In my last post, I referenced Derek Webb’s response to Fred Phelps’ famous hate-mongering. (Phelps is the “God hates fags” guy.)
On the opposite end of the spectrum from the “God hates fags” camp, we have Jennifer Knapp. Knapp is a well-known Christian musician who recently publicly acknowledged that she is gay. Here is a snippet of an interview on Larry King in which she responds to a pastor who publicly critiqued her decision to embrace a gay lifestyle:
My goal isn’t to delve completely into the debate about homosexuality. (I don’t actually think a blog is a very good place for such a debate.) But I believe it is possible to adhere to a moral code – and even proclaim belief in that moral code – without being hateful towards those who disagree.
We can all too easily fall into one of two errors: Some compromise their beliefs for fear of offending those who disagree; others proclaim their beliefs abusively, seeming to almost delight in the damage their words can cause. It is of the utmost importance for Christians who believe that same-sex relationships are immoral to find a way to stand on the ground between the Fred Phelps’s and the Jennifer Knapp’s of the world, speaking the truth in love to both of them.
As the Derek Webb video from my last post shows, courageous speech has to get very creative. It must not stray from the truth. It must paint a compelling picture of the beauty of the gospel. Some days it must challenge with bold – maybe even offensive – statements; other days it must woo with a gentle call.
Bold, courageous speech inspires, clarifies, draws, calls, offends, teaches, tells, whispers, shouts, tantalizes, inflames, comforts, heals, informs, connects, and, ultimately, shapes our lives.
And the world desperately needs a generation of articulators who will do all of these things for Jesus.
An addendum from the Bible (1 Corinthians 5:9-13):
About 2,000 years ago, there was a famous Christian leader named Paul. He had this to say about when and how we should speak into one another’s lives:
“What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?”
According to Paul, Christians are out of place when they judge non-Christians. But Christians have a responsibility to use WORDS to SPEAK into the lives of one another!
There is an increasingly popular belief that religion and lifestyle choices are a “private” matter, and it’s wrong for anybody else to critique them. If you are a non-Christian, you are free to hold onto this belief; and I advise you to memorize the above quotation so you can whip it out the next time a Christian judges you. (He’ll be like, “Ohhhh snap!”)
But if you want to call yourself a Christ-follower, this is not a belief that you can hold onto. In the words of C.S. Lewis, if you want to claim allegiance to Christ, “There are no private affairs”. To say, “I follow Christ” is to say, “I want to be a member of his Body, part of his family.”
I believe that the kind of vulnerable and interdependent relationships that God calls us to are beautiful, and it is a privilege to have loved ones call you out on your “junk”. That’s why I love the Church that Jesus instituted and consider it a great privilege to be a part of it.