As I opened up my browser at home this past week, an interesting article caught my eye. It was entitled “Elton John: Religion encourages hatred.”
His statements were pretty bold. “Religion promotes the hatred and spite against gays,” and “I would ban religion completely. Organized religion doesn’t seem to work. It turns people into really hateful lemmings and it’s not really compassionate.”
While he makes some very broad and generalized statements, he does have a pretty good point. It seems like more and more, instead of following Jesus’s command to “love your neighbor as yourself,” we have started to follow the command of “always view people’s sins as worse than yourself.”
Instead of following Jesus’s example of compassion and loving people out of darkness, we try to hit them as hard as we can out of darkness, all the while claiming to be followers of Jesus, when really we’re just being “Christians” (see post below)
Let’s take a look at Elton John’s view of religion compared to the apostle Paul’s view of following Jesus.
- Elton John says that religion “turns people into really hateful lemmings.”
The apostle Paul tells us in Romans 12 to “not be conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” A lemming follows the crowd, a follower of Jesus follow the one and only Son of God.
- Elton John says that religion is “not really compassionate.”
The apostle Paul says in Colossians to “clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (Colossians 3:12)
If we are holding to the teachings of the apostles, who first held to the radical thoughts and actions of Jesus Christ, we must remember a few things:
We are all sinners.
Romans 3:23 tells us that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”
We are to have a spirit of compassion towards everyone,
no matter what they struggle with, because homosexuality is viewed as no different than some things that don’t seem to get us as riled up.
“The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galtians 5)
Here in Galatians 5, Paul has put sexual immorailty in the same category as jealousy (lots of people guilty of that), fits of rage (again, guilty), selfish ambition (yet again), envy (very guilty), drunkenness (see a pattern here?)…
And he puts sexual immorality in the same category as hatred. If we are truly acting like “hateful lemmings,” we are committing one of the very sins that God has put in the same category as those we are being accused of hating.
We all need a life-transforming Savior.
“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinnersâ€”of whom I am the worst.” (1 Timothy )
Paul declared his need for a Savior, and the only way we can hope to live up to having the compassion of Jesus is to pray that he would make us new, every day.
In no way am I condoning homosexuality, but I am also not condoning a lack of compassion towards those who perhaps need His love the most.
Let’s worship our Savior by following His command to “love your neighbor as yourself.”