My friend James-Michael Smith has written a well-argued rebuttal to a post by a retired Methodist pastor that went viral through UMC social media. In that post, Rev. McCormick argues that we need to be careful when using the Bible as a source for morality. Below you’ll find the links to the article, and JM-Smith’s excellent response, and I encourage readers here to check it out.
One of the things you’ll find in this article, and what I find most instructive for myself (and, I presume, for most of my readers here), is an argument used by Rev. McCormick that what is moral or immoral is determined by the extent to which something is helpful or harmful to myself or others.
Isn’t this the lie every one of us who have been addicted to something have believed?
Whatever your drug of choice is, I am sure you, like me, have used the line, “I’m not hurting anyone!” So deluded we become that we are convinced that we are not even hurting ourselves. In fact, just the opposite: We need our drug of choice. We can’t live without it. Those who are trying to take it from us are the ones harming us. We are convinced that without this, we will be left with nothing to fill the void.
This is the sinister, conniving, baffling and powerful pull of sin. We are led astray not by something that is ugly and obviously harmful, but by our own desires (James 1:14). What seems right and good to us – that which we desire – is the bait Satan uses to cloud our judgment and eventually enslave us to something contrary to God’s will for our lives.
Who are we to judge what is helpful or harmful? Jeremiah would remind us again today that our hearts are ever deceiving us (Jer. 17:9).
Francis Chan, when asked about his thoughts on homosexuality when ministering in San Francisco, points us to something else that I find helpful no matter your struggle, and I’ll paraphrase it here (watch the YouTube link though): The Christian walk is not about being moral (however you want to define it) but about surrender to and obedience to our Creator. If this God asked us to stand on our head, would we do it? If this God asked us to not marry, would we do it? If this God asked us not to eat a fruit that looked delicious, would we do it?
My desires – my heart – is fickle. We are surrounded by a culture, a world drenched in sin, which does a fantastic job of making anything seem OK so long as we aren’t hurting anyone. The world will tell me, and my fickle heart is easily persuaded, that my desires are good and deserve affirmation. This is the morality of the world. But that is not the standard of our holy God.
The way out of habitual sin – addictive behavior – begins with acknowledging that I am the creature, not the Creator, and my way of doing life may seem right to me, but is one that leads to death (Prov. 14:12).
Check out JM’s blog HERE
Or his Facebook Note HERE.