Continuing this week’s theme, the paradox of two opinions, I want to focus in on the common trap of making outlandish statements that would ostracize our fellow brothers and sisters from the faith.
Whenever I start talking about politics or education with another believer, inevitably the conversation will turn down a dark path where the other person will undoubtedly say something like, “I can’t imagine how any Christian could…” Really, what they are saying is that they won’t give any credence to anyone who differs from their preconceived opinions.
They’ll say, “I can’t understand how anyone can claim to be a Christian and vote for anyone who’s not a republican. Even voting for a Libertarian who has moral views is just a vote for the Democratic candidate because it splits the Republican vote. And not voting is voting in omission.” Four questions: Is it a sin to vote for a non-Republican? Is not voting really a sin of omission? Does not voting or voting for the ‘wrong’ candidate somehow thwart the plan of God, who establishes rulers? Are these sins ‘unto death’ that will cause a believer to lose their salvation?
Or they will say something like this, “I can’t see how any Christian, loving parent could send their child to a public school. They are just throwing their children to the devil.” Really? What research are they sighting?
What it comes down to is human fears and self-interests. There are good arguments for solely voting for republicans, regardless of their positions, but there have been negative consequences to these actions as well. While the idea of having a predominate republican government is appealing, it rarely resolves the moral dilemma in society. The point is, the process is much more complex than most people would like to see it. I personally don’t think we will achieve a moral standard by legislation. Our best efforts are spent evangelizing, not campaigning. Yet, in my observation, Christians who campaign are far more aggressive than when they evangelize. (Disclaimer: The last three sentences are my opinion. Hence, “I personally… in my observation…” I’m willing to concede if I’m wrong on these points.)
Concerning education, I just think people are putting the blame on the wrong sources and putting their faith in the wrong institutions. Once I told a lady who literally made the comment above, “That’s interesting, because a lot of the kids that I know who have the most potential spiritually go to public schools.” That usually throws them for a whirl. Not only that, but the woman who made the comment had three kids who went to a Christian School and none of them are living for the LORD today. Can we please stop blaming the public school system for why we are losing children out of our own homes?
Now I know that these people are well meaning Christians who would never (well, I can’t say that for sure) say that voting for a Democrat or sending a child to public school is a sin, but that’s not the way it comes across. We not only give the impression that we believe this lie, but we literally say it. We self postulate this deception to keep the fear alive and further entrench our self-interests.
Now to put my foot in my own mouth. I will go as far as to say that a person who makes these claims is not a mature Christian (in that area). Maturity is the ability to abstract understanding from a complex idea, i.e. discernment. When we oversimplify the process of voting and education, we are making something complex into something concrete. That works when you’re five and you believe the tooth fairy is real because you get money under your pillow whenever you lose a bicuspid, but not when you’re an adult.
Romans 14 tells us that there are doubtful things, i.e. complex issues. Paul sights food and days of worship, but the principle is that it is an individuals responsibility to abstract understanding from a complex idea and determine for himself what is right and wrong. It’s not any one individual’s responsibility to oversimplify the process for everyone else.
“As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions… Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind…” Romans 14 (esv)
I couldn’t have put it better myself.
So what are some issues with you that are non-negotiable where you find yourself saying, “You can’t be a Christian if…?”
For further reading also check out related articles in the Mishandled Series…
Mishandled – The Weaker Brother
Mishandled – The Weaker Brother Part 2
Mishandled – Opinions
Mishandled – Sin
Mishandled – The Bigger Person