By DR. DARRYL CRAFT
Arguments about gender and sexuality are not going away. If anything, they are becoming more intense and in your face. Adults and children alike hear terms like “LGBT, transgender, and gay” daily. In this tsunami of social change, how are Christians to respond? Especially when feeling the stinging vitriol of those who label us as “bigoted, arrogant, exclusive, dogmatic, and homophobic”!
One particular word that seems to sting the most is the word “hater.” No one wants to be considered hateful, or a hater. In today’s culture, to simply disagree and have an opinion that is contrary to someone’s life choices is often seen as “hating.”
Yet, the scripture is very clear that there are things that God hates (Proverbs 6:16-19; Deuteronomy 12:31, 16:22; Psalms 5:4-6, 11:5). The Bible declares that God is love and He has done so in both Word and deed (John 3:16; Romans 5:8; 1 John 4:8; 16).
God, who is perfect, loves and He also hates! While this is a paradox, it can be understood only in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Don Carson once said, “God looked at Christ with all His hatred toward sin and sinners, so that He could look on sinners with all His love for His son.”
God’s love cannot be separated from the truth of the gospel. Social re-engineering is seeking to remove the condemnation of sin. To condemn anything as “sin” is to be a “hater.” In gospel terms, the most unloving thing a Christian can do is to diminish the reality of sin and explain it away. To do so destroys our gospel witness and communicates that man does not need a Savior.
Seeking to honor the truth of God’s Word, Christians must be diligent to speak about sin issues in the greater context of the gospel. To do so otherwise leaves the impression we are simply seeking to modify lifestyles so people meet our expectations of socially acceptable behavior. We must speak the truth in love, not because we want people to conform to us, but that they may see the consequence of their sin and the provision God has made in Christ for our sin.
The cultural changes that seem to be sweeping our nation are not really new. Paul spoke specifically to a culture overwhelmed in sexual sin. Writing to the Corinthians, Paul knew they lived in a city that was synonymous with illicit sex. The Greek word for “to corinthianize” means, “to live with drunkenness and sexual immorality.” In 1 Corinthians 6, Paul doesn’t explain away their sin as “normal” or “acceptable.” Instead, he speaks directly to the things God hates in order to offer them hope because of the life-changing power of the gospel.
Every week, I know that in attendance at our church will be people struggling with every imaginable sexual sin. I desperately want them to leave understanding and knowing the great power of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I want them to see how Jesus has the power to set people free from slavery to sin. As we seek to engage people who want to call us “haters” keep in mind four statements that can be gleaned from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians:
- Understand that a sexual ethic based on scripture condemns sexual sin, including homosexual behavior. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10)
“Regardless of how you rank the current controversy over sexual immorality, it is clear that the most fundamental questions about what it means to be a Christian and whether we should submit to God’s Word are at stake in this issue.” David Platt (President of the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Missions Board, Pastor, and Author)
“In the end, we’re going to have to offend someone on this issue—either the world or Jesus. And I choose to offend the world. Ours is not the first generation to be offended by the teachings of Jesus. It won’t be the last. And while the specifics of what offends the culture changes from age to age, every generation has to choose whether our allegiance is to culture or to our Savior. I pray that we may all stand firm.” JD Greear (Pastor of The Summit Church, in Raleigh-Durham, NC, Author, and Theologian)
- Christians must speak about all sexual sin, including homosexuality from a gospel perspective, not from a position of moral superiority. (1 Corinthians 6:11)
We are all bent toward sexual sin. Isaiah 53:6 tells us “All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.” In a 2013 article, “My Train Wreck Conversion,” in Christianity Today, Rosaria Butterfield said, “I looked at my heart through the lens of the Bible.”
- Churches must be a place of grace helping sinners find their identity in Christ. (1 Corinthians 6:11)
“We should oppose same-sex marriage not just because we believe Romans 1, but also because we believe John 3:16. And the culture should see us as brokenhearted revivalists, not just outraged moralists. We shouldn’t see homosexuality simply as a threat to family values in the abstract. We should weep that it is also a Roman road to hell—for real people with faces and names.” (Russ Moore, SBC Life 2004)
- Christians must flee immorality and pursue holiness empowered by the gospel of Jesus Christ and the indwelling Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 6:12-20)
We often are ready to raise our voices in protest against the sexual sin of the culture, but too often ignore the sin that is in our lives. By no means should we ignore what is taking place in our culture, we must be salt and light, a prophetic voice of truth. But we must also be clean vessels, or we will be an embarrassment and stumbling block for the kingdom.
What Should We Do?
- Be Honest
- Do I condemn sexual sin in others while harboring sexual sin in my own life?
- Am I really willing to look at my life through the lens of the Bible?
- Be Prayerful
- Pray for one another.
- Pray for compassion, boldness, wisdom, and humility in addressing issues such as homosexuality, pornography, and other forms of sexual sin.
- Be Hopeful
- “Such were some of you.”
In conclusion, remember what Jesus said in John 15:18, “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you.” No one likes being called a “hater.” Keep in mind that when accused of hating others for upholding biblical beliefs, the greatest form of hate is to withhold the truth that sets men free.
Dr. Darryl Craft is the Senior Pastor at Temple Baptist Church in Hattiesburg, MS. For more information, visit www.tbclife.net.