40 Questions for Affirming Christians Part 5

Rainbow Flag

Image Source: Benson Kua, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Rainbow_flag_breeze21.jpg

32. If “love wins,” how would you define love?

Love is patient, love is kind, it isn’t jealous, it doesn’t brag, it isn’t arrogant,it isn’t rude, it doesn’t seek its own advantage, it isn’t irritable, it doesn’t keep a record of complaints, it isn’t happy with injustice, but it is happy with the truth. Love puts up with all things, trusts in all things, hopes for all things, endures all things. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 CEB)

And even more to the point, love looks like Jesus on the cross:

Dear friends, let’s love each other, because love is from God, and everyone who loves is born from God and knows God. The person who doesn’t love does not know God, because God is love. This is how the love of God is revealed to us: God has sent his only Son into the world so that we can live through him. 10 This is love: it is not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son as the sacrifice that deals with our sins. (1 John 4:7-10)

33. What verses would you use to establish that definition?

I’m one step ahead of you, see above quotes.

34. How should obedience to God’s commands shape our understanding of love?

From Paul (Jesus said some things):

10 Love doesn’t do anything wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is what fulfills the Law. (Romans 13:10 CEB)

Love is the fulfillment of the Law. When Jesus told his disciples to go make more disciples, he didn’t tell them to make them follow every iota of the Torah. He said to follow what he taught them, which in some cases even overturned the Torah (acceptability of violence and divorce, for example). Good thing, since the early Church concluded things like no longer needing circumcision and eating pork when they saw those rules being barriers between people and Jesus instead of a helpful guideline in what following Jesus looks like.

Love is the real Law. The Torah doesn’t define love. Jesus defines love. Then we understand the Torah through the lens of his life, death, and resurrection.

35. Do you believe it is possible to love someone and disagree with important decisions they make?

Yes

36. If supporting gay marriage is a change for you, has anything else changed in your understanding of faith?

Yes, like every other person on the planet, my worldview has not stayed static. When I was a minute old, I wasn’t even a Christian! That’s a pretty dramatic change to now.

37. As an evangelical, how has your support for gay marriage helped you become more passionate about traditional evangelical distinctives like a focus on being born again, the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ on the cross, the total trustworthiness of the Bible, and the urgent need to evangelize the lost?

I don’t really use the label evangelical anymore since it has been redefined to mean what used to be called fundamentalist (for a couple centuries, “evangelical” was the moderate between “liberal” and “fundamentalist”). I’m an Anabaptist.

I believe in being “born again,” although the language makes me flinch a little since it is so often misused. My support for gay marriage makes me more passionate for this because I genuinely believe now that LGBTQ people can be born again. Previously there was always an asterisk that they could be born again IF they be celibate or marry opposite-sex anyway or completely deny it.

I believe in the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ, although in more of a scapegoat sense than a “God must kill things” sense many conservative evangelicals believe in. As we often scapegoat LGBTQ people as the source of all evil, remembering that Jesus died for all of us, including them, gives me even more reason to be passionate about it.

I believe in the trustworthiness of the Bible. I am more passionate about this because this issue, along with others, have helped me see the beautiful complexity of the Bible that invites you into the story rather than simply dictates rules. That’s a Bible I can trust. I can’t trust a Bible that only favours whoever is loud enough to tell everybody else they’re not welcome.

Jesus is pretty ridiculously awesome. He’s even so awesome that he loves LGBTQ people. That’s pretty exciting and encourages me to evangelize. When I didn’t support same-sex marriage, I hated evangelizing because of that asterisk again. I could say that Jesus loved everybody, but I knew there were conditions. That’s a lot harder to get passionate about and a lot harder to do.

And none of those things really matter if we don’t have love anyway, as Paul so eloquently states in 1 Corinthians 13.

38. What open and affirming churches would you point to where people are being converted to orthodox Christianity, sinners are being warned of judgment and called to repentance, and missionaries are being sent out to plant churches among unreached peoples?

Ah, yes, the false dichotomy that affirming churches are outside of orthodoxy, even though there’s nothing about same-sex attraction in the Nicene Creed. Unfortunately it is true that many have bought into this false dichotomy on both sides of the question, but there are plenty who don’t. Most of my church experiences have been non-affirming (although generally pretty welcoming), but I can think of the awesome group of people who were my Home Church in Hamilton. Maybe we didn’t warn people of judgement because even our evangelism tended to follow the early Church’s model where the priority was drawing people to God’s love rather than scaring them into a magic prayer, but if I can make this question more general, they were definitely a passionate group about spreading Jesus to everyone they could.

39. Do you hope to be more committed to the church, more committed to Christ, and more committed to the Scriptures in the years ahead?

Yes

40. When Paul at the end of Romans 1 rebukes “those who practice such things” and those who “give approval to those who practice them,” what sins do you think he has in mind?

Why is this at the end when we already dealt with these passages? I’m assuming he just felt he needed an even 40 but didn’t bother putting it in a logical position with the related questions. It messed up my breakdown of answering these.

Ryan Robinson

It is easiest to identify Ryan as both theologian and tech guy. By day, Ryan is a Technical Consultant work with PeaceWorks Technology Solutions. There, he works on websites, CRMs, and SharePoint implementations. Along with blogging here, Ryan is a founding member of the MennoNerds blogging network and a contributor to the book A Living Alternative.