There are times when your love for people trumps your desire to stay away from potentially offending them. This is one of those times.
I recently stumbled across a theological statement from a church in Atlanta, which proudly boasts a bishop and his life partner, “First Gentleman”. Included on the page is a horrific handling of Leviticus, the Law and Jesus’s views on such things, but that’s probably a post for another day. Here is the particularly gut-wrenching section I want to focus on here:
We believe God’s love is inclusive and welcoming to all. We believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ cuts across all barriers that fragment and divide us. We are called to love, affirm and welcome all, regardless of race, gender and/or affectional orientation, class or life situation. As Christ-centered Christians, we are to be known for our inclusiveness, reconciliation and liberation for all who are oppressed. The church has too often allowed particular aspects of a person to place them out of the faith. Therefore, we emphasize the “whosoever” in John 3:16. We are also called to “love our neighbors as we love ourselves” (Mark 12:29-31) and “love our enemies” (Luke 6:27).
So much can be said about this section, but what troubles me most is the drafter of this explanation (likely the bishop himself) uses the love of Christ as a springboard for the “love equals affirmation” hermeneutic.
I totally agree much of this presentation, everything from the power of the barrier-crossing Gospel to the call to love our neighbors and enemies. Any Christian would quickly and rightly say “amen!” to that.
Where the logic totally falls apart is assuming the inclusiveness of the Gospel allows for no standard of right and wrong.
The Gospel is indeed the power of God to save the Jew, Gentile, man, woman, child, black, white, etc.
But that’s not all.
It is also a proclamation sin has been conquered and God’s righteous reign is supreme. His glory is paramount.
In short, the implication by this church is that, because the Gospel is not a sectarian message in its reach, tolerance is the highest form of love.
In fact, love is often the opposite.
What’s Love Got to Do With It?
When defining love, we must be extremely careful not to confuse it with affirmation.