All scripture is from the ESV translation unless otherwise noted.
Saturday, May 11, 2013
Before anything else, I want to make clear that this is not a “Is homosexuality a sin?” post. I stand firm on the side that homosexuality is a sin. If you’re torn on this issue, I encourage you to listen to this sermon: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/homosexuality-righteousness/id215643678?i=98698441. I used to be on the other side of the issue mainly because that’s what I wanted to believe but when I humbly sought the truth, God revealed it to me in power.
This issue is one that is very close to my heart because I have several friends and relatives who are homosexuals, including my Aunt Win who passed away when I was in 7th grade and was easily the most selfless, caring person that I have ever met. It pains me that many of these people have been pushed so far away from Jesus because of the way they have been treated by those who claim to follow him, and that’s why I feel the need the write this post. While it seems that Christians could easily deduce how to treat those living in the sin of homosexuality by simply studying the Word of God, it has become increasingly apparent to me that many who bear the name of Christ are oblivious on this issue.
1 John 4:19 is a verse that is simple, meaningful, and yet ignored. It reads, “ We love because he first loved us”. That is, the true ability to love can only come from one who has experienced the love of God. The implication of this is that those who are in Christ are able to love others more fully and servant-heartedly than those who do not know Jesus. Why is it, then, that so many homosexuals characterize Christians as “hateful”? How did we miss this? It’d be bad enough if they said “Oh yeah, Christians are nice. I’m not really great friends with any, though”, but we are in fact on the opposite extreme of where we should be!
Many Christians, especially in the south, were raised in homes where homosexuality was set apart as a sin that was far more condemning than others. There are alcoholics who condemn homosexuals for being “against God” while they fail to heed Paul’s exhortation in Ephesians 5:18 – “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit.” These people have committed two sins – drunkenness and being ashamed of the word of the Lord (Luke 9:26) – yet in their opinion they have a better standing with God than homosexuals. To have any hope for breaking ground in this area, we must revisit the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
At one point, we were all broken, sinful, bent away from God, and unrighteous. Because of our sin, we were separated from God in the present day and headed on a path leading to eternal separation – and well deserving of this fate. Yet, for a reason I will never understand, God made a way for us to have a relationship with him. He sent himself in the flesh to live the perfect life (that his sacrifice might be acceptable), die on a cross, and be resurrected (to show that death could not defeat him), so that whoever believes in him shall not perish in hell but have eternal life in heaven with God, not because of works of righteousness that you have done but according to his MERCY and GRACE (John 3:16, Titus 3:5).
The reasoning behind God loving us so is incomprehensible to me, but in this way he sets the example for how we should love others (as seen in 1 John 4:19) – with love that people cannot explain or understand. I dream of a day when, when asked about their thoughts on Christians, homosexuals will say , “It’s weird. I have friends that have no problem with my lifestyle who are great friends, but my best friends are Christians. They do not agree with many of my choices, but they love me in a way that I can’t comprehend.”
For an example of this love, we need look no further than the woman at the well in John 4. She too was caught in sexual sin and Jesus came to her and told her, “Come to me and drink from my well of living water. I love you. I know of all your sin but I do not hold it against you.” Jesus not only told us to love, he showed us how. Let us follow his example.
By now I’m hoping you understand that we, as followers of Jesus, should treat homosexuals no differently than someone else who does not have a relationship with Jesus. The challenge is to put that into practice. If you have animosity built up towards homosexuals, it needs to be addressed because it is a hindrance to the gospel. In addition to pushing away homosexuals, a friend of yours who struggles with this sin will certainly keep his struggles to himself out of fear of your judgment. There is too much at stake for you to revel in your false convictions that homosexuals are somehow worse than you were before you knew Jesus.
The phrase, “love the sinner, hate the sin” is a great dictation of what this whole post is saying. The aforementioned conviction is such an issue because it is what I would call “rejection of the sinner”. While nearly all people see this as bad, you must understand that “acceptance of the sin” is just as bad. This came to my attention when I read a letter online from a lesbian to her church that said, “for those who tell us that what we’re doing is okay, you give us no hope.” For homosexuals in your congregation who desire to follow Jesus, you must tell them about God’s thoughts on the issue, but do so in love. For those who do not desire to follow him, your focus should not be on their sin at all. Even if they stopped having sexual relations with people of the same gender, they will go to hell if they don’t know Jesus. Your job is to preach the gospel to them... just like everyone else who doesn’t know him!
Lay your imperfections at the cross and pray that God will love through you. Remind me, Christian, was it hate that saved you?
I live in an adulterous and sinful generation. Without you, I am no better than the rest. Make me aware of my brokenness, in effect tearing down any pride I may have. Oh, if we loved how you first loved us – where your kingdom would go. Love through me, Dad. I desire to love others with a capacity that can only be explained by the Creator of the Universe dwelling inside of me. Then they will see you. I pray all of this in faith and in the name of your son Jesus who was victorious over sin and death,