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Lest Ye Be Judged

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Recently I read on the news that the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Sydney echoed the call of bishops around the country for Catholics around the country to stand firm in moral opposition to same-sex marriage. Two responses predominantly captured the essence of the ensuing debate that happened on social media; one side was passionately for marriage equality, the other, disapprovingly expressed their opposition.

I found that most Christians on the thread relating to the news article, often appealed to emotion in their support of same-sex marriage. This appeal is reflective of the fact that traditionally Catholic Ireland voted with upwards of 60% support for same-sex marriage to be legalised via referendum; the voices of support came from the ranks of the clergy, all the way to the lay person.
“[The] Catholic Church needs a reality check” These words from the Archbishop of Dublin is characteristic of many clergy who are either supportive or not against the legalization of same sex marriage. With the exception of Matthew Vines, most Christians who support same-sex marriage generally don’t proceed from a theological position, but from a position of compassion for their friends or family.

Thus often in debates, it is commonplace for both sides to call the legitimacy of the opposition into question; “You’re not Christian; Christians are supposed to love; Christians cannot judge others, etc.” or “You’re not Christian if you support gay marriage; you hate the truth, etc.”

There is something very wrong here; although marriage is an important issue, it’s sad to see Christians easily turn on one another because one holds a different opinion to themselves. This is compounded by observers saying things like “You’re more Christian than X; why can’t there be more Christians like you, and less bigots like him?” This stereotype is common amongst Western audiences due to the idea that Christians are only about love; which is why it is so easy for both Christians and non-Christians to vilify someone who holds an unpopular opinion either in the Church or outside her.

Thus, it is important for Christians to debate and work out on how to live together as part of the Body, but this doesn’t need to degenerate into ad hominem tennis matches, otherwise, nothing is accomplished.

“That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: from whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” – Ephesians 4:14-16

Faith, grace, and reason

Surprisingly, a good portion of the Christian population tends to either choose between faith and reason when it comes to doctrine. Only in more thoughtful practice does one find the balance of faith and reason being expressed through grace and through this, does one inherit the truth. This seems like an entirely medieval notion in a society that acts and encourages through feeling; “if it feels good, do it. If it feels right, do it. Just do it.”

Whether you are for, or against, issues like marriage, abortion, prosperity teaching, etc; Christians need to not only display reason alone, or faith alone, but to express both faith and reason through grace when presenting arguments.

Balancing faith and reason is tough work; it requires an individual to thoughtfully examine their own views, their strengths and weaknesses through the lens of faith before proceeding to a decision. As Christians, we are bound to uphold the central teachings of our faith through submission to the truths revealed to us through Scripture and upheld by the Body of Christ. Hence, despite our tendency to compartmentalise matters of faith and morals, in essence, all matters are important and are to be examined in humble prayer by the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We did not inherit blind faith from the Apostles, so let’s trust in the promises of Christ through prayer and reason with ourselves and others so that He may lead us into all truth by the guidance of the Holy Counselor.

“But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” – John 14:26

 

This guest post was written by Jack Liang, a Commerce & Arts student at Macquarie University.

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