The following post is the 3rd of a 5 part series of posts on “Frequently Asked Questions About Homosexuality?” In this 3rd post I will be answering the question “Is Homosexuality Worse Than Other Sins?” If you would like to see the other questions addressed in this series of posts, then just click the links below:
I originally wrote the content of these posts when I was asked to address these questions at a summer youth camp. The intended purpose of these posts are to help Christians who already have a firm conviction about the authority of Scripture. I want them to better understand what the Bible teaches about homosexuality. So my hope is that these truths will help instruct Christians who want to share the gospel with the homosexuals they know.
Is Homosexuality Worse Than Other Sins?
Out of all the questions in this series, I tend to think this one might be the hardest to answer because I believe there are two right answers. In short, I believe the answer to this question is YES and NO.
Let me first explain in what ways the answer is NO. In order to do this I think we need to step back and ask this question about all sins. Another way to phrase the question might be to ask, “Is there a biblical perspective that teaches all sins are equal?”
Consider these passages of Scripture:
“For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it.”
For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.”
And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation,
These passages teach us that in terms of our vertical relationship with God, any one sin makes us guilty before God and deserving of eternal punishment. Even one “small sin” in Genesis 2 resulted in death for all (Genesis 2:17).
One of the ways Christians understand sin is not by judging how bad the action is, but who the action was done against. We know that every sin we have committed is first and foremost a sin against God. As David said in Psalm 51 after clearly sinning against Bathsheba and Uriah he confessed:
“Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. It is among a list of other sins.”
All sins are ultimately sins against God and this is what makes all them so terrible and deserving of eternal punishment, even the “little white lies.”
It is very important in our sharing the gospel to homosexuals that we understand this biblical perspective. There is certainly a sense to which homosexuality is not any worse than other sins and so we should not always make it sound like it is.
“Do You Think I Am Going To Hell?”
A few years ago one of my homosexual co-workers asked me very directly, “Phill, do you think I am going to hell because of my homosexuality? Everyone in my family is a Christian, we all grew up going to church, and now they all tell me that I am going to hell because I am gay. What do you think?”
What a wonderful opportunity to share the gospel with this co-worker and by God’s grace I immediately responded to her this way:
“I think it might be helpful for you understand that according to the bible we are all going to hell apart from Jesus Christ’s death on the cross.”
I looked her in the eyes and told her that my heterosexual sins of looking lustfully at women are going to send me to hell too!
I then shared the gospel and said, “However, God in his mercy sent his son Jesus to die a death that me and my sexual sins deserved. Only Jesus lived on this earth and never once sinned sexually. He lived the perfect life that you and I should have lived and now he offers us eternal life in heaven if we we put our faith in him alone. So, yes I do believe your family is telling you the truth that you will go to hell for being a homosexual and I will got to hell for being a sexual sinning heterosexual, but Christ blood washes away all those sins if we repent of these sins and trust in him!”
My co-worker did not turn and put her faith in Christ right then and there, but I believe by responding to her question in that way I opened up the door for many more great conversations. She even started studying the bible about what it had to say about homosexuality.
What I did was try and level the playing field and help her see that we are all in the same sinking ship. We all have different sins and struggles throughout our life, but we are all headed down to an eternal punishment if God does not reach down and rescue us.
Guilty, Guilty, N0t-Guilty, Guilty….
Last year I had a friend tell me about a wonderful opportunity he had to share the gospel with someone he was working with. He told me that he took a similar approach that I did, but I think he did it even better because he opened up God’s word to 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 and read it to his co-worker.
“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. 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.”
He then told him, ”I want you to notice a few things about homosexuality in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11. First, notice that it is a sin. Second, notice that it is in a list of sins and all of them will make someone guilty before God so that they will not inherit the kingdom of God. Third, I want you to know that when I read this list I have to sadly admit that I am guilty of almost all of these sins. I have been sexually immoral. I have been an idolater. I have been an adulterer. I have not practiced homosexuality, but I have been greedy. I have stolen. I have gotten drunk…. But the last thing I want you to see from this passage is that no matter what sins we have committed we can be washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
I think my friend did a wonderful job of being both humble and bold as he shared the gospel to his co-worker. I loved that he opened up the Scriptures and walked through this passage like this. Oh, that many more of us would follow his example and that God would give us all many opportunities to share the gospel in this way!
We need to help homosexuals and those who are dealing with same-sex attraction understand that this is just one sin among the list of many. We need to help them not feel like it is the unforgivable sin. We need to help them see that it is one of many sexual distortions of God’s original design just like adultery, pornography, bestiality, pedophilia, and fornication are all distortions. We need to teach homosexuals what it truly means to be a human and treat them like they are one. We need to make sure that we do not act like we are homophobe or afraid to be around them. We need to never lose hope for them because the gospel has the power to save them just like it has the power to save you from all your sin!
Are Some Sins Worse Than Others?
So we have seen that there is one sense in which homosexual sins are not worse than any other sin because all sins make us guilty before God. We have also seen how knowing this truth can really help us in how we should humbly and boldly share the gospel. Now we need to turn to the other perspective and see in what ways some sins are worse than others.
The more you think about it I really believe everyone already believes and understands that this is true. Isn’t murdering someone worse than stealing a candy bar from a store? Isn’t it worse for someone to actually commit adultery then someone lusting after a person who is not their wife?
Some sins are worse than others in that they have more harmful consequences in our lives, in the lives of others, and in our personal relationship with God. All of our experiences confirm this to be true, but we should not base our beliefs on experience alone. Scripture also confirms this truth in various places. Consider these passages:
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.”
Jesus says there are weightier matters of the law. It was certainly good for the Pharisees to tithe their spice rack, but isn’t acting justly more important? Jesus emphatically says, YES!
Then he said to me, “Son of man, lift up your eyes now toward the north.” So I lifted up my eyes toward the north, and behold, north of the altar gate, in the entrance, was this image of jealousy. And he said to me, “Son of man, do you see what they are doing, the great abominations that the house of Israel are committing here, to drive me far from my sanctuary? But you will see still greater abominations.” And he brought me to the entrance of the court, and when I looked, behold, there was a hole in the wall. Then he said to me, “Son of man,dig in the wall.” So I dug in the wall, and behold, there was an entrance.And he said to me, “Go in, and see the vile abominations that they are committing here.” So I went in and saw. And there, engraved on the wall all around, was every form of creeping things and loathsome beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel. And before them stood seventy men ofthe elders of the house of Israel, with Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan standing among them. Each had his censer in his hand, and the smoke of the cloud of incense went up. Then he said to me, “Son of man, have you seen what the elders of the house of Israel are doing in the dark, each in his room of pictures? For they say, ‘The Lord does not see us, the Lordhas forsaken the land.’” He said also to me, “You will see still greater abominations that they commit.” Then he brought me to the entrance of the north gate of the house of the Lord, and behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz. Then he said to me, “Have you seen this, O son of man? You will see still greater abominations than these.”
As the prophet Ezekiel is explaining the different sins in the house of Israel he continues to use this phrase “greater abominations.” He is saying that Israel’s sins are bad, but these sins are even worse and these other sins are even worse than those.
“Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.”
The idea that there will be greater strictness in God’s judgment shows that some sins like false teaching are worse than other sins. It would be one thing for you to believe a false teaching. It is wrong and sinful to believe lies about God and his word, but it would be even worse to start teaching people in your church those lies.
Isn’t this why Jesus said what he did in Matthew 18?
“Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” (Matthew 18:5-6)
One more example of how the bible teaches some sins are worse than others is if we read the through the Old Testament laws and notice that some sins would be punished with death and other punishments would not have not been so severe. In fact, there is a category of punishments against sins that have been committed unintentionally. If you break the law you are always a law breaker, but if you break the law on accident or because you did not know it was wrong then God had less severe punishments for those people.
In sum, I think we need to understand that some sins are “greater” in the sense of being more hateful toward God, some sins bring God more dishonor to God’s name than others, some bring greater harm to other people, some express more defiance to God’s word, some are done in public, or some are being committed by those who have authority over others.
How Is Homosexuality Worse Than Other Sins?
If we can all agree that both our own experiences and the bible teach us that some sins are worse than others, then we need to finally ask the big question. Is homosexuality worse than other sins? If it is, how so?
I do believe the act of having sex with the opposite sex is worse than other sins. The homosexual lifestyle has been proven to have terrible affects on many homosexuals physically and emotionally. Homosexuals have been linked to being at greater risk for depression, suicide, anal cancer, STD’s, and in general have a shorter life expectancy (a male homosexual’s life expectancy is around 40 years old and a male heterosexual’s life expectancy is around 70 years old). In addition to these things homosexuals will not be able to fulfill the cultural mandate to be fruitful and multiply the earth through procreation.
When I hear about these things my heart longs to see my homosexual friends not experience any of them. I would hope that anyone who truly loves someone would not want them to die at age 40 or put themselves at greater risk for so many terrible physical and emotional pains. I would hope even non-Christians would recognize that it is loving to try and help people not make decisions that would potentially destroy their lives or even end them.
Another way that homosexuality is worse than other sins is that there is an entire movement of people who are joining together to teach and promote ungodly beliefs and behaviors. We have seen gay pride parades where homosexual behavior is not just being practiced but it is being flaunted. We have seen homosexuals identify themselves by this lifestyle and encourage others to join them in seeing this as part of their human identity.
In all these ways we can see how homosexuality is worse than some other sins. I am certainly not trying to say that it is the worst of all sins or that as Christians this needs to be the one we fight against more than any other. In fact, I believe divorce is hurting marriages, families, and the church more than homosexuality or same-sex marriage is.
Some sins are worse than others in a horizontal and day-to-day perspective. All sins no matter how “big or small” make us guilty before God in our vertical relationship with God. Homosexuality has some pretty terrible consequences that may not happen to every practicing homosexual, but because these consequences are so frequently experienced among homosexuals we should take this sin more seriously than others.
Lastly, we should humbly and boldly proclaim the gospel by making clear our own sexual failures and sins. We should preach to ourselves and others the power of the blood of Jesus to cover all sins, especially homosexuality.