• Homosexuality and the love of neighbor

    March 6, 2012

    Some folks have taken issue with my standard for determining what is and isn’t pleasing to God, what is and isn’t sin. Some folks feel I have neglected the first commandment “love God” for the second “love people”, so let’s look at it.

    Twice that I know of Paul says the Law is fulfilled in one command: Love your neighbor as yourself. Just that one command. Obviously Paul is not excluding the first command to love God. For Paul, the first command is implied in the second.

    ROMANS 13

    8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 10 Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

    “Whatever other command there may be” is included in the command to love your neighbor as yourself.


    14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.

    “This one command “¦” In some way, Paul seems to believe that to love God is to love people.

    The apostle John also sees a strong correlation between the two. He says, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives”””for him? No, “And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters“ (1 John 3:16). To love God, to show gratitude to him for how he has loved us, is to love people in the same way. The love of God is implied and fulfilled in the love of people.

    Where did John and Paul get this? I think they got it from simply observing Jesus, John in person and Paul in retrospect. Jesus lived during a time when religious folks like the Pharisees were obsessed with doing all the right things to prove they loved God. They had rules, rules, and more rules to ensure they loved God really well and didn’t do anything that might offend him.

    Jesus wasn’t impressed.

    In all the Pharisees’ efforts to love God, they had neglected to love people, and thus had failed at loving either people or God. Jesus told a parable one day to illustrate this. He spoke of a king who separated the good people from the bad, the sheep from the goats.

    MATTHEW 25

    41 “Then [the king] will say to those on his left, “˜Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

    44 “They also will answer, “˜Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

    45 “He will reply, “˜Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

    46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

    Dang. The most religious, the most apparently in love with God, had failed the most at loving God because they had failed at loving people. These were the pure! These were the devoted, the faithful, the in-synagogue-every-Sabbath. These were the ones who, in Jesus’ words, traveled over land and sea to make a single covert, only to make him twice the son of hell that they were. They did not love people, so they did not love God. The first command is implied, and therefore fulfilled in keeping, the second: Love your neighbor as yourself.

    This is why Paul could say with confidence, “whatever other command there may be”””all is fulfilled in keeping just that one command, to love people. And that is why I feel I can confidently say that whatever does not promote love of people is sin, and whatever does is not. This applies to homosexuality as much as to anything else.

    Incidentally, I also think this “love of people” command is the only truly consistent standard for separating the eternal principles from those that are merely cultural, both in the new testament and the old. And that is where we shall head next.

    Posted in: The Gay Posts

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