Religious people are often accused of hate. On many occasions, those accusations are unfounded. People just don’t like being disagreed with these days and their natural impulse is to categorize any opposition as hate. But there are times when religious people are rightfully accused of hate.
Like when an Islamic terrorist kills people in the name of his religion.
Or when a pastor who calls himself a Christian delights in the carnage.
Steven Anderson is the pastor who made a name for himself through YouTube videos where he ranted on the proper way for men to use the restroom and who he thought God should kill. If he happens to be your pastor, repent, leave his cult and find a legitimate church.
Just a short time after the Islamic radical killed dozens of people in Orlando, Steven Anderson posted a video sharing his thoughts on the massacre. I won’t post the video here but here’s an excerpt of Anderson’s comments.
“So, you know, the good news is that at least 50 of these pedophiles are not gonna be harming children anymore. The bad news is that a lot of the homos in the bar are still alive, so they’re gonna continue to molest children and recruit people into their filthy homosexual lifestyle. I’m not sad about it, I’m not gonna cry about it. Because these 50 people in a gay bar that got shot up, they were gonna die of AIDS, and syphilis, and whatever else. They were all gonna die early, anyway, because homosexuals have a 20-year shorter life-span than normal people, anyway.”
In his short commentary on the homosexuals getting what they deserved, Steven Anderson conveniently left something out. By not being murdered that night, Steven Anderson did not get what he deserved. Neither did Jay Sanders. Neither did you.
Tragedies aren’t knew. In some form or another, they’ve been around since Adam and Eve’s sin. They were around in Jesus’ day too. On one occasion, a government ruler named Pilate ordered his soldiers to murder a group of Galileans during a worship ceremony. The public response to this tragedy wasn’t any different than it is today. People wanted answers. Some of them took their questions to Jesus.
His answer likely wasn’t what they expected.
And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? Luke 13:2 (ESV)
Jesus was addressing a popular belief that still exists today, some two thousand years later. People have a tendency to believe that if something bad happens, it is automatically God’s punishment. Sometimes this is the case. God does punish sin and he is always just in doing so. But Jesus’ answer cuts to the heart and exposes the self-righteousness we all carry from one degree or another.
The Galileans who were murdered were no worse sinners than those who got to live that day. And the homosexuals who were murdered early Sunday morning by an ISIS devotee were no worse sinners than Steven Anderson. Or Jay Sanders. Or you.
The Bible is clear. Homosexuality is a sin (Romans 1:26-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11). But the Bible is also clear that pride (1 John 2:16) is a sin. And lust. Yes, even good old heterosexual lust (Matthew 5:27-30). And whatever socially, religiously acceptable sins you and I are prone to.
Which leads to the rest of Jesus’ answer.
No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Luke 13:3 (ESV)
It’s not just the first century Galileans who fail to measure up to God’s perfect standard. And it’s not just today’s LGBTQ community either. It’s all of us. We all deserve death. Even the straightest and most moral among us.
Whenever something bad happens, it’s like there’s an alarm that goes off somewhere that makes so-called Christian leaders tell us who God was punishing through the tragedy.
“God sent Katrina to wash away the homosexuality from New Orleans!” they told us gleefully.
We would be foolish to say that God would never use a natural disaster or national tragedy to bring about punishment for sin (Psalm 46). But we would be arrogant and self-righteous to say that God would only punish the sin of those other guys. We should wake up every morning thanking God for his mercy in not sending Katrina or ISIS to our front door.
Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.
Not just the Galileans.
Not just the homosexuals at a club.
All means the self-righteous church leader who privately pays for his daughter’s abortion because he worries about what a very public unplanned pregnancy could do to his career advancement plans.
All means the hypocritical progressive who is so full of love that he absolutely hates anyone who doesn’t agree with his definition of love.
All means you.
And all means me.
Christ’s call to repentance wasn’t some empty chatter like the guy on the side of the busy street yelling about hell and the end. It was a warning. But it was also an invitation to his grace.
Some time after Jesus spoke the surprising words, the same Pilate who massacred the Galileans would put Jesus on a cross. But it is in that great tragedy that we can find hope. By God’s grace and through faith, we can be set free from the death sentence that we all deserve.
It is very important for Christians to address sin. This is no call to tone down the gospel. But when we address sin, we must remember that the personal sins we accept are just as disgusting to God as the public sins committed by others. And we must also remember grace.
Grace is not God turning a blind eye to our sin. It is God turning his wrath that we deserve onto his Son and giving us his Son’s perfect righteousness in exchange (2 Corinthians 5:21). And what a great exchange it is.
It’s an exchange that is available to the homosexual.
And the self-righteous religious person.
And to Steven Anderson.
And to me and you.