Monday, September 12, 2005


The forgotten sin

Although I'm as culturally conservative as many of my evangelical brethren, there are some times that I believe that the Religious Right has really missed the boat. As you're no doubt aware, there are a handful of "hot-button" issues that generate a lot of allegedly righteous indignation. Nowadays, one of the biggest issues has to do with homosexual rights. Although this is a very important issue, I fear that it has been so strongly emphasized by some that other issues of even greater importance have taken a back seat.

Please don't misunderstand me. I'm no social revisionist. Instead, I'm a Biblical literalist who accepts the Bible's teaching that homosexuality is sin and is in every situation a manifestation of the sin of fornication. But, I take issue with the prevailing view within the Religious Right that homosexuality is the most reprehensible form of fornication, which given the volume with which it's denounced it must be, and I would go so far as to say that if we are going to contend against our culture's love of sexual immorality, that there is an even worse form of fornication that we ought to denounce with even greater fervor.

As I see it, homosexuality as well as many of the various forms of hetrosexual promiscuity which occur outside the bounds of marriage are inherently hedonistic. Clearly, hedonism--the pursuit of selfish pleasure without heed to doing what is honoring and glorifying to God--is a grevious sin, but when neither of the parties involved in homosexual or hetrosexual hedonism are not involved in a covenant relationship, their sin is primarily harmful to two people. Such sin--indeed, all sin--is punishable by eternal damnation, but in this case only the consenting individuals are party to the sin. In other words, all parties involved are guilty and none are innocent.

Thus, we come to what I see as the more severe variety of sexual immorality. Although it is often winked at by our present wicked generation, it remains a sin that involves not only the consenting parties. It is the old-fashioned sin of adultery.

In my opinion, if there is a sexual sin the Church ought to cry out against the most loudly, it is adultery, for it involves not only rank hedonism but also the violation of a covenant relationship that one or more of the consenting parties had previously entered into before God and man: the covenant of marriage. Marriage is a most sacred covenant, for in it the husband and wife are to model the relationship of Christ with His church. It is so sacred a covenant that Christ recognized only one legitimate cause for dissolving that covenant: adultery. When a man and woman enter into an affair in which one or both of them are presently married, they have gone beyond rank hedonism: they have treated their existing covenant relationship(s) as a contemptible, unclean thing. They have called unclean what God calls clean.

Moreover, adultery is utter foolishness. If I were to enter into an affair with a married woman, I'd be the greatest of fools, because I would have deluded myself into thinking that a woman who was so willing to forsake her covenant husband would be faithful to me. Why, her very unfaithfulness ought to be enough to convince me that she is not a woman to be trusted! This is in itself sufficient reason to flee adultery.

As if this were not enough, there are all too often innocent parties who are severely harmed by the adulterous affair: the innocent spouses as well as the children. This is yet another evil that is found in adultery that's absent in pure sexual hedonism. Is it not understandable that a child whose parents divorced on account of the adultery of one or both parents would forever after have trouble believing in true sacrificial love? To such a child, "love" would very likely become the name for the lust that tore his mother and father apart.

These reasons why adultery is the wickedest of sexual sins are just the tip of the iceberg. Why is it, then, that the church is nearly silent about the subject compared to its vocal stand against homosexuality, abortion, and other sins? Countless professing Christian families and churches have been torn asunder by this evil, but yet it seems to not be worthy of any outcry.

Before I close, I feel that I ought to remind you that although the church ought to stand against the sin of its generation, it ought not do so only out of a desire to find fault. No, the church is to be a redemptive organization, with its goal being to provoke repentance. Adultery, homosexuality, and sexual promiscuity of all kinds are damnable sins worthy of loud condemnation from every Bible-preaching pulpit, but none of them are unforgivable. When the church speaks out against these sins--as it ought to do!--it must take care to remind our fallen generation that God has provided a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is well willing and able to forgive all manner of sin. When I am sick, my doctor needs to diagnose my disease in order to properly treat it. Likewise, this wicked generation is in need of godly rebuke in order that it might turn to Christ.

To the church, then, this is my call: be careful not to single out only certain sins for criticism, but be diligent to cry out against all manner of sin and ungodliness. As we do so, let's be careful to not forget about sins such as adultery, because they may be just as bad, if not worse, than the sins we preach against so loudly.

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