When Christian Morality is a forgotten discipline.
Readership: All; Men; Single Men;
Theme: Faux-Masculine Archetypes
Reader’s Note: Excerpts from J. M. Smith’s essay are in quotes.
Length: 1,400 words
Reading Time: 5 minutes
Upon first tackling a study of this archetype, I found it very difficult to describe in plain concise words. Although the outward behaviors are rather clearly self-evident, the deeper nature, mental cognitions, and motivations of this archetype are not.
Then I came across an incisive description of the Decadent Christian written by J. M. Smith over at The Orthosphere, The Disease of Decadent Christianity (2022-4-29), in which he identifies two kinds of Decadent Christianity.
“…history has shown that Christianity is subject to two fatal perversions, antinomianism and what Nietzsche called ressentiment.”
To clearly articulate the decadent Christian, Smith uses the concepts of antinomianism and ressentiment (to be explained later). Upon further examination of these descriptions, and pondering on my own experiences, I’ve found that there are three different types of decadent Christians.
- The Hedonist (described by antinomianism).
- The Anarchist (described by ressentimentalism*).
- The Legalist (described by legalism)
So this post will describe the antinomianist* / hedonist, and the next post will cover the ressentimentalist* / anarchist. Later I’ll study the Pharisaical legalist. I’ll cite key excerpts of J. M. Smith’s article in this description.
* Suffixes are used to form different inflexions.
The Antinomian is a type of nominal Christian who hardly lives any differently from his worldly peers, and therefore engages in casual drug use, consuming pornography, drunkenness, engaging in fornication, extramarital sex, hard partying and carousing, and other forms of licentious dissipation.
It should be noted that Antinomians who call themselves Christians would hardly ever identify themselves as Antinomians or even hedonists. They even might be hesitant to call themselves Christians outside of church.
However, church-going Antimonianists who are familiar with the scriptures have been known to distort the meaning of “Christian freedom” and “spiritual liberty” to justify such a lifestyle. J. M. Smith describes this concisely as follows.
“Antinomianism is, of course, the false doctrine that the blood of Christ effectively abolishes the moral law for those who are saved, and that “Christian freedom” is therefore a boundless license to do just as the born again please. This doctrine especially prospers among passionate peoples in whom the moral law is weak or altogether absent, but one must admit that it is powerfully fertilized by such Christian notions as election, assurance, and the conviction that one is “saved.”
J. M. Smith quotes two classical authors to describe the internal motivations of the Antinomianist.
[In Lanterns on the Levee: Recollections of a Planter’s Son (1941), the author, William Alexander Percy,] explains the antinomianism of many American Christians by relating a conversation he had with a clergyman in Mississippi.
“I asked a clergyman recently why it was that so many prominent church-goers were crooks in business and hypocrites in private life. He replied: ‘They have been born again.’
This clarified nothing for me and I told him as much. He explained sadly: “When they are born again, they are certain of salvation, and when you are certain of salvation you may do as you like.’
But I urged horrified, ‘People don’t really believe that!’
‘Hundreds of thousands of them,’ he rejoined, obviously as grieved as I. ‘The ethics of Jesus do not interest them when their rebirth guarantees them salvation.’”
One of the ironies of the Christian experience is that coming closer to God opens the innermost places in one’s heart, thereby revealing one’s sin and other destructive and unethical behaviors (viz. transgressions). In fact, this is a fundamental element of the full confession of sin and salvation. After this spiritual awakening, it takes time for a person to learn and grow into a mature and ethical Christ-like Christian who is capable of discernment and exercising moral agency.
However, what we often see is that many Christians prefer to indulge themselves in the grace of God for as long as they can get away with it, and do not take the command to be obedient very seriously. This of course, leads others to doubt the eternal value of God’s love and grace, and to even blaspheme the Gospel, Christianity, and/or the nature of salvation.
“Antinomianism is a doctrine of decadent Christianity — [In A Sketch of the Denominations of the Christian World (1808), the perceptive author, John Evans,] says it is “nothing more than Calvinism run to seed” — and I will be the first to admit that it is by such means that decadent Christianity accelerates decadence in the wider culture.”
In summary, the emotional liberation of living by faith, combined with the rational justification of being “saved”, empowers one to approach life with liberal ethics and laissez faire morality. This potent cocktail of faith and fun has the strong effect of encouraging rampant sin in the wider community and culture.
Among non-Christians, hedonism is the norm, especially for younger people. Motivations include…
- FOMO and YOLO
- Avoiding responsibilities
- Building rapport among peers
- The excitement and fun of it all
- Being socially accepted and included
- Evading a deeper awareness of one’s self which is often painful
In addition to the above motivations, I will venture to guess that the preponderant cause of antinomian sentiments among Christians is because of spiritual immaturity. More precisely, it is because of an incomplete and/or unbalanced discernment. There is a discernment of life, joy, and social relevancy, and even grace and mercy for one’s self, but yet, there is no discernment of any of the following.
- One’s purpose for living.
- The need for self-discipline.
- That poor choices carry consequences.
- How one’s sin affects others who are weaker in faith.
- How every choice carries a cost of opportunity in life.
- That one is not only accountable to one’s self, but also to God.
- How one’s choices and behaviors affect one’s spiritual condition.
J. M. Smith notes that this the difference between fear-obedience and love-obedience.
“An antinomian is like a child who outgrows fear-obedience without growing into love-obedience.”
In summary, Antinomianism has several major confounding issues.
- Freewheeling faith augments and exacerbates the rip-roaring rollicking of the surrounding social group.
- Sin and dissipation is encouraged and perpetuated by the wider secular culture which promotes and never censures certain sins and therefore never presents an opportunity for repentance.
- The Antimonianist is blind to all of this. The continual indulgences in self-gratifying sinful behaviors promulgate a lack of discernment, thereby preventing one from becoming further aware of the incongruencies between sin and faith.
- This lenient and permissive attitude towards sin and dissipation creates a spiritual state in which one’s spiritual growth, and that of others too, is hampered by said sin.
- The combination of the above issues, in conjunction with the added opportunities provided by faith and the psychological support offered by an errant scriptural justification, then leads to a condition in which the Antimonian lifestyle becomes a self-reinforcing cycle or stronghold.
- The overall message of J. M. Smith’s article is that Antinomian / hedonistic types of nominal Christians give Christianity a bad name and reputation. I’ll add that it also detracts from the message of the Gospel and repels those with a moral conscience. In the extreme, it can lead others to blaspheme the name of Christ and Christianity as evil and immoral.
Strength: 4-8 and decreases with age
Authority: Varies by individual
Respect: Depends on peer group
Average Score: 4
Although it has not been labeled as antinomianism, we’ve covered the problem of poor discernment many times before here on Σ Frame with an emphasis on sexual sin (adultery, fornication, lust, masturbation, p0rn, withholding, etc.), since these are, by far, the most prevalent and damaging sins. The theme for September 2021, The Maturity of Faith, covered discernment and spiritual growth in detail.
- Σ Frame (Jack): Why is illicit sex so enticing, and so prevalent? (2019-5-25)
- Σ Frame (Jack): The Parable of the Pressure Cooker (2019-6-7)
- Σ Frame (Jack): On the Concept of Sin and the need for Marriage (2020-4-24)
- Σ Frame (NovaSeeker): Viewpoints on Man’s Confusion about How God Works in the Life of a Believer (2021-3-29)
- Σ Frame (NovaSeeker): The Noetic Nose Knows (2021-9-6)
- Σ Frame (Jack): Elements of Spiritual Maturity (2021-9-15)
- Σ Frame (Jack): Dealing with Discernment (2021-9-17)
- Σ Frame (Jack): On the Discernment of Desire (2021-9-24)
- Σ Frame (Jack): Developing Discernment (2021-9-27)
- Σ Frame (Jack): Knowing One’s Self (2021-10-30)
- Σ Frame (Jack): Women have sex to influence men (2021-11-10)
- Σ Frame (Red Pill Apostle): Denying sex to one’s spouse is porneia. (2022-1-26)
- Σ Frame (Jack): The Young Man’s Problem (2022-2-4)
- Σ Frame (Jack): Unlucky in Love? (2022-3-9)
- Σ Frame (Jack): A Clarification on Fornication (2022-4-16)