I will never forget a service I went to in prison. One of my friends convinced me to go to the big non-denominational Sunday service they had in the gym. It was crowded and hot, they had a guest preacher and they had these big lights set up pumping out more heat. The atmosphere was hyper and exciting, so different from what I was used to. The band cranked up and people started to sing. An hour later the music finally stopped and the preacher took the stage. He introduced himself and talked about people’s reaction to him coming into prison. That’s pretty common, volunteers patting themselves on the back for coming to a prison. Then he goes on to preach for an hour about the evils of masturbation.
This was a huge topic among Christians in prison. That and Dungeons and Dragons. Really. If you didn’t play D & D and didn’t masturbate, you were a good Christian. Anyway, things aren’t that different out here. The issue might not be specifically masturbation, but sex in general. The head of the CIA just resigned, not for any crazy intrigue or evil CIA stuff, but because he cheated on his wife. We make such a bid deal about sex.
I remember trying to talk about it with a friend of mine. He immediately says, “Well you know sexual sins are condemned in the Bible more than any other sin.” I don’t know if that’s true. I hate the think of someone going through the Bible and counting how many times someone talked about sex, but I’m sure someone has.
But why? Why do we make such a big deal about the sexual sins? Of course sex can be harmful. Adultery destroys families, pornography dehumanize people, and of course rape is horrible, but are these really the worst sins? Is sex worse than violence? Why condemn a president for adultery and not for backing the slaughter of hundreds of thousands in Indonesia? That is pure insanity.
I read a comment on a blog that claimed, “homosexuality is the ultimate rebellion against God.” Worse than the holocaust even. How did our values become so distorted? We ostracize people over this stuff. We push them out of our churches. We make them hate Christians, and possibly cut them off from God.
Here’s another prison story. I was the inmate coordinator for our community. We were attracting a large number of homosexuals. One of the white gangs had also decided that Catholicism was the true religion of the white man. Whatever, we were glad that they were coming, maybe they would learn something. Well they were not happy with all the homosexuals attending. One of the stereotypes in prison is that homosexuals go to church services to hook up with their lovers. We hadn’t had any reports of anything like that actually happening though. But that didn’t stop the White Knights. One day as I was setting the altar someone came and told me that the Knights were planning to jump on the gays. I looked out at the crowd and saw that all the homosexuals had a pair of White Knights beside them.
I went over to one of the leaders and tried to talk to him. Long story short, he thought he was helping. He couldn’t imagine why I didn’t think this was a good idea. Don’t just write this off as something coming from a prison gang member. I bet there are plenty of Christians who deep down inside wish that no homosexual would come to their church. Anyway, I tried to get him to understand that violence was just as bad as what he imagined they were doing, but it was only when I reminded him that security would be a total pain if there was a riot. He called it off, thank God.
Sex is one of the most sacred gifts that God has given us. With it two people come together in love and with God create life. Of course the devil attacks it. But then he attacks everything.
How much of our problem with sex really comes from any sense of righteousness? Does sexual immorality really offend our holiness, or is it just prejudice, pride, or even envy?
The point is we need to get our priorities straight. There are much worse things out there than what people do in bed. We have war, genocide, and any number of atrocities taking place right now.
Finally I want to remind us of a few words of the Lord’s Prayer: Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive others their trespasses. Remember that the measure which you forgive others will be the measure by which you are forgiven.