In an event designed to celebrate sexual anarchy the dean of the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. sought to shame traditional Christians by alleging that the upholding of natural marriage and sexual relations confined to monogamous heterosexual unions is “sin.”
In a remarkably clear exchange of the revealed Truth for lies, Gary Hall called what the Bible defines as good, evil, and evil he deems good.
The Religion New Service summary of the story says:
“The dean of the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., claimed during his weekly address this past Sunday that it is a sin to oppose homosexuality, the Christian News Network reports. The message was part of a weekend tribute to the homosexual youth at the National Cathedral, and a commemoration of the death of Matthew Shepard, whose slaying sparked the passage of the federal “hate crimes” bill signed into law by Barack Obama in 2009. During his speech, Gary Hall blamed churches across the country for influencing American beliefs about homosexuality. “We must now have the courage to take the final step and call homophobia and heterosexism what they are,” he said. “They are sin. Homophobia is a sin. Heterosexism is a sin. Shaming people for whom they love is a sin. Only when all our churches say that clearly and boldly and courageously will our LGBT youth be free to grow up in a culture that totally embraces them fully as they are.”
Hall’s statement begs two questions:
1. Who exactly is in a position to define sin?
2. Is the calling of the church to cultivate a culture that embraces people “fully as they are”?
Let’s take the two questions in order.
Who is in a position to define sin?
Luke tells us in chapter 5 of his gospel that “one day Jesus was teaching, and Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there. They had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick. Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus. When Jesus saw their faith, he said, ‘Friend, your sins are forgiven.’
“The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, ‘Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?’
“Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, ‘Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.’ So he said to the paralyzed man, ‘I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.’ Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God.They were filled with awe and said, We have seen remarkable things today.'”
So, according to Jesus, the one with the power to forgive sin is God – and God alone. It would seem consistent to say that the one with the power to forgive sin also retains the authority to define it. That should lead us to ask “how does God define sin?” This would lead us to an examination of the Bible, God’s authoritative self-revelation. The Bible is abundantly clear on the subject of the acceptable boundaries of sexual expression – and that which lies outside those bounds. That which is out of bounds or off the mark is “sin.”
Our culture wants to believe otherwise and she has found within the church those who are willing to redefine the terms and reinterpret the primary texts to conform the desires of this generation. This is not a surprise. (To be more fully equipped to recognize false teaching, study the pastoral epistles.)
What is the calling of the Church in relationship to culture?
The Christ and Culture debate – and therefore the Church and Culture debate – is the conversation of real life. Again we turn not to the culture but to God for the answer.
The Bible speaks clearly to the subject of God’s people living in the world but not being of the world. Christ’s followers are called to bear witness to the culture not to be conformed to it. Transformed from one degree of grace to another more into the holiness manifested by Christ, the disciples of Christ in the world are called to be salt and light and leaven – not dough.
What Gary Hall is advocating is that the church conform itself to the desires of the youth culture of our day. Think about that for just a moment. Consider the outcome of the Church conforming itself to the desires of today’s youth. Seriously?
Hall and others like him need to be urged, in view of God’s mercy poured out in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ for sin as God sees it: “do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Thinking that simply embraces the sexual proclivities and sinful desires of the youth culture of its day is futile thinking by any definition.
Now, to be abundantly clear, no authentic Christian, let me repeat, no authentic Christian favors, promotes, participates in nor accepts the degradation, humiliation, mistreatment nor abuse of ANYONE. Period. That is the classical definition of tolerance: all people are equal because they are people, created in the image of God. All are equally fallen, born into sin and all are sinners in need of redemption. There is no partiality. There is no one who was “born” right nor righteous – save for Jesus.
Who is in a position to define sin? Only He who also stands alone in position to forgive it.