Archive for November, 2021

A Shelter in the Time of Storm: Meditations on God and Trouble Paul David Tripp cover image (1018202488879)

One of the books I’m reading on vacation is A Shelter in the Time of Storm by Paul Tripp. I will confess that I cannot stop reading, but I’m reading books geared to address my spiritual condition during this vacation. It isn’t deep theology but practical theology.

In this particular book, Tripp is providing a series of meditations on Psalm 27 which is one of my favorite Psalms. In the portion I read today he referred to:

One thing have I asked of the Lord,
    that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
    all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
    and to inquire in his temple.

He spoke about sight, or the lack of it, through his friend George. George is physically blind. It shapes his entire life, and he has to compensate for this reality. One way he compensates is by recognizing his limitations (as the philosopher Harry Callahan said, “A man’s got to know his limitations.”). Another way he compensates is to ask others to help in light of those limitations.

Tripp uses this to address the reality of our spiritual blindness. He overstates the case, for the Christian. I’m no longer spiritually blind due to regeneration, but my spiritual eyesight is not perfect.

All my life my father has worn glasses. He recently had cataract surgery. He now only needs glasses to read. His eyesight is greatly improved over his previous condition, even before his cataracts. But he needs reading glasses.

Our spiritual blindness has been removed to a great degree. We “see” Christ and the gospel. But we still have blind spots. There are things about God and ourselves that we can’t see well, clearly or even at all (Calvin notes that our knowledge of God and ourselves is connected).

Tripp’s point is that we need to admit we have blind spots and need to compensate for them. We are to use the corrective lens of the Scriptures, illuminated by the Spirit, to help us see more clearly. But we are also to depend on community, the help of others to help us see God and ourselves more clearly.

Part of our blindness is to our own sin. We seem to see the sin of others very clearly. Jesus warns us about our inner Pharisee who is always on the look out for other people’s sin while being blind to our own.

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. Matthew 7

We tend to judge others. By that Jesus means condemn. It isn’t simply saying an action was wrong, and that is why His warning is so stark. Watch out, the same measure will be used against you! Do you judge/condemn people based on their worst moment? Do you offer them grace and repentance?

Even more importantly, do you see yourself? Is the log in your eye clear to you? Probably not or you would have dealt with it. Jesus longs for us to deal with our sin first. Jesus begins with addressing them as a community, for the verbs in nouns in vv. 1-2 are plural. But He shifts to the personal as they are then singular.

Churches can be very focused on the sins of other churches (especially if there was a denominational or congregational split), or of the surrounding community of unbelievers (this is the problem of culture wars- sin is out there, not also in here). Jesus is telling our congregations and denominations to stop focusing on “their” sin (whomever they may be) and get the log out of our collective eyes. We need to see ourselves more clearly in light of who God is, and repent of our sins before we are calling out others, as a community. This should be reflected in our preaching and our conversation. What a change it would make in our evangelism if we came from a posture of humility and repentance instead of condemnation?

We as people are often blinded to our sinful contributions to our communities. We need to get the log out of our own eyes before we start to judge and condemn our brothers. Note that: Jesus says we can’t help our brothers until we are honest about ourselves. Our calling is not to become the Accuser of the Brothers.

Biblical Peacemaking Applying the Gospel to Conflicts of Daily Life - ppt  download
There is a reason for the order.

Imagine if everyone or at least most of the people in your church were focused on their sins and not other people’s sins. Reconciliation is much easier when people are “getting the log out” and owning their contributions to the conflict. Reconciliation is incredibly difficult when you think it is all the other person’s fault. Our spiritual blind spots lead us to think that we see it all clearly, when we don’t. We think we see clearly, perfectly, but we do not.

We not only need the Scriptures, but also one another as part of the Spirit-dwelling community. Recognizing you have blind spots means you invite feedback. I do this (though not all the time). The feedback should come from someone involved in the situation, not simply someone you told your side to. I ask “the guys in the room”. I ask if I was out of line. I can’t see my sin clearly and I want them to help me see it.

I don’t usually ask the person who is mad at me because their vision is often blinded to a degree. As both (all) of you seek to get the logs out of your eyes, this becomes more reasonable. I don’t need the participate in nor invite the ministry of condemnation. We are to restore one another gently (Gal. 6).

You can come alongside your brother and ask if they want 3rd party feedback. But people generally don’t give it unless asked. So ask. Ask your spouse if you were harsh with your child. Perhaps ask someone if you were harsh with your spouse. Or friend. Ask for help to see the log you need to get out of your eye so you can help your brother.

Imagine a community committed to that! That’s the community I want to be a part of, one in which people see themselves as the biggest sinners in the room, asking for help with their logs and gentle addressing the specks in their brother’s eyes. I want to be part of a community that focuses more on the holiness of the community than the unholiness of the world.

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The other day some other pastors and I gathered to discuss the amendments. It was a helpful and charitable discussion that went beyond the amendments to our larger concerns about the denomination and the tensions pulling it in opposite directions. We don’t see those same forces at work to the same degree in our presbytery, but we could be wrong.

I thought I would refer to the rationale presented for voting for the amendments. I want to present them fairly, and so they are not straw men I can easily knock down.

Rationale for BCO 16

It was advised that we consider it grammatically by removing the parenthesis to add clarity. Here we are:

16-4. Officers in the Presbyterian Church in America must be above reproach in their walk and Christlike in their character. Those who profess an identity … that undermines or contradicts their identity as new creations in Christ, either by denying the sinfulness of fallen desires (such as, but not limited to, same sex attraction), or by denying the reality and hope of progressive sanctification, or by failing to pursue Spirit-empowered victory over their sinful temptations, inclinations, and actions are not qualified for ordained office.

This helps one to see that an identity undermines or contradicts one’s identity when it meets any one or more of the three criteria given. This means, it was argued, that it offers protection to men experiencing SSA as long as none of these 3 things is true: denying the sinfulness of their desires, denying progressive sanctification, or failing to pursue said sanctification.

It is pretty straight forward.

My Disconnect

I cannot argue with the “exegesis.” I do however sense a grave disconnect. If this actually offers protection to SSA men then why are they generally against this amendment? If this offers protection to SSA men then why are those who find it to be a disqualifying condition in favor of it?

This would mean that both ends of the spectrum are not reading it accurately and fairly (nor am I- though how to interpret those 3 conditions is in the eye of the beholder). Those who find it to be a disqualifying condition read it as though such an identity necessarily violates at least one of the conditions.

Since we can’t agree on what it means and how it is to be applied, I still have reservations about passing it. I don’t want to see this “weaponized” by some presbyteries to be used against candidates or other presbyteries (as we have witnessed in some other cases).

Let’s provide an real life example. Many have expressed that conversion therapy has a very low success rate. My theory, which I have not endeavored to prove, is that those who arrive at SSA through abuse or experimentation are more likely to experience a change of attractions/desires sufficient to sustain a heterosexual marriage while those who have always felt that attraction/desire will not experience a significant/sufficient change of attractions/desires. So, as a result of such a track record some express little/no hope for a change in their attractions, but see progressive sanctification as addressing the mortification of the flesh, making no provision for the flesh and fleeing the evil desires rather than “becoming straight”. Would this view be seen as meeting one or more of the three conditions expressed in the amendment?

As we study human nature we see a proclivity due to our sinful nature to see our opponents in a less positive light. I risk doing that here. If one finds that SSA is a disqualifying condition, then anything that doesn’t sound like total victory can be viewed as meeting the conditions for undermining or contradicting our identity in Christ.

BCO 21-4 (and 24-1)
e. In the examination of the candidate’s personal character, the presbytery shall give specific attention to potentially notorious concerns, such as but not limited to relational sins, sexual immorality (including homosexuality, child sexual abuse, fornication, and pornography), addictions, abusive behavior, racism, and financial mismanagement. Careful attention must be given to his practical struggle against sinful actions, as well as to persistent sinful desires. The candidate must give clear testimony of reliance upon his union with Christ and the benefits thereof by the Holy Spirit, depending on this work of grace to make progress over sin (Psalm 103:2-5, Romans 8:29) and to bear fruit (Psalm 1:3; Gal. 5:22-23). While imperfection will remain, he must not be known by reputation or self-profession according to his remaining sinfulness, but rather by the work of the Holy Spirit in Christ Jesus (1 Cor. 6:9-11). In order to maintain discretion and protect the honor of the pastoral office, Presbyteries are encouraged to appoint a committee to conduct detailed examinations of these matters and to give prayerful support to candidates.

The brothers viewed this as procedural advice for ordination or credentials committees to examine men on a variety of subjects. It is not intended to provide grounds for disqualification so much as to address areas of inquiry.

As I noted in Part 1, I have fewer objections on this amendment. Other brothers had more strenuous objections focused on “reputation.” Another pastor I know expressed to me that he knew some men with ministries to homosexuals that were concerned whether sharing their own struggle with SSA might be construed as “being known by reputation or self-profession”. This may actual hinder their ministry of evangelism among the gay community.

It seems strange to me that some seem to deny our “remaining sinfulness” but I see men dismayed that a Christian would experience persistent temptations. I don’t want to re-trace the material in Part 1 about our remaining sin from the Westminster Confession. Let’s turn instead to the Heidelberg Catechism to see similar statements.

56. Q. What do you believe concerning the forgiveness of sins?

A. I believe that God, because of Christ’s satisfaction, will no more remember my sins, nor my sinful nature, against which I have to struggle all my life, but He will graciously grant me the righteousness of Christ, that I may never come into condemnation.

We see here in answer 56 that we struggle against our sinful nature, or indwelling sin, all our lives on earth. We don’t reach a point where we no longer need to struggle against it. We continue to experience temptations and actual sins produced by original sin. Our hope in this life is the righteousness of Christ, not our personal righteousness. Apart from this each of us would fall under condemnation. But, praise God, we are united to the Righteous One.

114. Q. But can those converted to God keep these commandments perfectly?

A. No. In this life even the holiest have only a small beginning of this obedience. Nevertheless, with earnest purpose they do begin to live not only according to some but to all the commandments of God.

Our obedience, according to Answer 114 is but only a small beginning in this life. It may look like great progress from our perspective, but compared to God’s absolute standard it is meager indeed. The biblical pattern actually seems to be that our awareness of our sin grows as we mature. As we grow closer to the Light we are able to see the spots on our clothes more readily, and see more of them. This is why Paul called himself “chief of sinners” near the end of his life in 1 Timothy 1. The men we thought most holy saw themselves as ungodly. As I noted in a recent sermon, spiritual vitality is tied to our awareness of sin and repentance, not the absence of temptation. This latter is actually a lack of awareness of our temptations and transgressions.

Bi-vocational pastor Chris Accardy in a blog post points out that this amendment fails to mention our status as mandatory reporters in light of the discussion of childhood sexual abuse. His contention is that we open ourselves to lawsuits since our constitution mentions examining men on this subject without also stressing that this is not merely a moral issue but a legal issue.

The Larger Picture and Possible Consequences

Wisdom includes a concern for unintended consequences for our actions. There will be consequences whether the amendments are passed or not. Both sides of this discussion expressed concerns about trajectories, the idea that our denomination is not static but that we are going from 9.2-9.7 to 9.1-9.8 or farther. Some are concerned rejecting these amendments will move us farther left as a denomination. Others are concerned that passing them moves us farther right.

This all mirrors the larger discussion of evangelical fracturing that we are all seeing in our churches. Many are moving toward neo-fundamentalism and many are moving toward neo-liberalism. It is part of the polarization of American society. To use different terminology more of our people are becoming culture warriors and social justice warriors. My conviction is that we are to be trafficking in the gospel (to borrow from Dick Kauffman) and addressing issues of morality and justice as needed by our texts and their application. We should not be captive to either movement. We want our people to affirm a biblical morality and biblical justice because they have received Christ as He is presented to us in the gospel. He sets our agenda, not cultural movements.

These movements represent the fortress mentality versus the transformationist drive. We can’t remain huddled in our churches, fearful of society. We are to be engaging culture with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Knowing our sins we should not be angry as we address the sins of culture. But we are also to be addressing the hearts of people, not simply laws. Godly people will seek to make godly laws, and those godly people are only produced by the gospel.

Many of our churches focus on the sins of society and not the sins of the church and Church. I believe our focus should primarily be on our sins and secondarily the sins of our society. We need to be humble, not self-righteous, as we speak of society’s ills. We need to be more concerned about unholiness in the church than godlessness in society. This is not to say we are seeking a “pure” or “regenerate” church. It is not about being perfect but about identifying and mortifying our sin. The majority of us, not simply a minority.

There are also generational concerns at play. Our Stated Clerk, Bryan Chapell talked about this issue in a presentation to stated clerks. We grew up in very different societies that affect how we tend to address cultural issues. While agreeing that abortion is immoral, the older generations focus on changing the law. Younger generations focus on caring for women and their children, as well as adoption. These should supplement one another rather than supplant one another. How they approach the question of homosexuality is different as well. Older generations fear the “gay agenda”. Younger generations lived in a world in which it was normalized and want to care for homosexuals instead of battle them for cultural power. These currents create some of the tensions here. Both sides, I believe, recognize the sinfulness of homosexuality while differing on how to minister to those who are homosexual. Remember, generations are not iron clad. Just because you are in a generation doesn’t mean you think like others in that generation because you were also raised in a family and a church that may reflect other approaches.

If these pass, we may lose churches on one end of the continuum. That end tends to leave to join other denominations. If this doesn’t pass some like Jon Payne have advocated for staying and fighting, though leaving is always a future option. Those who do leave may leave for other denominations. Some may leave loudly and form a new denomination (it is hard to leave quietly when you are inviting others to join you). Sadly there will be loses on either pole of the spectrum and those of us in the “squishy middle” will press on while recognizing that we do, in fact, serve in imperfect churches, presbyteries and denomination. My idealism manifests itself in “why can’t we get along” while other people’s idealism manifests itself in pursuing a more pure context. If we struggle with our sin nature, and everyone else does too, it makes sense that there will be differences both moral and non-moral. I can live with that.

The Tenor of the Controversy

I was quite pleased with the tenor of our discussion. We gave one another space to make their case. We spoke as brothers, not adversaries. There were no accusations, though our fears or concerns included reference to wider audiences. The tenor of those discussions was not so hopeful, charitable and edifying.

The declension in the fruit of the Spirit is disconcerting and disheartening. Thankfully there are men who respond well when how they engage becomes a problem. Others speak like this is the 16th century and their opponent is a Roman bishop defending the Council of Trent. They forget we are brothers, and how we speak to brothers is very different than how one speaks to an enemy of the gospel. Or perhaps that is the point, they consider those who differ with them to be enemies of the gospel. I don’t know, but there are men I choose not to interact with because of how they treat those with whom they disagree.

I’m currently reading Cheer Up! The Life and Ministry of Jack Miller by Michael Graham. I just finished the chapter on the Shepherd Controversy. We see that Shepherd’s concern for easy-believism led him into a novel view of justification similar to how we can express salvation (been saved, being saved, and will be saved). We use those phrases to refer to justification & adoption, sanctification and glorification respectively. His view of final justification seems to have been picked up by Piper, and his covenant faithfulness by the Federal Vision. Shepherd had a point but instead of returning to the gospel he over-corrected. This is similar to the problem of the Marrow Controversy. The answer to antinomianism isn’t legalism or “Lordship Salvation”. The answer for either is the gospel of Jesus Christ. For more on this you should read The Whole Christ by Sinclair Ferguson.

Cheer Up!: The Life and Ministry of Jack Miller - Graham, Michael A - 9781629957210

My point is that the sentiments expressed by Miller to Shepherd after the latter had finally been removed from the faculty after a 7 year controversy are similar to mine about this controversy though it is not at the heart of the gospel like that was.

“What strikes me, however, is the common failing we have all shared in. What is the gospel all about? It is the reconciliation of sinners to God through the blood of Christ and the reconciliation of men to one another as the fruit of that reconciliation to God. I believe that is the priority which is on the heart of the Lord- and one that we sadly neglected in our relationships to one another. It must be greatly offensive to the Lord to see us defending the gospel in a manner that puts us at a distance from one another… I fear that we have acted hypocritically as brothers together in debating issues that we know little about as part of our own obedience. … The whole matter makes me sick at heart. I see little honor for Christ in what has happened, and no victors, only mutual shamefacedness.” (Graham, pp. 125)

May we not experience this when it is all said and done.

Hopefully I faithfully represented the views of others. Hopefully I faithfully describe more of the bigger picture tensions that drive our differences. Hopefully men are able think through this more clearly. Hopefully we will act like and remain brothers on the far side.

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The CT podcast The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill with Mike Cosper (former worship pastor and author of Rhythms of Grace) has been interesting, to say the least. Some have attributed some odd motives to the podcast. Some I have heard or seen have included bashing complementarians.

The point, to me, is the patterns of spiritual abuse among “Christian celebrities”. A pastor doesn’t need to be a celebrity pastor to abuse congregants. This podcast wants people to be able to see the signs of abusive leadership so they can begin to address it or flee from it.

The episode I listened to this morning was the one off on Joshua Harris called I Kissed Christianity Goodbye. Harris is involved because of the spiritual abuse that took place at Covenant Life when he was a pastor, its affect on him, his coming to grips with how I Kissed Dating Goodbye mainstreamed purity culture in the evangelical church, and how this actually caused a crisis of faith for Harris. As the title alludes to, he deconstructed his faith and no longer identifies as a Christian.

I Kissed Dating Goodbye

He was a teen when he wrote the book that made him famous. It sold over a million copies. I never bought one. I might have read it once to see what all this girls I asked out were talking about. I could claim this book hurt me since it was the stated reason given for some to not date.

I did not grow up in the church and prior to my conversion was guilty of fornication. It is a sin, but purity culture elevated it to the worst sin one could commit. Well, except for homosexuality. The book was written to help people avoid this sin. If you don’t date you won’t find yourself in tempting positions.

This is advancement of purity culture combined with aspects of the shepherding movement. In later years, Harris would see the legalism behind his book and the movement. He seems to have taken the hurt others experienced as if he did it.

The views expressed by Harris (and Doug Wilson whose book I did read) have some application to teens. I do advise my kids not to worry about romantic relationships until they are ready to marry. But I do not “enforce” that. It is advice, not a command.

As a man in my late 20’s and early 30’s who lived thousands of miles from my unbelieving parents who typically knew adult women who lived in another state from their parents, it seemed impractical. I ended up meeting my wife’s parents once before we were engaged. She hadn’t met mine.

When you write a book, you are responsible for what you right. He has been recognizing the issues with the book. That’s a good thing though it led him to leave the faith rather than repent (as Cosper mentions). The gospel is about both our sinfulness (which includes writing books with degrees of error) and God’s mercy in Christ. When we don’t grasp the latter we tend to spiral.

When you write a book, you are not responsible for what other sinners do with it. Some of the people who spoke to him later told of it being weaponized against them. That is on them, not you. It did strike Harris deep, however.

Sovereign Grace Scandal

As we have learned, the Sovereign Grace movement/denomination treated abuse as a sin and addressed the need for reconciliation. It is a sin, and there needs to be reconciliation. But it is also a crime. The Roman Catholic Church, like Sovereign Grace, approached it as a sin alone. That got them both in big messes.

Sadly, this is a common problem in evangelicalism. We think about the “reputation” of Christ and the church. Covering up crimes doesn’t guard reputations but creates a bad reputation for not addressing the crime aspect appropriately.

Harris realizes the damage this policy had done to so many. Victims were not protected, vindicated and cared for. They were treated as though they were the problem.

This was another thread in the awakening he experienced. He slowly discovered that Donald Miller was right- to be known for humility usually means you aren’t actually humble. We all struggle with legalism, and the tendency to tack on man-made rules to the gospel. They can be about dating, or not dating, or how you handle abuse.

The Spiral

Because we can add man-made rules to the gospel, we can also confuse them with the gospel. To question them is to begin to question the gospel itself. You begin to confuse your sin, and the sin of the church, as arguments against the gospel itself instead of the reason we need the gospel.

Lesson 1 of our membership course is about sin and the sinfulness of every single person in the church. You will sin against other people, and other people will sin against you. Some are more devastating, obviously. If you or your child are abused that is huge. Spiritual abuse is also big.

In the midst of all this Harris’ mother died and his marriage was in trouble. Probably not the best time to have an honest evaluation of your marriage. If I was their counselor I’d encourage them to deal with the external stressors together and see after that to the marital issues.

Harris and Cosper began to speak of celebrity. Harris noted that the person our faith is named after is “famous”. Cosper made a helpful distinction between famous and celebrity. People who change the world are famous. People who are well-known simply because they get their brand across have contributed nothing to the world.

Pastors don’t really change the world. They (are supposed to) talk about the One who changed the world: Jesus. While a pastor may be well known, they are not abusive if they are pointing people to Jesus. If they are pointing people to them and/or their movement, then they begin to fall into celebrity and/or spiritual abuse.

Harris was struggling with his own celebrity and unwitting abuse. I think that is a key word, unwitting. He didn’t realize what he was doing. When he did, it is about his sinfulness rather than a defect of the gospel. Deconstruction done well separates them so you are left with a purer faith in Christ. Deconstruction done poorly confuses the two as if the gospel, as if Jesus, was the reason you manipulated, controlled and abused people.

Cosper, who calls himself “Reformed” (I use it as a more technical term than he does since it is more than being Calvinistic, but not less) tried to help him see that his regret was turning Harris around in circles. He spiraled away from the faith because he was not turning to Jesus. As Jack Miller once said, repentance without turning to Christ is just turning in circles (paraphrased). Harris lost sight of Christ and began to spin in circles, spiraling away from the faith. Christ is the answer to our sin, and the sins of our pastors and congregations. Lose sight of Him and you lose faith.

Cosper ended with “I don’t think Jesus is done with him.” I hope not. As it stands now, Joshua Harris is a cautionary tale. It isn’t that he sinned, of course he did. The caution is to lose sight of Christ in our success (celebrity) and our failure.

One thing brought up early in the podcast was how different Harris is from Driscoll. They have a very different demeanor. Driscoll seemed to seek attention. He was aggressive. Joshua Harris didn’t seem to seek attention (he lived in Mahaney’s basement for awhile). He wasn’t aggressive in his approach to people and power. Yet both men were guilty of spiritual abuse. There is no type. Even nice guys can miss the mark in how they lead churches. Both men had too much of their identity wrapped up in ministry.

They were also different in how they responded to the rude awakening. Driscoll has doubled down. He punted on Calvinism (while imperfect we do try to exercise church discipline and hold people accountable) and began to emphasize the charismatic (which groups tend not to hold pastor accountable). Driscoll couldn’t face life without being a pastor. Harris doubted: himself and Christ. He left not only the pastorate/ministry but also Jesus.

Neither man own their faults and ran to Jesus. Driscoll returned to similar patterns like a dog to its vomit and Jim Baker hawking spiritual blessing. Harris has wandered into a far country. May God work to bring him to his senses so he returns home, even if it isn’t as a pastor.

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As a pastor I took vows to study the peace, purity and unity of the Church. The last few years have been tumultuous for the PCA, filled with misunderstandings, allegations and heated discussions online and in person. The peace, purity and unity have been disrupted. Fear of liberalism and/or compromise has led some people to leave PCA churches (and churches to leave the PCA). Visitors to our congregation have not stayed because of their fears, which I find unfounded. As a student of history, what I see in the PCA is a discussion of what the Bible means, not attempts to dismiss biblical authority which we actually find in denominations that become liberal. What began as controversy over the parachurch ministry named Revoice prompted discussion of whether men who experience SSA are fit candidates for office in the PCA. Let us be clear that this is the issue. The issue is whether experiencing SSA is a disqualifying sin in and of itself.

After discussions with a number of people on line I can’t really come to any other conclusion. The Side A and Side B language is not helpful. It is elusive when it comes to Side B. I often think I’m missing something. What I think I’m missing is that many (most? all?) associate Side B with identifying with their orientation as one of the most important things about them but choosing to be celibate because they are Christians (which would make Christ the most important, right?).

So you know where I am coming from, I don’t view all experiencing SSA as seeing that as their identity. Like all single individuals they are to be chaste whether that is temporary or permanent. The question I’m considering, or the lens I’m using, is does a person with unwanted SSA, who is putting such desires to death, qualified for gospel ministry as an church officer?

Before we answer this, let’s clarify some things to lay a foundation.

Our Standards

The theological standards of our denomination indicate that due to Adam’s sin we “became dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all the parts and faculties of soul and body.” (WCF, 6, 2) This is conveyed to us by ordinary generation since Adam was our covenant head. This original corruption is the source of our temptations and actual transgressions, as well as sickness (body) and suffering. We see here a distinction between sin original (corruption & temptation) and sin actual (transgressions). The ad Interim Study Report uses this language, and Rosaria Butterfield discusses this distinction in Openness Unhindered (pp. 73-75). This is further explained in paragraph 6 while also connects sin to the law of God. The corruption of nature remains in all who are regenerate. Our sin is pardoned and mortified, but it remains sin (6, 5).

SSA is a manifestation of this inherited corruption, which remains after conversion. One may continue to experience SSA as a manifestation of their remaining corruption. It remains sin yet is pardoned and is to be mortified (Romans 6-8). God may choose to fully deliver a person from any particular sin, including SSA, but we should not expect full deliverance until glorification because of the reality of indwelling sin.

From the chapter on Justification (11) we see that Christ has fully discharged the debt of all our sins (11.3), and God continues to forgive the sins of the justified such that we cannot fall from the state or status of justification (11.5). We may fall under his Fatherly displeasure when we do not humble ourselves and confess our sin.

The chapter on Sanctification (13) also notes the reality of our remaining corruption which may prevail at times, but that eventually the regenerated part prevails so we grow in grace (13.3). Our progress is like the stock market with ups and downs but trending up.

In the next chapter, on Saving Faith, we see that faith can have different degrees over time, is often assailed but gets the victory (14.3). Based on the following clause this would appear to be attainment of assurance rather than to an earthly event of victory in a particular temptation or the final victory in glorification.

“3. This faith is different in degrees, weak or strong; may be often and many ways assailed, and weakened, but gets the victory: growing up in many to the attainment of a full assurance, through Christ, who is both the author and finisher of our faith.”

This remaining corruption is also addressed in the chapter on the Perseverance of the Saints (17.3). Due to this corruption, temptations external from us and the neglect of the means of grace, saints can and do fall into grievous sins. We can continue in those sins for a time and bring temporal judgments upon ourselves.

We see as well that the Assurance of Grace and Salvation can be shaken, diminished and intermitted by such grievous sins (18.4). Those who engage in same sex lust and activity should expect to have their assurance diminish. However, this also indicates that real, regenerate Christians can continue to experience all kinds of sinful temptations including SSA. We do believe in progressive sanctification, but we don’t assert that any given sin or sinful temptations will be completely removed from the saint until glorification. To argue for earthly deliverance from particular temptations is to have an over-realized eschatology and be out of step with our Confessional Standards. We grow in obedience despite the on-going presence of temptation.

Based on these theological commitments, I believe the Divines would affirm that our remaining corruption could continue to produce SSA temptations, and the saint may fall into same sex sin just like others fall into other sexual temptations and sins of various kinds including fits of anger, bearing false witness, greed, gluttony and failing to submit to legitimate authority. Regardless of the type of sexual temptations that flow from sin original, we are to mortify them. Regardless of the type of sexual sins actual we are to repent of them.

All candidates for ministry, and all officers, in the PCA though (hopefully) justified and being sanctified experience temptations of various strength flowing from their remaining corruption which are classified as sin. They also experience temptations from Satan and the world which are attractive to them due to their remaining corruption. All such men also do actually transgress at times in thought, word and deed. All candidates and officers do experience sexual temptations and transgress at times. Are we to think that only those who experience same sex temptations and transgressions (thoughts and words are in my view at the moment) are prohibited from ministry? Are we to disqualify people for temptations and not just for transgressions?

Our Recent History

Jim Pocta develops this in his recent blog post. The PCA is not an Affirming Denomination, one which affirms homosexuality and same sex marriage. Our General Assembly recently amended our Book of Worship and made that paragraph binding to clearly declare that marriage was between one man and one woman. We ruled out both same sex marriage and polygamy by this action. Is this the action of a liberal denomination? This vote was nearly unanimous.

“59-3. Marriage is only to be between one man and one woman (Gen. 2:24, 25; Matt. 19:4-6, 1 Cor. 7:2), in accordance with the Word of God. Therefore, ministers in the Presbyterian Church in America who solemnize marriages shall only solemnize marriages between one man and one woman.”

Our denomination also received The Nashville Statement as biblically faithful in 2019. This, as well, is not the action of a liberal denomination. It is the action of a denomination that affirms the biblical standards of sexual morality. This also means that we generally understand that practicing homosexuals would and should be prohibited from office by Scripture and our Standards (like adulterers, drunkards, the greedy and more). Our question concerns those who are repentant and pursuing progressive sanctification (both mortification and vivification). Our standards indicate that repentance unto life includes both an understanding of the heinousness of our sin and apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ Jesus along with an endeavor to new obedience (WSC, 87).  

The PCA ad interim study report noted:

“Insofar as such persons display the requisite Christian maturity, we do not consider this sin struggle automatically to disqualify someone for leadership in the church.”

This study report, which was approved at our last General Assembly, indicates that it does not automatically disqualify someone. It may if they do not display “requisite Christian maturity” which includes sufficient progress that they are not practicing homosexuals or pursuing improper same sex relationships that mimic marriage. The mature would be people who do not pursue their sinful desires.

Changes to BCO 16

Here is the proposed amendment:

16-4. Officers in the Presbyterian Church in America must be above reproach in their walk and Christlike in their character. Those who profess an identity (such as, but not limited to, “gay Christian,” “same sex attracted Christian,” “homosexual Christian,” or like terms) that undermines or contradicts their identity as new creations in Christ, either by denying the sinfulness of fallen desires (such as, but not limited to, same sex attraction), or by denying the reality and hope of progressive sanctification, or by failing to pursue Spirit-empowered victory over their sinful temptations, inclinations, and actions are not qualified for ordained office.

Points of agreement would include that officers must be above reproach and Christlike in character. I also agree that they, in keeping with WSC 87 they affirm the sinfulness of their sin and fallen desires. In the past we have not been clear in our discussions such that some are speaking of sin original and others sin actual causing unnecessary conflict rooted in confusion.

My points of disagreement begin with the use of identity language. Yes, we should not primarily be known for our sin. We should not generally call ourselves alcoholic Christians or Christian alcoholics. Neither should hold to shibboleths such that one can say “I am a Christian who struggles with alcoholism” but not another formulation such as “Christian alcoholic”. Such shibboleths inevitably lapse into legalism instead of seeking to understand what one means by their words.

More deeply there is a bigger problem with “identity language”. Scripture does address our identity in Christ, but as Carl Trueman notes in his recent book The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self, the cultural understanding of the self and identity has change profoundly to be psychological and therapeutic. Our Church constitution should not be culture bound in this way, capitulating to how our culture uses “identity”. Neither should it speak of “identity” in a biblical fashion without explaining the differences lest it lead to more confusion. We would be foolish to expect others to know what we mean. We actually are not clear as to what we mean by professing an identity.

Some have noted that in Hebrews 11 Rahab is still identified as the prostitute (the only person whose sin is mentioned in the fall of faith). Perhaps the point is that even a prostitute can express saving faith (and leave prostitution). What is interesting to me is that in Acts 23:6 Paul still says “I am a Pharisee” even though he didn’t live like one due to the gospel and mission. Was Paul wrong to “identify” himself with a group that largely rejected Christ and was actively trying to have him tried and killed?

A friend noted that this amendment is better than nothing. I disagree. We can do better. We must do better. The words themselves must be clear rather than needing articles explaining what it means which are not footnotes for future readers of the BCO. It should be fairly obvious when one reads it. It is not obvious to me what is meant.  

Perhaps something like this would be more clear:

“… consider themselves primarily as united to Christ, and dead to sin by faith such that they hate their sin and temptations, long to be delivered and pursue progressive sanctification by grace through faith.”

Views of the BCO

I see a deeper tension at work in our denomination in how we view the BCO. When I was in the ARP we joked it was called the FOG for a reason. It was purposely vague to allow for freedom. It was frustrating at times as I wanted greater clarity on some issues. Many in the PCA have a “Lutheran” approach to the BCO: if it doesn’t prohibit it we are free to do it. Many others have an RPW approach to the BCO: if it doesn’t permit it we can’t do it. This means there will be vastly different interpretations of this amendment based on the different approaches to the BCO found in the PCA. We can expect there to be conflict over these different interpretations. On a matter this important, we should be crystal clear so there isn’t such future conflict, not only between individuals but presbyteries.

Theological Tensions

I also dislike the use of “victory” instead of “obedience”. “Victory” adds an element that lacks clarity precisely because the term is unclear. It is often used in non-Reformed doctrines of sanctification such as forms of Christian perfectionism and Neil T. Anderson’s view that we do not have a sinful nature but only bad habits after regeneration.

Is this being used to express “victory” over a particular temptation one is experiencing, or “victory” such that one no longer experiences the temptation? Do you see the ambiguity introduced by “victory”? In our theological system, there is a remnant of sin in us all. We don’t get victory over the sinful nature, while we may gain a measure of victory over a particular temptation. This would mean that we no longer engage in immoral sexual activity, watch porn, get drunk etc. while we may still experience the temptation to engage in immoral sexual activity, watch porn or get drunk.

Another way to look at this is a theology of glory vs a theology of the cross. A theology of the cross recognizes our on-going struggles with suffering, sickness and sin (see James 5). In light of 2 Corinthians 12 we see that our prayers for these 3 “S”’s are often met with “my grace is sufficient for you”. God is more concerned with Paul’s humility than the thorn in his flesh (suffering). God’s power is made perfect in our weakness, whether it be suffering, sickness or sin. He prizes our humility and uses these natural and moral struggles to attain this goal. He uses surface sins to help us identify the root sin. For instance, Rosaria Butterfield in Confessions of an Unlikely Convert mentions that her root sins were pride and unbelief. These had to be dealt with or they would just produce a different sin than SSA. (I’d provide the reference but my book is MIA)

A theology of glory is focused on our triumph in the present, not simply in glorification. It stresses the removal of suffering, sickness and sin in our earthly lives. It sets people up to despair when God does not act according to our expectations. Our denomination seems to be torn, at a deeper level, by this tension between a theology of the cross and a theology of glory.

Changes to BCE 21 and 24

BCO 21-4 (and 24-1)

e. In the examination of the candidate’s personal character, the presbytery shall give specific attention to potentially notorious concerns, such as but not limited to relational sins, sexual immorality (including homosexuality, child sexual abuse, fornication, and pornography), addictions, abusive behavior, racism, and financial mismanagement. Careful attention m u s t be given to his practical struggle against sinful actions, as well as to persistent sinful desires. The candidate must give clear testimony of reliance upon his union with Christ and the benefits thereof by the Holy Spirit, depending on this work of grace to make progress over sin (Psalm 103:2-5, Romans 8:29) and to bear fruit (Psalm 1:3; Gal. 5:22-23). While imperfection will remain, he must not be known by reputation or self-profession according to his remaining sinfulness, but rather by the work of the Holy Spirit in Christ Jesus (1 Cor. 6:9-11). In order to maintain discretion and protect the honor of the pastoral office, Presbyteries are encouraged to appoint a committee to conduct detailed examinations of these matters and to give prayerful support to candidates.

There are areas of agreement I have this these amendments. I am closer to voting to approve these changes than the one to BCO 16. We should examine personal character and pay attention to particular problems. Our presbytery committee asks men about their marriages (if there were any separations, how they resolve conflict), same sex attraction, drug and alcohol abuse and prior arrests. We need to know if there has been a child protective services investigation or other criminal investigation. I agree that this paragraph should include pornography, addictions, racism and financial mismanagement (a sign of greed).

Once again we have some vague, uncertain language in that “he must not be known by reputation or self-profession according to his remaining sinfulness”. Does this mean that since many of us know that TE Greg Johnson struggles with SSA he is disqualified from ministry? RE Jim Pocta has asked the same question about himself. Are we discouraging honesty about struggles with temptation?

I am not being facetious. A ruling elder in a previous pastorate never shared his struggles with SSA. He struggled alone. Eventually he left his wife and family for a man after being discovered engaging in anonymous sex in a park. I’ve had other friends and acquaintances secretly struggle for years until they “came out” often at the expense of a spouse and children. We’ll never know if it could have turned out differently had they gotten help. The uncertainty of how one’s temptations may be received will encourage others like them to go underground.

In our presbytery (AZ) our ordination team (which also handles transfers) handles these matters. This amendment would seem to establish another committee to handle these examinations. There is some hope and encouragement in that they offer prayerful support. I do remain uncomfortable with the less clear aspects of this amendment.


I want to go back to the beginning. I do not want flagrant sinners to be officers in Christ’s church. I recognize that all officers will struggle with temptation, and will transgress. Paul’s qualifications for office in 1 Timothy 3 list the transgressions that disqualify a man. He does not list temptations. I do not want otherwise qualified men to be disqualified by their temptations unless they consider those temptations to be good. Let’s be clear we are arguing about the same thing. Let our words and intentions be clear. Let’s be careful to understand the views of those with whom we disagree.

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Our community group is wrapping up our lessons in Job. Job can be a difficult book to understand due to its imagery and cultural background among other things.As we went on the some of the commentaries and books I read fell by the wayside. The most helpful commentary was Christopher Ash’s Job: The Wisdom of the Cross in the Preaching the Word series. It’s length may be intimidating to some, but have no fear.

The best parts of the book have been distilled in a much more economical book by Christopher Ash called Trusting God in the Darkness: A Guide to Understanding the Book of Job. Instead of verse by verse treatment, it is chunk by chunk. Ash breaks it down in digestible pieces and understandable themes. He doesn’t get into Hebrew grammar but keeps it simple and straight forward.

Trusting God in the Darkness: A Guide to Understanding the Book of Job - Ash, Christopher - 9781433570117

He begins with Getting to Know the Book of Job. He tells of an all too common tragedy that causes people to ask the question “Why?”. In this case a police officer was killed in the line of duty. He was a family man, a church man. Here was a “righteous” man (not perfect) who was senselessly killed. He considers this a “wheelchair question” when we know and love the person who suffers such seeming injustice.

He notes some of the challenges of Job. It is a long book (42 chapters) that takes many twists and turns. It is filled with Hebrew poetry. On one level it can seem obscure to us. But this poetry also is emotional. The author and Author invite us to enter into our uncomfortable emotions.

Do We Live in a Well-Run World?

This question frames the chapter on Job 1:1-2:10. All was well for Job. He was rich, had a big, healthy family. He was a blameless man. The world seemed to be well-run.

“He fears God, bowing down before him in the wonder, love, and awe, recognizing that God alone is the Creator to whom he and his world owe their entire existence.”

Job had integrity or sincerity. His family got along well, and then is was gone in a series of catastrophes. What in the world happened?

We have a scene in the Lord’s throne room. Satan is present along with the sons of God and is questioned by the Lord. The Satan has come from going to and fro in the world. God asks if he has considered Job, calling him blameless, upright revealed in fearing God and avoiding evil. The Satan’s challenge is that he’s not an authentic worshiper, but only worships because God protects him. Take away the blessing, the Satan argues, and supposedly righteous Job will curse you to your face. After Job’s wealth and children are taken from him, he continues to worship the Lord.

Back we go to the Lord’s throne room. It is almost a repeat as God asks the Satan where he’s been and suggest blameless Job. This time the Satan says that God strikes Job, he’ll crack and all will see his true colors. The Satan is given permission to strike Job, but not kill him. We see here that the Satan is not an equal in any way. He must receive permission to strike Job. But Job remains faithful despite the intense pain he feels: emotionally and physically.

Weep with Those Who Weep

Job 3 finds Job upon the ash heap, a garbage heap. Job is not suffering as a result of sin. Ash tells the story of William Cowper to remind us that people who seem blameless still suffer greatly. Like Cowper, Job is experiencing despair which is not the result of unbelief or unforgiven sin. These men went through great darkness. So may we.

Here is the point with Job: he is suffering because he is godly.

Job begins to lament. He seems to go on and on. It can sound wearisome. Job feels very alone despite the arrival of three friends. Soon they will exacerbate his loneliness. Job has no future hope of joy, he can only look back to find joy. He is in despair and introduces the image of Leviathan as the agent of his woes. He wishes he’d never been born.

Ash brings us from the ash heap to the Garden of Gethsemane where the Righteous One who is about to suffer is surrounded by three unhelpful friends. At least they don’t accuse Him, but they do fall asleep repeatedly instead of praying with Him. Both men experience profound loss and loneliness.

What Not to Say to the Suffering Believer

This little chapter covers 23 chapters. Yes, 23. There are plenty of twists and turns but the message of his three friends is pretty much the same. They make the same basis arguments but grow increasingly angry. His friends are not happy with him. They want Job to just shut up and listen. Job isn’t very happy with them either. Here we see what Ash calls “the Scheme” in his commentary, and here simply calls it “their system.”

God is in control. ==> God is fair and just. ==> He punishes the wicked and blesses the righteous. ==> Those who suffer must have sinned and is being justly punished (or if I’m blessed it must mean that I’ve been good)

As a result, his friends offer up accusations of great sin. Job, in their view, must be unrepentant because he suffers. They are throwing all kinds of sins against the wall to see what sticks. They are wrong. Their little logical syllogism lacks three important things. First, they have no place for Satan and spiritual warfare. Evil is a purely human phenomenon. Second, there is no waiting. Justice is swift! We don’t reap what we sow instantaneously. Often the righteous wait for vindication. Third, there is no cross and therefore not righteous sufferer or redemption.

Two Marks of a Real Believer

The next chapter covers the same territory but focuses on Job instead of the message of the friend. Ash uncovers two marks which seem to be paradoxical, and against all our instincts regarding religion. He begins by looking at worship. When worship is costly we can see the authenticity. In the midst of Job’s pain we are going to see worship.

The true believer reckons with the problem of pain. He believes that God is in control of this world, and God has control over our suffering. Job, for instance, sees himself as God’s target for practicing archery. He can’t conceive of anyone being able to overpower God to destroy him. Suffering that is undeserved seems to question God’s control or fairness. This can cause those who believe great pain.

Despite thinking that God has been unfair to him, Job longs to bring his cause to God. He fears God and yet wants an audience. He is in pain, but he wants to worship.

Is God for or against Me?

The next chapter covers only one chapter, 19. The marks of a Christian mean that we are marked by pain and prayer. Suffering produces the question: is God for or against me? If he’s for me, the suffering can’t destroy me though it sure may hurt. If he’s against me, than my despair is well-founded.

Ash argues that Job paints the picture of a monster God: one who torments him. Job believes in his innocence so God has no right to pounce on him. Like so many of us who’ve been falsely accused or suffered without an obvious reason, Job wants to be vindicated. God is treating him like he’s guilty.

While God is sovereign, it is not him who struck Job. He didn’t stretch forth his arm against him. He did permit Satan to stretch forth his arm to harm Job.

“The hands and fingers that destroyed Job’s possessions and killed Job’s children and wrecked Job’s health were the hands of Satan, not the hands of God. Certainly this is the hand of Satan acting with the permission of the Lord and within the strict constraints given by the Lord; but it was Satan’s hand and not God’s who actually did these terrible things. And this is very important.”

God does not act with malice toward Job. Satan does! We see the doctrine of concurrence here. God is proving the veracity of Job’s faith while Satan is trying to prove Job a fraud. Job laments because there is a monster attacking him, but it is Satan not YHWH. The Lord is his redeemer, not his destroyer.

This Redeemer will stand on the earth. All Job has (being a Gentile alive during the time of Isaac or Jacob) is the promise of the Seed of the woman. His longing is not misplaced, but there has come a Redeemer who stood on earth and vindicates all who trust in Him.

Why Will God Not Answer My Question?

Ash then focuses on Job 28 and the search for wisdom. The quest for “treasure” is hard and violent, and the search for Wisdom is compared to mining rather than agriculture. Wisdom is both priceless and unobtainable. This inability to obtain Wisdom means that we should bow before God Only Wise who chooses not to tell us all we want to know (Dt. 29:29). He can arrogantly demand such knowledge or humbly bow before Him.

Why Justification Matters Desperately

We have been reminded that God has spoken, just not all we want Him to say. Discipleship begins, Ash notes, by “bowing in humble fear before God” and walking in the way He has shown. Job compares his life before the Catastrophe (29) and life after the Catastrophe (30). He enjoyed God’s blessing and the respect of peers.

“For Job was not just a man who ‘happened’ to be rich and powerful. He was one who imaged and reflected in his life the character of God who had given him riches and power.”

Job utilizes a chaistic structure in these two chapters. a, b, b’, a’. He is now despised by men and God seems to be mad at him. Job hasn’t changed, just his circumstances. Since he hasn’t changed Job can’t understand the radical change in circumstances.

This is why justification matters so much. Does God really hate him? Did God turn on him or there is something else amiss? This is a most important question when our lives take dramatic downturns without any observable reason.

A Surprising New Voice

From out of nowhere we have Elihu who is burning with anger. He’s angry with Job. He’s angry with Job’s friends who can’t seem to answer Job’s self-justification. Ash is unwilling to dismiss his anger as unjustified and indefensible. Elihu is concerned to defend God’s honor rather than Job’s or his own. Ash is convinced that “Elihu speaks by inspiration of the Spirit as a true and prophetic voice.

Elihu accurately summarizes Job’s argument. He believes that God speaks to us in our pain as well. His argument is similar to C.S. Lewis’ argument in the Problem of Pain. Elihu is not relying on the System or Scheme. He argues for a personal God who does what is best to rescue sinners.

The One Who Is God

Ash notes that a BBC story revealed that God is less influential in people’s lives than David Beckham. The reason seems to be that God could stop suffering if He wanted to. The question that haunts the Book of Job is whether or not God is competent to run this world.

God appears to confront Job (and his three friends). He wants Job to answer His questions instead. The questions begin with the natural realm. For a man who can’t control the natural realm, much less bring it into being, Job’s questions seem off. God’s relentless questions begin with the inanimate aspects of creation and shift to the animal kingdom.

The issue of evil remains. What is God’s relationship to evil?

God’s second speech moves to the moral order. He asks, first, if Job can subdue the proud who plague the earth. If Job can, God will admit that he can save himself and God is unnecessary.

It gets more serious when God brings up Behemoth and Leviathan. Yes, it is poetry but attempts to make these normal creatures stretch even poetic license. Ash notes George Bernard Shaw’s scoffing remark that you can’t explain the problem of evil by pointing to a hippopotamus. These creatures represent death (untameable, nearly everywhere, lurking and ever-hungry) and Satan. Only God can tame these creatures. God is addressing the real reason for Job hardship, the Satanic accusations. Satan can do nothing apart from God’s permission, no matter how fearsome he is to us. This monster is still a creature. Satan is God’s enemy, but not His equal. This creature will eventually be defeated, not by brute strength, but by the weakness of the Redeemer who suffers unjustly and comes under the power of death. He will triumph over these spiritual enemies thru the shame of the cross.

The End Comes at the End

Ash now connects Job with James 5 and James’ comments about him. We are to consider Job and live like Job.

Job persevered in warfare. We are not only on the battlefield but are the battlefield. God and Satan were battling over Job. His point is that Job isn’t just suffering but that Job suffers because He is a believer. Job is a righteous sufferer. As those who are given the righteousness of Christ, we are now righteous sufferers. When we suffer, as professing believers, will we still love God? The truly righteous will. We stand, not by our strength, but by the intercession of Jesus.

Job also perseveres in waiting. This is not a passive waiting, but a prayer-filled waiting. His friends were content with their System, Job wanted God.

James reminds us that all this reveals that God is compassionate and merciful. God has the final word. God has humbled Job and restores Job. His final condition would seem to be greater than his previous condition.

“Job does not suffer because he has sinned, as his comforters would have it; but he has sinned (in some things he has said) because of his suffering.”

Not only does Job have a new family and wealth, Job is to pray for his friends. They need his help. They got it all backwards. He found that the grace of God is greater than the suffering we experience. God displays His mercy and compassion in His people, culminating with the return of Christ when we share in His glory.

Ash ends with laying out, very briefly, what we should expect from the “normal” Christian life: warfare, waiting, humbling, justification and blessing in the end.

As Christopher Ash notes this book is primarily about God and then about Job. It reveals a sovereign and free God that we are to worship even when life is painful and makes no sense.

Ash provides us with a concise, understandable explanation of this important book. This is a book well worth having. And reading. It will uncover your heart: do you live by a Scheme or do you want the Living God whose power is made perfect in your weakness? Do you worship Him because He is God or because you get nice things?

20 Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. 21 And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job 1

Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” 10 But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips. Job 2

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