Are You a Good Little Christian?

Are You a Good Little Christian

In a recent reader survey, I asked the question, What is one thing you would change about Visionary Womanhood? One of the answers jumped out at me and got my mind and heart stirring. It brought up such a major issue in my personal life – so I want to talk about it a little bit because I don’t think I’m the only one who has been confused about this.

Here’s the answer:

I really enjoy your blog, however, I feel that you are beginning to lean too far towards antinomianism, with too much emphasis on “authenticity” etc. I do not not believe you are totally on board with this, but in the last month or so, it has started to sound like you are. I hope that is not your intent.

I think the first thing we need to do is define our terms. What is antinomianism? defines it this way:

Antinomianism: a person who maintains that Christians are freed from the moral law by virtue of grace as set forth in the gospel.

I take that to mean, in practical (and very simple, I realize) terms, that since I am a Christian, and I’ve got my ticket to heaven, I can live however I want. The only thing that matters is that I’m trusting Jesus to save my sinful little hide.

How about an example of how this bears out, practically, in real life? Years ago I knew of a Christian engaged couple  fornicating and openly admitting it, saying “God’s grace covers all sin – so even if we are sinning – it’s all good.” They were gently corrected and shown a better way, and to my knowledge, they responded with humility.

So let’s look at fornication for example. It’s blatantly forbidden in several places in Scripture, and there are tragic, natural consequences that play out in relationships when we dismiss this moral law. We see examples of this throughout the Bible. It’s one of the Top Ten for, I’m guessing, a few good reasons.

In other words, fornication is one of the “black and whites” of the Bible. When we behave like animals with a person of the same sex, God calls it sodomy. With another animal? Bestiality. When we kill another person made in the image of God, we murder. Lying is “bearing false witness.” Never good for building healthy, happy relationships.

And then there are ones that we Wemmicks call “nice sins” but that are similarly destructive to our lives and relationships. What about half-truths? Exaggeration? Gossip and slander of others? Refusal to take responsibility for our own “stuff?” What about secretly looking down on someone in our hearts? See? None of us is exempt from violating moral law. We all sin multiple times every single day.

But if a person subscribes to antinomianism, they believe that violating Scriptural moral law is not an issue for the Christian. Grace covers it, by George – so no worries. Along with their common sense, they also discard Romans 6:1, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?”

It’s sort of like, “Thank you JESUS for shedding Your blood so I am free to look at porn with impunity! It’s QUITE A DEAL, and by golly, I appreciate that! Nobody can accuse ME of not being grateful! Pass me my computer.”

So, all of that to say that, no, I do not subscribe to antinomianism. I do not believe that Jesus set us free from living according to God’s moral law. He fulfilled that moral law and took our punishment for violating it. But that doesn’t mean Christians can dismiss it. To obey it is to live in freedom and joy within its loving boundaries. It’s like saying that Jesus jumped over the cliff so we could jump over the cliff too. No. He jumped over the cliff so we could safely stay on the mountain.

The word “authenticity” was used in relation to antinomianism. I’m not exactly sure what she was getting at there, but I thought we should look at what “authentic” means -and talk about whether or not that is a good thing.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary:

Authentic: real or genuine : not copied or false : true and accurate.

That sounds like Jesus to me. That sounds like God’s Word. That sounds like something a healthy Christian would desire to be. I sincerely hope that we are all pursuing authenticity in our relationships and responsibilities.

Could the confusion lie in the fact that sometimes we think if the world takes a word and uses it – that it no longer belongs to God? I say – take the word back. It means what it means. Just because psychology uses that word a lot (it is a good word, after all) doesn’t then make it forbidden to believers. We, of all Wemmicks, should be using good words MORE – don’t you think?

To wrap this up, I’d like to take a stab at what I THINK this reader meant when she said she thought I might be straying too far into the fields of antinomianism. Because I think I know what she was really getting at.

About six years ago I got a letter from someone close to me which basically informed me that I was a judgmental, arrogant, insensitive, rude person. I was a month away from giving birth to my seventh child, and I had had two miscarriages the year before – so I was already a basket case. I didn’t sleep for three days and three nights. I think I cried almost non-stop. I was devastated.

Many of the things in the letter were misinterpretations of things that had happened, and I knew nothing I could say would clear those things up. Other things were true! Though I thought I did a good job of hiding my superior attitude toward others, the ones closest to me could see right through my facade.

The fact is – I WAS judgmental. I WAS arrogant. I WAS insensitive. And, at times, I WAS rude. Part of my angst was having to face the monster inside, and it wasn’t pretty.

This post is getting too long, and as I’m writing, I’m realizing there is so much more to share about this, so I’ll make this a two-poster post. Go HERE if you want to know what had to happen in order to slay this dragon. It put up a big, five-year fight. There was blood – oh yes.

And in some ways, I’m still fighting.

Natalie Klejwa is a Wemmick, loved by the Woodcarver, wife of 22 years to Joe, and mother to 9 Wemmicks ages 2-20. She is a business owner (Apple Valley Natural Soap), founder and administrator of the Visionary Womanhood blog, publisher and contributing author of Three Decades of Fertility, You Can Do it Too! 25 Families Share Their Stories, and The Heart of Simplicity: Foundations for Christian Homemaking.

You can hear her being interviewed on Kevin Swanson's Generations with Vision radio program.

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15 thoughts on “Are You a Good Little Christian?

  1. Natalie, I’ve only been a subscriber for the last several months, but in that time, I have never felt that you were condescending or anything but genuine. Reading your posts has encouraged me and convicted me to deepen my walk with Christ.

    • That encourages me, Shelly. Sometimes we can’t see any visible growth for a long time, and then suddenly there is a tiny shoot springing up along with joy in knowing that God promised to finish what He started. I’m grateful to Him and to my sisters in Christ for their patience and kindness – and pray we will all continue to grow in His grace and flourish in His love despite our circumstances.

  2. Ahhh! The monster inside. I have a similar one that I have been fighting. Sanctification is a life-long process, not completed until death. The important thing is that we are opening our eyes to the monsters inside us and fighting them with the help of the great dragon-slayer. I grew up as the good little Christian, following all the rules, put forth as a good example. But oh how I struggled inside! I vacillated between arrogance and self-loathing. I was so good by the rules of my church, but my heart was evil. God has done much in me, but I still struggle with some of the same issues, though to a lesser degree these days. We all struggle with some sin issue(s). My particular issues happen to be self-centeredness, pride, etc. I know others who struggle with sexual issues, gluttony, etc. We all struggle. We need to acknowledge our struggle, face our sin issues for what they are (offenses against a holy God), seek forgiveness, and keep fighting the good fight. I was faced with my own sin this past weekend as our family hosted a family that is struggling with pornography, verbal abuse, etc. I found myself feeling superior and thinking hateful thoughts. The Holy Spirit convicted me and showed me that my critical, condemning attitude is no less sinful than this man’s struggle with pornography and prostitution. Ouch! Okay, I have just rambled way too much when my original intended point was that you have never seemed to me to lean toward antinomianism. I appreciate your authenticity. You always challenge and inspire me in my journey toward Christlikeness.

    • grew up as the good little Christian, following all the rules, put forth as a good example. But oh how I struggled inside! I vacillated between arrogance and self-loathing.” I can relate…

  3. Good words, sister. It is so important to have a definition of sin so we know what we are talking about. If as Saint John says, sin is lawlessness, then the law defines sin. Anyone who wants clarity about what the 10 commandments actually teach and forbid can google for The Westminster Larger Catechism and see questions 91 to 148. If you are having doubts about whether you really need a Savior, it will remove them quickly.

  4. Your title totally caught my eye because our family regularly goes to the downtown area of our city in CO to purposefully share the Gospel through tracts, conversations, and open air preaching. None of us can ever be good of our own accord (Romans 3:12), even Jesus said so (Matthew 19:17) and you explained that very well. I appreciate your honesty and humility in describing your struggle with sin; it is unfortunately a very rare conversation among church members in our country. :( I look forward to reading the rest!

  5. Thank you, Natalie, for being transparent about the harsh realities you have had to face about yourself in the process of sanctification. As a fellow Wemmick, I have always found authenticity & transparency to be such endearing qualities. My husband is a pastor of a small rural church that, as we have come to discover, has a lot of issues (traditionalism being a big one). I remember when I realized, from a comment made in Sunday school, that the people did not want a pastor who was “transparent” but rather someone they could place on a pedestal. I gathered that they expected the same of me. I realized that it explained why they were so taken aback when my hubby mentioned struggling with pride during prayer requests a couple of times. I think, perhaps, that it makes them uncomfortable when someone is authentic, because it prompts them to examine themselves. Just as your authenticity prompts me to examine myself. I appreciate that. Keep it up!

    • Interesting. I think I’ve been fortunate (blessed) to know many people personally who have modeled that for me. I’m certain God will use you and your husband to model that for the folks in your church! I pray it bears a good fruit there!

  6. I loved your example of the wrong kind of “grace covers it all so I can sin” story. Some antinomian accusers are very uncomfortable with the idea that Jesus blood really does cover all. This is because for them rules are what make you obey God and no rules/laws, commands, etc. automatically means you will live a horrid sin filled life.
    While Satan and our flesh can trick us into closing our eyes and saying “I can do this… the blood covered it.” It isn’t really true. We are covered but at the expense of the horrible sufferings of our Savior. The truly redeemed also have the Holy Spirit and He doesn’t let you play in the distant land for very long without some heavy conviction.
    What “makes” us obey isn’t lists of do and don’t it is supposed to be our love and gratitude. I do not try to be good because I an afraid of God will punish me. I want to be good because He was good to me when I did not/do not deserve it.
    If that is antinomian so be it. Thankfully it is not. Looking forward to more on the topic.