QUESTION: I know as believers, we are supposed to love one another and not be judgmental, but where do we draw the line? How do we love someone who is homosexual without condoning their sin? I hear a lot of "Christians" supporting homosexuals and quoting Scripture about how we shouldn't be judgmental and it all gets confusing. Please help me gain some biblical perspective on how God views this.
The recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court concerning equal rights for same-sex marriages has a lot of people talking, and the challenging part is when Christians disagree. It can cause a lot of confusion. Let’s see if we can clear things up a little.
Do Not Judge
It is true that the Bible says we are not to judge, but if you read the entire passage (something very few people take the time to do) you quickly discover that Jesus was talking about making hypocritical judgments. In other words, judging someone for something when you’re guilty of the same thing! It’s found in Matthew 7:1 and verses following.
Many Christians naively believe that we are never to judge anyone or anything. That’s just not true. Later on in the very same chapter of Matthew, Jesus spoke of making judgments by testing the fruit of certain individuals to make sure they were genuine. And later in John’s Gospel account, Jesus is actually quoted as saying: “Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment." John 7:24 And in the Gospel of Luke He said: “Why don't you judge for yourselves what is right?” Luke 12:57. Funny, when people are yelling “Judge not!” they somehow miss those passages.
You simply can’t go through life without making judgments. It’s not possible. We all judge things every day which we must do to make good decisions. If a mother, struggling to contain her toddler in public, was approached by a very suspicious looking stranger offering to help her, would you tell that mother it’s wrong to make a judgment about the stranger and just to hand her child over? Of course not! Since she’s responsible for the safety of her child she is required to make many judgments throughout a single day.
Let’s be clear about something: if you and I communicate to others that we have made an assessment about homosexuality based on God’s Word, we’re not going to be showered with praise. In fact, people will use the opportunity to mock and ridicule our beliefs. There’s nothing we can do about that—it’s just the way things are. But what we can do is have the right attitude.
Speaking the Truth in Love
Because we assess something to be right or wrong or good or bad doesn’t mean we are free to condemn the people who do those things. Jesus is recorded as saying: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:17. If Jesus didn’t come to condemn then neither should we. Our job is rather to point people to the cross.
Christians should be marked by a gentle and tender spirit toward homosexuals and their concerns. Jesus died for them no less than for anyone else, and we need to convey God’s intense love every opportunity we get.
Should we support Homosexual Marriage Rights?
That’s a political question and I have no expertise in that arena. You need to do what your conscience tells you before the Lord. But I want to caution and exhort all Christians: before you weigh in on these matters, you need to be thoroughly acquainted with what the Bible says about homosexuality and you need to pray for wisdom and clarity.
So is it Wrong to Call Homosexuality Sin?
Our modern cultural climate has created a hostile environment for labeling anything as sinful. I once had someone tell me it was hateful and cruel to say that anything someone did was wrong. (Let me be quick to add that I don’t consider it my job to go around telling people they are wrong or sinful…but quite often the subject comes up about what the Bible says or doesn’t say.) So, are we wrong to even communicate such things?
The Gospel of John recounts a time when Jesus was confronted with a woman caught in the act of adultery. The people standing around Jesus wanted Him to condemn the woman and consent to her death. But Jesus responded quite differently. He spoke gently to the woman and told her that He did not condemn her. But He didn’t stop there. Do you recall what else He said? It was: “Go now and leave your life of sin.” John 8:11b. Jesus’ lack of condemnation was not a declaration of approval of or agreement with her sinful lifestyle. He refused to condemn her, but He also refused to leave her with any kind of confusion concerning the act in which she had been involved. That’s the kind of balance we’re needing.
Let me end with a wonderful quote:
Like it or not, same-sex marriage is headed for your community. This is no time for fear or outrage or politicizing. It’s a time for forgiven sinners, like us, to do what the people of Christ have always done. It’s time for us to point beyond our family values and our culture wars to the cross of Christ as we say: “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” —Russell More