While many people’s attention has rightfully been directed towards the latest brouhaha dealing with the Hallmark Channel controversy (*see below), I believe for the most part that is, at best, low hanging fruit. The issue of homosexual rights and its proper place within polite society are, of course, vitally important issues that confront us today. But I would submit it should NOT be the focus of Evangelical time and energy concerning sexual ethics.
I would submit for Evangelicals seeking to be God’s solvent of moral example on the Earth the issue of homosexuality should always and everywhere be low hanging fruit. I remember agreeing energetically with a featured speaker on the Renewing Your Mind podcast (Evangelical podcast founded by the late Dr. R.C. Sproul) lamenting how Evangelicals could surely be guaranteed to fill a large stadium for a rally against homosexuality but would garner nary as much enthusiastic support for a similar crusade about heterosexual sins.
I would submit Evangelicals are guilty of picking and choosing what sins we abhor and disdain. Our primary adversary to sin should be vehement opposition against our own individual sin. The Bible teaches I am to hate my personal sin. Evangelicals are called to abhor sin of all kinds. Evangelicals recognize all sins are a direct affront against a Holy God who eyes are so pure He cannot even for a moment look upon sin of any shape form or fashion. Yet, if our abhorrence of sin is true and genuine then Evangelicals will quickly realize the greatest offender in all of human history that we know is none other than oneself. Lest, you think I am employing hyperbole let me assure I am speaking in most wholly literal terms. I join with the Apostle Paul in explicitly starting, without any qualification, I am the chief of all sinners. Like my elder brother, Paul, I am not positing I am guilty of more sins numerically or qualitatively different than my neighbor. I reach this conclusion because I and I alone, humanly speaking, know the blackness of my inner soul on a level that leaves me in utter despair. I realize like the venerated OT prophet, Isaiah, my standard is never my fellow man, it is God Himself and my only respond is woe, woe and woe is me (Isaiah 6).
So, while it is easy to lament the lack of conviction from the Hallmark Channel Evangelicals should NEVER be caught expressing surprise of bewilderment as secular individuals and secular corporation do only what secular adherents know to do. The only institution the good Lord has promised to ensure would never be defeated is His Bride, the Church. The Hallmark Channel is an entertainment company dependent upon consumers viewing their programming. I admit my wife, like most of the Hallmark Channel’s targeted demographic, watches that channel regularly. I do not watch the channel much at all, with very, very few exceptions. At the risk of coming off as not being PC I view the Hallmark Channel much like the Lifetime Channel and the Lifetime Movie Channel. These channels are what many males would term as “chick” channels. I do not regard these channels as Christian channels or even as Christian-themed channels. While many would regard the programming on these types of channels as wholesome, they are relatively bland and do not set out to promote or advance a Judeo-Christian ethos and that is not a criticism of any sort from this author.
Consequently, I registered minimal emotive outrage when the Hallmark Channel controversy first arose about the two female “brides” kissing. For me, what is lamentable is as a society we now have to place words like brides in italics to illustrate we are using the word in a sense that is not normal or customary, but I digress. The first level of my concern for sin is my own individual transgressions. That is where I am going to spend most of my waking time reflecting upon and trying, enabled by God, to address with repentance and fruits worthy of repentance to demonstrate my change of mind.
Next, the proper Evangelical focus is to look inward to the collective church, both universally and locally, with a heavy, heavy emphasis on the local church. Informed Evangelicals understand that external matters are left to God, according to the Apostolic teaching: the Apostle Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 5, as an example. Thus, Evangelicals are to hate their own sins and then the sins of their brothers and sisters in Christ. Evangelical understand God will deal with the outsiders in the eschaton. Our only job in this dispensation is to call men and women to repent and turn to Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins before they perish in time and space.
As a consequence looking inward at the self is where Evangelicals are to spend most of their time but as God reveals in the first book of the Bible, I am also to be my brother’s keeper. As part of the New Testament’s revelation regarding the disposition of sin we are to bear our brother’s burden (Galatians 6). If we find our brother in some transgression, we are to go to him one-on-one and hopefully remedy the situation, ala, Matthew 18:15ff. Since homosexuality is inherently disordered as Paul indicates this conduct should not be even be named amongst the brethren (Ephesians 5:3). Yet, such is not the case with heterosexuality. Heterosexual sex is not inherently evil but there are cases in which Evangelicals can partake of the action and be guilty of transgression. This is why I advocate being against “homosexual” sin is low hanging fruit. One need not a seminary degree to come to that conclusion.
But ,what about our single brothers and sisters in Christ? Why does it seem they get a free pass regarding their sexual ethic? We are keen to be against adultery (as we should), but we seem to wink, wink at fornication within the body of Christ! My counsel to my own unmarried children is to get married as soon as possible? Why would I advocate such a marital philosophy? Because I wholeheartedly agree, of course, with Scripture when it says it is better to marry than to burn with passion (1 Corinthians 7:9).
I freely admit if my wife were to proceed me in death I would seek to get remarried as quick as possible ethically feasible. I would perform the requisite time of mourning (at least 90 days) and then seek to get married at the first available moment. While I did not understand it quite fully at the time, I now appreciate the mentality of one of my former pastors. Regrettably, he was forced to get a divorce, through no apparent fault of his own actions. He announced to the congregation shortly after the announcement of his impending divorce he would be seeking to get remarried as soon as possible because he understood God had not granted him the gift of celibacy.
I know some will immediately disagree with my approach and that is fine. I place this worldview in the category of “doubtful things.” God does not explicitly lay out a requisite time of mourning. The times of mourning for the decease in the Biblical record are never presented as didactic (teaching) commands, they are always presented as part of the historical narrative. Thus, they are descriptive and never prescriptive in nature. As a result, each believer has liberty to act according to his conscience as to the proper time of mourning of a deceased spouse.
Whether you agree or disagree with my understanding of a proper time of mourning let us return to my main issue: we need to be as diligent against heterosexual sin as we allege that we are against homosexual sin. While I do not necessarily disagree with the actions of the Million Moms organization, I believe we should expend equal amounts of time, energy and focus on all sexual sins. So, while we properly and righteously lament the acts of homosexual transgressions let us react with the same level of resolve and tenacity about heterosexual sins. If we can be moved with passion against two women kissing as part of a “wedding ceremony” let us be as diligent when our unmarried brothers and sister engage in acts which rise to the level of sexual transgression. The Bible groups all sexual sis under the term porneia.
So, in recap Evangelicals are to be against
- Personal Sin
- Internal Sin
I delight in God’s meticulous providence. As part of my Bible reading on Tuesday, December 17, 2019 my reading assignment included Ezra 9. That is the chapter that Ezra is informed of his countrymen’s sin of taking pagan wives and husbands when they returned to Israel after the dispersion.
“As soon as I heard this, I tore my garment and my cloak and pulled hair from my head and beard and sat appalled until the evening sacrifice. And at the evening sacrifice I rose from my fasting, with my garment and my fasting, and fell upon my knees and spread out my hands to the Lord my God, saying ‘O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift my face to you, my God, for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has mounted up to the heavens.
The careful Bible reader will note Ezra was not guilty of disobeying God by taking a foreign bride, but Ezra intentionally and strategically chose to identify himself with the offending community. He says, “our iniquities,” “our heads” and “our guilt.” Ezra would not have been vexed by his observance of his pagan neighbors performing pagan types of action. There should be no surprise there. That is the very reason Jehovah prohibited the children of Israel from intermarrying in the first place.
Ezra, like Evangelicals in this current time and dispensation, should keep the main thing the main thing. We are to ensure we labor to keep our spiritual affairs in order. As some of the believers would say when I was growing up as a young lad we need to “keep short accounts with God.”
Evangelicals would be far more effective and persuasion in their interaction with the culture if we were not so readily susceptible to the charge of hypocrisy and duplicity. I close with the reminder that we must first always look inward as we attempt to make moral assessments of our culture. That is where we must spend the majority of our time as it is still true for each and every genuine believer of Jesus Christ: we are the worst sinner we will EVER know in time and space. More evil, more morally despicable, yes, more sinful than Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin or whatever names come to our mind than we readily understand and acknowledge.
I abhor all sin, first and foremost being my own sin. I then abhor the sins of my brothers and sisters in Christ. I am commanded to stand ready to hold my brothers and sisters in Christ accountable when I observe them fall along the way as we will all do from time to time. I embrace I am my brother’s keeper in all of it profundity. I will trust God to separate the wheat from the tares and I will leave the judgment of those “outside” to the sovereignty of God who will one day real soon impeccably judge, both the quick and dead.
I do not necessarily begrudge those who choose to spend time boycotting people or organizations who do not express faith and fidelity to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. I just believe Evangelicals would be better served making sure the sin in our house is addressed first and foremost. This is clearly a matter left to the conscience to every believer. If you disagree let me know where you believe I fall short in my reasoning. I am always seeking to sharpen my ability to think the things after God. Until then keep your hands to the plow and seek to serve for an Audience of One.
* The Hallmark Channel first aired a commercial showing two female brides kissing. First pulling the ad when a Christian organization by the name of Million Mom protested to only quickly capitulate to the public outcry from homosexual advocacy groups and reintroduce the ads to their programming.