When I was growing up, every Preacher had a hobby-horse, some sin or social problem that he screamed about in every sermon, regardless of the topic: working on the Sabbath, playing cards, liberal Christians, Communists, hippies.
In 1977, at the start of my senior year in high school, we got a new preacher, Brother Spearman, whose hobby-horse was the Unpardonable Sin.
God didn’t distinguish between little sins (like falling asleep in church) or big sins (like going to a movie). The punishment was always the same, burning for eternity in the Lake of Fire. But, if you went down to the altar and moaned and sobbed loud enough, God would forgive you for any sin, no matter how heinous.
With one exception. If you committed the Unpardonable Sin, you were doomed to the Lake of Fire, no matter how often you went to the altar and moaned and sobbed. God wouldn't forgive you.
God's Word didn't tell us which sin was unpardonable, though occasionally a Sunday school teacher speculated that it was believing in evolution, setting foot inside a Catholic church, listening to rock music, or getting your hand stamped for re-entry into an event. Preachers usually kept mum, because their jobs depended on a lot of sinners going down to the altar, and you wouldn't go down unless you thought you could be forgiven.
When Brother Spearman dangled the Unpardonable Sin in front of the congregation; he got people to the altar, but it kept backfiring. God held grudges. When you got to the altar, you had to work to persuade Him. You had to cry hard, moan and gasp, and plead over and over, sometimes for ten minutes, sometimes longer. But suddenly anyone who didn't feel the ecstatic release of Victory within a few seconds concluded that they were doomed.
One Sunday Laverne Larsen, son of the Sunday School Superintendent (yes, a boy was named Laverne), was having trouble praying through to Victory. Suddenly he brushed off the hands of the church men, leapt to his feet, and screamed “God won’t forgive me! I committed the Unpardonable Sin!” He ran sobbing from the sanctuary.
Making church royalty doubt their salvation did not bode well for Brother Spearman’s continuing employment. He had to think of a new altar call draw, and fast!
He hit on the answer when he read a newspaper article about a town somewhere out west passing a law that prohibited normal people from speaking out against Homa-Sekshuls.
Suddenly Brother Spearman realized: the Unpardonable Sin was turning Homa-Sekshul!
When the hippie boys started acting like girls in the 1960s, we called them harmless lunatics. But Satan was able use their long hair and beads and rawhide fringes against them. He whispered “Men are just like women, so why not become a woman?” And countless thousands turned into Homa-Sekshuls. And now we were allowing Them to roam freely in the streets and appear all over the tv screen -- on Three's Company, Soap, Barney Miller.
Shaun Cassidy and Leif Garrett, who sang songs to brainwash kids into turning that way!
I had never heard gay people mentioned in church before, not once in thousands of sermons and lessons and meetings. But I took careful notes, and later I looked up the tv programs and teen idols he mentioned.
The effect was strong, and immediate. The moment Brother Spearman signaled the altar call, a dozen teens and adult men rushed forward to beg God’s forgiveness, some for the sin of a momentary lapse in masculinity, others for the sin of thinking that Homa-Sekshuls were just harmless lunatics.
Brother Spearman had found his new hobby-horse! After that he included Homa-Sekshuls in every sermon rant, regardless of his actual topic:
Why does God hate premarital sex? Because once you start having sex with anybody whenever you feel like it, it’s only a matter of time before you start looking funny at men.
What’s wrong with the Catholics? They won't let their priests and monks get married, the way God intended, so they're bound to turn Homa-Sekshul.
Even at Christmas: When Joseph found out that Mary was pregnant, he could have left her, but he didn’t, because he was an honorable man, not a Homa-Sekshul.
I thought the whole thing was ridiculous. What evidence did he have that Shaun Cassidy and Leif Garrett were gay? How could you "turn" gay through heterosexual sex? Preachers always set up straw dogs, groups that it was easy to hate, so you could blame them for everything wrong with the world: Catholics, evolutionists, liberal Christians, Hollywood movie producers. Why were Homa-Sekshuls any worse?
See also: Trying to Escape Church