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The UK, John Knox, and the Dane County Board

It’s always been a dream of mine to go to England and Scotland. Due to the generosity of my father-in-law, we were able to visit the UK recently. While in Edinburgh, it was sobering to stand in the place where many Christians lost their lives during the Scottish Reformation. Walking through St. Giles Cathedral, I could almost hear the thundering voice of John Knox.

While visiting the John Knox house (full disclosure, I don’t think he ever lived there but may have died there), I picked up a biography of Knox. The author does a good job of shaping Knox as a human, not just a larger-than-life character. In the book, the author mentioned that Knox probably regretted in his later years that he didn’t speak up about Christ sooner in life. I don’t know if that is true, but it got me thinking. “In ten years, will I wish I was more or less vocal about truth in the previous decade?” The answer is obvious.

While musing, I received an email alerting me to a resolution that the Dane County Board of Supervisors was set to vote on that evening (last Thursday night). The resolution up for a vote was to make Dane County a sanctuary for Transgendered and Non-binary people. Of great concern to me was the mention of puberty blockers and hormone therapies for children. So, I registered to attend the meeting via Zoom and checked the box indicating that I would like to speak at the meeting.

It was a long meeting. We started at 7:00 PM and ended at 12:30 AM. Many people wanted to speak about the resolution, most voicing their opposition. Like everyone else, I had five minutes to talk when it was my turn. I tried to be reasonable, caring, and compassionate, but also clear that this resolution was wrong. One supervisor emailed me when I finished speaking, thanking me for my comments.

I wish I could say we swung the vote, and the resolution was rejected. But that didn’t happen, and it wasn’t even close. Only one supervisor voted against the resolution. You guessed it, the one who emailed me.

Why do I share this story? Because I learned a few things:

1. Christians are too intimidated to speak at events like that board meeting. The level of thinking of our elected officials is not very good. Sometimes I think we are afraid that these people are so smart they will turn minds into a pretzel if we speak up. That’s not the case. Trust me. We need to speak up and be heard. And we need to speak up in a well-thought-out, calm, rational manner.

2. Our conversations at a board level must be backed up by personal integrity. If the gospel isn’t changing your everyday life, causing you to love your neighbor as yourself, then we have a shaky platform to speak publicly.

3. The most change won’t happen at that level, but we should still seek to have our voices heard. The Christian voice is too quiet too many times.

4. The conversations we have in public will often prepare us to have conversations in private. And vice versa. The day after the County Board Meeting, a friend in the community reached out to me asking for help with one of his children, who is transgender. This person had no idea I spoke at the meeting the night before, but my doing so prepared me for the conversation that would have more impact and influence.

So, if the Knox biographer is correct and Knox did wish he had been more vocal about truth sooner, I want to learn from that mistake. Let’s stand for the truth today and not wait for tomorrow.

What does that look like? I don’t know. It will probably be different for each person, depending on their context and the opportunities afforded to them. But I will say that we all have opportunities to stand for truth. Let’s stop letting those slip away.

Then, in a few hundred years, your biographer will say, “They took every opportunity given to them to stand for truth lovingly and graciously.”

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Mark Brooks
Mark Brooks
Jun 30, 2023

Thanks for this. I have also been convicted about this very thing recently. Your essay corresponds remarkably to what's been moving in my heart lately.


William Mattox
William Mattox
Jun 21, 2023

I’m glad you posted this. It encourages me. I said something like the on to my people recently. Wise as serpents. Harmless as doves.

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