Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Current Events: Learning to Love the Sinner but Hate the Sin

The BFF asked me the morning if I was going to blog about the legalization of gay marriage.

It's such a big subject. Many, many people have already sounded forth on both sides of the issue. I see levels, nuances and tension. My many thoughts on the subject mean that it is going to be hard work writing. Not easy, type it up, add a graphic, and publish. This is hard work writing.

-Every person who posted on social media this weekend against legalized gay marriage, was lambasted in the comments. Without fail. 

A lot of the comments ran along the lines of Christian bigot. To think the SCOTUS decision is wrong is to be hateful and close minded and intolerant and unenlightened. There were less harsh accusations of hypocrisy. To be against legalized gay marriage is practically claiming to be without sin, didn't you know? Which no one is. Thus, Christians who are against legalized gay marriage need to zip it, until the time that they reach perfection. Then they will be allowed to add something to the discussion.

I believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God. I believe everything in it is true. This is the filter, the paradigm, on which my life is based. This is what forms my unapologetic Biblical worldview. The Bible is the lens through which I view the world.

Just because this is my paradigm doesn't mean I am stupid, hateful, hypocritical, gullible, naive, archaic, bigoted, or any number of other adjectives that have been used to describe people like me.

The Bible says that homosexuality is sin. The Bible calls homosexuality depraved. The Bible calls homosexuality an abomination. The fact that other sin is sin, does not negate the fact that homosexuality is sin. 

Homosexuality is insidious in nature. The whole gay agenda is insidious in nature. The fact that this "victory" is being celebrated by Christians and non-Christians alike should cause us to wake up and take notice. Being on the same page as the world is very rarely a good thing. 

Homosexuality is something that God condemns in Scripture and yet a lot of His people are rejoicing this is now legal. Rainbows are being worn with pride. 

It's ludicrous.

Almost everyone believes stealing-taking something that does not belong to you-is wrong. The Bible says it is sin. We don't celebrate stealing, or thieves. We wouldn't celebrate legislation that made stealing legal.

Most people believe affairs are wrong. Affairs are novelized and romanticized. But, affairs, even in movies and popular novels, always happen on the down low. There is sneaking and deceit. Why? As human beings, we know it is wrong to cheat on a spouse. That's why we try to hide it. The Bible says affairs are sin.

Sex trafficking is despicable. And though many are supporting it in various ways, if pressed, most people would publicly admit that it is despicable. The Bible calls it sin. We don't celebrate sex trafficking. We wouldn't celebrate legislation that made sex-trafficking legal. As a matter of fact, there is a whole lot of people lobbying for tougher legislation so that it is even more illegal.

Lying. Cheating. Murder. Greed. These are all things that are mostly frowned upon in our society. We don't celebrate them. Some are illegal in our country, and we are not pushing legislation to make them legal on the basis of justice and love and equality. Furthermore, the Bible calls these things sin, and we are okay with that. It agrees with our own moral code.

So, why, are a whole lot of mainline Christians thrilled about this Supreme Court ruling? Why are a whole lot of mainline Christians against calling homosexuality sin?

It doesn't make sense to me.

I differ from a lot of evangelicals in that I don't believe the United States in a Christian country. I certainly do not believe we are a Theocracy. I wouldn't necessarily say that we were founded upon Christian principles. 

People of any worldview in our democracy want to see legislation that supports their worldview. It's only logical. This applies to Christians with a Biblical worldview. It applies to others who don't have a Biblical worldview. 

Our experiences shape our worldview, but our experiences do not affect the truth. 

It doesn't matter how many gays you know, homosexuality is still sin. It doesn't matter their personalities, or their basic goodness. That doesn't change the truth. 

Truth is an absolute. It doesn't change from person to person, culture to culture, generation to generation. 

Truth is found in the person of Jesus Christ (John 14:6) whether you believe that or not. Truth is found in the Bible. Thy word is truth. (John 17:17)

-Judge not, is probably the most quoted verse in the Bible. But, it is only part of the verse. Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgement you judge, you will be judged. With what measure you measure, it shall be measured to you again. (Matthew 7:1-2)

Humans will be judged by the same standards they use to judge. That is what the Bible is saying. Judge not is not a sentence, it's a phrase, of a longer sentence.

As a believer, I have a problem with the Supreme Court ruling. It directly opposes the Bible, which is the paradigm I used to form my beliefs and behaviors.

As an American, I have the Constitutional right to protest this ruling. I'm not saying that I am going to break the law. I am saying that I can let my voice be heard to try and change this ruling. I can write my Senators and Congressmen. I can write President Obama. I can vote. I can be involved. It's how the amendments starting, and then ending, the Prohibition, were passed.

Furthermore, it is possible to disagree with a behavior on the basis of Scripture and oppose a law of our land, without being a person full of hate and vindictiveness.

-Homosexuality is not only a sin, it is a judgement. This ruling is a judgement on our country. Many are celebrating the victory for love, but it's actually a suppression of the truth, an exchange of the truth for a lie. 

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.

Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural, and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.

And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, 
being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, unloving, unmerciful; and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them. (Romans 1:18-32)

-I've read this weekend that in the case of homosexuality, it is not enough to love the sinner and hate the sin. Homosexuality is claimed to be more than a behavior, it is an identity. By rejecting the behavior, we are rejecting the person. 

I know that a lot of conservative Christians will not agree with me, but I can't unequivocally say that homosexuals aren't born with a disposition towards homosexuality. I just don't know.

What I do know is that even if there is a disposition towards sinful behavior, that impulse does not need to be carried out. 

I believe you can be a Christian and be a person who identifies as a homosexual. I do not believe you can be a genuine Christian and live a life-style that the Bible condemns repeatedly in both the Old and New Testaments. I believe there is freedom in Christ from habitual sin-whatever than sin is.

-There is tension in my soul. How do I show the love of Christ to homosexuals, while upholding the Biblical truths that are foundational to my life? I'm really pondering this. What does this love look like?

The practical how is comparable to negotiating a mine field.

In all the conversation since Friday, believers and unbelievers alike are emphasizing, "judge not." They are pointing out that Jesus ate with sinners. That Jesus is the friend of sinners.

And, that's true.

Homosexuality was a sin back in Jesus' day too. You don't have to delve too far into Greek and Roman culture to find that out. There is a good possibility that Jesus rubbed shoulders with homosexuals. He may have even eaten with some. I don't know. I certainly can't deny it.

But, people didn't remain the same after their encounter with Jesus Christ. He didn't call out fire and brimstone on sinners. He didn't judge sinners. But He didn't condone or tolerate sin either.

Zaccheus-changed. Mary Magdelene-changed. Woman at the Well-changed. Paul-changed.

One of the most familiar verses in the Bible is John 3:16. But, context is everything...

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” (John 3:16-21)

Jesus' mission wasn't to condemn. It was to save. 

But the Bible also clearly teaches that judgement is coming. And it will be led by Jesus Christ.

And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, King Of Kings, And Lord Of Lords. (Revelation 19: 11-16)

That's gory and decisive and very clear. Jesus Christ will be judging. 

Which is an inconvenient truth for all the #LoveWins advocates among us. Love doesn't win. God does.

Love is not just positive, sweetness and light. What about tough love? What about telling the truth? What about when silence is actually not love?

Sinners are going to be judged. Sinners will end up in hell forever. One facet of showing love to sinners is telling them how to avoid hell.

But, then I ask How do we practically, in our day to day lives, show Christ's love to homosexuals? How? 

That's the tension.

What does that loving look like?

Does it look like being friendly to my lesbian neighbor women? Conversing with them? Doing the things I do for my other neighbors, like making cookies at Christmas, and occasionally shoveling their walk?

Do I really believe it's the Holy Spirit's job to convict of sin? Does He need me to be preaching against certain sins-whether publicly or over my kitchen table? 

Does He want me to love first, and ask questions later?

Does He want them to know I am a Christian by my love? Towards God; towards other believers; towards unbelievers? When the hurting and the broken come through my doors, will they be won to Christ by my love?

Is it my job to point out the sin, or to point sinners to the Savior?

If my channeling of Jesus' love draws them to Christ, their encounter with Christ will not leave them unchanged. It just won't.