Monday, August 20, 2012

Yes, His Words Were Awful, But . . .

Pat Robertson is a case.  I wrote a while back about the comments he made about a man whose wife had Alzheimer’s.  Now, apparently people are all up in arms about some things he said about adopting kids (see clip below).  But again, while I may be giving him far too much credit, I have a feeling that people are misunderstanding his point (which is understandable because he made an abominable mess of making it). 
I think he was trying to tell his co-host (and all of us) that helping to raise an overseas child isn’t as simple a no-brainer decision as she was implying – that it takes some thought and doing some business with God to be ready for that challenge.  Anyway, the conversation has stirred some thoughts in me.
1) I think it’s time for Pat Robertson to get off the air.  I don’t watch the man, so I can’t vouch for anything about him; I only hear about when he messes up.  But even if his words here don’t accurately reflect his heart or his intended message, the words are ill-spoken, and this is mild compared to other gaffes he's made.  He needs to stop speaking words publicly on behalf of believers; he’s doing more damage than good.
2)He's aggravating, but his point is valid (at least the point I think he was trying to make).  Folks got angry at him for defending people who chose not to do the right thing (what they think was the right thing to do).  Allow me to state the obvious.  Sometimes, doing the right thing is HARD.  Phenomenally hard.  If it wasn’t, none of us would be sinners. 
Yes, maybe every believer SHOULD trust God enough to believe He will carry him through difficult situations like these if he takes the righteous road, but that kind of trust is a goal.  God puts tests and trials in our lives to grow us into that kind of faith – we don’t start there, and we all get there at different paces.  Correction:  few of us even get there.  I bet every one of us can think of a situation where we could not make ourselves step into the seeming abyss and trust that God is going to carry us through – and my abyss may not be your abyss.  None of us pass every test, and very few of us get challenging tests like these.  Good grief, let’s give each other some grace, people.  Let God deal with each of us as he sees fit.
3) The perspective that I see Robertson trying to impress upon us (although he does a dreadful job of it) may be a perspective that we could use more of in all of our “culture war” battles.  The pro-lifers find abortion inexcusable – understandably.  But a lot of them would probably do well to spend more time standing in the place of a pregnant teen and considering just how very, very hard this thing is that they’re asking her to do.  It’s all well and good to tell a lesbian that obedience to God means she should stay abstinent, but I wonder how many people saying that have seriously considered how difficult a thing that can be. 
And let’s remember that many of these people are not believers.  Why in the world would unbelievers choose to take the difficult road if they don’t hear the voice of God pointing them there?  How could they be expected to accomplish such a difficult endeavor apart from God’s empowerment?  To an unbeliever’s ear, such suggestions are completely absurd.  Why do we condemn them for behaving like the unregenerated when that’s exactly what they are? Forget about the forced behavior modification.  Their behavior will change when they have a genuine encounter with God – lead them there.
But even with believers, I think we need to give people a break.  I’m not saying we compromise and give them a green light to take the easy route that is not God’s will.  I’m saying we deal with them from compassion mode rather than condemnation mode.  And we allow God to work in their hearts at the pace HE decides is best, not at the pace WE believe demonstrates righteousness.  It IS possible to speak the truth in love – and we are commanded to do so.

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