Can your body cause you to sin, part 3


As promised, I offer you a vignette to consider as we think about the matter of culpability and involuntary sins.

Consider a 2 year old that has missed his daily nap, is hungry, and tired of being out in public. He has a meltdown. He kicks, screams, cries, refuses his mother’s comfort because he wants some object he cannot have. The good parent recognizes the child’s distress, whispers in his ear to comfort him, says “no” firmly to his kicks, and finds something for him to eat and a place to take a nap. Has the child sinned? He surely has demanded something, acted aggressively, maybe even disobeyed by going after the object after his mother said to stop. Yes, he sinned. But was it really voluntary? Well, maybe partly. But don’t we consider the circumstances and the fact that his body is not helping matters. We forgive, we overlook, we understand, we help. We do so because we know his choices are not really voluntary.

Now, we may have another reaction altogether when we see our little boy (fully rested and fed) look us in the eye and try to bite his baby brother after we just told him to stop. We know he has great voluntary control here and is in a power struggle. And we respond with appropriate discipline.

We could easily have considered a vignette of a brain injured man or a panic disordered woman. We respond to individuals based not on whether something is sinful or not but on how much voluntary control we think they have and the circumstances in play (environment, biology, understanding, etc.).

So, our bodies can cause us to sin. In the classic sense, we are guilty whether it is voluntary or not. And yet we, and God himself, varies responses to such sins based on a variety of factors. We do not ascribe innocence to those less culpable but do try to determine levels of responsibility. Thankfully, all of it is covered by the cross.

Here’s one way this might matter. I find many afraid to seek biological aids for what they determine to be spiritual problems (addictions, depression, anxiety, etc.). If we see body and soul together, then both body and soul interventions are working toward the same goal.

4 Comments

Filed under biblical counseling, christian counseling, Doctrine/Theology, sin

4 responses to “Can your body cause you to sin, part 3

  1. Lightbearer

    Nice post, especially the last paragraph 🙂

    Would more seminary education on this topic be the most fruitful approach? I believe you have some experience with this?

  2. Pingback: Economics, Theology and Consequences « Shanan Trail

  3. >>We respond to individuals based not on whether something is sinful or not but on how much voluntary control we think they have and the circumstances in play (environment, biology, understanding, etc.).

    Um, dude, this statement made me cry.

    Not because I’m dealing with a particular body/brain scenario, but because that’s how God deals with us. There are many, many times when I’ve wondered why I didn’t face God’s discipline, knowing I was wrong, yet not knowing how I could have done right–or even knowing, not having the strength to obey, and feeling deep guilt for it. And yet, if we, being evil, know how to give good gifts to our children, how much more our Father in heaven?

    Thanks for the reminder of that.

  4. D. Stevenson

    ….If we see body and soul together, then both body and soul interventions are working toward the same goal….

    Bingo. You hit the nail square on. This rinses out a lot of dirty bathwater.

    I wonder if our attempts to dichotomize the indivisible have immediate ramification on our view of our body. Some sort of gnostic variant perhaps.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.