I try, with varying amounts of success, to avoid pop culture vs. Christianity debates. Not because I do not have an opinion about the topic initiating all the hoopla, but because I think social media is a terrible way to carry on a dialogue.
The issue for me comes down to a simple question:
Do I want to be right or do I want to have relationship?
To be right with no regard for relationship makes one an arrogant punk. To have relationship with no regard for being right can open one up to all sorts of mistreatment and victimization.
But is it really possible to be right AND have relationship?
Consider the following:
Jesus said it is a sin to commit adultery, but when a woman caught in the very act (more like manipulated and
set up) was brought to Him all that He said was, “I do not condemn you, but go and leave your life of sin.”
Jesus said it is wrong to steal from people, but when he came across Zaccheus (a tax collector, a professional
thief) He said, “I want to go have lunch with you. Salvation has come to your house.”
Jesus said you should not give false testimony, but after His resurrection when He sends Mary to His apostles,
He tells her to make sure she tells Peter that He has returned.
Jesus said it is wrong to murder people, but He appeared to Paul, at that time known by the name Saul—who was
on his way to murder people—to offer him the opportunity to turn his life around.
There are two elements at play in all of these scenarios: one, there is right and wrong; two, relationship is more important.
Early in my journey of recovery from alcoholism, I was asked: did I want to be right or did I want to be sober? The purpose behind this question was to make me realize that I could lose the war by focusing on too many smaller, less significant battles.
I think Christians need to ask themselves a similar question. As with most major world religions, Christians make many claims they believe to be absolutes. Many people, who hold to the Christian faith as I do, live life as if there are certain things that are right and certain things that are wrong.
And I do not think we need to change that.
However, I do think we have to ask ourselves, “Do we want to be right or do want to be Christ-like?”
The most recent flare-up involves Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty, a show I have never watched (I have no desire to watch any reality TV shows that are not on Food Network). Is there some truth in what Robertson said? Perhaps. Is there truth in how he described the Jim Crow South? Perhaps not.
But to me, the issue is not the truth or lack thereof in what he said. The issue is people were hurt. He relegated people with same-sex attraction to nothing more than a sex act. He discounted the pain and rejection of a large number of people based only on his personal experience with a few people.
And that dismissal, that hurt, cannot be overlooked.
The way we talk about sin (and the people who sin) matters. The way we talk affects the type of relationships we can have. When we cast people aside, put them down, and treat them as “less than”, we short circuit any opportunity we may have had to be a witness for Christ to them.
What I understand the Bible to say about any particular issue is not what I lead with in a relationship. That does not mean I do not think it is important. But what I believe to more important is the opportunity to build relationships with as many people as I can.
I do not need to be right. Because I am not right. I have a life full of not-right-ness that a litany of witnesses can attest to.
But I need relationship. Although my life is filled with sin, my relationship with Christ has provided me with an opportunity to live different. Because of my relationship with people who desired to see me get sober I have continued living without giving in to my addiction again. Because of my relationship with Godly men and women my faith has been strengthened.
Because of my relationships, I have learned that it is more important to love and be loved than it is to be right.
So I cannot join a number of my Christian friends who #standwithphil. Because, no matter how right he may have been, his words do not build relationship.