09 Apr 4/11/15 “7 Reasons Why ‘Christians’ Are Divided On Homosexuality” – Pastor Shane Idleman
Relating to people on their level and to love them regardless of their lifestyle is a mark of true Christianity. So why are many Christians divided? For example, much of the hate mail I received from this sermon clip featured by Charisma News was from “Christians”:
How can both groups claim to be Christians and yet understand the Bible and God’s attributes so differently? The answer is obvious: biblical unity is unity with the Spirit—unity of doctrine and unity of truth—not unity for the sake of unity. The division is over truth. This is why we can’t “all just get along.”
- Many err on the side of compassion. Jesus perfectly balanced grace and mercy with confrontation and correction. The Bible was written so that people would know the truth—the truth about God, creation, sin, and redemption. We are not called to make truth tolerable but to make it clear. When we lovingly challenge this lifestyle, we are not attacking, but rather, contending for what is right. We are to detest division within the church and work toward reconciliation whenever we can, but we must not confuse “attacking” with “contending.” Compassion without truth is like a vehicle without an engine. It might look nice but its not going anywhere.
- Many are not spending time in the Word. If you’re not in the Word, the Word won’t be in you. The majority of those defending homosexuality and gay-marriage don’t spend time reading God’s Word. As a result, the difficult things are avoided. Scripture is interpreted by experience and feeling – truth is relative to the situation rather than absolute. But the Bible says just the opposite.
I am deeply concerned with what I hear from many Christians today. They say that it’s arrogant to claim that you know the truth. In reality, only arrogance can exalt one to a level that challenges God and His truth. It takes a great deal of humility to admit that personal opinions and beliefs are wrong when they oppose absolute truth. Is it really a mark of humility to suggest that after nearly 2,000 years of church history, that some have actually discovered the real truth—that truth is now flexible in the area of human sexuality? If so, then it doesn’t matter what Christ said, the disciples wrote, or what the early church fathers believed. Humility recognizes that we are fallible human beings who have sinned against God. His Word is a lifeline to our soul, an anchor for our lives; not something to be debated, altered, or misrepresented. We don’t change truth—truth changes us.
- The battle cry is focused on “rights.” Would we say, “I believe that those who embrace pornography can live in harmony with biblical Christianity.” Or, “I believe that those who embrace adultery can live in harmony with biblical Christianity.” Of course not. Unfortunately, one of the greatest mistakes in our culture today involves not being able to discern between right and wrong. The battle cry is focused on “individual rights,” instead of what does God’s Word say?
- Grace and confrontation are not being balanced. It’s unfortunate that Christians often embrace one of two extremes. At one extreme are those who insult those trapped in this lifestyle. Homosexuality and/or transgender tendencies appear at the top of their sin list. With this group, there is very little love or compassion. The other extreme excuses this sin and looks the other way. Both extremes are wrong and offer a false impression of genuine Christianity—Christ asks that we extend compassion but without compromise.
- Many pastors are not teaching all of God’s Word. As a result, congregants are malnourished in the area of truth. We must preach the difficult truths as well as the joyful ones; preach the cross and the new life; preach hell and preach heaven; preach damnation and preach salvation; preach sin and preach grace; preach wrath and preach love; preach judgment and preach mercy; preach obedience and preach forgiveness; preach that God “is love,” but don’t forget that God is just. Ironically, it’s the love of God that compels us to share all of His truth, including those things that are hard to hear.
- We want friends not enemies. Are those who defend homosexuality or who say nothing, truly loving them, or are they simply seeking to avoid conflict? If we are more concerned about being accepted than being truthful, do we really care for this group more than the person who is willing to speak the truth in love? The answer is obvious: We are to do what is right because it’s right, not because it is popular. The heart of God is to help people, and that often involves lovingly confronting them. Authentic Christians love the truth, and others, and are willing to risk the consequences of confrontation in order to help others. This is a genuine act of love, not hate.
To say that authentic Christians hate or fear those trapped in the homosexual lifestyle demonstrates a gross misunderstanding of the Christian faith. To “confront in love” simply comes from a desire to honor God and to truly love and care for others. Warning, confronting, challenging, advising and admonishing are all characteristic of genuine love. Parents warn, confront, challenge and admonish daily. Truly misled or self-serving individuals would wrongly attribute these traits to “hate-speech.”
- There will be a great falling away from truth in the last days (cf. 2 Thessalonians). This should concern all of those who are being swayed by political correctness rather than absolute truth. Religious people often say “good things,” but their hearts disobey. This is called religious hypocrisy. This is much different than a believer who struggles with sin. A religious person acts religious but doesn’t know God. Jesus states, “These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me” (Matthew 15:8). A.W. Tozer adds, “Millions of professed believers talk as if [Christ] were real and act as if He were not. And always our actual position is to be discovered by the way we act, not by the way we talk.”
When people depart from absolute truth, and thus quench and grieve the Spirit of God, they become mechanical in their approach to Christianity and lose the ability to guide. This is what we’re seeing in the lives of many Christians and denominations across America. The Word of God is not in their hearts “like a burning fire” (Jer. 20:9), but relative, powerless and debatable.
Unfortunately, those Christians who are sounding the alarm are often categorized as irrational, judgmental, bigoted and intolerant. But how can we warn if we won’t confront, correct if we won’t challenge, and contend if we won’t question? We must speak the truth in love.
Watch the Wheat and the Tare sermon here: https://vimeo.com/119706571