This is a good time for people who call themselves Christians to question their faith. I don’t mean that in the sense of questioning the legitimacy of Christianity. I mean it in the sense of questioning the legitimacy of their own devotion to Christ.
Gay marriage has been the one issue grabbing all of the headlines over the past week or so. This may be something that Christians have wanted to ignore for a while in hopes that it goes away. It’s not. It has crashed on the church’s lawn and is banging on the front door wanting to come in and stay a while.
After President Obama’s announcement that he supported gay marriage I heard several people, professional pundits and friends alike, say that he just committed political suicide. The black community, more specifically the black church, would no longer support Obama because of his stance on gay marriage, thus greatly weakening his base. November is a long way away and time will tell but for now it looks like that hasn’t happened.
Some people were surprised by Jay Z’s recent announcement that he was with Obama on this. It’s not too common to see a relevant rapper speak out in favor of homosexuality.
But what’s more surprising is the response of those in the church. Raphael Warnock, the pastor of Atlanta’s historic Ebenezer Baptist Church subtly agreed with the president during his sermon last Sunday.
“There are gay sisters and brothers all around us. The church needs to be honest about human sexuality. Some of them are on the usher board. They greeted you this morning.”
Dr. Ralph Watkins, Professor of Evangelism and Church Growth at Columbia Seminary was more direct with his support of gay marriage.
“As I sit at my table and look into the eyes of my wife, the love of my life for thirty-three years and thank God for the rights we enjoy because of our marriage vows, I can’t imagine a God who wouldn’t want the same for my friends who love as deeply as I love Vanessa but happen to be in same-sex relationships. I believe that my God wants them to have the same rights, privileges and protection that Vanessa and I enjoy. I can’t imagine a God who would discriminate against my neighbors.”
One of the common links we see from those churches and church leaders in support of gay marriage, regardless of race and denomination, is the appeal to Jesus’ love for all people, specifically the outcasts of society. Another is their refusal to accept a literal understanding of those biblical texts condemning homosexuality.
As I said, this is a great time to question your faith.
If the substance of your faith is based solely on Jesus being a God of love and acceptance, you should question your faith.
Don’t get me wrong. Jesus is a God of love (Ephesians 5:25) and acceptance (Mark 5:1-20). But he is also a God of wrath (Revelation 19:11-21) and a God that takes marriage, his invention by the way, seriously (Mark 10:1-12).
If all Jesus cared about was loving and accepting people, why was he crucified? Nice guys that never call anyone out don’t get the death penalty. Even the most liberal interpretation of the Bible cannot get around the fact that Jesus confronted sinners. You can call it confronting government officials or the religious elite but the fact remains, Jesus confronted sin. People didn’t like him. He made a lot of people uncomfortable. He went against popular opinion. Why do some expect him to be any different on an issue like gay marriage?
If you allow yourself to decide which passages of the Bible you will take literally, you should question your faith.
I hear and read a lot of people who say that passages like 1 Corinthians 6:9, where the Holy Spirit through Paul says that those that practice homosexuality will not inherit the kingdom of God, are not to be taken literally.
I’ve never heard a Christian say that a passage like John 3:16 should not be taken literally.
“Well, God didn’t really mean ‘love’ in this passage. Love was more of a metaphor for his strong emotions. And he didn’t really give ‘his only Son.’ It’s more like he lost him and really wants him back. This was really all just a big misunderstanding.”
No one says that. Christians love John 3:16. But if we get to decide what we take literally and what we will not, where does it all end? The resurrection? The virgin birth? After all, both of those things happened because of our sin. At their core, Christmas and Easter are really uncomfortable holidays.
If you’re not willing to love homosexuals, you should question your faith.
The Bible is clear that homosexuality is a sin. The Bible is also clear that gluttony, pride and adultery are sins. I do not say this so that we can look past them all. Instead, I say it so that we will remember that there may be acceptable sins in your church but there are none in the kingdom of God. You can be an adulterous, arrogant jerk that can’t drive more than 30 minutes without stopping at a Burger King and still be a respected leader in a very conservative church.
“Praise God for Brother Billy. I know he’s eating himself to death and is cheating on his wife but he sure does love Jesus.”
If it turned out that Brother Billy was gay, he’s suddenly not the man we thought he was.
Christians should not support or look past sin. But we are called to love the sinner while confronting their sin, like Jesus did (John 4). If you can’t follow his example by loving even the most flamboyant homosexual, maybe you’re not really following Jesus.
The real issue here is who God is and what you believe about him. This goes much deeper than one’s opinion on homosexuality and gay marriage. If God exists solely to teach a lesson to those in power and help the needy get their fair share, what President Obama and Jay Z are saying will make a lot of sense. Anyone will make a lot of sense if you want them to because you get the final say. You get to determine how your god feels about things.
But if God has always existed and is currently at work restoring his creation that was damaged by sin and if he demands faith and repentance in his Son Jesus Christ, then we must take what he says seriously.
Even if it means questioning our faith.