Having revisited Christian ethics via my class this semester, my view ethics is being refined, and I think this is where I am landing. I would love critique on this, as no belief of mine will ever be held with a closed fist, as far as it is possible with me.
Christian ethics do not apply to the wider culture in a pluralistic society. Christian ethics (what we should or should not do or be) is ultimately relevant only to those who profess Christianity.
Christian ethics are not universal ethics. At least not yet. I look back to Judaism prior to Christ. There were laws given in the Torah that all of us who are Christians can agree were only relevant for that particular people, and perhaps only in that particular context (of course, many modern Jews would disagree). Laws concerning not wearing clothing with two types of fabric, dietary laws, laws regarding the separation of women from the community during her period, etc. existed to make Israel a peculiar people, and for God’s purpose, not the ethical purpose of the world at large.
In the time of Jesus and the early church, there did not seem to be any attempt on the part of the church or Jesus to change the minds of those outside the community of faith. There was a radical attempt to change the way the community interacted with the community at large though. It is assumed that if the church was the church, the impact on the wider culture would be obvious and take care of itself. The scriptures simply do not care to challenge the assumptions of the wider culture without first introducing them to God. Without the assumption of God (and for Christians, God in Christ), Christian ethics are simply irrelevant to the world.
Does this mean that we do not vote, interact, and try to convince the world to change itself for the ethical better? Yes and no. To the extent that we are unable to find a common point of contact with the world on a matter of ethics, we should not try to convince anyone who doesn’t share our faith. If there is a point of contact, for example, Christians may think a way is unjust, it would seem right for us to join the coalition that is politicking against that war. It would also mean that even without justification that the wider world would accept, we as Christians would not participate in that war.
Christians must believe and act according to their faith, without regard to whether or not we can rationally convince others outside our faith of the merits of those beliefs and acts.
Christians should support those political ideals that agree with their theology, not necessarily their ethics. Example: Christians should not care one way or the other (as Christians) if non-Christian homosexuals should get married. That is an ethic that is peculiar to some strands of Christianity. However, issues of Justice (regarding oppression, etc..) are not Christian ethical ideals, but stand out as a theological issue, whereby we believe that God stands against all injustice for all people, not just Christians or Jews. So this means that we can be ardently against a war, and radically uncaring about whether or not homosexuals can get married (in fact, it is within the realm of possibility that a Christian may be ethically against homosexual union within the church, but still fight for the ability of those outside the church to participate in it).
Where there is a point of logical agreement in ethical matters, where a non-rationally based ideal of Christians overlaps with a rational argument in the wider culture, I think we should be on the side of that issue, being very careful not to tie our non-rationally based ideal with whatever rationale is given at the time. How often have we done that in the past, only to have our Christian ethic called into question because the logical rationale is no longer accepted?
At any rate, I would love to hear thoughts about this. This is a rough draft and I am looking for holes in my thoughts. thanks.