I’ve been watching a lot of the social media fights regarding an activist judge in Pennsylvania legalizing gay marriage in the state. The reason I call them fights, and not respectful, intelligent debates, is because that’s usually how these type of social media confrontations go.
A couple dozen people will post a status praising the judge’s decision, they’ll get a couple dozen likes, and all is well with the world.
And then some lone brave fool who has the audacity to proclaim that they still believe marriage, the oldest institution in the history of the world, older than civil government itself, is still between just one man and one woman, and they get comments like this:
“Wow. I had no idea you were such a homophobic bigot. Unfriending.”
“How can you be so f***ing close-minded! Get with the times!”
And on, and on, and on.
To be fair, I did read some very respectful and decent comments on why someone believes the way they do, and why they respectfully disagree with the other party. However, the majority of the posts I’ve read are written in an extremely condescending and derogatory tone.
Without understanding the heart and mind of the person who dares to claim he believes marriage is marriage, he is labeled a homophobe right from the get-go. It is automatically insinuated that he is less intelligent, possibly less-evolved, and his dangerous religious nut job opinion is detrimental to society, and his views deserve to be shut down completely.
Tolerance at its finest.
I’m all for open-mindedness and tolerance. Just as long as you agree with me. If you don’t, I automatically tell all of my friends to stop associating with you, because you are the most hateful person I know.
I paraphrase the quote above because that exact scenario has happened to me several years ago. I was close friends with a friend who happened to be gay. He knew where I stood in my Christian beliefs, and I knew where he stood, and it was fine. No controversy. We looked past our differences and were good friends. He even had the audacity to ask me for help on a 20 page final paper that he had to write on a topic I knew a great deal about. I gladly obliged. But then something changed…
I began to notice that he started to become hostile towards anyone that was a Christian, or at least, someone that was a Christian that had the audacity to believe what Jesus taught. I overheard him talking one day to about a dozen of my classmates, whom I had previously had no issue with, as I was walking down the hallway. I overheard him telling all of them that I was a homophobic bigot. Despite the fact that I never even uttered a word to any of them at any point on the topic of homosexuality, and never showed any of them anything but kindness. Someone I considered a friend went behind my back, and turned quite a few people against me, before they even had an opportunity to know me, or know why I believe what I believe.
I really don’t like this trend. People who were friends for years, begin to turn on one another, because they disagree on a social issue. And it’s fierce. Before, it was acceptable to look past differences, and still love each other as friends. Now, I’ve noticed more and more of completely shutting someone out and labeling them a hater.
One of my all-time favorite quotes addresses this issue perfectly:
“Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.” – Rick Warren
But lengthy introduction aside, my biggest pet peeve in this entire culture war is the lie that we can do anything we want, and that it’s okay, because God loves us no matter what. I’ve read dozens of comments, including those from people who claim to be Christians, celebrating the embrace of sin. And I’m not just talking about gay marriage.
I’m talking about pre-marital sex. Divorce. Pornography. Drunkenness. All types of sexual immorality. We justify our sins to ourselves and to our friends, because we just can’t admit that the lifestyles we are living go against God’s teachings.
My friends, particularly those of you that claim to be Christians, this is not so, and is the most dangerous thing you could ever tell someone.
Yes, God has unconditional love for us, but His unconditional love does NOT equate to unconditional approval. God is still holy and just, and God is not mocked. We can try to justify our actions as much as we want, but without a truly repentant heart, all roads still lead to Hell.
Christians in America have it EASY. We are used to not really having to stir up controversy or go against the grain. Meanwhile, Christians around the world in places like China, Egypt, and Iran, are literally DYING for the faith in Christ. And they didn’t even do anything wrong. It was found that they had a Bible in their possession, or it was found that they told a neighbor at an underground house church that Christ is the answer to salvation, or they refused to bow down and pray to Allah.
Let me ask you, Christians in American who claim to believe in God… If a gun was put to your head, and the shooter asked, “Will you deny God right here, right now!? If you don’t, I will blow your head straight off.”
Would you be willing to die for your beliefs? Would you deny Christ? Would you be able to handle the pressure and risk that millions of Christians around the world face? Would you still have so much faith in God, that even the fear of death wouldn’t faze you?
My guess is that millions of American ‘Christians’ would find out they’re the ‘seeds that fell on the rocky soil’ that Jesus describes in the Gospels. In this parable, Jesus uses seeds as a metaphor for those who are Christians. And the seeds that fall on rocky soil perfectly describe a great deal of American Christians. It’s great to say you’re a Christian now. It may even be the popular thing to do. But if you were really faced with life and death, would you still stand by Christ? Would you be unfaltering in your faith, or would you take the temporary easy way out and deny Christ? Would you be the seed that fell into good soil and produced good fruit? Or the seed that fell into rocky soil, and as soon as things got rough, decided to turn away?
The American Christian is at a cross-roads. We either love God and God’s commandments, or we don’t. There is no middle ground with God. There is no ‘moral gray area.’
1 John 2:4-6, 15-17
4 Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. 5 But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: 6 Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did….
15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.
But wait, aren’t we supposed to LOVE everyone?
Of course! But let me give you a scenario, and you tell me what the more loving thing to do would be:
Scenario: A six year old toddler is crying that mommy won’t let him play in the street. He complains that other toddlers get to play in the street. Why can’t he? Doesn’t mom love him at all? But Mom still says it’s too dangerous. But wouldn’t a mother who loved him allow him to do whatever his heart desired?
Option 1: Mother allows her son to play in the street, knowing that it is dangerous with fast cars driving around the corner. The child gets hit by a car, and dies.
Option 2: Mother explains to her six year old son that the street is a dangerous place to be. She loves him more than anything, and wants to see him grow up to live a full life. So as a result, she does not allow him to do anything and everything he wants, because it’s for his own good, even if he doesn’t understand that yet. She directs him to instead play in the backyard.
Of course, I hope you all see that Option 2 is the more loving option. The loving mother wanted her child to grow up and be safe, so she told him that something he wanted to do was wrong, even if he didn’t see it as wrong in his own eyes.
These are the two options we are faced with as Christians when see our friends and family living in sin. Is the more loving approach to:
Option 1: Tell them that God will still love them no matter what they do, so it’s all good. No worries. After all, times are changing, and we don’t want to appear hateful to someone. And we know that God says if they don’t repent, they will go to Hell, but hey, we would rather live the cozy, comfortable life, instead of doing something that might make someone else not like us.
Option 2: Tell them that yes, God will still love them no matter what, but that we are each only given a finite amount of time on this earth. Either we choose to love the world and our worldly desires, or we choose to love God. If we choose to love the world, we will go to Hell for eternity, but if we choose to forgo our earthly desires and instead love God, we will live for eternity in Heaven.
Unfortunately, many ‘Christians’ are taking Option 1 in this scenario. Some of us even go so far as to believe that all sin is okay, because God loves us anyway. And we’re not supposed to judge or anything, right? So live and let live! Everyone wins! That is…until the final judgment comes.
I even read a comment on social media from someone claiming that God WANTS us to sin. Because after all, if we didn’t sin at all, wouldn’t that mean Jesus came down here and died for nothing?
I mean wow…what a messed up theology. BECAUSE God loves us so much that He sacrificed himself for us, that is why we do NOT sin anymore. That doesn’t give us an excuse TO sin more.
And what is so dangerous about this belief that God’s unconditional love equals God’s unconditional approval, is that we ourselves head on the path away from God and towards Hell, instead of Heaven. As the verses above state, if we claim to have God in us, but then do not do what God commands, the truth is not in us, and we too are lost. When we tell our brothers and sisters in sin that what they’re doing is okay, and that God still loves them no matter what, WITHOUT also telling them about repentance and salvation through Christ, we are only sending them further down the path towards Hell, and possibly even ourselves.
God is not lukewarm. We either love God, or we love the world. There is no in-between. As I said before, the American Christian is at a cultural crossroads. You won’t be able to maintain neutral. You either follow God, or you follow the world, and yes, people will hate you for it. And yes, of course no matter what happens, we are commanded to ALWAYS show love to everyone, no matter what. But God also commands us to speak the TRUTH in love as well. And if we give tacit approval, without speaking the truth, or by even denying God’s truth ourselves, we too are lost.
“The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.” – Dante