Are Christians Hateful and Intolerant Toward Homosexuals?

Posted: April 3, 2013 in Apologetics, Christians & Culture, Homosexuality & Same-Sex Marriage

Tolerance

Christians who disagree with homosexual behavior and same-sex marriage are often branded as intolerant and hateful. But is this a fair assessment? Well, possibly. Let’s first look at the definitions of these words and then compare them to Christian behavior. According to Dictionary.com, to tolerate is to “put up with” or “permit.” Tolerance presumes a disagreement but the willingness to put up with the other’s actions or views. Hate is defined “to feel intense dislike, extreme aversion, or extreme hostility.” Do Christians deserve these labels? Is intolerance or hate ever appropriate?

Classical Christianity is a strong proponent of tolerance, advocating it as essential to Christian behavior. This notion differs from that of many other religions or worldviews. For example, the Islamic faith and communist regimes are often intolerant of differing views, punishing individuals for their dissent. But the Bible teaches that God is concerned with an individual’s change of mind and heart, not merely outward actions. When there is a true change of mind and heart, a change of actions will follow (Luke 6:45). Producing certain actions by sheer force does nothing to change a man’s heart; therefore, Christians should be characterized by tolerance. We disagree with and speak out against behavior that is immoral, yet we tolerate much of the behavior of non-Christians since our primary concern is their mind and heart. Our desire is to see them willingly change their minds by God’s grace, and this only comes through the proclamation of truth combined with love and sound reason, not by legislative fiat. The Christian should be a picture of tolerance – disagreement about the nature of the behavior yet love and a willingness to endure the behavior in hopes of a mind and heart change. A Christian intolerant toward homosexuals is one who does not understand the Gospel of Jesus, the Gospel that changes hearts, minds, and actions.

What about hate? Are Christians hateful toward homosexuals? Unfortunately, the answer to this question is often yes. Professing Christians frequently treat homosexuals with contempt and hostility, hypocritically looking down upon them as the lowest, most vile of sinners. Similarly, the religious people of Jesus’ day often thought of themselves as better than the adulterers, drunkards, and other dirty sinners – they believed they had no need for Jesus. Yet, Jesus said that judgment day would be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah, the cities filled with homosexuality, than for these religious types (Matt. 11:24). Jesus never minimized the sins of individuals, always calling people to leave their sin and follow him, but he never acted hateful toward even the worst of sinners. In fact, these are the very people Jesus spent his time with. The religious crowd ridiculed him for hanging around crooks and prostitutes (Matt. 11:19), yet he came to die for these very people and endure the just punishment they deserved. This is true love. Given Jesus’ life and teaching, how are Christians to live?

“Christian” literally means “Christ follower.” Claiming to be a Christian means you are claiming to be a follower of Christ. Not only do you trust in Him for the forgiveness of your wrongdoings and rebellion against God, but you seek to live life as He commands – following in his footsteps, for He is God. The life of Jesus was characterized primarily by two different, yet complementary aspects: profound teaching of truth regarding life, death, sin, and salvation combined with remarkable acts of mercy, love, humility, and service. Jesus spoke the truth about sin, calling people to turn from their immoral ways and follow Him. But this is only half of the story. He also loved, served, and died for these same sinners.

If you are to be like Jesus, then yes, you must speak the truth of the immorality of homosexuality and call homosexuals to turn from their lifestyle and turn to Jesus, just as you are called to turn from your sin and trust Jesus. But if you expect homosexuals to listen and consider your viewpoint, Christ-like actions must follow your speech. Mimicking Christ’s example, you too must love homosexuals, serve homosexuals, and give your life for homosexuals. Your words are empty and useless preaching apart from love, compassion, and service. As Warren Wiersbe once remarked, “Truth without love is brutality and love without truth is hypocrisy.”

To learn more about this topic and others related to same-sex marriage, please download this free booklet here.

Jordan

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