Sunday, April 18, 2010

Is the Phrase “Jesus Loves You” Really Hate Speech?

If you subscribe to the New York Times, you may have read an interesting article about good people using bad words. Well, actually... educated people.

While people are arguing that the form of speech known as profanity is becoming socially acceptable, another form of speech known as preaching the gospel is becoming socially unacceptable. How so?

In October of last year, President Obama signed into law the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. This act came about after a young gay man was beaten to death in Laramie, Wyoming and an African-American man was dragged to his death behind a pickup truck in Texas.

A good law. After all, nobody deserves to be tortured and killed.

But some pundits, including those at the Religion Link web site, believe that this law may contain a loophole that would permit the arrest and prosecution of any person who quotes scriptures in the Bible that refer to homosexual behavior as sinful.

Granted, the core Gospel of Jesus Christ is a message of God’s love:

For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life.
John 3:16 [AMP]

But... as the great comedian and reported atheist W.C. Fields was quoted as saying when found reading a Bible while on his deathbed:

“I’m looking for a loophole.”

The loophole in the Hate Crimes Act seems to be that certain portions of the Bible are theoretically verboten, and anyone who preaches from those passages could be in big trouble... just like Stephen Boisson, a Canadian pastor who now faces fines and possible jail time due to his speaking out against homosexuality.

I saw an interesting article in Christianity Today about recording artist Jennifer Knapp who reportedly has exited the Christian music industry after coming out as a lesbian. The big question... would she be rejected or embraced by the church?

I can understand such consternation.  After all, people who call themselves Christians do ungodly things... like the guy who killed the abortion doctor in a church.  But does it seem better to just let people come to Jesus... whether they are wheat or chaff... and let His Spirit sort them out?

Also... even when preaching those scriptures, which I am not suggesting that anyone should ignore... isn’t it possible to do so in a loving way?

Ne pas?


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