A common response to immorality is to say about the sinner, "We just need to love them and accept them the way they are." This statement makes no sense to me. If you do love someone, and they are engaged in willful immorality, how can you possibly accept them the way they are?
If we believe that sin is destructive to the sinner, then we should have every desire to see it not happen.
Imagine a man named Tyler who suffers from substance abuse. To put it in layman's terms, he's a drunk. Perhaps something in his genetic makeup causes him to drink too much, or perhaps he is merely the victim of his own bad choices. Either way, he passes out drunk every night and drinks his breakfast the following morning.
Now, Tyler has two friends. The first one accepts him the way he is. He doesn't offer Tyler any help with his substance abuse problem because Tyler was born that way. He says, "I love Tyler and I accept him the way he is. We need to be more tolerant of his lifestyle choices and just love him. If we talk to him about his drinking, it will just drive him away."
The second friend disagrees. He says, "Tyler is on a path that leads to destruction. I am going to do everything I can to get him help because I love him."
The first friend will undoubtedly get along better with Tyler.
The second friend will likely be yelled at by Tyler with phrases like, "Who are you to judge me!?" and "I don't need your help! There's nothing wrong with me! I'm happy living this way."
Tyler may end up hating the second friend and loving the first. Yet,the first friend is an enabler. He is avoiding difficult conversations for the sake of maintaining their so called friendship. It is the second friend who is brave enough to face the name calling to make Tyler's life better.
The first friend shows love by accepting or ignoring Tyler's actions. The result is cowardice and indifference that only makes Tyler's situation worse. The second friend shows love by not accepting Tyler's actions and offering help. He gives Tyler a way out by confronting his sin.
The first friend spoke of love and showed none. The second friend showed love and risked backlash. Only the second friend really loved Tyler.
If you really love someone, you will confront their sinful behavior. You will seek to end their immoral lifestyle.
If you really love yourself, you will say nothing in the hope that the sinner will like you. Self-love can easily be masked as a love for someone else. True love faces the difficult conversations.
Interestingly, some make the argument that we should accept sinful behavior by referring to Jesus. Jesus showed great love for sinners. He let prostitutes touch him. He ate with swindlers. He talked with the woman at the well who jumped from sexual partner to sexual partner. Surely we should emulate His model and let people live however they want to.
Yet, read the text carefully. Jesus directly confronted the woman at the well for her sexual immorality (John 4:16-19). The swindlers He ate with gave up their sinful ways (Luke 19). The prostitute came to Him, not because she wanted acceptance, but because she needed forgiveness (Luke 7). Jesus tells people to stop sinning (John 5:14), and whey they are persistent in sin, His response is anything but accepting (John 2:13-16).
Jesus did not come to grant acceptance to sinners. He came to give us a way out of our sin. Like Tyler's second friend, He was met with hostility by those who did not want to change their lifestyle. Jesus chose painful love over comfortable acceptance. He took the harder road.
If you truly love someone, and they are willfully living in immorality, the most loving thing you can do is talk to them about it. The least loving thing you can do is accept them for who they are.