Sometimes, where I live, it’s pretty scary to actually realize what most of my neighbors would think of me if they knew what I really believed. There are a few hot-button issues that I am genuinely nervous to bring up with people, and I recently, in London, actually, realized what it might look like to actually discuss these issues with someone that I watch on TV or listen to on the radio. It was really good for me, I think.
During our time in London, we were able to spend an evening with a family who has Minneapolis roots. They were mostly strangers to us but were very hospitable and kind to us, as they now live in London. We enjoyed our time with them immensely, even though half-way through the night, at a wonderful English pub we started to feel a little uncomfortable because one of our new friends began to repeatedly speak out against the conservatism in America, specifically regarding homosexuality.
Usually I try to understand that in Minneapolis and elsewhere the prevailing worldview is that the fight for gay marriage is a civil rights issue, and let a few comments slide on by to keep the peace. But this time, the comments kept on coming, and with each second came a stronger feeling that to stay silent was to silently assent to her unbiblical opinion regarding the issue, her hurtful view of me (had she yet known where I stood), and her insult to the God who created us. It became clear that in order to be faithful to what I know the Bible says, and what Christ would have me do, I needed to say something. So I did.
The issue is a very personal issue to her, and I wanted to make sure that she knew it’s a personal issue for me to. My family has not been unaffected by homosexuality, and it seems that with each year I find out about more friends, current or past, who are coming out as gay. This is a very personal issue. And it is a very spiritual issue. But the fact that it was personal to me too didn’t matter.
The conversation, if you can call it that, was a strange creature, indeed. I’ve been surrounded by a Christian sub-culture for many years – my whole life, in fact, and it was refreshing for me to experience the fight that’s going on in the rest of the culture. There was no arguing. Logic and consistency had no place in this discussion, only blind determinism to “protect” a beloved friend from what appeared to this woman as a cruel and destructive opinion.
I felt the weighty truth of being the smell of death to someone I wanted to call a friend. My patience, kindness, and reason were put to the test, and their maintenance made no noticeable difference whatsoever.
I did not come out unscathed, and the conversation brought home to me what I’ve been hearing about the battle over inerrancy that’s been raging (at the snails pace of scholarly battles) among theologians for the last several years. This isn’t a new battle, but in recent years it’s been renewed among scholars, and, for me, this conversation was evidence of the scholarly battle come to fruition in the lives of us “normal” people. We stand or fall on our view of the inerrancy of scripture. Without the authority of the Bible, we are fools, and not just in the eyes of what we call “the world.”
It was reminder of several things:
- My biblical knowledge is worth much. To fight this battle without the sword of the spirit is impossible.
- My biblical knowledge is not everything. I need to be ready to fight for inerrancy and defend my hermeneutic.
- My logic is worth much. Her husband stepped in a few times to point out the rationality of my arguments. He heard them.
- My logic is not everything. She heard no logic, and operated by the emotional engine of the love=acceptance mantra.
- Kindness and patience do matter. My kindness and patience did not win them to my side, but when I think of what would have happened if they had been absent, I shudder. Fighting fire with fire would have only created an explosion. She can hate my belief, but she cannot truthfully say that I was rude or hateful, and that, to me, means a victory.
Would you pray with me for this woman, her husband, and their family? They were truly wonderful people, and we enjoyed our time with them. But there is blindness in their hearts that arguments cannot remove. Their vision of God is clouded by their view of scripture, and only he can remove the fog. What a relief that their salvation is not in my ability to argue truth, but in the hands of a sovereign, good, God.