This has been such an awful week for those of us who are associated with the "Evangelical" church. The week started with World Vision changing their hiring practices to include married homosexual relationships. Then a day and a half later reversed it. And to round out the week, the movie Noah is hitting theaters.
Both of these stories have erected giant straw men called "Evangelicals" only to then proceed to light them up and burn it to the ground!
THE WORLD VISION NIGHTMARE:
For the vast majority of "Evangelicals" homosexual marriage is a theological offense to their understanding of scripture, authority and sexuality. And when World Vision decided to change their hiring practices, this caused concern and a violation of conscience for those in the "Evangelical" camp. I read just about everything there was to read about this entire episode, and in everything I read I saw confusion, lamenting, and wrestling with what actions to take on the side of "Evangelicals" and belittling disdain from the "Progressive" camp.
When this decision was reversed, again, I didn't see the "Evangelical" camp stomp on the grave of the homosexual community or of progressives. But yet I saw the never ending stream of wailing posts by my "Progressive" friends. Again the "Evangelicals," the evil white, old men who are the puppet masters, crushing the passion of the next generation.
I think that this is a really complicated issue, to say the least. But painting the other side as straw men, dehumanizing them, and then freaking out about the freshly minted caricature is not helpful to move the ball forward, for whatever camp you are coming from.
It has to be ok to have a conviction and to stick to it. Not wanting to support an organization that doesn't align with your worldview, theology, and values is what everyone of us does with every group we give our time and money too. So when "Evangelicals" wrestle with wanting to continue to support an organization that no longer shares some of their theological values, and choose to spend that money somewhere else, is not the end of the world. It doesn't mean that "Evangelicals" hate gay people and don't care about the poor.
NOAH: THE MOVIE:
In a similar vein to the World Vision chaos, there seems to be endless posts and tweets from "Progressives" blowing up those close-minded "Evangelicals" for not wanting to support the movie Noah. Again, everything I have read has been a relatively small group of blogs and tweets by some conservative news outlets and a couple of unknown "Christian Leaders" who have said that they don't think that the movie Noah jives with their biblical world view.
Then the parade of blog posts lambasting "Evangelicals" for their lack of support. While the World Vision episode was full of bitterness, disdain, and even hatred, the Noah posts are full of patronizing laments like, "Christians are just too mad, too offended, to hurt about too many things these days. Where is the grace, the love the hope? So maybe this is not a great movie - I don't know. But do we always have to act like this? Do we have such little trust in our own Good News?"
Again, not supporting organizations or movies that don't align with our values, worldview, or theology has to be ok. Pointing out how culture, movies, and even organizations are no longer in line with those values, worldview, or theology is not a matter of hatred, not a lack of grace, nor a lack of trust in the Good News.
WE LIVE IN A PLURALISTIC COUNTRY:
Pluralistic. This is "a situation in which people of different social classes, religions, races, etc., are together in a society but continue to have their different traditions and interests." This is the world in which we live. And in recent history it has not been the "Evangelicals" who have been trying to have the rest of the country adhere to their particular traditions, interests, and beliefs.
I am sad that the religious right over played their hand in during the Alamo of the cultural wars, but that was twenty years ago. For the past decade it has been the Progressives who have won just about every battle culturally, but who have forgotten that we indeed do live in a pluralistic country.
If we are going to have any hope of unity as a Christian community, let along a country, then we must make space for others to disagree and dissent. And if "Evangelicals" no longer want to support financially media and organizations that don't fit with their traditions or interests, then that has to be ok. That is the complete opposite of the ways "Evangelicals" have been portrayed this week.
I long for there to be Christian unity, and this only happens when there is humility for the weaker brother. We all think we are the stronger brother, but maybe we are all the weaker brother. And in that case whether you are the stronger "Progressive" or the stronger "Evangelical," may you be willing to give a little of your freedom and give grace in your words, arguments, Facebook posts and tweets, to me as the weaker brother.