Middle of last week it was announced that Louie Giglio, founder of Passion City Church and the global Passion movement had been invited to give the benediction at the Inauguration Ceremony next week. The current White House Administration has been very impressed with Giglio’s efforts in recent years to help bring an end to modern slavery across the globe. It only took two days for those who took issue with a sermon he preached 15 to 20 years ago, that had been archived online to raise a big enough stink that, depending on how you take it, Giglio decided to withdraw from delivering the benediction or was asked to step down by the Inaugural Committee. The sermon from 15 to 20 years ago that started this controversy was on homosexuality where amongst other things he said that homosexuality is sin.
Since then the blogosphere has been littered with commentary on what unfolded by countless in the Christian community. Some of them are suggesting that Giglio was bullied, that his first amendment rights were violated, or that he should have taken a stand and done the prayer anyway. Many have forecasted that this spells trouble for Christians in a country that is growing less and less Christian.
While this is yet more Christian commentary, and albeit a little bit behind everyone else, here are some thoughts I had about the situation. More specifically, since this is a blog for parents of teenagers and those who work with teenagers, youth workers, pastors and volunteers, what can our young people take from this?
- Nothing is Private in Public: The climate and general attitude towards homosexuality in America has changed significantly in the last 15 to 20 years, thus it may seem a little unfair that Giglio is getting raked over the coals for something he said well over a decade ago. To say it’s not fair is not the point because the reality is he said it, it was recorded, and it can be found. Young people need to be sobered, not scared, by the reality that anything they say and do that makes it’s way onto the internet is not private. More importantly it is accessible. They need to be mindful of what they post on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo, and strongly consider, “is this something that could come back to bite me later?” Crying that it’s not fair is not going to get you anywhere because that is the reality.
- Stand Up or Sit Down?: I’ll be honest. Initially I wished that Giglio had gone ahead and done the benediction anyway. But upon further reflection, conversation with a friend and looking back over his statement I can’t help but wonder, “Could it be that Giglio stepped down in an effort to obey Romans 12.17-18?” Romans 12.17-18 instructs us, under the heading of Marks of the True Christian in the ESV, “Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” Nowadays young Christians and Christians in general are being encouraged to take a stand. That these controversial issues, like abortion and sanctity of marriage, are the tasks that we as Christians are called to take a stand for if we are really about the gospel. However, take a look at the second part of Giglio’s statement, “Due to a message of mine that surfaced from 15-20 years ago, it is likely that my participation, and the prayer I would offer, will be dwarfed by those seeking to make their agenda a focal point of the inauguration. Clearly speaking on this issue has not been in the range of my priorities the past fifteen years. Instead, my aim has been to call people to ultimate significance as we make much of Jesus Christ.” Did you catch that last part? Giglio is saying that ultimately the gospel has is and always will be about making ‘much of Jesus Christ’. What a great example of wisdom, discernment and self-control to seek peace with all as far as it depended on him, that Giglio has given us and to the millions of young Christians he ministers to nationally. We need to help teenagers learn wisdom and the ability to discern when is the time to stand up and when is the time to keep calm.
- The Plank in Our Eye: Recently the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy reported that 80% of unmarried evangelicals between the ages of 18 and 29 had engaged in sex. Likewise the National Association of Evangelicals, using a stricter definition of “evangelical” reported that 44% of 18 to 29 year olds had sex outside of marriage. It’s pretty clear in scripture that God does not endorse sex outside of marriage in the same manner that it does not endorse same sex sexual relations in or out of marriage. Based upon the research of those two organizations it might be time for the church to start directing more of our attention towards heterosexuals within the body of Christ, encouraging them to live rightly ordered sexual lives as opposed to outsiders? This needs to start with parents and youth workers continuing to call young people to live sexual lives in accordance with the Creator’s design out of reverence and love for God and being consumed with the love of God for them, rather than fear of God’s wrath for getting it wrong. People outside the church have access to the Bible and can see what it says. How can we expect them to take us seriously about our standards if we don’t appear to take them seriously by our own actions?
Conclusion: At the end of the day I think we have three tangible ways we need to encourage young people to be mindful of their witness. What are they putting out in public even if they believe it to be private? As far is it depends on you are you living at peace with everyone including and especially those outside of the body of Christ? Are you living a life that is rightly ordered driven by the knowledge of and love for the God you claim?