The Sin of Bank Robbery

Responding recently to an on-line post complaining that Christians recently seem overly concerned with the issue of homosexuality, to the neglect of equal condemnation of other sins denounced in Scripture.  I myself have made a similar point before: at least in the context of churches composed of those who claim to believe the Bible enough to take it seriously, heterosexual sins — fornication, adultery, and the often-resultant divorce and breakup of families — are orders-of-magnitude more frequent, and of much more serious concern (to say nothing of greed, hatred, gossip, drug abuse including alcohol, etc. etc.).

But when the focus of public attention — and even the rare instance of secular “moral outrage” — concerns a particular sin, it is understandable that Christians should engage the conversation on that point and at that time.  Have you seen the headline: “BREAKING NEWS: Washington DC and Hollywood up in arms over Phil Robertson openly condemning swindlers in GQ interview” ??

In this case, it’s the public media, LBGT propagandists, and others who usually champion free speech and support EEOC regulations prohibiting an employee’s religious views from being conditions of employment (or termination) — not Robertson or Christians — who have limited the outrage to discussion about homosexuality (or, in the case of a few, the comments on race relations of a white male who grew up in rural Louisiana during and shortly after the end of the Jim Crow era).

I have sometimes commented to audiences that I haven’t preached my famous sermon on “The Sin of Bank Robbery” lately — it’s a terrible crime and a sin which endangers lives and life savings, and people need to stop it! Of course, the (slightly humorous) point is that it is largely irrelevant to speak about issues which are not of concern at a particular time or to a specific audience. But then, people often don’t get my weird humor 🙂

The point remains: we can condemn “sin” generically, or preach loudly against sins no one within earshot is practicing, and have the effect (maybe) of merely making ourselves feel good about our “soundness.”  A statement commonly attributed to Martin Luther applies here (and while some dispute that he actually said it, I’ll repeat what one historian has said in another context: “If he didn’t say it, he should have!”).  Here’s the quotation:

“If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ.  Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battlefield besides is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.”

Well said — whoever said it!

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