Why, they argue, do we not seem to exhibit the same kind of righteous indignation against embezzlers or liars or landlords who oppress the poor, as we do against homosexual behavior? Why, they go on to insist, do we single out this one sin when there are so many others sins we could – and should – oppose? From this perspective, it seems like the church is doing the ecclesiastical equivalent of a “pile on.”
It is absolutely true that the church must take a stand against all manner of sin, whether it be shoplifting or rape. All sin is, at its root, an expression of rebellion against God. Therefore, the church must stand against anything which stands in opposition to His righteous rule and reign. I think that sexual brokenness runs so deep in our culture that every pastor should take time to regularly address a whole host of issues along the “sexual brokenness” continuum, including pre-marital sex, fornication, adultery, pornography viewing, misogyny, etc.
However, the reason the issue of homosexuality has been highlighted so much in recent years is not, as is often said, because this sin is being singled out from all the others. Rather, it is because this particular sin is seeking to be legitimized as normative in the life and experience of the church. I expect the wider secular culture to embrace homosexuality as normative and, indeed, to be regularly bewildered by the strangeness of Christian teaching. The point is, no one in the church has sought to promote the ordination of openly practicing adulterers or to legitimize the practice of usury. If there was a movement among us to ordain oppressive landlords or habitual shoplifters, then I suspect that these issues would be regularly discussed as well. No Christian is now saying that usury is a good thing, or that Christians should no longer consider it important to visit prisoners, or help widows in their distress. However, we do have bishops who are telling the church that it is now permissible for someone to sodomize their neighbor. The result is an attempt to legitimize homosexuality and same sex marriage, moving it from the “sin” category to the “sacrament” category.
So, to put in plainly, the church would rather not focus time and energy on homosexuality. We actually don’t believe that homosexual practice carries a heavier moral weight than a whole range of other sins. However, any attempt to relocate any sin from the New Testament “sin lists” to the celebrative, normative list must be addressed because it strikes at the heart of the gospel itself.
Monday, November 26, 2012
Tennent: You can't make a sin a sacrament
Some good words from Timothy Tennent, President of Asbury Theological Seminary.