by Misty Irons
"The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried." - G.K. Chesterton
Jesus said that loving your neighbor is the greatest commandment next to loving God. Even more, Jesus did it. He loved people without regard for his reputation, safety, popularity, or even his life. The rabbi who defended adulteresses and prostitutes. The holy man who touched lepers. The king who was abandoned to torture and a humiliating public death.
We speak of his suffering in reverent tones because that's how he atoned for our sins. That's the theological side of the story. But the human side of the story is that his sufferings came as a direct result of loving the despised and unwanted. The hatred, the persecution and the outrage were the result of Jesus healing a withered man's hand on the Sabbath and speaking up for a woman who wiped his feet with her hair (not to mention all the other scandals). So when Jesus commands us to love as he loved and also commands us to suffer as he suffered, he is describing two sides of the same coin. You cannot love the way he loved and not suffer the kinds of consequences he suffered.
From the way some Christians talk, you'd almost think there is a verse in the New Testament where Jesus says, "Know that you should love one another, as long as the conditions are right." Which would explain why all I ever hear is: “I know we should love people, but I oppose the gay agenda. I know we should love people, but I'm not going to approve of their sin. I know we should love people, but they're indoctrinating my child at school. I know we should love people, but I'm not going to be manipulated by a bunch of sob stories.”
Here's how that sounds to me: “Love sounds like a great idea, but I'm afraid if I love these people, something bad will happen.”
That’s a good point. Because something bad will happen. Loving gay people probably won't lead you into sexual sin, but it may get you accused by fellow Christians of approving of it. It won't mean you'll support schools indoctrinating your children about homosexuality, but you will have to face the more real worry that the church is indoctrinating them to despise gay people. And you will definitely listen to people's sob stories; but instead of feeling manipulated, you may begin to share a little bit in the needless pain and injustice so many gays and lesbians suffer daily.
Simply put, loving gays and lesbians will mean many of your Christian friends may forsake you, and you will carry the sorrows of others around in your heart until you feel like you're going to break. Downside: you will suffer. Upside: you will know the blessing of following in the path of a certain Someone who walked in those sufferings before you.