Sin


Part of our theodicy for the problem of evil includes the point that it was logically impossible for God to create a world in which humans enjoyed free will (a good thing), and yet were unable to use that freedom to choose evil as well as the good. I accept that as true, and yet Christianity proclaims there is coming a day in which there will be a world consisting of humans with libertarian free-will, who will never choose evil: heaven. The future hope of Christians seems to undermine one of the central premises in our theodicy. Can this be reconciled?

One might point out that the future world void of evil is only possible because God will glorify our humanity. But this is not a solution; it is an admission of the problem. Glorification is being put forward, not to show that such a world cannot exist, but rather to explain how it will become a reality. If in the future God is able—through glorification—to make human beings such that they have free will, and yet will not choose evil, then it falsifies the claim that God cannot create a world in which humans enjoy libertarian free will, and yet never choose evil. Indeed, He will do so in the future. In light of such, we might ask why God did not do this from the onset. Why didn’t He create humans in a glorified state to begin with, if glorified humans can exercise free will and yet not choose evil?

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smoking-nuns11Most American Christians have identified smoking or chewing tobacco as sinful, but what is the Biblical basis for this conclusion?  There is no verse that says “Thou shalt not smoke.”  So why should we think it’s morally wrong?

The two reasons I typically hear are related to (1) health and (2) addiction.  Regarding health, the verse appealed to is often 1 Corinthians 3:17 in which Paul says God will destroy those who defile the temple of God.  The temple is understood to be the human body, so anything that destroys the human body is sinful.  I’m not convinced this is the right interpretation of the verse, but let’s run with it for the sake of argument.  There’s no question that smoking cigarettes is not good for the body.  It’s unhealthy and thus unwise, but is this enough to warrant considering it sinful?  How many other things do we consume that are unhealthy for us?  Are we prepared to call too much consumption of chocolate, ice cream, soda, red meat, and the like sinful as well?  These are also unhealthy when consumed too much.  One may object that while these things are unhealthy, they do not typically kill the person who consumes them.  That may be true of each item individually, but not necessarily as a whole.  A person who consumes too much sugar, fat, etc. often develops diseases such as diabetes or cancer, and some die as a result.  If we’re not prepared to consider it a sin to eat too much ice cream  or drink too much soda, then why are we so quick to consider smoking a sin?  Perhaps we should consider both to be sin, but I doubt most would see it that way (you can pry my ice cream container away from my cold, dead hands!!).

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I am no prophet, but based on the current trends in our culture, I think the following may be the cultural and moral battles of the near future:

  1. Normalization of sex between adults and underage teens (age ~14-17)
  2. Genetically modified designer babies (for health, longevity, intelligence, etc.)
  3. Sexual reproduction to be replaced by the scientific engineering of babies (babies created and grown in the lab – artificial wombs)
  4. Temporary marriages
  5. Marriage to robots and animals
  6. Normalization of adultery and open marriages
  7. Parental “ownership” of their children will be denied
  8. Some animals will be deemed “persons” with rights
  9. Nature rights will spread
  10. Infanticide

Do you agree or disagree?  Any items you would add to or remove from the list?

Finally, something has been done about the Episcopalian Church’s flagrant acceptance of homosexuality and same-sex marriage in defiance of Church of England’s teaching. The pessimist in me thinks this disciplinary action is not enough, is just delaying the inevitable split of the church, and was probably forced upon the Church of England’s native leaders by its conservative bodies abroad.  I would love to hear the thoughts of anyone living in England or part of the Episcopalian Church.

Cohabit - Not MarriageThe American College of Pediatricians explains why cohabitation is bad for society in just about every way imaginable.  And yet cohabitation continues to rise as the folk wisdom says it will increase one’s chances of marital success.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  The most happiness does not come from receiving the benefits of marriage (sex, playing house) without actual marriage, but from marriage itself.

 

See also: The sociology of cohabitation: “Shacking up” isn’t such a good idea after all

Empty BedThe predominant sexual ethic today is built on three moral principles: 1) Consent; 2) No harm involved; 3) Whatever feels good.  As long as it feels good, no one is getting hurt, and those involved are consenting to it, it is deemed to be morally acceptable.  Timothy Hsiao has written a great article showing why consent and harmlessness are not sufficient to justify a sexual behavior.

Regarding consent, Hsiao argues that consent ought to be based on what is good for us (not just desired by us), and thus the inherent goodness of the act – not just consent – is required. Furthermore, to give consent is to give someone moral permission to do what they would not be justified in doing absent the consent. Giving consent, then, presumes that one has the moral authority to give that permission to another. But if one lacks the moral authority to grant such permissions, consent is not sufficient to make an act ethical. If the act in question is not morally good, then the consenter lacks the proper authority to give consent.

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LifeWay Research conducted a survey of 1000 American adults and 1000 Protestant pastors to get their take on what is considered a justifiable divorce and what is not.  Only 38% of Americans think it is a sin to get a divorce on the grounds that a couple no longer loves one another.  It’s no wonder we have so much divorce.

Ironically, the percentage of American people who see divorce as being wrong is consistent, despite the reason.  For example, 39% think it is sin to divorce one’s spouse for adultery, and 37% think it’s a sin to divorce one’s spouse due to physical abuse.  Protestant pastors, on the other hand, were much more discriminate.  Here is a chart detailing the responses:

divorce-is-a-sin-when-1024x950

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