Thursday, July 24, 2008

One Among Many

Reflections on Leviticus

I’ve been putting this off for some time because, though it may seem at times like I’m spoiling for a fight (and maybe it’s sometimes true), I really do like to avoid conflict – especially the truly personal, heartfelt conflicts that arise when this topic is discussed.

When you’re in Leviticus, eventually you’re going to have to bring up chapters 18 and 20. And they bring up the topic of homosexuality. So I’d like to discuss discussing homosexuality.

We do not want to stand for anything less than the truth, and the truth is that, unless you stand on your head and squint just right, the Bible clearly condemns homosexual conduct.

We also don’t want to cause unnecessary offense, and that is something Christians often manage to do on this topic. I think the key to properly discussing this issue is to do it like the Bible does.

Leviticus 18 lists homosexual relationships as one among many sins that got the Canaanites evicted from the Promised Land, and Leviticus 20 lists this as one of many crimes that warranted the death penalty – including adultery and incest.

In the New Testament, Romans 1 lists homosexuality as one of the symptoms of a decaying humanity along with idolatry and disobeying parents. 1 Corinthians 6 lists this sin as one that will keep you from inheriting the Kingdom – just like greed and drunkenness.

My point is that the Bible never treats homosexual relations as a special sin. It is one among many perversions to which humans may fall; it is one of the many things that offend God.

If the Bible doesn’t treat it as a special sin, neither should we.

Again, we shouldn’t shy away from identifying it as sin. But when we make too much out of it, we only push lost people away from the gospel.

Ray Comfort is known for advocating using the Law of Moses to help people see their sinfulness in evangelism, but even he advises against accusing an adulterer of adultery. “Picking on” someone’s favorite sin is only going to make him defensive and cause him to back away from you and your message. Everyone is guilty of greed and lust and lying and stealing – focus on the things he thinks he doesn’t do wrong, not the thing he knows about.

There is no homosexual in the US who doesn’t know Christians think his lifestyle is wrong. We don’t need to remind them of that. We need to help them see that they are just like us – fallen humans who sin a hundred times a day in ways we don’t even recognize, sinners who need a savior because we are filthy in every conceivable way.

If we want to reach people living a homosexual life for Christ, we have to learn to treat them just like average, ordinary sinners – just like us.

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