Timing is Important
by Tammy Phillips
“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.” James 1:19
Lesbianism was not a national topic in the early 1980’s. Women were feminine and men were masculine; there was no celebration for the contrary. This was our reality when we walked into a women’s prison to present a Growing in Christ seminar. The chaplain and the instructor were seasoned; the rest of us were brand new. Incredulously, we watched the women walk into the gathering area; ninety women formed forty-five couples. Some of the women were more masculine than a stereotypical macho man. Our instructor was gracious; we reluctantly followed her lead.
The women were separated into small groups, facilitated by a volunteer. Each of us had at least four couples in our group. Irritation marked my face. At the first break, we descended on our passive instructor; “You’ve got to say something, do something about this.” Her response was, “We are guests in their house. Do what we came here to do.” This was the wrong answer, but we continued our small group facilitation after each of her lecture sessions. Several more times we begged her to address the situation; each time she steadfastly refused and encouraged us to stay the course.
Finally, on the last day, our instructor, who was old enough to be each woman’s great grandmother, asked everyone to sit in a circle around her. She lovingly read from the scripture what God said about homosexuality. Our instructor was a wise woman. She knew if she had of addressed the issue on the first day, we would have lost the opportunity to present the Gospel. So, God’s Word, spoken and demonstrated, was boldly proclaimed and we knew His Word did not return void.
Timing is important. God wants us to speak up against sin. But, we have to be wise about what to say and when to say it or we could miss an opportunity to be light and salt. Proverbs 10:19 says, “In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise”. Our wise instructor knew that she had to refrain from saying what we wanted to her say. She spoke God’s Word at the right time, not our emotional ranting at the wrong time.