It’s been said that one of the best arguments in favor of Christianity is Christians, and one of the strongest evidences against Christianity is also Christians.
Case in point: The Gulnare Freewill Baptist Church, in rural Kentucky, which this week banned interracial couples from worshipping or attending the church. Read the full story here at abcnews.com
Jesus told us to let our light shine so that God can be glorified. When the church bans interracial couples, or tells abusers to just pray harder and abuse victims to submit, we are not shining the light of Christ, we are spreading the darkness of Satan.
Blogger and fellow Redbud Writer Jenny Rae Armstrong has posts on her blog about this craziness, along with another hot topic: the church’s response (or lack of response) to domestic violence. I highly recommend her blog to you, she writes compellingly and intelligently about some important topics. There’s a terrific guest post from Tim about the fact that Old Testament leader Moses was in a inter-racial marriage. She’s at http://www.jennyraearmstrong.com/
Here’s my wrestling with this: I go to a church that welcomes people of all races, that has worship leaders and elders of all races. I go to a church that would never tell an abuse victim to submit to further abuse. So the temptation for me is to say, wow, I’m so glad I go to a church that’s not wacky like that one in Kentucky. And the family involved in the Kentucky church plans to change churches. But do we, as members of the Church (the body of Christ) have a responsibility to come alongside churches that are misguided or wrong? Should we, at the very least, speak up and say, that’s not biblical, that doesn’t really represent the heart of God? What is the role of rational Christians when irrational Christians behave badly? How do we shine our light on the situation?
Hi Keri–thanks so much for the nod!
“But do we, as members of the Church (the body of Christ) have a responsibility to come alongside churches that are misguided or wrong? Should we, at the very least, speak up and say, that’s not biblical, that doesn’t really represent the heart of God? What is the role of rational Christians when irrational Christians behave badly? How do we shine our light on the situation?”
This is such a hard question, particularly because Christians can come to such different ideas about what constitutes “bad behavior.” But I think humility plays a HUGE role in this. If a person is humble, and willing to prayerfully seek out and listen to counsel from others (even, and perhaps especially, from people who think differently than them), it is easier for positive change to occur. If we’re prideful, correction might just make us defensive and send us further down a negative path. So it all depends.
I do think we need to be talking about these things, though, kindly and respectfully putting our views out there so that people can interface with them. You never know who may be listening, and needs to hear what you are saying. I was visiting with a friend yesterday who said the only way we really have a hope of changing culture is by being a faithful presence, representing Jesus. It’s not broad, sweeping reforms or programs, it’s US, being transformed and being present. I thought she was pretty smart. 🙂
Good thoughts here, Keri. And here’s the latest out of Kentucky: the church’s attempt to ban interracial couples from ministering – and even prohibiting wedding ceremonies for those couples – has been repudiated by the pastor and overruled by the area council. This is certainly good news for the kingdom of God.
As for carrying out our responsibilities when situations like this arise, I will piggy back on Jenny’s comment (“It’s not broad, sweeping reforms or programs, it’s US, being transformed and being present”) with a quote from a Charles Simmons, a British politician and lay pastor: “Life is made up of little things. It is very rarely that an occasion is offered for doing a great deal at once. True greatness consists in being great in little things.”
This reminds me of the parable of the talents, where the ones who are faithful are told, “You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!” That’s what God wants us to do, right? And when there is disagreement in the body of Christ about something, Paul has excellent advice for us: “All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.” Our heavenly Father will guide us to a correct understanding as we mature in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Thanks for giving us a chance to think through these things, Keri.
I appreciate your wisdom, Jenny and Tim. I have a strong sense of justice, and there is a part of me that wants to go fight against that kind of injustice. Perhaps the more important thing is to ask myself, do I perhaps perpetuate injustice in situations where I actually have influence, and what can I do to change THAT?
There’s definitely a time to fight injustice through broad, sweeping reforms and programs, so I’m not dissing that–I’m all for it, actually! Just acknowledging that changing people’s behavior is easier than changing people’s hearts, and is a quick way to burn ourselves (and others) out. I think we’re responsible to act and use the influence we do have to encourage others to do the same–but we don’t have to make ourselves responsible for EVERYTHING. (This from a person who used to think I had to point out everything I thought fell short of perfection–yikes! I’m learning!!!)