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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

More Muddled Musings & Flip Wilson's Geraldine


{Click on the title to see what I'm talking about.}

Somewhat of a mantra (or at least a reoccurring theme) on this site has been “inclinations are never chosen” for if they were (and if choices are always according to inclinations) then it stands to reason that any choice would require an infinite regress of choices and inclinations. Paralyses would set in before anyone ever chose anything!

When Misty Irons states that “the homosexual orientation [is] a fallen and yet unchosen condition…” what distinction is she trying to draw? After all, are any of our fallen inclinations chosen? Does the married man, for instance, who is bent on lusting after strange women (or strange animals for that matter), choose such an inclination? Of course not for our inclinations are never chosen. Notwithstanding, most certainly our present inclinations and subsequent choices flow from the font of past inclinations acted upon. The man who acts in such a way as to sear his conscience will be able to act in that same manner with much less resistance the next time similar temptation comes to bear. Conversely, the man who exercises himself unto godliness, gaining increasingly greater mastery over his members, is able to resist the devil with less effort when temptation should come through the hand of divine providence moving the pawn-tempter. So, although we don’t choose our inclinations directly, our choices certainly impact our future inclinations and subsequent choices. The world is rational after all and our choices do have consequences for which we are responsible.

So why is it that the sin of lusting after the same sex should gain some special status of consideration as opposed to the acts of thievery, serial killing or bestiality for that matter? All of these transgressions proceed from inclinations that are in accordance with a “fallen and yet unchosen condition” do they not? Now obviously lusting after the same sex is unnatural in a way that other sinful desires are not. Desiring shelter in a storm, for instance, is natural even though such a natural desire could become sinful when the shelter gained is against the owner’s wishes. So, at least in some sense, the inclination to lay down with the same sex is more deviant than otherwise lawful desires that are desired unlawfully. However, does even a severe step-change in abnormality give us occasion to question whether one is less culpable for his transgression, or give us any more occasion to pause and reconsider the simple remedy for sin, which is a persistence in heart felt confession, true repentance and genuine faith in God? Is the fact that our fallen nature is not chosen any reason at all to cause us to approach the more deviant behaviors with a different antidote, or more sympathetically than God does? (Even a non-nouthetic counselor should agree.)

Let me now substitute “axe murderers” for “gay men” and “homosexual” in Mrs. Irons’s quote:
“But it's not enough to present abstract doctrines and theological definitions. I also read from the testimonies of two axe murderers who were professing Christians who talked about what it was like to grow up with the dawning awareness that they were axe murderers. To me this was the centerpiece of the class, because if you haven't heard people describe it for themselves, you can never fully appreciate what people mean when they say, ‘I didn't choose this.’ I don't know how people in the class felt about those testimonies, but everyone listened in a respectful silence.”
Now I can almost hear the sound of well meaning Christians saying “Come on Ron. Certainly you see the difference between being an axe murderer and a homosexual.” Well, not really – at least not in any consequential sense when God’s word as opposed to autonomous reason becomes our standard. God does not draw a relevant distinction between the two transgressions, other than that the latter one is often a sign of reprobation! (Romans1:27, 28) Special revelation would have us believe that God’s abhorrence often precedes the abominable practice of homosexuality and not the reverse. God’s wrath already abides upon the homosexual and his sin is just a foretaste of what is to come if he doesn’t repent. The transgressions are indeed equal in that those who would engage in the abominable practices of murder and homosexuality are to be punished by death (Exodus. 21:12; Leviticus 20:13) and await God’s eternal damnation. (1 Corinthians 6:9; Galatians 5:19-21; Ephesians 5:5; Revelation 21:8) The fact of the matter remains, the acts of murder and homosexuality proceed from the very same “unchosen condition” that has not been buffeted and brought under subjection.

At the end of the day, Mrs. Irons is for some reason impressed by the lame testimonies of a certain category of transgressor that reduce to no more than Geraldine's quip “the devil made me do it.” That the human condition, whether fallen or remade, and its associated inclinations are not chosen is as irrelevant for the homosexual as it is for the common punk-thief, Flip Wilson's Geraldine (pictured above), and the sinner whose heart has been subdued by grace. Men are responsible for their inclinations and choices because God says so. Some men get justice and others get grace. Nobody gets injustice from the hand of God.

What is most terrifying is that Mrs. Irons is teaching in a PCA church, if I am to believe her Blog entry. What is more alarming is her observation that “No one [in her class] was hostile, everyone was trying to think and understand. Maybe the reason it all went so well was because our church is very young. The vast majority of members are in their 20's and 30's.” Would these 20 and 30 year old Christians sympathize with the testimony of a self-deceived axe murderer, rapist, thief, or whoremonger who would dare justify himself with: “I didn’t choose this..."?

What an insidious approach of Satan’s it is to use a former minister’s wife who claims to be Reformed to legitimize in any respect a practice that in then end will bring eternal torment to those who would indulge themselves, even according to an “unchosen condition.” To the secularist, Mrs. Irons appears more loving than your run of the mill Reformed Christian. Yet one need not be a profound exegete or an acute logician to navigate through the muddled musings of Mrs. Irons. One simply needs to be committed to Scripture over feelings, that’s all. But again, and with all sincerity, what should we expect from those whose primary form of revelation on such matters is “natural” and not “special”?

Ron

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10 comments:

Josh said...

Right on, Ron!

Benjamin P. Glaser said...

Excellent. Egalitarianism working its way into the PCA.

razzendahcuben said...

Hi Ron,

If I may offer some criticism:

You need to define 'homosexual.' Is a homosexual one who engages in homosexual acts or simply one who is physically stimulated by members of the opposite sex? If it is only the latter then your analogy completely breaks down. I think scripture is clear that we are what we do---murderers are people who actually murder (or desire to murder), liars are people who actually lie (or desire to lie), etc.

Now let's just assume that define in the former sense. And let's also assume that this is how Mrs. Iron's defines homosexuals, as well as the men she was talking about.

Are you now insinuating that Mrs. Iron's was trying to excuse the behavior of these homosexuals?

You should probably quote her saying this, otherwise it just appears that you're putting words in her mouth.

It is quite possible that Mrs. Iron's quote could be taken to mean that Christians should dismiss the false notion that homosexuals woke up one day and decided to lust after those of the same sex. This is important to know when counseling those with same sex attractions.

I think that too many assumptions have to be made to really make sense of your post. I'd appreciate knowing for sure, from her mouth, what she actually believes before you make judgments.

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

“You need to define 'homosexual.' Is a homosexual one who engages in homosexual acts or simply one who is physically stimulated by members of the opposite sex? If it is only the latter then your analogy completely breaks down.”

Keith,

By “analogy” I assume you mean the axe murderer analogy. If we allow for “homosexual” to mean one who is “simply… physically stimulated…” (Whatever that means to you), it doesn’t get you out of the hole that you’ve jumped into with Mrs. Irons. After all, even to be “simply stimulated” by the idea of axe murdering is sin.

”I think scripture is clear that we are what we do---murderers are people who actually murder (or desire to murder), liars are people who actually lie (or desire to lie), etc.”

Keith, you might do well to go back and read Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount.” God is not a legalist and concupiscence is indeed sin.

“Are you now insinuating that Mrs. Iron's was trying to excuse the behavior of these homosexuals?”

Mrs. Irons’s deception is much more insidious than that. She would have us believe that the sin of homosexuality falls under some sort of special category since it is not a chosen orientation. Accordingly, she casts doubt on what should be the obvious solution to the sin condition.

“It is quite possible that Mrs. Iron's quote could be taken to mean that Christians should dismiss the false notion that homosexuals woke up one day and decided to lust after those of the same sex.”

Keith, when one is drawn away by their own sinful passions, a decision is always being made. Moreover, intentions bring forth actions which result in stronger intentions and subsequent actions. By arguing “I am born that way” is an excuse that obstructs any remedy; it also is a denial of the pattern that led to the condition that every homosexual finds himself. The “homosexual” (whatever that means to you) feeds his sinful tendencies which results in more entrapment and bondage. It’s no different than any other sinful “orientation”.

It sounds as if you might be coming under the spell of confusion that Mrs. Irons casts so unashamedly.

Ron

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Misty Irons states on her most recent blog entry:

“…there are other people who choose to focus more on the fact that their sexual feelings and attraction are an expression of love, which they say is no less real than heterosexual love. The fact that their sexual orientation happens to be directed toward the same sex is a less critical issue to them…. Conservative Christians dismiss this group as depraved and hard-hearted because they celebrate with "gay pride" the very thing Christians view as sin. But it's hardly fair to assume people are "celebrating sin" when they believe they are just celebrating love. Conservative Christians may have a serious moral disagreement with them, but going as far as calling them "depraved" only shuts down the conversation altogether.”

Is it true or false that any homosexual actually “believes” that “he is just celebrating love”? The homosexual believes with maximal warrant that he is under the wrath of God; yet Mrs. Irons would have us believe that there are some homosexuals that are not parading their sin but actually celebrating love. This celebration must be sincere in Mrs. Irons’s opinion because it would be "unfair" to assume that there was any celebration of sin going on! It would be utter folly to interpret Mrs. Irons as meaning that certain homosexuals are self-deceived into thinking that they are celebrating love. No, Mrs. Irons must believe they are sincere. After all, if they were self-deceived into thinking they were celebrating love, then it would not be unfair to say that they were celebrating sin! Moreover, their self-deception would be a cloke for “celebrating sin” – the very thing Mrs. Irons denies they are doing!

One of Mrs. Irons's problems is that she would place the testimony of guilty men above God's. What homosexuals "believe" about what they are celebrating is not open for discussion. God has already rendered an opinion on the matter.

Ron

Brian said...

Ron,

Keith’s position is unclear to me but I think what he might have in view is a homosexual who is not lusting or acting but only has an orientation toward the same sex. This orientation is one someone is born with and doesn’t desire or choose - Keith might say - but even that is unclear to me. As you will undoubtedly point out, even such a latent orientation is of course sin. Your axe analogy is still valid because as you say concupiscence is sin.

I find the whole Misty Irons hypothesis ridiculous for reasons you’ve already sited. In addition, are we really to believe that God has denied any man and woman from birth a natural orientation and in exchange given an unnatural one? Why not also believe that men are sometimes born with an orientation toward animals, plants and rocks - or axe murdering! Your extreme example drives home the point.

Should one's children get a different consideration because they are just born with a disobedient orientation that sometimes manifests itself from time to time? In the latest entry by Misty that you posted she says that it is counterprodcutive to call an H-S "depraved." Why is this so? Would we not tell a rebellious child he or she is rebellious? Is that "going to far" and will such a remark "shut down the conversation?"

Brian

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Brian,

I believe you are right about Keith. With respect to your second paragraph - Amen. If your child were to ask you for bread, would you give him a stone? Or if he asked you for a fish, would you give him a snake? Are we really to think that God gives unnatural affections to those who ask him for natual ones with a sincere heart?

I concur with your third paragraph as well.

I should clarify one thing I wrote to Keith. With respect to the Sermon on the Mount reference I made to him, I appreciate that he was positing that the orientation is not the lusting of the heart (let alone the acting upon those lusts). My reference has to do with Mt. 7 in that it’s the bad tree that bears the bad fruit. The same-sex orientation is bad no matter whether one considers it the tree or the fruit. Keith, it would seem, posited that the orientation could be the tree (from which lustful thoughts can come), whereas I would argue that the orientation toward the same-sex (whether lust or actual physical actions proceed from it or not) is in-and-of-itself fruit that comes from a fallen nature. Just the same, Mrs. Irons's sympathies cannot be justified even if the orientation is the tree and not the fruit.

Ron

Gorio said...

Jesus said nothing about gay marrige of homosexuals - NOTHING!
If your going to drink the levitveicus punch, take it all, and sell your daughters into slavery.

Gorio said...

You know what Jesus said about gay marraige and homosexuals?? NOTHING! Thats right!
If your going to drink the Leviticus koolaid ( like Jime Jones Cult) Drink it all! No Ployester, Sell your daughters to Slaveery Etc!

Ronald W. Di Giacomo said...

Gorio,

If you believe Jesus' words are authoritative on matters of faith and morals, then you must think Jesus is God - yet God's word is Scripture, which speaks to such issues. If you deny Scripture's teaching, then you have no basis to invoke Jesus' teachings because any view of Jesus must come from Scripture. In short, the Old Testament gives you no pass, especially when you invoke the authority of Jesus that comes only from Scripture.