It is Pride month once again…and it seems like Pride is all around us and we can’t escape it…it is evidently growing in popularity every year…you probably know the tension of gloom and fear and maybe even the ball of knots lurking in the deepest part of our being when pride week and now pride month is celebrated. It seems like everywhere we turn, this Pride week and the LGBTQ+ lifestyle is increasingly accepted by our society. Even those who are uncomfortable say “just live and let live”. We know Biblically that we are to love all people but what about those who so vehemently are in disagreement with us. So how do we really love the LGBTQ+ community?
For some Christians I know they experience what is commonly referred to as FOMO…the Fear Of Missing Out. So with all the Pride festivities and celebrations many Christians even put aside Christians convictions and join in on the celebrations possibly somehow thinking that they are showing their Christian love by acceptance and their mere tolerance of the lifestyle.
Personally, I do believe it is a great opportunity for Christians and for churches who know members of the LGBTQ+ community to demonstrate their genuine love for them. But how? Unfortunately, most in our modern day society are confused about what it means to truly love people with whom we disagree. The prevalent belief is that acceptance and affirmation is evidence of love. In other words, they say that “I must accept them as they are.” (acceptance) and “I must affirm them in their choice” (affirmation) in order to demonstrate my love. So as a result, people who do not affirm a behaviour or choice are regarded as homophobic, bigoted, hypocritical and unloving. But nothing could be further from the truth.
Let me provide a personal example…I have a friend who has recently chosen to move in with her boyfriend and to live together common law instead of getting married. Admittedly, my first reaction was one of grief and sadness, to know that this friend is knowingly choosing to live contrary to God’s Word and His design. Now, I do believe that their choice is wrong. I cannot accept it as a good thing or affirm it as a good thing because it is contrary to God’s Word and God’s design…and therefore I cannot and I will not support it. While I know that my opinion is in the minority and there are those around them who are celebrating their decision to live together... does this mean that I do not love my young friend? Absolutely not! I will always love her. We all have friends and family whom we love to the moon and back who have made wrong, sinful choices that we cannot endorse, accept or affirm. Yet we still love them dearly. This world would be a pretty lonely place if we only loved people who were just like us and never made choices that we do not agree with. Instead, it is because I do love my friend that I cannot endorse/accept/affirm/agree with her choice.
So how do we love those with whom we disagree? How do we love the LGBTQ+ communities?
First, we must look at the example of Jesus. When Jesus sat down for lunch with little Zaccheus He did so, not because He agreed with…accepted… or affirmed Zaccheus’ behaviour (known for his extortion, treachery and dishonesty)…Jesus sat down with Zaccheus to show this little man His love for him. Did this make a difference in Zacchaeus’ life? Absolutely! When Jesus stood beside the woman caught in adultery, after many in her own community wanted to kill her for what she had done, He never said “I accept or agree with your behaviour and I affirm it.” But rather He said “Go and sin no more.” Did this make a difference in her life? Absolutely!
Second, look at what the Bible says says about genuine love. We are to love with a genuine love that is kind and gentle, not arrogant and rude. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8) In Luke 10 Jesus gave the example of the good Samaritan, telling the story of a man who had been beaten and robbed and left for dead, a Jewish priest walked by and avoided the dying man, a worship leader also passed by on the other side, again intentionally avoiding the dying man. But then a Samaritan came along. Now Samaritans and Jews did not disagree. they considered each other despicable, and even untouchable. Yet that Samaritan lovingly, gently, humbly cared for that man’s wounds and was regarded as Jesus as being “the neighbour“. (Luke 10:25-37) Imagine the risk that man took of identifying with the wounded man. Jesus said we are to be like that Samaritan. Similarly, we are called to love our neighbour whether they agree with us or not…and of course this includes our LGBTQ+ neighbours. This love is not merely “Ok…I will just tolerate this person.” No, this is an active, genuine, unconditional love and acceptance and even a sacrificial kind of love. It is a love that is kind, and gentle, not arrogant, nor is it rude.
Sadly, like the uncaring priest and the avoiding Levite many professing Christians look the other way when the LGBTQ+ community are mistreated abused or experience discrimination. Unfortunately, many professing Christians consider the people who make these choices as “untouchable” and so we avoid them at all costs. This hurts the cause of Jesus because that is not what He was like.. As followers of Christ, we should be the first to love these people, and defend them (and all people for that matter) against any and all kinds of mistreatment, abuse, and unjust discrimination. Remembering that every member of the LGBTQ+ community is made in the image of God. Therefore, each one…every person in the world…is intrinsically valuable and should be treated with the utmost dignity and respect. Let me be very clear here…anything less is shamefully wicked. Shame on anyone who professes to be a Christian but gives the impression…by their words and/or actions that God doesn’t love those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. Let me say unequivocally that God does loves them. In fact, He loves them so much He died for them.
Third, the Bible says abhor what is evil and cling to what is good…The apostle Paul wrote to the church in Rome saying, “Let love be with out hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honour giving preference to one another.” (Romans 12:9-10). Please don’t miss what Paul is saying here. Right in the middle of describing what genuine love looks like, he inserts two crucial short phrased imperatives: “Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.” At first glance this almost seems contradictory. But it isn’t.
For example, in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians Paul confronts a certain case of sexual immorality that was occurring in their midst. And as a church, they were proud of how they accepted this couple who were engaging in this sexual sin. In reality they didn’t abhor what was evil…instead they were accepting of it. More than that, they were boasting in their tolerance (1 Corinthians 5:1-6). Unfortunately, there are many churches (and denominations) today who are desperately trying to find that middle ground and they end up diluting or revising what the Bible says. As a result they choose to celebrate and accept sinful behaviour without confronting the sinfulness of the behaviour.
But now notice how Paul responded when he discovered their sexual immorality. He didn’t accept it…he abhorred it. Paul writes, “For I indeed, as absent in body but present in spirit; have already judged (as though I were present) him who has done this deed.” (1 Corinthians 5:3). Why did Paul respond this way? Was he being a super righteous, religious hypocrite? Certainly not. He did this so that the sinner’s soul “…may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” 1 Corinthians 5:5. Paul is showing us genuine love in the context of making a right judgment. Paul was concerned for the soul of the sinner. A few chapters later he will teach that “Love does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices with the truth.” (1 Corinthians 13:6)
I genuinely love each of my children. But should they choose to do something sinful I cannot and will not celebrate with them. Genuine love should never celebrate wrongdoing. Genuine love must be ultimately concerned for the soul of the individual. This means that it doesn’t go to a parade that celebrates sin or wrongdoing. It doesn’t wave flags, and shout and cheer at sinfulness. On the contrary, it abhors and grieves at wrongdoing. Genuine love clings to what is good…
Admittedly, this is not an easy thing to do. The culture we live in works very hard to pull you away from what is good. It seems that they will not stop at our mere acceptance of evil…the culture demands that we celebrate it. And if you don’t, you will be called “unloving and bigoted, hypocritical and homophobic”. So that means that there will probably be a price to pay for standing for what is true, beautiful, and good. But there is also a reward. The apostle Peter says, “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. (1 Peter 4:12-14)
In a world that is broken and marred by sin, it will always be unpopular to abhor evil and cling to what is good. But this is what genuine love demands. When I choose not to abhor what goes against God’s Word…I am basically endorsing it and I am implying that sin isn’t serious and that repentance isn’t necessary…and that would not be genuine love because sin is serious and repentance is necessary.
Jesus loved sinners…This is good news for all of us…because all of us have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. How many times did Jesus hang out with sinners? Always…and He always called them to repentance. “Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: I desire mercy and not sacrifice. For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” (Matthew 9:10–13) Jesus…who is the most loving person that ever lived on the earth did not affirm people in their sin. Instead, in love, He called people to turn from their sin. Make no mistake, Jesus loves us just as we are…. but He doesn’t want to leave us where we are. He wants us, all of us, to repent. This is how genuine love works.
The world will continue to celebrate LGBTQ+ pride, however, we can actively choose to love our LGBTQ+ neighbour by being a light to the world. As an act of love, we can do something kind for them…we can help them, invite them for dinner, treat them to a movie or sports event, laugh together. We can take the time to get to know them and them to know us. But we must not compromise our convictions. Jesus modelled this best. When we feel the world’s pressure to capitulate and compromise, we must remind ourself to abhor what is evil, cling to what is good, and then go into the world and follow Jesus faithfully.
Sources of Reference:
- Scripture translations used: NKJV, ESV, NLT
- Allberry, S. “Jesus, Sexuality and the Gospel” Seminar, Hamilton April 2018
- Lutzer, E. “The Truth About Same Sex Marriage”. Moody Publishers, 2004
- Fife, B. “Out: One Christian’s Experience of Leaving the Gay Community” Kregel Publications, 2016