On December 7, 2010, V Gene Robinson, the IX Bishop of New Hampshire, in the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire, and a visiting Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, Washington, D.C., wrote a guest column (second of a series) for the Washington Post entitled ‘Homosexuality in Leviticus’.

It’s a highly persuasive piece of writing — as are the comments — for those who are biblically illiterate.  I’ll just give you a brief excerpt — warning for readers who are parents with young children:

Oddly enough, we have relaxed these “rules” against a man “spilling his seed” through masturbation and birth control, yet we hold onto “a man shall not lie with another man as with a woman” as if it were eternally binding on believers. Such an inconsistency simply does not make sense.

Given these changes in our modern understandings and contexts, it is no longer appropriate for us to condemn men who have intimate sexual relationships with other men based on this proscription in the Leviticus Holiness Code. Either all of these proscriptions must be tossed out as binding on us, or they all must be adhered to. Biblical “literalists” cannot have it both ways, picking and choosing which proscriptions are still appropriate.

Hmm.  Interesting.

Even if ‘we’ — how? who? culturally? mainstream Christianity? — have relaxed our views on sexual congress outside of marriage, has Holy Scripture?  It’s not up to us to pick and choose our sins, is it?

Throughout both the Old and New Testament, from Leviticus through to Revelation — including Jesus’s words in the Gospels — we are reminded that sexual sin in general still holds. Jesus had strong words on sins which can condemn us for eternity.  This is what He said in Mark 7:20-23 (emphases mine):

20And he said,  “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

St Paul had this to say in Romans 1:26-27 and 1:32:

26For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error … 32Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

And in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 and later in the chapter in verses 17 through 20:

9 Know you not that the unjust shall not possess the kingdom of God? Do not err: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, 10 Nor the effeminate, nor liers with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor railers, nor extortioners, shall possess the kingdom of God …

17 But he who is joined to the Lord, is one spirit. 18 Fly fornication. Every sin that a man doth, is without the body; but he that committeth fornication, sinneth against his own body.  19 Or know you not, that your members are the temple of the Holy Ghost, who is in you, whom you have from God; and you are not your own ? 20 For you are bought with a great price. Glorify and bear God in your body.

Then, we have Jude 1:7:

7 The people of Sodom and Gomorrah and the towns around them also did evil things. They gave themselves over to sexual sins. They committed sins of the worst possible kind. They are an example of those who are punished with fire. The fire never goes out.

A number of Christians — regardless of their orientation — have been guilty of serious sexual sin, particularly today.  It is up to us, with God’s grace, to repent. This isn’t simply a matter of saying ‘sorry’ but of turning our lives around (the true meaning of ‘repentance’).

Yes, we are called to love each other.  Love does not mean acceptance of biblically-defined sin.  Love means urging our brothers and sisters in Christ to renounce deadly sin, that which deprives us of eternity with Him.

We must guard against reading these articles and thinking, ‘Gee, a bishop said so; it must be true’.  I’m criticising myself here, too, because a few years ago, I would have said exactly that.

Read the Bible along with a good commentary.  Our ‘acceptance world’, to borrow a phrase from Anthony Powell, is a recent one.  The Bible is the unchanging, inerrant Word of God.  There is nothing in Scripture saying to modify it as we move through the ages!