Sunday, May 28, 2017

Love Wins and Jesus

The Christian Mommy Blogger is back in the news again. Glennon Doyle Melton isn’t making the current headlines because her husband cheated on her, she divorced him, or because she then began to date former Olympic female soccer player Abby Wambach. No. This time, she’s causing a stir in Christian communities because she married Abby Wambach.

Though these actions are becoming more and more common in today’s moral climate, biblically speaking, they are not normal. They are not the way God intended for us to interact with each other.

Melton, however sees things differently.

She wrote in a 2013 post, “I know my Jesus, I love Him, and I think if he needed me to believe that homosexuality was a sin, He would have mentioned it. … And even the Gospels… well, even though they are gospel to me, I accept that they are also interpretations of what Jesus said and did and meant -we don’t have a single written word directly from Jesus. He could have left us something – he could have left another list of rights and wrongs when He came to Earth, but he chose not to.”

Notice a couple of things about these statements. First, in these words we see humanity’s propensity to fashion a god in our own image. Melton’s Jesus is obviously okay with homosexuality because, to Melton, her Jesus must explicitly state the things he is for or against. And, according to that stance, Melton’s Jesus must be okay with the rape of minors because her Jesus doesn’t explicitly say, “Thou shalt not rape minors.”

Next, Melton’s view of the Scriptures is not surprising. She claims that the simple words of Christ are not even His words; they are only interpretations of Jesus’ actual words made by His disciples. Following her train of logic, we would then be free to appeal to the authority of our feelings when interpreting these supposed interpretations of Jesus, which Melton has a clear propensity to do.

However, the words of Jesus in the New Testament are not merely the interpretations of His disciples, and Jesus absolutely spoke out against all sexual sin, including homosexuality.

For instance, in Matthew 5, Jesus said He didn’t come to abolish the Torah but to fulfill it. In other words, Jesus meant that He came to interpret the Law correctly so that it can be lived correctly. And, in the gospels we see Him both affirm and amplify the sexual morals of the Torah.

Second, in Matthew 15, Jesus expressly declared that all sexual acts committed outside of marriage defile human beings. The term He uses is porneia, which is a general reference to the sexually forbidden behaviors listed in Leviticus 18.

Paul fuses together two words from the Greek translation of Leviticus 18:22, also known as the Septuagint, to coin the term homosexual in his first letter to the Corinthians. Arsenokoitai is actually a combination of the two words, Arsenos and Koiten, which roughly translate as man-bedder. Here in 1 Corinthians 6, Paul echoes Jesus’ words in both Matthew 15 and Revelation 21:8 saying that no arsenokoitai, or anyone who unrepentantly commits any form of porneia, will enter the kingdom of God.

Finally, in Matthew 19 Jesus quotes the Torah again by saying that marriage as God created it is the union of one man and one woman for life. There is not a single positive example of homosexual conduct in the Bible or place it is blessed. And, every single time homosexuality is mentioned in Scripture, it is expressly spoken against.

The early Church clearly spoke out against homosexuality. They also made distinctions between what we would think of as common homosexual practices and more deviant forms such as pederasty and sex cults. These are all unchanging facts that we have to deal with.

This, however, is more than a blog about homosexuality, this is a blog about love.

I realize that some folks may believe that what I have written reads more like hate speech than love. But please, please hang with me a little longer before writing me off as a hate and fearmongerer.

On May 15, Melton wrote her Instagram followers, "My beloveds – please never give up on love. Life could surprise the [expletive] out of you. Trust me – you might just wake up one morning and find yourself smack dab in the middle of heaven. I love my wife. LOVE WINS." 

Just as there is a culture war being waged over sexuality, there is a war being fought over the definition of the word love. So, what does it actually mean to love God? Let’s look at a couple of passages.

I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days. Deuteronomy 30:19-20

What you just read is basically a summary statement of the entire book of Deuteronomy. This message is repeated over and over: If we love God, we keep His commands. But surely Jesus, who embodied love would see things differently, right?

Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me. – John 14:23-24

John 14 is just one of an overwhelming number of places that Jesus identifies Himself with the Lord God of the Old Testament. He and the Father are one. If we love Jesus, we will obey His commands.

How many of Jesus’ commands are we called to obey? He made that crystal clear in His parting words. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:19-20).”

Last week I wrote that God’s love language is obedience to the commands of Christ. Based on the Great Commission, if we love Jesus and others, we will teach people the truth about what He said, and then help them to follow Him. And I am confident that you can demonstrate the same obedient love toward Him as the early Christians did because the same Holy Spirit that empowered them empowers followers of Jesus today.

Jesus loved us enough to deny Himself and carry His cross. The early Christians willingly laid down their lives out of devotion to Jesus' commands. May we love Him enough do the same. 

Let him who has love in Christ keep the commandments of Christ. Who can describe the [blessed] bond of the love of God? What man is able to tell the excellence of its beauty, as it ought to be told? The height to which love exalts is unspeakable. Love unites us to God. Love covers a multitude of sins. Love bears all things, is long-suffering in all things. There is nothing base, nothing arrogant in love … without love nothing is well-pleasing to God. In love has the Lord taken us to Himself. On account of the Love he bore us, Jesus Christ our Lord gave His blood for us by the will of God; His flesh for our flesh, and His soul for our souls. … Blessed are we, beloved, if we keep the commandments of God in the harmony of love; that so through love our sins may be forgiven us. – Clement of Rome 95CE, ANF Volume 1, p. 36-37 [CD-ROM]

1 comment:

  1. People always have and probably always will twist the words of Scripture to meet their own needs and desires. The deeper lesson, I believe, is that we are all human and capable of errors in judgement. We are called to love one another and leave the judging to God. Each person is accountable to God for their actions and each will pay the consequences here on earth and beyond. We have been given free will and sexual orientation is a choice. May God have mercy on all of us and may we love others unconditionally as God loves us.