Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Let Mercy Triumph

Christians seem to get really agitated about homosexuality, but this seems a little odd. Although homosexual activity is a sin, there is no hierarchy of sins in the scriptures. No sin is worse than any other, and we are all guilty. Look at the list in Revelation 21:8. Cowardice and lying are just as serious as sexual immorality.

When I think of the hundreds of times that I have failed to share the gospel, because I was afraid, I realise that I have a long history of being a coward. I don’t expect to stop being a coward in the near future, so why should I be angry about sexual immorality.

God does not like homosexual activity, but he seems to be more stirred up about adultery than he is about homosexuality.

The LORD God of Israel says that He hates divorce, for it covers one's garment with violence (Mal 2:16).
God’s dislike for adultery and divorce is not surprising, because they hurts the innocent spouse, and can do terrible damage to their children. Many Christians are concerned that homosexual unions will undermine marriage. The truth is that adultery has done far more damage to marriage than the civil unions ever will, but we have been strangely silent about that. Christians should be really stirred up about adultery, but divorce is now almost as common in the church as it is in the world and most divorce starts with adultery.

Perhaps the reason that we remain silent about adultery is that none of us feel completely innocent. Jesus made this issue awkward by tightening up the definition.
You have heard that it was said to those of old, "You shall not commit adultery.” But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart (Matt 5:27,28).
Given the content of modern television and film, it is hard to see how any warm-blooded television watcher has not committed adultery, by Jesus definition. This may be the reason we keep silent about adultery, but are stirred up about homosexuality.

Jesus showed mercy to those who were struggling with sin; he did not condemn them. Our attitude should be the same. Understanding that homosexuality is a curse that has inflicted the descendants of an unbelieving generation, should help us to stop blaming and feel compassion. Instead of being stirred up and angry, we should be compassionate and merciful. The fact that most homosexual people see the church as hostile and blaming is a sad indictment on our lack of compassion and mercy.

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11 comments:

ZenTiger said...

Hah! I'm currently writing a post on the evils of adultery.

I think the homosexual issue gets more press only because there are groups organised to advocate for normalisation of homosexuality.

Adulterers haven't sorted themselves into the same high powered lobby.

Stay tuned.

RonMcK said...

I wish that cowards could be better organised too.

Lucyna Maria said...

You have really missed the point of my post.

RonMcK said...

Sorry, I was being facetious.

I agree with what you said.

Ron

Lucyna Maria said...

Wow.

That, I was not expecting.

Well that's ok then.

ZenTiger said...

Well, for those that can't read between the lines, let's go through this a little more.

Christians seem to get really agitated about homosexuality, but this seems a little odd.

Some do, but many are agitated about the redefinition of marriage, seeing the union of man and women for the purposes of raising children the bedrock of a stable society.

Lucyna's post was more about marriage, and less about a homosexual lifestyle (until such a lifestyle demands to be put on the same footing as a family).

The judgement on a homosexual lifestyle may therefore be less if the gay lobby were not intent on redefining the purpose and nature of a marriage.

(Actually, I suspect the battle has already been lost and the counter is to bring new terms into the language, such as a "Catholic Marriage". We see a bit of this with an increase in "covenant marriages" with some of the evangelical groups. They have to be something special though. Statistically, I'm not sure covenant marriages are holding up any better than regular marriages)

I think the whole issue of families and the fabric of society is as much linked to abortion, polygamy, endorsement of prostitution, promiscuity and other similar issues. They come up pretty much as strongly in Christian circles.

The gay lobby frame this as an infringement of their rights based on homophobia, and that diminishes the true scope of the debate, I think.

Although homosexual activity is a sin, there is no hierarchy of sins in the scriptures. No sin is worse than any other, and we are all guilty.

OK, I'll have to read revelations to see your point. Plunging on anyway - I would think there is a hierarchy of sins. We can at least group them into mortal and venal. Murder is more serious than theft. The commandments come out in an order of importance for that matter.

I can point to other texts discussing this. Might be an interesting side topic.

To mind mind, adultery is worse than sodomy. The first is a betrayal of ones vows and the second merely an unnatural act as an expression of the sin of lust.

Many Christians are concerned that homosexual unions will undermine marriage.

As an aside, I think this is often twisted by the gay lobby to be phrased as if it would undermine a particular marriage, rather than the institution of marriage.

I agree with your point - adultery perhaps is more harmful to the institution of marriage, as is easy divorce. The issue here is the definition of marriage. Polygamists no doubt want to define marriage as being between any number of people, and again, we either redefine marriage to suit the days' moral climate or we set the ideal we aim to strive for, one that arguably provides the optimal environment for raising children.

Given the content of modern television and film, it is hard to see how any warm-blooded television watcher has not committed adultery, by Jesus definition

Great point. Not sure what to do with it right now. Save it for a rainy day when I have more time :-)

Understanding that homosexuality is a curse that has inflicted the descendants of an unbelieving generation, should help us to stop blaming and feel compassion.

No, no, no. Many already act this way towards homosexuals, and that only makes them angrier (IMHO).

I suspect it is precisely this judgment on their behaviour that is the issue. They (sorry to generalize) want all Christians to agree:

1. Homosexuality is not a curse, just an alternate view.

2. It is natural and acceptable.

3. It is morally pure as it involves love between two consenting adults.

4. Homosexuals should therefore have all the rights of hetero couples - access to children being the big one they are denied "biologically" but can achieve through science or adoption.

5. It is wrong to condemn sodomy (something not restricted to homosexuals)

Thus the real friction is between each party's right to hold differing opinions.

Homosexuals would like to make it illegal to hold a differing opinion. They brand such an opinion "hate speech". Some Christians want to outlaw homosexuality. They brand it a mental disorder.

Perhaps if it were NAMBLA arguing old men should be able to marry 10 year old boys (providing they consent) they could understand why some people might think holding a differing opinion on the age of consent is something we (as a society) need to put up with. If current trends continue, we may well have to have the same arguments again on the issue of pedophilia and pederasty in 30 years time.

It used to be that homosexuals could argue that whatever went on in the privacy of the bedroom was no concern of anyone else. They have long since moved out of the bedroom, and whilst we all understand adultery, the conservatives have not had to cope with adulterers organising themselves so well politically.

The fact that most homosexual people see the church as hostile and blaming is a sad indictment on our lack of compassion and mercy.

This is a tricky one. For most people, pedophilia is intolerable. Rape is intolerable. Are we supposed to tolerate these if one politically organised group says so? If the United Nations produce a document saying this is fine in the right cultural context? Boy, would rapists and pedophiles rejoice if we all understood "the women asked for it" and children can handle sex.

There is a liberal push in the world to tolerate just about anything. Moral relativism and all that. Given our history of intolerance, racism, bigotry etc there is good cause.

Equally, one thing I think Christianity has given us is the capacity to provide compassion, mercy and tolerance. There are exceptions to every rule, but my position is that Christianity, on the whole, has been a positive influence in our society and it's one perspective we are in danger of losing.

I am not expressing a position here on homosexuality (I'm still writing that post) just briefly outlining the issues as I see it.

So I'll stop for the moment and see where this gets us :-)

RonMcK said...

Wow. These are good comments, and you raise some good questions; more than I can answer.

With regard to a hierarchy of sins, I agree that some have more serious effects than others, but I was writing about how much they affront the holiness of God. I get the sense that from his perspective, they all stink. I also want to avoid any justification for victimless sins.

With regard to marriage, the biggest mistake that Christians have made is to allow the state to define it. I do not want the state defining or blessing my marriage. God has already blessed my marriage much more than I deserve, so I do not need the state's blessing. God gave the gift of marriage before the state existed, so we do not need the state to define it. I can understand why homosexuals want the state to bless their relationships, but they should understand that the state never blesses. It only controls and steals.

My point about homosexuality being a curse is explained more fully in my article at Kingdom Watcher. When the generation that shapes a culture rejects God and sinks into complacency and pride, the next generation reaps the sins that their parents have sown. One way this manifests is in sexuality. The younger generation is still responsible for their actions, but they are also trapped in their inheritance. This is what makes homosexuality a curse.

Lastly, the gospel is for all people. When communicating the gospel, we must present both the holiness and the love of God. Some people are better at communicating the holiness. I have tended to fall into that category. For a long time, I could never speak about the love of God, without spreading round a full blast of his holiness first. I realise that others are much better, at communicating the love, but that on its own is no better. Our challenge as a body is to present his holiness and love together, just as Jesus did on the cross.

ZenTiger said...

Hi there. Firstly, I would say there is not a lot of disagreement here, just coming at the issues from different angles.

I was writing about how much they affront the holiness of God. I get the sense that from his perspective, they all stink.

Good point. If we stumble on the small things, we may more easily succumb to the big things. Christian life is (ideally) a process of improving one's will power and self-control (not to mention humility, compassion etc). None of us are perfect, but we can try.

Regarding the state and control of marriage - this is another good topic I'd like to comment on, but will have to wait for a while, as it will be a long long long comment! Actually, a great topic for a post that I have been meaning to write (my list is long though :-) )

I'm just having a look at Kingdom Watcher now. Looks big and interesting. Is this all your work, or are you a contributor?

RonMcK said...

Thanks

I am to blame for it all.

Lucyna Maria said...

Interesting article at Kingdom Watcher. I probably agree most of it - the major exceptions being the sections on Communion and Ordination.

Last year I wrote a blog post on abortion, excommunication and sex that goes into the denial of communion to LGBT Catholics. I point it out, because it outlines the major differences of opinion on the communion issue with regards to homosexual persons.

Ordination is a huge one. I'm not even going to try and go there - though I could point to some books that would help.

RonMcK said...

Thanks Lucyna Maria. I have come up through quite a different path and views on ordination and communion are quite radical, so I am not surprised that we differ on these issues.

I will read your post.
Ron