When the Supreme Court announced its 5 – 4 decision a little over a week ago to legalize same-sex marriage in all 50 states, news and social media sites lit up with celebrations in the name of love.
I felt sorrow. I know many of you did, too.
Our sorrow may confuse or even infuriate those who know us.
How can you, followers of a loving God, not celebrate when men and women across the country are free at last to express their love?
While I’m sure some want to trump and trap those of us who hold to an orthodox Christian worldview, I think most ask questions like this with sincerity, trying to make sense of us. How can you be against . . . love?
And I think many within the church are stumped by the question, too. We look at gay couples who seem to love as well as the rest of us, we talk with gay friends and wonder, Have I been getting this wrong all along? Am I on the wrong side of history?
Confusion abounds from without and within our Christian circles.
Our sorrow is not because love has triumphed, but because we believe something else masquerading as love has. Christianity teaches that sin is any way we pull away from God and plug into another source, it’s any attempt to be our own gods, beginning with the idea we can know right and wrong on our own. The first sin looked like eating a piece of fruit, after all.
Sin can look religious or profane, deadly or benign, heartless or romantic, horrid or beautiful, hateful or loving. This includes sex between two people of the same gender. It also includes . . .
- Lust that uses another person for its own sexual gratification.
- Strong feelings that stir a woman to leave her husband and kids for another man.
- Words whispered by a teenage guy compelling a girl to have sex with him.
- “Love the sinner, hate the sin” spoken from a distance, apart from real self-sacrificing relationship.
So where do we go from here? What are followers of Christ to do in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling? Here are several things I’m trying to do. I hope they’ll be helpful to you:
- When I get confused about what love is, I do best not to look at anyone else at all, but to gaze directly at Christ on the cross and to let Him gaze upon me. The cross reminds me that the wages of sin is death. No matter how romantic or how religious it looks, sin enslaves and destroys. And we all alike need to be rescued from it.
- Second, I spend time at the cross because Jesus’ love manifested there exposes my love as paltry and small. Compared with His, my love is a wispy and fleeting little thing. Sometimes it’s exposed as no love at all, but as hunger, greed, or self-seeking. This is a bitter pill and a narrow way. But I need to let my little love be assumed into the body of Christ, and to die with Him, that it might be raised new and good and real, like His.
- The Supreme Court’s ruling reminds me I’m an alien and stranger here. The Court has also made rulings advancing no-fault divorce, pornography, and the killing of babies in their mothers’ wombs. Somehow in the midst of this, I grow comfortable and put pursuing an American dream over living for Christ as a citizen of His unseen Kingdom. This is an opportunity to choose again this day whom I will serve.
- As concerns for religious freedoms tempt me to anxiety or fear, I’m seeking to accept afresh the clear teaching of Scripture that those who follow Christ will be misunderstood, hated, and suffer as He did. No, I don’t mean thinking of myself as a victim or martyr (there’s a subtle self-righteousness that can come that way), but that as I look to the future, I don’t need to fear. Jesus and His faithful ones have gone before us. We are free to take our eyes off ourselves and instead choose to love.
- With this in mind, Love Himself requires me to engage relationally instead of just talking from a distance about or down to those who disagree with me. I want to practice laying down my life sacrificially for those around me, even those with whom I disagree. This is what Love did and does. His love within me will call me to do no less.
Now is not the time to slumber. Now is the time to awake, repent, and follow.
If I could ask one thing of you, it would be this: Please pray for and walk with our brothers and sisters who experience homosexual attractions and who are choosing to submit those feelings to Christ. They need our salient friendship now as much as ever.
Jesus, may we come to love like You.
In the name of love,