Even though Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day was a couple of days ago there are still lots of people talking about it. In Christian circles there are many voicing concern that we made a “bold mistake” that widens the divide between Christians and the LGBT community.
Matthew Paul Turner says that Christians failed to ‘love our neighbors’ when we went to Chick0-fil-A and lists among his 5 reasons that we caused a large group of people to feel hated. Rachel Held Evans feels disconnected from the Christian community who ate chicken sandwiches to prove a point. Kimberly Knight gives a personal voice to the pain that the event caused her, concluding that her Christian foundation is always shocked by hate.
For some “putting skin” on Jesus’ words means we should show love to our neighbor and not judge them. What that translates to for many is that love is only shown when we accept the person and the choices a person makes. When we explain that their actions are sinful and say that we don’t agree with them then we are failing to show love. Scripture says love is patient and kind. For many that means avoiding any morale judgment on another. Love is not glad about wrongdoing is reduced to meaning we must be being willing to overlook it to avoid conflict and discomfort.
So is that the kind of love that Jesus wants from us? Or can we love someone without endorsing their choices?
Does Jesus hate sin while also loving people?
Jesus was a friend of sinners but he never condoned their sin.
An event is recorded in John 7:53-8:11 where Jesus was tested by the Pharisees. They brought before Him a woman caught in adultery. The issue of the moment was not whether she had committed this offense but what to do with her now? The challenge to Jesus was will you obey the Mosaic Law and call for her to be stoned (Lev 20:10; Exodus 20:14; Deut 5:18; 22:22-24).
Jesus first deals with the Pharisees. Their motives are improper and they lack any mercy and grace. They did not seek restoration for the woman but only desired to humiliate her and hurt Jesus (Gal 6:1-2; James 5:19-20). They clearly misunderstood their own sin problem and their need for forgiveness.
Once they left, Jesus turned to the woman and said:
I do not condemn you either. Go, and from now on do not sin any more.
The idea that we need to accept the actions of another person to show love is contrary to how Jesus acted here. He dealt with her graciously and extended forgiveness to her. Then He told her she was free to go. But Jesus did not accept her actions. He made it clear that her actions were wrong and that her adultery was not an acceptable lifestyle.
Jesus knew that if He had just told her to go without addressing her conduct that would have shown hate for her as Leviticus 19:17 tells us:
You must not hate your brother in your heart. You must surely reprove your fellow citizen so that you do not incur sin on account of him.
We show hate – not love – when we fail to correct someone. Jesus knew that being a true friend to this woman meant saying something that would sting but was what she needed to hear:
Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy. (Proverbs 27:6)
Does Jesus hate sin while also loving people?
We can learn much from this event recorded in John. Both the Pharisees and Jesus told the woman she was a sinner. But there goals were different. One did it out of hate the other out of love. One did it to prove a point the other to restore a lost soul. Our motives and how we communicate matters a great deal.
For some they will only see Pharisees in line at Chick-fil-A proving a point and creating division. But that division was not created by people standing in line at Chick-fil-A. The division was already there. And it is caused because any action by the Christian community short of complete acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle is going to be considered hate.
But let’s not lose sight of the fact that Jesus did not accept the actions of the woman. He called then wrong and then offered forgiveness. Yet we know that He loved her. When Jesus said “don’t judge” he did not mean we should not evaluate the actions of others, but wanted us to understand that we should do it with humility. The standards we use to judge others should be equally applied to our own lives (Matt 7:1-5). We need to remember we are all sinners. We all need forgiveness. That is what the Pharisees forgot.
Jesus showed us how to lovingly deal with sin, and also gave us a helpful guide when sin does occur (Matt 18:15-20). Showing another person love does not mean we say that action is good when God does not. The goal is to help the person who has sinned learn and grow, experience forgiveness, and go and sin no more.
I am still a work in progress, but I know I would not be the person I am today without people willing to call me out on the many times I have made a mess of things. I have grown because of you! Thank you!
[For the record I ate at Chick-fil-A today too]