How To Respond To The Ugly Side Of Sexual Politics

The heat in the Same-Sex Marriage debate just got turned up a notch.

Last week, a major conference of traditional marriage advocates that was to be held at a Sydney hotel  had to be cancelled, due to threats of physical violence from SSM supporters.

The Weekend Australian broke the news:

The Accor Hotels group confirmed late yesterday that the function had been abandoned after a social media storm triggered phone calls that “rattled” employees and left the company concerned about the safety of staff and guests.”

It’s disturbing on a number of different levels. Violent threats aren’t the way civilised people are meant to sort out political differences. And yet, evidently some people – and thankfully it’s only a minority –  are happy to resort to threats of violence to attain their political goals.

SSM Picture

Photo courtesy canva.com

When I heard this, my first response was one of almost gleeful outrage: ‘there we have it! Proof of the hypocrisy of the pro-SSM side: we’re always being warned about potential bigotry against LGBTI people, but look at how bad their actions are!’.

But is that the right response? I mean, how do we as Christians respond to this ugly side of sexual politics?

A lot could be said, but here are 5 points that we should keep in mind:

1) From “Outrage Porn”, to Holy Prayer

Jesus’ counter-cultural response to opposition and attack.

We live in the age of ‘outrage’.

We love feeling both ‘right’, and ‘wronged’. Tim Kreider from the NYT’s describes this as ‘outrage porn’:

[Outrage porn] is a pleasure…selected specificially to pander to our impulse to judge and to punish, to get us off on righteous indignation’.

And like sexual porn, it’s easy to get addicted – especially in our increasingly polarised culture.

But Jesus gives a different way.

Sure,  there’s a place for some outrage over injustice. But our anger – unlike God’s righteous anger –can lead us into sin (Eph 4:26). For me, such anger can turn into a condemning  ‘aren’t I good, and aren’t you bad’ attitude toward my opponents.

But how different was Jesus!  Speaking of Him, the apostle Peter says:

When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. (1 Peter 2:23)

Wow.

Like Jesus, we mustn’t retaliate – not personally. Instead, we need to prayerfully trust in God. No ‘tit for tat’. No hurling threats in return. But trusting that God will bring justice – which He will.

But does that mean we shouldn’t seek justice now? That justice will only come when Jesus returns?

Not quite. We can – and often must – seek justice, but only through God’s appointed servants: The government.

2) Submit To Our Government, By Not Taking Vengeance

Instead, let them bring justice.

Instead of taking justice into our own hands, we need to let God’s servants – the government – do its work (Rom 13: 2-4). In other words, let the police, the authorities, the judiciary take care of the threats. That’s why God put them here (Rom 13:4).

We’re not to be caped crusader-like vigilantes, taking justice into our own hands.  

 

3) Don’t Demonise, But Aim to Live in Peace

Christians need to get out of the sewers of social media.

Even if we let the government handle the injustice of these sorts of situations, it’s still tempting to demonise our opponents. And social media gives us an easy – and instant –  platform to do so.

But that’s not what we’re called to. As the apostle Paul writes:

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse…Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody.   If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (Rom 12:14-18)

I’ll be the first to admit this is easier said than done.

Especially when we feel justified in condemning our opponents.  But we’re called to walk a higher road. A road following the Jewish Messiah – who blessed his enemies – who blessed us. We’re called to walk a road that steers clear of the sewers of social media.

4) Reach Out to The LGBTI Community

We need to love like Jesus loves.

The problem with sexual politics is that it’s so polarising. If you’re pro-traditional marriage, you’re automatically labelled a ‘bigot’. You’re assumed to hate LGBTI people.

And so, at worst, LGBTI people see Christian Churches as ‘anti-equality’, and as ‘unsafe spaces’.

That is tragic.

And so it’s not surprising that some Christians are calling for us to get out of the marriage debate, in the hope of reaching LGBTI people.

But that would be a mistake: contending for traditional marriage is a godly thing to do. [1]

Silence is not the right option.

Instead, genuine personal engagement of LGBTI family, neighbours, colleagues is the way ahead.  It’s the best way to break down misconceptions and stereotypes. It’s the best way to share the love of Jesus. And it shows that we can disagree on fundamental issues, yet still be loving.

Speaking of his unlikely friendship with conservative businessman Dan Cathy, LGBTI activist Shane Windmeyer writes:

‘[B]uilding a relationship with someone I thought I would never understand mattered. Our worlds, different as they can be, could coexist peacefully… Gay and straight, liberal and conservative, activist and evangelist — we could stand together in our difference and in our respect. How much better would our world be if more could do the same? [emphasis added]

Indeed.

5) Keep Exposing the Truth by Asking Questions

It’s a great way to engage the difficult the issues.

Out of love for neighbour, Christians must engage the big issues our society is facing. Yes,  we must engage with grace. But we must also engage with skill.  

The  best way – in my experience – is to do this is by exposing the underlying weaknesses of the SSM agenda. And to do this by asking questions – good questions.

Questions that challenge the underlying assumptions and worldview; questions that expose the foolishness of much of the sexual revolution. [2]

If we flush out the underlying worldviews and agendas, then the silent majority within our society are more likely to sit up and take notice. And oppose such radical – and ultimately harmful –  changes.

With Challenge comes Opportunity.

If we care about our neighbour – be they Christian or non-Christian – then there will be times when we need to speak up. But it will be hard. It will be costly. But with every challenge comes opportunity. And in this case, it’s the opportunity to respond to our opponents in the same way that Christ responded to His.

 

 

 

[1] Just like with other godly actions (e.g. preaching the gospel), people will misunderstand our motives, and assume the worst of us. But silence in the marriage debate will only secure a short-lived reprieve. The LGBTI revolution that’s  overtaking society demands affirmation of all things LGBTI, which means the Christians won’t have peace for long, unless we’re willing to give up our views of Biblical sexual morality.

[2] For a great resource on asking good questions, check out Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions, by Greg Koukl.

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12 thoughts on “How To Respond To The Ugly Side Of Sexual Politics

  1. Hi Akos,it is an excellent writing,I would put this Word to as a response to any bad what is happening in this world

    “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

    – Ephesians 6:12

  2. Hi Akos,
    The softly,softly approach was not always used by Jesus,the Disciples, the Prophets, or the N.T. Scriptures.
    It may well have to do with personality types.
    We are told to rebuke, admonish, correct etc… yes, “in love”, but strong words can be used and that’s what some people need because of their personalities, backgrounds etc.

    Christians are often seen to be easy targets because of their “tolerance”.
    It is because of this tolerance that we’ve allowed things to get to this point.
    We’ve shirked our duty to our neighbour by refusing to address this issue years ago with a combined Christian voice, while those who would seek to destroy marriage have had free reign to convince our neighbours that “love is love”.
    We may be trying fo close the gate after the horse has bolted.
    Tough love with Bible words may well be called “hateful” or “bigoted”, but we can’t do anything about that.

    Jesus said that when the Holy Spirit comes he will convince the world of sin, righteousness and judgement.
    Preachers must present these truths with passion unafraid of the world’s opinions of them.
    Writers should be unafraid of doing the same.
    The book of Proverbs has much to say about the words we use and has a real balance of tough love and soft answers.

    • Hi Ron,

      Thanks for your comment!

      Just a couple of points in response:

      1) I’m certainly not advocating stepping back from presenting the truth! Preachers, writers, speakers, all Christians must present the truth (of the gospel, and of general reality), and not distort it.

      However, I’m calling for a wise, loving – not soft – way of presenting the truth. This will mean presenting the truth in appropriate ways, at the appropriate time. Whether it’s disciplining a church member, or sharing the gospel with an LGBTI friend, we need to be wise – which includes being truthful – in how we speak.

      I call it the ‘velvet sledgehammer’ method. Speak lovingly, but speak firmly. (Sorry if I gave a different impression in my post – let me know where, and I’ll be sure to correct it.)

      2) In our current climate, we need to speak in a way that doesn’t put unnecessary obstacles to people hearing the truth. An obvious example is language – speaking in a way that people understand – but also speaking in a tone that doesn’t immediately turn people off.

      In our cultural moment, it seems to me, and in my experience on a secular university campus, the gospel – in all it’s full orbed glory and offensiveness – is more likely to get a hearing when we speak calmingly, and with a non-defensive tone.

      Hence the suggestion to ask questions as a way to engage on the difficult issues. That, in my experience, does a lot more to open up the conversation, than any other method.

      That’s not to say we leave it at mere questions: once answers are forthcoming, we can ask more questions, and point out problems with alternative worldviews etc.

      3) I’m certainly not advocating shutting up because of what the world might think about me, or any other preacher. If that was the case, I wouldn’t be a Christian blogger.

      But I am advocating speaking to people in a way that doesn’t *unnecessarily* alienate them, but opens up the conversation, in which the gospel can be spoken.

      That’s been my experience, anyway.

      Your thoughts?

      Akos

      • Hi Akos -Thanks for your reply.
        I like the ‘velvet sledgehammer’ idea.
        It’s just that as I speak to many Christians my experience has been that too many of them are too timid to speak up, and it seems that the strong language of the “other side” has beaten them into submission.

        I’m just looking for “passion” without denigration of others.

  3. Reading the book “the Insanity of God “by Nik Ripken i love this part
    ‘The human element in that pain was clear:corruption and greed and sin where obvious answers to our questions.What we couldn’t see quite clearly, at the time, was the love and power of God. Was God in Somaliland? Where? What was He doing? How bad would the situation have to get here before He would dramatically intervene?
    We made a conscious choice to be salt and light in a place gone mad. And we prayed that, somehow, that light would shine in the midst of this dark insanity.’
    The same questions and thoughts in the LGBTI discussions with in the christian community are the same but the final statement by Nik is a really important one :-‘We made a conscious choice to be salt and light in a place gone mad. And we prayed that, somehow, that light would shine in the midst of this dark insanity.’ Be the lights in the darkened would be the salt that people want to know who is this great King you serve. Know their story so you can share the story of God that shows the true hope in this world.

  4. What we need to remember, Akos, is that both sides of this debate have their undesirables. Not long after the episode you mentioned above, the nation’s largest LGBTI radio station received a much more direct threat of violence in the form of a bomb threat, and had to evacuate their studio. I don’t believe either side, as a whole, is capable of ensuring enough of its members remain civil in any upcoming plebiscite campaign.

    We also need to understand that while traditional marriage advocates may see some SSM supporters as bigoted and intolerant since this issue gained traction a few years ago, it is LGBTI people who have suffered from systemic, even institutionalised abuse at the hands of society (and the church in particular) for many decades longer than that. Even today, over 40% of LGBTI people aren’t ‘out’ at work because they are worried about possible repercussions. We need to remember the context of pain that these people have lived through up until this point when we talk about their attitudes and motivations.