Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Are We "One in the Spirit?"

i am wary of "doctrinal statements," those strings of words that seek to define who is and who is not a christian.  my own congregation, through its elected officers, adopted a wedding policy that said that "for christians, marriage is between a man and a woman," a policy that tells me and others like me who believe in marriage equality that we are not christians.  another church in my denomination begins its statement of beliefs with "All Christians believe that there is but one God and that God is manifested in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit."  this statement says that anyone who rejects, or questions, the doctrine of the trinity is not a christian, since all christians are trinitarians.

such statements are attempts to place boundaries around the "true" christians, excluding those who have other beliefs and those who refuse to build fences to protect the flock and keep the apostate at bay.  many christians are so busy excluding gays, transgender persons, and other undesirables that they ignore the pattern jesus established in his ministry as he sought out those who were outside the fence of jewish religious practice, those who were excluded for whatever reason.  "don't question, don't doubt, accept our version of orthodoxy no matter how unreasonable," these boundary-makers say, and the area within their fences becomes smaller and smaller.

the capacity for compassion knows no such boundaries.  why would God have given us reasonable minds if God didn't want us to use them?  it's no wonder that the ranks of the "spiritual but not religious" continue to swell as the numbers of those who practice formal religion shrink.  our churches are too involved in making rules and establishing prerequisites that the needs of those outside the fence are ignored.  the ability to love and care for others has nothing to do with a catechism and everything to do with seeing that we are essentially the same no matter what our beliefs are.  we can't be one-in-the-spirit if we are wrapped up in building walls to protect ourselves from those dangerous "others."

may we stop thinking of ourselves as the protectors of the faith and start seeing ourselves as part of humanity, all of us searching for answers and seeking comfort from the vicissitudes of life.  may we love in such a way that no one need fear to doubt and question.  may we use our minds, never accepting any belief on blind faith.  may loving-kindness and compassion take precedence over belief.  shalom.

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