Gay marriage is now legal in the United States. So now what? How should the Church respond? The following is the final part of five answers to that question.
A man hits his wife. As soon as his fist makes contact with her jaw, he fills with regret. He knows what he did was wrong. By the time he pulls himself together, all he can see is his wife walking out the door.
He calls her the next day.
“I love you. Please come back.”
She does. Things make a turn for the better. For about a week or so. Then the man snaps again. This time, it’s a slap with the back of his hand. His wife leaves.
And again, he makes that same phone call.
“I love you. Please come back.”
Only this time she doesn’t come back. She doesn’t come back because she has come to understand that the two of them have completely different definitions for the word love.
When it comes to gay marriage, or any heated debate for that matter, most rational people agree that we just need to love one another. But usually, both sides have two completely different definitions for that word. Before we can agree to love one another, we need to know what love really is.
For the world, love is a feeling. It is nothing more or less than an emotion. An emotion that you can’t help. That’s why you hear people using love as a rationale for cheating on their spouse. You fall out of love. You fall back into love. Things happen. It’s also why so many Christians are classified as hateful when they oppose gay marriage. Surely anyone who opposes love can’t be anything other than hateful.
But Christian love is different.
Christian love is rooted in God’s love for sinners as demonstrated by the death of Jesus Christ on the cross.
In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 1 John 4:10 (ESV)
But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 (ESV)
Christian love isn’t passive, always apologizing for anything that even comes close to being offensive and it isn’t blind, constantly ignoring sin. Christian love moves toward sin with honesty and grace.
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 8:10-11 (ESV)
Christians who love well can do so because they are ever aware of their own dreadful condition and the transformation the love of God brought to them.
I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief, and the grace of our Lord overflowed for me with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost. 1 Timothy 1:12-15 (ESV)
The world’s version of love could easily be defined as, “Shut up and agree.”
Christian love is the laying down of what is rightfully yours for the ultimate benefit of another.
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:4-8 (ESV)
Christians, now is a good time to show the world what love really is. That doesn’t mean that we have to sign off on what the world is selling or sit quietly in the corner while people self-destruct. No, we should speak up. Homosexuality is a sin. No court can change that. But rather than a picket sign, bull horn or Facebook status written in all caps, our platform should be the love of Christ.
This means that our greatest acts of Christian speech and service will be an overflow of love.
If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:3 (ESV)
It means that we don’t always have to have the final word in whatever the heated debate of the day happens to be.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful. 1 Corinthians 13:4-5 (ESV)
And it means that truth, not the latest fad, will be our guide.
It does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 1 Corinthians 13:6 (ESV)
The world will never find true love in a feeling, a political agenda or a rainbow profile picture. The love that they are looking for can only be found at the cross. As they search, they will gaze through the lens of our lives. May our love for God and neighbor give them an accurate picture of the only love that they really need.
Christians, don’t just show them that they are wrong.
Show them the cross.