Open up a can of silence

My mind has been wandering the last few days; between Obama’s recent announcements regarding marriage and the LGBT community and the recent blowup in religious circles over Andy Stanley’s sermon where he didn’t label homosexuality a sin (he didn’t label it okay, either, for the record – but that wasn’t good enough for some).

There seems to be this tension in conservative churches where we need to immediately and loudly push back. Andy Stanley uses an illustration regarding a family where the father leaves the mother for another man, and the tensions that surround those relationships and the challenges that produces in the pursuit of faith and God, and he is blasted by Al Mohler for not clarifying that the father being gay was sin. It’s odd to me because I subscribe to the podcast feed and heard it before people reacted and it hit the news; the message wasn’t about sexuality. It would have hijacked it to another direction if Stanley had gone there. But it seems like there is some sort of fear that if he doesn’t clarify at every mention of same sex attraction that it’s a sin that somehow people will take it as an affirmation.

Here’s why that attitude strikes me odd. For years, one of the key points in the debate over whether the Bible frowns on, or affirms same sex relationships is Christ’s silence on the issue. On the one had, supporters would say His silence and lack of condemnation affirms same sex relationships. On the other side of interpretation, the point is made that silence does not equal permission – indeed, there are many issues that Christ was silent on. His focus was on connecting people to God and there were many social and moral issues of the day that He just never spoke about to our knowledge.

So, for the conservatives in the room, if Christ’s silence isn’t an endorsement of same sex marriage and/or LGBT relationships, why do we worry that our silence would be? If Christ could exist in the tension without being documented speaking about it, why are we so afraid that if we don’t speak up loudly at every mention, and keep affirming our positions and opinions, that the world might think the church is okay with it?

In recent surveys, the vast majority or respondents said the first word that came to mind regarding the church/Christians was ‘homophobic.’ Is that the reputation we’re called to? Is that the goal Christ had when He established His church? We are definitely being heard, but is it what the world actually needs to hear?

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