justbarelymadeit

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Category: Sin

RETRO POST: A Good Recipe for Fighting

– November 2007

Pow! I staggered back, reeling from the blow I had expertly blocked with my jaw. I found myself squared off against Bobby. He was a large boy, significantly larger than me, and he had decked me for some reason I couldn’t quite dredge up at the moment. I only knew I needed to hit him back. I did, and we traded a few blows before we were dragged into the principal’s office. Bobby was actually a friend of mine, and by the time we got to the office the reason for our scrap had been forgotten and we were both grinning sheepishly.

There is an old stereotype that when women fight they hold it in for 6 months, until it explodes into a catastrophic explosion of tears and professions of mutual friendship and love. There are variations of this, but it is always a juxtaposition against men, who will immediately throw some blows, then put their arms around each other and go out for a beer. Of course, this is not always true, but it brings up a thought in my head.

Is fighting bad? Is conflict bad? We are sort of taught that our whole lives in Sunday school, in grade school, in church quite often, on tv, with our brothers and sisters. We are always told not to fight, and that it is harmful and bad. I wonder sometimes, though. Fighting is inevitable, and so is conflict. Where you have two individuals, there will always exist some form of conflict. God has made us different, with the ability to form our own opinions and beliefs. You will never agree totally and completely with another person, and yet we are called to live in close relationship and proximity with these other individuals. So what do we do then? Should we instead, examine conflict itself? What is it about conflict that is so negative, really? It is usually the things said, and the way the conflict is expressed. When you are arguing with your friend/spouse/sibling what really makes you angry and less rational? When you feel hurt, when they insult or attack you directly. There are variations of reasons for hurt and offense, but the fight itself is rarely, if ever, the cause for that hurt.

I look back at my first marriage, and I realize that many of the discussions had to happen. That conflict had to be faced, but oh, how I wish to God that I could have done it differently. So much pain and hurt I caused, because I was an inexperienced fighter. I didn’t know what to do, so when my button was pushed, I turned around and pushed her button right back. What would my life look like if I had stopped trying to avoid fights, and instead tried to learn how to fight? If I had only found a way to fight in a manner that was respectful and Godly, where would I be now? I am not disillusioned enough to think that my marriage failed just because I was mean, but I can’t help but wonder what would have been different.

So next time conflict pops up, where will you be? Are you the type that runs at first sign? Will you come out with all of your guns blazing, in hopes of tearing the other up before they can touch you? Next time try this, stop running, put the guns away, and walk with your head up towards the conflict, and deal with it in a way that God would approve. Fight, and hell, fight well!

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LONG POST: Is Rebellion Sin?

A recent question debated with some friends and family.

Me:
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.

Beth:
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.

Me:

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…?

Karen:

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.

Lonnie:

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?

Joshua:

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

Me:

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.

Amy:

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.

Me:

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

Amy:

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.

Justin:

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.

Peter:

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.

Justin:

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.

Kelsie:

Jesus was a rebel

Me:

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.

Francis:

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

Me:

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.

Peter:

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

Secrecy, Our Prison

I am the only one here that struggles with doubt. All others seem to just have it all together. Others do not harbor the dark thoughts that I do. I am alone in this fear.

Secrecy feeds these ideas to us and each one forms another bar in our prison. Very few things can keep us bound in sin and darkness like isolation or secrecy. Its power is twofold, the first being its inward effect on us. Chance of self-deception sky-rocket, and we begin to convince ourselves of things that we never would have even entertained in we had had a sounding board nearby to discuss them with. One of the lies we contend with is that we are worse than those around us, but we must remember Romans 3 which asserts that “there is no one righteous, not even one.” We are not worse than others, because they are just as fallen as well. Another lie common to this refrain is that we are unique or alone in this weakness, but we must remember Ecclesiastes 1 which reminds us that “…there is nothing new under the sun.” and especially in our modern Western culture of doubt the vast majority of us begin in doubt and process from there.

The second part of secrecy’s power is found in its outward thrust. We already recognize the insidious lying voice inside trying to convince us of our extreme sin and unique evil, but we cannot forget the effect it has upon our outward selves. We hide from the very people who would bring us clarity or wisdom. In order to keep it hidden we do not seek counsel in which we could be straightened out or even comforted. We keep our mouths shut and choke behind our toothy smiles. Also, this perpetuates deception on our part to those around us. In our church family, or close friendships, where we should be open and honest, this creates a facade in order to protect us in our secrecy. Not only does it hurt and stunt us, but it brings us to lie to those we love the most around us.

Very few things perpetuate doubt like secrecy does. Keeping these terrifying thoughts inside only to be addressed in our own strength, a strength all too often found wanting. This isolates us, exaggerates our weakness, undercuts our support and lies to those we love the most. The worst part is that we have the key to this dark prison, if only we would open our mouth and chatter these bars. Do not be held alone in your weakness and doubt. Share it and perhaps discover something you didn’t not expect, strength.

Fear of Sin

We so easily fall into legalistic pits. We like rules, as a people, no matter how often we rail against them. Very few of us actually desire anarchy. We like or even crave structure and rules, so when we ascribe to a worldview, it is not uncommon for us to immediately begin to look for its dos and don’ts. Something practical we can hold on to or even begin to use to gauge our success. In ancient Israel, this led to the rise of the pharisaical law and its required list of moral laws and guidelines. While rooted in good intentions, this led to a structure that the Son of God himself despised. These men were so afraid of sin that they built up a false religion around their true one in hopes of protecting it.

Can we begin to see the parallels here with our modern-day way of doing things. The Enlightenment, for all of its wonderful outworkings created a flood of anti-scriptural and severely liberal theologies. Men, believing themselves and their intellect to be the apex of creation,  believed themselves capable of knowing God without the virtue of His special revelation. Out of this rash of deviant theologies was born the neo-orthodoxy movement in Europe , and the fundamentalist movement in North America. These were the pendulum opposite reactions to the widespread liberal thought that the Enlightenment had birthed. North American fundamentalism developed from a well-meaning attempt at addressing heresy and misleading doctrine into a full-blown recreation of the pharisaical law. Suddenly, not only were more traditional theologies being preserved, but more conservative social structures were becoming law as well. One could not drink, smoke, dance or even attend the theater. These became the rules we would obsess over the next couple hundred years. They were the moral structure we would set up in order to gauge a man’s spirituality. We began to wonder if drunkenness is wrong, then to drink must be as well. If our body was a temple, then to smoke is evil.

I find myself then, asking, how much drink is too much? If my lips feel tingly, am I an alcoholic? If my head feels light have I sinned? I am so scared of crossing that line that the line becomes all that I can think about. I do not believe that Christ or the apostles wondered when they drank (which they undoubtedly did) if their lips were tingly, or their heads a little light, if they were drunkards after one drink or two. Scripture does not define what a drunkard was as it was generally and easily understood who the drunkard was, and what drunkenness was.

Ephesians 5 says “Do not become drunk with wine, for this leads to reckless behavior, rather be filled with the Spirit.”  The passage goes on to talk about what positive things you should be doing in order to be more like God. It is more focused on the need for a Spirit filled life, than it is on the need to expunge alcohol from one’s life.

Do not misunderstand me, though, I fully agree with the importance of grasping the weight  of your own sin, and what a price that was for Christ to pay for you. I do not wish to cheapen that by any means, but the Bible is clear in this. We are victors. We win, and we are righteous already, because we are made righteous by the one who paid our sin’s debt. We no longer owe that Strong Man anything and we are free to live in the hope of righteousness.

Stephen Mattson

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