Being "right" isn't enough

Pearlie referred me to this Christianity Today article titled:

Brian McLaren on the Homosexual Question:
Finding a Pastoral Response

The article speaks about Brian's conversation with a young couple wanting to know about the church and homosexuality. Here is an excerpt that I loved from the article:
I hesitate in answering "the homosexual question" not because I'm a cowardly flip-flopper who wants to tickle ears, but because I am a pastor, and pastors have learned from Jesus that there is more to answering a question than being right or even honest: we must also be . . . pastoral. That means understanding the question beneath the question, the need or fear or hope or assumption that motivates the question.

We pastors want to frame our answer around that need; we want to fit in with the Holy Spirit's work in that person's life at that particular moment. To put it biblically, we want to be sure our answers are "seasoned with salt" and appropriate to "the need of the moment" (Col. 4; Eph. 4).
Brian ends the brief article speaking about how we should dialog with people that ask us questions:
Being "right" isn't enough. We also need to be wise. And loving. And patient. Perhaps nothing short of that should "seem good to the Holy Spirit and us."
I think that we, more times than not, shut down conversation when we believe that we are "right". Regardless of the topic.. ultimate gracers often shut down the dialog.. as do Calvinists.. Arminians.. Evangelicals.. all kind of ISM followers simply are uncomfortable with framing the dialog in terms that are not right or wrong. I encourage you to read the article.. it is very short. I am with Brian on this one.. then again I am a pastor :)


  1. In principle it makes sense. But I think it makes sense only when you are not in a position to fully affirm homosexuality as a component of humanity with equal regard to heterosexuality. It makes sense for people who are either adamantly opposed to it or confused about it to take the pastoral position of being humble enough not to outright reject anyone in order to be "right". But if you are of the persuasion to both welcome and affirm, then this position seems to me unnecessary.

  2. I think I'm with Drew on this. I think he's saying this position only makes sense when you are apposed to homosexuality as a sin. Only then must you wrestle with balancing your convictions with compassion.

    If your conviction is that homosexuality is equal to heterosexuality, having compassion is no problem. In other words, it's easy to have compassion on someone who you don't see as in sin. It's the sinners that are hard to treat with compassion.

    Part of being compassion ate is being honest about yuor convictions. You can do that without beating them over the head with it and without judging their worth.

  3. Bob,
    I think I would disagree with the previous comments. I can totally see the point that Brian is making here.
    Let me first state that I am not a proponent of homosexuality at all.
    I don't think it is "correct" and I honestly don't know how I would feel if one of my kids ended up in that lifestyle.
    That said, I don't see homosexuality as any different than any other sin. Just having the tendency to have those desires is just a person's weakness.
    I have a problem with people labeling others as " sinners" . Honestly, I have never met a person who didn't have some sin and weakness in their own life. I Believe that when we can so easily call someone else on their sin, we are committing a sin.
    So ....
    Na na na na ..
    So .. There!!!


  4. It sure is counter cultural to oppose it. I was asked by a woman if she needed to quit living with her boyfriend in order to follow Jesus. I said yes. She did, and they both came to the Lord.

  5. Thanks for the comments everyone!

    I think that the point McLaren makes is that we can have a strong theology around homosexuality and not have to alienate people by putting our theology in their face. As we encounter people we need to hear from the Spirit and minister to folks where they are.

    John (the pilot) is a good example of how to respond.. of course John is my friend and I know of few people who are as pastoral as John.. when he answered that gal he spoke the truth in love.. it was was she needed spoken in a manner in which she could receive.

    I think that this is what McLaren is addressing.. truth can either be used as a scalpel or a sword.. both are sharp instruments yet only one is used to heal.

  6. Thanks for sharing this. The topic comes up often for me and I like what Brian had to say here.

  7. I think there's a difference between speaking with a fellow-Christ follower vs. speaking with someone who has yet to come to the Lord.

    When you're armed with truth and grace, I feel we need to err more on the side of "truth" when talking to others in our church and err more on the side of "grace" when talking to someone who is still trying to learn about God.

    Unfortunately, you hear many stories whether this is reversed.

  8. I hear what you are saying Ed but I think that sometimes when we err more on the side of "truth" it says more about our desire to see gray in a black and white fashion.

    The issue of our day really isn't truth so much as influence. What I mean is that people (believers and not) are influenced by truth from people who love them and have influence in their lives. I think that this is (at least part of) what it means to speak the truth in love.. without love truth is just noise. (1Cor13)


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