TJ Addington has a great response to the recent controversy surrounding Phil Robertson’s comments about homosexuality and sin. Along with many of you, I have dear friends who are gay/lesbian – inside the church and outside of the church. I found the following blog from Addington to be very helpful as I’ve processed the quotes and reaction of the media.
by TJ Addington
I have been reflecting on the controversy surrounding the comments of Phil Robertson of the Duck Dynasty show in an interview with Gentlemen’s Quarterly. His comments regarding sin have created a firestorm from the left because he labeled homosexuality, adultery, bestiality and so on as sinful behaviors. In fact, he was loosely quoting Paul from the New Testament in his comments. It did not go over well. He was fired from the show and it sounds like the show is now over which in the large scheme of things is not a bad thing if one is looking for culture on television.
However, I do think it raises some issues to consider. First, it is clear that the general public has moved so far from its Biblical moorings that even the suggestion that some behaviors labeled in Scripture as sin is controversial.
We need to accept the fact that increasingly the convictions that those who take the Scriptures as truth are going to be marginalized when they speak about issues that our culture accepts as normal and appropriate. In case this bothers us we need to remember that God’s truth has always been and always will be counter cultural.
Many will appropriately raise the issue of “free speech” which is unfortunately not appreciated when it expresses convictions that are not politically correct. It is a good discussion to have as those who call for tolerance are in fact some of the most intolerant. It is unfortunate that one cannot express their convictions today without being attacked but it is reality.
The left is not the only group that has been intolerant in their attitudes or unloving in how they express themselves. Many Christians are just as guilty. The fruit of the Spirit applies to how we engage our culture and those who we disagree with: love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, kindness and self control.
Further, I was interested in what Phil went to when he was asked about a definition of sin. While I don’t disagree with his list as it reflects biblical truth, there are many other sins that are equally sinful: lust, gossip, slander, angry words, racism, marginalizing of those who are not like us, all of which we struggle with on a daily basis.
This raises the wisdom of labeling the sins of those who sin differently than us as egregious when each of us struggles with our own sinful nature. Sin is not simply those things that are sins of others. All of us struggle with our own demons which the Holy Spirit wants to conquer. It is easy to identify the sins of others and it makes me feel good that I don’t do those things while not reflecting on my own sinfulness. There is a reason that many believers as seen as intolerant and angry – they rail against those things that they are against rather than communicating those things that they are for.
Then there is the issue being wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Here is the truth: I want to have influence for Jesus and that is rarely gained by getting in the face of others. Apart from the Pharisees, Jesus was remarkably loving and grace filled when he confronted those who were living in sin. He spoke with both grace and truth.
As believers who want to influence our world for Him, we need to be deeply sensitive to how we interact with those who do not know Him. Public proclamations are rarely going to do that. Certainly there are times when the church needs to stand for righteousness, justice and mercy (we often do the first while downplaying the second and third) but it must be done in a loving and kind way that clearly demonstrates the grace of Jesus along with the truth of Jesus.
In the final analysis, our influence for Jesus is far more effective when we simply love those around us, identify with the struggles they have because we too struggle with sin, and demonstrate the grace of Jesus and when appropriate speak of the truth of Jesus. I am far more interested in helping people find Jesus and allowing the Holy Spirit to work in their lives as He has in mine than in labeling their sin and trying to fix them. That in the end is His work not mine.
Remember that when Paul wrote the words that Phil was loosely referencing, he was not writing an open letter to society but was talking to those who were in the family of God. We need to focus on the sanctification of our own lives and allow the Holy Spirit to so shine through us that others see the grace and truth of Jesus in our lives and open conversations that allow us to share with others. There are many ills of society but I need to remember that I suffer from many ills myself. I can influence society and should but I also need to be deeply conscious of my own brokenness and the need for daily grace to live the Jesus life.
I have dear friends who live alternative lifestyles. What they need is what I need – a relationship with Jesus that leads to life transformation where the Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin and leads us to the freedom of forgiveness and a life that reflects His grace and truth. Their sin may be different from mine but we are all sinners in need of His grace. How we love others and communicate the good news of Jesus will make all the difference in whether we are heard or ignored.