All sins are equal, right?
In theory, sure. In reality, not so much. In a world where people from all walks of life with all different perspectives and values, some sins are tolerated at extreme levels, and some sins are detested at extreme levels. Both ends of the extreme require some compromise of what is universally accepted as Christ-like character, but extremes are extremes for a reason.
All sins are the same, but this one is different, I swear. I mean, it’s not, really, but it is. You know what I mean. We’re all the same, and we’ve all fallen short, but those who struggle with this sin struggle differently than the rest of us.
This sin is different because it becomes your identity. It might start off innocent enough, but overtime, there’s no hiding it. Everyone knows, whether you tell them or not. This is one of the few sins that is constantly visible. Some people keep the actions associated with this sin pretty private, and others share openly about it. If social media is any indicator of identity, a browsing through the social media of someone who struggles with this particular sin may make it pretty clear that it’s a significant aspect of their life. Is that what makes it different- that they talk about it shamelessly?
This sin is different because it’s not just a one time slip-up caused by a temptation that can be easily controlled through behavior modification. This sin is habitual, and those who struggle with it are affected by powerful urges every day. Some might even say it’s a lifestyle, because what else could it be? The urges are rooted in a natural, biological, basic human need, but that’s no excuse. The people who struggle with this sin think about satisfying this desire constantly, and make choices daily that either help them or harm them on their journeys to overcome the habitual bondage to this physical need and emotional impulse. More often than not, those daily decisions build up over time until they reach a point where it becomes clear that these people are habitually choosing this sin, and that’s what makes it different.
This sin is different because it’s a rejection of God’s creation purpose and a misuse of the human body. This sin requires those who struggle with it to abuse their physical bodies, which are temples of the Holy Spirit. God created our bodies for specific purposes, and the way this sin requires the body to be used is unnatural, no matter how good it feels and no matter what natural appetite it satisfies. This unnatural abuse of the body God gave us often leads to higher rates of diseases, chronic health issues, and earlier deaths among the demographic that struggles with this sin. Those who struggle with this habitual sin that becomes their physical identity cannot fully live enjoy life as God originally intended, and maybe that’s why it’s different.
This sin is different because we can’t really talk about it. It’s a sensitive issue, and we don’t want to offend anyone. The people who struggle with this issue are often bullied and mistreated, and we would never want to be a part of that. If we suspect someone might be struggling with this sin, we can’t really bring it up, because it would just be awkward. It would be personal and hurtful, and they might get defensive about it. Those who struggle with this sin are often caught in a cycle of guilt and shame, and not being able to talk about it just perpetuates the cycle. What do we do? We want to love them like Jesus, but loving them like Jesus means we can’t sit back and watch them continue to struggle with this sin and live this lifestyle. This sin is taboo, and we don’t know what to do about it, and maybe that’s what makes it different.
This sin is different because no one knows the cause. Some research suggests that it’s hereditary, that there may be something in our genetic makeup that makes us predisposed to struggle with this particular sin more than others. Many who struggle with this sin can pinpoint a traumatic event in their past that became the catalyst for their lifelong struggle. Some may suggest that those who struggle with this sin are using it as a coping mechanism for deep-seated mental issues, and if those mental issues could be properly addressed the struggle with this sin could be overcome. Some people who struggle with this sin highly value memories, and indulging in this sin enables them to remember past memories and create new ones. Whether this sin is rooted in nature or nurture, or any combination of the two, it doesn’t matter because sin is sin, and if The Bible says it’s wrong, it’s wrong. Modern research and understanding can influence human compassion and the way we treat people who struggle with this sin, and that might make this sin a little different.
This sin is different because it has something to do with culture. In American culture in particular, this sin is widely accepted. More and more people are struggling with this sin, and it is becoming more and more visible. Many of the advertisements we see condone, endorse and perpetuate this sinful behavior and become a stumbling block for many people. Although people who struggle with this sin face social rejection, it is considered socially unacceptable to tease them about it or call them derogatory names historically associated with this issue. There are several slang terms people use to refer to people who struggle with this sin, but they are generally discouraged, and teens use them indirectly to project negative associations onto unrelated people or issues. Many people argue that The Biblical standards regarding this particular sin are irrelevant because times have changed, culture has changed, and the way it is addressed in The Bible are not the ways it can be addressed today. Cultural understanding of this sin has shifted so much that many don’t consider it a sin at all, and those who call it a sin are often viewed as harsh, judgemental, unloving and unaccepting, and that’s what makes it different.
This sin is different because it’s one of the few sins where a line is drawn. There’s a bottom line for the kind of sin that’s acceptable among Christians, and especially among Christian leadership. Those in leadership are required to be positive role models and to live lives that demonstrate a commitment to living the way Jesus lived, rejecting habitual sin that influences identity and misuses God’s creation, no matter the cause or current level of cultural understanding and acceptance. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever, and if this sin was a sin in the original setting, context and situation presented by several Biblical authors throughout Scripture, it is still a sin today.
If we are going to treat everyone equally, and if we are in a position to extend love and grace, even when it’s personal, hurtful, awkward and uncomfortable, we have to be willing to share some hard truth with people we care about. No matter how good of a person they are and how well they can do ministry, a sin that is this different in this many ways cannot be overlooked, and the most loving thing we can do is remove them from Christian leadership until our Christlike tough love and grace shames them to the point of behavior modification. A different sin like this cannot be allowed to take root and demonstrate that it’s ok to make these choices daily.
Oh wait, gluttony is different enough to be accepted.