Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1-2
Social media is abuzz and the US is abuzz in general in the wake of the recent SCOTUS decision in favor of same-sex marriage for all 50 states. If you have Facebook, you probably were met in a 1-2 day time period with a steady stream of rainbow profile pictures or red equality symbol logos. The response to the decision has been quite polarized. Many in favor of the decision have celebrated with rainbows and condemning everyone who disagrees with them as fools and bigots. Those against the decision, not all as many have been generally silent, have been vocal about “God’s standard for marriage” being above whatever the SCOTUS decides and God’s standard doesn’t change.
One reaction is great celebration and as if at last there is perfect peace in the world. The other reaction is as though the sky truly is falling. Something that both reactions typically have in common is a variation of “My view is right and whoever disagrees with me is an evil fool.” That reaction has been relatively common on both sides of the debate which although the decision has been made that doesn’t mean there is uniformity in the US concerning the decision as the polarized social media posts and news feeds reveal.
I, for one, am a Christian and do hold to a biblical view of marriage, however, I don’t believe that my belief about what marriage is should be the measuring stick for whether or not I can love people in the world. There are people who say and do a number of things that I believe the Bible would have some choice words for in more than one place, however, that doesn’t exempt me as a follower of Jesus from the responsibility to love them.
God sent His Son Jesus Christ into the world in the first place to save humanity from the human problem of sin which humanity could not save itself from, by living a perfectly sinless life, dying on the cross, being buried, and rising from the dead defeating sin and death in Himself and for all who would believe in Him.
God showed grace, unmerited favor, in sending His Son in the first place. He would have been just to not do that at all or to provide the deserved penalty for human sin which is death. Thank God that didn’t happen! Then, while people were nailing the hands and feet of their Savior to the cross and spitting at Him and mocking Him after having beaten Him relentlessly, what did Jesus do? He prayed for them and asked the Father to “forgive them, they know not what they are doing.”
Jesus didn’t deride sinful man for being sinful in killing their Savior, for in their sinful ignorance, they didn’t know any better. In fact, it is impossible for them to know better without a supernaturally changed heart which can only come about by the Holy Spirit transforming a heart of stone to a heart of flesh (speaking in prophet terms, i.e. Ezekiel/Jeremiah), and causing sinful humanity to become mindful of sin, desirous of confessing that sin to God and turning away from it in repentance, and believing in the salvation God has provided in Jesus Christ, namely, the Gospel. So, Jesus didn’t blame sinners for being sinners, but He also didn’t shy away from speaking the truth in love either.
He was a friend of sinners. He was sent to save sinners. Yet, He was full of grace and truth, and could speak the truth lovingly to those who did not know it. He didn’t trample sinners for sinning because they didn’t know any better. Also, that didn’t mean he endorsed their sin either. He did, however, trample upon the righteous who should have and did in fact know better, and used God’s law to bolster themselves and hurt others. This group was called the Pharisees, Scribes, and religious leaders.
In Ephesians 5, the Apostle Paul completes a section in Ephesians 4 on putting off the old self and putting on the new self by exhorting the church in Ephesus to forgive as Jesus has forgiven you, but also to walk in love and by that, to walk in such a manner as Jesus has loved us by giving His life for us. Christians are called to be representatives of God in the world as God’s church, pointing people to Christ. We are called to walk in love, and to love people in the radical self-less way that Jesus has loved us and continues to do so. Thank God for that!
Whether we agree or disagree with the decision of the SCOTUS shouldn’t make a difference as we are as Christians still responsible for loving others, and loving in a Christ-like way. People should see us and feel the radical, other-worldly love of Jesus Christ through us, His church. I don’t believe His church has reflected that love. In fact, somewhere along the line, I think the church has become more prone to loving the righteous than loving the sinner. After all, it is always easier to love those who are like us, but it is difficult to love those who are different. But that is precisely what Jesus did. Jesus wasn’t a sinner, yet he was a friend of sinners. Jesus wasn’t a sinner, yet he died to save sinners. Jesus had reason to retaliate and defend Himself and give people what they deserve, but He didn’t.
Many Christians are behaving as if the sky is falling in the wake of this decision. I wonder, why do we expect what the Bible depicts as a sinful world in rebellion against God to fall in line with God’s Word? Adversity isn’t a new thing for Christians (i.e. being thrown to lions, crucifixions, etc). Christianity has thrived in adversity, actually, from the beginning. Just because it’s not easy to be a Christian doesn’t mean your ability to be a Christian is being stripped from you. Nobody can take that away from you, in fact, that’s what Romans 8 says. If you are a genuine Christian, there is nothing to worry about. If you are a Christian because you feel comfortable with Christianity and that comfort is leaving, maybe you should search your heart as to whether you are in fact a Christian. We have nothing to fear. We know the end of the story. We just need to trust God and love others.
The hardest part of this is that we are called to love people the way Jesus did. That means that although Jesus who is the righteousness of God knows what sin is, not only did He not sin, but He spent His time on earth with sinners. He didn’t allow His knowledge of the truth to interfere with His ability to love others. In fact, somehow (I’m not perfect either, far from it), Jesus was all the more emboldened to love people who were in rebellion against God while knowing right and wrong perfectly Himself and not being ever complicit in the wrong. I guess that’s why Jesus is God and I am not, lol.
We need to show people that we love them more than our knowledge of right and wrong from God’s Word. Otherwise, people will see the church as loving the righteous more than sinners. Not only will people perceive that, but I’m afraid people will likely be right in that assessment as well.
Perhaps we need to ask ourselves how many of our friends are in a same-sex relationship or have same-sex attraction, and how many of our friends are Christian? Do we primarily hangout with the righteous and never spend time with people who do not know the Gospel? If we’re honest, do we resemble the Pharisees and scribes, or do we resemble Jesus in how we relate with and love others?