The Tulip Driven Life Podcast

Friday, June 17, 2016

Should Preachers Preach Softly Against Homosexual Sin?

By: Thomas F. Booher

Christ predicted woe and destruction on cities that did not repent at His preaching, and after He had done many miracles there (Matt. 11:21-24), saying that it would be more tolerable on the day of judgment for Sodom than for them.

This indicates that not only was Christ healing, but He was preaching repentance from sin, which means He was also engaging society by telling them that they in fact were sinners that needed to repent to be saved. Christ healed, and Christ told those whom He healed that they were sinners that needed spiritual healing, not just physical healing. For those that did not repent, Christ now pronounced woe on them (on whole cities!) and warned them of their coming doom.

Now it is interesting to note that the sin of Sodom was sexual sin, and homosexual sin gets a special mention all by itself (Jude 1:7). For Christ to use Sodom as an example of moral perversion and wickedness means that Christ is pointing out that the kinds of sexual sins taking place there were highly offensive to God (including and especially the "unnatural desires"), and therefore they were destroyed.

So in saying all that I am trying to note that homosexual sin is not the same thing as heterosexual sin. It is a further perversion, and a furthering of God giving sinners over to their own sinful desires. Now if God gives them over to these passions, it isn't something they are born with, as many today, even some ministers, seem to be saying.

I think a lot of people don't like what I am saying (because it is somehow unloving or imbalanced or mean-spirited), including some who are probably Reformed. My question is why? If Christ and Paul and Peter and all the apostles' example is to call sin sin, call a spade a spade, then should not pastors and elders and all believers be willing to do the same (both telling the truth and being open to being told the truth about their sin)? Isn't Christ's warning to the unrepentant cities, as stern and dire as it was, actually a gracious and loving thing? Perhaps God would use Christ's words to draw them to their senses (and thus to repentance? Even though Christ does go on to pray to God and thank Him that He has hidden the truth from them, He also says "Come to Me all who are weary and heavy-laden," because He will give them true rest)

We won't win the gay community over by watering down what Scripture says about homosexuality. It's likewise true that we won't win the gay community, or any community for that matter, if we go around like a bunch of Pharisees decrying the sins we don't struggle with (so much) while pretending the ones we do (more so) aren't a big deal, or that they aren't detestable in the sight of God and  don't make us equally worthy of eternal punishment.

Sin is bad. My sin is bad. Your sin is bad. Adultery is bad. Homosexuality is bad. And we are still sinners even after we are saved, and apart from Christ we are still bad. In Christ, though, we are covered by His blood, clothed in His righteousness, and are being renewed in the inward man day by day. But the sinful flesh remains, and the sin we commit as Christians is still bad, is still wicked, in fact is still worthy of damnation.

That we all have a hard time not sinning (even as Christians) shouldn't mean we conclude that sin isn't an affront to our holy God. It is. The sins we commit even as Christians still offended God, and because they did, Christ died, taking the punishment for our offenses on the cross.

And this is precisely why we tell all sinners, ourselves, heterosexuals, homosexuals, murderers, adulterers, everyone, the truth about sin. And the truth about Christ.

Christ pronouncing woe upon unrepentant cities probably sounded NOTHING like love, particularly to many self professed "loving" and "authentic" churches that heal people's "brokenness" that we have today (even Reformed churches). But it was the only loving thing left He could do. To be abandoned by the God-Man Himself, to essentially be told, "You're doomed because you are unrepentant," should have been the loudest wake-up call to those cities.

So to be "hard" on sin (or I would prefer to call it "calling sin what the Bible calls sin") isn't necessarily unloving. It can be done for unloving motives, and then it is unloving. But not everyone who speaks of the sinfulness of sin is doing so because they hate the sinners they are speaking to (exhibit A would be Christ Himself). They are saying sin is bad because it is, and that the only way to get rid of it is to throw yourself in faith and true, genuine, heartfelt repentance upon Christ, the sin-bearer (this is Christ calling the heavy-laden to Himself after He has just said the cities are so wicked that they are doomed).

Repentance involves a hatred for sin, all sin, and to hate sin you must see sin to be a thing worthy of hating. And you won't see sin as despicable and hate what you are (apart from Christ) because of your sin unless you understand just how black and filthy your sin is (just as I won't hate my sin if I water down how wicked it is).

So can we not admit that to be like Christ and to be faithful to the apostolic message is to call sin sin, to decry the wickedness of our nation, and that doing so can (and should) be done out of an overflow of love in our hearts for sinners and our nation, and that our sincere desire is that as we drive sinners to come to their senses and see their filthiness that we are doing this so that, having seen their filthiness, they might come to the point of true faith and true repentance and desire Christ, the One who cleanses us from all our filth?

If we preach lightly on sin, especially the particular sins of our nation, we will only get a light repentance. But a light repentance is no repentance, it is a repentance that does not save. True repentance is found in the one who beat his chest and couldn't even look up to heaven and cried out, "God, be merciful to me, a sinner" (Luke 18:13). 

Repentance is never, "I know it's wrong, but I can't help it in this fallen world, so I just need to manage it as best as I can, which isn't totally or perfectly. God understands." Though we know how imperfect our repentance is, and how imperfect our obedience is, this should not lead us to conclude that it's okay, or that God "understands" and just wants us to "manage it" as best we can.

Scripture calls us to kill sin, not to manage it. God calls us to be holy as He is holy, not to be holy as best as we think we can given how strong our temptation is and how fallen this world is. Yet I fear this is often the impression that ministers give to those who struggle with homosexuality (and other sins, but especially this one).

So to bring this to the big issue of today. I would, like Christ, physically aid the wounded who were at Pulse Orlando. I would help them in anyway and every way that I could. And I would also, like Christ, after having done all I could to "heal" them, tell them about sin, and their sin (which isn't just homosexuality), and how filthy their sin is (just as mine is), and why it is filthy (so that they can come to see the reality of the sinfulness/filthiness of sin for themselves) until they either tell me to shove off or the Spirit moves in their heart and convinces them that they are just as filthy as the Bible says they are, so that they can see that they can be just as clean and pure and holy as the spotless, sinless, perfectly righteous Lamb of God, Jesus Christ is, through repentance and faith in Him. And I would also (just like Christ) tell those who refused to repent that if they did not repent, after seeing the kindness of God displayed through His kingdom people in meeting their physical needs, that it will not be tolerable for them on the Day of Judgment. 

These words from 1 Peter 1 are crucial because they help show us that we cannot go soft on sin, in our own lives, or in our presenting the gospel to others:

"13 Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 14 as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; 15 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.”[c]

17 And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; 18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. 20 He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you 21 who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

22 Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit[d] in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart, 23 having been born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever,[e] 24 because

“All flesh is as grass,
And all the glory of man[f] as the flower of the grass.
The grass withers,
And its flower falls away,
25 But the word of the Lord endures forever.”[g]

Now this is the word which by the gospel was preached to you."