Wages of Sin: Are Sexual Sins the Worst Sins?

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”  (Romans 6:23).

There is no doubt since Christianity began it taught its members to be holy as God is holy.  This has sometimes been reduced in people’s minds to referring only to morality, but holiness is not just proper external behavior, it also has to do with the state of a person’s heart, and in fact their very being including their relationship with God.  Sometimes Christians reduce the sense of holiness to sexual activity, something which was influenced by ideas presented early on in Christianity by dualists who despised the body and marriage, treating any sexual desire as a disease (St. John Cassian calls it such in his Institutes, though admittedly he is writing for monks not to all Christians).  This abhorrence of anything sexual ultimate denies the goodness of creation and is at odds with the Genesis story of God creating humans male and female as well as with the Gospel truth of the incarnation where Jesus is a male not an androgynous being).  Today, as in every generation of Christianity, we see these ideas manifesting themselves, in our times especially in claims which make homosexuality to be veritably THE unforgivable sin.   In the book IN THE WORLD, OF THE CHURCH, Paul Evdokimov notes:

Berdiaev [Nikolai Berdiaev, a 19th century Russian religious and political philosopher] stressed with reason that the Gospel is infinitely more severe toward wealth, exploitation, and social disorder than toward any sexual failing. The real problem of social obligation has been repressed and replaced by a veritable obsession with matters sexual, even up to our time.  According to the Gospel, it is the rich who will not enter the Kingdom, while repentant prostitutes enter ahead of the righteous and their influence.  ( pg. 87)

We are so often concerned with or obsessed by the sins of others, while holiness tells us when it comes to sin to specifically look at ourselves.   Christianity is a self-denying religion, but only when it comes to sin does it traditionally tell us to look at ourselves and judge rather than looking at and judging others.

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6 thoughts on “Wages of Sin: Are Sexual Sins the Worst Sins?

  1. Gregory

    Yes, Father, it’s all quite puzzling. We’re living in a moment where, from Wall Street to the Gulf of Mexico, the sins of greed and gluttony have made the home God gave us toxic and brought the economy to the brink of collapse, with little (if any) remorse for the collateral damage that lost livelihoods and life savings on Main Street through no fault of their own. Meanwhile, we’re spending billions on wars waged, in part, on the basis of lies and deliberate falsification, but we claim we have nothing in the kitty for millions who go without adequate food, shelter or health care. Yet none of this whips up the sense of moral indignation that the notion of gay marriage in a civil court does.

    And we wonder why there is such skepticism about Christianity’s relevancy in modern culture?

    “This was the sin of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters were prideful, had more than enough food and enjoyed easy living, but did not lift a hand to help the poor and needy.” (Ezekiel 16:48-49)

    We’ve become a nation of busybodies who do the reverse of Matthew 7:3-5: we go berserk over splinters in the eyes of others while blithely ignoring the planks stuck in our own. How desperately we need to repeat, over and over until we really mean it, this line from Saint Ephraim the Syrian’s prayer: “Let me see my own sins and not judge others.” And constantly remind ourselves that Jesus welcomed to his dinner table harlots and tax collectors — who were glad to have his company — while the religious and moral rigorists of his day stood aloof from him, clucking in disapproval.

    Gregory

  2. Pingback: The sins of others « Again and Again

  3. juliana

    Orthodoxy preaches the sanctity of the body. Sexual union as an expression of married love is good. The exploitation of another’s body to gratify lust is a sin. Obviously as monks are supposed to be celibate they have quite a fight against their testosterone, which colours the literature meant for them; but it is not sexual love which is evil, only misuse of it
    But there seems to be no place for homosexual sex. If that is what the Orthodox Church teaches then we must abide by it. The Church’s function is to preach the mind of Christ not the mind of contemporary secular society. Only if it believes Christ has now changed His mind can the Church change its mind

  4. Gregory

    Of course, Juliana, Jesus said nothing about same-sex attraction or love, while he made his mind quite clear on greed, gluttony, lust, lack of charity, denial of justice, mistreatment of the poor and the danger of riches — his judgements on all of which so many “Christians” blithely ignore today, with nary a twinge of conscience.

  5. Donald Ramsey

    Folks, Jesus said nothing about same-sex sexual activities not because they are right,
    they are not, He is the same God who at Sinai gave the Law to Moses, which explicitly condemned engaging in these acts. And please don’t anyone try and equate this with the Law’s dietary condemnations, either. Any good theologian can knock that canard down. I think that the reason Jesus never talked about that, is because in Judaism, that behavior was considered SO FAR OUT in left field that to discuss it would have been superfluous. ONLY in the 20th and 21st centuries have “Christian” theologians dared to try to condone these acts and even claim that Jesus approves of it. That is outrageously sacrilegious. On the other hand, homosexual acts are NOT the Unforgivable Sin and certainly not the only sins to be concerned about. It is unfortunately true that many “conservative” Christians today, while super-hard on folks who commit sexual sins, are soft and even LAUDATORY of the extremely wealthy, even as these people pay their workers as little as the Law will allow them to, ship our jobs overseas to China and India where they can pay what, here, would amount to slave-labor wages. These things, depriving workers of just, living wages, are a Sin That Cries to Heaven For Vengeance.

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