Speaking into the Silence

By Gwen Sellers

Freedom of speech is a beloved privilege in the United States. With the ever-increasing popularity of media, celebrities speaking up for issues of social justice or about matters of mental health has become somewhat commonplace. In fact, I recently discovered that it is normal practice for Oscar winners to use their acceptance speech to promote a particular cause. This year Graham Moore gave a much talked about speech related to suicide awareness and depression. I missed that part of the Oscars, but saw the speech posted on Facebook and appreciated it. What I liked best was his encouragement for others to speak out as well.

It reminded me of something Eric Metaxes mentioned at the Arise2015 event put on by Summit Ministries that I recently attended. He challenges Christians to make the most of media and use its outlets to share truth. He wants us to get the stories that no one is talking about out there. This applies to the issue of abortion — what really happens at abortion clinics, the realities of post-abortive struggles, the reality of forgiveness, the availability of pregnancy centers, the stories of lives saved. It applies to the issue of homosexuality — talking about what biblical marriage really is, talking about the realities of the homosexual movement and homosexual lifestyles, and engaging with people who have homosexual struggles and offering them hope and truth. It also applies to talking about the reality of God in our lives. Jesus isn't just about Heaven; God is active in our lives now. We need to recognize and share the ways He influences our lives on a daily basis.

Metaxes mentioned the concept of a "spiral of silence," which is evidently a term coined by German sociologist Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann and is something Charles Colson spoke about in relation to the issue of same-sex marriage. Colson defines the spiral of silence as going along with what we perceive to be popular opinion in order to avoid social recrimination. Basically, it's staying silent in order to avoid anticipated social rejection rather than voicing our opposing opinions. Metaxes talked about the spiral of silence in the sense that the less we talk about uncomfortable things, the more uncomfortable they are to talk about. Conversely, the more we talk about uncomfortable things, the less uncomfortable they become and we can engage in productive dialogue. This makes complete sense to me.

In the public arena, the problem with staying silent is that it implies God either doesn't care or doesn't have a good answer to the question. And it leaves popular opinion to rule on social issues. It's essentially a failure to engage the culture with the truth of God. Unfortunately public silence can sometimes carry over into the church. Church pews are filled with women and men who have been affected by abortion, who struggle with the issue of homosexuality in their lives or in the lives of their friends, who are impacted by mental illness, and who watch the news and wonder if God has anything to say that is relevant to real life now. But sometimes we avoid the "touchy" issues of our messy lives because, even in church, it's often just uncomfortable to talk about those things. But if we don't speak, who will share truth? Who will tell those men and women about forgiveness? Who will offer hope to a pregnant teen and provide her with options for life? Who will stand beside an unwed father? Who will support homosexual believers in their struggle to remain celibate? Who will tell teens that their sexuality does not define them? Who will tell them that they may not actually be homosexual to begin with, and either way we will journey with them? Who will tell those battling depression that they have not failed as believers? Who will stand alongside the families of those with mental illness and struggle alongside them? Who will tell the despondent that the nightly news is not the final story? Who will encourage weary workers and remind them that their work matters to God? Who will tell parents that God has something to say about families and He can make a difference in daily life? Who will offer hope in the midst of the devastations of daily life? Who will share the reality of God's forgiveness and new life in Him? God does have something to say on all these issues. And He has chosen to use us to say it.

Romans 10:14 says, "How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?" It is up to us to share God's truth, a truth that brings life and sets people free (John 8:32).

So let's not be silent...In the public arena or in our personal lives. Let's proclaim the truth of God.

Image Credit: Vincent Brown; "Keyboard Kung Fu: Make Your Mac Speak"; Creative Commons

TagsBiblical-Truth  | Christian-Life  | Controversial-Issues  | Current-Issues  |  Political-Issues  |  Sin-Evil  |  Witnessing-Evangelism

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Published on 2-27-2015