It seems that, in Christendom, like everywhere else in human discourse, there are statements like these which at first glance seem to have a ring-of-truth about them; particularly if we want them to.
Westboro Baptist Church, for one example, surely thinks so. We've all heard of them by now. They are the Baptist church in Topeka Kansas which concocted a, by now, familiar media-campaign slogan that reads, "God hates fags". A "fag", in this context, would be a derogatory, man-made term used to refer to people they would describe as homosexuals. What is a homosexual? A homosexual - or person to whom God has referred to as such, is not wholly someone with sexual orientation toward the same sex, but rather someone whom practices homosexual acts - those sexual acts performed on a same-sex partner. Just like a fornicator might be a heterosexual who performs sexual acts on another person whom they are not married to. It is not that he is a heterosexual that condemns him, it is how he practices as a heterosexual which condemns him. And this word 'practice' is the one God uses to teach us the difference between having a sinful nature and acting on it. We all have base, fleshly desires that God has asked us to exercise control over and use as they were intended to be used. And He has let us know what those practices are in Cor.6:9, Gal. 5:19, and other texts in which He lists those actions that, if we persist in, will disqualify some from an inheritance of a place in His Kingdom. He is looking for hearts and minds that will turn away from themselves and listen and respect their God, and He is asking little. This is what a heart who seeks God will do - he/she will listen.
We all have the natural tendency to drink, covet, lie, and steal as it suits us (for he says these things we all once walked in in one form or another), but He asks us to stop before we hurt ourselves or others. And later on in 1 Cor. 6:18 he even appears to distinguish the sins at issue here as those committed outside the body ("Flee immorality. Every other sin a man commits is outside the body . . .". ) That is not to excuse immoral thoughts, but there is a difference between mere thoughts and thse those turned into "deeds of the flesh". Those who are claiming "God hates fags" are putting words in Gods mouth that don't appear in His written word. It may be that in disobeying God's well known request to love not only all men, but even their enemies, that the people at Westboro Baptist Church are trying to insulate themselves from the charge of themselves"hating" when they shift the charge of hating "fags" to God Himself by putting the respective words into His mouth.
So, if God loves all men, and expects us to do the same; if I carry around the label of both heterosexual fornicator and accepted child of the living God for my past words and deeds which I no longer practice, then what prevents a non-practicing homosexual from enjoying the same blessing? How is it that a so-called homosexual is hopelessly condemned and hated by God for the same sin-nature that we all share equally?
If you read about the six things God hates you find that he hates no men; He hates certain things they do and certain things they say, but he hates no individuals. It's not about who you are, it's about what you do. He has made us all of nothing good except the ability to listen to and follow after Him. That makes us entirely good, useful, and acceptable to Him.
God hates lying, and all men are liars - so He says. So does He hate us all? No, He doesn't hate any of us. He so loved the world (all of His creation) that He gave His Son for all to behold (to see), and to hear, touch, believe in, be raised up with, and then be brought into His presence with - if they so chose to be led by Him there. He has told us that He is not a respecter of persons. All have sinned and fallen short; none are good. He hates no one. No one: the thief (the one on the cross), the liar (all of us), the covetous, the drunkard, the effeminate, nor the homosexual, heterosexual fornicator or adulterer, but rather, is patient toward them all not willing to lose any of them and desiring only that they turn away from their own glory (perhaps from what others have or have not taught them) and towards His Truth manifested and proven not only in Jesus, but by His own known presence from the beginning of recorded history.
He doesn't hate me, or them, for being either heterosexuals or homosexuals but rather, He says he hates the "deeds" of those who practice such things - the deeds of the flesh, not the individuals themselves. Because, if I conclude that God hates homosexual individuals, or any individuals, then I have to also conclude that He hates me the most.
I am a heterosexual who has practiced these unfruitful deeds of the flesh - "deeds" that God hates. Such things as fornication, adultery, dishonesty, covetousness, and reviling (for a few). By all reckoning (the reckoning of some) I must, then, be five times worse off than some others. But instead, I no longer walk in darkness, I no longer do what I please. Because of God's kindness, His presence, and because of God's patience, while I formerly walked in darkness and practiced whatever I wished, that is, while I was still a sinner - worse than a drunk, worse than merely a liar, worse than an adulterer or a homosexual, he still loved me. And it paid off for both us us. I turned and regained the delight of a Father, and He regained a loving son. Now I hate the things He hates - the useless unfruitful things, the destructive purposeless, vain words and deeds and things of this life that take the place of better things He has here for us. But I don't hate "fags", and neither does He.
Look in Ephesians 5:5, 1 Corinthians 6:9, Galatians 5:19, or Proverbs 6:19, for examples of what God hates (and there are many, many more examples). All of the individuals who practice the aforementioned things have one thing in common: they have 'given in' to the urge to practice them - to "do" them. They are peolpe who have decided to engage in these things God describes as deeds of darkness that are unfruitful or even destructive to others, or the things of God, in some way or another. These people possess an urge that, alone, does not defile them, but what proceeds from their heart in the form of action does. He hates their deeds, and He waits for their hearts to turn in the direction of His upward call - a magnificent opportunity.
God tells us that he loves all men. We can't impute His hate on anyone or anything under that circumstance. And if we err, he brings comfort to them and restores to our victims joy and comfort such as in the text below . . .
"Hear the word of the LORD, you who tremble at His word: 'Your brothers who hate you, who exclude you for My name's sake, Have said, 'Let the LORD be glorified, that we may see your joy.' But they will be put to shame." (Is. 66.5)
Wouldn't it be wonderful if I would just end this thing right here?
Without wandering too deeply into 'how', then, some men and women wind up with a same-sex attraction in the first place (because I tried wandering into it and it gets really tedious in a real hurry), I think we have to simply recognize that same-sex attraction does exist in some. The urge in same-sex attraction, instead of being aroused by a member of the opposite sex, is aroused by a member of one's same sex. The object of your arousal determines whether you arecalled a heterosexual, homosexual, or something else in between (pedophiles, animalphiles, rapists and sodomists, and much worse) - such as has been demonstrated that many are. We are born with the urges we have, many different. By all indications, I was born a heterosexual; and with no choice to be otherwise. As it were, with my lack of success at obtaining a female partner in this life, I should have perhaps arguably been driven to seek out a male life partner. But the urge for a male partner is not even remotely in me.
My sexuality was tested at a young age, even challenged, by some older friends. Unlike towards the neighbor girl, the attraction was not there; the urge was not in me. What was in me, it turns out, was much worse, if you are a mathematician, and a much longer list of sinful urges God hates such as heterosexual adultery, fornication, and covetousness, which alone amounted to several times the condemnation than if I were merely a homosexual. Even today, as a heterosexual, my flesh still obeys the law of sin (like Paul's), my heart is deceitful (lying) and wicked above all things (like yours), and there is nothing good in me (as the Lord has informed us all) - nothing, yet my mind obeys the spirit of God; and obediently, my flesh follows. Therefore, if God has reason to hate any anyone, homosexual or heterosexual, because of the abundant, sinful inborn urges of His flesh, then He would have had reason to hate the "heterosexual, me" moreso. But he hates none of us, if, in our mind, we concur with His law of faith.
I know I am not alone in all this past sin, because He tells us all that, "in them you also once walked, when you were living in them". He tells us we all once walked in the wrong things (big and small) until that time when we reached the point of accountability, beheld God the Son, and put our faith in what he has said and done. The difference between me and many who might find offense in talking about past sin is that I now walk in the light - and therefore in truth, making right the errors of the past and now no longer looking back but forward. Now all things are new in that we consider ourselves dead to our old ways (practices) and alive to new spiritual life and vigor of God's Spirit in us. We can't change our mortal natures. Each of us is ready to slip (backslide) into our unique, old urges at any time - licentiousness, lying, adultury, homosexualism, drunkenness - if we say we do not sin, we fool ourselves, and the truth is not even in us. Hate no one; but perhaps hate your sinful nature. It has died, now keep it dead.
Can a person have heterosexual urges and still not be in an acceptable condition with God ("acceptable condition" is the definition of righteousness)? Yes, as an adulterer, fornicator, molester, and unfortunately the list is long, he can be in big trouble. Can the same heterosexual be in good standing with God if he puts aside all of the ways he knows to be wrong? I would guess so. Not only that but he can love another mans wife for her personality, her maturity in the Lord, even adore her beauty as a person without practicing heterosexually oriented adulterer or fornication, even without coveting. In fact, he is commanded to. He is commanded to love all men (with love authored and modeled by God). A heterosexually oriented man or woman is able to love another man or woman without committing a sin, and thus so can all men, heterosexual, hoimosexual, adulterous, or fornicator - by the grace of God - with a putting aside of their respective worldly or sexual desires.
Alcoholics are one of many groups of whom it is said that if they practice such things, will not find a place in God's eternal community. Yet, Bill Wilson, well-known to those who struggle with a weakness for alcohol, even though he had given up drinking alcohol for many years leading up to his death, considered himself an alcoholic until the day he died. As an alcoholic, didn't he know that alcoholics will find no welcome into the Kindgom of heaven? Didn't he fear God? No, he loved God, and love likely caste out his fear. He was not phased by the hysteria in Christendom over labels. And by boldly admitting that he was an alcoholic, born with alcoholic tendencies greater than most other men, he was able to turn to God, and turn many others to God as well. There, God did not take away his urge, but gave him the strength to turn away from it himself. Mr. Wilson was able to help tens of millions of other alcoholics all over the world discover the love of God. He was an alcoholic who was going to enjoy a place in God's etenal Kingdom, in spite of his label.
This urge that Bill Wilson struggled with promised him feelings like he could find nowhere else on this earth, except in the friendship with his God. Today, through brain-imaging studies, we observe proof of how consuming alcohol physically and permanently alters control centers in specific areas of the brain. It changes them from what they were prior to abusing alcohol and thus we describe it as a disease. Bill experienced an overwhelming urge persistently lurking in his system long after he stopped drinking which was constantly threatening to either kill him, or send him back ultimately into detox in the psychiatric ward to force him to stop temporarily. He could only make sense of this process as being "alcoholism". He recognized that, in his case, the only thing stopping him from giving in to the urge was the Spirit of God, and his desire to please him. So, he, an alcoholic, and God, went on together to start the self-help group called Alcoholics Anonymous. He considers himself a "recovering alcoholic" - always recovering, always an alcoholic. He possessed an inner urge that almost killed him several times and which was always poised to do it again. At every meeting for the rest of his life he introduced himself as "My name is Bill, and I'm an alcoholic". He was an alcoholic whose love for God won out over his love for alcohol.
I drank excessively at times when I was younger. I thoroughly enjoy drinking alcohol, but, I can either take it or leave it. In my experience many Christians drink to the point of drunkenness socially, particularly at Christmas time, and unfortunately drunkenness is also on the list of practices that eventually, if not turned away from, will threaten to interfere with one's admission to God that he or she truly loves Him. Fortunately, as with most life-draining urges, most of us can both drink to excess or easily manage to stop altogether, at will. But not all are built alike. We all have our own unique brain chemistry, and mine is different that Bill's. The strong biological urge to drink is not in me. I was not born with alcoholic tendencies; but, sadly, I was born equally troublesome urges mentioned earlier, which arguably, are worse than either alcoholism or homosexual urges. And so were you. Christ has mentioned them. I no longer let mine rule over me, nor engage in practicing them. I am sure many homosexually oriented Christians are able to do the same. Christ never leaves us, but neither does our sinful flesh. "Hello, my name is Todd, and I'm a sinner", and I will see penetant sinners of every description, from every entry in this hated list of behaviors, who have turned from their wicked ways and followed Christ Home.
The list of long. What about the areas of adultery? Or, fornication? There used to be 31 million accounts on AshleyMadison.com, a website dedicated to helping married Americans arrange secretive adulterous affairs. It is a better thing for Christianity that we don't know, statistically, how many of them were so-called Christian men. Many were (and still are). Many of those who still are likely consider themselves as having a one-way ticket to heaven on that glorious day to come when, after tiring of worldy pleasures, they will move on to greener pastures, and so-called homosexuals will not. I say men, because it has been found that most of the women's accounts are fictitious, and that out of 31 million men and 5.5 million supposed women, fewer than 10,000 women responded to a message from a would-be cheating partner, and fewer than 1,500 women ever checked their inbox. One of the 31 million men, Josh Duggar, surely must have thought he was ok in his Christian walk and looking forward to a warm welcome home in heaven. However, as a practicing adulterer and covetous liar, technically he is on God's list of people who are not welcome in the Kingdom of heaven. If the average homosexual is in jeopardy, then as an adulterer and a liar Josh Duggar is in double jeopardy. Not to mention that he has made a mockery of the Family Research Council with which God entrusted him as a (in fact, His) representative. This man's uncovered sexual pass-time has done more to bring discredit to the Church than a whole nation full of homosexuals, in my opinion, yet in the opinion of many, he is surely "in", and many homosexuals are surely not. Surely, he can simply check-in to Christian rehab, repent excessively, and give up his urge toward sexual promiscuity? Do we suppose one day we could ask a penitent Josh Duggar if he any longer covets extra-marital sex, or even sexual contact with small children, and that he will say, "No, I am now free of those urges". Well then, the apostle Paul not so lucky, and Mr. Duggar, if he continues to grow as a Christian, will not make that claim either. The apostle Paul says he still has the urges to do the things that he hates, and that only by the grace of Christ's strength in him is he able to keep from doing them? The old nature is still there with all of its original potential for evil - apart from Christ. No need to be a homosexual. By stating that the "urges to sin" never completely go away, Paul takes away our claim (as heterosexuals) that we are free from urges of the kind that God hates, - the many that comprise the remainder of the long list more multitudinous, wicked, and destructive than those of the practicing homosexual. And he gives those whom have such urges toward homosexual practice the right to claim that they, too, can acknowledge inherent, inextinguishable urges, not act upon them, and be in an acceptable condition with God. But neither they nor anyone else gets to chose the unique, sinful urges he or she is born with, but rather only whether to engage in the practice of them or not.
We all have natural weaknesses (strong urges), some for alcohol, sensuality, to steal things, to covet, to fornicate; God does not remove an individual's fallen nature, He simply gives him or her knowledge and self-control to manage it. Even greater than our self-control - He offers us to be partakers with Him of His divine nature, and to use it to bolster our own mortal self-control. And that huge, gracious, Spiritual Gift leaves us without excuse if we do not avail ourselves of it.
Let's take this thing one painful step farther. What about a man or woman in mid-life who has never had a sexual relationship, never was able to find a marriage partner, is simply not sexually attracted to members of the opposite sex at all, and if anything, finds him or herself sexually attracted to individuals of the same sex? What if this individual finds it unlikely that he or she will ever have an actual sexual encounter with anyone in this life, in fact never does, suspects she may indeed be a homosexually oriented, and in turn fears she may never be accepted by God (or man) - because she is being told as much by her church elders? Her own urges persuade her that she is a so-called homosexual, yet, she has never had a sexual encounter with another individual, either sex, and perhaps never will. Just the very description of her urges, to some, might condemn her as homosexual. So, where does she stand? Does she somehow have to develop a sexual attraction to a male before she can be accepted by God and not to be condemned as a homosexual? Does she need to develop a sexual attraction to men to be saved? Yes, perhaps she can (either mentally, or physiologically), but must she? Does her sexual preference alone make her doomed as some are seen to interpret 1 Corinthians 6:9? Or is she entitled, like the rest of us, to simply not practice such things and partake in the grace of God and follow Christ?
Practice might be defined as simply the act of giving into the desire to do something. Desires abound, and so do practices and choices.
Here is the most obvious problem with the proposition at the top of the page. What, as a Christian, do you tell hermaphroditic people of their acceptance by God - if their church elders are not sure? They are individuals born here in God's creation who have both male and female parts on one body. Do we tell ourselves (and them) that God did not create them? We have no other choice than to believe that God created them, and it pleased him to make them the way the were made. But must medical science come to the rescue for them to be saved from their ambiguous bodies and prepared for an eternity with their Maker? I would say not. Flesh is flesh, and spirit is spirit. Their flesh is made of the dust of earth, which God ultimately cursed and withdrew his spirit from; but their hearts/minds/spirits, though separate from him, are still wondrously made, in His image, and designed by Him to seek Him.
We can now trace our sexual behavior, by God's own design, to the elemental things of the world (which God loves). They are the chemical underpinnings of our physiological makings. God's physiology; God's chemistry; we are fashioned perfectly in accordance with how he saw fit to fashion each one of us individually. It pleases Him to form men and women in almost every conceivable way; with a mind (and spirit), capable of joining with His (mind and Spirit) and walking in His ways, with him. And if we are puzzled as to how some of those whom we perceive as being to mentally or physically compromised to rightly answer God's call to them, then we are comforted by knowing that he has a gracious plan unique to each of them as well - He desires that none will parish - He has blessed you and me with sund minds, others He takes care of as it pleases Him - in His own way.
I have a friend at work. I love him more and more all the time. He is a 59-years-old fellow whose mannerisms are very feminine, and which for as long as he can remember, he says, have made him the subject of physical and emotional violence perpetrated by Christians and others. He has often cursed homosexuality, who people say he is, and wishes he were not. But, he cannot change his eye color, add muscle mass, nor testosterone to where instead he has been given estrogen, and as much as the violence and hatred has made him desire to, he cannot change how his body involuntarily responds, or doesn't respond, to men and women. He refers to himself as someone society would describe as a gay man. I know nothing about whether he is a practicing homosexual, nor did I ask him. If he had asked me, I would have had to confess to him that I have practiced things in the past which would exclude me from Christian participation, and so, I spared him the wayward question. He describes himself as an evangelical Christian, and, he is "in" (that is, in the Kingdom, in my opinion). I know it. He testified faithfully about His knowledge and love for the Lord. He's in. In my opinion he's a shoo-in. But when I judge myself using the same criteria I use to know that he is accepted by God, I am not. I even felt ashamed, and here's why. He, and I, and two other staff were talking 'shop' in the med room of the group home we all work in. One of the young ladies was repeatedly adding the expletive "God damned" in the middle of just about every point she was making (I capitalize it because we all knew to which God she was referring). The homosexual spoke up and said, "You know, I have a real problem with that." She said, "What?", and he said, "with using God's name like that", and I sat there. The homosexual's idea of loving the Lord was to stand up in defense of His name, and mine was . . . to sit there. Which one of us is "in", and which one of us . . . should be concerned? This is a man whom, if many of us Christians met on the street, would be identified and labeled negatively as an effeminate man, probably, we would think, a homosexual. Some of us might even warn him that if he doesn't change - it doesn't matter what he does (practices or doesn't practice), he's on his way to hell. And some of us need to be concerned if we meet him, because, Christ is there, in Him, watching . . . us. Like I work with this guy and love Him more and more as time goes on. Christ makes it easy. It is one of the few Christian relationships I have had thus far that have not faltered in disappointment.
If Jesus were alive today, I would desire, if He would allow, to lay my head on his breast like John did. But given much of mainstream Christian mentality today, I would be reluctant to take such a chance due to the heartbreaking, hateful condemnation that would likely follow from many watching.
I wrote this because I had to give an explanation for all of this hypocrisy to my daughter - poor, fortunate her. If we must hate (and I do), then we are supposed to hate unjust gain, evil, doing violence, even our own lives if they don't include Him. And without these directives, we (particularly, I) would find reason to hate everything different than myself. Even science has exposed humans nature as having the tendency to show partiality to those who are similar to oneself, which, if unchecked by reason (that both all are similar and all are different) has been shown to lead to a downward spiral into prejudice and hatred. We need to be instructed not to hate - it comes naturally if we let it - and God has done it. We can't chose who we are, or how we were made - very few of us would have chosen to be like we are - but we chose how we use it; and we can't chose who we condemn and who we can't condemn: we can't condemn anyone, but ourselves.