You’re On The List

It was the kick off night for Gay Pride Week at the University of Louisville. I was preaching in the middle of campus at a building called the Red Barn. I didn’t know it was Gay Pride Week until I walked onto campus to help set up for the service. This was the night I was starting a sermon series through Romans beginning with the first chapter.

Romans one is perhaps the single most relied upon text regarding the issue of homosexuality. Not only were we on campus talking about Romans one on the eve of Gay Pride Week, we met in a building we shared with the LGBTQ office. It was a whirlwind of worldviews in the Red Barn that night.

This wasn’t my plan. But because I believe in God’s sovereignty, I do believe this was indeed planned. It just wasn’t my plan.

I worked through the thirty-two verses in the first chapter of this great New Testament letter. Paul grounds his argument in God’s design in creation. Our rejection of the Creator, and his design (the created oder), results in misdirected affections and desires and a whole lot of brokenness. But Paul goes a lot further. After he addresses homosexuality in verses 26-27, he gives this list of sins:

[26] For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; [27] and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. [28] And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. [29] They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, [30] slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, [31] foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. [32] Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. (Romans 1:26-32, ESV)

Paul’s list includes gossiping, did you catch that? Have you gossiped? You’re on the list.

The list includes being boastful. Have you ever been boastful? You’re on the list too.

Have you ever been faithless? You’re on the list.

Disobedient to parents? On the list, my friend.

It shouldn’t surprise us that Paul, in Romans two, goes after self-righteous religious folks. “Who are you to judge,” he asks them. If Paul is critiquing hedonism in chapter one, he is challenging a certain kind of religious humanism in chapter two. Whether your philosophy is “eat, drink, and be merry” or you just think your relationship with God is based on your meticulous religious devotion, you’re on the list.

We’re all on the list. That doesn’t condone anything or minimize the severity of sin. It just demonstrates that we all desperately need Jesus. And it reminds us that in the gospel there is no shame, for it is the power of God to take people with a multitude of struggles, even those who have been disobedient to parents, and make them clean, new, and acceptable before a holy God.