What is Your Moral Gauge?

Here is a provocative article by Ben Stevens for the Huffington Post: Two Lesbians Raised a Baby: A Response.

The premise behind Stevens’ piece is derived from the logic of  a video of an Iowa college student named Zach Wahls that has gone viral.  Wahls makes a compelling argument that he, though having been raised by two lesbians, has turned out well.  As Stevens writes:

Wahls is arguing that a practice is not necessarily bad if something good can result from it, and that his similarities to other people (others who were raised by heterosexuals) constitute a strong argument for the normative and morally upright nature of homosexuality, and indeed of homosexual parenting.

There seems to be little or no debate that Wahls has indeed turned out well.  And if you have seen the video you will have no doubt about his intelligence or his oratory abilities either. But, as Stevens explains:

We do not evaluate things simply based on whether good or bad may be fostered in their wake. In every sector of life and policy, regardless of the debate, we evaluate them on their own merits and moral qualities.

This is a thoughtful and thought provoking article, with a moral one friend expresses this way:

Evaluate your beliefs, not on whether or not good can result from them but, whether or not they are good in and of themselves.

Disinfecting Ourselves of Spiritual Malware

In his masterful work, Institutes of the Christian Religion, John Calvin observed:

“Man’s nature, so to speak, is a perpetual factory of idols.”

That may seem to be a peculiar notion. Some will, no doubt, simply chalk it up to “O, that Calvin guy had a lot of strange ideas”.  Some, being a bit more charitable, may concede that this might be true of man in his fallen nature, but certainly no longer the case once we have been made new creations through faith in Jesus Christ.  Some may go even a little further, admitting that sometimes Christians do struggle with issues akin to idolatry, such as lust and pornography, love of money or materialism,  or co-dependency and fear of man.

But Tim Keller, in his book Counterfeit Gods, goes even further and deeper:

We think that idols are bad things, but that is almost never the case.  The greater the good, the more likely we are to expect that it can satisfy our deepest needs and hopes. Anything can serve as a counterfeit God, especially the very best things in life.

What is an idol? It is anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give.

A counterfeit God is anything so central and essential to your life that, should you lose it, your life would feel hardly worth living. An idol has such a controlling position in your heart that you can spend most of your passion and energy, your emotional and financial resources, on it without a second thought…

If anything becomes more fundamental than God to your happiness, meaning in life, and identity, then it is an idol.

While Keller clearly states that idols are often the good things in our lives, I have found that many people, godly people, may accept this as truth yet still fail to recognize the idols that drive and shape them. They get caught up by phrases such as “more important that God”.  To their minds, nothing is more important to them than God. And while in many cases I have no question that this is true of them when it comes to their professional faith (the faith they profess, and actually intellectually believe), they are unaware of the idols that influence them and their functional faith (the faith that effects the moment by moment emotions).

It is somewhat like a malware virus I have had on my computer on a few occasions.  Once the virus infects the computer it automatically blocks any attempts to identify the problem.  In fact, every attempt to clean it out only serves to further strengthen and entrench the virus.  Likewise, in some people I have encountered such a powerful block that any attempts to identify the spiritual malware – the idols –  is met with a greater resolve that they are not infected.  This  especially seems to be the case when the malware is something good, something very good, something even godly, such as a powerful desire for church growth, evangelism, doctrinal purity, etc.  Malware in such guise seems to almost always shut down any suggestion that these are problems.

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The Virgin Shall Conceive and Bear a Son

Here’s a poignant insight from Martyn Lloyd-Jones regarding Christmas:

What is taught in Scripture is not that Mary had been either born or made sinless, but that portion of Mary, that cell out of Mary that was to be developed into the body of the Son of God was cleansed from sin; and that only.

So Mary remained sinful, but this portion that she transmits to her Son has been delivered, set free from sin; and it is to that that the Son of God is joined. That is the human nature He takes unto Himself. It is a miracle, of course; and we are told specifically that it is a miracle. It was because she did not realize that a miracle was to happen that Mary stumbled at the announcement of the Archangel Gabriel, and his reply to her is: “Do not try to understand this. The power of the Highest shall overshadow you, the Holy Ghost will come upon you, you are going to conceive of the Holy Ghost” – who has power to work this cleansing so that the body of the human nature of the Son of God who is to be born of you shall be entirely free from sin.

So we reject the so-called doctrine of the “Immaculate Conception”; but we assert with all our power the doctrine that the human nature of the Son of God was entirely free from sin.