Monday, January 4, 2010

Church Statements on Homosexual Behavior

Many Christians are upset over endorsement of homosexual behavior in some Churches. Some of us argue that the problem is that endorsement is a positive judgment that goes beyond (violates) Jesus’ warning against judging, but I suspect it is often just a case of seeing specks in the eyes of neighbors while ignoring the logs in our own eyes. (Matthew 7:1-3)

In the summer of 2009 the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, for example, voted to allow ordination of practicing homosexuals in monogamous relationships and to allow the blessing of such unions. Some see that decision as indecisive since it does not endorse but allows endorsing. Whatever one’s positions on these issues, it is difficult to deny that many churches and church people have, with an unjustified attitude of self righteousness, brought focus and pressure on homosexual behavior, and sometimes even on homosexuality itself, while paying scant attention to explicit teachings of Jesus himself who said nothing at all about either.

For example, Jesus commands us to turn the other cheek, go the extra mile, follow His commandments, feed the hungry and give drink to the thirsty, eat His Body and Blood, follow the two greatest commandments (love God and neighbor), follow the Great Commission (go, make disciples, baptize, and teach), be last of all and be a servant to all. He tells us not to cast stones unless we are without sin, to avoid anger and swearing and to trust in our Heavenly Father and not worry about tomorrow. He teaches us to avoid adultery and lust and divorce and greed. He even tells us we have to die to ourselves and give up everything to follow him and that it is not going to be easy.

Well, when is the last time the Church came down hard on somebody for being greedy or selfish or for getting caught up in adultery or for failing to show up for Holy Communion or for never telling anyone about Jesus or for criticizing and judging others or for not dying to themselves and giving up everything for Jesus.

In Matthew, Jesus tells us that we are made unclean by evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, and slander but doesn’t seem to say that any one of these is any worse than the others and says nothing specifically about homosexual behavior.

And it’s not just Jesus. We find in Leviticus that anyone who curses his mother or father or commits adultery is to be put to death, exactly the same punishment some like to point out was prescribed for two men who lie together. Exodus 35:2 tells us that anybody who does any work on the Sabbath must be put to death! In the past century or so the Church has not been too tough on cursing of parents, working on the Sabbath, or even committing adultery. In spite of the fact that we don’t normally take these prohibitions in Leviticus very seriously, parts of the church have tended to get very stirred up and begin quoting Leviticus in cases involving two men found lying together.

In the first chapter of Romans, St. Paul gives a little overview of human history with a pretty impressive list of sins including failure to glorify God and give thanks to him, sexual impurity, worship of created things rather than the Creator, shameful homosexual lusts, wickedness, evil, greed, depravity, envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice, gossip, slander, insolence, arrogance, boastfulness, disobedience of parents, faithlessness, heartlessness, and ruthlessness. Why do we read this and just see the phrase, “shameful homosexual lusts?” Paul didn’t rank these sins but wrote that everybody knows that all who do such things deserve death but they just keep on doing them and approving of others doing them. Has anything changed?

So, to those of us who would rather not see the churches adopting more liberal stances on homosexual behavior, or anything else for that matter, because we think the job of the Church is forgiveness more than granting of permission, it shouldn’t be difficult to see why homosexual Christians might feel justified in saying, “Hey, we know you think we are wrong, but how about cutting us a little slack. You’ve been cutting yourselves and everybody else but us plenty of slack for centuries.”

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