conflict over moral ideas
January 3, 2008
After preaching at 18:30 of the 31st, I drove over to Klein Kariba with a friend. A number of my friends was there for a outreach program in the holiday resort. Very few students remain in Pretoria over New Years, and I wasn’t feeling like spending New Years on my own. I was aware of some tensions in the group before going, something that is not necessarily abnormal, throw a random number of people into a small space for a weeks time, especially if their is no one that is capable, and has the authority, to facilitate conflict in the group, and you’re bound to have some tensions.
What all the tensions was, I don’t know, but on this evening one part of the tension was really tight. One guy didn’t use any alcohol, and the rest did, and this resulted in a lot of bad feelings. How did this happen? At first I was kind of uncomfortable with the anger that was present towards this poor guy, I mean really, it’s his right not to drink any alcohol if he likes to, and I know some people with similar views, and haven’t seen tensions over it. I mean, the chairman of our house last year didn’t use any alcohol, and still he was voted chairman by the students, and never was there any issues about this.
But than one of my friends started explaining things. The tensions was especially between two people. The non-drinking gut, and another girl. This guy had very strict black-white answers for everything, while the girl knew that this was not always possible. So from time to time this guy would throw Bible-verses at the group, and at this girl in particular, to show them how wrong they were. Then something started falling in place. I’ve seen this before.
You have someone with particular ideas on something, and in effect they start telling those differing from them that they are wrong, throwing the Bible at them in a way that says: “you are a sinner! you are a heretic” (even if they will never say this directly. It’s not something that is nice to hear, and in many Christians this cause some antagonistic feelings, since someone is calling me an “outsider”, actually not part of the Christian community (yes, read your Bible, sinners and heretics ain’t part, wasn’t this what Paul fought so hard for, to show people that sinners are part of the Christian community because of Christ). This then cause some reactions, many times the type that lets this poor guy feel quite stupid, and others the type that is just purposefully making as if one is even worse than he is saying.
OK, long story, little specifics, but I’m sure you’ve seen this. Some people can have their ideas, whether conservative or not, about things, without ever causing bad feelings among others, while some people really cause a lot of tensions because they are pushing at everybody who differs from them, always telling them they are wrong and what have you. Looking at the history of the church in society, and how concepts have changed over time, it might be a good idea to be very very cautious when telling fellow believers what to do and what not to do. And this goes for those on both ends of the spectrum.