Taking the Punches

The recent remarks by Dan Cathy, president of Chick-fil-A have caused a firestorm in the last week and a half, followed by Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day, spearheaded by Mike Huckabee. Of course, this just stoked the fire. I’m not interested in discussing the merits of such a day. There are thoughtful Christians on both sides of the aisle (here’s Matthew Paul Turner’s take, and JP Moreland’s rebuttal).

punch
If you read those pieces, they both agree on one thing. It’s important for Christians to be loving. Of course, they also disagree on what that love looks like. Speaking in generalities, MPT advocates an accepting love, Moreland one that’s willing to confront from conviction. Yet, a serious question still remains – if we confess that we, as Christians, do love the homosexual community, how do we show this?

At the beginning of any discussion, is language. It drives the way we view one another, and can quickly affect the direction dialogue takes. When it comes to the way we, as Christians, interact with the homosexual community and others, Jesus models the way to show love.

If you’ve followed the discussion at all, you’ve most likely heard words such as “bigot” and “intolerant” thrown about. They are generally lobbed, initially, at the Christian community. It is not long, however, before Christians, “turn to the dictionary” and claim that by not being tolerant of their views, the others are actually being bigots. It’s essentially a linguistic defense mechanism that immediately undermines the possibility of dialogue.

Love is hard to find when both sides are calling each other bigots.

Consider how Jesus portrayed love. Certainly, his love for humanity reached its climax on the cross. Yet even before that, his life was not about giving an extensive, and rational self-defense. One need only read his exchange with Pilate to realize this was not a man trying to get off the hook. Furthermore, “when he was reviled, he did not revile in return” (1 Peter 2:23). It is this Jesus who is to be the Christian’s example.

Why don’t we put down the dictionaries, and take some punches? It’s how Jesus showed his love for us. Certainly we cannot claim the innocence of Christ. Too many of us have alienated others to an extreme extent in the name of conviction. But perhaps if we allow ourselves to be reviled, others will begin to believe that we are more interested in loving them than in providing our own self-defense.

Christians who don’t have a desperate need to defend themselves are much easier to dialogue with, I suspect. Of course, we do need to differentiate between defending ourselves and defending God’s Word, but too often I fear we get preoccupied with the former while claiming the latter.

Let’s follow Jesus in this. Let’s stop throwing back the language of intolerance and bigotry, take the punches, and show we really do love. It won’t fix the problem, but it’s a start.

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5 thoughts on “Taking the Punches

  1. I don’t think Jesus ever taught anything about loving communities. He taught loving individuals. Christian love for an individual who experiences same-sex attraction is required of us as certainly as it is for individuals with any other characteristic that makes them different from us. That would include respecting their need for civil treatment, jobs, and housing. If they ask us, it also includes telling them the truth as we understand it about God’s laws regarding sexual behavior.

    1. Agreed. But individuals also associate themselves with social groups – communities. The result is that how we interact with those social groups affects the individual. So in the greater discussion, I think that Christian love for the individual also requires loving the community, to an extent. I’m not advocating an “acceptance love” but we do need to take a close look at how we should love individuals through the community.

      Thanks for the thought, it raises a helpful distinction.

  2. Great post, I rarely comment but this one made me. My question is, how does an imperfect group call another imperfect group a bigot? The two groups must converge on the real issue at hand (be it the sanctity of marriage, production of human life, civil rights, chastity or charity to name a few). I’m going with you: The real issue is love… and love hurts! If it didn’t it wouldn’t be worth it. So, to both sides I say, ask God for the gift of suffering and see if you can handle it, because THAT’S love.

    1. I can only imagine what it would look like if two groups were willing to suffer for each other because of love. Sounds like world-changing stuff. Sounds like Jesus dying for sinners. I pray God graces us with that kind of love. Thanks for the thought TJ!

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