Now that Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and Washington D.C. have legalized the recreational use of marijuana, more Christians are asking whether smoking marijuana is truly immoral. After all, it’s legal. Joe Carter has a thoughtful article on this issue that I found extremely helpful. He argues that smoking marijuana is immoral. Here is Carter’s argument in a nutshell (with some ad-lib on my part at certain points): (more…)
February 24, 2015
December 5, 2013
Christians often disagree regarding matters of personal holiness. Those defending themselves against the charge of sin for some X will often respond by saying, “It’s not that bad.” Of course, to say something is “not that bad” is tantamount to saying it’s “not that good” either. In such cases, we should be honest with ourselves and others and just admit that X is not spiritually advantageous for us, even if it is morally tolerable. Would we be better off if we abstained? Perhaps. Are we sinning if we don’t? No.
July 29, 2013
We should not confuse permissiveness for grace. Grace says, “I love you and forgive you, so you need to stop this sin,” not “I love you and forgive you, so it doesn’t matter what you do.” We are living in a culture that thinks love and forgiveness mean we should permit people to continue in their sin while we continue in our silence. This is not grace, and this is not love. Grace and love will always confront sin, because grace and love are the remedy for sin, not the license to continue in it.
February 21, 2013
Almost everyone, Christian and non-Christian alike, knows of Jesus’ teaching, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.” (Mt 7:1). I have addresses the proper interpretation of this passage elsewhere in my treatment of judgmentalism, but I recently read some brief comments by J. P. Moreland on the matter that I found helpful as well. Moreland writes:
[W]e need to distinguish two senses of judging: condemning and evaluating. The former is wrong and is in view in Matthew 7. When Jesus says not to judge, he means it in the sense that the Pharisees judged others: their purpose was to condemn the person judged and to elevate themselves above that person. Now this is a form of self-righteous blindness that vv. 2-4 explicitly forbid. Such judgment is an expression of a habitual approach to life of avoiding self-examination and repentance and, instead, propping oneself up by putting others down.
The distinction between moral condemnation and moral evaluation is an important one. We cannot and must not avoid moral evaluations. Such are necessary and good. What we must avoid are moral condemnations of people that elevate our own sense of moral superiority and blind us to our own moral inadequacies.
J. P. Moreland, “On Judging Others: Is There a Right Way?”; available fromhttp://www.jpmoreland.com/2012/12/19/on-judging-others-is-there-a-right-way/; Internet; accessed 31 January 2013.
October 17, 2012
One of the distinguishing marks of the new atheists is that they not only think religion is false, but that it is dangerous and immoral too. Even God himself is not above their judgment. They regularly chide the God of the Bible as being a moral monster! They accuse Him of being pro-genocide, anti-women, pro-rape, pro-slavery, etc. Rather than the paradigm of moral goodness, God is an evil despot that is to be shunned. You know it’s a bad day when even God is evil!
Is what they say true? Is God – particularly as He is portrayed in the OT – morally evil? Many Christians are sympathetic to this charge because they themselves struggle to understand God’s actions and commands, particularly as revealed in the OT. Thankfully there have been some well-written responses to the problem of “theistic evil” written in recent years to dispel this negative portrait of God.
August 14, 2012
Every one of our sinful actions has a suicidal power on the faculties that put that action forth. When you sin with the mind, that sin shrivels the rationality. When you sin with the heart or the emotions, that sin shrivels the emotions. When you sin with the will, that sin destroys and dissolves your willpower and your self-control. Sin is the suicidal action of the self against itself. Sin destroys freedom because sin is an enslaving power.
In other words, sin has a powerful effect in which your own freedom, your freedom to want the good, to will the good, and to think or understand the good, is all being undermined. By sin, you are more and more losing your freedom. Sin undermines your mind, it undermines your emotions, and it undermines your will.
 Available from http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/fighting-sin-with-worship. Excerpt from a sermon available from http://sermons2.redeemer.com/sermons/sin-slavery.
July 20, 2012
It is often said that Adam and Eve did not know the difference between good and evil prior to eating the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (TKGE). This does seem to be the straightforward meaning of Genesis 3:22a: “Then the LORD God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil.’” (ESV) There are a couple of problems I see with this interpretation, however:
- The text does not say Adam and Eve only gained knowledge of evil after the Fall, but knowledge of “good and evil.” If we understand “knowledge” in a cognitive sense, this would mean God originally created human beings as amoral beings, having no knowledge of moral concepts or moral categories. If we were created as amoral beings, then our moral intuitions and our capacity for moral reasoning are not part of the imago Dei (image of God) in which we were created, but rather a consequence of the Fall. That’s a tough pill to swallow for two reasons: (1) Moral reasoning is one of the unique characteristics of God that among God creatures, humans alone exhibit. Since humans alone were created in the imago Dei, it stands to reason that moral reasoning was part of that original imago Dei; (2) How is it possible for an act of disobedience to produce in us the knowledge of good? Evil, yes, but good?