A Call to Loving Christian Conviction
A Call to Loving Christian Conviction
By Mike Sciarra, 5-10-13
Time magazine claims the battle has already been won. Their recent cover story on homosexuality (featuring a same sex couple kissing) was blatant, in your face and one that it sadly seems most Jesus-loving, Bible-believing Christians are now either afraid to speak the truth about or have bought into the many lies we have been force-fed over the past thirty-some years. This is a topic we must grapple with. It is way past the infiltration stage.
The American Church's approach (and tentative tiptoeing around it) is indicative of just how much we have been affected by it over the past several decades. Instead of standing on the authority of Scripture and proclaiming the Lordship of Christ, we are worried about offending others and looking unloving. Instead of addressing it first biblically we are more often addressing it first behaviorally. It’s a slippery slope. If we believe Scripture is sufficient, we must apply it as such (2 Timothy 3:16-17). I've seen many cave because the immovable foundation was not first set. It is telling and betrays the fact that we are more affected by and conformed to the cultural battle than we are being transformed by the renewing of our minds (by God's Spirit, through His Word) on this subject.
We must approach this topic biblically, from a sound hermeneutic before looking at personal feelings about it. In everything, what does God's Word say about it? Settle that. And then, how should I respond? How should what Jesus did at the Cross transform everything? We go to odd extremes when attempting to reconcile clear biblical teaching with the lives of those we might know and love who don't share our views. We will point out something positive about them in a way that almost sounds like it evens the scales and God will accept them by their works. "They are monogamous", "They are so kind and loving, "They do so much good". We have done it in the past with the Mormons, explaining away their belief in demonic lies with lines like "they put Christians to shame by their devotion", "they are so family oriented", "they are such good people", or "They supported Proposition 8".
It seems that homosexuality is the new politically correct, cool, designer sin. It's the latest "I'm not a bigot, see I'm accepting" litmus test of tolerance orthodoxy. Let's put it another way: which lifestyle that is incompatible with biblical truth and a regenerate life are we willing to give protected status to? We effectively put a person's spiritual life in jeopardy by refusing to call sin sin and giving them falsehood instead of truth. We waive loving biblical mandates (to address sin for the good of the person and health of Christ's bride) in favor of tolerating and even enabling.
We must realize that every person deals with choices, feelings, and/or tendencies and propensities to sin but this does not give us license to condone sin. In answer to the "Why are we not having this conversation about any other sinful behavior?" question, its because this is the one that is continually forced upon us; and our silence is too often considered acceptance.
Every family has been and is affected by many sins. That should make us more loving and empathetic; and also more convinced of the wrongness and sinfulness of certain choices and behaviors. We should be more intent to rescue those in danger of perishing. Wherever depraved humans live, sin will rear its ugly head (and that ugly head will often be covered with a deceptive mask). We would do well to speak truth in an atmosphere of love rather than hide or obscure truth in an atmosphere of the fear of man or false acceptance.
So, what exactly are we called to do? How are we to respond? It depends on whether a person professes to be a Christian or not. In the context of unbelievers, we must lovingly and clearly call them to faith and repentance. We should love an unsaved person and not focus on their behavior, but on their standing with God. We should be more concerned with a person's eternal soul than the temporary out workings of sin in their life. We should not expect them to act like believers should act. But we must speak the truth. In the context of professing believers, we must call them to faith and obedience.
Any so-called brother needs to reflect it in their life. Fruit of the Spirit will be evident. We should absolutely expect them to act like believers should act. Therefore, the person who struggles with sin but doesn't want to act out is to be commended, comforted, and strengthened to do what is right; while the person who blatantly wants to live in a sinful lifestyle, not fighting it but rather celebrating it, must be corrected and called to repentance. That is the most loving and merciful response.
Just so we are clear, if someone professes to be a true believer but chooses to persist blatantly in unrepentant sin, choosing to call that sin an acceptable lifestyle, then we find ourselves in a church discipline context. Will we live the truth and speak it with love and grace or fold under the pressure to accept a sinful lifestyle? The biblical question should be very clear to us and our response must be constrained by the Book. Love everyone, absolutely. Also, admonish the unruly (those who unrepentantly insist that sin is ok and persist in living on friendly terms with it need to be corrected not comforted). Encourage the faint hearted and help the weak (those struggling and doing battle with sin need to be helped and strengthened to flee from sin and make God-honoring choices in the face of temptation). Bottom line: We must not condemn people and we cannot expect unbelievers to act like believers.
On the other hand, neither should we celebrate nor condone sin. We should expect believers to act like believers, confessing and forsaking sin and seeking to please God. Love and acceptance of a person on a relational level does not eliminate biblical imperatives. We must do the most loving thing graciously, mercifully, and in fear of displeasing Almighty God rather than man. Read 1 Cor. 5:1-13; 6:9-20.; Galatians 6:1-5; 1 Thessalonians 5:12-22.
Postscript: My heart aches once again, this time over hearing how one Bible-believing Christian's voice, that of ESPN's Chris Broussard, cannot be tolerated to speak God-honoring truth respectfully amid a sea of total celebration of a so-called Christian blatantly living in unrepentant sin. The response to Broussard is nothing short of hateful intolerance. Up against Jesus' words in Matt. 24:35 "My words will never pass away" is a one-sided culture war being forced upon us. Intense pressure to accept as right what we know is wrong. We cannot disagree respectfully. We are expected to accept without question.
This is the world we live in. The pressure to cave is immense. There is complete intolerance for any view that doesn't affirm the loudly celebrated parade of people in open rebellion to God. Bible believing Christians who seek to be loving to all people are considered caveman freaks for holding to God's Word without twisting it to condone sin. If we have not braced ourselves for this reality, then we're already close to being pulled over the tug-o-war line. I am praying that we would all live lives that honor God as we stand on Biblical truth - even as it is called untrue and we, liars. -Mike Sciarra is the Senior Pastor of Grace Church in Orange, Ca. All praise to the Lord Jesus Christ. I have been saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, as revealed in Scripture alone, for God's glory alone. Jesus loves you!