Are Christians Victims of a Secularizing Culture? (Not so fast…)
The protest and subsequent self-removal of Louie Giglio from President Obama’s inauguration in the name of “tolerance for all” feels like its own form of veiled intolerance. The humble way in which Giglio bowed out seems to reveal an incredibly tolerant spirit toward a loud vocal minority who intolerantly protested his involvement. As my friend Jon Tyson posted today on Twitter, “In today’s society, no amount of good works can atone for the ‘sin’ of subscribing to the biblical view of sexuality.” This is a very curious thing. Zealous for a world in which there is “tolerance for all,” evangelists of the tolerance creed are found to be surprisingly intolerant. Affirm the Bible’s teaching on sexuality and you will be labeled as “out of touch” on a good day, an “idiot” on a bad day, and a “bigot” on a really bad day. These labels are especially applicable if you claim to be a Christian (Interestingly, Muslims, Jews, and Hindus also have agreed with the Bible’s sex ethic for centuries, and still do). We live in strange times.
This being said…
I might add that, in my humble opinion, evangelicals should resist anger and defensiveness, but rather be circumspect, about their own role in helping create an environment that led to the Giglio incident and others like it. Many would argue that it was religious people, not secular people, who started the fight in the first place. Had evangelicals not, for so many years, let themselves be known more for the behaviors they are against versus the God and neighbors they are for in the public conversation (recall the self-titled ‘moral majority’ and the culture wars of the 90’s and early 00’s), perhaps a secular culture would have less animosity, and more respect (or tolerance), for an evangelical giving an inaugural blessing.
What if evangelicals, across the board, graciously exercised restraint in the culture wars (as Giglio doeshere) and stuck to the heart of things…Who is Jesus, what are his claims, have those claims been validated historically, and on the basis of this, how are we going to respond to him? What if we left the task of moral reformation to God who alone can transform human hearts and, ultimately, human behaviors? One must believe that on some level, this would lead to less rancor toward evangelicals in general and, in Giglio’s case, in particular.
Louie Giglio’s situation is unfortunate. Why? Because the lion’s share of his ministerial emphasis has been on loving and serving a hurting world in the name of Christ. For many years he has championed the cause of ending human trafficking and slavery, a cause that he and our President have agreed on and embraced as a basis for friendship and partnering, in spite of other areas where they clearly disagree. Giglio is one of many sad casualties who, due to no fault of his own, has mostly been made guilty by association. Neither he nor any other level-headed, Bible-believing evangelical will claim association with Fred Phelps-like hate groups masquerading as Christians. And yet, at times, and most unfairly, they are lumped in with such groups by some…as are the many good-hearted, justice-oriented, first-things-first evangelicals about whom secular journalist Nicholas Kristof writes with glowing praise.
Let’s not be foolish by returning insult with insult and caricatures with caricatures. Let’s love as we have been loved…and see what happens. Perhaps the public narrative will gradually shift, and the watching world will, along with Nicholas Kristof, “see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven.”