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Let me start with this:

Galatians 5:19-21 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

Does trying to follow this perfectly end up causing Christians to sin, feeling as if they need some form of an outlet? Like, the more they hear all these things are a sin, it creates heaviness or oppression like feeling and a quest to rid that feeling, that ends up being a turn to sin?

One example that comes to mind -the numerous Catholic altar boys molested by priests. Could it be that priests try so hard to follow the spiritual law, it causes them to do these things?

Are there any Christian studies on the phenomenon?

Thank You.

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The Catholic (actually, not just Catholic) comparison there is likely to be much more complex in reality, additionally involving issues such as enforced sexual/romantic abstinence (perhaps the most significant factor), a very male-dominated history (seminary, etc), having access, being in a trusted position, under-developed (through withdrawal from "regular" society) social/interaction, and of course the statistical chance of just being inclined. All factors are likely to vary between offenders. My point: without significant study I don't think we should jump to any single explanation. –  Marc Gravell Mar 27 '12 at 7:19
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Also forgot: stress/isolation of the job, the feeling that absolution is reasonable available via confession, and constantly hearing the lurid details of other people's offences (affairs, etc); and the feeling (well evidenced historically) that the church will defend/protect/hide/relocate them if things go sour. –  Marc Gravell Mar 27 '12 at 7:27
    
Actually, contrary to popular belief, that the number of pedophile priests is not higher as a percentage than society at large, and may be significantly lower. For starters, see this article: thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2010/04/07/mean-men.html . There are also other sources that say the same thing, but that wasn't (exactly) the question :) So at least your one example is flawed, though I would be curious to know if you are aware of others. –  Jason Mar 27 '12 at 21:08
    
@Jason. Yep. Priests raping children was not, actually, particularly common or a special scandal. It happens in all sectors of society, and was not markedly more common in the church. (Other forms of abuse, in church-run schools and disiplinary institures, up to outright slavery in Ireland's Magdaline laundries was a different matter.) The scandal was not in the rapes. The scandal was in the cover-up. And that's a rot which runs all the way to the top. –  TRiG Apr 16 '12 at 14:13
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4 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

I think you're reading this particular passage out of context. The verses you cite are immediately followed by what is called the "fruits of the spirit". In context the passage says:

16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever[c] you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

The contrast is between the works of the flesh (i.e. your own power), which when directed towards the flesh, end up not where we want to be. By contrast, when our flesh IS KILLED, we must live in the spirit.

Earlier, Paul had said (2:19 -21)

19 “For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”

The entire argument is that you cannot, in your own power, live a holy life. If one (and I say this as an ordained minister) tries to be good out of sheer willpower, you get the pedophiles and the other junk. It doesn't matter if one is trying to be good or not - the result of the power of the flesh will always be bad stuff.

The question isn't "does trying to be good make me do bad?" but rather "is man able to do any good whatsoever?" While by no means universally accepted, the doctrine of total depravity simply says no. Again, not all Christians say Total Depravity, but deviations from this position are degrees, and not disagreement. At the "other end of the spectrum" are those who say that man is sometimes capable of choosing to do good, but we'd all start by saying we sin!

It is only when our wills crucified with Christ - that we live in the Spirit - that we can attain the good life that is desirable.

The fruit of the Spirit is what we want - love, joy, peace, self-control - there aren't laws against the Spirit! We have to put laws on the natural self, because apart from Christ, we cannot do the good things we want.

In our own power, "even our righteousness is as filthy rags." In the Spirit, even our sins are redeemed.

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There are some interesting assumptions in your question. One is that living a holy life is burdensome and wearying, and another is that sin is necessary to relieve the pent up stress

The Bible teaches quite to the contrary:

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 ESV

So, it is those who are already burdened whom Jesus is inviting to come to Him to be relieved of that burden and to find rest/relief.

Legalism, however, will burden people down as Jesus taught in Matthew regarding the teaching of the Pharisees:

They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger.

So, if someone endeavors to follow a bunch of rules and laws to live a holy life in his own strength, he will certainly live a wearied and burdened life. However, the one who seeks to love Christ first will find that he also happens to be living a pretty holy life without having focused his efforts on it, and he certainly won't have to sin to relieve the pent up stress, because walking with God does not create such stress.

Regarding the assumption that sin has the power to relieve the overwhelming burden of not sinning, the Bible also teaches quite to the contrary of this. It is actually sin that enslaves us, burdens us down, and leaves us desolate and destitute.

Though sin gives pleasure for a moment, it has no power to give joy for a lifetime but often gives pain and regret for a lifetime instead.

Those who have been found to have committed heinous sins while claiming to be living holy lives do not give evidence that living a Christian life is weary and burdensome and results in increased sin. Rather, it merely proves that they were not living in devotion to God, being empowered by God, and enjoying the Presence of God.

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yes, these assumptions are right on... –  Greg McNulty Mar 28 '12 at 20:58
    
That is certainly debatable and definitely not biblical. –  Narnian Mar 29 '12 at 12:05
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Luke 11:24 “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and finding none it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ 25 And when it comes, it finds the house swept and put in order. 26 Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there. And the last state of that person is worse than the first.”

I think there are a lot of religious people who trade outward appearance (including career choice) for pride. It is not that doing good makes you more evil, it is that doing good for the wrong reasons makes you more evil, because the wrong reason is usually pride. Becoming a "Christian" (or a better "Christian") should not be driven by your desire to be better than others, but rather by the very deep need for salvation from your sin. And that is something that does not stop in the least until we leave this world. On the evil scale, every one of us is at Hitler level even now, even after you built the orphanage.

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that's intense, but i see what you are saying... –  Greg McNulty Mar 28 '12 at 21:00
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Sinning makes us feel so ashamed and unhopeful of God's forgiveness even when God is ready to forgive. Our spirit dies and we feel unworthy of his mercy. "And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked?..." (Genesis 3:11)."(Genesis 3:9-11). But temptations and sin should help us grow stronger in faith. I understand what you mean but also remember that it was when Jesus was hungry that the devil came along to tempt him with food.

Below is what we ought to do:

"Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD shall be a light unto me. I will bear the indignation of the LORD, because I have sinned against him, until he plead my cause, and execute judgment for me: he will bring me forth to the light, and I shall behold his righteousness." (Micah 7:8-9)

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