The biblical phrase “God is love” is sometimes used to chastise Christians for “condemning” people by teaching that certain behaviors are sinful. Of course the fact that “God is love” should affect everything we say and do, but before we can draw any conclusions from the phrase, we must first understand what God’s love looks like. Kevin DeYoung explains:
[W]e cannot settle for a culturally imported understanding of love. The steadfast love of God must not be confused with a blanket affirmation or an inspirational pep talk. No halfway responsible parent would ever think that loving her child means affirming his every desire and finding ways to fulfill whatever wishes he deems important. Parents generally know better what their kids really need, just like God always knows how we ought to live and who we ought to be. Christians cannot be tolerant of all things because God is not tolerant of all things. We can respect differing opinions and treat our opponents with civility, but we cannot give our unqualified, unconditional affirmation to every belief and behavior….
God is love, but this is quite different from affirming that our culture’s understanding of love must be God. “In this is love,” John wrote, “not that we have loved God but that he has loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). Love is what God did in sending his Son to be our substitute on the cross (Rom. 5:8). Love is what we do when we keep Christ’s commands (John 14:15). Love is sharing with our brothers and sisters in need (1 John 3:16–18). Love is treating each other with kindness and patience (1 Cor. 13:4). Love is disciplining the wayward sinner (Prov. 3:11–12). Love is chastising the rebellious saint (Heb. 12:5–6). And love is throwing your arms around the prodigal son when he sees his sin, comes to his senses, and heads for home (Luke 15:17–24).
The God we worship is indeed a God of love. Which does not, according to any verse in the Bible, make sexual sin acceptable. But it does, by the witness of a thousand verses all over the Bible, make every one of our sexual sins changeable, redeemable, and wondrously forgivable.
God’s love does not look like “blanket affirmation.” This is what God’s love looks like:
Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. (John 4:7-11)
God’s love didn’t affirm and celebrate everyone’s choices. God’s love acknowledged sin. God’s love suffered for the sins of others. God’s love sought repentance and redemption. In the same way, for Christians, the goal of warning people about sin isn’t to condemn, it’s to redeem.
It’s easy to affirm someone’s behavior and go on your way. It’s much harder to act as Jean Lloyd exhorts us to act in an article about her former sexual sin:
Although I appreciate the desire to act in love, [automatic affirmation] isn’t the genuine love that people like me need. Love me better than that! … Don’t compromise truth; help me to live in harmony with it.
This cry should be echoed by each and every one of us, because each of us is a sinner living among sinners. Loving in this way involves effort, sacrifice, and sometimes even suffering. But how can we do less when the love of God suffered for others?
Here’s a challenge I was just asked to respond to:
When did you choose your heterosexuality?
Though it’s a short question, this is actually a more complicated challenge because there are numerous hidden assumptions in this question. What questions would you ask to help your friend clarify his position and get to the bottom of what he is really claiming? What do you think that rock bottom claim is that you should head for? How would you respond to that claim? What other aspects of this issue might come up while you’re both working through this objection?
We look forward to hearing your thoughts! Check back here on Thursday to hear Alan’s response.
We have forgotten just how deep a cultural revolution Christianity wrought. In fact, we forget about it precisely because of how deep it was: There are many ideas that we simply take for granted as natural and obvious, when in fact they didn't exist until the arrival of Christianity changed things completely. Take, for instance, the idea of children.
Today, it is simply taken for granted that the innocence and vulnerability of children makes them beings of particular value, and entitled to particular care…. In fact, this view of children is a historical oddity. If you disagree, just go back to the view of children that prevailed in Europe's ancient pagan world.
Gobry goes on to describe the sexual slavery, infanticide, and abuse that was common and accepted in the ancient world, concluding:
This is the world into which Christianity came, condemning abortion and infanticide as loudly and as early as it could.
This is the world into which Christianity came, calling attention to children and ascribing special worth to them….
But really, Christianity's invention of children — that is, its invention of the cultural idea of children as treasured human beings — was really an outgrowth of its most stupendous and revolutionary idea: the radical equality, and the infinite value, of every single human being as a beloved child of God. If the God who made heaven and Earth chose to reveal himself, not as an emperor, but as a slave punished on the cross, then no one could claim higher dignity than anyone else on the basis of earthly status.
That was indeed a revolutionary idea, and it changed our culture so much that we no longer even recognize it.
Many atheists are convinced a society that rejects the idea of God can still uphold human rights and human dignity. They think that even if one begins with an atheist worldview, these things are simply “obvious” and/or products of reason. They are not. Our culture is swimming in Christian ideas. After the water is drained, we’ll still be wet for a bit. But not forever.
Under the new bill, prosecutors would be allowed to pursue murder and assault charges in cases involving "an unborn child at every stage of gestation from conception until live birth."
The language said it wouldn't apply to acts committed by the mother, medical procedures or legally prescribed medication.
Even though the bill specifically excludes deaths caused by the mother’s choice, the pro-choice politicians are objecting to it. They don’t want to set a legal precedent by calling an unborn human being a “person,” even if the cases it applies to are strictly limited. This fear is understandable. In order to protect abortion, they can’t allow a logical foot in the door. Once you admit that a fetus can be “murdered,” you raise questions that are difficult for pro-choicers to answer. David Harsanyi explains:
The truth is that pro-choice advocates don’t want district attorneys prosecuting people for killing fetuses because it sets up two dangerous debates.
First, the act of humanizing unborn babies that women want to keep means humanizing unborn babies others do not want to keep. Aurora got a name, but the other third-trimester babies disposed of aren’t as fortunate.
Secondly, any admission by liberals that life in the womb is human life worthy of protections sets up a host of uncomfortable philosophical questions and legal precedents. For starters, how can the act of killing a fetus – granted, for different purposes and with very different levels of violence – end a human life in one instance and not the other?
This murder has upset the people of Colorado, and with good reason. Real life examples can sometimes reveal moral truths to us in a way that propositional arguments can’t. There’s currently a law against “unlawful termination of pregnancy” in Colorado, but of course, that addresses the rights of the mother, not the child, and it carries different penalties from those for murder. Put a name to the deceased fetal human, and suddenly, “unlawful termination of pregnancy” doesn’t seem like enough—not when we know the question of whether or not Lane could be charged with murder depended entirely on whether or not the autopsy could prove Aurora lived outside the womb for at least a moment before dying. It’s obvious to people something is wrong with a law that makes that kind of an irrelevant distinction.
When it comes to standing against a law that would prosecute people like Lane for murdering fetal human beings like Aurora, these politicians would rather bite that bullet than create a law that might make people think a little too carefully. But if they’re worried about consistent, logical thinking leading from a fetal homicide law to fetal human rights, perhaps they should also worry about how their consistent thinking in rejecting a fetal homicide law will appear to the people of Colorado who viscerally recognize the morally horrific nature of this recent murder.
An ethicist, a same-sex marriage activist, and a polyamorist walk into a bar. The ethicist says, “Marriage is the mutual support and consent of a man and a woman.” The activist says, “Marriage is the mutual support and consent of two people.” The polyamorist says, “Marriage is the mutual support and consent of people.”
The Supreme Court will hear arguments today on whether or not it’s constitutional to define marriage as a man and a woman. Please keep in mind that, contrary to what you might be hearing, the Supreme Court isn’t deciding whether or not to ban same-sex marriage. The option to ban it isn’t something they’re considering (nor should they). Rather, they’re deciding whether or not same-sex marriage will be required in all 50 states. If they decide the Constitution does not require it, the states will be left to choose their own marriage policy.
1) Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex?
2) Does the Fourteenth Amendment require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state?
It’s important to reiterate that this is a question about the Constitution: Does the Constitution require same-sex marriage? The judges’ preference as to which marriage policy they think is better should not determine the outcome, and we can only hope it won’t.
4. The only way the Court could strike down state laws that define marriage as the union of husband and wife is to adopt a view of marriage that sees it as an essentially genderless institution based primarily on the emotional needs of adults and then declare that the Constitution requires that the states (re)define marriage in such a way….
5. Everyone in this debate is in favor of marriage equality. Everyone wants the law to treat all marriages in the same ways. The only disagreement our nation faces is over what sort of consenting adult relationship is a marriage….
6. Marriage exists to bring a man and a woman together as husband and wife, to be father and mother to any children their union produces. Marriage is based on the anthropological truth that men and woman are distinct and complementary, the biological fact that reproduction depends on a man and a woman, and the social reality that children deserve a mother and a father….
8. There is no need for the Court to “settle” the marriage issue like it tried to settle the abortion issue. Allowing marriage policy to be worked out democratically will give citizens and their elected representatives the freedom to arrive at the best public policy for everyone…. Judges should not cut this process short.