Sunday, May 18, 2014

What's in a name?

A friend of mine remarked that he was sick of being labeled, as a Christian, a gay-hater.  If you knew my friend, even for five minutes, you would know that this label was the furthest thing from the truth.  He literally hates no one.  However, because he is a Christian and he holds that the Bible is the Word of God, he therefore also believes that homosexuality is a sin.  Not just any sin, but one that consigns its practitioner to an eternity in hell. Ergo, he is a gay-hater.

It should not be surprising that as Christians each generation will find a new label for us.  Even "Christian" is a label that was not applied out of kindness (Acts 11:26).  It means, in essence, little messiah and it was intended to be derogatory.  Today it is hard for us to see this label as threatening.  It isn't really.  Not anymore.  That coupled with the fact that the church embraced the label as a sort of badge of honor, two-thousand years later "Christian" simply means a follow of Christ.

There were other such labels throughout history.  Later on Christians were labeled atheists because they refused to worship all other gods except one.  They got labeled protestant because the protested against the current church practices.  They were labeled Anabaptist because they refused to acknowledge the efficacy of child baptism and instead re-baptized (thus the epitaph) adults.  More recently those who held to a high view of Scripture (among some other things) were labeled Fundamentalists.  Those who sold out for Jesus were called Jesus-Freaks.  And the name game goes on and on.

Now none of these names seem overly hurtful and perhaps they are not.  They all accurately, to one degree or another, reflected a truth about the Christians of the time so they were eventually and gladly embraced by the various groups.   Which makes them quite different from that of "gay-hater".  We don't hate anyone.  We love even the homosexual who hates us without a cause. But on the other hand we shouldn't be surprised when we are labeled for that is something that has been going on from a long time.  But the real question is going to be: Is it true?

Yes, we believe homosexuality is wrong, sinful and vary harmful to both to the homosexual and to society.  Not only does Scripture teach this, but I believe history will bare witness to this some day.  But to label this as hate is simply inflammatory and counterproductive.  If only I could say that for all Christians the label was false.  But I know of so-called Christians who hate.  But they aren't Christians.  They are pretenders who have never met the Messiah-Christ-God-Man who came down off of his mountain to live among us and to die at the hands of those whom he came to save, all the while praying from the cross, "Father forgive them".  Telling them the truth about what they were doing and their terminal condition got him crucified.  However, it didn't make him a hater.  Anyone who can look at what he did and call that hate really doesn't have a clue.

Hater?  No. Label me what you like. People have being doing that for centuries.  But at least make the label a good one, one that tells the real truth, one that I can embrace.

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