The Evangelical Understanding of the First and Second Commandments
Jesus taught that the first commandment entailed loving God and the second loving our neighbor. However, it seems that for America’s evangelical world the first commandment is “be nice,” and the second is “make sure everyone thinks you’re nice.” Or viewing the case in the negative sense, the ultimate sin is not being nice.
This perspective flows out of the belief that true love is to be nice. To speak harshly under any circumstance is not nice and therefore is not loving. One senses that if a typical evangelical encounters someone in a burning house watching television and insisting on viewing it until the end of the program that he would sit down and in a loving voice try to explain why that was not a good idea instead of grabbing the remote out of his hand and yelling in his face to get out.
Manifestation of This Perspective
We see this propensity for niceness in the way we address the homosexual issue. We bend over backwards apologizing for evangelical criticism of homosexuals and emphasize how much we, along with Jesus, love them. This type conversation always confuses me because I never hear the shrill condemnation by evangelicals of homosexuality, so I can never figure out what we are apologizing for. I am sure that some Christians have been harsh in their condemnation of homosexuals, but they are certainly a small minority.
What we seldom if ever hear from evangelicals is a condemnation of the practice, the lifestyle of homosexuals, their intent on forcing their agenda on us and our children, the hatred they express toward Christianity and their commitment to destroy it.
Most recently this animosity has been exposed in the insistence by homosexual couples to have Christians who own a bakery make their wedding cake. The Christians now have lost the court case and are being forced by law to do so. Of course this couple could have had their wedding cake made by someone else, but it appears that their agenda is to force Christians to violate their convictions. The homosexual agenda moves inexorably on while evangelicals prove the genuineness of their Christianity by being nice.
Comparison to Jesus and Paul
In yesterday’s post I highlighted two passages in which we find Paul and Jesus not being very nice. These passages don’t seem to fit into our theology, at least not our practical theology, and don’t find their way into many sermons. Recently I did hear a sermon online by a preacher whom I highly respect deal with Paul’s rebuke of Elymas, and this preacher almost apologized for Paul’s behavior. He wanted his people to understand that they should always be nice.
A Refreshing Exception to the Rule
I was heartened by the position Rick Warren took in an interview with CNN’s Piers Morgan. Morgan grilled him regarding Christian intolerance related to homosexual marriage. Rick Warren stood firm. In response to continued pressure by Piers Morgan on the issue, Rick Warren asserted, “I fear the disapproval of God more than I fear your disapproval or the disapproval of society.” Though this response was mild compared with the statements by Paul and Jesus quoted in my previous post, I was encouraged by its unapologetic tone. I believe evangelicals would be far more biblical and also far more respected if we would more frequently exercised this more in-your-face approach in confronting the evils of our society.
When Being Nice Isn’t Being Loving
But is this sort of rhetoric loving? In yesterday’s post I sought to show how it is. A current expression of this case is found in a Freedom Outpost article, which begins: “Oskar Freysinger, a member of the Swiss Parliament gave a passionate speech filled with truth that no politician in Washington, DC has yet to give from the floor of Congress.” This speech dealt with the agenda of Islam to take over the West, and the problem with that happening, namely the intolerance and cruelty that comes with Islamization. He highlighted their mistreatment of women and emphasized their ultimate goal of our subjugation. He asserted, “My dear friends in the audience, we are not fighting against people, we are fighting FOR people! We are fighting against a dogma that despises all humanity and wants to push us back into barbarity.”
Tim Brown, author of the article, concludes with the challenge:
So I ask of my Christian brothers and sisters, and all Americans, do you love your neighbor? If so, will you fight against the doctrines espoused by Islam? Will you fight for the truth and for the people you claim to love, or will you act cowardly and remain silent because you fear prison, or an attack or an IRS audit? Make your stand today. As for me and my house, we will stand alongside Oskar Freysinger, for we cannot do otherwise. God help us!
The time has come when evangelicals need to differentiate between when love calls us to be nice and when it demands that we fight.