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The Christian Response

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All week, regarding the Covington Catholic story the host has been quoting Proverbs 15:1, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger,” especially the first half of that verse.  That’s a great memory verse and it brings up a broader discussion about what it means to be a politically active Christian right now.  Consider:

Unquestionably Christianity is under attack in our public life.  It’s been that way for quite a while now, but in the last few years it has gone somehow “mainstream.”  This is no longer the stuff of nuisance lawsuits and wierdo atheists – this is now the stuff of judicial nominee hearings and press “witch” hunts.  Yes, witch hunts.

The natural tendency is to push back against all of this – hard.  But I wonder if that is the best response?

The first thing that must be noted is the second half of the verse the host has been quoting all week, “…a harsh word stirs up anger.”  That is a great summation of how we got into this mess.  Much of what we suffer under right now originates from movement for LGTBQ “rights.”  That movement and the animus towards faith that accompanies it is born of many, many harsh words.  True, in the current debate to even label their behavior as sin is considered somehow discriminatory – not much we can do about that –  but not all sin has historically been met with the harsh words that these particular sins were met with.  As the host has said about the young people in the Covington Catholic confrontation, “They did not cover themselves in glory,” neither have we.  Our response must be born of a humility that recognizes all the harsh words and the anger they have engendered.

And then I think of Jesus before Pontius Pilate.  Jesus submitted Himself to authority that had no authority over Him.  I consider James 1:2.  I think about what Peter said:

If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.  Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name.

And then I think about what Paul said about “speaking the truth in love:

As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; b>ut speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ,

God is at work here, first and foremost in us, growing and maturing us.  We can never leave the truth of what is, and is not, sin, but we must repent of our harsh words and learn to speak the truth about sin in genuine and deep love.

It is often argued that such is fine for church, but out in the “real world” of politics we must defend ourselves vigorously.  I would argue that this is in fact a vigorous defense.  Take a step back for just a moment.  These people operate on a platform built by Martin Luther King and his peaceful, non-violent civil rights movement.  King prevailed because the sight of his followers taking the blasts from the water cannons and suffering in jail while their oppressors spoke of their own righteousness was so wrong to the average American that the truth of the situation became apparent.  The sheer ferocity and shrillness of the attacks under which Christianity suffers right now reveal far more than we ever could with a well-planned strategy of public relations, litigation and legislation.


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