In a culture that is hostile to Christians one has to admit to asking the question, why engage in the social issues of the day? The price is high, victories are few and far between and the culture at large seems to continue its inexorable slide each day. When the Christian stops to consider the definition of a “win” there is often silence. If our goal is to bend people to our will we find ourselves woefully off track and defeated.
Perhaps our objective should be colored with more humility. Rather than being seen as attempting to enforce a moral code at the end of a pointing finger we can be known for presenting a positive alternative. Painting a different picture of the good life, liberty and freedom that is winsome to those who stand in opposition to your beliefs, moral code and ethics. It will gain you an audience faster than vitriol and accusation and even if the recipient ultimately rejects your positive alternative they will have bared—if only to themselves—their true reason for choosing the social path that they are living.
Consider St. Paul’s imperative in the fifth chapter of Ephesians – “Be imitators of God”. The imitator takes on the characteristics of the original in such a way that the viewer gains the impression that they are seeing the real thing. Paul is certainly not recommending an idolatrous path to making ourselves into little-G gods. Rather, he compels us to model the attributes of God as He has revealed them to us in forming a positive alternative to share with the world at large.
If we recognize that God is patient [trusting in His Spirit to be work] and He does not want anyone to perish (2 Pet 3:8-9) and God’s kindness in this respect leads to repentance (Rom 2:4), we will also discover that He wants all men to be saved and to come to know the truth (1 Tim 2:3-4). If we further come to know that God is compassionate towards even those who are His enemies (Rom 5:6-8) and that His love for the world (John 3:16), we will better comprehend this love in terms of Christ dying for the ungodly (Rom 5:6) and that Christ had the same compassion for people (Mt 9:36-38). We can marinate in these twin threads of compassionate desire for the salvation of all people and develop from it a powerful positive social alternative.
If we are to be imitators of God then we must reflect to all we encounter the desire for their ultimate redemption and do so with compassion.
Image by Loreen Liberty
Bishop Thomas Tobin on Sunday said he made the request because of the Democratic lawmaker’s support for abortion rights. The news prompted debate among Catholics around the country and within the bishop’s flock in the nation’s most Catholic state about whether it was right for Tobin to publicly shame Kennedy for breaking with the church on what its leaders consider a paramount moral issue.
Angel Madera, 20, a Marine visiting his home in Providence for Thanksgiving, said before attending Sunday evening Mass that Tobin was wrong to assail Kennedy’s faith.
"If they believe they’re a true Catholic, who’s to say that they’re not?" he said. From Foxnews.com
Well, Angel, God determines who is a Christian and who is not. Since God has proclaimed His human creations to be very good and He participated in the creation of that life from its first moment in the womb I imagine He gets to make the final determination.
The problem here is not the postmodern-no-fixed-point-of-truth philosophy but that we in the Church often fail to take a stand on matters of holiness. Whether Catholic or Protestant, there should be a unanimity of thought and practice regarding abortion; it simply cannot be condoned by any true Christian. Those within the Church who feel that they can sidestep this issue while keeping the others has placed one foot on ice in your Sunday shoes. Valuing life begins at the second that it becomes so.
In Evangelical pastoral circles, the Bishop’s firm stand should cause us to consider how tolerant we have become of other sin within our churches. We should ask ourselves how much the prevailing culture has wormed its way into our churches and made tolerance our driving principle rather than holiness. Confronting sin has gotten a bad rap as we fear being caricatured as foaming at the mouth Fundamentalists. We’re afraid to call sin sin and teach and preach holiness. We’re afraid to take a stand.
Whether you believe Catholic theology or not, you should respect the Bishop’s stand when it comes to profaning the elements of God and what they stand for. There is always a gnawing fear in the back of the pastor’s mind that the congregation will turn on him if he brings holiness to the altar and asks those who truly believe to kneel and allows others to step away. The greater fear should be judgment morning when he is asked why he didn’t care for the flock entrusted to him.
“Have you guys heard the news?” Maggie (name changed) unwrapped the scarf from around her neck and patted her flat belly. “Preggers.” It was around 30 degrees outside, and her cheeks were splashed pink from the Indiana wind.
She had discovered earlier that week, after missing a period and taking the test. “I kind of knew already. My boobs and my lower back have been killing me for a while.” She shrugged.
My girlfriend Ali and I exchanged a surprised look. Our forks, dotted with pasta sauce, dangled identically, flaccidly, in our hands. She was quicker than me to gain her composure, and turned to address her best friend.
“What are you going to do?” Unnecessary question, really — a conversational life vest, used when you’re sputtering for something to say. We knew the answer. Maggie, a 22-year-old college senior with no intention of bringing a child into the world yet, was going to have an abortion. She told us that she had already made up her mind; she had even determined the time, date and location. A better question might have been, “How are you going to pay for it?”
She answered that one before we had a chance to ask. “We’re having a party Friday to raise money,” Maggie said. “You guys are obviously invited.”
An abortion party. For the price of whatever we were willing to donate, she explained, we could partake of baked goods, beer and dancing.
Dark, crushing depression envelopes me as I realize how deeply crass depraved and disconnected from the sanctity of life our culture has become. Two things strike you immediately; Maggie’s vacuous indifference to the life within her and the celebration-of-impending-death mindset that would lead people to hold a rave in its honor. Pray for these people.