November 25, 2020

iMonk 101: The Sin We Love To Hate

iMonk 101 posts are replays of previous Internet Monk posts.

This piece comes from February of ’07 and was written in response to comments by then NBA player Tim Hardaway about gays. I’ve never republished it. Hardaway apologized for his comments, but Jewish pundit Michael Medved wrote a column that gave the Jesus-subtracted culture war view of the subject. I think it will keep the IM audience involved in the Andrew Marin/Love is an Orientation discussion.

love-the-heterosexual-hate-their-sin.gifUPDATE: Michael Medved regularly reminds me of the difference Jesus makes in how I look at a cultural issue and how a Jewish conservative looks at the same issue. Law by Moses. Grace and Truth by Jesus.

“You know, I hate gay people, so I let it be known. I don’t like gay people and I don’t like to be around gay people,” he said. “I’m homophobic. I don’t like it. It shouldn’t be in the world or in the United States.” -Former NBA player Tim Hardaway.

As soon as I read the comments of former NBA player Tim Hardaway, I knew it wouldn’t be long before I heard a Christian come as close as possible to saying the exact same sentiment.

True to my intuition, it happened within a week. “Let’s not join the secular media in condemning Hardaway for not being politically correct, because as Christians, we hate that sin, too…..”

Someone wrote me the other day using the phrase “the other Trinity,” referring to evangelicals’ obsession with homosexuality, abortion and evolution. All are important issues, but does anyone else have the suspicion that we are no longer dealing with a balanced approach to Christian ethics, but a situation where the reactive energies attached to these issues are the engines dominating much evangelical engagement with the world?

In this atmosphere, when someone like Hardaway lets it fly with unapologetic hate-rhetoric, many Christians will feel a greater attraction to the opportunity to denounce homosexuality than to the opportunity to distance themselves from an especially ugly expression of bigotry. Ironically, is there anyone left in the galaxy who doesn’t know, or who actually cares, what conservative evangelicals think about the issue of homosexuality? Still, we have to be heard saying things about how we don’t hate anyone, but we sure know what he means. We want Jesus to be on the record as hating homosexuality, and of course, mildly offended at the hating people thing.

“Hate,” when applied to persons as Hardaway did, is the antithesis of what the Christian believes about God, the Gospel, Jesus or being a disciple. While a few creative exegetes are finding ways to use the imprecatory Psalms to allow us hate evil men with a clean conscience, the Gospels show Jesus loving adulteresses, prostitutes, the immoral woman shacking up at the trailer park, tax collectors, cowards, betrayers, thieves, violent men, liars and the general scum of the first century earth with equal divine generosity. The closest he came to the rhetoric of the imprecatory Psalms was for religious bigots and hypocrites.

Everything about Jesus is the opposite of Hardaway’s comments, right down to “I don’t want them in my locker room,” or table, or house, or wherever sexual sinners are to be found in your world. Associating with Jesus, but finding some way to cozy up to Hardaway’s disapproval of homosexuality doesn’t amount to a statement of your strong disapproval of sexual sin. It reveals your profound disconnection and ignorance of what Jesus was all about.

I have a young friend who, according to reputation, evidence and behavior, appears to be in a same-sex relationship. More than one mutual Christian friend has come to me concerned about this person. It’s a difficult matter. She is clearly not comfortable with femininity, and this relationship brings her much happiness and a feeling of being loved. In every instance, the message others want to send seems to be “She needs to know this is wrong.” (How they know the actual nature of the relationship is unknown to me. I wouldn’t presume to know quite as much.) In fact, if anything is true, I’m quite sure she knows that homosexual behavior is wrong in the eyes of the Christian God believed by the Christians she knows. She’s heard that from me on several occasions, with an open Bible, all the relevant verses and an earnest explanation of what God desires and commands in the area of sexuality. (Hebrews 13:4)

At the same time, I’ve made it a priority to love this individual. She needs love from friends like me. I’m sure Jesus would love her, and I’m sure he wants me to. I try to give her dignity and respect every day. I want what she’s heard from me to be matched with unparalleled acceptance. It’s important to me- really important- that I apply the Gospel to myself as well as to her.

You see that’s the problem that any Christian should be able to see with Tim Hardaway’s comments. They are totally vacant of the application of the Gospel. The Gospel greets and diagnoses all of us as sinners. The Gospel is like God in Genesis 6, a passage I teach my students over and over:

5 The LORD observed the extent of human wickedness on the earth, and he saw that everything they thought or imagined was consistently and totally evil. 6 So the LORD was sorry he had ever made them and put them on the earth. It broke his heart. 7 And the LORD said, “I will wipe this human race I have created from the face of the earth. Yes, and I will destroy every living thing—all the people, the large animals, the small animals that scurry along the ground, and even the birds of the sky. I am sorry I ever made them.” 8 But Noah found favor with the LORD….
11 Now God saw that the earth had become corrupt and was filled with violence. 12 God observed all this corruption in the world, for everyone on earth was corrupt. 13 So God said to Noah, “I have decided to destroy all living creatures, for they have filled the earth with violence. Yes, I will wipe them all out along with the earth!

I teach this passage because it is the best description of what God saw when he looked at all of us this morning that I know of. I stress this passage because I know my students are going to cruise right past Romans 6:23 and Romans 3:23 and camp on how outraged we all need to be at homosexuality. Because, like Tim Hardaway, we don’t LIKE it. We don’t LIKE people who do it and promote it. And it’s so much easier to talk about the sins we don’t like. We can be so much more convincing and genuine.

We can also, conveniently, keep the light of truth off of ourselves.

God is just as outraged, offended and wrathful at my pettiness, pride, laziness, lying, lust and gluttony as he is at my friend’s same sex relationship (if there is one.) The problem is, I LIKE my sins. Not as sin, but as behaviors that WORK for me just fine.

Where I live, our community is ravaged by poverty. Visible poverty is everywhere, much of it of the kind that would shock and sicken the typical suburban adult. There is a plague of meth and other drugs. Federal drug enforcement has the former mayor of our county seat under lock and key. We have DEA in the air half the year. Domestic abuse, incest, fraud, stealing: they are all rampant and we all drive past them every day. We see some of the problems up close in the lives and families of our students.

But when Tim Hardaway says, “I hate gays,” it strikes a chord in many Christians, because we hate homosexuality in a way we don’t hate poverty, racism, the neglect of children, government corruption, and the violence that surrounds us. We’ve allowed ourselves to feel the hatred of one sin that offends us, while we’ve thrown the blanket of denial and minimizing over our true character.

So let me say it for you it you have trouble: If you are someone in my life who is engaged in the sin of homosexual behavior, I love you. I respect you. I embrace you as a human being like me, a sinner like me, and person to whom God offers forgiveness and grace in the body and blood of his Son, Jesus. The Gospel is good news for both of us. My sexual sins are grevious to a holy God, and I need to confess and repent of them. I hope and pray you will join me, in believing and in repenting. If the way is hard, and it always is, I will stand with you. If you stumble, I will forgive you and help you pursue purity in and for Christ. If you insist that Christ did not die for your homosex, but has given it to you as a gift, I will disagree with you, but I will still love and respect you. I will still want you to be my friend, to be in my home, to worship with me and to be part of my life. I am blind to many of my sins as well, and I can’t look at you with hatred or condemnation when Christ Jesus died in order for me to be forgiven.

If what I just wrote to that friend bothers you, and if Hardaway’s statement makes you want to say something similar, but cleaned up, well I love you too, but we’ve got a ways to go to catch up with Jesus. The good news is I’m sure he’s waiting for us…as always.

[Note: I am aware that Hardaway has apologized, and I am in no way attempting to avoid the trap door I might be standing on with all other people who have written about this incident. I pray that Mr. Hardaway grows in gracious words and grace towards others.]

Comments

  1. alvin_tsf says

    thank you so much iMonk for this. i have been wrestling with this issue for a couple of years. my favorite aunt, whom i love dearly above all my relatives is a lesbian. she has been in a relationship longer than most marriages i know. i am a christian and often hesitate to engage her in the Word because i don’t want her to feel that i am being judgmental and to turn her away from me. i love her so much that i don’t want to lose being in touch with her. i guess more than anything else, i need to constantly tell her that i love her. that i too am broken in many many ways (she knows that as well) and that it is by the blood of the Lamb that i am healed and being transformed.

    i’m trying to get a copy of Andrew Marin’s book. i live in the Philippines and i haven’t found a copy yet. thank you for your thoughts. it is really shaped by Jesus and His good news for us all.

    alvin

  2. Genesis 6:5-13
    And look later at what a solid citizen Noah turned out to be.
    I think the whole over-emphasis on homosexuality is first a lie of the enemy to distract us from loving one another and announcing the Good News.
    It is also a convenient cultural lighting rod which as pointed out above is no worse or better than my own list of heinous crimes.
    My goodness, how relieved I am that my sins are not apparent by the clothes I wear or the way I talk.
    We are not at war with homosexuals, liberals, Muslims or whoever else you can think up.
    We are at war with the enemy of God and a most devious enemy he is seeking to always lie and deceive to drive us apart rather than us seeing our common need of the Saviour.

  3. The same christians (lower case “c” intentional) are the same ones who claim that homosexuality is acceptable in God’s eyes. Then, to top that all off, These christians (again, lower case “c” intentional) have the gall to accuse Christians who recognize homosexuality is sinful all the time without any exceptions whatsoever “bigots”. I’ve even had one of these christians (lower.cas…well you know the rest)tell me the church had no right to call homosexuals to repentance when there were fat people in church who needed to repent of glutton. Sad, sad state of affairs. Although, Paul did say in the last days there would be a falling away from the faith by nominal christians.

  4. Jesus loved the tax collectors, poor, outcasts etc… But it’s not clear that he thought of them as sinners who needed to repent and renounce tax collecting or poverty. What’s the scriptural backing for believing that Jesus would have wanted any modern person to repent or reject their same sex lover?

  5. As I wrote in a comment to your post on Marin’s book, this is not some esoteric, what-if discussion for me. God has used this issue to transform my thinking and my heart. It is not a total transformation yet, but I believe I am heading in the right direction.

    Lately I have begun to see this issue as touching upon some of the core issues of Christianity. Our failure before God is that we don’t honor him as God – we turn him into a thing and objectify Him. Then as an object, we can do with Him as we please because we are now the god and we choose the way in which we will worship. When the lawyer came to Jesus and asked which was the great commandment, Jesus was quick to emphasize the link between honoring God and honoring your neighbor. Don’t turn God into an object. Don’t turn man into an object.

    So I had turned “them” into objects. (and please feel free to insert whatever you want in the “them” category: homosexuals, Muslims, liberals, etc) Then one day I discovered that my daughter was hanging out with “them”. She might even be one of “them”. She certainly sympathized with “them”. How could that be? Hadn’t she heard me rail against the evil of “them” and how they were subverting our culture?

    Hopefully you see where this is going. I wasn’t dealing with an object anymore; this was my own flesh and blood. As He walked the streets of Jerusalem, how Jesus’ heart must have ached when he saw how broken his creation had become. I can not begin to express in a forum like this how complex this issue is. But the more it plays out the more I am convinced that the hand of God is directing it, both in my life and in the culture of our country. God is purposeful and His glory will be revealed in His mercy to us through Jesus.

  6. Joe, I think you have missed the point. The point is that we do not condemn other, equally heinous, sins in the same way that we condemn the unholy trinity. I know more than one church that condemns homosexual practice but has heterosexual live-in couples who attend. They may not be “acceptable” but neither are they thrown out. Neither is there the same amount of energy used on preaching “against” them as there is against the unholy trinity.

    Trust me that I could give you several other examples.

  7. No one is asking anyone to do anything except accept that people are people and in need of love and redemption.

  8. count me in with the nominal

  9. 1Cr 6:9 Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders
    1 tim 1,9-10 understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers,

    Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders
    Romans 1,27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

    Tax collectors were hated as traitors, not sinners, neither are the poor.
    That said, condemnation is not the road to salvation, love is.

  10. My first sentance should have read “The same christians (lower case “c” intentional) who complained about what Tim Hardaway said…”

    To answer your question, Jesus called sinners to repent all through the New Testament (Matthew 4:17, Mark 1:15, Luke 13:3 and 13:5). He didn’t have to name the specific sin. Since homosexuality is always a sin in all cases without any exception whatsoever the call to repent of sin is a call to repent of homosexuality.

  11. Adulteress says

    Thank you for writing this. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom *I* am the worst.

  12. Christopher K. says

    That was a wonderful post, Michael. Our preoccupation with engaging the culture of the world thrives in spite of the sinfulness that flourishes inside our high-gated walls. And I understand all too well your list of personal sins, but at what point should we confront people inside the Church who engage in sin? Is that even possible without engaging in hypocrisy?

  13. Aimai, I believe it’s quite clear that Jesus called all sinners to repentance. “Jesus answered them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.'” Luke 5:31-32

  14. Thank you for your clear explanation of your belief. While I don’t believe quite as you do (I’m more liberal- I guess a christian according to Joe Blackman), I appreciate that you are focused on the Love of God and are not distracted from the bigger picture.

  15. Forrest James says

    In the Revelation of John the last ones mentioned to be cast into the Lake of Fire are “all liars.” In context the term “‘all liars” carries an emphatic sense. Earlier, in the same book, the Holy Spirit speaks through John of those who believe the “lie,” and “worship” antichrist. These scriptures are parallel to the first chapter of Romans where Paul writes of the “worship” of the creature rather than the Creator and of homosexuality as a horrible consequence and sign of that “worship.” Those caught in it are given over to destruction. Imonk, this is a intensely spiritual issue and many of the homosexuals you see on the streets of our nation’s capital, for instance, are visibly demonized. You can see the demonic presence in their eyes, just like you can in the eyes of many idol worshippers in overtly pagan societies. Those who have spiritual eyes themselves can see it.

    If you have compassion on them, the ones like your friend, you might no longer tell them, “I will disagree with you, but I will still love and respect you…..I will still want you to be my friend…. to worship with me and to be part of my life. I am blind to many of my sins as well….”. This is not true. If you are like the sinner in the parable who fell down in the temple before God and would not even raise his head and asked only for mercy, then you are not blind. If, when confronted with a hidden sin by the Holy Spirit or by others, you confess it in repentance, you are not blind. Both the self righteous religious person and the determined homosexual, are truly blind.

    The lamb slain in the book of Revelation is revealed also as the Lion of Judah. This is not the “meek and mild” Jesus of popular culture. If we let the lion roar within us we will drive out demons by the Spirit of God and bring the arm of salvation to many. I say this as much a challenge to myself as to you.

    Remember that Paul powerfully “demonstrated the Spirit” at Corinth, and later mentioned those (“some of you”) delivered from homosexuality there. When the gospel comes in power, even the most destructive works of darkness (incest, domestic abuse, and the like) are exposed and overcome.

    Our problem is our lack of power in the Lord. We may have some love (But do we really?), and maybe a reasonably sound mind as well, but where is our power? Is not the real “Jesus-shaped” life one of power? It’s not like we don’t need it. It’s just that following Him costs everything.

    And we are faced right now, at every turn, with a militant political movement to force the legal acceptance, indeed the political domination, of homosexuality on every community in this country. This is enormous darkness. I do not understand why you don’t mention this when you write about homosexuality on this blog. How can you miss the spiritual significance of what is going on in this regard?

    I agree with you on the worldliness and powerlessness of the “culture warriors” of the last decade. Nevertheless we are facing a (the?) great apostasy. The weapons of our warfare are not carnal but spiritual. But we are at war. Therefore put on the whole armor of God.

  16. The response of so many Christians to Hardaway’s comments, reminds me of the way many Pro-Life advocates responded to abortion clinic bombings, back in the ’90s. On all but a few rare occasions, the response was, “Well, yes, of course this is bad. But you must understand that it pales in comparison to the million-and-a-half abortions performed in this country each year.” And that used to drive me crazy. It’s not, “wrong, but…” — it’s just wrong! Period. No qualifiers needed. But they couldn’t resist the chance to spin it into a dig at the other side.

    What frustrates me (and others I know), is how both sides of the homosexuality debate talk past each other. You’re either a homphobe or a reprobate; a bigot or a heretic; repressed or a deviate. All gay people are loving, tolerant, and creative vs. all gays are promiscuous perverts out to brain-wash your kids with the “Gay Agenda”. Or, conservative Christians are ignorant, inolerant, homophobic hayseeds vs. conservative Christians are Christ loving, sin stomping, Spiritual Super-soldiers, who are simply exercising their righteous indignation towards the moral money-changers who have set up shop in the Temple of America.

    I struggle with how to balance loving the person, without appearing to endorse the lifestyle (and that’s true of the promiscuous heterosexual, the serially monogamous lesbian, and the chronic drunk in the family). As with all sinners (having no room to cast stones myself), I try to err on the side of compassion.

    The problem is, only the lesbian demands that her lifestyle be tacitly endorsed by other family members (I’m not saying all lesbians are like this). And that’s where many Christians are struggling. They’re not hateful bigots. They’re genuinely trying to find the right balance. What is the proper response to, “If you loved me, you’d attend the Gay Pride rallies with me”? Or, “If you loved me, you’d approve of my sexual orientation”?

    And finally, the constant criticisms of so many, towards Christians who stuggle to find a balanced approach to this issue, fail to offer them the same grace and compassion that they’re accused of not offering to others. But those exhibiting the sins of hypocrisy, indecision, bigotry and intolerance, are no less deserving of compassion and understanding than prostitutes, liars, addicts, homosexuals, and adulterers. Are they? They’re no less broken, and yet I never hear anyone calling for compassion, or attempting to truly understand what fears, hurts, or insecurities their sinful mindsets spring from.

    It’s an important issue, but I see so much nonsense being propagated by so many on both sides that it gets exhausting.

    I think your articles have been well balanced. I just wonder if either side is listening.

  17. Forrest James: It is quite presumptuous that you can see the “Demons” in the eyes of gays as the effect of worshiping satan. That might be one part of the Bible that you can think of symbolicly and not figuratively. What’s next? Exorcise the gays?

  18. You’ve all made my point for me–Jesus never specifically mentions homosexuality. Of the things and the sins he did mention he specifically leaves out lots of things that people of his time thought were important, and he hammers away at sins of the economy, the sin of wealth, of pride, of high standing.

    As for the person up above who “seeks to balance loving the person without appearing to endorse the lifestyle…” but who has the problem that “the lesbian demands that her lifestyle be tacitly endorsed by other family members…”

    well, I think that’s a very interesting problem to have. Myself, I don’t have any family members who I actually love, personally, who I would continue to treat as a “sinner.” I have people I love who are troubled, of course, and then I reach out to help them with their trouble–financial, whatever. But, of course, if they don’t recognize the difficulty their lifestyle choice places them in now there’s little I can do. Can you point towards a real-this-world- consequence of your lesbian relatives existence that is actually a problem? Because if its not a problem for her, your continued insistence as a particular kind of christian that its *going to be a problem* down the road, in heaven, is going to come across as…well…ugly.

    I get that christians just hate when the ugly, dangerous, mean, things that their co-religionists do are thrown back in their face. I would never shoot an abortion doctor! I just kind of applaud the people who throw themselves in front of a pregnant woman and scream “murderer” while she tries to save her life with a therapeutic abortion. I would never cast off my own gay daughter and throw her into the street but I’m ok with some preacher thundering denunciations of her copulating like a dog in the streets and burning in a lake of fire.

    Is the worst thing that happens to people getting called out–yes, even called a bigot–for continually intruding their particularistic, legalistic, tribale religious sensibilities on people in their own families who have made a different decision about how to live their lives? The lesbian wants her mother to march in the pride parade? Shock and horror! Next she and her partner will want the grandmother to show up at grandmother’s day at the pre-school!

    I’m really sick of so called christian compassion–warning, I’m neither gay nor christian–which always seems to demand some kind of recompense. Why should gays and lesbians and non christians just give you a pass on hateful behavior because you are “struggling with how to balance loving the person…with your christianity.” Your christianity, such as it is, is something that you choose. You don’t get a pass for choosing the brand that makes it impossible, or even difficult, for you to simply treat your relative with courtesy and love at all times.

    aimai

  19. Teenage Mutant Ninja Tertullian says

    That’s okay–liberals love to hate fundamentalist Christians. (Except when it’s our mom.) All in good fun.

    Has anybody heard the theory–so help me, this is taken seriously among liberal OT scholars–that when Jacob / Israel “wrestled” with the angel / YHWH all night at Peniel, they weren’t really “wrestling” if you know what I mean (and I think you do)? Of course, wrestling is gay anyway, but…all night? And then his first thought is to reach for his “thighs” and demand a blessing? Hello–innuendo, anyone? (“God is gay”–now THERE’S a slogal to inspire a generation!)

  20. “What is the proper response to, “If you loved me, you’d attend the Gay Pride rallies with me”? Or, “If you loved me, you’d approve of my sexual orientation”?”

    Laughter? Tell her to finish getting over herself while you make her lunch.

  21. Willoh,

    The problem is you stopped with 1 Cor 6:9. The rest of the sentence is “10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”

    One major point these posts and other commentators have been trying to make is that we give special class of sin to the homosexuality mentioned in 6:9 but don’t have much to say about the greedy, adulterers, slanderers, etc. Where is the campaign to make adultery a punishable civil crime again?

    Stopping at 1 Cor 6:9-10 misses an important point anyway. Here is 1 Cor 6:11 “And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

    They were saved, not because they were able to stop their sins, but because of Jesus and the Spirit of God. Why do so may expect the unsaved to behave as God commands?

  22. The way I view the “Trinity of sin” used by evangelicals is this

    Homosexuality – Scapegoat for the state of immorality in this nation.

    Evolution – Control Education.

    Abortion – Control reproductive rights.

    I know many Christians have reasons for believing these things are wrong. But this is the goal of the people who seek to politicise Christianity (ie. Robertson, Dobson, etc.), and I think it is wise to question them when they argue about these things.

  23. Forrest–

    I really like your counterpoint, and find it hard to disagree with you… until you get into the “legal acceptance” portion. My thoughts on this are twofold: 1) It’s not our duty as Christians to legislate our religious ideals into law. In fact, it’s arguably our duty to watch out for the “little guy”, especially those who are some how being oppressed. 2) The ability for committed homosexual couples to enjoy legal benefits the same as committed heterosexual couples, “married” or not, is not an issue Christians should be railing against– in fact, I find it hard to not consider it a civil rights issue from a legal standpoint.

    Great article iMonk, and great responses in the comments.

  24. I occasionally write devotionals for our church website, and wrote this one last week that addresses the same issue:

    http://devotional.westsidefamilychurch.com/?p=140

    I think I can say we are in agreement, iMonk.

  25. ProdigalSarah says

    I’m reading these comments and all I can think about is the time a young man told me about the physical abuse he endured after his family found out he was gay. I had known this kid for years and had no idea any of this happened. I don’t even remember what I said to him when he confided this heartbreaking story. Whatever I said, I’m sure it wasn’t nearly adequate.

    I was so shaken by his story, I spent the entire next day crying. I asked God: why? I pleaded with God for an answer: Why do families abuse and throw away their own children? What did this young man do to deserve physical abuse and emotional abandonment by his own parents?

    I only want this cruelty to stop.

    I read these comments and I don’t feel like arguing with any of you. Those of you who judge who is a big C Christian and who is a little c christian, I realize you would never read Andrew Martin’s book If you did, it would only be to find stuff to criticize.

    What about the young people who are thrown away? Abandoned and marginalized, if their lives become wrecks then you can gleefully point to them and declare, “You see? This is the result of sin.”

  26. Satan’s schemes are so subtle: by focusing our attention on the reverse trinity of abortion, homosexuality, and evolution, he completely diverts us from our appointed mission while deceiving us into believing we are actually carrying it out. He has effectively stymied the church’s influence in this culture while letting us have the illusion of power. God, open our eyes to what we are doing.

  27. Steve in Toronto says

    I would like to post a link to a very thoughtful John Piper piece on the guilt of sexual failure http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/ConferenceMessages/ByDate/1927_How_to_Deal_with_the_Guilt_of_Sexual_Failure_for_the_Glory_of_Christ_and_His_Global_Cause . The main point of Pipers article is that Christians should strive for personal holiness but not let the guilt associated with common everyday sexual sins (masturbation and internet pornography) prevent Christians from perusing lives of “radical obedience to Christ” a expression that in this context seems to refer to “full time” Christian service. There is a lot of good stuff in the article but it is clearly written from the point of view of a middle aged married man speaking to young Christians (almost certainly) men who will soon be married and have legitimate outlets for there sexual natures. Its one thing to ask someone to hang on for a few years and then be faithful to their wife it’s quit another to ask a Gay Christian to live a life of celibacy. Else where Piper has written about the victory of “Theology over Biology” but even Paul said “if they cannot control themselves, they should get married, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion” 1 Corinthians 7:9. I worry that we are asking Gay Christians to carry a burden that we would never be able to shoulder our self’s.

    God Bless

    Steve in Toronto

  28. Jesus never specifically mentions homosexuality

    aimai,

    Total red herring. Paul mentions it several times. The epistles are not less authoritative than the words of Jesus recorded in the gospels. Further, what we have in the gospels is not a verbatum transcript of each and every word that Jesus ever taught as John tells us at the end of his gospel. Finally, Jesus affirmed “the Law and the Prophets” (the Old Testament) as scripture. Therefore, He affirmed the prohibition of homosexual activity since it is contained in the Old Testament as being from God.

  29. aimai,

    You know, I certainly agree with what you say in this statement: “I’m really sick of so called christian compassion… which always seems to demand some kind of recompense.” And “Your christianity, such as it is, is something that you choose. You don’t get a pass for choosing the brand that makes it impossible, or even difficult, for you to simply treat your relative with courtesy and love at all times.”

    OK, got it. (I’m a Christian, not fundamentalist, not gay, BTW.)

    But then we come to the Gay Pride parade in your letter, and my agreement falters. You imply that if I don’t want to march in the Gay Pride parade with my relative, then I’m failing to treat my relative with courtesy and love.

    So if I said to my relative, “No, I don’t want to join the Gay Pride parade because I don’t really support homosexuality, as you know,” then am I unloving and discourteous? I think I’m being honest and true to myself, but you imply otherwise.

    Really, that’s the problem for me. If I must agree with gay people’s ideas absolutely, or not have a relationship with them, then I guess the latter is my only choice. But I hope it doesn’t come to that. I care for and work alongside the gay people in my (Episcopal) church, but I’m not entirely convinced that gay marriage and gay ordination are things my church ought to do. And they know I feel this way.

    It’s kind of like my support of the American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. In my church, I’ve lead several drives to collect goods and send care packages to units overseas. But in truth, I hate those wars; I am and always have been totally against them (in a much stronger way than I’ve ever opposed homosexual behavior). That doesn’t stop me from sending care packages, praying for the kids over there, and hoping they make it home safe. But if the soldiers said, “Look, you either support our mission 100%, or you can throw your bleeping care packages in the ocean,” then I guess that particular church work of mine would have to end, or at least be handed over to someone more supportive of the wars than I. I hope they don’t say that.

    While you are right in saying I chose Christianity, and it’s up to me to deal with my interactions within that framework, I do think that gay people who say to me, “My way or the highway, H. Lee” will be cutting off our interaction prematurely. If gay people truly don’t want to discuss anything with someone who isn’t totally in agreement with them, I guess that’s OK, but unfortunate. I deal with it one person at a time.

  30. Hi,
    I am trying to understand this blog on this subject. I have a gay nephew, who I love very much. He knows I support him, but I can not agree
    to his lifestyle. Sometimes, I feel like I am being persuaded even in the Christian Church to
    accept homosexuality as ok. Years ago, Slavery
    and discrimination were practiced. And the church
    fought against both. But fighting to accept homosexuality on the same basis is not the same.
    I agree, that some people have homosexual tendencies, and have a struggle. But we all have different tendencies, whether it be eating too much, or anger issues etc. We have to learn to fight these tendencies, with God’s help. I am finding it harder and harder to explain to my young daughter what a true relationship is, when the world seems to be accepting of everything. My dad use to say to me as a kid, “stand for something, or fall for everything.”

  31. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    Of course, wrestling is gay anyway, but…all night? And then his first thought is to reach for his “thighs” and demand a blessing? Hello–innuendo, anyone? (”God is gay”–now THERE’S a slogal to inspire a generation!) — TMNT

    Oh, it gets better, TMNT. “Thighs” is KJV for “genitalia”; apparently to ancient Semitic tribes, swearing on your genitalia was the most powerful of oaths, as you were putting your fertility (and all your descendants) on the line.

    One major point these posts and other commentators have been trying to make is that we give special class of sin to the homosexuality mentioned in 6:9 but don’t have much to say about the greedy, adulterers, slanderers, etc. Where is the campaign to make adultery a punishable civil crime again? — Dan D

    When all the Upstanding and Righteous have no inclination whatsoever to sleep around on the side and/or no chance of ever getting caught doing so. The Unpardonable Sin is ALWAYS the one the denouncer as no chance of EVER committing (or getting caught at). And so it all goes back to One-Upmanship.

    “What is the proper response to, “If you loved me, you’d attend the Gay Pride rallies with me”? Or, “If you loved me, you’d approve of my sexual orientation”?” — Pat Lynch

    Probably the same as to “If you loved me, you’d let me into your pants.” Both are gross manipulation intended to force your will upon the other.

  32. Aliasmoi says

    This is an issue that absolutely rips my heart out. The Bible and my church say that homosexuality is a sin. But, I’ve known so many gay people who were such beautiful human beings and who – in all other areas of their lives – shamed a lot of Christians I know. It’s really hard for me to think God might send them to hell for something that they so clearly can’t control. But, on the flip side of that – if He does – who am I to question God?

  33. Dan D. I only stopped the quote there to stay on topic. It was a response to Aimai. I am with you, I believe sin is sin, all of us sinners in need of a Savior and the sanctification of the Holy Spirit, to overcome.

    The church where I now preach once had a pastor who was locally famous for concentrating almost all of his sermons around homosexuality. Is it me or does that make you wonder if he has a problem with his own orientation? That might be like me preaching about cake.

  34. Let’s not be under any illusion that if Christians consistently showed true Christian love and kindness to homosexuals, that the depiction of us as backwards hateful bigots would change one iota, or that most gays would not still be very angry.

    Our moral and ethical code teaches that homsexuality is immoral and sinful. The emerging moral and ethical code of the larger society is that those who uphold such teaching are the immoral ones.

    Our definition of love is not the same as the emerging social consensus. Theirs requires an affirmation of lifestyle choices. The mere affirmation that our faith holds homosexuality to be sinful makes us hateful in their eyes.

    Since Christianity opposes homosexual conduct, the only choices to make society happy with us on the issue are:
    1) “change” Christianity so homosexuality is OK (liberal Protestants, emergents)
    2) abandon Christianity entirely
    3) keep our mouths shut about the issue

    Our efforts to change our behavior can only be focused on living up to the commands Jesus gave us. If we do it right, the world will still hate us, but at least they will hate us because we are obedient rather than because we deserve it.

  35. Lynne:

    Not to start a separate fight, but much of white protestantism in the South was, at best, silent about slavery and segregation, and at worst actively supported it. Once the Bible becomes less about Jesus and his kingdom and more about preserving a white, Judeo-Christian culture, all manner of unbiblical things happen. This, among all the reasons that Imonk blogs about, is why secular folk by and large consider the opinions of Big “C” Christianity irrelevant at best and not worthy of respect at worst. The Dobsons, Falwells and Robertsons of the world have done so much damage that no one is listening anymore…

  36. a hurting lesbian says

    “If you are someone in my life who is engaged in the sin of homosexual behavior, I love you. I respect you. I embrace you as a human being like me, a sinner like me, and person to whom God offers forgiveness and grace in the body and blood of his Son, Jesus….” Michael, thank you. I hope someday I find a Christian who can look me in the eye and say something similar.

  37. MuleChewingBriars says

    I don’t hate homosexuals. God knows I’ve tried over the years. I could care less what people do in the privacy of their own bedroom, and to be blunt, I could care less if Jack and Max got married in the National Cathedral or if they kissed in front of my kids.

    I still don’t like dwelling too deeply on how they express that love physically. It makes me queasy.

    To be honest, I would prefer the Bible to stop being the Word of God on this issue and drop to being a quaint collection of myths and tribal propaganda based on outdated cultural norms. I’m tired of all the static I see on this issue, and to be blunt, I don’t see homosexuality as the end result of a Romans 1 process of increasing decadence.

    The Bible just doesn’t fit my experience here. I know a lot of people in homosexual relationships, none of whom were practicing idolators prior to expressing their homosexual desires. I have a hard time when the Bible doesn’t fit my experience, because it is so true in so many other places.

    And as far as asking Christians with homosexual yearnings to live celibate, I think it would be wonderful if a lot of Christians with heterosexual tendencies, even strong ones, would lie across the wire for them in example.

    I wish I had never been a Protestant. I would have loved to be a monk.

  38. hurting,
    you found one

  39. “Let’s not be under any illusion that if Christians consistently showed true Christian love and kindness to homosexuals, that the depiction of us as backwards hateful bigots would change one iota, or that most gays would not still be very angry.”

    WHAT?

    ‘If EVERYTHING about how we treated homosexuals was completely different, NOTHING about how homosexuals view the church would be any different.’

    Hm.

    I’m going to go out on a limb and say you’re mistaken about this one, Brian.

  40. Sarah O says

    I’d like to respond to Brian’s post just a few above mine-

    Brian, I agree with you that, to some extent, there is nothing that Christians can do to make themselves uniformly loved and embraced by all the people in the world who aren’t Christian. Even if we could somehow magically erase the checkered history of Christianity as a religion of humans, prone to human errors and evils, and even if somehow every single Christian, today, suddenly begain treating every single gay or lesbian person with consistent love and kindness- I agree, you are right, there are still people, gay or straight, who would continue to hate Christians and what they stand for.

    But I feel that is a side issue, and one that really is kind of pointlessly, or dangerously, distracting. My understanding of the Bible is shoddy at best, but two things really stand out to me- the first is the call to love as God loves, and the second is the insistance that followers of Christ be prepared to give up the seductions of this world to follow Christ in that act of radical loving and submission.

    Homosexuality and sexual licentiousness are often painted as some of the chief and most dangerous temptations that are to be given up- but honestly, it seems to me that the temptation towards power over others, towards being absolutely “right” and acknowledged as such, towards being comfortable, and towards being liked are far more insiduous and more powerful temptations that we face in this world. And they are truly temporal- they truly exist only to feed into their own existance.

    So it seems to me that the call to love everyone- regardless of their sexual behavior- is one that shouldn’t be held hostage to the likelihood that loving people in the verb sense won’t make them automatically agree or affirm your own believes, or even stop hating you.

    It should be done because in that joyful, radically, giving of the self in love to others, we create a space that can be filled with God’s love for us- for us to experience and appreciate that love?

  41. Imonk,
    I appreciate your perspective on this issue. There is a great need for compassion when dealing with this population segment that so rarely receives compassion from Christians.

    I’m curious (and not in a completely hypothetical way) how you see this post interacting with your recent series on church discipline. When (if?) do you proceed with a form of discipline for a church member who refuses to repent of a homosexual lifestyle, i.e. who believes Jesus blesses it, and what would that process look like? If the person is not a member of the local church, but a close friend who is part of the universal church, does the process look different?

    I find this to be a pertinent question because I find it less common in experience for someone confronted with their anger, gluttony, lust, drunkenness, etc. to respond with “It is who I am and Jesus blesses it.” Many sins we are blind to, true, and for many sins we struggle against the Spirit calling us to repent. But what about those sins called out in the bible that we convince ourselves the bible says are not sins. In today’s culture, there are a growing number of these sins that people are just getting backward — greed (prosperity), pride (self esteem), and sexuality (sexual orientation, cohabitation) seem to be at the top of the list.

  42. aimai, one sin Jesus does continuously bring up is teaching false things, leading people astray.. he’s not too big on serial monogamy, either.

    It’s not at all simple or even sensible to say that Jesus would be ‘for’ homosexuality – the church has long held that denying oneself and quietly taking up one’s cross to follow Christ can and must mean the denial of one’s sexual preference in order to pursue a path of holiness.

    That’s not really in vogue in Christianity these days (God forbid we actually take Paul at face value on the whole chastity thing), but gays (not to mention real deviants, like pedophiles and others) have always been a part of the church, and part of their faith has been to yoke their sexuality to the cross and find wholeness through God.

    Self control is unpopular. It’s not impossible though. We should really stop pretending that it is.

  43. “And as far as asking Christians with homosexual yearnings to live celibate, I think it would be wonderful if a lot of Christians with heterosexual tendencies, even strong ones, would lie across the wire for them in example.”

    MuleChewingBriars, I submit to you the Catholic Church, and the countless nuns, monks, and priests who’ve quietly kept their vows of chastity over the millenia.

    To say nothing of non-Christian faiths who successfully practice celibacy, of course.

    Examples of celibate people, even celibate people “with heterosexual tendencies”, are really not very difficult to come by.

  44. cermak_rd says

    Would some of the tensions be alleviated if gay folk who want to have a partner, simply left the churches that don’t accept them? A reading of Corinthians indicates that the church is not to judge those outside the church. So gays could find Jesus, if they need him, in the UCC, TEC, and a few other affirming churches, or if not Jesus, there is Reform Judaism, the UU church (some of whom embrace Jesus?), Wicca, and a few others.

    Would this at least de-escalate the situation?

  45. MuleChewingBriars says

    Patrick –

    That was tongue in cheek. I’m Orthodox.

  46. How is your friend doing since the first time this was posted?

  47. Jesse,
    Yes, I see your point. I am actual a Catholic, if that makes any difference. I still have to uphold what God says in his word regarding heter or homo
    sexual relations. Again, love the sinner, and hate the sin. Since, it is in my own family with my nephew, I love him. I treat him with respect, I don’t preach, but I do point out when asked.
    He knows where I stand, and I won’t budge. God wants our holiness, not our happiness. That seems so cruel, but our holiness leads to so much more happiness.

  48. ProdigalSarah says

    (((Virtual Hugs to a Hurting Lesbian)))

  49. “God is just as outraged, offended and wrathful at my pettiness, pride, laziness, lying, lust and gluttony as he is at my friend’s same sex relationship (if there is one.) The problem is, I LIKE my sins. Not as sin, but as behaviors that WORK for me just fine.”

    This is very Protestant theology, but it also cannot be supported by Bible verses, can it? All sin is offensive to God, yes. Equally offensive? I just don’t see it, nor does it jive with common sense.

  50. All sin is equal in that it is against God the holy lawgiver. All sin is equal in that Christ died for sins that we might be the righteousness of God in him. All sin is the same diagnosis and the same remedy in relation to God.

    All sin is NOT equal in many other ways. It is not equal in origin, intention, motivation or consequences.

    I will not be having a Protestant/Catholic discussion on this post, but if you have it on good authority that God was not all that outraged or wrathful at breaking a silly request not to touch a fruit, then it’s news to whoever wrote Romans 5.

    I get to use “very Protestant” arguments. I’m “very Protestant.”

    I’ll take any verses you have on that “mortal” and “venial” distinction, though. I thought Romans 6:23 was pretty clear.