Thursday, November 19, 2009

Struggles around morality

Inclusive or exclusive? Is there an absolute right and wrong? Shouldn't we as Christians be making a stand against 'free sex' or sex outside of marriage? What about homosexual people? How do we handle difficulties around cultural differences regarding nudity? Does the church have a 'prophetic voice'? Should it?
In the last two Saturday sermons that I preached I challenged people to see that being a Christian meant acting like a Christian, not just saying words. I nearly always do this, but these last two times, instead of giving them examples of wrong and right I told them to look into their own hearts and see what God was telling them. I said that they were the ones who should know what is right or wrong. They received this quite well.
The 'problem' with the church and 'prophetic voice' and 'moral stands' is that we think that by making rules we are going to make Christians or ultimately change society. But Christians are made by God and society will change when individuals or communities are convicted from within themselves (by the Holy Spirit) that they themselves should change.
CS Lewis reckoned that we could know that God exists because of our inbuilt sense of right and wrong. I wish that CS Lewis could be here now and help me to understand this in an African context. Sometimes right and wrong differ from culture to culture. But I do believe that God will lay a fairly consistent sense of right and wrong on the hearts of people, regardless of our culture.
The question is, 'will we subject ourselves to God and be prepared to sacrifice our own pleasures to a greater good?'


Thomas Scarborough said...

Not convinced. One of the fundamentals in one of my several theological educations was the corruption of the conscience. The conscience is not without value, though it only goes so far. From experience I agree with that, too. That would seem to be a side-issue, though, in relation to your larger point that Christians (and the Church) are made by God. I think that is crucial, and it's by no means universally taken for granted in the Church.

Jenny Hillebrand said...

I think that I was getting at an appeal to the Holy Spirit, not to conscience - although CS Lewis did talk about conscience. Would you say that that goes far enough? I would guess not (because if we are drunk or in love or . . . our inner thoughts can't be relied on) - so what else do we have or need to take us far enough?

Thomas Scarborough said...

While I'm not a good Calvinist, Calvin would have said that Scripture can be relied on. My personal emphasis is on the Spirit who convicts of sin, and righteousness, and judgement. I say, "You need the Spirit to touch you. It's a great privilege, if the Spirit convicts you." I have been amazed by people who have told me in counselling that they have a good conscience -- then reveal the most amazing things they have done in good conscience.

Herman Groenewald said...

We need to consider right from right and that is not so easy. Jesus got it right, can we?

Thomas Scarborough said...

The issue, I think, is HOW Jesus got it right, rather than THAT he got it right. In other words, can we emulate the dynamic, rather than the deeds. If one seeks to emulate the deeds, I would think there is not much between that and seeking to emulate Moses.