For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:19)
IT’S A WRAP: I think that – out of fairness to other important topics – I’ll (try to) wrap up this episode of the “same-sex marriage” conversation with today’s post. The dialogue (via comments, facebook, email, and in person) has been fascinating, illuminating, confusing, and – most of all – challenging in all the ways that thinking about faith must be. Thanks for your input.
WHERE DO WE DRAW THE LINE? One of the really good points raised in response to yesterday’s post – Freedom, Conscience, America, and the PC(USA) – questioned the idea of being bound by conscience. “I definitely DO want to belong to a church where ministers have to follow defined boundaries,” the reader wrote, “not just any ‘minister’s conscience’. Where do we draw the line?”
It’s a good question. In fact, “Where do we draw the line?” is at the heart of the current debate… the current controversy… the current angst… the current confusion.
Personally (and – although I am a fairly high-profile voice – I hold no ecclesiastical or denominational credentials, other than being an enthusiastic member of a vibrant, all-about-Jesus, Bible-teaching Presbyterian church), I see enough faithfulness and scholarship in the heart of both sides of the issue that I believe it’s time to move beyond the idea of “I’m right – you’re wrong,” no matter who you are.
- I know (and respect) many faithful disciples of Jesus, thorough students of the Bible, who are absolutely sure that same-sex marriage is an affront to God.
- I know (and respect) many Christians of deep faith, honest seekers of truth in scripture, who are 100% convinced that God blesses and affirms same-sex couples.
Consequently, with such diversity of heart-felt conviction within the church, I feel that the action of General Assembly to allow each minister to follow their own conscience in this regard is a good decision.
AS FOR ME…? I have to understand that if I am torn, if I understand and respect the positions of both sides of this debate, and if I also recognize and affirm the authentic Spirit of God in and through the faithful witness of so many people who are diametrically opposed regarding this issue, then I must move forward understanding that the definitive point of our witness cannot be tied to one particular stance on gay marriage.
Obviously this conversation is not going away, and it may well result in more division in the future, but it must not distract us from the essential and central truth of the Christian faith – the real and vital business of any church – and that is the invitation of Jesus to accept his love, to follow him, and to be reconciled to God.
Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. (John 10:9-10)
This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:17-19)
STAND! Whatever your “old life” has been, Jesus wants to bring you into a new one! Wherever you stand on any given social issue, your first and most important stand must be to stand for God. However we agree, or disagree, on what the Bible teaches, we must be united in our conviction that it teaches us to follow Jesus.
Stand with me on that; stand next to me in worship; stand on the promises; and we will stand together for the Good News of the Kingdom!
In love, and because of love – DEREK