Another youth pastor and I were talking today about a recent article from Stand to Reason entitled The Myth of Hate, which I linked to on the most recent Saturday Post. In talking with him about it, I was reminded of how important of a piece it was and would like to offer an excerpt from the heart of the article for your edification.
Alan Shlemon writes…
The most common misconception about Christians and homosexuality is that Christians hate homosexuals. Though there are some things Christians have done to contribute to this impression, it’s largely untrue.
I can honestly say I don’t hate or feel animosity towards people who identify as gay or lesbian. Keep in mind that I’m, allegedly, one of those right-wing fundamentalist fanatics who say homosexual sex is sin. I travel around the country teaching about the Christian worldview and often address the topic of homosexuality. I’m the one the media refers to as “a Christian minister who serves up homophobia to congregations across the country.” If there’s any kind of person who is supposed to hate homosexuals, it’s me. I’m the activist.
But I don’t. Not even a little. I have family and friends who identify as gay and lesbian and I love each of them. They come over and spend time with me. There’s no malice. I’m not angry. They’re always welcome in my home…
I realize I don’t speak for every Christian, but I know and have met a lot of Christians across the country. I’ve been travelling and specifically talking about this topic for over a decade. I’ve met Baptists, Lutherans, Catholics, Coptics, Presbyterians, Evangelicals, Seventh Day Adventists, Mennonites, Methodists, Anabaptists, Anglicans, Episcopalians, Orthodox, and others. Guess what? I don’t find they hate homosexuals. In fact, they’re often frustrated that no one believes them that they, as Christ commanded, love all people. Of course I’m not claiming to have performed a rigorous poll. But if hate largely represented the attitude of most Christians, you’d think I’d run into it when I spoke up on homosexuality…
Though Christians agree with the biblical prohibition of homosexual sex, it doesn’t mean we hate people who violate it. This is an important and obvious distinction that seems forgotten. The Bible, for example, is opposed to gluttony, but we don’t hate gluttons. The Bible is against drunkenness, but we don’t hate people who drink too much. The Bible is against pre-marital sex, but we don’t hate people who have sex with their boyfriend or girlfriend. The Bible is opposed to stealing, but we don’t hate thieves. Yes, the Bible is opposed to homosexual sex, but we don’t hate homosexuals.
In fact, the Bible commands us to do the opposite. We’re called to love our neighbor. Indeed, Jesus commands us to love our enemies (Matthew 5:43-44). I’m not saying homosexuals are the enemy – they’re not and I make that clear each time I teach. My point is that we’re not given room to even hate people who are against us. That’s because our enemies are also made in the image of God. They deserve dignity and respect.
May we all remember that opposing a behavior doesn’t entail hating a person.
I commend the entire piece to you.