Thoughts on the Day of Silence

Today, in case you were unaware, is the “National Day of Silence” a day sponsored by groups within the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) to promote tolerance and call attention to discrimination against those within the LBGT community. There was an article addressing the day in today’s edition of the Daily Kent Stater that got me thinking about the whole thing.

I’ve read of several Christian groups who are calling for parents to keep their kids home from school that day. One group has even started a counter-event encouraging students to speak against the “homosexual agenda” in what they call the Day of Truth, conveniently scheduled the following Monday after the Day of Silence.

I will personally be participating in neither of these two events, although I have friends who have and are currently participating in the Day of Silence. And I admire them for their willingness to put themselves out there publically to face criticism and ridicule on behalf of a cause they feel so strongly about. Many of them are not even members of the LGBT community; they have friends who are or are tired of discrimination against humans. I would be surprised to see a similar endeavor taken upon by most members of the Christian community on behalf of Christ or his cause. Too often I see people standing up for causes in such a bold way as to put Christians to shame. After all, if we truly believe we have the truth, if we really actually comprehend the magnitude of what it is we possess, we should be doing far more than what we are doing now.

Ask twenty different Christians what the proper response to the Day of Silence and homosexuality should be, and you’ll probably get twenty different answers. Ask James Dobson, and he’ll probably tell you we need to petition our government for a strict and conservative definition of marriage in its sacred sense. Ask Jim Wallis or some other progressive, and you’ll get a completely different answer. So what is the “”Christian”” thing to do (again, the use of the adjective form of the word is unfortunate, albeit necessary in this case).

I am tired of hearing about this whole issue in terms of a “culture war.” As if we are pitted in some life and death battle against the homosexuals and the liberals and the feminists who are standing behind the doors of our public schools just waiting to devour our innocent children with their humanistic philosophies. As if Christians have controlled the American way of life for the past two centuries and now we are losing ground as the “forces of evil” are on the march. As if America and the “American way of life” is wrapped up in a Christian belief system. Christianity survives with or without America. Unfortunately it seems many Christians have forgotten that.

The whole metaphor of a “culture war” tends toward a conflict viewpoint on the way we interact with society. We have adopted an “us vs. them” outlook on society, as if anyone outside of the fold is automatically an enemy. And I think this plays out in how we approach an issue such as homosexuality in America.

If we adopt a “culture war” viewpoint on America, then we are going to feel as if we must fight against anything that might threaten this pastoral picture we have of the perfect American Christian society. The concept that our family values are “under attack” by the implied enemy – homosexuals. Such a viewpoint naturally tends toward an (albeit extreme) response by folks such as the Westboro Baptist Church – the tendency to adopt the superiority complex of having God “on our side.” A response such as the Day of Truth, while not nearly as extreme as those that Westboro chooses, has a similar connotation. The “us vs. them, we have to protect our children from bloodsucking liberals” stance, a stance which, I believe, does more damage to the name and cause of Christ than any legislation in favor of homosexual marriage.

So in response to a day in which the complex issue of homosexuality is all around us, what is the proper response? Do we protest the protest, wear t-shirts and pass out cards with information? Or is there something else we can do?

I think we should embrace the protesters and their efforts and willingness to stand for what they believe in. Most, you may find, are not actually members of the LGBT community; they are people who are concerned with human rights and the protection and empowerment of human life against discrimination in America, a supposedly “free” country. They are protesting and drawing attention to the harassment, abuse, and murder of several members of the gay community, the most recent being that of fifteen year old Lawrence King, show because he admitted to being gay.

I will not go into the debate about whether or not homosexuality is a choice or a nature; that is another, quite lengthy post. I will say that as a follower of Christ, I feel that it is my responsibility to engage people, not enrage them. Political protest has its place; this is not that place. An issue as sensitive as this, and an issue the Church has continued to fail in, needs to be addressed with understanding and compassion, not picket signs and words on condemnation.

The whole thing reminds me of the story where Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well. Ironic (and perhaps intentional) that the woman was a Samaritan, a member of a group of people who had been out casted from mainstream society because of their origins. Jesus does not condemn her, he interacts with her. The very fact that he was talking to her spoke volumes of what he thought about her, because in that time it was unthinkable for a Jew to speak to a Samaritan, especially a woman. I find it interesting that Christ first offered her the “living water” of God before he ever even mentioned her sinful lifestyle.

If we, as followers of Christ, are supposed to emulate the life, teachings, and actions of Christ, why do we condemn before we offer a hand in love? Why are the first words to come out of our mouths words of judgment and not of acceptance?

Today is the Day of Silence for the LGBT community. It should also be a day of silence for the Christian community – silence in contemplation for our past sins, and silence for the condemning words that too often come from our mouths and hearts.

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