Being gay doesn't send you to Hell

I had a Twitter exchange with a gay man yesterday, in response to my article about Brendan Eich, CEO of Mozilla who is being pressured to resign for a $1000 contribution in support of Prop 8, made in 2008.

To sum up:

  • I am a bigot and hater
  • Eich deserves to lose his career because he tried to take away rights from others
  • I don’t understand his argument that my religion is imposing itself on everyone by limiting marriage
  • Not every Biblical idea is good (typical examples, killing adulterers, etc)

I countered saying don’t use the Bible to make an argument if you don’t believe the book.  He replied that he does believe the Bible, which is why he had read it to know what it says.

An exclamation point appeared visibly above my head and the word “really?” floated above it.  How could he possibly believe something he himself condemns?  Naked hypocrisy is never pretty, but so many people expose theirs.

A reminder of what the Bible actually says about sin is in order.

  • A sin doesn’t send you to Hell.
  • Therefore, sinning doesn’t send you to Hell.
  • Therefore, homosexual sin, being a gay or lesbian (or self-defined gender) person doesn’t send you to Hell.

If you read the Bible and come to any other conclusion, you are misreading it or you don’t understand it.

Here’s how Jesus handled sin.  John chapter 8.

At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.
At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

The woman was caught in flagrante delicti, red-handed, in the bed, in the act.  The Law condemned her to death by stoning.  This is the typical argument that most LGBTs give when talking about Biblical ideas which are outdated, evil, and ridiculous.  Should we stone adulterers?

They all totally miss the point, just as they did 2,000 years ago.

We were all destined for Hell, nobody can condemn because we all have sinned.

There is only one person in this Bible passage who has the right to stone the woman and fulfill the Law, and that’s Jesus.   Jesus didn’t.

That’s called grace.  Without grace, all of us go to Hell.  Every single one of us.

There’s some really bad theology and misunderstanding of the Bible and Christianity all over our culture.  We are so Biblically illiterate that we can’t explain the most important concept in Christianity: man’s sinful state and God’s grace fulfilled in Christ.  We are not born sinless and destined for heaven until we commit some act against all the laws in the Bible.  It’s not some “gotcha” moment where God says “Ha!  You violated one of the 600 plus laws, you defiled yourself, now you are going to Hell.”

It’s no wonder that gays and lesbians are confused and feeling condemned:  as far back as they can remember, they’ve felt the way they do.  They believe they have no control over these feelings, and why would God make them this way and Hell is their only option?

No, we are all born destined for Hell.  We are born into sin.  The only thing that protects children who die young from this fate is God’s grace.  The only thing that stands between any of us and Hell is God’s grace.  Each of us has a moment where we are taken, caught in the act of our sin, before Jesus, who asks “where are your accusers?  Has no one condemned you?”

If we answer “no, sir” that means we understand the nature of sin, that we are taking responsibility for our own lives, and throwing ourselves on God’s mercy.  He always says “then neither do I condemn you.”  His grace is extended to all who ask, without exception.

There’s one more thing Jesus says:  “Go now and leave your life of sin.”  (Some translations say “go and sin no more”).

That part is not optional.

It’s a command.  If following Jesus is a matter of accepting His grace, then continuing to follow Him is a matter of obedience.  The Law was not given by God for us to trip us up.  It was given as a model of the boundaries God places on us so we won’t sin.

Most Christians and LGBT’s lose it here.  Sinning won’t send you to Hell after you’ve accepted God’s grace.  Living a life of sin will, because that’s a condition God placed on His grace.  Grace is offered freely, but it only works if you (or I) continue to follow Jesus in obedience.

Gays don’t go to Hell because they are gay.  They don’t go to Hell because they are married to another man, or sleep with another man.  God does not condemn them for who they are.  An unrepentant lifestyle which rejects God’s grace, and defining their life, their rights and their identity by that lifestyle places them outside grace, and therefore reinstates their original destination:  Hell.

God sent the Law and He will not bend it.  Grace is absolution, forgiveness, but it’s not permission to continue living a sinful life.

I might do better to quit focusing on the part that happens after grace is accepted (obedience) and start focusing more on trying to make those living sinful lives understand that His grace is there unconditionally, and that I too am a recipient of that grace.  We might all do better.