How Should Christians Respond to Controversy?

How Should Christians Respond to Controversy?
Truth (Photo credit: d4vidbruce)

Reaction to the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial has shown that some Christians are confused about how to respond to a controversial issue, especially one that is highly charged emotionally. Since the verdict, I’ve seen some high-profile, otherwise rational, deliberative Christian thinkers make statements that range from unhelpful to flat out untrue.

While I’m sure they were well intentioned, we must remember that having good intentions is not the same thing as being right. We have no problem seeing that where theology is concerned but it sometimes goes out the window when dealing with social or political issues.

Part of the problem is that Christians don’t like controversy so our first instinct is often to make it go away. We are, after all, called to be peacemakers. However, that does not mean at any cost.

Phil Cooke in a post called Five Non-Christian Habits Christians Need to Learn says this:

Speaking the truth invariably creates conflict because someone won’t like it. So we have a choice – either stand up or shrink back. We don’t have to be jerks or control freaks. But there are times when we do have to be bold.

So what should this look like with a high profile, controversial issue like the verdict in the Zimmerman trial?

  1. Don’t take the story at face value. We must do our best to find the truth before making public statements (Proverbs 18:17). If we bear false witness against someone because we’ve simply repeated the talking points of the media or special interest groups rather than forming an opinion based on the facts, we’ve sinned against that person the same as if we’d chosen to slander them deliberately.
  2. Remember that all points of view are not valid and deserving of a response. Sometimes Christians think they should always seek to reconcile two opposing parties. While we are to be about reconciliation, that is not at the expense of truth.  A claim of wrong is not proof of wrong, especially in the absence of any corroborating facts (Deut. 19:15). If it’s necessary to downplay or compromise truth in order to reconcile, it’s not reconciliation the other party seeks but validation of their viewpoint.
  3. Similarly, we do not always have an obligation to “see both sides” –  if by that we mean that both sides represent equally legitimate points of view. They don’t always. We should certainly seek to understand the other side’s position but if their position (or ours) is based on lies, misrepresentations or half-truths, we should say so unapologetically. We should then point people to the truth, not do handstands to find a way to reconcile truth with untruth, something the Bible tells us is not possible (II Corinthians 6:14).
  4. A person or group’s past experiences, no matter how difficult, do not give them permission to lie, believe lies or repeat lies. Past experiences may explain why someone is reacting as they are but we are under no obligation to validate their reaction if it is contrary to the truth simply because of their past experiences.

In short, Christians are to speak truth. Certainly in love, but truth nonetheless. Some truths are difficult for people to hear. No matter how they are shared offense will be taken.  We should share them anyway. If we’re unwilling to do so, we should stay out of the discussion.

Roundup of Stories On The Gosnell Horror

Roundup of Stories on the Gosnell Horror
Buchenwald Corpses 07511 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Much has been written recently about the goings on in the blood spattered house of horror known as The Women’s Medical Society run by “Doctor” Josef Mengele Kermit Gosnell in the city of Phillidelphia.

Here are some I think are particularly insightful:

Gary DeMar points out the contrast between the way Kermit Gosnell has been treated in the media as opposed to Michael Vick: If Baby Killer Kermit Gosnell Had Been Dog Killer Michael Vick.

Douglas Wilson notes that what Kermit Gosnell was doing to babies outside the womb is no different than what other abortionists do to them while either partially or fully inside the womb: Our Gosnell Gulag. 

Though not addressing the Gosnell case specifically, Jack Minor writes about the efforts of those in the abortion industry to protect child rapists: Why are Rape Charges Missing in Child Sex-Abuse Cases?

An editorial in “Investors Business Daily” argues that “a squirming infant on a table outside the mother’s womb is as worthy of protection from harm as children in classrooms in a school in Connecticut:” Newtown In The Clinic: Media Ignore The Gosnell Trial

Finally, even “The Atlantic,” wonders why this is not a front page story: Why Dr. Kermit Gosnell’s Trial Should Be a Front-Page Story.

We can no longer say we didn’t know. That we had no idea what that smoke drifting up from the ovens in the camps each day meant. The curtain has been pulled back. I pray the Lord will use this case to open the eyes of this nation to the carnage and horror that has been happening right under our noses, and with our approval, for for 40 years and that we will finally say “enough.”

Roundup of This Week’s Same-Sex Marriage Discussion

Roundup of this week's same-sex marriage discussion

The beginning of arguments before the Supreme Court regarding same-sex marriage has produced a firestorm of commentary this week. The social networks are awash with it as well as the blogosphere.  Here are some of the best from a Christian perspective:

Joe Carter asks: When Did Idolatry Become Compatible With Christianity?

Voddie Baucham reiterates that: Gay Is Not the New Black.

And, Kevin DeYoung explains: Why the Arguments for Gay Marriage are Persuasive.

Boy Scouts’ Compromise Happened Long Ago

Boy Scout's Compromise Happened Long Ago

There has been a lot of hand-wringing lately among social conservatives and evangelical Christian groups over the possible (I think highly likely) capitulation of the Boy Scouts of America to the the homosexual lobby and their allies. In very short order, something the Scouts had stood firm on for years has become negotiable.

The recent trial balloon floated by the Boy Scouts to appease these groups is to allow local Scouting organizations to decide whether or not openly homosexual leaders and scouts should be admitted. In other words, abandon having a national policy on the matter and make it a local issue. This, of course, will not be enough. The homosexual lobby is never satisfied with half-measures. Any compromise will be seen as only the first step toward proactive endorsement of homosexuality by the organization – which will begin to be demanded before the ink is dry on any new policy.

How did it get to this point? As with most things, there are a number of contributing factors, not the least of which is the Scouts’ dependence upon corporate sponsors. Most of these corporations decided years ago it was easier (and cheaper) to give in to the homosexual lobby than risk their harassment as aided and abetted by the national media. In addition to monetary sponsorship, some of the board members of these companies are also board members of the BSA and are facing pressure to terminate their relationship with the Scouts or face a down-grade of their company’s “non-discrimination rating” by the self-appointed creators of such things. It’s the usual shake down scenario. Nice company you got there – be a shame if something happened to it.

But the root cause is much deeper. At some point in their history the Scouts decided to make who God  is a local decision. When my sons and I were involved in Scouts several years back, I attended leadership training on the religious achievements portion of the Cub Scout handbook. Though held at an ostensibly Christian church, the training made it clear god could be whoever the boys and their families thought he, she or it was. The god of Scouting is much like the god of Alcoholics Anonymous, a “higher power” that is whatever one wants it to be. Sure, you have to believe in god to be a Scout, you just don’t have to be too specific about it.

This brings us to the basis for morals. How can an organization that will not take a stand on the identity of God be expected to take a stand on specific moral issues? There is a direct connection between the law and the Law Giver. If you’re not really sure who the Law Giver is, how can you be sure whether a specific behavior is “morally straight” or not? I mean, maybe one of those obscure Norse gods is cool with homosexuality. Who knows?

In addition, why have Christians chosen this issue as the flash-point causing them to rethink involvement with the Scouts? Was it not already a bridge too far that the Scouts allow local groups to decide for themselves who god is? Is standing firm on homosexuality really more important than standing firm on God’s identity? It reminds me of all these Episcopal congregations trying to get the heck out of dodge over homosexual priests when they stuck around as the denomination systematically dismantled the authority of the Bible and the exclusivity of Christ for years on end. This is the last straw? One would think gutting the gospel message might have been a contender for that honor.

This May at their annual meeting, the BSA will make it’s decision. My prediction is they will cave. This will be bad news for the once venerable organization but perhaps good news for the gospel. Removing Jesus Christ from a cocktail of gods unified only by American Civil Religion and holding Him up in stark contrast to all other belief systems will have a far greater impact for the Kingdom than if the Scouts win this battle in service to a pantheon of lesser gods.