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Every Friday I usually give a message on the Torah reading (parashah), but I saw an article in the local paper this morning and feel I need to talk about it, instead.
Some of you may take what I say here the wrong way so please be patient and do not allow yourself to jump to conclusions based on a word or phrase I use. I pray that I will say what I want to say in an effective way.
The article showed a gay pride parade with some of the marchers taking pictures of people on the other side of a police barrier, taking pictures of them. Those on the other side were wearing shirts with words on them such as, “Jesus is the Lord” and “Gay is an abomination.”
The image is clearly that “Christians” don’t like gay people. I believe this is not the image we should be sending.
There is an immediate and effective argument that anyone who is being protested against can use, which is the fallback excuse that the person protesting is “racist.” That word used in that context will almost always deflate the protester’s argument. When we add to it the somewhat extreme actions of wearing shirts that declaim the people and exclaim a “religious” attitude that will only add fuel to the fire of accusations.
I have family members who are gay, and I never stopped loving them for a second. I also never felt “devastated” by their lifestyle. I do not agree with that lifestyle and do not condone it, but I accept that that is who they are. Is homosexuality a sin? Of course it is! …so is lying, so is cheating on your taxes, so is taking that ream of copier paper from work to use at home, and so is gossiping about the neighbors. All of these are sins, and as far as God is concerned, one sin is as bad as another.
There are those that sin on purpose without any sense of remorse or repentance, and they are not going to be forgiven (that makes sense, doesn’t it?); and there are those who sin but don’t want to, and when they repent and remorsefully ask for forgiveness they will receive it (by means of the sacrifice of Messiah Yeshua.)
The world says we should be tolerant of each other, but the world’s idea of tolerance seems to be not just acceptance, but support. I think the world doesn’t really understand what “tolerance” should be. To tolerate something doesn’t mean that you agree with it or that you condone it, and certainly should not in any way indicate support of it; for me, it depends on what we are tolerating. What I mean is this: I tolerate a friend who has a good heart but can be a real pain the neck to deal with sometimes. I tolerate a co-worker who may be lazy but will eventually get the job done with some prodding. I tolerate my cat waking me up 1 hour earlier than I want to be woken up.
What I don’t tolerate is someone who is cruel and unfair. I don’t tolerate injustice or cheating on your spouse. I don’t tolerate bullying or speaking against God. And by not tolerating I mean I will speak up against it, I will take action to stop it, or I will simply walk away and ignore the one doing it.
As for homosexuality, I see it as sin and will not tolerate someone forcing it on another, or someone denying another their right to choose how they will live. And yes- it is a choice; whether it is caused by hormones, it is genetic or for some other reason, the truth is that everything we do in our life is a choice. If someone feels that they are not the gender their body has, they can choose to go with their feelings or to submit to their physicality. I do not say one or the other is right or wrong, only that feeling the way they do they have a choice what to do about it.
I would rather have seen those “Christians” that were protesting the gay rights parade wearing regular clothes and holding up signs that would be more compassionate and understanding. Signs that said, “You do have a choice” or “We don’t love what you do but we can still love you”, or things similar to that form of compassionate disagreement. Protest the sin and do so not in an accusatory way, but in a compassionate, understanding way that still gets across the idea that their lifestyle is not acceptable to God.
Just as with any sin that we come against, we should protest the sin but leave any judgment of that person who sins between that person and God.
The image of a Believer, whether a Christian, Messianic Jew, Hebrew Roots, or whatever should be one of compassionate understanding with intolerance of wrongdoing. It is a delicate balance, a thin line to walk on, but with spiritual maturity and biblical understanding, we can achieve a dialog that will not be accusatory or support a claim of racism.
If we want to stop sin, we must do so in a way that will not turn away the sinner but attract them.
And I don’t know what that is- it probably needs to be determined case-by-case. But I trust in God that the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit) will lead me in a way that can accomplish God’s desire for everyone, which he tells us in Ezekiel 18:23:
Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD; and not rather that he should return from his ways, and live?
God wants everyone to have eternal life…it’s our choice whether we choose that or not.