Homosexuality—A Sin Like All Others
And this brings out an important point that must be said. In the Scriptures we examined, homosexual sins were listed right along with many others (and there are a number of other Scriptures with similar lists). The Bible does not single out homosexual practices as more sinful than any other sin. Yet this is the impression you might get listening to many Christian and conservative commentators. When we see homosexuality as a grosser or more revolting sin than other sins, we are showing a deficiency in ourselves. God sees all sin as so revolting that He must remain separate from it. This is the way we Christians should see it.
But, you might ask, what about Sodom and Gomorrah? Surely God destroyed them because of their homosexuality, proving it to be worse than other sins. Don’t be so sure. Yes, homosexuality seems to have been rampant in Sodom and Gomorrah. But they had more problems than homosexuality, and God does not even list homosexuality among Sodom’s sins in Ezekiel 16:49: “Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.” Look again at that list! We may be stunned to find fullness of bread and idleness listed among the sins of Sodom. We might begin to understand, however, when we see how these can be connected with the last sin listed—not helping the poor and needy. Apparently, many of the people had more than they needed and even had extra time on their hands, but did nothing to help the poor. I think we would be better off examining ourselves for these sins rather than condemning the “Sodomy” of others.
I think these rallying cries against homosexuality are spurred, not by the righteousness of Jesus Christ, but by a self-righteousness that rears its head because homosexuality is a sin that does not tempt the majority of people. Not being tempted by it, we can feel self righteous by standing up and decrying it. I was once in a men’s prayer meeting when one of the men said that we Christians should get bombs and blow up all of the “queers” at gay parades. How sad that this man did not see what kind of spirit he was of (see Luke 9:55-56).
In 1 Corinthians 5:11-13, Paul writes, “But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.” God has not set Christians up as the accusers of the world. Yet, condemnation of non-Christians has become so common among Christians that most Christians apparently think the Bible commands it. It seems that many non-Christians also think of the stereotypical Christian as standing with a pointing finger crying “sin”! But the Bible tells us to cry “forgiveness and freedom from sin to those who believe on Jesus Christ.”
Getting the Gospel All Wrong
In the same Christianity Today article cited above, Knapp says, “If God expects me, in order to be a Christian, to be able to theologically justify every move that I make, I’m sorry. I’m going to be a miserable failure.” Reading this in context, I think what she means is that she sees Christianity as it has been presented to her as jumping through hoops to stay a Christian. But she now rejects this and expects that God will accept her even as she lives her gay lifestyle. What Jennifer Knapp, and so many others, seem not to realize is that God does not expect us to justify ourselves, whether theologically or otherwise. But neither will He accept us unchanged.
This same mistake about the Gospel can be seen in a statement made in 2008 by another CCM artist who announced that he is gay: “This is what it really comes down to,” stated Ray Boltz. “If this is the way God made me, then this is the way I’m going to live. It’s not like God made me this way and he’ll send me to hell if I am who he created me to be — I really feel closer to God because I no longer hate myself” (“Ray Boltz Comes Out“). The problem with this thinking is that every single human being on the face of the earth is born a sinner with a natural inclination to sin. And we do all sin. The Bible tells us that this sinfulness is not God’s fault, as Boltz suggests, but is our own fault. We are responsible for it, and it condemns us to separation from God and eternal punishment. But God, in His love, sent His Son to suffer and die in the place of all those who will believe on Him as their Savior. Yet, contrary to what Boltz and Knapp believe, God doesn’t save us and leave us in sin. He saves us out of sin. Yes, He puts believers under New Covenant laws that do not condemn. But He does more. He transforms the believer! Something happens to those who believe in Jesus. They die with Him and rise to a new life.
Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof. Neither yield ye your members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin: but yield yourselves unto God, as those that are alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness unto God.
None of this is forced on anyone. God graciously gives His children belief and a new mind and a desire to live for Him. Although they may struggle in their new life, their desires and goals and values are God’s. They are never contrary to His revealed will in the Bible. When someone says that she does not want to deal with what the Bible says about her lifestyle but that, instead, “a spirit” overrides that, something is seriously wrong.
A Pitiable Situation and Dangerous Example
Jennifer Knapp should receive our pity, not our condemnation. If she refuses admonition, then she should be treated as a non-Christian (which is the meaning of Matthew 18:17). But we should keep in mind that non-Christians are candidates for evangelism.
Also sad in this situation is the dangerous example Knapp has set. Knapp’s philosophy seems to boil down to believing that God doesn’t want you to feel bad, so He must want you to do whatever feels good to you. How many young people who have been brought up in the church but are doctrinally weak will be influenced to think that Knapp’s argument sounds reasonable? This brings up the general danger in having “Christian superstars” in the first place. These people are only human and should not be seen as examples.
Moral Whips and Ouija Boards
The Jennifer Knapp incident brings into focus two of the groups (there are more) that evangelical Christianity is dividing into. On the one hand, there are the conservatives who are seen as being politically conservative, war hawks, and crusaders against sin in our culture. They consider the Bible as central to their beliefs, though they may have little knowledge of how to understand it. They are also perceived as lacking compassion.
On the other hand are those who see the Bible as a book upon which we can put our personal interpretations based on our experiences. What we are to believe and do as Christians is not dictated by absolutes but is in a state of flux that changes with the culture. Evangelicals, they say, must leave behind the divisiveness of doctrine, preaching, and moral absolutes; and, instead, work for social change, economic equity, and improving the environment.
Both groups are wrong. The Bible is neither to be used as a moral whip to scourge society into obedience nor as a sort of personal Ouija board to use to find a course in life that feels good to us. Each Christian has a responsibility to feed on the Word of God, make an effort to understand the Bible without prejudice as it interprets itself, and conform to it. Those who are truly converted do not want to conform to the dictates of culture or even to their own carnal inclinations. Instead, they want to be transformed by the renewing of their minds, and “prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:2).
Copyright © 2010 Peter Ditzel. Permissions Statement.