Individual beliefs within a belief system
Is it necessary to have all believers united on a topical issue?
A friend and I had this discussion just last week. He thinks everyone who are apart of a church should be of the same or express the same view on all the beliefs of that body even if they disagree to some extent. I disagree with this totally.
To make things a bit clearer let me outline it here. My friend *Clive gave an example of when he was a teenager and became cynical about all the various denominations and their individual practices, even though they all proclaim to be following God and heading to the same heaven.
The way he sees it
A pair of bible workers (a male and a female) stopped by his house and he engaged them in a discussion about the commandment "Thou shalt not kill". A german cockroach happened to be scurrying by as the discussion took place and he took the opportunity to ask them if they both agreed he should kill the roach. One said yes and the other said no. An argument then developed between the two bible workers with one slightly belittling the other's view.
He took that opportunity to drive home his point to the bible workers about why he viewed christianity the way he did. In his opinion if believers had to follow the rules of their respective denominations without questioning it (one should not join a body if you do not believe in all their rules/guidelines) then those bible workers would not have argued in front of him, a potential convert.
The way I see it
In my opinion the bible workers were united on the thou shalt not kill commandment but had differing views on the principles of what to and what not to kill. They were wrong to allow their individual views to overshadow their bible study but were not wrong to have those views.
I believe that, the day everyone in a denomination is forced to have the same view on all topics is the day christianity will become something else. Christianity by nature, as is the bible, is democratic even on established guidelines. What do I mean?
The bible and christianity is clear that we must not kill. There is unity in that belief. However we have to kill for survival purposes. Food, shelter, health, war etc... Humans and pest cannot coexist without the threat to health. Therefore thou shalt not kill does not apply in all situations. We have to get rid of pests to protect our health.
Some criminals can be rehabilitated, some cant. Tough decisions have to be taken in order to protect a nations citizens. The same bible which says do not kill also points out that if one commits a crime against his fellow men by taking a life then he in turn should be put to death. Any denomination which takes on only one aspect of the bible will be basing their rule on personal opinions. The bible allows for democratic thinking even on topics which it seems one sided on.
Homosexuality for example is a total no no and is a punishable offence. The principle and nature of Christ and salvation however, points out that salvation is for all and that God's grace is sufficient for all. The only unpardonable sin is committing blaspheme against God. In light of this homosexuals should be treated with the same christian love if not more. A church which outrightly condemns and prohibits homosexuals from attending their services would not be all together acting Godly now... Would it?
If these homosexuals take to being brazen in their behaviour and disruptive in nature then the church has all rights to take actions.
Abortion... In my opinion absolutely no church has the authority, even through proclaimed divinity, to order their female members to bring to term a baby conceived through rape, incest or where the pregnancy is a risk to the mother's health and life. The ultimate decision lies with the individual. The taking of one's life (as harsh as this may sound) is sometimes necessary for the preservation of another. Who says that the life of the child is more precious than that of the mother? Many women who have been raped or impregnated through incest are affected psychologically. Should they be forcibly subjected also to nine months of carrying this child and many more years of possibly caring for the child. Decision must be made based on the situation and effect it may have on the victim. The church must however take a stance which forbids abortion at ones will. Having sex at will, getting pregnant and then aborting a child is cold and callous.
I for example, would not want to have to abort my child, give my child up for adoption, or be forced to go through the psychological struggle associated with raising that unwanted child. As individuals our strengths lie in different avenues. Some of us women are strong enough to bring to term a child conceived through rape or incest, then give it up for adoption and feel some level of comfort in that. Others can go a bit further and even raise the child successfully. Still there is the woman who is not strong enough to live with the reality of bearing this child for nine months, let alone raise or give it up for adoption.
No one woman must be forced to live the life of another. Our strength lies where our strengths lie. Why would I give up my sanity for a child which was thrust upon my body without my consent? Why should my church force me to do so? There are success cases of women who bring the child to term and either raise or give it up for adoption and there are failure cases as well. It is my view that a woman faced with such a situation must know her strength and weaknesses and act accordingly. Not under duress from any denominational dictation.
Any belief system where the members are forbidden to think outside of the guidelines established, in my opinion borders on being dictatorial in practice. I do not know of christianity being dictatorial. Guidelines must be set but individuals must not be forced into acceptance. Acceptance becomes a personal thing between the individual and God.
I do not agree with being told that I should not accept blood even in the case of a life threatening situation. That is not my church's decision to make on my behalf. There's no where in the bible where we are prohibited from accepting organs or blood to sustain life. Those who accept these medical operations and are alive are no less of a christian and are no less loved by God than those who have not.
Divorce is undesirable and not recommended by the bible. Would God have it that a woman remain married to a man, hell bent on beating and abusing her to death? In the case of children being caught up in such an abusive mess there is no question what my recommendation/s would be. I'll leave that for another blog (possibly).
If a church forces this woman and/or the children by extension to remain in such an abusive situation for the sake of preserving their beliefs and practices, and the worst happens, then the church, like the abusive husband/father, ought to be held responsible before God and man.
Churches must have established guidelines but there are certain such guidelines on which the church cannot and should not try to make the ultimate decision for all their members. Where the bible allows for personal conviction, personal conviction should be allowed to form the ultimate decision.
Accepting Blood to save life
The personal conviction of no one leader or set of leaders should become the ultimate decision on the behalf of all members. But guidelines must be set.
Within a belief system there is place for individual beliefs. Unity does not mean that we must agree on every i's and t's. We agree on the guidelines.