This past Sunday night at the 2014 Grammy Awards, artists Macklemore, Ryan Lewis, Madonna, and Queen Latifah held a mock church service, where couples (straight and gay) said their vows and were married on the spot. Some of the lines to the song they sang are: “The right-wing conservatives think it’s a decision, and you can be cured with some treatment and religion. Man-made, rewiring of a pre-disposition, playing God – Ahh, nah, here we go. America the brave still fears what we don’t know and ‘God loves all his children’ is somehow forgotten. But we paraphrase a book written 3,500 years ago . . . I don’t know.” Later the song goes, “And I can’t change even if I tried, even if I wanted to.” And at the end, the song quotes 1 Corinthians 13 with the repetition of the phrase, “love is patient, love is kind.”
On some level, Macklemore is stating truth. People can’t change, in and of themselves. Not only do people struggle with lust (straight or gay), but they wrestle with other sins such as lying, stealing, over-eating, gossiping, selfishness, hate, etc. And we all know we practice these sins daily, and that it is very difficult to change. But that is the exact reason why people need a Savior in the first place. The fact that Jesus Christ died on the cross shows we need Someone who is perfect, to take our place, receive the punishment we deserve, and open the door to walking with God in a new relationship, with the potential for change fueled by His great love and grace. You see, we can’t change, even if we tried, but God can change us.
Yet, I titled this post in an attempt to get you to consider the lie undergirding Macklemore’s logic. So, what is the lie? It is the bold assertion that conservative Christians are misinterpreting the Bible. The song uses 1 Corinthians to show that we should all just love one another and be patient, end of story. But why would the author who wrote “love is patient, love is kind” also write 7 chapters beforehand this:
“Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Cor. 6:9-11)
If he wrote both things, then one is not opposite of the other. And not only that, but Paul is being loving by stating that if you remain in your sin, you will go to hell. That is strong AND loving language (they are not mutually exclusive when this culture wants you to think so). The verses in chapter 6 also reveal change is possible. He remarks to the people he is writing to “and such were some of you” and then he provides a list of what they are now – washed, sanctified, justified – all words indicating a transformation of the person: a former gay person, a former idolater, a former adulterer, a former thief, a former drunk, a former reviler, a former swindler – but no more. There is hope for the hurt in your heart and the guilt on your conscience. And that hope is Christ, and a new identity in Him.