“The world will see the gospel when we are people with both a high view of truth and tender hearts toward all people.”
Possibly one of the universal experiences of living outside of one’s home country is a broader perspective on hot button issues. When election season comes around or new laws are passed about controversial issues, those of us who haven’t always been right in the middle of things (geographically) don’t have as much of that “us versus them” mentality. From abroad, we see the nuance of both sides more clearly. We can see that neither side is completely in the right nor is either side entirely wrong.
This is where I’ve felt most tension with my home country and culture since my cross-cultural life began. It is especially hard when it involves the church – and that is often on issues of sexuality. Instead of ministering to the world from the unity we all have in Christ, Christians on one side (either side) of an issue begin seeing Christians on the other side as their enemies. And it’s harder to navigate when both sides can cite God’s truth in the Bible as the source for their stance on the issue and accuse the other of misinterpreting or even twisting the Bible to suit an agenda.
In this week’s reading of Rethinking Sexuality (chapter 10 specifically), Dr. Slattery describes how we usually see truth and love as a binary. But it’s a false binary. We don’t have to, and shouldn’t, sacrifice either truth or love in favor of the other. God calls us to hold both in hand at once, as Jesus did. While the concept sounds nice, we don’t often see it worked out in practical ways.
Dr Slattery wrote, “…you likely tend toward either rejecting people and affirming truth or else loving people and ignoring truth.” And “It’s impossible to be humble toward God and ignore His truth. It’s equally impossible to be humble toward other people yet unloving.” Humility is the key to living this out.
Humility is difficult. As C.S. Lewis said, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” This is hard for everyone. Whether a follower of Jesus holds to traditional Christian teaching on sexuality or not, it is hard to regard the “other side” in humility. “We” know the truth. “They” must be deluded, misguided, brainwashed! How should brothers and sisters in Christ navigate this? Is one side totally right and the other side completely wrong about God’s truth? Can we walk in the light we have, believe the truth that God has revealed to us in the Bible, and actively love each other? AND reach out to a hurting word with the truth that Jesus really does love them?
These questions bring to mind The Gospel Comes with a House Key by Rosaria Butterfield. This was not a book club book, but I recommend it for your personal reading! Rosaria Butterfield describes how ordinary, loving hospitality drew her to Christ, and how she uses the same to serve those around her. Through hospitality, she loves people that she disagrees with on important issues (and she mentions specifically issues of sexuality). When the time comes, she is not hesitant to share the truth, even when it is contrary to what the other person believes. In her book, she tells many personal stories that demonstrate truth and love working together.
Dr. Slattery gives 4 steps for humbling ourselves, but for me the story of Lori and Courtney illustrating truth and love in relationship spoke more loudly. Lori is quoted as saying, “Grace is best shown and truth is best spoken.”
How have you navigated holding truth and love simultaneously? What did you make of Part 3 of Rethinking Sexuality (this part covered natural selves vs spiritual selves and public vs private selves, as well as truth vs love)? What stood out to you? What are you wrestling with?
P.S. For further reading on humility, I highly recommend Humble Roots by Hannah Anderson, which we read here in Book Club a few years ago.
We will finish up the book and discuss Part 4 next week!
In October we will be reading Jewel of the Nile by Tessa Afshar! Here’s a summary of the book: In this transformative tale of historical fiction, bestselling author Tessa Afshar brings to life the kingdom of Cush and the Roman Empire, introducing readers to a fascinating world filled with gripping adventure, touching romance, and a host of lovable characters—including some they may recognize from the biblical book of Acts.
Here’s the schedule:
October 5: Prologue – Ch 8
October 12: Ch 9 – Ch 17
October 19: Ch 18 – Ch 26
October 26: Ch 27 – Epilogue