The Scandal of Silence

I was asked recently if I had a 'word' for the church where I was going to speak. The pastor didn't use phrases like "prophecy" lightly, but that's what he wanted. I hadn't really prepared for such, but in a heartbeat, God gave me some words for that congregation, and I wonder if what I offered might not be useful for others globally. Thus I share some of those thoughts here.

Three times in the last year Australian Christians have been given a chance to speak. The plebiscite about same-sex marriage, the general national election in which Liberals won convincingly over Labor and the many other lesser parties, and the issue of Israel Folau and his being sacked by Rugby Australia over comments about certain people going to hell.

In each case, and with great fanfare and public notice, individual Christians were asked to speak out. I read it online; I saw it in the newspaper. I overheard it in church after church that individuals were charged to speak out. 

My friend Avi Snyder lives in Hungary, although he, like me, is also a US citizen. He often encounters Christian people in churches and even church leaders around the globe who have a reluctance to speak out on certain matters. Of course, everyone doesn't see eye-to-eye about all the moral issues of the day, and Avi and I are certainly accepting of that. 

There is something which bothers him the most, as he and I are both integrally linked in Jewish evangelism and the cause of bringing the Gospel to Jewish people.  Here's how Avi addresses this one when he finds Christians who are reluctant to speak to Jewish people about Jesus, because of the Holocaust. 

He asks, "What was the sin of the Church in 1940 in Germany?"
The person usually answers, "Silence."
Avi then points out that silence in these days, that is, not sharing Messiah with the Jewish people, is a similar evil or sin that the Church is committing now.

Some in the Catholic world are noticing the need to speak out about sexual abuses.
In April this year, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI broke six years of relative silence with the release of an outspoken letter on the clergy sex abuse scandal. Benedict's analysis differs significantly from that of his successor, Pope Francis, and thus leaves the world's Catholics with contrasting papal perspectives on the greatest crisis facing Roman Catholicism today.
In his 6,000-word essay, published in the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, with an English translation by the Catholic News Agency, Benedict blames the epidemic of clergy sex abuse largely on a collapse of moral standards in the 1960s and the subsequent failure of Catholic leaders to uphold traditional church teaching. 

"It could be said," Benedict writes, "that in the 20 years from 1960 to 1980, the previously normative standards regarding sexuality collapsed entirely." Among the changes, in Benedict's view, was that pedophilia became seen as "allowed and appropriate," and pornography became widespread and accepted. The priesthood, meanwhile, fell into crisis.

I'm hoping that you join me in thinking about the answer I gave the pastor that morning. Yes, silence is an appropriate response when one doesn't know an answer. (Proverbs 18.13).  But when you or I know the answer, and when we should be declaring the truths of the Lord to a desperately needy world, shame on us if we are silent. That's the scandal I mentioned. 

Ezekiel the prophet said as much:
“Son of man, I have appointed you a watchman to the house of Israel; whenever you hear a word from My mouth, warn them from Me. When I say to the wicked, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn him or speak out to warn the wicked from his wicked way that he may live, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. Yet if you have warned the wicked and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered yourself. Again, when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and I place an obstacle before him, he will die; since you have not warned him, he shall die in his sin, and his righteous deeds which he has done shall not be remembered; but his blood I will require at your hand. However, if you have warned the righteous man that the righteous should not sin and he does not sin, he shall surely live because he took warning; and you have delivered yourself.”
(Chapter 3, verses 17-21)

What is your response? Care to be silent or tell me what you really think? I'm (sometimes) all ears.


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