I have a bunch of ideas that have been circulating in my head for a while now, and I have been trying to find some time to write them all down. However, I've been so busy, I just haven't had the time to write about it all. Then my cousin recently told me about this voice to text app that can make things a whole lot easier to get my ideas down on paper, so I've decided to give it a try for the near future. That means that for the foreseeable future, my blog articles are probably going to have a different sort of tone to them, since I'm actually talking them out instead of writing them out. But hopefully that allows me to get more blogs out there since I have taken a hiatus due to our busyness.
Anyway, when we explore the concept of sin, the larger Catechism says that sin is "any want of conformity unto or transgression of any law of God." Is someone who desires to do something which is lacking in conformity to God's law then - even though they don't do that thing - is that still a sin? At least according to those who hold to concupiscence it is, because we are then desiring something that God doesn't want us to desire. Who would say that God wants us to desire something that is antithetical to his will or to his law? Surely he can't want us to desire that which is contrary to him, right? Like I said, on its face, this sounds harsh, but it sounds like it makes a lot of sense. Surely in God's good world we shouldn't have sinful desires. But the big question for us is, "are these desires themselves sin, or are they effects of sin?" I mean, we wouldn't say that someone who has cancer sins by having their bodies lacking in conformity to the way that God wants his world to be. No, cancer is an effect of sin and the curse. We can suffer from the effects of sin without those things being moral actions on our part.
Thinking through this then, I believe that it would be really helpful to look at the life of Jesus and see if there was ever a time in Jesus's life that he desired that which was contrary to God's decree, or God's law, or God's will? And sure enough, I found one. Only one, but one, nevertheless. Maybe there are more, but I came across one that I think is really good. This example comes from the Garden of Gethsemane. Think about the garden. This is right before Jesus goes to the cross. Jesus goes out into the garden and he prays fervently to God. And what does he pray? He prays that God would let the cup pass from him = that God would not call Jesus to go to the cross. Jesus was so fearful or lacking in desire to go to the cross that he sweat drops of blood pleading to God to change his will. Jesus did not want to do his father's will to the extent that he sweat drops of blood praying against it. Jesus's desire to not go to the cross - this thing that he knew was his Father's will, was clearly a desire contrary to God's will. Now, either Jesus is sinless or he has desires which are contrary to God's will, and these aren't sins in and of themselves.
I think with the example of the Garden of Gethsemane, it forces us to choose which of those doctrines we want to hold to: the sinlessness of Christ or concupiscence. To expand on this a little bit more, I think that referring to Augustine's ordering of loves concept would be really helpful here. See, everything in God's world was created good. So for us, desiring pleasure or seeking to avoid pain, those are appropriate things, but they're only appropriate when they're done appropriately, or when they're ordered correctly. I remember from my time student teaching, one of the students that we had - this girl - she would come in disheveled and dirty and didn't look too good each day. Well, my mentor teacher said that her father (he was a single father for some reason), he played World of Warcraft all the time and sold his accounts and everything. He played that game so much that he ordered that love above the love he had for his daughter. He was willing to sacrifice for World of Warcraft and pursue that pleasure as opposed to taking care of his child. Is it wrong to seek pleasure to find happiness in a game, or to play a game sometimes? I don't think so. But when you order that love, which is appropriate in its own right, above this other love which should be higher, that's what we Christians call idolatry. It's a mis-ordering of loves.
I think we see a similar thing with Jesus and concupiscence here. Was it appropriate for Jesus to desire the avoidance of pain, even knowing that God had in store for him this path that led to pain? Sure, that is a completely appropriate desire. But what did Jesus do in response to that desire which was contrary to God's will? He subjugated his subservient desire and properly ordered it. He placed the completion of his Father's will above his own desire, which was contrary to his Father's will. And so, in a sense, Jesus's will was twofold. He had two wills. He had the will to do his Father's will, and he had the will to avoid pain. But what he did with those two wills was he properly ordered the higher will above the lower will. He subjugated that lower will, that contrary will.
I don't see why we can't say the same thing. Isn't true of other desires. Why does having inappropriate sexual desires or urges, urges which are subjugated and which aren't pursued or dwelt upon - why are those sin if they're properly ordered by being subjugated to the law and will of the Creator God? Sure, maybe they are effects of the fall, this fact that we have inappropriate desires. But if we are properly ordering our desires and not acting upon them or not dwelling upon them, not fantasizing about them, then how can they possibly be sin? And if one wants to argue vehemently that these are in fact sins for us, for people who have these inappropriate urges, then are they willing to sacrifice our Savior's sinlessness for the doctrine of concupiscence? I think people in my circles need to drop their bludgeon, which they love to use to oust people from leadership roles because they're uncomfortable with a particular sin and recognize where this doctrine leads us in regard to Christology.