In his Jan. 25 letter to the editor, Dave Premawardhana disagreed with my use of the Bible to argue against personal sexual sin and said the Bible teaches Christians to speak out against larger social problems. He feels that the type of argument I made is inconsistent with Jesus' teachings on love contained in the Gospels.
I believe Mr. Premawardhana is correct in stating that the Bible does teach us to act for the sake of social justice, but I believe he is wrong in saying that the verses that speak out against sexual sin are inconsistent with Christ's call to love our neighbor.
The biblical teachings on lust and greed are both important. We aren't at liberty to say that not having sex outside of marriage gives us the right to neglect the poor or to say we can sleep with whomever we want because the money we gave to charity means God will cut us some slack. God inspired the biblical authors to speak out against social evils and personal sins because both show disregard for his beloved creation.
Mr. Premawardhana also believes Jesus' teachings in the Gospel present an image of a loving God that differs from how God is depicted elsewhere in the Bible. This belief is disproved by the words of the Bible. Jesus' teachings on love are drawn from the Old Testament and are reaffirmed by all later New Testament writers. Jesus himself speaks as frequently about God's displeasure with sin and the consequences to be faced by unrepentant sinners as any of the Old Testament authors.
The entire Bible affirms the seriousness of sin and the possibility of unrepentant sinners being separated from God. But the entire Bible also consistently speaks of God's love and the forgiveness he offers to anyone who will turn from sin.