If I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times: “Why are we so much more critical of homosexuality than other sins in the Bible, like gluttony? Don’t be a hypocrite and don’t judge when you are a sinner, too!”
I used to hear that and think, “Yeah, that makes sense. Splinter, log; pot, kettle: I got ya. I’ll be quiet now.”
But then I did some more thinking, and you know what, there are some pretty MAJOR flaws with that argument. And this argument is getting a new outfit, at least in my Facebook feed, in light of Gordon College President D. Michael Lindsay signing a letter asking President Obama to include a religious exception in his expected Executive Order preventing employment discrimination based on sexual orientation.
First of all, what you’re talking about is not hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is “the behavior of people who do things that they tell other people not to do : behavior that does not agree with what someone claims to believe or feel.” Like saying, “Don’t drink and drive,” then chugging some vodka and starting the engine. (Do people chug vodka? I don’t even know.) It would be hypocrisy to say, “Acts of homosexuality are a sin; don’t do that,” and then committing acts of homosexuality and being totally cool with it.
What you’re talking about is having standards, declaring what you think is right and wrong. Talking.
Also, there is a difference between hypocrisy and inconsistency. I stopped boycotting Ellen because I could not boycott her show because of her sexual behavior without also boycotting 30 Rock, when Tracy Morgan had a baby with his girlfriend before they were married, or any other person on any show because of their sexual behaviors. And those shows are both funny. It would be inconsistent to refuse to watch one for that reason and no other show.
Second, we do talk about other sins. Definitely not as much as we should, but I can distinctly recall having good conversations about coveting, lust, adultery, and pride. Granted, no one is voting on whether to outlaw coveting your neighbor’s donkey in the next election, and but the less politically relevant topics are getting some airtime. And often, the church avoids talking about sexuality at all because it’s not super good at having that conversation.
Third, we talk about homosexuality so much because it’s the hottest issue out there right now. At one time, it might have been skirts v. pants, racial integration, or lowering the drinking age, but today, and in this decade, it’s homosexuality and birth control that are stealing the spotlight. States are changing their laws, judges are handing down decisions, news crews are photographing same-sex marriages, Disney Channel shows are being boycotted, and Facebook profile pictures are changing to red equal-signs.
THIS is the issue of our time. THIS is the one that is changing, dramatically. Rainbows are popping up everywhere, and people are making up their minds: either subtly, with a vote, or loud, by leaving jobs. Homosexuals are well on their way to becoming a legally protected class (which is hugely significant). Gay is in. That is why we are talking about it so much.
And finally, this argument is essentially like saying, “You threw out the bathwater, might as well throw out the baby, too.” It’s saying that because we all make mistakes, we can’t point out mistakes made by others.
This is absolutely ridiculous. Can you imagine if an editor saw her typo in a story that she let get published, and – to avoid being judgmental – she let another writer’s story go to print with the picture upside-down? No. Just because you make a mistake doesn’t mean you lose all right to point out any mistake made by someone else.
Big point here, don’t miss it: WITH GRACE. The Bible says to “speak the truth in love,” under Christ, and let’s not forget about that. The truth is, homosexuality is a really big hot-button issue right now. But we also do need to remember to be loving, consistent, and full of grace. But that doesn’t mean we can’t participate in this on-going, growing national debate over homosexuality (which, by the way, is going to go down in the history books as a BIG ONE). And that doesn’t mean we can be hateful or disrespectful towards people with different ideas from our own, and that doesn’t mean we need to accept and encourage behaviors that we think are immoral. (Ever heard of “Love the sinner, hate the sin”? This is just an expanded version of that.)
[By the way, the issue of whether or not same-sex marriages should be legally banned in this country is really a question of legal standards of review and separation of powers for me, not the old separation of church and state thing. FYI.]