In response to a friend’s ardent belief that Christians should be tolerant of homosexuals’ behavior and homosexual marriage because, according to my friend, Jesus Christ was/is tolerant of people’s behavior, the following comments are offered:
(1.) It is my sincerest and deepest belief that God the Creator and Jesus the Christ, God’s Son, are pure love. Praise God! They love every human being on this earth as God’s creatures and for those who accept Jesus as their Savior, God gives them the right to become children of God (John 1:12). Yes, God is pure love but another equally important part of Him is His wrath which falls upon those who willingly and knowingly choose to disobey His commandments and rules for human behavior. The God of the universe is a just God Who absolutely despises sin of any kind. Sadly, the wrath of God is not presented or discussed very much in many American churches these days as it is a subject many people do not want to hear about and some Pastors are reluctant to preach about.
(2.) The word “tolerate” can be defined as “to allow without prohibiting or opposing; permit — to recognize and respect the rights, opinions, or practices of others” (American Heritage Dictionary). There are several examples in the New Testament of Jesus not tolerating the behavior of people, i. e., the greedy money changers in the Temple (Luke 19:45), the Pharisees and teachers of the law (Matthew 23:2-4), the unrepentant cities (Matthew 11:20-24), and so forth. One example where it might possibly be construed that Jesus was tolerant of sinful behavior is found in John 8:11 where He says to a woman caught in the act of adultery, “Then neither do I condemn you.” But His words here can easily be taken out of context because the passage continues with Jesus saying, “Go now and leave your life of sin.” In other words, the woman was to repent of her sinful life (give up the adultery) and live according to God’s word. In no way would Jesus ever condone or be tolerant of a person continuing to sin against His word.
(3.) Yes, Jesus taught forgiveness and loving one’s enemies, etc. But the Bible also teaches that one should seek forgiveness for sinning, and this is done by first confessing one’s sin(s) and repenting, i. e. changing one’s behavior (see 1 John 1:9).
(4.) The Bible is clear about homosexuality being against God’s rules for human behavior, i. e., sinful — see Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13; Romans 1:26,27.
(5.) Christians are called to emulate Jesus and take on His character — to become more and more like Him (the process of sanctification) as life progresses. This includes not tolerating the things He refuses to tolerate. Thus, if Jesus defines marriage as a man and women united to become one flesh (Matthew 19:4-6) and the Apostle Paul further supports this definition of marriage in 1 Corinthians 7, then it is wrong for a Christian who is striving (via the power of the Holy Spirit) to become more and more Christlike to “tolerate” homosexuality and homosexual marriage.
(6.) In sum, Christians are called to love all people but not to tolerate continued sinful behavior that will bring the wrath of God on the sinner. Based on a solid understanding of what the Bible says about homosexuality, marriage, and the intolerance of Jesus for unrepentant, sinful behavior, there is no way Christians should tolerate homosexual marriage.