At 1 Corinthians 6:9, the apostle Paul commented on several types of behaviour. He said:–
“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of god? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of god. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our god.”
Although some of the terms are old fashioned and not clear, indeed there is some confusion as to what some of the words actually encompass in the original Greek, let us not quibble but acknowledge that it is a list which includes homosexuals, fornicators, adulterers, thieves, alcoholics and a host of other sinners.
Since it is fundamentally a list, that raises a question right away. Are the items in the list in order of severity? If so, is the order the least severe to the most severe, or the other way round? Is the list random, all being equally severe? If the order is least severe to most severe, it means that homosexuality is less severe than getting drunk, since it appears earlier in the sequence. If the order is most severe to least severe, it means that fornication is a worse sin than homosexuality. If the order is random, then homosexuality, fornication, adultery and getting drunk are all as great a sin as each other.
There is a point to asking this. Many Christian ministers focus intently on homosexuality, condemning it as the most heinous of moral crimes. Yet the New Testament does not say that. It is no different than any other sin in the list. All sins are punished the same, for as Paul also said to the Romans in chapter 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death”. Any sin brings death, no matter what it is, from fornication to reviling others. According to passages in the Scriptures, it is only by god’s grace that we are able to have life; and it is god’s grace, not man’s. It is god’s to give, not man’s.
There is often a hypocritical double standard in this regard. There are numerous examples of ministers fornicating with members of their congregation or with others. When discovered, excuses may be made to soften and excuse their behaviour, with calls for forgiveness in the name of Christ. Who can argue with that? It is not my intention to judge such men. Their sin is between themselves and the god they worship. No doubt he will take action and call them to account in due time. I will, however, point out the words of Jesus who gave strict instructions on the subject of judging others in Matthew 7:1, the gist is that before condemning someone else, one must oneself be blameless:–
“Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”
The double standard is easy to see and there are many examples. Let me describe just one in general terms and without names. In a City in British Columbia some years ago, a minister of a church ran off with the choir mistress. Both were married to others. They left the City to establish a life elsewhere, living in adultery. Just prior to those events, local Christian ministers in many denominations had been leading a campaign against homosexuals, even going to the extent of having church members lining the streets during the Gay Pride Parade and holding placards displaying anti-homosexual slogans. When the news of this fornicating minister broke, not a single one of these righteous Christian ministers commented, neither did any of their flock. These Christians condemned homosexuality in no uncertain terms, but remained silent on fornication and adultery by one of their own. Their silence is the tree trunk in their eye. We are required to first take the tree trunk out of our own eye and, only then, take the tiny speck of dust out of another person's eye. Isn’t that what Jesus ordered Christians to do? Refusing to do that makes us hypocrites, according to him.
It is an interesting phenomenon in modern society that many couples prefer to live together rather than marry. It has become very common, and many churches tolerate it from their members even if they do not approve of it. Couples rarely, if ever, have Christian fellowship removed from them when living in an arrangement like that. Plainly speaking, of course, such relationships are fornication and possibly adultery, depending on individual circumstances. Still, despite that, the sin is overlooked and forgiven on a daily basis. Not, however, with a homosexual. Such are treated with an absolutely immovable wall of rejection, even though their sin is no greater than a fornicator's or an adulterer's or even an alcoholic's.
Presumably, god will eventually judge according to his own standards. Christians should always keep in mind that no one is in any better a position than anyone else in regards to this. According to Paul, everyone requires forgiveness. As he says in Romans 3:23:–
“for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of god, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”
Without god’s grace our destiny would be different, and in Romans chapter 6, verse 23, Paul tells what that destiny would be and what is the way to avoid it:–
“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of god is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
In line with that, Paul gave some important advice, recorded in First Corinthians, chapter 19, verse 12:–
“Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.”
Since we all sin, and the wages sin pays is death, we all deserve that punishment, so it is not up to us to condemn other people since they, too, can be justified by god’s grace. According to the Bible, whether he does so or not is god’s business, not our’s.
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