dimanche, mai 21, 2006

Leave 'em to it?

My own experience teaches me, as does observing that of others, that we are a self-justifying species. Confronted with evidence of what many consider "wrong-doing," such as pilfering a pencil here and there from an office, or driving away when I have smacked someone's bumper when I was pulling out of a parking space, I can find all sorts of reasons for rationalizing my own misdeeds. They aren't paying me enough here anyway, I mutter as I consider stashing some sheets of copy paper in my bag. Or...didn't that car have several dents in the bumper already? Sometimes I make myself feel guilty enough to leave the copy paper at the office or to scribble a note on the car. But I admit that there have been occasions on which I have successfully, (or unsuccessfully) rationalized my own behavior, and quickly forgotten it. On a larger scale, I have encountered divorced men and women, or women who chose to end a pregnancy who were convinced that the circumstances under which they separated were "special. They exempted themselves from the normal contritition that should probably accompany these events because of the "unique" circumstances. As we draw nearer to the next General Convention, I see a tremendous amount of self-justification going on within the Episcopal Church. On the one side (broad-brush strokes here) the pro-gay ordination/consecration crowd is saying: "I am an oppressed gay/lesbian, or I am friends with oppressed gays and lesbians, or I believe in a radically inclusive church, so what I and my colleagues are doing is, de facto, what God would do." On the other hand, conservatives are arguing: "I know what the Bible says, I am faithful to what the Bible teaches, and therefore, I am acting in God's interests on earth." My own bias, (and the church's mainstream tradition), is to consider or grapple with what the Bible says on a particular subject and test my conclusions or feelings against that standard. Often as I have said, I fall short. Sometimes I end up in disagreement. Like Tony Campolo (who takes the conservative side in the homosexuality debate) I believe that the New Testament says a whole lot more about poverty than it does about sexuality. But does that mean that we avoid the passages that make us uncomfortable, such as the injunctions about divorce, or adultery, or sex outside of marriage, or materialism? Or are we going to pick and choose which ones we find acceptable? These are questions that perhaps both sides in this debate could fruitfully ponder. Right now my family and I are attending a Lutheran church, where the focus is on contemporary outreach, mission and social justice. I prefer that to being in the middle of someone else's battle royal. I've got enough sins of my own, thank you.

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