March 31, 2014

You Are Planning to Do What?

I am not surprised when sinners sin. I don’t expect people who are apart from Christ to act as if they were united in love to Him, people who are ignorant of spiritual realities to be wise, or people who are slaves to sin to freely pursue righteousness. 

It’s really no surprise at all when the woman in Aisle 9 yells at her kids and the college students next door throw a drunken party. It would be remarkable if they did otherwise.

Having been dead myself, I can recognize that pitiful condition when I see it. And I don’t berate a corpse for failing to look lively.

But, every so often, someone I know slightly—neighbor, co-worker, fellow grocery-store-shopper, mom at the playground—actually asks me to cheer for their plans to sin.

“Guess what? I’m getting an apartment with my boyfriend next week!”

“My husband and I just aren’t compatible anymore, and I’m filing for divorce. I’m excited to get on with my life!”

“My same-sex partner and I are getting married!”

It’s obvious the person is looking for congratulations. But I can’t do that.

When such statements come from Christian brothers and sisters—those with whom I share professed life in Christ—I can, and should, rebuke them in love. But for others—people whose spiritual condition I may not even know—it’s more difficult to know how to respond.

I will not lie. I will not encourage sin. I will not ignore our shared need for Christ.

When asked to applaud the sinful plans of casual acquaintances, my standard response is: “Wow. Why?”

“Wow.” I am not surprised that sinful people act like sinners. But I am rightly taken aback—genuinely puzzled—when someone expresses their intention to run headlong toward misery. 

Whether the issue is same-sex “marriage,” or abortion, or unbiblical divorce, or drunkenness, or failure to attend corporate worship, I know how the world was created to work, and I know that the path chosen by this person does not lead to happiness and peace.

So, I say “wow” or “hmmm” or “oh.” Maybe I simply have a look of concern on my face. In a fallen world, all kinds of foolishness pass for wisdom. And it is right that the gut reaction of the redeemed when faced with intent to sin should be skepticism. Wow.

And “Why?” Outward actions are inevitably motivated by an inward condition. Asking “why?” or “I’d love to hear how you came to this decision” gives the other person the benefit of assuming they have done some thinking. “Why?” affirms that every person has a “why”—whether they know it or not.

And the answer to “why?” is where a heart-discussion can begin.

“It just feels right.”

“My therapist suggested it, actually.”

"I've really thought about it, and I read some very helpful books."

“I don’t know what else I can do.”

And that is where the Triune God and his all-sufficient Word can come in. That’s the open door to introduce Jesus, the friend for sinners. Not just to fix this one sin, but to fix all of them. Not just to correct one rebellion, but to replace all rebellions with His obedience. Not just to make messed up people nice, but to make dead people alive.


  1. Thank you for this, Megan! I appreciate your wisdom in this area. I often feel at a loss to know how to respond in the kind of conversations you mentioned -- thanks for the help!

  2. Thanks for the advice on this one. I'll feel less awkward next time something like this comes up.

  3. When "sinners sin"? Excuse me, did I just read that? We are all sinners. Why are setting yourself apart?


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