Our 2019 Children’s Books of the Year stand out from an increasingly troubling crowd
Ten years ago homosexuality was fringy and dangerous and you were dead set against it. Today homosexuality is the guy grilling steaks next door, waving to you over the picket fence, calling, “How about those Phillies!”
It is also the friendly couple (guy and guy) who want to join your church. You have had good conversations with them, and they really seem to love the Lord. And come to think of it, haven’t you been hypocritical in your attitude about gays, when in your congregation there are gossips, gluttons, and remarried divorcés? How can you despise one sin over another? Isn’t this exactly what Jesus meant by saying that “whoever has no sin, let him cast the first stone”?
And the weary sun keeps beating down and you are feeling dizzy and unsure, and all you can remember at this point is that the Lord said “love your neighbor” and that he accepted you when you were still a mess, and maybe you should do the same for homosexuals without insisting that they change, for heaven knows, you haven’t changed that much yourself.
Let’s shake ourselves out of this funk, shall we? “To the teaching and to the testimony! If they will not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn” (Isaiah 8:20). The Bible identifies homosexuality as sin—more, an abomination: “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination” (Leviticus 18:22). If there are other sins inside the church not being handled well, it doesn’t make things better to invite another sin not handled well.
If you want to talk about “love your neighbor,” need we mention that neighbors don’t let neighbors go to hell? As the “Intelligent Man” said to his bemused fellow passenger in the dingy twilight town of C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce, “It will be dark presently.” “‘You mean the evening is really going to turn into a night in the end?’ The man nodded.” What good is all the good will you reap now when in the future Mr. Steak Griller next door curses you from across the chasm for your quiet complicity in his damnation?
In our effete wrangling over the gays-in-the-church issue, has it been entirely forgotten that you and I have what our trapped neighbors need—Christ?
“I’ve always said that I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize,” challenges atheist Penn Jillette of the magician duo of Penn and Teller. “I don’t respect that at all. … How much do you have to hate somebody to not proselytize? … I mean if I believed, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that a truck was coming at you, and you didn’t believe that truck was bearing down on you, there is a certain point where I tackle you. …”
Unless, of course, you don’t believe in the Last Judgment anymore. Do you?
We the church of Christ are salt and light. Salt retards the spread of perversion by resisting it. Light shows the way out of bondage. In our effete wrangling over the gays-in-the-church issue, has it been entirely forgotten that you and I have what our trapped neighbors need—Christ, the breaker of all demonic Delusions and Enslavements? And if you think a man lying with a man is the moral equivalent of eating too many doughnuts, produce a passage in Leviticus where overeating called for execution. There are degrees of hell and degrees of heaven, a matter easily ascertained in Scripture. For the rejection of God’s order of male and female is a strike at the heart of creation itself, Satan’s endgame evisceration of the imageness of God.
There is a turning going on, and how grievous if it is in the wrong direction. But Jeremiah, as if anticipating the present challenge, reminds us that the order of the day is not compromise, or Rodney King’s “let’s get along,” but a mouth that utters truth and feet that stand their ground:
“If you utter what is precious, and not what is worthless, you shall be as my mouth. They shall turn to you, but you shall not turn to them. And I will make you to this people a fortified wall of bronze; they will fight against you, but they shall not prevail over you, for I am with you to save you and deliver you, declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 15:19-20).
Love your neighbor. Sound the warning (Colossians 1:28). Someday he may thank you for it.