WARNING!!! I am getting on my soapbox!!! Prepare yourself!!! There’s a rant coming!!! You have been warned. If you are easily offended, you might not want to read further.
I was browsing my Facebook feed today and I came across an article posted by a friend of mine. The article talked about an Oklahoma Tea Party candidate calling for homosexuals to be stoned to death. (I won’t dignify it with a link to the actual article. You can Google it if you’re really interested.)
My friend was appalled, and rightfully so.
As my friend so eloquently pointed out in his post, “This isn’t a debate about whether homosexuality is a sin or not, it’s about how you treat human beings, gay or not, sinner or not, poor or not, whatever else or not.”
He’s absolutely 100% right.
While the Bible talks about homosexuality as being a sin, it doesn’t treat it any harsher than any of the other types of sin it mentions. It doesn’t matter what form it takes. In God’s eyes, sin is sin and causes separation from Him. Romans 3:23 (ESV) says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Last time I checked, all meant all, everyone, everybody, all.
The way I see it, God doesn’t view homosexuality any different than any other sin like murder, adultery, coveting, anger, lying, lust, dishonoring your parents, stealing, and the list could go on-and-on.
The issue, like my friend said, is how we, who profess to be Christ followers, treat other people.
The Bible says this:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.”
– John 3:16-17 (ESV)
If God hated sinners so much, why would He send His own Son to save them? He sent Jesus to save people, NOT to condemn them.
The Bible also says this:
But when the Pharisees heard that He [Jesus] had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question to test Him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
– Matthew 22:34-40 (ESV)
If these are the first and second greatest commandments, maybe we should focus more on trying to live out and obey these before we start getting all uppity and judgmental towards others. I’m just sayin’.
Romans 2 mentions that it’s God’s kindness that leads people to repentance. His kindness. Not His wrath. His love. Not His condemnation. His mercy. Not His judgmentalism.
We, as His followers, should spend more time following His example than pulling bits and pieces of Scripture out of context to suit our own personal beliefs and justify how we want to treat people poorly.
Jesus said that if you’ve seen Him, then you’ve seen The Father (i.e. God). Where, then, in the Gospels do we see Jesus condemning sinners? Where? The Pharisees and Teachers of the Law, perhaps, but no one else.
Check this out to see an incident of how Jesus responded to sinners:
Early in the morning He came again to the temple. All the people came to Him, and He sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test Him, that they might have some charge to bring against Him. Jesus bent down and wrote with His finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask Him, He stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more He bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before Him. Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”
– John 8:2-11 (ESV)
Love and compassion, NOT shame and condemnation. That’s how we should respond to people – just like Jesus did with this woman. Jesus had every right, according to The Law, to have her stoned. But He didn’t. He had every right to do as the Pharisees wanted. But He didn’t. Why? Because that’s NOT how Jesus rolls. And that’s NOT how we should roll either.
Sometimes, I feel like some Christians are so hell-bent on pointing out the sin in other people’s lives, that they miss the whole point of the Gospel. Grace. Mercy. Love. Redemption. Freedom.
Here’s the deal: while I firmly believe that there is a time and place for tough love, accountability, and lovingly helping your brother see his blind spots with regard to sin in his life, in my opinion, that should only be done in the context of an established, loving relationship. Furthermore, it is NOT meant to replace the Holy Spirit as the one who convicts people of sin. That’s part of His job description, and you aren’t the Holy Spirit, so stop trying to do His job. He can handle it Himself. He doesn’t need (or want) our help. Stop condemning people and start loving them. It is God’s kindness (and likely His kindness through us) that will lead people to repentance. It’s NOT our condemnation, judgment, and finger-pointing that will.
Rant done. Climbing off my soap box now. Thanks for reading.