Many, though not all, of the sins I will mention in this series are not infrequently committed by Christians. In the past, when I’ve brought up these kinds of sins, I’ve sometimes been accused of harboring a deep-seated hatred of Christians. As is probably obvious to everyone who actually knows me, nothing could be further from the truth. I think these accusations might come from people whose thinking has been deeply affected by a mentality of culture war, and who see my concerns as a form of friendly fire that inhibits an effective attack on the enemy. I don’t think much of such a paradigm, especially given that our true enemy is not of this world and that we should be at war with all forms of sin, especially our own sin.
So why do I actually choose to spend so much time focusing on the sins of Christians? It can basically be summed up the same way Matt Jones discusses his reasons for coming out in Going Public, Part 2—“I love the Church too much to let it love LGBTQ people so poorly.” I think that some of the ways many Christians have approached sexual identity issues have been incredibly detrimental to the witness of the Church, both to sexual minorities and to the culture at large.
A big reason I care about the sins of Christians is that they are my family in a way that unbelieving sexual minority people are not. In my biological family, I have a role in constructive criticism that I don’t have with strangers. I see myself as having a similar role in my spiritual family. In addition, just as I expect my biological family or close friends to listen to what I have to say, I expect my fellow Christians to listen as well. I’ve found that those Christians who know me personally often report learning a lot from what I’ve shared, including when I criticize some of their attitudes or actions, and even those that don’t know me as well are likely to respond the same way if they recognize our shared faith. This is similar to what Paul talks about in 1 Corinthians 5:12, in that it is my role to judge Christians rather than unbelievers.
I think that part of why Christians are often so receptive to what I have to say is that their sins towards sexual minority people are genuine blind spots. Just as I appreciate when others point out my own blind spots so that I can pursue holiness, I think it is helpful for me to point out the blind spots of my brothers and sisters. I do find that most Christians haven’t put nearly as much thought into their responses to sexual minorities as most sexual minority people have into their sexual ethics. This is to be completely expected, since sexual ethics have a much bigger impact on the lives of sexual minority people than treatment of sexual minorities has on the lives of most Christians. It does mean, however, that I find it more fruitful to spend time focusing on the sins some Christians commit against sexual minority people than I do focusing on the sexual sins committed by some sexual minority people.
So for my readers who are Christians, I ask you to keep my motivations in mind and to try to use what I write in order to help you evaluate your own hearts, rather than getting defensive too quickly.
Some of the sins I am going to discuss in this series are often committed by those who are not Christians. In some cases, the nature of the sins are such that I would seriously question a person’s profession of faith on their basis. In other cases, the sins I am addressing are common to both believers and unbelievers.
These sins are still very important to address, even when committed by unbelievers. For one, it wouldn’t be very consistent to address the sins of unbelieving sexual minority people without also addressing the sins of unbelievers against sexual minority people. But more importantly, as Christians we are called to fight injustice and to bring redemption to a world marred by sin. We are not called to address only injustice perpetrated by believers, nor are we called to bring redemption only to the results of our own sins. So I will try to address sins whether or not it is commonly Christians who commit them.
Other posts in this series:
- Part 1: Introduction
- Part 3: Sins of Word and Deed
- Part 4: Sins of Omission
- Part 5: Sins of the Heart
- Part 6: How Doctrine Matters
- Part 7: Of Logs and Specks
Jeremy Erickson is a Ph.D. student in Computer Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He previously studied Mathematics and Computer Science at Taylor University in Upland, IN.
I really appreciate this conversation! A technical suggestion, though: is it possible to tweak the template so the text width is a bit closer to two-thirds of the reading pane? The right-hand navigation items could be narrower.
would love for you to define “sin” as well..
I’m using a pretty standard evangelical notion of sin – basically anything that violates God’s commands under the New Covenant. As Matthew 22:34-40 states, it really all boils down to love of God and neighbor. However, the rest of Scripture is also necessary to determine what that looks like practically.
If you’re looking for more concrete examples of specific sins, keep reading. The next few posts address that.
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