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Much braying about the moral health of the country has gone firing across the social corral in the last week.

From all sides fly cries of victory and defeat, right and wrong, absolutes bellowed with such finality it is a wonder the federal dawn of legal same-sex marriage did not bring with it the apocalypse. In too many places the sentiment suggests that the so-called culture war between traditional Christendom and homosexual matrimony is a zero-sum game, that the two cannot coexist in the same country. In reality, however, there are very few zero-sum games.

And because neighborly love and coexistence is important to all of us — or should be — maybe we could stand to turn some of the punditry and rhetoric down. It’s been getting awfully static-y up in here anyway.

It’s easy to get caught up in fiery words, bantering, rebuking, condemning, but really we have said nothing, or at least nothing helpful. We yell at each other and call it debate. We yell about each other and say we’re just “telling the truth.”

But Christianity, like any way of living, is not a life of words, but of action.

Better than condemning Supreme Court decisions and disguising it as “constructive criticism,” Christians could take upon themselves the personal decision to exemplify purity, holiness, and compassion. They could engage in action that brings life where there was death, healing where there was brokenness, and peace where there was conflict.

What good are all the most heartfelt Christian words in the world if we do not first enact them ourselves? Why would anyone believe a Christian if he was not himself striving to be an imitation of Christ?

If orthodox Christians want credibility when it comes to a perspective on marriage, stop getting divorced. Raise stable families. Care for widows and orphans. Demonstrate loving and self-sacrificial marriage.

Such action will be a better testimony than shouting matches or blog posts.

If there is no difference between Christian marriages and non, or Christian lives and non, what’s the point?

This doesn’t mean Christians shouldn’t speak, but they should be slow to do it, lest they prove themselves hypocrites. Let your words be few where love is great. I’m not sure a man was ever pious because of his words. Only living well in Living Hope makes you salt and light; it is not your slogans or arguments that do it.

Our language is frequently a stumbling block, building distrust and obstinacy rather than admiration or edification. So Christians would be well-advised to focus more on right actions than loud words.

Saying a good thing does not get you off the hook from doing it. Nice, true words are not an excuse for inaction. In fact, such a pattern would be out of order. For it is out of the heart that the mouth speaks; it’s not chiefly out of the mouth’s words that the heart beats.

Whatever your feelings about the present marriage question, your practice will speak louder than your preaching.