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a minor loss of fidelity?

There’s this thing that occurs when you change some formatting in Excel from one version to another and this error window pops up…

It always makes me smirk because it sounds so serious! Oh no! Features have been degraded! Yikes!

But of course fidelity is a serious thing. Data file integrity notwithstanding, our society has somewhat lost its edge on faithfulness and the very high price you pay for it. It’s become almost the STANDARD to not be with one person for life any more, and you meet more people who have had multiple sexual partners than those who have not had any or just one – not to mention those who have cheated on a spouse or significant other.

In the church, however, adultery is pretty high up there on the not-to-do list and without exception, cheating ranks up with murder and child abuse. As it should. It is an assault on the very core of who God is and His representation on earth of His love and relationship with His people and it’s no mistake that He uses terms throughout the Bible of adultery and even so far as “whore” when referencing how unfaithful we are to Him. (Read the book of Hosea if you haven’t, one of the most twisted ridiculous dramas of the Bible and therefore one of my favorites.)

Now usually, I appreciate and agree with The Gospel Coalition, an online resource of helpful articles and reflections on all kinds of things from the latest movies to theological interpretations of mimes. (Actually I have no idea if anyone has discussed mimes.) But today’s post got me thinking… http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2012/06/25/7-steps-to-avoid-sexual-sin-and-stay-in-ministry/

I’d love to hear from some of you I know out there who have something to say on the whole topic. The article felt a little trite and formulaic – I mean 7 steps already – and I was a little surprised at… well, never mind. I’m going to leave that open for whomever wants to comment…

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9 thoughts on “a minor loss of fidelity?

  1. Just surfing the “tags” on WordPress and found this post. God bless you! Seriously! Oh, that we would take our vows and our character more seriously!

    Thanks for taking a stand.

  2. Let me open by saying that I completely agree with your opening point. Fidelity is huge. It’s profoundly important. The husband and wife relationship is designed to be the best imaging to the Divine here on earth. It is indeed tragic whenever and wherever fidelity occurs.

    That being said, as one of those pastors who has disqualified himself through infidelity, I find the 7-steps to be complete and utter bull shit. In fact, I’d say it’s an insult to shit to compare those points to it.

    Why not focus on pursuing a healthy marriage? Why not highlight the importance of companionship? Why not call for couples to be affectionate, encouraging, and supportive? Why focus on avoiding everything wrong rather than building what’s right?

    Ok, so maybe I went a little extreme, after all, in the “pride point” he did say you should seek help for a bad marriage, but seriously, is that all the airtime pursuing the Kingdom gets?

    And don’t get me started on those points being a means to “redeem the tragedy.” How is dishing out crap redemptive? Redemption is reaching out to those who are broken and hurting, not pointing at a fallen brother and saying, “Here’s how to not be like him.”

    With “wisdom,” “guidance,” and “brotherly encouragement” like that, I’m amazed more pastors aren’t running off with the secretary.

  3. Joe, this is why I love you so much! Yes yes yes! Giving people who are struggling a don’t do list seems like the completely wrong thing to do. And not equipping people with coping skills and the ability to understand WHY they are seeking after other things and people seems limiting and like putting a band aid on a severed limb. I wish this article was a little more real and gritty and raw. But as a general rule we are way too afraid to talk that way. Sigh.

  4. There’s wisdom in taking proactive steps (not a “don’t list”) towards limiting exposure to things that might cause you to fall. I have freedom in Christ to do a whole lot of things, but I can choose to avoid many of them and have friends and my wife hold me accountable so that those things don’t cause me to stumble deeper into ruin. I’m cynical of all-encompassing, or seemingly comprehensive lists, but I don’t think Neely’s list form his article is intended to be comprehensive. Fleeing from evil is a whole heck of a lot more effective than talking about why we are inclined to sin. I can talk all day with a group of middle school boys about why they seem drawn to pornography, but that’s not taking any practical steps towards avoiding sin. I can love my wife and pursue the Kingdom of God while at the same time rush headlong into sin because I haven’t put up a single road block in my life to keep me from the cliff.

    1. I think you missed my point James … although given your standard pop-evangelical responses to much more substantial issues, I’m also guessing we have fairly different takes on faith and the Christian life.

  5. bare with me, I think it will be worth it

    1Tim 1:8 +11 Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully (…) in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.

    vv.9-10 are important but so is understanding this sentence without the parenthetical statement.

    If we agree that the law is good, (summarized in the 10 Commandments, summarized further by Jesus, love your God, love your neighbor), then we see that there’s a way to use the law legally which means there’s a way to use it illegally. What would an illegal use of the law be? If we go back up a few verses we read this;

    1Tim 1:5-7 The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.

    Paul says to Timothy the job of pastor is love and that it should issue from a pure heart. He goes on to say that there have been some pastors who have wandered away from the base of their charge, they have forgotten that it’s about love. These pastors who have forgotten that it’s all about love start to teach the law without love. That’s how you use the law of God illegally, it’s not just wrong, it’s illegal, it’s against the law, it deserves a death sentence.

    Paul tells us to teach the law, that it’s good, but it has to be done in light of the gospel. That it has to be done in agreement with the gospel. That the teaching of the law has to be a conformation of the gospel. That there must be conformity, congruence, consensus, and harmony between the gospel and the law. (and yes I had to use a thesaurus) When was the last time you heard the law presented in harmony with the good news of Jesus’s life, death, birth, resurrection, ascension, eternal, reign, and intercession on your behalf? I pray it hasn’t been too long.

    When you read Neeley’s post it’s like reading the 10 commandments in Exodus 20 without v 2. (it’s worth looking up). God says “I’m your God, I’ve chosen you, you’re mine, I love you, out of all the people in the world I’ve chosen you”, 2nd person singular (plural too but that’s a different topic). God says “Robin, Anthony, Joe, James, you don’t have to live like a slave anymore, I know you don’t know what it looks like to live like my child so let me show you. Have no other God’s before me …”

    I don’t know Neeley, I don’t know the context out of which he gives us these 7 laws for avoiding sexual sin. Perhaps he could be charged with preaching the law illegally. I do know that when it happens, when the law is preached without the gospel that people get hurt, and that’s an understatement. Preaching the law illegally forgets that we can’t keep the law and that we need a savior. It forgets that there are bruised and broken people who need to be sought out, brought back, bound up, and healed and it needs to happen tenderly, it needs to happen in love.

    The same can happen when a pastor talks about abortion, homosexuality, abuse, drugs, alcoholism, the list can go on. People are alienated from the church and unfortunately from the gospel. Alienated from the gospel because a pastor taught the law without the gospel. Paul said that such a person should be eternally condemned. (Gal 1:8,9). Yet Jesus’s work is sufficient for him too.

    The law is good. There is a place for these 7 Steps to Avoid Sexual Sin. There is a place for the 10 Commandments, Proverbs, and every imperative statement in scripture. The place is within Jesus. Then instead of a list of what not to do we find the Father guiding us into the health and healing of living in his world.

    In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths.
    Be not wise in your own eyes;
    fear the LORD, and turn away from evil.
    It will be healing to your flesh
    and refreshment to your bones.

    Proverbs 3:6-8

    and when we forget to acknowledge him, when we think ourselves wise, when we run full on into the evil desires of our flesh, our God is running after us. Surely goodness and mercy will PURSUE me all the days of my life.

    1. Fantastic post Ted. That will and does most certainly preach! I’ve already dropped my copy that was emailed to me from WordPress into Evernote. Thanks!

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