Monthly Archives: February 2024

Conclusion: Living in Light of the End

When you get to know and love people, it is a natural tendency to avoid conflict in your dealings with them. But while it may be convenient to do so, Adventist Christian communities can never abandon God’s ideals because we look forward to God’s eschatological restoration of the ideal in a glorious garden city, the New Jerusalem (Rev 22:1-5; Rom 8:19-25). While the ideal is not always achieved in Christian communities, we are called to display the ideal to the degree possible in anticipation of the new earth and the new humanity exhibited in the resurrected body of Jesus Christ (Rom 6:3-14; 2 Cor 5:15; Eph 2:3-7). Adventist Christian communities seek to uphold the ideal, while treating all who fall short of that ideal, whether by nature or by choice, as if they were the living embodiment of Jesus Christ in our midst. “Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me (Matt 25:40, NKJV).” As long as human probation remains open, God does not abandon those He loves (Ezek 16:1-64; John 21:15-17), neither should we. I invite all who read these words to be faithful in loving others the way Christ has loved us (John 13:34).

The Bible and Compassion

What can we learn from Scripture about how to treat those who do not meet the ideal (which includes every one of us at one time or another)? It is critical to begin by acknowledging that LGBT+ people (along with the rest of humanity, of course) bear the image of God (Gen 1:26-27. While the image of God may be marred in all of us, it is not fully eradicated by sin. To disrespect the image of God in anyone is to disrespect the One who created and sustains us all. But, more than that, LGBT+ people are “brothers (sisters) for whom Christ died” (Rom 14:15; 1 Cor 8:11). When we disrespect anyone for whom Christ died, we disrespect the cross, and the high value God placed upon the human race there. We also look to the example of Jesus Christ, who in His earthly life treated sinners of all sorts with dignity and respect, including tax collectors, whose very profession was offensive to followers of God at the time (Matt 9:10-12; Luke 15:1-2; 19:1-10). Jesus refused to look down on any sinner or condemn them (Luke 7:36-50), but invited them to re-orient their lives in relation to God’s ideals (John 8:11).

To know someone is to love them. When we take the time to know and love LGBT+ people, they are no longer abstractions, they are human beings who want to be understood, respected, treated fairly, and loved like anyone else. LGBT+ people have been disproportionately affected by stigma, discrimination, and abuse. The church and its institutions, often motivated by fidelity to Scripture, have nevertheless caused significant harm to LGBT+ individuals. So, any outreach to them must begin with repentance and heartfelt confession, followed by careful listening to their life stories and their struggles. It is from a context of love and understanding, acknowledging the brokenness we have in common, that we earn the right to invite them to consider the advantages in a life of sexual purity and self-control (1 Thess 4:4-7; Rom 12:2). “Our neighbor is everyone who is wounded and bruised by the adversary. Our neighbor is everyone who is the property of God.” Desire of Ages, 503.