This world is such a mess, it is without a doubt that the time for change is now. The pursuit of vocally opposing the gross oppression in our nation while advocating for loving others first - naturally and expectantly - brings a lot of antagonism from the Conservative American Church whose ways are being challenged. However, what has really thrown me off guard, has been some of the criticism from those who lean towards progressivism.
Those who know the issues and believe in the cause, but think we need to tone it down, take a more passive approach. Those who have told me to essentially censor how I speak about the insane oppression we see happening right before our eyes so as to not offend the oppressors.
Basically - the concept is - you can catch more bees with honey, right?
These sorts of comments have often made me pause and question how vocal I have become in these recent months. Am I being too critical? Do I need to soften my words?
After much thought, reading, and reflection, I have come to the conclusion - that censorship is bullshit.
Being able to have a dialogue with the “other side” is awesome, it can be incredibly helpful, but that doesn’t mean we sacrifice our bold voices against the oppression we see. We live in a world where the Christian elite has enabled and supported a literal bigoted-racist-narcissistic-sexual predator as “leader” of our nation; we need to be bolder in our opposition.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was point blank one of the most amazing peacemakers in history and his words on the matter - that are still vital to our fight for love today - are of far more value than my own, “We who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with.”
Here is the deal; loving others requires standing in the tension, not avoiding it.
Look at the life of Jesus; he certainly didn’t hesitate to stand in the tension. Seriously, whitewashed tombs, broods of vipers, does that sound passive? He straight up called out the oppressive religious elite without apology.
What I see too often is a “safer” response to the oppression and hurt that Conservative American Christianity has caused. The idea is that we simply try to humanize the oppressed and then the oppressor will realize the error of their ways and everyone will ride off into the sunset. In all seriousness, on a certain level, it seems like it makes sense, right? It’s appealing; you don’t have to really rub anyone the wrong way.
Real talk - we should ALWAYS be striving to humanize, however, this approach alone has proven to be ineffective.
It’s often like we want to be the change, we count the cost of boldly loving the marginalized; realize it will make people hate us, and decide that is too high of a cost. Look at what happened to Eugene Peterson who I’m sure is a truly nice person. When it came down to it, the cost of affirming and loving the LBGTQ community was too high for him. As soon as LifeWay pushed back, he quickly withdrew his affirmation. Now I don’t know what Peterson’s underlying motives were, but his actions were rather cowardly and even worse – they were hurtful. He refused to stand in the tension. In contrast, when LifeWay pulled Jen Hatmaker’s book for the exact same reason, she stood in the tension. She chose to love people regardless of the consequences and she handled the pushback like a champ.
I mean really, what cost is too personally high to see love win? Truly open your eyes to the hurt that surrounds us. We are basically in the Regressive Era of America – it’s time to be bold.
To those who are stepping out to love boldly when it feels like the world is against you, thank you, you are more vital than you even realize. I know it’s not easy. I know you may have lost people in your life because of it. I know it often feels as though the world hates you. But you are not alone. Continue to stand firm in love against the darkness. You’ve got this. You are the change our world so desperately needs.
To again throw it back to the words of Martin Luther King Jr, “We will have to repent in this generation not merely for the hateful words and actions of bad people but for the appalling silence of good people.” It’s our choice which side of history we stand. How courageous are we willing to be? It’s our choice to stand directly in the tension, it’s our choice to let love win.