I’ve appreciated using the Book of Common Prayer for my morning devotions the past few months. There are always readings from the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Gospels and Psalms specifically each day. The readings don’t take you through the entire Bible in a year, but they cover some of the most significant passages.
Today, though, I discovered an omission in the readings that was rather blatant. Yesterday’s New Testament reading was Romans 1:16-25. Today’s reading started with verse 28 in the same chapter.
Why the omission of verses 26 and 27? Are they somehow not as important as the rest of the chapter? Are they just too difficult to understand and not suited to devotions?
Perhaps the actual text of those verses may give us a clue. Here they are verbatim, nothing excluded:
For this reason God gave them over to dishonorable passions. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. Likewise, the men abandoned natural relations with women and burned with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.Romans 1:26-27
Hmm. I wonder what the reason might be? Well, it’s not too hard to figure out, is it? You see, the Bible is just not “enlightened” enough for our current age on this topic. Calling homosexuality a sin is embarrassing if one wants to fit into the culture.
There are two extremes the church (of whatever denomination) can go to. The first is to accommodate to the culture and just give up Biblical truth. That is unacceptable for a genuine disciple of Christ. We are to speak truth.
If anyone is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in His Father’s glory with the holy angels.Mark 8:38
The other is to become so defensive that one becomes obnoxious in the proclamation of the truth. That isn’t God’s way either.
But speaking the truth in love, we should grow up in all things into Him who is the head, Christ.Ephesians 4:15
That’s called maturity, and only in that way will we win anyone over to the truth.
We have another opportunity to see how we will respond. It came to us this week in a decision by the United States Supreme Court, extending anti-discrimination in hiring to those who say they are LGBTQ. That decision may have serious ramifications for religious liberty, so how are we to deal with this?
Russell Moore, who is currently president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission for the Southern Baptists, commented on that Supreme Court decision the day it came out. I found his commentary to be a mature response, pointing out the dangers of the decision while not devolving into an apocalyptic rage. He cited the relevant Biblical passages on sexuality and asserted, “Here the church has stood, and will stand.” He concluded with these words:
We can be the people who recognize that those who disagree with us are our mission field, to be persuaded, not a sparring partner to denounce. We must have both conviction and kindness, both courage and patience, both truth and grace.
Conviction, courage, and truth must be our cornerstones. But along with them, we must exemplify kindness, patience, and grace. Not all will accept our message, but when we give that message, it must be in the proper spirit. If it’s not, it won’t really be the message that is rejected as much as it will be our bad spirit that will push people away from the truth.
This is a test. Let’s pass the test. Let’s be mature.