We talk a lot in the conservative church about sex, mostly of the homosexual variety. In fact, my church just did “the sex sermon” and almost the whole talk avoided adultery, fornication, lust, or the majority of the ways that God says people are prone to pervert what was intended to be a good thing.
The sermon focused on the idea that homosexuality is a way to exchange “intimacy for eroticism.” People cannot be “born homosexual,” we heard, because that’s not biologically useful. A good God, the sermon said, cannot create people who are designed to be unable to continue the species. Homosexuality is therefore a form of “relational brokenness.”
Who Else is ‘Born a Sinner’?
I might have had less trouble with the sermon if this form of “brokenness” had been put in context with other kinds of “relational brokenness.” If you think about “brokenness” that appears early in life, then almost all of us appear to be “born greedy” and “born aggressive” and “born selfish.” If you look at other kinds of relationships that “exchange intimacy for eroticism” then you have to consider sex before marriage, adultery, divorce and remarriage, and many other inappropriate relationships that permeate the Christian church.
In Leviticus 18, God has a lot to say on the subject. God seems fairly well convinced that “Thou shalt not commit adultery” and “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife” are not clear enough for us to understand. Here’s how this one passage weighs in about inappropriate sexual relationships, on sheer volume:
- Kinds of sexual relations to avoid: 17 (20 different kinds of relationships)
- Adulterous and incestuous relations to avoid: 13 (16 relationships)
- Homosexual or other sexual relations to avoid: 3 (4 relationships)
- Idolatrous sacrifices to avoid: 1
What Sexual Sins Bother God?
In detail, here’s the list of sexual sins God lays out in Leviticus 18.
Don’t have sex with:
- Your mother
- Your stepmother
- Your sister
- Your stepsister
- Your niece by your son
- Your niece by your daughter
- Your stepsister (again)
- Your paternal aunt
- Your maternal aunt
- Your uncle’s wife (a different paternal aunt)
- Your daughter-in-law
- Your sister-in-law
- Both a woman and her daughter
- Both a woman and her niece by her son
- Both a woman and her niece by her daughter
- Both a woman and her sister while the woman is living
- Any woman during her menses
- Your neighbor’s wife
- Any man with any man
- Anyone with an animal
God also adjures Israel not to give children to the foreign God Molek.
That’s a pretty hefty list. What is most remarkable to me is how little of it focuses on the one sin of homosexuality that we, as a church, are prone to discuss.
Why Don’t We Discuss the Sins We Practice?
If we preached from this text, we would speak four times as much about inappropriate relations between men and women as we do about the kinds of inappropriate relations that juice our broadcasters, fundraisers, and Christian politicos. Perhaps then we would recognize the relationship between burgeoning adultery and divorce in the church and a world that can’t discern the Bride of Christ.
So here’s my takeout. We’re all born sinners. It’s time to stop focusing on only one or two kinds of sin and begin worrying about the ones that are wrapped around our own lives and churches.
He came to set us free from sin. Let us set aside what so easily entangles.
Painful aside: A couple weeks ago, my husband played at the wedding reception of someone with whom we had apparently had lunch a couple times three years ago. I’d completely forgotten the man. The lunches had come at a time when he was having marriage problems. He and his wife had some of the same issues my husband and I were dealing with at the time and he was getting fed up. I obviously chose to forget someone who, unlike my own faithful husband, was considering walking out because “in challenges” was too much. Now I can’t forget his repeated expressions of gratitude for “helping him” decide to leave and find an easier partnership.
This is not marriage as God gave it to us, friends. A public thank you to my husband for choosing to deal with our challenges instead of walking away.