In Paul’s letter to the church at Rome, a letter sometimes called “The Fifth Gospel” given its clear expression of the doctrine of salvation, the Apostle uses 1:18-32 to describe the world as it is apart from Christ, man in his natural and unredeemed state—unbelieving, immoral, unjust—in a word, inescapably wicked. And Paul expresses the fact of the matter that it is not so much that natural man does not believe the truth as that he “suppresses the truth”; that is, people do not believe the truth because they do not want to believe it: “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.” In other words, their conscience declares to them that there is a God who will one day judge the world; this they have as human beings created in His image. But rather than embrace God, they choose to embrace evil. And why is this? Because “people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed (John 3:19-20, ESV). So, man’s suppression of the truth which is both in him by conscience and around him by creation is willful and culpable before God.
Now the Apostle provides a litany of sins in 1:29-32, and no one is exempt. But what is remarkable is that in 1:24-28, he does highlight one particular sin, not as the worst sin to be sure, but as, shall we say, “Exhibit A,” of a world which does not know God, and as the quintessential and representative sin (alongside idolatry) of the pagan world. And that sin which Scripture calls here the exchanging of “natural relations for those that are contrary to nature,” our contemporary managers of the English language (who lack the eloquence and style of bygone generations and who think the invention of barbarisms a sign of sophistication) have dubbed, “homosexuality.”
I have subtitled this essay, “Why Do They Hate Us?” By “they,” I mean those who have “exchanged natural relations for unnatural,” and by “us,” I mean those who embrace, or better, have been embraced, by Christ and the faith handed-down by his apostles in the Holy Scriptures. So why do they hate us? We know why they wish now to place their feet upon our necks with a most deceitful Congressional bill, the intent of which is less social equality than social imperialism; to wit, they currently have the political power to load us with their burdens, if only they have the political will to foist upon us their impositions. But why do they even wish to do so in the first place? What is the engine behind the will to power that drives those who insist on gratifying their fruitless sodomitical desires to crush those whose faith teaches contrary to that behavior? Why do they refuse to “live and let live” as they so plaintively pleaded only a few years ago?
It is precisely at this place where the Apostle supplies the answer. Natural man intuitively knows and feels his suppression of the truth, though left to his own designs he shall never admit it. It is this knowledge within him hidden within the recesses of a darkened mind and aching heart that makes him vaguely but interminably aware of his alienated soul—an alienation from God, others, and especially himself. And he cannot reconcile himself with himself because he yearns more for his sin than he does for himself, thereby trapping himself in an inescapable prison of self-hatred. It is here that a decision must be made: Either he owns and admits his sin which is the cause of his alienation and self-loathing and turns to the One who can and will heal him, or he can convince himself (which he can never really do) that his sin is no sin, that good is evil and evil good, and, pertinent to this essay, seek a scapegoat to bear the blame for his inexorable feelings of alienation. Those who decide for the former experience healing, if not completely of those desires, then at least the power to endure temptation and live a holy life. Those who opt for the latter experience deeper alienation and further heartache, and to the extent that their minds descend into increasing darkness, to that extent do they risk that divine penalty, not once, not twice, but three times rehearsed within just five verses of Scripture’s most descriptive passage of man bereft of divine affection, “And God gave them up,” truly some of the most horrifying words in all the Bible.
And, having opted for the latter, he must continue to suppress the truth. And an integral part of that suppression is blaming others for one’s own sin, which has been the sinner’s way since the primal transgression. So today the evangelical Christian and observant Catholic must bear the brunt of sinful man’s furor, and currently his hatred is energetically advanced with precise legislative action followed by threatening governmental coercion.
But they can’t win. Oh, they may rob us of our goods, imprison us, remove our children from our homes, and eventually murder us by decree, but this will not heal their conscience. Even the very slurs they hurl at us only reveal the truth behind their lies: “breeder” only manifests the sterility of unnatural acts; “homophobic” only uncovers the universal feeling of revulsion to such behavior; and “haters” only betrays how they feel about themselves to anyone paying attention. One cannot transgress God’s law and prevail. Granted, sinners can and do make a mess of things and wreck the lives of others; but in the end, they know that it is their own lives they are destroying—which is then why they avenge themselves on the lives of others. Oh how deep the mystery of iniquity!
And that, in a nutshell, is why they hate us.
The only scapegoat who ever cleansed the conscience is Jesus Christ, and he is the Scapegoat they refuse to admit, unless they can remold and reshape him in their own image. But I also know that some of them will eventually admit him. Ultimately, though I pray for relief from the current situation which feels like a sword dangling above my head and the heads of my children and grandchildren, I must always remember to pray that God will be as merciful to these as He has been to me.
Yea, Lord! For the sake of their salvation and liberty from shame and self-loathing, for the sake of the liberty to live my faith in both the public and private squares in a free republic, and most of all for the sake of Your great Glory—forgive, cleanse, heal, release, and reconcile. For Thy sake, O Lord. Amen.