Sometimes these things just write themselves. (Note: I didn’t say write themselves well. I’m in a hurry, so bear with me.)
Here’s the thing: there are a lot of blog posts and articles being passed around that acknowledge that the Bible teaches that only a life-long monogamous relationship between a man and woman can be correctly called marriage (the reasons for which I wrote up at length here, with references), but all seem to reach the same conclusion: there are some ignorant Christians (or “Christians,” let’s be honest) who can’t engage in that discussion civilly, for various possible reasons, therefore Christians in general shouldn’t engage in that discussion at all.
Pardon my language, but horsehockey.
I was going to go about my day today and do my p90x and give the dogs a bath and go to Chick-fil-A for lunch (now dinner) to support freedom of speech, freedom to express religious beliefs, free markets and property rights, and because I’m always looking for an excuse for Chick-fil-A, and maybe take a picture of my cup for twitter, and not blog. Like I said, I’ve already laid out exactly what I believe on the subject and why I believe it (and I believe in a way that doesn’t attack anyone or inspire violence in individuals, though I’ve been accused of that), so I didn’t want to beat aforementioned horse.
But I think there’s some bad teaching being mixed in with the good intentions. And bad teaching needs to be confronted. That’s what Jesus spent a lot of his time doing, after all – correcting man-made distortions of God’s Word.
It seems like what a lot of this comes back to is the concept that, since some people are incapable of speaking the truth in love (and we’ll come back to that concept later), then we should just stop speaking the truth at all. Now, I’m sure that very few people would consciously acknowledge that they agree with that. But when I see a self-described Christian say, with a tender heart, “I don’t like seeing all this animosity, it’s better if we just love on people and try and ‘accept them to Jesus’ rather than stand and point judgmental fingers at them,” I have to wonder if they really mean what they are saying.
Let me start by saying, I agree with the attitude behind that statement. You can’t argue someone into a changed heart. And I don’t like arguments. No, really, I don’t. If you knew me in person, you would know that I don’t run toward fights. I try to “walk toward the fire,” as a brilliant man once said, and sometimes that involves fighting. But, to quote John MacArthur, “No one who is mentally or spiritually healthy enjoys conflict for conflict’s sake.”
But we also have to remember that the Bible tells us to “contend earnestly for the faith.” (Jude) That means we’re supposed to be passionately proactive in our defense of truth, not passive. And that’s what Jesus did. Jesus was and is love, truth, grace and peace. But He also brought the fire when the occasion called for it. He chased people out of the temple cracking a whip over their heads. Gee, that’s not very “loving,” is it? And I don’t think he patted a Pharisee on the shoulder and said, “Hey man, I know we’ve got some differences of opinion, but let’s get together and discuss it over coffee sometime, because I think we could find some common ground to bond over, and agree to disagree about the other things.” (He called them a bunch of poisonous snakes and whitewashed tombs filled with dead bones, in case you aren’t aware. Just as one example.)
Even the way Jesus dealt with the woman at the well (John 4) would not be considered loving at all by today’s standards. I mean, think about it. Here’s a woman just going about her day, wanting to get her household water, probably already hot and thirsty, and what does he do? He holds her up by starting a theological discussion.
And then when she responds and engages in that discussion, what does Jesus say to her? “I just want you to know that God loves you and He’s got a wonderful plan for your life, and whatever mistakes you’ve made in the past – and I’m not judging those mistakes because everyone makes mistakes, and your mistakes are no worse than anyone else’s mistakes – you can put them behind you and move on to a new, fulfilling life by building a relationship with God.”
Nope. First Jesus kind of tricks her into admitting she’s shacking up with her boyfriend, and then says, “Yeah, I know. And this is fella number 6, isn’t it?” Geez. Talk about judgmental. Why even go into that? Why not just stick to the happy stuff, telling her that He was the Messiah and that one day all people will be able to worship together equally? Why even go into her personal life? Kind of invasive, isn’t it?
Here’s the thing: Jesus fed a lot of hungry people with physical bread and fish. He loved on children and healed sick, dying and dead people. At the same time, He called down some serious curses on hypocrites and publicly revealed the secret sins of ordinary people. (That’s how they’re recorded in the Bible. There were witnesses.) For more, I highly recommend “The Jesus You Can’t Ignore,” by John MacArthur. One of the greatest books I’ve ever read. No hyperbole.
Obviously, I’m not saying you should go up to someone and be all, “I know what you did last summer.” But we can’t act like Jesus didn’t give us an example to follow when it comes to discussing uncomfortable truth. Jesus wasn’t afraid to do so. Neither should we be. We aren’t doing anyone any favors.
God didn’t call us to be ostriches who bury our heads in the sand whenever the World gets its panties in a twist about the Word of God. Consider John the Baptist, who wasn’t beheaded for preaching the Gospel. He was beheaded for speaking out against the immoral private life of a public official. He was put to death. For speaking out publicly against immoral behavior, when he really didn’t “have” to. John wasn’t asked in the middle of an interview with a major news outlet about his personal opinion about Herod’s private life. But he did it anyway, because the truth is the truth. And Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist.” Matt 11 If we ever feel the inclination to not engage the World on behalf of the Truth, we need to really stop and examine whether that is from God or from ourselves.
The second thing I want to discuss is another sentiment that’s been bandied around a lot recently by Christian bloggers. It goes along the lines of, “You’re wrong to talk about ‘XYZ sin’ because it’s a sin you don’t struggle with, when you don’t give the same attention to sins you do struggle with.”
That one makes me see red. The first half of that statement is incredibly arrogant and presumptuous. Really? You can see the innermost workings of every single person’s heart? You are completely familiar with every one of your reader’s pasts? Let me say bluntly: you have no idea what goes one in someone else’s heart and mind or background any more than I do. To make that assumption claims a kind of omniscience that I know you don’t have.
As for the second part of that sentence, I will admit that most people aren’t willing to sit and take an honest look at their own sinful struggles. On the other hand, when someone is talking about what the Bible calls sin, turning our attention onto the messenger rather than the message isn’t exactly fair or honest. There are no perfect people. None of us are worthy in and of ourselves to be God’s messengers, except for the fact that He has chosen us to be so. And if we will only let “perfect” people communicate what the Bible says, none of us would ever be able to speak.
Lastly, I just want to say this. I understand that not everyone is drawn to every cause. I get that. That’s why people are different. I’m not trying to convince anyone to eat Chick-fil-A for lunch today. (In fact, if you didn’t, that would be great – shorter wait for me! ;)) But remember that just because this cause – protecting our rights as Americans to free speech and free exercise of religion – isn’t your cause, it’s doesn’t mean it’s not a worthy cause just the same.
And at the very least, rather than see this as an opportunity to passively distance yourself from fellow believers – because, my goodness, you certainly aren’t one of those chicken sandwich people! – use this as an opportunity. Explore what the Word of God really says about any related topics, and share your findings with others. Contend earnestly for the faith.