Homosexuality: Ordered Sins versus Disordered Sins
Posted on November 16, 2019
In the current dispute ( = battle) over homosexuality and same-sex “marriage” and “-attraction” ( = temptation) in the church, biblical conservatives are often confronted by this argument: “Yes, homosexuality and its related desires are sinful, but they are no worse than their heterosexual counterparts.” (The terms homosexual and heterosexual are 19th century secular, humanistic inventions, but they are the only verbal currency available to us in the present climate, and that’s the only reason I use them.)
The “homosexuality is no worse” assertion fails to distinguish between ordered and disordered sins. Ordered sins are violations within creational normativity. Disordered sins attempt to overturn the cosmic order.
In Genesis 1-2 as well as subsequent biblical texts that refer to the creation, the Holy Spirit lays out God’s OS (operating system) that inheres in his creational order. If we attempt to upend that order, we do not destroy creation, but we do end up destroying ourselves and our societies. Sins against this creational order we may designate as disordered sins. These sins delegitimize and strike at the created order itself.
Ordered sins, conversely, are violations of God’s law within his order. Theft, kidnapping, gossip, adultery, and assault are ordered sins. They transgress God’s norms for his creational order.
Disordered sins strike at the order itself, attempting to overturn it. Examples are idolatry, homosexuality, murder, and today’s radical environmentalism. Let’s take these sequentially.
The Creator-creature distinction is the very first and the basic creational norm. God created the universe, and though he broods over it, he is not a part of it. To worship creation as God is to attempt to overturn the basic created order.
Marriage, likewise, is a creational norm, defined as a covenantally bound sexual union of one man and one woman in which the most intense earthly intimacy is exhibited and on which the propagation of the race depends. Sexual intercourse (or lust) between members of the same sex; or between humans and non-humans (bestiality); or, by extension, by humans with machines (robotic sex, coming soon via Amazon delivery to a neighbor near you) try to deracinate the created order.
It should come as no surprise that in Romans 1, Paul unites and highlights idolatry and homosexuality as ultimate sins: they are contra-creational, high-handed, rebellion. They therefore warrant God’s severest judgment, being among the severest sins.
Then there’s murder. Man was created in the image of God, and thus to destroy that image is to subvert his created order. This is why one of the first positive laws of the Bible to which a penal sanction is attached is the prohibition of murder. To destroy human life without divine cause (this includes aborticide) is to attack the imago dei, a creational norm.
We might balk at seeing radical environmentalism similarly categorized, but the cultural mandate (Gen. 1:28–30) is itself a creational norm. Man and woman are placed on earth principally to exercise stewarding dominion over the rest of God’s non-human creation. Radical environmentalism reverses this command; or prohibits him in this calling; and in some cases, presses for the dominion of nature over man, a radical contra-creational reversal. Radical environmentalism is, therefore, a disordered sin.
One striking inferential proof of the comparative severity of homosexuality is the fact that the Bible does not establish boundaries for it as it does with heterosexuality. The Bible is replete with probations of specific heterosexual acts: rape, pedophilia, premarital sex, adultery, incest, and so forth. There are no such prohibitions with respect to homosexuality, simply because they unnecessary. It is necessary to issue such prohibitions with respect to heterosexuality, because heterosexuality is a creational norm that can be violated.
Homosexuality, on the other hand, admits of no qualification, since every homosexual act is a sin. That palpably is not true as it pertains to heterosexuality. Ordered sins are those whose specific variation can be and often is a virtue; disordered sins are those for which no variation is valid and for which no variant boundaries are necessary.
To mitigate the severe verdict on homosexuality and related sins is to confuse ordered and disordered sins. Homosexuality is cosmic insurrection.
To try to break the creational OS is the worst sin of all.