In response to an article by Franklin Graham, in which he laid out a case that true followers of Jesus could not condone same-sex marriage, I commented that followers of Jesus could condone same sex marriage and still be saved, but only at the expense of ignoring portions of God’s word.
Following this comment, I was harshly accused of rewriting the gospel. Exactly what gospel is it, however, that I am guilty of rewriting and what does same-sex marriage have to do with the gospel at all?
Before I get into what the gospel is, let me provide some background on the condition of humanity as a foundation for this discussion.
What the Bible describes in a nutshell is a world initially created perfect and without sin. The first humans, Adam and Eve, were created with “free will” giving them the ability to choose right or wrong. Sin entered the human race with Adam and Eve’s first disobedience to God’s instruction in the Garden of Eden and ever since then man has been born in sin and wholly sinful through the seed of Adam. The Bible teaches that there is now no one righteous, that all have sinned (Rom 3:23). Rom 6:23 gives a clear explanation that we all, every human ever created, are destined to die and suffer an eternity in unending torment and separation from God. The wages for sin is death.
The gospel (or “Good News”) spoken of in scripture is God’s plan to counteract the effects of sin in the world and reconcile us to Himself.
God, in His foreknowledge, knew that sin in man would destroy our relationship with Him. God created us for a relationship with Him and part of His plan in creation was reconciliation because He loves us despite our sin. What greater love could He have shown than to become one of His creation in the person of Jesus. Jesus was the only human ever born who did not come from the sin stained seed of Adam, as Mary was directly impregnated by God. What other than a great and unconditional love could motivate Jesus to Humble Himself, born as baby, enduring the struggles of growing up as a human, enduring the pain, ridicule, torture, injustice and finally death on a cross in order to pay the penalty for our sin and taking the punishment we deserve. Jesus, being God, could have stopped at any time saying, “I have had enough of this”, and gone back to heaven. But He persevered and pressed on because of a deep and enduring love for you and me and every individual He created. Only a sinless human could substitute himself for the sin of another and no one can live a sinless life other than God Himself. There were no other options and Jesus willingly laid down His life for ours out of a great love for humanity. No one forced Jesus to go through the crucifixion and the nails didn’t hold Him there. His love did.
Please continue to bear with me a little while longer as the best is yet to come. I do not look down on anyone as being “more” or “less” sinful because of any particular sin. I only look up to Jesus as my Lord and Savior. There is nothing I can do to save myself, nor anyone else themselves. I also could not have endured my trials when I was injured in 1990, nor the struggles I have had since without the hope I have in Jesus. He is in control and when my life here and now comes to an end, I will spend an eternity with Jesus in heaven. I endure because I can view all I go through now as light momentary affliction compared to the glory that awaits me in heaven. The Bible describes our lives as a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. This will seem like absolutely nothing when compared with an eternal dwelling in heaven.
I base my beliefs not on a book written simply by men but by God Himself through the pens of 40+ men from varying backgrounds and conditions over a 1500 year time span, describing a single unified plan of salvation and redemption from sin, validated by prophecy and of which I have yet to hear of a verifiable contradiction or error that does not have a reasonable explanation, understanding, or interpretation. Textual criticism has revealed that there is more evidence as to the reliability and accuracy of the text and meaning of the Bible than all other ancient or historical books combined. There is more evidence for the historical truth and accuracy of the resurrection of Jesus than any other event in ancient history.
The miracle of the compilation and accuracy of the Bible is an amazing attestation to God’s existence and love for His creation. It is God’s love letter to us to reconcile our relationship with Him. This leaves us with a choice that you must decide for yourself between you and God. The Bible makes it clear that we will all be held accountable for what we do in this life, receiving punishment for unrepentant and unforgiven sins we have committed or rewards for a life lived for the glory of God.
Before going any further, I want to make it absolutely clear that by sinner I am not singling out homosexuality or same-sex marriage in particular but a more general term regarding all sin in our lives. The specifics of what sins God ultimately convicts you of personally are between you and God. While the Bible is clear that homosexuality is a sin (I will address this specifically in a separate post), so is lying, cheating, stealing, adultery, pride in ourselves, complaining about things that are not wrong, and the list goes on.
If the Bible is not true and Jesus was not God and did not rise from the dead, then my faith is in vain, I have missed out on a few things I have avoided because of a devotion to a dead God. Life simply comes to an end after, if I am lucky, 100 years, and there is no ultimate hope or purpose in life other than to see how much I can accomplish before I am gone. But even if the Bible is not true, the hope that it has given me has enabled me to live a much fuller life than I would ever have had wallowing in the misery of my missed opportunities because of my disability.
If the Bible is true, however, then anyone who is living for themselves, apart from a relationship with Jesus, is a sinner and destined to die and suffer an eternity in Hell apart from the saving grace of God. An eternity in Hell will make the highlights in this life seem like a once in a lifetime trip to Disney World that can never be repeated, and leaving you suffering in eternal torment with never any relief or hope of escape.
It is eternity that is at stake here. If you want to receive God’s forgiveness and receive new life in Christ, He will not force it on you but has done what is necessary to be able to offer it as a gift to any who wish to receive it. Please follow this link to find scripture passages describing how to receive his forgiveness: http://christianity.about.com/od/conversion/qt/romansroad.htm
While the gospel is big on love, it is not soft on sin. Any individual entangled in sin of any kind, not limited to homosexuality, may convince themselves that it is not a sin. I am in no position to condemn because I, as well, am sinful. However, we will all receive judgment for our choices and actions. Even if we believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior, if we have lived our lives not repenting of a particular sin, we will suffer great loss. We may still obtain eternal life, but suffer loss when our deeds are revealed for what they are, whether good or bad. This loss will be especially great if that sin is a defining aspect of our lives. This is precisely the case regarding same sex marriage and homosexuality. The Bible clearly defines homosexuality and same sex romance as sin. These are defining aspects of one’s life and one better be sure as to not ignore Biblical teaching because it is not popular or because it conflicts with our feelings or politics of our culture. Because of the teaching in scripture on homosexuality, any follower of Jesus must either except what the Bible teaches on this topic, or ignore what the Bible teaches in order to condone same sex marriage. This does not necessarily affect one’s salvation, but will affect one’s eternal rewards and life assessment and judgment if there are unrepentant sins that are revealed.
I do have friends who have homosexual tendencies, I have friends who have committed adultery, friends who struggle with lying, with uncontrolled anger, and many other sins and I love them. I have my own sins that I must continually bring before the Lord. I do not personally condemn anyone, but because I love them and care about their eternal destiny, pass on as a warning what the Bible says. There is one who will condemn and time is running short.
Eternity is in the balance and we all must decide if we are going to live for the here and now and fight for things that are merely temporal in nature or live with our eternal destination and our love for our Savior, Redeemer and Lord as our motivation for living.