When Sin is No Longer Sin

Yesterday, as part of my morning devotional reading, I read some words of Jesus from Mark’s Gospel:

“For it is what comes from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come – sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and foolishness. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.” (Mark 7:21-23)

There are two intriguing things in this list of sins that Jesus mentions. Firstly, “foolishness” is included as a sin.  The Greek word is ἀφροσύνη (aphrosynē) and in this context it seems to mean not just the occasional lapses of common sense that are common to us all, but the deliberate rejection of God and his truth in favour of belief in ridiculous things that defy reason. Think: crystals, tarot cards, star signs etc.

But what grabbed my attention most in these few verses was Jesus’ reference to “sexual immorality” (πορνεῖαι, “porneiai“). What does he mean? Porneia was the general Greek word for sexual activity that was considered wrong or evil, and it is most commonly used in the Bible to refer to sex outside of legitimate, God-ordained marriage (which, in turn, is defined as marriage between a man and a woman – Genesis 2:18-24 and Matthew 19:4-6). Interestingly, Jesus lists adultery as a separate sin in this list, so sexual immorality is something distinct from adultery. This would seem to indicate that the term is being used here to specifically refer to pre-marital sex or sex with someone of the same gender. This accords with the Old Testament prohibitions and severe punishments against these practices in Leviticus 18.

But of course the modern world has a major problem with this. According to the new morality, there is no such thing as sexual immorality anymore. All sexual activity is now morally acceptable (with the exception of paedophilia). Sex between people of the same gender and sex with other single people prior to marriage is now the norm. Indeed, the practice of “hooking up” with another single person for a quickie is now being euphemistically referred to as “dating around”. Really? Do people honestly think that is a legitimate date? It is simply animalistic rutting. Yet, we now live in a culture where this is openly practised, and there are even apps that will help people to find others nearby who are looking for a quickie.

This new morality has even found its way into the church. Several years ago, I had a coffee with a youth minister from a large Pentecostal church and he admitted to me that the majority of young people and young adults in his church were probably sleeping with their boyfriends and girlfriends, and he even confessed that two single members of the pastoral team were sleeping with their current partners. Staggeringly, the youth minister did not seem to think that this was a big problem – it was just the new, liberated morality.

The liberal branch of the Christian church now openly embraces homosexuality, and practising homosexuals are increasingly finding their way into church leadership. In this morning’s news feed I read of a Bible College Professor in the UK who was sacked for tweeting about his concern that homosexuality is being increasingly accepted in the church. Dr. Aaron Edwards was fired from Cliff College in Derbyshire, England, after tweeting:

“Homosexuality is invading the church. Evangelicals no longer see the severity of this… This IS a gospel issue! If sin is no longer sin, we no longer need a Saviour.”

He makes a very good point. It IS a gospel issue. And I would add that if sin is no longer sin, then we need to remove a whole lot of words from the Bible, starting with the term “sexual immorality” used by Jesus. According to today’s world, Jesus is wrong and there is no such a thing as sexual immorality. Everything is permissible as long as it is consentual.

So, who is right? Whom will you believe?

I know who I am following.