Mirriam-Webster’s defines the word “paralogia” as follows:

para·lo·gia (n)
A reasoning disorder characterized by inappropriate responses to questioning and based on underlying autistic or dereistic processes (as in schizophrenia)

Another more technical medical website defines it as “Thought disorder in which unrelated thoughts, as expressed in talk, appear to replace the next expected logical thought in a chain of thoughts.” I’ve also heard it expressed as the “disorder of approximate answers.”

Keep that little definition in mind as we sally forth. I kept thinking of it as I was reading an article in the Washington Post speaking about same-sex marriages.  This little puddle of paralogia made me screech my mental tires:

This past weekend, the Family Research Council ran ads in California newspapers declaring, “Beginning Monday judges are removing the word husband from California marriage certificates. The next step will be to remove the term father from birth certificates. Enjoy this Father’s Day. . . . It might be your last.”

Oh my. Gays are going to end Father’s Day.  Where does one begin to untangle this paralogical froth? Let’s ignore the blatant dishonesty and emotional button-pushing for a moment.  It’s easy to dismiss this as the typical hyperparanoid distort-exaggerate-outrage political spin we all see during election years.

What the FRC seems to be reacting to is the fact that “groom” and “bride” are no longer on the California marriage certificates; instead, it has been replaced with “Party A” and “Party B.”

Now yes, I am not for gay marriage. Neither am I for heterosexual marriage as is currently viewed in this society; it is simply too easy for people to get married these days. Marriage is made a mockery of more by heterosexual infants who have no business entering into relationships, let alone engaging in a public declaration of a covenant before God Almighty to forswear fidelity, obedience and sacrifice, one for the other. Brittany Spears has done more to make a mockery of marriage than gays ever have or ever will.  And evangelical Christians, with a higher divorce rate than non-Christians, have no room to stand and point fingers, although if we’re going to mock marriage, at least we do it with our underwear on. Usually. Okay, sometimes not. I digress.

I believe that Christians could make significant inroads into the issue of marriage and the strengthening of families if — and I certainly believe this is a radical thought these days — they would bother to put a kibosh on the infantile emotional manipulation and start dealing not only with the facts of the issue, but start dealing with people as people. A radical suggestion, to be sure. But the Bible seems to suggest it in Colossians 4:5-6:

5 Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. 6Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

Some time ago I had an online conversation with a Christian who questioned the need for other Christians to minister to homosexuals, because really, what are the odds they are going to want to come to church anyway?  I still shudder at that thought.

I have this little red light in my brain that begins to flash when my self-righteousness levels get too high. Occasionally the sensor breaks and where the little red light ends, the “evisceration” alarm begins to sound. I told him that if this was the case, then I stand here as an anomaly, a formerly gay person who returned to the loving, stable arms of Jesus. It took a Christian who wouldn’t judge me, who understood the pain behind my reasons to seeking Christ again, to convince me that this was truly the way to go. He straddled the line between being the one who represented Christ’s demand for holiness and also the love of Christ who wanted to forgive, restore and heal me. That love drew me in. Not mindless us-verses-them platitudes. Mentally performing some sort of preemptive war against gays, damning them to hell before we ever bother preaching to them about the love of Christ, generally means that we have some agenda other than Christ’s agenda of seeing them come to him.  We’d rather be right than holy.

George Barna, theologan and surveyor, nails this thought as well:

One of the remarkable themes of the New Testament that seems too rare is the insider-outsider dynamic. This is hard for Americans – a very Christianized people with a rich Christian tradition – to fully comprehend. But Paul, living in a clearly non-Christian context, never seems to defend his rights as a Christian. Instead, Paul seems to accept a sinful and broken world, while holding the people of Christ to account. He is constantly writing in this dual role. He is an apostle (a leader of churches) and missionary (an apologist and evangelist to outsiders). He calls the Christian community to high standards and yet reaffirms that these standards do not apply to those outside Christianity (1 Corinthians 5 is one of the best examples of this). What is the point for preaching today? Since your preaching is heard by both Christians and non-Christians, you are both a leader of Christians as well as a missionary to unbelievers. Finding that right balance is incredibly difficult, but it can be done, with the help of the Holy Spirit. Part of this task, I believe, is to help your people see their role as missionaries to a culture that is now effectively post-Christian. You have to help train them to see the world in the same way Paul did.

And, church leaders, I have one final encouragement for you, personally. Keep in mind that your decisions as a teacher ought to be courageous. This includes the courage to tell the bold truth as well as the courage to exhibit unhindered grace.

Unhindered grace.  I’ve been in situations where I’ve had preachers who have told the bold truth…but love and grace have been far from them.  The result is that I was bound up by my sin, aware of my guilt and shame, but also completely devoid of hope.  When we hammer sin, when we hammer the cross, and leave out the rest of the gospel, we are guilty of withholding hope.  We don’t tell them that there is hope for healing and restoration in Christ and Christ alone.  We leave them with the horrible, often unspoken thought — that maybe we don’t want them to come to Christ.

Open arms.  Unhindered grace.  Breathtaking hope.  I’ll be preaching that until the day I die.

~ by WriterRand on July 19, 2008.

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