The Vatican recently released a report on the church's response to gay and lesbian individuals. The response by journalists was that this report was a "stunning shift," a "pastoral earthquake," "using strikingly open language," "would have been unthinkable a few years ago," and "revolutionary." So what did the report say to earn this celebratory approval? It emphasizes the importance of walking with people where they're at, looking for the good things that are present in their life, even while emphasizing the discipleship journey that walks them toward the teaching of the church about marriage, which they are emphasizing as unchanged. This is essentially the perspective for which I have advocated, costly discipleship, which walks compassionately with people and shows grace while continuing to hold to the ideal of marriage between a man and woman.
On Sunday, I received a vulgar, private message from someone I love who believes I am pompous and self-righteous, not representing Jesus' love at all, a hypocrite, condemning, unable to see that Jesus died for all people, petty, unreasonable, and medieval. I didn't repeat the vulgarity here, but you get the point. I'm quite sure I am many of the things on this list, but there are a few that I most assuredly am not. I am absolutely convinced that Jesus loves all people and died for all of us, and that I am at the front of the line in my need for his grace and forgiveness. Now, I want to make sure you understand something, I'm not complaining about the way I was treated, I am simply naming a reality that is there.
But why are there different, hyperbolic responses to essentially the same perspective? It is because celebration and shame are handed out based on the direction you move, not on the perspective you carry. In other words, celebration and shame are intentionally and strategically used to silence opposition and provide the appearance of an inevitable movement toward the affirmation of gay marriage. So if you are seen as working in even a small way against the movement, you must be stopped and labeled as one who hates. If you are seen as opening up to even a bit more grace, each micro-shift will become stunning, revolutionary, and open. Your polite acceptance into society is not based on what you believe, it is that you stay quiet and don't saying anything that would slow down the oncoming train. Activists for gay marriage have strategically used the church's commitment to being nice to move our culture as quickly as possible down the path of affirmation. So this strategy is essentially an exercise in hypocrisy, as those who claim the label of tolerance disseminate some of the most vocal, intolerant, intimidating rhetoric that is accepted within our social circles.
In today's moral climate, it's okay for you to privately believe whatever you want, but if you post something that goes against the current cultural wave, you will be labeled a hater. I think the church has let the intimidation keep it silent for too long. It is time to speak of welcome, love for all, and the beautiful gift of being "in Christ" and letting all our internal desires come under His lordship. So speak up. let your voice be heard. The world is dying to hear you.
-John M Troyer
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