Christian Living

Sin and Sinners

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Author Melinda Penner Published on 07/11/2014

I had a frustrating experience the other day you’ve probably had. A family member thanked me for being nice to her lesbian friend. My relative said she appreciated that since she knows how I feel about her lifestyle. I said, “You’re welcome” and mentioned that I can be nice to people even if I think they’re sinning.

In fact, we’re all sinners. If I was going to be rude to sinners, I’d be rude all the time—including to myself.

Sadly, many people, even Christians, have a hard time distinguishing between believing someone is wrong and treating them with kindness and respect. At least when it comes to homosexuality. Obviously, those two principles are at the heart of classic tolerance, and people usually don’t have trouble with them in most other contexts. But when it comes to homosexuality, the culture and many Christians have absorbed the idea that to love someone you must accept their sexuality.

It wouldn’t have occurred to my relative to thank me for being nice to, for instance, another relative who is living with her boyfriend. It hasn’t occurred to her to thank me for being nice to relatives who have divorced. That isn’t surprising to her, but it is when it comes to homosexuality. The main reason, of course, is that there’s constant cultural pressure to not just respect, but accept homosexuality as normal. And a lot of Christians yield to the pressure. Especially when they have family and friends who are gay.

Actually, I’d never said anything about the friend directly. The couple of times I’d said something was in response to my relative talking about how she admired her friend for the courage it took to be true to herself regarding her sexual attraction, ending her marriage and leaving her family. My comments to my relative (who is a Christian) were about her admiring someone for pursuing her sin, not specifically about her friend.

The fundamental biblical view is that we’re all sinners. That’s something every Christian has admitted personally. The Bible also teaches us to be respectful of others because they’re made in God’s image. We love people while at the same time maintaining that they are sinning. After all, every single one of us is a sinner. Why is homosexuality the sin most often talked about? Because it’s the sin currently being normalized, just as divorce and living together have already been accepted.

I’m sure most everyone reading this blog understands that. But it’s a distinction we have to be very careful and deliberate to maintain to help people understand. And if we’re going to offer sinners living in rebellion to God reconciliation with Him as we’ve experienced.

It’s hurtful to be misunderstood, even by those closest to us. It’s hard to be ridiculed and marginalized in the culture. It’s painful when it leads to divisions in families. But we have to continue to keep making this distinction for people, and maybe it’ll sink in sooner or later. And even if it doesn’t, we have to be faithful to the Bible.