But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.
I Cor 13:13
Yesterday’s decision by the Supreme Court predictably brought a mixed reaction. For supporters of gay rights, the striking down of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is a valuable victory in the march toward universal acceptance of marriage between homosexual partners. For others, this action is seen as yet another example as to how this country continues to fall away from the commands of God.
As a conservative Christian, I know that the Bible has some very clear statements about the practice of homosexuality. However, that is not the point. The issue at hand is how we respond to those who agree with the Court’s decision.
1. Let prayer be the first response: In all things, we must seek God’s wisdom. Never is that more important then in responding to those who challenge our belief. First focus on God, giving Him all praise and glory, and asking for His wisdom. Only by making God the subject AND the object of our discussions can we have any hope in being faithful to our calling as Christians.
2. Respond with love, not anger: “Hate the sin, love the sinner.” How often, though, do we focus on the hate part and not the love part? Remember, Jesus never raised his voice to those who were sick or disobedient. He knew they had already been beaten and condemned by others around them. It was an understanding and healing love they needed, not hateful condemnation. In the same manner, if we do not love those who differ from us our words will sound like clanging gongs or clashing cymbals. If we seek to love and understand, then and only then will what we say be heard – or at least considered. If we cannot love, even in the midst of vitriol hurled our way, we must withdraw and be silent.
3. Focus on your log, not someone else’s splinter: Homosexuality and adultery are seen as the trump sins. Their presence often overshadows everything else. But disobedience to God’s law in any way is worthy of His wrath. Do I hate someone who differs from me? Then I have committed murder just as surely as if I have had pulled a physical trigger. Am I cheating my clients? Am I taking the Lord’s name in vain? I am not calling for perfection, but for penitence. Only one who understands his own brokenness and need for the love of Christ can reach out to others with the needed healing message of the Gospel.
4. Share the Gospel, don’t defend it: Jesus assures us that His Word will never pass away. We also know that the Words of Scripture are foolishness to those who do not believe – so there really is no way to “defend” Scripture. Thankfully, that is not what we are called to do. We are called to share the gospel. But sharing what the Bible has to say does not mean using it to launch salvos of moral superiority. Sharing the saving news of Christ means taking the time to be in relationship with others. It means understanding their pain. It means understanding who they are. I cringe at the inevitable Biblical quotations that will stream from the self-appointed spokesmen of Christian conservatives. I rejoice for those who accept God’s word through quiet and humble discipleship.
5. In the end it is God who saves and condemns: Take heart Christian. The weight of the world – and the weight of the soul of someone who disagrees with you – is not on your shoulders. Our carefully forged words of wisdom mean NOTHING in the salvation plan of Christ. God is indeed working His purpose out – but it is His plan not ours. Not one person will perish whom He wills to save. Not one will enter His glory that has not been known by God since before time began. To condemn and save is not our providence. We are to stand firm in what we believe. We are to love and humbly share the Gospel. We are to glory in the knowledge that the Kingdom of God is at hand.
Peace, perfect Peace, in this dark world of sin;
The Love of Jesus whispers peace within.