Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings. (Isaiah 58:12)
In recent years, conservative Christians have had their beliefs challenged more than ever before. Here in Ontario, Canada we have been labelled as progressive in our support of changing gender and sexual norms. We were the first province to legalize same sex marriage (in 2003) and in 2013 we voted in Kathleen Wynne as the premier of our province. Wynne is not only the first female premier of Ontario but also the first openly gay head of government in Canada and the English-speaking world. A few months ago Wynne announced that her government would be implementing a new sex ed curriculum in elementary schools in Ontario. The program includes teaching on same sex relationships in grade 3 and “gender expression” in grade 6.
As a result of all of this, the line has been drawn in the sand. Everyone is expected to choose a side – for same sex marriage or against.
There is no grey area.
The problem with this clear division is, of course, that there are many people who are either undecided on the issue or undecided on how to handle the issue and the resulting war in our culture between the two sides. There are also people who have strong views on one position or the other and feel a genuine love for those on the other side. But these voices are not nearly as loud as those others. The ones who are armed and ready for battle. The soldiers who are fighting for their right to either bring about change in our society or hold fast to traditional values.
In the midst of all of these debates that have been so disheartening, I have found encouragement.
There is a group of people emerging in our culture who are refusing to fight in the war even though they remain firmly rooted in their own belief systems. Many of them are against same sex marriage, some of them are in favour of it, but ultimately all of them recognize that what is important is not proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are right. What is important is honouring, respecting, and loving each other and the rest of the world even (and especially) when the world is a difficult place to live in.
And it seems as though a large percentage of this group are women.
Jen Hatmaker, Ann Voskamp, Jennie Allen, Beth Moore, and Rachel Held Evans are only some of the female teachers and leaders who have, at one time or another, emphasized God’s call for us as Christians to act lovingly toward others regarding various disagreements in theology and beliefs. Their primary audiences are also women.
This isn’t to say that there are no men speaking up for loving behaviour because there are many. But in recent years there seems to be an increasing number of women who are calling for a different attitude toward divisions in ideology and theology. And I believe there is a reason for this.
Traditionally, women are known to be more nurturing and compassionate. And with the battles raging in our world today there is a greater and greater need for compassion. We need more Christians who are willing to build bridges between warring peoples. We need more people to bandage wounds and heal the hurt.
Women can be very good healers, helpers, and bridge builders.
I have seen it myself, there is a growing movement of women who are making it a priority to show God’s love in their daily lives. They might disagree with you, but they will do it respectfully and treat you with honour. If you argue with them, they will have compassion for you and will show you grace. And if you treat them poorly through your actions or words they will not curse you. Instead they will pray for you.
I’m not saying it doesn’t matter what you believe – of course it does. But how you treat people regarding your beliefs and theirs is ultimately far more important than the quality of arguments you can muster.
Let us not strive to be soldiers in this war but instead to be healers. There are so many people hurt in these battles and so much has been destroyed.
Let us strive to be the repairers of broken walls.
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. (1 Cor 13:1-3)