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Monday, November 22, 2010

Unwise = Sin (?)

One of my friends sent me a text message the other day inquiring about the legitimacy of polygamy in the Bible. I replied that while polygamy (except for Israel’s and the Church’s leaders) is never prohibited; it is also never presented as a wise or profitable choice (just look at the biblical examples and you will see for yourself; no I will not list them; read your Bible!) in the Scriptures.

My friend’s response was,

“So, you are saying that it is not sinful, just unwise?”

That is a very interesting question:

If something is unwise (for you or for everyone), is it a sin? Or is it something that is ok that just leads to sin?

Now, I am going to have to say that Scriptures speak very highly of wisdom; in fact, a whole book is dedicated to the acquiring and applying of wisdom. Wisdom is seen as coming straight from the Lord himself and without God; Solomon would not have been so wise (too bad he did not use any of that wisdom to build his character). Wisdom is very foundational to understanding and navigating life.
But is it a sin to make an unwise decision?

There are some (like my distant mentor Andy Stanley) who would say that one makes an unwise choice because of a sinful attitude or motivation. The action itself would not be a sin, if it were done with the right motivation. Now, there are some actions and choices that should never be made (clear cut sin), but there are other unwise decisions that come from a sinful leaning and direction in one’s heart and thinking process.

So in essence, yes, an unwise decision is a sin.

Every time we decide to not think and be good stewards of the knowledge and wisdom God has given us and we make a poor decision; we are sinning. Sometimes we sin from ignorance and other times we send from willfulness, but it does not matter; sin is sin.

What would happen if we started understanding that our unwise decisions are a result of the bent of our spiritual lives? I think we would stop blaming other people for our bad choices; we would start to own up to our rebellion against God. More importantly, gray areas of life would be easier to navigate.

For instance: Drinking.

The Bible has good and bad things to say about alcohol (much like it has good and bad things to say about sex). So, we cannot make a clear “yea” or “nay” from the Scriptures. But here is what we can do:
Andy Stanley poses an excellent question regarding making wise decisions in The Best Question Ever; here is that question:

In light of my past experiences, current circumstances, and future hopes and dreams; what is the wisest thing for me to do?

Past Experience

I know that in the past (and even in the present) members on both sides of my family have fought alcoholism. I know that alcohol has either directly or indirectly killed people who are dear to me. I know that in the past I have had an addictive personality and that these addictions often involved coping mechanisms for bad emotions.

Present Circumstances

I attend Clements Baptist Church which does not approve of the consumption of alcoholic beverages; especially by its leaders. I am a Southern Baptist, who traditionally have opposed the consumption of alcohol in all but missionary endeavors to avoid offense. I am making zero money and even when I do make money; there will do room for alcohol in my budget.

Future Hopes and Dreams

Alcohol has the serious potential to wreck my future as a husband, father, pastor, you name it. There are some churches that would not have me as pastor if I drank and there are some people who would be seriously offended with me; this could hamper future, beneficial relationships. If I became an alcoholic a huge sum of time, money, and energy would be spent trying to feed my addiction or to get me away from the habit.

The result:

Considering my past experience, present circumstances, and future hopes and dreams; it is seriously unwise for me to consume alcohol.

Now, that I have acknowledged this; if I do not follow through with the wisdom that God has given me; it is a sin for me to consume alcohol anyway.

Using this filter, what are some things that you are or are thinking about doing, that could potentially be unwise, and thus, sinful?


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