By now many of you have heard that J.D. Greer, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, caused something of a stir a few days ago when in a podcast he urged Christians to lean toward “pronoun hospitality” in their dealings with those in the trans world who have been taught to demand that the whole world cater to their sensibilities.
Since that stir happened, there have been a few more developments on that front, and JD Greer has now endorsed the approach of Andrew Walker, an approach which was considerably more conservative than what Greer had initially sounded like. You can read more about all that here.
So I understand that this particular controversy is largely over. And yet I have a few things I would like to add. What to do? Now I understand that this is as though there was a bar fight in your town, the police broke it up, and then you went down there a few hours later to throw a few chairs.
But still. Whether this particular controversy is over, the whole situation that gave rise to it is by no means over—and Christians really need to get our thinking straight on this issue. And in order to do that we have to distinguish where we actually are from where a large number of people want to pretend we actually are.
A Matter of Evangelism
Whenever we interact with the world of unbelievers, we should always have evangelism on our heart and mind. But there are two very different contexts for evangelism, and those two contexts are called war and peace respectively.
Having a heart for evangelism must never be confused with the condition of not being able to tell the difference between war and peace.
Let us imagine a man who is a Christian and a cop. He is part of the riot control squad, and let us suppose further that he has in the past fulfilled his role in that job when some sexual deviance protest got out of hand. Now imagine this same man as living next door to a transsexual, one who has on occasion borrowed his lawn mower, and who is open to hearing the gospel. They have had some good talks, with a spirit of grace pervading. Should this cop’s prayers, and thoughts, and hopes, and concerns be for evangelism in both instances? Yes, certainly, of course. But his presentation is different, and is different by necessity.
Those who cannot make this very simple distinction are pacifists in principle, whether or not they think of themselves that way. They assume that if a Christian is ever in a situation where he opts for confrontation, then this must be because that Christian has abandoned all concern for evangelism. They assume that he must not love his enemies because he has some.
The problem with this assumption is that this is not what Jesus did, it is not found anywhere in Scripture, it is not the approach of the historic church, and it maketh no sense, man.
So Make a Basic Distinction
The world really is full of busted up people, and evangelical Christians have always been in the forefront of ministering to such people. We do not need to prove to anyone that our heart leans toward that kind of kindness. In reply to the secularist charge that we are hardhearted, I would point out (mildly) that we have founded countless hospitals, orphanages, homeless shelters, crisis pregnancy centers, urban missions, and we have done it by donating our own money and time. When you compare this to the secularist kind of generosity which funds its maladroit efforts to help the less fortunate by sending men with guns to collect back taxes from small business owners who are struggling to make it, you will perhaps pardon me if the odor of their self-congratulation does not smell as sweet to me as they think it ought to.
Evangelical believers have been working with the downtrodden for centuries. But as our discussion of this goes forward, please allow us to maintain a basic distinction that our faith teaches us, which is the distinction between helping the wrecked and applauding the wreckage.
Even when it comes to mercy ministry of the most basic kind—soup kitchens, rehab, homeless shelters—what would an experienced ministry think of a demand that we should start ministering to drunks by signing on to an Alcoholic Empowerment Campaign that insisted that the bums being helped had to be referred to as members of the Alternative Sobrieties community. “This may not be your sobriety, but it is the sobriety that they have chosen.”
The Pronoun Police
And this is what gets us to the point of the sexual madhouse we are currently trying to live in. The use of pronouns today is a deadly serious thing. It is not a matter of manners, or avoiding a faux pas. It is not a matter of showing courtesy to non-Christians. This is not about courtesy; rather, it is about coercion. It is not social graces; it is social engineering. We are having to stave off orc-talk.
So we are dealing with the Pronoun Police—and they are entirely willing to wreck your life and your livelihood over this issue. So this is not a matter of showing hospitality. That’s not the question. It is not a matter of showing grace. That is not it either. It is not a question of showing courtesy, or kindness. No. It is a question of courage.
I have hit this point a number of times over the years, and the truth of it—always self-evident—has only grown more self-evident as the years have gone by.
The Christian faith is under siege. Our dear city is surrounded, and Rabshakeh is riding around below the walls, taunting us.
In a time like this, when a high premium should be placed on courage, the pressure is on all our poohbahs and solons to figure out a path to compromise, and all while maintaining that it is a question of deep conviction. Hospitality is a good thing, right?
It is as though our riot control cop ran away because he got scared, and then tried to represent it as a concern for preserving a sharing and teachable moment with his neighbor.
Today’s Second Giveaway Deal
Because I had two NQN posts today, it may take a short while for Amazon’s Kindle to kick in on this one. But the giveaway deal will be my commentary on 1 Corinthians, which is entitled Partakers of Grace. I will provide a link here as soon as it is hot, so please check back.
As promised, here is the link.