The Supreme Court Just Gave American Evangelicals a Gift

 

supreme-court-same-sex-marriage

 

Evangelicals are tenacious, persistent, and driven when they want to fight for a cause. The problem is that American evangelicals have been swept up in fighting for the wrong cause for a long time.

When the Supreme Court ruled to make same sex marriage the law of the land, American evangelicals received a gift that many don’t want: official permission to fight for people in need instead of fighting against same sex marriage.

Whatever you believe about same sex marriage, the role of government, and the future of the church in America, disagreeing with same sex marriage on moral grounds does not demand a public campaign to prevent it from becoming legally sanctioned. While I remain committed to creating room for affirming and non-affirming evangelicals who unite under the common banner of saving faith in Christ, evangelicals in America should have never made legalized same sex marriage a central moral issue to fight in the courts.

While I don’t believe Matthew 25 is exhaustive in its presentation of what matters to God, we do get a glimpse of the kinds of people who have internalized and lived out the message of Jesus. They work to alleviate the most pressing needs of others in our world.

That isn’t a call to relativize our sexual standards. Rather, I see Jesus pointing us toward the issues that pertain to the most basic aspects of human dignity: food, shelter, clothing, justice, and sickness:

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat,

I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,

I was a stranger and you invited me in, 

I needed clothes and you clothed me, 

I was sick and you looked after me,

I was in prison and you came to visit me.”

We can disagree all day about same sex marriage. Heck, the majority of evangelicals will most likely continue to disagree about this issue for another 20 years until the millennials take their place in church leadership.

However, there’s no denying that millions of people around the world are suffering significantly, and Jesus wants us to focus our energies on serving them. If there was ever a group of people who should give a damn about children dying of hunger, deeply wounded people suffering in prison, and thousands upon thousands of refugees fleeing unprecedented violence in the Middle East, it should be American evangelicals.

It’s not like these massive global needs are a secret:

Over 49 million Americans and 870 million people overall in the world are going hungry (source).

750 million people worldwide lack access to clean water, leading to diseases that disproportionately kill children under age 5 who are unable to fight bacteria (source 1, source 2)

The U.S. prison system incarcerates over 2.3 million people, including a disproportionate number of African Americans (source).

Over 100 million Christians around the world face severe persecution, including the believers living in refugee camps after fleeing Syria and Iraq (source).

Over 500,000 Americans are homeless (source), but worldwide an estimated 1 billion people are living in housing that is inadequate (source).

If you care about preventing terrible things like human trafficking, rape, forced prostitution, and child soldiers, partnering with groups that empower communities to meet these basic needs will go a long way in keeping potential victims safe, healthy, and in control of their own lives.

Declarations about the collapse of civilization because of same sex marriage ring hollow when we consider that Americans toss 31.1% of our food while allowing millions to go hungry, fail to ask whether our ridiculously high incarceration rates ruin thousands of lives that could have been set right through treatment programs, and Christians in the Middle East have to flee their villages after ISIS invades, steals their women and children, and threatens to kill anyone who refuses to convert.

If God is going to condemn us over anything in America, it’s going to be our indifference and inaction when it comes to feeding people, giving out clean water, offering shelter, visiting the sick, and helping the prisoners, not a Supreme Court ruling.

It boggles the mind that evangelicals in America have long seen this ruling coming, but we have fought tooth and nail in what many suspected to be a losing cause. So many millions of dollars and hours were tossed into legal battles that were a long shot at best.

And yet, we have always had financial resources, competent charities, and passionate workers who are more than willing to travel to the ends of the earth to fulfill the very words of Jesus. If we collectively gave these most basic causes just a fraction of the time and energy that we had devoted to fighting same sex marriage, who knows how many thousands or millions of lives could have been saved.

We have been given a gift: The Supreme Court ruling means we can stop throwing our time and money into fighting same sex marriage and fulfill the words of Matthew 25.

We need not lament, lick our wounds, or bemoan the “terrible” world that our grandchildren will inherit. For millions of people around the world and even in our own neighborhoods, the worst has already happened and will continue to happen.

We need not wave the white flag of surrender on same sex marriage and pray for God’s mercy. If we’re going to take the words of Jesus seriously, know this:

God’s judgment has been upon us long before a single state allowed same sex marriage.

God’s judgment came upon us when we left people hungry, thirsty, sick, unclothed, and alone.

It’s time to stop blaming the court system. If we disagree on same sex marriage, that is our right. That doesn’t change the call of Jesus for his followers, especially American evangelicals at this time. We have our marching orders. We shouldn’t act surprised at who we’re called to serve.

We aren’t called to fight against someone. We aren’t called to litigation.

We are called to fight for everyone—especially those suffering in the most basic ways.

The longer we engage in legal fights against same sex marriage, the more apparent it becomes that we’d rather throw ourselves into any losing cause than obey the most basic commands of Jesus.

Let’s take our tenacity, energy, and resources and throw them into serving the people who are suffering the most in this world.

We may even hear the words: “Well done, good and faithful servant,” one day.

 

UPDATE: July 1, 2015

Comments will be closing soon on this post, so I wanted to add a quick note that will hopefully address one of the leading concerns among those who have commented thus far:

The majority of the dissenting comments have accused me of overlooking or downplaying the relief work that evangelicals have done around the world.

However…

Some of the most enthusiastic shares, comments, and private notes I’ve received in support of the post have come from missionaries and aid workers around the world who said I put their exact thoughts into words. Not to say all such folks agree with me, but it’s just a general trend.

In addition…

No dissenting comment I have yet seen has made personal mention of being an aid worker who feels overlooked or disparaged. Not to say this won’t happen, but it’s just a general trend.

To be clear, I assumed that it’s common knowledge that American evangelicals are involved in all sorts of relief work and missionary work. I had not intention of downplaying what anyone has done in helping those in need or in preaching the Gospel. My intent was calling attention to the needs that remain in our world and the importance of focusing our energies to meet them. My apologies if this post unintentionally minimized anyone’s generosity or service.

295 thoughts on “The Supreme Court Just Gave American Evangelicals a Gift

  1. So is/was it a waste of time to challenge our Nations abortion Law? It seems like that’s what is being said here. We can always do more to help the people of the World but it seems to me that you are simply pleased with the outcome of the Supreme Court decision.

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  2. First of all, Matthew 25 has absolutely nothing to do with helping the poor and so does not in any way reflect God’s attitude towards the poor. Its about the world’s attitude toward persecuted Christians. It reveals God’s radical commitment to his people when they are suffering for their faith. Nevertheless, you could have quoted other passages where God does reveal and his heart for the poor and his desire for us to serve them. That point is certainly biblically and spiritually correct though you are using the wrong passage to support that idea. But I think you are being self-righteous and and judgmental towards evangelical Christians for which you should apologize. A recent study has shown that already evangelicals spend far more money on helping the needy than on political concerns. The study concluded that evangelicals spend only a fraction on politics compared to what they spend on mercy ministries. (the study compared the giving of evangelicals to progressives and concluded progressives spend a much higher % if their income on politics and less of their income on the needy than do evangelicals.) So you are wrong that evangelicals applying their political spending to mercy ministry would radically change the world. It would be a very small blip. You have bought in to the national narrative that evangelicals are hateful people who are only concerned about turning America into a theocracy. That is a cartoon figure of evangelicals designed to promote hate. The truth is evangelicals have already been helping the needy and have already been putting their money where their mouth is.

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    1. How does Matthew 25 have nothing to do with the poor? Verses 31-46 contain the parable of the sheep and the goats. I just read it again and there is nothing about persecution; it is entirely about the believer’s response to the “least of these”.

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      1. Thanks for your comment. My interpretation is based on the literary context of the Gospel of Matthew. Elsewhere in Matthew Jesus uses the related phrase “little ones” to refer to Christians not the poor. Also, in the parable he calls the least of these “my brothers.” Elsewhere in Matthew Jesus calls Christians his brothers but never the poor. Also, in Matthew there is great concern on Jesus’ part for persecuted Christians (the last and longest beatitude, Matthew 10, etc). Also, the nations are the ones being judged and in Matthew the nations are either the ones Christians are reaching out to with the gospel or who are persecuting the church. Finally elsewhere in Matthew Christ radically identifies with Christians so that what is done to them could be said to be done to him. This identification is never made with the needy. Seeing how the terms and concepts used in the parable of the sheep and goats are read in the rest of Matthew lead to my conclusion. 70 % of interpreters of this passage in both the medieval and renaissance reformation eras took the passage to mean this, so it is not new.

        And so I am not misunderstood, the Bible does obligate Christians to care for, be concerned for, to have compassion on the poor and needy. To refuse to do so would be sinful and would not evidence a heart touched by God’s grace. This is taught throughout the Bible in many, many, many places and cannot be denied. I just think the parable of the sheep and goats does not teach this and thus is currently one of the most misused passages in all the Bible in both conservative and liberal circles.

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    2. Wow. What’s the weather like on your planet?
      Because you certainly are not describing the evangelicals in America..

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      1. Well, I am an evangelical in America. I have never given a penny to any political case nor have I ever participated in any political rally/event/group. I only vote about half the time. Politics do not drive my faith. I have and do give to help the poor and to my church. The church I attend teaches that the organized church should not be involved in politics. Though we are just a small church, In the past year my church has tried to help couples addicted to drugs overcome their addiction. My church has taken up offerings for the needy. My church has given food and money to the needy in our community. My church is active in helping a mental ill person in our community. Though my church teaches that homosexual practice is wrong and we are united on that from a moral/spiritual perspective, we have people who support the supreme court ruling and those who don’t from a legal political perspective without any division in the congregation. My church teaches us to actively love everybody, even those we disagree with. I have a gay friend who I love and delight in as a friend. He knows what I believe, but we treat one another with kindness and respect. He asks me to pray for him when he faces life challenges and I actively do so. I think this represents a typical evangelical in America yet such people are never, never, never covered or portrayed in the media. Sociologically groups need an enemy to hate and they create an evil straw man version of that group to demonize and misrepresent to help unite their group and motivate them to action. Evangelicals are being portrayed as hate filled, political obsessed, power hungry who care nothing for the poor. I am sure there are some people like that, but it doesn’t represent the vast majority of us.

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        1. I have to disagree. This is not a straw man version. Nor is it a cartoon figure of evangelicals. It’s rather true and accurate in my opinion. Just read the comments all over the Internet and blogs written about this issue and others that are equally unimportant. You spend time writing those blogs yourself. Those people are real.
          For every wonderful story you share about how great your religion and interpretation of Scriptures are, I have an equally devasting one of how people in the EV religion have been kicked out, shunned, barred from service and leadership roles and made to feel like they are nothing once they speak out about the truths they see in their own Christian culture. That IS what happens. But see, you justify it so well, don’t you? Because you follow THE BIBLE. You couldn’t POSSIBLY be wrong. (Insert sarcasm).
          The author of this blog stated that he felt it was a given that your religion does many good things… But the fact that you feel the need to reiterate this point and defend your “brothers” (AKA the true believers) by your interpretation of Mathew, pretty much proves the point of his article.
          It’s interesting how scripture always seems to prove how correct religious people are when they peddle their brand of “love”.
          As Jesus said, “you strain out a gnat and allow a camel to go through”.
          Oh…. But of course he wasn’t talking to you… He was talking to the Jewish Pharisees! So you’re off the hook on this one “biblically” speaking that is.
          Am I being judgemental here??? Oh perhaps a bit… But I won’t apologize… Seeing how Jesus never did when he was calling out religious people on their BULL.

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        2. Thanks for taking the time to interact with me.

          I didn’t say there were no people like the ones the author described, but that it did not represent the majority of evangelicals. I have no demographic data to back this up—just an impression from my experience. I then may be wrong because I am just speaking from my personal interactions. But of course, you evidently have had the opposite experience. I no not deny the reality of what you have experienced and I am sorry that those are the only evangelicals you have encountered. My gut feeling is that they do not represent the majority of evangelicals, but again, I may be wrong for I don’t have a scientific study on the matter to back this up.

          I would suggest that those who post on the internet may not accurately reflect the whole of any movement or group that they are a part of. Those that post on the internet seemed to be the most partisan, most radical of any group. The ones least likely to engage in civil dialog designed for mutual understanding. The ones most likely to call one another names instead of engaging other persons in love. So if your experience of evangelicals is primarily through blog posts as you first paragraph seems to indicate, I can understand why you feel what I call the cartoonish version of evangelicals is correct. I think the majority of evangelicals are to busy living real life to be blogging. This is true of every human social group, So the bloggers may actual misrepresent all the groups they are part of to some extent. But again, just my experience. I am not saying what you have experienced is untrue.

          You seem to imply my blog posts engage in what the author criticized. I am unaware that I ever wrote any blog post encouraging political involvement in stopping same sex marriage as the author seems to think all evangelicals are obsessed with. It is against my principles to do so. I do not think the church should be involved in politics.

          If you are talking about churches that abuse spiritual authority i paragraph two, I would agree with you that it is horrible and our church has been a haven for healing for those who have been harmed by such authoritarianism. I would never justify spiritual abuse. Perhaps I am not understanding what you are addressing. Please clarify if i got it wrong.

          I certainly try to follow the Bible as God’s revelation to humanity, but I know I fall short daily in living by its teaching. In this sense I am wrong constantly and I have to ask God’s forgiveness all the time. Also, I know my interpretation of God’s Word can be wrong. I am a sinful and fallible interpreter. I need to constantly meditate on God’s Word seeking to be submissive to the Spirit in guiding me and I need to always listen to my brothers and sisters in their interpretation because they help me from going astray. I am certain when I stand before God I will find out some of my interpretations of the Bible are wrong.

          Yes, the author said he assumed everyone knew evangelicals helped the poor in his addendum—something that was not clear at least in my mind in the original post.

          I did not feel I was defending anyone in my comments on Matthew 25, simply pointing out that I don’t think it teaches what he thinks it does. In fact, I said his point that we should help the poor if found in many other Scriptures. So if this were true of evangelicals, his point (that we didn’t put a priority on helping the poor) he would be correct.

          My complaint was that I felt his post implied that evangelical Christians had been doing nothing but opposing gay marriage politically. I was trying to say that is not the whole story and gives a distorted view of who evangelicals are and what we do. I did reference a study that showed that evangelicals only spend a fraction on politics compared to what they spend on mercy ministry. I think gives my viewpoint some statistical validity.

          Also, the point of my post was not to glorify evangelicalism as some perfect religion. It is not. We fall short of God’s standards daily. I would never ask anybody to join my church because we are so wonderful. Never. That would be a lie. I just felt like the blogger was not telling the whole truth either.

          Nobody is ever off the hook from being confronted by Jesus about being Pharisees, especially me. This is a sin I battle in myself every day. I often have to go to others and apologize and repent for when I have hurt and offended when I have acted hypocritically and self-righteously. God forgive me, God help me, God save me from myself.

          Thanks for interacting to me. God’s blessings be with you

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        3. Well… I guess when tons of sponsored children from World Vision are dropped as a result of the organization’s decision to hire without discrimination… It’s enough for me to realize that this is a huge problem.
          Just watched the movie Selma… So interesting how history repeats itself. So. Very. Sad.
          You are very welcome for the interaction!
          Peace to you as well.

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    3. Thank you for this article. I strongly believe this article is the voice and message to all of us from God. The light in all of this difference of opinions shows clearly that we can make a difference (at least in our passion!) To those who will never see, hear, or taste the gospel. We can all do this if we ban together and stop dreadfully worrying about who we are sexually attracted to…. So many horrific things are happening to this world that we can have a voice and hand in. We got this, Church!

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  3. Thanks for your words, Ed. They are very thought provoking and well stated. To the extent that American Evangelicals are concerned about this issue to the exclusion of serving the poor, this is a powerful argument. But, to the extent that it they aren’t, which I think is very significant, it begins to look more like a straw man argument. I think the extent to which American Evangelicals have taken Matthew 25 to heart far outweighs what they have done to oppose same-sex marriage. It’s easy to think otherwise when you compare an issue for which there is a huge amount of controversy with one for which there is virtually none. (No one really argues against helping the poor, they mainly differ on the means for doing so.) The news media, the blogosphere and social networks magnify controversy. The vast number of social services in which Evangelicals are involved is just not that interesting. So the strong “either/or” tone of your words is troubling. You paint a narrow picture of Evangelicals with too broad a brush, I think.

    There’s a good deal of talk about making room for people with strong convictions on both sides of the marriage issue. But I wonder how this will work out in practice in the church and in the surrounding culture that has a strong effect on it. I don’t think many people have thought that one through. “God is in the details,” as the old saying goes. There doesn’t seem to be much room on the fence to sit when it comes to how the church will work out its response to same-sex marriage. Making room for both will likely mean that one will only be entitled to their opinion while the rest get to practice theirs. We’re either going to marry same-sex couples, or not. In practice it’s going to be hard for churches not to divide on such a fundamental issue as the nature of christian marriage. So maybe there’s room for more discussion of the matter?

    Perhaps the controversy will be resolved, as you suggest, when more millennials take their place in church leadership. They do seem to have a majority opinion. Maybe time is on their side. But do the numbers really determine the position and practice the church should have? Among millennials, as with the Supreme Court justices, there is a significant minority opinion of well thought out opposition to same-sex marriage. Matthew Lee Anderson has recently published a long paper on this at mereorthodoxy.com. He may speak for the minority among millennials, but he is also an intelligent, articulate, informed and sincere Christian (just as you are). It might be good if more millennials thought it worth reading and considering what he has to say. Why waste time with the angry ones?

    Sadly, there are Christians who do fit the mold you describe very well, neglecting the poor for the sake of a single issue that really isn’t as urgent or as important. And viral characterizations of this Decision as a “gift” will draw them to your comment section like a magnet (as well as simply offending many others.) But I don’t think they represent the vast majority of Evangelicals who have strong reservations about same-sex marriage and feel the need to advocate for them, even in the face of overwhelming opposition. Far too many Christians on both sides of the spectrum spend too much time listening only to those with whom they agree and too little time seeking out the most thoughtful opinions of others on the matter. If our position and practice is a response only to the worst examples of those with an opposing view, what good are they really?

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  4. The term “Evangelical” means that….Evangelicalism, Evangelical Christianity, or Evangelical Protestantism[a] is a worldwide, transdenominational movement within Protestant Christianity, maintaining that the essence of the gospel consists in the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ’s atonement. Thus, there can be no Christians that are not evangelical by its own implication. Having said that, we should only refer to them as “Christians.” Now, Christians do want to help the poor, clothed the poor, visit the sick and visit the people in prison and they do it everyday unnoticed by the majority of people. But to expect Christians not to follow the bible is a stretch that you, a self confessed Christian author, should know. As Christians we are charged with being the light in a dark world. We are charged to be the salt of the earth. We are charged to shine a light where God’s word leads us, and not follow the pack but stand alone if we have to, not caring that the unenlightened world follows sin however fashionable it is, to keep the light on God’s word. For Christians not to stand up against the tide that promotes sin would be unconscionable for us and we would be convicted by the Holy Spirit and as Christians we would have no other choice but to stand up for God’s word. We don’t care what the sinful world wants. We know the sinful world wants sin and is gravitated by it. We are too, and but for the help of God we would be cheering for sin too, just like the rest of the dark world. But as Christians we stay mindful that God’s word prevails over any other thing! If it is against God’s word we cannot go along with it because to do so would be the equivalent to giving God the finger! Just like the White House being lit with rainbow colors was giving God the finger! Because changing God’s set out design for marriage and then boasting about it is giving God the finger. Anytime people go against God’s stated design we are giving God the finger! It should not matter what it is, God’s word comes first. Not man’s desires or fashion of the day. A student of history [ not just Christians] would tell you that the last stages of a society are blatant immorality and unleashed homosexuality. Look at Sodom and Gomorrah. God rained down fire and brimstone. That’s not just a little bible story, it is the truth. Look at Babylon and The Roman Empire, and look at why God destroyed the world in the flood. All gone now and the last signs of their debauchery was blatant homosexuality and rampant immorality. Christians shine a light in the dark world to say what they are doing in sin! It’s against what God wants. Are we at a place in the world where most people don’t care what God wants? Yes we are, but the bible tells us that day would come. It is no surprise to us. But don’t you candy coat it and try and try and make Christians look stupid as though they should shut up and let the world implode and tell them to go visit the sick. Christians are suppose to stand up for what is right–regardless of what the world thinks. And what is right is whatever God wants.

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    1. What did Jesus say about homosexuals?
      Don’t quote OT stuff, or what Paul said (who appears to have had some serious conflicts about male/female roles).
      What did JESUS say?
      And what did He say about taking care of the poor, the sick, the homeless, and the weak?
      What did he say about being self-righteous?

      And what did he say the “most important rule” was?

      He told us– precisely– “what God wants.”

      The question is, will you listen to Jesus or go your own way, with selective Biblical cherry picking to support your own hatreds?

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  5. True, helping the needy is part of Jesus’ message. Jesus did say that the poor will always be among us. Matthew 26:11 and Mark 14:7. I’m not trying to downplay the necessity to help people in need here, but there are far too many examples in the Old Testament of cities or nations that turned away from God and were punished, destroyed, or taken captive. To not fight in order to keep one’s nation directed towards God would be to go against God and just accept God’s wrath and punishment against us. Nobody would accept that as a valid side-effect of making sure we help the poor. And technically a Christian would be acting out of love by trying to keep a nation close to God and to show unbelievers who God is. If without accepting God you face a separation from God for eternity, it would be loving to tell you about the eternal consequence of your choices now.

    For a Christian, if you merely help somebody physically or materially upon this Earth but do not share Christ with them…then what was the point? They still lost everything in the end. And if we can’t help others because God poured His wrath on us…how does that help either?

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    1. Why does it matter what happened in the Old Testament?

      Jesus said, “I am the way,” and “I am the new covenant.”

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  6. Mr. Cyzewski, opposing same-sex marriage IS fighting for people. Like all illicit sex, homosexual behavior is self-destructive, and validating it by requiring states to permit these pseudo marriages will only promote even more deadly activity.

    And I find it extraordinary that you totally fail to mention the murder of 50 million unborn children in our own country. I wonder if you have decided the ones who are in danger today and tomorrow are not people worth struggling to save. Perhaps mentioning that horror would run the risk of being called “hateful” or making uncomfortable those who have been complicit in mass murder. Pro-lifers have not stopped talking about abortion (we really don’t care if the world calls us haters), and today the majority of Millennials believe that abortion is morally wrong. The mindset is changing, and if the Lord spares us, we may see children once more protected by law in America.

    All such struggles are long and difficult, but our fellow humans are worth it. I’m praying that by the time Millennials become church leaders they will see that the Holy Spirit is right about sex too.

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  7. It appears that 3.8% of the U.S. Population struggles with their gender identity and/or same sex attraction. This sounds like a group of hurting people that need the love and caring support of Christians to help them find peace and healing in Christ. Let’s walk the road with them as fellow travelers in our journey to Him.

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    1. Yes let’s love them and comfort them and tell them everythings going to be all right and make them warm and fuzzy—then when they die they are separated from God because nobody told them the truth because we were more motivated by being politically correct and afraid to make a stand for the truth of the world of God. That’s what’s wrong with the world now—it doesn’t need more of that!

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      1. Instead of loving people, what do you recommend? Beating them over the head with a Bible and telling them that God will not accept them until they change their ways? Just because I choose to love someone in spite of their choices does not mean that I am approving of everything they do. It is not up to me to convict them of sin-that is the job of the Holy Spirit. Last I checked, Jesus said to confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and He promises to sanctify us after we come to Him. Asking people to clean up their act before they come to Christ (which is what I interpret your words to say) is like saying we can somehow make ourselves good enough to receive salvation. I am a sinner saved by grace through faith in Jesus. I struggle with many sins which my Bible says are no better or worse than homosexuality. So I am in no position to tell someone else that they are going to get rejected by God because of their life choice. As I said in a previous response, “I want to live my life showing others God’s love while focusing on what I am ”for”-grace, mercy, forgiveness, love, salvation-rather than what I am against. I am confident that more people will come to faith through relationship than will come by being browbeat by what they are doing wrong.”

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        1. Thanks for your comment. You saved me from having to post another Jesus Christ Superstar video in the comments… “Everything is all right, everything is fine…” 😉

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        2. Thank you. There are multiple studies (and I have worked in several) that show the biggest barrier for young people to get involved in church is feeling “judged.” I’m not just talking about gays, but ALL young people. When they see what they perceive as judgment against anyone, they expect that the scope will widen to include them.

          Your kind of positioning would do much to bring more young people into church to meet Jesus. Those who keep wanting to focus on “do this or else you go to eternal fire and damnation” can get ready to watch the pews empty.

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  8. Hi, I’m an aid volunteer/social justice Christian who _does_ feel overlooked by your article. I’m a “none-of-the-above” type regarding the binary fight between pro-gay theology and anti-gay believers. I survived the same types of physical, sexual, and extreme emotional abuse as many of the LGBTQA friends and associates in my life. On top of that, I had to stand up against pressures at my progressive church to _not_ have sex outside of marriage. (I’m not Ace, a.k.a., asexual; I just wanted to follow the type of model that appears most frequently in the New Testament. Speaking for myself, my life has been blessed by that choice on how to channel my urges for physical closeness.) What I’ve learned after 30 years of dealing with sexuality and Christianity is that it’s a much bigger landscape than straight allies have been able to acknowledge, mostly due to lack of information or alternate frameworks for comprehension. Sexual expression has been being relied upon as emotional spackle. Sexual identity gets used, for its part, as the crayon that helps define those of who had our identities as beloved children of God stripped from us when we were younger. Every one of us who have been affected, and I’ve known a lot of people in my life, were prompted to look into non-heteronormative identities as a result of adults who _used_ us to fulfill (a.) their emotional and identity needs; (b.) their perceived physical needs; (c.) or all of the above. I have the sometimes questionable “gift” of having been able to remember very early events in infanthood that later affected what I thought of as my “real” self. Because infants are in the process of developing their cognitive abilities, our early memories are usually unreliable or difficult to access. This complicates the phenomenon of people citing their earliest memories of being non-heteronormative as appearing during toddlerhood or later, i.e., when people say, “I was always this way.” I am one of the few people I’ve known who possesses accurate memories from year one/year two. (Numerous memories were later verified.) The “love is love” argument is too simplistic to someone whose stepfather still believes that what he did and still feels is “love.” His rock-solid belief that he should have received cooperation in getting his version of love has never seemed all that different–to my ears–from the tone of voice of various other types of people who demand satisfaction for their desires. I am not comparing or evaluating the contents of those other claims themselves, mind you: I am speaking of _tone of voice_ and about when we put ourselves in the position of demanding that our needs be met. Society sorts out what demands are treated as valid. (God does, too. We just tend to ignore Him or gerrymander pertinent verses when what He says doesn’t match our findings.) No one needs sexual expression to stay alive. It just feels like that sometimes because sexual expression is the mold into which Western culture has poured our reasonable need for caritas. Here’s a scarier idea to consider: Maybe no one has a “right*” to sexual expression. Maybe that right only exists by artificial fiat of human beings. (*I can think of one exception, Paul in I Corinth7:3 saying, “The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise…” NRSV.)
    Sexual need/identity is a substitute to fill in for gaping, human-caused, catastrophic emotional lack. But almost no one believes me, not on either side. So I just keep my mouth shut, and I care for the people in my life in all the ways that went missing in my and their lives, as much as I am capable and as much as it is healthy. I can’t undo what happened to my friends. I can’t change their ideas about what will undo the damage. I can help them feel happier and more whole _for_that_moment_. Even if my expression of love has been enthusiastically received, even if my expression of love for my fellow human beings has tended, at times, toward sacrifices that were not always the best choices for my life, I cannot unsee what I have seen. I refuse to agree with the half-truths that are just the latest in a lifelong string of half-truths that have harmed me and the people I love as brothers and sisters. Almost no one knows about this thought process, as I keep it hidden–if no one will “get it,” and they will just reject me, why bother? But I am tired of staying silent when armies of half-truths keep fighting, over the bodies and spirits of those who have endured the unseen abuses condoned by our crazy culture. And I’m tired of hearing that people like me don’t exist.

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  9. Can’t the same thing be said for both sides of the issue, not just the Evangelicals? I would think the responsibility of helping the needy lies with everyone, homosexuals included? Especially those fighting for Biblical “marriage”; who weren’t satisfied with a civil union?

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    1. When did you ever hear/read that they were fighting for “Biblical marriage?”

      Or do you think the Bible owns the concept of marriage?

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  10. The hours/days put into posting and reading these comments would go a long ways in SERVING your neighbors and SEEKING to understand/love ALL God’s children, whether you agree or not.
    Is it easier to argue/debate our differences and waste our precious time when we could ALL walk out the door and make a difference in the lives of one person at a time?
    I challenge you ALL to get off your computers and do this!!!

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    1. I’m currently house-bound due to poor health. Sometimes, writing online is, literally, the best I can do…which is to be encouraging of different, compassionate ways of looking at things.

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  11. I love you no matter what your sin is and I’m not mad at you…I will minster to you, I will help you and love you…But I will not give you my blessing in same sex marriage…Everyone wants to take 4 or 5 scriptures out of the bible and build a doctrine around them, but there are 66 books of the bible…There’s a beginning ,a middle and a end…Jesus is not just Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John…Jesus is the word, all 66 books of them…The word became flesh(Jesus)…Leviticus(18:22) Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with women kind: it is an abomination…Now he didn’t say sin, he said abomination: why, because it’s a rebellious spirit, not holy…Its not a flesh thing, like foracation or adultery…Who is the Father of rebellion: Satan, and satan was cast out and fell like lighting…Leviticus(18:24) Defile not ye yourselves in any of these things: for in all these, the Nations are defiled which I cast out before you…Look America has defiled itself, and it will be cast out just as Satan was cast out, just as sodom and Gomorrah was cast out and Babylon was cast out and the Roman Empire was cast out…Now let’s Fast Forward to Jesus who only loved people, But I’ll show you where he had a fit of anger and rage: Matthew(21:12-13) And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and OVERTHREW the TABLES of the money changers, and the SEATS of them that sold doves, And said unto them, (it’s in RED) It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves…So I guess The Jesus of love would be ok with us honoring an abomination in his Fathers house, in a house made to praise and worship him, I’m just saying it’s all about love…No it’s Love with standards:If you don’t love someone you let them do whatever they want: When you love your children you tell them to be home by 10:00pm, not just let them run a muck…I love everyone, I hate no one, but I refuse to dishonor my Father and his house, the bride of Christ to conform what has been made law…The king passed a law that no one could pray to any other god but him for 30 days, but Daniel refused to cut off a connection with his source of peace, with his God…He was thrown into the Lions Den, and God protected him…You remember those 3 Jewish boys my shack, your shack and a tent to go, they refuse to bow to King neb’s statue, and was thrown into the fiery furnace and it was turned up 7 times hotter…And they looked and saw 4 men standing in the furnace and the king asked didn’t we just throw 3 men in there, then why do I see 4…God protected them…To all the churches of the world, refuse to bow to man and his twisted thoughts, stand up and honor your GOD and he is Faithful to protect you, no matter what persecution comes at you, put on your whole Armor of GOD and resist the temptation to conform to what you know is Wrong, which is honoring same sex marriage in the House of the Lord thy GOD…In Jesus Glorious name: AMEN!!!

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  12. Thank you Ed for your words, thoughtful admonishins and being gangsta in your lifestyle. You confirmed my thoughts as I am a cross cultural missional worker working overseas in a very closed and dangerous context for Christians.

    I wrote a blog post that is similar in tone to yours and it’s been getting more traffick then what I am used to.

    http://asianroughrider.com/2015/06/29/4-christian-responses-to-the-lgbt-community/

    But I can care less about media traffick as I am more concerned about us as evangelicals sharing our faith in practical ways to everyday people. Thanks for being a fellow rough rider…

    Much Peace,
    Tobias

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  13. The sin is and always has been wrong. It will forever be wrong. I am a sinner saved by grace. No civil ruling will ever change God’s law. This is America; people are free to choose the way they live. We’ll all answer for our sins. I have plenty. Let’s love each other, homosexual or not. Let’s all leave judgement to the King of Kings.

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  14. Christ is NOT speaking about feeding the Nation of Israel or people in general in these verses. Rather, He is speaking specifically about how believers are to treat other believers.

    32 and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
    Matthew 25:32
    Those on His left are the Goats (non believers) Those on His right are the Sheep (believers)

    Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
    Matthew 25:34
    Verse 34 opens the paragraph that contains the specific examples of how we are to treat other believers.

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  15. An eternal perspective of God’s requirements for entrance into His Kingdom would cause many to see how off – track this article is. The Gospel of Christ as it pertains to sin supercedes any church leadership position.

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  16. Awesome post…. FEAR = Having faith in what you don’t want to happen.

    On SO many issues, I see folks who claim to be followers of Christ, use the Old Testament (OT) as justification for all manner of fear mongering and claims of hellfire and destruction because of gay marriage, abortion, etc… I find great irony, in the fact that some Christians use the OT to club folks silly with an air of moral superiority… despite the fact that folks used and did the same thing, and the same logic, to marginalize and persecute the trouble maker from Nazareth, who people claimed was the Messiah, and who scared the h*ll out of the “religious leaders” of the time. The irony never ceases, in fact.

    The premise you so wonderfully express here, can be superimposed to many other current “issues”, including abortion. I am a man. I will never have an abortion… I also happen to think it is wrong.

    Yet, I have often wondered, how many Christians have committed to helping frightened new mothers along the path of their journey of parenthood, LONG after they have been convinced not to terminate their pregnancy. I know some ministries do this work. How many working in this ministry continue to help, even when the mother getting the support, isn’t interested in “buying what we’re selling”.

    Last time I checked, Jesus the Christ didn’t give an admonition to “love they neighbor… so long as they are willing to cop to what you think they should be doing with the God part of their life.”

    That was certainly not the limit of his demonstration of love, or the God whom he called his/our Father.

    We are called to love and to serve… and in so doing we are afforded the grace and blessing of having the dross of our selfishness and self centered fears burned away by gratitude fro the living presence of God in our lives. That is the gift. Those who scramble and claw to “be saved” as their purpose and banner, far too often cling to the very letter of the law, that led fearful men to kill our Lord.

    I am a begger. Nothing more. I beg to have my meanness and pride taken from me by my God, sufficient that I may throw myself into more Love and Service, and the gratitude I unwittingly encounter when God shows me that he is doing for me, what I am incapable of doing for myself, and in the most unexpected way… not by thinking less of myself… but by thinking of myself less.

    I’m not sure how I landed on this page, Ed… and I don’t consider myself Christian, in the sense that most consider affiliation with the Divine. But I have to say… thanks for reflecting the example of Christ in this message of Love and Service… The Master is surely pleased with the way you bring his light to those in need.

    Love to you and yours…

    Dave

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