“While the church views homosexuality as sinful, and does not allow openly-gay men to become priests, this attitude needs to change.”²
The bible is accused of being out of date and the church the church is being pressured to modernize to better fit today society. Why is that? Society isn’t what is was millennia ago, we are far more sophisticated now, more accepting, more progressive than back then. Really? Are we? Has the human condition changed over the millennia? I dare say no, what was sin then is sin today.
Would it surprise you to know that homosexuality was acceptable in Rome in Jesus day? And it wasn’t until the fourth century that legal prohibitions against male to male marriages appeared, as Christianity took hold of Rome.¹ Jesus and the apostles were well aware of homosexuality in their day, and I am sure God’s word was just as unpopular then as it is today.
It must be clarified here that God is not against LGBT people. He loves them as much as he loves king David or Moses. God has no preferences among people when it comes to his love for them. His justice demands consequences but that doesn’t change his love for those who chose to reject and disobey him. Any parent can tell you their love does not change if their child becomes unruly or disobedient. A parents heart breaks as their child walks a road that is destructive to them. God is against sin not people, sin which cost him his one and only Son. John 3:16.
Below are some quotes from a write up on the Catholic church, stating what many today are thinking, and that is that the church needs to catch up with society.
[Pope]“Francis, … said, “Who am I to judge?” when asked about homosexuals within the church.”²
“While the church views homosexuality as sinful, and does not allow openly-gay men to become priests, this attitude needs to change. Homosexuality is seen as contrary to God’s plan, but how can that be if we are all God’s children?” ²
Is God’s word irrelevant today, out of date, or stale as modern society perceives to have outgrown the archaic morality of its ancestors? Are we so much more enlightened today compared to the society Jesus spoke to two thousand years ago? Are we smarter, fairer and morally superior today than those who walked the earth in the first century? You may be surprised to find out that answer is no.
Is morality fixed? Or can it evolve with societies enlightenment? Will torturing a defenseless puppy for pleasure always be morally objectionable, or how about the killing of a defenseless infant at moment of his/her birth? Will that every be morally unacceptable? Because today in Canada there is no law prohibiting it and if anyone suggests changing the law, outrage ensues from the progressive left. I leave that to you for thought.
Our moral compass as with a directional compass, is useless without a fixed point of reference, and that is what God’s word is. Look what happened in Germany when their society decided Jews were not human beings. Their moral majority slaughtered six million people.
Judging Others Within the Church
Surely some things that were considered sin millennia ago cannot be considered sin in our progressive society. We are more enlightened today, more accepting. Lets look at the quotes from above about homosexuality.
Pope Francis says, “who am I to judge”. Didn’t Jesus tell us, do not judge and you will not be judged? Didn’t he say, before you try to take a spec out of your brothers eye, take the log out of your own? Yes he did say that when speaking about hypocrites. The bible must be taken on the whole and in context. Too many pull out verses and try to build their case on one or two out of context scriptures. Add to that an out of control politically correct society who are afraid to make any judgments about any thing without fear of reprisal and you have a recipe for disaster.
1 Corinthians 5:3-5, 9-12; “Even though I am not with you in person, I am with you in the Spirit. And as though I were there, I have already passed judgment on this man in the name of the Lord Jesus. You must call a meeting of the church. I will be present with you in spirit, and so will the power of our Lord Jesus. Then you must throw this man out and hand him over to Satan so that his sinful nature will be destroyed and he himself will be saved on the day the Lord returns.” “
“When I wrote to you before, I told you not to associate with people who indulge in sexual sin. But I wasn’t talking about unbelievers who indulge in sexual sin, or are greedy, or cheat people, or worship idols. You would have to leave this world to avoid people like that. I meant that you are not to associate with anyone who claims to be a believer yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people. Don’t even eat with such people. It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning.”
1 Titus 1:9; “He must have a strong belief in the trustworthy message he was taught; then he will be able to encourage others with wholesome teaching and show those who oppose it where they are wrong.”
2 Timothy 4:2; “Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching.”
So how does this square with what Jesus said about judging others?
Matthew 7:1-6; “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.
“And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye. “Don’t waste what is holy on people who are unholy. Don’t throw your pearls to pigs! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you.” – Jesus
Many people will just ignore the scriptures they don’t agree with and accept only those which agree with their own ideology. In effect, they are judge God himself. Jesus was talking about judging rightly, with correct motives and clear vision, not as the hypocrites do with spiritual pride and arrogance.
You cannot say you agree with what Jesus said while ignoring Paul. You cannot dismiss that Paul took severe action against a man who was sleeping with his stepmother, and then admonished the church for ignoring, if not accepting the situation.
The principal of judgement all through the bible is to bring the sinner back into right relationship with God. The goal is not to condemn them, but to restore them. In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians he mentions restoring a man. The man many believe to be involved with the stepmother. He apparently has repented (turned around and went another direction) but is still feeling the effects of his sin from the church.
2 Corinthians 2:5-8; “I am not overstating it when I say that the man who caused all the trouble hurt all of you more than he hurt me. Most of you opposed him, and that was punishment enough. Now, however, it is time to forgive and comfort him. Otherwise he may be overcome by discouragement. So I urge you now to reaffirm your love for him.”
In the Old Testament God sent judgement on the Israelite’s for sinful behavior, but his goal was always to turn them back to himself. His love for us is similar to parents today, he disciplines us for our own good because he sees the danger we are in that we cannot see.
Ezekiel 33:10,11; “Son of man, give the people of Israel this message: You are saying, ‘Our sins are heavy upon us; we are wasting away! How can we survive?’ As surely as I live, says the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of wicked people. I only want them to turn from their wicked ways so they can live. Turn! Turn from your wickedness, O people of Israel! Why should you die?”
Hebrews 12:10,11; “For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.”
The principal of discipline is all through the bible, Old Testament and New. God’s warns the believers not to be hypocritical in judgments and warns about harshness that is born out of spiritual pride and arrogance, for those of us who are passing judgment will also be facing judgement ourselves one day. We are warned not to forget we are all sinners worthy of death and only by God’s grace is anyone saved. We must make judgments based in love, with restoration in mind and not condemnation.
In Matthew above, Jesus is warning the hypocrites and the church against spiritual pride, not of abstaining from judgment altogether. He was speaking to lay people and Jewish leaders and remember, the religious leaders he called hypocrites and vipers. They are also the ones who judged Jesus wrongly and put him to death. The clear teaching of the bible is that there are consequences for sin and wrong behavior. Ignoring sin by not judging the actions of ourselves and others leads to consequences.
1 Corinthians 11:27-32; “So anyone who eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord unworthily is guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. That is why you should examine yourself before eating the bread and drinking the cup. For if you eat the bread or drink the cup without honoring the body of Christ, you are eating and drinking God’s judgment upon yourself. That is why many of you are weak and sick and some have even died. But if we would examine ourselves, we would not be judged by God in this way. Yet when we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned along with the world.”
- NOTE: The books of Romans, 1st and 2nd Corinthians and others, are accepted almost universally accepted by skeptical New Testament scholars as authentic and written by the Apostle Paul. (The Blackwell Companion to The New Testament by David E. Aune ISBN 1405108258 page 9)
According to Paul, there are clear consequences to our actions. Paul’s sober warning suggests that some who call themselves believers have physically died, due to their apparent disregard to God’s commands. Does that happen today? I don’t know, but I do not suggest we see how close to that line we can get. In Jesus day, when establishing his authority and the church, judgments were sobering in many cases. Ananias and Sapphira were two believers who lied to the Apostles and to God, then dropped dead in their tracks.
Acts 5:9, 10;“And Peter said, “How could the two of you even think of conspiring to test the Spirit of the Lord like this? The young men who buried your husband are just outside the door, and they will carry you out, too.” Instantly, she fell to the floor and died.”
God Has Not Changed His View On Sin
Has God changed? Has he relaxed his morality? Does he understand that today we are more progressive and accepting of people? Surly we can adjust the word of God to be more compatible with today society.
Matthew 24:35; “Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear.” – Jesus
Psalms 33:11; “But the LORD’s plans stand firm forever; his intentions can never be shaken.”
Isaiah 40:8; “The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever.”
Hebrews 13:8,9; “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. So do not be attracted by strange, new ideas.”
James 1:14-18; “Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death. So don’t be misled, my dear brothers and sisters. Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. He chose to give birth to us by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his prized possession.”
To believe that we are so enlightened today that the bible has become irrelevant, or needs to be better interpreted to fit a modern society, is to disregard James warning about our own desires leading us astray. We want to rule ourselves and decide for ourselves what is right and wrong. It has been that way since the garden of Eden when Eve was tempted to disobey God for the prize of knowing good and evil for herself. Ever since we have been looking for people who will tell us what we want to hear, not what we need to hear.
2 Timothy 4:3,4; “For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths.”
No one likes to think what they are doing is sinful, or that we have a propensity to sin. We tend to react in one of two ways. We diminish the severity of our own sin by changing the bible to be more inline with our wisdom, or we repent and accept God is God and we are not.
In our attempt to be all inclusive, all accepting, politically correct and progressive, we begin to wrestle with scripture, twisting it, messaging it to fit our own sense of justice and fairness. In doing so, we ignore God, even judge God himself as we debate who he says he is and who he says we are.
Proverbs 3:5-7; “Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the LORD and turn away from evil.”
The human condition has not changed. The will of God has not changed. The world of God has not changed. The bible is our compass through the storms of human emotion and a changing moral majority. The bible is our anchor when everything around us is shifting. We cannot trust our hearts as they are affected so easily by emotion and by our enemy. We must trust in the one who created us, who knows us, who loves us, each of us, beyond understanding.
2 Timothy 3:16; “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,”
Jeremiah 17:9,10; “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? But I, the LORD, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.”
Homosexuality in the Church
No where is there more debate today than on the subject of homosexuality in the church. It can be a hurtful and painful process to address as pride and prejudice so often take over the conversation, but an upcoming blog will look at scripture and try to separate the human prejudice from the word of God.
- Williams, Roman Homosexuality, p. 280.
- The Catholic Church needs to modernize to catch up with a new generation; sundial.csun.ed