LONG POST: Is Rebellion Sin?

by justbarelymadeit

A recent question debated with some friends and family.

Reading Future Men by Doug Wilson, and he flat-out states that rebellion is sin. Therefore, a boy dying his hair purple is sin. I am curious what others think.

Well, I think rebellion is a heart issue. If the attitude of my heart is “Screw authority of ANY kind, I’m doing what I want regardless of what anyone thinks!” then yes. Sin. But the ACT of dying one’s hair purple is not a sin unless it comes out of a heart rebelling.


But, then according to that (and I am not saying I disagree) for that person whose heart is in constant rebellion to authority of any kind, most things they do would be sin…?


Isaiah 63:10 – But they rebelled and grieved His Holy Spirit; therefore He turned to become their enemy and Himself fought against them.

I Samuel 12:14-15 – If you fear the LORD and serve and obey him and do not rebel against his commands, and if both you and the king who reigns over you follow the LORD your God—good! 15 But if you do not obey the LORD, and if you rebel against his commands, his hand will be against you, as it was against your

Psalm 68:6 – The rebellious dwell in a dry land.


Well, rebellion against God is definitely sin, but is ALL rebellion sin? Those passages seem quite clear the rebellion was against God and His commandments. What if the rebellion is against the “status quo”? or Cultural demands? IE. Assuming his parents didn’t forbid him to dye his hair, all he is rebelling against then is culture, if that… so why would purple hair be sin?


What if authority is in rebellion against God and you are rebelling against authority?


Joshua, that would be direct reference to passages that argue, obey God’s law rather than man’s when they contradict, so that one seems clear-cut as well.


Rebellion in my opinion is sin. We are not only called to submit to Gods authority but He calls us to submit to all authority. Now if the authorities were to tell us to sin, and we don’t, that is not rebellion. If the child dyed his hair purple against his parents’ wishes, he sinned.


What if his parents didn’t tell him not to…and he was doing it say…in rebellion to current culture?


If it is in rebellion of current culture, then you really need to define the word and its intent. I love going against the flow when it comes to current culture, that doesn’t make me rebellious. You have to be careful though, and make sure that when you do decide to go against your culture, it isn’t out of selfishness. That is a word to contemplate! Selfish ambition.


I think scripture is pretty clear that Christians should generally honor their parents when young, and submit to both Church and government authorities. Whatever you might think of your current local government, it is not worse than first century Rome. An interesting facet of the government that God has placed over us, though, is that in order for it to function we are REQUIRED to be involved citizens, which includes questioning authority at times. That said, all of those authorities are subordinate to God and to scripture so I agree that Joshua is right.

I think it is a reach to consider cultural norms to be an “authority” when no legitimate authority has specifically ordered them. However, you should consider whether deviating from cultural norms is going to present a stumbling block to other believers or negatively affect your witness as a Christian (in some cases, it may actually improve your witness to certain people). I’m not sure if I’d go as far as to call it “sin” if it doesn’t pass those tests, but it still probably isn’t advisable. Of course, those are complicated questions on their own.


I’m beginning to come to a realization that any action can be righteous or sinful, only the heart determines which is which (“Man looks on the outward appearance…”). Having said that, what is often called rebelling, whether it is actually sinful or not, also functions–for the rebeller–as a way to set the boundaries of their soul, i.e. “Common opinion says this is wrong, but what do I think about it?” As this process happens to an adolescent, it is sometimes quelled using spiritual terminology that really amounts to “Get back in line” or even “I personally don’t like purple hair and I’m the authority so it is wrong for you.” See, for example, the copious writings of  Eric Padzoria on the subject of Spiritual Abuse for a more thorough fleshing out of this.


I might add to Peter’s idea that where you are a parent, employer, or other authority figure, if you exasperate those under you by imposing rules based on only your personal taste, you are sinning.


Jesus was a rebel


I would argue he wasn’t. He was establishing a higher authority. God/himself, he was paving the way for a restoration from our long rebellion. Christ was, himself, the cure for rebellion.


Depends on what you are rebelling from, if it is from God, Yes, from wrong doing, and turning to God NO


It seems, I would think on reflecting on all of your comments (thank you so much, except Jesse), a very level heading, and I would say, correct consensus is that perhaps Doug Wilson is wrong in labeling purple hair as Rebellion.

Rebellion as a concept means rejecting the authority over you and deciding you are your own authority. It always includes an actual authority to be rejected, whether that is God, Church, Parents or Government. Purple hair by itself (outside of a mandate by the law(not likely to happen) or parents(wasn’t specified in this example)) is not rebellion, regardless of how counter-culture it might be. Culture is not an authority placed over us and thus we are not mandated to follow its “rules” So being “counter-culture” is not actual Rebellion.

That being said, it would seem then… that Rebellion IS sin… It is disobedient, self-centered, and proud. The one exception would be if that rebellion is in order to reject man’s authority in favor of God’s authority, and in a case like that is actually obedience to God’s law more than it is rebellion to man’s law. So, it would seem, it is not actually rebellion at all, but rather obedience. Which means, I am comfortable agreeing with Doug Wilson on this, Rebellion is sin, always. I am also comfortable in disagreeing with him that purple hair is rebellion.


Lonnie, can I have my hammer back? Cuz I think you nailed it.