Loving the Least
Not too long ago I wrote about loving your neighbor. I feel compelled to revisit that topic because I see so many posts on Facebook by gay and trans people accusing Christians of moral bankruptcy and hate. Why is that? It's because they've had such negative experiences interacting with Christians. It's because many Christians attack rather than love them. I want to explore that in this post and try to understand what our goal as Christians should be in this non-binary gender dystopia that we find ourselves in.
There's no doubt that the gay/trans/non-binary movement is here to stay. It's part of life now. It's what our kids will grow up with. It's too late to put the genie back in the bottle; we have to adjust and learn how to live in a world that increasingly disregards God's original concepts of gender and sexuality. It's important to begin by acknowledging that these trends are in contradiction with God's Word and His intent for us as men and women. It's also important to acknowledge that these sins are no more sinful than the sins you and I commit every day. Don't be deceived; we have a bias against these sins, but all sin is disgusting in God's eyes. You are no more holy or pure when you steal, cheat, lust after someone who is not your spouse, hurt someone with words, lie, break the law, etc. than these sexual deviants are. In God's eyes, one sin of any kind is enough to send you to Hell. Let's drop the pretense that we are better than these people. We're just sinners in different ways. We are all men and women in need of Jesus Christ and His redemptive work on the cross.
Let's also drop the pretense that it's our job to somehow stamp this out or fix these people. Yes, we are supposed to hate sin, but we are called to love people. Look at the way Jesus loved the woman caught in the act of adultery by showing her grace; look at how He loved the woman at the well who had had 5 husbands and was living with a man who was not her husband; look at how He loved the woman who poured oil on His feet whom the Pharisees present knew to be a "sinner." In fact, if you search Scripture, you find that Jesus had the most grace for the people who least deserved it (by our standards). The people for whom Jesus reserved His righteous anger were the religious hypocrites, the leaders of the synagogue and Jewish custom. It's not our job to force gay people to stop being gay. Not only is this an impossibility (you can never expect unredeemed people to live redeemed lives), but also, when you try, you set yourself against them as enemies. We are called to love them the way Jesus loves them. The old saying, "You catch more flies with honey" is applicable here. Are you more likely to have a positive impact in their lives in leading them toward the Gospel through love or accusation? When we point fingers and condemn, we turn them off to the Christian life and to the church. We repel them and convince them that their presuppositions about us were correct. But when we love them without pretense or reservation, we defy their expectations and change their understanding of what a Christian looks like.
This does not mean you should ignore their sin completely. Certainly, if they ask your opinion, give it. Certainly, live by a higher standard and show yourself an example of purity. And ABSOLUTELY, pray for them. But I'll reiterate that it's not our job to convict or condemn them. Scripture tells us whose job that is in John 16:7-8: "But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment" (emphasis mine). So it is the Holy Spirit's job to convict the unbeliever of sin in their lives. No man has ever saved another man. Only God saves souls through the Holy Spirit's conviction in their lives. It's possible that God will use you as the instrument by which this happens, but rest assured, God loves that person just as much as He loves you, and any conviction or condemnation will spawn out of His deep, unending love for them, and from His desire to draw them to Himself. If you find yourself angry, irritated, or frustrated, if you find yourself seeking to win an argument, prove someone wrong, or show yourself superior, you can be quite certain that that is coming from YOU and not from God.
You might say to me now, "but even Jesus told the woman caught in adultery to 'go and sin now more.'" Yes, but Jesus earned the right to challenge the woman's sinful lifestyle by loving her first. He did not unduly chasten her, shame her, scold her, or otherwise make her feel lesser. In fact, he says, "I do not condemn you either," though He would've been very much within His rights as a Rabbi and expert in the law to do so. Furthermore, Jesus was in the unique position of being without sin. It's ironic that He tells the men who brought her to Him, "He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her" (John 8:7). Because Jesus Himself was the one without sin! He could have condemned her. The law allowed it. But He loved her and wanted her to change. We tend to see only the sin in such situations. Jesus saw the sinner, a woman in desperate need of grace. We need to be the same. We need to see a unique creation of God, loved and cherished by the Creator, rather than a sum of a person's sins. Let go of your ego and LOVE.
Matthew 7:3 says, "Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?" This verse warns against hypocrisy; if you're going to call out someone's sin, you'd be better be very sure about your reason for doing so and about your own spiritual standing first. Do you have sexual sin of your own that lurks in the shadows? Don't be so eager to challenge someone else's sexual sin if you aren't willing to deal with your own first. This is a call to love unequivocally, without reservation, without pretense. Don't be part of the reason that homosexuals and transgenders hate Christians and the church. Be a little Christ; be one who loves. Let's change the narrative that Christians are cold and hateful. Because surely, if God can rescue you and I from our perverse reprobation, he can rescue anyone. Let's love as if the rescue mission were already in progress. Because maybe it is. There is no man or woman, no matter how fallen and depraved, beyond God's reach. God can snatch the worst of all men back from the precipice of sin and raise them up as a beloved child.
I will leave you with these lines from a worship song that I wrote that we sing at Woodville. I know that these words are not really mine, and even to this day, they can bring me to tears when I think them because I know God's heart is for the lost.
How mighty the hands that rescue the weak,
all the broken and downtrodden ones.
He reaches down to the sinners and thieves
and raises up daughters and sons.