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Friday, January 11, 2013

Grieved by Controversy (Again)

My heart is grieved over the controversy that has surfaced this week surrounding Louie Giglio's withdrawal from praying at President Obama's inauguration. (Before I go on, let me emphasize that I have a great deal of respect for both men.) As with the Chick-fil-A controversy last summer, I feel that both sides are taking a poor approach to this situation.

I think it's clear in the message Mr. Giglio posted on his blog yesterday that he is not interested in stirring up or perpetuating controversy over the matter. I don't believe anyone who listens to any of his recent messages could deduce from them that he has the slightest interest in pushing any sort of anti-gay agenda, or that he even holds such an agenda. In fact, as someone who has become familiar with his messages over the past year, I would say there is not a fiber in my being that believes he feels anything less than love & compassion toward the gay community or any other corner of humanity. Throwing stones at someone for something said 15-20 years ago is completely unproductive. Is there really any person alive today who hasn't said something in so many years that they might have said differently, or not at all, if they could do it over again? Is there anyone whose priorities haven't changed over a time span of two decades in such a way that they might have chosen to speak of something they see as more important now than whatever they spoke of then? I certainly cannot claim either of these things, even over the course of the past TWO years, much less 15-20. It is one thing to hold a belief; it is another thing to promote an agenda. And Louie Giglio has not been pushing an anti-gay agenda. Period.

On the flip side, I'm honestly far more devastated and repulsed by sentiments I've seen circulating in Christian circles along the lines of, "I stand with Louie Giglio!" noting that he is "under fire for Biblical beliefs." I wouldn't be surprised if Mr. Giglio himself was horrified at such responses, seeing as they completely miss the entire point of the message of love and grace he and his church seek to extend to the world around them, regardless of race, gender, status, or sexual orientation. When will we as the church stop erecting walls between ourselves and those who hold different views and instead start building bridges so as to extend the love and grace we've received from God to those around us? Hopefully I've made it clear that I don't believe Mr. Giglio is deserving of the criticism he's received; however, God's call to us as Christians has pretty much nothing to do with fighting for our rights or protecting a faith-based subculture. He calls us to be a blessing to the world around us. He calls us to die to our selves and to represent His Kingdom even amid the brokenness on this earth. He calls us to seek peace and pursue it. How are our indignant reactions to this situation accomplishing any of this?? They aren't. They just aren't.

I'm always hesitant to publicly address events like this, but I feel compelled to speak up when the rhetoric over this situation is far more damaging than edifying to the message of the good news of God's Kingdom. I hope you'll take time to watch the video below. The quality is not great, and it is lengthy, but it will give you a glimpse of Louie Giglio's heart as well as some insight into how we as Christians might respond to people who don't understand us or share our views. I pray that our responses to the current controversy might begin to be marked by love, grace, humility, and forgiveness rather than pride, bitterness, hatred, and self-righteousness.

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