Perhaps because of what I do for a living, I have been asked about gay marriage many times over the last couple of years. With very few exceptions, each of the questions I’ve been asked is some variation of the same question: What is your position on gay marriage? Some ask to make sure I’m on the right side of the issue; some ask because they are conflicted about which side is right, but they feel pressure to choose a side (and to choose the right side, obviously).
I understand the desire to be right. I understand the pressure to choose. I understand that right and wrong still matter. The question that all of the questions seem to be asking still makes sense to me.
And yet the more I am asked the question, the more I am convinced that we are so collectively obsessed with position we have forgotten that Jesus has at least as much to say about posture. My observation of the Church is that we usually give our first and best energies to formulating, asserting, and defending our positions, and on our most charitable days we footnote those positions with a small-print reminder to “speak the truth in love” or some such. And conveniently, we have so convinced ourselves that our positions are right that we believe the very act of articulating them is love. Posture is mostly an afterthought.
This is a problem, and it’s not a small one.
Orthodox Christian belief insists the Gospel is necessary because of God’s position on our broken ways of living (sin). But the heart of the good news is God’s posture toward us as we continue to break things, including ourselves.
My position on gay marriage is that we ought to respond to the world around us the way God responded to us when we didn’t do what He thought we should do. Even if we believe gay marriage is at odds with the way God intends us to live, and even when we feel compelled to say so, we ought to assume the same posture toward the world that God assumed toward us (and that He assumes toward the world). That posture looks something like this:
If Christians have been convinced of anything, it is that…
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
But here’s the sucker-punch of a next sentence that we tend to ignore in our myopic rush to leverage our salvation to assume and assert correct positions in the world:
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
Paul describes God’s posture toward us this way:
But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
And boy do we love that verse when it’s talking about Jesus dying for me.
But if it’s true that “whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did,” and “in this world we are like Jesus,” then the punch-line is unavoidable.
No matter how correct your position, if your posture toward a world you believe to be “still sinners” is anything other than a love that stubbornly refuses to condemn, but instead gives itself away to point to Jesus giving himself away, you are on your own. You are not standing on the truth of the scriptures or the shoulders of Jesus. Right position without the posture of God revealed in Jesus is not the Gospel.
Carry on with the discussions of gay marriage, morality, and culture. We need those conversations. Just remember that if we claim the name of Jesus, we are not ambassadors of moral positions or good behavior; we are ambassadors of a transcendent reconciliation possible only in Jesus, who made God’s love for sinners known not by a posture of condemnation, but of cross-shaped love.
A post-script word to those outside of the Church looking in: If you have been on the blunt end of a professing Christian’s position on this or another issue and were not shown the sacrificial posture of Jesus demonstrating God’s love for you, that person was not representing Jesus. They probably thought they were doing the right thing, but just as I have done dozens of times, they were confusing position, posture, and probably a few other things. They need Jesus as much as you do, and so do I. Forgive them and forgive me, please.
Thanks for the reminder, Thad.
Yes, no person Christian or pagan has a absolute right to condemn anyone at all regarding eternal matters relating to matters of our faith revealed in Christ and the Gospel. However, Paul the Apostle wrote the book of Romans as a inspired called minister of the Gospel and the word of God and in chapter One – God through Paul condemned all who reject Him and do not submit and repent of their sins (many listed including a final turn over to homosexuality)! So, the Scripture and God condemns or pardons the sinner, and we proclaim His word in love that warns people to turn from their sins and repent! The Gospel is NOT just “love” in the sense of “no warnings” of going in the wrong direction in sinful actions, but to the contrary, “Jesus said, “if one doesn’t repent they shall all likewise perish “! Today, folks shy away from repentance and preach what they claim is God’s love to others meaning we are not to ever challenge a pagan about his or her sin! Not so and that is a false message and Gospel. Historic revealtions of the Church at large has always shown the true ministers of Christ preach all of His word in love but that includes warnings and exposure of sin to those caught up in it whether saints or sinners who are lost!
I think it’s pretty clear that alot of good meaning Christians bring a hatchet to connecting moments that really need a butter knife. I know that my tongue must be seasoned in the love and life of Christ so that when I do speak, if they are drawn to or offended and walk away, it’s not because I chopped them with that hatchet. I am more convinced that I am not to fear my society because they have nothing over me but in spite of that, I can speak in love and care about who I’m speaking to without killing them with words. Just some thoughts…
go ye into the world and challenge everyone on their sin…… hm.
You bring up Romans 1, as so many Christians do. I have been a studier of the Bible since I was a child, and Romans is about my favorite book in it. It’s absolutely amazing to me how many Christians will bash on anyone anywhere for their sin with Romans 1, and never turn the page to read Romans 2. Romans 2:1, “Who are you to judge, therefore, seeing you do these same things?” Nor can we judge because we also were slaves to sin until the Holy Spirit moved in us to accept Jesus as our propitiation for sin. You are correct that the first- through fourth-century churches led with the Law to show that all are guilty of sin, and then showed the love of God in the sending of His Son to die for those sins, and raised Him to life so that we, also, might live forever with Him. It IS a fact that NO ONE will accept redemption who is not completely convinced of their status as a condemned to die eternally sinner (see John 3, “He that believeth is not condemned; He that believeth not is condemned already because he hath not believed in the only begotten Son…”). The problem with most Christians and their thoughts on gay marriage or any similar issue is that they feel they have the right, in America, to deny these people legal rights. They don’t like gay marriage because God said marriage is between a man and a woman and it’s sacred so they shouldn’t be allowed to get married. I ask all of those Christians: how many times have YOU been married heterosexually? Because the Bible says that if anyone divorces their spouse and remarries, it’s adultery. We don’t pay any attention to that. Once the divorced spouse dies, you can THEN remarry, but who’s saying that those who do not obey THIS Scripture shouldn’t be allowed to marry? How many of you Christians had sex before you got married? Bible says that’s fornication, and it’s listed in the big 10 sins right along with homosexuality, but I don’t see anyone yelling from their soap box that no one who has sex before marriage should be allowed to marry, or be denied any other rights. Yes, we must share the Gospel, but Paul also said, in 1 Corinthians, that if we do anything without love, meaning from a beginning foundation of and desire to show love throughout, then it’s useless and wasted breath. I could go on, but I think you see my point. I’m a conservative and a Christian, and as such, I understand that my citizenship is NOT of this world, it is of Heaven. This is THEIR world, and we are supposed to be a shining beacon of God’s love, not a black-robed judge wielding the Hammer of Retribution.
Fantastic, Thad. You are one of a critically small group of people I consider truly anointed. This is such a loving, welcoming admonition. Just fantastic writing.
I agree with this statement, Thad. I am so honored to call you friend. I love your writing and your explanation of what I try to say. Thank you!
Spot on. Thanks for writing.
Brilliant! Thanks for taking the time to express this so eloquently!
Well said, Thad.
Do you believe the sin that you commit is sinful? Do you want to continue in that sinful nature? Does it honor our Lord? Do you want that sin to be accepted and for people to look the other way?
I don’t understand what you’re saying / asking. To whom are you directing these questions?
I am not a deist. I have a friend who is a devout Christian with whom I have talks about the different ways we think / believe. That friend sent this article to me as a way of explaining how a true Christian “should” respond to the issue of gay marriage. She said it’s the best answer she’s found. I completely agree. Thank you – this is extremely well voiced.
I wholeheartedly agree with this message. I was talking about the core issue of some folks about this the other day. Often times, we as Christians tend to esteem ourselves higher than non-Christians, and even other Christians- much like the Jews esteemed themselves higher than Gentiles. However, James 2 verse 10 claims “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” If I am to take this as truth, then I am guilty of the whole law whether it be murder, adultery, and more to the point, homosexuality. I am no better than the person I condemn. We are equal. There is nothing they do that I do not share an equal responsibility in. I should not esteem myself higher than my neighbor with self-righteousness, but rather speak in love to my neighbor not impeding his or her potential relationship with Christ. For if I love my neighbor, I should want to do anything to do anything to show them the forgiveness
and life I have found in Christ our Lord. For the gospel truth does not belong to Christians alone, but to the whole world. Freely we have received, freely we should give-which includes forgiveness to our fellow man.
the fact you feel we need forgiveness implies you are judging, and not loving. did you miss the point? I felt I was right with you until your last paragraph– it’s difficult, isn’t it, just to love, and be love, and give love…..
Cara, the fact that you refuse to even consider the possibility that you are a sinner shows a very narrow-minded view of the scripture, and of Christ.
You don’t seem to understand what “judging” is. When someone does something that is sinful, and is objectively and obviously sinful according to the precepts set out in the Bible, it is not “judgmental” to note that action as a sin. Someone molests a child; it is certainly NOT “judgmental” to wish that person asks for and receives forgiveness for that horrible sinful action. It WOULD be judgmental to scream “Sinner! You’re going to hell! HAHAH!” at that person. But to honestly and lovingly desire that a sinner repent and be free from their sin? That’s love.
As Augustine says, “Cum dilectione hominum et odio vitiorum”–“love the sinner, hate the sin.” People can love you and desire your salvation while despising your sinful actions and attitudes. People can hope that you turn completely to Christ and abandon your sinful nature. It’s difficult, isn’t it, just to admit that you have sin in your life…. But with Christ and the Holy Ghost, you can do it!
Don’t forget James was referring to those who continued to follow the old law, not the law of love of the New Testament. Under the old law, any violation was a violation of the entire law and required a sacrifice. The final sacrifice was Jesus who placed us under grace and out from under the law. Look at Galatians Chapter 5 which addresses this very issue and one we often overlook as Christians.
This phrase, “And conveniently, we have so convinced ourselves that our positions are right that we believe the very act of articulating them is love”, makes me pause and, not counter, but…..elaborate on. I’ve know Christians who proclaim love and forgiveness, and yet they judge and angrily confront nonbelievers. To me, this is incredibly unhelpful both in spreading the Gospel and in referencing the name of all Christians. I’ve know people who proclaim to be Christian, and go to church on Wednesday and Sunday, but the rest of the time, live fairly hedonistic lifestyles. As if going to church on those two days absolves them from the rest of their weekly activities. I’ve never doubted the existence of God and have seen His hand work many times in my life. What I don’t understand, is how a person can deny the complete existence of a Creator. I understand the want to be on a “side” regarding gay marriage. I understand when people say it’s a human right to be able to love and marry whomever one chooses. They liken it to racial discrimination. What I don’t understand is the complete neglecting of WHY gay marriage is inherently wrong. God created man and woman to procreate. Man and man cannot. Woman and woman cannot. Therefore there is no purpose for same genders to be “together”. Why is that difficult? It’s because we live in a politically correct, fear of offending anyone culture that those who do stand up, may do so in the wrong (negative) manner.
Thanks for trying to invalidate my infertile heterosexual marriage. I draw comfort from our our wedding liturgy, which used Genesis 2:18-25. Partnership is first about companionship and helping each other.
Infertility comes from the fall, so must homosexuality… God’s design was for a man and a woman. Your marriage is hardly “invalidated”.
No one is seeking to do any such thing. (I’m sorry if that’s the impression you’ve been given.) Couples unable to bear children comprise a significant number, esp. when you include those of us in our POST-childbearing years. So, as you might expect, thoughtful supporters of the “conjugal view” of marriage do take account of this. See, for example, this excerpt from What is Marriage? (ROBERT GEORGE, SHERIF GIRGIS, & RYAN T. ANDERSON):
“Marriage is a comprehensive union of two sexually complementary persons who seal (consummate or complete) their relationship by the generative act – by the kind of activity that is by its nature fulfilled by the conception of a child. So marriage itself is oriented to and fulfilled by the bearing, rearing, and education of children. The procreative type act distinctively seals or completes a procreative type union.
“Again, this is not to say that the marriages of infertile couples are not true marriages…. marriage has its characteristic structure largely because of its orientation to procreation; it involves developing and sharing one’s body and whole self in the way best suited for honorable parenthood – among other things, permanently and exclusively. But such development and sharing, including the bodily union of the generative act, are possible and inherently valuable for spouses even when they do not conceive children.
“Therefore, people who can unite bodily can be spouses without children…. Infertile couples … meet the basic requirements for participating in the practice (conjugal union) and retain their basic orientation to the fulfillment of that practice … even if that fulfillment is never reached.”
For a fuller answer see: the section “D. If Not Same?Sex Couples, Why Infertile Ones?”
I hope that helps.
Man and woman do procreate. But not every man and woman procreates. Are those who are infertile or simply unlucky enough to meet someone with whom they’d want to marry and have children completely without purpose? Are our lives only meaningful if we procreate? Just as procreation is not the only purpose of existence, it is also not the only purpose of love. Marriage without procreation does not seem inherently wrong to me at all, and certainly the law in America does not require that married couples have or attempt to have children.
Procreation is NOT the point. And while love is the point, God’s design was simple. The fall created confusion… I love my dog, my best friend… Pizza! God didn’t make pizza as a helper/companion for man.
Pizza and your dog are not consenting adults, and I’m concerned that you can’t recognize the difference between the type of love that two adults feel for each other and the type of love someone feels for their favorite food.
Regardless, someone’s interpretation of God’s design is insufficient justification for legal policy in a country whose bill of rights establishes the separation of church and state, especially when that policy discriminates based on gender. That interpretation can and should form someone’s personal moral philosophy, but as the piece so eloquently says, God should inform your actions is through the posture of the gospel, not only or even more than the positions.
Laws in America must be based on their consequences in this world, the impact that they will have on American and her citizens in this world. No legislation can be based on anticipated consequences in the next world, no legislation can be based solely on an interpretation of God’s will when the result of that legislation is contrary to the Constitution.
I can’t have children. Does that mean I should be condemned for marrying? What about my friends who don’t want children? Should they? I feel truly sorry for you if you can’t see the beauty of love and lifelong partnership instead of viewing marriage as simply a conveyance for breeding the next generation.
BLAHSHALDASKDOAISNDH yes! yes yes yes when harry met sally YES! of course if youre friends with my haitian lard favorites, youd be awesome too. THANK YOU
Well said, Thad. Thank you.
Actually methinks ye olde “real” bible was written in ancient Hebrew, and not by rabbi Seuss, so maybe rethink an eternity strategy that relies too heavily on modern English puns. Thou shalt not spread hate on a log, ye shan’t spew loco on this blog.
haha, putapuredukes 🙂
Well the cray cray is gone! So now I just look ranty
Sorry, Keight. I didn’t look closely at direct replies to the comments I deleted. If you want me to take down something that doesn’t make sense now that the context is gone, let me know. I’m pretty easy about this stuff, but those two were more than I cared to have lingering.
Nah, I’m good. I doubled down on my social media ranting and quoted the loco comments on my fb to give context. They’re there for posterity with your link. Totally understand filtering such knuckleheadery.
I stand to be corrected, I believe this post of Posture vs. Position was not clearly dealt with. Jesus, for His the 3 1/2 yrs of his ministry was based on a position, and the last 3days, he gave a posture. So also, in His return, He is coming with a position. I feel a believer should run with the two sides concurrently. Just to mention a few…”By faith, Noah condemned the world..Heb 11:7; “All scriptures is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and teaching…2TIm 3:16…
I am not a “hardcore condemning Christian”, but when I come across a SIN, I would take my Position (saying God’s view about it), as well as my Posture (LOVE)
I, too, am wondering about this. Paul in particular spends far too much time talking about “rebuking and correcting” for this to be that easily resolved.
Jesus’ posture towards others was dependent on their posture towards him. To those that came to him asking for help in their brokenness, he offered immediate healing and forgiveness (but always ending on “Go and sin no more”, as in the woman caught in adultery as well as the man in John 5:14).
However, with those who came to him proud and arrogant in their sin, he took them down HARD. See his interactions with the pharisees, with the people cluttering up the temple with their money tables and wares. Heck, just listen to what he says about those who cause others to stumble: “It would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were cast into the sea than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.” (Luke 17:2)
And, of course, the position of many of the commenters applauding the (perceived) intent of this blog post would then condemn much of Paul’s writing as “un-Christlike”, which should be a non-starter for anyone wishing to call themselves Christian.
Paul has some pretty harsh words for those who claim to reside in the Church while living in sin: “But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one… Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. “Purge the evil person from among you.”” 1 Cor. 5:11-13
Of course, that verse itself has interesting connotations for how we interact with a world that does NOT claim to be Christian. But when it comes to those claiming to be part of the Church while actively and purposely living in sin, the verse is as clear as it could possibly be.
You mention the Pharisees and other religious leaders of the day for those that Christ came down hard on. Do you not recognize the difference between them and the people that Christ witnessed to, the woman at the well, etc. Do you not recognize the difference between the people Paul called a “brother” and the secular society was witnessing too? These were people claiming to know the truth and not actually living it, or were suppose to be teaching the truth and were not.
Jesse, you’re my hero.
I’ve been traveling all evening and am just catching up on the comments. Just a note to say that I’m happy for folks to disagree with me or one another here as long as it’s done charitably. Anyone making silly arguments about pets or hastily sending other people to hell will have their comments deleted. Sorry, but I’m an old high school debate geek and a follower of Jesus, so that ruins me in two ways: I’m not going to play host to bad, lazy arguments or to arbitrary condemnation rooted in the very religious spirit Jesus broke in two.
love this comment Thad! Great work!
You are so awesome! I’m laughing because of how freaking awesome you are!
Thank you. Just…thanks so much.
Thank you. This is beautiful.
Keight. I’m glad Thad left your commentary up because your rhymes are making me giddy at 1am on a mosquito-hellish Haitian morning. These two thousand bites (the reason I am awake again) are probably jugement for agreeing with Thad Norvell and his heretical ways. (Also, Thad, I categorically reject that the person leaving the unoriginal and overdone ‘Adam and Steve’ comment ended up here as a result of my sharing of this link. That is clearly Keight’s fault.) I can’t find Troy. He is probably off fooling around with a mosquito, too. (Applying for a mosquito marriage license?)
Lol…this comment is pure entertainment. Mesi pou fe m ri. And Thad–thanks. This is great stuff.
This really is written quite beautifully, though I still have tugs at my heart. I love and am related to many gay men and women, yet when I stand up for their rights as human beings (as I would stand up for others as well), I am met with condemnation from other “Christians” and told I am a luke-warm believer. That I am wrong for loving these people or condoning their lifestyle. My theory is that I am to love and not to condemn or judge anyone. We are all sinners on this earth trying to become better followers of Christ. So every day I question myself in my thoughts and beliefs…..
Is it ok to love my gay uncle or brother? Is it ok for me to stand up for my lesbian friends that are ridiculed or harassed? Because if we are solely to follow scripture and go by the truths we hold as Christians, we would also be condemning women who have been raped or those who have been victims of incest. Personally, I try to leave that to God.
Tara Jeanne, your comment is exactly how I would have written it. Thank you! Love others as Jesus taught us to love, let God be the ultimate Judge. I am no better than anyone on this earth, what gives me the right to judge another human being? When you live with the knowledge that God is the ultimate Judge your life gets a whole lot simpler because you can love a person based on their heart, soul and good intentions.
I am a Christian with gay friends and family members whom I love deeply. I continue and will always continue to love them. Just as my love for my straight friends and relatives is not contingent upon their sin or lack thereof, my love for my homosexual friends/family is also not contingent upon their sin or lack thereof. Of course it biblically okay, acceptable and even encouraged to love them.
Enabling or condoning someone’s sin is a completely different ballgame. If I have a friend who is trapped in alcoholism, it wouldn’t be very godly of me to buy him a gift card to the liquor store and tell him the shortest way to get there; that makes it easier for him and more comfortable for him to give into the temptation.
I liken that to helping establish and/or rooting on the cause of gay marriage. As I said before, I love my gay friends/family; but that doesn’t mean I am going to champion the causes which I think encourage a gay lifestyle. Gay marriage is one of those causes. Am I naive enough to think that a ban on gay marriage makes people not be gay? Absolutely not. However, it is not in keeping with a Biblical worldview to encourage sin. And I can’t think of a much more blatant way to encourage those with homosexual attractions to give into those desires than to make gay marriage a mainstream right. (And I don’t think marriage — heterosexual or homosexual — counts as a “civil right.”)
I feel the exact same way with the exact same issues. I love the sinner and not the sin. Why would I want to give them the ability to sin freely and encourage them to keep on doing it? I love my sister and her girlfriend, but that doesnt mean that I love what they are doing, nor will I commend them for living that lifestyle.
There is nothing loving about condoning, accepting, celebrating, affirming or remaining silent about sinful behavior. That’s the opposite of love.
This was a good thought,but we should love everbody that has a soul.I know what the Bible tells us on this topic , but that dont change the way any body else feels about it.Know this there is only one RIGHT on anything and that is what the Bible tells us ,so let God be true and every man be a liar.
Thank you for this. I’m deeply grateful for this true pointing to Christ. A question for you: What might be some ways Christians could practically take on this posture? What would that look like?
Judge not according to appearance , but judge rightous judgment .Like i said before judgments must be renderd according to the whole word of God,and not merely by taking a part and using it as a way to try to justify what we want to belive.
I think you are asking a good question, Tamara. I’m not good enough to answer definite answers, but I’d like to offer my opinions. We need to find a way to apologize to the gay Christian community for telling them that they can change and if they aren’t then they aren’t good Christians. We don’t do this with any other sin. I don’t expect people who struggle with porn to now find porn unattractive. How we are going to do this and then be able to hold onto the stance that gay sexual activity is sinful, I’m not sure. But we need to start there.
There is no way to have a homosexual Christian community. If you read Romans 1:18-32 God himself says that homosexuality will send someone to hell. If someone struggles with pornography, and refuses to repent and stop looking at it, than by the standard of Romans 8:17 they are a carnal Christian. Which by the test in 1 John means they are not saved. Just because Christ loved all and died for all, does not bring justification to keep breaking His laws. Matthew 5:17 clearly states that Christ came to fulfill the law not abolish it. Christ says very clearly that not everyone who says, “Lord, Lord,” will enter into heaven. If someone is engaging in a same-sex lifestyle, and they refuse to change their ways even after salvation, than according to 1 John they were never saved to begin with. God does not condone any kind of sin no matter what the reason. He will provide mercy and grace but He will also provide the strength to overcome the sin. Same-sex living is a decision, not a biological phenomena. No where in God’s creation do you see males mating with males and females with females. Same-sex living comes as a result of man perversion of God’s perfect world. Do I hate people who engage in a same-sex lifestyle? No, I do not. Do I condone their lifestyle? No, I hate and detest it as much as God hates and detests it. Let me us a little story real quick…
There is a blind man walking straight towards a cliff. You see him and start talking with him. Are you being a good person if you say nothing and let him walk straight off the cliff? If you do, the blood of that person will be on your hands because you said nothing. In the same way, if someone is engaging in a homosexual lifestyle and we say nothing, then when he dies and goes to hell, his blood will be on our hands. It is the same with any sin. If we see a brother struggling, we need to warn him in love. That doesn’t mean go screaming at him that he is going to hell, It means taking him to the Bible and showing him how his lifestyle and actions are in direct violation of God’s laws. The Bible says not to judge, yes, it also says to hold each other accountable to the Word of God. Too many people confuse judging with accountability, and as a result they let people go and flounder in hell because they didn’t want to judge so they said nothing. It is time we got back to God and the Bible, and started applying the wisdom in that book from Genesis to Revelation.
I thank you for your thoughts and I agree that our goal is to always love others and that should be our motivation as Christians. After I read your blog I started thinking about how Christ lived in the scriptures. He did confront the woman at the well, and the Pharisees and the adulteress who they wanted to stone. He confronted the moneychangers in the Temple. Are we not to do this as well because Christ is the
Woops! I accidentally sent it when I wasn’t finished…;)
Is Jesus the only one in the world that can speak the truth because He is the only one who is perfect? I don’t believe so. Christ wants us to imitate Him. But, we can only do this through the Holy Spirit in our heart. I have to be very careful and very sure of what I say if and when The Lord leads me to speak. Love is the encompassing theme as well as living for Christ by being obedient and living as Jesus commands us to. Thanks for letting me share my thoughts.
the question I would ask is the role of repentance in salvation?
I guess that’s not exactly a question, but maybe “what/where is the role of repentance in salvation?” would be the question you are asking?
I think this could be a completely different topic, but I see the connection that you’re making: that it in order for people to receive salvation, they must repent of their sins, and how will they repent from sins if we don’t tell them that they are sinning. Or in other words, if we don’t “take the stance” against homosexuality, we as Christians are not “loving” our brother or sister by not showing them their sin so that they can repent from it and receive salvation. I’m just assuming this is what you are prodding by your comment.
I agree that repentance from sin is key to receiving salvation. But this is why I think it is a different topic – the heart of what this writing was about is that we (as humans) are not to condemn others because of their sin. This doesn’t mean we are accepting of their sin, but when we judge others or condemn others for the sin that is in their lives, even with the intent of pushing them towards salvation, it is not the heart of Jesus. And if we practice this judgment, we are condemning ourselves. It is the kindness of the Lord that leads us to repentance. (This is all in Romans, the end of Ch 1 and beginning of Ch 2)
So yes, repentance is important, but a repentant heart is not accomplished through condemnation. I probably wouldn’t know Christ if this was the method that the Christians that I knew when I was lost used in order to show me my need for Jesus. Because then our need for Jesus becomes more consumed in the fear of sin and death rather than us recognizing His kindness for still giving us life when we didn’t deserve it. He is a great, loving, merciful God, and this should be why we repent from the very things that are separating us from Him.
thank you Will
I certainly think that you’re definitely on to something, Will, but maybe the view on condemning is viewed differently. Maybe as Christians we believe we’re speaking truth while others see it as condemnation. I truly believe that if two people’s position on the topic can be viewed differently, and if both people believe they are right, they are, naturally, going to see the other person as wrong which is where the argument begins. However, when we have homosexuals saying that they are saved through Christ while still living in sin, they think that Christ said that is ok for them which is clearly stated in The Bible as not ok. So, that is why Christians push. Suppose they come to discover Christ and never think that behavior is contrary to a cleansed Christ-filled life. We haven’t achieved Christ’s perfect will in that case. Also, if God’s perfect will was to be homosexuality, it would have been so from the beginning. We can’t take the Bible out of context because we don’t agree with part of it.
Love is the greatest way to convey the true message of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ…this article is a definite reminder of that, thank you for posting…
I am a lesbian . I am secure in my faith . I do wish everyone saw and wanted to represent Christ as absolute love, or at the very least not play God . I feel it does disservice to the wonder, comfort and joy of Christ love. I know , we might see a lot of things differently – but for me- you expressed posture/ position absolutely beautifully. May God lovingly bless and keep you and may you know the comfort of Christ love!
You might be secure in your faith, but faith in whom or what? If a person is following Christ; HE states,”If you love me you will keep my commandments.” Fornication, homosexuality, etc. are not part of the life of a person trying to obey the most high God. It’s God’s way not our way that we are to pursue.
Charlie, I’m thinking our sister is well aware of what God’s word says and has probably studied it in depth more than either of us. I happen to disagree with her, but we need to stop tearing at each other. You didn’t even bother to ask if she is celibate. If she is wrong and truly loves Jesus she will submit to His perfect will someday in this area. Let’s be patient and pray for one another.
Thad, I just want to thank you in the name of Christ, as I truly believe you have captured the essence of His heart on this matter: that we are to love as Christ FIRST…and then with the proper posture of God, that is in a loving and caring manner – point others to Christ so that He can reveal himself, His truth, and His righteousness to them. In that power alone (and not by my own), will God reveal Himself, and – if received in the proper posture – our position will be PAINFULLY obvious, which will bring about reflection, conviction and ultimately transformation from our sinful ways and desires. My own arguments with regard to morality, culture and what is “RIGHT” never have brought about this type of transformation, which is incidentally – the primary purpose of His great and beautiful sacrifice.
I am such a fan of your writing Thad. I was glad to see you write something about this topic because you were able to articulate what I had in my heart but didn’t know how to say.
Please tell me you’re going to write a book some day. You have such a gift.
I must say that it is refreshing to see this. I get so tired of all the hate-speak. It is not my job to care what someone’s sexual orientation is. It is not my job to condemn someone. I couldn’t do it even if I wanted to. Especially people that say it is a part of who they are. It is, however, my job to show the love of God and to preach the good news. I would rather a homosexual came to Christ than try to condemn someone and perchance lose them. Bring them to Christ and then let God impress upon them whether what they are doing is right or wrong. I cannot point out the sliver in someone’s eye when I have a plank in my own.
I think this is well written. I like the “position vs posture” article. It is such a delicate balance. I guess I would ask we do not forget WHY Jesus needed to take the posture he took; because we are sinful people and needed saving. I certainly agree with the “God is love” and “do not judge” talk, but to not give proper recognition of our sinful position really demeans Christ’s sacrifice. God is judge; that means we are not to judge, but it also means a holy God will judge us in the end, and to not give the message “with the correct posture” to those living contrary to God’s Word because “God is love” is also contrary to scripture. What is the balance? It takes someone smarter than me…
So I have a question, if a true apology entails a resolution, and you have to carry out your promise in order for the apology to be sincere and complete because otherwise, your apologies will lose their meaning, and trust may disappear beyond the point of no return and 1 John 1:9 says “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” how then can a person pursuing a relationship of the same sex legitimately ask for forgiveness of their sin and yet still pursue the relationship?
It seems to me it’s the same as every other sin, if you are truly sorry and seek forgiveness from God our Father, you will not continue to preform said sin, or at least take actions to stop.
Am I wrong?
I agree with you, Moosh. I don’t think being attracted to the same sex is, in and of itself, the sin. I believe that ACTING on those attractions is the sin. Therefore, I believe the only way for someone who identifies himself as a homosexual to be truly repentant is to be celibate…and therefore not acting on sinful desires. I could compare it to anger. Anger, in and of itself, is not a sin until you express it inappropriately.
Romans 6:1-2 says: What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?
Therefore, I agree that someone living a homosexual lifestyle and engaging in homosexual relationships (therefore “habitual,” not “mistake”) cannot be truly repentant.
If this is what Christianity looks like, and what the writer of the original post intended, I am glad (and blessed) to call myself a non Christian. No one can judge for anyone else what is sin….. except God. Even Jesus said so, in the book of Matthew, if I remember correctly, chapter 21? oh sheesh, I’ll have to look it up, but verse 19 comes immediately to mind. What if, just suppose, God actually made homosexuals in his own image? and just suppose you are judging God to be sin itself? The only thing Jesus taught was love— and not judging, not fearing, not demanding, not casting stones, but loving….. and loving……. and loving.
Please tell me where within my post I am judging any single person. Yes, I am judging actions. However, when read in context, the Bible encourages judgment and discernment…of SIN, not of PEOPLE. All scripture must be applied in context.
God’s Word clearly defines many, many sins. I’m not creating definitions; I’m simply going by God’s guidebook. If we don’t dive into God’s Word and gain an understanding of what IS and what IS NOT sin, then we cannot effectively live our lives in a way that is free from sin…nor can we counsel others and help build them up in Christ.
I am speaking to you as if you are a Christian, which I believe you claimed. Christ did not lecture on sin: he taught in parables, and left it to each individual to determine his relationship with God, through the same posturing I believe the original blog writer was referring. Now, your ‘guidebook’ notwithstanding, if you want to have a discussion based on Jesus’ teachings, we can, and I will, gladly. Otherwise we have nothing to discuss, as you clearly were offended about my judgment comment and ignored where I suggested giving God, the creator, the benefit of any doubt.
Cara, God ABSOLUTELY made homosexuals in his own image! He made me too, and while not all my desires and actions are Godly, it does no negate my value as someone made in the image of God.
I am not offended by your post. If we believe the Bible, there is no need to give God “the benefit of the doubt” in the matters where He clearly has given instruction. God’s intent is not to have us guessing what is acceptable in his sight and what is not, which is why he gave us his Word.
As for Jesus, he most certainly addressed and confronted sin, both in his parables and direct conversations. Maybe “lecture” isn’t what he did, but neither is that what I am doing. My post here was simply in answer to the original theological questions Moosh posed. I assume that Moosh is a Christian. My response was to help clarify his thoughts on the subject from a Biblical perspective. I am sorry if, in doing so, I offended you. That was not my intent.
I actually don’t believe the bible, except the gospels, because I do believe the Christ when he said he came to fulfill the law. I can think of no instance when he called anyone out for their sin, other than the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the money lenders….. hm, I sense a theme here. Oh wait, the rich young man, who was so wealthy he longed for his wealth over the joy of giving unto others and being immersed in God love. That kind of richness he detests, I believe, whether it’s in personal possessions, job, image, or (this one is the real litmus test), knowledge of God, sin, and his will and plan for others. That we do this repeatedly, while blithely ignoring our own shortcomings and failures, is why so called Christianity has a bad rap with me and many others, and leaves a bad taste in my mouth. He did also address the unforgivable sin, that against the holy spirit. and it’s that spirit that tells me, as he told Peter something like: get thee behind me….. you are too focused on the things of this world and not on the kingdom of God.
I find it interesting that you believe the Gospels, but not the rest of the Bible. How did you come to this belief? How do you reconcile passages within the Gospels which quote or rely heavily on Old Testament passages? (Not sarcastic, not condescending…simply, genuinely curious.)
Jesus confronted sin. Everyone Jesus encountered was a sinner, since he is the only one to ever walk the earth who did not sin. One great example is in John 4 when he spoke to the Samaritan woman at the well. He pointed out that she didn’t have a husband…that she, in fact, had five husbands…and that she was living with a man who wasn’t her husband. He also pointed out that she was worshiping inappropriately. He did it through conversation.
He also pointed out sins in each of his Disciple’s lives. The Gospels are full of examples of people encountering Jesus, feeling convicted and turning from their sins.
I am absolutely not claiming to be perfect. I am not claiming I do not sin. I am not claiming I am better than anyone else. There are certain areas of my life where I struggle more than others. And my sin is no worse or better than anyone else’s; I am just fortunate that it has been forgiven through my profession of faith in Jesus. The Bible clearly addresses (in Luke 6) that we should examine ourselves first and that we must acknowledge our shortcomings and our sins before helping others to see theirs. I love that God expects us to be a community and help each other build one another up to become closer to Christ. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean it’s always easy or without confrontation.
I think you missed the entire point of John4. In verse 25 she sates, “I know the Messiah will come, and when he comes, will tell us everything.” I think he told her these things to prove he was the Messiah, based on her place of faith and belief.
As for calling out his disciples for their sin, you haven’t given examples, so I can’t address that. You’ll have to enlighten me.
I can tell you the bible is full of wonderful stories, horrors unimaginable, and huge contradictions to what we know is proper, just, and morally right today. I believe in the gospels because I have studied them extensively, and can recommend Emmet Fox’s Sermon on the Mount, CS Lewis’s Mere Christianity, and anything and everything by Oswald Chambers, if your interested in some of where and how I came to my current understanding and belief.
You claim you struggle and still have sin in your life, but want and expect the gay population to turn from their ‘sin’ in full repentance in order to be freed from your condemnation of them. Yet you say no sin is greater than any other? Do you see where I’m confused? Do you see how incredibly arrogant such a position is?
I hope you will come to love your gay brothers and sisters as much as you love yourself. That is the second greatest commandment, the one Jesus gave us, you remember? Such a love would not deny any individual human being the same rights you enjoy freely and take for granted no matter their sexual orientation, religious affiliation, skin color, whatever your particular bias is. The greatest commandment, to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind, leaves no room for condemnation. If we do these two things, jus these two, we’re too busy loving, helping, growing, being grateful, taking care (of ourselves and one another) to have the energy for anything else……
You asked for an example where Jesus confronts sin. I’m not claiming that is the overriding point of that passage.
Of course there is still sin in my life. All Christians still struggle with sin. Romans 7:7 through 8:17 addresses this well. The difference in the example you speak of is that I desire to and actively seek to repent of my sin and ask for forgiveness. I do not struggle with a habitual, entrapping sin. I apologize if I gave that impression.
I do have many gay friends and family members whom I love. I’ve copied and pasted (beginning next paragraph) what I wrote in response to another comment on here, rather than re-explaining it. I hope this helps clear up my love for my gay friends/family and how it is separate from my feelings about sin. This will be the last post from me, as I now feel that the conversation is turning from theology and Biblical citation/explanation to personal jabs and assumptions about my character, to which I will not respond. Thank you for the prior discourse. I hope you have a good evening.
“I am a Christian with gay friends and family members whom I love deeply. I continue and will always continue to love them. Just as my love for my straight friends and relatives is not contingent upon their sin or lack thereof, my love for my homosexual friends/family is also not contingent upon their sin or lack thereof. Of course it biblically okay, acceptable and even encouraged to love them.
Enabling or condoning someone’s sin is a completely different ballgame. If I have a friend who is trapped in alcoholism, it wouldn’t be very godly of me to buy him a gift card to the liquor store and tell him the shortest way to get there; that makes it easier for him and more comfortable for him to give into the temptation.
I liken that to helping establish and/or rooting on the cause of gay marriage. As I said before, I love my gay friends/family; but that doesn’t mean I am going to champion the causes which I think encourage a gay lifestyle. Gay marriage is one of those causes. Am I naive enough to think that a ban on gay marriage makes people not be gay? Absolutely not. However, it is not in keeping with a Biblical worldview to encourage sin. And I can’t think of a much more blatant way to encourage those with homosexual attractions to give into those desires than to make gay marriage a mainstream right. (And I don’t think marriage — heterosexual or homosexual — counts as a “civil right.”)”
Wow, well said, and supporting it is supporting that view that we condone their actions.
Jesus actually did say “go and sin no more” to people after defending them. Go and sin no more shows that there is sin and that we should refrain from it. If homosexuality is a sin, then what should we do with that statement. I feel like I have studied the language of 1 Timothy and Romans to believe that homosexuality is a sin and you can’t just write it off. However, I desire to be loving and as inclusive as possible. I don’t want to judge homosexuality. I don’t want to judge anyone – whether on divorce or adultery or stealing or lying or dishonoring parents. But blatant disregard for sin seems to be wrong. I’m open to growth and discussion.
Andy Comiskey,a former homosexual, and his organization, puts it better than I can. Your article and your soft approach is the other end of the pendulum from the hateful, hypocritical, fleshly fundamentalist. I agree with the one comment above where the woman caught in adultery was told by Jesus to go and sin no more and that Jesus is a confrontational Savior.
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you lost me in the posture thing. Explain that better. I know that living a gay life is not what God wants but I also know that only he can judge them. Should we be friends with them, yes, but don’t condone what they do. Make sure they know your position and if your friendship remains in tact then you have done your part, now let God do his, and who are we to question if God will or not.
Thank you Thad for tackling this controversial subject. Your communication skills are obviously a wonderful blessing, and the other signifant wonder to me is that you “get it!” For me, I choose love as my response and when it feels right, I take that as my confirmation. Keep up the good work.
I’m moved, it’s beautiful, and I whole-heartedly agree, Thad.
I think your advice on posture is badly needed. But you didn’t address part of this issue–and that is the role of the Christian in the world. So often when pointing out sinful behavior we’re reminded “judge not, lest ye be judged.” And usually the reminder is well placed.
But as Christians, living in a very fallen world, are we to abstain from any role to influence man’s laws, especially as they conflict with God’s desires? When a country enthusiastically embraces depravity in the name of equality, are we to remain quiet, for fear of having the wrong posture? These aren’t rhetorical questions.
I think those questions are often at the heart of why so many ask you what “side of gay marriage” you’re on.
Great work Thad! This is a great perspective and very helpful in truly creating reconciliation with people that are different than us and think differently than us. It’s ironic and honestly surprising that people can read something so beautiful and then forget by the time they begin to write a comment. Positioning and posturing are super important theological concepts and images that can help us follow Jesus. Very good and specific reminder and application of that. Thanks so much! You rock! =)
Reblogged this on reylo: thoughts from the journey and commented:
This is worth five minutes of your time to read. Peace!
That’s pretty darn good dude.
Well said. A friend shared this on Facebook. He’s somebody I trust and had your post been shared by anybody else, I might not have read it.
It is perfectly ok to love people, but it’s not ok to condone morally wrong behavior. That is where I think the line gets blurred. If we don’t stand for something, we’ll fall for anything. To say I agree with a lifestyle that is not pure and holy is condoning sinful behavior. That being said, we still love everyone, but do we give into tantrums of children. Why should this be any different? Think if it is such a hot topic, it’s because this behavior is becoming a stumbling block for people and Christians are becoming conformists instead of taking more of a moral stand because they are afraid of offending the gay population. Are we doing this out of popularity? What reason do people have to back an issue that they don’t have any personal accountability if they, themselves, are not living that lifestyle? It is not your fight to fight. It is the person who has made the choice to live this way. Let them deal with it on their own, and abstain from getting involved. When it starts affecting people like that one story of that older man fondling a younger man in a Nashville, TN YMCA locker room, then I think it already has gotten out-of-hand. Imagine that spreading like wildfire. That is the point I think is the concern of non- gay pro-heterosexual Christians.
I don’t believe the writer of this post was condoning homosexuality or saying that homosexuality is not sin. I also don’t think he wrote what he wrote because he’s “afraid of offending the gay population”. And maybe we just have different interpretations of what he wrote. But this is what I think he meant:
Consider Jesus with the woman who commuted adultery who was brought before him (John 8). The Pharisees wanted to see if Jesus would stone her for her sin. But nobody stoned her when Jesus told them to do it if they have never sinned. I think the important part is his response to the woman afterwards. He asked, “Where is everyone? Has no one condemned you?” She said no, and his response was “Neither do I. Now go and sin no more.”
Was Jesus then condoning her adultery? No – he told her to go and sin no more. But it’s important that he said this after he revealed to her that he did not condemn her. It would have been a completely different story if Jesus came to her afterwards and said, “Nobody stoned you, but do you recognize that you’re in the wrong for committing adultery? I do not condone this behavior. But if you are sorry for what you have done, then I will not condemn you.”
She never acknowledged her sin, didn’t repent from it, and we will never know of her salvation. But it’s very possible that His kindness brought her to a true repentant heart where she stopped her ways. Is it realistic to believe that from that day she completely stopped sinning? No. But I’m sure she fell in love with a Jesus who saved her life, and will live in a way that leads to eternal life, possibly continuing to repent from sins later committed. This is what I do as a believer in Christ.
I think this is His heart – if He had looked upon us and said, I will not stand for this “morally wrong behavior”, I’m not sure He would’ve sent Jesus at all. Does that mean that God is condoning that behavior by sending Jesus as our savior?
I don’t think God is condoning any of our morally wrong behaviors. And even calling it “morally wrong” – is it morally wrong to hate God? No. But is it sin? Yes. Will I condemn someone who hates God? No. I will try my best to show them how Jesus loves them and hope that His kindness will lead them to repentance.
Thanks for share from the heart. Well done.
I got chills reading this. It rings true and gives us a good gut-punch where we need it. My favorite line was “But the heart of the good news is God’s posture toward us as we continue to break things, including ourselves.” I linked to it in a recent post “4 Ways Christians Can Cope With Gay Marriage.” Thank you for helping encourage people towards a loving unified church. I don’t know how to get all of that done. But these and other posts like it feel like a step in the right direction.
Yes we all do sin, but if you are committing a sin and know you are doing so, and you keep doing it, then you are in trouble with getting to heaven. The Bible clearly states that man shall not lie by man.
Awesome! Thank you for sharing such a compassionate view.
Reblogged this on Zombie Muse and commented:
Love this…totally worth the read!
Loved this! Thank you for posting.
So many opinions and thoughts and positions and postures…becoming more and more muddied to me. For now I have decided to read Scripture for myself and trust the Holy Spirit to reveal the Son’s posture regarding the Father’s position. Those 3 have been together a lot longer than anyone else writing on this stuff and after all They are my all knowing Creator, Savior, and Comforter. Oh and I will indulge in Christopher Yuan’s thoughts on occasion. I consider him albeit imperfectly to know what is taking about:)
God did not give us the Law to condemn us but he did give it to us to let us know we were sinners
Quit trying to tip toe thru the tulips…. God said homosexuality is a sin and shameful right along with a bunch of other sins….
he forgives gives us and cleanses us from all sin when we repent, agree with him and go the other direction…..the Bible is full of prophets that stood up and let people know they were out of line…..John the Baptist for one…..who spoke up about sexual sin and was beheaded. Just because I believe what God says about this sin does not mean that I am condemning anyone or not loving them….just the opposite is true….
I actually like the perspective you have presented Thad, but I wonder, is it because I am looking for validation for a different lifestyle choice than homosexuality?
Here is the trouble I see with those in church who are running with the gay marriage issue. Why won’t you accept me and my girlfriend who are living together (and not married) when you are so happy that the “rights” of sinners are now protected?
It is a serious question and I am puzzled how if I married my “love” who happened to be a man, some of you may actually celebrate me.
While as a heterosexual man choosing to live with a woman rather than get married, most would be happy for me to “visit” your church, but the happiness would end if I wanted to participate in leadership classes or get further involved.
Tell me honestly what you would say if a true believer who is gifted with a track record of seeing God things happen approached you to get involved in your church … The answer for all but the most liberal churches would be to say that due to my lifestyle choices I am “welcomed but not fit to serve at this time”. (And by the way, I completely agree with this response)
So how do you reconcile this clear case of pluralism?
Since I know the simpleton argument of “Gods love for people and the churches call to justice” will be used, you can’t use it because I am a person too and I’ve chosen to live a sinful life just as the homosexual.
Furthermore, the response may be that we too wouldn’t allow a homosexual to be in leadership, but WAIT! They are now legally married and would argue justifiably that you are discriminating by letting a heterosexual couple in leadership and not a homosexual.
So is it possible in trying to be loving and accepting that you will be forced to open your belief system to the point that you accept all sin?
My personal trouble with how the church is taking on the gay marriage issue is that they are not being honest about what it really means to be celebrating this new “right”.
But then again if you do accept all sin, perhaps I can finally be welcomed to participate in the way I’d like to right alongside the homosexual couple who is the new worship leader or small group pastoral team or perhaps even youth leaders…
Jesus came to save us from our sins….. The world’s reply is “Sin?! What sin? How dare you judge me?”
All I can say is thank you for this piece. You have put into better words, what I have been trying to say all along to many of my friends. I’ve been told may vitriolic things from supposed Christians when I told them this in my own words. It’s nice to see that I’m not the only one that feels like this. I firmly my position on this earth is to show God’s love through Christ. The Law condemns us all, and Christ can redeem us all. It is our position to show the path through Him, even when we disagree with people.
I enjoyed this take. There is indeed a significant difference between position and posture, and therein lies my own struggle as a pastor in Waco (not to far from you, it turns out) – to help the people to whom I minister see this difference. Thanks for the clarity.
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The thing is, Thad, that today’s modern day pharisees are the ones that are self righteous in their sin. They are for the most part not broken about it.
Jesus had lots of harsh things to say to pharisees, the moral ones and the IMmoral ones. And yes, they crucified him. As they will try to do to us.
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I never knew how to say this…but it has always been on my heart that we are forgetting about God’s sacrifice for ALL of us. I’ve wonder if we look like we run around fussing and God is asking if HIS Son wasn’t enough. Thank you for reminding us to show love and grace, I will refer to this often!
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