Today’s question is an important one, and it comes from a listener named Daniel. “Hello Pastor John! Very often Christians point out the sin of homosexuality as a major problem in this country, while seemingly forgetting about the massive amounts of sinners addicted to other sinful patterns in life. Is homosexuality truly more detrimental to a society than other sins? How would you weigh the cultural impact of this sin against, say, the sins of pride and overeating and greed?”
My answer to the last question can be straightforward. I do not doubt that millions more people are ruined in this life and the next through greed and covetousness, through pride, through selfishness, through excessive anger than are ruined through same-sex orientation or through homosexual behavior. The reason for that opinion on my part is twofold.
“Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came into the world to save sinners — heterosexual and homosexual alike.”
On the one hand, the sins of greed and pride and selfishness and anger are more widespread than either same-sex attraction or homosexual behavior. On the other hand, the sins of greed and pride and selfishness and anger are more subtle and disguise themselves more easily as acceptable. Yes, the number of people who are ruined in this life and the next by the sins of greed, pride, selfishness, and anger is vastly greater than the number of people ruined by same-sex orientation or sinful homosexual behavior.
I would add the social miseries brought about through those sins are also vastly greater in scope than any brought about through homosexual sin. My guess is that Daniel didn’t want me to stop there, because that’s my answer to his question, but probably would want me now to ask the question implicit in my answer; namely, well, then, why is so much attention paid to homosexuality? I think that’s probably behind his question.
All of us function in different circles of humanity, and I don’t know anything about Daniel’s context. In my context, the people that I watch most closely in leadership certainly do take note of Daniel’s very point; namely, that homosexuality is no more deadly a sin and certainly no more widespread than greed and pride and selfishness and anger. The people that I function among are keenly aware of this and are eager to make it plain as I am now. It may not, however, be the case in Daniel’s situation. I don’t know. Let me suggest three things about why I think homosexuality is getting such attention in our day.
1. It’s because the media feature this issue. It isn’t Christians who put homosexuality in the news. Christians are drawn to explain our position in public through preaching and writing as often as we do these days because the media have made the issue so public that we feel we need to serve Christians with careful, biblical answers, and we need to clarify for non-Christians how we think. This podcast right now is a good example of this.
2. More importantly, I think, unlike the sins of greed with its counterpart stealing, and pride with its counterpart the humiliating of others, and selfishness with its counterpart of exploiting others, and anger with its counterpart of malice and abusiveness, unlike these sins, homosexual behavior has articulate and forceful advocates and defenders. This is one of the things that makes the sin of homosexual intercourse stand out today.
If there were strident and articulate and forceful publishing advocates for greed and stealing and pride and humiliating others and selfishness and the exploitation of others and anger and abusiveness, if these sins were being publicly advocated, then they would probably get more press as well. You find few if any people trying to normalize stealing and normalize humiliation and normalize exploitation and normalize angry abusiveness, but you find thousands of people trying to normalize homosexual behavior. That’s the second reason why it has a unique place in our society right now. It is a sin with forceful advocates.
3. Homosexual intercourse has an unusual status in our moral discourse because it is, in a peculiar way, going against nature. The apostle Paul describes it like this: “God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error” (Romans 1:26–27).
“Unlike anger, theft, and abuse, homosexual behavior has articulate and forceful advocates and defenders.”
To repeat my answer, I don’t doubt that millions more people are ruined in this life and the next through greed, pride, selfishness, excessive anger than are ruined through same-sex orientation or through homosexual behavior. The reason for the attention that homosexual behavior is getting is not because it destroys more people, but because 1) it makes news, 2) it’s a public sin with forceful advocates, and 3) it is peculiarly contrary to nature. Those of us who believe that same-sex orientation is a distortion of nature and that it may result in sinful homosexual intercourse are called upon, like I’m being called upon right now, to record answers to questions like this and therefore be public about this.
But I end with this. It’s the most important thing I have to say. I want to emphasize that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came into the world to save sinners — heterosexual sinners and homosexual sinners, greedy, proud, selfish, angry sinners and sinners who commit homosexual acts. We all need the same Savior, and the blood of Christ is sufficient to wash away every sin and remove all judgment and bring us to everlasting healing and joy.