This is an excerpt from:
DOES MAN INHERIT A SINFUL NATURE?
A Scriptural Discourse on the Human Constitution
By Jesse Morrell
To Order: Click Here
Sex Is A Sin –
The Historic & Orthodox Doctrine of Original Sin stated by Augustine!
Refuted By Jesse Morrell
Our flesh has its proper God-given place, but we must choose to control it and use it the way God intended. Since the devil will tempt us to gratify the natural desires of our flesh in an unnatural and unlawful way, we must choose to keep our body under subjection (1 Cor. 9:27), and choose to deny ourselves (Lk. 9:23). As Paul said, “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh” (Gal. 5:17). Our flesh wants us to be self-indulgent and practice self-gratification, but the Spirit tells us to practice self- control and self-denial, choosing to put our flesh in its proper place and make a legitimate use of it. Our flesh has its proper function and its desires have a natural and lawful way of being gratified. But sin is to misuse our flesh and gratify its desires unnaturally and unlawfully outside of its intended purpose and legitimate boundaries.
Michael Pearl said, “The root of all sin is founded in runaway indulgence of God-given desires… Drives which are not in themselves evil, nonetheless, form the seedbed on which sin will assuredly grow… As the body of flesh was the medium of Eve’s sin and of Christ’s temptation, so it is the implement of your child’s development into selfishness – which, at maturity, will constitute sinfulness.”83
Rev. E. W. Cook explained the difference between the occasion of sin and the cause of sin. He said, “the occasion of gluttony is the natural appetite for food; but because that between this occasion and the gluttony there come in the free moral, and responsible being, under obligation to keep all his inclinations in due subordination to the higher dictates of reason and judgment therefore does he himself become the efficient cause of the sinful gluttony. For the occasion he is in no way responsible, while he shoulders the entire burden of responsibility for the sinful gluttony.”84
Charles Finney said, “All the constitutional appetites and propensities of body and mind, are in themselves innocent; but when strongly excited are a powerful temptation to prohibited indulgence. To these constitutional appetites or propensities, so many appeals of temptation are made, as universally to lead human beings to sin. Adam was created in the perfection of manhood, certainly not with a sinful nature, and yet, an appeal to his innocent constitutional appetites led him into sin.”85
He also said, “The bodily appetites and tendencies of body and mind, when strongly excited, become the occasions of sin. So it was with Adam. No one will say that Adam had a sinful nature. But he had, by his constitution, an appetite for food and a desire for knowledge. These were not sinful but were as God made them. They were necessary to fit him to live in this world as a subject of God’s moral government. But being strongly excited led to indulgence, and thus became the occasions of his sinning against God. These tendencies were innocent in themselves, but he yielded to them in a sinful manner, and that was his sin.”86
Sin is an illegitimate use of our body and mind. Sin is an illegitimate gratification of a legitimate desire. An example would be our sexual desires. The attraction between the sexes is a “natural attraction.” It is normal and natural and is not in and of itself wrong. God created our nature and He gave us our sex drive. These desires are God given. He programmed them in us and designed us to have them. And everything God creates is good (Gen. 1:31).
Paris Reidhead said, “When God made us He gave us many different appetites… But God looked at the being He made and to whom He had given all these appetites and urges and said, ‘It is good!’”87
God intended for man to populate the world and He designed us in such a way as to make that possible. God told Adam and Eve to “be fruitful and multiple” (Gen. 1:22, 28). Sex, its physical passions, was God’s idea and creation. God designed our human bodies for the physical union between a male and a female. Sexual desire is natural and normal and is part of God’s intelligent design, as the devil certainly did not design our bodies!
Augustinianism, in accordance with Gnosticism, believed that our flesh is sinful. More specifically, Augustinianism says that the physical passion or the “concupiscence” of the flesh is a curse of the original sin of Adam, that all physical passion in sex is sinful, that all are born sinful on account of being born out of that physical passion, and that all are born sinful because they involuntarily inherit physical passion. This theology says that God punished all of mankind, on account of Adam’s sin, with sin – the sin of sexual desire.88
Augustine said, “Sensual lust belongs to the nature of brutes; but is a punishment in man.”89 He said sexual desire was “a disease— a wound inflicted on nature through the treacherous counsel given by the devil—a vice of nature—a deformity—an evil that comes from the depravity of our nature which is vitiated by sin.”90 He taught that no man was born sinless, because, “No man is now born without concupiscence.”91 He said that “all descending from his [Adam’s] stock” are ‘infected… with the occult disease of his carnal concupiscence,”92 and that, “The guilt of concupiscence is forgiven through [infant] baptism.”93 On the other hand, Augustine taught that Christ alone was born sinless because Christ alone was born without sex and the desires involved, being born of a virgin.94 He said, “the virgin conceived without that sensual passion; on which account, he [Jesus] alone was born without sin, when he condescended to be born in the flesh.”95
Augustine was rightly accused by Julian of Eclanum of teaching, “sexual impulse and the intercourse of married people were devised by the devil, and that therefore those who are born innocent are guilty, and that it is the work of the devil, not of God, that they are born of this diabolical intercourse. And this, without any ambiguity, is Manichaeism.”96
Albert Henry Newman said, “Augustine, the greatest of the Latin Fathers, was for many years connected with the Manichaeans and his modes of thought were greatly affected by this experience.”97
Harnack said, “We have, finally, in Augustine’s doctrine of sin a strong Manichaean and Gnostic element; for Augustine never wholly surmounted Manichaeism.”98
Dennis Carroll said, “Manichaeans also taught that sexual intercourse was satanic. Augustine taught that through sexual intercourse we pass on evil or sinfulness to our children. So I see these significant parallels between these two systems.”99
Harnack said, “The most remarkable feature in the sexual sphere was, in his [Augustine] view, the involuntariness of the impulse. But instead of inferring that it could not therefore be sinful – and this should have been the inference in keeping with the principle ‘omne peccatum ex voluntate” – he rather concludes that there is a sin which belongs to nature, namely, to natural vitiate, and not to the sphere of the will. He accordingly perceives a sin rooted in nature, of course in the form which it has assumed, a sin that propagates itself with our nature. It would be easy now to prove that in thinking of inherited sin, he always has chiefly in view this very sin, the lust of procreation.”100
Harnack said, “…and Augustine imagined paradisiacal marriages in which children were begotten without lust, or, as Julian says jestingly, were to be shaken from the trees. All that he here maintains had been long ago held by Marcion and the Gnostics. One would have, in fact, to be a very rough being not to be able, and that without Manichaeism, to sympathize with his feeling. But to yield to it as far as Augustine did, without rejecting marriage in consequence, could only happen at a time when doctrines were as confused as in the fifth century.”101
Alfred T. Overstreet said, “Augustine’s doctrine of sin, with his belief in the inherent sinfulness of the physical constitution, is wholly Manichaean. His idea that sin is propagated through the marriage union, that sexual desire is sin and that sexual lust in procreation transmits sin is also Manichaean. Augustine built his doctrine of original sin upon this premise – that sexual lust in procreation transmits sin.”102
Julian of Eclanum refuted this error of Gnosticism in Augustine’s theology by saying, “the sexual impulse—that is, that the virility itself, without which there can be no intercourse—is ordained by God.”103
While Adam and Eve realized that they were naked after they sinned and their eyes were opened (Gen. 3:7), this does not mean as Augustine thought, that they did not have any physical or sexual attraction one for another before they sinned. It simply means that in their former state ignorance, their nakedness did not have any moral connotations like it did now (Gen. 2:25). With their eyes opened, they had moral principles developed in their minds which were not previously there, thus they felt it necessary to cover their bodies, not because they did not previously have physical attractions or passions, but because they did not previously view these attractions and passions in any moral light.
Adam and Eve were physically designed for each other at their creation and were intended to multiply themselves through physical intercourse before they sinned (Gen. 1:22, 28). It is self- evident that God actually designed the bodies of men and women for each other. Physical attraction is by God’s design and is therefore not sinful in and of itself. If a man and a woman commit themselves to each other through marriage, and engage in a normal sexual relationship with each other within that marriage, they are naturally and lawfully satisfying or fulfilling their God given desires. As the Bible says, “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge” (Heb. 13:4).
A person is not “born a sinner” because of sexual desire, as sexual desire does not develop until puberty. Sexual desire is not a sinful nature or a perverted desire that we are born with. Sexual desire is not a hereditary original sin. Natural attraction is a normal state of the flesh and is not itself sinful. But lust in the sinful sense is a state of the will. It is a sin to intentionally look at a women, whom you are not married to, lustfully (Matt. 5:28). But there is no sin in marital sex or in the fleshly passions which are involved, so long as these desires are fulfilled lawfully and naturally. Sin is not the choice to gratify some type of sinful nature, but sin, like sexual immorality, is choosing to fulfill natural desires in an unnatural and unlawful way.
Lust or concupiscence, in the sinful sense, is the deliberate desire to gratify a natural appetite in an unlawful way. The natural desire itself is not sinful, as it was given by God and is involuntary, but the deliberate desire to gratify it unlawfully is sin. When the Bible talks of concupiscence or lust, in the sinful sense, is not referencing mere desire but “desire for what is forbidden.”104 This is what is meant when the Bible says, “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry” (Col. 3:5). And, “That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour; Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God” (1 Thes. 4:4-5). Notice that it classifies “evil concupiscence” and “the lust of concupiscence” and not mere desire itself. It is only evil or forbidden desire that is sinful. It is the desire of the will to gratify a desire of our nature through the means of sin which is sinful, and not necessarily the desire of our nature itself which is sinful.
I once called into a Calvinist radio show that was promoting the hereditary sinfulness of babies. The topic of the show was original sin, total depravity, and sinful nature. I asked the host, “Is human nature sinful?” He said, “Yes.” I asked, “Is homosexuality a sin?” He said, “Yes.” I asked, “Is homosexuality human nature?” He said, “No!” I then asked, “How can there be a sin which is contrary to our sinful nature?” He was silent. He didn’t know how to answer that question. If human nature is sinful, and homosexuality is a sin, how can homosexuality be against human nature? A sin which is against a sinful nature? This doesn’t make any sense.
The truth is that when a person engages in any form of sexual immorality, such as fornication, homosexuality, sodomy, pedophilia, or bestiality, they are choosing contrary to God’s intention for his creation and contrary to the design of our constitution. These sins are against our nature because they are contrary to our design, even after the original sin of Adam. Adam’s sin did not make these perversions natural to us. Sexual perversions are not the “natural use” of the body (Rom. 1:26-27). They are a perversion of our design. Through these sins men are trying to satisfy or fulfill their God given sexual desires in an unnatural, unlawful, and selfish manner. The Bible speaks of the wicked as being forward or perverse (Prov. 2:14), which means that they are not natural. The sexual desires of our body, like other desires of our flesh, are capable of being perverted and corrupted so that we can develop unnatural desires by our own choice to abuse the natural desires we started off with.
John Gill commented on Romans 1:26 which said “changed the natural use into that which is against nature” and he said they did this “by making use of such ways and methods with themselves, or other women, to gratify their lusts, which were never designed by nature for such a use.”105
Pelagius said, “For their women changed their natural relations into relations which are against nature. Those who turned against God turned everything on its head: for those who forsook the author of nature also could not keep to the order of nature.”106
The Bible says that fornication is a sin against our body (1 Cor. 6:18), that homosexuality is against nature or against the natural use of the body (Rom. 1:26-27) and that sodomy is an abuse of our flesh (1 Cor. 6:9). Men are not fornicators or homosexuals by birth or by design. Men are sinners by choice. Our will is free to choose to gratify our flesh lawfully or unlawfully, naturally or unnaturally. The natural desires of our flesh become the occasions of sin.
83 To Train Up A Child, No Greater Joy, p. 15-20
84 The Origin of Sin, Published by Men for Missions, p. 2
85 Sermons on Important Subjects, Published by John S. Taylor, 1836 Edition, p. 157-158
86 You Can Be Holy, Published by Whitaker House, p. 215
87 Finding the Reality of God, p. 85
88 This is also a Lutheran theological view, as Luther learned much of his theology from studying the teachings of Augustine. Luther taught that concupiscence or the physical inclination or temptation to sin is sin itself. Lutheranism teaches that “original sin is concupiscence” or “the constant inclination of the nature” and, “the entire person with its entire nature is born in sin as with a hereditary disease.” (Apology of the Augsburg Confession 2.38-41). Like Augustine, Lutherans view sin as a hereditary disease of nature instead of exclusively a crime or a personal choice of the will. A crime relates to law and choice and can be justly punished, but a hereditary disease is an unfortunate calamity and only an unreasonable and unjust person would blame and punish someone for inheriting a disease.
89 Historical Presentation of Augustinianism and Pelagianism, Published by BRCCD, p. 110
90 Ibid. p. 110
91 Ibid. p. 110
92 De. Pec. Mer. I.
93 De Nupt. et Conc. I. 26
94 Augustine’s negative views on sex seems to stem from his extremely sensual life prior to conversion, his time in the Manichean sect, and his struggles with sexual desire after taking a vow of celibacy. Augustine had a son out of wedlock, named Adeodatus, with his concubine. Augustine even said that prostitution was necessary for society. “If you expel prostitution from society you will unsettle everything on account of lusts” (Richards, 118). Thomas Raush, Chair of Theological Studies, Loyola Marymount University said, “It’s regrettable that St. Augustine’s influence and the negative appraisal of sexuality, based on his own struggles to be chaste, has so impacted negatively with Christian tradition.”
95 De Nuptiis et Concupiscentia
96 Letter to Rome.
97 Manuel of Church History, Vol. I, p. 197
98 History of Dogma, Vol V. Russel & Russel, New York, 1958, p. 102
99 Interview for the film Beyond Augustine, produced by Inlight Productions
100 History of Dogma, Vol V. Russel & Russel, New York, 1958, p. 197
101 History of Dogma, Vol V. Russel & Russel, New York, 1958, p. 212 102 Are Men Born Sinners, The Myth of Original Sin, Evangel Books Publishing Company, Long Beach California, p. 37
103 Letter to Rome.
104 Thayer’s definition of “epithumia.”
105 John Gill’s commentary on Romans 1:26
106 Pelagius’s commentary on Romans 1:26
This is an excerpt from:
DOES MAN INHERIT A SINFUL NATURE?
A Scriptural Discourse on the Human Constitution
By Jesse Morrell
To Order: Click Here