My social media feeds buzzed yesterday with the news of Louie Giglio withdrawing from praying at the President’s inauguration. Ed Stetzer provided statistics showing that Evangelical Americans are holding a minority position when it comes to homosexuality. Russell Moore’s blog warning of a state church went down for a brief while forcing it to be reposted on Desiring God. Much like the Chick-fil-a controversy in August, the debate regarding homosexuality is dominating headlines and drawing lines in the sands.
But that isn’t what saddens me.
Many will be bemoaning the displacement of Judeo-Christian values from our society. Others will debate the role of religion in the founding of our country and decry the removal of Christianity from the public square. Both sides will rally their troops and point fingers at the other side.
That disappoints me, but it isn’t what saddens me.
Our society is losing the ability to be connected to others who hold a differing view than us. Louie Giglio is doing amazing work raising awareness about, and fighting human trafficking and modern day slavery. It was for this reason that he was asked to deliver the benediction at the inauguration. He, the president and, I think it is safe to say, everyone agree on this issue. But because Giglio has differing beliefs about another issue, the ensuing controversy caused him to withdrawal from participating in the inauguration. Regardless about who you would like to point fingers at, this illustrates a massive inability our society has in accepting and being connected to people who don’t share all of our values. It is evidence of chronic immaturity and fear toward those different than us.
And that saddens me.
It saddens me that this exists within the church. I had a conversation with a pastor not long ago who had people leave his church because he voted differently than them in the election. Where is the “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus?” When we demand others share all of our values we are demanding they be Jew or Gentile or whatever label we want to use. In essence, it is a new circumcision. “In order to be accepted you must think like me.” Our ability to be with those who think differently than us has all but disappeared. And so people leave churches because of music, or where missions money is spent, or because they disagree with something the pastor has said.
And that saddens me.
It saddens me because Jesus last prayer was for unity. My denomination split in 1857 because of a disagreement about sending children to public schools or private schools and the use of hymns. Now, I get that sometimes disagreements run deep and parties must separate. Paul and Barnabas are Biblical examples of that. However, that doesn’t mean it should be the first thing we do. We should fight for unity. We should fight to find common ground. We should fight to stay relationally connected and unified. We should fight to see the good in people. We should fight to dialogue with real people rather than sling mud at straw-men. The reality is that not everyone agrees on everything. By forcing the “other” out we diminish the beautiful diversity that is the body of Christ.
You and I may not agree on this issue.
We probably disagree on a lot of issues.
And that is okay.
Unfortunately, it seems that it is not okay.
Our society is facing massive issues like poverty, racism, unemployment, debt, and healthcare. We will be unable to adequately solve them if we cannot sit in the same room and dialogue with people who don’t believe what we believe. Just look at the ineffectiveness of Congress to see how true that is. The danger is to point the finger. We have to see the log in our own eye. Or in other words, we have to take responsibility for the times we have made it unacceptable for someone to hold a differing belief.
Taking responsibility and allowing space for differing beliefs and values – now that’s maturity.