God, help me both to think and to write clearly, to express no thoughts for the sake of pleasing man but only those thoughts which will challenge men toward greater faith.
The other day, I read an opinion piece in our local newspaper. The author began by declaring the throngs of individuals living in our area who both believe in God and accept homosexuality as a fully acceptable lifestyle. However, the final line especially caught me: a group of young people are affirmed for supporting the LGBT community, with the claim that justice is on their side.
The author then claims the following: “God – who can do nothing but love – is, too.”
There is much that might be said to this. There is first the boldness (read “audacity”) of putting such words and thoughts into God’s mouth. In another light, this statement is essentially a religious teaching about the assumed nature of God.
I certainly have many thoughts in response to this treatment of God, but these would best be shared directly with the author and in a context of personal communication rather than through an indirect or incendiary blog post. However, one question this comments points toward is, I think, important for Christians and non-Christians everywhere to consider…
Which is more important to God: that every human being knows He loves them, and feels His love for them, experiences it, or that every human being knows who He is, His nature and His character?
Look again at the author’s statement above. He assumes that God is on the side of individuals engaging in homosexuality because “[He] can do nothing but love.” (He earlier defines this affirming attitude toward homosexuality as the belief that “Gay and lesbian folks are fine just the way they are.”) The writer’s theology hinges entirely on what he perceives to be the love of God: this love defines the character of God for him.
This is why the question above is so crucial. Is the Christian message, the gospel message, ultimately a declaration of the love of God for all mankind, or is it a declaration of the full character of God to a humanity that knows Him not?
Some might say this is a false dichotomy, as the character of God comprises love; but this is where the subtle folly enters. Consider first how much of the Word, which is itself an index card to the library of His fullness, is devoted to character discourse rather than sentimental discourse. Let’s be clear: God does love every person who has ever been (John 3:16). But rare are the open declarations of love, while statements of His nature and character run throughout the Bible. The phrase “I am the LORD” appears 188 times in the ESV, while God Himself declares “I love you” (so precious!) only once, in Isaiah 43. His love is elsewhere described and confirmed – yes, He loves – but first and foremost He is the LORD. And this is not merely to express His name: this is to communicate His character, the very Who He is.
This matters for a very important reason: we must know His full character, know Him as God, know Him as holy and set apart, Original, Righteous and True, and we must know this before we know His love for us because apart from His character, we would not know what love is! We would apply everything we believe about love to God Himself, ignoring those facets of His character which do not align with our view. But love is not a constant force apart from God, to which God mostly adheres in His dealings with men; this would be as much to say that love is God. The reverse is true – God is love – and so we must know the fulness of His character, all of His thoughts and passions and ferocity and meekness if we are to know what love is.
Our local author has confused the two. Many young believers are doing the same. But God will not be parsed or reduced, and He would rather people reject Him for Who He is than “accept” Him for who He isn’t. Consider the whole character of God; take in all of His words. His love and His holiness are complete, and completely intimate with each other. If His whole heart were to tell humanity that He loves us, no matter what we do, the Bible might have been much, much shorter. But He loves us enough not to leave us as we are, not to tell us we are “fine just the way we are.” We are not fine. We don’t know what love is.
I hope we all surrender to the holiness of the God who loves us dearly.