January 7, 2008

Ideas Have Consequences...a True to Life Example of Bad Theology at Work

In my last post I discussed the doctrine of Total Depravity. I briefly would like to share with you a post from another blog that I discovered while researching this topic on the web. The reason I want to show you this post from another site is to show you that doctrinal ideas do indeed have consequences (and many times they can be damaging). This clip below is from a Calvinist website who claims that the doctrine of Total Depravity has literally helped his marriage. Here is what "Mr. & Mrs Jolly" say about their marriage and the doctrine of Total Depravity:
These 20 years have gone by way too fast and I wouldn't trade them for anything. I won't try to wax eloquent on keys to a happy marriage except to say that sound theology is the foundation for a sound marriage. I truly believe that if a married couple can grasp total depravity and grace then they are on a sound footing—they won't need much extra advice. If we don't grasp total depravity and grace, then all the marriage books and seminars in the world won't mean a thing.

Total depravity is key because it reminds me that my wife is married to a sinnner, so I need to go easy on her—she's got a tough life being married to me. It also reminds me that she is a sinner, so I don't have to burden her with a load of expectations she can never meet. Grace reminds me that her performance is not the basis of my acceptance of her any more than my performance is the basis of God's acceptance of me.

I won't say that those two things are operative every day in our lives, as there are plenty of times when we act in un-graceful ways. But God is good and always brings us back and keeps us centered on grace.

As to how I feel about Mrs. Jolly, let me quote someone else. We have this wonderful older couple in our church named Martin and Peggy Smith who have been married for somewhere north of umpteen years. Martin says this of Peggy—"even when I'm mad at her, I'd still rather be with her than anyone else." That's how I feel about Mrs. Jolly; she is my wife, my lover, my confidant, my best friend, and there is no one I'd rather be with.
First, I would like for you to pay careful attention as to what it is this gentleman is really saying about his marriage. He is essentially saying that since he and his wife are Totally Depraved and are "sinners" (not redeemed or walking in holiness I might add) that this somehow excuses their bad and at times it would seem sinful behavior. Mr Jolly states "Grace reminds me that her performance is not the basis of my acceptance of her any more than my performance is the basis of God's acceptance of me."

Performance is NOT the basis of their marriage? Really! Again, lets see if this passes the common sense test or as I like to say the test of right reason. Lets say that Mr. Jolly goes out and commits adultery with his secretary repeatedly. Clearly this would be a grievous act to any marriage. Now, over the course of a couple of weeks Mrs. Jolly sadly uncovers her husband's adulterous affair and she goes and confronts her husband. During the confrontation Mr. Jolly proudly proclaims that he is (A.) Totally Depraved and that she should not at all be surprised as he is really nothing more than a "sinner" who can not help himself and that (B) She should show him "grace" and over look this little incident as again their marriage "performance" should not be the basis of her acceptance of him.

I'm not sure about you but in my house this type of excuse would not at all be tolerated and I would probably find myself out on the stoop with my bags packed looking for a new place to live! It would appear Mr & Mrs Jolly are using the doctrine of total depravity as license for bad behavior. Again, as I pointed out in my previous post, this theology allows people to make excuses for their sins, rather than be broken hearted over what they have done to the heart of the savior and each other. Again, ideas of consequences and this would be a good example of how bad theology can have terrible consequences.

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