OLD DIATRIBE


God Loves Gay People


by R.P. Nettelhorst

        There are those who argue that God hates sinners. They have a collection of verses that they like to use, most notably: Psalm 5:5-6, 11:5; Lev. 20:23, 20:13, 26:30; Deut. 32:19; Mal. 1:3 and Rom. 9:13. The fundamental problem with the use being made of these verses is that every last one of them is being taken out of context, both their specific context in place, as well as the broader context of the biblical revelation.
       The Grand Unified Theory (GUT) of Bible interpretation is twofold: love of God and love of people.

Matthew 22:34-40 reads:

        Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question:
        "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?"
        Jesus replied: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." (see the parallel account in Mark 12:28-34)

Paul writes in Romans 13:8-10:

        Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself." Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Or Galatians 5:14:

        The entire law is summed up in a single command: "Love your neighbor as yourself."

And finally James 2:8:

        If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, "Love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing right.

        Any interpretation of the Bible which results in a conclusion contrary to this basic tenant of love is necessarily wrong. No ifs, no ands, no buts. Thus, to suggest that God hates, rather than loves sinners, creates an absurdity: a contradiction with the very theme of the Bible, as well as some very explicit verses, the most basic being Romans 5:5-8:

        And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

One should also consider 1 John 4:19-21:

        We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.

        Thus, the interpretation that God hates sinners, or that he desires to see bad things happen to them, simply is an untenable interpretation of the verses used by the hate groups.
        Some will try to tell me, I suppose, that we are only supposed to love our brother, and who is, our brother, anyhow, but only those who believe like us. I would suggest that those who would react like that are exactly like the expert who, in response to Jesus' suggestion that he should love his neighbor asked "who is my neighbor." Let's look at the story in Luke 10:25-37:

        On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
        "What is written in the Law?" he replied. "How do you read it?"
        He answered: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'"
        "You have answered correctly," Jesus replied. "Do this and you will live."
        But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"
        In reply Jesus said: "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, took him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper. 'Look after him,' he said, 'and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.'
        "Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?"
        The expert in the law replied, "The one who had mercy on him."
        Jesus told him, "Go and do likewise."

        The problem for us moderns is that Jesus' story of the good Samaritan doesn't really resonate with us. What is a Samaritan, anyhow? To put it simply, Samaritans were apostates from Judaism. They were the result of mixed marriages between Jews and pagan idolaters who had moved into Palestine during the period of the Babylonian captivity. Thus, they were worshiping falsely and were considered significant sinners by definition according to the religious establishment in Jerusalem. Thus, they were one of the most despised groups around, according to the religious establishment.
        So let's update things. If Jesus were asked the same question today, his response would be to tell the story of how a Baptist preacher and a famous televangelist ignored the rape victim in the gutter, in contrast to the good gay, black transvestite from San Francisco who helped her.
        If Christians are going to hate the gay community, then they need to be consistent and hate the liars, the backbiters, the gossips, and the hypocrites, too. Maybe put up a few pickets around the neighborhood supermarket that caters to all those gluttons.
        Maybe I just don't get it. Jesus died for sinners. All of us are sinners, and that's what we'll all be -- every last one of us -- till the day we die. Are certain sinners irredeemable? Whosoever will may come, but wait, if you're gay, you've got to clean up your act first? Since when has the church become an exclusive club? Are we supposed to have bouncers at the door making sure everyone has a tie and that they're "the right sort of people" before we let them in?
        Maybe I just don't understand the gospel and the mission of the church. But I don't think so. I think it's the haters that just don't get it.


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