Despite the position seemingly taken by many church leaders of all denominations these days, a little bit of sin is not okay. And love is not demonstrated by affirming what has traditionally, and with good cause, been classified as wrong. What am I talking about? Well, examples such as turning a blind eye to sex before marriage; easy access to divorce and approval of ‘serialised’ marriage; fear of offending those who have undergone abortion, or engage in non-traditional sexual practices… All spring to mind, though there are doubtless many more. But what all alike have in common is that they reference behaviours prohibited in the Bible. And despite what some maintain, this classification is not the result of some cultural and anachronistic aberration, but derives from the fact that such behaviours, individually and collectively, breach the order that best supports humankind’s personal happiness and fulfilment, causing damage to the individual, undermining ‘family’, and harming society at large.
The truth is that, since the 1960s, the UK has been witness to a moral slide that is leading inexorably to societal disintegration. Promiscuity, for example, is now not simply acknowledged, but taught to children as an accepted pattern of behaviour to be indulged in as soon as they feel ‘ready’, which for some can start as early as puberty, or even before! And the broader idea of morality is hinged not around ideas of righteousness, goodness, duty and responsibility towards others, but rather round the idea that all have the right – or even duty – to have sex whenever, wherever and with whomsoever they choose, without the need for commitment, and free of consequence.
The result, bizarre as it may seem, is that in this brave new world, sex has become surgically separated from the notion of relationship and has become an end in itself. And it is this view that the Church, by implication if not action, is mindlessly endorsing – by its muzzling, for instance, of those who speak out against abortion, for fear of upsetting women in their dwindling congregations who might have undergone the procedure for themselves; or by its grovelling and increasingly frequent apology for having in the past dared support the Biblical doctrine that sex should be between one man and one woman within the confines of marriage (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-35328191; https://theconversation.com/in-supporting-civil-unions-for-same-sex-couples-pope-francis-is-moving-catholics-toward-a-more-expansive-understanding-of-family-148773).
As a society we have not just accepted, but actively embraced and celebrated a narrative designed by the devil for humanity’s destruction. A narrative that has been quite startlingly successful, and which has left vast swathes of the population insecure, vulnerable, and even mentally ill – cast adrift on a sea of uncertainty, where there are no longer any discernible moral boundaries to provide safe harbour and the promise of rest. Contrary to modern rebranding, it is not sex that is the be-all and end-all of life – the one thing that brings ultimate satisfaction and without which none of us can live. No, it is still relationship and love – that deep down we all crave, and without which we are bereft. Because relationship is God’s gift to humanity, providing the basis for family life, and for the maintenance of order and peace in an otherwise vicious and chaos-filled, fallen world.
Small wonder then that relationship should be under such vicious attack. But it was precisely to deliver us from this chaos that Christ died, in a head-to-head confrontation with Satan on the cross. From which He emerged as victor and thereby freed humanity from bondage to sin and death. But, just as in WW2, in the gap between the D-Day landings and the final liberation of Europe some ten months later, until the Lord’s return in glory, bringing final judgment, the enemy at this time remains free to spread his poison and destroy. And, like a cornered rat who knows the end is in sight, the devil has been fighting bitterly to reassert control.
Since Christ’s ascension into heaven, the mission of the Church, as we await His return, has been to take the message of victory and salvation to a fallen world – that all might have the chance, before that final judgment, to repent their allegiance to Satan, and be saved. But in recent years the Church has abandoned this call. In a misguided attempt to stay culturally ‘relevant’, it has stepped back from condemning sin, espousing instead a message of tolerance and inclusivity. Meaning that, in today’s gospel, pretty much anything goes – provided it doesn’t promote sexual restraint, or support murder outside abortion.
In all of this the Church has been derelict in its duty, and is no longer fit for purpose. It is no longer the Church of God, but has become instead a mouthpiece for cultural rebranding; a tool for the devil.
A little bit of sin is not alright
Sin is the disease that separates us from God, and stops us from becoming fully what He has made and wants us to be. It includes things such as vanity, envy, bitterness, resentment, anger, self-regard, gossip, hatred … as well as more specific things such as murder, theft, fraud, gambling, promiscuity, adultery, unnatural relations, incest… But all have the one thing in common. They separate us from God, enslaving and locking us into bondage from which, by ourselves, we cannot break free. In fact, only God can set us free, which, again, is why Christ died on the Cross, offering liberty, healing, wholeness and restoration to all who repent.
Let us never forget that we are all sinners, and all alike stand in need of forgiveness. But evil cannot co-exist with goodness – we cannot take our little bit of sin into heaven.
For the present the battle still rages, meaning we have to choose. It is for this reason that it is vital the Church rediscovers its vision and calling, and speak out in love to defend those who, for whatever reason, cannot defend themselves. It must become again a light to this dark world, illumining the path to salvation. But it can do this only by rejecting compromise – which, however well intentioned, can only lead to more suffering in this world, and damnation in the next.
For the sake of fallen humanity, it is urgent that the Church of all denominations repents, regains its voice, and recovers the courage to proclaim and defend the gospel.