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January 26, 2012

Comments

How about we murder anyone who thinks homosexuality is the worst sin, and then they can tell us what they think

As much as I appreciate and agree with your overall point, I disagree your example. Show me a church that will overtly welcome a post-abortive woman (not one who has come out of their own after they've gotten to know her, but one who proclaims her status as post-abortive when walking through the door). Show me the church that will open its arms to ex-felons, or the one in which no one will look down on the alcoholic (because, really, to say that the church welcomes the post-abortive woman or ex-felon is more on par with saying the church doesn't welcome ex-homosexuals. In the first two cases it is a past sin, in the last it is a current one). Really, it's more a problem of the church having two sets of sin - one set (gossip, lying, the "respectable sins") that are okay and one set (homosexuality, abortion, addiction, etc) that are "worthy" of judgement. We need to realize that all sin separates us from God and that all sin - not to mention our own nature as sinners - makes us worthy of hell.

The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.

But I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life. (1Tim. 1:15-16 ESV)


Each person should think of their own sin as the worst.
It is the worst because it's yours. It is the worst because it is what keeps you from union with Christ. It's not just an "obstacle." It's the thing.

The key word here is "own."

Until you feel the conviction of the Holy Spirit that your sin is the worst, you'll continue to live in your sin, all the while pointing out the sins of others. Once you've realized that, your heart is more open to the live giving work that Christ wants to do in your life.

This applies to all of the sinners you listed in your post.

Honestly, I'm just encouraged that any believers in the west still recognize homosexual behavior as sinful at all, since it seems like so many of our brothers and sisters have gone down the postmodern rabbit hole.

Here's a recent post I saw from a somewhat influential 'mommyblogger' who presents herself as a middle-of-the-road middle-American evangelical, and even says halfway through "we love the Bible so much", and yet somewhere along the line she's absorbed some absolutely colossal untruths about how societal norms are authoritative over an "evolving" scripture, and "every person is divine" and that the Bible was written in a certain context and humanity is progressed far since then, etc. http://momastery.com/blog/2012/01/22/a-mountain-im-willing-to-die-on-2/ She entitles the post "a mountain I'm willing to die on", which is particularly tragic in itself, as the Bible is full of accounts of people who wanted to create their own religion, and found only confusion and dismay in their mountains and high places.

Excuse ME, while I motor my personal mobility device through the buffet line while piling my plate to overflowing!

You've seen them, men whose bellies look about nine months pregnant and women whose girth is so large that they have to wear a tent like garment, those who have to pull a cart for their oxygen bottles because they have heart failure due to side effects of a life time of gluttony.

We avert our eyes from them, and in church we take great care not to mention their "weight problem" for fear of insulting them. Oh, but we DO rail against the homosexuals for THEIR lifestyle choice!

Worst sin? Take your pick, their are plenty of them, but some are more socially acceptable than others.

Amanda, any sinner would be welcome at our church. It's pretty awesome to be in one that "gets it."

In my own mind I think the worst sins out there from a human standpoint should be pride, selfishness, and our constant struggle with unbelief. But, God detests all sin. A Holy God must abhor all of it in His presence.

Actually pointing out homosexual behavior as a sin is mainly because it is a sin. Gluttony while never shown in a good light nor encouraged in the Bible, is actually never called a sin. Looked through all the Levitcal sins and their punishments, not there. Look throught the lists in 1 Corinthians and 1 Timothy and any other list in the NT, not there. That actually is another example of society dictating what is sin and what isn't. Being a glutton, something never called a sin in the Bible, is raised to the level of something that is called a sin many times over in scripture. Don't take this post the wrong way, I agreee with the article. I just don't agree with post and the idea that "weight problems" are a sin, like homosexuality, gossip, disobedient to parents and any other sin listed in the Bible.

"But the Bible doesn’t elevate its status above all other sins." So you say but that does not make it so. You offer no proof. On top of that you never once refer to the main passage in the NT about homosexual sin. Why is that? Because it totally contradicts the whole flimsy premise of your article, which is that homosexuality is like all the other sins. Why did you leave out Romans 1 where God makes it very clear that unlike other sins which are natural (like pride, lust for the opposite sex, lying etc.) the sin of homosexuality is UNATURAL. It is AGAINST NATURE! Now note carefully. 1. The Holy Spirit, that is God Himself, makes the distinction. 2. This is the only sin of which it is stated that God GIVES THEM UP and GOD GIVES THEM OVER to a downwards spiral of sin to the point where the whole society disintegrates. I repeat, God makes the distinction and God says of them only that he GIVES THEM UP AND OVER to further stupidity, sin and hardness of heart. The number of people converted out of all the other sins – billions. The number of people truly saved and delivered from the sin of homosexuality. Very few.

William, I suggest you read the rest of Romans 1 particularly 28-32. It pretty much covers all sin as being the result of God giving humanity up to its sinfulness: "28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God's decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. (Rom. 1:1 ESV)"

William, I am not going to address your issue with Romans 1 because I am fairly sure it will be addressed by others. But what I do want to ask you is if perhaps your view of the boundless, powerless gospel of grace is to small. Do you really believe that God cannot deliver the vilest, most hell-bent, most hardened among us? Do you believe honestly that you yourself were not AMONG the vilest, most hell-bent, most hardened? It seems that Paul himself believed he fit this category in I Timothy 1:15-16. He didn't add on a sidenote that said, "of whom I am chief....except for the homosexuals. They are far worse off than me."

I'd encourage you to really reflect upon the greatness of the God we serve to save sinners. I'd encourage you to not limit the power of the gospel to change any man's heart because God HAS and DOES lavish people in the homosexual community with His GRACE and gives them new hearts and new minds. And if He's only done it ONCE--if He's only ever saved ONE homosexual--that is enough reason to love them and share the gospel with them, for what makes us think He would not do it again?

One of the things I have often struggled with is that many other sins, when the person recognizes it, or when it is pointed out, desire to be cleansed from that sin. I desire to not be angry, I desire not to be glutton (whether it is a sin or not...well?), I desire not to be prideful. The struggle I have in the conversation is the tendency to make it not a sin. I will happily welcome into fellowship any person practicing a homosexual lifestyle if he desires to be cleansed by the blood of the lamb for that, as well as all other, sins, but to continue to turn a blind eye to it is to contradict God's word. In my experience, when homosexuality is pointed out as sinful (which the Bible clearly indicates), homosexuals often leave the church or get angry, I suppose like many sinners when confronted on their sin.

"Don’t get me wrong: homosexual behavior is a serious sin." All sins are serious, aren't they? At least that's what I get from Revelation 21:8.

Thanks for a thought-provoking post,
Tim

William, I suggest you read the rest of Romans 1 particularly 28-32. It pretty much covers all sin as being the result of God giving humanity up to its sinfulness. If you go back and read the LOGICAAL downgrade as presented by the Holy Spirit - the last verses are a direct result of homosexual behaviour becoming acceptable. It starts with people 1.Not glorifying God 2. Not being thankful (post Christian world) and moves from there to anti-Christian world (homosexuality is the norm and welcomed as mainstream) down to God giving them THEM (the THEN and THEY of the last verses) Up to more sin and further downgrade. To ignore this is to destroy the whole logic and meaning of ROmans 1.

I'd encourage you to really reflect upon the greatness of the God we serve to save sinners. I'd encourage you to not limit the power of the gospel to change any man's heart (Carly) you are very quick to judge - no where have I said anything like that....

Question: is what God says about homosexuality in Romans1 (He says at least two things) said about any other sin?

I'm always amazed that 1 Cor. 6:18 is typically left out of these types of conversation: "Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body."

Admittedly, the commentators are not entirely sure what "sins against his own body" means specifically, but it reasonable to conclude that Paul is putting sexual sin in general (porneia) in a category all unto itself. This would include other sexual sins that fall out of monogamous heterosexual married relations.

This blog post is thought-provoking and correct in some ways, but I don't think that we can ignore the fact that sexual sin is elevated above other types of sin in the Bible. A lot of people's reaction is unbiblical and judgmental, but we can't just throw sexual sin in the same category as gossip or overeating because the scriptures do not do so.

Today sex outside of marriage is as prevelant in evangelical circles as in the world. So the word evangelical is now as meaningless as Christian....

Amanda states: "Show me a church that will overtly welcome a post-abortive woman". There is such a church - the Catholic Church. Its called Project Rachel: http://www.americancatholic.org/messenger/jan2002/feature2.asp.
This ministry operates in 140 different American dioceses.

We are having a big discussion on facebook about this post - one friend says Koukl completely ignored Scriptures that show there are levels of sin and that Koukl did not offer biblical proof of his assertion.

Mr. Koukl, if you would like to see the conversation, here it is:

http://www.facebook.com/Romans4/posts/344698142221678

I think a large part of the reason that Christians often treat homosexuality as a particularly vile sin is that it's one they don't feel tempted by. Furthermore, the people in their lives who struggle with that sort of temptation are typically not very open about it. (It's a self-perpetuating cycle of silence, which does no good and does not bring sanctification.)

I've really started to realize this lately, as a Christian who struggles with same-sex attraction myself. I've recently become far more open with believers in my life, and I think that really helps them understand these issues. They often do see ways in which my struggles with sin are similar to their own struggles with pornography or lust or what not. I do still use a psuedonym online due to potential employment issues, etc.

For those who talk about homosexuality being a bigger sin than others, I wonder where on the totem pole they put divorce?

A person walks into a Christian church and says:
“I’m a Christian.
I’m a practicing homosexual and I intend to remain this way.
I can see that the Christian Bible says that homosexuality is a sin.
I expect the church to treat me as if I’m not intentionally sinning.”
Should the Christian church be condemned for not accepting the person?

Who cares whether people think homosexuality is the worst sin of all? What I'd like to know is this: Why are Christians maligned for being intolerant of someone who: 1)claims to be Christian, 2) still fully intends to engage in sin (any sin), and 3)expects to be warmly welcomed?
The "homosexual" Christian can't have it both ways, and the church that condones Christian homosexuality has un-Christian doctrine. One can be an intentional Christian, or be a intentional homosexual, but you can't be both. They are mutually exclusive.
It would be a little like saying, "I'm an anti-abortion abortionist."

Steve, where did you get the idea that specifically those professing to be Christians were in view?

In view of what, Neo?

Well, you brought up the issue of professing Christians who practice homosexual behavior and are not repentant. I'm just wondering why you brought that particular group of people up. I may have missed something in the comments, but the article seemed like it addresses primarily those who don't profess to be Christians. It could also apply to Christians with same-sex attractions (who perhaps stuggle with homosexual behavior in some cases) but who are repentant just as much as it does the unrepentant.

So Steve, I guess anyone who has been divorced and remarried and intends to remain married to their second (or third/fourth, Newt I'm talking to you!)spouse is a hypocrite if they call themselves a "faithful Christian."

Maybe so. I've thought about that one a lot, and I just don't have a good answer for that one; especially the part about remaining married to a 2nd spouse.
There is a difference, however, in these two examples; the remarriage argument is a straw man fallacy in this case, I think. The Christian who intends to continue engaging in homosexual behavior is more like a murderer who intends to continue murdering. I can't say emphatically that the person married for a second time is in the same situation. Yes, it's quite possible that the remarried Christian sinned at the point in time when they divorced and also when they remarried. But it's not clear to me that they remain in a state of sin as a result of the remarriage. I just don't know the answer to that one yet.
But a Christian who fully intends to continue sinning, on purpose, is in trouble. They should be concerned about whether they are really saved or not. And I think the church should not treat the intentionally sinning person as Christian brother. I'm not saying they're not saved... I'm just saying it's questionable, and they ought to "search out their salvation with fear and trembling".

Some of this probably roots into identity politics. Most of us don't think of our identity as tied up with being a thief, or an idolator, or an adulterer, even if we do any or all of those things. However, society trains us to think of sexual preference as an identifier. No wonder they would be treated worse--they are being identified *as* the behavior identified as sinful. It's a painfully reductive way to view a human being, whether you think same-sex attraction is sinful or not.

As to what the worst sin is? Couldn't say. In my philosophical moods I might posit that the worst sin is my own. Yours are yours, I don't control them. Motes and logs in eyes, straining at gnats, and all that.

That's the problem with us treating morality as if it's tantamount to a code of laws. The problem with that kind of morality is that it is (painful admission here) relative. Any rule has to be contextualized, it'll have exceptions, and so on.

We talk a lot about 'sin' as a violation of some list of rules. As if being good came from obeying dos and do nots. It doesn't.

As circular as it sounds, good behavior comes from good character. We'll teach kids lists of rules up and down, but when do we talk about virtues like honesty, integrity, compassion, honor, dignity, humility, generosity, and so on? We can dither all day about whether behavior X is moral or immoral in a given circumstance. Moral codes can't be absolute, because that's the nature of a code. But moral qualities, I'd argue, are much more objective and necessary. (Just as we could dither all day about how wet something has to be before we consider it 'soaked', but there's no way to claim water ain't water)

Homosexuality could be classed under "lust", perhaps, and in some theology that's held as the *least* destructive sin, far less difficult to overcome than things like gluttony, apathy, anger, or pride. That last one may be the worst of all, because it breeds the self-love and conceit that motivates and lets us justify all others.

A person walks into a Christian church and says:
“I’m a Christian.
I’m a practicing homosexual and I intend to remain this way.
I can see that the Christian Bible says that homosexuality is a sin.
I expect the church to treat me as if I’m not intentionally sinning.”
Should the Christian church be condemned for not accepting the person?


(Hell NO! Give them an award for upholding God's Word and standards - and start raising funds as they will be sued!)

Regarding Neo: "I'm just wondering why you brought that particular group of people up. I may have missed something in the comments, but the article seemed like it addresses primarily those who don't profess to be Christians."

I think the article is addressing/representing Christians primarily, with an understanding that others probably will read also. The author uses language like "we" to describe Christian thought throughout the article.

Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. 19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
(any immorality is taking the precious body of Jesus Christ and forcing it into terrible sin -be not deceived...)

I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing to you that you must not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister[c] but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or slanderer, a drunkard or swindler. Do not even eat with such people.

(This is so clear you have to be a moral idiot and ant-Christ in your sould to reject this - it covers all sexual and other sins...)

Bad word choice on my part - it seemed to me that the article was talking *to* Christians, but was primarily *about* people who do not profess to be Christians.

Looking back at it, I do see one paragraph that talks about professing Christians pretty explicitly (starting their own denominations, turning to pro-gay theology, etc.) That just struck me as a side point, although it's quite possible I'm misunderstanding the thrust of the original article.

"This is so clear you have to be a moral idiot and ant-Christ (sic) in your sould (sic) to reject this - it covers all sexual and other sins..."

Filled with the love of Christ, aren't we?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=umLUKBlpyoY

Have a care, William. That whole "sword of God" thing is a metaphor.

Well said, William Oosterman.

To Bennett,
To be fair, you must be able to see that it can be very aggravating to see so many people not understanding what God has already said very clearly. The Scripture that Oosterman put forth is clear; yet people in and out of the church can't figure it out. I totally understand Oosterman's zeal. I frequently feel the same way, and insult is added to injury when the Christian who points out some of these things is ridiculed as being intolerant or a bigot.
God says things in his Word that are very clear; He also says some things that take more careful thought to understand. But when people can't figure out the really basic stuff, and then attack the Christian who has things pretty well figured out, it's infuriating.

Hello,

Thank you for tackling this subject. I can't say I agree totally with your point but I won't be dogmatic about it. I will offer biblical examples that I believe support my stance.

You say that the bible does not elevate homosexuality above all other sins. I would say it does not either but it is addressed in a special way.

First, a general example. Ephesians 5:23-33 is a treatise of how marriage (between a man and a women) is likened to the relationship Jesus has with His bride. Therefore, it is a Godly foundation. Corrupting it carries special significance.

Secondly and more specifically, Sodom was destroyed for homosexuality, which is a pretty big indicator of how God feels about that sin. But even more so, it was destroyed *as an example* to the ungodly. God didn't destroy Sodom because they were gossipers as an example to the rest of us. He didn't destroy Sodom because they were slanderers as an example to the rest of us. He destroyed the city for homosexuality as an example. 2 Peter 2:6 explains. As does Jude 1:7.

A second specific example is that homosexuality isn't just a sin among sins, it is a JUDGMENT. (Romans 1:21-32).

That said, homosexuality is a sin and like any and all sins, Jesus will forgive them if the offender repents. He is a merciful God and will allow the penitent person to be washed if they are sincere.


When the Word of God is clear, as is the case in what Oosterman presented, and people don’t accept the Word, but rather, attack the one presenting it, it makes me think of the following analogy:
A man is standing at a busy intersection, and is about to step into oncoming traffic when a woman grabs him and pulls him back to safety. Then the woman explains that it’s not the right time to cross the street. The man pulls away from the woman, and says, “Leave me alone.” Then he steps back out into traffic. The woman, now getting upset a little because the danger is real, pulls the man out of traffic again, points to the crossing light (representing the Word of God) which is flashing “Don’t Walk”, and says to the man, “That light says you’re not supposed to cross.” The man pushes the woman away saying, “I don’t believe in that mythical stuff” and moves into the traffic again. The woman shouts at the man, “Stop being stupid, or you’ll get yourself killed!” Then everybody calls the woman an intolerant bigot, saying she has no right to push her beliefs on anyone else. Lastly, the man gets clobbered by a truck, which crashes into your car, killing everyone in the two vehicles.
I think the woman is perfectly reasonable, and should be commended and comforted. And the man really is stupid. Which person are you?

Well said, Elizabeth Prata. Perfect!

Steven,

I'm not disputing whether the Bible says that homosexuality is acceptable. I'm cautioning against calling people "moral idiots". In any debate, when you get down to assuming that those with whom you disagree are A) Stupid, or B) Evil, then it has become a pointless discussion.

Furthermore, it's an utter abrogation of the Ambassador approach, which involves not only knowledge, but also a winsome, tactful manner, and a desire to win a soul, not a point. My father was a DI and I come from a rural background. If I felt the need to turn every debate into a match of insults and unkind language, I'd win a whole lot of fights. I'd also lose a whole lot of friends.

And the video post, Bennett? What is Oosterman supposed to understand from that? Aren't you saying that Oosterman is just like the character that's being clearly portrayed as an unreasonable bible-bashing jerk? Aren't you directly ridiculing him? Or were you trying to a use winsome, tactful manner, and a desire to win a soul, not a point?
It seems to me that Oosterman is saying that the person out there who reads the passages he presented, and then rejects them, is messed up. Just like the stupid man who insists on getting killed in traffic.
Can God's Word stand on its own? I say of course it can. Did Oosterman have to use the words moral idiot? No, but I think it's reasonable to more forcefully address a person, in the following case: when the person is faced with the reality that sin brings death, and yet still keeps sinning, on purpose, maybe it would be helpful to call him an idiot to kind of wake him up! The sinner intent on sinning is going to die if left to his own nonsense.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.

Filled with the love of Christ, aren't we?

Have a care, William. That whole "sword of God" thing is a metaphor.(Bennet)

Yes - MY Jesus made the whip himself and drove out the wicked from the temple! That was JESUS LOVE on display. Love for the HOLY HOLY HOLY GOD. Would God we had a few Christians today not sold out to the wimpish Satan inspired Jesus...and we do, Thank God!

Bennett,
I want you to understand that I'm not angry at you. I went up and read your post from January 26, 2012 at 01:52 PM, and it's very good, especially the bit about pride. I just think that sometimes it can be maddening when otherwise reasonable people are exposed to the Word of God and reject it, especially when it is so clear and reasonable. And I remember that occasionally, I have to be called an idiot to get me to pay attention, so I figure others might, too. It wouldn't be my normal MO, but sometimes a guy has to be called an idiot before he notices he's being idiotic. Keep in mind that Oosterman didn't call anyone particular a moral idiot. It seems to me that he was addressing the "unknown plural you" "out there, possibly reading this", and I think he meant, "you'd have to be a moral idiot" to see the truth of God's Word and then reject it.

"moral idiot" My dad coined the phrase. What he meant and what the words mean is that some people are incapable of knowing right from wrong - ie. no MORAL compass. IDIOT in the old meaning of the word fits very well. It is not an insult, it is a fact and describes people who reject God's Word and Law.

Brother Wright you are so right!

If I felt the need to turn every debate into a match of insults and unkind language, I'd win a whole lot of fights (Bennet) The problem in this case my friend is you have dealt with NONE of the arguments presented by God In Romans 1.

Steven,

The point of the video was (and it's a bit tongue in cheek) to caution against becoming that, not to say that anyone here actually is.

-----

William,

You're just shouting at me and I've lost all interest. If you find this to be a pattern in your interactions with others in general, try switching to decaf or something.

Bennet - typical cop out!

Whoa, whoa, fellas! Enough. I'm removing several of these comments, as they've descended into insults. Perhaps try again when you've cooled down in the morning.

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