The Layman’s Failure of Leadership

From time to time, our opponents–those we disagree with, those, even, whom we think are perilously wrong about something we care deeply about–will be threatened and maligned. How we react then will speak volumes about our integrity and the character of our cause.

Will we celebrate their misfortune? Will we claim validation for our opposition? Or will we denounce the forces that threaten them and stand with them to express Christian unity?

I’ve lamented the Presbyterian Layman’s lack of journalistic integrity for ages, but this week the organization revealed the corrupted moral reasoning motivating its project in a way that shocked even me. After four PC(USA) churches in Missouri received letters that warned they could be “burned to the ground” in retaliation for the denomination’s recent decision to allow clergy to perform same-sex marriages, The Layman’s President, Carmen Fowler LaBerge, released a statement saying,

Neither the PCUSA’s abdication of the Bible nor the letter writer’s abdication of the principle of peace are in the Spirit of Christ. Both are a violation of the fellowship of Christian believers who are called to be the very Body of Christ in the world today. Neither the witness of the PCUSA in seeking to bless what God does not bless nor the letter writer’s threat of violence against the visible church make the gospel of Jesus visible or beautiful; and neither should be exalted as a legitimate witness of Christ to the world.

“Neither” . . . “both” . . . “neither” . . . “neither” . . .

It is a bankrupt moral equivalency to condemn threats against churches by placing them alongside ecclesiastical decisions that upset you for shared judgment. You should denounce violence. Period. Using another’s threats as a vehicle for expressing your own grievance against the threatened is a failure of leadership.

Let’s be a church that leads differently.