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Editorial: A call for convicted civility

This is a time for Churches of Christ to state what the Bible teaches and stand by it. That’s the easy part. This also is a time for meaningful, respectful discussions with those who disagree with us.

The recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage highlights challenges that Christians in America have faced for decades. 

Three months before the ruling, Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tenn., hosted “Tough Topics of Youth Ministry: Sexual Identity, Sexual Abuse and Shame.” One keynoter was Mark Yarhouse, a psychology professor and author of “Understanding Sexual Identity: A Resource for Youth Ministry.” Yarhouse shared that he had adopted the philosophy of Richard J. Mouw, who served for 20 years as president of Fuller Theological Seminary in California.

“We have far too many Christians who are strong on conviction, but you wouldn’t want them representing you to the broader culture because they’re just mean-spirited people,” Yarhouse said, paraphrasing Mouw’s position, “but we also have far too many Christians who are so strong on civility you have no idea what they believe in.”

Striking this delicate balance — Mouw calls it “convicted civility” and Yarhouse adds compassion — is vital as we engage a culture that embraces lifestyles that Scripture reveals to us as against the will of God.

After the Supreme Court ruling, the leaders of many Churches of Christ read statements to their flocks stating their opposition to same-sex marriage. At the College Church of Christ in Searcy, Ark., that statement also encouraged Christians to recognize that no sinner is beyond redemption and that believers should treat members of the homosexual community with the same love and kindness that our heavenly Father showed us when he gave his only Son for our sins.

The College church elders concluded their statement with a prayer, and we join with them in their petition.

Our dear Heavenly Father, we come humbly before you to request your blessings on us as we face a difficult time in the history of the church and in the history of our nation. We ask you to give us wisdom, strength and courage to do — and stand firmly for — what is right, regardless of the consequences. Help us always remember that you have let us read the last chapter of human history which ends with the absolute victory of Jesus Christ and his church. 

the complete PRAYER, and see our previous coverage of the “Tough Topics in Youth Ministry” conference here and here.

Filed under: Editorial Opinion

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