Let’s talk about something that all Christians know a thing or two about – salvation. Salvation is what we all strive for. Depending on your denomination, we live our lives attending church and listening to the gospel, and then when we reach the age of accountability we hit our knees in church one day and pray the Sinner’s Prayer and ask God into our hearts. We’re dipped into the water and washed in the blood of Jesus and our sins are swept away and we spend the rest of our lives following the tenants of the Bible so that we can go to Heaven when we die. And if we’re really serious about this salvation thing, if we really love our fellow man like the Bible tells us we must, then we spend a fair amount of time seeking out those sinners who have yet to see the error of their ways and we try to bring them into the light. We try to get them to renounce their sinful ways so that they, too, can be washed in the blood of Jesus and secure for themselves a place in Heaven.
That all seems so pure and clean and amazing, doesn’t it? But there’s just one problem. One wrench in the cog of the salvation machine. Who gets to decide another person’s salvation?
For example, say that before a man is baptized and saved, he looks at pornography on a fairly regular basis. Then in church on Sundays he begins to feel guilty about that, like it’s not something he should be doing, so he makes an effort to stop but it still isn’t enough; he still feels dirty and unclean about it and it eats at him. So one Sunday he feels particularly called and he gets up in front of the congregation and kneels before that pew and he asks Jesus into his heart. A few weeks later he gets baptized and the sin he felt he was committing by looking at that porn is gone and he feels clean again. And the church’s teachings tell him that the transgressions he committed before his baptism are forgiven. But he can’t stay away from the porn for long and eventually he goes back to it.
Does that mean that his baptism is null and void because he went back and sinned again after he was baptized? Not according to the church. According to most church doctrine, that’s why Jesus was crucified – to forgive us when we fall. When we inevitably sin again. The church doesn’t teach that we have to be baptized every week or once a year or that we have to have a once-a-decade dunking to wipe the slate clean again because that’s what Jesus’ death was for.
And that brings us to the wrench. Remember the wrench we mentioned before? The one grinding up the cogs that make the church’s salvation machine run so smoothly? Who gets to decide another person’s salvation?
If you knew that the person sitting in the pew next to you on Sunday was now riding the pornography wagon again would you tell him he was going to go to Hell when he dies? Would you feel the need to save his soul? Probably not. And why would that be? Because he’s been baptized? Because he’s sitting in that pew every week and listening to the sermons? Because you were a witness to his salvation?
Now what would your answers to those same questions be if that man sitting next to you was gay? If you knew that the person sitting in the pew next to you on Sunday was gay would you tell him he was going to go to Hell when he dies? Would you feel the need to try to save his soul?
What if the gay man was baptized? Would his sin not have been washed away just like that of the man who watched pornography and masturbated? Yes, you say, but he continued in his sin after his baptism so his soul is still doomed to Hell. Sure, but did the straight man not also continue to sin after his baptism when he continued to watch porn? So why is the gay man’s sin worse than the straight man’s sin? Why do you feel comfortable in continuing to condemn the gay man to Hell when he has supposedly been saved in the same way that the straight man has been?
After all, the Bible also considers pornography a sin (Matthew 5:28, James 1:14-15). Looking at this, it would appear that some Christians are saying that Jesus’ death only covered some of the things listed as sins in the Bible and that they’ve decided that being gay isn’t one of them.
So again I ask, who gets to decide another person’s salvation?
The bottom line is that it is not our place as lowly humans to decide who gets into Heaven and who doesn’t. We are not the ones guarding the Pearly Gates. We are not the gatekeepers. And we do not get to stand in judgment of our fellow man, overlooking the sins that we deem “less” while condemning those we deem “unforgivable”.
So the answer to the question that I’ve asked here is that we are not the ones who get to decide when another person is saved; when they are born-again. Only God gets to decide that and none of us are God. None of us are worthy to judge the heart of another and what is in the hearts of others is the only thing that matters when the end comes.
We have our commands. We are told to love our neighbor as ourselves. We are told not to judge. So perhaps we, as Christians, should spend less time worrying about the souls of others and spend more time worrying about what lies in our own hearts.
“…Jesus thought for a moment and then replied, “He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone…”” ~John 8:7