Truth Versus Love?

Truth and love have been pitted against one another in recent years and especially in the church. However, it is not only in the church but deep within the circles of Christianity’s critics. Some statements fall along the lines of, “Christians should start learning to love more instead of speaking the truth!” Or “Love is what we need, not more of your truth.” Personally, not many people have said these things directly to me. A lot of these things are said to me by my non-christian friends who are complaining about Christians!

How Christians react in these situations is very important and pivotal to the (I’ll say it) the Gospel. The way we answer this “critique” and how we define our views on truth and love are utterly significant. Far more times than I care to admit, the prototypical reply goes something like this: “I know. You’re so right. As a Christian, I want you to know that we do love, and it’s the more important than anything else.” Then, the once defensive person feels appeased and understood, but are we really yielding to the actual problem? The problem is not truth versus love. The problem lies in our definition of each term, and the words that truly communicate what we mean.

Love cannot be separated from the truth. After all, love is honest! If the goal of the Christian is to be Christ in the world, then would any one of us assume that he would forego truth to love someone? On the contrary, it was Jesus’ truth that predicated his love. Many of us have heard, “Love is patient. Love is kind. Love is…” One can conclude that love is a compendium of virtues. Truth being one of them. Truth is gathered up into love. To pit love against truth is to war a mother with her son. It would not make sense (in a perfect world anyway). I cannot stress enough how much love envelops truth.

Perhaps, it is a matter of language?

Sometimes, I think what people are really trying to say is this: for all the words we preach and conviction we deliver, when will we offer the same amount of grace? This question is a fair one. If the Gospel is one of grace, why aren’t we exhibiting it more? Why not allow questions, dialogue, and uncertainty? Why shouldn’t we allow our critics to speak their mind and receive first rather than defend first?

It comes down to truth/justice and grace. And while they seem contradictory they are in fact an integral marriage that defines love itself. We see this mysterious and even confusing fusion on the cross at Calvary. The cross encompasses the ultimate truth in the person of Jesus, the ultimate justice of God’s wrath appeased, and of course, the ultimate act of grace, that all men be spared and offered the opportunity to be reconciled to their maker.

In my opinion, the challenge is not whether or not we love or speak truth, but asking ourselves in every circumstance, how can I fully love anyone in any particular situation? How do we display/speak truth gracefully and display/speak about grace truthfully? Paying attention to this detail will help change how we approach others and deepen our understanding of God. It requires a lot more work. Embodying grace and truth takes a lot of work, and because every individual is unique, there are no blanket specifics or manuals.

[edit] 1 Peter 3:15 [/edit] (courtesy of a good friend of mine, Paul Puckett)

Simply put, truth should never be at odds with other “loving” characteristics, because truth is a very loving thing. After all, Jesus IS the truth. However, we can pay closer attention to how graceful we are, and how appropriate our rebukes are in every circumstance. Love is above all else, because Love is the entirety of all that is God.

What are your thoughts? Let me know!

#MTLF

P.S. This was a little quick. My previous draft was deleted. So, I tried to rewrite all I could remember. :D

It’s Just a Prayer, Right?: A Loaded Benediction

A side note for all readers: I will usually make the first half of the post informative, and the second half my opinion. If you are aware of the information in any of these situations, you can skip ahead to My Thoughts. Please keep in mind that my opinions are in light of the information given prior.

On January 21st, 2013, the 44th president of the United States of America was publicly sworn into office for his second term. It was a wonderful ceremony. As a musician, I had a great time watching the inauguration. It possessed the likes of James Taylor, Kelly Clarkson, and perhaps one of my favorite artists, Beyoncé (I just learned how to do the accented ‘e’). There were an average amount of Americans who avidly opposed the celebration of Mr. Obama. However, I was pleased to see such a wonderful turnout for the leader of our country. I had been given the opportunity to attend with my friend, Abe, but it was COLD. In fact, I could not convince myself to go anywhere in what felt like the second coming of an ice age.

As  Reverend Luis Leon gave his benediction, I thought, “What happened, Louie?” Louie Giglio was the first reverend selected by the Obama administration to give the benediction. I think a lot of people, including myself, assumed he declined the invitation because he is anti-gay marriage. At first glance, I thought, “Is your position on this certain issue grounds to deny a prayer for our leader and a nation?” I was a little shocked. I decided to look deeper and gain some perspective.

For those of you who do not know, Louie Giglio is the pastor of Passion City Church, a church with over 2,000 regular parishioners in A-town (I included a link for those who are not keen on hip hop). His name is huge in evangelical circles, and probably one of the most recognized pastors in America. He is known for his work with the Passion Conference held every year from January 1 – 4. The conference houses over 55,000 college-aged students in recent years past and over 60,000 just 30 days ago. One of the focal points of his ministry and church has been raising America’s awareness of human trafficking all over the world.

There were so many names he was called: Anti-Gay, Gay-Hater, Homophobe, and other expletives. After rifling through all the Giglio-hate articles, I was able to find some information. In a sermon he delivered in 1996, he stated that homosexuality was a sin. Just days after thinkprogress.org released this sermon, Louie Giglio released a statement declining his invitation because of his belief that the controversy would supersede the significance of the ceremony. PIC released this statement soon thereafter:

“As we now work to select someone to deliver the benediction, we will ensure their beliefs reflect this administration’s vision of inclusion and acceptance for all Americans.”

However, many government officials close to the administration would agree that President Obama’s definition of inclusion is not like the PIC’s. In fact, his definition would include not only gay-right activists, but those with the traditional Christian views of marriage as proven by his invite for Rick Warren to give the inaugural prayer in 2009.

MY THOUGHTS

Louie Giglio is a great speaker, and a wonderful preacher. I had the pleasure of listening to him at one of Chris Tomlin’s concerts at the Patriot Center. His message is one of hope, redemption, peace, and love for all and that mankind is reconciled to God the Father through belief in Jesus Christ. So, I believe he is sincere when he states, “[Sin of homosexuality] is not the core of our message.” Since his sermon in 1996, he has not preached a message about homosexuality. It was made apparent that this issue was not a priority of his ministry whatsoever.

Some Christians believe he should have given the benediction anyway. However, I believe it comes down to one’s conscience. Rather than shift the focus of the entire ceremony to Louie Giglio’s “anti-gay” (which is an appalling misrepresentation of his beliefs) position, why not let bygones be bygones, and withdraw your invite in the name of peace? One might say, “Christians should stick up for their beliefs!” Yet, I think it is important that Christians stand in the name of Christ, not doctrine. Christians should stand to give life and serve, not condemn and charge a people who do not live under the same precepts. Let our desire to serve and free others be the means of our persecution, not our strict stance on argued doctrine. I think Louie’s decision to step down was for this sake. This was not a fight worth fighting with anyone, because it would take away from the mission of his ministry and all Christians.

There are some allegations that he was gently suggested to step down. Either way, it was a battle not worth fighting. I respect his decision. If it were me, I would have probably used the prayer as an opportunity to pray for our nation’s unity, tolerance, peace in discrepancy, and overall, love for all mankind.

There is another issue here that really bothers me, and that is the extreme vilification of individuals on both sides of gay rights. To question another man’s character and intentions based on a sermon given nearly two decades ago is unfair. Creating a sensationalized buzz over this issue took from a man the honest opportunity to pray for the nation’s people and president. Without any dialogue or conversation, Louie Giglio was bashed and immortalized in the LGBT community as a gay-hater. I am not denying that the hate toward the LGBT community has bred bottled up disdain for years. Of course it is awful. Yet, should anyone respond to fire with fire? There is a fiery passion that lies in the LGBT community that longs for its equality in all facets of American life. I hope that the fiery passion, one filled with benevolent hope for equality among all citizens, is not twisted into hate. I am hopeful that we can have a restorative attitude within this country and not one of retribution.

As a citizen of God’s kingdom, I am confident that the love of God through Christ stands above all else. Right doctrine and dogma play a significant role in any believer’s journey through sanctification. Our beliefs on what is and is not sin carry significant weight. However, I believe it is in eternity that all darkness, confusion, division and weeping will be cast away. Division and disagreement are inescapable. A proper view of eternity can give proper peace in all circumstances today. As a citizen of a democratic republic, I firmly believe people can disagree (even on an issue that cuts so deep into our perspective of person, morality, and family) can find compromise with one another if not in belief, in living peaceably with one another. Let compassion, forgiveness, and mercy rule all our hearts when dealing with such issues.  I think all of us who have experienced love in any capacity can agree that the aforementioned attributes are good ones to express regardless of one’s philosophical, religious, and ethical beliefs.

I do not anticipate all my posts being this long, but there were a lot of underlying issues I could not help but address. Thanks for reading! What do you think Louie Giglio should have done?

#MTLF

P.S. Be on the lookout for next week’s topic!

#MTLF

Intro to MTLF

So, it has become apparent that more and more people I know are beginning to express their beliefs over social media. I am all for expressing opinions of all genres: religion, sports, politics, quantum physics, ethics of penguin hunting… Yet, I cannot help but notice the multitude of statuses, tweets, YouTube comments, among other things that are not only uneducated, but downright rude. As we begin to have more resources, more opportunity, and new ideas, it is pivotal to our growth as individuals and human beings that we explore the vast amount of information set before us by history, and present research. It is just as important that we respect one another’s beliefs and understand that disagreements are okay! With all the resources we have, we could all do a little brushing up on what we believe and why. In the last year alone, I have made assumptions about health based on what “mom used to say.” Not only were many of these statements hodgepodge, but it made me rethink many of my own assumptions about life. Don’t get me wrong. I still have many thoughts that could use some deeper inspection. I guess what I am really trying to say is this: I am far more ignorant than I could ever imagine and far more capable of learning than I could ever dream. So why not learn a thing a two?

With that said, this blog is my personal expression of my knowledge and ignorance on many issues. Specifically, I will tackle a lot of issues regarding the qualms many have with Christianity as well as give my opinion on current affairs with a christocentric (Jesus-centered) perspective without beating a dead horse or shoving it down anyone’s throat. I’d like to take the many questions with their typical answers and dig deeper. Some topics will be a crater while others, a divot. However, the goal, no matter the topic, is to dig! I don’t want you nor myself to settle for “because my mom said so,” or on an even more controversial level, “because the bible says so.”

As a believer of Jesus’ salvific (it’s a real word… right? it is. Just googled it) work on the cross and his bodily resurrection, I think it is important to question and dialogue with others with or without faith in anything and everything. That is why the name of this blog is More Talk, Less Fight. This is my attempt to talk out these various issues with sensitivity and grace without rudeness and hurtful assumptions. This will be a two way street. I am hoping to learn more than I give. If you are willing to join a movement within our generation that speaks up but with knowledge, power, compassion, BUT (maybe, most importantly) listens, then join me in my endeavor to educate and be educated, encourage and be encouraged, hear and be heard,  challenge the masses, and be challenged. Why not? I will post an entry every Wednesday (hopefully… I am all over the place) based on what you want to hear and talk about. Shoot me an e-mail joewilliamscott@gmail.com to send me a topic! You can follow me on twitter @itsjoescott and tweet me your ideas if that’s more your thing. :D

It is my pleasure to hear your thoughts and questions, and do my best to articulate my thoughts. So, What do you say? Can we have more talk, and less fighting, please? #MTLF

This Wednesday’s topic: Louie Giglio declining the opportunity to give the Benediction at President Obama’s inauguration.