A Baptist pastor named Roger Jimenez in Sacramento has been making headlines for preaching that the 49 people who died at the gay club in Orlando deserved it. Somehow a pastor in California has taken a horrific tragedy, the worst mass shooting in US history and made it worse.
I have many problems with his offensive message, but here I will only mention four points (keep reading after #1). He apparently based part of his sermon on Romans, so I’ll focus my comments there before jumping to Genesis.
First, according to the apostle Paul, “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23) so, biblically one could agree with Pastor Jimenez that the people killed in Orlando deserved to die. But this is not Paul’s main point, or where his message ends.
Second, Paul also said “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23), so we should add Pastor Jimenez, and Dave Lamb to the list of people who deserve death (and all the readers of this blog). His sermon went viral, but it would have been more biblical if he included himself and everyone in his congregation in his list of people who deserve death.
Third, when Paul talked about the wages of sin as resulting in death, he also spoke of the free gift of God through Jesus (Rom. 6:23). I haven’t listened to all of Pastor Jimenez’s sermon, but at least as his message and his subsequent comments are being reported in the press, he doesn’t mention anything about God’s grace, which again would have made his message more biblical. Preachers shouldn’t conclude by saying sinners, like us, deserve death, but they need to get to the good news about God’s grace.
Fourth, father Abraham* instead of condemning the wicked residents of Sodom to death, actually risked his life in prayer for them, asking God to show mercy to the Sodomites (Gen 18:16-33). I discuss Abraham’s prayer, the Bible’s attitude toward homosexuality, and what really was the sin of Sodom in more depth in Prostitutes and Polygamists in my chapter on homosexuality (pages 161-183), so I won’t go into depth on those subjects here. Tragically, Christians are often perceived to be more like Pastor Jimenez, than Father Abraham. But how cool would it be if Christians were known to be like Abraham, in this regard, interceding in costly ways for people associated with the sins of Sodom? We have a long ways to go.