Why address this specific sin and not some other sin that is prevalent in the church?
It is true there are many sins that Christians are struggling with — self-righteousness, lack of love, greediness, selfishness, gossiping, divorce, pornography, etc. We can, we do and we will speak about all these things in the church. But there is a push in our culture right now concerning homosexuality that we do not see in these other sin areas. There is not an overwhelming tide in our day saying that selfishness or pornography are good and good for you. No one is campaigning to celebrate greed or gossip, or we would be addressing those sins.
Should we not spend our time focusing more on our own sin than on the sin of others?
Yes. We should always spend time examining our own hearts and asking God to reveal the ways that we are not walking in faith and obedience. However, remember Jesus’ words, “How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye” (Matthew 7:3-5). That means that we approach the discussion of others’ sin in deep awareness of our own sinfulness and brokenness — with love and humility.
Are homosexual acts and thoughts really sin? I have heard that Jesus never said anything about homosexuality.
Jesus condemns "sexual immorality" (Mark 7:21). Though Jesus does not directly mention homosexual activity, he does include it. The Greek word we translate as "sexual immorality" (porneia) is a catch-all term for any sexual activity outside heterosexual marriage. Jesus also upheld heterosexual marriage when he answered the Pharisees’ question about divorce in Matthew 19:4: “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?”
Also, the Apostle Paul clearly presents homosexual activity as a sin in three important passages. In Romans 1:24-27, homosexual activities are given as examples of the "unnatural" behavior that results from turning away from God. In 1 Cor. 6:9-10, "homosexual offenders" are listed among those whose behavior will result in their exclusion from God's kingdom. The word Paul uses literally translates as "men who lie with men," and is found again in 1 Timothy 1:10.
Aren’t some people just — as Lady Gaga says — born this way?
It may be that some people are born with an inclination toward people of the same sex. But being born with a certain disposition does not make it right or excuse the disposition. The Bible makes it clear that we are all born fallen into sin, with hearts inclined toward sin and rebellion from God. Psalm 51:5 states: "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me." Ephesians 2:2 says that all people who are not in Christ are “sons of disobedience.” God did not create the human race sinful, but upright. But we fell into sin and became sinful due to the sin of Adam. Therefore, today, some people are born with an inclination toward alcohol abuse, or slandering, or greediness. The inclination toward something sinful does not mean the sinful behavior is right. It means that we are all born with sinful heart s— all of us. This is why we need a Savior.
Are we saying or implying that homosexuality is a worse sin than others?
No. Homosexuality is not necessarily a worse sin, but it is sin. This means like any other sin, it is rebellion against God and His Word.
The good news for all of us is that there is no sin that can separate us from God if we repent and embrace the Savior. The Apostle Paul emphasizes, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous 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, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor slanderers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. 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” (1 Cor. 6:9-11).
Wouldn’t it be better just to share the Gospel and not get distracted by things like homosexuality and other things in our culture?
In a way, yes. But in a way, no. If we become all about negative things, known for what we condemn — that is the church that condemns homosexuality and same-sex marriage and strip clubs and bikinis and smoking and drinking and chewing — then we do have a problem. But the Gospel also has little or no meaning unless we realize that we are sinners. God’s law shows us how wretched we are — lost, rebellious, rejecting God, rejecting God’s design for our lives, our sexuality; overcome by idolatry of many shapes and sizes.
The law of God must do its work. It reveals that we are sinners — homosexual sinners, heterosexual sinners, self-centered sinners, unloving sinners, unforgiving sinners, self-glorifying sinners. We are all sinners and therefore we are justly under God’s wrath and judgment. We cannot save ourselves; we cannot change ourselves. We need a Savior. Jesus came as a Savior for sinners, bearing their sin and clothing us in His righteousness. The Gospel really makes little sense without the Law of God and the realization of how messed up and sinful we truly are. So the law must always be preached
James Calderazzo is pastor of Safe Harbor Presbyterian Church in Destin. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.