Thursday, January 20, 2011
So, What Are You Proposing?
My answer is that I would not want anyone to surrender any righteous, non-harmful action they might feel led to, any more than I would want to surrender my option to take action on my beliefs.
I simply want to remind myself and all of us to do so in love and humility, recognizing that, even though we may be "100% certain" or only "nearly totally positive," we could still be mistaken.
Further, I'd like us all to have sort of a sliding scale of rigidity and seriousness over topics of disagreement based upon how closely or not they are to Jesus' actual teachings and real world ramifications.
Someone wants to argue that Mary had ten children after Jesus and someone else wants to argue that Mary had NO children after Jesus? No big deal. Don't sweat it.
There's not much impact there one way or the other and Jesus never says specifically that Mary had X number of children so enjoy a discussion on the topic if you'd like, but keep perspective. Slide the scale back many notches on "debating" that pretty insignificant issue.
Someone wants to argue that drinking alcohol is always wrong and another wants to debate that it's acceptable in moderation? No big deal. Jesus did not stake out a position on drinking alcohol and there is no real harm done either way.
Someone wants to argue against the Triune nature of God and someone else wants to argue in favor of it? Well, Jesus did not stake out an opinion and I can't see a huge amount of harm done either way (depending I guess on how those arguments went). Disagree if you wish, but don't get up in a sweat about it. Don't denounce the Other as non-Christian or false teacher over something that Jesus did not teach and that likely has not serious ramifications (and to be clear: I DO believe in the Triune nature of God, before anyone misses the point... I probably shouldn't use that as an example!).
On the other hand, someone wants to teach that we are to HATE our enemies and kill off their children? Well, that is:
1. directly contradicting something that Jesus said AND
2. it has horrifying consequences.
That's a profound argument worth debating vigorously.
Someone wants to teach that we are saved NOT by grace, but by following rules set up by Jim Jones or someone else? That's a profound disagreement with serious consequences. Worth debating vigorously.
My point is that most things that people want to denounce others as "non-Christian" and "false teacher" about are not even direct teachings of Jesus and don't have overtly serious consequences.
On THOSE points, we all ought to lighten up, is what I'm saying, and remember not to argue about mere words or human commands.
The question was also asked, "If we both might be wrong, why not acquiesce to ME, rather than go with your hunch? Why not, for instance, just NOT support gay marriage, since I might be right about it?"
First off, just because we BOTH could be wrong does not mean that I think both our arguments are equally valid. I obviously think my view is the most reasonable or I would not hold it.
Beyond that, why would I support legalizing and oppose criminalizing marriage? Because of the harm and oppression involved in the criminalization. It's a human rights issue and I think Christians should be in the forefront of working for human rights and against oppression.
If a church does not approve of gay marriage then, while it saddens me, so be it. Don't marry any gay folk. Turn seekers away from the door if they wish. No harm (well, some... depending on how foul they are about it), no foul. I'll disagree with them and move on.
BUT, if they want to criminalize two adults getting married (gay/straight/black/white/whatever), THEN they have moved over into harmful territory, impinging on others' rights. That is where I think is a reasonable place to draw the line.
I don't think AT ALL that recognizing our fallibility and lack of perfect understanding means we do nothing. You don't see ME doing nothing, do you? I engage in conversations. I support and oppose legislation. I choose where and how I shop, live, spend my money, donate, etc. We can do just about anything. Anything Good. Anything Pure. Anything Just.
Anything BUT oppress, cause deliberate harm to others, lie, slander, gossip, kill, torture.
First, Do no harm.
Do you disagree with a behavior? Don't support that behavior. Do you think abortions are wrong? Don't have one. Do you think war is wrong? Don't go to war. Do you think gay marriage is wrong? Don't get married to someone of the same gender!
Do you think a loved one is wrong for getting married to a gay (black, Muslim, Jewish, Fundamentalist) guy/gal? Then speak to them in love about it if you really feel you must. But do so with grace and humility.
But, keep in mind: When it comes to telling others that their non-harmful behavior (non-harmful as far as we can see) is wrong, though, most adults need to reach their own conclusions and talking down to them, telling them they're not Christian, they're a "false teacher," they're going to hell for disagreeing with you, etc, will seldom win converts, so it's not especially helpful if winning them over is your goal.
Simply stick to, "I am concerned because it seems to me that..." and lay out your case with love AND being willing to listen to their side, as well.
That's what I think we should do.
Which is a lot, seems to me.