Pastor Todd Carnes, Radius Church
Almost weekly there is a new flashpoint in the cultural debate around same sex marriage. This will be the norm for the foreseeable future, as all types of ministries and businesses decide how to proceed in this new environment. Last week I read how World Vision, the world’s largest Christian aid agency, changed its policies to allow for married same sex couples to now work for them. After just 48 hours of hearing feedback from their supporters, they reversed the decision.
As I listen to the fallout from this latest flashpoint, the thing that is most frustrating is listening to the sloppy thinking and false analogies people seem to believe. In almost every conversation, some well meaning person reminds us that we have all sinned and the sin of envy is listed right beside the sin of homosexuality in 1 Corinthians, so who am we to exclude those in same sex relationships? Others will pipe in and remind us that the church is so forgiving of young adults who are sleeping around and yet we always treat the homosexual population differently.
However, both of these arguments, and most others, are flawed by the power of a false analogy. Let me explain. The sin of being in a homosexual relationship is not like the sin of struggling against envy or the sin of having slept around in the past. Those who are in a same sex marriage have embraced their particular form of sexual immorality and have a commitment to live in that immorality for a lifetime. They have taken what God calls sin and renamed it as good and are committed to it for the foreseeable future. On the other hand, those who are struggling with envy are people who know envy is sinful and they continue to call it sinful, yet they still find it within themselves. Thus they are “struggling” against it, not advocating for it. Likewise, those who who have wallowed in immorality in the past, but still call it sinful, are guilty of sin no doubt. But again, they are currently struggling against it, not advocating for it. Only if they had a change of heart and were currently sleeping around AND advocating for this lifestyle, assuring others that God is now ok with it, would the analogy hold true.
So please don’t misunderstand and think the church has chosen to make homosexuality a sin that is worse than all the others. That is simply not the case. The church is a place filled with sinners, all of whom struggle with various sins and no one class is singled out. What is different in the case of homosexuality is that many who are currently involved the homosexual lifestyle have chosen to not only embrace this particular sin, but they have gone a step further and said the sin is no longer a sin at all, but rather it is good and can be embraced for life. That is why you will hear the church’s voice in contradiction to this again and again. It is not an issue of debating an individual’s decision of how they want to live out their own sexuality. That is their choice and they have absolute freedom in that realm. It is America, after all. The point of conflict rises to the surface because the church has a duty to refute the deception that is being espoused in the name of God, namely, that God has no real sexual ethic other than to do whatever feels right to you. All of us are tempted to rewrite (or reinterpret) God’s standards to bring them in line with our own personal desires (especially our sexual desires), and in such instances the church has a duty to humbly, yet confidently remind us of God’s unchangeable truth, which ultimately brings freedom to us. Thus, the true conflict is not so much about this or that person’s particular sexual habits or lifestyle. Rather, it is focused on the statements which put God’s stamp of approval on their particular sexual habits or lifestyle. In other words, it is one thing to live a life of so called sexual freedom, but it is quite another to place God’s stamp of approval upon it. It is one thing to sin and call it a sin, it is an entirely different thing to sin and called it good.
So what do you think?
“Haven’t you read,” he (Jesus) replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate”. Matthew 19