I recently read an article from a well-known Christian figure who was exploring the issue of gays in the military and announcing his views. While I think we should talk through issues, I do not understand why some feel like they must announce their “stand” on big issues to the world? For example, some denominations and pastors have made very public statements about their official belief about homosexuality, abortion, or political rights and lefts.
What does that accomplish?
Instead of bringing people together and creating an environment of authentic exchange, it polarizes people. If drawing a line in the sand is the most important priority, then we are in the business of deciding who is in and who is out of the club. While this creates a strong sense of security among those who make the cut, it also fosters an elitist ethic, or even hostility toward those who are considered outsiders.
Once we experience the comforts of elitism, it doesn’t take long to convince ourselves that our religious aristocracy is endorsed by God. Ironically, this weakens our ability to demonstrate the love of Christ. The thicker we draw our moral lines, the more difficult it is to cross over and share an amiable conversation with those on the other side.
The most damaging result of our moral proclamations to the world is the dangerous potential to distort the gospel from a balm for healing into a weapon for punishment. I don’t mean to say that every preacher who calls abortion a sin is doing this, but ask these questions next time you hear a sermon on any hot moral topic:
Did I walk away with a stronger love for people, no matter how far they’ve walked away from God?
If I compared this to the story of Jesus, the Pharisees, and the woman caught in adultery, who did it sound more like? The Pharisees, prepared to strike her with stones? Or Jesus’ way of protecting her and telling her that she could free of the things that enslaved her?
Perhaps we should rethink how we talk about these issues.
For example, would you talk the same way about homosexuality in a small group which included a young man who was gay but also said that he was a Christian? Would you speak with the same tone? Would you use the same figures of speech if he were sitting right in front of you?
If you sat in a small group which included a single mom who is going to have health insurance for the first rime due to the recent health care bill, would you talk about it in the same way? Would you villanize all those who wanted those bill to pass?
What if you sat in a small group which included a 19-year old who decided on an abortion after getting pregnant and has agonized over the decision she made for the last two years? Would you “make a stand” in that setting?
In 1 Corinthians 2:1-2, Paul tells those at the church in Corinth that when he came to them, he “decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” No lofty, moral argument would supplant the principal message of Jesus and his life, death, and resurrection.
Yes, there are major moral implications inherent in our faith in Christ, and we are to continually struggle through the difficult questions that come with no easy answers. However, our primary call as the community of Christ-followers is not to make public moral announcements about where we stand. The most important commandment is to love, and when we obey that call, we will begin “making disciples.”