“…If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all” (the second part of Isaiah 7:9). For those of us that would consider ourselves strong, or even proficient Christians, standing firm in faith should be something that is second nature. If someone told us that God didn’t love us, that Jesus had gotten married, wearing red was a sin, or something else equally ridiculous, we would respond with a firm “No!” Some things are black and white. But what about when our culture clashes with our faith? What about the “gray” areas? How often have we said “it’s not my place to judge” or “it’s your life” as an excuse to not speak out against sin? Yes, it is true that it is God’s place to judge, not ours. I think that way too often though, we judge in our hearts and speak political correctness with our lips. Trying to not hurt feelings has become a cop out for not calling a sin a sin and preaching with timidity because we are afraid of being called intolerant. I have been guilty of this just as much as anyone else, and being in Uganda has really called me out on this. Before I stop being vague, I will preface what I am about to say with this: Give me a paragraph before you stop reading.
I was at a Ugandan wedding a few days ago. Well, Ugandacan. The bride is from Michigan, and the groom is from southern Uganda. Ugandan weddings are, in a word, long. We only went to a part of the reception, and even that took hours. In America, it seems like toasts are a time for a short flashback, a couple jokes, or just a general good luck. In Uganda, a toast is anything you want it to be. And I mean anything. It’s a great time for your personal testimony, a short sermon, a choreographed group dance (with extremely sheer clothing), and of course, multiple translation errors. It turns out that the words for “life” and “intestines” are remarkably similar. It was a sermon during toast time that really made me question how I go about my faith. The man speaking was a midget-y Ugandan who packed more fire into his four and a half foot self than I have seen in most normal sized or even burly men. He was speaking vehemently against homosexuality using words like “evil” and “wicked.” Even when asked directly for their opinions, I have never heard an American speak so strongly (and still speak in love). Because Pastor Elisha was undoubtedly speaking out of love and speaking only with absolute care for his flock. I know that many Christians differ in both the major and minor points on the issue of homosexuality. My question is this. If you genuinely believed that God was not a fan of homosexuality, would you speak for it? If you believed that God was against something, no matter what your culture says, would you voice your agreement? I believe that there are much bigger issues in the world than homosexuality, but I believe there are few issues bigger than what makes us hold our tongues when we know something is wrong. “If salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again?” (Matthew 5:13). How could I imagine even for a second that I would die for my faith when I’m reluctant to even open my mouth at only the risk of being unpopular? Jesus spoke both truth and grace. My prayer is that we aren’t limited to one or the other.