Hello, John Piper (why I accept you even when I don’t approve of your actions)

 

Dear Pastor John,

Please forgive the greeting if it’s too personal from a total stranger. I don’t know you, but you’ve influenced my life through your writings; Don’t Waste Your Life was inspiring, and the final chapter of When I Don’t Desire God gave me hope during the dark wasteland of yet another depressive episode. I feel rather fond of you. Fond, but bewildered, too, and frustrated.

A few days ago, you tweeted,

“Good-bye, Burger King. (If you wonder why, watch the last five seconds of the video and weep,”

along with a link to the current BK video featuring their new “pride burger.”

They’re plain ‘ol BK burgers with rainbow-striped wrappers. “We’re all the same inside” appears on the inside of the wrapper. The video shows the reaction of various whopper-eaters, who are overcome with emotion at the realization of this truth. (Homosexuals are people, too? What a profound thought.)

At the end, a little girl, no more than three or four years old, stands between two women and tells the camera, “I love my two mommies.” So this is what made you weep? That a child has two women who love her, and who she loves in return? That’s more than many other children have.

It called to mind another of your tweets, where you said “good-bye” to Rob Bell and linked to a blog post about Bell’s book Love Wins. It wasn’t a favorable post. What made it odd, though, is that the book hadn’t been published yet, and the blogger (apparently) hadn’t read the book. It was all based on rumors that Bell was proclaiming universalism. Odd.

Okay, so I think I understand your position. You don’t want the homosexual lifestyle to be normalized in America. You don’t want universalism proclaimed as truth. I understand that. But are these “good-bye tweets” the best way to state your position?

In the case of Bell’s book, that tweet publicized it better than any publisher-funded campaign ever could. (I would never have heard Love Wins if not for the controversy. I read it; not because I cared what Rob Bell had to say, but because I wondered what everybody had gotten their dander up about.)

In the case of the BK video, the tweet sends a message to the LGBT community and others who love those within it: Good-bye. I will no longer associate with you because I disapprove of your lifestyle.

That hurts.

It doesn’t hurt me because I’m a lesbian; I’m not. But it hurts because it makes me wonder, deep inside, if you’d find ME so sinful and corrupt that you wouldn’t associate with me if we ever met. I have sin in my life. Persistent, nasty, vile sins, some of which I’ve flaunted and been praised for, others that I’ve hidden so deeply inside that nobody but God sees it. So would you say, “Good-bye, Laura Droege” or accept me as a human being?

What’s strange is that you are not a man who is careless with words. I’ve read your books; at last count, there’s eight of them on my shelves. You take exegesis of Scripture seriously. You are precise, deliberate with your thoughts. Even when I disagree with your conclusions, I can’t think that you didn’t put thought into your expression of those conclusions. You know the power of words.

So why do you use such dismissive words in a tweet? Surely you realize that this phrase will be interpreted as shutting the door on an entire segment of the population.

And why the dismissive attitude? Why cut ties with a corporation (Burger King) or person (Rob Bell) because you don’t agree with them? Surely you don’t do this offline.

If a friend or family member came to you and announced that he believed in universal salvation or that she was marrying a same sex partner, would you say, “So long, farewell, goodbye. I can’t talk to you anymore because of this theological difference”?

No. You’d reason with them. You’d pray for them. You’d weep over their sin, and try to win them to Christ. You’d use the Bible and prayer, compassion and empathy born from the knowledge that we are all sinners, all prone to fall into temptation and believe false doctrines, all in need of a Savior. BK’s “pride burgers” got it right: we ARE all the same inside.

The one thing you wouldn’t do, I think, is tweet a public farewell to this person. At least, I hope not.

Why not view this video or this book as an opportunity to dialogue with others and love them? It’s an open door, a place where we can say “Hello, it’s good to meet you!” and walk into someone’s life. I can’t learn about someone or from someone if I slam the door in her face. I miss an opportunity to grow as a person or have a new friend or reach out from my normal self-absorbed lifestyle and love someone else just as he is.

In Frozen, Anna and Hans sing, “Love is an open door,” and it’s true (even if Hans is a dastardly heart-breaker). I can’t love a person without accepting him or her.

I accept the person, even if I don’t approve of the behavior. I do this all the time with myself: love Laura, but recognize that Laura-behavior isn’t always that great. Why not extend this same courtesy to others?

And that acceptance includes you. I accept you as my brother in Christ, even when I cannot approve of your tweets. I’d really like to know your motivations. I’d like to understand your opinions and why you interpret things the way that you do.

But I can’t do that if I slam the door shut and sing “So Long, Farewell” like an eighth, notably tone deaf member of the von Trapp family. So,

Hello, Pastor John.

You are welcomed.

You are loved.

And you are accepted, because Christ first accepted me.

Your sister in Christ,

Laura

 

Advertisements

17 thoughts on “Hello, John Piper (why I accept you even when I don’t approve of your actions)

  1. This is stunningly beautiful, Laura. So well done, and a great invitation for Mr. Piper or anyone else to enter into conversation with you, even if you disagree with them. “I accept the person, even if I don’t approve of the behavior.” I’m going to share this on Twitter and FB.

    Like

  2. Truly a beautiful, caring heart shines through your words, Laura. We can only hope those who think as Piper does will someday be as accepting of those who need love as you are. Thanks for this post!

    Like

    1. Well, right now I don’t feel particularly “loving”; I just hung up on a customer service rep with our lousy (and I do mean lousy!) phone company. So . . . maybe I need to reread my own post. Thanks for reading!

      Like

    1. Okay, I finally got to read the link. Fascinating. I really hadn’t thought of the issue in those terms, but I can appreciate the points she’s making. We are all the same inside (human, prone to error), and yet we aren’t all the same inside; we’re individuals, and our personal differences need to be affirmed, not erased. Much to think about in that post. Thanks for sharing, James.

      Like

      1. You’re welcome! I’m glad you liked the post. I also thought she made important points about the living wage, and the homelessness of LGBT teenagers.

        Like

  3. Laura, thank you for this–and for not giving up on J. Piper. I thought Piper’s response to Rob Bell’s book using the same “Goodby” template was arrogant and rude. Eugene Peterson’s thoughts regarding that controversy were so much more loving. You are much more generous than I–I hope to respond in future situations much more like you (looks a lot more like Jesus) than my natural inclination.

    I appreciate your voice…

    Like

    1. I don’t think I heard what Peterson’s response was, but I’ll see if I can find it. I like him. 🙂
      Thank you for the kind words. I actually struggle with being loving in real life, so I was probably talking as much to myself as to John Piper! Thanks for reading, Rick.

      Like

  4. Laura, I am hoping I can save you some time in looking for the response; my best to you and yours!

    From the following website:

    http://ekklesiahellweek.wordpress.com/2011/03/20/eugene-peterson-on-the-uproar-over-rob-bells-book/

    Eugene Peterson responds to criticism of Rob Bell’s book (for which he wrote an endorsement)

    What are your thoughts regarding Rob Bell’s book and the controversy it ignited? What inspired you to endorse the book?

    Rob Bell and anyone else who is baptized is my brother or my sister. We have different ways of looking at things, but we are all a part of the kingdom of God. And I don’t think that brothers and sisters in the kingdom of God should fight. I think that’s bad family manners.

    I don’t agree with everything Rob Bell says. But I think they’re worth saying. I think he puts a voice into the whole evangelical world which, if people will listen to it, will put you on your guard against judging people too quickly, making rapid dogmatic judgments on people. I don’t like it when people use hell and the wrath of God as weaponry against one another.

    I knew that people would jump on me for writing the endorsement. I wrote the endorsement because I would like people to listen to him. He may not be right. But he’s doing something worth doing. There’s so much polarization in the evangelical church that it’s a true scandal. We’ve got to learn how to talk to each other and listen to each other in a civil way.

    Like

  5. Wow. I wish that I had read this last week. I came across the following article

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/formerlyfundie/what-john-pipers-proud-whopper-tweet-reminds-us-about-christian-divorce/

    on a friend’s facebook timeline, I shared it on my own timeline saying “Food for thought…” oh my goodness, the backlash I received from posting such an article. I tried having a friendly dialog, and if you can’t tell already, I’m a bit long-winded. 🙂 But I received heavy blows and unfortunately got a bit frustrated and didn’t handle myself perfectly. The terrible thing is, here were these Christians fighting publicly on facebook, and i have atheist friends who were following the thread. afterwards, i did try reaching out privately to my attacker. First i was angry and defended myself against her accusations. Then a couple days later, i apologized for losing my temper. She never responded. Rather than officially unfriending me (because that would make her guilty of fare-welling, right?), she just refuses to have any conversation with me. If i had seen your response, I would have posted it on the thread instead of trying to debate angry people. I’m pretty sure that most of the emotion involved wasn’t just over LGBT, but there are a LOT of John Piper fans.

    I’m doing better now, but was feeling very upset and sad over the whole issue. Enjoyed this blog.

    Like

    1. Hi! Sorry to take so long to reply to your comment, but I was out of town. I can definitely relate to your situation. Years ago, I had a situation here on my blog that I didn’t handle well at all. Lots of conflict among professing Christians, and I didn’t know how to resolve the situation. I can also relate to the Christians-fighting-in-public thing; our church went through a split, and many of the issues played out publicly on blogs, etc., and I remember being so frustrated that we couldn’t resolve the conflict without the whole world watching and judging us by our bad behavior.

      I hope that your friend does eventually communicate with you again. It’s really difficult when that happens.

      Like

What do you think? I'd love to hear from you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s