Do What You Want — You’re Born Again

In the comments section of another post Seth and Lisa made some great comments.

They brought up a theme that I think is consistent in conversations between LDS and Evangelicals. LDS counter our “saved by grace alone” with “so then you can do whatever you want because you’re saved?” And the answer is “NO, absolutely not”. Paul makes it quite clear that we DON’T go on sinning, we start a new life. I have never heard a Protestant pastor preach forgiveness without preaching repentance at the same time. Repenting means leaving your sin behind and not returning to it.

So why do Evangelicals go on sinning? I’d venture to guess for the same reason LDS go on sinning. Because they haven’t fully converted. They still somewhere in their heart believe that their will should be done rather than God’s will (me included by the way).

So why haven’t they fully converted? I think there are several reasons for this. First off, we Evangelicals have done a terrible job making disciples. We aim for converts and then hope that discipleship will happen. We are definitely out of line with Jesus on this one. Your critiques are well aimed (although a 30% activity rate in the LDS church seems to indicate that it could equally be turned on you).

Second, when we do disciple people, we allow it to be messy. When an LDS convert is baptized he commits before his baptism to live a certain way. We don’t believe that people can straighten out their lives without the Holy Spirit first being in them. So we invite people to come worship Jesus with whatever junk they might be carrying with them. Sometimes that junk is substantial. Then we invite them to start the process of sanctification. We spend our whole lives turning away from sin. We don’t pretend that there are nothing but sinless people among us. We KNOW that they people sitting next to us in the pews are sinning.

So do Evangelicals allow people to go on sinning? Yes and no. If someone owns their sin and acknowledges how they continue to mess up, then we help hold them accountable. We walk them through the process of leaving it behind. Some are able to leave their sin cold turkey others are not. We make space for failure. If a person is unrepentant and blatantly goes on sinning with no intention to seek holiness we for sure confront them. Church discipline is different everywhere. If the person is in leadership, they are removed from that position whether they are repentant or not. They are given the resources of the church to seek restoration and it’s up to them to respond.

As far as orthodoxy and orthopraxy. Having right belief entails knowing what is right action. I dare say that those who are strict on their orthodoxy know quite well that sex before marriage is wrong. Those that think fornication is okay are probably missing quite a few other things in their “right belief”. But I think Jesus makes it quite clear that both orthodoxy AND orthopraxy fall short. The Pharisees had their doctrine and the religious practice nailed but their hearts were still corrupt. It’s pointless to focus on belief OR practice if we aren’t first reforming the heart. A right heart will produce fruit. But stapling apples on a lemon tree doesn’t do anything other than make a fraud.

Another comment by Lisa in that same post indicated that Evangelicals believe that all sins are the same. This is true and not true. We believe that ALL sin equally removes us from God. But to say that all sin is equal is ludicrous. I know that many Evangelicals believe that but they’re wrong. They have a very weak concept of justice. The sin of murder quite clearly destroys and corrupts much more powerfully than speeding. Adultery and lust are both sins, but adultery IS worse than lust in it’s consequences.

Lisa also reported that 40-80% of Evangelicals lose their virginity before marriage. The difference between those numbers is so huge it’s obviously not scientific. But even the 40% number is distressing. I’d venture to say that a belief that the numbers aren’t the same in the LDS church is naive. The only thing that might be reducing the number is the fact that the average LDS gets married probably about 8 years earlier than the average Evangelical. That’s no excuse for the Evangelicals. Hopefully I explained why it is happening.

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38 thoughts on “Do What You Want — You’re Born Again

  1. I appreciate that you posted this. I agree that this is one of the most disputed topics between ECs and LDS. I agree with much of what you wrote, especially about all sin equally removing us from God, but not being equal in the damage they cause the individual. I am confused about a couple of things though, namely, if continuation of sin is an indication of an incompleteness of true conversion, then it would follow (generally speaking, of course) that those who make a stronger effort to keep the commandments are more fully converted, right? Which would mean that there are varying degrees of being “saved”. Put another way, how can someone (man #1) who claims to have been born again (saved), but then goes on flagrantly disregarding the commandments of the Lord, recieve the same reward as he (man #2)who has strove his whole life to follow the savior after his conversion, all the while a third person (man #3) strove his whole life (like man #2) to keep the commandments and follow the teachings of the savior, repenting sincerely when he messed up, and trying to put his sins behind him, recieves eternal torment and damnation because he wasn’t accurate in his understanding of the “true nature” of God. Are man #1 and 2# equally rewarded? If not, is man # 2 damned with man # 3, because his conversion wasn’t sincere or complete?

    It is true that many mormons have a problem with the EC view of salvation, for these and other reasons. Because it seems to embrace those who are not sincere and promises them a heavenly reward simply because he professes a belief in the trinity (it is not simple accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior, because Mormons do that to0, but are not “saved” according to ECs), while at the same time excluding (even damning) other sincere believers and followers of Christ simple because they don’t agree completely with their theology. After all, did christ require of all who followed him while alive or his apostled after he died, that they have a clear understanding of His complex relationship both physically and spiritually with the Father and the Holy Spirit? Not that I can find in the Bible. But I digress.

    I know you don’t profess to know the judgements of Christ, as you shouldn’t. But to give you a simpler question to answer (after all my rambling), according to your understanding of EC doctrine, are all ECs saved equally regardless of their varying degrees of sincerity and conversion?

  2. Tim, as a non-Evangelical and a post-Mormon, you sound spot on to me.

    The thing about sin, to me, that’s always infuriating when talking to Mormons (and fundamentalists) is how the list of sins are what are considered the worst.

    Which is worse–two people who aren’t married but are wholly committed to each other and have sex before marriage? Or the person who sees someone asking for money on the side of the road and not only ignores them, but judges them and their circumstances?

    I’d say the latter. From my understanding, Jesus would too. The Book of Mormon, especially, makes that crystal clear.

  3. Until a person has had Jesus’ righteousness ascribed to him or her, it does not matter how sincerely they try to keep the commandments. The Bible is clear. Our righteousness is as filthy rags before God, and no one who is tainted by the slightest amount of sin will be able to enter the presence of God.

  4. Frofreak,

    I would say that, assuming we can know the intentions of their hearts, man #1 was not converted. If he was, he would have sincerely tried to follow Christ.

    Man #2 and #3 are saved.

    I think that just because people claim to be saved doesn’t mean that they truly understand what that word means, or what it entails.

    I believe that Jesus Christ knows our hearts, and knows what our intentions are, and that weighs heavily for or against us in the end. And I honestly don’t think it matters if we believe that God and Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost are one being or three beings–assuming that one worships Christ and tries to emulate Christ’s example on earth.

  5. The most controversial question (from an evangelical perspective) that is implicitly raised here is: what do I have to understand and believe about Christ before I can accept the gift of His atonement and have His righteousness imputed to me?

  6. Tim and all,
    The 80% figure is from a study that was done at the Peachtree Baptist Church in Georgia. Mrs. Maken quoted another study–I can’t remember from where–that indicated a fornication rate of 40-60%. I simply combined the numbers. But, even though these are only two scientific studies, from my own personal experience of having suffered some 16 years of barren, protracted singleness in the Evangelical church, I saw nothing in my own personal experience that would contradict this. So, Tim, why aren’t Evangelicals getting married? I have three words for you that may be the answer, “Gift of Singleness.” The GoS is the major reason why I walked away, it really did a number on me emotionally and spiritually.
    I want to make it clear that I did not start this, and I never said that Evangelicals all said that, “All sins are equal.” I made what I thought was a good post, and, as angry and as bitter as I am toward you Evangelicals, I tried to be fair and true to what I believed in my heart and “back you up” as much as I could. But it wasn’t good enough for somebody, and this person chose to make an issue out of one sentence in that entire post. Like you said, it was so “ludicrous” I had to say something.
    There is more I want to say, but I have a two year old that needs her dinner right now, and I will need to have time to collect my thoughts.

  7. “But it wasn’t good enough for somebody, and this person chose to make an issue out of one sentence in that entire post.”

    Lisa, you’re not being very clear. If you’ve got someone in mind, just say it plain. Because I’m not sure who you are referring to.

    Here on the web, all we have are our words.

  8. are all ECs saved equally regardless of their varying degrees of sincerity and conversion?

    Everyone who is saved is equally saved. It’s a True or False question. Not everyone who claims to be an Evangelical Christian is saved.

    There are varying degrees of rewards for those who are saved.

  9. Lisa, were you told that you can’t or shouldn’t get married and that you SHOULD stay single? I have heard plenty of people say that singleness should be viewed as a gift, just as marriage is. But what you say about your experience seems to imply that you were encouraged never to get married, which is just foreign to me.

    Just for the record, I was single until I was 30 and I lost my virginity on my wedding night. I was not pressured to get married or to stay single. I couldn’t/didn’t find anyone that would have me or that I thought was marriage material until that time.

  10. There is so much I want to say, I hardly know where to begin.
    This idea of “sanctification” sounds really great in theory, but I have a problem with the way you Evangelicals interpret it. This idea that a person has his whole life to “get his act together” can have troublesome implications, as far as I’m concerned. In my opinion, some sins need to be stopped NOW, or the consequences can be disastrous. I will expand on Seth’s example of the Evangelical gambler. This Evangelical with the gambling habit has been intending to quit his habit for the last 10 years. It started out small, he only lost $20. or so on occasion, but since he never faced up to it, things have gotten progressively worse. After this last sermon on the Atonement, he goes off to Vegas and blows $50,000, virtually all the money he and his wife had saved for their son’s college. When his wife learns what he has done, she files for divorce, because for her, this was the last straw. She’s already working two jobs because her husband keeps losing so much money she has to work extra hard to make up for it. She decides she’s better off without him dragging her down. Their teenage daughter is crushed by her parents’ impending divorce and gets involved with the wrong crowd, turning to alcohol and drugs to numb the pain. Their son, while better able to deal with the situation than his younger sister, is so rattled that he makes a “C” in one of his courses, thereby putting him out of contention for the top notch university that he otherwise would have certainly gotten into.
    Sin has horrible consequences, not just for an individual, but for all who love him or her.
    I’m so tired of people throwing bible verses and “correct doctrine” at me, when, all around, peoples lives are being destroyed because of sin and bad choices. Maybe I’m wrong, but it seems to me that the Evangelicals just don’t really seem to care.
    I also believe, from my own personal observation, that the concept of “church discipline” is virtually nonexistent in the Evangelical church. Fornication is the elephant in the Evangelical living room that nobody wants to acknowledge, in my opinion. No doubt that there are people in the LDS church who commit unchastity. However, I would doubt that among the truly devout LDS, that the numbers are that high. I remember reading when I was about 11 or 12, LDS publications on chastity which gave me great encouragement. From what I’ve read of their literature, the LDS encourages its young people to “seek worthy companions” people who will encourage them to do the right thing. They teach their young to flee fornication, and to resist it with all their strength.
    “Our righteousness is as filthy rags.” Now, I’m not going to say that scripture is not true, but this is not a verse that I go around meditating on for good reason. I truly believe that a major reason why Evangelicals cannot perform under pressure is because they have been trained to look upon themselves as losers who can’t do anything right. Don’t get me wrong, I’m NOT arguing with you theologically, I’m not saying that I think salvation is by works. When you’re 30 years old, with no marriage prospects in sight, and a “Christian” guy comes along and wants to have a relationship with you–but only if you’ll have sex with him–if you think to yourself, “Oh, my righteousness is as filthy rags, I’m really lonely, I want to be with someone. I guess God doesn’t really care if I do the right thing or not.” If you allow yourself to think like this—You’re lost!!!
    Now, I do NOT believe that just because I stayed a virgin for 37 years, it means that I deserve to go to Heaven, NO! But, I never could have done it if I’d had the Evangelical mindset! Looking at things through the Evangelical mindset would make me so depressed sometimes. I would go online and read the words of the LDS prophets and teachers, and their teachings would give me hope and strength to hold on and keep going, when I wanted to just give up. It’s like Boyd K. Packer said, “Things we cannot solve, we must survive.” (Ensign, Nov. 1987, p. 18)
    There is one more thing I’d like to say before I close. I fear that I may have given some the impression that I am some cold hearted judgemental person who lacks compassion. I know I have harped on unchastity alot. For the record, nearly all of my girlfriends have committed unchastity, but I never dumped them. As much as I loved them, however, it still doesn’t change the fact that I believe what they did was very wrong. Also for the record, in my mind, lack of compassion is a very bad sin, probably equal to or greater than fornication. My husband and I are currently sponsoring 7 children through the Evangelical Christian charity World Vision. Last year, for our fifth wedding anniversary, instead of getting something for ourselves, we donated money to WV so that my Rwandan child could have a new home built for her and her family to live in. I have also vowed to put my Salvadoran child through medical school (It is not nearly as expensive as med school in the US, but it will require me to sacrifice some things) I’m saving up money to help my Peruvian child, as there has been an earthquake where she lives. I think if you were to ask my seven children, they would take issue with the idea that I was lacking in compassion or judgemental of their circumstances! Well, it’s late, and I have things to do tomorrow. Take care everybody, and God Bless.

  11. Tim, I just read your comment, and will have to get back with you on that one tomorrow. I’ve spent the entire evening after putting my daughter to bed working on my last post, and can’t answer your question right now.

  12. There was nothing you said there that I disagree with except that it’s the “evangelical” mindset to go ahead and sin since our righteousness are like filthy rags. That’s Rasputin, not Billy Graham.

    I absolutely believe that sin has to stop NOW in our lives. I’m as Evangelical in doctrine, practice and pedigree as they come.

    If a friend of yours started sleeping with a sleaze bag because she was getting lonely, she obviously wasn’t trusting God to meet her needs. She actually believe that her will (or her boyfriend’s) was more trustworthy than God’s. If you didn’t call her on the carpet for it, you should have. I wouldn’t let my friends get away with that.

  13. Hey Tim,

    I just re-read your original post and felt the need to comment on something else

    “The only thing that might be reducing the number is the fact that the average LDS gets married probably about 8 years earlier than the average Evangelical. That’s no excuse for the Evangelicals. Hopefully I explained why it is happening”.

    I think this is sloppy reasoning for a couple of reasons.

    1) Which came first, the chicken or the egg? In other words, could it be that one reason LDS feel more compelled to find a spouse sooner is so that they can avoid the pitfalls of struggling to live a chaste life in the hormone ridden 20’s? Could it also be true that one reason ECs might not get married as early is because they are already having sex, so that one (very powerfull) desire is already being met, lessening the sense of urgency. I don’t mean to imply in any way that the overriding consideration for people conteplating marriage is there sex drive. And I commend folks like you who managed to wait until marriage, even when you had to wait until 30. But you have to admit that for those who are already sleeping together, even cohabiting and raising children out of wedlock, that the need to get married can seem almost secondary. Marriage should come first for many reasons. Byt switching up the order, you diminish the sanctity of marriage.

    2) This is assuming that those ECs fornicating are not doing so, by and large, until they are already into their mid 20’s, past the age that the average LDS is already married. In my experience this is simply not the case. If I chose at random 10 LDS friends and 10 EC friends out of my senior class in HS, the percentage of EC having sex would be about twice that of the LDS group. Maybe my EC firends were particularly non-representative of EC at large, or maybe as someone mentioned earlier, what is being taught at the pulpit is really not connecting or registering with those in the pews. And I believe it has something to do with how easily it is to misunderstand how Christ’s grace applies, or of the necessity of being truelly converted in order to partake of it. The grace alone doctrine, like it or not, presents a problem in the lives of people looking for any easy way out. It may be because they don’t fully understand the doctrine, but they use it as a justification nonetheless. I am speaking in the most general of terms, naturally.

  14. Lisa,

    You said, “Fornication is the elephant in the Evangelical living room that nobody wants to acknowledge, in my opinion. No doubt that there are people in the LDS church who commit unchastity. However, I would doubt that among the truly devout LDS, that the numbers are that high. ”

    It sounds like you’re comparing the Evangelicals who clearly don’t believe as strongly as they should with the LDS who do believe as strongly as they should.

    There were quite a few girls in dh’s home ward who got pregnant before they got married (at least 2 that I know of). And there were probably more who were acting in such a way that they COULD get pregnant, but who were lucky enough not to.

    Also, I think it should be mentioned here that there are plenty of people in the US who are not Christians, who are not Evangelicals. I wasn’t raised Christian. Sure, I was having sex before marriage–because nobody told me that I shouldn’t. My mom got me birth control, and when I said that I was going to marry Kullervo and my family found out we were waiting till marriage, they told me to not get married and just have sex anyway.

    So, I think it’s important to point out that the percentage of Christians in this country is probably smaller than we’d think, and the percentage of devout Christians is just a fraction of that!

    And, I still think it’s unfair to compare the active LDS with the people who claim to be Evangelical. There are plenty of Jack Mormons who claim to be LDS, but who are sinning all over the place.

    Lisa, I hope I didn’t make you think that I doubted your compassion. I wasn’t passing judgment on you or anyone here. I apologize if it came out that way.

    But it is a pet peeve of mine when people (and I’ve met these people) walk around condemning everyone for their sins while ignoring some of Jesus’s simplest commandments.

  15. It sounds like you’re comparing the Evangelicals who clearly don’t believe as strongly as they should with the LDS who do believe as strongly as they should.

    I think this is an important point. If we’re going to bring people into the mix that are cohabitating and purposefully having children out of wedlock I think it’s clear we’re not talking about the most sincere Evangelical followers. Let’s compare Mormon apples to Evangelical apples and Mormon oranges to Evangelical oranges.

    The grace alone doctrine, like it or not, presents a problem in the lives of people looking for any easy way out. It may be because they don’t fully understand the doctrine, but they use it as a justification nonetheless.

    If they are looking for an easy way out, they are going to find one no matter what. If their heart is lustful, greedy or hateful they are going to act on it. There are numerous things that I can give you clear biblical prohibitions on that people still justify. The issue doesn’t get more clear than:

    What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?

  16. Tim,
    I think that you are totally unaware of a huge problem, a huge social problem in your own Evangelical world. I cannot recapitulate Debbie Maken’s entire book here. Go to http://www.thegiftofsingleness.blogspot.com and at least read the latest post, “Just wondering…” and the first 8 comments. You can read some of the other postings if you want. I know you are busy, but it shouldn’t take you long to at least read the most recent post. Also, there is a link to Debbie Maken’s website on the “Gift of Singleness” blog, if you are interested.

  17. Tim, one other note. When I talked about the “Evangelical mindset” in my other post, I was talking about the “Gift of Singleness” teaching, which is a view of singleness that has been taught in Evangelical churches for the last 30 or so years.

  18. Oh, Kullervo, this is not just a group of Evangelicals who have gone off the deep end. This is practically the entire Evangelical world. I don’t know where Tim worships, but his Evangelicals sound like the coolest, most mellow Evangelicals in the whole world. I logged on here to tell Tim about one more post. I wish you would read this post, if only this one, because it describes exactly what my life was like as an Evangelical. It’s hard enough on women who are raised as Evangelicals, but they did this to me too, someone who was raised as a devout RLDS, you know how “our” women are. (Or how our respective churches say we should be.) The thing is, I wanted to be what the RLDS church wanted me to be. I didn’t leave the RLDS church because I was mad at the organization, but because I had a born again experience and didn’t believe in Joseph Smith or the Book of Mormon anymore. I wish you would read this. The post is on the Debbie Maken website, which you can access from The Gift of Singleness blog, the link to her sight is on the right, you’ll see it. After you get to Debbie Maken’s website, she has a June 15th post, don’t bother reading it, it’s way too long. Go all the way down to the comments, there are 75, BUT you want to read comment #75, the last one, which, when I access the comments page, is the first one available to read, (you have to scroll up) It’s anonymous at 2:59 am.

  19. Lisa, I’ve heard several “Gift of Singleness” sermons, and NEVER have I heard someone say that anyone should strive to stay single. I’m sorry if you have heard it taught that way. I would strongly disagree if you have. I am going to ask again, can you please answer were you ever told that you should not get married?

    But I don’t know what you think the solution is. I can’t give a lonely women a husband. I can’t force a man to take a wife. I can’t influence women to expect more out of the men they decide to date. What do you think needs to be done about the problem of singleness in the Evangelical church? Do you really think that single 30+ Evangelicals are more frustrated that single 30+ LDS?

    I can imagine that many single men and women might be dissatisfied with the “gift of singleness” answer, but not liking that scripture reference won’t give anyone a spouse. We could cut it completely out of the Bible and not a single additional wedding is going to take place. You might as well be complaining to me that there are married couple in the Evangelical church that want to have a baby but are infertile.

    For those who don’t want to wade through Lisa’s blogging maze here is the comment she wanted me to read:

    Want to be a wife? BISH! You need to learn to be content!
    Concerned about the biological clock? BASH! You must wait on God’s timing, and besides, Sarah gave birth at 90!
    Desire marriage? BOSH! You are making an idol out of marriage!
    Depressed because every bone in your body is crying out to be a helper to a husband? SLAM! You have the gift of singleness, which is equal to marriage, and you’d better learn to be joyful about it, because it is “God’s will” and His perfect plan!
    Drag yourself to work everyday, because you have to earn a living? KICK! It’s your own fault for working hard at school and having the audacity to get a job that uses the talents God has given you! You’re a “Feminist!” (which, by the way, is the same as a devil worshipper.)
    Fed up because yet another Christian man has toyed with your emotions without any intention of commitment? WHACK! He is a Godly man who is just seeking “God’s best”! It’s your own fault for not guarding your heart!
    Feel angry and frustrated about the injustice of what we have done to a generation of Christian women? SLAP! You do not have a gentle, quiet spirit! No wonder you’re not married!

    Thank you Debbie for helping to put this spiritual abuse to an end.

  20. Lisa,

    I’d like to add, if you’re beef with the Evangelical community is that they don’t treat single people very well or that they don’t know what to do with them — I’m on board with you. I’ve been down right disgusted at how some formerly single people respond to their single friends once they get married. There is a lot of sin against single people in Evangelical churches.

    But if you’re saying that the Evangelical church teaches people to stay single, I don’t know where you’re coming from. I have not seen that.

  21. Tim,
    No, I wasn’t told I should “strive” to stay single. BUT, I was told I was an idolator because I wanted to be married. I was told that to be depressed about being single was a sin. I was told that marriage to an “unbeliever” was practically the worst sin in the world, even worse than unchastity (and we all know how I feel about unchastity) I believe that Debbie Maken is right, the need and desire to be married that most women have is a God given thing, it is good. There is a difference between the “circumstantial singleness” that the vast majority of Christian single people suffer from today, and the “Gift of singleness” that the Bible talks about.
    Carolyn McCulley, a GoS supporting author, wrote a book called, “Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye: Trusting God with a Hope Deferred.” I’ve never read it, I would never fill my mind with such trash, BUT, I have read reviews of it, and have read actual quotes taken from it. She tells women that to be even the least bit proactive in their search for a husband is a sin. It is not “trusting God” to “lead” their husband to them in his own time. Even to join a Christian single’s service, and to put yourself in a position where you can meet a single Christian man who wants to get married is wrong. She is only one of many GoS authors who have promoted this view. It’s taught in Evangelical churches all over the country. Why I’m so angry is that there are millions of Evangelical women out there that believed this stuff–and they are my age and still single. The first minute I got the least bit proactive, I found a husband in ten months. However, he is not a born again Evangelical Christian, he is a lifelong United Methodist. He agrees with the Evangelicals in the way that all United Methodists do–that Jesus is his Savior, and that salvation is by grace alone, through faith in Jesus Christ. But in other areas, he has told me that, having read books by several different theologians, he believes that Evangelical Christians are wrong, that they have misinterpreted some Bible passages.
    According to the Barna Research Group, there are between 11-13 million more Born-again women than Born-again men. That is alot of women who will potentially never know the joys and comfort of having a husband and their own children. I wake up every day, and I get to be with my daughter and love her and read to her, and all the things that mothers get to do. Now, I know some of the problem of excess women is NOT the fault of the Evangelical church, but some of it is. There are men who were brought up in Christian homes and have drifted away–why isn’t anyone trying to bring them back? If these men were in church, they could be husbands for some of the women. There are women who have foolishly spent the prime years of their lives worshipping in Evangelical churches with no single men their own age for them to possibly get to know and marry, women who have prayed and prayed, who have been taught by their leaders that God is going to send a husband falling out of the sky for them. These women are now my age and have stopped going to church because they feel that God has turned his back on them–which is wrong. They never should have listened to the Evangelical leaders who told them they shouldn’t be proactive, but they didn’t know any better. Tim, this is not just one or two rogue leaders, this a problem across the entire Evangelical church.
    Solutions? Well, I think Evangelical pastors should start counseling single women that it is ok to get proactive if they want to get married. It is ok to join Christian single’s services and things like that, to put yourself in a position where a single Christian man who wants to get married can find you. Also, are you really going to keep insisting that only “born again” people are true Christians? A little more flexibility would allow many more single Evangelical Christian women to find husbands. Otherwise, millions will be forced to remain unmarried. If you are not willing to be flexible, then the Evangelical Church must be way more loving and accepting of older Christian single women, because the Evangelical church will be the only “family” they will ever know. To me, it is a HUGE ABOMINATION before the Lord, far, far, worse than the rampant unchastity, that the Evangelical church has helped (It’s not totally your fault, but you have helped) to create an impossible situation for single Evangelical women–either live without the love and comfort of a husband and children–or marry an unbeliever–and then be condemned as idolators or worse because you simply wanted to be loved. Then, when they “do the right thing” in your view, and sacrifice having a husband and family, they are treated as second class citizens for the rest of their lives because they are single. I feel so bad for these women.
    I know many of you post Mormons on here maybe don’t like those old, mostly white men in Salt Lake City. However, every day, when I hug and kiss my daughter, I will always think of them, and be grateful to them, for their common sense and encouragement saved my life, as far as I’m concerned. When I was at my darkest times, I would read the LDS proclamation on the family and focus on the words: “Marriage is ordained of God.” “The family is ordained of God.” It gave me hope to keep going.
    Finally, as an RLDS, the concept that God would actually “will” someone to be single is something that is unheard of. It is unthinkable. Lifelong permanent singleness without any children is a tragedy, not a “gift.” And I always thought so, and I always will, and I could be born again a million times and it would never change. So then I guess you will say I’ve not been truly born again, huh? But this is something that you Evangelicals believe about singleness that is abhorrent to me. So many of the things you believe are really offensive to me, but I put up with it for so many years because I believed I was following Jesus, I believed I had to be a born again Evangelical if I wanted to follow Jesus.
    PS. About your question on whether or not 30+ single LDS are more frustrated than 30+ single Evangelicals. Probably the LDS singles feel worse, but I don’t know. But what makes me so mad is, the LDS aren’t going around calling the Evangelicals a “Cult” they have special singles wards made up of entirely single people, they at least try to marry off their young. And they don’t go around saying that, “Singleness is a “Gift.”

  22. Carolyn McCulley, a GoS supporting author, wrote a book called, “Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye: Trusting God with a Hope Deferred.” I’ve never read it, I would never fill my mind with such trash, BUT, I have read reviews of it, and have read actual quotes taken from it. She tells women that to be even the least bit proactive in their search for a husband is a sin. It is not “trusting God” to “lead” their husband to them in his own time. Even to join a Christian single’s service, and to put yourself in a position where you can meet a single Christian man who wants to get married is wrong.

    I’ve never heard of her and I flat out disagree with her. That’s fatalism not Christianity. I have met many Christians who are fatalistic and I oppose them when I encounter them. If you were in one of their churches, then the right thing to do was to leave and go somewhere that is teaching truth.

    Also, are you really going to keep insisting that only “born again” people are true Christians? A little more flexibility would allow many more single Evangelical Christian women to find husbands.

    I don’t think it’s at all unreasonable to suggest that people find spouses who they are spiritually compatible with. That’s just wisdom. If someone wants to marry someone with differing beliefs than their own, that’s their business but I wouldn’t recommend it regardless if they are Christian, Buddhist or Muslim.

    Probably the LDS singles feel worse, but I don’t know. But what makes me so mad is, the LDS aren’t going around calling the Evangelicals a “Cult” they have special singles wards made up of entirely single people, they at least try to marry off their young. And they don’t go around saying that, “Singleness is a “Gift.”

    Since we are talking about extremes I’ll share an example of how abhorrent singleness is in the LDS church. I have a ex-Mormon friend who was still single in her late 30’s. This distressed the people in her ward so much, they suggested that she get sealed to a man with Down’s Syndrome. That way she at least wouldn’t die single. Do you think that’s appropriate? Isn’t it possible to over-emphasize the joy of marriage?

  23. Do I think it’s possible to overemphasize the joy of marriage? That’s really not a fair question to ask a mother who is madly in love every day with the two year old daughter she never thought she’d have! Well, I know that I would never want to go back to being a single Evangelical again. I’m so glad I did what I did. I think that God really did answer my prayers, and he even gave me a daughter when I thought I was too old to have children.
    Also, you have to remember, Tim, that I am an RLDS, not an LDS. In some ways, I can really, really, identify with the LDS. But when you start talking about celestial marriage and temple sealings and things like that–I’m as befuddled as any other Protestant would be. RLDS believe in the Trinity, and we are more like Protestants in that respect. We don’t believe in Celestial marriage or Eternal Progression. The idea of marrying and having children in the afterlife is as foreign to me as it is to you. If she was unhappy with the attitude of the people around her, she was right to leave. I definitely think that it is probably much harder to be single in the LDS church, because you can’t be exalted unless you’re married, at least according to my understanding of it. At least single Christians know they’re going to Heaven. However, single LDS who are sealed to people know that in the afterlife, they will get to experience marriage and motherhood, which is a hope that is forever denied to permanently single Evangelical women. Some women really do have a strong desire and ache to be mothers and have families, Tim, and it doesn’t mean they don’t love Jesus.

  24. Tim, sometimes I wonder if we are talking about the same Evangelical world. You have heard of R. Albert Mohler haven’t you? He endorsed Debbie Maken’s book, and often posts on his blog about the need for Evangelical singles to prioritize marriage and family more. When I was breastfeeding my daughter, I would often listen to his show. You just seem to be living in a different world than I experienced.

  25. You have heard of R. Albert Mohler haven’t you?

    Never heard of him.

    and I’m very much aware that many women want to be married and have children. I don’t in any way think those desires are wrong or sinful.

    I think it’s actually rather appropriate that you married someone who is United Methodist. CofC and United Methodism are very very similar.

  26. Tim,

    Did that really happen, suggesting that she marry a Down’s syndrome man? Wow! That is definitely not a typical attitude of any ward I’ve ever been in, and it is rather appalling to hear that happening.

    Lisa,

    You are right that it is necessary to be married to attain the highest level of the celestial kingdom. But single people can attain exaltation (celestial kingdom) just as surely as any married person can. It is true that there roles in said kingdom will differ, but that is for another topic. The good news is that just like with baptism, endowements, and other ordinances we deep to be “saving” ordinances, or those required for exaltation, marriage can occur after this life, according to LDS doctrine. I do not know exactly how this would work, but suffice it to say that those who sought diligently in this life to find a spouse but were unsuccessful, they will be given a chance in the hereafter, and that no desperation marriages to people with Down’s syndrome are necessary. Which is one reason why Tims anecdote was so suprising to me. This doesn’t remove the depression or pain felt in this life by someone who desperately desires a spouse but is unsuccessful. I have no good answer for that one (not that anyone expects me too ;))

  27. Tim, just for your information, R. Albert Mohler is the President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. I liked listening to him after my daughter was born for awhile, because he was very biblical, but also very compassionate.

  28. “So why do Evangelicals go on sinning? I’d venture to guess for the same reason LDS go on sinning. Because they haven’t fully converted.”

    How about because we’re human and regardless of how christ-like we can ever become on earth; we’re always going to be sinners no matter what.

    That is the beauty of God’s gift of grace, we know better and strive so hard but even the best will fall and that’s where he’s there to help pick us up and say ‘it’s ok to screw up’. You are who you are.

  29. Wow have I missed a few days of interesting posts! To defend myself–I said in another post exactly what Tim said in this original post and have apparently totally been taken down a peg or two because of it!

    “To say that all sin is equal is ludicous.” What I said several days ago in another post was that to God a sin is a sin is a sin–only man creates a hierarchy. But what I ALSO said was that all sin is equal to God, the CONSEQUENCES of the sins vary–I used the exact same examples that Tim cited–the consequences to speeding are going to be HUGELY different than if you go out and kill someone. But both separate us from the love of God. Tim brought up the subject of lust and adultery, but Paul says that if a man has lust in his heart, he is guilty of committing adultery. To God, you HAVE committed adultery. Yes, the consequences are going to be vastly different between lusting after someone and actually going out and committing the deed, but both separate us from God. Are you suggesting that one separates us from God MORE than the other? As Tim said, any and every sin separates us from God . It is not ludicrous to say that all sin is equal. Tim, you said yourself that all sin equally removes us from God. Consequences and degree of sin is not the same thing.

    I never said that hey, being a Born Again Christian is ‘carte blanche’ for going out and doing whatever the heck you want! I was simply trying to explain what we believe about Grace.

    Also, it is naive, I think, to say that the reason that people continue sinning is because they haven’t fully given themselves over or converted to their faiths/doctrines/etc. We continue sinning because we are human and we’re sinful! We have NO choice in that matter. We can certainly strive NOT to sin, but we will and do sin. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans) In I John where it says that whoever is born of God does not sin–that doesn’t mean that we literally don’t sin anymore because we’ve become Christians; it means that because we’ve accepted Christ, our sin no longer condemns us to death. Without Christ, we all deserve death; with Christ, we have been given the GIFT of eternal life.

    Lisa, I don’t understand why you are so angry–at everyone. Anger and judgment are sins, too. You are so critical of Evangelicals as a whole, not even allowing for the fact that all Evangelicals aren’t the same. This whole blog makes such a point of being respectful to everyone and debating issues in a caring and loving manner; but everything about every post that you write is just seething with anger. I don’t know how you’ve been hurt in the past, but that doesn’t give you the right to be so disrespectfully critical of everyone else.

    Btw, being the parent of a 13-year old daughter with Down Syndrome, I am appalled.

  30. Aidan, I think there is a good scriptural case to be made that any sin, no matter how slight, estranges us from God. I also understand that God “cannot look upon sin with the slightest degree of allowance.”

    But I don’t think there is any need to assert that God has no “hierarchy” of sins. I definitely think God does distinguish between checking personal emails at work and committing rape and murder. I think you are over-generalizing in the name of creating a teaching moment about the doctrine of Grace. There’s no need for this. I don’t we need to classify borrowing my friend’s power drill for longer than I need it as being on the same abstract level as murder in order to get me to take my personal failings seriously.

    I think you are theologically overreaching here. I also think the view of sin and grace you are outlining here, while comforting, runs a very real risk of causing complacency.

  31. Aidan,
    I’m really sorry that you do not understand why I’m angry. Look, I’ll give you a clue, it’s really not about the “fornication” thing at all. If you still can’t understand after reading my post the other day, then you probably never will. Actually, I feel alot better now that I explained the situation the other day. I got it off my chest. This “Gift of Singleness” teaching almost destroyed my life, it is not a biblical teaching, there are Evangelicals coming out now saying it, and these Evangelicals have been endorsed by the President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary–a very famous Evangelical–himself. There are so many women out there my age who will never, ever know the joy of being a mother–because they were foolish enough to try and follow this teaching, this false interpretation of scripture. I’m not going to argue with you anymore, because I don’t really care what you believe. Nothing I say will change your mind, and nothing you say will EVER change my mind. I may not participate in this blog much longer, I may be joining the Romney campaign soon, I’ve been in touch with campaign officials. My daughter and I actually saw Gov. Romney the other week, he came to our state on a campaign stop. Perfect hair as usual. While I am limited in what I can do for the campaign because of my daughter, I will do everything I can. Again, I’m very sorry that you do not seem to feel any compassion for what I’ve been through, and what thousands of other still single women are going through in the Evangelical world. Tim, I think you should take my comments off the “About” page. They really don’t have anything to do with the subject, and one rant by me is enough. I really do feel better lately though. Seth R. Thank you for what you said about my being “raised a Mormon” you don’t know how happy that made me feel. Katyjane, I concede to you on all your points above, and I’m sorry we got off to a bad start on another thread. I wish you and Kullervo all the best, and I think that if you stick with the Mainline churches–you’ll be fine. God Bless you both, always! You too, Seth R. God Bless you and your family too! And Tim, God Bless you, too.

  32. Seth,

    I totally agree with what you said in #35.

    I would even take it a step farther and say that we Evangelicals are some times too quick to say “we can’t stop sinning” so we don’t give as much effort to the matter as we should.

    I actually think that with the power of the Holy Spirit we CAN stop sinning. It’s not an easy thing to do in the least. But Jesus tried to show us the life that we have the power to live. He just happened to be the only who successfully did it throughout his whole life.

    Aidan, check out the book “The Divine Conspiracy”

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