Homosexual column and the sin of omission
I find it interesting that in your recent editorial ‘Leave the gays alone,’ in which you discuss homosexuality and try to persuade us of your view on the matter in light of Holy Scripture, you entirely avoid the use of the word ‘sin.’ Why is that? If you believe that homosexuality is not a sin, why not clearly state so up front? After all, you declare that homosexuality is no big deal, harmless, a waste of time and energy to be upset about, and ‘all in the genes.’ Why not add ‘not a sin’ to that list?
I believe the reason you fail to make that last addition (and disregard that three-letter word altogether) is because you would like to avoid the reality of sin. What would lead me to believe such a thing? First, you attempt to discount most of the Old Testament by describing one of its books, Leviticus, as ‘an ungainly book of endless purity laws compiled thousands of years ago for an [sic] primitive agrarian nomadic society’ (certainly of no relevance today, right?). Second, you indicate that morality ‘ at least Christian morality ‘ is relativistic: ‘But you can find Scripture to support nearly any kind of argument you want on just about any topic.’ Finally, you state that Jesus ‘freed us from all ancient constraints’ (such as those in the first point above) that prevent us from loving each other. Bravo! Now I can do as I please as long as I make an effort to love others.
But wait a minute … I was never taught that Jesus freed me from ‘ancient constraints,’ but, rather, that he freed me from sin (there’s that elusive three-letter word; you can look it up in Romans 6:18). Christ has freed me from something that certainly exists in this world. When a woman caught in adultery was brought before Jesus, what was it he told her accusers? ‘If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.’ Jesus Christ is well acquainted with sin (though, thankfully, not acquainted as the rest of humanity).
Furthermore, I have been set free ‘from sin,’ not ‘to sin’ (again, refer to Romans 6:18). Returning to the woman caught in adultery: her foiled accusers left one by one after Christ granted conditional permission to let the stoning begin. Then Christ (the only one present who met the condition) addressed the woman: ‘ … Neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin.’ Hallelujah! There is no condemnation in Christ (I do not speak lightly of this; it is the very essence of the Christian faith).
But we must not disregard Christ’s important final eight words to the woman: Christ commands her ‘ and each of us ‘ to go and leave our lives of sin. Alas, I sorrowfully acknowledge that sin still exists in my mortal body but am confident that ‘he who began a good work in [me] will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 1:6).
In faithfully following Christ, I must not allow myself to be swayed by the argument that, because I live under grace, my sin does not matter. Rather, I must become a slave to righteousness. You quote Luke 10:27, in which Christ first commands to love God with all my heart, soul, strength and mind. That is first and foremost. Love includes obedience, therefore I must leave my life of sin and hate all sin.
Yes, Mr. West, I am called to love my neighbor, but I cannot love my neighbor if I do not first love and obey God. And, lest you think Jesus was silent on the subject of homosexuality, listen to his words from the Sermon on the Mount:
‘Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished’ (Matthew 5:17-18).
This proclamation pertains to all of Scripture, New Testament and Old, including that dreaded book of Leviticus.
You do not deny that the apostle Paul said homosexuality is wrong (I will go so far as to say he said it is sin). But you dismiss this by speculating the apostle’s ‘thorn in the flesh’ was homosexuality (at least you do not make the claim, as some are wont to, that Jesus himself was homosexual). There is no compelling evidence that Paul had homosexual urges; any claim as to Paul’s thorn in the flesh is mere speculation. But if Paul did have homosexual urges and yet clearly taught that the exchange of natural sexual relations for same-sex relations is shameful, indecent and sinful (see Romans 1:24-27), is that not a persuasive argument that homosexuality is in clear violation of God’s law?
While I am called to love my neighbor, I do not consider it gay-bashing when a church member refuses to put himself or herself under the authority of a leader who refuses to call a sin a sin; what spiritual leadership can such a person provide?
Dr. Michael Radmacher, 33, is the son of William and Barbara Radmacher of Corydon. He teaches biology and math at Kenyon College in Mount Vernon, Ohio, outside of Columbus.