Ethics of Queer Holiness Final Question 3

Christianity (Catholic and Protestant) adopted Augustine’s sexualized interpretation of sin. In what ways would you explain sin and grace differently for the LGBTQ+ community? (Read and utilize Cheng’s chapter 8 and Pagels’ chapter 6) (15 points)

Sin is an interesting topic to discuss. We talk about this often at meetings of Treehouse, the campus ministry I serve. Is sin a list of conditions that need to be met, or rules that need to be followed in order to receive God’s grace?

Evangelical Christianity seems to have made it clear that sin is a group of rules that keep society running in a way that is allowing God’s grace to be received by those who follow these rules, and not allowing grace to those who do not follow the rules. Sin as a set of rules is a way that people in power can remain in power. Elaine Pagels discusses the concept of sin as a set of rules to keep and how people need to have a reason for their suffering. People “would rather feel guilty than helpless.”[1] By saying that sin is something we need to avoid it allows those in power to maintain power. We are presented with sin as a disease or something to make sure we do not do. This aligns with people questioning why bad things happened. It is because we are sinful. If we keep the rules then life is great and there is no pain. Really?

I honestly align more with Karl Barth and his understanding of sin. “Barth understands sin as whatever is opposed to the grace of what God has done for humanity in Jesus Christ.”[2] Sin is defined by our relationship to Jesus and is not a list of rules to be followed. What is sin for me may not be sin for you. God has sent grace into the world in the person of Jesus Christ and shown us how to live. Sin enters my life when something gets in between the love Christ has for me and me. This could include me hiding my real or true self because I think that society will not accept the real me so I hide behind something that society says I am. Patrick Cheng says this is “the sin of hiding or negation of the self.”[3] Sin is not a list of rules or an order of how you have to be. Sin is whatever keeps you from loving yourself and knowing that God loves you.

And God loving you is grace. Grace is an unmerited gift that God bestows on everyone. Grace can not be obtained from following the nonexistent sin list. Grace cannot be lost because you allowed sin to infiltrate your life. We do not need to do a check list for the leading minority to not be sinful. Just because your authentic self doesn’t fit into the mold of the heterosexual normative understanding does not mean you do not have God’s grace or are living in sin. Your life was created by God to be the person God intended for you to be. None of us are the same and all of us are the image of God. So you can not see God until you see all of us as one. Excluding any person from the table because they do not fit your normative understanding of what belongs to God means that God is not present. That is sin. You are placing yourself in a place to say who is in and who is out. God says everyone is in, because grace belongs to all. 

Simply put, grace is unmerited love from God to every person, regardless of race, creed, gender identity, or any other human designed division. Sin is whatever gets in the way of you loving yourself and knowing God loves you. It’s Simple. You are loved by God regardless of what anyone else says and there is not a magic list of rules that you must follow to be accepted or to receive God’s grace.

[1] Pagels, Elaine. Adam, Eve, and The Serpent. p. 146.

[2] Ellison, Marvin M and Douglas, Kelly Brown ed. Sexuality and the Sacred. p. 108.

[3] Ibid p. 108

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