Monday, June 11, 2012

Can “Willful Disobedience” Send You to Hell?

The following is a response to a Christian Post article by Dan Delzell, entitled Can Deliberate Sin Negate Your Conversion Experience? I put it here because (a) it's pertinent to the blog, and (b) my response is too long for CP's comment system. :)

Oh, boy, this is a big one for me, though not quite in the direction Dan takes it.

Consider This: there are plenty of people who have been told they are sinning willfully or deliberately who have lost hope.

I’ve been married for just over 18 years now. We cannot have children of our own. I was abused emotionally as a child, I believe. I hated my father for years, and still find bits of bitterness about some of the attitudes he had. That’s not the “deliberate sin,” though, that I want to address.

Several years ago the pastor of a large church I attended (which had no formal membership), someone I trusted to speak the truth, said something offhandedly at the end of a message. I don’t recall the message, nor the Scripture he used to support this, but he said, in effect, that it was a sin for a married couple to choose to be child-free. Adoption was an option, he noted, for those who could not have children of their own. After the service I went up & asked him about that particular detail. He back-pedaled a bit with comments about the matter of when one had children is personal, but he never retracted his statement. (For the record, there were times when I’d ask him about other things, and he did indeed retract what he said, or at least clarified it and made sure he would clarify it in later services.) From what I can gather, he did not make that same statement in the other two weekend services, but the damage was done for me.

I truly thought that I could not be headed for Heaven because I was willfully “disobeying” a “command” from God to be child-free.

I should also note here that I have clinical depression with anxiety, probably due to malfunctioning or fatigued glands, probably inherited from my mother’s side of the family. (We haven’t gone through the genetic testing to prove this; this is our best guess based on family knowledge of symptoms.) Anxiety attacks can manifest as anger attacks, since anger often is a secondary emotion arising from anxiety or stress — the “fight or flight” mechanism choosing the “fight” or “Hulk-out” mode. I have been, and continue to be, afraid of being around children at times. I have to leave the area if I can sense an attack about to happen. Their high-pitched squeals don’t help in that area, either, due to presumed hyperacusis.

Simply put: I do not feel safe around children.

To believe all that, and then be told by a trusted pastor that being child-free is a sin, led me to the conclusion that my continued choice in that area meant I was willfully disobeying a command from God. Is that not another way of saying “deliberate sin?”

The point here is that we must be absolutely careful about what we call “deliberate sin,” and recognize that God’s grace remains sufficient if our hearts are turned towards Him. He knows us better than we know ourselves. So does His enemy and ours, Satan, who knows exactly where to poke us to make us think we are without hope.

The only one of us without hope is the one who has chosen to give up the source of hope.
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