Today I will be responding to an article written by another Odyssey writer that I saw shared on my Facebook news feed. My intent is to build on or elaborate on what has already been stated. This is my response to “Dear Christians, I’m Bisexual, And God Still Loves Me” by Gracie Mandel at Eastern University.
First, let me start out by saying that Miss Mandel is absolutely correct. Jesus does love her. God sent His one and only Son to die for her because God wanted to redeem her so she may have everlasting life (John 3:16). Jesus gave up His life willingly to save her while she was still a sinner (Romans 5:8). As a friend put it, “God only saves broken people because broken people are all that there are.” Jesus also stated there is no greater love than giving up one’s life for a friend (John 15:13). What Jesus has done for Miss Mandel He has done for all of us. It does not matter the situation we are in, it does not matter what we have done, it does not matter who we are, it does not matter what we will do in the future, Jesus will forgive us if we are truly repentant. He loved the world enough to die for it and He wants us to have a personal relationship with Him.
The other night I was up late and watched a sermon at my church that I had missed from a couple of weeks ago. The guest speaker was Caleb Kaltenbach who is the pastor of Discovery Church in California. I did not know who Pastor Kaltenbach was prior to his sermon at my church but his Twitter account is verified and he has had the opportunity to be interviewed by people like Glenn Beck from TheBlaze and be interviewed on The Christian Broadcasting Network. Pastor Kaltenbach has an interesting and touching story about his childhood and his relationship with his parents. Kaltenbach has written a book entitled Messy Grace, a book about "How a pastor with gay parents learned to love others without sacrificing conviction." This is what I would like to touch on today. We are to love others as Jesus loves us but without sacrificing our convictions and what the Bible says. In other words, we must love others but still affirm what Scripture says about marriage and relationships.
The message from Pastor Kaltenbach was about "How to Live in Tension." This "tension" is really love and if we are to truly love others it can only be done if there is tension between Truth and Grace. We need to have both equally.
Pastor Kaltenbach left five points for us so we can do just this:
1. Change your posture - Be known for what you're FOR, not against.
This one hit home for me. For people who know me personally, I hope they know me for what I am for more than for what I am against. I can be pretty heavy on the Truth side of things and I need to work my way to incorporating the Grace aspect more and more. As Christians we need to show that we stand for traditional marriage, relationships that are between a man and woman, and Jesus’s love rather than show we stand to condemn homosexuals or bisexuals with every breath we take. We should not be known or seen as the hate-filled Christians who carry hateful signs that tear others down and make the lives of people miserable. My hope is that if someone mentions our names their first thoughts are about what we care about, who we care about, and what we stand for. If not, we have some work to do.
2. A theological conviction shouldn't be a catalyst to treat someone less.
Amen to this. Simply because Christians like myself may disagree with homosexuality and bisexuality does not mean those who are homosexual or bisexual should be treated differently or that they should be treated less than other people. Jesus never did this to people He encountered during His ministry.
3. Think deeper about the person, not differently about theology.
We do not have to change our views to love others. Jesus never compromised on what was right and He will never do so. Instead of changing what the Bible says to meet the world’s views, we need to change how we treat other people we may not agree with. This should be applied to any subject where there may be disagreement.
4. Love relies on acceptance, not agreement.
I'm glad Pastor Kaltenbach hit this point. Jesus accepts us as we are as PEOPLE. Jesus does not have to agree with our actions, as seen in the story of the adulteress who was brought before Him (John 8:1-11). If you are broken or in need (we all are in one way or another), struggling through something or in a pit of despair, or maybe you don't even line up theologically with Christians, you BELONG in a church. You should be welcomed into any church you want to attend. As Pastor Kaltenbach stated in his sermon, the Church is not an exclusive club or a factory mill churning out Pharisees. It's a place for all people to come and accept one another as people. This is why I think the students at Eastern University, a Christian university, did a great job of treating Miss Mandel with respect and accepting her as a person even though they may not necessarily agree with her on everything.
5. Stop trying to fix people - Just point them to Jesus.
How can a broken person fix another broken person? It cannot be done. Let’s let our words and actions point in one direction only, to the One who can help us more than anyone else can. Regardless of what the sin may be, we should point others to Jesus and offer help when it is appropriate.
If you are interested in watching Pastor Kaltenbach’s sermon you can watch it here. You can follow Pastor Kaltenbach on Twitter @calebwilds.