Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A Response to "A Teen's Brave Response."

I read something that made me think today. You can read it here. I suggest that you do, so that you have a little context for the rest of this post.

"Love the sinner, hate the sin" is really difficult when someone takes a type of sin as their personal identity. If you think homosexuality is wrong, for instance, someone who identifies him or herself as a homosexual is likely to think that you hate them.

It must be somehow possible to disagree with someone's behavior, and tell them so, but still love them through our actions. And yet, we so often (as Christians) are tempted to extremes. Either we side with vitriolic hatred or complete relativistic acceptance.

The article I've linked to above presents a clear picture of how easy it is to hate what we don't know. Once someone in our immediate circle of influence starts claiming a particular identity or practicing a certain behavior we disagree with, suddenly we come face to face with what previously we had only heard or talked about. We then must choose how to react

Unfortunately, the two basic options usually boil down to "Accept this person and his/her conduct without reservation," or "Completely reject this person and refuse to ever speak to him/her again except to remind him/her of how wrong they are." This seems like an emotionally driven false dichotomy.

Let's take some of the emotional charge out of the issue and examine several truths.

1. The Bible, which Christians believe to be God's Word, seems to indicate that homosexuality is a sin.
2. There are many other actions that the Bible also seems to indicate are sins.
3. Sins are treated somewhat equally in the New Testament, although penalties in the Old Testament were less severe for some sins than for others.
4. The Bible also says that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
5. On a different note, the Bible also speaks of us as being "made in the image of God." Moreover, God considered us valuable enough to send Jesus to die for us.

Taking all of these truths into consideration, there can be only one conclusion, and it can be summed up by the following paragraph.

Homosexuality is a sin. Sin is something that God hates, so we must hate it as well. However, it is equally wrong to all other sins, so we must hate all other sins as much as we hate homosexuality. Moreover, we must do so with humility and not out of self-righteousness, noting that all of us have been equally guilty in the sight of God, and are redeemed not through any goodness of our own. Not only does God hate sin, he loves humanity to the point of death. We must strive to love all of humanity the same way He does.

These are just some of my thoughts. Feel free to reply with some of your own. If you decide to respond, please measure your response before you post it. This is an emotionally charged issue, and it's easy for discussions like this to devolve into mud-slinging contests.



Amanda said...

I'm reminded of a quote by Dr. Timothy Keller:
"...human beings were made not only to believe in God in some general way, but to love him supremely...and build their very identities on him. Anything other than this is sin. Most people think of sin primarily as 'breaking Divine rules,' but sin is not just doing bad things. [It's also] making good things into *ultimate* things." Thus, the root of the problem is idolatry.
Yes, the boy finds his identity in homosexuality, which is a sinful practice. Yet this story features another false god as well. When Christians turn a good thing like "tolerance" into an ULTIMATE thing, it leads to extreme permissiveness and a watering down of the Gospel. THIS is what we mean when we say "all of us are sinners who need a Savior." But are we too proud of our society-sanctioned identities to believe it?

Clint said...

I'd say another false god is the idolatry of righteousness. Ironic, but so many Christians seek to be incredibly holy and set apart. However, Christ is not concerned about our appearances, but our hearts.

Who is holier? The one who scorns the homosexual and calls sin 'sin'? Or the one who shows the love of Christ to the homosexual through friendship?

If righteousness exceeds grace, we have traded Christ's sacrifice for the obsolete law. But if grace exceeds righteousness, we have continued to sin so that grace may abound (or to put it more viscerally, we add agony to the Crucifixion).

Put simply, Christ tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves. Once we start dictating who is worth our love (which is tied to the Golden Rule, I may add), have we not begun to dictate who receives grace?

A difficult issue indeed. Personally, I feel that Christ has given me plenty to do with my life. Serving my neighbor, whoever they may be, is one of many commands given to me by Jesus Christ. Given its importance, I would not see it wise to break such a commandment.

Drug use is sinful. Drug addicts need help though, not scorn. Stealing is sinful. Thieves need new work with clean hands though, not scorn. Adultery is sinful. Adulterers need renewed hearts and healing brought to their relationships though, not scorn. Homosexuality is sinful. Homosexuals need Godly people to help sort out their feelings on their sexuality, not scorn.

To clarify: I won't judge non-believers for sinning. That is illogical, they are not under any obligation from God. However, a Christian has put themselves under God's authority and as such there is a limit to what the church body may tolerate. This was taught by Paul and I believe it is a sound argument. To the point, I hold much higher standards for Christians than non-Christians

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