Thoughts on the Meaning of Life… Todd Helmkamp

One of Those “Aha!” Moments…

Posted by Vogeler on January 8, 2007

So I’ve been having a conversation (via email) with my good friend Adam about a recent post of his on his blog. It was called Projected Holiness. It cause quite an uproar with many, including me. Not that anyone was angry(as far as I know), it’s just a sensitive topic. Plenty of misunderstanding. I completely misunderstood his point, and he was kind enough to explain himself further. Which led to the title of this post, when I had an “Aha!” moment. The email is reproduced below. Enjoy!

“maybe I’ll call this ‘comparative holiness’ 😉

An action might be sinful for Bob and not sinful for Jim. That is
subjective. With the exception of a specific word from God, the thing that
makes it sinful for Bob is sinful for Jim as well. For example – violent
movies. Bob doesn’t go see violent movies because when he leaves he’s all
stirred up and wants to go kill somebody. Jim can watch violent movies and
just enjoy it (And I’d even wager to say that it even honors God on some
level – not everything that honors God has a “Jesus” stamp on it – the
grass in my back yard even honors God). So their is one action, but the
action sinfulness is subjective.


What made it sinful for Bob (violent emotions) IS sinful for Jim as well.
But that movie didn’t make violent emotions come out in Jim. But the
violent emotions in Jim would still be sinful…. its just that the movie
didn’t do it for Jim.

Another example is Bubba and Dr. Smith. If Bubba sees certain parts of a
woman naked he gets turned on. When Dr. Smith sees certain parts of a
woman naked, he thinks, “You may have cancer here” or “You’re going to
have a baby.” Bubba is sinful because of his lust. Dr. Smith does the same
thing, but (most likely) has no lust in seeing parts of a woman naked. So
the action is sinful for one, not for the other. But the THING that makes
it sinful for Bubba (lust) is STILL sinful for Dr. Smith.

That’s why its so important to strip down the holiness of our actions to
the heart of the issue. Seeing a woman naked isn’t sinful. The lust is.

The exception to this is where God tells someone to not do something… a
specific word from God. This MAY include a “personal conviction.” But it
always includes stuff that God just tells you. “


9 Responses to “One of Those “Aha!” Moments…”

  1. joe said

    Hmmm….Just a side note before I actually comment: I’ve talked to a LOT of christian doctors who have a terrible time with lusting after women…God wired men to be sexually aroused by the site of a naked woman, doctor’s are no exception.

    Oh, and one other thing…I was a part of that conversation, and have since started my own.

    Anyway, on to my comment.

    If it doesn’t honor God, why choose to do it? I agree that not everything that honors God has “Jesus” stamped all over it…take eating food, for instance. God created food for my sustenance, but also for my enjoyment. So, as long as I’m not putting the food before God, I should be able to enjoy it, and enjoying it honors God, because that’s what He created it for: my enjoyment.

    I would even go so far as to say that if something doesn’t honor God, then it is sin…because at that moment, I have chosen to put something before God in my life. With that in mind, how does watching wanton violence honor God? How does looking at naked women, other than my wife, honor God? Why would I even choose to look at naked women (with the exception of doctor’s and morticians) unless I intended on lusting?

    I totally agree with what Adam said in his original post: “Our holiness starts with our heart, not with our actions.” But, this newer explanation gives me way more questions than I already had! It seems to say that as long as I can prove that what I’m doing doesn’t involve sinful actions, than I can do anything I want! If I’m truly in a relationship with God, and allowing Him to mold me, am I really willing to work that hard to prove that I’m not sinning? Shouldn’t I be fleeing the very appearance of evil? I realize that we can’t legislate morality, and I’m not condoning that, nor am I trying to build “fence laws” (Ed Gungor’s book, Religiously Transmitted Diseases). But why get as close to sin as possible without actually doing it? Shouldn’t I be running the other way as fast and as hard as I can?

    I’m not upset, and I’m not trying to be disagreeable, but these are honest questions that I have, and it seems that very few people are willing to discuss them.

  2. nathan said

    quote: “It seems to say that as long as I can prove that what I’m doing doesn’t involve sinful actions, than I can do anything I want!”

    I think you’re missing the point. Why do you have to ‘prove’ anything? If you think you have to ‘prove’ you aren’t sinning, you probably are.

    This goes back to Gungor’s Black and White chapter (haven’t read it yet). You are asking for a black and white religion, which Christianity isn’t. Christianity doesn’t give you a black and white answer for every situation. (It does in some, but not ALL.)

    our actions are subjective. our heart is not.

  3. Adam said

    This is not about seeing how much we can do before its classified as sin. This is about stripping down our actions to the bare bones, revealing what is truly sin. Jesus taught us in Matthew 5 that we SHOULD follow the spirit of the law, not so much the letter of it.

    The letter of the law says, “Don’t murder.” But Jesus said, “Look at the spirit of the law! If you’ve been violently angry at your brother you’ve already committed this sin!” (Adam Paraphrase)

    The letter of the law says, “Don’t committ adultery.” But Jesus said, “Look at the spirit of the law! If the adulterous behavior was in your heart, you’ve already done it in my eyes!” (Adam Paraphrase).

    With that in mind . . .

    I believe it would be accurate to say that the letter of the law says, “Don’t look at another man’s wife naked.” But Jesus would probably say, “Look at the spirit of that law! Don’t lust after her!”

    If there is a situation where an action is sometimes sin for one person and not a sin for another person (besides a specific word from God) I think we should strip down the components of the action and say, “What about this is sin?” The “What about this” will be sin for anyone. But the same action (i.e. watching an action movie) will not cause the same sinful reaction in two people.

  4. joe said

    Thanks for bearing with me everyone! I am struggling to make this real to me, and not just let it be something that I’ve been told…I guess you could say that I’m looking for one of those “Aha!” moments.

    I still have a lot of questions, but at least I’m not looking at this from my narrow-minded and limited perspective anymore.

    I told a friend in an email that I can finally see a light at the end of the tunnel, as far as understanding this goes.

    @adam: Thanks for using the Bible in your comment! It gives me something to hold on to. Sometimes, when everyone gives their input, it seems like you end up with a bunch of opinions, but you are still left with the question, “What does the Bible say?” I honestly don’t have a strong enough mind to come up with stuff on my own. I need a crutch to help me think and form ideas…that’s right Nietzsche, I’m weak-minded! And what better crutch than the Words of God Himself (the Bible)? Anyway, now I am challenged to look at a section of scripture that I haven’t looked at before in this question.

  5. nathan said

    Luke 16:1-15 is a cool story of Jesus commending a man who robs from his boss.

  6. nathan said

    i should clarify i mistyped. i just realized what i wrote. it was a parable, not Jesus himself commending. sorry for the double post!

  7. joe said

    Yeah…I read that story, like, five times, and had to think really hard about what you must have meant. Then I decided that you must have meant something different than what you actually said.

    Thanks for clarifying. It makes a lot more sense now! 😀

  8. […] been a hot one recently on the little circle of blogs that I read. Check out Adam’s post, Todd’s post and my post. You’ll see what I […]

  9. […] been a hot one recently on the little circle of blogs that I read. Check out Adam’s post, Todd’s post and my post. You’ll see what I […]

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