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Hello fellow Christ follower! I wonder, had the OSJ communicated the statements you wish they had, what would be the desired result? What do you hope readers would feel, think, or do as a result of reading your ideal communication on this issue? Would they feel more shame? More fear? A greater desire to flock to the polls? Do you think reiterating that language helps Christians love each other more fully? I'm curious, so I hope you'll enlighten me. Thanks!

Many thanks to you all for this post! I agree that the way we approach conflict matters, and is a part of our witness just as the content of our beliefs matters. Indeed, our approach to conflict, whether intentionally or not, tells the rest of the world a lot about our personal beliefs!

Furthermore, though there are points of contention in the comments, I find much here we can (hopefully) agree on:

The doctrine of total depravity reminds us that we are all sinners, and so our systems, our institutions, and our very selves are imperfect, in need of Christ's redemptive work.

Christ calls us to act like him and follow his example, so we must approach conflict with humility and grace. We unworthy creatures, lifted up only by God's grace and Christ's sacrifice must endeavor to be servants to each other, striving to hold that attitude in everything we do, though we cannot do it perfectly. 

We are commanded by our Lord to love those whom we are in conflict with, something that must have sounded just as difficult to the first ears that heard it as it feels today. Nonetheless, we are called to love, and even given an example of what it looks like: Jesus laid down his life for us.

Thank you again for this message. I pray that in our disagreements, we may also remember the things we all hold to be true, and that Christ holds all things together.

Posted in: Third Way? Meh

As I read this post and the one from Christina Brinks Rea on the Better Together blog, I am more thankful for the hopeful and grace-filled posture in the latter. I can understand and have experienced feeling cynical about any kind of attempt at unity, especially since the cultural conflicts in our denomination are mirrored so completely in the broader political sphere. We are so good at staying divided! How could we come together now? What's more, how can we be "successful" at what we do if we can't decide what "success" really means to us? 

Yet, the final statements of the post really hit home. I recently heard the same message in a January Series talk about climate activism (an entirely different subject but also controversial): we are not called to be successful, but we are called to be faithful. I believe God is calling us to put down our weapons and get into the messy middle of disagreement. If we fight viciously until the war is over because the only people remaining in our community all agree on everything, have we succeeded in following our call? Alternatively, if we earnestly and generously engage with others, offering grace and space to each "team" and deliberately working towards coming together in the love of Christ and the power of the Spirit, and in the end we still end up going our separate ways, have we failed?

I could never claim to have certainty about what will happen or how this will all turn out in the end, except to be certain that I have way more questions than answers. But once again, I believe God never calls us to be certain about the road ahead, but rather asks that we remain faithful to him as we walk in it.

I have questions about what you mean by "LGBTQ+ ideology." Is this referring to a specific line of thought held by some persons regarding LGBTQ+ issues? Or do you believe that everyone who claims the label of lesbian, gay, bisexual, etc., must inherently hold to an ideology that supports all the same things and is consistent across the group?

Perhaps to your intended audience, your meaning is more clear, but I think that without further explanation in a fairly public forum it is confusing at best. Thank you for your time and for being willing to wrestle difficult issues.

Hi Eric,

Thank you for your thoughtful reply. I do agree with you that there is a prominent attitude like the one you describe which holds a lot of influence in society and popular culture. I don't deny that it exists, but I feel uneasy when I see Christians using overarching labels for it (another example I have seen is "the LGBTQ religion"), as it either leaves out or incorrectly labels those who may understand themselves to be gay or lesbian but don't fit into that broader narrative. Those individuals may get discouraged and feel that the church will not accept them no matter how they behave. But these are just my feelings and my speculation, and I do understand your point.

I wonder a lot of the same things you do, and resonated with your last two paragraphs as you considered the divide from both perspectives. I wonder too if they can truly ever work together. But I do believe it cannot happen if we misunderstand each other, and that it is important to be curious and generous as we engage with our fellow believers. Blessings to you.

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