I didn’t write about the SCOTUS ruling immediately upon its electrifying arrival into America’s conscience because I wanted to give myself a few days to process it. As I’m sure is true of every American Christian reading this article, a wide variety of emotions have wandered about in my soul since Friday.
When I first heard about the Supreme Court’s decision, my initial reaction was, “not surprised.” The rapid crumbling of America’s morality has been set forth on a wide screen TV for all to see over the last few decades. While I appreciate the optimism of those who think that this country will continue to hold to a biblical standard on moral issues, I think it’s undeniably evident that we dwell in a day when the Bible has been spit on and tossed out of the window (with the exception of 1 John 4:8, of course). The majority of our country is now very forthcoming about their rejection of the traditional, orthodox understanding of Christianity. And it’s time that we – the church – come to grips with that. This SCOTUS decision, in my opinion, should’ve come as no shock to anyone who has halfway paid attention to the moral deterioration of our culture in recent years.
As Friday drew to a close, I truly thought that my attitude toward the redefinition of marriage would continue to be, “Alright. It is what it is. Let’s move on.” And in a sense, that is my attitude. As I posted on Facebook hours after the decision was released, the great-commission-purpose of our lives as Christians hasn’t changed. Regardless of how America does or doesn’t view marriage, we are still called by our God to do what we’ve always done: speak the gospel and love our neighbors. The country-wide legalization of same-sex marriage and therefore intensified legitimization of same sex behavior will, without a doubt, throw our society into deeper godless chaos – and the Church is commanded to be a radiant light in that darkness. Our zeroed-in focus, amidst the storm of our culture’s insanity, should be on the advancement of Jesus and his gospel – regardless of whether or not our political agendas advance along with it. We must not dwell in the ashes of our apparent defeat in the courts on Friday, but we must move forward in the Great Commission of Jesus Christ. As a friend of mine said in a text message, “We won’t win the culture war; nor should that be our aim. We are concerned with eternal life and lives made new.”
But as the next few days rolled on, something new began to fill my heart – an emotion that I definitely did not expect to experience. As I perused my social media accounts filled with rainbow profile pictures, pictures of the rainbow White House, and anti-Christian remarks like, “The fabric of America is changing. The ones who used to exclude others, have become the excluded…”, I’ve felt anger building up inside of me. And I honestly don’t believe there is anything wrong with that.
I think sometimes Christians feel like they’re doing something wrong or failing to live like Christ if they feel anger. And sometimes they’re right. There are many instances when our anger is totally unwarranted, self-centered, and sinful. But there are other times when our anger is good. Yes, that’s right – good. And holy. And righteous. I believe with all of my heart that anger over what’s taking place in our society right now is totally warranted.
God absolutely hates sin. Therefore it’s logical – and biblical – for his children to hold that position toward it as well (and might I add, not merely toward the sin of others, but toward our own sin as well). When God sees the vast majority of our culture reveling in their own sin and supporting the sin of others, it makes him angry. And it makes me angry as well. When God sees nearly the entire society we live in resisting, rejecting and hating (yes, hating) him, it makes him angry. And it makes me angry as well. When God sees the citizens of our country enticing others to join them in the entrapment of their iniquitous revelry, it makes him angry. And it makes me angry as well.
Now, with that said, let me be clear that my goal in this article is not to stir up anger in the hearts of believers (unlike some other emotionally manipulative, hotheaded Christian bloggers desperately pining after clicks and traffic). My goal in this article is to urge Christians who are already angry to let their love for the gay community overwhelm, guide, and control their anger over the gay community’s sin.
God is hotly angered over sin; this is biblical and true. But God’s anger is not wild and uncontrolled like ours so often is. God doesn’t lash out (he wouldn’t tweet snide remarks about gay people on Twitter). God doesn’t lose control (he wouldn’t unfriend his gay friend on Facebook). And in the Person of his Son, Jesus, we see God’s anger mercifully guided and controlled by his compassion and love.
Rather than bursting forth in wrath and obliterating every sinful human being to walk the earth since Adam – which would be just and righteous for him to do – God, in compassion and love, patiently endured the sin that he loathes for thousands of years. God, in mercy and kindness, contrived a way to pour out his anger while saving his enemies from his anger. God, in Jesus, took his wrath for our sin upon himself. Rather than giving us his anger, God gave us the gospel. He gave us salvation. He gave us His Son.
And in our righteous anger over what’s taking place in our country, we need to do the same. We need to step forward into the corruption and godlessness of our society, let our love for others control our anger over their sin, and give them God’s Son. While God is angered with the gay community over their sin, he simultaneously loves them deeply. And we are to love them, too.
I can honestly say that amidst my anger over their violent rebellion against God, I love the gay community. Five years ago, the gay community was my family; with with them I proudly and vocally advocated for the acceptance of homosexuality – at the very least, my homosexuality. For the entirety of my closeted life, the only exposure I had to the conservative and supposed “Christian” approach to gay people was far from Biblical. In the community I grew up in, gay people were talked about is if they were some lesser, grosser class of humanity. The language my friends and family used to refer to gay people was extremely derogatory and shaming. I lived the first 19 years of my life, as a secretly same-sex attracted person, among bigoted jerks who demonstrated something infinitely far from the love and truth of the gospel. So I get it. To the gay person reading this, I get it. You’ve probably lived more than half of your life in paralyzing fear and anxiety, never feeling safe enough to let anyone in on the scariness (at some point, it scared you) of your same-sex attraction. And on Friday, the vast majority of America looked at you and told you, “I accept you.” You now feel validated. You now feel like you, as a whole person, are embraced by those around you. This is why you’re joyful. This is why you’re celebrating. I get it.
But I just don’t agree with it – not anymore, anyway. In the past, and even still in the present, supposed Christians and the church at large have wildly mishandled the gospel when applying it to same-sex attraction and people who experience that attraction. As I said above, I personally felt the destructive blow of this mishandling while I was growing up. There is no excuse for the hatred and maliciousness toward the gay community that has hideously been manifested in the mouths and lives of many professing Christians. But the right response to their error is not for us – the same-sex attracted community – to embrace our sinful, fallen nature. We’re told that’s what we should do. We’re told that the answer to our deepest hurts and frustrations is found in embracing our broken sexualities and living according to our sin. But this is a lie from the darkest and vilest corner of the pit of hell.
What we, same-sex attracted people, need most is to run to and fall before the One whom we’ve seen so many supposed Christians misrepresent. The Jesus of the Bible – the Jesus who made you and me, who rules over you and me, and who died for you and me – doesn’t view us as some lesser class of humanity. He views us as sinners. And yes, and that is what we are. We are guilty sinners who deserve to be condemned for reasons far beyond our sexual activities. But Jesus doesn’t view us as worse sinners than anyone else. Despite our sins, he loves us more intensely than we could ever know. And because he loves us, he desires what’s best for us, and that’s why he calls us to turn from the corruption our sinful nature and find new, full, and lasting life in him. Jesus is the solution. Jesus is the one to whom we should run for validation and identity – not to our broken nature.
Know this: only Jesus contains in himself the kind of life that the same-sex attracted community is looking for. Believers, we must engage this community with the life that is in Jesus. We must bring them the gospel! For too long we’ve failed to do that effectively, and I think that has more than something to do with where we find ourselves surrounding the issue of homosexuality today. It’s time for us to step up and be bold not only in truth, but in love as well. It’s totally possible to walk in a biblical balance as we approach this subject and these people – we just have to be brave enough and humble enough to do it.
Over the next few weeks I am going to embark on a new blog series where I will [hopefully humbly] point out the ways I think we, the church, could make some massive improvements in the ways we engage the gay community. My goal in this series is not to be a church basher and critically harp on all the ways we’ve miserably failed. Jesus loves his Church – even in all her messiness – and so do I. But Jesus also wants his Church to represent him well, and I’m hoping that spending some time thinking on our mistakes – and maybe even repenting of our sins – could help us greatly as we seek to bring the gospel to this community. Please pray for me as I start this series.
And pray for our country as well.