DO. NOT. TOUCH. THE. FENCE. My warning was stern and to the point as I watched my 2-year-old inching toward the electric fence on his great-grandfather’s farm. The sly look on his face was playful, yet dangerous. Determined to ignore my fatherly caution, he slowly raised his hand to touch the fence, only to shed crocodile tears after I slapped it away. “DO. NOT. TOUCH. THE. FENCE. OR. ELSE!,” I reiterated. Convinced of my cruelty in that moment, my son looked at me with anger and bewilderment, before whispering to his mother, “Daddy doesn’t love me anymore.” Undeterred, I insisted once more that he stay away from the fence. Within the hour, though, my stubborn firstborn child would take hold of the electric wire when my back was turned. The tears returned, but this time he was in my lap seeking consolation rather than questioning the motives and concern behind my instruction.
I think of that scene often because it has played out again and again as I have sought to provide loving protection and guidance for each of my children. A similar dilemma surfaces every June during Pride month as the LGBTQ community and their allies insist that loving others requires complete affirmation and endorsement of their lifestyles. Speaking the truth in love is no longer couth in a world full of itching ears that only want to hear their views reinforced (2 Tim. 4:3). Those who falsely conflate love with agreement quickly label Christians who hold biblical views of sexuality as bigots, homophobes, and transphobes while simultaneously dismissing competing views as hate speech.
Through well-placed marketing campaigns LGBTQ proponents boldly proclaim—Love Wins. Spread Love Not Hate. And Love is Love. The clear implication is that any disagreement is hateful and unkind, the opposite of love. Some canonize these slogans in an effort to rival the clear teaching from Holy Scripture. Others choose to hijack the Bible’s message for their unholy agenda by ripping a few verses about love out of context. The New Testament clearly teaches that we are to love others, but does that really mean we must agree with every possible sexual ethic? Is today’s revival of free love really a fulfillment of the commandment to love your neighbor as yourself?
Tragically, we want the reality of God’s love apart from the reality of God’s truth. Love, according to God, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth (1 Cor. 13:6). The God who loved the world enough to offer His Son as a sacrifice on the cross (John 3:16) takes no pleasure whatsoever in wickedness (Psalm 5:4). In other words, God’s love for us does not result in His turning a blind eye to our sins, but His covering them through the shedding of Jesus’ blood instead (1 John 4:10).
After Jesus healed a man at Bethesda’s pool (surely an expression of love), He also instructed Him, “Do not sin anymore, so that nothing worse happens to you (John 5:14).” When Jesus comforted a woman caught in adultery, He did not affirm her broken lifestyle. Quite the opposite, He told her to go and sin no more (John 8:11). By today’s standards, some would undoubtedly call Jesus a hatemonger for correcting these wayward followers. Merely quoting Christ’s words, unless you repent, you will all likewise perish (Luke 13:3), predictably evokes the scorn of all who want the pleasure of their sins without forfeiting the peace of God’s forgiveness.
Yet, the message of Christianity is that the redeemed come out of their sins, not that they take pride in them. God will no more allow His children to boast in their sins than a lifeguard would allow a drowning child to remain in the ocean. Like a loving Father, He gives direction that we need even when we do not like it. But it is love, not hatred that undergirds the sobering warnings of Scripture. God does not hide his condemnation of sin because He is eager to save sinners. And it’s not just the sin of homosexuality that God condemns. The Apostle Paul did not mince words by asking, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9-10).
If these words seem harsh to you, consider them an invitation. God loves each of us enough to reveal the way of forgiveness and salvation. Don’t believe me? Immediately after highlighting such egregious sins, Paul quickly assures, “Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God (1 Cor. 6:11).” Remarkably, any person who calls on the name of Christ can be born again (Rom. 10:13) because He is the way, the truth, and life (John 14:6).
Real love; biblical love; Christian love is not blind affirmation of the deceptions repeated in our culture. Even when painful, the truth will set us free (John 8:32). Lies are the enemies of love. I told my son the truth all those years ago because I deeply love Him. God help us all to be just as caring when we see those around us in danger today. Dr Adam B. Dooley is pastor of Englewood Baptist Church in Jackson, TN, and author of Hope When Life Unravels. Contact him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @AdamBDooley.