And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” | Matthew 22.35-40
Yesterday, I posted about what Biblical marriage is and why Christians are willing to defend it. The next response that seems to be popular is: aren’t Christians supposed to love their neighbors (meaning all people around them)? Once again, I agree, but we have to understand what this means to the Christian.
The golden rule was laid down by Jesus as a response to a challenge about what law was the most important. In His answer, He summarizes the whole law in 2 commands:
Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul, and mind
Love your neighbor as yourself
In this, Jesus tells us His followers love God and love neighbor, but He does not say love them the same (or equally). The love of God is first and foremost, and the love for neighbor is akin to the love one has for oneself. In other words, the love for a neighbor is second to the love of God; a Christian has to love their neighbor THROUGH their understanding of God.
Since Christians believe that Biblical marriage is part of the original design and what it best for individual and community, than loving your neighbor is about wanting what is best for them. In this case, because Christians believe that living outside of God’s design will create problems, standing against any false version is actually an act of loving protection. It may be preventing some people from what they want, but Christians believe that what people desire is not what is best for them.
This may all sound very condescending: ‘Christians know what is best for everyone’ (and it would be if the motive for their actions came from their ‘opinions’). If Christians simply take their opinions and try to force all people to live under them (as Christians are often accused) then Christians are nothing more than authoritarian snobs. But Christians aren’t acting on their own behalf; Christians live in submission to God. The morals that they defend are gifts given to them by God to protect from the destruction of sin. It is like being told a secret that would prevent people from getting a deadly virus. Would it be more loving to share this or keep it to yourself?
Christian opposition to sin is a means of loving their neighbors, by sharing the gift that has been given to them. It is loving as they wish to be loved since their life has been changed from an individual pursuit of desires into a being made more like Jesus (which requires turning from sin). Christians sacrifice their own ideals, their social credibility, and even friends, to share the truth that has been entrusted to them.
This certainly does not always seem like love (and there are ways that Christians act that betray their love), but the act of standing against sin is in itself Biblically defined love (standing against sin does not necessarily mean the judicial fight over marriage rights, and many Christians differ as to how we should respond…I will address this in a later post).