This is certainly the most difficult thing for me to write. If I say that someone needs humility, that sounds awfully proud doesn’t it? If I say that someone has immature faith that sounds even worse. After all, I’m young yet; I shouldn’t lecture anyone on anything other than Chemistry, the thing I know best. Perhaps that would be good advice for writers, movie stars, and celebrities of every sort. When these people are new Christians whose time and energy is spent on their primary work, I think we can forgive a little Spiritual immaturity. However, there is one type of spiritual immaturity that I must comment on. I am reminded of it every time I read Andrew Klavan talking about homosexuality. He is an author I admire, and he deserves it; he tells gripping stories with real insight into the nature of man. But there seems to be a disconnect on this topic. He argues quite persuasively that Christians should not participate in censorship, using persuasion instead, and here I couldn’t agree more. However, he displays his lack of discernment, or his lack of understanding in articles like this one: Is Jesus Against Kooky Gay Guys?
It seems in this case that Klavan is demanding that Christians who think homosexuality is a sin shut up. He wants us to censor ourselves because (if I gather correctly over several articles like the one linked, where this exact topic is slightly tangential.): ‘From my reading and studying of the Bible, Jesus is concerned with re-directing your soul through him back toward its creator. Your soul, not someone else’s. He’s very specific about that. If you’re passing judgment on another guy’s soul, you’re thinking about the wrong thing.’ And because he has nice gay friends who are really happy together and he doesn’t think God forbids it, or at least, it isn’t that bad.
For the first, immature Christians are very obsessed by the ‘Do not judge’ passages. (In the article above, Klavan refers to the parable about the speck in your neighbor’s eye.) I find this also fairly prevalent in the Christian Novel Contest I help judge … 🙂 … Here is the problem. If we ‘do not judge’ as Mr. Klavan seems to mean, then are we to never say something is a sin? Are we never to say to someone: This or That is a sin? I certainly don’t suggest that we incessantly tell non-Christians that this specific thing is a sin. They must be first convinced that sin is real and that it is a threat to their eternity before they can even care what specific things might also be sins. But if, as Christians, we cannot point to behaviors, actions, or thoughts of our own, or of others, and say ‘This is certainly a sin.’ Then how, should sanctification proceed? If a Christian who through study of scripture and consultation with those who know more than himself becomes convinced that God abhors homosexual behavior then should he censor himself? Or should he speak up?
And here is where a level of maturity is required. Simply because I believe that homosexuality is sinful does NOT imply that I find it the only sin, or the worst sin. Strangely enough, I hold to the traditional merciful Lutheran teaching that homosexuality is no worse a sin than adultery. They are both sexual perversions, and, without repentance and faith in Christ, they both lead to damnation. It is harder to have one sin be worse than another when they both lead the soul to damnation. But guess what: other sins known to lead to damnation include pride, avarice, sloth… the 7 deadly sins certainly. And since I am not a Catholic, I do not see anywhere any distinction between mortal and venial sins. I see it nowhere in Scripture, so I do believe that gossiping and the desire to commit a sin, even if never acted upon is worthy of damnation. (If those aren’t venial sins, my Catholic friends will correct me, but the point remains the same.)
But here is the thing, if all sins lead to damnation, then when a Christian points out that homosexuals are sinning, especially ones who are open to the message of Christ and Him crucified, showing someone their sin is the first step to sharing the Gospel. As for the people who speak specifically stridently about homosexuality, (Some of them are obviously, horrifically wrong: Westboro Baptist jumps into the mind). many people single out this sin since it is currently the one that is on a campaign to be normalized as ‘acceptable’ not just throughout the secular culture, but in the church as well. And on this front, Mr. Klavan is on the wrong side. Jesus does stand against normalized sin in his Church.
And this brings up the other immaturity so rampant among the newly Christian, and the denominations that have deserted their heritage; forgetting to hate the sin. Being a follower of Christ, an imitator of Christ, means to do your very best to love what Christ loves and reject what He rejects. Christ certainly loves the sinner, but you cannot love the sinner without rejecting the sin. Christ, the only one who was qualified to cast the first stone and does not, certainly loves the sinner. Then what happens?
Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”
He doesn’t just stop at ‘Neither do I condemn you.’ He also commands her to go and sin no more. He never says that her adultery was acceptable, or not that bad. He forgives her sin, and tells her not to do it again.
And that, that is the other side of the coin. We must search out what God himself despises as sinful behavior, and recognize it as such. And if we find ourselves in disagreement with God, well, that too is sinful and we must repent and learn to submit our opinions to the knowledge of God. So, for the many Christians who find themselves in disagreement with traditional church teaching about what constitutes a sin should do something about it. I do not suggest that they must automatically accept the traditional teaching, (again, I’m not a Catholic) but they absolutely must take it into consideration. This is especially true if for almost two thousand years, every Christian group taught something was sinful. This includes those that are schismatic, even those considered to be heretical amongst each other. In this case, the weight of that consensus should demand a careful, prayerful consideration of what the Scriptures do indeed say on the topic. And if you find that you disagree with the Scriptures, remember that you are the one that is wrong.
The belief that God permits homosexuality, so popular in many modern denominations, is a few decades old aberration out of almost two hundred decades of Church history. It also happens to be most popular in denominations that have just as recently abandoned the teaching or doctrine that the Scripture is the inerrant Word of God, and also, frequently the teaching or doctrine that there is only one path to God. It seems from my point of view that these churches are confounded by heresy, and their acceptance of homosexuality is perhaps the least of their problems.
There, I hope that I don’t come across as prideful, but the scriptures say that:
“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’
So just between you, reader, and me 🙂