The title of a USA Today article caught my attention today: “Gays, lesbians call for Salvation Army boycott.” I hope that reading that title shocks you as much as it did me. Who could possibly justify boycotting the Salvation Army?!?! That’s worse that slamming the door on a girl scout! So what’s all the fuss about? Here’s a snippet of the relevant portions of SA’s stance on homosexuality:
sexual intimacy is understood as a gift of God to be enjoyed within the context of heterosexual marriage…Apart from marriage, the scriptural standard is celibacy.
Scripture forbids sexual intimacy between members of the same sex. The Salvation Army believes, therefore, that Christians whose sexual orientation is primarily or exclusively same-sex are called upon to embrace celibacy as a way of life. There is no scriptural support for same-sex unions as equal to, or as an alternative to, heterosexual marriage.
What is the response of the lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender (LGBT) community? As stated on the Boycott the Salvation Army Facebook Page:
”There are many organizations that also do good things, but it doesn’t make them justified in holding prejudiced beliefs or fighting to keep gay people from being treated equally. And there are plenty of charities that are willing to do good for people without supporting needless intolerance. The Salvation Army is not alone in providing help to those in need. But it is set apart by its choice to endorse bigotry.”
Note several important key phrases/concepts that this LGBT group uses of the SA: “prejudiced,” supporting unequal treatment of LGBT’s, intolerant, and bigoted. But are these really accurate descriptions of the SA? Perhaps a lesson from Dictionary.com will help. A bigot is “a person who is utterly intolerant of any differing creed, belief, or opinion. [To be a bigot] is to be so emotionally or subjectively attached to one’s own belief as to be hostile to all others.” Intolerant: “not tolerating or respecting beliefs, opinions, usages,manners, etc., different from one’s own, as in political or religious matters; bigoted.”
So, do we find in the SA an organization that is “utterly intolerant,” “hostile,” or disrespectful of LGBT’s? Is the SA guilty of treating LGBT’s as inferior or sub-human? Continue reading the SA statement on homosexuality:
Likewise, there is no scriptural support for demeaning or mistreating anyone for reason of his or her sexual orientation. The Salvation Army opposes any such abuse. In keeping with these convictions, the services of The Salvation Army are available to all who qualify, without regard to sexual orientation. The fellowship of Salvation Army worship is open to all sincere seekers of faith in Christ, and membership in The Salvation Army church body is open to all who confess Christ as Savior and who accept and abide by The Salvation Army’s doctrine and discipline.
That doesn’t sound like an organization I would label “bigoted” or “intolerant.” In fact, one might well accuse those who–because of their difference in beliefs–would withhold donations to such a charitable organization! Many churches, unfortunately, we might aptly describe as “bigoted” and “intolerant.” Such bigoted churches refuse to allow LGBT’s (or those living in any type of sinful lifestyle) to attend worship service or, at least, make them feel unwelcome or inferior. However, what we find in this case is not that the church is being intolerant toward the LGBT’s, but that the LGBT’s are intolerant of any organization that disagrees with their chosen lifestyle. It is truly ironic when people point fingers and say “You’re a bigot because you disagree with my beliefs.”
The fact is, we are all intolerant bigots to some degree. Only those who hold absolutely no moral convictions, whatsoever, can claim to be unbiased. But even these are likely biased against those who do have moral convictions! The underlying issue here is truth. If, as pop-culture asserts, truth is relative and there is no absolute moral standard, then it is wrong to assert that the beliefs of others are wrong. But one can see the obvious fault in this argumentation–“Because there is no absolute right or wrong, it is wrong to condemn others’ beliefs.” Hmm…
This should simply remind us that there is an ultimate standard of right and wrong. Even those who argue otherwise are condemned by the fallacy of their own argument. As Christians, we should not shy away from this sense of right and wrong just because our culture asserts that truth is relative and labels us bigots. Remember the words of Christ in John 15:18-25:
“If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates Me hates My Father also. If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well. But they have done this to fulfill the word that is written in their Law, ‘THEY HATED ME WITHOUT A CAUSE.’ (NASB)
The fact is that there is an ultimate standard of truth: God. As sinful, rebellious human beings, we despise higher authority. We, in our sinful human natures, are God-haters. We despise the God that tells us what is right and what is wrong, even though his laws are for our own good. We should not be surprised, therefore, when unbelievers scorn this law and condemn it as narrow-minded. After all, Jesus said that there was only one way to God, and it was through him (John 14:6). After all, they hated Jesus first.
I do not agree with all of the SA’s beliefs (namely, that you can lose your salvation), but I do agree with most of their beliefs, and I think they’ve nailed this one. We, as Christians, should openly condemn homosexuality for what it is–sin. But, we should never endorse the mistreatment of those living in sin (nor should we endorse “homophobic” behavior), but should openly demonstrate the love that God demonstrated to us, “in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8). The SA does this. They “hate the sin, but love the sinner.” They discriminate between the right and wrong ways to live but don’t discriminate against who they show Christ’s love to. This is the attitude every Christian should have. So, this Christmas, let’s boycott the boycott and show the world that Christ loves the poor and needy.