The One Thing Wrong With Seeking Advice On How To Respond to Tragedy

by Tom Gilson

How do we respond to a tragic horror like this weekend’s shooting in Orlando? If you’re just asking now, you might be asking the wrong question.

It’s not that there’s no answer. There is, and on one level it’s quite simple. I do not say it is easy, but at least it can be stated simply: We respond in love according to truth and grace, as always. Jesus was full of grace and truth (John 1:14), and God is love (1 John 4:7-8). That’s our standard. It’s broad enough to cover every circumstance, from the mundane to challenging.

But it isn’t easy, sometimes. There are tough issues to sort out. What is the truth about this tragedy? Rather, what is the relevant truth? I’ve seen one disgusting display from a pastor who thinks the relevant truth is that the victims were gays. (He used a harsher word I don’t need to repeat.) He missed the far more relevant truth that the victims were fellow human beings, made in God’s image, loved by God, whose death God himself sorrows over, especially if they have not come to repentance (2 Pet. 3:9). He overlooked the grace through which God is still reaching out in love to other LGBT persons, calling them into loving fellowship with himself. He expressed no love. His is a simplistic, one-sided and stunted view of human life under God.

That’s one bad example. No, I’m not linking to it. I wish I hadn’t given him the satisfaction of counting me as a visitor, so I don’t want to send you his way and add to that.

There have been many good examples, from Russell Moore to Michael Brown, to a large set of leaders including Al Mohler and Robert George. I wrote a response yesterday for The Stream, not published under my name.

Everyone I just mentioned, myself included, has been called a gay-hater. That charge is too simple; too easy. It’s as one-sided and over-simplified as the pastor I just mentioned…

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