A Response to Bishop Sano’s ‘Call to Biblical Obedience’– Part Two

Another specious presupposition that we often here mentioned in discussions of the issue of gay marriage or gay sexual behavior is the notion that this issue is on the same ethical footing as racial prejudice. It certainly is not. There can be no analogy between prejudice against a person because of their ethnic origins (e.g. anti-Semitism) or their skin color (various sorts of racism), and a criticism of the sexual behavior of the gay and lesbian community. The former has to do with some inherent traits of being, the latter has to do with behavior.

Obviously, God loves us all, but what he does not love is sinful behavior by any of us, and neither should we endorse or encourage such behavior. Such behavior simply alienates us from God, which is precisely why God is not pleased with it. And I might add, Jesus is an equal opportunity critiquer of sexual sin by heterosexuals, as well as by others (see the next post). The fact that we should not single out ‘gay’ sin for some sort of special condemnation is a good and proper insight. All sin however, committed by whomever should be called to account.

We are obviously called to love the sinner but not their sin, whether in this case we are talking about heterosexual or homosexual sinful sexual behavior. The almost total inability to understand the difference between a critique of someone’s behavior and a personal or ad hominem attack on someone’s very being, has led to all sorts of faulty logic.

The most basic response to such bad logic is that we are not simply what we do. We are all beings of sacred worth created in the image of God, and loved by God, but we are also all fallen human beings in need of redemption by God. Who we are is one thing, what we do is another. A critique of same sex sexual activity and same sex marriage is a critique of behavior. It is not a justice issue, as racism is. It is a sexual ethics issue. There is a big difference between mere prejudice and having moral principles about sexual behavior.

Sometimes in this context we also hear Jesus himself quoted “judge not lest ye be judged”. Of course this is the same Jesus who made also sorts of moral critiques of sexual misbehavior, spiritual elitism, hypocrisy, and a host of other sins. What Jesus did not mean by ‘judge not’ is “you ought never to correct a brother or sister, since of course you too are a sinner”.

In context, what he says is that one must first and foremost attend to one’s own sins, one’s own blind spots. Of course this is true. We must be far more self-critical than critical of others. But the exhortations in Scripture about warning others against sin and caring enough to confront such sin are too numerous to ignore. The alternative to hypocritically castigating others while ignoring one’s one sins and blind spots is not silence in the face of sin, but a life of integrity, calling one’s self, as well as one’s fellow believers to live more holy lives, lives that please God, whether or not they please other human beings or not.

We would do well to remember that the ethic of Jesus is a community ethic, and it expects the community to uphold the ethic collectively, together, calling one another to account. Sexual behavior is not a private matter, though it is a deeply personal matter. Since most sexual behavior is inter-personal in nature obviously the community of faith has a right to have standards in place since what one person does affects especially the immediate faith community of which that person is a part. See for example the way Paul deals with the matter in 1 Cor. 6.15-18.

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