The popular mantra “love is love” sounds loving, but is it biblical? After all, God IS love right?! In this message, we talk about how to love like God and about what is true and false about the saying “love is love.”
Welcome, friends in the room, friends in Fort Worth; Houston; El Paso; Phoenix; Nashville; Mint Hill, North Carolina; Southampton; Philadelphia; Fayetteville, wherever you are joining us from, and friends here tonight. Who's familiar with the term love language? Okay. By show of hands, who in this room would say they are an acts of service love language person? Okay. A few. What about quality time? Touch? What about all my gifts people? Words of affirmation? Okay.
If you're not familiar with any of those, basically, some guy came out with a book and made a killing convincing the world that everyone has one of these five love languages. I don't know if that's biblical, but it's somewhat helpful. Let me tell you about my love language. My wife and I have different love languages. The theory of the book is everyone has at least one love language. Sometimes you have a couple of them, but typically, people have a predominant one, maybe two predominant ones.
My love languages would be acts of service and physical touch. Serve me, touch me, serve me again. That's all I want. My wife's love languages would be quality time and words of affirmation. She doesn't care if I'm out mowing the lawn. She doesn't care if I clean up the house, do any service. She's great to sit and fill, just you and me, just sitting together. This is great. Not quantity time…quality time, the two of us. Or cards, notes, words of affirmation. This is the stuff that makes her feel loved.
I tell all that because there was a time recently where it was Mother's Day this past year. I had a plan. I got some gifts together, decided I was going to get my wife this necklace with our kids' names on it, and then I got her a massage. I know; husband of the year. I had gotten her this card, and I just had the day planned out. We were going to go to this brunch and breakfast. We woke up that morning, and I gave her the gifts I had gotten.
I had had my son, who's 3-1/2, write and fill out the card. It was like, "Oh, this'll be sweet. I'll have him write the card." He can't write words, so he just writes with a crayon, like, some colors inside of there. I thought that was brilliant and genius. Husband of the year. No big deal. I give her the whole gift package, and she's like, "This is great." The breakfast goes on. We're at breakfast having brunch, and then we get home from that breakfast, and we're getting ready to put kids down for naps.
I look at her, and she's over by the kitchen sink, and she's emotional. I could tell, like, "Oh man. She's upset about something right now." I don't know if it's like, "Oh man. I've just touched you so deeply with my thoughtfulness." She says, "I feel like you don't know me at all. You didn't write me a card?" I am like, "I had him write in the card. That was the sweetest thing ever!" She was like, "I know, that's great, but you didn't get a card from you to me?"
It was a realization that my attempt at expressing love was not received in the way I thought it was going to be received, because our definitions of love and love languages and what love looks like are different. I've learned from that, and now every single time, no matter what… If it's a Wednesday, "Here's a card I've written for you." That's not at all true, so don't give me credit for that. Point being, I will not make that mistake again.
I start there because in our marriage, we have different definitions of what love looks like, what love is. Like I said, for me, it's acts of service and physical touch. For her, it's going to be quality time or hearing things written out and words described to her. Our definitions are different. What does that have to do with what we're talking about tonight?
Well, we're continuing the series Instagram Theology. What's Instagram theology? We are looking at some of the more popular cultural mantras that people throw out there and people say on Instagram or just in life. There's a lot of culture behind it, but they're half-truths at best. Tonight, just like my wife and I have different definitions of what love looks like and what love is, there's an Instagram mantra called "Love is love."
As culture, we say, "Look. We may agree to disagree and have different definitions of what love looks like, of what love is, of when love is appropriate, but let's just agree love is a great thing. Let's keep it at that." Our culture has embraced that there are different definitions of love, but as long as it's love, that is what matters most.
People will use the phrase "Love is love," which is what we're going to talk about for the next 30 minutes or so, to encourage different relationships you may have heard of. If you haven't heard that term, it basically is like, "Love is blind. It knows no religion. It knows no sex or gender. What's most important is that there is love there. Don't be confined by anything else. It's the most powerful force in the universe. We may disagree on what love is supposed to look like, but as long as love is there, that is a beautiful thing."
There's something true about that, but there's also something really wrong about that. As we've said throughout this series, anytime culture begins to step in the direction of things that God said, "This is something you don't define; I define," it comes with tremendous consequences when we abandon God's definitions. In other words, when you begin to talk about different definitions of "This is what love looks like" or "This is love," the Bible says that God, who is love, defines it. He gives a definition of what love is to look like.
So we're going to look for the next handful of minutes at what is wrong with some of the more popular ideas as it relates to "Love is love." People will marry someone of a different faith underneath the idea or in the name of, "Hey, love is love." People will push for marrying someone of the same sex underneath the idea "Love is love. How could love ever be a bad thing?" So we're going to talk about how love could be a destructive and bad thing.
One of the things that's true about "Love is love" is love is incredibly powerful, and you can fall in love with someone who God would say is not who he calls you to marry. You can fall in love with someone regardless of their age, regardless of their gender, regardless of their religion. Love is an incredibly powerful thing.
I went to a John Mayer concert last week. John Mayer would not be selling out American Airlines Center if love did not exist, particularly if women did not exist, because I'm sitting there in the room… I know I'm going to get pushback from the guys who are like, "I love John." If women didn't exist, John would not be selling out American Airlines Center; he would be working at Guitar Center. He's clearly a very talented guy, but there are not guys who are like, "Yeah. I'm going to pay $200 to sit there. Play 'Gravity,' please. I love that one."
Love is a powerful thing. It leads people to make decisions, spend money, spend their time, their attention, their focus. I mean, it moves us. Love is incredibly powerful. Love in a direction that God says is not the direction of what love truly is supposed to look like can be an incredibly powerful thing, but it's also incredibly dangerous.
So we're going to look for the next handful of minutes at three ideas: what is wrong with "Love is love" (I'm going to answer that), why God who's there would have anything to say or may not always be crazy about all forms of "love," and then what it looks like to have love in your life that looks like God's love.
First, what could possibly be wrong with "Love is love"? Here's the first idea: when love is love, love becomes a god. Using that phrase, whenever it's like, "Hey, love is love" as a justification that "You can't really explain it. I was caught up in the moment. It's a sweeping force, and you can't control who you're in love with. We just fell into love together," and it's used for a Christian (I'm talking just to Christians, primarily, in this message)…
When it becomes something a Christian uses to justify relationships that contradict God's Word, you are no longer underneath the control of the Holy Spirit, control of yourself. You're basically saying, "Hey, I couldn't help it. I was swept up in love." Love is no longer something that is just a part of a romantic relationship. Love becomes your god. Love becomes the thing that controls you. You're helpless. You're at its will. You're at its mercy.
Anytime a Christian justifies relationships that contradict God's Word, whether it would be with someone of a different faith or someone of the same sex, it communicates that love is god. "At the end of the day, I'm not responsible for who I fall in love with. Love would lead me to do this." The tragic thing is that it begins to make love become god.
What do I mean? God is love, and we'll talk about that in a second, but by love becoming your god I mean it presents the idea as though "I had to" or "I have to, because the heart wants what it wants." "I was moved by the love god," if you will. When that happens, it can be an incredibly dangerous thing. It's happening all over our culture right now, where people, under the banner of "Love is love," are buying that lie, and it's making love a god.
What do I mean? I don't know if you guys remember Woody Allen. Woody Allen is a very famous movie director. You know, Midnight in Paris. There have been a ton of films. Very successful movie director. He married someone named Mia Farrow back in the 1980s. Mia was another celebrity person on the scene, and they had a family together. Here's the family of them together. If you know Woody Allen, that's Mia in the middle.
Here are some of their kids. I think this is like their second or third marriage, but that baby boy is actually the two of them, and this is her adopted daughter and her kids over here, and they married. Five years after they had their little baby boy, Woody Allen began a relationship with the girl who's on the right there. He began to have a sexual relationship, and today he's married to the woman who was formerly his stepdaughter.
Do you know what he said when he was interviewed? People, as you would imagine, were like, "Awkward. That's a little creepy." He did an interview with TIME magazine, and at the end of the interview he basically was like, "Look. It's not that big of a deal." Here was the famous line. You've probably heard it, because it has been picked up by others. "The heart wants what it wants. There's no logic to those things. You meet someone, and you fall in love, and that's that." He's basically saying, "Love is love." In his scenario, love is his god. "I can't be responsible for who I fall in love with."
Other scenarios that are even more extreme, because that one… There may be some part of you that's like, "Oh, it wasn't his biological daughter. Is it that big of a deal?" but we would all have a line where we would say, "Hey, 'love is love' is not okay if love leads you to do this." Underneath that definition, I think most of us would have some line we draw where we're like, "No. Love is not love there; that's creepy or illegal."
Have you guys heard of NAMBLA? There's an association called NAMBLA, which stands for North American Man/Boy Love Association. It's a group that basically says they were born with urges to love children, and they push for and try to legislate to get Congress to remove the requirements you have to be of a certain age in order to have love. In other words, if it's consensual with a young child, if there are boys out there who want to engage in that, then we should be able to do that.
My point in bringing that up is not because I think that's a tremendously common thing in the room, but it's at least a point where we would all go, "Hey, 'love is love' in that scenario is not okay. I don't care who's consenting. That's over the line. That's not okay. If you make love your god and that's where your god leads, not okay." But as a society, this increasingly is something that we see… It has become almost comical.
I don't know if you saw this dude in Argentina who recently decided he was going to marry a tree underneath the banner of "Love is love." That happened. I'm not even sure what to even address at that point. A woman recently, I think it was a couple of weeks ago, decided in the UK to marry her dog after four broken engagements. They actually went through with it.
All of those are just like, "Dude, that's nuts. That's so extreme. The line is so far out there," but this is a line of thinking that is consistent with the idea that "Love is love. I'm not responsible, and love is going to lead me where it may." It reflects the idea that love is god. Now here's where it becomes relevant to the room. All of us do this at some level, or many of us still do this.
You don't put the line at dog or a tree as being the line that you can't go farther than that, but anytime we put the line where God doesn't put it and we're saying, "Love is love, and because we love each other it's okay…" If you're dating someone who's not a believer in Jesus…they are of a different faith…you are moving the line, just like somebody saying, "You know what? It's okay as long as I move the line over to a dog," because it doesn't align with God's Word.
If you're doing it and you're like, "He just calls himself a Christian," and you're dating someone, and under the name of "Love is love" and "We love each other" and "I'm working with him, and maybe he's going to get it together," you're doing the same thing. You're moving the line where God doesn't say you should move it.
If you're dating someone and you're introducing sex into the relationship or you're living together, and you're like, "It's okay; we're married in God's eyes. Love is love," you're doing the same thing. You're taking your filter and blaming on love the actions you have. You're basically going, "Love is my god. I have to do this, even if God says not to."
Jesus said the line is not where you put it, where they put it, but he clearly articulates, "Here's the type of love God loves to see and the context for human love to take place in a romantic way." He says this in Matthew, chapter 19. When God was on the planet, he stood up, and he was asked about marriage, and here's what he said marriage is.
Matthew 19:5-6: "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate."
Jesus' definition of the context in which love should take place and the type of love God loves is between one man and one woman in the context of marriage for life. The apostle Paul would go on to add that it would be one man and one woman who are both believers, following Jesus. The direction of their life is following Jesus. One man, one woman, for life. That's really what God says is to be the love that marks his people.
Why would God not love all forms of love? What's the big deal to have love outside of a relationship between one man and one woman in marriage for life? What is the big deal? How could anyone be opposed to these beautiful same-sex couples who are together or couples where even if they're of different faiths they've learned to work it out, and it's a beautiful thing together? How could God be opposed to that? It's so beautiful.
The reason is that God loves you more than he loves love. The reason is that God loves you more than he loves any earthly definition of love. He loves you so much that anything that's going to hurt you or anything that's going to hurt me or anything that hurts people, by definition, he cannot love. So as it relates to relationships that contradict God's design and how he created marriage and love to take place, of course he's not going to, because he knows if you reject God's design, it comes with consequences inside of your life.
One of the two most common types of love that God doesn't love because he loves you that are relevant and applicable to this room is dating relationships and married relationships between a believing Christian and a nonbeliever. A believing Christian and someone who's Hindu, a believing Christian and someone who's Muslim, a believing Christian and someone who's Jewish, a believing Christian and someone who's an atheist… A relationship between a believing Christian and someone who is not is a relationship the Bible teaches you are to get out of now if you're in.
In 2 Corinthians 6:14, the apostle Paul writes exactly about this, speaking to marriage. "Do not be yoked together…" That is an agricultural term for… Basically, oxen would be yoked together. They'd put two by one another and throw a yoke on, and you were unequally yoked if the oxen moved in different directions. Paul says, "Just like that, when it comes to your life, you should be connected and partnered in marriage with people who are moving in the same direction." "…with unbelievers." Don't do it.
"For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?" The Bible teaches that you are to be in relationship not with someone who claims to be a Christian or even uses that title but someone who's following Jesus. Why would it be a bad idea? Why is God not cool with that? Maybe as their friend or as you're dating them you could be a part of bringing them to God.
Why would he not be onboard with that? A couple of reasons. Because it hurts you. It hurts your faith. If you marry someone who's not of your same religious background or doesn't have your faith in Christ, here's what you're guaranteeing yourself, one of two options: you will either cap your relationship with Christ or cap your relationship with that person.
In other words, if you marry someone and they're not a Christian, you're either going to be like, "Hey, we don't have to go to church. It's not that big of a deal to me. It's not really that important. I care about you, so let's do whatever you want to do," and you're going to cap your relationship with Jesus, the person you say is most important in your life, which is what a follower of Christ does, or you're going to cap your relationship with that person, because you're going to go all in and you're still trying to follow Jesus, and they won't necessarily always be onboard with that.
So, you're spending your time differently. Your values are different. You're either going to cap your intimacy with your spouse or with Jesus, which inevitably is going to hurt you and hurt your faith and your marriage. The second way marrying someone who is of a different faith hurts you, and if you're not, all of us may have siblings or friends and people in our lives who are entering into relationships with someone who's not a follower of Christ.
Forty-five percent of marriages in America in the last 10 years were between people of two different faiths, almost one in two. In doing so, studies show you triple your chances of getting a divorce. In other words, whatever it is right now (and it's already pretty high), you are tripling the likelihood that you're going to get a divorce. Upwards of 75 percent of non-same-faith marriages end in divorce.
You're almost guaranteeing that the children you raise are going to walk away from the church. When there's one believing spouse or one practicing, faithful person, studies have shown that there is a 2 percent chance your children are going to walk up and be practicing believers in that faith of the mother if she's a practicing believer and the father is not. Two percent chance. You are statistically guaranteeing a 98 percent chance your children will not, if they grow up in that home, have a faith in Jesus.
Finally, you're hurting the person you're dating. You're showing them a weakened expression of Christianity, like, "Hey, it's important, but it's not as important as you." You're showing them some weakened version that's like, "Yeah, it's not that big of a deal. I can kind of live however I want, and you should try it out sometime." Let me be emphatically clear. If you are dating someone who is not a Christian, you are in direct rebellion to God.
If you say, "But I love him…" Clearly, and you love him more than you love God, because God's Word has made it clear. I don't care how you met, how much chemistry you have, how much electricity when you touch each other, and you like all of the same jokes and love watching movies. If they don't share your faith, you need to hit the ejection button now. The God who's there is not angry, and he's not trying to move you out of having relationships. He's trying to move you away from the direction of pain and hurt and the future that's in store.
The second type of relationship that I think often we wonder, "How could God be against that?" is the same-sex relationship. When we go in life and we bump into friends… All of us have friends or we know people or siblings or family members or roommates, and we come to church on Tuesday and they're like, "Hey, God is not for same-sex relationships," and then you go and you're around these people, and they're like, "As long as I can remember, I've only been attracted to women, and I'm a woman" or "I've only been attracted to men, and I'm a man."
How could God want something different for them? Why would God want something different for them? What I'm about to share I want to share just to paint a little bit of a picture to align why the heart of God, which is always for people and always loves people, why he would not love a love. The answer would be because it is hurtful to that person and ultimately unloving in the long term. I know it doesn't always feel that way.
What do I mean by that? The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 6, 1 Timothy 1, Romans 1, and in other places that same-sex relationships are not God's design, and the reason he's not for them is because it is a rejection of God's design. He designed one man and one woman to come together in a specific way and in the context of marriage, and anytime you and I reject the Creator's design, there are consequences that follow.
Anytime I don't follow the instructions of the Creator, there's a great chance that consequences are going to come as a by-product of that. We see this in life all the time. Because I'm an "acts of service" person, I will do the laundry in our house. I'll go up to my closet I share with my wife, get the dirty clothes all together, the clothes that are on the floor, stuff them in the laundry hamper, bring them downstairs, and throw them in the washing machine. Husband of the year again, doing all the laundry.
The number of times this next thing has happened is astounding to me. We need to get this fixed. My wife will go into the laundry room. She'll begin to pull some of the clothes out that I've washed, and she'll go, "Did you wash this dress? It's cashmere! Are you serious?" And I'm like, "Why was it on the floor, then, lady? Give me a break!" Hopefully I don't say that, but point being, I failed. She's like, "Didn't you read the instructions?"
Who ever reads the instructions on clothes? I'm not going to read… "Okay, this one is good. Okay, this one is good. Oh, I'll put this one over here." Who reads the instructions? I don't. "Wise people," she said. People who would save so much money on ruining their wife's dresses. It's like, "We're just going to have to put this on a doll or something, because it doesn't fit." But in failing to read the instructions or to follow the instructions of the designer, it creates consequences.
In the same way, that's really the picture the Bible paints. God created the world, he created you, he created life to be found in a certain way, and when we reject the Creator's design, there are consequences that come with it. If the Bible is true and if God is who he says he is and if he created a design as it relates to sexuality and relationships in a specific way, anytime we reject his design it comes with consequences.
What do I mean by consequences? Living in a same-sex relationship and lifestyle has impacts mental health-wise, in terms of life expectancy, and in terms of disease. The homosexual lifestyle has been associated with a 50 percent more likelihood of suffering from depression and substance abuse, 200 percent more likelihood of committing suicide, according to the medical journal BMC Psychiatry. The first is from a recent study in the UK from Health24.com.
A lot of people say, "Two hundred percent more likely to commit suicide? That's just because society is not accepting and it's too mean." That would make sense except for in the most tolerant, embracing societies and countries the statistic is even higher. In European nations where countries have hardly any religious practice present and homosexual marriage is both encouraged and celebrated, there is a significant increase in suicide.
Sweden, for one example, legalized same-sex relationships in 1944. The United States did in 2015. They made speaking against sexual orientation a crime as hate speech in 2003. It was recognized by the International Lesbian Gay Association to be the most gay-friendly country in Europe or the world. There, it's not a 200 percent increased risk of suicide; it is a 300 percent increased risk of suicide.
The decrease in life expectancy. The Eastern Psychological Association found that, on average, regardless of the European and Western countries, the decrease in life expectancy is 20-plus years, both in gay relationships and lesbian relationships. The increased likelihood of disease. The United States Centers for Disease Control in 2013 found that while only 3 percent of the population identifies as homosexual, it's responsible for 50 percent of the cases of syphilis, 60 percent of gonorrhea, 75 percent of all HIV cases in the past five years in America.
Why is disease so rampant? Monogamy is an extreme minority. There was a study done in the Journal of Sex Research by a gay male couple, David and Andrew Mattison. They did a study with 2,500 couples, and they studied these relationships for years. They found that not a single one of them in their study was able to maintain a monogamous relationship. On the average number of partners, they found the modal range for partners throughout their lifetime was between 100 and 500. In other words, 100 to 500 people they were sleeping with. That is not about love; that is about sex.
Again, it's deeply personal. We know people. When you stand back and go, "Hey, love is love, and who am I to say? It's not really my place. Do whatever you want…" "In fact, you need to embrace how I live and encourage it and celebrate it and champion it and be like, 'Oh, I'm all onboard about it.'" As Christians, as we're going to get to in a second, our first priority is not someone's sexuality; it's Jesus. At the same time, we can't encourage and applaud something that contradicts God's Word and leads to tremendous consequences in this life.
Think about it this way. If a friend came to you and said, "Hey, I'm making this decision I'm going to move to this city," and you knew that if they moved to that city they had a higher likelihood of being depressed, significantly more likely to be suicidal, more likely to have anxiety, to use drugs, a higher likelihood to end up with disease, and virtually statistically guarantee they're going to take 20 years off their life, would it be loving to sit there and go, "Who am I to…? You should go do that. It's awesome."
This is where it's hard sometimes being a Christian, because you're like, "Man, I want to make sure you know Jesus." That's what Jesus wants, first and foremost. But if you're asking me to just sit back and celebrate it, that puts me in a really hard spot. That puts me being a friend, knowing that you're going to move into a lifestyle that has significant consequences, rejects God's Word, takes 20 years off your life, and I'm supposed to sit there because I feel bad telling you that's not great and be like, "Yeah, man. Love is love. This is awesome. Love that." It's tragic.
God is not angry. He loves people regardless of orientation. The Bible doesn't even talk about orientation. Let me articulate this too. There's a sharp difference between homosexual attraction and homosexual action. Homosexual attraction is… Some studies say one in five. It happens all over the room, but there's a difference, the Bible says, between being tempted toward thoughts of the same sex and engaging in homosexual behavior and, further, engaging in that behavior and saying, "Everyone had better support me doing this, and if not, they're a bigot."
As a Christian, you go, "Man, I love people, and I don't want to see them make decisions that are going to hurt them. So if I have to speak truth, and when I can, I want to do it humbly and just say, 'If you're claiming to be a Christian, I do know this is not what God has for you.'" But God loves people, so anything that hurts people is a love he doesn't love.
Finally, how do we, as the church, love like God loves? If "Love is love" is wrong because it makes love your god, "Whatever I feel, I have to do…" Why would God not love every type of love? Because any love that hurts people God can't love, because the Bible says in 1 John, chapter 4, that by nature he is love. I've written four Cs. How do we, as Christians, love like God loves?
First, when it comes to society, humanity, we communicate Christ first. The biggest list on God's agenda for everyone out there, whether they are messed up heterosexually, homosexually, polysexually, whatever their brokenness sexually is, and we all are broken sexually… The biggest agenda for every person on the planet regardless of what they look like, where they live, how oriented they are sexually, is them knowing Jesus.
As a church, we do not focus on behavior and "You should stop this right here, and let me just tell you you need to quit that right now" to non-Christians. We have no business telling non-Christians to change their behavior. It gives them the impression that if God is going to accept them they have to change how they behave. We point them to Jesus.
Christians who point to culture and people who are not believers in Christ and say, "Stop acting that way…" It's like, "Dude, stay in your lane, bro. Stay in your lane." We talk to Christians. We share the gospel with nonbelievers. We share God's Word with believers. We call one another to living by God's Word, but when it comes to what we share, we don't focus on behavior with society. It's confusing, and it's not what the Bible says we are to focus on.
We share the message of Christ, and then the Holy Spirit brings behavioral change. You didn't change before you became a Christian. You believed. We focus on people believing or trusting in Jesus, not behaving. It's like this. In my house, we have rules. I have a 3-year-old son. This is Crew. What are some of the rules in the house?
"If you're going to live here, son, you have to follow these rules. Here are some of the rules. When someone gives you something, you say, 'Thank you.' When you ask for something, you say, 'Please.' You are courteous. You don't hit your sister. That's a big one. You make sure you don't spit out your food. You listen. You don't yell. You're kind to people. These are some of the rules in our house, some behaviors that, as a part of this family, you are to have."
Ten days ago, we went to Atlanta. We were at a family deal in Atlanta, and we went to the aquarium in Atlanta. I don't know if you've been to the aquarium in Atlanta. It's a big deal, apparently. It's the number one aquarium in America, in case you're interested. Anyway, we're in town. You do what you do in Atlanta. You go to the aquarium.
We get there. We have our kids there. My wife, two kids, and it is like a nut house. It was the most packed environment we'd ever been in with children to date. It was just shoulder to shoulder. People love these fish in Atlanta. So we're going in and seeing all of the different things. At one point…there are people everywhere…my son darts off, and we lost him.
It honestly was panic mode. It's like, "Oh my gosh! Where did he go? I can't see him." You're like, "He's 3 years old. He can't move that fast. Where could he possibly have gone? Where did you see him go? What kind of mother are you? Are you serious? Where did he go?" We're looking everywhere, and we can't find him.
I'm retracing steps and going back to where he could have been. I look over, and I'm just panicked. It felt like an hour. It was probably like 25 seconds, but it felt like forever. We're looking everywhere for our son. Then I look over in the distance, and he's holding the hand of an aquarium worker who's bent over. He's bawling his eyes out because he can't find his parents, and she's trying to help him find his parents. I go over and grab him.
Do you know what didn't go through my head while we were separated from him, while I was like, "This person I love…I can't find him"? I didn't begin to go, "You know what? Wherever he is, I just hope he's behaving himself. I hope he's saying 'Please' and 'Thank you.' He'd better not be hitting anybody. He'd better be very thankful when people give stuff. He'd better keep things in line and represent the family."
No. I thought, "Where's my son? I care about my son. I'm separated from someone I love." I'm not going through these behavioral things he'd better be doing right now. I'm going through, "Man, there's someone I love who I'm disconnected with who I want to be restored back to. I can't find him. I'm separated from him."
That's what the Bible says. God is a heavenly Father, and when his children are separated from him, the concern of your heavenly Father… As crazy as it would be for me, as a dad, to be like, "Yeah, this is great, but, son, I want to hear exactly what you were doing while you were separated and how you were behaving…" That's nuts! But that's what so many people, because the church has not stayed in its lane, think about when they think about God.
They're separated from their heavenly Father, and they think the heavenly Father who's there is like, "You know what? I don't know where they are, but I'm separated, and they'd better stop doing that and stop doing that and stop doing that." It's nuts. The God who's there is presented in Luke, chapter 15, as a Father.
When people who are running from him look in his direction… Do you know what it says? He's filled with compassion toward them and a heart that when they move toward God, God runs after them. Every person, regardless of their sexual orientation or the life they're living… God's greatest concern is them being restored back to their Father, not them behaving while they're separated from him. So, the first thing is we call people to Christ.
The second C is we're committed to loving people, not changing people. People are not projects to complete; they are people to love. The church does not offer conversion therapy. The Spirit of God is firmly responsible for change. In other words, it's not my job and it's not your job to try to change anybody. Our job is to love people, to present the gospel to people, and to trust the Spirit of God to bring about change in people's lives.
It is firmly the Spirit of God that restores and works through people's sexuality, but it is not my job any more than it is your job to work through and bring change. Only the Spirit of God can do that. It would be a disservice if I said, "If somebody comes to Jesus, the Spirit of God will always change their sexual orientation," because sometimes he doesn't.
He allows people to showcase, "You know what? I've trusted in Jesus. It has been years. I thought he would change some of my desires for the same sex, but he hasn't, but he's enough. If nobody goes with me, I'm going to follow him. Even my sexuality I'll surrender to him." As much as it would be a disservice for me to promise that he would change, it would also be a disservice for me to say he never does.
First Corinthians 6 says, "Such were some of you who practiced and lived homosexual lifestyles, but you were cleansed, you were washed, you were made new." Sometimes God does come in. There are stories all over here where the Spirit of God brings change in people's lives, but the role of the church is to love people.
We should be better lovers of the LGBTQ community than any other group. The acceptance, love, affirmation…all of those things. We have access to the source of them, which is God, and any community that loves better, shame on us as a church. So, loving people and caring about them and their story, where they're at.
Next, celebrating faithfulness to God's way. What does it look like to have God-like love? God is a God who, we're told, when people are faithful and they follow him and go all in and surrender their life and are walking with him, there's going to come a day where he goes, "Well done, good and faithful servant," Matthew 25:23 says. So to those of you in the room who are handling your singleness God's way…
In other words, you're deciding, "I could go get married tomorrow. I could get on 17 dating apps. I could lower the bar right down here, and I could get married. I could do it. I could cross boundaries sexually, because that's what most guys out there or most girls out there are going to be willing to do. I could do all of that, but I'm choosing to say, 'Jesus, you're enough. If I'm single forever, you're enough. I really hope that's not the case, but I believe you're enough, so help me to trust and help me to know and help me to walk in that.'" I'm so, so, so proud of you. You inspire me. You strengthen my faith.
For the people in the room who have same-sex attraction and find yourself going, "Is God ever going to allow me to have the type of relationship I hear other people having, that other people want to look forward to or even can look forward to? When I think about it, I'm filled with despair and, honestly, grief that I may not ever have that in this life, but, Jesus, you're enough. Though none go with me, I'm going to follow you, and I'm walking after. I'm not going to listen to lies of the community around me that are telling me, 'You were born this way. God doesn't care.' God, you have saved me, you're good, you're for me, and I believe you. You are enough. Help me to believe that you are enough."
You inspire me. You strengthen my faith. You make me want to follow Jesus more. I'm so, so proud of you. I couldn't say that enough. I need you to hear me. I'm so proud of you. You strengthen this church. You strengthen the church of God. May God multiply your kind, because you live in a world that tells you the lie every single day. "You should do whatever you want. Who cares if some book of the Bible says you shouldn't?"
You look those people in the face and say, "Jesus is enough. He's my King. I will follow him. I'm not going to follow the ways of this world." I'm so proud of you. You make me want to follow Christ, because here's the honest thing: you can't coast. There are a lot of people in the room… You're not engaged in homosexual sin, but you're looking at pornography every day, and it's just as offensive to God. It's just as offensive. Candidly, the most prevalent sin here is not homosexual sin; it's heterosexual sin, and it is just as offensive to God.
You're crossing boundaries physically, and it is just as offensive to God. If you do it under the name of "Love is love" or just because you are in love, it is an offense to God who loves you, who doesn't want you to feel the shame and guilt you feel right now even as I'm talking. He wants you to have relationships that flourish in line with his will and in line with his way. But to those of you who are walking faithfully, well done. I'm so encouraged. You humble and convict and strengthen me and make me want to go all in more with God.
The final C is to confess sin. It is impossible to love people if you are not healing from your own sexual sin inside your past, that you would be in relationships with other people where you can confess current struggles. Let's be honest. There's not a guy in this room, for the most of us… People being shocked about "I can't believe you looked at pornography…" Are you kidding me? In a second you can have access to naked women everywhere. It's never surprising to me.
It's like that Staples commercial where it's like, "That was easy. That was easy." That's how sexual sin is. It's like, "Oh man. Yeah, she's my girlfriend, and she wants to take her clothes off with me. That was easy. Okay." It's not surprising when sin happens. If you don't have people in your life who you can confess to… "I'm being tempted to look at pornography right now. I pulled up pictures on Instagram, and, honestly, I was just looking for a girl in a bikini pic" or "Hey, my boyfriend and I are crossing boundaries, and I haven't told anybody."
There is a roaring lion who looks to kill and destroy named Satan. He wants to kill your relationship. He wants to kill your relationship with Christ. He wants you to stay alone and in shame. Faith lives in the light and dies in the dark. Sin lives in the dark and dies in the light. That's why we harp on community. You have to have people to whom you can confess past sexual sin, sexual relationships, current sexual sin of any form…heterosexual, homosexual, whatever it is.
Some of you need to get rid of your smartphone tonight. You need to add Covenant Eyes to your computer, to your iPad, to your phone, whatever it is. If pornography is a part of your story, like mine, I couldn't encourage you more to add the software of Covenant Eyes or something called XXXchurch, which is another software. I know a lot of you are like, "What are you talking about?" If that is in your story right now, Covenant Eyes. It's a software to add on there that allows for accountability, for you to not make decisions that pull your faith in a direction you don't want it to go.
We all get thirsty, but it is not okay when I'm thirsty to go drink from the toilet. But I have to be honest. I want to go drink from the toilet a lot, and I need people to whom I can say, "Man, I am having thoughts about a past sexual relationship or about someone I saw at work or about somebody who posted something on Instagram, and I need you guys to pray for me, to know, and to follow up and ask me." Do you have those types of relationships?
I don't know what it is, and I know this may even have a guy bent to it. I know there are a lot of girls who struggle with the same thing. Whatever your struggle is, do you have people in your life you can be open and honest with? Maybe tonight the best thing you can do is to just open up with someone in your Community Group, to share. Share that thing you thought you were going to take to the grave that you've never told anyone. You will release its power, because sin and the power of it dies in the light, but it lives in the dark.
Finally, what does God-love look like? I know that as common as sin of sexual past or sexual present and living in a way that God says in his Word is not what he wants for you is, equally as common is the lie that "Because of my past, I'm damaged goods. Because of the things I've done, because of relationships I've been a part of, because of all of the decisions I've made, I'm damaged goods, and if there's a godly guy or a godly girl out there…
Everything you're talking about, Preacher, that's all cool, but that's not going to work out here in the real world. We live on planet earth. It's really cool when we're in church and you kind of talk about stuff and I'm encouraged, but when I go back to my normal life, there are just not godly guys out there, there are not godly girls out there, and there are not people who are going to be interested in someone with my past, with my struggles, with my problems."
To you I want to say, "How will a godly guy look at you?" If that's part of your story, if it's part of where you are right now, how is a godly guy going to look at you? Like Jesus did. Which brings the question…How did Jesus look at people in the midst of their sexual brokenness, in the midst of having a sexual past, in the midst of making decisions that were not God's will as it relates to sexuality? We're actually told a story of his interaction with a woman who was caught flat-out in the midst of her sexual brokenness.
A godly guy will not look at you like anything other than how Jesus looks at you. A godly guy will look at you like Jesus looked. We're told that Jesus has this woman thrown in front of him who's caught in adultery, in sexual sin. She's thrown out while Jesus is out teaching the crowds, and this group of religious leaders brings this woman in. It's in John, chapter 8. They bring this woman in and throw her down in front of him, and they begin to form a circle around him.
They say, "Jesus, this woman was caught having sex with another woman's husband, and the law says that anyone who commits adultery like this is deserving of the death penalty, to be stoned. What do you say?" This woman is guilty by all accounts. This woman does not deserve for the Son of God to do anything other than say, "That's what the law requires for her." What does God, Creator of the heavens, moons, stars, all that is, every cell in your body, every person who has ever lived, who formed you in your mother's womb, holds everything together…?
He walked on the planet for 33 years, and we're told there's a moment. He's standing before a woman who has committed adultery. She just got through sleeping with somebody who is not her husband. She's married, and this dude wasn't her husband. She's dragged in front of him, and Jesus looks at the woman, looks at the crowd that just said, "She deserves to die, Jesus. What are you going to do?" and we're told he bends down to the ground and begins writing with his finger.
We're not told what he writes. He just sits there for a second, and then he stands up and says, "Let the person who is without sin cast the first stone." Then he sits back down and writes on the ground again with his finger. We're told that the crowd, from the oldest to the youngest, just walked away, and then it's just the Son of God and the adulteress. He's bent over, and he looks at her. He looks her in the eye and says, "Where is everyone who accused you?" She said, "They've all left."
Then he says, "Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more." John 8:11: "Go now and leave your life of sin." Jesus says, "I don't condone…" That's what he's saying. "I don't condone what you were just doing. Let's be abundantly clear. But I don't condemn you. I'm inviting you and calling you to a life that is so much better and so much greater than what you are. Your sexual sin right now doesn't define you. It doesn't make me not want to have a relationship with you."
It doesn't disqualify you from being someone that God wants to use every part of your story, every part of your past, every part of your present, to be someone that God writes an amazing story of redemption, an amazing story of protection, an amazing story of you showcasing to the world "Jesus is enough no matter what my love life looks like."
No sexual sin and no sexual past keeps the Son of God from this woman or keeps him from you or keeps him from sexually broken people like me, but he doesn't condone and say, "Carry on," but neither does he condemn. You need to know a godly man or a godly woman will see you like Jesus sees you. You are not damaged goods. He is not done with you yet, but the choice is yours to not embrace "Love is love" but the God who is love and embrace his love for you. Let me pray.
Father, I pray for anyone in this room who's believing the lie their sexuality is fixed and firm and must be obeyed and they must follow wherever love leads; that they would follow the God who is love, who calls them to life, who loved them so much he gave his life for them; that you would dispense the lies all of us are tempted to believe; that you would dispense the lies about our sexual past and you would be bigger and greater and have victory over those things in our hearts and in our minds.
I pray that we would love you more, that the relationships we have as it relates to love would be filled and defined by the love of God, and that we would pursue purity, we would find healing, and we would look more like our Savior, Jesus. Amen.