The news that Louie Giglio had been invited to pray at President Obama's inauguration has been quickly followed by Louie's withdrawal due to criticism of a sermon he preached on homosexuality 15 or 20 years ago.
In the statement that Louie released he said, "It is likely that my participation and the prayer I might offer, will be dwarfed by those seeking to make their agenda the focal point of the inauguration."
We are at unusual times in our society when disagreement or speaking to a moral belief is labeled by some as hate speech or inappropriate. First, we must never deal with or work with only those with whom we have TOTAL agreement. I don't even totally agree with those I love the most.
I have a former student and friend who is gay. He has taken disagreement with me over my belief that religious groups on college campuses must be free to determine the standards for their elected leaders. I say that is freedom of religion whether he or I like their standards, as long as their actions do not harm another. I am not into snake handling, but would hold to the right of a campus Religious group to say their leaders had to believe in and practice snake handling....as long as I don't have to be anywhere close by!
He said it wasn't worth he and I fussing about because today's young people are much more open on the gay issue and all that will change in the next few years.
That brings me to what I think are some important principles we must hold to and practice today as we live in our society and minister on college campuses.
1. Tone and language matters. In speaking to and about what we believe are moral principles, we must be loving and we must work at clarity.
2. We must respect others beliefs and ideas, if we want them to respect ours. Respect and agreement are not the same.
3. We must remember and remind others that respectful disagreement is not hate speech.
My gay friend has often disagreed with me, but never been hateful.
4. As today's students have different feelings about homosexuality, we should not back away from what we believe to be right biblical stands, but we must address them carefully. One way we do that is by not giving the impression that one wrong is way more wrong than another. All sin is equal in it's "wrongness" but different in consequences.
5. We must continue to remind students of an old truth....feelings aren't wrong; it is the actions we take that determines the right or wrong.
I am sure that this has all been poorly and inadequately said. But, we must stand up for the right for people to hold to their beliefs and express them respectfully without condemnation. AND, we don't have to agree with everything everyone else says and believes to work together for the common good.