Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Proud spirit

The Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart was offended by a sermon given at his aunt’s funeral:

The preacher used 1 Corinthians chapter 6 verses 9 and 10 to call on those befitting one of those “behaviors” to “transform” their “mess” of a life by washing themselves in the blood of Christ. He talked about how the word of God “turned a pimp into a preacher” and “turned a prostitute into a prophet.” He said that he came to give hope that “if you are stuck in some stuff there is a God who will bring you out.” Using his own life as an example, the minister told the congregation, “If God can approach me and clean me up and give me goals, then he can change you.” He implored “anyone who needs a dramatic transformation in his life” to stand up. And then he said, “I believe there is someone here who wants to drastically change his life.”

Capehart, who is gay, objects to the pastor’s implied double-pronged assertion that “homosexuality” is a sin and that “homosexuality” is a choice. Capehart says his “homosexuality” is as immutable as the color of his skin. But what is homosexuality, this category that claims to represent the infinitely varied sexual experiences and proclivities of millions of people? Capehart has the answer. He cites former Methodist pastor Jimmy Creech:

Behavior is something one does on occasion; sexual orientation is someone’s inescapable identity. A gay person who is not sexually active is still gay. Sexual orientation is as fundamental and constant as one’s DNA. Unlike behavior, which one can choose to stop, no one can stop being gay or lesbian — any more than someone could choose to stop being straight.

There’s that word, identity. In short, homosexuality could mean anything. To the modern way of thinking, all that matters is homosexuality is an identity, the sacrosanct, inviolable core of being.

True, no one can choose to stop being a sinner. Man’s propensity to sin has pretty much been the status quo since the dawn of time. What has changed, though, is that God, through Jesus, has offered us a way out of our identity in sin.

The Apostle Paul lists several sins in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. Fornication is one of them. Under Judaic law, lying with a man was a severe crime that came with a severe punishment. The law offered no spiritual corrective to lust. It merely required that we abstain from sin.

Then Jesus came along with something better than the law: the transformative power of Grace. God still tells us not to sin, but He adds, “Let My love fill you, and you won’t want to sin.”

In my experience, once I understood that, the only barrier that remained was identifying sin, recognizing the harm it was doing in my life, and wanting out of it. It’s that simple. If Capehart’s description of his aunt’s funeral is correct, the pastor presented it that way. Good on him.

But Capehart resisted. “The pastor’s every word was an affront to who I am.” That’s the point.

“The Devil, the proud spirit, cannot endure to be mocked.” –Thomas More

It is a testament to the sin of pride that a blind eye can be turned to so obvious a truth as the flawed nature of man. Capehart says he doesn’t speak for the whores, drunkards, adulterers, and thieves also referenced in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, but from his perspective there’s no reason he shouldn’t. Why should their sins be treated any differently? Are not envy of others’ riches and dependence on alcohol as innate and immutable to them as homosexuality is to him?

Capehart deliberately avoids these questions because he fears tipping his hand that—duh—sin exists, which wrecks his contrived case against the pastor’s “bigotry.”

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