Friday, November 23, 2012

The Most Loving Thing

I often hear a certain line of reasoning from my more conservative Christian friends that goes like this:
I'm not homophobic for opposing gay marriage or for believing that homosexuality is a sin. In fact, I'm actually loving. Because the most loving thing you can do is tell the truth. And I'm telling gay and lesbian people the truth that they are sinning.
This is the argument used by guys from the Westboro Baptist Church in this fascinating interview with Russell Brand. And it's the argument that's been used by one of my commenters on this blog post.

This argument is built on one presupposition: the most loving thing I can do is tell the truth. If that statement is accurate, maybe my more conservative friends have a point. But if it is not accurate, then they've got some serious re-evaluating to do.

Since my conservative Christian friend accept the Bible as their authority for faith and practice, let's go to the Bible and see what it says. Does the Bible say that telling the truth is the most loving thing we can do? Did Jesus teach us that the greatest love is truth telling?


Jesus was pretty straightforward about it when he said, "Greater love has no than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends."

The greatest love is not truth telling. The greatest love is personal sacrifice.

So, if my conservative Christian friends want to love gay and lesbian people, as they claim they do, they will do what Jesus says. Let's unpack his statement a little more.

Jesus says that the greatest love is to lay down your life for your friends.

This begs the question, do you have any gay or lesbian friends? For a long time, I didn't. And when I didn't, I just lumped LGBT into a group and assumed that I understood what they thought and believed. This approach underscored the us-vs-them mentality that makes true love very difficult. And then I started to get to know people as people, listening to their stories, and developing friendships. And that has made a huge difference. I've written about this here.

Jesus says that the greatest love is to lay down your life for your friends.

Jesus himself is the example of this kind of love. Not long after he said these words, he was arrested on trumped up charges, railroaded through the legal system, and executed. As you read the accounts of his death, you get a sense that Jesus was willingly going there, that he knew something greater was going to come as a result of his death. You get the sense that it is an act of love.

Laying down your life sometimes means making the ultimate sacrifice. But loving sacrifice does not exclusively mean death. To lay down is to relinquish, to surrender, to willingly put aside. This reminds me, again, of Jesus, who, in the words of apostle Paul, "did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing." He gave up what was rightfully his. He set it aside. He opened his hand and let go of what he had once held. He relinquished what he had for a greater purpose. Namely, love.

So, if you love as you claim, what are you willing to relinquish for your gay friends?

Are you willing to relinquish your own comfort?
Are you willing to relinquish your own sense of what culture should be like in America?
Are you willing to relinquish your notion of a "Christian nation"?
Are you willing to relinquish your perceived right to say what you want?
Are you willing to relinquish your slogans and your signs?
Are you willing to relinquish your definition of marriage?
Are you willing to relinquish your pew and make room for new friends at your church?
Are you willing to relinquish your political agenda?

So many followers of Jesus are tight-fisted about the things they perceive as their rights. But, it seems to me, that the posture of Jesus, the posture of love, is not a fist but an open hand. It is not hate but love - actual self-sacrificing love.



Jamie said...

I'm confused with where you are going with this. Laying down our lives does not mean accepting faulty doctrine. I used to dance professionally in both LA and NYC. While in LA I had a friend who was gay and a Christian. He was trying to live his life in obedience to the Lord. He had certain urges and temptations but knew they were wrong and was relying on the Lord to give him the strength to overcome those feelings. He was very immersed in the gay lifestyle until he met Christ. The Lord was slowly changing him just like he does for each of us. If I was having an affair, the most loving thing that a friend could do for me is point me back to God's Word and what it says about adultery, marriage and purity. I do not believe that homosexuality is a black and white issue. I believe that it can be very complex. But to say that we are to accept gay marriage makes me wonder if we are following the same Jesus? Have you studied marriage in the Bible? John Piper has an excellent book called This Momentary Marriage which I highly recommend that you read. I do not know much about you or your blog. I happened upon your blog through a post that you wrote on another blog about foster care. I probably should not have commented but was shocked to read your views regarding homosexuality as you are a professing Christian. I do agree that we are to love others......

Robb Ryerse said...


Thanks for the conversation. I am trying to explore the idea that "telling the truth" is the best way for a Christian to love a gay or lesbian person. It seems to me that that argument has no basis in Scripture. Jesus was clear that the best way to love someone is to lay down your life for your friend. I gave some examples of ways that someone might relinquish his or herself for a gay or lesbian friend, but ultimately, the way each of us living out the teachings of Jesus, is between us and God.


Jamie said...


Thank you for the conversation. Listen, I am a terrible sinner, and am so thankful for God's relenting Grace. Jesus is so graceful but truthful at the same time. Jesus is Truth. He says, "I am the way the truth and the life". God's Word changes people. Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. God may use us as instruments but ultimately He saves people. He unblinds our eyes and speaks truth into our lives. I do not believe in bashing people over the head with my theological bat but I do believe in lovingly and humbly speaking God's Word to others. I like how Kirk Cameron responded when asked his beliefs about gay marriage.