Are Ye Able, Said the Master
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- Are ye able, said the master, (Beacon Hill).
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When Morning Gilds the Skies. Where Cross the Crowded Ways of Life. While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks. Will Sing of Jesus Love. Who could be against protecting prenatal children? Yet instead of approaching the abortion debate with humility, fear, and trembling at its complexity, often Christians leap to choose crude sides with demonic passion.
The second example is homosexuality, conflict over which has reached the Supreme Court of the United States. Moral conflicts in politics have centered on anti-discrimination protections and legal rights of homosexual partners likened to marriage; this fall the highest state court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts will decide on the legality of gay marriage. Reli gious denominations, especially the Protestant Christian ones, nearly all are in desperate conflict over a number of issues concerning homosexuality.
Again, the moral conflict is a matter of balancing values that are nearly universally held. Who can be against the right of gay and lesbian people to fulfillment and happiness? Who can be against social responsibility for the moral structures of such institutions as marriage and ministry? Passions in the moral conflicts about homosexuality are so high that surely more than sexual ethics is involved.humacgvebadli.ml/map30.php
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It seems a matter of religious identity. The third example is the series of moral conflicts that have arisen in connection with the recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. What are the conditions that should be met to justify the United States becoming an aggressor nation as it has? Have they been met? Patriots on one side justify the use of overwhelming force by the righteousness of the cause.
Patriots on the other side condemn the use of force because the cause is not righteous.
Dear Hymnary friend,
These conflicts have not even begun to be articulated with the subtlety and complexity they obviously need. And yet Christians in good faith are divided against each other with holy passion. Are we able to follow the Christian Way while we are persecuted by our own divisions on these and the many similar issues that divide Christians? Two tempting strategies exist that I believe will lead to disaster. One is to treat religion as a private matter and refuse to address in church public issues such as abortion, homosexuality, and war and peace.
In practice, this is what many Protestant pastors attempt to do, for the obvious reason of maintaining harmony within the community. The ongoing life of religious communities has many more values than just the resolution of these hot-button issues, and the cost of addressing them within the community is very high.
Nevertheless, religion is not merely private, and when it deliberately blinkers itself against the issues about which people feel so passionately it makes itself irrelevant to the real religious issues. The other disastrous but tempting strategy is for the church to address issues like these without a solid theological base, as if they were merely political or moral issues.
Without its theology, Christianity has nothing in particular to offer to the resolution of deep moral conflicts. Yet surely, the convictions need to be justified with careful argument, with sensitivity to the ways people with conflicting convictions weigh values, and with humility based on the plain recognition that our judgments are fallible at best. Only careful theology can put the measuredness of moral analysis and judgment in ultimate perspective.
The justifications need to be theological to address the reasons for putting infinite religious passions on moral convictions. However much pastors would like to avoid conflict, the riveting moral conflicts of our time need to be brought into the church so that we can live them through with intelligence and love. A university pulpit such as this one—especially this one with its history of moral leadership—cannot escape the obligation to articulate, analyze, and offer guidance, with all humility, on the issues that shape our watch.
I shall be preaching about these issues from time to time, beginning next Sunday with a reflection on how to read scripture when it offers support to more than one side in conflicts, using homosexuality as the test case. I invite you into the arduous task of sustaining a congregation in the midst of deliberately addressed conflict.
If you agree with my analyses and judgments, I hope you shall do so with arguments at least as complex as mine, and that you will share with us your better ones. If you disagree with me, I hope you take that as a special sign that you belong here to correct me and those whom I might mislead; to stay away in anger, or because of the pain of conflict, would be to fail the community.
You can get a copy of the sermons from our webpage or by calling the Chapel office. I invite you into a theological conversation that will not run from divisive issues but will incorporate the process of dealing with divisions in pursuit of truth into the life of the community. This church should be one you can come home to in order to address the religiously weighted conflicts of our time, not a place that suggests you escape. As Jesus said, the Way leads to crucifixion, and to many in the Church these moral conflicts feel like that. Beyond the crucifixion, however, is the new life of resurrection.
Like love in a family, love in the Christian community can bear up through the realities of conflict. A Christian community that embraces and works through conflict with brothers and sisters shines with the redeeming light of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Are we able to sustain the Christian Way when it engages the flesh and blood issues that command conflicting religious passions? I invite you to answer, We are able! This entry was posted on Sunday, October 19th, at am and is filed under Uncategorized.