Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Extra-Morality 3: Elevating Ourselves to Status of God

This Sunday an article was posted by two of my friends on Facebook. These two friends are largely fundamental, but the article they posted was directing blame at fundamentalism for offenses that are quite frankly not the fault of any movement.

The articles starts out with legitimate problems of sexual abuse and harassment occurring at fundamental colleges. It goes without saying of course that these problems could happen (and do) at any institution, fundamentalist or otherwise.

Yet this article opines that at its core, this problem is somehow the fault of the fundamentalist viewpoint. Specifically, we read,
"Many fundamentalist communities control their members by isolating them and strictly regulating behavior—especially controlling the flow of information from the outside world and between people. Bob Jones University, for example, forbids students from listening to certain music, filters their internet use, and prohibits certain magazine subscriptions. At Pensacola Christian College, students are banned from watching any television or unapproved movies."

These ideas (which embody a large portion of the extra-moral standards we have been discussing in this series) are allegedly creating a spirit of silent submission, where students are afraid to speak out when are hurt. The link is doubtful at best, since it has commonly been known that anyone, regardless of where they attend college, is ashamed to report such incidents. Quite frankly, this article is a textbook example of the correlation vs. causation fallacy. But that is not the point I want to make with this story today.

Ladies and gentlemen, it's real. I am not playing on fear when I tell you that Christians are becoming divided as sections of Christianity condemn the others simply because they have differing extra-moral standards.

Make no mistake, these allegations are major and need to be addressed, but there is no conceivable way in which we can blame them on the extra-moral standards of certain institutions. Fundamentalists do NOT need to be rescued by Christians on the outside, nor do Christians on the outside need to be taught how to love the Lord by fundamentalists.

But maybe you're not convinced. Maybe you can't yet wrap your head around the idea that extra-moral concerns exist that don't impact service to the Lord. It's okay if you struggle with my interpretation of Romans 14:14,
"I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean."

It's okay because regardless of where you stand on this issue, what I say today cannot be denied. Today, we set aside the controversy that I have been discussing to show the flaws in this condemnation with precepts that as far as I know, all Christians accept.

This rebuke was hinted at within my last post as well. There we saw that when we condemn others because of their standards (or for any reason at all) that we are showing the following to be true:
"Somewhere along the way we have become convinced that we are the end all of what standards are acceptable."

To be more frank, when we treat other Christians as reprobates for whatever the reason, we are elevating ourselves to the position of the Lord.

Let us not forget that we are all sinners, that we are all unworthy of the Lord accepting us or our worship. With that in mind, how can we be so quick to condemn others as unworthy because their standards are unfamiliar?

Even if you still believe there is something wrong with the standards some people hold about television, dancing, or similar things, the authority to judge such things rests solely in the hands of the Lord. As Romans 14:10-13 says, 
"But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. Let us not therefore judge one another any more."

Indeed, it is not our concern or authority to condemn those around us. The Lord will judge the intentions of his servants in regards to their standards and we can't possibly begin to do so. Yet we try.

In total, we may highlight why we think other Christians have flawed standards, but we must not blame them for all of Christianity's problems, or to treat them as if they don't love the Lord or people enough.

Let's not be so quick to elevate ourselves to the status of God; we must remember that the Lord is He who plans to judge all motives of Christians.

At its core, this problem of division and condemnation in our churches today comes down to a problem of pride, with no side being innocent. We have forgotten our place in the Lord's plan. We have forgotten that we are all simply sinners saved by grace. We have forgotten that we must focus on being acceptable to the Lord ourselves and not on whether others will be accepted. We have decided we can judge our brethren based on their actions, while still remaining humble and acceptable to the Lord.

But we can't. As James 4:10-12 states,
"Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up. Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge. There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?"

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