The modern Church’s overall inability to properly engage the culture in which it exists is none the more evident than in the issue of homosexuality. There is nothing more appalling (except perhaps our treatment of African Americans and women), than the pure hatred that the church has shown to the homosexual community.
This will be my attempt at helping to add something meaningful to this conversation by addressing the question: how should a Christian in today’s western culture understand the issue of homosexuality.
Recently Dan Wilkinson posted an article titled Why Homosexuality Isn’t A Sin, which was widely circulated within social media. I was looking forward to reading Dan’s article when I first saw the posting on Unfundamentalist Christians Facebook page simply because very few good attempts have been made at writing about this issue. Perhaps my eagerness to see critical articles regarding this issue has clouded my judgment, but the article was anything but spectacular. The article uses C.S. Lewis’ “moral argument” in order to establish a foundation from which one can argue (supposedly) that homosexuality is not a sin. The argument is summarized below:
This seems to not only be a fallacious argument, but also a complete misunderstanding of the innate moral law, In fact, I will argue the following:
The innate moral law shows us that the act of homosexuality is both “not natural” as well as “immoral”, and therefore to be considered sin. However, and infinitely more important, I will also show that this sin is no different from any other that the individual commits.
Paul presents us with two contrasting pictures of humanity and their relationship to sin. In the first picture he identifies those who “deny the obvious” – God’s existence as demonstrated by the creation itself. Moreover, all people know of God and as a result of this revelation are “without excuse”.
As a result of denying this obvious “innate” existence people began participating in all sorts of sinful behavior. Among these he lists homosexuality.
The second picture Paul presents us is the life in Christ.
In contrast to a life lived in sin, life in Christ does not push you away from God, but draws you to him. What’s more, it provides the individual with meaning and purpose for their existence.
Two important observations regarding this passage:
First, Paul clearly states that the practice of homosexuality is not “natural” behavior for humans. I do not think Paul is being scientific as much as he is being “obvious” in making this connection. The fact that it’s not natural does not necessitate that the behavior is sin. However, it does dismiss the claim that it is natural behavior. With that said, it could be argued that the act is an act against the natural order of things, in which case it could be deemed as sin on that basis.
Second, Paul does not differentiate this sin as being any worse than the others. He also does not give us permission to judge those to whom this applies. In fact, if you continue to read on, you will notice that chapter two is very clear: God is the judge of Sin, not man. Therefore, this is between the individual and God. I cannot help but think of that powerful story of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery: “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone“. People, I urge you, put down your stones!
No doubt, for some, this section will be hard to read, but if you have made it this far, I encourage you to continue. The truth is sometimes a hard pill to swallow.
We need more homosexuals in the church! What does it mean that 99% (this is my sarcastic non-scientific number) of those who attend our churches are NOT homosexual? Is there any other “sin” that is so exclusionary to the point that we refuse to let the individual in on the basis of that sin. I would argue that there are more rapists and murderers in the church than there are homosexuals. In fact, there are hundreds if not thousands of churches and organizations that reach out to rapists and murders through prison ministries. There is much less love shown to the homosexual community.
I understand that in most cases sin is a very private matter. That is to say, we don’t walk around with signs that tell everyone what sins we have committed for the day. Moreover, having a practicing homosexual couple in the church makes their “issue” more obvious.
Here are the reasons I think we don’t have as many homosexuals in the church as we should. Please feel free to think of these as the great sins of our time:
We treat homosexuals much like many of our ancestors treated African Americans. We just don’t let them in. The unfortunate segregation that still occurs today within the church is an abhorrent result of the segregation that took place only a couple of generations ago. Can you imagine creating laws that purposely singled out individuals solely based upon the color of their skin? Just remember that the next time you go to the polls to vote. It was a sin then, and it’s still a sin now.
We are ignorant. We think homosexuality is some disease that is going to rub off on us or our children. I can’t begin to name all of the problems associated with this line of thinking.
Its complicated. We like our churches to be nice, neat and organized – not messy. We like our hour long church service (so we can make it back in time for football of course), and we don’t like disagreement. My response is simple: that’s childish, grow up!
It doesn’t line up with our politics. Good grief do I hate the fact that I have to say that. I am still baffled by the fact that being a Christian is almost synonymous with being a republican. It makes no sense to me that we demand the government stay out of our personal lives; to not deny us our “rights”, etc. However, we are very quick to deny those same rights to others that we so vehemently demand for ourselves. And we do this simply because we disagree with a choice they made.
…and there are certainly more that I could put here, but alas I have ran out of energy.
Concluding thought: the real problem
I don’t think the real problem is homosexuality, but its much deeper. There is a problem with the church. There is a problem with the “modern worldview”. There are problems with how we understand the role of the church in culture. There are problems everywhere.
Homosexuals are not the problem. We are.