Newsflash! Homosexuality is NOT sin! The Church is forcing our LGBT friends into sin!
A post by Neil Hart on Gay stuff and the Lutheran Church of Australia.
A couple of commentors/ on the blog and on facebook have asked a similar question and it gives me an opportunity to further explore (defend?) my bible position on Homosexualtiy. It goes to the question of Sin. Is Homosexualituy sin? Are homosexual thoughts sin?
In the Sermon on the mount Jesus spoke about sin. The Old Testament people had laws that defined sin. These Laws included the 10 commandments. Jesus quotes a couple of Old Testament laws and says…OK… the OT says dont kill, but i tell you if you even think evil of someone then you have murdered them in your heart. You have broken the commadtment. The same with adultery. If you even look lustfully on another person then you have broken the law.
Jesus does this to make us realise that no matter how good we act, we will always need his forgiveness because we will always have sin inside of us.
Get that point? We will always have sin inside of us! Sin is not what we do. Sin is a part of what we are. Im gonna repeat that so that it sinks in…ok?……ready???
SIN IS NOT WHAT WE DO. SIN IS A PART OF WHAT WE ARE!
St Augustine One of the earliest Christian thinkers and writers defined sin with a latin phrase “Incurvatus in se” which means “turned in on ourselves”. (Im including the latin here so that you can memorise it and throw it at your friends next time you’re arguing about this stuff. :) )
The best picture i have of this is a simple sketch done by a Lutheran Pastor, Harry Wendt form his Crossways Bible Teaching Course. Here ’tis
The cirlcles at the top with the arrows represent God. coz God is eternal (circle never ends) and God always gives, focusing on the other. (arrows going out).
The first Pic, the one on the left, shows how we were created to be. Hands raised to receive Gods gifts and raised in praise of God. The arrows of love flow from God TO each human being THROUGH each of us TO each other and back to God as we are caught up in the never ending circle of love, receiving and giving. Thats the way things are supposed to be.
The second pic, the one on the right, shows what sin is. God doesn’t change…as 1 John says…God is (always) Love. But human beings are now “incurvatus in se” or “turned in on themselves”. Another good word would be selfishness. Humans are so focused on self that they are unable to acknowledge God or the people around them in loving, self giving ways. And that is the definition of sin. The “Incurcatus in se” arrows are the “sin” arrows. (notice that hands are no longer raised to receive or praise God!)
(Caution! The diagram is helpful but can be confusing on one point. The arrows turned in on themselves DO NOT represent self love. Self love is good. Self love is from God and empowers us to love each other more truly. As Jesus said…to love your neighbour as you love yourself is THE fundamental aspect of loving God. The “sin” arrows are not self love. they represent selfishness and being closed off from God and closed off from other human beings.
This is precisely the story of the garden of eden, the good part and the bad. It’s about 2 human beings who are naked with no shame. Can you imagine that?? No need to cover up, physically, emotionally, spiritually….no hiding from each other…no lies… no accusations…no guilt…no shame….Just…”Naked and felt no shame” Those words still get me every time i read them….so beautiful…They belong right up there with “At last! Flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone!” (MAN! God creates great stuff…Theres gotta be a better word than “LOVE” to cover it….ummmmm……nope…. i guess love will have to do.) So, the Garden is the diagram on the left.
Compare that beautiful, naked, open, giving, receiving, shameless love of Genesis 2 to the effects of sin in Genesis 3. The humans cover themselves up, they hide from God, they fear, they point accusing fingers and they blame each other and God for everything. That is the diagram on the right and that is sin.
And i have that same sin rotting in my gut. I live out its effects 100’s of times a day. Y’know reader, it occurs to me that sin in my life is probably defined more by the things that i DONT do rather than by the things that i do…all those missed opportunities to give and receive love. (once again…diagram on the right: “incurvatus in se”)
A definition? Sin is a cancer rotting in my gut that makes me selfish. Sin is that which makes me close the door on God and on those around me. Sin is the opposite of “naked and felt no shame”
(OMG! Neil! Note to self. your depression…when you pull the covers over your head…when you feel crap about yourself, anxious about the world and angry at just about everything….It’s SIN Neil!…Yeh..alright….its chemical, and lack of electric impulses in the brain… and all that…but its also sin….hmmmmmm…need to think more about that..)
So first and foremost, sin is what we are, not what we do.
Now, dont get me wrong…sin also has its effect on how we act. Those effects will be different for different people in different circumstances and it will be defined differently in different cultures and in different times. But the actions that we will describe as sinful, no matter the time , place and culture, will always be that which grows out of the sin cancer in the gut, They will be things that sit within the selfish circle on the little person’s head in the diagram on the right. they will be everything that stops us being naked and unashamed, everything that makes us turn away from God and away from each other.
We certainly dont make light of the actions that flow from the cancer of sin. We dont say…Oh well…its in us all…unavoidable…couldnt help myself. NO! We acknowledge the destructive nature of sin in our lives, in our relationships and in our communtiy. We take responsibility before God and each other. We own up. We confess and say sorry to God and to each other. We ask for forgiveness from God and from each other. And we try not to fall into the same mistakes again and again. And…as powerful as the destructive nature of sin is, the forgiving power that flows from God is stronger still to restore and heal our relationships.
Ok…have I made myself clear? My stand on homosexuality does not mean I ignore sin or diminish sin or pretend everything is ok when it isn’t. I fully acknowledge the presence and power of sin. I just wanted to make very clear that sin is, first and foremost, a part of what we are. It is not, first and foremost, the things we do.
Now, i also want to make myself very clear on one other thing. Homosexualtiy is how God made some people. It is not sin. The desire that a homosexual person has to love another person of the same gender is the gift of love from God. It is not sin. A homosexual couple who love each other and commit to lifelong love and fidelity do a good and godly thing. They do not sin. That same couple who express their love sexually within the bounds of lifelong love and fidelity do a good and godly thing They do not sin.
Create a mental image, dear reader, of a homosexual couple. Each individual loves and accepts him or herself just the way God made them. They are thankful to God for the gift of life including the gift of their sexuality. From this heart full of thanks and love they give love to their partner freely, completely and unselfishly (to the best of their ability) and receive the gift of love in return. Now, dear reader, fit that mental image into one of the diagrams above. Left or right? Love or sin? God’s plan and good purposes or evil and self seeking cancer in the gut?
Gotta be love. How can it be anything else. Of course that relationship will be troubled by sin and selfishness. None of us is immune from that. But, like their straight brothers and sisters, they can be sure that the relationship itself and their desires to love are Gods good gift to them both. It’s LOVE and I challenge anyone to say otherwise.
And i make another challenge. I challenge the church to change the way they speak and act toward our LGBT friends. The church’s words and actions isolate and cause hurt. The church’s words and actions have forced thousands, probably millions of people to try to deny and even hate who they really are inside. The church’s words and actions have make my LGBT friends hide and turn in on themselves (what was that latin phrase again? oh yeh… incurvatus in se). the church’s words and actions have developed a climate of fear where accusations are made, fingers are pointed, families are torn apart and reputations and careers are ruined. And its even worse than that. The whole disgusting mess has been presented to society as representative of the character of God.
Ok church…I have a mental image of the way you have acted…Which side of the diagram do YOU belong in?? There is the challenge. I name the church’s attitude and its words and actions toward the LGBT communty for what it is…sin.
Im also reminded of Matthew chapter 18. This is a section of the Bible that really seems to be addressed to church leaders and speaks about their responsibilities to those little ones in their care. Today the “little ones” are my LGBT friends and this passage is for you.
If anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble, skandaliszes them, causes them to lose their faith, It would be better that a large stone be tied around their neck and they be thrown into the sea. Vs 6