Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Alan Shlemon continues his weekly guest series: "The answer to this question is easy. Yes, they’re going to hell. Homosexual behavior is offensive to God. But guess what? Liars are going to hell too. So are gluttons, drunkards, and adulterers. Do you see a pattern here? Everyone is going to hell.
There’s nothing special about people who engage in same-sex intercourse. Whether you go to heaven or hell has nothing to do with the kind of sin you’ve committed. It’s about moral culpability. Guilty people deserve to be punished and innocent people go free. That’s a basic principle of justice.
The problem with this question is its unspoken assumption: homosexuality is the worst sin. Or, at least it’s really, really bad. Some people think it’s so bad that it’s almost unforgivable. Violators go directly to hell. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.
Of course, homosexuality is not the worst sin as I’ve mentioned in a previous post. There’s no special rules that govern how to levy punishment on homosexuals.
Perhaps rephrasing the question would help: Can people with same-sex attractions (SSA) go to heaven? Yes, they can. Even if they’ve engaged in homosexual behavior, it’s still possible to be pardoned for their actions. This is no different than people who are selfish, steal, or commit adultery. All these crimes can be forgiven. People who commit them can be pardoned from the punishment they deserve.
Even though that’s good news, believers are still berated for their moral stance: “You think homosexuality is a sin? How can you say that? You are so mean and intolerant!” Ya, I get that…I don’t like it either. But Christians didn’t make up that rule. God did. It’s like yelling at the DMV employee for failing your driving test. He’s just telling you the rules of the road. He didn’t make them up. Blame someone else.
Besides, it’s not like God is pointing the finger just at homosexuals. God’s an equal opportunity judger. Some people who went to church last Sunday will be in hell. Some people who study the Bible will be there too. Why? Those people have also committed crimes that render them guilty. And going to church or reading the Bible doesn’t earn them a pardon.
We don’t get to make the rules for reconciliation. God does. So being a “good person” doesn’t matter. Seeking to be “sincere” is irrelevant. Trying to be “true to yourself” won’t help. It’s God’s kingdom: He’s the King and it’s His domain. He decides the terms for acquittal.
He also shows no partiality towards whom He pardons. A churchgoer has no advantage to a homosexual. Each has an equal chance at forgiveness no matter what they’ve done.
As I wrote in a previous post, God is willing to grant us “a pardon for our bad behavior….We can accept the pardon and go free or pay the penalty ourselves. It’s our choice. That means a man or woman can live a lifetime of homosexual behavior and still be acquitted.”
Although it sounds too good to be true, people who are exonerated know it’s anything but easy. The process involves an important trade: we give God a lifetime of allegiance in return for a pardon. That means we’re no longer the absolute arbiter of our life. Rather, we hand over that privilege to the judge who negotiated our freedom.
Fortunately, the judge is good and looks after us. He knows that even though we’re absolved from our crimes and freed from our punishment, justice has not been completed. Our guilt has been lifted, but needs to be placed on another. So, the judge makes arrangements with a willing substitute to bear the blame: His next of kin.
The substitute is agreeable to trade his innocence for our guilt even though a transaction like that isn’t normally allowed. In this instance, however, the substitute is able to make the trade because the judge sanctioned the deal. It’s also fair because He’s willing and He’s willing because He’s family. It’s a family affair.
Who wouldn’t take a judge up on that offer? Who wouldn’t be grateful to his next of kin for His trade? God has done everything possible to keep people out of hell. Some people just aren’t willing to accept the terms.
I’m not here to tell you who is going to hell or not. That’s not the point of this post, nor is it for me to decide. That’s God’s job.
But one thing we know, everyone is guilty, including me. There’s no special sin that damns some people to judgment while others get off easier. Therefore, everyone deserves to be punished. That includes homosexuals and heterosexuals (even metrosexuals). They might not be responsible for the same crime, but they’ll all get jail time because they’re guilty. That’s the bad news.
But everyone – even homosexuals – is given the same exact chance to avoid punishment. The same offer is made to everyone under the King’s domain, no matter what their offense. That’s why it’s called the “gospel” – it’s good news."
Think Christianly with Jonathan Morrow