When is an Act of Love not Loving?

Christmas is the time Christians around the world remember the birth of Christ – God sending His Son as the Savior. Without question, this was one of His greatest acts of love to the human race. It’s a time to reflect, not only on God’s love to us, but on our love for Him and for those He has put around us. God’s desire for us is to love Him and to love other people (Matthew 22:36-39). In fact nothing is greater in life than for us to love. All of the other teachings of the Bible rise and fall on this one issue (Matthew 22:40). That’s why it’s important to have a clear understanding of love.

Recently a minister from the United Methodist church (who happens to live near us), Rev. Frank Schaefer, was defrocked for performing the same-sex marriage of his son. This was a clear and intentional violation of the denomination’s Book of Discipline which classifies homosexuality as “incompatible with Christian teaching” and bans its ministers from performing same-sex marriages (http://www.usatoday.com). Rev. Schaefer’s explanation for his refusal to follow the teaching of the Methodist church was that it was “an act of love for my son” (http://abcnews.go.com). He equated his actions to that of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37) saying “I couldn’t pass on the other side of the road like a Levite to preserve a rule. All I saw was love for my son” (http://www.religionnews.com).

I applaud Rev. Schaefer’s effort to be guided by the Christian law of love. There is, however, more to this issue. What we call an act of love is not always an act of love. The problem is that in our humanness we see through a glass darkly (1 Corinthians 13:12). That is, we don’t see the same way God sees. That means that our view of love can easily be distorted and, as in this case, completely wrong. We cannot replace God’s definition of love with our own definition simply because it sounds better to us. It is not our right to define what love is or what love looks like. That is God’s right

Humanly we say love accepts all choices equally. God says that love is accepting His choice as the final choice (John 14:15). Humanly we say that love accepts marriage between any two committed people regardless of their sexual orientation. God says that love is a marriage between one man and one woman who are committed to each other (Genesis 2:24, Ephesians 5:31). Humanly we say that love approves of all relationships. God says that there are some relationships that are outside the parameters of love (Romans 1:26-27). Love outside of God’s definition is not love. It may look like love to us but it’s not love. It’s never a loving thing to approve of what God condemns.

Rev. Schaefer has not acted in love towards his own son. He has done just the opposite. He has pointed him away from God’s love to a man-made imitation. The most loving thing he could have done was to share with his son what God says about love and encouraged him to pursue it. Would it be difficult? Certainly. But it would also be right.

Stay in the Word
Pastor Steve


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