Making Policies might Be a Bad Policy
I understand that when governing a denomination, or a church body, or even a secular government, the decision makers just don’t have enough time to give attention to address everyone’s personal situations. So it makes sense that they make Yes and No rules. They write up documents that say “This is allowed” or “That is NOT allowed. ” And it has to apply to everybody.
For example, in a car accident, lets say you see ducklings waddling across the road, you stomp on your breaks, and I crash into your back end. Even though it may be 25% your fault and 75% my fault (or whatever) the government does not have the resources to add clauses about ducklings and every other situation, The best they can do is apply 100% of the blame to one person. In many interpersonal crimes, I would think, it is inaccurate to pin 100% of fault on one person. But in the end, it is only one person who is either labeled 100% guilty, or not guilty.
And in churches, for example, some church governing bodies look at the instructions in the Bible and debate whether or not “Abortion is always wrong” or “Homosexuality is always wrong.” I picked those two issues NOT because I lean a certain way on either of them (the jury is still out for me), but because they are good examples of our tendency to make very complicated, nuanced and individual situations conform to policy.
These issues are not simple. And whether these are the issues being debated or one of a multitude of other issues, it’s not always about choosing what is right. I think, sometimes our only option is to choose the option that is less wrong. Here’s what I mean.
I’m guessing that it’s not accurate to say abortion is always the wrong choice. What if the baby is already brain dead and the mother is at risk of dying? Is abortion wrong if it would save at least one of the two lives, instead of both of them likely dying? Maybe this is a very complicated decision God is putting into our hands to do our best to decide which is better.
And if homosexuality is the issue in question for someone at a church that doesn’t affirm it, what if a man was sexually abused growing up and through it was introduced to homosexual promiscuity. And after 40 years, no matter how he tries, and how much counseling he gets, and how much he participates in his 12 step program, he just can’t seem to kick his pursuit for physical intimacy? A lot of heterosexuals understand this of course too, and Paul tells all of us in the Bible that it is better to marry than to burn with lust. If this man found a single loving partner to commit his life to would that be worse than repeatedly falling into promiscuity throughout his life? If your church would still think it is absolutely wrong, what if I said they were both Christians wanting to commit their lives and mission to God, and they could do it better together than apart, and decided not to have sex and just share their love? Is “Homosexuality is always wrong” still the most right answer? Whatever the issue is, I’m just trying to get folks to see that there may not ALWAYS be a black and white answer that applies the same to every situation.
But, no matter which answer you gave for these, we must be careful not to make THAT into new policy. I mean, if a church were against it but did it once it would be easy to give permission every time someone says, “I can’t seem to boot my homosexual desires, and you let that guy marry a man, so you should let me marry one too.” Treating each situation like it’s own situation definitely doesn’t make things easier, or systematized, but it makes each person’s situation personal. And isn’t our God a personal God? Jesus affirmed, “do not commit adultery,” but when pharisees brought a woman who was caught in adultery to be stoned according to the biblical laws he says, “Whoever has no sin can cast the first stone.” It’s not always a simple answer.
And whenever it is a choice between two bad options, neither one is chosen lightly. If there really are no better apparent options, and prayer hasn’t seemed to open new ones, a decision is made with great heaviness. There would need to be an understood gravity of Grace that surrounds the entire situation, for the people involved and the entire community to bear. And the weight would be a constant reminder of the heavy cost that grace carries for its people. Because love for each might be greater than cold consequences of general laws.
Like I said, I still don’t know which side I fall on with either of the two above issues. But what I do believe in is that each human life is different. And takes specific attention to reach for the best of all possible situations in a very broken world.
Policy SHOULD answer most of the situations in question, and is usually good enough to determine the right decision, but sometimes it isn’t always about what’s right. Because sometimes neither option is fully right. It’s a broken world. It may be a decision of which option is less wrong
Raw Spoon, 12-7-17