S.M. Hutchens has written a fine editorial on the newest publication of Touchstone Magazine. (You may access his editorial on line for free here.)
Here is the main point of the piece:
“In 1 Corinthians 6, St. Paul gives vital clarification on a subject where there is much foggy thinking among those who ask questions like, ‘What should the Church’s approach to homosexual Christians be?’ The apostolic answer is that there is no such thing as a homosexual Christian. There are brethren who struggle with various temptations, to be sure, and may on occasion fall to them before rising again. But believers who resist homosexual lust are not ‘homosexuals.’ They are just Christians, as are the rest of us with our own besetting sins.”
Then what is there to do? He continues:
“In that baptism we become penitents, and as such divided from our sins. St. Paul tells us here that no penitent is to be named by, identified by, what he has abjured. Those injured people who have put on Christ have put on, in him, life, hope, healing of their diseases, and resurrection of their bodies in the image and likeness of the one who has saved them.”
What we do is celebrate the death of the old and the the life of the new in Christ as witnessed in our water baptism. Our sins do not define us for they have been put to death.
Compare this celebration to one recently adopted by a mainline denomination. In a paper on “Moral Discernment”, the focus is not on the celebration of the death of sin but on the celebration to read “Scripture in community.” One section reads:
“Faithful interpreters relying on the Holy Spirit may reach differing conclusions,and these differences may lead to conflict. Yet we celebrate the call to read Scripture in community and in conversation with followers of Christ around the world. We honor the distinctive criteria to which our respective traditions appeal, even as we wrestle with the different interpretations at which we may arrive. Through the leading of the Holy Spirit, God uses Scripture to strengthen the church’s moral vision, obedience, character, and its varied expressions of our common Christian vocation.”
Two different celebrations bring two different messages. The first celebrates an objective reality; the second celebrates different subjective voices in community with each other. The moral basis of the first is the reality of Christ’s death and resurrection. The moral basis of the second is the reality of different opinions and inevitable conflict. The first declares the reality of an objective moral vision to strive for. The second makes the reality of an objective moral vision, which it strives for, even more ambiguous, for we are all “varied expressions.”
Take a look at Hutchen’s article and enjoy.