Meditating on the Inaugural Benediction Controversy, Gigliogate
Today in my email inbox I received a note from a pastor and friend telling me about the disinviting of Louis Giglio to give the benediction at President Obama's inauguration and an article written in response speaking of a rising McCarthyism in our society, exposing a non-tolerant form of public square censorship especially against positions tied to the Christian faith.
I agree that this disinvitation says much about where we are as an open society. (Read not as open as we think and often pride ourselves as being as a society). That someone can take a view that everyone knows is debated and be struck off a list because of something said on that topic fifteen years ago shows we are not as mature as we think. That this can take place despite a lot of other clear good he is doing in fighting things like human trafficking (the original reason he was asked to pray) indicates we risk becoming a country where we do not discuss and debate issues. Rather we bully one another. If we are really committed to praising diversity in our society at events that celebrate all of what is America then should not gays and those who question such practices both participate? Have the tables merely flipped in our country and neither side has learned anything about how to function side by side at public events where we celebrate who we all are as a nation?
This last observation takes me to my bigger point. What this shifting of the ground also shows is that Judeo-Christian morality and the faith that is often treated with hostility because of it is becoming an increasingly minority view in our culture. This is not really news; it has been going on for decades (since at least the sixties, if not before). My point is that Christians need to learn this, not be surprised by it, and learn to live and respond accordingly (not with shock or disappointment, but with an understanding that it may well often come with the territory). Our sense of cultural mandate that takes us to complaining may not be quite so biblical. The first Christians of the Roman Empire lived in such a world where they were such a minroity in terms of not worshipping the many gods of Rome that they were called atheists. Many Christians around the world in other countries have lived in such a minority status world for a long time. Many have never known anything else. They knew and know what it is to live in such a context. They do not complain about it. They simply carry out their misison to faithfully live out their faith and trust God in the face of opposition while attempting to be as faithful to the calling as they can be. Maybe it would help us to talk less about them, and think more about us and how we are to live.
I suspect why I am so sensitive to this need to shift the way we engage and think about engaging is because I have spent the last month in Matthew 10 as I am writing a commentary on that gospel. Here Jesus sends disciples out on the mission to proclaim and live out the gospel. He does so knowing full well they will face opposition--and tells them so as preparation for what they will face. He calls them to trust God for what will take place, even though some of them will be beaten and some will die for their faith. I suspect there are Christians in other parts of the world who can help us see this other way of doing our business. We might pause and learn from them. I guess what I am saying is we need to live more faithfully, serve more diligently, preach more consistently, and whine far less.