Should we have to sit down and shut up regarding topics on which we have no personal experience?

I have 0 points of intersectionality. I am a white, cisgender, heterosexual, male with no disabilities (although some might debate that last item). As a result, I am increasingly hearing statements coming from society claiming that I am ineligible to share a viewpoint or opinion on a wide range of issues. Evidently, because of my “status,” I could not possibly have anything valuable or worthwhile to contribute regarding anything outside of my “status.”

Because I am white, I cannot talk about racial issues. According to some, as a white person, I am inescapably racist.

Because I am a male, I cannot possibly have anything to contribute on the topic of gender discrimination. According to some, as a male, I am hopelessly misogynistic.

Because I am cisgender and heterosexual, I am completely ignorant of the struggles of those in the LGBTQIA+ community. Evidently, never having experienced same-sex attraction and/or gender dysphoria means I am incurably homophobic and transphobic.

It is exceedingly frustrating for there to be so many topics, especially culturally relevant ones, for which I am, according to the culture, supposed to just sit down and shut up.

In a sense, I get it. There is something at least a little off-putting about people speaking out on issues for which they have little to no lived experience or expertise. For example, my wife and I have unexplained infertility. I would have difficulty listening to infertility focused counseling from an individual with multiple children. Likewise, many churches do not want to hire an unmarried man as a pastor because they worry that he would not be able to adequately counsel people struggling with marital and/or family issues. There is no doubt that personal experience and expertise is valuable.

At the same time, the “sit down and shut up” attitude being promulgated is completely misguided.

Should we ignore Jesus’ teaching on marriage because He was never married? Ok, ok, yes, I know Jesus is exempt from this rule since He is God and knows everything about everything…fine…

Should we ignore the Apostle Paul’s teaching on marriage in Ephesians 5:22-33 because, as far as we know, he was never married? And, who does Paul think he is, a Jew, preaching and writing letters to primarily Gentile audiences? Can you believe Paul actually thought he could empathize and become like people in different life circumstances (1 Corinthians 9:19-22)?

Sitting down and shutting up is not an option for followers of Jesus Christ.

You do not need a certain amount of melanin in your skin to understand what the Bible says about the evils of, and cure for, racism.

You do not need two X chromosomes to recognize the amazing value of women and their absolute equality with men in the body of Christ (Galatians 3:28).

Believing what the Bible says about homosexuality and sex/gender related confusions does not make you incapable of, nor free you from the responsibilities of, speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) and demonstrating compassion (Colossians 3:12).

Fellow followers of the Lord Jesus Christ: Do not listen to society’s demands to sit down and shut up. We are Christ’s ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20). We are all called to preach the Word (2 Timothy 4:2). The call to speak the truth in love is not limited to topics for which we have personal experience.

At the same time, when we speak on culturally sensitive and divisive topics, when we share the reason for the hope that we have, we should always strive to do so with an extra measure of gentleness and respect (see 1 Peter 3:15).

So, the next time you are told to sit down and shut up about an issue on which Christians have valuable things to say, don’t allow yourself to be silenced. Instead of sitting down, get on your knees. Instead of shutting up, speak the truth in love.

S. Michael Houdmann

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Should we have to sit down and shut up regarding topics on which we have no personal experience?