Yesterday’s post criticizing Perry Noble’s sexual legalism was predictably misinterpreted by a whole bunch of commentators as suggesting that we should not try to avoid temptation.
Perry invited us to consider him legalistic, so I obliged him because what he is suggesting is a classic example of the dangers of legalism. When you make a rule that says that you should never be alone with a woman, you immediately have a few problems:
It’s impossible to follow.
It’s not Biblical.
Constant monitoring is not the answer to sin. The heart is the root of sin, and our hearts will always find ways to break the rules. You can lie to your accountability partner. You can’t be monitored 24-hours a day.
Thinking that these structures will prevent you from sin can actually be counterproductive because they prevent the daily disciplines of self denial and self control. Infants do require constant monitoring, but we expect that as people develop in maturity, that they can act civilly without having to have someone always hold their hands. If they don’t think they have the maturity required for sanctified living (shoot, just acting like a decent gentleman), perhaps these men shouldn’t be in ministry.
Perry Noble loves to label everyone who disagrees with him as a Pharisee who is not part of Christ’s kingdom. I am not going to counter-label him one here, but perhaps Noble should look at exactly what made the Pharisees the Pharisees.
The Pharisees earnestly sought to keep God’s law, but they did so by adding a whole set of man-made laws that were designed to protect people from breaking God’s law. For example, they might say that in order to obey the primary commandment against committing adultery, that one should never be alone with a woman. Yes, the second-tier law, if followed perfectly, would prevent breaking of the first, but it was never God’s law.
Paul’s point in Romans is that the law was designed, not to save us from sin, but to show us that we couldn’t not sin. Imposing and following Noble’s legalistic rules will never prevent someone from committing adultery. They may make it more inconvenient, but relying on his rules is foolish.
Practicing daily habits of self control and self denial in all areas of life in dependence on the Holy Spirit is much more likely to lead to sexual propriety.