City that Breeds Family, something happened last week that has left me sad, frustrated, and pondering the state of discourse in our culture. To be clear, I ain’t takin’ sides. I’m pissed at both camps. Everyone involved is behaving like immature jerks.
The issue that has me so fired up is the conversation that has emerged after Louie Giglio was invited to give the invocation at Obama’s inauguration, accepted, but then rescinded his acceptance after comments he made about homosexual advocacy twenty years ago surfaced. I’m not going to get into all the ins and outs. If you want more details and perspectives on the story I recommend you go look here, here, here, and here.
What I am going to do is explain to why this small event has caused me to mourn for our culture.
First, let’s jump back to when the comments were made. It is the early 90′s. After 12 years of conservative, republican, Christian leadership in the White House, Bill Clinton was about to be elected. “Will and Grace” had not yet brought homosexuality to prime time sitcom world. No states had legalized homosexual marriage. Coretta Scott King had not yet called on civil rights advocacy communities to take up the struggle against homophobia, and there were still laws forbidding sodomy in Texas (ETM: still a few on the books in Maryland!). This was the pinnacle of influence for voices like Jerry Falwell and James Dobson. Homosexual advocates were underdogs, fighting and scrapping for every shred of respect they could get.
Louie Giglio was in his early 30′s, finishing his doctorate work at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. He spoke once a week at a popular bible study for college students named Choice. In a talk during that time Louie Giglio made aggressive statements about homosexual advocacy that I have no doubt were hurtful to many.
Now before you get your feathers all ruffled at me, I’m not saying Louie Giglio didn’t have the right to say what he said. He did. We have free speech. He had a right to express his opinion. But what Christians in America need to learn is that just because they have the right to share their thoughts, doesn’t mean they should.
You see, what Giglio said in the early 90′s was not risky. It was not dangerous. It was not daring. He was living and working in a extremely safe Christian bubble, picking on an underdog advocacy group he didn’t agree with. In that moment he looked nothing like Jesus.
Let me be clear. Christians, when you use your influence to speak out against worldviews you don’t agree with, you don’t look like Jesus.
Christian on Christian criticism – totally different beast. Go for it.
Battling injustice, defending the helpless, fighting for the rights of the oppressed – also a different monster. Yes. Please do this.
Calling out behaviors you disagree with in the context of personal relationship – fine. Not the same as what Giglio did in the early 90′s.
Christians believe Jesus is the crucified God, the almighty creator who died in service to humanity. When a Jesus follower finds himself/herself in a position of power, the imitation of Jesus demands you immediately put yourself into a position of extreme humility and service. This was the example Jesus set for his followers in the Gospel of John (see chapter 13). If you want to be like Jesus, dress like a slave and start washing other people’s dirty, nasty, muddy, sandal-stank feet. I see no circumstances in which the public declaration of how you believe someone else’s world view to be wrong in line with the imitation of Jesus’ understanding of power and influence.
So to all you Christians out there coming to the defense of Giglio’s twenty-year old statement – stop it. You look nothing like Jesus when you do this.
Now let’s jump to the present and I will explain why the other side of this public discourse is also pissing me off.
Homosexual advocacy has taken huge strides and is now a major player in culture. It is rare that popular sitcoms don’t have at least one homosexual character, nine states have legalized homosexual marriage, and homophobia is on the decline.
Louie Giglio will turn 55 this year and he has come along way since Waco, Texas. In the past twenty years he has founded the Passion movement and changed American spirituality forever. I’m not exaggerating. When future historians look back on religion and spirituality in America they will have to take into account the effect of Passion conferences and Sixsteps Records had on a generation. Over the past decade Giglio’s Passion organization has not simply been holding big gatherings for Christians. They have led the way in fighting injustice and poverty. Most recently they are spearheading efforts to end human trafficking in the world.
It appears that since that day twenty years ago, Giglio has not spoken publicly about homosexual advocacy.
So to those who were offended by Louie Giglio’s twenty-year old statements and called for his removal from the inauguration my question is: what are the statute of limitations on public discourse in the digital age? At what point do Giglio’s amazing present works against global injustices outweigh his past sins?
To be clear, I’m not defending his beliefs or his past statements. Nor am I saying you shouldn’t call him out on ways you disagree with his worldview.
Calling for the Obama administration to have Giglio step down because you disagree with his worldview and therefore don’t think he should participate in the national inauguration - fantastic. If you believe his stance on your worldview outweighs the reasons he was chosen to give the invocation – great. Launch that debate. Have the discussion on those grounds. That is completely different beast than seeking to embarrass the man with a quote from twenty years ago.
The Internet makes things eternal that shouldn’t be. Politics change, nations rise and fall, people remake themselves over and over – but Youtube videos are forever. It makes me sad that a man who is fighting to end injustice in the world cannot be honored for his work because of something he said when he was young and just getting his career started. I find it extremely disappointing that a man who has built something incredibly positive would be attacked for a statement he made two decades ago.
As I said to the Christians above, you have every right to disagree with Giglio’s views. But just because you can find dirt from someone’s past and fling it at them, doesn’t mean you should.
So to all you Christians out there screaming about first amendment rights and claiming to be persecuted – stop it. You’re embarrassing yourselves.
To those who used a twenty-year old quote to bash Giglio and pressure him to step down from the inauguration, shame on you.
It seems to me we all need to treat one another better with more grace, kindness, and mercy.
Filed under: Politics