Proverbs 24:11 and “The Patient Within” #defundpp
It appears that Americans will have spent more money for Easter this year than they did for Valentine’s Day (ht: Al Mohler). When it comes to the commercialization of holidays, Easter may not be quite as marketed for money-making as Christmas, but it is multiplying like bunnies.
What most people are buying most is candy. I remember getting candy on Easter when I was a kid, and we often give candy to our kids, too.
Is this a bad thing? Is it a sign of our compromise, or worse, of our loss of respect for Christ’s bloody sacrifice for sin and miraculous, world- resurrection?
It certainly could be. Buying candy and giving it as a gift (and eating it) isn’t necessarily Christian, nor does chocolate and peanut butter obviously make one think of the cross or the empty tomb. Candy consumption could be thoughtless. It could be sacrilegious.
But what other worldview would ever make sharing sweets a cultural thing to do? Bacchus was the god of partying, and there was much feasting and drinking done in his name, but it always led to men and women losing inhibitions, and usually someone ended up dead. Serving Bacchus resulted in ecstatic rage and the shedding of blood. Materialism doesn’t offer a good basis either. Mammon is a god to many, but how did the candy company executives and advertisers and store owners convince so many consumers to buy tasty yet otherwise useless candy?
We eat sweets (and other feasting foods) to remember winter’s end, not to try to forget winter’s inevitable return. We buy and give and share candy because Christ’s resurrection has established a world of buying and giving and sharing. We don’t party before offering sacrifice, we rejoice because the sacrifice was already offered and accepted. For it even to be possible to commercialize Easter, Easter had to be effective, otherwise we would all be fearful of immanent judgment and eternal death. We should not be thoughtless, but because Jesus is risen from the dead, think about how much we have to be thankful for.
Every culture can be identified by its worship and all worship can be identified by its sacrifices. Some of the most grotesque, almost unimaginable sacrifices were offered by Israel’s pagan neighbors in the Old Testament. In order to please Molech, the Ammonites slaughtered their own children. We are horrified that any society could condone this sort of religion. What kind of god accepts child sacrifices as worship?
Our society doesn’t call it religion or worship, we call it choice. We call it reproductive freedom. We call it surgical procedures. And most Christians appear only mildly disturbed that our culture murders unborn children at the rate of over 3000 per day for the last 39 years.
These sacrificial killings are performed at the altar of the god of self, the god of pleasure, the god of convenience. Our culture’s god isn’t Molech, the god is almighty Me, and the people love her, or him.
What should we Christians do about abortion? We should start with worship, the foundation of our anti-idolatry campaign. People will not stop serving sin apart from repentance and belief in gospel of Jesus Christ. We who proclaim the gospel must believe it and worship Him as Lord.
The first thing we should do in our worship is confess our sins. We also are tempted to serve the gods of self, pleasure, and convenience. We ought to confess our own abominations, including our apathy for the Triune God and life in Him. Judgment is already on our country and the household of God should get right first.
For more on our culture of death, read Abortion Is as American as Apple Pie by Al Mohler.
One of the compelling issues in the adolescence, ADD, and ADHD phenomena is the possibility of genetic or hormonal causation. We are told that if it can be scientifically determined that certain actions or attitudes are inherent in a person’s physical make-up, then we are obligated to consider their behavior normal and should remove moral responsibility from the discussion. After all, if they can’t help it, we shouldn’t expect it.
One of my points in the original post is that most of the deviant behavior diagnosed by doctors in adolescents has nothing to do with biology or endocrinology. Instead it is entirely related to hamartiology–the study of sin. And though I tried to state my case carefully, acknowledging the possibility of certain physical conditions that affect one’s conduct, a few additional or clarifying thoughts came to mind.
First, the Bible indefatigably reveals that sin is the dominant human problem, that sin originates from within our own hearts, that sin has a commanding influence on our behavior, and that we are morally responsible to God for our sin. Scripture holds us accountable, not others, our circumstances, our upbringing, our DNA, or anything other than the passions of our flesh. Since teenagers are human (some may still be waiting for medical confirmation on that one), their supreme trouble is sin.
But second, even if someday doctors do discover a biological basis for inattentiveness, laziness, rebellion, etc., that will not change our accountability before God.
I think there is a striking similarity between this subject and the argument for normalizing homosexuality. My wife has made this point in personal conversations for many years, and earlier this month Albert Mohler published a foundational article at his blog on the connection between moral responsibility and biological causation. As scientists look for “genetic or hormonal cause for sexual orientation,” see if some of Mohler’s take-away points don’t apply equally to the “genetic or hormonal cause for teenage disobedience” discussion. He encourages “Christians who are committed to think in genuinely Christian terms” to “think carefully about these points:”
1. There is, as of now, no incontrovertible or widely accepted proof that any biological basis for sexual orientation exists.
3. Given the consequences of the Fall and the effects of human sin, we should not be surprised that such a causation or link is found. After all, the genetic structure, along with every other aspect of creation, shows the pernicious effects of the Fall and of God’s judgment.
4. The biblical condemnation of all homosexual behaviors would not be compromised or mitigated in the least by such a discovery. The discovery of a biological factor would not change the Bible’s moral verdict on homosexual behavior.
9. We must stop confusing the issue of moral responsibility and moral choice. We are all responsible for our sexual orientation, but that does not mean that we freely and consciously choose that orientation. … We do not always (or even generally) choose our temptations. Nevertheless, we are absolutely responsible for what we do with sinful temptations, whatever our so-called sexual orientation.
10. Christians must be very careful not to claim that science can never prove a biological basis for sexual orientation. We can and must insist that no scientific finding can change the basic sinfulness of all homosexual behavior.
So Christians who identify sin as the problem and the sinner as responsible do not need to fear the future discoveries of science and medicine. Even if biological factors are found in sexual orientation, teenage rebellion, or any other kind of temptation for that matter, personal culpability for sin is not removed. The Bible exhorts us to rebuke sin as sin–even in teenagers–and urge them to repentance and to consider themselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
UPDATE [7:53AM March 15]: The original post by Mohler is still making waves, upsetting both conservatives and liberals as seen at The Christian Post (HT: Challies). Again, Mohler is not saying that there is a biological cause for homosexuality, he says if a connection is eventually pinpointed, it still won’t change the person’s moral responsibility to God for breaking His law.