I was trying to finish a task at work, but my introvert brain kept getting derailed by a phone conversation in the adjoining office. I closed my door so I could concentrate.
This wasn’t the first time I’d done this, which is why my extroverted co-worker remarked, “You close your door because you hate me!”
Somehow, her joke didn’t come across as humorous. If I need space, I “hate” you? Really?
Like that scene at the office, the label “hater” in our politically correct culture is thrown around far too quickly—ironically, often by folks who otherwise object to name-calling.
What bothers me most is when people equate disagreement with hatred.
For example, some members of the LGBT+ community accuse Christians of being haters because we hold to a traditional view of sex and marriage, and we don’t see enabling sin as the loving thing to do.
But then there’s the sad reality that some Christians make disparaging, insensitive remarks which drive LGBT+ people away from the church.
Case in point: recently, a Northern California pastor posted a message on his church’s marquee which read, “Bruce Jenner is still a man. Homosexuality is still sin. The culture may change. The Bible does not.”
Now, I can’t think of a time when I’ve actually been a fan of any message on a church marquee, let alone one that makes a stab at one person in particular and alienates a whole people group to boot.
The message of Jesus is a healing, redemptive message of love and welcome to folks with issues—FYI, that’s all of us. Christians have no business barring the gates of the kingdom.
I get that. And yet I’m really challenged in this area.
I keep thinking about how the opposite of love isn’t hate; it’s indifference. So I can’t congratulate myself for not putting up finger-pointing signs. Instead, I have to ask myself,
“How approachable am I to people who are different than me?”
I haven’t had all that many conversations with people who experience same-sex attraction or are dealing with sexual identity issues. I’m guilty of mostly living in awkward-silence mode.
Which makes me realize I’m probably not as loving as I’d like to think.
Love always cares. Love is never indifferent.
So I’ve pushed myself recently. I just read Space at the Table: Conversations between an Evangelical Theology Professor and his Gay Son, by Brad and Drew Harper.
I found this bittersweet father-and-son story to be deeply unsettling. It rocked my world. It rattled my carefully constructed, preconceived notions.
That’s because it’s not a happy-ending kind of story so much as it’s an ongoing invitation for us to listen to those with whom we disagree.
“I believe with all my heart that through relationship we can both retain our own views of the world and still come to place of common ground, of love,” writes Brad.
Teaching correct doctrine on the issues of the day is not the great challenge of the gospel. (The people who did a great job at that in Jesus’ day were called Pharisees—just saying.)
No, the great challenge of the gospel is to love like Jesus loved—deeply and sacrificially, without compromising the truth.
I still feel defensive at the idea of being called a hater just because I agree with Scripture on issues of sexuality. That said, I’m willing to re-evaluate what hate can look like.
For a follower of Jesus, silent indifference toward any group of people is not an option.
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