Whenever something that the Bible calls sin starts to grow in social acceptance, the response from many in the world, and even the Church, is usually threefold.
1. Sin is sin.
As in, everyone sins so what makes this particular sin any worse?
2. Love is what really matters.
As in, hey, as long as it’s all done in love, what’s the harm?
3. Jesus’ silence.
As in, Jesus never directly addressed this particular sin so what gives me the right to say anything about it?
What if we were consistent with these responses? What if we didn’t just use them when talking about things like gay marriage? What if I used these same supposedly loving and tolerant responses during one of the counseling sessions that I frequently have in my office.
It might look something like this.
Me: So what brings you in?
John: I’m a wreck. My whole life is falling to pieces. I need help.
John: Well, it’s a long story so I’ll just try to give you the high points, or I guess you could say the low points.
Me: Go ahead.
John: I’ve been married for ten years. My wife and I have two kids together. From the outside, our home looks perfect. But for the last five years I’ve been seeing another woman. I honestly don’t know if I really love my wife anymore. I don’t know what to do. I just know that I’m miserable.
Me: Stop right there. You say that you don’t love your wife anymore. What about the other woman? Do you love her?
John: Yes. I think I do. She makes me feel really happy when I’m around her.
Me: There’s your answer, John. It’s all about love. What’s the point in being in a relationship where there is no love? As long as the two of you love each other, don’t let traditions hold you down. This isn’t the 1950s. Divorce isn’t what it once was. Pursue the other woman.
John: I wasn’t expecting that answer from the pastor of a church.
Me: I’m flattered.
John: But it doesn’t stop there. Whenever I meet up with this other woman, we always end up doing drugs together. Meth, to be specific. I know it’s wrong but the two just seem to go so well together.
Me: You say that you know it’s wrong. How do you know that?
John: How do I know what?
Me: How do you know that meth is wrong?
John: Well, I’ve just always heard that doing drugs is bad. And I’m sure that Jesus doesn’t approve of me doing meth with a woman I’m not married to in the park across the street from my kids’ school.
Me: John, I’ve got great news for you.
John: I could use some good news.
Me: Jesus never said anything about doing meth with someone in the park across the street from your kids’ school. It’s not mentioned once in the Bible.
John: I guess I never really thought about it that way.
Me: Well, now’s a good time to start. Stop beating yourself up for something that Jesus never condemned.
John: But I feel so guilty all of the time.
Me: That’s the Church’s fault. Your guilt is nothing more than a result of you living by what the Church tells you is right and wrong.
John: But what about you? What do you say is right and wrong?
Me: Me?! Well, I’m just a sinner. And sin, as they say, is sin. Somewhere in the Bible, Jesus told us not to judge so I’m just going to take that approach. It’s not my place to make any kind of a judgement statement regarding your new love for this other woman and your fondness of meth. The main thing is that you are happy and that you know that Jesus wants what’s best for you. And what’s best for you is what makes you happy. Does that help?
John: I think so. I mean, I don’t feel guilty anymore.
Me: Great! That’s what it’s all about, John. How you feel.
Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter! Isaiah 5:20 (ESV)