January 28, 2008
Making our case in the public square.
Christian conservatives are often lambasted these days for fixating on abortion and homosexuality, as if we have sexual hang-ups. Tony Campolo has said for years that the Religious Right has "hijacked" the Christian faith over such issues. Yesterday at the National Cathedral, Rick Warren, who said the country needs liberals and conservatives, lamented that Christians still are viewed as only "right wing." (I'm not quite sure how that is still possible, given that Pastor Warren is arguably the nation's most prominent evangelical himself.) Critics point out that the call to discipleship also involves addressing things like environmental stewardship, poverty, and racism. And in that they are right.
But with the persistent push in our culture toward both abortion and homosexual marriage, what would these critics have Christian conservatives do? Earlier this month, Al Gore came out in favor of gay marriage, stating, "Gay men and women ought to have the same rights as heterosexual men and women - to make contracts, to have hospital visiting rights, to join together in marriage, and I don't understand why it is considered by some people to be a threat to heterosexual marriage. . .."
Are we not allowed to answer him? To abondon the argument is to lose the argument. And we have good reasons, beyond Scripture itself. But we must make these arguments as gently and lovingly as possible, never forgetting that how we make our case counts almost as much in today's culture as the substance of our case.
Pastor Warren is calling for a "second reformation" that includes reconciliation in the church. That's great. Let's all stop calling each other names and agree to do whatever work that God has called us to ... with grace and truth.
Pastor Warren's remarks can be heard by clicking on the following link. They are worth listening to in full.