On March 21st 2012, talkshow host Piers Morgan interviewed actor Kirk Cameron of Growing Pains fame about an upcoming movie in which the actor is featured. During the interview, the discussion strayed to the very open Christian faith that Cameron professes. Morgan asked the actor if he thought that homosexuality was a sin. Cameron responded by saying: “I think that it’s — it’s unnatural. I think that it’s — it’s detrimental and ultimately destructive to so many of the foundations of civilization.”
The outrage over this interview has been palpable since it was aired. Certainly when any statement that negatively characterizes homosexuality is made in present day American culture, it is cause for controversy. However destructive one may see Cameron’s comments to be, there is a similarly destructive caricature of the Christian beliefs reflected by Cameron that must be corrected.
The caricature is this: Christians believe that good people go to heaven and bad people go to hell. Christians believe that there are a series of actions, rituals, and lifestyle choices that one must conform to in order to be “good.” Becoming a Christian is one of these actions. When a Christian makes a statement like “Homosexuality is a sin,” they are doing so from their moral high-ground. They are, in essence, stating that “I’m a good person. You are a homosexual, so you are a bad person. You will go to hell.”
This is, no doubt, what many interpret Cameron to be saying in this interview. It is not, however, the Biblical view of Christianity.
The Biblical view of Christianity is that all people are sinners, regardless of actions, rituals, and lifestyle choices. No one, no matter how good, conforms to the quality of goodness required by God. What Christianity offers is forgiveness from sin, not a magical transformation into a perfect person. The difference between a true Christian and a non-Christian is that a true Christian has recognized and repented of their corruption. A non-Christian often embraces their corruption, or dismisses it as psychological issues brought on by society and their upbringing.
Assuming this standard, when a Christian identifies something as sinful, it is not because they are elevating themselves to the level of a moral judge, but rather because they have seen their own corruption.
When Jesus died, he hung between two thieves, both of whom mocked him. At some point, however, one of the thieves recognized his error, and said to the other thief, “Do you not fear God, seeing you are in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
While a proper Christian may recognize sin in others because they know the standard God sets, they are also keenly aware of their own mistakes past and present. They know they have received God’s forgiveness through Christ Jesus for all their sins. A proper Christian is not condemning but contrite. They are not haughty but humble. God alone has the right to judge people’s actions. It is the job of the Christian to invite others into the forgiveness that they, themselves, have received.