Posted On September 18, 2018

Unintended Consequences

by | Sep 18, 2018 | Sports, Theology

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phone, headphones, and Things Above Us logoIn one of the early releases of iOS 11.0.1, Apple introduced a feature to iPhones called Do Not Disturb While Driving. The reason for this feature is obvious: allow people to drive without the distraction of phone notifications, but give the folks who text the driver a little information to know why they are not getting an immediate response. I have appreciated being on the receiving end of these texts myself.

But I noticed something after enabling this feature on my phone which actually disturbed me. Messages received while I was driving were responded to, but those messages I received were marked as “read.” Due to this, I was not seeing the messages I received while I was driving because I had no idea there was a new message! The unintended consequence of the do not disturb option for me was that I was now missing messages entirely. The problem is that even though this feature allowed me to respond safely while driving, it didn’t take into account everything that I would desire in the app.

Sometimes, in our efforts to fix a problem, we create more problems—or at least an environment where different ones grow—if we don’t properly identify the problem nor attack it correctly (we must lay the axe to the root!). We must be able to properly identify problems to be fixed and go about fixing them with the right mentality, or we will just create new and different problems.

The Tebow Effect

Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Tim Tebow, at one time, may have been the USA’s most famous virgin, at least in the sense that he’s famous for his virginity. Our sex-crazed culture is simply infatuated with the idea of a college and NFL football player who chooses not to be sexually active — even to the point where many despise his choice and would attempt to sabotage it. His reasons for his commitment don’t matter to the watching world — all they hear is “I’m saving intercourse for marriage.”

I remember growing up and, where I was from, ‘virginity’ was the keyword. What I mean is that the understanding and focus on virginity (a good thing) created a different but similar problem, that is:

You could do anything you wanted, as long as you didn’t have intercourse, and still maintain your virginity.

The ensuing problems were evident. Unmarried people had permission to act however they wanted, as long as they didn’t technically have sex. This opened the door for all sorts of wickedness which is inappropriate to mention here. Just be sure that as soon as you give sinners a line to not cross, they will find every way to get as close to it as they can and twist it to suit their iniquitous desires.

The unintended consequence of a virginity-only focus is for lustful people to do everything but lose their virginity, yet still consider themselves to be clean. The problem is that all of these other acts are also sexually immoral, violations of God’s law, and damaging to the individuals and their future marriages!

I Will Show You a Better Way

What if, instead of focusing on virginity, we focused on purity. Rather than focus on what we need to avoid to keep from getting dirty, we focused on what we ought to do and think about to be pure of heart?

The idea is that your problem isn’t solely relegated to keeping yourself unstained from the world. Your mission is that you need to be conformed to the image of Christ. Young people’s problems aren’t solved by showing them how to remain a virgin, their primary need is that they need to be taught to focus on purity.

Philippians 4:8 ESV Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Just as the redemption bought for us by Christ wasn’t only his payment for sin on the cross, but his active obedience to God in all ways, the antidote to sinning is not just “not sinning.” To put it succinctly, Jesus lived a pure life—therefore, we should strive for purity. James reiterates Proverbs 3:27 when he tells us that whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin (James 4:17). There is more to avoiding sexual immorality than just technically remaining a virgin, just as there is more to living a pure life than just avoiding a list of sins.

Pursue purity. Seek it. Think about what is just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, or praiseworthy. Focus on God’s atonement for you provided in Christ and on His perfections. And don’t sell yourself short like those who have kept their virginity, but gave away all other manners of purity.

  • Do not just ‘not steal’ — work hard and give to those in need (James 2:15-16; Eph 4:28).
  • Do not just avoid bad doctrine — put on Christ and learn of Him (Eph 4:15).
  • Do not simply “avoid worldliness” — thrive in the world without being of the world (Phil 2:15;1 John 2:15).
  • And do not rely on Jesus to forgive your sins and pay for them without also trusting in His righteousness as your own (2 Cor 5:21).

God has given us methods in His Word to refocus our thoughts and desires on that which is pure and good. In some cases, it is a permanent redirection from evil. In other cases, it’s to maintain a proper focus while we are waiting for something we cannot righteously have at any given time. We should trust Him and His ways!

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2 Comments

  1. Jeff Mardling

    Thank you again Michael for writing about, and keeping such an important topic, top of mind. As a Dad of three sons all living out, or approaching their teen years, this is something I try to discuss with them regularly. Sadly, I grew up with the line in the sand ideas instead of pursuing and living in purity. God has been extremely gracious and kind as I’ve grown in the Lord, but it’s kept me in prayer for my sons to be Holy as their Father in heaven is Holy and to flee the temptation of sexual immorality – I’ve prayed that since they’ve been in the womb 🙂 Loved your bullet points at the end – may those scriptures and truths wash over our minds and hearts today and continually until we’re called home.
    May I also say; would Christian men not shy away from the topic of sexual immorality and be a mentor to the young men in their lives. Share your wisdom

    • Michael Coughlin

      Amen, brother! Stand firm in the faith. It’s encouraging to see your commitment to helping your sons in this area! Especially the importance of praying for them.