As Long As Nobody Gets Hurt
As I discuss Jesus Christ with people, I find that some, if not many, do not want to subject themselves to what they feel is a very restrictive lifestyle. They see Jesus, the Bible, and Christianity as a system that exists to create rules, enforce rules, and punish those who break them.
In seeking to justify their own lifestyle choices, they often depend upon their own sense of logic. One phrase that is often used to defend sinful behavior is this: “Why is it a problem if I do this or that? As long as nobody gets hurt, why should anyone care”?
“As long as nobody gets hurt” presumes that those mutually participating in something know the entire future of their own life or another’s life.
A young man pressures a girl into sex before marriage. She reluctantly agrees, and it is fun for a while. They then break up, and go their own way, believing that no harm was done, and that no one got hurt.
I submit to you, the reader, that we cannot know the far reaching affects of sin. A young man learns that he can be sexually satisfied by pressuring a girl for sex. He doesn’t realize that is creating a pattern within his heart, that allows him to be selfish and pressure women to give him what he wants. What kind of man will he turn out to be? How far will he go, as this behavior escalates? He cannot possibly know what his future holds. What seemed like “nobody getting hurt”, often turns out that both parties are hurt for many years.
A girl wants to be loved, so she allows herself to be pressured into giving her body to a teen boy that doesn’t really care for her. Loneliness, the need for acceptance, and peer pressure has caused her to compromise her convictions, so she crosses a moral line within her heart. It seems that “nobody has gotten hurt”.
Years later, she has crossed many more moral lines that she never imagined she would cross. She may become an abused/battered woman. She may go through many pregnancies and abortions. She may lose her ability to bear children. She may become infected with an STD.
My point isn’t that all these things always happen. My point is this: We cannot logically declare that any kind of present behavior is acceptable, ” as long as nobody gets hurt”, because we don’t have the ability to see the far reaching affects of sin. We cannot see the future, so we don’t know that “nobody got hurt”.
How many of us have looked backwards in life, and realized that what we previously considered acceptable behavior, we now see as destructive? Our hindsight proves that we had a lack of foresight.
God warns us against sin because he sees all that it does to a person. We cannot, nor will we ever see sin the way God sees it.
How can we possibly know the future, and jeopardize it for the moment? We can’t possibly be sure that current actions won’t bring future hurt. Better to trust God than your own logic, IMO.
I could not agree with you more. As someone who ascribed to this philosophy prior to being a believer in Christ I can say that I had to realize that my world view was distorted. Even as a believer we need to guard against this thought pattern. It’s easy to say ” I’m not hurting anyone with this one little sin” but the fact is if you regard any sin you are hurting God.
Additionally, if we as Christians go along with sin in our homes and families, with the mentality that it doesn’t really hurt anyone, we might be leading people we love toward a path of destruction.
This is very evident in raising children. If we do not stand for righteousness in our own lives how can we expect our children to want to live righteous lives. If we compromise they will too and more than likely see us as hypocrites. The same goes for our other family members.
Anyway, my rant is done. I think we should have bumper stickers that read…
“Sin Kills, Romans 6:23”
(by the way, this is the first time I have ever replied to a blog. Kind of scary)
LOL… Don’t be scared…
RG….welcome. Now we expect to see you as a regular! 🙂
Seriously though, we love the feedback, and invite more people to share a thought.
That idea for a bumper sticker couldn’t be more true.
I often think my insight is much greater than it really is 🙂
I will do my best to keep up!
Bill, great post.
The unintended consequences abound. Whether we realize it or not there are always consequences to our actions.
The first thing that comes to mind is ‘The Rapture of the Church’. And yet, like Pastor Brian’s recent blog post on CalvaryChapel.com (Receiving One Another); what’s the harm so long as we agree on the core issues?
Years ago I was listening to one of Pastor Chuck’s messages and he said something that struck me and stayed with me. He said that he regretted not teaching those early saints the whole counsel of God.
“It’s better to trust God than your own logic.” but that’s about all CC’s doctrine about the rapture is, logic.
But it seems easier to ‘agree to disagree’ to maintain ‘distinctives’ (you know the whole, “I’m of Paul” “I’m of Apollos..” thing) than actually seek the Lord to resolve… which seems strange when resolution isn’t all that hard.
Greg…..I think we may be talking about apples and oranges.
I don’t think your analogy is a good fit….let me share why…
In my original post, I gave a clear example of sin being wrong: sex outside of marriage.
It is always wrong, and there is no Biblical support for it ever being right.
Regarding the rapture of the Church.
It may or may not be true, but there is enough Biblical evidence to build a case for it being true.
The Rapture isn’t a fairy tale based upon no evidence, but it is a Biblical line of thinking based upon much Biblical evidence. It is a conclusion based upon a fair amount of Biblical evidence. It is more than human logic, it is a theological conclusion based on Scripture
I will grant you this: there is also Biblical evidence that gives an acceptable amount of contradictory thought, hence, the disagreement among Christians of different tribes.
I can have fellowship with a Christian that thinks I am wrong about the Rapture.
I happen to believe in the Rapture of the Church, but it isn’t a matter of towing the party line, and keeping my relationship with Calvary Chapel. I have studied the issue quite thoroughly. In fact, for a time, I was doubtful about the Rapture, because of some of the poor teaching I heard about it.
However, I did my own studies, and came back to that position, based upon my conclusions of what Scripture says, not what Chuck Smith says or anyone else.
I welcome your opposing view, and I am glad that it didn’t keep you from making a comment.
One last thing, if you are interested, I have my sermon notes on the rapture, and they are posted on my personal web site. Take a look at 1 & 2 Thessalonians, and see what you think.
Bill, my apologies, I was listening online to Pastor Chuck’s message yesterday and when he talked about the Rapture of the Church, he did so in the time-frame of it taking place before the Tribulation… and I was talking in that light as well; not the event itself but the time it happens. So, again, my apologies.
And where it might not be as big a sin as sex outside of marriage, I’m pretty sure it still is one (false doctrine).
Here’s my point, “As long as nobody gets hurt…” didn’t those whose faith was overthrown believing the resurrection already occurred get hurt? 2 Tim 2; and look at 1 Cor 3, whatever is burned up, that person will suffer loss. Wouldn’t it be better to have the opportunity to replace the wood, hay, stubble, even if there’s a bit of regret for allowing it to remain for so long, than to suffer loss for leaving it be?
Bill, theological conclusions have lead us to how many denominations/camps/tribes/etc. even subcategories of 3 or 5 point whatsits… so, somethings’ not right.
Again, my apologies for not being clearer with my first post and thank you for taking the time to answer. Very much appreciated (as are your comments on party line and your own studies)… and the sermon notes, thank you very much.
Hey Greg…good to hear back from you.
Yes, we both agree that incorrect doctrine can lead to disastrous results. Your example of the false teaching of the resurrection having already happened is a good example.
For what it’s worth, I do believe that the Rapture precedes the Tribulation. Apparently, you don’t. That’s fine.
But I am sure that you know that there are Christians that don’t even believe in the Tribulation, and that it is a metaphorical idea, as opposed to a description of an actual period of time. So if you believe in the Tribulation (I think I am hearing you say that), some brethren would say we are both wrong.
My point is this, and it is my conviction: When speaking of future events such as the Rapture, The Great Tribulation, etc., I think it is wise to clarify those statements by saying something like, “I may be right or I may be wrong, but I believe ABC….and this is why I believe ABC…..etc. I think to be absolute in such teaching can, at the least, unnecessarily divide the Body of Christ, and at the most, turn out like the Harold Camping debacle.
I would never want to break fellowship with Believers over a disagreement about future events. The Scriptures about future events are there, and we must wrestle with them, and hopefully, come up with an opinion, but future events are not yet proven. There needs to be grace and wiggle room given to others with opposing views.
Regarding replacing wood, hay and stubble….I am all for that, of I think what I have is wood, hay, and stubble.
Last year, I wrestled with the Pre-Trib Rapture idea. A lot of the arguments I had heard over the years seemed weak. I informed my pastoral staff that at that time, I was unconvinced of the Pre-Trib Rapture, and that I was searching it out, and might be making a change of position based upon conclusions I would come to via studying the Word. If that meant leaving the fellowship of Calvary Chapel, I was ready to do that. I studies the topic diligently. I didn’t want to speak someone else’s convictions.
The arguments I had heard over the years were not compelling, but I discovered new arguments and insights that eventually led me to choose the Pre-Trib Rapture over other positions. That is my conclusion after studying. It is not party line thinking, or convenient believism (not that you suggested that).
So, for me, that position is not wood, hay and stubble. It is not an essential of the faith, but it is important. I could be wrong about it ans still be saved and enter glory, but I happen to have an opinion about it, and so I share it as an opinion.
If we teach questionable topics with grace, and don’t insist that people take our view, then we challenge them in a healthy way, and we are not forcing them to agree with us. In fact, I think it healthy to teach opposing views when practical, alongside one’s own views, and allow the listeners to come to their own conclusions, but be compelling about why we believe what we believe.
Finally, I am OK with different camps existing, and different denominations, as long as we don’t break fellowship. GREAT is the mystery of godliness. we will have disagreements, and that is OK.
I really appreciate your candor in this response. I think it is important for every pastor, especially preaching/teaching pastors, to do as you did when it comes to secondary or nonessential doctrines that we hold to and teach, like the timing of the rapture.
I give a resounding “amen” to this comment. I wish that we all took the “I may be right or I may be wrong, but I believe ABC… and this is why I believe ABC…” approach on such issues. Unfortunately I don’t often meet a lot of Christians (pastors included sometimes) who will back up their view with a “this is why I believe this.”
Bill, appreciate the lengthy reply, but am baffled by it. Because on the one hand you agree with me on the cost of faulty teaching, on the other your fine if I believe the same.
You address questionable issues by saying you may be right or wrong citing why you believe you’re right, but after explaining your efforts to get to the heart of the Pre-trib issue, don’t share any of the ‘ABC’s’ you found.
And then you share the process of teaching questionable topics, opposing views so that people can make up their own minds… What came to mind was how Jesus taught as one having authority and not as the Scribes. (You’ve heard it said, but I say to you…) Paul taught with authority, Peter taught with authority, James… you get the picture. It wasn’t opinion to be debated… when the Sadducees asked Jesus about the resurrection, trying to stump Him with the illustration of the woman and 7 brothers, He corrected them and then gave instruction. Which brings to mind 2 Tim 3:16,17 nkjv.
I sit in on a weekly group at Calvary Chapel. Good bunch of guys, and when they talk about the Rapture and all that, I’m not fine… thinking of the consequences and how it will impact their lives, their kids, etc if not prepared. I mean, look at Japan… here’s a nation that’s lived with earthquakes and tsunami’s for centuries and had all the state of the art advanced warning as well as tsunami defenses… they also regularly drilled to be prepared and yet… they were completely unprepared for what struck.
If Paul wasn’t happy with the division into camps (Paul, Apollos, Cephas) should we be?
And as far as nonessential, when Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for tithing herbs but overlooking the weightier matters of the Law, He said that those they should have done, without leaving the others undone. Which brings to mind Col 1:28
Great is the mystery of godliness… yes and what did Jesus tell His disciples? “To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God” (Eph 1:18 also)
Thanks again for the lengthy post.
I’m not entirely sure how the rapture relates to Bill’s post, nevertheless it is a good topic of discussion. But I’m sure you’ve deduced from Bill’s responses that although he, and many on this site hold a pre-trib position, it is not held it as an essential doctrine. It seems also that you’re not as much concerned with the doctrine itself as you are the consequences of presenting it a certain way.
We also hold a position that homosexual behavior is sin. There are some who will hear that teaching and use it as fuel to discriminate and even injure those who practice such things. We are wholly against such a response, but sometimes people hear what they will hear and apply it in ways unintended by the preacher/teacher when we teach it. I think that we do our best defend against such responses, but in a terribly unfortunate way, we are sometimes unsuccessful.
Some people hear the teaching of the pre-tribulational rapture and carry it out to application in unbiblical ways. This is why discipling people in essentials is so very important. This is certainly what we’re committed to.
Miles, “as long as nobody gets hurt” the post illustrated guy and gal getting hurt. When the pre-Trib doesn’t happen, who gets hurt? The ‘Harold Campings’ and those who believed him.
You talk about non-essentials, but am wondering what those are, especially when talking about house building. I mean, I get faith in Christ, but Paul in Heb 6 says, let’s move on from these foundational things on to perfection. Pr 24:3-6 comes to mind which brings us back to 1 Cor 3
Years ago I was called to do some drywall repair for a couple and discovered that the damage was caused by termites. In one area where I’d pulled the damaged drywall away, the header spanning a large picture window was completely eaten through. I told them they needed to get a framing crew in to replace it right away. Whether they did or not was entirely up to them, I stressed the importance and urgency because I cared, also knowing they frequently had their grandkids over and what the potential consequence was with that if they didn’t get to the repair.
Let me also ask about discipleship, if we can’t tell the difference between gold and iron pyrite, what’s the chances those being discipled won’t be able to tell either? Sure, they may be stopped from ‘jumping someone else’s claim’ but not prevented from trading for what doesn’t satisfy. “I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire,” Rev 3:18
Thank you for your comments and your thoughts. Very much appreciated…
It is clearly presented in the scripture that sexual immorality (the example used in the original post) is sin. The far reaching effects of the sin of sexual immorality are presented biblically and evidently set forth in modern culture. I’m in no way convinced by your comments that preaching the pre-tribulational rapture amounts to anything close to the effects of pressuring someone into premarital sex.
I pastor a church of nearly 600 people, the greater part of them believe in the pre-tribulational rapture. In 20+ years of attending a Calvary Chapel I’ve yet to meet someone who has sold their possessions, dropped out of school, quit their job and is planning their immediate departure by the rapture. I’ve yet to see it be a detrimental doctrine within any Calvary that I’ve been involved. That’s certainly not to say that could not happen, but I’ve not witnessed it.
Harold Camping and his crowed are a totally different story. They are a complete minority within the evangelical church, and their form of eschatology is regularly proven false, every time they set a date.
So if you’re saying that the pre-tribulational rapture is a false or unprovable doctrine, then I’d say that only proves it’s non-essential nature. There are good Christian scholars on either side of this debate. If, however, you’re saying that the teaching of a pre-tribulational rapture is detrimental or dangerous… I’m not sure I agree. There may be some who misapply it, but as Tim pointed out, that happens with many biblical doctrines.
So, maybe we just give up on doctrine and just read the bible as a good narrative?
You know Miles, now that you mention it, we could just start reading The Message and call it good.
What were the far reaching consequences of Eve believing that ‘she wouldn’t die.’?
You have yet to see it become a detrimental doctrine… You wait until it’s 15, 20 minutes passed the ‘hour’… And whereas some give a very specific time, others give a more general time… before ‘this’ happens.
And to say my claim that the pre-trib is a false or unprovable doctrine only shows that it’s non-essential because there are good men on either side of the debate, is like saying that the header above the large picture window was non-essential because, though it was eaten through it hadn’t collapsed.
Actually, instead of those copies of “The Message”; how ’bout reading Pr 2… Ps 119; James 1:5 and any other passage where, ‘in His light, we see light.’ I’m pretty certain that would produce incredible results… don’t you…
Thanks again for your thoughts…
Amen, Bill. That’s why shortsightedness is equated with sin.
I too once subscribed to that philosophy. I left much pain in my wake. But in my heart I knew that I’d broken God’s law. That conviction eventually led me to Christ.
Jesus said that people are condemned because they love darkness rather than light. That’s the real reason for this philosophy. It justifies sinful behavior.
Great thoughts, PB. I love how you hold forth for the truth.
Miles, Bill….thanks guys.
Hi, Greg – wouldn’t the logic of your position vis a vis the pre-trib rapture apply to almost any doctrinal stance? E.g., what if the one holding a more Arminian position is wrong – who gets hurt? What if the one holding to a more Calvinistic position is wrong – who gets hurt? What if the cessationist is wrong – who gets hurt? What if the Pentecostal is wrong – who gets hurt? It seems to me that a focus on rapture issues may be valid, but is far too narrowly focused because the overarching concern isn’t any version of the rapture, but who gets hurt.
Hey Tim, You know, honestly I can’t speak to Arminianism or Calvanism, or for the others you mention… as I haven’t looked into them at all to know whether or not their failure would detrimentally affect their followers… though, again looking at 1 Cor 3, if it doesn’t mesh, loss will be suffered…
As far as the rapture goes, I clarified that earlier replying to Bill that it’s the pre-trib. Sorry if you missed that and hope it helps.
What is at issue isn’t why I believe in the Pre-Trib Rapture. If you are interested in that, I invite you to check my notes as found on my website. Unfortunately, I don’t have time for a lengthy debate in this format.
The main point of my OP is that we cannot justify any kind of behavior by saying that it is fine if nobody gets hurt. We cannot see into the future.
You countered with an apples vs oranges argument.
There IS Biblical evidence for the Pre-Trib Rapture, or else people smarter than you and I wouldn’t embrace it. There is also evidence for other views, which intelligent students will offer forth. It is a point of disagreement, which doesn’t have turn into an argument, or break fellowship.
You intimated that I ought to let go of the wood, hay, and stubble. I explained that I have arrived at my conclusions thru study, not convenience, or fear of not towing the party line, or what that might cost me.
Finally, there is a big difference between what is obviously faulty teaching, and things that people disagree on. The essentials of the Christian faith are agreed upon: Diety of Jesus, virgin birth, original sin, heaven, hell, etc. Other less clear doctrines are conclusions based upon observation, and therefore, can safely and lovingly be disagreed upon, without forcing others to believe them, or insisting that one person is right and others are wrong.
Let me ask you respectfully…do you understand perfectly every passage of the Bible? Neither do I. Does that mean we ought not have an opinion about passages we aren’t sure of? Of course not. We are entitled top form an opinion based upon thorough study, and I have formed my opinion, which I teach as an opinion, not as an essential.
Finally, it sounds like we disagree on the Pre Trib Rapture of the church. That’s fine, as I stated before. I doubt that any of the contributing pastors on this blog have the time to pursue an online debate over the issue. I certainly don’t.
Thanks for your involvement here. I’m sorry that I can’t go deeper with this thing. I hope you were able to check my notes and understand WHY I believe what I believe.
Bill, thank you again for taking the time to answer at length.
Who has time to debate the pre-trib when all the time is spent debating whether we’re talking apples and oranges, oranges and oranges or just plain old fruit.
People smarter than you or I stood in the garden and ate what was expressly forbidden. People smarter than you or I were rebuked by Jesus for not being mindful of the things of God but of man… calling down fire, paying temple tax… or simply wondering how a man could enter the womb all over again.
Yet Paul rebuked Peter for succumbing to hypocrisy and drawing others away with him; they didn’t yield to false brethren sneaking in secretly, nor to those who wanted to bring them under the yoke of Moses.
Great is the mystery… But again, what did Jesus say about that?
Sorry if I missed something, I’m running a bit short on time myself but wanted to cover this much while I was at it.
I really appreciate the time you’ve taken.
Hi, Greg – the more I read you the less I know what your point really is. Boiled down, in very simple language so I can understand it, what is your point? Is it about the pre-trib rapture being an injurious doctrine? Is it about not making non-essentials essential? I’m being completely honest, I don’t know what your point is.
“Is it about the pre-trib rapture being an injurious doctrine?” Yep, that’s about it… you got it. Thanks for the honesty, Tim. Very much. Take care.
well, at least we’re all clear now.
Greg…your’e welcome. Blessings…