It’s been quite awhile since I’ve experienced a legit moral dilemma. I’m not the type to struggle so much as I rush in the second I believe I know what’s right, even if it’s not the thing I want to do. I go at morality like I go at band-aids… just get it over with and things can begin to heal. Another way of saying it is that I try to be single-minded in obedience to the extent that I sprint to whatever I believe is obedient, for fear that disobedience may have a chance to churn around in my thoughts and tempt me. I’ve learned that it’s easier just to immediately obey, and I definitely don’t do so because I’m oh-so-very obedient; I do it because I’m terrified of myself and of God. The worst times in my life have occurred in the time between realizing what would be right and acting on that belief.
This time, however, I’m feeling less certain about what obedience is for me. I’m not in the right position for my job to be as clear-cut.
Situation: Some acquaintances of mine are getting divorced because the husband is gay. They are active in the church and would certainly consider themselves to be believers. Another acquaintance of mine is their pastor and brother-in-law (he is married to the sister of the wife who is getting the divorce). To complicate matters further, their church is currently merging with another church and brother-in-law is stepping down as head pastor. That’s what I’ve heard, at least. Finally, brother-in-law is also a Realtor and he helped the couple sell their house when they decided to separate.
This whole thing is… wrong. I don’t say that because I feel like it’s wrong. In many ways, I feel like it’s far enough removed from me that I shouldn’t care. Then, however, I was talking about this with some friends and one of them was all, “He made financial gain off their divorce?”
At the time, all I said was, “Yeah, he did.”
Since then, that conversation has been sinking into me, and I’m irritated. Some of my other friends are letting the gay husband live with them while the separation gets worked out. They are also believers.
The Bible is not silent on this issue. I wish it was, but it isn’t. In fact, the Bible is pretty much crystal clear on how to handle situations where Christians choose willful disobedience.
I’m not unsympathetic. It would be easy for me to write this and come off like a bigoted homophobe, so I just want to throw it out there that I’ve literally (I do mean literally; I don’t mean figuratively, but with emphasis)… I’ve literally written a book on this topic because it is so close to my heart. I’ve only been in love once in my life, and it was with a gay Christian.
So, don’t get me wrong here… I don’t necessarily even agree with God about how this should be handled. I often struggle with the harshness of 1 Corinthians, where it commands that believers don’t even associate with a brother who is living in sexual immorality. The point, however, is not how I feel or how anyone feels.
The point is that truly believing in God requires us to give up our right to make our own decisions about morality. Rather, we submit our sense of morality to God, because we believe He is greater, wiser, more gracious, more just… than we are… especially when we don’t understand Him…
That is the core of Christianity.
I’m not sure how to explain it further other than to refer to the Bible. Christians do not belong to themselves. They were purchased by the blood of God. Therefore, everything about them belongs to God. Their morality is not their own; it is God’s.
When we start from there, it becomes obvious that the church and its leaders ought to press this couple. The church ought to seek their reconciliation. Church leaders ought to refuse to aid in this divorce.
Tragically, church leaders are aiding in the divorce and prospering because of it.
So… what do I do?
In the absence of others standing up, do I have a responsibility to say or do something? I’m not asking what you, my readers would do; I’m asking what God would have me do.
Way back when, I attended the church that all of the people mentioned above attend. Before I started attending, I went on their website and read all of their core beliefs. While I was reading, I found a shit-ton of grammatical errors. They were not stylistic choices or typos. They were the sort of errors that must be corrected because they make the writer seem incompetent and some of them even distort meaning.
So… being how I am, I emailed the pastor with a list of corrections to one particular page on the website. I didn’t have time to correct the entire website, and I didn’t want to be an ass, so I chose one specific page that I thought was most important to fix, and I sent the corrections.
The pastor responded kindly, made the corrections, and it was all fine.
Not having found any particularly blasphemous beliefs stated on their website, I started attending that church. Within months, I ended up leaving because I began to see things. What I saw made me believe they were disobedient in a few specific ways. Additionally, much of the time when the church was not being disobedient, they were approaching biblical truth in a shallow manner.
That was something like 18 months ago, I think. It may have been more like 2 years. I don’t know.
When I left the church, I thought about bringing my concerns to church leadership, but decided against it. I decided it wasn’t my place, and that God would do what He willed with that church.
Bringing all of that into the context of my question, do I have a responsibility to contact the pastor again and point out his errors? It’s such a sucky thing to do…
I’m not afraid to do so – obviously, I’m the type who tells people when they’ve ended a sentence with a preposition – but I find myself in the same struggle I had when I left that church. I find myself thinking that it’s not my place and that God will do with them as He will. I also feel so tired of being that person who is the doctrine police. Being the grammar police is one thing. It’s a silly compulsion. The doctrine police, however, is a whole other thing. Not only do I feel rude when I’m correcting someone’s doctrine, but I also feel young and I think, “Who do I think I am?”
I wish the people writing websites would police their own grammar and that pastors would police their own doctrine and practical theology. But, of course, we live in a fallen world where things are so often broken.
Am I being lazy? Am I getting it wrong similarly to the way Jonah got it wrong, but for a different reason? He didn’t want to go to Nineveh because he knew they’d repent and be saved. I don’t want to go to this pastor because I believe he will not repent, and he (and several of my other friends) will hate me. I don’t care so much about their hate as an emotion or as negative perceptions of me… I care about the hassle. I don’t want this fight. If I were to choose a battle for myself, this wouldn’t be it.
Am I far enough removed that the task of telling the truth belongs to someone else? Part of me genuinely believes I should say nothing.