LINN: Speaking the truth in love
By Todd Linn
Saturday, June 9, 2012
Those of us who profess to be evangelicals must endeavor always to speak the truth of the Gospel in love (Ephesians 4:15). While it is important to preach and teach against sin, it is equally important how we go about doing so.
In one of the latest “anti-gay church videos” to appear on YouTube, a toddler can be seen in a worship service singing, “Ain’t no homos gonna make it to heaven.” Members of the congregation can be seen rising, clapping and laughing. The pastor also can be seen smiling approvingly while the little boy sings.
The disturbing video raises a number of questions, not the least of which concerns the roles of parents as their children’s primary faith influencers. A more pressing question, however, is whether the worship service will result in people being drawn closer to God to experience the liberating power of the Gospel.
Whether one regards homosexuality as a sin depends largely on how he or she interprets the Bible. Most evangelicals agree on this issue because they believe the Bible distinguishes between time-specific “Ritual Law” of the Old Testament and universal “Moral Law” of the Old and New Testament, moral law that continues to govern society.
So while homosexuality is forbidden in the Old Testament where it is found among other laws governing the nation of Israel from the time of Moses to the time of Christ, it also is forbidden in the New Testament because its prohibition is included
in the “Moral Law,” a law that applies in every age. So unlike the Old Testament prohibitions God gave the nation of Israel such as their refraining from eating certain foods or avoiding the use of certain fabrics, homosexuality — like heterosexual infidelity — is forbidden in both testaments because its prohibition applies to all people throughout all time.
Like heterosexual infidelity, or idolatry, or stealing, homosexuality is a behavior found in the pre-conversion lifestyle of many Christians, Christians who have now been set free by the saving power of the Gospel. The Apostle Paul speaks this truth in love to a congregation in ancient Corinth, encouraging them to turn from sin by reminding them that they were once “fornicators, idolators, adulterers, and homosexuals.” He adds, “Such were some of you, but now you have been washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus by the Spirit of our God (1 Corinthians 6:9-11).” This is speaking the truth in love.
Of course not everyone interprets the Bible the same way and some will dismiss it altogether. Evangelicals, however, must interpret the sacred text responsibly, taking care to interpret the figurative parts figuratively, the symbolic parts symbolically, and the literal parts literally. What is more, evangelicals must genuinely love the people they are trying to reach, continuing to speak the truth in love “so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive (Titus 2:10).”
The Rev. Todd Linn is pastor of Henderson Kentucky’s First Baptist Church.