This is a hot-button question in our day and age, to say the least. Forty years of well-intentioned Christian activism against homosexuality in our country has left the gay community with the impression that Christians are self-righteous and intolerant. Be that as it may, it is still a worthwhile issue to consider.
Before we get into that question, we will need to narrow down our categories a little to make sure we are measuring “like with like.” For instance, a man raping a woman is far worse than two men hooking up for casual sex. So simply putting homosexual activity up against heterosexual sin is too broad of a comparison. Perhaps a better way to ask the question would be, “Is homosexual promiscuity worse than heterosexual promiscuity?” Here we have two similar behaviors distinguished solely by gender orientation.
We all know instinctively that some crimes in the penal code are worse than others. Obviously murder is more serious than larceny, and it is no different within the legal structure of God’s kingdom. In that light, yes, I believe homosexual promiscuity is “worse” than heterosexual promiscuity. I say this for a number of reasons.
- First, an argument could be made that Scripture treats homosexuality more seriously. In the Old Testament, this lifestyle, represented by the twin cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, faced stern judgment by God. That divine displeasure was carried into the New Testament when the apostle Paul designated homosexuality as particularly vile behavior in Romans 1.
- Second, while it is sinful for a guy and a girl to engage in extramarital sexual intercourse, their behavior fits within the parameters of “normal” sex—something that cannot be said of sodomy and the like. In fact, Paul uses such terms as “degrading,” “unnatural” and “indecent” when he discusses it in Romans 1.
- Third, homosexual behavior affects a person’s perception of himself, causing him to identify himself more closely with an immoral lifestyle than the godly behavior expected of a believer. The homosexual movement has spawned an entire community and culture within our nation—complete with its own Christian denominations.
- The final reason I believe that homosexual sin is worse is more of a sense than something easily articulated. In my years of ministering in the realm of sexual addiction, it has been clear to me that homosexual activity brings about emotional suffering and a spiritual corruption that runs very deeply. It doesn’t take much to see how deeply gays have been scarred as a result of the course their lives have taken.
So in light of all of that, I repeat: homosexual promiscuity is “worse” than heterosexual promiscuity.
However, there is an issue Jesus raised that I believe trumps this entire question. In Luke 18, He offered a parable that was a similar comparison of sinful behaviors.
The first example was a hard-hearted, arrogant and self-righteous Pharisee. His disdain of others must have seemed particularly nauseating to Jesus. The second man—a “tax collector”—wasn’t much better. For years he had used his official position to rip people off—poor folks, widows or whoever else he could take advantage of. The interesting thing is that Jesus didn’t claim that the sin of the Pharisee was worse than that of the tax collector or vice-versa. He declared the tax collector “justified” before God for one reason only: he had humbled himself before the Lord in deep repentance over his behavior—something the Pharisee was unwilling to do.
So, maybe the question we should be asking has nothing to do with which behavior is worse. Maybe we should be asking, “Is an unrepentant sinner in more trouble with God than a repentant sinner?” The answer to that question would be a resounding, “Yes!”
Steve Gallagher is the Founder and President of Pure Life Ministries. He has dedicated his life to helping men find freedom from sexual sin and leading Christians into the abundant life in God that comes through deep repentance.
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