Where’s the line . . . is there a line?

30 06 2012

As I prepare for the 220th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA), I am once again amazed by all the ‘political’ issues that we will be dealing with.  Divestment in companies doing business in Israel and thus indirectly participating in the mistreatment of the Palestineans . . . statements on healthcare and conversations about the ‘occupy’ movement . . . and of course, the on-going, ever-present, century(?)-long debate about same-sex marriage: they are all topics and issues that will come before us over the next week.

These are things that everyone is talking about, right?  But are they really issues for the church?  I was surprised yesterday that two of my pastor-FB friends had made  public statements against “Obamacare.”  I found the bluntness of their comments to be extremely offensive, and couldn’t help but wonder if all the members of their congregations felt the same way.  You see, of course the Church should have thoughts on the authority of Scripture, various ways of understanding atonement, and how it might better be about the task of making disciples in the 21st century.  But when it comes to political issues . . . well, don’t we have to draw the line there?

I guess I find myself saying . . . maybe!

Surely the Church, and leaders in the Church, need to acknowledge over and over again that people of like minds and strong faith can and will disagree on important issues.  God is God and we are not!  And anything and everything we have to say about God is merely commentary.  One of the best ways for pastors and other church leaders to acknowedge this is by being careful, humble, and modest in their public proclamation.  Further, any comments that ARE made should be done so in ways that encourage civil and respectful diologue, refusing to mimic the harsh and demonizing conversations that have become so common in so many other places today.

However having said that, real faith will impact everything about our lives . . . including our politics.  That means that sometime the line between faith and politics is much lighter than we would like, IF in fact it even exists at all!  You see, what I believe about God DOES impact my decisions about companies that I want to support.  It DOES influence my position on laws that seek ‘liberty and justice for all.’  And yes, it most certainly DOES guide and direct my thoughts about marriage, family, and sexuality.

But yesterday, as hundreds of us gathered in hotels around Pittsburgh, all our differences seemed unimportant.  We picked up our luggage at the airport, boarded busses for our hotels, registered at the convention site, and greeted everyone we met with warm smiles and enthusiastic greetings.  Does that have to end today . . . when elections are had and votes begin to be taken?  I hope not.  THAT line doesn’t HAVE to be drawn.  And if it does, let’s not only avoid crossing it.  Let’s do everything we can, to erase it.





One response

30 06 2012
Martha Shute

Well said Bob! So glad you’re at GA, navigating these waters. I look forward to seeing GA through your eyes. As a person who is Often impulsive and lacking in restraint, I appreciate and rely on those of you who are able to maintain decorum! Lol! Rock that place, my friend!

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