I have intentionally never posted anything on social media about homosexuality, or really any hot-button issue. My reasons have been:
- I don’t want others, particularly my non-Christian friends, to think that I care more about them sharing my convictions on this issue than about them truly hearing the good news of Jesus. I am not a Christian because I naturally prefer biblical morals and ethics; rather, I am a Christian because of the beauty and sufficiency of the gospel of grace.
- I have friends and family members who identify as homosexual, and whom I love and appreciate. I want to keep these relationships. My fear is that by speaking publicly about my convictions on this issue, it will be assumed that disagreements over morals and lifestyle choices negates the love and value of these relationships.
- As with any hot-button issue, there is a tendency to lump all positions into two extreme caricatures, and not make an attempt to hear and understand more nuanced position (which I think most of us hold). As I take a more conservative position, I fear being lumped into the Westboro Baptist, bigoted, narrow-minded caricature, the type that doesn’t want anything to do with homosexuals, or those who support them.
- Lastly, Christians have rightly been guilty of elevating homosexuality as a worse sin than others, even other sexual sins. By speaking publicly into this issue, I don’t want to appear to be “planking” in a biblical sense (see Matthew 7), highlighting the sin in others’ lives while ignoring or downplaying the sin in my own life.
However, I am realizing that there are lots of good reasons TO discuss issues like this in a public forum like Facebook:
- People who are going to lump you into an extreme caricature of a position are going to do so whether or not you publicly communicate your position. Communicating your position actually allows you to clarify how you don’t fit the caricature.
- While most of my concerns have to do with how I’ll be perceived by my non-Christian friends, I’m realizing that I also have a responsibility to my Christian friends (especially as a pastor), to both clarify a biblically-faithful position, and (just as importantly) to display how to lovingly engage those who disagree with you. If we don’t give examples of passionate conviction existing alongside love and respect, people begin to believe (if the media and politics have anything to say about it) that the two can’t coexist. I don’t want a world like that.
- While I have no grand illusions about people’s minds being changed by Facebook arguments, most of us are daily encountering hundreds, if not thousands, of claims to truth and descriptions of various worldviews. And we are not totally unaffected by these, even if we are only reading headlines! While I feel like by posting articles and writing blogs I am only adding to the already overwhelming noise, the truth is that the noise is not neutral, and a Christian witness adds value, even if it also turns up the maddening volume.
- While I would prefer to have conversations about hot-button issues like this in person, where love and respect is more easily displayed in the midst of disagreement (Facebook, can we get a “disagree but still love you” button?), I don’t think the conversations in other non face-to-face forums are replacing these in-person conversations. I actually have found the online conversation to spark numerous in-person conversations that have been very fruitful.
The world of social media that we live in is new and complex, and we’re all trying to figure out how to deal with it. I understand those who choose to reject it altogether, and are not on Facebook or Twitter. It can easily consume you. However, I also believe it can be used for good. This is an attempt to formulate my approach and role with social media.
On the topic of homosexuality, especially with all the current hubris regarding Jen Hatmaker, I highly recommend the following article and its reading suggestions, especially Rosaria Butterfield.