There may be no religious and political issue as emotionally charged as the issue of homosexuality. People generally think that Christians are bigoted, hateful, homophobic, and downright immoral for preaching against homosexuality. The charge that Christians “hate gays” comes around quite frequently. But is that really true? Do Christians hate gays? Does God hate gays?
The Bible Says To Love The Sinner, But Hate The Sin
While I can’t speak for every Christian, I do think that it’s at least possible to consider homosexuality (or anything else for that matter) a sin and have no hatred towards the sinner who commits the action. There’s a common saying in modern Christendom: “Love the sinner, hate the sin”. As Christians we are called to hate sin. Proverbs 8:13 says “To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.” Psalm 97:10 says “Let those who love the LORD hate evil” Amos 5:15 says “Hate evil, love good; maintain justice in the courts.” So it’s clear that we who love God are to have a hatred towards sin, whatever that sin may be.
However, we are indeed to love the one who commits the action. Jesus said in His Sermon On The Mount “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” – Matthew 5:38-44
Now, I’m not saying homosexuals are the enemies of Christians. But what I am saying is that Jesus is saying here that we are to love those who do evil to us, who even go so far as to torture and kill us for our Christian faith. Now, if we can go so far as to love those who do evil deeds to us, isn’t it possible for me to love a homosexual, whose deeds don’t even affect my life in any way whatsoever? I mean, persecution does affect me! Two men having sex somewhere does not. Homosexual activity has no affect on me whatsoever. And yet, Jesus commands me to love those who do all sorts of evil and unkind acts to me, If I can love those who break my bones and pick my pocket, surely I can love those whose actions don’t affect me.
If we are supposed to go to the extreme of loving even our enemies, we ought also to love homosexuals. This was a precedent that Christ himself set down for us, for when the Jewish leaders asked why it was that he was breaking bread with guilty sinners, he replied, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”- Matthew 9:12-13
If that wasn’t enough, consider this analogy; Can a parent love his child even when he does things he doesn’t like? If the child consistently disobeys the parent, throws temper tantrums, and the like, does the parent hate his child just because he hates his behavior? Most of you who are parents would answer with a strong “NO”! You love your child even though you hate his behavior. You love the person, but hate his actions, right? Well, in the same way, God hates homosexual activity but loves the person committing the action. Those who hold up signs saying “God hates gays” are holding up signs of blasphemy. God hates no sinner. He loves all sinners so much that He gave His only son to keep them out of Hell (John 3:16). Romans 5:8 says that God demonstrated His love toward us “while we were still sinners” by dying on the cross to atone for our sins. God hates sin, but God loves sinner. Christians should be the same way. And in fact, The Bible calls us to do so.
I think John chapter 8 shows us how we should deal with the issue of Homosexuality. While this may not be a divinely inspired text (since it was a later addition in the manuscripts and likely not part of the original gospel of John), I think it nonetheless can teach us how to be loving and kind towards those living in sin while not pretending that what they do is not sinful.
In John 8, a woman who committed adultery was brought before Jesus. The Pharisees asked Jesus “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” (verses 4 and 5). They were saying this to trip Jesus up (verse 6). They wanted to have some basis for accusing Him. Jesus then bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”(verse 7). Jesus told them that unless you have lived your entire life without sinning, you don’t have the right to condemn anyone else who have sinned. You cannot condemn someone. Everyone there was honest with themselves, they dropped their stones and went away (verse 9). Eventually, only Jesus and the adulteress woman were left. Jesus asked “Has anyone stayed to condemn you?” and the adulteress answered “No.” Then Jesus responded “Then neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin.” (verse 11) .
Jesus treated the woman who committed adultery with love, kindness and compassion. He would not let the people stone her. But nonetheless, when they all left, He told her to “leave her life of sin”. He showed her love and kindness, but He did not shy away from stating that what she did was indeed a sin (as evident from His command to her to leave her adulteress ways). We should deal with homosexuals in exactly the same way. Let’s not pretend that homosexuality isn’t a sin. It is (read Romans 1:26-28, 1 Corinthians 6:9-11, 1 Timothy 1:10). But we are to be loving towards them. Love is patient and kind (1 Corinthians 13:4). Anyone who shows contempt for homosexuals is not treating the homosexual the way Jesus would.
The Bible Teaches That Those Who Have Hatred In Their Hearts Aren’t Saved
Any truly born again Christian will have no hatred in their hearts for anyone. God is love (1 John 4:8). Therefore, if one has hatred in their heart, one cannot have God in their heart. Light and darkness cannot exist in the same place at the same time. Likewise, love and hatred cannot exist simultaneously.
The Apostle John uses some pretty damning language about people who have hatred in their hearts. He says that anyone has hatred in their hearts is a murderer at heart and that no murderer has eternal life in him. He also says that those who are walking in hatred are walking in darkness.
“If anyone claims, “I am living in the light,” but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is still living in darkness. Anyone who loves another brother or sister is living in the light and does not cause others to stumble. But anyone who hates another brother or sister is still living and walking in darkness. Such a person does not know the way to go, having been blinded by the darkness.” -1 John 2:9-11
“We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.” – 1 John 3:14-15
“If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we cannot see?” – 1 John 4:20
Obviously, if you carry hatred in your heart, you are not saved. If you have hatred in your heart, you’re a murderer at heart (1 John 3:14-15), you’re walking in darkness (1 John 2:9-11), and you’re a liar when you tell God that you love Him (1 John 4:20). Loving everyone is a command from God (Matthew 5:44, Matthew 22:37-40).
In conclusion, it’s possible to consider someone’s lifestyle or actions sinful without having any hatred towards the one committing the action. We can love the sinner, and hate the sin. Whether that sin be sex out of wedlock, homosexuality, taking the Lord’s name in vein, or any other biblically prohibited actions. I don’t hate homosexuals any more than I do people who take God’s name in vein on a regular basis. I don’t hate homosexuals anymore than couples who have sex out of wedlock on a regular basis. I don’t hate homosexuals any more than people who watch Pornography (Matthew 5:28). There are many sins and homosexuality is just one of them. One among many. And we are all sinners (Romans 3:23). I don’t have a right to look down on people just because they might sin differently than I do. I’ve got my own sinful struggles to deal with. Not Homosexuality, but things the Bible nevertheless prohibits (e.g a nasty cursing habit). I can cast no stones.
There have probably been cases where Christians have treated homosexuals harshly. I don’t doubt it. In these cases though, these “Christians” have offended God just as much they offended the homosexual. When we preach against the sin of homosexuality, we need to be very careful that we don’t come off as hateful. I’m not saying we need to water down the biblical teaching about homosexuality, just that we need to be gentle. Proverbs 15:1“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” If anyone gets offended, let it be because of the content of your message (i.e “Homosexuality is a sin”) not because of the way you present it. We can speak the truth, but we MUST do it in love (Ephesians 4:15). If you can’t speak the truth in love, remain silent.