We love to hate. In fact, we’re known for it. We’ve garnered a reputation for who–or what–we hate.
Research shows that today’s church is known more for what it hates–what it stands against–than for what it loves or affirms. The population perceives a church filled with disdain. For example, the top characteristic that the unchurched population attaches to Christians is a posture of being anti-homosexual. A Barna study revealed that 91 percent hold this perception of Christians.
How is this reputation formed? Most of the Christians I know don’t seem like snarling, hateful people. Yet the reputation prevails. How can this be? I suspect this odor of hatred comes through in a couple of ways: topic fixation, and vocabulary.
In workshops I’ll occasionally ask participants to list what the church is known to stand for and against. The “against” list is always longer. It seems we like to talk more frequently, more stridently, and more loudly about the sins and ills of our society–than we do about the spectacular love and grace of the Lord.
When religious leaders have the opportunity to make news, the message often comes off as condemning a social trend, a political proposal, or a ballot initiative. For sure, we face many daunting and destructive elements in our world. But the predominate Christian agenda often accentuates condemnation and fear. Some Christian non-profit organizations have discovered that they can more readily stir up their donor base with fear and loathing than they can with hope and inspiration.
Many church folks hasten to point out that their disdain is not aimed at individuals, but at people’s bad behaviors. “We don’t hate anybody,” they say. That may be true. But the problem comes through in the language, particularly with the use of a certain four-letter word: hate.
Case in point: When it comes to the gay debate, many people love to repeat the popular ditty, “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” They seem to think this will be a clarifying and redemptive message. It’s not working out that way. I’ve asked gay and lesbian individuals what they hear when someone says, “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” They, unanimously, say they hear hate. Hatred toward them. Hate is the pungent and lingering odor.
Such use of the word “hate” is not having the desired effect. Neither are other odious words in this debate. This includes some people on the other side of the debate. For instance, it’s not helpful to label conservative Christians as “homophobes.” I’ve asked Christian leaders what they hear when someone refers to them with that term. They say they hear hate. Hatred toward them. Disdainful name-calling does not build understanding or heal relationships. It condemns.
The current conversation concentrates so much on hating sin. Little time is left to focus on the One who came to free us from that sin and give us life. We often sum up his essence and eternal purpose in that most familiar verse, John 3:16. And it’s the very next verse that underscores Jesus’ true mission. John 3:17: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
He showed us how to love. Not how to hate.
It would seem that many are so focused on sin that they remain slaves to it.
A great number of denominational conflicts would be resolved instantly if we all drank today’s holy soup. Thanks, Thom. Alan
Sir, I think you meant…..today’s Holy Kool-Aid…..
I think the best sermon that I’ve heard on this topic is from Pastor Chip Ingram from ‘Living On the Edge’ Ministry. The sermon is called “Homosexuality: What do you say to a gay friend?” If you’ve ever heard Pastor Ingram speak, you know that he is one of the most winsome and loving, yet biblically honest pastors out there. He truly does follow the biblical mandate to ‘speak the truth in love.’ However, I do wonder if we are in fact ‘in the last days!’ Days in which Jesus said “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold..”, or if we are in the days that Paul said would be “Perilous times,” or “times of difficulty” (for Christians!). From what I have heard, many, perhaps even most or all who identify with the ‘GLBT’ movement, whether self identified or family or friends, simply do not want to hear what the bible has to say. One group has stated that they don’t want to hear it ‘no matter how loving’ the message! Perhaps we are facing the same opposition that Isaiah faced in his day when he said of the people…
“For these are rebellious people, deceitful children, children unwilling to listen to the Lord’s instruction.They say to the seers,“See no more visions!”
and to the prophets, “Give us no more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions. Leave this way, get off this path, and stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel!”
Or, maybe we have arrived at the time that Paul also said “people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” I have seen the ‘Church’ begin to compromise God’s word in order to be ‘relevant,’ ‘loving’ and ‘open minded.’ I also know that it’s very tempting for Christians who are who refuse to compromise God’s word to heed the words of the Prophet Amos who said “Therefore the prudent keep quiet in such times, for the times are evil.” But we have a mandate from Jesus to preach the Gospel! Paul said “I am compelled by God to do it. How terrible for me if I didn’t preach the Good News!” (NLT) So my prayer for myself and fellow Christians is that God would give me the wisdom, love and boldness that he gave the Apostle Paul, to preach the Gospel of life to the very ones who although very hostile to it, need it the most!
I agree with you, RD.
As a Christian who has a sibling in the gay lifestyle, my fear is that he and all those within the lifestyle are being lied to by many well-intentioned people, including Christians on an ever-increasing basis. It makes it much, much more difficult for those struggling with homosexuality or other sins to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus when we compromise what God has made clearly known.
Do I love my brother? Absolutely. Maybe even more so because of his struggle. And I will continue to love him, pray for him, and be his big sister no matter what.
But when doors open for me to speak the truth in love and not in the flesh, but by the Holy Spirit, may God give me the grace and the healing, truthful words to speak to a heart that can only be opened by the Holy Spirit.
As Christians, we must never, ever compromise God’s Word of Truth, no matter how “right” or “loving” it may seem to us in our own minds.
Let us not conform to the culture around us, but be brave and strong enough in the Lord to always, always speak the truth in love, no matter how difficult.
Calling your brother’s homosexuality “his struggle” says so much… none of it positive.
having run a ministry to bring release to the captives of homosexuality I can assure you that it is a struggle because they are trying to believe a lie that is so far from the truth. When you do that whatever it is, you struggle big time.
Dear RD, Sadly, you are right… Truth with Love was Christ’s message. And love without truth is not love, it’s betrayal…
““We don’t hate anybody,” they say. That may be true.
Case in point: When it comes to the gay debate, many people love to repeat the popular ditty, “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” They seem to think this will be a clarifying and redemptive message. It’s not working out that way.”
Part of the problem is with that abstract statement of “loving the sinner and hating the sin”, is that there are people who are directly affected by the decisions we make. They are not abstractions and to talk about them as such only comes across as offensive. What’s the answer? Well, one thing that could help is not being dismissive of people but rather sitting with them, listening to their stories, getting to know them vs. dismissing them outright because they don’t fit some bill.
When we proclaim “Love the sinner, hate the sin” we need to be standing before a mirror that reflects every human being and every sin committed including ourselves. Surrounding that large group of folks are the arms of Jesus, spread out, inviting us into His forgiveness. His love beyond our understanding that brings us to our knees and tears to our eyes.
Silence is the worst act of hate there is. When someone doesn’t want to hear it, wanting us to shut up, they are actually pushing us into this silent hate. It’s like a person crossing the road, not seeing a truck coming and not yelling out to save their lives. If you do yell out they get mad your treating them like a child. You can’t win with them. Yes, after a while you see your love growing cold so you just stop saying anything any more. And this is unadulterated hate, a real silent killer… Possibly an eternal killer.
Thom, the church’s reputation has taken a beating in recent years – but so have the reputations of every other institution in public life. People are more suspicious of government, universities, the media, colleges, and marriage itself. A more relevant metric would be to compare the church’s reputational slide with that of other institutions.
In following this conversation I would only suggest that, in the homosexual debate, if one would substitute another sin, say…gluttony…or divorce, maybe, the conversation would be totally different.
As one who has been called hateful and a homophobe many times by homosexuals, I came to realise what their modus operandi is. Homosexuality is based on lies from start to finish and generally homosexuals cannot handle the truth.
When you say something that is the truth and they have no answer for it, what they do is accuse you of hate or being a homophobe. I then thank them for confirming what I have said is the truth as it also became clear that when they cannot refute the truth they revert to ad hominen attacks and pejorative language. At the same time I realised that they always opposed the truth, never lies.
So the bottom line is that if you tell the truth that cannot be refuted you are deemed a hater and a homophobe. Whether you are or not is irrelevant. This is more a commentary on them than you so we have no need to apologise or resile from what we have said.
One final comment. The scripture says that it is the truth that sets you free. It does not say that lies will set you free.
How wonderful it must feel being guardian of the truth. Good night.
Reality Check, your assuming somethings that are a little skewed. I am a senior pastor of a church and a certified family and marriage counselor. As I tell people live in two worlds…theological and psychological. I do not believe (by the research I have seen) that homosexuality is a “chosen” life style…you are born that way.
I see people quote scripture right and left on this issue, but in reality that is counter to how Christ preached. He did not constantly quote the Torah, but rather talked to the masses about the love of God. It is obvious that some Christians tend to focus so much on one sin…when Biblically sin is sin is sin. We say that “the truth shall set you free”…but let’s make sure it’s God’s truth and not our own.
@Rev. Dr. Michael Donahue I agree that some (perhaps many) use scripture to beat people into submission; these are called legalists. But there’s another dangerous position that some people take with the bible as well, it’s called Antinomianism, which means “Against Law,” which in this case, is God’s law. The one focuses on Law, Law, Law, while the other focuses on God’s Love, Love, Love! But Jesus chastised the Pharisees for being hyprocrites; for oppressing the people with standards that were burdensome and that they themselves did not keep. The Prophets, who spoke for The Lord, also chastised the False Prophets for preaching God’s love and mercy to peple while they were breaking his law and sinning unrepentantly, when they should have been warning the people of God’s impending judgment!
“They keep saying to those who despise me, ‘The LORD says: You will have peace.’ And to all who follow the stubbornness of their hearts they say, ‘No harm will come to you.’: Jeremiah 23:17
The Apostle Paul also chastised the legalists in Galatians 4 for wanting to remain under the law; but he also chastised the Corinthian church for immorality. Jude also warned of ‘Ungodly Men’ who would pervert the grace of God as “license to sin.” (Jude 1:4)
Jesus did not just preach love, he did preach the law and he also said “If you love me, Keep my commandments!” He told the woman caught in adultry to “Go, and sin no more!”
I don’t believe that there is any solid proof regarding whether or not a person is born gay. However, we know (if we are honest with the text) that God calls homosexual behavior sin! The reason that Christians seem to focus on this one sin is because it is this one sin that is having the greatest impact on the bibilical, moral foundation of this country. What other sin has a ‘Pride Parade?’ For what other sin do people ‘come out of the closet?’ For what other sin is are there large organizations attempting to gain legislation favoring it and accepting it as legitimate and legal? I don’t know of any, do you?
I agree that we must not preach our own opinions like the Prophets in Jeremiah’s day..”How long will this continue in the hearts of these lying prophets, who prophesy the delusions of their own minds? ” (Jeremiah 23:26)
But we should also be careful not to give people false hopes of salvation and forgiveness (Like the false prophets did) to people who refuse to repent of what God calls sin!
So lets say that cheating on your spouse becomes a socially acceptable behavior so much that churches are reamed for not accepting that and preaching against it. Will you defend those who call themselves Christians who are married but dating another? Nobody, me or you, chooses to lust over normally the opposite sex. After marriage, we go the rest of our lives overcoming the urge to act out on lust because God and Jesus said it was wrong. Homosexuality just happens to be becoming a socially acceptable behavior to our culture and now I see churches either saying nothing or twisting the bible to justify it. I’m not out to condemn the world being the law was meant for us so that all goes well. From Deut 12:28, “Observe and hear all these words which I command thee, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee for ever, when thou do that which is good and right in the sight of the LORD thy God.” I read the bible to hear from God and do my best to follow what He presses on me with the circumstances of my particular life. Things are going well with me and life despite normal everyday bad days… deaths, sickness, work stresses. Overall, following God’s ways in everyday life has thing going well. This is really what needs to be preached.
I don’t know what you are on about because you are making assumptions about my supposed assumptions. I do believe from the research I have seen, my university studies, my experience counselling those with an unwanted same sex attraction, from my talks with people who insist that you are born SAD and who cannot provide one scrap of evidence to prove the fact, and the fact that a seminar leader at a conference for homosexuals said “We all know that we are NOT born gay, but we have to convince people that we are, then our demands become civil rights” and Graham Willett who used to edit a homosexual magazine and wrote a book about it said that “being born gay is crap. if you believe that, then you cannot seduce all those good looking straight guys and get them into bed”
that you are definitely not born SAD.
So, you are a senior pastor of a church. What difference does that make apart from blowing your own trumpet. And I am always wary of people who call themselves Rev. Dr. as there is no such position or title in the New Testament. I have four degrees, one bible and three university. So what?
And your arrogant response saying that “I see people quote scripture right and left on this issue, but in reality that is counter to how Christ preached.” suggests you don’t believe that ALL scripture is inspired by God and Jesus lived the scripture so he was preaching it all the time, but I am sorry to say that I am not yet perfect enough to live scripture all the time.
As far as this comment is concerned “It is obvious that some Christians tend to focus so much on one sin…when Biblically sin is sin is sin” my experience is that we focus on whatever sin presents itself to us. Until the homosexuals started assailing the church with their sin to break down the church’s opposition to it, it was rarely mentioned. But I am aware that the scriptures are quite clear that we are told to contend for the truth.
And your final comment “We say that “the truth shall set you free”…but let’s make sure it’s God’s truth and not our own” is the height of arrogance because it suggests that truth is what you believe it to be and that I don’t know what it is.
As you have no doubt gathered I am not one of those wishy washy christians who insist that all we have to do is love and everything will be all right. Jesus was a trouble maker that is why he was killed so I rather emulate his example than yours.
A well known christian, I am not sure if it was Tozer, or Whitfield or one of those saints said if you don’t upset people you are probably not a Christian.
It has been my experience that so much “hate” is based on fear and misinformation. When I was younger, I was so fearful of people who were “different” from me. I remember being at public library and seeing a copy of the American Atheist magazine. I was afraid to touch it, let alone pick it up and read it. So worried, so afraid that God would be mad at me for even thinking about it. Now that I am older (56), I know many atheists, both family members and friends. I learn so much from my conversations with them, because they see the world so differently than I do. What was I afraid of?
Now I relish good information. If I have a question about anything I use a search engine like Google, type in my question and read, read, read, and then think, think, think. Follow link after link after link. Don’t be afraid! Start with your favorite scripture verse and follow the links – you will learn so much. You’ll run across opinions from pastors, from lay people, from liberals, from conservatives, from all over the world! Think about it, pray about it. Trust your heart and your mind.
Because of my many years working as a nurse in hospitals all across the United States, I understand that human sexuality is so much more complex than most people think it is. A quick Google search on the word Intersex will provide you with so much good information.
God loves us all so much – we don’t need to be afraid!
What disappoints and discourages me most, about the church and religion, is that rather than accept the death of Christ as God’s absolute atonement and unconditional gift of Grace for the world, humans choose to forsake the Gospel and add conditions, as if any sin or behavior or as if the law or even the bible, however interpreted, could possibly subvert or limit the power of God’s love for us. Then, the focus is on the scriptures, it’s interpretations, whether or not it is God’s word or man’s, etc. The focus should be on God’s living word, Jesus the Christ, and His call for us to love one another.
As I understand it, love is telling the truth, not telling lies. If a young homosexual said to me that his favourite pastime was barebacking and I said he should enjoy it whenever he can that would be hate because barebacking is the easiest way to get AIDS.
If I really loved him I would warn him of the dangers of it and encourage him to stop doing it.That is what I call love.
The truth is that the HIV is a virus and is transmitted in many ways, both heterosexual, homosexual, and accidental. Viruses can be transmitted through so many ways. Recall that HIV was first recognized and identified in sub-Sahara Africa. Str8 folk get HIV also, who are the largest population worldwide.
You missed the whole point of my post. It was not a discussion as to who gets the virus. It was a discussion how you you can get it in a particular sub culture and what would be a loving response in that particular case.
Wow, but this topic does keep burning bright, seemingly fed by assumptions more than proof and certainly more by fear than love. While God’s Grace and Mercy are beyond human understanding, our nature keeps us trying to define and limit what is limitless, excluding others from what has been freely given to all. Sure, the Bible is filled with “proofs” of anything you wish to prove BUT if you dig into the sociological background of those times AND read words in their proper context in which they were written, you’d never come away with a message of hate. Don’t fail to read and research the passages which proceed and follow those isolated words and then hold any message you are given in front of the Gospel message. Do those isolated words match the over-riding message of love?
Bottom line, we are NOT called to judge. We are called to love. Judging others for ANY reason is simply above our pay grade. Keep in mind that “broken is broken” and no matter how big the sin or type, the result is separation from our relationship with God. That applies to ALL of us and to think otherwise is to make ourselves god and judge, which is far more condemning to ourselves than those to whom we curse and accuse. How many passages on that point can we read most clearly spelled out in scripture?
The problem is that when you try to teach someone Gody ways, no matter how lovingly you go about it, they go reading between the lines like the reason your teaching them this is because you have judge them as sinful and bad and are trying to change them. For example, if you tell me that I should post in a more loving manner, I can take it that you’ve judged me as being unloving and your being hateful of me. There are people who only hear what they read or what is said between the lines. If I say, “The sky is so beautifully blue today.” They hear, “I hate cloudy, rainy days.” So I say,”I also like cloudy and rainy days because rain makes things grow.” They hear, “I would hate the desert.” People read into what oters say that could be true but most likely is not. This is a learned bad habit that has people making incorrect assumptions of others. This turn those who accuse others of being judgmental into the very judgemental people they speak out against.
Wow! I sincerely wish you all well in not judging….er… judging how those don’t judge are in reality judging…er… best I not to say another word. God’s blessing to you all… and I genuinely mean that in a most literal sense… to you ALL. Take that as you will.
Yea, just can’t win. If someone has some angst against someone else, even an honest apology will be taken wrong. Good such circumstances in life are rare.
Funny you should say that as your post is judgmental.
As a Christian, I have found that the people in my church who have most venom toward gays are the same Christians who themselves have the most amount of sexual sin in their own pasts, which they obviously haven’t dealt with. (Taking the splinter out of someone else’s eye while having a log in their own eye as Jesus said.) In short, I find them insufferable.
I have also found them to be glaring hypocrites, welcoming and covering for convicted sex offenders on Megan’s List of sex offenders.
Additionally, most LGBT that I know were sexually abused as children and sexual abuse set them up for stumbling. My senior pastor has made angry tirades against his gay brother-in-law. When I asked my pastor if his brother-in-law had been sexually abused as a child, the answer was “yes” but my pastor was incapable of discussing that in any depth.
Grace, so what is the take away from your post? Don’t be a mean, self righteous hypocrite? Agreed!!!
However, as Adrian Rogers once said, those who use hypocritucal Christians as an excuse not to repent of their sin will spend eternity with those hypocrites!
I understand that many homosexuals have been abused! It’s sad, shameful and something no human being should have to endure. But my guess is that every human being is carrying around some pain from their past. Plato said “Be kind to everyone you meet, they’re fighting a hard battle.” Those who know The Lord have learned/are learning how to take that pain and give it to him (1 Peter 5:7) and learn the peace that comes from receiving and giving forgiveness. Others, deal with their pain by trying to ignore it, suppress it, seek revenge, or drown it in temporary pleasures and shallow relationships. But the one and only answer for filling the empty void in all of us is a relationship with Jesus Christ. And the only way to have a relationship with Jesus is by confessing and repenting if our sin and giving our lives over to him as a living sacrifice.
Those who know The Lord should want to proclaim the good news of the Gospel and save sinners out of the wretched condition they were I once in. How sad that in order to appear loving, open minded and/or save their own reputation, many Christians will not tell people the truth, but would rather confirm people in their sin.
Remember, it’s better to hurt someone with the truth than appease them with a lie. Or as scripture says “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.”
I don’t think that the beat-people-over-the-head-with-The-Gospel-and-point-out-their-flaws-method works. It is a pride-filled, insufferable approach without knowing, or caring, about the person as “a friend”. The people who inspired me to learn about The Gospel lived it out with everyone around them (including countless unbelievers), they were gentle and quiet, they could be counted on, and there was something about how they lived their lives that made me come to them for advice (as well as others).
Spot on. Isn’t interesting, in spite of 2,000 years since the incarnation, we’ve yet to learn the Gospel message… that it’s not the law which wins souls, but love.
@Grace I’m not sure you understood what I wrote. I didn’t say that beating people over the head and pointing out their flaws was the best method! I said that it’s a form of legalism; but the other extreme is called ‘Antinomianism’ or “Against Law.” In other words, the legalists preaches nothing but ‘The Law’ and condemns anyone who does not conform (Like the Pharisees in Jesus’ day) but the Antinomian preaches nothing but ‘love, love, love’ and is very fond of quoting Matthew 7:1 “Judge not….” But both extremes are wrong and unbiblical. We have to tell people the truth about what God calls sin, BUT, we must do it in love! As Paul said, we must speak the truth in love!
Dr. David Jeremiah told a good story that illustrates this point! He said there was a church congregation who fired their pastor and hired a new one. A new comer to the church was inquiring about what had transpired and asked a deacon why they had fired the first pastor. The deacon said because ‘Every Sunday he would tell us if we didn’t repent of our sin we would perish and spend eternity away from The Lord, in hell.” Then the man asked, ‘Well what does the new pastor preach?’ The deacon said, “Oh, he tells us that if we don’t repent of our sin, we will perish and we will spend eternity away from The Lord, in hell.” Puzzled, the man said, “I don’t understand!” The deacon responded, “When our first pastor would preach to us, he was angry and condemning, but when our new pastor preaches to us, he speaks kindly and gently, often crying, as though he is genuinely concerned for our souls!”
“Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.” 2 Corinthians 4:2
“Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.” Galatians 6:1
“For the kind of sorrow God wants us to experience leads us away from sin and results in salvation. There’s no regret for that kind of sorrow. But worldly sorrow, which lacks repentance, results in spiritual death.”
2 Corinthians 7:10
I don’t believe for one second that Thom Schultz, or the comments that support his article, are condoning homosexuality. I may be wrong, but I believe that they are merely confirming what we all know too well, even if we are unable to admit it; that our old method of preaching “Love the sinner, hate the sin” has merely driven those with homosexual inclinations further away from the church, Christianity, and the real truth, which is the love of Jesus “who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth”.
Right now we have a choice to make; we can either carry on beating this drum louder and louder hoping that it will bring a different result, or we can stop, and try a way that is more in line with 1Corinthians13, which by the way, declares that “Love never fails”. I hope I’m wrong, but I often get the feeling that some us of don’t want to change the way we treat those with homosexual inclinations, or to be more precise, don’t want them to be saved, delivered and healed.
After 35 years of ministering to and counselling those who struggle with homosexual inclinations, my own findings show that nearly 50% of them have been sexually abused as a child by a relative or a ‘trusted’ family friend. It’s disgusting that we have made it so shameful and difficult for these young people, who are obviously confused about their identity because of such distorted ‘love experiences’, to seek help from the church and/or Christian counselling. What on earth are we thinking?
At least 20%, particularly those who claim to be born homosexual, could well be victims of hormonal imbalance which was caused while they were still in the womb. The medical research into this is now quite advanced, and those who are genuinely interested in the wellbeing of those who claim to be born this way, can find this research on the internet. Pesticides, herbicides, certain medications, and even some common household detergents can apparently cause this type of hormonal damage to the unborn baby, particularly in the second half of the pregnancy.
Based on my ministry and counselling experience, only 30% of those claiming to be homosexuals fall into the category of those who Paul confronts in Romans. That is, those who lust for perverted sex. Like the Romans and their orgies, this group’s overriding desire is for the unnatural sex, rather than for the unnatural relationships which will eventually lead to unnatural sex. Neither of which are God’s will, but there is a difference.
The root cause of this latter group’s perversion is often found in pornography, even heterosexual pornography, which degrades women and their bodies, and enhances and glorifies the male’s prowess. Indeed, the question that most heterosexual men should ask when they look at pornography is, “Exactly what is it that I’m admiring”? Also, as someone here has already commented, very often those who are most outspoken against homosexuality are those who are battling the most with this type of perverted lust either in thought, or deed (pornography). To them, and them alone, it would not be inappropriate to say, “God loves you, but He hates your sin”.
Thank you, Joe, for your comments underscoring what I also heard in the words flying about. I was startled how quickly we reached a conclusion this was specifically regarding homosexuality. It all comes back to prove Thom’s opening comment, “We love to hate.”
Hi, All. Just for the record: 36 of 56 of the US states, districts and territories, as well as 10 tribal nations, have passed legislation supporting marriage equality, “gay marriage.” It’s the law. There is the religious exemption that non-profit organizations (501c3) may opt-out, and that’s where the haters hide.
People would be pushing to legalize marriage to their dogs if they though they could get a tax exemption for that too.
the article’s title is misleading. There was no attempt to outline a theology of hate nor to evaluate what the scripture actually says about hate. A quick search online reveals that there are 177 references to the english word ‘hate’ in the ESV version of the bible.
Not all of these references are about hating sin, but many are.
Two that stand out include:
Amos 5:15 – Hate evil, love good
Romans 12:9 – Love must be sincere, cling to what is good, hate what is evil
To frame this debate as if all hating is bad is to be unbiblical, it is to lake sincerity (according to Romans 12:9)
You call it topic fixation, I call it insincerity.
If you sincerely love babies, you must hate abortion.
If you love your neighbors, you must hate the sin that enslaves them and which seeks to destroy them.
What we need is not a hate free spirituality. We need carefully directed hate, as the scripture outlines.
That is a theology of hatred…
I believe that the most powerful motivation for the church’s judgmental and hateful attitudes which they so often vocalize is promulgated by the very doctrines from which it seeks to uphold, namely eternal damnation and everlasting torment.
When traditional church doctrine states that God intends to torment men with unending misery in a dark and fiery pit, it makes a statement about a number of things with regard to the nature and character of God. The believer who is “yet carnal” will grab this hatred and run with it, presuming that he is aligned with God’s vengeful future damnation of the unrepentant sinner.
The problem is that the doctrine of hell stands in glaring contrast to the nature and character of God revealed in Christ. We end up with a church that doesn’t know what the hell it stands for. Many will pick up on the “hate” doctrines and justify it according to their truth. Many will find these doctrines a powerful motivation for their actions, which is often to harden their hearts and completely turn their back on this evil world, supposing that their shouts of “you will burn in hell because you are a ??? whatever ” is a loving act… Really!
I’m sure if that were true the good Samaritan would have had his trusty “burn in hell sinner” placard at the ready to shove in the face of a weary, beaten traveller.
If Christ said “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that you may be sons of your Father in heaven” then what He is actually saying is that “God is love” and in judgment God remembers mercy, and that mercy triumphs over judgment.
How can the church reconcile a vengeful hateful god who is determined to inflict eternal misery on one hand with the God of Christ who “loves His enemies” and commands us to do likewise? You cannot! and the result is that the church doctrine often compels the believer to vocalize the hatred which God apparently feels toward the unrepentant sinner.
When the church recognizes the “doctrines of demons” which it has peddled over the centuries, and ceases from speaking ‘boastfully against the most high God” perhaps then we will see a church living out the gospel in truth, which is in the light of His love – not hatred.
By all means hate sin, hate the deeds of the flesh, hate unrighteousness, but may you apply that to yourself primarily knowing that you are loved of God.
I think your remarks about the doctrine of Hell being irreconcilable with the doctrine of a God of love speak volumes, here. It shows why so many people have split in the body of Christ, because of differences in belief that truly are irreconcilable. To simply ignore it and try to move on will not work, because the same issues will continue to come up again. I certainly appreciate Thom Schultz’ peacemaking efforts. We need more visionaries in the church who are not so biased one way or the other.
However, I personally would never attend any church that did not teach that some people are sent to Hell by God. In fact, the Apostles’ Creed says that Jesus went to Hell before being resurrected, and if you do a search of the gospels, you’ll find that Jesus talked about eternal punishment more than he talked about love. I think if we don’t have a doctrine of Hell, there was really no reason for Jesus to die, at all. Why would he need to die save anyone, if everyone is saved? Why would he have to suffer, unless he was trying to save me from suffering? If Jesus did not die, then there was no resurrection, and then “we are of all men most pitiable.”
So, the reasons for people leaving churches are not simple, as “I feel judged.” They are spiritual. Jesus said that he would separate the sheep from the goats. Sheep are docile animals that are easy to control, whereas goats have a mind of their own, and tend to do as they will. That is what I see happening in the church. We should not in any way consider it a bad thing for people to leave the church, unless we are certain we have sinned against them, and especially true if they left because the church refused to approve of sin. It’s true that many evangelicals have been hateful toward gays, divorced people, prostitutes, drug addicts, child abusers, Muslims, and many other types of folks who have tried to go to church. We all need to repent of the part we have played in that picture. But, the problem in the *recent* church has not been that. That was the main issue up to about 20 years ago.
The problem now is that we don’t give anyone a reason to go to church. If people don’t think they’ll go to Hell if they don’t believe in Jesus and live a life of holiness, why would they want to get up early on Sundays? It’s not just this “theology of hate” that is the issue. I’ve been hated by a lot of liberal Christians because I don’t believe that practicing homosexuals should be Christian ministers or marry in Christian churches. However, it has not turned me away from God or Christianity, because I don’t see that as a bad thing, either. Jesus said that if people hated Him (the perfect son of God,) then they would hate me, too. The thing Jesus told me to be careful about is… popularity: “Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.” When everyone approves of you, and nobody hates you, look out! You could be a false prophet.
Will some feel hated because I don’t believe they are qualified for ministry because they have not submitted their lives to the Lord fully? Maybe. But I feel that is their choice. Someone might feel hated because I will not violate my marriage vows by having sex with them. Same type of situation. I have priorities in my life, and I do love everyone. However, as Jesus told us, I have to love God most of all.
So, the issue is not so much how people in the church treat us, but our reaction to it. If someone who is in sin comes to church and feels judged, they do not have to leave the church. They actually have a choice. One choice they could make is to repent of their sins! That is certainly what Jesus said to do. Similarly, when other Christians insult me and call me names and say I’m not really a Christian because I believe unrepentant sinners will go to Hell, I don’t have to be insulted, I can “rejoice and be exceedingly happy,” which is what Jesus said to do in that exact situation.
As a result, I don’t see the destruction of the church as we know it as a bad thing. This must happen, and is what Jesus predicted when he said that “not one stone” would be left on top of another. What are these “stones?” Are they believers? That’s what I think. Satan is sifting us. That is why there are so many Christians hating each other, and other people hating Christians. We live in a special time in which the Lord is clearing out his temple. We should stand firm in what we believe, and I mean it, even if you don’t believe in Hell, or whatever you believe, if you believe it’s from God, stick with it. We should be glad to be rid of the people in the church who were not, sorry to say, true believers. People who come to church but do not believe cause many problems in the body of Christ. Satan uses them to attack us and divide us. We should not be at all sorry to see them go. We should not be at all sorry to see megachurches worth millions go, either. How can the world see us as compassionate if we spend millions on a building and mere thousands on charity? This is a good thing.
The future of the church in the USA will be like the church in China. There will be many church buildings, mostly filled with people who want a feelgood, politically correct message. The real churches, where the Holy Spirit will be moving in a rushing wind and doing miracles will be house churches. I look forward to it. The church will be a community, though a small, persecuted one, again. Thank you for your time, and God bless you all, brothers and sisters. :o)
Excellent brother, excellent, especially the bit that reminds us Jesus spoke more about hell than love. That tells us the important of spelling out the truth.
[…] shows that today’s church is known more for what it hates–what it stands against– than for what it loves or […]
Once upon a time, in a land far far away, I too use to believe the ridiculous fairly tale statements that are pronounced from the pulpits of doom as truth. To say that Jesus spoke more about hell than he did about love is about a corrupt an understanding of the gospel that one can believe.
All of His commandments are according to LOVE.
I don’t mean to sound condemning as I also once held to the devilish doctrines which were set forth to destroy the faith of the saints.
Perhaps in the light of that understanding it might motivate one to re-look at the doctrines of doom which have prevailed throughout the history of the institutional church. And while at it you could ask the Lord for some understanding as to what Daniel meant when he said “The holy people will be delivered into his hands for a time, times and half a time … He’ll speak out against the Most High and wear down the saints of the Highest One”
The time, times and half a time is just about over and the worldly corrupt Pharisaical systems of institutional religion are being revealed for what they really are. How wonderful that the Most High God has used this process throughout history to bring forth his children.
To Him alone be the glory.