I’m all for respectful dialogue. I really am. It may not seem like it, since I spend a good part of my time blogging about the unfortunate ways the Church behaves. But in “real life,” I do engage in regular conversations wherein I don’t necessarily agree with the other people. Believe it or not, as progressive as I am, this occurs on both sides of the aisle.
But there are times when I think it’s necessary for Christians to just plain shut the hell up. When we have a different view of whether or not something is moral, and the other party is not a Christian, we need to leave well enough alone. In fact, this is what the Bible tells us to do.
Next Friday, April 20, is GLSEN’s Day of Silence. This is an opportunity for people to come together in solidarity against anti-LGBT bullying. Please keep that in mind: This is not the “Day of Yay! Let’s All Be Gay!” or the “Day of Making Those Religious Jerks Pay for What They’ve Done to Us” or the “Day of Teaching Our Kids How Gay Sex Works.” It’s about standing up against hate crimes. (Please read the GLSEN site. Trust me.)
Unfortunately, Focus on the Family seems to believe that this is a great opportunity to make sure that everyone knows what Christians think about sexuality and gender issues, with their own uninformed beliefs at the forefront. (Please don’t get me started on what I think of Focus on the Family. Just…no. Because then I might tell you, and believe me, it won’t be pretty.)
On April 19, FoF is calling for a Day of Dialogue. I suppose (grudgingly) that on the surface, this doesn’t sound like a horrible idea. But there are multiple problems with it.
First, from the web site:
The bad news is that the need for God’s hope has never been greater—especially in our public schools, many of which have increasingly delved into promoting controversial sexual topics to students, such as homosexuality, transgenderism and gay marriage. All too often, this occurs in a way that is extremely disrespectful of parental rights and students’ religious freedoms. Many times it creates a pressure-cooker situation for Christian students since this promotion often occurs without parental knowledge or permission—and only one point of view is allowed, while others are disparaged.
I want to scream and rip my hair out at the roots every time I hear someone complain that our “rights” as Christians are being taken away. Not only that, this is the most uninformed garbage I’ve seen in a long time. So what if schools are (finally) addressing these taboo topics? It’s about freakin’ time. No one is “promoting” anything. No one is telling you or your kids to stop believing whatever you want about what the Bible says. What schools are, and should be, saying is that your kids can’t bully LGBT classmates. They’re also saying that even though your religious sensibilities view it as sin, not everyone feels that way, and your religious views do not have a place in the classroom curriculum.
Second, FoF appears not to understand the real purpose of the Day of Silence. Someone should inform them. There is no “gay agenda” being promoted here, other than the desire to be viewed as a person and not as a “condition.” Let me repeat, this is about bullying.
Third, FoF certainly does have an agenda. Specific religious beliefs do not belong in public school, period. That includes promotion of limited ideas about gender identity and expression. I am not in any way saying that male and female are equivalent or interchangeable. But FoF seems to be confused about what it really means to be transgendered. (Which is an entire post of its own, so I won’t get into that here.) The material provided by FoF is limited to a very narrow set of beliefs, leaving out subsets even of Evangelical Christians who might tend to agree otherwise, if the definitions weren’t so specific.
Fourth, this is not Biblical. When non-Christians don’t agree with our morality, we need to leave them alone. This isn’t the way to bring people to Christ. FoF’s idea that Jesus made it his mission to speak the truth fails to note that he was speaking the truth to his own people. He wasn’t going around telling the Roman Gentiles the “truth.” In the same way, we need to save sharing the finer points for after someone has become a believer. If Christians want to dialogue with other Christians about their views on the Day of Silence or LGBT issues generally, no problem. But it’s not appropriate for a non-Christian audience. That means it’s not appropriate at school, as religious debate among people of the same faith really has no place there.
Finally, I am ready to pummel the next person to make it sound like the LGBT community is ruining morality for our country. Seriously, that’s being done quite nicely by non-LGBT folks. Honestly, why pick on this one thing? How come we don’t have a Day of Dialogue for Christians to express Biblical views on divorce or greed or racism (three issues addressed by Jesus himself)? Those are far more important issues with far more dire consequences for everyone.
If you or your kids want to participate in this Day of Dialogue, that’s your right. You do, in fact, still have free speech, last I checked. But I would encourage you to take a different approach. Rather than taking this conversation into the school and unleashing your views on non-Christians, why not make space for it in and among our churches? I don’t mean standing up and announcing your views and correlating Bible texts, then sitting down feeling satisfied that you’ve cleared things up. I mean that churches with different views on the issue ought to talk about it. We ought to discuss how we read the text and why, and what the consequences of our interpretation might be (on both sides). If we are truly mature people of faith, we should be able to do this respectfully. Keeping our doctrinal differences internal is not only the Biblical way to handle it, it’s also much more grace-filled.
What do you think—are we ready to move forward and “reason together”?
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