What Does Chastisement Look Like?

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From Romans:

chastisement18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of those who by their wickedness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse; 21 for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools; 23 and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles.

24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

26 For this reason God gave them up to degrading passions. Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, 27 and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error.

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind and to things that should not be done. 29 They were filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters,[f] insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious toward parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 They know God’s decree, that those who practice such things deserve to die—yet they not only do them but even applaud others who practice them.

 

Reading this gives an interesting view of Chastisement.

I think our tendency in reading this is to focus on verses 26-32 and think about these things in terms of the target of God’s unhappiness with us – as the source of God’s wrath.   And certainly, these actions are noted as sinful and depraved so there is some element of truth to that.

Often enough, we see lamentations of the world around us – its immodesty and impurity, the continued degradation of social norms that were previously founded on Christian principles, but are now redefined by secular humanism, relativism, and liberal progressivism.   We view all these things and think that, surely, chastisement cannot be far behind.

What we are missing, I think, is that these things are chastisement.

Reading above, the real sin that brought on chastisement is:

  • those who by their wickedness suppress the truth.
  • for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him
  • they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened.
  • Claiming to be wise, they became fools; 23 and they exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling a mortal human being or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles.

 

OK, so the last bullet point is a bit archaic, but the modern equivalence of it is money, self, and power.    It is also anything we spend our time on that detracts us from God and the responsibilities He has given us.   To some extent, we are all likely guilty of that.

A spiritual social decay does not start with sexual perversion or confusion.   It starts with a much more subtle turning from God.   It first starts by moving God out of the public square.   By discouraging prayer.   By being ungrateful.   By considering your own personal needs before the needs of others.   By greed.   By turning Sunday into a day spent on yourself with maybe some little sliver of time for God, or maybe not.

At some point, the relationship with God changes, but this change is a disaffection of the real valid relationship that we should have and becomes something of a fantasy.   When this becomes our own pervasive reality, we’ve lost our way.

Pretty soon, this whole thing morphs into either an unbelief, or some weird belief that what we do doesn’t really matter because God loves us and that’s that.   Our own “wisdom” in assessing our relationship with God is borne of just that – our own wisdom – and is not a reflection of the reality of what Scripture has to say, what the Church teaches is true, or from any study of the wisest of Saints that went before us.   We decide that God is Who we want Him to be.

This is the real sin that separates us and invites chastisement.   The question is, what does chastisement look like?

24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the degrading of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

Notice that in Romans 1, we don’t get into the sins of impurity until after the “Therefore.”    The chastisement God sends us is not typically fire and brimstone.   It is ourselves apart from God.   Until this time, Paul seems to be saying that God recognizes that we are weak and protects us against ourselves.   He knows what brings us emptiness, heartbreak, desolation, and loneliness.   He doesn’t want that for us.   So He helps us, blesses us, gives us the grace to deal with many of life’s temptations and disorders.   He loves us.

But when we do not recognize any of this, and we are ungrateful for it, this is a sin against the very goodness of God Himself.   When we decide that God can be secondary in our lives, we are not loving God back.   The more and more we send God the message that we really don’t care that He is an instrumental part of our lives and culture, the more likely He will be to eventually give us what we desire – as stupid as that desire may be.

Paul writes that “God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts.”   Paul does not say that God imposed those lusts.   God basically said – OK, you want to do things without me, then go ahead.

One of the first evidences of this abandonment of God to ourselves is homosexual activity.   We too often fall into the trap of judging those who are imposing the acceptance of the homosexual agenda as a major root of the problem in this country.    In reality, this is a fruit of the problems that led God to removing His blessings from us in the first place.  But accepting sexual impurity outside of marriage became the norm well before homosexuality became the social revolution of our time.   The latter does not happen without the former preceding it, so it’s hardly the case that we can start hurling stones only with the advent of the gay marriage agenda.   No, the sexual revolution led to weaker families, fewer children, abortion on demand, and the beginning of the end of a healthy and functioning society.  Having made that bed, God turned us over and gave us the direct evidence of His handing us over to ourselves with the acceptance and celebration of homosexuality.   To blame gays for chastisement without recognizing the sinfulness that brought is to the point of accepting it is like blaming the sinking of the boat on the last gallon of water that bubbled up through the hole in the side.

But it doesn’t end there.

They were filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, craftiness, they are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters,[f] insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious toward parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 They know God’s decree, that those who practice such things deserve to die—yet they not only do them but even applaud others who practice them.

The push for acceptance of the gay lifestyle started in earnest less than two decades ago.   We went from most people believing that marriage should be between a man and a woman to the Supreme Court signing off on it as law of the land.   We put our stamp of approval on this “progress” when we voted for Barack Obama the second time after this agenda became perfectly clear.    Shortly thereafter, the rest of society followed with basically that entire list.

And note the last line:  “they not only do them but even applaud others who practice them.”   Think of the way Christians are now considered bigoted for their beliefs, and how “courageous” the practitioners of different sins are.   We openly encourage gay marriage as a good thing, and even a Godly thing.   Those who are against abortion are labeled as haters of women, while those who support abortion are considered to be on the higher moral plane.  Having only one or two children is considered more moral than welcoming a larger family – I’ve actually been called “selfish” for daring to have nine children.

No, I hate to say it, but Chastisement is not on its way.  It’s been unfolding before us for some time.   And the unfortunate result is that God will not step in and save us until we ask Him to do it.    And while it may be true that many among us are asking, if the country as a whole continues to act in defiance of Him by the way we act and the people we elect to serve as the example of what we stand for, then God will continue to allow us to live under our own “wisdom.”  And do any of us see a sudden welcoming of God back into our lives on a collective basis?   We can pray and hope for a miracle, but as of this point there is no such indication.

How bad will things need to get before we come to our collective senses?   Unfortunately, there is every likelihood that we are about to find out.

 

 

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