Have you ever heard people say that all sin is the same? That may be true in one sense. But according to a prominent theologian, when it comes to sexual sins, its not applicable. In this postmodernist-influenced church age, there is a sustained effort to minimize sin and its devastating effects. As we have argued before, if sin is minimized so will the need to repent. Repentance from sin is the FIRST message Jesus preached (Mark 1:14-15)! Indeed, the gospel message is summed up in the word repent. Jesus did not preach love first, but repentance. That’s because there can be no true love, without the precendent of true repentance. Love is a fruit of repentance and it cannot abide alone without the parameters of repentance. Jesus came because he loved us (John 3:16) and in loving us, he was mandated to tell us first to repent.
Yet, nowhere is the effort to eliminate the reality of sin more evident than it is within the gay christian movement. What follows may be shocking news to church pacifists who want to dumb down the consequences of sin.
Dr. Robert A. J. Gagnon, Ph.D., associate professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary says, “It is my contention that homosexual practice is a more serious violation of Scripture’s sexual norms than even incest, adultery, plural marriage, and divorce.”
Dr. Gagnon argues that in both the Old and New Testaments, there is indeed a superlative rejection of homosexuality in scripture.
In the Old Testament there is a clear ranking of sins. For instance, when one goes to Leviticus 20, which reorders the sexual offenses in Leviticus 18 according to penalty, the most severe offenses are grouped first, including same-sex intercourse. Of course, variegated penalties for different sins can be found throughout the legal material in the Old Testament. Jesus also prioritized offenses, referring to “weightier matters of the law.” For instance, healing a sick person on the Sabbath takes precedence over resting.
Paul’s attitude toward the case of incest in 1 Corinthians 5 also makes clear that he differentiated between various sexual offenses, with some being more extreme than others. This is clear both from the horror in his tone at the case of incest but, even more, from the fact that he has to arbitrate between competing values when he condemns the incest. If there were no ranking of priorities, how could Paul reject out of hand a case of incest that was monogamous and committed? If the values of monogamy and commitment to longevity were of equal weight with a requirement of a certain degree of familial otherness, Paul could not have decided what to do. Would commitment to a monogamous, lifelong union cancel out the prohibition of incest? Obviously, this was not a difficult matter for Paul to decide. He knew that the incest prohibition was more foundational.”
Dr. Gagnon’s cites three main reasons why he believes homosexuality is viewed in scripture as a greater sin in the sexual category.
1. It is the violation that most clearly and radically offends against God’s intentional creation of humans as “male and female” (Gen 1:27) and definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman (Gen 2:24).
2. Every text that treats the issue of homosexual practice in Scripture treats it as an offense of great abhorrence to God.
3.The male-female prerequisite is the foundational prerequisite for defining most other sexual norms.
Read the full text of Dr. Gagnon’ s research here.
Sin and consequences
Sin is one thing. The consequences of sin are entirely different matter. A consequence is something that logically, spiritually or naturally follows from an associated action or condition. In the context of our discussion, it is a natural action which is followed by a spiritual reaction.
In summary, not every sin has the same consequences. Some sins carry much more severe consequences than others. Some sins bring immediate consequences, while others have delayed consequences. 1 Timothy 5:24 tells us “Some men’s sins are open beforehand, going before to judgment; and some men they follow after.” Sexual sins have their own set of indigenous consequences, and then within the subset, homosexuality has its own set of consequences, particularly medical, social, emotional, and relational. While God promises deliverance from sin (if we repent) there is no simular promise that we will be delivered from all of the consequences of our sins.