I’m always grateful when the Lord uses Facebook to introduce me to new friends who ask thoughtful questions. People like that are, unfortunately, too few and far between on the Internet.
Amid the hubbub this past week over Chil-fil-A’s Dan Cathy affirming traditional marriage (which activists immediately perverted into ludicrous charges of anti-gay discrimination), my new friend was asking where, among Christian ministries like Multiply Justice, does the push come from for pointing out homosexuality as sin, more than say adultery. My friend asked: “If a young man in seminary realizes he has feelings towards men and thus chooses a life of abstinence, has a sin been committed? In the same sense, how has a happily monogamous same sex couple sinned?”
I made these notes out of our conversation:
The focus on homosexuality on Multiply Justice wouldn’t be as singular among other sins if it wasn’t being forced into the public arena by the activism and the pressure on Christians to recant the biblical position. For me, the Gospel is all about our brokenness and captivity and the freedom and healing Jesus offers. We all are broken and captive, and we will fight battles our whole lives, even after we find freedom and begin the journey toward wholeness in Christ. One side in this argument wants to pretend homosexuality is somehow a worse sin than, say, pride, gossip, or gluttony; the other side wants to excuse living in homosexuality by pointing out that hypocrisy. I want MJ to address injustice and justice comprehensively. We will talk about the injustice of adultery, and if activists start pushing the adultery issue, we will find we need to talk about it more.
My desire is that churches find a place to stand where those who want to experience new life help each other along the path, regardless of the kind of brokenness and captivity they struggle with. We want to be freed from our sin and we hold each other accountable. My viewpoint is that everyone should be welcome in church, as long as they acknowledge their sin problem is a problem and want to pursue redemption.
Where we hit a sticking point is when someone wants to have salvation but keep his pet sin. I can’t see how Scripture gives us that freedom. I want everyone to be loved and accepted, but not at the expense of deceiving people into thinking that repentance and transformation are not necessary.
As I have tried to better understand the issue, I have come to these conclusions:
(1) In creation, God made us male and female, and in that we reflect the image of God. The Creator intended our behavior to match our design: His first command was “Be fruitful and multiply.” Behavior other than God’s design is dysfunction.
(2) A person’s brokenness is always a complex matter. Part of it may be due to choices we have made, part of it to things others have done to us. In sexual dysfunction, there seems to almost always be an abuse or neglect involved at a young age. Sometimes it happens so young a person does not consciously remember the actual incident and may feel they were “born that way.”
(3) Feelings are not sinful, but dwelling on dysfunctional feelings and acting on them are sinful. All of us have dysfunctional feelings. Jesus gives us the option of being free to not act on them, to not dwell on them, and to ultimately be free of them.
(4) This journey is hard, and we need other believers around us to encourage and support us. We are safe with them, because they also acknowledge their brokenness and captivity and know they need us to help them along too.
(5) Everyone wants to keep a pet “besetting” sin. Everyone has a tendency to look down their noses at others who aren’t winning the battle with those sins. Jesus will have none of that. He requires transparency, humility, and compassion. He requires us to help, not criticize, “the least of these.”
(6) Salvation is living in, and journeying toward, the freedom and wholeness Jesus died to give us. While “we all stumble in many ways,” we cannot be on that journey if we continue to willfully indulge our pet sin. God calls us to holiness. Either we answer that call and are helped along the path to salvation, or we reject it and turn back from the “narrow path” to get on the “broad road.”
Church members who shun gays searching for spiritual truth will be judged themselves. Gays who are ultimately unwilling to be set free from their brokenness and insist on living their “lifestyle” are no different than church members who want to continue to live in their own pet sin. God is all about grace, and it is an amazing thing to experience. But God’s grace is tempered with his requirement of seeking holiness, and his judgment on those who reject it.
The Good News is that we don’t have to continue to live in brokenness and captivity, but the Good News isn’t such good news for people who won’t admit their need for freedom and healing.
I’ll ask you what I asked my new friend: Does that progression make sense to you? What have I left out?