First, this missive is not intended to minimize or mitigate any sin. For example, anyone who would take the position that I am soft on gossips can simply read Proverb 18:21 – Death And Life Are In The Power Of The Tongue! (A perusal of my archives would also reveal my attitudes towards corporate greed, war, patriotism, hatred of the poor, and other frequent stumblingblocks of modern political conservatives, many of whom are also religious conservatives.) Second, this is also not intended to defend or support those who actually do hate homosexuals and use the Bible to justify it, or those who have flawed, un-Biblical doctrines on this matter. But let it be known: the popular idea that “all sins are equal” is wrong. That such an erroneous belief has wedded itself into conservative (i.e. evangelical and fundamental) Christianity, even amongst experienced pastors and learned theologians is shocking. The truth is that one only needs to be familiar with the Westminster Larger Catechism! (These specific questions and answers appear in part 2.)
Question 150: Are all transgressions of the law of God equally heinous in themselves, and in the sight of God?
Answer: All transgressions of the law of God are not equally heinous; but some sins in themselves, and by reason of several aggravations, are more heinous in the sight of God than others.
Now two things. First, this historic Christian document does not deny that all sin, whether small or great, merits the same reward, which is an eternity in the lake of fire.
Question 152: What does every sin deserve at the hands of God?
Answer: Every sin, even the least, being against the sovereignty, goodness, and holiness of God, and against his righteous law, deserves his wrath and curse, both in this life, and that which is to come; and cannot be expiated but by the blood of Christ.
Second, and more important, the Westminster Catechism’s position that all sins are not equal is not the doctrines of man, but is the doctrine of Jesus Christ! The chief proof text used for this catechism point: John 19:11. “Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above: therefore he that delivered me unto thee hath the greater sin.” Now this does not merely mean “has committed” the greater sin, but the Greek word translated “hath”, echo, means “own”, or “possess” or “be closely joined to” or in a sense “to be.” So, not only is it possible to commit a greater sin, but to own it, possess it, to be joined to it, or to be defined by it, to be called by its name! And lest we be accused of taking this verse out of context, other proof texts are supplied, see Ezekiel 8:6, 13, 15; 1 John 5:16 (the sin unto death), and Psalm 78:17, 32, 56. To this Confession’s list can be added Matthew 12:31 and Mark 3:29, again the words of Jesus Christ that refer to blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. So, obviously, the crimes of betraying Jesus Christ (Judas Iscariot) and of attributing His miracles to the power of Satan (certain of His accusers) and of sending Him to be killed (the Sanhedrin) were worse than shoplifting. Rest assured, the fact that so many Christians adhere to this false belief shows how frightening indeed it is that more people are getting their theology from VeggieTales than catechisms! (Not singling out VeggieTales – at least not right now despite their advocacy of religious pluralism in their Jonah movie, and allegorically depicting Satan as Jesus Christ’s brother in their other movie – or being slavish to catechisms as using it to illustrate the point that so many Christians now rely on “pop Christianity” rather than a serious examination of the faith.)
So, since the idea that it is Christians with the double standard since “all sins are equal” is the one that is demonstrably false because clearly all sins are not equal, there is the REAL double standard, which is how gay rights advocates elevate their esteem of homosexuals above other sinners! An excellent example of this is the column by Southern Baptist pastor (?!?!) Jonathan Merritt in USA Today called Love the Sinner. Now while some Christians – though not nearly so many as claimed – are indeed guilty of a Biblically unbalanced treatment of the homosexuality issue, that does not compare to the far greater percentage of gay rights advocates who extol, glorify and exalt homosexuals as Merritt does in that article! Now again, if “all sins are equal” then where are the people commanding us to love adulterers? After all, it is the same general area – sexual immorality – right? Why all the love for homosexuals and none for the heterosexual adulterers?
But let’s not stop there. Since we are loving homosexuals, what about similar demands that we show love to those into bestiality? All sins are equal, right, so why not? Or what about statutory rapists (presuming that the underage party is consensual)? Why withhold the love from them? And to get away from the sexual sin issue, how about love for the robber barons, the greedy corporate profiteers who run oil companies, tobacco companies, and make weapons for the military? The unethical bankers that destroyed the economy in the 1920s, the 1980s and caused this current recession, or the chemical companies that are destroying the environment? Any sacrificial love for them?
Further still, if the rationale is “all sins are equal”, what about child molesters? Rapists? Thieves? Murderers? Terrorists? White supremacists? War criminals? And so on. No lovers for people like that? Why not? This is why: it is because they don’t believe that homosexuality is sin. In this I am not merely speaking of Merritt, who in his column rejects the idea that homosexual behavior is a choice, and also makes the “as sin is missing the mark, we are all sinners, so instead of rejecting those who choose not to obey Jesus Christ, let us show love to all sinners as Jesus Christ did” bad theology (incidentally, the Jesus Christ that Jonathan Merritt presents IS NOT the one who frequently rebuked and castigated people, including at one point telling an entire crowd that they were the children of Satan!) but a widespread attitude that it is only really a sin if “it hurts somebody” (i.e. theft, rape or murder) or if “society” says that it is wrong (i.e. bestiality). If it is a crime against a person it is horrible. If it is a crime against society, it is terrible. But if it is a crime against God, well then “we are all sinners!”
In this view – and how increasingly common is this view in even evangelical and fundamental Christianity! – what matters is the harm or offense done to man, not a holy righteous God. Man-centered theology! And if the center, the emphasis, is on the creature instead of the Creator, what is the justification for withholding something from man, so long as that “something” doesn’t hurt anybody else and does not vex contemporary mores, whatever they might be? In that context, it is a greater sin to begrudging a homosexual’s desire to experience pleasure than it is for the homosexual to indulge in said pleasure because the former is against man, and the latter is “only” against God. Moreover, it is all about our “feelings.” We “feel” more love for the homosexual than we do for the military-industrial complex CEO or for the neo-Nazi skinhead (or even for the Christian who actually takes the Bible seriously!) so that is what counts!
It is entirely consistent with the worldview that man is the measure of all things. All one has to do to reconcile the humanist worldview with a superficial (and false) reading of the Bible is to come to the conclusion that “all sins are equal before God”, which allows you to define the sins that are “really bad” based on your feelings. It makes you the judge of men (for these folks have no problem judging Christians who have a Biblical view of homosexuality as hateful bigots!) as opposed to God and the Bible that God inspired. But though it is inconsistent, it is still a double-standard.
Please realize that God knows no double standard in His judgment, but relies on a consistent standard, see Acts 10:34. It is equally true that no man was ever able to meet God standard but Jesus Christ, who met it by virtue of being fully God in addition to fully man. Therefore, only those who believe in Jesus Christ and have faith in what He did to them will be considered to have met God’s standard, and this will be by the righteousness of Jesus Christ being freely given to those who believe in Him. However, faith in Jesus Christ is not on our terms, for that is not true faith. Instead, God is God, the sovereign King and ruler, so we must meet His terms! So, no superficial declarations of faith with agendas or strings attached will do. Instead, God only accepts those who truly repent of – meaning turn from our renounce – their sins and believe that His Son paid for and defeated those sins with His death on the cross and His resurrection. So, do not live according to a double standard, no matter the sin or the issue. Instead, have Jesus Christ meet God’s standard on your behalf, and so so immediately!