COMMENTARY | Meredith Flynn
The tweets came fast and furious. They poured in, at least a dozen every 30 seconds or so, throughout the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission’s April summit for church leaders.
By the end of its first day, the conference on “The Gospel and Sexuality” had become one of Twitter’s top trending topics.
Most of the posts were angry. One might have guessed the subject matter would cause a stir, and indeed, many of the objecting tweets came from activists and others who don’t believe the Bible is the ultimate authority for marriage and sexuality.
But not all the messages addressed what the speakers said. Some pointed out that the majority of the speakers were white and male. Out of two dozen personalities who would take the stage during the three-day conference, only two were women.
Amid the tweets about homosexuality and gay marriage came a different complaint: Where was the diversity?
The topics covered certainly were diverse: pornography, pastoring church members through sexual sin, teaching kids about sex.
The speakers handled their topics with sensitivity, encouraging church leaders that the best way to truly love people in their communities is to teach what the Bible says about sex and marriage.
Their messages echoed the ERLC’s current tone, described by President Russell Moore as “convictional kindness.” It’s what most Christians think when they hear the phrase “speak the truth in love.”
Or, as Moore told conference attenders, “A refusal to speak to consciences, clearly and openly, is a refusal to love.”
While men populated the platform, in the back of the room it was mostly female journalists who covered the summit. One of them blogged about the summit’s overall tone and applied it to the angry tweets about so few women at the podium.
Chelsen Vicari of the Institute on Religion and Democracy wrote that while she would have appreciated more female voices, “it cannot be disputed that the ERLC’s tone is shifting in a genuine attempt to mirror the Gospel and balance a message of grace, respect for all women and men, repentance and reconciliation in a troubled post-modern world.”
But on Twitter, and for the outside world, a new tone wasn’t enough. The world is watching to make sure when we Baptists preach a Gospel for everyone, we really do mean everyone.