Why are Christians divided over same-sex marriage? Why are many of those in support of same-sex marriage calling some Christians “haters” and “bigots” and saying they are judgmental? Aren’t we supposed to love? That sounds easy, but who says what love is?
Many Muslims believe that women should wear burkas, a form of dress that completely covers a woman including her face, so that she would not be a temptation to other men and that she would preserve her beauty for her husband. Is this loving? Muslims say it is.
In 27 African countries, women’s genitalia is removed so as to control women’s sexuality and to conform to ideas of purity and modesty. It is considered an honor and without it, women are subject to social exclusion. So, surely, the loving thing to do mothers is to have your daughter “circumcised” in this manner. If this is not loving….why not? Who says it is loving or not? A court?
The bible says God is love! And God loved so much that he sent his son to die for our sins in our place so that we can enter a loving relationship with him. Clearly, the Bible says that love is when you lay down your life for your friend. (1 John 3:16). And we are commanded to love.
Jesus himself said that the greatest commandment is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” And he went on from there and said that the second commandment is like the first. That is to love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:36-40).
How much simpler can it be? Love God, love your neighbor. But we still need to ask, what is love? How do we love?
Joseph Fletcher, a one-time Episcopal priest, said that when faced with decisions in the situations of life that the highest law to be followed was the law of love. He cited the biblical Greek word, “agape” as an unconditional love that seeks nothing in return and shows concern for others as much as oneself. He is the founder of what is called, “situational ethics.” He said that all laws and rules and norms are only valid if they serve love . Rules can be broken only if one’s actions serve the higher law of love. Justice, he said, is love distributed. Sounds good, doesn’t it?
But the problem arises when we differ about what the “loving thing” is! Who defines what LOVE is? Who judges? Is love something that simply feels right?
In Joseph Fletcher’s philosophy, it was Joseph Fletcher who decided what the loving thing was. Joseph Fletcher said it was a “loving thing” for the Americans to drop the atomic bomb on Nagasaki, killing 152,000 people and leaving others burned because it actually saved more lives than it took. (Of course those were only Japanese lives, including women and children.) Fletcher also advised a very ill man to stop taking his medications so he would die instead of spending all of his family’s money on more medicine and insurance premiums. Later in his life, Joseph Fletcher advocated for abortion, and he favored infanticide (the “mercy” killing of children) for birth defects. These, for Fletcher, are all “loving things.” Fletcher became President of the Right to Die Society, was a signer on The Humanist Manifesto, and eventually, Fletcher completely left the church and his faith and became a self-proclaimed atheist.
Pope Pius XII condemned Fletcher’s “situational ethics” saying, “It is an individual and subjective appeal to the concrete circumstances of actions to justify decisions in opposition to the Natural Law or God’s revealed will” .
So, we are still asking, who DOES define what is loving?
God has told us what is loving, he has revealed it in his will.
God says that it is his will that every man be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. (1 Tim 2:4). But sin is in the way, sin keeps us from God but because God is love and because he loved the whole world he sent his son that if you believe in him you would have eternal life. (John 3:16). Jesus died to pay the price for our sins, to offer forgiveness and to be an atoning sacrifice. “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” (1 John 4:10). He did not come to accept us in our sin, but to deliver us from it.
Paul says, the good he wanted to do he doesn’t do because sin lives in him, and he says he does what he doesn’t want to do and he cries out, “Who will deliver me from this body of death?” He acknowledges that he does not have control, but sin is in control. But then he concludes with praise to Jesus who frees him from his body of death. (Rom 7:17-25). God forgives us and makes us new. THAT IS LOVE.
He frees us from sin—-and he tells us what sin is. Sin is what separates us from God. Sin is what separates us from true and real love! And in God’s word, He tells us what is sin and what will keep you from God’s kingdom. “ Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men” (1 Cor 6:9). Click this link to read an article on the Bible scriptures related to homosexuality.
True, real love is to deliver you from sin—not accept it.
This is why many Christians do not accept homosexuality. It is NOT hate, it is NOT bigotry, it is because of LOVE that we desire for all to be saved from sin and brought into relationship with a loving Father God. This is the will of God. And God is LOVE.
The loving thing is to reconcile sinners to Christ, to bring others into true love, a loving relationship with God. To do the loving thing is to love our neighbor as ourself and to tell of the true LOVE that delivers, restores, forgives and makes us new from sin, Jesus Christ.
This article is a third in a series called IN THE LIGHT of the Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage. See the other articles as follows:
 Fletcher, Joseph (1997). Situation ethics: The new morality. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.