First, here is an interesting piece by Dr. Michael McGuire of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in which he mentions a bit about the Noetic Effects of Sin.
Noetic is derived the Greek word nous. Plainly, it means,
The concept in Christian theology that argues for the negative effect of sin on the minds of all people. This effect changes man’s thinking and ability to understand. It is not that the mind is incapacitated, but that sin has a deteriorating effect on our ability to think and believe. This effect is primarily seen with regard to our understanding and perception of spiritual things. All Christian traditions believe that sin has debilitated the mind, but some will differ with respect to the degree or what the remedy is.
Calvin might would consider the noetic effect as something in line with predestination, relieving God of culpability in selecting souls before the creation of the world for damnation. Others might see the noetic effect of sin as something that prevenient grace can pull a soul through.
The word is not in the bible, but is the concept?
In Romans 1.28, a passage that is a bane to the gay-christian movement, Paul says that those people who engaged in homosexuality were given over to a mind that is castaway, or reprobate. In others words, because of the vileness of the sin, God gave them a mind that rejected Him.
Further, Paul tells Titus
To the pure all things are pure, but to the corrupt and unbelieving nothing is pure. Their very minds and consciences are corrupted. They profess to know God, but they deny him by their actions. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.
(Tit 1:15-16 NRVS)
Or to Timothy, when Paul said,
Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.
(2Ti 3:8 KJVA)
Here we see that those, although they may profess faith, who reject God are themselves given to such a mind that they are unable to see their immorality. In a previous letter to the young Christian, Paul wrote,
Whoever teaches otherwise and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that is in accordance with godliness, is conceited, understanding nothing, and has a morbid craving for controversy and for disputes about words. From these come envy, dissension, slander, base suspicions, and wrangling among those who are depraved in mind and bereft of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. Of course, there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment;
(1Ti 6:3-6 NRVS)
So, it would be safe to say that sin drives a wedge between the mind of man and the righteous ways of God. Theologians have tackled this, especially in dealing with the fact that our salvation is not wrought by the works of man, but is fully resting upon God. Yet, how can a sinner come freely to God? Of course, as an Arminianist, I subscribe to the ‘preceding grace’ of John Wesley as something in line with biblical concepts. (Much more so than Calvinism)
I believe that sin can damage the mind to such an extent that God simply cannot call a soul to salvation any longer. Again, you can reject God and His ways, His call, to such a point that the mind is uncallable, and those the soul unsavable.
Look at the abortion debate. It is usually framed in moralistic terms on both sides. One side says that murder is morally wrong. The other side says that it is morally acceptable, and indeed, choice itself is a moral, for a woman to abort a fetus. It is, after all, her body. This side says that it is immoral to control another person’s body.
But morality has been predetermined by God. A ‘choice’ that is against this predetermined morality is a sin. Everyone has a right to make choices, to sin or not to sin, but consequences are always brought to bare. In abortion cases, some women will later suffer something akin to post traumatic stress syndrome, called Post Abortion Syndrome. Some say it is rare; others say it occurs with every abortion.
Dr. Edmonson says,
Some women may work through the aftermath of abortion with the aid of a support group, their church or family and friends. But I believe the only person who would not be affected by an abortion would be someone with severe character disorder. Such an individual can form no real attachment to other human beings and therefore has no feeling for how her actions affect others.
The better a woman’s capacity to repress, the longer the disorder will be put off, but the greater the eventual stress. Some women can talk quite glibly about the issue. They build support groups and are not consciously bothered by their abortions, but they spend a great deal of time and energy justifying them.
Thus we come to see an physical sign on the stress on the mind caused by sin. Yet, people attempt to justify abortion. Yet, ‘christians’ believe that being pro-choice is something that Christ would have agreed to, attempting to use bible to justify
Homosexuality is the same way. Although physiological effects have been noted in a majority of individuals, as well as physical issues, homosexuality is still promoted by many as being natural and groups are constantly seeking ‘tolerance’. Yet a holy God as decreed sin in all of it’s forms as corrupt. To many today, because of the noetic effect has taken to seeing homosexuality, and indeed many other sins, as something well within the designs of God. For those ‘christians’ who promote such a idea, the hypocrisy exists int he fact that the same Bible that proclaims to them their ‘god’ also proclaims the very God of the Bible has condemned homosexuality, abortion, and sin and has called all of humanity to repent of such sins.
The effects of sin on the mind is well documented in the world today, when entire movements are built on providing equal rights to those that abuse themselves and murder the innocents. Those who seek to stand against such abominations are roundly criticized as homophobic and shoved from the conversation. I am not one for government involvement in matters of individual morality (who cares if they get ‘married’?), instead believing that the heart has to be won before any law becomes an effective deterrent.
One thing that worries me is the nature of attacks against those that even choose to deny the validity of ‘homosexual-rights’ or the stance of the ‘pro-choice’ movement is horrendous. This is directly related to the mind being so defiled and deformed with sin, that any voice for righteousness is seen as the abhorrent one.
When approached by a family member about accepting their homosexuality, to which I refused to accept that lifestyle as natural, they literally justified themselves by claiming to have accepted me for my ‘lifestyle’. My lifestyle is a traditional marriage in a fundamentalist church. Now, I did not refuse them in my home, but their lifestyle (partner, etc…). My stance was that I had enough respect for them not to bring in my ‘lifestyle’ (preaching, traditional values) into their home and force them to accept them. Their sin deformed mind could not reason well, and I doubt that many homosexuals can reason such, but the fact remains: if I have to accept their values, why should they not accept mine? (No matter the level of tolerance that they preach, to accept our values would mean an ending of theirs.)
We can see the effects of sin on the mind by watching television where barriers of decency are being destroy every season, and commercials are produced promoting sexuality of any kind in order to sell more sin. We see young stars becoming engaged in lifestyles detrimental to their lives, but this is accepted and excepted. In the clothing departments, it is difficult to buy clothes that are fitting for a young girl because most seek to dress them as prostitutes. The deformed mind finds this acceptable and promotable. It sees anything as a challenge to this lifestyle as something detrimental to the ‘creativity’ if the young mind.
I readily know, as many do, the effects of sin on the body, but sin also seeks to destroy the mind, forever separating it from the power of God’s call. It is my prayer that no one turns away from conviction, lest you find yourself unable to answer when you most want to.