Jesus Don’t Approve

jesus don't approve cartoon by nakedpastor david hayward
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There’s so much concern about loving the sinner and hating the sin. That is, there is so much concern with sinners mistaking fellowship for approval. How much love does it take before it means approval?

I wonder if the idea of approval would even be in the vocabulary of love. I can’t imagine saying to my wife, “I really love you, but I don’t approve of that part of who you are.” Or with a good friend. I simply can’t imagine it. Can you? Can you imagine elevating yourself over someone you love in that way? Does approval even enter into the vocabulary of friendship?

Doesn’t love embrace it all? In fact, doesn’t the cartoon say that the spirit of Christ doesn’t operate on the level of approval and disapproval?

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  • Carol

    “Sin” or narcissism is a disorder which requires healing. Circumstances often dictate whether an act is “sinful” or not.

    “No general principle can decide each concrete case; always secondary principles and special circumstances enter into consideration.” –David Spitz, The New Conservatives

    When Jesus counseled *sinners* not to sin, he usually spoke from loving concern, not condemnation. The one exception to that may have been the “sin” of self-righteous judgmentalism, which puts us on the side of The Accuser.

    Scripture reveals that the Holy Spirit, who is named as Counselor, Comforter and Advocate, can be “grieved” or “quenched”; but is never said to be “angered.” It is quite possible that self-righteous anger is the “sin against the Holy Spirit” that, if it becomes habitual, can Eternally separate us from God. Will those who exclude certain “sinners” from their communities here be able to overcome their moral indignation and become willing to accept their equal access to God’s Presence in the fullness of Eternity?

  • Isn’t it interesting that God (who has made Jesus the judge of the whole earth) was in Christ reconciling the entire world back to Himself , NOT counting their sins against them, and that we are ‘called’ ambassadors of that same gospel of reconciliation – NOT ambassador’s of ”condemnation”. Or that the entire reconciliation thing was all done prior to our believing – not after we believed. (2 Cor. 18-20).

    So instead loving the ‘sinner’ and ‘hating’ the sin, why don’t we just stick to the original plan and tell people God loves them, and He Himself has reconciled them back to Himself, and let Holy Spirit, who’s job it is to convict the world of sin , because they don’t believe in Jesus (not because the behave badly), do His job. (Jn. 16:8-11)

    Let’s face it folks, He is so much better at it than we are anyway.

  • “Go…and sin no more”, means love…without approval of the behavior.

  • Okay the Old Adam, I’m going to push back on this one. With the woman caught in adultery, never once did he call her a sinner or what she did a sin. In fact, he said he didn’t condemn her. Never once does he even draw attention to the fact that she had sex with someone. Nowhere. Same with the woman at the well. He only points out the fact of her marriage situation and being with a man. But he never draws attention to it as a sin or even shocking or abnormal. He just points it out. Nothing more. My argument is that we IMPUTE into these stories our prudish attitudes that Jesus never even harbored. He cared more about their lives than their sex lives it seems.

  • Frank

    I agree saying “Jesus I love of but I reject your created order and our plan for sexuality and marriage.” It just doesn’t work,

  • Carol

    Christian fundamentalism: the doctrine that there is an absolutely powerful, infinitely knowledgeable, universe spanning entity that is deeply and personally concerned about my sex life. ~Andrew Lias

  • Erika Baker

    I love James Alison’s book “On being liked” where he develops the thought that God doesn’t “just” love us but that he actually likes us.
    You would think that love is bigger than like, but in our Christian context and considering how the word love has been misappropriated by those who always say “love but….” the idea that God might actually genuinely like us is mindblowing.

  • i “like” that erika. thanks 🙂

  • Carol

    “For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven.” Mark 12:25

    It would seem that the institution of marriage is a temporal an individual and collective socioeconomic concern rather than a transcendent absolute.

    Given the diversity we see of the institution of marriage throughout human history, there just may be no specific Divine plan for human sexuality and marriage, as long as it’s practice is guided by the Law of Love rather than predatory survivalist instincts.

    Polygamy was not condemned in the OT, as long as the spousal interests of the wives was safe-guarded.

    So how can we claim that “one man/one woman” is the only form of marriage that is acceptable to God?

  • David,

    He said, “Go..and SIN NO MORE.”

    The assumption being that she was in that predicament because she was caught in adultery, which the text says.

    Jesus doesn’t condemn sinners…does He? Isn’t He in the business of forgiving sinners? Are we talkng about the same Jesus?

  • Holli Durost

    We know what assuming does…

  • Doug Asbury

    Notice, in the John 4 story, after Jesus says “Let the one among you without sin cast the first stone,” and no one throws a stone, he doesn’t tell anyone in the crowd, “Go, and sin no more.” Does he not care about *their* sin and *their* sinning?
    Perhaps in telling the woman not to sin anymore, he’s doing nothing more than a police officer today would do if the officer pulled someone over for speeding and found out the person had a good excuse and let them off without issuing a ticket but said, “Just watch your speed.” It’s like saying, “Take some responsibility, and don’t let yourself get sucked into wrongdoing by someone else.”
    Can’t *that* be the “sense of the scripture” rather than Jesus telling the woman to do something that no earthly human being could possibly do? (I mean, if the Pharisees couldn’t avoid sinning, how can an ordinary, uneducated female in that androcentric society be expected to do any better than they?)

  • Mike

    Totally agree. I have a friend who is gonna die before he sees 30 years-old because of an addiction to meth. But I love him. I “can’t imagine” saying to him “I love you but…” I wish you’d quit doing meth. Real love is just accepting him with all 5 teeth he has left and not piously acting like maybe being created in the image of God means that he was made for something more.

  • thanks Mike. that’s tender and beautiful.

  • Kris

    The thing I have come to understand is that once Jesus heals someone, we don’t know what they went on to do.

    Those of us who are part of the Judeo-Christian tradition would love to believe they changed their lives and lived to follow Jesus and that is what we want an encounter with others to be like, even though many do not show the love of Jesus.. But we don’t what they did…did their lived change or did they go back to their old ways. Did they do something really bad? No one knows. But Jesus healed them and loved them. And that is what Christians are called to do WITHOUT demand they become Christians like us.

  • Carol

    The synoptic Gospels introduce us to the Jesus of history. The Johannine Gospel begins to introduce us to the Christ of faith. The Pauline writings take us even deeper into an experience of the Christ of faith, the Cosmic Christ–Savior of the world, not just the Hebrew nation or the Christian Church.

    “So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.” 2 Corinthians 5:16 (NIV) See 2 Corinthians 5:11-21 for the Pauline explanation of the New Covenant and the call to a “ministry of reconciliation” which supercedes the Old Covenant with its “ministry of condemnation.”

    Human consciousness is evolving. God has not changed, our species is always changing, evolving into a deeper, broader experience of Christ-consciousness. Yes, there are many who are still psychologically and spiritually more at the “Old Adam” than the “New Adam” stage of development. That is why there are many Christians who embrace the Ten Commandments while ignoring the Beatitudes as the theological foundation for their spiritual formation.

    As long as “Old Adam” identifies himself as such, he will remain Law-centered rather than Christ-centered, more like the Pharisaic Saul of Tarsus than Paul the Apostle of Christ Jesus. That does not mean that he is not beloved by God or “going to hell”; but it does mean that, like the Disciples before the Resurrection and Pentecoste, he just isn’t going to get it. In fact, we will all spend the rest of our lives “getting it” in an ever deepening, more unexpected way.

  • Carol

    What if we understood “sins” to be a failure to love as we ought, instead of the violation of a “biblical principle” or the breaking of a law?

    “No general principle can decide each concrete case; always secondary principles and special circumstances enter into consideration.” –David Spitz, The New Conservatives

    “The typical moralist sees grace as a means to fulfill a commandment. He puts the commandment in the first place and sees the difference of Old and New Testaments in the observance of the Decalogue. In the Old Testament they did not have the grace to keep the commandments; now in the New Testament they have sufficient grace if they use all the means, the sacraments, and so on. This is an anthropocentric, moralistic approach which makes the grace of Christ and finally Christ Himself only the means for the law, for the commandments . But primacy is not the law, the commandments “thou shalt” and “thou shalt not”; the primacy is our Lord, who in his grace, his tremendous love, comes to encounter us.” –Bernard Haering, C.Ss.R., Redemptorist Moral Theologian

    “Core moral concepts, such as freedom, conscience, obedience, and fidelity, can have very different meanings and importance. These differing meanings depend on if our concern is with conformity, fulfilling norms, and subordination, or instead if our focus is radical thinking infused with the spirit of God blowing as it wills and marked by grown-up, freely affirmed responsibility.” –Bernard Haering, The Virtues of an Authentic Life

    “A moral theology built on the authentic Gospel will be a far cry from a stoical morality built on duty and obligation, both deduced from some cosmic law of nature.” ~Fr. Joseph Oppitz, C.Ss.R, Autumn Memoirs of St. Alphonsus Liguori

  • Gary

    Steve your personal bias screams out EVERY time you quote the “go and sin no more” scripture. Assuming the quote is accurate (I do not believe it is) you are still reading your personal bias INTO it. You have a sin obsessed focus…Jesus most certainly did not. That is why many of us continue to “push back” against your insistence of trying to drag us all down to your level.

    We are free. It is sad that you are not.

  • Alonzo

    Evidently the nakedpastor has never raised a child.

  • Carol

    I was respect-trained, not fear-trained. I was also held to a very high bar of accountability.

    Whenever, my brother or I screwed-up, my mother would always say something like, “How could someone as good and smart as you do such a thing?” I guess that is why I believe that *sin* is more of a betrayal of our own humanity than an offense against God. I think God is more grieved than offended by our failures to love as we ought.

    “What if the question is not why am I so infrequently the person I really want to be, but why do I so infrequently want to be the person I really am?” –Oriah Mountain Dreamer, The Prelude

  • ccws

    Ironic that the commenter on this blog who dwells the most on the notion of “sin” goes by the moniker “The Old Adam.” Just sayin…

  • I am SO OFF PUT by people who use this phrase about “loving the sinner but hating the sin” that I am
    Probably going to go postal on the next person who utters it to me. (deep breath, centering prayer…..). Here’s the thing: the absolute ego of anyone who would say such a thing is appalling!!!!!! Here is my translation “I’m such a good person and so saved and so full of grace that I am gracious enough to over look your sinful lifestyle and embrace you despite what a worm you are. Yeah for me! Look how wondeful I am and how much God loves me for extending myself to you the sinner”. Ah hello? I hate to point out the obvious but we are ALL sinners and if you think about it we sin every 30 seconds or so realistically. We have a mean thought. We cut someone off in traffic. We are impatient. We do something selfish. We make a snarky remark. If doing something every 30 seconds or so isn’t a “lifestyle” then what is? How dare people use this phrase to another person AS IF their life is so clean they have any right to judge at all!!! If you seriously beleive that you are one who “loves the sinner but hates their sin” then you must be chalk FULL of self loathing, and somehow I don’t think that is a theology worth sharing with anyone. Done ranting now. Thank you…..:-)

  • beautiful rant melissa!

  • Dave

    I think the cartoon makes a fair point that Jesus absolutely would be found among gay individuals just as he was among tax collectors, whores, thieves and other sinners. I also think it makes a fair point that God is no respecter of persons and loves all of us (for all have sinned and come short of God’s glory). That having been said, I think you also just inadvertently admitted that homosexuality is, in fact, sin. Jesus indeed was not afraid to be among sinners, however, that doesn’t mean he condoned sin. When the religious leaders were offended by Him hanging around “disreputable sinners” (as one version puts it), He replied that the sick need a doctor. This also illustrates that Jesus was not just partying with sinners, He was serving as the instrument of healing and salvation in their lives. Jesus continually showed love and forgiveness for sinners, but He also commanded them to “go and stop sinning.” I love your comics bro. I haven’t hung around your site long enough to know exactly where you’re coming from on everything, but I see a lot of good effectively presented with humor. I am a past “church boy” (spent 30 years in that environment) so I am fully aware of all the religious junk you poke fun at to make a point and you’re right. I still love Jesus and I agree with you that church folks are often some of the most lacking in love, especially when it comes to uncomfortable subjects like dealing with people who identify themselves as gay. That having been said, I don’t think the definition of love is to encourage sin because it doesn’t matter. God’s way is to forgive our sins (which Christ already did) and then transform our minds day by day, His Spirit helping us to put to death the deeds of the flesh. I may not be gay but I have other hangups (even sin that I might like – as far as my carnal dude is concerned – but which I know is not pleasing to God). My sin is as much of a problem as the gay man’s. I don’t look for ways to imagine that God doesn’t care or that Jesus endorses my sin. I seek for God to heal me and set me free. As I yield, He does just that! The last thing I want is to be a slave to my “old man”, despite the reality that I’m stuck with him for a while yet. Thank God for His love and grace.