Saved by Affirming the Right Moral Stance

Just a quick thought, in light of Article X in the Nashville Statement: If our salvation is dependent on picking the right side during turbulent culture wars, the majority of our heroes of the faith is in hell for racism, sexism, and violence.

Martin Luther advocated horrific violence against Jews.

Augustine was, shall we say, not trying to look anti-misogynist.

Many great American Christians owned slaves and thought white people were superior to black people because the Bible clearly says so. 

Do we really want to get into this territory of deciding who is in and who is out based on where they land during the culture wars? Do we really want to take it upon ourselves to condemn the millennia of Christians before us who held the wrong social views? Do we really want to go there?

I certainly don’t. I’m not qualified to judge other people’s souls or the work God is doing in them. I believe there’s great urgency and need to discuss what is the Christian view on certain social issues, but that is far different from saying there’s a need to discern who is damned and who is saved — particularly on the basis of one, controversial topic.

It’s telling that those who support Article X don’t want to “go there” when it comes to any other moral issue. Apparently, supporting LGBTQ+ people after careful research, prayer, and study is a damnable offense, but the Christians who came before us who advocated violence instead of peace, racism instead of dignity, misogyny instead of equality — they get a free pass? God isn’t as strict on the supporters of other social evils as he is on the supporters of homosexuality?

How pathetic a gospel whose effectiveness wears off with one dose of LGBTQ+ acceptance! A gospel that covers a multitude of racial sins but just can’t quite reach LGBTQ+ acceptance. Knowing my own proclivity toward ignorance and misunderstanding, I find no comfort in grace contingent on me figuring out an issue as complicated, personal, and emotional as same-sex orientation and gender dysphoria.

The irony is that we all struggle with what is right and what is wrong. We all fall prey to misinformation and a lack of opportunity to learn the truth. We all have a tendency to get caught up in what our tribe says and lambaste the opposing side. We all share the same nature and the same Spirit and still come to radically different conclusions. We all believe that our careful, prayerful opinions (and even our rash, bigoted ones) are the Christian way. And often, we all once held the viewpoint we now oppose — with equal conviction about what the Bible clearly says….

Do we really want to be damned by the same standard of human frailty we all share?

Do we even want to judge ourselves in this way — that back when we believed such and such a view, even while we loved Jesus and sought his heart, we were damned? But now that our thinking evolved through whatever journey it took, we are saved by our affirmation of this moral, political thing?

Lord, have mercy on my soul if that’s the case, because I loved Jesus and believed some pretty abhorrent, ignorant things at the same time. Thank goodness I reached a state of enlightenment on moral issues before an untimely death.

This is what is meant when Jesus said, “Judge not, lest you too be judged.”

Nobody escapes damnation if salvation is dependent on believing the right things instead of on the scandalous mercy, grace, and love of God.

If we want a gospel, a grace, a salvation dependent on our political, moral stances, so be it — but we too will face the hellfire to which we damned others.

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13 thoughts on “Saved by Affirming the Right Moral Stance

  1. Norm Erlendson

    What you say is so very true. Who appointed this band of white male patriarchs to be our high priests channeling their understanding of the voice of God to the rest of us. Their high view of scripture is not as high as their view of themselves.

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    • Bailey Steger

      This is, I think, a major problem with the “high view” of Scripture, where any one individual can read and decide on his own without wrestling publicly with the rest of the church — it’s hard to know when Scripture is leading us, and when it’s really just our own desire to justify our opinions.

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  2. heather

    I realized a long time ago that the churches I attended were on the wrong side of history pretty much every time they took a stand on a social issue in the past. What would make me think that they were correct now?

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    • Bailey Steger

      That is a concise way to express my doubts about the correctness of the conservative church’s stance. Their past failures aren’t enough to make me throw out everything conservatives have taken a stand on (I am still pro-life, for one thing), but it does indeed make me wary of looking to them as a moral authority.

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    • David

      Heather: YES. That’s my journey out of conservatism in one paragraph. Well said! (I mean, obviously there were people and events without which I might never have left. And that’s fine; they can go into the MULTI-paragraph version. But this is just — gosh. You’ve captured the *heart* of it, and it’s pithy and polished and beautiful.)

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  3. Courtney

    Awesome article Bailey! I’ve been hearing stuff about the Nashville Statement circulating through the Christian Web and truth be told, I feel it’s a bit absurd. It seems, though I haven’t read the article myself, that they’re putting more emphasis on where a person stands on feminism and LGBTQ acceptance than they are on the Gospel, which I find truly sad.
    Furthermore, I feel (and have felt for a while) perplexed as to why these seem to be the hills the church is willing to die on. Of all of the things that the church could choose to focus on (feeding the hungry, helping the needy, sharing the Gospel) This is what they choose? Not to mention that these issues are both So much more complex than most Christians are willing to admit. Anyways, done with my mini-rant now. This is just my two cents, for whatever it’s worth.🙂

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    • Bailey Steger

      Yes!! There are SO MANY moral/social issues the Bible is clear on and all Christians agree on (even if they don’t practice it) — why aren’t we loudly advocating for those as one body?

      And you’re so right that LGBTQ issues require far more education and complexity than the average Joe reading the Bible possesses. We’re dealing with psychology, science, contextual nuance, etc., and much of this is newer-ish research. To rashly make claims on how the church should welcome (or shun) LGBTQ people without knowing all the pieces to the puzzle is ludicrous to me. It’s akin in my mind to shunning mentally ill people because of their chronic “sin” of worry or anxiety (which sadly happens in churches ignorant of mental health) — you have NO CLUE about what’s really happening with these people, but you’re so willing to label it a sin, insist they can change, and shun them for it? If we’re uncomfortable with the idea of mandating the “Christian” response to mental health issues in a one-size-fits-all way (and we should be), why are we so confident about mandating the one and only “Christian” response of dealing with gender dysphoria, for instance?!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Allison Caylor

    To be honest, I’m not sure how Article X could be saying that LGBTQ allies aren’t saved. Surely you recall the evangelical belief that you can be engaged in a serious sin (a porn addiction, for example) and still be covered by Christ’s blood through faith in him. That doesn’t make it okay, and other people shouldn’t pretend it’s okay, but all of us are being changed and sanctified as we go through life and you don’t have to be perfect to be part of the body. So, while I don’t necessarily agree that holding a certain position on sexuality is *sinful,* the fact that they consider it to be sinful/not a healthy part of the Christian walk does not mean they damn the person who holds that belief. In fact, among mainstream evangelicals and especially the quasi-reformed types who put together the Nashville Statement, the only qualifier for “who’s in and who’s out” is who looks to Jesus for redemption. And nothing in the NS has to do with that, so it’s clearly not a “we’re saved, you’re not” document.

    I’m pretty sure this is all stuff you know already; I just don’t see how it matches up with what you’ve written. I’m interested to hear your thoughts. :)

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    • Bailey Steger

      There was a big Twitter war about this between signer Karen Swallow Prior and LGBTQ+ advocate Rachel Held Evans. :) KSP insisted the statement was not intended to imply that LGBTQ+ advocates were not Christians and indeed, the statement could not be interpreted that way. I totally see how a sensible person like KSP could interpret Article X in that way.

      BUT, the president of CBMW Denny Burke came and clarified that RHE’s interpretation of Article X was the correct one. Here’s what he said: “Readers who perceive Article 10 as a line in the sand have rightly perceived what this declaration is about. Anyone who persistently rejects God’s revelation about sexual holiness and virtue is rejecting Christianity altogether, even if they claim otherwise. Or as the apostle Paul puts it, ‘For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality. … Consequently, he who rejects this is not rejecting man but the God who gives His Holy Spirit to you’ (1 Thess. 4:3-8). The stakes are higher than the revisionists want you to believe, and The Nashville Statement aims to clarify that. … The Nashville Statement leaves no room for such revisions nor does it leave ambiguity on the question.”

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      • Allison Caylor

        Okay … wow. I didn’t know about that statement. I still think his interpretation of the words themselves is, ironically, incorrect; but if that’s what they meant, then I heartily disagree! Thanks for getting me in the loop. Thinking the Bible leaves room for LGBTQ = damnation is heresy, IMO. Gross.

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