It’s What We Say, Not How We Say It

by  John Stonestreet

Making our arguments winsomely is important. But it won’t carry the day. That’s because, in the end, Christianity will remain a scandal in the world’s eyes.

A Gallup poll found that 45 percent of respondents had either a “mostly unfavorable” or “very unfavorable” view of “religious fundamentalists.” In another poll, 30 percent of Americans said they wouldn’t want to have a fundamentalist as a neighbor.

You may have noticed the lack of the adjective “recent.” That’s because these polls date from 1993 and 1989 respectively. So it’s not new that faithful Christians are in the cultural crosshairs. That’s what happens when we insist on following Christian teaching on controversial subjects. You’d think we’d be used to this by now, yet our attitude toward the larger culture continues to be dominated by a kind of willful naiveté.

Our naiveté is underscored by a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, which found that 61 percent of Americans would be either “enthusiastic about” or “comfortable with” a gay or lesbian person running for president.

Now that shouldn’t come as news. What should come as news is that fewer Americans, only 52 percent, felt the same way about an Evangelical running for president. Nearly half “expressed some degree of hesitancy about the idea.”

The automatic question is “why?” and the automatic answer, at least in Christian and conservative circles, is “media bias.” And there’s some truth to this answer. As Rod Dreher put it, “Evangelicals have gotten a raw deal from our media.” But, as Dreher adds, “that’s beside the point now.”

That’s because, “there’s nothing Evangelicals can do to turn [popular opinion] around, short of totally abandoning Christian orthodoxy on same-sex marriage.” It doesn’t matter how reasonable, calm, or winsome we might be. Just ask Ryan Anderson of the Heritage Foundation. He’s all three of these things and that does not keep people from calling him a “bigot.”

Now, don’t get me wrong: We should be reasonable, calm, and winsome when talking to, well, anyone and everyone, especially those who disagree with us…

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The Scandal of Christianity: It’s What We Say, Not How We Say It