On the Need for Prophetic and Honest Discourse

I am grateful for the numerous emails and comments that I have received from a wide variety of sources with regard to the last post here on Dating God, “Anti-Abortion Lenses Don’t Equal Pro-Life Outlook: A Response to Bishop Tobin.” I have been pleasantly surprised by the positive response it has received, particularly from very unlikely sources that, for the sake of privacy, I cannot disclose.

I just want to take a moment in the wake of that post and on a day that has been set aside by many in Washington DC to mark the anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision to again emphasize the need that exists in our day for prophetic and honest conversation and evangelical challenge.

What has surprised me most about the unsolicited feedback about Friday’s post in response to the remarks of Bishop Tobin of Providence, RI, in an op-ed piece has been the use of the word “courageous” to describe its content and the effort to publish those comments. This is surprising because I do not see anything particularly courageous about speaking the truth and asking the serious questions that need to be asked today.

Such challenging questions face us at every turn, yet many feel too hesitant to raise them. Too many — myself included at times — fear unsettling the waters of complacency, mediocrity and the status quo. I believe that we often fear the consequences of honestly following Christ and carrying our crosses. Naturally, the end goal of carrying a cross may likely be being nailed to it.

But the Word did not become flesh to show us that it is ok to stand by in toleration or silent disapproval. Christ showed us that in the face of injustice, we have a God-given obligation to raise questions and challenges in a loving and respectful way. The thing about truth and power is that the those who hold the latter often desire to dictate the former, and the result is a pseudo-truth that justifies power. When the Truth is spoken to those with power it is rarely received graciously because the Truth, while setting one free, does so at the expense of the greedy and selfish for the sake of the many.

To speak prophetically is to see the world as it really is, to identify the imbalances of power and the injustice of our age — and then do something about it, say something about it, write something about it.

My prayer on this day during which so many will expend so much energy for one issue is that those dedicated people allow the Spirit to inspire them to use that energy in other prophetic ways too, seeing that pro-life does not equal anti-abortion, but instead extends to all issues of human dignity.

My prayer on this day is that more Christians come to see the responsibility contained in that name to be leaders and facilitators of prophetic and honest discourse about all the matters that relate to Gospel life. Jesus said nothing about abortion or homosexuality in any of the four Gospel accounts, but he did say a whole lot about the poor, the marginalized, the stranger, the orphan, the widow, the religious minorities, the social outcasts, the divorced, the religious institutions and the imperial power of the day.

You, those who bear the name of Christ, what are you saying about those things today?

3 Responses to “On the Need for Prophetic and Honest Discourse”

  1. angelus gambatese Says:

    I agree, Dan, but it is always dangerous to speak the truth to power, as Jesus found out. Pat Siebert’s remarks at the Chapter will always be for me a cautionary tale. The best to you.

  2. So very true, Ang!! Pat’s comments and personal witness remain powerful and, yet, strike fear of truth in the hearer. Nevertheless, I believe this is our call as Christians in the world, each of us trying our best to live up to that vocation. Thanks!

  3. georgebouchey Says:

    It would seem that making Abortion an intrinsic evil is also making it an absolute, which it is not. The cases of the pregnancies in Phoenix, and the nine year old with twins, were determined to be life threatening to two, and in Brazil, to three people, while corrective surgery in each case, deemed necessary by competent medical authorities, saved the life of one of the peopl involved. Of course, mistakes can be made, but apparently not in these two instances. Intent counts, and saving a life is hardly a sin, a transgression of the moral law, in these two instances. To make abortion an absolute is a mistake, and seemingly could be sinful.
    george bouchey

    evening division ’76

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