Negotiating post-Christendom?

Daniel Kirk teaches at Fuller and blogs. He has a post up that is negotiating similar issues (but in a very different context) around marriage and civil partnerships.

There are parallels between what he is saying and what I’m arguing in my paper ‘Sex, Truth and Tolerance’. I don’t know enough about the situation in North Carolina to comment, but what Kirk says about neighbour love and understanding that the rights Christians seek for themselves they also need to grant to others are important and often simply ignored.

As Christians, we have to be able to differentiate between different spheres within which we live. As Paul puts it in 1 Corinthians 5: What have I to do with judging outsiders? Those who are outside God judges. But do we not judge those who are inside the church?

We have a responsibility to guard the morality of the church in a way that God has not given us responsibility to guard the morality of the entire world.

Perhaps as importantly, however, we have the challenge of figuring out how to implement our dual calling to (1) love our neighbor as ourselves / do unto others what we would have done for us and (2) be dutiful Christian citizens in a pluralistic society.

When we hold positions for reasons that are clearly and fundamentally religious positions, we must take extra care not to impose these on our non-Christian neighbors–if, in fact, we would love them with our religious convictions in the same way we would have them love us with theirs.

In other words: if you don’t want the convictions of your Muslim neighbor to be forced on your through the laws of the state, you should not force your Christian convictions on your neighbor through that mechanism.

….

When Jesus was walking around, doing his thing in Galilee, the “opposite” of being a faithful member of God’s family was, without a doubt, being a Roman military officer. Not only an idol-worshiping pagan, but an agent of the force of arms that kept God’s people subjugated on the land God had promised them for their own.

And yet, the kind of ministry Jesus embodied, the kind of word he proclaimed, was such that a Roman centurion came up, asking for one of Jesus’ authoritative words on his slave’s behalf: “Please, save him… only say the word and he will be healed.”

Is this how those outside the church see us? Is this how we extend ourselves on their behalf?

The challenge for us when we feel that the “outsider” and “opposition to God’s people” is bearing down is to be those who so love our neighbor that even the consummate “other” would see us as an ally, ready to stand together against the enslaving powers that bind us all.

Can we, even if we disagree, be people of self-giving love, who will do for our homosexual neighbors what we would have done for our straight selves?

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