I saw something the other day that pointed out that Christians view homosexuality as “one of the gravest sins.” My gut instinct as a Christian who grew up in evangelical churches was to deny this. I never even heard of homosexuality until I was in my twenties. No one in any church I attended (and I sometimes attended more than once a week) ever mentioned it during my childhood and teen years.
But I can totally see why someone outside looking in at the church today would think that, on a ranking of sins, Christians place being gay at the top. Just look at the news. Self-professed Christians everywhere in the world are raging against LGBTQ rights.
You wouldn’t know it from outside, but there is much debate in Christian circles over whether sin can be ranked, or if all sin is equal. Is a lie comparable to murder? They’re both banned by the Ten Commandments. Of course, it’s technically “bearing false witness” against someone that is prohibited, and doing that could cause someone’s death.
Of course, there is this:
Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. 1 Corinthians 6:18
I suppose this verse could be used to argue that sexual sins are “worse” than other sins. But it could also be used to argue that they are lesser. “All other sins…are outside the body” — done to or affecting others while sexual immorality hurts you. If you look at the Ten Commandments, at least half of them are trying to prevent hurting other people.
“You shall not murder.
“You shall not commit adultery.
“You shall not steal.
“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.” Exodus 20:13–17
The rest of them are about honouring God and your parents. Do you know, there isn’t one word in there about homosexuality? These are the basic rules God gave Moses and, even if we were to rank them, we couldn’t put “don’t be gay” at the top of the list because it isn’t even in the list.
The verse in Leviticus that homophobic Christians trot out to condemn being gay is in a long list of prohibitions against eating bacon, wearing clothing made of mixed fibres, eating shellfish, men shaving their beards, and other rules no one follows today. Walk into any church in North America next Sunday and count how many men are clean shaven. Trust me: it’s a not zero amount.
So, either we’re all going to Hell for eating bacon, or the Christians ranting against LGBTQ people are a bunch of hypocrites. Maybe both.
While we might never know what is the “gravest sin”, we can know what is the greatest commandment:
One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22:35–40
Love God and love your neighbour. That’s it. That’s the whole Law.