Is it more godly to date or to court? Should Christians send their children to public school, private school, home school, or unschool? Is it more holy to eat organic food or regular food? To vaccinate or to not vaccinate? To breast feed or bottle feed? The answer is… (insert loud, dramatic drumroll and increasingly dissonant strings)
As Christians, all of us (myself definitely included) regularly face the temptation to moralize our opinions. In other words, we can take something that we feel strongly about and attach a spiritual value to it. Then, when we see others who don’t live according to our standards, we can tend to look down on them or make them feel as if they are less godly than us.
Take the issue of courting / dating / dorting / whatever you call it. When speaking of opposite sex relationships, the Bible calls for absolute, unflinching purity, without any exceptions. The way that principle is worked out is going to vary depending on the nature of the relationship. You can call it dating or courting or square dancing or whatever you want. What’s important is that biblical purity permeates the relationship. I know couples who have sinned while courting. I also know couples who have dated in purity. I don’t want to elevate one over the other as more godly or more biblical.
Or take the issue of organic versus regular eating. The Bible calls us to steward our bodies as gifts from God. Generally speaking, it seems wise and good to take care of our bodies and eat healthy so that we can be more fruitful for the Lord. We get into trouble, however, when we start attaching a moral significance to a particular form of eating. Is it healthy to eat organic food? Probably. Is it more spiritual? I don’t think so. There are many godly people who can’t afford an all organic diet. There are also many godly people who, due to health reasons, need to eat only organic.
Why does this even matter? Because when we start elevating certain things as more godly than others, we turn into Pharisees. The Pharisees were experts at creating additional rules to lay on top of the Bible. In fact, they loved their rules more than they loved God and more than they loved people. They looked down on and excluded those who didn’t follow their rules. They crushed people with their rules. Their rules prevented them from seeing and delighting in Christ.
I would never want anyone in my church to feel excluded or less godly because they didn’t adopt a particular extra-Biblical lifestyle. I don’t want to be known as the home school church, the organic church, the courting church, or anything else. I simply want to be a biblical, gospel-centered church. There have been many times when I’ve held my opinions way too tightly and ended up unnecessarily excluding someone as a result. That really bothers me, and if you see me doing it, please correct me.
The Bible is wonderfully exclusive as it is. It calls us to an incredibly high standard of holiness and Christ-likeness. It calls us to pursue righteousness and purity and faith along with everyone else who calls upon the name of the Lord. Let’s hold tightly to those standards and let’s hold to our opinions loosely. In the way we speak and the things we post on Facebook and the emails that we forward, let’s make it clear that the gospel is most important.
Let’s not be more exclusive than Jesus was.