Tablers thought, “You are loved” too

“Why would three guys take it upon themselves to sit with a sign that they knew would upset people?”

I wasn’t present at the now infamous “March 9 table,” but I imagine that plenty of students were asking questions like this as they stopped suddenly in front of the big blue sign reading “LGBTQ is Sin. The Bible Says. Change My Mind.”

Some have assumed an answer to this question: “These students wanted to spread hate for LGBTQ people and were masking their bigotry in religious language.”

This answer is easy. It’s popular. But are things really that simple?

For just a moment, test the limits of your empathy:

Ask yourself, what if you believed that certain lifestyles are displeasing to God? (1 Corinthians 6:8-10) 

What if you believed that homosexuality (for example) is one of many sins that is “contrary to sound doctrine” and is fatal if not repented of? (1 Timothy 1:10)

Imagine if you, like Jesus, believed in Hell. (Matthew 13:42 & Mark 9:43-49)

If you sincerely believed these things, wouldn’t you see it as an obligation of love to talk (without slurs or shouting) to your peers about it? Wouldn’t that be true even if it meant making some, including yourself, uncomfortable?

With this in mind, ask again: “What was motivating the ‘March 9’ guys?”

At this point, some people may respond that there’s no excuse for believing these things. They may assume that arguments from scripture against LGBTQ lifestyles are artificial and can be easily waved away by anyone whose judgment isn’t clouded by bigotry.

After a quick Google search, arguments about shrimp are brought up: “Leviticus 11 forbids eating shellfish. Isn’t it hypocritical and arbitrary to eat shrimp and then make a stand on the prohibitions in Leviticus 20?” 

The argument betrays a simplistic reading of the Old Testament. It fails to distinguish between Levitical ceremonial law, which Christians have always acknowledged is not binding any longer (read Acts 10:10-16), and Levitical moral law, which is affirmed by and carries into the New Testament (read the Sermon on the Mount). In Old Testament Israel, the moral law was enforced by the state and carried civil penalties. New Testament Christians follow Christ’s and the Apostles’ lead of implementing church discipline (which is spiritual, and very serious), not state discipline, for unrepentant transgressions of the moral law.

My purpose in highlighting this argument is not to conclusively refute those who might bring it, but rather to demonstrate that Christians who believe that homosexuality is sinful are not coming out of nowhere. Even if you don’t buy into the ceremonial v. moral law distinction, at least have the intellectual honesty to acknowledge that the distinction has been made throughout most of Christian history. Acknowledge the possibility that believers are acting upon it, and not upon some bigotry or an uninformed whim when they do not obey commands in Leviticus 11, and then make a stand for commands in Leviticus 20.

In both the Old and the New Testaments, the Holy Spirit’s presentation of homosexuality seems to be consistent to many Christians: the tone is only ever one of condemnation and never celebration —or even affirmation. Ways of explaining the relevant texts differently seem forced, as if certain scholars are trying to keep Christianity’s (rather outdated) holy book palatable for a changing society (or student body).

What happened on March 9 cannot simply be explained away as “hate speech.” Whether you condone their methods or not, in the minds of the three students, their message had a rational, scriptural basis, and far from being hateful, was an act of love. Re-read the Sermon on the Mount. Check out Galatians 5:16-21: God does not smile down on everyone regardless of their lifestyle. He loves and forgives sinners who repent. Repentance is not a condition; it’s an identifying mark of forgiven Christians. This was their message.

To my peers who struggle with the temptation of LGBTQ lifestyles, we who support the message of March 9 do not hate you. We are fellow sinners with our own besetting sins. We do have a sincere concern for you. We believe our concern is biblical. When we share the concern, it is because you are indeed loved.