With the recent Supreme Court decision regarding same-sex marriage, many churches are seeking to respond in ways that clarify where they stand on the subject, and this often involves the drafting of new articles as an addendum to existing governing documents such as by-laws. It’s extremely important for local churches to specify their definition of marriage and to provide biblical boundaries in order to avoid catastrophic controversy. However, as we consider the drafting of articles that prevent a church from participating and recognizing same-sex unions as marriage, could it be true that the church has been inconsistent for years regarding sin? Are there more respectable or pet sins that we in the church are unwilling to deal with?
In Kevin DeYoung’s book dealing with the subject of homosexuality, he devotes an entire chapter to the charges of gluttony and divorce. Some homosexuals claim that the church is fat and divorce happy in America. Is this a far assessment? As we honestly evaluate the life of our local church and the evangelical church as a whole, it goes without saying that we have been guilty of overlooking specific sins. If you’ve visited other countries and shared meals with the natives, it’s abundantly clear that we in America love our food. We are surrounded by it. We have an abundance of it. In many ways, it can become an idol. Gluttony can be a real problem among the Christian population.
If we’re honest, the church didn’t fight nearly as hard against the no-fault divorce laws that have swept our nation as we did against the same-sex marriage ruling. There were not as many voices heard in the public square crying out against it. The opposition from the church toward divorce has little comparison to the opposition of the church toward same-sex marriage. In the wake of the no-fault divorce law, we have witnessed the church suffer from failed marriages at nearly the same rate as the unchurched population. Is this a fair charge? Has the church turned a blind eye to divorce while pointing out homosexuality?
The fact is, the church has in many ways been guilty of inconsistency. For the sake of purity in the church and the testimony of Christ in the culture, we must be consistent in dealing with sin. The bumper sticker that reads, “EQUALITY: All Sin Is Sin” is not telling the truth. All sin will send you to hell, but not all sin has the same weight. A pebble thrown into a pond on a cool fall morning will have a different wake than a 50 lb. boulder. The sin of overeating leads to poor health, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and perhaps premature death. It affects the culture, but in a different way than homosexuality. The sin of homosexuality affects the fabric of marriage, family dynamics, and the society as a whole. The results can be seen in other nations, but for America, we will have to wait on the years to pass and the statistics to accumulate.
As the church presses forward in a culture that celebrates sin, it’s vitally important to be consistent. As churches rewrite by-laws and prepare for the opposition of the homosexual community, it would be wise for the church to add an article related to church discipline and Matthew 18. It would be Christ exalting and biblically consistent for a church that has abandoned biblical church discipline to repent and start obeying Christ. Before a lost world will hear the church’s good news, we in the church must deal with adultery, pornography, pride, slander, strife, disunity, divorce, gluttony, and a host of other sins. If the church is fat on sin, the unbelieving world doesn’t care what we think about the sin of homosexuality. Consistency matters.
Kevin DeYoung ends chapter eight in his book, What Does The Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality?, with these words:
So yes, there are plank-eyed Christians among us. The evangelical church, in many places, gave up and caved in on divorce and remarriage. But the remedy to this negligence is not more negligence. The slow, painful cure is more biblical exposition, more active pastoral care, more consistent discipline, more Word-saturated counseling, and more prayer-for illegitimate divorce, for same-sex behavior, and for all the other sins that are more easily condoned than confronted.