Love and Judgment of Homosexuals

"How should a Christian
reconcile the Bible's statements to be loving of others, especially
those on the margins of society, with the passages that oppose homosexual
behavior?"  E.B., Washington, D.C.

"How should a Christian
reconcile the Bible's statements to be loving of others, especially
those on the margins of society, with the passages that oppose homosexual
behavior?"  E.B., Washington, D.C.

 

There
are two factors to consider here: love and judgment.

 

Clearly,
the Gospel calls upon us to be "loving of others." That is not in
question.  What is strangely in question for so many today is what that
means when it comes to our homosexual brothers and sisters. I note that
you are careful to make a distinction between homosexual behavior and
the person of gays themselves, and that is commendable. But throughout
the Bible, it is persons who are rewarded or punished according
to their behavior. We can talk about hating the sin while loving the
sinner all we want, but in practice and in biblical logic, people bear
judgment for their actions.

 

So
I think the real question is this: According to the Gospel, how are
we to judge — that is, treat — homosexual men and women? (I say
"treat" because our judgment of others informs and, in most cases,
determines our treatment of them.)

 

I
think Jesus answers this question pretty clearly in Matthew 25. What
that passage says to me is that the primary way God will judge each
of us is whether we tend lovingly to the most needy and the most vulnerable
among us. In other words, the standard of judgment Jesus prescribes
in Mt. 25 is whether we treat others justly and caringly. Couple this
with his saying, "Do not judge, so you may not be judged" (Mt. 7:1),
which clearly seems to pertain to matters of personal morality and personal
piety, and it appears that the main way Jesus tells us to assess the
moral standing of our fellow humanity — without exception — is not
whether their personal piety is pleasing to God or not according to
our own perceptions, but by the justice and loving care they show for
others. That is, the true measure is whether one acts with loving justice
and equity toward one's brothers and sisters and truly attends to
their real needs. The rest is between each person and God. And we must
be careful not to play God.

 

As
to whether same-gender love is a sin, "Do not judge, so you may not
be judged," tells me as well that as long as personal sexual relationships
are not exploitive or coercive of others or otherwise unjustly conducted,
their sinfulness or lack thereof is between each person and God. This
means that the judgment of sexual unions belongs to God alone. However,
I must admit that despite the biblical statements against same-sex love,
I just cannot believe that any sincere form of love could be a sin in
the eyes of a loving God.

 

What
does this say about the way that we heterosexuals should treat our homosexual
brothers and sisters? It means that if we are to judge these brothers
and sisters at all, we must judge them by the same Gospel standard by
which everyone else is to be judged: "Is this person loving and caring
toward others? Does s/he hunger and thirst for the justice of God for
all people, on earth as in heaven? And do his or her actions show that?"

 

To
summarize, I believe the Gospel tells us that we should treat homosexual
brothers and sisters the same way we are to treat everyone: with love
and without difference. And I believe as well that were Jesus walking
the earth today, he would stand against the ostracism, demonizing, and
general mistreatment of homosexual brothers and sisters just as he stood
against the mistreatment of marginalized people in his own day. I am
convinced that if we are to follow Jesus, that is also what we must
do.

 

Dr.
Obery M. Hendricks, Jr., is professor of Biblical Interpretation at
New York Theological Seminary and the author of The Politics of Jesus:
Rediscovering the True Revolutionary Meaning of Jesus' Teachings and
How They Have Been Corrupted


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X