How Family Values Can Replace the Gospel and Promote Abuse
Colossians 2:18-23 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, (19) and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God. (20) If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations — (21) “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” (22) (referring to things that all perish as they are used)–according to human precepts and teachings? (23) These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.
Christianity is not moralism. Moralism, in fact, is everything that Jesus Christ is not. Moralism is a system that promotes the merit of moral deeds. Of good works. Ultimately, it holds that by living a good, clean life of morality, a person will be acceptable to God. Anyone who knows anything at all about Scripture knows that this is dead set opposed to the gospel of Christ. In Christ, we are freed from slavery to sin so that we love the moral law of God and strive with a new free will to live it. Not to earn righteousness with God, but because in Christ we have that righteousness.
I would like to suggest to you that the decades of emphasis on marriage, the family, and traditional family values have taken their toll. And it isn’t a good toll. “How can that be! What are you saying, that same-sex marriages, or no marriage, or abortion and so forth are good!” No, and if you have been reading this blog for very long you know that is not what we mean. But here is the problem: when morality is preached apart from the power of the gospel of Christ, it is worse than nothing. It becomes positively dangerous, and here is why –
- As Paul wrote to the Colossians (quoted above) moral exhortations in themselves only promote a man-made, powerless religion that are NO VALUE in restraining sin. And it is even worse than that, because…
- The Law of God is the POWER of sin. Did you know that? Check it out —
1 Co 15:56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
Rom 5:20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more…
The Law of God is given to actually excite sin in the sinner. The problem is not with the Law, but with the sinner —
Rom 7:5 For while we were living in the flesh, our sinful passions, aroused by the law, were at work in our members to bear fruit for death. 6 But now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code. 7 What then shall we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. For I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, “You shall not covet.” 8 But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead.
Now consider this very carefully. Here we have had this avalanche of teaching: seminars, retreats, books, sermons, videos, all emphasizing marriage, the family, parenting, headship, submission…. and what has been the result? Are things significantly better in the church now than 30 years ago? Call me a pessimist, but I say that not only are they not better, they are far worse. Ask yourself this in all of this emphasis upon marriage, the sinfulness of divorce, remarriage, the role of the husband, the role of the wife…. has Jesus Christ been emphasized and exalted? Do these books and seminars present Christ clearly? Have they pointed husbands and wives and children to Him who is the Head of the Church, apart from whom we can do nothing? I must answer, once again, in the negative.
And when you preach empty morality — empty because it looks to man alone to live it — you actually feed sin. And I suggest we have done just that. “Do this, and live” has been our message instead of declaring —
Gal 2:19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Little wonder that we have an epidemic of abuse in the church.