SWM 094 – Anonymous Question: Who is more righteous?
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I received a question through our anonymous question page. That said, the question, phrasing, and terms used point to an individual that has been arguing with me for the last year or so in comments on the blog. In large part, the core of my argument with this individual has been that I believe God’s laws are just and timeless, and he believes that the church should amend God’s laws to adjust to a changing society. In particular, he wants to change the “rules” regarding sex outside of marriage as he feels they are unfair.
In the anonymous question, he poses this hypothetical situation and a question:
There are two people. The first person participates in the modern Sexual Marketplace by dating around, having a series of mid-to-long-term relationships that involve sex, and having a few hookups, but ends up in a stable marriage and has children by his mid-to-late twenties. The second person follows Biblical Courtship (or whatever you want to call it), saves sex for marriage, only courts/dates Christians, but never finds a spouse and ends up as a 40-year-old childless virgin.
Who was the more righteous of the two?
Reading it reminds me of Matthew 22. There are three stories in that chapter in which people try to trap Jesus by asking questions. This individual appears to be attempting to do the same here. Some of my supporters would tell me to delete a question like this as it’s clearly from a troll, but Jesus answered trolls. So I will too.
As such, I will take this opportunity to teach others as Jesus did because, like the groups trying to trap Jesus, I doubt there is any desire from the questioner to learn from my answer, only to attack. I’m also afraid that, like Jesus’ responses to his attackers, this might get a bit embarrassing for him, and like the attackers of Jesus, he’ll likely cover it up with anger and indignation.
So, who was the more righteous of the two? Well, let’s see what the Bible says about righteousness.
And he (Abram/Abraham) believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.Genesis 15:6
Romans 4:3, 16, Galatians 3:6 and James 2:23 affirm this “righteousness through faith” of Abrahams.
For in it is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.Romans 1:17
But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.Galatians 3:11
I could go on because there are lots of verses, but I think this passage says it best:
But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.Romans 3:21-26
Who is righteous? The one who has faith in Jesus. So, which of these two men in your hypothetical story has faith in Jesus? Well, I’d argue the second one. The first one ignored God’s laws and precepts and did whatever he wanted. The second had faith that God is good, and even if it doesn’t produce earthly gains, we are waging a more significant battle.
Of course, we can’t know for sure. Perhaps the first had a conversion later or got more serious about his faith, as some do when they start to have children. Or maybe he had no faith, as there’s no mention of his beliefs, but I’m assuming the question implies they’re both Christians.
The second one only dated Christian women and followed Biblical Courtship (I don’t have a better term either). This would indicate that he at least had some mind to follow God. The fact that he turned his back on the world and stuck to his principles even when it was hard.
Because as much as righteousness is by faith, that faith produces certain behaviours in people. If you genuinely believe that God is God, that His son died for your sins, then that will create a desire to follow His commandments. So, in that way, actions can be righteous, but it’s not the action that produces righteousness, but rather righteousness that produces actions.
So, I think your original question is flawed because you put the works at the centre rather than Jesus and God. Romans 8 may explain why.
Those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh; but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. The mind of the flesh is death, but the mind of the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind of the flesh is hostile to God: It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the flesh cannot please God.Romans 8:5-8
I would submit that this is what your question looks like, as well as all your comments on the blog. You don’t want to submit to God’s law because you’re focused on the things of the flesh. This lust to have sex so blinds you that you’ve determined the church needs to update God’s law. You believe God forgot to account for today’s “Sexual Marketplace.” You think you’re smarter than Him because you have ideas where you believe He failed to deliver.
But your focus is on the wrong thing. I don’t believe God intended His law to keep up with society. It’s intended to show us how far we are from perfection. The further and further society drifts from God’s law, the better it shows us that we need a Savior to return and end this sinful experience.
It is a test to see which you’d prefer – to live according to man’s or God’s desires. You’ve embraced the deception so much that you’re now actively engaged in a campaign to not only deceive others but to get them to deceive all Christianity.
The sad thing is, you’ll probably win in the end. The vast majority of Christianity will accept deception, one way or another. In Revelation, we see the church corrupted and turned into Babylon, and the angels calling the believers out from her (Revelation 18:4).
So, yes, the church will drift further and further from teaching the truth and into apostasy. We have seen it happening and will continue to see it.
For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.2 Timothy 4:3-4
So, who is more righteous? I’ll leave you with this verse from Revelation:
Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.Revelation 14:12
10 thoughts on “SWM 094 – Anonymous Question: Who is more righteous?”
Very well said! I couldn’t have said it any better.
Unfortunately I have to agree with you that the Truth of God’s Word is becoming harder to teach as more people are convenced that God’s Word is outdated and doesn’t really apply to our modern day socal standards. I’ve seen it in the Church and especially among the younger generation of teens who want to keep a foot in both worlds so they don’t have to take a solid stand one way or the other as that could damage thier rep. So far my wife and I have been lucky that our 20 yr old son hasn’t really been too interested in dating anyone as he’s focused on his education right now. We’ve taught him what the Bible says about sex outside of marriage and he agrees with us so far. But he has told us about the struggles his friends have had while dating and he’s tried to help them resist going down that path, so something we said stuck 😋
“You believe God forgot to account for today’s ‘Sexual Marketplace.'”
No, I acknowledge that texts written in the context of 1st century Greco-Roman culture don’t mention the modern Sexual Marketplace and can’t be applied to the current set of conditions. There is such a vast gulf between 1st century Greco-Roman culture and 21st century North American culture that the church has to make a judgement call on how the Bible’s teachings can be applied, if they can be applied at all. No norm is applicable to chaos.
If you think I’m wrong then show me where the Bible mentions anything like the modern Sexual Marketplace.
A finite text like the Bible cannot possibly address the infinite array of situations and circumstances that can come about. Books can’t make decisions.
As for who was more righteous: the second man is like the servant in the Parable of the Talents who hid the money he was given and also like the older brother who was dead in his resentful obedience (unlike his brother who was alive in his rebellion) in the story of the Prodigal Son.
I am also reminded of the Jews, who in AD 66 rioted because a pagan spilled the blood of birds in a synagogue. This was the beginning of the first Roman-Jewish War. Eventually in their revolt they spilled human blood on the grounds of the Temple in Jerusalem. In AD 70, as I’m sure you know, the Temple was destroyed and Jerusalem fell. Their myopic, self righteous crusade for purity and holiness led to them committing an even greater sin and led to their destruction.
A third of men under 30 now report that they’ve had zero sexual partners since they turned 18 (I’m sure that for many of them it’s zero period) and the numbers are growing. This isn’t because they’ve suddenly discovered the virtues of chastity.
What’s your solution?
“If everyone would just embrace Biblical Courtship…”
Answer: “If your solution to some problem relies on ‘If everyone would just…’ then you do not have a solution. Everyone is not going to just. At no time in the history of the universe has everyone just, and they’re not going to start now”.
You missed the entire point and that wasn’t my solution.
Do you want to make an actual effort to understand, or do you want to continue with this self-righteous indignation?
Indignation is the only warranted response to someone who is wilfully missing the point. You took precisely the wrong lesson from the hypothetical situation you were given.
Where does the Bible mention the modern Sexual Marketplace?
Under present conditions, if people stick to Biblical Courtship then a growing number of them are going to end up like the second person. Families won’t be formed and children won’t be brought into the world. The dating market IS the Sexual Marketplace. You have to participate in it if you want to get married and have a family. “Biblical Marriage” is dead.
Where does it mention the sexual marketplace?
Well, many places. I would say almost every passage that mentioned sexual immortality. You can do a search yourself, but I think this one dovetails nicely with my post:
Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality – Galatians 5:19
I didn’t participate in the “sexual marketplace” as you call it. I’m married with 5 kids.
I know many others who don’t either and are married, recently got married, are engaged to be married.
So, no, you don’t have to. In fact, statistically, the more partners you have before marriage, the less likely you’ll end up staying marriage in the long term. It’s quite a jump from zero partners to even 1 (about 5% chance to 20% chance). If you increase the number of partners, you see a correlated increase in divorce rates. 10+ partners comes out at about a 33% chance of a divorce.
The data doesn’t seem to agree with your supposition, and neither does the Bible.
As has already been well stated, the Bible does, in fact, address the current state of affairs. No pun intended…
No matter how much some of the details change, man’s heart does not. And that’s what the Bible addresses, quite well.
And finally, the Bible does speak very well into our current culture. There are many people living what the Bible teaches, quite successfully. It works for anyone willing… whosoever will, if you will…
No, Brian it does not address “the current state of affairs”.
It does not address dating.
It does not address dating apps.
It does not address cultures where marriage is based on romance and not economics.
It does not address cultures where most people marry when they are well over 30.
It does not address the Sexual Revolution.
It does not address the stagnation of wages.
It does not address cultures where home ownership is out of reach.
It does not address cultures where marriages arranged by family or community are no longer the norm.
It does not address the possibility of a mature adult who just hasn’t found a spouse yet.
1st century Greco-Roman sexual mores bear no resemblance to 21st century North America.
In the 1st century, sexual activity was either porneia (which referred to exploiting a dishonoured woman: a prostitute or a slave; with prostitutes often themselves being slaves), moicheia (which referred to violating a respectable woman: a married woman, a widow, or a virgin daughter), or sexual activity in marriage. In that context, where his audience often had little choice on who they married and would have almost certainly been betrothed if not married already, Paul restricts sexual activity to marriage. In that culture remaining single was a luxury and being married or betrothed was the norm. The people who had the luxury of choosing to remain single or choosing who they married were usually people who had already been married before and had children but were now widowed or divorced.
It is now the total opposite, where singleness is the default state and getting married is difficult.
Greco-Roman sexual mores were hierarchical and male centred. 21st century sexual mores are individualistic and favour women plus a small number of men. They bear no resemblance, and Paul’s responses to 1st century Greco-Roman culture are of limited application to the post Sexual Revolution world.
What do you make of stats which say that having casual sex strongly correlates with lower rates of depression in men?
Do you have access to the full text of the study you could share? If not, I’ve requested access, but there’s no guarantee they’ll grant it. I’ve learned you cannot trust the abstracts as they will just say whatever the funding agency requested them to say in a lot of cases, sometimes going against their own data. So, I’ll await the data.
That said, I did come across another study called “Consequences of Casual Sex Relationships and Experiences on Adolescents’ Psychological Well-Being: A Prospective Study” (doi:10.1080/00224499.2016.1255874) in which they found that “engagement in [friends with benefits] relationships/[one-night stands] was associated with a decrease in psychological well-being”. More so for girls than boys, but boys also experience a small decrease.
Looking at the data, it shows that for girls, having friends with benefits and one-night stands correlate to increased psychological distress, suicidal ideation, and alcohol and drug use and for boys, we see increased suicidal ideation and alcohol use (+drug use for FWB interactions).
So, I’d say even if the study you mention shows lower rates of depression, there are at best conflicting studies.
We also know that there is a correlation between premarital sex and divorce, and as time goes on and pre-martial sex becomes more popular, the divorce rate amongst those who wait until marriage keeps dropping while the divorce rate for those who do engage in premarital sex is increasing (according to the CDC’s Natural Survey of Family Growth’s data). And divorce is definitely associated with increased depression, not only in the divorcing partners, but also in their children if they have any.