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Elton John on Hatred and Organized Religion

November 14, 2006

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,
Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.
And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified,but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
1 Corinthians 6:9-11

Elton John finds organized religion inconvenient because it “fuels hatred toward gays.” He says that, if it were up to him–and he doesn’t quite admit that it isn’t–he would ban organized religion completely.The AP copyright notice is a little daunting, so here’s the link. If it doesn’t work, it’s at CNN.com, or take my word for it.

John says that organized religion has always tried to drum up hatred toward gays, and calls religious perpetrators “hateful lemmings,” and their organizations “not really compassionate.” I think he’s right to a large extent, and it’s unfortunate. Religion should not fuel hatred. Hatred is not a mark of grace. But I also doubt that Elton John apprehends the difference between hatred and righteous indignation.

We’re called to come to grips with our own depravity and our need for release from its reign over our lives. Christians are the beneficiaries of the grace of God’s forgiveness, saved from the eternal consequences of our sin: God’s just condemnation and the destruction of our souls. Members of “organized religion” might be anything at all, and I don’t want the rap for their hatred.

Christians are under orders not to sin. We can’t do this, but we are under orders to repent and invoke God’s power to keep us. We have an advocate before the Father, our savior, Jesus Christ. We are under orders, as the stinging, preserving, disinfecting, seasoning salt of the earth, to call a sin a sin, and to announce its conflict with God’s moral law. But hatred is not in our orders.

Hatred is possibly a very imaginative way of passing the buck of sin when it should already have been passed. Why hate gays? Why hate any unregenerate people? Sin is sin; either it burdens the sinner, or it has been left at the cross of Christ by a divine grace in which the sinner had no part at all.

Our sin should already have been left at the cross of Christ. There is no reason to call another’s sin worse than our own and to hate him for it to somehow make our own sin look better. If we’re trying to shift the burden a bit by hating someone else’s and calling it “worse,” then maybe we haven’t unburdened ourselves of our own sin and left it where it belongs. Our burden requires no lightening if it has been shed.

We aren’t to fellowship with those who live in active opposition to the law of God. What fellowship has light with darkness? But we certainly are not to hate them, either. And I submit that true Christians don’t hate gays, because they know that “there but for grace,” they themselves could be anything hateful at all.

Salvation is not a testimony that we could never have been worse sinners than we were; it is a testimony of the “power of God unto salvation.” (Romans 1:16) “…lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:9), if I may conflate.

Now the hard part. If you remain a practicing homosexual, you are not a Christian. It is impossible, because you have not repented your sin and removed yourself from it–and your practice is sin and you know all the places it says so in the Bible. Very simply, sin still dominates your life. Paul says to his Corinthians, “and such were some of you,” not, “and such are some of you.” You can go to church and profess love for Christ and his love for you, but it isn’t happening. If you’re in an “open and welcoming” church, you’re in a happy lie. If you’re in a true church, and your sin is open, people should talk to you about it, unless you choose to avail yourself of a church as a public accommodation and not as a place of worship. But they should not hate you.

I think Elton John is a very burdened person, given over to sin, vain imaginings of his importance and his rights, and false ideas of true religion. In his reprobate mind he his blameless. But, like everyone else, he is full of sin that needs cleansing, repentance, and forgiveness. He doesn’t need hatred.

We can never merit God’s gift of salvation from the dominion of sin. We cannot make ourselves worthy of the gift before or after receiving it. It’s free, in spite of what we are. But we are told that if we do not forgive, our heavenly Father will not forgive us. (Matthew 6:15) The servant who was forgiven his debt to his lord, and then in turn persecuted those who owed him, was delivered to the tormentors. (Matthew 18:23-34)

Our forgiveness cannot save Elton John, or anyone else; only God’s forgiveness can, and it does not seem that Mr. John has asked for forgiveness and healing. If Elton John’s sin is worse than our own in our minds, it makes us look good in our own minds, and we are not good. And if we still need to look good, maybe we’re still trying to hide that bundle, and we haven’t laid it down as we must.

Posted by Mrs. B at 7:14 AM

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