Column: Speaking the truth

There are students at this University, such as James Gilbreath who think the Bible is a compilation of clever sayings, an easy-reference guide for those times in life when a comforting word or deep reflection is needed to make an idea sound wholesome and traditional. Unfortunately, most readers will take their information, and thus, their opinion about the Bible from such people, never wondering if perhaps there is another side to the Story, a truer and more complete side.

Many advocates of the institution of homosexual marriage criticize Christians for their lack of love and compassion. They say that Christianity is a faith of hypocrites who proclaim mercy and grace one day and denounce and judge on the next.

If God is love, then why do we discriminate, right? How dare we say anything is wrong, or imprison anyone for breaking laws? Isn’t “law” just discrimination against people who happen to prefer a “style of life” that society has decided is unacceptable? The fact is that we discriminate every day, and so do society, law and God.

Doesn’t God love liars, thieves, criminals, cheaters, murderers, bad drivers, adulterers and rapists as well as homosexuals? you ask? The answer is an unequivocal yes. As Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” He loves everyone, yet nowhere does he exhort us to tolerate their wrong behavior as a society.

We hear often in our culture that tolerance is the answer, that if we just accept people as they are, as Jesus accepted them, all our problems will be solved. God was and is, in fact, very intolerant. He did not tolerate Adam and Eve’s sin (Gen. 3:1-13), Cain’s fratricide (Gen. 4:8), the Tower of Babel’s existence (Gen. 11:1-8), Moses’ faithlessness (Num 20:11-12), the Hebrew people’s doubt (Num. 14:1-12) or worship of a golden calf (Ex 32:2-10), King Saul’s pride (1 Sam 18:7-11), the Amorites, Hittites, Jebusites (Ex 23:23-24), or hundreds of other individuals, families and even entire nations. All of these were dealt with harshly. Did Jesus accept the Pharisees when he called them a “brood of vipers”? (Matt 12:34) Did he accept the moneychangers when he overturned their tables and drove them out of the temple (Mark 11:15-16)?

Love is actually much deeper than simply putting a stamp of approval on everything set before us. It is united and bound inextricably with Truth. 1 John 3:18 says, “let us not love with words or tongue, but with actions and in truth.” Jesus Himself says, “If you love me, you will obey what I command” (John 14:15). In Romans 12:9 we find this startling statement: “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil, cling to what is good.”

Many people quote the ubiquitous John 3:16 as proof of how much God really loves us, yet fail to realize that the actual verse says, “that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” An essential part of “believing in him” is believing what He said: “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me” (John 14:21). Compassion as the Bible describes it is not moral forgetfulness, but rather an invitation into a relationship where Truth reigns.

You will find no one who disagrees more with the public face of evangelical Christianity than I; the gaudy, worldly, offensive characters we see on TV are allowed to propagate the myth of the crazed, racist Christian while the true believers remain hidden. I in no way support the tactics of many conservatives and Christians today; the intimidation, condemnation and ostracism of gays and lesbians that occurs often in our society is just as wrong.

True love means, however, caring for someone enough to tell them when they’re wrong. My commitment to telling people the truth means that I cannot tell a homosexual person that the Bible regards homosexuality as an acceptable way of life.

I, as a Christian, am called to love homosexuals as Christ first loved me, to accept them as sinners and introduce them to the power and truth of a life-changing relationship with the Savior. And this challenge I accept, but institutionalizing something the Bible clearly says is wrong would be the least truthful and least loving thing I could possibly do. Waving a banner of only truth is callous arrogance, and waving one of only love is misguided sentimentality.

-The writer is a freshman majoring in international affairs.

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