Friday, April 14, 2006

Ordering salvation, with sin on the side


I enjoyed a rousing debate over on Vox Popoli the other day that began when the host took issue with even the notion of a tolerant, loving Christ. That image won't do. The Jesus Vox Day follows is no peace-loving hippie. Vox and those who breathlessly parrot him would like you to overlook Christ's commandment to love one another and see Him for what he really was and is: An anti-government, kick-ass hater.

As discussions do, this one became tangential and turned to sin and repentance. Like an increasing number of Christians, Vox Day subscribes to "drive-thru Christianity" in which a person pulls up to Jesus and says, “Hey, dude, I accept you as my personal Savior” and drive off, with a lifetime supply of holier-than-though.

It’s especially convenient, because drive-Thru Christians are the first to tell you, if you call their un-Christlike behavior into question - that the Bible assures an endlessly refillable Big Gulp of forgiveness for the redeemed. It doesn’t matter how much you sin or what you do, just as long at the end of the day you say you’re sorry.

"Shall we sin, that grace might abound, etc etc." Vox reminded me. "…apparently you missed the bit about 70 times 7. Whether you like the answer or not, it is still "yes".

It’s a good thing that Christ preached turning the other cheek, given the slap in the face such an interpretation returns for the gift of grace.

If acceptance of Christ is necessary to become a Christian, a sincere attitude of repentance is the fruit that proves that you are.

Consider repentance. If you've wronged me in the most horrible way and you come to me and say, "I'm sorry. Forgive me," and after a few days you continue to wrong me as you always did, then you were not truly repentant, were you?If you accept Christ, the virtue of him within you leads to true repentance and change. Professed Christians who continue to happily commit the same sins they did before being "saved," - neither showing the Spirit, or feeling no conviction from It - throws the sincerity of the Christian claim in doubt. A person filled with the Spirit of Christ, which come in after you accept him, can't help but strive for a higher character. The spirit compels. They seek to overcome sin, not condone it.

What Vox and others like him fail to understand is that their brand of drive-thru Christianity is so appealing because it advocates an "acceptance" of Christ in name only. The spirit is missing and not wanted, because it complicates the fun of ongoing sin.Is this judgmental? The Bible says, “By your fruits you shall know them,” and “Faith without works is dead.”

The Bible also says, “Straight is the gate and narrow the way that leads to life, few they be that go thereby.”

Perhaps that is because the drive-thru lane is so wide.

31 comments:

dlkjdfsa said...

I believe without a doubt that if Jesus were alive today nearly all Christians would hate him. I wish people that believe that Christ was god would live by his example. This world would be a much better place. Pretty strange words coming from an "atheist". I feel I'm far more Christ like than nearly all the Christians I've meet. I have a recycling tattoo on my shoulder representing the spectrum of concern I have for humanity. I'm an organ donor and an environmentalist. I constantly worry about the devastating effects man is doing to this planet and have spent countless hours trying to make other people concerned. I acknowledge people as I pass them on the sidewalk with a smile.... I gave a piece of bread to a bum today. In essence I do the one thing that I think the bible hits right on the head. Treat others as you would want to be treated. This includes our children's children. There the ones I think about the most. How can we keep doing what were doing to there future home? Because man isn't smart enough yet and doesn't view himself as a part of humanity as a whole. Our technological capability grew faster than our concern for the future. Our selfishness is very DEVIL like. Humanity is indeed going to be hit hard by the greed and impatience of man.

Morgan said...

"I believe without a doubt that if Jesus were alive today nearly all Christians would hate him."

I made that point on VP, and it incensed the parrots. They're convinced if Jesus were alive today, he'd be hanging out with them, kicking back and talking about how he hates blacks, Mexicans and gays.

"Our selfishness is very DEVIL like. Humanity is indeed going to be hit hard by the greed and impatience of man. I feel I'm far more Christ like than nearly all the Christians I've meet."

That's because you are. Drive-thru Christians just claim the title. The more I examine their theology of convenience the more I understand why it appears to them.

Right wing drive-thru Christians are interesting creatures. They decry homosexuality and other behaviors they deem anti-Christian, but they are as libertine in their behavior, only their sins are usually hate, lust, and materialism.

But they cover *their* sins with the 7 x 70 clause. I'll have to ask them how the born again homosexual who "repents" of his gay lifestyle at the end of each day is any different than the born again guy who similarly continues in his own patterns of hatred, lust, etc.

I wish all those who profess Christ would be like Him. If they were, we'd see such a resurgence of goodness in this world that nothing could overcome it. Unfortunately, I don't see that happening. Truly welcoming Christ extacts a cost most people aren't willing to pay -the ego.

... I wonder if Christ doesn't enter us through the mere, unspoken longing and change us from within.

Perhaps Christ is drawn to the Good Heart of those even self-professed Christians scorn, while those same self-professed Christians are absent His spirt even though, having been asked, Christ saw into their hearts and realized He wasn't really wanted....

prettylady said...

Truly welcoming Christ extacts a cost most people aren't willing to pay -the ego.

... I wonder if Christ doesn't enter us through the mere, unspoken longing and change us from within.


Yes, indeed, my dear, you are correct. The trouble is, if we are here at all, we ALL still have ego. Ego is no reason to judge someone, oneself included.

I came across an absolutely fabulous book in the Strand yesterday: "What Jesus Meant" by Gary Wills. (I am not patient enough to post a link on this execrable Blogger software; you may find it if you go to Amazon or simply Google it.) It emphasizes Jesus' radicalism and his deliberately a-political nature. I found it very satisfying reading.

The ego can twist everything to its service; however, the Christ within us can equally use those ego handles to open us up again. I am coming to discover that the Christ within me mandates an ever-changing process of engagement. It is bringing me a great deal of joy.

Larry Who said...

When Gandhi was asked about Jesus, he answered, "Jesus I love, it's you Christians that I have trouble with."

As a Christian, I accept your rebuke of us Christians as being a bunch of hypocrites because without a doubt I am the chief hypocrite.

But be that as it may, Christ is real.

I was an agnostic who was starting a publishing company in 1985 and all I needed was $50,000 to put it together. Time ran out. Money ran out. And the only thing that I had left was a $125,000 life insurance policy. So, suicide was the logical answer for me and my family.

On the Monday that I was going to commit suicide, I stopped to see a businessman. We talked about baseball. Then, in the middle of our conversation, he looked at me and said, "You are thinking about committing suicide, aren't you?"

I said to him, "Who told you?

He said, "God told me while we were talking."

That happened on May 20, 1985. I gave my life to Christ on a bathroom floor later that day.

So, Morgan the Token Hippie, when I looked at your picture, I saw a pretty young lady who has parents that have been praying for her for years. These same parents and others have told her that she is called to preach and to do great things for the kingdom of God. And Morgan, you have laughed at them.

But I am here to tell you, that God says, "Morgan, in the next twelve months, you life is going to be turned upside down. And you are going to end up on your knees saying, 'Yes, Lord. I will serve You with a whole heart!"

Morgan, what do you think?

Morgan said...

Larry Who, you ask me what I think. I think you are an extremely wonderful man with an incredible and inspiring story. But you are also a man who is making assumptions about someone you don't even know.

I am a Christian.

Oddly enough, it is automatically assumed by some that anyone who speaks out against the Theology of Convenience must not be a Christian. I believe this may be because fewer Christians are willing to speak out, lest they be branded "liberal" or "Godless" by the right-wing faction who've claimed ownership of God and his message.

Like you, I struggle with sin. But I get the impression that neither of us revel in it, or defend it and think that graces gives us an out to live a libertine lifestyle. When we err, we seek forgiveness and try to do better because the Spirit within convicts us.

Larry who, I'd love to get your thoughts on this. I forgive you in advance for making erroneous assumptions regarding my faith. I'm sure that you, as a Brother in Christ, did not mean it.

I look forward to a response, which hopefully will include your take on this.

And thanks so much for your comments. I found them...interesting.

Morgan said...

"The ego can twist everything to its service; however, the Christ within us can equally use those ego handles to open us up again. I am coming to discover that the Christ within me mandates an ever-changing process of engagement. It is bringing me a great deal of joy."

I always love the way you make me think, Pretty Lady. You keep me ever on my toes.

You're right about my earlier musings, as if we were truly stripped of ego we'd be holy. And we aren't holy. Perhaps a better way to state it is that the Spirit of Christ, when it enters us, doesn't supercede the ego, but keeps it in check.

The Spirit doesn't boss the Ego around, but taps it on the shoulder and whispers, "Now, are you sure this is where you want to go."

Sometimes we ignore it and when we do we see the disasterous results of brushing off our wise inner counsel.

I will read the book you suggested. The debate on VP has set me thinking and finally unlocked - for me - what frustrates me most about the Christian community, and how I much more I myself need to heed the Spirit myself.

As I once told you, nothing happens by accident...

dlkjdfsa said...

Nothing happens by accident...... When I saw The Token Hippie writing on Pretty Lady, I thought for sure that Hippie found the link on my website. But as a browsed Lady's archives I came to find that in this huge sea of Bloggers that the two of them had known each other far before I was involved, I was the new kid on the blogk. Very odd indeed, almost supernatural, the truth is We find things if were looking, I've been looking everywhere. Pretty Lady gave me a little spirit recently helping me out of a very low state of mind. I'm glad there are people in the world with the Spirit of Christ in them.

I recently went on a mission to Kill God. I know it sounds weird coming from an "atheist" how can I kill something I don't believe exists. Well I wanted to kill what I thought god was, a made up construct which enabled people to use the weak minded for there money and voting power. I was wrong.... I have a very analytical mind. I studied art and science. There are only two things I have experienced, matter and energy. I could not except that this Spirit thing existed for it didn't consist of matter or energy. I worked on my own philosophy and came to some radical conclusions. We all have spirits, they're called effects and consist of patterns within matter and energy. Ideas and experiences are great examples of what spirit is. It doesn't have it's own matter or energy, it simply rides within the matter and energy that is always here, as patterns. This matter and energy that's always been here is called infinity and people understandably get it confused with the term "God" It can not be killed because unlike evrything else, it was not created. Christ as the spirit is wanting to do no harm, being generous and kind, not fearing our inevitable death.... These are all things I embrace. I thought I was the only Christlike Atheist. Resently I clicked one of my favorite buttons (next blog) and came upon a wonderful website that was what I needed, he is called the "Atheist spy", probably the only other atheist on the planet that has the spirit of Christ in him. http://atheistspy.blogspot.com/

The truth about nothing is, it never happens.....

Logic holds the keys to life.

Morgan said...

"This matter and energy that's always been here is called infinity and people understandably get it confused with the term "God" It can not be killed because unlike evrything else, it was not created."

This is a pretty revolutionary statement coming from an avowed atheist. I'd have to wonder if you can even continue to claim the title. Every atheist I've ever known has maintained that God was created - by man - and contrary to the Bible God was created in man's image and not the other way around.

They're right in a way. We all, I think, struggle to grasp the essence of God. Whilst dyeing eggs with my little ones we've been watching a fascinating special on saints and sainthood. The hunger to know Him is deep, and some sacrifice their lives in the quest. It's fascinating. It's disturbing. It's inspiring.

I'll have to check out the atheist spy blog. I'm always intrigued by people like that. Ironically enough, there would be no shortage of drive-thru Christians who would say that good man's soul is lost, while theirs is safe even though they carry a claim to Christianity that is little more than a shell to a hollow interior.

"Logic holds the keys to life."

Oh, here I disagree. Logic is just one of the keys.

"Pretty Lady gave me a little spirit recently helping me out of a very low state of mind. I'm glad there are people in the world with the Spirit of Christ in them."

She is indeed a wonderful and lively friend. And blessed with an extraordinary talent.

prettylady said...

We all have spirits, they're called effects and consist of patterns within matter and energy. Ideas and experiences are great examples of what spirit is. It doesn't have it's own matter or energy, it simply rides within the matter and energy that is always here, as patterns.

You figured this out on your own? You are a very clever boy. I know of some books you might enjoy, but for now the Internet seems to be sufficient.

And the two of you are too kind. I am honored to be a part of this ever-growing circle.

dlkjdfsa said...

Rabbitslayer - "Logic holds the keys to life."

Token Hippie - Oh, here I disagree. Logic is just one of the keys.

Rabbitslayer - I love disagreements. I especially like when I find myself disagreeing with myself. I went back and forth in my over active hypomanic mind, Logic is the key to staying alive. Example - Drinking a bottle of scotch I seem to fall down and hurt my head (That was me last Mardi Gras). The Mardi Gras before I had a few beers and had a good time. Logic demonstrated that if I don't want to fall down and hurt myself I should not drink a bottle of scotch, the day of Mardi Gras had nothing to do with it. These logical clues we need to pay attention to, if we want to stay alive.

Art is the twist though. It has nothing to do with staying alive. I have in fact focused my life on it and it has made my life much less comfortable. Logic suggests I should have had a normal paying job. Logic demonstrates that money aids in my survival, it provides food and shelter. But I would not really be living without art. Logic helps us stay alive but art and love gives us a reason to be alive.

dlkjdfsa said...

Token Hippie - This is a pretty revolutionary statement coming from an avowed atheist. I'd have to wonder if you can even continue to claim the title. Every atheist I've ever known has maintained that God was created - by man - and contrary to the Bible God was created in man's image and not the other way around.

Rabbitslayer - I have had a little problem with the title "atheist" also, but picked up the handle recently out of respect for the religious and there views. I still don't believe in the "God" that most religious people believe in. An individual consciousness that is out side themself. This form of "God" I do believe was created by man. Here's the kicker though. I think that this design, the mammalian form is a godlike design... Take the wheel, another godlike design. Did man invent it? Imagine a palm tree falling over in a hurricane, the palm was torn off and the roots were snapped. It is laying on the ground a simple and very long wheel. It could then use it to move things by placing things on it a rolling. Wheels exist because round works! Man did not invent the wheel any more than we invented language, however, Man did invent Michelin tires and English. Most animals use language, granted it usually is a bark or chirp that means, "Wanna get down" or "this is my space", but they know what there saying. This could be called intelligent design but I call it "what works, will prosper." Take the mammalian form for instance, a very intelligent design! Animals need a body to keep organs, they need a head to keep sensory input devices and a CPU, this enables them to use logic and relate to there environment, appendages are very useful for mobility and manipulating there environment. This basic form can be found in nearly all animals in the embryonic state. It's a perfect form because it works, just like the wheel. Was there a conciseness that designed it, I believe there wasn't, that's why I call myself an atheist. Do I think there's a conciseness that possesses that form within infinity that can recognize it, yes, I'm absolutely positive of it. I can see it, I posses the design and I have a conciseness. Life comes about in the universe because it works. We made a version of "god" in our image. I think a more accurate version of this "god" person would be the embryo or the egg. The only thing life needs are the right conditions for it prosper. And since I believe in infinity, time is not a factor. Life is inevitable, life is eternal within infinity and that is beautiful.

After I wrote "zero", my philosophy on how all life is god, I called myself a "totalist" Perhaps if people start to recognizing it, I will drop the atheist thing.

ChiRho said...

Consider repentance. If you've wronged me in the most horrible way and you come to me and say, "I'm sorry. Forgive me," and after a few days you continue to wrong me as you always did, then you were not truly repentant, were you?If you accept Christ, the virtue of him within you leads to true repentance and change. "Professed Christians who continue to happily commit the same sins they did before being "saved," - neither showing the Spirit, or feeling no conviction from It - throws the sincerity of the Christian claim in doubt. A person filled with the Spirit of Christ, which come in after you accept him, can't help but strive for a higher character. The spirit compels. They seek to overcome sin, not condone it."

Okay...if a true Christian is one who only truly repents (which literally means to turn from sin), then who qualifies? Who hasn't begged forgiveness for lying, only to lie again? And lust? His Holy Law demands perfection, always; internally as well as outwardly. The command is not "try to avoid sin," it is avoid sin now and forever.

Complacency is probably the most overlooked and least nagging sin upon one's conscience, but it remains enough to separate us from God eternally.

It is true that the Spirit works in the Christian not only faith but good works in accordance with the Divine Law, but our sinfulness yet continues. Sanctification is not smooth ascent, but rather a process of daily peaks and valleys with the sinner never reaching the summit in this world. And within soteriology, justification must be understood distinctly monergistic as in "solus Christus."

chirho said...

Um, that should read "justification and narrow sanctification should be understood distinctly as monergistic..."

Typographical sinner I am, I ask forgiveness.

Morgan said...

Fair question, chiro, and before I tackle it let me tell you how much I appreciate your quick mind, civility and ability to keep me on my toes.

I've pondered your question over my coffee and here's what I've come up with. I hope it will be considered an adequate response:

It's completely true that we don't completely lose our ego our sin nature or - as Pretty Lady pointed out - our ego when the Spirit enters us. We continue to have the desire to sin, and to want our own way.

But the difference is that what used to be sin committed through willfulness is now sin committed through weakness.

Christians who've turned away from sin upon accepting Christ and receiving his Spirit, still stumble and ask the Spirit within to pick them up, dust them off and make them stronger. But they don't run gleefully down the path of sin day after day. The desire to be better, to do better is too strong.

The difference is between wilfull and weakness is the difference between the chronic gossip who revels in spreading rumors and the reformed gossip who slips up and later - feeling horrible for what she's doing - seeks out her neighbor for forgiveness, seeks same from God and sincerely prays for strength not to do it again.

It's the difference between the glutton who gorges from morning to night and the person who, while struggling with his appetite, eats half a dozen donuts in a moment of weakness.

It's the difference between someone who, in a moment of anger, says, "I hate you," and feels awful that the words passed their lips and the person who says, "I hate you," and means it.

Morgan said...

Fair question, Chiro, and before I tackle it let me tell you how much I appreciate your quick mind, civility and ability to keep me on my toes.

I've pondered your question over my coffee and here's what I've come up with. I hope it will be considered an adequate response:

It's completely true that we don't completely lose our ego our sin nature or - as Pretty Lady pointed out - our ego when the Spirit enters us. We continue to have the desire to sin, and to want our own way.

But the difference is that what used to be sin committed through willfulness is now sin committed through weakness.

Christians who've turned away from sin upon accepting Christ and receiving his Spirit, still stumble and ask the Spirit within to pick them up, dust them off and make them stronger. But they don't run gleefully down the path of sin day after day. The desire to be better, to do better is too strong.

The difference is between wilfull and weakness is the difference between the chronic gossip who revels in spreading rumors and the reformed gossip who slips up and later - feeling horrible for what she's doing - seeks out her neighbor for forgiveness, seeks same from God and sincerely prays for strength not to do it again.

It's the difference between the glutton who gorges from morning to night and the person who, while struggling with his appetite, eats half a dozen donuts in a moment of weakness.

It's the difference between someone who, in a moment of anger, says, "I hate you," and feels awful that the words passed their lips and the person who says, "I hate you," and means it.

Morgan said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
thimscool said...

Morgan,

I want to comment on the 'spirited debate' that took place at Vox's site.

First of all, let me say that I was quite sympathetic to your pov; and I was initially quite impressed with how you handled the grubby mugging you received...

However, the way that you insinuated that Vox is motivated by racism was underhanded and, yes, passive agressive. And calling him an 'angry little man' became quite tiring. These tactics substantially affected your impact.

I am writing to express my dissapointment, but I want to reemphasize how impressed I was with your fearless wit and patience in the first half of the fray.

I am not a Christian, but I am very interested in Christianity, and I want to believe. The God that Vox is talking about takes care of the necessary soverign elements of that eminent position. But the thing that is unique about Christianity is the way that it builds a house of love and forgiveness on the bloody bedrock of the old testiment.

Yes, God once incited genocide; but that was because death doesn't really matter (what aparently matters is that you live according to God's will). Here, He'll prove it: He'll arange to have his own son die, in great suffering no less, while expressing love for his persecuters. Then, in ultimate victory, His Son will rise again, proving that death and suffering are no excuse for avoiding your duty.

To love your enemies, your friends, your family, and yourself. And to take on the responsibilities that come with that love.

I think that it is a pity that the thread did not develop into an earnest discussion.

Morgan said...

"However, the way that you insinuated that Vox is motivated by racism was underhanded and, yes, passive agressive. And calling him an 'angry little man' became quite tiring. These tactics substantially affected your impact."

Point taken with a dose of humility, thimscool. You are correct and I can say nothing to dispute you without looking like an even bigger fool than I am.

I'm taking more of a look at myself these days, and how I come across. I need to remind myself that the point of a discussion is not to win, but to exchange viewpoints. Of course, we all hope to win converts to our point of view and you are exactly correct when you point out that pissing people off lowers your chance of winning them over. ;-)

That's why I moved the discussion over here. I'm a polarizing character on VP, and my ascerbic nature has made it hard for me to make even the most benign statement without it becoming a flash point.

Vox is pretty good about holding my feet to the fire on things, and I think that's been constructive.

But, as you point out, I obviously have more work to do.

I do appreciate your comments. It's a mirror that's been held up to me before and while the reflection is unpleasant I need to be reminded now and then of just how I appear to others.

Thank you.

Morgan said...

"To love your enemies, your friends, your family, and yourself. And to take on the responsibilities that come with that love.

I think that it is a pity that the thread did not develop into an earnest discussion."

Such excellent points, and an even greater reminder of a missed opportunity.

thimscool said...

"I'm a polarizing character on VP, and my ascerbic nature has made it hard for me to make even the most benign statement without it becoming a flash point."

It's too bad. But you know what they say... "mess with the bull, eventually you'll get the horns".

Don't let the jackals get you down. They are compelled like bulimics to regurgitate Vox’s points with a side of bile. Those of us who would cheer you on might have other pressing engagements, and so we stay silent. But we’re still there, and that is what you should remember when you think the entire audience is hostile and unreachable.

-Luke

Morgan said...

"Those of us who would cheer you on might have other pressing engagements, and so we stay silent. But we’re still there, and that is what you should remember when you think the entire audience is hostile and unreachable."

Thank you, Luke. What you say is very kind. I do hear from quite a few people who express the same sentiments. Most are lurkers but you'd be surprised at what regular posters agree with me privatley through email because they fear the backlash of taking my side publicly.

It's always appreciated, and I would reward the kindness by keeping my debates sharp, but blunting my hostilities.

For what it's worth, you've made my day. Thank you.

Dave said...

I was actually rather confused trying to follow that discussion, because I substantially agreed with both you and Vox. I concluded that the undercurrent of hostility stems from political differences. Although I may use ideological labels a little too freely, it's because I think they are basically meaningless, a social convenience.

On the point, I note that this is a very old question among Christians. I think it comes down to the fact that we cannot judge another's heart (including their intentions, salvation, and repentance), but we can judge their behavior.

Thus Jesus is found openly associating with "sinners" who seek forgiveness, but we are called to avoid associating with "Christians" who openly sin. God judges the heart.

thimscool said...

Morgan,

Is your husband the very erudite Larry from VP?

Morgan said...

"Is your husband the very erudite Larry from VP?"

No. My Larry doesn't blog. He's far more sensible than I.

Morgan said...

"Thus Jesus is found openly associating with "sinners" who seek forgiveness, but we are called to avoid associating with "Christians" who openly sin. God judges the heart."

That's an excellent point, Dave.

eaglewood said...

Morgan,

I am a little late to this party but I wish to give my two cents here. I surly hope that most sane people would not look at Vox as a paragon of biblical theology. He can be entertaining and have some astute political observations but I have found him to be quite lacking in biblical underpinnings. He like most people see in the Word what they want to see not what He wants them to see. There is quite a difference. Vox is of the kick butt and take no prisoners mentality so that is what he sees in Christ and he tends to discount the other scriptures about Him. Others look at the benevolent and forgiving Christ and discount His other attributes because that is what they want to see. The truth is that all of these attributes of Yeshua are true. Yeshua is quite complex and hard to define down to one viewpoint without diminishing his other aspects.

That being said I found it somewhat perplexing that you would condemn those you call drive through Christians for their unwillingness to give up their pet sins when you have one of your own. I know we all struggle with sin and even I have my own problems and sins (Pride being the chief one for me). I want you to understand that I am not condemning you, only the Holy Spirit can condemn and if you feel any then it is from Him not me. Three posts down you made the stunning (to me) proclamation that you write erotic fiction (pornography for the mind). If this is what you want to do I cannot stop you, but the Word is pretty clear on maintaining a pure heart, and thinking on the things that are pure, good, just and holy. As someone who has had a problem with pornography of both the visual and written kind I cannot say that it is pure, good, just, or holy. As a matter of fact most written porn would fall into the category of glorifying actions that would be condemned by G_d. We are also not to do things that would cause others to falter in their walk towards salvation, and the proclamation that you write this stuff could cause another to stumble because he/she could say look the Christians are no different than we are. Your desire to write pornography is a willful unrepentant decision and not one of weakness with a desire to remove yourself from that sinful situation. I am sorry if this comes across as harsh but I found it to be both perplexing and somewhat hypocritical for you to say what you said when you are reveling in your own sin.

Morgan said...

Hi Eaglewood,

I certainly appreciate your thoughts and opinions, and quite agree with your assessment that there's a duality to Christ that bridges both my and Vox's versions. Someone pointed out during our debate that we tend to fix our own image upon God, and that is true.

If one is a harsh person who finds comfort in a ridgidly disciplined lifestyle, then they will find comfort on a similar image of God, and cling to verses that support that image.

A person who takes comfort in the loving and accepting aspect of Christ will focus on the verses in which He displays those attributes.

Now, to the issue of my erotic writing:

I don't know if you read all the comments that followed that post or not, but if you did you'll see that I don't deal in images, but in words. I don't write about real people, so there's no real person to lust about in my stories.

Yes, Eaglewood, I write about sex, but I have a niggling feeling that our attitudes towards sex are probably different. I don't consider sex or sexual to be a dirty thing, or something to be ashamed of. I believe God gave us sexual urges and if you read the Songs of Solomon you'll find some pretty racy stuff. Solomon was quite fond of his wife's breasts. He was a very sexual king, and was not ashamed. He was also a wise man, and loved by God.

What I write, I write for adults - mostly women. Judging by my email, the majority of my readers are married women - often tired mommies who desperately need to spark their lagging libido. Does my writing induce lust? Oh yes. But it's lust these women direct at their husbands. When they read the stories, they are the heroine and he is the hero.

Is it possible that an unmarried woman or man may access my writing? Of course! But I feel no more accountable over than than the winemaker should if his wares are purchased by an alcoholic.

Sex, like drinking, isn't a sin within itself.

Anger and hatred are sins, you know, and plenty of novels include scenes of horrific violence. Many of these books are written by professed Christian authors. I fear you have your work cut out for you this day, since now - having called me out on my writing - you will be duty bound to examine the writings of other Christians and actually look for sins beyond sex. But I doubt that will happen, which is the very point.

Sex is a flashpoint for Christians, the glaring beacon that obscures hatred, racism, bigotry and myriad other sins they overlook when they see its hot red light. Why do you think that is? I think it is because the sin we seek to point out in others is the one we struggle the most with ourselves. For Christians, nothing makes them feel so dirty as lust, and if they can point the splinter out in the eye of their brother (or sister) it makes it easier to ignore the beam in their own.

So, in short, no I don't consider what I do to be sinful in the least and I really didn't find your words to be upsetting. You have every right to your opinion, Eaglewood, given that the nature of my writing seems to have captured your special attention.

I do hope things are better for you and your family. I have been thinking of you and praying in the wake of your loss.

Rest assured that God may hear the prayers of those you may least likely think he would. ;-)

eaglewood said...

“Yes, Eaglewood, I write about sex, but I have a niggling feeling that our attitudes towards sex are probably different. I don't consider sex or sexual to be a dirty thing, or something to be ashamed of. I believe God gave us sexual urges and if you read the Songs of Solomon you'll find some pretty racy stuff. Solomon was quite fond of his wife's breasts. He was a very sexual king, and was not ashamed. He was also a wise man, and loved by God.”

Song Of Solomon is also a rich story showing forth that G_d’s Love for us is very much like the love a man has for his wife. I too, do not consider sex or sexual things to be dirty as long as they are in their proper context. I love sex, after all G_d created sex, but he had a higher purpose for it than a couple of people meeting and “rutting it out”.

“Sex, like drinking, isn't a sin within itself.”

You are correct in the simple fact that neither of these are sins, but like a lot of things when taken out of context the acts themselves become sinful. A simple drink of wine with dinner is not bad, but if you drink two bottles of wine and are drunk to the point of loosing all control then you are a drunkard. Same with sex, a night of sexual intimacy with ones spouse is a beautiful thing, but if you have that same encounter with the next-door neighbor then it is sin. Sexual fantasy in of itself also is not sin if it is in context. I have fantasies about my wife all the time, but if I took those fantasies and applied them to someone else even if that “person” is fictional it would be wrong. That is the issue I have with erotic fiction. I would go so far as to say that if someone needed erotic fiction to “spice up” his or her sex life then there is a fundamentally deeper problem in the marriage. The vast majority of Christendom would deem erotic fiction in the sinful category, not because sex is bad or dirty, but because the vast majority of erotic fiction glorifies those things that G_d has deemed sinful, such as adultery, and fornication.

“Anger and hatred are sins, you know, and plenty of novels include scenes of horrific violence. Many of these books are written by professed Christian authors. I fear you have your work cut out for you this day, since now - having called me out on my writing - you will be duty bound to examine the writings of other Christians and actually look for sins beyond sex. But I doubt that will happen, which is the very point.”

I have to disagree with you here. Again it is context. Anger and hatred are not sins. If they are then G_d has sinned. You can be angry and not sin the same with hate. It is what you do with these very powerful emotions where sin can come in. If we act upon those emotions and do something like assaulting someone then the action is sinful. Again violence is not sinful if it is in the proper context. Yeshua himself used force to expel the moneychangers from the Temple. If an author uses violence or force in his writing it should be in context of either showing evil or the force used to stop evil. If it is used to glorify violence for the sake of violence then I have a problem with that as well. It would be nice if you could point out some of these authors in you claim. I have read many, Ted Dekker being one of my favorites. He has been known to use violence in his works, but it has always been in the context I mentioned.

”Sex is a flashpoint for Christians, the glaring beacon that obscures hatred, racism, bigotry and myriad other sins they overlook when they see its hot red light. Why do you think that is? I think it is because the sin we seek to point out in others is the one we struggle the most with ourselves. For Christians, nothing makes them feel so dirty as lust, and if they can point the splinter out in the eye of their brother (or sister) it makes it easier to ignore the beam in their own.”

This is not what I was doing here. You pointed out that Vox and his crowd were selling a brand of Christianity that overlooked our willful sinful nature. All I did was measure your words against the previous ones you have written. It does not matter weather or not you think it is sin, the Word is clear that we are not to be a stumbling block to those seeking Christ. We are also called to be set apart from the world (in the world but not part of it). If others cannot see the difference in us what reason do they have to seek us out? Obviously we see differently on this issue and my attempt is not to make you change your mind, only to show you where I am coming from.

I am sure I could become your worst nightmare, as I am one of the fundamentalists you rant and rave about, but I am fundamental in my beliefs not because I do not dare question, but because I have. Maybe I will write about that soon it would be too long to detail here.

Morgan said...

"I too, do not consider sex or sexual things to be dirty as long as they are in their proper context. I love sex, after all G_d created sex, but he had a higher purpose for it than a couple of people meeting and “rutting it out”."

My dear man, of course He did. But at the same time, He didn't mean for sex to always be this ethereal, loving act performed reverently - and missionary style -with the lights out.

Your lovely wife may be too demure to tell you this, but there are times that she - like every other woman - just wants to be taken. And while she loves you, love has nothing to do with it. Guys want to think it's all about love for women, because they can't handle the fact that their sweet little hausfrau can be horny like them. But women can be and while we love to be held and snuggled, there are many times we just want to be thrown down and pounded like a ten-penny nail. That's the difference between "sex" and "lovemaking" and you can have both in a good, Christian marriage. As you say, it's all about context. ;-)

I find it amusing that you're so quick to justify violence in media as being OK since it is in context while criticizing the context of my work, especially since your perceptions are likely wrong.

Erotica isn't a string of sex scenes, because that doesn't appeal to women. It's a *story* with sex scenes, and often these stories have moral messages that might surprise you. You wouldn't sit through a movie that was an endless string of shooting scenes; you'd want to know why the people were shooting. Same thing with erotica. No one's going to read a string of sex scenes. They want to know about the players. Why does he pursue her? Why is she afraid? In one novella I wrote, a wealthy recluse opens his home to a young mother left jilted by a lover who'd promised to wed her. She feels unworthy, but he wins her over through patience. And they marry. And then he pounds her like a ten penny nail. But they're married, and she loves it.

"All I did was measure your words against the previous ones you have written. It does not matter weather or not you think it is sin, the Word is clear that we are not to be a stumbling block to those seeking Christ"

Again that's a lot of nonsense. I have no control who buys my erotica. The majority of my email comes from women who write to thank me for the stories. You say this is a sign of a weak marriage. I say such a statement could just as easily be taken as the sign of a man who doesn't understand women. A couple can have a very strong marriage and still experience peaks and troughs in their libido. If a woman is in a lull, but wants to please her husband, fantasizing and/or reading erotica can give her a boost. And teach her some fun tricks he'll just love.

"I am sure I could become your worst nightmare, as I am one of the fundamentalists you rant and rave about"

Wrong again, Eaglewood. I don't consider you a nightmare. And I don't rant and rave. I have not one bit of problem with your taking the Bible literally. I just have a problem with people whose rigid theology prompts sanctimonious arguments so full of holes you could drive a chariot of fire through them.

You've given me a lot of opinions about sex, erotica, and sin. But you seem to have a murky view of all three, with nothing more than your own feelings to back up your argument.

You're assumption that you speak for the "vast majority of Christendom" cuts to the heart of the only problem I have with fundamentalists. You don't speak for all of Christendom. You don't speak for me. And you don't speak for Christ.

You seem like a really nice guy, but I don't put my faith in men - even men who appoint themselves representatives of Christ. I trust on the Lord to convict me, and while I certainly *could* write things that would make me feel ashamed, so far, I have not.

ChiRho said...

"But the difference is that what used to be sin committed through willfulness is now sin committed through weakness."

Even though I agree mostly with what you have said, a problem still remains.

Either by weakness, or the hardened willfullness, sin remains sin. Neither is better than the other, or less evil. God doesn't wink at a Christian sinner and rule harsher on an unbelieving sinner. Both (all) are equally guilty and worthy of eternal torment.

But they don't run gleefully down the path of sin day after day.

They may not run down the path, but if a Christian doesn't it's not because we don't desire to...it would only be because Christ has a firm grip on our hand and won't let us go. If it were up to us, the path would be well worn under (and because of) our feet. The carnal desire, that which remains until we pass from this temporal existence, proves us guilty. So, I have a hard time distinguishing Christians from non-Christians in regards to sin.

The lone separation is faith, which is confessed and believed.

Morgan said...

"So, I have a hard time distinguishing Christians from non-Christians in regards to sin."

What it ultimately boils down to is that we can't. No one knows another person's heart.

This seems to contradict the scripture, "by your fruits you shall know them," but it really doesn't. To me, it means while you may not know a persons heart, their actions speak volumes.

But again, how we see these fruits depends on individual interpretation. Eaglewood sees my writing about sex as sin. I can find nothing in the Bible that supports his prudish view that sexual fantasy is sinful, and I don't feel a conviction that it is wrong as I do it. Now, if I were to take it a step further and write about real people - like Antonio Banderas or Angelina Jolie - so that readers could *fix* their fantasy on a specific person...well, I wouldn't feel comfortable with that. The beauty of fictional characters is that you can become them in your mind..

All we really can do is our personal best, and pray daily for the Spirit to guide us and convict us if our personal path is wrong.

I believe if the Spirit does dwell within us, then we can't help but change from our path. We will be miserable until we do.

Ultimately, only the individual - and God - knows if the Spirit dwells within.