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I think "evangelists" who focus on homosexuality, to the exclusion of all the other things that are classifiable as "sins" (whatever is on the list, you and I are guilty of some of them) are missing the point. In that regard, its time to act for the betterment of humanity, not condemn, since your behaviour speaks louder than words. God also gave us a brain, so make sure you don't overreact to trendy environmental issues. We all felt good about getting rid of DDT, but malaria, once nearly eradicated, now kills millions every year.
I love dropping into online Xtian chat rooms if I feel I'm not entirely up to the latest mark on the ins and outs, as it were, of sodomy. AOL 'Christian Chat' is rip hot on that. All they ever talk about there.The rabble element would be represented mostly by gently mocking pagans - or by me talking Church Latin, which is guaranteed to cause alarm and offence in equal measure.These days though it is mostly Islamists, of a rather tough and unbending ilk, who come by to pour scorn on the God-botherers of the 'Jesus Saves' persuasion.Naturally though these fiery-as-fock Islamists end up rather liking Xtian people who share their own loveless views on homosexuality.Eucumenism of a kind I suppose.
SteveR writes that Christians who over focus on the sin of homosexuality "are missing the point."And I think that is the point! My thoughts are that Evangelicals and Fundamentalist Christians are deceived into thinking that there are "bad" sins, "little" sins, and "really bad" sins. And the "really bad" sins are always the ones I do not commit.Hogwash. I was going to write bullsh*t, but I think my cussing is a sin and not even I could stand being that big a hypocrit.I hope that the article refers to a movement from being judgmental to being compassionate. But our compassion needs to be grounded in a Biblical understanding of sin: That understanding just needs to start focused on me as a sinner.Trey
I generally agree with the viewpoint and the comments above, but the Christian response isn't based solely on a mistaken belief that homosexuality is a greater sin...but that in this instance, the sin is being promulgated throughout society in an attempt to get it ratified, and that the ramifications will be widespread and not fully understood at present.I think the latter is undeniable. Redefining marriage would change marriage, family law, raising of children, and questions of gender. This is why claims of bigotry etc. skip over the natural conservative tendency to resist radical changes to the "social ecology" without overwhelming justification.
Compassionate is fine but is often presented as a demand for approval.The idea of big sins and little sins and not so bad sins and worse sins is a case of bad theology and next to no doctrinal teaching in church. Even among fundamentalists it's been about dumbing down the preaching... possibly because of the personality types most likely to look for a career in the church. Those with the temperment to parse doctrine are splitting atoms somewhere. (Same as smart, analytical women not being forced into teaching as one of the only professions available to them.)I don't know how many churches bother to strenuously train preachers anymore, requiring greek and some very serious doctrinal study *after* graduating from a regular college, and I don't know many churches or preachers anymore who see the job of the pastor as responsible to teach *theology* or *doctrine*. They're supposed to be dynamic or charismatic and supposed to make the congregation feel all pumped up and revived and good about themselves.The thing about non-wussified instruction is that it's not about *other* people, those bad sorts someplace else doing those bad things, it's about teaching doctrine so that individuals can examine their own lives and work through their sanctification one hard day at a time.These days it's not supposed to be hard. In fact, even understanding the concept of sanctification is too hard for the modern "instant victory" church. Glory be, the word has five syllables. It really is too much to ask.
J, yet we accept divorce and pre-marital sex and reproduction. We daren't preach against it because we'll make the remarried folks feel bad and hurt the single mothers' feelings.So instead of addressing the things that *really* are destroying families, we get all upset about homosexuality.Does that make any sense?
I have noticed this trend, too, away from the judgmentalism and more into grace. Warren (a favorite of mind) and Hybels are leaders of that movement of true Christ-followers. How refreshing to see it reported on. As for the issues, like the poor, they will always be there. What is important is focusing on a personal relationship with God rather than on what separates us from Him, what will bring people into the church and not what will keep them out of heaven. Christians are to be about peace and examining and improving ourselves rather than others.Jesus did not command his followers to go into the world and spread judgment but instead to spread the Good News and Christ's message of salvation. That is the only command...oh, yeah, and to love others as ourselves.Thanks for blogging this story. :)
Synova,Excellent point. I think the dichotomy only makes sense in the "horse has already left the barn" dilemma.I've started to see some dial-back on the issues you mentioned, but they are difficult topics. Some religious simply refuse to address them -- the problem, of course, is that it creates an environment where personal choice reigns, as if no choice is damaging or problematic so long as the individual can justify it at the time.
"...that movement of true Christ-followers."How do you know they are true Christ-followers, and others are not?
Great posts everyone. Very thought provoking, I appreciate getting to read them. I especially appreciated "it's about teaching doctrine so that individuals can examine their own lives and work through their sanctification one hard day at a time."I wish I could have said it as well, that is exactly how I feel about my life as a Christian.Thanks a lot. And thanks Ann for bringing up these issues lately!Trey
Tim asked a really important question: "How do you know they are true Christ-followers, and others are not?"For me it is simple, are they loving people who I want to be around and value time spent with them. Is their life different in a blessed way.I have found these people among different denominations (or non) and traditions, but their hearts are similar and their actions are kind and blessed.They get it. And they live it.Trey
My thoughts are that Evangelicals and Fundamentalist Christians are deceived into thinking that there are "bad" sins, "little" sins, and "really bad" sins.That's part of it, sure.But two other aspects to consider are which sins are actually tempting, and which sins are accepted by society as not being that bad.Let's say you're a fundamentalist Christian. You can spend your time railing against (a) something like plagues, poverty, and genocide... or (b) stuff like abortion, homosexuality and porn.Let's take a look at option (a). Basically nobody in the West thinks poverty, disease, and mass murder are anything other than bad, bad, bad, so you're preaching to the choir whenever you talk about those topics. At the same time your chance of actually making any impact on any of those three things is basically nil -- all three are complex problems with no apparent solutions. The best you can hope is to help a few individuals around the margins.Now let's look at (b). Large segments of American society think abortion, porn, and homosexuality are just fine, which means (from a fundy perspective) that there are a couple of hundred million Americans in serious danger of being drawn into a life of sin. On top of that the democratic nature of American society means that the chances of successfully reducing the amount of abortion, porn, and (for those who believe it isn't inborn) homosexuality are, comparatively speaking, quite good. Successfully re-illegalizing abortion or pornography would, from a fundy perspective, prevent billions of instances of temptation from occurring in the first place, and in the case of abortion save hundreds of thousands of lives a year, too.
"I have found these people among different denominations (or non) and traditions, but their hearts are similar and their actions are kind and blessed.They get it. And they live it."Trey,Yes, of course, and I know people like that too who aren't Christian, or believers of any kind (or at least not in a monotheistic God).So, again, how do you know?I'm not trying to play games.If it helps the conversation, for whatever it is worth, I'm a practicing Catholic - not that I think the Church has a corner on Truth (the fallibility of Man, the worldly institution of the Church being a manifestation of Men, etc.), albeit I believe the Church is much closer than most. Anyway, my own view is that one cannot cleave the Old Testament from the New; the Kingdom of God is within each of us; making the world better starts with making yourself better.
Trey,Not only is "How do you know they are true Christ-followers, and others are not?" a good question, but so is the converse: "How do you know so-and-so is not a true follower of Christ?"The answer, of course, is that only God knows, but its pretty hard to keep that straight.
making the world better starts with making yourself betterGreat point. Public victory only comes after private victory. And look at 1 Peter 2:1-3. In short, the apostles aren't told to blaze into the world and convert everyone, but to first strip away all that is contrary to Christ (within themselves), then to nourish oneself with the "spiritual milk."
Only God knows, well, of course, I agree as God is God and I am so not.But I stick by my contention that the true followers of Christ smell of it! Their lives are different, they move to a different beat and stick out in a wonderful way.This is not to say that only they are saved, but that the people who follow Christ well are palpably changed and they affect people with a wonderful goodness and humility.Thanks for the continued discussion, and J, your sincerity was clear and refreshing. Trey
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