Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Truth About Loving Thy Neighbor

What does it mean to love your neighbor?  I ask because there has been a lot of talk this past week about "love."  Many people respond to the Christian opposition to homosexual marriage with the call of Jesus to "love thy neighbor."  Jesus did command us to love others, but those who write such things are writing out of ignorance.  Jesus did say that and He did mean it, but to understand it, we must put it in in its proper context.  Here is the complete Scripture:
Jesus answered him, "The first of all the commandments [is]: 'Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one. 'And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' This [is] the first commandment.  And the second, like [it, is] this: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these." Mark 12:29-31 NKJV
You can not understand the command to love our neighbors without the first command.  The first command is "you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength." and the second command must be expressed in the context of the first command.  Loving your neighbor is an expression of loving God.  You can not love your neighbor outside of the context of your love for God.  To do so, is not love at all since God is the only source of true love.  So how does this apply to gay marriage?  I mean it seems more loving to show your love for them by allowing them to get married.  It also seems more loving to just accept their relationship and encourage it.  It seems more loving to celebrate their "love."  That is, of course, when you do not take into account the first command.  If you love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, you can never be in favor of gay marriage and you would never condone or support a homosexual relationship. 

The first reason this does not work is that there can be no such thing as homosexual "love," at least not in how God defines love.  Scripture is clear that homosexuality is a sin and Scripture is clear that God hates sin.  If you truly love God, you can not and would not apply that love in a relationship that is an offense to Him.  Homosexuals can not feel true love for one another because God is the originator of true love and God hates homosexuality.  To claim that homosexuals have any kind of godly love is a complete denial of how God defines love in Scripture.  That said, a Christian also can not celebrate homosexual love.  How can you say that you love God with all that you are, but then celebrate something that is an abomination to Him?  That would be like saying that you love God, but celebrate alcoholism, pornography, or any other kind of sin.  You can not love God and love sin.  You either love God and hate sin or you hate God and love sin. 

The other reason is that we are not just called to love our neighbor, but to love our neighbor as we do our selves.  This is something easy to misunderstand if you are not a Christian.  Again, it may seem loving to just accept them and allow them to marry.  I mean if I was in love with someone, I certainly would not want someone to come against it.  Again, though, we must understand this command in the context of Christianity.  As a Christian, there is nothing more important than the saving of unsaved souls.  If I was in a relationship or living a life that was bound for Hell, what would be loving to me?  Would it be loving for someone to hold my hand and pat my back all the way into Hell or would it be more loving for someone to tell me how to avoid Hell?  Obviously, the latter.  Unfortunately, people do not want to hear the truth, people just want to live in a delusion that their chosen path in life is not bound for Hell.  People want their life as they want it and they want God to bless it.  That is not reality.  The reality is that homosexuality is a sin and to normalize and accept that sin only serves to allow people to think what they are doing is just fine with God.  It may seem unloving to disapprove of their lifestyle, but the fact is that sharing with them the truth no matter what may come of us is the most loving thing that we can do. 

I must address one more point before I close.  There are some in the church who are hateful towards homosexuals.  Those are just as wicked and guilty of those who accept their lifestyle.  I am speaking of those who have signs and protest where they claim God's hatred for homosexuals.  That is not true.  God does not hate homosexuals. God sent His son to die for that sin just as much as He sent His Son to die for any other sin.  God loves homosexuals so much that He sent His son to die for them just as much as He sent His Son to die for you.  While it is true that God hates homosexuality, we must also realize that God also hates lying, drunkenness, disrespect to parents, murder, cheating, and any other sin.  Does God also then hate liars, drunks, disrespectful children, murderers, and cheaters?  If that is true then God hates all of us.  Thankfully it is not and we found grace and forgiveness at the Cross of Jesus Christ and it is for us to share that same message with those who are caught up in any sin.  I also do not agree that homosexuals deserve to be bullied or abused by anyone, especially Christians.  Even if they attack us (which they do), our call is to love our enemy and turn the other cheek.  It is for us to love and forgive not to retaliate and certainly not to instigate.  If you call yourself a Christian and you are involved in insults, name-calling, or any kind of violence against homosexuals then you are just as much as an offense to the Cross.  In fact, you are more offensive to the Cross because what you do you do in the name of the Cross.  Moses was barred from the Promised Land for misrepresenting God, understand that as a warning to yourself. 

In the end, you can not claim you love God and be in favor of homosexual marriage.  They are mutually exclusive.  If you love God, you will never be in favor of sin.  Furthermore, if you love God then you can not condone homosexuality on any level.  You are perpetuating the illusion that what they have is of God and what they do is pleasing to God.  What you are doing is allowing them to sin themselves right into Hell out of what you think is "love."   If you take any of those positions, then how can you say that you love God when you are living in willing disobedience to His word?  Do you think you know better than God?  I ask because that is what you are saying when you disagree with Him. 

Brothers and sisters, take a stand for righteousness.  Do so in love, but do not back down.  You will be called all sorts of vile names.  You will be ostracized by a society that is increasingly rejecting God.  You will be hated by the very ones you are trying to reach out to.  The world loves darkness and hates the light.  The world loves its sin and does not want to hear anything different.  The world does not want truth, it wants to make up its own truth.  Ultimately, God will judge the world for its sin and arrogance.  For now, it is for us to lead as many who will follow to the Cross.  Some will be saved by the outpouring of the love of Jesus and others will be saved out of fear of judgement.  Share the love of Jesus, but also share the truth.  Sure we will be rejected by many, but even if for just one more saved soul, it is all worth it.
Blessed [are] those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great [is] your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.  Matthew 5:10-12 NKJV

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