I am like a lot of evangelicals in saying that I have very few questions about what the Bible teaches on the subject of sexuality. But I also have very few questions on the subject of how the Bible counsels me to view the sin of another person. In fact, I believe the Bible gives us a much unheeded admonition in this matter:Don’t be a busy-body. Mind your own business. Tend to your own concerns. Don’t be shocked at the world. Don’t so condemn the world that it doesn’t look like you aren’t a human being yourself. Follow Christ yourself first, and be less concerned about how someone else is not following him.
In Jesus’ encounters with sexual sinners (as opposed to religious and self-righteous ones) you have to be impressed with Jesus’ lack of interest in the sexual aspect of the situation. John 4 and John 8 would be the key texts, and Jesus is so matter of fact about the sexual sin involved that you can hardly imagine his words being different if the sin involved was shoplifting. (”You have five pair of Adidas, and the pair you’re wearing now were lifted….Go, and pilfer no more.”)
In other words, you can believe everything the Bible says on this subject, but the real question is how do you live next to, work with, serve and relate to the gay persons in your life?
So now I’m going to make someone really mad, but I don’t care: While you are allowed to have your convictions on the morality of human conduct, you are to keep your nose out of your neighbor’s business. What you neighbor is doing may be immoral, but it’s not your problem and it’s not your responsibility.
When I hear people say we have to “warn” sinners of what they are doing, I wonder if the person advocating that course would be OK with the BHT organizing a 24 hour a day posse to follow a subject around and hold up signs proclaiming “warnings” about their sin?
Well said. I’d add:
1. The NT texts that tell “us” to warn sinners are mostly Paul’s expositions to pastors of their pastoral responsibility over their sheep. There is no general obligation of Christians to generally warn those in the world about their sins. A pastor has responsibilites over the moral life of those in his church. As to those outside, Paul says, “God will judge.”
Too many Christians read the NT forgetting that it has in it texts that do not apply equally to every Christian. Laypeople, let me relieve you of many self-appropriated burdens: not everything in the Pastoral Epistles is meant for you!!!
2. We (the church) have nothing to do with their sins. Others’ sins are not our problem. If someone you knew took poison, and you had the antidote for all poisons in your hand, would you want to talk to them about what color the vial was and how much did they drink? Of course not! You wouldn’t care!
We relate to those outside the church as those who have good news to tell them — this is our ONLY biblical mandate for the world. The church has only the gospel, not the law. God still has the law, of course, and He enforces it non-coercively in the hearts of sinners via the convicting office of the Holy Spirit.
The church is not to moralize. She is to kerygmize. To the degree we talk to the world about, say, the Ten commandments, we are preaching to them a gospel of works. This should be most easy for Lutherans to understand.
The problem is that we really don’t believe that the grace of Christ sanctifies. If we did, we would hand out the antidote and be bored by discussions of the poison.
3. The sexual ethics of the bible are clear as a bell. Sex is for heterosexual marriage, and for no other setting, period. This is beyond argument for any honest reader of the text. That said, as Spencer points out, our obligation to love is not modified in any way, shape, or form by sin in the life of the sinner. After all, God loved us when we hated Him.
So not only do we not have the right or ability to fix sins — we don’t even have to be interested! Love is therefore a happy, free, sacred obligation. Think St. Francis, not Savanarola.