Virtual Voices

Speak truth in love

Religion

I have two conflicting thoughts when I read about efforts like the "Outlaw Preachers," a group of pastors who are reaching out to those they believe have been marginalized or ostracized by more mainstream churches. The conflict between these thoughts mirrors the conflict between modern factions battling within many American churches, the latest in a long history of splintering that in some ways must define American Protestantism just as much as Bible studies and missionary work.

On the one hand, there is the reality that many people who find themselves ostracized from Christian churches do so for good reason, namely that the Church is the handmaiden of both Scripture and dogma, and is therefore not in the business of redefining itself to suit the sensibilities of those who take issue with one or both.

On the other hand, Christ Himself reached out to the ostracized, to the broken and lost. The God-man lingered among whores and tax collectors, which must surely give pause to anyone who feels comfortable deciding who will stay in the temple, who will be cast out, and who will simply be looked down on.

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We have to act in love, and yet we have to affirm the dogma of the Church, or else we exchange timeless truth for the shifting vicissitudes of a social club. In other words, there has to be an answer to homosexuals in churches that lies somewhere between the Scripture-defying embrace of same-sex marriage in one camp and outright hatred disguised as holiness in the camp that lies at the other extreme.

Perhaps the answer even lies within Scriptures and the Church, in the understanding that speaking truth in love demands neither the former nor the latter be merely a patina. I think too often we see these schisms where there are people whose love is so personal (bound up in how they want to be perceived and embraced by others) that they therefore cannot abide speaking painful truths, or where people have so little love that speaking truth becomes a cover for spewing venom. Neither serves Christ or the lost very well.

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