A dangerous state of denial

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Another action alert arrived in my inbox this week, this one regarding hate crimes legislation that, if enacted, could ultimately empower the federal government to investigate and punish politically incorrect speech and thoughts.

Opponents see this legislation as an assault on freedom of speech and freedom of religion, citing the forced removal of the phrase "Marriage is the foundation of the natural family and sustains family values." from the Oakland, Calif., city government's open e-mail system and employee bulletin boards.

The phrase was used on a flier that announced the formation of the "Good News Employee Association" group, with the stated purpose for the group being to provide "a forum for people of Faith to express their views on the contemporary issues of the day. With respect for the Natural Family, Marriage and Family Values." According to George Will, a nationally syndicated columnist, the distribution of the flier was made after other employees' groups, including those advocating gay rights, had advertised their political views and activities on the city's email system and bulletin board.

In my opinion hate crime legislation, even in its current form, is redundant.

After all violent crime is violent crime and is wrong, regardless of the motivation. Is a man less bloody and broken if all I wanted was his wallet than a homosexual is if I want to physically assault him for who he is or what he does? Violence against another person, unless in self-defense, is always wrong and should always be punished to the full extent of the law, regardless of the motivation.

If opponents to this latest proposed legislation, which should be soundly defeated out of hand, seem to be a little paranoid, you can hardly blame them. After all, the gay and lesbian community has let no opportunity pass to tout their cause and to state their rights to be accepted by all facets of the community.

And that is as it should be. Sexual preference should have no bearing on employment viability or housing or any other basic right afforded to all of the citizens of the United States.

For citizens of the Kingdom, however, it is an entirely separate issue. And that is where this proposed legislation gives me pause. Because I cannot fail to name sin by its rightful, God-given name, and homosexuality is a sin. As is adultery, fornication, abortion, divorce without biblical cause, lying, stealing, idolatry, envy and so on. These offend a Holy God and separate man from his Creator. And Revelation warns us that "... the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolater and all liars -- their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death." (Revelation 21:8)

Paul reiterates and expands this list in I Corinthians 6:9, 10, with "Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders, nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God."

That fiery lake of burning sulfur promised in Revelation is a reality, though we like to pretend otherwise. Or perhaps we prefer to believe that it is somehow a false promise, much like the ones mom used to make, such as, "Quit jumping on that bed or I'm going to break both of your arms!" (Though I suppose in this wicked, wicked world, some mothers may have made good on that ominous threat, thankfully, mine never did.) Since God's promises are reality, people must be warned - and that is the job the Lord gave to those who would follow him, by "making disciples of all men ... teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." (Matthew 28:19, 20)

I fear we have failed that charge abysmally. The church, long a champion of righteousness and good works, has allowed the precepts of God, the teachings of Christ, to be compromised, bit by bit, until the present day, when divorce is as no-fault in the church as it is in the world, when we wink at fornication, gasp at adultery (then act as if nothing untoward has happened), excuse our own "smaller sins," with the "at least I'm not as bad as ...." justification, pad our expense account, limit our lustful tendencies to online pornography, turn a blind eye to the issue of abortion, and excuse perjury on the grounds that the end justifies the means.

Given that track record, why shouldn't the homosexual expect and perhaps even demand equal treatment by the church?

The fiery lake of burning sulfur is not an empty threat. To say it is is nothing less than denial. But it can be avoided, if only man -- any man, every man -- can recognize his position as a sinner before a Holy God and cry out to that same God to save his wretched soul. Paul reminds us in I Corinthians 6:11 "And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God." But simply saying sin isn't really sin, or isn't a bad enough sin to deserve such a wretched end is denial of the worst kind and is eternally fatal. Don't ask me to do so -- on pain of imprisonment, fines, or even death.

"Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter." Isaiah 5:20

Things you won't see in heaven: Those named in Revelation 21:8, I Corinthians 6:9, 10

All Scripture quotations are NIV

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