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6/16/2007                                                                                       View Comments

Paradoxic Christian ideas about free will

By Dave, the WM

Though by no means the only understanding of soteriological free will, the overwhelmingly popular view expressed by Christians visiting this site is that all humans are free to choose or reject God's offer of salvation. If people freely and sincerely choose God's generous offer to save them, then HE will. If people freely reject God's loving gesture, then they will suffer everlasting horror.

On the flip side of this interesting "truth" is the belief that once a person accepts God's offer of unconditional love and acceptance, there is no way the person can ever change his or her mind about it. In other words, once a "True Christian™," always a "True Christian™." This is expressed in the frequently repeated mantra, "There is no such thing as an ex-Christian."

In a nutshell, what these Christians believe is that people have free will before salvation and are robbed of free will after acquiring salvation. Salvation is a free choice, but once chosen, it can never be unchosen. If these Christians are correct, most of us here have absolutely nothing to worry about. If our salvation experience was sincere, if we followed the correct formula, if our lives were centered on Jesus, if we demonstrated the fruits and gifts of the Holy Spirit, then we were genuinely saved. If we have permitted doubts and discouragements to overwhelm our faith, if we have elevated reason above emotion, then although we proclaim from the housetops our current apostasy, it matters not one bit. We are saddled with salvation, bereft of free will, and destined to an eternity of blissful fellowship with the saints of old in God's magnificent ever after.

Free will is heralded by these particular Christians as inviolate by even God. "God will not violate your free will." "God doesn't want robots, so HE has given everyone free will, and he will not overrule your free will." These and similar statements choke this site and message boards all over the Internet. We've all heard some variation of this concept hundreds, or perhaps thousands of times.

But how did Christians come by these ideas about free will in regards to salvation?

Pelagius was a contemporary of St. Augustine in the late Fourth Century. Pelagius held that people were free moral agents and therefore possessed the ability to choose to do good or evil. Augustine, however, maintained that people were morally corrupt from original sin and incapable of doing any moral good. Since choosing God's salvation is by far the highest and best good, Augustine, vehemently denounced Pelagian teachings, maintained that Baptism was necessary for salvation, that infants who die without baptism go to hell. Pelagius preached what most Christians today believe: people are free to choose or reject salvation. Augustine eventually succeeded in having all traces of Pelagius and his teachings expunged from Christian thought. Those who dared to adopt Pelagian doctrine were dubbed heretics and persecuted out of existence.

Most Christians are completely ignorant of this tidbit from Christian history. Most Christians have no idea that it was around this same time period that a majority vote decided which writings would constitute scripture, that the doctrine of the Trinity was made a mandatory belief, that the dual human/divine nature of Jesus further evolved, and a host of other ideas were grafted into the list of required foundational Christian tenets. In fact, those who denied the concept of the Trinity were persecuted as viciously as those who promoted free will. But that's another subject.

Flash forward 1,000 years

By now, the Catholic Church had softened it's stance on free will, swinging quite close to Pelagian thinking. Original sin was still a cardinal doctrine, but all but a few Augustinian Catholics now believed people could freely choose salvation. They also believed one could freely loose salvation as well. In this they were at least consistent. If salvation depends on human choice, then human choice is certainly required to maintain salvation, right?

The Protestant Reformation rose up in stark opposition to the perceived apostasy of established church. One of the basic and most foundational teachings of all the early reformers was that human beings are hopelessly dead in sin, and the dead cannot choose salvation. Those who become Christians are "Elect before the foundation of the world." In short, all the reformers believed people could neither choose to be saved, nor could they choose to be unsaved. All of salvation was completely dependent on the grace of God. Those whom God chose to salvation were regenerated, after which they would respond to that regeneration by repenting of sin, confessing faith in Christ, and living a Christian life.

Catholics by now had abandoned their roots, believing that salvation depends on the person. Salvation was viewed as a cooperative effort between man and God. Man moves toward God and God moves toward man. The reformers rejected this notion. Salvation was by grace alone, they shouted. There is nothing a person could do to earn or acquire salvation, they insisted. If God didn't move on a person and unconditionally regenerate the person, there would be no way for that person to "choose God" and be saved.

Reformation doctrine coalesced into the Five Points of Calvinism:
  • Total depravity (or total inability): As a consequence of the fall of man, every person born into the world is enslaved to the service of sin. According to the view, people are not by nature inclined to love God with their whole heart, mind, or strength, but rather all are inclined to serve their own interests over those of their neighbor and to reject the rule of God. Thus, all people by their own faculties are morally unable to choose to follow God and be saved because they are unwilling to do so out of the necessity of their own natures. (The term "total" in this context refers to sin affecting every part of a person, not that every person is as evil as possible.)
  • Unconditional election: God's choice from eternity of those whom he will bring to himself is not based on foreseen virtue, merit, or faith in those people. Rather, it is unconditionally grounded in God's mercy.
  • Limited atonement (or particular redemption or definite atonement): The death of Christ actually takes away the penalty of sins of those on whom God has chosen to have mercy. It is "limited" to taking away the sins of the elect, not of all humanity, and it is "definite" and "particular" because atonement is certain for those particular persons.
  • Irresistible grace (or efficacious grace): The saving grace of God is effectually applied to those whom he has determined to save (the elect) and, in God's timing, overcomes their resistance to obeying the call of the gospel, bringing them to a saving faith in Christ.
  • Perseverance of the saints (or preservation of the saints): Any person who has once been truly saved from damnation must necessarily persevere and cannot later be condemned. The word saints is used in the sense in which it is used in the Bible to refer to all who are set apart by God, not in the technical sense of one who is exceptionally holy, canonized, or in heaven.
—From Wikipedia

In short, the Reformers were preaching that there is no free will in regards to salvation.

Jacobus Arminius, born toward the end of Calvin's life, saw things differently. He held to these beliefs:
  • Humans are naturally unable to make any effort towards salvation
  • Salvation is possible by grace alone
  • Works of human effort cannot cause or contribute to salvation
  • God's election is conditional on faith in Jesus
  • Jesus' atonement was for all people
  • God allows his grace to be resisted by those unwilling to believe
  • Salvation can be lost, as continued salvation is conditional upon continued faith
— From Wikipedia

Arminian doctrine was considered by Protestant Christianity as a return to the apostasy of the Roman Catholic Church. Those who supported Arminian thought were persecuted mercilessly, and for the most part, driven to extinction. Calvin had Michael Servetus burned at the stake for disagreeing with Calvinistic doctrine.

Most Evangelical Christians today are Arminian believers, though they probably don't know it. The only point of contention most would have would be with the "Salvation can be lost" idea. Methodists and nearly all Pentecostal denominations are fully Arminian in doctrine and belief. They teach people can freely choose to lose salvation after being saved. Those from a more Baptist heritage are Arminian except for the losing the salvation idea. Only here do they cling to old John Calvin's idea of perseverance of the saints, now watered down to "Once saved, always saved."

Verses supporting and contradicting all of these ideas can be gleaned out of the Bible. And some Christians today are still arguing regarding the "free will question." There is no real agreement on this topic, just a general ignorance and malaise in the majority of the Christian population. Most believers just blindly accept what they hear from the pulpit, and if and when they do read the Bible, the ideas in their book are filtered through what they've been repeatedly taught. Some see free will. Others see no free will.

But those who see free will before salvation and no free will after salvation are the most interesting of all, to me. And what most Christians don't realize is that nearly no Christians before the mid 1800s believed this way. Jonathan Edwards, George Whitfield and Charles Spurgeon were full Five Point Calvinists. John Wesley was a full Arminian believer. Not until Dwight Moody arbitrarily synchronized the two ideas did Christians believe what nearly all Evangelicals now believe about being able to freely choose salvation, and yet losing free will once salvation is granted.

When I began to comprehend the confused complexity of the history behind the development of my "beliefs," and how I had been programed to "see" certain beliefs supported in highlighted select Bible verses, and trained to bypass other conflicting verses, that's when I realized something about free will: I do have free will when it comes to accepting or rejecting screwy religious notions about reality. And, I soon found out that there is such a thing as an ex-Christian.

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32 comments:

Lynn said...

Nicely done! I always get a kick out of Calvinists who maintain that in spite of God's IRRESISTIBLE grace and unconditional election, people are free actors, not puppets. Seems like you can't say no to irresistible grace. Also, you'd think that God, the prime mover, the supreme being and divine hoo-ha would have better things to do than rig the game in advance, plan ahead of time to pick the saved before the fall happens, then sit back and watch while they respond to his irresistible grace while the billions of others roast forever in hell, because god did not choose them. I mean, where's the fun? This is the supreme being, can't he come up with something more interesting than a predetermined, oh yeah, PREDESTINED set of events.? And no wonder Calvinists are such crappy parents, their role model is a capricious being who can ignore the torture of billions.

Little Tim said...

Thank you for sharing your insights with us.

Little Tim said...

Dave wrote...

Thanks to John Calvin, Arminus was eventually burned at the stake as a heretic.

What are your sources for this? According to the information I was able to find, Arminius was not burned at the stake but died from pulmonary tuberculosis. See the following links:

Jacobus Arminius
James Arminius: A Sketch of His LifeArminius

Dee said...

This historical lesson was excellent. You show you clearly know this subject.
I have one question. Were there not two different paths from the Reformation? My understanding was that Martin Luther not only spawned Lutheranism but that the Wesley brothers in England took some of his thinking and founded Methodism. I was led to believe that this side of the Reformation was more Armianist in their beliefs. Now...John Calvin is another story all together. He was one who believed in predestination, etc., as well as infant baptism. In fact, I believe that he had the head of an Anabaptist lopped off because they didn't believe in infant baptism. Or, am I mistaken? I am getting old and gray.
Thanks
Dee

scottnogod said...

Dee, Luther was a devout predestinationist. His book Bondage of the will, argues strongly against free will in salvation. Welsey didn't come on the scene for quite some generations after ( And even at that time his belief in free will was considered by most protestants as heresy. At the time of the reformation and for many years after,All protestant churches were strictly calvinist and believed it to be the cornerstone of protestant belief on salvation.

scottnogod said...

Also the anabaptists were the only protestants to reject infant baptism.
Wesly believed in infant baptism as did luther. Most Baptists were calvinist. Calvinism was the norm in baptist circles until the second half of the twentieth century

Aspentroll said...

Thank Thor we live in a time when we can make up our minds about things we believe. It must have have been a bitch to have to cow tow to all these pushy people and end up going to a weiner roast as the weiner.
HMM, wait a minute we still have to don't we?

nm156 said...

Interesting post on free will. I actually was not really aware of some of the historic aspects and variations in the belief among Christians. It seems like it has a tendency to get pretty hairy in the theology.

Having been raised a Catholic, I was taught and believed that we really do have free will. My thoughts have changed a bit.
I believe we do not really have free will, at least in the context of whether we can choose God or not.
If we choose to follow and believe in God (not to mention performing certain acts of piety or subscribing to a host of other questionable beliefs, depending of course on one's particular denomination) we will be saved.
Choose not to believe, or just happen to be born in a non-Christian part of the world, and you will spend an eternity in a fiery pit filled with unimagineable horrors.
The price for this supposed choice potentially comes at a steep price; and an eternal one at that, and thus I cannot consider it a choice at all, since not one person of sound mental state would choose to be tortured forever.
I am not sure if my thoughts are entirely reasonable, but this makes sense to me.

To me, true free will is consequence-free; I can choose to eat an apple or I can choose to eat a banana, or I can choose to eat nothing and instead take a walk in the park or do any other sort of activity. There are no eternal implications either way I choose.

fjell said...

How very telling that the church's worst nightmare turns out to be nothing more than an investigation of the historical adolescence of their own of beliefs.

Makes you wish more of them took the time to do the investigating themselves.

How ironic that the atheist is the one who often has to tell a Christian why they believe what they do.

fjell

Dave. You rock in a thousand ways.

.:webmaster:. said...

Tim,

You are correct. I wrote this from memory this morning and I was thinking of Michael Servetus. I corrected it in the article above.

Thanks.

Onanite said...

There is no such thing as freewill. God, (according to Christian dogma) is omnipotent. He/it know the beginning from the end, so we are all predestine for our path in life.

Enough said.... we will all be saved or damned.

Onanite

Anonymous said...

Your post outlines why I am considering deconverting. Only a cruel and arbitrary god would choose winners and losers ie predestination. And what kind of loving father would allow his children to choose eternal misery? Unfortunately, I haven't found the guts to leave the church and its schizo ideas.

Telmi said...

Dave,

I would like to know whether I need to seek prior permission for using material from this website - for example, the postings that appear. I am writing a thesis about God/religion and am thinking of incorporating in a separate chapter stories from people who have left their faith and stories of sexual and other crimes committed by people from the clergy or people supposedly religious; anything used will be on verbatim basis, with appropriate attribution [name of writer as provided, date of posting, URL ref]. Comments relative to the opening post may also be incorporated, on a selective basis.

Jim Arvo said...

Anonymous,

In my opinion, you have already attained the most essential benefit of "deconversion"--that is the freedom to think heretical thoughts if you so choose. Thus, you've granted yourself the ability to think things through and test them, rather than bringing "every thought into captivity". I know that the rest of the journey can be extraordinarily difficult as well (e.g. leaving the church, inevitably losing friends), but there are many here who can relate and lend advice. Best of luck to you. Hope you stick around.

Dave, that was a great piece. I had never taken the time to sift through the various reformation movements to that extent, so I appreciate the concise synopsis. What a tangled web Christianity is! It's astonishing how many believers think their beliefs are somehow in accord with the "first Christians". Most are completely unaware of how many layers of theological interpretation (to put it politely) separate them.

John Doe said...

For anyone interested in the truth about faith\salvation and whether their will has any part in it, please take note of the bolded sections below.


"Faith is the supernatural virtue which is necessary for salvation. It is a free gift of God and is accessible to all who humbly seek it. The act of faith is a human act, that is, an act of the intellect of a person - prompted by the will moved by God - who freely assents to divine truth. Faith is also certain because it is founded on the Word of God; it works “through charity”; and it continually grows through listening to the Word of God and through prayer. It is, even now, a foretaste of the joys of heaven."

.:webmaster:. said...

John,

First of all, where is that copied from? Second, why should anyone believe that now, finally, after 2,000 years, you have the correct interpretation of this topic?

HMMM?

Jim,

Most Christians not only don't know how many layers separate them, I've found that most don't want to know these things, either.

And that's sad.

.:webmaster:. said...

John said, "The act of faith is a human act, that is, an act of the intellect of a person..."

So, what John is telling us is that he is an Arminian Christian. He has rejected the notion of salvation by grace alone and is saying that people are required to move toward god and make some small effort in their salvation.

John believes in free will. Do you also believe you can loose your salvation, John? Or do you believe that once you accept salvation, you no longer have free will? Or, are you a Catholic believer? It makes a difference you know.

.:webmaster:. said...

Telmi,

Everything on the site is under a Creative Commons license. Here's an explanation of what that means: CLICK HERE.

John Doe said...

That quote is from the Catholic Catechism. If you still do not believe that your will has any part in your salvation, Jesus made it quite clear in John's testimony.


John 3
18 Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

John 6
28 So they said to him, "What can we do to accomplish the works of God?"
29 Jesus answered and said to them, "This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent."


John 10
24 So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, "How long are you going to keep us in suspense? 11 If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly."
25 Jesus answered them, "I told you and you do not believe. The works I do in my Father's name testify to me.

37 If I do not perform my Father's works, do not believe me;
38 but if I perform them, even if you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may realize (and understand) that the Father is in me and I am in the Father."


John 14
10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works.
11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves.

.:webmaster:. said...

Uh, John,

Your namesake also wrote this: "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the prophets, 'AND THEY SHALL ALL BE (BS)TAUGHT OF GOD.' Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me." -- John 6:44

Hmm, that seems to contradict what you're saying.

Well, that's what Christians do, they pick the verses that agree with their positions, and ignore the rest.

John, whether or not free will exists in salvation is not really the point of this article. The point is that Christians have been arguing about it for centuries and still can't make up their minds.

Since you are Catholic, in St. Augustine's "De Gratia et Libero Arbitrio" Augustine insists that the post-Adamic human will is no longer in a position to initiate any choice in regards to salvation. Any choice we have is entirely a product of unmerited grace [see, e.g. De Gratia et Libero Arbitrio xx and xxi], a grace that will be given to only a small number whom God has predestined to be saved out of the vast number who are eternally lost.

Calvinism is sometimes called "Augustinianism" because the central issues of Calvinistic soteriology were articulated by St. Augustine in his dispute with the British monk Pelagius. -- Wikipedia

But, who cares what Augustine taught. Just listen to your current leaders. After a couple thousand years, you'd expect some things to change, you know?

.:webmaster:. said...

Oh, and John, in case you still doubt all this, here's some more from the pen of Augustine:

"The apostle has most plainly taught us: That owing to one man all pass into condemnation who are born of Adam unless they are born again in Christ, even as He has appointed them to be regenerated, before they die in the body, whom He predestinated to everlasting life, as the most merciful bestower of grace; while to those whom He has predestinated to eternal death, He is also the most righteous awarder of punishment not only on account of the sins which they add in the indulgence of their own will, but also because of their original sin, even if, as in the case of infants, they add nothing thereto." -- "On The Soul and Its Origins," Book 4, Chapter 16.

Anonymous said...

The notion of so-called "free will" is always used as the ultimate excuse for the Bible God, who set up Adam and Eve. It is the only thing gets him off the hook, in the minds of Christians. "Free Will" does not exist in reality. It is amazing how much emphasis this dogma has in Christianity and this is the reason.

If the Calvinists were consistent they might have discovered something, but as is their pernicious doctrine is ultimately as damaging as all other forms of Christian brainwashing.

Epicurienne said...

I agree with Anonymous who said free will is just the Christian way of letting God off the hook. Everytime I asked why God didn't fix some undesirable situation, I was told, "Because he doesn't want to interfere with our free will."

I guess he delegated that task to church leaders. I finally came to the conclusion that we do have free will, but if we ever actually USE it, we'll get in trouble.

John Doe said...

Whatever you're quoting from Augustine on "predestination" most certainly isn't part of the Catholic doctrine of the Faith. If there's any predestination at all, it is in the eyes of God alone, who transcends time. He alone can see each individual’s destiny and He alone can choose to intercede the world as He deems appropriate.

It's good that you mention John 6:44 because you'll note that it is completely consistent with the quote from the Catholic Catechism. Despite the fact that our wills must me turned to God, we must also be "moved by God". The quotes I presented were never meant to discredit the fact that God was a necessary component, I was merely pointing out that we must also be willing.

After Jesus told them that He came down from heaven, He answers:
John 6
43 Jesus answered and said to them, "Stop murmuring among yourselves.
44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draw him, and I will raise him on the last day.
45 It is written in the prophets: 'They shall all be taught by God.'Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me.
46 Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father.
47 Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.

"Faith is the supernatural virtue which is necessary for salvation. It is a free gift of God and is accessible to all who humbly seek it. The act of faith is a human act, that is, an act of the intellect of a person - prompted by the will moved by God - who freely assents to divine truth. Faith is also certain because it is founded on the Word of God; it works “through charity”; and it continually grows through listening to the Word of God and through prayer. It is, even now, a foretaste of the joys of heaven."

At the end of the day, it's all very consistent. You must be willing and when He sees that you are sincerely and humbly willing, He'll move you. Conversely, it also happens that God's unmerited grace falls on man, moving him to conversion...should his will agree to it. Many graces are often the product of prayers, supplications and sacrifices that reach and please God such that He increases the number of graces that flood the earth.

freedy said...

John Doe says,blah,blah,blah.

I remember back in 1985 arguing over pre.- vs. freewill.I spent three days with my strong's concordance trying to prove Arminism over hyper-calvinism,..WHAT A BUNCH OF CRAP!

It broke up my little xtian rock band,which was a good thing.

You can use the babble to prove just about anything you want to believe is right,including losing salvation,genocide and/or eternal security.

*Quoting sripture here is a waste of time,..Mr.Doe.

p.s. There is no personal god who listens to,or answers prayer.There is no favor or grace bestowed upon you for you're supposed sacrifices and supplications.

.:webmaster:. said...

"Whatever you're quoting from Augustine on "predestination" most certainly isn't part of the Catholic doctrine of the Faith."

And yet, Augustine is the the father of Roman Catholicism.

I'm not trying to "prove" one dogma over another. I'm only pointing out that when it comes to free will, Christian denominations have been arguing for 20 centuries.

Romans 9:19 and so on...: You will say to me then, "Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?"

On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, "Why did you make me like this," will it?

Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use?

What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?

And He did so to make known (AS)the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory,

even us, whom He also called....


"Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.

And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work. -- Romans 11: 5 & 6,



As I said previously, Christians hone in on the verses that support their presuppositions and ignore those verses that contradict their favorite doctrines. You, JD, are no different in that respect.


What you are ignoring in the passage in John 6:44 is that NO ONE can COME unless he or she is already called. And if that person is called, HE OR SHE WILL COME.

This is clearly a statement that there is NO FREE WILL.

Quoting current Catholic dogma doesn't expunge Augustine. And, BTW your Catholic catechism does not say people have free will. It is worded in such a way that one could read it either way. How politically correct of the Pope!

"Faith is the supernatural virtue which is necessary for salvation. It is a free gift of God and is accessible to all who humbly seek it (but not necessarily granted). The act of faith is a human act, that is, an act of the intellect of a person - prompted by the will moved by God - who freely assents to divine truth.

See? You see free will. I see sovereign grace.

And if you want to quote catechisms, then I will quote the Westminster Catechism:

Q. 31. What is effectual calling?
A. Effectual calling is the work of God’s Spirit, whereby, convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, he doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to us in the gospel.

Question 30: Does God leave all mankind to perish in the estate of sin and misery?

Answer: God does not leave all men to perish in the estate of sin and misery,into which they fell by the breach of the first covenant, commonly called the covenant of works; but of his mere love and mercy delivers his elect out of it, and brings them into an estate of salvation by the second covenant,commonly called the covenant of grace.


Again, read this confession, believe that catechism, highlight this verse or promote that verse, it doesn't matter. The reality is, there is NO agreement in Christianity on free will in regards to the obtainment of or losing of salvation.

You have your modern Catholic position. That's wonderful. But history is against you.

DnainPA said...

John Doe wrote:

"He alone can choose to intercede the world as He deems appropriate."

Well then, that removes "omnibenevolent" (all-loving) from the description of your god, doesn't it?

If your god were all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-loving, as most xtians describe him/it/whatever, there would be no such thing as hell, dontcha think?

huesnlight said...

I'll have to admit, just viewing and reading John Doe's arguments amounts to nothing but inconsistencies, conflicting definitions, and ultimately hypocrisy.

Telmi said...

Dave,

Tks for the feedback.

I have read the terms and conditions for use but am still unclear concerning one aspect - the part that says use of material for commercial purposes is not allowed. I am writing a thesis [and hope to progress it to publication as a commercial item]from whom would I need to seek permission? From respective authors? That would be tedious.

.:webmaster:. said...

Telmi,

Contact me directly by clicking here.

MICKY said...

Our moral freedom, like other mental powers, is strengthened by exercise. The practice of yielding to impulse results in enfeebling self-control. The faculty of inhibiting pressing desires, of concentrating attention on more remote goods, of reinforcing the higher but less urgent motives, undergoes a kind of atrophy by disuse. In proportion as a man habitually yields to intemperance or some other vice, his freedom diminishes and he does in a true sense sink into slavery. He continues responsible in causa for his subsequent conduct, though his ability to resist temptation at the time is lessened. On the other hand, the more frequently a man restrains mere impulse, checks inclination towards the pleasant, puts forth self-denial in the face of temptation, and steadily aims at a virtuous life, the more does he increase in self-command and therefore in freedom.
PEACE BE WITH YOU
MICKY

stronger now said...

micky

1) Not all impulses are unhealthy in and of themselves.

2) As a christian you are NOT to "increase in self-command". You are to be a slave to christ.

3) If one denies the impulse for sexual release the desire will Increase and the self control will decrease. It is not an unhealthy desire and is not a vice, but it can be expressed in extremely unhealthy ways.

4) Self denial taken to the extreme turns some people into stodgy old pricks or worse, a pent up zealot. It can desensitize someone from humanity.

It is best to have a healthy balance in such matters. That is true freedom.