Monday, 29 April 2013

A Panel on Hot Topics

I had the opportunity to be part of a panel for our church's young adult group. We were to deal with a couple of hot topics in society today and give a few different perspectives on each issue to help the audience develop their own opinions. Importantly, however, was the recognition that none of us were speaking for "the church" or for this church. Official church policy is not currently in my portfolio. I'll be sure to let you know when someone asks me to act pontifically.

Here's a little summary of what I said. The other panellists had their own opinions but since I didn't record it I don't really want to misrepresent their comments.

Gay Marriage
The question here was whether Christians should support it and what does that support look like. Should we officiate same sex marriages?

My response was largely what I'd argued before on this blog. In addition I made some comments about the pejorative use of the word "gay" - particularly in daily language. Taunting and bullying are not options for Christians and we shouldn't stand by while others talk that way.

Christian Faith in the Workplace
I had to take off the theology hat and put on the manager hat for this one. I, like most of us, spend most of my days in service to the empire of money, as I manage a factory. I said that I don't mind if people are talking faith in my workplace but that slacking off from work is giving bad witness. Being proactive at work is much like going the extra mile when forced to carry a load for Caesar. Being an unproductive employee will turn colleagues and supervisors against you and against Christians.

That all sounds like a sell out, that the capitalist enterprise takes priority over the testimony of the saints. I think, though, that's a systemic issue more than it is an individual issue. Testify through good works, kids.

Admittedly, no one actually called it theodicy. The "why do bad things happen to good people" question is usually a bit of fun but they only gave me sixty seconds to answer it. I managed to invoke Luke, Matthew, Proverbs, Job and John in my answer. As you can tell, sixty seconds to harness those five didn't allow much time for nuance but did allow me to address the notion that somehow the victims of evil are responsible for it. "Who sinned, this man or his ancestors, that he was born blind?" is the rot that Jesus dug out. When his disciples asked that he turned it around completely to say that the man's blindness is the opportunity for God to intervene. Likewise when there is evil around us it is our opportunity to intervene; clothe the naked, feed the hungry, tend the sick.

I know it's not an answer that everyone's happy with, but it's the answer that most obviously leaps from the bible.

How should we respond when people say bad things about us behind our backs, especially because we're Christian? A quick return to Matthew 5 (with dips into Romans 12 and Petrine letters) was enough to answer this.

Overall the experience was good. I've not been on a panel for a while and I enjoyed the return. There were some questions texted in as well. I'll bundle them into another blog post for later in the week.

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