One of the great slogans of the Church is “ecclesia reformata, semper reformanda” — “the Church reformed, ever reforming.” We’ve come a long way in the 500 years since the Protestant Reformation, but it doesn’t mean there aren’t things we shouldn’t still be working on. Issues will constantly arise which demand a Spirit-filled, theological response from the Bride of Christ, and when these things come up in-house, so to speak, we must be able to speak truth in love to address our errors.
I have been severely disheartened this week watching the Church at work in the world, and I believe we run the risk of falling into errors. I haven’t blogged here in . . . too long, and I debated whether to say anything or not. Now I feel I must, as these are things which need to be interjected into the current discussions. To be fair, my main concerns this week originated outside the Church, but it is the response of my brothers and sisters which has me troubled.
First comes the public outcry against Christian schools as epitomized in (and showcased by) what has been said following the Second Lady’s return to teaching at a school which demands adherence to Christian orthodoxy regarding human sexuality. More than a few news outlets have referred to the Pences as hypocrites, stating their Christian faith should prevent them from associating with such alleged bastions of hate. A CNN opinion piece, written by a self-proclaimed queer progressive Christian, scathingly denounces orthodoxy as exhibited by the school/the Vice President and claims in its title, “Christianity’s future looks more like Lady Gage than Mike Pence.” Both public figures claim to be Christians, says the author, but only Lady Gaga exhibits genuine faith in Jesus as evidenced by her progressive stances. As the religion continues to age, the piece concludes, progressive Christianity will win the day, and the hypocrisy of the orthodox will fade away, cast upon the rubbish heap of history as immoral and evil.
This concerns me.
Like it or not, Christian doctrine on sexuality is clear. It hasn’t changed for around 2,000 years, and it was never considered a bad thing until recently. The Church speaks a message of love to my LGBT brothers and sisters through baptism: you are loved, you are Christ’s, but you are called to celibacy. To believe otherwise, to say you are the first in history to get it correct, to state the Bible is wrong and those who believe it are evil, is at best unparalleled arrogance and at worst a heresy bordering on blasphemy as you put yourself above God in determining morality. Such things should never be accepted by any congregation or denomination. Such individuals should be lovingly corrected through a proper church disciplinary process as needed. They should never feel they are the future of the Church of Jesus Christ.
And yet we have given way to so many other things, too. This week, the state of New York legalized abortion up to the moment of birth. This is a tragedy on a monumental scale, a blatant disregard for life and the image of God all humans bear. As the Church began its proper outcry against this abomination, I watched more than a few Christians leap to its defense. Included in this group were more than a few members of the clergy.
Clergy. Ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Defending a limitless abortion law against its opponents.
In fairness, the majority of these didn’t understand the law (the allegation they leveled against those of us speaking against it). Between Roe v. Wade and the accompanying Doe v. Bolton, “health” in abortion law includes emotional, psychological, and familial factors as well as physical ones. If a woman can prove her health is at risk — if she says having a baby would be a serious emotional or psychological blow in any fashion — she is eligible for an abortion. The same language is used in the new abortion law in New York — and now those reasons are the basis for an abortion at any time until the baby exits the womb.
This horror was defended by preachers.
Yes, pro-life means more than pro-birth. Yes, we should be pro-immigrant and pro-stranger, anti-death penalty, and a host of other things which protect life from natural conception to natural death. But that does not mean I can side with a law permitting abortion and take the moral high ground just because someone else doesn’t like the law but also supports the death penalty.
If these are the men (and women) leading our churches, we need a bit more reformation.
We are warned in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3 that before the return of Jesus, many will abandon the Church. Apostasy will be rampant as people turn from belief in Christ. I believe part of this will also be those who claim the name of Christ but turn from biblical orthodoxy. I’m no end-times prophet — never wanted to be, never claimed to be — but it seems to me this is what we see happening. We see so many Christians defending the indefensible, supporting the unsupportable, and vilifying those who disagree — all in the name of Jesus. I cannot and will not say they are not Christians; all I can do is point out the error, the danger, the fact of a more severe judgment upon teachers, and beg and pray. Turn back. Please. We need more workers in the harvest field, not fewer. We need you. Don’t leave us to walk down the path of the world. We love you.
They may loom closer now than ever, but the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church. Let’s just make sure we don’t invite them in, either.
Semper reformanda — but always ad fontes, not ad populum.