Do I Really Have A Voice?

Do I Really Have A Voice?

1920 1280 Michael Thompson

Righteous indignation.

That is what many of my Christian friends call their reaction to the Supreme Court decision concerning same-sex marriage.

Heated debates are popping up in both traditional and social media forcing people to opposite sides in rancorous arguments about civil liberties, legal rights and traditional values.

Seems just about everyone is wading into the fray. Unfortunately, I see more indignation than righteousness in so much of this war of words.

I am more saddened by the debate than by the decision.

Full disclosure: I hold a traditional view of marriage. I believe it is an accurate Biblical expression of the Creator’s intention. No decision by any political or legal entity is going to alter that considered belief. Even compassion for my gay friends will not change what I believe God has revealed.

But I fear there is something far more valuable at risk in these contentious moments…something of more eternal import in play here.

God’s reputation.

Nothing tweaked Jesus’ emotion like the lives of those claiming to represent His Father creating a warped and distorted image for those who did not know Him.

Let’s be clear: Jesus was never afraid to speak His mind. Clearly. Bluntly. Even sharply. But Jesus took that tack almost exclusively with those who called themselves the people of God.

Why? Because through insensitive words, inflexible attitudes and inauthentic lives, their defensive campaigns to protect their perspective wreaked havoc on the Father’s reputation.

The people of God were causing those on the “outside” to see a picture of God that did not accurately reflect who He was. Not by the truth they were espousing, but by the inconsistency they were expressing.

They were making God look bad. That always ticks Jesus off.

So I am asking myself some hard questions before opening my mouth in this debate.

Have I taken the time and invested the emotional capital to become sincere friends with a gay individual? Have I served them, loved them, sacrificed for them, talked to them, listened to them…to the degree that I have full understanding of their hearts? If I haven’t, then do I really have a voice to speak into the broader issue?

Have I lived beyond rhetoric and demonstrated through imaginative and devoted love a marriage that reveals the passion Jesus demonstrated on the cross? Have I personally displayed the ultimate surrender of a life laid down for my spouse? If I haven’t, then do I really have a voice to speak about the value of traditional marriage?

I am not talking about compromise. I am calling for compassion. I am not advocating complicity. I am admitting complexity.

It is so easy to speak to masses, tweet opinions into cyberspace and rally Facebook friends to our side of a “cause”. It is much harder to sit face-to-face with a person with whom I may not agree and lovingly explore needs, desires, thoughts, ideas and wounds.

Judgment begins in the house of God.

Perhaps that is where we should begin too. Instead of pointing fingers at a “radical gay agenda” maybe we should first examine the compromised lifestyle, half-hearted commitment and inconsistent message that is too often our living reality in the church.

This isn’t about changing the truth. It is about living it.

We have to acknowledge that the truth is hard when applied in the real world. The role of God’s people is to stand in community and sacrifice to help people walk in that inconvenient truth.

  • When we say, “Don’t abort!” will we pay the price and adopt?
  • When we say “Stop living together until you are married!” will we open rooms in our own houses?
  • When we say “Break the power of addiction!” will we build therapeutic communities of healing?

This needs to get personal if it is to be moral. It needs to get close to home if it is to be from the heart.

It is important–even imperative–to speak the truth. But two things are essential in that speaking:

Humilityto understand and admit how my comprehension of truth is limited by my brokenness and my application of it is shaped by my background. This is what makes me believable.

Lovespeaking the truth in love means speaking in relationship. Face-to-face, not anonymously. From within committed relationship, not from oppositional defensiveness. This is what makes me authentic.

Lobbing theological bombs at people who have neither an intellectual understanding nor a personal experience of Jesus’ love is divisive and combative. Debate has its place, but it must be immersed in sustained prayer and authenticated by sacrificial love.

I am not arguing for silence. I simply believe it is better to have one real conversation with one real person about one real issue than to plaster simplistic answers on the impersonal billboards of social media.

If Jesus demonstrated anything it was that being full of grace and truth is best expressed incarnationally.

We must get the same dust in our sandals as those to whom we are trying to show the way. The most convincing and compelling argument is an engaged life where Jesus and His truth can be seen, heard and touched in the rawness of life as it is.

Until I have a deep and compassionate exchange about these conflicting values within the context of a loving and mutually respectful relationship, I am not sure I have earned a voice with which to speak.

It is not merely a correct understanding of morality that is at stake here. It is what people understand about God that is at risk. We need to be very careful to not screw up a person’s view of God in our attempts to defend Him.

It is very easy to be right and not be redemptive. And when I stop being redemptive I have distanced myself from the One called Redeemer.


 

Michael Thompson

Michael writes because he can’t help it. It is an obsession toward sanity; a way of making sense of his world. Framing ideas, forging thoughts and then forming them into words is both craft and compulsion for him. Growing up in a tight-knit pastor’s home and then spending 20 years of his professional life in teaching ministries, words have been his cocoon since he was a child. Over the past 14 years he has made his living in the marketplace—the wild world of Wall Street. Converging the contrasting realms of church and commerce has given him a unique perspective. It has also birthed an unquenchable passion: to see life as it is transformed into life as it should be.

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10 Comments
  • Robert Alan Rife June 29, 2015 at 11:40 am

    Friend, as a fellow ALTARWORK contributor and brother in the Way I am so heartened by this piece. I hold to a “progressive” view (for lack of a better term) of this matter but have been disheartened by equal parts gloating among progressives and whining among conservatives on the SCOTUS ruling. Neither is doing any good to the image of God in us, the Gospel of Christ, or the PR of the Church. This thoughtfully constructed and well-reasoned post is a breath of fresh air in an otherwise pungent Christian culture war.

    Thank you!

    • Michael Thompson June 30, 2015 at 12:40 pm

      Thank you for your affirmation. I feel in no way an expert, just offering some perspective for hope and help. Blessings!

  • Thank you for saying what I have been unable to articulate. My heart has been burdened with this Gay vs Christian debate. We are all God’s children, formed in our mother’s wombs by God-He knows each of us and the purpose for which He designed us. We all have a place in our hearts and souls for God; we all need and crave the love and grace of Jesus. We, as Christ followers are to draw others -all others- to Jesus with love and compassion. He did not call us to hate and reject but to love and welcome all. Thank you!

  • Unfortunately, you’ve joined the fray of those who you talk down to. Your comments are off the mark and appear to be geared toward generating praise.

    I liken your stance to drinking with drunks at a bar, stating that it’s “OK to love the sinner, hate the sin.” You point fingers at everyone but yourself and use slim, twisted interpretations of what you think Our Lord said and how he acted.

    We must not condone the abominations we are forced to endure. This statement will be more poignant when churches are stripped of their tax-exempt status and church “leaders” will take stances like yours.

    I don’t agree with your statements as they don’t reflect a believer’s perspective. And I’m saddened that you have a voice that may lead others astray.

    • Michael Thompson June 30, 2015 at 12:37 pm

      Phil, I appreciate your passion and position. These are difficult issues. While I take exception to your judgment as to my status as a Believer, I certainly understand the struggle with this (and other) painful cultural and societal issues. Navigating this world as a follower of Jesus is a constant practice in the art of repentance and a continual evaluation of lifestyle allegiance. Thanks for taking the time to read and respond to my simple thoughts. In Him.

  • Phil, thank you for checking out ALTARWORK and weighing in on this divisive topic. The beauty of expression is that, through it, we can all see little pieces of every edge of a debate. ALTARWORK is not a political magazine, but we are delighted to publish this post because of the true nature of it. I don’t think Michael ‘talks down’ to anyone here. In fact, I think he is actively trying to build people up. If they are ‘geared for generating praise’, then the gear is towards praise for Jesus. There is no self-indulgence in these words. As believers, we all are entitled to our own perspectives and interpretations. Christians have fought over the Bible since its inception. The fact that you think Michael’s interpretations are ‘twisted’ only accentuate this fact. And your assertion that his statements don’t reflect a believer’s perspective call to action his very point. We are not the ones to judge. But, we also don’t have to condone abominations, either. Michael is simply trying to counter all of the angry, banal, uninformed, and purely emotional tirades that have flooded the media since last week’s ruling. I’m glad you connected with us, though! We aim to praise Jesus through the creativity of expression. We have absolutely no affiliation to any particular set of political beliefs. Blessings!

  • Michael Thompson June 30, 2015 at 12:39 pm

    Thanks Jackie! Bless you and your sacrificial work.

  • AMEN! Thank you so much for diving into the muddy waters of how we communicate and how love, compassion, and grace are so intertwined. Living a God-filled life for me is more about accepting my own sinfulness and showing gratitude and humility in the face of the amazing grace we’ve been given, rather than checking off a list of political positions. Thank you for putting eloquence to a conversation that needs to be had more often!

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