Have you ever been concerned about being misunderstood? We’ve all been there in a variety of contexts. But this is one reason many people struggle to relate with neighbors who see moral issues differently. For some Christians, this is most evident in their hesitancy to engage people in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. How do we maintain our moral convictions without ambiguity while obeying what Jesus’ described as the second greatest commandment—to love our neighbors as we love ourselves?
On an episode of the Table Podcast, Darrell Bock, Mark Yarhouse and Gary Barnes discussed the challenge of relating well to people while simultaneously holding to your Christian principles without compromise. In this video clip, Dr. Yarhouse explains the need for convicted civility, focusing on the relational aspect of cultural engagement in the context of conversations with the LBGT community. He says:
“We have far too many Christians who are strong on convictions, but you wouldn’t really want them to represent you in any public way because…they do it (in a way that is) not very civil in its engagement and loving and caring for the other person. Then you have Christians who are so civil, so loving, so caring, that you have no idea what they stand for. So there’s this tension that you want to live out.”
How do we strike a balance? Check out Dr. Yarhouse’s story about how personally inviting a protester to his presentation broke down stereotypes and led to meaningful conversation. This is one example of what convicted civility looks like:
Interestingly, the protestor in this case received more push-back from the LGBT community than he did from a Christian community that embraced him. Dr. Yarhouse says, “That gave him pause…That’s part of what convicted civility does. It’s really relational. But it’s not like I changed my theological position in interacting with these folks.”
As the protestor realized, relating to people on the basis of love may cause those who disagree with us on moral issues to stop and listen. They may come to recognize that Christians offer something more than what the world demands= tolerance and agreement. They offer that which is truly needed- the love of Christ.
Listen to the rest of this podcast: Engaging with LGBT Persons