In the contemporary evangelical landscape, a profound debate has emerged regarding the nature of sin, especially as it relates to sexuality. This debate centers on a significant shift in how many modern churches perceive and teach about aberrant sexual desires. A growing number of evangelical congregations and influential leaders have begun to adopt the notion that such desires are not inherently sinful unless acted upon.
This perspective has been influenced by teachings from ministries like Preston Sprinkle’s Center for Faith, Sexuality, and Gender, Nate Collins’ Revoice, and Sam Allberry’s Living Out, which have gained traction in Southern Baptist and Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) circles. These ministries have notably reshaped the narrative around sexuality within the evangelical community, suggesting that homosexual desires can be sublimated and fulfilled in non-sexual ways. This includes advocating for concepts like same-sex celibate partnerships and identities centered on same-sex attraction, diverging from traditional evangelical teachings.
These teachings signify a significant shift from the gospel’s true message by falsely asserting that aberrant sexual desires are not culpable as sin and contradicting the historic orthodox view. The historical perspective holds that such desires are inherently sinful and carry significant implications for both the Christian life and witness.
In the thought-provoking book “The Lust of the Flesh,” Dr. Jared Moore embarks on a rigorous exploration of the doctrine of sin (hamartiology), challenging the contemporary evangelical landscape with a conservative and biblical lens. Moore’s work is a testament to deep scriptural exegesis, as he meticulously interprets passages to argue that same-sex desires are inherently sinful and morally culpable. This assertion is anchored in his detailed analysis of scriptures, particularly Romans 7, where Apostle Paul’s description of his flesh as “sin” is used to emphasize the inherent sinful nature of human desires, including covetousness, deception, and death [page 64].
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Moore aligns with historical theological perspectives, notably drawing upon the views of figures like Calvin and Augustine. He echoes their teachings that fleshly desires in believers are intrinsically sinful, contrary to some modern evangelical interpretations that suggest a degree of leniency or reinterpretation of these desires [pages 113, 141, 102]. Moore goes to great lengths to demonstrate unequivocally that this view has been the prevailing view of the Church throughout history.
In his book, Dr. Jared Moore presents a compelling argument against the concept of sublimation, particularly as it relates to sinful desires. According to Moore, sublimation is the idea that sinful desires, especially those pertaining to sexuality, can be redirected or transformed into something holy or non-sinful. He critically examines this concept, primarily focusing on same-sex attraction, and argues against the notion that such desires can be reoriented towards holiness without the need for repentance [pages 146, 147, 17, 18].
Moore identifies several contemporary evangelical figures and ministries that advocate for various forms of sublimation. For instance, he cites teachings from the likes of Nate Collins’ Revoice and other like-minded organizations, which suggest that same-sex attraction, while not acted upon sexually, can find fulfillment in non-sexual, same-sex partnerships or in celibate lifestyles. These teachings, Moore argues, misconstrue the nature of sin by implying that the mere presence of sinful desires, so long as they are not physically enacted, is acceptable [pages 165, 173, 174].
However, Moore refutes these ideas by emphasizing the need for repentance and a turning towards the Spirit, challenging the notion that there can be a holy rechanneling of inherently sinful desires. He argues that the only biblically sound response to sinful inclinations, including those related to sexuality, is repentance and a commitment to live in accordance with the Spirit’s guidance.
Moore also presents a critical view on the concept of sexual orientation, arguing that the popular understanding of sexual orientation as an “enduring emotional, romantic, or sexual attraction” is problematic, particularly from a biblical perspective. Moore argues that this definition removes moral responsibility for one’s desires, promoting a view of individuals as victims of their orientations and thus not culpable for their lustful inclinations [pages 21, 22].
Moore also challenges the idea that sexual orientation is morally neutral and can be sublimated into holiness. He specifically refutes teachings by people like Wesley Hill and Nate Collins, who suggest a distinction between same-sex attraction and same-sex sexual attraction. These teachings propose that while same-sex sexual attraction should be rejected, same-sex attraction itself can be redirected towards non-sexual, holy purposes, such as same-sex celibate friendships or other forms of non-sexual intimacy [pages 17, 18, 148, 149].
This perspective, according to Moore, fails to recognize the inherently sinful nature of such desires, irrespective of whether they are acted upon. He emphasizes that any form of sexual attraction outside the bounds of heterosexual marriage is sinful, challenging the notion that sexual orientation can be a neutral or even positive aspect of one’s identity when it involves aberrant desires. Again, Moore’s view is that the only biblically faithful response to such inclinations is repentance and alignment with God’s design for sexuality, as outlined in Scripture [pages 57, 58, 61, 150].
Dr. Moore goes far beyond mere academic discussion to offer a forceful critique of the current evangelical zeitgeist, particularly in its approach to sin and sexuality. His steadfast commitment to traditional scriptural interpretations sets his work apart, confronting the mainstream evangelical inclination to understate the gravity and consequences of sin. This stance is especially pronounced in his exploration of the nature of sin, including its role in sexual ethics, where he juxtaposes his views with the more permissive or culturally conforming teachings prevalent in evangelical circles [pages 14, 70].
Moore delves into the concept of temptation, providing a straightforward understanding that challenges common evangelical perceptions. He argues that temptation itself, particularly in the realm of sexual desire, should be understood not merely as a benign inclination but as a significant moral issue requiring active resistance and spiritual vigilance. Moore’s perspective is a return to the historic orthodox view—a departure from the more modern view which tends to treat temptation as a neutral or less critical aspect of the Christian experience, so long as it is not acted upon. Moore’s examination of temptation thus reinforces his broader argument about the necessity of recognizing and confronting the full scope and seriousness of sin in all its forms, especially those pertaining to sexuality.
This comprehensive approach to the scriptural teachings on sin and temptation demonstrates the importance of maintaining doctrinal integrity and biblical fidelity in the face of cultural shifts and evolving societal norms. Moore’s work serves as a much-needed reminder of the enduring relevance and authority of Scripture in guiding ethical and moral decisions within the Christian faith.
The book is also notable for its confident and direct tone, effectively communicating complex theological concepts in an accessible and compelling manner. It serves as a critique and a guide, offering clarity on the true nature of temptation, sin, and holiness in the context of a modern culture. Moore’s commitment to biblical integrity makes “The Lust of the Flesh” a bold and significant contribution to contemporary theological discussions, particularly in the realm of evangelical thought and practice.
In essence, “The Lust of the Flesh” by Dr. Jared Moore is a compelling, thoroughly researched work that confronts and challenges the prevalent understandings of sin within the modern evangelical context. With its robust scriptural analysis and adherence to historical theological perspectives, the book provides a critical examination of contemporary discussions on hamartiology, standing as a resolute voice for biblical doctrine amidst a culture often in conflict with traditional Christian values, and I highly recommend reading it.