Churches, please stop hating gays. Love them as Jesus loves.

I hear about it on the news, on blogs, on social media.  Churches are showing hatred to gay people and it’s time for the church to change course and love them as Jesus loves people.

In response to this, many churches thomas_std_t
are now, in an attempt to show love and not hate, moving to support and affirm gay marriage and the homosexual lifestyle.  A steady stream of pastors have come forward, changing their beliefs on this issue.  Entire denominations, such as the PCUSA, are embracing the lifestyle of homosexual couples and instead of morally judging their behavior, they are accepting it.  The cry of an increasing number of churches is that Christians need to evolve from their antiquated positions on sexuality, stop hating gay people, and love them as Jesus loves.

I wholeheartedly agree that it is high time for the American Church to get with the program and end hatred towards our gay friends and neighbors and liberally lavish them with love.

thomas_std_tBut when I hear people throw around words such as “love” and “hate”, I often feel like the Princess Bride’s Inigo Montoya who said, “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

thomas_std_tTypically when the culture talks about how Christians need to “love” gay people, what they really mean is that they need to endorse their lifestyle.  Indeed, there is enormous pressure to affirm, support, and applaud our gay friends and neighbors in their homosexuality.  To do otherwise, especially to say that their behavior is morally wrong and to call them out of that lifestyle, is seen as hate.

Again, I identify with my old friend Montoya.  When did we begin to think love and hate meant something different than what it actually means?  When did “love” become an endorsing affirmation and when did calling something morally wrong become hate?

So, to quote the cheesy 90’s hit pop song from Haddaway, “What is Love?” The Bible gives a clear answer.

“…this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:10)

God is the ultimaimageste standard of love.  And God demonstrated His love through painful, redemptive, self-sacrifice.  God gave up His Son, Jesus Christ, to take God’s punishment on behalf of sinners, so that whoever believes in Him will escape eternal destruction in Hell. (John 3:16)  Therefore love, in its highest form, is acting towards another in such a way that the action is for the benefit and well-being of the other person, even if it’s at great cost to yourself.  It is, to not only look to your own interests, but to the interests of others (Phil 2:4)

So if loving means self-sacrificial service that benefits someone else, then a refusal to do such is hatred.

If you claim to be a Christian, than surely you believe that the most beneficial thing to a gay person, or any person, is not affirming, agreeing with, supporting, or applauding their lifestyle.  Instead, the most beneficial thing for any person is that they be in right relationship with God and spend eternity with Him in heaven and not in Hell.

thomas_std_tThese so-called churches that are coming out of the closet are endorsing and affirming gay marriage and the homosexual lifestyle and they think this is being loving.  Instead, what they are actually doing is encouraging people to blissfully stay in a lifestyle that will send them to Hell.  There are only two ways to live.  God’s way which leads to life, or our way that leads to death.

The apostle Paul says that,

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10 )

I cannot think of a higher form of hatred than a church or a pastor, who, through broad smiles, pats on the back, and warm affirmations, supports a person in their commitment to living a life that will cause them to miss out on inheriting God’s glorious kingdom, and not inheriting the kingdom means inheriting Hell.

And yet more and more churches are showing the worst form of hatred by not pointing out to people that their lifestyle is in rebellion against a holy God.  More and more pastors do not have the backbone to say that an unrepentant person practicing homosexuality will not inherit the kingdom.

thomas_std_tAnd my fear is that one of the driving factors behind this is not that churches and pastors desire to love homosexuals as much as they desire applauds and approval from the culture.  Christians dread being called intolerant bigots.  They dread being “on the wrong side of history.”  Perhaps some dread losing their jobs or their tax exempt status.  Sadly, many of us dread being kicked out of the cultural “in crowd.” And yet, as God has shown us, true love is self-sacrificial and may come at great expense to ourselves.  Therefore, if we really love our gay and lesbian neighbors we will dread them going to Hell more than we’ll dread being called bigots.  We’ll be willing to suffer the cost of being ostracized and marginalized because we love our neighbors more than we love “likes” on Facebook.  We’ll be willing to tell them the truth.  That doesn’t mean we are to be obnoxious jerks about it.  Instead, it means that we compassionately tell the world the tough truth that all of us are sinners (homosexuality just being one of a million different expressions of rebellion against our heavenly King).

thomas_std_tThere’s been a lot of talk about “equality” for gays. Well, the truth is that all of us equally deserve eternal condemnation (aka Hell) for our treason against God.  Someone who is committed to the gay lifestyle should not see himself as morally superior to the drunk person or the self-righteous religious hypocrite or the thief or a greedy man or anyone else who won’t inherit God’s kingdom.  We’re all equal.  We are all guilty before God.  We are all wicked sinners and there is none who do good, not one. (Rom 3:12)

imagesThe good news is that this same God of justice who created Hell for wretches like me and you, is also a God of mercy.  Therefore, if any sinner, whether that be a homosexual, a heterosexual adulterer, a drunkard, a thief, a Satanist, a gossip, a prideful jerk, or whatever else, receive Christ and Christ’s payment for sins through a faith evidenced by repentance, they will be saved and declared “not guilty”, with a guaranteed home in heaven with God because our sin debt has been paid in full.

But there’s more.  Unlike these so-called “affirming churches”, God,
thomas_std_twhile loving people where they are, loves them too much to let them stay as they are!  Jesus didn’t die for people to grab a “get out of Hell free” card so they could go on living as they always have.  Instead, the Scriptures say that,

…he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. (2 Corinthians 5:15)

Jesus died not just so people might be forgiven, but actually changed! The Bible says that anyone who is in Christ is a New Creation.(2 Cor 5:17)    That doesn’t mean immediate perfection.  Saved Christians may struggle against and even succumb to homosexual desires just like they may battle against temptations of drunkenness, gossiping, idolatry, pride, anger, and any other sin.  Any honest Christian will tell you he falls flat on his face regularly!  Becoming a Christian doesn’t mean immediate perfection (that won’t come till heaven), it does, however, mean a new and better direction as God lovingly draws us away from the old lifestyles that were killing us thomas_std_tand moving us into a new way of life that is for our good and His glory as He conforms us to the image of His sinless Son. (Rom 8:29)

God knows that there is a better way for His people to live.  If churches are not going to call people out of the homosexual lifestyle, then to be consistent they should not call people out of being thieves and drunks and swindlers and idolators.  Those sins and more are all on the same list.  But God’s goal for His people has always been more than just forgiveness, but also transformation.  God, in His wisdom, has determined that getting drunk, or being a thief, or being an arrogant blowhard, or being a pornographer, or practicing homosexuality are included among the things that do not reflect the truth, character, and holiness of God.  True Christians, while perhaps struggling withomas_std_tth a multitude of sins, seek to not repeat the mistakes of Adam and Eve, who tried to determine what was good and evil apart from God’s revelation. Instead, genuine Christians seek to humbly agree with God and trust Him that He knows how best we can be conformed to the image of Christ, regardless of how hard our hearts and hormones may pull us in another direction.  New Creation people fight against those old pulls because they have a new identity.

That’s why the apostle Paul, after mentioning homosexuality along with a whole host of other sins, says to the church in Corinth,

And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Corinthians 6:11)

Notice the past tense.  Such “were” some of you.  God loves people where they are, but loves them too much to leave them where they are.  For the people of God, He has a better plan, and a new and better identity.

In closing, I suppose there can be many reasons for churches to encourage unrepentant homosexuals to stay on their Hellbound path, but one thing is certain, those reasons don’t include love.

Thank God that Jesus doesn’t love like we “love.”  Thank God Jesus was willing to accept mockery and ridicule at the hands of a hostile culture in exchange for loving God and loving the sinners He came to save.  Thank God Jesus loved us enough to preach the truth, to call us out of our rebellion, and command thomas_std_tus to repent and follow Him.  Thank God Jesus didn’t look at the cross and say, “You know what?  This price is too high to pay.  I guess they’ll all just have to rot in Hell forever.  They do deserve it after all”

Instead, Jesus, “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame…” (Hebrews 12:2)

Forgive us, Lord, for failing our gay friends and neighbors, and for failing all fellow sinners by withholding from them your truth.  God was kind enough to show us how our former lives were destroying us and He gave us the faith to trust Christ and walk in repentance.  If we call ourselves Christians, how dare we withhold that same kindness from others?  Lord God, give us the courage, the boldness, the compassion, and the selflessness to truly love as Jesus does.

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Demer