I attended the Massachusetts Constitutional Convention earlier this month. But let me be clear – I was not there to hold up an Adam and Eve, NOT Adam and Steve sign. One of my pastors and I went there to share Christ with those on the other side.
I stood, as I did at previous Conventions, on the LGBT+ side of the street. I did so not only to share Christ, but to get a close-up look at how they see evangelicals. If they will not come to our churches because they expect to hear hate, then the only time they encounter us is on the front lines of events like this.
I am pleased to say that I met many evangelicals who also stood on the LGBT+ side of the street to share the Gospel. Yet these numbers were few compared to the hundreds and hundreds standing across the street holding up various signs and chanting counter-slogans expressing their opposition to gay marriage.
For readers not familiar with the Massachusetts situation, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled on November 19, 2003 that gay marriage is legal. A united evangelical and Catholic effort gathered over 160,000 signatures to get the issue on the 2008 ballot so that the people of Massachusetts can vote on this issue. This was the largest number of signatures ever gathered for any ballot initiative in state history. But in order for this issue to actually make it to the ballot, the state legislators would have to approve it being on the ballot in three separate votes.
Despite many political delays, the ballot initiative passed the first two votes. On this day, the third vote was being conducted. The political part of this story is not the purpose of this article. I will, however, say that an expected third affirmative vote failed on this day and this failure to pass it a third time doomed the entire ballot initiative. This is for reader interest only…
Again, my purpose was not the politics…my purpose was to evaluate how they see us on the front lines of the Culture War since they will not come to our churches. What they see are picket signs. What they hear are chants. As I often say, the Gospel does not translate well in a Culture War.
After an hour, I decided to go on the Christian side of the road. I stood there for only a few moments when a man (who will remain nameless) tapped me on the shoulder and asked, So what do you think about those people over there? I replied, I think Jesus loves them. How about you – what do you think about them? He replied, I think they are what the Bible calls them – an abomination.
More than surprised, I turned toward him and asked, If they are an abomination, then what are the high numbers of evangelical men who struggle with internet pornography? He replied, Well actually, I struggle with porn myself. But Jesus knows that I had a tough childhood…He understands why I fall into this porn. I said, Yes, He is quite a God of mercy isn’t He?
I was very intrigued with the conversation at this point so I asked, And what about the high numbers of evangelical marriages ending in divorce? This man said, Well, actually I’ve been divorced 2 or 3 times. I asked, Two or three? He said, Um, three. I said, But Jesus is a God of great mercy isn’t He? The man replied, Absolutely! I praise Him for His great mercy…
I then asked a simple question: in light of His incredible mercy in the midst of our sinfulness, do you think there’s a chance that ANY of those young people over there are Christian? The man coldly replied, Absolutely not. They’re an abomination in the sight of the Lord…
That concluded my conversation with this man. But it left me deeply convicted about Christ’s warning to us in Matthew 7: Do not judge or you too will be judged. For with the measure you use, it will be measured unto you.
I recently heard a well-known pastor on the radio say, I’m tired of people saying ‘do not judge, do not judge.’ We’ve gotten to a place where we cannot even call sin what it is anymore. I highly respect this noted Bible teacher and I understand his frustration. There is a sense in which any attempt to call sin ‘sin’ is refuted and rebuffed at every turn.
Despite my agreement with him on one level, there is another level in which I fall back on Jesus’ warning. I do so for this reason: Christ did not say, Do not judge or you too might be judged. He did not say, Do not judge unless you’re a born again Christian. He did not say, For with the measure you use, it might be used against you. Jesus simply said, Do not judge or you WILL be judged. With the measure you use, it WILL be measured unto you. No matter who you are.
My own faith story reveals my theology: I believe same-sex relationships are sinful. I have no problem saying that even though we live in a culture where that is a highly offensive thing to say. That said, there is a long history attached to saying the homosexuals are sinning; the history is attached to a spirit of condemnation…the message we have conveyed to many is that they are most definitely going to hell.
I have no problem discussing hell. I believe there will be a hell and that many will go there. LTH attempts to strike a peacemaker, conciliatory tone not to deny hell; but because I believe in hell. I believe that those who do not receive Christ will spend eternity separated from God; this is what Jesus taught. I may not like this, but it is what Jesus taught.
All this said, my point is that we go about our adulteries…our pornographies…our divorces…our work addictions…our materialism…and we claim God is merciful and forgives us. We say He understands that we are but sinners and thus understands that we will do these things. But for the homosexual, we don’t extend this same God of grace. Instead, we present a God who is ready to judge them.
My friends, when we do this, we are doing the dangerous business of using a measuring stick to measure the salvation (or lack thereof) in others. Christ warns us over and over again against doing any such thing. He told the parable about the man forgiven a debt of millions who then proceeded to strangle another man over a few dollars. Jesus says that this man was rounded up by the man who had forgiven him the millions…and he was locked up for the rest of his life.
When we remove God’s grace for others, God may well remove His grace for us. That may cut against our eternal security doctrine, but Jesus was very, very clear on this point. This doctrine is so pointedly clear in Christ’s teachings that I dare not even judge this man from the front lines of the Culture War. He, too, is in need of the same grace that God has offered me…