So, Rachel Held Evans posted this about the current state of discourse.
And I really liked it.
Because sometimes, I think we are going about this all wrong.
I spent a lot of time being against things when I was younger. I engaged in the culture war between evangelicalism and, well, almost everyone else, with that particular zeal that can only come from being a teenaged extrovert in the Bible belt who has no clue what other people’s facial expressions mean.
When we go to take on the role of someone else’s conscience we need to have a care. It is so easy to get in the way of the Holy Spirit’s work (Holy Spirit is a fancy Christianese way of saying that God is still in the world with us and is still capable of leading each of us into truth–there’s quite a bit more to it than that, but that will do for now). When we take on the role of Sole Provider of Truth for others, we forget that they can have a direct line to God also. For example, if my neighbor is learning that God is loving and kind, and then I come in and proclaim my limited understanding of truth in her face as though it’s the only thing that matters, I dishonor the image of God in her person, set her back, or even send her off the wrong way if I am not very careful.
I think about it this way:
God created all of us to be one big, beautiful reflection of the Divine nature. But, as the Bible or even the most casual observation tells us, the world is not a perfect place. The world is broken, the reflection shattered. We all carry a shard of truth-reflection inside of us, and it’s beautiful. Sometimes we find others whose edges match with ours for a second, and we can get a little bigger picture of who God is from that. It’s a wonderful thing. And sometimes, when we are not careful, our jagged edges run across our brothers and sisters, cutting them and making it harder for them to glimpse what they were reflecting before we came along. I think that the redemptive work of God is to lovingly fit the whole thing back together, one piece at a time.
We are not always mindful of our jagged edges. There are moments when we are careful; when we are trying very hard. Like this, this, and more personally for me, this. But it is a long process and we need to keep going.Yes, Jesus sometimes gave lifestyle ultimatums. No, I don’t think that means we are required to do so in every situation, especially if we are going to do it without paying close attention to the way in which he did it (I’ll give you a hint: it didn’t involve protest signs or self-righteous internet posts, but it did involve getting rid of all the stone-throwers before having any sort of conversation). Yes, we should seek vigorously after what is true. No, we should not be dismissing every passage we don’t like in the Bible as a failure of interpretation. The thing that’s at issue here for me is not the actual “final” decision about whether or not homosexuality is sinful. I really and truly trust God to be in conversation with individual people about that in a more effective way than anything I could ever write on a sign, or a blog, or my own heart. As we seek to live out the Truth in word and deed we can and should still respect other people’s free will and ability to connect with God directly about their own sin. If we can’t have a conversation with someone while keeping those things in mind, then it’s possible we are not ready to have the conversation at all.