Love Does Not Meaning Accepting Sin

I have seen the firestorm that has erupted as the topic of Homosexuality has again been brought to the forefront of American culture. I have tried my best to stay out of the debate since arguing on the internet is inherently unproductive. I can’t speak thoroughly on a topic or give a friend or fellow believer a complete explanation of my stance in a Facebook post. However, as friends of mine have shown their support for same-sex marriage and have placed love in higher regard to truth, I have been forced to say my piece.

Loving others DOES NOT mean accepting their sin. Throughout scripture we see the Lord being very clear on His stance on sin. Now, I don’t believe in stoning Homosexuals or some of the things spoken about in the Old Testament, but I do believe that the Lord has not changed His mind in terms of how he feels about Homosexuality. In fact, Romans 1 makes God’s stance pretty clear. Homosexuality is a sin.

Now, does this mean I HATE Homosexuals? ABSOLUTELY NOT! The reason why the Lord sent His Son to die for us on the cross is BECAUSE He loves us. The gospel of grace is the cornerstone of the Christian faith. However, the love God has for us comes in spite of our sin. God did not pardon us of our sins, HE PAID FOR THEM! The reason why Jesus died on the cross is not because sin is acceptable. Jesus died because the price tag for sin IS DEATH!

When we, as Christians, come into a relationship with the Lord, we are given the freedom to continue sinning but the Lord has very clear expectations of our behavior. In light of grace, we should strive to live godly lives BECAUSE WE LOVE OUR LORD. Moreover, the Lord expects us to balance love, grace, and truth. The Lord is a perfect being who has grace, truth, love all wrapped up EQUALLY in His character. The gospel is a message of BOTH love AND truth. Love was in the sacrifice and the reason for coming to earth to die. BUT ALSO He came to PAY THE PENALTY FOR THAT SIN to satisfy His justice.

The Lord also demonstrates this balance through His love for us and through His justice. For instance, the Lord loves us unconditionally, but He only allows those who have accepted His Son into heaven. The Lord loves us unconditionally but abhors sin. The Lord loves us unconditionally but disciplines us as a father disciplines those he loves.

Love DOES NOT mean accepting others sin as acceptable behavior. In fact, we are calling to hold our fellow believers accountable for their sin. The famous passage that talks about not judging others has the expectation that we will strive to live godly lives, BUT THAT WE WILL ALSO hold our fellow believers accountable BECAUSE WE LOVE THEM! If I love my fellow believer, I’m not going to allow them act in such a way that God has clearly said is ungodly. In fact, if I do allow them to do so then I am enabling them.

Love, by definition, means loving someone no matter what but also holding your friend, spouse, family member accountable for their behavior BECAUSE YOU WANT THE BEST FOR THEM. I want the best for my fellow believers who struggle with or have surrendered to the temptation of homosexuality. I DO NOT HATE THEM. I DO NOT JUDGE THEM. And I will love them NO MATTER WHAT. But I WILL NOT sit by as they choose to live a life contrary to what the Lord has clearly outlined for us.

We, as Christians, are Christ’s ambassadors. We are the light and salt to this world and if I want others to come to the knowledge that will save them from Hell, then I am honor-bound to be as godly as I can be. And if another Christian is going to compromise that mission, I will go to them IN LOVE and ask that they change their behavior. I don’t expect IMMEDIATE CHANGE. I fully expect trails, tribulations, hard times and lots of prayer, tears, and frustration, from them and me. BUT I WILL NEVER GIVE UP ON THEM OR CALL THEM WICKED.

That is the true definition of what it means to love someone.

Explaining the Vision of an Author

Goal of everything I write is to teach some truth or impart a little piece of knowledge into someone’s life. I don’t write frivolously, although I will admit the task of writing is fun (and simultaneously ardous), the intention is not simply for entertainment. When I am writing, at least the current books, poems, etc., I am working on, are all built around some ideas or ideals that are self-contained metaphors. I don’t write to reflect current culture but rather create worlds that may, or may not, parallel current events or situations I find fascinating.

To give you a for instance, in my current novel Graveyard of Dreams, which started long ago (five, six years ago to be precise) as simply the backstory of a villain in a video game I liked. This “plot” was a juvenile goal that began to grow beyond its simplistic confines as soon as I took the task of writing. The next step in its evolution was that I wanted to create an anti-hero. Someone you wanted to cheer for but put you up against the moral qualm of his “means to an end” approach. Or it didn’t because that fit your moral paradigm but it at least brought that worldview into the forefront.

However, that skeleton was far too devoid of muscle for my taste, so the nest step was to add a world of conflict and opposing views that could further fuel my machinations. My inspiration was drawn from three video games Bioshock, Bioshock 2, and Bioshock Infinite. Each of these games did (or are doing since Bioshock Infinite is just currently being released) revolutionary things. They combined story, atmosphere, ideology, and scenery to create one complete vision.

I wanted to reflect that same design. So the world that my character inhabits is artificial and for good reason (which I won’t spoil). Built in some improbably fashion beneath the ancient remains of a simultaneously more advanced and far more primitive culture, at least in the eyes of the general populace. Add a cult that worships and wishes to control these spires and a government that, much like the Matrix, is hiding things from its citizens for its own reasons, and you have the recipe for difficult choices.

I now had my anti-hero. I now had a world he could inhabit that would give him meaningful choices. Choices that would force you, the reader, to look at your own moral compass and determine whether he could be held accountable for his actions or if he was coerced, or even brainwashed, into those actions. I now had my vision.

This was not an easy process and, in fact, I had to scrap over one hundred and forty pages of a nearly finished version of my book to realize this goal. The version I am currently writing is only thirty pages long but is already far better. One very good reason is a technique that I am gleefully borrowing from the aforementioned games: deleting “cutscenes” wherever I can.

Now I know what you’re thinking, books don’t have “cutscenes”. And in essence, you are right. However, books do have “text dumps” where the author is forced to give page after page of exposition about the world, the people, etc., to give the world context. I abhor such practices because it doesn’t allow for the exploration of the world by you, the reader. Instead, you are treated to a tour where you are force-feed knowledge you don’t need and will tune out at every possible convenience.

This technique is so prevalent in books you probably have no reference by which to judge their success. Let me give you two examples, both  are excerpts from my book, to show the difference. Each are detailing the world the main character, Mitch, lives in.

Except 1: First draft of Graveyard of Dreams

“As the haze of sleep slowly lifted from my mind, I thought back to the night before and the dreams or should I say dream that haunted me relentlessly. The images came rushing back like a flood, overwhelming me. A feeling akin to being doused in ice-cold water, leaving my body covered in a glistening sheen of bone-chilling perspiration. This quickly broke me loose from the fog of sleep and drove all thoughts of sleep from my mind.

If only I could wrap my mind around the mystery of why I was having this same dream over and over again, then maybe I could have peace. Even if it was momentary, it would still be a respite from this endless cycle of feverish dreams and exhausted mornings. My mind needed a break or, I feared, it might break. I wanted to sleep so badly.

The dreams were trying to tell me something and I wasn’t getting the message. Almost as if it was a bad transmission or a fragmented message or I was just broken, which I had already come to suspect and had plenty of evidence in favor of.”

Excerpt 2: Second draft of Graveyard of Dreams

“The hologram blinked close and Mitch checked the time. It was only quarter after six. Far too early to be conscious. He groaned, wishing he could crawl back under the covers, but he got up nonetheless. He threw on a jacket and a pair of raggedy jeans and stumbled his way out of his bedroom.

He plopped unceremoniously down at the table and slumped as far down as the chair would allow.

His mom raised an eyebrow at his entrance. “Dramatic entrance, princess.” She moved around their kitchen flipping eggs, turning over pancakes. “Why are you tired lately?” she asked, concern evident in her voice.

Mitch paused, unsure of how to respond. Bursts of images from the night before flashed through his mind: “He’s losing a lot of blood get him to the ER quick!” Hospital beds and hospital gowns. Cold eyes staring at him through goggles and white masks. “I don’t think he’s going to make it! His breathing has slowed way down.” His skin still felt icy cold and the feeling of déjà vu was overwhelming.

“Mom?”

“Yes, honey,” she replied, completely unaware of the battle that raged inside her son.

“Have… Have I ever been in the hospital?”

A plate shattered on the floor. Mitch jumped in surprise. His mother stood motionless in front of the stove.

“Mom?” Mitch asked slowly.

She half-turned then moved to clean up the mess. “It’s nothing, sweetie.”

“Really?” He raised his eyebrow in disbelief.

“Mitch, really I’m fine,” she replied, doing her best to reassure him.

She quickly cleaned up the mess and returned to cooking, acting as if the strange moment had never happened.”

Notice the difference? No? Go back and read through how much was really revealed about Mitch’s dreams in the first draft and then check the second draft. In the first draft, lots of words, words, words surround the simple statement:

“I thought back to the night before and the dreams or should I say dream that haunted me relentlessly.”

In the second draft, that same thought is summed up in this few sentences:

“Mitch paused, unsure of how to respond. Bursts of images from the night before flashed through his mind: “He’s losing a lot of blood get him to the ER quick!” Hospital beds and hospital gowns. Cold eyes staring at him through goggles and white masks. “I don’t think he’s going to make it! His breathing has slowed way down.” His skin still felt icy cold and the feeling of déjà vu was overwhelming.”

This may seem like more words to read but did you notice that right after the internal monologue it flows right into a conversation that includes his mom and the strangeness surrounding her reaction (a fact that in the first draft didn’t happen until ten pages later). I eliminated over fifteen pages of words to sum up what could’ve been said in just a few sentences.

By deleting the “cutscene”, I can now spoon-feed you as a reader, tidbits and details about Mitch’s dream without resorting just to mountains of text. And now it flows faster, you as a reader don’t get bogged down in detail. Same amount of character development, much less detail. My goal as the author is to give you as much fun, as much complexity as possible without resorting to mountains of words. So why not let the world speak for itself? It has a mightier voice than I could ever muster.

The Ugly Truth

I sit and stare

At this blank screen called life

Hoping and praying

But there’s nothing there

Well is dry

Engine is broken

Hit a crossroads between pain and promise

I see the destination

But what about this pothole

Laid right before my feet

Its like a pit

Bottomless, empty

And the sun just a little nightlight on the horizon

So many people lie, cheat, steal for the glory, the fame

Promising themselves they will never be called lame

They are broken

Like the promises their fathers made

As they laid

Little angels in their uncomfortable beds

With lice, fleas, and ticks munching on their heads

Keeping themselves warm with their thin sheets

Because Daddy doesn’t have two nickels to call his own

Instead he stuck a needle in his arm

And down the drain went the rent, the water, and now the lights

This reality isn’t a show

It doesn’t just have teeth it has fangs and it really bites

The little angel is slowly losing her wings

Crying, weeping, sobbing through the night

Wishing mommy with her tender words and soft cheeks would come back

But Daddy said

Honey, everything will be ok

Well he lied little darling

You sell your soul

That’s an investment you can never get back

Dark words for darker days

Terrible predictions for these terrible predicaments

Little princesses

Losing their crowns

Losing their minds

Selling their bodies to the court jester claiming to be a king

But this is all a joke, right?

Where is the reset button, the undo tab?

Why isn’t life a game?

Why couldn’t your man be Mario and you be Peach?

Instead, its all turned around

Its upside down

Your prince is in another castle

And you just used your one and final life

You checked out, shut down

Now you’re buried underground

Forgotten by your addict dad

And terrified mom

So many say goodbye to this cruel world

Too soon

Too few stand in the gap

Too many stand aside

Too many drive on by

We are all prodigals

But we are not the good Samaritan or the destitute Jew

We are the Priest who passes on the other side

We are the Levite who doesn’t have time to be the broken man’s guide

We seldom give comfort

But we greedily accept it

We bully

We mock

We scoff

We taunt, we tease, we refuse to see the greatness in the least of these

We build monuments in our minds

Monuments to our sin hidden behind religious dogma and false doctrine

Rude awakenings and fiery judgments await us wicked servants

A blind eye can only be turned so many times

Before its owner realizes his own lie

Told too many times

The eye is healthy

The man can see

But the question is

Will he?