Class Debate  

Posted by RogueDash1 in

For the last several weeks, my church group has been having some very raucous discussions Sunday mornings. Our teachers have started bluntly stating what the bible says, calling people out on contrary beliefs, and allowing discussion over their teachings. Whether the discussion is over evolution vs. creationism, or how to reconcile, if at all, biblical teaching with worldly teaching, or whether wives should submit to their husbands (1 Peter 3), we are no longer allowed to ignore the differences between the Word of God and the teachings of man.

The resulting arguments have destroyed the typical tranquility of Sunday mornings.

I don't wish to get into the arguments themselves. I'm sure they'll be beaten to death in the comments anyways. Instead, I want to look at the effect even asking the question has had on the Christians in the class. The question, generally stated, is: if the bible says this, and the world says something else, which do you believe? Since we are in a church, and everyone claims to be a Christian, everyone wants to answer: the bible. But then caveats and exceptions and accommodations are thrown in, and someone says those aren't in the bible and now you sound like the world, and so the argument goes.

The reactions to having an argument in church have been most interesting to me. The men have generally been enjoying themselves. We like having the debate. it has been far more entertaining than the typical lecture, we are learning new things, and we are being called to be actual Christians rather than just churchgoers.

However, many of the women, and a few of the men, have not been pleased with the new class. The peace and unity of a normal church class have been shattered by the back and forth nature of the debate and by the passion with which people hold their beliefs. Everyone feeling happy and getting along is important to them, and that people have gotten upset over the various subjects makes them upset.

And of course some people don't like being told they aren't following the bible. They want to think they are basically good people, but it's hard to rationalize that when you know you are doing wrong. So they argue that they are doing right and that the bible doesn't really disagree with them.

This highlights several problems withe the church, both the general church within America and my own church that I attend on a regular basis. The first problem I see is that many people are using the church as feel-good therapy. It's fluffy bunny Jesus. It's a touch, feely, group hug session. But if one wants everyone to get along or feel good about themselves, what does one do about Christians who still sin? What does one do when the bible calls for him to do something hard, or challenges his existing beliefs?

Saying that it's OK because your sins are forgiven is true, and it is a great comfort for we can never eliminate sin from our lives. But if you stop there rather than also calling for a new behavior, you have failed. What I am seeing is that in the church's effort to alleviate guilt, it has also eliminated conviction. If I do not feel bad about the bad things I have done, why should I stop doing them? Guilt is uncomfortable, but that discomfort drives me, or at least should drive me, to change myself so that I am no longer actually guilty.

But that's the hard way to eliminate guilt. It is much easier to say that one's sins don't matter because Jesus loves you no matter what and that you shouldn't feel bad just because you messed up. And now the church tolerates sin, for to tell a person to change is to imply that he is wrong, that he is guilty of something. To live in harmony and avoid conflict, we tolerate each other's bad behavior rather than calling each other out and risking a confrontation.

In the same manner, the church lets slide certain commands that challenge deeply held worldly beliefs. Most of the women in my class do not want to submit to their future husbands (we're a singles class). And half the men aren't going to ask it of them. Considering our feminist culture, I'm not surprised that Christians do not want to follow this particular biblical command. The church doesn't bring it up much, since it offends so many women. But a biblical command it remains, and when it does come up people go through serious mental gymnastics to rationalize why it doesn't apply anymore, or only applies in specific case, or otherwise try to get out of following it while still being able to claim that they are following God's commands.

I hope our class continues facing these controversial issues. The church weakens itself when it concedes it's teachings to the world or doesn't call Christians to actually behave like Christ.

It has helped me greatly to have these issues pointed out to me. Studying God's word, knowing what it actually says, synthesizing it into a cohesive, Christian philosophy, learning the opposing philosophies and views, learning apologetics, these have all helped me to realize where I had unconsciously absorbed the world rather than God. But while the whole 'learn everything' approach works well for highly logical, independent minded people, I suspect that the emotional and consensus based people need a strong leader or mentor to keep them straight.

That is really where the church has failed. It needs to stand for something rather than appease the masses.

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