Hate, Love, Sin and Repentance: The Culture’s Struggle to Redefine Christianity
A web article recently cited “Christian pastor” Liam Hooper — whom it identified as transgender — as proposing an alternate philosophy on how transgenders should be viewed in the Christian faith:
He [sic] had this message for trans people of all religious faiths who are serving in the military.
“You are — each of you — individual, beautiful and beloved images of God…beings God imagined and anticipated in the creation of human beings. You, in all of your personhood, speak to a God who affirms that there are as many images of God as there are now, ever have been, or ever will be human beings,” Hooper said. “You are beautiful. As you are. And you are loved.”
It is true that all men and women are created by God in the image of God. That is the very reason Christians believe all human beings have inherent value — including the elderly, infirm, disabled, young, and unborn, much to the dismay of some. Christians are one of the few groups to have a consistent, principled view on the intrinsic value of human life — as opposed to the modern situational economics-based view on life.
It is also true that “each of [us]” is loved by God. In fact, God’s love for mankind was so strong He sacrificed His Son to pay the debt of the world. There probably aren’t many who would try to claim there’s a bigger love than that.
Where Hooper strays is her implications with her short interjection “as you are.” Yes, God loves us even in our sinful state — after all, He loved us before we loved Him. And if you read up on the Graham crusades, for example, you won’t hear Billy Graham telling people they need to go to rehab and give up drugs before they come to Christ — rather, God calls them out even from where they currently stand.
But if we believe, our lives will reflect our love of Christ — including the desire to be obedient to God’s Word and to live a life consistent with the character of God. Drugs, alcohol addiction, promiscuity, theft, lying, etc, etc, can all be natural character traits of fallen man — sinful traits inconsistent with a life of Christ. That is why evangelists like Graham — and the Bible — call men to “repent and believe.”
Repentance is included in believing. Faith and repentance are like two sides of a coin. Genuine faith includes repentance, and genuine repentance includes faith. The Greek word for repentance (metanoia) means to change one’s mind. But to change one’s mind about what? About sin, about one’s adequacy to save himself, about Christ as the only way of salvation, the only One who can make a person righteous (Roy B. Zuck, “Kindred Spirit,” a quarterly publication of Dallas Seminary, Summer 1989, p. 5).
This doesn’t mean men have to be perfect to be saved. It does mean that evidence of their salvation will include their desire and efforts to leave their life of sin, however difficult or unsuccessful those efforts might be.
And that brings us back to Hooper, who, as a “trans Christian pastor”, appears to be preaching that repentance isn’t necessary. She appears to believe that one can call himself a Christian and continue to live just as he did before he was a Christian — a common belief among many, not just transgenders, who somehow feel obligated to call themselves Christians but want to keep doing what they’ve always done.
Hooper’s efforts are part of a greater movement to “validate” transgenders, homosexuals, and other non-normative sexualities — a rebuttal to President Trump’s declaration about transgenders in the military specifically and to “attacks” by Christians generally. It is but one part of the culture’s greater attempt to remake Christianity in its own image — an image that is “accepting” of everything, as if such “acceptance” is the same as “love.”
(Some go a step further, of course, and preach that such sin should not only be continued, but that it should be celebrated and evangelized. The next step, of course, is to stigmatize or even criminalize criticism of such sin, a la “hate speech”.)
Hooper is wrong — and she’s leading others down the wrong path.
God does love transgenders — as well as drug addicts, murderers, tax cheats, and that guy who was jealous of his neighbor’s car this morning — and His desire is “that all should reach repentance.”
It is neither “hate” nor “unloving” for a Christian to urge others to repentance. (Arguably, it is Hooper who is being “unloving” for leading others down the path of sin — with eternal consequences.) It is similarly not hate for Christians to act on the tenets of their faith to try to discourage others from sinning — or to discourage society from barreling down a road that normalizes sinful behavior.
Good and honorable men will disagree on how much Christians should engage the political process to that end, but it neither invalidates their role as a citizen nor makes them “bigots” for Christians to believe and act on their beliefs.
This is even more relevant when the conversation occurs about and between Christians, or at least those who call themselves so.
Christians are human, too, and they are imperfect. Christians say and do things that are hateful and unloving, or they communicate the “right” message in a hateful or unloving way.
But that doesn’t change the Truth of the message.
It is not hate; it is not bigotry. It is, ultimately, the message of God’s love. Believe, repent, and be changed.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
– 2 Corinthians 5:17