Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Down Side of Anti-Sin Crusades

In today's Christianity, if you want to, you can very easily be a crusader against sin in the Public square. You can take up the cause against Abortion - something that is quite vile. You can take up the battle against Homosexuality and laws there about. Every few years there will be a call for a boycott of some place because they sell girlie magazines. I'm sure there are more active today...

In fact, American Christianity, especially since Finney and his focus on social change, has often been on one Crusade or another. You had the anti-abolitionists, you had the women's suffragists, you had the prohibitionists -- all fighting against an "evil" in society, all out to stop vice out there.

Now, for those of you who fight such fights with passion and zeal, don't take what I write here too harshly - but just as a friendly warning.

So often we define something grand and big as "sin". There - that is sin. Abortion - bad. Homosexuality - bad. Porn - bad. And they are... but that doesn't make other sin "good", or the things that tempt you less bad.

And here is the rub, here is where Satan will try to take down the most ardent crusader -- yes, you fight against Abortion. It does kill. But our Lord says that if you hate your brother, you are guilty of the same thing. Now, does your zeal against Abortion, which you do not do, let you ignore the hatred and anger you have in your heart? Or do you crusade against homosexuality or images, forgetting that the lusts of your own heart are just as wicked.

This is the danger - we can say "that" is bad, and we can be so intense that we forget or diminish self-examination. We can think of ourselves as a champion against sin instead of simply a poor, miserable sinner.

Christ our Lord says, "Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,' when you yourself do not see the log that is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck that is in your brother’s eye." Luke 6:41-42

This isn't addressed only to those really, really bad sinners who have big sins. This is addressed to each of us. My own sin is always bigger and more obvious than my neighbor's. I should be much more aware of my own lack, the ways in which I fail, than I am of my neighbor. And I am to constantly confess my sin, constantly receive forgiveness. Then you can... not fight a crusade against your wicked neighbors, but seek to show love and care and compassion for them, by aiding and defending them from sin.


Cheryl said...

I deeply appreciate what you're saying. The sin of homosexuality is really no different from the sin of heterosexual fornication, is it? But I think the reason Christians are often motivated to zero in on certain sins is that they have been turned in to societal "rights" that others see fit to advocate for. I don't walk around championing my "right" to commit adultery or gossip or do whatever other nasty thing I might feel like doing, whereas those who advocate for abortion or homosexuality or pornography actually resort to claiming that there is nothing wrong or sinful involved--that it is all just about their personal freedom--and even go so far as to tout the benefits and advantages of their so-called "rights" to the evil thing in question.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

This is the thing we must remember in whatever we oppose - there are things that we need to oppose... but not because those who do them are "evil" and we are good... but because sin is wicked and vile and traps people, and only the Truth will set them free.

Kathy said...

1 John 5:16-17

New International Version (NIV)

16 If you see any brother or sister commit a sin that does not lead to death, you should pray and God will give them life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that you should pray about that. 17 All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...


You probably need to explain why you are quoting that verse.... I don't know why or what point you are trying to establish.

Kathy said...

Pastor Brown,

Just trying to make the point that not all sin is equal. Some sins kill the grace in your soul (mortal sins) and some chip away at that grace making you more susceptible to doing a mortal sin (venial sins).

Sage said...

Good and salient points from the article. I have always been hesitant to blast away at certain sins because of the knowledge that all sin is sin, no matter the sin.

On this side of the grave, we'll never get it out of our systems. I used to think that a person who had an abortion was a murderer, until it was made clear to me that in my heart when I want to run over the slow idiot on the highway, I am just as murderous as they are.

There are no big sins, only sinful people who pray to God to change them into the likeness of the Son a bit more each day. We all struggle, we all sin.

Rev. Eric J Brown said...


Ah, I see. The question is, at what point does the sin of disdain for one's brother (and his vices) become damnable pride and self-righteousness? It is a rough, hard line to see - and one that we should be wary of. Mortal sins are not mortal because they are so "BAD" - but because they run unchecked and unrepented. It is the unrepented sin that leads to death.