Thursday, August 8, 2013

Christian Polar Paradigms

I am rather amazed at the polar opposite reactions of Christians to the Supreme Court's repealing of DOMA. Christians are horrified. Christians are ecstatic.

This has been compounded by Rachel Held Evans' article on why millenials are leaving the church and what we should do about it, plus the many articles and posts written in response to her.

"Ra-Ra-Ra! Tolerate Diversity!" versus "Homosexuals are going to burn in hell!"

I have heard/read many times in the ensuing brawl, that Christians need to tolerate sin and be compassionate because God tolerates sin and is compassionate.

This is a 50% true and a 50% false statement. 

The false statement is the thought that Christians need to tolerate any sin. Any sin. Not just homosexuality or immorality, but lying, stealing, murder, etc..

God is compassionate. We need to be compassionate. We need to love all sinners despite their particular brand of sin.

As a matter of fact, "God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life." That's John 3:16, maybe the most familiar verse in the Bible.

Notice the love, accompanied by the gift of His Son and His Son's life to avert the judgement of sin in our lives. Jesus Christ bore the judgement for our sins. He paid the price because we broke God's law. Tolerating sin and loving a sinner are two completely different thoughts.

To tolerate is to allow the existence of something that you do not necessarily agree with, without interference.

God never-ever tolerates sin. To think God tolerates sin is to be in error. He doesn't allow sin without interference.

God judges sin. From death entering with sin in the garden of Eden, and the other consequences of Adam and Eve's first sin, sin has been judged. God destroyed the entire world with a flood-in the 6th chapter of the Bible, because men were so continually evil. There is case after case of sin and resulting judgement by God in the Bible, culminating in the destruction of the world by fire in Revelation.

Including the most thorough judgement of sin...Calvary. Jesus Christ taking on Himself the crime and the punishment of every sin of every sinner in the entire world. God does not tolerate sin. God judges sin.

Now, you may wonder at my audacity to make such a black and white statement. Because it is a very definitive statement. There is no grey there.

In our day and age of political correctness, we have a problem with making black and white statements. We don't want to offend anyone. After all, God is love and God is compassionate and God tolerates. We want to reword the Bible and change scripture to match our progressive and improved thinking. Not only is everyone supposed to tolerate sin, we are expected to embrace it. We are expected to accept and support sin.

In our society, we are expected to not interfere with any brand of immorality. It isn't just that we are expected to be aware that homosexuality, adultery, and promiscuity exists, we are expected to accept and support it. We are expected to allow it in our churches and in our country without saying anything against it. We are expected to support and accept it by our laws. By not taking a stand against the sin. 

We need to be willing to think and promote Biblical thoughts. All Biblical thoughts. Not just picking and choosing the ones we like-whether in support of sin or in hate against sinners. Neither are Biblical thoughts.

We need to be willing to think high thoughts of God. We need to be willing to challenge unBiblical thinking such as the catchy phrase "tolerate diversity". God is the author of diversity. He doesn't tolerate sin.

I love the term paradigm. It is one of my new favorite words. A paradigm is a typical example of something. It is the standard that we measure something by. When we use paradigm in regards to ourselves, we often talk about our back grounds, and how where we are from and our personality and experiences color how we look at things.

My paradigm is based on familiarity with Scripture. It is based on reading over and over again for years about God and His unchanging character and standards and how He acts.

Maybe you think my paradigm of this issue is ignorant or simplistic or even bigoted. Maybe you agree with my paradigm.

I would also venture to say, in direct contradiction to some things I have read lately, that God does place immorality, and particularly homosexuality, on a different plane than other sins. I would not say He judges it more harshly, but God does rank it differently. In the law, God calls homosexuality an abomination. He does not term every sin an abomination. In Romans 1, homosexuality is equated with reprobation and depravity. In the list, it is considered one of the worst sins. In 1 Corinthians 5 and 6, sexual sin is said to be against the body. Unlike other sin.

All this to say that it doesn't mean God hates those sinners. He hates their sin. But, again, He also sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for that sin and those sinners.

Our call as Christians is not to tolerate sin. We don't need to support or embrace it. We don't need to blindly allow it. But we also don't need to spew caustic and hateful junk from our mouths. We need to let our hearts be broken for all these needy people. Our call is to love the sinner and lovingly show them the truth of Scripture in humility. Is that possible? Absolutely.

If God can be true to all facets of His character (such as love, holiness, truth, righteous, compassion, judge and forgiving) by judging sin and loving sinners, so can we. The story of the cross is the biggest story of judgement. And of love. God loving the whole world enough to send His loved Son to die for us. In our place. Through God's grace it is possible to strike the needed balance.

In the words of the Apostle Paul, "do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother." (2 Thessalonians 3:15) (for the sake of being true to context the verse before says that if anyone ins't obeying what Paul wrote in this letter, they weren't to hang out with that person.)

Are you willing to embrace all facets of Biblical thinking? To truly imbibe the heart of WWJD?