The Gospel and Hate Speech

Lord Jesus says, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

The apostle Paul says something similar, “Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.” (1 Corinthians 10:24)

The prophet Jeremiah, on telling his neighbors to repent, says to God, “Remember how I stood before You to speak good for them, to turn away Your wrath from them.” (Jeremiah 18:20)

One of the ways Christians seek the good of their neighbors is to look to their eternal well-being and thus help them be saved from the wrath of God against unrighteousness.  

We are unrighteous when we exercise our sexuality and express our gender identity in ways that go against God’s design for them, because we would be insulting His authority and creativity.  God has a right to punish us for sexual sins, just as He does with other sins, because they all oppose His glory.  All sins are considered rebellion against Him.  However, He gave us an opportunity to amend our ways and return to Him so we could instead enjoy the blessings of His presence. 

Hate speech is broadly defined as “speech that attacks a person or a group on the basis of attributes such as race, religion, ethnic origin, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity.”

Homophobia is defined as a range of negative attitudes and feelings toward homosexuality or people who are identified or perceived as being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

Preaching the gospel could be seen as speech that attacks a person or a group on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.  The gospel could also be seen as generating negative attitudes and feelings towards the LBGTQIA community.  But this broad definition is unhelpful because it is not placed in a proper and specific biblical context.  It gives the impression that the gospel is just meant to make people feel bad instead of helping them enjoy a reconciled relationship with their Creator.  

In other words, even though hate speech and the gospel both attack a person and group on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, they have very different purposes and goals in mind. 
-hate speech seeks evil and destruction against its audience
-the gospel seeks the eternal good of its audience

The Bible sees adopting certain sexual orientations and gender identities as rebellion against God, who then sets His wrath against these things among many other things that are done against Him.   However, He sent Lord Jesus to be our substitionary atonement.  Jesus took the death penalty and absorbed God’s wrath on behalf of everyone who would trust in Him to be their personal Lord and Savior.  When we covenant ourselves to Him, God sends the Holy Spirit who then regenerates our souls and works upon our disordered desires so we begin to enjoy Jesus as our treasure.  Instead of looking to our broken sexuality for satisfaction, we look to King Jesus. 

All of us are born sick, born with disordered desires and emotions.  We have a choice to either allow our desires free reign or to regulate them for the good of ourselves and others.  We have a choice to either follow the desires of our heart into sin or to submit them under God’s authority for our good and for His glory.    

Loving someone as yourself does not mean never making them feel bad, it means helping them understand the danger that they are in, so they could find joy in salvation. 

Hate speech just leaves people feeling bad and unwanted, but the gospel ultimately helps people find true joy and acceptance in God. Hate speech is a sharpened knife that kills you, but the gospel is a sharpened knife that saves you. 

Calling same-sex attraction and transgenderism a sin is not hate speech.  To say otherwise would be misleading our neighbors into trusting a lie, and preaching rebellion against God.  Calling a sin a sin is part of a process by which we seek to speak good for our neighbors, where we can turn away God’s wrath from them. As unpleasant as the topic of God’s wrath is, it is a reality that can be seen in the way God punished His covenant people with Babylon for their sins in 586 B.C.

Not only do we seek to turn away God’s wrath from our neighbors, we want them to know and enjoy His love and joy.  If His well-deserved wrath is so terrible, think of how grand and amazing His love and joy can be for those who seek forgiveness from Him.  When we preach the gospel, we do it so we can share with our neighbors in its blessings that come from a reconciled relationship with God.

Now even though the Bible calls certain sexual orientations and gender identities sin, God does not expect people to punish them on His behalf.  Sins are things done against God, and so God has the right and authority to forgive and punish them as He sees fit.  Thankfully, God sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins so those who trust in Jesus as their Lord and Savior would not have to face punishment.  But punishment is still reserved for those who fail to amend their ways and return to Him.  Yet, before that Day of Judgment comes, God does not expect anyone to punish transgressors on His behalf as He once did under the Mosaic covenant.

Anyone who do so would be acting as a vigilante, and would be punished for exercising an authority that is not theirs to exercise. 

 Therefore States/governments should decriminalize homosexuality, and should no longer punish, imprison, or execute individuals who are charged with this.  Lynching, a premeditated extrajudicial killing by a group, would also be wrong.  Both judicial and extrajudicial punishment would be usurping God’s authority on a sin that He will punish Himself.  In the meantime, Jesus appointed evangelists who would save men from God’s wrath, without any coercive power, by the management of His powerful word upon their consciences. 

To look at the matter another way:
-God states the conviction of homosexuality and transgenderism as sin.
-He sentenced the death penalty for these sins. 
-The enforcement of the death penalty lies in His hands, not in governments. 
-He offered Jesus as the substitute for rebels who ask for forgiveness from Him.
-He gives people a chance to know of this means of forgiveness because He wants us to live
-He will punish everyone who still fails to surrender to Him.

As a Judge, God has to punish sin because that is what justice mandates, but His love as a Father motivates Him to seek our reconciliation more than our punishment. 

Calling homosexuality and transgenderism a sin, while true, is one thing.  Throwing LGBT kids out on the streets and abandoning them is quite another and contrary to what God desires.  Instead, we should be kind, forbearing, and patient, hoping that our kindness will lead them to repentance, so they can fully enjoy the blessings that God provides. 

A Gospel Informed Thought on Environmentalism

Say that we were a tenant living in an apartment.
We were found guilty of violating our lease.
The landlord has legal grounds to evict us before our lease has ended.
We are also horrible at keeping the apartment clean to the point that it is becoming a public health hazard to ourselves.
Which case takes priority?
Seeking forgiveness from the landlord or cleaning up our apartment?

If we were to try to clean up our apartment without seeking forgiveness from the landlord, we would be kicked out of our apartment once the landlord saw fit to do so.  We would be leaving our now clean apartment for another to inhabit, but we ourselves would be out of luck.

The priority should be to seek forgiveness from the landlord, not just on keeping the apartment clean. While we should devote some of our time to cleaning up our apartment, we should devote the rest of our time to getting back on good terms with our landlord so the apartment remains ours to keep.

Not only that, but the landlord would actually help us out once we’re back on good terms with him.  This landlord would go the extra distance and help us clean up our apartment.

  • God entrusted the earth to mankind to steward for His glory and for our benefit.
  • We have been terrible at taking care of it the best way we know how.
  • For all intents and purposes, He can evict us from the earth and start anew.
  • However He sent Jesus to be the means by which we can be forgiven of our violations of our lease.
  • Once we seek reconciliation with Him, the earth would remain ours and the world would be renewed starting with our moral transformation.

However much our science can help us manage our resources better (and they have), they still do not hold a candle to the possibilities that God has in store should we enlist His aid.  He currently is not legally bound to help all of us, since much of our neighbors still remain in a state of rebellion against Him.  They remain at war with God until they accept the peace treaty that is Christ Jesus.

So if you were to ask me why Christians prioritize the preaching of the gospel, it is because getting back on good terms with our landlord takes priority since He has legal rights to evict us from our planet for breaking our lease with Him.  He graciously provided a means by which we could be reconciled with Him and through a renewed legal contract, He would be legally obligated to help us with our problems, even as we do what we can to solve them on our own.  God is our greatest ally, why should we not do what we can to enlist His aid?

How the Gospel Informs Public Policy

The God of the Bible made us in His own image.
Being made in His image, we are dependent creatures made for the purpose of honoring, loving, and glorifying Him.
Our relationship is that of a subject to a king, or a citizen to a government:
“Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed” (Romans 13:7).

There’s just one problem: we have all disobeyed our rightful King, forsaken Him, broken our covenant/agreement with Him, committed adultery against Him with idols.

One of the ways we dishonor God is by dishonoring the image of God in one another.  We express this rebellion in many ways and it shows up in the issues that concern us: immigration, gun laws, police brutality, racism, sexuality, gender equality, abortion, drugs, Syria, Russia, North Korea, China, etc.

For all intents and purposes, God has the right to punish us all befitting the measure of our deeds.

“But rebels and sinners shall be broken together,
and those who forsake the LORD shall be consumed.”
(Isaiah 1:28)

There’s a sense in which our sins are their own punishment, which is the case when a country suffers from bad leadership:

“Your princes are rebels
and companions of thieves.
Everyone loves a bribe
and runs after gifts.
They do not bring justice to the fatherless,
and the widow’s cause does not come to them.”
(Isaiah 1:23)

When law enforcement is perverted where laws are lax as in the case of gun violence (insufficient regulation of access), or laws are present but poorly enforced (poorly enforced background check), the people suffer.

If social ills come from sin, and sin is our main problem where we are estranged from God, what hope do we have of solving our collective dilemma?

Thankfully, our rightful King offered us rebels a peace treaty through which we could be reconciled to Him and begin to enjoy the blessings He has available for us. As a general rule, people prosper when we model our thoughts and behaviors after God’s character of justice, love, mercy, and grace.

How are we to be reconciled? Repentance.  What is repentance?  It is dropping your arms of rebellion, asking the LORD for forgiveness and then performing acts consistent with that attitude of penitence, or “bearing fruit in keeping with repentance” as the Bible calls it (Matthew 3:8).

The LORD himself says:
“If you return, O Israel, declares the LORD, to me you should return.
If you remove your detestable things from my presence, and do not waver,
and if you swear, “As the LORD lives,” in truth, in justice, and in righteousness,
then nations shall bless themselves in him,
and in him shall they glory.” (Jeremiah 4:1-2)

In another place, “fruit in keeping with repentance” would look like the following:

“Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean;
remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes;
cease to do evil,
learn to do good;
seek justice,
correct oppression;
bring justice to the fatherless,
plead the widow’s cause.”
(Isaiah 2:2)

Thus from a biblical perspective, the social ills that plague our society ultimately stem from a failure to give God the honor that He is due.  It is in the fear of Him, that our good works are done well and bless others and ourselves.

In our present time, “Return to Me,” and “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean” ultimately means that we are to be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ.

If we are to “remove the evil of our deeds before His eyes,” that simply means that after being reconciled to our King through Jesus, we now live a life consistent with our renewed allegiance to our rightful King, a life which expresses itself through the way we interact with one another, including the laws that we make to promote the public good and pursue justice.

It is mysterious, but our Creator chooses to express Himself as three distinct centers of consciousness: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  God the Son entered human history as Jesus of Nazareth to suffer the punishment that we humans deserve for dishonoring Him and one another.

It is said in Isaiah 53:4-6 of Jesus:

“Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned – every one – to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”

Jesus had to die on the cross on Good Friday and rise from the dead on Easter Sunday to be the historical means by which we rebels could be reconciled to the King we so grievously betrayed.  The eternal worth of His person was the only sufficient means by which our eternal debt of sin could be paid.  He is the only appointed means by which our sins are washed away, and through which we can come before God the Father.

If we pray to Jesus to ask Him to be our Lord and Savior, asking Him for the forgiveness of our sins, then we will be reconciled to Him.  Being reconciled to Him, we enter a formal covenantal relationship with Him, whereby He agrees to be our mediator between the Father and ourselves, and we agree to be His people living a life consistent with allegiance to Him, and Jesus sends us the Spirit to aid us in our lives.

With reconciliation to God and enablement by the Spirit, we are better equipped and motivated to seek laws and public policies that promote the good of our neighbor, not just in our own country but for those in other nations as well.

I would argue that public policies are at their best when they are in alignment with God’s character, and this occurs well when people are reconciled to God in Christ Jesus and living a life consistent with that renewed allegiance.

Jesus is the most important person through which this outcome of public good can happen, because it is through Him and in Him that we are connected to God, and the abundant joys and blessings inherent in God can begin to flow into us and through us out into the rest of the world.  Such a sequence of events fulfills the promise, “If you swear, “As the LORD lives,” in truth, in justice, and in righteousness, then nations shall bless themselves in him, and in him shall they glory,” a statement which echoes and fulfills the Abrahamic promise: “In your offspring shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.”

So I implore you, dear reader, be reconciled to God. For our sake God made Christ to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Christ, we might become the righteousness of God.  That same righteousness manifests itself in good works done for the glory of God and includes, seeks, and creates the happiness of ourselves and of our neighbors.