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.
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.
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:
Humility–to 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.
Love—speaking 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.