Thursday, October 27, 2016

Thoughts About Being an Out-Spoken Christian

I keep hearing that authors shouldn't speak out on political issues on Facebook or other social media;  that posting views on controversial issues could alienate people, maybe even make them hate you—and that's not what we're called to do.  I'd like to examine the usual reasons given for us to keep our mouths shut and offer a different viewpoint:

 Argument: It could alienate readers/make them hate you.

The Response:  If my politics alienates anyone they wouldn't like my books, anyway. My books are strongly Christian and staunchly conservative. Also, did Jesus care if he alienated people? Lots of people hated Jesus for telling them like it is. When I share political stuff, I'm not just spouting opinions—but links to articles that I believe are telling it like it is.     

Argument: We're called to write, not get into politics.  

The Bible says the ungodly "suppress the truth in unrighteousness." If the ungodly suppress the truth, doesn't it stand to reason that the godly should do the opposite? Broadcast it? I post headlines and links to things mainstream media purposely suppresses. Why should I join them in silent collusion when I can do what they're not doing and help spread truth?

 It isn't "nice" to talk politics.

That may be true at a family dinner or reunion, but on places like Facebook there is no captive audience. I don't make it a habit to tag people, or post to their pages—I stick to my own turf. No one has to put up with it if they don't want to. And we as a church are so busy being "nice" and guarding the front door that the wolves have been coming in the back. We need to stop playing nice, and get real. (We've been so nice, historically, that society has fallen to its current level. Society can only fall as low as the church will allow.)

As writers, our job is to entertain, not cause possible strife.

 That may be true for some writers, but personally I try to imbue my work with much more than entertainment. If I wanted to simply entertain people I'd be a stand-up comic.  My job is to be authentic, a Jesus follower in view of the world.  I feel strongly about the issues of the day, and I am being authentically me not only when I share my faith, but when I share how that faith engages with social issues—and that includes political things.

If you're not an expert on the issue, you're not qualified to share your opinions about it.

Having the right to discuss issues does mean running the risk of being wrong on occasion; so what?  Few of us have time to exhaustively research every matter—but that doesn't preclude the need or right to discuss them. (It sure as heck doesn't stop the progressives from sharing their opinions. )Social media is an open forum—many people recognize this and share their thoughts if they disagree with a post, or think you're mistaken on an issue.  And that's just fine.

Don't share it if it doesn't have eternal value.

This sounds strangely like "if you have nothing good to say, don't say anything at all." That's great advice when you're talking about mom's dinner, but it's not great advice when the wolves are at the door and you need to tell them to keep out.  I make no claims that my political posts have eternal value—but do other posts get this stringent requirement? If I put a picture of my beautiful backyard roses online, does it have eternal value? Must it have eternal value to have any value? If we all stuck to this requirement, the only thing we could talk about would be God and scripture.

It comes across as negativity.

That's exactly what the Pharisees thought when Jesus pronounced woe on them. Some people don't like posts that imply abortion is murder, or that sodomy is still sin, or that traditional marriage is the only real marriage.  To them, it's negativity.  In fact, I'm not trying to offend people, but in truth, they're offended with God, not me. He made the rules! As for purely political posts, many see that as negativity, too, for all the above reasons. But for people who are like-minded, these posts are encouraging. They know they're not the only ones who care.  And many people really are ignorant of God's views on issues, and need to be told.

Christians should spread love, not hate.

The most loving thing to do for people other than pray and witness the gospel is to be honest with them. If I keep silent on social issues in order not to offend some, I am also failing to offend the ones who need to be offended. Yes, you heard that right. Sometimes we need to be offended—with our sin. Coming to God requires the acknowledgment of sin, yet we are told to avoid discussing social issues that the Bible calls sin. Why? Because it makes people uncomfortable?  Sometimes discomfort is the path to faith. And we are the church—who else will call out abortion for being murder, or homosexuality as an abomination to God?  You don't have to be ordained or stand at a pulpit to stand firm on God's Word. People need to know that God has definite views on these issues. Perhaps this knowledge could lead to repentance!   It is not unloving to administer truth.

You won't win any popularity contests by being opinionated.

To paraphrase a famous line of fiction: "Frankly, Scarlett, I don't give a darn."  Would you tell a Bonhoeffer to keep quiet?  Or Luther not to pin his 99 articles to the door at Wittenburg? Thankfully, we don't have to be a Bonhoeffer or a Luther to stand up against ungodliness; or to share what we feel is right, politically. All we need is a place to be heard. And a willingness to ignore those who only want us  to play nice. 

In the end, Jesus' commitment to sharing truth got him crucified. Which was, of course, God's plan from all eternity, for our blessing and salvation.  Jesus knew the end from the beginning. He knew exactly what his destiny was and stayed true to his calling.  Calling out sin got John the Baptist beheaded. For us, being willing to stand counter-culture in the cause of righteousness may end up bringing persecution our way, too. But that's no reason to remain silent.  It identifies us as light-bearers, people who swim the other way in this sea of fish, who stand against the tide when the tide is going in the wrong direction. 
Some fish are going to knock into us and tell us to get out of the way. All I can say, (and I hope you'll say it with me) is, "Here I stand. I can do no other."  
Do you agree? Still think Christians ought to keep our mouths shut? Tell me why in a comment.    


Linore Rose Burkard grew up in NY and graduated from CUNY (City University ) with a magna cum laude degree in English Literature.  Linore  wrote a trilogy of genuine regency romances for the Christian market before there were any regencies for the Christian market. Published with Harvest House, her books opened up the genre for the CBA. She also writes YA Suspense/Apocalyptic fiction as L.R. Burkard. Married with five children, she home-schools her youngest daughter, preferably with coffee in one hand and an iPad in the other. Her latest  PULSE EFFEX SERIES, takes readers into a "chilling possible future for America."


chappydebbie said...

We are Christians, hear us ROAR! Keep doing what you are doing, my friend. I am 100% behind you!

Linore Burkard said...

Love that comment, Chappy Deb! Thank you and God bless all of us who try to be heard while swimming upstream.