Moral Choices and Maturity (Jul-Aug 2010)

By Matt Dabbs

by Edward Fudge
June 15, 2010

A gracEmail subscriber asks my thoughts concerning his church group whose leaders give detailed “advice” to the members regarding whom they may date, when, how often and so forth. The subscriber sometimes disagrees with such advice, but then he feels guilty and unspiritual.

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Wise Christians will listen to godly counsel from others who demonstrate healthy Christian lives themselves. But spiritual leaders ought not replace one’s own decision-making, and their opinions are no substitute for the believer’s own conscience (Eph. 4:11-15). No one has a right to issue “orders” in God’s name which God has not given, even if the orders are disguised as “advice” (Jer. 23:25, 31-32). It is even worse to foster or impose feelings of guilt on good people who prayerfully choose not to follow such “advice” in matters of personal opinion (Col. 2:20-23).

The Christian is led by the Holy Spirit and is taught by God (John 6:45; 7:37-39; Rom. 8:12-14; 12:1-2; Eph. 5:8-10; Col. 1:9-11). A chief reason why many Christians do not mature as they should is that they permit others to do their “discerning” for them (Eph. 4:22-24). Growth requires exercise as well as nourishment (Heb. 5:12-14). Even God does not treat us like marionettes. It is certainly an offense against Christian dignity for other humans to make us puppets on a string.

If your leaders insist on having such power in your life, I would encourage you to ask God seriously whether you ought to be under their guidance. That kind of “leading” sounds more like a cult than a Christian church and I fear it would finally prove detrimental to your spiritual health. That is all I can say without knowing more details. These are some general principles, which I am confident you can apply to your specific situation — the very thing your own leaders seemingly do not trust you to do.
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Copyright 2010 by Edward Fudge. Permission hereby given to reproduce, reprint or forward this gracEmail without change and without financial profit.


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Profile photo of Matt DabbsThis author published 1579 posts in this site.
Matt is the preaching minister at the Auburn Church of Christ in Auburn, Alabama. He and Missy have been married 12 years and are raising two wonderful boys, Jonah and Elijah. Matt is passionate about reaching and discipling young adults, small groups, and teaching. Matt is currently the editor and co-owner of Wineskins.org.

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