Jump directly to the Content
Jump directly to the Content

Sermon Illustrations

Home > Sermon Illustrations

Rethinking Persuasion in a Post-Truth World

Sharing a Christian worldview with others can often create tense situations. Especially when we are talking with friends and family who do not share our views.

A "Profile" article in The New Yorker spotlighted Ross Douthat, a popular Times columnist. The title of the article is noteworthy: "The Believer: Ross Douthat's Theories of Persuasion." Douthat is a conservative leaning Catholic who is a pro-lifer and an advocate for traditional marriage.

How does he negotiate working with colleagues whose views are radically different from his own? The article offers one example that might be instructive.

In 2015, Douthat wrote a piece critical of the Supreme Court's decision to legalize gay marriage, expressing concern that it reflected a "more relaxed view of marriage's importance." Before releasing it, he thought of Michael Barbaro. Barbaro has been a close friend of Douthat's since childhood. He refers to himself as Douthat's "sidekick." And Barbaro was married to a man. Barbaro recalls:

We hadn't been in touch that much, but Ross reached out to me to say, “I'm about to publish a column in which I come out against same-sex marriage. I want you to know that it didn't come to me easily. It's something I know may be sensitive to you. And, as somebody I care about, I want you to understand it. I don't want you to read about it in my column without us talking about it.”

When Barbaro shared how much he appreciated the note, Chotiner, the New Yorker reporter conducting the interview, was surprised, Barbaro should have been furious! Why wasn't he? Barbaro explained:

I was wounded by the position he took on a personal level. How could I not be? But it was meaningfully tempered by the reality that I knew where he was coming from, and that he had gone to the trouble to reach out to me.

Barbaro and his husband later divorced. When Chotiner interviewed him, Ross was on vacation with his wife and two children. He shared, "I've been on a long journey that I know Ross generally approves of. But, although I didn't do it for him, it's very funny, as I have had children, I can just sense his glee. It's no secret that he wants people to have children and to enter into monogamous heterosexual relationships." Barbaro let out a laugh. "And that wasn't my plan, but I have sensed his joy at that outcome."

Possible Preaching Angle:

Part of the pressure of sharing our Christian worldview comes from our mistaken belief that we must convince others of our views. But our job is much simpler than all that. We are called only to speak the truth in love. And you'd be surprised at how persuasive that simple act can be.

Related Sermon Illustrations

Americans Don't Like Discussing Religion

A summary of a report from Pew Research Center, "religion [seems] to be a subject many people avoid. About half of U.S. adults tell us they seldom (33%) or never (16%) talk about religion ...

[Read More]

Science and Faith Both Offer Valid Explanations

Scientist Troy Van Voorhis, Professor of Chemistry at MIT, argues that faith and science both have their place in helping us understand how the universe works. He puts it this way:

[Read More]