Written by Morgan DeLisle
Edited by Steven Spear, Jr.
While roaming around Golden State Park in San Francisco, my sister and I turned onto a trail and saw a simple golden plaque stating that the path led to the Aids Memorial Grove and reminding visitors that the memorial should be respected with a level quiet. Google maps led us steadily forward, and a tunnel of trees quickly opened to a secluded field surrounded on every side by tall trees and carpeted by soft grass. Blaring music set an upbeat mood as we realized we had walked into the center of a gay pride celebration, with men in pairs strolling in and laying out blankets and setting up chairs, carrying coolers and greeting each other with smiles and excitement. The atmosphere was charged with happiness and a contentment that seemed to perfectly honor the Aids victims the grove was dedicated to. We strolled through, continuing on our way. A contented feeling lingered as we walked.
The whole grove reminded me of my favorite nights at church: when you walk in and know you are welcomed, know people are excited to see you, know you can talk to anyone and know they are glad to share life with you. It’s a feeling caused by a shared thing. At church, that’s Christ. In the Grove, it was sexual preference. That shared thing binds both groups together and to something much larger than themselves, forming a community.
You may be reeling at the comparison of loud music and rainbow banners to long pews and hymns, but stick with me. Gay pride month is something the vast majority of Christians would end if given the chance, seeing it as a disgusting celebration of immorality. I cannot and have no desire to deny that God states that homosexuality is a sin, and that He does not approve of it. I am a Christian, am straight, and am not scared of saying that, as my friends with various sexualities have found when the conversation arises. Gay pride month goes against the law of a God I believe to be holy and thus justifiably full of wrath, as we see in acts like the worldwide flood or the total destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (ancient cities known for sexual deviance). And yet, Gay Pride month is very much a part of the world we live in. The legalities of that fact will be discussed in a different article, but for now, back to the point.
God hates sin.
But I think if we really understood that hate, we would not be filled with rage as rainbow flags fly and sexualities are explained in article after article.
God hates sin with every fiber of His being, and we are quick to cite His holiness as the reason. God is undoubtedly holy, completely without sin. However, I think that we would build a stronger case for God’s hatred of sin if we root it in the other all-encompassing attribute we worship Him for: love.
God is love. That love is extended to us, as shown in full at the cross, proving beyond a doubt that this love will stop at nothing to reach us. Followers of Christ are called to mimic this love: a seemingly impossible task, especially when thinking of extending it to things like Gay Pride month. We tend to answer the challenge with a simple “hate the sin, love the sinner” and move on, mission accomplished.
The phrase begs the question, though: why do we hate the sin? In theory, because we are copying Christ, and He hates sin. So then, why does He hate sin? If we are following the idea that this is because of love, we have to dismiss most of the reasons we choose to hate sin: we find it disgusting, it makes us uncomfortable, it infringes on our happiness, and the fact that disapproving of someone else’s actions means we are better than them in some way. If love is the reason Christ hates sin, we must accept that His hatred is not born of any of these very human feelings, but of a supernatural desire to protect us.
God hates sin because it destroys us utterly. It eats away at our hearts, distracts us from our purpose, demands all that we have while giving us nothing in return, destroys our relationships with each other and denies us the opportunity of knowing Him. God, driven by an eternal love that desires us passionately, cannot stand to see our destruction through sin. He hates it as families hate the cancer that ravages their loved ones. He hates what hurts those He loves.
“Hate the sin, love the sinner” pales in comparison to that kind of love and the hate it produces. This is not a hatred of a lifestyle different than ours or of a lack of morality we fear is spreading that causes us to try and convert or silence a group of people. It is a love for and of people, that drives us to know them, recognize them and step into life with them. We must not forget that the same God that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah was accused of being too secular because of the people He ate and drank with while on Earth (Matthew 11:19).
As the church, we must be found practicing holiness and love, passionately pursuing and being radically changed by both. Should that come about, I think we would find that Gay Pride month breaks our hearts because we see people we have not reached, people we have not convinced of the love of God. We would find that honest conversations occur amongst friends where neither honesty nor love are sacrificed on the altar of ego or anger. And we would find that the love of God is still a captivating force, the single power strong enough to draw us from any sin when we choose to live it out and put it on display.
This Gay Pride month, may the church be found loving scandalously, living above reproach, and praying tirelessly. Love, when nothing else can be done. Love, not because it will fix everything, but because hate has never fixed anything. Love, because we have been loved in our own lifestyles of sin, in our deepest depravity. Love, because all else will fade.
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