DMINLGP

DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Love not hate…but what about sin?

Written by: on March 14, 2019

(Disclaimer: I am prepared for the fact that not everyone will agree with my take on this week’s reading. Furthermore, though I am sure all of us will be passionate about our reasons behind our views, I wrote boldly this week, knowing that if there was ever an avenue for scholarly sharing on a topic, I pray this is it. Please do not mistake my passionate views as aggressive or mean-spirited. Thank You.)

We have a long time running joke in my household; whenever it comes time to build something out of the box, my wife will offer me the instructions included with the project, and I simply respond… “I don’t need no stinking instructions.” I am sure is a quote from some movie I watched once, but could not tell you exactly which one. However, a few weeks ago, sitting in the middle of the flor was a new box…a large box; my confidence grew as my wife offered me the instructions, to which I replied; “I don’t need no stinking instructions.” Well, I don’t admit this very often, but I admitted it that day; “I was wrong…pass me the instructions.” Who would have known that they were going to start making a new kind of hardware I had never seen; or had such a maze of supporting patterns that could be so complicated and twisted. Had it been some simple gizmo, perhaps…maybe…but NO WAY was I going to figure that thing out. The fact was, not only did I need instructions, but even while following the instructions I did have, I still seemed to screw it up on more than one occasions.

Okay, so what does that story have to do with the reading we had this week? I guarantee it was not just so I could admit to being wrong; I truly hate when I have to do that. Instead, it is because of the topic of “Homosexuality, the Bible, and the Church;” furthermore, it is because the reason for my own personal dissertation regarding the Church and modern-day views of baptism. Oops, I gave it away! Did you catch it? I’ll say it again… “Modern-day views.” Why do you suppose we even have to use this phrase in the church today? Could it be that churches have come to the conclusion that God’s Word is not relevant or applicable today? One such excuse was provided in this reading; “A further path, which some are willing to tread than others, is to ask whether what the biblical writers believed and said about homosexual orientation and activity should itself be questioned as to its accuracy and sufficiency.” The question was provocative to say the least; however, it was the following statement that seemed to get my cackle up; “Such an approach is not new and has needed to be taken in relation to many issues on which biblical writers held beliefs and attitudes, which for good reason we no longer share[1].”  This type of thinking was obviously shared, at least to some extent, by Preston M. Sprinkle, the writer of the introduction, who wrote, “But it wasn’t until I got to know and love gay and lesbian people that I started to understand the ‘topic’ of homosexuality[2].” When this comment was placed in context, he emphasises that in spite of his study “dozens of books and hundreds of articles…insurmountable piles of research…biblical views of sexuality, church history, sexuality in ancient Mesopotamia…and Roman poetry,” none of this had the impact that modern-day interactions with people had had.

The question though; is this how we are intended to evaluate the bible? Is our understanding of the Word of God supposed to be infected and perverted by the preferences of modern-day desires and decisions? Yes…if you haven’t interpreted this yet, I am about as traditional, or bible-literal as it comes on a topic like homosexuality; and as my dissertation will express…baptism. I fear that the “church” as a whole are working to hard at pleasing self, pleasing the masses, and more intently…pleasing the flesh, than they are at pleasing God. The very verse that was mentioned numerous times in this text, Romans 1:26-27, seemed less intent on emphasizing the following verse, which reads,

 “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness…who, knowing such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.” (Romans 1:28-32)

This is not a mild text; nor is this some simple banter by Paul to soft-sell the message of righteousness; this is convicting speech set on reminding Christians how importance obedience to God’s will truly is. We see Christians that stand up against homosexuality accused of hate speech; but when do we consider that our acceptance of all things immoral is subject to hate speech against God. To preach against homosexuality is not hate; it is warning. There is the necessity to warn against the dangers of sin. The author seems to boasts as he writes, “Until recently, there was only one view of homosexuality within evangelicalism: the so-called non-affirming view[3].” To go on from there and continue the boasts that “there are a growing number of Bible-believing, gospel-preaching, card-carrying evangelicals who are either exploring the affirming view of who have embraced it and aren’t looking back,” does not show growth; it shows warning lights flashing violently. Why after 2000 years of the recognition that even the scholars in this book have recognized as God’s hate toward homosexuality, do we believe this is progress in the church today? We have had this warning before;

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers[4].”

That warning is what I believe a “Bible-believing, gospel-preaching” Christian should really be listening too. We are not here to condemn homosexuals, nor are we here to tell them that they are going to Hell for their actions; however, we are here to teach what is sin, so that as God’s faithful, we are doing our best to repent of those sins and as Paul wrote, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of the light.” The sinful temptations we all struggle with are not what defines us as Christians; but rather, our willingness to reject those things that may entangle us, thus seperating us from God.

 

Bibliography

Sprinkle, Preston & Stanley N. Gundry. Two Views on Homosexuality, the Bible, and the Church. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 2016.

 

 

[1] Sprinkle, Preston & Stanley N. Gundry. Two Views on Homosexuality, the Bible, and the Church. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 2016. Pg 21.

[2] Ibid, pg 9.

[3] Ibid, p. 11.

[4] 2 Timothy 4:3.

About the Author

Shawn Hart

12 responses to “Love not hate…but what about sin?”

  1. mm Jay Forseth says:

    Hi Shawn,

    Please tell me the name of your denomination again? I am sorry I cannot remember which it is…

    I got my “cackle up” for the same reasons you did with this week’s book. Honestly, I don’t know what cackle is, but I think mine is up, too.

    Once again, you returning to the Scripture is so good. Thank you for the reminders!

  2. mm Mike says:

    Shawn,
    That is quite a disclaimer my friend. We are your friends, we know you, and I believe we all know you well enough after 2 years that you might consider trusting us. Let’s see?
    Yep, you can trust me, I read your whole post, and you were predictably Biblically conservative. You were true to your spiritual self. PTL.
    I think the intent of this book in our LGP reading list is more about extending our Gospel reach than changing our viewpoints. When I was doing missions in Botswana the indigenous tribal leaders would always say that Zebra’s never change their stripes. The Zebra is their national animal, and it symbolizes their tribal context and collective style culture.
    I believe DMin grads need to know their beliefs and why and be comfortable holding them in tension against other belief systems. The value added for our global program is that we get to engage, debate, argue, and learn how to respect and love people with varied beliefs that still need Christ.
    Don’t change your stripes,

    Stand firm,
    Mike w

    • Shawn Hart says:

      Amen Mike. Though this program challenges me on many levels; I pray it is also growing me on many levels. This is one of those topics that can be difficult to debate or discuss, but I still believe that people should be treated with love and compassion if we hope to bring them to Christ. Though I have a belief regarding the issue, it is not based on prejudice or fear, but rather my interpretation of scripture and the need to teach against sin…no matter the sin. I do feel that this is a great atmosphere for us to share our opinions though; even on sensitive subjects as this one.

  3. I can completely understand where you’re coming from because I’ve been ‘there’, I worship ‘there’, and I have many friends and colleagues ‘there’. I currently attend a conservative Christian church with conservative Christian values. They read the Word of God literally and they apply the Word of God literally. There’s nothing wrong with these believers. I love them and count them amongst my most treasured friends. However, I’ve learned to see the scriptures from a different lens through my own personal research, experience, and personal perspective.

    One of my family members has shown signs of being gay since he was 3 years old. He grew up in a Christian family and grew up amongst family members who did not show similar signs There was nothing in this individual’s life that would cause him to be gay. He just was. My greatest prayer for him is that he would find a place of worship that sees him as being made in the image of God and gives him the chance to find Christian community just like everyone else.

    This week’s text reaches deeper than our opinions – it challenges us within our context. It dares us to ask the question, “How do we welcome people who are different than us?” We can debate all the clobber verse and find our strength in our interpretation, but it won’t stop us from being pressed with that question – “How do we welcome people who are different than us?” For the first time in years, seekers are flooding the doors of the church looking for community, looking for compassion and looking for Christ. How have you personally been able to find the balance? Do you invite your congregation to hold different views on this topic?

    • Shawn Hart says:

      I understand what you are saying Colleen, but I don’t believe the answer is as easy as that. Scripture actually gives warning about accepting a people who embrace sin. Christ even says in one of His “Mercy and not sacrifice,” speeches that “I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” (Matthew 9:13). It is the belief that we do not condone one’s sinful practice…regardless of what it is; instead we encourage them to turn from that sinful behavior. In this discussion, “welcoming” someone who is contend in staying in a sinful state is not okay.

  4. mm Jean Ollis says:

    Hi Shawn! I just typed an entire response and hit a random button and lost it all. So here I go again!
    I appreciate that you and I (perhaps me the most liberal and you the most conservative) can have ongoing dialogue through the past two years. And I would never miss an opportunity to take time to engage on this topic. I respect your conviction on homosexuality (even if we disagree) and have only one area to explore further. If you believe in educating someone on their sin, and preventing them from leadership etc., how do you provide the same sin education and block leadership on members who overeat, overspend (finances – extravagant house and clothes, etc.), talk about others, lust after others things. This is where I get frustrated with the isolation of this specific “sin” of homosexuality. We all sin, everyday, and we are still allowed in the church. And if the argument is that it’s not blatant, I believe it actually is.

    • Shawn Hart says:

      One more thing: I too enjoy the fact that we are able to challenge and provoke some thoughts outside of our usual box. I look forward to more of these talks with you in the future.

  5. Shawn Hart says:

    Jean, that is actually part of my point; I preach against all sin. We should not just consign ourselves to the satisfied state of being “in sin”. This is not about saying that someone is struggling with sin; this conversation is about us accepting someone, without teaching them the sinful nature of what they are doing, and accepting them in that sinful state; show me anywhere that this is done by Christ in Scripture. As for the leadership aspect; we eliminate people from being qualified as leaders when relevant. In the line of elders and deacons, we see guidelines, that was as a church, use in our decision making processes. As the case here, sometimes interpretations vary, but we try to cling to the biblical text on all occasions. If someone is known for gossip, grumbling all the time, lusting after other women than their wife, etc., they are generally passed over because of their shortcomings. We reviews 1 Timothy 3 every time a elder or deacon is being considered in our church.

  6. mm Dan Kreiss says:

    Shawn,

    In many respects I agree with you. We cannot simply change our views of scripture with every generation in order to make it fit with our current cultural perspective. Yet, at the same time we must acknowledge that Paul, John and the other New Testament writers were men of their own time and culture – they were absolutely impacted by what surrounded them and their interpretation of the OT through the lens of their contexts. I see the 1st century church wrestling with issues like circumcision, which for some was absolutely a ‘traditional’ interpretation and needed to be maintained. Other saw this, or the eating of ‘unclean’ foods as open to interpretation and something that needed to evolve. That evolution of christian tradition has been part of our faith experience from the beginning. It is what sets Christianity apart from Islam and other religions who cut off the heads of those with whom they disagree.

    I am not for a moment suggesting that a conservative perspective is incorrect or that a progressive one, which I am not sure I hold to myself on this issue, is better in some way. I am simply convinced that our understanding of God and the way to live out faith has been evolving from the beginning. There continues to be room in the faith for various interpretations on the eucharist, baptism, giving, spiritual disciplines etc. I hope that continues and that uniformly we all work toward opening hearts and minds to the love of God through Jesus.

    • Shawn Hart says:

      Amen Dan. I’m not admitting to have it all figured out; so in some areas, I am more cautious and careful than others. I do still hold that the bible is valid and relevant, and that somewhere within its pages we will find the answers; some may be strict; some maybe graceful; but all should be loving.

  7. mm Kyle Chalko says:

    Hi Shawn,
    Thanks for sharing your perspective.
    I was hoping to hear about any part of the affirming side that you thought was a good point. Also, where does this leave us for intersex?

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