Taking Pleasure in Sin

Recently, a mid-level NFL Draft prospect made national headlines for several days by publicly announcing his sexual orientation. This man, who maintains that he wants to be evaluated by NFL General Managers solely on the basis of his athletic prowess and skill, felt compelled to tell the world that he is gay, while sports journalists and commentators proceeded to fall over themselves explaining just how beneficial it is for the sport of football to have its first open homosexual, at least at the professional level. When I heard about all the commotion this announcement caused, I must admit I was a bit perplexed.

It seems contradictory for a man who wants everyone to focus on his football talent to make such a public declaration of his private lifestyle. On one hand, our society has made it clear that an individual’s sexual lifestyle is a private matter, and any discussion of the ethics of sexuality is best kept to one’s self. After all, what this man does in his private life has no impact on his ability to play football, so who are we to judge him? On the other hand, this very public announcement mocks the idea of privacy with regard to human sexuality, and opens the issue up for discussion and debate in the public square. And so I thought, Why does anyone care about that? But then I thought more about what God’s word says with regard to the rise of homosexuality among mankind, and I concluded that everything about this media event could have been predicted by a Scripture passage, written nearly 2,000 years ago.

Romans 1:18-32 explains mankind’s response to the undeniable knowledge of God as revealed in the natural world. In v.18 we are told that men suppress the truth of God in unrighteousness, refusing to glorify God or give him thanks (v.21), and exchanging the truth of God for a lie (v.25), they worship created things instead of the Creator. Three times in this passage, we are told how God responded to this rebellious suppression of the truth – He gave mankind up to uncleanness (v.24), to dishonorable passions (v.26), and to a debased mind (v.28; lit. a mind which does not pass the test). Not only is homosexuality a result of mankind’s rebellion against God, but so are many other corruptions, such as covetousness, hatred, murder, slander, disobedience to parents, and refusing to love or show mercy to others.

Now I don’t remember the last time that someone held a press conference to announce that he was a covetous or unloving person, or that he refused to forgive others. I suspect that is because these sins have always been considered more respectable than homosexuality or murder, but that is not my point in writing this today. Paul ends the chapter saying that not only do men embrace these wicked practices in rebellion against God’s holy standard, but they “approve of [or take pleasure in] those who practice them.” Men take pleasure in a public display of another’s sinful corruption, and they seek the approval of their own wicked choices. As Christians, however, we are called upon to declare the truth, that God “has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” (Acts 17:31)

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