Thursday, November 15, 2012

Blessed are the Persecuted: Responding to Skeptics

After posting the previous blog (here), I received the same objection from several people. Thus, I would like to respond to it formally.

I stated that if it really came down to persecution of Christians or persecution of homosexuals, it would be the most Christ-like response for we Christians to choose our own.

The main objection I got goes something like this:
By standing against homosexuality, we are not persecuting them, but are rather declaring God’s truth, that they are sinning. Furthermore, we must be the responsible citizens who are going to stand up and fight for truth. It has nothing to do with persecution.
(If I could state it better, let me know and I’ll alter my wording)

You may not think it is persecution, but it is persecution in the eyes of homosexuals and of millions of others.
Sure, you could say that we are supposed to present the truth and they can call it what they like, but you’d be missing the point of ministry, and missing the point of God’s truth.
Would a good minister disregard how he/she comes across to those he/she is ministering to?
Paul knew the importance of presenting the Gospel in a way in which his audience could understand and appreciate (Acts 17:16–34).
Furthermore, Christ came to save sinners with his love, not to condemn them into following him.

I was watching a documentary about homosexuality and the church, and in it there was a real story of a Christian mother who found out her daughter was a lesbian. The mother was devastated and told the daughter that, though she would never stop loving her, she could never accept that and would always hate it about her (like “love the sinner, hate the sin”). This mother, in her eyes, was just telling her daughter God’s truth.
A few months later, her daughter committed suicide.
When I got to that part of the story, I couldn't help but cry. And I know Jesus also cried.

We have to learn how to better minister to homosexuals. We have to learn that the way so many Christians adamantly stand against homosexuality makes homosexuals feel persecuted.
When we put up our signs that say “Homosexuality is an abomination,” we are, in their eyes, persecuting them. Doing this will not only cause many to reject God completely, but it can and does make people feel horrible.
This is not at all what Christ looked like.

Not only did Jesus dine with sinners, but they were drawn to him! There was something about him they wanted to pursue.
This drove the Pharisees crazy, because they sought to be moral guardians. They were the ones standing against others because of their sin.
Christ knew how ineffective and unloving this was. Christ was someone who stood with sinners, not against them. 

Furthermore, Paul said, “What business is it of mine to judge those outside of the Church?” (1 Cor. 5:12).
If it isn’t our business to judge the sins of those who are outside the Church, why are we making it our business?

Christianity shouldn't inspire someone to commit suicide.
Christianity should be marked by a salvific, transforming love that inspires people to become disciples of the beautiful Christ.
For that to happen, we need to get rid of our moral guardian mindsets and stop making it our business to judge the sins of others.
Our job is to love sinners like Christ, and love is patient and kind, not jealous, not boastful, not proud, not self-seeking, not easily angered.
Love does not delight in evil, and nor does love keep a record of sins.
Rather, Love rejoices with the truth, always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres; and it never fails.

We should be focusing more on practicing these qualities towards sinners than trying to make their sins illegal (especially if we’re not willing to make our own sins illegal).

4 comments:

  1. Your heart comes through loud and clear, John Daniel, and I get it: I love all that you have written in the pixelated sand, and I can hear rocks thudding dully to the ground all around me and Pharisaical feet shuffling away (with not a little muttering). The persecuted are successfully defended; thank you for helping them to their feet. I'm just wondering if I can stay until you get to the part where you say, "...sin no more." (Of course, by the Bible's silence, we can only assume that the woman did just that and did not remain obdurate in her "right" to her proclivity. Hmmm... there must have been something in HOW He said it... authority, perhaps?)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I appreciate your kind words and encouragement.
      I agree that there does come a point of conviction. I do agree that homosexuality is a sin. But we must remember that Christ captivated her heart with his love before telling her to sin no more. He stood with her as all the other were standing against her. He expressed to her his perfect, amazing, transforming love before telling her to sin no more.

      Delete
  2. Well done John Daniel. I think Mike said it best: it's time we put our stones down and walk away from persecuting homosexuals. Even the "love the sinner, hate the sin" approach can still be devastating as you pointed out because homosexuality is unfortunately a matter of identity rather than lifestyle. How Christians should treat homosexuals is this: love the sinner, period. Our confidence in the end is that God is just, and he knows the hearts of men better than what the Bible says is worthy of hell.

    ReplyDelete
  3. So, what I'm about to post was actually something I wrote as a response to someone else on facebook the other day, we weren't talking about homosexuality, but what I said is quite pertinent here.

    "I've always felt it was unfortunate, and perhaps misguided for christians to identify the things that they are against, rather than the things they are for. It always seemed backwards to me that their faith seemed based on a position of exclusion rather than inclusion. I believe Jesus teaches us to find the good within, and to love everyone, like God does, not to rebuke or exclude them.

    We are taught to rebuke sin, yes, but essentially if you want the definition of what "sin" is, you can't look at examples of it, and pick and choose the ones you're going to rebuke on a case by case basis. All sin is equal in God's eyes, and the reason for that is because when we sin, we are separating ourselves from God. Sin, as a state of being, is the state of being apart from (excluded from) God. If this state of exclusion is what we are called not to do, then it therefore seems wrong to me to base our theology around what we DON'T accept. Yet this is something that many believers continue to place great importance upon. They define themselves theologically around what they are against."

    I completely agree with you John Daniel, any attempt to make sin illegal, or to exclude sinners from ourselves (who ought to be exhibiting the behavior of Christ) is the way of the Pharisees. Like it or not, the pattern in the Bible shows that God frequently asked people to do things that they did not want to do, things that were very difficult and risky and unpleasant. Loving sinners is easily one of those things, but Jesus did it (and still does) and we are called to as well. It's debatable but I believe that saying or doing anything which attempts to exclude or turn away individuals because of their sin does not accomplish this, and in fact, like you said, often accomplishes the opposite.

    ReplyDelete