In the twenty-seventh year of Jeroboam king of Israel, Azariah son of Amaziah king of Judah began to reign. He was sixteen years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-two years. His mother’s name was Jekoliah; she was from Jerusalem. He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father Amaziah had done. The high places, however, were not removed; the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense there.
– 2 Kings 15:1-4
Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.
– Romans 1:24-27
I recently read a report about the decision at Azusa Pacific University, an evangelical Christian university, to ban same-sex romantic relationships on their campus. Of course, this created a firestorm of protests.
I stay clear of this controversy, usually. I am very conservative in my beliefs, but I try to stay out of the arguments. Arguments usually lead to hurt feelings and animosity on both sides. So, what caused me to even read past the headline of the report was a quote in the tagline about what the protestors were chanting. “God, this is not sinning.”
I hope Azusa Pacific did not teach the protestors this type of theology. I quoted Romans 1 as the Scripture. I will let God’s word stand alone as the only argument in that regard. This chant gave me concern more than the controversy at hand.
Whether you agree with the content of the chant or you do not, it is not a good idea to tell God what is a sin and what is not. That job is for God, and it is God’s job alone.
If from the Scripture above, we can determine that this is a sin, then let us categorize it as part of the seventh commandment: You shall not commit adultery.
I have a problem with people deciding that what is sin is somehow not sin. In our minds, if we can strike out one of God’s commands, we never have to repent of that sin. In Mark 1:15, we hear the first message of Jesus as He starts His ministry, “Repent and believe the good news!”
But people claim that they were born this way. For one, I have heard and read a variety of arguments against that, but let me make one argument for it. We all have original sin. We were born with it or might I rephrase that. We were born that way. One person is easily tempted in one direction, while another is easily tempted in another. There is nothing new in those statements.
Romans 3:23 says that we have all sinned. Romans 6:23 says that the wage for sin is death. Romans 6:23 continues to say that salvation comes through Jesus. Yet, we are to repent. We are to turn away from evil, even if it ‘feels good.’
I have no problem sitting in the pew next to someone who has sinned. The only way not to do so is to find an empty pew. I will go further to say that I love those on my pew, whether they have unconfessed sin in their lives or not.
But I do have a problem with someone who claims that their sin is not sin or that their sin is special and there is no reason for repentance.
Would society accept someone who loves to murder people? This person may argue, “I was born this way.” Thus, he should go free and continue? No! Society would not stand for it.
God gave Israel a lot of rules in the second half of Exodus and throughout Leviticus. Among them are the Ten Commandments. Violating any of these means we have sinned and fall short of God’s glory. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus goes beyond the commandments to state that the evil intent to commit a sin is a sin. So, in God’s judgment, getting angry at our neighbor and calling him or her a ‘fool’ is something for which we need to repent. Yet, the argument from the previous paragraph about society allowing people to call their neighbor a ‘fool’ would be ludicrous. Your neighbor may punch you in the nose, but I doubt if it is against the law to call him a ‘fool’. Society does it all the time. Just ask any driver of an automobile during rush hour. If you hear political speeches these days, calling someone a ‘fool,’ their opponent, is very popular.
The first Scripture from 2 Kings talks of King Azariah of Judah. He was a good king, but he left the ‘high places’ untouched. People were making sacrifices to false idols at those high places. Some of that worship of these false idols included sexual rites, some of those rites being unnatural, as the Apostle Paul says. God became upset with Azariah and allowed him to get leprosy, leaving Azariah’s son, Jotham in charge of Judah.
Let’s get the flow of what was happening. Judah sees the nations around them doing something that looked like fun. It was the popular thing of that age. They tried it themselves. The people who still trusted and worshiped to true God warned them that they should repent, but there were so many people doing this abominable thing that even the king felt powerless to stop it. The king did things himself as God wanted. Thus, he was a good king, but he wanted to also be popular to the secular world around him. Yet, God ensured the king would be punished for his sin of not using his royal authority to put a stop to the sin of others.
Many do not pay any attention to the Old Testament today, ensuring themselves of repeating the same problems. They just place new labels on it.
In Philip Yancey’s book, The Jesus I Never Knew, Yancey asks how it came to pass that the ‘church’ lost its way. Jesus often dined with sinners. His message was to repent, but He spent time with what the world called sinners. Jesus welcomed everyone, but Jesus had His problems with the religious establishment, the pious Pharisees.
Yet today, people feel marginalized in their sin. The sinners that we should be reaching are on the outside, looking in all directions other than the church. Why? Because the ‘church’ is filled with pious Pharisees. The sinners have this perception that they would not be welcome. The reason why C. S. Lewis hesitated in becoming a Christian was other Christians. We either sin openly and do not repent or we hide our sins behind closed doors and look down our noses at others who allow their sins to be discovered.
Lord, may I not be in either of these categories. I am a sinner. I praise Your Holy Name. You have saved me. Please, Lord, getting rid of old habits and attitudes is painful, but show me more of my sin so that I can repent from it and become more like Jesus. And, Lord, help me to be more accepting of others. They are sinners, too. If they have You in their hearts, they will want to repent of their sins as well. But, Lord, help us to stay true to Your Word. Help us to identify the wrong and eliminate it. Help us to not make the mistakes of King Azariah, letting sin seem to be something other than sin, just because it is a popular activity at the time. In Your Name, I pray. Amen.
I have tried to skirt around the controversy and stick to what burdened me to write this – the idea that we can dictate our definition of sin to God. I have some bad habits that don’t hurt anyone else, so I would love to think that they are not sin. I would probably be wrong. So, I keep cleaning my own house. I hope you take it with the understanding of my intent.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.