imbroglio, indeed.

mjkimpan  —  January 11, 2013 — 9 Comments

yesterday the internet exploded with louie giglio’s ‘change of plans‘ as he respectfully withdrew his acceptance to lead the benediction at the president’s inauguration.

ThinkProgress and others demanded the withdrawal in days past, as a sermon surfaced from the 1990’s in which he advocated for dangerous ‘reparative therapy’ for gay and lesbian people and impelled christians to ‘firmly respond to the aggressive agenda’ to prevent the ‘homosexual lifestyle’ from becoming accepted in society.

for those who want a detailed breakdown of the past 72 hours of controversy, click here.

addie whisenant of the Presidential Inaugural Committee responded to giglio’s bowing out in a statement, saying ::

‘We were not aware of Pastor Giglio’s past comments at the time of his selection, and they don’t reflect our desire to celebrate the strength and diversity of our country at this inagural… 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.’

adding a helpful voice to the conversation, andrew marin rightly pointed out yesterday that rather than circling the wagons to protect our point of view, or ensuring that one must first be ‘on our side’ in order to create peaceful and productive dialogue,

We instead need to start focusing our full political and religious efforts on building bridges over building armies. This doesn’t mean that at the end of the day we all need to agree. This also doesn’t mean that folks do not have a strong conviction by what compels their work, actions, beliefs and faith practices. It does mean that we must be bold individuals of reconciliation, who live in the tension, and refuse to allow hate, disagreements or past experiences cause irrevocable division in any community. If such things do cause irrevocable divisions, that is squarely on us.

yet irrevocable divisions seem to be precisely what is taking place.

blogger/researcher ed stetzer highlighted these divisions with a pie chart to emphasize the nearly 50/50 split in our country on the closed-ended, yes or no question ‘Do you believe homosexuality is a sin?’ and included more research later in the day saying the same thing.

SBC heavy-hitter al mohler quickly posted an article entitled – The Giglio Imbroglio :: The Public Inaguration of a New Moral McCarthyism.

cute title.

<it means :: an extremely confused, complicated, or embarrassing situation: as in, ‘the Watergate imbroglio.’ i looked it up.>

there were a few other clever names floating around the inter webs ::Giglio gate, L’Affaire Giglio, or Deuce Bigalow, Male Giglio to name a few.

but i digress.

as one might expect, mohler likened the ‘imbroglio’ as he called it (multiple times, in fact) to the infamous McCarthy hearings, in which witnesses were asked if they were or had ever been a member of the communist party, concluding ‘There is nowhere to hide.’

declaring evolution on homosexuality is ‘precisely what biblical Christians cannot do,’ mohler (and countless others) drove their wedges deeper, drawing an ever-increasingly-fierce line in the sand.

one blogger even called taking this stand against gay relationships ‘the quintessential Christian Gospel.’

words like ‘marginalized’ and ‘neandrathalized’ and ‘persecuted’ were peppered throughout social media.

again, i ask – are we insane?

as andrew said yesterday,

there is a need for our leadership in both politics and religion to tirelessly work ‘to bring peace in spaces that cause so much division – as unfortunately now a precedent has been set to remove people amongst pressure from those who don’t agree.’

but for the evangelical community to cry ‘foul!’ seems at best hypocritical.

my friend jimmy spencer, jr. suggested via facebook, ‘Can Evangelicals imagine they’re simply reaping what they’ve sown w/ #Giglio events? Shoe’s just on the other foot now.’

the shoe is on the other foot, indeed. as our culture changes to a post-modern, pluralistic and even post-evangelical divided united states of america, the accepted medium of engagement between opposing worldviews is to essentially excommunicate those with whom we disagree.

it seems a bit odd that both sides of this conversation are fighting for their own inclusion in the marketplace of ideas, while simultaneously fighting against the acceptance of the Other.

if our job as jesus people is to be ambassadors of reconciliation then we must be willing to enter peaceful and productive dialogue with those with whom we disagree rather than retreating to foxholes filled with the faithful to our own preferred perspective.

particularly in a conversation most often characterized by polarizing, back-and-forth, win-lose || us-them || right-wrong || in-out rhetoric, we must commit to setting aside our convictions about secondary issues and get about the primary work of helping people see God’s unconditional love.

while the easier path would be to try to persuade people to convert to a particular worldview or way of thinking about the gay community, i am convinced the better way – the narrow path – the way of jesus – is to treat all people with dignity and respect – no matter their theological position.

again, we can’t demand someone change what they believe – but we should expect change in how we behave toward one another.

perhaps that begins with a posture of humility, and the possibility that God may be up to something greater than our firm positions on sexuality.

perhaps this inaugural ‘imbroglio’ can serve as a catalyst to push each of us toward a commitment to a better way of engaging – to building bridges rather than armies, to finding respectful language and a true desire for tolerance toward more views than just our own and a promise to create safe and sacred spaces which passionately promote peaceful and productive dialogue rather than a pontification of our preferred perspectives.

an imbroglio, indeed.

what do you think?

  • tyler.helfers

    I completely agree with your diagnosis: we should treat everyone with dignity and respect, regardless of belief. [This is a central tenant of my own theological tradition (Reformed), and evident in things such as the writings of Abraham Kuyper and the Belhar Confession, written in response to Apartheid in South Africa.] Yet, doing so does not require the invocation of “the way of Jesus.” Some of Jesus’ views would be categorized as polarizing/right-wrong/in-out. And I think He’s quite entitled to this, being that He was and is the Son of God, and the rightful King. Kuyper makes a helpful point in one of his Princeton lectures, explaining that such dignity for all human life flows out from our understanding that we are all creations of the Lord God. I think this would provide a better foundation for bringing people of opposing viewpoints together.

    However, I’ve come to believe that something else must happen too: We need a better understanding of philosophy, logic, and worldview. I don’t think enough people understand how these things relate to one another, and how they impact the way we relate to other people. At the end of the day, the relationship between logic and worldview demands that we understand one side is right and the other is, necessarily, wrong. Yet, the challenge before us is to find healthy, dignified, informed ways of engaging the issue(s), as well as one another, and, by the grace of God, come to a better understanding of what is true.

    Thank God, that through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, all of us sinners may receive redemption from our sin and restoration with God! Thanks for work you do to provoke people to think and change the way we live. Sorry I didn’t get a chance to meet up with you before you moved (and congrats on your engagement!).

    • thanks tyler! i especially appreciate your point about kuyper’s emphasis on the imago dei of all people – a critical component of weaning off our addiction to demonize and dehumanize those with whom we disagree.

  • Great post. I comment from a gay Christian perspective…it saddens me that this guy felt he had to step down, because of the work he does against human trafficking and the focus that could have been drawn to the issue simply from the exposure. I’m not really angry one way or the other…I’m just sad about the whole thing.

    You (and Tyler) mentioned division in our country, in our churches, etc. I highly recommend a book called “American Nations” by Colin Woodard. It shows the history of how the U.S. was formed by a diversity of (mostly) theists of many denominations, beliefs, and philosophical worldviews. It has given me a historical context understand why we remain so divided today.

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