High profile Christ denying promiscuous homosexuals are typically not the first people the orthodox Christian community befriends. However history shows that demonstrating grace toward such a person while condemning the deeds may yield a shining light out of the mire. As there is nothing new under the sun, Lord willing, we will see this repeat.
A nondescript Jane Roe took the national stage to a mix of joy and sorrow depending of the eye of the beholder. On January 22nd, 1973 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Roe and gave the nation abortion on demand. Jane Roe was a means to an end and not a person in most eyes. It would be difficult for the Christian community that looked on abortion with disgust to not do the same for Jane Roe. In the 1980s Jane Roe was no longer nondescript but Norma McCorvey, a foul mouthed abortion advocate. Ms. McCorvey fueled hatred by literally spitting in the face of Christian pro-lifers. There was a real person that you could either focus rage toward or offer grace.
In 1994 the grace was planted by Emily, a seven-year-old girl, whose conversations included “You don't have to go to hell, Miss Norma.” Christ used a gentle Emily, Flip Benham, and others to patiently offer grace to Miss Norma. In time this foul tongue changed and she started crying “I'm so sorry, God. I'm so, so sorry.” For the past 17 years Norma McCorvey has demonstrated that she is “One Hundred Percent Pro-Life”.
What made the change?
Miss Norma testifies that it wasn’t that she was reasoned with that changed her. She had all the facts in front of her as she worked in an abortion mill. All she had to do was look at the results of her employer’s work. She could open the refrigerator doors to see the bodies of the aborted babies waiting for disposal.
What Miss Norma needed was grace. The gentle response to her rage, the joy set before her by those who saw in her the image of God. The bliss of life and family was lived before her and she was invited in. Miss Norma was truly was “Won by Love”.
Different issue, same opportunity
Bradley Manning’s lifestyle, including gender identity disorder, put him in the same situation as Norma McCorvey. But the deeds that have put him in the news are not as clear cut as the abortion question. Reasoned arguments can be given for the rightness or wrongness of leaking a video of the U.S. Army annihilating civilians, reporters, fathers, and children. Good arguments can be made that his leaking of thousands of emails and documents helped foster the Arab Spring, or caused severe damage to the U.S. politically and militarily. No good arguments can be made justifying the torcher he has received at the hands of the U.S. Government.
Like McCorvey, Manning is planning on an active future, assuming he gets out of prison. History shows that many go from prison to the world stage, like Nelson Mandela and Adolph Hitler. He will have the eyes of the world to state his case, and due to his notoriety alone he will carry significant weight. What he advocates and the following he will develop will be molded by the people around him. Will that be a militant homosexual community, or a grace offering Christian community?
Manning needs an Emily to live before him a gentle love of life without being issue focused. At the same time he needs a Flip Benham to uncompromisingly challenge him to a righteous life. But that still must be delivered with grace or it is only a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
There are many differences to the stories
McCorvey’s Roe was simply a name used by others while Manning is literally on the front lines. McCorvey was used and then thrust into the spotlight. Manning made a conscience decision to enter the world stage. The abortion issue for McCorvey is a simple and clear violation of God’s law. Manning has a wide array of issues with complex questions.
In the wake of both, the world has been impacted and lives are at stake. Both are individuals whose decisions are guided by the wrath or grace they receive.
Because of the grace offered by a few of the Christian community, Norma McCorvey’s legacy is not of Jane Roe, but of a loving Christian woman. What will be Bradley Manning’s legacy? The gauntlet is thrown before the Christian community.