Sin and the Church

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 12:59 AM

Again, Kevin Hartwig has posted a thought provoking piece at sakamuyo 2.0. In it he discusses how we shouldn't “disciminate against” homosexuals and other groups of people in the church. I agree that we should reach out to all people, but I am unsure if I agree with some of the “inbetween the lines” stuff in the commentary. Read on for a link to the original piece as well as my take on it (typos and all).

I think he is right that we shouldn't hate certain people or turn them away from the church. But I also think that does not mean that the church should simply accept people unrepentantly sinning. In that mind, I posted the following comment (read his post first so that it makes sense). You'll also find some closing thoughts after my comment.

I agree too, insofar as I would agree concerning any sin. I also agree with Steward and Le Renard. I think if someone is embezzling money, the church should confront him in the manor Jesus lays out (first by one person, then by the elders, then by the whole congregation [Matthew 18:15-17]). Would you agree? Likewise, I think a homosexual should be confronted.

It's not so much “homosexualness” that should be confronted, but whether they act on that desire. If they do, that's just as wrong as a hetrosexual acting on that desire out side of wedlock (and vise versa). For example, as a single person it would be just as wrong if I had a physical relationship with some girl as it is for a homosexual person to have such a relationship with their “partner.”

It isn't that they should be eternally condemned for their feelings — for better or worse, they have them, just like the hetrosexual does. BUT, they also need to try to control those feelings. It is easy to fall into lustful activities, but prayer and the Spirit help to avoid them. As Paul writes, we will not ever be tempted more than we can bear (1 Corinthians 10:13).

Certainly I sin. I sin lots. I sin everyday. But I also try to repent and realize these are things I don't want to do again. I don't say that to say I am good. Certainly, I'm terrible about this. I don't like stopping sinning and I'm bad about repentence too. But, I still think it is important even if I don't always want to.

The point is, as Paul says we should not sin so that “grace may increase” (Romans 6:1). Many of Paul's arguments were about people taking advantage of grace to sin.

Obviously, we are all in sin, but that doesn't mean that we should condone habitual sinning of a particular type. If someone is in a gay relationship and they are Christian, that means they are willingly admitting that they don't mind disobeying God's Holy Spirit by defiling the Temple of God (that is our body — 1 Corinthians 6:19).

I think many churches take the wrong tact at dealing with this, but as I said, Jesus did note that we should address those in sin. He was often around the tax collectors and prostitutes. He loved them, but He didn't say “just keep up the status quo.” He told them to “go and sin no more.” I can't think of the verse at the moment, but Paul also addresses this. We are suppose to love our neighbors, you are right, but we are also suppose to encourage people to follow God's will. In that respect, we should help people escape their lifestyle, so to speak, not just look the other way. Love doesn't mean appeasement, it means considering what is best for the person. It would not be love to blindly act as if there is nothing wrong with unrepentant sinning any more than it would be love not to scold a child for playing on the edge of a cliff. Maybe they won't appreciate being told “no, don't do that,” but it would be much more loving than simply watching as they go over the edge.

Likewise, considering the comment about that pastor who was asked to leave because of his gay lifestyle, I would have to agree with the decision, although perhaps the method wasn't good. If a pastor is robbing banks, we would ask him to step down. If a pastor was known to make vicious lies to the congregation, we would ask him to step down. If the pastor padded his his pockets as he took the offering plates from the ushers, we would ask him to step down. If the pastor often had his girlfriends stay over night, wouldn't we ask him to step down? A pastor should help lead the congregation away from sin. That's not to say they aren't human, but certainly a pastor who is unrepentant about sin that he is called on should be questioned whether his heart is really seeking God.

Now, if the pastor says “I have this problem, will people help me stop”… that is a different story. IIRC, in one of your previous posts you noted how in such a case, the congregation reacted in a most unforgiving way. But if the pastor says “everyone sins, so do I and this is my sin, live with it…” that doesn't seem like a Christian attitude. Galations 5:16-25 seems key here.

Anyway, I could say lots more, but I think you get the point. The church should never seek to hurt or hate anyone. But I do think that “love the sinner, hate the sin” can be justified.

It is my opinion that this is an area critical to the church today. For the most part there are two visible groups. We either have those that wish to adopt a laissez faire attitude toward morality, perhaps even going further and encouraging rebellion against Biblical morality and we have people that consider them above sinners and thus wish to push themselves away from those “sinners.”

I think however, many (most?) Christians take a middle ground, rejecting the sin, but not staying away from bringing the love of Jesus to these people. Really, without the Holy Spirit, why should we even expect to behave in the way that the Bible says? I think these are also the people that will make an effort to help the person on a wayward course to change their heading once they have received the Spirit. It would be a disservice to them and God to bring them the Gospel and then leave them in their sin without any help. This is the tough part, but it is part of showing Christian love.

Anyway, enough with my soap box. Does anyone else have thoughts?

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1 comments posted so far.

RE: Sin and the Church

I do not know why this is such a big issue. I am a gay man who has been with my partner for 15 years now. I have always walked with Jesus by my side and have treated him as my friend and savior. It was he that helped me to find my true love and it is love that is the bases of our “marriage” in God’s eyes. I do not believe that a true Christian is to impose his own beliefs and practices on another person. To force is to sin. As for sex before marriage being a sin. I do believe that this is like saying… Since God created Adam and from Adams rib created Eve. Then it is God who created the sin of sex before marriage. After all who was there to marry them. Also, incest comes into this as well as it was the off spring of them that begot the tribes. Another point is if we are all born into the world with original sin then it was a sin to have sex weather married or not. I am not one to believe in mans great and holy war against sin as God has taught me that we sin and make mistakes to show us that we are only human and in this manner he gave us his only son to die for our sins but was it a sin for God to impregnate Mary and for Mary to cheat on her husband. I do not question God and have a great relationship with him. I just feel that people make to many issues and go to great lengths to prove that what they practice and preach are the right way and every one else is wrong. When in reality man has made up the rules as he goes along to great lengths to live in denial. To many scriptures are being thrown around to defend and destroy people. There are actually so called Christians protesting against awareness of bigotry and hate crimes. What kind of Christians are these people to actually preach that it is good for another person to die. If Jesus were to have been born in this time and age he would have gone through the same persecution and humanely put to death. I just feel that mankind as a whole has become such Hippocrates that they are losing their own soles while trying to gain the world. Be very careful at this time as it is getting closer and the signs are on the wall. Iran and Iraq are the gates to the beginning. Then comes the devil spewing scriptures from the bible to confuse the world. Remember it is not a easy road as a Christian and the devil will be the most sweetest kindest person or nation before he takes over. It will seem like the right thing to do but in reality it will be an abomination to God just as the so called Christians are doing now. The kingdom of God is real and will come down and replace the city of Jesus birth. Not many will be able to enter the kingdom as you will have to be the purest of heart. This goes for all mankind not just certain people. I am so sorry and sad for this planet as we have shown we care more about war, hate, death and destruction then life it’s self. My heart was full to see the World trade center disaster happen as I had seen some of it’s ruins in a vision as a child. The thing that hurt then and now is the inhumanity of it and of most disasters,accidents and deaths. We have become a race of people who build monuments to death and seem to welcome it more than we should be building monuments to life that help those that are alive. The time and money spent on death out ways what is spent on the living. The monuments on the highways and roadways are appalling in the sense of showing death not life. So many people go hungry every night but we rather invest in space trips, monuments,death and war. Really it has become so bad that we care more about sex and who is doing it with who then who is in need of help. As I said I am married in God’s eyes. I feel it is mankind who has created the gay sin as it is mankind who says it is wrong and will not let me marry the one I love. I was born this way and as God has made it clear to me he made me this way he does not hate me and it is a sin for me to question God on his judgment. We are all humans and when we can start acting as true Christians and stop questioning what God has created then let he with out sin cast the first stone. DO NOT PETITION GOD OR JUDGE HIS CREATIONS YOU ARE ONLY HUMAN AND IT IS IN YOUR MORTALITY AND SELF WORTH THAT YOU FALL SHORT OF THE GLORY OF GOD. God is every where and that includes the internet…………

Posted by Timothy - Dec 13, 2003 | 2:45 AM- Location: Honoring God

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