I’ve always found that term a bit odd; when parties that are actively at war sitting down to talk about peace seems weird. Yet of late I am beginning to wonder if evangelicals ought to be offering to sit down (metaphorically speaking) to peace talks with LGBT folks in the war being conducted on the same sex marriage issue.
The uproar over the decision/reversal by World Vision on same sex marriage is only the latest example of how quickly this war flares up and evangelicals rush to the battle field. Remember how quickly war was started when Phil Roberston of Duck Dynasty stuck his toe in this water and more than a million people signed the “I stand with Phil” online petition? Or how about Chik-fil-A and the great “eat a chicken sandwich for Jesus” demonstration?
It troubles me that this war is taking on too many characteristics of a real nasty war. We see:
– Collateral Damage. Thousands of little children in third world countries had their sponsors turn their backs on them in righteous indignation. Many of these righteously indignant folks promised to support other charities but the children being dumped were real children with real needs and there was no way that these other organizations could get to them easily.
– People being sucked into the conflict. Shortly after the WV announcement the President of the American Family Association said this: “Christians who support World Vision should stop, as should all of the artists and authors who raise money for them.” Within hours of that announcement Christian radio stations began notifying recording artists that if they didn’t stop supporting WV they would no longer play their music. These artists, almost fully dependent on these stations, had no choice but to withdraw from WV.
– Dehumanizing the other side. Despite pious assurances that we “love” LGBT people the reality is that for evangelicals this is an issue we debate while for gays this is something they live and experience. We may think we are critical of actions but to LGBT folk we are critical of who they are.
– The war growing to unrealistic proportions. When locked in combat all other issues fade. Do you think homosexual marriage is a sin? What about all those other sins in the same biblical lists? Why do they not generate such emotional response? Like nations that fight horrific wars over useless pieces of land we pick this one issue and let it consume us.
– Paranoia rules. I’m sick of seeing my fellow evangelicals seeing evil plots everywhere they look. Just consider the outrage over the mysterious “gay agenda” in things like the movie Frozen.
I have two other reasons I’d like to see peace break out; one practical and one emotional. In practical terms – this war is essentially over and the evangelicals have lost. Public opinion is shifting rapidly to accept same sex marriage. Evangelicals increasingly look mean spirited and hateful. A fight to the bitter end will leave us with a generation of hatred and potential reparations once the attitude that we are evil seeps in. Worried about religious liberty? Stop giving people an excuse to deny it.
But beyond that, the fundamental issue for evangelicals is evangelism. (I know, duh, right?) When you lose all credibility with those you are supposed to evangelize this becomes impossible. It doesn’t matter if we think they are wrong when they call us hate-filled. In this case, perception is reality and evangelism dies.
The Gospel was never about a set of approved list of beliefs. Jesus called himself the way, the truth and the life because he embodied his love for sinners in a real and tangible way. Our call is to do the same. This war makes us more like the Pharisees than the Savior.