Pride. Lust. Idolatry. Greed. Envy. Gluttony. Sexual immorality. Sloth. Anger. Lying. Stealing. Cheating. Drunkenness. Gossip. Homosexuality.

A sin is a sin, is a sin.

“All of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory.” ~ Romans 3:23 (CEV)

It has been over two and half years since I started Seeking Grace & Gratitude and it is time for me to come out of the closet and reveal something very real about my life. Something that directly affects me and therefore something I cannot ignore.

My brother is gay.

I don’t disclose that lightly nor do I state that negatively. I have no shame in admitting my brother experiences same-sex attraction but I must openly declare that I do not condemn nor do I condone “it.”

I love the sinner, not the sin. I love the sinner because I am equally at fault with my own set of flaws and weaknesses. A sin is a sin. Just like you and everyone else on this planet, I am a sinner, too.

My brother came out to me about six years ago (which was a few years before same-sex marriage became legalized) and the first thing he confessed to me was, “I never wanted to be this way. I wouldn’t wish it upon anyone.”

As soon as I heard him say this, I thought, “me too.” While I do not battle same-sex attraction, I have my own long list of sins that I struggle with on a daily basis – anger, impatience, control, self-righteousness, and all of the standard Type-A/perfectionist tendencies, to name a few. These all negatively affect me each day if I give the devil a foothold. I often feel like my sin issues are a part of who I am even though I am a strong enough Christian to know they are not. Still, I believe I can relate to my brother’s homosexuality and his feeling like he was made (born) this way because the fact is, each one of us was perfectly designed but is also humanly flawed. Each one of us has a personal collection of sinful weaknesses that we are bent towards and attracted to. Homosexuality is no different from any other sin, even if culture wants to tell us otherwise.

After my brother courageously confided in me I made it my life’s mission to love and understand those who are different than me. In doing so, I have spent the last six years studying God’s Word pertaining to this topic as well as seeking wise Christian counsel and conversation with those who have same-sex attraction. I want to be prepared to defend my personal beliefs while not condemning anyone (especially my own family member) for their life choices and decisions. Truthfully, I don’t want my family (or anyone else, for that matter) to judge me or my life. So why would I do something or say something that would judge them and their life?

Friends, homosexuality is a sin just like any of the other sins listed above. No one is perfect and we are each guilty of sin. Not one soul, other than our perfect Savior Jesus Christ, is exempt from sin. Ever since the fall of man in Genesis 3 when sin entered the world, we have made our bed through human nature and have chosen to turn away from God.

While sins may have different consequences (i.e. murder versus gossip), a sin is still a sin in the eyes of God. Some may struggle with invasive lifestyle sins like same-sex attraction, alcoholism, eating disorders, or porn addiction. These sins are very much a part of a person’s every day life. Others may battle against the everyday sins like lying, cursing, or being angry. At the end of the day, we are all in the same war against Satan, the ruler and enemy of God’s perfectly designed yet deeply fallen world. Satan only wants what is worse for us – poison for our soul and destruction of God’s beautiful goodness. He will do whatever it takes to make us believe our sins of choice are a part of who we are. This is why it is so important that we are actively, intentionally, and purposefully seeking Jesus and studying God’s Word. In doing so, we are able to differentiate between the voice of the enemy and the voice of our Creator.

Fortunately for us, our Heavenly Father, the Creator of both you and I as well as the universe, has given us an ultimate gift to save us from our sinful behavior – a new life and identity in Christ.

“But God treats us much better than we deserve, and because of Christ Jesus, He freely accepts us and sets us free from our sins. God sent Christ to be our sacrifice. Christ offered His life’s blood, so that by faith in Him we could come to God. And God did this to show that in the past He was right to be patient and forgive sinners. This also shows that God is right when He accepts people who have faith in Jesus.” ~ Romans 3:24-26 (CEV)

Just as each one of us is a sinner, each one of us is forgiven and given a new life through Christ. All we need to do is have faith in the Lord and accept Jesus’s sacrifice of saving us from our sins.

Culture wants us to believe that some sins are acceptable while other sins are not sins at all. Sins like pornography, idolatry, orgies and same-sex relationships are socially acceptable in our world today. But friends, we must remember who the ruler of this world is (Satan) and what his end game is (separating us from God).

I recognize that six years isn’t a long time to have studied this hot topic that has infiltrated our culture. I still have a long ways to go in my pursuit of godly wisdom but the one golden nugget I have obtained is this most simple truth – lead with grace and live by love.

Love and grace are the entire message of the gospel. Love and grace are the constant encouragement and reinforcement, but in order for them to make a powerful impact and to serve their purpose we (followers of Christ) must be the ones to extend grace and live out what it means to love. It is not easy and at times can be the last thing we want to do. Trust me, I know. But, we must remember that God’s grace flows freely and His love is unconditional. If He gives us grace when we don’t deserve it and loves us when we feel unlovable, can’t we return the favor and gift grace and love to our brothers and sisters who are just as guilty and undeserving as us?

“But I am giving you a new command. You must love each other, just as I have loved you.  If you love each other, everyone will know that you are my disciples.” ~ John 13:34-35 (CEV)

Combine the action of love with God’s gift of grace and the sins that plague us (or those around us) won’t seem as important anymore. It is up to Christians to lead and live by this truth and we can’t have one without the other. Grace and love together create the most powerful union to defeat any of Satan’s schemes against mankind. Leading with grace and living by love is how Jesus wants us to live. If we can intentionally and purposefully pursue this message, we will be able to not focus on the sin but rather on the sinner who (like you and I) is a child of God.

“Let the Spirit change your way of thinking and make you into a new person. You were created to be like God, and so you must please him and be truly holy.” ~ Ephesians 4:23-24 (CEV)