Verbal conflicts in ideology, theology, philosophy, and preference rarely lead to someone changing their stance on an issue. Most who engage in verbal disagreements over belief systems only come to new conclusions through a positive experience that runs contrary to their previous way of thinking.
Why would I change my mind unless I am convinced that this new outlook is actually beneficial?
In verse 8 of Jude, the writer explains that people desiring to stir up controversy introduce toxic perspectives rejecting rationality, authority, and healthy creativity. Their imaginings are rooted in a place of darkness rather than wide-eyed child-like wonder.
For those that are adamant about a perspective that is contentious with God, Jude points to the words of an archangel. Michael addresses the devil himself. Rather than pronouncing judgment or issuing out punishment, Michael says, “The Lord rebuke you.” He hears the devils dispute and rather than defending, he calmly states that God Himself will do the correcting.
Here an angel uses his authority to say very little, but the angel is not silent. Contrast the angel with the attention the Church gains when someone in it or someone claiming to represent it usually says the wrong thing regarding sexual ethics. The tone and choice of words we use is important because words intending to sting or insult do not constitute Jesus’ rhetoric of love. Jesus was careful with his words which is why the Church should be quick to listen so we would be blameless if we are accused of doing more harm than good.
The Church should also remain unshaken in the Scriptures by advocating for a holy and healthy sexual ethic with a clear sexual identity defined by God himself. The Church needs to be vocal about the injustice of non-consent and abuse in all cultures while affirming that God has not turned his gaze from victims assuring that healing is available.
If we throw off reason and choose what we might desire over the way of God, we destroy ourselves. We act in a way that sells short the greatest gifts God has for us by abandoning our identity to our present feelings. We begin to believe either the lie that, “we are what we feel,” or “we are what we want to do.”
When we live life out of an identity rooted in either of those lies, we work up a lot of energy to justify our way of living while becoming apathetic to others. We start to see people in light of what we might gain from those relationships. We only do what appears to be selfless so long as we are unchallenged or not convicted by our own way of life. It’s a way that has thrown off accountability and has a sense of solidarity only around sensuality rather than the good of humanity.
This mentality wants to have the cake, eat it, and if the cake celebrates a certain occasion, also wants to change what is in fact being celebrated. That is what our sexual indiscretion does. It tries to replace my lack of self-control and places the onus on society or blames the unreasonableness of the law of God or blames the person we victimize.
There really is a warfare over our eyes, minds, and hearts, and rather than empathizing amidst struggle, it has been simpler to suggest that there is not really a struggle at all. We live in a time where the temptation seems to persistently suggest, “all of it’s okay, as long as its consensual, and some of its okay even if it’s not consensual.” In reality: none of its okay, unless it’s in covenant. Because in the confides of faithfulness is where real joy and love in sex and romance is found.
The evidence in Jude regarding those who advocate for a sexual identity outside the will of God are described through a series of analogies:
hidden reefs at love feasts, feasting with you without fear: more literally meaning: “those who walk along a ledge of a cliff over rocks,” as in these individuals are dangerously leading others close to a fall without any fear of that fall.
shepherds feeding themselves: a shepherd only concerned with their own appetite fails to fulfill their calling in feeding the sheep, in other words a shepherd who doesn’t shepherd is a victim of lost identity.
waterless clouds, swept along by winds: a cloudy day blocks out the brightness of the sun and the benefit clouds bring is usually rain for nourishing. a cloud that doesn’t bring water just darkens things, advocating lifestyle decisions that are not nourishing just confuse people.
fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted: autumn is the season in which trees were expected to produce fruit, they failed to live up to the expectation, advocating for unfruitful ways that have failed to produce life. These trees are dead in that they are unfruitful and secondly uprooted, or in other words not firmly planted in accountability or solidarity in Christ.
The consolation is that God himself stands above any influence that runs contrary to His plans and designs. He both corrects and draws a distinction between the ways of God and the ways of the world. There is a line of separation, one way is damaging, while one way leads to fullness of life. One way needs to fight for justification failing to be satisfied, while another rests in the joy of covenant and assurance in a community of the faithful.