when it's time to talk - even if you're uncomfortable (a guest post by Tyler Francke)

Monday, June 23, 2014

Sometimes, you meet someone and know right away they're your kind of people. That was how I felt when I discovered Tyler Francke recently. One article, and I was hooked. His words seemed thought-out, thoughtful, and gentle. My impression is that he's not the loudest voice in the room, but when he speaks, you won't want to miss it.

So I was thrilled when Tyler agreed to share a few of his thoughts here. If you, like me, hear his voice and know right away Tyler is your kind of people too, check out his new book, Reoriented, here.

Meet Tyler Francke.

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I have a friend who works as an admissions counselor for a Christian college, which, as I understand it, means that he pretty much talks to pastors for a living.

Ok, that's an oversimplification, I admit. He also talk to prospective students, in addition to the pastors.

Anyway, as you might expect, the pastors he meets with have all kinds of questions about the college's positions on a wide variety of doctrinal issues: predestination vs. free will, complementarianism vs. egalitarianism, continuationism vs. cessationism, Coke vs. Pepsi, Team Edward vs. Team Jacob. (Like most biblically based institutions of higher learning, my friend's school is pro-Lautner all the way.)

Being theologically grilled on a regular basis sounds to me like only slightly more fun than being a proofreader for scripts of new Spongebob Squarepants episodes, but my friend enjoys the discussions. There's just one question he doesn't like.

"I hate it when they ask me about homosexuality," he told me recently. "It's just hard to explain my position, and I'm so afraid I'll say the wrong thing. I just hate that question.

I know just what he means, and I told him so. I feel the same way sometimes. Navigating the murky waters of the same-sex attraction conversation reminds me of that old spy/ heist movie trope where the spy/ thief has to make it through a hallway crisscrossed with red lasers. It's like walking through a mine field laid by a team of hyperactive over-achievers with OCD. And also, you're wearing a suit made out of land mines.

I get it. Easier to just avoid the topic altogether and continue on your merry way without being branded either a bigot or a heretic (depending on whom you happen to be talking to).

Problem is, the conversation isn't going anywhere. Or rather, it is. Like it or not, the conversation is moving forward in our nation, in our culture, and in the public sphere. And though, by disengaging, we may indeed avoid some conflict in the short-term, in the long-term, we're simply going to find ourselves left behind.

We who value the gospel, who believe it is a relevant and hugely important message for all the world, cannot afford to risk such irrelevance. We cannot afford to not have an answer to the LGBT question, because it is the one question I guarantee you'll be asked, if you make your faith even the slightest bit public.

And I"m not at all suggesting that we just let go of our anchor and take a ride wherever the currents of secular opinion happen to flow. We don't have to be like the cool kids. The gospel forces us to take a radically different view of other people and the world than we would when we had nothing besides our innate human tendencies to rely on.

The Holy Spirit will often guide us to different places than those not led by the Spirit. But this is exactly why we must engage on the most pressing matters facing our generation.

Because our God did not and does not shy away from controversy. Because our God goes to where the people are, especially the hurting people. Because God made us in his image and likeness, and we affirm the humanity of others by listening to them and letting them speak. Because God is love, and we show love when we strive to understand.

And most of all, because the world was formless and void - silent - and by speaking, God made all things beautiful and good. 

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Tyler Francke is a print journalist and freelance writer in the Pacific Northwest. He is the founder and lead contributor of the blog God of Evolution and author of Reoriented, a novel confronting the intersection between evangelical Christianity and homosexuality.

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