Wednesday, 2 July 2008

The only way religion and politics mix

As I stated when I started this blog, I am a Christian and have been for nearly 26 years. When people hear this, their immediate reaction is to ask if I'm an Anglican or some other denomination.

Well, the short answer to that question is almost always "No". You see, I call myself an evangelical moderate Christian. Not an Anglican, or a Methodist, or a Calvinist - just a Christian. In my life, I have worshipped at a Presbyterian church, a Methodist Church, an Episcopalian Church of Scotland, an Anglican church, an Assembly of God, another Methodist Church, yet another Methodist church, and currently at a Baptist church. Each of these denominations have their own rules, regulations "do and don't" lists and approaches to even simple things like communion and who gets to take it when. If I had to believe in every single one of these rules and precepts - well, I'd be a bit like Sir Humphrey Appleby in Yes Minister.

I would have been for women priests and against women priests, for all receiving communion and for restricting communion to members only, kneeling for prayer and standing for prayer, sitting for singing and standing for singing, only recognising the King James Version and allowing all versions of the bible, vehemently against same-sex relationships and vehemently for them, condemning any form of trading or work on a Sunday or doing what needs to be done, etc etc etc.

Oh - and I'd be stark staring mad.

Better by far to go with what Jesus had to say on matters and worship where you feel (a) you are getting the teaching you need, (b) you feel welcome and part of the fellowship, and (c) you can test what the preacher is saying.

Why has this come to mind now? If you watch the news or read the newspaper, you may be aware of a schism which in truth has been in the Church of England for years threatening to blow wide open. It seems to be focused on a perceived "liberal bias" towards same sex relationships and homosexual church leaders, and the leadership of women as ordained priests.

I'm no expert on these matters, but I do have a view.

In the case of women priests, I challenge you to show me anywhere where Jesus says women are not allowed to be leaders. Yes, there are strictures in Mosaic law, and yes Paul did write in his letters of women misusing the role of leadership or speaking just to look important, but (a) Jesus came to fulfill and release us from Mosaic law, and (b) Paul was very supportive of women leaders who followed God's will (Priscilla and Aquilla, and Timothy's mother, come immediately to mind). It was women who misused that position of trust that were the issue. So I'm afraid I don't share their views on that one.

Homosexuality is a slightly more dodgy matter, and I hope I make this clear. I live by a simple doctrine - "Hate the sin, love the sinner". The Bible clearly teaches that this is a sinful practice - and I see no way of getting out of that one. But how can we condemn when there are things we do which are also sinful? Time and time again we are taught in the Gospels not to judge unless we are without sin - and believe me I do not fall into that category.

So while I try to accept all men as they are, I can see why the more conservative branches of the Church of England are upset. Is it enough for them to break off? I'm not sure, but then I'm not an Anglican - I'm a Christian, and Jesus accepted them as they weer while also challenging them. I hope and pray I have the openness to do the same.

Oh - and the only way religion and politics mix? There is no way unless it's in satire. Who was it who said "Christian Politics can be the most powerful force for good in the world, but a christian political party can be the most destructive?"


Travis said...

Fantastic post, CV. You make some very good points. Some of them remind me of some of the lessons I got from one of my Catholic teachers.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your interesting and candid comments. Wondering if you have ever happened upon a rather unusual article titled "God to Same-Sexers: Hurry Up." I found it while visiting Google. Mack