Before I looked to see what the next section was of Corinthians, I was curious, given the recent events, if it would be the passage that talks about the sinfulness of homosexuality. As the country talks about “what it means” in regards to the Supreme Court decision about DOMA, we stumble upon what the Apostle Paul had to say about homosexuality. Indeed, here it is.
9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, 10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.
It intrigues me how similar our society is to the society that was seen in Corinth. Fornicators: one who has sex with multiple people. Idolaters: on who worships anything other than the one true God. Adulterers: those who have sex with those outside of marriage or simply those who do not have faith in God (unfaithful). Effeminate: a male prostitute, usually one who is a younger boy or dresses as a woman. Homosexual: one who “abuses himself” by having sex with another man. These were all the things that were happening in Corinth as a result of the presence of Aphrodite’s temple. Paul continues. Thieves: not just those who steal money but more importantly, false teachers who use their religious position to make money. Covetous: one who is constantly seeking “more” whether it is material things or relationships with others. Drunkards: one who is always intoxicated with something (wine, drugs, etc). Revilers: one who criticizes in an abusive or angrily insulting manner. Swindler: one who extorts and steals money.
Homosexuality is a sin.
Absolutely. But we must not forget the rest of the list. Do we revile against homosexuals while in secret we are thieves and drunkards? Do homosexuals claim to be Christians: followers and believers of God the father, Jesus the son, and the Holy Spirit? How much do we idolize people and things in our lives? Everyone has coveted something they didn’t have and may have even worked hard to get it with envy and lust for something that really doesn’t matter. It really saddens me when I witness people judging homosexuals and they don’t even realize that they are committing sins as well; they are all lumped together.
All of these are chasing after the world.
After reading through Ecclesiastes and now through Corinthians, which had to be written as a result of not heeding Solomon’s words, I see how each of these elements that Paul lists is a result of desiring worldly things. Lusting after people or things, desiring power and money, even cutting those down who you don’t think are worthy of something are all direct results of brokenness and sinful hearts. We are all guilty of sin as a result of worldliness, regardless of what we call it.
There is hope.
Paul tells his audience, “some of you did these very things,” but through the salvation of Christ, they no longer we in that slavery of sinfulness. This is exactly what it is because none of those things satisfy for the long term. In the moment and short term they might seem revolutionary, exciting, and “exactly what we are looking for” but the reality is that all of these activities are a result of us acting outside of our design.
I hope we don’t lose sight of what Paul is getting across here. He isn’t talking about pointing our fingers at those who do these things (that’s reviling, remember?). But he is also saying that these things are not the fruit of the spirit. They are not evidence of a changed life living for and following Christ. Anyone who tells you differently needs to read their bibles more, especially this chapter. Paul instructs us many times about how to handle people caught in these lives of sinfulness. Does this mean they can’t come to church? Does this mean you shouldn’t associate with them? He said in chapter 5, 10 I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. 11 But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? 13 But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.
How far have we fallen from this? Churches are not only proclaiming homosexual Christians but also letting them be supposed leaders! Pastors are tickling our ears so they can boost their pride with higher attendance and filling their pockets. Folks are being misled into what salvation looks like and aren’t experiencing the freedom of Christ. We either have ridiculous pride and let nobody hear the Gospel of Christ unless they act a certain way or we tell them that their lives won’t change much but at least they will “feel good” about themselves. How we have distorted the message!
What about your life is contradictory in relevance to this passage? How have you pointed the finger at one sin but ignored your own? How have you forgotten that you were once caught in the same slavery? How much do we forget that these are the very people that Jesus hung out with so He could show them what real freedom and joy looked like?