“It doesn’t matter who you love…”
We hear that time and again – along with examples of same-sex couples who are loving and dedicated – and I don’t doubt for a moment that they are. And I could be one of them, but I follow Jesus, accepting Him as my Lord and Savior. And He teaches us that it does matter not only who we love, but how we love them.
Who We Love
You have heard that it was said, “Love your neighbor* and hate your enemy.” But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
*“Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.” Leviticus 19:18
In the revolutionary Sermon on the Mount, Jesus takes the common spiritual teachings – the ethics that most in the crowd were raised on and aspired to – and turned them on their ear. He revealed the Love behind the Law…and those listening were blown away.
Everyone – Including Our Enemies
The Lord calls us to love everyone, even those we find most difficult to love. There are many examples of those following this command, Corrie ten Boom is one that came to mind as I was writing this post, and I don’t think that I could match what she wrote here:
“It was at a church service in Munich that I saw him, a former S.S. man who had stood guard at the shower room door in the processing center at Ravensbruck. He was the first of our actual jailers that I had seen since that time. And suddenly it was all there – the roomful of mocking men, the heaps of clothing, Betsie’s pain-blanched face.
He came up to me as the church was emptying, beaming and bowing. “How grateful I am for your message, Fraulein.” He said. “To think that, as you say, He has washed my sins away!” His hand was thrust out to shake mine. And I, who had preached so often to the people in Bloemendaal the need to forgive, kept my hand at my side.
Even as the angry, vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more? Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him. I tried to smile, I struggled to raise my hand. I could not. I felt nothing, not the slightest spark of warmth or charity. And so again I breathed a silent prayer. Jesus, I prayed, I cannot forgive him. Give me Your forgiveness.
As I took his hand the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me. And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.”
~ Corrie ten Boom, The Hiding Place
“He gives, along with the command, the love itself…” These words of Corrie ten Boom reminded me of the line in Awake My Soul, by Caedmon’s Call:
I trust no other source or name
Nowhere else can I hide
This grace gives me fear
And this grace draws me near
And all that it asks it provides
~ Sandra Webb, Awake My Soul, Caedmon’s Call
He calls us to love each person, and He provides that love if we but ask Him, and move in faith to follow.
But how does that relate to same-sex attraction? That’s not what people mean when they say, “It doesn’t matter who you love,” is it? Actually it’s expanding on that proposition. Because when someone rhetorically asks that question regarding loving someone of the same gender erotically, they are not typically thinking it through to this degree. I’ll put it in the first person…
For me, loving women erotically/intimately (eros*) was easier than loving men in this way – in fact, loving (eros) men was not something feasible, or attainable, even thought I wanted it to be. So, it would be easier for me to grasp hold of that premise – that it really doesn’t matter who you love – and just run with it. Not to say that it’s easily accepted in our culture, etc. (although it is way more now than when I was growing up), but it would be easier for me internally.
But the Lord doesn’t call us to a love that comes easy. That isn’t a quality of the love (agape*) that He describes as recorded in Matt. 5, quoted at the start of this post. He calls us to a love that comes hard – that is in fact impossible to attain without Him. He calls us to love people we would never spend any effort to relate to otherwise – and He can and will empower us to do just that. God does have a say in who we love. And if He can and will enable us to love (agape) our enemies, what’s to say that He cannot equip us to love (eros) the complimentary gender?
*More on the meaning of these terms to come in the next post.