Somebody posted the linked on FB and I read through it. It is full of discomfort for me -- and as a Christian, I think discomfort is often a good, or at least necessary thing.
First of all, my inclination is to dislike Osteen. He is a TV minister, a class that evokes the same sort of visceral reaction as "politician, used car salesman, etc". Being a Christian means one should ALWAYS feel at least uncomfortable about those reactions. We know we are supposed to LOVE even our ENEMIES.
The writer of the column doesn't get my vote either though -- very much "works righteousness", "holier than thou", "Scribes and Pharisee's", judgmental, etc I have a hard time understanding how any Christian can feel comfortable making the kinds of harsh judgements he is making.
I could go have a long scriptural "verse off" with some of the verses he quotes, but I don't feel like that today, nor do I feel "led" that way. I went and visited my Dad yesterday and got to hear an MPR discussion about "political mixed marriages" that made "acceptance of homosexuality" one of those "we can't associate with people who fail that test!"
I overeat. I was sick over the weekend, so I've been trying to use that impetus to cut back AGAIN. Overeating is gluttony. Gluttony is sin, and it is just as bad as homosexuality. Do I "feel" that way? No, I find homosexuality especially yucky, not my temptation, but there are plenty of other sins that ARE tempting. Overeating is a nice clear not yucky, not embarrassing one to talk about.
Sexual sins are especially difficult sins. It is my firm belief that at our core we all know that "love, marriage, children, family, extended family, community" are the human center of life. For those that are believers, God demands that we put HIM at the center of our lives -- which changes the focus of life.
Without (1) the sexual union of one man and one woman, none of us would be here. We also know that we will ultimately (2) face death, either alone or (3)with Jesus holding our hand. EVERYONE that is sane agrees with 1 and 2. Many, maybe even most, will try to deny or avoid thought about 2, but it's there. We also have no choice on 1 and 2. We are here, we were born -- so we will die, end of story.
All human kind is in this boat. I find the fact there is not more love on the planet to be enough to prove the existence of Satan / evil on it's own! We are all short timers in a boat we did not choose to be in, and we KNOW that it ends in death! Why not love others in our shared situation?
In listening to the NPR show, reading this article and dealing with atheists over the years, I'm convinced that the desire to judge others as being "less than ourselves" is an absolute hallmark of human nature. When Christ tells us to "love our enemies", he is giving us a command that is impossible for humans to follow -- like "love God with ALL your heart". The fact he would give such a command is proof that he is more than human. Humans have a hard time even conceiving of such things when they hear them, let alont think them up!
Have you ever met an atheist who even gives a HINT of loving their enemies? They are almost always pretty angry at those that disagree with them -- religious people, very much so! They are certain they are completely justified in their anger -- "righteous" even!
We all love ourselves. Even if we hate ourselves at times, it is always someone else's fault -- our parents, someone who abused us somehow, the political system, bad genetics (our parents again), racism, the system, ... maybe even God, sometimes even if we claim we don't believe he exists. We ended up "marooned" here with no way out but death unless we "give in" and subscribe to the "foolish idea" that there is a God and a potential for eternal life with him.
But many CAN'T accept that, because that comes with HELL, which is "immoral" according to "our morality" since WE are better judges of morality than the "certainly must be imagined" God who would conceive of such a terrible thing as eternal punishment.
I believe that accepting the moral authority that God has a RIGHT to actually judge us is one of those acts of humility that comes very very hard to many. I wrote on that some here. It is really a very mild humility asked of us compared that of almighty God being willing to suffer even unto death for our sin!
But in the meantime, our natural desire is to feel better about ourselves by putting labels on some other groups and calling them "untouchables", "deploreables", ... "the evil". If you go about 38min into the MPR piece (nearly the end), they finally get down to brass tacks -- "we can't be around people who are homophobic, racist, islamophobic or sexist ... these are non-negotiable". Let's ignore the fact that believers in Islam are "homophobic and sexist" by the MPR definition for the moment, we humans are also inescapably inconsistent. Humans are extremely limited beings.
Christ's forgiveness has no limits. I agree with Osteen that there will be people that have practiced homosexuality in heaven, and they will have sought forgiveness for their sin in this life. I pray fervently that there will be recovering gluttons in heaven as well as those fighting the sin of judging others in heaven, and especially those that have lusted after women in their hearts -- and that I will be among them. Homosexual acts are sin, not homosexual desires, exactly like man or woman desiring a partner not their spouse. Sin is sin -- without Christ, it is like life, always terminal.
This somewhat long discussion for me is summarized by 1 John 1:8 " If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the TRUTH is not in us."
Christ is the Truth. Homosexuality is a sin, and it is not the unforgivable sin. Drinking to excess is a sin and alcoholics have a compulsion to drink to excess -- we don't tell them "go ahead and drink or you are not being true to your nature". Is it really possible to look at the wreckage of alcoholism, drug addiction, homosexuality, transgenderism and abortion and still say "these are not sin"?
Since ALL have sinned -- and even worse, struggle with sin each day, listing sins ought give no Christian comfort just because they can list a group which happens not to tempt them personally. Any practicing Christian MUST have no problem pointing to a list which DOES NOT make them comfortable! Being a practicing Christian REQUIRES constant admission of our sinfulness!
Comfort, pleasure, ease ... Christians are NOT to seek these, but rather to serve the Lord!
For me, this analysis makes it clear why those without Christ are pretty much forced by human nature to establish their own Secular Humanist religion with it's own "mortal sins" (homophobia, racism, etc above), and as the MPR program shows, they have done so, and it includes even "shunning" like the Amish. I think Sapiens does a good job of covering the secular religion compulsion.
Matt 6:33 "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." We are in what to human eyes appears to be a hopeless situation, however ...
Matt 19:26 "Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."