This morning as I was scrolling through my Facebook feed, I saw a blog post written by Rachel Held Evans. I have never heard of this particular author before, but the title of the post intrigued me, so I clicked the link. Her post "It's Not About Conforming to the World" stirred something in my heart, so I decided to go to my room and pray and read. I prayed that if God would have me respond to this blog post, He would show me in His word the truth, and lead me in write a loving and respectful post. I pray for grace both for myself as the writer and you as the reader.
Father, I pray that you will have your way in me. Lord, let no unwholesome talk come out of my mouth, let me build up and edify, let me be bold, help me walk in truth, and bless this post. May my words bring glory to you alone, and may I not fear what others think of me when I hit publish. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Who Am I?
Let me share a little about myself before I address this post. I think it's important for you to know me, and where I am coming from. I am a SINNER. I am selfish and self-serving, I have had sex outside of marriage, I watch horror movies, I cuss when I'm excited (I know weird right?), I have disciplined in anger, I have been unfaithful to my husband emotionally, I have viewed p*rn, I turned my back on God for two long years, I have had doubts, and again I am a sinner. Every . Single . Day .
So as you can see, I know a lot about grace and mercy. I know what it feels like to be forgiven by God for the sin in my life, and I am free and justified and righteous today because Jesus paid for every single sin I had committed before I believed, after I believed, and until I die. He paid it all. But the Christian life doesn't end with salvation, it has just begun, and as we grow in our relationship with Christ, we learn more about Him, about God, about the Holy Spirit, and who he is creating us to be (more like Jesus). That is the goal, yet it's by God's grace alone and nothing we do leads us to this sanctification that we long for. It is God's work, not ours that changes lives, and this is precisely the point of my post. This is where my disagreement with Rachel's post starts.
Rachel says in her post:
Second, when it comes to challenging common narratives around gender, sexuality, and science (among other things), it’s not about rejecting Scripture and conforming to the world, it’s about trying to make sense of Scripture in light of new information, lived experience, and often Scripture itself.
I’m not taking my cues on what to write about from the secular culture; I’m taking my cues on what to write about from fellow Christians.
My first issue with this is that she is taking her cues from fellow Christians. While I respect my brothers and sisters in Christ deeply, I do my best to take my cues from Jesus, and the only other Christians I take cues from are the ones the Holy Spirit spoke through in the Bible. As for everyone else, I come in contact with I try to remember to test everything they say against the authority of Scripture.
As I read my Bible this morning this is what Paul wrote to Timothy:
Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.
To help shed light on these verses I have used the Matthew Henry commentary:
Verses 5-11 Whatever tends to weaken love to God, or love to the brethren, tends to defeat the end of the commandment. The design of the gospel is answered, when sinners, through repentance towards God and faith in Jesus Christ, are brought to exercise Christian love. And as believers were righteous persons in God's appointed way, the law was not against them. But unless we are made righteous by faith in Christ, really repenting and forsaking sin, we are yet under the curse of the law, even according to the gospel of the blessed God, and are unfit to share the holy happiness of heaven.
As you can see this verse specifically addresses homosexuality, and the commentary speaks to the fact that we are made righteous by faith in Christ and therefore because of our love for Jesus and God we do all we can to forsake sin. It's not that in forsaking sin and trying to be perfect we are saved, but in our salvation, we are opened to loving God and no longer being an enemy of His and God gives us the grace to want to be righteous and the grace to be changed.
So What Does This All Mean?
Does Christ call us to be compassionate to sinners? Yes of course He does. He ate with sinners, loved sinners, and died on a cross for sinners, BUT he never excused sin, he never said sin was pardonable, our sin was so bad in God's eyes that it deserved a wrath of eternal hell, a wrath that Jesus had to pay for not only with his physical body but in being abandoned by God, the Father he had pleased his entire life. That has a lot to say about how bad our sin is, regardless of what it is.
So my question is this: Does it not seem like we would be spitting in Jesus' face if we said to him "I know you died for me and went through agony and hell for me, but my sin really isn't that bad, and I don't really think I should repent or seek your grace to turn away from my sin. Truthfully speaking, none of us ever really want to turn away, but God gives us just the slightest desire to seek Him in our sin and then gives us the power to change.
I'm rambling so I will do my best to wrap this up. If the church starts to accept sins because times are changing, we are NOT a Christian church at all. Are people broken? Yes! Do people need compassion? Yes! What people do not need is someone to make excuses for them. You would never tell a liar that it's okay to continue lying, you wouldn't tell a man that is cheating on his wife that you have compassion for him because we are all sinners so it's fine to continue committing adultery, and you would not tell someone living a life of sexual sin (homosexuality or otherwise) that they are honoring God with their lifestyle choice. No, you would offer counsel, prayer, and if need be church discipline because that is what the Bible calls us to do. (Matthew 18:17 - 18)
Why would we do this? Because it's what Jesus would do, it's what you do when you love someone. When you love someone you want what's best for them, in the way that God wants what is best for them. You want God's will for their lives, and God is very clear about what he wants for his children.
What is the will of God? I'm glad you asked!
1 Thessalonians 4:3 says "For this is the will of God, your sanctification. That you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one transgresses and wrongs his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger of all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards not man, but God, who gives the Holy Spirit to you."
Are we ever called to hate or hurt anyone saved or unsaved? NO!!
But we are called to live by God's word, and to build churches on His word alone, so watering down his word to better mesh with the culture we live in, is indeed conforming to this world. God's grace allows us to sit in church and hear the truth about p*ornograhy, sexual sin, lying, cheating, and every other sin and come away with a desire for him to work in our hearts and change us, and from what I gather from this article we should instead be considering whether we should be accepting of these types of sin, and make accommodations, so no one leaves feeling offended. I don't think so. If you look at who Jesus is you will see, he was indeed very offensive. Jesus is passionate, bold, compassionate, and full of light and truth. He loves sinners but hates sin. It was the sin that made the Father turn his face away. Following Jesus and becoming like him, that is about love. A love relationship with the Son and the Father.
My final thought is this: We cannot be so concerned with getting people into the church that we deny the truth of the Bible, it is God who chooses the elect, and He will bring them in. At the same time, we cannot stop eating with tax collectors and sinners because God uses us to bring them to Him. We have to be in the world without being of the world, and it scares me to think that churches today aren't grounded enough in Scripture to know the difference. How can you even understand your need for a savior if you don't understand your lifestyle or choices are sin? I don't think you can.