Loving By Talking About Sin (Whose Rules Rule 11)
First published 19 March 2012
Last time I was trying, poorly in my own judgment, to contrast the outcomes of non-religious morality (selfishness and oppression) with Christian morality (love, charity and care for everyone not matter how sinful). I really wanted to show that for a Christian to say that something is wrong, even while they attempt to ensure that it is made illegal, does not mean that they will be unkind to the people who do those wrong things. We too are sinners, under the same moral judgment of God. But having repented and accepted the Lord Jesus, we take seriously the command to love fellow sinners, fellow humans. We don’t take it personally, as the non-religious person does, when people do things we believe are wrong.
The greatest demonstration of love was the love of God for sinners, in giving His only Son to die in our place, so that through faith and repentance we might be set right with Him and have eternal life. “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
If God loved sinners that much, we should also love sinners (i.e. everybody). We saw that last time.
But what is the greatest demonstration of love that Christians can show?
As a kind of parable, consider a man who knows an organisation that will give anyone immense riches if they simply come and ask. This organisation is wealthy enough to do that for everyone. What would be the most loving thing that man could do? Surely it would be to tell everyone?
Consider another parable. A man can see a bunch of people who have inadvertently passed a “danger!” sign and are wandering towards a hidden cliff edge. What is the most loving thing that he can do? Surely it would be to tell them!
Hence, as Christians, when we see people being sinful and immoral and bringing God’s wrath upon themselves (which starts in this life and is finalised at the Last Judgment), while we know God, through Christ, will give anyone eternal life who comes to Him in repentance and faith, what is the most loving thing we can do? Surely it is to tell people.
That’s one of the main reasons why moral debates about homosexuality, adultery and marriage, for instance, are so important within the modern church. It is not because we want to judge others by our own standards. It is because God judges by His own standards (which are clear), and we rob people of the opportunity to repent before God, and obtain eternal life in a perfected creation, if we do not call wrong things wrong. For Christians to avoid moral statements or water them down for the sake of peace in a secular society is unloving. For Christians to make strong statements about sin and morality is not unloving if it is done with the good news in mind, that all sinners may have eternal life if they repent and trust in Jesus Christ, who was punished in our place. It is the highest love we can show.