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Just Be Heartbroken

June 14, 2016

The good news is that we’ve come a long way.  You might recall that in the aftermath of the 9-11 attacks a number of well-known evangelicals made statements about how the attacks were God’s judgement on America for tolerating, or even celebrating, such things as same-sex relationships and feminism.

I did a search yesterday for reactions by today’s well-known evangelicals to the horrific killing in Orlando this past weekend. I am happy to say I did not find one “it’s the gay’s fault” or “it’s God’s judgement” comment.  (I don’t doubt that somebody might be saying that but I was only searching the sites of well-known evangelical culture-war commentators.)

Several did not address the issue at all but among those that did the exhortation to pray for the victim’s families and for survivors was the norm.  Well and good.  Perhaps we are past the stage of using our theological views to victim-blame.  There was an interesting pattern to the urging for sympathy however.  Almost to a man (Yes, man; I didn’t find one woman commentator who addressed the issue at all.) they made a qualifying statement along with their sympathy and the urging of prayer that went something like this:

Of course I don’t condone the homosexual lifestyle but there is no excuse for this horrible attack.

In essence they could not bring themselves to just be heartbroken.  They felt the need to assure us that their sorrow does not mean they actually like or support the “gay agenda.”  There was a fear that, even an expression of sorrow, if not accompanied by a little theological clarification, might be misconstrued to imply they support gays.

I hate qualifying statements and yet, in a hundred ways, the evangelical culture is full of them.  We are often trapped by our theology into making them.  For example, we know that pride is a theological no-no.  We then have to qualify our praise.  We say things like “I don’t want to get you puffed up but you did a really good job on…”  It is as if, to make sure the other guy doesn’t get too prideful, we need to scoop out a little hole in his ego to drop our praise into.

The families of the Orlando victims will be stung by qualified expressions of sorrow; they will not feel them as genuine sorrow and sympathy.  This is a time to just be heartbroken.

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