Homosexuality: Illegal, Immoral, Un-Christian?
I have long been grieved over the warfare that has been waged in recent years over the matter of homosexuality. When both sides are wrong, very few will win anything worth winning. Let me explain.
It has long been recognized by the church that there are some things that are immoral that are nonetheless legal. There are some things that are non-Christian, that are neither immoral nor illegal. Confused?
Avarice, sloth, gluttony, lust, envy, pride, and anger, the “Seven Deadly Sins,” are all profoundly immoral, but they are not illegal. We do not criminalize the greedy and the gluttonous, otherwise most of us in this wealthy, overfed nation would be behind bars. In terms of specific human behaviour, we also recognize that adultery, fornication, cursing, lying, and gossiping are all immoral, but again, in this country, they are not illegal.
But going a step farther, if a person refuses to accept God as Trinity, or rejects the full humanity and divinity of Jesus Christ, or refuses to accept the Old and New Testaments as being, in some way, the Word of God, we declare that person is not a Christian, but that does not mean that person is immoral, indecent or criminal. (Shades of the Inquisition!)
So what does this have to do with the current debate over homosexuality? The overwhelming historical consensus of the Christian church has been that such behaviour is immoral and un-Christian. And the church has every the right to make such affirmations. But, the church has no right to try to move such behaviors into the criminal code. We have no right to use the powers of the state to further the Christianizing of our culture. The church should not even be interested in getting its “lifestyle codes” ratified by the judicial system. She has long been aware that for anyone to fulfill the Christian ethic, it would take the empowerment of the Spirit of God, not the enactment of new and stricter laws, to bring that about.
So when the church has functioned as the church (not trying to be the handmaiden of the state), she has declared to sinners of all sorts, that we would die for you, but we will not dominate you. We will serve you, but we will not rule you. We will counsel you, but we will not coerce you. We may not consider you right, but we will defend your freedom to be wrong. We will be risk takers and love you whether you ever change or not, and whether you ever love or respect us. We will treat you, as we wish to be treated, if the day ever came when it were to become illegal again to be a Christian.
Published in Light and Life, July-August, 2006