Earlier I pointed out how PCA Pastor, Scott Sauls, was causing people to doubt whether homosexuality is actually in conflict with Christianity. It is, as I already explained, but the gist of his argument is very compelling to conservative Christians today. In summary, that argument is, “Jesus hung out with prostitutes when he was on earth, so shouldn’t we stop hating the homosexuals?”
The problem here isn’t the claim that we should love homosexuals. The problem is that Sauls’ piece doesn’t help us to do so. It ends up twisting the life of Jesus to fit a false narrative, and pits the Bible against itself, leaving us with no idea how to love sinners biblically. Let’s see what we can learn, so we can avoid this error.
Sauls asks, “Can we see a way forward in which friendship and serving the common good become the main emphasis for the Christian and LGBTQ communities?” There are two pillars in this false narrative of love, and the first is friendship.
James 4:4 says, “You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” If you are honest with yourself, you will confess along with me, that friendship with the world is very tempting to pursue. Indeed, it seems that Sauls is caving in to that temptation. But someone might ask, “Wasn’t Jesus a friend of sinners?” Yes he was, but not in the way that this line of reasoning would have us believe. Jesus was not disobeying his own command.
Here is how Sauls puts it: “Jesus never once scolded or shamed a person whose sexual ethic was incongruent with his.” This is a common error, wherein Jesus is misrepresented as “being totally cool” with people sinning, and then we are urged to do “What Jesus Did.” But that’s a misrepresentation of how Jesus lived.
How was Jesus’ friendship different than what Sauls describes? Kevin DeYoung does a good job explaining it over on TGC: “What we see from the composite of these passages is that sinners were drawn to Jesus, that Jesus gladly spent time with sinners who were open to his teaching, that Jesus forgave repentant sinners, and that Jesus embraced sinners who believed in him.”
The prostitutes and tax collectors spending time with Jesus in the New Testament knew what they had been doing was wrong. You can tell because they are ashamed of it, and they leave that life behind. Is Jesus’ friendship responsible for this change? Absolutely. It’s central. But why is Jesus described as “a friend for sinners”? It’s because he led them out of their old way of life.
So which are you, a friend of sinners like Jesus, or a friend of the world becoming an enemy of God? The test is simple, if your friendship is content to let people wallow in their sin, it is not the friendship of Jesus. If your friendship causes them to turn aside from their sin, ashamed of it, then you are an imitator of Christ.
This leads us to the problem of “serving the common good” that the world wants us to pursue with homosexuals. Is it possible for both Christians and homosexuals to serve in soup kitchens together? Of course. But this is not at all what is meant by “serving the common good.”
Why can’t murderers and Christians just be friends and work together to serve the common good? Why can’t greedy people and Christians just be friends and work together to serve the common good? For two reasons. First, because their sin actually harms the common good, and second because “work together” is a euphemism for never pointing out that sin and the harm it causes.
So “can we see a way forward in which friendship and serving the common good become the main emphasis for the Christian and LGBTQ communities?” as Sauls advocates?
No. Because we are committed to being true friends to homosexuals, looking for their repentance and the salvation of their souls. We’re committed to loving like Jesus, not being friends with the world.