How then shall we as Christians approach, in practicality, the reality of the situation? That is, how do we talk to those who oppose our view, the position which has been made extremely clear to us by God himself? At the root of our cause to evangelise – meaning to spread the gospel through both our actions and words with intentionality – is that we must do everything out of love.
As the Word clearly states:
v.19 “We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)
v.43 ‘You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ v.44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” (Matthew 5:43-44)
We should not be attacking individuals nor see our message as one that should be used to do so. We should not be using our words as an attempt to simply force others to see things our way. As I have learned, it is possible to be right in your sentiment but wrong in your choice of words. Simply being right does not automatically mean that we are being helpful or that we are being loving. We should not simply attempt to “win the argument” and leave our opponents fuming at their loss and onlookers in awe of our intelligence. That is to say, if we are truly to act with the same love which Christ and the Father has first loved us with, by choosing to die as a sacrifice for our sins on a cross, our basis should be to warn others of the sinful behaviour which leads to eternal damnation in hell.
As Paul makes clear in his first letter to the Corinthian church:
v.9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, v.10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. v.11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. 1Corinthians 6:9-11
The passage is both a warning and an encouragement. It is a warning in that it clearly states that those who do not turn and repent from their sinful behaviour (homosexuality being named among them), and a warning for us not to be deceived by those who claim that the listed sins are compatible with Christianity. It is also a source of encouragement, given in verse 11: “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God”.
Notice the words Paul uses: “And such were some of you”, “such” referring to those practicing the listed sinful behaviours, and “were” being a past tense meaning that those whom Paul is referring to practiced those behaviours in the past, but no longer do so, having been washed, sanctified and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Spirit of God. There is hope for those who are caught in the snare of sin that in the name of Jesus Christ, through the work of the Holy Spirit there is justification and sanctification, if we confess and repent of our sins. And for those of us who have been freed from the bondage of sin and death and are continually justified and sanctified daily, let us not forget the place that Christ freed us from, the place that God himself became flesh and blood and died a painful death on a cross in order to ransom us from our sins.
v.1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins v.2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— v.3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. v.4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, v.5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— v.6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, v.7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. v.8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, v.9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. v.10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:2-9
While we should not be trying to simply “win” arguments, we should also not be actively seeking to avoid such discussions or conflict, by compromising- that is to say, for example, when a friend brings up the fact that they support same-sex marriage and ask you about your thoughts on the matter, simply nodding and muttering indistinctly in agreement in order to avoid being questioned on your beliefs. Our actions should be characterised by an unshakeable conviction that God’s word is true and that it must be upheld. As Peter said in 1 Peter 3:17, it is better to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. Whom do you love more? Christ, who in loving obedience to the Father became a man and died for your sins? Or man, whose praises are far from having eternal value?