I just heard former president Jimmy Carter, a self-proclaimed born again Christian, say to a large audience concerning the LBGTQ community, “I never knew of any words or actions of Jesus Christ that ever discriminated against anyone because of who they were…” A long applause followed his remarks. He went on to say that “…it is best to treat everyone equally in the eyes of God.” He then equated being gay with being of a different race. Essentially he was saying that if Jesus were here now He would be supporting the LBGTQ community as they are. He was using Jesus to support his contentions, but failed to point to any teaching of Jesus that would demonstrate that Jesus supports gay lifestyles.
The web site that posed his comments wrote, “Even if you’re not religious, it’s hard not to shout ‘Amen!’ after what he says.” And the post was labeled, “Here’s What It Sounds Like When A 90-Year-Old Devout Christian Gives A Fierce Defense Of Gay Rights.”
Devout Christian? Hmmm. I don’t doubt the man’s sincerity. He believes he is a devout Christian. But, our testimony of ourselves is never a good indicator of who we really are. In the book of Acts chapter 11, verse 26 we read, “And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.” That last sentence is very important.
According to the Bible a “Christian” is a disciple – specifically a Christian is a disciple of Jesus. The word disciple means “a learner.” This person is one who dedicates themselves to the teachings of Jesus, and then lives their life accordingly. When Jesus gave one of His last commands, commonly referred to as the “Great Commission,” He said, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt 28:18-20).
When the church was first born after Pentecost, the new disciples spent their time learning the doctrines of Christ from the apostles (Acts 2:42). The result of their following the teachings of Jesus put them at odds with the Jewish authorities (cf. Acts 8:1-4), and later with the Roman authorities (2 Peter 1:4). I can’t think of a single verse in the Bible where they were given long applauses for their singular stance on the doctrines they had been entrusted with, and were expected to proclaim from the rooftops.
The reality is that while Jesus was open to sinners, he never once winced at calling sin, sin. There were people who were highly offended at what Jesus had to say (cf. Matt 23, John 6:60, 66), and there were people who were very responsive to what Jesus taught (cf. Luke 7:36-50). And while Jesus never turned away a sinner, if they were the responsive type, He always turned them away from their sin (cf John 8:11).
The reality is that Jesus did discriminate. He discriminated between sin and righteousness. While loving all sinners He taught them, and showed them, what righteousness was. Jimmy Carter said that “it is best not to discriminate in the eyes of God.” But in the Bible, God demonstrates what true discrimination looks like:
Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! … Therefore, as the fire devours the stubble, And the flame consumes the chaff, so their root will be as rottenness, And their blossom will ascend like dust; Because they have rejected the law of the LORD of hosts, And despised the word of the Holy One of Israel. Therefore the anger of the LORD is aroused against His people; He has stretched out His hand against them and stricken them, and the hills trembled. Their carcasses were as refuse in the midst of the streets (Isa 5:20-25).
Scary, to say the least.
Indeed, the Bible says that “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb 10:31). God’s anger is never directed at sinners who understand they are sinful, and therefor seek repentance. God embraces such people and gives them the ability to flee sin and embrace righteousness. But His anger (as in the passage above) is directed against those who would misrepresent Him and what He commands – and what He commands is not hard to understand.
That’s why a Christian, as defined by the Bible (a disciple), spends much time seeking to know what God teaches, so that he can both follow Him, and teach others to do the same. True Christians have always found themselves at odds with the cultures they lived in precisely because they lived by this standard. And they live by this standard because they are commanded to do so; and they are commanded to because God loves people enough to call them out of sin.
Today, God’s love is often misrepresented as blind, unconditional acceptance. But that is not God’s love. That is man’s desire for God’s love. We want God to affirm us AND our sin. But God will never give affirmation to our sin. The message of Jesus is that God discriminates against our sin precisely because He loves us. He wants to put enough distance between us and our sin so that we will not be destroyed with our sin:
“Say to them: ‘As I live,’ says the Lord GOD, ‘I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die, O house of Israel?’” (Ezek 33:11).