By Dr. Mark H. Creech
In one of the earlier editions of the TV show “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” there was a segment from Japan showing a brother and sister coming to a break in the sidewalk. It was a long step across, and the gap was about two feet deep. The boy made it quite easily, but his sister was too fearful and refused to even try. After several attempts to convince her that she could make it, the little fellow stretched out across the gap, forming a human bridge with his body. His sister safely crossed the span by walking over him.
Let me ask a difficult question: In what ways are you willing to lay down your life for others – to be walked on for their sake – to bridge the gap between them and God – to bridge the gap between hope and harm.
Love for others is not just a saccharine sweet expression of sentiment. Love can require pain and sacrifice – even suffering the hostility of others.
Today people are always saying we need to “love one another.” But whatever does it mean to “love one another” anymore? It seems the modern view is to accept without any moral judgment the acts of another.
This week the President said he felt it was time for him to come out in support of gay marriage, siting the sacrifice of Christ for all men and the Golden Rule, “love your neighbor as yourself.”
Is this what Jesus was all about? Does loving my neighbor mean that I ought to embrace, like the President, same-gender relationships and marriage? Does it mean that I don’t morally or otherwise discriminate when it comes to such behavior?
In his book, Personal Christian Ethics, the great Christian ethicist, Carl F. H. Henry didn’t think so. Fifty-four years ago he warned about this erroneous approach to “love,” arguing,
“It is possible to recognize, in seeking to spell out the formula ‘love one another,’ a voice which is quite other than Divine, and to cherish illegitimate schemes as the will of God. The invocation of love, as without further biblical definition exhaustive of the moral claim, tends easily to resolve religion itself into little more than the love of man to man. In fact, by loosing agape [God’s love] from a divinely approved content, it may even prove to be a mistaken human sentiment to which Divine sanction is unjustifiably attached.”
Indeed. Love doesn’t affirm self-destructive behaviors. In his book, The Marketing of Evil, David Kupelian rightly states that love often requires “patient but firm opposition”:
“We’ve forgotten as a society what love is, because supporting and justifying homosexuality is not real love any more than glorifying drinking helps the alcoholic or celebrating smoking helps wipe out lung cancer . . . The most loving stance for others to take is not to serve as enablers of self-destructive and immoral compulsions, but to stand in patient and firm opposition.”
Mon Senior Charles Pope of the Archdiocese of Washington summed up this whole question quite well earlier this week, when he wrote:
“It is a common problem today that people often present simplistic portraits of Jesus Christ to support a variety of agendas. And the portraits of Jesus are not only simplistic, they are incomplete (usually intentionally so), and fail to accept that Jesus cannot be reduced to a simple sentence or two.
I would argue this is what the President is doing here. As if to say, ‘Jesus, was basically a nice and affirming person, who spoke of love, and so beautifully taught us to do unto to others as we would have them do to us. ‘Surely,’ the thinking goes, ‘this Jesus would affirm and rejoice over two Gay people getting ‘married.’ It is as if this were all Jesus was or said, ‘Love…Do unto others’. Never mind that he had some pretty high standards when it came to sexuality (Matt 5:27-30; Matt 15:19; Mk 10:11; Rev 22:15; Rev 21:8) Never mind that he told his apostles he had other things to teach them and would send his Holy Spirit, and never mind that His Holy Spirit inspired the Epistles writers like Paul to speak clearly in the ancient Biblical tradition about the sinfulness of homosexual activity, fornication, and adultery. ‘Never mind all that,’ says the modern world, and our President, ‘I chose the Jesus who said only, ‘God is love, and be kind to one another.’”
Love is certainly not self-righteously condemning others. Nor does it desire to be excessively harsh. But loving others as Jesus showed love, requires standing up to self-destructive behaviors and risking offence, hostility, and even the wrath of men to redeem them. Calling homosexuality a sin and vigorously fighting the redefinition of marriage may seem cruel, “homophobic,” and even a hateful response by many. But the fact is the homosexual can never know the freedom Christ gives or the joy He imparts if we simply acquiesce to their desires and demands – if we are unwilling to confront their behavior as a sin that damns and destroys.
To paraphrase something once noted by Jay Budziszewski:
Love drives us to visit the prisoner, moves us to dry out the alcoholic, motivate us to help the unwed mother prepare for her newborn, and causes us to admonish the homosexual to live chastely. But how much easier it is to placate the prisoner’s unwillingness to take responsibility for his crimes, give the drunk a drink, send the unwed mother to an abortionist clinic, and tell people caught up in same-sex attractions to just surrender to them. False love is a great deal less work and requires no sacrifice.
Loving as Jesus loved and loving your neighbor as yourself, requires bridging the gap – laying down our lives – not laying down and giving in.