Sunday, June 10, 2007

Too liberal for the conservatives, and too conservative for the liberals

There are lots of ideological stances that divide us, particularly when it comes to theology - whether or not one believes that Christ is the only way to God, whether or not one believes that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, whether or not one believes x, y, get the idea.

I've always been fascinated by the fact that in our conference, one's perspective on the homosexuality "issue" automatically lands you in one of two camps: the "liberal" camp or the "conservative" one. I think you can figure out which is which. Rarely (with few exceptions) does anything else factor into this strange sorting process. (Interestingly enough, the Institute of Religion and Democracy paints with a similar brush...if I can find the article, I'll post it here).

Part of the problem here is the labeling of people into categories based on individuals believing "this" vs. "that". Such a dualistic way of thinking I find to be inherently dangerous (as it grants humans too much power to decide who is "in" and "out"). But another part of the problem here is that...some people just don't fit.

I, for one, don't. It's not just that I'm not liberal or conservative, or that I have some "conservative beliefs" and some "liberal" ones all mixed together. I'm not even sure I'm in the middle, really. It's more that these categories don't make sense at all when applied to me, or to some others that I know. I feel as if I'm outside of the current system all together.

When it comes right down to it, though, why can't we all just call each other brothers and sisters in Christ? Why can't we all see each other as God's children - just the same as everyone else? If we have to go around defining people, why can't this definition trump them all? In the end, "liberal" and "conservative" - or even "moderate" won't make an ounce of difference. How faithfully we lived out the gospel message, however, will. And really, isn't that all that matters?


Cedar Springs UMC said...


Your post gives me hope that, even in the 'liberal east' (did I just say that???), there are thoughtful people such as yourself. Thanks for putting your thoughts out there--and know that you're not the only one who thinks that way.

Take care,

Iris said...

I hear you. Here in the Bible Belt I am considered very liberal, but when I was in seminary I was one of the more conservative students. At least that's how I was labeled when the truth is that, like you, I am hard to pin down to any catagory. And I'm with you, should we be catagorizing each other anyway?

Gary said...

Several years back, in an argument about this topic, a man wrote something along the lines of "Did I miss it? Did we get all the orphans fed, all the widows cared for? Surely we wouldn't have time to call each other names if we were out doing the work of the church."

We as Christians probably don't stay busy enough. I know that my kids get on each other's nerves when they don't have anything to do.