I am sure that when you read the title of this post, you filled in the blank with:
- or beer
Sure, there are individuals who might indeed warrant such descriptors, but might we be better served by filling in the blank with “faithfulness, conviction and grace?”
As you some of you know, this week I am attending the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) in Pittsburgh. There will be many topics towards which we will direct our energy and time, but the debate concerning the definition of marriage will be right there at the top of the list. It is no secret that I am supportive of marriage equality as a civil right. I am also supportive of my particular part of the Christian world, the Presbyterian Church (USA) also recognizing same-gender marriage as an faithful symbol and expression of the love between two people.
What I have noticed about the debate between the most passionate of both sides is the preponderance of two distinct arguments and assumptions about the other. Liberals say about conservatives, “They are driven by fear and a lack of awareness.” Conservatives say about liberals, “They have strayed from the Word of God and are capitulating to culture.”
If we are going to get anywhere, we have to drop these arguments, because I believe they are not, as a larger narrative, true.
Liberals must understand that there many conservatives who have not arrived at their position about homosexuality and marriage out of fear, but out of a deep conviction about and understanding of God’s truth. Likewise, conservatives must understand that there are many liberals who have not arrived at their position about homosexuality and marriage out of a need to satisfy cultural trends, but out of a deep conviction about and understanding of God’s truth.
Lobbing accusations about the motivations of others is fruitless and is only good for adding to our own cache with those with whom we already agree. Because these accusations can not be defended or disproved, we must give the benefit of the doubt to the other that each has been and is being faithful to God, guided by Scripture and open to the movement of the Holy Spirit and not driven by fear, ignorance and cultural relevancy.
As one who has lived in disagreement with my church family for decades, I do believe we can find ways to live together in disagreement. Should all involved truly yearn for that place to be found, it cannot be built on reckless, destructive and vindictive assumptions of the other. We will only find that place of healthy tension that disagreement brings if it is built on the common ground of faithfulness, conviction and grace.
That’s my hope and I’m sticking to it. Peace be with you.