, , , , , , , ,

The previous post in this series may be found here:https://memoirandremains.wordpress.com/2014/07/03/how-may-a-beloved-lust-be-discovered-and-mortified-part-1/


Needler proposes that every human being has a peculiar beloved lust:

Most men have some peccatum in deliciis, “some sweet morsel” that they roll under their tongue, which they will by no means spit out or part with.

James Nichols, Puritan Sermons, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Richard Owen Roberts, Publishers, 1981), 56.  A contemporary argument, seen predominately in sexual matters, is that this particular is so strong that it must be part of my character & nature: therefore, it cannot be wrong.

This an argument which derives from the civil rights legal work on matters of “race” – an utterly repellent term, because there is only a human race. Since one’s ancestry cannot be altered, nor one’s skin color be changed, these things cannot be taken into consideration for purposes of determining civil rights in civil society. The conclusion is correct: skin color & ancestry must be irrelevant when it comes to the law. However, the rationale is wrong. The basis of the distinction on
“race” is the proposition that there are different types, races, of human beings. And thus the distinction is close to the distinctions we make between species [see, it is a grotesque line of thought]. This is false: Genesis 1:27; Acts 17:27.

Christianity posits that all human beings are born with sin (original sin, both as to guilt & corruption). This sin corrupts our desires & behaviors.  All of us will experience such corruption as built into our very natures. That means we must have a transformation of our natures.

To argue that some-thing X, some desire (and related behavior) is part of my nature does not cross Christian claims in the least. The great stream of Christian thought has always maintained that such a corruption exists within humanity (yes, there has been a more-or-less constant debate).[1]

The “naturalness” of the desire does not determine the moral rectitude of the desire. That response to the desire requires a change of nature is precisely what Christianity claims.

He also makes an interesting sociological observation: sin has not merely a personal but also has a corporate aspect:

It would be no hard matter to show you, that several nations have their proper and peculiar sins,—as the Spaniards theirs, the French theirs, the Dutch theirs. Look into the scripture, and you will find, that the Corinthians had their sin, which is thought to be wantonness and uncleanness; and therefore the apostle, in the epistles that he writes to them, uses so many pressing arguments against this sin.

James Nichols, Puritan Sermons, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Richard Owen Roberts, Publishers, 1981), 56–57.

Again, Needler upsets certain cleavages in modern thought. There has been a tendency to see either the individual or the society as the ground of bad conduct.

[1] See, for example, the Council of Orange, 529, A.D.:


CANON 1. If anyone denies that it is the whole man, that is, both body and soul, that was “changed for the worse” through the offense of Adam’s sin, but believes that the freedom of the soul remains unimpaired and that only the body is subject to corruption, he is deceived by the error of Pelagius and contradicts the scripture which says, “The soul that sins shall die” (Ezek. 18:20); and, “Do you not know that if you yield yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are the slaves of the one whom you obey?” (Rom. 6:16); and, “For whatever overcomes a man, to that he is enslaved” (2 Pet. 2:19).

CANON 2. If anyone asserts that Adam’s sin affected him alone and not his descendants also, or at least if he declares that it is only the death of the body which is the punishment for sin, and not also that sin, which is the death of the soul, passed through one man to the whole human race, he does injustice to God and contradicts the Apostle, who says, “Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned” (Rom. 5:12)