“Tolerance isn’t about not having beliefs. It’s about how your beliefs lead you to treat people who disagree with you.” —Tim Keller
The way we talk about today’s toughest issues will say a lot about our view of the Gospel, the church and our mission in the world.
Because our words shape our culture.
I’m grieved by the way the church reacts to hot-button issues in our country at times—pushing forward in anger and unbridled passion with little thought for the Gospel. I’m guilty too. I’ve posted knee-jerk reactions on Facebook, gossiped about people who don’t think like I do and carried my arrogant views around like a Boy Scout badge.
I’m not proud of it.
However, I’m desperately trying to craft a humble response—praying and thinking deeply—about some of the biggest issues in our culture. These issues are in the news every single day and the way we respond to them matters deeply.
I’ve put together a short primer on four major issues—with what I think is a common dangerous response and a helpful one. The dangerous response is the extreme version, but it gets the point across. You’ve probably heard similar versions from people in your church (or on social media). I’ve made an effort to craft a healthy response as well. It’s not meant to serve as a defense of the issue, but a quick sound bite that captures the compassion, grace and gospel-focused intelligence I believe is necessary for the church to engage the world. It’s just a brief discussion starter to help church leaders create a conversation around these issues.
Feel free to add your helpful response to one of these issues in the comment section below—even if you disagree.
Gun RightsDangerous response:
I’ve got my rights and no one can take them away (waving gun like a flag). Don’t tell me what to do. Owning a gun is my American right! You’ll have to pry this gun from my cold dead hands before you get it.
Our culture has a problem with violence, and guns are part of that problem. We should find ways to limit gun ownership based on mental health and safety concerns while allowing gun ownership for responsible individuals. Getting rid of guns is not the answer to all the violence, but if it reduces the occurrence of school shootings that’s a positive move in the right direction.
Same-Sex MarriageDangerous Response:
Homosexuals are wicked and dangerous and should be stoned! They’re ruining our country and marriage. They have one agenda and that’s to tear down the church.
The Bible is clear when it comes to homosexuality. It’s a sin. The Bible is the reason why I don’t support same-sex marriage. The Gospel is the answer to this issue—not hate, angry Facebook statuses or protests. Also, many people who are living this lifestyle are compassionate and loving people who need Jesus, just like me. I pray and confess my own sin and hypocrisy just as often as I pray for people in the homosexual lifestyle to find Jesus. When it comes down to it—we all need the Gospel.
I’m not a racist! All this talk about racism is silly. Slavery was banned decades ago. Why can’t everyone just get over it?
Racism is real. I may not feel the effects, but many people live with a different reality than the one I’m aware of. I am praying for peace in my city and in our country because it’s still fractured by sin. One of the results of sin is pride, which leads to racism, which leads to anger, at times violence, and brokenness. The answer to racism is the Gospel. We need the church to be light in our cities, to shine with the brilliance and love of Jesus regardless of color, socioeconomic background or gender.
Anyone who has an abortion is a murderer! If you believe in a woman’s right to choose—you’re as good as the devil! If you’re a feminist, you’re a liberal baby killer and I want nothing to do with you.
The fact that our country approves of abortion grieves me like nothing else. Also, the fact that unwed mothers are encouraged to get rid of a life for convenience is a tragedy. I’m praying for this senseless killing to stop and laws to be radically changed. I’m praying for the church to stand in the gap and provide the care, compassion and community young mothers need—as they choose life. I’m also working to shine a light on adoption—praying the church will show up during this crisis. No, I don’t believe in a woman’s right to choose between life and death, because I believe her body is God’s, not her own, and her baby is made in the image of God. I understand the fact that that sounds ridiculous to someone who wants to live autonomous from God’s Word, but I still believe it with all of my heart. Also, I have great compassion for women who’ve gone through an abortion. I believe Christ desires to extend them grace, healing and hope.
How do you talk about these issues? I’d love to hear your perspective.