So it is sin to know the good and yet not do it. (James 4:17)
One of the most jarring feelings I’ve had as a believer is knowing a fellow Christian and hearing them say God is okay with something the Bible calls sin. Some years ago, back in college, controversy sprang up about the topic of marriage and homosexuality.
There were those advocating for same-sex couples to have the same marriage privileges as their heterosexual counterparts. Others stated that such a relationship couldn’t be called marriage because of the union’s biblical foundation. I didn’t have a strong opinion back then, but I had to ask myself the question – is homosexuality a sin?
Many Christians told me no, and that God, in fact, gave them their desires.
“Love is love,” I heard. And God is love (1 John 4:7-8). Thus, if I were to say anything different then I was judgmental, homophobic, even a bigot. I wanted to agree with them. I wanted to be wrong. But every time I read Scripture, homosexuality was regarded as a sin. Marriage was always mentioned between a man and a woman, and no prominent biblical character was homosexual.
“Why?” I wondered. But everybody else seemed to have had things figured out.
More recently, I had a talk with a certain family member and abortion came up in conversation. I didn’t assume her perspective, so I was not shocked to learn she supported abortion despite being a believer. She reasoned that what a woman does with her body is her choice and no man can tell her otherwise. Fair enough.
But what about what God says to do?
I cited Scripture, referring to the Ten Commandments. “Thou shall not murder,” I replied. To that, she didn’t have a reply, but she did not change her mind.
Many times, we as believers can read (or not read) the same text and come away with drastically different conclusions. I don’t fault Christians for having different interpretations. Read any book, and no two people will respond exactly the same.
Where I do fault believers is when they refuse to be teachable. There’s a reason Scripture says man is right in his own eyes (Proverbs 21:2). Yet just because we think we’re right doesn’t mean we aren’t sinning, and better yet, encouraging others to sin.
So, I pose a question: who decides sin? God or the world?
And more specifically, are these three mainstream things considered a sin?
We can decide that by reading Scripture.
Is Homosexuality a Sin?
One reason Christians have told me homosexuality is biblically sound is because of the “clam and menstrual blood” argument. Leviticus apparently says two things. Shellfish are a no-no and women are not allowed to attend church while menstruating (Leviticus 11:9-10, Leviticus 15:29-30).
In Leviticus, we also read Scripture about homosexuality.
If a man sleeps with a man as with a woman, they have both committed a detestable act. (Leviticus 20:13)
Thus, if we disregard the Old Testament Law (Pre-Jesus) regarding what we eat and otherwise, then the law regarding homosexuality is void too, right? Not quite. The reason being homosexuality appears in the New Testament in more than one place.
Don’t you know that the unrighteous will not inherit God’s kingdom? Do not be deceived: No sexually immoral people, idolaters, adulterers, or males who have sex with males. (1 Corinthians 6:9)
And regarding the shellfish, Jesus makes clear that what goes into the body does not defile us, but rather what goes out and with that declared all foods clean (Mark 7:15-19). And we get the subject of feminine cycles straightened out too (Romans 7:6).
For starters, the issue with the “clam and menstrual blood” argument is that one wrong doesn’t make another wrong right. Secondly, Scripture has given us direction on the topic. We’re free to disagree with the Bible but should not make false claims about God’s Word.
Is Abortion a Sin?
Do not murder. (Exodus 20:13)
Seems clear enough. Ironically, one man who committed murder, Moses, was given this commandment by the Lord (Exodus 2:12). There is an important distinction to make within this commandment.
Some may say that if there is to be no murder, then there can’t be any wars. The Bible has plenty of fighting. Some Bible translations replace murder with kill, but these words are not the same. The difference between murder and killing revolves around intent. We know this because of the sinful murder Moses committed, yet we do not consider David as sinning for slaying Goliath. God helped him do this.
C.S. Lewis writes in Mere Christianity, “‘Thou shalt not kill.’ There are two Greek words: the ordinary word to kill and the word to murder. And when Christ quotes the commandment, He uses the murder one in all three accounts, Mathew, Mark, and Luke. And I am told there is the same distinction in Hebrew. All killing is not murder any more than all sexual intercourse is adultery.”
Again, the intent is important, and we know how much God values children (Matthew 18:5-7).
This is the same perspective we can take with war. Sometimes violence is necessary, and the Bible has much of it. Abortion, however, is not a war and is too often carried out for convenience.
Regarding babies that are byproducts of incest or rape, the emotional sentiment for these victims is strong. However, as Christian and political pundit Matt Walsh states, the baby should not have to suffer or die because of an awful act someone committed. Instead, they can be a blessing that came out of a hardship.
Instead of abortion, Christians can always choose adoption. In this way, we show love to all of God’s children no matter how they came into the world.
Is Transgenderism a Sin?
So God created man in his own image; he created him in the image of God; he created them male and female. (Genesis 1:27)
The hot topic of today is whether or not men and women are the same or can be changed. Where natural inclinations fail, we can always revert back to Scripture. In the very first chapter of the very first book, God created two human beings, separate and distinct, yet similar in ways.
How society treats the issue of male and female identity is up to them, but as Christians, we can put our stake in the ground and make clear where we stand. We are not unsure of what constitutes a man and a woman because Scripture gives us pictures of both. We read about examples of both noteworthy men and women.
This conclusion does not mean that those who consider themselves members of the opposite sex should be put to shame; on the contrary, we can see such situations as an opportunity to share the gospel.
How Should We Respond to Sin?
Does sin matter? My sin? Your sin? If God forgives us, can’t we continue doing what we want?
Sin definitely matters, though sometimes we find ourselves doing wrong in order to fit with society. The desire to belong is very real for each of us. God didn’t want even Adam to be alone (Genesis 2:18). Encouraging and partaking in sin can sometimes ensure we are not alone; however, doing so separates us from God much like Adam and Eve being exiled from the garden.
We have to decide then if we want to live lives close to God or closer to the world. Surely there are pros and cons to both, but if we are to call ourselves Christians we have to be firm in our decision. And with that decision, choose to turn away from sin in order to reap God’s forgiveness (Acts 3:19).
Still, the question remains, how do we respond to sin in others?
The answer is simple. Love. Just because someone is married in a same-sex relationship, is transgender, or has had multiple abortions is no reason at all to tell them they are going to Hell. These are not reasons to shame, ridicule, or exile such people.
We have to remember that all of us are sinners (Romans 3:23). Emphasis on all. When Jesus encountered the adulteress, He did not condemn her, but He also didn’t encourage her to keep sinning (John 8:11). That’s the same loving approach we need to take toward our fellow human beings. No matter where we are in life, or how far we have fallen, there is always hope, and we know this because there is always a God who loves us.
If we ever grow afraid of what the world will do to us because of how we see sin, then we need only go to the Bible for encouragement. Daniel remained faithful while exiled in Babylon, the Jews were freed from bondage in Egypt, David slew Goliath, and most of all, Jesus conquered the world.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/ismagilovjpg
Aaron Brown is a freelance writer, dance teacher, and visual artist. He currently contributes articles to GodUpdates, GodTube, iBelieve, and Crosswalk. Aaron also supports clients through the freelance platform Upwork.