The decision of the Baptist General Convention of Texas Executive Board declaring three congregations “outside of harmonious cooperation” with the state convention because of their views on same-sex relationships has brought great attention on how Christians and churches minister to those who practice a lifestyle that goes against the very word of God.
Christians and churches rely on 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 to explain their stance against sin: “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”
This Scripture makes no distinction of the degree each of the listed behaviors is objectionable to God. It lumps alcoholism with fornication and homosexuality with covetousness.
If God did not bother separating one sin out from that list, why do we? Jesus himself never quoted concerning the topic of homosexual behavior. However, Jesus did give us a wonderful example of how we treat those who are living a lifestyle of any sin in John 8:11 when he spoke to the adulteress woman and said: “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.”
Although Jesus is the forgiver of sin, he also never looked away from sin or ignored sin. As a matter of fact, Jesus died because of our sins. When we as Christians or as a church condone a lifestyle of sin, we are ignoring the power of that sin. Sin is what separates us from our Lord. When we fail to recognize sin as sin, we give power to sin.
Jesus removed the power of sin in this woman’s life when he said: “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.” Therefore, whatever Jesus did, we are to do. Time and time again, we are shown how Jesus had compassion for sinners while making it clear that he expected them to live holy lives.
How can we expect to live holy lives if we fail to recognize sin as sin? How can we expect others to live holy lives if we as Christians and as the church fail to recognize sin as sin?
God’s word does not make sin hard to recognize or define for a reason, so that we would not succumb to its power. We as Christians and as a church should not make sin hard to recognize by condoning or ignoring sin. For when we do, we become slaves to sin.
Proverbs 5:22-23 says, “His own iniquities will capture the wicked, and he will be held with the cords of his sin. He will die for lack of instruction, and in the greatness of his folly, he will go astray.”
The church should be trying to free people from sin, not confuse them so that they become slaves to sin. Let the church with compassion give proper instruction on sin as Jesus gave in John 8:11: “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.”
To contact your Bivocational/Small Church Association, go to tx.bivo.com or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Richard Ray is executive director of the Texas Baptist Bivocational/Small Church Association and director of missions for Tri-Rivers Baptist Area.