Over the past several weeks, I have been talking to people in person and in online groups about Judges 19, and that has thrown tendrils of discussion out into many other areas of Scripture. I ran across a very upsetting mindset that I feel compelled to address. I’m not just fussing at others, here. I have done this mental exercise a time or two, myself. Through my discussions with others, however, I have come to realize what a hideously sinful and backward mindset it really is.
The mindset is one that excuses the sins of characters in the Bible by saying that their sin was “necessary” to execute God’s plan for mankind.
For example, someone with this mindset would excuse Abraham’s sending his wife into the Pharaoh’s house by lying and saying she was his sister (Gen 12:10-20). To this mindset, the wealth Abraham gleaned from literally pimping out his wife to Pharaoh with a lie is proof that his sin was “necessary for God’s plan.” After all, without all of that wealth, Abraham and Lot would not have gotten on as well as they did or risen to such political and economic power/fame in the land.
Another example of this mindset is excusing David’s sin with Bathsheba as “necessary for the birth of Jesus.” After all, Jesus descended from Solomon who was the son of Bathsheba with David.
There are tons of examples, but those two should suffice to illustrate the perspective I’m responding to, and I’m going to respond rather bluntly and briefly because I just finished churning out a 5,000 word-plus wall of text on Judges 19. My fingertips are exhausted and I need to leave the house to buy toilet paper and coffee!! ha ha ha
God doesn’t need our sin.
God’s work does not depend upon the actions or cooperation of men.
God’s work will be accomplished when and how he says it will be accomplished, and our only “job” is obedience.
When we disobey, God gets his plan accomplished, anyway, but our disobedience wasn’t the plan and our disobedience wasn’t “necessary” to the plan’s accomplishment.
God does not “need” our sin. Sin is never “necessary.”
If Abraham hadn’t been dishonest and thrown his wife into sexual sin with a pharaoh of Egypt, God would have provided the wealth he needed in some other way–and you can guarantee it would have been a better way.
If David hadn’t impregnated Bathsheba in a state of adultery and then murdered her husband, Jesus would still have come at the appointed time, and his line of genetic ancestry would have been secured by God in another way–and you can guarantee it would have been a better way. Note that Solomon was produced after David married Bathsheba. The child of their sin did not thrive and died in infancy. So…case in point.
Excusing or diminishing the sins we are shown in the Bible–or twisting the events to cast blame on someone other than the “hero” a la Samson and Delilah–is a mealy, weak, and cowardly way to study Scripture. It is dishonest, and it fails to engage with God and His Word appropriately. We can recognize the great majesty of God using fallen sinners to accomplish his perfect works, but we must recognize that He does this in spite of sin…not because of it. He uses us even though we are sinners, but he didn’t need us to be sinners in order to use us.
To my mind, it is borderline blasphemy to say that God needed David or Abraham to sin in order to bring about the birth of our sinless Messiah. So if you’ve been doing that, please stop it. It is not criticizing the Bible or questioning its authority to acknowledge the lessons we are being taught in the tales of the Patriarchs and Judges and Kings of Israel. They were sinners, just like we are, and we can learn from their sins at the same time we marvel at the work God performed through their flawed and broken humanity. Don’t diminish God by saying things like, “Well, God needed him to commit adultery and kill his mistress’ husband so we could get Jesus.” That is just…disgusting. It is untrue and it is a filthy thing to say. The Bible never said that and, in fact, it says the opposite in many places in many ways.
God does not need our sin. He hates our sin; he certainly doesn’t need it. He doesn’t need our obedience. He loves our obedience, but our works are as filthy rags. He doesn’t need us at all. We are here by his grace, and his mighty work will be accomplished whether we obey or whether we sin.