Several times lately, there have been news reports about Christians and their dealings with people of lifestyles which are contrary to the Written Word of God. This article is not to point out which lifestyles are contrary to the Bible but to discuss the actions of those Christians and their public criticism of this lifestyle, which they feel are wrong.
Recently there was a woman in Colorado who died; her lifestyle was in question, so this Church refused to have her funeral because of her lifestyle. In looking into this, her family is Christian, she was raised in that church, and very active in it too, as a youth. Some famous Christian celebrities publically condemned her choice of lifestyle as an adult. Odds are, she was born again, yet her family was refused from having a service for her once she died. The service was really not for her but her Christian family. She was condemned for how she lived as an adult. She is dead and having a funeral to bless the family is not wrong. Dead people are dead and know nothing about anything once they are dead. My thoughts are in line with the acronym: W. W. J. D. or “What would Jesus do?” How about Paul or Peter?
I never have seen a place where Moses, Jesus, Paul, Peter, or anyone else in the Bible ever walked up and condemned a person because of their lifestyle. In the gospel of John Chapter 8, there was the woman caught in adultery by the teachers of the law and the Pharisees. At the end of this, Jesus did not call her a prostitute, adulteress, or whore, he just said:
John 8:10b and 11 (NIV)1
10b …“Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
He did not condemn her! I think it was only by those that caught her and where she was caught did he call it sin [and it was]. Jesus and others cast out demons, yet there is never a place where the person being healed is condemned. Please understand, many in those lifestyles are there by choice. I have met and dealt with women who were abused and so hurt by men that they chose a lifestyle with a woman rather than deal with men. Others I have dealt with are demonized, and it was pushed on them by the demon controlling them. Look at this verse:
Matthew 4:24 (NIV)
News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed, and he healed them.
It says: the demon-possessed…and he healed them. This is a healing and not the only one in the Bible. There was a boy in Matthew 17 who was demonized, and Jesus cast the demon out and healed the boy:
Matthew 17:18 (NIV)
Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed from that moment.
Here is a verse in Luke:
Luke 6:18 (NIV)
who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. Those troubled by evil spirits were cured,
So people demonized [more accurate than saying possessed] can be healed or cured. They need help! So when Christians are dealing with people with different lifestyles which they as Christians disapprove of, saying bad things to them about what they are doing, does it help them? No! It pushes them away. If they are demonized they need help. And, if it is a choice, they need to be loved and at some point taught. Calling them names will not help. Saying, “Sinner Repent,” means nothing to them! We are supposed to help them, like Jesus, Paul, Peter, and many others in the Bible. Condemning them pushes them farther into what they’re into. If it is a choice, and if they are demonized, you had best pray and ask the Lord which demon is in there and what to do, and whether to cast it, or them, out. You will also have to spend whatever time you need to comfort that person, love them, and teach them how to close the door permanently on those former occupants. Those who have chosen these lifestyles will need to be loved and taught that the Bible is Truth, long before you show them what the Bible says about their lifestyle. It really takes walking in love, look at these verses.
Romans 13:10 (NIV)
Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
You do not want to harm your neighbor do you? We have to walk like those examples we have in the Bible, and they never condemned first. I would like you to know both times love is used here it is agape. For more on love, and to understand agape, and agapao, see our article: Super Compassionate Devotional Love. This next verse is also from the Church Epistles.
1 Corinthians 16:14 (NIV)
Do everything in love.
We are to have love for all the saints, and, unless you have revelation telling you that person you are dealing with is not a saint [holy one, someone born again], you should be loving them. What if they are just a neighbor? Hey, this is called a royal law!
James 2:8 (NIV)
If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right.
There is no place in the Bible which says, “Sinner [sinners] Repent,” nor is there a place where it tells us to hold a sign [which I have seen personally in arena’s for professional sports, London, England, and San Francisco, CA, and in movies], which says: “Sinner Repent.” This will not help those who have never been taught anything they are doing is sin. The problem stems from having the moral center removed from people’s lives. God, Jesus, and the Word of God, have all but been removed from the schools, colleges, and all forms of higher education, government buildings, wherever, so how can those of the last two generations have a standard to live by. This is true here and around the world. So, when we act less than loving as Christians, it makes us look really bad. So, do not push people deeper in sin, love them out of it. Let us look at these two verses.
James 5:19 and 20 (NIV)
19 My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, 20 remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.
I cannot stress enough that saying derogatory things about people’s lifestyles will not help them, it will make us look bad, and the only thing it will achieve is to push the receiver deeper into what they are in. Love them; build yourself and them up in the most holy faith. Remember your walk was not always right and that you have been shown mercy, so show some yourself.
Jude 1:20–25 (NIV)
20 But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. 21 Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. 22 Be merciful to those who doubt; 23 snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh. 24 To him who is able to keep you [and others] from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— 25 to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.
Jesus’ walk was one of love, compassion, grace, and mercy, what is yours like? Walk with me in this love towards others. Listen to him and follow his example from the Bible, as the Head of the Church, his Body, but there is a “warning”: You will be fellowshipping with all sorts of people: publicans, sinners, prostitutes, and more. We will be living as Jesus and other greats in the Bible [Matt. 9:10 and 11, 11:19, 21:31and 32; Mark 2:15 and 16; Luke 3:12, 5:29 and 30, 7:29, 34, 15:1, 19:2]. We will be with people who are not living or walking in the light of what the Bible says! Peter and Paul had to walk with people like this! Peter’s apostleship was to the Jews [Gal. 2:8]. Those people responsible for having Jesus killed. These were called stiff-necked people in the Hebrew Scriptures, not a soft and easy group to deal with. They were steeped in the traditions of the elders which was off the Truth of God’s Word [Matt. 15ff]. His teaching showed this could not have been easy, yet through his ministry, people turned to the Lord and they were saved. Paul had been a Pharisee, as was his father [we will be looking at the Pharisees more in the next section of this article], Acts 23:6, and 26:5; Philippians 3:5. The odds are, either Paul’s father, or maybe even Paul himself, had to deal with Jesus, which will be explained in the next section about Jesus. As such, Paul was cast into a rough situation as the teacher, apostle, and preacher to the Gentiles [Gal. 2:8; Eph. 3:8; 1 Tim. 2:7] because to the Jews all gentiles were pagans and therefore unbelievers, lower than dogs [the Samaritans were half Jews and were considered dogs by the Jews]. His mind would have to really change to deal with, and love, people he had been wrongly taught all his life were below him. He was fellowshipping with true unbelievers who were into everything bad.
You may say Jesus came out and spoke some terrible stuff against the Pharisees in Matthew 23 and John 8—and he did! You may even say, "How can he speak this way when he did not know them that well?" Jesus called them: hypocrites [several times], blind guides, like whitewashed tombs (looks nice on the outside, but inside full of bones, rot, decay, and everything unclean), snakes, a brood of vipers, and belonging to your father the Devil]. How can he speak in such a way? You could say it was revelation and some of that may have been true. I think, thanks to a brother in Christ I know, Bob Wassung, we will show Jesus knew them well. He was a Pharisee! You may be saying I have flipped my lid here so let us go to the Bible. Look at John 1 where we will see a conversation between the Pharisees and John the Baptist.
John 1:24–27 (NIV)
24 Now some Pharisees who had been sent 25 questioned him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” 26 “I baptize with water,” John replied, “but among you [among you Pharisees] stands one you do not know. 27 He [the context here is about Jesus] is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.”
Jesus was a Pharisee and, therefore, knew them well. This shows that his relationship with them gave him much knowledge about the kind of men they were. It was not all revelation. So, for him to say straight out that what they did was wrong was from being around them. But, never does he, or any great man or woman in the Bible, walk up and verbally attack the lifestyle or practices of others. Even Elijah did not first attack the prophets of Baal until after they had shown their true colors.
One other thing I would like to mention here is that we cannot do anything but love those who are our enemies and persecute us. You will not find Jesus, Paul, Peter, or anyone else railing on their enemies or those persecuting them. Here is a verse from a teaching by Jesus:
Matthew 5:44 (NIV)
But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
We really have no right to walk any other way than in love. Jesus and other men or women who stood before people never spoke up first about their lifestyle. They loved them and taught them about God and the Scriptures, then, later, they would teach about their lifestyle. Jesus, Peter, and others, when speaking to people knowledgeable of the written Word of God, would get to the part of being “in your face” about stuff pretty fast but still taught the Truth first. At Pentecost Peter taught a long time before he said anything about the Jews being responsible for Jesus being crucified. So folks, even knowing someone’s lifestyle is wrong does not give you the right to address them as evil doers, sinners, prostitutes, or any term you want to put here for someone off the Word and living a lifestyle you may disagree with. You should not say that it is wrong right from the start according to God’s Word. So walk in love and remember, we are called to serve and to bless, so bless you and have fun loving and living the Truth! There will be more coming on this topic!