The first thing that I want to say about Greg Johnson’s book, Still Time to Care, is that I learned a lot from reading it. That statement has layers of meaning to it. First, I read it. And that is what I’m going to write about today. There is so much posturing and “othering” in regard to those associated with Revoice. Some in the PCA are working to remove Greg from his pastoral office. If you are in any Reformed spaces on social media, you see there is a way that certain Christians want us to think about Greg. (I’m using his first name here to emphasize that Greg is a person.)
By not reading the book, I can distance myself from accusations that have come my way. They go something like this “Byrd is on a trajectory to feminism and the ‘liberal’ theology that is coming out of Revoice.” That would be the friendlier version of what’s going around. I know that any positive mention of Still Time to Care will propel the circulation of I told you so’s. I told you Byrd is dangerous. See?! And attached to this is the misrepresentation that I don’t uphold marriage between one man and one woman or that homosexual romantic partnerships, sex, and marriage is a sin. I do and I do. And so does Greg.
By not reading the book, not only can I distance myself, but I can soothe my conscience by saying that I don’t have enough information, I haven’t really read Greg…I can uphold my biblical convictions and not look at the suffering of God’s people. By not reading the book, I continue to make a stranger of Greg Johnson, and all whom he is speaking for, for my own benefit. And for what? For the same people who misrepresented me not to have more ammunition.
When I was still cohosting for Mortification of Spin, we recorded an interview with someone who went to Revoice and was reaching out saying he had insider information on just how bad it was. I was uncomfortable doing this interview, but I didn’t tell my cohosts. Beforehand, the man we were interviewing misrepresented one of my books on Twitter, and from there I saw that I did not care for his behavior or the ideologies he was promoting. But I didn’t want to be unprofessional. I didn’t want to be taking things too personal. I wanted to be able to give a fair hearing since he was recommended by one of the cohosts as a guest on the podcast. We did this interview on Zoom, but it was incredibly uncomfortable for me. Even online, I could sense his complete lack of eye contact with me. This made the interview itself seem all the more disingenuous to me. We never aired this interview, because before it was scheduled to release, he went on Twitter further misrepresenting my work and responding with belittling comments when he was confronted. My cohosts saw that he really crossed a line and one of them talked to him about it. He then faux-pologized to me and that was that. Turns out he was an active member in Genevan Commons.
All this is in my psyche as I think of engaging with Greg’s book. There is a sense of not wanting to take on another barrage of reviling behavior. Not wanting to be labeled this and that. Not wanting to be further cast out.
I mean, I merely “liked” one of Greg’s tweets the other week, and a screenshot of my liking it is tweeted out, saying, “The new liberals are using a three pronged trident to attack Christ’s church: feminist grievances, marxist/victim culture, and lgbtqi+ perversions.”
But my own experience helps me see there’s more at play in degrading a person. In addition to the revilers, there is another group that keeps their distance, keeps me a stranger for their own benefit. That’s a tempting place to be sometimes. I can tell myself, and we can tell ourselves, that Hey, I am taking enough heat trying to address the issue of discipling women in the church. I can’t speak to every issue. There are others doing that. Yes, there are. And when it comes to the issue of hurting people in God’s church, I want to care. There’s still time to care. I want to learn, so that I can be a person who shows care.
Additionally, we are one of those contaminated families who put our children through public school. My kids have gay friends. Unbelieving gay friends. I try to love on them. I want them to know the love of Jesus. It has opened the doors to many complex conversations with our children. But what do I really want to invite these professing gay teenagers and young adults into? Reading Greg’s book has me asking myself, Is it easier when they are not inside our church doors confessing Christ? What happens if they come to church? Am I inviting them to a false hope? What are my assumptions about how their sexual orientation will or will not change? Must it change for them to be considered true, sanctified Christians? What are they to do if it doesn’t? What is their aim? How can they talk about themselves? Can they? What if they not only admit that their orientations aren’t straight, but they don’t look straight either? What if they look gay? How will they be treated by God’s people?
My kids already know the answer, which is why they haven’t invited them.
I just had to sit with that last sentence and mourn. It makes me sick.
And in reading Still Time to Care, I see the horror that many suffering people who want to hold fast to Christ have faced in his church. In a place where they should find care, more shame is piled on. Shame that Christ despised on the cross.
I’m also reading another book right now for endorsement which is teaching me that the way we view the outsider tells a narrative about how we see ourselves. Making strangers of others—finding or protecting our own identity at their expense—is no way to live the Christian life.
I learned a lot in reading Still Time to Care. What a great title. What a great invitation. Anyway, layer one is that I’m learning more about myself.
I also want to engage with the content of the book and will write another post to give it the attention it needs.