Rosaria Butterfield has a characteristically insightful article about sexual sin and the false beliefs that precede it. Her example is about homosexuality, but her points apply to any sexual sin a Christian may be tempted to engage in: adultery, premarital sex, etc.
Why is sexual sin often justified by Christians today? Because Christians are more influenced by our culture than by the Bible—they have false beliefs shaped by society’s values rather than the Bible’s.
The first false belief is that our feelings are God and we must follow our feelings to truly be ourselves. Butterfield succinctly rebuts this: “Your feelings aren’t your God. Your God is your God.”
And she points out that this is good news. We are not slaves to our feelings and our sinful natures. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we can resist temptation and sometimes change our feelings and desires, redirecting them to what is intrinsically good and beautiful.
She goes on to point out, “Modernity’s identity is piecemealed from the unconverted woman that you once were.” Identity in the modern world is significantly focused on our sexuality—gay or straight. While God did create our sexuality, our sexuality is also broken by the Fall. It’s also one part of who we are and doesn’t make up our identity. Our identities aren’t cobbled together pieces of our feelings and commitments—gay-Christian, straight-Christian. Our identities are in Christ. We are Christian—Christ-followers. We get our identity from Him. We are broken, sinful people; but we are also saved, renewed, and filled with the Holy Spirit. We shouldn’t borrow ideas from our culture that compromise that.
Butterfield counsels: Repent of your sinful beliefs. It’s not only our actions and behavior that are sinful; our thoughts and false beliefs are sinful. And it’s the sin in our beliefs that leads to sin in our actions. We have to allow God to examine our hearts and minds and show us where we hold false beliefs that lead us to behave sinfully.
While we are Christian, we are also residents of a culture that influences all of us. We need to be vigilant in examining our beliefs and take false ones captive. We cannot do the job of the church in our culture—calling people to be reconciled to God through Jesus—if we are captive to it. Especially when we don’t realize it.