In John 10:10 Jesus promises His followers abundant life. This blog is about my life as His follower.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Can we love people and still be honest about sin?

Of course the flip side of this question could be "How can we show love and grace to people and NOT be honest about sin?"

I know, from personal experience, as well as from observing the lives of others, that sin hurts. That we can repent and God will forgive us, but sometimes our sin leaves scars. God hates sin because it hurts us.

None the less, the question still begs to be answered - As Christians, how can we in practical ways show love to people and still be honest about sin (in which these people may be participating)?

First off - you'll get no great all wise answer from me. So, if that's why you're reading, you can save yourself some time. But I'd be very interested in hearing your thoughts on this.

I've been thinking about this because I just read about how the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) decided last month to adopt policies that disregard the long-standing understanding of homosexuality as sin. Last month, during the triennial gathering of ELCA’s chief legislative body, delegates voted 559-451 to approve a resolution allowing gays and lesbians in “life-long, monogamous, same gender relationships” to be ordained.

I know, if you read this blog often you'll say something to the effect that I just said how I don't think pastors should preach on political matters from the pulpit. I still don't.

However, I think this is a far cry from ordaining people to be ministers in mainstream evangelical denominations that are involved in an ongoing lifestyle that the Bible defines as sin. There's a difference between being a participant in a local church, and being the pastor or in church leadership. Leadership is always held to a higher standard. If a pastor is involved in any kind of ongoing lifestyle of sin I think the pastor needs to step aside from the job as pastor for awhile to find out how God wants to bring healing into his life; any lifestyle sin - ongoing affair with another woman, addiction to drugs, etc. I emphasize lifestyle sin because all of us sin every day. But there really is a difference between someone having a mess up and choosing to all out live, on an ongoing basis, in sin.

I'm guessing that many people agree with me on this (but if you don't - please feel free to say so) but the harder question is how can we minister love and grace and yet have a standard of a righteous lifestyle?

I think the key to ministering love and still having a standard of a righteous lifestyle is in relationship. Participating in an ongoing relationship of love, honesty and commitment gives you the arena to speak truth to one another regarding sin. I'm speaking here about close, intimate, relationships. I do not think a person has very many of these relationships, but I do not think we can be healthy without having some. I think denominations and church organizations must ensure that their leadership have these kinds of ongoing relationships. God created us for relationship with Himself and one another.

So now I've shared my thoughts on this, what are yours?


JD Curtis said...

The ECLA is increasingly irrelevant. This is the same denomination that allowed late-term abortionist George Tiller to serve as an usher. Nobody is advocating violence here as a solution to the problem, however the ECLA's failure to address what is clearly a sin is inexcusable. It is no wonder that other denominations are becoming increasingly frustrated with their leadership and are instead placing themselves under the authority of more conservative denominations in Kenya or the Ivory Coast.

Father Dwight Longenecker (who I link to at my blog) left the Anglican church (in part) due to the lack of any sort of objective theology being taught there. As time goes by, how many other denominations will simply throw up their hands and try to go along to get along and abandon doctrine established long ago when people were more Biblically centered than they were secular?

JD Curtis said...

T, pardon me if it seems like I was ranting. :-)

Anonymous said...

I love how you are not afraid to say what you feel is right. Keep up the good work.

Tracy said...

JD, don't worry about "ranting" - I like it. Find it interesting that some of the Lutheran churches are placing themselves under the authority of the denomination in Kenya or the Ivory Coast (good for them!)

The really sad issue is that truth does not change. I want to always be looking to ensure that I'm not caught up in religion or Christian culture; but if it's Bible based beliefs (based on in context, several places in scripture), then I must continue in them, even if these beliefs aren't popular.

Looked up Father Dwight Longnecker's blog and liked it so much that I have it bookmarked.

JD Curtis said...

Father Dwight is pretty smart T. I first found out about him via this article entitled "Why Abortion and the Iraq War Are Not Equivalent". Check it out when you can, it's well worth the read.

Tracy said...

JD - I really appreciated that article. In fact, so much so that I put it over on "Blog posts worth reading today" over on the right side of my blog. I change these out every couple of days. Whenever I see a specific post that I find exceptionally worth reading I'll list it there. What I appreciate about this article of Longnecker is that it's an intelligent response to the age old moral question about how can you be against abortion and OK about war - Thanks for referring me to it.

Tracy said...

Just read an article ( about how the LCMS (Lutheran Church Missouri Synod - a 2.4 million-member denomination) is deeply concerned about this whole decision of the ECLA to allow non-celibate homosexuals to serve as rostered leaders. They've written a letter to the ECLA and are not withdrawing at this point, but are waiting until their triennial convention, scheduled to be held July 10-17, 2010, in Houston, to reevaluate their cooperative working arrangements with ELCA.

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