If the American Christian would read the Bible, they would find it both life-giving and supremely challenging to our cultural norms. Scripture has a way, in one sentence sometimes, of preventing us from feeling smug in our little divisions between progressive and conservative. God doesn’t play favorites when He’s calling us to holiness. Both sides fall under conviction.
A good example of this is when Paul writes to the Ephesians, “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people”(Ephesians 5:3). What is absolutely brilliant about this is that in one verse, God dismantles the pet sins of the Right and the Left.
The unforgivable sin in progressive Christian circles seems to be greed. Yet, and I know I am stereotyping here, progressives tend to overlook sexual sin in general. Sex outside of marriage? No problem if you “love” the person. Sleeping around? Normal sexual development. Pornography? Sure, if it helps your sex life. Homosexuality? Born that way. Masturbation? Healthy and normal. Adultery? Maybe don’t do this one unless your partner gives you the green light. There seems to be a justification for nearly every sexual sin that is out there. So when a progressive comes upon a Scripture passage that says there shouldn’t even be “a hint of sexual immorality” they are forced to ignore it or manipulate it to fit their worldview. It’s totally disruptive to the typical progressive mindset.
Yet, in conservative Christian circles, the unforgivable sins tend to be in the category of sexuality. But greed is rarely discussed as a sin. The greedy are described as billionaires, but everyone else is safe from this sin. The greed of ignoring the material needs of others is explained away as a personal choice. To talk about the systemic greed in the investment banking world or the corporate world is anathema. To do so could mean expulsion from the country club. So when a Scripture essentially says that greed is as immoral as sexual sin, it is totally disruptive to the typical conservative mindset.
God, through His Word, doesn’t let us have pet sins. Maybe one way to help each group is to frame the pet sin in the language of their unforgivable sin.
To the progressive Christians, what God is saying is that to have even a “hint” of sexual sin is to be morally greedy with physical intimacy. The same greed that collects millions of dollars will also collect sexual partners and sexual perversions. To conservative Christians, material greed is essentially fiscal promiscuity. Corporate greed is economic pedophilia. Maybe using stark language like this can help each group have more of a visceral reaction against the true nature of sin.