Podcast episode 005: Duty vs delight: Can we sacrifice our lives for Christ and enjoy God’s good world at the same time?

by | Jun 28, 2017

There are two Bible verses that capture the tension this episode explores: on the one hand, there is Ecclesiastes 2:24: “There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God …”. On the other, there is a verse like Luke 14:26: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.”

So which is to be? Love the good life that God has given you and enjoy it to the full? Or hate your life, pick up your cross and follow Christ?

Mikey Lynch is intrigued by this tension, and is writing a book about it. He dropped into the plush CCL studios here at Moore College (i.e. a table in a corner of the morning tea area) to talk about it.

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Transcript

Mikey Lynch: So what I’m wanting to write is an ethics book that tries to make sense of the fact that, on the one hand, Christian ethics, if we’re—if what we believe about God and the creation is right, then living God’s way is the good way to live: it’s the way, you know—it’s the creator’s handbook, you know. So there’s that kind of way of thinking about ethics, which I think is right and helpful.

But then there’s all the passages the New Testament say—talk about dying to yourself and hating your father and mother, and even your own life, or that passage in 1 Corinthians 7 where Paul says, “The time is short. From now on, those who have wives should live as if they have none, those who”, you know, “buy things as if it wasn’t theirs to keep, those who use the things of this world as if not engrossed in them, because this world’s passing away” (vv. 29b-31). You know, those two things feel like they’re in some kind of tension, and I think experience …

Tony Payne: That’s Mikey Lynch. He’s our guest on the CCL podcast today. And have you experienced the tension that Mikey’s talking about—between simply enjoying the good things that God has given us in his creation (and there are lots of them to enjoy), and the challenge of setting aside of those enjoyments and those pleasures for the sake of the gospel or the kingdom? How do you hold those two things together? That’s what Mikey Lynch has been wondering, and that’s why he’s my guest today on the CCL podcast.

[Music]

TP: Well, hello, I’m Tony Payne, and welcome to the CCL podcast, brought to you from Moore College in Sydney, Australia. And if you’re new to CCL and to this podcast, thanks for joining us. CCL stands for “the Centre for Christian Living”, and our aim here at the centre is to bring biblical ethics to everyday issues. And the everyday issue we’re talking about today is the tension between revelling in all the various good things that God presents us with in his world and then the ultimate good, which is loving God and loving neighbour, and laying down our lives for the sake of our neighbours and their salvation. It’s kind of the tension between Ecclesiastes, which says that there is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil, and that terrifying verse in Luke 14 that says, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters and, yes, even his own life, he cannot be my disciple” (v. 26; emphasis added).

So should we enjoy our lives or hate our lives? I guess you could call it the tension between duty and light, and I recently spoke about all this with Mikey Lynch.

ML: So I lead the AFES team—the Hobart campus of UTas [University of Tasmania]. Oh, campuses; it’s one of those Uni cities where there’s a lot of campuses around the city now. Yeah. So that’s the day job. But like anyone in Christian ministry, pretty quickly things bleed beyond just, you know, your job, and so I do our welcoming and kind of community stuff with church just as a church member there, and I’m involved in a local network that links together pastors to encourage ministry training apprenticeships and church planting—that kind of thing—you know, that kind of gospel partnership. We call it “Vision 100” in Tassie. And then I’m one of the directors for Geneva Push, which is a kind of national equivalent of the same thing, so trying to assess and support and encourage new churches to get started across the whole country. Yeah. And then, in my spare time with that—you know, it just goes on, doesn’t it? Yeah. And then, have written a blog for about 10 years and married with three kids, and trying to write a book right now. So, yeah.

TP: It’s probably traditional in podcasts like this to talk with authors about their books after they’ve written them. But we’ve never been that traditional. So I’m talking to Mikey about this book that he’s in the process of writing, and the first thing I asked him was who’s he writing it for?

ML: I think the person who is the extremely zealous treasurer for the Christian Union who then goes into the grind of life, and just the experience of ageing and life and work and everything grinds them down, as well as just the change in life, means they no longer have the same degree of … social, you know, energy and ministry energy and time, you know. So their life is just changing in ways that are different, and they’re mourning that. But then if this stuff isn’t thought around clearly, there’s also just a massive amount of kind of a guilt or a confusion that happens. What does it look like to be a zealous Christian—an end times Christian? You know, when you’ve got three kids and a minibus and a mortgage.

TP: And you’re always tired.

ML: Yeah, and you’re tired and you’re—you’ve got a smaller number of people who are—take up a lot of your social energy, rather than being 19 and having this massive network of people that, you know, you’re hanging out with all the time. So—and I—and as I encounter those kinds of people, often that confusion or guilt or uncertainty saps a joy in their Christian life that I don’t think adds any new energy into the church or ministry, and actually, if anything, takes away. So rather than there being—

TP: Life.

ML: You know, like—yeah. Or the person who’s suffered a lot and has been so burned out that they’ve come back from the pit and have learnt these lessons the very hard and bitter way, and so they kind of … you know, so whether it’s out of a sort of a self-serving worldliness, or else a kind of a—the bruised reed sort of person, both can react whenever you mention—you know, whenever you mention a passage like 1 Corinthians 7 where, not only does Paul say, “The time is short” and “Live as if you had no wife” and, you know, “Live as if you had nothing”, he also says that a single person is concerned with the Lord’s affairs, whereas the married person is concerned with the affairs of this world. And they hear someone say something like that, and they go, “Oh, that’s gnostic dualism! That’s saying the things of this world aren’t the Lord’s affairs!” They’ve totally—and so they suddenly remove any possibility for a hierarchy of good things. If there’s any suggestion that, you know, drinking Campos coffee is less the things of the Lord than evangelising a neighbour while you drink coffee with them. You know, “How dare you say that that’s”—“Oh, that’s, you know, that’s dualism, that is”, you know. So there’s that person. But the burnt person, whenever they hear it, they go, “Oh, that’s the stuff that killed me.” You know, “Don’t say that kind of thing; that’s the kind of stuff that will kill the next generation of people.” So, yeah. Yeah, I think for both those kinds of reasons, you know, you end up with people … yeah.

TP: So we’ve got the long-serving Christian who knows all about sacrifice and duty and the priority of the kingdom, but seems to lack any joy in his life. And you’ve also got the bitter, burnt out person who runs a mile when anyone mentions sacrifice or duty or the priority of the kingdom. And of course, there’s also the person who has made their peace with this tension by giving up on sacrifice and duty and just living a very nice comfortable life, thank you very much—who’s resolved the tension decisively in favour of satisfaction over sacrifice. So how is Mikey planning to approach all this?

ML: So the first thing, I think … I think it is helpful for people to realise that the problem of holding together multiple good things … you know, that kind of problem we feel of … yeah, as you said before, any time I’m playing Pokémon Go, I could have spent that time reading Romans. Yeah, any time that happens. But even within the church, any time I spend edifying a believer, I could have spent knocking on doors in the neighbourhood. So, you know, so … that kind of problem of competing goods, you know, the first thing I think we need to just embrace is the fact that if—to put it kind of crassly, that’s kind of God’s fault: God made things other than himself, and lots of things other than himself, and he said that was very good. And he made human beings who, even in Eden had to spend a lot of their time presumably not praying and not meditating on God’s word, but sleeping and farming and making love and raising children.

So I guess that’s the first thing, I think—that’s just a helpful thing to say, that that’s not a problem, but that’s the way that God’s made the world. And so as soon as we believe in a created world, we’ve got to say that part of the way we worship God is in and through all the other things that God gives us to do. They’re not—that’s not a competing thing, but somehow part of how—so the book I’ve just read last week that I thought had a lot of helpful stuff in it (it got a bit wacky at points, but)—it was a book called The Things of Earth by a guy called Joe Rigney, who’s part of the kind of John Piper world of things. And he said, we’ve got to see that—like to use the Genesis example, delighting in Eve is what the love of God looks like when Adam meets Eve. You know, and farming is what the love of God looks like when Adam looks at the garden. You know, I thought that was a really helpful way of putting it together—to sort of go that there is directly Godward duties, but God has also made us to serve him in—so I think that’s the first step. That’s just kind of like a—shall I pause there or go onto …?

TP: Hmm. No, it’s good. I was going to ask you … but the things that—God having created these things as good and as other than himself, they’re not just a vehicle through which we relate to God; they’re actually things.

ML: Yes.

TP: They’re good themselves. They’re not just like a shell or a cloak for God.

ML: Yeah.

TP: So to enjoy something that God has given, we ought to relate rightly to honour this thing that God has given. It does honour God and obey God and, in a sense, love God. But I am also loving this thing. I’m not just loving God; there is a thing there that I’m loving. I do love my wife. It’s not that loving my wife is just loving God in a different guise; it really is loving this person.

ML: Yeah, I think Augustine sort of used the word “means” to try and describe everything else, and that’s a bit of a gross way of putting it—to go, “My wife is just a means of me loving God”—it’s a bit yuck. Yeah, I agree, and so I think that’s another part of what I want to say is that figuring out how to live, then, with all that complexity, partly, it’s putting God first and above and at the centre, you know, all those kinds of metaphors to, you know—on one level, that does a lot—once you put God in his right place, that’s that kind of, again, Augustine, “Love God and do what you will”: there’s a sense in which when you put God in his right place, it does put other things in their—but then the other side of it is to know his creation properly, and so there’s that knowing what or who things are, where they are in relation to me and everything else, and kind of what time it is as well, and then I’ve got to know who I am and where I am in relationship to them, and what time it is for—you know, so it’s that kind of—what’s good and right and wrong is kind of absolute, but it’s applied in context, so knowing who and what things are and where they are and when I am, all that stuff helps us a lot, I think.

TP: What Mikey’s really talking about here is the doctrine of creation—that God created many good and great and beautiful things for us to receive from his hands with thanksgiving and with joy. But he also mentioned that that the time is important: understanding the times that we’re in in which we receive these good things. And I asked him to elaborate on what he meant by that.

ML: What I want to do next, though, in actually helping with the problem is to say, well, a big part of who we are, where we are, when we are is that we’re in the last days, and we’re fallen people who are now finding ourselves in the final phase of God’s history, where he’s sent his Son to—for our salvation—for us and our salvation. Now is the age where the gospel is to be preached to the ends of the world. There’s nothing significant that needs to happen in God’s timetable until Jesus returns. That’s what I think Paul’s saying when he says “The time is short. This world’s passing way”. We’re in that—it’s not that Paul thought that Jesus would be coming back next week, but it’s the—that’s the quality of time we’re in is the final stage in history.

And so I’m actually not treating my wife well or, you know, the planet well or—to not bear that in mind. That’s part of now the givenness of the world is the time we’re in. And so I think that’s a second really important piece to sort of bear in mind. And so in a sense, what I’m wanting to say is that ultimately a fair bit of what we might see of as negative thing, you know—doing without for the sake of the last days and for the sake of the kingdom—needs to also be thought about as positive—to go, “Well, actually, this is the best way to—this is the actual reality that we’re in is the last days. So this is the best way to live life in these last days, and this is the best way to live a married life and live—raise your kids and actually interact with God’s world is to see it as a good, but fallen creation about to be, you know, renewed, you know, through judgement and all that kind of stuff, so …”

[Music]

TP: Well that’s our interlude music, which means that we’re going to resume in just a moment with Mikey Lynch. I hope you’re enjoying the conversation so far, and if you are, and if you’re enjoying our podcast, please do subscribe. You can subscribe at iTunes or at Stitcher or Overcast or any of these other sort of apps that do podcasts, and apparently, if you leave us some kind of review or rating, that raises us up the list somehow and makes people notice us more. So it would be tremendous if you could leave some kind of review.

It would also be tremendous if you checked out the CCL website: that’s ccl.moore.edu.au—because you’ll not only find details of all our previous podcasts, but a stack of other excellent resources on living the Christian life. All the audio and video from all our public events on a huge range of topics is available on the website, plus lots of articles and short posts. You really should check it out.

Also, as usual, we have a book special that relates to this episode of the podcast, organised with our friends at Matthias Media. We’ve touched on the inevitability of suffering in the episode so far—on the pain and difficulty that are just an unavoidable part of living in the time that we’re in in the creation that we’re in—and a recent book by Sally Sims called Together Through the Storm casts a really useful light on how we can help one another in times of difficulty and suffering. It’s really a book on what traditionally has been called “pastoral care”, but Sally calls it “Christian care”, and in this book, she provides not only a really useful biblical framework, but lots of practical help as to how all of us as Christians can support and care for and encourage and look after one another when the storm breaks and when life becomes difficult and we’re struggling. It’s a unique book and you can find it at matthiasmedia.com.au/ccl.

But back to Mikey Lynch. So far, we’ve looked at how our understanding of the goodness of creation and of the times that we’re living in should help us resolve this tension between duty and delight. Let’s dig a little deeper into the nature of life in these last days, and especially the difficulty and pain that comes as part of living in the last days.

ML: Yeah, I mean, one of the things I want to explore is how there’s, you know, as we try to figure out, well, what is the kind of pain that should be normal in the Christian life, you know—what is the suffering that we should feel or not feel, you know, we feel the confu—you know, that—I think a sensitive Christian does feel weird when they hear just endless celebration of the goodness of the world as all being, you know—there feels something off about that when we read our New Testaments regularly. Or something off when we hear that kind of “bruised reed” speaks so much about rest and Sabbath and … you know, all this stuff—there’s something that—there is something that makes us feel awkward about it, but I want to try and put my finger on what it is, and I think … I think it is helpful to sort of separate out the kinds of suffering we experience and to say there are, in the first place—there are some sufferings that are not really the result of the Fall, but are the—just the result of being finite. So when a friend gets a job—

TP: Sorry, just to explain the whining sound in the background at this point, the new building at Moore College where we recorded this interview we think is haunted by a ghost in the air conditioning system who whines every morning at 8:30 and again at 5:30 in the afternoon when the system turns off. I think that’s the explanation. In any case, apologies for the background noise.

ML: So when a friend gets a job in Brisbane, you know, I mourn the loss of that friendship, but that’s not an evil thing or a … you know, if I … if I just become—you know, you go through puberty; you mourn your childhood. You know? And that’s—that in itself is not bad, going through puberty; it’s just … it’s a change. You know, so there are some finite things, and there are some choices we make. I mean, even, to some extent, to mourn a challenging, lucrative stimulating career, because instead I opted for another good thing—to preach the gospel full-time—on one level, that’s not a … painful sacrifice for the kingdom; on one level, it’s just—well, there’s many life paths that to choose one over the other is still—you know, there’s still a kind of mourning, but it’s not a cursed mourning. So I feel like there’s—some of the—that’s helpful, just to go, yeah, there are some things that we might maybe oversell as being sacrifices and pains, where, instead, we go, “No, that’s just—that’s our, you know, finitude.” We can still mourn that. That’s still okay to see that. But it’s, you know—so there’s that.

Then there’s that—the dying to self language and the killing yourself and you’re hating yourself—in the first place, I think, I mean it’s about other things when Jesus says, “Carry your cross”, but in part of it, it’s about dying to your sinful self, and so when you hear—when that word comes to you as a sinner or as a new convert or a potential convert, it sounds like a sacrifice—it sounds like a death. You go, “Wow, I’m going to have to give up my love of the world and the lust of the flesh, and fame and my false gods and all these things … oh no!” You know, that’s a—that is a great sacrifice to follow—we, you know, we’re really—but when you’re on the other end of that, you look back and you go, “Well, actually, that was—” you know, “What benefits did you gain at that time from the things you’re now ashamed of? That was the empty way of life handed down by our forefathers,” you know.

TP: It’s a liberation, actually.

ML: Yeah! Yeah! So I think that’s a second kind of sacrifice and death. And some of the stronger statements of Jesus are that—the statements spoken to the, you know, the unregenerate person where you go, “Actually, yeah, when I come out the other end of it, I go, ‘Well, actually, that was a good—good”, that kind of sacrifice and death was a really wonderful thing. And so I think that’s helpful to see that that side of it, you go, like I—’cause there’s—I think when we don’t have this clear, we can even have this kind of Christian envy self-talk that goes, “Oh the—you know, if I wasn’t a Christian, I’d be having such a good time. You know, I’d be earning a lot of money, have a great house, travel a—be so so good. But oh well. Oh well, I’m a Christian!”

TP: “At least I’m going to heaven!”

ML: Yeah, we kind of feed it that way.

TP: Yeah.

ML: And, yeah, there are some good things that we do let go of for the sake of better things. But on another level, going—to live a life for nothing more than myself and sin and selfishness and greed, is that actually, you now—is that actually a better life?

TP: So the first two kinds of pain or mourning or suffering that we experience in this creation at this time are strange ones: our finitude just as creatures means that we don’t experience all the goods of God’s creation, and we regret or mourn the ones that we give up or don’t choose. And there’s also the strange kind of mourning or suffering we experience in dying to our old sinful selves. Both of these might be experienced by us as mourning or regret or suffering, even though, in one sense, they’re not. But there are plenty of experiences in life that are genuinely experiences of suffering and evil.

ML: Then, I think, there is just the suffering, as you’ve mentioned, Tony, of just being in a fallen world, and so there’s that—there’s sin that others cause us to suffer, but we also cause our own suffering for ourselves as we sin; there’s the brokenness of the created world and our relationship with it; there’s death and disease and … and so that, I guess, that’s … you know, unavoidable, Christian or not, you know, worldly or Christian or … soft, comfortable nominal Christian or really zealous Christian, we’re all going to experience some of that pain. Although, a subset of that is if you stand for righteous and if you stand for the gospel, then one subset of that suffering will be that there will be that—you know, that sort of—the martyrdom and the shame and the, you know—

TP: You’ll find the clash between the time we really belong to and—

ML: Yeah.

TP: —the time we live in now, and it’s most acute because the time we live in now will try and kill the time we belong to, in a sense; it will try and kill that other sense of—that other self of ours because it’s such—the more we testify—I think you’re right—the more we testify, the more we—the more visible we are, the more we experience that.

ML: And I think that kind is bad, and it’s good to say that’s bad. It’s terrible! To suffer as a Christian is an awful thing. It’s—you know, and you read those stories of Christians where physical persecution is real and it’s, you know, makes you cry, you know, “Come Lord Jesus!” It’s so horrible! And so that’s good. And it feels mean-spirited as well when people say of Australian Christians, “Stop complaining that you’re persecuted; you’re not persecuted.” You know, wasn’t—someone wrote that recently? Kevin de Young or someone was saying, you know, like, it still is—you know, even if it’s just shame and silencing, that still hurts! And it’s still, you know—it’s a bit coldhearted to say you’re not suffering enough to claim persec—you know, it’s still really hard—it’s, you know, for the high schooler and the person in the company that gets sort of sidelined and the mum in the, you know, mums group and the playground—you know, all that stuff, like it hurts! So I think it’s going, “That’s the time we’re in. There’s no point pretending it’s not.” You know, there’s lots of things I wish wasn’t—weren’t so, but they are.

And so, on one level, just going, “That is the time we’re in”, and so the question is, “How do I live—what does the good life look like in this life?” In this phase—you know, in this fallen world—and in the last days; what does it look like? And it looks like bearing up under suffering and being sanctified through suffering, and the peculiar honour of suffering for the Name and, you know, to suffer for being a Christian is a—should be a sweet thing, because we’re alongside Jesus at that point: we’re following the—you know, we’re carrying the cross as he carried the cross; we’re going with him. And so it’s not a great thing, but it is a noble thing and it’s a glorious thing and it’s a—yeah, so I guess it’s that—it’s both that idea, as well as … you know, going for our, you know, religious affections as well, isn’t it, and going, “It is a wonderful thing—to be so involved in God’s work in the world that I bear the same disgrace he bore,” and all that kind of stuff. Yeah.

There’s a final one, of course, which is the 1 Corinthians 7 one, where it’s because the time is short, the way we treat good things is with an increased sense of their temporariness. So although we should never be idolatrous—you know, even if we were in Eden, there’s a … Adam should not worship Eve, you know. There’s a—“frugality” is not quite the word—but there’s “moderateness”—there’s a temporariness that, even in Eden, I suppose, would have been there, you know: everything should be loved in proportion to what it is.

TP: Yeah.

ML: But in addition to that, we’ve now got a timeframe thing, so Paul says. He doesn’t say, “Those who have wives, leave them; those who have things, give them away; those who use things, stop.” He says, “Live as if”—you know, that this kind of—as if not engrossed in them, is the final one in that little passage, and so … so, I guess, that’s a final … I … it’s not sacrifice; it’s more, again, the exchanging the good for the better thing, I think, where it’s again, like I—the best way to use the things in this world, including marriage and family; they’re wonderful things—is to see them as temporary. That’s actually—it would be less good to treat them otherwise now. Yeah.

TP: All this reminds of a point that was made in our previous CCL public event on “The dignity of work” with Chase Kuhn and Pete Orr: they pointed out that there are some good things that are to be received and valued as good and really important, and our work fits into that category, but it’s still okay to say that there are things of ultimate importance that go beyond that. It’s not as if there are only two options—that things are of ultimate importance; we must embrace them all the time to the exclusion of all else, and then things that are of zero importance, and are to be shunned and excluded, and that there’s nothing in between. Chase and Pete argued that there is a speed in between—things that are really valuable and good and great, but need to be understood in light of the ultimate.

But there’s another aspect as to how we think about this whole subject—one that we perhaps don’t talk about as much as we once did, and that’s one that Mikey now raises: the subject of Christian freedom.

ML: But one of the things that I think is maybe a final step that helps us in all of that, and, I mean, we’ve talked about Guidance and the Voice of God, which really is about that as well, is that there is a reality of human Christian ethical existence, which is Christian freedom. And I think that’s—like, it’s interesting that, you know, I go to a Presbyterian church, there’s a whole section of the confession on Christian freedom. You know, in the Institutes, there’s a whole chapter on Christian freedom. I don’t know when we last did a series in our churches on Christian freedom that went beyond freedom from the world and sin and death and the devil, and freedom to live the righteous life. You know, the—because of the particular issues they were dealing with in the Reformation and afterwards, they were dealing with actually the freedoms of what a Christian is free not to do—like, in terms of their behaviour, their actions and … And they went on about it at length. And so I think that’s a final thing.

So it’s really interesting in 1 Corinthians 7, Paul lays these big chunks of theological idea, you know: be content where you find yourself; wherever you were when you were called is a place where you can lit—you know, you can legitimately serve God where you are. You don’t have to change. You know, you can serve God there. He goes on about that for a paragraph—the one we talked about before, you know: “the world’s passing away, so don’t be engrossed in it”. Another big chunk, he goes on this whole thing about how singleness has advantages over marriage in terms of the degree of explicit godward activity, I think is his point—that you can engage yourself in the work of the Lord, you know, more fully. All things being equal, if you’re single.

So he gives all this theological stuff to, you know, to fra—and ethical stuff to commend—singleness is his particular concern there. But then as he gets to the end of it, what he says is, you know, having said all of that, he says, “So therefore as the person has—is under no coercion, has made up their own mind, and wants to do something, they should do what they want” (1 Cor 7:37). And then similarly the widow at the very very end, can marry if they want as long as they’re in the Lord.

And so that’s—that piece of Christian freedom—to go, there is a genuine place for Christians to choose in the case of 1 Corinthians 7, the not-best thing, but the good thing. And that’s a—and I think, again, not saying, “You can, but—”, but just saying, “That’s your responsibility”, and in God and his providential wisdom, if some didn’t choose the certain thing—you know, like, you’d end up with the diversity of the church in many ways that produces all sorts of great outcomes in God’s, you know, mysterious wisdom—that we don’t need to come up with a policy of one blanket way to live the Christian life that everyone must live that way, because in that diversity that ends up happening as we do what we want, some, we might say, take on greater strictures because of the time we’re in and choose singleness in quite extreme missionary endeavours, or a level of hospitality and fostering children, you know, or a level of giving that’s extraordinary—you know, like a simpleness of life and giving. You know, they opt for that, and that’s, we could say, best or—you know, go into full-time paid ministry, you know, these are “best” things that we can talk about as best, you know, without saying the other things are sinning.

But then others can choose the “not best”—the not strategic, the—within the bounds of godliness, the kind of, you know, the less wise, and they can, and that’s good! And, you know, so I guess that’s—in our Christian decision-making, naming that degree of Christian freedom and seeing that not as a … a last resort thing, where we say, “I really tried to push Tony to think—to do what I thought was the wise, best, strategic thing, and he didn’t. Now, gosh, that’s awkward, because I don’t want to excommunicate him or guilt trip him, so I guess I say, ‘Oh well, that’s a matter of wisdom and grace’” and it’s very much a consolation prize—to instead say, “I really thought he should have done that. That would have been great/strategic/the best. He chose not to and that’s now what he’s done. Like, and that’s good!” You know. And so, at the start of the chapter, if you’re married, you fulfil your duties to one another. You know? And you don’t … without mutual consent, you don’t withhold those duties. You know, and so …

[Music]

TP: I hope you’ve enjoyed this conversation with Mikey Lynch. It certainly made me want to say to him, “Go and finish your book! We need to hear what you have to say on this.” And I understand that’s exactly what he’s doing.

In the meantime, let’s finish with a quote that Mikey dug up from John Calvin.

ML: Here we go. This is quite funny. He goes,

In the present day, many think it’s absurd for us talking too much about the free eating of flesh, the free use of dress and holidays, and similar frivolous trifles, as they think them.

Matters of indifference. Doesn’t matter; why are we talking about these silly things, like holidays and what you wear?

But they are of more importance than is commonly supposed. For when once the conscience is entangled in the net, it enters a long and inextricable labyrinth from which it is afterwards most difficult to escape. When a man begins to doubt whether it’s lawful for him to use linen for sheets, shirts and napkins and handkerchiefs, he’ll not long be secure as to hemp and will, at last, have doubts as to tow. For he will resolve in his mind whether he cannot sup without napkins or dispense with handkerchiefs. Should he deem a daintier food unlawful, he will afterwards feel uneasy about using loaf bread and common eatables, because he’ll think that his body might possibly be supported on still meaner food. If he hesitates as to more genial wine, he’ll scarcely drink the worst with a good conscience. At last, he will dare not touch water, if it is more than usually sweet and pure. In fine, he’ll come to this and will deem it criminal to trample on a straw lying in his way. (Institutes, III.19.7)

[Music]

TP: Well, that brings this episode of the CCL podcast to a close. Please do subscribe at iTunes or Stitcher, leave us a comment or a review, and please do get in touch and send us an email as well: just email us at ccl@moore.edu.au. Send us any questions, any topics you’d love us to cover, or any feedback on this or any of our episodes. Thank you so much for listening. I’m Tony Payne. Bye for now.

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