Below is the fifth post from Pastor Bob in an ongoing blog series designed to help Christians think through the issue of homosexuality in a careful and Biblical way. For more on the reason for this series, click here.
Question 5: Isn’t it hypocritical for Christians to object to homosexuality while they actively engage in their own sexual sins?
Yes. Those in the LGBT community are right to point out the inconsistency they see in the lives of professed Christians who get divorced for no other reason than that they “aren’t happy” anymore; who choose to live together before getting married; who freely and without compunction view pornography on the Internet. Christians often complain that homosexuality is a threat to traditional marriage without acknowledging that heterosexual sins are also a threat to traditional marriage.
Let me first point out that many Christians do actually live sexually pure lives before marriage and do remain happily faithful to their spouses during marriage. There is this idea that it is naive to expect that anyone can actually maintain a level of sexual purity in his/her life, but by the power of God’s Spirit and through close connection in Christian community, it is possible. It’s not easy, but it happens, and I know it happens, because I’ve seen it happen in the church where I am pastor.
And yet it is also true that many professed Christians have lost credibility in speaking to questions of sexuality because of their lack of concern for sexual purity in their own lives. Peter commands Christians to “keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.” (1 Peter 2:12). Peter’s point is that even though unbelievers will try to accuse Christians of hypocrisy and bigotry and hatred, those accusations will fall flat if Christians are living godly and upright lives before the world.
At the same time, the fact that some Christians might be hypocritical in this instance does not change what the Bible says about the sinfulness of homosexual activity. The behavior of Christians has no direct bearing on the content of the Bible, nor does a person’s hypocrisy in one area somehow grant freedom for others to sin in another area.
Christian hypocrisy is appalling and regrettable, but it does not grant some kind of pass for others to throw off all moral restraint. Instead, the church should call upon those professing the name of Christ to repent of both their homosexual and heterosexual sins. Sadly, it is the truth that some heterosexual sins have slowly become socially acceptable in the church, but Paul’s command in 1 Thess. 4:3 is clear and comprehensive both to heterosexuals and to those who struggle with same-sex attraction – “Abstain from sexual immorality.”
There is great opportunity here for Christians to make a powerful impact on our culture through something quite ordinary: sexual purity before marriage, and humble, sacrificial, loving service in marriage. If Christians truly want to change the culture, we should resort more to repentance than to complaining, politics or legislation. Author T.M. Moore puts it like this:
Our concern must be to discover, not how we may relieve the pressure against or upon us from outside sources, but where we have strayed from the Lord’s agenda and purpose. The way out of distress is not, in the first instance, via political change, but by repentance, leading to revival and renewal. We will spend our energies and resources in vain if we think we can bypass repentance in order to secure what we consider to be our rights or freedoms or blessings.”