibits evangelism by dumbing down and ultimately rejecting the Gospel. Combine the two, and you have a dumbed-down pseudogospel that doesn't even *try* to reach many classes of people.

Ironically, Mohler's way will lead to the very exodus he fears will happen.

We are fast approaching the day when true religion will be the remnant of Elijah's day - 7,000 out of a couple of million remained faithful to Jehovah.

Gary Webb said...

We have a large population of sodomites & lesbians in our area, but their influence is being manifested all over our nation through a sympathetic news media, supportive denominations, and pandering politicians. Now the great "conservative" of the SBC & hero of SharperIron wants us to go soft on this depraved sin. Today is Fathers' Day, & I will be preaching on "Christians or Catamites" from I Corinthians 6:9-11.

jg said...

Brother Brandenburg, Mohler's comments aren't helpful at all. If repentance is needed, then there must be sin involved. We don't repent of non-sins.

If there is sin, we should use God's definition and words for it. "Homophobia" is not a sin. Depending on who you talk to, it is going out and beating up people who you think are homosexual (that kind IS sin), or telling them that God could never forgive them for such a horrible sin (that would also be sinful), or telling them that their desires and actions are sinful (it would be sinful NOT to be that kind of "homophobe").

If Mohler wants to assert that some Christians have refused to give the Gospel to homosexuals, and that is sin, perhaps he could use Romans 1:14, and say those Christians need to repent. If he wants to claim that some Christians have failed to rightly divide the Word, and so have taught wrongly as to the nature of this sin, he should use II Tim. 2:15. But I'm not interested in using a word which has been invented expressly for the purpose of advocating unrighteousness to tell believers they should repent.

All that said, I'd like to discuss the "choice" question here briefly. Homosexuals, like everyone else, make choices as to their actions.

But when I look at Romans 1, it appears to me that there is a progression:
A) God revealed Himself (v. 20).
B) Men did not honour Him, and were unthankful (21, 22).
C) God gave them up/over (24, 26).
D) Homosexuality is the result (24, 26-27).

I do not see in these verses evidence that homosexuals intentionally chose to have these desires. They chose unthankfulness, unbelieve, bitterness and rage against God, etc., leaving themselves open to many horrible temptations. And then, they choose the actions of stirring up those temptations, following them, enslaving themselves to them. But I do not see clear Biblical evidence that they chose to have those desires in the first place.

Therefore, I do not believe there is ample grounds to say to homosexuals that they chose to have homosexual desires and temptations. Nor do I really see any profit in doing so. It puts the focus in the wrong place. The heart of the problem, according to Romans 1, is unthankfulness and neglecting to honour God (unbelief and disobedience).

Fact: every homosexual, deep down, knows that to accept God and His revealed Word is to reject both the desires and the actions as sinful. We don't really gain anything by debating "choice" with them. Rather, they need to be challenged on their choice in regard to God.

Arguing "choice" with a homosexual is like trying to get a cancer patient to wear a wig. Even if you win the argument, it isn't going to cure the problem. They need the Lord, and He is the only One who can really sort out their choices.

I would appreciate your thoughts on this. I believe that Christians have too often neglected to really deal with what Romans 1 really says as to the progression toward this sin. If I'm missing something, please let me know.

Kent Brandenburg said...

Thanks for all the comments and I agree with every one of them.

Robert said...

I am contemplating how to explain Dr. Moehler's position on sodomy to King Asa of Judah. Frankly I'm struggling with finding the right words. Any suggestions?

For a supposed conservative leading light to waffle on such an issue should tell somebody something. I suspect that it won't.

Kent Brandenburg said...

JG,

It is true that no verse says that homosexuals choose to commit the sin. However, I believe it is a clear implication of that paragraph that I wrote on Rom 1 and some of what you wrote. God turned them over to something that they wanted, and the thing they chose then became the judgment itself. I often put it this way---you think you're getting something, but all you get is getting gotten. You think you have something but it actually has you. In the realm of unthankfulness, what were they not thankful for? They were not thankful for God's design, which was perfect and they chose something of their own design in manifestation of that unthankfulness. Another illustration. God gives us a hammer to strike a nail, but we use our fist instead and then we face the consequences of that choice. God gave women to men and men to women, but homos choose the opposite because they aren't thankful for what God gives them.

Thanks.

Robert,

Nothing to suggest. I agree with your waffling observation.

jg said...

"It is true that no verse says that homosexuals choose to commit the sin."

Brother Brandenburg, it is evident that they choose to commit the sin. I'm not talking about choosing actions, I'm talking about whether they knowingly chose to have those wrong desires.

Most homosexuals will acknowledge they choose to act in a certain way. What they will deny is that they chose to have those desires, and I question whether the verses we've discussed (or any others) say they did. Those verses say they chose actions.

"In the realm of unthankfulness, what were they not thankful for? They were not thankful for God's design, which was perfect and they chose something of their own design in manifestation of that unthankfulness."

It appears from Romans 1 rather that they were unthankful for God's revelation of Himself. Now, we can't divorce "God's design" from "Himself", of course. They fit together. But verse 21 follows verse 20, not verse 24 or 27, and I don't see any reason to read those later verses back into it.

I think we could agree that they chose the path that leads to enslaving themselves in this sin. But choosing the path is not the same as choosing the endpoint unless you know the endpoint, and I doubt many of them really did. They didn't want God, so they took the other path, without any real thought as to where it would take them.

Here's what you said: "God turned them over to something that they wanted." Where did that wanting come from? Did they choose to want it (option 1), or did that wanting come because sin had already taken control and was twisting everything (option 2)?

I would say that we have no Biblical evidence to say it must have been option 1 rather than option 2. In fact, I would guess very few started out by saying, "You know, I think I want to start having homosexual desires now."

If we say to someone in this sin, "You chose this," probably very few of them remember a time when they chose to start having these desires. So why fight the battle, if we don't have Scripture that says they did chose the desires? Aren't we better dealing with the indisputable choice they HAVE made to act on those desires, and with their choice to reject God and His plan?

Isn't that what we do with a drunkard? We don't argue whether or not he chose to want alcohol, we just tell him his drunkenness is sin, and that Christ can save him and set him free from it.

Kent Brandenburg said...

JG,

I'll be thinking about what you wrote and come back later. I get what you are saying now, and I don't think I did before. Thanks.

My son is here just this week---he'll be in England the next month, at Sandhurst, by the way.

Victor Mowery said...

None of us choose to have the particular desires that we have. Every man desires to fornicate or commit adultery, for example. Every person covets. See the definition of "temptation" in James chapter 1.

In this sense, homosexuals are in the same boat with all sinners. They have a predisposition to sinful behavior choices just like anybody else. My standard answer to "they were born that way" is to assert that the child molester may have been born a child molester, so what? The heterosexual ("straight") fornicator was certainly born with his lusts. Even the drunkard may have inherited a genetic predisposition to his particular sin. We all have a predisposition to sin in general that we inherited. That does not change the fact that acting on the sin is a choice.

As far as choosing to have certain desires, of course we don't. However, one can make particular desires stronger and stronger by feeding the flesh in that area - focusing on the desire and partaking in trying to fulfill it. It keeps getting harder and harder to satisfy and the lust becomes more and more corrupt. Then "he shall be holden with the cords of his iniquity." And so the first wrong desire (lust) may not have been a choice, but the more and more corrupt desires are a result of the choices that have been made.

jg said...

Thanks, Brother Brandenburg. Hope you have a great visit with your son. It's a long way from your house to Sandhurst, both geographically and theologically.

Brother Mowery, you said much of what I've been trying to say, but probably much more clearly. The best answer to "I was born this way" is, so what? Unbelievers need to get saved, believers need to mortify the deeds of the flesh.

Gary Webb said...

Good response Victor. I certainly did not understand what jg had said. The desires (lusts) we have come from the flesh, & we choose to give in to those lusts. So, whatever we are, we choose to be this way.
Here in Chapel Hill, NC at the UNC hospital they had a conference a few years ago in which medical professionals & homosexuals got together with all their great learning & scientific expertise. Their conclusion was that sodomites & lesbians were born that way. Their scientific reason for that conclusion? The homosexual lifestyle was so bad that no one would "choose" to be that way.
My cousin, who grew up attending a Southern Baptist Convention church in NC, died of AIDS about 20 years ago. He died of AIDS because, when he was a teenager, he chose to look at pornography & then followed the desires that choice created ... one desire & choice leading to another desire & choice. He became an interior designer & worked in Greenwich Village in NYC. There he had great opportunity to fulfill his desires as a sodomite. Unfortunately, that is also how he got AIDS. I did have the opportunity to witness to him, & he prayed to ask the Lord to save him. However, I have no idea of the outcome of that prayer. He did not live long afterward, & I was not able to observe his life.

Bill Hardecker said...

I think people who claim the genetic disposition argument do so because it is easy to justify the sin. I am not sure if there are any valid medical reports of a homosexual "gene" or any medical validation for a person being born "that way." BUT a "gene" or a birth doesn't determine what is sin. The Bible does. And so, even, if a person says they can't help themselves because they are born that way, it only helps to prove the teaching of the Scriptures - we are all sinners by nature and by choice. Anyway, my two cents - - which goes along pretty much with jg and Mowrey.

Liam O'Brian said...

Perhaps the better term than "homophobe" for me would be "homomisthetic." However, if anybody accuses me of being one, I can just say that I was born that way.

Anonymous said...

V. Mowery made this situation very clear. Thank you.

I absolutely agree that homosexuality is a sin. So is gluttony.... and a host of other actions. However, we (or at least I) tend to emphasize some sins more than others. I denounce homosexuality, but do not denounce gluttony to the same extent. Yet they are both sins that act on desire.

With that in mind, let me then muse on Mohler's statements. When he said that Christians need to repent of homophobia, I interpreted that as meaning that we tend to attack the person more than the sin. Does God love the person who is a homosexual? Does God love the glutton? Do I speak of the glutton with derogatory language (big fat slob.... stuffing his face....) in the same way I speak of the homosexual (queer, gay, disgusting excuse of a human...)?

The fact is that sin is sin, and all sin is a breach in relationship with a holy God. Whether I choose to magnify one sin over another makes no difference. It's still sin. I become homophobic when I write off the homosexual as worthless and disgusting and unredeemable. This is not becoming soft on the sin; rather it is denouncing the sin while still trying to reach out to the homosexual with the message of grace, forgiveness and redemption. If I am too afraid of being contaminated by association with a homosexual, then I won't make the effort to witness to him/her. And that is homophobia.

So in a sense, I agree with Mohler. I only regret that he did not state the position more clearly.

Gary Webb said...

Anonymous,
I think Mohler communicated what he meant to communicate: that homosexuality is not so bad - no worse than other sins, & Christians should not judge it so harshly. I would be interested in seeing all the bible passages condeming gluttony & how God says that such a sin is "against nature". Eating & enjoying food is a natural & uncondemned practice. Should we eat without restraint & to the detriment of our bodies? No, but one of the outcomes of having God's blessing is being fat: Ps. 92:14, Proverbs 13:4, Proverbs 28:5. The word translated "glutton" in the OT means to be worthless. In the NT it does mean "a big eater."
I can hardly see comparing gluttony with homosexuality as if they are equally offensive to God. I will acknowledge that, in a society where gluttony is rampant, homosexuality is usually present as well because both come from seeking after pleasure. However, one is "against nature." There is something wrong with saying that Christians need to repent of "homophobia."

Anonymous said...

Phobia simply means fear. Phobia does not mean hate. Would you agree that many people are afraid of homosexuals, and/or are afraid to witness to them?

Speaking for myself, I find homosexuality so disgusting that I really don't want to be around it, don't want to hear of it and don't want to talk of it or talk to those involved in it. I hate it.

But.... I'm not called as a Christian to refuse to witness to homosexuals just because I fear it, hate it, or don't feel like it. I'm called to share the Gospel with them like any other sinner. In my definition, to refuse to minister/witness/interact to the homosexual out of any kind of fear is homophobia. If I refuse, then I need to repent.

I brought up in my previous post the comparison with gluttony only to show that we really tend to classify sins. Both the glutton and the homosexual need the Lord, need forgiveness and need redemption. I'm more comfortable talking to the glutton than to the homosexual. But witnessing is never about how I "feel", is it? It's about boldly stepping forth for the glory and honor and praise of God, no matter how I feel or if I am afraid.

So I repeat it again: if I have a fear of talking about the Lord to a homosexual, then I am homophobic, and I need to repent of that. I do not think it wrong to repent of that. I think that perhaps many people confuse "homophobia" with "homo-hate".

Gary Webb said...

I think that "homophobia", while its denotation is fear of homosexuals, has the connotative meaning in our society of hate of homosexuals.
We should not classify sins in the sense that we use classification to lessen the wrongness of sin. But, it is clear to me that the Bible indicates that homosexuality is one of the most degrading in God's eyes. The Bible indicates that when a society embraces homosexuality it has degenerated to a greater level of depravity.
I know that some go to homosexual parades to witness to homosexuals, & I do not condemn that practice. I personally & as a pastor do not believe it is wise to do so. We can witness to homosexuals on an everyday, individual basis. To send Christian people to observe the open filth demonstrated in these "parades" & to put ourselves in a position of being around unrestrained wickedness does not make sense to me. I guess that would be a sort of "homophobia". I do not regard that as sin but as righteousness. If I would not send our young people to do "beach evangelism" where there is open nudity, why would I send our church people to a place where people are encouraged to engage in the most wicked behavior?

jg said...

Anonymous: "I do not think it wrong to repent of that. I think that perhaps many people confuse "homophobia" with "homo-hate"."

Homophobia definitions
Cambridge Dictionary Online: "a fear or dislike of homosexuals"
Wikipedia: "Homophobia is a term used to refer to a range of negative attitudes and feelings towards lesbian and gay and in some cases bisexual, transgender people and behaviour...." Note that: "people AND BEHAVIOUR"
Dictionary.com: "unreasoning fear of or antipathy toward homosexuals and homosexuality."

Two common sources for definition that give us common usage: "Homophobia" includes antipathy toward homosexuality, and negative attitudes and feelings towards homosexual behaviour.

Antipathy towards people is not consistent with the Gospel of God's grace to lost sinners. Antipathy towards the sin of homosexuality and negative attituded towards homosexual behaviour is required of obedient believers.

Don't get caught up in the etymology of the word. It means more than "irrational fear" in common usage, and if we are going to speak in the public arena, we need to take common usage into account.

Brother Webb: " I certainly did not understand what jg had said." I probably rambled too much -- sorry for not being clear. I thought your cousin's story was illustrative. He didn't set out to choose homosexuality, perhaps, but he made decisions against God that put him on that path, and he freely chose to continue down that path. If you choose to reject the Lord and His plan for your life, it's going to lead you into a lot more sin and trouble than you bargained for when you started.

Your comments about the study which found the homosexual lifestyle is miserable were interesting. One of the things that has struck me, when conversing with a homosexual, was that I was told, "I would never choose this. It's miserable." He meant it, too. But would he turn to Christ? Sadly, no. But it convinced me that the last thing we need to do in giving the Gospel is argue that "you chose this". The best thing we can do is tell them they can be forgiven and changed, they can be set free. Isn't that what the Gospel is all about?

Brother Hardecker: Thank you for bringing up that we are sinners by birth. That's helpful. As to the whole genetic thing, does anyone think it ironic that so many people who reject creation and believe in evolution then claim that this is genetic? Doesn't evolution teach survival of the fittest, etc.? How exactly do they think this so-called "gay gene" got naturally selected as helping the species survive and propagate itself? From an evolutionary perspective, any "gay gene" would surely disappear within a generation or two.

And yet they call us "illogical"....

I do think that we are debtors to all, including homosexuals (Romans 1:14), and that we don't always pay that debt as well as we should. The errors in Mohler's comments shouldn't keep us from examining how well we really are communicating the Gospel to these lost souls who so desperately need it.

Kent Brandenburg said...

First JG,

I've got a moment, but I've been thinking. James 1:14 illuminates on this, I believe. We sin, first, because we are drawn away of our own lust. The Greek Word for "our own" is idios, which is belonging or being related to oneself; pertaining to a particular individual; being distinctively characteristic of some entity, peculiar to an individual. This is how the word is used.

This says that the desire is uniquely a person's own desire, so he can help or does have a choice as to what his desires are. He is not by his own desire a sinner, but a particular desire that leads to a particular sin is his own desire. I take that from the word idios in this particular context, which is a very appropriate text for our understanding of this subject.

Bro Webb,

I think it might be good for you to understand what we did at the Gay Pride Parade. It is a week long deal. We don't go to the parade. And we don't send everybody. We sent only certain people and during a time that it was just people milling around at various shops and tents. At the same time, I sympathize with your position and am not sure we would do that again, for the very reasons you are advocating. My point in my post is that people should just evangelize people, that's how you reach anyone, not something akin to what Mohler is saying. Thanks.

jg said...

Thanks, Brother. That's a good text to apply to the discussion, and one I hadn't considered. I'll have to think on that one a little bit.

My initial reaction is thus: Whatever the meaning of idios in this context, it's consistent with I Cor. 10:13 (the "no excuses verse"), which tells us all temptations are common to man. And the context of James 1 is also on the "no excuses" line. I have always taken the force of idios to be thus: You can't blame God for your sin, it's your own problem, your own wicked desires. It's another "no excuses" verse.

Does that necessarily mean we've chosen those desires? We know that man is born a sinner with sinful desires. When I was a child, did I decide, "Oh, I think I'm going to work on developing selfish attitudes"? If I did, I certainly don't remember, and I actually don't see that it matters. I have those selfish attitudes, and they need to be mortified.

Yet, you are correct, as Brother Webb's example of his cousin illustrated, that we choose to stir up and follow wrong desires, and those choices lead us on to further wrong desires. But I don't think James 1 is discussing this. Isn't it just saying that sin comes because we ourselves choose to be drawn away and enticed by these wrong desires? We ought to turn our back on sinful desires, and because we do not, we fall into sin.

I'll have to think on that one some more, though. It definitely is part of the picture. Thank you for bringing it into the discussion.

Perhaps we could say this. Man is born with sinful desires. That is part of the sin nature, and is the first source of sinful desires.

We also know that man chooses to pursue sin, and that further and more depraved sinful desires result from that choice. This was apparently the experience of Brother Webb's cousin, and is a second source of sinful desires.

It seems also that those who have rejected God, in the pursuit of new experiences of pleasure or rebellion, will intentionally stir up and develop desires that they never had before, just to "find out what it's like," or because of peer pressure, whatever. It seems probable that much of drunkenness/drug addiction comes out of this, where people who may not have had any real desire for the drug develop a lust for it because they "experimented", for whatever reason. This would be a third source of sinful desires.

Out of which of these sources does any particular sinful desire spring? I'm not sure we have strong Biblical evidence to answer that question. We're told that homosexuality is "against nature", which might suggest it comes from either the second or third source, rather than the first. But that's a pretty thin reed on which to rest an argument.

I'll give it some more thought. Thank you.

Colin Maxwell said...

Heading off for a few days of evangelism, so can't get drawn into any debate here. The Calvinist Confessions of faith (WCF etc,) and commentators are very careful to emphasise that God is never to be viewed as the author of sin. Homework done here:

http://bit.ly/cxDW1Q

Regards,

John Gardner said...

I think a discussion of 1 Cor. 6:9-20 would be interesting and apropos here.

Liam O'Brian said...

if they say nobody would choose willingly to be a sodomite, then the reverse of it is true as well: by that logic (or illogic), I did not choose to be a Homomisthetic. I cannot help my intolerance of sin. I was born that way. They need to be more tolerant of people who are - by birth - intolerant. I believe the aboriginal red Indians of your country might say "pot call kettle black."

Charles E. Whisnant said...

"I can hardly see comparing gluttony with homosexuality as if they are equally offensive to God."

Interesting, that we believe there in no level of doctrine importance, how can we say that God hates some sin more than others? If one verse is given to on sin is that not enough?

In my eyes murder is worse than been a homosexual. With God the lease of sin is an abomination to God.

I was sick to hear what New York did along with the other eight states have done. I for one have not lesson stance on this issue.

Romans makes it clear about SIN"S power on the Sinner.

Gary Webb said...

Charles,
I believe that I have already given the answer to your question about God's evaluation of sin in regard to homosexuality: Romans 1:26 - "For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature." Adultery is a terrible, destructive sin, but the act is according to the design of creation. Homosexuality is not. That is not human logic or judgment but the statement of the Word of God.