In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.
“‘Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable.
The above Scriptures have been used to validate the sinfulness of homosexuality. I believe it is a sin as well. However, I believe you can think something is sinful but not bemoan the individual. Now, this isn’t meant to insinuate a “hate the sin, love the sinner” mentality.
When we use such language, we create the very divisions we are commanded not to make. Blessed are the peacemakers. We are to keep the peace in so far as it depends upon us, leading a quiet life and not stirring up strife. When we use language that denotes a separation between an act and a person, we essentially wind up focusing on the action rather than the person. Sadly, we are a culture of works and achievements. We have difficulty seeing someone aside from their actions. It is true that faith without works is dead and out of the motivation of the heart the mouth speaks. However, you are more than the deeds the world recognizes you by. We are created in the image of God and loved deeply by him. Just because someone refuses to consistently point out the sin in a friend’s life doesn’t mean you are casting aside convictions. Perhaps, you are choosing to love first and let the Holy Spirit do the work of conviction.
Still, why do we only seem to use the language of conviction and needing to repent when it comes to homosexuality and transgender individuals? Isn’t repentance required by all Christ-followers? If we looked at the grievous sins permitted in the church today, we’d be aghast, or at least we should be.
1Cor6:8-10: “On the contrary, you yourselves wrong and defraud. You do this even to your brethren. Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.…” Please note here that adulterers are called out too. Most individuals think adultery is having sexual realtions with an individual other than your spouse. Please notice God’s commentary in Matt. 5:31-32 on what constitutes adultery, not just society’s view. “It was said, ‘WHOEVER SENDS HIS WIFE AWAY, LET HIM GIVE HER A CERTIFICATE OF DIVORCE’; but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” This means that divorce and remarriage can constitute as adultery itself! Statistics (which I should find and insert) have shown that the main cause of divorce today is due to financial duress, not unchaste behavior. If the church marries two people, with one or both individuals divorced for reasons other than marital unfaithfulness, that the church is approving adultery! Now the issue becomes a bit muddled when we discuss conversion and being new, but if the individuals were Christian at the time of the divorce and are Christian now, then they commit adultery in remarriage, no? This is at least how I understand the Scriptural text. Needless to say, I think this is a bigger issue in the church than homosexuality and transgenderism. Why aren’t we having sermons and accountability on this issue more?
It seems that our religious expression is getting the best of us again. It is far easier to pinpoint sin in others than it is to deal with how we, ourselves, are grieving God. Also, we know that looking at another individual and dwelling on them constitutes lust and adultery. Pornography is still a taboo topic not frequently addressed from most pulpits. Several individuals say that this is an issue that must be addressed in same-sex groups, no co-ed opportunities. Why? Did Paul only address sexual sin to men or did he not do it with the whole church? Was the letter only given to one gender and then the other on separate occasions? I don’t believe so. From the texts as I gather, it appears that the church was called to repentance as a whole, to suffer together, bearing burdens of our brothers and sisters in community, not isolated gender groups.
[A side note, practically unrelated: In church there is a constant use of language that men are visual beings who crave sex more. Women are called to modesty so as not to tempt men. First, this objectifies women into mere temptresses incapable of interaction with men except to be alluring. This also denotes that women aren’t really physical beings, but emotional creatures. Why aren’t men told to be modest too? Women aren’t for the sexual delight of their husbands. Husbands were created for their wives interest too, no? This also objectifies men, basically saying that they can’t control their appetite if they see a woman scantily clad. However, modesty seems to be relative among cultures, at least in dress code. Some cultures find shoulders and ankles to be more provocative than a bare chest. I argue that modesty is more how we carry ourselves and interact with others than it is about physical appearances. What else should we expect from a culture like America that emphasizes beauty through outward adornment though? FYI: Pornography isn’t just a male struggle. Women struggle too and when the church uses language that shames female sexuality, it leaves women feeling even more isolated when they are sinning and want to confess but fear that they are different than “normal” women.]
I’m sure if we looked hard enough, we’d notice sins that aren’t being addressed in our church. In fact, we might see a reflection of the very sin Jesus hated the most, pride. The religious elite were constantly critiqued by Jesus. Jesus called the Pharisees white washed tombs! How are we in the church dead inside while appearing righteous? What sins are we permitting because we are so focused on sins outside ourselves? A verse that is slowly characterizing my life, and I hope it manifests well, is to look at the plank in my own eye BEFORE addressing the spec in my fellow brethren. Also, we are to preach the good news of a Savior who came to save the lost. We must first put on love and teach people about Jesus (and if they don’t want to listen and reject him we are to shake the dust from our feet) then we can instruct the congregations in truth. Individuals are to accept Christ first and then through the Holy Spirit, be transformed. We don’t have to be made well prior to coming to God. If we must make ourselves clean before God accepts us, we commit idolatry, following the practices of other religions and committing the pride sin of the religious “elite”. Also, we all must accept Christ and be transformed, not just “those outright sexual sinners”.
The most grievous sin then appears to be pride. Let us wrestle with God about our own lives. Let us stop shining the spotlight on other people and “their sin” while we go unchecked. Also, if we have not love then we are just a resounding gong. No one will listen to the good news if we are merely spewing opinions, biases, and judgements before we admit that we ourselves are the worst of sinners, like Paul was able to confess. Oh Lord, make me humble. Make the church humble too. May I be one vessel for this change in the church. Amen.