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We are to speak the TRUTH in LOVE. When people see lots of TRUTH with litblog picstle love, they perceive judgmentalism. Lots of LOVE with little truth, they perceive enabling of bad behavior. This is true of all issues, not just sexual ones.

My main point from the outset of blogging has been that we have fixated on one sexual issue while ignoring all others. (Read the free download.) This has created the highly charged and polarized atmosphere around this one issue. The Duck Commander and defrocked dad have only fueled the fire.

The last blog piqued the interest of many moderates. Some took to Facebook with ideas. Others have called me, emailed or posted comments. A recurring question has been, “Will focusing on other issues of sexual brokenness really make any difference?”

Back in the 80’s Dr. Bob Lyon, one of my seminary professors, asked his classes, “Who is the most powerful person in Calcutta, India?” The answer was not a military officer, a government official or a crime figure. It was Mother Teresa. No one dared lay a hand on her.

As you may remember, in 1994 she spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast. Because of the bi-partisan atmosphere, speakers of the past avoided the controversial. Not so the Calcutta sister. She preached a scorching pro-life message on abortion. Noting the obvious displeasure of the Clintons, a reporter asked the President what he thought of her talk. His reply? “How can anyone argue with a life so well-lived?”

Through her years of selfless and grace-filled service among the poorest of the poor, the nun had earned enough street cred to declare a prophetic word to the most powerful people in the world. That same credibility, in fact, later led to cooperation with the Clintons. The nun and the First Lady joined hands to establish an adoption house in DC.

The Church generally lacks street cred. Our bickering over this one issue merely mirrors the division in the culture at large. They perceive we hate the sinner about as much as we hate the sin. It is also obvious to many that heterosexual brokenness abounds in the pews. Seeing the hypocrisy, some in the Church cry out, “Injustice!” Instead of mirroring our culture, we must model unity in the midst of our diversity, joining hands in compassionate ministry to the abused, addicted and averse, while holding in tension our unresolved differences.

In The Good Book, author Peter Gomes foresees continued strife and division over this one issue. Slavery, he states, was decided not by biblical exegesis, but by gunpowder and cannonballs. Really? Slug it out and winner takes all? Is that the only option?

There is a better way. Truth and love is the the way of the Gospel.

OK, I hear you. “Liberals and conservatives combining efforts on sexual issues? Is that even possible?” Yeah, I know. Crazy. About as crazy as a nun and a pro-choice politician working together.

More on the power of love to turn this boat around in the next blog. But for now, what do ya think? Can this approach work? What are the obstacles ahead?

  • Heather Escontrias

    That is an excellent point. A life well lived can pave the way for people to be able to speak on controversial issues. No one could doubt how much Mother Teresa cared about people. Let’s remove all doubt in our own lives as well. May it never be said we didn’t love others. I think it’s a great connection that you made here and I’m excited about seeing how we can find ways to respond with more love.

  • Rick Chrosniak

    Street cred comes when we start admitting our own brokenness, and realize that as we are throwing rocks at people (hey – didn’t the Pharisees want to do that to the woman caught in adultery?) we live in a house with glass walls. Consider 1 John 1:8 which states, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us (KJV).

    It’s a hard sell, because it appears to some that this is “soft on sin”. On the contrary, when we admit that we struggle with sin in our own lives, it more often than not gives people permission to reflect on themselves and their issues, allowing the Holy Spirit to convict, instead of us convicting them. As this happens, the Holy Spirit opens doors to walk beside people as they seek to become free. It allows us to encourage them as they battle, and brush them off and help them up if they stumble – once again cheering them on as they conitnue to walk towards freedom.

    Paul states, “My friends, if anyone is detected in a transgression, you who have received the Spirit should restore such a one in a spirit of gentlenss. Take care that you…are not tempted. Bear one another’s burdens (NRSV)…” By this, we can deduce several things: gentleness in approach means not bashing someone with the Bible; given the right set of circumstances, we could fall into the very same sin; sin is a burden of the soul that we are supposed to help each other overcome, not beat each other up over.

  • Jim Young

    Yes, love is the answer to having a “civilized” discussion. Jesus loved the Pharisees and started out with direct but gentle teaching (Nicodemus and others). Jesus didn’t get more forceful until it was obvious that they wouldn’t hear the truth any other way. Even then, the “names” Jesus used (vipers, white-washed tombs, hypocrites, etc.) were accurate metaphors. (Matthew 23)

    Dealing with “sinners” always requires gentleness and humility, acknowledging the fact that we are all saved by grace and every one of us harbors sinful attitudes and behaviors. No one is able to stand before the holy God on her/his own merits. “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God- through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Rom. 7:24-25)

    With regard to sexual issues, I don’t know anyone who would argue that adultery (i.e. unfaithfulness to one’s spouse) is sinful. I also don’t know any self-avowed practicing Christian who would argue against the standard of celibacy in singleness. The problem with “the one issue” is whether it’s declared as sinful, especially in a long-term, mutually exclusive and otherwise “healthy” relationship. Modern Americans perceive one’s “sexual identity” as integral to one’s person-hood; consequently, for God to declare that as grounds for condemnation seems unjust. On the other hand, to not declare the behavior as sinful amounts to being unfaithful to the Scriptures. Regardless of which “side” a Christian takes on “the one issue” it creates an internal schizophrenia that makes us all a little nervous.

    In my humble opinion, that is the core of the divisive debate.
    Lord, help us find Your answers and live in Your grace.

    • Mark Ongley

      Much to agree with, Jim. I would expand your one point to say that much of life is about defining our identity, sexual or otherwise, by what God says about us. And, of course, the scriptures are our guide. I find this a common theme in my work with people in recovery.

  • Jim Young

    Correction: I don’t know anyone who would argue that adultery is NOT sinful.

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