Love Speaks Truth
It is impossible to belong to Christ and simultaneously celebrate sin.
It is true that saints continue to struggle with sin in this mortal body, but struggling with sin is the opposite of celebrating sin. Christians may sometimes stumble into gossip, but a person who willfully embraces gossip is not a Christian. Christians occasionally lose their tempers and fall into sinful anger, but someone who is ruled by unrepentant anger or justifies their ill temper is not a Christian. Every saint carries the same flesh, the same programming, the same capacity to stumble as they did before they were in Christ, but sin is contrary and foreign to who we are now—who we are in Christ. For that reason, a Christian cannot willingly embrace sin; rather, under the conviction of the Holy Spirit who now resides in us, we are sickened by our own sin. We hate and revile it. Because of Christ’s life in us, our will—our inner person—now delights in conforming to the will of God (Romans 7:22). We cannot celebrate that which God condemns. What breaks the heart of the Father can neither please nor satisfy the heart of His child.
The Bible makes it clear, in both the Old and New Testaments, that attempting to worship God while harboring unrepentant sin brings judgment.
When we come to worship and discover that we have sinned against anyone without getting things set right, we must immediately (even if we are already at church, and would, therefore, suffer public humiliation) go to that person and make it right to the best of our ability before we attempt to come before God in worship. (Matthew 5:21-26) If we hold bitterness and anger in our hearts against someone else, God will likewise hold our sins against us and will not forgive us. (Matthew 6:14-15, 18:21-35)
When God’s Old Testament people embraced the sins of the world around them, the Lord was not gentle with His reply. Telling them that He would refuse to hear their prayers, however many they may offer, He commanded them, “Get your evil deeds out of my sight; stop doing wrong. Learn to do right….” (Isaiah 1:11-17) When Israel tried to worship God without turning from their sinful ways, God told them, “I hate, I despise your religious festivals; your assemblies are a stench to me.” He refused to accept their worship. The acceptance and tolerance of sin among God’s people led to public, unrepentant sin among God’s people, which led in turn to God’s judgment being exercised against His people. God did not and does not tolerate the acceptance or celebration of sin by those who bear His name.
It is impossible to belong to Christ and simultaneously celebrate sin.
While this is certainly true of any and all sin, right now our society promotes the celebration of the LGBTQ spectrum of immorality more publicly and ubiquitously than any other. Contrary to many popular books and articles—and even sermons—on the topic, the Bible is exceedingly, abundantly clear: those who embrace homosexuality have no part in the Kingdom of God. This is certainly true of any embraced sin, of course, but the Bible specifically details particular sins, ensuring a clear understanding that they are indeed sins and separate us from God. God’s grace provides redemption and forgiveness in Christ for all sin of any kind when we turn from it to Christ by faith; however, it does not provide a license to continue in our sin nor in our identification with the world. No one can be united to Christ while continuing to embrace sexual immorality, nor can a person be reborn into a new identity as a child of God in Christ while continuing to embrace and celebrate that identity which made them enemies of God. Understanding “queer” or “gay” as terms of self-identification for those who see homosexuality as central to their identity (not referring to a particular attraction or temptation), we must understand that there is no such thing as a “gay Christian”.
Let me be pedantically clear: Celebrating “LGBTQ pride” is absolutely antithetical to faith in Christ and profoundly unloving to those who identify as LGBTQ.
As June approaches, many in our community are promoting “Harbor Country Pride,” a community-wide celebration of the LGBTQ lifestyle and identity. According to harborcountrypride.com, the celebration includes drag queens, “a classic queer film” in Dewey Cannon Park, live music featuring “queer vocalists & musicians,” and “Art Walk—Queer Visual Artists”. Signs are appearing in yards promoting this “pride” celebration. These things, along with the signs promoting the celebration, are not about obtaining civil rights or equality as human beings and citizens; rather, this is a celebration of that which the Lord calls evil.
I recognize that this article is perhaps a bit more blunt than usual. I also realize that it may therefore be offensive to our collective sensibilities, as we are no longer accustomed to direct talk on such matters. Nonetheless, directness is necessary for that very reason. We must understand what is happening, what it means, and how a Christ-follower ought (and ought not) to respond. Perhaps most importantly, we must understand why it matters.
In Isaiah 5:20-21, the Lord declares in regard to His own people, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.”
Paul exhorts Timothy, his protégé in Ephesus, to preach God’s Word with patience and care, “For the time will come when men 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. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4)
These truths emphasize and empower our call to be ever “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15) as we grow into the likeness of Christ, standing behind Paul’s exhortation to live a life that fits our identity as redeemed children of the Most High King (Eph. 4:1). Our daily living is to be a reflection of the reality of who Jesus is—the fullness of grace and truth (John 1:14), the Word of God made flesh (John 1:14), the invisible God made visible (Colossians 1:15).
Speaking the truth in love reflects the two greatest commandments, which are the summary of all the law and prophets: to love God (the ultimate truth) with our whole selves and to love others. Truth without love is abusive; love without truth is a lie. When we withhold truth from someone, especially in matters of life and death—how much more when the matter is of eternal life and death!—we are not loving them; we are, in fact, hating and harming them. When God declares that sinners, specifically including adulterers and those who practice homosexuality, will not inherit the Kingdom of God (as in 1 Corinthians 6:9-20), it requires a particularly evil and insidious kind of hate to celebrate that sin and lead those headed for Hell to believe they have nothing to fear. That is as far from love as east is from west.
To celebrate any such damnable pride—pride in any sinful affront to God, not merely those that are currently being spotlighted—is to celebrate the sinner’s eternal damnation and to demonstrate that we are ourselves are likewise opposed to God’s righteous decrees and damnable. Paul seems to indicate in Romans 1:32 that the tolerance and promotion of public and unrepentant sin is even worse than the sin itself.
Love speaks truth. To that end, I encourage all of us who belong to Christ to avoid any participation in activities or support of businesses that promote and celebrate sin. Make no mistake; there is never any excuse for bigotry, hatred, or injustice among those who bear the name of Christ. However, if we love our neighbors, we dare not contribute in any way to their harm. Celebrating pride in sin and thereby encouraging sinners to continue down a sinful path is the opposite of love. Let us reflect the reality of Christ by demonstrating His full character by speaking—living—truth, with love as both our motive and our manner, to the glory of God and the good of those around us.