I’ve been lucky in my life. I’ve been pretty good at describing how I came to believe things, came to think a certain way, came to be who I am. I am pretty excellent at describing things. Corner me about nearly anything and I’ll give you a pretty decent run down of my beliefs and the justifications behind them.
All but one. Try as I might, I cannot straight up answer what my position of homosexuality and the church is. I can tell you what my position on the division it creates in our church, I can tell you a bunch of other issues that I think we should focus on, I can tell you what I think about divorce compared to homosexuality.
But, try as I might, I have a hard time coming out and saying what I think about homosexuality.
There are a lot of reason why this is, but that doesn’t justify me cowering away and changing the topic whenever the issue comes up. I will admit it, on this issue, I am a coward. I can’t even say, without qualification, what my beliefs are. And I don’t see that changing soon.
As I started the series, I was looking for a way to flush out what I believed. I think my goal was to eventually get to a point where I could talk about my beliefs on homosexuality and have built a framework to justify them. That was my goal subconsciously.
Then Mark Achtemeier had to go and publish a book that describes the issue better than I ever could, thus nullifying my efforts. I mean, yes, he is a brilliant scholar, much more mature in his faith than I am, and is much more eloquent than I am, but it just completely destroyed my initial hope for this series.
I can’t be mad at it, but I can immaturely shake my fists in frustration.
I realized, as I was reading this book, that my focus was much broader. My complaints with how the church is handling this issue don’t get addressed in his book. My complaints with how we view sin didn’t get addressed in his book. There was a lot that he focused on that were immediately relevant to issue at hand – homosexuality – but doesn’t go into the struggle we have with how we interpret scripture.
So, my goal, after reading his book and realizing he did everything that I wanted to do on the subject, only better, became to actually analyze how we view sin and how we treat sin/sinners. Yes, I will have to address the issue of homosexuality, and eventually be less of a coward by actually stating, publicly, what I believe, but that is no longer my goal. My goal now, in its entirety, is to analyze sin and find a definition of sin that is both freeing and convicting.
I will use multiple facets to do this. I will find a definition that fits with scripture and the teachings of Christ (I kind of already have, but I will flesh that out more), test that definition against Old Testament and New Testament teachings, describe the implications of it, and then use it to analyze current debates on what is actually sinful.
The goal is to change how one can look at sin. I want to change the focus from legalistic following of the law to actually recognizing being dead to the Law and alive in Christ. My goal is to convict us of our failings and our sins while allowing us to feel free from the bondage of sin because of Christ and because we are no longer bound to the Law.
My goal is not to be controversial. I will be – I can’t avoid it with the topic at hand – but I’m not shooting for that. I don’t care if I’m edgy or not, I simply want to think radically about this and find a truer definition of what actually constitutes a sin than we currently have. Try as I might, I don’t see a way to look at sin that is completely consistent and can’t be attacked for “cherry picking” or for ignoring the sovereignty of scripture.
If Christians are to claim authority, are to claim true faith, and are to have moral standard, there needs to be a consistency in teaching. My goal is to offer a consistency in the teaching of sin.
As I add to this series, and as you read it, I hope you will comment. I do have an education in theology, but I am far from an expert, and my views are far from deeply mature. I am just a guy with training and thinking ability who wants to flesh out this idea and find something useful from within it.
It’s going to be a long, difficult, but hopefully fulfilling ride for all of us.