Christian BoyLove Forum #63870
There are ultimately the three ways of deciding what I believe is true / right / moral. Do I study the bible and come to my own conclusion, do I listen to what the church says on a topic and conform to that, or do I argue that 'A loving God wouldn't require that / do that therefore it can't be true'.
On some topics there's not a lot of feeling involved: the Christological doctrines of the church as defined in the Council of Chalcedon in 451AD
(half way down the page, look for the word 'consubstantial' - no, I don't understand it either) are not something that we are likely to get emotionally entangled with. :D
Child baptism is an issue which is rather more complex and relevant to how we live today. Those of us from churches which do baptise babies are regularly faced with the issue of whether to baptise the baby of parents who are demonstrably not Christians in terms of meaningful church involvement, but still want their baby 'done'. Do we agree on the basis that rejection is likely to cause a barrier to their future involvement? The only real justification for baptising babies is if their parents are Christians - though the Catholic concept of becoming Christians as a result of the rite does muddy the waters.
But those who don't baptise babies don't get a free pass here - what about the person who was baptised at 12 / 14 because that's the age when all their peers were being baptised, but had no faith of their own. But because they knew their parents wanted it, they went ahead and did it anyway. Or the person who was baptised at 16, has been active in the church ever since, but now, 30 years later, suddenly has a major revelation of God and says 'NOW I understand, please baptise me again'...
So to put labels on the approaches; the one that says 'Do what the bible says' is of course the Evangelical. The Catholic puts authority in the church, whilst a Liberal goes with feelings. None of us is 100% any of these - every Christian accepts a degree of church authority as a result of going to a church, whilst the sound of Evangelicals torturing the text to get it to say what they want it to is routinely heard in the land. But it is helpful to reflect on what your own basis for making decisions is before you wade into the gay issue.
What I'm hearing from Robert-I is that he regards the measure of love as the only basis for the decision. I'm curious to know how far he's prepared to follow that logic: what about three way gay relationships? Polygamy / polyandry (wife with more than one husband). Incest (the guy who does off with his father's wife - 'but we love each other' cf 1 Cor 5).
The true defence for the Liberal position lies in the belief that we should be guided by the Holy Spirit who will 'lead us into all truth'. At its best this approach does indeed challenge and discomfort those who are really only listening the tradition of the church - which has often bought into the beliefs of the world: thus the gross failure of many churches to reject slavery in the 19th century. The evangelical counter to this is to argue that the Holy Spirit won't say something different now to what He said in the past - specifically in the bible - and so we need to see if we are OPPOSING scripture. One of the bad habits of Evangelicals is to look for more in scripture than is there - and so make doctrine of what is actually speculative interpretation.
But to revisit the marriage thing - the fact that Christians don't have a significantly lower divorce rate than non-Christians and these days most churches don't bat an eye at remarrying divorcees is a clear defeat of the expectations of Jesus as expressed in the bible. The damage caused by fathers who abandon their wives and effectively their kids is enormous; one of my sometime YFs still says that the day his dad left when he was 7 is the worst day of his life. Yet a church that demonstrates by its behaviour that giving up on a marriage is no big deal and no one's going to stop you having another go, creates an environment where people will tend to fail to work hard at marriage. Such is the fruit of the church putting an excessive value on the suffering of the 'potentially good-serving lives [become] chaotic life-long excursions into futile, perpetual guilt and isolation' as Robert-I describes single people.
And of course there is the rub - we have come to the point where single people are assumed to live 'chaotic life-long excursions into futile, perpetual guilt and isolation.' Yes, being single is hard work - but so is being married. Us singles have to work at making the relationships that others have automatically. But the fact that Jesus and Paul seem to have made a decent fist of it proves it can be done - though an awful lot of churches need to work harder at being single friendly...
I hope that clarifies the issues a bit somewhere in there. Probably far too long, so - 'if you have been, thanks for listening'.