To choose between a good and bad thing is easy. Our moral dilemma’s come when we either perceive that we must choose the lesser evil of two bad things, or the better between two good things. According to the holy and sacred scripture (and all of its moral context), we are to do all we do for the Glory of God. Since we cannot always judge best, we might safely assume that whatever helps us to better obey the commandments of God will just as much help us in glorifying God. Therefore, if we have a choice between two goods which are equally permissible, we must not choose by whim or presumptuous interpretations of providence, but we must sincerely seek to discern which of the two possible options is most likely to lead us into more obedience.
Specifically helpful is considering obedience to the first commandment, which encompasses all the others (that is, to love the LORD with all of our heart). Often, our dilemma between two goods can be relieved if only we thought this question through in every part of our life.
For example, not all secular music promotes sin (though most of it does—if not explicitly, subtlety). Thus, listening to secular music which does not promote sin is “permissible.” But this would be a poor reason to make it part of your musical diet. Many things are permissible which are not necessarily helpful with respect to our purpose of cultivating more love for God. What kind of music most effectively stirs my heart for the things of God? What friends of mine most consistently lead my thoughts toward God and help me to better love Him? What habits in my life are truly helping me to achieve a greater level of love for God?
When we become convinced that one option is more likely to lead us into a deeper love for Christ than another option, would we not be obligated to choose it? If so, this is the end of our moral dilemma. When choosing between two goods, however, we are not omniscient. We cannot foresee every factor which will help or hurt our cause. However, we must be honest and earnest in our seeking to discern what options are most likely (to the best of our limited knowledge) to help us love God more—for this will be the end of our uncertainty and the beginning of a life of confidence in our courses of action. We must avoid at all costs being superstitious, lazy, impressionistic, and carnal in our choices. We must avoid at all costs a minimalistic Christianity which merely asks “Is this permissible?” We must rather seek those things which most effectively stir our affections for God, help us to grow in our walk with Christ, and most glorify God.
Glorifying God is the ultimate pleasure. We were created for this very purpose, to glorify the worth and holiness of God. When we do not live consistently for this purpose, our joy falters. Asking whether or not something is “permissible” is so often the wrong question (though unavoidable at times). It’s a quick way to quench the Spirit and all of our passion for the things of God. Minimilistic Christianity in effect asks this question, “How can I have the least amount of pleasure in Christ?” What a miserable way to look at the Christian life. Instead, we should ask, “How can I maximize my pleasure in God?” This question is synonymous with “How can I maximize my love for God and obedience to His commandments?” or “How can I most Glorify God?” To ask these questions from a sincere heart is the first step to a more radical pleasure producing paradigm for the Christian life.
You Christian Hedonist, you… 🙂
Hey, you are on sbtsblogs now! YAY!
PS: Posted some pictures from Sunergos.. I have a lot more from that night. Jen is going to put some on CD and give them to Kevin, so if you want to see them let her know.
rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrd. But I totally disagree with you. The world IS CURSED.
I think you did a great job with the post, Bizzle-ra-dizzle
Sorry, that comment posted twice so I had to delete one.
ivazaooi!!! (word verification)
i really liked this post and was really encouraged by it, i will even say it offered me some affirmation on some choices i have made recently (and offered me some conviction!)…so thanks!
Now you’ve gone and convicted me about my music choices…darn..I was trying to cover them under ‘permissible’…but definitely not beneficial…acck..I need to write Trish (my mix master) to confer.
Great post, Bradley!
Candle Dimming vs. Soul Satisfying Christianity
Over the last few years of adulthood my battle has not been from permissible Christianity but rather indecisiveness between the pleasure maximizing choices of Christianity. I have finally succumbed to the fact that I was not born with a set of explicit instructions from God pertaining to my daily encounter of life altering choices. Sure I have His wonderful and holy word but that does not tell me who I should marry or what career I should take.
For me as a Christian permissible Christianity or Candle Dimming Christianity is rarely the problem. I have found that if one falls into indecisiveness pertaining to two good decisions it can lead to a wayward ride of the waves concerning whether or not the decision that was made was the right one or not. This is Satan’s tactic to paralyze and confuse and can be just detrimental and light dimming as permissible Christianity. I know, I have been through it!
Good news though, I am becoming more aware of how to fight back. If I have 2 life choices and both are good, rather than getting stuck in Satan’s trap of indecisiveness and moving nowhere, I weigh the options (both sort and long term). I ask myself, which will ultimately be the most soul satisfying, which one will give me the most opportunities to glorify God, lead the lost, and grow me in my walk and then I stick to that choice. It eliminates confusion and leads to much satisfaction. Thanks Bradley, you encourage and inspire me …Tracy
Yeah. Your comments are also encouraging to me. While I am not naive enough to think that all the church needs is to spend more time reading the bible or reading Christian books (the problem is bigger than that), I nevertheless perceive that the more I learn about the scriptures, the more confidence I have about the will of God and my making the right choices. Of course, I constantly pray that the Lord would guide me in all I do and give me wisdom I as of yet do not have–but end the end, I don’t get an audible voice, so I end up making my decisions based my convictions about the implications of what scripture teaches. It took a long time to form these convictions (even while spending every year since I’ve been saved as a full time Bible student).
With time, seeking the face of God through His word, availing myself the wisdom of godly men in the church, listening to sound teaching and preaching week in and week out, I now have great confidence in most of my decisions.
What I’m saying is this: Though it takes a long time, understanding produces the fruit of peace and righteousness–and this is wisdom.
We learn through a myriad of ways: an overlapping mixture between experience, trials, teaching, personal study, questioning and getting answers, others questioning our faith and convinctions, etc. It sounds like you are in the process of forming long-term convictions, refining your strategies, crystalizing your understanding, etc. This is encouraging.
I think you missed the underlying principles of my brilliantly worded pontifications. If you could break through this one last barrier then I would grant you the rank you desire, and you would become a dragon warrior. Have courage in your continued quest.
Bradley – here are my responses to your questions on my car blog:
1)The cars to are crafted to meant buy the person, so helping myself in them getting it.
2)To sleeping must you get him and my rest too racing myself out.
3)”Piper is nothing but a bunch of hedonistic psycho babble.” -John Q. Public
And that goes for you too, Jonathan!
I’m with Tracy on this one. One of the hardest decisions I had to make was whether to stay at Cedarville University or transfer to Liberty, which was not a question of what is permissible, but instead a question of which decision would lead me in the direction that was best for developing my life as a Christian, a musician, and a better person in general. I was so frustrated that none of the counsel I sought or the prayers I prayed led me to a concrete answer of which was better. I felt like either choice was an honorable one, but a good friend gave me advice that made the after effects of my decision easier. He told me that no matter which one I choose, I shouldn’t allow myself to dwell on what would have happened had I made the other choice. I am thankful for that advice, and I am happy with my decision. I think that if I had stayed at Cedarville, God would have blessed that choice too, but he certainly blessed my time at Liberty. This post was actually written a few months after I made that decision. In hindsight, I probably thought too much about what was best for me and not enough about what was best for God’s kingdom. Which choice would glorify Him more? I learned a lot about discerning God’s will that year, and I just learned a little more. Thanks!
Wow … the highest clarity often comes only in retrospect.