Hey Ernest, I saw a certain video of a pastor commenting on the mass shooting in the gay club in Orlando. He said that the world now had 50 less paedophiles. Yes, he doesn’t support the extremism but he’s okay with the death of these homosexuals – after all, AIDS or some STD would kill them. He referred to Leviticus 20:13 as a key text that supports death of homosexuals and said that the state was to be the one carrying out the killings of the homosexuals in accordance with Leviticus 20:13. What do you think?
Hey bro, your message on Whatsapp really made me frustrated at how careless professing spiritual leaders can be. But before I tackle the issue, I must say that all scripture should be read in view of the rest of scripture. If you run with one verse as your life philosophy, you’re not far away from a cult. I must expressly state that The LORD does not rejoice in the death of anyone who is lost. See this in Ezekiel 33:11 Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord , I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?’ (NIV)
To the matter at hand. Whenever there is a word in the mainstream news about an immoral sexual behaviour or an incident related to it, many religious people would term it despicable and the general religious rhetoric reaction is “What is our society coming to?” This is the reaction that invigorates the media to solicit a panel of clergy, psychologists and celebrities on TV. This is the reaction that coerces parents to sit their kids down and awkwardly have a talk about the trouble your genitals can land you into. This is the reaction that compels modern-day zealots to Tweet in 140 characters or less their moral outrage towards society’s decadence. This is the reaction that informs many sermons on Sunday morning pulpits. But most importantly to note is that this is the reaction that covers a more subtle and dangerous reaction among religious folk. You see, those that are disgusted, disappointed, saddened, frightened, confused and even unmoved by the public immorality in question hardly notice this subtle second reaction in them. It is a reaction that lurks in the shadows. So silent and lethal like deadly carbon monoxide, sucking souls from innocently breathing victims yet camouflaged by our “righteous anger.” Beloved, it is the reaction of pride. Or in our case, sexual pride.
The pride reaction as far as sexual matters are concerned is hard to see but it is far from invisible. We all, oh so often, miss this latter reaction because it is a defence mechanism and a relief response to our current lifestyle which often is not righteous either in the eyes of the Living God. I beg to explain.
When a religious society realises that the number of homosexuals coming out of the closet is happening faster than you can change a light bulb, there is the normal outrage reaction. Then there is the pride reaction that is hardly voiced “At least all my 16-year-old-boy did was get a girl pregnant.”
A man is exposed publicly for having incestuous relations with his own daughter. And the pride reaction shows sweet relief to the married man who is having an affair with a campus girl who isn’t related to him. This man believes in a God but in light of that incest, he thinks of his own situation to be undoubtedly moral. He says to himself “At least I would never sleep with my own daughter.”
The statistics show that casual sex with multiple partners has horrendous health effects and the church-going girl having sex outside of marriage with only her boyfriend feels moral relief. Then there is her pride reaction where she believes her own situation to be better and more moral. She says to herself, “At least I’m faithful and committed to one sexual partner.”
A 21-year-old campus student is the cougars’ latest attraction. His friends who are from Christian families are watching porn but they feel relief when their friend’s sugar mommy is exposed. Then there is the pride reaction where they think of pornography to be a more moral route in comparison to sugar-mummies. “At least all we do is watch nudes.”
When the USA legalised gay marriages in all 50 states, a group of paedophiles came forward demanding for legal recognition and civil rights to marry children who consent to paedophile sex. They called it inter-generational love. Many in the LGBT community were filled with moral anger! How can paedophiles demand that! But that’s the overt reaction. The secret reaction is “How can God be mad at homosexuality when there are child rapists here?”
All these reliefs double up as defence mechanisms in light of the overt sexual immorality in the news. Beloved, I come to see as a principle, that discussions on sexual immorality do address the main overt arguments. But they never address the sublime moral superiority we feel from comparison to the immoral sexual act in the limelight. So masturbators feel like saints in the backdrop of strip-club members. Porn watchers feel like saints in the backdrop of rapists. Voyeurs feel like saints in the backdrop of cheating husbands. Faithful husbands who lust in their hearts at other women feel like saints in the backdrop of campus girls with sponsors. Virgins watching Scandal feel like saints in the backdrop of the red light district. Yet God looks at all of us from the virgin to the hooker, and only sees pride. This is the poison of belief in one’s own inherent goodness. It is also the poison of religion. And I believe the pastor is question is blindly trapped in it.
The perfect scriptural illustration to demonstrate this pride is from Luke 15, Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son. In the story we are told a man had two sons. The younger son demanded for his share of the wealth and soon after packed all his belongings and went off to a far country. He spent his wealth in wild living and living care free. But a famine in that foreign land brought him to humility and he returned home. Most people finish reading the parable there but Jesus tells us more. After the prodigal son returns home safe and sound, Jesus shifts focus to the elder brother and we see something in the elder brother that is similar to most of us. The elder brother is not happy that his brother is back. In fact, he refuses to go in and celebrate with the family. The father leaves the party to find out what’s the matter with the elder brother. This is when we see his real attitude. He is angry at his father and in verses 29 and 30 we see an accurate picture of who he really is.
Luke 15:29-30 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’
You can see this clearly in his attitude towards the work he did for his father in Luke 15:29. He parallels working for his father to slavery! His allegiance is not to the father but to himself. His overt reaction is covering his pride reaction. He even laments that the prodigal son has been celebrated when he has been with prostitutes yet he has been slaving and hasn’t ever been celebrated. He has public moral outrage! The salvation of the younger brother is an affront to him. Like the pastor you mentioned, he prefers the demise of younger-brother types.
Are you an elder-brother type, Beloved? The Gospel is God in Jesus lovingly living on earth and identifying with our weaknesses. Jesus never at once bashed us down and left us hopeless on account of our sin, like the elder brother. The Gospel is God in Jesus voluntarily dying to save us from His own wrath. Jesus is the Greater elder brother who left home to find his lost younger brother (us) and bring them home. The elder brother in the parable never at once considered leaving home to find his lost younger brother. The irony of Luke 15 is that both brothers are living morally different lives but neither of them really enjoy the father’s presence. However, humility restores one to the father while pride leaves the other in the cold outside. This kind of sexual pride comes to a halt when we see that Jesus came to save us, not just from our licentiousness, but also from our warped sense of righteousness. And both are sin.
Someone may say, “But Ernest paedophilia is just plain wrong! Rape is wrong! You can’t seemingly imply we ignore this basic truth.”
You’re right. It is wrong! And may we never call sin good! Even the scriptures say in Proverbs 14:34 that “Righteousness exalts a nation but sin is a disgrace to any people.” But you need to see this, Beloved, that moral outrage against paedophilia is only pure when we also have moral outrage towards pre-marital sex and watching nude scenes from Being Mary Jane, Empire and the like. If not, then our outrage is impure. Or shall I use a more theological term- hypocritical. You must understand that Jesus is compassionate to the sinner but he doesn’t allow the sinner to be comfortable in their sin. Repent or perish, Jesus warns us in Luke 13:3. In fact Luke 13 is a depiction of another murder massacre just like the Orlando Florida tragedy. Read Luke 13:1-5:
There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And Jesus answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem? I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” (NKJV)
Jesus received news just like the Orlando tragedy in Luke 13. And when he heard that a bloody massacre had happened, his concern was the victims’ eternity. It’s unfortunate that the Pastor’s concern was not the same as our Lord’s. Jesus cautions those who lived to hear about the massacre not think of themselves better but instead to humble themselves, repent and not perish. The Orlando tragedy is no different. It should take away our pride and bring us to repent, for Jesus implies to us that death’s schedule is unknown to us. This is Jesus wanting no man to perish in hell. This is the Gospel! This is the good news! This is why he died on that Roman cross. This is the purity God desires from us. But we can’t have that kind or purity unless we are truly born again and are constantly being humbled by Christ’s death for our sin- ours specifically! If you only see Christ dying for the world generically and not see him dying for you specifically, you won’t grasp the Gospel, your pride will be religiously unstoppable and everyone will notice it but you.
We like to define sin (especially sexual sin) as “what’s unnatural to me” and leave out whatever sexual escapade we ourselves are involved in. Sin is everything the Bible calls it to be and not even a virgin Mother Teresa and an unmarried Pope combined are innocent. But when others call out our sin we pull out the “don’t judge me only God will” card. When the preacher speaks against it we cry foul, “Don’t judge me because I sin differently.” But we get on high horses when we hear something else we deem morally outrageous.
When talking about sin, often our pride shifts the goal posts to our convenience and we don’t see it shifting because a rapist has our attention for molesting an innocent child. Jesus came not just for the paedophile but also for the chaste watching lustful reruns on Game of Thrones. And Jesus regards both as sin.
I know this as well because I was hooked on porn and masturbation for a very long time. One reason I remained in the addiction is self-justification. Whenever I saw the news showing stories such as, a man arraigned in court for bestiality. I thanked my “god” (definitely not the true Living God) that at least I wasn’t sleeping with horses and billy goats. Pride. I lusted after women in movies and masturbated but at least I was still attracted to women, right? Pride. I ogled at women’s bodies but at least I never slept with them, right? Pride. Before the LORD delivered me out of masturbation and pornography, he humbled me to realise that he was mad at ALL sin, not just the ones I found natural. And it was ALL sin that made him die for the human race on the cross, and my sin was also there killing him.
Beloved, the purity and beauty of the gospel is humility. The central character of the gospel is Jesus, the only sinless man. That a sinless man had no steaming moral outrage at a woman caught in adultery and neither did he endorse the adultery. That a sinless man allowed a prostitute to wash his feet in public with her hair and he still didn’t endorse the prostitution. That a sinless man was kind to a Samaritan woman who was married five times and was cohabiting with her boyfriend and still he didn’t endorse the cohabitation. Jesus withheld moral outrage against many of these sexual sins yet he did not endorse them at all. He was bold to rebuke sexual immorality yet humble enough to extend a way into heaven. It’s what Pastor Tim Keller calls bold humility! In fact Jesus’ reaction to these sins was the start of deliverance for those people. Our society does not need to be shocked by sin in order to have revival; instead we need to be staggered by grace for repentance to start.
“For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.” Matthew 21:32 (NIV)
Jesus tells us in this verse that our biggest public reaction should be repentance and belief. That does not mean we cannot speak against the sins the Bible mentions, but it calls us to examine ourselves on the inside before we respond on the outside. Beloved, public moral outrage often intensifies our stands against what we are morally opposed to but it stiffens our hearts against the very sins we are in bed with. I pray we will not lose our moral anger against the immorality in our culture but my deepest prayer is that the gospel will illumine our hearts to never consider ourselves safe in the backdrop of a Holy God. This is a call to biblical humility.