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"Religion, Politics, the Presidency: Commentary by a Mormon, an Evangelical, and an Orthodox Christian"

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We Are Not The Bad Guys

Posted by: John Schroeder at 08:00 am, January 12th 2013     —    1 Comment »

When enough people tell you you are wrong, or you are told often enough by a few people, or you are told at extreme volume, it is a natural response to begin to wonder if you are, in fact, wrong.  The malaise the surrounds religiously motivated politically active sorts reflects in part this natural response – particularly in light of the propositions that passed on same -sex marriage.  In true Alinskite fashion, the pro same–sex marriage forces are taking advantage of these victories to press their message, at louder volumes, with greater frequency, and with considerably more force.

The onslaught for those of us that disagree is burdensome to say the least.  We’re right, we have thousands of years of history  and hundreds of moral authorities to prove our point and yet we find ourselves being attacked for our very correctness.  Have we sinned in defense of our correctness, oh yes.  We have demonized and ostracized the weak and hurting which are decidedly unchristian responses.  (Think about that Alinskites.)  But the penance for those sins is NOT to fundamentally alter the organization of society.  Nor is it appropriate to deny the truth of the sinful nature of homosexual practice to purge ourselves of our own sinful tendencies.

And yet that seems to be happening:

A November 2012 survey of adults in the United States found 37 percent affirm a belief that homosexual behavior is a sin – a statistically significant change from a September 2011 LifeWay Research survey asking the same question. At that time, 44 percent answered, “Yes.”

The article blames this shift on Obama’s “evolution” on the matter.  Leadership matters.

However, for Obama’s leadership to matter this much on this issue is a very damning conclusion on the leadership of religion on matters moral.  Which is why I found this bit of advice troubling:

…John S. Dickerson. Dickerson’s new book The Great Evangelical Recession identifies six factors of decline in the American Church and offers six solutions for leaders.

[...]

1. Take God’s good deeds directly to the homosexual tribe in your life and community. Don’t wait for them to come to you.

2. Refuse to classify the homosexual tribe as some worse class of people. This is unbiblical and showcases poor theology.

3. As with any tribe, don’t focus on changing behavior. Focus on changing relationship to God through Christ.

4. Don’t be surprised when you are hated and misunderstood about this issue. You will be.

5. When you are hated or misunderstood, don’t defend yourself or other evangelicals with words. Instead, let your quiet good actions eclipse any accusations (1 Peter 2:12).

6. Keep on demonstrating God’s good-ness and unconditional love—to the homosexuals closest to you.

Most of that is pretty good advice, but that number 5 is a sure loser.  In the modern media era, not to defend yourself “with words” is to admit defeat.

Now, it is most true that it is deeds that lend the ring of truth to the words.  If love of the sinner is not evident in life of those that declare a sin, then the declaration has no authority.  But it must also be remembered that love is not permissive and it is not demonstrated by granting its object that object’s “deepest desire.”  A loving parent does not allow a child to stick their hand in a fire, no matter how much the child wants to.  When the child becomes an adult, the parent may no longer be able to stop the child from doing so, but if they stop reminding that adult child that such action will have disastrous consequences then they prove that they need the child’s love more than they love the child.

I think that is where we are in our public discourse.  The world is beating on us – hard.  We just want peace, and we do not want to be the bad guys.  Well, we are not the bad guys.   But peace we cannot have because those that disagree with us have chosen rhetorical war – it cannot be avoided.   Let’s face it, in war the enemy is always the bad guy – we may not be the bad guy but we cannot escape the label in the heat of battle.  If we remain quiet we lose.

Religious folk of all stripes need to reassert their leadership position on matters moral, and we must do so now before an offensive is no longer possible and any effort would be an invasion.  We are not yet strangers in our own land, but it is close, and those that disagree with us wish to make us think we are.  Do not let the attacks force you into cover.

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