The Progressive Misunderstanding of Love
- Look up the definition of the word Repent on Merriam-Webster.com
- Write in your journal all the reasons why people say their sins are okay with God
Love is not Enabling
“Don’t make one sin greater than another” or “Love wins man, Love wins. It’s the greatest commandment”. Arguments presented to traditionalist Christians who preach the idea that repentance is real and needed by those who claim to follow Christ. What these platitudes miss is the entirety of the rest of scripture. Full disclosure, three scriptures are the basis for those who try to dissuade the traditionalist Christian from discouraging sin; Matthew 22:34-40, John 13:31-35, and Romans 13:7-10.
1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
Romans 6:1-2 (KJV)
Each of these passages does indeed tell the reader to love their neighbor. Most of them tell us exactly what progressive Christians want us to believe. However, there is a problem with each that those same progressive Christians ignore and do not want to talk about…they stop reading scripture once they think it has made their point.
Why is that a problem? Scripture is not designed to be cherry-picked for the parts that are convenient or that reinforce what you want God to say. We cannot stop reading or decide other parts of scripture do not matter simply because we cannot figure out how to fit them together or they indicate our position is wrong. On the contrary, when we discover a portion of scripture that does not seem to fit with what we believe we have found a new area of study.
Why study scripture? Because it is God’s word for Mankind telling us how best to live.
What does that mean for us as individuals reading the Bible? It means where we find things in our lives that are not aligned with what God has said we are supposed to change.
Instead, progressive Christians want to either exclude those inconvenient portions, disregard them, or ignore them and change the subject. The Love Wins crowd sees any calling out of sin as “hateful” and “driving people away from Jesus” when it is exactly the opposite. Loving an addict or alcoholic means not helping them put the needle in their arm or get another drink, not telling them their brand of addiction is perfectly fine because God loves them. That is enabling the addict to remain in the thing that is destroying them, not helping them to make their lives better and live.
34 But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together.
35 Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying,
36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
38 This is the first and great commandment.
39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.
Matthew 22:34-40 (KJV)
Matthew 22 The Greatest Commandment
Love as the greatest commandment (Matthew 22:34-40) is the second one listed by Jesus, but they do not focus on the first one. Jesus says the greatest commandment is to love thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. THAT is the first and greatest commandment. God comes first, not love. Okay, so what does that mean? It means to love God and His ways and what He says to do, how He says to live, and what He says to avoid first. After that, we love our neighbor as ourselves, but there is a second thing the progressives miss in this scripture.
“Love thy neighbor as thyself,” Jesus says. “You wouldn’t want the finger of accusation pointed at you so don’t point it at someone else” we are told. True, we likely do not want to be told we are wrong. Nobody likes being told they are wrong. However, the problem here is that I also do not want to be giving offense to God on a daily basis, and sin is an offense to God.
The fact that Jesus died for our sins and washes us clean for the day of judgment through our faith in Him does not remove the fact that we have sinned …and will commit more regardless of how much we try not to (because we are fallen humans and make mistakes). Our goal should not be to continue committing sins because we know that they are already paid for. This is Paul’s point in this opening to chapter six in his letter to the Romans. Our goal should be to eliminate as much sin from our lives as we can, not wallow in it because someone already paid for it.
Love One Another
Jesus commanded his disciples to love one another “as I have loved you” in John13:31-35. But how did Jesus love people who sinned? In John 8:3-11 we see the woman taken in adultery as an example. In the end, Jesus does not condemn her to death by stoning but forgives her. “See, see, we should forgive people their sins not point the finger and be hateful.” Don’t stop reading. “Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more (emphasis mine).” Jesus does not tell the woman to simply leave. Nor does Jesus tell her to go back to her old life. Jesus expressly tells her to go and sin no more. More, Jesus does not specify to go and stop having sex out of wedlock or any other specific sin. Jesus tells her to go and stop all sin.
31 Therefore, when he was gone out, Jesus said, Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him.
32 If God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him.
33 Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you.
34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
35 By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
John 13:31-35 (KJV)
3 And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,
4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.
5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?
6 This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.
7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?
11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.
John 8:3-11 (KJV)
Love Fulfills All the Law
That this scripture even comes up at all is a surprise because it takes some immediate scriptural gymnastics and outright willingness to ignore scripture to make it work. Yes, verses 8 and 10 command us to love one another, that this fulfills all the law, and that it works no ill to our neighbor. However, to get there progressive Christians have to completely skip over and ignore verse 9 which is a shortlist of sins from the Big Ten (the Ten Commandments) preceded by some Thou Shalt Nots. “HEY! It ends with love thy neighbor as thyself!” Yes, yes it does but that is a problem for the progressives, not the traditionalists. By ending this litany of thou shalt nots with love thy neighbor as thyself Paul is reinforcing the idea that the way we show Christian love to our neighbor is to not let them continue in sinful behavior that is destructive to an eternal life, not invalidating everything Paul has been saying as the progressives would like it to be.
7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.
8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
Romans 13:7-10 (KJV)
This has run longer than I intended but this is where the Spirit sent the pen so here it is. Go and love thy neighbor as thyself. This is not a command to run out and start telling people what they are doing wrong. We are absolutely to embrace those God puts in our paths as brothers and sisters, even when they are not nice to us. What this means is that when we are in our community of Christians we are absolutely called to not only identify sin in our midst but not to allow it to flourish and fester. This is not a permissive instruction. This is also not a hate-filled or intolerant instruction. Love embraces those things that are good and then walks with our brothers and sisters in Christ who struggle so they can learn by our example how to clean up and improve their lives.
Sin has no place being tolerated or permitted in the church and at the same time, it is exactly where sinners need to be. Some see that as contradictory, but it is not. The Christian church is a rehabilitation zone for the fallen. We take them in broken, downtrodden, injured, sick, wounded, and dying. We show them a better way that does not encompass any of what created their situation in the first place, and then we help them live that way. This cannot be accomplished by allowing those things that broke them in the first place to be permitted a place at the table as something ongoing. When the Holy Spirit has identified sin in our lives we must begin to work to repent of that sin which means a change of opinion about its place in our lives, then work to remove it. Anything else cheapens the sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf.
- Spend today reflecting on how love flows in your life from others to you, and from you to others.
- Try to work one new act of love into your day at any point and for anyone.