Last week I wrote about how Christians should respond to NBA player Jason Collins coming out as gay. Later a young gay man challenged me as to why Christians feel the need to respond with such bold clarity to homosexuality while not doing the same to other cultural sins. He pointed out some of the well-publicized stories of sexual infidelity and divorce in the NBA, as well as the underground culture in pro basketball involving groupies and prostitutes. Why, he asked, does homosexuality get skewered while behaviors like these are often overlooked by Christians?
It is a fair and thoughtful question, and it deserves an honest and thoughtful answer. The short answer as to why writers like me and media members like ESPN’s Chris Broussard responded to the Jason Collins story so readily is that it made big news. It was in the public eye. In addition, Collins’ announcement was celebrated from almost all corners, so there was a need to make the biblical point of view clear.
But those aren’t the only reasons, nor are they the deepest ones. The deeper, uglier answer is that standing up against homosexuality is much easier than decrying other sinful lifestyles. Fornication, divorce, and all sorts of other sins often hit very close to home—they’re in our churches and often even in our own lives, past or present. It’s hard to point out and be strongly against a sin when it means shouting down your brother or mother or deacon or self. We have kept homosexuality, at least to our awareness, far away, but just because we have kept it on the far side of town doesn’t mean homosexuality should earn our ire more than the sins in our own closets.
Even deeper than this, the ugly underbelly of our reasoning is that the homosexual lifestyle is seemingly viewed as something different from other sins, as something “other,” not normal. It is as if the sins of adultery or fornication are wrong, but a sort of normalized wrong, whereas homosexuality is a “weird” or “unusual” sin. What we fail to recognize is that every sin from the mildest gossip to the wildest orgy is a mark of the fall, proof of sins twisting God’s good creation.
I wrote before of responding with conviction and humility, of speaking the truth of Scripture with deep love. But there is another command of Scripture to be considered first: Remove the plank from my own eye before removing the speck from another’s. Homosexuality is not the exception to this command. Neither does this command preclude addressing issues that need addressing. Whether it is a public or a private response, though, may we all deal with our own plank before another’s speck. Then may we remove that speck with all love and compassion.