I have been doing some thinking this morning about our faith.
It seems that there is no shortage of Christians who want to somehow justify the tenets of Christianity to the rest of the world. It is almost like we can’t justify why or what we believe unless we can convince others of the same thing.
I think of Muslims and how I would never dream of asking them to justify why they don’t drink. I would never ask a Mormon to justify why they don’t do caffeine. For them, it is simply a tenet of their faith, and the proof, as they say, is in the pudding. If you don’t like it, don’t be a Muslim or a Mormon. (as an aside, I know that there are Muslims and Mormons who don’t strictly follow their precepts, but in my experience, this is either the exception or a temporary lapse).
Why then, do Christians, especially in America, need to justify their beliefs and practices with logic or reasoning before they commit to them? Must Christians give a reason that justifies sex only within marriage? Must we give a well thought-out secular argument for keeping the Sabbath? Why do we have to convince ourselves by convincing others that abortion, war, sexuality, service to the poor, economic practices, and even general kindness are things that Christians should have a particular stance on?
In fact, historically, Christians have logicked (i made that one up, color me Tertullian) their way out of practicing things that are rather central to Christianity itself. Practicing the Sabbath, for instance. We, by and large, no longer do it because it makes very little sense economically or socially. but was that ever the point in the first place? Wasn’t it to remind us that God is the God who sets slaves free, never to be slaves again-and-don’t-you-forget-it-every-time-you-do-no-work-one-day-a-week? What about service to the poor and giving to those who ask of you (whatever you have done unto the least of these, you have done unto me…)? Christians by and large don’t do this most often because we logically reason that they will likely not spend the money the way we would want them to (and we haven’t cared enough about them beforehand to prepare something non-monetary in case we chance upon someone who has needs…). In the immortal words of the bards (also known as Caedmon’s Call), “And the least of these look like criminals to me, so I leave Christ on the street.”
It is almost laughable how loudly we Christians will argue for something to become a law that we don’t even practice ourselves. Abortion, divorce, and homosexuality are just as prevalent among those in the church (before we kick them out) as they are everywhere else.
Perhaps the question we should be asking is not whether or not the practices of Christianity make sense, but whether or not we are willing to do them anyway since that it what it means to be a Christian. If we aren’t willing to participate in the norms of Christianity (“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says”), perhaps we require a slightly different label. Perhaps we should call ourselves “admirers of Jesus who like potlucks”…