Friday, March 13, 2009


This morning I found myself in a discussion at the bi-weekly Men's Breakfast meeting with probably about fifteen or so men - all at least twenty years older than me. We were covering the topic of sin. We like to be clear and concise about we're discussing.

We started getting onto the idea of exactly what constitutes sin, and then were creating hypothetical examples of when an action is considered a sin. Not me - I should specify. The other guys. There were several, but one example was if the guys around me are using bad language, is it a sin if I don't say anything to them?

I was really uneasy about the whole direction the conversation was going. I felt like we were missing the point. We had read a couple of Bible verses previously. For example:

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. (Gal. 5:16)

But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:5)

... How can we who died to sin still live in it? (Rom 6:2)

I finally spoke up and said that I think we need to be careful that we don't become legalistic. I mean, knowing what constitutes sin is good and all, but we're missing the point. We're not called to live "not cursing" or "not lusting." We're called to something much bigger than that. (You'll especially notice this if you read the rest of Galatians 5.)

We're called to a life in Christ. Or, a life "in the light" if you will. My point was that if we live the way we're supposed to, these legalistic mentalities are a waste of time.

My dad (pastor of the church) looked down and said slowly, "I think I would mostly disagree with you."

He talked about how we are all under the law and have to avoid antinomianism.

I sat there trying to figure out what exactly we were "disagreeing" on. I agreed with what my dad said, and he didn't say anything that contradicted me. What gives?

If he had said, "Wait. Let's clarify what you mean..." Fine. No problem. Instead, he destroyed my credibility by saying he disagreed with me, and at this point everything I have said has been lost. No one will remember it. Every word has been invalidated.

I think all in all it comes down to rhetoric. I think my dad heard me say something along the lines of not being "under the law" (Gal 5:18) which made him squirm. I was quoting the Bible, but the words didn't sit well with him. So he said the same thing as me - but in different words. Which is fine, even good because now more people at the table might understand what I was trying to say. Unfortunately though, there was the "disagreement" that enabled my dad to be right and me to be wrong.

For the record, I'm fine, and I'm not mad at my dad. We talked it over after, and there will be no hard feelings. I guess I only want to stress the importance of rhetoric. When in a discussion with someone, explore your options before saying that you disagree. Maybe you do agree and you're just in the mood for a debate.

As Christians, we need to focus more on what we agree on rather than what we disagree on anyway.