During the fight for traditional marriage over the past two years, I encountered a troubling phenomenon among some evangelical Christians. A goodly number, including some pastors, couldn’t bring themselves to defend marriage, because they had the notion that this would be offensive to homosexuals. Some even held that to defend the truth of marriage was to act in a hateful way towards gays and lesbians. It is my deepest conviction that such sentiments are a sign of distorted theology and an accommodation with sin in the culture.
My great concern is that political correctness has found a foothold even in the evangelical church. Some evangelicals are even beginning to sing from the mainline denominations’ old liberal hymnbook that has only one hymn and one unbalanced tune – “God is love, He loves everybody unconditionally and has an endless toleration for sin. Finit. Kaput. End of story.”
A key source of confusion is the erroneous belief that to expose sin is the same thing as condemning the sinner, and that to do this publicly is tantamount to spreading hatred. But is the exposure of sin the same thing as spreading hatred? Or is it more likely that theologically naïve believers are allowing the accusations of the other side to colour their own judgment?
For many earnest Christians see it as an absolute duty to warn sinners of all stripes about their sin. They hold, in fact, that God has given them the duty to expose sin as it is defined in the Bible. And they would recoil at the charge that this is “spreading hatred.” They would say that to speak the truth of the Bible concerning sin, far from being “hatred,” is in fact, a loving act.
To be sure, many on the other side will take offence at the biblical truth that brings conviction of sin and may accuse the proclaimer of being a “hater,” but any fair-minded person should see this for the nonsense that it is. Is it not a common ruse for children to accuse parents of hating them when mom and dad deny them something they would like to have? Wise parents will ignore the diversionary tactics and focus on truly loving their children by denying them that which will harm.
Wise evangelicals will likewise ignore the fraudulent claims of “hate” and will boldly speak the Gospel of Christ. It should not escape our attention that even in the days of the early church, Christians were accused of being “haters of men.” For they adamantly insisted on preaching the morality of the Scriptures, which was counter-cultural even in that day.
It seems to me that evangelicals are in danger of forgetting that they are to preach the whole Gospel. And the whole Gospel includes the teaching of repentance from sin. The well-known historian on revivals, J. Edwin Orr, once told me, “The first word of the Gospel is repentance.” Repentance literally means “a change of mind” and, as used in the New Testament by Jesus, the apostles and in the preaching of the early church, always meant a turning from sin and a turning to Christ. In short, you can’t truly preach the good news of Christ until you preach the bad news about man – we are all sinners and need to repent.
If evangelicals are going to be faithful to the Gospel as it has been given, we must never, never, never abandon our duty to teach about and expose sin, both in our own lives and in the lives of those who share our culture. And we must reject the silly notion that the exposing and defining of sin is somehow an expression of hatred. Jesus rebuked the sin of the woman taken in adultery when he said, “Go and sin no more.” Surely, he is astonished by those modern Christians who scruple to speak such words because they are somehow “hateful.”
In this dangerous age of compromise Christians must beware of apologizing for the truth of the Gospel. Ours is a revealed religion; it was given to us. To hide or mute core elements of the faith is simply not an option.
Some believers, unjustly accused, have already been hauled before various courts and tribunals. Their crime has been to speak light into darkness. The darkness squinted, was offended and called in the state. Should we be embarrassed at standing by the likes of these accused? I think not. Let pastors and all leaders put aside their timidity.
Let us defend the rights of Stephen Boisson, Chris Kempling, Hugh Owens, Bill Whatcott and Bishop Fred Henry. These accused have faithfully exposed modern-day sin disguised in the new cloth of “human rights.” They are merely first fruits of a fresh persecution.
Surely, it is honourable to stand with these faithful in the dock. Our own turn may be nearer than we think.