**Today's post was written by Ryan Sarpalius. He is a Human Performance Manager for the largest utility in California. He graduated from The Master's College in Santa Clarita, CA and currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has a wife, Candace, and three children, Owen (age 6), Ella (age 5), and Jack (age 7 mo.). Ryan writes for the blog Witherless.**
Last week President Obama finally came out and decided he was for same-sex marriage. It was not exactly surprising, but it has stirred the waters again within the Church regarding homosexuality, marriage, justice and Jesus.
Here’s what Obama said to ABC News:
"[My wife and I] are both practicing Christians and obviously this position may be considered to put us at odds with the views of others but, you know, when we think about our faith, the thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it's also the Golden Rule, you know, treat others the way you would want to be treated."
I’m not here to pick apart what Obama has said (enough great articles have been written on the implication of his assertions), but instead my aim is to use it as a launching point to something very crucial about the way Christians ought to view sexual brokenness.
The Golden Rule
The “Golden Rule” is what a lot of well-meaning Christians (and non-Christians) do their best to follow in their every day lives. It’s posted in kindergarten classrooms, invoked by moral citizens and quoted by powerful people like the President of the United States.
So what is the Golden Rule? It comes from Matthew 7:12 where Jesus says:
“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”
We must be careful not to downplay what Jesus is saying here. He is after the principle that we ought to be caring toward others and treat them with dignity and respect. We ought to fight for justice for everyone and for that which promotes human flourishing. We ought to show love to one another in treating them in a way we ourselves would like to be treated.
But is the Golden Rule really helpful when it comes to the discussion of homosexuality, “gay-marriage” and social justice?
Life For The Few
If these words were the only Jesus said, the world would have no problem with Him. And in fact, many people view this as the summary of all that Jesus taught. And, as we know, many moral people who fight for justice and equality love Jesus.
But you can love Jesus and refuse to call Him Lord, accepting everything He said.
We don’t have to go far to see Jesus’ polarizing words as He begins to become a little more exclusive. Verses 13 and 14 of Matthew 7 read,
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”
The unpacking of what Jesus is saying here would take more space than this article will allow, but the point is that the more you read of Jesus’ words, the more we see it’s not so simple as “treat others the way you would want to be treated.”
We have to take Jesus in His entirety if we are going to do Him justice.
I’ve written before about why homosexuality (including homosexual desires, temptation, etc.) is a brokenness resulting from sin. But the truth is, we’re all sexually broken, aren’t we? Left to ourselves, we would all pursue our own fleshly desires. The majority of us are broken in a heterosexual way, but many of us in other “unnatural” ways.
It’s interesting that Obama says, “…not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it’s also the Golden Rule.” Without knowing it, I think Obama actually stated the real hope for the world of sexual brokenness in the first part of his statement, not the second.
Christ sacrificed himself on our behalf. This (with its proper context) is the good news of the Gospel! It’s not that we can have a utopian society of equality if everyone will just treat each other with respect. While treating each other with respect is beneficial and God honoring, it’s not what will fix our brokenness. It’s not what will give us life.
The Truth Will Set You Free
In another often quoted verse (even by non-Christians), Jesus said, “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” It’s from John 8:31-32:
“So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, ‘If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’”
Freedom from sexual brokenness comes in the truth that Jesus is the way to life in that He has died in our place to take the penalty (of God’s wrath) that we all deserve and that He can grant eternal life that begins at the moment of salvation.
Freedom from sexual brokenness comes from the promise that He will be with us to the end of the age (Mt. 28:20) and has given us His Spirit (Ep. 3:16; 2 Tim. 1:7) to live in us and encourage our souls.
Freedom from sexual brokenness comes from a submission to Jesus as Lord and the hope that we have of peace with Him in everlasting life (Rom. 5; Jn. 3:16).
We need to see the connection between the good news of the Gospel and the way we treat others. If we can, by God’s grace, consistently remind ourselves and one another of the astounding love Jesus has for us (as demonstrated in His loving sacrifice on our behalf), we can begin to see everyone in the same two categories as we ourselves must be in; these two categories are separated from God in our sin or at peace with God in Christ’s righteousness.
The more we saturate our lives and our hearts and our minds in the Gospel of Jesus, the more this loving good news will seep out of us. Like a sponge that is full, we must be ready to wring out God’s loving grace to those around us when we’re squeezed by the pressure of this fallen world.
We are all equally in sin apart from Jesus. All of us. The homosexual. The heterosexual. The married. The single. Male. Female. Rich. Poor. And we are all equally offered this message of redemption in Christ Jesus.
Some Christians are rightly frustrated by Obama’s comments. And some are encouraged by them because they have, what I believe, to be a very good and loving heart that desires to honor Christ by showing love to those around us living a homosexual lifestyle.
Regardless of where you land, the aim should be to love like Jesus. And to love like Jesus, we must know Jesus. We must understand that He is God and that His message of redemption runs much deeper than just the Golden Rule.
As Christians we have more to offer the sexually broken than just respect and equal civil rights. We have the offer of everlasting life.