Why the Focus on Homosexuality?

Gay Flag

One accusation often leveled at those of us who teach against homosexuality is, “What about other sins? Why do you focus so much on homosexuality.”  The implication is that we let other sins go while we single out homosexuality for extra attention. I wanted to address this.

First, My guess is that the week to week teaching of most pastors is more balanced than what people read from them on the Internet. I write a lot about sodomy and other sexual issues here. But when I preach I cover sins like pride, gossip, lying, adultery, fornication, selfishness, hypocrisy, etc.  I rarely preach against sodomy, though it does come up from time to time. My congregation knows it is a sin. But they don’t always know how to defend themselves against the onslaught of homosexual propaganda. Therefore I often address homosexuality when I write. In other words, perception from blogs and articles is probably not the reality in the day to day and week to week life of most churches. But even beyond this most men I know, including myself, write on a broad range of subjects. Homosexuality is one of the sins we address in our writing, but certainly not the only one. Our topics are more balanced than people think.

Further, homosexuality is just like every other sin in that it can be forgiven by the blood of Christ and the sinful desires can be overcome by the Spirit. We can have a great measure of victory over those sins in this life. No pastor or Christian thinker I know or follow believes that sodomy is somehow unforgivable or is worse on a personal level than any other sin.

But even though homosexuality can be forgiven like all other sins in at least two ways sodomy is not like other sins and therefore demands more attention from ministers.

First, Paul teaches in Romans 1:18-32 that sodomy and lesbianism is a sign that God has given a people over. It is not just a sin. When a culture adopts sodomy as a way of life it is being judged by God. This, along with Sodom and Gomorrah being listed frequently as a sign of God’s great judgment, make it difficult to put regular homosexual practice on par with all other sins in its level of depravity. It is deep rebellion against God and His created order. This does not make it unforgivable. But it does mean the culture is deeply diseased. A cold, though a sickness, does not require the same attention as cancer. Sodomy is cancer.

In addition to the Biblical text, we also have the celebration of sodomy in our culture. Homosexuality is not just a sin that shows up in our society.  It is a sin that is praised and paraded. It is darkness declared as light and bitterness declared sweet. It is a sin that puts men in Hell and yet is promoted as a virtue in some sectors of the church. There are pastors butchering sheep by saying that homosexual practice is okay. Here is I Corinthians 6:9-10:

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.

No other sin on this list is treated like the “effeminate” and the “sodomites.” We do not have parades where thieves are praised for robbing people or where drunkards are praised for getting drunk. Elders are not pushing at general assembly to have extortioners praised for their love of mankind. We don’t have debates on whether or not the Bible forbids idolatry. Of course, people still steal and get drunk, some churches turn a blind eye to these sins, and the world promotes these sins at times. But even sins like fornication and adultery, which are rampant in our culture, are not generally paraded as virtues.  In many shows, cheating on your spouse is still viewed as wrong. When was the last time a show portrayed sodomy as wrong?  In other words, in our society homosexuality is not like other sins. It is given special treatment.

An analogy with abortion is easy to make. Can a doctor who performs abortions be forgiven? Of course. Can a mother who killed her child be forgiven? Again, of course. But abortion becomes something different when it is widespread with millions of babies being killed and a society that facilitates and praises chopping up children in the womb. Beating someone to death with a bat is murder just like killing a baby is. But in a context where abortion is widespread and often praised, to focus on killings with bats misses the point.

Being a drunkard will send you to Hell just as quickly as sodomy. Drunkenness should be condemned and fought against. But given the Bible’s teaching in  Romans 1, Sodom and Gomorrah, and our culture’s push for sodomy to be praised as good and right it is not hard to see why Christian pastors and teachers spill so much ink on homosexuality. They are not running from the battle against sin. They are fighting where the battle is hottest.

Communion as Medicine

One of the frequent objections to taking Communion is that we are unworthy, that sin still sits in our hearts and thus we must refrain until we get rid of all our sin. John Calvin strips this objection of all its power. In fact, he argues that our sin is the exact reason we need to come to the Table.

When we feel within ourselves a strong dislike and hatred of all sin, proceeding from the fear of God, and a desire to live well in order to please our Lord, we are fit to partake of the Supper, notwithstanding of the remains of infirmity which we carry in our flesh. Nay, if we are not weak, subject to distrust and an imperfect life, the sacrament would be of no use to us, and it would have been superfluous to institute it. Seeing, then, it is a remedy which God has given us to help our weakness, to strengthen our faith, increase our charity, and advance in all holiness of life, the use becomes the more necessary the more we feel pressed by the disease; so far ought that to be from making us abstain. For if we allege as an excuse for not coming to the Supper, that we are still weak in faith or integrity of life, it is as if a man were to excuse himself from taking medicine because he was sick. See then how the weakness of faith which we feel in our heart, and the imperfections which are in our life, should admonish us to come to the Supper, as a special remedy to correct them.” (Calvin, Treatises on the Sacraments, p. 178-179)