It’s easy to rail on sins we don’t struggle with, especially sins that are as striking as homosexual practice. (It’s a striking example of rejecting God as He has revealed Himself in creation–Romans 1.)
The problem in how we talk about this is threefold:
1. We miss it when we condemn homosexual sinners without acknowledging that we’re sinners too.
This comes across as almost entirely unpalatable–especially to non Christians. It seems arrogant, proud, and belittling. It’s telling people, “If you were as good of a person as I am, then you could be good with God. But you’re not. So, ha!” And that is one thing people can’t stand.
This is why I tell our students (and anyone really) not to just tell their gay friends, “You’re gay and you’re going to hell,” even though the Bible is clear that those who practice homosexuality will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9). Instead, we should start with, “The Bible says you’re a sexual sinner . . . and so am I.”
This helps break down a barrier people have in hearing the gospel–their perception that Christians are arrogant and self-righteous. “What? You think you’re just as bad of a sinner as you think I am? You don’t think you’re better than me?”
Does the way we talk about homosexuals show that we’re actually concerned about their eternal destiny from a heart of love? Or does it reveal that we’re only concerned about winning an argument or having our view held as the only legal one? If we love them, then may I suggest that we be vulnerable about our own sins, so they might at least be a little more willing to hear the rest of the story?
2. We miss it when we talk about homosexuality but leave out the good news!
Often, the sin of homosexual behavior is simply railed upon. “Look at what this world is coming to! Men sleeping with men! Sodomy! It’s damnable I tell you!” This may be true, but it is not preaching the gospel.
The gospel is good news! Do we even get to the good part? That Jesus Christ died to save sinners (1 Tim 1:15)? And that even though the sin of homosexual practice is not worthy of the kingdom of God, those who do can still be washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of Jesus Christ, just like some of the Corinthian believers (1 Cor 6)?
The gospel is offensive. No one likes to be told that the core of who they are is a sinner–not a murdering sinner, a blaspheming sinner, an adulterer sinner, or a homosexual sinner. But I wonder whether our approach actually even includes any gospel in it. After all, the point of telling someone about the ugliness of their sin is so they can then see the beauty of a Savior.
3. We miss it when we imply people can simultaneously cling to Jesus and their sin.
There is not enough room in anyone’s heart to hold both sin and Jesus as it’s master. If Jesus and the sin of homosexual practice are playing king of the mountain, only one will win. God is jealous that way. He demands total allegiance. (“You will love the Lord your God and serve Him only,” Deut 6:13.)
We are not doing our friends and family a favor if we claim that just because everyone is a sinner, then its OK to keep that sin around. No. Jesus demands that you leave everything else if you’re going to follow Him and worship Him only. No exceptions. Not even sinful tendencies that seem to be natural. Can we really hate people so much by telling them they’re good with God when they’re really not?
This is one of the biggest issues of our day, and it’s not going away. Will we humbly engage people and apply the gospel to the sin of homosexual practice, and actually do so in a way that lets the gospel be offensive instead of us?