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3.04.2005    |    All sins the same?
If one is so inclined, you may get a full discourse on the nature of sin, and on the assignment of various sins into the major categories of venial and mortal. I don't pretend to be any kind of an expert on sin (how's that for a not-very-humble statement). I do know that not all sin is the same. Some sins are worse than others. Or so it would seem.

Which brings me to a common topic of public debate in the chuch: the inclusion and acceptance of openly homosexual people and the so-called gay agenda. A lot of evangelicals have a really, really, hard time with what is usually called "acceptance" or "inclusion" of gays in the life of the church. As do I -- if by "inclusion" and "acceptance" you mean ignoring sin. Which is at the heart of our resistance -- it's because we are being scolded, being told that if we don't accept certain sins we are not even worthy of the name Christisn.

That's the problem -- some of us don't accept sin. In this we emulate Jesus. Our Savior certainly wasn't one to shrink from calling sin by its name. In fact, He comes across as not very "accepting" of sin. Consider just one extract from the Gospels, from Matthew 18:
7 Woe to the world for temptations to sin! For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes! 8 And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire. 9 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire.
Those who can read must know that homosexual acts are sinful. But why is there such a focus on these sins, when we are surrounded by adulterers, by thieves, by those who take the Lord's name in vain? What of those who all but literally bow down before money and the things that money may buy? In different words, idolatry. What about the millions among us who routinely do not observe the Lord's Day? Are these also not sins? Do not each of these call for some form of punishment?

The answers are: of course these are all sins, and, likewise, all call for punishment -- absent repentance. And there is the key. No Christian may "accept" sin as normative, as something that will continue indefinitely. God doesn't. His Son doesn't. To do otherwise is to turn Jesus' teachings about sin on their head. Punishment may remain the Lord's, but it is on us, His flock, to recognize it and resist it with the aid of the Holy Spirit.

Does it really matter which of these sins is worse than the others? Yes, and no. Yes, some sins are unrecoverable in this life. The taking of an innocent life, through murder or abortion, for example. Life is a precious gift to us from God, and one we are not able to restore once taken. So the wrongful taking of life must rank as among the most heinous of sins. How about adultery? Theft? Blasphemy? Coveting thy neighbor's goods? Homosexuality? In one way or another, they also deny life, even though they may not literally result in the ending of a life on earth.

As it is with homosexuality, so it should be with theft, with adultery, with other sins -- never, ever accept the sin. I think that, were there the same sort of intense lobbying by a Thieves Guild to simply accept thieves and be "inclusive", I'd feel the same way about stealing as I do about homosexual acts. The good news is that thieves don't usually steal your stuff and then look at you strangely when you accuse them of having sinned.

Never accept the sin. Always accept the sinner who repents. As many times as it takes to stick. All sin is disobedience to the Word of God; while some sins may seem worse than others, they all have the effect of separating us from Him. This separation will become eternal for those who have not been chosen for unconditional election. Another name for this eternal separation from God is hell.

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About this site and the author

Welcome. My name is John Luke Rich, (very) struggling Christian. The focus here is Christianity in its many varieties, its fussing and feuding, how it impacts our lives and our society, with detours to consider it with other faiths (or lack thereof).

Call this blog my way of evangelizing on the internet.

Putting it differently, we're only here on this earth a short time. It's the rest of eternity that we should be most concerned about. Call it the care and feeding of our souls.

I was born Jewish, and born again in Christ Jesus over thirty years ago. First as a Roman Catholic; now a Calvinist by persuasion and a Baptist by denomination. But I'm hardly a poster boy for doctrinal rigidity.

I believe that Scripture is the rock on which all Christian churches must stand -- or sink if they are not so grounded. I believe that we are saved by faith, but hardly in a vacuum. That faith is a gift from God, through no agency on our part -- although we sometimes turn a deaf ear and choose to ignore God's knocking on the door.

To be Christian is to evangelize. Those who think it not their part to evangelize perhaps haven't truly understood what our Lord told us in Matthew 28. We must preach the Gospel as best we are able. Using words if necessary.

Though my faith waxes and wanes, it never seems to go away. Sometimes I wish it would, to give me some peace of mind. But then, Jesus never said that walking with Him was going to be easy...

Final note: I also blog as Jack Rich on cultural, political and other things over at Wrong Side of the Tracks

Thanks for stopping by.