Saturday, June 27, 2015

What's love got to do with it?

Yesterday was a day for the history books.  For those of you who don't go on any social media websites, watch TV, or talk to other people, yesterday the US Supreme Court ruled for the legalization of LGBT Marriage.  Now, this is not a topic I would normally weigh in on, but everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, seems to have taken this opportunity to declare to the internet world what their opinion on the matter is.  And I have to admit, it has left me feeling very confused.

In the last day, I have seen Christian leaders, ones whom I greatly respect, post provocative statements, which, while true, have made me question whether they wrote in love or to stir the pot.  I have seen Christian leaders post very opposite statements, both of which have been vehemently attacked, as well as resoundingly agreed with.  I have read articles about how this is a great opportunity for Christ followers to display God's love, and other ones about how the Supreme Court made a "huge mistake."  I've seen predictions of how society is going to crumble, and I've read celebratory accounts of people who finally get to marry the person they love.

It's all downright confusing.

Now, if you're scouring this post hoping to find out whether or not I agree with the ruling, quit now.  You're not going to find it.  I refuse to be another voice in this heated political debate.  What you will find, should you keep reading, is my opinion on how, as followers of Christ, we should be responding to what happened yesterday.

Let me start with a few statements.  To those in the Church who are in a huff about the ruling:  How does this affect you so deeply that you should be angry?  Churches legally have the right to refuse to marry a couple if it is against their religion.  You will not be forced to go against your beliefs in any way.  You are not being persecuted for your beliefs - you're free to continue with your worship and your lifestyle.  This really has very little affect on you.  Not to mention, as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 5:12, "What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church?  Are you not to judge those inside?"  As followers of Christ, we hold ourselves up to a certain standard, judging by the Bible what is right and what is wrong.  How can you judge someone by those standards if they themselves don't believe those standards are even valid?  Your job is to judge those who identify themselves with the name of Jesus, and even then, to begin by gently correcting with love.

Secondly, to those in the LGBT community:  I apologize on behalf of the people who have called themselves followers of Christ, but have acted in angry and unloving ways towards you.  I'm sorry for the hurt they've caused, and I hope you believe me when I say that you've had a poor sampling.  We're not all angry and hateful, I promise.  And while that holds true, I'd like to remind you that disagreeing with your views is not synonymous with hating you.  Christians have the right to believe the Bible says that homosexuality is a sin just as much as you have a right to believe that it is not.  They have a right to express that belief, just the same way you have the right to express that you think they're wrong.  I hope, whichever side my readers fall on, we will agree to engage in this conversation in love and openness, as friends, and not as enemies.

So, on to the issue at hand.  I've recently read, over and over again, accusations of the church being hateful.  I truly believe that this alone grieves God more than almost anything.  When Jesus walked on earth, he made it resoundingly clear that the two most important things in life are to love God and to love others.  Under no circumstances should we ever come off as hateful.  The standard we should worry about holding ourselves to is one of love.  In everything, we should be asking ourselves, "is this a loving response?  Am I speaking truth in love, or am I condemning those who hear me?  Am I acting in a loving way, one that leads others to the person of Jesus Christ, or am I alienating those around me?"

Let's go back to Cornell West's definition of justice: "Justice is what love looks like in public."  Are we pursuing justice by publicly loving those we disagree with?  Are we inviting people to the cross by the way we respond to big issues like this one?  Are we promoting grace and redemption in the way we discuss these issues?

If you call yourself a follower of Christ and publicly identify with his name, I hope these questions will weigh heavily on your heart as you decide how to respond in this debate.  If you can't honestly say your response is being voiced with grace and love, I hope you'll have the restraint to keep it to yourself until Jesus has had the chance to work out His grace and His love in you, and you can respond accordingly.

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