Tough Love




This meme, which has littered my Facebook feed for several weeks, accompanied by comments along the lines of “So true!” and “Yeah!” and “Wish all Christians felt this way!”, absolutely breaks my heart.


And probably not for the reason you think it does.

I Corinthians 7 has this to say about divorce:
10To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): the wife should not separate from her husband 11(but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife.


This is the only place in the Bible that I could find any instructions for what happens after “he shall issue her a certificate of divorce.” (Deuteronomy 24) The “consequences” of divorce are a broken home, confused or possibly traumatized children, and a poor example of the love of Christ and trustworthiness of Christians. If I am wrong, someone please correct me, but I could not find ANYWHERE in the Bible where it said someone (man or woman) should be stoned for divorcing. 
Malachi 2 says God hates divorce, Matthew 5 says, 31“It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.


Now, I assume that the consequences that this meme is referring to are the consequences for adultery (stoning) or sex outside of marriage, including rape (usually resulting in a shotgun wedding). And, while I won’t be taking a stance on that today, I will say that severe, consistently enforced consequences greatly limit the amount of infractions. 


All that to say, the comparison is deeply flawed, but his premise is correct: Sin is sin is sin. God hates divorce Malachi 2), God hates idolatry (Deuteronomy 16), God hates the violent man (Psalm 11). 
Proverbs 6:16 says:  There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: 17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18 a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, 19 a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.


Hmmm, seems like there are a lot of things that tick God off. But here’s what He has to say about homosexuality in I Corinthians 6:8

But you yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers!  9Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.


Sin is sin, and people are sinners. Some have been washed, sanctified, and justified, but all are sinners. Is it wrong to judge someone else’s level of sin or whether or not they are saved? Abso-friggin-lutely. Is is wrong to point out, in love, when someone is living in a way that is completely contrary to what the Bible teaches? Absolutely not. There is a big, fat, neon line between loving people, all people, and supporting lifestyles that fly in the face of God’s laws. Verse 9 says that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God, and that sounds like a pretty serious consequence to me. Loving someone is not encouraging or enabling them to live in sin. Loving someone is being willing to tell the truth about what the Bible says, and what it says the consequences are for sin. We tend to think that the Bible is outdated, and because it doesn’t match up with what our culture says, it no longer applies. When did we go from, “everybody sins” to “it’s ok to sin, because Christ died for you”? Paul says that “all things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable for me.” What he means by that is, if we accept Christ, our sin is no longer going to damn us to Hell. But just because it’s not sending us to Hell, doesn’t mean it’s GOOD for us. 


As a teen, I would often try to convince my parents that I could watch a certain movie by telling them what it didn’t have. 
“It only has 25 swear words in it, and they only use the F-word once.” (Thank you,
“They don’t actually show him getting decapitated. Someone told me so!”
“There’s nothing wrong with it because it’s only rated PG-13! I’m 14 years old, so it’s ok for me!”
My mom’s constant rejoinder was, “I don’t care what’s not wrong with it, what is right with it?” 
Which was typically met with sullen teenage silence, or a weak argument on the beauty of Johnny Depp and a listing of every other teenager I knew who had seen the much-desired movie, usually followed by a treatise on how strict their parents were or weren’t and how that should be good enough reason. It generally wasn’t.


It breaks my heart that this is the attitude we take with God. We shove aside His laws because we aren’t content in our situation, or because we aren’t content with the way He created us, because everyone else is doing it, or simply because we don’t care. Often, it’s just too much work to follow the rules. Nobody ever broke the rules because they thought it would be hard. Humans as a species are utterly lazy and willing to take the path of least resistance at the drop of a hat. It is easier to go with the flow of society, and shove “fitting in” under the umbrella of “love thy neighbor.” We are making excuses for not making waves. Jesus wasn’t afraid to make waves; He flipped tables, called out religious leaders, ate with prostitutes, and upset every social norm He ran into. But He never said, “It’s ok, just keep on sinning, because I love you no matter what.” He said, “You are forgiven, now go, and sin no more.” 


Here is my response to the statement that “The Bible says to love thy neighbor… so we as a church family have to support equality with a smile on our face.” (Feel free to sub in whatever sin is the biggest hot button in your life)
1) YES absolutely we are to love EVERYONE. Unconditionally. And we are to show that love in a Christ-like fashion. 
2) Sometimes people screw up. Loving them is NOT ignoring their screw-ups, but helping them through it. 
3) If we say we love someone, but excuse the on-going sin in their life instead of addressing it, we are sabotaging not only their chance at a life of peace with God, but also our own witness. 


John 8:3 The scribes and the Pharisees *brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court, 4 they *said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. 5 Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?” 6 They were saying this, testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground. 7 But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9 When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court. 10 Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” 11 She said, “No one, [a]Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.”






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