Common Misunderstandings About Christians
In the ongoing discussion about same-sex marriages (now decided by the Supreme Court) I keep hearing two charges against Christians that are misunderstandings of Biblical teaching. Most of those who spout these things are just blindly repeating what they have heard others say making no attempt to understand the Christian perspective. We live in the age of Google and other search engines so it’s not very hard to search the topic and get some different perspectives.
The first charge I hear against Christians is that we are not to judge anyone. They know that somewhere in the Bible is a command to not judge.
Do not judge so that you will not be judged. “For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.… (Matthew 7:1)
The problem with the use of this verse is that it needs to be understood in it’s context. This verse deals with situations where we judge either with improper motives, without knowing someone’s heart, or by making up a requirement and then expecting others to live up to it. The Pharisees in Jesus’ time were famous for this. To apply Scripture and call something sin that God has called sin is NOT judging. That is simply applying Scripture and standing up for right and wrong. We are called to be light and salt to our generation and we can’t fully do that if we never speak out against sin or evil.
Although the origins of this quote are still under debate, this famous quote (though not from the Bible but certainly based on Biblical principles) applies here:
The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
Winston Churchill used this quote during WWII. As Christians in an increasingly secular and godless world we must “do something.” That “something” is to proclaim the Gospel and at times to confront sin and evil and call it what it is. Our aim should always be to lead men to repentance not to just go off on them and then feel smug and superior. At the same time we live in a world that puts tolerance and acceptance about all else. We are turning perverse into diverse. Perversity into diversity. If we fail to (lovingly) proclaim the truth soon there will be no one doing so. Society is like the frog in the water that is slowly heating up until it’s boiling. The frog’s body adjusts to the increasing temperature to a degree then suddenly it is killed by the boiling water. The more sinful actions are accepted as “normal” by society the easier it will be to get new sinful actions accepted.
Jesus told us to count the cost and that devotion to Him would at times lead to persecution. We should not be surprised then if we are attacked for opposing things like same-sex marriage. We will be told we are ignorant, bigoted, intolerant, hateful, etc. We may lose friends over it or customers. It is precisely at this time that we cannot fail to be a witness and stand up for what is right no matter what the cost. I love how Billy Graham recently put it: “Our society strives to avoid the possibility of offending anyone – except God.” How true.
The second misconception is that Christians are to love everyone. That IS true but you can love someone and still believe they are living in sin. In fact sometimes the loving thing to do is to warn someone of the consequences of their actions. Parents love their children yet at times must deny them things or make them do things they don’t like. We do it out of love for our children because we know what’s best for them. Likewise we have to sometimes pull a friend aside and share something about them that they may not like hearing but we know they need to hear. Just avoiding anything someone might not like to hear is not love. Love wants what’s best for that person not just what they want. We are to “hate the sin but love the sinner.” Love does not mean condoning any action anyone takes. You can love your neighbor in many ways yet still disapprove of his actions.
When Jesus was left alone with the woman caught in adultery He showed grace and forgiveness and love yet He still told her to “go and sin no more.” Likewise Jesus told the woman at the well that the man she was living with was not her husband. He did not stay silent on that. Jesus got violent when confronting the money changers in the Temple. Was that a failure to love on Jesus’ part in any of those 3 situations? No!
We must gently correct those who throw these charges around. We must do a Peter wrote:
“always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;” (1 Peter 3:15)
Let us be loving yet firm and stand up for the truth. Let us remind the world that God is still on the throne and will be The Judge.