I’ve been meaning to write all this for some time. Well, since Pastor Rob Bell came out that he supports gay marriages. It wasn’t just his support that bothered me so much as the things he said about the church. I’ve been praying about the topic since then, which is I guess my official reason for not putting this out there before. I want to be firm on where I stand and I want to, above all else, represent the Gospel to the best of my ability. I find need to finally write it because I need to clarify things for myself and for anyone who cares to hear me out. I make no apologies.
Let me begin by saying I believe in love. I believe that we are capable of loving all types of people, and I believe you can love someone God did not intend for you to love just as easily as you can love someone God did intend for you to love. Love is an abused emotion, quite superficial and self-seeking this side of Heaven. And because it’s more of a self-serving thing, it’s easy to love almost anyone, because the love is mostly directed toward yourself. Who doesn’t love their own self?
I also believe in love in the sense that God is Love. I believe as equally in unconditional love as I do in the conditional love we tend to serve up. God’s love is unconditional and unquenchable. And I believe that we are capable of this kind of love as well, with the Holy Spirit residing in us. This is the kind of love that possessed Jesus to live 33 years enduring intense trials here on earth, culminating in a criminal’s death on a cross, to ransom the whole of humanity back to God. Dying for people who have always, and still tend to, reject you? That’s some intense love.
Just as surely as God is love, God is also righteousness. This is the part that hurts our carnal selves, because God has standards, and people do not. God did not say to us, “If it feels good, do it. It must be right.” He said, “sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it. (Genesis 4:7)” That means we are responsible to recognize sin and refuse to let it overcome us. Romans 8:21 puts us all on level ground by saying that “…all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace.” But even that does not give us the license to continue in our sin, because Paul goes on to say that “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment…” In other words, Jesus died for your sins, so you are free to admit them, accept His sacrifice and forgiveness, and walk in a newness of life. But if you reject that newness and continue in your sin, you have pridefully rejected God’s will for you.
If I could, I’d reprint the Bible in its entirety so I don’t have to express my thoughts in the absence of God’s whole Word. But since people are more willing to read my little blurb than the Bible, I chose to use the verses I have used to discuss the ongoing conversation surrounding homosexuality and the crisis it brings to the church. While “crisis” may seem like a strong word, I can call this present situation nothing less than that. Homosexuality and how Christians should or should not react became front page news not too long ago, when mega-church Pastor Rob Bell came out in support of gay marriage. Since then, there’s been a firestorm. The LGBT community expects Christians to decide for or against them, and staunchly opposes all those who are against them. But even then, I think that wording is wrong. You see, as a Christian who believes that “all scripture is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16)” I have to accept the good, the bad and the ugly. To me, it’s all beautiful because if I let the scripture have it’s way in me, I become more like Christ every day. I believe it’s only bad and ugly when we refuse to let it change us, but then, it’s really not the scripture that’s ugly … it’s us. Therefore, I am not against anyone. The Bible is against sin, and offends those who refuse to submit to the dealings of the Holy Spirit. I must agree with the word of God, whether it is accepted or rejected. If upholding God’s values makes me unpopular, that’s okay. I’ve been unpopular for lesser things. I’m no longer living to please anyone else but my Audience of One, the Lord.
I don’t think anyone who cares to know how God feels about the matter can deny having read Romans 1:26-27, in which Paul distinguishes between natural relationships and unnatural relationships between men and women, and he calls unnatural relationships “shameful lusts.” Of course, I don’t have to do an extensive elaboration on what the Bible says about homosexuality. We all know God does not condone it. Did He tell us to avoid those who practice it like the plague? No. This is where the church is wrong. Did He tell us to rejoice in their lifestyle? No. This is also where the church is wrong. How do we reconcile these two things? By accepting the person without accepting the sin. Which means Christians can love people who sin just as Christ did, without condoning the sin. He didn’t shame the woman caught in adultery. He didn’t condemn her. But he didn’t approve of her sin, and she knew that. He didn’t shove it down her throat. He just let her know where he stood on the matter and he didn’t change his mind to make her happy. It was up to her to accept that in her relationship with Christ.
With all of that being said, let me now remark on the article that came out in the Huffington Post regarding Bell’s recent comments on homosexuality and the church:
“In response to a question regarding same-sex marriage, Bell said, ‘I am for marriage. I am for fidelity. I am for love, whether it’s a man and woman, a woman and a woman, a man and a man. I think the ship has sailed and I think the church needs — I think this is the world we are living in and we need to affirm people wherever they are.’”
Jesus didn’t affirm people wherever they were. He said to the woman caught in the act of adultery, “ … Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more. (John 8:11)” Not “go and continue on in whatever you think is right, or whatever works for you.” He wasn’t afraid to call her actions sin, and he made no apologies for speaking truth to her. He left her with a pretty heavy decision. For her to “go and sin no more,” she was going to have to walk away from a relationship that didn’t please the Lord. Surely this hurt her, and my heart aches for her pain. I too have been confronted by God about things in my life that displease Him, and have been torn away from things I would have liked to hold on to. But the decision to become closer to Him meant I had to let go of the sin that separates me from Him.
“[Bell] said, ‘I think we are witnessing the death of a particular subculture that doesn’t work. I think there is a very narrow, politically intertwined, culturally ghettoized, Evangelical subculture that was told “we’re gonna change the thing” and they haven’t. And they actually have turned away lots of people.’”
The Bible says, “Wide is the gate and broad is the road that lead to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the way that leads to life and only a few find it. (Matthew 7:13-14)” Mr. Bell, I don’t think it has anything to do with politics. Jesus created that subculture, and even turned away a lot of people by saying things that made people uncomfortable and challenged their way of living. And I don’t think that subculture is dying. It’s been around for over two thousand years. It may be quiet right now, but just as fervently as some pray that it dies out all together, I am praying that those following the narrow path will rise up to challenge this false word that’s going out.
“’…And i think that when you’re in a part of a subculture that is dying, you make a lot more noise because it’s very painful. You sort of die or you adapt. And if you adapt, it means you have to come face to face with some of the ways we’ve talked about God, which don’t actually shape people into more loving, compassionate people. And we have supported policies and ways of viewing the world that are actually destructive. And we’ve done it in the name of God and we need to repent.’”
Frankly, I don’t think there’s been enough noise. I think those who know the truth that sets men free have been way quieter than they should have been, and that’s how the world got in this present mess. Contrary to popular belief, Jesus himself said he didn’t come to bring peace. “For I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. (Matthew 10:34)” Jesus wasn’t willing to leave people in their sin. He loves everyone, but His love is so great that He’s not willing to appease the masses by saying that sin is okay. Some things displease God and those things, if we desire salvation, must be acknowledged and submitted to God. God wasn’t looking for superficial “loving and compassionate people,” because the kind of love you are talking about hinges on whether or not God approves, or His bride (the church) approves people. That’s conditional. If love and compassion have to be bought, what kind of love and compassion can it possibly be and how much worth my returned affection is it? I love people, regardless of their sin. The Bible approves this, because the Lord did this also, remember? “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)” But Christ didn’t die to leave us in our sin, but to bring us up out of it, if we will let Him. I love people, regardless of their sin, but I love people way too much to waiver in my faith for their vanity. I love people to the extent that I am willing to lose their goodwill by being honest with them.
*scriptures taken from the New International Version
*http://www.huffingtonpost.com/greg-carey/rob-bell-comes-gay-marriage_b_2898394.html?utm_hp_ref=fb&src=sp&comm_ref=false 3-18-13 By Greg Carey