The Doc File

The online journal of Luke Dockery

Myths about Homosexuality, America, and the Kingdom of God

Myths

Introduction

It is with some hesitation that I share the following thoughts, because I am not really a very controversial guy and thus, like to avoid talking about hot-button topics. And homosexuality is certainly a hot-button topic in today’s society.

From a Christian perspective, I think homosexuality is a complicated issue, and part of the reason that it’s so complicated is because there are so many myths, so many false ideas floating around that confuse us and prevent us from making progress in any of this with people with whom we disagree.

So today, I want to look at several myths regarding homosexuality and to try to clarify our thinking on those, in the hopes that in the future, as we continue to deal with this issue (because it’s definitely not going away), we’ll be able to do so in a more productive and Biblically-accurate way.

Myth 1: The Bible Doesn’t Really Condemn Homosexuality.

Now, before we get into this one, I should note that there are a lot of people out there who don’t care what the Bible says, so with those folks, you’re going to have a lot of trouble finding common ground. But increasingly, there are people who call themselves Bible-believing Christians who will claim that the Bible doesn’t really condemn homosexuality. That claim is false. It is a myth.

I could spend a long time on this, but as you’ll see, this is going to be a long post already, so briefly:

In Genesis 2.18-25 we have the beautiful account of the creation of Eve, and the clear, direct idea is that woman was created for companionship with man. Man was incomplete without her. This fact has strong implications, and we’ll return to it later, but for now, the idea is that God had a plan, God had a design, and that design was for man and woman to be together.

Later in Genesis 19 we have the destruction of the city of Sodom. Now, people who claim that the Bible doesn’t condemn homosexuality will try to argue that the city of Sodom was destroyed because they showed a lack of hospitality toward the men/angels who visited Lot. And certainly that was true—it was not a hospitable place!—and I have no problem acknowledging that inhospitality was one of many sins that Sodom was destroyed for. Other sins include: violence, rape (or attempted rape), oppression of the poor and needy (Ezekiel 16.49), and, yes, homosexuality. If you were taking a multiple choice quiz about the sins of Sodom, the answer would be “E. All of the Above”. It was a wicked place.

Homosexuality is also explicitly condemned in the Law of Moses (Leviticus 18.22; 20.13).

Moving on to the New Testament, the Apostle Paul forcefully addresses the issue of homosexuality in Romans 1.18-32, and he also includes it in lists of sinful practices in 1 Corinthians 6.9-11 and 1 Timothy 1.8-10. Arguments that Paul is referring to some other practice in these texts and that he was unaware of consensual homosexual relationships like we have today are supported neither by the Greek text nor the testimony of history.

Sometimes you’ll hear people argue that Jesus never specifically condemned it, but even that is inaccurate. Jesus did condemn sexual immorality (Matthew 19.9) and fornication (Matthew 15.19), which would include any sexual intercourse outside of marriage…and Jesus defined marriage as being between one man and one woman (Matthew 19.4-6) just as God created it in the Garden of Eden and as it was described in Genesis 2.

If you study the Bible and are honest about what it says, you have to reach one of two conclusions: either homosexuality is wrong, or the Bible is wrong. You can’t claim that the Bible doesn’t condemn homosexuality.

Myth 2: Homosexuality is the Chief of Sins.

Now, you might not actually hear someone say this, but if we’re honest about it, this is how we act sometimes. We sure get a lot more worked up about this sin than a lot of other sins.

Those sin lists that Paul makes where he includes homosexuality in Romans 1, 1 Corinthians 6 and 1 Timothy 8? They also include sins like adultery, greed, drunkenness, lying, gossip, envy…When was the last time you saw a bunch of Christians up in arms on Facebook because of gossip or greed or envy?

Or even if you just want to narrow it to sexual sins, there are a lot more heterosexuals than homosexuals in this country who are violating God’s laws about sexual behavior. We don’t seem to get as upset about that for some reason. Maybe because that’s a temptation that many of us understand better, or maybe because our culture has already compromised on that sin a long time ago!

A lot of times, if you hold to the biblical teaching on homosexuality—that it is a sin—you are branded as a hateful bigot. And that’s too bad. I don’t hate homosexuals; I don’t think most Christians do either. But when we use all of our moral outrage on this one issue, and we’re not consistent in the way we oppose other kinds of sin (including the ones like gossip and greed and lying that we tend to wink at), I can understand how some gay people could think that we hate them, because to them it seems like we only focus on their sin.

But homosexuality is not the chief of sins. It’s just one of many that we need to oppose.

Myth 3: There is No Difference between Homosexual Attraction and the Practice of Homosexuality.

This is a huge myth, because there is a huge difference: it’s the difference between temptation and sin. It’s the difference between orientation and behavior.

When you go back and look at those sin lists that Paul writes which we’ve already referred to a couple of times, he talks about practicing homosexuality, the physical act of it. That is a sin. We need to distinguish that practice from the temptation. Temptations are not sin. I know that because the Bible teaches that Jesus was tempted in every way as we are, and yet was without sin (you can read about some of those temptations in Matthew 4). So it’s not sinful to be tempted; it’s sinful to give in to your temptations.

Sometimes in these discussions I think we get on shaky ground when we try to argue about whether or not people are born with a homosexual orientation. And honestly, if you keep up with this stuff, the science is still out on this. Scientists don’t know; they argue it both ways. We do know that our genetic makeup greatly influences our lives, but that also the environment in which we are raised greatly influences us.

But I’ll be honest with you, if science came out and definitively said that yes, some people are born with an inclination toward homosexual feelings, it really wouldn’t bother me, because my experience already leads me to believe that some people are naturally more inclined towards certain temptations than others.

For some who are reading this, the temptation for greed is so high. It’s so easy to find yourself thinking about how you can get more money, more possessions. For others, the temptation to gossip is so strong. When you find out information about someone—maybe a brother or sister in Christ—it is such a struggle to not gleefully pass that on. For others, the temptation of drunkenness or lust is a strong one, while others may never feel those temptations at all.

The point is, we’re different! Sins that are really tempting for me may not be tempting for you. Sins that are really tempting for you may not be tempting for me.

But we need to realize that homosexual attraction is a temptation. It’s giving in to that temptation that is sin. Christians who struggle with this temptation—like all temptations—need our sympathy, our compassion, and support, not our derision, or our judgment, or our cruel jokes.

Myth 4: America is a Christian Nation.

The United States was established on certain Christian principles, and there is a respect for the sovereignty of God and the teachings of Scripture that run deep within the heritage of our country. And if that’s what you mean in saying that America is a Christian nation, I get your point, and I agree.

However…

The United States of America is not a Christian nation, because as a nation, we don’t live according to the principles of Christ.

If America was a Christian nation, we wouldn’t have an economy based largely on greed where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. If America was a Christian nation, we wouldn’t legally permit the slaughter of nearly one million of our own unborn children each year and call it a medical procedure. And yes, if America was a Christian nation, we wouldn’t be debating about whether or not we can “re-define” marriage when God has already clearly defined it. And we could go on and on.

But at an even more basic level, America is not a Christian nation because “Christian nations” do not exist. 

God doesn’t have a country; He has a kingdom. And by the way, if you are a Christian, that is where your primary allegiance should lie—not the United States! God’s Kingdom—or God’s reign, His rule—will one day extend over all that is. But for now, the Bible teaches that Satan is the ruler of this world. Sure, God is ultimately in charge and the Bible teaches that He is involved in the rise and fall of kings and nations…but right now, God’s Kingdom, His reign and His rule, is seen primarily in the Church and in the lives of individual Christians and the light that they shine.

It is not seen in our government or our laws. The United States is not the Kingdom of God.

That doesn’t mean that we can’t be upset over the direction that our country is going. If you care about the US (as I do), then that’s a natural response. And we see in Luke 13 and Matthew 23 that Jesus lamented over the city of Jerusalem because of the way that it rejected prophets and was going to reject Him and the punishment that would come as a result—the city was leveled in AD 70 by the Romans. It’s okay to be sad when our country makes decisions that go against God’s laws and desires.

It also doesn’t mean that we can’t desire or use our political voice to try and reflect Kingdom values in our country. But I think it does mean that we should quit expecting our country to look like the Kingdom of God. Because it’s not that. I think as Christians, we need to quit being surprised when lost people act like they’re lost. How else are they going to act? We should expect the world to act like the world.

To me, that means that engaging in culture wars and arguing with people about gay marriage shouldn’t be our primary concern. Don’t misunderstand me: if someone asks me my opinion on gay marriage, you better believe that I’ll tell them. If I have the chance to vote on it, you can rest assured that I will use my vote to reflect the values of the Kingdom.

But what I’m not going to do is obsess over the fact that the U.S. doesn’t look like the Kingdom of God, because why would it? It’s not that.

Instead, I need to focus on making and maturing disciples to be like Jesus Christ! That’s what my mission is. That’s how I expand the borders of God’s Kingdom; not by arguing with people on Facebook.

Myth 5: The Direction in which America is Heading is Bad for the Church.

Related somewhat to the last idea, I think there is a general feeling that the direction our country is headed—a direction away from the teachings of God and Scripture—is a bad thing for the church.But I’m not sure that’s true. Hear me out…

I expect that as time goes on, the policies and laws of our nation will increasingly stray from the teachings of Scripture. I expect that to happen. As a result, I think our country will increasingly become a hostile environment for Christians.

And I firmly believe that God will bless us in that environment.

For one thing, it says that in Scripture. Jesus says in Matthew 5.11: “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.”

But also, this idea is borne out in history.

Starting in the Book of Acts we see that when the church was persecuted, it didn’t put an end to the church—it just enabled the church to spread! What began as a movement in Jerusalem spread throughout Judea, Samaria, Asia Minor, Greece, Rome and beyond when Saul of Tarsus and others like him began to persecute the church.

That continued later on. Emperors like Nero and Domitian persecuted Christianity and tried to stamp it out—they had Christians beheaded and burned at the stake—but the church continued to grow. Tertullian, a Christian of the 2nd century, said, “The blood of martyrs is the seed of the church.” When the church is persecuted, fair-weather lukewarm Christians are weeded out, and those who remain do great things!

But keeping our gaze on the past, we also see the reverse is true.

In 313 AD, the Emperor Constantine legalized Christianity all across the Roman Empire—no longer would Christians be persecuted—and soon thereafter, Christianity became the official religion of the Empire. And that sounds like a good thing to us, but really it wasn’t a healthy thing for the church at all! Christianity became trendy and popular; it was something that people signed up for like a social club.

Lukewarm faith, questionable motives, and pagan backgrounds combined to produce a lot of practices which led people away from the truth of Scripture. Christianity was a name they wore, but not a cross they carried daily.

Fast forward hundreds and hundreds of years…when I look around at our culture, our so-called “Christian nation”, that’s what I see; a nation of lukewarm Christianity filled with people who claim the name of Christ but don’t really follow Him. People who instead worship money, or success, or a flag.

An American government that has largely been friendly to the values and ideas of Christianity for the last couple of hundred years hasn’t really been great for the church; it’s just made it easy for Christians to get comfortable living in this world and to forget that we are supposed to be citizens of another.

If our country continues to turn away from God’s commandments and teachings, I think it will become increasingly hostile toward Christians. And maybe that’s exactly what we need to wake us up!

If what we care about is our comfort, then the direction in which our country is headed is certainly troubling. But if we care about the health and growth of the church, then I think we need to look to the future with a bold confidence in what lies ahead.

Conclusion

We’ve been talking about myths:

  • Is it true that the Bible doesn’t really condemn homosexuality? No, the Bible does condemn it. As Christians, we need to know this truth and be able to share it.
  • Is it true that homosexuality is the chief of sins? No, it isn’t. And if we want to have a witness that the world will listen to, we have got to be consistent. We have to speak out against all sins, not just this one.
  • Is it true that there is no difference between homosexual attraction and the practice of homosexuality? No, there’s a huge difference: the difference between temptation and sin. People who struggle with this temptation need our support and our prayer, not our condemnation and our disdain.
  • Is it true that America is a Christian nation? No, God has a Kingdom, not a country. The fact that our country doesn’t look like the Kingdom of God shouldn’t surprise us; it should make us seek to spread the borders of the Kingdom and look eagerly for our home with God.
  • Is it true that the direction in which America is heading is bad for the church? I don’t think so. The Bible teaches and history bears witness that when we are persecuted for the sake of Christ, the church is blessed. That doesn’t mean it will be easy, or comfortable, but it should fill us with courage and purpose.

This post has talked extensively about the Kingdom of God; it’s God’s mission to save the world through His Son Jesus, and as Christians—as citizens of God’s Kingdom—we join with Him on that mission. Inherently, that means that we don’t live hidden and cut off from our culture, but rather, actively engaged in it. I know this is a complicated and emotionally-charged issue, but I think it is incredibly important that we get the truth about these myths straight in our minds if we are going to be salt and light and engage our world in the proper tone and from the right perspective.

62 Comments

  1. Luke, I appreciate so much that you wrote this. You addressed hot topics without being condescending, which is almost impossible anymore. I agree whole-heartedly with everything you said, and I hope many will read this and learn from the wisdom you have shared.

    • Luke

      October 3, 2014 at 9:46 AM

      Hey Trisha, thanks for the kind words! I hope my thoughts are helpful to those who read them.

      • Luke good points but I disagree with the last statement. Things are going to get rougher for the Christians but that means America has gone further down hill. When a nation is going down hill then it will be judged by God. I don’t think God has blessed any nation such as ours. Turn our backs on Him and a second or third rate country we will become. Yes true Christians will persevere even in rough times but why should we not politically and spiritually fight for the good of the country as a whole. We should not roll over and play dead.

        • Luke

          October 9, 2014 at 7:40 PM

          Ben, I can’t tell for sure, but I don’t think we disagree as much as you might think:

          (1) You indicate that God has blessed the United States immensely, that the direction in which the US is going is tragic, and that a bad end lays at the end of that road. I agree with all of that.

          (2) You also suggest that we should politically and spiritually fight for the good of the country…I think you’ll see under Myth 4 that I basically agree with that too when I say, “It also doesn’t mean that we can’t desire or use our political voice to try and reflect Kingdom values in our country,” and “If someone asks me my opinion on gay marriage, you better believe that I’ll tell them. If I have the chance to vote on it, you can rest assured that I will use my vote to reflect the values of the Kingdom.”

          (3) Perhaps the only real difference is just a matter of emphasis. While I agree with (1) and (2), these just aren’t my primary concerns. I love the US, and it would/will grieve me to see it move further from biblical principles, but I love the church much more. And as I suggest above, I’m not sure that a bad result for the US wouldn’t result in a good environment for the church.

          Thanks for reading and commenting! Blessings to you!

      • Luke I very muchliked your post, but the only thing I think I would have added is that I do realize the country is not a christian nation persay but the Constitution was created using basic christian moral values and our founders tried to make it evident that God is our creator and put His name in all aspects of our government. God is mentioned over 500 times in our Hall of Justice. The 10 Comandments are inscribed over the supreme court justices seats and on the 14 ft doors entering the Hall. Tour guides are instructed to tell school kids these words are the bill of rights not the 10 Comandments And they leave these doors pulled open at all times now so people won’t see the comandments on the door… Maybe not a Christian nation but it certainly was founded on Christian principles….Our founders wanted us to know Christ not deny him…

        • Luke

          July 1, 2015 at 8:22 AM

          Frank,

          You went into much more detail than I did, but if you re-read the first paragraph under Myth 4, I think you’ll find that we are much in agreement about the close ties between Christian heritage and our nation’s founding.

  2. Well-reasoned. I think Myth #3 is the one that gets glossed over the most, and by people on both sides.

    I will propose one minor quibble regarding this comment in #2:

    You wrote: “Or even if you just want to narrow it to sexual sins, there are a lot more heterosexuals than homosexuals in this country who are violating God’s laws about sexual behavior. We don’t seem to get as upset about that for some reason. Maybe because that’s a temptation that many of us understand better, or maybe because our culture has already compromised on that sin a long time ago!”

    I’d ad an alternative reason, which is that most heterosexual sin resembles non-sinful heterosexual relationships enough that the difference is not obvious to the casual observer, and therefore represents less of a spiritual/cultural threat. So, for example, some Christians with young children might know that the male-female couple living next door are unmarried, or are divorced & remarried without scriptural basis, etc., but it doesn’t constitute a bad influence on their kids because the kids know nothing of these background facts that make the situation sinful– on the surface, it appears to be a normal marriage.

    In contrast, there is no way that a same-sex couple living next door, who may even have a kid of their own of the ‘Heather Has Two Mommies’ variety, can be healthily mis-perceived as a normal marriage. So I can understand where a Christian would be more worried about the worldly influence of the second scenario more than the first, even though all parties are equally guilty of sin before God.

    Personally, I don’t think this concern is sufficient to pick a big fight over, nor do I think that sexual morality & relationships are something that rightly falls under any government licensing authority to begin with, but I thought I’d throw that in as a bit more charitable take on why so many Christians are more bothered by homosexual sin than the hetero kind.

    • Luke

      October 3, 2014 at 10:01 AM

      Hey Tim, thanks for reading and commenting.
      I see what you’re saying and agree with you: because of the outward resemblance to God-approved sexual relationships, inappropriate hetero sexual relationships can be less threatening to us. Kind of a “Don’t ask, don’t tell” mentality, whereas in the case of homosexual relationships, you don’t have to ask, because you can immediately see the nature of the relationship. And you’re right: that is a more charitable take.
      Still though (and maybe it’s the cynic in me!), I think the reasons mentioned in my post are accurate as well. Many Christians (teenagers and adults as well) will avoid ties/friendships with homosexuals while having no qualms about ties/friendships with others who are involved in heterosexual relationships outside of the context of marriage. On a pop culture level, Christians (“Christian” used here in the broadest sense) freaked out about TV shows like Will and Grace when they first came out because of the connections to homosexuality, while shows like Seinfeld and Friends, which continuously depict biblically unapproved sexual behavior were dominating the ratings. Certainly not all Christians engaged in this type of inconsistency, but many did, which is I think, part of the reason why the homosexuality community often feels that Christians preach Myth #2.
      But still, your point was correct and, I think, provided some needed balance. Thanks!

      • I believe the reason some people view same-sex marriage more harshly than other things that they believe are sinful is because of the boldness of it. Someone who, for example, is committing adultery may sneak around at shady motels and may convince himself that he will soon quit and repent. He is not likely to post on Facebook with a rainbow that says, “I cheat!” or “Cheater Pride.” Now, one might say that he is merely a hypocrite, but as long as someone knows what they are doing is wrong, there is a chance they will try to stop. As long as LGBT folks stayed in the closet, they shared a kinship with all the unrepentant straights of the world. Now that they have gotten endorsement from the President and the Supreme Court and can say that they are not wrong, but those who accuse them are, it seems to infuriate the garden variety sinners!

        • Luke

          July 1, 2015 at 8:28 AM

          Gregory,

          You might be right—certainly many sins which people commit are still done in secrecy and without connotations of pride. At the same time, I would still suggest that we witness a lot of people boldly ignoring God’s laws concerning sexual behavior outside of the context of marriage and it doesn’t seem to bother us as much.

          As I mentioned above (though I made that comment several months ago now), I can remember when I was a kid and the sitcom Will and Grace first came on TV. Christians were outraged because the show openly portrayed gay characters. And yet, at the same time, shows like Seinfeld and Friends were wildly popular, despite the fact that the characters were constantly sleeping with one another and with others to whom they were not married. And the list of similar shows is a long one.

          I just think we are inconsistent in the way we target homosexual practice while ignoring other forms of rampant immorality in our culture.

          • Charles Smith

            July 1, 2015 at 9:59 AM

            I consider homosexuality different from other sins because 1. It is only sin that is actively trying to recruit our children into the sinful lifestyle and 2. It is the only sin that now has the power to close the door of any small church that refuses to accept then and their sin. Other that that, outstanding article.

            The comment above by Charles was nested in too many layers for me to respond to it. I will briefly state that I agree that homosexuality is being aggressively pushed as an acceptable lifestyle today, but I just don’t see that as such an abnormal occurrence. For a long period of time (60s, 70s and beyond), there was a push in culture to accept the practice of sex outside of marriage. That practice has become so culturally acceptable that Christians don’t speak much about it today (despite it being a sin). I do not see this as any different, it is just the “pushed” issue right now. Again, homosexuality is a sin; it is not the chief of sins. –LD

  3. Excellent article; we’ll thought and articulated. Thank you, worth sharing.

  4. This was a great message Luke … I think we all have looked at sin in a different way … I have seen some church’s look at pregnancy before marriage as a terrible sin … No sin is worse than the other. We all sin … We sonetimes feel that if a young lady gets pregnant before marriage that we are not allowed to give them a baby shower … Same with Homosexuality or any sexual immorality … We cant pick one sin worse than the other .. We cant hold that over them … We are to love them …teach them …guide them …help all those who sin because we are no better…We are not perfect … Thank you again … I needed to hear this …

    • Luke

      October 5, 2014 at 3:27 PM

      Hey Cindy, thanks for your comment.

      Saying things like “no sin is worse than the other” or “all sin is the same in God’s eyes” bothers me, because I think it is an oversimplification of what Scripture teaches (http://lukedockery.com/2014/08/05/is-all-sin-the-same-to-god/). At the same time, as you suggest, we have NO right to act in such a way that implicitly approves some sins while opposing others.

      As Christians, we need to emphasize that all sin is a big deal, but that it can still be forgiven, and we need to love and support those who are struggling with it.

      Thanks for the comment; blessings to you!

  5. This is the best and clearest article or blog I have ever read on this topic. Thanks so much for writing it!

    • Luke

      October 5, 2014 at 3:28 PM

      Wow, Kay, thanks for your comment—I am humbled and honored by it. I am glad that my words here were helpful to you; thanks for your encouragement!

  6. Hey Luke, I had a question about Myth 3. How do you think temptation vs. practice relates to Matthew 5:28? “But I tell you, everyone who looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

    • Luke

      October 6, 2014 at 3:22 PM

      ShaunKL,
      Thanks for the comment and your question.

      Myth 3 assumes that there is a difference between temptation and sin. That assumption is based on two very clear facts which the Bible teaches about Jesus: (1) Jesus was tempted just like we are; (2) Jesus was without sin. Thus, it follows that we can be tempted without sinning.

      Having said that, in Matthew 5.28, I don’t think Jesus is referring to a temptation (lust) and a sin (adultery); I think he is referring to two different sins (lust and adultery). In other words, in Matthew 5.28, “lust” is not the temptation to commit adultery, it is the intense desire to do so, the mulling it over in one’s mind and the fantasizing of it. It is, itself, a sin.

      (The whole discussion of lust is further complicated by the fact that the same Greek word which is translated as sinful lust (επιθυμια) sometimes means “hope” or “desire” in a good or neutral sense (Phil. 1.23; Luke 22.15; 1 Thess. 2.17). We have to look at the context to know if it is talking about simple desire, or the craving or lust for something that is forbidden or inappropriate. In the case of Matthew 5.28, we are clearly talking about lust in the sinful sense.)

      Concerning the original post and Myth 3, homosexual lust is a sin, just as certainly as heterosexual lust is. To use my terminology, homosexual lust would be part of the “practice” of homosexuality, even though it is an act that occurs inside one’s heart/mind.

      Perhaps a related question would be, “When does temptation give way to lust?” That might be difficult to answer specifically, but when we are tempted, we have the opportunity to say “No!” and to turn our minds to something else, or we can choose to indulge that temptation, think on it, even obsess over it, etc. (cf. James 1.15). The first instance would be simple temptation, while the second would be lust.

      I hope that answers your question—if not let me know and I’ll try again. Thanks again for commenting; blessings to you!

  7. Hey Luke, I thought your article on almost every level was spot on, except for one sentence in myth 4″God doesn’t have a country; He has a kingdom.”. Now obviously he does have a Kingdom (which is his Elect or the people whom put their trust in him) and I understand you were trying to show America is not a christian nation, which I also agree with, but is not the nation of Israel referred to “God’s holy nation” or “God holy people” on multiple occasions throughout both the old and the new testament?
    Deuteronomy Chapter 7 and verses 6-11 to be specific, I think would be one of the best bible references to support the concept. I just wanted to show that to you and am curious for your thoughts on it.
    Keep doing the good work and God bless

    • Luke

      October 8, 2014 at 1:08 PM

      Hey Jonathan, thanks for the comment!

      Admittedly, the line you quoted was a bit of a rhetorical flourish, and after publishing the blog, I certainly thought about 1 Peter 2.9 and the “holy nation” reference. So the language is perhaps imprecise.

      I think the Old Testament is very clear that God chose the nation of Israel in a special way as “his.” So it would be incorrect for me to have said, “God never had a country…” Still, I think it is technically correct to say that he doesn’t have (present tense) a country, because his holy nation is no longer tied to a political entity (not Israel and not the US). Luke and Paul both make clear, I believe, that it is Abraham’s spiritual descendants (who are accepted by God through faith in Jesus Christ) who today comprise “God’s nation” rather than his physical descendants.

      As you noted, the real purpose of that line was to emphasize that the US has not, in some way, replaced the ancient kingdom of Israel in some sense as “God’s chosen people.” I don’t know if many people would actually argue with that statement, but there are many who act and speak in such a way that contradicts it.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

  8. Very well written. Good food for thought. Thank you for sharing. These are some seriously dangerous myths that some of us in the Christian community have promoted.

    • Luke

      October 8, 2014 at 1:10 PM

      Levi,

      Thanks for reading and commenting! I appreciate the encouragement. We certainly need to be careful about the ideas we are intentionally or unintentionally promoting.

      Blessings to you!

  9. Very well written! I have been so frustrated with the church of today on how we tend to rate sins on a scale. As you said, we need to love, encourage, and support one another instead of judging, ridiculing, and tearing down. I’ve often wondered what Jesus would do if he came into the churches of today. Would he be pleased or would he turn tables? I’m afraid it would be the latter. Again, very well written. We need to wake up and be the Christians that we are called to be…biblically influenced, not culturally influenced.

    • Luke

      October 8, 2014 at 3:17 PM

      Hey Chad, thanks for your feedback. Your hypothetical question about what Jesus would do if he were to enter our churches today is a good one, and should cause us to pause and seriously reflect.

  10. Under number 2: There is no degree of sin, all sins are equal. There is no such thing as a little white lie. A lie is a lie and a sin is a sin which will send you to hell if it is not repented of.

    • Luke

      October 8, 2014 at 3:21 PM

      Lynda,

      Thanks for your comment. Obviously, I think we need to quit emphasizing the sinfulness of homosexual practice while ignoring a host of other sins. Also, I would certainly agree with your comment in the sense that all sin (whether it is popularly viewed as a “big” or a “small” sin) separates us from God.

      At the same time, I cringe when I hear the notion that “all sin is equal” or “all sins are the same to God” because I don’t think the Bible teaches that. Here is a post, loaded with Scripture, on that topic if you are interested: http://lukedockery.com/2014/08/05/is-all-sin-the-same-to-god/

      Thanks for reading; blessings to you!

      • Sande Volkman

        May 11, 2015 at 4:04 PM

        Hi, Luke! I just happened across this and I like the thoughts you offer. I don’t know anything about you, so I don’t know if you are anti-Catholic (I really hope not.) I would say much of what you are saying agrees with the Catechism of the Catholic Church. You appear to be recognizing the difference between venial and mortal sin, the effects of which vary from allowing a familiarity and frequentcy with venial sins to lead to the commission of mortal sin, by which we effectively turn away from and close ourselves off from God’s grace.
        You touch on other Catholic teachings, as well, such as the sacredness found in marriage, and the harm done in trivializing sexual unions in general. I would say that has done the most harm and has lead us to where we find our society today, the permissiveness of divorce and remarriage, the acceptance of birth control, the manufacturing of children outside the physical union of the mother and father. I pray that Christians can unite as one body, but I think so much harm has been done by everyone interpreting what they wish to believe to fit what it is they wish to do.
        I’m sorry this is so long and it is not my goal to be divisive, I am sincerely wondering if the Protestant churches are going to eventually accept homosexual unions because from an historical viewpoint I have to conclude they will. Fewer than one hundred years ago, all Christian churches stood against divorce and remarriage and birth control, but now as a whole only the Catholic Church remains in that stance, as well as IVF, etc.
        Again, I am not trying to knock Protestants or any denomination, I trust that each person is sincerely seeking to that which is pleasing to God, and that only He can know and judge each heart. I’m simply wishing we could all agree and stand together, I guess. May God bless you and keep you in His protection.

        • Luke

          May 11, 2015 at 4:50 PM

          Hey Sande, thanks for the comment (I actually received three identical comments from you, so I assume that you had trouble trying to comment. Sorry about that; I deleted the other two to clean up a bit).

          You brought up a lot of stuff, and I likely won’t be able to respond adequately to all of it, but I’ll mention a few things:

          I am not Catholic, and I disagree with a variety of Catholic teachings, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have some significant things in common as well. I am actually a product of the American Restoration Movement, which you can read more about if you want (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Restoration_Movement).

          Most significantly, my religious background means that it is very important to me to ensure that all of my religious or theological beliefs are rooted in Scripture rather than in a creed or catechism or anything else. So, for example, I do think that Scripture teaches that not all sin is the same to God, but that doesn’t mean that I endorse the Catholic teaching of mortal vs. venial sin (as I understand it, at least).

          I think you have some good observations about Protestant churches and the degree to which many have made some significant doctrinal compromises over time. At the same time, there is an astounding variety of faith and practice within such churches, and so it is really impossible to speak of Protestant churches as if they were a uniform group. There are some Protestant groups that already accept homosexual unions; there are others which I am confident never will.

          Anyway, thanks for your comment, and rest assured that I was not offended by anything you said. I’m happy to try to address any other questions you have, or to further explain anything I have said.

  11. Frank R. Williams

    October 10, 2014 at 1:16 PM

    Luke, thank you for this very good article and it is most thought provoking. You have covered the subject very well; even if I might disagree a little here and there. Even in these, your replies have clearified these little disagreements. I will share your article on my facebook page. I do believe that some sins have greater bad results than some other sins. This is what I see in same sex marriage being legalized. The family being the foundation of any nation. We as a nation are no stronger than the family. The first teaching a child receives is in the family; the child is first introduced to morals in the family; and the child first learns of marriage in the family.

    • Luke

      October 10, 2014 at 2:55 PM

      Frank,
      Thanks for your comment and kind words.

      I agree with you that the weakening of the family crumbles the very foundation of society and that this is a huge problem in our culture. I am also concerned about same sex marriage, but I would also bemoan the normalization of unmarried couplings, the prevalence of divorce (and the resulting absentee parents), and the trivialization of sex in general. It’s a real problem.

  12. Frank R. Williams

    October 10, 2014 at 5:09 PM

    Luke, I have written an article a week for about twelve years and these articles have addressed many subjects. You are correct, when you write about the unmarried living together, all sex out of marrige, and the other subjects in your reply. The church must address sin in all its forms! I would just say this, it is good, as I see things, to address with teaching/preaching and in writing what is on the minds of the lost, when it is on their minds. This is JUST a personal opinion and not wroth much! This may explan why there is so much being said and written about homosexuality at this time.

    • Luke

      October 13, 2014 at 9:16 AM

      Hey Frank, I understand what you are saying and agree with you. I just think that when we take advantage of the opportunity to address it “when it is on their minds”, we need to make sure that we don’t inadvertently convey Myth 2.

      Thanks again for commenting!

  13. I don’t know you personally, Luke, but I think you are absolutely spot on in this blog post! Well said! 🙂

  14. Keith Caselman

    May 12, 2015 at 9:24 AM

    Luke, this is an excellent post. Thank you for the thoughts. Additionally, I wanted to say how impressed I am that you take the time to answer or acknowledge all the comments, which takes an incredible amount of time, energy and thoughtfulness. Thanks for all you do.

    • Luke

      May 12, 2015 at 1:33 PM

      Thanks for the encouragement, Keith. This was originally a sermon which I preached at Farmington last year.

      I have always tried to have the policy of responding to everyone who comments on my blog. It is, at times, pretty challenging to do, but I guess I feel that if people feel strongly enough about something to comment, I should make sure to let them know that I read and thought about what they had to say.

  15. I have to admit, when I saw this article, my initial thought was, “Great. Someone else wants to chime in with non biblical opinions and cause more confusion and strife.” Well, now I must say I am sorry for judging too quickly. Everything you said is what we hve been preaching and teaching in out church, but because we are small, we feel like we are alone in seeking biblical truth for today. It is refreshing to see that you not only are well established in what you believe, but what you believe comes from a biblical world view instead of just your opinion. I have a desire to see the truth of God break through our casual, lukewarm, tradition-based church culture. I really enjoyed the article and will be keeping an eye out for more that you share. I hope you continue to be blessed and be bold for Christ. Well done.

    • Luke

      May 12, 2015 at 4:26 PM

      Drew,
      I’m glad that I was able to pleasantly surprise you. 🙂 Seriously, thanks for the kind words!

      “I have a desire to see the truth of God break through our casual, lukewarm, tradition-based church culture.”

      I agree with that whole-heartedly! I appreciate your encouragement, and likewise would like to encourage you to continue to seek biblical truth for today!

  16. Great post, right on target! 2 years ago we found out our son struggled with homosexuality and has went from wanting to allow God to use him to help others through it to now fully ’embracing’ it and active in a church in which his pastor and most of the members are living in homosexuality. We continue to stand on the Word of God and show love to him at the same time. There is a lot of tension and hurt in our family right now as you can imagine. The hardest part is knowing what to do and not do as parents who love him very much but refuse to turn our back on the truths of God’s Word. It’s easy for us to accept the sinner without approving of the sin but he views it as un-approval of him. Very complicated issue of which I’ve learned so much more about than I ever thought I would need to know. Thank you again and God Bless!

    • Luke

      May 14, 2015 at 9:12 AM

      Hey Jennifer,

      Thanks for commenting and especially for your willingness to share your story.

      I will not pretend that I understand the difficulty of the situation in which you find yourself with your son, but I want to commend you on your determination to “stand on the Word of God and show him love at the same time.”

      I wrote this post with multiple audiences in mind, but one group I was definitely thinking about was those who self-identify as Christians but somehow argue that the Bible doesn’t condemn homosexual practices. It frustrates me that there are churches out there who have either rationalized or ignored the biblical teaching on homosexuality and are giving full approval to the lifestyle your son has chosen.

      May God grant you wisdom, discernment, and perseverance as you seek to show love to your son while also reflecting the teachings of Scripture.

  17. I would like to say that I really enjoyed your comments. I am a born again christian and have found that I have become accepting of sin because it it easy. I too believe that sin is sin. It is easy to get stuck on just one sin. You made some very good points about sin. We should not be casting the first stones. As a christian there are opportunities and we do sin everyday. We all need to look at God and ask for forgiveness. Thank you very much for this article

  18. I wanted to ask one more question. When I was a child in church, the minister talked about loving the sinner and hating the sin. He also stated that we should not encourge sinful behavior. We are to set ourselves apart from the sinner. ‘People should not be living together in sin and proclaiming victory in Christ,”

    It now seems like any behavior is okay with the christian, and there is no accountability/judgement about the sin. My question to you would be how do you feel about open sin in the church? How can christians be living a Godly life when they may be living together unmarried, having children. I just do not quite understand this.

    Maybe because I am 62, I feel like church has become a social center and has forgot about sin and the consequences.

    • Hey Susan, thanks for your comments.

      To answer your question, I think open sin in the church is completely unacceptable. Certainly we all sin from time to time, but I think that is to be distinguished from an ongoing lifestyle of sin which the church knows about and winks at.

      Paul deals with this at some length in 1 Corinthians 5, as there was apparently a man in the church at Corinth who was sleeping with his stepmother and was still involved in the worship and fellowship of the church there. Paul’s instruction was to “let him who has done this be removed from among you” (1 Cor. 5.2b).

      I think you are right to observe that a lot of churches have gone “soft” on this, but that is certainly not the way it should be, according to Scripture.

  19. I really love how you have explained things here. My son is almost 16 and has very strong modern views on some subjects and your article will be a great way to help explain to him the Christian view without him feeling I am “shoving” it down his throat. Thank you!

    • Teena, thanks for your thoughts.

      One thing to remember is that we are all significantly affected by the societal and cultural values which surround us as we grow up, and society today has repeatedly and vigorously told young people that this is a non-issue. So your son is having to reconcile what Scripture teaches with what culture is telling him. I hope that this article is helpful for you.

  20. I am so dismayed by today’s “in your face” promotion of homosexual unions/families in commercials, magazines, etc. I realize same-sex unions are just another sin. However, I don’t see thievery, murder, greed, false witness, lying, etc. being shoved down our throats as laudable behavior. I desire to lovingly fulfill Christ’s goal to compassionately lead others to Him. I do love the sinner but hate his/her/my sin. But how can I reach out to all the lost when I’m so disgusted by their behavior?

    • Luke

      June 30, 2015 at 2:14 PM

      Rena,

      I agree that the “in your face” promotion of this particular issue is frustrating. I would say that it is not so different however than the “in your face” nature of the sexual liberation arguments of the 60s and 70s; we have simply accepted rampant (heterosexual) immorality as a product of our culture where it no longer dismays and disgusts us as it should.

      But how can I reach out to all the lost when I’m so disgusted by their behavior?

      I think it is appropriate to be disgusted by sin in all of its forms, but we should not be disgusted by some sins and not others. All sin separates us from God and is repulsive to Him.

      Also, I think it is important to remember that the Bible teaches that we do not war against flesh and blood. In other words, the people of the world are not our enemies; Satan is. The people of the world are slaves to sin, and they need the freeing message of the Gospel of Christ. Maybe that sounds simplistic or idealistic, but I think it is the biblical response: people in the world with whom we disagree are not our enemies, they are sin-sick souls in need of the Great Physician. We must share Him with them. Seeking and saving the lost was Christ’s mission. It must be ours too, regardless of what they have done or what sins they are wrapped up in.

  21. I like the way you explained this and think all should read it, Christians or not we should not judge that is God’s territory , The first commandment is to love thy neighbor as you love yourself, We don’t have to like them just love the only thing I can say they should not be married in a church because that’s what makes it more distasteful we have let this country go way out of control and one day God will show is wrath again amongst his people. Sad to think about well it’s over and done all we can do is keep praying let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

    • Luke

      June 30, 2015 at 2:21 PM

      Toni,

      Thanks for your comment.

      I get frustrated at times with discussions about “judging,” because it is such an imprecise term in today’s discourse that I think discussions on that topic are generally unhelpful.

      Certainly it is not our place to “judge” in the sense that we determine people’s eternal destinations (that’s God’s job), nor are we to “judge” the motives or intentions of people (which we cannot really know). Furthermore, in 1 Corinthians 5.12, Paul says, “For what have I to do with judging outsiders?” In context, he is arguing that our focus should be on making sure that people inside the church live like Christ, rather than trying to force people outside of the church to do so (why would they?).

      Having said that, there is nothing wrong with sharing what Scripture teaches on a given subject, and in fact, as Christians, that is exactly what we should be prepared to do if/when people ask (1 Peter 3.15). But when we tell someone that Scripture teaches that homosexual practice is wrong, we are not acting as a “judge”; it is more like we are a court reporter, simply relaying the message.

      Anyway, it is possible that my entire comment was unnecessary and that we are on the same page, but again, “judge” is an imprecise word in religious discussions, and I wanted to flesh out what I thought a little bit.

      Thanks for commenting!

  22. Found this on my sister’s page. Wonderfully written without being sarcastic or condescending. I am going to share this

  23. One of the best and biblically sound articles I’ve ever read. The way you address myths 4 and 5 were a huge source of encouragement for me when contemplating the persecution I believe Christians may soon be facing in our country. Thanks for posting!

    • Luke

      July 1, 2015 at 8:29 AM

      Andrea,

      Thanks for your kind words, and I’m glad the post was encouraging. In Christian quarters, I think too much of our conversation about issues like this conveys a sky-is-falling sense of doom. I think a more faithful response is to be concerned, but to realize that God is in control, and that He has immeasurably blessed the church during difficult times in the past.

  24. Thank you so much for your eloquence and thoughtfulness. I think you are in my head….or maybe we are just living in the same environment and reading the same Bible, trying to follow the same Jesus. 🙂 May God continue to bless you with health, wisdom and words.

    • Luke

      July 1, 2015 at 3:05 PM

      Lori,

      You know what they say, great minds think alike! 😉

      Thanks for the comments, and God’s blessings to you as well.

  25. Maurice Loucel

    July 1, 2015 at 11:54 AM

    Sir: You have a new fan, I like the way you present things, not with fanatic verbiage but very clear and concise, we need people like you in the Christian world.

    Maurice

  26. I appreciated your article, as these thoughts have been on my mind and I plan to delve into the Word to learn more from the Holy Spirit. I wholeheartedly agree with the idea that we must condemn all sins. The Word gives us specific instructions on how to deal with our brothers and sisters in Christ who are found to be practicing or living in sin (I am looking for the passage still). Yet, in this day and age of “not judging” and “not offending” anyone, or saying “it’s between them and God,” we’ve failed to remain a people of pure hearts and clean hands, to hold a higher standard. In fact, the church doesn’t look much different than the world to the world, and the issue of gay marriage has allowed the world to rub our noses in it. We need to wake up and realize that this is the time to hold His standard high and get our affairs in order so that many will be saved. God bless you as you seek to speak His truth!

    • Luke

      July 1, 2015 at 8:24 PM

      Hey Kelly, thanks for your comment.

      You said, “In fact, the church doesn’t look much different than the world to the world, and the issue of gay marriage has allowed the world to rub our noses in it.”

      I wholeheartedly agree.

      Also, I am not sure, but 1 Corinthians 5 might be the Scripture you are looking for; there Paul addresses the need for the church at Corinth to withdraw fellowship from a brother in Christ who was sleeping with his stepmother.

  27. This was a great read. Wish I had seen this a long time ago. So much of what’s been on my mind and wishing I had this all together as you wrote it for the times I’ve wanted to share/pass along to those who want to know the truth, deny and or are just plain confused.

    Thank you so much for writing this.

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