Thursday, January 19, 2006

Interpreting the Message of Homosexuality, Part II - Our View of Sin


In the last post I mentioned that two more articles would follow concerning our view of sin and our privilege of evangelism because it is one thing to point out the sin of homosexuality - it is quite another to resolve how we should respond to it. Here, we will evaluate what our view of this sin should be. To some extent we did this in the last post. There we saw that homosexuality was a sign of extensive corruption in a society. Particularly in Romans chapter 1 we found that homosexuality is one of several sins listed which indicate that a society is being utterly abandoned by God (Jason Robertson at FideO has an excellent post dealing with the homosexual agenda in this world.). Thus, God gives sinful and rebellious men (Romans 1:18-22) over to further forms of corruption and depravity as an act of judgment (Romans 1:24-31). In that post I mentioned that such an observation should not be taken too far, particularly in the matter of identifying particular sins. Ultimately, all men are corrupt and sinful, no matter what their particular sins are (Romans 3:23) and the wages of man’s sin yield one simple return: death (Romans 6:23). This qualification is important because the dangers of overemphasizing particular sins have produced a number of aberations, not the least of which is that deplorable group at Westboro Baptist Church [www.godhatesfags.com] who publicly mock and berate homosexuals - yes, even attending the funerals of deceased homosexuals to do so (When discovering this I had to resist the temptation of purchasing the domain name www.youblindguides.com and setting up a website that rubuked their endeavors. Of course, the domain name is still available). Ultimately, the act of identifying the rise of homosexuality helps us to understand the extent of corruption in our society. What this observation does not do is:



  • Change our message to this lost world: Our message is Christ and Him crucified (this will never change, no matter what happens in our culture) Ephesians 6:19b.
  • Modify the sufficiency of our armour for the war that we are in, Ephesians 6:11.
  • Alter our battle tactics of ministry - in any way, Ephesians 6:12.

Unlike the amoebic tendencies of the Emergent Church movement (let me claim an invention here: the Amoebic Church), the Scriptures call us to continue in the same ancient battle, using the same ancient message, adorned with the same ancient armour, while employing the same ancient battle tactics of prayer and proclamation (Ephesians 6:19). In other words, the dynamism of worldliness does nothing to change our immoveable calling to be Christ’s messengers in this world (John 13:20); and with this, we must remember that homosexual people need Christ just like unsaved religious people.


So why bother to identify the particular sins of homosexuality and sexual perversion? The answer is (at least twofold): 1. Because the word of God does so (Romans 1:18-31, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, 1 Timothy 1:8-11); and 2. Because it should strengthen our resolve to be more vigilant as the the soldiers of Christ:


Ephesians 5:15-16: 15 Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, 16 making the most of your time, because the days are evil.

Paul’s instructions here offer a stern warning, and in the overall context of Ephesians 5, they give us the reminder that we have a great need to walk as children of light, rather than carousing about in the darkness of worldliness. What the Apostle emphasizes for us in this text is a reminder that we all need to walk carefully - using God’s wisdom to see where our every step lands. It would be as if someone were to say: “you are entering into a mine-field - measure your every step as you go!” His emphasis on our need for intense spiritual insight and discernment must not be missed:


1

The primary verb is nearly lost in most translations: “...be careful how you walk...” While this translation isn’t bad, per se, it fails to magnify the governing verb in the clause. Paul commands us to look(!) where it is that we walk, emphasizing the truth that as the children of light (Ephesians 5:8) we have no reason to be deceived by darkness (Ephesians 5:6-7). Contextually, Paul’s command is one which calls us to look with biblical vision as we carefully place each step forward in this dark and dismall world. And why must we do this? Because the days are evil.


We were once darkness (Ephesians 5:8a), but now we are the children of light (Ephesians 5:8b). We have nothing to boast in this, save our boasting in the Lord alone. Our view of particular sins is calibrated by these truths in many ways. 1. We recognize that the world’s darkness ought to strengthen our resolve to be more vigilent; 2. We remember that we too were darkness, and therefore we magnify Christ and His grace, having no reason to be prideful - because all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory; 3. We should be reminded that our battle armour and strategy has not changed and thus we must press on with the boldness of the Spirit rather than shrinking back in disgust or timidity (2 Timothy 1:7). My last post on this subject will focus on evangelism and homosexuality.


Ephesians 5:15-16 often makes me think of Christian’s journey through the Valley of the Shadow of Death (in Pilgrim’s Progress). There he was engulfed in darkness, being surrounded by a quagmire on one side and a deep ditch on the other. This overwhelming environment of treachery caused him to be far more careful in his walk along the narrow way towards the Celestial City. But in addition to this, Christian found himself nearly falling into the ditch in his attempt to avoid the quagmire; as well, he nearly fell into the quagmire when trying to avoid the ditch. In other words, he had to avoid extremes in his attempt to avoid worldly treachery. In many ways, we are like Christian in his journey. We have a great need to recognize the darkness of the world around us so that we might take greater care concerning our walk in life. As well, we need to avoid extremes when avoiding the wickedness in this world - we don’t want to shrink back from proclaiming God’s truth, but as we do proclaim His Word, we must do so with humility and with the centrality of the Gospel rather than the peculiar message of “godhatesfags.com.” Overall, we need to apply the mandates of Ephesians 5:15-16 in order to walk along the King’s highway - rather than retreating; falling to the left or to the right, or stepping into the wickedness that is so pervasive in this world. Thanks be to God for His truth and His grace, without which, we would be lost in the dark valley of this life. (I have decided to have two final posts in this series - Part III will deal with the subject of “effeminate” men as it relates to the subject of homosexuality and then Part IV will address the matter of evangelism).


(1) The Greek word pos is an adverbial modifier which connects (subordinately) the concept of walking to that of seeing. In other words, we must first look carefully before we can walk successfully. I am sure that we all have an experimental understanding of that truth!