Dear Therin Showalter,
I read the article, “Modern American Christians...,” and appreciated the challenge to show equal concern for all sin, not just sexual sin. James 2:10, as pointed out, does indeed express how God regards sin. In committing the slightest sin we have offended God as if we had violated all the commandments of God, and we have shown that we deserve the wrath of God. Since we have all sinned (Romans 3:23), God would be justified in condemning us all to eternal damnation.
A number of sins are listed in the article — divorce, gambling, drunkenness, lying and coveting — as examples of sins found in the Bible. Then it is added, “assuming you interpret the text in the literal, archaic fashion as the Mississippi legislature.” Is there some way of interpreting the Biblical texts that does not identify these practices as sin?
It is insisted that “Christianity doesn’t assign value to sins,” but “Modern American Christianity... definitely does.” However, God definitely assigned “value” to specific sins.
This is true, for example, in the same chapter of the book of Leviticus. In chapter 20, verse 17, we learn that a man who takes his sister “so that he sees her nakedness and she sees his nakedness” is to be cut off from their people. They are to be excommunicated. However, in verse 14, “a man who marries a woman and her mother ... both he and they shall be burned with fire.” And in verse 13, “if there is a man who lies with a male as those who lie with a woman, ... they shall surely be put to death.” God’s instruction to His people was not to treat all sin alike. It is actually shameful that modern evangelical Christians tolerate infidelity, gambling, drunkenness, lying and coveting the way we do, as if they are not sinful.
God does not tolerate any of these. He hates all sin. Why else would He demand the death of His Son as payment for sin? It is an accurate observation that we often give too little thought to these sins. But that doesn’t mean we should equally disregard sexual sin. And the Bible does call adultery, homosexuality and sex, apart from that between a husband and his wife, sin.
Finally, regarding Ephesians 2:8-9, this text in no way dismisses sin. In its context it explains how God has dealt with sin. We are all sinners, though we do not commit all of the same sins.
This text addresses how God saves sinners. He does not dismiss the sinfulness of sin. His Son bore the sin of His people and suffered the punishment that we deserved for that sin. By the grace of God, through faith in this substitutionary work of Jesus Christ, God saves us. Apart from faith in Christ, there is no salvation — for the sexual offender, the liar or the drunkard.
Rev. Dr. David A. Crum