I have spoken out against an argument frequently made which seeks to promote tolerance and understanding toward alternative lifestyles. As best as I understand the argument–and please clarify or correct me if I am mistaken–the logic goes as follows:
Everyone is a sinner, and there is much Scripture to support this claim. Therefore, how can anyone point to a certain sin and say that it is “greater” or “more severe” than any other? How then can someone condemn another person for their sexual preference or for drinking alcohol while they themselves are sinners as well?
The sentiment behind this point is understandable, and does promote unity and a commonality between all people. But on closer examination, this argument does not benefit our community. Here are several problems with the above argument:
- It admits guilt on the part of the homosexual or the partaker of alcohol.
- It calls into question the salvation of the above-mentioned persons.
- It justifies judgment of the above-mentioned people.
The last two points are subject to interpretation of certain passages of Scripture, which I understand will open debate, but I will attempt to explain my reasoning as best as I can.
The first point should be evident. Our response of “everyone sins” is an admission of sin in itself. No one would absolve a murderer on account of his pointing out that other people also murder. Let us be careful not to admit sinfulness in these actions, because in doing so, we open the doors for the two remaining points.
The second point takes a bit of reading. After reviewing Paul’s argument in Romans 6, we can understand that salvation frees us from sin. Different interpretations can arise here, but we can all agree that a new heart, achieved through salvation, is bent toward God, and no longer toward sin. Does this mean that we no longer sin? Of course not. But it does mean that our hearts are no longer bent toward sin. The changed heart does not choose to sin, it does not “present its body as an instrument of wickedness.” Therefore, if we admit sinfulness in the first point, and we willfully choose a lifestyle that includes drinking or alternative sexual preferences, our accusers can make the argument that we do not have salvation! They can claim on these admissions that we are not followers of Christ: that we are in willful disobedience to His will. This is unacceptable and, I think we all agree, untrue.
The last point flows from the second. If we are not in Christ, then we are His enemies. Through admitting the sinfulness of these choices, we align ourselves against Christ. There is no way around it: it is cause and effect.
The issue in question here is the intent, or the willingness, to sin. Everyone does sin. This is absolutely true. However, a person who chooses to sin in full awareness or belief that what he is doing is sin, is of a different breed than the person who accidentally sins, or commits a sin of passion or negligence. Therefore, if we believe homosexuality or drinking or smoking is a sin, and we continue in these choices, we are choosing to sin and Paul would argue that we have not received a new heart. Therefore, my friends, I urge us to consider the implications of this argument, as I would not want to be called a sinner unfairly by someone attempting to defend me. I do not believe that these choices are sinful in and of themselves, but certainly can lead to sin through abuse and obsession, just like anything else. I also realize that this sort of conversation is controversial, but I felt strongly on these issues and wanted to give encouragement and caution to those fighting this fight.
Again, I submit these thoughts respectfully and humbly, and only after much consideration and many painful hours of research in understanding these arguments and their rebuttals. I welcome conversation and varying viewpoints, as long as they are given in equal humility.
Thanks for your consideration.