11 Aug When the term ‘Christian’ gets kidnapped…
At the moment we are facing a variety of complex debates in our society. Just to name two, debates about Euthanasia and Marriage Equality are continuing to incite passion and cause pain.
In both these debates the term ‘Christian’ is used and misused, by individuals and lobby groups, as well as by some in the media. This misuse occurs when it is implied, or stated, that when some Christians speak they represent the views of all Christians. This is not the case. The misuse of the term ‘Christian’ also occurs in the media, when, conveniently, all people who are Christians are presented in caricature, as people who are slightly amusing, yet in actuality, unthinking bigots. To kidnap the term Christian, which connotes that a person is a ‘Christ one’, a follower of Jesus, for personal or political agenda is disingenuous.
In the Uniting Church we do not have a hierarchical view of leadership, in which one person is the spokesperson for all Uniting Church people. Instead we honour the valuable place that all members of our communities have, lay and ordained (clergy) and that Great Spirit is with all people, at all levels of the church.
This is why, amidst these public debates, offical Uniting Church statements are rarely made. We come to decisions, and statements, through the hard work of deep listening to one another and Great Spirit in council, as we seek to to stay in friendship with one another, even as we disagree. Sometimes we fail, sometimes we are able to do this. We keep trying.
Amidst these current heated debates it is tempting to be swept along by the shrill voices of those with whom we most agree, or to be dragged under by the shrill voices of those with whom we disagree. This is exhausting and helps no one, including ourselves.
Instead, even though it is far more difficult, and much less sensational, staying calm, continuing to learn and reflect, being open and listening deeply get us closer to truth.
Below are links to two articles, both written by Australian Christians: Uniting Church Minister and Scholar Rev Dr Robyn Whitaker and Baptist Minister and Scholar Rev Dr Jason Goroncy. One speaks about Marriage Equality and the other about Euthanasia. Both are written with thoughtfulness, humility, openness and grace.
I recommend these articles for two reasons. The first reason is that they provide examples of the diversity within the ‘Christian’ world view and the second reason is that they may provide food for thought in your own ongoing discerning.
In the meantime, when you next hear or read the word ‘Christian’ in public debate, be alert to the way in which the term is being used, for what purposes and by whom.
Rev Dr Sally Douglas