Words, Christians and Homosexuality pt. 2 (Lessons From Expert Feelers 3.13)

17 09 2010

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.

Did you know the Bible commands Christians to judge other Christians?

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.

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4 responses

17 09 2010
Meghan

Everything about that video made me feel terrible! But that’s not what I wanted to comment about.

This verse blew my mind recently: “The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law.” (James 4:11) I realized that whenever I was judging someone’s behavior with no ability or intention of restoring someone in love, I was saying that God’s law wasn’t doing its job well enough, that it needed me to add some weight or else people might get away with things.

The truth is, God can handle all this just fine. If He wants to use me to restore someone, I must walk with careful, loving, gentle steps. I must pursue holiness in my own life and family and let everyone else be.

18 09 2010
AH

“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.”

I think that it is indeed SO important not to compromise one’s beliefs for fear of offending those who disagree! I think Jennifer is doing a very good job of that! We are indeed all in this Church together, and it will be a long time before we are all on the same page on this issue (if it ever happens)… in the meantime we continue to “speak the Truth in love”… Truth is… God loves Jennifer Knapp… He even loves Fred Phelps (I know… I don’t get it either)… and I trust Him entirely to sort these things out…

I am very thankful to Jennifer that she has the bravery to not live as though her life is a private affair… God bless her for providing advocacy and community to those so often left on the fringes of the Church! I think God did a wonderful thing when He made Jennifer Knapp! I pray that many hearts are healed by her courage and her love of our wonderful God!

28 11 2010
mikey

Hey Tim, I’m trying to learn more about what “courageous speech” looks like. Can we tell it from the outside or can only the person who’s speaking and God know if it’s courageous or not? Both Jennifer and the pastor were speaking boldly/loudly, but was either courageous? Can we know? Do you have thoughts on that interaction?

11 12 2010
Tim Courtois

C.S. Lewis said in Mere Christianity:

“Can we be quite certain how we should have behaved if we had been saddled with the psychological outfit, and then with the bad upbringing, and then with the power, say, of Himmler? That is why Christians are told not to judge. We see only the results which a man’s choices make out of his raw material. But God does not judge him on the raw material at all, but on what he has done with it. Most of the man’s psychological makeup is probably due to his body; when his body dies all that will fall off him, and the real central man, the thing that chose, that made the best or the worst out of this material, will stand naked. All sorts of nice things which we thought our own, but which were really due to a good digestion, will fall off some of us; all sorts of nasty things which were due to complexes or bad health will fall off others. We shall then, for the first time, see every one as he really was. There will be surprises.”

Though I think Lewis advocates a little too much body-soul dualism here, his point stands.

Similar to this: No, I don’t think we can *know* from the outside if it’s truly courageous speech or not. For all we know, both Jennifer Knapp and the pastor dude were speaking courageously and honoring God with their speech here. I think it’s rare that we can judge somebody’s heart. We *are* called to make assessments about some actions, but my guess is that the amount we can know about what is and isn’t honoring to God is pretty small…

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