President-elect Barack Obama has chosen Rick Warren to pray at his inauguration next month. On NPR this morning, I heard Mr. Warren described as "controversial" and "outrageous" because he considers homosexuality and unnecessary abortions to be sinful. He was attacked for believing the Bible.
Over the years, Rick Warren and the Saddleback Church have led the way in caring for AIDS victims, promoting adoption, and helping orphans. He has been a proponent of treating those with whom he disagrees with civility and honor. Mr. Warren and the Saddleback Church have tried to be faithful to biblical faith in Christ while showing kindness and compassion to the people around them, even if some of those people were their enemies.
Now, he is maligned as a hateful nut.
This is a common burden for Christians. How many times have we heard...
~Christians care about babies before they are born, but couldn't care less afterward?
~Christians are right-wing, racist homophobes?
~or some other similar accusation?
How should we respond when we are attacked in such ways?
First, we must not allow social intimidation to force us to back down from loyalty to Christ and his standards. It's better to look bad while standing with Christ than to look good apart from him. He is more important than our popularity.
Then, we need to live in such a manner that those who slander us will be embarrassed. The apostle Paul wrote, "In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us" (Titus 2:7-8). The apostle Peter echoed Paul's instructions when he wrote, "Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. 'Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.' But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander" (1 Peter 3:13-16). We need to be living such genuinely good, kind, and generous lives that such slander will look foolish and petty. It's our best defense against unwarranted attacks of this nature.
(For another good perspective on this controversy, please see Albert Mohler's comments at www.albertmohler.com/blog_read.php?id=3023.)