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-- © GodSpeak International 2009 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from <copyright@godspeak.net> --

Author: Teresa Seputis ts@godspeak.net http://www.godspeak.net

The Judgments of God

By Teresa Seputis

Lesson 9
Loving Sinners While Hating Sin

I want to touch on a very tricky subject...how do you balance loving sinners with valuing holiness and hating their sin? I am not sure I have a clear cut answer on this because it is a tricky subject. On one hand we don't want to condone sin, because we know that God hates it. We also know that tolerating sin can open our nation up to receive a strong correction from God in the form of a negative judgment. On the other hand, we are commissioned to reach and win the lost, and that seems to be one of God's highest priorities.

When we take a stand for righteousness, then those who embrace sin will see it as us taking a stand against them, and they will think that we hate them. It is only a matter of common sense that when people think you hate them, they are not going to be willing to listen to you as you try present a message of God's love.

But on the other hand, if you don't take a stand for holiness, what kind of message are you sending, and are you opening yourself up for a negative judgment?

This is a really hard question, and I don't really have a clear-cut answer to this, but I want to look at the issue in light of some current events in my state (California), and share what God has been speaking to my heart about it. This is an expansion of the issue covered in our last lesson.

This teaching is a bit unusual in that the first two sections were written the day before a State Supreme Court decision was handed down, and the final section was written the day after their decision was announced.


Let me update you on the current event in my area that falls into this category and then I will share what the Lord has been speaking to me. It has to do with the gay rights politics in California, where I live.

A while ago, the mayor of San Francisco started performing gay marriages, which led to a public outcry and lot of controversy. A lawsuit was taken to the State Supreme Court to prevent him from doing that, and the gay marriages were suspended pending the outcome of the court decision. In May of 2008, the court ruled in favor of the mayor and basically "legalized" gay marriages state wide. San Francisco and some other cities immediately began performing them "en masse" and completed over 18,000 same sex marriages during the next six months. And because of the court ruling, the marriage license applications for the state were changed from "Bride" and "Groom" to "Party 1" and "Party 2" to accommodate same sex couples.

This offended enough people that a proposition was put on the state ballot changing the state's constitution to explicitly forbid same sex marriage--Proposition 8. It was a very controversial measure and the people on both sides of it were highly polarized. The measure to ban gay marriages passed with 52% of the vote, but 18,000 same sex marriages were performed in the six months between the court ruling and the election.

Opponents of proposition 8 immediately challenged it as "unconstitutional" and filed suits that went to the State Supreme court. The election was in November, and the state supreme court had hearings in March. They are scheduled to announce their decision tomorrow (late May, 2009).

The court is "expected" to uphold the proposition as the will of the people. But with this extremely liberal and anti-God court, no one knows for sure what they will do.

There have been several incidents to arise out of this as well. Most of the local media has not been impartial at all, but strongly biased against those who believe marriage should be solely between a man and a woman. Some of the media coverage has presented the belief that marriage is between a man and a woman as a "hate crime." Over and over again, the media has painted advocates of traditional marriage as bigots, narrow minded, etc.

There was also an issue in the Miss USA beauty pageant. One of the competitions for the contestants is where they are each asked a question by one of the judges, and they are graded on their answer. One of the judges is a known "gay rights" activist. He asked Miss California what her opinion was on Prop 8 and same sex marriage. She gracefully and truthfully answered that she was raised to view marriage as a union before God between a man and a woman. The judge scorned her openly in the competition and the next day said horrible things about her on his web page. She ended up being the first runner up instead of winning the competition, and most of the media coverage of that event suggested that she would have probably won if she'd given a pro-gay answer instead of upholding "traditional" values.

Personally, I feel the judge should have been rebuked and disqualified for trying to turn the beauty pageant into a "gay rights" platform. I feel that was highly inappropriate.

But the judge was not rebuked for that. Instead, Miss California was rebuked for not supporting "gay rights." In fact, there was an such an outcry against her that the state pageant officials tried to strip her of the Miss California crown. But it turned out they did not have legal grounds to do so because the decision was up to the pageant owner. The pageant owner said that she should retain her crown because she had answered the question she'd been asked honestly and in good faith, sharing her personal opinion after being asked for it. [Postscript: Some time later, after all of the publicity died down, Miss California was quitely stripped of her crown.]

All this is to show that there is still a huge controversy over same sex marriage in California, even six months after the election that passed proposition 8. Unfortunately, in the midst of this controversy, most members of the homosexual community have come to equate the message of Jesus with "hatred" and with a denial of their "rights."

In short, if we "win" the battle to preserve our values for holiness and traditional marriage, we "loose" even more credibility in the gay community. That means the people in it will be less willing to listen to the good news and they will not hear the message of God's love for them. In fact, in many of their eyes, the message of the gospel has become that God "hates them and wants to take away their rights."

What God Said To Me About This

First, God made it clear to Me that He hates all sin, not just certain ones. In His eyes, heterosexual activity outside of the marriage bond is not any different than homosexual activity. And neither of those activates are a greater offense to God than cheating and oppressing the poor.

God wants us to be holy--but He wants us to be that way because are hearts are after Him, not because we are forced to live that way by civil law. The attitude of the heart is just as important to God as the outward actions. God doesn't want the church to legislate holiness and force a standard that others do not agree with on them. What He wants us to do is to win the lost so He can transform their hearts, so that they want to live in a way that is pleasing to Him.

Don't get me wrong--God is not condoning sin of any form. He still hates all forms of sexual sin. In fact, I truly believe that the massive and unprecedented fire storms in California were a judgment from God against the State for our immorality. He wants us to change our ways...not just on the issue of gay marriage, but on many issues.

However, Proposition 8 is not the "salvation" of my state--Jesus is. The sad truth is that this legislation about marriage has not made anyone holier, but it has alienated a lot of people to the gospel.

The passage of proposition 8 is not enough to turn away God's hand of correction, because the hearts of the people here are no more holy than they were before it was passed. In fact, the proposition does nothing to address gay couples living together, it merely forbids the word "marriage" to be used to describe their union. In short, it is good that more than half of the state holds the bible view of marriage, but we still have a lot of sin that needs to be dealt with. And the only way to clean up our act is to have a change of heart, and to begin love God and to embrace His ways because we love Him and want to please Him. And California as a state has not done that yet.

As far as holiness goes, I am not sure it is reasonable to ask sinners to clean up their acts before they come to God...we need to bring the love of God to them so that they receive Him. Then after they receive Him, the Holy Spirit will take up residence in them, and He will begin to transform them from the inside out. That is the only type of change that will make a difference in God's eyes.

If we want to reach the gay community, we need to find ways to show that we genuinely value them as people and care about what happens to them. We want to make the love of God real to them in deeds as well as in words. The truth of the matter is that their heart attitudes won't change just because we legislate holiness in our legal definition of marriage--and God looks at the hearts as much as He looks at the deeds.

It is not enough to "make laws" to impose Christian values on the unsaved. The only way to turn away God's hand of correction is to touch hearts with the good news, so that they believe in Jesus and allow the Holy Spirit to begin to transform them from the inside out.

The Court's Decision

As you have probably heard on the news, the California Supreme court upheld proposition 8, forbidding same sex marriage. While this may appear to be a victory for holiness, I am not sure that it really is. Among other things, it may not last. Advocates of same sex marriage are already planning to put a new measure on the ballot for the next election to overturn prop 8.

Also, the gay community has become convinced that the "church" (and God who we represent) hates them. This is going to make it a lot harder to reach them for the gospel. So proposition 8 may actually have ended up working against what we need to do to turn God's hand of correction away from the State of California.

It is tricky problem. On one hand, we don't want the world and the education system teaching our children that what God calls sin is normal and OK. But on the other hand, we don't want to alienate the ones who we are trying to reach with the gospel. At this point I don't really know what the right answer is, but we need to find an effective way to love sinners without condoning their sin.

Perhaps we as a church need to start praying and asking God to give us divine wisdom and insight into this question, so that we can truly begin transforming our cities and nations to better line up with God's values and standards.

-- © GodSpeak International 2009 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from <copyright@godspeak.net> --

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