“Ugly” is not acceptable in our culture when it comes to looks, but it sure seems to thrive when it comes to actions and words.
Okay, so the play on the name of the television show, Ugly Betty, is lame, but the point is serious – things can get ugly quickly when it comes to our civil discourse over the issues in our culture.
I’ve said it many times and will say it again, but one of the hardest things in the world is to speak the truth but do so in grace. It’s hard because truth itself is hard, and if that truth goes against what we think or what we are doing, then we almost never see or hear any grace even if it’s there.
Our self-defense mechanisms go up faster than our antenna for self-inspection. And in this regard I constantly need to preach this message to myself.
But two things have happened in the last several days on both sides of the cultural debate on the legal and moral equivalency of homosexual conduct and heterosexual conduct that, to me, are ugly.
A Metro Nashville employee was recently suspended for anti-homosexual comments made on his employer’s Facebook page. We don’t know all that was said, but he did say that two of his co-workers should “crawl back into the closet.”
I don’t really know what he meant because I can’t get in this man’s head, but the intonation brings up images of some kind of bug or animal, at least in my mind. He may have simply meant that he wished homosexual conduct were not injected into the workplace, the same as any other sexual conduct, but the way we say things can be as important as what we say. And it can often get in the way of what it is we’re trying to say. A lack of grace can obfuscate the truth of the message.
But, on the flip side, a pastor in Memphis recently urged his congregation to go to a couple of web pages and find out which candidates for city council had supported and which had opposed a proposed ordinance that would have injected homosexuality into the City of Memphis workplace. But some of the comments made about this pastor by pro-homosexual advocates and the doctored pictures of him that they used were pretty ugly and mean. And I’m sure that, for some, the tenor of their castigation obfuscated their message as well.
[pullquote1 quotes=”true” align=”right”]Truth and grace, not ugliness, should all be our aim, even when we strongly disagree with another.[/pullquote1]To be honest, I understand the rage of many who are engaged in homosexual conduct because for many of them their conduct defines their identity. So, when anyone says that homosexuality is an inappropriate expression of human sexuality, that they don’t want it being encouraged through the law’s approval, or they don’t want it injected into the workplace, then those who find their identity in that conduct naturally feel personally attacked. And none of us like to have our identity, our “who-we-are”, attacked. That’s when we’re most inclined to defend ourselves and lash out at the attacker.
There are times when I don’t like the things that are often said about me when I speak against cultural acceptance of homosexual conduct and in favor of sex within the confines of the marital relationship between a man and a woman. But in those moments I try to remember that my identity is not based on what others think or say about me, but on the intrinsic dignity I possess as a person made in the image of God and the wonder that He would extend grace to me even though in my own way I sometimes act contrary to His truth.
Truth and grace, not ugliness, should all be our aim, even when we strongly disagree with another. And though I will stand my ground with respect to what I believe is the truth about human sexuality, I hope the arrow of truth I launch hits the target of grace more often than not. We sure don’t need more ugly if we can help it.