Proposition 8 Overturned – Love the Person, Hate the Sin

It’s funny.  During election time, we get bombarded by ads explaining the history of the candidates we look to elect.  We see what they did, what they said, and what they wrote.  It’s the same thing when people are picked to sit on the Supreme Court; their entire life history is rolled out before the public and scrutinized.  I’ve always had mixed feelings about the way a political figure is portrayed, especially through the attack ads and media, because I know that things in a persons past can be an indication of what that person is like, but it also can be an indication of what that person was like.  I think this difference has become more important to me now than it has in the past, especially when thinking about the history of California’s Proposition 8.

As I’m sure everyone is aware, Proposition 8 was voted on, and approved, by a majority of people in California.  It created an amendment to the state constitution defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman.  Last week a Federal judge, Vaughn Walker, overturned the proposition.  It is being appealed.

Scripture tells us that homosexuality is a sin, and as such I should be opposed to it.  That’s all fine and well, but Scripture also tells me to love my neighbor.  That’s all fine and well, too.  But what happens when my neighbor practices homosexuality?  Well, that’s easy, too: “Love the person, hate the sin.”

For a Christian, it should be easy to separate the sin from the sinner, but not everyone is a Christian.  On top of that, there are those who believe themselves to be Christian, but are not. As a result, an us versus them mentality between the “pro-gay” movement and the “anti-gay” movement has developed.  In this mentality, Christians have been labeled as discriminatory, hateful, bigoted, etc.  While there are those who, unfortunately, fit these labels, semantics have played a large part in this perceived hatred.

The Christian sees human beings as Children of God.  It doesn’t matter whether they practice homosexuality, heterosexuality, baseball, football, whatever… We are not defined by the actions we partake in on this Earth.  We see people as people, or at least we should.  Non-Christians seem less inclined to make this distinction.  People are defined by what they do, and how they live.  People define themselves, so that they are not merely a member of the human race, but they are part of a particular group in the human race, i.e., gay, straight, black, white.  There are even those that think some of these groups are inferior to others, but I don’t think I need to pursue that.

My point is that Christians have not been painted as anti-gay, but as anti-gay-people.  Again, there are Christians that fit that description, but real Christians should not be against gay people, but against homosexual acts.  Quite frankly, Christians should be against any sexual action that takes place outside a marriage approved by God (one man, one woman).  Yes, this includes heterosexual sex!

So, I’m bothered by the fact that so many people picture Christians as hateful.

But I love my neighbor!  How can I be hateful?  Another teaching from Scripture says that we are supposed to be in the world, but not of the world.  Can it be that we have become too involved in the world?  I try to look at everything from a balanced point of view, and it seems to me that while we have to be part of the world in order to interact with others, it is possible to become too involved.  I think this is exactly what has happened, and the result is an inaccurate picture of hate.

Which brings me back to where I started.  There was a time when I was dead set against gay marriage anywhere in the U.S., and the world for that matter.  God has declared homosexuality a sin, and that’s that.  And while that is it, I have to remind myself that I can’t make people be, or even act like Christians.  God could, but He doesn’t.  Why should I?

Judge Walker wrote:

Marriage in the United States has always been a civil matter.  Civil authorities may permit religious leaders to solemnize marriages but not to determine who may enter or leave a civil marriage.  Religious leaders may determine independently whether to recognize a civil marriage or divorce but that recognition or lack thereof has no effect on the relationship under state law.

Did you catch that?  Churches don’t have to recognize civil marriages, just as many churches don’t recognize civil divorces.  Currently, the Catholic Church requires an annulment before an individual can be remarried–just because the law says a divorce is final, does not make it so in the eyes of the church.  Why should marriage be any different?

Only God has the power to change people; all I can do is travel the path He puts me on and plant seeds.  It’s up to Him to make them grow.  It’s time to step back, and let those who want to live in sin, live in sin.  It won’t change the fact that just because it’s legal, doesn’t make it right, and we can only pray that one day, no one will take advantage of that particular “right.”  More importantly, we need to start acting like neighbors instead enemies.

NOTE: Judge Walker’s ruling can be found at Scribd.

Related Posts:

Dolphins Should Be Treated As ‘Non-human Persons’

Scientists say dolphins should be treated as ‘non-human persons

This article popped up on the Times Online website. I couldn’t believe what I read. The article states, “The researchers argue that their work shows it is morally unacceptable to keep such intelligent animals in amusement parks or to kill them for food or by accident when fishing.” Are you kidding me? Morally unacceptable?

What is morally unacceptable is that human beings want to give dolphins person status, while refusing the same status to unborn actual humans. If these people had their way, dolphins would have more human rights those those unborn humans slaughtered at will in abortion clinics.

Related Posts:

Can Your Truth Be Your Own?

Everybody believes in the truth. Christians say what they believe is true. Muslims say what they believe is true. Atheist say what they believe is true. Can they all be right? Maybe they are all wrong. Is truth subjective? Can truth really mean whatever you want it to mean?

Obviously, the idea that everyone has their own truth is absurd. Everyone may have their own belief, but only one can actually be true. If there is no God, then Atheism is true, and all religions of the world are false. If there is a God, then Atheism is false, and at least one of the world religions has to be true.

But that’s the trick; separating belief from reality. It’s no problem believing things that aren’t true, especially if it makes us feel good.

So you have to ask yourself, if what you believe is true. Your first thought will be, yes, of course. No one wants to admit they are wrong. But someone has to be wrong. Have you thought about what you believe? And why?

What of Hitler? What of his beliefs? Should we have let him be, simply because he believed that his was right; his beliefs were true?

Do you believe science? How about this headline? Mummies reveal heart disease plagued ancient Egyptians.

A study done of 22 mummies revealed that heart disease plagued ancient Egyptians. Plagued? This study may show that heart disease existed then, but it certainly doesn’t show that it plagued society. Only the rich and famous, the rulers, were mummified. We are talking about a very small cross section of the ancient Egyptians. They are certainly not a indicator of society as a whole. But the media ran with this, and how many people across the country, and maybe the world, now believe that heart disease plagued the ancient Egyptians. So, do you still think science is fully trustworthy?

If science has published results, such as this, incorrectly, or in a misleading way, what else have they published? I’m sure a lot of their findings are correct, particularly with modern, observable, science, but it is the speculative assumptions that worry me. Evolution, anyone?

Can your truth be your own? Only if it really is true.

Jesus said to him, I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (ESV, John 14:6)

Related Posts:

Say No To Unity

Do we really want a President looking for unity? I don’t. We would need a President looking to make everybody happy, and I don’t think that would make an effective president. He would have to be a “flip-flopper.” No President will be able to “unify” this country. Any President that says he will, is fooling himself, and the people. There are 304+ million people in this country which means there are 304+ million views of the world.

If we look at the population through a liberal vs. conservative lens, you will see a middle ground that shifts from year to year, a “far left,” and a “far right.” For the sake of ease, I’ll call those in the middle ground swing voters. They can vote conservative or liberal based on the prevailing wind, and are probably more open to more compromise, and “unity.” Those outside of that middle ground, whether left or right, will not compromise and the elected President will divide this country down one side of the middle or the other. If the President is conservative, he will divide along the liberal line. If the President is liberal, he will divide along the conservative line.

It’s funny how the media and liberals look at President Bush as a divisive President, and seem to think that a Democratic President could unify this country. They are sadly mistaken. The only unity that will take place is a unity between the liberals on the left with a liberal President’s values. This country will then be divided down the other side as those with conservative views will be divided just as sharply from the President as the liberals now feel. Simply put, the groups of people that feel alienated by President Bush will be replaced by a group of people who feel alienated by President “Democrat,” whoever that may be.

The only way unity can be achieved is for Americans to have a change of heart, not of President. The President cannot change people’s hearts, only God can.

For a true change of heart, we need to follow, and vote, in line with the values taught by God’s Word, not our own selfish values. This goes for conservatives as well as liberals. There are many conservatives who consider themselves to be voting by God’s Word, when in reality they are voting for their own personal reasons. I believe that if everyone voted based on God’s Word, neither a Republican or Democrat would be elected, but a third party candidate who reflected those same values. Even then, there would be unhappy people, but until Jesus returns, that would be the closest to unity this country would ever get.

Your Sin Is Not My Sin (Romans, Chapter 14)

I’ve been taking college Bible classes for a few months now, and recently had an interesting discussion that started out on the topic of whether church leaders should drink alcohol or not. Most felt that it would look bad for a leader to partake despite that fact that alcohol is used freely in the Bible, and a strong argument can be made for its encouragement.

Their scriptural support came from one particular verse: Romans 14:20. If we look at Romans, Chapter 14, as a whole we find a much bigger message. A message that deals with more than just drinking or eating meat sacrificed to idols. Don’t get me wrong, freedom in Christ does not give one the green light on everything, but there are many things not spoken of in the Bible that we must make decide for ourselves. This is an excerpt of my final post regarding the topic.

I’ll be honest, I don’t know what a modern day Templar Knight is, but it doesn’t matter. I can make a strong case, Biblically, for drinking wine, but cannot say the same for a fraternity. This makes it a perfect example of an opinion as described in Rom 14:1.

First, Romans 14:20, “it is wrong for anyone to make another stumble by what he eats” is being used out of context. Once this verse is placed back into the entire chapter and read as a whole, we find that food, wine, and days of worship are being used as examples.

One person esteems one day as better than another, while another esteems all days alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. The one who observes the day, observes it in honor of the Lord. The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God. (Rom 14:12-13)

John, you felt that your pursuit of God, and the fraternity did not conflict with each other, and you felt secure in your faith with that decision. If you had not given it up, would it have caused others to stumble, or question, in their faith, or would they merely have been upset with you? Rom 14:4 asks, “Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another?” The friction you received was from those who not only passed judgment on you, but put a stumbling block in the way of your faith. Their prejudice caused you to question what you approve. Romans 14:16 says, “So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil.”

My Grandmother-In-Law (if there is such a title), gave up chocolate during WWII. I guess it was a sacrifice made to help bring the war to an end. She is strong in her faith, and continues to abstain. She doesn’t care if people eat chocolate in front of her as she is not tempted by it. If, however, she were tempted then it would be wrong of me or anyone else to eat chocolate in front of her, as it may cause her to stumble. That does not mean I should always abstain from chocolate, only around her.

The difference between these two situations is faith. She gave up chocolate, because it was a personal choice that was made in faith, and she intends to keep that faith. You gave up the fraternity, through prayer and faith, but only after you were made to stumble by those who judged you. I can extend this to the use of alcohol by saying that I would abstain from drinking around others who may be tempted to join in, even though it is wrong for them, and not for me.

I want to ask you a question, but I want it clear that I am not asking you to change your sacrifice, as that is a choice you have made and are comfortable with. What if someone joined your church who is not in a position of leadership, but is a member of the same fraternity you belonged to? What if they started receiving friction from those who are prejudice against the fraternity. You stated that you did not feel it was in contradiction with God, so when the new member and the other members come to you, what do you say? Do you relate to the new member your personal sacrifice? As a leader, trying to live by example, you may give the impression that this is the path the new member should take.

If the new member follows your lead, we must ask why? Did he/she make this choice out of prayer and faith through God. If this is the case, then he/she will be happy with their decision. If not?

And what of those who are prejudice? They are once more “victorious” in their pursuit, giving them more ammunition for further judgments against others, more fodder for them to boast, and further validation of their “righteousness.”

What if the new member decides that they are not going to leave the fraternity? He or she may become disillusioned with your church if the pursuit of those who are prejudice persists. In this case he or she may leave for another church, or leave the church entirely, speaking ill of your church or Christianity as a whole. Those who are prejudice will probably be angry at his or her decision to stay, causing a rift in your church until the “offender” leaves.

As you can see, it is not as simple as just having a beer. If I were always in the presence of someone who may be tempted by my actions, I would give it up, but the reality is that there is a bigger problem in the church that needs to be addressed. That is the holier than thou attitude, that some pass on to others. The judgment made that you are not as strong in your faith, or a “baby Christian” because you partake in something that others find “sinful.” This is a disease that has worked its way into Christ’s Church and has created thousands of splinter churches, each with its own beliefs, and its own holier than other churches mentality. It’s a problem not only between denominations, but between churches of the same denomination, or non-denomination, down the road from each other.

It needs to end, and church leaders need to “take a stand.” We need to explain to people, that your sin is not necessarily my sin, or your brothers or sisters sin. It may be wrong for a church leader to ever drink, if he or she is working with a group of alcoholics, but it is a situation that that leader would have to determine for his or her self. We as leaders can not sit back and say, “that person is not setting a good example.” Really? “Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another?”

As leaders we need to dismantle the judgment of others. If a new member came to your church, and the friction between that member and those who are prejudice came before you, how would you handle it?

Based on the teaching of Romans 14, I would tell the new member that they must pray for guidance , clarity, and confidence in the decision they make. It is not a decision for me to make. I would also point out the error in the ways of those who are prejudice in their judgment of others, and ask them to refrain. I may lose some members of the church this way, but I would rather lose members by pointing out the truth in God’s Word. Romans 14:19 says, “So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.” This can only be done if we pursue peace through faith. If those causing trouble leave, I would seriously wonder where their faith really stands. The truth in God’s Word does not appeal to all.

Let us not drive the wedge further into Christ’s church.

Related Posts: