Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres has won lots of hearts and minds. And no wonder: she is charming, appealing, and instantly likeable. Research shows that Ellen is one of the most evident forces driving the debate over same sex marriage. Young Americans think, “I really like Ellen. But she practices lesbianism. And I don’t want to dislike her. So what’s really wrong with gay marriage, anyway?”
That’s one of the most troubling aspects of the cultural frenzy demanding that marriage be redefined to allow same sex partners to marry one another. The names of popular celebrities are tossed around glibly. Then there are those cute slogans like “Fix Marriage, not Gays!” But there is very little discussion of the most important questions and truths underlying this debate. For example, why should government be involved in regulating friendships? Marriage has always been the source of government interest because traditional marriage can lead to new lives- even when the couples involved think they are infertile or too old. Same sex friends- even best friends- can’t have children without intentionally enlisting outside agencies or adopting. Gay partners are not biologically like a man and a woman who are married.
But I’m really writing today just to clarify one idea in the discussion about our fondness for Ellen DeGeneres. You can believe that same sex attraction leads to sinful behavior and still like Ellen DeGeneres or any other gay person for that matter. God never tells his people to hate sinners or even lecture them endlessly. In 1 Corinthians 5, Paul actually clarifies a painful misunderstanding. The Christians in Corinth thought he had directed them to stay away from immoral people. Paul corrects this by explaining, “If that were the case, you’d have to stay away from everyone.” He had previously explained that they should avoid people who say they are Christians, but participate in lifestyle sin.
Christ was criticized because he dared to attend a dinner party at Matthew’s house with all kinds of notorious, unholy men and women present. He made his critics look foolish when he explained that it wouldn’t be practical for a doctor to spend all his time with healthy people. He had come to save sinners, so he had to love them and invest time in them. Followers of Christ in the 21st Century should follow his lead. On one hand, we should have a clear conviction of right and wrong, godly versus ungodly. But when those standards identify some people as “sinners,” it just means we must find ways to love them and hopefully reach them.
I hope lots of Christians love Ellen DeGeneres. I like her so much that I hope she meets a 14kt saint who can become a good friend and show her the love of Jesus. So lift up the Cross!