Do Christians Love the Sexually Immoral?

Love is an interesting and complex word. It has many different meanings, and the context can make a big difference.  When we seek to understand love from a Biblical perspective, there are 4 different Greek words used in the New Testament that get translated into the English word love. The Merriam-Webster dictionary lists over a dozen different definitions. You don’t love your child or your father the same way you love your spouse. You don’t love ice cream the same way you love a brother or sister.

To get to a Biblical understanding of love, you should go beyond a simple search to look at all the ways that it is used. You must dig into where and how it is demonstrated by God throughout the Old and New Testament. Dr. Voddie Baucham summarizes Biblical love this way, “Love is an act of the will accompanied by emotion that leads to action on behalf of its object.” This is a complete contrast to the worldly idea of love that is based on the Roman concept; an uncontrollable force, led by emotion.

Jesus gives the definition of ultimate love, higher than any other definition. “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) Love is a love demonstrated even to the point of life and death. All other earthly definitions are shallow in comparison. This is unending, unswerving, long-term, never-giving-up love. It is a love that God has for us. That He demonstrated to us by crushing his Son, Jesus Christ, to fulfill justice and pay the penalty we owe for our sin.

Many point to the love chapter, 1 Corinthians 13. Here, the Bible describes many of its attributes. It shows that love is foundational to the faith, while we may have many other things, without love it is empty and meaningless. This is often misunderstood or misrepresented and confused with being nice and giving free reign to everyone to do whatever they love. Jesus counteracts that with the statement, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15) If you love someone, you don’t show that love by ignoring what they say; disobedience demonstrates the lack of love.

The author of Hebrews points to Christ and the role of discipline. God does not love the son that he allows to do whatever he wants. He disciplines and trains the one he loves.  Just as the discipline of a parent to a child, the discipline of the Lord shows his love to the us. (Hebrews 12:5-11) It also recognized that we, as children and as members of the human race, do not love to be disciplined. It is painful at the time. This is the irony of the response of the sexually expansive regarding Christians as unloving. When we share the biblical message that God’s design for human sexuality is limited and not open to any or all variations, it is bringing the discipline of the Lord o them. The thing they hate, God’s discipline, is the very thing that demonstrates His love.

I was once asked, “does God hate homosexuals?” My answer might surprise some. I first go to Ephesians and point out through Paul that we are all dead in our sin and objects of God’s wrath. (Ephesians 2:1-3) God hates sin; it is disobedience, rejection, and rebellion against God himself. So, yes, God hates the homosexual, but he also hates the liar, the adulterer, and the blasphemer. Today, we often single out the homosexual or transgender, but sexual immorality is a broad term. It also applies to the adulterer, the fornicator, and many other variations. All of us are in that camp, homosexual, heterosexual, or otherwise. God shows his love to some, He calls them out from their sin. Because of His great love he made us alive. (Ephesians 2:4-5) God does not love everyone in the same way. He loves some and hates others. (Romans 9:13) He does not love them because they do the right thing, but because He chose to love them. God does not save us because we are good people, He saves us even though we are sinners. (Romans 5:8)

The question then becomes, does God love some homosexuals? Yes. But we may not know who He loves. Charles Spurgeon said that God has not revealed the elect to him, and until he does he will continue to preach the “whosoever will” gospel. We do have a direct indication that God does love some homosexuals. Paul points out to the Christians in Corinth that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God. Many forms of sin are listed, including homosexuality and other sexually immoral. (1 Corinthians 6:9-10) He goes on to say that “such were some of you”, some were once homosexual and God called them out, washed them and justified them. (1 Corinthians 6:11) This is God’s love, He died for their sin just like He died for your sin. Those who remain in any of those sins continue to rebel against God.

Many point to Romans 1 as a demonstration of God’s hatred of the homosexual. Many believe that God is punishing them for being homosexual. Instead, we see in the structure of the passage, it is “therefore” God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts. (Romans 1:24) or “for this reason” God gave them up to dishonorable passions. (Romans 1:26) and “since they did not see fit to acknowledge God”. (Romans 1:28) Then Paul lists all sorts of disobedience in the following verses. (Romans 1:29-31) Some see this as God punishing them for being homosexual, but instead we see this behavior as punishment for rejecting God. This is God’s discipline. For some, this discipline will drive them to repentance, for others it will drive them deeper into their sin and ungodliness. There is no sin that is too great that it cannot be forgiven by God. God uses discipline to drive us to humility and repentance.

When we, as Christians, point out the sin of another, we are bringing God’s discipline to them, not our own. (Galatians 6:1) We pray that all sinners will escape the wrath of God and be reconciled to Him through God’s grace, but we know also that not all will. When we see a blind man walking toward a cliff or walking into busy traffic, we warn him and urge him to stop. This is in love for him and his safety. To let him go without a warning demonstrates our hatred of him and hatred toward the God who calls us to preach the gospel to all people.

Does God hate the homosexual? Some yes, some no. Does God hate liars? Does God hate blasphemers? (Revelation 21:8) It is not for us to determine whom He loves and whom He hates. Does the Christian hate the homosexual? We must see each individual as we were, sinners and objects of God’s wrath and proclaim the message of the Gospel faithfully to all. (Mark 16:15) We must speak the truth in love. (Ephesians 4:15) We know that the gospel is offensive to some. We must allow it to be offensive but seek that we are not offensive in the way we deliver the truth and gospel of Jesus. (1 Corinthians 1:18, 23, John 15:18-19)

Love your neighbor as yourself. (Mark 12:31) Loving the sexually immoral person does not condone their behavior nor does it marginalize them as a person. Our desire is to see all come to Christ and live in His grace.

Author: Jon Neifert
Posted on March 04 2022