Thursday, November 09, 2006

Love the Sinner, Hate the Sin

I read an essay the other day suggesting that, while Christians talk about loving the sinner, hating the sin... when it comes to homosexuality, in practice they often hate the sinner, too. The author gives examples of the particular disgust shown for homosexuals above exponents of other sins. I enjoyed reading the article (while disagreeing with several points), and it got me thinking. Other immoral or sinful behaviour doesn't elicit such disgust. Is this a case of double-standards? Jesus railed on hypocrisy much more than he talked about homosexuality.

First, homosexuality is disgusting just as genuine sex is attractive. I can't explain why either is the case, we're built that way. Some may say it's just my perspective or preference. I believe God made it that way. Sex is good and attractive, and a perversion of it is repulsive.

Other sins may not provoke the same emotional reaction, but it is instructive to consider how we do respond. A man who keeps his life in sound balance and cares for his family wins my admiration. One who becomes alcoholic and lets his family down - I pity. It's a different emotional response from disgust... in me. Honesty wins respect, hypocrisy or lying earns distrust and a whole different flavour of disdain.

My emotional reaction to the bad may well be the opposite (or in stark contrast) to my response to the corresponding good. It then follows that where one becomes ambivalent about the Godly design of sex, there will be no strong reaction to the perversion of it.

Emotions are far from any guarantee of a balanced response. But they are part of being human, and often they get us to an appropriate response faster than our intellect can fully analyse the facts. Emotions depend largely on our conditioning. So the way we condition our minds is likely to be reflected in our emotional response to both good and bad.

Jesus responded with compassion at times, and at other times approached people with anger (Mark 3). Emotion can form part of our full appreciation of the situation and can add some zing to our response. If you are conditioned to a Godly design of sex, then you may well consider homosexuality disgusting.

Of course, to genuinely help people, emotions must be kept in check. A group of likeminded people can get carried away with a common emotional response. A group of Christians may be over-the-top in their disgust of homosexuality. As in all things, a balance is needed. Wishing injury or disease on homosexuals is also a perversion. However, I consider it sound to strongly dislike the practice and promotion of homosexuality because I care about the way God designed life and sex.

Often when we see homosexuals on TV, they are flaunting this perversion. There is an exaggerated gay walk and talk. Why is that? - if not for marketing and brand-recognition. When an alcoholic is portraited in a film, he is likely to be a sad case in need of help. But homosexuality is likely to be celebrated in modern media. This is particularly galling.

In contrast, when I work with others who are homosexual, there is no problem. We co-operate in meetings and projects. This is where it makes more sense to speak of loving the sinner, hating the sin.

6 comments:

Peter said...

The question most people fail to ask is why is sin a sin? In the Greek New Testament one of the numerous words used for sin is harmatia and it literally means to miss the mark. In profane Greek literature it described an arrow dropping short of its target.

We live in a world of cause and effect. Jump of a building and there will be a very definite effect (splat). In the same way, moral actions carry with them an effect. The effect is they miss the mark, they fall short. Whether it's lying or homosexuality, it has an impact on life that is destructive and detrimental. In regards to homosexuality, Romans says 'they receive in themselves the recompense of their ways.' The impact of homosexuality is not limited to the act alone but spills over into other areas of life. The point is any perverse action, be it lying, stealing or whatever, leads to the perverting of the individual.

Sin misses the mark, runs against the intended design. It's like using a pen as a garden trawl. It's going to kinda work a little, but you'll end up ruining the pen. So the designation 'sin' defines right and wrong, good and bad, profitable and detrimental.

TV & movies represent an interest aspect of this. In a movie, a hero can jump off a building and land on his feet without harm. The laws of cause and effect are suspended on the silver screen. In the same way, homosexuality or adultery (which is the real driving sexual force in most movies) comes with glamor and reward, rich and rewarding. This suspension of reality then drives people on, but life isn't so kind. Don't jump off the roof.

Thousands of years ago an Egyptian priest described adultery as 'the madness of man surrendering reality for a fleeting dream, destroying his future for the pleasure of a passing moment.' Isn't that true of all sin?

Sin is giving in to the weakness and flaws of human nature instead of staying on course and hitting the bullseye. Christians realize it's not just the homos that need help with this. Like Christ, they're the friend of publicans and sinners, show them a better way.

Anonymous said...

Why do you think your emotional response to homosexuality, that it is "disgusting" is valid. Some heterosexuals also think oral sex is disgusting. But I suppose you might argue that oral sex is not "God-designed sex" (though I'm not sure how you are privy to such knowledge). Some heterosexuals also feel that sex with someone who is very old or very fat is "disgusting." Others disagree. Are these feelings also sanctioned by God as you feel yours are? Frankly, I find your piece pretty disgusting. I will admit to you right now that I don't think that opinion is very Godly.

Onyx Stone said...

anonymous, your argument seems to be:

1. You guess what I "might argue", then dispute it.
2. You say others have different opinions... ok.
3. You question that one could be privy to the will of God, then judge my opinions as ungodly.

Nevertheless, thanks for contributing your spattering of thoughts.

Anonymous said...

Your argument seems to be:

0. Uh....

I asked you why you seem to think your "disgust" has any relevance to an argument over whether a particular sex act or orientation is un-Godly. You don't seem to have an answer for that. If you go back and read what I wrote, I never said your opinion was "un-Godly" I said that my opinion of your piece was that it was "disgusting" which according to you would make it "un-Godly." I have no opinion myself on the Godliness or un-Godliness of your opinion.

Onyx Stone said...

Ah, I see how your argument works now. Sorry I mis-read it.

You asked, "Why do you think your emotional response to homosexuality, that it is "disgusting" is valid?"

Actually, I was asking a similar question myself, why is it valid, if at all!

I did not argue that the emotion is valid of itself. Quite the opposite. I argued that the emotion reflects the habit patterns of thinking. If the basis of thinking is sound, the emotions are often helpful.

Also, the strength and nature of an emotional reaction against a thing may be affected by the strength of appreciation or attachment to the opposite.

If one is ambivolent or opposed to the Bible, he is unlikely to care about practices contrary to it. I think the Bible is right on the subject of homosexuality. My emotional response to the issue reflects that.

Onyx Stone said...

anonymous, I deleted your last post, not because I disagreed (I disagreed with all your other comments also). I deleted it because it was too ugly for my site. I believe in free-speech, but I don't have a responsiblitity to host the free speech of others. If you want to say that stuff, you can say it on your own band-width.