Rachel Held Evans: Faithfulness is more important than 'winning' theological arguments
US blogger Rachel Held Evans has criticised the condemnation she has recently experienced from conservative Christians, again taking to her website to express her thoughts as the debate on homosexuality continues.
Her latest addition to the conversation indicates a development in her understanding of her place within the debate, and the way in which she would like to position herself. Rather than "winning" arguments, Evans contends she would prefer to remain faithful to herself, to her calling and to God.
With over 40,000 Twitter followers, she is well-known for engaging in discussion about some of the more contentious issues dealt with by the Church, and is passionate about equality and welcoming and embracing the marginalised into Christian community.
Her blog has created a unique space for honest conversation, with Christians and non-Christians alike invited to grapple with divisive issues and work through some of the tensions of the Church. Her criticism of World Vision's reversed stance on employees entering into same-sex marriage, however, has resulted in a backlash from conservative believers, and Evans has been open about her struggle to remain connected to the evangelical movement.
"Right when I felt most vulnerable, Christians delivered some swift and focused kicks to my gut. I was publicly mocked and shamed. People called me a heretic and bid me farewell. They took to Twitter to make fun of my appearance and belittle my husband. They called me a "wolf in sheep's clothing," "unstable," and "anti-Christ," she writes in her latest blog.
"This wasn't about me—I knew that—but still, it hurt. At times I wanted nothing more than to hightail it out of this whole "industry" we call Christianity....which is exactly what many of them want. But at the same time...Christians who had a lot more invested in this than I confounded me with their capacity to forgive and their commitment to radical, unexplainable grace.
"They loved in ways I couldn't ignore, ways that unclenched my fists and cracked my armour. And so I stood, vulnerable once again, in that most infuriating and miraculous contradiction of the Christian life: that the Church wounds and the Church heals."
In light of this struggle, Evans has now revealed that she has felt a pressure to be definitive and decisive in her arguments, "even when [she is] not sure", which is directly contradictory to the conversational nature of the debate that she is keen to open up.
"This affects my activism so that, if I'm not careful, I make it less about partnering with people and more about beating people. I make it less about making a good argument and more about proving myself to the skeptics for the sake of improving my status," she writes.
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"I found myself asking, what does winning look like?,when what I should have been asking , is,what does faithfulness look like?"
Evans concludes her blog with the assertion that her call is to honour God and speak with integrity, rather than have an answer for everything.
"What I've realized over these past few weeks is that God didn't call us to win, God called us to be faithful. God doesn't call us to change the world, God calls us to serve the world.
"My job is to be faithful...No more, no less. And there's no other way to take it but a day at a time," she finishes.
Following the publication of the blog, theologian and speaker Phil Drysdale tweeted, "@rachelheldevans wonderful post Rachel! Thanks so much for sharing your heart so transparently & putting into words what so many feel!"
"I love this and I love you. Well done, well said, and more importantly - WELL LIVED," added Christian feminist writer Sarah Bessey.
It seems that Drysdale and Bessey not alone in his sentiment, and Evans has been offered a more gracious response from many of her readers; perhaps finally revealing the beginning of real dialogue. "Thank you so much for all the kind, encouraging comments on the blog today. They really meant a lot. Love to you all," her Twitter account reads.