I wrote last Friday that in the changing world we live in ideas about love and hate are being distorted. While I don’t preach about hell in an attempt to scare people saved, never talking about it at all is not the way to show love. If I knew my neighbor were in danger and did nothing, that would be the opposite of love. The Gospel message is that while many people are bound for hell that is not God’s desire; his Son died under condemnation so that no other person need be condemned. Telling others that God desires for relationship and fellowship to be restored is what we as Christians are called to, but ignoring that death, judgement and hell are the consequences of sin is not an option.
“Love the sinner, hate the sin” is not found in scripture, yet there are many passages of scripture that prescribe that course of action. Yes, the Bible says God is love. The Bible also says that God hates sin. Sin breaks the fellowship between people and God that loves them. The wages (what we are due) for sin is death. Because of God’s great love, for all human kind, he hates sin. We are instructed, in Philippians 2 among other places, to have the same mind in us as Christ had. He was tempted to sin but did not. Jesus and the Apostle Paul preached woe to those who willfully sin and encourage others to do the same. But again the reason for these things is that God loves us. We are all free to choose, but not free from the consequences of our choices.
Al Mohler is the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and an outspoken voice among Southern Baptists. The annual meeting of the SBC will take place in just a few days. One of the things bound to be discussed is what to do about a local church congregation that chooses to embrace same gender marriage. The Bible, Old and New Testament, as well as the Baptist Faith and Message are clear when it comes to the sinfulness of such relationships and defining what type of relationship is acceptable. Loving our neighbor cannot include ignoring unconfessed and continued unrepentant sinful behavior. Our culture is changing. The government isn’t leading the change in attitudes toward homosexual marriage, it is simply responding to the societal change that is already taking place. You don’t have to like it, but the tide is already moving in the direction of gay marriage rights becoming the law of the land. The function of democratic government is to reflect the will of the people, and it is doing so. The function of the church, as the body of Christ, is to represent the will of God and to speak and act on his behalf. That often means standing in opposition to popular culture.
Read Al Mohler’s article There Is No Third Way. Sooner or later, and he argues sooner, every church will have to make a decision on same gender marriage rights. We will choose to stand firm in the traditional values of marriage or we will be swayed by culture away from God, his Word and his will. Your local church, and mine, will make a personal decision that involves our congregation. For SBC churches that will also involve local and state Baptist associations deciding what action to take in response to the decisions made by member churches.
You cannot serve God and man, and if the church is not serving God then what are we doing? Picking and choosing what we like about the Bible and what we will ignore is not an option for many of us. And while trusting God and believing the Bible are easy things to say we will do, it is going to become increasing difficult to actually practice as our culture changes, accusing us of being filled with hate and intolerance. Our freedoms of speech and of expression will be threatened when standing firm on God’s Word and denouncing sin are defined as hate crimes. Just remember, they crucified Jesus, imprisoned Paul and stoned Stephen. If that day comes we will find ourselves in good company.