Sunday, May 3, 2009

Fragmented Christianity

It is time for to take a moment to discuss something that has been bothering me for some time with my Faith, Christianity-polarization. Who is surprised that I am once again talking about the exact same subject that is dominating my other posts right now? I am a bit hesitant to write this knowing that many people who might read this are not Christians, nor interested in what I have to say here, but regardless, our Faith plays a role in everyone's life because (politically) we are still more powerful.

Christianity in the United States has become as polarized as everything else. Where the Church may have once been a place of dialogue, it is not divided between Conservative "morality focused" Christians and liberal "society focused" ones. I have some news. The Bible is clear on the much of the morality stuff about no excesses, no sex before marriage, etc (I will NOT be touching marriage issues here, I believe that what the Bible bans most explicitly is fornication, and I do not believe that marriage is that sacred of an institution after having read enough history to know that it was used for political means more often than not and even if it is sacred in the Church, to become officially married one needs a legal document rather than a religious one making it an issue of separation of Church and State. I believe in the separation of Church and State AND State and Church). Anyway, to get back to my point, conservatives win the moral argument, I am not, not matter how much I want, supposed to have sex before marriage. The other side of this is what I AM supposed to do. The liberal side of Christianity is at least just as heavily stressed in the Bible. We are supposed to heal the sick, support the poor, love our neighbors as ourselves, not kill, etc. This translates into social programs, no death penalty, and a responsibility to fight against injustices. This is pretty liberal stuff that has been shunned by the Conservative wing of the church too focused on banning gays and attacking abortion. It was the conservative wing that has called Katrina a punishment by God against us (funny that God only seems to punish the poor, right?) for our evil ways. Let's get it straight. The relativistic moral behavior among liberal Christians is wrong, but so is the complete lack of regard for the well-being of others present among so many conservative denominations and groups. We have taken our disagreements and split our churches to the point where we are disappearing because we refuse to get along. The church I grew up in in Blanco, TX divided over same-sex marriage! How does this have ANYTHING to do with our responsibilities dictated to us by God? We destroy ourselves by splitting apart and have rendered impotent our attempts to address the myriad of social issues still present in society.

I, as many of you know, am inclined toward the more liberal branch of Christianity. I have, however, had to come to terms with the moralistic side. For that reason, I exhort fellow Christians to please recognize that our split into liberals and conservatives has weakened both of us to the point where we are not following our calling as people of Faith.


  1. I agree and also think the true polarization has come in the mentality of the separation of 'conservative or liberal' Christian sects. Although there are big 'T' truths to which Church should stand upon, I think unity should be the ultimate focus of the body of Christ. Jesus gave us two great commands, "Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. ’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself. 'All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments" (Matthew 22:37-40). Why are the two greatest commands ones that hinge on relationship? A Hebrew Rabi once spoke of the two commands in relation to the bible by exclaiming, "the rest of the bible is simply commentary on these two commands." Read every letter within the new testament and you will find that Paul (among other authors)are not so much concerned with installing rules and laws, but helping the churches they were writing to maintain unity. There is a healthy balance in the middle of both branches which you described. Yes, we as Christians can agree that Homosexuality is wrong, but does that mean we stop loving them (there is a difference between loving someone and accepting the actions that they commit)—which is we Jesus can say love our enemies (not that homosexuals are our enemies..). We as Christians acknowledge the moral values we see displayed in God's Nature (seen through his word)and abide by them, but remember that Loving God and Loving our neighbor is the greatest of these commands. Jesus did this perfectly, woman at the well, the woman who was about to be stoned, even the Pharisees. Jesus perfectly loved all of them. The church is in a constant tension of maintaining a healthy balance of loving and yet maintaining our moral values. We have seen areas where certain church place too much emphasis on one stream and miss the positive attributes of the other. Although we are Christians, we are still broken people and must remember that as we deal with other people—The same grace God has extended us is the same grace we must extend others.

  2. As a reply, I feel that, as I said before, while morality is an important part of Christianity, the other side is just as important. I feel that many churches have taken the easy way out, condemning homosexuals while refusing to recognize our call to defend those who are unable to defend themselves. Shunning people who believe that homosexuality should not be the central issue of discussion in the modern church is overkill. In all seriousness, I really don't understand why people have put so much energy into the homosexuality issue when there are a myriad of problems far worse that, yes, are part of the T Truth stuff.

  3. In addition to what I said above, I still feel that being able to debate that WITHIN the Church should be our goal, not shunning those who disagree as blasphemers. The problem with the US church is that each side believes the other has all the answers when, in fact, our success depends on uniting both sides to undertake God's work.

  4. any movement has its strengths and weaknesses. The movement in which you speak is called the Social justice movement. Here are some of the strengths it brings to the body of Christ. But also some weakness if carried to an extreme. I don't have much time to devote to this today (papers are killing me) but let me know what you think:

    Strengths of this tradition:
    a. It focuses on the priority of relationships seeking harmony with no political or ethnic distinction (Gal 3:28)

    b. It provides a bridge between personal ethics and social ethics. Integrity in attitude and action.

    c. It gives relevance and bite to the language of Christian love.

    d. It gives us a foundation of ecological concerns. The peace extends to the earth itself.

    Potential Weaknesses:
    a. This tradition can become an end in itself. We cannot just meet needs and not attend to the heart.

    b. Can be prone to legalism and pride.

    c. It can become political.

  5. My response to that:
    Of course it has those weaknesses, which is why we have to get back to a united Christianity with diverse viewpoints combined rather than separated. These conflicts between the different elements of Christianity have always existed, and we just have to learn to work together. (Easier said than done, though).