Why the focus on homosexuality, abortion, evolution? Aren’t all sins the same in God’s eyes? Part 1

By Scott Fowler

I am frequently asked if all sins are equally bad or if some sins are worse than others. Sometimes I just hear the statement being made in passing, “Well, we know that all sins are equal in God’s eyes.” Usually, this idea is tied to the sentiment suggesting the Church should not spend so much time harping against homosexuality, abortion, and evolution (the “big 3”), and spend more time dealing with Christians who lie, cheat on their taxes, and commit adultery. Surely those things are just as destructive as the big 3.

Without a doubt, sin separates us from God. And, barring a discussion on the possibility that the punishment of hell will be intensified upon its inhabitants by degrees based on the degree of their sinfulness, we can agree that once a person goes to hell it may not matter at that point whether it was murder or lying or tax evasion that sent him or her there. He or she is separated from God.

So, why does the believing Church spend so much time talking about the big 3? Aren’t all sins equally bad in God’s eyes? Let’s gradually get to the first question by starting with the second. And let’s begin the discussion by asking a series of questions and by considering a few different scenarios.

Is there a difference between the sin being committed by a young man and woman, both single, both unmarried, who are engaging in premarital sex, and a man and a woman, both married to other people, having an affair with one another? How do we normally feel about the young couple that doesn’t want to wait compared to how we feel about the couple cheating on their spouses? There is something categorically different between the sin of the young couple and the sin of the adulterers. Both couples are engaged in damnable sins,1  but there is something extra deceitful and hurtful happening with the adulterous couple. They are in deeper. They are not only disobeying God but they are breaking their vows and hurting their children and living a lie! Perhaps the question is not “Is one sin is worse than the other?” but rather “How deeply mired in bondage is one couple compared to the other?” or “How many people are hurt by the sin of either couple?” Let’s keep going with more questions and another scenario.

Is there anything inherently different between the sin of adultery happening between a man and a woman and the same-sex sexual relations happening between two gay men? Both “couples” are committing damnable sins,2 but something is different. While we could never condone or justify the sins of the adulterous couple, we are not surprised when people find themselves in the midst of emotional and physical attraction and falling into the trap of adultery. Why? Because, while an adulterous affair is shameful and sinful, we understand that men are attracted to women and vice versa and, given the right set of circumstances, they can all too easily find themselves in a weakened state and falling into the grossest of sins. And while we would condemn such acts, we would not normally say that there was something unnatural about what they are doing, beyond the view of what is natural for believing Christians, because it is normal for men to be attracted to women, etc. The issue in this case is that the man and the woman have failed to stay faithful to God and to the ordained relationships they have already committed to. Similarly, we do not say that a man has sinned because he has the capacity to be tempted by looking at another woman, but we would say that he is responsible for what he does with the temptation.

But when it comes to homosexuality and two men or two women in same-sex sexual relations with one another, we do not simply say that they have done the wrong thing with temptation. Much more is involved. While it is true that the man and the woman who are having an adulterous affair with one another have indeed gone against God’s laws by giving themselves to forbidden sexual relationships, their violation is different in kind than that of the two men or two women involved in forbidden same-sex sexual relationships. The homosexual relationship represents a twisting of God’s laws in a much deeper, more deviant way. God certainly condemns sex outside of marriage and sex that violates the marriage bed and vows, but He has not condemned human heterosexual sexuality. He reserves the right to decide for us who we should mate with, but He has not condemned the human sexual act between a man and a woman. He has, in fact, endorsed it and encouraged it within the bounds of His laws. In the case of homosexuality, He has condemned the act altogether; forbidden it. So, homosexuality is in a different category because it twists what God originally intended in a way that premarital sex and adultery between a man and a woman does not. There is no way for the homosexual act to ever be sanctioned by God.

If we imagine a person simply making a random decision to engage in a same-sex sexual act, we could also imagine saying to that person, “Don’t choose to do that anymore. It’s wrong.” We might not understand why a person would do such a thing, but there it is. But when we come to the realization that gays and lesbians have this desire (not born with it but somehow mired in it) and that they approve of it, now we are dealing with individuals who, in the face of God, are not just saying we want to have sex, but we want to have sex in a way that you have said is not natural, normal, or accepted.

As mentioned above, perhaps the question is not degrees of sinfulness, but degrees of bondage. The stronghold of homosexuality is different in its intensity than, say, a little boy of four who has trouble telling the truth, although Stephen Charnock wrote,

“All sin is founded in secret atheism. Atheism is the spirit of every sin; all the floods of impieties in the world break in at the gate of a secret atheism, and though several sins may disagree with one another, yet, like Herod and Pilate against Christ, they join hand in hand against the interest of God. Though lusts and pleasures be diverse, yet they are all united in disobedience to him. All the wicked inclinations in the heart, and struggling motions, secret repining, self-applauding confidences in our own wisdom, strength, &c. [sic], envy, ambition, revenge, are sparks from this latent fire; the language of every one of these is, I would be a Lord to myself, and would not have a God superior to me.3 

For this reason, we don’t take lightly the little boy who tends to lie. But we understand that little boys and girls sometimes have trouble with the truth and need teaching concerning the reason the truth matters. And although we have all known people who are liars, it is rare to find someone who vouches for lying or claims that a life based on falsehood is a noble path to choose.

What I am trying to say is that at least one of the reasons that homosexuality is seen differently than other behaviors that the Church considers to be sinful is that the bondage and the stronghold that it represents is significantly different and arguably more difficult to deal with than the occasional temptation to swear when one hits his or her thumb with a hammer.

I will deal with the first part of the question in Part 2, but let me finish this article by saying that I am more and more sensitive to the argument against the believing Church that when it speaks against sin, particularly against homosexuality, that it is of necessity spewing hate out for homosexuals outside of the faith and now more and more inside even the evangelical church. To those arguments I would say that indeed many Christians have spewed hatred for the sin and that hatred of sin has been virtually indistinguishable from the feeling they have expressed for the homosexuals themselves. For that I am deeply sorry and in agreement that Jesus loves the homosexual and so does the true believing Church. However, in our present culture, any expression of disagreement is seen as hate. But the believing Church has no choice but to speak the truth. So, all I know to do is to genuinely love people, declare the truth from that genuine love, and become sensitive to ways in which we can better communicate that genuine love.

Stay tune for Part 2.

1 Revelation 21:8 says: But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

2 Along with Revelation 21:8, Romans 1:18-32.

3 Stephen Charnock, B.D., Discourses Upon the Existence and Attributes of God, Volume I (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1987; reprinted from the 1853 edition by Robert Carter & Brothers), page 93, emphasis mine

 

Scott Fowler is the founder of the Christ and Culture Initiative. He is a pastor/theologian living in New York. You can learn more about him at:  http://scottythinks.wordpress.com/about/

 

Two Questions from CCI . . .

March 28, 2013

 

By Scott Fowler

I would love to hear your thoughts on the questions below!

“Are all sins equal in the sight of God?”  Put another way, “Is one sin worse than another?” If yes or no, please explain. Then answer this, “Why does the church spend so much of its time talking about abortion, homosexuality, and evolution?”

Who are Your Children’s Teachers?

By Roger Erdvig

Remember “Bill Nye the Science Guy”?

Bill Nye starred in a series of science videos that have been used to make science fun in homes and classrooms for years. I always had my suspicions about his worldview, but now I know for sure where he’s coming from. Take a look at this video…

 

(Of course, I just helped Mr. Nye get even more hits on his already-viral video. Oh well.)

My main purpose in sharing this with you is to help you see what’s being said about Creationism by a very prominent and influential person. (Bill Nye was honored as “Humanist of the Year in 2010.” Surprised?)

There are a couple of statements Mr. Nye made in this video which we need to hear very clearly:

“When you have a portion of the population that doesn’t believe in [evolution], it holds everybody back.”

“I say to grownups, if you want to deny evolution… that’s fine, but don’t make your kids do it, because we need them. We need scientifically literate voters and taxpayers for the future… we need engineers that can build stuff [and] solve problems.”

“In another couple of centuries that world view [creationism], I’m sure… won’t exist. There’s no evidence for it.”

I could spend hours critically evaluating the logic of these statements, and there are several more audacious claims in the video that I’m sure you picked out. But instead, let me give you the bottom line of what he’s saying:

“Believing in creationism is completely groundless, damages our children, and holds back the progress of society. Ultimately, such belief is on the way to extinction.”

It seems to me that Mr. Nye is doing the very thing he claims that creationists do, which is to make audacious claims that have no basis in fact and are really just a muddled mess of ill-conceived opinions and myths.

I bring this up just to keep us all sharp and aware of the battle that rages over the minds and hearts of our children. It’s a shame such a direct attack has come from such a respected teacher. It’s never been more important to know what your children are learning, and who they’re learning it from!

Roger Erdvig is the Superintendent Smithtown Christian School in Smithtown, NY. Learn more about Roger or check out his blog here:  Roger Erdvig.

Boys will be boys . . . or will they?

By Roger Erdvig

“Boys will be boys,” the old saying goes. But did you know that boys in Massachusetts’ schools who consider themselves to be girls have the protected right to use the girl’s bathroom, and girls who self-identify as boys enjoy the same right?

Apparently, the truth about reality is not important anymore. How a child identifies his or her gender has become the only reliable way to actually determine gender. God’s design for male and female anatomical and physiological distinctives are beside the point.

In July of last year, New York State approved guidelines that protect transgender individuals from harassment, which is defined, in part, as “repeated, deliberate use of pronouns and names that are inconsistent with a student’s gender identity.” Read that last sentence again. Harassment– which is punishable by law– includes using pronouns that fit a person’s physical reality.

What’s happened, and how did we get here so fast? As you’ve heard many Christian leaders say, ideas have consequences. There is such a thing as cause and effect: when you remove the capital “T” from the word Truth, nothing makes sense anymore. Up becomes down, wrong becomes right, and gender is a choice. And there you have postmodernism in a nutshell.

Postmodernism is a way of thinking that is a catastrophic transition away from the Biblical standard of Truth. In its place, a new standard is enthroned—the individual’s right to choose their own truth, regardless of how that truth matches up with reality. This same standard of truth drives the gay marriage and abortion-rights crusades. But it hits even closer to home for all of us who are raising children in this upside-down world… Not only are students confronted with books like “Heather Has Two Mommies” in their local libraries and public schools, now, Holly is forced to share the girls’ bathroom with “Hope,” who recently decided that he is a she. (Ooops… I better get my pronouns right.)

When Smithtown Christian School talks about developing students with a mind for Truth, this kind of calamity is exactly why we’re so passionate about this. Our children are inheriting a bog-like mess, and only strong leaders with a heart for God, a mind for Truth, and a passion to change the world will be equipped to lead the way out. This kind of leader will navigate the bog with grace, truth, and a Christlike compassion for individuals.

Roger Erdvig is the Superintendent Smithtown Christian School in Smithtown, NY. Learn more about Roger or check out his blog here:  Roger Erdvig.

Surprise!! ‘Love Wins’ Author Rob Bell Supports Gay Marriage

By Scott Fowler

This, of course, is not a surprise. If you can believe it, the logic Bell uses is the bigger problem. Essentially he is saying, “What we have currently believed in the evangelical church is alienating people so, let’s change what we believe. People will like us more.”

NOTE: The CBN link below includes a link to Bell’s talk at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco.

‘Love Wins’ Author Rob Bell Supports Gay Marriage – US – CBN News – Christian News 24-7 – CBN.com.

 

Scott Fowler is the founder of the Christ and Culture Initiative. He is a pastor/theologian living in New York. You can learn more about him at:  http://scottythinks.wordpress.com/about/

Frederica Mathewes-Green on “gay marriage” and it’s protesters.

Frederica & Fr Gregory Mathewes-Green
Frederica & Fr Gregory Mathewes-Green (Photo credit: jimforest)

By Scott Fowler

I ran across this excerpt from Frederica Mathewes-Green who at least in 2010 was struggling why same-sex marriage was such a threat.

“I tried to picture how a nice male couple living down the street, mowing their lawn and paying their taxes, could damage my marriage. Why weren’t we talking about the most obvious threat to marriage: divorce? And what about promiscuity? If anything undermines the standard of lifelong monogamy, it’s cheapened, merchandised sex. Straight promiscuity destroys families more often than the gay sort; on a list of priorities we should straighten out straights first.”

via Frederica Mathewes-Green on “gay marriage” and it’s protestors. | Dover Beach.

Two things are always interesting to me from inside the believing Church: the failure to recognize the long-term effects of behavior; a belief that one person’s behavior somehow does not influence those around him or her. Doesn’t anybody watch It’s A Wonderful Life anymore? The second thing is the idea that we in the Church can afford to prioritize which truths we will fight for today. All truth at all times is important. So, the idea that the nice male couple at the end of the street won’t hurt my marriage ignores the question of what gets damaged when we decide to bless same-sex unions in our churches and the affect it has on our children as they observe those examples. By the way, since when did we decide to say, “Hey, it’s not hurting me so why should I care?” Further, it may sound gracious or righteous to say let’s “straighten out straits first,” but we have to address everything at all times because guess what: the straights will never be straight in their entirety but that does not excuse us from declaring truth to everyone!

Scott Fowler is the founder of the Christ and Culture Initiative. He is a pastor/theologian living in New York. You can learn more about him at:  http://scottythinks.wordpress.com/about/

HERE IT COMES! GOP sea change on gay rights? – NBC Politics

Rob Portman - Caricature
Rob Portman – Caricature (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

By Scott Fowler

In  a blog entry not yet published called The Sinking Ship of Evangelicalism . . .  , I wrote:

Some are abandoning evangelicalism for political reasons. The fabled evangelical block of power failed conservatives in the last two major elections. Now, with evangelicals being more and more labeled as extremists, I expect to see the Republican party begin moving away from evangelicals and moving to the left—at least far enough to get back in the game.

Today, here is the latest development confirming that prediction:

Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman‘s endorsement of same-sex marriage rights on Friday is the latest high-profile example of a sea change within the conservative movement toward gay rights.

A trickle of GOP leaders have begun to back the rights of gay and lesbian couples to marry, and activists at the conservative movement’s signature gathering this week express tolerance for Republicans who support same-sex marriage, even if they personally disagree.

via GOP sea change on gay rights? – NBC Politics.

America is in a serious state of decline.

Scott Fowler is the founder of the Christ and Culture Initiative. He is a pastor/theologian living in New York. You can learn more about him at:  http://scottythinks.wordpress.com/about/