Sunday, May 4, 2008

A Question for "Ask"

I realized today, that I had a really involved, long question for the website. So I've decided to write up a blog about it, and then carry it over (hopefully in a much shorter form) to the AskGP site.

On Rav, a recent story was linked to from Redford. The story was about a church that had a freestanding sign outside that advertised for the following week's sermon. The message for that particular week said, "God can save homosexuals from their sin" (you can read an article here). I decided to do a little research on the matter (from a Biblical perspective) to see if my opinions could be backed up by the Bible. So I pulled out my heavy, Systematic Theology book and went reading under "sin".

Here's my thoughts on the matter. In Ephesians 2:8 it says, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God". The work was done by Jesus, on the cross - not by us. So to say a sin separates one from God and makes them ineligible for God's grace or becoming or being a Christian, totally and completely baffles me. This is what is known as putting God in a box. There are tons of sins out there - the Law lays out 613 of them. And I've hated listening to all of them three times over - it's just so boring to listen to the Law and yet so completely uplifting to know that Jesus freed us from this!

James (2:10-11) writes:

For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. For he who said, "Do not commit adultery,"[a] also said, "Do not murder."[b] If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker.

Further, Paul (Galatians 3:19-25) writes:

What, then, was the purpose of the law? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was put into effect through angels by a mediator.

Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe. Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ[h] that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.

So we learn that if we break one letter of the law we've broken the whole law, that the whole world is in sin, and that the law was given to us to bring us to Christ. Further, we learn that we are saved by grace not by works.

But are there degrees of sin which will effect perhaps degrees of salvation? I turned to Systematic Theology for this one. For me, there is heaven and hell and there is no in between place that one spends all eternity. First, Grudem spoke about our legal standing with God, he writes, "Any one sin, even what may seem to be a very small one, makes us legally guilty before God and therefor worthy of eternal punishment." (Systematic Theology, p 501).

If just one sin - regardless of how big or small it may seem to us, eternally separates us from God, then it seems to me, in regards to salvation that if one engages in homosexual acts and one lies to their parents about stealing cookies, that both are now legally separated from God due to their own sins. Legally, it appears that sin is the same. Small or large by our understanding, they seperate us from God and are in need of a Savior.

As a Christian, salvation is very important - it's the center. Being saved from the wages of any and all sin - death, hell, eternal separation from God. However, Christian living is also important - it's what matures us in our relationship to God, it's what glorifies God, it's brings us to an intimacy with God when we are obediant or when we call out to Him. Grudem goes on to write about how there are levels of sin that displease God or that will affect our relationship with God, that will have temporal effects (ie consequences) on both ourselves and those around us. This just seems common sense to me.

But focusing on just salvation - one sin does not seem Biblically worse than another. All create separation.

Which brings me to my question - why such the strong movement against homosexuality? Sure, it's a sin - but do we see entire vocal ministries to greedy or obese Christians? Or do we only see loud, high profile ministries dedicated to hot topics of the times? If God is for all sinners, then why are we as the body of Christ, moving away from embracing them and allowing God to convict them of their own sin before Him and instead beating them to death with Bibles?

Is one who puts up a sign, "God can save homosexuals" acting Biblically? Is homosexuality a center circle or salvation issue and if so, can it be Biblically backed OR is this now a preference?

In this passage of scripture, we see the believers being told that lawsuits are wicked and that wicked people don't inherit the kingdom of heaven (1 Cor 6:1-9)

Then in verses 10-11:

Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders 10nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11And that is what some of you were. 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.

But what if someone came to God, knowing that they had lied, stolen, sinned against God but did not accept that their homosexuality was a sin? We know that Christ's work gave us GRACE - which means we do not earn our salvation. And even in these above verses we see that we were "justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ". It seems to me, that Paul is writing about how a Christian should act (would rather be wronged) and how they should not act (uniting with a prostitute).

I come back to Romans 14 where Paul gives the example of eating the meat that was sacrificed for idols or false gods. We know from the OT (Old Testament) that when people had eaten of the meat of the idols they were killed. Yet, now it's a matter of personal conviction and faith? If this is the case with idol sacrifices - which God has made very clear He is opposed to - then why not with homosexuality? We live in a confused world, and I am not in any manner supporting embracing sins, but certainly embracing sinners just as Jesus did regardless of what active sins they are engaging in.

For Christians - are preferences more important than embracing people (sinners)? What does it look like to embrace people as Jesus did? And when we look at Jesus' most stern words, who were they directed to? Religious leaders or sinners?

If we all sin and fall short of the glory of God, then why are condemning each other when we're all so guilty?

1 comment:

Dawn said...

Excellent post, Maggie!! This is an issue that I've been struggling with for a very long time (way before the thread ever started on Rav). Why in the world do we focus on one particular sin, because when we do that, it breaks down true doctrine and skews the message of Christianity. "Way of the Master" helped our church to see the difference. They focus simply on the 10 Commandments and don't worry about those other things because once you show them they are a sinner, the rest is in the Holy Spirit's hands and we've GOT TO GET OUT OF THE WAY!!! Reading that thread has really shown me how badly Christians have gotten in the way and really turned people from the faith!