“In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. God gave them over to a depraved mind to do what aught to be done… They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant, and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents.” Romans 1:27a, 28b-30
Imagine turning on the news to see the same old story of a celebrity death with the Westboro Baptist Church outside picketing the funeral. But as you look a little closer the signs read a little different. The reporter steps up to a man holding a brightly colored sign with flames across the bottom that reads “God Hates Gossips” and asks why he’s there protesting. Without hesitating he looks straight into the camera and says “This is God’s righteous judgment on a corrupt individual whose life was given over to sinfulness. God’s wrath on the United States through 9/11, killing our soldiers, and the death of this godless person are because of the depravity and sinfulness we see from our children disobeying their parents and people gossiping in church.”
How often do Christians put disobeying your parents in the same list of sins as homosexuality? But there it is plain as day in the first chapter of Romans, written by the greatest proponent of Christian faith. It’s followed in chapter 2 by Paul’s words about passing judgment. He says “at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself” (Rom. 2:1). If my vitriolic hate and disgust stop at homosexuality condemning all those who commit the sin to be cast out, how then will God share that same judgment on me for spreading rumors about the senior pastor?
It was a very disturbing thought this morning as I sat and began to read. Images flashed in my mind of those whom I know are no longer affiliated with my church because their lifestyle is condemned by many. Not just those who are under the recent rejection of homosexuality, but those before them who were rejected when divorce was unacceptable and before that when inter-racial marriages were frowned upon. Yet as I read through the list of sins, feeling convicted by the ones I know I’ve committed, my heart ached as I realizing the pain it would cause me by the irreconcilable rejection of my church family. And I realized how many people I would have to hate because of this list of sins.
It got worse, “God does not show favoritism’ (Rom 2:11). Romans 3:23 came next, “All have sinned”, and my world became very lonely. There is no one left I couldn’t’ excommunicate, including my own disobedient children. There is a sin committed by each one of us for which we have separated ourselves from God. Yet we choose to look at the list if Paul was ranking sinfulness from greatest to least. What would happen if Christians took the same approach to the entire list of sins in Romans as we did to homosexuality? How full would our pews be?
Think for one moment about the entire list Paul gives and how many of your church friends you would have to turn your back on if you treated each sin with the same disgust. How then would church be a happy community of believers? How then through our actions would we show the love and grace of Jesus and be able to share how He died to take away the burden of those sins?