I was held hostage…

I was held hostage Over the Christmas break. I know this is shocking to some of you, and I’m sure you think you should of heard about this on the news. True enough, I was bound, gagged, unable to speak and say the things I really needed to say. I felt helpless. I felt powerless. I wasn’t held hostage by a terrorist or a robber. I was held hostage by someone I knew…and by the Gospel.

I’m sure you all remember the Duck Dynasty drama that broke in the week before Christmas. Phil Robertson’s “frank” comments were polarizing, to say the least. Let me say two things here, for the record: (1) I believe the Old and New Testaments give incontrovertible witness that homosexual behavior is a sin [Rom. 1:27, 1 Cor. 6:9-10, 1 Tim. 1:10, Lev. 18:22], and (2) I’ve been a pretty big fan of Duck Dynasty. However, I found myself unable to speak up in defense of the Duck Patriarch. Why? Because I was being held hostage; I was unable to speak. I was threatened by a friend and bound by the Gospel.

After the controversy broke, an openly gay Facebook friend of mine posted something like this to his Facebook, “Anyone who defends Phil Robertson will be de-friended immediately.” My initial reaction was as follows: “Wow! Really? That doesn’t seem fair. I have a right to my opinion, and it’s okay for us to disagree. How can anyone hold a friendship (Facebook or otherwise) hostage over a disagreement? I should definitely speak up for the Truth of the Gospel!”

I chose not to post anything on the subject. Upon further reflection I came to three conclusions: First, that if I chose to speak up on this issue, I would lose a friend along with the opportunity to talk about God’s grace, mercy, forgiveness, and reconciliation in the future. I value having a continuing voice in his life, even if it’s marginalized, than to lose that voice altogether over one issue. There are thousands, perhaps millions of ways to offend God’s holiness, this is just one of them. I am guilty of many of the others. I have a deep obligation to proclaim the Message of Reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:19), but I’m not in a hurry to lose this opportunity through an avoidable offense.

Second, my friend has been deeply hurt, and I’m not looking to pile onto that hurt. We disagree over some very deep issues of existence and being. I believe that homosexuality is a result of the brokenness of humanity’s relationship with God and the resultant sin that has been passed from generation to generation since Adam. This is where we disagree, for he may not see homosexuality in the same way. Regardless, for my homosexual friends, every derogatory word on this issue cuts to their very being. That is not to say that Truth should not be proclaimed, or that a Biblical position on this shouldn’t be made clear, just read my next point.

Thirdly, the Truth of scripture has already been declared to him. In fact, the Truth has been quite forcibly and crudely declared thanks to the Patriarch of the Robertsons. Consider this, it is our role to proclaim the Truth, but it is not our role to convince people of the Truth. That is the job of the Holy Spirit (John 16:6-7). I don’t need to continually repeat a specific Biblical Truth on a single sin issue, in this case homosexuality, when the church has clearly proclaimed it. The Truth has been told. Our understanding of the position of Scripture has been made clear. Now let Holy Spirit work. Those who have received the message will either accept it or they won’t. Jesus was sorrowful over those who didn’t receive His message (Luke 10:13), but He didn’t repeatedly dwell on this until everyone was convinced of the Truth. He humbly accepted the disagreement and continued His work of bringing healing and reconciliation to the world. Let’s not ruin the work of the Holy Spirit by trying to do the convincing ourselves.

Many of us who are in leadership are attempting to navigate this issue. What’s more, most of our students are having to cope with this tension far more regularly than we are, and they are looking to us for guidance as they try to reach their school for Christ. It’s crucial that we be thoughtful on this issue, as opposed to being reactionary and rhetorical. The Scriptures report just two times when Jesus shed tears. One of those occurrences was at the loss of his friend, Lazarus (John 11:35). The second was over Jerusalem, and it’s rejection of Jesus and his message (Luke 19:41). As a follower of Christ, I weep over the same things. I weep that the message of the Cross continues to be rejected, and that the Truth of Scripture has come to be ignored, augmented, misinterpreted, and replaced. I also weep at the loss of a friend, for I also lose the opportunity to share God’s grace with them and the richness of fellowship with one of God’s fearfully created beings. In this case, I chose not to lose a friend and to be held hostage instead. There’s a lot of room (and need) for discussion and debate on our methods, though not on our doctrine. So…what would you do if you were held hostage?