I am now writing exclusively over at the Christians In Context blog. Click on this banner to be taken there!

Redeemer Church

Redeemer Church
Looking for a church in the Omaha area? Come check out ours on Sunday mornings at 11!

Monday, April 27, 2009

An evangelical's plea: "Love the sinner"

I was thrilled last week to find a conservative Christian addressing the issue of homosexuality on the Opinion page of the USA Today. Jonathan Merritt dealt with the topic in what I felt was an even-handed and biblical manner. You can read the entire piece here, but I wanted to share some of the high points.

Evangelical opposition to anything even remotely concerning "the homosexual agenda" has often been vitriolic and unbalanced by a message of love for our gay neighbors. Thus, it is understandable that people have incredibly negative perceptions of Christians . . . It is time for evangelical Christians to reform our rhetoric. This means doing away with cliches such as the infamous "God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve".

I have been continually vocal about how I feel Christianity has mishandled the the issue of homosexuality. It is not that I am simply concerned with how Christians are perceived. Rather, I am specifically concerned when that perception is a far cry from what the Bible calls us to. I am under no delusions that Christians will ever be held in the highest of public opinion. But it grieves me to no end when that image is due to unbiblical attitudes, words, or behavior. Certain outspoken groups and individuals, with their heavy-handed and extrabiblical anti-gay rhetoric, have out-shouted the quiet love of the Christians being the hands and feet of Jesus (at least as far as public opinion reflects). As the author points out, "these groups seemingly fail to realize that our role as Christians is not to delegitimize the existence of those who do not share our beliefs".

While I was impressed with Jonathan Merritt's concessions at our shortfalls, I was even prouder that he was not willing to fudge on the clear lines that the Bible lays out.

Our biblical convictions prohibit a redefinition of marriage . . . Though I unashamedly believe that God desires a better path for their lives, I also understand that my obligation to love them is not dependent upon their capitulation to a particular belief system.
Love the homosexual and obey the Bible (which includes the mandate to love the homosexual). This is the balancing act that is increasingly placed before the Christian, not only in the eye of the public, but in the political and legal arenas as well. For many, Christians will certainly continue to be close-minded bigots until we are accepting the openly homosexual as leaders in our churches and performing their marriages. To put up any resistance is colored as hate. But the legislation proposed has significant implications on the freedom of our churches and our ability to practice biblical Christianity (see examples 1, 2, and 3).

While I don't claim to have all the answers, I am glad the discussion is taking place. I come to the same conclusion as Merritt:

God's model is a lifelong, monogamous, heterosexual union, but we must balance this message with the scriptural understanding that we are all sinners. Individuals who have decided to follow Christ have not ceased to be sinners; we are simply sinners who have taken advantage of God's gracious gift of salvation.

1 comment:

Jonathan Merritt said...

Thanks for the insight and compliments.