Logs and Specks
Updated: Sep 26, 2018
I don’t get into too many Facebook battles, but for better or for worse it is an area of cultural engagement for Christians these days. In this particular instance I was commenting in support of a friend's post on the irony of the left’s inability to grasp the infinitely more troubling nature of the current abortion crisis versus the, now a number of weeks old, though still ongoing, immigration ‘crisis’ where a number of children were being separated from their parents who were crossing into the US illegally.
I was told that I had to care equally about both because of the very familiar Christianism, “sin is sin.” The reason this came back to my mind weeks after the fact was that I saw it happen again while watching Cross Politic’s recent interview with one of the Revoice Conference’s organizers, Pastor Greg Johnson. After being called to repentance for himself not calling the self-identifying “gay” Christians coming to his conference to repentance, he stated that, “I will hear you say that if you turn around and say the same thing to the over-eaters in your church.”
This type of defense is exactly opposite to the way scripture commands brothers to judge one another. It says to get rid of the log in your own eye before calling out the speck in your brother’s (Matthew 7:1-5). It doesn’t say every speck must be gone from your own before you let your brother know about the log sticking out of his. We all have specks and blind spots and we should pray that God would grant us all a faithful brother who will come along and point them out. However, the obvious question that remains is, “How do I judge which sins are specks and which are logs?” Is this even a valid exercise, or is it true that "sin is sin"? The very idea that Jesus calls some specks and some logs presupposes otherwise.
Now, as Christians we should believe that all sin is equal in the sense that it all carries with it equal punishment: physical and spiritual death. However, scripture tells us very plainly that there are certain things that God cares about much more than others. The Apostle Matthew makes this very clear when he quotes Jesus saying, “Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe dill, mint and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law.” Jesus says that certain matters of the law are weightier than others. They carry with them more importance. In this case, Jesus tells us those weightier matter are justice, mercy and faith.
Proverbs 6 gives us a list of 6, no wait, 7 things that God hates and are an abomination to him: Arrogant eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness, and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.
God’s law also presupposes a varying level of severity for certain sins by attaching to them varying levels of penal sanction. For example, theft in Mosaic law typically required only restitution. Theft of another image bearer of God (kidnapping) however, required the death penalty. A more sever consequence because of a more severe sin. Likewise, cities of refuge were provided for those who had committed manslaughter, while those convicted of pre-meditated murder were to be put to death.
There is no question that there is only one person that has ever lived who is able to truly judge every man for every sin because He knew no sin and yet became sin for us. And He will judge all men and all sin when he comes again. This does not mean, ergo, that Christians shouldn’t engage in such things or are incapable. It is true enough that scripture does not give us a list of every conceivable sin man could possibly commit and rank them on a scale from 1-10, so that if I’m committing an “8” sin then I cannot judge a brother who might be committing a “6”.
It might be hard work determining some of these nuances, but an honest dedication to the reading and understanding of the word and an honest submission to the work of the Spirit in your own heart and mind should be enough to convince you, for instance, that the separation of some (living) children from their parents and the murder of hundreds of thousands of babies every year are not on par. Nor is a disordered love of food on par with a disordered love of the same gender. It is not loving your brother if you 'judge not' and allow him to use such an excuse as 'sin is sin' to continue in it.