|Warning is not hate by Bill Muehlenberg|
Warning is not hate
by Bill Muehlenberg
I hear this all the time, not just from activists on the other side, but from rather confused believers as well: “Bill, you are being hateful when you speak against homosexuality,” or “Bill, you are showing hate to others when you warn them about what they are doing”.
Homosexual activists parrot this “hate” foolishness all the time. I guess we expect them to do so. But it is quite woeful when Christians say the same thing. They ought to know better. To warn a sinner about his ways and to plead with him to avoid the path of destruction is the height of love, not hate.
The opposite of love is indifference, not hate. When you are loving in the biblical sense, you cannot be indifferent to the lost, to the plight of those heading the wrong way, to those in danger of hell. To love such people means you will warn them, you will do everything in your power to get them off the road to ruin.
It is only when you have no regard for someone that you will not think of his welfare—both temporal and eternal. Thus, the Christian who pleads with the homosexual to be set free from his dangerous lifestyle is acting out of love.
We are to do this with all sinners of course. Whatever the sin, we are to seek to alert them to their peril, and point them to the Saviour. That is always the loving thing to do. Saying nothing is not loving at all. That simply makes you complicit in their sin and makes you complicit in their fate.
People will claim we are making people feel guilty when we point out their sin. They say this is hateful and leads to self-loathing. But what does self-loathing have to do with offering biblical warnings? The truth is, all sinners deep down feel this way—and well they should.
Sin of course leads to feelings of guilt—that is how God made us. There is no salvation until we first see ourselves as God sees us: sinners under his wrath who need to repent and flee from our sin. So, speaking biblical truth may well stir up guilt, anger and other responses—that always happens when sinners are confronted with biblical truth.
Equally unhelpful is the argument about the church making homosexuals feel guilty. Of course they feel guilty—and that is because they are guilty. They, like all other sinners, know that what they are doing is wrong, and they get angry when this is pointed out to them.
Some mixed-up believers also make a false and unbiblical distinction between speaking the truth about homosexuality and winning homosexuals to Jesus. But both activities should go together—there is no other way in fact. Before sinners can be won to Christ, they first must realise they are sinners separated from God heading for a lost eternity.
That is why Christ came. If we don’t speak of sin first, we have no reason to speak of grace and salvation later. The latter depends on the former. Until the sinner realises the gravity of his sin and the seriousness of his situation, he will not see his need for a Saviour.
Yes, it is the job of the Holy Spirit to bring conviction to the hearts of sinners. But it is the job of the Christian to share biblical truth with them. The Holy Spirit always works in conjunction with the preaching of the Word. So, to really love homosexuals or other sinners is to share biblical truth, regardless of any negative reactions on their part.
Mixed-up believers should also spare us this nonsense about “hating homosexuals”. To warn of the dangers of, say, drug addiction does not mean you hate the addicts. You can rightly hate the drugs which are destroying people and sending them to an early grave, while loving the individual trapped in this mess. We all can hate the damage alcoholism does to a person, while still loving the alcoholic at the same time. So what is hateful about telling individual homosexuals that their lifestyle is dangerous, high risk, and possibly life-threatening, and that they need to flee from it?
What is hateful about telling sinners that their sin is something they must flee from if they want to get right with God? That is a primary task of the Christian. That is why Jesus appointed the first disciples to preach the gospel to all nations. ...
And these folks are wrong to say that we are too focused on sexual immorality. Not only did Jesus speak much about this form of sin, but he made it quite clear to the woman caught in adultery that in order for her to receive the forgiveness of God, she had to “go and sin no more”.
There was no cheap grace, no saying she could just remain in her sin and her sinful lifestyle. Jesus never tolerated sin, he never minimised sin, and he never sidestepped sin. He dealt with it head on, knowing that until a sinner sees his need and repents, he is heading for a lost eternity.
I get these criticisms all the time from homosexual activists. But they should not be coming from those calling themselves Christians. It is time for these believers to start thinking biblically, and not embrace the false ideas and faulty mindset of the world.
We must love people enough to warn them about their sin and their fate if they remain unrepentant in it. That is not being hateful but loving.